Friday, February 14, 2014

For When I'm Feeling: Hungry

I really think I should have saved my first topic for this feature (Cold) for this week, since yesterday, my town got 2 feet of snow dumped on it.  Shoveling that was just awful.  And then I thought I'd do something like "Romantic" for Valentine's Day, but this week's Top Ten Tuesday was too close to that.  So I thought about my typical V-Days and how I spend every February 14th treating myself to an awesome & delicious meal.  Which led me to today's topic for my new feature.


I am an unashamed food-lover.  And there are so many books and movies that are centered on food, or have food as a big part of it.


  • Eat, Pray, Love
    • Favorite quote: "I'm in love. I am having a relationship with my pizza."
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
    • "Ice cream changed my fate."
  • Chocolat
    • (About chocolate seashells) "And it *melts*, God forgive me, it melts every so slowly on your tongue, it tortures you with pleasure."
  • No Reservations
    • "I wish there was a cookbook for life, you know? Recipes telling us exactly what to do."
And those are the movies and books that I turn to when hungry.  Which then of course only make me more hungry.  Any suggestions for other yummy books or movies I should check out?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Swoon-Worthy Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is books that make you swoon.  I love swoon-worthy books, and for me personally, I tend to swoon over books with a dark, brooding, and/or flawed love interest.  There are always exceptions to the rule (Peeta!), but I definitely have a type.

Top Ten Books That Made Me Swoon

  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
    • I love Perry, and his romance with Aria gave me goosebumps.
  • The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
    • Hector! Hector! Hector!  He's so amazing.  I'm actually jealous of Elisa.
  • Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien
    • And for this book, it was all about Leon - the epitome of dark, brooding, and flawed.  I wanted to smack Gaea sometimes for not seeing how awesome Leon was.
  • The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
    • The whole book is great, but it's at the very end that the real swoon-worthy moment happens between Percy & Annabeth.  Percibeth forever!
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
    • Once again, it's all about the dark, brooding, & flawed love interest - Four/Tobias.
  • Daughter of the Earth and Sky by Kaitlin Bevis
    • I love almost all Hades/Persephone retellings, but this one is one of the most passionate and swoon-worthy to me.
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
    • I think I must be a sucker for characters named Wolf.  Both Wolf from Scarlet and Wolf from The 10th Kingdom are incredibly swoon-worthy.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
    • Sir Percy Blakeny is the most passionate hero ever.  The part when he kisses the ground where his wife just walked because his passion for her is that strong?  Bring on the swoon!
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale
    • For me, the swooning came at the very end of this book.  The final conversation between Jane and her "Mr. Darcy" is so sweet and romantic and funny.
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
    • I've already seen a lot of people have Pride & Prejudice on their lists, and while I agree that it's definitely a swoony book (that Mr. Darcy and his smolder), I think Persuasion is seriously swoon-worthy.  That letter from Captain Wentworth... so perfect.  And Anne almost did actually swoon over it.
And those are my top ten swoon-worthy books.  How about you?  Have you ever "swooned" over a book?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Book Review: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Title:  Arranged
Author:  Catherine McKenzie
Genre:  Chick-lit/Romance
Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages:  416
Acquired via:  Purchased from Amazon


Synopsis from goodreads:  Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can't seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she's engaged, Anne can't help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn't a dating service; it's an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company's success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn't it work for her?
A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I rarely give chick-lit and/or contemporary romance a shot, because most of the times that I do, I've been disappointed.  In this case, I wouldn't say I was disappointed, but I certainly wasn't blown away.

Arranged is a novel about a woman who decides she's finished with the dating game and uses an arranged marriage service to find herself a husband.  Obviously there's a lot of inner monologue about her misgivings and doubts.  The whole first third of the book is about the process leading up to finding Anne the perfect person.  So it's mostly character development and background.  The second third is about her meeting her husband and their initial sparks and tension and getting-to-know-each-other phase.  And the last third is about when they start to adjust to life together and obviously face a huge conflict that must be resolved by the end of the book.

For the most part, the book is cute.  The characters are good; the story is fun; and the ending is mostly satisfying.  I just wish the book had been more about their life after their arranged marriage.  Mostly the book deals with everything leading up to it and the "honeymoon."  I think a book about what an actual arranged marriage is like would have been a bit more interesting.  Also, personal preference - please lay off the F-word.  I just get so uncomfortable when I feel like every other word is an F-bomb.

My biggest problem with the book was the huge conflict and resolution.  I kept having this feeling of deja vu.  And then I realized why.  I had seen this same exact story before, in the form of a romantic comedy movie.  I won't say which one, or it will give away EVERYTHING, but it was definitely the same exact plot and resolution.

Overall, Arranged is a cute but unoriginal story.  I think that about sums it up.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Make Me Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is books that make us cry.  This is a hard one for me because I'm a very emotional person.  I cry when I'm sad; I cry when I'm really happy.  I even cry at touching commercials (the most recent Super Bowl Budweiser commercial about the soldier coming home made me a teary mess).  So I decided to pick the books that didn't just make me cry; they made me an emotional wreck.

Top Ten I-Need-a-Tissue-and-a-Hug Books That Made Me Cry

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
    • I think John Green loves to make his readers cry.  So beautiful but so sad.  This book just wrecked me.
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
    • I really don't know how I'm going to make it through watching the movie version of this because the book was so incredibly intense.
  • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • When I read this book out loud to my little sister, we couldn't even make it through the final chapter.  The two of us were just sitting there, crying together.
  • A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle
    • This book deals primarily with coping with death, and it's real and heartbreaking.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
    • Why must you kill off all the best characters, including my favorite!?  It wasn't enough to have already killed off so many people in the previous books???
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    • I read this when I was about 10 or 11, and I just sat in bed and cried during the chapter about Beth.  And then I saw the many movie adaptations and cried some more.
  • For One More Day by Mitch Albom
    • Mitch Albom, like John Green, seems to like writing books to make you cry.  This book is about a man whose life is going downhill, and one night, he has a car accident and wakes up in his little hometown with his mom... who died years ago.  He gets to have just one more day with her.
  • A Night to Remember by Walter Lord
    • A non-fiction account of what occurred on the Titanic.  Walter Lord interviewed the survivors and wrote down the story of the ship sinking based on their firsthand experiences.  It would have been powerful as fiction, but it was twice as powerful because it all actually happened.
  • I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson
    • A graphic autobiography of a young Jewish girl and what she suffered in the Holocaust.  I don't really think I need to explain this one.
  • I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
    • This book is here because of the second chapter.  The rest of the book isn't quite as emotional or intense, but that second chapter left me a blubbering mess.  It's so intense that my brother couldn't get past it, and I'm not sure if he's tried picking up the book since he first started it.
And those are the books that left me desperately searching for tissues after reading them.  How about you?  Did you read any of these and have the same reaction?  What books make you cry?