When Good Covers Get Wasted on Not-so-Good Books

February 13, 2012 Cover Talk, Discussion 9

So, this post is a companion to my earlier post, When Good Books Get Lost Behind Not-so-Good Covers. Have you ever been walking through a book store, stopped dead in your tracks, and drooled a little over the latest eye candy on the book displays? Have you ever bought a book without even caring what it’s about, just because the cover is drop-dead amazing? Have you ever gone home and read that book, and then thrown it against the wall because its was a major disappointment? I have! This post is dedicated to all those books I didn’t necessarily hate, but had higher hopes for because of their deceptive book covers.

 

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto – This cover is gorgeous. GORGEOUS, I tell you! *Sigh* Just read my review.

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble – I love the typography and the swish ornamentation. The book was just weird, though. I love Anastasia, but I did not like this author’s take on it. I don’t even wish to read the sequel. :(

Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess by Jerramy Fine – Look how adorable that cover is! I read this because of that cover. I just didn’t love the story, though. I reviewed it at The Broke and The Bookish, if you’re interested in seeing what I thought.

Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler – This book was CREEPY, but look at the glorious, ominous vector imagery on that cover! Blast! Really, the book was just weird. This guy is “not of this world” and he stalks her… walking down a snowy lanes, and not talking… and they make a point of saying that she sees him naked and he has no male body parts! I mean… WEIRD. Why do we care? I bought this for the cover, and did not consult my fellow Goodreaders. My mistake. *shudder*

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black – PEOPLE. This book is sparkly! Like, those dots are actually shiny foil dots! And her skin is impeccable. I wanted to love this SO bad, but the sequels have come out and I have no desire to read them… The plot was weak, with everything happening over and over again. It was so lack-luster that I didn’t even review it. It was just “meh.”

Sailing to Capri by Elizabeth Adler – Ahhhhh…. Italy. Yacht. Yum. I want to go there. But it was kind of boring with not much of a story line, just a list of characters. No suspense. No real substance. Grar.

Caribbean Cruising by Rachel Hawthorne – Darling cover, and I SO wanted to love it! I read this while on a cruise, though, and the book is SO WRONG (nobody her age would be allowed to have her own cabin, for one thing.). And all the girl wanted was to lose her virginity. That’s all she talked about the whole time! Read my review.

Seduction by Brenda Joyce – That cover looks so romantic! But no, the romance in this book takes a backseat to the politics surrounding the French Revolution. I was so bored!

A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans – I didn’t even finish this one… So much swearing and crap going on. I couldn’t take it any longer! But how cute is that cover? I want to play in the fountain with an umbrella! And the title?? I thought for sure I’d love it, but I was so disappointed. Drat!

Home in Time for Christmas by Heather Graham – This cover is my idea of the perfect Christmas scene! I want to jump in that cover and live there forever!!!!! The book was just ok…I mean, I liked it. I just wanted it to live up to the cover. You know how it is.

Ok, guys… Which covers have deceived you? I need to know where the wolves in sheeps’ clothing are hiding! I don’t want to be fooled again. And if you loved any of these stories, don’t be upset at me! I still think you’re cool. :)

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Caribbean Crusing by Rachel Hawthorne (Mini Book Review)

February 11, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 5 ½

Caribbean Crusing by Rachel Hawthorne (Mini Book Review)Caribbean Crusing by Rachel Hawthorne
Published by HarperTEEN on April 15, 2004
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0.5 Stars
The perfect summer story of a girl, several boys, and a cruise ship full of possibilities.

Lindsay has never been on a cruise, but she knows exactly what she wants to do now that she is: climb a waterfall, snorkel, meet lots of cute guys, and look for one perfect guy for a summer fling.

But her to-do list isn't going according to plan, especially when she discovers that it's impossible to have a fling-when you're actually falling in love.

About a week before I was leaving on a cruise, I ran into the bookstore hoping to find cruise books. I love reading books that sync with a vacation I’m on. I found this in the young adult section, and thought it sounded like a cute read for my upcoming week of floating around in the Caribbean.

However… I was annoyed by this storyline. This girl is on an amazing trip, and do you want to know what she’s most concerned with? Losing her virginity. Yes. That’s her main focus. Does anyone else agree that this is poor subject matter to center a book around? There was no plot other than Lindsay’s frustration with being a virgin. Still. Because at 18, surely she should have slept with numerous guys, right? That’s what high schoolers do, right? Every guy she meets makes her think, “Oh! I could sleep with him… Better be nice!” And I can’t tell you how many “hot body” descriptions I read. I was nauseated. I find it rather frustrating that such a book was written, and then placed in the young adult section. This is where 12-year-olds are instructed to buy books from. Is this seriously a lesson they should be taught? And not only was she looking for sex, she was looking for it with no strings attached. A fling. Seriously? Shallow! And of course she couldn’t see a love interest if he smacked her over the head. So she was shallow and dumb. Lovely. I see no reason why she should be someone a teenage girl should look up to.

When I wasn’t downright annoyed at this book, I was bored. I’ve been on cruises. MANY. There is SO much more to write about than this. I can list countless numbers of interesting cruise ship plots. This one just made me want to throw it overboard. Since I don’t litter I didn’t, plus I would have hated for a cute sea creature to suffer as a result of my frustration. I really can’t say I’d recommend this to anyone.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll (Book Review)

February 7, 2012 Adult Fiction, Book Review 8 ★★★★★

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll (Book Review)Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll
Series: Black Swan Rising #1
Published by Tor Books on August 3, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 396
Format: Paperback
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is about to be turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, commissions her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money. Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to her by her deceased mother. Garet can’t believe her luck and this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening. . . .

That evening, the precious silver box is stolen. When Garet begins to investigate, she learns that she has been pulled into a prophecy that is hundreds of years old, and opening the box has unleashed an evil force onto the streets of Manhattan and the world at large. Gradually, Garet pieces together her true identity—one that her deceased mother desperately tried to protect her from. Generations of women in Garet’s family, including her beloved mother, suffered and died at the hands of this prevailing evil. Does Garet possess the power to reclaim the box and defeat this devastating force?

On her journey, she will meet the fey folk who walk unnoticed among humans and a sexy vampire who also happens to be a hedge fund manager that she can’t stop thinking about. But the fairies reveal a desire to overpower mere humans and the seductive vampire has the power to steal the life from her body. Whom can Garet trust to guide her? Using her newfound powers and sharp wit, Garet will muster everything she’s got to shut down the evil taking over her friends, family, New York City, and the world.

This book was rich with beautiful literary writing, dynamic characters, and a complex plot. “Lee Carroll” is a collaboration between award-winning mystery novelist Carol Goodman and her poet and hedge fund manager husband, Lee Slominsky. I loved the integration of mystery, intrigue, poetic writing, and exquisite descriptions. These two make an awesome team, and I hope they continue to write novels together in the future.

This was right up my alley! I started reading it as soon as I could, and I was sold by the end of the first page. As I said, and will probably say again, the writing is lovely!

The story takes place in present-day NYC with elements of history, the arts, and Shakespeare. I really liked the main character, Garet, which stands for Margaret (named after her mother Marguerite—which is an important detail). She’s courageous, spunky, and has a good head on her shoulders. She has to go through a lot in this book, seeing as how evil is slowly escaping and seeping into everyday life. At the very beginning of the book, her father gets shot and some valuable artwork is stolen from their business. An investigator comes and believes her father staged the whole robbery and shot himself. This storyline is an underlying part of the entire rest of the story, and has Garet deeply troubled. The evil influences, which come in the form of fog and feelings, weigh heavily on her friends and her father… even the world around her. The evil actually coaxes someone into trying to commit suicide. Garet is the only one who knows why all of this is happening, but she doesn’t sit and complain about it like some heroines do. Instead, she follows in the footsteps of the women she descended from, in order to try and defeat this evil. Through it all, she has this wonderful sense of humor! It helps that she has sidekicks along the way, particularly a small fairy and a sexy vampire. Boy, does this book make him sound amazing! He swoops in and protects her when she needs him (even though he’s forbidden), which makes you want a vampire of your very own.

The authors put a totally different spin on vampires, and it’s really a tiny, tiny part of the story. Even though this vampire is a romantic interest, the romance is almost non-existent. The main focus is on Garet’s discovery of this new world, and what she plans to do about it. Along with the fey and the vampire, she encounters an alchemist, a dragon, a water goddess, and some other interesting people that are not who they appear to be. She experiences so many different things, goes through every emotion, and flip-flops between who to trust and who to steer clear of. It’s a crazy web of events and feelings, but it was written in a way that was not at all confusing.

I really love that we are kept guessing throughout the entire book. I didn’t know what was going on until Garet did. I found myself questioning every character right along with her. Is this guy on my side? Should I be worried about this? What’s going to happen next? I had no idea how the ending would work out. I was shocked every time she was. I trusted the same people she did. It’s like I was doing the thinking for her. That was refreshing, as many mysteries can be easily solved before the book is over.

The only complaint I had was that Garet’s father and close friends slowly slipped into the background. I guess when you’re one woman fighting off the evils of the world, while being sought out by Mr. Evil himself, and befriending a romantic vampire you don’t have much time for family! However… the characters were likeable, so I wish I got to learn more about them.

If you love a good urban fantasy, a strong heroine, a little mystery, evil lurking around every corner, amazing and beautiful writing (see, I told you I’d mention it again), detailed descriptions, a smidge of romance, a dash of action, and a hint of Shakespeare, then I think you’ll love this book! I’m really excited to start on the sequel, The Watchtower.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (Book Review)

February 5, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 7 ★★★★

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (Book Review)Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #1
Published by Mira on November 18, 2008
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 405
Source: Birthday present
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Choose: A quick death… Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...

Much like Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, I was really worried about this book. I don’t usually like books where the main character(s) are violently mistreated. In both instances, I read the back of each book and skeptically thought, “Who on Earth could enjoy such a violent and tragic storyline?”  However, I’d heard AMAZING things from friends and fellow book-a-holics that I trusted. I loved The Hunger Games, so I dove right into this book with the same expectations.  I loved this one too!

Yelena lives in the land of Ixia. She has been convicted of murder, and is therefore sentenced to death by hanging. While lying in her dark, grimy, rat-infested dungeon cell she awaits the noose made especially for her. After living in that cell for just under a year, a guard comes and scrapes her emaciated body off the floor and takes her away. She can only assume it’s her turn to die. However, she is presented with a way to live—a new life. There’s a catch, though. If she’s going to live, she has to do it as a servant in the Commander’s home as his food taster. The previous food taster has died, and since the favorable method of assassination is by poison, the commander needs a new food taster immediately. The code states that the next person in line for the noose has to be offered the position. She accepts, thinking that surely there will be opportunity for escape in the future. Valek, her new handler, takes her through an extensive training curriculum, even poisoning her in the process. She comes through with a complete knowledge of all the poisons and begins her job.

Brazell, the father of the man Yelena murdered wants her dead. Her life becomes an obsession of his and she has to fight him and his guards off along the way. Not only is he after her, but so are some of the other servants she lives with. On top of that, someone has noticed some special powers she possesses and insists on either killing her or training her. If she does not learn to control these powers, she could cause major trouble for not only herself, but the world she lives in. This makes life difficult, obviously, and Valek, takes her into his suite so he can protect her. Along with Valek, she finds a few friends in the castle who help her and teach her new things.

When a conspiracy arises against the Commander, Yelena is forced into the middle of all of it. She has to face the man who drove her to kill, the demons of her past, and the man who just might ruin her future. She also has to quickly discover her true potential in order to help protect those she is bound to by vow and bound to by love. Throw in a ton of suspenseful scenes, some menacing characters, and a love interest or two, Yelena is in for a bumpy ride on the road to self-discovery, love, loyalty, and friendship.

I really enjoyed the unique storyline and cast of characters. Yelena is so spunky. You’d think that with the crappy past she had and the dismal life she ends up surrendering to, she’d be all whiny and woe-is-me all the time. She’s a fighter!  She takes no crap and she kicks butt a few times! It’s really entertaining and refreshing to see such a strong female character. Here’s this skinny, weak little thing fighting off some of the strongest and most evil people ever. There’s a few lessons I think I need to learn from her. I loved Valek from the beginning. He’s got that hardened, cold, stand-offish persona but you just know there’s a teddy bear in there somewhere. That kind of man is very appealing and you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read about a man like him. The other characters were also likable. Really, the only ones I did not like were the villains (go figure). The storyline was so unique to me that it really pulled me in. I was constantly turning pages wondering how the author would treat the subject matter. It took me way too long to read, since I was on vacation, but it kept calling to me from my carry-on bag or my suitcase. 

I could not give the book 5 stars, just because I really hated how horrible some of the people in this book were treated. I had a hard time hearing about the sad life of Yelena, as well as the people from her past. I loved the suspense, the little bit of romance, and the unique storyline.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Coliloquy Titles On Sale Through February!

February 4, 2012 Bookish Deals 3

Hi again! So, I’m sure you’ve heard about the digital publishing company, Coliloquy, that publishes “active fiction” for Amazon Kindle. They are like choose-your-own mystery books! For the month of February, they are all on sale for $1.99 (usually priced around $5-$7) on Amazon. I just bought Getting Dumped and Witch’s Brew, and thought you might like to see check them out as well. Here they are! I’ve included the summaries below.

Dead Letter Office:
When Celia’s father is killed in Afghanistan, she moves with her mother to New Orleans, the city where her father grew up. Struggling to adjust and haunted by troubling dreams, Celia finds comfort in new friends like Tilly, a practicing witch, and Donovan, the son of police detective. On Halloween, bizarre supernatural occurrences rock the city. Celia meets the mysterious Luc and finds a letter, over a hundred years old, addressed to her.

The paranormal repercussions continue when Celia learns that Luc is the restless spirit of a young man murdered in 1854, only able to assume solid form at night. And then, to her shock, Celia finds that the letter, which describes the suspected murder of a man in 1870, contains uncanny parallels to the present-day death of Abel Sims, a homeless veteran.

With help from Luc, Tilly, and Donovan, Celia races to solve the murder—and the mystery of the letter—using both magical and forensic clues. 

Kira has written Parish Mail like a TV series–there are over-arching mystery and romantic story arcs that extend between the episodes, while each episode has a smaller case that is presented and solved. Along the way, she asks you, the reader, to make several small decisions as you read. These choices do not impact the overarching storyline, but certain combinations “unlock” clues to the series’ mystery, which are embedded in the text. Kira also asks you to cast a vote at the end of the episode, to get additional feedback from her fans about their preferred love interests in future episodes.

Getting Dumped:
Losing a cushy marketing job only to end up driving heavy equipment at the landfill would be a tough blow for most women.

But JJ Schultz isn’t most women, so she gamely swaps office politics and dry cleaning bills for a chance to crush garbage with a 150,000 pound machine. As it turns out, she doesn’t miss her old life too much…though her love life was sure a lot simpler when she didn’t wear a hardhat every day. Between her hot new co-workers and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, JJ has her hands full.

The drama kicks into high gear when JJ and her sister, Lori, find evidence of a counterfeit handbag operation – something local police deem only slightly more urgent than collecting fruit flies. JJ soon finds herself unraveling a sinister plot in the company of a tie-tugging accountant, a straight-to-video action hero turned secretary, a suspicious but sneaky-hot engineer, and a host of other characters with questionable hygiene and morals.  

In Getting Dumped, Tawna gives you one very simple choice point: Which guy should JJ call? Depending on your choice, you’ll get to know one of the guys a bit more intimately. Don’t be afraid to read all three versions–it’s for JJ’s own good, after all! And of course, feel free to re-read YOUR favorite over and over again. Tawna still isn’t sure who JJ should end up with, so she’s eager to see who her readers prefer. She sees the aggregate statistics on who gets picked the most, so the more you read, the more you influence what she writes.

Witch’s Brew:
The Spellspinners of Melas County is a fantasy YA romance series about a witch, a warlock, and their fight for their forbidden but prophesied love.

Once soulmates, the witch and warlock covens of the California coast have been estranged for a century. Raised to hate each other, their teenagers meet in the Solstice Stones, a magical battleground where they draw energy from each other to maintain their balance. 16 year olds Logan and Lily have spent years training for their first Stones…only to discover just days before that the enemy may not be what either of them had thought.

In Witch’s Brew, Lily is torn between her feelings for Logan and her coven’s need to know who—or what—he is. The young lovers race against time, their distrust for each other, and the powerful influence of their elders to unravel the mystery of their pasts before their future is destroyed.

In Witch’s Brew, Lily and Logan’s fate is already decided, but Heidi explores several different possible pathways for how they get there. She shares scenes that wouldn’t normally fit in a book format and gives readers more precious moments between the two young lovers. As the series progresses, you’ll see some normal narrative forms, interspersed with smaller scenes, alternate points of view, and a lot of “what if” scenarios.

Arcania:
In Arcania Trial By Fire, your input influences what happens to Adia, a young sorceress. Born without arcania in her blood, Adia has lived in the shadow of her magical twin, until the day she inherits her sister’s spellcasting talents. As she leaves for the training academy, there are plenty of people to show her the ropes: Grey, the darkly passionate top shield, Seger, a swashbuckling rogue with a talent for daggers, and Finola, a clever and empathic healer. With a battle heating up, Adia must learn to master her magic and earn a spot on a fighting team before the ancient war between the forces of magic destroys her loved ones on Earth. The author sees the aggregate statistics on what option gets picked the most, so the more you read, the more you influence what she writes! 

(According to the Goodreads descriptions, “Active fiction” is a new type of e-reading experience that allows the reader and the author to interact with each other and the text in new and different ways.)

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Matched by Ally Condie (Book Review)

February 3, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★★

Matched by Ally Condie (Book Review)Matched by Ally Condie
Series: Matched #1
Published by Speak on November 30, 20120
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 366
Format: Hardcover
Source: Christmas Present
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

I read this book right when it came out (and reviewed it at The Broke and The Bookish), but have decided to post my review of it on here as well because I’ll be reading and reviewing the sequel, Crossed, as soon as I possibly can! This is a wonderful dystopian book, that really made me think. The people of this world live in a time where everything they do is governed and decided by the Officials of the Society. People are matched up with their spouse, their job, their extra-curricular activities, and even the day they will die. All the literature, music, and art have been paired down to the best 100 pieces of each. The Officials have destroyed everything else. The people are not allowed to write. Everything they do is monitored—even their dreams are recorded. They are only allowed to exercise a certain amount. If they go over that time, or do it too vigorously, they are marked as a person with body image issues. They are only allowed to eat a certain amount of food, which is delivered to them three times a day. Pills control their emotions. Their possessions are regulated. What kind of life would that be? What purpose do the humans even serve anymore? If they go against the rules, they are marked and are no longer a respected part of society. They are pulled out of the Matching Pool, no longer allowed to be married, and are given menial jobs that lead to an early death. Choices are against the law. This is the world Cassia lives in, only she’s not happy about it.

The Officials messed up. A glitch in the system showed Cassia the corruption behind the decisions these Officials made, and now she’s rebelling—hoping that she can somehow beat the system. Sure, the guy chosen for her might be the most ideal, most compatible, and most practical Match for her, but what about the one she’s fallen in love with? Love doesn’t matter anymore.  What if she doesn’t want the job they assigned her? Too bad. She can’t even choose the clothes she wears. The only time she was ever even allowed to wear a color was for her Matching Banquet, where she was assigned a mate while wearing her beautiful green dress (hence the symbolic book cover image of a girl in a green dress, trapped in a glass ball of dictatorship)—a green dress she chose from a catalog of approved choices. Of course, she could not keep this dress. She was sent a small piece of the dress fabric mounted between two pieces of glass after the Banquet was over.  This is the control these Officials have. The people are being drugged to forget things. They are all lost in a world of conformity. They are being brainwashed into thinking this is all ok. Cassia finds a person who remembers the past. He has access to old “destroyed” writings. He knows how to write. He knows the history of humankind, and it’s a whole lot better than what they’re going through now. The more Cassia rebels and learns about the past, the more corruption she notices. She’s also falling deeper and deeper in love—with the wrong person. She’s going to do something about it. She’s going to change her destiny.

I really loved this book. Many of the passages are extremely poetic, and somewhat lyrical. The descriptions of the scenery make you feel as though you were there. The emotions and feelings are easy to understand. The situations are easy to relate to. The characters are real people. I connected so well to the entire storyline. Cassia is a great heroine. She is not the rule-breaking rebel to the extent of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, but this IS only book one. We might see more rebellion in the future books. She was weak in the beginning, but learned more as the book went on. She grew a backbone! I liked her character development. I really enjoyed the love triangle, which I think ultimately symbolizes rebellion vs. submission. She was told to do one thing, but really wanted the forbidden. It’s a relatable dilemma on many levels. I enjoyed the relationship she had with each of the two boys in this triangle. One was very sweet and innocent—two childhood friends realizing they’re going to get married and exploring the new feelings the Society says they should be developing. The other one was forbidden but equally, if not more, sweet. They snuck around and tried to stifle the underlying tension of wanting, but not being allowed to have. I love this relationship more than the other. It seems more real to me. There could have been a bit more chemistry between them, but I understand that it had to be very hidden in order to protect both of them. With the rebellion I expect to see in the coming books, I expect to see more chemistry as well. All in all, this was a great book, and I really enjoyed it!

Discussion: I love a book that makes me think. At the very beginning I enjoyed the idea of being matched with my ideal man. I wouldn’t have to date a bunch of jerks to find him. He’d just be delivered to me, and we wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not it was going to work out. I would have never been dumped, and I wouldn’t have had to dump anyone! Wonderful! But… then I thought about the what-ifs. What if I fell in love with the wrong person? What if I did not love the guy I was paired with? Then the what-ifs started spiraling out to encompass everything. Part of the wonderfulness of life is that we CAN choose who we marry, what we do for a job, what we read, what we listen to, what we eat, when we eat, what we wear, etc. I think life would be pointless without decisions. It made me grateful for the life I have. Next time a really crummy date goes down in flames, I’ll remind myself that at least I had the opportunity to choose! Haha. So tell me. What do you think about Cassia’s world? Would you enjoy having your entire life planned out for you, or would you fight back too?

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon!

February 2, 2012 Uncategorized 3

February just so happens to be a pretty lovey dovey month. Red roses, pink hearts, chocolate kisses, love letters, and candy grams. Why not spread the love this month to all the amazing book bloggers who introduced you to your new favorite book, who don’t think you’re weird for squeeing over the release date announcement of the next coveted novel (and probably pre-ordered it before you did), who re-tweet all your bookish news, who cry with you over fictional characters (and tragedies and romances), who mailed you their ARC copy of a book they knew you were dying to read, who have your back during times of drama (because we all know the book world is filled with it!), and who celebrate all your milestones with you (both in your personal life and your blogging life)? We’re members of a pretty awesome community, you and I! I’ve not been blogging for very long, but have already made some amazing friends. Bonding over books is one of the best ways to bond. So, in light of this lovey dovey month I’ve decided to participate in Katelyn’s (from Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands) first ever Book Blogger Love-A-Thon! I think you should participate too, because I kinda like you. Head on over to the sign-up post here and join in on the fun!
Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light by Amy Thomas

January 30, 2012 Book Review 7 ★★

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light by Amy ThomasParis, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas
Published by Sourcebooks on February 1, 2012
Genres: Chick Lit, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 280
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
Part love letter to New York, part love letter to Paris, and total devotion to all things sweet. Paris, My Sweet is a personal and moveable feast that’s a treasure map for anyone who loves fresh cupcakes and fine chocolate, New York and Paris, and life in general. It’s about how the search for happiness can be as fleeting as a sliver of cheesecake and about how the life you’re meant to live doesn’t always taste like the one you envisioned. Organized into a baker’s dozen of delicacies (and the adventures they inspired) that will tempt readers’ appetites, Paris, My Sweet is something to savor.

The idea of this memoir is pretty adorable. I love Paris, I love New York, and I love desserts! I envy that Amy Thomas got to fly off to live in Paris for two years, doing advertising for Louis Vuitton and sampling all the amazing pastries and breads, not to mention the culture itself. The pages of this book are crammed full of bakeries and other foodish places in both Paris and New York. She makes a lot of recommendations for those who plan to travel to either location. Many times I felt like I was reading a menu with really detailed, yummy dessert descriptions. Do not read this on an empty stomach, or if you’re on a diet. The author even had me craving desserts I’m allergic to!

She also talks a lot about the history of various bakeries and dessert creations. Like the original chocolate chip cookie was a mistake. Someone accidentally dropped a chocolate bar in their cookie dough, and decided to go with the flow. A star was born. There’s lots of cool tidbits of information that I enjoyed reading about. I learned quite a bit.

Of course, she adds in personal stories from her past, as well as her time in Paris. My favorite one is when her parents fly to Paris to visit her. She describes all the touristy stuff there is to do, and she made me want to visit even more. She takes them to this one tearoom called Angelina’s, that sells the best hot chocolate in the world. She compares it to melted truffles. YUM. Coco Chanel used to have her 5:00 tea there everyday, and Audrey Hepburn popped in frequently. I looked this place up online, and it is GORGEOUS (and majorly expensive). I need to go!


Angelina’s Tearoom, Paris (Image from linternaute.com)

There were a few things that caused me to drop my rating of this book. I loved the idea, but the execution could have been stronger. I don’t speak or read French, and there is a TON of French in this book with no translations! She has a conversation with a woman who runs a bakery, and it was entirely in French. I could kind of make out what the general idea of the conversation was, but I had no idea what they were saying. She also used a lot of French phrases in the middle of her English sentences. It took away from my enjoyment, because I kept getting frustrated that I was missing something important. I just wish a parenthetical translation were there, or a footnote. Something. The author also writes really long, flowery sentences (sometimes the size of a lengthy paragraph) that are extremely wordy lists of stuff. She does this a lot (sometimes 2-3 times per page), and it gets kind of tiring. Here are a few examples:

  • “For months, I had been positively gushing about life in Paris: how charming the square-shaped trees were and how exquisite the ironwork; how graceful the seventeenth-century hotel particuliers (that’s French, not a typo) and enviable the French women’s legs; how sweet the strawberries and how divine the wine.”
  • “My visions of canal-side picnics in August were cruelly dashed, to say nothing of the chocolate eclairs heavy with custard, the buttery brioches that begged to be pinched and devoured, and raspberry tarts with their plump berries perfectly fanned out across precious beds of creme patissiere and moist pate sablee crusts that would have to go untasted while I was at the office.”
  • “But the prixe-fixe menu was also quite a value, considering it was really four courses once you factored in the biggest, most ridiculously decadent cheese course that came with it… or six courses, when you counted the two amusesebouches that began the meal… or eight courses with the two side dishes served alongside our entrees… or fourteen courses with the dishes of complimentary gelees, caramels, chocolates, lemon cakes, and petits fours that came in addition to our dessert course.”

Finally, she’s a complainer. She complains a lot about being single, and how all of her friends are pairing off. She complains about Paris, her job, her lack of friends, how her jeans are tighter than they used to be (which they should be with everything she eats! Haha), her lack of French skills, and how she misses New York. But then she goes back to visit NYC, and mopes and complains about how it’s not upscale enough for her anymore. And THEN she goes back to Paris and complains that she misses New York. I understand that it’s hard uprooting your life and moving to a foreign city. And I can totally understand why she felt like this. But filling her memoir with complaints didn’t make much sense to me. She spent a lot of the book sporting the “the grass is always greener on the other side” mentality, and I got tired of it. She was giddy about food. Food solved all of her problems. I wish she’d expressed more of her happiness in other areas of life.

Overall, this was a moderately enjoyable read. The author has a few coming of age moments, and you can tell she learned a lot about herself during her time abroad. I appreciated her human side, but wished for a little more depth. She either talked at great length about food or her hardships. I enjoyed reading about the food, but I got sick of it towards the latter part of the book (it started to feel about as exciting as a cookbook without the recipes). Maybe Paris, My Sweet should be read in small doses, along with another book. I might have appreciated it more that way. If you love New York and Paris, this book will take you there. And if you love torturing your dieting self with amazing sounding pastries, this is the book for you! At least reading about calories doesn’t plaster them to your hips, right? I’ve created a Dessert Bucket List now, thanks to Amy Thomas. :)

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Book Review)

January 28, 2012 Adult Fiction, Book Review 5 ★★★★★

Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Book Review)Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry
Series: Troy Chance #1
Published by Broadway Books on February 22, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
“If I’d blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn’t, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water.”

When she witnesses a small child tumbling from a ferry into Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. Harrowing moments later, she bobs to the surface, pulling a terrified little boy with her. As the ferry disappears into the distance, she begins a bone-chilling swim nearly a mile to shore with a tiny passenger on her back.

Surprisingly, he speaks only French. He’ll acknowledge that his name is Paul; otherwise, he’s resolutely mute.

Troy assumes that Paul’s frantic parents will be in touch with the police or the press. But what follows is a shocking and deafening silence. And Troy, a freelance writer, finds herself as fiercely determined to protect Paul as she is to find out what happened to him. What she uncovers will take her into a world of wealth and privilege and heedless self-indulgence—a world in which the murder of a child is not unthinkable. She’ll need skill and courage to survive and protect her charge and herself.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to read a good mystery. The first author I ever loved was Mary Higgins-Clark. Her mysteries made me fall in love with the genre, and I’ve been seeking out good ones ever since. When this book popped up in an e-mail to The Broke and The Bookish, I jumped at the chance to read it. It sounded so intriguing, and exciting. Picture this… you’re on a ferry, it’s crispy cold outside, and in the distance you see a bundle thrown off the back of another ferry at the exact moment you pass it. It could have been trash, right? Or a hoodie that blew off the deck. But no, you just can’t shake the feeling that it is so much worse than that. Without thinking you, not even a very good swimmer, jump into the frigid Lake Champlain and make a beeline for the diminishing ripples in the water where the mysterious bundle hit moments before. As you frantically search the murky waters around you, your eyes meet the eyes of a scared, drowning little boy. You grab him, swim a grueling one-mile swim, hoping to avoid the hypothermia creeping into your very bones, and pull him to the rocky shore. He’s not breathing, so you try to remember the CPR lesson you had a LONG time ago. You succeed. He’s breathing. As his eyes open, he looks at you, lets out a little sigh, rests his sleepy head on your arm, and murmurs, “Merci.”

This is what happens to small town newspaper journalist, Troy, on the way to visit her boyfriend. She scoops the little French-speaking guy up, runs to her car, warms him up, and tries to push away the fact that someone tried to murder this little boy. Using her very limited education in French, she learns from him that his name is Paul, he’s 6, he was kidnapped, and they killed his mom. Rather than turning him over to the police, she assumes the role of temporary mother and takes him home with her. As she learns more about him, she begins to search for his father, investigate the horrible kidnapping on her own, and finds a special place in her heart for him. The more searching she does, the more dangerous her simple life in Lake Placid becomes. She can’t let go, though. She has to know that Paul is safe, and she will do anything in her power to ensure he is.

OH MAN, right? I was hooked from the first line, “If I’d blinked, I would have missed it.” It totally sucked me in, and I read the entire thing on the way home from vacation. I really do love long car rides sometimes. No obligations but reading. The story was so unique. A six-year-old is not usually the most important character in a book, but Paul was definitely the star. He is incredibly sweet, impeccably well behaved, and cute as a button. I fell in love with this little guy, so I can totally understand why Troy did too. And yes, her name is Troy. It threw me for a while, but then I got used to it.

I really like Troy. She lives in Lake Placid with several men that rent rooms from her during high season. She’s one of the guys, but in a feminine way. They respect her, and she’s kind of like a mom to them even though they’re about her age. She has a brother who is a police officer in Florida, and she calls on him when she needs help. I loved reading about the process she went through to dig out information. She’s smart, brave, daring, fearless, and very likeable. I enjoyed reading her story (especially her bond with Paul, his dad, and their housekeeper), and she’s a great heroine who doesn’t whine when life gets tough.

The guys she lives with are hilarious. They act like stereotypical college athletes. Troy can’t keep food in the house, they have all kinds of funny things to say, and they really are just big softies. I really liked them. They were concerned about Troy, and were always willing to help her if she needed them.

The story was gripping, to say the least. The mystery was not a fast-paced as some I’ve read, but that actually made the story more believable to me. Troy ran into some snags, everyone was in some danger… but just enough to make it real. Some mysteries seem a bit too far-fetched to be taken seriously. This story could have happened. I am SO excited for the next book! Go buy this one. You’ll love it.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Seduction by Brenda Joyce (Book Review)

January 26, 2012 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3

Seduction by Brenda Joyce (Book Review)Seduction by Brenda Joyce
Series: The Spymaster's Men #1
Published by Harlequin on January 31, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
1 Stars
Dominic Paget, the earl of Bedford, will do anything to resume spying upon Britain's enemies. Badly wounded, he is put will in the care of a beautiful gentlewoman, Julianne Greystone, only to discover that her sympathies lie with his enemies. Yet he can't help but seduce the woman who saved his life—hoping she never learns of his betrayal.

Julianne is captivated by the wounded stranger she believes is a revolutionary hero. Until she discovers the truth…her "hero" is the privileged earl of Bedford. Devastated and determined to forget him, Julianne travels to London. But when she finds herself in danger, it is Bedford who comes to the rescue. Now Julianne must navigate the intrigues of a perilous city, the wild yearnings of her own heart and the explosion of their passion….

I pride myself on being a pretty versatile reader. I’ve been reading a lot of dark YA dystopians and paranormals lately, so I took a few days to read some lighter romances like Dreaming of Mr. Darcy, and now Seduction. I love my YAs, but sometimes I just need something completely different. Historical romances are another love of mine, so when I saw this on NetGalley, I was excited and intrigued. I love spy stuff and England and France and deception! I was expecting to really enjoy this. Sadly, it fell short for me. And with that, here are my thoughts (I’ve bolded the most important points, just in case you’re a skimmer!):

1. The romance took a back seat to the extremely political discussions and explanations in this book. At 30% of the way through, I knew very little about the characters, but had received a very thorough history lesson on the French Revolution, the Tories, the Jacobins… the battles… the sympathizers and the different thought processes from everyone involved. I started to space and skim through large chunks. I love history, but not this much! I wanted a romance, and there were parts that felt like I was reading a textbook rather than a novel. I felt like the framework of the story took forever to be put into place. It really took away from the romance, which felt like an afterthought. Historical fiction? Yes. Historical romance? Not really.

2. With all that being said, her story was very well researched. I understand that the author wanted her readers to receive all the background information to really understand the story. However, the reader is bombarded with so much! Too much to be enjoyable.

3. I didn’t connect with/like any of the characters. Julianne made the stupidest decisions, and was unbelievably naive and spineless. I like romance novels that have strong women. Yes, she had strong opinions, but she was so naive and clammy that I had a hard time believing they were her own thoughts, and not something she had read in a pamphlet. And she kept getting into trouble! Dom was just annoying. He spent so much time with his nose in the air that he didn’t even see what was going on. He totally lacked common sense. The supporting characters aren’t really worth mentioning. Julianne had two brothers, but they were so similar and hardly ever spoken of, that I had a hard time differentiating between the two of them. Julianne had a maid/servant while staying at Dom’s house that I liked, but I think it was only because she didn’t bug me.

4. Too. Much. Drama. Everyone threw tantrums. Dom deceived Julianne, and she was so mad that she pouted forever! Julianne deceived Dom, and he got so mad he refused to look at her. Can’t we be more adult here, and talk about this? They were on opposing sides of a war. Feelings are bound to be hurt. All of this pouting and cold shoulder business caused pointless misunderstandings. Julianne ends up getting into trouble because of her radical ways, and spends less than 24 hours in a jail cell. She won’t eat. When she gets out, she’s so weak and traumatized that she has to spend a week in bed. Seriously? That’s a pretty wimpy reaction. I kept wishing she’d suck it up.

5. About 3/4 of the way through, things pick up a little. At this point we’ve been given all the info on the French Revolution, so the focus settles on Dom and Julianne and deception. It was a bit more enjoyable, but I felt it was too little too late. There was not enough time to recover, which was disappointing. So much time was spent on historic details and politics that time ran out before I could connect enough with the characters or the story to care how things ended.

6. For so much frustration and confusion, the ending gets wrapped up in a perfect little bow way too quickly to be believable. I was actually worried that things would be continued in the next book (which I won’t be reading), we had so little time left. After all this time of being mad and annoyed and hurt and brooding and pouty, everyone just falls into place and life is perfect. This doesn’t happen! People go from hate to love in the blink of an eye! I’m really glad their story ended with this book, because I would have been frustrated if I had plowed through this one, only to still not be finished.

I’ve read a lot of historical romance. Like I said, it has always been one of my favorite genres. I would not classify this as a romance, though. Julianne and Dominic’s story was so weak, that it just annoyed me. Honestly, I didn’t care if they sorted out their battles. I didn’t like either of them, or their families. Everything took a backseat to the history lesson, which was really pretty boring. I skipped entire pages of history with no dialogue or happenings. It was just history. Now, I have nothing against history. It’s just not what I wanted to be reading when I picked up a romance. I will applaud Ms. Joyce for her impeccable research. It was obvious that she spent a ton of time reading up on the French Revolution and the spymasters. If you like historical fiction, I can see that you might like this. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest