August 29, 2013

Book Review: Sugar and Spice (Confectionately Yours 4)

The Deal: After a bit of struggle, it seems like Hayley is finally settling into her new life living with her mom and sister Chloe above their Grandma's tea shop. She seems to be in good terms with her best friend Marco and having a lot of fun with her new friend Meg.

But lately, Chloe seems a little down, which worries Hayley since Chloe is the sunniest kid around. And then she finds herself in detention with Meg and Artie - her former best friend turned nemesis.

From detention, the three of them start hanging out together a little and Meg comes up with the idea of hosting a talent show to showcase all the kids of their school, and of course she ropes Hayley and Artie in.

In the home front, somethings seem to be afoot as well.

My Thoughts: Sugar and Spice continues with Hayley's adventures and I keep on loving them. There is something just really, really comforting about reading her adventures. She's such a normal kid, and she makes mistakes and is confused but has a good heart.

I love reading about her cupcakes and how close she is to her sister Chloe and how she tries to make sense of the changing world around her.

I definitely recommend this series to all the Tween girls out there, and to anyone who likes desserts, but it is going to make you pretty hungry.

Anyway, I can't wait for the next (and final) book of the series which was just released.

August 27, 2013

Book Review: How to Marry A Highlander by Katherine Ashe

The Deal: Even being an ear, marrying off seven sisters with no money is a hard proposition; and one Duncan isn't too happy to find himself in. But duty calls and he does want to see his sisters happily settled and secure. So off to London he goes to try to find seven eligible bachelors... but instead he finds Miss Teresa Finch-Freeworth.

Teresa was off living her own life and trying not to think too much about that handsome highlander she had seen once in a party, when her family decided it was in her best interest to be married to the local curate - never mind that he's rather severe, self important and doesn't understand Teresa at all. 

Hearing that Duncan is back in London, Teresa hatches a crazy plan to get herself the life she want, sure that she didn't imagine that connection she felt with Duncan when they saw each other across the room at that party.

Having gone through marriage once - and having tragically lost his wife and child - Duncan doesn't want a marriage minded miss following him around, but he can't resist Teresa and strikes a bargain with her: if she finds a husband for each of his sisters, he'll marry her. The catch? she only got one month to do so. 

My Thoughts: Okay, so I read How to Marry A Highlander because Daisy @ Between the Pages reviewed it and I thought it sounded delightful.

It was. 

This is a novella, so everything happens quickly, yet Ms Ashe managed to introduce and make me care about Teresa and Duncan very quickly - the mark of a good novella/book in my opinion - and even about the sisters, which were rather hard to keep straight sometimes. Teresa and Duncan were both lovely characters.

Duncan has a bit of a shady past and that was fun, and the bargain he strikes with Teresa made up for some very steamy scenes. Teresa was just fun and caring, and he really did want the girls to find good husbands, she was a generous soul and I liked that.

Hot to Marry A Highlander was a delightful book and I'm very glad I read it. It only took me a couple of hours to read it and it left me grinning. I do wish it had been longer though, and that the sister's romance had been a little more fleshed out, but I understand it was a novella so no hard feelings about it.

August 22, 2013

Speed Date: The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace

The Plot: Madelyn Hawkins is relishing the experience of taking college courses while still in high school, enjoying the freedom it represents to be going to the local community college rather than to her old school where her dad teaches. So, to her it seems like fate when her first class, Biology, happens to be taught by a young and handsome professor, and she keeps running into him.

Madelyn knows it's wrong to be flirting with Bennett, he's her teacher and he thinks she's at least 18, rather than 16. But Madelyn is giddy with her new found freedom, her crush to speak out... and the more she waits, the harder it gets. 

First Date: Oh, so this whole book is one big letter to Bennett. Not sure how I feel about that. Madelyn keeps interrupting to fill in with back story saying "Remember when..." or "You said...". Not particularly fun.

Second Date: I am officially weary of this style, also shocked by how little seems to happen in this book. Honestly. I've read MG books where 12 year olds have more chemistry than Bennett and Madelyn. 

Third Date: That's it? for real? Why do I feel like I just wasted my time? Right... Because this is anticlimactic as hell,. that's why.

Relationship Status: Why do I do This To Myself?
All right, I was kind of excited to read The Truth About You and Me, I thought it might be interesting, studying this whole age difference thing, maybe the guy really loved her and it was all tragic, or maybe he was a creepy manipulative bastard and this was an Issue Book but nope.

The Truth About You and Me is the book where nothing much happens and everyone gets away scoot free. A big part of the problem is the way the story is told, through letters and flashbacks, so you know that it's all happened already, there is no sense of urgency, and then it just turns out that nothing interesting or important happened anyway. Like, at all. 

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

August 19, 2013

Book Review: E for England by Elisabeth Rose

At First Sight: After almost a year of separation (and at least six months since she last heard of her soon to be ex-husband), newly single mom Annie is still quite pissed off at said ex, but trying to make ends met the best she can while caring for her two young children. 

Her situation is far from ideal, though. She's barely making enough at her job, she hasn't been able to save enough to go back to school and she's currently crashing at a co-worker's apartment. The last thing she wants to do is date... until she meets her downstairs neighbor Hugh.

Hugh is a doctor who just moved from London to Sydney, and he isn't particularly interested in dating either, let along a single mother with 2 kids - which complicates things a bit since he doesn't want to have kids ever, even if he does seem to enjoy being around Annie's kids just fine. 

Slowly, Hugh and Annie form a friendship that might possibly grow into more... just when Annie's husband decides to show up again.

Second Glance: E for England was a fun contemporary read, but I still had plenty of ups and downs with it. Annie and Hugh - and their friends - were pretty fun, Annie's kids weren't annoying and they all had a good chemistry together, that was definitely a plus. 

But other stuff was a bit irregular. Annie's husband is a major douche bag, and the amount of time that takes her to come to her senses about him bothered me... a lot. The whole E for England thing was a bit too crazy (basically, Annie's roommate is trying to sleep her way through the alphabet of countries) and I felt like it was just thrown in to give the book a cute title. 

Annie herself is pretty high strung, and sometimes overreacts a lot about simple things. I wished they had explored Hugh's background a little more, there was potential from some awesome storytelling there. 

But still, the story was pretty fun and the ending was sweet. No sexy times though, in case that's a deal breaker for you, either way.

Bottom Line: I do recommend E for England if you're looking for a quick read. I do like the Australian setting a lot and the story was pretty good all around. There were some really refreshing things about the story, like the fact Annie and Hugh become really good friends first. 

Love, Alex

August 14, 2013

Book Review: The Unexpected Wedding Guest by Aimee Carson

The Deal: With her wedding just a few days away, the last thing Reese Michaels wants is for her ex husband Mason to show up at her wedding venue and claim he wants closure about the marriage that imploded almost ten years ago. 

But it all turns even worse when Mason strikes a quasi friendship with Reese's fiance Dylan, and Dylan agrees they both need closure and that they should use the next few days to find it. 

Mason really just wants to set some things right between him and Reese, knowing that ten years ago they hurt each other very much, and that fixing that might help him find a new path in life. A former marine, Mason is still trying to adjust to civilian life, and dealing with the consequences of a traumatic head injury that put an end to his career and left him with a crappy short time memory. 

Not that he's willing to admit that to Reese just now. Even if the chemistry between them is as strong as ever. 

My Thoughts: Well, I really wanted to like The Unexpected Wedding Guest, it sounded kind of fun and I do like the second chance stories, but this one never finished making much sense. The more I found out about Reese and Mason's marriage the more I understood why they screwed it up and the less sure I was that the should be together... and the less I liked them.

Plus, they didn't have much in common (other than sex) and they acted very annoying. Oh and don't even get me started on Reese's friends, they drove me up the wall - there is this whole subplot of Reese and her three friends from college reuniting after years of not seeing each other that I just didn't care for, nor did I like any of the other girls. 

Also, Reese's fiance was very much a cold fish, who seemed not to care either way what was going on between the ex-couple. And calmly accepted everything. 

So, yeah, this one isn't a winner for me, but I kind of like the idea of the Kiss line anyway, so I guess I'll keep trying. 

August 12, 2013

Two For One: Rock and A Hard Place - Snapshot by Anne Stanton

So, I'm doing a two for one review this time around because this two books are linked, the both belong to the Jamieson Collection.

The Deal:
In Rock and A Hard Place we meet the Jamieson brothers, who are in a musical band together. They are super famous and constantly touring the country with their parents. Their mom likes to stop every once in a while and do family things, like having a picnic.

Is during one such stops that one of the brothers, Peter (the musical genius of the family), meets Libby. Libby's life was turned upside down when her family got into this really bad car crash and she was sent to live with an aunt while her father recuperated. So now she's stuck in a little town in the middle of nowhere and the only thing that keeps her sane is staring at the high way while waiting for her dad to show up, and trying to avoid her paranoid aunt as much as possible.

Meeting Peter is the first normal thing that has happened to her in forever, and so is for Peter... until fame and family intervene...

The second book Snapshot, is about Adam, probably the most childish of the Jamieson brothers and it follows him as he goes undercover in a regular high school and meets Marti. Marti is rock and roll royalty, as the daughter of a very famous rock star, but she hates everything related to rock music, and all she wants is the normal life she has made for herself next to her grandmother.

Yet, she is very drawn to Adam, who is hiding just how deep "in the business" he is, even if sometimes he wishes he weren't, as he's growing tired of a micromanaged life and constant touring.

Marti and Adam enjoy their time together, until said time grinds to a halt due to a tragedy.

My Thoughts: 
There were two reasons why I decided to combine the reviews for these two books: a) they do go hand in had, and I read them back to back; and b) the things that work and that don't work in each book are basically the same.

First, lets get the bad stuff out of the way: While I was reading both Rock and a Hard Place and Snap shot I could help comparing the Jamieson's band to the Jonas brothers. My mind just kept going there, I couldn't help it. Plus, from how their music was described, I didn't get the sense it was very rock and roll. Again, it had that Jonas brothers vibe that it just couldn't shake off.

Second, well, there were times where the characters sounded a lot younger than they were supposed to be. For example, when I started to read Rock and a Hard Place, I thought Libby and Peter were like 12, rather than 17.

Now the stuff that works: both stories are very easy to read and the characters can be quite likable. Both stories kind of have the same narrative structure - couple meets, fall in love at first sight, tragedy strikes, couple is torn apart and then brought back together - and when you read them back to back that becomes really obvious, but I didn't mind too much.

All in all, both stories were pretty harmless and they were okay. They didn't really stand out for me but I had a good time while I was reading them. And I am a bit intrigued about the last brother.

starstarstar(for both)

August 10, 2013

So... that's my other life...

More often than not, I try to keep my writing life well apart from my blogging life, but yeah, for the last 11 years I've been writing as Clavel in Fiction Press and other outlets. It all started when I dropped out of college when I was 18 and had all this time in my hands while I waited so I could switch schools... and I started to write.

Made lots of friends that way and it kind of helped me to work on my English, which was a lot more rudimentary back then. But when I started this blog, I wanted a separate identity from that, so I created AnimeGirl and then Alex; and for for them most part, I don't let the two overlap.

But then I got nominated for a Some Kind of Wonderful Award and I said, what the heck, maybe I can get some people to vote for me for a change.

See, I'm kind of a veteran of the SKOW awards, I've been nominated 3 times in the past, but I just never ever win or even come close. I got nominated about 3 years ago, and twice before that (My one claim to fame is that I was nominated on the same year as S.J. Maas' Queen of Glass, way back when).

This year, I was nominated in the Amazing Wordsmith category... and I decided to pimp myself out, for once! You don't have to blindly vote for me. You can check out my stuff before deciding, and I really do encourage you to check out the other authors and stories because there is some really awesome stuff out there. 



August 9, 2013

Book Review: One Day in Apple Grove by CH Admirand

A day late, I know but hey!! At least it's a post!!

The Plot: After serving in the marines as a medical corporal and getting his Medical degree, Dr. Jack Gannon is back in his hometown of Apple Grove, ready to take where his father - the former town's physician left off - and start his own practice.

As a youngster, he couldn't wait to leave Apple Grove and see the world, but after seeing some pretty bad stuff, he's quite happy to settle down and forget some of those places he couldn't wait to see.

Cait Mulchahy and two sisters have their hands full as the resident handy-women, fixing everything from leaky roofs to bed plumbing, which doesn't leave her with a lot of time for a social life, plus, it isn't like there are many eligible bachelors around, at least not until Doc Gannon moves back.

As a girl, Cait had never taken much notice of Jack, other than acknowledge that he was one of his older sister's best friends and the general town knowledge that he had joined the marines and that he had been injured while overseas; so she's not prepared for their first encounter, when they run into each other by the side of the road while he's trying to rescue a puppy.

The puppy, Jamie, brings them together though, and pretty soon they can't imagine their lives without each other, but they still got lots of stuff to deal with. 

First Date: Aww, how cute!! This small-town of Apple Grove sounds lovely, and I already love half the characters, though it would be nice if they stopped assuming I know or care about who Honey B is, I don't. 

Second Date: So, apparently, Honey B and Cait's older sister had their story in the previous book. uh, Still don't care. Back to Cait and Jack... well, things seemed to be moving REALLY slow there for a bit but then it just took a HUGE leap forward. Things are just starting to feel uneven. Cute puppy though. 

Third Date: Well... wasn't that nice? Perhaps a bit too much. *sigh* It does feel like this last date was a fizzle. 

Relationship Status: Don't Call Me, I Call You... maybe.

I really wanted to like One Day in Apple Grove, it even started really sweet and I was in, but little by little I was pulled out of the story, some things were just too darn cute and too darn much. My biggest problem, though? the way the PTSD that Jack suffers was handled - it was just mentioned when it was convenient and then swept under the rough and then trotted out again, and then just magically fixed. NOT COOL. 

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

August 7, 2013

Video Review: Superman - Birthright

Hello everyone!!

So yeah, I'm still alive and kicking, it just happens that I'm crazy busy and in the middle of finals week at the school I work at. 

Still, today I took a break from grading and I reviewed Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu. - I explain the video, and use the words awesome and "Really, really cute" and "really fun" a lot, but Birthright is a comic book that served as a new origin story for Superman a few years back (It was published in 2005) and it was awesome. 

So, I totally recommend it, but if you wanna hear me rambling about it, here it is:

Yes, I do look a little crazy, and my hair is a mess but I hope you can understand my accent! :D