February 29, 2012

Movie Madness / Books So Far - February

Hello guys! I'm here to give a brief round up of the two only challenges I chose to accept this year. The first being:

Movies/Series Watched: 30

Favorites: Game of Thrones, The Descendants, The Artists, Next Great Baker (Seasons 1& 2), Industrial Light & Magic, The Vow, Pride and Prejudice (BBC)

Least Liked: Drive (OMG! It was so bad!), My Fake FiancĂ© 

If you're doing the Movie Madness Challenge you can head off to The Talking Teacup to link up your update. 

reading challenge
On the book department and my quest to read 200 books in a year?
Books Read: 22
Re reads: 10
YA: 5
Romance: 15
Contemporary: 10
Historical: 10

Well, that's me! How's everyone doing so far?

February 28, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (27) - This Kiss by Faith Hill

Tune In Tuesdays

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

Okay, so I love this song but I'll admit that the video is kind of cheesy so I'm not putting it, and instead I'm putting this live performance from a few years back, you can skip a little at the beginning :D. LOL 
I first heard this song in the movie Practical Magic, actually. In any case, I think it's a great song. 

So, what song plays for you?

February 27, 2012

Book Review: Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey

Paperback Cover

At First Sight: Keri Daniels has spent the las 18 years in California, making a name for herself and the magazine world and climbing the corporate ladder at Spotlight, an entertainment magazine. But now she's being forced to revisit her past and the people she left behind in her small, New Hampshire town. 

Why? because her boss Tina just found out that, once upon a time, Keri dated reclusive, best-selling author Joe Kowalski, who's horror books are loved by many and whose latest book is set to be a summer block buster. And Tina wants an exclusive interview with him, no matter what Keri has to do to obtain it. 

Keri isn't thrilled at the idea of seeing Joe again, knowing she hurt him deeply when she left. Joe, for his part, well, he does want to see Keri again, but this time on his terms. After she moved away, Joe fell a bit into the gutter and had to claw his way out, he doesn't want to return to the man he used to be right after she left, so this time they are going to do everything his way. 

But even he is surprised when he ends up inviting Keri to the annual Kowalski Family vacation - which basically means 'camping' for two weeks in the woods with his parents, his brothers, nephews and with Joe's twin sister Terri, who used to be Keri's best friend. 

Second Glance: Exclusively Yours is the first book in The Kowalskis series and I have to say that for the most part I had a nice time reading it. 

Keri and Joe were both very likable characters and quite normal too. Though I didn't entirely agree, I could understand Keri's need to move away when she was younger - she wanted to forge her own identity aside from being Joe's girl - and why she clung to her career as much as she died. 

I liked Joe and how his family meant so much to him, and how he was happy with his life, writing books and living in the same town he had been born in. Plus, he was a really decent person, and hurt as he was, he never lashed out in a complete jerk-o manner, even though he could. 

The secondary characters, mostly Joe's siblings and their families served to give context to Keri and Joe, and I even enjoyed their subplots. 

Now, I did have problem with the pacing, because at one point the book started to feel a little long, and the ending a little rushed. 

Ebook Cover

Bottom Line: Over all, Exclusively Yours was a lovely contemporary read, and it made me laugh out loud quite a few times. And I really liked how down to earth everyone was. 

Favorite Quote: "You got busy in the backseat of a '78 Ford Granada with Joseph Kowalski - only the most reclusive best-selling author since J.D. Sallinger - and you don't think to tell me about it?"

"Would you want anybody to know?"

"That I had sex with Joseph Kowalski?"

"No, that you had sex in the backseat of a '78 Granada." 


February 26, 2012

At the Movies: The Artist

In 1927, George Valentin is the biggest film star there is, his silent movies are widely popular and he can't imagine a time where it won't be so. He certainly doesn't believe that 'talking' movies will stick. By chance he meet a young ingenue actress named Peppy Miller, with whom he feels an instant connection - something that his marriage is currently lacking. 

But the moment passes and years go by before they see each other again. In the meantime, George's career takes hit after hit, and when the 1929 depression hits, things deteriorate for him fast, and even his marriage is over, leaving him but with the company of his faithful butler/driver and his dog. On the other hand, Peppy went off to become a huge film star. 

But Peppy has never forgotten George - how kind he was that one time he was an extra in one of his movies, or the chemistry between them - and she's ready to do whatever she can to help him. 

I admit that I went to see The Artist full of skepticism, before I went I even joked with a friend that I couldn't believe I was going to go see a silent movie - I have no trouble with black and white, but silent? - but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the movie. 

Jean Dujardin is so charming, and you buy into his character and the lack of words doesn't even bother you, he just has to smile and you're there. Berenice Bejo played her part well, and was pretty likable too. 
Now, the dog totally steals the movie, he was AWESOME. 

Also, one thing this movie made me notice is how important music is, because it was totally what was settling the mood and the pace of the movie and it was beautifully done. 

I give this movie an A-

February 25, 2012

Cover Love #29 - Size 12 and Ready to Rock

I don't know why I hadn't posted this cover before - well, I did in the Books I'm looking forward List last December - but I hadn't spotlighted it and, since the summary just came out, I decided to do so.

Size 12 and Ready to Rock is the fourth book in the Heather Wells Series - which I might have to re-read in preparation - and I just love it so much. These are very funny books with a bit of mystery and romance, but mostly I would say that they are chick lit. 

I love this cover, I think it's my favorite of the bunch of them. 

Summary (courtesy of William Morrow Paperbacks catalogue) 

It’s summer break at New York College, but that doesn’t mean assistant residence hall director Heather Wells can kick back and relax. The students may have gone home, but Fischer Hall is as busy as ever.
Only instead of college freshmen, Heather’s got a dorm full of squealing thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls—the first ever “Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp,” hosted by pop sensation (newly married to heartthrob Jordan Cartwright, Heather’s ex) Tania Trace.
But when the producer of the reality television show that’s filming Tania’s every move at the camp ends up dead, and it becomes clear Tania was the intended victim, Grant Cartwright, head of Cartwright Records, turns to his son, family black sheep and private investigator Cooper Cartwright, for help, desperate to keep his new daughter-in-law—and company’s highest earning star—alive.
Heather knows perfectly well she’s supposed to leave the detecting to Cooper, her ex’s big brother and her own brand new fiancĂ©. But with hysterical mini divas-in-training freaking out all around her—not to mention their mothers —how can she help but get involved?  Especially when Tania Trace herself begins to confide in Heather, revealing a secret that may be a little more "reah" than Cartwright Records ever bargained for. 
And if an added bonus to solving the crime herself happens to be that Heather can convince Cooper to bury the hatchet with his family and agree to a large wedding, and not the elopement he's been insisting on, so all of Heather's friends can come, then maybe putting her own life on the line to save Tania’s just might turn out to be worth it....

I'm very excited about this book, I remember hearing parts of this summary way-back-when this was meant to be book 3 of the series and was called Phat Chick. I'm glad that I'll finally get to read this story.

Size 12 and Ready to Rock comes out July 10th, 2012.

February 24, 2012

Book Review: The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logstead

At First Sight: Bet Smith has lived in a bit of a limbo for as long as she can remember, not quite family nor servant to Paul Gardener and his nephew Will - whom Bet considers a brother, since they were raised together and their birthdays are only one month apart.

After Will is expelled from yet another school, and confesses to Bet his desire to join the army, Bet takes it upon herself to hatch a plan that will allow them both to follow their dreams - Will to join the Army, and her to get a proper education. Bet will take Will's place at school, and he will join the army. 

With very high expectations, Bet arrives at the Betterman Academy... and discovers just how horrid boys really are, that school masters don't really care if the smaller boys are being terrorized by the bigger ones, and that being 'odd' is a sure way to attract unwanted attention. 

The only thing Bet likes about Betterman Academy - other than the education she's receiving - is her roommate, James Tyler, who is tall and handsome, and has no qualms disrobing in front of "Will" and puts up with "Will's" strange requests for privacy. James is different than the other boys, he's kind and smart and, as said before, so handsome... to bad he honestly things Bet is a (very strange) boy.

Second Glance: I don't know what it was but I had such a wonderful time reading  The Education of Bet , it sure had many of the tropes I love in a story - like the girl impersonating a boy, which is one of my all time favorites.

I liked Bet and Will instantly, loved seeing the connection between them and how they both loved Paul Gardener, the man that had taken them in after Will's parents and Bet's mom died of typhoid fever when they were four; even if they did chafe a little at the restrictions and expectations he put of them both. 

I also loved James, he's exactly the kind of boy I would have totally gone for when I was 16, he's so sweet and takes everything in stride. I do wish there had been more of him, because other than the occasional show of temper, he really was just perfect and we known very little about him, really. 

This is also kind of historical-lite, because it's set 'sometime' in the 1800s, there is some 'war' going on and girls aren't really allowed into schools yet. I didn't mind this. I think that by being so vague about the historical fact, the story was easier to tell and get into it.

And really, this book put me in such a good mood. 

Bottom Line: The Education of Bet was just the type of book I go for, and the perfect book for the mood I found myself in. It's fun, and cute and just made me have a really good time. And I can see myself re-reading it in the future.

Favorite Quote: "I wonder if anything is ever what people dream that thing will be."
starstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

February 22, 2012

Book Review: She's No Princess by Laura Lee Guhrke

She's no Princess
At First Sight: Sir Ian Moore has dedicated his life to the diplomatic corps of the British Government, and is known as a most proper gentleman. He enjoys his job and the international politic intrigues he gets to be a part of, so he's quite put out when he's given orders to return to England and deal with Miss Lucia Valenti barely a fortnight after he had been assigned to Anatolia.

Lucia has been shuffled about all her life between houses of relatives, schools and convents, never with a place to call home. Being the illegitimate daughter of a Prince and a famous courtesan, Lucia is beautiful and vivacious and really good at getting herself into scrapes. 

After one last scrape - that involves her younger half-sister, the Prince's legitimate daughter - Lucia is sent off to England, to be placed in the care of Sir Ian Moore, and he's charged with his most complicated diplomatic mission to date: to find Lucia a proper, boring husband. 

But that's easier said that done as Lucia isn't ready to just go along and be married off. And, as much as Ian would like to see her as a spoiled, irritating beauty, the more he gets to know Lucia, the more he realizes that couldn't be farther from the truth, that Lucia's bold, saucy exterior hides a very vulnerable heart. 

And Lucia can't help to feel attracted to Ian, who is good and honorable and at times so stuffy that she just wants to muss him up and make him liven up a little. 

Second Glance: She's no Princess is the fourth in a loosely connected series, usually known as the Guilty Series, but it can be read perfectly well on it's own, and I gotta say that it's one of my favorite books by Laura Lee Guhrke. I keep going back to it year after year for a re-read, because I just enjoy it so much. 

Lucia and Ian are two wonderful characters and I so enjoy watching them fall in love time and again. They definitely have the whole opposites attract thing going on. And, different as they are, Ian and Lucia are two very decent people to their core. 

The cast of secondary characters is nice and remains unobtrusive to the main couple -though you do get a few updates on the characters of previous books, like the Duke of Tremore and Ian's brother Dylan - and I like that, because the focus remains on these two. 

Bottom Line: She's no Princess is a great story of opposites attracting, it's fun to read and makes you spend a really good time. Perfect to read one afternoon and to just get lost in a story that will leave you with warm fuzzies afterward. 

Favorite Quote: "Sometimes, Englishman, I don't understand you. I love you, but I do not always understand you." - Lucia
starstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

February 21, 2012

Tune In Tuesday (26) - Tomorrow (I Will Run) by Nic Cester

Tune In Tuesdays

 This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads and 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 was watching the movie Tomorrow When the War Began and this song plays at the end, and I really loved it so I decided to share it. I put the only video I found that had the full song.

So, what song plays for you?

February 20, 2012

Book Review: A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson

Company of Swans
At First Sight: Harriet Morton has been an obedient girl, living under the thumb of her Aunt Louisa and her father, a strict Oxford professor. Her only escape has always been the ballet class she has taken since she was a girl; and, at 19, she's finally ready to go against her family and have some adventure.

The opportunity arrives when a Russian ballet master comes to her ballet class, looking for girls to fill the company he's taking to tour the Amazon. After being chosen to go, Harriet narrowly escapes home and goes to South America. There, he's surrounded by whole new world, makes friends, has fun.

And she meets Rom Verney, a wealthy British exile who takes an interest in her, as they both fall in love with each other.What they don't know is that many things are conspiring against them, like Harriet's family and would be fiance who are determined to take her back to England, and Rom's recently widowed sister-in-law, who is not ready to stop being mistress of Stavely, the ancestral home that has been in Rom's family for generations.

Second Glance: I have a bit of a strange relationship with A Company of Swans. On one hand I really like it, on the other I think it's kind of saccharine and, if I were to really think about it, it requires a lot of suspension of belief and you do have to buy into an extraordinary number of coincidences.

That being said, I really like Harriet and Rom, and I generally enjoy reading their story, it's quite easy for me to get lost in it and just go with it. It's only when I really think about it that the problems begin.

Plus, there is this section toward the middle-end where I feel it was all a bit too much, and again, you have to buy into a lot of coincidences, and Big Misunderstanding plot twist aren't always my cup of tea.

Bottom Line: A Company of Swans is a sweet book, and if you can get into it, you're in for a nice ride. If not, you'll probably snort your way through it. But it has some lovely writing and likable, if a bit naive, characters.

February 18, 2012

Book Review: Christmas in Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis

Christmas in Lucky Harbor is compilation of the first two books in the Lucky Harbor Series: Simply Irresistible and The Sweetest Thing. So I'm going to review each story separately.

The Deal: Still trying to recover from the wreck her life became - after loosing her boyfriend and her job as a result of it - Maddie Moore packed up her things and headed to Lucky Harbor, a small town in the Washington Coast where her mother grew up. 

Maddie herself hadn't seen her Mother in years, having been raised mostly by her father, so she was a little surprised to find out her mother had left her - and her two half-sisters Tara and Chloe - the Lucky Harbor Inn, which had been owned by their grandparents. 

With nothing left for her in L.A., Maddie has the hope that she can convince her sisters to give the Inn a shot, mostly because she really needs a place to stay and a purpose in life. But when they finally get together, Maddie realizes that Tara, the oldest, really wants to sell, and Chloe, the youngest, doesn't seem to care. But Maddie does care, and the organizational freak inside of her is thriving at the idea of getting the inn back on it's feet, and for once, the girl her mother called "the mouse" is not going to be mouse like at all!

Even if that means hiring sexy Jax Cullen to help her fix the inn. Jax is funny and relaxed and he's making Maddie forget that she swore off men after her last relationship. 

My ThoughtsSimply Irresistible is just what small-town contemporary romances should be. It's sweet and fun, there is a quirky cast of characters - some of which you can see coming to the forefront at some point - and it's just fun. Simply Irresistible also has a lot of heart and it's a love story at two levels: the traditional romantic story with Jax and Maddie, and a love story between Tara, Chloe and Maddie, who were raised appart and are so different but grow to love each other.
I loved Simply Irresistible, it went by fast and it was fun. 5starPersonal Favorite

The Deal: Tara Daniels, nicknamed by her mother as "the Steel Magnolia" grew up in her grandparents horse-ranch in Texas and had only been to Lucky Harbor once, when he was 17 and angry at the world. She would have been happy never to set foot in the place again, but then Maddie convinced her to give the Inn a shot, and Tara found herself still in town months later and having to face Ford Sawyer as a permanent fixture of her current life. 

Ford is, perhaps, the thing she remembers the most bout that summer, when they were both 17 and crazy in love. When that love took them down an unexpected past that ended up with both of them sharing a big secret. 

After that, each went their separate says. Tara off to college and to marry and divorce a NASCAR star. Ford to become a world-class competitive sailor. But now they are both back at Lucky Harbor, with chemistry just sizzling between them and the memory of a love that maybe never left either of them. 

My Thoughts: The Sweetest Thing was a lovely sequel to Simply Irresistible, and in some ways this story started during the first book - because Tara reveals part of the secret in that book. 

Tara and Ford had and have a complicated relationship that it's hard for them to work through, but they try, even when they are scared. Tara is trying really hard to find a balance in her life knowing that with Ford she gave too much of herself, and with her ex-husband Logan, too little; and now is trying to make herself a priority in her own life. It takes her a while but she gets there. 

I loved reading about the other characters from book 1, and the hints at the stories to come, though I have to say they were a couple of twists that felt like a little much, and I didn't love this book as much as I loved Simply Irresistible. 4star

As a whole, I thought Christmas at Lucky Harbor was a great book, it made sense to have these two stories together because they kind of go hand in and and they do hint at the stories to come. This is a really fun contemporary book and getting the two stories for one is a good value.

February 16, 2012

Book Review: The Rogue Hunter by Lynsay Sands

At First Sight: Vacation with her sisters in Cottage Country sounded like a really good idea to Sam Willan, a workaholic lawyer in the fast track to be made partner. She recently went through a bad break up and is quite happy to just relax with her sisters Alex and Jo, until they finally get to meet their elusive next-door neighbor and his friends. 

They all seem rather nice, and all three men are certainly very handsome, but it's Garrett Mortimer who catches her attention, at first because she can see he thinks she's clumsy as hell, and then because even with that, he seems to be very interested in her. 

What Sam doesn't know is that Mortimer is, in fact, an enforcer working for the Immortal Council, and he's in town to hunt down a rogue vampire.

Well, at least that was the reason why Mortimer and his partner Bricker were sent out to camp out with Decker Pimms - another enforcer and the girls's actual neighbor - but he didn't count of meeting his life-mate - the one person in the world whose mind he can't get into, the one meant for him - or that she would be rather clumsy and way too skinny. 

But she is his life mate, and soon he can't resist the pull her feels toward her as he learns that she's smart and funny and fiercely loving of her family. But he still has a job to do, and he needs to get it done quickly.

Second Glance: The Rogue hunter is actually the 10th in the Argeneau Series and the first of the Immortal Hunters section of it. I've read all of them to date but I have to say that it's the later ones that I find the funniest, which is I why I review them.

I had a lovely time reading The Rogue Hunter. I liked Sam instantly - she is smart and fun, she works very hard and has a great relationship with her sisters, and the insecurities her last relationship left her with were quite real. Mortimer was a great hero, he's an enforcer and has been a bachelor for close to 800 years, so he's really rusty when it comes to the whole courtship thing. 

And I actually loved that at first he wasn't exactly thrilled with finding Sam because she was not at all like he had imagined his ideal life mate to be. Usually with these type of stories, the Immortal is just happy of finally meeting someone, but Mortimer's reaction seemed more realistic to me. 

Bottom Line: All in all, The Rogue Hunter is a fun book to read, and great to relax with. The characters are likable and, even though it is the 10th book of the series, it doesn't feel repetitive or like I've been here before, which is great. This is a great book to read when you just want to have some fun.

February 14, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (25) - V-Day Edition

Tune In Tuesdays

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

Since today is V-day, I decided to put one of my favorite love songs but as it turns out they are mostly songs about broken hearts, I have no idea why since I've always though that love should be hopeful. So, instead, I went classic.

This is, I Say A Little Pray For You, and since I'm just in the mood and I'll probably watch this movie when I get home... I give you the My Best Friend's Wedding version - It's my Dad's favorite part of the movie too!

Oh, I love this song from the movie too:

So, what song plays for you?

Have a great day everyone!
Love, Alex.

PS... Yup, I'm aware I'm a sap.