Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Book Haul 2013

Well hello again readers! I hope your holidays were fantastic and that you received everything you wanted while enjoying the company of family and friends. I know I did.

For book lovers like myself the best day of the year is the day after Christmas where I head to the nearest bookstore with gift cards in hand and prepare to make some of the hardest decisions of the month. I have to carefully calculate how many books I can get with my money and which books I really can't wait any longer to read. I think I'm pretty happy with the choices that I made this year and I may even do full length reviews for many of them. Since I stupidly managed to forget my camera before heading home for my holiday break I'll just have to use generic pictures of the covers.


Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella: There is just something incredibly entertaining about Kinsella's writing that keeps me buying every new book she releases. Her novels have such a nice blend of romance and humor that it makes for great afternoon reads. I hope this latest book doesn't let down all of my expectations.


The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead: Honestly, Richelle Mead can do no wrong in my book. I consider her to be one of the best YA fiction writers who wrote the amazing Vampire Academy Series (Whose movie adaption looks like a sad rip off of mean girls and Twilight that I'm not sure I'm looking forward to) and the amazing spin-off series this book is in. I really can't wait to read more about Sydney and Adrian!!!!! I have no doubt that I will enjoy this read. 


Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: I thought the first book in The Lunar Chronicles, Cinder. was an awesome mash-up of the dystopian genre and characters from fairy tales that I just had to read the sequel. I'm excited to see what Meyer does with the red riding hood character.


Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore: I have to admit I was a little annoyed to find out that this book actually exists. I read the first two books  Graceling and Fire in early on in high school and I loved both of them. I didn't expect for there to be another book in the series released so long after the first two. Now I really can't remember what happened in the books before this one. Sadly, since I don't own either of them, I'll probably have to look up summaries online. Despite this complaint I still have hope that Bitterblue will turn out to be a great novel.


The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling): I have to admit that the only reason I'm considering reading this book is because Rowling wrote it. I really want to see if she can write a great mystery novel. I was a bit unimpressed by The Casual Vacancy, but I'm saving all of my judgments for this book until after I finish it.


The Angel's Game and The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: As promised in my earlier review of The Shadow of the Wind I looked into the sequels and bought the both of them. I'm looking forward to finding out if these sequels are as good as the first book and if Zafon maintained his amazing style of writing.

With those last two books that completes my Christmas book haul. Don't forget to keep a lookout for future reviews of these books and as always Best Wishes:)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot


Title: The Bride Wore Size 12
Author: Meg Cabot
Page #: 392
Name and # of Series: Book 5 in Heather Wells Mysteries
Rating:

Book Blurb: 
Heather Wells is used to having her cake and eating it too, but this time her cake just might be cooked. Her wedding cake, that is.

With her upcoming nuptials to PI Cooper Cartwright only weeks away, Heather's already stressed. And when a pretty junior turns up dead, Heather's sure things can't get worse—until every student in the dorm where she works is a possible suspect, and Heather's long-lost mother shows up.

Heather has no time for a tearful mother and bride reunion. She has a wedding to pull off and a murder to solve. Instead of wedding bells, she might be hearing wedding bullets, but she's determined to bring the bad guys to justice if it's the last thing she does . . . and this time, it just might be.

Review:

This is the last book in Meg Cabot's Heather Wells Mysteries series, a series that was initially only three books long, but recently had 2 other installments added to tie up all the loose ends. Normally I get incredibly angry when an author fools around with a perfectly good end to a series because inevitably the plot and characters get so convoluted that it's hard to even read the series anymore (I'm talking to you Mortal Instruments Series ugh!). Despite this, I gave Cabot's new book a chance and thankfully it provided an even better ending to the series.

Now before I get into all the intimate details that impressed me so much about the book I would like to point out something amazing about Meg Cabot. While some authors are usually restricted to one genre and one type of audience, Cabot is amazing because she can successfully produce books for young adult and adult readers, which allows audiences to continue to find enjoyment in her work as they get older. I've been a fan of Cabot since middle school when by chance I picked up a copy of the first two Princess Diaries books and loved them. I spent the rest of my time in middle and high school reading all of her young adult novels that I could get my hands on. By the end of high school when I started discovering some amazing adult books that better suited my older taste I found Cabot's adult novels and loved them just as much as The Princess Diaries and The Mediator Series.

Now let's get on with the actual discussion of The Bride Wore Size 12

Despite what the title suggests this book is anything but your typical Chick-lit (a label that I really detest by the way). The main character, Heather, is dynamic and really easy to relate to, which is not a characteristic you usually find today in books that feature female protagonists. Instead of being a ridiculous mary sue or the woman so completely infatuated with the male romantic interest that she can't make any intelligent decisions, Heather is hilarious, sarcastic, career oriented, and comfortable with herself. She has also experienced some amazing character development over the course of this series. While the titles of all the books are centered around her fluctuating weight, Heather has now reached a point in this book where she is actually comfortable with her body size (YAY!!).

Additionally, Heather has a mature relationship with her fiance Cooper and there are no stupid problems that arise between them in order to try to drum up some action in the plot. Her relationship with him and even her upcoming wedding are not the center of the entire book, as the title seems to suggest. Instead they are delightfully in the background while Heather tries to solve a murder.

While having another murder occur in the dorm of the college that Heather works at was really just a repetition of the plots in the previous books in the series, I still found her investigation into the death of Jasmine, an RA at Fisher Hall, to still be entertaining and it kept me guessing the identity of the true killer. I won't give any spoilers, but I will say that I thought that the identity of the killer was actually pretty logical and Cabot left enough subtle textual clues that the final reveal didn't come out of the blue.

The secondary characters in this book were also rather dynamic and fleshed out, so much so that I wished they could have been in the story more. Eva's presence and the hint of a romantic relationship with one of the inspectors was something I wished could have been fully explored. Also the back and forth between Heather and Gavin was really funny to read and I always love when Magda makes an appearance. Most importantly the female secondary characters functioned as more that just romantic rivals/threats to Heather, an aspect worth rejoicing over.

I also found Heather's position at Fisher Hall to be completely believable and correctly portrayed when I think about the Residence Life Coordinators at the college that I'm currently attending. Like Heather they always seem to be catching themselves saying "dorm" when the approved term is supposed to be "Residence Hall." Her little quip about how girls fight with each other by leaving notes on the fridge made me laugh and reminds me of my neighbors who constantly leave each other passive aggressive sticky notes when they are upset with each other.

All in all I thought The Bride Who Wore Size 12 was a highly enjoyable novel. It was a quick, easy read that I would recommend to anyone that loves a murder mystery with some moments of romance, comedy, and drama thrown in to keep the plot from being stale. The entertainment this story provides and the integration of dynamic characters made it so that the book deserved nothing less than a 4 star rating.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gift Guide for the Book Lover on Your List

I know this post is a little late in the season, but I figured I could put my own internet wanderings to good use and make a convenient list of all the book related products that any reader would enjoy getting. I've spent a good deal of my time these past couple of months trying to find stuff to put on my own Christmas list and these are some of the items that I've not only come across, but also have been ardently wishing would make an appearance under my Christmas tree.

Before I get to the actual list though I would like to address one topic that I think is pretty important for holiday gift giving and that is gift cards. While handing over a gift card for a bookstore to a reader can be a great gift (and I gift that I do appreciate on occasion) oftentimes it can be construed as impersonal and thoughtless. In order to combat those awful impressions here is some advice.

Unless someone specifically asks for just a gift card, there are a number of ways you can personalize the gift of a gift card to make everyone happy. First you could buy a small book related item to accompany the card. Something as simple as a bookmark would be perfect. You could also give them a book light which is incredibly useful particularly for those of us who have decided not to give into the popularity of ereaders. You could also nestle the gift card in an awesome mug with some small packages of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. I know that there is no greater pleasure as a reader than cuddling up with a great book and a warm beverage. If all else fails make an amazing package to enclose the gift card.

Now it's time for the online guide to buying a book lover the perfect gift. Before buying any of these gifts I suggest that you do a little sleuthing and figure out the favorite book or author of the person you are buying the gift for. You'll see why soon enough.

  • Anything from Litographs.com
http://www.litographs.com/

This awesome online store sells t-shirt, posters, and tote bags all related to your favorite classic book. The best part is that the designs of these items are created by artists using the actual text from the book.

  • Out of Print Clothing and Accessories

http://outofprintclothing.com/
This website also sells clothing and other accessories like jewelry, tote bags, and stationary related to your favorite book. It is perfect for the person who isn't afraid to advertise their reading tastes to the public. I currently own their Jane Eyre sweatshirt and I really love it.

  • A book scarf from the Etsy shop Storiarts
 

There is something so wonderful about being able to wear parts of your favorite book and this fantastic seller takes actual excerpts from your favorite book and prints it onto scarfs. Now that the weather is getting colder everyone needs a scarf, so why not make it book related. While there are only a limited number of books available, the seller does do custom orders.

  •  Anything Book Related on Etsy.com Really
My suggestion is just to search up a favorite book or author and go from there. You will be surprised to find all of the awesome stuff people make. On a whim I searched Charlotte Bronte and now I have about a million things on my wish list.

  • Paper Passion Perfume
http://www.amazon.com/Paper-Passion-Perfume-Geza-Schoen/dp/3869305010

There is just something so incredible about the smell of books both new and old. Whenever I get a book the first thing I do is smell it and I know for a fact that I am not alone in this weird habit. The smell of paper and ink is so amazing that on more than one occasion I've wished they could make a perfume out of it and they have!! While this would make for a great gift be aware that it is quite pricey, which is one of the reasons why this perfume will remain on my wish list for some time.

  •   Personal Library Kit
http://www.knockknockstuff.com/catalog/categories/organizers/personal-library-kit/personal-library-kit/
This awesome gift is for the book lover that loves to share their books and loves the feel of having a personal library. It includes pockets, checkout cards, a stamp and ink pad, and a pencil. I would have asked for this for Christmas, but I would probably need a ton of these kits because my personal library is so large.

  • A Bookbinding Kit
 
 
This kit includes all the tools you will need to make your own book at home. I'm confident that this is one DIY project that any book lover would enjoy doing.
 
  • Floating Bookshelves
 
 
This awesome shelf makes it look like your books are floating on your walls when in all actuality they are safely shelved. This is a great way to decorate or store books that can no longer fit on your regular bookshelf.
 
 
And last but not least...speaking of bookmarks
  • Fingerprint Bookmark
 
 


 
This elastic bookmark is perfect for anyone who likes to read because it keeps track of the exact line that the reader left off at.
 
 
Well this is just a selection of the awesome stuff you can get someone who loves to read. Did anything on this list catch your eye? Is there something important that I forgot?
 
 
Stay tuned for some more book related posts! Best Wishes.

December Updates

Well my lovely readers it has been a long time since I've posted anything and that is sadly due to the extreme work load of college. By the time that November rolls around everything just goes downhill. While many of you with enviable free time were taking part in NaNoWriMo I was taking part in something I like to call CoEsWriMo or College Essay Writing Month. It seems that during the month of November college professors all come to an agreement that an insane amount of reading and essays should be crammed into November to make up for the complete lack of work done in September and October. This leads right into finals at the beginning of this month. I'm pretty sure I could have written an amazing novella in the time I spent writing all of those stupid college essays. Anyway I'm happy to say that that part of my life is finally over with and I can enjoy the holiday season properly.
Now that I'm no longer bogged down by homework and assigned reading I have plenty of time to actually read some books for fun. In the next couple of days I will be making up for my complete lack of activity by posting some book reviews and even continuing my Jane Eyre watch-a-thon. I will also be doing some random book related posts that hopefully you will enjoy.

Additionally as any book lover knows Christmas is an amazing time of year because that means brand new books that you didn't have to pay for. I have my eye on a few new books this year and if I'm lucky there will be a new book haul post sometime after Christmas!

That's all the updates that come to mind at the moment, so keep a lookout for those posts and as always Best Wishes!