January 31, 2012

Book Review: Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

Warning: This review might contain spoilers about books 1 and 2 in the River of Time Series. 

At First Sight: Finally learning to somewhat control their gift for time-travel, Gabi and Lia Bentarrini decided to rescue their father from his future death, and bring the whole family together back to Siena. Where once again, things have changed. 

And though Castello Forelli was lost to the Fiorentini, Gabi's beloved Marcello rose to a position of great power in Siena - becoming one of the Nine who rule the city. His joy is great at having Gabi, and he wants to make it forever, even if Gabi's parents and sister aren't entirely sold on the idea.

But all that gets put on hold when they receive word of Marcello's brother's impending death. Fortino has been suffering as a captive of Firenze for close to a year and his condition is quickly deteriorating; so Gabi convinces Marcello to try a very risky plan to rescue him. But the plan might proof to be more dangerous to Gabi's heart than she ever imagined, as she's once again pushed to Lord Greco. 

Greco who is almost as handsome as Marcello and who keeps sending her mixed signals, and who might prove to be the path of least resistance...

Second GlanceTorrent is another roller-coaster ride of adventure and danger that kept pushing the story forward at a breakneck speed, and I liked that. But I did reach a point where I thought, "Okay, why can't these people ever catch a break?". 

I did love seeing more of the family dynamics of the Betanrrini family and how much they loved their dad - in a way, he's a big driving force of the decisions they make. The romance between Marcello and Gabi was sweet and swoony, and that was another big plus. 

On the other hand, I had a bit of a trouble with the love-triangle that develops in this story because it's not really my thing and I had a hard time figuring out why one of the parties was so in love so quickly. And second, I wished they had explained more about the nature of the bond between some of the characters (I won't say more to avoid spoilers, but you'll understand once you read). 

Bottom Line: Torrent was a great conclusion to this story of Marcello and Gabi, and I loved spending time with them again. I only wish I had seen them together more than appart as it was the case. But, over all, Torrent was a lovely story about all types of love: between Marcello and Gabi, Gabi and her family, Marcello and his friends, and the love they all felt for Siena. 

This review is part of the River of Time Book Tour. To see the future and past tour stops, please check out The Teen {Book} Scene.

Lisa is hosting a Scavenger's Hunt among all the blogs in the tour, and she's giving away some fabulous prices - among them 3 Kindles. Check out her site for more details.

January 30, 2012

Movie Madness Challenge/Books So Far - January

Hello guys! I'm here to give a brief round up of the two only challenges I chose to accept this year. The first being:

Movies/Series Watched: 26

Favorites: Sherlock - Series 2, Easy A, Beauty and the Beast 3D
Least Liked: A Better Life (though I still thought it was pretty good).

If you're doing the Movie Madness Challenge you can head off to The Talking Teacup to link up your update. 

reading challenge
On the book department and my quest to read 200 books in a year?
Books Read: 16
Re reads: 5
YA: 12
Romance: 4
Contemporary: 6
Historical: 4

Well, that's me! How's everyone doing so far?

January 29, 2012

At the Movies: A Better Life

A Better Life tells the story of Carlos Galindo, a gardener in East L.A. and his son Luis. Carlos is an illegal immigrant that spends the majority of his time working, struggling to provide a better life for his son. For this, and even though he doesn't have a driver's license, Carlos decides to spend all his money buying a pick up truck, which will help him become his own boss rather than being at the mercy of other contractors. 

So it makes sense that his world begins to crumble when the truck is stolen and he's left without means to work or move. 

Meanwhile, Luis is struggling between his desire to become someone different to his own father and wether or not he should join one of the many gangs of East L.A. 

And even though they haven't seen eye-to-eye lately, Luis and Carlos make it their mission to find the truck, hoping that'll change their fates. 

A Better Life it's a fairy simple story of the struggles many immigrants go through once they cross the U.S. border trying to find a better opportunity that they had in their places of origin.

I went to see this mainly because I had heard it was pretty good, and because Mexican actor Demian Bichir got nominated to an Oscar for it. And I gotta say that I did like it but that it was slow at times and I struggled to find the heart of the movie. 

Plus, when it comes down to it, comparing movies about immigrants, I realized I liked 2007's Under the Same Moon a lot more. So, I give this movie a B. 

January 26, 2012

Book Review: Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

WARNING: This Review might contain Spoilers about Book 1: Waterfall.

At First Sight: Once again, Gabbi and Lia Bentarrini find themselves in 14th Century Italy, but this time they have brought their mother in tow.

After helping Siena on their perpetual war agains Florence and narrowly escaping an assassination attempt, Gabbi is back and even though she's not sure yet of what she wants to do next, she knows she wants to do it by Marcello's side. But, though Marecello's love is true, things have changed at Castello Forelli.

What for the girls felt like 10 minutes, it was close to 3 months at the Castello. Three months that saw Marcello's older brother Fortino restored to health and engaged to Marcello's erstwhile fiance Lady Romana Rossi. 

And while the city of Siena is happy to have it's heroines back, not everyone is thrilled at the girls's return, and soon they are thrown into even more danger than ever before unsure who is ally and who is a foe. 

Second Glance: Cascade picks up right after the end of Waterfall and it wastes no time getting into the thick of things, and the whole situation gets kicked up a notch with political intrigue and betrayals and the background the rivalry between these two cities.  

I really liked to see how the characters grew and I got to know them a bit more, how Lia starts to fall for their new surroundings and Lucca even though she was very reluctant about both at the beginning, also loved how their mother took everything in, and that she believes in her daughters, even if she does get distracted by the archeologist inside of her. 

The guys, Lucca and Marcello are everything a girl could want, in a very old fashioned way, and it was fun to see them struggle to understand Gabbi and Lia, and their 21st century notions.

There is even more adventure in this book than in the previous one, and I have to admit that I thought it was a bit too much of it. Danger after danger after danger, though I understand that's kind of how it worked way back in the day. 

Bottom Line: Though I liked Waterfall more, Cascade is a great continuation to the River of Time series and it does take you for quite a ride of adventure and romance. And I liked the twist at the end, it made sense for it to happen. 

January 24, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (23) - Bathwater by No Doubt

Tune In Tuesdays

 This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads and music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.

If there was a song that made me want to check out No Doubt was Bathwater. It wasn't Don't Speak, I actually kind of hate Don't Speak, to be true. But I love, Bathwater, I can't hel singing it whenever I hear it. It makes me happy and I seriously love the beat of it.

So, what song plays for you?

January 23, 2012

Book Review: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Five Flavors of Dumb
I love this cover! Its so Rock and Roll
At First Sight: Piper Vaughan isn't kicking off Senior year in the best possible way: even though she's a star student her little brother Finn keeps getting in trouble at school, her dad lost his job and her best friend moved from Seattle to San Francisco. And she just found out that her parents raided her college fund to pay for her baby sister's cochlear implant. And that's how she ends up making a deal with Dumb - the resident rock band of her school - to become their manager and get them a paid gig within the month, and they'll share equal parts of whatever money they make.

It was a desperate act, but Piper was a bit desperate and she's determined to make Dumb a success, even if everyone thinks it's crazy she wants to be the manager of a rock band since she's deaf.

As things at home get more strained, particularly with her Mom and Dad who don't seem to understand Piper's feelings now that Grace can hear - Piper focuses on the band. First enlisting her fellow Chess Club member Ed as a drummer, and then dealing with having Kallie Sims - the hottest girl of the school - joining the band as well.

For Piper, the clock is ticking and it's time to make it work. 

Second Glance: I can't believe I had Five Flavors of Dumb for a year and didn't read it. It makes me feel pretty dumb myself as I absolutely loved it. I liked Piper, she came off as very human - she's a good person but she's also capable of doing some underhanded things and acting bratty - and I really liked how she came to bond with Tash and Kallie - the girls of the band. I loved how her relationship with her younger brother Finn was handled, as well as the jealousy and love she feels toward Grace. 

The band's dynamics were awesome to see because it's such a living thing, the band, with shifting loyalties and craziness. And I thought Ed was just so cute. 

Plus, this is a very musical book, you can feel how every one of the characters feels about music - even Piper - and how they are brought together by this awesome thing that is bigger than they are.

Bottom Line: Five Flavors of Dumb is an absolutely amazing book, I loved it. I raced through it and I want to read it again already. It was also my first favorite book of the year!

Favorite Quote:
 “Well, I guess I don’t want to believe that this is just a stage, you know? That next month I’ll wake up and say, ‘That’s not me at all.’”

Cassie leaned forward like she was about to divulge a secret. “Honestly, one day you will wake up and say that. And no matter what godforsaken mess Kallie ends up with today, she will too. And so will Tash, and everyone else who comes in here. But you’re worrying about the wrong thing. Don’t worry about wanting to change; start worrying when you don’t feel like changing anymore. And in the meantime, enjoy every version of yourself you ever meet, because not everybody who discovers their true identity likes what they find.” - Piper and Cassie (Tash's mom)
starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

January 22, 2012

Book Review: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

At First Sight: One hot, summer day sisters Gabbi and Lia Bentarrini were bored, having been dragged to yet another excavation site by their archeologist mother, even though they weren't really allowed to touch anything. 

Deciding to do a little exploring on their own, Gabbi and Lia wander into one of the Etruscan caves her mother was studying... and by the time Gabbi gets out, she's no longer somewhere near 21st Century's Siena, instead Lia is gone and she walks right into a group of knights fighting each other. 

That's how she meets Sir Marcello Forelli, younger son of the Lord of Castello Forelli, where she's taken as a guest. Gabbi isn't sure what to make of the situation but she knows she's in the 14th Century, and that she must find her sister. 

But the 1300's Italy is anything but peaceful, as Florence and Siena battling for power, much as the Forellis are fighting their neighbors, making it that much harder for Gabbi to find her way back home.

Second Glance: Sorry for the short summary, I'm trying not to spoil things for anyone. 

I went into reading Waterfall knowing only two things about it: that Small @Small Review loved it, and that it had some time travel involved. And what I learned is that whenever Small tells me to read a book, I should just go ahead and do it, because she's generally right and I seriously loved this book too.

Gabbi's adventures in Italy were that awesome to read about, how she struggles between what would be expected from a well-to-do lady in the 14th century and the things she wants to (and knows she can) do. I loved that she could think fast, and used her common sense, and how much she loved her sister. 

And I loved seeing her with Marcello, his brother Fortino and his best friend Luca, how she develops different relationships with each of them and they come to respect her for different reasons. 

And I know I said I wanted to walk away from Christian Fiction for a while and that these books are technically considered CF, but you really don't feel it at all, even though there is a bit of faith woven into the story. 

Bottom Line: Waterfall is a delightful read, full of adventure and drama and romance. I found it impossible to put down and incredible entertaining to read. I can't wait to dig into Book Two: Cascade.

Favorite Quote: "There was only one way to play this. The superior, don’t-mess-with- me route." - Gabbi
starstarstarstarstarPersonal Favorite

January 20, 2012

Book Review: Beauty by Robin Mckinley

The Deal: Grace, Hope and Beauty are three sisters that lead a comfortable life in a seaside city where their father has a successful shipping business.

Beauty - who's real name is Honour but was bestowed the nickname at a young age and then turned out to be the least conventionally pretty of the three sisters (or so she thinks) - is the scholar of the three and  barely notices when Grace's suitor Robbie - a promising young captain - leaves on a journey that promises to bring him fortune, as she is much too occupied with her studies.

A few years later, their father's business takes a turn for the worse and Robbie is presumed dead, so the whole family leaves the city and journey to the woods, casting their luck with Hope's suitor Gervain, who is a blacksmith.

Far away from everything familiar, they start a new life, even if Beauty's father aged overnight after his fortune failed and Grace still pines away after Robbie,. Beauty and Hope keep their spirits up and soon they find themselves quite content in their new lives. Until a couple years later, when news from the city come saying that one of the ships has returned.

The girls' father makes the journey back to the city and  on his way back home he gets lost in the woods and finds a castle and end sup making a bargain with the Beast that lords over the castle: come back in a month - alone or with one of his daughters to take his place - or die.

Knowing she's the only one that can be spared from the house's work and oddly believing the Beast's promise that he won't harm her, Beauty decides to take her father's place. 

My Thoughts: I'm a sucker for all things Beauty and the Beast, it's one of my most beloved stories and story devices. I had heard a lot about McKinley's version - particularly from Heidi from YA Bibliophile - and I finally decided to try it out.

I loved it.

Even though it's a story that I know well and that I've read in many incarnations, this one felt fresh and it had a lovely feel of "old-times" though the actual settling of the story is never mentioned. I liked Beauty and how practical she was. I really liked the Beast.

And I even liked the secondary characters, particularly Hope and Grace and Gervain. In characterization, I think the story is a winner.

I had a two problems with Beauty, though. To start with, the settling is never mentioned but certain commonplace works of art and literature are - like Jane Austen's works or Shakespeare and several greeks - and when they were mentioned, it was a bit jarring because the story has an over all fantasy feel.  And secondly, the end was abrupt and I felt like I needed a little bit more, plus I would have liked a bit more explanation about how the curse worked.

January 19, 2012

Book Review: Waiting to Forget by Sheila Kelly Welch

The Deal: T. J. is waiting at the hospital. Waiting on news about his little sister Angela, who was rushed in a few hours before. His new adoptive parents - Marlene and Dan - told him to wait outside.

So, he's waiting, feeling a little forgotten, and remembering how everything came to be the way it is.

It had always been T.J,'s job to look after and take care of Angela, he remembers that. He remembers life with his mother and her boyfriends and trying to protect Angela then. And he remembers the foster homes that followed, and how now they are trying to adapt to their new family.

My Thoughts: Waiting to Forget was a surprising read. I guessed going in that it wasn't going to be a walk in the park and it wasn't. I admit that I struggled a little with the narrative since it went back and forth between the present and different points of the past. In the end, this worked well but for me it was hard to get into.

T.J.'s voice is both young and jaded, having gone though so many things in his short life, and I think that's the biggest asset of the book because it was very well done, but at the same time I struggled a bit because of the way the story is told.  

If you like unusual narrative styles, I think that this might be the book for your, but though I don't belong to that camp, I still found the book very engrossing. 

January 18, 2012

Stop S.O.P.A - Stop P.I.P.A - An outsider's perspective


When it comes to internet piracy, I try to stay out of it. All of it.

I tend to get very heated when discussing it with people, so I just don't do it as that's not the focus of my blog and I don't see the point of arguing with fanatics on either end. But S.O.P.A (Stop Online Piracy Act) and P.I.P.A (Protect the IP Act) worry me.

As you may know, I'm a blogger outside the US. A blogger in a country where English is not the mother language and where publishing is very nearly dead unless you're a crazy politician bent on world domination who decides to write a book, or a scandal prone actor... then, publishing is still alive for you. Otherwise if you're a fiction lover like me, you suffer. I suffered.

By the time I was 18, I was becoming quite bitter with the state of fiction in my country. I craved the written world and I had to make do with classics - that I love and still re-read but believe me when I tell you there are only so many times you can read Pride and Prejudice without going a little insane, and I don't mean read it in your life time, I mean read it in a year because that's the last book that has caught your interest in over two years since everything else is crazy politicians and scandalous actors.

Internet changed that, and it wasn't just online shopping either. It was the options, the learning what else was out there and, back in the day, the possibility to buy ebooks (sometimes straight from the publisher) without much trouble, before geographic restrictions started to drive me nuts and some sites refused to take your credit card if you didn't live in the US.*

It was, literally, the word at my fingertips.

A world that might well vanish if legislation like S.O.P.A or P.I.P.A. get passed because then people in the US - government and corporations - would have the power to close down the sites that I read, to simply block the IP address so I can't access anything. My access, the wonderful access that allowed me to make friends a world over and to share my thoughts and discover new things, would be gone.

Further more, S.O.P.A for example, is written to take control over any domain ending in ".com", ".net." and ".org", as well as I.P addresses generated by the American Registry of Internet Numbers, even though these could belong to to Canada or a bunch of other countries in the Caribbean. It would force sites that aren't in the US to conform to US law. And, because it's the US Government, they would very likely try to impose their laws on others countries with whom they hold commercial agreements - as we all know, this has happened before**.

Because I don't live in the U.S. I have little say over this - though I wouhd suffer the consequences severely - but if you do live in the US... look it up, get educated and do something.



* To be fair, with kindle and stuff, we are starting to get the same access to ebooks as we did before - outside the US - though it does come at a higher price.

** It's currently happening in Spain (link is in Spanish)

January 17, 2012

Tune in Tuesday 22 - Mercy by Duffy

Tune In Tuesdays

 This meme is hosted by Ginger at GReads and music. Each week you can post an old or new song so that it gains more interest! So head on over and link up.

I'm actually a big fan of Duffy, I love her songs and her voice has such a nice, old-fashioned quality to it. I always have at least one song of hers in my playlist and this morning, as I was going to work after I had to go to the hospital so they could draw blood and run some tests - and my arm was hurting, and yes I'm a big baby but they took THREE tubes. Of the big ones - this song totally lifted my mood.

So, what song plays for you?

January 16, 2012

In My Mailbox #4 - Over a Month in Books

Hello everyone!!
I'm coming to you again with a ton of books I've been getting, mostly thanks to NetGalley and some awesome peeps int he internet.

I really wanted to do a Vlog but when I realized the amount of books I decided to just hit you with a list. So here they are, most of them courtesy of NetGalley unless stated otherwise.

The Accidental Bride Denise Hunter
Head Over Heels by Jill Shavis
The Wedding Gift by Kathleen McKenna
Welcome Caller This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
One More Summer by Liz Flaherty
All I Want is You by Sherrill Bodine
A Tale of Two Proms by Cara Lockwood - Which I already REVIEWED and loved.
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Lady Awakened by Celia Grant - Thanks to Jane L from Dear Author, she and Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books were holding a giveaway of it in Twitter and I won.
Holiday Kisses - A lovely gift from Christine from The Happily Ever After
Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby - Gift from Kylie of The Talking Teacup
The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler - Gift from Kylie of The Talking Teacup
How to Dance With a Duke Manda Collins
Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters
First Date by Krista McGee
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergen
Cascade by Lisa T. Bergen
Torrent by Lisa T. Bergen (I need to read the whole trilogy in 10 days or less!)
Card Captor Sakura Vol 1 by CLAMP (I bought it in November and it finally came!)
Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
Fracture by Megan Miranda

As you see I got tons to read, so I better get to it!

January 14, 2012

As Seen on TV: Fall 2011/Spring 2012

As Seen on TV

Hello everyone! it has been a while since I posted anything TV related but with the new fall season well on it's way, I decided it was time to talk about the stuff currently on air.


Still Favorite: Bones
I've been so happy with the way the season is going, I think the show runners were very brave in bringing Brennan and Booth together and they were smart in still keeping the tension going between them, because, to be honest, that's more than half the fun of the show. I am sad that we are going to be saddled with a long hiatus following this week's episode - and a a shorter season due to Emily Deschanel's maternity leave - but we shall endure!

New Favorite: Revenge
It's deliciously soap-opera-y and so much fun to watch. It is a spin on the Count of Montecristo, which is one of my favorite stories ever. And I also love that it's such a female-centric show, I love seeing Emily VanCamp and Madeline Stowe battle each other out every week. And I admit I got a soft spot for Nolan who is so smart, evilish and kind of pathetic but likable, all at once. 

In the Bubble: Supernatural.
Last season was a bust and this season was looking like it was finally picking up but in the end it has turned out to be quite irregular. There have been some truly amazing episodes - like the winter finale! - but others have just felt flat (so much that I can't even remember what they were about) and the one with the wedding was quite disappointing and even a little offensive to the fandom. I still believe Dean and Sam are great and I love them as the Winchester Boys, but the show's writers need to cut back the campy  gimmicks ASAP and actually focus on a story to tell. 


Still a Favorite: The Good Wife
I think this show continues to improve with each season, there are some episodes I enjoy more than others but I'm still loving the direction the show is taking. I like seeing how Alicia is changing and how the show is handling the stuff. I'm old enough to remember the hey-day of the Practice and even Ally McBeal (before it went pathetic on it's last couple of seasons) and I missed seeing a good lawyer-y show on TV until the Good Wife came along.

New Favorite: Once Upon a Time
I love fairy tales and I love the concept of this series, and the dual narrative between Fairy Tale Land and the present day. Again, some episodes have more punch than others but I love the characters (both when I like them and when I love to hate them), and the winter finale last December left me squealing and gutted and it was awesome. My only problem is that from a story-telling point of view, I wonder how they are going to stretch the taffy to make it last.

On the Bubble: Glee
I hated last season, I think I liked 1 or maybe 2 episodes and the number of musical numbers I liked was down, like 80% regarding season one. Season 3 seems to be picking up though I'm frankly growing tired of hearing Lea Michel sing, I'm ready for something fresh and new, and I like that they have been showcasing some of the other voices, but sometimes Glee feels like the show that goes nowhere.

ThreeI don't know what is it but I gave up around the same time I gave up on the books. I always thought the original premise of the first four books was awesome and it made sense, then it went up to eight books and it was stretching the taffy but ok, it still worked... and then it went up to, I believe, 10 books and I just lost interest. Something like that happened with the show too. They just had to keep stretching the taffy, which is understandable since they covered most of book one in the first chapter, but, still. The only think I miss is Emily's Major Hot Dad. 


Still a Favorite: Big Bang Theory
It makes me laugh, that's the bottom line that's the most important thing. Plus, is a show that keeps moving forward even though it's premise is fairly simple, but it keeps evolving and I've actually  loved the inclusion of more female characters - Bernadette and Amy - who help balance the numbers. I loved the dynamics when it was just Penny and the four guys, and I love them all the same now.

New Favorite!3A 2 Broke Girls
Sometimes I think it's too raunchy and a bit lewd, but it's funny and I like seeing Max and Caroline interacting together and trying to sort of find their way. The show can be a little heavy on cultural cliches and stereotyping and yeah, that can be a little too much, but I usually get a couple of good laughs out of it, so I'm willing to give the show some time to evolve.

On the Bubble: New Girl
I started watching this with high hopes, and for the most part liked it, but sometimes it was too quirky and cutesy for my liking (and I'm a person who loves the cutesy stuff!), so I found myself not watching the episodes as they came out and watching them a few weeks later. I've been hearing exciting casting news though, so I hope my interest goes up again.


Still a Favorite: Modern Family
I love it. It's funny, you can watching with your whole family and everyone finds something to laugh about and there have been times when my stomach has actually been aching because I've laughed so much. It's family comedy at it's best.

New Favorite: Switched at Birth
I thought the first couple of episodes were a bit slow, but the show grew on me. It started as a summer series but due to popular demand it turned into an over-sized first season and I find that I like it more the more I watch it. And I like how they are portraying the struggles these two families are going through to blend together. 

On the Bubble: Suburgatory
I watch a few episodes here and there, and while sometimes I enjoy it a lot, other times I just don't find it funny. They recently started airing it on cable in my country so I'm giving it another try as I see that the later episodes were funnier, plus, I do like the tone of the show. 

One episode was enough. For me the problem wasn't that it was offensive - I'm OK with that, I mean I like 2 Broke Girls - but that it wasn't even funny, just a bit pathetic all around.

Well that's me, what I've been watching.What about you guys? Any shows I'm missing on?