Saturday, December 31, 2011

(185)Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Pages: 400

Okay.  Grab a post it note and a pen.  Got it? Okay, now write this down: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  Done?  Now RUN right out to the bookstore or grab your preferred reading device and BUY THIS BOOK!  I am absolutely shocked at how much I enjoyed this book and how much I found myself think of Cinder long after I finished reading.

Cinder is a new, creative twist on the old tale of Cinderella. Cinder is a teenage Cyborg (half robot half human, it's okay, I really didn't know either).  She lives in New Bejing sometime in the very far future.  She lives with the wife of the man who rescued her all those years ago and her two "step-sisters". She provides for her family as a mechanic, working on the Androids (robots, not phones) of the land.  The people of New Bejing are living in fear, not only do they fear the evil queen of Luna, but they also live in fear of deadly plague that is slowly wiping out the population. But they have one thing to look for, the Ball that the Prince will be throwing and everyone in the land is invited.  Unfortunately,  no matter how much she wants to go, Cinder will not be attending. Especially now that her sister, Peony, has taken ill.  But that may change after Cinder helps the Prince recover some very important data off of his old Android, or is it too late for Cinder to go to the ball?

Never in a million years did I think that this was a book that I was just going to fall in love with.  Androids? Cyborgs? Me? NEVER.  But Marissa Meyer has done an amazing job of breathing new life into a tale as old as time.  Cinder is a character who finds her way into your heart.  She just wants to be left alone and live her life in peace.  Unfortunately those in her life have no desire of leaving her alone. Throw in the threat of an evil Queen and a deadly plague and you really have a page turner that will entertain people of all ages.

Friday, December 30, 2011

(184)Secrets by Freya North


Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Pages: 496

Okay - this really shouldn't be necessary for me to say, but here it is,  if you are going to write a 500 page Chick Lit novel, it really needs to be a GRIPPING page turner or you are going to lose this ADD Chick Lit fan.

Secrets is set in England and is about a woman, Tess, who takes her baby girl, Emmaline, and escapes out of London.  She winds up taking a house sitting position in a quaint little village working for the handsome architect, Joe. At first they are as polite as strangers passing on the street, but soon their lives start to entwine in many different ways.  But will the Secrets that each of them are keeping stop their relationship from growing into something more meaningful?

Secrets is the first book by Freya North that I have read so I wasn't quite sure what I was get myself into with a 496 page Chick Lit novel. I will be honest, it could have been about 200 pages shorter and still had a full, complete story.  Even though I thought it was a bit long winded, it was a good story.  I found myself getting invested in the relationship between Joe and Tess.  I did think he was a bit of a dog towards the beginning of their relationship, but he redeemed himself in the end.  I also loved the role that Wolfe, Joe's dog, played into the story.  What a wonderful pooch!  Bottom line is this, I do think it is worth the read, but you just need to prepare yourself for the 496 pages.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

(183)The Demon Lover

The Demon Lover

Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Pages : 448

I was just in junior high, early high school when I had finished all of the Danielle Steele books in the public library and moved on to books by Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Barbara Michaels. Yes, I admit it, my early love of reading can be attributed to Gothic romance novels.

Author Carol Goodman, writing under the name Juliet Dark, pays homage to those Gothic novelists of my misspent youth in her new book, The Demon Lover.  She combines the old favorite, Gothic romance with the new favorite, Paranormal romance and comes up with a steamy page turner that all women will love.

Callie McFay has grown up on the same Gothic novels that I did.   She has taken her love of all things Gothic and turned it into a career as a Professor teaching all about the classics to college students.  She has just accepted a position at Fairwick College in Upstate New York.  From the first moment she saw the Honeysuckle House, she knew she would accept the position at Fairwick and buy the house that was once owned by Gothic Romance novelist, Dahlia LaMonte.  From her first night in the House, Callie has been experiencing the most erotic dreams starring "The Demon Lover".  It is a stormy Thanksgiving weekend when Callie discovers that the dreams are more real than she thought and the Paranormal world full of Fairies, Incubus, and Witches are right at her doorstep. With the ultimate battle between good and evil about to be waged on her doorstep, will Callie be able win the battle and find true love?

The Demon Lover is everything a fan of Romance novels could ever want in a book.  A Gothic setting in a quaint little college town, extremely steamy sex scenes, and references to your favorite authors such as Charlaine Harris.  I have seen some comparison between The Demon Lover and Discovery of Witches, but that comparison is not really accurate, in my opinion.  I did not get the same kind of "love story" vibe with The Demon Lover, but definitely a "sex" vibe.  I did enjoy this book, though. It is has a way of hooking you - and the ending, while not what I expected,  gave a hint that there is more to come!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

(182)All Fall Down by Megan Hart

All Fall Down

Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Pages: 400

There has been so much in the media recently about religious cults and uncommon religious beliefs, most specifically the FLDS and other Polygamous sects. There is something about these sects or cults, if you will have it, that piques the interest of so many people, myself included.

All Fall Down is about a religious cult that would be more in line with Jim Jones or Heaven's Gate cult. Sunshine is a young woman in her early twenties with three young children.  She grew up inside the Family of Superior Bliss. It is in the middle of the night one night when her  mother wakes her up , slips a name with an address in her hand, and tells  her it is time to go.  Sunny takes her three children and arrive on the doorstep of the Father she never met, only to discover the next morning that all 100 "family" members she left behind are dead.

The coming months are full of trials and tribulations for both Sunny and her Father and his wife, Liesel.  As Sunny adjusts to live outside of the compound she realizes that "The Blemished" are not as bad as she was led to believe and some of the other things that she once considered "normal" are really as far from normal as normal could be.  Will she be able to adjust to her new life or will she fall back into the ways of "The Family".

All Fall Down is really a gripping read.  I flew right through it with a fascination that I did not expect.  Sunny is a very empathetic character, her life has been so different from the mainstream world, you can not help but root for her and her children.  With the Readers Guide that is included at the back of the book, All Fall Down would be a great Book Club selection.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

(181)The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

The Bungalow

Publication Date: December 27, 2011

The Christmas presents are wrapped, the cards have been sent out, the candy has been baked, our dinner is tonight and I finally got a chance to sit down with my nook and do some quality reading.  And I am so glad that I did!

It is 1942 and World War II is being waged in the Pacific and Europe, but in the elite society of Seattle, it has very little impact on Anne and her friend, Kitty.  Anne has recently become engaged, but she is questioning whether their love is a passionate kind of love and is wondering if she made the right choice in agreeing to marry, Gerard.  Kitty uses Anne's doubts against her and talks her into joining the Nurses Corp and going off to Bora Bora to serve their country.  It is in Bora Bora, though, where Anne discovers what true love really is in the magical Bungalow that sits on the beach.  But when the magic turns to tragedy Anne discovers that love is not simple and often times very messy.  Will Anne return to Seattle to marry Gerrard or will her love affair with Westry continue after the War? Will true love prevail for Anne or is she destined to settle?

The Bungalow is a romantic love story that is reminiscent of old Hollywood films.  Anne starts off the story as a naive, somewhat sheltered young woman who is forced to grow up because of her part in the war.  She is a kind hearted character who gets her heart broken more than any young woman should.  The Bungalow is a "sweeping" love story that takes us all over the world.  I really enjoyed Anne, as a character, I enjoyed watching her grow and struggling with decisions that would affect her for the rest of the life.

If you have gift cards to spend this year, The Bungalow is the perfect escape from the cold and dreary weather and from the holiday hustle/bustle. Or if you are just looking for a good love story to warm your heart, this is the one for you!  Happy Reading!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

(180)101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic... but Didn't by Tim Maltin

101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic
...but Didn't.

By Tim Maltin

Buy it Here!

I don't think there is a woman, young or old, that has not seen the epic movie, Titanic.  We all ooooh'd and aaaaahhhh'd over the Jack and Rose love story.  In fact Titanic is the only movie I saw in the theater  more than once.  I am not afraid to own that.  LOL.

Well the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is coming up this Spring. Author Tim Maltin took this time to debunk some of the common myths about the Titanic.  Some he even validated.  But the movie is referenced several times in the book.  Like when Molly Brown ordered the lifeboats back, no she did not do that.  And most of the lives lost were not  lost due to drowning, but hypothermia. An interesting fact that I had not heard before for that there were two kidnapped kids on board of the Titanic.  It was a custodial kidnapping and their father perished, an interesting little tidbit.

Overall this is the type of book that diehard fans of  Jack and Rose will enjoy.  I admit that it made me want to pull out the movie and watch it again.  With the Anniversary coming up there will be a lot of talk about that fateful April night, 101 Things You Thought You  Knew about the Titanic will help get you started. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

(179)Second Nature: A Love Story by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Second Nature: A Love Story 

Publication Date: September 6, 2011
Pages: 384

Every now and again you run across a character that you find yourself relating to more than any character you have read in a while.  For me that was the case with Sicily Coyne in Jacquelyn Mitchard's new book, Second Nature.

Second Nature tells the story of Sicily, a young woman who received horrific burns to her body, specifically face, after a church fire kills her father and twenty-two other children. It is just a short while after that when her mother is killed, leaving Sicily an orphan to be raised by her Aunt Marie.   After hundreds of surgeries, Sicily has healed, but her face is left scarred and Sicily spends her days working from home and avoiding social situations that put her in the position of being stared at and having to answer questions.  She has been offered a face transplant, but as a well adjusted young woman with a wonderful boyfriend she declines.

Sicily is living a happy, content life on the brink of getting married when her world is rocked by the discovery that her fiance, Joey, was an accomplice to the fire that changed her life forever and that his "love" is his self imposed penance for his act.  After breaking up with Joey, Sicily agrees to the transplant in the hopes that she will be able to live a normal life and find someone to share her life with.  And she does find him, or so she thinks, with Vincent Cappadora, an older man that works in film.  After an amazing week together Sicily believes they have a future, but Vincent has other ideas.  It isn't until she realizes that she is pregnant that Vincent comes back into her life.  Now they have a decision to make.  Carrying the baby to term could put Sicily in danger for a rejection, not to mention the anti-rejection medication she took daily until she discovered she was pregnant puts their baby at great risk for birth defects. Now comes the ultimate decision, do they keep the baby or terminate the pregnancy? And will their relationship survive the decision?

You may recognize the Cappadora name from Mitchard's most famous work, The Deep End of the Ocean. I honestly did not put it all together until I went back and read the synopsis more than half way through the book.  You do get to catch up with several of the characters from that story, but the heart of Second Nature belongs to Sicily.

Having grown up with a birth defect I was often asked, "If you could have two hands, would you?" - and to answer that question, no.  I am who I am and I do just fine (most of the time) with the way I was born.  I understand why Sicily initially said no - she was doing just fine as she was.  And I also understand why she decided to say yes - she stopped being fine when she discovered her fiance pitied her instead of loved her.  For someone who is "different" there is nothing worse than pity. I could relate rather well to that punched in the gut feeling Sicily had when she discovered that the man she loved was with her out of pity and remorse.  As for Vincent and the heart-wrenching decision they had to make? Well, I can not judge, I don't know what I would do in their shoes, but it made the story that much more engrossing.

I am giving Second Nature a "Best of 2011" tag because of the feelings evoked by Sicily and her story. I cried when she cried and I felt extremely protective of her during certain sections.  But most of all because her story touched my heart and stayed with me days after finishing.  Have you read Second Nature? I would love to hear what you thought!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

(178)The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

The Christmas Wedding 
by James Patterson & Richard DiLallo

Publication Date: October 17, 2011
Pages: 288

I lifted my self imposed ban on James Patterson novels (I refuse to read them because he doesn't write them!) long enough to read this charming little Christmas novel, The Christmas Wedding.

Christmas is drawing near and Widow Gaby Summerhill invites her grown children to spend the holiday with her via a video she emails to them.  But with the invitation comes the news that she is getting married to one of three men.  All three have proposed, but she is keeping her choice a secret until the actual ceremony.  If that doesn't get her children to come home, nothing will!  Each of her children are dealing with their own life struggles, but they are looking forward to family time on the farm, and the little surprise their mother is waiting to reveal!

The Christmas Wedding was a really quick read, but it was really cute.  Gaby was the kind of Grandmother that all kids wish was theirs.  And she was a supportive, if not a bit meddlesome, Mother. I enjoyed the way the grown children worked through their "stuff" to be there for their Mom.  If you don't get a chance to read it this year, have no fear, for I suspect it will be one of those cheesy holiday movies that I love on The Hallmark Channel or ABC Family!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

(177)Once Upon A Time, There Was You by Elizabeth Berg

Once Upon A Time, There Was You
by Elizabeth Berg

Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Pages: 304

Elizabeth Berg is one of the most prolific woman's authors around. But Once Upon A Time, There Was You is the first book by this author I have read.  And honestly I was not that impressed.

The night before John & Irene got married they both had doubts that they were doing the right thing. They both ignored their doubts and went through with the wedding.  Flash forward nearly twenty years and they are divorced with John in Minnesota and Irene on the West Coast with their college aged daughter shuttling between the two of them.  Their lives really don't intersect after that until one day their daughter goes missing.  She was supposed to have gone hiking with friends, but in reality she was waiting for her secret boyfriend, Ron to pick her up.  When he is late she does something incredibly stupid and winds up a kidnapping victim, forcing her parents into dealing with each other once again.  Will Sadie be found and returned to her family? Will John and Irene make peace with their past and each other? Read to find out!

I am really sorry to say that I didn't really care for this book.  It started out promising, but by the time Sadie was kidnapped I just wanted it to be over.  The author really set up the scene to be this horrific, scary event - but it really turned out to be anticlimactic. Then what happens after is so far fetched I just went "Really?".  It is pretty bad.  I would love to hear what others thought, though.  Maybe it was just the cold medicine, but I was so disappointed that such a prolific author wrote this novel. Thoughts?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

(176)Wish Upon A Star by Sarah Morgan

Wish Upon A Star 

Publication Date: October 7, 2011

There is just something about the covers for UK Chick Lit novels that just captivates me.  One of these days I will do a post just about these covers, but it is more than you would think, that I find myself browsing through British Chick Lit blogs just to look at the covers of the books.  The soft colors and pretty images just have a way getting me every time!

Well. Wish Upon A Star was recently released as an e-book in the States and I had a chance to review a copy.  Honestly, I should have just kept the illusion that pretty covers equals pretty stories.

Wish Upon A Star is a book with two stories about two women.  The first is Christy.  She and her husband have been having a major problem with communication, so much so that she took the kids and moved to London.  They return "home" for the holidays and the kids see it as an opportunity for Mom & Dad to work things out.  Will the kids get their wish?

The second story is about Miranda, a Midwife who has come to the hospital (same hospital that Christy and her husband work at) and finds herself in the way of sexy Doctor Jake Blackwell more than she would like.  Jake finds himself drawn to the Midwife, but will his feelings change once he discovers the single woman is about to become a Mother?

Both stories were a bit predictable.  Okay, a LOT predictable.  I liked Miranda's story a bit better, but still, exactly the kind of story that my Grandmother would read.  If you are looking for light and easy, give this one a shot, but don't say I didn't warn you about the predictability.

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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