Oct 27, 2011

Blog Tour: Review | Her Sister's Shadow by Katharine Britton

Title: Her Sister's Shadow
Author: Katharine Britton
Genre: Adult Fiction - Contemporary
Publication: 06.17.2011 by Berkley Trade
Pages: 341
Source: TLC Book Tours

Summary: Renowned painter Lilli Niles is at home in her North London flat when she receives an unexpected call from her elder sister, Bea, who's at the family homestead in Whitehead, Massachusetts. Bea's husband has just died, and she'd like Lilli to fly home to attend the funeral. There are reasons Lilli moved all the way to England to escape her older sister, reasons that have kept them estranged for decades. But something in Bea's voice makes Lilli think it's time to return to the stately house in New England she loved as a child, to the memory of the beloved younger sister they both lost. With Bea more fragile than Lilli remembered, maybe she can finally forgive Bea for a long-ago betrayal that has simmered between them for nearly forty years.

Cover: I really like it because it gives me a good idea of what Lilli looked like at her young age.

Thoughts: Unfortunately, I haven't finished this book on time for my tour stop. I almost want to say it's not my fault, but I put off reading it sooner expecting to have enough time to read it. Of course, life happened and I haven't finished it on time. But! I am a third of the way through it and so far, I am loving it!

Her Sister's Shadow is told in alternating tenses. It is 2009 and Lilli has returned home to attend her sister's husband service. She hasn't seen her sister, Bea, in almost forty years and really doesn't want to see her because of the troubled past they have. We get a glimpse into the past, 1966 and Lilli at 15 years old. It is obvious to me that getting this look into the past will reveal events that make the 2009 make more sense. Already, I have discovered things that have surprised me, but there is still so many unanswered questions left for me. I want to know what happens next!

The first few pages were a little difficult for me to get into, but the story picks up rather quickly and once we get the first flashback, I haven't been able to put the book down (mostly!) I already like Lilli, but am frustrated with how easily she seems to anger during her young age which is reasonable because during the summer, she has grown from a child into a young woman and is confused about who she is now.

I definitely recommend Her Sister's Shadow (so far) and will leave it unrated until I finish it. I really want to find out what happens next and am dying to see where the story will lead me. Her Sister's Shadow reminds me a little bit of Water for Elephants and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and the similarities are sure to be enjoyed by others that loved those books like I did. I will re-post this review and a rating once I have completed the book.

Favorite Quote: '"Why do children want so badly to grow up when childhood is so lovely? No one should wish their life away."'

Rating coming soon!

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About the author:

Katharine has a Master's degree in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. Her screenplay, Goodbye Don't Mean Gone, was a Moondance Film Festival winner and a finalist in the New England Women in Film and Television contest. Katharine is a member of the League of Vermont Writers and PEN New England. She teaches writing at Colby-Sawyer College, and is an instructor at The Writer’s Center.

When not at her desk, Katharine can often be found in her Norwich garden, waging a non-toxic war against the slugs, snails, deer, woodchucks, chipmunks, moles, voles, and beetles with whom she shares her yard. Katharine's defense consists mainly of hand-wringing, after-the-fact.

Oct 16, 2011

Author Event | Lauren Oliver Reading & Signing

About a week and a half ago I got to meet Lauren Oliver! It was the release day of Liesl & Po and I was super excited to meet her and buy her new book. I got there a little early, so I got some coffee and a copy of the book before heading to the reading and signing.

It turns out that about half the audience was her family, so Lauren seemed really comfortable telling us about the new book. She was really funny, pretty goofy and super nice! She explained the process of getting Liesl & Po illustrated, and even showed us her own drawings of how the illustrations started off. She then read a few pages of the book before signing.

I took my copy of Delirium (of course!) to get it signed also and was really nervous about actually talking to her. Fortunately, she was very talkative and made me laugh, which instantly made me feel at ease. She's totally one of my favorite authors, so I felt really fortunate to meet her and had an awesome time.

Oct 15, 2011

Review | Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: YA - Contemporary/Romance
Pages: 372
Publication: 12.02.2010 by Dutton
Source: Library

Summary: Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

Cover: Hmmm, I like most of it except that we can see "Anna." I sort of wish her face wasn't visible like the guy's face.

Thoughts: I wasn't too sure what to expect when I picked up Anna and the French Kiss. Other bloggers kept gushing about it and I knew I had to find out what all the hype was about. And now I must also gush about it because, not only was I quickly pulled into Anna's story, but I fell head over heels in love with the book. It was sweet, emotional, funny and so much more.

Anna has just moved to Paris to finish her senior year in high school. This might sound like something totally awesome to some of us, but not for Anna. Not only does she have to leave behind her mom, best friend and almost-something-crush, but she doesn't speak a bit of French. Anna is sure she's going to be miserable. And with that attitude, I couldn't help but connect and like her instantly. I mean, what 17 year old girl wants to leave behind everyone she knows, her bff and potential romance to go to a country where she'll be totally alone? I know I wouldn't. Anna's reaction is totally understandable and her feelings so realistic that she makes a great protagonist that all chica's out there can relate to.

Once the idea finally sinks in that she's here to stay for the year (the gorgeous and super friendly-to-her St. Clair helps out there,) Anna makes a group of friends that were also very likable. I loved the way they interacted with one another and the way they stayed together reminded me of friendships I had in high school. They were very real to me and I totally connected with them a whole lot more than what I expected.

The romance between Anna and St. Clair was simply adorable. Sure, St. Clair had a girlfriend and Anna was sort of interested in Toph back home, so not much ever really happens...but the build up was great. I mean, the entire time I was hoping for something to happen. And it all gets so complicated and frustrating, and all I could think was "Are they even going to end up together?!" It was so intense I felt I was going to die but yet very simple and sweet that I couldn't help but love it. And yes, I loved St. Clair. He is not perfect, but he's so unique, nice, totally hot and now a favorite of mine ♥

I was already dying to go  to Paris before I read this, but now...I am still dying to go there! Perkins described everything so well I could almost see it and smell it. It sounds amazing!

I definitely recommend Anna and the French Kiss. It is a fun, sweet and totally something you can relate to. I couldn't put it down! It made laugh, cry, blush and squeal in excitement. Perkins writing is incredible and she is now one of my favorite author's. I cannot wait to read more of her books and if you have not read this one, you must! It is an unforgettable book that you do not want to miss out on :)
Favorite Quote: “I wish friends held hands more often, like the children I see on the streets sometimes. I'm not sure why we have to grow up and get embarrassed about it.”

Oct 13, 2011

Review | The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Title: The Princess Diaries
Series: The Princess Diaries #1
Author: Meg Cabot
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: 06.14.2001 by HarperTrophy
Pages: 283
Source: Library

Summary: She's just a New York City girl living with her artist mom...

News Flash: Dad is prince of Genovia. (So that's why a limo meets her at the airport!)

Downer: Dad can't have any more kids. (So no heir to the throne.)

Shock of the Century: Like it or not, Mia Thermopolis is prime princess material.

Mia must take princess lessons from her dreaded grandmére, the dowager princess of Genovia, who thinks Mia has a thing or two to learn before she steps up to the throne.

Well, her father can lecture her until he's royal-blue in the face about her princessly duty—no way is she moving to Genovia and leaving Manhattan behind. But what's a girl to do when her name is Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo?

Cover: Fun, simple and very pink...I like :)

Thoughts: To be honest, I wasn't too interested in reading The Princess Diaries series, well...ever. I did watch the movie years ago and I thought it was funny and really cute. I picked this up at the library one day because it was an audiobook and there wasn't too much of a selection. I'm glad I did because I loved it! It was such a fun, quirky and laugh-out-loud book that I couldn't stop listening to!

Mia finds out that her dad isn't just "in politics" but is a Prince! He just found out that he can no longer have children, something that he wasn't counting on, so Mia is the next to take the throne. She's already a freak as it is, and now she has to be a princess too? And not only that, but she's failing Algebra and her mom is dating her Algebra teacher and now she has to take Princess Lessons from her Grandmere! Mia is not happy.

I loved Mia from the start. She's your average 14 year old girl just trying to fit in a school, hanging out with her best friend and hoping the hottest guy around will notice her. She's smart, just a little strange and sooo funny! I was laughing out loud at practically everything she said. I thought it was pretty awesome that Anne Hathaway is the narrator of the book on the audio version, because she's totally who I imagined Mia to be like (since I saw the movie first, duh,) and is a great reader, really acting out her role as Mia which made listening to it a hundred times better.

The Princess Diaries is written in diary form of course, so we only get to find out what happens throughout the day when Mia writes about it. Each entry is a little longer than any "real" diary would be because Mia writes lots of details about her day and dialogue with the characters. I thought the author was able to accomplish this quite smoothly and was really satisfied with the overall pace of the story. It is so cleverly written that it pulled me into the story rather quickly and I just wanted to read more to find out what happens next.

If you've watched the movie, this book is about a third of what the movie shows. It's also pretty different and I thought, a lot funnier. Lots happens in just a few short days, so I was really happy with how the story ended. Of course, it doesn't conclude and there are lots more books to go through, which I might read one day or not. I am really glad that I at least read this first one though, I thought it was great. I definitely recommend The Princess Diaries to anyone looking for something fun, fluffy, girly and quick.

Favorite Quote: “Lilly says I have an overactive imagination and a pathological need to invent drama in my life.”

Oct 8, 2011

Author Event | Orange County Book Festival

Last Sunday was the Orange County Children's Book Festival in Costa Mesa, an event that takes place every year. It was my first time learning of this event, so I was pretty excited to go because there were going to be so many awesome authors there. My brother  came along with me and it was a really hot day, so within a few minutes of getting there, we were burning up! We got there a little later than I wanted to, but it was okay, although I did miss seeing Lisi Harrison again. I did catch her signing some books later though, but I just walked by.

The first thing we did was find the booth where I could donate books. For each 2 books, I got a $2 off coupon for the booths. I only had a few books to donate though. Aftewards, we made our way back to the YA stage because the "Keeping it Real" Panel was up, which consisted of Jessi Kirby (author of Moonglass), Lindsey Leavitt (author of Sean Griswold's Head), Kirsten Hubbard (author of Like Mandarin) and Andrew Smith (author of The Marbury Lens). They talked for a little while about their books and answered questions from the audience, then went to the side for signing.

The Mysterious Galaxy store had a booth set up with all the books of the authors that were going to be there today and were setting up the area for the author's signing. I hustled over there, and bought Like Mandarin and The Marbury Lens. I didn't take my copy of Moonglass because it was already signed, and I didn't get a chance to buy a copy of Sean Griswold's Head. But I did get a few pictures with the author's and I chatted with them for a tiny bit.

I didn't get a chance to talk to Andrew Smith, but my brother got my copy of his book signed for me, so I was happy :) Next on the stage were Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, authors of Spoiled, followed by DJ MacHale, author of The Monster Princess, and Kailin Gaw, author of the new series The Fire Wars, but we headed to the Main Stage because Molly Shannon was supposed to show up around that time. We waited for a little while, but she didn't show up and growing restless and too hot to stand around waiting, we got ourselves some ice cream and headed back to the YA stage. By then, Kailin Gaw was finishing up her reading of her book, and Kami Garcia was up next. I managed to get a seat in the front and was really excited to see her. She read a little from Beautiful Chaos (Beautiful Creatures, Book 3) then answered some questions before the signing. She was super nice! She had her two children with her and they were helping her out with handing out the bookmarks and bracelets she was giving fans out. She noticed that my copy of Beautiful Creatures was a first edition too, and I felt a wee bit special :)


 After getting my books signed, I once again, returned to the stage. I left my brother there while I went to meet Kami, so I still had my spot up front. The "Paranormal Tendencies" panel was next and the authors Emma Michael's (The Thirteenth Chime), Inara Scott (The Candidates), Cindy Pon (Silver Phoenix), Jeff Mariotte (Dark Vengeance Vol. 1: Summer, Fall,) and Gretchen McNeil (Possess). I didn't get to meet any of them afterwards though, but got to see Hope Larson, author of Mercury, and Lisa Desrochers. Lisa read from her third book in the Personal Demons series (gasp!) instead of the second one, so I am really interested in reading those books.

I also got a chance to meet Katie Alender, author of Bad Girls Don't Die and Heather Brewer, author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, who also happened to be the last author we waited for.

It was a great day and I had so much fun, despite the heat. I loved meeting each author and also can't wait to read the books I picked up! Also, I can't wait for next year :)

Blog Tour: Review | J'Adore New York by Isabelle Lafleche

Title: J'Adore New York
Author: Isabelle Lafleche
Genre: Fiction - Chick Lit
Publication: 10.01.2011 by HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 391
Source: Book Sparks PR

Summary: Catherine Lambert loves fashion and the law. One of only three applicants, out of a pool of thirty, selected to transfer from Edwards & White's Paris office to its Manhattan headquarters, and the only one assigned to the corporate group, Catherine is determined to continue impressing her bosses with her diligence and legal prowess. Meeting the firm's billable hours quota means long days and short nights, especially when two heinously spiteful secretaries are conspiring to undermine Catherine's reputation and efforts to please both the firm's clients and partners.

Making matters worse, one of the firm's particularly powerful and obnoxious clients propositions her, actually referring to her as his "favorite little lawyer." When she refuses his advances, he accuses her of becoming intoxicated at a charity event and embarrassing him, several colleagues, and their wives. His behavior places Catherine into a quagmire and threatens to derail her career.

Things start looking up when yet another client, Jeffrey Richardson, seems to show genuine interest in her. But is he too good to be true? She is just starting to believe that she might be able to "have it all" when Jeffrey requests that she engage in unethical conduct on his behalf that could ultimately lead to her disbarment and serious consequences for the firm. Did Jeffrey ever really care for her or was she merely his means to a financial end? Yet again, Catherine finds herself at a crossroads, questioning her career choices to date ... and what shape she wants her future to take.

Cover: I love it, it's really chic and eye-catching.

Thoughts: Fast paced and very fun, J'Adore New York pulled me in to Catherine's story very quickly. In only the first few pages there are horrible bosses, flat tires, crazy taxi drivers, champagne and fraud; entertained I finished the book faster than I had expected.

Catherine transfers to New York, hoping that this will be a great move and the next step to becoming partner in the firm. She is determined to work hard and meet every challenge that her bosses throw at her, not really interested in much else except her work. She eventually learns that she can't trust anyone except her close friends and that the competition to reach the top is fierce. To reach her goal she must put in as many hours at work as possible and work her butt off, all while trying to find a new apartment, catching up with friends, shopping at the sample sales, drinking too much and maybe enjoying a little romance.
The characters are all well written and the plot is very good. I really liked Catherine from the start and her determined attitude made me like her even more. Her voice was a bit too American though, with a few French phrases thrown in here and there, and that sort of surprised me. It didn't bother me though, and I really enjoyed seeing the things Catherine went through. The other characters supplied a lot to the story, especially the friends she makes and the man she meets, but there are also a lot of characters that I didn't like and was annoyed with. This definitely added a lot to the story for me, because I connected with Catherine this way more.

J'Adore New York was a great story and I couldn't put it down. Fast paced as Catherine's career and readers are taken along, it is easy to get lost into her world. I'm glad I got the chance to read this and I am sure many who love chick-lit will also enjoy it. It does come with lots of law terminology and fashion talk, but it is humorous, fun and entertaining.

About the author:

Isabelle worked for over ten years in Toronto, New York City and Montreal as a lawyer in a large law firm and on Wall Street. In 2005, she was responsible for the business affairs of a fashion designer where she developed a penchant for haute couture. She enjoys running, skiing, and walking her pooch Leo.

J'Adore New York is her first novel.

Oct 4, 2011

Review | Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Title: Burned
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Genre: Young Adult
Publication: 03.28.2006 by Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 532
Source: Library

Summary: Raised in a religious -- yet abusive -- family, Pattyn Von Stratten starts asking questions -- about God, a woman's role, sex, love. She experiences the first stirrings of passion, but when her father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control. Pattyn is sent to live with an aunt in the wilds of Nevada to find salvation and redemption. What she finds instead is love and acceptance -- until she realizes that her old demons will not let her go.

Cover: Similar to most of her covers, but the title is unique and has that burned effect that I really like.

May contain spoilers, but not really. Just proceed with caution.

Thoughts: I have been a fan of Ellen Hopkins writing since I read Crank years ago. I have never been disappointed with any of her books and Burned was no exception. Although I found it to be a little different than her others books, Burned is written in the same poetic/verse way that Hopkins is so famous for and her writing captivated me from beginning to end.

Pattyn has grown up in an abusive home and has pretty much raised her six younger sisters and herself on her own. She has also spent her life trying to be a good Mormon girl, but her world takes an unexpected turn when she begins receiving attention from a boy at school. Soon she starts feeling things she shouldn't and doing things that are sinful. Her view of her life starts to change, and she starts to question all that she's ever known about God, her family and a woman's role. Her changing attitude and her new behavior angers her father and upsets her expectant-again mother, so Pattyn is sent to live with her Aunt J a couple of hours away. There Pattyn learns many things she was told "women don't need to know," is finally treated with respect, and learns what it feels like to be cared for by a parent figure. She also meets Ethan, a young man who shows her what love really is.

I liked Pattyn, most of the time. It was hard for me not to be frustrated with her sometimes, but it was unfair for me to be so because the things she went through were not her fault. She felt real and her raw emotions pulled the story together. I wanted her to be a little more courageous, to stand up to her father and all the people who treated her badly, but she didn't. This made me feel even more connected to her, because she reacted the way most girls her age would. I loved Ethan and Aunt J of course, they are loving people and I totally loved that Pattyn was able to meet them and loved them back.

The story changes from pretty bad to really good, to shitty again. Even though Pattyn goes through a lot of tough stuff, I was surprised at how many good things there were. I think I was just a little thrown off that this book wasn't as dark as Hopkins others books and I am still  not sure how I felt about that. The ending is a really heartbreaking, but ended rather abruptly. I know that there is going to be sequel, but I am not sure how I feel about that. I just can't see how Hopkins will continue Pattyn's story the way it left off. I guess I will have to see.

I've heard a lot about Hopkins being wrong about the LDS and all the religious beliefs in the book. I do not know much about this religion or what they believe, but I do know that even though most of it may not be true of everyone, it may be true of someone or else she wouldn't have written about it the way she did. I feel that maybe if she wouldn't have involved any religion, the fact that her father was still abusive would have been almost enough. It is debatable, I suppose.

Burned was a great novel, but I feel that those of you who have never read any of Hopkins work, should start off with a different one. Burned was sad and heartbreaking, but definitely not as dark as other books (Crank or Tricks.) I was dissatisfied with the ending so I am looking forward to the next book. If you like Hopkins work, you will enjoy this one as well. Burned is a powerful read, with an important message that I am sure many will love. I definitely recommend it to older YA and adults.

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Oct 1, 2011

\\ Blog Tour \\ Review | Tie Me Up by Lauren Hawkeye

Title: Tie Me Up by Lauren Hawkeye
Series: Erotic Me #2
Genre: Erotic Fiction
Publication: October 1, 2011 by Spice Briefs
Source: Bewitching Book Tours
Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Barbara always thought of Ethan as her little brother's annoying best friend, and she was sure he just considered her his friend's nerdy big sister. Until the hot night after her brother's wedding. Alone in the heat, it's clear Ethan sees her in a way she never saw herself: as a sexy, sensual woman. And for the first time, Barbara feels ready to break free from the painful memories that have haunted her for too long—by exploring her passion for Ethan.…

Thoughts: Since reading Lauren Hawkeye's last short book Take Me Down, I was looking forward to reading Tie Me Up. Again with the ability to create characters we can connect to and a sizzling romance, I was really able to enjoy this book and was a little sad to see it end so soon.

Barbara and Ethan were both great characters developed well in such a short amount of time and I was really glad to see that I was able to connect with them and their lives quickly enough to want to learn more. Barbara has never thought of Ethan as more than just a friend of his brother's, so it is quite interesting to watch how that changes. I was anxious to see how their relationship from being the little brother's best friend and the older sister would develop into more and enjoyed the way they were brought together.

Lauren Hawkeye, again, created a short story that was both satisfying and captivating for such a few amount of pages. I was really excited to see that the story also took place on the same night as the first book in the series, and I am interested in finding out what else happened that night with other guests. This is definitely a fun short series that other fans of erotic fiction will enjoy. If you have several minutes to spare, make sure to pick this one up. It's quick and very enjoyable.