Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Sugar Daddy
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Genre: Contemporary Woman’s Fiction
Source: Library
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (March 6, 2007)
Rating: 4 out of 5

My Thoughts:
I avoided this book for some time now because it’s contemporary Woman’s fiction and all the other Lisa Kleypas books I’ve read have been historical romances. I loved them and I didn’t want to be disappointment even a little as Kleypas is my favorite romance author. But I shouldn’t have worried. I loved Sugar Daddy although I wish the name of the book was different.

Liberty Jones moves to a small town, Welcome in Texas, with her mother and her mothers new boyfriend. They move in a trailer park where she makes new friends including one particular guy called Hardy. Liberty is 14 and Hardy is 17 at that time. They are attracted to each other right from the beginning. But Hardy has big dreams, he wants to escape the dreary life of the small town and he doesn’t want anyone to hold him down, least of all a serious girlfriend. So off he goes but Liberty is unable to forget him, she tries to match every guy she meets with Hardy and all of them fall short.

Meanwhile, Liberty’s mom, who has had her fair share of boyfriends gives birth to a baby girl, Corrington. Liberty ends up taking care of her most of the time. In a way she is more of a mother to her than a sister. Later in her life she meets Churchill, a rich old man, whom she develops a friendship with and eventually gets involved with his eldest son Gage. And then Hardy comes back in her life. There is a lot more to the basic story but I won’t tell you all even though it’s there at the back of the book. Suffice to say it’s all good.

The first half of the book is like a Young Adult novel, a very good one at that. Kleypas explores the mother daughter relationship, the struggles of a mother trying to raise a daughter alone and a daughter who accepts responsibilities way beyond her age. Liberty makes a wonderful heroine, sweet, charming, intelligent, hardworking, at times too perfect but I loved her anyway. Hardy and Gage are excellent heroes, the kind that are in romances. I loved Hardy more because he is the one we come to know first.

Although this is woman’s fiction, Lisa Kleypas has been a romance author for so long that I guess she could not help but include a few cliché’s of the romance genre in Sugar Daddy. But I’m not complaining, I love romances so it only made me happy. Sugar Daddy gave me immense satisfaction, one that comes with loving the book more than you expected.

The Long Way Home by Andrew Klavan

Title: The Long Way Home (The Homelanders Book Two)
Author: Andrew Klavan
Genre: YA thriller
Hardcover: 352 pages
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5

My Thoughts:
I’ve had this book for some time now but what kept me from reading it was that it was the second book in the Homelanders Series. So I did what I usually do when faced with this dilemma. I read the spoilers reviews of the first book on Amazon after checking if the library had the first book. I was very happy to know that not many people were satisfied with the first book since it left a lot of questions unanswered. It seemed like the first book was kind of a build up.

So I jumped into the second book and was hooked right from page 1. In the first book ‘The Last thing I Remember’, a high school student Charlie West went to bed as an ordinary guy and woke up to find out that the police as well as the bad guys are after him. A year has passed by and Charlie doesn’t remember any of it.

********spoilers for those who haven’t read the first book**********
I didn’t really know how much he found out about himself in the first book but it didn’t matter because I didn’t feel like I missed a lot. I think it was because the author covered the gaps successfully. When this book opens Charlie is surrounded by the bad guys, supposedly the terrorists who want to destroy America by recruiting Americans who are against the country. After escaping from them and then later the police, Charlie goes to his town Spring Field to find out the truth. That is where we learn about his friends, his school and his teachers and what could have gone wrong. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire book which was also a very fast read.

********end of spoilers**********

What I didn’t understand was the terrorists role in all this. They were always in the background and the reasons were not really enough for me to believe that they were a danger to Charlie. Charlie was too good a kid which could actually work well since this is a YA novel. Charlie could be a good role model. Also there are absolutely no bad words. Even though it’s an adventure involving terrorists and a murder, it is a very clean book. At times I found the language very simple and forced. It could be because this is the first YA series that the author has written. But he is the recipient of 2 Edgar awards, so what do I know.

Anyway, recommended for YA lovers and those who love adventure and mysteries.

Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper

Title: Dispatches from the Edge
Author: Anderson Cooper
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (May 23, 2006)
Source: Library
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

My thoughts:
I love reading books on War Correspondence but sadly out of all I’ve read I’ve only liked two. But Dispatches from the Edge I loved. I had expected to like it but I wasn’t prepared to like it so much.

Anderson Cooper describes his journey, dispatches rather from developing and third world countries. The first section describes the cyclone that hit Srilanka and many other countries a few years back. Having been to Srilanka recently, I could picture the small towns and the people and it was very painful to read about the destruction of life and property.

The middle section is more a mix of his experiences in war-torn places like parts of Russia, Iraq and Africa. At times there are alternate chapters on the same places but in different times. I guess he wanted to contrast or something but to me that section was most confusing because even though it describes the same place the situation was somewhat different, at least politically. It was difficult to just switch between times.

The last section is on hurricane Katrina. He was in the midst of the hurricane then and his experiences were chilling. And because it was his own country, he was more emotionally involved which reflected in the writing.

What I loved most about the book was that Anderson Cooper didn’t hold back. He let the readers know what his state of mind was then. He described how his father’s death affected his and his brother’s life. He kept running away from reality instead of facing his grief and loss. His brothers suicide was another tragedy that made him runaway from his emotions. He describes his need for always being in crisis and how it was unable for him to adjust to normal life.

Although this book is based on difficult subjects, it really is very easy to read. Highly recommended.

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Title: Prophecy of the Sisters
Author: Michelle Zink
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (August 1, 2009)
Genre: Young Adult (Fantasy)
Source: Library
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

My thoughts:
I was excited when I picked up this book from the library because it had been on my Wishlist for some time. I was instantly drawn to the World of Lia and Alice in Birchwood. When the book opens, 16 year old twins Lia and Alice and 10 yr old Henry are at their fathers funeral. Their father dies a strange and sudden death leaving them in the care of their Aunt Virginia.

Soon Lia sees a mark on her wrist, a circle with a snake coiling around it and she struggles to make sense of it. Then she learns of an old prophecy, a prophecy that places 2 sisters on the opposite sides, one evil and the other good. She realizes that there is something sinister at work and that this time she and her sister Alice are at the opposite sides.

I loved the story, I loved the idea of 2 sisters against each other and I loved the Gothic atmosphere in Prophecy of the Sisters. I was engrossed in the book for the first 200 pages and could not put it down. But…yes, I’m sad there is a but, the story got too complicated at times. Lia is trying to understand the prophecy and her place in it for almost the entire book. I was waiting for the action to start, but that was not to happen in this book.

Because most of you know by now, there is a sequel to the book called ‘The Guardian of the Gate’. I was hoping there would be some conclusion, or at least a part of action that would be over and done with in this book. Alas, that was not to be. It just worries me that I will forget a lot from this book before I can get hold of the next one. The book is from Lia’s point of view. The other characters interested me more than Lia. I would have loved to have a first person account from Alice and possibly a little from Henry. Those were the characters I found most interesting.

Nonetheless I would definitely recommend this book to YA and fantasy lovers and begin stalking the library for the second book.

Swallow by Tonya Plank

Title: Swallow
Author: Tonya Plank
Paperback: 402 pages
Publisher: Dark Swan Press (December 11, 2009)
Genre: Fiction
Source: Author
Set in: New York
Rating: 4 out of 5

My thoughts:
When I read the book synopsis, I thought this would be a serious book since it deals with a psychological disorder called Globus Sensate where Sophie feels like something in stuck in the throat as a result of which he/she may find trouble eating or in extreme cases- breathing.

So when I opened the first page I was prepared for a sad saga. But Swallow is far from sad. It’s a look into the life of a New York lawyer (intern) who seems to be awkward, lacks confidence and generally looks down upon herself. Sophie Hegel is working as an intern in a New York firm acting as a criminal appeals attorney. I obviously had no idea that there are attorney’s just for appealing cases. But I did get a lot of information about it from this book.

Sophie seemingly has everything. A hot-shot lawyer for a boyfriend-Stephen, a fabulous New York apartment which she lives in with her Stephen and a job as an intern which could possibly turn into a permanent one.
But as a reader you learn from the very first chapter that Sophie had self-worth issues. Coming from a small town in Arizona, Sophie never feels like she completely belongs and is not comfortable with people she thinks are more successful and more sophisticated than her.

Things start going wrong when Sophie discovers that she has problem swallowing even simple things, including drinks. After confirming that she has no physical problems she is hoping to find answers from her psychiatrist. This book is not about a disease. It’s about Sophie’s struggles, not only with her self-issues but also with her relationships- her mother, her sister who has 3 children out of wedlock and her father who makes pornographic movies.

As I said I expected this book to be dark and serious but it actually reads like a chick-lit or a light novel, which was a welcome change. In spite of this, the author never undermined Sophie’s problem or made light of it which I really liked. Sophie is a very likable character most of the time and although you get a good glimpse into Sophie’s character, I wish some of the other characters were explored in little more detail, like Stephen or her father, whom I really disliked and was intrigued by at the same time. At times I thought the book was not moving at all, especially in the middle. But it really picked up pace for the last 100 pages which was nice.

Would I recommend Swallow? Yes, definitely. I found it very entertaining. But if you expect to find more details about the psychological disorder, you’ll be disappointed. Go into it expected a light hearted novel and you’ll enjoy yourself. I would even go as far as calling it a Beach read.

Oh and by the way, do you know that the author Tonya Plank is a dancer? I find that really cool.

Awards:
Gold Medal, 2010 Living Now Book Awards * Gold Medal, 2010 Independent Publisher Awards * Finalist, ForeWord Book of the Year Awards * Finalist, National Indie Excellence Awards * Kindle Top 10 Best Seller, Legal Fiction / Anxiety Disorders

And Then I Found Out The Truth by Jennifer Sturman

Title: And Then I Found Out The Truth
Author: Jennifer Sturman
Genre: Young Adult
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Point; 1 edition (July 1, 2010)
Source: Publicist
Rating: 4 out of 5

My Thoughts:
I loved the first book in this 2 book series so when presented I grabbed the opportunity to review the next book. Besides I was dying to know what happened after ‘And Then Everything Unraveled‘.

In the first book, Delia’s mother goes missing and is declared dead. Delia has to move places and go stay with her aunts in New York where she also meets Adam. Adam, other than being her love interest, helps Delia to find out more about her mother. And Then I Found Out The Truth is a continuation and needless to say it contains spoilers. You can try reading the second book without reading the first but I really wouldn’t suggest it.

So if you haven’t read the first book, this review contains spoliers. Skip to the end to know what I think of this book.

**********spoilers begin*****************

The first book ends where Delia finds out that her mother is not dead but is hiding somewhere in South America. In the second book she finds out the reason and the corporation involved in it. She and Quinn try to find out answers and although Delia does get sidetracked by Quinn and her friend (she is after all her teenager), she does get on track eventually. Besides, it gives the reader more to enjoy and laugh about.

**********spoilers end*******************

This book was as enjoyable as the first and as much fun. I was so happy to finally get all the answers. Even though this is a mystery involving Oil drilling, it does not get into the details. It is just a very happy and feel good book like the first one. The only thing I wished was this was one book instead of two. I really don’t see the reason for splitting the two books since both are pretty small. I hope in the future this book is offered as a two-in-one promotional pack or something like that.

On the whole, if you want a fun and light book to go to, something to lift your mood, this book is just for you. I can’t wait to see what Jennifer Sturman comes up with next.

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Title: Evermore
Author: Alyson Noel
Genre: Young Adult (Fantasy)
Source: Personal Library
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin; 1 edition (February 3, 2009)
Rating: 3 out of 5

My thoughts:
16 year old Ever has to change her school, her town and go live with her aunt when her parents and her 12 year old sister die in a car accident. After the accident, Ever starts seeing dead people and read others thought. In short, she is a psychic. I think the term psychic was used very liberally here, Ever can do so much more than a psychic can. She and talk to her dead sister. Anyway, in her new school she meets the mysterious Damein.

I have mixed feelings for this book. On one hand I cannot stop comparing the book to Twilight. I felt as if the author read Twilight and thought I could possibly write a similar book and try to eliminate the problems some people have with Twilight. One for e.g how dangerous Edward was and how many people thought Bella was foolish to fall so deeply in love so quickly. There are so many other things that are similar to Twilight but I will not mention them here since they could spoil the story.

The thing is, Alyson Noel is a good writer, she knows how to keep the reader glued to the page and keep turning the pages. But the fact that it was so similar to Twilight put me off a little bit. I loved Twilight but I don’t want to read another version of it no matter how good it is. There is something to be said about originality.

The part I liked best was her equation with her dead sister. I also liked the ending, its just enough to end the first book and leave enough scope for a second. I will definitely be reading the next book, Blue Moon, which I hope I’ll like better.

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock and Key
Author: Sarah Dessen (blog)
Genre: Fiction-Young Adult
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile; First Printing, First Edition edition (April 22, 2008)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

My thoughts:
Ruby Cooper is a 18 year old teenager who shoulders more burden than she should at such a young age. Her mother is an irresponsible women who cares more about herself than Ruby.  Ruby has grown up taking care of herself and moving homes and schools according to the shim and fancies of her mother. One day, her mother disappears and she is left alone at the run down yellow house. Ruby manages on her own while she can for about 2 months until her landlords find her living alone in the house and turn her over to the social services.

Thats when her elder sister, who had left home and never come back, takes her in. She is now married to a guy called Jamie and has a huge house and a good life. Everything she had always wanted. But for Ruby, she is a stranger. After not knowing anything about her sisters whereabouts, now being in her house at her mercy was something that was overwhelming for Ruby. As she decides what to do next and as her life is being turned upside down, she meets a guy called Nate, a neighbor.

Having heard so much about Sarah Dessen I had very high expectations. I started Lock and Key, read a 100 pages, thought the pace was very slow and was still wondering what is so great about Sarah Dessen when ‘Baam’, I was hit by her writing powers. There is no other way to describe it. She explores a lot of themes that many YA novels do, relationships, family, responsibilities, grief but she does it so well. I cried so much at one point that I had to lock myself in the bathroom so that nobody sees me crying over a book.

Sarah Dessen writes characters that grow on you, be it Ruby, Jamie, her sister Cora and even the pet dog Roscoe. Initially I was disappointed in Nate as he seemed like any other YA novel hero. But as the story progressed, and the layers peel off, we get to know things that make him different.

Lock and Key is about many things-finding the meaning of family, of grief, of being there for someone you love even when all you can do is just be there, of accepting help when needed, and of believing in yourself and the power of changing your destiny.

Here are some of the sentences from the book:

But wasn’t that always the way. It’s never something huge that changes everything, but instead the tiniest of details, irrevocably tweaking the balance of the universe while you’re busy focusing on the big picture

It’s a lot easier to be lost than found. It’s the reason we’re always searching and rarely discovered–so many locks not enough keys.

We can’t expect everybody to be there for us, all at once. So it’s a lucky thing that really, all you need is someone.

Family isn’t something that’s supposed to be static, or set. People marry in, divorce out. They’re born, they die. It’s always evolving, turning into something else.

This is exactly what I wanted, as commitments had never really been my thing. And it wasn’t like it was hard, either. The only trick was never giving more than you were willing to lose.

If you didn’t always have to choose between turning away for good or rushing in deeper. In the moments that it really counts, maybe it’s enough – more than enough, even – just to be there.

What can I say? I’m a new fan. I have ‘Just Listen’ by Sarah Dessen so I have one more book to look forward to. If you love YA and haven’t read Sarah Dessen, you seriously don’t know what you’re missing.

Once and Always by Judith McNaught

Title: Once and Always
Author: Judith McNaught
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Pocket (September 20, 1990)
Source: Personal Library
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

My thoughts:
I had heard a lot about this author but I never really remembered reading anything by her. There was a time when I used to devour one romance novel a day, so it might be possible that I have read one of her books. Anyway, this one sounded good. I have to say the summary at the back is kind of misleading.

Victoria and her sister Dorothy are orphaned at he age of 18 and 17 respectively when their parents die in an accident (Horse carriage). Having no one else to look after them their doctor finds out that their mother was royalty, daughter of a countess. So he sends them from America to England to their cousins.

The cousins turn out to be Charles who is an elderly Duke and Jason who is a young and troubled Marquess. Charles wants Victoria and Jason to get married but they both hate each other at sight. Jason does not want another women in his life after his ex wife deceived him and Victoria does not want an arrogant and rude man as her husband, besides

she already has a man called Andrew back home. She is sure he will be coming to get her as soon as he returns home and discovers she is gone.

The story basically revolves around these two. I loved her writing style and I do believe I have found another favorite Romance writer. The book could have been reduced in length at least by 100 pages though. Victoria was a lovely, vivacious, lively character and although I loved her she was almost too good to be true. Jason was a very nicely fleshed out character and I could very well understand why he behaved the way he did.

I have 2 things I would like to mention here though.

Firstly I was very sad that the author decided to make use of the stereotypical and ignorant descriptions of the Indians. She describes them as ragged beggars. I mean come on. As one reviewer on Amazon puts it perfectly

Throughout generations and even now the dominant religion in India has been Hinduism. So why were the “poverty stricken dirty Indians” dragged into the sadistic torture of a white British(who by the way unjustly occupied India during that era and tortured the rightful citizen and looted the country) Christian boy?

She also mentions that India is always hot. This is something I have read in so many novels and I thought I should really mention something this time. The author is writing about Delhi and yes, India is a tropical country and it is hot. But it is not always hot, in fact Delhi has very severe winters. I wish the authors could check the facts first.

Also, there is a tone in the novel that suggest that Americans are better than the British and although one can argue the fact by saying that the hero and her Uncle are British, they seem to be the exception. Overall I found it a little offending even though I am not British. I don’t know if I’m being too sensitive here, but if you’ve read this book ad you’re not an American, you could let me know.

In spite of my complaints, Once and Always was entertaining. I’ll definitely be reading more of her books. Which one do you suggest?

Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart

Title: Nothing but Ghosts
Author: Beth Kephart
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (June 23, 2009)
Genre: Young Adult
Set in: USA
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

My thoughts:
I first heard about this book on a book drive. I think it was a very brilliant initiative but somehow it put me off buying the book. I don’t know why but it did. But last week I told myself to stop being foolish and pick up the book. So I did.

I guess by now everyone knows this is not a Ghost Story. This is a story about Katie and her attempt to dealing with the loss of her mother.

While working on the estate garden of Ms. Martine who has been a recluse and has not come out or shown her face to the outside world for more than 50 years. Katie feels there is a mystery to all this when she is assigned to a gazebo digging project in the Garden. As she struggles to find the mystery of Ms. Martine’s disappearance, she also struggles with her own ghosts, the ones she has carried around since her mothers death.

So thats the basic plot. What I liked about the book? Well, the writing was brilliant. The author can write about grief and suffering so well that you can’t help but feel for all the characters. Speaking of characters, I loved all of them, even the minor ones like Sammy, the 4 year old neighbors kid. I loved the setting of the story and I could almost feel like I was there among the lush greenery of the garden estate.

What I didn’t like in the book? For one, I found it a little slow. Second, I think I’m the only one who has this problem but I think Katie finding out about Ms. Martine’s history and secret was something that was none of her business in the first place. If someone who is still living has kept herself hidden and her past buried, there should be a perfectly good reason for it.  Trying to find out about that secret was like not honoring that person’s wishes.  I really struggled with that part of the story.

Other than that, even though I liked the book, it was kind of forgettable for me. I’m not sure I would remember anything after a few months. But…as you might have seen around the blog-sphere, majority of the readers have loved this book.

I really wanted to love it too but it just wasn’t meant to be.