Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

It's time to get back into the game, and who better than Sophie Kinsella to get me back into it!  Kinsella has such a great style and voice, that she can really suck you into one of her stories pretty quickly and pull you away from what's going on in your own life.  I love that about her novels.  Wedding Night is kind of like that, so let's see if I can get back in the "review-writing saddle"--so to say--and share her newest novel!

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose during lunch at one of London’s fanciest restaurants. But when his big question involves a trip abroad, not a trip down the aisle, she’s completely crushed. So when Ben, an old flame, calls her out of the blue and reminds Lottie of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. No formal dates—just a quick march to the altar and a honeymoon on Ikonos, the sun-drenched Greek island where they first met years ago.

Their family and friends are horrified. Fliss, Lottie’s older sister, knows that Lottie can be impulsive—but surely this is her worst decision yet. And Ben’s colleague Lorcan fears that this hasty marriage will ruin his friend’s career. To keep Lottie and Ben from making a terrible mistake, Fliss concocts an elaborate scheme to sabotage their wedding night. As she and Lorcan jet off to Ikonos in pursuit, Lottie and Ben are in for a honeymoon to remember, for better . . . or worse."

Review:  I love Greece so much that it kills me with every year that I stay away.  So what's not to love about combining one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite locations?  I have to say that the premise was all so very promising, with the backdrop of a Greek island, an old flame, and the comedy of a sabotaged wedding night, but somehow it just ended up being a bit tiring.  

Lottie was the single gal who desperately wanted her boyfriend to propose, and when he didn't, ran back to an old flame.  It made me cringe. 

Fliss had the flaky ex-husband who really couldn't be flakier, who you were dying to have meet someone fantastic.  She had me cheering her on, but she had this flaky single sister named Lottie, who made me cringe.  Poor Fliss.

Okay, I get that being disappointed repeatedly can make people do crazy things, but Lottie just made herself look beyond insecure and and unaware.  Her old flame was way too convenient, and holding off on sex for the wedding night (big spoiler there--see the title) which was just the universe telling them both that they were running off to marry one another out of desperation.  

I REALLY wanted to like this novel.  It had its fun moments.  It had its sweet moments.  But overall, it just wore me out.  Perhaps Kinsella should have backed off on the old flame "comedy" bit in the story and just let Lottie mourn the loss of her boyfriend, and let her go off to Ikonos on her own?  I don't know, but everything wore me out and made it difficult for me to care.  I liked Fliss, but I had even lost interest there in the end.  

Overall, I would still recommend it because it's a Sophie Kinsella novel, but it's not one of my favorites of her stand alone novels.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on an Amazon Vine ARC.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Booker Prize Longlist 2013 Announced

Could anything pull me out of a blogging hiatus faster than a Booker Prize list?  I think not!  Just as a quick reminder, the Booker Prize is a literary prize chosen from a citizen of the British Commonwealth, including Ireland and Zimbabwe.  Here is the list for 2013:

Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

 The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

 Harvest by Jim Crace

 The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris

 The Kills by Richard House

 The Lowland by Jumpha Lahiri

 Unexploded by Alison Macleod

 Transatlantic by Colum McCann

 Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

 A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

 The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

 The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin

This is quite a list.  It looks pretty impressive.  The only author I've even read on this list is Lahiri, so I feel like I really should make a stab at this one.  Have you read any of these or see any that you would like to try out?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here?

You might or might not have been wondering where in the world I've disappeared lately.  Well, I've been thinking a lot lately about the direction I wanted to go with my blog.  As many of you know, I'm a full-time public school teacher, but that really wasn't supposed to be the defining feature of my blog.  I really didn't want that to define me, nor with what I read.  The funny thing is, you find that your job or your state in life sometimes does define you though.  It's an interesting hand in hand, as with anyone I suppose.

Originally, I started this blog as a conversation piece with a couple of girlfriends, so we could gab about books as I attempted to prepare for a possible PhD program in English.  Well, after we all got too busy to keep it up, I kept the blog and just kept on gabbing about books.  I kept this completely separate from class, didn't really ever discuss this at work (meaning with my students), and could keep work and hobby apart from one another.  Well, slowly they have started to collide and I'm now pretty much an open book.  I suppose it had to happen at some point, right?  It's not as thought I didn't think it would happen, but I just didn't plan for it.

I suppose I've just been trying to figure out what I wanted to do--from a work standpoint.  I'm open game now for my students to track down and look at everything I'm doing, saying, reading, etc.  Do I want to be a "teacher reading blog"?  Um, no.  I don't do this for work purposes.  I get that those who do that are going above and beyond the call of teaching duty, but I honestly do this to refuel the battery and have conversations about great books that I "might" use for future Pop Lit. or AP classes. 

Okay, so do I just pare back and not blog as often?  That has pretty much become a much bigger option.  I've gotten used to not stating my opinions and being emphatic about very many things.  That can be difficult at times, as I feel strongly about certain things and want to wrap my arms around causes and political opinions, and yet I can't.  Why?  Because my job is to pose both sides for students and help them to come to conclusions on their own.  If they think that I side solidly with something, then they will come to believe that I'm persuading them to believe that way as well.  It's often immature on their part, but very true.

Anyway, I digress.  Where do I go from here?  I don't really know completely.  I'm still feeling this out.  I'm feeling a lot more exposed than I did before, so I'm revamping at the moment.  Listen, I've read some great books this spring and summer, so I still want to review them and keep sharing.  I want to see what you all are reading!  By the way--now that Google Reader is gone, now what do I do?  I know I need to fix my roll as it is.  It hasn't been fixed in ages!  I missed Paris in July this year, but I know I want to keep joining in fun reading events, and you for sure need a blog for that.  And, you for sure need a blog to keep sharing in great new releases. 

I think what I'm trying to say is, that there is a little revision work going on.  I'll figure it out and then keep it moving!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Another Quick Triple Review: Love, Tears, or Paranormal Edition

Last time I took forever to write that triple review, so I'm going to try to give a quick "sum it up" snippet review so I can get back in the swing of things here.  Here we go!

I Remember You is another Harriet Evans novel, which for me should be enough said.  I don't know what it is about Harriet Evans, but that lady knows how to weave a good yarn!  In some ways, I feel guilty including her lengthy beauties in a triple review post because they are so darn good.  There is a complex story woven here that you have to invest time to get into, but it is worth it.  Tess Tennant moves to her home town to teach.  There she meets back up with friends and loves from years before.  It's during a school trip to Rome, however, that Tess's story takes a dramatic and heart-wrenching turn.

Honestly, this novel takes a lot of time to get through.  You think you know what is going to happen and then parts of the story unfold and reveal themselves to you.  I kind of like that unpredictable nature to them, although once that one piece falls in to place, you know the rest of it.  I still really love a good Harriet Evans novel and felt this one did not disappoint.  If anyone will make me cry, Evans will.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry  falls into the NA (New Adult) genre and seems to fall into the wounded soul category again.  I'm only speaking from my own experience here, but the only NA books I have read all seem to have characters that are wounded and come together romantically speaking and heal their issues through their love.  I'm not completely sold on it.  Noah is the guy who went from jock to freak outsider who gets gossiped about.  We find out that he's just trying to  hold it together and get his brothers back now in the temporary custody of another family.  Echo had her own secrets she was coming terms with and together they helped one another deal with them.

I think I got caught up in the hype, especially coming off the buzz that came with books like Easy as well.  Maybe it's the idea of characters that had experienced so much and had worked through so much pain and grown up together that made me think it was going to be a great read, but it just didn't come together for me.  I also think that I might be looking at it as a high school teacher who worries about its marketing and perception by the students who might pick it up.  I do think there is a particular audience who might be ready for this novel, but I'm not sure I fit into it.

Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill is the second in the Chicagoland series.  I kind of like this series, but I'm still not sure why.  Sometimes I get bored, but that's just because I feel like it takes an entire book for something to happen.  For instance, it takes an entire book for her to become a vampire (that's book one), and entire book for their to be a problem and you to figure out that someone has a grudge against her because of her rich family (that's book two).  Okay, so I oversimplify, but you get the gist.  I do like the character development in these books and I care about what is going to happen to them, so that is what tends to keep me reading.  In the end, isn't that what makes a good book?  I'm entertained, and I like the characters.  Also, in a strange way, it feels new to me, which I would think is extremely hard for a writer of vampire fiction!  Kudos to Chloe Neill for that.

Well, I succeeded in getting another triple review written.  Let's see if I can writing a few other reviews.  I've actually been reading a lot this summer.  I'm exercising like crazy, eating super healthy, and sleeping like a mad woman (if mad women sleep like crazy).  You get what I'm saying, right?  Anyway, I'm doing all of that trying-to-be-healthy-and-feel-better sort of stuff so I'll be a better and more healthy me by this fall.  On the whole, I'm just repairing myself so I'll stop having killer migraines and so I'll be happier!  Anyway, I'd like to be caught up with reviews before I head back to work, so I might be back with another triple review!  I hope you're having a great summer, whatever you're reading and whatever you're doing.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Been kind of boring around here.  Nothing too flashy planned other than good food, some rest, and some reading.  I have to send a big shout out to our family and friends all over the country today.  We're missing all of you.  We have family in North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Texas, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and California (sorry if I've missed somebody who's traveling or moved).  We're missing every one of you today! 

Happy Independence Day wherever you're at on this beautiful July 4th holiday.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: If the Shoe Fits by Megan Mulry

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "Second in a sexy, playful new series of women's fiction imagining what it might be like for a modern American woman to fall in love with a British aristocrat, from new author Megan Mulry.

Sarah James is an accomplished American woman who heads her own chic shoe company. Devon Heyworth is the rakish, ne'er-do-well younger brother of the 19th Duke of Northrop. When the two meet at the Duke's wedding they embark on a whirlwind weekend romance. And what begins as a casual fling at a royal wedding quickly proves to be far more meaningful. But when a string of misunderstandings threaten to tear them apart, their meddling aristocratic relatives join forces to reunite the star-crossed lovers."

Review:  If you've read Mulry's first novel, A Royal Pain, you know that Sarah is "the best friend" of the character in that novel.  It's definitely not necessary to have read her first novel to understand and love this second novel, and in fact, if you're looking for a continuation story from the first, you won't find that here.  This is really Sarah and Devon's story, as it should be.

To start off, Mulry's novels look like they will be light-hearted and fun-spirited.  I haven't necessarily found them to be that light-hearted.  That hasn't taken away from the story at all for me.  These are playful in the sense that they are a wishful story of "what ifs," but the drama and emotions are pretty high.  

Sarah is pretty much the serious business woman who has been serious most of her life, including in her romantic life.  Now she has found herself a virgin who no longer wants to be one and too embarrassed to admit it at her age.  What better time to "resolve" the issue than at her best friend's wedding with the "rake" that is her best friend's younger brother who seems to be up for anything?  The casual fling, however, doesn't seem to be so casual for him.

In true romantic novel form, Devon--the "rake"--falls for said inexperienced beauty and must find a way to win her heart.  It was discouraging at times, and yet all part of what kept the story moving.  We do tend to like Devon, since he is the one who begins to change, and yet the number of ways these two mess up their communication could make your head swim!  

I loved the fantasy elements of the rich, with their getaways to Paris, fancy several-level homes, and lovely expensive accoutrements.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed If the Shoe Fits and think that Mulry has a great way of tapping into strong emotional stories and characters that readers can love.  Although I had moments where I wanted to throttle Sarah for being stubborn and not communicating with Devon, I could see where her fears were leading her.  Still...I wanted her to just TALK!  It was still a great, escape romance that I would recommend to my contemporary romance readers.  It is definitely a romance novel though, so for my sensitive readers who are wary of sexy times, be warned--there are some of those for sure!

For those interested, If the Shoe Fits comes out today!  I definitely recommend you check it as soon as possible, as well as her first book, A Royal Pain.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a copy of the novel provided by Sourcebooks through Netgalley. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Giveaway Winner: If The Shoe Fits by Megan Mulry

Thank you to everyone who stopped in to make a guess on Kate and William's baby name.  We'll now have to wait and see.  I have used to draw for the winner.

Congrats to:  

I have sent you an email so we can get all the detail together so you can get your book!  Thank you again to everyone who joined in and stopped by to check it out.