Author: Dani

Book Review – Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins

Posted November 8, 2014 by Dani in Dani's Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review – Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Published by Dutton Juvenile on December 2nd 2010
Pages: 372
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Travel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

“The whole school is as intimidating as it is impressive. It should be reserved for students with personal bodyguards and Shetland ponies, not someone who buys the majority of her wardrobe at Target.”

Meet Anna Oliphant. She’s your average teenager about to start her last year of high school in Atlanta, Georgia. But thanks to her recently wealthy, author and “total dick” father, she will spend her senior year in a boarding school…in Paris. Anna almost instantly falls in lust with Étienne St. Clair. (You don’t even have to read the book to know that only a boy who is stupidly hot is named Étienne St. Clair.) And as the book continues, lust turns to love and sometimes hate – both for Anna and the reader.

“St. Clair flops down beside me, breathing heavily. He’s lying so close that his hair tickles the side of my face. Our arms are almost touching. Almost. I try to exhale, but I no longer know how to breathe. And then I remember I’m not wearing a bra. And now I’m paranoid.”

Anna is immediately likable. She’s got the “fish out of water” thing down like a pro. The only French she knows is “oui” and now she finds herself living in the City of Lights – too afraid to order food in the cafeteria or leave her dormitory. Anna is awkward in her interactions, especially with Étienne. He leaves her dumbfounded and tongue-tied. What sets Anna apart from her other YA leading lady rivals is her inner monologue. She’s downright hilarious. Rarely do books make me laugh out loud. Sure, they will warrant an internal chuckle or a smile, but Anna and the French Kiss had me giggling, chuckling, roaring with laughter.

“’Hello’ and ‘please.’ I’ve learned all the polite words first, in hopes that the French will forgive me for butchering the remainder of their beautiful language.”

This book is full of cliché stock characters. You have the amazing and instantaneous gal pal next door who (of course) saves Anna from her first meltdown, plus gal-pal’s best friend who has a tough exterior but a heart of ooey-gooey gold. There is the hunky Brit that all the American girls love, including Anna and the aforementioned gal pal. Throw in a dash of innocuously evil French teacher, the “bro” BFF of Brit-boy, the “bitch for no reason” nemesis, and the gang is all there. Guess what? I totally love it! Usually I would hate such predictable characterization, but this book gave me everything I wanted: moderately angsty teens with light and fluffy problems, and ultimately, a happy ending.

Did it change my life? Nope. This book is the literary equivalent of a funfetti cupcake with extra sprinkles. And sometimes, the world just needs more sprinkles. I’m very excited to jump right into Lola and the Boy Next Door for more laughs and cutesy teenage love, and can’t wait for the library to deliver Isla and the Happily Ever After. If you’re looking for more boarding school fun, check out Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. If you’re after another lovable outsider, grab The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Lastly, for the best of both worlds plus a little paranormal action, you must read Fallen by Lauren Kate.

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Book Review – The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Posted October 25, 2014 by Dani in Dani's Reviews / 1 Comment

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Good Girl by Mary KubicaThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Published by Harlequin MIRA on July 29th 2014
Pages: 355
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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"I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will." 

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….

“I’ve been following her for the last few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I’ve never spoken to her. I wouldn’t recognize the sound of her voice. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

Meet Mia/Chloe. Mia was kidnapped by a stalker with the intent to extort money from her very wealthy and prominent father. Chloe is the girl who returns to her family while Mia remains trapped by her own subconscious after the horror she faced.

The Good Girl relies heavily on cliché; It has a pretty, little rich girl who loathes her wealth and status, a kidnapper with a conscience, a dickish detective with a heart of gold, and totally aloof, distant parents that Mia detests with little foundation. I never grew to care for Mia – not when she was cold and crying in her captor’s lair, and not after a shell of her former self had been returned to her family. I never disliked or feared her kidnapper, but I took larger issue with him sprouting a conscience after abducting someone.

“But there’s the gun. She sees it. And in that moment, things change. There’s a moment of recognition. Of her mind registering the gun, of her figuring out what the fuck is about to happen. Her mouth parts and out comes a word: ‘Oh.’”

“Oh” precisely sums up my reaction to this book. It didn’t get scary psychologically and the suspense built within one chapter would quickly diminish with the frequent chapter breaks that not only change point-of-view narrators, but also had temporal shifts before and after the kidnapping. The result was jarring and confusing, not mysterious.

I think the largest problem this book had was me as a reader. I just recently finished two awesomely creepy books about missing women: Gone Girl and The Collector. On the heels of those 4-star works, this novel didn’t stand up. It was conventional and predictable, even in the midst of its “major” shocker (which I won’t spoil for you).

If you’re looking for a genuine thriller about a kidnapper, check out the oldie but goodie Along Came a Spider by James Patterson. Want something about a rich girls who you don’t hate, go for Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar.

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Audiobook Review – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Posted October 18, 2014 by Dani in Dani's Reviews / 0 Comments

Audiobook Review – Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Maxwell Caulfield, Rebecca Lowman
Published by Listening Library on September 10th 2013
Length: 12 hours and 48 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Attachments, Landline, Eleanor & Park


A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

“’No,’ Cath said, ‘Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.’”

I always know that I have loved a book when I don’t want to leave its universe. Rainbow Rowell has a gift for making her characters so real, but with Fangirl it was a new experience. Not only did the characters seem relatable, I wanted so desperately to be in the story right along with them. I wanted to befriend Cather when she was feeling lonely, or struggling with a new short story to write, or being downright crazy. I wanted to learn to be a cool girl from Reagan, and smack Wren when she was being awful. And Levi, *sigh*.

“To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”

The most frustrating part of Fangirl is that both the Simon Snow series and Carry On, Simon fan fiction used throughout DOESN’T EXIST. The fictional series is a coming of age tale in magical universe with wizards and vampires and quests to save…who knows what – like a perfect love child of Harry Potter and Vampire Academy. It’s a serious problem that I can’t read these books, because they sound like they were written exactly for me. I have to know what happens with Simon and Baz. I want to read the faux-published series, and I MUST read the fan fic by MagiCath.

“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”

This is my third Rainbow Rowell novel in as many months. It’s pretty safe to say she’s becoming one of my favorite contemporary authors. She reminds me just how much I can enjoy books that don’t happen in far off places, with regular folks, and that give me “all the feels”. If you are looking for some chick lit with substance and an ooey-gooey center, you have found it. Already exhausted Rowell’s four novels? I highly recommend checking out Sophie Kinsella or Emily Giffin.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit

Posted October 14, 2014 by Dani in Top Ten Tuesday / 9 Comments

No time to waste, let’s start our journey!

#10 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

I wanted to start and end with my two favorite pieces of literature. This was the first book I ever remember thinking, “Gosh, I wish I could go there, too.” Just imagining Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace makes me want to reach for my well-loved copy and go on a journey with them once again all around the universe.

#9 A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

I have always wanted to go to Maine because it was the home of my dear great-grandpa. Bill Bryson’s funny narrative just increased that desire. Comedy, nature and bear sightings all wrapped into one (very long) hike.

#8 The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Hey, Mars Colony guys, if you’re ever looking for a snarky, wannabe photographer and her giant dog to join your expedition, you know how to get a hold of me.

#7 Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen

I love Florida. It is home to some of my favorite people on Earth. But I’ve always liked beachy Florida, or lighthouse lookout Florida, or swim with dolphins Florida. Leave it to a crazy kayaker and man-eating crocodiles to make me want to see the Everglades.

#6 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

First question, will Jamie be there? If the answer is yes, I have no follow up questions; I will be booking my trip ASAP. If the answer is no, could it be arranged? If the answer is a final no, I guess I would settle for the rich history and culture, the landscapes even Photoshop couldn’t enhance, actual castles, those cute shaggy cows, and all the plaid.

#5 Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Tracking a mysterious sea creature in a spaceship-esque submarine not exciting enough for you? This book has the lost city of Atlantis. Of course I would love to see the infamous civilization and walk/swim(?) through its ruins.

#4 Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain by Jack Hitt

The thought of a pilgrimage has been in my head most of my adult life, but from a purely theoretical standpoint. Enter this book, and all of that changed. While my future walk won’t center on the divine, if I’m ever in the neighborhood, I would happily take a stroll down the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

#3 Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I know, I know. It’s an incredibly obvious choice, but stick with me. I could have picked Wild by Cheryl Strayed or Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes for a better emotional journey. EPL simply has three places for the price of one – and they’re all on my bucket list. Plus, I’ve always wanted to have a Julia Roberts moment.

#2 Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Aaah, already mentally packing my bags. Get me on the fastest flight out of here so I can see some dinosaurs. Yes, I might get mauled by a T-Rex. No place is perfect.

Drumroll please…My number one literary destination is:

#1 The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Seriously, when can I leave? I would be one kick-ass Hobbit. Sure, they have that pesky problem of the all-consuming evil that is Sauron, but the rolling hills of the Shire, the ethereal beauty of Rivendell and Lothlorien, the Misty Mountains all would be amazing vacation destinations. Let’s just say if there were ever a LOTR theme park opened (a la Wizarding World of Harry Potter), I would be tapping into my rainy day fund as quickly as humanly possible. Hogwarts, Winterfell, Narnia, you are in my heart, but that heart belongs solely to Middle Earth. Allow me to present my argument for the best place ever.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

I rest my case.

Tell us, if you could go anywhere you have read about in a book, where would you go?

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