Tag Archives: slice of life

Meant to Be

Morrill, Lauren. Meant to Be (2012). Delacorte Press. 306 Pages

11721314Before even beginning my review, I just… this is a Teen book. Deliberately with a capital T. It is about teens having teen adventures and finding teen romance, and that is awesome, and I enjoyed reading it, but if you choose to do so based upon my review (to follow) please do be aware of that.

From Amazon

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).

But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

First Lines

There are certain things in life that just suck. Pouring a big bowl of Lucky Charms before realizing the milk is expired, the word “moist,” falling face-first into the salad bar in front of the entire lacrosse team…

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Romance, Teen Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

On the Jellicoe Road

Marchetta, Melina. On the Jellicoe Road (2008). 432 Pages. HarperTeen.

Melina Marchetta Jellicoe RoadFrom the Author’s Website

“What do you want from me?” he asks.

What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him.

More.

Taylor Markham is not a popular choice. She is erratic, has no people skills and never turns up to meetings. Not to mention the incident when she ran off in search of her mother and only got halfway there. But she’s lived at Jellicoe School most of her life and as leader of the boarders that’s her greatest asset. Especially now the cadets, led by the infamous Jonah Griggs, have arrived. The territory wars between the boarders, townies and cadets are about to recommence.

But Taylor has other things on her mind: a prayer tree, the hermit who whispered in her ear, and a vaguely familiar drawing in the local police station. Taylor wants to understand the mystery of her own past. But Hannah, the woman who found her, has suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but an unfinished manuscript about five kids whose lives entwined twenty years ago on the Jellicoe Road.

First Lines

My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

I counted.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-la. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father had said that it was about time the four of us made that journey.

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Wife by Wednesday

Bybee, Catherine. Wife by Wednesday (2011). 222 Pages. Self Published. $.99*

Wife By Wednesday CoverFrom Goodreads

Blake Harrison:
Rich, titled, and charming… And in need of a wife by Wednesday so he turns to Sam Elliot who isn’t the business man he expected. Instead, Blake is faced with Samantha Elliot, engaging and spunky with a voice men call 900 numbers to hear.

Samantha Elliot:
Owner of Alliance, her matchmaking firm, and not on the marital menu… That is until Blake offers her ten million dollars for a one-year contract. All she needs to do is keep her attraction to her husband to herself and avoid his bed. But Blake’s toe-curling kisses and charm prove too difficult to combat. Now she needs to protect her heart so she can walk away when their mercenary life together is over.

First Lines

“I need a wife, Carter, and I needed her yesterday.” Riding in the back of the town car en route to Starbucks, of all places, Blake Harrison glanced at his watch for the tenth time that hour.

Carter’s startled laugh rode on Blake’s last nerve. “Then pick one of the masses and walk the aisle.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance

Red Glove

Black, Holly. White Cat (2011).  325 Pages. Margaret K. McElderry. $17.99

The Curse Workers | Book Two

Please be aware that because this is the second book in a series, there may be spoilers for the first book, White Cat. Proceed with caution.

Also included in this post, my opinion on “Lila Zacharov in 13 Pieces,” which was a teaser to bridge the gap between White Cat and Red Glove. (I loved it.)

From Goodreads

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

First Lines

I don’t know whether it’s day or night when the girl gets up to leave. Her minnow silver dress swishes against the tops of her thighs like Christmas tinsel as she opens the hotel door.

I struggle to remember her name.

“So you’ll tell your father at the consulate about me?” Her lipstick is smeared across her cheek. I should tell her to fix it, but my self-loathing is so great that I hate her along with myself.

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Maids of Misfortune

Locke, M. Louisa. Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francsico Mystery (2009). 336 Pages*. $2.99**

From the Author’s Site

It’s the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie’s husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns to pay off a debt.

Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco’s most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of Madam Sibyl’s clients, Matthew Voss, has died. The police believe it is suicide brought upon by bankruptcy, but Annie believes Voss has been murdered and that his assets have been stolen.

Nate Dawson has a problem. As the Voss family lawyer, he would love to believe that Matthew Voss didn’t leave his grieving family destitute. But that would mean working with Annie Fuller, a woman who alternatively attracts and infuriates him as she shatters every notion he ever had of proper ladylike behavior.

Sparks fly as Anne and Nate pursue the truth about the murder of Matthew Voss in this light-hearted historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco.

First Lines

The bastard!

Annie Fuller gasped, shocked at even allowing such an unladylike expression to enter her mind. She had been enjoying her tea and toast while sorting through her mail in splendid solitude.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Historical Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Realistic Fiction

This Girl is Different

Johnson, JJ. This Girl is Different (2011). 288 Pages. Peachtree Publishers. $16.95*

This review is pre-release: It comes out April 1, 2011

This Girl is Different CoverEvie is not your typical teenage girl. Her mother is a New-Agey hippie who has spent a lot of time raising her daughter to be a student of the world. The official word for it is “homeschooled” and in some ways, that puts Evie at a disadvantage. All she knows of normal school dynamics is what she’s seen from movies. Luckily for Eve, she’s already met Rajas and Jacinda, so she’s not completely alone in this alien environment.

Unfortunately for Eve, there’s a lot she still has to learn, and this lesson is going to be a tough one.

First Lines

I manage to grab the snake, but not without twisting my foot and falling butt-first into the creek. When I stand, lightning shoots through my ankle.

I take a long, deep yoga breath, an Ujjayi ocean breath, to be calm. Steady. Strong. Hopping on one foot, I hold the wriggling snake and scramble over to a large rock. As I unshoulder my backpack, the snake flicks its tongue at me. It must think I’m crazy.

I can think of worse things. Better crazy than mild.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, General Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Call Me Irresistible

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth. Call Me Irresistible (2011). 385 Pages. HarperCollins. $25.99

Wynette, Texas | Book Six

There is a sort of chronology to these books, but they certainly don’t have to be read in order. In roughly story-order, this one is book six. Earlier books in the series told the tale of Theodore’s parents– Fancy Pants is about his early years. Seemingly he makes another appearance in Lady Be Good, and then features as the hero in Call Me Irresistible. Meg Koranda’s parents are in Glitter Baby, and Lucy Jorik’s parents are in  First Lady. I’ve read a few of those, but I’m taking my time coming up with opinions.

From the Cover

Lucy Jorik is the daughter of a former president of the United States.

Meg Koranda is the offspring of legends.

One of them is about to marry Mr. Irresistible– Ted Beaudine– the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The other is not happy about it and is determined to save her friend from a mess of heartache.

But even though Meg knows that breaking up her best friend’s wedding is the right thing to do, no one else seems to agree. Faster than Lucy can say “I don’t,” Meg becomes the most hated woman in town– a town she’s stuck in with a dead car, an empty wallet, and a very angry bridegroom. Broke, stranded, and without her famous parents at her back, Meg is sure that she can survive on her own wits. What’s the worst that can happen? Lose her heart to the one and only Mr. Irresistible? Not likely. Not likely at all.

First Lines

More than a few residents of Wynette, Texas, thought Ted Beaudine was marrying beneath himself. It wasn’t as if the bride’s mother was still the president of the United States. Cornelia Jorik had been out of office for over a year. And Ted Beaudine was, after all, Ted Beaudine.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance

Five Flavors of Dumb

John, Antony. Five Flavors of Dumb (2010). 338 Pages. Dial Books. $16.99

When I read Erin’s review over at LitSnit, she made this book sound super interesting, so I looked for it at my library to no avail. But a few weeks later, I noticed it in the “newly input” list, and I jumped right on that. Hooray for librarians who track search terms!

From the Cover

Eighteen-year-old Piper has gotten herself into a mess. Because of her big mouth, she has one month to get a paying gig for her high school’s hottest new rock band, called Dumb. In Piper’s mind, the band couldn’t have a more perfect name. Just look at the members: one egomaniacal pretty boy, one silent rocker, one talentless piece of eye candy, one angry girl, and one nerd-boy drummer– five discordant personalities who, when put together, seem ready to self-destruct at any moment. Getting them an actual gig seems impossible. Add to that the fact that piper doesn’t know if their music is good or not, because, well, she’s deaf.

But Piper is determined to get the band a gig to show her classmates that being deaf doesn’t mean she’s invisible. And as she gets to know the five flavors of Dumb, some hidden talents, secret crushes, and crazy rock music emerge. She doesn’t need to hear the music to sell it, but Piper wants the chance to feel the music too. Does she have what it takes to manage Dumb and discover her own inner rock star?

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, General Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Jane Austen in Scarsdale

Cohen, Paula Marantz. Jane Austen in Scarsdale or, Love, Death, and the SATs (2006). 275 Pages. St Martin’s Press. $23.95

From the Cover

Anne Ehrlich is a dedicated guidance counselor steering her high-school charges through the perils of college admission. Thirteen years ago, when she was graduating from Colombia University, her wealthy family– especially her dear grandmother Winnie– persuaded her to give up the love of her life, Ben Cutler, a penniless boy from Queens College. Anne has never married and hasn’t seen Ben since– until his nephew turns up in her high school and starts applying to college.

Now Ben is a successful writer, a world traveler, and a soon-to-be married man, and Winnie’s health is beginning to fail. These changes have Anne beginning to wonder… Can old love be rekindled, or are past mistakes too painful to forget?

First Lines

“Great speaker last night, right?” Vince Flockhart, Fenimore’s principal, looked hopefully down at Anne Ehrlich, head of guidance, as she ate her grilled cheese sandwich in the faculty cafeteria. Report had it that the parents had been impressed by the speaker– though half had left in tears and the other half had been digging in the bottom of their bags for Valium.

Thoughts

I do not know much about Persuasion, as I’ve never actually read it, and I don’t recall watching a film version. From what I know, the main point is that Anne Elliot is from a good family, and falls in love with a handsome naval officer named Wentworth. Because her father, elder sister, and mentor disapprove of the match, Anne breaks it off. Several years later– when she is beyond “marriageable” age– Anne again encounters Wentworth, only now he is a successful, rich Captain. Things happen, and Anne ends up marrying Wentworth*.

If Jane Austen in Scarsdale were merely being judged on its ability to follow the general plot of Persuasion, I might have been more impressed. It does a decent job re-telling the story in modern New York. There are difficulties– as there always are when “updating” a classic– and it is hard to explain why a smart young woman would let her grandmother’s snobbery prevent her happiness.

However, it got very bogged down with the guidance counselor aspect. Several chapters were dealt dealing with “the parents,” who were all certifiable, and obnoxious. Additionally, the children were as crazed and driven as their parents, but whinier.** It didn’t really add to the story in any meaningful way, rather, it seemed to slow it down and distract from the main plot– which was supposed to relate to Persuasion. As either a retelling of Persuasion or a romance about a guidance counselor, this would have done very well, but it seemed to be suffering from an identity crisis at times.

The story still managed to be entertaining, and others may (and clearly have, judging by amazon’s rating) disagree with me, but I don’t think I particularly enjoyed it.  It scores a 2.5/5, for managing to be funny, at times, but still not good enough for me to really like it.

_____________________________________________

* It’s been around for nearly 200 years, so I’m not concerned about spoilers.

** Good Lord. It drove me crazy to read about this. I went to one of those schools where it wasn’t “Are you going to college?” but rather, “Which college are you going to?” and I still wasn’t that crazed. I had reasonable expectations, and had worked hard enough to be near the top of my class without trying to get a 4.02. I didn’t even involve my mother very much, and she didn’t worry, because she had confidence in me, which mattered more than whatever the hell the parents in this novel seem to be doing. It felt like a little too much hyperbole, and it may have benefited from being a little less crazed.

7 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, General Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

King, A.S. Please Ignore Vera Dietz (2010). 323 Pages. Random House. $16.99

From the Cover

Is it okay to hate a dead kid?

Even if I loved him once?

Even if he was my best friend?

Is it okay to hate him for being dead?

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone– the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

First Lines

The Funeral

The pastor is saying something about how Charlie was a free spirit. He was and he wasn’t. He was free because on the inside he was tied up in knots. He lived hard because inside he was dying. Charlie made inner conflict look delicious.

Thoughts

There’s a lot going on in this book, yet it works so well together that it’s not overwhelming. There are flashbacks, point-of-view shifts, moments of contemplation, or difficult conversations. This book is a tragedy to its core; it begins with a funeral, continues with difficult introspection and self-exploration, and concludes on a note which is only slightly higher than the beginning.

Vera Dietz has spent most of her life trying to fly under the radar, to avoid notice, and avoid her destiny. She doesn’t have close relationships, after both her mother and Charlie betrayed her, she’s not looking to be close to anyone. She just wants to move on, to hold onto her job and keep her grades up so she can afford to take some community college classes when she graduates high school. Unfortunately for Vera, she has a lot to come to terms with before she can move on. She still hasn’t faced her mother’s departure, she never really accepted Charlie’s betrayal, and his death is real to her, but so is his ghost. She’s hiding behind vodka, and losing herself in work.

There are chapters from the point of view of the Pagoda, or Charlie, and sometimes Vera’s father. (His chapters are made all the more excellent by his flow-charts).They are beautifully balanced, and all of them add a little more depth to the story, building upon what has just happened, or what is still coming, and creating this utterly perfect, utterly sad story.

Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. I felt like Vera’s voice was perfect, and I couldn’t stand waiting to find out what had happened to Charlie, and how she knew about it, and why she hadn’t yet gone to the police with her knowledge, and why the police were involved at all, and what was going to happen with Vera and her Father, or work, or school, or any number of other things. Even at the end, everything is not tied up in one neat little conclusion, but it’s the sort of ending which is still somehow satisfying despite not being a neat closure. There is no happily-ever-after or anything, but it does end on a hopeful– if still a bit bleak– note.

It’s tough to read a book about death, especially one which is so very realistic. There are no flights of fancy, this is contemporary, real-world YA, and that makes it more tragic, and real. It gets a 5/5 for being just about as perfect as it could possibly have been.

4 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction