October 30, 2013

Book Review: The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins

At First Glance: Honor Holland is the responsible one, she runs the business end of her family's winery almost single handedly and she never strays from the straight and narrow. Until the day she turns 35 and is informed by her doctor that her biological clock is ticking. Which prompts her to go see her "Friend with Bennefits" of a dozen years (and basically only close friend) Brogan and ask him to marry her.

Brogan rejects her, only to wind up engaged to Honor's only othe friend Dana less than two months later.

Rejected and humiliated, Honor agrees to marry Tom Barlow, a british engeneering professor at the local college who is a bit desperate for a green card that would allow him to stay in the States near his "unofficial" step-son Charlie.

Second Glance: So I vaguely remembered Honor from reading The Best Man a few months ago, and I was a bit intrigued by the story so I picked it up even when Kristan Higgins and myself have been very hit-and-miss lately.

The Perfect Match turned out to be a nice story in the end but it was by no means perfect. It was enjoyable in that vague way most of Kristan Higgins' books are: they have charming lead characters, quirky-cute background characters and they are generally well written. But it also suffered from the usual downfalls of Higgins' books: she loves to humiliate he characters, and they tend to make too much of things that are unimportant and kind of incorrect.

In this case, the doctor telling Honor  - quite badly and in a very unprofesional way - that her eggs are basically expringing at the ripe old-age of 35 and that she should get busy having kids, prompt an otherwise level-headed woman to do something foolish.

And there is also that moment I have in almost every Higgins book where I scream at the book and at the protagonist so she'll grow a spine and speak up and stick up for herself. (they always take forever to do so, in my opinion).

Tom was nice but a bit piggy headed too.

Bottom Line: I do recommend The Perfect Match, I think it's one of the better books Ms Higgins has put out in the last couple of years and it was quite enjoyable in it's own way.

October 26, 2013

Book Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

The Deal: Rose Justice really wanted to help in the war effort and used her family's influence to become an ATA in England, where she flies planes back and forth so other people can fly them into the warfront. She hopes she could do more, though, as she has more flying experience than half the male pilots, but she knows being an ATA is pretty much all she can hope for. 

So she's en England, away from here family and doing what she can. Until one time when she's flying a plane from France to England and she's captured and sent to a concentration camp. 

There Rose, who always lived a privileged and sheltered life in Pensilvania, can barely wrap her mind around the atrocities happening around her and to her, even as she's living them. 

My Thoughts: Rose Under Fire is an emotional read, the things Rose goes through and how war takes a toll on the young - even before she is captured, she talks about how tired they all are all the time, because they can't stop working on the war effort - and I've to say that at first I liked the style a bit more than in Code Name Verity

But only at the beginning, as unreliable a narrator as "Verity" was and as word-y as I sometimes found it, I liked the structure of it better. With Rose Under Fire, it starts so well, but at one point it was going back and forth quite a bit via flashbacks, between her life after and her life while in the camp, and I found that a bit distracting. Same with her poetry, but I'm no big fan of poems, I have to admit. 

The writing is powerful and it does deliver a punch, but I don't know... World Ward II it's one of those subjects I know an unusual amount of, so I knew a lot of the things Rose was about to come face to face with and I knew about the "Rabbits" so, there was the punch but I'm not sure it affected me as much as it will to other readers. It was awful, but I was kind of prepared for it, so I wasn't in shock and I found Rose a little too naive. 

Otherwise, Elizabeth Wein is a great story teller, and Rose's voice does pull you into the story and keeps you there. My one complaint, though, is how little involvement Rose's family has with her in the aftermath, that was just plain weird. But then again, I'm Mexican, we tend to be super close knit in good and bad times. 

October 24, 2013

Cover Love: The Hero's Guide to Being and Outlaw

Hello my peeps!!
Just a quick post to show you the cover for a Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw, third book of the League of Princes series.

There isn't a summary yet so, without further ado, I give you the cover:

It looks really fun!! :) And I can't wait for it!!!

Also, sorry I havent been able to comment or answer comments. I'm still a bit sick :(

October 22, 2013

Book Review: Two of a Kind by Yona Zeldis McDonough

At First Sight: When they first met at a wedding, Christina Connolly and Andy Stern weren't off to the best start. Christina thought Andy rude and brusque, and Andy thought Christina was very reserved and icy.

But Christina, an interior decorator, couldn't turn her nose up at the opportunity to work for Andy - a very successful obi/gyn doctor - on his Upper East Side apartment.

Both are widowers (Christina for 10 years, Andy for about 2), and don't seem to have much in common, each struggling with careers and single-parenthood; but little by little they are drawn to each other, building on a physical attraction they can't help but to explore.

In the background are both their children, Christina's 14 year old Jordan who is an aspiring ballerina who puts too much pressure on herself; and Andy's 16 year old Oliver, who is using drugs to cope with his Mom's death and Andy's workaholic ways.

To Andy's surprise, Oliver likes Christina almost instantly and is happy to spend time with her, but Jordan is another story entirely as she can't seem to stand him; making their blending of their families seem impossible. 

Second Glance: Two of a Kind was a pleasant surprise. I hoped I would like it, but I wasn't sure as I hadn't tried this author before and the beginning was a little slow - it takes Christina and Andy a while to get together.

But I loved this book for it's realism, even though they are vaguely attracted to each other at first, Andy and Christina don't jump in bed together, they become friends first and they have many fights - Christina is a bit oversensitive as a result of a childhood spent with a volatile parent; and Andy is used to let his mouth run off and has little tact when dealing with people other than his patients - yet they try to make it work, even when real life keeps intruding.

You also get to see a lot of their life apart, with Christina's struggling business and Andy's practice, and it's nice to see that they have real problems. I even liked Oliver and Jordan, even if Oliver was a bit of aimless and Jordan was a bit of a brat.

My one complaint about the book is that I would have liked to see Andy and Christina spend more time together. 

Bottom Line: Two of a Kind was a very enjoyable read, full of characters that right true and sound normal. It's not exactly a romance novel, but it has a very strong romantic element and it had some very sweet moments - my favorite is when Andy tells Oliver that Christina is his girlfriend and Oliver has the best reaction ever.

October 17, 2013

Book Review: Montana Bride by Joan Johnston

At First Sight: Hetty Wentworth is in a bit of a fix: her family's wagon was attacked after they were separated from the wagon trail due to something she did; and she has no idea where her sisters are or if they survived.

She feels responsible for the things that lead to this tragedy, so when two children, Grace and Griffin, ask her to pretend to be their mother and become a mail-order bride, Hetty lets those feelings of guilt and responsibility pull her into their children mad scheme, going with them to Montana to meet Karl Norwood.

Karl is used to being second best in everything, as everyone in his life (from his father to his brother and best friend) always remind him he's average in every regard. So he sent for a mail-order bride so he could start a family as he worked a logging project for his brother's company. He wasn't expecting said bride to be a beauty like Hetty or for her to be obviously lying about who she is.

Still, he met his commitment and he'll honor it, taking Hetty as his wife and Grace and Griffin as his children, and taking them to Bitterroot, where they'll be living.

Hetty is willing to do anything it takes to make sure Griffin and Grace are safe, even if she's not attracted to Karl, like at all. 

Second Glance: I admit I requested and read this book mostly because I've read all the books in this series so far and I kind of feel compelled to finish it.

Thankfully, I liked Montana Bride a lot more than I liked the previous books, I don't know what it was, I just enjoyed this set of characters more and their story was very interesting, I liked Grace and Griffin, they were difficult children at time (well, Grace is almost fourteen) and had to do some very questionable things to survive basically alone.

But they love each other and they grow to love Hetty and Karl - who wins everyone over because he's a really decent person. And that's another thing I liked about Montana Bride. Yes, Karl is not much to look at but he's very nice and treats everyone kindly, yet he still has flaws and insecurities.

Hetty did a 180 with me, because at first I didn't like her much but I did like her toward then end. 

Bottom Line: An enjoyable read, particularly if you like Historical Americana romances. This title will be published in January 2014

October 16, 2013

Book Review: The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy

At First Sight: Almost a year after forming the League of Princes, the princes charming Liam, Gustav, Frederic and Duncan are each doing their own thing. Duncan is in his woodland estate with wife Snow, trying to write down his Hero's Guide. Gustav is hanging out with some trolls since they are better company than his 16 brothers. Liam is staying with Frederick and Ella since he still can't go back to his home.

Then, just as Liam is wearing out his welcome with Frederick's dad, he gets kidnapped by his fiancé Briar Rose who is tired of waiting for him, and has decided is time for their wedding to happen; even if they don't really like each other.

Of course, the League of Princes isn't about to let one of their own be kidnaped and forcibly married, so they get together to rescue Liam.. and end up implicated in something way bigger than they first imagined. 

Second Glance: I loved visiting with the Princes Charming, Ella, Laila, Snow and even Briar - actually, I kind of grew to love Briar Rose during the course of this book! - and I even liked getting to know Rapunzel a little better this time around.

I love this world and these characters so much, though I admit Liam wasn't at his best in this story and I was really frustrated with him a lot, I love Duncan and Frederick (they are my two favorite princes of the quartet), and I love Laila.

Over all, I think The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle was a wonderful sequel to The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. There were some things I liked better here, and some I liked better in the previous book, but it all evens out in the end and I'm super excited for The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw, which will be out next year. 
Bottom Line: I laughed, I cried - yes I did, but I can say where because it was near the end - and I loved this book. Totally recommend, though you should probably read Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom first. 
starstarstarstar1/2Personal Favorite 

October 13, 2013

As Seen on TV (sort of!): EMMA APPROVED

Hello my peeps!!

So, last year I was totally obsessed with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I followed that series till the end and when the same production company announced they were doing a new series I was excited, but a little wary. Particularly when I learned they would be tackling Jane Austen's Emma next. 

Emma is a character you either love or you hate: she's the pretty, rich and popular girl who likes to meddle and manage people around her and thinks she's always right. Is easy for her to get on your nerves. But the thing about Emma is that she always means well. 

So, I was a little skeptical when Emma Approved was announced and I watched the first episode last Monday not expecting much; but I was happily surprised. With only two episodes out, Emma Approved is turning out to be a really nice webseries.

In this version, we find Emma as a life coach and matchmaker who's sort of helping plan the wedding of her friend Annie Taylor to Cupcake mogul Mr. Weston; and she is documenting her "greatness" for when she gets her award in "lifestyle excellence" or something like that. We also get to met Alex Knightly - friend and business partner at the Highbury Group - and I love the interactions between them. 

So far, they have gotten things right with this series and I'm excited to see what comes next! 

October 12, 2013

Cover Love: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Yesterday, Rainbow Rowell revealed the cover of her upcoming novel Landline, which will be out next July from St. Martin's Press:

I like the design, is very "Pop", reminds me of the 90's, for some reason. 

Here is the summary per Rainbow Rowell's site:
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.
Maybe that was always besides the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if they never got married at all?

I'm very excited!! So far Rainbow Rowell hasn't failed me in the awesome department and I can't wait for what comes next from her.

October 11, 2013

Book Review: Her Favorite Rival by Sarah Mayberry

At First Sight: Audrey Mathews is used to working hard to get what she wants, and what she currently wants the most is to get the next promotion that opens up in her department - though she would settle for not loosing her job since the new CEO of the company is on a rampage and has been firing people left and right.

Labeled the black sheep of her family at a very young age, and never quite measuring up to her younger sister Leah in their parents eyes, Audrey takes lots of pride in her accomplishments, in the way she has worked up the corporate ladder since she started working at Maker's at 19. Her parents might be doctors, but one handled her anything; unlike Zach Black.

Zach is the company's newest hire, who went to good schools and has tons of degrees, and wears fancy suits and drives a fancy car. Audrey knows that the only person standing in her way of that promotion is Zach.

Zach knows he's not Audrey's favorite co-worker, but hasn't been able to figure out why, and he would like to since he finds Audrey very attractive and is drawn to her.

Then they are thrown together in a special project by their boss, and Zach sees it as his opportunity to finally clear the air between them; and Audrey has to admit that the more she gets to know him the more she likes him.

But with both their jobs on the line, she isn't sure getting involved with Zach is a good idea. 

Second Glance: There were so many things I liked about Her Favorite Rival. Audrey and Zach were both such delightful characters, they are both quite complex and have many hang ups but they have managed to rise above them more or less.

Zach had a difficult childhood, growing up in a rough neighborhood and taking care of his messed up mom; Audrey is used to be treated badly by her parents due to some rebelling she did when she was younger and something else that wasn't really her fault, but which her mom is happy to blame her for anyway.

They both have many preconceptions about the other, particularly Audrey in regards of Zach, but they deal with it pretty maturely when they have to work together and clear the air - I liked that they both acted like mature adults in that regard, rather than throwing tantrums better suited to a playground.

I guess that's one of the things I liked best about Her Favorite Rival, how normal and "everyday" everything was. Both Zach and Audrey sounded real to me, neither was super rich or super powerful, they were worried about keeping their jobs - like we all are, deep down - and where just trying to do the best under the circumstances without anything Extraordinary happening to them, other than falling in love.

Bottom Line:  I definitely recommend Her Favorite Rival for anyone who's looking for a relaxing read, I think is a great contemporary romance with smart, mature characters and it's actually lots of fun! there are some gems of dialogue in the book, trust me! 

October 10, 2013

Yes... I'm sick again

Once more the un-holly trinity of Flu, Throat infection and Cough has me on its clutches. I went to work for the last three days but luckily I get Thursdays and Friday's off and I got to stay home and rest a bit. Also my Dad stayed home with me all day and we ate left overs for breakfast (fries!), unpacked and put together my new bookcase from Pier 1, and then we ordered pizza and watched Grease, which apparently is just what I needed since I'm starting to feel better, finally.

Still, can't breathe right and my whole body aches because of the constant coughing, but I'm done grading papers and tests and I don't have to yell at my students teach class until monday! YAY!!

Hopefully tomorrow I can work on the blog a bit and review a couple of books I finished last week, and Emma Approved, which I'm approving off... so far! And well, just hang out with you guys more!! I miss being able to blog more often :(

October 7, 2013

Book Review: The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle

At First Sight: Used to being the ugly duckling of her own family, Mary Bennet spends most of her time alone. Knowing fully well that her sisters don't really like her, and that she has embarrassed her family on more than one occasion, Mary has started to change, becoming more thoughtful and acquiring some decorum. Even if she's still left alone most of the time -while Kitty is more often invited to visit their elder sisters Jane and Elizabeth - at least her relationship with her father is improving bit by bit.

But then, her youngest sister Lydia shows up heavily pregnant and announcing she has left her husband and -after some proving - admits she isn't 100% sure that her husband is even the baby's father.

Fearing for their reputation, Mary and Kitty are sent off to Jane's home. There Mary is in for more changes, Jane has noticed the changes in her and is showing her both approval and affection, Kitty - away from Lydia's influence- is a bit less of a brat; and one of Bingley's friends by the name of Henry Walsh starts to show some interest in her.

Too bad that Kitty has shown interest in Mr. Walsh as well.

Second Glance: For me, The Pursuit of Mary Bennet was a bit of a mixed bag of nuts. The story has a great rhythm and the pace is brisk. The story is told completely from Mary's POV and I think the author did a good job of capturing her voice: Mary is smart but naive, has lots of mixed feelings toward her family, is a little bitter but she's not unlikable. It's actually kind of sad to hear how badly she thinks of herself because her family has always marked her as the least favored child.

I even liked Henry Walsh for the most part, even though he was polite to the point of driving me mad, he even hurt Mary (unintentionally) to avoid being impolite to Kitty in public, which made him seem like he didn't have a backbone sometimes.

It was an interesting sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but it wasn't without it's issues -like I said, it was Mixed Bag of Nuts. Mary does put herself down a little too much, Kitty is very hurtful sometimes and the whole subplot with Lydia's daughter and now attached Mary gets was a little weird for me.

Plus, I often felt like something big was about to happen but then it never quite did.

Bottom Line: All in all, I do recommend The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, specially if you're a fan of Miss Austen, and enjoy retellings. The author does seem to capture the family and the story was quite interesting in it's own right.