Tag Archive | romance

Review : Endless Summer

Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols
Pages : 587
Genre : YA, Romance
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Ever since she was a kid, Lori has been friends with the boys next door, three brothers who share her passion for wakeboarding. As far as she can remember, she also has always been in love with Sean.

This summer Lori will turns sixteen, and she has decided the time has come for her and Sean to be together. And if updating her wardrobe and adding a little makeup isn’t enough to get noticed, Lori has another plan : pretend to be in love with Adam, the youngest of the three boys, to get Sean a little jealous. Surely this plan can’t go wrong… right?

My Thoughts :

Endless Summer is a volume grouping The Boys Next Door, previously published in 2007, and Endless Summer, its sequel. My summary describes mostly what happens in the first half, although the second book follows a very similar path.

I will be upfront and say that yes, I found Lori’s plan a little silly. Even her narration is at times so naive that I sometimes just wanted to sigh, roll my eyes and close the book.

Fortunately Lori is, despite her young age, a fun character to follow. I loved that she had a passion for wakeboarding, and that she refused to purposefully fail at it just to get a guy’s attention! Even though she did try to change who she was to please him, she didn’t completely erase her personality. I also appreciated her brother and father, who were reasonably protective of her.

The romance also was totally adorable. It was clear very early on that Lori’s plan had some flaws. It was also obvious enough how and why her plans would or wouldn’t fail. Still, the author managed to make the story fun, cute and charming and I didn’t get bored. The Boys Next Door was perfect as a light, adorable romance and I could see why the fans asked for more.

Sadly, I do think the story should have ended there. While the second part of the book had a few nice moments, the games between Lori and the boys felt over-the-top silly, and it totally killed the romance for me. It started to feel more like an insane, negative relationship. Plus, why the dual narration? It wasn’t necessary to have someone other than Lori’s point of view, not at all. I really didn’t enjoy it much, to be honest.

Overall, Endless Summer was a cute summer romance with a strong beginning. It reads easily and makes you wish it was summer already. And it definitely had me watching some wakeboarding videos on youtube!

3 Reviews : Annie on my Mind, The Lonely Hearts Club and The Vinyl Princess

Sometimes I don’t feel like talking to a

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Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
Pages : 234
Genre : YA, Fiction, GLBT
Stand Alone
My Rating :

From Goodreads : First published in 1982, this is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings.

My Thoughts : Prior to reading it, I had often seen Annie on my Mind recommended as a must-read of young adult GLBT fiction. One of the first of its kind, this book has been featured not only on readers’ shelves but also recommended or banned by schools and various associations. I know I first saw it in high school, among other GLBT books, in the context of a school event promoting acceptance and tolerance.

So this book came with some sort of a “build up” for me. I wouldn’t say my expectations were high, but my curiosity for it definitely was. I also wondered : could this book still deliver a strong message even though its first publication occurred before I even stepped into this world?

The short answer ; yes. But, only to a certain extent. What struck me was how, if this story was written today, it would probably end up very differently for one reason : social media. Maybe the conclusion would be similar, but I believe the plot would certainly take different turns. It still was nicely written, with a good story, and I am sure many teen would recognize themselves in the characters, but it was an interesting point for me to think about.

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The Lonely Hearts Club 
by Elizabeth Eulberg
Pages : 323
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

From Goodreads : Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It’s a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there’s this certain boy she can’t help but like. . . .

My Thoughts : I felt the idea was cute, and fun, and could be something original. I imagined that, instead of a straight-forward romance, it would start as a non-romance with a promise of something more. Mostly, this is exactly what I got, and unfortunately not much more.

It was a cute story, yes, and Eulberg’s writing makes it a quick and pleasant read. But the book lacked some punch, some obstacles for the characters to fight with, some unexpected turn for them to show off their true colors. I found that the whole thing was a bit plain, and I kept confusing the club’s members. Nice ending, though. So, while it wasn’t bad or very memorable, it still was a cute read I could recommend for when you need something light for your heart.

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The Vinyl Princess 
by Yvonne Prinz
Pages : 313
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating :

From Goodreads : While working full-time at Berkeley’s ultra-cool Bob and Bob Records, 16-year-old Allie develops her secret identity as The Vinyl Princess, author of both a brand-new zine and blog. From the safety of her favorite place on earth, Allie is poised to have it all: love, music and blogging.

My Thoughts : I think the best word to describe my feel of this novel would be : unexpected.

I thought it would be one of those traditional YA romance with a touch of music; instead, I found a YA novel that was much more complex than expected. Allie’s passion is music, and it lives through every page of the story. Even though I don’t share her passion, I found myself extremely curious about the bands and records she mentioned (though I don’t think she would approve of most of my musical selection!)

I loved that this book had a mix of everything : family, friendships, romance, a cat and a touch of mystery. Allie felt realistic to me because I got a glimpse of every aspect of her life. She wasn’t only focused on her hopes and dreams or her romance, and I always enjoy that. I know I’ll want to read more by Prinz!

Review : The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Pages : 236
Genre : Ya, Fiction, Romance
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about :

24 hours.

This is all Hadley needs to have her life turned completely upside down. In the course of one day, she will have missed a plane, traveled from New York to London, celebrated a wedding and cried a lot of tears.

And maybe – just maybe – by the end of that day, will she get to dance with her love at first sight.

My Thoughts :

Need a last minute read to put yourself in a romantic mood before Valentine’s Day? If you are looking for a quick and pleasant read, this might be the one for you!

This book’s title is almost longer than its text – or maybe I just felt that the book was too short. Yup, that’s probably it! I think I fell for this one mainly because of the cute cover (it was, hum, love at first sight!), but I have to say, what’s under said cover did deliver an adorable story.

I was really impressed by how dimensional the characters were for such a short novel. Hadley especially was well written and I felt like, in that one single day, I got to know her more than some characters from other books with whom I have spent much more time. And while it was really cute to watch her fall in love, it’s her family’s story that really got to me.

By itself, it’s nothing special really; her parents got divorced over a year ago, and now she gets to watch her father get remarried to a woman she has never met. But rather than being portrayed as a complete brat about it, like I have so often seen in other YA novels, Hadley is portrayed as a normal teenager. She’s not perfect, and dealing with both anger and sadness is hard for her; but she also loves her parents and this is what I felt the most through the pages. Her desire to have her “normal” life back, while knowing that she can’t, really broke my heart.

That said, Oliver looked like he was a great catch. He was certainly fun as a secondary character, and while he had a personality of his own, he never stole Hadley’s spotlight. He completed her well and I loved how they could talk about little things and tease each other easily from the beginning. You could sense that it was not only romance, but friendship that was developing between them.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was a really good book that surprised me by having more depth than I expected it to. Easily read in one sitting, this little book warmed my heart – and I hope it will warm yours too!


Review : Bright Young Things and Beautiful Days

Bright Young Things
and Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen
Genre : YA, Historical Fiction
Series : Bright Young Things, Book 1 and 2
My Rating :

What it’s about :

The year is 1929.

Letty, Cordelia and Astrid all dream of a better life, a life filled with the glamour and lights only New York can bring. Whether they dream of the stage, a good marriage or finding their family, they will risk anything to reach their goals.

My Thoughts :

This is not a bad 3 stars review; on the contrary, these two novels were exactly what I had been hoping for from the author of The Luxe series. That is, an historical fiction series that would be light on the detailing and allow me to escape quickly to another era. Once again, Godbersen delivers : Bright Young Things and Beautiful Days are filled with romance, drama, mysteries, drama, treason and more drama. Did I mention the drama?

The historical setting feels merely like a pretext to have these young women walking around in pretty outfits. Even more than with The Luxe, I didn’t feel like I really was taken back in time. The details are limited to general ideas, and the girls certainly don’t act or talk in what you would imagine being 1929’s attitude.

I’ll risk repeating myself here to insist this story is, mostly, about the drama. This being said, I had fun reading them both, especially the first one. The second felt very much like a transition, with not much happening, but it certainly kept me reading anyway. Also, I liked the girls enough, whether they were together or against each other. They are balanced with a great variety of secondary characters, with just enough villains to make things interesting.

Godbersen’s novels are, to me, a guilty pleasure I can’t deny myself. Plus, while these covers aren’t as gorgeous as The Luxe ones, I still find them really pretty. I’ll be reading the next book for sure!

Series Reading Order :

  1. Bright Young Things
  2. Beautiful Days
  3. The Lucky Ones (coming September 2012)

‘Tis the Season to Review Books; 4 Reviews of Holidays-Related Books

I read a lot more holiday-related books last year than I did this year, but by the time I was ready to review them, it was January and it felt a little late to post these reviews. So, I’m doing this all at once, reviewing my sole Christmas read of 2011 (which was a disappointment) and last year’s reading (much better!) If you’re looking for a last minute holiday read, maybe these books will inspire you; if not, you can take a look to holidays-related posts for plenty more reviews and suggestions!

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The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson
Pages : 266
Genre : Fiction, Holiday
Stand Alone
My Rating : 

What it’s about : Gaby has a huge surprise for her kids : she is getting married on this Christmas, to one of the three men in her life – but they won’t know who until the big day! But for Gaby, this special day is also the occasion to celebrate with all of her family again, for the first time since her husband passed away five years ago.

My Thoughts : The Christmas Wedding was meant to be a cute story focused on family, and of course the mystery of Gaby’s wedding. And while I imagine it would make a good movie, the story felt a little rushed for me. There were many characters, each with their story lines, and in the end I felt like I never connected and only got a glimpse of their lives. I was also more interested by Gaby’s children than by the wedding mystery! It wasn’t bad, and for a holiday read, it was quick and had a little heart. So while I wouldn’t exactly recommend it as a must-read, I would say borrowing it is a safe bet if you’re not too sure about it either.

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The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
Pages : 306
Genre : Fiction, Fantasy, Holiday, Zombies!
Stand Alone
My Rating :

From the book’s cover : ‘Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit. But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he’s not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn’t run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead. But hold on! There’s an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It’s none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel’s not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say “Kris Kringle,” he’s botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen.

My Thoughts : There’s no way I could have summarized this book in my words in such a perfect way! Because the book’s summary not only tells you what this fantastic novel is about, it also gives you a great idea of Moore’s voice and humor. The author definitely has a special brand or writing and humor, and I can see now why his books are so popular. The Stupidest Angel is not a cute Christmas tale, nor is it all fluffy and sentimental. It takes the magic of Christmas and turns it on its head, replacing it with silliness and zombies. It’s different, and funny, and while not something everyone would enjoy, it is something that those looking for a different kind of holiday reading will appreciate. The tagline, A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, really says it all!

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Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Pages : 166
Genre : Non-Fiction, Short Stories
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about : A collection of short non-fiction stories, of the author’s personal experiences with the holidays.

My Thoughts : Without a doubt, the star of this too short book is the first essay, SantaLand Diaries, describing with great humor Sedaris’ life as an elf for Macy’s Santa. It was entertaining and memorable and sometimes heartbreaking – which I cannot say of the following stories, I have to sadly say. There are other interesting stories, but the first one is by far the best. Reading this book made me realize one thing though; I’m not sure I’m a Sedaris fan. I remember reading him a while ago and I thought I enjoyed it, but reading Holidays on Ice was a roller-coaster; I sometimes couldn’t let go of the book, and sometimes just couldn’t bother picking it up again. So overall, not great, but really not bad either; certainly worth a try!

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Home in Time for Christmas by Heather Graham
Pages : 285
Genre : Romance, Time-Travel, Historical Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating : 

What it’s about : Melody is driving home for Christmas when a man suddenly appears in front of her car, all dressed in what looks like a Revolutionary War-era costume. It’s too late to avoid him, and Melody hits him. When Jakes insists he’s from another time, Melody is sure she hit him a little too hard on the head. Feeling guilty, she brings him home to her parents as a friend, just in time for a very unique Christmas.

My Thoughts : At some point in my blogging life, I’ll have to actually come out of my denial and admit that I do, sometimes, enjoy the occasional romance. I certainly enjoyed this one!

It had the Christmas magic mixed in with the additional time-travel magic. Melody was actually likable and, for a book that was mostly light fun, I was surprised by the fact that she wasn’t too cardboard-like. I like the other characters, too, and the story would make an excellent Christmas movie! It’s sweet, but not excessively sweet, more on the side of romantic-comedy than comedy-comedy, which is probably why I liked it so. I also appreciated the historical aspect.

Review : Something Blue

Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Pages : 338
Genre : Fiction, Contemporary
Series : Darcy & Rachel, book 2
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Darcy and Rachel have been friends forever – that is, until Rachel betrays Darcy in the worst possible manner, by stealing Darcy’s fiancé Dex just before the wedding. Darcy, blind to her own faults, can’t understand why her dear friend would do such a horrible thing to her.

When her luck seems to fail her more and more and no one’s there to help her, Darcy flies away to London to stay with an old friend. There, she has to live with the consequences of her actions, but also face the person she really is.

My Thoughts :

Something Borrowed was one of the first few books I reviewed here on this blog, and I remember enjoying it so much that I immediately went in search of its sequel, Something Blue. I wasn’t sure Giffin could really make me appreciate Darcy, a woman who seemed to have few redeeming qualities, but my curiosity for the other side of the story won over these doubts.

Since it had been a little while since reading the first book, I was afraid I wouldn’t remember enough to really get into the novel. Fortunately, Giffin summarizing the events from Darcy’s point of view helped jump start my memory and within a few pages, I was comfortably situated. And ready to fall for Darcy.

Yes, Giffin really did make me like Darcy. From early on, Darcy has much more depth than I would have given her credit for. It helps that her narration isn’t in the present tense : instead, she is talking from a future point in time, thinking back on these events with a somewhat critical eye. Along the way she sometimes point out how silly or selfish her actions were, but most of the time she lets her actions, good or bad, speak for themselves.

There’s also a romance element, and it’s sweet, and I liked it. It’s also complex, because people are complex, and this, I liked even more. There’s a bit of uncertainty but nothing over the top. It made the story even more heartwarming.

I did felt Darcy turned on her wheels rather quickly, going from bad to good in 60 seconds, but since it was time for her to change, I didn’t mind it much. I still had a great time and read through her story compulsively, finishing the book in one day (a rare event this year!)

Fans of Something Borrowed should definitely give Something Blue a try. Darcy has more than one surprise in store and Giffin’s writing highlights her story with a lot of talent.