Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book Review: The Secret Lives of Dresses - Erin McKean

The Secret Lives of Dresses
Dora has always taken the path of least resistance.  She went to the college that offered her a scholarship, is majoring in "vagueness studies," and wears whatever shows the least dirt.  She falls into a job at the college coffee shop, and a crush on her flirty boss, Gary.

Just when she's about to test Gary's feelings, Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke.  Dora rushes back home to Forsyth, NC, and finds herself running her grandmother's vintage clothing store.  The store has always been a fixture in Dora's life; though she grew up more of a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of girl, before she even knew how to write, Mimi taught her that a vintage 1920s dress could lift a woman's spirit.

While working there, Dora befriends Mimi's adorable contractor, Conrad.  Is he after Dora, or is working from a different blueprint?  And why did Mimi start writing down--and giving away--stories of the dresses in her shop?

When Mimi dies, Dora can't get out of town fast enough and cedes control of the store to her money-hungry aunt who wants to turn it into a t-shirt shop for tourists.  But ultimately, she returns to Forsyth, willing to battle whatever may stand in the way of her staying there.  Dora can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants?\

3/5 stars (liked it)
I thought it was a cute story about a girl, Dora who has never known what she wants in life or who she really is.    Dora's parents died when she was very young and she was raised by her grandmother Mimi.  Her grandmother has always tried to get her to wear the vintage clothes and even goes as far as making a closet for Dora full of vintage clothes.   When Mimi gets a stroke, Dora decides to go back to Forsyth.  Leaving behind a guy she has had a great crush on, she meets a new man who she could fall for.  All the while running her grandmother's store and dealing with an annoying and pushy aunt who is trying to change Mimi's store.  I like how you saw Dora grow throughout the book and all the lovable characters in the book.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Book Review: Four: A Divergent Story Collection - Veronica Roth

Four: A Divergent Story Collection (Divergent, #0.1 - 0.4)
Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation's faction leader did the same.  Tobias's transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again.  Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him.  Here, he will let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened "Four," he discovers during his initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless.  Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy.  His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future--and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear.  The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that.  With her, the way to righting their world might become clear.  With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

4/5 stars (really liked it)
I loved seeing what Four (Tobias) was like when he was in Abnegation and when he first got to Dauntless.  Also loved the stories that included Tris and how his feelings for her developed.  I would love to see what life is like for Four after the series ended.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Notes to Self - Avery Sawyer

Notes to Self
Two climbed up.  Two fell down.

One woke up.

Robin Saunders is a high school sophomore with an awesome best friend, a hard-working single mom, and a complicated relationship with a sweet guy named Reno.  She's coasting along, trying to get through yet another tedious year of high school, when Em suggest something daring.  They live in Florida--tourist central--and Emily wants to sneak into a theme park after midnight and see what they're made of.

When things get out of control, Robin wakes up in a hospital bed and Emily doesn't wake up at all.  Just getting dressed becomes an ordeal as Robin tries to heal and piece together the details of that terrible night.  Racing to remember everything in the hopes of saving Emily, Robin writes a series of notes to herself to discover the truth.

3/5 stars (liked it)
It is sad that it takes a bad head injury for Robin to become a better person.  With the head injury she forgets things and uses notes to remind herself how to do things, such as showering or where she needs to be.  Her mother seems like a great hard working person that wants to provide a good life for Robin despite not having her father around and a mother in school.  Also Robin has a friend, Reno who she has ignored for a while and suddenly he's the only friend she has.  Everyone at school blames her for Emily being in a coma.  So Robin resolves to try to remember what happened exactly.  I like that this book doesn't have a super happy ending, it just kind of ends as if life continues.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: Remembrance - Michelle Madow

Remembrance (Transcend Time, #1)
Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from Regency Era, England...but she doesn't know it yet.

Then Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie's high school, and she feels a connection to him, almost like she knows him.  She can't stop thinking about him, but whenever she tries talking to him about the mysteries behind her feelings, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her.  Reaching him is even more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has started to become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and he flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival.  So why can't she get him out of her mind?

Even though Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, fighting fate isn't going to be easy.

3/5 stars (liked it)
For a book based on a song it was actually pretty good.  Jeremy was very much a jerk and I'm surprised Lizzie put up with him for as long as she did.  Even if Drew would not have come in the picture she should have broken up with him.  I enjoyed how Lizzie uncovered her past slowly and was reluctant to accept the idea of reincarnation.  Overall a good book and I will definitely check out the other books in the series.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review: World of Trouble - Ben H. Winters

World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3)
Critically acclaimed author Ben H. Winters delivers this explosive final installment in the Edgar Award winning Last Policeman series.  With the doomsday asteroid looming, Detective Hank Palace has found sanctuary in the woods of New England, secure in a well-stocked safe house with other onetime members of the Concord police force.  But with time ticking away before the asteroid makes landfall, Hank's safety is only relative, and his only relative--his sister Nico--isn't safe.  Soon, it's clear that there's more than one earth-shattering revelation on the horizon, and it's up to Hank to solve the puzzle before time runs out...for everyone.

4/5 stars (really liked it)
By far my favorite book in the series.  I think this was a great conclusion to the book series and I'm a little sad that there really won't be a possibility of more.  Although I would love to read a book about Hank Palace when he joined the police force before an asteroid was headed to earth.  I love how Hank never gave up on being a good person and finding out where his sister ended up.  I also like how we met some new characters who were interesting.  I especially love the dog and Hank's description of him.  The ending of the book was my favorite and I'm glad the author ended the book where he did.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Book Review: Reborn - C.C. Hunter

Reborn (Shadow Falls: After Dark, #1)
For Della Tsang, Shadow Falls isn't just a camp: it's home.  As a vampire who's just starting to come into her powers. it's the one place she can finally be herself.  But when a new evil threatens everyone she cares about, Della is determined to do everything she can to save them...even if it means teaming up with the one boy who can break her heart.  In Reborn, return once again to C.C. Hunter's Shadow Falls, a camp where supernatural teens learn to harness their powers and discover the magic of friendship and love.

4/5 stars (really liked it)
I loved the Shadow Falls series with the chameleon Kylie and her story ended and I was so glad to hear there would be a spin-off series.  And Della has got to be one of my favorite characters at Shadow Falls, next to Burnett who I really want to learn more about.  Della is a small girl with a who is tougher than she looks and very fiesty.  There is a new vampire at camp named Chase and he seems familiar to Della.  Also Della is trying to find out more about her family even though her father never talks to her and her whole family is so disappointed in her.  This book had my interest to the end and especially the end.  Can't wait to read the next book.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Review: The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant

The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant
The Birth of Venus
Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family's Florentine palazzo.  A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter's abilities.
But their burgeoning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra's parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy, much older man.  Meanwhile, Florence is changing, increasingly subject to the growing suppression imposed by the fundametalist monk Savonarola, who is seizing religious and political control.  Alessandra and her native city are caught between the Medici state, with its love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art, and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola's reactionary followers.  Played out against this turbulent backdrop, Alessandra's married life is a misery, except for the surprising freedom it allows her to pursue her powerful attraction to the young painter and his art.  The Birth of Venus is a tour de force, the first historical novel from one of Britain's most innovative writers of literary suspense.  It brings alive the history of Florence at its most dramatic period, telling a compulsively absorbing story of love, art, religion, and power through the passionate voice of Alessandra, a heroine with the same vibrancy of spirit as her beloved city.

3/5 stars (liked it)
Reading the first few pages really drew me in.  Alessandra is old and dead at the beginning and you want to find out her life story.  And we get sent back to when she is 15 years old.  She loves art but she lives in a time where women cannot be painters or artists.  Therefore she is forced to do art in hiding.  Then comes a young painter, hired by her father, to paint.  She is quickly drawn to him and wants to learn from him.  I loved learning some of the history and I truly liked Alessandra and wish some things had worked out differently for her.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Review: The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown

The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown
The Weird Sisters
There is no problem a library card can't solve.

The Andreas family is one of readers.  Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women.  When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the other there.

See, we love each other.  We just don't happen to like each other very much.

But the sisters discover that everything they've been running from--one another, their small hometown, and themselves--might offer more than they ever expected.

3/5 stars (liked it)
I am not much for Shakespeare and so I was unsure if I would get used to all the references in this book.  But I actually found I liked the references.  All the characters were pretty likable in their own way.  Rose being the oldest and most responsible always stuck at home.  She is engaged and is afraid to leave home.  Bianca lived in New York City and really messed up in her job and so she packs her things up and goes home.  Cordelia is the youngest and the baby in the family.  She has lived all over the country without a care in the world until the world decides to make her responsible and she also comes home.  Throughout the book each girl as well as their parents learn more about each other and themselves.  I thought this was a cute book with a happy ending.