Friday, February 24, 2012

Just For Fun Fridays - Anything

AnythingAnything
By: Michael Baron
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary
What if you got a chance to change the past? Would you take it?  This chance presents itself to Ken a week before his wedding to Melissa, the absolute love of his life. Going back and seeing her past, he is given the chance to erase her worst memory - make it so it never even happened. But doing so could change the present so completely that they would never have met. Should he take the chance? Would you?

My Thoughts:
It has been a few months since I have read a love story this well done. It shows not only the power of love but also the effects one person can have on multiple lives. The changes that occur for Ken throughout the novel are really interesting and got me thinking as to what changes I would have in my life had I made a few different choices.

Ken is a wonderful narrator for the story and keeps it moving at a nice pace. It is written in simple and classic prose very reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks. The supporting characters, of Stephon, Kate and Paul were all wonderful as well.

Overall I found it a very satisfying and quick read.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me a copy for review.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Must Read Monday - Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray
by: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 stars.


Summary from Goodreads:
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.



My Thoughts:
This is a book that everyone should read. It holds a story of survival and courage which until this point in time has been forgotten. It shows the many different types of bravery which can be shown by the human spirit when faces with unfathomable challenges.
Told through the point of Lina, a fifteen year old girl, it still manages to show the courage of her mother, and the pain of her neighbors. 


This novel doesn't skirt around the horrors done at this time. She accurately writes what she discovered about her own ancestry and does so in a way that is neither overly gruesome nor too gentle. She simply states the truth.  She does so with hope and with humanity which is what makes such a hard story readable. 


I loved the writing style, the prose was simple and sweet and I hope to be reading more from Sepetys in the future. I do urge those who have any interest in WWII to read this.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fantasy Friday - Stardust

StardustStardust
by Neil Gaiman
Genre - Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria--even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie--where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.


My Thoughts:
This was a story which I read a long time after being introduced to the movie of the same title. I loved the movie and I love the British writing style so I was expecting this to be hit out of the park.


I wasn't disappointed.


There just seems to be a different writing style in Britain. It is filled with quips and quibbles and so many sarcastic remarks and wonderful one liners that I usually end up snickering throughout the entire novel. Now, since we have established that I am an Anglophile, let me tell you what I liked about the book in general.


I liked the ending in this book better. It differed drastically mainly because books don't have to have huge battle scenes in order to feel climatic. (That is as much of a spoiler as I will give you) I also liked the star so much (in both book and movie) here she was grumpy she was whiny and she was human. I liked how it this was a fairy tale only for adults. (And by the way, it IS for adults. Not for a younger audience unless you cut out about a page or so in the beginning.) 


This was great, a quick read to help me wind down during midterms. 


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Historical Thursday - Raven's Bride


The Raven's BrideThe Raven's Bride
By: Lenore Hart
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:

When eight-year-old Virginia "Sissy" Clemm meets her handsome cousin, Eddy, she sees the perfect husband she's conjured up in childhood games. Thirteen years her elder, he's soft-spoken, brooding, and handsome. Eddy fails his way through West Point and the army yet each time he returns to Baltimore, their friendship grows. As Sissy trains for a musical career, her childhood crush turns to love. When she's thirteen, Eddy proposes. But as their happy life darkens, Sissy endures Poe's abrupt disappearances, self-destructive moods, and alcoholic binges. When she falls ill, his greatest fear– that he’ll lose the woman he loves– drives him both madness, and to his greatest literary achievement.

My Thoughts:
Reading this while studying Poe was quite a fun experience. Having a knowledge of his works, while not mandatory is definitely helpful as you read what the author thought was going on during his life as he wrote them. 


This was a darker story, not at all romantic, but well, it's Edgar Allen Poe, I really didn't expect any real romance. Having read many of these kinds of novels (particularly by Nancy Moser) I must say I did enjoy this writing style and content. 


I found Sissy to be correctly portrayed as a girl who was never entirely sure how to grow up. It wasn't until much later in life...well almost in death did she really come into herself. In most circumstances this would have annoyed me but here I found it quite appropriate, considering how her mother never left her to her own devices and how she married so young.


Loved it, and I know this is nerdy, but I giggled to myself when I saw that the name of the person writing this was Lenore. 


Great Job.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Misc. Monday - Desired

Desired by Ginger Garrett
Add caption
Desired
by Ginger Garrett
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
 Before Samson was an Old Testament legend, he was a prodigal son, an inexperienced suitor, a vengeful husband, and a lost soul driven by his own weakness. This is his story as told by three strong women who loved him—the nagging, manipulative mother who pushed him toward greatness, the hapless Philistine bride whose betrayal propelled him into notoriety, and the emotionally damaged seductress—the famous Delilah—who engineered his downfall and propelled him to his destiny. Desiredcelebrates the God of Israel's to work powerfully in the midst of hopes, fears, desires, and sorrows.


My Review:

I have read stories like this before ([book:Pearl in the Sand|8089607] was amazing) and have really liked them, however this one just wasn't up to par.  I really liked the young women's points of view. Young Amara was nicely characterized and fleshed out, though not particularly dynamic. 


The people I had the most problems with, were 1 Samson and 2 his mother. Samson seemed like a little boy who never grew up. I understand that he was more of side story and the real focus was on both Amara and Delilah but still I would rather have dynamic characters than stagnant ones. He seemed to be unwilling to take true control of his life and that simply irritated me. Also his mother...I don't see her being that nagging of a person. She was probably of the same caliber of Elisabeth and Mary in the New Testament or Hannah and Sarah from the Old Testament. I don't see a nagging, manipulative, prideful woman being called to raise a "chosen one." So her portrayal really made me tune her out throughout the novel. 


The one who made me keep reading this is Delilah. Her story was wonderfully written, her change from a young innocent to the infamous seductress was believable and my favorite part to read. I loved her and how she was humanized and how were actions, which have little to no motivation given in the biblical story found in Judges.

Overall I would say it was ok but not my favorite.

Many thanks to NetGalley for helping me get a copy to read for review.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fun Friday - A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar: A NovelA Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
by: Suzanne Joinson
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: General Fiction

Summary from Goodreads:

It is 1923. Evangeline (Eva) English and her sister Lizzie are missionaries heading for the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar. Though Lizzie is on fire with her religious calling, Eva’s motives are not quite as noble, but with her green bicycle and a commission from a publisher to write A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, she is ready for adventure.
In present day London, a young woman, Frieda, returns from a long trip abroad to find a man sleeping outside her front door. She gives him a blanket and a pillow, and in the morning finds the bedding neatly folded and an exquisite drawing of a bird with a long feathery tail, some delicate Arabic writing, and a boat made out of a flock of seagulls on her wall. Tayeb, in flight from his Yemeni homeland, befriends Frieda and, when she learns she has inherited the contents of an apartment belonging to a dead woman she has never heard of, they embark on an unexpected journey together.


My Thoughts:
This is one of the most enjoyable novels I have read in a long time. It tells two stories - Eva's and Freida's - in alternating chapters. This is among my favorite of narrative styles so I was greatly pleased. Also I loved the fact that Eva's story was told in a rather obscure location and time period - Western China in the 1920's. 

Freida while in modern day London, still is exploring different cultures both in her personal in professional life. And that really is what I feel this story is about. Both parts of the story explore the differences in culture and if they could possibly mesh. 

This was such a complex story all of the details which you think are irrelevant combine and are woven into a wonderful ending. 

Only thing I would change if I could would be the occasional strong language. This is something which fairly conservative readers might want to be cautious about.



Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA for giving me a copy for review.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Misc Monday - ...So There


...So There by William O. Wing...So There
by: William O Wing
Genre: Gen. Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars


Summary from Goodreads:
William O. Wing, a tousled-haired Catholic school boy spots Carmen Maria Bonocelli, a fiery little Italian girl walking in front of his house wearing his favorite football jersey, then proceeds to intercept her stroll and confront her with a healthy dose of male indignation. Carmen, a descendent of a long line of gypsies, has certain magical powers and quickly turns his anger into embarrassment as she temporarily paralyzes his mind and body, a trick some girls can perform even without the benefit of magic. Carmen has recently moved into William’s neighborhood with her five older sisters and robust Sicilian mother, while her father, who is an American bomber pilot, is stationed at an airbase on the outskirts of London. 


My Thoughts:
This was a story which attempted to explore puppy love. It starts with the meeting of William O. and Miss Carmen. These two seem to be made for each other and this novel tries to explore the first chapter of their story together. 


Overall I thought the writing style was quite fun, there was a lot of kid talk - words that your vocabulary drops as you grow up, and a smattering of 1940's lingo. I liked the story line and how it didn't seem to be leading up to some big moment but rather was merely a telling of peoples lives. It was about characters rather than the plot.


HOWEVER...these kids are 11 supposedly and well they weren't given a chance to be merely kids. I feel like they were a little sexualized, especially Carmen which is something that an 11 year old should most definitely not be. Had the story stuck with dancing and football and making sandcastles and the innocence of puppy love I would have loved it. It didn't though so I felt that it lost out on a lot of charm which it could have had. 


Thank to The Bookplex for the chance to read this book for review.

In the Shadow of Lakecrest

In the Shadow of Lakecrest By: Elizabeth Blackwell Genre: Fiction, Historical, Gothic Rating: 3.5 stars Summary: The year is 1928. Kate...