May 31, 2011

Books Read in May


Okay! Update time!

You can see my running list of books read so far in my Books of 2011 tab in the navigation bar above, so I'll just run a tally here:

Books read this month: 20
Books read so far: 87
Out Do Yourself Challenge (2011/2010 ratio by this month): 87/47
Out Do Yourself Challenge so far:  87/121
100+ Challenge: 87/100
Aussie YA Challenge: 5/6
Contemporary Romance: 8/10
Historical Romance Challenge: 7/12
YA Reading Challenge: 40/50

And that's my month in books!

What say you?Alex

May 30, 2011

Book Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

At First Sight: Once, Pierce was a slightly underachieving student of the Westport Academy for Girls, with a rich father, a dotting mother and a best friend. But then she died... and came back to life and nothing was ever the same.

After an 'incident' that got her expelled from Westport Academy, Pierce and her newly divorced mother Deb move to Isla Huesos, Florida- Deb's hometown - so they can have a fresh start, hoping things will be better there. And in some ways, things are a bit better as Pierce makes friends with her cousin Alex and Kayla, a girl in one of her classes.

But, on the other hand, being in Isla Huesos means she's in John Hayden's domain. John, the guy who meant to keep her in the underworld with him when she died, the one who always shows up when she most needs him... the guy who wants her back.

Second Glance: I have to say that I don't think the 'official' summary for Abandon captures it very well, it somehow doesn't really captures the essence of John or of Pierce.

Abandon is a re-telling of the Hades/Persephone myth, one of my favorites, so you'll understand that I'll be a bit hard on this one. In general terms, I really liked it but I somehow expected a bit more from Meg Cabot.  

Pierce isn't as engaging a narrator as I've come to expect from Meg's, part of it is what she has been through and the fact that she tends to disengage from the world around her as a result, but I liked her otherwise - I think that Meg does shows glimpses of what Pierce really is like in the way she cares for her mom and her uncle and for people in general.

And John is a big mystery,  but I liked him from the start - even if, and maybe because, he was so moody - he does play the tortured hero well and I liked him, truly liked him. And the parts where Pierce and John were together were awesome because that's when Pierce felt more alive to me, and because there is lots of tension between them. 

But, and here is where the buts start, they weren't together nearly enough, and when they were, for the most part, they just talked. Once they stop talking and start acting, things got better, but it happened late in the book. As I said, there was a lot of talking, a lot of exposition and though I do understand why - this being the first book of the series - I wanted a little bit more out of it.

Bottom Line: I really liked Abandon, John and Pierce even if I didn't fall in love with them as I sort of expected. The story does end in a very cliffhanger-y note, and I can't wait to read Underworld, mostly because I do hope there is more romance in that one. Do I recommend it? Yup, but be warned it might not be exactly what the 'official' summary says.

Favorite Quote: "I knew I couldn’t blame any of that on John. It’s only in fairy tales that princesses can afford to wait for the handsome prince to save them. In real life, they have to bust out of their own coffins and do the saving themselves."

May 29, 2011

At the Movies: Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed
Rachel has always been the good girl while her best friend Darcy is the wild one. On the night of her 30th birthday, Rachel strays from the good girl path and ends up sleeping with Darcy's fiancé Dex, complicating everything. 

The wedding is still on and neither Dex not Rachel are prepared to make any choices regarding their relationship. Rachel wants Dex but wants to stay friends with Darcy, and Dex thinks he has gone too far down the road with Darcy to call off the wedding, much as he can't get Rachel out of his head. 

I recently read the book, and I have to say that Something Borrowed the movie was pretty faithful to the book, with only very slight variations - like Ethan, Rachel and Darcy's homeboy being more in the picture than he is in the book. 

And I have to say that Ethan was pretty much the only person I liked in this whole movie. In the book, I sort of liked Rachel and Dex, but in the movie they both came off as completely spineless. Darcy was mean as ever but she wasn't fantastically mean, so it was rather bland. Bitchy, but bland. 

I found the movie slow and not very funny save for Ethan, so I give it a C-


May 27, 2011

Retro Friday (15): The Scarlet Letterman by Cara Lockwood

Retro Friday
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time! 

This week I chose The Scarlet Letterman by Cara Lockwood, you can check out my original review here.

Scarlet Letterman

At First Sight: Miranda Tate is back at Bard Academy for her second semester of sophomore year. Things should be good this time around, as she is now the official girlfriend of one Ryan Kent - the star of the basketball team, and one of the most popular guys at Bard. Miranda even has Ryan's jacket to prove it. 

But Bard wouldn't be Bard if things were easy. First, people are speculating about how far Miranda went (or let Ryan go) to get  the jacket. Miranda's nemesis Parker is trying to get her in trouble. And she hasn't heard from Heathcliff in weeks, but that isn't stopping her from constantly thinking about him, even with Ryan as her boyfriend. 

Then, to top it all off, there is a man stalking the woods surrounding Bard and attacking people... a man that could very well be Heathcliff.

Second Glance: The Scarlet Letterman picks up a few weeks after the ending of Wuthering High and, by now, the cat is out of the bag and Miranda knows who the teachers really are. 

But that is only one of the many secrets being kept at Bard Academy, and there is a new mystery at school and the gang - Miranda, Blade, Hanna and Samir -get together to solve it and save the day. 

The structure of the book is quite similar to that of the first one, but I still liked it. I find the characters so engaging and fun, like they are my friends, so I had a great time hanging out with them once again. I love how the books are so literary and cleaver. And I confess that the first time I read i, I had now clue who the baddie was, and that was awesome.

I just wished there was more Heathcliff.

Bottom Line: Funny and fresh, I love the Scarlet Letterman, perhaps not as much as I love Wuthering High, but I still raced through it, excited to get to the end. And I think Cara Lockwood does a great job balancing the fun, the mundane aspects of school and the mystery.

Favorite Quote: They are all too spoilery!
starstarstarstar1/2Personal Favorite

May 26, 2011

Book Review: The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It by Lisa Shanahan

The Year
At First Sight: After her sister Debbie drops the bombshell that she's marrying her boyfriend of one month, things start to get a little crazy for fourteen year old Gemma Stone. 

She's asked to be a flower girl at the wedding, and to wear a swan costume. She gets asked by her crush to audition for the school play - even though she's sure that he otherwise doesn't know who she is, and if she famously throws up when she has to speak in public - and catches the eye of Raven, one of the De Head boys. 

The De Heads are infamous in Gemma's little suburb. Once Mr. De Head blew up the fountain commemorating town's founder; the whole family is considered delinquents in training, and the boys are all named after birds - Crow, Magpie, Raven, Robin and Sparrow.

Everything comes together in the time leading to her sister Debbie's animal themed wedding. Everything... even heartbreak.

Second Glance: Otherwise know as My Big Birkett, The Sweet, terrible, glorious year I truly, Completely Lost It wasn't exactly the book I expected it to be. I'm actually not sure what I expected if I'm to be completely honest. I liked Gemma from the start, she's funny and a very fluid narrator, but I wasn't entirely in love with the story.

I liked Raven when he first showed up, he is one of those characters that exude attitude, but I didn't like Nick - Gemma's crush - for example. Jody, Gemma's best friend, was fun but not that developed, and so on. So the book felt a little uneven at times.

Bottom Line: Not my favorite Aussie read of the year so far, but a nice book all the same.

Favorite Quote: "In my family, when anyone rides the wave of their emotions, we say they're chucking a birkett. When the emotion drives out all common sense, we say they're chucking a big one. The telltale signs are: flaming cheeks, shortness of breath, bulging eyes and a prolonged illogical outburst."

May 25, 2011

An Interview with Tasha from Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Book

Armchair BEASo, as part of Armchair BEA I got to interview Tasha @ Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Book - and I recommend you check her blog, she's so very eclectic but cool. Anyway, I asked her a few questions and now I get to share her answers.

1) Describe yourself in ten words or less!
longing for love –
I place a single strawberry
in my mouth
--Masajo Suzuki

2) Tell us something about your blog?
The header is a detail of a painting by George Seurat.


3) What's the book you're eagerly awaiting for this 2011?
The only book I was super-excited about was Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning, which came out in January.

4) What has been your favorite book so far (that you read, doesn't have to had been published in 2011)?
My favorite book is Jane Eyre.

5) What do you do when you're not blogging?
Read and write, mostly. I also like to ski and bake.

6) What time of the day do you like best for blogging? and For reading?
Any time I can get a few free hours in.

7) What would you do if you could do anything in the world, for one day?
I don't know, go into the secret Vatican Archives. Ha! Oh, Dan Brown....

8) Tell us three things no one would ever guess about yourself?
Um, I like to watch boxing, I don't know how to swim, and The Serpent's Kiss is the worst movie I have ever seen. EVER.

9) Anything else you would like to add?
Why is a raven like a writing desk?

10) Bonus round... what's your favorite:
Movie? Thunderheart
animal? Octopus
Ice cream flavor? Mint chocolate chip
food? Miso soup
song? Too many to choose from.

Thanks to Tasha for this fun interview!


For Armchair BEA I was interviewed by Tasha @ Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Book.
And by fellow Latin (and awesome) blogger Ella @ The Clock Monkey

May 24, 2011

The Best of 2011 -so far! (Armchair BEA)

Armchair BEAOkay, so it's day two of Armchair BEA! and today I'm going to talk about the best of 2011 -so far!

Incredible as it sounds, we are almost halfway done with this year and this definitely seems like a good time to catch up, doesn't it?

Now let's see...

So far this year has been amazing, and since I can never resist a list, that's exactly what I'll do!


Where she went
If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman. 
If I Stay was one of those books I put off forever, in part because I didn't like the original cover and I'm superficial like that. In any case, I was surprised to love these books as much as I did. Adam and Mia felt so real to me that I was able to love them but not like them at times, and cheer for them and want to smack them and just feel like they were my friends.

False Princess
This one was quite an unusual read for me, but did I love it! Sinda is an amazing character and a girl I would love to call my friend. I loved how she learns to be who she is and embraces her, and how that allows her to keep the things she loved from her former life. I was charmed by this book.

Others: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins, and North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

For the younger set:
This book is made out of magic and sweetness and sisterhood. Kat is such an endearing troublemaker and her sisters are so crazy but loving of one another, even if they drive each other crazy, which is really what sisterhood is all about

The Australian Triple Whammy!
Sure, I love kangaroos and koala bears and I even own a plushie wombat (yeah, you read that right!), and I love the awesomeness that is my friend and blog buddy Kylie @The Talking Teacup, but nothing prepared me for the emotional punch that Aussie authors gave me during the first months of the year.
Piper son
This was, I think, the first book I read this year and boy if it didn't punch me in the gut. Tom Mackee and his family felt so much like they were my own people and I ached and hurt for them, and I laughed and cheered them on. Few books come as close to perfection as The Piper's Son does, never mind that 'perfect' is a note that Melina Marchetta hits time and again.

Good Oil
Originally published in Aussie land in 2010, and landing on my paws by a sheer fluke of fate, this book blew me away. Amelia and Chris might just well be two of the most real Young Adults ever written. Imperfect, crazy and so amazing.

I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did -as I don't actually like the beach all that much and I know next to nothing about surfing - but this book started quiet but amazing and it made me feel like I had been on the shoes of each one of the Starfish sisters at one point or another. These four girls grabbed such a hold in my heart that I don't think I'll ever forget them.


This isn't a new author, just a new to me author, but I loved her stories about the Leigh brothers and the women who loved them. They are amazing americana/western romances and I love them for it. Not to mention the they did make me cry like a baby. 

Friday's child
This book is very old fashioned, but so incredibly funny. Kitten is one of my favorite heroines ever, even if she's very naive and inexperienced. I never expected to laugh out loud with a book first published in 1944, but Georgette Heyer's humor is the real deal and it carries.

While writing this, I noticed I haven't read all that much romance this year, I need to rectify that. I'm surprised I've not been blown away by any contemporary romances!! The only one that has even come close to be a good contemporary for me is Hungry for You by Lynsay Sands, which technically is a paranormal.

What do I expect to love in the coming months?
Supernaturally by Kiesten White, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (I'm finally going to read it), Overbite by Meg Cabot.

Well, that's me, what about you?

Mini Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Near Witch
The Deal: Lexi lives in the town of Near. Her life is a bit difficult - her dad is dead, her uncle is disapproving and her mom works too much - but she loves her mom and little sister Wren, and she is happy enough.

But when a stranger arrives to the town of Near, everyone is suspicious. Near and the moors that surround it aren't exactly the type of place people visit, so it's a very closed community. And then, the children of Near start to vanish from their beds, and Cole, the new guy, becomes the prime suspect.

Only that Lexi is sure he isn't to blame, and eventually they go in search of the missing children.

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying that I don't usually read books like The Near Witch, though what drew me to it was that it sounded more like a fairy tale than straight fantasy. 

The writing is absolutely beautiful, so evocative without being overly flowery. And I could feel almost immediately the love Lexi had for her family, particularly for her sister Wren - who made me smile from the start, she's such a well-written, adorable child. 

Now, I did have time sticking to the story for long periods of time. I don't know why but I did, and I really had to push myself for a while. Not that it's in anyway bad, it's just the way I felt.

Still, it was so nicely written and I loved the characters. 

May 23, 2011

Welcome to Armchair BEA!

Armchair BEAHello everyone!!!

Today is the kick off of Armchair BEA -and event aimed for those who, for whatever reason, were unable to attend BEA this year. 

So, for those who are just stopping by thanks to Armchair BEA... Welcome, Welcome to another day at A Girl, Books and Other Things; and allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Alex - as in Alejandra Marisol - and I'm a girl who is obsessed with books, movies and TV. I write whenever I can - it seems to me like I'm always writing something - and read pretty much the rest of the time.

I hold a degree in biology (with a focus on water), and I'm certified to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages; but I'm currently unemployed and living with my parents, my sister Boo and our dog, named after The Godfather's, Rocco Lampone.

Few people outside from this blog actually call me Alex, which is weird because it is my given name. Most people call me Mary or Sol, or Baby or Punky (for some unfathomable reason). Elsewhere in the internet universe I'm known as Clavie -and yeah, it can be confusing, but for the time being just call me Alex or Clavie and I'll answer to you.

I'm a blogger outside of the US, hence my not doing actual BEA -what with being unemployed and the costs of air fare... and the fact that I don't really like traveling... 

Anyway, in the blog I review the occasional movie in the At the Movies section, and comment on TV from time to time in As Seen on TV, but mostly I focus on books! I read romance and YA in a variety of sub-genres and I like it that way.

And that's me in one hyper nutshell.

May 22, 2011

At the Movies: Chalet Girl

Chalet Girl
Two years ago, Kim was a champion skateboarder with a brilliant career ahead of her, but it all ground to a halt when her Mom was killed in a car crash after one of her competitions, and she hasn't been able to skate ever since. Instead, she spends her days at a dead-end job at a fast food joint trying to keep herself and her dad above water. 

When she gets offered a well paid job in Austria, the money is too good to pass so she packs her bags and leaves to work as a chalet girl - the person who takes care of the house and attends to the chalet's owners whenever they visit - even though she's worried about leaving her dad. 

There, responsible Kim gets to loosen up a little thanks to her new friend and fellow employee Georgie and other assorted friends. And she also discovers snowboarding, channeling her former skateboarding passion and skill into a new medium, and she even decides to enter a big snowboarding competition with a hefty sum for prize. 

She also meets Jonny, the chalet owner's son, who is on the verge of getting engaged to his longtime girlfriend regardless of his cold feet and the fact that the most he gets to know Kim, the more doubts he has. 

I waited for months to see this movie and I'm so glad I did! Chalet Girl is a sweet romantic comedy that pretends nothing more than making you have a good time. I had never seen Ed Westwick on anything other than Gossip Girl and I was surprised at how likable he was as Jonny, he's a pretty good actor. And I've loved Felicity Jones since her days in The Worst Witch, and I adore her in Northanger Abbey

This is a quiet, funny movie in the style of a good, old fashioned rom com and I really liked it, so I give it a B+


May 21, 2011

Cover Love #22 - Overbite

Look what I saw while checking out my book obsessions!!

Overbite is the sequel to Insatiable by Meg Cabot (which was one of my favorite reads last year), and I can't wait to read it.

Summary (from Amazon):
Meena Harper has a special gift, but it’s only now that anyone’s ever appreciated it. The Palatine Guard—a powerful secret demon-hunting unit of the Vatican—has hired her to work at their new branch in Lower Manhattan. With Meena’s ability to predict how everyone she meets will die, the Palatine finally has a chance against the undead.
Sure, her ex-boyfriend was Lucien Anton­escu, son of Dracula, the prince of darkness. But that was before he (and their relationship) went up in flames. Now Meena’s sworn off vampires for good . . . at least until she can prove her theory that just because they’ve lost their souls doesn’t mean demons have lost the ability to love.
Meena knows convincing her co-workers—including her partner, Über-demon-hunter Alaric Wulf—that vampires can be redeemed won’t be easy . . . especially when a deadly new threat seems to be endangering not just lives of the Palatine, but Meena’s friends and family as well.
But Meena isn’t the Palatine’s only hope. Father Henrique—aka Padre Caliente—New York City’s youngest, most charming priest, has also been assigned to the case.
So why doesn’t Meena—or Alaric—trust him?
As she begins unraveling the truth, Meena finds her loyalties tested, her true feelings laid bare . . . and temptations she never even imagined existed impossible to resist.
This time, Meena may finally have bitten off more than she can chew.
 Can't wait to read more about Alaric, I loved him last time.
Love, Alex

May 20, 2011

Retro Friday (14): The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot

Retro Friday
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time! 

This week I chose The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot.

Boy Next Door
Current Cover
At First Sight: Gossip columnist Melissa Fuller was late for work again, but this time she had a pretty good reason: she found her next door neighbor -an old lady of about 80 years of age - face down on the carpet and she had to call the police. 

This not only landed her in hot water at work but also left her in charge of a Great Dane called Paco until Mrs. Friedlander's grandson Max can be located. Only that Max is too busy shacking up with a super model to return to NYC to tend to his grandmother, so instead he blackmails his former college roommate John Trent into pretending to be Max and taking care of the dog. 

John isn't happy with this plan, but he does owe Max so he agrees to the charade... only to be enchanted by Mel once the meet... only that she has no clue who he really is!

Second Glance: The Boy Next Door is the first of Meg Cabot's novels told entirely through emails - I think it was one of the first ever to do this - and it's just so much fun. 

Original Cover
Not a lot of people know this, but the book was first posted free at her Author's website ( for a long while (that's where I read it first) before being turned into an actual book. 

The book is funny, full of pop culture and a very quick read. It is also very New York City and very much a book of the 90's - this was the beginning of emails as part of every day culture, you must remember and there are so many cute little details from back then woven into the story.

Bottom Line: A quick romantic comedy of mistaken identities, emails and dogs, The Boy Next Door remains a lovely story to this day.