February 28, 2014

ListManiac: Favorite Things Couples Say To Each Other

Okay... so I had actually recorded a video for this - and I managed to do it all in one take!!! - but when I played it back, it had no sound :( so I'm just going to write my favorite scenes between different couples. Be warned there are some spoilers ahead.

So, here it is:

Okay, so in the story, Andy and Christina are both widowers who fall for each other but end up breaking up because her daughter doesn't like him - she's not used to sharing her mom with anyone since Christina's husband died when she was just a baby - but afterwards they find out she's pregnant with his baby and he asks her to marry him. Christina says no, but in the end she changes her mind and this happens: 
Even in the shared silence, she felt he was close to her, close enough to reach if only she dared. "There was something I wanted to ask you." 
"Ask away." 
"It's about that ring," She paused, trying to assemble the right sequence of words. "The one you wanted to give me. I never tried it on." 
"No," he said. "You didn't." 
"Do you suppose I still could - that is, if you still have it-" 
"Yes," he said. She could hear the happiness in his voice now, surging like a current, invisible but strong, connecting them. "Yes, I do. Yes, you could. Yes."

This scene takes place when Aline tells McKenna about the accident she had that burned her legs completely and which made her keep him at a distance, even though she loved him. This is his reaction.
“What did you think I meant when I said that I loved you? Did you think I would give a damn about your scars?” 
Stunned by his reaction, Aline responded with a single nod. 
“My God.” The blood rose higher in his face. “What if the situation were reversed, and I was the one who had been hurt? Would you have left me?” 
“Then why did you expect anything less of me?”

I love this scene - which is a flashback to when Mia and Adam were boyfriend and girlfriend before the events of If I Stay - because it shows pretty well how Adam feels for Mia. 
...“The band. When you’re with the band, I already have to share you with everyone. I don’t want to add my family to that pot, too.” Then she lost the battle and started to cry.  
All my annoyance melted. “You dumb-ass,” I crooned, kissing her on the forehead. “You don’t share me. You own me.”

This is the part where Levi and Cath decide to take a chance. And I just love how Levi accepts Cath as she is. 
“I know,” Cath agreed, feeling almost relieved. “Exactly. I’m crazy.” 
He reached his fingers back and hooked them inside the cuff of her sweater. “But you still want to give me a chance, right? Not just me, this? Us?” 
“Yeah,” Cath said, like she was giving in. 
“Good.” He tugged on her sleeve and smiled down at their not-​quite-​touching hands. “It’s okay if you’re crazy,” he said softly. 
“You don’t even know—” 
“I don’t have to know,” he said. “I’m rooting for you.”

I'm just going to put this one even though it's long. It's pure Taylor-Jonah awesomeness. 
"Wherever we go or whomever we meet, promise me you won't judge my mother?" 
He doesn't say anything. 
"I can't," he says, not only irritated but dismissive. "Don't ask me to do that."

"That's cold." 
"Fine. Call it cold. But you've told me too many things that I'll never forgive her for." 
"Then I wish I hadn't told you," I snap. 
"But you did," he snaps back, "So find someone else who will love and forgive her, because it won't be me." 
"Then why are you here?" I'm shouting now and I don't know why, because the last thing I want to do is fight with him in the middle of a Sydney street. 
He stops and looks at me. "I'm here because of you. You're my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned into mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it any other way? Hell, yes, but I don't think that will be happening in my life time."

Okay! so those are my favorite things couples say to each other in books, let me know yours in the comments bellow!

Also, since this topic got tied with Favorite YA parents, I'm going to do that topic next, I'll try to put it up by the middle of March, along with the poll for next month. Thanks for reading this super-long post!!

Love, Alex. 

February 27, 2014

Book Review: Always Remember by Sheila Seabrook

At First Sight: The last place where Jessie Adams wants to be is back at Nate Coltrane's ranch. She broke his heart at seventeen, when she left their small town to pursue her music career, and secretly gave his baby up for adoption all those years ago. But now her mother is dying and so Jessie goes back. 

From the start, things heat up between Jessie and Nate, even as he is determined to keep his distance. He has a lot to lose if Jessie finds out that he has known about his child all along - all those years ago, Jessie's mom gave him his daughter, Sarah, in exchange for him not seeking out Jessie as she made her way in the country music scene. 

But now they are all together, and in some ways the past seems to be repeating itself, threatening to shake things up pretty bad. 

Second Glance: Well, Always Remember is a bit of a mess. I hoped I would like it a lot more as the Secret Baby (or teenager) plot is one of my favorites, but I didn't quite click with this book.

Nate and Jessie are pleasant enough, even if they do have a tendency to act like teenagers still and to beat around the bush a lot. And that is one of my main problems with the story, they never really sit to talk and deal with things, they sort of just yell at each other a bit, keep secrets, the secrets blow up in their faces and then they just decide to be together without ever really fixing things.

And Nate does something rather insensitive toward his daughter toward the end, which made me raise my eyebrows a bit. 

Bottom Line: I think this book had lots of potential but it lacked depth, it is a quick read but somehow I kept expecting Nate and Rachel to grow up and face their problems but didn't feel like they quite did. 

February 22, 2014


Hello my darlings!!!

Okay, so one of my blogging goals for this year is to bring back my ListManiac section, where I make list of all the things I love or hate in different topics. 

In the last couple of years I only seem to do these at the end of the year with favorites and looking-forwards.

Technically, my January List was the one of the stuff I'm looking forward this year. And for February I have to possible topics: Favorite things couples say to each other in books or Best Parents in YA. 

Here is where you come in! If you look at the left-hand side of the screen, there is a little poll where you can vote to decide which topic I'll do. The poll closes on Thursday and I'll record the vlog on friday - my day off work - and put it up.

I'll try to be more organized about this and put the poll up earlier in coming months. 

So, please vote!!!! 

February 21, 2014

Book Review: Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum

At First Sight: Colby is the odd girl out in her family, she's overweight and, unlike her sisters, she takes after her father (a former football player) rather than her mother (a former Miss Texas). Yet, Colby is often pushed into the spotlight as part of her father's senatorial camping - which is running on a family values platform. 

Until the day Colby finds out a big secret about her father -that he's having an affair with another woman - and the Feds come knocking around, inquiring about where the money for the campaign is actually coming from. 

In one day, Colby's life is turned upside down with her father leaving and her mother deciding to move them to a small town, where they are taken in by Colby's Aunt and her son Ryan - who really doesn't want them there. 

There, Colby's size swells even more, along with her mother's contempt for her. She gets blamed for everything: the changes in their situation, going from a mansion to a trailer, the lack of money and her father's indifference. And even when Ryan makes a cruel video of Colby struggling to get dressed and said video ends up online, she gets blamed for that too. 

Second Glance: Big Fat Disaster is a mess. 

The tone of the book is all over the place, at first I thought it was going to be about a fat chick getting her groove back and finding her self respect (It wasn't), then I thought it was about Colby finally being accepted by her mother and sisters (Not It), then I thought it was going to be about Colby finding her self and her inner strength in Pine Creek with the help of her cool Bakery owner aunt, and her cousin Ryan -This calls for a Hell to the No! - then it turned dark - bullying, suicides and death, oh my! - and then it was just meh. 

Not a single person in this book was likable or even two dimensional, everyone came off as cruel, annoying, bitter or just stupid. Colby didn't fare any better even though this story was from her perspective. We were supposed to care she had an eating disorder (Binge Eating) and feel for her because her mom was a psycho, but really... she was just as annoying as the rest of them. 

Yet, the worse thing about this book is that EVERYONE FREAKING GETS AWAY WITH IT!
After all the stuff that goes down, things pretty much end where they started, Colby is supposed to be getting some help by then but that was TOO LITTLE TOO LATE, everyone is still sticking to the status quo, and the main relationship dynamics haven't changed one bit - Colby's mom still hates her, her sisters still think she's a waste of space and Colby still cares that they think that. 

Bottom Line: There was one way for this book to work out: For Colby to come out of it triumphantly, or at least with a bit of strength or hope, but this just doesn't happen - I'm not convinced she's going to be OK by the end, either. I don't mean question or demean the author's intent or her experiences -from the author's note I gather some of the stuff (or at least the inspiration for the book) came from real-life events - but her execution does more harm than good. 

No Stars for this one. 

February 13, 2014

Book Review: The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

The Deal: Carrie West is happy but restless. She loves her life working as a librarian, having a nice group of friends and a good relationship with her parents, but there is something that makes her stay up all hours of the night, reading personal adds and hunting down furniture online. 

One night she comes across a different add: Just Kissing - on Wednesdays. She has never answered any of these adds before - it's not even why she reads them - but the idea of meeting with someone just to kiss one lunch hour a week, is too tempting to resist. 

So, she starts meeting Brian at a park near both their works. Brian is  too handsome and so nice; and from the first moment there is a great amount of chemistry between them. But Brian isn't looking for a relationship, for reasons he won't explain, there is no room in his life for anything other than kissing. 

But Carrie is determined to not be just another Wednesday. 

My Thoughts: I don't know who brought The Story Guy into my radar but I know I've been meaning to read it for a while. 

As a novella, I think it works okay, I also think this would have benefitted for a little more page-time, since I felt some things were kind of very rushed. A lot of it has to do with the pace, it goes very fast and I normally love that, but I felt like this story need to stop a little toward the end, take a breath and process things a little, instead of just keep going in high gear until the end. 

Both Carrie and Brian are likable, and I was actually presently surprised by how vivid Carrie's world was giving the short page time, but you do get a good sense of her life. 

All in all, I do recommend The Story Guy, it was a good read, sometimes got a little steamy, I just wish it had been just a little bit longer. 

February 8, 2014

Book Review: This is Now by Maggie Gilbert

The Deal: No one really expects much of Jess other than falling in line and get back together with her drug-dealer ex, and get over her dreams of finishing high school (She can't imagine what her siblings would say if she let them know she not only wants to finish high school but also go to college someday). 

But Jess wants more for herself, even if that other life is all she has ever know, but she's also easily distracted by parties and clubbing with friends and drinking - which usually leads her back to her ex's bed, even if he's currently dating someone else - so her progress is rather slow. 

And then she meets Sebastien, a talented musician from a rich family who takes an interest on her, and the two of them soon begin dating. But Jess can't bring herself to tell her about her life or bring him home and she's puzzled that he wants to take it slow between them. 

Still, next to Sebastien, Jess starts to think she really has a shot at a different life, until her past catches up with her. 

My Thoughts: I was actually very excited to read This is Now, last year I read Maggie Gilbert's Riding on Air and I totally loved it, sadly This is Now didn't live up to it. 

To start with, is not always easy to empathize with Jess - she kind of shoots herself in the foot a few times, and she often comes off as lacking a backbone. Her one redeeming quality for me was that she was a hard worker, but half of the time I didn't feel like she took her dreams seriously. 

Then there is Sebastien, who comes of a bit snobbish more often than not, he is not necessarily a bad sort but I just didn't find the swoon factor with him. 

The rest of the characters weren't all that great either, they fade largely to the background and when they show up it's usually just to bring/keep Jess down. 

Also, this is one of those "what? no grovel?" books. Sebastien does something really crappy to Jess toward the end and I was not happy with how that was handled. 


February 6, 2014

Book Review: The Bride Says No by Cathy Maxwell

The Deal:  Lady Aileen once left for London with stars in her eyes and dreams of falling in love, even though it hurt her to leave her ten 12-year-old sister Tara behind in Scotland. Nine years later, with a disastrous marriage and an scandalous divorce in her past, Aline is just glad she was allowed to stay at her family's estate and that most of the town still likes her, scandal and all.

She is full of regrets though, regrets that she was so naive, that she caused such a scandal, and that her once close relationship with Tara is now practically non-existent, she's not even invited to Tara's wedding.

But when Tara arrives suddenly at the estate, dressed in boys clothes and having ran off on her fiancé days before the wedding, things start to take wild turns. Tara is a bit spoiled and selfish and hasn't forgiven aline for living her behind all those years ago.

And then Blake Stephens, Tara's fiancés show up. The acknowledged bastard son of a Duke, Blake has worked hard for everything he has and has become very wealthy in his own right. He doesn't have any great feelings for Tara but he'll be dammed if he'll be jilted.

Until he meets Aileen...

My Thoughts: Cathy Maxwell is one of those authors I quietly love, I don't follow all of her releases and but I have read most of her books and I generally enjoy them.

So, when I heard of her new series The Brides of Wishmore, I decided to give it a try as it sounded interesting and I do love me a good forbidden lovers romance - I think that it's one of the best plots if the author has the chops to pull it off - and I'm happy to say that The Bride Says No didn't disappoint.

It wasn't exactly like I thought it would be but I didn't mind, I still liked Aileen and Blake a lot - I found them quite honest given the circumstances - and the whole story had an over-all lighthearted feeling.

Tara was really hard to like, she is very childish and selfish, but I'm totally willing to give it a try to her book The Bride Says Maybe.

All in all, I do recommend this read if you're looking for some fluff with a bit of angst thrown in.

February 3, 2014

Book Review: Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil

Aussie and Kindle Cover. Love it!
 At First Sight: Sam is a bit of a nerd and he's fine with that: he has a few really good friends, an encyclopedic knowledge of movies (particularly horror ones), and is counting the days so he'll finally be free of the teasing and bulling of the popular crowd of his school. 

He's prepared to keep his head down and avoid his nemesis - Justin - until graduation; even when his first day of Year 12 wasn't great. 

And then a new girl arrived at his school, tilting the fabric of his universe. Camilla is cool but not conceited, she tries and joins many clubs and quickly becomes widely popular, but she's also super nice to Sam and his friends Mike, Adrian and Allison, often pulling them along when she hangs with the popular crowd. 
US Hardcover

Camilla is smart and funny and a little quirky, and determined to make Sam and his group part of her life, even if he isn't sure why.

Second Glance: I'm being a little bit vague with the summary for Life in Outer Space because I really do wish people would read this book and be happily surprised by all the awesome and sweet things that this book is.

I loved Sam, he was adorable and I totally commend the author for making his a very strong and distinct boy-voice without resorting to cursing or crude behavior and even when he goes over the top, he's sweet and I love the relationship he has with his mom. He was wonderfully tridimensional.

I also loved his friends, particularly Mike and Adrian - they were a bit in the margins of the story but always in Sam's mind and I felt like I really got to know them. It also made tons of sense to me that I didn't get to know Allison as much because Sam didn't know a lot of how her mind worked either.

But, mostly, I loved Camilla. When she first showed up I kept saying "Please don't turn into a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, please don't turn into a MPDG" over and over inside of my head. And she didn't! That alone elevated this book to a whole new level for me. She was as well developed a character as Sam, even if she was more of a mystery.

There were some things that I didn't like all the way through - would have liked more depth on Camilla's relationship with her dad, and sometimes Sam drove me a little nuts - but I understand why those things happened, so they didn't bothered me as much as they would have otherwise.

And though I loved the Melbourne setting, I think it could have been fleshed out a little more. 

Bottom Line: I absolutely loved Life in Outer Space, it was a great reading experience and I totally want to thank the Vegan YA Nerds for turning me to this wonderful book. There should be more Contemporary YA like this. 
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