October 2010Monthly Archives

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

Sheila from One Person’s Journey through a World of Books hosts this meme and I love to participate in it! Head on over and check out her blog and the great participants there.

The votes are tallying up.. (well, as much as they can tally…) so vote, vote, vote for November’s read-along book! I’ll make the announcement on November 1st!

I was really sad to learn that, despite desperately wanting to read it, I couldn’t get access to Draw the Dark.  For some reason, my Adobe wouldn’t convert it and my Kindle couldn’t either. This made me sad. =(

Books I’ve read this week (Links to reviews):

  1. Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin
  2. Gateway by Sharon Shinn
  3. The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
  4. Jane by April Lindner
  5. 1984 by George Orwell
  6. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Book reviews posted this week:

None other than those posted above. (Need to get a bit of a cushion back!)

Books to read this week:

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (reread)

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Heart with Joy by Steve Cushman

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan

The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

As you can see, an interesting mix.  What are you reading this week?

1984 by George Orwell

Order from:
Reason(s) for Reading:
  • This was October’s Read-Along book.
  • I’ve heard people talking about it, but had absolutely no idea what the fuss was about.
I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

Portrays a terrifying vision of life in the future when a totalitarian government, considered a “Negative Utopia,” watches over all citizens and directs all activities, becoming more powerful as time goes by.

My Review:

It’s always a bit daunting to me to write a review of a “classic” book.  I mean, a simple google search will provide all sorts of information and scholarly thoughts about the story held in the pages of 1984.

So instead of trying to explore the deeper meaning, let me talk about the things that really hit me hard.

- I had no idea that Big Brother came from this book.  I’ve grown up hearing the term bandied about, but never really understood where it came from and what it referred to.  I know now, and it frightens me.

- I think the most potent part of the book was, for me, the end of Part One.  When Winston opens a note passed to him and reads what is written there, I felt as it my heart skipped a beat because, of all the possibilities, that was one I was not expecting.

- What was most frightening to me was, as I was reading Goldstein’s writings held within the book, I found myself understanding why things were the way they were.  Things began to make sense – this in a book that made no sense to me when I first started it.

- All my dystopian reading I think prepared me for this book.  If I had read it a few years ago, I might not have appreciated it as much as I appreciate it now.  I totally get that there are those out there who didn’t like it, but I really enjoyed the stimulation to think it provided me.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Check out these review(s):

Chrisbookarama

A Bookshelf Monstrosity

Cross-Bloggination with Gwen from Chew & Digest Books

It isn’t often that a book can bring back warm memories, make me hug loved ones, want to hug the author and her husband, then cry like a baby. In fact, I can’t say that it has ever happened until I read Julita’s Sands: A Memoir by Emily Placido.

Wait, for you to understand just how powerful this book was I have to tell you about my grandfather. My grandfather, Clarence, was probably like a lot of other grandpas in the world, but to me, he was the coolest guy ever.

I will try to make a long story short. (something that, if you know me, is akin to saying that I will now control the weather) My grandfather had Alzheimer’s. While it is a horrible disease and was a huge blow to all of us, especially my grandmother, the first few years I now look back on as the best gift he ever gave me.

You see, he couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast, but he could remember thing that happened 70 years ago like it was yesterday. I spent quite a bit of time with him and on our walks I got to learn things about his childhood and college years that I know that no one else in the family ever knew.

It was revelatory to see my grandpa as a person, not just as the old person that let me eat ice cream even though I hadn’t eaten all of my veggies. History came alive, not just family history, but the entire 20th century. After all, he was born in 1904, we are talking the history of radio, television, electricity in homes, cars, the whole shebang, he witnessed.

It was a gift to be with him, just as Emily Placido found when she moved her mother, suffering from dementia, into her home. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all childhood stories and ice cream, there are break downs and diapers too.

Still, when you truly love someone, you take the good with the bad. So many of us will walk in Placido’s shoes, taking care of our elderly parents and grandparents. Few, however, will write an entertaining and loving tribute like she has done for her mother with Julita’s Sands.

I haven’t even posted my review yet on Chew & Digest, so stay tuned for more, including an interview with Emily Placido herself.

————-

For more Cross-Bloggination Posts visit Gwen at Chew & Digest and Danielle at There’s a Book! Thank you, Gwen!

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson

Order from:
Reason(s) for Reading:
  • I’ve been looking for some quality Middle Grade books.
  • In spite of the animal theme, I decided to give this a go due to all of the gushing I’ve been hearing about it.
I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

After three young wizard apprentices are kidnapped by the evil queen of a distant land, it is up to their familiars, their magical animal companions — a street smart alley cat, a precocious blue jay, and a bumbling tree frog — to save them.

My Review:

Okay – so I’m not a fan of books where animals speak and the story generally revolves around animals (and no, I never read that Warrior series).  I used to love the movies centering around animals as a kid (Hello, Homeward Bound and Beethoven), but outgrew them in my teenage years.

Then The Familiars made it’s way through the blogosphere.. well, I would say.. burst its way instead of made its way.  I’m seeing this book everywhere.  My dislike of animal books kept me from outright buying it.. but now that I’ve read my library’s copy I’m thinking I may just have to make the investment.

This is the best middle grade book I’ve read in a while., ranking up there with the Gregor series and the Ranger’s Apprentice series (which I love, love, love).  The story could have been corny – I mean, we’re talking about a cat, a tree frog and a blue jay here – but it worked.  And I loved said tree frog.  He made the book for me.  I’m still cackling with laughter over some of his lines.

If you have a middle schooler, definitely get this book for him or her to read.  She will devour it, and you will too.  Fun, fun story and I can’t wait for the next one!

I also have a special message here from Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson!

———————————

We are also having a special Familiars-themed Halloween Scavenger Hunt! At each stop along the blog tour, we will be asking a trivia question from our book. After you fill in your answer, the letter that falls in the place of the * can be placed in the corresponding number of the larger puzzle. So for example, since this is question number 24, the letter that lands in the space where the * is can be filled in where the 24 is in the larger puzzle. The larger puzzle will form yet another clue, and anyone who answers it correctly will be entered into a drawing for an autographed book as well as a few other Halloween treats!

Be sure to visit The Familiars blog at thefamiliars.blogspot.com to find links to all other blog stops and find out where to send in your answers! All entries must be entered by November 15.

24. What color are Aldwyn’s eyes?

_*_ ___ ___ ___ ___

Hint: Chapter Two, Page 31

11    5    18    8    15    1       9            7    19    14    23    2    25    16    10    12    20

__  __  __  __  __    __  ‘  __        __    __   __   __   __    __    __    __   __   __

17    3    22    6          21     4   24   13

__  __  __   __         __  __  __  __

www.thefamiliars.com (official website)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0djEE4OzdQ (book trailer)

Happy Halloween everyone!

Andrew & Adam


Gateway by Sharon Shinn

Order from:
Reason(s) for Reading:
  • I’ve read everything Sharon Shinn has written and I love her style of writing for young adults.
  • I seem to be on an Asian kick lately – so why not alternate realities centered around China?
I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

As a Chinese adoptee in St. Louis, teenage Daiyu often feels out of place. When an elderly Asian jewelry seller at a street fair shows her a black jade ring—and tells her that “black jade” translates to “Daiyu”—she buys it as a talisman of her heritage. But it’s more than that; it’s magic. It takes Daiyu through a gateway into a version of St. Louis much like 19th century China. Almost immediately she is recruited as a spy, which means hours of training in manners and niceties and sleight of hand. It also means stealing time to be with handsome Kalen, who is in on the plan. There’s only one problem. Once her task is done, she must go back to St. Louis and leave him behind forever. . . .

My Review:

If you haven’t read Sharon Shinn’s YA works, I recommend them.  What I love most about Shinn is her books, while sometimes involving romance, never center around that romance.  There’s no predictable endings and the characters always face complex issues.  While Gateway isn’t as good as The Safe-Keeper’s Secret was, it still has plenty of strength on its own.

Daiyu is the adoptive daughter of a couple who was unable to have a child of their own.  Adopted from China and brought over to the States when she was a baby, she knows very little of China and has never been to visit it.  Now a teenager, she is a hard worker and looking to go to college soon – that is, until she stumbles across a “gateway” to another reality, a reality in which China discovered the United States.

St. Louis is renamed, the landmarks we all know are gone, and the largest minority are Caucasians.  But evil still exists – and it’s against that evil that Daiyu has to figure out where she stands and what decisions she needs to make regarding her future.

This was a very easy book to read, the story flowed well and Sharon Shinn’s development was great, as always.  It seemed a little stilted in parts, however, almost like she was writing for an audience younger than the subject matter would normally speak to – but overall I had a blast with Gateway and will be recommending it.

Check out these review(s):

Bookworming in the 21st Century

1984 by George Orwell Read-Along – Part 3

Reading Schedule:

It’s that time! Time for the second portion October Read-Along to start.  Be sure to vote on the sidebar for November’s read-along! I didn’t get any suggestions, so pulling from my normal list for November – but you can still leave comments with suggestions for December’s read-along!

This weeks schedule is the following:

Continue reading »

Jane by April Lindner

Order from:
Reason(s) for Reading:
  • I have had a love affair with Jane and Mr. Rochester since my age was in the single digits.
  • Raving reviews have had me picking up this book at B&N – I finally caved in and bought it.
I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there’s a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane’s much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

My Review:

Um, hello April Lindner.  You might just be my new favorite person.

Let me stop gushing a minute and start this review.  Before I start though, I should let you all know that I started this book when I went to bed at 10pm last night.  I read until about 2:30am.  I went to sleep just after an infamous spooky scene that bore strong resemblances to the original Jane Eyre.  I woke up at 5am to a crash (it was thunder) but I couldn’t see outside and thought for sure there was a crazy woman in my room.  Since I was awake.. and had my light on.. I dove right back into the book and finished it at 8am this morning.

I savored.. no, that’s not right, I got drunk on every single word.  If you are a fan of Jane Eyre, you might be like me and be a bit hesitant to pick this book up.  I mean, modern re-telling?  Rock star? Serious?  But y’all, it worked.  April Lindner didn’t give us some hokey rock-star, teenage wanna-be in Jane, what she gave us is a seriously flawed, adult, real character for Mr. Rochester… and Jane, she was perfect. That’s all I’ll say.

Everything worked – and if you are like me and are a bit hesitant to rush out and buy a book by a debut author, especially when you know it’s a retelling of a favorite story, then let me encourage you to at least check it out from the library, enter the contests giving it away or just be like me and take the plunge and buy it!

Check out these review(s):

Lucy was Robbed

Erika Breathes Books

Tempting Persephone

Librarified

Song of the Dragon by Tracy Hickman

Song of the Dragon by Tracy Hickman
Order from:
Reason(s) for Reading:
  • I saw the cover while “shopping for library books” at B&N and wanted to check it out.
  • I love dragons.  Seriously, dragons and elves, how can you go wrong?
I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

Once humans had magic and an alliance with dragons. Now they and the other races have been enslaved by the Rhonas Empire-the elves-and can’t even remember the world the way it used to be. But thanks to the intervention of one determined dwarf and the human slave warrior known as Drakis, all of that is about to change.

My Review:

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the following words I get goosebumps and a fluttery feeling in my stomach: dragons, elves, chimera, manticore, gnomes, dwarves and magic.

… Okay, so maybe I get that because I’m just a nerd.

But I can’t help it! I mean, I grew up on Fantasy – from as early as I can remember I was fed The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  I dreamed about furry-footed little beings and fantastical scenarios!  So when I see what looks to be a good fantasy – I jump on it!

Lately I’ve been reading for my fantasy fixes some old authors, Tolkien being one of them, and some new-to-me-authors, Michael Sullivan and Brandon Sanderson.  Now I’m adding Tracy Hickman to that mix and wondering how in the world I didn’t start reading his books earlier!

In the interest of full disclosure though, I will tell you that it takes a while for this story to get started.  I was a bit confused with all the strange names and concepts, but once everything clicked the story really moved and I was drawn in and devouring every little scene.  This book had it all.  Traitors? Check. Really mean bad guys? Check.  Annihilation of entire races? Check. Slavery? Check. The little guy rising above it all? Double-check!

If you are in the mood for a good fantasy, this one will do it. However, it’s the first in a series.. and the rest aren’t out yet, so be warned!

Check out these review(s):

Crusade Against Boredom

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

Sheila from One Person’s Journey through a World of Books hosts this meme and I love to participate in it! Head on over and check out her blog and the great participants there.

The Read-Along of George Orwell’s 1984 is going strong – still time to get in on the discussion!  Watch for a poll this week to see what choices we have for November!

Last Sunday I did not put up one of these posts because I was… at Disneyworld! So getting caught up with this post and looking forward to a fun week of reading.

Books I’ve Read these past two weeks (Links to reviews):

  1. For the Win by Cory Doctorow
  2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Macguire
  4. Dewey’s Nine Lives by Vicky Myron
  5. Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith
  6. Fated by S.G. Browne
  7. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  9. The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne MacDonnell
  10. Song of the Dragon by Tracy Hickman

Book reviews posted this week:

  1. None other than those listed above

Books to read this week:

Jane by April Lindner


Gateway by Sharon Shinn

(SO EXCITED for this one!!)

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Heart with Joy by Steve Cushman

Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick

Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

As you can see, an interesting mix.  What are you reading this week?

The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell

Order from:
Reason(s) for Reading:
  • I spotted this book in Barnes and Noble and .. the cover made me want to read it.
  • I’m a sucker for historical books centered around music.
I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

It is 1903. Dr. Ravell is a young Harvard-educated obstetrician with a growing reputation for helping couples conceive. He has treated women from all walks of Boston society, but when Ravell meets Erika – an opera singer whose beauty is surpassed only by her spellbinding voice – he knows their doctor-patient relationship will be like none he has ever had.

After struggling for years to become pregnant, Erika believes there is no hope. Her mind is made up: she will leave her prominent Bostonian husband to pursue her career in Italy, a plan both unconventional and risky. But becoming Ravell’s patient will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Lush and stunningly realized, The Doctor and the Diva moves from snowy Boston to the jungles of Trinidad to the gilded balconies of Florence. This magnificent debut is a tale of passionate love affairs, dangerous decisions, and a woman’s irreconcilable desires as she is forced to choose between the child she has always longed for and the opera career she cannot live without. Inspired by the author’s family history, the novel is sensual, sexy, and heart-stopping in its bittersweet beauty.

My Review:

It’s always amazing to me when I read a book that accurately reflects circumstances in my own life.  But.. I’m getting ahead of myself here.

First of all, this book, is lavish, beautiful, sweeping, haunting, lush and sensual.  There’s no mystery and within the first few pages you know exactly in which direction the story will head, but that does not detract from the story at all.  I hungrily devoured each page, wanting to know exactly what would become of each player, from Erika – the beautiful opera singer to Dr. Ravell, the haunted, emotional doctor to Peter, Erika’s enthusiastic husband.

Adrienne McDonnell writes beautifully and developed her characters well – but there was one thing that did not add up.  I understand the need to move the scene from the wintery Boston to Trinidad, but the methods with which McDonnell did so seemed hasty and a bit sloppily put together.  Once they reached Trinidad, however, things started flowing smoothly again.

I began the book thinking I would sympathize most with Erika and Dr. Ravell, but I found myself leaning more in the direction of Peter, the husband.  His real life circumstance is one that I can identify closely with, as it mirrors my own life, and, as a result, I found myself feeling resentful of Erika which interfered with my enjoyment of the last half of the book.  I think for someone who wasn’t living the life of Peter, the book would invoke sympathies on behalf of Erika and Dr. Ravell, but.. for me, it just stirred up some angry emotions.  That’s not to say I didn’t like The Doctor and the Diva, because I did – I read it all the way through and turned the pages quickly to get there, I just ended up being in the minority who did not sigh over the romance of Erika’s decisions and, instead, found her to be selfish and vain.

So bravo to Adrienne McDonnell for writing something that evoked such an emotional response from me.  If you are a historical fiction lover, this would definitely be something to put on your list.

Check out these review(s):

Booking Mama

Lovely Little Shelf

Take Me Away

Bear