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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

The Summer of Skinny DippingPublisher: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 1402238622
Pages: 304 pgs
Genre: YA
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge, YA Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
Sometimes I still wake up shivering in the early hours of the morning, drowning in dreams of being out there in the ocean that summer, of looking up at the moon and feeling as invisible and free as a fish. But I'm jumping ahead, and to tell the story right I have to go back to the very beginning. To a place called Indigo Beach. To a boy with pale skin that glowed against the dark waves. To the start of something neither of us could have predicted, and which would mark us forever, making everything that came after and before seem like it belonged to another life.

My name is Mia Gordon: I was sixteen years old, and I remember everything.

My Review:
I finally broke my romance reading marathon by picking up a YA. I have been wanting to but once I get on a role, I can’t stop myself. The Summer of Skinny Dipping was the perfect choice. It was a great mix of romance, drama and tragedy that kept me interested the whole time. There was no “Oh when is this going to end” moment with this book and that is an accomplishment in itself.

I was a little wary when I started reading that this would be one of those uber shiny YA novels about rich people and their rich people problems. I really hate reading about rich people. I watch Gossip Girl and that’s about rich people but the idea of reading about rich people makes me want to pull my hair out. I was glad that this book had substance. Mia was a normal girl, living a normal life, experiencing her first love and first tragedy.

I was also really impressed by the depth and intelligence of the two main characters. Mia is pretty much the typical teenager. She has relationship issues, parental conflicts and trouble fitting in. But I was proud that she never sacrificed herself to fit in. She had a good head on her shoulders. Simon was interesting to say the least. I wanted to figure him out almost as much as Mia did. I was glad that Mia found someone on the outside like her and with many of the same issues. It was great to see them find each other. All of the other characters, I could really have done without because Simon and Mia made this book.

The Summer of Skinny Dipping was just plain awesome. The ending will have you either crying or pulling your hair out but you will enjoy getting there.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The 48 Hour Reading Challenge

Okay so I completely failed at the 24 Hour Readathon this year. I mean I completely and totally failed as only true failures can do. I did only five hours and did not finish one book. It was sad and pathetic. This time will be different. I will fuel myself on energy drinks, forgo sleep, and break only to eat. I also have oodles and oodles of books that I have been DYING to read. Here are my probable reads:
  • Twilight-Stephenie Meyer
  • New Moon-Stephenie Meyer
  • Eclipse-Stephenie Meyer
  • Breaking Dawn-Stephenie Meyer
  • Deadly Little Secret-Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • Incarceron-Catherine Fisher
  • Bleeding Violet-Dia Reeves
  • Dark of the Moon-Rachel Hawthorne
  • The Splendor Falls-Rosemary Clement-Moore
  • Blood Promise-Richelle Mead
  • Frostbite-Richelle Mead
  • Deadly Little Lies-Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • Vampire Academy-Richelle Mead
  • Ink Exchange-Melissa Marr
  • Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception-Maggie Stiefvater
  • Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side-Beth Fantaskey
  • Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale-Holly Black
  • Friday Night Bites-Chloe Neill
  • The Sweet Far Thing-Libba Bray
  • Some Girls Bite-Chloe Neill
  • Full Moon-Rachel Hawthorne
  • Fragile Eternity-Melissa Marr
  • Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie-Maggie Stiefvater
  • Shiver-Maggie Stiefvater
  • Swoon-Nina Malkin
  • Shadow Kiss-Richelle Mead
  • Red Is for Remembrance-Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • Silver is for Secrets-Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • Blue is for Nightmares-Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • White is for Magic-Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • Rebel Angels-Libba Bray
  • Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins
  • Catching Fire-Suzanne Collins
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty-Libba Bray
  • Wicked Lovely-Melissa Marr
  • Sapphique-Catherine Fisher
  • Moonlight-Rachel Hawthorne
  • Captivate-Carrie Jones
  • Need-Carrie Jones
  • Tithe-Holly Black
  • Valiant-Holly Black
And I have more if I need them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

Life After Yes: A NovelPublisher: Avon
ISBN: 0061894478
Pages: 368 pgs
Genre: Chick Lit
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
This is the story of Quinn—born Prudence Quinn O'Malley—a confused young Manhattan attorney who loses her father on that tragic September morning that changed everything. Now, at an existential crossroads in her life, Quinn must confront impossible questions about commitment and career, love and loss. Her idealistic beau desperately wants a wedding, and whisks her away to Paris just to propose. But then Quinn has a dream featuring judges and handcuffs and Nietzsche and Britney . . . and far too many grooms. Suddenly, her future isn't so clear. Quinn's world has become a minefield of men—some living, some gone, and traversing it safely is going to take a lot more than numerous glasses of pinot grigio.

Life After Yes is a blisteringly honest, thoroughly modern tale of life and love in chaos, marking the arrival of a truly exciting new voice in contemporary fiction.

My Review:
I must first begin by saying that I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. I know I say that all the time. I think it’s a defense mechanism. If I expect to love a book and it sucks, I feel like I have lost something. If I love a book that I expect to hate I feel like I have gained something intangible.

The characters in Life After Yes were some of the most interesting characters were some of the most interesting that I have come across in my recent reading.  All of them were faulty having messed up in their relationships in one way or another but they were are still quite likeable. Quinn was a lawyer, engaged and seemingly happy yet she is also an alcoholic, who pines after her ex and eventually cheats on her fiancĂ© with said ex.   Sage, Quinn’s seemingly normal fiancĂ©, is a mama’s boy who kisses Quinn’s friend while Quinn is comforting her newly widowed mother. The best part of this book was watching these flawed characters come to grips with their faults and learn that they can love and be loved in spite of them.

I tend to avoid books about 9/11. It is still hard to read about. I think it always will be. As a New Yorker, I don’t need a reminder. However, I really loved how it was incorporated into Life After Yes. It was always a spectre in the background of Quinn’s thought and actions. It affects her relationships and emotions. Not only because she lost her father in the attacks but because it was a trauma for her as well. It was very well done.
I really enjoyed Life After Yes if for nothing more than the characterizations were awesome. I recommend this to anyone looking for a book with really strong characterizations.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice by Abigail Reynolds

The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice: A modern love story with a Jane Austen twistPublisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402237324
Pages: 448 pgs
Genre: Romance/Jane Austen Sequel/ Pride and Prejudice
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
A modern love story with a Jane Austen twist.. .

Marine biologist Cassie Boulton has no patience when a modern-day Mr. Darcy appears in her lab on Cape Cod. Proud, aloof Calder Westing III is the scion of a famous political family, while Cassie's success is hard-won in spite of a shameful family history.

When their budding romance is brutally thwarted, both by his family and by hers, Calder tries to set things right by rewriting the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice...but will Cassie be willing to supply the happy ending?

My Review:
I love Abigail Reynolds books. I have read many Jane Austen sequels and interpretations in my day but there is something special about Abigail Reynold’s books that I have found in few others. She is such an amazing writer and storyteller that any book by her is hard to resist.

I often find that a modern Lizzy and Darcy are hard to pull off. They often tend to resemble regency characters that have somehow transported themselves to modern times. Calder and Cassie are the perfect modern representations of Lizzy and Darcy. It is difficult for me to assess Calder as Darcy. Darcy was very much a man of his time and it is difficult for a man like him to be in any form of modern situation convincingly. However, Abigail Reynolds captured the essence of Darcy in Calder perfectly. It is much easier to assess a modern Lizzy because Lizzy was very much a modern woman (or at least I think so).  Cassie was Lizzy. Intelligent, independent with a good head on her shoulders.

In every Pride and Prejudice adaptation there must be a moment where Darcy reveals his true intentions to Elizabeth. In modern adaptations, it takes many forms from an email to a text message. It is often my favorite part of any Jane Austen adaptation and it is totally true in this one. In this one the method is quite a bit more interesting. Calder writes a novel called Pride & Presumption and sends a pre-pub copy to Cassie. Through the novel Cassie gets Calder’s perspective and falls in love with him.

Everyone who buys this must beware that this is a reissue of a book called Pemberley By the Sea. I don’t know how much has been edited or added because, although I have the older version, I have never read it.  I highly recommend this one and any Jane Austen sequel that Abigail Reynolds writes.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On Folly Beach by Karen White

On Folly BeachPublisher: NAL Trade
ISBN: 0451229215
Pages: 416 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/WWII
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
Folly Beach, South Carolina, has survived despite hurricanes and war. But it's the personal battles of Folly Beach's residents that have left the most scars, and why a young widow has been beckoned there to heal her own... 

To most people, Folly Beach is simply the last barrier island before reaching the great Atlantic. To some, it's a sanctuary for lost souls, which is why Emmy Hamilton's mother encourages her to buy the local book store, Folly's Finds, hoping it will distract Emmy from the loss of her husband.

Emmy is at first resistant. So much has already changed. But after finding love letters and an image of a beautiful bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly's Finds, she decides to take the plunge. But the seller insists on one condition: Emmy must allow Lulu, the late owner's difficult sister, to continue selling her bottle trees from its back yard.

For the most part Emmy ignores Lulu as she sifts through the love letters, wanting to learn more. But the more she discovers about the letters, the more she understands Lulu. As details of a possible murder and a mysterious disappearance during WWII are revealed, the two women discover that circumstances beyond their control, sixty years apart, have brought them together, here on Folly Beach. And it is here that their war-ravaged hearts can find hope for a second chance...

My Review:
There are not many novels that I pick up knowing that I will love it. On Folly Beach was one of the few. I loved everything about this book from the first sentence. I felt bad when I had to put it down and altered my schedule so I could read more.

Usually when I love I book, I love most or all of the characters as well. Not so with this one. I couldn’t stand a good portion of the characters. Cat was one of the most selfish people I have ever encountered in literature or life. She simply could not stand to have a man not want her. I couldn’t muster any sort of sympathy for her at all and I couldn’t wait for something terrible to happen to her. I didn’t dislike Maggie but the woman frustrated me to no end. I kept waiting for her to tell Cat to take a hike but she never did. I felt horrible for her but I couldn’t help but recognize that it was her own fault.

Now don’t think that I hated all of the characters. I loved Emmy. She was one of the most engaging and interesting characters that I have encountered in a long time. She was bookworm and a librarian. She had this compulsion towards organization that I can identify with as a bibliophile and a librarian. Sometimes when I see shelves in disarray (other than my own), I get itchy.  I also loved Heath. He was my favorite character in the book. I wanted him and Emmy to end up together (like I think most of us would).

Usually when novels take place in two different time periods, I find that the story becomes a bit disjointed and I always pick one time period that I read more closely. On Folly Beach was one of the few exceptions. Karen White weaved so many unifying threads through both Maggie and Emmy’s stories that neither story could be read without thinking of the other. Maggie was always present in Emmy’s story and you could hardly read about Maggie without thinking of Emmy.

I loved this book. I didn’t want it to end and felt a loss when it did. I highly recommend.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Legend of a Suicide by David Vann

Legend of a Suicide: Stories (P.S.)Publisher: Harper Perennial
ISBN: 0061875848
Pages: 272 pgs
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
In semiautobiographical stories set largely in David Vann's native Alaska, Legend of a Suicide follows Roy Fenn from his birth on an island at the edge of the Bering Sea to his return thirty years later to confront the turbulent emotions and complex legacy of his father's suicide.

My Review:
I must be honest. I hate short stories (and novellas too). Hate them. Maybe it’s residual high school angst resulting from being forced to sit in an uncomfortable desk and being forced to read terrible little pieces of parentally approved fiction that no one gives a pig’s snout about and then have to endure the further torture of having to answer mundane and trivial question about them. I know, I know. I’m being juvenile. This book was different. The writing was beautiful and there was a unifying thread through all six of the stories.

There were so many aspects of Legend of a Suicide that I was expecting to hate but ended up loving. First of all, the prose was so bleak and bare. It was at times almost grotesque. The burial of a badly decomposed Roy by Jim in “Sukkwan Island”, the main story in the collection,  was enough to make my stomach churn. It would not be advised for anyone with even the weakest of stomachs to read that part (Part 2). This is coming from a girl who watches Jackass without flinching. I also loved that nature and natural imagery played such a huge role. I am not the most nature oriented person. The thought of leaving the city gives me hives but the imagery in this book was, quite simply, beautiful. Legend of a Suicide was as much about Alaska as it was about Roy and Jim.

I really did not expect to like this book at all. But, as I find with many books I judge before opening, I was wrong.  It was a nice break from the romance odyssey I have been on as of late and I will definitely check out David Vann’s other books.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran

Wicked Becomes You
Publisher: Pocket
ISBN: 1416593128
Pages: 416 pgs
Genre: Romance/Regency
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

She’s been burned not once but twice by London’s so-called gentlemen . . .

Gwen Maudsley is pretty enough to be popular, and plenty wealthy, too. But what she’s best known and loved for is being so very, very nice. When a cad jilts her at the altar—again—the scandal has her outraged friends calling for blood. Only Gwen has a different plan. If nice no longer works for her, then it’s time to learn to be naughty. Happily, she knows the perfect tutor—Alexander Ramsey, her late brother’s best friend and a notorious rogue.

So why won’t a confirmed scoundrel let her be as bad as she wants to be?

Unbeknownst to Gwen, Alex’s aloof demeanor veils his deepest unspoken desire. He has no wish to see her change, nor to tempt himself with her presence when his own secrets make any future between them impossible. But on a wild romp from Paris to the Riviera, their friendship gives way to something hotter, darker, and altogether more dangerous. With Alex’s past and Gwen’s newly unleashed wildness on a collision course, Gwen must convince Alex that his wickedest intentions are exactly what she needs.

My Review:

First of all, let me apologize for this being a couple of days late. I had a bit of a mail kerfluffle but that is resolved now. Turns out neighbors are not the most reliable people when it comes to bringing packages that have been left with them in a timely manner. That has been resolved with a conversation with my lovely mail person who will now be getting a Christmas card every year from now on.

Enough of my haphazard ramblings, onto the review. I love historical fiction in all forms but I must confess to a serious addiction to historical romance. It is not a problem  but it is a definite addiction with no cure in sight. This addiction covers many historical periods including regencies, westerns, even the occasional swashbucklebuckle pirate romance. I am an addict and I cannot help myself.

Wicked Becomes You was no exception to my love of the historical romance. It had all of my favorite plot points---rakish hero, headstrong heroine, misunderstandings bad guys and drama. Alex was one of those loveable rakes. He was a bad boy yet at the same time kind of sweet and funny. Admittedly, not my favorite type of hero—I prefer my rakes a bit more rough around the edges—but he’ll do. Gwen was stubborn, a bit foolish but all in all her story was interesting. I did think that sometimes she became a bit Mary Sueish (for all of those fanficcers out there—it means an over-idealized heroine) but Duran always managed to pull her back.

Wicked Becomes you is one of the better examples of historical romance. It mixes drama, humor, and action perfectly. It was fun, intriguing and quite the good read. I will probably read Meredith Duran’s other books as well.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare

Tall, Dark and Wolfish
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1402236956
Pages: 416 pgs
Genre: Romance/Paranormal/Shapeshifters
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

In Lydia Dare's debut trilogy, Regency England has gone to the wolves!

He's lost the most important part of himself...

Lord Benjamin Westfield is a powerful werewolf-until one full moon when he doesn't change. His life now shattered, he rushes off to Scotland in search of the healer who can restore his inner beast, only to find she's not at all what he expected...

She would make him whole, if she could...

Young, beautiful witch Elspeth Campbell will do anything to help anyone who calls upon her healing arts. Then Lord Benjamin shows up, and she suddenly discovers she may need him even more than he needs her...

My Review:

This series has quickly become one of my favorite. It is always guaranteed to give you an intelligent and independent heroine and a snarky and badly behaved leading man along with a well developed plot and great writing.

I have been looking forward to Ben's story since the last book (A Certain Wolfish Charm). He was the most mysterious brother. He had very little to do with the first book and I felt I knew him the least. Ben is the slightly more lighthearted Westfield brother who has traveled to Scotland to be cured by Elspeth Campbell, a healer. I liked Ben quite a bit. He was a nice break from the snarky and temperamental Simon and his story also serves as a great bridge to Will’s story in the next book. I also liked Elspeth quite a bit. Not as much as I loved Lily but enough where I could identify with her throughout the book without ever having the desire to strangle her.

I also tend to avoid most books with witchcraft (barring Harry Potter of course) but I found the use of it here was pleasant and interesting. I thought it was integrated well and it definitely added a new aspect to the book. The one aspect that really did annoy me was Elspeth’s coven themselves. They were, quite frankly, annoying. They were pushy and controlling when they should have been comforting and supportive. Caitrin was the worst. She used her abilities as a seer to manipulate Elspeth. Or at least that is how I saw it. I think most would see it as Caitrin trying to protect her coven and her friend but I tend to not view meddlers very sympathetically.

Overall, I really did like this one. Neither Ben nor Elspeth were my favorite but they were good enough to keep me interested in the series. I can’t wait for the next books.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.

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