"Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. ...And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything."

~ Edward Cullen

Monday, January 26, 2009

Review: Parties and Potions

Title: Parties and Potions
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Pages: 340
Rating: 4.5

Perfect hair, cute clothes, healthy tans—life’s a breeze when you’re a witch! Even special witchcraft classes Rachel agrees to attend with Miri turn out to be fun. The sisters meet other teen witches just like them—who knew? Everyone’s preparing for a magical party called a Samsorta—a debutante ball for witches. And it wouldn’t be a ball without warlocks. Cute ones. Like Adam, who wants to slow dance with Rachel, and ski with her in the Rockies—on a school night! Of course, Rachel is madly in love with her boyfriend, Raf. So why can’t she bring herself to tell Adam—funny, charming Adam—that Raf exists?

Rachel knows Raf likes her. Maybe even, gulp, loves her. But Raf doesn’t know her secret. Unlike Adam, Raf doesn’t know who she really is. And she can never tell him. Or can she (Cover Blurb)?

Yeah!!! I finished my first series of 2009. Four more to go and I've met my goal!

Parties and Potions was back up to par with the first two books in the series. Rachel and Miri begin exploring the more intricate parts of witch society and learn that there are tons of other witches right in their own backyard. I loved this one because it again had tons of interactions between Rachel and Miri. That sisterly bond was back. Also, this book showed a lot of growth in the characters, something that was lacking in Spells and Sleeping Bags.

I think my favorite part of this book was the romantic little relationship between Rachel and her boyfriend Raf. It was so innocent and sweet - the first kiss, the first time you say I love you. It was so adorable --- it kinda took me back a few years and made me feel like I was in high school again. Also, in this novel, Miri gets a love interest, and its so cute to see her head over heels for a guy.

I finished this book in one setting, and really flew through this whole series in less than a week. If I keep this up I'll definitely hit my 100 book goal!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review: Spells and Sleeping Bags

Title: Spells and Sleeping Bags
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Pages: 293
Rating: 3.5/5

At long last, Rachel's powers have arrived and she's a bona fide get-your-broom-ready witch!

And it's happened just in time. No Manhattan for her this summer—she's spending her vacation at Camp Wood Lake.But she's having some serious issues:

Mosquitoes in the Adirondacks are incredibly thirsty.

Her stepmom keeps sending embarrassing feminine hygiene care packages.

She accidentally zapped away all her clothes.

And there's a backstabber in her cabin intent on making life miserable.

Good thing Rachel's a witch (Cover Blurb).

I finished Spells and Sleeping Bags last night before heading off to dreamland. So far, this has been my least favorite of the series. I felt a lot of the really quirky dialogue was missing, and I had the whole mystery of the book figured out way before the end. I think, in comparison to the other two books, this one moved at a slower pace. It was still good, and I still love Rachel and Miri, I just felt it didn't have the *bam* of the other two books.

Rachael and Miri are away at summer camp. Rachel's whole goal for the summer is to get together with Raf, her crush from the first two books. While, it is amusing to see the messes she gets into, I missed the more intense scenes between Rachel and Miri - their relationship seemed to suffer a little in this book, and I missed the sisterly bonding. Plus, a lot of the humor in the first two books of the series, came from the trouble that the two girls got into together. Although, when Rachael turns her bikini into a thong, and then into a see through bikini it is pretty funny. She definitely doesn't have control of her magic.

All in all, I've been pleased with this series so far. I started the last book in the series, (I'm not sure if the author is planning on writing more - this last book was just released on Dec. 23rd), Parties and Potions this morning so I should be able to finish that one quickly. I do think, if more books are planned I will be reading them. They're a nice, easy read and a welcome break from some of the more adult books I read last year.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What a day...

What started out as a not so great day, turned into an absolutely horrible day by the time it was all said and done. When hubby and I came home from work, we let the dogs out and he went back to our room to shower. He called me back to the room, because Ralphie, my four year old long hair orange kitty, was laying on our bed. This was odd because our room is dog territory and Ralph never went back there. When I picked him up from the bed he made a horribly pitiful cry. I set him down on the floor and he continued to cry. I threw my cell phone at DH and he called the vet. Ralphie's little stomach was horribly bloated and he could barely stand. Every time you touched him he would cry. As we were getting him ready to take to the vet, he collasped as he was trying to get up because he was getting sick.

We rushed to the vet and they took him right in. My wonderful vet (she really extraordinary) came out and let us know that he had a blockage in is uretha. The blockage was about the size of quarter and was causing him horribly pain. We would need to transport him to the emergency vet where he would be sedated, put under, and then operated on to remove the blockage. Plus, all the toxins in his body were backing up and most likely causing heart damage (this was bad news because Ralph was born with a bad heart to begin with--- he was a rescue that hubby and I found on the side of the road and nursed back to health). DH and I talked about it and decided that it would be best to put him to sleep. As hard as it was, our vet agreed it was probably for the best. With his track record, and previous health conditions there was no guarantee he would ever recover from this.

So, this evening, my beautiful little boy went to kitty heaven. I'll miss him dearly, and will always love him, with all my heart. He was the first pet that DH and I ever had together, and lived at DH's parents house with him until we got married and finished building our house. He was definitely king of his castle and he'll be greatly missed by all...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Review: Frogs and French Kisses

Title: Frogs and French Kisses
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Pages: 277
Rating: 4.5/5

This frothy sequel to Bras & Broomsticks (2005) is just as sweet and funny as its predecessor. Rachel is still jealous that her mom and little sister, Miri, are witches, while she remains annoyingly unable to levitate as much as a teacup. But when her divorced mom begins whipping up dating spells and using magic to enhance her cleavage, and Miri exhausts herself by zapping oil spills instead of finishing her homework, Rachel suddenly finds herself in the strange position of cautioning her family against their magical excesses. Complications ensue as Rachel tries to bring her normally levelheaded family members under control, while dealing with the results of a love spell gone wrong and a fast-approaching prom. Tempered with the message that nothing worth having comes easily, Mlynowski's sassy text surpasses a chick-lit label by being wonderfully fast-paced and clever. A surprise ending will have fans eagerly looking forward to Rachel's next adventure (Amazon.com)

I started this book the same night I finished Bras and Broomsticks, and read it just as quickly. Frogs and French Kisses continues the story of Miri and Rachel, two normal Manhattan sisters (ok so one's a witch, but I'm sure that's common). Rachel, still in love with the hottest boy in school, has Miri perform a love spell and accidentally causes her crushes older brother to fall in love with her. So now she's a freshman, with an uber cool senior boyfriend, who just asked her to prom. However, Miri, trying to save a field full of cows from being slaughtered, magically sends all the cows to the high school gym - much laughter ensues.

I can't tell you how much I love this series. I don't think I've laughed so hard while reading a book in a long long time. At one point, Miri and Rachel are flying around town on a tricycle (the broom was missing in action...lol) and Rachel is describing herself in relationship to ET when he flew on the handlebars of a bike. The picture in my head was priceless. I'm really glad I read that while I was at home and alone instead of at work in the middle of the office.

This year so far has obviously been the year of the young adult book for me. Young adult titles have come a far way from when I was a teen looking for something to read. There are so many different avenues available to today's younger generation then when I was 12. At that age I was so bored with the choices I started reading VC Andrews (obviously my mother wasn't a reader and was not aware of my book choices...lol). Now, I feel that when I have children, there will be such a wider range of books for them to choose from. And due to the fact that I have a book buying disease, they probably won't have to even buy any :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Review: Bras and Broomsticks

Title: Bras and Broomsticks
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Pages: 310
Rating: 5/5

Rachel can't believe it. Her younger sister, Miri is a witch! How come Miri inherited the supernatural skills that could have turned Rachel into a teenage superstar?

Just as Rachel suspects, magical powers are wasted on the young. Miri refuses to use them for Rachel's benefit. And Rachel is desperate! Not only does she need to learn some serious dance moves, she's got to win her best friend back, stop her father's wedding, and snag a cute guy's heart.

Maybe Rachel will discover she's got magical powers of her own. Or maybe, just maybe, she can find a way to change Miri's mind...(Cover Blurb).

Years ago, I read three books that Sarah Mlynowski had published under Red Dress Ink and absolutely flew threw them. I loved her writing style, and just felt a huge connection with her characters. A while back, I found out that she was writing a series for young adults about teen witches. I found the first one at Borders, and picked it up. I continued to buy the books in the series as they were released but never did get around to reading them. After the disappointment I felt with A Great and Terrible Beauty, I thought I would give the first one a try. I am really really glad that I did.

This book was a riot. I quickly finished it off in two days (while keeping my house clean and the laundry caught up...an amazing feat for me...lol). Mlynowski's dialogue is great and really keeps the book moving. I just loved the main character Rachel. She's quirky and funny and every bit the typical American teenager. She's awkward and kinda geeky and absolutely in love with the hottest boy in school (wow, sounds like me in high school...hehehe). Miri, her little sister, is just as funny. Using magic, the two of them create oodles of problems and messes they have to figure out like when they cause the whole family to break out in massive pimples.

I gave this book a high rating because I truly did enjoy it *that* much. It was just what I needed for my little slump and the perfect book to waste away the cold winter nights. Now I'm off to read Frogs and French Kisses - the second book in this adorable little series.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Attack of the Book Buying Monster

I started Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski last night after finishing up A Great and Terrible Beauty. I've also owned this one for probably a year and a half and still hadn't read it. I read a good fifty pages last night before heading to bed and I really really liked it. Today, I hopped on Amazon to see the reviews, and saw that there was a new book out in this series (I already own the two that follow Broomsticks). Because I'm enjoying this book so much, I headed up to Borders at lunch time to pick this up so I could read all of them one after another.

Well, that was a mistake. I got into Borders and headed back to the young adult books and I think something overtook my body and just began plucking books off the shelf into my hands. Lately, I've been really interested in young adult fiction and this probably wasn't a good time to head towards that section. I ended up walking out with 12 (yes 12 books). They are as follows:

1. Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead
2. Frost Bite - Richelle Mead
3. Shadow Kiss - Richelle Mead
4. Blue Bloods - Melissa De La Cruz
5. Masquerade - Melissa De La Cruz
6. Revelations - Melissa De La Cruz
7. Marked - PC Cast and Kristin Cast
8. Betrayed - PC Cast and Kristin Cast
9. Chosen - PC Cast and Kristin Cast
10. Untamed - PC Cast and Kristin Cast
11. Unbelievable - Sara Shepard
12. Wicked - Sara Shepard

A pretty decent haul right? However, did anyone else see that I completely forgot to get the one book I went in there for? Yes that is right. I was overtaken by the book buying monster and lost all sense of thought until I was back in the car driving away. So now, I must go back up after work and see about getting the one book I should have bought at lunch. Lovely!

Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty

Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty
Author: Libba Bray
Pages: 403
Rating: 3/5

Gemma Doyle isn't like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoke to, who remember their station, and who will lie back and think of England when it's required of them.

No, sixteen year old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to the Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds a chilly reception. But she's not completely alone...she's been followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against the visions.

For it's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy group call the Order. It's there that her destiny waits...if only she can believe in it (Book Blurb).

Almost one year after purchasing this book, I decided to give it a try. I was looking for something different after finishing the Twilight Saga and thought that this would do the trick. The premise sounded so good. Plus, this young adult novel has received wonderful reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. However, despite my best intentions, this book took me almost two weeks to read.

Gemma, herself, is a like able character. And her story is interesting. I just don't know if it moved too slowly for me or if I was still on an Edward Cullen high but I found myself really struggling to finish this book. Finally on about page 325 (out of 400), I felt like the book picked up speed and I actually began enjoying it. I do want to see what happens with the Realms and whether or not Gemma can defeat the evil Circe, so I will be reading the two other books in the trilogy. I just think I'll be giving myself a break before starting them.

I'm curious to see what other readers felt about this book. Stop by and let me know :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Review: Breaking Dawn

Title: Breaking Dawn - Book 4 in the Twilight Saga
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Pages: 768
Rating: 4.5/5

I'm a walking zombie this morning due to this book. After staying up until 2AM and waking back up at 5, I'm not sure how much I'll get accomplished at work today. But it was well worth the struggle I'll go through this morning. It is horribly hard to write this review without giving away spoilers, so if you've yet to read this or the first three books, don't read this review.

Breaking Dawn opens by telling the story of Edward and Bella's engagement and wedding. The wedding, planned mainly by Alice, is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Edward and Bella's hearts and lives are finally joined as one, but Bella has made a great sacrifice to accommodate this. She is leaving behind not only Jacob, her "best man" and other love, but also must begin to prepare to leave behind her family as her main goal is to become a vampire and be with Edward forever. Edward and Bella leave for their honeymoon to a small island off the coast of Brazil. There, Edward finally gives into Bella and makes love to her, not without the remorse and regret that is so his character. Bella being Bella believes that practice will make perfect, and seduces Edward into trying again. All the resulting love making creates a child, despite everything that Edward and Carlisle had believed to be true.

Edward, not happy with the pregnancy and wishing for Bella to terminate the pregnancy rushes Bella home. Bella, however, has created an alliance of sorts with Rosalie and insists on carrying her "little nudger" full term. It is at this point that the story shifts from Bella's point of view to Jacob's.

Jacob, still passionately in love with Bella, flees his "werewolf" pack when he finds that they wish to destroy Bella in order to destroy her child. Leaving behind Sam, he takes his right as true Alpha and creates his own pack with the Clearwaters. They warn Edward's family and watch guard for any attacks. It is at this time when Jacob sees Bella, whose pregnancy is progressing extremely quickly and basically killing her. As a reader you experience all of his emotions and then some as time quickly passes and Bella gives birth. It is a very violent and bloody birth, with breaking of bones and large amounts of blood loss. Edward turns Bella into a vampire, and Jacob almost immediately imprints on Reenesme, Edward and Bella's daughter.

Breaking Dawn then returns to Bella's point of view (my favorite part of Book 4). We see as Bella experiences all the new things her vampire future has given her, and watch as the Cullens are overwhelmed by her unbelievable self control around humans. Also, Bella comes to realize her gift and in the end using that weapon against the Volturi (I am not going to give away the entire ending --- it would completely ruin everything else).

I am 100% completely in love with this saga. I know many readers and reviewers have giving Breaking Dawn in particular horrible reviews, but after stepping back and re-reading the first three books before reading this one, I felt it was a perfect wrap up to an absolutely amazing saga. One must remember that the Twilight Saga is a love story. Any truly good love story ends in a HEA, otherwise it would be a tragedy - much along the lines of Romeo and Juliet. I think one reviewer on Amazon nailed it one the head when she said that Breaking Dawn would most likely appeal to the older married readers of the saga -as they too have already experienced the pure joy and love of marriage and creating a family. I felt everything that happened in Breaking Dawn, to the pregnancy to Jacob's imprinting, was vital to the rest of the story. How else would Jacob get is ending - killing Edward only would have enraged Bella, it would not have made her run into Jacob's arm. I truly believe that Stephenie Meyer did the best that she could for these characters. Edward, Bella and Jacob are her babies and who wouldn't want to see they're babies happy? The only reasoning I gave it 4.5/5 stars is because I was really sick of reading about the sexual innuendos between Bella and Edward after her change --- I mean, he is still really my vampire man not hers.

Now I am off to find something else to read. I hard task after reading this saga, with its electric pull and dearly loved characters.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Reading Goals 2009

Each year, I feel it is important to make a list of reading goals. In years past I've made huge ridiculous reading goals that I have never met. This year I'm going to try to make these goals much more reasonable.

So here they are in no particular order:

  1. Complete the 2009 100+ Reading Challenge
  2. Choose the above books from my massive TBR pile
  3. Try to finish and complete at least 5 of the series I have accumulated including Harry Potter.
  4. Keep my blog current and reviews current (I'm already starting off behind so I can only imagine how this will go)

Those are going to be my goals for the year. I think I can accomplish them, however, I do worry about completing at least 100 books, but we shall see as the year progresses.

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