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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Review: How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

The end of the summer season is drawing perilously close and I still have several reviews to post in my Summer Fun Review Wrap Up.  Gaahh!  I hope I can manage to get them posted.

While Fall is actually my favorite season of the year, I always  feel a little saddened by the Summer end.  I look forward to the heat, or rather humidity, being over, but I know that Winter is never too far behind.  I do love the crisp Autumn smell to the air and I really look forward to decorating for Halloween, but growing up a shore girl, there's just something about those warm summer days that I'll always miss.  Nostalgia catching up with me I guess.

But Labor Day is not for another 6 days and one must eke out every bit of summer fun one can before it's time to don the hockey jerseys.  Although, it may not yet be time to trade the sandals for the DMs.  I usually wear sandals through September 30.  It's my little rebellion that the summer is over.

Well, before the summer slips away, it is time for a little summer romance.  This time I bring you How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski.

Book Description (From Amazon):
First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance!
Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious. To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…

My Review:
This book had me from the very first sentence, "I wasn't always the kind of girl who wakes up on the first day of summer vacation to find herself on the receiving end of a temporary restraining order."

The books opens up with Rosie dealing with her broken heart. We all have ways to deal with a broken heart, but I thought Rosie's method was creative if not a little bit mad, but it goes horribly awry. Taking all her mementos over to her Ex's, Joey, she sets the box down in the driveway and sets the box and contents on fire. What she didn't count on was that the fire would spread and Joey's car would catch on fire. So now she has a restraining order, a lawyer and a court date to look forward to over the summer.

I might have lost it too if my Ex had shown up to a party with his new , in Rosie's words, ho bag. I was never violent, though, well back then, and the worst I managed was giving the ho bag the skank eye, to which my Ex dressed me down and told me to be nice. What I found to be amusing was that Rosie did not seem to grasp the concept of restraining order. She was persistent in vocalizing her need to speak with Joey to sort everything out. She was basically stalking him after the break-up hence the restraining order. Even after she is served with the TRO, she still makes plans to go out with the girls and do a drive by of his house and work. Which may have worked had her mother not realized she left the house without permission and new just where Rosie was going.

Clearly what she needs is a way to stay out of trouble. And her best friend, Matty, has provided the means. He is driving to Arizona with his friend Spencer and Spencer's brother, Logan. Logan is off to college in Arizona and he wants to take his car. The three are going to make a road trip out of it and Rosie has just been volunteered to go.

Since her parent's can't trust her, they give her phone to Matty to hold. He will be her phone police, letting her have it when she needs it, but taking it right back. They can't trust her to not try to contact Joey and if she can't wrap her head around how much trouble she is in, it will be much worse.

Logan is in charge of the trip. He seems like the man of her dreams while he is talking to Rosie's parents, but once they are on their way, he turns into the demon from hell, laying down the laws: no special treatment, they're basically going to treat her like one of the guys, if she's not back to the car on time at stops, he'll leave her behind, etc. Is this going to be a fun ride or a trip down the Highway to Hell?

So, I thought the characters would good. I was endlessly amused by Rosie's rationale and how she could justify the things she did. I imagine it would be hard being on the road for that long with three guys and being the only girl. I took a cross country road trip once, but I went with two brothers and a sister. Not quite so much testosterone. Even though she started the trip as a minor inconvenience, she did manage to worm her way into all their hearts and I enjoyed seeing how their relationships changed. It's hard for it not to when you're that close together for a period of time.

While I really enjoyed the book and would read it again, I do have to say that while the characters were well thought out, there wasn't as much by way of description. It was like reading a travel diary. You know, this is how we got from point A to point B. I never got a good sense of where they were geographically. The settings and backgrounds were not as fleshed out. The book was definitely more about the characters and their growth. The trip was just a vehicle. While that may leave some stories lacking, I found that it worked for this story. The back drop was not as important as the journey the characters were taking in their relationships.

Overall, this was a good, fun summer read. Just the kind of escapism I crave on a hot, lazy summer day.

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's Just Another Manga Monday: Strobe Edge 5 by Io Sakisaka

It's Monday and what better way to take the edge off than to indulge myself in one of my current favorite mangas, Strobe Edge. This title has quickly become a favorite of mine as it is so full of teenage angst. I remember those days. Horrible. Ah l'amour!

Alison Can Read started a weekly Manga Monday meme which I have jumped on. I've been reviewing manga from the start, but it is nice to have a place were like minded Otaku can meet and share our favorites.

Book Description (From Amazon):
A heartwarming story about first love that’s one of the most hotly anticipated new shojo series among U.S. fans.
What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world...

Resolving to focus on his girlfriend, Mayuka, during her time of need, Ren buries his growing feelings for Ninako. Meanwhile, Ninako sees a different side of Ando when they run into his ex-girlfriend. What happened to Ando in the past, and how was Ren involved?

Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences.

My Review:
Well, things are really starting to heat up and I don't mean in a romantic way.

Ren realizes he has some feelings for Ninako, but with Mayuka's parents getting divorced, she is falling apart. Ren decides that he will stay by Mayuka's side because she needs him. So, in order to be there for Mayuka, to support her, he quits the café and starts working closer to home. He also starts distancing himself from Ninako, going so far as to avoid her if at all possible.

Meanwhile, Ando has confessed his feelings to Ninako. He tells her he'll wait, but that Ren will never leave Mayuka so she might as well choose him. Ninako feels depressed because she never sees Ren anymore.

Daiki and Mayuka see their father and Mayuka realizes she is slowly coming to terms with the divorce. Mayuka starts picking up extra hours and hasn't had a lot of time to spend with Ren, but he doesn't seem to mind. He tells her he is there for her whenever she has the time. Being the good boyfriend that he is, he tries everything he can to be supportive of her and be what she needs when she needs him.

Ninako and Ando go out on a shopping trip to pick up supplies for the Christmas party. While stopping for refreshments, Ando runs into an ex-girlfriend of his. It leaves him unsettled, so he skips the Christmas party. Days later at work he tells Ninako about what happened with his ex and she starts crying for his pain. He hugs her just as Ren walks in the stock room. Ren acts like nothing happened, but Ninako is mortified; however,  she also realizes he didn't seem like he cared. But will it be reason enough for her to give up on Ren and go out with Ando?

Ando tells Ren that he confessed his feelings to Ninako hoping to get a response out of him. He wants Ren to be honest about his feelings. Ren admits that any feelings he has must be crushed. He's made his choice and he's going to stay by Mayuka's side because she needs him.

I have to love Ninako. She still clings to hope when it seems like all hope is gone. Will she stay true to her heart or finally give up?
Ren has put himself between a rock and a hard place. He is stoically remaining by Mayuka's side out of some inflated sense of responsibility it seems, but can he be happy forcing himself to stay with someone he may no longer love?

Mayuka needs to grow a backbone. Divorce is such a common thing now and for her to be falling apart because her family is now in that situation just seems pathetic. She is older than Ren, but she doesn't act it. She uses him as a crutch, but will she learn to stand on her own without his support?

I have been all about team Ren, but he seems to be making things difficult for everyone and is acting like a bit of a jerk. I have been much more sympathetic towards Ando. Ando has confessed his feelings to Ninako, even going so far as to tell her that he loves her and he'll wait for her. He seems so sincere and he's leaving himself wide open. exposing his vulnerable side. Will Ninako crush his heart?

In a side story, we find out just exactly why Ando doesn't seem to like Ren.

Volume 6 is due out September 3rd.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stacking the Shelves - The Postman Does not Ring Twice

Today has been a day to try to organize some things regarding my blog:
  • I posted my reviews on Amazon and GoodReads, so now everything is up to date.
  • I am in the process of setting up a Facebook page for my blog.
  • I finally set up an account with Bloglovin.

I still have a lot to do to get better organized, but it's a start.

The postman has been very unkind to me this week. I have not received any packages. In order to make up for it, I have purchased some Kindle books. Perhaps he will be kinder this coming week.

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

In Kindle:
The Dirty Streets of Heaven: Volume One of Bobby Dollar by Tad Williams
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
Faery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa Marr
Haven by Kristi Cook
Paladins of Shannara: The Black Irix (Short Story) (Kindle Single) by Terry Brooks
Paladins of Shannara: The Weapons Master's Choice (Short Story) by Terry Brooks
Paladins of Shannara: Allanon's Quest (Short Story) by Terry Brooks

That's it for this week.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rea Miller

Summer is rapidly coming to a close and what do I have to show for it??? Nothing. It's been too hot to be outside and the weather has been just miserable. Other than going to Medieval Times, The Renaissance Festival and a couple of movies, I've done nothing but work, chores and sleep. Pathetic.

But I digress. To salute the summer, I thought a fitting end would be to review the summer themed books I've read...but now that I think about it, I probably should have reviewed them more towards the beginning of summer. Oh well, I'm late on everything these days.

Nonetheless, I will commence with my Summer Fun Review Wrap Up. The first book on my list is The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller and it is all about how I met my a comic book store.

Book Description (From Amazon):
On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

My Review:
It all started with a Halloween costume contest in Junior High. Maddie dressed as her favorite comic book character and she thought she was the bee's knees. She put a lot of time and effort into her costume and was sure she was going to blow every one's minds. Instead, she got called a dork and was laughed off the stage.

Ever since then she has kept her Geek life secret, hidden. She has put a lot of effort into out-distancing her past. Now in High School she is popular, she's dating the quarterback and no one knows about her double life. She goes to great pains to keep it all hidden. She subscribes on line and downloads her comics, so no one will find out she reads comics.

All that goes south when she is expecting the final issue to her favorite comic to come in the mail, which was available only in printed copy, but shipping has been delayed 5 - 7 weeks. Knowing she can't wait that long, she decides to brave the local comic book store, but not before putting on a hat and glasses so no one will see her.

She gets to the store and like an adolescent trying to get an adult to buy them beer, she tries to get some guy to buy the comic for her so she doesn't have to set foot in the store. She offers him $10.00 and he tries to extort more money. When she refuses, he goes into the store, but when he comes out, he taunts her with an issue of the very comic she is looking for. He tells her she better buck up and go in the shop herself because there is only one copy left.

With her reputation hanging in the balance, she braves the comic store, but can't locate the book on the rack. When she asks for assistance, she recognizes the guy behind the counter, Logan Scott, who she has always had a bit of a crush on. She panics hoping he won't recognize her, but he asks if he knows her to which she replies she's from out of town.

As it turns out, the last issue is his issue, but after bantering back and forth, he lets her borrow the book. Since the shop is closing in a couple hours, he gives her his phone number so she can call once she's done reading it to make arrangements to return the comic.

Maddie keeps a comic journal. Once she's read the comic, she documents her thoughts about it in a journal. (An idea I think I am going to try for books since sometimes I read them and don't review for weeks. It will help keep things fresh in my mind I think.) After reading the comic and writing in her journal, she takes out the paper to call Logan to make arrangements to return the book, but she sees he has written a note saying, "I know your secret identity."

And so it begins. Her carefully crafted persona might be revealed because she was seen and recognized. If word gets out, her life will be ruined.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Just Another Manga Monday: Skip Beat 31

Well, it's been a long, long time since I've done a manga post; one reason being I haven't been able to post much for the past month and another being that I haven't read any manga. I didn't realize that was in part from not having any manga on order, so I was missing some of the new books, most notably Viz titles. I rectified the situation, put in a nice big order with and got my books some time in the past two or three weeks. I even read three of them so far, so I am primed and ready to go.

Alison Can Read started a weekly Manga Monday meme which I have jumped on. I've been reviewing manga from the start, but it is nice to have a place were like minded Otaku can meet and share our favorites.

So, for this week, I give you Skip Beat 31 by Yoshiki Nakamura.

Book Description (From Amazon):
Release date: June 4, 2013 | Series: Skip Beat! (Book 31)

A bestselling romantic comedy
Kyoko Mogami followed her true love Sho to Tokyo to support him while he made it big as an idol. But he's casting her out now that he's famous! Kyoko won't suffer in silence--she's going to get her sweet revenge by beating Sho in show biz!

Ren is fighting to keep himself under control, but living as Cain Heel and simultaneously building the character BJ are really wearing him down. Kyoko is getting really worried, but even President Lory can’t do more than encourage her to support Ren. Can Kyoko’s own dark side give her the insight to help her friend, or will she be forced to watch as he self-destructs?!

Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences.

My Review:
Well, the action is really intensifying. Ren is deep into his character, Cain Heel. The character he plays as Cain Heel is a blood thirsty demon, wild and uncontrollable. But the deeper he gets into the character playing the character, the closer he is getting to the secrets of his past and he is in danger of losing himself completely.

This volume opens with Ren as Cain standing over a ledge with Murasame in a choke hold. Murasame can't breathe and he decides if he is going to die, he's going to take Cain with him, so he flops over the edge pulling Ren along with him. As they fall, Kyoko as Setsu cries out and Ren comes to his senses. He pushes off Murasame and lands on his feet while Murasame lands on the safety net. We later learn the reason for Ren's actions and Murasame realizes he may have pushed Ren too far this time.

Kyoko, on the other hand, calls the President and asks him if there is anything wrong with Ren and what she should do about it.  She is beginning to notice he is acting stranger and stranger the onger he plays Cain.  She is told that she is there to support him, to be his rock. She was under the impression that she was tagging along to make sure Ren ate enough, but she is now being told that she needs to look out for Ren. The President doesn't tell her, though, about Ren's past. When the President asks if Ren has done anything, a clueless and naïve Kyoko kind of freaks out remembering from the last volume how Ren cuddled with her in his sleep.

Unbeknownst to her, though, the President has a secret agenda in having her accompany Ren.

And then we get to see Sho again. His manager is trying to stop him from watching any TV because she doesn't want him to find anything out about Kyoko, but Sho has been watching videos on the computer and a video comes up of Kyoko which sets him off. He starts yelling and calling her names. He calls her cell phone and leaves insulting messages for her. I can't decide whether he is jealous of her increasing popularity or if he still cares for her. I'm leaning towards the jealousy angle as he has always been shallow and vain.

The President decides it's probably time Kyoko had a manager, a young, handsome one. Mr. Yashiro is expecting Ren to protest or get angry, but he just plasters his Gentleman's smile on and says it's a good idea. Mr. Yashiro is still trying to get Ren to admit to his feelings for Kyoko and can't understand why Ren isn't more protective and possessive of Kyoko.

To make matters worse, Mr. Kijima got Kyoko's email address and decides to send her a text form a set where he is shooting a commercial with Ren, but things start to get interesting when Kyoko emails him back.

Volume 32 is due out December 3. Whaaa??? Four whole months to wait??  Nooooooo!!! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stacking the Shelves

It's been difficult to write.  Egg needs chin rubs.

I have managed to collect quite a few books since July 14th, although, I haven't done much else and I certainly haven't read any of them.  But...there's always tomorrow.

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Notes from the Blender by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Elegy (Watersong) by Amanda Hocking
Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
The Impossibility of Tomorrow: An Incarnation Novel by Avery Williams
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
Serpent’s Kiss: A Witches of East End Novel by Melissa de la Cruz
Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book
Witch Wraith: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Who Needs Magic? By Kathy McCullough
Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt
Russia: A World Apart by Sir Simon Marsden and Duncan McClaren

Dreams and Shadows: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill - $1.99
Defiance (Courier’s Daughter) by C. J. Redwine - $1.99
The Rules of You and Me by Shana Norris – Companion to the Boyfriend Thief - $3.99
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White - $1.99
Cinderella Steals Home by Carly Syms - $2.99
A Plague of Zombies: An Outlander Novella by Diana Gabaldon – Originally entitled Lord John and the Plague of Zombies - $1.99
The Taker: Book One of the Taker Trilogy by Alma Katsu - $2.99
Diary of the White Witch: A Witches of East End Prequel by Melissa de la Cruz - $.99
Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase and Anne Victory - $2.99
Pivot Point by Kasie West - $1.99
Lost and Found in Cedar Cove (Short Story) by Debbie Macomber – Mistakenly thought I was purchasing a Friday Harbor story – $.99
Frigid by J. Lynn - $2.99
Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park - $1.99
Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike - $1.99
Fathomless (Fairy Tale Retelling) by Jackson Pierce - $1.99
Eternal Starling (Emblem of Eternity Trilogy) by Angela Corbett - $3.99
Hourglass by Myra McEntire - $1.39
Timepiece: An Hourglass Novel by Myra McEntire - $1.39
Alice in Wonderland (A Novel) by Elle Lothlorien - $4.99
The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden by Jessica Sorensen - $1.99
First Date by Krista McGee - $1.99
One Day More by Aprilynne Pike - $1.99
The Princess Problem (A Fairy Tale Romance) by Diane Darcy - $0.00

Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar’s Game 1 & 2
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz 3 & 5
Kamisama Kiss 13
The Wallflower 31
Sakura Hime 10
Skip Beat 31
Devil and Her Love Song 9 & 10
Demon Love Spell 3
Dawn of the Arcana 10
Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You) 17
Library Wars 10
Kaze Hikaru 21
Happy Marriage?! 1
Arata: The Legend 14
Rin-Ne 12
Strobe Edge 5
Oresama Teacher 14
Bleach 57

I've been on a bit of a Kindle buying binge.  I have downloaded a metric ton of samples I am trying to get through, but I love books that cost less than $3.00.

Now if I can only settle on what to read next...


Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Life as a Fairy Tale

Every little girl dreams of being a princess when she grows up, well , almost all little girls, and I was no exception. One year for Halloween, my mother made me a princess dress, complete with a conical hat. I'll have to see if I can dig up that picture and scan it. I had always hoped my life would be like living in a fairy tale. I just had no idea I would be the Cinder girl and not the beautiful princess at the ball.

So here is how my days have been going. I get up and go to work, working anywhere from 9 - 12 hours a day. Some evenings after work I have to go food shopping. Some nights after work I have to go to the gym. On those nights when I do not have to go food shopping or to the gym, I come home and start on chores, managing the household as it were. I find that when I finally do get home, I have to wash dishes, wash clothes, make lunches, take care of the garbage, gather the recycling, fold laundry, pay bills, take care of the cat, make sure hubby is fed and when I am done with any chores I have for the evening, then I can spend some time working out. After washing up and getting in pajamas, then, and only then, is it my time. My time used to start by 9pm, but lately, the past few weeks, my time has been starting around 11 or midnight. For my time, I have to balance between watching my movies (never happens anymore), reading, cleaning up my emails or working on my blog. You can figure out which I've been spending my time on and I'm not able to get all that much read lately.

So, yeah, my life is like a fairy tale...a Grimm's fairy tale.

I sit here hanging my head in shame, but I really have had so little time for me at all. The past few weeks have been exhausting. So, I apologize to everyone. I had not planned on taking a few weeks off and I certainly hope that will never happen again. I will be back to visiting my friends out there and I will try to respond to any comments posted during my madness.

I will try to illustrate for you. Last week, I actually had some computer time, so I was going to post, but I ended up going into my email. I was looking for a specific email, but my in box had gotten up to over 3,000 emails. I started mass deleting things. I mean, do I really need 5 e-newsletters on wine? No I don't. I don't even need one. I spent probably about three hours deleting emails, but there were a bunch I had to read before deleting. So after spending an evening on it, I still had over 2,000 emails in my in box and I never got to my blog. How do people do it?

Well, I have plenty of reviews to write, books to read, rants to make, shelves to stack, swoons to, well, swoon over and all the rest. So I guess I better get to it. Tonight, though, I just wanted to say 'Hi' and let you all know I'm still here.