September 30, 2010

Series Review - Switching Places by Christina Dodd

Okay, it isn't a long series, more like a duology but felt like reviewing them together.

ScandalousScandalous Again
After four years of traveling the continent, Lady Madeline, future duchess of Magnus, is finally back home. She rather not talk about why she left - a.k.a. her blotched engagement to a man she loved - and rather just wants to enjoy being home for a while. Not that it will be possible, since her loving but unreliable father lost her in a game of cards and now she's betrothed to a complete stranger.

Not one to sit on her hands and let things happen, Madeline sets out with her cousin/companion Eleanor, to find Mr. Knight, her new betrothed and set things to rights.

However, on her way there. Eleanor and Madeline learn that some notorious gentleman has organized The Game of the Century. Maddie, knowing that her father is likely to show up since he can't resist a good gamble, and that he'll probably gamble away her most prized possession, decides to switch places with Eleanor, sending her ahead to meet and dissuade Mr. Knight from marrying her while Maddie stays behind to intercept her father and make him leave.

Maddie is hired as a companion for young Lady Thomasin and goes to the house party organized in celebration of The Game. Once there she comes face to face with the reason she left England: Gabriel Ansell, Earl of Campion.

Gabriel has his own agenda to be at the party but he's rather pleased that fate put Maddie back into his path, for he has many unresolved business with her and he shall have his revenge, one way or another.

KissOne Kiss From You
Miss Eleanor de Lacy has seen her share of her cousin Lady Maddie's crazy schemes and she's sure this one is the craziest one yet. However, she finds herself she's powerless to fight her off once Maddie decides to change places with her. So she's sent off to London, impersonating her cousin, to try to stall Maddie's unwanted betrothed.

Once in London, Eleanor meets Mr. Remington Knight - a.k.a. the man who won Maddie's hand in a game of cards - and finds herself semi-imprisoned in his house. Fabulously wealthy, Mr. Knight is intent on marrying the future duchess of Magnus and extract vengeance on her father, for he holds the entire de Lacy family responsible for the tragedies of his past.

However, Mr. Knight is quickly fascinated by this Lady Madelaine and will use anything and everything at his disposal to tie her to him. But, as the wedding day approaches and the real Maddie doesn't show up, Eleanor must decide how far will she take this masquerade and how much is she willing to risk to gain her heart's desire.

Okay, so I'm reviewing these two books together because they go together.

I just read them back to back and I have to say that they are both funny and entertaining. I felt more connected to Eleanor's story because I found Maddie a bit selfish at times but they were both nice heroines. In the hero department, however, I found Gabriel more charming than Remington - I liked his sense of humor more.

There is intrigue and romance in both these stories and they are good options to spend a nice afternoon reading.

September 28, 2010

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Phoebe Rothschild's life changed the moment she met Mallory Tolliver when they were both in seventh grade. That day, Phoebe made the choice of dumping her So-Called-friends and make Mallory her best friend.

Over four years, the girls became as close as sisters, sharing everything and anything, or so Phoebe thought. There were many things Mallory never told Phoebe, like the fact that she has a brother called Ryland who is coming to live with Mallory and her mother.

At first, Phoebe is hurt and confused by this information, but eventually decides to let this new person into her life as well, because it's important to Mallory.

Ryland is not like anyone Phoebe has ever known, and he soon gains a weird, inexplicable control over her, even though sometimes her common sense tells her there is something wrong.

Unknowingly, Phoebe has been at the heart of intrigue since the day she was born into the Extraordinary Rothschild family, and Mallory and Ryland are instrumental in this far reaching conspiracy with untold consequences.

What is more important, love or duty? Could someone as ordinary as Phoebe turn out to be the most extraordinary person of all?

Since I don't want to give too much away, I'm going to leave the summary there. Extraordinary is an interesting book about friendship and sense of self worth and self-esteem, about what makes someone be extraordinary - is it money? love? influence? status?. In the bottom line, I think it's a story about a girl saving herself.

But I had 3 main problems with the story itself.
The first one was characterization, particularly in the case of Ryland. Sure, he uses certain... magics to insinuate himself into Phoebe's life but he comes off as a douche the whole time. He's never charming or nice and even though Phoebe says he's intelligent I didn't see it; he always seemed to be a manipulative a-hole to me. I couldn't see why anyone sane would want to be around him, even with said magics - seriously, it's like he didn't even try to be appealing, I just didn't get how Phoebe was supposed to fall for him even with the whole magic-thing.

The other main problem I had was the pace. Sometimes it felt like there was a lot going on, or like we were finally reaching the climax of the story but at the same time the pace of the story was very stalled; I had a many "Get on with it, already!" moments, more than I would care for in a 350+ page book.

And, finally, the whole holocaust, Jewish, anti-antisemitic allusions would have been better if Werlin hadn't been so heavy handed with them. I can figure out my own parallels, metaphors and allegories by myself, thank you very much! I don't need the author to spell them out for me, it ended up sounding rather preachy.

But the story itself is very intriguing, the suspense is handled very well, and the secret and ultimate reason of why everything is happening kept me reading.
PS - I want to thank International Book Tours for the opportunity to read this book.
PS2 - The cover of the book is very pretty and does fit the story.

September 27, 2010

I'm interviewed at Book Crazy

Book Crazy has this awesome weekly feature where she interviews other bloggers.
I was lucky enough to be interviewed for this week's feature, and you can read my interview here.

Thanks Book Crazy!

September 26, 2010

Book Gossip #25 - Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

Friday HarborLisa Kleypas just dropped the first excerpt for her October 26th release Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor.

This book launches a new contemporary series set at the San Juan Islands.

You can check out the excerpt at Lisa Kleypas' site

Oddly enough, I haven't found a good summary of the book.

September 25, 2010

Hot Finsh by Erin McCarthy

Hot FinishSuzanne and Ryder Jefferson went around the marriage track once before but it sort of ended in disaster.

Now, after 2 years of divorce, Suzanne is broke and turns to wedding planning to help her pay the bills - even though Ryder offered to help her - but her first client is an ultimate Bridezilla putting more and more stress on her life. Which is why she doesn't need the added shock of finding out she and Ryder never divorced.

Finding out that they aren't divorced, Ryder isn't sure how he feels about the whole thing, and he does resent that Suzanne keeps talking about their marriage like it was hell because, to him, it wasn't.

Once they loved each other very much and, with the backdrop of a Nightmare Wedding, they sort of start wondering exactly where they went wrong and if they could make it work again.

I was really looking forward to Suzanne and Ryder's story because they feature a lot in the two previous books of the Fast Track series because it has always been obvious that there were still feelings there. It was really nice to dig into their relationship and see how Hot Finish turned out to be a story about second chances.

Both Suzanne and Ryder are a bit of the guy of the relationship, neither of them is comfortable with her feelings and that sort of makes them muddle things too many times - I did have a Fix it Up Already! moment with them - they are just so bad to express real emotion, and it sort of has to do with the toxicity of their previous relationship and the fact they DON'T LISTEN!

But, over all, it was a nice book.

Favorite Quote:
“Did I ever tell you the difference between a Northern fairy tale and a Southern one?”
“What’s the difference?”
“A Northern one starts ‘once upon a time,’ while a Southern one starts ‘y’all ain’t going to believe this shit.’ ”

September 24, 2010

Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy

Hard and FastTy McCordle - stock car driver - has always sort of gone for the same type of Barbie-look-a-like girl. So he's a bit surprised when he finds himself attracted to Imogen Wilson - a friend of a friend's wife - who's smart as hell and always speaks her mind.

Imogen is always a bit uneasy around Ty, mostly because she also finds herself inexplicably attracted to him. Her uneasiness grows when she decides to base her sociology doctorate thesis on a book that promises to help any girl marry a stock car race driver in 6 easy steps.

But when things conspire to throw them together, and a few hot kisses later, Imogen finds herself spending more and more time with Ty, immersing herself in his world while struggling with a thesis that has never finished clicking for her.

Okay, so Hard and Fast is the second book of the Fast Track series and I was looking very much forward to reading it because I really liked the first one (Flat-Out Sexy). And I liked Imogen and Ty but I didn't find the book as charming as the first one.

They sort of plunge into a relationship while trying to work out their different insecurities and personal hang ups. One thing I did like, though, is that Imogen doesn't beat about the bush about why she has that dating manual when Ty finds it - which could have let to awkward and misunderstandings but they handled it like adults.

The book is over all good.

September 22, 2010

Harry Potter Week at Reading With Tequila

HP week
Just letting you guys know that Harry Potter Week has started over at Reading with Tequila, featuring guest entries about why some of us love (or hate) some of the characters.

Go share the HP LOVE!


September 21, 2010

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy SummerOnce, Anna made a happy threesome with her two best friends - brother and sister- Matt and Frankie. But in the year since Matt's sudden death, things have been off. Yet, Anna finds herself planning for the Absolute Best Summer Ever with Frankie, for their stay in Zanzibar Beach.

Wild and boy crazy Frankie comes up with a plan so Anna can have the perfect summer fling while at the beach. What Frankie doesn't know is that Anna already had that perfect fling, that it happened the year before with none other than Matt. But that's a secret Matt took with him to the grave thanks to the promise he extracted from Anna that he would be the one to tell Frankie.

But, at a beach haunted by Matt's presence, Anna and Frankie might just find the courage to let go and move on.

Okay, I have very mixed feelings about this book. I never grew to like Frankie and I ended up thinking that Matt was a bit cruel in making Anna keep this secret, cruel and kind of cowardly because he not only robbed them of time together but he also sort of robbed Anna of her right to grieve him as she needed to.

Anna I liked and I liked Sam and I liked the setting, but my anger toward Frankie and Matt sort of seeped into the rest of the story. That being said, Twenty Boy Summer is a beautifully crafted story, the language feels lovely, rich and evocative and that's something I really liked about the book.

Also loved the cover, it suits the book perfectly.

September 20, 2010

Wed Under Wester Skies

Wed western skiesWed Under Western Skies is an anthology including 3 stories by 3 authors, all three stories are historical Americana set in the West. I'm going to do short reviews of each story.

Abandoned by Carolyn Davidson tells the story of Elizabeth Travis, a young woman who was left half dead after a group of Indians raided the wagon trail where she traveled with her father.

Elizabeth was found the next day by Cameron Montgomery, a scout for another wagon trail making its way to Oregon. Cam is immediately taken by Elizabeth, even in her bruised state, and takes her with him. Vowing in an instant to keep her safe forever. There is one problem though, Elizabeth doesn't remember who she is.

I liked Abandoned, it was a quick read and I did sort of believe the connection between Cam and Elizabeth and, over all, was a very well rounded story. Rating 3.5/5

Almost a Bride by Cheryl St. John brings us back to Copper Creek, where we get re-acquainted with Charmaine Renlow - from both Sweet Annie and His Second Hand Wife (which I LOVE). Over the years, Charmaine has seen all of her friends marry and start their own families, patiently waiting for her beau to finally propose, but he has been dragging his feet.

Jack Easton just moved to the outskirts of Cooper Creek so his young son can go to school with the rest of the local children, he has no intention to bring a woman into his life - he was happy with his first wife, but doesn't want to marry again - he mostly wants to be left alone. But, while working together on a project for the school, Charmaine and Jack are thrown together and they can help to be a bit fascinated about each other.

I loved Almost a Bride, my only complaint is that it was so short! I had been waiting to read Charmaine's story for a long time (and it was a big to do for me to get my paws on this book since it's out of print!!!) and I really think she deserved her own book. Jack was a nice hero for her. But yeah, definitely wished for more! Rating 4/5.

His Brother's Bride by Jenna Kernan tells the story of Nate Justice - owner of a hardware shop and a saloon in Colorado city - who reluctantly marries his brother's widow, Clara, to take care of her and of his niece Kitty. Clara is quite desperate so she agrees to Nate's marriage proposal and moves all the way from New York to Colorado. He doesn't think he's good enough for her and she doesn't think she's good enough for him either.

And that's why I didn't care much for this story. From the start they both feel inadequate due to things that happened in their pasts and that's understandable but it also got a bit annoying how many times. Clara lives terrified of her past coming back, but well, won't spoil. Rating 2.9/5

Over all

September 18, 2010

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sara McLean

9 rulesLady Calpurnia Hartwell has an impeccable reputation and a very dull existence. Ever since her disastrous first season she had started to resign herself to the fact that she would never be the belle of the ball, that she would probably never meet the man of her dreams or, that if she did, said man would never feel the same way about her.

Particularly because she, in fact, met the man of her dreams at 18, the notorious Gabriel St. John, marquess of Ralston during that first season. He was kind to her, but minutes later she saw him embracing a beautiful woman and Callie realized that Ralston wasn't nearly as affected by her as she was by him.

Years went by and now, at 28 and on the wake of her younger sister's engagement, Callie decides that her pristine reputation is all good and well but is little to show for her life. So she decides to live a little and take risks, coming up with a list of 9 things she wants to do, 9 rules to break. The first item on her list is "Kiss someone - Passionately!" and the chosen one for this first momentous kiss is none other than Ralston.

Ralston, who earlier that day had found out he had a sister, is quite surprised when Callie shows up at his house and asks him to kiss her. In a flash, he realizes there is away in which both of them can get something they want: Callie can get her kiss and he can get someone to help him introduce his sister to society.

So the two of them strike a bargain and Callie's quest to live a little starts.

I liked this one, I liked how Callie and Gabriel strike their bargain, and Callie is a truly endearing character. I didn't love the book, somethings never clicked for me, but over all Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake was a very nice read. I really liked most of the characters. Callie's brother and sister and Gabriel's brother and sister were lovely characters, bringing a lot of warm and fun into the story.

Favorite Quote: "If only others knew that lady Calpurnia Hartwell, proper, well behaved spinster, entreated deep-seated and certainly unladylike thoughts about fictional heroes,"

September 17, 2010

At the Movies: Saved!

SavedHere it comes! the last installment of Back to School Movies!!!


Mary is a devout Christian and believes that God has a plan and a reason for everything, so she tries to follow that plan, even when it tells her to have sex with her boyfriend to cure him from his gay-tendencies, she goes and does it.

Only that her boyfriend gets sent to Mercy House - a sort of gay-no-more camp - and she ends up pregnant.

Soon, what promised to be a great year in Mary's life starts to turn sour, especially after her one-time-friend Hillary Faye (Mandy Moore) turns against her while Mary tries to hide her pregnancy. Luckily, Mary finds unexpected allies in Cassandra - the only Jewish student in the school - and Hillary Faye's brother.

And even though boys is the last thing Mary wants to think about, she can't help to think about Patrick - the pastor's son - who seems to want to be with her no matter what.

I know it sounds like I've said a few offensive things while trying to summarize this story but really, the movie isn't about that. It's not anti-christian or anti-gay or anti-anything. I've always thought it's about finding friends in unexpected places and coming to terms with what having faith really means.

The fact that it all happens during a school year, makes it good for back to school entertainment.
Personal Favorite Personal Favorite

September 14, 2010

As Seen on TV: Eagerly Awaiting for Fall!

Summer is nearly over - though it has been a very damp and cold summer this year here in my corner of the woods - and the hype for the Fall Season is getting to me. So here are the shows I'm eagerly awaiting for, this Fall.

As I've said before, Supernatural used this awesome show that I always forgot to watch. During the first three seasons I liked it if I remembered to watch it but I wasn't obsessed. Then, one night last year I couldn't sleep and I watched "Lazarus Rising", the first episode of season four. I was in love.

Season Five just took everything into the next level and was surprisingly funny. The struggle that Sam and Dean went through to re-build their friendship and brotherhood was awesome. The end of Season five was so satisfying... so much that I sort of can't imagine where they are taking this series next and I can't wait to see it all unfold before my eyes.

Big Bang TheoryThe Big Bang Theory
I'm a geeky girl at heart - I even got my biology degree to prove it! - and when I saw The Big Bang Theory it was like a match made in heaven. I love Penny and Sheldon (featured them in my favorite TV couples list, actually lots of these shows were in the list! *giggle*) and the effect they have with each other, for me they are the best of the show.

Last season was awesomely fun, and I can't wait to see Season 4, and Sheldon actually having a relationship! With a woman! (aside from Penny who's really more like his Mom).

How I Met Your MotherHow I Met Your Mother
This Series stole my heart when I caught a marathon in TV a few years ago. Since then I've followed Ted in his quest to find "The Mother" and just in generally living an awesome life.

I love the Robin Sparkles' episodes and whenever Barney comes into the scene. Marshall and Lily continue to entrain me and well, I do like Ted and his idealism, her quest to find love and everything he dreamed of.

Booth and Brennan and all the mysteries they try to solve - which are cool and all but, you know, not the point of the series - I love, love, love them. Can't wait for the day when they finally get together. Meanwhile I just like seeing Brennan being her emotionally constipated self and how Booth makes her confront those feelings she doesn't want o feel.

Plus, by now I have a real emotional investment with everyone else in the show, like Cam, Angela, Hodgins and Sweets, and the rotation of squints. From what I hear, there will be some shake ups coming to the Jeffersonian in the next season, and I'll be glued to the TV watching!

Modern FamilyModern Family
A mockumentary of what it means to be a family in the 21st Century. I admit I waited until mid-season to catch up with the first half of this series, I kept hearing it was great but I wasn't sure until I took the plunge. It took abo
ut 3 minutes before I was laughing and there has not been one episode where I haven't laughed like a maniac. Recently I showed the episodes to my sister and she loves it.

Three very different approaches to life and parenting, but they all got one thing in common: love.

Glee is my Love-Hate show, sometimes I love it sometimes I just want the episode to be over *cough*Madonna*cough*. But I watch it anyway because I love music and I love the way they sing - songs like Bad Romance or The Boys Is Mine, I only like when I hear them sung by the Glee Cast - and I love Sue Sylvester.

Plus this is one of the few shows my sister and I agree to watch together, and last Christmas I spent four days in Texas watching the series with my dear cousin Anabel and we all really bonded over it. This season I'm really looking forward to Kurt getting some loving and more from Santana and Britney, and to hear Puck sing more because I <3 his singing voice. Okay, so that's what I can't wait for this new season! What about you guys?