September 30, 2008

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Scarlett Martin's summer stretches ahead of her as a long, long period of torture. Starting at her fifteenth birthday things are not going well. Her birthday breakfast goes badly and then she's informed she will not be able to get a job for the summer and instead she'll be stuck working at the hopeless Hopewell Hotel -which her family owns - since the situation is quite dire as less and less guest come.

She's also given one room to care for, the Empire Suite and she's surprised when quickly afterward she gets permanent guest, Mrs. Amberson a C-list starlet from days past; who also happens to like sending Scarlett on errands for organic stuff, flirting with Scarlett's brother Spencer (though is quite harmless) and involving her on crazy schemes.

With the Hotel to save and Spencer's acting career on the line, Scarlett certainly gets a lot more out of her summer than what she bargained for.

I'll say that I liked the book, it started a little bit slow but by the end I was racing through the pages to get to the conclusion, and it's a good conclusion but it also feels like the closing of Part I, if you know what I mean. In fact I learned recently that Suite Scarlett is the first of a series (second being Scarlett Fever coming sometime next year) and it does have a bit of a feel of Book I, but all in all, it's quite good. I specially liked the interactions between the Martin siblings (Spencer, Lola, Scarlett and Marlene).



September 25, 2008

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Blue Bloods
Schuyler Van Allen feels like an outsider at the prestigious Duchesne school, she has one friend, Oliver, and basically feels like a misfit. Her father died when she was a baby and her mother has been in coma since around the same time, and the only family she has is a distant grandmother who insists she calls her Cordelia.

Schuyler thinks she knows her own story, the Van Allens are a powerful, old family, one of the ones that came in the Mayflower and by all rights should be part of New York's elite, like the twins Jack and Mimi Force who also attend her school.

When she turns fifteen, a mosaic of blue veins begin to show at her wrists and soon she learns of a legacy she could do without, she's a Blue Blood, a vampyre. Only that in this story vampires aren't quite what one is used to.

Some of the commonplace elements are there - like the bloodsucking- but others change, and I'll let you discover them yourself if you read the book. It is a new take on an old story, and it's quite well written, it draws you in; but even so the book feels a little uneven, things are mentioned and then not explained and even when they are the explanations are rarely satisfactory.

And there are certain elements of it that made me cringe, but I guess that's because I was brought up Catholic. Anyway, it is a good vampire book, and it is fun. Kind of Gossip Girl meets Dracula, far better than Twilight in my opinion.


September 20, 2008

The Off Season by Catherine Murdock

Off SeasonA couple of months ago I reviewed Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock, by then I did know it had a sequel The Off Season and I liked the first book enough to read it. Well, I loved it.

D.J.'s life seemed to be reaching a happy note at the end of Dairy Queen as she was learning to speak her mind and was making her dream come true by joining the boy's football team, her brothers were speaking to their dad again and Brian Nelson -the hottie QB from the town next over - seemed to like her.

As The Off Season starts, it seems like good things are going to stick, D.J.'s is becoming friends with Dale, her best friend Amber's girlfriend, and Brian took her on a drive to Minneapolis - in what D.J. regards as the happiest day ever - and they end up making out; her brothers are making it big in college football and everything seems perfect... but soon things start to go sour.

D. J. discovers the family's farm is bleeding money out of the family, she gets injured during a football practice and has to face the fact that if she wants to get a basketball scholarship for college she can't keep playing football, Brian seems embarrassed to be seen with her and won't even acknowledge her in front of his friends, Amber and Dale decide to take off to Chicago, her brother Curtis is caught staying over night at his girlfriend's house. But then the worse thing happens: D.J. oldest brother Win is seriously injured during a game and might not walk again.

It seems like a lot of things are going on in the book, and they are, but they are handled skillfully and it does sound like real life: the struggles and the many problems as well as the small moments of great happiness; and through it all D.J.'s voice carries you through keeping you close to her and wanting her to do well.

I loved this book, more than I loved Dairy Queen and that was a good book. I cried, I cheered and, by the end, felt very hopeful. I love books that leave me hopeful


starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

September 13, 2008

The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

Grace Eversleigh was coming home with her employer -the dowager Duchess of Wyndham - when they were attacked by a highwayman and his gang, only that this turns out to be a rather charming Highwayman... and the Duchess happens to identify him as his long-lost grandson (son of her favorite son who died in a shipwreck in Irlanda almost 30 years before). Grace doesn't know if it's true or not but she can't help to be charmed and attracted by the sly man who even steals a kiss from her.

But when the Dowager Duchess makes her part of the highwayman's kidnapping, Grace is in and with no way of getting out. Plus, she's not even all that sure she wants out when Jack Audley - the afore mentioned highwayman - comes to live at Wyndham castle while they sort everything out. Jack who loathes his newfound grandmother and can't stand the cousin he never knew he had (and who happens to be the current duke); but he likes Grace. Oh, he likes her very much.

Soon they set on a journey to Ireland and what they find there could possibly change everything.

Okay, I'll say it now, I'm a big Julia Quinn fan I love most of her books but I wasn't happy, neither with the last couple Bridgerton books (I hated It's In His Kiss and Hyacinth) or with The Secreat Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, not that there are bad books, they are just not that good.

However, I've recovered my faith on J.Q. with this book, it's fresher, it flows and it's just plain fun. Jack is an amazing character, I had so much fun reading his dialogue, and Grace I liked a lot.

It's not my favorite Julia Quinn book but it's a good one and I can't wait for it's companion book Mr. Cavendish I presume, to come out by the end of the month.



The Billionaire Next Door by Jessica Bird

Billion Sean O'Banyon is a though and ruthless deal maker, cool and calculating, he rarely lets anything get to him. But there is one thing that can: His relationship with his father. When one night he gets a call from a nurse called Lizzie Bond, informing him of the death of his father, Sean doesn't know what he's in for. Lizzie, for her part, is a hard working nurse, working all hours to pay the bills and support her child-like mother, yet she loves her work, her house and her life.

Meeting Sean was a complete casualty for her, and she doesn't know about him, about his wealth or his power, she just likes him... Of course, things are rarely that easy.

This book surprised me, I mean, I rarely ever read category romance yet this one was amazing, I'll confess that I first picked it up 'cause I learned Jessica Bird and J. R. Ward are the same person, and I wanted to see what she could do outside the Black Dagger Brotherhood; how ever, this book enchanted me on it's own right pretty quicky.

I liked Sean, his motives and fears and, even, his prejudices were well constructed, they don't just sprout out of nowhere. And Lizzie is a lovable and plain nice character, yet she has a backbone to be envied without being a forceful person, and it's nice to see them interact.

Also, I loved Sean's brothers. Billy - who you actually meet - and Mac - who has like, five lines in the whole book but from whom you hear plenty about - and they are both great and I want to read about them, so I hope she writes them too.

starstarstarstar1/2 Personal Favorite

September 9, 2008

Perfect by Sara Shepard

Perfect (Book three of the Pretty Little Liars Series)

Oh, there are plenty of secrets to go around Rosewood, and they keep destroying our four protagonist's lives. Spencer gets nominated to a prestigious award thanks to an essay she ripped off her perfect older sister Melissa. Emily keeps struggling with her sexuality. Aria has a new boyfriend but keeps thinking on the old one. And Hanna becoming a dork, all thanks to her best friend Mona.

There are more questions than answers in this book, though I found it highly satisfactory, it's fast paced, enthralling and fun. A's tricks keep getting more and more wicked as some people come closer to finding out her identity. Of course A isn't going to make it easy.

Again, these aren't books you can read out of order, but if you stick to them, you're in for great fun.



September 7, 2008

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

FrancescaOne day Francesca wakes up to find her Mom didn't get out of bed, and she goes off to school feeling a little bit off, but then lots of things are 'off' in Francesca's life, for one her mother refused to let her go to the same school as her other friends from St. Stella's and she ended up going to St. Sebastian's, a school that used to bee all-boys and just opened it's doors to girls.

So, in this year, Francesca finds her self hanging out with the Psycho Girls: Justine, Tara and Siobhan; and battling the St. Sebastian boys - and finding she can even like some of them, some as friends and some as more. And all the while, at home, she's struggling with her family falling apart, with her little bother Luca now depending on her and her frequents fights with their dad as her mother sinks deeper and deeper into depression.

Yet, it's not a sad book, far from it, it's actually very hopeful and I loved being next to Francesca as she learned to appreciate her friends and her family and found her way into saving herself.

Highly recommend this book


starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

September 6, 2008

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

AlibrandiIt's a year of change in the life of Josie Alibrandi, on the outside she could be any girl: she's reasonably popular at her private catholic school - even if she is on an scholarship - and she has good friends; but if you look closer she's being pulled in all directions, caught between her Italian family - mostly her single mother Christina and her grandmother Katia - and the everyday Australian culture.

She wants to belong yet she doesn't know where she belongs to. And then the father she has never know - and who doesn't really know about her - shows up; and she finds herself between two boys, one who wants to be friends and one who may want to be more than that.

And then her Grandmother Katia, whom she loves but sort of dislikes at times, begins to tell her a story, one that could explain more than Josie could imagine at first.

What can I say, I love this book. It doesn't matter that I've never been to Australia or that I don't have even an ounce of Italian heritage, I still could find my way to relate to Josie and feel for her and what she was going through, good things and bad.


starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite