A Hopeless Romantic


I haven’t read a nice chick lit novel in a while, and I missed just kicking back and curling up with a light, fluffy read so I decided to be a little adventurous a couple weeks ago and grabbed this fairly thick book off my TBR.

I’d never heard of the title or author before, but I got Harriet Evans’ A Hopeless Romantic (book #138 for 2009) on BookMooch because I had to mooch an additional book to help defray shipping costs. I picked this book because it was rated high on Amazon and the cover art caught my eye.

It’s funny, because when I started reading this book, and it came at a time when one of the active threads in my book club (Flips Flipping Pages) was an ongoing discussion on when to stop reading when a book doesn’t catch your attention.

Some people give it a hundred pages; some people chuck a book when they don’t like it, and some, like me, finish a book when they’ve started it, whether they like the book or not. Call me compulsive, or masochistic even, but if I deign to start a book I have to finish it. Maybe put it away for a while if it really doesn’t catch my interest, but I feel like it’s disrespectful to give up on a book, especially if I’m going to pass judgment on it.

With this book, I plod through the first one hundred pages, and surprisingly (even I didn’t think it was possible), the author was able to turn the story around, and I ended up loving the book.

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Manga! Manga! (Kare Kano 3, Kitchen Princess)


Before, I didn’t really read manga, because the multiple book format makes it hard to collect. I like reading series books in order and from start to finish, and with manga, it’s hard to complete a set because they’re expensive to buy brand new and at full price, and difficult to find at bargain stores or on BookMooch.

But recently I’ve been drawn to some titles based on their storyline, and I really enjoy comical manga humor, so I’ve started to read them in the past couple of years or so, hunting down bargain copies at National Book Store and scouring the manga selection at Book Sale and on BookMooch.

The upside is that if you really can’t wait to find out what happens next, and if the series you’re reading isn’t a brand new release, you can usually read it online, on websites such as 9Panels, or onemanga.

Some manga series are adapted to Western book formats, but most use the authentic manga format,  read top to bottom and right to left. It’s interesting, because having been raised and educated in a Westernized Asian country such as the  Philippines, I  automatically read from left to right. I  initially had trouble reading manga panels, but I believe I’ve been getting the hang of it now, although every once in a while I tend to lapse into left to right reading when I get caught up in the story.

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Joie de Vivre! (Two from Susie Morgenstern)


I’d never heard of Susie Morgenstern before I picked up a hardbound copy of  A Book of Coupons (#109 for 2009) from the Book Sale bargain bin. It was P15, in pristine condition, and I initially thought it was one of those booklets that had tear-out coupons for little good deeds that you could give out to friends and family members.

When I got home, I realized it was a chapter book and read it in one sitting. A few weeks later, I found a copy of Susie Morgenstern’s Secret Letters from 0 to 10 (#110 for 2009) for P10 at a roving book sale and I ended up reading it in one sitting too!

Reading the back flap of one of the books, I found out that Susie Morgenstern is one of the most popular children’s  book writers in France, with over forty books for children. Interestingly, while she writes primarily in French, she is an American who moved to the south of France over thirty years ago! Her recent books, however, have been translated in English, so now more readers have been enjoying her books.

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Kare Kano Marathon

I like reading manga series when I can read them from the first volume. Luckily, I was able to mooch books 1, 2, and 4 of Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda from local moocher Cizi (books # 77-79 of 2009) and I’ve got book 3 on its way from the Netherlands.
Kare Kano is a romantic comedy featuring the seemingly perfect Yukino Miyazawa and her school rival Soichiro Arima. 

Yukino is the #1 student in her high school, and is admired for her beauty, talent, and intelligence. But beneath the perfect façade, Yukino is a control freak playing a part, as she is a brat and a slob at home, studying obsessively to keep up her grades.

When she enters high school, the new student Soichiro shows up and gives her a run for her money. The perfect façade cracks, and Yukino plots to take him down and regain the attention of her peers, but she didn’t plan on falling in love with him in the process.

Yukino has more in common with Soichiro than she thinks, because Soichiro is keeping up the perfect façade to prove to himself and his adoptive parents that he did not get his birth parents’ bad genes.

As Yukino and Soichiro get to know each other and their relationship blossoms, they both learn to loosen up and be true to themselves.

Kare Kano is a he said – she said story, with chapters alternating between Yukino and Soichiro. It is one of the first series released by Tokyopop, an English-language manga publishing company that is fast becoming a favorite of mine.It has also been adapted into an anime series, although I have yet to watch it.

I like the character of Yukino, specifically because she reminds me a lot of myself back in school. Back then, I was always in the honors class, and I understand her need to keep up appearances to live up to other people’s expectations.

I also like the character of Soichiro, because I am such a sucker for overachievers and I really don’t blame Yukino for falling for him.

The chemistry between them is good, and the story gets pretty funny, especially when new characters, like the hunky Hideaki (book 2) and little Tsubasa (book 4) are introduced. There are also nice little moments like Yukino working up the courage to tell Soichiro she loves him, the first time they hold hands, the first date, the first hug, the first kiss. It’s a bit nostalgic for me, because I remember one particular person in my life, but hehe, that’s another story.

I also like the little notes in the margins left behind by Masami Tsuda, as well as the Tsuda diary section at the back of the book because it gives great insight into her creative process, and gives a better understanding of the context of some cultural nuances, like Japanese school uniforms, or references to Japanese novels.

I can’t wait to read more of this series. Hopefully they’ll turn up on BookMooch.

My copy: Books 1, 2, and 4 in paperback, local mooch

My rating: Book 1, 2, and 4: 4/5 stars

They don’t make them like they used to

Romance novels were very big with the girls in my high school, and it was then when I read all the Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood romance novels I could get my hands on. These days, I’ve outgrown the romance novel phase, but I still read them once in a while, for that happily-ever-after fix.
Judith McNaught’s Every Breath You Take (book #77 for 2009) came out in 2005, way after I finished high school, but I didn’t get myself a copy until recently, because it was available on BookMooch.  

The book takes us back to Chicago, back where McNaught’s popular Paradise is set. William Wyatt, grandson of wealthy philanthropist goes missing, and the police suspect foul play, casting suspicion on William’s estranged half-brother, Mitchell Wyatt.

Kate Donovan meets Mitchell Wyatt on the tropical island of Anguilla, and a romantic encounter develops between them. Kate soon finds herself entangled in a web of deception and a high-profile murder, and must struggle to keep herself and her loved ones alive.

I’m not particularly keen on how Judith McNaught (and Julie Garwood) have left behind their old styles and jumped towards writing romance thrillers. I’m a romance purist, because when I read a romance novel, it’s really for the gushy, awwww-inducing sappiness of it and I don’t really appreciate how they’ve complicated it.

Every Breath You Take does have some Judith McNaught trademarks – the momentous one-liners (usually containing the title of the book), the to-die-for leading man, the spirited female, and the good dynamics between the leads, but you have to read through all the high-drama murder to get to the good parts.

There’s another Judith McNaught novel that came out fairly recently but I haven’t read yet: Someone to Watch Over Me. There’s actually a hardcover copy of it waiting in my TBR pile, but I’m not looking forward to it because it’s another romance thriller and the plot sounds more complicated than I’m willing to commit to.

Sigh. They really don’t make romance novels like they used to.

My copy: mass market paperback, local mooch, upgraded into hardcover with dust jacket, mooched from the US

My rating: 3/5 stars