Thursday, March 29, 2012


I saw several of the book bloggers I follow participating in this, so I checked it out and decided I want to join in too! There are several things I've been meaning to do with this blog, and here are just a few to get started.  I'm sure, over the course of the weekend, I'll be adding some more things to my to-do list.
  1. Reorganize labels. 04/01/12
  2. Create images for rating system. 04/01/12
  3. Create a more comprehensive (explanation of) rating system. 04/01/12
  4. Update challenge posts. 04/01/12
  5. Create a review archives page. 04/01/12
  6. Update Goodreads shelves and reviews.
  7. Write 2 reviews.
  8. Create a header and buttons. 03/31/12
  9. Create a signature. 03/30/12
  10. Update currently reading. 04/01/12
  11. Catch up on BBPOC panels.
  12. Picks books to read in April and create a list. 04/01/12
  13. Add current events/giveaways/blog hops to sidebar. 03/31/12
  14. Create post template for reviews. 03/31/12
  15. Visit other Bloggiesta participants!
WHEW!  That's quite a bit of work to do!  But this runs from March 30 to April 1, so I think I'll have time.  If you're interested in Bloggiesta, you can find out more here, and then you can sign up here.  Hope to see you there!  Good luck on your list, if you're participating. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

In My Mailbox (05)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.  I haven't done one of these in a while, but I have accumulated quite a few books over the past 2 weeks, so I thought I'd post what I've gotten. ^^

From the Library:

From Netgalley:

I've been on a romance kick lately and am excited to read all of these!  What's your haul this week? :]

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

REVIEW: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: has 2 companion novels
Genre: YA Romance
Publisher: Dutton Books (member of the Penguin Group)
Format: Hardcover
# of pages: 338
Source: Library
Challenge: RRRC Treasure Hunt (Quarterly Challenge)
(from Goodreads)

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
I loved Stephanie Perkins' first book (and reviewed it not too long ago), so I was a little hesitant about reading this next one.  I didn't want to be let down.  But I sucked it up and borrowed it from the library, and I'm so glad I did!  Because I loved it just as much as I loved Anna and the French Kiss!

I really like Stephanie Perkins' writing style.  Her first person point-of-view really lets you connect to the character and puts you in their world.  It's a fun and easy read, with me finishing this book in a day.  I just couldn't put it down!

Lola, our narrator, is happily living her life with her 2 dads, Andy and Nathan, and her rocker boyfriend, Max.  That is, until her past comes back in the form of the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket.  They were her neighbors up until 2 years ago, but now they're back and Cricket Bell is acting like they never moved away.  Lola is confused, to say the least.  Soon she must decide between her boyfriend, who she thought was "The One," and the Boy Next Door.

The story draws you in, but the characters are what makes the story.  You want to know what happens to them, and you want everything to turn out alright and for them to have a happily ever after.  All the characters are really likable in this book (well, except Max, who turns out to be a jerk).  I find that I can relate to them, even though we have different personalities.  And once again, Perkins has created characters who, if I met them in real life, I'd want to be their friend.  Characters like Lola, who is quirky and funny, with a unique sense of style.  She makes her own clothes, and I totally wish I could be like her.  (She can be self-centered at times, but that's a fact of life.  She's a teenage girl, after all.)  And Cricket Bell who is an inventor of sorts, and also very cute, from what I imagine through Perkins' words.  He is described as 6 foot 4 inches, with dark hair and intense blue eyes.  I wish I had a boy like Cricket living next door, when I was growing up, lol.

Besides the main characters, there are several side characters, and they are all delightful.  Anna and √Čtienne make a reappearance in this book and are Lola's example of what a happy couple should look like.  (I am still a big fan of this couple, and am still in love with √Čtienne, though now I am also in love with Cricket, haha!)  Lola's dads, Andy and Nathan, are hilarious at times and great father figures throughout.  Also, Lola's best friend Lindsey is pretty kick-ass.

The setting was also great, and reading about Lola's escapades through San Francisco brought me back to my trip there last year.  It was my first time there, and I really liked it and had hoped to go back.  After reading this, I really hope to go back now, haha!

There is so much to like about this book, from the writing style to the characters.  This book is great in my opinion, and I would highly recommend it!

However, there is one thing I wish it had.  Even though I really like the first person point-of-view because it really works with her stories, I wish we could have read a little bit from the guy's point-of-view.  I especially want to know what Cricket is thinking, while he's away from Lola...

And finally, the last thing I like about the book is the first thing you see before reading: the cover!  I like pretty/cute cover, but get a little annoyed when it has no elements from/nothing to do with the story.  Like having a blonde model on the cover of a book with no blonde characters.  What is that?!  But that's not a problem here!  The models on the cover have the appropriate hair color.  In fact, "Lola" has rocking hair, and I wish I had that hair.  The cover is cute, and after reading the story, all I think when I see it is, 'That is so Lola and Cricket,' all the way down to the rubber bands around Cricket's wrist and the drawing on his hand.

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

Monday, March 12, 2012

REVIEW: Wedding of the Season

Title: Wedding of the Season
Author: Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Abandoned at the Altar
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: HarperCollins e-books
Format: Kindle e-book
# of pages: 360
Source: bought from Amazon
(from Amazon)
Abandoned at the altar . . .

Lady Beatrix Danbury had always known she would marry William Mallory. She'd loved him forever and she'd never doubted he loved her, too. But when she made him choose between their life together or his lifelong dream, Will chose the latter . . . and left two weeks before their wedding.

Return of the duke . . .

Will has no illusions that Beatrix would welcome him back with open arms, but six years did not dim his love or desire for her. The only problem is, she's about to marry someone else. Someone safe and predictable . . . the complete opposite of Will. But can he stop the wedding of the season and win Beatrix back, or is it just too late?
Beatrix, Trix for short, and William Mallory, now Duke of Sunderland, had been engaged 6 years ago.  They were happy and in love until he decided to go to Egypt to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an archaeologist, and Beatrix decided not to go with him.  They had different expectations, it seemed.  She expected they would settle down in the country side and have a family, living as their ancestors had, and he expected she would follow him on any adventure.

So, the wedding was called off and she has tried to forget Will for the past 6 years.  She thinks she's finally over him and ready to move on with her life, until he returns.  Will has also been trying to forget Trix, and has himself thinking he hates her.  He initially hadn't come back to stop her wedding, but after spending time with her again, his old feelings resurface...the ones that never really went away.  He still wants her, still loves her.  And he wants to show her that her marriage to safe, dependable Aiden Carr, the Duke of Trathen, will pretty much bore her death.  He wants to show her that he's become responsible and dependable, and he wants her to give him a second chance and marry him.  This time, he's not giving up until she says yes.

But, he also says he's not giving up Egypt and his quest to find King Tut's tomb.  And, as mentioned earlier, that's always been a sore spot in their relationship because Trix doesn't want to go to Egypt.  She has a mindset that means home should be in England, that their children should be raised there, and that they should preserve their heritage.  Her ideals are completely different from Will's in that sense.

Trix is independent, very stubborn and set in her ways, and I like that about her.  She doesn't give in so easily, even though she wants to be with Will.  She doesn't just throw away her ideals for a man without really looking at them in comparison to a life without him.  Eventually, she realizes what's really important, as does Will.  I found Will to be very charming and likable, though he could be a bit of a jerk to Trix sometimes.  But he was trying to hide his feelings, and trying to get a rise out of her, so I forgive him, haha.

I enjoy Laura Lee Guhrke's writing, and the story of old loves finding each other again is always a good one.  Highly recommend this one!  Also, I'm looking forward to reading the Duke of Trathen's story, which is the next installment in the series.

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

Friday, March 9, 2012

REVIEW: A Waltz at Midnight

Title: A Waltz at Midnight
Author: Crista McHugh
Series: n/a
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Format: e-book
# of pages: n/a - 19,000 words
Source: Netgalley
(from Netgalley)

New York, 1866

When her mistress receives an utterly unromantic letter from a potential suitor, servant Susanna Parkwell is asked to craft an appropriate response. Though hesitant to take part in the deception, Susanna agrees, never dreaming the scorned suitor will write back.

Theodore Blakely abhors being pressured by his family to marry, but he's intrigued by the witty refusal he receives from "Charlotte". After exchanging more letters, Ted believes he's found a soul mate in his thoughtful and understanding correspondent, and asks permission to formally court her.

Though racked with guilt over her lies, Susanna can't resist the opportunity to meet Ted in person. So she poses as Charlotte at a holiday ball, where she vows to tell him the truth. But when the clock strikes midnight, will Susanna have the courage to reveal her identity and risk losing the man she loves?
A Waltz at Midnight was a sweet, romantic little novella set after the Civil War. Our main female character, Susanna, had to move from the South to New York to survive. She works at her aunt's boarding house, which houses Vassar students, to earn a living and to save up for her brother's Bar exam. While working there she is persuaded by one of the residents, Charlotte, to reply to a letter from an unwanted suitor. This turns into so much more, as Susanna continues to exchange letters with the suitor, Theodore Blakely, also known as Teddy. They form a connection to each other through these letters, but that's not at all what Charlotte wants. So she makes Susanna pose as her at a masquerade ball to tell Teddy the truth and end it once and for all. But Susanna kept waiting for the right time, which never came. Instead, midnight comes around, the deadline Charlotte had given her. Susanna has to leave, and she tells Teddy to never call on her. Teddy doesn't listen, and ends up calling on Charlotte, which lead him to finding out the truth.

The characters were likable, with both Susanna and Teddy experiencing hardships in their past. Through their letters, they are able to express these hardships, which have never been told to another person. Though they were able to connect like this and their love story was sweet, it was almost too easy. There wasn't really any conflict, other than Susanna lying to Teddy about who she was in her letters. But then, that was resolved really easily too. I thought it could've been a bit longer. Teddy went to confront Susanna, and after an apology, he pretty much forgave her. Susanna kind of seemed more upset than him. I don't know...if I was lied to by the supposed love of my life, I'd be a lot more upset than Teddy seemed to be. But that's just me. And the fact that he's not so upset and everything seems to go easily for the characters, especially him looking past their differences (him from the North, her from the South, etc.), makes this a sweet, but unrealistic love story. Add in the the Cinderella tendencies of this story: stroke of midnight and leaving clothing behind, and it's definitely got a fairytale feel.

But I like fairytales and happy endings and unrealistic love stories, because it makes me happy and helps me get away from the real world for a bit. So overall, I did like the story. It was a sweet and easy read. I recommend it if you're looking to relax and get away from the real world for a little while.

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

Sunday, March 4, 2012

2012 Debut Author Challenge

I've seen this challenge the past couple years on The Story Siren, but haven't joined before.  Thought I'd give it a try this year!  You still have a chance to join, if you're interested.  The deadline to join is May 31, 2012!

  • To read & review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 – January 31, 2013.*
*The 2013 extension is so that December Debuts can be read and count toward the challenge.

  • Must be a young adult or middle grade title.
  • Must be the author’s YA or MG debut, released in 2012.
  • If an author has a previous novel published for adults or children, they can still qualify for the challenge.
  • If an author has a previous YA or MG title, they do not qualify for the challenge.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

RRRC: March 2012 Monthly Challenge

I'm doing 5 out of the 10 categories this month!  I haven't chosen my books for this challenge yet, so I'll just post as I go along. :]


1. 'M' is for March: Read a book that starts with the letter 'M' or a book whose author's first or last name starts with the letter 'M'.

4. Third Month: Read a book that has 3 words or is 3rd in a series.

5. Popcorn Lover's Day (8 Mar): Read a book that has been converted to a movie or vice versa.

9. American Red Cross Month: Read a book with a hospital setting or character or a book with a red cover.

10. Reader's Choice: Read any book of your choice

REVIEW: A Duke of Her Own

Title: A Duke of Her Own
Author: Lorraine Heath
Series: Rogues and Roses
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: HarperCollins e-books
Format: Kindle e-book
# of pages: 368
Source: bought from Amazon
(from Amazon)

Lady Louisa longs to marry for passion and love—but will she find happiness in the arms of the duke?
This is the first Lorraine Heath book that I've ever read, and it didn't disappoint.

A Duke of Her Own is set in an era of England where times are quickly changing.  The ton no longer lives as leisurely as they're used to, as they're now wrought with money concerns.  Most of them have hardly any money left, and the men of the ton are now looking to marry American heiresses for money.  And that leaves Lady Louisa without many options.  She is a lady of the ton without a dowry, thus basically eliminating any marriage prospects.  Realizing her situation and having no hope in it, she decides that she won't sit around to wait and see what happens with her future.  She takes it into her own hands and decides to post an ad in a women's paper advertising herself as a chaperone and social guide to an American lady.

She is hired by the Rose family, who has two daughters they'd like to see married to men with a title, and her brother, the Earl of Ravensley, and his friends, the Duke of Hawkhurst and Marquess of Falconridge, are ecstatic about this.  They all want to marry one of the Rose daughters and think they have an in through Louisa.  I'm not sure why the Rose daughters, Jenny and Kate, are their main focus.  It was never explained what made them more attractive than other American heiresses, but that's not that big of a deal, I guess.

Anyway, the men thought wrong, as Louisa does not think they are at all suitable for either of her charges.  But they try nonetheless, and Louisa has made a promise that, while she won't encourage their suit, she won't purposely hinder it either.  Since this is Hawkhurst's novel, it follows his suit of Jenny Rose, who he thinks will be the better of the two as his wife.  (Actually, all the men prefer Jenny, and I don't blame them!)  But though he's trying to court Jenny, all he can think about is Louisa, his friend's sister!

Mrs. Rose highly approves of Hawkhurst, as only a Duke will do for her daughters.  But Jenny has a mind of her own, and wants passion in her marriage!  She likes the Duke, but hasn't had time to see if he has the passion she's looking for, with her chaperone keeping a tight leash on her.  Besides, she's noticed the way the Duke looks at Louisa, and Jenny and Louisa have become friends throughout their time together.  And, more to the point, Jenny's just not ready to get married yet.

But Hawkhurst is getting desperate, as he has his mother and a secret sister to support.  So he plans to be caught compromising Jenny, in order to ensure marriage to her.  You know what they say about the best laid plans...especially when you tell a rival about them!  Instead, Hawkhurst is caught in a compromising position with Louisa, who he then marries.  Married life is good for them, but Louisa begins to realize the situation Hawk is in, and feels guilty.  So, she decides to do something that causes a bit of conflict, but in the end, all is well, as they realize their love for each other.  There wasn't anything too dramatic; no real shockers in this book.  Just a nice little story.

I like that they didn't just fall in love all of sudden.  Instead, in the beginning, they had a slight interest in each other that they didn't want to admit, and that interest grew as Hawkhurst attempted to court Jenny.  Instead of concentrating on courting Jenny, Hawkhurst couldn't stop thinking about Louisa.  Their love slowly built up, as they learned more about each other.

And I really liked both of the main characters too.  In addition to being the usual strong male, Hawkhurst was kind and passionate, while Louisa was strong, independent and also passionate.  I also liked Jenny Rose and her brother Jeremy Rose.  Jeremy is mentioned more in the last half of the book, and him and Louisa are friendly with each other.  He becomes he champion after Hawkhurst compromises her.  I'm looking forward to his story, as well as Jenny's.  I'm guessing that Jenny will most likely end up with Louisa's brother, as she was dallying with him in this book.  Though I have no idea who Jeremy will end up with, or even if he will have a book in this series.  I hope Ms. Heath writes him a story.  As for Kate Rose...I have to say, I didn't like her very much.  Her story is already out, the second installment of this series.  She ends up with the Marquess of Falconridge, and from the reviews I read, she doesn't change at all from how she is in this book.  The reviews made her seem even worse.  So, I think I'll skip her story.  But I really want to read Jenny's story and Jeremy's story, as Louisa has promised to help him find a wife.  I hope Ms. Heath's muse decides to give her inspiration to write both books soon!

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