Sunday, February 26, 2012

Challenge: What's in a Name (#5)

Even though I epicly failed at keeping up with this challenge the last time I tried, I'm going to attempt it again!  This year is the 5th run of this challenge, and it is being hosted by Bethfish.

Here's How It Works
Between January 1 and December 31, 2012, read one book in each of the following categories:
  1. A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title: Black Hills, Purgatory Ridge, Emily of Deep Valley
  2. A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title: Moon Called, Seeing Stars, Cloud Atlas
    Everything and the Moon - January 23, 2012
  3. A book with a creepy crawly in the title: Little Bee, Spider Bones, The Witches of Worm
  4. A book with a type of house in the title: The Glass Castle, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Ape House
  5. A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title: Sarah's Key, The Scarlet Letter, Devlin Diary
  6. A book with something you'd find on a calendar in the title: Day of the Jackal, Elegy for April, Freaky Friday, Year of Magical Thinking
The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.

Other Things to Know
Books may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
Books may overlap other challenges.
Books may not overlap categories; you need a different book for each category.
Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed but encouraged.
You do not have to make a list of books before hand.
You do not have to read through the categories in any particular order.

RRRC: Treasure Hunt (Quarterly Challenge)

Treasure Hunt (Quarterly Challenge) - aka Barbie & Ken
Duration: 15 February – 14 May 2012

Clothing (or predominant part thereof): cowboy hat, top hat, beanie, singlet/sleeveless top, shirt, pants, skirt, dress, underpants, bra, stockings, jacket, business shoes, high-heels, boots, socks, sandals, scarf, tie/cravat, belt

Other items:
Personal - eye glasses (sunglasses are fine), ring, pendant/necklace, bracelet/arm-band, earring or other piercing, tattoo, watch/pocket-watch, fan, hand-mirror

  • Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - 03/11/12 (necklaces or ring)

Weapons - sword, knife, gun

Nice to have - flower, candle, chocolates/candy, sports ball or other sports equipment, playing cards, piece of fruit, book, computer

Transportation - boat, car, motorbike, bicycle, plane (helicopter may be substituted for plane), carriage/stagecoach, horse if it is actively being used as transport (ridden or pulling carriages)

Read the Month: mi M-A-R-T-A (Irish Edition)

Read the Month Irish Edition
mi M-A-R-T-A (March)
Duration: March 1, 2012 - March 31, 2012

READ: 2/5

My Fair Temptress by Christina Dodd
An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn
Rogue and the Rival, The by Maya Rodale 03/29/2012
To Sir Phillip with Love by Julia Quinn
A Duke of Her Own by Lorraine Heath 03/02/2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

REVIEW: Anna and the French Kiss

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: has 2 companion novels
Genre: YA Romance
Publisher: Speak (part of the Penguin Group)
Format: Paperback
# of pages: 372
Source: Library
(from inside flap)

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection.  So she's not too pleased when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.  But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new friends, including the handsome  Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend.  Unfortunately, he's taken-and Anna might be, too.  Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's been waiting for?
It's been a long while since I've read a good YA novel.  Good thing I found this one!  I had actually wanted to read this when it came out, and was appearing on everyone's blogs, but I never got around to snagging a copy for my own.  But my last trip to the library, I was browsing the racks in the YA section, and there it was.  So I snagged it and just finished reading it today.  Let me just say up front: it was excellent!

Anna and the French Kiss is about a girl named Anna who is sent to an American boarding school in Paris for her Senior year because her father thinks it's a good idea.  She's not overly fond of her father, and she hates the idea of attending school in Paris.  But it's too late, because her parents have made up their minds and have left her there to fend for herself.  Eventually though, everything changes, and Anna no longer hates Paris.  She has made new friends, even a new best friend, the handsome Étienne St. Clair.  There's betrayal and drama in Anna's life, of course.  There has to be some strife to make the story interesting, right?  But I did kind of see the betrayal coming, ever since that first phone call.  By the end of the novel, Anna is sad to be leaving Paris, but happy to be on her way to college.

Whenever I read stories about boarding school, it makes me wish I was able to attend one.  And with this one being in Paris, I wish I could've gone to a school like that even more!  Anna got to explore Paris everyday while she was there.  The descriptions of everything was lovely, and I could really picture the setting, as she explored the city around her.  But of course, boarding school is probably not as fun as these novels make it out to be.

Anyway, Stephanie Perkins writes the voice of a teenage girl really well!  I was able to relate to Anna, who became quite real to me, with everything that she felt for her friends, family, and the guys in her life.  If I met her in real life, I would totally be her friend.  Also, she's a great narrator.  However, she does have flaws, as do her close friends.  But that just makes this even more real to me.  And even though they have flaws, I must say that I totally love all the characters that were a part of Anna's circle of friends in Paris.  Especially Étienne.  I could just imagine him, speaking in his British accent. *swoon*  He's really very handsome the way I picture him, haha.  The author is totally right!  American girls LOVE hot boys with British accents.  Well, at least the American girls that I know (self included).  It just multiplies their sexy points by a million! lol.

I definitely recommend this book!  It was a cute, fun, quick, and easy read, that's also quite realistic.  It had me chuckling quite a bit.  I really like the author's writing style, and can't wait to read more of her work!  I think the fact that I want to read more from this author can speak for how good this book was! :)

(SPOILER ALERT! kind of?)
I know there's a companion piece to this that out already, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and another companion piece coming out next year, Isla and the Happily Ever After.  I definitely can't wait to get my hands on both, so that I can find out how Anna and Étienne are doing.  I've read a review of Lola and the Boy Next Door and know that Anna and Étienne make some cameos.  I want to know how college life is treating them and how their relationship is going.  I was really rooting for them the whole way through Anna and the French Kiss!

And some little tidbits, that didn't affect my enjoyment of reading this book...I really like the uneven pages.  I love books that are printed like this.  Also, the cover is nice, but I wish they had shown the male model's face. I think that might be on purpose, so that the reader will create their own visual of Étienne.  But then, why did they show the male model on the cover of her other book?  Hmm...curious...

Plot - ★★★★★
Characters - ★★★★★
Ending - ★★★★★
Overall - ★★★★★

Thursday, February 9, 2012

REVIEW: Ten Things I Love About You

Title: Ten Things I Love About You
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: The Bevelstoke Series
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: Paperback
# of pages: 375
Source: Library
Challenge: 2012 Julia Quinn Challenge
(from back of book)

Ten Things You Should Know About This Book

1. Sebastian Grey is a devilishly handsome rogue with a secret.

2. Annabel Winslow's family voted her The Winslow Most Likely to Speak Her Mind and The Winslow Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Church.

3. Sebastian's uncle is the Earl of Newbury, and if he dies without siring an heir, Sebastian inherits everything.

4. Lord Newbury detests Sebastian and will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening.

5. Lord Newbury has decided that Annabel is the answer to all of his problems.

6. Annabel does not want to marry Lord Newbury, especially when she finds out he once romanced her grandmother.

7 is shocking, 8 is delicious, and 9 is downright wicked, all of which lead the way to

10. Happily. Ever. After. 
Ten Things I Love About You starts off with Lord of Newbury eyeing our heroine, Annabel Winslow, as his new bride. Of course, Annabel doesn't want to be...and who would? Lord Newbury is old and fat and not at all handsome. But she must! Because it's her duty...and though she doesn't like it, she's almost certain she will end up marrying him, for the sake of her siblings. But then, she meets Sebastian Grey, our very likable hero. He is a big contrast to the fat, ugly Lord Newbury, and Annabel is certain to fall in love with him. And so the story goes. Throw in a little secret and some meddling side characters, and you've got this novel!

The characters were likable enough, though I wasn't as engaged in this love story as I usually am with Quinn's other characters. I didn't connect with them, I guess. I was interested in Lady Louisa's story more so than the main characters', and do hope that Julia Quinn decides to write a novel for her as well as Edward. The plot was so-so...the twist was not much of a twist, after all.  Also, I find Sebastian's secret quite interesting, but I'm surprised no one has ever guessed it...

As you can probably tell, this is not my favorite Julia Quinn novel by any means. I actually couldn't really get into the story until about halfway in, and then I felt like I couldn't put it down. But still, it was enjoyable to read and several times while reading, I found my lips quirking up into a smile as I laughed to myself.  I would definitely recommend this. It is a feel good novel with a happy ending, and I love reading those! Plus, Julia Quinn is one of my favorite authors. :)

Plot - ★★★
Characters - ★★★★
Ending - ★★★★★
Overall - ★★★★
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