Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Aug
17
3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Anna and the French Kiss Anna and the French Kiss by
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: , ,
Pages: 372
Source: ,
Goodreads

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

My Review:

If I had to think of a word to describe this book it would without a doubt be “cute!” And not in the small children and baby animals kind of way but the “They’re so adorable I might have to squee!” kind of way!

First off, I love the fact that this is not only a boarding school novel but also a foreign exchange novel. I know when I was growing up “foreign exchange” was something people from other countries did to come here. That most certainly is not the case, and I fully support anyone and anything that encourages young Americans to experience other cultures. In a global economy like ours, it is important to understand other cultures, and even make friends with them, and the best way to do that is to experience them for yourself!


But what I really love, love, loved was Anna and Étienne. They have what I would consider the perfect love story. So many novels that involve romance these days are more concerned with the problems that happen after a relationship has started so they have the leading pair fall in love fast and then stay in love through all obstacles. This book focuses on the journey to falling in love instead. It feels so much more realistic to me to have Anna and Étienne be best friends before everything else, and I just loved it!


I honestly cannot find a single negative thing to say about this book no matter how I try. It really is a very fun, cute novel and I’d recommend it to everyone!





Book Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope

Apr
19
3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Last Little Blue Envelope The Last Little Blue Envelope by
Series: Little Blue Envelope #2
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 282
Source:
Goodreads

Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack-and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure, and Ginny finds she must hold onto her wits-and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

My Review:

When I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes I was a Freshman in college. I was young and naïve. I’d only ever been overseas on tours with music groups and even then we didn’t do much outside our itinerary. I loved to travel though and the idea of traveling around the way Ginny did really impressed me. I was sure I could never do what Ginny had done, but I sure wished I could.

Oh, how things can change.

4 years later, here I am about to graduate and I have a totally different perspective. I have now spent a year abroad and wonder of wonders, I had my own Little Blue Envelopes trip (though not quite so extreme). I’ve grown as Ginny did, and now I can relate to her again, in a different way.

First stop: Paris. Such a glamorous city! Aunt Peg is right, there is no way you can “know” a city from just one visit. This time instead of being green with envy, I was able to sit back a bit and recognize some of the places I’d been and reacquaint myself with them. I like to think Les Petits Chiens was just around the corner from the Hostel we stayed in, next to the quaint little bookshop I had to visit. You can really tell that Johnson has done this at some point and it is so wonderful that she can share the experience so vividly through her characters’ eyes.

But my perspective was not the only new thing this time. I really loved the addition of Oliver to the cast. He was pleasantly frustrating and mysterious, and his story was part of the reason that I couldn’t put the book down.

View Spoilers »
I was never very sure about Keith the first time around and I am so glad that Ginny didn’t end up with him forever. Oliver seems so much better for her than Keith would have been, even if he did some things I don’t really approve of. We all do things like that sometimes. Ellis was also a nice addition, though her character was used mostly for Keith/Ginny conflict. She seems like the kind of girl I would love to be friends with, even if she was dating the guy I still had a crush on

In the end, this wasn’t just a book about traveling. It’s about creativity and art and finding beauty where you least expect it. As an artist myself this really spoke to me. Two quotes from Aunt Peg really stuck with me and I’d like to leave you with them:

“People always say they can’t do things, that they’re impossible. They just haven’t been creative enough.” – pg. 48 (advance e-proof copy, page numbers may not be the same in finished copy) The Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson

“I think something is art when it is created with intention.” – pg. 156 (advance e-proof copy, page numbers may not be the same in finished copy) The Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson

Thank you, Maureen Johnson. You inspire me to find my art, no matter what anyone else thinks, and that is the greatest inspiration any artist can have.





Book Review: Suite Scarlett

Mar
30
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Suite Scarlett Suite Scarlett by
Series: Scarlett #1
Published by in 2008
Genres: ,
Pages: 368
Source:
Goodreads

Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small Art Deco hotel in the heart of New York City.

When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet and world traveler.

And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery and romantic missteps. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.

My Review:

I picked up Suite Scarlett not really knowing what to expect. I’d only read the 13 Little Blue Envelope series, so far, and I hate to judge an author just based on one book. I’m glad I chose to read it though. You know how sometimes you finish a book and you hate the fact that you finished it because you want more of a good thing? Well if you felt that after 13 Little Blue Envelopes like I did, then Suite Scarlett is definitely for you.

I loved that this book was kind of a variation on Envelopes but with a fresh set of characters and a new interesting story. Eric was more my kind of dreamy than Keith ever was, and I loved the relationships between all the siblings.


My favorite character, though, was the Aunt Peg of this one, Amy Amberson. Mrs. Amberson and Aunt Peg are the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up. They do their own thing, and even though they seem a bit weird and over the top to the rest of the characters, their view on life is so great! I’d love to be like them – but I don’t think I could. I’m too much of an orderly, follow-the-rules type. Instead, I’d like to think of Maureen Johnson as my Mrs. Amberson. She inspires me to be more spontaneous, though luckily without the kinds of things that would drive me nuts (like framing me for shoplifting – that would be way over the line for me, I’d refuse to even be around her after that!).


Anyway, bottom line is I really enjoyed this book, and I would definitely recommend it to friends.





Book Review: Prom and Prejudice

Mar
24
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Prom and Prejudice Prom and Prejudice by
Published by in 2011
Genres: ,
Pages: 231
Source:
Goodreads

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making?

My Review:

OK, so after finishing Mockingjay I desperately needed something light and fluffy. I turned to this novel, figuring I’d just read a few pages to calm myself down before turning out the light and trying to sleep. Instead, I found myself finishing the whole thing at 2 am because I just couldn’t put it down!  I was sooooo book hung over the next morning!

The thing with this one is it wasn’t that I couldn’t put it down because I couldn’t wait to find out what happens. I knew what happens, because I’ve read/seen the story of Pride and Prejudice so many times I have it memorized. The fact that I still couldn’t put it down means that this was a really good book! I love the idea that there are modern day Darcy’s and Bingley’s out there. I’ve always thought I was very similar to Elizabeth – if I’d been born then, that would have been me, right down to the parents (though I don’t have the siblings to complete the picture).  Darcy would be my perfect man – I couldn’t deal with constant sweetness like Bingley, but Darcy does know how to be that sometimes.  So anyways, the modern Darcy is very intriguing to me, because I’d like to believe he’s out there somewhere.

In the end, this is a really cute book, sort of the antidote to the extreme nightmare inducing (but good in their own way) books like Mockingjay. Of course, I still had nightmares that night, but I would like to think that they weren’t quite so bad as they could have been. So go read it next time you need something cute to read!





Book Review: The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie

Sep
01
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

I really wasn’t going to put up this review until after the challenge was over, but as I was putting up my “last” review I realized I was only one book below “Shark” status. That was just a little disappointing, and since I already had a book read and had planned to review it… well here it goes! (P.S. Sorry for bombarding your feed with reviews, but I really did have to catch up somehow)
The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by
Series: Ashbury/Brookfield #3
Published by in 2006
Genres: ,
Pages: 496
Source:
Goodreads

Once again the setting is Ashbury High, in Sydney, Australia, and Bindy Mackenzie, who had a pivotal cameo in Assignments, returns as the central character. Brilliant, precocious Bindy (who wrote in her diary at age 10, "I've been struggling a bit with Ulysses by James Joyce") is frustrated when her gestures of kindness toward fellow students go unappreciated. Her aggressive resistance to a new required course, Friendship and Development, sharply alienates a group of her fellow classmates, whom she nicknames the Venomous Six. But as she gradually gains self-awareness, it's these students, along with a dreamy transfer student, Finnegan, who embrace, support, and even save her.

Review:

I’ll be honest. I didn’t enjoy this book. When I finished A Year of Secret Assignments I decided to pick up this one, because I enjoyed it in the way you enjoy a fluff piece. I don’t know what it was with this one- Bindy was too unlike-able, the plot seemed full of holes and even more unlikely than any variety of fantasy/paranormal novels that have come to be the rage recently. I just did not enjoy reading it.

I did finish though, so I must have found something interesting. I guess what kept me going was this idea that something was going to happen to Bindy (something had to, honestly. She was so thick about the whole feeling ill thing). I wanted it to be something she was doing to herself. There’s some kind of poetic justice to a novel that has it’s particularly odious main character fall ill because they’ve accidentally poisoned themselves. I was really quite disappointed when this didn’t happen (sorry, slight spoiler there). If felt very Deus ex machina when she finally did get around to explaining the situation. Sure the hints had been there, but it felt like she was pulling the mystery out of thin air after nearly 400 pages of a completely different story. For me, I needed the mystery to relate to the rest of the book, and it just didn’t.

I suppose I should put a disclaimer here. I don’t hate smart people. It’s the holier than thou attitude that I absolutely detest. And the problem is, I see myself (or at least my younger self) in Bindy a lot. I hate that, because I don’t want to even think about what people thought of me in high school. I was that kid. I was smart, and I wasn’t afraid of what people thought of that. Granted, I was a little terrified of becoming someone like Bindy, so that may have helped, I really don’t know. But I think because of the similarities between my younger self and the main character, I have a difficult time laughing at her “comic” obsession with grades and being better than everyone else. To me, it’s just not funny.

And that’s me done for the “Beach Reads” Challenge! Look for a wrap up post soon, and I’ll be back to normal reviews as soon as I finish the next book (Either Going Bovine by Libba Bray or The Shadow Dragons by James Owen)





Book Review: The Year of Secret Assignments

Aug
31
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Year of Secret Assignments The Year of Secret Assignments by
Series: Ashbury/Brookfield #2
Published by in 2005
Genres: ,
Pages: 352
Source:
Goodreads

A tenth grade English teacher attempts to unite feuding schools by launching a pen-pal project. Best friends Cassie, Emily and Lydia initiate the correspondence, and are answered by Matthew, Charlie and Seb. Emily and Lydia are more than pleased with their matches, but quiet Cassie has a frightening experience with Matthew. When Lydia and Emily discover that Matthew has threatened their fragile friend, the Ashbury girls close ranks, declaring an all-out war on the Brookfield boys. Soon, the couples are caught up in everything from car-jacking and lock-picking, to undercover spying and identity theft.

Review:

First, can I just say that I was reading this right about the same time as I discovered Sherlock (See my review here) and I so want Jaclyn to be related somehow to the famous Moriarty. Even if he is fictional. I don’t care!

But on to the novel. I found this book fun to read, though I didn’t see what all the fuss is about. It doesn’t make me want to run up to random people on the street and say “You have to read this” or anything (yes that is my qualification for “Best Book EVER!” status). On the other hand, I’ve written in epistolary format, albeit in a very one-sided capacity, and I know how difficult it is. As fun as the readers find it, it’s so hard to figure out how to talk about things that people just wouldn’t talk about in letters. Moriarty found clever ways of getting around that, by putting in diary entries, transcripts etc. (Can I just say? That writing journal she has one of the girls writing in would drive me insane! If you’re going to give me prompts to write about at least make it accessible! And stop talking in that stupid perky voice all the time!)

If I had to make a sweeping generalization about this book, I’d say that it is the perfect “beach read” – Light and fluffy, but not to the point of being gag-worthy.

One more review today! Iron King by Julie Kagawa. Now off to do a little homework before it turns into a pumpkin.





Book Review: The Princess Diaries 3-6

Aug
07
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Wow. It’s been a LONG time! I’m so sorry about that. But I’m back now, and I have tons of reviews for you! Since my last review I have read books 3-6 of The Princess Diaries, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and The Shack. To save some time, I’ve decided to review the Princess Diaries books together, so here we go!

Book Number: 7-10 (Summer “Beach Reads” Challenge: 6-9)
Pages: Not sure, but lots
By: Meg Cabot
Summary: The continuing saga of Mia Thermopolis, normal teenage girl turned princess.

Review: I don’t quite know where to start, and a lot of that comes from not knowing what I really think about these books. They’re not awful. In fact, they’re not even bad. But I didn’t find them that good either. For me they became place holders: something to read while I was traveling and couldn’t get anything else.

I think my main complaint here, is that the series is just too long. The first book held my interest pretty well. After all, we’re just learning with Mia that she is a princess and we can laugh with her as she makes mistakes. The second book was less interesting – the whole princess thing was old news so she had to try harder to keep our attention, but still amusing. Mia still messed up her etiquette and had extremely funny moments because she didn’t know what she was doing. By the time we hit the third book, though, it’s starting to get a little old. Mia has learned enough that she’s not making mistakes (except on purpose, if she disagrees with Grandmere on something) and the problems seem a bit forced. Instead of being about telling the story, the later books seem to have become more about making money on an established franchise.

That said, it would be unfair to say it was completely awful. I think it is still well written. Meg Cabot seems to have a way with getting into the head of a teenage girl and getting exactly the right tone. There was still the occasional funny moment – I loved the mentions of the film, and what the characters thought about having a film made about their lives. But I’m not going to run out and get the next one immediately. I’m vaguely curious how she ends it, but not enough to pursue it. Maybe someday when I’m in the mood for a really fluffy fun book, I’ll pick it up.

So, that’s Princess Diaries done, look for my review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime soon!





Book Review: The Princess Diaries Take Two

Jul
14
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Princess Diaries Take Two The Princess Diaries Take Two by
Series: Princess Diaries #2
Published by in 2002
Genres: ,
Pages: 213
Source:
Goodreads

Mia was sure her life couldn't get any worse. Already the least popular girl in school, she suddenly became Princess of Genovia causing even her friends to desert her. Just when she thought it couldn't get any worse, her mother goes and gets pregnant by her Algebra teacher. Now Mia is stuck in the middle, trying to convince Grandmere not to have a huge wedding, all while trying to figure out who her own secret admirer is.

Review:

I really didn’t mean to read this one next. I’m borrowing it from a friend, and I need to finish all the library books first (I leave in a week! *gulp*). But once I get in the mood for fluff I just can’t put it down. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this one nearly as fun as I did the first one. I guess there just something much more interesting about the very first time you find out you’re a princess and have to take princess lessons. Mia was much more of a drama queen and she really started getting on my nerves. I guess, the thing I disliked the most was that this felt like it was just a filler. Nothing very big happened to Mia in this book (all the major events happened to her mother). I felt like this book was just marking time until the next book, in which I assume we have the resolution of the deal Mia and Grandmere made in the first book. So, overall, not as good as I’d hoped.

I know this review is really short, but as I just reviewed the first book in the series, I don’t have as much to say. But, I am hoping that I’ll have The Healer’s Keep read for the next one (as long as I can resist the short fluffy ones =P )





Book Review: The Princess Diaries

Jul
12
1 COMMENT • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Princess Diaries The Princess Diaries by
Series: Princess Diaries #1
Published by in 2001
Genres: ,
Pages: 230
Source:
Goodreads

Mia Thermopolis has always been the very bottom of the totem pole in her high school, but suddenly her father shows up with some surprising news; he is prince of Genovia, which makes Mia his heir. Mia now has to juggle the typical high school issues as well as everything that goes with being a Princess.

Review:

I have been meaning to read this book ever since I saw the movie. That in itself is rather unusual, because I am a firm believer in reading the book before the movie. I find that if I see the movie first, that completely colours my impression of the book. When I read a book, I get a very distinct picture of the characters in my head (even if it’s very wrong – before I saw the movies my mental Draco Malfoy had black hair!) If I’ve seen the movie first then I already have a picture of the characters, and I tend to have trouble getting away from it. I was therefore highly surprised to find myself flying through The Princess Diaries. I barely even thought about the movie, aside from the occasional “ooh they didn’t quite get that right” (Isn’t the movie set in LA? I always thought it was in LA. BIG difference from NYC!)

Some of this may be due to the fact that it’s been donkey’s years since I’ve actually seen the movie but I would argue that it’s more due to the way the book is written. The quirky, original characters that made me seek out the book are ten times better when you’ve read them on the page. Lilly is more than just a weird kid who begs for attention in a slightly off TV show, Mia is much more believable (I know it makes for a good story but bad at public speaking? Really? Algebra is much more believable, and besides you don’t have to fix that for your story to work out right). As for the ones that weren’t necessarily more believable, they certainly make the story more interesting. As much as Grandmere from the book drives me nuts, she makes the story so much more fun!

Not that I’m saying the movie was bad. I loved the movie. I just loved the book that much more. Besides, I needed the fluff =D





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