3/26/11

Love Virtually - Daniel Glattauer

Love VirtuallyLove Virtually by Daniel Glattauer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the world of social networking, a book such as this one is perfect, because it is reality. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard of people meeting up with an old flame via Facebook, or Myspace or a chatroom or whatever. Just today, in fact, I heard a story about a marriage that was broken due to a "friend" on Facebook. Let's face it, the trap of finding intimacy within the virtual walls of the computer, is real.

So the book - yes, that is my focus, the book. Love Virtually was great! It was funny, and crazy and to be quite honest, it sucks you in within the first 5 e-mails. Yes, the book is filled cover to cover with nothing but e-mails. In the past I have read books like this; completely filled with e-mails and other impersonal type contact, thinking "wow, what a cleaver idea," only to be left with a bit of an emptiness, because of the lack of character, the lack of description, the lack of a true story. I honestly believe that Daniel Glattauer has wiped these other books completely off the table and replaced them with what they should have been. The way that Daniel Glattauer makes up for the "lack" that I have just mentioned - he addresses it head on. The fact that these characters are faceless, two-dimensional beings is a driving point in the book. It is mentioned countless times, maybe in even every single chapter. The fact that these characters (Emmi and Leo, by the way) are abstract is something even they are aware of.

You only get to know the characters because they choose to let you in. Even then, the revelations seem so minor in comparison to their intoxication with each other, even when they are bickering and even fighting back and forth, it all seems like a sort of foreplay.

There were times that I was extremely frustrated with Emmi. I mean, she is so sure of her perfect life, it's as if she wanted to portray (at times) that she was not nearly as invested in the relationship as Leo, because she pretty much already HAS a perfect life. Then she would throw temper tantrums, get jealous, etc., only to come crawling back apologizing or whining because he wasn't talking to her. So yeah, she could be a little annoying. But Leo wasn't without his baggage. A little wine, and he was off comparing Emmi with Marlene, the one thing Emmi would truly have to complain about, yet never did.

Anyhow, this completely obsessive relationship based solely on e-mail contact spirals and dips and dives and intensifies all the way to the very end...It's not edge of your seat drama, but you won't be able to put the book down until you get to the last page regardless.
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Beastly - Movie Adaptation

Beastly Poster
Finally – a movie adaptation that has been done almost perfectly! 
 
I loved the movie version of Beastly.  Sure, the acting was as little bit rough in the beginning; the girl playing Kyle Kingston’s girlfriend was stiff and seemed to be over acting a little bit, for starters, but once the movie moved forward – the acting and the movie itself only got better. I am so thankful that the screenwriter/director/etc did not feel the need to move away from the plot and details that Alex Finn had already created – keeping the movie as true to the book as possible is the way to go!  Especially if you want to continue to get the support of book lovers!  I am thankful that the cheesy web-forum chats were taken out – but then I can’t imagine how they would have been included in the first place.  The lack of these scenes also made the characters seem a bit more mature than they did in the book. 
 
I had made my husband watch the trailer of Beastly months ago – and thankfully for the most part we are both into the scifi/fantasy genre, he’s a little more scifi horror, while I do prefer the relationship/romance version, but we both give and take, so he was easily on board with seeing the movie.  He did, however, grow a little skeptical when he saw that Mary Kate Olsen was in the movie.  It only took my whispered explanation, “she’s the witch,” to calm his apprehension.  I actually feel bad that is true, Mary Kate and Ashley were wonderful actresses in their time, but I think media and the fact that we haven’t really seen them in anything in a long time, and growing up in general has affected our points of view on them. 
 
Anyhow, I had not seen Vanessa Hudgens in anything except HSM 1 & 2, but she is quite honestly a good actress.  I’m thinking that if she sticks with this genre, there will be some more work for her in the near future.
 
This is the first time I’ve ever seen Alex Pettyfer in anything, but I can see why he’s most people’s number one pick for Jace Wayland in City of Bones. It’s mostly the blond wavy locks, and the killer smile.  Quick Wikipedia search tells me he’s accepted the part as Daniel in Fallen (which I had no idea was being made into a movie – but am a bit excited about now.) 

Loved Neil Patrick Harris!  He’s role, though small, was done very well.  He was perfect for the role.

3/23/11

Delirium - Lauren Oliver

DeliriumDelirium by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is absolutely amazing! I cannot applaud Lauren Oliver enough on her story telling abilities. Everything from the premises to the prose is wonderfully beautiful. Her use of descriptive words and metaphors paint a perfect picture without being overly wordy making this book very enjoyable to listen to.

I love how Lena’s character builds throughout the book. She starts off disgusted by the “love disease.” Even in the opening passage she talks about how she can almost feel it pumping through her veins, and how she cannot wait for her turn to get the cure. She has been mentally counting down for a good portion of her life, a countdown that is ever present (but, thank GOD, is not the beginning number to every chapter or anything like that) throughout the entire book at first as something to look forward to, but eventually as ticking bomb. The truth of the matter is, there is no wishy-washyness about this character at all. There is no unrealistic “epiphany” that happens, and all of the sudden Lena changes her mind. Even as she slowly begins to unravel the lies and deceptions of the government, Lena slides quickly back and forth between finding safety with Alex and his ways, and finding that same security within the walls and rules that she has had fed to her from the very beginning.

Alex is just a tiny bit too perfect, but the absolute best (and favorite) kind of guy you want to read in a book…well, at least a book like this (I mean…everyone loves a bad boy now and then…). He was extremely understanding and supportive. Never pushy, and was able to take his time and let Lena come to her own opinions and conclusions. I don’t know very many people who would actually be able to practice such great will power…not to mention the amount of making out they supposedly did; he never made a wrong move…not once. I did like that he wasn’t over bearing, or over protective, but at times he was able to take command and calm Lena down or get her to understand when something was important. I wish we could have seen more of him and his chameleon act, he seemed very good at it, and it would have been nice to have seen more of it than the little bit we saw in the crypts.

I loved Lena and Alex together, of course. But for this being the first time Lena has ever allowed herself to experience love, it was so nice to “experience” that gittyness through her, and as I mentioned earlier Lauren Oliver is the master of description – it was as if you felt what Lena was feeling. I have to admit, the Plain White T’s Rhythm of Love song was playing through my head for a good chuck of the middle of the book. I have been playing it on my iPod as well when I wasn’t listening to the book, and it really is the perfect love song for this book. You should listen – pay attention to the lyrics.

Rhythm of Love

Hannah was the hardest character for me to figure out. I continued to expect things out of her, and then she wouldn’t do what I expected. I was surprised, and then understanding about her very teenage rebellion fit, but then, just like Lena did a bit, sliding back into the safety of her life. Even though my imagination took Hannah’s character to so many different angles and events – she turned out to be an amazingly good friend to Lena.

BTW, while there isn’t much to say about her…I loved Grace. I want to see more of her. Please?! Since this is a trilogy and all, and I have to wait an ENTIRE YEAR (yes, I know it’s normal…but it’s still sooo hard) for the next book.

One question I have to ask….why did Lena never tell Alex that she didn’t actually stand him up on their first “meeting?” Did I miss this somewhere??




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3/17/11

Perfect Chemistry - Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, #1)Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Summary

Brittany is starting her senior year of high school, and she is bound and determined to make this her best year yet, but it seems that her life hasn't caught up with her ideals. First she gets stuck with the schools biggest trouble maker and gang member, Alex Fuentes, as a lab partner in Chemistry, but troubles at home with her sister have been increasing. Her parents seem to be as disconnected as ever. On top of all that, things with her boyfriend, Colin, just aren't what they used to be. Is it him or her? And what is it about Alex that keeps her from thinking straight anyway

Review

While the idea of taking characters who have an assumed life or personality and giving them depth has been done before, I really enjoyed Simone Elkeles's version. Gang members are (and probably rightly so) considered dangerous and, like Alex, they are probably stereotyped as being trouble makers and slackers. Alex, however, had reasons for everything he did, and honestly did not enjoy being "that guy" that everyone was afraid of, despite the fact that he tried hard to portray that person outwardly. Likewise, while Brittany was the super popular, extremely rich cheerleader, she was far from the perfect person she made everyone believe that she was. I think, especially as teenagers, many people hide behind similar masks. Not to this extreme of course, but we have a version of ourselves that we let people see - and then we have the person we wish we were.

Another secondary storyline that I also loved about this story was the crossing of racial and class structure boundaries. This is another reality that even I remember from school. Clicks in High School are very popular, and can be divided based on anything; grades, musicians, race, class, etc. I liked how both Brittany and Alex at some point in this book were working toward crossing those clicks and boundaries and showing their classmates that their assumptions and ideas about other people weren't necessarily founded on facts.

I do recommend this book for the reasons above, however I do caution - this book is defiantly meant for older "young adults," and not teenagers or young teens by any stretch of the imagination.

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3/11/11

Call Me Irresistible - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Call Me IrresistibleCall Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Summary:

Meg Koranda flies to Wynette, TX to be the Maid of Honor in her best friend, Lucy’s, wedding only to find out that Lucy is having doubts about the whole thing. After helping her realize that Lucy was getting ready to make a grand mistake which resulting in her leaving her groom, Ted waiting at the alter, Meg becomes the most hated person in town. Unfortunately, being bankrupt and cut off by her family, Meg is stuck. She is left to stick it out and make what she can of herself in Wynette until she can get her feet back under her and a little money in her pocket. That is until she gets all tangled up with the town’s need to build a new, environmentally sound golf course, a project that Wynette’s towns people are counting on to bring the prosperity to their dying city. This also results in Meg getting all tangled up with the towns perfect citizen and mayor, AND her best friends dumped fiancĂ©, Ted Beaudine.

Review:

As always, Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes the perfectly sizzling romance, which includes the rich, famous and perfect. Honestly, every single time I pick up one of her novels I always think, “I don’t care about the rich and famous, and I don’t really want to be reading a romance novel about them,” and every single time she sucks me in. I think it’s the fact that these perfect people end up not being so perfect, they have flaws, defaults, make mistakes and act stupid. Never mind the fact that Susan Elizabeth Phillips has a tendency to cause you to laugh out loud at least once in every book.

I always fall in love with the characters, and really enjoy seeing them return in other novels as well, but this time I was a little bit annoyed with Meg. She was perfectly sassy and had lots of attitude and determination, but I absolutely hated how she always made herself the scapegoat, throwing herself under the bus every chance she got. I was thinking that this was a character flaw that she would eventually stand up against in the end, but no – even in one of the final scenes she stands up and declares how everything was her fault and making up excuses. Ted was also a little but oblivious to everything Meg was going through. He acted like he knew, especially when he visited Meg’s parents, but Meg was harassed non-stop throughout the entire book. She was getting it from the left and right, and even though she did act as a buffer, protecting Ted from what was going on, all he would have had to do was open his eyes and pay attention.

I absolutely looooved the very last scene of the book – of which I’m not telling you about – it made the perfect ending!

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The Lost Saint - Bree Dispain

The Lost Saint (The Dark Divine,  #2)The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Summary:

Grace is working on using her wolf skills without actually letting the wolf take control, a skill that Daniel once was on board with, but is starting to take a step back and rethink the wisdom in the training. Determined to find her brother, Jude, and to do good with the lot that she has been given, Grace stumbles upon another of her kind – Nathan Talbot, who agrees to help her train and quickly becomes her mentor and the one other guy besides Daniel who causes her blood to stir. Between training and kicking some demon butt, the wolf inside Grace is making his voice known, causing her to say and do thinks that she normally wouldn’t.


Review:

I was so disappointed in both Grace and Daniel throughout this book. The characters that had so much fire and passion, who had demonstrated acts of true love in The Dark Divine have fizzled out to silliness and immaturity in The Lost Saint. Grace, who is so smart and level headed doesn’t seem to recognize the wolf voice within her, or maybe she does realize it it, but I would have thought she would have been able to understand that the voice was obviously manipulating her. I’m disappointed in both of them because of their desire to keep secrets under the guise of “protecting” the other, when really both Grace and Daniel were thinking about only themselves, and what they wanted. An ounce of communication would have eliminated a pound of frustration, disappointment, and hurt. Neither were willing to give, even when Daniel was suspected of doing things on the sly – things that seemed like would be getting him in trouble. Given the fact that Grace knew that he was keeping secrets and showing up at places he probably shouldn’t have been, it’s no wonder that she started looking to Talbot more and more.

I also feel like there is a lot going on with the folklore in the story. While I may just not be remembering every detail from The Dark Divine, but I was a little taken back by the different types of wolves, the vampires, and then the demons. Yet it all seemed like a small part of the book's point, and more of a way for Grace and Talbot to bond than a really important part of the book. Also, I was a little surprised at the lack of Jude, given the fact that he called Grace in the very beginning, and then Grace’s little brother was having nightmares and “seeing things,” which also seemed to drop off suddenly. Then there were Jude’s comments and messages to April. All of that, also, seemed to be a rather insignificant part of the book. It just seemed like there was so much more potential for story movement within the other aspects of the book outside of relationship (Grace/Daniel; Grace/Wolf; Grace/Talbot), which seemed to be what the book seemed to focus on the most.

The Lost Saint is obviously the tension of the entire series. There is so much friction and so many unknowns. It’s at this point when you sit and think, “what is going to happen next?” and every fangirl is going to come up with their own desired HEA for book number 3. In any series, this is the shaky ground – the final book will determine whether this series is a pretty good series or one that is just okay.

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3/6/11

Discounted eBooks - (some for free)

*Note to all readers, I have not actually read any of these books, this is just for your information!

Discounted eBooks

To Defy a King


To Defy a King

By Elizabeth Chadwick
$2.99

"The best writer of
historical fiction."
--Historical Novels Review

The adored and spirited daughter of England's greatest knight, Mahelt Marshal lives a privileged life. But when her beloved father falls foul of the volatile and dangerous King John, her world is shattered. The king takes her brothers hostage and Mahelt's planned marriage to Hugh Bigod, son of the Earl of Norfolk, takes place sooner than she expected. Mahelt and Hugh come to care for each other deeply, but Hugh's strict father clashes with the rebellious Mahelt. When more harsh demands from King John threaten to tear the couple's lives apart, Mahelt finds herself facing her worst fears alone, not knowing if she--or her marriage--will survive.
Sins of the House of Borgia


Sins of the House of Borgia

By Sarah Bower
$2.99

A Notorious Duke
An Infamous Duchess
An Innocent Girl

Violante isn't supposed to be here, in one of the grandest courts of Renaissance Italy. She isn't supposed to be a lady-in-waiting to the beautiful Lucrezia Borgia. But the same secretive  politics that pushed Lucrezia's father to the Vatican have landed Violante deep in a lavish landscape of passion and ambition.
Violante discovers a Lucrezia unknown to those who see only a scheming harlot, and all the whispers about her brother, Cesare Borgia, never revealed the soul of the man who dances close with Violante.
But those who enter the House of Borgia are never quite the same when they leave--if they leave at all. Violante's place in history will test her heart and leave her the guardian of dangerous secrets she must carry to the grave.

Free eBooks

Darcy's Voyage


Darcy's Voyage

By Kara Louise
Free

A Tale of Uncharted Love on the Open Seas
In this enchanting and highly original retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet sets out for the new world aboard the grand ship Pemberley's Promise. She's prepared for an uneventful voyage until a chance encounter with the handsome, taciturn Mr. Darcy turns her world upside down.
When Elizabeth falls ill, Darcy throws convention overboard in a plan that will bind them to each other more deeply than he ever could have imagined. But the perils of their ocean voyage pale in comparison to the harsh reality of society's rules that threaten their chance at happiness. When they return to the lavish halls of England, will their love survive?
World from Rough Stones


World from Rough Stones

By: Malcolm Macdonald
Free

The unforgettable first novel in the classic Stevenson Family Saga from epic master Malcolm Macdonald
John Stevenson is a just a foreman when a near-fatal accident bring young Nora Telling into his life. Her nimbleness of mind and his power of command enable them to take over the working mill and rescue it from catastrophe. Together with their friends the Thorntons--who are troubled by a marriage mismatched in passion--they are willing to risk any dare, commit themselves to any act of cunning on their climb from rags to riches.
The first novel in the classic Stevenson Family Saga, The World from Rough Stones is the epic story of two ambitious but poor young people who, at the very start of the Victorian Era, combine their considerable talents to found a dynasty and go on to fame and fortune.
"A monumental saga...rich and tremendous."
--Boston Globe

3/5/11

Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Summary

In her senior year of High School, Anna's father, a now famous sappy tragic romance book writer, decides that Anna should spend the year studying abroad in Paris. Torn from her best friend, Bridget, and her almost-boyfriend, Toph, her brother, Sean, and everything she knows - Anna reluctantly goes to Paris and is immediately struck with homesickness and a feeling of being lost, and a fear of sticking out like a sore thumb. Thankfully, with the help of a group of friends, Anna finds herself able to navigate the streets of Paris, at times even alone. She's learning French, and seeing things she's never even dreamed of being able to see. She's also finding herself torn between Toph, and her new best friend St. Clair (Etienne), the sexy American with an English accent and a French father. The friendship that sparks immediately quickly flames into much more.

Review

I loved this book. It was so fun and entertaining and just beautiful. It had a certain "Twilight" appeal that I think I've finally figured out the source of; the book focuses almost entirely on the two main characters. Everything else in the book is sort of part and partial. You get to know the main characters, in this case Anna and Etienne, so well that they become a part of your mind. They are like friends or alter egos or something. You want to keep going and going with the story, even though there is just no more to tell. I'm pretty sure the same thing with Bella and Edward applies...it has nothing to do with sparkly vampires, and everything to do with knowing the characters completely. Anyway....

I almost don't even know what else to say. I think I really enjoyed the progress between Anna and Etienne. I loved the light teasing and playfulness between them that just continued to spark and grow as the book moved forward. I enjoyed the lightness of the book too. There were no major serious undertones. I don't want all off the books I read to be that low on content, but I love a break from seriousness. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that before though.

So I have one major MAJOR problem, and I don't think that this has anything to do with the author, and I'm sure it has nothing to do with the book. Has anyone noticed the vast amounts of grammatical, technical and spelling errors that comes with reading an e-book?? Why is that? Some of the technical stuff I understand, because converting text often does that. I have that problem just moving something from work, into email, then opening it up at home. But spelling errors? What, are we getting the 2nd or 3rd draft instead of the final? I have wondered more than once if the actual book was published that way, and I'd wager to say no...but since I'm reading the e-book, I can't be positive about that.

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