Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Title/Author: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Publisher/Date published: Hyperion, May 15th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.
That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf√ľhrer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team."

You guys, know how I said I shy away from books about World War II?? Cause I usually do. But then I saw everyone raving about Code Name Verity and going ALL CAPS on it and I knew I had to give it a try after all. Even if it is DEFINITELY out of my comfort zone. And seriously, it hasn't let me down!

I absolutely loved how Elizabeth Wein could do the voices of both of the girls, Julie and Maddie, and have them be completely different! These girls are both incredible in their own way and seriously, it was just amazing how she let us get to know them both as individuals.
I have to say that I'm partial to Julie and enjoyed hearing the story in her voice much more than I did Maddie's, but well, Maddie's was none too shabby either!
And can I just say that I love an unreliable narrator? Cause I totally do! I want to reread this thing again and catch all the thing we find out towards the end and go all OMG! WHY DIDN'T I SEE THAT???

I have so much love for a lot of the characters that we are introduced to, but seriously, Julie and Maddie will just stay with me for a long time. They are both incredibly brave women who chose to defend their country when this wasn't conventional. And they both kicked serious ass at their respective jobs. I am just amazed by people like them and I feel honored having gotten the chance to know them, cause in my mind they appear very real. And I absolutey LOVE it when this happens.

You know what is funny? Writing this review makes me realise just how much I loved Code Name Verity!

And really, I was RIGHT THERE in the story with all of them, but I connected the most to Julie. I loved her sarcasm and her resourcefulness and just her plain awesomeness. I loved the friendship between her and Maddie and I loved hearing her tell the tale of how they came to be best friends. The storytelling was captivating and I just felt myself slowing down in order to catch everything and I still probably didn't cause I was also in a rush to find out what would happen next! I also loved that while there is the possiblity of a romantic undercurrent, it wasn't really part of the story, cause this story is about the bond of friendship between two young women in the time of World War II with both of them risking their lives for their country. And it was perfect just the way it was without adding boys into the picture.

The hints we get at the cruel torture techniques that are practiced by the German officers are beyond horrifying and the ones we do get to witness took my breath away with their viciousness. I was gaping at one thing that happens towards the end, but ultimately I love Maddie for what she did and she's a better and braver person than I am, cause I don't know if I could have done that.

This book left me feeling heartbroken, but also slightly hopeful and just generally grateful that I read it. Goes to show that stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to amazing experiences and it has convinced me that I may need to try it more often.
If you're a historical fiction fan or just plain like amazing captivating reads, this is your book. Why are you not reading this already?!

My rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review of Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey

Title/Author: Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow (Marie Antoinette #2) by Juliet Grey
Publisher/Date published: Ballantine Books, May 15th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow spans fifteen years in the fateful reign of Marie Antoinette, France’s most legendary and notorious queen.
Paris, 1774. At the tender age of eighteen, Marie Antoinette ascends to the French throne alongside her husband, Louis XVI. But behind the extravagance of the young queen’s elaborate silk gowns and dizzyingly high coiffures, she harbors deeper fears for her future and that of the Bourbon dynasty.
From the early growing pains of marriage to the joy of conceiving a child, from her passion for Swedish military attach√© Axel von Fersen to the devastating Affair of the Diamond Necklace, Marie Antoinette tries to rise above the gossip and rivalries that encircle her. But as revolution blossoms in America, a much larger threat looms beyond the gilded gates of Versailles — one that could sweep away the French monarchy forever."

So you guys might remember that I enjoyed Becoming Marie Antoinette, the first book in this series, especially the last part, in which I finally connected to Marie Antoinette. So of course I was eager to continue learning about her part of history with the second book in this trilogy about her life!

I'm glad to say that I immediately connected to Marie Antoinette again and maybe it was easier to relate to her now because of her age, she's becoming an adult and actually starts to take responsibility for things. Not right away, she's still also the queen who ditched a dress after wearing it once and spend a LOT of money for her couture and her just as much couture hair dressings! The poufs the wore sounds insane and absurd, but apparently it was fashionable at the time.

Like I said in my review of Becoming Marie Antoinette, I'm not that familiar with her story other than that she was killed in the French Revolution. And I knew that the people of France didn't like her very much. I didn't know that their dislike of her went so far that there were a lot of hurtful pamphlets printed and she was critisized for everything, even for wanting to be a good mother and spending time with her children.

I really felt for her, she was trying to be a good queen, but with little guidance, only some through the letters she got from her mother, well, it must have been hard. She did have a huge gambling problem and spent a LOT of money when the treasury was basically going empty. I kept wondering why noone put a stop to this. I mean, sure she was the queen, but that doesn't mean you have to keep giving her money to gamble away right? I could understand the reasoning from Louis that is being used in this story: he couldn't give her what she wanted most, a child, so he tried to give her everything else.

And seriously, I cheered for this pair when they were finally able to consummate the marriage and when Marie Antoinette got pregnant! I truly believe they both were loving parents and also loved each other, even though they probably wouldn't have chosen to marry if they'd had a say in the matter. I really enjoyed the friendship between the king and queen. I don't

But there are the days of sorrow: both times the pair loses a child and the miscarriages and the death of Marie Antoinette's mother. The treachery at court and the downfall and the French Revolution that slowly starts to take form in this novel. I felt real sympathy for the king and queen, cause although they didn't make all the right choices, a lot of it was due to it being done like that for ages and they just fell into the traditions.

I really, really enjoyed learning more about Marie Antoinette's history and the period she and Louis XVI reigned. I think Juliet Grey did a wonderful job breathing life into these historical figures and I am definitely reading the last instalment, The Last October Sky!

My rating: 4 stars

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review of Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Title/Author: Gilt (The Royal Circle #1) by Katherine Longshore
Publisher/Date published: Viking, May 15th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free -
and love comes at the highest price of all.
When Kitty Tylney's best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII's heart and brings Kitty to court, she's thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat's shadow, Kitty's now caught between two men - the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat's meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head."

I confess to being obsessed with the Tudors and being an anglophile in general. I cannot help myself. I squealed when the boyfriend and I went to London 2 years ago and we visited the Tower and Hyde Park and Westminster Abbey and just everything! But mostly the Tower, because it's such a dramatic setting for a lot of the stories I love about the tragedies of the English court. So when I saw this YA telling of the story of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII I knew I HAD to read it!

And I'm so incredibly happy to say Gilt did not disappoint me in the least! I loved the whole feeling of the story! The court of Henry VIII is not a happy place and there's treachery lurking around and well, some people just make really, REALLY terrible decisions, but the drama of it all is intoxicating! The king isn't the handsome young man he once was and he tries to deny this by marrying a young girl who makes him feel invincible and desirable again. I did feel for Henry at times, because even though he had 6 wives, he doesn't seem like he ever had a happy marriage or a wive who truly loved him, aside maybe from his first wive, Catherine of Aragon.

I really liked Kitty, aside from being majorly influenced by Catherine, she's got a good head on her shoulders and knows right from wrong, even if she doesn't always act accordingly. I also loved that she didn't mistake lust for love in dealing with a handsome young man at court. And I loved her interaction with the other guy, there was a real connection there and it was absolutely wonderful. I liked that Kitty isn't fickle with her affection, even though I sometimes wanted to shout at the both of them to communicate!! But it didn't detract from the story, there were wonderful moments filled with tension and I just ate it up!

As we all know, the story of Catherine Howard doesn't end well. And even though I didn't necessarily like Cat, there was something about her that had me wishing it would end differently. Somehow Katherine Longshore managed to still have me rooting for a character I disliked and it left me feeling a bit confused, but major props to the author for this! I also liked that I got to see another side of Jane Boleyn, the widow of George Boleyn. The only way I've ever seen her pictured as before was coldhearted and scheming and well, she still schemes, but not AGAINST the queen. And I liked it, it's nice to see her not be made the villain for once.

Gilt does a great deal in showing how little power women actually had in those times and even if you were a queen, you could be done away with in a heartbeat. Those were scary times, especially at court, and Katherine Longshore did a great job portraying all these feelings.

And I just found out it's part of a series!! HOORAY! :D

Gilt by Katherine Longshore is everything I could possibly want from historical fiction and I believed her story! I as swept up in the drama of the court and the intrigue and just all of it and I loved every minute of reading this book! And though it doesn't end with a happily ever after, because it simply cannot with a head getting chopped off, it did leave me with a sense of hope and I love it when that happens!

My rating: 5 stars

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review of Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Title/Author: Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Publisher/Date published: Bloomsbury Children's Books, May 8th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "In Abby’s world, magic isn’t anything special: it’s a part of everyday life. So when Abby learns that she has zero magical abilities, she’s branded an “Ord”—ordinary, bad luck, and quite possibly a danger to society.
The outlook for kids like Abby isn’t bright. Many are cast out by their families, while others are sold to treasure hunters (ordinary kids are impervious to spells and enchantments). Luckily for Abby, her family enrolls her in a school that teaches ordinary kids how to get around in a magical world. But with treasure-hunting kidnappers and carnivorous goblins lurking around every corner, Abby’s biggest problem may not be learning how to be ordinary — it’s whether or not she’s going to survive the school year!"

Every once in a while I read an MG inbetween my YA and adult historical romances and I usually end up smiling my way through them. Ordinary Magic was no exception! It was adorable and I kept just wanting to hug pretty much all of the characters!

Also, I loved how Caitlen Rubino-Bradway dealt with the issue of Abby being an Ord. It's generally not accepted and people even go as far as selling their children when they find out about it. The prejudice against Ords was just mindblowing. In my mind I kept comparing it to how people react to someone being gay or of a different nationality or skin color or religion because it is THE SAME. And it needs to stop! It's sick how much the treatment of Ords reminded me of those issues, especially with them being afraid they'd 'catch' it and generally not caring if something happened to them because they were 'just Ords'.
I loved how Caitlen Rubino-Bradway handled such a tough subject in a MG novel and managed to make it fun and something to think about at the same time.

I really liked Abby, she's a lovely girl and can I just say how much I loved her family?? I mean, she had an amazing loving family and especially after discovering how people usually react to their kid being an Ord I loved them for how they didn't treat her differently. The family is so close and I just loved the dynamics between the siblings. Also, I LOVED that one of Abby's brothers wrote historical romance! I mean: THAT IS SO COOL! And her big sister Alexa is pretty kickass awesome.

I loved the teachers and everyone at the school. And I really enjoyed the interaction between Abby and the other kids, especially the complicated relationship/friendship/whatever she had with one of the boys, Peter. There's some romantic tension brewing there and I liked that while there's probably something there, the author didn't go there with 12-year-olds.

The only thing that I didn't like was that the last part of the book just sort of ebbed out and then it just stopped. Though the story could sort of be seen as finished, the place where it ended felt off to me. Also, I can't find anywhere if this is a series. DOES ANYONE KNOW??? Cause it felt like there should be a sequel (and maybe several more) because of a lot of unfinished business. There are so many questions that haven't been answered and so much I want to find out about the world Abby lives in!

This was a cute, quick read dealing with not only fun but also a heavier subject that can be compared to actual problems in our world. Caitlen Rubino-Bradway has created an amazingly colorful world and a wonderful set of characters that I am begging to meet again in a sequel!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Discussion: Book Endings

So the book I just finished got me thinking about book endings and what sort of endings I like and dislike.

I'm a happily ever after kind of girl. I am, I'm not ashamed to admit this. It's probably not very literary of me, but it's just the way it is. I love it when a couple rides of into the sunset together and I love it when my hero and heroine have kids and/or get married and go on to live their lives blisfully in love with each other. I cheer when the bad guy get put into prison and the innocent gets his life back.

But I don't necessarily need to have all obstacles the characters face cleared away so they can be happy. I don't need the happily ever after, but I do love it when I finish a book that I'm either smiling or at least left with a sense of hope for the future. The ones where the main characters are still overcoming their difficulties, they have suffered heartbreaking losses and/or know that all will not be right, maybe never, but they still have something to believe in, some sort of goal or something to work towards. And the thing I most like: they are not defeated, there's still some fight left in them and a sense that they can make it better. They can survive these awful things that have happened.

Sometimes, however, I admit that if I know it'll end badly, I don't read the book or watch the movie. I refuse to watch Marly and Me because I've heard someone say what happens in it (and I know that I would cry and be heartbroken over it). I still haven't finished watching I Am Legend. I stoppend when that thing happened to the dog (I don't want to spoil anything, but it made all my hope vanish), it's been 3 years and even though one of the guys I went to college with tried to convince me Will Smith and those nasty creepers would be dancing around beneath a rainbow throwing flowers everywhere, I don't think I believe him.

The exception for this is historical fiction, cause though I know Anne Boleyn's head will get chopped off in the end, as well as another of Henry VIII's wives, I am endlessly fascinated by them and the stories different authors can spin around these historical figures.

So yes, I like my endings to be happy, but mostly I like the ending of a story to fit the rest of the book. I'm looking at Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini when I say this. And I imagine it will be the same if George R.R. Martin ever finishes his A Song of Ice and Fire saga. You can't have so much darkness and depression and death in a book or series and then just have everyone be ok in the end. I would be like ending the Shrek movies with Shrek and Fiona dying a horrible death.

Also, I don't mind not knowing everything that will go down in the lives of these characters after the last page, but I do very much dislike it when major plot points are left unresolved and I feel like I'm left hanging. Or getting swept under the rug cause it's more convenient than dealing with it. This tactic works while tidying up because your relatives are coming for a surprise visit, not with a novel.

So those are my thoughts, what about you? What do you like when it comes to book endings? Are you a happily ever after kind of person as well? Or can you handle the empty feeling of a hopeless situation better than I can? Is there a book that you thought had a perfect ending? Ones that disappointed you? Let me know!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review of The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

Title/Author: The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
Publisher/Date published: Penguin Publishing, May 10th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Elizabeth Margaret — better known as Em — has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time."

Ok, so you guys, there was lots of good in The Summer My Life Began. But there was also a big load of things that bothered me. Or maybe it was just that the end royally sucked in my opinion. Let's explore, shall we?

Elizabeth Margaret, who is actually called Elizabeth Margaret by everyone except her little sister, is a girl who wants to make her parents happy (and seriously, there is nothing wrong with this in theory) and does this by conforming to what they see in her future instead of telling them what she really wants. I loved the bond she had with her sister and that she cared about her family. I did not love said family so much, apart from Gwenny, the sister. I mean, really, they were stiff and unforgiving and just did not seem interested in the least in what Em wanted and were not even a warm and affectionate family in the slightest.

Then Em lands into the warm nest that is her aunt Tilly's home and discovers things can actually be different. And I enjoyed seeing Em struggle with her sense of loyalty to her family and their wishes and coming into her own and learning what she wanted out of life.

There were also times I wanted to yell at her. I mean, that time when she goes out with a sorta bland guy, kisses him and then kisses Cade RIGHT AFTER??? Sure, I was cheering at them kissing, but I don't care if you're not officially together, that's still not right. Especially when you're not even telling said other guy about it and even go on another date with him.
I did really enjoy the romance between Em and Cade, they were so sweet together and I loved how they connected and they genuinely spent time together and it was just pretty amazing. Cade is a good guy with some lovely hidden talents!

I had seen the big plot point coming from pretty much the start, I think I was about 20 pages in when I figured it out. But, somehow, Em is just closing her eyes to all the clues falling together around her and did not see it coming at all. And COME ON! She was the valedictorian. She's smart. She should have figured it out. Or at least have had some inkling something wasn't adding up.

But all this aside, I was enjoying myself reading this. Right up until Em discovers the BIG FAMILY SECRET and then it all just felt rushed and everything fell together a little too convenient for me. I mean, Em is making big life decisions and it still FELT convenient. Em is okay with just leaving behind something I didn't think she would and it made me respect her less. Also, I was shocked and horrified by her family's behavior through it all. I mean, it was just plain wrong!

Ok, so I can't rant about this without a SPOILER! LIGHT UP TO READ!:
It went like 'I'm so mad at you, you kept being my mom instead of my aunt from me' to 5 minutes later: 'Oh, I love you and I'm staying here and basically abandoning the parents who raised me and my sister for you.' I was like WTF??? And then write them a freaking letter? And they called her brave? SERIOUSLY? That's not brave! That's taking the easy way out. This does however not excuse her family's behavior. I mean, seriously, you raise a girl for 17 years and then when she doesn't do what you want her to do, you just ignore her for MONTHS? No, just no. They had no right doing this. I mean, Em is the one who should be mad they kept this from her and instead of dealing with it they give her the silent treatment? SERIOUSLY? And then in the epilogue they all just sort of hug it out?? I mean, how about a little communication, hmm? This family is the QUEEN of avoiding confrontations and it annoyed me. A LOT.

So, I ranted. I feel better now.

Aside from the things that I can't help but rage against, this was a fun read. But the last couple of chapters just didn't work for me, they felt rushed and it felt easy and I'm left feeling a bit deflated. I was so ready to give this a high rating and it's like someone punched a hole in my birthday balloon or something.
But yay for personal growth and cute boys and sweet summer romance and FOOD! Just skip the ending, I'll fill you in, no worries ;)

My rating: 2,5 stars

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review of Hollyweird by Terri Clark

Title/Author: Hollyweird by Terri Clark
Publisher/Date published: Flux Books, May 8th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Aly King is about to fall for the fallen
My best friend, Des, and I totally freaked when we won the contest to meet THE Dakota Danvers in Hollywood. But now we’re finding out he’s SO not the angel everyone believes him to be. In fact, Dakota is the son of Satan, wreaking havoc on Hollywood and creating an evil army hellbent on world domination.
Lucky for us, Dakota’s super-cute personal assistant, Jameson, is a fallen angel trying to get his wings back, and he’s working undercover to squash his demon boss’s plan. If Jameson hadn’t taken me under his wing I’d be in serious trouble, because I’m a total newb when it comes to conquering evil. But, truth be told, that sexy angel’s got me all aflutter and may be one temptation I can’t resist."

So I'd been expecting a fun, fluffy paranormal romance from the cover and the summary and it was exactly what I got!

The story flows very easily and it was just a breeze to get through the 240 pages that make up the whole of Hollyweird. I liked the characters, and thought that they were all pretty interesting and I though Aly was a well developed character. Her sister and best friend and even Jameson slightly less so. It actually switches POV between Aly and Jameson, but I never felt like I really learned a lot about him. The dynamics in the group were fun and the plot was interesting.

BUT. Yes, there is a but. Because of Hollyweird only spreading out over 240 pages, everything goes by pretty fast and sometimes it felt rushed. Especially the romance. I loved that it starts off with Aly admitting that she has insta-lust for Jameson (though it was a pretty big reaction to someone you've never seen before, but yeah, it can happen), but they go from lust to love in 4 days and I just didn't buy it. I mean, sure, they had good chemistry, but I didn't buy him even considering giving up his wings for her. I did like that he was actually 19 and not 119, cause it can get kinda creepy in my opinion.

Also, I get that the 7 deadly sins are things most humans fall at least slightly for, but what I didn't get was that when these were thrown at Aly, Des and Aly's sister, they know they're coming, know how to 'snap out of it', but each time they almost get themselves into trouble in the process. And this is pretty different from their smarts when it comes to figuring out Dakota's diabolical plan and then stopping him! I mean, they catch on pretty quickly even when Aly didn't believe in all of it 3 days ago. I'm also not quite sure what it was that made the girls so special and that they were the chosen ones by God himself to help Jameson.
Speaking of which, if you're a religious person, it's entirely possible you might take offense to how God and his angels are portrayed in Hollyweird. To me it was funny, if a little overdone at times, but I'm an atheist, and I do admit it is blasphemous at times.

But it was a pretty fun and fast read and I loved the concept of satan's children running all over the world causing havoc and especially one in Hollywood! It's pretty fun imagining Dakota being behind so many of the scandals going around the Hollywoodsphere (like Britney Spears) that have been happening in the last couple of years.

My reading: 3 stars

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Daisy Update (10) In which I get a job!! :D

So it's been 2 weeks since my last update! I was really busy last weekend with celebrating the boyfriend's birthday and going to another birthday and celebrating Mother's Day and just generally DOING ALL THE THINGS.

On Sunday I brought home one of my parents' dogs, I was dogsitting him this week because my parents were away for a couple of days and couldn't bring him with them. SO YAY FUN TIMES WITH THE PUPPY! :D

Hypnotizing me into playing with the ball :)

Another of his absolute favourite pastimes: sleeping, preferably ON ME.
He's been really sweet and cuddly and we only had a little trouble with the cats in the neighbourhood, cause saying he really dislikes cats is a bit of an understatement. Yesterday I had the boyfriend come down when I got back from walking the dog so he could chase one of the cats away because the cat was blocking the path and threathening the dog and he just wouldn't leave!! That kitty meant business! So the boyfriend walked up to him and he ran away, cause that's what he does with humans...
But other than that it was really nice and he kept me company during basically everything I was doing, but mostly while I was reading. We're actually back at my parents' now, I'm sad that he's not staying longer... Will miss my furry companion!

So, other than walking and playing with the dog, I also had a job interview this Friday and guess what: I GOT THE JOB!!! I was SO nervous and then when I got home they called to tell me they wanted to hire me!! :D SQUEE! So yesterday I went out to dinner to celebrate with my boyfriend :) I'm finally becoming a real grown-up and getting to work as a real doctor and everything! I start July 1st, so before that I'll have to get a car and I also feel the inexplicable need to shop. A LOT. I'm meaning serious shopping with lots of new clothes I can wear while I'm working and some random pretty things as well. And I know all that don't spend money before you earn it, but well, when I'm earning it I won't have as much time to spend it as I do now ;)

I haven't bought books to celebrate. Yet. With all the books I've ordered lately, I thought I'd take it a bit slower and actually try to read some of them before I order more. See, I can control myself. A little.

So yeah, good week for me :) I've also been participating in the Bout of Books 4.0 read-a-thon and it's been really great! I love doing read-a-thons and I especially loved the chat on Friday! :) That was seriously awesome! I'm off to pull through on this last day of it and reach my goal of reading 3 hours today. I've actually discovered that it's kinda hard to keep track of how long I've been reading!

Anyway, how was your week? Exciting things happening for you? Participate in the read-a-thon as well?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review of The Unbearable Book Club For Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher

Title/Author: The Unbearable Book Club For Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher
Publisher/Date published: Delacorte BFYR, May 8th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "I'm Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn't want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee's parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of "The Unbearable Book Club," CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren't friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under mother-daughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I'll turn in when I go back to school."

You guys, do not make the same mistake I did and be misled by this cover and summary: this is NOT a cute summer read. It's just not. I had expected it to be about girls bonding and forming genuine friendships while being in the book club and discovering everything wasn't so bad after all. Or something like it. I had expected it to be funny.

I was dead wrong.

The main character, Adrienne, is a bratty, whiny teenager. Seriously, I REALLY disliked her. I mean, sure she's hasn't had the best of luck lately and having to cancel her summer trip with her best friend because she banged up her knee is tough. But really, she was just so annoying! I found myself rolling my eyes at her 'woe is me and my mom sucks'-attitude, I got it after the first few times it was mentioned. I didn't really get why the other three girls would even want to hang out with her. Her only redeeming quality to me was the fact that she loved reading, but other than that, she was kinda bland.
Also, CeeCee REALLY annoyed me as well. There was no sense to her actions and I never really got what drove her to be the way she was. Jill and Wallis were actually much more interesting, but I just didn't feel invested in any of their stories really.

For the most part I had hoped that we would really delve into all the characters and discover secrets and friendships would be formed and YES, I know pretty much on the first page it's said that someone dies, but well, I guess I was still expecting some sort of happy to be had first. Also, a LOT of questions I had about them all never got answered. I mean, what was going on with CeeCee? What exactly was wrong with Jill's mom and dad and what was the deal with Wallis and her mother??? And seriously, WHO is Adrienne's dad? And why is her mom being all skeevy about not telling her? I felt no sense of fulfillment whatsoever when I finished the last page.

Basically, I felt that nothing had really happened in The Unbearable Book Club For Unsinkable Girls. I don't think any of the girls will in fact be 'changed' because of the big and potential life-altering moment that happened at the end of it. I didn't feel like Adrienne had learned anything from her summer apart from her best friend or from any of the stupid things she did.
I did like Adrienne's doctor, he was probably one of the only ones with a positive outlook in life and I did like the scenes in which Adrienne visited him for her check-ups.
I mean, I don't need a happily ever after, though I do like them, but there was just not even a sense of hope for the future.

I guess this just wasn't the book for me, sadly.

My rating: 1,5 stars

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review of Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Title/Author: Struck (Struck #1) by Jennifer Bosworth
Publisher/Date published: FSG BYR, May 8th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Mia Price is a lightning addict. She's survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.
Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.
Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn't who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything."

I have mixed feeling about Struck. I was so incredibly excited to get to reading it and before I started I was just completely ready to fall in love with it. And I waited. And waited. And waited some more, but it didn't fully happen in the end. Though I did end up enjoying it!

The problem for me was that it all just seemed to take such a LONG time! I mean, the plot crawled at a snail's pace and I get that we needed backstory and we needed to realise what was going on and what was at stake and all of it, but well, I could have done with a little more actual action and a little less people walking and talking. And seriously, if everyone had been a bit more upfront about themselves and their respective cults, this whole mess hadn't really had to have happened at all.

While I'm always a bit apprehensive when it comes to cults, the way they were portrayed in Struck was really interesting! And really well done! I could easily see how people could go with both the Seekers and with Prophet. And though they were opposites in this, the two groups were eerily similar in both their followers and leaders. I could see how Mia couldn't make out who were the 'good' guys in all this, because until we got closer to the end, neither could I. I'm still not convinced that there were actual good guys in this, but one seemed to be a lesser evil in the end.
Cults scare me. It is scary how easily you can get sucked in and get sort of (or actually) brainwashed.

I thought the paranormal element of lightning causing these side effects was fascinating! I'm really hoping that in the next book in the series we'll get to find out more about the how and why of this.

Mia was a good main character. She had a lot of anger and distrust and shame and bless her for it! She's fiercely loyal to her family and that's always something that I admire in a person. Though I did think she was trying to control her brother a bit too much at one point. I liked that even though she had feeling for Jeremy, she didn't let it blind her to everything else.
Jeremy himself I'm still haven't made up my mind about. Sometimes I thought he was a jerk and I was questioning his motives and I don't know, I just never completely fell for him. There were also times when I really liked him, I'd just would have liked him to open up to Mia more and a bit sooner. Communication people! It's a wonderful thing.

And you know how I said the plot moved very slowly for most of the book? Towards the end it definitely starts to speed up and there are BIG REVELATIONS and scary things and blood and just GAH! ACTION! YES! Epic clash of the cults and lightning and just all of it! And right then and there I was in the moment and I just wished the whole book had made me feel like that!
Also, I wash finishing Struck while a thunderstorm was raging outside. Yeah, that was both kinda scary and appropriate.

The ending leaves me very much wondering what will happen with Mia and the cult and the faith of the world in general. So while I didn't love Struck, the cults are fascinating and immensely scary and I really ended up enjoying the story, but mostly the final part when thing started to get exciting very fast! It was all in all a pretty good debut and I'll definitely be picking up the next instalment in this series!

My rating: 3,5 stars

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review of Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Title/Author: Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publisher/Date published: Graphia, May 8th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "A story of crushes, corsets, and conspiracy
Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem."

I just finished Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink and I'm still smiling! This book was amazingly cute and fun and it had me laughing so many times it was just incredible!

I LOVED the writing! It was the perfect mix of lighthearted and funny and it was serious when it needed to be, it was SO good! From the get-go I fell in love with the characters and the place and just the summery feel-good mood that it brough with it!

Libby is a really, really great and very lovable main character! She's a history nerd who's also a total shoe fanatic fashionista and is incrediby charming. Because of her Hello Kitty tendencies, other people assumed she probably wasn't all that smart and serious about history and about her job, which shows you can't go by your first impression, because Libby was very passionate about it all! I loved her and I was rooting for her. And while I abhor the popular thing that is putting your phone in your bra when you don't have pockets, I excused her for it because she was just so adorable.

So, admittedly, Libby doesn't have the best judgment when it comes to guys and the gorgeous sailor had SLEAZEBAG written on his forehad in big bright neon letters, but yeah, I could get how she could not get past the gorgeousness he's supposed to be. I mean, I feel old saying this, but: it wasn't all that long ago that I was a teenager. But gosh, the other guy! Be still my geek loving heart! I loved the scenes where he and Libby were together and their banter had me laughing out loud so many times! And hooray for the nerd who has the movie kiss down!

Also, I loved Libby's best friend Dev. Granted, he has the stereotypical gay going on, but yeah, I kinda adored him and his quirks! Also, I thought their friendship was very believable and not just something convenient to be added into the story.

In conclusion: this was a wonderful cute, feel-good read that left me smiling and giggling and sometimes laughing out loud while I was reading it! Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink is a fantastic debut and Stephanie Kate Strohm has an amazing voice that shone through Libby! Highly recommended!

My rating: 5 stars

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon update!

I will just keep updating this instead of making a new post all the time I think. Or I might not, we'll see how it goes :)

Progress so far:

Day 1
Time read: 2.15-2.30 hours!
Pages read: around 150
Books finished: 0

Evaluation: YAY GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!!! I thought I would never make 1,5 hours, but then I went to bed and wasn't sleepy at all: so full extra hour of reading time! Score!

Day 2
Time read: 2 hours
Pages read: I think around 120-ish
Books finished: 1

Evaluation: goal accomplished again! :) YAY! Also, I finished my first book The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland and wrote the review, so go productivity!

Day 3
Time read: 1.45 hours
Pages read: 100
Books finished: 0

Evaluation: goal accomplished, but barely! Twitter and the puppy and the boyfriend and even the TV were being shiny and distracting me. Also, I needed to pick up my mom's car and that took 2,5 hours, so yeah... I also wasted a lot of time looking at pretty clothes on the interwebs... I kinda sucked yesterday, cause I only had half a day at work and didn't read as much as I'd planned to.

Day 4
Time read: about 4 hours
Pages read: 240
Books finished: 1

Evaluation: so even with walking the puppy for about 2 hours all added up I managed to make it to about 4 hours. Do you know how hard it is to keep track of how long you've been reading? Cause I always forget to check when I started and breaks and such... Anyway: YAY FINISHED A BOOK! :)

Day 5
Time read: about 2 hours
Pages read: 120 pages
Books finished: 0

Evaluation: so I failed. I had a job interview in the afternoon and had zero concentration and a really high stress level before and after they told me I GOT THE JOB *SQUEEE* well, I just had no focus for a while after that either because I was freaking out and jumping up and down and calling my mom and everything. So I failed at my goal, but EPIC WIN on getting a job! :)

Day 6
Time read: 3,5 hours
Pages read: 250
Books finished: 1

Evaluation: made my goal, yay! Also walked the puppy and went out to dinner with my boyfriend to celebrate me getting a job, so all in all, I'd say 3,5 hours is a good score :)

Day 7
Time read: a little over 3 hours
Pages read: 120
Books finished: 0

Evaluation: made my goal, but just barely. Had to bring the puppy back to my parents :( And I've discovered that I can't read Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow at the same pace I do other books, I mean, 120 pages in 3 hours is a little slow for me... Anyway, I spent this last day reading outside and it was wonderfully relaxing :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon Goals!

Hey all! I've decided to participate in the Bout of Books Read-a-Thon because it sounds like all kinds of fun and well, I need to get my read on ;)

Also, because my parents' dog is staying with me this week, I will have a warm and furry companion to my reading. The only thing is, he also needs to be walked sometimes or he gets grumpy, so this could take away from my reading time... Hmm, we'll see.
I'm working 2,5 days this week, so the others days will be filled with reading! I pretty much don't have anything else going on I think, so it should be ok :)

My goals:
-Read those review books I've been failing
-Read at least 1,5 hour on work days and 3 hours on non-work days

Anyone joining in as well? You can still sign up here if you want to participate as well!

Review of Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Title/Author: Hemlock (Hemlock #1) by Kathleen Peacock
Publisher/Date published: Katherine Tegen Books, May 8th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

Goodreads summary: "Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.
Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.
Lupine syndrome — also known as the werewolf virus — is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.
Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk."


Ok, so let me set the scene: it's past midnight and I'm a little bleary-eyed, having just finished Hemlock and I'm not even the least bit sleepy because it was awesome and thrilling and I just want to get all of it out while I'm still feeling the rush!

Seriously, I was thinking werewolves and I didn't mesh well. But Hemlock has changed all of this. It wasn't the werewolves on themselves, it was just the novels that weren't working for me, because as you can tell from my exlamation above, this one obviously did work for me. Rather well actually. And you know what I think caused this? Kathleen Peacock didn't take the GRRR out of the werewolves and it is SUCH a pet peeve of mine when this happens to paranormal beings! I mean, if werewolves were just slightly overgrown dogs, more like pets actually, they wouldn't be werewolves right? The essential part is that they SHOULD be dangerous. Because they have big claws and teeth and huh, who was that that tried to kill Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother? (I know, not a werewolf, but that's beside the point) (Point being wolves are dangerous, not domesticated) So yay for lethal wolves instead of puppies!

I loved, loved, loved the storytelling! From the moment I started I was sucked in and was just ignoring everything around me so I could luxuriate in the world and the words and the characters and just everything! Although a plea to anyone reading this: please don't ever use whisper-beg in well, basically anything. I KNOW it's something that you can do at the same time, but for some reason it makes my skin crawl.
But besides that one thing I loved the writing :)

And Mac, gosh, I really adore that girl! She hasn't had it easy and I could understand how her personality formed itself after that. I connected with her and was there with her second guessing everything and everyone because really, THE TWISTS JUST KEPT ON COMING! I mean, whenever I felt safe in my opinion of someone, everything got turned upside down again and I was left with my mouth hanging slightly open, going 'what??'. And I loved it! Though I did think the girl should at one point have stopped insisting she could take care of herself, because she'd been near death about 10 times in 3 days. I loved that her love interest knew her so well and that she did eventually trust herself and himself enough to admit her feeling for him. Good romance :)

Also, while sometimes I find that dream sequences don't work for me, in this case they really did! They were interesting and definitely added to the anticipation and it didn't feel contrived at all. I'm not sure how I feel about the love triangle though. It's not something that for me ruined anything about the story. Yet. I'm really hoping it will just sort of go away and not be a major thing in the sequel. Because I am only rooting for one boy and his name is:
KYLE. Seriously, that boy! Broke my heart when he just left and I had definitely not seen it coming... Can someone just please tell him being honorable isn't all it's cracked up to be?? Please?

Oh, and the cover: it is le pretty!

So, in short: exciting, enticing debut novel with a heroine who's easy to relate to, a boy that made me swoon, good romance and werewolves that have maintained their GRRR!
I for one cannot wait for the sequel!

My rating: 5 stars

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review of Ladies in Waiting by Laura L. Sullivan

Title/Author: Ladies in Waiting by Laura L. Sullivan
Publisher/Date published: Harcourt, May 8th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Eliza dreams of writing plays for the king’s theater, where she will be admired for her wit rather than her father’s wealth. Beth is beautiful but poor, so she must marry well, despite her love for her childhood sweetheart.
Zabby comes to England to further her scientific studies — and ends up saving the life of King Charles II. Soon her friendship with the handsome king becomes a dangerous, impossible obsession. Though she knows she should stay away from the court, the queen needs ladies in waiting.
And so the three Elizabeths from very different walks of life find themselves at the center of the most scandal-filled court that England has ever seen."

I really wanted to love Ladies in Waiting will all my heart and I tried so hard! But I'm sad to say I never got there.

The summary sounds epic to me, I mean ENGLISH ROYALTY and young ladies in waiting and intrigue and GAH, just all of it! And one of them trying to break the confinements of her gender in this particular time. There was SO MUCH there for me to possibly love, it's not even funny. Forbidden love and everything. All those things that make me a happy reader if done well.

But it didn't turn out the way I would have thought. It started out incredibly well and after the first two or three chapters it all went downhill for me. First we are introduced to the characters and in a way that had me thinking we would be reading about them from their altnernating point of view. But instead the point of view was never very clear and switched and was just a little all over the place.

I really liked Eliza, and at times I also liked Zabby. I just never really felt anything for Beth accept annoyance. I mean, I don't know if she was meant to be a parody of something, but she came across as if she could be. I was questioning her sanity pretty early on and nothing that she did after made me reconsider said questioning. She was delusional and I was gaping at her stupidity in her 'love' for her childhood 'sweetheart'. And gah, I just wanted to slap her! And Zabby too. I mean, at one point she overhears a plot threathening the queen's life and goes, well, he probably didn't mean that and it's more convenient to believe people just don't do bad things to eachother at court. Or something very close to it. She's supposed to be a scientist and knows all these things and in this she was just a stupid girl and it annoyed me very much.

Also, I never really got her love for Charles. Maybe because we don't see a whole lot of them together, but I didn't get what was so special about him. I mean, he's the king, but that's not a reason to love somebody. I definitely did not like the way he treated his wife, but well, that's probably historically accurate, sadly.

I did however love Eliza. She's free spirited and knows what she wants and isn't afraid to risk everything to get it. And I respect that. She was the one bright point in Ladies in Waiting and I wished she would have gotten a bit more time to shine, because I adored her.

The plot seemed to crawl along at a snail's pace and then the book just ended. I mean, I felt a bit cheated by the end. Things happen, some awful, some I cheered at, but it just ended there. And I felt that everything I'd worked on by reading the whole thing was somehow just swiped off the table and I'm left without any closure. This book and I had a difficult relationship and I would have like to have parted on a good note, but the ending just didn't accomplish this for me.

Also, with all the debauchery and everything going, I'm a bit hesitant about this being marketed as YA, if it can be classified as such, it should in my opinion be more the older teen because there are a lot of sexual references.

All in all, I struggled my way through this book and then I didn't even get my closure at the ending. It had a definite subdued feel to it that was only lifted by the moments in which Eliza was allowed to shine, she was the redeeming factor in Ladies in Waiting!

My rating: 2 stars

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review of The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

Title/Author: The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze
Publisher/Date published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May 1st 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Happily ever after is a thing of the past.
A series of natural disasters has decimated the earth. Cut off from the rest of the world, England is a dark place. The sun rarely shines, food is scarce, and groups of criminals roam the woods, searching for prey. The people are growing restless.
When a ruthless revolutionary sets out to overthrow the crown, he makes the royal family his first target. Blood is shed in Buckingham Palace, and only sixteen-year-old Princess Eliza manages to escape.
Determined to kill the man who destroyed her family, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. She has nothing left to live for but revenge, until she meets someone who helps her remember how to hope — and to love — once more. Now she must risk everything to ensure that she not become... The Last Princess."

So you know how I have a slight obsession with anything to do with English royalty right? And I'm a huge fan of dystopians/post-apocalyptic novels and don't even get me started on princesses. So I read the summary for The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze and went: NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!!!
And seriously, how awesome is that penname? I assume it's a penname. Right?
But I'm sad to report to you all it has left me feeling... disappointed.

While reading The Last Princess, I found myself actually asking myself if I could have a wonky e-ARC, because it genuinely felt like I was missing pages. Like information that should have been there had been chopped away to make the book shorter. But I don't think my e-ARC was significantly different from the finished version based on what I've heard other people say about it.

I felt like I was floundering around in this story, everything seemed to be happening at once and there was no time to just take a breath and focus on what happened or to get to know the characters or even to figure out how much time had actually passed. I was lost. And I don't like feeling lost while I'm reading a book.

One thing I always try to take away from any book I read is a sense of the identity of the main character. After finishing The Last Princess, I'm still not entirely certain what I should say of Eliza's. And that's a big problem to me, because it's her story and I should have gotten a feel for her as a person. The same goes for her love interest. I should be able to describe him as more than just his physical qualities.

And then there's the romance. While I usually cheer at any romance added in a story and though I can enjoy a book without it, I'm always more happy when it's there. This time it was not the case. I just didn't work for me. I mean, seriously, you cannot tell me that after being together for the GIGANTIC PORTION OF TIME OF ONE DAY that they're in love and defying all to be together?? No. Just no.

For all you sensitive souls out there, a warning: there is a lot of violence and cruelty and if you are particularly prone to staring openmouthed at animal cruelty (like I am), be doubly warned. At one point I found myself going: when will they just stop hurting animals??? This is not meant as a negative point, but it's just something that I thought should be mentioned.
The cruelty of the army of this 'ruthless revolutionary' (which he is, ruthless I mean) is mindblowing and crazy and I would have liked a bit more of an explanation for it all, how did it start? Why are people following him and acting this way? TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE SEVENTEEN DAYS! Because that's apparantly what started it all, color me interested.
With all the killing going on, I thought some of the miraculous survivals were a bit convenient. I mean, I could have handled either Polly or Mary surviving that last fight, but both seemed a bit too much seeing as they both seemed pretty mortally wounded. They had to look EVERYWHERE to find antibiotics when Eliza got tetanus, how did they manage to fix these girls up? And Caligula, how actually does a horse survive a lance in the side?

The premise of The Last Princess has me all excited, flailing around, going this could have been SO good! But I would have just liked if there had been, well, a bit MORE of everything. More getting to know the characters so I could start to care about all the horrific things happening, a little more time to fall in love with the love interest and for the romance to develop, more backstory. More actually reading about what was happening when now chunks of time just passed and all I had to show for it was 'two weeks passed, it was horrible'. Because that just didn't work so well for me.

I always enjoy a good sibling relationship and I adored the little brother, all amazing endearing boyness of him. I originally thought this would be a standalone, but the ending has me thinking that it will be a series. Does anyone know anything about it? I'm curious to see if a sequel will answer the many, MANY questions I still have.
So while The Last Princess wasn't exactly what I wanted from it when I started reading it, I'm still considering picking up a sequel (assuming there will be one) to see if it manages to live up to the potential of this premise.

My rating: 2 stars

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review of A Gentleman Says "I Do" by Amelia Gray

Title/Author: A Gentleman Says "I Do" by Amelia Gray
Publisher/Date published: Sourcebooks Casablanca, May 1st 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Iverson Brentwood has finally met his match. Catalina Crisp heats his blood like no other lady. Her alluring countenance has stopped him dead in his tracks. But no matter how attracted he is to her, he can't give into his desire to possess her in every way... she is the daughter of the man he's sworn to destroy.
Catalina's father is a well-known writer, but wastrel whose disappearances continuously put them close to destitution. Something drastic must change, so it is with quill in hand, that Catalina completes her father's latest parody of Iverson and Matson Brentwood's spectacular arrival in London. When the story hits the newsprint, a darkly handsome man is at her door, looking for her father.
Seeing the dashing rogue in the flesh, for a bewildering moment dallying with the rake seems like the perfect fictional escape — and it's all she can do not to give into the madness of the intriguing man."

You guys know that historical romance is one of my many guilty pleasures right? Because they are. I love the romance and the drama and the dresses and the men being manly and ALL THE EMOTIONS. And it always makes me a little sad when I don't feel much of anything while reading them, and that's exactly what happened with this one.

First off, the summary is misleading. Iverson isn't out to destroy Catalina's father, he just wants to threathen him a bit to make him stop writing things about his family. If he really were, he would have seduced Catalina right then and there and ruined her in society's eyes. But that's just my opinion. No matter how much it kept appearing in the story: I couldn't picture Iverson as the Rake of Baltimore. Even though he keeps insisting he's not a gentleman, his actions spoke louder and he was definitely not ruthless or anything. I liked Iverson very much up until about the end of A Gentleman Says I Do, but we'll get to that.

Catalina was an interesting character, she's loyal and loving and cares a great deal about everyone and puts herself last. There were just some times when I felt myself going WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING??? and could see trouble coming from literally MILES away. And that bothered me, because while everyone can make mistakes, these were pretty big ones and she sometimes seemed clueless when she was described as smart and responsible earlier.

So the main characters were nice enough. I did however take issue with Catalina's aunt and her father. I couldn't fathom how these two adults could be so clueless to money issues and well, basically everything. How did they make it to their respectable age? This baffles me. I could not figure out how they remembered to take a breath on their own. Seriously. And I'm sure Catalina's father is very charming and all, but he's definitely also a royal ass. Just up and leaving your daughter every time the fancy strikes is not very good parenting. Also, his casual attitude when he finally showed up annoyed me a lot.

And then there's the matter of Iverson and Catalina's romance. I thought they rubbed along pretty well, but I'm just a bit tired of the insta-love that's creeping into these novels lately. And it goes hand in hand with the insta-knowing of each other's souls that weirds me out. I mean, it takes time to get to figure out what makes someone tick and you don't do it within 5 minutes of meeting someone. I did like that they didn't immediately jump into bed, but they just kept talking during their kissing and other intimacies and not in a way that you'd think, it sounded a bit too polite for the things they were doing and it weirded me out a bit. Also, can you gasp while kissing? I've been trying to picture it, but it sounds rather hard to me.

And I really disliked that after Iverson forgives Catalina for keeping one big thing from him and then not even half a day later finds out ANOTHER, even BIGGER thing she didn't tell him, he's just 'she didn't trust me, how can I make her trust me?'. I mean WHAT?? SHE was the one that did something wrong and he's trying to figure out how to make her trust him? WTF? I would have liked for him to have made a bigger deal out of this, cause Catalina's been agonising over it for most of the story and then it's just swept under the rug like it's no biggie. Which it was.

Mostly, I just wasn't feeling it and if I had been I could have probably gotten over my complaints. The writing is pretty good and engaging, but the story itself just didn't seem to work for me.

My rating: 2 stars

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Daisy Update (9)

Hello everyone!! I hope you're having a wonderful Sunday and have been having a wonderful couple of weeks! I always mean to post a weekly Daisy Update, but yeah, it doesn't always happen.

So since I told you guys what was going on with me last time I've officially graduated!!! :) As evidence, a picture of me grinning at my diploma I'd gotten about 30 seconds before this picture was taken:

I was so happy and I got to share it with my friends and family and my boyfriend and it was wonderful! Also, I got to wear my pretty dress and I did NOT want to take it off when it was time to go to bed. I'm trying to figure out when I'll be able to wear a fancy dress again, cause it's definitely not something for all occasions... Hmm...
But anyway, it was great, I got to graduate with one of my friends who has been through the 3 years of internships with me all the way and it felt even more special because of that. After, I went out to dinner with my parents, brother, his girlfriend and my boyfriend and the restaurant put a bit of firework in my desert because they found out what the occasion was and though it was a bit scary (I'm a big wuss when it comes to fireworks, even childfriendly ones), it was also lovely and sweet.
So yeah, good times! :)

So, the day after I just chilled out, staring at the flowers I'd gotten and then it was time to get back to the real world, as I've been working my parttime job again while still looking for a job. *sigh*

Anyway, over this weekend it's become more clear that I need to start looking for a car ASAP, because having people drive me and the boyfriend around is beyond annoying and it just needs to stop. So we need to buy a car. And I know absolutely zero about cars, aside from that I know they shouldn't make certain noises and I'd like to have one that doesn't have dents or scratches on it. I mean, if it gets damaged I want to at least know who to blame for it.

Last week it was Queen's Day here in Holland and the day before is Queen's Night (I know, original right?) and on Queen's Night I went out with friends, which was a lot of fun and on Queen's Day itself me and the boyfriend went to the festivities with his friends which was also nice. Confession: I'm not really into the whole thing and dressing up (you're either supposed to dress in something horrendously orange or assesorize with it or red-white-blue, the colors of our flag), but I sort of conformed. I always joke I'm a bad Dutchie cause I hate the color orange, liquorice, something horrible called 'stamppot' which is basically just mashed potatoes and some sort of vegetable mixed together (and gross) and herring.

Anyway, I have been reading a LOT of books and also, buying a lot of books... I KNOW, I said I should be put on a ban and I really should be! But it's so hard and the Book Depository is making it harder by offering a 10% off thing and I just can't control myself... Hello, my name is Daisy and I'm a book buying addict.
And shoe buying addict. Seriously, in one day I bought THREE pairs of shoes. It was insane. But just look at the pretty!:

Really, how could resist them? They just kept staring at me saying 'buy us, we want to come home with you'. So I gave in.

Also, my boyfriend's birthday is this week! I'm not sure what we'll be doing to celebrate on the day itself, but on Friday he's having a sort of party for his family, should be fun. I'm plotting gifts, but I can't tell you what, cause he admits that he sometimes reads my blog...

OH, and as of this Friday I have a new cousin!! Her proud daddy sent a picture (gotta love e-mail) and she's absolutely adorable! I can't wait to visit him and my aunt and meet the little girl in person. I just love babies...

Anyway, I think that's all my news. What's going on with you? And I hope you all have a great week!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Review of When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Title/Author: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Publisher/Date published: Simon Pulse, May 1st 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through GalleyGrab

Goodreads summary: "In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended — Juliet’s cousin Rosaline — tells her side of the tale.
What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.
Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her — and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy... and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.
Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends..."

Ok, confession time: I've never actually read Romeo and Juliet. I know, shame on me! But of course I know the story and I actually also knew about Rosaline, the girl who doesn't physically show up in the play. So when I read the summary and found out it would be Rosaline's story in a retelling I went LET ME HAVE IT!! And I'm happy to say that I really, really enjoyed it!

The writing in When You Were Mine is captavating and I immediately felt connected to Rosaline. Score one for Rebecca Serle! I loved how she introduced us into this world and with everything being so wonderful I found myself rooting for the thing that we know is going to happen not to happen. If you follow my drift. But yeah, the wonderful guy that's been Rose's best friend forever and possible boyfriend of late does the douchebag thing and dumps her for her cousin. Seriously, I was SO mad at him! I know you can fall for someone and this was bad timing, but mostly the way he handled it made me call him a douche. Or more of his lack of handling it. I felt Rob owed her more than that with their history.

And this is also where my only problem with When You Were Mine and Rosaline comes in: she was not confronting him about it. I get that it was just her character, but I just wanted to scream at her to slap him or at least ask what the hell he was doing! GAH! I did like that in the end Rose grew a spine, and yay for character growth, but this kinda bugged me. Also, her friends, who were absolutely wonderful in all other things, also failed to confront Rob about it. And I just wasn't feeling Rob as this wonderful guy.

I did really like Rose, she was a wonderful person and was just there for her friends and she loved her family. Also, she cared about her grades and college and that's always something I respect in a person. I also liked that after she got over her prejudice she was willing to learn she was wrong about someone she'd sort of known when she was a kid and who turned out to be an amazing guy and nothing at all like she thought he was. I was definitely rooting for him and I liked the moment when Rose decided she wanted to learn everything there was to know about him!

Sometimes I forgot how this was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet and that of course it has to at least follow the major points in the storyline. So every time I felt comfortably lost in this world something happened to jerk me awake and go NOOOO! and I absolutely love it when that happens. I mean, I'm not easily caught of guard by things happening in a book and with a retelling it's even harder, so that's another point to Rebecca Serle. She made this story so much her own that I sometimes had to take a moment to realise it was in fact a modern version of Romeo and Juliet. And that play was a tragedy. So I should have expected the tragic event, but I didn't and it was horrible and tugged at my heartstrings.

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle was a captivating debut and I read it in no time at all! I just kept turning the pages, wanting to find out what happend, happily lost inside this wonderful story! I'm hoping to see the announcement of another book by Rebecca Serle soon!

My rating: 5 stars

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review of Too Tempting To Resist by Cara Elliott

Title/Author: Too Tempting To Resist (Lords of Midnight #2) by Cara Elliott
Publisher/Date published: Forever, May 1st 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Determined to stop her wayward brother from squandering their dwindling fortune, Lady Eliza Brentford decides to follow him to his favorite den of depravity. There, among the candlelight and raucous revelry, she encounters her brother's role model in debauchery, the notorious Marquess of Haddan, Gryffin Dwight. Staring into his smoldering green eyes, Eliza can't help but find the rakehell nobleman seductively charming-and sinfully attractive."

I really enjoyed the previous book in this series Too Wicked to Wed and was really excited about reading Too Tempting To resist. And while it didn't fully live up to my expectations, I still really enjoyed it!

I really liked Eliza, I liked that she got into very awkward situations because of her curiosity and spirit and I liked her creativity. I remember kinda liking Gryffin in Too Wicked to Wed and I'm glad we got to see more of his character in this one. And you guys, he has a dragon tattoo on his abdomen! And sure, that probably will look hot on him in all his hotness now, but I can't help but imagining how it will be a very sad dragon once he reaches 70... Anyway: Gryffin is definitely swoonworthy and he RESCUES KITTIES! A guy that's good with animals is always a winner in my opinion.

I very much enjoyed the interaction between these two, I guess I just wasn't fully there with the transformation from lust to love just yet. That they shared a mutual passion was definitely a bonus point and I loved a certain scene having to do with paint and a garden. And a naked man. And that's all I'm saying on that subject.

I thought Eliza's brother was a royal douchebag and someone had to teach him to behave. I just thought that the way in which is was handled by Gryffin was slightly overstepping his boundaries. It just felt a bit wrong to me and I was kind of disappointed in Eliza that she just went along with it. If Gryffin had been aided in this by a cousin or some other relative, I would have felt more comfortable with it I think.

While it was a nice read and it had some really excellent moments, the romance was lacking something for me. I am however really looking forward to reading the last Hellhound's story, he sounds infinitely fascinating!

My rating: 3,5 stars

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review of Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Title/Author: Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Publisher/Date published: Amulet Books, May 1st 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home."

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe is a very cute contemporary read dealing with some very serious topics and it was great!

I LOVED Chloe! She's definitely a girl with a big heart and she's not afraid to take action or let people know how she feels. She genuinely wants to help people and though she may not always find the most appropriate way to do so, her intentions are good. I loved how she wasn't afraid to make a fool out of herself and in this she is definitely braver than I am.

We find out that Chloe hasn't been the best of friends, but seriously, one of her friends is messed up! And the spreading of rumors really made me sick! Especially because it was so vicious! I thought Chloe was so right in thinking that because someone's been your best friend for years it also means that they know how to hit you were it hurts. I've experienced something like this but not going as far with someone I considered my best friend as a kid and it's hurtful. I loved that Chloe owned up to her own mistakes and tried to make the best of it.

And guys, the family connection is wonderful! I'm just sad that I never got to meet her brothers in person, only in her memories, cause they sound like amazing guys! I really liked Chloe's grandmother, though sometimes I just wanted to scream at her and tell her to man up and accept what was happening, because it was getting pretty dangerous the way she was living. But I loved that she had such a close bond with Chloe and was obsessed with Brad Pitt's butt ;)

I really liked that Chloe learns to listen instead of talking all the time and it was interesting to get to know the fellow contributors of the radio station. I very much liked Clem, the dragon lady! None of them have it easy.
I also really liked Duncan, he was a sweet guy and his family life is definitely very complicated. I thought the topic this brought up was very dark, but dealt with extremely well. I liked that he was realistic and though he liked Chloe, his loyalty was to his family first.

The romance was sweet and because Chloe was so willing to put herself out there, she even made me cry once and I love it when that happens! Also, I would want Chloe as my friend because she sounds like my kind of girl!
I found myself reading on because I wanted to find out how it would all end and it did not disappoint! I liked that everything wasn't magically ok by the end but it still ended on a positive note and left me with hope for all of them for the future. This was a wonderful debut and I'm itching to find out what Shelley Coriell will write next!

My rating: 4,5 stars