February 28, 2011

Book Read in February


Okay! Second update of the year!

You can see my running list of books read so far in my Books of 2011 tab in the navigation bar above, so I'll just run a tally here:

Books read this month: 13
Books read so far: 29
Out Do Yourself Challenge (2011/2010 ratio by this month): 29/20
Out Do Yourself Challenge so far: 29/121
100+ Challenge: 29/100
Aussie YA Challenge: 2/6
Contemporary Romance: 4/10
Historical Romance Challenge: 4/12
YA Reading Challenge: 12/50

And that's my month in books!

What say you?Alex

February 27, 2011

At the Movies: The King's Speech

The King's Speech tells the story of how the Duke of York became King George VI of Britain. Bertie, as he was known to his friends, was never meant to rule. Afflicted by a crippling stammer, he was happy to remain in the background, happily married and raising his two daughters, involving himself in the matters of State so long as they didn't involve public speaking.

The movie opens with a failed attempt to deliver a speech in Wembley some years before the death of his father, and describing some of the  ten Duke of York's attempts at finding help for his condition, despairing at the lack of results. Secretly, his wife  keeps looking for help for him, which eventually leads her to Lionel Logue, a speech therapist who, with unconventional methods and against all odds, helps the King to find his own voice.

I have to say that I adored this movie, not only was a very cool historical movie, relating a key point in the history of Britain - that point just before the start of World War II - but it was also so damn funny, with a great rhythm. I didn't feel like I was watching a multi-award nominated movie, I just felt like I was watching a good movie: fun and full of heart.
I'll give it an A.


February 25, 2011

Retro Friday (3) - Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson

Retro Friday
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!

Simply Irresistible
Not crazy about the cover, though
This week I chose Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson, and since I hadn't review it before, here it goes:

At First Sight: Running out on her wedding and leaving her groom at the altar was the last bad choice in a string or really bad life choices made by Georgeanne Howard, but it might also have been the wisest choice she had made yet. On her way out, she got a ride from bad boy hockey player John Kowalsky, who was leaving the reception at the same time as she. 

Without a fixed plan - and used to depending on other people for everything - Georgeanne is ready to tease and flirt her way into his letting her stay with him for a few days. But John isn't very receptive to the idea, mostly because her now jilted fiance is the owner of the team John plays for and a vindictive SOB. 

But the night was long, and both of them had too many demons too close to the surface. And so, after a night of wild sex, Georgeanne ended up dumped at the Sea-Tac airport with a plane ticket back to Texas and a broken heart. 

That day, when Georgie hit rock bottom, was the day she began to build her life back up and, 7 years later, she's the co-owner of a successful catering company, has a great life and a daughter she cherishes more than anything. And running into John at a charity event is a very unwelcome shock.

John has cleaned up his act as a bad boy, knowing he's damn lucky to be alive and healthy after all the reckless behavior and drinking he indulged in. He's surprised to see Georgie and - when she accidentally drops her check book - decides to drop by her house and return it to her. He's curious to see why she's still in Seattle, and what happened to her after he left her at the airport (not his finest moment, but he thought it was for the best). The last thing he expects to find there is a little six year old girl wearing a fluffy boa, pink cowboy boots and looking at him through blue eyes that are surprisingly like his own.

Second Glance: I first read Simply Irresistible many, many years ago. And I loved it. It holds up well to the re-read and the past of time (it's set in 1989 and 1996). I loved the story of John and Georgie, and loved learning all the things that happened to make them who they are. I loved how John simply falls in love with his daughter and strives to be a good father, even if he's clueless about what little girls do and his daughter scares the crap out of him (as in, I SO don't want to screw this up), and that there is some build up to their relationship. Lexie was an amazing character, one of the best written children ever. And I really liked seeing Georgie's transformation from flirt and tease to a responsible woman.

Woven in, there is also the story of Georgie and John's best friends. Mae Heron - co-owner of Heron Catering - was still trying to recover from the loss of her twin brother when she first met Georgie and hired her as cook for her business, and then Georgie and Lexie became her family, filling up a bit of the void left behind by Ray. Mae hates the jerky-jock type and, upon first meeting Hugh Miner, she's convinced he's just that type. Hugh is John's best friend - the goalie of their hockey team - and he's fascinated by Mae from their first meeting, and pursues her come hell or high water, even though she seems so disinterested. Their relationship is certainly one of the funniest things about this book.

Bottom Line: Over all, Simply Irresistible is lovely contemporary story that you can read, and read and read. It does start a little slowish, but it's fun all the way through.
starstarstarstar2/3Personal Favorite


February 24, 2011

Book Blogger Hop #15

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is a lovely, weekly meme hosted by Jennifer@Crazy for Books. The Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word!  

This is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read!  

This week's question:
"Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?"

I actually named it two different things before.

Right when I started, it was called AnimeGirl's Reviews, but  somehow my blog (the html and layout) got seriously messed up and I couldn't fix it, so closed that page down and opened AnimeGirl's Bookshelf (which, to this day, is the address of my blog).

But after about a year, I felt Bookshelf was a bit... restrictive, so I eventually made the choice to re-name it "A Girl, Books and Other Things", so I could include other things - like movies and Tv shows and just the ocasional random commentary about life. 

I've often thought about changing the blog's address to reflect the new name, but I somehow think it will be a lot of trouble. So I'm sticking it out. 

I really like my present name, as I feel it really fits the blog as it is now. And I also love that lately I have had the courage to sign with my own name rather than one of my super-secret identities (such as AnimeGirl or Clavie, which is how I'm mostly known in the internet-world). 

So, thats me, what about you?

February 23, 2011

Book Review: The Particularly Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

lemon cake
At First Sight:  On the eve of her 9th birthday, Rose arrived home from school to a lemon-chocolate cake that her mother had baked in practice for Rose's birthday party the next day, and with a bite of that cake, her whole life changed. She discovered she could taste her mother's emotions in the cake, and what she tasted was despair and sadness. From then on, she had to learn to live with the knowledge she gains with each bite about the person who prepared the food.

She tastes her mother's mood shifts, and her father's detachment, and her older brother's clash with the world. As she grows up, she can go back even further back, to the ingredients and the people who process the food. 

This is a knowledge that costs her her innocence and, at times her sanity.

Second Glance: I don't know what I expected from this book, but it wasn't anything I got. I had a few problems with it from the outset, mainly because I was listening to the audio book rather than reading it, and they had the author read the story and, as a result, the narrative was very flat - there was no change in the voices or emotions through out.

And, also, the book goes on and on, stretching for over 10 years, and there is no clear conclusion. I liked Rose at first but I felt little change in her, even with all the years that pass. And, though I felt some compassion for her brother, he was very hard to connect to, just as Rose is after a while. 

Bottom Line: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake has an interesting premise, but it sort goes no where and it's not really enjoyable either.

February 21, 2011

List Maniac #18 - Favorite Women of Fiction

Form the beautiful mind that brought you lists such as "Favorite Men of Fiction", "Favorite Guys of Fiction" and "Favorite Girls of Fiction", now comes Favorite Women of Fiction! YAY!

Okay, let's cut to the chase:

Kiss Her
Emma Dove (And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke)
Why do I love Emma?? Well, she lives her live by all the rules, she's too sensible for her own good, and being that way often puts her at risk of not getting what she wants.  But one day she decides she has had enough and decides to go after her dreams with all she has. And she promises herself - and Harry - that she will never again lie or cheat herself out of the things she wants. She's smart and sweet and proper, yet she has a wild streak hidden. 

Sugar Beth Carey (Ain't She Sweet? by Susan Elizabeth Phillips)
In high school, Sugar Beth was the epitome of a mean girl, but life gave her more of her fair share of struggles afterward, and those struggles were what made her turn her life around. And yet she kept the sass of her youth, only that now she uses her powers for good instead of evil. She also got the guy she almost ruined 10 years before, to write a romance novel for her- you know, after they make up and get together. And she loves Georgette Heyer over Faulkner!

Penelope Featherington (Romancing Mr. Bridgerton/Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn)
Penelope was the kind of girl everyone always made fun of: She used to be chubby and her mother insisted on making her wear orange and yellow because they were happy colors and gentlemen like happy girls, never mind both colors made her look awful. Yet, as time passed, she grew into herself and displayed an enormous amount of quiet courage and dignity. When she was about 21, she heard the man she had been in love since she was 16, declare: "I' am certainly not going to marry Penelope Featherington!", and her answer was priceless: "I never asked you to marry me. And I never said to anyone that I wanted you to ask me." (He later has to eat his own words which is awesome). Penelope is also the keeper of the most delicious secret, she has a super secret identity!

Giselle (Enchanted)
I don't know why I loved Enchanted as much as I did, but its my ultimate feel-good movie. And Giselle has a lot to do with that. I guess it's because deep down I always thought that if a 'cartoon fairy princess' ever came to life, it would be kind of silly, that all those deliciously ridiculous notions that make classic Disney' Princess movies the particular brand of awesome that they are, would be utterly saccharine and dumb in real life; but Giselle proved that they weren't. Amy Adams played her with aplomb, sweetness and character, and I adore her for it. If ever were were to be a fairy princess, I would definitely be Giselle.

Lou Calabrese (She Went All the Way by Meg Cabot)
LouReally, I could name most of Meg Cabot's adult, contemporary heroines, but why did I love Lou in particular? Well, she writes action films and a Titanic-like super dramas. She's the only girl in a family of cops (all 4 of her brothers are cops), and they all respect her and think her capable (high school boyfriend selection aside). Lou made a name for herself as a screen writer, loves to watch disaster movies and is very close to her family, even though she lives away from them . She's funny, resourceful and smart, and she makes her sworn enemy/Hollywood's hottest actor fall in love with her, just by being who she is.

So, that's my list! Who is your favorite woman of fiction?


February 18, 2011

Cover Love #20 - Supernaturally (Awesome) by (Equally Awesome) Kiersten White

So, Paranormalcy was one of my favorite reads and covers of 2010, and today Kiersten White reveled the cover for Supernaturally (coming out August 30th).

It's too gorgeous for words so I'm just going to post it and let you enjoy it.

Supernaturally full

I want it now!

Retro Friday (2) - Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer

Retro Friday
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time! 

This week I chose Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer, first published in 1944 this is as vintage as it gets.

At First Sight: Anthony Verelst, Viscount Sheringham - known as Sherry to his friends - needs to get married if he wants to get his hands on his inheritance but after he's spurned by his childhood friend and much hailed beauty Isabella Milborne, and put in a temper by his mother; Sherry vows to marry the next female he sees. As it happens, that female is Hero Wantage, a girl Sherry has known for many years and who practically worships him.

Thinking that he likes Hero more than he likes any other girl of his acquittance, and since Hero is about to be sent to Bath to work as a governess, Sherry decides to marry her, and takes her off to London with him, involving in the process his three best friends: Gil Ringwood, Ferdy Fakenham and George, Lord Wrotham, all of whom take quickly to Hero - or Kitten as Sherry calls her since he thinks Hero is a nonsensical name for a girl - as the four of them try to keep her out of scrapes and guide her into polite society with mixed results.

Second Glance: I can finally say I've read a Geogette Heyer book! Though I listened to it, really, and I'm glad for it. The language is beautiful and old fashioned, and I loved how the narrator made it roll and flow, and all the voices she used. And the writing is so good that even the insults are fabulous.

It is a very old-fashioned book, but is so very charming this story about Sherry and his Kitten and how they try to navigate high society. Sherry is a good hearted but selfish young man who wasn't at all ready for marriage, but Hero is so selfless and giving and loves him so much that slowly - and even with all the scrapes Hero gets herself into - she starts to change Sherry's fondness toward her into love.

Also, interwoven with this main plot is the story of George and Isabella, as he struggles in his attempts to courtship and she struggles to know her own heart. Gil and Ferdy provide a great note of levity and fun to the story.

Bottom Line: And absolutely delightful little book. Surprisingly funny (I was shaking with laughter many times), I loved it from start to finish and it even made me cry at time or two.

Favorite Quote: "Miss Wantage smiled trustfully up at him, and the Viscount made a discovery. “You look just like a kitten!”
She laughed. “No, do I, Sherry?”
“Yes, you do. I think it’s your silly little nose,” said the Viscount, flicking it with a careless forefinger. “That, or the trick you have of staring at a fellow with your eyes wide open. I think I shall call you Kitten. It suits you better than Hero."
 starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

February 17, 2011

Mini-Review: Mail Order Husband by Lauri Robison

Mail Order
At First Sight: Penny Jordan is struggling to keep her beloved ranch above water, but she's having a very difficult time of it. Everyone keeps telling her she should marry, particularly a neighboring rancher Luke James, who has had his eye on her and her propriety for a while now.  Too bad Penny doesn't like him or trust him at all. And so, on a day when she simply can't deal anymore, Penny writes to her best friend Candice - who lives in Pennsylvania with her husband - to find her and send her a husband - for Candice often claimed to know just the man for Penny.

Said man is Candice brother-in-law Jace Owens, who is still reeling from the lost of his wife and baby the year before. He seems so lost to the word that Candice and her husband Daniel decide that sending him to Penny is the best thing they can do. So they concoct a crazy scheme that leaves Jace and Penny married. 

Being at the Copper Cow helps Jace, and he sees it immediately, he also sees that Penny needs his help and his protection, so he stays there for a while, convinced he will leave once he sees Penny settled...but that might prove to be too much for their newly mended hearts.

Second Glance: Mail-Order Husband is a sweet little story about loss and love and how to move on. Certain parts are a bit unrealistic to be sure, and I did feel it went of a bit in circles for a while, but it was very charming and cute. 

Penny and Jace make a wonderful couple and it's fun to see them try not to fall in love with each other yet finding themselves more than halfway there.

Bottom Line: A quick, funny read. Not very remarkable but not bad.


February 15, 2011

Book Review: Good Oil by Laura Buzo

Good Oil
Love this cover. Don't know why, I just do.
At First Sight: Amelia Hayes divides her time between school, taking care of her baby sister Jess, work and daydreaming about Chris. Ever since she started to work at Woolies (a groceries store), she has been falling for Chris, the guy who introduced her to the mysteries of the cash register, obscure produce and whom generally makes her shifts tolerable. Too bad it's all a hopeless business since she's 15 and he's 21 and sees her as nothing more than the grasshopper to his sensei.

Or does he? Chris' life hasn't been great in the last few months. He's living in the limbo of being about to finish college, of not being ready to break from it, of living at home with his parents and not wanting to get a serious job, of everyone else moving forward to adulthood and leaving him a little behind. He sees Amelia as someone special - to him and in general - even though she can't see it herself, he likes being around her because it's easy and she gets him in many ways, and she makes him truly smile for the first time since the last girl that stomped all over his heart. 

But is that enough?

Second Glance: I don't know what it's about Australian authors  but their writing generally makes me feel so raw inside. Told in alternating 'sections' from both Amelia and Chris's perspectives, Good Oil made me feel so many things and ache so bad and laugh so hard.

I felt for Amelia, remembering what's like to be fifteen and in love with someone unattainable. I loved Amelia's general narrative, how she talks about her life, the ups and downs of her family and her best friend Penny, of the world changing around her and how she feels about it. Of how she feels about Chris and her view of feminism, and so many other things.

Chris was harder to like at times, because he can be a real selfish jerk, but if anything redeems him is how unflinching he is about himself. His 'narrative' comes in the form of the diaries he keeps and it was a stroke of genius. I particularly loved to see how Amelia starts to insinuate herself into his life, how she becomes 'important' to him, in her own quiet way. Once you encompass the whole of his history -not just as seen though Amelia's eyes - he makes sense, and he turns out to be decent enough a guy, even with his occasional jerky tendencies. 

I even loved the ending, and I think the tag line of this book captures it really well: "A book of first loves and second thoughts."

Bottom Line: Good Oil is wonderful book that made me laugh and cry and feel again all that delicious agony of being truly hopelessly in love. It's definitely an afterglow-kind of book, a book that lingers - Proof of that is that it has been a week since I finished reading and I still have Chris and Amelia on my mind.

Favorite Quote: "The universe is against me, I think, as I read down the page. Incredible. Here I am, able to treat myself to the words of longing, desire and downright worship in Chris’ funny handwriting, knowing that they are not for me and never will be. Thanks universe. Thanks heaps. You bastard." - Amelia

About Amelia: "She even takes the goings-on of fictitious characters personally. These are the things she thinks about when she is packing groceries." - Chris
starstarstarstar1/2Personal Favorite


February 14, 2011

List Maniac #17 - The Men I Would Marry


Here in Mexico is not only a day for lovers, is also a day to celebrate friendship! Because friendship is as much as a relationship as a romantic one. It can be maddening and it takes just as much effort to make it work and last. So, here it is! To Lovers and Friends!

And now! onto the List!


John Kowalsky (Simply Irresistible) - He's a bad boy hockey player, and did questionable things in his past. Among them, to have a one-night stand with his boss' fiance, Georgie, and then dumping her in the airport. But he cleaned up his act, and he did it for himself. And when he sees Georgie again and realizes he has a daughter, he doesn't run from the responsibility of his child, he demands it. And when push comes to shove, he has it in him to admit he not always handled his life well, to get over the fact that Georgie kept his child from him for years, and to pick his family over his career.

Jack Travis (Smooth Talking Stranger) - Here is a man who doesn't run from commitment, he welcomes it. He's a man who can deal with baggage, who isn't afraid of hard work in a relationship and who is open about his feelings. There is no second guessing with him, he says what he means and means what he says. He's not afraid of a smart woman, and he's still very much a gentleman. 

Anthony Bridgerton (The Viscount Who Loved Me) - He has been the head of his family since he was 18, and much as he loves to be a rake about town, his family comes first. He once tells one of his sisters that Bridgertons behave with honor and honesty, not because it's what expected of them because that's who they are; he believes it and he lives by it. It takes him a bit to understand he's in love with his wife, but through it all, he's thoughtful and sweet toward her. 

Hugh of Harrowfield (Daughter of the Forest) - Though he's in his early-to-mid twenties thought the story, in the time and age it's set, he's already a man. Everyone loves him and respects him as a leader, and he loves and respects his people. But when he falls in love, he doesn't hesitate to leave everything behind - his very position as lord of the manor - to follow the woman he loves. He's not one to talk bout his feelings, but his actions always speak volumes. And when he does speak about his feelings, he says "It matters not if you're here, or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light on the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are bone of my bone and breath of my breath". Enough said.

Mathew Swift (Scandal in Spring) - He's dependable and constant, and I love me some of that. I think most people underestimate how much those things mean, how important it is to be able to rely on someone, that there is more to romance that someone who gives you the thrill of a lifetime (though Mathew certainly does thrill his woman). Mathew sees the importance of responsibility and values it. At one point his fiancee tells him that she doesn't want to be 'his responsibility', and he explains to her that she is, that he's responsible for his well being, her pleasure and satisfaction and that he takes that very seriously. How can you not love that?