Friday, June 21, 2013

Anybody But Him

Title: Anybody But Him

Author: Claire Baxter
Date Read: June 6, 2013
ARC Book
Summary: A deliciously funny rom com from Random Romance. What happens when you fall in love with the man you hate?

Nicola Doyle's dating record is a disaster, and it doesn't improve when she returns to Redgum Valley, after an absence of twelve years, to look after her increasingly eccentric parents. There, she's thrown into regular contact with Blair Morrissey – the very reason she couldn't wait to leave town in the first place.

The decade-old scars are still raw from that humiliating day in high school – when Blair went from the boy she loved to the boy she hated.

Except Blair doesn't seem to be a ‘bad boy' any more – in fact, he's charming, infuriatingly helpful and extremely attractive.

If only Nicola could forgive and forget . . . goodreads
Review: In this sweet novella, we are introduced to Nicola, a successful business woman who has recently returned home for a few months. Little does she know that those three months will re-introduce her to the man who shattered her heart in high school and lead to a different perspective on events that have happened in the past. Blair is the handsome, charming, artistic high-school-heart-breaker, but he very quickly makes it clear that things are different now from what they used to be. Blair is easy to like and makes an effort to welcome Nicola back home. Meanwhile, Nicola despises Blair and has a very tight grip on the past and everything negative thing that has ever happened to her. Eventually, Blair is able to break through Nicola’s walls that she has put up and teach her that sometimes, we have to let go of the past in order to have a future.
I really enjoyed the majority of the characters in this book. Blair seemed sincere and his excuses for what happened in high school were legitimate (even though they were excuses for bad behavior). I loved Nicola’s parents and their quirkiness (definitely some dementia going on that was never fully addressed). I was happy to see that Nicola’s best friend was able to move on and find happiness for herself. But despite all of that, I never warmed up to Nicola. She seems to base her whole life around judgment. She holds onto the quick judgments she made as a child (which were distorted) and uses them to color her world. She is also very concerned with everyone else’s judgment of her and allows that to impact her confidence and ability to be herself. I like to think that Blair eventually helped Nicola to overcome her strong hold on the past but it would have been nice to see some of that happen in the book.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fool Me Twice


Title: Fool Me Twice
Author: Jim Dodge Jr.
Date Read: June 20, 2013
Summary: Set in the near future, Fool Me Twice follows ex-cop Colin Chapel on his quest to fight evil and return truth, justice and the American way to a troubled land. Standing in his way is the Regency, an organization of terror and tragedy. Only with the help of his adopted daughter, Shoestring, his lover Sgt. Suzie and a ton of other friends does Chapel have any hope of winning the day. goodreads
Review: Wait, what??! This book had potential! I really enjoyed the main character, Chapel, who was extremely sarcastic, if a little vulgar, and Shoestring was the cutest, scariest thing I could imagine. The pace of the book was extremely fast which left some things unanswered and unexplained but overall, I was enjoying myself. Then, all of a sudden, it ended. There was a “war” and a very unhappy ending which didn’t make sense. No rhyme or reason, it just ended. Left me wondering where the rest of the book was. Very bizarre!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Gift


Title: The Gift
Author: James Patterson
Date read: June 18, 2013
Series: Witch and Wizard #2
Summary: When Whit & Wisty were imprisoned by the wicked forces of the totalitarian regime known as the New Order, they were barely able to escape with their lives. Now part of a hidden community of teens like themselves, Whit and Wisty have established themselves as leaders of the Resistance, willing to sacrifice anything to save kids kidnapped and brutally imprisoned by the New Order. But the One has other plans in store for them: He needs Wisty, for she is "The One Who Has the Gift." While trying to figure out what that means, Whit and Wisty's suspenseful adventures through Overworld and Shadowland lead to a jaw-dropping climax and conclusion: the highly-anticipated fulfillment of the heart-pounding opening prologue of book one...The Execution of the Allgoods. goodreads
Review: I knew exactly what to expect with this book so I’m not sure why I was so disappointed. This is the second book in the Witch and Wizard series which is one of James Patterson’s young adult series. I’ve read the Maximum Ride books which is very similar to this. I know to expect two page chapters, kids rebelling against the adults, and the theme of “kids can make a difference.” For some reason though, I just wasn’t interested in this book. I got sick of the siblings getting caught and then escaping over and over. I don’t feel like anything really happened in this book to carry the story along. It’s not often I give up on series, but I’m pretty sure this is the last Witch and Wizard book I’ll read.

 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bloglovin

I've joined bloglovin (since google reader disappeared) and want to make it easier to follow me as well as find other book blogs to read. Any initial suggestions? I also need tips on how to use blogloving (like how do I see my followers so I can follow them?)
 
Any help is greatly appreciated!

Firefly Lane



Title: Firefly Lane
Author: Kristin Hannah
Date Read: June 17, 2013
Summary: In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.

Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship---jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you---and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend. goodreads
Review: I was dragged through many different emotions while reading this book. Initially, I was very interested in the story line and thought it had great potential. It didn’t take long for me to become a little annoyed with the main characters. Tully is the rebellious one with a mother who is a drug addict who constantly let her down while she was growing up. Katie is the perfect overachiever who doesn’t realize how good she has it. Somehow, these two complete opposites meet on their street, Firefly Lane, and become lifelong friends (a little farfetched but I’ll go with it.) As the main characters were developed, it bothered me how extreme in their different personalities they were and it became predictable. Katie is going to play the victim and Tully is going to be selfish. The overall theme of this book seemed to be “the grass is always greener.”
Even though they are best friends, they are both very wrapped up in their own lives and never seem to take the time to consider what it must be like for the other one. Throughout the book they show they care in various ways like showing up when they need each other or calling each other on their crap but at moments it seemed superficial. It took me a long time to connect with these characters but about halfway through the book, the author hooked me. I felt like the second half of the book began to pull on the heart strings and address real topics that families face. I’ll admit, by the end of the book, the tears were streaming. I think I would rate the first half of this book a 3 but the second half a 4. Even though the characters irked me at times, I enjoyed seeing their lives play out. Since my lasting impression will be enjoying the end of the book, I’m going with an overall rating of 4/5.  
 
 

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Art of Deception

Title: The Art of Deception

Author: Nora Roberts

Date Read: June 17, 2013

Summary: Supposedly he had come to her father's estate looking for respite. But was handsome Adam Haines the man he pretended to be? Or was Kirby Fairchild in danger of falling hard for a stranger who was even more practiced in the art of deception than she was? goodreads

Review: I was disappointed by my last two books so I decided to return to an old favorite who I knew would give me a quick, romantic, easy read and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m a pretty big fan of Nora Roberts because I think she does romance without being trashy and every girl could use more romance in her life (trashy has its place as well.) Side note: two of my favorite romance series are Roberts’ Bride Quartet and the Inn Boonsboro trilogy. Check them out! This novel introduces us to the feisty Kirby, the mysterious Adam, and the lovable Fairchild. The latter may be at the top of my list of favorite characters. He is adoring, quirky, brilliant, and hilarious. He may be why I liked this book so much. All three main characters are artists who live in a “world of restrained wealthy where champagne fizzed quietly and dignity was an essential as the proper alma mater.” There is a certain level of intrigue and mystery to this love story and the dialogue is full of witty banter and biting sarcasm. Sure, there were parts that were predictable but I found myself surprised by at least one twist. The only thing that bothered me a little was the point of view would change rapidly from focusing on one character for a long period of time to another with very little warning. I caught myself doing a couple double takes to figure out who was thinking/talking. Overall, this book was a very entertaining, quick read.


Fingersmith

Title: Fingersmith

By: Sarah Waters

Date Read: 6/15/13

Summary: Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.
One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a na├»ve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.
With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways...But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals. (From goodreads)

Review: As soon as Sue arrives at Briar, the foreshadowing begins with phrases such as “I thought I knew all about (Maude). Of course, I knew nothing” which leads us quickly to believe there will be a twist to this story at some point. And lo and behold there is! There are actually quite a few. Overall, I think the twists were pretty clever but that’s about all the good I have to say about this book. I think that may be because the first twist took the story completely off track from the reason I picked the book up in the first place. I enjoyed the idea of con men and thieves and deceit but the main character who was supposed to be doing all of that was relatively dumb and all of the characters that continued to be introduced were just as ignorant. I don’t think I found any character I actually enjoyed throughout the whole book other than maybe Charley Wag, the dog.

As far as writing style goes, I understand the author’s goal of creating a Victorian novel but she fell very short. There were long periods of lag time between the twists and instead of using these times for character development; they seemed more for passing time and filling up pages. I also hated the “love story.” I have read a lot of classics and Austen and Dickens do a great job of developing love stories set in this time period and while it is drier than more contemporary literature, you still understand how the relationship developed. There was none of that in this book. I don’t want to spoil anything but I feel like the love story in this book started out as shock value and the author just ran with it. This book was not what I thought it would be and not in a good way. I'm also aware that I'm in the minority with my rating/review of this book. Just don't get it...


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fight Club



Title: Fight Club

Author: Chuck Palahniuk

Date Read: 6/9/13

Summary: The unnamed narrator of this book uses support groups, for afflictions he is not a victim of, as a cure for his insomnia until he meets a fellow support group junkie, Marla Singer. Marla also attends support groups of various conditions and the narrator finds himself being judged for being a liar. Soon after, he meets Tyler Durden who changes the way he sees everything. Tyler is a sort of revolutionary who forces the narrator to take risks and re-evaluate his life. In doing so, Tyler creates Fight Club where people can beat each other up in order to experience a manner of freedom. As time goes on, fight club isn’t enough for Tyler so he creates Project Mayhem, a way for members to induce pandemonium on corporate America through various pranks and plots. The narrator eventually begins to see that Tyler is getting out of control which leads to the realization of some of his own ideas and view of things that he was previously unaware of.

Review: Unfortunately, this was one of those times I saw the movie before I read the book and I think it greatly affected my opinion. The point of fight club is to be able to go somewhere and let out aggression and frustrations that other parts of your life are causing, in a very manly way of course. The narrator was very cynical while Tyler was very focused on bringing down the “man.” Since I saw the movie, I knew the big twist was coming and it changed how I read the narrative from the very beginning. I was able to pick up on queues that I know I would have missed on the first reading but it also allowed me to understand the book better than I think I would have had I not seen the movie. The writing was a little spacey and hard to follow at times but I believe that was to accentuate the narrator’s state of mind. I enjoyed how the book ended and the narrators desire to undo all of the things that got out of control. His realization that he was unable to do so was well done and the outcome of that was extreme but fitting. Overall, I’m not too big on anarchy or blood and punching people in the face to cope so this book wasn’t for me but I highly recommend the movie based simply on the fact that it’s one of Brad Pitt’s best.


*Not a very positive review for my first blog post but at least you know I'll be honest :)






Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Welcome to Beauty and the Book!

Thanks for stopping by! This blog is going to be dedicated to all things books. I will be reviewing the books I read peridocally and posting them here. You can also feel free to follow me on goodreads where I particpate in reading challenges and discussions. I'm relatively new to this offical book review thing so bear with me. If you have any advice, I would greatly appreciate it! I'm also open to reviewing ARC books of just about any genre. Contact me for more info.