Royal Wedding

Royal Wedding (Princess Diaries #11) by Meg Cabot

Royal WeddingFor Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone–especially herself–that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well? (Goodreads)

It’s been fifteen years since the publication of the first Princess Diaries book.

I know.

It’s gone by so fast.

And as many of you know, The Princess Diaries is my all-time favorite series. The books make me so happy because, while I was an adult when the first one was published, I felt Meg Cabot had tapped into who I was as a teenager. She perfectly, hilariously, described the thoughts that went through my head in high school (and, okay, sometimes as a grown up) and she introduced me to characters I fell in love with and, in a funny, bookworm way, bonded with.

And don’t even get me started on my boyfriend, Michael Moscovitz, Fake Man of My Dreams. There aren’t enough words, you guys.

Needless to say, I lost my mind when I found out there was going to be another Princess Diaries book. When I had the opportunity to read an early copy through Edelweiss, I DEVOURED it. I read endless excerpts to my adorable husband, sent crazy texts to my BFF (because, Michael, hello), and then read it again. Because I loved it.

The Story:

Mia is now twenty-six years old, a college graduate running a community center named after her dearly departed stepfather, Frank Gianni. She is still the Princess of Genovia, fulfilling her royal duties while balancing life with her longtime boyfriend, Michael Moscovitz.  As usual, Mia’s life is insane. She now lives in an apartment above the Genovian consulate, and is still guarded by Lars. She has a creepy stalker and she’s continuously hounded by the press for both political and personal reasons, so much so that often she can barely leave her home. A lesser man would have run in the other direction years ago, but Michael hangs in there, always making Mia see the positive, helping her deal with everything life throws her way, even as he continues to run his successful robotics firm. When the two finally get engaged it is blissful— until Grandmere goes bananas. The timing is perfect because the Renaldo family has been hit with a major scandal (one of a few they’ve been dealing with) as she sees this as a perfect press opportunity.

My Thoughts:

This book is sweet perfection.

I do not want to spoil the adorable, sweet details, nor do I wish to fill you in on the lives of the many other characters you and I have grown to love (simply because it’s such a treat to read about it). Rest assured, you will hear from Grandmere and Mia’s family, Tina, Boris, and the ever-hilarious Lilly. There are even appearances by Paolo and Lana. And more! But again, I don’t want to spoil it.

Diving into Mia’s life again is pure heaven. I adored it, enjoyed every single moment. As a fan, it was fun catching up with these characters that I’ve fallen in love with. But there’s more to it than that: there’s such a sense of delight I felt in seeing who they’ve become as adults. Their lives aren’t perfectly mapped out yet because they’re still young, but it’s so satisfying to see them as grown ups and observe how they’ve changed (and how they’ve stayed the same). I also loved seeing Mia and Michael’s relationship on a mature level. Michael is such a solid, steadying force in Mia’s crazy life, much like when they were teenagers. He loves her—freakouts, crazy family and all. They have such an adorable connection, both in their everyday discussions, in their sex life, and in the way they view their future. They are a sweet picture of romantic love, the kind you search your whole life to experience.

I loved this book. You don’t have to be a Princess DIaries fan to enjoy it, but if you are one, you will walk away with a giant smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart. This is everything we hoped it would be.

Crush Intensity: Eleven Million/5

One more quick, funny note. Michael and Mia’s wedding date is my birthday. When I saw this I may have spazzed out and texted my BFF, saying “I feel this is somehow significant.” She agreed, as any best friend would.

Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for giving me an e-galley of Royal Wedding (which I read three times).

Royal Wedding is in stores TODAY! I’m going to buy a copy. Are you?

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Give Me More Wes

In case you haven’t seen it there is a new trailer out for The Duff…and it’s pretty stinking cute. Feast your eyes on a shirtless Wes another great YA book turned movie:

 

This definitely looks different from the book. Mae Whitman is far from anyone’s DUFF, but like the banter they show here. Bianca seems far less grumpy, and far more approachable than she did in the book, and clearly there have been some big changes. Also, it doesn’t look to me like this is going to have the steam the book did, but it looks fun.

 

What do you guys think? I’m in.

 

 

Best Books of 2014

As this year comes to a close I think its time to chat about our favorite books of the year. For me, this was a tough reading year. There were definitely some books I LOVED, but it feels like there was less that totally blew me away. Because of this I spent a megaton of time re-reading books (okay, I always do that, but still). This year I found myself more lost in love with certain classics, or certain series and stand alones I’ve read multiple times, and those books—ones like Jellicoe Road, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, Princess in Love, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the Jenny Han Summer series—often took center stage.

 

But fear not. I read some good new (or new to me) ones too.

 

The Stand Alones/ First in a Series

Better off friends

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

It was sold as a YA When Harry Met Sally and it really is all that and more. This was one of those books I wanted to start reading again immediately after finishing it.

 We were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

In a word, breathtaking.

 

To All the BoysTo All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (#1) by Jenny Han

This book was so cute, so fun, and something in it just resonated with me. I read it and adored it and then, within months, read it again and loved it just the same.

More Than ThisMore Than This by Patrick Ness

You really can’t go wrong with Patrick Ness. The big question here is why on earth did I wait so long to read this?

 wonder

Wonder by RJ Palacio

I avoided this book forever because I worried that as a mommy it would be unbelievably difficult to read. And you know what? It was every bit as amazing as I’d heard and more. Yes, there were tears, but there was so much joy, so much warmth. This one dug a hole deep in my heart. I think it should be required reading for all kids.

these broken starsThese Broken Stars ( Starbound #1) by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I loved this book from the first pages. It was unique and intriguing, and it took me on an entirely different journey than the one I’d expected. And the swoons were pretty excellent. Like, really good.

 

The Sequels

 

Blue lilyBlue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Boys #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

I can’t get enough of the gorgeous prose, of these characters, or of the crazy bananapants problems they encounter. After the fourth and final installment I’m certain to be grieving their loss.

Gods and MonstersDreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Oh, this series. See what I wrote above about grieving? All the feels. I can’t even explain it.

 

Ignite MeIgnite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

Oh sweet holy moly, these books. And Warner, setting panties aflame across the nation. This was a good journey and though it was technically the end (and a good, solid end), Mafi wrote it in a way that left a whole new world of possibilities to explore.

 

Just Call My NameJust Call My Name (I’ll Be There #2) by Holly Goldberg Sloan

These characters slay me. Even though the first book ended so perfectly, I like that Sloan chose to explore some of the difficulties that follow Sam, Riddle, and Emily as they adjust to their new lives. Even happy endings take work.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Since You've Been GoneSince You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson- So adorably cute that I’ll be reading it again soon. It gave me happy feelings.

 

Second Chanc SummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson- Another case of why did I wait so long?

Biggest FlirtsBiggest Flirts (The Superlatives #1) by Jennifer Echols- All. The. Banter. I was into this book all the way, hook, line and sinker.

 

Happy Reading! If you’ve read something that knocked your socks off, please share it with me!

Princess Diaries Fans of the World, Unite!

As we all know, in June, Meg Cabot is releasing Royal Wedding, the adult sequel to her wildly successful (and awesome) series, The Princess Diaries. Also, as we all know, I’m freaking out about this because:

1. More Michael Moscovitz

2. It’s Adult so there really could be more Michael Moscovitz.I don’t need too many details, but if there’s a tiny bit more steamy kissing than usual, I’m not going to complain.

3. There’s a wedding, hello

4. I’ve missed Mia. I really have (not that I don’t obsessively reread the series over and over again. But still).

Unfortunately, we still have to wait SIX MONTHS for the book, but today we’ve been given a special treat. We get a look at the cover:

Adorable

Adorable

Aaaaaaaand, drumroll, we get a very cute excerpt in which not only is Michael’s sexual prowess discussed (I am not making this up, I swear!), but we get to see our Mia doing one of the things she does best–freaking out.

Here’s the link. Enjoy.

Also, if you aren’t following Meg Cabot on Pinterest, she has a funny board related to the wedding (including Grandmere’s preferences vs. Mia’s). It’s pretty cute.

Hope that brightened your day!

Since You’ve Been Gone

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

 

Since You've Been GoneThe Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.

Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…(Goodreads)

 

The Skinny:

Emily’s best friend, Sloane, has disappeared at the beginning of what was to be the most epic, off the charts summer of their lives. There’s no warning, no phone call, no note–Sloane is just gone. Emily tries to reach her, searches for clues as to her whereabouts, but all she finds is Sloane’s family home abandoned and no sign of her friend.

That is, until a mysterious To Do list written in Sloane’s unmistakable handwriting arrives at her door. It’s full of random tasks, the kinds of things you only do at the prompting of your best friend, the kind of things Emily would never, ever do alone. Sloane is the vibrant, fearless, life of the party. Emily has always been the loyal sidekick. But there’s a dash of hope in this list, a belief Emily holds to that if she takes the journey, if she completes each task, perhaps it will all lead her back to her best friend.

With unexpected help of Frank Porter, an undeniably cute guy from school (they’re always cute in YA aren’t they? Love it), Emily dives head first into the list and begins a summer full of changes.

My Thoughts:

First of all, I am so with Emily on this fear of doing anything too crazy. I always felt like more of an accessory than the main event. And with items like “Kiss a Stranger” (no, I didn’t want to kiss people I knew, let alone strangers), and “Steal something” (WHAT IF I GET CAUGHT?), “Break something (I mean, that’s just plain rude), or “Go skinny dipping” (Uh, let me think. No), I felt for Emily.

But with Sloane gone Emily was suddenly faced with a big, empty summer. Life feels less interesting because Sloane and Emily have one of those all-consuming tight knit friendships (except that part where Sloane forgot to mention she was about to skedaddle). Outside of her family, Emily honestly doesn’t have anyone else she’s really close to. She realizes that she’s basically alone. She only attacks that mysterious list because she feels that through it her best friend is sending her a message about how to find her. The enormous courage it takes Emily to do some of these things is what is so enchanting about this book. No, they aren’t tasks that will harm her or truly change her life in any way, but they’re different. She has to take a step outside of the comfort zone she’s been in. She begins by going to the local apple orchard where she runs into Frank Porter, schoolmate and problem solver deluxe. Frank begins to help Emily in her search for clues and the more time she spends with him the more she opens up to the possibilities around her, things she didn’t always see with Sloane standing nearby.

One element I enjoyed about this book was the flashbacks. Matson allows us to see inside Sloane and Emily’s world so much so that even though Sloane isn’t truly present in the current day storyline, as the reader I felt like I knew her (and I was as charmed by her as Emily was). Matson paints a vivid picture of what friendship is like for girls, especially high school ones. There’s a real sisterhood, a bond that runs deep and is felt clearly. And we’re left with the same question Emily had, “Why would she leave without a word?”

I also loved watching Emily grow into an individual. At the beginning, she is Emily of Sloane and Emily. She starts her trek in a cautious, single-minded way, but by the end she views herself as an individual, as someone who matters to those around her (and stands out to them) and she sees the importance she holds.

Crush Intensity: 4.5/5 I loved this book. It was so cute. Morgan Matson never misses. And also, though I didn’t put a ton of focus on him in the review, Frank Porter is adorably crushworthy. Read this book!

Where’d I Get It: Bought this one for my Nook.

Bookish Shopping

One of my favorite things to do lately is search for bookish items on Etsy. I buy tons of things there anyway, from pillows to my oldest daughter’s Halloween costume (because on Etsy it is possible to buy your thirteen year-old daughter a costume that is cute, modest, and not the sexy version of a boy costume. ie, sexy vampire, sexy pirate, etc).

Here are some items I’m totally drooling over as of this moment:

 

Narnia Wooden Directional Sign

Narnia sign

I know! I love this. In fact, I think I’m going to buy it. I’ve scoured this shop and she’ll make her signs in any color. This is destined for my book quote wall.

 

Mischief Managed Coffee Cup

Solemnly swear mugs

 

Starting your day with some Harry Potterisms is never a bad idea. I don’t drink coffee, but I would happily guzzle some hot chocolate (or butterbeer, anyone?) from this sweet mug.

 

Jane Eyre Pullover

Jane Eyre shirt

Besides looking like something I’d want to put on and never take off, this quote is perfection ( “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”) . It’s everything Jane stands for, the reason I love her, the reason she’s still a strong, feminist role model for girls today. Also, I love grey. This is going on my Christmas Wish List.

Wuthering Heights Cuff Bracelet

Wuthering Heights cuff

I may actually like this better than the book. Truth.

And what a beautiful quote:

“It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles bending to the thorn. “

Darcy Proposal Book Bag

Darcy Proposal

Love this cute bag. Perfect for toting around the tons and tons of books I seem to be reading and rereading at any given time. And you can never go wrong with Jane Austen, amiright?

Hey Boo Necklace

Hey Boo Necklace

This necklace is so simple, but so sweet. I’m a sucker for all things related to To Kill A Mockingbird and though Atticus Finch is my all-time favorite literary character, Boo Radley has a very special place in my heart (so much so that we named the family dog after him).

Golden Snitch Necklace

golden snitch necklace

I’m pretty sure I need this. I’d be curious to see how many people would recognize it. It could be like a little Harry Potter Potential Friend Litmus Test and an accessory all in one (just kidding. My friends don’t have to read Harry Potter, I just like it when they do).

Cutest Pencils Ever

Write That Shit Down

So, I can’t really buy these because it would be horrifying to see my fourth grader doing her math homework with one of them, BUT I can love them from afar.

Persuasion Artwork

You Pierce my soul

Ahhh, best for last. There is perhaps no better love letter written in the history of man than the one Captain Wentworth gives Anne near the end of Persuasion. It is the utter definition of swoonworthy.

Happy Monday!

Isla and the Happily Ever After

IslaIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

 

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series. (Goodreads)

 

The Story:

Isla has had a crush on Josh–yes, that Josh. The one with his tongue permanently down Rashmi’s throat in Anna and the French Kiss–since forever. When she runs into him at a cafe in NYC  as she’s hopped up on Vicodin following oral surgery, it’s not exactly ideal (though it’s quite charming to read). She proceeds to make a fool of herself, Josh is amused and perhaps slightly intrigued, then it’s over. They don’t see each other for the rest of the summer.

When school starts and the two are back at SOAP in Paris, it takes time, but they make their way from Awkward Cafe Encounter to Awkward Almost Friends to OMG We’re So Adorable. You see, unlike other Perkins books, this one isn’t so much about the will they or won’t they get together, it’s about will they or won’t they make it. They both have issues. Josh’s family is Not Amused with his regular antics and as much as Isla and Josh want to believe they’re in their own little romantic world, real life sort of slaps them in the face. The question for this couple is will they get their happily ever after, the one Isla’s been dreaming about (hint: look at the title)?

My Thoughts:

I didn’t loooooove this book (though I liked it) and I feel sort of terrible saying that. It’s not a bad story, in fact, there are some uber-cute moments. I guess it just doesn’t compare to its near-flawless predecessors, Anna and Lola.

Josh is well-written, flawed and funny, yet still raw and edgy in his complete apathy toward all things regarding school. While I didn’t necessarily crush on him the way I immediately did with St. Clair and Cricket (I’m sorry. It’s so unfair to compare), I saw why Isla liked him.

But Isla. You guys. I had such a hard time with her. I found her to be whiny and completely lacking the humor of Anna or the whimsical charm of Lola (not that she has to be them, she just didn’t have something good that stood out to me the way those girls did). She felt so one-dimensional to me. And the feelings for Josh, like I said, I get it, but she was, forgive me, kind of stalkerish about the whole thing. Then, when they finally got together he was EVERYTHING. I understand that first time love feels like everything but Isla lived as though it was.

But what would a companion novel be without St. Clair (still utterly adorable. I want to kiss his cute little cheeks. Because I want to act like the French, obviously. That’s all). And we see Anna (still strong and funny. Everything Isla is not, actually), and, be still my heart, Cricket (in all his sweet, nerdy awkwardness) and Lola (sucking the air out of the room with her quirky brand of awesome). Their scenes are fabulous. They make the book. And the ending. I LOVED the ending (basically from the time the old characters come in all the way to the very end I was in love. It was perfect). The end of this book is what romance stories should be. Perkins did a beautiful job there.

Crush Intensity: 4/5 Not my favorite, but still definitely worth the read.