Sunday, February 26, 2012

review: the secret sisterhood of heartbreakers by lynn weingarten

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Lucy has a big announcement for her boyfriend on the first day of school, but he has something to tell her too. So instead of having sex for the first time ever, Lucy has her heart broken. Alex was her everything (despite Lucy’s constantly ignored great best friend), so she’s absolutely distraught at his loss. When a group of older girls offer Lucy the opportunity to become a heartbreaker herself, she decides to use their magic to win Alex back.

I expected The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers to be an empowering story about teen girls with magical abilities who rally around each other after a heartbreak. And while yes, the "heartbreakers" did bring Lucy into their fold, the group was simply vindictive. Instead of empowering each other, they tore others down. And weak, weak Lucy yearns for the guy who dumped her throughout the book. Everything she does is with Alex in mind. For example, when working up the courage to sing on stage, Lucy thinks about how Alex isn’t there to see her, but that she’ll get him back if she can make it through the song. Exactly what is the message for girls here?
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

Friday, February 24, 2012

review: cinder by marissa meyer

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When I started Cinder by Marissa Meyer, I expected it to be much more reminiscent of Cinderella than it actually was. I struggled for the first few chapters as I felt that cyborg Cinder didn’t live up to my expectations. After all, she’s figured out how to subvert her stepmother, has a good robot friend, and gets along quite well with one of her stepsisters. It seems like a fairly decent life, especially since Cinder meets Prince Kai immediately through a job she truly enjoys. I was further put off by the prevalence of new terms like netscreen and magbelt, which is one of my pet peeves regarding futuristic novels. Cinder seemed a little ho hum. But then the plague (which has already infected much of New Beijing) takes someone close to Cinder. It is the catalyst that hooked me as I figured out where the story was going. Often when I figure out exactly what’s going to happen so early on, I’m a little disappointed; this time it actually led to my enjoyment of the book. Meyer’s debut is not without flaws (there are far too many scenes where someone simply told Cinder everything she needed to know), but it is a fun read.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Feiwel and Friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

review: summer rental by mary kay andrews

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After the funeral of Julia’s mother, longtime friends Ellis, Julia, and Dorie decide it’s time they stopped reuniting at funerals. They decide to spend the entire month of August at a beach in North Carolina. Right away Dorie’s annoying sister Willa invites herself along, then Dorie wants to bring along her new husband despite it being a “girls only” trip. So it’s not quite the vacation they initially planned, but Ellis has found what sounds like an excellent rental house for them. The plans fall apart even more when Ellis gets laid off, Willa backs out (and Dorie’s husband doesn’t come either), and the house is definitely not what they expected. The landlord (who turns out to be their sexy neighbor) is quite cantankerous and hasn’t paid the cable bill. The women make the best of it and end up sharing an incredible month together that brings them closer as they share secrets and even get involved in an embezzlement scandal.

I liked the initial group of Ellis, Julia, and Dorie right away, but had some hesitations when Maryn (who’s fleeing her husband) got brought in. Her story didn’t really fit and it took quite a bit of time before she met the other women. The dynamic between the three friends was good—they’re women who likely wouldn’t be friends as adults if they didn’t have so many years of childhood friendship behind them—and their characterizations were spot on. Maryn was also quite believable, given her background. When Maryn finally joined the others, the interactions were perfect with Maryn keeping to herself and Julia playing Nancy Drew to figure out her real story. Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews is the perfect book to read on the beach or when yearning for summer weather.
Review copy provided by BookDivas.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

review: anne of hollywood by carol wolper

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Carol Wolper's racy Anne of Hollywood brings the story of Anne Boleyn into 21st century Hollywood. The update works amazingly well. Here Henry is the charismatic head of a media conglomerate, Mary is a fun-loving pothead, and George is an actor rumored to have hooked up with a frat brother. Wolper does an excellent job of coming up with a modern role for each of the historic characters. There's even a plausible explanation for Henry not being divorced from Catherine (they do live separately) before dating Anne. This incredibly fun novel is full of delicious scandal and plenty of sex.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

Friday, February 3, 2012

review: how to eat a cupcake by meg donohue

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How to Eat a Cupcake finds Annie going into business with her former friend, Julia. Julia was actually more than a friend as they grew up in the same house as sisters since Annie’s mom was Julia’s nanny. High school changed all that and the two didn’t speak for a decade. But Annie never held anything against Julia’s parents, so she agreed to provide the cupcakes for a party at the St. Clair home. The story of their estrangement and subsequent reconnection comes in alternating perspectives, which helped create a bond with both women. Instead of rooting only for Annie, I wanted Julia to find happiness as well. At times the relationship between the women was simply fun, but it got very serious at times especially when they started being honest about the events of their lives. Meg Donohue’s debut novel is a touching depiction of friendship and family with wonderful plot full of mystery, love, and cupcakes.
Review copy from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.