Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monthly Summery: October 2010

I was feeling a bit discouraged about my progress of reading on my challenges, and I saw this type of thing on a couple of different blogs in different forms.  I thought it might help me feel a bit better about my accomplishments in reading this month.   I can't believe it's almost November.  Where did the year go?

Books Read (and linked to reviews):

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy
The Snow Bride - Debbie Macomber
Sooner or Later - Debbie Macomber
The Inn at Eagle Point (Chesapeake Shores, 1) - Sherryl Woods
Flowers on Main (Chesapeake Shores, 2) - Sherryl Woods
Harbor Lights (Chesapeake Shores, 3) - Sherryl Woods
She's Gone Country - Jane Porter
Evermore (The Immortals, 1) - Alyson Noel
Twenty Wishes (Blossom Street, 5) - Debbie Macomber
On the Steamy Side (Recipes for Love, 2) - Louisa Edwards
Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan, 1) - Kathy Deichs
The Sparkling One (Marcelli, 1) - Susan Mallery
Under Her Skin (Lone Star Sisters, 1) - Susan Mallery
A Whole New Light - Sandra Brown
One Reckless Summer (Destiny, 1) - Toni Blake
Masquerade (Blue Bloods, 2) - Melissa De La Cruz
The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen

Well, I guess I didn't simply waste the month away sleeping.  :)   As I sort of consider this my first month of dedicated blogging and reading, I am excited to see so much accomplished.  Thanks to my followers and to all other book bloggers out there as you guys have encouraged me and helped renew and grow my love of reading.  My Goodreads TBR list is over 350 books, all of which I'm excited about.  Hows that for having something to do.

Masquerade

Masquerade - Melissa De La Cruz
305 pages
Rating: 3.5/5
Schuyler Van Alen is starting to get more comfortable with her newfound vampire powers, but she still has many unanswered questions. A trip to Italy in search of her grandfather only serves to make things more confusing. What secrets are the leaders of The Committee hiding? Meanwhile, back in New York, preparations are feverishly underway for the famous Four Hundred Ball. In true Blue Blood fashion, the ball is totally fab, complete with masks, and hidden behind this masquerade is a revelation that will change the course of a young vampire's destiny.

The thrilling sequel in Melissa de la Cruz's vampire mythology has all the glamour, attitude, and vampire lore that made the first book a hit. 

My Thoughts:
Oh my gosh!  That about sums up my entire thought process for at least 5 minutes after finishing this book tonight.  I couldn't even form a complete sentence.  Now that I've taken Bennett outside, had a KitKat, and am jamming to some music, let's see if I can form a complete thought about this book.

First of all, I had to use this cover instead of the one I had simply because I like it better.  The one that is on my hardback book freaks me out just a tad, plus it almost seems to me like it was made too big on a computer - but that's just a personal pet peeve.

I really wanted to give this book a 4.  Honest.  When I finished it, (once I was able to actually form a thought) I went on to Amazon to see how much the next book is (and if I could fit it into my budget).  But I have to say that once again, I was disappointed in the writing.  But kudos to De La Cruz, because she's taken an awesome story and made it into a long book series.  The story's so great that I don't even care about the writing, I will be finishing the series.  But I just cannot give it a 4/5 and put it on the level of Harry Potter, Perfect Chemistry, Middlesex, and Wuthering Heights.

Side note on ratings: Can I just say that I hate rating books?  I despise it.  I feel that my rating system should be something like a 1-100.  Because how can I rate several books as 3/5s when they are so different and have so many different good qualities?  It has become a real struggle for me as a reviewer to give ratings.  I hope I at least explain my ratings enough that those who read my reviews can see if they would like a book or not.  I'm working on a page explaining my rating system, partly because I see myself as a really hard rater and partly because it is so opinionated.  It just frustrates me.  That being said, I really struggled on a rating for this book.  But I feel that all the books I give ratings to should be equal on a level of greatness, even if the way they reach that greatness is different.  Anyway, back to Masquerade.

I decided to divide my review into the different aspects of the book.  First: the Characters - I felt that the characters should have been more developed.  De La Cruz included parts of the novel from many different characters: Schulyer, Mimi, Jack, Bliss, Lawrence, etc.  But I felt that if she had focused on the story being from two or three main characters with more development about each of them, it would have been better.  I just did not really connect with any of them.  And I almost made feelings, emotions, and back-stories for the characters in my mind.  I felt that there could have been a whole lot more detail into each of the characters and their lives.

The Plot/Story:  Awesome story!  I would give 6/5 stars for this story.  It's incredible to me.  I love the concept.  I love the idea of vampires being fallen angels.  I love Gabrielle and the idea that she chose to fall with the vampires in order to help save them.  I love it.  I cannot praise this plot enough.  It's great!  It's fast paced, has enough twists that I still have no clue what's going on, but it's not confusing enough that I don't want to follow it anymore.  The writing could be horrible, the book could be in a different language, I could have to pay large amounts of money - it doesn't matter.  I will finish this series simply because of the story.  It's great.

The Writing:  I'm sorry, but I was not impressed with the writing and the way the book is laid out.  It seems choppy.  The storyline seems to jump from one character to another.  I felt that with details added in the right places - this book could have gone so much farther.  I was excited to find that the designer references that frequented the first novel were contained.  But I got a lot more of a feel for rich society than I did in the first one.  But when it came to the writing, I wanted more.  I wanted more detail and more insight into the story.  I was so excited about the masquerade ball - but (sorry if this is a spoiler) there was only like three chapters on it.  It seemed like it was suddenly there and suddenly over.  I just did not get the significance from the event that I felt I should.  And I felt that way about several things that happened in the book.  I didn't get the significance or detail that I was wanting.  It almost makes me want to take her story and write books of my own the way I think they should be written.

That being said, I can't wait to get the next book.  I hope that the writing is better and that the detail I crave will be in the places I want it to be, but this story can only get better.  I am really excited to see what happens.  I gave this novel a 3.5/5, even though I hate .5 ratings.  I felt that it was better than the first one (which I gave a 3/5).  But not completely up to par for a 4 rating.  So 3.5.  I would recommend it to any Twilight lovers and YA paranormal lovers.  Read it.  Look beyond the writing, and you'll love it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On the Steamy Side

On the Steamy Side (Recipe for Love)
On the Steamy Side - Louisa Edwards
336 pages
Rating: 2/5
When Lilah Jane Tunkle fled her dull life in Virginia for the bright lights of New York City, she didn’t expect to wind up a nanny to a gorgeous celebrity chef’s ten-year-old son. Working for the delectable Devon Sparks is a sure-fire recipe for disaster, especially after Lilah gets a tantalizing taste of his perfectly seasoned kisses …

Devon’s not sure he can handle one more surprise ingredient in his life—he quit his popular TV show, his culinary reputation is on the line, and now the son he barely knows is back for seconds. Lilah’s Southern sass is supposed to keep the boy in line, but soon enough she’s teaching Devon a thing or two about homespun food…and turning up the heat.
 My Thoughts:
 I bought this book on my kindle for the Dewey's Read-a-thon.  The third book in the series, Just One Taste, was recommended by a friend.  I was so excited about a cooking romance series that I spent at least 20 minutes trying to decide which one I would buy.  I settled on On the Steamy Side due to the description.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

I'm not sure if I did not enjoy this novel because I was expecting too much or if I actually just didn't like it.  But either way, I didn't enjoy reading it at all.  I found myself skimming many parts, just so I could get to the end.  I did not connect with any of the characters.  I found both main characters annoying and frustrating.  There was a side story that I had no clue why it was put in.  And I felt that most of the language and kitchen scenes were put in only for effect.  Edwards tried to re-create a kitchen atmosphere in which the chefs were hardcore and rough around the edges.  But instead, it just seemed almost vulgar to me at times.

Lilah was supposed to be a character who came to New York after being the good-small-town-girl.  I got the idea that this story was supposed to be out-of-character for her; but because I never really got who she was at the beginning, it did not seem realistic to me.  Being a Southern girl myself, I did not get the Southern charm from her either.  Instead, she seemed a little too small-town for me.  Perhaps it was because Edwards spent a lot of time on Devon insulting her and then did not add much detail to the story when they actually became friends and worked together.  And Devon, to me, just seemed like a jerk.  I never really understood his character beyond him being an ass.  Even towards the end when he connects with his son, it seemed so out of character for him that it didn't make sense to me.

Ultimately, I didn't really enjoy the novel so I gave it a 2/5.  I finished because I wanted to see how the characters ended up, but I probably will think twice before picking up another one of Edwards' books.  I would only recommend it to those who aren't phased by language and only want a quick romance fix.

Findings of Note (6)

Saturday Situation is a weekly meme hosted by Lori at Pure Imagination and Candace at Candace's Book Blog.  They link up reviews and giveaways each Saturday.  I link to it as well as include my findings of note: new books I've added to my TBR pile and fun blogs I've found during browsing.

Books of Note:

13 to Life 
13 to Life - Shannon Delany
Something strange is stalking the small town of Junction…

When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort.

The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide--secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early.
I found this book while browsing through the different blogs I follow.  Jessica at Confessions of a Bookaholic hosted an author interview by this debut author.  The book cover looked so great, and the description sounded even better.  Needless to say, I can't wait to get my hands on this book.  Even though I am a bit tired of paranormal, this book reached beyond that "eh... another paranormal" attitude and excited me.  Check it out!

Dreaming Anastasia: A Novel of Love, Magic, and the Power of Dreams 
Dreaming Anastasia - Joy Preble
What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?
Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…
I found this book through the Crossroads Tour which Jessica at Confessions of a Bookaholic took part in.  She hosted an author interview with Joy Preble.  The interview and description of this novel just had me!  It sounds wonderful, and I can't wait to read it.  Though my TBR list is growing rapidly, I still keep finding more and more books to be excited about.  I guess that's part of what I love about this book world.

Beautiful Creatures
Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
I think there has been a lot of chatter about these books, but I just recently found them.  (I know, I'm slow on the uptake.)  This book is the first in the series the Chaster Chronicles.  Lori at Pure Imagination reviewed both Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness.  I love it when the first in the series is great, but when the series continues to be great, sign me up!  

Blogs of Note:

This week I had the chance to browse around some new blogs.  One of which is going to be a challenge I will take part it.  I thought I would share them with you.

The Christmas Reading Challenge (a little self-explanatory) is a blog written by Sanna, who started this challenge, and will document her reading through Christmas books.  I happen to love Christmas, so I'm excited to take part in this challenge.  I probably will not only read Christmas books during this season (I have so many other books to read!), but I have started a list of books that I will definitely read during December to celebrate the Christmas Season.



Nice Girls Read Books is a blog hosted by Brittany, an Australian book lover.  I found her through the Book Blog Hop last week, and I have been excitedly reading her blog almost religiously recently.  She reviews great books, hosts author interviews, and hosts giveaways. 

Giveaways:

Because Saturday Situation in itself is a way to highlight giveaways and awesome blogs, I only post about giveaways I'm super excited about.  Jessica at  Confessions of a Bookaholic and Lisa at A Life Bound by Books have been hosting Haunted Halloween all October.  But as Haunted Halloween is wrapping up, I wanted to highlight one more awesome giveaway.  Jessica hosted Simone Elkeles today, and she is giving away a signed copy of Perfect ChemistryPerfect Chemistry happens to be one of my favorite young adult novels of this year!  I loved the book (my review from a mini-challenge), and consequently I am an all time fan of Simone Elkeles.  I will automatically recommend anything she writes.  Even though I already have an ecopy of Perfect Chemistry, I had to enter the giveaway because it's signed!  But, being the nice person that I am, I want you guys to know about this awesome book as well so you can have a chance to win and read it as well.  So go, go, go sign up!

A Whole New Light

A Whole New Light
A Whole New Light - Sandra Brown
212 pages
Rating: 3/5

Cyn McCall knew she could always count on her late husband's friend and business partner, Worth Lansing. He could make her laugh and forget her problems. She could tease him about his many romantic entanglements. The last thing Cyn expected was to find herself longing for a man who could never settle down.
My Thoughts:
This book was my first from author Sandra Brown.  And I was pleasantly pleased to have found a new romance author.  This novel was a light-hearted romance that I finished in a couple of hours.  It did not have any major weight of issues within, and it provided a great escape into a fun story.

The basic story revolves around Cyn and Worth, best friends from college back when Cyn was dating, then married, Worth's best friend Tim.  The three friends seemed to do everything together, and Cyn and Worth's friendship continued on and grew stronger after Tim's death.  When Worth convinces Cyn to take a spontaneous trip with him to Mexico (originally a romantic weekend planned by one of the many girlfriends), they start seeing each other as "the opposite sex" instead of "my best friend."  The book covers their trip to Mexico and how their relationship changes once they are back.

I enjoyed this fun romance.  It was a fun read and exactly the light-hearted escape that I was looking for.  Brown did not go very far into the emotional issues that could have been present (death, mourning, moving on, etc.).  Instead, the book is humorous and fun.  The characters are basically developed, but I did not feel a great emotional connection with them.  I read the book fast, and I did not spend a whole lot of time analyzing character development or plot twists.  The book is mostly driven by the storyline and the humor between the two main characters.  The plot is predictable, but the enjoyment of reading is present in how the characters come to their senses.

I gave it a 3/5 because I enjoyed it, but like many other fun romances, there was nothing spectacular to stand out.  It was fun, I laughed, but I may not remember the basic plot in 10 years.  I recommend it to all chick-lit and romance readers who are looking for a fun and laugh-filled couple of hours.

Friday, October 29, 2010

One Reckless Summer

One Reckless Summer: A Destiny Novel
One Reckless Summer - Toni Blake
370 pages
Rating: 2/5
The perfect daughter. The perfect prom queen. The perfect wife.

Jenny Tolliver's been the good girl all her life, and it's gotten her nowhere. Now that her marriage has been busted up by her cheating ex, she's decided it's time to regroup and rediscover herself. This summer she's headed back to her hometown of Destiny, Ohio, to the very lakeshore cottage where she grew up, to figure out what life holds in store for her next.

She never dreamed the answer would be Mick Brody, Destiny's #1 hellraiser. He comes from the wrong side of the tracks (or in his case, the lake), and he's landed in hot water more times than he can count. He's exactly the kind of guy Jenny's always kept her distance from . . . but soon the good girl and the bad boy are caught in a raw heat that's out of control. Too bad Mick's got a secret that threatens to tear them apart and ruin Jenny's perfectly, passionately reckless summer . . .

My Thoughts:
I really debated reviewing this novel, mostly because I hate giving a bad review.  The last thing I want to do is be mean, especially when I have no idea who reads the words I write.  But I decided that for better or worse, these are my thoughts, my opinions.  And just as I want to encourage others to read great books, I hope to steer people in the direction of books they will like.  And if I did not like a book, there might be someone else like me who will want to spend their time on a novel they will enjoy more.  So here it goes.

I had a hard time finishing this novel.  To be honest, I almost put it down and never picked it back up.  But about midway through, I got in the mood for a light romance and decided to finish it just for the heck of it.  But this is one book that I probably won't recommend to many people.  I found the characters teenager-ish, the plot predictable, and the romance mostly about chemistry.  The basic story is about a new divorcee, but she and her friends constantly act like hormone-crazed teenagers.  I never truly connected with any of them.  I can understand the idea of being frustrated with being the good girl, especially right after you get screwed over.  But I found it unrealistic that an adult would spend an entire summer doing nothing but messing around with the boy-across-the-lake and giggling about it with her best friend.  And she is supposed to care about Mick, but she ends up sharing his deepest secret that could really mess up his life and it's like "oops, I totally forgot I wasn't supposed to tell!"  It mostly annoyed me, and I spent half the book going, "really?!"

Ultimately, it's a cute story, but there really isn't much to it.  If you take the book as a fun summer read and forget that these are supposed to be adults, it's a fun read.  I read one blogger who said this about another book, but I thought it was appropriate, "If the library doesn't have it, don't bother."  I would only recommend it for those who are looking for mindless fun or a completely unrealistic beach read.

Book Blogger Hop Friday (2)

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books each weekend.  It runs Friday through Monday and is a great way for book bloggers to connect, find new blogs to read, and get to know each other.  There is a Mr. Linky posted at here, and over 200 blogs post each weekend.

What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?

I have to say that mine would be my Kindle.  I'm fortunate to be able to have it.  But I debated for months on whether or not to buy my kindle because it was expensive for me at the time.  And I was not sure that it would be worth it in the long run.  I have to admit that I was so wrong.  I am still excited that I bought it, and I consider it one of my favorite bookish things.  :)  I love the ease I can read while at work, on the treadmill, or anywhere.  My kindle fits perfectly into my purse, and I take it (or the latest paperback) with me wherever I go.  It's perfect for my indecisiveness when picking the next book because I have a selection.  No more packing five or more books to go with me when I travel.  I just pack my kindle.  A purchase well worth it. 

Enquiring Minds Want to Know (4)

Each week Dollycas's Thoughts hosts the meme "Enquiring Minds Want to Know."  She posts questions for us to answer each week in order for us bloggers and readers to get to know each other beyond our books.  She's decided to make it a weekend long meme so that those of us who get busy with life can also participate.  Check out her and others answers here.

This week's questions:

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY?
    My favorite holiday would have to be Christmas.  I love wrapping presents, making Christmas cookies, and cold weather - all of which speak "Christmas season" to me.  I happen to love buying presents for people.  I love picking out the right gift, figuring out the perfect wrapping, and waiting until Christmas day to see them open it.  This year will be interesting as it is my first Christmas on my own, and it will be my first Christmas by myself as well.  As a nurse, I will have to work either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  But I am excited to celebrate Christmas with my friends and family whether it is on the day or in the next month.  :)

     ARE YOU DRESSING UP FOR HALLOWEEN? IF YES, AS WHAT?
      I am not dressing up for Halloween this year.  Halloween is actually my least favorite holiday, and I don't have any place to go this year with a costume.  But I am a little excited that I might actually get trick-or-treaters this year.  I still have to pick up some candy, just in case.

      IF YOU HAVE KIDS ARE THEY DRESSING UP? AGAIN IF YES, WHAT ARE THEY DRESSING UP AS?

      I don't have kids.  But I happen to have an adorable puppy dog.  And, sad as it might be, I have a Halloween costume for Bennett.  I was in Target the other day, and I found the cutest Bumble Bee outfit for him.  He may wear it all of ten minutes, but I couldn't resist.  It's so adorable.  And I figured that if I do get trick-or-treaters, he would be the perfect welcome to my door, especially in his yellow-and-black outfit.

        Tuesday, October 26, 2010

        Fall Into Reading: Questions (3)





         Callapidder Days is currently hosting the Fall Into Reading Challenge.  It is a self-set challenge in that each participant sets a goal for his/herself of the number of books to read during the fall season (Sept. 22-Dec. 20).  Then the participants post about the novels and progress as much or little as they want with a wrap-up post at the end.  Callapidder Days also hosts a weekly question about Fall Into Reading, as another way for us to connect and such.

        This week's question: When you read a book, do you read EVERYTHING? In other words, do you read the dedication, the acknowledgements, the foreword, the afterword, the prologue, the epilogue, the appendices, etc.? Or do you just read the “meat” of the book? Or is your approach somewhere in between?

        I have to admit that what I read depends on my mood at the time.  A lot of times I read the dedication and the meat of the book.  I hate reading the Table of Contents because it almost ruins the book for me.  (Just like on Netflix I can't read the episode descriptions - to makes me not want to watch the episodes.  Or like how I don't like to watch the movies before I read the books, because then I won't read the books.  I just like not knowing what's going to happen).  I always read the prologue and epilogue.  I never have really thought that wasn't part of the meat of the book.  But sometimes I skip the dedication and acknowledgments because I can't wait to get into the book.  Other times I just want the book to be over, so I even skim the meat of the book.  Just depends on the mood and level of patience I have at the time.   Hm... so interesting to see how others read books.  I guess you could say that I read somewhere in between.


        Books Read so Far:
        1. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baronnes Emmuska Orczy (review)
        2. Sooner or Later - Debbie Macomber
        3. Evermore - Alysson Noel (review)
        4. The Snow Bride - Debbie Macomber (review)
        5. The Inn at Eagle Point - Sherryl Woods (review)
        6. Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods
        7. She's Gone Country - Jane Porter (review)
        8. Twenty Wishes - Debbie Macomber (review)
        9. Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs (review)
        10. The Sparkling One - Susan Mallery (review)
        11. Under Her Skin - Susan Mallery (review)

        Bonus: (i.e. books not on my list, but that I've finished reading in this time period)
        1. Flowers on Main - Sherryl Woods
        2. On the Steamy Side - Louisa Edwards

        Progress: 11 down, 39 to go

        And just for fun: Bennett's celebrating October and Halloween!
        I realize he's a dog and all - but I don't have kids, so I have fun with my puppy.  Plus, it helps keep him warm.  And isn't he cute?!

        His shirt even glows in the dark!

        Under Her Skin

        Under Her Skin (Lone Star Sisters)
        Under Her Skin - Susan Mallery
        328 pages
        Rating: 3.5/5
        Heiress Engaged To Marry Playboy! 
        Lexi Titan can just see the headlines. All of Titanville will be buzzing. Not that she has any other choice. Faced with exactly thirty days to come up with two million dollars, she is out of options. Marry Cruz Rodriguez or lose everything — the successful day spa she built herself, her tyrant of a father's respect. And the long-standing competition with her sisters for the family business.

        Cruz has money, success, smoldering good looks — everything but the blue blood needed to become a true member of Texas society. If Lexi agrees to be his fiancée for six months, lending him her famous father's influence and connections, he'll hand her a check on the spot. And in six months they'll go their separate ways.

        But neither one is prepared for their long-ago shared passion to throw a wrench into what would seem to be the perfect deal...


        My Thoughts:
        After my first Susan Mallery read (The Sparkling One), I have to admit that I was not expecting much from this book.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I read this book in one afternoon, and I enjoyed it.  I would by far recommend it to read first if you have never read Susan Mallery.  I gained more respect for her writing and character development in this book than I did in the other one.

        This book is the first in the Lone Star Sisters series.  It is based on three sisters, daughters of Jed Titan (a hardass father if I've ever seen one).  Basically the sisters are good friends with life being pretty good despite the jerk-moves of their father, then he pulls a surprise on them by telling them that he will only give ONE of them his inheritance (and not divide it up).  So it puts the sisters into competition to be the heiress.  Despite them being good friends, it makes for lots of conflict.  Lexi Titan (the oldest) wants the company.  Skye Titan wants the house and plantation.  Izzy Titan wants who knows what (I did not really pay attention to her as a character, sorry).

        Anyway, Lexi started her own company as a way to prove she's worth something to her father.  She ends up making a bad decision in a re-callable loan, and she needs 2 million dollars quick.  So she makes a deal for a fake, six month engagement to Cruz, a wealthy man from the wrong side of the tracks that wants to get into society.  The book is mainly about how they fall in love, with a subplot about who recalled the loan and such.

        I was pleasantly surprised in the middle of the book by a curve in the plot.  I won't go into detail because I don't want to ruin it for you, but it made the book better in my eyes.  This curve in the plot shows deeper character development and really made me actually feel the romance between the two characters.  Instead of boy-meets-girl-then-they-fall-in-love plot, the book actually had substance, arguments between the characters, and showed how falling in love and being a couple can be complicated in that combining-two-lives-into-one idea.  I enjoyed reading about the tension and love between Lexi and Cruz, and I loved both characters.

        There were other characters that I found flat and lacking, which made me only give the book a 3.5.  Izzy, the youngest sister, I found annoying and I often wanted to just hit her over the head and be like "Really!  Grow up!"  I'm the youngest of four and if I ever acted like that, I'm so sorry and will send immediate apologies to all of my siblings.  Jed Titan I found to be a total ass of a father.  I'm not sure if Mallery just wanted to make him a cold-hearted jerk, or if there is actually a reason he is that way.  But I found it just a little hard to believe that a father would be so cold and incredibly mean to his daughters. 

        Ultimately, I enjoyed this novel.  It restored my faith in Susan Mallery, and I will probably get the next book in the series to see how things end up.  There were good and bad parts to the book.  But the writing and characters of the main story were very enjoyable, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys chick lit and romance.

        Monday, October 25, 2010

        What are you reading Monday? (2)

        "It's Monday, What are you reading?" is hosted by One Person's Journey through a World of Books.  "In My Mailbox" is created by Kristi at The Story Siren.  I use a little bit of both.

        Books Finished this Week:
        Deja Dead
        The Sparkling One
        Under Her Skin (review coming soon)

        Books to Read:
        Masquerade (Blue Bloods, 2) - Melissa De La Cruz
        One Reckless Summer (Destiny, 1) - Toni Blake
        The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen

        Reviews to Finish:
        Under Her Skin - Susan Mallery
        Flowers on Main - Sherryl Woods
        Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods

        What are you guys reading this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading!

        Sunday, October 24, 2010

        One Lovely Blog Award

        So in the past month, I was nominated for this award by both Kimberly from In the Outhouse and Tiffany from A Cozy Reader's Corner.  I want to say an INCREDIBLE THANK YOU from those two.   I am so honored and surprised to be nominated.  I apologize for the delayed response.  Life has been crazy.  But here's how it works:
        Rules:
        1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
        2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
        3. Contact those blog owners and let them know that they've been chosen.

        First, I had a hard time finding blogs who haven't already been nominated!  And once I started on the search for some new fun blogs, oh my!  Here are my picks:

        1. Brittany at Nice Girls Read Books
        2. Jennie at Life is short. Read Fast.
        3. Looksie Lovitz at Looksie Lovitz: Books and Wit
        4. Amy at My Overstuffed Bookshelf
        5. Crystal at My Reading Room
        6. Katelyn at The Bookshelf Sophisticate
        7. Jen at The Introverted Reader
        8. April at Good Books and Good Wine
        9. Readerbuzz
        10. Jen at Books from the Addict

        Thanks again, Tiffany and Kimberly!

        The Sparkling One

        The Sparkling One (The Marcelli Sisters of Pleasure Road, Book 1)
        The Sparkling One - Susan Mallery
        326 pages
        Rating: 3/5

        Goodreads Blurb:
        A party planner extraordinaire, Katie Marcelli loves her big, boisterous family -- even when their chronic matchmaking drives her crazy! In the Marcelli household, fine wine and good food are as celebrated as true love, so when her eighteen-year-old sister announces her engagement, Katie promises her the perfect wedding. There's only one hitch: the father of the groom, Zach Stryker, who is adamantly opposed to his son marrying so young. Now, despite her instant attraction to the handsome, arrogant attorney, Katie must approach with caution: Zach, who hired Katie for a major fund-raiser, holds the fate of her business in his hands -- and how can she trust a man who is willing to break her sister's heart? It will take a passionate battle of wills to determine if wedding bells will ring for a Marcelli bride, and to unlock the deepest desires -- for family, love, and home -- inside a strong-willed man's heart. 

        My Thoughts:
        I received this book in a Goodreads swap.  I picked it out among many different books partly because I wanted a lower shipping rate and partly because I could not resist getting more books (I'm a book junkie - what can I say?).  It is the first book in the Marcelli Sisters series surrounding a family of four sisters raised in a strong Italian family on a winery.  

        I loved the concept of family in this book.  The entire family is present, the grandparents having lots of say in decisions, and home being a place of safety and love.  I also enjoyed the romance between Zach and Katie, as it was fun to read about a secret-but-not-so-secret love between them.

        That being said, I found several of the characters flat in this novel.  I got sort of confused at different stories of the characters, and I felt that some of the side stories were a little out of place.  I also did not really feel all of the family atmosphere.  I love the idea of an Italian family raised around the winery - grandparents, parents, siblings all involved in each other's lives.  But I found the parents to be almost non-existent, and I did not even remember their names until the middle of the book.  I kept going, "Now who is Colleen again?"  And I did not get any of the family dynamics that would be present in such a large family.  The story shifted from being told from several different point of views, but I never felt that I knew the characters very well.

        I also was a bit disappointed in the character Zack and his stance on Katie.  Perhaps it is simply because I dislike men who are so arrogant and always get their ways, but he kind of drove me nuts.  I kept hoping for Katie to make him pull out all of the stops to romance her.  Instead, she seemed to fall at his feet right on time.  That always irritates me.  I also found it unrealistic that Katie is dating her sister's soon-to-be father-in-law and there is no conflict when Mia and David find out.  I think it would be just a tad weird to find out that your father is dating your soon-to-be sister-in-law and you not have at least a minor freak-out.  Maybe that comes in the next books, but it just seemed that the ending was a bit too sweet and wrapped up all nicely.

        Ultimately, I enjoyed this book but found it a little lacking in depth.  It was a great romance and a fun light-hearted romance.  I recommend it to those who are looking for a light read without much emotional investment.  I enjoyed reading it and am not sorry I did, but I probably will not read it again.  Hence the rating 3/5.  It was my first Susan Mallery novel, and I might pick up the next book in the series to see if I am less disappointed by that one.

        Saturday, October 23, 2010

        Findings of Note (5)

         Saturday Situation is a weekly meme hosted by Lori at Pure Imagination and Candace at Candace's Book Blog.  They link up reviews and giveaways each Saturday.  I link to it as well as include my findings of note: new books I've added to my TBR pile and fun blogs I've found during browsing.

        Books of Note:
        Virgin RiverVirgin River by Robyn Carr

        This book is one I stumbled upon through Debbie's Book Bag who wrote a review about this romance regarding a nurse midwife and an abandoned baby.  Her wonderful review and the author's picture with her beautiful dog had me quickly adding it to my TBR pile on Goodreads.

        Désirée: The Bestselling Story of Napoleon's First LoveDesiree by Annemarie Selinko

        This book was another book I stumbled upon while reading Debbie's Book Bag.  It is a historical fiction novel written from the story of the beginning and making of Napoleon.  It covers Napoleon's first love and includes great French history.  As I do not know much about Napoleon, I am excited to find an interesting novel and great way to learn more about a time period I am ignorant about.  Debbie posted a review on her blog, so if you are interested, go check it out from someone whose read it and see if it's up your alley.

        The Body FinderThe Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

        The Body Finder is a book I found while reading Jessica's Haunted Halloween event.  She hosts an interview with Kimberly Derting and a giveaway of a swag pack from The Body Finder.  It is a young adult fiction novel (Goodreads link) that introduces us to the world of Violet and Jay.  Violet has the ability to feel the echoes the dead have left behind.  It is a mystery and involves crime (my latest kick), so it was instantly added to my TBR pile.  Jessica also reviewed the book, so you guys should go check it out.  She gave it a 5/5 so I'm super excited about it.

        Blogs of Note:
        I decided to forgo my blogs of note this week, because I am working on an award (yah!) post that will be giving the award to several new wonderful blogs I've found.  So check back for when I (finally) get that posted.  

        Hope you have a great reading week - and head over to Saturday Situation to find some great reviews and giveaways. 

        Friday, October 22, 2010

        Deja Dead

        Deja Dead [DEJA DEAD] [Mass Market Paperback]
        Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs
        532 pages
        Rating: 4/5

        Goodreads Blurb:
        In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Tempe detects an alarming pattern -- and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her -- her best friend and her own daughter -- in mortal danger...

        My Thoughts:
        Perhaps I am a little slow on the uptake, as this book already has a tenth anniversary edition, but I don't care.  Maybe there are others like me who are slow in the trending world and have yet to find out about this amazing series.
        I recently got into the TV show Bones.  After I finished nursing school, I found I could not enjoy my once-oh-so-loved medical dramas because they were so unrealistic (and the medical flaws really bug me).  So I went in search of other types of TV shows to watch.  It was then that I found crime TV.  Again, a little slow on the trend, but I have to admit that I love crime TV series.  So far, Bones and Criminal Minds are my favorites, but I'm trying out The Mentalist and others.  I love watching the mysteries, the clues, and figuring out the way these people think.  So, when I heard that Bones was inspired by a book series, I instantly had to get my hands on those books.  I was not disappointed.

        Let me preface this by saying that the TV show is inspired by but not based on the books.  Once you realize that it will not all be the same, you will enjoy it so much more.  I learned to love Tempe and her crazy ways just as much as I love Brennan and Booth.  To me, the only thread that ties the two is their common jobs.  Other than that, the characters are very different.

        I loved this book.  So much so that I am putting off picking my next book to read because I feel that it is sure to be a let down.  I enjoyed reading about the forensics behind the murders and the different ways they followed clues.  I also enjoyed the writing of the character Temperance Brennan.  The book is written in first person (which is not my favorite), but it really worked for this novel.  I especially loved the way the author would write about Tempe's thoughts, not in an it's-all-written-in-italics-way, but in a way that I could imagine her journal writings would be.  She provides insight in the right places, and the character even gets on to herself at some points.  I enjoyed that because it reminds me of me and the way I think.  The writing seemed realistic in first person, because it was written almost in the pattern of natural thoughts (or at least my natural thoughts).  I really enjoyed it.

        The plot of the novel was great.  Though I foretold part of it, the mystery stays present in that you do not know who the killer is until the end.  Reichs takes small details, and she brings them into play as Tempe investigates them.  Then all the small details are combined at the end when the killer is caught.  Because the novel is told in first person, you are alongside the ride of Tempe as she knows something is wrong but cannot quite figure it out.  It was quite an enjoyable mystery.

        I gave this novel a 4/5 simply because at times I felt that it was a tad too detailed.  I got lost at some points when Reichs was describing the processes to get the evidence and the landmarks around the city.  I have only been to Canada once, so the descriptions of Montreal were completely lost on me.  And I did not want to take time away from reading to try and navigate the map in the front of the novel to figure out where she was going.

        Ultimately, this novel is a great read for anyone who loves mysteries and thrillers.  I would not recommend it for the light-hearted, as it deals with serial killer-stuff and dead bodies.  But those who love crime TV shows and Bones will greatly enjoy fresh plots and good mysteries.  I hope to get the next book in the series very soon!

        Book Blogger Hop Friday (1)

        Book Blogger Hop

        Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books each weekend.  It runs Friday through Monday and is a great way for book bloggers to connect, find new blogs to read, and get to know each other.  There is a Mr. Linky posted at Crazy-for-Books, and over 200 blogs post each weekend.

        This week's question:  Where is your favorite place to read?  Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?

        I wouldn't say that it is my favorite place to read - but the place I read most often is curled up on my couch.  I have some patio furniture that I am wanting to decorate my patio with so I have a comfy place outside - but it is all in the works (I have to put up a fence so Bennett doesn't go exploring).  I plan to make that a comfy spot to read and enjoy the nice weather.  But my couch is comfy, and often times I snuggle in with my quilt, a good book, and my puppy dog and read until I don't feel like reading any more.

        Red Ink Blog Tour


        So I normally save these types of things for Saturday, but I was so excited about this one (and the giveaway) that I decided to post about it early.  Tiffany over at A Cozy Reader's Corner is taking part in the Red Ink 3 Day Blog Tour.  She has excerpts from the book and is also hosting a giveaway.  Red Ink is the third book in Macias's Extreme Devotion series and highlights the faith of a Chinese wife and mother and her commitment to staying loyal and honoring her Lord.  I thought it sounded very interesting and good for those who like Christian fiction.  I added it to my TBR list.  Go check it out.

        Thursday, October 21, 2010

        Enquiring Minds Want to Know (3)

        Each week Lori over at Dollycas's Thoughts hosts the meme Enquiring Minds Want to Know in order for bloggers and readers to get to know each other.  This week, she's doing more of a inventory of thoughts on the meme.  Here's the questions:

        1. Do you ever feel like no one is reading your blog?
        Sheepishly, I have to admit that I do.  I'm a new regular (or attempting to be regular) book blogger, and my confidence is not very secure.  I still have a hard time believing that I have something worth saying.  But it is something that I enjoy and a good way for me to keep up with the books I read as well as write my thoughts on different books.  And, I have to admit, I get really excited about each new follower and (sadly) watch my stats like a hawk.  But, what can I say?  I am a perfectionist and want to know I'm doing well (or not doing well).

        2. Would this meme work better for you it if was offered on a different day?
        Because I'm still relatively new to the blogging world, I still don't have a set schedule of memes and such.  I have picked several that I like, and I am attempting to keep up with those week-to-week.  Time and my work schedule gets in the way sometimes, but I'm working on being consistent.  So this day works great for me, but I would probably follow it just the same if it were on a different day.

        3. Do you think there are already too many similar memes out in the blogosphere and I should stop this one?
        I have noticed several other similar memes, but I liked this one, so I kept to it.  I only follow some blogs regularly, but I have noticed that not all of them have such a meme.  And maybe it's possible like with Blog Hop Friday (which I have seen many blogs participate in many different blog hops) for some people to participate in several.  I'm sure there is room to grow, new blogs to find this meme - so with interesting questions, I still think it could work.

        4. If I were to continue with Enquring Minds, do you have any advice or changes you would like to see?
         I honestly can't think of anything.  Maybe going to two questions would make it easier for busy bloggers to participate, but I've never had any problems answering three questions....  I've enjoyed participating in this meme, even though I haven't been regular.  And if you decide that hosting it is more time and effort than you believe it's worth, I will understand.  But I would probably attempt to find another similar meme - because I like the idea and enjoy hearing other's thoughts on different topics.

        Tuesday, October 19, 2010

        Fall Into Reading: Questions (3)

        Goodness, it has been one crazy week.  I've had a friend's computer die - so I've been without a computer due to mine being on loan.  I am going crazy!  I have never realized how much I depend on my computer to connect with the world, even if it is to just check my email.   But I have been reading some recently, so I'll hopefully have some new reviews and such to post soon.  I'm sorry I dropped off the map for a bit - but I'm back and I hope everyone has had a great week of reading.

        Callapidder Days is currently hosting the Fall Into Reading Challenge.  It is a self-set challenge in that each participant sets a goal for his/herself of the number of books to read during the fall season (Sept. 22-Dec. 20).  Then the participants post about the novels and progress as much or little as they want with a wrap-up post at the end.  Callapidder Days also hosts a weekly question about Fall Into Reading, as another way for us to connect and such.

        This week's question:  Do you ever dog-ear the corners of book pages to mark your spot?  Or are you a faithful bookmark user, refusing to damage the pages of your books?  Or do you have another way to keep track of where you are in a book?

        I have to admit that I am a dog-earer.  The majority of books that I read are mine so if I cannot find a piece of paper or something to keep my spot, I fold down the pages.  But I have to admit that I only fold the top bit.  When I get library books that have half of the page down and there is a crease down the middle of the page, that drives me up the wall.  That being said, when the book is someone else's book or a library book, I definitely use a piece of paper or something to keep track.  I used bookmarks as a child, but I lost them repeatedly so I finally just gave up.  Now I use whatever is handy - receipts, envelops, post-its, my phone, you know - just whatever.  To me, having some of the pages bent and the spine creased makes the book used and unique.  My favorite books are the ones that have been written in and read so many times they are almost falling apart.  I can't stand when my books have been spilled on, but just general wear-and-tear makes me love them all the more.

        My progress:

        My goal this fall is to read 50 books. I have posted the list here, but on these question posts, I also wanted to post something about my progress. I probably will not post a review about all of the books I read, so this is my virtual way of cross these books off of my list.  I did not finish as many as I wanted to this week, but it's a new week with more time for reading.  I'm currently reading Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs, and I'm about half way finished - so a review should be coming soon. 

        Books Read so Far:
        1. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baronnes Emmuska Orczy (review)
        2. Sooner or Later - Debbie Macomber
        3. Evermore - Alysson Noel (review)
        4. The Snow Bride - Debbie Macomber (review)
        5. The Inn at Eagle Point - Sherryl Woods (review)
        6. Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods
        7. She's Gone Country - Jane Porter (review)
        8. Twenty Wishes - Debbie Macomber (review)

        Bonus: (i.e. books not on my list, but that I've finished reading in this time period)
        1. Flowers on Main - Sherryl Woods
        2. On the Steamy Side - Louisa Edwards

        Progress: 8 down, 42 to go
         
        How about everyone else?  How are you progressing on the Fall Into Reading challenge, if you are participating?  How was your reading this week?

        Wednesday, October 13, 2010

        Twenty Wishes

        Twenty Wishes (Blossom Street)
        Twenty Wishes - Debbie Macomber
        360 pages
        Rating: 3/5

        Goodreads Blurb:
        What do you want most in the world?

        Anne Marie Roche wants to find happiness again. At 38 her life's not what she'd expected--she s childless, a recent widow, alone. She owns a successful bookstore on Seattle's Blossom Street, but despite her accomplishments, there's a feeling of emptiness.

        On Valentine's Day, Anne Marie and several other widows get together to celebrate...what? Hope, possibility, the future. They each begin a list of twenty wishes, things they always wanted to do but never did.

        Anne Marie's list starts with: Find one good thing about life. It includes learning to knit, doing good for someone else, falling in love again. She begins to act on her wishes and when she volunteers at a local school, an eight-year-old girl named Ellen enters her life. It s a relationship that becomes far more involving than Anne Marie intended. It also becomes far more important than she ever imagined.

        As Ellen helps Anne Marie complete her list of twenty wishes, they both learn that wishes can come true--but not necessarily in the way you expect.

        As millions of women know, Debbie Macomber understands their lives and writes the stories they want to read.

        My Thoughts:
        This book was my second read of Debbie Macomber's, and I really was pleasantly surprised by how different the two novels were.  At times, I can get in a rut when reading the same author over and over again - and the plots, characters, and endings become predictable.  The two books I read by Macomber were incredibly different, even though they both would be classified as romance.  Sooner or Later was a romantic, action/mystery novel.  Twenty Wishes was both a fun romance and a study of women (or people in general) and how to move on after life does not turn out as you planned.  Macomber writes a sweet commentary on how even though life is full of unexpected events, happiness can be found even if it is not the way we expect.

        I enjoyed reading this novel, and I finished mostly in one afternoon.  I decided to stay awake and read instead of sleep before working tonight.  It was a pleasant book, and I was not able to predict the plot throughout the end.  I laughed with the characters, and I enjoyed getting to know each personality.  This book was the first of the Blossom Series I had read, which is unusual for me.  I really hate reading books out of series, especially because (as with the Chesapeake Shores books by Sherryl Woods) I enjoy continuing my "relationship" with the characters in past novels.  However, I thought this book could have stood alone - and I enjoyed it in that aspect.  Despite sharing the same setting and occasionally seeing other characters from previous novels, the books are hardly connected.

        The description of this novel implies that it will mainly be about Anne Marie and Ellen.  And though they are both significant characters, the story also centers around several other characters: mainly Barbie and Lillie Foster.  A mother/daughter team, Macomber uses the twenty wishes idea in their lives as a way to help them move past their husbands deaths.  I enjoyed the individual stories about all three women and Ellen, sweet eight-year-old that she is.

        I gave this novel a 3/5 because I really enjoyed it, but I found myself wanting a little more in character development.  Though I got to know each character, I did not find myself connecting to any of them.  I enjoyed their stories and laughed at some of the situations, but I honestly did not feel the grief that Anne Marie was feeling or the embarrassment when Barbie tripped and fell on her face. Instead, I read the book more as an observer.  I found it to be a quick, enjoyable story that was generally sweet.  I read it in one afternoon, but I'll probably have to be reminded of the characters to remember specifics in a couple of months.  I recommend it for anyone looking for a light read that is well-written and not cheesy.  It provides good thoughts about life in general and has some great lessons within its pages.

        On a little bit of a different note, I have to say that I will never think of this book without my dog coming into my mind.  The puppy that he is decided that my book would make a nice snack last night.  It's a good thing he's cute because then he would be getting more than a firm "NO!!"  I hope my mom wasn't looking to make a family heirloon of the book.... eek!  Thankfully, she loves her granddog so hopefully she'll forgive his puppy ways.

        Who me?

        Thankfully, Bennett's attention is now on my camera string instead of my book.... such a puppy

        The Inn at Eagle Point

        The Inn At Eagle Point (Chesapeake Shores)
        The Inn at Eagle Point - Sherryl Woods
        394 pages
        Rating: 4/5
        Goodreads Blurb:
         It's been years since Abby O'Brien Winters set foot in Chesapeake Shores. The Maryland town her father built has too many sad memories and Abby too few spare moments, thanks to her demanding Wall Street career, the crumbling of her marriage and energetic twin daughters. Then one panicked phone call from her youngest sister brings her racing back home to protect Jess's dream of renovating the charming Inn at Eagle Point.

        But saving the inn from foreclosure means dealing not only with her own fractured family, but also with Trace Riley, the man Abby left ten years ago. Trace can be a roadblock to her plans…or proof that second chances happen in the most unexpected ways.
        My Thoughts:
         This was my first novel to read from Sherryl Woods.  I have to say that I was not disappointed.  I got this book through Goodreads swap.  I had some books picked out, and then the gal I was getting the books from had over 200 listed so I had to pick some that simply sounded good - to get better shipping rate, of course.  So I saw that she had both The Inn at Eagle Point and Harbor Lights, so I pounced on it.  And, disappointment did not ensue - I am so excited to find a new good author.  Ok, so she's not new - but she's new to me.  

        The Inn at Eagle Point is the first in the Chesapeake Shores series which revolves around the family of O'Briens.  The basic story of the family is that after five kids and basically being a single mom, Megan (the mother) decided to enact a desperate attempt to get her husband's attention by leaving.  Mick (the husband) then decided to be stubborn and not compromise or go after her - ending in a divorce that neither of them really wanted but that they were both too stubborn to admit.  Fifteen years later, their children (Abby, Kevin, Connor, Bree, and Jess) all have family issues to deal with and have scattered from their home in Chesapeake Shores.  The Inn at Eagle Point revolves around Jess and Abby, the youngest and oldest - and how they, together, decide to save Jess's favorite Inn.  By remodeling and renovating it, they work to turn it into a profitable business. The romance of the story centers on Abby and a long-lost love interest Trace, who is acting as the manager of the bank who holds the loan on the inn.

        Though compared to most families, I live in one large, crazy family, I have to say that I would join this one in an instant.  I loved the family dynamics created by Sherryl Woods.  Each character has their own personality, quirks, and sense of humor.  I realize that you are probably saying, "Well, of course Hannah, they are all different characters."  But a lot of times in books with such a large family or a large group of people, the characters either get blurred or the focus is too much on one person or the other, and you don't get the whole picture.  Woods did a great job in not favoring one character in a way that sacrifices the family dynamics.  Having read all three novels, I can say that each one centers on a different sibling in a way that each person adds to the whole family.  And though you do not see all the personalities at once, you get to know each character in the setting that is their family.  Woods builds on the foundation already laid in the beginning books with each "main character" from the previous novels also playing a part in the later books.  In each novel, you have one more sibling coming home to Chesapeake Shores and staying - so the family gets larger, but the dynamics stay the same.  Abby is as much herself in the last novel as she was in the first.  To me, that was so enjoyable because the characters I got to know and love in the first novel were still present in the last one (as opposed to the first novel's main characters only being minor characters later).

        On to Abby and Trace....  I have to say that Sherryl Woods writes a convincing romance.  I enjoyed the concept that these were adults falling in love.  As opposed to a lot of young adult fiction that I read (and enjoy), these were people who have lived life.  They've loved and lost, and they know what love is.  To me, the romance and love made more sense and seemed very realistic.  The characters come with baggage - I mean, in real life, who doesn't have baggage?  But it is that baggage that I could relate to and that made each character a whole person instead of a one-dimensional view of a person.  I loved Abby and Trace - I felt for both of them, and I was routing for them to get together.  The story was just a well-written, fun romance.

        Ultimately, I gave this novel a 4/5 because I loved it!  It was a wonderful romantic comedy that I read in one afternoon.  I had to buy the next book (just in time for the read-a-thon) the next day, as I did not want my interaction with the O'Brien family to end.  I loved the family dynamics, and the comedy that comes from daily interactions and people's quirks.  I believe that if I met this family in the airport, I would be able to pick out who was who and "I've heard so much about you."  It did not deserve a rare 5 from me  I recommend it to anyone who enjoys romantic comedies.  Believe me, it's a whole lot better than the latest chick flick out in theaters.  It's like watching You've Got Mail for the first time.

        Tuesday, October 12, 2010

        The Snow Bride

        The Snow Bride
        The Snow Bride - Debbie Macomber
        234 pages
        Rating: 3/5 

        Goodreads blurb:
        A Snowbound Christmas...
        A Second-chance bride! Practical Jenna Walsh has done something impratical. she's met a man on the internet and now, a month before Christmas, she's going to Alaska to marry him. Dalton Gray seems to be everything she wants in a husband -- sensitive, gallant, romantic . . .
        On the flight to Fairbanks, she has the misfortune to sit beside Reid Jamison, who obviously isn't sensitive, gallant, or romantic. However, he's not impressed with her plan to marry Dalton, a man he detests (for good reason, as Jenna later finds out). So Reid takes it upon himself to change her destination -- and her marraigae plans.
        Which is why Jenna ends up at Reid's cabin in tiny Snowbound, Alaska. It's currently a one-woman town (and the other woman's out of town.) That leaves Reed, a bunch of eccentric old men, a few grizzly bears -- and Jenna. Kidnapped! And then there's a blizzard. The two of them alone, stranded in Snowbound . . .
        Hmm.  Maybe she'll be a Christmas bride, after all.

        My thoughts:
        Debbie Macomber is a new author to me, recommended both by mom and several book bloggers.  I am coming to know her as a great romance writer and all-time chick-lit writer.  I believe she is talented in that the two books I've read of hers so far have been very different, with no similarities in the plots minus the whole boy-meets-girl and they fall in love idea.  So far, I have enjoyed each of her novels.

        I read this novel in one afternoon.  It was a quick, fun read.  I greatly enjoyed the setting and the world Macomber creates around the characters.  I cracked up many a time just at the fun characters and their antics.  That being said, I was not impressed with this book beyond a quick, fun romance read.  I was a little disappointed in the character development of Jenna and Reid.  It was as though she told us about who the characters were instead of showing us through the writing and events.

        I had trouble getting into the mindset of writing this review, especially since it's been a couple of days since I read it.  And perhaps that is the general idea of giving this novel a 3/5 instead of a 4/5.  I enjoyed reading it, and I will pass it on to my mom.  However, there was nothing super memorable about the book.  I enjoyed it while I read it, but I had to pull the book out to remind myself of the plot, character names, and struggles within the characters.  I probably will not read the book again, and I won't find myself in the middle of a conversation saying, "Oh my gosh, you HAVE to read that book!"  Ultimately, I recommend it to lovers to romantic comedy and people looking for a fun, quick, light read.  Snuggle up with a cup of tea and prepare to laugh.