Friday, December 31, 2010

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Halo (Halo, #1)*3.5 stars*

First let me say... I'm totally in love with the cover of this book.  How gorgeous is that?

I really enjoyed reading this book...but yet there were several things that kept me from giving it 4 stars.

I'll start first with my complaints:

-It was waaaaaaaaay too long. It has what I call "Beautiful Creatures syndrome" in that it was a good story could have been told in 100 less pages.

-Bethany did no strike me as divine. She had far too many flaws and was far to naive for me too really buy in to the fact that she was an angel.

-Would The Archangel Gabriel really be sent to some podunk town? Wouldn't he be put to better use elsewhere where there are major issues? Maybe not... I don't pretend to be an expert on Christianity or angels.  That was just my take.

-As much as I thought Xavier was adorable, I didn't really feel the intensity of his relationship with Bethany. Something was missing for me. It was cute, but I didn't feel the depth. It felt like a typical high school romance to me.

I know that sounds like a long list of whiny complaints, so let me assure you that I did enjoy the book. It was an intriguing story with types characters that I haven't read a whole lot about. It was also really interesting to hear the descriptions of heaven, hell and angels. I actually found that part fascinating and it's largely what captured my attention in the beginning. I read through it fairly quickly given that it's pushing 500 pages (about 150 longer than my average book lately) and I look forward to the next installment. The epilogue leaves a little cliffhanger that makes the reader, or at least made me anxious to see what happens next and what's in store for these characters.

All-in-all, I recommend this book to all fans of paranormal romance. A cute read.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010... as read by me

If I finish my current novel Halo, by Alexandra Adornetto, by midnight tomorrow (which I fully intend to do -hooray for vacation) my book count for the year will be at 36, not including the 13.5 audiobooks I've finished.  Although this isn't the huge totals that some of my other book nerdy friends will close the year with, I'm happy with it considering the amount of reading and work I had for school over the course three full-time semesters. 

I thought I'd round out 2010 much the same as last year... with a listing of my favorite and least favorite books of the year.

2010 has been a really good reading year.  Eight new 5 star reads, two new 5 star audiobooks and re-reads of some old favorites like Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Harry Potter (I'm currently in the middle of Half Blood Prince on audio).  Plus, I have a hella-lot of 4 star reads.  I've not really disliked anything I've read this year and I feel very lucky for that.  For a full listing of 2010 reads click here (or here for my audio list).

Favorites (5 stars) of 2010
in order read

The Dark Divine - Bree Despain

Sisters Red (Sisters Red, #1)

Sisters Red - Jackson Pearce

In the Time of the Butterflies

The Summer of Skinny Dipping (Summer, #1)

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

The Sky Is Everywhere

The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson

How I Live Now

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux

To Kill a Mockingbird

Disappointments (2 stars) of 2010

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)

Paranormalcy - Kiersten White

I Just Want You to Know: Letters to My Kids on Love, Faith, and Family

I Just Want You To Know - Kate Gosselin

The Line (Line #1) 

The Line - Teri Hall

So... on to 2011.  With the sequels to The Dark Divine, Sisters Red, Hex Hall and Linger on the pile for this year, I'm really looking forward to it.  Now, to dig into the pile of gorgeous books I received for Christmas.

Happy New Year everyone!!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Hollow (Sign of Seven Trilogy - Book 2 ) by Nora Roberts

*3.5 stars*

I didn't think I really cared about Fox and Layla's story... boy was I wrong. I just wanted to nom Fox the entire time I was reading, and Layla really impressed me. She seemed to be quite the spineless pushover in the first book, but came through pretty strong when she needed to in this installment.

Again, I found myself struggling with just how "out there" the paranormal aspects were. I'm honestly having a a little difficulty keeping up with what's going on in terms of Twisse (sp?), Hester... and that crew. I'm hoping that it will all come together in the final book.

I LOVED the humour in this story. Especially between Fox and Layla and his family. The "this is excellent news" scene with Sage in the office cracked me up.

I've become quite attached to these characters and am DYING to find out what will happen with Gage and Cybil. The tension between those two is killing me and will hopefully make for some steamy reading.

Can't wait to finish off the series!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Christmas

It's my absolute favorite time of the year.  The decorations, the food, the gifts, the music.... the traditions. I'm rarely happier than I am around Christmas.  This year brings 3 family dinners and 1 family brunch... with the possibility of 1 more dinner if my Dad decides to visit next week... and I'm going to enjoy every crazy, chaotic moment.

I hope everyone has a wonderful (and safe) holiday season and enjoys lots of time relaxing and with family and friends. Enjoy!  -xxoo

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I think I'm in love

Well hello Jarrod Gorbel... I love you.  Just so you know.

When it comes to music, I like what I like. Sometimes it's some little local band, sometimes it's top 40, sometimes it's country, sometimes it's classic rock..... I just love music.  If it makes me think, dance, cry... if it incites some kind of reaction from me, I like it.  That's what it's all about.  There's nothing better to me than that song that comes along every once in a while that I just can't get enough of, and I found a new one today.  Lucky for me it's from an artist that I wasn't familiar with before now.  This is especially exciting because it opens up a whole slew of possibilities for future can'tgetenoughofthissong candidates.

Annnnd... special bonus?  Jarrod is super easy to look at in additional to his killer abilities as a musician.  I'm kind of mesmerized by him.

Do yourself a favor and check these songs out.... start w/ 10 Years Older because it's INCREDIBLE!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I suck... taking pictures.  Well, I suck at a lot of other stuff too, but especially at taking pictures.  This has not always been a problem for me, but it seems to be getting worse lately.

Bub and I took off to Niagara Falls for the weekend to celebrate our 10th anniversary and I didn't take a single picture of either of us.  There were many picture worthy, Ishouldwanttocapturethismemory moments.... but I failed to remove the camera from my purse even once with the exception of 1 shot of Santa Claus in the parade we stumbled upon. And honestly... why did I want a picture of Santa?

I also snapped a pic of this cute guy with my phone who was watching the parade with his people:

He was very proud of his sweater (and if you can't tell.. that's a little stuffed snowman on his back).  Too cute!

Bub and I headed down on Friday night, making pretty decent time, arrived to check-in to the hotel, have a beer and then head out to Mick and Angelo's- hub's fave restaurant and a Niagara Falls night # 1 tradition- for dinner.  It was to die for as always (although I'd HATE to see the calorie count on the calzone that I get).  We walked down Cliffton Hill to see the falls and watch the fireworks and then strolled around a little before stopping for ice cream (yeah... not a good idea in December in Ontario) and then headed back to the hotel where I spent the rest of the night in the jacuzzi.

Saturday was spent first at the breakfast buffet, then outlet mall shopping, a drive through wine country (seriously... I want 90% of the houses that we drove past... gorgeous!) and then strolling through and shopping in Niagara on the Lake.  It's such a quaint little village and was so cute all done up for Christmas.  We happened to be there for their Santa Claus Parade, which was the best I've seen in a long time... great marching bands and drumlines!

We headed back into Niagara, stopped on the way for a late lunch and then spent the afternoon in the jacuzzi back at the hotel.  After switching rooms because we had no more hot water we got ready for dinner at Canyon Creek overlooking the falls.  It was an incredible meal with a great view and not terribly priced.  We spent the night planning our fantasy dream house.  Mine included a huge great room with a big fireplace, a full library, a hot tub, stables and horses, a seperate family room for the television.... Bub's included basketball and tennis courts, both an indoor and outdoor pool, a hot tub and a theatre room.  It was fun to dream a little.

We had every intention to go skating at "Rink on the Brink" which is an outdoor rink right at the falls, but when we went back to change, I got in the tub and that was it.... by 10pm I was out cold in the kingsize bed!

Sunday we left early and got Timmy's for breakfast on the road because some nasty weather was supposed to come in.  When we got back, we ended up spending the day with my Dad who was coming through town on business (he lives 13+ hours away and I haven't seen him since my Aunt was sick last winter).  So it was a really nice surprise and a great way to round of the weekend. 

I wanted to spend tonight picking up my last 2 Christmas gifts and then completing my wrapping... but the laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping that didn't get done this weekend can't wait.  We have no food and we'll have nothing to wear if I don't do a load or 2.  So that's what I'll be up to tonight.  However, it will be nice to be at home "puttering" around with the dogs rather than at school like I would usually be on a Monday night.  Maybe I'll even get a little bit of reading in??
Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

10 Years of Goofy Love

On this exact day 10 years ago, sometime around 7:30 pm if memory serves me correctly, on ICQ (remember ICQ?? "uh oh!") a boy who I'd been kissing and drinking hot chocolate with after school for about 2 weeks asked me if I would be his girlfriend officially.  And I said yes.  Little did I know that 10 years later, I would own a house and car, have 2 dogs, 3 nieces and 3 nephews and be 4 years deep into a silly, fun and exciting marriage with that same boy.

Honestly, if the average Joe could see into our house on a normal night when it's just us and the dogs, they'd probably think we were crazy.  We dance and goof around and play fight and call eachother names..... and just laugh together. A lot.  We've gone through some stuff in the last 10 years, but he's really my best friend and I'm so lucky to be able to go home at night and unload a share of my troubles on him.   

I can't believe that it was December 7th 2000, way back when I was in the 10th grade, that it all began. And now here we are on December 7th 2010 and I'll be going home to that same boy... probably not kissing him tonight cuz' he's sick...  but definitely celebrating a decade of the most goofy love most people will ever see.

Oh! and look what was waiting for me when I got up this morning......

A (giant) homemade card to add the collection I have which includes 1 for every month of our first year together and every year since then.

*sorry for the crappy quality- my BB camera sucks*

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Oh how I wanted to fall in love with this book. I wanted to open it and get sucked in and finish it in a sitting and want to talk about it for ages. But, I just didn't. I totally thought it would be another one of those Hex Hall-like surprises where I think "meh... I might as well see what the fuss is about" and then finishing with "oh my god, I loved this book, it was just so much fun!", but it wasn't.

Maybe I shouldn't have gone in with that level of expectation. Maybe it was just "too fantasy" for me with the souls and the glowing and the fairy paths.... I really don't know. But whatever it was, I finished this book feeling pretty blah about it (blah = very academic, critical literary analysis term).

I think what bothered me most was that it was almost as if White was trying really hard to be anti-stereotypical-paranormal-YA. I found it obvious in a lot of places. I'm all for trying to bring something fresh and new, but not when it's so obvious that you're working so hard to do it. It felt... forced, and it kind of annoyed me.

I also finished it thinking that I was glad it was all wrapped up, and then thought "huh?... I don't really understand what happened". Maybe I missed something or maybe you're supposed to be left in the dark for the sequel (and you know how I feel about series books that leave you confused... confused is NOT the same thing as cliffhanger)... but either way I was no clearer on Vivian, Reth, Lend or Evie's full stories by the time I finished. I feel like I missed a chapter that did a lot of explaining or something.

Ok- enough of the negative. What did I like? Um... LEND! What a cutie and very believable. Regardless of what he was, I easily bought into him as a teen.

I seem to be in the minority on my opinion of this book so I won't discourage others, especially fans of paranormal YA, from reading it. I know it's right up some people's alley and I think White has done a great job writing it in such a way that it's "safe" for young readers.  It just wasn't for me and I won't be continuing with the series.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I admit, I may be slightly biased when it comes to this Christmas classic. My father had a dramatized version on vinyl that we used to listen to when I was growing up (something I believe he had listened to when he was a child). We'd turn the lights off, but for the Christmas tree, and sip hot chocolate and listen to the spooky story. I remember being quite scared at certain points but I loved it... and still do.

What can I say about this story? It's a perfect Christmas lesson and a perfect depiction of the joy that Christmas can bring. I love everything about the Christmas Season, so Scrooge's turnaround at that time of the year is particularly special to me.

I don't have much more to say about this book except that if you haven't read it, you should. It's one of those classics that everyone should experience and enjoy for themselves. And then rent the movie or a dramatized audio book sometime around the holiday season. The newest animated version with Jim Carrey is great... but nothing beats the creepy old black and white original.

They're definitely good entertainment while telling a wonderful story.  Great read!