August 31, 2011

Books Read in August


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.

I already finished the Aussie YA Reading Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge and the Contemporary Challenge and the YA Reading Challenge! Also, this month I finished the Historical Romance Reading Challenge!!!! 

Books read this month: 18
Books read so far: 138
Out Do Yourself Challenge (2011/2010 ratio by this month): 138 /66
Out Do Yourself Challenge so far: 138 /121
Historical Romance Challenge: 12/12

Historical Romance (challenge aside): 31
Contemporary Romance: 34
YA (Aussie and otherwise): 63

And that's my month in books! I'm so glad I've finished my challenges!!!! Also, I just started working so sorry if my posts are a bit out of schedule!!!

What say you?Alex

August 29, 2011

Book Review: Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

At First Sight: For as far as she can remember, Posey has been in love with Liam Murphy, the guy who, over fifteen years ago, rolled into town - all bad attitude and good looks - and fell in love with the local princess Emma Tate, whom he eventually followed to California.

Now, Liam is back in town. A widower, he moves back to the East Coast so his fifteen year old daughter can be close to her grandparents. He's still as handsome as Posey remembers - and he still calls her Cordelia, which is her given name - and he still doesn't seem to care about her.

Liam doesn't want to date, doesn't want a fling. All he wants is to establish his custom bike business and keep his daughter safe from harm. His marriage to Emma might not have been a fairy tale, but his daughter is the best thing Liam has ever done and  he won't stop at anything to ensure her safety - much to his daughter, Nicole, annoyance.

Still, when circumstances - that mostly revolve around Liam's spying on Nicole and her boyfriend - keep bringing them together, Liam finds a strange comfort in Posey, who calls him out on his over-protectiveness, on his past behavior as God's Gift to Women (she even calls him that sometimes), and is the first person to tell him he sells himself short. 

Posey, meanwhile, is dealing with the fact that she's falling for Liam again, that her perfect cousin - and celebrity chef - Gretchen is coming to work at Posey's parents' restaurant; and that, lately, she has been thinking more and more about her birth mother, much as she loves her adoptive parents.

Second Glance: I was pleasantly surprised with Until There Was You, I often go up and down with Kristan Higgins' books, and I didn't particularly like the previous book (My One and Only). I liked Posey and her unusual profession -she owns a salvage yard - and Liam - who openly admits he's an hypocrite trying to protect his daughter from all the things he did with her mother when they were teenagers. 

In this book, I can see the progression of Ms Higgins' writing. She dabbles on the third person for the first time, and - also for the first time - she shows the hero's point of view. I really liked Liam, though he had plenty of hang ups and he wasn't particularly romantic all the time - though he does grasp the concept of 'The Big Gesture' - but he was nice, even with the bad boy rep. 

Posey was less neurotic than the usual Higgins heroine, and for once her family didn't suck - I didn't hate her mother, which is also a first - and I actually loved her interactions with her brother Henry and his partner Jon - they were funny, totally gay but not overdone, which I appreciate. Sadly, the dog in this book didn't play a big part, which was also different.

I did have a couple of hang ups, like I felt there were entirely too many characters (by chapter 3 there were over 15 names I was trying to remember) and some of them where just there, rather than serve a purpose -though I have an idea of on whom the next book is going to be, and if I'm right can I say: Exposition much?, but oh well. 

Also, it felt like it was much more Liam's story than Posey's and it was a fairly uneventful plot.

Bottom Line: A quiet book where nothing much happens, Until There Was You is, none the less, a good read to spend an afternoon. Fair warning, though, this is not a plot driven book, so you gotta like the characters to like the story.  This book will be released in October 2011.

Favorite Quote:
"Yeah, well, this nice boy is not nice. Trust me. I've been a boy. You have no idea how not nice we are." - Liam

"Hypocritical? Absolutely. The essence of parenthood."

"I was you age once, too." Liam said.
"I'm aware of that, sir."
"I know what you think about." 
"I'm sorry." 
"You can think about it. You can't do it." 
- Liam & Tanner (Nicole's boyfriend)

August 28, 2011

At the Movies: Crazy Stupid Love

Cal's wife Emily asks him for a divorce over dinner, after 20 years of marriage. Having been with just one girl since he was 17, Cal doesn't know what to do with his life as a divorced man. 

One night, he meets ladies-man Jacob, who know all there is to know about casual sex and, for whatever reason, he decides to take Cal under his wing, teaching him the fun aspects of being a bachelor. 

But then, Jacob meets Hannah, the first girl to turn him down in a long time, and he's intrigued but lets it slide; until they meet again and what starts as a hook up ends up in the first real-relationship he has ever had. 

Meanwhile, Cal's son Robbie (who is 13) is struggling not only with his parents' separation but with the fact that he's in love with his 17 year old baby sitter... who happens to be in love with someone else. 

Crazy Stupid Love surprised me a lot, I was expecting a lighthearted chick flick but it wasn't really that. It was more about the guys: Cal, Jacob and Robbie, as they tried to find their way around their relationships in there lives, and the people they loved. 

It was sweet, the pace at the beginning was a bit off at the beginning, but it picked up as it went and I ended up enjoying it a lot. I don't think this is a laugh out loud movie, but I liked it. I liked the twist - which I didn't see coming at all, even though someone had told me there was a twist!! - but I could have done without the last 'big speech'. 

In any case, I liked it. And I give it a B+

Love, Alex

August 26, 2011

Retro Friday (20) - You Maybe by Rachel Vail

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! 

For this week, I wanted to give a book I owned but hadn't liked so much a second chance, just for kicks. So I chose You, Maybe by Rachel Vail.

You MaybeThe Deal: Josie is neither popular nor unpopular high school junior; she has two best friends, and a boy who could maybe be more than a friend... and she's possibly the only girl in the school not in love with Carson Gold - the post popular guy at school.

That's until Carson notices her and suddenly, after a couple of after school hook ups, they are an item, and Josie finds herself on half of the IT couple, with all the good and bad it entails.

My Thoughts: I'm sorry to say "You Maybe" was a bit of a book-fail for me. Technically, the book isn't bad, the writing is actually very good, but I didn't care for the characters and it all felt very two dimensional.

The way Josie falls for Carson and becomes another Carson fangirl annoyed me, the causal approach everyone took toward 'hooking up' bugged me no end - Josie is making out with Carson one day and with her friend the other (because she and the friend were in kind of a defacto relationship, even though Josie thought all they did was kiss, which is kind of ridiculous if you ask me).

Josie's friends weren't a win either, part of me felt like they were the standard-somewhat promiscuous-outgoing-friend, and the standard-shy-genius-friend, and beyond that they had no personality to me.

Anyway, everything felt kind of flat to me. The writing was very good, I just didn't like the characters, other than Josie's mom, I like her though she's in like 1% of the book.

Favorite Quote: "Well?" Carson asked, "What do you believe in? Chemistry? Cold hard science?"
"Chocolate, books and true love," I answered.
He smiled at me, "Me too, at least chocolate and books. Love is a brat."

August 25, 2011

Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Everlasting
At First Sight: It has been 10 years since Lena, Bridget, Tibby and Carmen lost their beloved sisterhood pants in Greece, and life has taken them in far different directions.

Carmen is now an actress in New York, with a regular gig on a court room drama, an expensive loft apartment and a TV executive fiance whom no one really likes.  Lena is living as an starving artist in Providence, stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for something - or someone - she just can't name. Bee is in San Francisco, living with her long-time boyfriend Eric and going through a string of apartments and jobs without really settling anywhere. And Tibby is somewhere in Australia, living with Brian.

Then, out of the blue, Tibby calls in for a reunion in Greece, arranging everything so the girls can go there. But upon their arrival, they are struck by a sudden tragedy that leaves them reeling in its aftermath; sending them back to their regular lives more lost than ever.

Second Glance: (There might be spoilers in this section, fair warning)
I was on the fence about reading this book because I could never make it through book 4 (Forever in Blue), but James (of Book Chic) told me to give it a go, so I decided to try it, just to see if I could understand everything... next thing I knew, I had finished the book.
Sisterhood Everlasting has some of them same sweetness of the original Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. So much time has passed, and life has pulled the girls so far apart, that it's a little like getting to know them all over again. Yes, they are essentially the same , and some lessons they just can't seem to learn - and yeah, that can be a little frustrating - but I liked it anyway, because I think life can be like that, and it can be devastating.

My favorite storyline was Lenna and Kostos' even though it was plagued with false starts and near misses, and that did drive me nuts after a while, but I have always had a soft spot for these two. Bee and Carmen drove me CRAZY, but they had their moments when I didn't hate them. And Tibby, well, her storyline was a bit heartbreaking all around, but good too, as what happens in the book is largely her masterpiece.

Also, the writing style is a little different than from previous books, mostly in the distribution of the chapters. In this book, each chapter often had a couple of changes in POV and these could be a bit jarring from time to time. 

Bottom Line:  I kind of loved Sisterhood Everlasting; and I wasn't expecting it at all, but I think that fans of the series will find it quite satisfying. But, I don't really recommend Sisterhood Everlasting if you don't have at least some knowledge of what happened during the first books of the series.

Favorite Quote:
 - "You get older and you earn there is one sentence, just four words long, and if you can say it to yourself it offers more comfort than almost any other. It goes like this...?Ready"
- "Ready."
-"At Least I Tried."  (Doxie and Lena)

"You have to have some faith, Effie had said. But Effie hadn't meant faith in Kostos, Lena realized. Not faith that Kostos would be there to meet her, and throw his arms around her, and want her more than anyone else. Effie meant faith in herself. Faith that even if he didn't come, she would be all right. She had to have faith not only in trying, but in failing too. Was she strong enough to fail? Was she strong enough not to?"
starstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

August 24, 2011

List Maniac 23 - Books About Sisters


I've got a sister (Boo) and I large extended family, most of which is female, so sisterhood is something I get, and I love, and, as a consequence, I love books about sisters, so, for this month's List Maniac I chose to write about awesome books about sisters.

KatWith magic and a dash of Cinderella, this story is all about the relationship between Kat and her two older sisters; and it's funny and sweet. Plus it shows that you don't have to get along all the time to have a great, loving relationship with your sisters. Is in this aspect - magic and all - that Kat, Incorrigible is it's most believable.

The Key To the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
This is a book about three very different sisters trying to cope with the devastating loss of their beloved father. They had very distinct personalities and they often take each other for granted and disappoint each other; but when it matters the most, Brooks, May and Palmer definitely support one another, and their bond asserts itself, powerful as ever.

I believe I have talked about how much I love this book, how this was the story that helped me understand my relationship with my sister just a little better, and it means the world to me because of that. Addie and Meryl are completely different - one cowardly, the other brave - but both of them are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the other is happy.

There are many things I love about these two books, like the fact they were written by Meg Cabot or that it's so, so funny; or the fact that Meg Cabot completely surprised me by going THERE in Ready or Not. But the thing I love the most is Lucy and Sam. Sam vaguely covets Lucy's boyfriend for a while, and Lucy is always trying to steal everybody's thunder; but there is a lot of humor and warmth between them and they have so many "it only happens between sisters" moments!

Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley
Girl OverboardThis isn't, perhaps, the most obvious choice of a book to put on this list, but family is such a major theme through out the story. Grace and Syrah are half sisters, who have never gotten along. Grace is much older and she's convinced Syrah is a spoiled brat who didn't have to suffer like she did while their father was getting rich. And Syrah thinks Grace resents her because Grace's parents split and their dad married her much younger Mom. But, through a set of incidents, they realize that they aren't as different from each other as they thought, and that it's never too late to love and befriend your sister. Plus, there is an extra set of sisters, Lillian and Amanda, who were just awesome. 

So, that's me and my love for sister-books, what about you? do you know of other books about sisters?

Love, Alex.

August 23, 2011

Tune in Tuesdays #4 (The Foreign Edition)

Tune In Tuesdays

 This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads & showcases music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.

I've decided that the fourth Tuesday of ever month I'm going to post a song in a language other than English, just for fun!

For this week I chose the song Gloria by Umberto Tozzi, who recorded it in 1979. It will probably sound familiar to some of you because Laura Branigan did a cover of it, which eventually ended in Flashdance

So, what song plays for you?

August 22, 2011

Book Review: Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Gorgeous Cover!!
Warning!! This review might contain some spoilers regarding previous books in the series.
At First Sight: When we last saw Evie, she was finally getting the 'normal' life she had always yearned for, away from IPCA. Only that it didn't turn out quite as she expected: Gym class sucks, her job at the diner is tiresome and, with Lend away at college, her whole life in general is a little boring and lonely.

So when Raquel - her former boss - shows up, offering Evie a chance to work for IPCA again, Evie is reluctant but eventually agrees and gets paired up with Jack, a teenage human boy who can use the faerie paths.

Soon, as it always is when Faeries are involved, Evie's life is spiraling out of control: she's lying to Lend, ditching her Vampire friend Arianna and realizing she can't blindly follow IPCA's orders anymore; plus she's still worrying about who she is and how long she has to live.

Second Glance: Supernaturally is the second book following the adventures of Evie whom we met in the super awesome Paranormalcy (one of my favorite reads of 2010), and I honestly couldn't wait to get my paws on it as soon as I finished book one. 

In this installment, Evie is just trying to find her 'normal' and her home, unsure of what either of those mean. And she fears a future when Lend might not love her anymore, and that's kind of ruining everything. Working for IPCA makes her feel important, but it has it's own set of complications. And then there is Jack, who is sometimes a friend and sometimes just a pest; but whom has his own sad past and his own agenda.

Supernaturally is very different from Paranormalcy, but it's till made of awesome. This time around the plot is a little looser, more episodic, and it focus on Evie's growth as a person, rather than in a 'big bad' - though there is a bit of that too. I still love Evie and Lend, they are adorable together and I LOVE how Lend is kind of the perfect guy - and yes, I have a very sad crush on him right now (LOL)

Plus, even though it's not outright mentioned, i have the feeling that there is something really bad brewing at the edges of Evie's world, and I can't wait to find out what it is... though that means I have to wait a whole year for the third -and final - Evie adventure: Endlessly

Bottom Line: Though Supernaturally is slower in terms of pace and plot, I have to say that I really liked it. The humor was still there, and Evie is still a lovely narrator. My only complaint is that there should have been MORE LEND!

Favorite Quote: "I'm too mad to talk right now, and I love you too much to say anything I'll regret." - Lend (Seriously! How can anyone not love this guy?)

August 19, 2011

Retro Friday (19) - Bite Me If You Can

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! 

For this week I chose Bite Me If You Can by Lynsay Sands - book 6 of the Argeneau series -  I've been slowly making my way thought though this series and since I liked this one I decided to review it.

At First Sight: Leigh Gerard was walking home after closing her restaurant when she was attacked by two men who turned out to be  rogue vampires.

Turned against her will, she barely escaped dying at the hands of a trio of enforcers -the immortal's police - and was taken in by them to help her through her change.

Lucian Argeneau was the one most reluctant to help out the newly turned Leigh; since he has 'lived' for a few thousand years and he's quite weary of the world, much as his body seems to react to Leigh, he tells himself he isn't interested.

Until he gets stuck taking care of Leigh and realizes that, much as he might fight it, there is a real chance that Leigh - the first person to make him feel anything other than duty toward his family since the fall of Atlantis (oh yeah, he was around back then) - could be his lifemate.

Too bad that Leigh isn't looking for a relationship either - what with a disastrous marriage in her past and a deep seated mistrust of men - and that they people who attacked and turned Leigh still want to her and they will go to great lengths to take her back. 

Second Glance: I've slowly been making my way through these books and though I generally think they are okay, few of them stand out to me. Bite Me If You Can stood out. I really liked how everything happened, and I like Lucian because he always had a very strong personality.

And Leigh was likable, and smart and even though her past made her wary of men, she wasn't a man hater, and she wasn't afraid to tease Lucian.

I had a trouble with how everyone suddenly stopped respecting Lucian once he fell in love, seriously, like he wasn't the scariest immortal in the series so far! But oh well, it was a fun book.

Bottom Line: Bite Me If You is a funny, contemporary paranormal story, great to pass the time and just have fun.

August 18, 2011

MiniReview: Balancing Act by Patricia Davids

Balancing ActsThe Deal: Cheryl Steele planned to just make a small detour for her sister's wedding and leave Kansas and her past behind for good, focusing on her ballet tour and the part of her life. 

But her sister makes her promise to visit their childhood home, and taking that turn of the road results on Cheryl getting into an accident and landing in the care of Sam Hardin. 

Cheryl has a bad history with the Hardins, and the people of their small town, most of whom turned their backs on her mother and her whole family due to her father's misdeeds. 

However, living with Sam and his little daughters changes her perspective of things, making her stop and wonder, for the first time ever, if she was so focused on her career that she forgot to live.

My Thoughts: Balancing Act wasn't exactly what I was expecting, from the blurb I expected something different and the story turned out to be a little less complicated than I originally thought it would be. 

The story was mostly about Cheryl accepting her past and finally letting go, and stopping long enough to realize that not all people in the world are bad. It was also a little about Sam learning to trust again after his ex-wife left him and their two daughters because she just didn't want to live in a small town in the middle of nowhere. 
For me, the most delightful part of the story was the twins, Kayla and Lindy and their cat Bonkers, who were funny and acted like little girls. 

The romance was a bit watered down, I expected a little bit more of it, but it was, over all, an entertaining story, even if sometimes certain interactions and dialogue sounded a bit deliberate and scripted.

August 16, 2011

Tune in Tuesdays #3 (The 90's Edition)

Tune In Tuesdays

 This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads and showcases music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.

So, I missed the 90's edition last week because I had already scheduled the post :P but I decided to put it up today! And I chose the Backstreet Boys' Everybody, because they just bring me back. :)

So, What song Plays for You?

August 15, 2011

Book Review: Head in The Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

Head in the Clouds
Love the cover.
At First Sight: Adelaide Proctor quit her teaching job and went in search of the man that had been 'courting' her for the last few months. But when said man turned out to be a cad who failed to mention he was already married, Adelaide's dreams of a home and family of her own, crumbled. 

Not one to let herself fall into despair, Adelaide procures a new job and becomes the governess of a mute little girl named Isabella, daughter of a sheep rancher by the name of Gideon Westcott. 

Mr. Westcott is the third son of an English baron who came to Texas to try his luck at ranching, and is struggling to do her best by the little girl that was left in his care - Isabella is his ward, though he loves her as if she was her own daughter - and he's delighted that the best for his girl is Miss Proctor, who is funny and sweet and is slowly drawing Isabella out of the despair the little girl fell into after the death of both her parents.

Much as Adelaide tells herself she must stop her romantic daydreams that usually led her into trouble, and much as Gideon tells himself that she's just a governess, out in the isolated ranch, with just a handful of friends/employees, Gideon, Adelaide and Isabella soon become a family; even as a dark cloud threatens their new found happiness.

Second Glance: I first saw Head in The Clouds at In The Hammock and the first thing that stuck me was how whimsical the cover was, and in a way it sums up the tone and feel of the book pretty well. 

Adelaide is a nice protagonist, she's young but capable, yet prone to occasional daydreaming, and she only wears yellow because when she was little her father told her she reminded him of sunshine, she has a very open and loving personality that endear her to those around her without making her saccharine. Gideon was a nice, decent man who was just doing the best he could and who always tried to behave honorably. Both were a little too 'good' to be true, but they weren't annoying or anything.

Isabella and the rest of the people at the ranch are a little less developed but don't feel cartoonish, there is a villainous villain and all who provides a some tension to the story, but over all it was just a sweet, comforting read. 

This is Christian Fiction though, so though there is romance woven into the story, there is nothing hot and heavy about it.

Bottom Line: A comforting read for any given afternoon, Head in the Clouds is, in one word, sweet. I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for something hot and sexy, but if you're int he mood for a cute story, this one is pretty good.

Favorite Quote: "Westcott Cottage did have a handsome prince as it turned out, and she’d just floured him like a drumstick headed for the frying pan."

August 12, 2011

Retro Friday (18) - I Did (But I Wouldn't Now) 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! 

For this week I chose I Did (But I Wouldn't Now) by Cara Lockwood, which was first published in 2006 and is the spin off I Do (But I Don't).

I Did but I wouldn't Now
At First Sight: Lily has always been the unreliable, flaky sister - particularly when compared to her older sister Lauren who is a successful wedding planner - so no one is surprised when she up and marries Ted Dayton, an up and coming musician, after only a few weeks of knowing him. And people are even less surprised when, a couple of years later, she finds herself in the middle of a nasty divorce.

With assault chargers pending over her head, forty thousand dollars in debt and tabloids running pictures of Ted (who is now a rock star) and his new gorgeous actress girlfriend 24/7; Lily decides to visit her best friend and former boyfriend, Carter, in London.

There she gets a momentary reprieve from the tabloids - though her lawyer isn't letting her forget her court date- and she's happy to let her fate up to a set of tarot cards - since she figures they can't be any wore than she is at making decisions.

But when Carter convinces her to volunteer at the hospital he works at, Lily soon has more to occupy her mind with, like Brigid - Carter's psycho girlfriend - and the fact that she's not being linked to UK football start Sean Gates.

Second Glance: I so had been looking forward to reading Lily's story, though I was a little worried about it too. In I do (But I don't), Lily came off as the type of person who always got away with stuff; she jumped into things without a second though, expecting others to pick up her messes.

But in I did (But I wouldn't now), life has finally caught up with Lily: she's broke, her husband doesn't want her anymore, and the only one willing to take her in is Carter.

In some ways, Carter is the one who got away, but he's also her best friend.  Carter is far from perfect, in fact, he tends to check out the rational part of his brain whenever he's at the beginning of a relationship (basically, sex makes him stupid), plus he's a womanizer, a coward and has a very low threshold of pain.

Still, he is a surprisingly good friend - and it sort of threw me off whenever Lily called him toxic, because aside from the "sex makes him stupid" thing, he was supportive and kind to Lily. I had a bit of trouble buying him as a romantic interest, because he is very cowardly - though, to his credit, he gets what a "Big Gesture" is supposed to be like, and acts accordingly when the occasion arises.

There is also a large cast of supporting characters - among them Carter's roommate Ian,  Sean and Tanya Gates, Arnold the overweight pup, and even Lauren and her son Tyler and husband Nick making surprise visits - who keep things interesting.

Bottom Line: I did (but I wouldn't now) it's funny, engaging and witty. Lily turned out to be a great narrator, as she tells her story with Ted and with Carter and how she's handling things now. I wouldn't call it a romance novel, this is definitely more of a chick-lit story, but I still recommend it.

Favorite Quote: "People think they know the difference between hate and love, but most of the time you just can't tell." - Fran.