September 30, 2013

Book Review: Her Favorite Temptation by Sarah Mayberry

The Deal: After a lifetime spent under her parents' thumb, Leah Mathews has decided to finally snap out of it and follow her heart... right out of cardio-thoracic surgery and into immunology. A move her parents are less-than thrilled about, particularly her mother -a general physician who had to drop out of Cardio when she got pregnant with Leah's older sister Audrey. 

With the time to step back and take a look at her family and it's dynamics, Leah starts to realize things are a bit messed up there - her parents have always favorited her over Audrey and are constantly putting Audrey and her choices down, no matter how hard she works; and Leah herself has always just stood by and watched it. - and she knows things should change but is confused about it. 

Meanwhile, in the apartment next door to hers, Will Jones is in the midst of a personal crisis too. He's one half of a famous rock band and has everything he could ever wish for... but a couple of months ago the doctors detected a tumor in his brain, and he's in a bit of a holding pattern until they can take it out. And even if they successfully do it, there is no telling how he'll come out of the surgery. 

He didn't plan on getting to know his neighbor or getting entangled with her and her problems, but talking to her offers a respite from his own (which he mostly keeps secret). Soon they are sharing talks and pizza and just hanging out... and falling in love.

My Thoughts: Her Favorite Temptation was a freebie Sarah Mayberry put out leading to her newest release Her Favorite Rival (Audrey's story), and I have to say that I quite liked it. 

It's a short novella, so things all happen in a very small time frame, but it works. The particularly vulnerable point in their lives where Leah and Will meet, helps them to move pass their barriers very quickly and get to know each other as they are underneath everything. 

Leah's family was quite bad, I felt really sad for both her and Audrey reading about their parents. By contrast, Will's family was lovely, they all really cared for each other. He was really nice and surrounded himself by nice people. He does do something a little underhanded to Leah but he has his reasons.

Like I said, things do move a little fast with Leah and Will, but it works well within the context of the story, and it is a quick, fun read. 


September 27, 2013

Book Review: The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

At First Sight: Jane Fairfield goes out of her way to be awful. Most people think she just does it because she's gaudy and garish and has no breeding, just a large fortune; but under all of that there is a lot more but people never look close enough to figure it out... except for Mr. Oliver Marshall.

Oliver grew up a bit on the outs of everything - he went to Eaton and Cambridge but, as the by blow of a duke, he didn't belong there, and still doesn't, no matter how much his brother, the current duke, accepts him and acknowledges him. Oliver knows what's like when people speak behind your back and treat you like you're inferior all the time... and he knows that no matter how much Jane pretends it doesn't matter, it does.

Jane has many secrets, and a pretty powerful reason to be like she is - over the top and loud and honest to the point of being rude sometimes - and it's all getting to her. And she's not sure if Oliver noticing is good or bad.

Second Glance: The Heiress Effect is the second full - length book of the Brothers Sinister series and I think I liked a lot more than the Duchess War.

I loved Jane from the start and when I found out her reasons to do what she did - which are protecting her younger sister Emily, at all costs - that only grew more. She was willing to go at great lengths to make sure Emily was safe and I respect that.

Oliver was a very complex character and he wasn't always easy to like, he makes some questionable choices through out the course of the book, he means well and he's ambitions and that doesn't always produce the best results. He can be very hurtful at times, mostly out of thoughtlessness than out of meanness, and it takes him a while to take stock of what he has traded for his ambitions; but he was all right in the end.

I loved Jane's sister Emily and her whole subplot, which was a happy surprise for me. And I liked Oliver's younger sister Free for the most part (she shall feature in book 4), though it was hard to get there with her. Still something that has to do with the Marshall Siblings and their aunt Freddy made me cry so much.

Oh, and the more I get to know Violet and Sebastian (who will show up in the next book) the more I like them. 

Bottom Line:  I liked the Heiress Effect, it was cleverly written and fun to read, I found it a lot more enjoyable than The Duchess war, easier to read and get into. And now I'm REALLY looking forward to the next book The Countess Conspiracy

Favorite Quote:
"I'm afraid that you're going to break your heart, going up against the world." 
"No, I'm going to break the world."  - Olive and Free.

September 26, 2013

Speed Date: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Plot: Cath feels like she's starting college all wrong: she's in a semi-fight with her twin sister Wren (who decided she doesn't want to be Cath's roommate anymore), they are leaving their unstable Dad to his own devices back home and she just doesn't feel like she fits in at school.

Her only refuge is Simon Snow. As kids, both Wren and Cath were huge Simon Snow fans - they read and re-read the books, saw the movies and even wrote fanfiction about it - but as they grew up, only Cath stuck to the fandom, becoming The Fanfic Author of Simon and Baz Romance. Cath loves Simon and Baz so much that she much rather live in their world (or stay in her room writing about them all the time) than anything in the Real world.

Still, with Wren partying hard and getting lost in the "college experience", Cath is forced to come out of her shell a little bit: striking a writing partnership with fellow classmate Nick at Fiction Writing class; sharing diner with her roommate Reagan and almost-accidentally hanging out with Reagan's boyfriend  Levi, who is so nice Cath doesn't know if he's flirting with her or just being kind.

First Date: All right, Cath, you're a little neurotic but I dig that. No, scratch that, you're a lot neurotic but is okay, I am too. The beginning is a little slow for me but I can't put this book down anyway, even if Cath makes me feel bad about my fanfiction skills with her stats. 

Second Date: I don't like this Nick-person. But I LOVE REAGAN. Seriously, I'm forming a Reagan fanclub!! Things are moving at a better pace now. Sometimes I do feel almost too identified with Cath, is scary.

Third Date: I've cried and I've laughed... and I HAVE SHIPPED!!!!!!

Relationship Status: Riding off into the Sunset Together. 

Fangirl gave me book hangover and put me in such a good mood at the same time. It broke my heart wide open and made it all better, is so strange for me to describe. Granted, maybe I was the perfect target audience for this book: I am a fan girl, and when I love a fandom I'm Obsessive about it. 

That and many other things about Cath resonated with me so much, particularly in her relationship with her sister. I have a sister and there were some parts where I just felt this feeling of deja vu watching Wren and Cath fight because I've been in fights like those. 

As I said I love Reagan, she's such an awesome character. I loved every scene she was in!! and I loved Levi! I didn't at first but by the end I was shipping hard. He's so nice, and I dig me some nice. Honestly. Plus he says this thing in the book.. and it's my second most favorite quote that a guy has ever said to a girl in a book. (First place goes to Jonah Griggs, of course, in case you were wondering ;) ). 

To miss-quote Eleanor (of Eleanor & Park), I want to break this book into pieces and love them all to death.

Favorite Quotes (THEY WERE SO MANY!!!)

"No," Cath said, "Seriously. Look at you. You've got your shit together, you're not scared of anything. I'm scared of everything. And I'm crazy. Like maybe you think I'm a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and mildly socially retarded, I'm a complete disaster"

"Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy," Wren said, "It's the noblest, like, the most courageous, thing two people can shoot for." 

"I don't have to forgive you," Cath said, "It's not like that with you. You're in with me. Always. No matter what happens."

"Even without her makeup, and hair, the girl was terrifying. There was just no fear in her. No hesitation. Talking to Reagan was like standing in front of an oncoming train." 
starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite  (totes made of awesome sauce)

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

September 24, 2013

Book Review: In Her Dreams by Katherine Givens

The Deal: Evangeline Vernon is almost 24 and practically a spinster... she's also incredibly beautiful and about to snag a proposal from the Duke of Manchester, too bad she's not thrilled about it, like, at all. 

For vivacious Evangeline, Manchester is too dry and too serious and the two of them have nothing in common; but her mother desires the match more than anything else, and no one gets in between Evangeline's mother and her plans. Instead, Evangeline muddles through the courtship while taking refuge in her dreams, where the man she's in love with visits her every time... too bad she has never actually met him and isn't even sure he exists.

On the other hand, Evangeline's younger sister Angela despairs in her sister's shadow. Pretty but not as much as Evangeline, Angela is used to being second best and is honor bound and dutiful enough that she won't interfere with her mother's plans, even if her heart breaks at the thought of them an she loves marrying her sister. 

My Thoughts: In Her Dreams is a novella that in a few short chapters tells the story of these two very different sisters... and I quite liked it. 

Angela and Evangeline were so different but under neath it all, they like and love each other, and when they finally realize that the only way to go against their mother is together, they even strike an alliance for each other's happiness. 

I liked Manchester and the man in Evangeline's dreams, they were both very nice, though I would have liked more page time with them to get to know them better. 

The girl's mother was horrendous, though, she set my teeth on edge, but she was fun to hate. 

All in all, In Her Dreams was a very enjoyable read. Sure, it had its issues - I would have liked to see a full fledged, more developed version of the story, for example; and the formatting for kindle was pretty bad - but that didn't take away from the fun. In Her Dreams comes out Oct 1st. 

September 20, 2013

Book Review: She Who Dares by Jane O'Reilly

At First Sight: Nic Sinclair has always been the ugly duckling to her step-sister Ella's beautiful swan, but she was content enough with her life owning half of Ella's father's vintage car dealership/restoration garage; handling the mechanical stuff while Ella dealt with sales and business.

Until Ella decided to drop everything, sell her half of the garage and leave Nic in a lurch. Now Nic has a partner she doesn't know and has to enter the town's Misses and Motor's beauty pageant (which Ella has won 3 times before) as the family's representative.

Then, Nic's mysterious new business partner shows up in the form of Sebastian Prince, a famous rally driver recovering from a near fatal crash.

Sebastian dated Ella for a while and was happy to buy her half of business just because it meant he was helping a friend out, it so happened it fit into his plans of convincing his teams psychologist (whom also happens to be his little sister) that he's ready to race again.

He wasn't expecting a less than thrilled Nic as his business partner or the instant attraction they both feel. Sebastian is not a man used to denying himself anything he wants so he is ready to roll it with but Nic might have other plans in mind.

Second Glance: I loved the idea of She Who Dares, since I admit I like Ugly-duckling stories, but the reality of the book was a bit different than expected.

To start with, both Nic and Sebastian have stuff they need to deal with, and they both engage in self-destructive behaviors (to a point).  Nic's self esteem is pretty shot and sometimes it was hard for me to read how low she thought of herself and how bad that made her feel and react. Sebastian has other type of issues, but over all I kind of liked him a bit more.

Sebastian is pretty straight forward and honestly likes Nic, and finds her attractive and can't understand how she doesn't see she is attractive -something that gets old fast, by the way - even if he isn't thrilled that he dated her sister before, he's a lot more open to explore their options.

I do feel like things got wrapped up a bit too neatly and quite abruptly, particularly regarding this thing with Nic, which I won't mention because it is a relatively big spoiler.

Bottom Line: She Who Dares wasn't exactly what I was expecting but it wasn't bad. It was a fairly quick read, but more gloomy than the cover and the official summary would suggest. 

September 17, 2013

Book Review: The Bride Work Size 12 by Meg Cabot

At First Sight: With less than a month to go before her wedding to P.I. Cooper Cartwright, Heather Wells is super busy, but not with wedding preparations as one would guess, but with the check-in process at Fischer Hall, the dorm where she works.

There is the usual suspects to deal with: RA's who get sick, over-zealous parents trying to get special treatment for her very special awesome kids... and a Very Important Resident in the form of Prince Rashid from a middle eastern kingdom who comes complete with two even more over-zealous bodyguards than any parent Heather has ever dealt with.

Which is stressful enough - more so now that Fischer Hall, formerly known as Death Dorm, is currently the It Place To Live in Campus - but on top of that: Heather's mom dropped by for a surprise visit, people she's sure she didn't invite to her wedding keep thanking her for the invite and one of the RA's was just found dead... and Heather has gotten to her head that another student might be the one to blame. 

Second Glance: It's not secret that I love Meg Cabot's books, and that I love Heather Wells. She has has a special place in my heart mostly because I love her personality, things haven't always gone great for Heather - even if she was a pop star once - but she doesn't let that bring her down, she's honest to God one of the most optimistic characters ever, without getting annoying.

Other than that, this is a pretty good mystery thought the plot line is fairly simple. It does have a couple of sub plots that show up and then are dropped rather suddenly, and I would have liked more resolution on that. The book is, however, very fun.

Heather is hilarious and I love seeing her with Cooper and her friends. Like I said, I genuinely like her and she's one fictional girl that I would love to have as a friend, so I enjoy spending time with her. 

Bottom Line: I liked The Bride Wore Size 12 quite a bit (and quite a bit more than Size 12 and Ready to Rock). I had a good time hanging out with Heather. I'll be happy to read another one of her adventures, and I would be okay if this was the end since things do get nicely wrapped up. The Bride Wore Size 12 is a self contained, funny mystery and it comes out September 24. 
starstarstarstarPersonal Favorite 

September 16, 2013

Book Review: Voice Over! Seiyu Academy by Maki Minami

The Deal: Hime Kino dreams of becoming a voice actress like her idol Miss Sakura from a very popular anime called "Lovely Blazer!" She even got accepted into an exclusive high school with a Seiyu program (that's what voice actors get called in Japan). 

She starts with lots of hope and enthusiasm but she soon finds herself in the stragglers group along with a guy who can't control his accent, another who can't control his anger (and has a bit of a scary voice) and a girl who talks really low.... and Hime herself has a rather gravely voice. 

Still, the four stragglers work together to try to pull through and it seems to be going all right until the sophomore guys challenge them to broadcasting duel. 

Oh, and did I mention she happens to be going to school with Miss Sakura's super talented son?

My Thoughts: Well, this was a really charming first volume of a brand new manga. Voice Over! Seiyu Academy is quite sweet, and the art is pretty - though some aspects are a bit over designed, like the uniforms - but the story was a bit slow.

This was very likely because it was just the first volume and things were being set up, but I sometimes was left feeling like I hadn't fully understood something and like it was going a bit slow. 

I did like Hime and her new friends, and how she starts to find her own strengths and how she and her friends encourage each other. 

I would recommend this one for tweens or young teens. 

September 10, 2013

I swear I've been reading... Sort of...

So... I'm in the middle of a bit of a slump.

It's not that I'm not reading, I am, just that I'm re-reading a lot. I have all these books (both for review and that I own, including a ton of dead-tree editions) but I just can't seem to pick them up or stick to them for very long.

Case in point: I've been reading The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle for the last... month. And this was the one book I was REALLY looking forward this year. 

Same with The Bride Wore Size 12. I've been reading it for almost a week and a half. 

The books are really good too, but once I put them down it takes me forever to pick them up again. And I don't even know what I want to read next.

So, that's where you guys come in!!

I'm gonna list 5 books that are in my immediate TBR pile and you get to chose which one I'll read next. The choices are: 

Let me know your picks in comments!! And I'll round up the number in a couple of days :D 

September 5, 2013

Speed Date: The Temporary Wife by Jeannie Moon

The Plot: Meg Rossi was going through quite a few adjustments following the death of her best friend Grace and becoming the guardian to Grace's little daughter Molly, but they were making it through... until Molly's Grandparents, the Campbells, decided to fight the will and get their claws into Molly.

Meg has a long, painful story with the Campbells,and she knows them well enough to know that they are not going to stop until they get  what they want - be it Molly or her trustfund - and that Meg, with her kindergarden teacher salary can't fight them.

Enter Jason Campbell, middle son of the family and the asshat who broke Meg's heart many years ago. Now, a self-made billionaire he's aiming to right some wrongs - he really did screw Meg over all those years ago - and see that his sister's will is carried out. So he comes up with the crazy idea of  marrying Meg, providing her with the money and resources to fight his parents.

A marriage of convinience isn't exactly Meg's ideal plan, but she ends up agreeing to it... and soon she finds herself in a strange relationship with the only guy she has ever truly loved..

First Date: Okay, a few leaps of faith are being required here but nothing too bad. The set up is good and so far I like Meg and her family. The Campbells do suck though.

Second Date: Wow, Jason really is an asshole (and kudos to his friends for calling him on his shit), I don't like Harper, but I don't blame it on her but on Jason. He just keeps screwing up things with Meg. Meg should kick his ass, rather than keep lusting after him.

Third Date: Now, now, I didn't hate the ending... it wasn't all bad.It was a bit too neat and for a while there it read like the author didn't know how to end it but... well, it wasn't bad. Ended up liking Harper after all. 

Relatioship Status: It's not me, It's You.

Okay, so here is the thinga about The Temporary Wife: Jason is a Jerk, he does incredibly jerky things to Meg and it kind of galls at me that she just keeps on forgiving him. I would have cut his *beeep* after some of the stuff he pulls. The more I got to know what went down with Meg when they were in their teens the less I rooted for him. He pulls a 180 in the end, and he's not all that bad but I kind of don't buy it. 

Other than that, the writing was fun and easy, I'm intrigued about Jason's brother's Josh. Will I this author again? Maybe. Does Jason suck? yes, yes he does.

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

September 3, 2013

Book Review: Stay by Allie Larkin

At First Sight: For the last six years, Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke, whom she meet during her first class at university... problem is that for about four of those years he has been in love with Van's best friend Janie and the two of them just got married. 

After having to serve as maid of honor in the blessed event, and after a row with Janie's mom Diane - for whom Van's mother worked - Van finds herself in possession of a sizable amount of money and trying to drown her pain in a few too many cocktails... which is how she ends up buying a dog on ebay.

But what she thought was a puppy turns out to be a huge, year old giant named Joe who only understands Slovak and has to have special food made for him. 

With entirely too much on her plate - including lingering, unresolved business and resentments with both Janie and Diane, and Peter suddenly needing to call her and talk to her all the time, even while at his honeymoon - Van does not want a giant mess of a dog... but, over time, she comes to realize that Joe might be just what she needed. That and Joe's handsome veterinarian.

Second Glance: I've had Stay in my TBR pile for almost two years and now I feel bad I didn't read it sooner because it was a really sweet story. Van was very likable - even if she needed to learn to say "No" when people where pushing her around - and I LOVED seeing her develop her relationship with Joe. I'm a dog person and the bond that grows between them made my dog-loving heart happy. 

And I loved Joe's vet, sure he could be a little thick headed sometimes but he was very nice and once his whole story was out in the open I went "Aww" a few times. 

Peter and Janie were very hard to like most of the time but even there, the author managed to pull things together in the end, in a way that felt really organic and appropriate as the two of them and Van had to re-learn how to be friends with each other again and find a more balanced relationship rather than just the two of them leaning on Van all the time. 

Peter's aunt - whom Van befriends - was a delight too.

Bottom Line: I really liked Stay. It had it's slow parts and sometimes the characters really pushed my buttons but I liked Ms Larkin's narrative and the story she told. It is more Chick Lit than Contemporary Romance, though, and the big love story here is between Van and Joe.