June 30, 2012

Book Review: Jinx by Meg Cabot

In the spirit of the Meg-A-Readers Blog Hop, I'm going to be reviewing one book by Meg Cabot every sunday for the duration of the event!

This week I'm looking into Jinx. I remember reading this book shortly after it was released and enjoying it to bits. I love that the story was about a girl who might or might not be a witch, since that used to be pretty rare until a few years ago. 

The Deal: Jean Honeychurch as as much bad luck as you can expect from someone nicknamed Jinx. Ever since she was born, strange things keep happening around her - not to mention the fact that she's a total klutz - and when one those 'strange things' goes a bit too far, Jinx gets send off to her rich uncles in Manhattan, where she hopes to leave her bad luck behind.

Not that it seems to be working. Her uncles - The Gardiners - are nice, her younger cousins sweet, but her cousin Torrance - once a sweet, funny kid who climbed trees and played with Jinx - has turned into a complete stranger, one that's obsessed with the magical legacy of their family. A legacy that seems to have fallen on Jinx's lap.

Her new school is all right enough, and the Gardiners' dreamy neighbor Zach welcoming -even if Jinx is pretty sure he's in love with the Gardiners' au pair, and he's just being nice to her because he's a decent human being - and soon Jinx starts to feel at home... sort of. 

Until Torrance's thirst to get her hands on the family's legacy -a.k.a becoming a witch - goes a bit too far. 

My Thoughts: A couple years before paranormal exploded all over YA - leaving morose angels, sparkly vampires and mopey werewolves all over the place - there was Jinx. At the time, it was the darkest of Meg Cabot's books, but it was still all the things you expect of a book by Meg: it was fun, with a bit of romance and a likable heroine. 

Jean was a sweet girl, one with whom it was easy to relate, she made a few mistakes and had to face the consequences of them, and at the same time she had to learn to accept herself for who she was - even with the strange, witchy gift in the family. Zach Rosen, was a really sweet guy and it was easy to like him - even if he was a bit too perfect. 

Torrance as a mean girl, and she worked well in her role, she was jealous and selfish and a little crazy but it worked well for the story. 

The other characters were a bit more less developed, wich I think helped to make the story move at a faster pace, making this a fairly quick read. 

Jinx is that rare breed of paranormal that is funny without being campy, 'dark' without being depressing.

June 29, 2012

Movie Madness / Books So Far - June

Hello guys! I'm here to give a brief round up of the two only challenges I chose to accept this year. The first being:

Movies/Series Watched: 24

Favorites: Big Miracle, Downton Abbey Christmas Special, Top Chef Canada Season 2, Meet the Robinsons, Adam's Family 2, Madagascar 3m, Penelope. 

Least Liked: The Crucible/Silenced - it's not that it's a bad movie, just SO hard to watch. Those Koreans sure don't shy away from heartbreaking scenes. Plus, I only watched it 'cause I have had the hots for the lead actor since Coffee Prince. 

If you're doing the Movie Madness Challenge you can head off to The Talking Teacup to link up your update.

reading challenge

On the book department and my quest to read 200 books in a year?

Books Read: 16 
Total: 108

Re reads: 6

Favorites: Sean Griswold's Head, The Gorgon in the Gully, A Night Like This, The Governess Affair, Girl Unmoored, Medusa the Mean, What I Didn't Say. 

Romance: 4

Contemporary: 2

Historical: 2
YA: 12

Well, that's me! How's everyone doing so far?

June 28, 2012

Book Review: The Proposal by Mary Balogh

US Cover
The Deal: Thanks to the help of the Survivor's Club, Hugo Emes, Lord Trentham survived the aftermath of his heroic actions in the Peninsula War and he is really looking forward to see the Club's members again at the annual gathering. But meeting Gwendolyn, Lady Muir on the second day of his stay and, thanks to an accident, having her stay with him and his friends, is nothing short of annoying and disastrous. 

Even though he was given a title due to his actions during the war, Hugo comes from a middle class background and doesn't deal well with the aristocracy - even though all his friends in the Survivor's Club have a title of some sort- so he finds it very infuriating how attracted he is to Gwen.

UK Cover

Gwen has been widowed for seven years, and the mix of love she felt for her husband and the regrets of her marriage have kept her from encouraging  suitors or pursuing a second marriage. She finds Hugo a bit too straight forward, but also attractive, and it really annoys her that he's the only one she seems to be able to open up with about what her marriage was really like.

My Thoughts: I really wanted to like The Proposal, I hadn't read a book by Mary Balogh in a while but I liked the sound of this one. Sadly, the Proposal wasn't anything like I was expecting, and I didn't particularly care for what it actually was. 

The book is well written, the characters nice enough - if a bit too stubborn and contrary - but I didn't actually feel that much chemistry between them other than because THEY SAID they were attracted to each other (annoyingly so). Also, I felt like there was a lot of info-dump in this book, the narration went on and on, and the characters talked and talked, but the story were no where for a lot of the book. 

I had hoped this book would be more about The Survivor's Club and how these damaged people put themselves back together but, in the end, the whole Club thing was more a plot device to link this series than anything else (at least that's my opinion so far), and I don't really care to known the stories of the other ones. 

What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

June 26, 2012

Book Review: Medusa the Mean by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

At First Sight: As one of the few mortals allowed to attend Mount Olympus Academy, it could be said that Medusa Gorgon doesn't have it easy. And, even though she pretends not to care, she isn't above feeling both jealousy and longing for the perks that come with being immortal. 

And with Principal Zeus and Hera's wedding fast approaching, Medusa feels this longing more than ever, and she's just about to realize what lengths she's willing to go for immortality and popularity. 

To top it all off, 7 boys from MOA are elected to be groomsmen at the wedding, and they get to select whom the bridesmaids will be. Some have obvious choices - like everyone knows Hades will take Persephone - but some don't, and among them is Medusa's Super Crush since she was 8: Poseidon. 

Medusa will do whatever it takes to win that spot, even if is Dionysius - the boy she once danced with - who is the only one going out of his way to talk to her.  

Second GlanceMedusa has always been regarded as a bully at MOA, and her snake hair doesn't really help her rep. But what's really going on behind the snake-y hair and often sour disposition?

A lot of loneliness, shyness and just plain lack of social graces. 

In Medusa The Mean, we finally get to know Medusa and I have to say that I really quite liked her. She's actually a very guarded person, and she has reasons to be, but she also has a softer side to her - which often just comes out with her snakes, all of whom haver personalities. 

I really give kudos to the authors because while Medusa remains herself and certainly doesn't get a personality change, after reading this book I got to understand her and her actions a lot better. 

Bottom LineMedusa the Mean was a great addition to the Goddess Girls series, and I love how the series is expanding to touch on different characters, aside from the original four. And I agree with Carrie @ In the Hammock that this is one of the best entries to the series, I think it's tied in second as my over-all favorite. 
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June 25, 2012

Book Review: Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

At First Sight: Apron's Mom has died recently and her life is nowhere near to getting back on track. Her father has started a relationship with M (Margie) - the Brazilian nurse aide that used to look after her mom at the hospital - and seems oblivious to the fact that M hates Apron. 

As the school year ends and her father announces plans to marry M - right on the heels of M's announcing she's pregnant - Apron's life seems more out of control then ever. 

This is when she meets Mike Weller - her next-door neighbor's nephew, and star of the local production of Jesus Christ, Superstar! - a florist who is struggling with his business and the declining heath of his friend and partner Chad. 

After helping him out a few times, Apron discovers she actually loves working with flowers and she grows closer to both Mike and Chad, and gladly accepts when they offer her a summer job.

While her home-life spirals a bit out of control each day - with M's true colors starting to show, and her father putting more and more distance between them, and the pregnancy progressing - Scent Appeal, the store Mike and Chad own, becomes a safe heaven for Apron, until real life starts intruding there too.

Second Glance: Girl Unmoored was nothing like I was expecting - and I'm not sure why the nautical theme in the cover, actually - but what it was, it was a joy to read. 

The story is set in the mid or late 80's, I believe, and you can see a lot of the popular mind-frame when it comes to AIDS and homosexuality. And I actually loved that Apron's information on the subject rang true of what a lot of kids thought and knew about AIDS and homosexuality at the time the story takes place, and though a lot of it was wrong, it was believable.

Plus, Apron does learn to look beyond that, she learns to love Mike and Chad because of the lovely people they are, and sees that the way they love each other is actually a lot more healthy than what she sees in her father and M's marriage, for example. 

Also, for a book set in the 80's, the references to this time period aren't too heavy, in many ways the book doesn't feel dated at all. 

My only complaint is that I felt the first half of the book went by a little slowly. I would read, and read, but advance little in the page count. But, after I hit the middle point, things progressed more quickly. 

Bottom Line: Girl Unmoored was a pleasant surprise to me. In the theme and the quality of the content. Save for a few troubles with the pacing, it was a wonderful book that both represents a time and place in culture and, at the same time, shows just how powerful love is. 

Favorite Quote: "You don't have to do anything for some people to hate you." - Mike
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June 24, 2012

Book Review: Twilight by Meg Cabot

In the spirit of the Meg-A-Readers Blog Hop, I'm going to be reviewing one book by Meg Cabot every sunday for the duration of the event!

This week, I'm reviewing Twilight (The Original, Actually Good Twilight, as I like to call it!)

WARNING: As Twilight is the 6th and last* book of the Mediator Series, there will be spoilers about previous books. 

At First Sight: After almost a year of dancing around it, Suze Simon finally has the one thing she wanted the most: Jesse de Silva - the ghost that used to haunt her bedroom - has admitted he loves her and they are together. 

Or as together as a 16-year-old girl and the ghost of a guy who died in 1850 can be. But Suze is happy, except when Paul Slater - fellow mediator who seems to know more about their powers than anyone else, even Father Dom - is around, threatening first to send Jesse's ghost to the shadowland... and, later, to prevent him from even dying in the first place. 

Jesse keeps telling her not to worry about it, but Suze can't help to wonder... what If Jesse never died? and they never met? 

Second Glance: Twilight is the last* book in the Mediator series and I confess that it's probably my favorite. I waited and waited for this book and I was happy at how it all turned out - for the most part. 

Over the course of so many books, Suze and Jesse have become friends and they have fallen in love, even though they know theirs is an impossible situation, that doesn't make their feelings any less real. In this book, we finally get to see how Jesse was like when he was alive and I loved getting to know him that way too. 

Suze is still one of the most kick-ass heroines ever, and I actually love the choice she made, in the end, regarding Jesse (I'm sorry if I sound cryptic, but I don't want to spoil).

All in all, I really enjoyed this book, particularly the second part. I do have a small pet peeve with this book, but it regards the ending and it's really a small thing. 

Bottom Line: The Mediator is my favorite series by Meg Cabot and Twilight one of my favorite books, I loved the progression of the series and the places this book takes you to. Over all, I thought it was a great ending* to a great series.

Favorite Quote: "Because he's honest." I said. "And he's kind. And he puts me ahead of everything else-" 

"If you think I would leave you alone with her again," he said, his gaze never wavering from Paul's face. "you don't know me at all in this future you speak of."

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*  There are rummors that there might be a new adventure for the Mediator gang in the future but, if it happens, it will take at least a couple of years to see the light. 

June 21, 2012

Speed Date: The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

The Cover and Tag-line are spot on!
The Deal: Hugo Marshall is used to dealing with the Duke of Claremont's many indiscretions, so much so that the duke simply expects him to make all his problems go away. The duke's - and Hugo's  - latest problem is Serena Barton. 

She's the woman standing outside the Duke's London home, demanding recognition and justice - for what? Hugo isn't sure, the Duke claims it's a laboral dispute, but Hugo knows better than to take the man's words at face value. 

So, he's charged with dealing with Serena, with making her go away and, though Hugo balks at the idea of hurting a woman, his fate is too entangled with the Duke's to let this escalate. 

The only problem is that he likes Serena, and the more time he spends trying to drive her away, the least he wants her to go. 

My Thoughts: I had never read Courtney Milan's books before, I don't know why, but when I heard The Governess Affair was a 100 page novella that introduced her next series I thought it was the perfect opportunity to sample her writing. 

And now I finally understand why so many people think she's awesome! In this short story, Courtney Milan packs a punch. I was so drawn into Hugo and Serena, in a few scenes I knew who they were and what mattered to them and I knew they belonged together. 

The writing is fun and witty - though I wouldn't cal it fluffy, it made me laugh a few times, particularly when Hugo and Serena write notes/letters to each other. 

I really loved the Governess Affair, and I'm really looking forward to the next few books in the series, starting with The Duchess War.

Favorite Quote
"No, Mr. Marshall. I will not be browbeaten, however nicely you do it. I am done with things happening to me. From her on out, I'm going to happen to things"
"Brave words," He said softly, "That's what it means to be ruthless. After all, I happen to other people on a regular basis."

"There was no convincing one another, no understanding one another. But when Serena had most needed it, her sister had given her a place to stay. For all that Freddy made her stomach hurt, they still shared an affection made bittersweet for all that divided them. Perhaps God gave one sisters to teach one to love the inexplicable."
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What's a Book Speed Date, you ask? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book (variety is the spice of life, after all).

If you want to join in or just read other speed date reviews, check out The Book Swarm

June 18, 2012

Book Review: Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller

At First Sight: After leaving Parable in disgrace - after her stepfather stole a bunch of money from practically everyone in town - Joslyn Kirk is back in town, secretly trying to make amends. She isn't really sure why or how, but she'll give it a try, even if that means moving into her friend Kendra's guest cottage and working for her.

Slade Barlow has a few problems of his own: he doesn't love his job as Sheriff anymore, he isn't sure he should take up ranching instead, and the father that never bothered acknowledging him in life has just passed away and left him half of his estate, which isn't pleasing his half-brother Hutch, at all. 

Whatever their other concerns are, when Slade and Joslyn run into each other after years of not seeing each other - and never really being friends - they are overwhelmingly attracted to each other, even if neither of them wants to pursue a relationship. 

Second Glance: I usually enjoy Linda Lael Miller's Christmas stories, but I had yet to try one of her other series, so when I heard Big Sky Country was the start of a new series I decided to give it a go. 

And it had some mixed results. First, about 3/4 of the book is all set up - for the series, I guess, and for the romance between Joslyn and Slade, but I don't mean it in a good way. I liked Slade and Joslyn but I'm not sure I buy them together because they barely spent anytime together. By page 260 they had barely been in the same room five times, they don't kiss for ages, and then they are just in love. 

Also, Joslyn motives are flimsy at best and the way she keeps trying to shoulder the blame for something that was completely out of her control (a.k.a. what her stepfather did)? It was just so annoying. 

Bottom Line: Big Sky Country is the start of a new series and it feels that way. Characters are nice and likable, but as a whole, I didn't enjoy this book much. I think I'll stick to the author's Christmas stories. 

June 16, 2012

Book Review: Sanctuary by Meg Cabot

In the spirit of the Meg-A-Readers Blog Hop, I'm going to be reviewing one book by Meg Cabot every sunday for the duration of the event!

For this Saturday I went back to 1-800-Where R You series, and I'm going to review book 4: Sanctuary (which is also included in Vanished Vol 2)

At First Sight: Strange things are happening in Jess Mastriani's little town. First, her new neighbor Nate Thompkins goes missing and is later found dead on Thanksgiving; then the local synagogue is vandalized and another kid goes missing.  

Jess doesn't want to get involved - she really only wanted to spend Thanksgiving with her almost-boyfriend Rob Wilkins and avoid her aunt Rose as much as possible  - but when things start to point toward a local, crazy militia group, Jess decides that what happens in her town is her business after all. 

And, with the help of her psychic powers - and the FBI agent who is following her around, trying to to get her use her powers to help the government find "people of interest", not to mention Rob, a huge biker named Chick - she's going to take on this new challenge. 

Second Glance: I confess that I've always have a soft spot for Sanctuary within the series. I like that a lot of things are happening, and that there is a lot more Rob in this book - though I admit I do reach a point where I'm So Over the whole Townie/Grit aspect of the relationship between them (and the whole book, actually).

Also, love Douglas and his fledging relationship with Tasha, I love Doug, I really do and it's good seeing him live his life even though he has schizophrenia. Oh, and Chick - biker and owner of the bar/grill Chick's - rocks! 

Bottom Line: If you have been reading the series, I can't imagine that you don't want to read Sanctuary, and I personally think that it's one of the most solid books in the series. 
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