April 28, 2014

Whats Making Me Happy.... (2)

Hello my peeps!!!
I know I'm a couple of days late but I'm crazy busy with work again, and that's one of the things that's making me happy. Onto the list!

1. I got hired for another term at my school (they last about 4 months)!

2. The Documentary "The Invisible War", which came out last year I think. It's not an easy to watch documentary as it deals with the wide-spread rape that occurs within the US military, tough to watch but very eye opening and very brave from everyone involved.

3. After searching high and low, for months, for a decent waffle, I got to eat this wonder on Saturday:

4. On Sunday I got to spend the day with my sister Boo and my cousin Betty, and that always makes me happy.

So, what about you? Also, if anyone wants to join or do their own version of it feel free!! and let me know so I can check out your blogs!

April 26, 2014

List Maniac: Books that Didn't Live Up to the Hype (YA version)

Hello!! This is my ListManiac for the moth of April and this one comes with a pretty big disclaimer: The following are my personal opinions based entirely on my personal experiences and in anyway there are meant to undermine anyone else's opinions. 

All of the books I'm talking about where both very hype and very well received when they first came out - within the last five years - but, for me, they didn't live up to all the stuff that was written about them. I'm not saying they are all "bad books" but they were disappointing in one way or another and I'm going to try to attempt to tell you why. In My Opinion. 

And yes, I read all these books cover to cover, that was one of my criteria, that I had to had finished the books in question. NO DFNs here - which is why I won't be talking about Twilight or The Book Thief here, :P

What's about: Jordan is a high school senior with a rich pro-football player father and two (or three?) older brothers who all play college football; and she wants to follow in their footsteps and play for a Division I team, and she's the Quarterback of her high school team. She fools around with some dude who turns out to be way too needy and then finally sees what was in front of her all along.

Why it Didn't Live Up to the Hype: Writing issues aside, I had two BIG problems with Jordan, a) she was described as a tall and slim, basically hot girl, no where in the text indicated that she had the body mass necessary to withstand being tackled by a 250 pound linebacker and the thought never crosses her mind ergo she's a TSTL. And b) she's very Misogynistic : for her other girls are a waste of time, they vary between silly and stupid and they just distract her teammates. She doesn't have one single kind word for any of the other girls in the book, and she thinks being girly or soft is bad. 

What's about: Anna's dad decided she's going to spend her senior year of high school in Paris, she's not entirely happy about it because no one asked her if she wanted to do it and she doesn't know anyone in her new school. She soon makes good friends and even falls in love. 

Why it Didn't Live Up to the Hype: See, this is a book that was actually pretty good - and I actually enjoyed it a lot more when I went back and re-read it after reading the mess that was Lola and the boy next door - and I grew to appreciate it. But it was just not the be all-end all that a lot of people were touting it to be. I never quite got the "swoon" of the story until it was put in context by Lola and the Boy Next Door (which I really didn't like). 

What's About: Two friends, behind the enemy lines during World War 2. 

Why it Didn't Live Up to the Hype: Aside from the fact that I have a serious problem with unreliable narrators and that I found the writing to be too wordy and a bit redundant; the book didn't tell me anything particularly shocking, unknown to me or new about World World 2 and how fucked up it was; and I think that a lot of people where just blown over by the history aspect of the story - same as with Rose Under Fire, I imagine that if you go cold into the story, not knowing much of the actual history, it would be very shocking - but I know my World World 2 well, so I wasn't blown over. Plus, I found the book really slow. Now, I see the value of the book, I just didn't find it all that great. 

What's About: Frankie throws a big tantrum because she's not allowed into an all-boys secret society at her fancy boarding school; so she messes up with everyone involved, gets lots of people in trouble, ignores her friends and all just because she can. 

Why it Didn't Live Up to the Hype: Frankie Landau-Banks is a book that I often hear proclaimed as this awesome piece of YA, and Frankie as a role model but I just found Frankie to be someone who messed with people just to prove her own cleverness. Like she gets all self-righteous about the secret society (which she only knows about because her dad as a member, and which she actually thinks is pretty lame at the beginning) and the fact that her boyfriend won't tell her about it, that she just goes on a rampage. The writing was clever, sure but it was ultimately very empty.

What's About: Dystopia, stuff, stuff, love triangle, stuff, stuff, Celebrity Death match!!! Oh, who are you kidding, you know what's about! 

Why it Didn't Live Up to the Hype: Book was easy to read and all but the pace was all over the place for me, I found the beginning kind of boring, the ending kind of rushed. The metaphors and allegories where a bit on the nose too. Other than that, I got nothing. I didn't click with it, it failed to make me care about the fates of these people beyond the initial shock value. 

So... that's me. I hope I didn't offed anyone, I tried to be as neutral as I could, and I'm aware that a lot of the stuff that brought down these books was completely personal and related to my taste. I got three romance novels I want to talk about but this post was getting kind of long, so I'm going to do those in a mini-listmaniac next week. 

Please, let me know what you think in comments, including if there were books that just didn't work for you though everyone love them. Or even a book that you love but no one else does. 

Also, the topics for next moth, we have series that ended bady and Favorite Graphic novel

April 19, 2014

What's Making Me Happy (1)

Hello my darling peeps! I hope you're all having a wonderful Easter weekend!!

So, recently I began listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour, an NPR podcast, and I love it, and at the end of each episode, all four hosts share what's making them happy that week; I loved the idea of it so I decided to start this weekly feature called What's Making Me Happy.

Part of my one big New Year's resolution was to be kinder to others and to myself, and just not let the world get me down, and I think this fits right into it.

So each week, starting today, I'll share a short list of the things that are making me happy!

Original Image found at Cutestuff.co
1. After a 7.2 earthquake that lasted almost 2 minutes yesterday morning, my city is business as usual. No major damage anywhere in the country, either.

2. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - I never brought into MLP's newest incarnation, though I was a fan of it when I was a kid, but a few weeks ago I started to watch the show and I'm totes hooked. I also discovered that I'm exactly like Pinkie Pie though I don't like parties - go figure. 

3. Mah new iPhone! Yup, I'm frivolous but I got a fancy new phone and I love it. 

4. And, of course, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, for being an awesome podcast. 

So, that's me, what about you? what's making you happy?

April 18, 2014

Friday Quickes: Here's Looking at You and You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

The Deal: Anna Alessi was never popular during her high school days: she was fat and a bit of an ugly duckling, but she eventually became a successful History professor, lost some weight and is currently deep in the world of online-dating, even if said world has proven to be disappointing more often than not.  

Still, Anna decides to attend her school's reunion to finally face her erstwhile bullies - who made fun of her because of her weight, her hair and her Italian heritage - and put the past behind her. There is one problem though: no one recognizes the new Anna. 

And then, she keeps running into James, her high school crush whom she holds a little in contempt since he was always in the group of kids who bullied her - not actively, more like he stood around and did nothing most of the time - even if she never fully got over him and seems much nicer these days.

My Thoughts: Here's is Looking at You didn't work so well for me, I have to say. Anna was interesting, but I kind of have a problem with how her life sort of got better after she lost weight and made herself over, something about the way that was presented didn't fully convince me. 

And I was bothered by a few things in the book, like how it handled the fact that Anna was a romance reader, and James' situation with his Ex, and a bunch of little things that sort of added up to me not liking the book.

Now I know I'm a bit alone in that opinion, and that lots of people have liked this book. But I felt like the ugly-duckling story has been done a lot, and I've simply read better versions of it. I felt like Here's Looking at You had nothing new to offer in that regard. 

The Deal: Rachel and Ben were close friends and confidantes during their college years, engaging in many a crazy adventure together... but something happened back then and now it's been ten years since the last time they spoke. 

Now Rachel lives in Manchester and just walked out on her (ex) fiancĂ© and is determined to get on with her life with the support of her friends and her job (she's a court reporter, btw); and just so happens that she runs into Ben for the first time. 

Ben just moved the Manchester, has been married for two years... and is as nice and desirable as he ever was. 

And the moment they see each other, it's like the years never went by and they never grew apart. 

My Thoughts: First off, I liked You Had Me at Hello, it was a very quick-paced story and the chapters were fairly short so I felt like I was reading pretty fast. I liked Rachel from the start, she did something pretty brave in the first few episodes - realizing that, even if she was midway planing her wedding, she didn't like her boyfriend much, anymore - and that made me notice her. 

I, incidentally, also liked Ben a lot, he sounded very attractive on the page and was fairly nice but... well, there is a big and spoilery but here, which I won't mention but it's easy to figure out. 

Over all, I'd say I liked the book but it did take me a bit to get adjusted to it, mostly because I was expecting a romance and this read more like Chick Lit or Woman's Fiction; and I had a few other issues with it, Rachel tends to be passive a lot of the time, there is my big "But", and it was a rather bittersweet most of the time.  

April 17, 2014

Speed Date: Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry and Pete Clark

The Plot (courtesy of GoodReads):
Not too long ago, in a town that, depending on your current location, is either not super far or actually quite close... (insert Star Wars theme music here...)
It is a time of chaotic hormones.

Two nerdy gents home for winter break have discovered a female gamer at a midnight release.

During the break, the gamer trio manages to reveal the game's secret boss, a hidden enemy with enough power to destroy anything in its path.

Pursued by other gamers who want to be the first to beat this boss, George and Katie race to level up, and, in so doing, restore decency and sexual activity to their personal galaxy..

First Date: All right! Midnight release for a game! George and Lanyon meet Katie... and they clash (George has the last copy of the game he and Katie were there to buy). Lanyon is clearly going to be the coming relief, I can tell but I don't mind. 

Second Date: That was the funniest and most awkward 'first date', Katie and George are two crazy kids but my kind of crazy for the most part. I don't like Jeff! Also, Katie, sweetheart, just because Jeff paid for your movie ticket and dinner, does not mean you have to let him slobber all over you and dry hump you at Denny's. Seriously! Plus, what are you doing going on a date with him?

Third Date: Oh, more references to gaming, less Jeff and more of Katie + George, their date-date was actually really sweet. Lanyon, you're creepy (you like to tag-along in other people's dates) but I like you, keep on being weird. 

Relationship Status: I shall play this game again.

I don't suspect Backward Compatible will be for everybody, it's heavy on the gaming references and 'geek culture', everyone has a mouth that would put a trucker to shame and part of me always felt like I should be ofended but never did because I was laughing too hard. 

Definitely a romance a little outside the norm, but a very entertaining one, I liked it a lot and, like I said, it made me laugh so much. And it had it's moments when it was actually very sweet, and I liked everyone in the book, really, except for Jeff. 

April 16, 2014

Book Review: The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy

At First Sight: Several weeks after the end of their last adventure, the Legue of Princes finds itself in deep trouble once more. There is a rumor running amok all the 13 kingdoms: that Briar Rose is dead and that the Princes Charming and their friends are responsible for it. Soon, Liam, Duncan, Frederick, Gustav, Ella, Lila, Snow and Rapunzel are the prime suspects. More over, there is a huge bounty on their heads and they are being hunted down by various bounty hunters.

After various circumstances that bring them together and then split them off, we follow the boys and the girls, as they try to clear their names, going about it in very different ways.

But soon, both groups stumble into a bigger, darker plot. 

Second Glance: Yes, I'm being vague again, but I just can't tell you what Hero's Guide To Being an Outlaw is all about without spoiling it big time, so I won't.

I always enjoy reading another adventure of the League of Princes and Outlaw was no exception, I love the gang - and I really liked seeing characters like Snow and Rapunzel having more page time and more time in their adventures, I like them both a lot. Also, Lila, I love Lila and her dynamic with Ruffian the Blue, if there was a moment when I got really emotional in this book (or two) it involved them.

On the other hand, there was a character I wished had a lot more page time because she's fun when she's around, but it didn't happen. Also, I have to say that by now, Liam is my least liked character of the bunch, I really liked Gustav in this one (he grew up a lot), and Duncan and Frederick have always been favorites, but Liam just... he didn't improve the more I got to know him, let's say.

Bottom Line: Hero's Guide To Being an Outlaw was a fun read, and it had its moments of pure awesome, but there were certain things that I didn't like as much as I had in previous installments. I still love the characters, and highly recommend the series, though. Book comes out on April 29th 

April 10, 2014

Book Review: Then and Always by Dani Atkins

At First Sight: Rachel Wiltshire has a great boyfriend, a place at a good university, great friends and a bright future. Until the night she and her group go out to celebrate their going away to college at the end of summer and a tragic accident leaves her life in pieces.

Years later, she returns to her hometown for her best friend's wedding and she's a completely different person, scarred both physically and mentally because of that accident and the things it took away from her.

Until tragedy strikes again, and she wakes up in a whole new-world, unsure which one is reality and which one is just a dream. 

Second Glance: I know it sounds like I gave away something of the plot of Then and Always but I actually kind of didn't, and I don't really have much to say about it other than it generated in me the same response as The Black Swan when I saw it: a big fat "That's it?"

I won't go into more detail than that, but while the writing was nice and I generally liked the characters and the plot of the book had lots of potential; the last minute twist - which I saw coming but was kind of hoping it wasn't what I thought it was going to be; just to have my hopes dashed because it totally was what I thought it was - was a last straw for me.

I just don't seem to enjoy when a book takes me on one direction and then deliberately switches lanes right at the end, for me it's a bit of a cheap shot. There were parts of the book that I really liked though, the book had me right at the beginning but then it lost me as it went on.

Bottom Line: All in all, I don't think Then and Always is a bad book, just that it was a bad fit for me. If you're into this sort of "sliding doors" and surprise reveals type of book, this might totally be for you. And really, the writing was good, it flowed pretty well, my troubles were more in the line of the plot itself. 

April 6, 2014

Book Review: Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry

The Deal: Vivian Walker and Seth Anderson met for the first time the night before their siblings got married. From the first time they saw each other, they felt an instant attraction, and eventually had a one-night stand they never told anyone about (mostly because both their siblings warned them off each other and wouldn't be happy at the idea of the two of them hooking up).

Ten years later, Vivian returns to Australia - after working as a fashion designer/stylist for the last few years in the US - and starts running into Seth again. Seth, on the other hand, is going through a bit of a rough patch: he has settled down somewhat after leaving his band and opening a bar; but he wasn't prepared for the shock he got when an on again-off again girlfriend of his got pregnant. 

Yet, he's facing his impending parenthood head on, and is actually kind of excited about it - even if his girlfriend, Lola, is a bit of a flake. Meeting Vivian again - and feeling the intense chemistry between them - is not exactly a welcome thing, but both are bound by their familial ties, so avoiding each other isn't an option.

My Thoughts: Well... I'm sorry to say Her Kind of Trouble wasn't a winner for me. The writing is lovely as usual and the story rather entertaining. but the estructure of the book just didn't work for me. 

We start at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding between Vivian's Sister and Seth's brother and everyone is warning Seth and Vivian off each other, and then they go and do the exact thing they were asked not to do (have sex with each other). Oddly enough, knowing right off the bat what had happened between them took off some of the charm of the book for me - I wasn't intrigued to find out what had happened between them because I already knew, if that makes sense; there was very little intrigue in that regard. 

And then there were the characters, I thought Vivian and most of the other characters were pretty okay, but I never really warmed toward Seth, he's very hard on Vivian when they meet again, and I didn't like that about him - in a way it's like he thinks less of her because she slept with him all those years ago. 

Especially considering the situation Seth is in. 

Like I said, the book is not bad per se, but it's not my favorite Mayberry by far, this one is just okay; and I have to say I didn't quite buy the romance - other than their few sexual encounters, I didn't buy Seth and Vivian together.