March 2012Monthly Archives

Clair de Lune by Jetta Carleton

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Reason for Reading:
  • It’s a long-lost novel – how could I not be intrigued?

I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

The time: 1941, at the cusp of America’s entry into World War II. The place: southwest Missouri, on the edge of the Ozark Mountains. A young single woman named Allen Liles has taken a job as a junior college teacher in a small town, although she dreams of living in New York City, of dancing at recitals, of absorbing the bohemian delights of the Village. Then she encounters two young men: George, a lanky, carefree spirit, and Toby, a dark-haired, searching soul with a wary look in his eyes. Soon the three strike up an after-school friendship, bantering and debating over letters, ethics, and philosophy—innocently at first, but soon in giddy flirtation—until Allen and one of the young men push things too far, and the quiet happiness she has struggled so hard to discover is thrown into jeopardy.

My Review:

This book charmed the pants off of me. Not literally, but you get what I’m saying.

I found an instant connection with Allen Liles -her love of reading, her passion for teaching. Set in a time period that boasts of innocence we’ve lost today, Clair de Lune also deals with adult themes that threaten the charming atmosphere of the book in a way that provides just the right amount of tension without overpowering the story.

Honestly, I felt like I was transported back into the world of my grandparents. Jetta Carleton, having lived through this time period, was so vivid in her descriptions and her characters had such an incredible voice that I couldn’t help but get lost in the story. I devoured this one so quickly and as soon as I put it down, knew that it was a keeper.

It’s not often I want to re-read books again as soon as I finish them, but I wanted to with Clair de Lune. If time had allowed… but perhaps it will another day soon.


About the Author

  • Information regarding Jetta Carleton:

Jetta Carleton (1913-1999) was born in Holden, Missouri, and earned a master’s degree at the University of Missouri. She worked as a schoolteacher, a radio copywriter in Kansas City, and a television advertising copywriter in New York City, and she ran a small publishing house with her husband in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
For more reviews on Clair de Lune by Jetta Carleton, please follow the book tour.

 

 

Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream

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Reason for Reading:
  • There’s something about the name Clementine – it always hooks me.

I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

A fresh, fun, totally addictive debut–by turns hilarious and tragic–by a gifted new writer, Losing Clementine follows a famous artist as she attempts to get her messy affairs in order en route to her eventual planned suicide a month later. First time author Ashley Ream takes a usually macabre subject and makes it accessible, relatable, and funny, and, in Clementine, has created one of the most endearing and unforgettable characters in recent fiction.

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It seems like such a morbid subject – I mean, Clementine is an artist who starts the book out with the planning of her own suicide. We meet her after she’s already completely given up – yet the sense of humor infused into the voice of the character is engaging, and even addicting.

I’ve not always been a big fan of women’s fiction. Sometimes it seems as if it’s seeking to pull tears out of nothing, stabbing here and there with a tender subject, hoping to provoke a reaction in the reader. Clementine succeeded in getting a rise out of me – for different emotions, and that is what really makes this book one that was enjoyable.


About the Author

For more reviews on Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream, please follow the book tour.

 

 

Same Sun Here by Silas House & Neela Vaswani

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Reason for Reading:
  • I’m always on the lookout for interesting looking middle-grade novels.

I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

Meena and River have a lot in common: fathers forced to work away from home to make ends meet, grandmothers who mean the world to them, and faithful dogs. But Meena is an Indian immigrant girl living in New York City’s Chinatown, while River is a Kentucky coal miner’s son. As Meena’s family studies for citizenship exams and River’s town faces devastating mountaintop removal, this unlikely pair become pen pals, sharing thoughts and, as their camaraderie deepens, discovering common ground in their disparate experiences. With honesty and humor, Meena and River bridge the miles between them, creating a friendship that inspires bravery and defeats cultural misconceptions. Narrated in two voices, each voice distinctly articulated by a separate gifted author, this chronicle of two lives powerfully conveys the great value of being and having a friend and the joys of opening our lives to others who live beneath the same sun.

My Review:

One of my favorite writing method is through letters – and that style of heavily capitalized on in Same Sun Here.

The story of two completely different worlds – the midwest and the east coast, two completely different homes, lifestyles, and ideas come together in this story that paints an interesting, engrossing picture for middle-grade readers.

As much as I loved learning about the backgrounds of each of the characters in this book there was one aspect I could have done without – the heavy political posturing.

There was so much information about our last election that it really turned me off – almost as if the authors chose to take this book and make it a platform for converting their readers to their frame of mind. It was just over the top and too much for me, and it makes me sad because it took what might have otherwise been a great educational tool, and instead turned into it into a political message.

Don’t just take my word for it! Check out what these bloggers say!

A Patchwork of Books

Youth Services Book Review

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

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Reason for Reading:
  • Required reading for my American Lit class.

Summary from GoodReads:

First published in 1903, this extraordinary work not only recorded and explained history, it helped to alter its course. Written after Du Bois had earned his Ph.D. from Harvard and studied in Berlin, these 14 essays contain both the academic language of sociology and the rich lyrics of African spirituals, which Du Bois called “sorrow songs”.

My Review:

One of the toughest, most interesting non-fiction reads I’ve experienced.

The Souls of Black Folk was required reading for me this year – although the class only dealt with five or so chapters, I was so intrigued by what I was reading that I had to finish the entire book.

Each essay provided plenty of food for thought – but most interesting to me was the essay on the education of former slaves – what was appropriate and what was not. This is a part of history that really hasn’t been part of my education, and not only did I find it enlightening, historically speaking, I also found it to be relevant today – for all types.

With our focus on getting straight into college after high school (and my experience with some siblings that just doesn’t work for), I think what Du Bois has to say is incredibly insightful. Not every person is cut out for a life of academia after high school, and specialized training is there for a reason. As I attend school, and each semester say goodbye to more and more friends who just, for whatever reason, are not coming back, I find myself thinking more about the ideas that Du Bois so eloquently writes down.

I recommend this reading. I think everyone should read it – and I challenge you to do so.

Don’t just take my word for it! Check out what these bloggers say!

A Novel Review

Notes from the North

Allegiance by Cayla Kluver

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Reason for Reading:
  • I thoroughly enjoyed Legacy by Cayla Kluver.

I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

He couldn’t help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return.  …Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn’t truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica—until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn…

My Review:

I’m in love with this series.

Cayla Kluver has written a world that is complex, interesting, filled with great characters and tension and I’m astonished that she was able to do this at her age in a way that was not at all noticeable.

In my review of Legacy, I mentioned that I read the story before I knew anything about this author, but I found in reading Allegiance that even knowing what I do know about Kluver now, it didn’t make an ounce of different. Instead, I found myself completely lost in a world that I would have loved to be the creator of.

My biggest issue with these stories, and I do think this is a youth thing, is the lack of feminine power held by Alera – but it’s balanced by the opposing kingdom – the Cokyrians. It’s hard to explain – just.. trust me, even if the book starts to annoy you with its lack of feminine power keep giving it a shot, because the ending will not disappoint.

Don’t just take my word for it! Check out what these bloggers say!

The Reader Bee

Hippies, Beauty and Books!

Pure by Julianna Baggott

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Reason for Reading:
  • Fantastic cover.

I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

My Review:

This is not a book for the faint of heart.

That said, I would not recommend this one to teenagers lightly – the story is bleak, yes – but it’s the strangeness of the world that gave me a bit of a heeby-jeeby feeling.

The premise is an interesting one – dealing more with a post-apocalyptic type of world rather than a dystopian society. People have fused with whatever they were doing at the time of the world “ending” – others have escaped within the dome, but are dealing with issues of their own.

The story arc is an ambitious one, and I was skeptical at first of the story being able to handle everything that needed to happen, but Julianna Baggott did a good job of juggling everything well enough to not only keep the story moving at a good pace, but also making sure her readers won’t get lost in the meantime.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I found it to be a mature one, with writing that pander to the reader and treat him/her as if they are stupid. That’s a big plus for me. Also, it did not read like it was formulaic, another huge plus.

Recommended for fans of Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.

Don’t just take my word for it! Check out what these bloggers say!

Parajunkee

Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

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Reason for Reading:
  • I love reading about Russia and the Romanovs

I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family—including the headstrong Prince Alyosha. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s miraculous healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to Aloysha, who suffers from hemophilia, a blood disease that keeps the boy confined to his sickbed, lest a simple scrape or bump prove fatal.

Two months after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha grieve the loss of their former lives, finding solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, they tell stories—some embellished and some entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s many exploits, and the wild and wonderful country on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand.

My Review:

I desperately wanted to love this book. The cover, the Romanov’s, the tragedy of Russia during this time period – it should all add up to be heart-wrenchingly beautiful.. but it was lacking a bit for me.

There’s no doubt that Kathryn Harrison is a writer who commands attention – she had to have been otherwise I think I may have put the book down about halfway through. Instead, I persevered, muddling my way through fragments of stories until I reached the end. I think what it boiled down to was there were too many shifts, shifts of perspective/stories/time periods. I understand what Harrison was attempting to do, and give her high marks for taking on such a complicated subject, but I felt as if I was being stretched back and forth repeatedly while reading Enchantments until I was just wrung tight, worn out, and exhausted by merely reading the book.

I’ve read another book about Rasputin’s daughter, one by Robert Alexander, and the story was completely different – so I appreciated the perspective put forth in this book (did you know Rasputin’s daughter joined a circus? I had no idea!). I think if you are a fan of Russian history, and have a love for stories about the Romanov’s, this is a book that will interest you – but I recommend it with a warning: just be prepared to feel like a bit of a patchwork quilt has been read.


About the Author

  • Information regarding Kathryn Harrison:

For more reviews on Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison, please follow the book tour.

 

 

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

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Reason for Reading:
  • I’m a huge fan of Maisie Dobbs.

I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

t’s Christmas Eve 1931. On the way to see a client, Maisie Dobbs witnesses a man commit suicide on a busy London street. The following day, the prime minister’s office receives a letter threatening a massive loss of life if certain demands are not met—and the writer mentions Maisie by name. After being questioned and cleared by Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane of Scotland Yard’s elite Special Branch, she is drawn into MacFarlane’s personal fiefdom as a special adviser on the case. Meanwhile, Billy Beale, Maisie’s trusted assistant, is once again facing tragedy as his wife, who has never recovered from the death of their young daughter, slips further into melancholia’s abyss. Soon Maisie becomes involved in a race against time to find a man who proves he has the knowledge and will to inflict death and destruction on thousands of innocent people. And before this harrowing case is over, Maisie must navigate a darkness not encountered since she was a nurse in wards filled with shell-shocked men.

My Review:

I’m not much of a mystery reader – I’ll be the first to admit that, after reading mysteries for years, they become a bit predictable for me.

The exception to that, however, is a well-researched historical mystery, and Jacqueline Winspear offers this decadent, perfect combination of mystery, fantastic heroine, and historical accuracy that is hard to resist.

I’ve only read a few of the Maisie Dobbs stories (and oddly out of order, so don’t let not having #1 stop you from reading them!) and they are really, really easy to get into and very hard to put down. I feel like I’m cheating on my homework every time I picked this book up – even though my homework was done! just because I was enjoying myself so thoroughly.

I really enjoyed the plot of Among the Mad. I’m reviewing this for a book tour, and took a chance and let the tour host pick my title for me, and I am thoroughly pleased with how that Russian Roulette turned out.

If you haven’t experienced the Maisie Dobbs stories, I recommend you do so as soon as possible – even if you aren’t a mystery lover. I think you’ll find there’s a little bit of everything for everyone in these books.


About the Author

For more reviews on The Maisie Dobbs Tour, please follow the book tour.  Follow the #Maisie Twitter chats which are starting on 3/8 with Nancy Pearl

 

 

A Brief Pause

Don’t give up on me!  I’m swamped with mid-term papers and a recital preview and playing for a high school musical!

But reviews will be back on track soon – I have so many to write and next week is Spring Break!

New Girl by Paige Harbison

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Reason for Reading:
  • The blurb talks about Rebecca and I’m a sucker for boarding school stories.

I also recommend:

Summary from GoodReads:

They call me ‘New Girl‘…

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy. And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend…but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.

My Review:

I love Rebecca – how could I not? It’s mysterious, gothic, romantic… so much fun. So it goes to say, I was both apprehensive and excited when this title came across my desk.

I both loved and disliked New Girl. I thoroughly enjoyed the dual storytelling style (even through it frustrated the heck out of me at times), and I really enjoyed the “New Girls” story – but Becca.. my goodness, this is not a good example being set here! If anything – this story made me realize just how thoroughly inappropriate Rebecca might have been back in the day for certain ages.

But overall, I was entertained. It’s a boarding school story, and there’s just something about the mysteries of boarding school that make books about them get their tentacles on you and refuse to let you go. That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t put it down – not because it’s great literature or anything, but because I was so entertained I didn’t want to end the source of the entertainment.

Don’t just take my word for it! Check out what these bloggers say!

Paperback Treasures

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