Thursday, September 25, 2014

Historical Thursday: The Legend of Sheba

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a QueenThe Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen


By: Tosca Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:

 In the tenth century BC, the new Queen of Sheba has inherited her father’s throne and all its riches at great personal cost. Her realm stretches west across the Red Sea into land wealthy in gold, frankincense, and spices. But now new alliances to the North threaten the trade routes that are the lifeblood of her nation. Solomon, the brash new king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute of the world—or of Sheba’s queen. With tensions ready to erupt within her own borders and the future of her nation at stake, the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a lifetime in a daring bid to test and win the king. But neither ruler has anticipated the clash of agendas, gods, and passion that threatens to ignite—and ruin—them both. An explosive retelling of the legendary king and queen and the nations that shaped history.

My thoughts:

This was really well done. Thoughtfully researched and crafted. There was much description and help to make the world come alive. Technically speaking I loved it. It was an enjoyable read.

She was so fun to get to know - witty, powerful and easy to empathize with - I loved her. And her relationship that developed with Solomon rich deep and complex. This goes far beyond what the Bible ever gave us. I loved being transported to Saba and to Jerusalem. 

It would have got 5 stars had there not be as much sexual content (no worries nothing explicit, but still it's there) and coming from a purely Christian background and not knowing that there were in fact, other accounts of the Queen of Sheba, it was a little hard to swallow her relationship with Solomon. But as I read the historical background at the end of the book everything tied together and it was good. I just wish I had read that part first so that I could have enjoyed the whole thing.

All in all I would say it was good, and if you like historical fiction, it is a great read!

I received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review**

Friday, September 19, 2014

Just for Fun Friday - The System

The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football

The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football


By: Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
Genre: Non-fiction, Sports
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
COLLEGE FOOTBALL has never been more popular—or more chaotic. Millions fill 100,000-seat stadiums every Saturday; tens of millions more watch on television every weekend. The 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama had a viewership of 26.4 million people, second only to the Super Bowl. Billions of dollars from television deals now flow into the game; the average budget for a top-ten team is $80 million; top coaches make more than $3 million a year; the highest paid, more than $5 million.
     Celebrated investigative journalists Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian were granted unprecedented access during the 2012 season to programs at the highest levels across the country at a time of convulsive change in college football. Through dogged reporting, they explored every nook and cranny of this high-powered machine, and reveal how it operates from the inside out. The result: the system through the eyes of athletic directors and coaches, high-flying boosters and high-profile TV stars, five-star recruits and tireless NCAA investigators and the kids on whom the whole vast enterprise depends.
My Thoughts:
First off -- warning, this book uses the language of the locker room - meaning not for all ages and it has some graphic scenes.
Ok that is out of the way. I really wasn't sure how I would like this book when I was given it to read - I mean it is about football. You see the books I read...is football a part of that? Not at all. However, I loved it. I attend a little school, football is here but it is NOTHING like what goes on in the real NCAA football.
This book captured all of the different aspects, ones that are completely forgotten yet still hold crucial parts. The tutors, athletic directors and even the hostesses and janitors. It was amazing to get a closer look at what is going on in the college football scene. I loved it and was really excited to do this homework assignment.
Now would especially be a good time - with all of the NFL drama that is playing out off the field it would be good to take a good look at the program which develops them into who they are. I would most definitely recommend this for those who are wanting to understand more about the biggest and most notable part of our college culture. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Misc. Monday - The Stolen Girl

The Stolen GirlThe Stolen Girl

By: Renita D'Silva
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating 4.5



Summary:
‘Your mother has been arrested. She stole you.’

For as long as thirteen-year-old Diya can remember, it’s always been just her and her mum, Vani. Despite never staying in one place long enough to call it home, with her mother by her side, Diya has never needed anything else. 

Then, in an instant, Diya’s fragile world is shattered. Her mother is arrested, accused of abducting Diya when she was a baby…

Vani has spent a lifetime looking over her shoulder, determined to make the best possible life for her daughter. Now she must fight for her child, re-opening the door to her childhood in India and the woman who was once as close to her as a sister.
Aarti had everything she could possibly want and lost it in the blink of an eye. She has spent these last 13 years hunting for the daughter she refused was lost.

My Thoughts:
Well after having been out of the book reading world for so long I was so glad that this was my first read. I loved it. It kind of took over my Saturday, work? homework? grad school prep...who cares! I need to figure out what on earth is going to happen here.

Right off the bat I had fallen in love with Diya for her down to earth personality and Vani for the immense love which she wasn't afraid to show her daughter. 

The story really reminded me of the work of Kate Morton. If you haven't read any of her works yet I would highly recommend The Distant Hours. Both authors have a way to make the world come alive and add a true texture not only to the characters, but I have never wanted to eat Indian food as much as I did while I was reading The Stolen Girl.

I love how the story of the past and present are woven together to help shed light on the truth. D'Silva manages to develop this empathy not only for the heroines of the novel, but also includes for the 'villain.' I was worried how she would wrap everything up - I had fallen in love with two of these women and wanted the 3rd to come out all right yet I couldn't figure out how she was going to do it. But do it D'Silva did and it was wonderfully done.

Overall I am so glad that I have found this new author, I will be running to check out her others books The Forgotten Dauther and Monsoon Memories...After I catch up on everything that was put on hold this weekend.

**I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

So....I am back

Hey there everyone...I am betting that anyone who ever read this ever have already moved on with their lives wondering what on earth had happened to the book addict, or perhaps not. Either way, I have been in Argentina for a year and a half and not really able to read nearly as much as I liked or really use the internet. But I am now back! Happy day!

So I have been gone for a while. What are the great books that have come out this last year and a half. Let me know. And I would love to hear what books I need to put on my READ NOW! list.

Have an adventure for me, be that in this world or a fictional one!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Short-Straw Bride


Short-Straw BrideShort-Straw Bride

by: Karen Whitemeyer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating 3.5 stars

Summary:
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both.

My thoughts:
I love Witemeyer. She manages to get enough of the romance in that it is the perfect book for when you are having a blah day that you just want to perk up. Now do I wish that there was some more communication between everyone? Yes, naturally. But then we wouldn't have much of a story now would we?

Travis and Meredith might have started off with marriage but it is fun to read about how their friendship grows throughout the novel. Something I especially liked was how Travis learned the necessary lesson of how no man is an island and it's necessary to draw on others for help when you need to.

I have read the rest of Witemeyer's work (see Head in the Clouds and To Win her Heart) and while this one wasn't my favorite it really was up to par with her previous work. I can't wait to see what else she comes up with.

This book was given to my by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cutting out early

There is no way for me to healthily stick with this so I will cut out 2 hours early.

It has been quite fun and I shall prepare better for future Readathons.

Moby-Dick...a whale of an assignment

My senior paper class has me reading Herman Melville's Moby-Dick currently and I came in not excited at all. If you haven't picked up on it yet, when it comes to classic literature give me England over America any day. So knowing I had to study Herman Melville for a semester I wasn't too thrilled. But the more of his works that I read the more in love with them I become.

Thus far Moby-Dick proves itself to be a masterfully crafted work. It dives deep into human nature and spirituality. I love it (even though I am way too far behind in it) and am so glad I have this opportunity to read it. I recommend it to everyone. It IS the classic that every person should read.

A Spy in the House

A Spy in the House (The Agency, #1)A Spy in the House
by: Y.S. Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Summary:
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

My Thoughts:
First, let us take a moment to drool over the cover - it's even more beautiful in person. Now the story is just as good as the cover. Yeah, doesn't happen all the time but here goodness it is amazing.  

I love Mary, she is strong willed, can be a bit snarky when she so chooses and recognizes her weaknesses yet doesn't let herself be over come by them.  Her characterization is consistant and fun and I am definitely going to find time to read the rest of these novels! It's the first in the series and her storyline wasn't completed so I cannot wait to get my hands on the second one.

I picked up the book thinking that it would be more about the schooling part of her life but it breezed over it and you know what I was fine. This story is much better than another boarding school story would have been. 

I also loved all of the little Victorian details that the author kept slipping in there. I can tell that they know their stuff. As a total Victorian I approve of the research that went into the writing of the book. 

So, if you love strong female protagonists, Victorian London, mysteries and not too much romance (huge plus) Read it!

Halfway! and Now I can really start!

So finally all of my obligations are over and I can just read!

Popcorn is popping, blanket fort is made and here is my midway survey!

Mid-Event Survey
1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?
Eyes are tired and feet are sore.
2) What have you finished reading?
Sadly nothing, give me another 30 minutes...
3) What is your favorite read so far?
See above.
4) What about your favorite snacks?
Those little jawbreakers that you get in those huge mix bags of candy, though popcorn is one of my favorite things on the face of the planet.
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!
Not yet, but I haven't really been looking I will later on when I feel like I can't stay awake any longer.


Ok next post will have something finished! I promise!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ok, one more break then a solid 9 hours!

So, I got asked to a dance...very last minute and have to take a little break and have some fun on the dance floor.

I almost finished A Spy in the House so more updates to come.

Why was Homecoming This week?

So yeah, Homecoming was this week and as I am on almost every committee known to mankind I have been running around all day. So I finally get about 3 hours of total reprieve nowish...

In the minutes I have been able to catch here and there I have been reading A Spy in the House which I have been wanting to read for ages because it has pretty much everything that I could ever want in a novel (except for a consistent narrator, sometimes it's limited omniscient other times its told from the point of view of their thoughts...yeah it isn't confusing and I wouldn't have noticed it before my narrative approaches to literature class, but there you go. At least I know that I'm learning something.) it's Victorian based, has a young female spy for a protagonist and a love plot that about half-way through has NOT manifested itself...perfect!

So I will get to homework eventually....I hope.

It's time for another readathon!

Sadly while today is Dewey's Semi-Annual 24 hour read-a-thon life has other plans for me so I will have to be checking in and out a lot. But I am excited to do what I can. I have a bunch of homework that I'm hoping to catch up on - Bleak House, Moby-Dick, and Heart of Darkness for starters - but I am going to try and sneak some good stuff in there as well. I have the Mistborn Trilogy out on loan from a friend so this is going to be a very good day.

Loves to you all, Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Angelina's Bachelors


Angelina's Bachelors: A Novel with FoodAngelina's Bachelors: A Novel with Food

By: Brian O'Reilly
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
Far too young to be a widow, Angelina D’Angelo suddenly finds herself facing a life without her beloved husband, Frank. Late one night shortly after the funeral, she makes her way down to the kitchen and pours all of her grief and anger into the only outlet she has left—her passion for cooking. In a frenzy of concentration and swift precision, she builds layer upon layer of thick, rich lasagna, braids loaves of yeasty bread, roasts plump herb-rubbed chicken; she makes so much food that she winds up delivering the spoils to the neighbors in her tight-knit Italian community in South Philadelphia. Retiree Basil Cupertino, who has just moved in with his kindly sister across the street, is positively smitten with Angelina’s food. In a stroke of good fortune, Basil offers Angelina (not only husbandless but unemployed) a job cooking for him—two meals a day, six days a week, in exchange for a handsome salary. Soon, word of her irresistible culinary prowess spreads and she finds herself cooking for seven bachelors—and in the process discovers the magical power of food to heal, to bring people together . . . and maybe even to provide a second chance at love. 

My Thoughts:
I have tried to become more stingy with my 5 stars, only offering them to books which changed me in some way, be that on a philosophical plane or something more shallow such as picking up new habits and hobbies. All of my food books that I've read recently has made me want to cook more, but this one seems to take all of what the other books started and brings it all together to the point where I am going out and buying supplies to make my own recipe box. 

Right from the start where she is making her "Frangelico Chocolate 'Dream' Cake" I was hooked. I loved her indignation at someone serving a store bought cake as homemade. (Though this may or may not be something that I am guilty of.) The whole book made me want to get up, go to my pantry and see if I could whip up something tasty. I also really loved the different bachelors that Angelina had coming up to her house. My favorite one being a man who isn't really in the mafia...but still "knows a guy" who can take care of pretty much anything. 

The plot overall is a very sweet, and heartwarming. The writing genuine and well executed. I was actually surprised when I looked at the author's name and realized that it was written by a man, he has good insight in to the feminine perspective.  Also, since he is the head of Food Network's Dinner: Impossible the recipes he includes are all great.

I love it and would recommend it to anyone who wants to read something heartwarming and sweet.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Kitchen Daughter


The Kitchen DaughterThe Kitchen Daughter

By: Jael McHenry
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summery:
After the unexpected death of her parents, painfully shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning (“do no let her…”) before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish.

A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, (aka “Demanda”) insists on selling their parents’ house, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them

My Thoughts:
I loved, loved, loved the point of view character here. She doesn't have a disorder, she has a personality. It was great to read a book from a person with mild Aspergers  Syndrome. And I also liked how the beginning of the chapters had recipes from the story. (Some of them worked I tried and they made me happy.) Now, the book does have a lot of food references but the story really does focus on how Ginny grows and learns to cope after the death of her parents. One thing I really love is the relationship between her and her housekeeper. She is like a second mother who teaches Ginny how to grow beyond her difficulties. 

I think that this book, while it isn't a total foodie book, is a great one to read. It deals with grief and all of its different forms and beautifully describes life after death.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chocolat


ChocolatChocolat

By:Joanne Harris
Genre: General Fiction
Rating:3.5 stars

Summary:
In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne's uncanny perception of its buyer's private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. 

My Thoughts: 
I first watched the movie on this one in my high school French class (It was in French and I wasn't too fluent yet so I didn't get too much from it except for the imagery.) I loved the imagery and well I love chocolate so this looked like a fun little read. I loved the characterizations of the different townspeople and the relationship between Vianne and her daughter Anouk. It was a little bit slow in the middle while the priest seemed to be doing the same thing over and over again, but overall I really liked this one. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

School of Essential Ingredients


The School of Essential Ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients

By: Erica Bauermeister 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students' lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian's food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another.

My Thoughts:
I read this for the first time about 3 years ago and the story has stuck with me.  The language  is wonderful to read and rich and decadent like some of the dishes the students create. Each chapter focuses on a different member of the class, how they got to be there and the wonderful healing power which good food can offer.  Each character relates to different people, a mother who has lost her identity, a teenager who is still trying to figure out who they are and a man who is trying to get over the loss of his wife.

Overall I think it is a great first piece and foodie and non-foodie alike would enjoy it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Foodie Week!

Hey there everyone! This past little bit I have just happened to begin trying to expands my skills in the kitchen. Most likely this has been triggered by all of these foodie books I've been reading. So if you are looking for books to get you excited about food again that's what I am going to try and help with this week! And if you have any food books that you think are great let me know! I would love to check them out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

YA Wednesday - When the Bough Breaks


When the Bough BreaksWhen the Bough Breaks

By: Kay Lynn Mangum
Genre: LDS fiction
Rating 4.5 stars

Summary:
Rachel Fletcher thought that her biggest secret in high school would be her crush on Jason West, but after her father dies in a car wreck, one she thinks is her fault, all of that changes. She has to deal with the problems of a mother who is almost catatonic with depression and worse a brother who is turning into an alcoholic. As time passes and her mother remarries she has to add a new step-father and step-brother into the mix. Rachel's brother's addiction just gets worse. She wonders why God isn't helping out more, but God doesn't always help the way we think He should.


My Thoughts:
I love this book, and have read it several times. It's one that can be hard to read (especially the first time) but almost impossible to put down. Rachel is a quiet girl who prefers to spend her time writing poetry and working on her creative writing skills, she never asked for the problems of a lost father and an alcoholic brother. She has the typical questions of "why me?" I love how real Mangum can make her characters.

A criticism of LDS fiction is that it generally can't deal with the problems which face the world of today -drug and alcohol addictions and what not, this book proves that incorrect.  It illustrates beautifully what it's like to have a family member who is an addict and how people react to it. The whole plot of healing both for Rachel and her brother Ryan left me almost crying a time or two (I have only cried twice while reading) but not wanting to stop at all.


I would recommend this book to both YA and adults, and all religions, it is beautifully done. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Misc Monday - The Beginners Goodbye


The Beginner's GoodbyeThe Beginner's Goodbye

By: Anne Tyler
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2 stars

Summary:
Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron spent his childhood fending off a mother and a sister who want to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, self-dependent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy’s unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace.

My Thoughts:
I have read Anne Tyler before, I liked Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant but this book that I read wasn't written by a Pulitzer Prize winner. I didn't really like Aaron or Dorothy or really anyone else. I thought Aaron was unnecessarily harsh with everyone around him. There were parts of the novel where I wanted to smack him upside the head and shout "no you idiot, get over yourself and give some attention to someone besides yourself!" And Dorothy's visits...they seemed to really have no explanation or point. He talks about how other people saw her too but only in passing, I was waiting for an incident to go into further detail. And I didn't really feel like Aaron grew at all. He seemed to be the same all the way through until magically a couple of years after the fact he **spoiler**(highlight to see it) has married Peggy and has a little girl who he loves to play with at the park**spoiler done** really makes no sense to me. Also, he sounded 60 not the 36 he is supposed to be, the whole cast felt like a retirement community not like contemporaries. 

Overall, I would stick with Anne Tyler's older works and pass on this one. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Attachments


AttachmentsAttachments

By: Rainbow Rowell
Genre:Romance
Rating: 4 (excessive language kept it from 5 stars)
Parental Guidance suggested for hard language


Summary:
Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can't seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.

When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he'd be sifting through other people's inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can't quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can't help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.

But by the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you." After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can't see exactly where it's leading him.

My Thoughts:
It has been a long time since I have finished a book and just wanted to yell to the world (or at least type to them) that they must read it! But this book had me texting friends to get going on it before I was even done. 
Now, it is fluffy, (I have seen it described as "it's so fluffy I'm gonna die!" said of course in a Despicable Me voice)  and the email gimmick has been done before and failed miserably, but it is witty fluff that was very nicely done. Beth and Jennifer have these hilarious conversations that had me giggling through the whole thing, even though currently this is quite a painful thing for me to do (wisdom teeth..blech). That really is what made this story so wonderful for me, yes it was fun to see Lincoln go from this sad, empty life to a fun, fulfilling one, but it was the true friendship between the two women that have me loving it and setting it apart from other romances I have read.

Now is it somewhat creepy and stalkerish that he was reading their email? Well, in a word kinda... it is his job and the way it's portrayed doesn't have him come across as all that bad. He is a relatable guy who is dealing with the awkward position he's been put in.

There were a couple of curves at the end which were really quite nice. At one point I wasn't sure if it was going to end the way all romances end and I feel like I would have been satisfied if it hadn't. It was just written that well.

I feel like this is one of the few books I've read that will appeal equally to both men and women. It is a fun, quirky, lovable read - one that I will probably return to.