Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Midnight Masquerade by Marcia McClure

I didn’t realize until I started reading that this is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I have enjoyed this fairytale and all the recent retellings that have come out. I liked McClure’s take on it though, definitely making it original and unique. I liked that there were still the elements from the original fairytale, but was told from a different perspective. I also liked the reason behind the dancing, seemed more plausible than enchantments and magic.

I liked our main characters Evony (pretty name) and Stavos. They of course have good chemistry together and I felt their connection was realistic. With the setting and with everything going on I was able to believe them falling in love so quickly. Usually that’s a tough sale for me, but I bought it here. Evony is of course sweet, beautiful and kind. She is also selfless and has put her life on hold to protect her siblings and help her family. I like that she didn’t sit back and let someone else do the rescuing, she was an active participant in making sure everything turned out right. Stavos is what you want in a hero. Not only is he good looking, but he has a caring heart and is fearless. He has high morals and stands up for what he believes in. Like I said, they are great together.

The overall story was fun and even though I’ve read a few different versions of the story, it was fun to see how McClure made it her own. And it's that cover so pretty?

McClure has written a couple other retellings (Saphyre Snow and The Whispered Kiss) which were both fun, so I was excited when I saw she has plans to write a few more retellings based on Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and 1001 Arabian Nights. Definitely something to look forward to.

Content: Clean, PG. Kissing!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Emma: A Latter-day Tale by Rebecca Jamison

Emma's her name and matchmaking is her game! Quirky life coach Emma wants to help her first-ever client, a lonely nanny named Harriet. But all of her attempts at matchmaking result only in embarrassing miscues and blunders, leaving the pair disheartened and confused. This modern take on the Jane Austen classic shows that sometimes the greatest match is the one we make for ourselves.
I thought this was a fun retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. It sticks pretty closely to the format of the original, but does do its own thing. Especially towards the end. I liked when it changed things up a bit and became more unique. I think I liked Emma more in the original version, but she was still okay in this one and you still root for her to figure things out. I didn’t feel as much chemistry between her and Justin, but I still liked their relationship. Overall, it was a fun romantic comedy and would recommend to any Austen fans or for anyone that enjoys that genre. Content: Clean, G.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough. Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.
I thought this was a lot of fun. I’m a big fan of Jane Austen (who isn’t?) and loved the Kiera Knightly movie version. I actually remember watching it for the first time and the second it ended (around midnight) I made my husband go buy me a copy. I couldn’t wait to own it and make all my family and friends watch it. Beautifully done (and much better than the BBC version!), IMO. Anyway, I thought the premise for the book was cute. Elizabeth fell in love with Mr. Darcy and would settle for no one else. I won’t say too much about the plot so I won’t give away spoilers, but soon a love-triangle emerges when Elizabeth has to choose between a guy she likes and a guy who she feels resembles her Mr. Darcy. I did think it was a tad crazy how obsessed she was with Mr. Darcy (and the actor who played him). It was nice to see her grow and watch as she figures out what she really wants in a relationship and choosing someone who is the best fit. Elizabeth was a likable heroine. She is a nice person and I thought that when she was with Chad she was much more herself and I enjoyed their time together. The guys. I liked Chad. We’re supposed to like Chad. He is a great guy, treats Elizabeth well and is obviously crazy about her. He respects her and accepts her for who she is. He encourages her and even when she dumps him is still understanding and tries to be a good friend. Then there is Matt. I didn’t really care for him. I guess we’re not supposed to. I was surprised Elizabeth dated him so long when it was obvious that they had nothing in common. Aside from his resemblance to the actor who plays Mr. Darcy, I didn’t see any other similarities. I actually disliked it when she would compare them and find them similar. I guess I always pictures Mr. Darcy a lot nicer, sure he was a bit cold at first, but I never get the impression he thought he was better than anyone else. Matt does. He is pretty snobby. Again, I don’t think we’re really supposed to be rooting for him, so it’s no surprise he’s not that likable. Overall, a fun read. If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice you’ll enjoy this story. I liked that it wasn’t a retelling of the classic, but its own story. I thought the cover was pretty as well.

Content: Clean.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Scholar by May Nicole Abbey

A leap through time. A choice to make. A destiny to change. Dismissed by her professors, ridiculed by her classmates, Serena Metcalfe is determined to prove the existence of the Samu Aqaru, the powerful stone of the ancient pharaohs – even if it means travelling through time. But her study of Egyptology did not prepare her for the dangers and passions of the real Egypt of 2361 BC. Crocodile attacks, kidnapping, betrayal, murder…and a pharaoh who believes she is a goddess and wants her as his queen. But Serena isn’t about to give herself to a king – not when finding the precious Stone could mean saving the man she loves. Irresistible playboy Shepseskaf, fated for an early death, and his loyal yet ruthless cousin Pepisenkaura were once the closest of friends, but the right to the throne of Egypt and their rivalry for Serena threaten to transform them into bitter and eternal enemies. Only Serena knows the tragic destiny that awaits, and only Serena can rewrite history…by following her heart.
I really enjoyed the Egyptian setting in this novel. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that takes place in this time period before and I really liked it. Serena was a pretty likable heroine; she really goes through a lot, but always remains positive. I like that she is loyal and tries to do the right thing. It does take her awhile to decide what to do about her future and to see her own worth. I liked how by the end you can see how one person really can make a difference. I liked our hero, he really grew on my throughout the story and he was very protective of Serena. I don’t know much about the ancient Egyptian culture, but I don’t imagine the women were treated very well. So, it was nice to see the hero treat Serena with respect. There is a bit of a love-triangle, which was handled well. There is quite a bit of action and once you start reading it’s hard to put down. I thought this was quite different than the first book in the series, maybe because of the setting? I enjoyed it though and it makes me want to read more books that take place in Egypt, fun setting. Overall, it was a fun read. Content: Clean, PG.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Working It Out by Rachael Anderson

A chance encounter . . . Grace Warren's life is safe and predictable—exactly the way she likes it. But when she gets roped into going to an auction to help out a friend, everything changes. She meets Seth Tuttle—a guy who unexpectedly kisses her then disappears, leaving her flustered and upset. If she never sees him again, it will be too soon. A chance for love . . . Weeks later, when Seth limps into Grace's rehab clinic post surgery, he's every bit as frustrating and annoying as she remembered. Yet there's something about him that makes her second-guess her carefully placed boundaries even though he's everything she's sure she doesn't want in a man. But maybe Seth is exactly what Grace has needed all along—assuming she's willing to risk safe and predictable for a chance at love.
I am a big fan of Rachael’s and was really looking forward to her newest book, Working It Out. The synopsis sounded fun and it did not disappoint. I loved our heroine Grace, I liked to see the changes she went through and how she grew as a character. I also liked Seth, I love confident guys. Grace and Seth had some great chemistry and fun moments between them. I liked how their relationship progressed, totally realistic. I like that their attraction for each other didn’t overshadow the story; they had a lot more things to like about one another than their looks. It felt like they were able to build up a friendship (from a fun awkward start) into a relationship that you can easily believe will last. I liked how they brought out the best in each other and how they were willing to make changes and take risks. Just a great couple. Rachael’s stories are always full of witty dialog, charming characters and stories with depth. I love that they are positive and upbeat, but always seem to have something special about them. Her characters are easy to relate to and it’s fun to learn from them. This was a fun read, I couldn’t put it down once I started and was grateful my kids decided to take long naps today so I could curl up and enjoy the ride. This is definitely one I would recommend and one I will be re-reading! Content: Clean.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pride's Prejudice by Misty Dawn Pulsipher

Beth Pride really can’t stand William Darcy: he snubbed her at the Hartford College Children’s Benefit Auction; he has an infuriating propensity for pushing her buttons; his actions are frequently at odds with his words; and even his melting chocolate eyes and impressive physique don’t quite make up for his deficient personality. Beth’s plan to avoid William backfires when her roommate falls for his best friend. As the unlikely duo are thrown together time and again, Beth begins to second guess her earlier assumptions about William. Will Pride’s prejudice keep her from a happy ending, or will Beth discover that first impressions aren’t always what they seem?
So, I thought this was a cute, modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice. While it stuck pretty closely to the original, there were enough changes to make it different. I liked Beth, for the most part. She seems to have her head on straight and was easy to relate to. I also liked William; I guess there is no surprise how their relationship started and progresses. There are some nice moments between Beth and William and I thought they had good chemistry together. There is definitely more kissing than the original, that’s for sure! It’s hard not to compare it to Jane Austen’s; it’s hard to top perfection. While I did enjoy it, I also thought it was a tad long and wouldn’t have minded if it had been a little shorter. I liked it though and thought it was well written. Content: Clean.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Going Vintage by Lindseey Leavitt

When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List: 1. Run for pep club secretary 2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree 3. Sew a dress for Homecoming 4. Find a steady 5. Do something dangerous But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.

Isn’t that cover cute? Although, I don’t think the dress on the cover would really come from the early 60’s, it would have been fun if she was dressed to match the story. Anyway, I thought this was a cute story. Mallory discovers her longtime boyfriend has been cheating on her with a cyber-girl. Although they’ve never met in person, he shares things with her than he doesn’t with Mallory. Mallory is understandably hurt and decides to give up all technology in an attempt to get over him. She finds an old list of her grandmas and thinks life in the early 60s was better without the modern technology. So, I liked that aspect of the story, going back to the basics and cutting out technology. Although, she does get a little extreme, but I guess that’s the point. I thought the romance was okay, the “hero” seemed like a nice guy and was genuinely interested in Mallory. The side stories with the family added some depth to the story, but I kind of prefer straight romance with my YA contemporaries. At times I thought it was a little wordy or overly descriptive, but overall I thought it was a cute story.  

 Content: Clean.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Divinely Designed by Rachael R Anderson

It all begins with calamity, faith, and a flat tire. Seeking liberation from recent heartache, Kennedy Jackson leaves her hometown and moves to Arizona to work as an interior designer. She thinks she is ready for a new start, but her heart still needs some convincing. When she bumps into a handsome stranger on the highway, she starts the ride of her life on a road of divine design that will lead to her dreams if she only has the faith to follow it
This is the second time I’ve read this and I enjoyed it just as much this time around. I could be wrong, but I think this is Rachael’s first published book. I think her books just keep getting better and better. I enjoy the dialog and plots of her books. She writes likable characters. I liked our heroine Kennedy, she was a lot of fun. I liked her outlook on life and that she was just a fun person to be around. I also liked Braxton, he was a good leading man. I thought they had good chemistry together. I liked that they were friends first and the romance naturally grew from there. Overall, a fun, lighthearted read. Content: Clean.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

For What It's Worth by Karey White

Twenty-four year-old, Abby Benson has dreams of owning her own wedding cake shop. An inheritance from her aunt gives her the ability to make those dreams come true. She hires Dane, a handsome contractor, to help her get the bakery up and running and soon they’re moving toward their own happy ending.

Unsure what to charge for her cakes, Abby has a crazy idea to let the customers decide what they think their cake is worth. This plan has its ups and downs, but the novelty of the idea makes her a local celebrity. When she is interviewed on television about the unusual idea, business booms and Abby has cake adventures she never dreamed possible. But as her fame grows, Abby is swept up in a whirlwind that threatens everything she values. With the challenges that face her, will she be able to determine what is worth the most?
I wish this book had pictures! I would have loved to see pictures of these amazing cakes that Abby was making. They sounded so pretty. I thought this was a cute book. I liked the overall plot of Abby starting her own wedding cake bakery. The bakery sounded cute and I would have loved to get my wedding cake done there. I thought it was fun hearing about the different customers and some of her experiences. Abby’s business gets successful a lot quicker than she had planned and it was interesting to see how she handled that and how she learns to balance her priorities. The romance was okay, I didn’t really feel much between them. I guess their conversations and stuff just didn’t do much for me. It was a nice side story, but by the end it didn’t sweep me off my feet. While I normally love the romance in books, I actually enjoyed the other aspects of this story better. Overall, it was a cute story and I will definitely check out more from Ms. White. Content: Clean.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.
I have been looking forward to reading this since I finished the authors first novel, Pivot Point. While Pivot Point had more of a fantasy feel to it, The Distance Between Us was a contemporary YA story. The characters are seventeen and still in high school. I actually thought they were a little older, and since there is no time spent with them at school it felt more like a New Adult book to me.

I enjoyed the story and had a hard time putting it down. I liked out main characters Caymen and Xander. I like that things started out slow where they built more of a friendship before things progressed to anything else. I don’t really buy into the insta-love stories so I thought this was a refreshing change. There is even a bit of a love-triangle, which was handled really well and was believable.

I admit I was expecting something lighthearted, maybe along the lines of Janette Rallison (not sure why), but the book is a little more series than that. It has its funny moments, but there are also other issues going on that I didn’t see coming. When you start to realize Caymen’s mom has been keeping something secret I got a little nervous.  I don’t really like reading too much drama and after reading Glimmer of Hope by Sarah Eden I was nervous what her mom’s secret was going to be. I guess I was expecting the worst and it did keep me from really enjoying the story. I think know that I know what the secret is I would enjoy the book a little more. (hide spoiler)] It’s not until the end that we find out what is going on. When I got to the 90% mark I started to wonder how things were going to wrap up. I’m assuming this is a standalone and if that’s the case I kind of wish the last 10% of the book or so would have happened earlier in the story. There are just so many questions I have and would have liked to see play out earlier in the book. Like, Caymen finding out her mom’s secret about her parents. Having Caymen get to know her grandparents and how their lifestyle would affect her. Does Caymen ever find her dad and what was the story that made him leave. What happens with Xander and Caymen? Where do they end up going to school, do they go to the same school? I want to know that now that they are finally a couple if they will stay together and get their happily ever after. (hide spoiler)] I did enjoy the story though and it was fun to see their relationship unfold. I did want Caymen to question him about things a little more. Maybe it’s just me, but she keeps quite a lot where if I were in the same situation he would be peppered with questions until my very curious mind was at ease.

Overall, I enjoyed it and have added Kasie West to my auto-buy author list. I know I will love whatever she writes. If you enjoy the contemporary YA genre you have to check this one out.

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