Tuesday, September 30, 2014

52 Review - September Edition

wouldn't it be more interesting if the bus looked like this?
This month for the 52 book challenge I decided to have a theme. It doesn't happen often that I read enough similar books to actually consider doing this. But this month I found myself reading all contemporary fiction with a magical twist. Yes, it's true, I don't like reading about real life if I can manage it, I'd much rather live in fantasy and sci-fi realms of fiction. But if you add in a bit of magic to everyday life, sometimes something wonderful can happen.

by Bailey Cates
319 Pages

Katie Lightfoot's tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah's quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees.

While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy's cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren't just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells!

When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben's name and find the real killer..
I've never wanted to be a Jedi, a Wizard, an Aes Sedia, or really anything else involving magic. That is until I read this book.
Baking Magic!  
OMG I want Baking Magic! How cool would that be? Perhaps I would finally be able to get my hands on the perfect scone recipe (which I am totally convinced can only be achieved through magic)
This book was really cute. I enjoyed it a lot more than my usual baking mystery. Perhaps because this is a more recent series and I can relate to the characters a little better. Katie is a very independent woman, but I like that she's smarter in her choices in solving the mystery. She never goes at it alone, which is quite refreshing.

by Jim C. Hines

377 Pages

Isaac Vainio’s life was almost perfect. He should have known it couldn’t last.
Living and working as a part-time librarian in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Isaac had finally earned the magical research position he dreamed of with Die Zwelf Portenære, better known as the Porters. He was seeing a smart, fun, gorgeous dryad named Lena Greenwood. He had been cleared by Johannes Gutenberg to do libriomancy once again, to reach into books and create whatever he chose from their pages. Best of all, it had been more than two months since anything tried to kill him.
And then Isaac, Lena, and Porter psychiatrist Nidhi Shah are called to the small mining town of Tamarack, Michigan, where a pair of septuagenarian werewolves have discovered the brutally murdered body of a wendigo.
What begins as a simple monster-slaying leads to deeper mysteries and the discovery of an organization thought to have been wiped out more than five centuries ago by Gutenberg himself. Their magic rips through Isaac’s with ease, and their next target is Lena Greenwood.
They know Lena’s history, her strengths and her weaknesses. Born decades ago from the pages of a pulp fantasy novel, she was created to be the ultimate fantasy woman, shaped by the needs and desires of her companions. Her powers are unique, and Gutenberg’s enemies mean to use her to destroy everything he and the Porters have built. But their plan could unleash a far darker power, an army of entropy and chaos, bent on devouring all it touches.
The Upper Peninsula is about to become ground zero in a magical war like nothing the world has seen in more than five hundred years. But the more Isaac learns about Gutenberg and the Porters, the more he questions whether he’s fighting for the right cause.
One way or another, Isaac must find a way to stop a power he doesn’t fully understand. And even if he succeeds, the outcome will forever change him, the Porters, and the whole world.
If I couldn't have baking magic, I think libriomancy would be next on my list. I really enjoy the concept of reaching into books and being able to take something out of them. I love all the nerdy book references in this. Isaac is definitely the  kind of person I'd like to sit down with and discuss books.
This book series is quite enjoyable. I really love Lena and I've very glad that she received a little more development, even if it was only through reading her journal entries and not very much as an actual character throughout the story. Isaac is an interesting character, but I'm glad that others are now taking a larger role in the world. I really like Dr. Shah and I hope that she also gets more book time in the next book (sadly not due out in hardcover until sometime in 2015 )
As much as I love this series, I hope he decides to write some more of the Princess books soon too. 

Beautiful People
Wendy Holden
695 Pages

A witty, utterly addictive novel from bestselling author Wendy Holden, Beautiful People is a tale wicked in its observations yet buoyant at its heart: an irresistible confection you'll want to devour immediately.

Darcy-a struggling English rose actress when The Call comes from L.A. An Oscar-tastic director. A movie to make her famous. The hunkiest costar in Hollywood. So why doesn't she want to go?

Belle-a size-zero film star but she's in big, fat trouble. Hotter than the earth's core a year ago, she's now Tinseltown toast after her last film bombed. Can she get back to the big time?

Emma-a down-to-earth, down-on-her-luck nanny trying to weather London's cutthroat childcare scene and celebrity mom whirlwinds. What will it take for her to get back in control of her own life?

Jet to London, Hollywood, and Italy; toss in a passionate star chef, a kind hearted paparazzo, and a reluctant male supermodel; and find Wendy Holden at her best-a smash international hit.
Since I decided to do contemporary fiction this month, it made sense that this book be my choice from my TBR pile. Ok, so it doesn't have magic, but it does involve Hollywood and that contains its own sort of magic.
I really love Wendy Holden's writing. It always offers a fun alternative when I've been reading lackluster books (Not that it was the case this month). Her characters are always either over-the-top outrageous or wonderfully down-to-earth normal. These are the only books that I have ever found where being ordinary is the better way to be. It's quite refreshing to not have to worry about being special and just relish in the fact that you're normal like the main character. 
The ending to this one was a bit odd and unnecessary (I speak of his "secret") and kind of threw the vibe off for me, but otherwise it was a totally enjoyable book. 
339 Pages 
Jeannie Carlyle is a caterer extraordinaire, more than ready to handle any challenge thrown at her. But when her client asks her to open up a rare bottle of gin for a party, Jeannie is shocked when a guy in poofy pants pops out and she gets sucked inside. Trapped in the bottle, Jeannie does the only thing she can think of and uses her cell phone to search the term “paranormal” and finds the number for OOPS—Out in the Open Paranormal Support.
Until he sets her free.
Werewolf Sloan Flaherty isn’t keen on dealing with distraught women, especially since his sister-in-law Marty basically forced him to man the OOPS phones. But when Jeannie calls in a panic, Sloan is the only one available to find Jeannie’s bottle. After giving it a good rub, Jeannie emerges dressed like a character from Arabian Nights and starts calling Sloan “Master.” Now, they need to figure out how to break their unwanted bond, before the wishes Jeannie can’t stop granting get them into more trouble than even the OOPS girls can handle…
 I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction, so it was actually quite difficult to find another book on my shelf that fit the bill, especially while all my books were packed and ready to move. Lucky for me, I hadn't packed #7 of the Accidental Friends Series. Yes, Nina, Marty and Wanda are back again, but this time to help Jeannie who's turned into a genie! As always, these stories follow a strict formula
 - Get turned into whatever (check)
- Freak out (check)
- Try and find a way to fix it (check)
- Lean on friends for support (new paranormal friends, check)
- Fall in love with guy who did the turning (or rubbing, as it were, check)
- Come up against someone who wants to get them for some random reason (check)
- At least 3 long sex scenes (middle, 3/4, and end of book), live happily forever after (only 2 surprisingly, check)
It wasn't the best of this series, nor the worst, so all and all I was satisfied with this one.

Books that I am currently reading

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
by H.P. Lovecraft
Page 16 of 360

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3)
by George R.R. Martin
Page 475 of 1128

Free Agent (Grimm Agency #1)
by J.C. Nelson
Page 104 of 281

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