December 31, 2011

It's my Birthday / Happy New Year! / Books Read in December


Actually, this is a pretty bad day for a birthday and I'm kind of sick but so far my day is going pretty good! 

Now, it's also New Year and I hope you gals and guys are having tons of fun!!! 

Now! To the recap!!


Sadly, Blogger decided to mess with me a couple of weeks ago and I loves my list of books read in 2011. That made me very sad so this is a rough approximation about the books I read based on the reviews written and the re-reads I remember. 

I already finished the Aussie YA Reading Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge and the Contemporary Challenge, the Historical Challenge and YA Reading Challenge!

Books read this month: 19
Books read so far: 194 (apox)
No clue on the final tally of Contemp, Historical or YA but as far as I remember my proportions were divided: 1/4 Historicals, 1/4 Contemps and 1/2 of YA.

And that's my month in books! I really wanted to reach the 200 mark this year but I don't think I did it. Sadly, I'll never know.

What say you?Alex

December 30, 2011

My Life According to the Books I Read in 2011


Hi guys! Over at The happily ever after, Christine put together this fun meme. Basically, you have to answer the following questions using titles of the book you've read this year - trying not to repeat yourself!

For more info, check out Christine's blog.  

Now, here are my answers:

Describe yourself: 
Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson

How do you feel: 
Head in the Clouds by Karen Whitemeyer

Describe where you currently live: 
Supernaturally by Kiesten White

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

Your favorite form of transportation:
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Your best friend is:
Artemis the Brave by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

You and your friends are:
Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

What's the weather like: 
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

What is life to you: 
What Can(t) Wait by Ashley Hope Perez

Favorite time of day: 
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crawley 

Your fear:
Abandon by Meg Cabot

What is the best advice you have to give: 
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Thought for the day:
Wish Upon a Star by Sarah Morgan

How I would like to die:

My soul's present condition: 
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn


December 29, 2011

Book Review: Home Sweet Home by Bella Riley

Home sweet home
At First Sight: For the last ten years, Andi has made a point of not returning to her home town of Emerald Lake. She left as an eighteen year old bound for college and then decided to pursue her city dreams.

Until a work project brings her back to Emerald Lake, to the yarn store her mother and grandmother run together and to the boy she left behind when he needed her the most.

In the last ten years, Nathan went from being a heartbroken boy having to take care of his baby sister Madison in the aftermath of his mother's death and his father's suicide, to becoming the Major of Emerald Lake.

Over all, Nathan has a great life and he doesn't spend his every waking moment thinking about his last meeting with Andi... until he sees her again and all the feelings that never really went away come back to the surface.

Second Glance: Home Sweet Home was a sweet read but, sadly, it was rather unremarkable. The characters were nice, I definitely liked Nathan and his sister a lot, but Andi took some warming up to - and I'm not sure I ever stopped feeling like she walked away when Nathan needed her the most and I couldn't understand how someone who was loved by her family kept herself so apart.

I liked the small-town folk, but I found them a bit standard, nothing more or less than I would expect from a book set in a small town, and none were really all that memorable.

The whole subplot about Andi's grandmother also made the story drag.

Bottom Line: I think that Home Sweet Home is a good enough "Small Town Romance" but doesn't really bring anything new or even fresh to the game. It's an okay read but I don't see myself going back to visit these characters again.

December 28, 2011

Book Review: Spring For Susannah by Catherine Richmond

At First Sight: Out of options, Susannah Underhill agreed to marry he reverend's brother Jesse Mason and move to his farm in the Dakota Territory. She isn't sure it will work out, if he will like her or if she will like him, she only knows she has no choice other than to go and start a new life.

Jesse does take a liking to Susannah, and quickly sets about wooing her, so they can make a home for themselves, slowly drawing Susannah out of her shyness and her bad memories, as she learns to free herself from the strict and sad notions of her former life. 

But life in Dakota is pretty isolated and they often see their closest neighbors and friends but once a week - and not at all during winter - making it a little hard for Susannah, a city girl, to adapt. 

Still, Jesse is relentless in his pursuit of her, and soon they find themselves failing in love, wanting to build a dream together. 

Second Glance: I had heard many good things about Spring for Suannah and I'm sad to say that, though I thought it was a good book, it wasn't all I expected. The story starts very well, with a very shy, shell-shocked Susannah arriving to her new home. I instantly took a liking to Jesse and once Susannah's past was revealed little by little I grew to like her too. 

There are quite a bit secondary characters and they very nice and mostly well rounded. And I really limed that Susannah was a rather capable veterinarian - her father was one and she learned from him, though she's not 'certified' she knows her stuff - that was a really nice twist. 

But I had two issues with the story: one, that this is one of those Christian Romances that lean heavily on the Christian - it's not prudish or anything but the Lord's name gets called pretty often, and to a point is understandable as a big part of the story is not only about them falling in love but about their trails of faith, but it did feel heavy handed at times. 

And secondly, the second half of the book: I was ready for the story to start wrapping up but then more stuff kept happening, and happening and happening, and the story started to drag. And then the ending felt rather rushed. 

Bottom Line: If you're looking specifically for a Christian Romance, I think this one is pretty good, though it drags a little toward the end. If you're leaning toward something more secular, then probably this one isn't for you. 

December 27, 2011

Book Review: Existence by Abbi Glines

At First Sight: Pagan Moore has been able to see the souls of the dead since she can remember and, knowing that there is little she can do for them, she usually ignores them until they go away and otherwise leads a fairly normal life in her small coastal town with her best friends.

That is until the day one of the "souls" speaks to her for the very first time. and then begins to somewhat stalk her, showing up at the least expected times to shake her a little. Not to mention that she has started to tutor Harbor High's resident hottie Lief. 

And when an argument with Lief ends up with Pagan leaving school upset and ultimately getting into an accident -something the "soul" tried to sort-of-warn her away from, Pagan realizes that there is a lot more to that soul than what she first thought. 

Suspicion that only grows when the "soul" shows up at her school in the guise of Dank Walker - lead singer of a famous band Pagan has never heard of - just as she has agreed to be Leif's girlfriend. 

Second Glance: Since it says it on the blurb of Existence, I won't feel bad for saying that it turns out Dank is actually Death itself and I have to say that he was the most interesting character of this story. More than Pagan, he's what kept me reading the story and I wished his character would have been explored since earlier on. 

Pagan herself, well, I had a small problem with how she's portrayed because it just seems like EVERYONE wants her, you know? and I was never sure why - well, you get a bit of an idea why toward the end of the story, but it's just an assumption. Lief was not a favorite of mine either, and that was another problem since he's the other end of this love triangle. 

And I also felt like the reveal of things was way too slow for the length of this book - it should have flown by but it didn't. Plus, from the ending it seems like the story isn't over yet, something that I wasn't expecting at all and confused me. 

I did like Pagan's two best friends who are easily the funniest thing about the book - the are an off-again/on-again couple who argue and tease each other often. 

Bottom Line: Existence is a decent read that sometimes reads a little like a fanfiction. But otherwise is fun and has a good pace. Dank is a great character that I can see a lot of people liking, I'm just not sure about Pagan. 

December 26, 2011

Book Review: A Tale of Two Proms by Cara Lockwood

Warning: this review might contain spoilers about the first three books of the Bard Academy Series

Tale of Two Proms
At First Sight: It's Miranda Tate's senior year and with prom looming at the horizon, she has to face the fact that her time at Bard Academy is coming to an end...which means her time with Heathcliff is also coming to an end as he's supposed to return to the pages of Wuthering Heights were he belongs. 

Only that he's not quite ready to go quietly, and soon Miranda is torn between the boy she loves and her future away from Shipwreck Island. And things get even more complicated when Heathcliff's first love - Cathy from Wuthering Heights - shows up, determined to take the choices away from them.

Second Glance: I realize that my summary of A Tale of Two Proms is shockingly short, but I really don't want to spoil things for anyone. But let me just say that I ADORED this book. Granted, I come from a place of love for this series and this author, but still, this is the book I have been waiting for, for years and years, and it answered all the lingering questions I had about this series. 

Do I still wish there was more? Sure, but at least now I've gotten some closure. 

The story itself is full of adventures and as I was reading it I kept developing theories about what was going on and it turned out I was always a little right but not entirely, which I loved because things still took me by surprise - though I gotta said I did see one of the final twists coming but I didn't care. 

Everything I've always loved about Bard Academy was still there: the literary references, the funny dialog and slightly over-the-top situations. I loved reading about Samir and Blade and Hanna and Ryan and even Miranda's sister Lyndsay (I even liked her a little).

Bottom Line: A Tale of Two Proms is possibly the last book of the Bard Academy Series and I think that it did it justice, over all. I'm not sure I'm quite ready to part with this series but as things stand, I love it. And I'm so happy I got to read this book.

Favorite Quote: "This was Bard, where the impossible wasn't just possible, it was probable."

starstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

December 23, 2011

Best of 2011

Hey guys! Over at Inkcrush, Nomes has been running a survey all week about the best books of 2011. Since her survey is massive and I was sort of booked for the week, I decided to do a condensed version of it all and picked five questions of each category.

And her we go:

Favorite book of 2011
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta - because I loved seeing the Finch-Mackee family rebuild itself after having imploded. And I loved finally getting to know Tom Mackee a bit better.
Good Oil by Laura Buzo - This is such an honest book about how hard is to grow up whether you're 15 or 21. Amelia is such a lovely girl, and Chris is a bit of a jerk but so unflinchingly honest about himself that I couldn't help liking him.
Where She Went by Gayle Foreman - I usually don't read books with a male narrator, maybe because I don't think I'll relate, but I felt Adam's loss and his pain and his love.

Best Ache-y, Heart-Breaking, Tear-jerking read
If I Stay/Where She Went - The story of Adam and Mia touched me in many ways, and it also felt very real. The bad things that happened weren't The Obvious for Obvious Reasons, so it made it all the more painful.

Delicious Rainy Day Comfort Read
Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer - It's a story that it's fun and cute, and a sweet old fashioned romance in the very best sense of the world. It makes me happy to read this book.

Series I'm Loving. 
Paranormlacy by Kiesten White - Because Evie is made of Awesome
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins - Because Sophie is kick butt, Archer is hot and I LOVE Cal.
The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade - Because Will and Alona are such a opposites-attract but it works couple. And Alona is such snarkily fun.
Princess for Hire by Lindsay Leavitt - Because I love Desi, and her adventures and how she finds herself when she pretends to be others.

Had No Idea I Would Love This So
The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan - More chick-lit than romance, I loved seeing these people read their normal lives and their every day problems and the way they solved them.
The Ghost and the Goth - when I saw the cover I thought it was cute but nothing else. Well, it turns out there is a lot more to the story than that.
The False Princess by Eillis O'Neal - I'm not a Fantasy girl, but I loved Sinda who has to go through rough adjustments but still goes out there on an epic adventure, saves the day and gets the guy.

Best Couple
Adam and Mia from If I Stay/Where She Went - because their love story rang so true, and their happiness was such hard-won.
Tom and Tara from The Piper's Son - A large part of the book is about Tom finding his way back home, and Tara is in many ways a symbol of that. They aren't together for most of the book, but in my mind there is no doubt they are a couple.

Who I So Want To Be Friends with
Libby and Deb (boy) from Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink - They are Best Friends themselves and they so made me want to get in with them. Deb loves all things fashion, and Libby all things history, romance and BBC. Match made in heaven.

Best YA parents
Kat and Denny in If I Stay/Where She Went - Cool, quirky parents that loved their children, loved each other and were rock and roll even after they grew up.

Favorite Sibling Relationship
Anabel and Tom from The Piper's Son - These two are mad about each other, they love and tease each other and Anabel is the one thing that never sucks in Tom's life, even at his worse, Anabel is his ray of goodness. See what he thinks of his sister:
"She's beautiful and, God, he loves the fact that she still wears a ponytail and looks like a kid her age. She's running to him and there is nothing graceful about Anabel because the Finch women aren't really that graceful. They're just beautiful and smart and fierce and ridiculously uncool."
Who I fell completely In love with
Marcus from Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn - Most people see him as this aloof, arrogant guy but the truth is he doesn't know how to flirt, he's shy, has secret love for all things dessert and is fiercely loyal to those he loves.
Cal from Demonglass - I have a tendency to root for the guy who never gets the girl but Cal is honest and good and hot. Yeah, I totally go for that.

Best First Chapter 
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn - Not so much the first chapter as the Prologue of the book, is so lovely, about how Marcus gets introduced to the infamous Smythe-Smith clan. Loved it.
The Reluctant Heiress - The prologue and the first chapter are AWESOME there is Vienna and it's lovely. Then the heroine shows up and the book goes to hell. But the beginning is lovely.

Best Plot Twist/Revelation
The Royal Treatment by Lindsay Leavitt - I had a serious OMG moment during this book, actually a couple of them.
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta - I'm so not spoiling of course but I can't wait for the  next book! It just left me hanging int he most awesomely awful way.

Heart-breaking-tear-jerking moment
Froi of the Exiles, there is this part where I CRIED and CRIED and then CRIED SOME MORE. Like majorly.
Where She Went, when Adam sort of gives up: "This whole night was has been a mistake. It's not going to let me rewind. Or unmake the mistakes I've made. Or the promises I've made. Or have her back. Or have me back."

Best Swoon Worthy Moment
Adam when he tells to Mia (in Where She Went): "You dumbass. You don't share me. You own me." 
Tom and Tara in The Piper's Son: 
“I spilt my guts out all over the arrival lounge at Sydney’s domestic airport, Tara. It’s as bloody romantic as you’ll ever get from me. Where are you?”
“At a public phone in arrivals. I’ve run out of credit. I used my reprimanding voice and told my parents and Frankie and Justine that they couldn’t come near me for the next five minutes. I can see the four of them from here. They’re talking about me. They have a look of fear on their face. Even my parents, who created me, are afraid. I see that look on a lot of people’s faces when they see me, Tom. Never yours.”
“I keep it hidden, but it’s there. Believe me, you frighten me to death, but for different reasons.”
Favorite Meet Cute
Libby and Garret in Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink - he fishes her out of a barrel. :P

Fave Book Title
What Can(t) Wait - I loved the touch with the ( ) because it's both mathematical and technically correct.
Good Oil - Because it doesn't hint at what the story is about but it surprisingly has to do with it.
Dreams of Significant Girls - Book was not for me but I really liked this title.

Fave Reading Experience 
The Piper's Son -reading a book by Melina is always an experience and I loved this. It broke my heart and little by little put it back together. It made me laugh seconds after I had been crying.

Lived Up to the Hype
The Piper's Son, it's so good it hurts.

Killer Cliffhanger
Froi of the Exiles - I screamed about three different times when I was reading the epilogue.
The Royal Treatment - I know that, for sure, I screamed two times during the last leg of this book.

Can't Believe I waited This Long to Read
Friday's Child - such a classic, and I put it it off until this year.
If I Stay - I had owned the book for almost a year before I read it. I'm bad. I know
North of Beautiful - See above.

Favorite Covers of Books Read in 2011
Lonely Hearts Club: A Twist on a classic // Dreams: There is such a sense of possibility about this cover. 

Supernaturally: Evie in an awesome dress! // Good Oil: I've always loved this cover
Kat: Had to put it in full
Special Mention to the Ghost and the Goth covers! Love them.

Sorry there are not active links, but blogger has been messing with me lately and I don't wanna risk it!

December 22, 2011

Book Review: Addison Blakely: Confessions of A PK by Betsy St. Amant

At First Sight: Addison lives the life expected of a small-town Preacher's Kid: she has good grades, is liked by all her teachers and is generally friendly with people - even if her relationship with best friend Claire is currently on a rocky patch. And if she has had to learn to be a little more self-reliant at home because her mom died when she was young and her dad works a lot, she's generally doing fine. 

The only thing that shakes her is her attraction to Wes, the newly transplanted bad boy whom one moment seems to like her and the next is making out with some girl in front of Addison's house. But, as it turns out, there are lots of layers to Wes - and to Addison as well.

Some of those layers begin to be peeled back when Addison is unwittingly put in charge of the fun-raiser attached to this year's high school talent show, putting her in a conflicting path with Claire, and in the path of friendship with exchange student Marta who encourages Addison to be more of herself and not just the local PK. 

Second Glance: Over all, Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK was a good read. There were parts of it that I really liked, like Addison trying to find out who she is asides from her father's daughter, and her friendship with Marta. I also liked the sub-plot about Addison's dad and someone else (I don't want to say whom, in case it's too spoilery for some).

And I also liked Addison and Wes when they were alone, they have some good chemistry between them, even though it did take me a while to see Wes' appeal. 

The portrayal of how Addison's friendship with Claire starts to implode was well done. And I actually liked Marta a lot though she had a tendency to sound very formal and older than her supposed 16 years. 

Bottom Line: For me, Addison Blakely had it's hits and it's misses though for the most part it was an enjoyable book with nice characters and an interesting situation. Though it is Christian Fiction, I didn't feel like it was being shoved down my throat. Plus it had some moments of true fun.

Favorite Quote:“Just call me glutton for punishment,” I muttered to my mocha. “And don’t worry, it’s not your fault you can’t cheer me up today. Some issues even chocolate can’t touch.”

“Addison, if you don’t quit talking to your coffee, I’m not giving you double shots anymore,” Bert called from the counter, where he wiped down the display case with a rag.

“Can’t a girl have a bad day?” I held up my mug. “Besides, where are my sprinkles?”

“I told you I ran out yesterday.” 

“And I told you that wasn’t acceptable.”

December 21, 2011

Book Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June
The Deal: Following the suicide of her perfect older sister June, Harper is left feeling numb and unable to cry or make sense of what happened to June to make her do what she did. With her mother drinking more than she should and her aunt moving in, Harper just wants to make a break from it all and maybe find answers about June.

And when her parents decide they are going to split June's ashes, Harper decides she has had enough, so she convinces her best friend Laney to drive across the country with her, all the way to California to scatter her ashes there.

California was June's golden dream and Haper feels like she owes her sister going there, even if that means letting Jake Tolan tag along. Jake knew June during her last few months of life, as she tutored him at school and, according to Jake, she was the first person to ever believe or expect something from him, so her death shook him hard.

So, Jake, Laney and Harper set out to California, to finally take June to the place of her dreams.

My Thoughts: Saving June was an interesting experience. I started it about three times before I could read it through as I found the beginning of the book a little slow and I got easily distracted. But once the book hit it's stride it was a lot better as I really enjoyed following Laney, Harper and Jake going on a road trip.

But I found the reveal of things to be very slow, and I didn't actually like Harper much in the beginning, particularly after she acknowledges that a lot of what she is is because she made a point of being the opposite of June.

But I liked Laney and Jake - even if I wished his character would have been explored more from the start, and I really liked that his relationship with June wasn't the obvious one. - and the whole road trip experience.

All in all, I thought it was well written and interesting, but I don't see myself re-reading it any time soon as I tend to like more lighthearted reads.

Favorite Quote: "The best thing about her is that she thinks I'm awesome, too. It's harder than you think, to find someone who truly believes in your unequivocal, unconditional awesomeness, especially when you're like me: unspectacular in every way." 

December 20, 2011

Tune in Tuesday (19) - Only A Fool by Marit Larsen

Tune In Tuesdays

 This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads and music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.

Recently, I've become obsessed with this song, it has such a great beat. And it sort of reminds me a little of the whole Conrad-Belly-Jeremiah situation in The Summer Series by Jenny Han.

So, check it out: Only a Fool

I wanted to put a concert version but none of them were clear enough, so I put this live performance instead.

So, what song plays for you?

December 19, 2011

Book Review: Just A Little White Lie by Lynnette Hallberg

White Lie
At First Sight: Lucinda Darling just ran out of her wedding after finding her fiance having sex with his ex at the church, deciding it's time she took some time for herself away from her parents expectations of her and definitely away from her fiance. So, still wearing her wedding dress, she hops into her car, intent on getting away but not sure where she'll go. 

On the other hand, Jake Parker was heading home to Georgia after a year spent away from his family, helping the victims of the oil spill in the gulf. He was happy staying away but the news that his grandmother is sick and that her fondest wish is to see him settled down with a nice girl, sent him racing back home, while trying to figure out how he's going to produce the nice girl part of the equation.

And so, when he sees Lucinda standing by the side of the road, still wearing her wedding dress, Jake rather thinks it's all a sign. So he quickly enlists her reluctant help in pretending to be his girlfriend for the next week or so. 

Only that things get more complicated once they reach his hometown thanks to some interfering parents, a couple of exes who just won't go away and the fact that Jake and Lucy are falling in love with each other. 

Second Glance: Just a Little White Lie was a rather nice, sweet read. Pretty quick too. It has a nice pace and likable characters. And overall, I would say that I liked a fair bit but it was a bit rushed, mostly toward the end.

I liked the characters, particularly Jake because Lucinda did annoyed me for a while there. Also, Jake's dad was annoying and his motives never fully explained. And I also wished there was more about these couple of characters that are mentioned get some page time but we are ultimately left in the dark about what happened to them - like Jake's sister and her husband, and this other waitress Lucinda helps out. 

Bottom Line: I think this is one of those books that would have benefited from being a little longer, but as things are is still a quick, funny read, perfect if you're in the mood for something lighthearted and fast.