9/21/09

The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen


The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Form: Paperback Book

a long, hot summer

That's what sixteen-year-old Macy Queen has to look forward to. Her boyfriend, Jason, is gonig away to Brain Camp. She's stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And all of her free time promises to be spent studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father's death.

But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother's open house events, and she meets with the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy ditches her library job and joins up with hte Wish gang: bighearted Delia; quiet, introspective Monica; and fun-loving, fashion-conscious Kristy. But best of all, there's Wes - artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes - who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way.
Source: back of book


One word summary: rewarding

The Truth About Forever is another good one, to say the least. I really like the story that Sarah Dessen tells. She's got great character development, and the storyline draws you in from the beginning. In this story, the walk through Macy's emergence from "perfect" is almost slow in some areas, but so good that you suck in all the details. There are many wonderful parts to this book - one of my favorite parts would be at the climax - when Macy's sister lays out the grief and pain that she and Macy are still suffering over the death of their father. That moment just lays all the cards on the table and spins the book to an solid ending.

Wes is a great character. I love the game of Truth he plays with Macy throughout the book, and how he's solid and a nice guy. I got chills when he finally passed on a question, because I just knew that the one thing he wanted to do had to do with her. It was very heart-thumping because he knew she wasn't ready. How perfect and wonderful is that?

Jason was awful. Completely weird and annoying. The thing is, if I haven't known people who dealt with life in a similar fashion, I would say that his character was completely unrealistic. But the truth of the matter is, there are people who look at life as a grand "to-do list" and it sucks all the character and passion out of a relationship. I love how Macy just leaves him hanging, she didn't even give him an answer when he wanted to reestablish their relationship.

9/16/09

Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr


Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Form: Book
Series: Tales of Faerie

RULE #3
Don't Stare at invisible faeries.

RULE #2
Don't speak to invisible faeries.

RULE #1
Don't ever attract their attention.

Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. When the rules that have kept Aislinn safe from them stop working, everything is suddenly on the line: her freedom: her best friend, Seth: her life; everything.

Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twenty-first century faery tale.
Source: back of book



One Word Summary: Poetic

I say “poetic” because I think Melissa Marr’s writing style is just that. She may not be making a poem, but she is very descriptive and imaginative, for some reason the entire book sort of reminded me of a beautifully done poem.

I read a few reviews prior to reading Wicked Lovely that made me put off reading the book for a little bit. Mostly reviews where people were having a difficult time getting into the book. I didn’t feel the slowness at all, in fact I really enjoyed the pace of the book. I felt that most any questions you might ask were there, and relationships between characters were well established. It really made the book alive for me, very believable in an unbelievable way.

I like how this isn’t a typical love story. I was afraid that Melissa Marr was going to establish two beautiful relationships and then split them up again in some drastic, over-the-top love scene. So thank you Melissa, for not doing that!

Okay, so my only complaints? Seth was entirely too understanding. Aislinn did some stuff that would have made any guy mad. She kissed another guy for starters, also she changed drastically and suddenly. Yes, it wasn’t her fault, but his temper didn’t flair once. He didn’t seem overly protective of her either – which is an attribute I do love in a book (not so much in real life), but he was just all around a laid back guy. Second, I wanted more drama at the end. I know, I know - Seth was taken, Donia was taken, there was a small battle over control at the end, but it wasn’t nearly as big as I was expecting. I think I was expecting something a little more Holly Black at the end of Tithe; but different author, different set of Fae.

All-in-all, I’m looking forward to reading more of Melissa’s books. Very entertaining, in reality; exactly what I was looking for in a fantasy novel!

Remember Me - Sophie Kinsella


Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Chick Lit
Form: Audio Book

When twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, she's in for a big surprise. Her teeth are perfect. Her body is toned. Her handbag is Vuitton. Having survived a car accident--in a Mercedes no less--Lexi has lost a big chunk of her memory, three years to be exact, and she's about to find out just how much things have changed, Somehow Lexi went from a twenty-five-year-old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, a personal assistant, a carb-free diet, and a set of glamorous new friends. And who is this gorgeous husband--who also happens to be a multimillionaire? With her mind still stuck three years in reverse, Lexi greets this brave new world determined to be the person she...well, seems to be. That is, until an adorably disheveled architect drops the biggest bombshell of all. Suddenly Lexi is scrambling to catch her balance. Her new life, it turns out, comes complete with secrets, schemes, and intrigue. How on earth did all this happen? Will she ever remember? And what will happen when she does?
Source: booksamillion.com



One Word Summary: Typical

Typical in an atypical setting is more like it. I’ve never read a book about anyone who had amnesia, and was unable to recover from it. But as a romance novel goes, it was pretty typical.

There seems to be a rash of books about highly successful women who get the best guy around (it IS fiction afterall,) I guess it’s okay to have everything and more), and personally in most cases I find the whole thing sort of shallow. But in Remember Me I feel like Sophie Kinsella addresses the shallowness, by having Lexi realize that the more she finds out about who she has become, the more she has become someone completely different – and she didn’t like it. I felt like she wafted between being okay with it and being disappointed with herself a little to much. Also, I wasn’t feeling the electric vibes between her and Colin so much – perhaps maybe because the book’s focus wasn’t really about her love, but about her life and getting a chance to undo the monster she’d created the first time around.

9/13/09

Ghostgirl - Tonya Hurley


Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Form: Audio Book

Ever feel invisible?... Charlotte Usher did. Ignored by classmates, overlooked by teachers, beneath contempt of the popular and unnoticed by the guy of her dreams, she barely registered on the map at Hawthorne High - the kind of girl no one would ever miss if she died tomorrow. And then she did. The End?
Not exactly.
Ghostgirl is the story of a misfit teenage girl who dies in a freak accident, and "wakes up" as a ghost in a parallel world, only to find that she still needs to go to class, i.e., Dead Ed, a "finishing" school for other departed teens waiting to cross over. Worst of all, she is still obsessed with all the issues of her previous life, especially her fantasy of befriending Petula, the most popular girl in school, and going to the big school dance with Petula's hot boyfriend Damen - a desire so powerful it transcends death itself. For Charlotte, resting in peace is apparently not an option.
Source: back of audio book



One Word Summary: Bland

I have a feeling that my opinion comes mostly from the narrator. The audio book was approximately 5 hours worth of a monotoned woman’s voice, sometimes fumbling over words and rushing through phases. I was absolutely unimpressed with the performance. In fact, most of the time I was very annoyed because hearing the words that were being read – I could actually tell what type of tone and impression the author was intending, and the narrator just wasn’t getting it. Just because there was one Goth in the story (and it wasn’t Charlotte, she was just a quiet wallflower) did not mean that the entire book needed to be done in a Gothish “I-don’t-care” tone.

Okay, enough of that. The book would be decent for around 11-13 year olds. It was entertaining enough, but not over-the-top with anything. The lesson of the book was more-or-less a “you don’t have to fit in/be yourself” type message. I found it interesting that while Charlotte was the one doing everything she could to be popular and get noticed and belong, Scarlett was just being herself, and it just came naturally. She got the guy, and the popularity (to her surprise) by just being herself. Charlotte was changing who she was in an attempt to become popular, even in the afterlife she was bound and determined to do whatever it took to be noticed. This is the only part I wish Tonya Hurley would have pulled out a bit more. Charlotte does learn to accept who she was, and stop living for the living and join the dead, but it would have been nice if she had also seen that Scarlett was good enough just being who she was, she didn’t need to go through a “makeover” or anything of that nature to have friends and get a boyfriend.

9/7/09

Bloom - Elizabeth Scott


Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Form: Book

Lauren has a good life: decent grades, great friends, and a boyfriend every girl lusts after. So why is she so unhappy?

It takes the arrival of Evan Kirkland for Lauren to figure out the answer: She's been holding back. She's been dneying herself a bunch of things because staying with her loyal and gorgeous boyfriend, Dave, is the "right" thing to do. After all, who would give up the perfect guy?

But as Dave starts talking more and more about their life together, planning a future Lauren simply can't see herself in - and as Lauren's craving for Evan and, moreover, who she is with Evan becomes all the more fierce - Lauren realizes she needs to make a choice...before one is made for her.
Source: back of book


One word Summary: Genuine

The summary for the back of the book really does this book justice. Bloom truly is about Lauren coming into her own, figuring out for herself the difference between what looks good on the outside, and what feels right on the inside. She is able to work through wondering if she'll be like her mother, and her hard feelings for her father and his lack of attention in her life. Her personal growth throughout the book is noticeable.

Elizabeth Scott has really captured the heart of a teenage girl in Lauren. Every insecurity that she has, I'm pretty sure went through my head as well. The insecurity of not being good enough was a major part of my high school career, as well as the idea that everyone around you has the best life possible. I think that if the story was told from the perspective of Dave, his life would not have seemed nearly as perfect.

The best part of this book was the connection between Lauren and Evan. From the moment that Lauren noticed Evan next to her in World History, the sparks started flying. They had chemistry that was so perfect and true. Evan seeing Lauren for who she was, and understanding her insecurities, just made him even more perfect in my eyes than Dave ever was.

9/5/09

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins


Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Form: Book
Series: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Sparks are Igniting.
Flames are Spreading.
And the Capitol wants Revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Millark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katnis and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are even higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
Source: Flap of Book


One word summary: AMAZING!

I think that of all the books that I have read this year (and it's been a lot), this was probably the best. I was surprised more than once at the turn of events that Suzanne Collins took me on in this book. This being said, when I picked up the book earlier this week I was a little leery, due to a review I read in Entertainment Weekly which wasn't bad nor that great. Looking back on it now, I wonder if the author of the article even read beyond the 3rd chapter. Oh well, we all can't like the same things.

Katniss is a strong teenage girl. She's practical. She aims to survive, and protect those that she loves. But she finds herself stuck in an awkward love triangle that a little more than a year ago would never have existed, seeing as how she had no intentions of marrying or having children. Now she's got Peeta who revealed his love for her during the previous year's Hunger Games, a confession that helped them to win the hearts of all the inhabitants of the Capitol as well as helped them to win the games in the end. Then there is Gale, her best friend, hunting partner and confidant since their fathers died in a mining accident. They have relied on each other to live, to keep each others families alive. Gale, who is forced out of the picture because of Peeta, and the fact that everyone outside of District 12 believes they are cousins.

President Snow reveals that Katniss best convince EVERYONE of her and Peeta's love, and that she/they had no intention of starting the sparks of rebellion that have seemingly arose in many of the other district. Unintentionally, Peeta and Katniss seem to add fuel to the flame instead of calming the crowds down, and before they know it - they are off on an another "adventure."

I cannot to express to you how much I love these books, these characters. There are surprises, tender moments, and love. There is hope, fear, and pain. I will be pinning for the 3rd book all year, because I absolutely cannot wait to find out what happens next.

9/4/09

The Treasures of Venice - Loucinda McGary


The Treasures of Venice by Loucinda McGary
Genre: Adult Romance (Suspense)
Form: ARC Book



He's a charming Irish rogue who never met a lock he couldn't pick...

Keirnan Fitzgerald is desperate to locate the missing Jewels of the Madonna. With danger at every corner and time running out, he must use whatever means possible to uncover the stolen jewels in time to save his sister's life....

She's simply in Venice to relax and heal her broken heart...

Samantha Lewis is shocked when a dashing stranger approaches her in a Venetian cafe pretending to know her. She's ready for something new and exciting in her life, so she throws caution to the wind and accompanies the Irish charmer into his dangerous world of intrigue, theft, and betrayal... As the centuries-old story behind the Jewels' disappearance is revealed, Samantha must decide whether the man she's so compellingly drawn to is her soul mate from a previous life, or if they are merely pawns in a relentless quest for a priceless treasure...

Source: back of book




One Word Summary: Creative

The Treasures of Venice was a nice break from my typical paranormal itinerary. I enjoyed the action and the adventure of the hunt for the Jewels of the Madonna as well as of a kidnapped sister who possess the only solid knowledge of the Jewel’s whereabouts. This book was a little bit Indiana Jones meets sexy Irishman.

The story started out very strong, with Keirnan spotting Samantha and using her as his cover, from that moment the relationship between the two did not cease to gain momentum. They had an unexplainable electricity and attraction from the start. Their interaction and relationship are what made this book so good. But then the story-line surely helped in the building of the characters and moving the story along. I enjoyed learning about history of the sought after jewels and the characters surrounding them, and felt like I was getting 2 books in one.

My favorite parts include Keirnan and Sam's first encounter and their tour through Doge's Palace; the beginning of their adventure. I also enjoyed pretty much every time Samantha ends up taking care of Keirnan. My one and only [minor] complaint was the number of times Keirnan mentioned his "libido," not that I have objections to the word or topic matter - I just felt that in a place or two a synonym could have been used.

I really enjoyed The Treasures of Venice, and the adventure it took me on, and I look forward to seeing more books by Loucinda McGary in the future.

9/3/09

Guest Blogger - Loucinda McGary - The Treasures of Venice

Happy Thursday! Today is a special day at I Loves To Read, as I am having my first ever guest blogger, Loucinda McGary. As a special celebration in honor of our guest, I am also hosting a book give-away for her brand new book The Treasures of Venice. I have read this book and can testify (as I will tomorrow in my review) that this book is worth it. So enjoy our special blog, and post a comment at the end for your chance at winning your own copy. (I forgot the rules...)
Rule #1: Only comments on this blog post can win.
Rule #2: Name and e-mail please. And if you'd like, a link to your own blog, for my own pleasure! :)
Rule #3: Contest ends September 10th
~Anita

Loucinda McGary, author of The Treasures of Venice
I Loves 2 Read; September 3, 2009

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog and talk about my new release The Treasures of Venice. This is my second romantic suspense novel for the Sourcebooks Casablanca line and it is now on the shelves of bookstores and available to order online. Like my debut release The Wild Sight, this book is a contemporary romantic suspense with some paranormal elements. It also has an Irish hunk hero, but instead of being set in Ireland, the story is set in Venice, Italy and has a secondary storyline set in 1485.

I’ve recently had several opportunities to speak in person to groups of writers and readers about my writing process in general and both my books in particular. I’d like to share a few of the most frequently asked questions and my answers about The Treasures of Venice.

What gave you the idea for your book?

I heard a piece of music on the radio. I listen to classical music and when an unfamiliar piece came on that I liked, I listened carefully when the announcer said, “That was the incidental music to the opera ‘Jewels of the Madonna’ by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari.” I went home and googled the opera and the composer, who happened to be a Venetian.

Venice is such a romantic city, and I loved the idea of setting a book there. After I started reading the summary of the opera (which is actually set in Naples), I started thinking “what if…” and the idea for The Treasures of Venice was born.

Did you have a tough time coming up with character names and personalities?

No. Generally my characters show up in my imagination with their names and personalities fully intact. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get to know them. Yes, they really do “talk” to me, and I know far more about their lives than is ever written in their particular book.

I will say that coming up with authentic sounding Italian names for many secondary characters was a bit of a challenge. I try not to name my characters the same name as people I know. But I happen to know a lot of people with Italian last names, and I did ‘borrow’ a couple of them just for fun. I’m happy to report, the people involved got a real kick out of it, too!
Are any of the characters like you? Why or why not?

All of my characters have certain aspects that are like me, even the villains! I can’t help myself, because all their thoughts and feelings are filtered through me. While writing this story I would purposely think, “If I were a young woman who’d never had a father, and her fiancĂ© had just jilted her, how would I react if…?” Or, “If I were a guy whose sister has been kidnapped, what would I do if…?”

So in some respects, they are all me, but then again, not really. I would never do some of the things or get myself into the situations that happen to my characters! Thank goodness.

While writing, are you always focused, or distracted?

I’m easily distracted, but I need to stay focused. That’s why I have set writing times and a writing routine. I don’t listen to music (like so many writers do), and I can’t watch TV or carry on conversations (in person or online) while I’m writing. Rewriting and revising are a totally different story, but getting down the first draft requires a lot of concentration. While writing my first drafts I often say I am “in my writing cave” because I sit at my computer all alone, many times until way into the night. Did you ever think your story would one day get published?

I had just about despaired of this book ever being published because it received many rejections over the course of the two years that I submitted it to agents and editors.

To be honest, it did have a few things working against it, the setting of Venice, Italy for one. Editors really seem to want tried and true settings, and all of Italy is not used that often in novels. It also has that dual storyline set in both contemporary and Renaissance time periods that editors and agents weren’t quite sure how to deal with.

But as the saying goes, “it only takes one yes” and I was thrilled when my editor finally said yes to this story! She loved the setting and the dual storyline and ultimately, I think readers will too.
Do you have any other questions about my writing process in general or about The Treasures of Venice? I’d love to answer them!

About the Author
Loucinda McGary took early retirement from her managerial career to pursue her twin passions of travel and writing, and sets her novels of romantic suspense in the fascinating places she has visited. She was a finalist in the 2006 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest in Romantic Suspense. She lives in Sacramento, CA. For more information, please visit http://loucindamcgary.com/.