October 16, 2014

Book Review: Season for Surrender by Theresa Romain

At First Sight: Louisa Oliver knows she was lucky, she survived her first London season and a broken engagement with her reputation intact - even though her erstwhile fiancé is now her brother in law, happily married to Louisa's sister Julia - but she's also in a bit of a rut.

She's not happy rusticating in the countryside with her big, loving family; and she doesn't want to keep being a third-wheel in her sister's marriage, and she also wants to have a bit of adventure... so when she's invited to the infamous Christmas house party of one Lord Xavier, Louisa agrees to go even though she holds Xavier accountable for the scandal that surrounded her family, what with the broken engagement and all.

What she doesn't know is that Alexander Edgewere, Lord Xavier has placed a bet on her: he has to convince Louisa to come to the party and stay for the duration. And he is not happy about it. Xavier finds Louisa quite charming and he likes her, but he has never backed down from a bet before and he's not about to. 

Second Glance: I was excited to read Season for Surrender after having enjoyed Season for Temptation, and the book started well enough. I liked getting to know Lord Xavier he is complex and more than just a rake reformed - In fact, I don't think he's much of a rake at all, he just runs with that image people have on him.

We get a fair bit of his inner monologue and that was interesting.

I grew to like Louisa as well but I just didn't click with her the way I did with Julia. She's more stand-offish, which is weird considering we are following her point of view. But she has a good heart and wits and quite a bit of a back bone, which I admired.

The story itself is very simple, as it spans the two weeks of the house party. I did have a problem with the villain who was cartoonish and silly, and really why no one hit him sooner?

Bottom Line: Season for Surrender was still a good read and I want to read the next book in the series soon! I just didn't love it as much as I hoped I would .
starstarstar
Alex

October 9, 2014

A Little Bit of House Keeping...

Hello my lovelies!

I know I've been very quiet lately, with very sporadic reviews and comments and visits to friendly blogs. 

I'll admit that I'm not in the best of head spaces right now, about a month ago my dog, Rocco passed away, and I just haven't felt like myself since then. It's the first time in 20 years I don't have a dog and it feels like I'm missing a limb or like there is a dog-shaped hole in my heart. 

It has been an adjustment, and I've been very mopey and listless and stuff (though, on the other hand, at least I finally vegged out enough to watch all of Once upon a time's Season 3 Back 9, which I had put off for ages). 

So, yeah that's why I've been quiet, and not much fun, I have lots of ideas of post I wanna write (like why I hate Frankenstein MD and on Green Gables Fables, and why I loved If I Stay), not to mention those Listmaniac posts I totally should have written by now,  but it's just not happening. 

I'm slowly muddling my way though some books, it's very hard for me to focus lately, sadly, and Rocco was the one that kept me company when I read late at night and now I have no Rocco, so it throws me off. 

Aside from that, Chrome is being very weird and full of pup ups, so right now I'm using Opera mainly, which is not ideal since every time I try to comment on Blogger, it eats up my replies until I give up and stop trying. Sorry about that. 

Now I think I'll go watch some MLP, maybe some Pinkie Pie will cheer me up. 

October 5, 2014

Book Review: What a Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden

At First Sight: Marcus Reece, Duke of Exeter has spent most of his life getting his brother David out of one scrape or another and, after the last one, he was forced to send David off to the countryside to rusticate a little while the whispers of scandal died down. 

Little did he know that, on his way to the family's home, David would get himself into an accident and met Hannah, a young widow who's vicar husband passed a few months before. Spending a month in Hannah's company, David starts to feel some affection for her, and really wants to help her and her young daughter (since they are being forced out of her husband's vicarage as a new vicar will be arriving soon). 

So he concocts a crazy plan that results on Hannah marrying Marcus, even though they had never met and neither is none too happy about the situation, yet they are forced to play the part of a happy couple for the benefit of his step mother and younger sister, who are just delighted that Marcus finally fell in love. 

Second Glance: I was surprised by how much I got into What a Gentleman Wants, the writing flowed so nicely and, even though the plot was on the crazy side, I found myself believing it because the characters were well done. 

Marcus and David are twins but have polar opposite personalities, there is a bit of resentment between them but, under that, a lot of affection. And it's this affection that makes David pull this elaborate prank. It's Marcus' affection for his sister and step mother what makes him pretend he totally meant to marry a vicar's widow, and it's love for her daughter that makes Hannah go along with the charade.

But in the middle of all those lies, some true feelings being to come to the surface.  

Bottom Line: Like I said, I really enjoyed the What a Gentleman Wants. I was really engrossed in it, even if it did require for me to make a few leaps of faith and logic to go along with the story. I grew to like the characters more and more as the story progressed and at the end I was rooting for them. 
starstarstarstar

Alex

October 3, 2014

Book Review: Love a Little Sideways by Shannon Stacey

At First Sight: Having spent most of her adult life living in Texas, Liz Kowalski has finally made the choice to return to her hometown in Maine to be closer to her brothers, all of whom are settling down and forming their families there or near by.

She's not exactly ready for the first person she runs into once she's back in town to be police Chief Drew Miller. Drew is her brother Mitch's best friend, he was always around growing up, and last time she was in town they slept together at her brother's wedding. Which both neglected to tell to Mitch.

It was supposed to be a one off- type of thing but with her now living in town (and driving his car, since she crashed hers on her way into town), they are constantly running into each other, and the chemistry that lead them to sleep together before is alive and well, even if the whole thing seems a bit hopeless, since Drew really wants to marry and have kids, like, yesterday; and Liz just got out of a long term relationship that led her nowhere and is now trying to figure out who she is and what she's meant to do.

Second Glance: I'm going to start by saying that I really enjoy Shannon Stacey's writing, I enjoy her style and her characters; but I had a few big problems with Love a Little Sideways. The biggest one was the lack of conflict: Drew and Liz are both well into their mid thirties yet they run scared from her brother like they are in high school.

Yes, Drew wants kids and marriage and Liz doesn't right now, but he wasn't a jerk about it or tried to get her pregnant or anything like that, they aren't even together that much on the page - as in they spend more time pinning after each other than as a couple. Yet Liz is always freaking out about how Drew wanted kids. He does, it was stablished in a previous book but he wasn't really pressuring her into getting pregnant tomorrow. 

So it really came across as a lack of conflict. Added to the fact that Liz kept wondering what she should do with her life like she was 18, or like being a career waitress wasn't good enough, not because she didn't like it or enjoy it or didn't make enough money, but because her brothers had gone to college and owned their own business.

And so she kept talking about being in Maine as if it was temporary, even though she wasn't sure she wanted to do anything else than what she was already doing. It came off as childish, something I have a hard time forgiving a thirty-something woman for when she's otherwise fairly capable.

Also, I like the other Kowalskis and it's nice to get a shout out here and there, but did I need a whole camping trip with the whole entire Kowalski family? No, I did not. Specially because it felt like a repeat of books past.

Bottom Line: Well, the writing is good but I think it might be time to say good by to the Kowalski clan. This could have been a perfectly lovely story with no conflict, which I would have preferred loads more to what I got which was a BLAND and silly conflict. 
starstar1/2
Alex

September 22, 2014

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

At First Sight: Ever since their first year at the American school in Paris, Isla has had a crush on Josh, but they never got much of a chance to talk or hang out as she was the quiet sort and he quickly fell into the cool crowd with kids that were in the grade above them.

Still, Isla kept track of him and knows what an amazing artist he is, and that he lived in New York (when not in Paris) same as her, but it was still a shock to run into him at a café near her house and not only because she was pretty high on some pain meds she had taken after a visit to the dentist.

Their unusual encounter, however, started to shift things between them, when they ran into each other again at school a few weeks later. Soon they were both running around Paris falling in love.

But they still had plenty to deal with, like Josh's father's political career that threatens to keep them apart (as his parents think he should date a 'certain' kind of girl if at all), and Isla's indecision about where to go to school the following year, and Josh's constant troubles with the school's administration.

Second Glance: I was never one of those people who went nuts over Stephanie Perkins' books, I grew to like Anna, I hated Lola, and I was half convinced that (Given the many delays) there was nothing Ms. Perkins could do to make Isla to make up for it.

But I think I was wrong. Isla and the Happily Ever After must be my favorite book by Ms. Perkins so far and I found it thoroughly delightful. I liked Isla a lot, from the start. She's awkward and shy and most of her socializing came in the form of her best friend Kurt who struggles with social situations even more than her. She's really good at school though and enjoys reading books about adventures -though she doesn't have many herself.

Josh was interesting too, he made many mistakes but was usually up to fixing them soon after, he tried for what he wanted and I found that likable. And he and Isla just worked together, they had the chemistry and the connection despite their many differences.

I also found Isla's uncertainty about her future very realistic and easy to connect with. I'm one of those people who was never sure what to study, and I found her fear about it very real. I liked her friendship with Kurt, and the fact that they really were just friends. I even liked that she was very open about sex and guys even if she was otherwise shy (she explained it beautifully).

I did have a few qualms, while the book felt true to what a couple of teenagers would do and think, there were some parts that were just too much, or that it felt like a couple of smart kids should have had an easier time figure out (mostly it had to do with their communication issues in the second half of the book). 

Bottom Line: Like I said, I really enjoyed Isla and the Happily Ever After, I even stayed up all night finishing it up. I enjoyed so much spending time with them, even when they screwed up, and I liked the cameos from past characters, those were fun and thankfully didn't overpower the story. 
starstarstarstar
Alex