First, I want to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves. I don’t care if your book is fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi or paOriginal review posted here
First, I want to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves. I don’t care if your book is fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi or paranormal (or even just regular literature), I don’t like seeing the names of things, popular things or pop-culture, in the text of the book. It makes me feel disjointed and reminds me that I am, indeed, reading a book and still very much living in the real world. When I read, fantasy and science fiction most of all, I read to lose myself in the world and to explore the fantastic places the authors words are creating in my own mind. So when I see reference after reference to everything from Harry Potter to the Smurfs, I get a bit peeved and, for the first time, I actually got angry at a book.
I finished The Magician King, but only just. I’d hoped the story would move more quickly, as this one dealt with a Quentin on a quest, but instead, I was just irritated by him.
I will say, however, in the effort to give some type of positive feedback, that I did enjoy Julia’s story (well, enjoy as in it interested me). She is not nearly the same type of character that Quentin is, but unfortunately her story was not enough to save the rest of the book for me.
If you liked The Magicians, chances are you will still enjoy this book. Don’t let me put you off of reading it if you want to (in fact, I’ll be posting some links to positive reviews here at the end of this review), but if you were left kind of “meh” after reading The Magicians, then I’d steer clear of this one....more
With Dark Parties, Sara Grant jumps on the dystopia train and offers her version of a future that might be. Neva lives inReview originally posted here
With Dark Parties, Sara Grant jumps on the dystopia train and offers her version of a future that might be. Neva lives in a dome, a place where people are disappearing, where the calendar has been reset to 01/01/01 and where life’s luxuries, things we take for granted today, are disintegrating quickly.
Honestly, the book was okay. But just that – okay. I kind of felt as if Sara Grant took a stock “this is the outline for dystopia” booklet and filled in the blanks with her own special tweaks (in fact, a part of the book made me wonder if she was intending to just outright rip part of George Orwell’s 1984 ideas out of his book and make them her own). The world was not put together very well, I mean, it was okay, it was a world, but there wasn’t much detail and it was sort of like reading the text equivalent of standard background painting in a low-budget film.
It’s funny, but as I write this review I wonder exactly why I had a hard time putting the book down. I think the answer is that it was entertaining fluff. Just enough interesting material to keep me from wanting to put the book down, but not enough to fill me up with yummy book goodness. In fact, the book really started getting interesting just as it ended – which made me a bit upset. Although the ending wasn’t as bad a cliffhanger as has become quite the fashion, it still was enough of one to let me know that there would be more.. and I’m ready for stand alone books to make their way back into fashion again.
So, long story short, interesting enough book, will scratch the itch if you want to read yet another dystopia novel, but if you are picking and choosing your way through them, this is one you might want to put on the “maybe one day” pile....more
I am not a lover of science. It confuses me and makes me feel like an idiot, at times. That said, I do love science fiction – even those moments thatI am not a lover of science. It confuses me and makes me feel like an idiot, at times. That said, I do love science fiction – even those moments that have my eyes glazing over and me wondering, again, why it is that I get sucked into these types of stories.
Kerry Nietz is one of those reasons. With The Superlative Stream (and his previous book in the DarkTrench Saga, A Star Curiously Singing), Nietz takes a hold of my imagination and begins to manipulate it, creating some of the most incredible images and fantastic thoughts, thoughts that move me to tears when I am reminded of the beauty of my faith.
For a long time I’ve bemoaned “Christian Literature” and its tendency to preach and browbeat its readers with “wholesome” (see: mundane) stories that have the protagonist living a life of sin, repenting and then living a life that miraculously has gotten amazing! The DarkTrench Saga is not that type of literature. It reminds me of a mixture of Isaac Asimov’s masterpieces mixed in with the dystopia world that a runaway faith and technology can cause (much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale).
Nietz has gotten a lot of flack for using a religion that is very powerful in our world right now – and the flack he’s been getting has been primarily from his own faith. It’s important to understand before reading these books, that these are works of fiction, that they are intended to show what could be in another time, another place, another universe – which is what science fiction is all about.
Most of all though, Kerry Nietz has provided the me, a believer, with something I’m eternally grateful to him for – a book that doesn’t insult my intelligence, that glorifies God in a subtle, but intensely beautiful way, and tells a story that has me begging for more....more
Review to comeI’ve been in such a melancholy funk lately – I go through these stages where I need to read about tragedy aReview originally posted here
Review to comeI’ve been in such a melancholy funk lately – I go through these stages where I need to read about tragedy and redemption, life moving on, just to feel as if I’m not the only one out there feeling these moments of sorrow and pain and to remind myself that there is worse and that I really am not all that bad off.
So with that in mind, it’s inevitable that I’d gravitate toward The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle – the story of a girl with two parents and a younger brother all taken from her in the blink of an eye. Laurel is a Junior in high school at the time of the accident and she has to struggle.
There are things I loved in this book. I thought the portrayal of her grief stages, of her wants, wishes and eventual acceptance were very realistic and portrayed well. I felt for her, but it was hard to really feel moved for her because, in spite of it all, she still had so much and was so self-centered through it all. She was not the only one affected by the accident, but it takes quite some time before she is even able to acknowledge that and… honestly, when a girl has to choose between ivy league schools and maintains a high GPA through a tragedy of this level, it just gets a bit unrealistic. That was the part that turned me off – that in spite of this crippling event, she still manages to live a life that most of us would have loved to have.
Don’t get me wrong, a love a good “happily ever after”, but sometimes it’s too much and in the case of this story, it came off that way. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and was saved from being terrible with some fantastic writing and character building on the secondary characters, but still – I admit to rolling my eyes more than feeling as if I wanted to shed a tear.
Still, The Beginning of After is a worthwhile read and I read it easily in an afternoon sitting. I’d highly recommend supplementing it with Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver or even something by Elizabeth Musser....more
Anna Quindlen is one of those authors who holds the power to knock the socks off of me. Every time I go to pick up one of h Original review posted here
Anna Quindlen is one of those authors who holds the power to knock the socks off of me. Every time I go to pick up one of her books I know that, at some point, I’m going to end up in tears – so I have to pace myself accordingly.
Blessings was no different. While it didn’t contain nearly the same amount of tragedy some of Quindlen’s other books have (Yes, Every Last One, I’m looking at you), it still had some heartbreaking moments, but, in true Quindlen style, I knew that these characters would be strong enough to overcome it.
Blessings is the story of a family, an unlikely family, but complete with all of the past wrong-doings, mistakes, loves and hurts that a “normal” family might have. This family consists of a Korean housekeeper, an 80ish year old woman, and a convicted felon groundskeeper… and one tiny, helpless baby. Of course, there is also the house, which is filled with history and memories and can’t be left out of the mix.
I was completely charmed by Charles “Skip” Cuddy and his treatment of the unlikely turn of events that culminated in his finding a baby in a box on the steps of “his” barn. I held my breath through each hurdle and ached for him as he learned the correct way to care for the child, and, when the end came (as it always does in these types of stories), my heart ached for him.
Blessings is a story of redemption, unlikely love, strength of character where there was none before and of making the right choices, no matter the pain involved to those making those choices. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it did wonders to “reset” me after reading a few bad books in a row....more
Over the last few years I’ve kind of overdosed on paranormal romances and stories, but in spite of my distinct feeling of apathy toward the majority oOver the last few years I’ve kind of overdosed on paranormal romances and stories, but in spite of my distinct feeling of apathy toward the majority of them now, I still have my favorites. The Raine Benares books are high on that list.
Raine is a Seeker. Throw away your Harry Potter pre-conceived notion of seekers for a moment and bear with me. She is able to touch an object and view that object from the point of view of the person who has handled it or touched it. Person, or persons, I should say. Now, she isn’t particularly magical, like other elves out there, but she has a mediocre level of talent - that is until she absorbs a mean, nasty orb called the Saghred.
All this happens in the previous four books in the series – but this one has an added level of fun: the appearance of an old boyfriend of Raine’s. Con & Conjure contains everything I’ve come to expert from Lisa Shearin; filled with lots of action, lots of sneaky movements, hot, hot moments between Raine and Mychael – however no moments with Tam which makes me sad (this is the only book I not only tolerate the love triangle, but encourage it – don’t make me choose!) and plenty of intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed Con & Conjure but please, Lisa, for the love of all that’s good, we know at this point that Raine is a Benares… you don’t always have to remind us! There, that’s my only real complaint.
This is a fun series and I highly recommend it!...more
Okay, this was a cute book. I was homeschooled, so I don’t have memories of bullying or being picked on (although I was picOriginal review posted here
Okay, this was a cute book. I was homeschooled, so I don’t have memories of bullying or being picked on (although I was picked on a little bit by other means), but if I had the types of memories most people seem to have – then I would have loved to have an Odd Job Squad firmly on my side.
Karl Fields reaches out through middle-grade humor to teach a subtle lesson. Through the pranks and hijinks of the Odd Job Squad, he highlights the feelings and emotions that are cascading through the bodies of all middle-graders- the need to be accepted, to be who they are and more. And while some of the pranks are absolutely hilarious (fish eyes, I’m looking at you), I was actually more touched by the friendship bonds being displayed.
The Odd Job Squad is a great middle-age book, especially if you are looking for that book to get a boy interested in reading. It’s funny, smart and teaches a good lesson without being preachy....more
Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes is a stunning, stunning debut novel. Brilliantly conceived, filled witThis review was first posted to my blog here
Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes is a stunning, stunning debut novel. Brilliantly conceived, filled with masterful descriptions that provoke not only the imagination with sights, but also with sounds, smells and touch. From the first few paragraphs I was spiraled into a story, much like Alice falling down her rabbit hole, and caught up in a tale of the completely fantastic and I loved every single second of it. Every one.
Now and then I'll pick up a middle grade book and, more often than not, I'll put it down feeling an overwhelming urge to pet a kitten or cuddle a puppy, but sometimes, those rare, few, precious times, I put the book down and feel as if I've been transported back in time and I'm 11 years old again and surrounded by a word of magic and mystery; a world where a boy without eyes can overcome impossible odds, where a knight without bravery can overcome his cowardice, and where a lost fantasyland can be found again. Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes is one of those stories.
One of the most brilliant, fantastic things about this book is way Auxier describes not only the people Peter comes in contact with, but also the places he visits and the things he does. Peter is blind, he has no eyes, and since the book (even though it's in third person) is from Peter's main point of view, we're treated to smells, touches and sounds. If a man is tall, we know because of the sound of his tread, if two people are related it's due to their smell. All this is done in such an exquisite way that it slipped by, unnoticed, until a moment came and I felt as if I'd just woken up and the world around me began to sparkle.
Bravo, Jonathan, bravo.
I cannot rave about this book enough. If you loved Gregor and the fantastic world Suzanne Collins made in her books, if you loved Plain Kate by Erin Bow, then you will adore this story of Peter Nimble, the blind thief. There are books I love, books I tolerate, books I cannot stand - but every now and then I come across a book like this one where I feel privileged to be allowed to read and experience the story.
Thank you, Jonathan Auxier, for giving us this story....more
The Marked Son is an action-packed story focused around 17 year old Dylan and the “ghost”, Kera, who inhabits his dreams.Review originally posted here
The Marked Son is an action-packed story focused around 17 year old Dylan and the “ghost”, Kera, who inhabits his dreams. Dylan struggles, coping with a mother who will not stay in the same place long and goes through men like crazy and, eventually, ends up dumped into the lap of relatives he never knew existed.
Then things get crazy.
What I loved about this book was how much fun it was to finally be seeing things through the eyes of a male – and not just any male, a strong, decisive male who wasn’t wanting to shy away from things and was out to figure things out. I enjoyed the humor contained in the brief interactions he had with friends and I loved the passion Dylan exhibited when faced with some insurmountable odds.
The Marked Son is fast-paced and filled with all sorts of fights and a nicely-paced story, however there were some things that seemed to be a bit glossed over and made for a bit of clunky going, especially as the end drew near. I had a hard time accepting that Dylan was so capable right off the bad of channeling his powers, that he and Kera developed an “all-or-nothing” relationship that fast, and I was really confused as to what exactly went on in Kera’s world. So I guess mostly my issues were on the world and magic building in the book.
There didn’t seem to be any clear-cut explanation of the powers Dylan (and the others in Kera’s world) possessed. Nor was there really an explanation of how the world worked, what people used their powers for, etc. Just that there was a big, bad guy and he was going to take over. I understood that he was bad, but I didn’t really understand why. That’s what made me struggle with this story.
I’m sure I’ll check out the next one when it’s released, because it was interesting – just had issues with what I’ve mentioned. I did appreciate that the book was given a solid ending without a major cliffhanger as trilogy books are wont to have these days....more
Elisa is not your typical heroine. She likes to eat, and her figure shows it. She’s the second born girl, with an olOriginally posted at my blog here.
Elisa is not your typical heroine. She likes to eat, and her figure shows it. She’s the second born girl, with an older sister who has been trained to be a Queen. Elisa loves to read and is incredibly smart, but rarely gets to show that off due to a low self-esteem.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns begins with a wedding. Elisa’s wedding. She is being married to a King and sent away from her family on her 16th birthday, and so begins her adventures.
What I really appreciated about this book was, although Rae Carson went just a little overboard with Elisa’s “fat” figure (references to eating, to calling herself a ‘pig’, etc), she also made sure to give a fairly accurate picture of what it feels like to be large. The whispers and glances, even a wedding night – all made sense, especially during later events. I was worried that this would be one of those stories where the fat girl loses weight and all of the sudden everyone likes her, but Carson manages to skirt around that cliche and still maintain the integrity of the story.
There is a lot of religion on this book, it’s a world based around the premise of religion and of Elisa being the first “chosen-one” in about 100 years. It’s fascinating stuff, but also very, very religious so it was interesting to me to read a fantasy based so heavily on prayer.
I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I loved that, although there is love, it is not the central focus of the story, but rather Elisa’s growth and confidence is. The fantasy world was interesting, but could have been a little more fleshed out (with less prayer next time, please!) and I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series to see where Carson takes us next....more
I’m really conflicted on this book – because first of all, it read like a big-time Twilight rip-off, and second of all… I wOriginal review posted here
I’m really conflicted on this book – because first of all, it read like a big-time Twilight rip-off, and second of all… I was entertained by it. That entertainment means I’m not going to go all crazy in my review, because, frankly, there are quite a few reviews out there that do that for me.
However, I do want to say this – if you are an author looking to write a book to appeal to the young adult crowd, think long and hard before making an “instant” relationship happen between two teens. It’s unrealistic and it sets a really bad example and I don’t see it well received well at all in reading reviews and looking around the blogosphere (this is also in general, not just with this book – although it is guilty).
Now – I will admit I was fascinated by the magic system in this book, and aside from the relationships, everything else seemed pretty solid. The setting was fantastic, the group of friends plausible, and the writing pulled me in and kept me entertained, despite the lack of original story-line.
All that said, I cannot blame Fallon for taking inspiration from the Twilight books. They are a huge success. I think for those people who love the story, this book will be a great read for them, and for those who had some of the issues I had (the breaking of rules, the implausibility of parts of the Twilight story), you might actually enjoy this one more....more
Okay – I don’t know about you, but if my world were falling to pieces, the last thing I’d want to do is get all cuddly withOriginal review posted here
Okay – I don’t know about you, but if my world were falling to pieces, the last thing I’d want to do is get all cuddly with some guy. Eve, apparently, does not share that sentiment.
As I read this book all I could think about was just how selfish this girl is. She leaves people being like crazy, she thinks only of herself and when disasters happen she doesn’t even give those injured or killed by them the courtesy of mourning them. Yes, I understand the need to keep a story going but.. seriously? There’s some really hardcore stuff happening in this book and it’s just glossed over – and if there’s something I really don’t like, it’s characters being created just to be killed off.
I wish I could say glowing things about Eve, because the premise was interesting and I was really looking forward to it, but all this book is is a teenage love story with a dystopian/apocolyptic sheer covering over it....more
The Last Letter from Your Lover is an old-fashioned, classy type of romance book that had even me (who is thoroughly tired out when it comes to romancThe Last Letter from Your Lover is an old-fashioned, classy type of romance book that had even me (who is thoroughly tired out when it comes to romances) swooning and feeling the romance love.
With quiet, unassuming writing, Moyes tells a dual story, one a little more focused than the other, but both with characters that are loveable. Jenny Stirling wakes up in November 1960 in a hospital. She suffers from amnesia due to a head wound and is slowly introduced into her high society life - but finds that there is something missing, a hole in her life.
.. and so begins the story. Full of misses, crossed paths, and a theme that reminded me of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Last Letter from Your Lover is an homage to the written word when it comes to love. It celebrates writing, the writing of letters as an expression of love and shows just how stark the modern world is with its texts and emails. It made me long for a love affair in which I received letters like Jenny received.
Is there anything new in the story? Not really, but it doesn't really matter either, because the flow of the story and the characters and the writing make up for it. I do admit to being surprised a few times, and the author really strung me along because I was so longing for that perfect ending.
This is a gorgeous summer read and one worthy of putting on your list if you are looking for that bit of romance to spice up your reading life....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Incognito has a little bit of everything - romance, intrigue, beautiful descriptions of a turn of the century New YorkI thoroughly enjoyed this book. Incognito has a little bit of everything - romance, intrigue, beautiful descriptions of a turn of the century New York, mystery and is written in such a beautiful way that it feels as if you are just floating through the story.
I honestly didn't know what to expect when I started reading Incognito. I began around 10pm at night, knowing I'd need to get to sleep within the hour and finally put the book down around 1am, and only then with much regret. I'd been drawn into the story through descriptions, through the dialogue and through the development of some of the most subtly colorful characters I've had the opportunity to read about in quite some time.
William is a lawyer from a well-to-do, upper crust New York family and he is married to one of the most beautiful women in the city. His life begins to change, however, when he is given the assignment to make an offer to purchase property from a Miss Sybil Curtin for one of his firms most powerful clients. Nothing is as it seems when young Sybil refuses him and he begins to investigate, knowing deep down that something is amiss.
Oh the twists and turns this story takes. I don't want you to think, however, that it is a story of excitement, a thriller that will have your gripping your book - because it isn't. It's quiet, unassuming but demands your attention until you have the very last answer and the characters are finally given exactly what they deserve, be that good or evil.
Incognito is the perfect summer read and one I will be recommending every chance I get....more
With all the stories of vampires, werewolves, angels, demons and witches/warlocks out there - of course the time of the mermaid was bound to come.
I'vWith all the stories of vampires, werewolves, angels, demons and witches/warlocks out there - of course the time of the mermaid was bound to come.
I've read a few mermaid novels in the past year or so, and Lost Voices has to be the best of the bunch, but that said, it still lacks that extra umph I was hoping for.
Sarah Porter does a beautiful job with crafting a thought-out version of mermaid lore. Gone are the beautiful mermaids in The Little Mermaid a la Disney and, instead, here are mermaids that are more like the ones in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
How do they get that way?
Through intense pain and struggle. Each of the mermaids in this tribe has been abused and now they have formed a band of beautiful girls living under the ocean waters. But for Luce, there's an issue. She cannot bring herself to hate mankind because of the love she had for her father.
Oh, and there is a lot of singing.
The singing is actually what made the book for me. Sarah Porter did a beautiful job describing the sounds, the practice and the results of the songs. The scenes in which the mermaids sing are exquisitely written and I loved them so very much - but they made the dialogue and the juvenile descriptions of the girls interaction that much more painful.
Overall, the book seemed to be a jumbled bit of a mess, background stories tossed in here and there when absolutely necessary, an entire group of girls brought into the story for.. what purpose, I'm not sure. A Queen Bitch added in and a struggle between Luce and her "best" friend that switched around so often I felt like I was getting whiplash just from reading it.
I don't know if I'll pick up the book to follow this one (and it's plainly obvious there will be another). If I do, it'd just be to see if the writing has improved on the character interaction level. I know Porter is capable of doing it - those musical passages in the book really did leave me breathless....more
It really is impossible to write a review of A Dance with Dragons without reflecting on the wait any fan of GRRM had to endure to get this book into hIt really is impossible to write a review of A Dance with Dragons without reflecting on the wait any fan of GRRM had to endure to get this book into his or her hands. For years we've been waiting on this book, the other half to A Feast for Crows, and, while it certainly gave more of what we've come to expect of Martin, it also failed to answer many questions that we've had years to dream up.
I've never read a book quite so thick before and come away as dissatisfied as I am right now. Most of that dissatisfaction stems from a fear of having to wait another 5-6 years before given more of the story - and that's a really long time and many, many books between. There were deaths in A Dance with Dragons, rebirths, kings seated and unseated, villains punished (or were they?), factions changed and many other things that occur, yet the ramifications will not be known for quite some time. So, rather than providing us with answers after several years of wait, we're merely left with more questions.
That said, there was one scene in the book that finally provided me with something, a mere scene, that I'd been waiting for. It involves Queen Dany and... it was worth the wait. I was also pleased to note that a few others that played such a large part in A Feast for Crows were included in A Dance with Dragons (as I'd begun it thinking that they would have little to no part at all), and I was happy to finally see what happened to some of my favorites (Jon Snow and Tyrion).
I am still processing this book and, upon re-reading it next year, will probably write a whole different review, but as of right now I can say this - I'm fully satisfied with the story contained within A Dance with Dragons - provided the book following it does not make me wait another several years....more
I made the mistake of actually "reading" Bloody Jack (the first book) and this time chose to listen to the audio after reading an incredible amount ofI made the mistake of actually "reading" Bloody Jack (the first book) and this time chose to listen to the audio after reading an incredible amount of ravings over Katherine Kellgren. Let me tell you right now, the ravings were spot on.
Kellgren makes these books come alive. I laughed, cried, hooted and hollared right along with Jacky as she navigated the perils of becoming a "fine lady". I felt her longing for Jacky, her confusion at the rules and regulations of this new place she called home. I wanted to spit on my hand and join the Dread Sisterhood and to scheme along with her as she plotted to take down the evil Reverend.
While I certainly enjoyed reading the previous book, it did not come alive nearly as much as this book did. I'm NOT an audio book fan, normally - I like to read at my own pace and get impatient when I have to wait for someone else to get to the "good parts", but Katherine made every part of this book the "good part". I'm raving here - but her enthusiasm, spirit, accents, singing talents (the songs came alive so beautifully), emotion and just.. love shone through.
I'm a huge fan of these books now. This audiobook converted me and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to listen to a fantastic story - especially if you are wanting to entertain an entire car full of folk on trips. I cannot even imagine how much fun it would have been to listen to this in a group!
It's nearly impossible to talk just about the story and not about the audiobook, because they became one and the same - but I will say this. I found the story in The Curse of the Blue Tattoo to be filled with adventure, colorful characters, just a touch of improbability (The Lady Lenore's maker was.. well, I did roll my eyes) and to be a fantastic account of the misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady....more
I’m really torn on how to write a review on this for one simple reason: this book is labeled and, according to the author,Original review posted here.
I’m really torn on how to write a review on this for one simple reason: this book is labeled and, according to the author, is a memoir. That means non-fiction, truths as told from the memories of the person writing the book. However, as a non-fiction book, it was.. outlandishly unbelievable.
Now, as a fictional book (or a book that is mostly fiction, or non-fiction events taken and made more sensational through fiction), the book was a hoot. I enjoyed it quite a bit! But, even while I was enjoying that book, I was enjoying it as a fictional story because, frankly, it was too unreal to be real.
The author takes many pains to assure her readers of her “elephant-like” memory throughout the book. I got the feeling that she was needing us to know this because the stuff in the book was just outlandish. I have no doubt that she met Marilyn Monroe, that she had numerous adventures with Roy (who was one of my favorite characters, by the way), that she hung out at her father’s store – although the whole “working at 4 years old” thing was… yeah, you’re getting the point.
I think what tipped me was two things, and rather than talk directly about them I’ll talk about them in the form of asking a question:
Would you send your pre-teen daughter unsupervised to New York, New York to stay with a strange family and compete in an athletic tournament? Do you really think a full-grown man (Jesuit) would let a 13 year old girl read, out loud, a full page and a half of one of the steamiest scenes in Lady Chatterly’s Lover – and not do ANYTHING to stop her?
Those two questions were the straw that broke the camels back for me with regards to viewing this book as pure non-fiction. There’s plenty more, but those bugged me the most, and in speaking at length about the book with my book club, we all agreed.
As fiction, the book worked great. As non-fiction, not so much....more
What is it about these stories set in India and why do they keep hooking me? Is it their beautiful covers? Their promise of something deep lurking witWhat is it about these stories set in India and why do they keep hooking me? Is it their beautiful covers? Their promise of something deep lurking within? The hope that such a sad story might possibly have a happy ending?
Whatever it is, I am so incredibly glad that I gave in to the urge and picked up The Girl in the Garden. This is not the typical sad, heavy story set against the backdrop of India. Yes, there is a touch of poverty, yes, the caste system is firmly in place - but instead of being thrown into the strange world and stranger people, I was taken gently by the hand and led through the story by the narrater, a woman now grown, telling the story of a summer spent in India with her mother and her family.
Like me, this narrator grew up in the United States. While she suffers from being made fun of for looking different, surrounded by the blonde-headed, blue-eyed kids in Minnesota, she possesses a strength of character, even at 10 years old, that gripped me and drug me along.
The Girl in the Garden starts with a simple letter, a letter to a man she is about to marry and accompanied by her wedding ring - because before she can get married, she needs to tell him her story and she needs to find an ending to that story back in India.
I seriously wept several times while reading this book. I kept turning the page, wanting and dreading answers, hoping against hope for a happy ending but unable to see how one could possibly come about, but I was wrong and this book surprised me in more ways then one.
Beautifully written, descriptions of gardens and places in India that actually had me longing to visit and a unique coming-of-age tale that left me satisfied and glowing with happiness. You can't ask for more than that....more
For the longest time, I got Animal Farm (the book) and Animal House (the movie) mixed up in my mind and thought they were one and the same - and so, IFor the longest time, I got Animal Farm (the book) and Animal House (the movie) mixed up in my mind and thought they were one and the same - and so, I held off reading the book because I didn't like the movie. (I know, I know, save your gasps for later).
So when I finally did get the two straightened out, I avoided reading Animal Farm because it was written by George Orwell and must, therefore, be boring because it was a classic and people kept saying I should read it. Mind you, I don't consider Jane Austen to be boring, so I'm not sure why I avoided Orwell.
Then, fairly recently, I hosted a read-along of George Orwell's 1984, and I found his writing to be completely approachable, easy to understand, enlightening, entertaining and .. well, fun. So I put Animal Farm on my short list to be read and, today, while going through my books, I decided to take the dive.
Animal Farm is a short, satirical story that's meant to portray communism clearly. And Orwell succeeds at that. It's important, or was for me at least, to understand that the animals are symbolic, and not to take the story as some type of fantasy in which animals can really walk, talk, read and create things like windmills. Once you get past all of that, the story really unfolds beautifully.
There's nothing I can add to my review of Animal Farm that hasn't been said by many, many more before my time, so I'd just like to apologize to George Orwell for mixing up Animal Farm with something like Animal House, to feel remorse for thinking that anything he could write would be dull and lifeless, and to walk away from reading this book with a more thorough understanding of why communism is frightening. ...more
I have rated Angel Burn right dead center of a 1-5 rating system. If I could, I'd rate the first half a good, solid 4 and the second half would waverI have rated Angel Burn right dead center of a 1-5 rating system. If I could, I'd rate the first half a good, solid 4 and the second half would waver between a 1 and a 2.
The first half of Angel Burn is filled with action, interesting characters, a really unique twist on "angel lore", and is fast-paced and just downright fun reading. It's not great literature, but it was fun and it had me reaching to pick up my book whenever I had a few spare minutes to read (and actually, it kept me up until a good two hours after when I should have been asleep last night).
But then, about halfway through the book - just about when the love interest really takes over the relationship between Alex and Willow, the book started to lose its edge. Between the realization that these two teenagers "love" each other, the convenient placement of skills and money (who rides around with that much money, seriously), the overuse of the term "half angel" (I think I counted it five times in two paragraphs), the "you" "no you" "no you" back and forth between Willow and Alex in their lovesickness moments... it all got to be too much. I felt as if Weatherly went from creating what could have been a very kickass story and fell in love with her own characters so much that she went into some daydream world and wrote out a story that, in all honesty, should have been kept in her own mind.
The result? A very unsatisfactory ending and one that really disappointed me. Even the climax, the moment we were all waiting for, was flooded with regrets, teenage angst and moments that had me rolling my eyes so violently that I gave myself a headache.
In short - great idea, great beginning, really crappy ending. I'd hoped for better....more
Hm. Well, this was an experiment that just did not work for me. When I saw the book listed in an offering from the fine folks at TLC Tours, I decidedHm. Well, this was an experiment that just did not work for me. When I saw the book listed in an offering from the fine folks at TLC Tours, I decided to take a chance, because I do like to challenge myself and try things that are out of my normal comfort zone. Earlier this year I read, and thoroughly enjoyed a non-fiction tale of a plane crash and I had hoped that I would have the same enjoyment from Fire Monks.
Unfortunately, for someone like me who knows next to nothing about Buddism, who has never heard of Tessajara and who knows nothing of the people in this story, this book did not work. Although it's apparent right from the start how much Colleen Morton Busch has invested in the story, in Tessajara and in the lives of those living there, to a stranger like me it came off as if I was standing in the background, listening to one stranger tell a friend or colleague of theirs this story. I just couldn't connect.
In spite of the lack of connection, I did receive some educational benefit from reading Fire Monks. It is very instructional, giving the reader an idea of what a Zen community is like, and it is very quiet and peaceful, despite the subject matter - which also gave me more of a taste of what it is like to live in a place such as Tessajara. Even with a fire bound for this place, with the chaos of the preparation and the upheaval of those who had to leave, there is a calm and peace about the story that, I think, had less to do with any sort of detachment from the subject material and more to do with the calm and peace Colleen Morton Busch has learned to embrace through her lifestyle.
I may not agree with everything that has to do with Buddism, but I do find peace and my own sense of enlightenment when I take the time to calm down, breathe deeply and focus on just one thing, and I admire the group of people discussed in this book for their bravery and their dedication when everything that was dear and precious to them was threatened....more
I’ll be honest, it took me a good 30 minutes or so of reading to really start getting into this story. The alternating narrOriginal review posted here
I’ll be honest, it took me a good 30 minutes or so of reading to really start getting into this story. The alternating narratives, the thought process of Emmy, the strange events (and you cannot help but know they are connected), took every minute of that time and really got my mind working.
Once I got everything straight, I began to see just where the beauty of this book lay. While I understood the outcome early on, this is more the story of getting to that point. That journey is so beautifully written that I could not help but feel as if I was not only acquainted with Emmy and Sophie – but that I was intimately involved with them – like they were sisters. I felt their pain, I felt their fear, and it was, quite frankly, more than a little scary.
I understand why this book is getting the buzz it’s getting in the book blogging community. It’s a subtle, straight-to-the-heart, story that has left me thinking about it days afterward....more
One of the things I enjoy most about being on book tours is discovering authors I might not have been exposed to otherwise. I've seen Dorothea BentonOne of the things I enjoy most about being on book tours is discovering authors I might not have been exposed to otherwise. I've seen Dorothea Benton Frank's name before, but never considered that these books might be something I'm interested in. A series of steps led up to me asking to be on this tour - most of those steps involving an introduction of some sort to southern literature, and the final culmination being that I am, hands down, a fan of it. Beth Hoffman, Rebecca Rasmussen, Sarah Addison Allen, Kathryn Magendie - all names of authors who have thrilled me, taught me to love this easy-going, sweet, magical style and now I'll be adding Dorothea Benton Frank to the list.
Folly Beach is book number #8 in the Lowcountry Tales series. I haven't read books 1-7 (and have already started to request them from Paperback Swap) but it didn't make a lick of difference, because this book had me hook, line and sinker with the opening act of the play involving the Heywards, Gershwin, and The Porgy House. Frank did a beautiful job of weaving the story around each act of the play, and kept me completely mesmerized and in love with both sets of characters - that of Dorothy Heyward and Cate Cooper.
Now, in the interest of full honesty, there were a few parts that were so obvious, and worked out so conveniently well that I did roll my eyes a little bit - but just a little bit, because I was too happy at the progression of the story and loved the characters so much that I wanted the best for them, even if it was predictable.
This is the perfect beach-time, summer read. The only thing that was missing while I read Folly Beach was the sound of the ocean, the warmth of the sun on my legs and a drink at my side, complete with little umbrella....more
It took all of 10 minutes for me to be caught up in Maggie Blair's story in The Betrayal of Maggie Blair. Right away, I knew this would be a tale I'dIt took all of 10 minutes for me to be caught up in Maggie Blair's story in The Betrayal of Maggie Blair. Right away, I knew this would be a tale I'd have difficulty setting down, and I devoured it in a single, long afternoon of reading (and what a joy that was).
I'm a big fan of girls with a spine, those able to take care of themselves and not needing to do the predictable (marry, sell themselves out in someway, etc). Maggie Blair faces trials like crazy - from being tried along with her grandmother for being a witch, to escaping and living dangerously in a time where British soldiers roamed Scotland and the Scottish were rebelling against the King being named the head of the Church rather than God.
Elizabeth Laird does a fantastic job of bringing this story to life and providing her reader with enough action to keep the interest level high, a fantastic villain who anyone would love to hate, and a main character who I could not only identify with, but also felt good cheering on with every decision she made.
I'm adding this to my list of books graced with strong-willed, adventurous female protagonists and will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Elizabeth Laird....more
I’m going to jump on the Cricket bandwagon. I. loved. him.
However, I do not love his name. Cricket, Stephanie? Why Cricket?Original review posted here
I’m going to jump on the Cricket bandwagon. I. loved. him.
However, I do not love his name. Cricket, Stephanie? Why Cricket? And here I thought you couldn’t get worse than Etienne St. Clair. I mean, you have these awesome, traditional, if somewhat old-fashioned, girls names with Anna and Lola.. but what is going on with the boy names?! It’s just so hard to take a guy named Cricket seriously.
Speaking of Anna and St. Clair – LOVE the cameo’s here.
So the things I didn’t agree with, or that gave me a bad feeling from Anna and her story were still a bit present in this one. I’m not sure why these stories need to have an element of breaking hearts through the whole flirting-with-cheating storyline, but I am really hoping the third companion book to these will see an end to that little bit. I didn’t like it in Glee Season 1, I don’t like it here.
But I do love everything else. I love Lola’s sense of fashion, her two dads, her family dynamics, the tension with Calliope, the best friend, the gorgeous boy next door, the history between them … I could go on and on, but most of all it boils down to just digging with Stephanie Perkins does to make what might otherwise be a hum-drum, teenage story into something like a party in between the pages.
Because that’s what this book is. It’s a book party. It makes me happy, giddy, and feel like I”m 16 years old again.
If you loved Anna, you are gonna love this book. You haven’t read either of them? Then get off your butt and do so! Libraries, book stores, and friends (I’m sure) will have them laying about, so fix it!...more
You know the cliche, "my teeth are hurting, that was so sweet"? That fits this bookCute. Cute, cute, cute.
By the way, Anna and the French Kiss = Cute.
You know the cliche, "my teeth are hurting, that was so sweet"? That fits this book perfectly. I think it gave me several cavities in the few hours it took for me to devour it, and yes - I devoured it.
Sweet, real, funny (Oh so funny - laugh out loud funny), filled with perfect puppy-love, romantic atmosphere (can you get any more romantic than Paris?), friends, struggles, relationship drama, high school drama, boarding school drama.. you name it, this book had it.
I've heard so much hype over the last several months about how perfect this book is, and while I agree that it was pretty darn close to perfect, I can't say that I necessarily LOVED IT AND MUST SWOON OVER ETIENNE. Because I can't - there was just a few too many cliched moments for me. However, I did find it absolutely adorable and a cut above the other books out there trying to capture that first "real" love moment. Despite his horrible name (Etienne St. Claire... really?) Etienne was a likeable guy with issues that were pretty darn real. Anna also struggled with some very familiar feelings - being away from home, learning lessons on forgiveness and on how to be independent. Anna and the French Kiss gently speaks about these issues while coating them into a delicious candy coating, filled with descriptions of Paris that had me longing to visit and descriptions of a romance that was just too. darn. cute.
I'll be checking out Stephanie Perkins next book, to be certain. I enjoy a good, fluffy young adult novel every now and then and this definitely hit the spot. ...more