Aug 16, 2012

Review | A Girl Like You by Maria Geraci

Title: A Girl Like You
Series: N/A
Author: Maria Geraci
Genre: Adult - Contemporary/Romance
Publication: 08.07.2012 by Berkley, Penguin USA
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Source: BookSparks PR
Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: What if you found out you were the ugly friend?

Emma Frazier is smart, hardworking, and loves her job as a journalist for a Florida lifestyle magazine. Emma knows she’s no great beauty, but she’s pretty certain she has a shot with her handsome new boss, Ben Gallagher—until Emma overhears a mutual acquaintance refer to her as the “ugly friend.” In an effort to reclaim her battered self-esteem, Emma decides to impress Ben at work by promising an exclusive interview with NASCAR legend, Trip Monroe.

Emma and Trip went to high school together and although it’s been fourteen years since they’ve spoken, Emma is certain she can score an interview with the elusive super star. But connecting with Trip turns out to be harder than Emma imagined. Her quest for the interview leads her back to her tiny hometown of Catfish Cove, where old secrets and a new romantic interest shake up Emma’s views on life and teach her that maybe the key to finding true love is as simple as accepting yourself for the person you were always meant to be.

Thoughts: I was in desperate need of an adult romance and didn't even know it until I got my hands on this gem. While I love my YA, I definitely needed a change in genre and this was the perfect book. A Girl Like You is a heartwarming and fun read that I truly enjoyed and am really glad I picked up.

A Girl Like You has a little bit of everything mixed in: romance, humor, family, friendship and work related issues and situations. From the beginning, I was able to connect with the main character, and really liked Emma. She's a bit unsure of herself because she's a size 12 and is called "the ugly friend" by an acquaintance. Yet, she's determined to make the best of things and we watch as Emma stumbles across loves, makes new friends, and learns to spend more time with her moms. I admired her strength to get through situations, her honesty and her courage. I also admired her ability to forgive those who hurt her, all while making and keeping friends.

While Emma is attempting to get an interview with a celebrity she went to high school with, but hasn't seen in over 14 years, she puts herself in some pretty funny situations that had me laughing out loud and wondering where the story was going. I really thought I had everything figured out, but was nicely surprised with how things turned out for Emma in the end. I definitely didn't see it coming.

Overall: I don't want to gush too much about the book, because I really loved everything about A Girl Like You: the main character, and all the secondary characters (each unique and really special to the story,) the small town setting (I love small towns!) and the romance aspect. I couldn't put this book down once I started it and I definitely recommend to others who love contemporary romance. This is one you won't want to miss!

About the author: Maria Geraci was born in Havana, Cuba and raised on Florida's Space coast. She lives in north Florida with her husband and children and writes fun, romantic women's fiction.

Website | Facebook
Buy the book: Amazon

Aug 15, 2012

Review | Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Title: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: 11.13.2012 by Delacorte
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Thoughts: This book has been pitched to fans of Anna and the French Kiss and I adored Anna, so I definitely wanted to give this a shot. Not only did the cover look great, but the summary sounded promising and I went into this book with high hopes. While Meant to Be turned out to be a fun and cute read that had me laughing out loud at times, it felt like it was trying to hard to be like Anna and that bugged me enough to find this just a bit better than an okay read.

Julia is an intelligent girl, straight-A student, and never breaks the rules. Until she is partnered up with Jason, who happens to be the annoying class clown and pretty much her archenemy. Determined to follow her schedules and itineraries though, she has no intention of watching Jason and his crazy antics. But he shows up at her door with a spare key to her room so they can sneak off to a party and proceed to break the rules for the rest of the trip.

I had a difficult time liking Julia. She was so rigid, never wanted to have fun and didn't do anything on a whim. Even though she was a bookworm and a "good girl" she wasn't someone I would like and really couldn't connect with her. But she also had no problem breaking so many rules when Jason was involved. I had a few problems with Jason also. Not only is he immature and seeks attention all the time, he's also annoying as hell and doesn't do anything! He makes Julia do his work for her in "exchange" for help with a boy and then has mood swings that are never really explained.

I did enjoy the scenery. I love Europe, but I have never had the pleasure of being in London. I was able to really appreciate the descriptions of the places Jason and Julia traveled there and Morrill's descriptions were truly terrific. I really wanted to step into the book (or get on the next plane to London, whichever is easier) and walk the streets with these teens. I was kind of jealous of their trip and wish I had the opportunity to travel there during my Junior year of high school. While their personalities seemed to clash, Jason and Julia's adventures and travels seemed like a great experience and sounded like a lot of fun.

I did have difficult time liking both main characters, but I thought the idea of them coming together was kind of cute since they were so opposite. While I found Julia stuck between three guys kind of over the top, I really was rooting for these two to end up together. Their relationship seemed realistic enough and while it was sort of insta-love, they had a lot of difficulties along the way that caused them to stumble as they figured out what to do next. The ending was pretty predictable, but it came with a small twist that I thought I'd figured out, but realized I'd been wrong about. There were a few questions left unanswered and the ending felt a bit rushed and wrapped up too neatly for my liking.

Overall: Even though I didn't connect with the characters, I found their adventures fun and some of their moments to be simply adorable. I thought that the humor was forced most of the time, but there were times when I really laughed out loud. The descriptions of London really made this book for me, and while the romance between these two characters wasn't as sweet as I hoped for, I still found myself wanting them to wind up together. Meant to Be is a pretty cute book that I am sure many fans of contemporary romance will enjoy.

Aug 10, 2012

Review + Giveaway | One Moment by Kristina McBride

Title: One Moment by Kristina McBride
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: June 26, 2012 by Egmont USA
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Maggie remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party. She remembers climbing the trail with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below–dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

The latest novel from the author of The Tension of Opposites, One Moment is a mysterious, searing look at how an instant can change everything you believe about the world around you.

Thoughts: I finished One Moment in one day. For a slow poke reader like myself, that's saying a lot. And even though it's short, it would've taken me longer except this book was that good. One Moment is a beautiful and intense story that I could not put down once I started. I pretty much loved every page and didn't want to see it end.

Maggie has the perfect boyfriend and a great set of friends. The six of them grew up together and are inseparable. On Memorial day weekend, they spend their day by the water, jumping off cliffs and into the water. With the encouragement of her boyfriend Joey, Maggie decides to jump off for the first time. Hand in hand with him, they get ready to jump off and then...her memory goes blank. Next thing she knows, Joey is at the bottom and has hit his head. Within minutes, he's dead.

Now Maggie and her friends have to deal with a great loss. As the days go by, Maggie struggles to remember what happened and discovers that Joey was keeping secrets. With flashes into the past and snatches of what happened that day, we weave through Maggie's relationship with Joey and her friends, as she discovers truths she wasn't sure she wanted to know. The more lies she finds, the more she realizes that the people she has known her entire life aren't exactly who she thought they were.

From the start, I knew it was going to hurt. Not because it was bad, but because it was so well written. I immediately connected with Maggie and felt her pain. I cried with her as she struggled to understand why her life suddenly felt destroyed. The author's writing tugged at my heart, and I literally had to take a couple of breaks from this book because my chest tightened and I got so emotionally caught up with the story.

Overall: One Moment is about loss, love, friendship and lies. It has drama, mystery, romance, and light humor sprinkled in here and there. It is an achingly beautiful and heartbreaking story about losing friends and discovering lies that change everything. It is an emotional roller coaster that you won't be able to stop reading once you start. I definitely recommend this to fans of this genre, as well as to anyone who enjoys captivating and emotional reads.

Aug 9, 2012

Review | Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Title: Hourglass
Series: Hourglass #1
Author: Myra McEntire
Genre: YA - Science Fiction/Fantasy
Publication: 06.14.2011 by EgmontUSA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Summary: One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may also change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Thoughts: I was excited to start reading this, but quite frankly, I was very disappointed in the book overall. While there are a few redeeming and interesting bits about the story, Hourglass turned out to be a young adult cliche with it's love triangle, predictable storyline and sometimes spunky, but rather lame heroine.

The story starts off rather interesting. Emerson sees "ghosts" which we later find out are remnants of the past, called "rips." She's strong, but broken from her loss and depression, and has a great friend and family that support her. The problems begin when she meets Michael, punches him in the stomach to make sure he's real (really, does that make sense?) and loses all sense when she realizes he has great abs. While the story develops slowly, we get a whole lot of "tension" between these two characters. Emerson acts stupid when Michael is near and blushes over everything...and I mean, everything. It was ridiculous. And Michael is obviously attracted to her, but since he wants to remain professional, he doesn't act upon it. Except when he does. He pretty much leads her on with his touches (which electrify them, by the way) and compliments but acts like a jerk with his mood swings when he realizes she doesn't do everything he wants. He threw me off and annoyed me most of the time.

I had a difficult time liking Emerson too. Like mentioned above, she came off as a strong heroine who had been through a lot and was just trying to deal with it the best she could. Then there's a guy involved and all she can do is swoon, even though we know she can kick his butt. Then the love triangle kicks in about two thirds into the book. When Kaleb is introduced, we find out that he and Michael are like brothers and he obviously knows what is going on between the two. But it doesn't stop him from hitting on her, telling her he might be in love with her, and that he'll wait for her (to get over Michael maybe?) And Emerson falls for it.

Along with Kaleb, we are introduced to a few other members of the secret Hourglass, a specialized place to help, educate, and bring together people with special abilities. Sounds like X-Men right? Yes, it is. Except we never learn anything about any of the characters. We get tidbits of what they can do and then they pretty much stop existing.

The plot becomes a little more interesting when we find out that Emerson sees rips because she can travel through time; to the past, to be exact. I love time travel and McEntire was able to create a unique idea with the way the characters were able to travel, but I feel failed in executing properly. First off, Emerson has never traveled before but decides to risk her life by going back a few months to save the founder of the Hourglass, a man she's never met because he has a family. Ummm, okay? That's fine. I can handle that. But then it's time to travel and they pretty much explain it to Emerson in like two seconds and she's totally okay with the whole thing even though she has no idea what the heck she's doing. Then of course not everything goes according to plan, there's a huge twist and then the book is wrapped up nicely and left with too many loose ends for me to be comfortable.

Overall: I am not sure if I ever enjoyed the Hourglass. I wasn't too impressed with any of it, except the idea of rips and time travel. Honestly, I forced myself to finish it and I while I know that there are many who loved it, I simply didn't. It was too slow for me and the romance too thick to be enjoyable. The twists in the story provided some fun in the plot, but otherwise, I wasn't too interested in how it would all end. I have a copy of the next book in the series, Timepiece, and am debating on whether I want to read it. I am a bit curious and hope that the romance bit will be brought down a few notches so that the rest of the story can be developed more. I am not sure if I would recommend this book, but there are hundreds of raving reviews and I am among the few who didn't enjoy it. I definitely suggest you check it out if it sounds like something you'll enjoy a lot more.

Aug 7, 2012

Review | Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Title: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult, Samantha van Leer
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary/Fantasy
Publication: June 26, 2012 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: What happens when happily ever after... isn’t?

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.

Thoughts: I think the first thing to note when starting this book is that it is not only a Jodi Picoult book. While I haven't read any of her other works (I know, I must!) I kept seeing reviews where this book was compared to her previous books and the readers were disappointed that it didn't live up to her amazing writing. I went into this book not knowing what to expect and it turned out that Between the Lines is an adorable and sweet book that I simply adored.

Once upon a time...there was a loner named Delilah who loved to read. She came across a children's fairy tale one day and the book spoke to her. Literally. Prince Oliver has been stuck in "Between the Lines," playing his part as a not-so-brave prince and he is simply tired of it. He wants more from life; he wants a life. Oliver and Delilah form a friendship once they figure out that they can talk to each other and are determined to figure out how to get him out of the book and into the real world. Sound like a fairy tale? It is. Between the Lines is a unique, but incredibly cute fairy tale that I couldn't get enough of.

Told from alternating points of view, we get to meet and learn about both Oliver and Delilah and what their lives are like. We also get to read the fairy tale that Oliver belongs to, which ties into their stories pretty well. I liked both characters instantly, and really was rooting for their ideas to work. The story was lighthearted, humorous and emotional, at times. The writing was cleverly done between mother and daughter, creating a cute story that book lovers (or anyone who has ever wanted to pull a character out of a book) will be able to relate to.

One of my favorite things about the book were the beautiful drawings, along with the constant silhouettes scattered throughout the pages. Also, as each point of view changes, so does the font color. While this might be bothersome for some, it was one of my favorite additions to the book.

Overall: Between the Lines is a sweet, romantic and quick story with a unique twist that I am sure many will enjoy. It is definitely a fairy tale that makes you think and flip through the pages quickly as you try and find out what happens next. While it is not as deep as you might expect from Picoult, this book is definitely a treasure that I am glad I got a chance to read. I definitely recommend it to younger teens (12+) as well as adults who are looking for light, fun read.

Aug 6, 2012

Review + Giveaway | Zom-B by Darren Shan

Title: Zom-B by Darren Shan
Series: Zom-B #1
Genre: YA - Horror
Publication: 09.27.2012 by Simon & Schuster
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis: When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B's racist father thinks it's a joke-- but even if it isn't, he figures, it's ok to lose a few Micks.

B doesn't fully buy into Dad's racism, but figures it's easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn't work, B doesn't hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks.

That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.

Thoughts: I wasn't planning on reading this book right now. Sure, it was on my TBR list but it was pushed farther down. I decided to read it though because both my boyfriend and my brother read it in a few hours and enjoyed it. Since neither of them are readers, I figured it was a good book to get into. Turns out they were both right, and it was. Zom-B is a deliciously gruesome start to a new series that is quick to get through and entertaining until the end.

The author writes a quick note to the reader explaining once you have finished Zom-B and you want to talk about it to others, it's going to be quite hard. There are some twists that made my jaw drop (literally) and of course, now it's difficult to review the book without spilling the beans about what happens.

Zom-B starts us off with some gore and then settles down on B's story, which is a bit controversial in places because the dad is so racist¹. Other than that, the story moves quickly enough, as we get a feel for B. Once the action gets the started, the book picks up pace and becomes pretty gory. The zombies are different and the shocking events that lead up to ending, left me wanting more.

Overall: While I was a little disappointed at how short Zom-B actually was, I am glad I picked this up. It definitely sets the stage for a horrific new zombie series that I am sure many will enjoy.

¹ I was surprised at the amount of racism added to two of the main characters, but it definitely makes the story different and sets it up for a surprising ending. The amount of racist language might offend others.

Review | Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1

Title: Twilight: The Graphic Novel
Series: Twilight: The Graphic Novel #1
Story and Art: Stephanie Meyer and Kim Young
Art Rating: ★★★★
Story Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret...

I know that this one isn't manga, but I read this a while a back and hadn't had the chance to review it, and since it is a graphic novel, I decided it should work. There isn't much to explain or say about Twilight: TGN, especially if you have read the books, seen the movies, or pretty much know the story of Bella and Edward.

This was a good adaptation that included the main scenes of the first half of Twilight. While it comes off a little vague, especially for someone who hasn't read the book, I found it to be straight forward and just a reminder of what happens in Twilight.

The art made this book for me because it was so pretty. It is in black and white, but it has some color in it which makes specific scenes stand out. While the dialogue doesn't really explain nearly half of what happens in the actual book, I was entertained by looking at the drawings alone.

I do want to look at the next books in the series, for the art pretty much. I already know the story and I did love it at one point, but I probably won't be re-reading it, so this offers a fun alternative.