November 27, 2012

Sick Leave

Hey guys!!

I'm sorry I haven't been around. Since Friday I've come down with the worse case of mutant flu + a cough + I think my tonsils will start bleeding in two seconds, so yeah... blogging hasn't been, like, possible in the last few days, mostly because I can't be on the computer for more than 15 minutes without getting a headache and getting super sleepy. 

And... my laptop has been at the repair shop for two weeks, which hasn't helped at all. 

But I digress...

Guess that happens when you over-medicate yourself with cough syrup and pain killers. YAY!!! (No, really, don't do it at home). 

So anyway, I hope I feel better in a couple of days and that my laptop comes home soon so things can go back to normal. 

Sorry I won't be commenting or posting as often as usual, but I am reading, I finally bonded with my kindle and have been reading lots on it lately, you know, in between passing out from the cold medicine. 

Now I'm off to get someone to sing me Soft Kitty. 

UPDATE: Hey guys! Thanks so much for all your good wishes! I'm still a little sick but on the mend! I just hope the sleepiness goes away soon :D *hugs* again, thanks! y'all are the best. 

November 24, 2012

Book Review: Hooligan Bear: A Special Day by Ian Toynton and Andrea Dietrich

The Deal: One day Hooligan Bear realized that his nephew Little Louie didn't know what a birthday was, so Hooligan Bear, along with his friends Scooter, Lenny and Waldo decided to do something about it. 

They come up with a plan to rescue a cupcake and show Louie what a birthday is. 

My Thoughts: Okay, so A Special Day is the third book of the Hooligan Bear series, which tells the story of five teddy bears living on a shelf and forming an epic friendship.

I haven't read the first two books of the series but I found A Special Day to be an adorable read, I liked the design of the books and the strong message of friendship of the story.

The book is fairly short though, but good for very young readers.  

November 23, 2012

Book Review: The Unwanted Wife by Natasha Anders

At First Sight: After a year and a half of hellish marriage, Theresa de Lucci has had enough. Even though she was completely in love with her husband Alessandro when they first married, his treatment of her - and the constant pressure to give him a son - have finally gotten to her and she realizes she can't go on the same way. 

Alessandro never actually pretended to be in love with Lucia, and he was under the impression that she knew this, but once she asks for a divorce he begins to wonder just how much she actually knows about the deal he struck with her father and which resulted in their marriage.

Just as Alessandro starts to mend his ways - even though Theresa keeps telling him it's too little too late - Theresa realizes that she's finally pregnant, which leaves her more unsure than ever. 

Second Glance: Okay, confession time! Stories like The Unwanted Wife where the 'hero' acts like a big ol' jerk are a guilty pleasure to me so when I picked up this book, I couldn't stop. I had such a good time reading it, even though Alessandro was such a jerk and it took Theresa forever to find her spine. 

In the end, they were both victims of her father's ploy to get a grandson - because he's the kind that thinks girls aren't good for much other than marrying them off at his convenience - but they weren't innocents in their situation, particularly Alessandro. 

On one hand, Theresa justified his every hurtful-rude move for months - like never introducing her to his family or friends and his jealousy - while Alessandro treated her like crap because he thought she was a spoiled rich girl that got her daddy to buy her the husband she wanted. 

Seeing them dig themselves out of the situation was interesting, there were some parts that were really well done, like when Theresa has the baby. Other parts were a bit melodramatic but I knew what kind of story this was so it didn't bother me. 

There were three things that did bother me though: a) we got almost no background story as to why Alessandro acts the way he does, and then even less on why he decides to start acting like a decent human being, b) there were continuity issues and the timeline seemed to jump back and forth, c) there was an overuse of exclamation points at one point it seemed like every sentence was ended by a !!! 

Bottom Line: All in all, though, I enjoyed The Unwanted Wife as a guilty-pleasure read. It wasn't perfect but it made for a good time. Oh, and by the way, the story takes place in South Africa, which I thought was rather cool even if it wasn't played up all that much. 

November 22, 2012

Speed Date:Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

The Deal: Mia thinks that her relationship with Nick - a promising young attorney - is basically perfect, so she's shocked when a few days before Christmas she invites him to her aunt's wedding in Lucky Harbor and he says a categorical no. 

Both Nick and Mia were given way as babies but Mia was adopted and grew up surrounded by love, and eventually developed a close relationship with her birth parents (Sawyer and Tara from The Sweetest Thing). Nick wasn't so luck and he still has a hard time committing to any kind of relationship. 

Which leads to them getting into this big fight. A fight he regrets almost immediately and prompts him to follow Mia to Lucky Harbor to try to set things right. 

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying that I'm a person who enjoys novellas, okay? I think that when they are well done are wonderful little morsels of awesome.

Sadly, I don't think Under the Mistletoe was very successful. I kind of already had a sense of who Mia was supposed to be because of the previous book, but for someone who claims to be okay with the whole adoption thing, she still bases all her self-worth around 'being picked'. And Nick was said to be this very mature guy, but he didn't act like it. They are both supposed to be in the early-to-mid 20's but act like 15 year-olds often enough. Plus, the Mia from the Sweetest Thing seemed a lot more mature than this one, five years later.

It sure was nice to see the couples of the original trilogy again, but I didn't care for the main story. More than in love Mia and Nick seemed to be in lust and the way things were resolved were just... too convenient to ring true.  And Carlos? (Mia's former boyfriend-love-of-her-life? yeah, his place int he story made me go Oh, really?)

I know I love Lucky Harbor and that's probably why I'm being hard on this story. Is it horribly written? nope, but it ain't all that great either. 

What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

November 20, 2012

Book Gossip: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Hello my peeps! 

So, I was messing around on Good Reads trying to put some order to my shelves when I ran across... the blurb for Isla and the Happily Ever After!! For the longest time it just say that the book was coming out in 2013, but now we got a summary!

Falling in love in the world’s most romantic city is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year at the School of America in Paris, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to deal with the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren't always forever. 

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

I'm actually very excited even though I seriously didn't like Lola and the Boy Next Door, I did like Anna (reckon is a really good book though I only grew to love it after Lola because Anna and Etienne made more sense to me). 

Book comes out May 7th, 2013. 

Now! You have probably seen this everywhere by now but I wanted to post it too! The cover for Sarah Dessen's 2013 novel The Moon and More: 

This one comes June 4th, 2013.. and the blurb from Good Reads says:
Emaline works at her family's vacation rental company the summer before she leaves for college. She must confront her values, goals and choices as her relationship with city-boy Theo evolves and she's forced to say goodbye to the beach town where she grew up.

I'm really excited for both books and I can't wait to get my hot little paws on them!

November 19, 2012

Book Review: All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey

WARNING: This review will include Spoilers from mild to big, so consider yourself warned. 

At First Sight: Ryan Kowalski left his hometown shortly after finishing college and the few times he has returned since then have been short and he has kept it close to his family's lodge, avoiding Lauren Carpenter at all costs. 

About fifteen years before, Ryan asked Lauren (plus her son Nick) leave town with him; but she was married to Ryan's best friend Dean and said no. 

In the years since, Ryan has moved on with his life - getting married and divorced and building a very successful business in Massachusetts. While Lauren eventually divorced Dean and is trying to do as best she can raising Nick mostly on her own as her ex has remarried and formed a new family. 

But when renovations at the Northern Star Lodge bring Ryan home for a more extended period of time, it's only a matter of time before he and Lauren run into each other. Neither of them knows how to react, as they both still remember what happened the last time they saw each other and are still pretty determined to avoid each other. 

Until Lauren's son is caught vandalizing the lodge and is forced to work there until he has worked off the cost of the repairs for the damage caused, forcing Lauren and Ryan to spend more time together. 

Second Glance: All He Ever Desired wasn't exactly what I expected and I found the official summary was a bit misleading, as the things that happened between Lauren and Ryan were a little more complicated than one is lead to believe. 

They were never together and Lauren didn't know of Ryan's feelings when she married his best friend, it was a big shock for her when Ryan made his proposal all those years ago and even now she isn't sure how she feels about it, even though she has had plenty of time to wonder What If. 

Ryan knows that what he did wasn't really okay, but has moved on with his life for the most part even though he's still trying to avoid his left-over feelings toward Lauren and Dean and the whole situation, even if he doesn't have it in the fore-front of his mind all the time. 

These aren't two people who are pinning after each other all the time, though they both wonder at what could have happened, and how their lives would be different if they had made different choices. Yet, once they are back in each other's company they do reverse a little into teenage behavior: they don't know how and don't want to define their relationship, they day dream about each other and fight over silly things. 

(Now, for the seriously spoilery stuff about the ending, highlight to see)

My biggest problem was with the ending, because it felt very, very rushed. Lauren and Ryan go from not wanting to define their relationship but being fine, to him proposing to her (again) and them getting into this big silly fight over moving to Massachusetts, to them being fine again in a space of maybe twenty pages (I don't know for sure because I was reading the e-galley) and then the book just suddenly ends. 

I honestly had no problem with them moving, but you never actually get to see that or see them making a go of their lives in a new place because the book just ends. And I know I'll probably see more of them in the next book but I'm still not okay with it. 

I don't want to make it sound like the book is bad or that I didn't enjoy it, because that's not it on either case. I liked the characters and the setting and it was a fun read, it just wasn't as good as it could have been for me. 

Bottom Line: The book had some highlights, like Ryan's relationship with Nick and seeing the other Kowalskis from books past, but it's far from being my favorite of the series. It's still a fun, well-written contemporary, though. 

November 16, 2012

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin

Since this book sounds great, I'm happy to be part of the Cover Reveal for Forever My Girl (love the cover too, so YAY). Also, check out the giveaway at the end of the post ;)

Release: December 27th

I was never supposed to be a rock star. I had my life all planned out for me. Play football in college. Go to the NFL. Marry my high school sweetheart and live happily ever after.

I broke both our hearts that day when I told her I was leaving. I was young. I made the right decision for me, but the wrong decision for us. I've poured my soul into my music, but I've never forgotten her. Her smell, her smile.

And now I’m going back.

After ten years.

I hope I can explain that after all this time.

I still want her to be my forever girl.

My grandma once told me that I can do anything I want, so I am.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, I now live in picturesque Vermont, with my husband and two daughters. Also renting space in our home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell and two Parakeets.

During the day you'll find me behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, I'm writing one of the many stories I plan to release or sitting court-side during either daughter's basketball games.

I'm also an active reviewer on The Readiacs - a site I own with my best friend and uber special beta, Yvette.



This giveaway is open INTERNATIONAL.

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November 15, 2012

Speed Date: One Fine Fireman by Jennifer Bernard

This cover is awkward
but at least it has a puppy!
The Deal: Waitress Maribel would much rather be taking photographs and making art than serving coffee all day, but at least her job has a few perks: like like seeing the bachelor firemen of San Gabriel on a regular basis, even if some are more talkative than others. 

Kirk - aka Thor- is one of the quiet Firemen, but not because he's particularly shy but because he has had a crush on Maribel for years, but he knows she's engaged to someone else (some ritzy celebrity photographer that shows up every once in a while), so he resigns himself to looking from afar.

Things seem to be locked in a stalemate until Maribel's son finds a puppy wandering around, and Kirk is there to help and they start to spend more time together.

My Thoughts: One Fine Fireman is a sort of introductory novella to the Bachelor Firemen series and it was a cute, short read. Maribel indulged in willful blindness from time to time, but Kirk was a nice guy and it was fun to see them together. And Maribel's kid was childlike and not too annoying.

There was a puppy and the puppy was awesome and you got to meet a few other of the firemen that feature in the other books of the series. There were a few things that were rather hard to believe, but the story wouldn't work otherwise so I'm overlooking that.

All in all it was a nice way to pass time. 

What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

November 14, 2012

Book Review: Sweet Lullaby by Lorraine Heath

The Deal: As the daughter of a rich rancher, Rebecca grew up doing pretty much whatever she wanted as her father's trained her to one day take over the ranch. But when one bad decision leaves her pregnant and the father is nowhere to be found, she has to make a tough decision regarding her future. 

Jake has spent the last few years working for Rebecca's father at the Lazy-A, and has loved Rebecca from afar, cherishing her friendship, but when Rebecca's father asks him to marry her and give her child a name, Jake goes a step further: placing the decision on Rebecca's hands and offering to start over in Texas, where he owns some land. 

Having grown up as the unwanted bastard in his father's household, Jake has few memories of softness or kindness, but he's determined to do right by Rebecca and her child, not wanting either of them to suffer what him and his mother went through.

My Thoughts: Sweet Lullaby had been on my TBR pile for ages before I decided t pick it up a couple of days ago, and I'm sad to say that it disappointed me. 

The story starts all-right enough, I really liked Jake and the way he loves Rebecca is very touching, I liked reading about their new life in Texas and how they are trying to make it on their own without Rebecca's father's help. I liked that Jake appreciated her skills as a Rancher and that he respected her all around.

But toward the last third of the book, I began to really dislike Rebecca. She's aware of all the sacrifices that Jake does for her, yet she doesn't seem to appreciate said sacrifices or the man himself. She has this really terrific guy in her life but she keeps pinning after a man that left her high and dry. 

(Highlight to see spoiler/rant) 

In fact, when the man that got her pregnant shows up over a year later, expecting her to just take off with him and leave Jake in the dust, she does it - even though by then she had started sleeping with Jake and he absolutely adored her and her child. At that point I lost all respect for her and I couldn't care less if she fell in a ditch and died. 

One of my friends on goodreads tagged Rebecca as "Most Stupid Heroines Ever" and she was so right. And it's really sad because Jake was a wonderful hero, if a little too self-sacrificing. 

Sweet Lullaby had all the makings of a really good story but it was ruined by it's "heroine".

November 12, 2012

The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume by Lisa Rumsey Harris

At First Sight: As the current carrier of a gift that most often than not feels like a curse, Treasure Blume has always assumed that love was not in her future. Not when she had more than enough trouble getting a job, buying a car and generally making it through a day without people being outrageously rude to her. 

It's not her fault though, Treasure is a genuinely nice and caring person, but her "gift" makes it so that almost everyone takes a violent dislike to her as soon as they meet her - with the exception of really young children or the elderly - a dislike they could overcome, if they wanted to, but very few do.

So, Treasure has lead a rather unorthodox life, with the support of her older brother, her best friend Roxy, her parents and Grammy Blume, learning to put up with unfair treatment and unnecessary rudeness, hiding behind her crazy hair, awful sweater sets, polyester clothes and her job as a First Grade teacher. 

Love was not really something she was looking for or hoped to find until she met Dennis Cameron, the father of one of the little girls in her class. 

Trained as a chef, Dennis once had a very bright future in front of him as sous chef at a 4 star-restaurant in Las Vegas, but that was before he divorced and got full custody of his daughter Micaela, before his mother was diagnosed with cancer, before he slid down the kitchen totem pole and accepted a job as a Lunch Lady at Micaela's elementary school so he could be near her and have enough free time to care for her and his mom. 

Dennis is frustrated with his life, with his ex-wife and with his job serving crappy food to kids who don't care what they put in their mouths. He doesn't need to be dealing with his daughter's crazy teacher,  but he's intrigued by how much Micaela loves her kooky teacher even if him and Treasure didn't get off on the right foot. 

Second Glance: The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume its a hard book to summarize but it surprised me with how much I liked it. It starts fairly slow and it never really picks up speed, it's more of a slow-and-steady kind of read and I admit I almost DNFed by the second chapter because of the pace, but all too soon I found myself immersed in the narrative. 

Treasure is a very nice person, and she cares for her students and her family and it's always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for them, and it's awful to see how badly she's treated by almost everyone she meets. Still, most days she tries to look on the bright side of things, counting her blessings. She's not overly bitter or mean because of her situation, she just takes it as is, hoping people will eventually grow to like her but not taking it personally when they don't. 

Dennis was a good guy too - though he complained a lot more than Treasure, and was a bit jerky from time to time. His frustration with the turns his life took was very real, and I could feel for him because despite how unhappy he was about some things, he would do everything all over again just to be there for his daughter and his mom. 

He is trying to find ways of copping with his new life when he finds Treasure, and slow as the process is, they do develop a friendship and an attraction and it was nice to see that, even though it all was very PG. 

There are a lot of secondary characters and plots, some which  I liked better than others - I really liked Randy, Treasure's brother and the little subplots about Treasure's students - but over all, I think it all added up to the story, even if the book did indulge in one of my personal pet peeves: chapters that go on forever. 

Bottom Line: The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume is one of those books that you need to be in the mood for, the pace is slow, the chapters are long and sometimes its too quirky, but if you surrender yourself to the process and just sit back and let yourself be lost in the story, then you're in for lovely experience. 

Favorite Quote: "Gracious, girl, don't go looking for truth among your peers. They are just as stupid as you are." - Grammy 
Note 1: Book comes out November 13th, 2012.
Note 2: Review copy provided by the publisher through Net Galley

November 8, 2012

Book Review: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

The Deal: Ever since she started working at Coles, Amelia Hayes has had a crush on Chris, the guy who was in charge of her training. He's nice, helps her out learning the ropes of working at a supermarket and they share spirited discussions about films and books and second wave feminism. 

Whenever Chris actually thinks of Amelia, he recognizes how special she is, but he doesn't really think about her often as he's busy pondering the meaning of his own life what with all his friends finishing college and moving onto grown up jobs while he still hasn't finished, still works at a supermarket and still lives with his parents. 

In some ways, both Amelia and Chris are stuck in their circumstances, as they weave a interlocking story of unrequited love, friendship and family. 

My Thoughts: Love and Other Perishable Items is the US Edition of Good Oil (which was published a couple of years ago in Australia . I read Good Oil early last year, and I really loved it, so when I found out it was going to be published this side of the point I wanted to check it out to see if a) was as good as I remembered; and b) if they had made changes for this edition. 

The book was as good as I remembered but there were also some changes - mostly the names of certain places, I guess to make it easier for readers on this side of the pond - but I don't think it really affected the story (though I'm not sure I'm okay with the Good Oil thing, but it's something it will probably only bother the people who read the original). 

But I love Amelia and Chris, and I enjoy their voices. Amelia's is so open, she's young and can't wait to start to live and grow up even though it hurts sometimes. Christ is quite honest with himself (his parts come in he shape of journal entries), and he can be douche sometimes, but he is kind of charming and I felt his pain at being stuck not really wanting to grow up. 

All in all, I would say that Love and Other Perishable Items is a must read. 
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What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

November 7, 2012

Book Review: Sugar Rush by Rachel Astor

At First Sight: Dulcie Carter loves candy, and she's working hard to keep her mother's candy shop - Candy Land Confections - above water following her mother's passing. It's not easy though, while she's trying to get her masters (to fullfil her mother's wish that she got a proper education) and trying to compete against How Sweet It Is, her store's biggest rival. 

But money is tight and business isn't going as well as one might hope - thanks in part to How Sweet It Is super cheap prices and the bad economy. There is, however, one thing that might help: The Chocolatiers Association's Taste of the Year Award and the price money it offers. 

Not that Dulcie is ready to enter, having lost in an spectacular fashion the first time she tried to enter after her mom's death - even though with her mother's recipes they had always won, before. 

Nick Sugarman is trying to prove to his father that he's ready to take over the family business, even if his passion toward candy lies more in the eating of it, than the making, particularly in the automatized way his father runs their store. 

Still, he was willing to do almost anything to make sure he got to be the one to succeed his father... until he met a cute girl at a club and he fell head over heels in love.

Second Glance: There are so many things I liked about Sugar Rush, it is a sweet confection of a book. I loved the whole world of candy and candy making and the chocolates that were described made me drool. 

I liked Dulcie and her friends, and how she keeps trying to honor her mom's memory. Yet she's still fairly young and it shows sometimes in her decisions and thought process, I liked this because she sounded her age. 

I loved Nick, he sounded kind of dreamy but he had a past as a chubby kid and still kept a lot of the defense mechanisms - but he knows and acknowledges this, so he doesn't come off as a jerk - and he makes delicious cupcakes. 

And he's one of those guys who understands the concept of "A big gesture" and he's not afraid to go to the distance to right some wrongs. Dulcie often jumped to the wrong conclusion, but most of the time it made sense that she thought what she did given the information she had, so again, it was easy to keep on liking her. 

If there was something I wasn't thrilled about was Dulcie's grandmother Evelyn. I often times felt like she was using Dulcie, and left her to do the heavy lifting about the store. 

Bottom Line: Sugar Rush is an adorable book, with drool worthy candy descriptions and a sweet romance to match, even if it was fairly PG-13. The story just flew buy and it was fun and fluffy and cute. 

Favorite Quote:  "He grabbed one of the red velvet cupcakes with stabilized raspberry whipped cream icing, topped with a fondant heart for breakfast. He never officially named his cupcakes, of course—that would be silly—but he’d be lying if he didn’t secretly think of this one as the Queen of Hearts."
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