Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Classic Tuesday: To the Lighthouse

To the LighthouseTo The Lighthouse
by: Virginia Woolf
Genre: Modernist, Classic
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary:
The lives of the Ramsay family are followed at their summer home which over looks a lighthouse.

Short summary I know, but you don't really read modernist literature for the plot. You read it for the words and for the ideas which they evoke.

I don't like modernism as a general rule, my modernist class this year is trying to change that, but unless you're Conrad, you don't really stand much chance.

So with that in mind that's why I have refrained from giving it a superb rating.

There are passages in the novel which are truly stunning, especially in the third portion of the book. Woolf has a wonderful way with words about her. The thing about the book that clung to me the most is the idea of identity.

Identity is what other people label our souls.

Mrs. Ramsay, for instance, is labeled: wife, mother, hostess, daughter. None of these are labels which she has given herself. When she is in those moments of alone she faces this blackness which is really what we are without the identity which others have given us.

I liked this one and if you are looking for a slower read (really emphasize "slower") which has some pretty deep currents this one will work perfectly.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Fluffy friday: To Win Her Heart

To Win Her HeartTo Win Her Heart
by: Karen Witemeyer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary From Goodreads:

Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets...
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.
Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors and once again she comes through. She is perhaps one of the most balanced Christian novelists I have come across, she has neither too much Christian stuff in there that I feel like I am being preached at, but there is enough for it to definitely be a Christian read. Levi is one of my favorite romantic heroes, with bulging biceps and a massive vocabulary what's there not to love...oh that's right...his murderous past. This has many great ties to the parable of the Prodigal Son and I couldn't put it down.
I really liked Eden, she was spunky, confident, not worried about Prince Charming, and she had her own library - what is there not to like? Not only did she start out great, but she also was allowed to grow throughout the story.
This was wonderfully written, the story woven very nicely, I found the conflict plausible (in historical romances that has been a very rare thing for me) and both leads well rounded and I liked the secondary characters as well. One that I might buy to have for my collection


Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Wedding Invitation

A Wedding Invitation A Wedding Invitation
By: Alice J. Wisler
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 2 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
After returning home from teaching English at a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother's clothing boutique in Falls Church, Virginia. When she receives an invitation to a wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she looks forward to reconnecting with her college friend. Instead her life collides with Carson, a fellow teacher and the man who broke her heart, and a young Amerasian refugee named Lien who needs Samantha and Carson's help to find her mother before Lien's own wedding. When the search for Lien's mother reveals surprising secrets from the past, Samantha must reevaluate her own memories and decide whether to continue to play it safe or take a risk that could change her life.
Sounds pretty good doesn't it? I thought that this would be a very interesting premise, something fresh that I have never come across before...oh I was so wrong

This was one of the most confusing writing styles I have ever read. The fact that it was in present tense didn't really phase me but the thought process of the main character along with the general plot of the story wasn't really plausible for me.

I didn't understand a lot of her reasoning - why one guy was better simply because he was physically attractive in the 80's. They romantic point of the plot was a joke. I could in no way believe that the two characters would really get together. They were static. No growth in anyone's personality and overall I was left extremely dissatisfied.

Were it not for Dovie I wouldn't even have finished the book. Dovie reminded me of the crazy aunt that every one is supposed to have in their life. I loved her and her house and wouldn't mind being her one day.

Pass on this one. I was left confused and not caring about the characters at all.

Many Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for giving me this book for review.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Misc. Monday - Lonestar Angel

Lonestar Angel (Lonestar Series, #4)Lonestar Angel
by: Coleen Coble

Genre: Christian, Suspense
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:

Years ago Eden and Clay Larson's baby was stolen. Kidnappers demanded a ransom, but something went horribly wrong at the exchange: the kidnapper's car crashed into the river and was never recovered. Eden blamed herself, Clay lost himself in work. Their young and rocky marriage ended. Or so Eden thought.
Now she's met Kent. He's everything Clay wasn't: funny, stable, and eager to please her. Just as he's about to propose marriage at a romantic dinner, Clay arrives and tells Eden she can't marry Kent. She's still married to him. He never signed the divorce decree. Even more earth-shattering than this news is that he's never stopped looking for Brianna. Based on a tip, he thinks their daughter is in Bluebird, Texas, at a youth ranch. All five little girls there are the right age, but he's not sure which is Brianna.
To discover the truth, the couple becomes counselors to the girls at Bluebird Ranch. They move into small quarters in the bunkhouse and oversee the kids as they try to find out more. As they work together, their love for the children grows and their love for each other is rekindled.
Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing for giving me this book for review. 
I usually put that at the bottom but I put it first to explain why I am beginning a series at the end. I don't normally read suspense. I am more of a happy kind of person and want my stories to be that way too, despite this fact, this book was one that I really liked. Coble did an excellent job of not only developing the characters of the Eden and Clay but of the little girls who they take care of on the ranch. I find that most authors have difficulty with accurately portraying the personalities of children but these were very well done.
The suspense builds nicely and at the climax you get hit by something that you might of suspected but didn't necessarily see coming. I was pleased with the story and didn't feel like it was a waste of time.
I will most likely go back to read the rest of the series and other books by this author.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Special

Product Details
Isn't that a pretty cover?
So horror is not something that I generally like to read. The most intense book I have ever read...well, I'm currently in the process of reading...is Dracula. Because of the new craze on Vampires, I decided I wanted to go back and see how they all began.  And I am loving it so far. It has been written in a series of letters and journal entries which gives Stoker an excellent control over what the reader knows and when it comes to horror when dramatic irony comes into play. I sadly haven't had the time to finish it but the second I do I will let you know the rest of my review.


So what about the rest of you? What is the book you turn toward when it's Halloween? Are you an Edgar Allen Poe fan? Or does Henry James' Turn of the Screw do it for you?

Comment and let me know what your favorite spooky read is I would love to get a head start for next year.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

AAAAANNNNNNDDDD We're done!

Wow, I can't believe that I made it though my first 24 hour read-a-thon. Thanks to all of you cheerleaders for sticking with me...though I have been slightly dozy this last hour.



  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? 23 I was in and out for about half of it
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I think that if I don't bog myself down with the modernism I did for homework I will get a lot more done next time.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? To tell the truth I must say that the hosts and cheerleaders will all amazing and this was a wonderful experience
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Reading outside on my porch at 3 in the morning was when I got the most stuff done.
  5. How many books did you read? 3.5
  6. What were the names of the books you read? The Choice by Nicholas Sparks, A Passion Redeemed and A Passion Denied - both by Julie Lessman; and Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? The Choice
  8. Which did you enjoy least? Women in Love
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? n/a
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Oh I will totally be doing this again in April and I will try to get work off so that I can do the whole thing I might even try to host a mini challenge but for sure will be both a reader and a cheerleader.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halfway Through

So part of this read-a-thon are many challenges to keep us sane through these 24 hours. Sadly I am having to do this update from work....silly kids... you don't need to eat on Saturdays! why do you keep coming and ordering food?  Anyway it has finally slowed down enough for me to report.



Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?
I'm switching back and forth between Women in Love by D. H. Larwence and A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman.
2. How many books have you read so far?
Sadly just one, this homework assignment (Women in Love) is much slower reading than I would like.
 3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Probably Secret Journal of Brett Colton
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
My day wasn't able to be freed up so I'm missing out on 4 hours
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
my housemates have been really understanding so they have left me alone and kept it down. But I did have to come into work so I have never worked faster in my life to get food out to my customers~
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I thought it would be much harder but I am really loving it.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
At this point I am perfectly content.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Not stay up late the night before.
9. Are you getting tired yet?
Yes
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
I have several reading spots in my house that I have been switching around. It has helped me keep alert and awake.

My Top Five Books I can't wait to read!

Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3)Messenger, TheThe Maid of Fairbourne Hall
Imperial Scandal
A Breath of Eyre (Unbound, #1)One of our lovely challenges for this Read-a-Thon was to find 5 books that you are excited are being published this year. Of these five I have read 4 of the authors...First one who can guess which one hasn't been read by me will get a book from my shelf. I love these authors though and aren't the covers gorgeous.


The 5th Hour

So...I accidentally fell asleep at 10 this morning but considering how late I got to bed last night (not my fault, I work the closing shift at my school cafe) and the fact that I was reading D. H. Laurence...yeah so not my fault. But I have finished my first book of the day:




The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.


Summary from Goodreads:


Travis Parker has everything a man could want: a good job, loyal friends, even a waterfront home in small-town North Carolina. In full pursuit of the good life -- boating, swimming, and regular barbecues with his good-natured buddies -- he holds the vague conviction that a serious relationship with a woman would only cramp his style. That is, until Gabby Holland moves in next door. Despite his attempts to be neighborly, the appealing redhead seems to have a chip on her shoulder about him...and the presence of her longtime boyfriend doesn't help. Despite himself, Travis can't stop trying to ingratiate himself with his new neighbor, and his persistent efforts lead them both to the doorstep of a journey that neither could have foreseen. Spanning the eventful years of young love, marriage and family, The Choice ultimately confronts us with the most heartwrenching question of all: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?




I read it in one sitting because I am participating in a readathon today and well I was expecting it to end just like all of my previous Sparks books ended...with me in tears. It didn't!...does that qualify as a spoiler? I loved it, I loved Gabby's personality and thought that both she and Travis were very well developed.

What I really like was how controlled the narrative was. The author wrote in such a way that he had the readers thinking 5 different things and all of them wrong. It takes a good writer to exercise that amount of control and, despite all of the teasing I received for reading Nicholas Sparks I think that he is a good writer, much better than others I have been reading for fun recently!





I will check in again later to let you know how it is going!

24 Hour Read-a-Thon

In a matter of minutes I will be starting my first read-a-thon. I will be posting updates throughout the day to let you know how I am doing and what I have been reading. If you want to know more about what's up go to:

24hourreadathon.com

Here is a little information about me:

1)Where are you reading from today?
Buena Vista, Virginia

2)Three random facts about me…

I know a plethora of random things which have no use.
I knit.
I am learning French.

3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?

5

4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?

To catch up on my school reading.

5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?

This is my first time doing it so sorry no advice from me.








It's 4:31 and I have only read about 2 books. I have finished one and am half-way through 2 others. I have some reading I need to catch up for in school and Women in Love isn't exactly a very fast read...oh well I will get through it. I have found myself reading one chapter from that and another from a for-fun novel. I hope that means that I will finish what I have to soon enough. I will have to take off in an hour for work but hopefully it will be a slow night and I can keep reading. 


Ok it's 2:33 in the AM and I have finished 2.5 books, and considering all of my books are crazily over 4 hundred pages I would say that I am doing awesomely...despite some loud roomies...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Misc. Monday - The Blue Enchantress

The Blue Enchantress
By: M. L. Tyndall

Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 3 stars

Summary:
After sacrificing everything to follow what she thought was love, Hope finds her freedom and life in jeopardy with Nathaniel Mason as her last resort.

Nathaniel Mason wants nothing to do with the girl who had scorned him and yet finds himself selling his ship in order to save the girl that he begrudgingly loves.

Now all that is left to do is get home in one piece...and with hurricanes, pirates and a bitter lord in their way that is far easier said than done.

I have really been into the escapism lately and this works ok in that department. It follows the rules of the chick-lit genre to the letter along with obeying the rules of Christian Romance. There is the "I-can't-love-them" followed with "we're-in-love" followed by "tragic miscommunication." Truth be told I probably won't remember this one in a few months. Don't get me wrong it works perfectly for it's genre. It just isn't that memorable.

The side characters held more appeal to me than did the leads so if you do read this, read it for the supporting actors not the leading lady.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just For Fun Friday - Wings of a Dream

Wings of a Dream
by: Anne Mateer


Genre:Historical Christian Romance
Rating: 4 Stars


Summary from Goodreads:

Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family's farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he's the man she's meant to marry. While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother's sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur's training camp as God's approval of her plans.
But the Spanish flue epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt's death, Arthur's indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebeka is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she's always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.

This is by far my favorite Christian fiction that I read this school year. If I am going to like the book I am going to really have to like the leading lady and Rebekah is likable. She is hard working and willing to go out and get what she wants instead of sitting at home complaining that life isn't going her way.  She has a smart head on her shoulders and a strong and tender spirit to match it. She was well rounded and developed nicely throughout the book instead of the sudden change at the end which generally isn't entirely believable

This book didn't really focus on the romantic aspect so much as how much love Rebekah has for the children who she looks after. I believe that's what set this book apart from all of the others of this kind that I read this year.  The pace was gentle - I wasn't racing along but it didn't plod either, and it was a new era. The Spanish Flu is something that can be overshadowed by WWI and so it was nice to get an idea of how people might have lived with it.

Only 1 problem with it, and I may just be too picky but I feel like the editors should have caught this. The Great War wasn't called World War I until much later...until after WWII. So that phrase should never have been in there. That's pretty much the only thing that bothered me when I was reading.

Great read if you want to catch something on WWI and the Spanish Flu epidemic without too much gushy stuff.


Thank you very much Bethany House Publishing for providing this book for review.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Struck Down

I was hit with a huge wave of the flu this weekend and am only beginning to recover, no posts for now...Sorry.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Historical - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by: Jamie Ford


Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
 Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholarshipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago. 



This was one of my favorite reads of the summer. I found  Keiko and Henry some very endearing characters. This book was also eye-opening for me because I had no idea that this was going on during WWII. Yet he presented the facts and the story without any true political bias which was quite refreshing for a historical novel.
The language was beautiful, which was a nice break after all of the fluff I read this summer, and the story well developed. The only thing that is keeping me from giving it a 5 was because the internet wasn't used the way it was during the 1980 portion of the novel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Bill Of Rights

Did you know readers have a bill of rights? It's true. A man named Daniel Pennec came up with  ten unalienable rights which no one can refute.
They are:
1. The Right to NOT Read.
     As an avid Reader there are times when I just need a break and spend two weeks  so just goofing off and watching tv shows that I need to catch up on and simply not picking up a book. And that's fine. You are allowed to take time off from your favorite hobby.


2.The Right to Skip Pages.
     I try not to do this but there are just times when an author just doesn't know when to stop describing or when something just seems to be taking too long as a Reader you have a right to skip ahead until you get back to the story.


3. The Right to Not Finish.
     There are books you just have to put down early. With so much material out there you need the right to stop reading a mediocre novel when you want to move on to a great one.


4. The Right to Reread.
     This might be the most important one for me. I have books that I go back to at least once a year, sometimes even more. The story is just something which I need to get back to. I don't need to feel guilty about it because it is a good book.


5. The Right to Read Anything.
     No one should judge you for the genre you are reading. I read sci-fi and I am proud of it. I read christian romance and I don't hide it. (well maybe that one a little bit) But it is my right to read whatever I want.


6. The Right to Escapism.
     Everyone has those days..or weeks..or months...or semesters...when they need to get away for a little bit, escape into a thrilling story of adventure, or a novel of people with problems bigger than yours. It is your right as a Reader! Exercise it.


7. The Right to Read Anywhere.
     Now granted some places are better than others, (sorry for reading in class professor...it was just a REALLY good part) but generally I haven't found a place yet where you are in no way allowed to sit down and read. I would also like to add this means that you can read anywhere WITHOUT DISTURBANCE. That's the hardest part of reading in public, people will always come up and ask what you are reading.


8. The Right to Browse.
     Browsing just might be my favorite thing to do in a library. This is why my trips there take so long. I go in for just one book but then other titles and covers just talk to me and before I know it I am leaving with 10 or more books in my arms. Take the time to browse, you will meet friends that belong in your life. 


9. The Right to Read Out Loud.
     This may just been me but I have come across a few books that are just meant to be read out loud. They have to be, there is just something about the language which is begging to be heard. Feel free to read it. Others will understand and other Readers will look at you and smile.


10. The Right Not to Defend Your Tastes.
     Reading is a very personal matter. And just because my tastes clash with yours doesn't mean that you have to defend what you want to read to me. Read what you want and don't apologize about it. It is what makes you happy and no one should attack that in the first place.


Well there you have it. The 10 basic rights of a Reader. I capitalize "Reader" because there are readers - those who read occasionally, and then there are Readers. Readers are those who are always on the search for the next thing, who know their local library or bookstore like the back of their hand and most likely have their library card number memorized. They have a feeling for the words which others miss out on. So which are you? 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Classic Tuesday - Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre
by: Charlotte Bronte


Genre: Classic
Rating 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved?


Isn't that the coolest cover you have ever seen? I really love this series that Penguin is producing.


And while you are judging this marvelous cover I shall talk about my impressions of the story. I have heard that you either really love the novel or you really hate it. I am happy to say that I defy this saying...I..um..didn't really love it or hate it. 


I loved the language of the story, the Bronte girls really know how to write. I just wasn't impressed with Rochester. He was too gushy for me. I had just finished my Austen course and was used to all of the gushy parts were glossed over so that may have contributed to it. But I was swept up in the novel's story and Jane herself. I am still trying to figure out how she forgave her aunt, I don't think that I could have in her situation. 


Read it, it is something that should be read - very good book for a winter day with a blanket and cocoa.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Misc. Monday - Hannah's Journey

Hannah's Journey
by Anna Schmidt


Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 3 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
In 1928 a young fatherless Amish boy from Florida runs away with the circus. His mother, Hannah, meets the owner of the circus, Levi, and pleads with him to help her find her son. This leads to a journey with her father-in-law and sister-in-law on a train to Wisconsin. Will she find love again and will Levi's past become a part of his present?
This is a quick read. It is interesting to learn about how a circus traveled in the 1920's. The best theme of the novel is how Amish traditions of family and faith comforts and challenges people to do the right thing. 



If you can't tell, my summer was spent reading as much fluff as I could cram in. I spend my semesters working my way through Homer, Milton, Dante and Hume, so I feel like I should give my brain a bit of a rest from all of the heavy reading I am forcing upon it. (Currently it's Joyce and Plato with some other textbooks scattered in there as well.)  This one was just as fluffy as others. I promise that I am running out of the fluff and hopefully by this time next month I will just be reviewing materials with a little more substance. 


This was a plot line that required some serious emotional investment into the characters in order to enjoy the plot. Sadly the character who I liked the most was on of the sub-plot people who really didn't do anything throughout the story. The Amish plight put in here wasn't nearly as well done as in others I have read and well Hannah and Levi just weren't cutting it for me. 


I did like the circus aspect, not something I have read about for a very long time...if ever...now that I think about it this was my first circus read though there are plenty out there I am sure. That part intrigued me and is what helped save the story from being too straight-forward of a love story. Overall, you can pass on this one, there is better Amish fiction out there if that is what you are looking for.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

School is much harder than it looks...

So, once again I am apologizing for not posting anything for over a week. Did you notice? Do you miss me? If you said yes to either of these questions, thanks and I shall try to be better - probably not perfect, but at least better.

I have several excuses for as to why I haven't posted anything (midterms, school's internet out, lack of sleep) but really you don't want to hear that, if you are here you want to see what books I believe are worth reading and worth skipping.  So I will cut this short and just say I'm sorry and hope your reading endeavors are going better than mine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

YA Wednesday- Steel

Steel
by: Carrie Vaughn


Genre: YA
Rating:3 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure. 
The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.


In theory this is a pretty awesome book. Fencing is a sport which is generally not written about so that was refreshing. Jill was your standard teenager who after losing seems to think the world is over, but we have all been there so I forgive her. I also liked how the pirate's world was portrayed. None of the romanticizing found in the Pirates of the Caribbean  franchise, I felt that she had really done her research in that regard.


What made me not like it...the writing was juvenile. There was the relationship which seems mandatory in YA novels which was rushed and I felt unnecessary to the whole thing. Henry was ok on his own but the way that Vaughn tried to get the two of them together seemed awkward and contrived. Then there was the magic aspect...and the ending. I just felt confused and dissatisfied with the whole thing by the time I was done with it. 


My overall reaction was "Meh" **shrug of the shoulders**  I didn't feel like I really wasted my time but it is one that I won't remember by next semester.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Classic Tuesday - Eight Cousins

Eight Cousins
by Louisa May Alcott


Genre: Classic
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Life with seven boy cousins isn't quite what Rose expected. Left an orphan after her father's death, Rose Campbell is sent to live at the "Aunt Hill" with her six aunts and seven rowdy boy cousins. For someone who is used to a girl's boarding school, it all seems pretty overwhelming. Her guardian, Uncle Alec, makes her eat healthy things like oatmeal, and even tries to get her to give up her pretty dresses for drab, sensible clothes.


I liked this one a lot more than Little Women, while it is still on the more didactic end of the spectrum it is a most wonderful little story. Now I must state that if you have read any Alcott the same basic principles apply. But unlike little women rather than having a narrator tell you how to live your life, the lovable Uncle Alec does so in a not too preachy manner. Now as the children are still children they are overly perfect and sweet, yet the adults (who are for the most part overlooked) are what makes the book for me. I love Aunt Jessie and wish that I had one or that I could be one sometime in the far distant future. 


I like how there is an emphasis on children remaining children. With my 6 year old sister asking to dye her hair blonde it seems like the final nail in the coffin of childhood is very close to being hammered down. This is a wonderful childhood classic and one that should be read rather than looked over.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday - Tacky the Penguin


Tacky the Penguin
by: Helen Lester

Genre: Children's
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
"Tacky was an odd bird, but a nice bird to have around." Compared to the other penguins Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly and Perfect, Tacky is an odd bird. Yet when hunters come to the ice we find out that he is a nice bird to have around.

I have already reviewed a Helen Lester story-A Porcupine Named Fluffy - which I adore and this is another one of her creations. I giggled at Tacky's antics when I was little - I mean really a penguin in Hawaiian shirts? who cannonballs into the ocean? you can't get much better than that- and my little sister does so now and my children most likely will as well. The rhyming used will ensure that you remember the specific lines like how the hunters come with their "maps and traps and rocks and locks."

This is another unknown wonder of childhood that I would recommend for everyone.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Frightening Fluffy Friday: Love on a Dime

Love on a Dime
by Cara Lynn James


Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 2 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
In age of elegance and excess, Lilly Westbrook longs for a love both true and eternal.Newport, Rhode Island, 1899, is a place of shimmering waves, sleek yachts, and ladies of leisure. Of opulent mansions that serve as summer cottages for the rich and famous. Home of railroad magnates and banking tycoons--dashing young men and the women who aspire to marry them.But it's not the place for lady novelists. Especially not those who pen disreputable dime novels. This poses a problem for Lilly Westbrook, because that's exactly what she does.No one in Lilly's social set knows she pens fiction under the nom de plume Fannie Cole. Not her family or the wealthy young man about to propose to her. And especially not Jackson Grail, the long-lost beau who just bought her publishing company...and who stirs her heart more than she cares to admit.But Lilly must put aside her feelings and follow the path that will maintain her family's social stature and provide the financial security that everyone is depending on.Now Lilly faces a double dilemma. Can she continue to protect her secret identity? And will she have the courage to choose the man who will risk it all just to win her heart?


I couldn't take this book seriously. I really found it so entertaining to read bits and pieces of it to my roommate in a dramatic voice causing her to laugh out loud at the effusive writing. It is like sugar, chocolate syrup and cotton candy mixed together it is that fluffy. The premise is good, there is the romance and intrigue (the local gossip columnist has found out her identity and is now blackmailing her) there really is the making of a decent novel in there. Sadly the execution failed.


Lilly is unable to make up her mind. She is too proud to ask for help even though it can come from many different sources, and  she makes too big of a deal out of everything, if she would simply relax and think for a moment she would know what to do. She and Jack really needed to make up their minds, communicate and the story would have been cut in half.


I could go on and on about the predictability  of the plot, the unlikable characters and the really juvenile and contrived writing but I have to go to class. Pass on this one good cover, bad writing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Historical Thursday - A Constant Heart

A Constant Heart
by Siri Mitchell


Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight, and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. her destiny is guaranteed...at least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she's lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she'll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture again the love of a man bound to the queen.


As an authors first foray into the world of historical fiction I would say that she did a neat job of it all. You could tell that she did her research in regards to the lifestyle of the period thoroughly and represented the era well. She took a different stance on her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth though one I am coming across more often. Rather than the benevolent and nearly perfect being that we are  taught of in our school years she depicts a demanding, vain and fearful  woman competing to remain the "fairest of them all." I find her going a little too over the top in creating the "wicked step-mother" for dramatic emphasis rather than showing Elizabeth as a real person. Though this did open the door to show the make-up practices of the time which were in no way FDA approved.


Now as to the story, it is written in alternating POV between Marget and her husband, sometimes too abruptly for my taste though since I didn't get confused I forgive Mitchell for it. I pitied Marget in the beginning of the novel but by the end of it I was tired of her lack of backbone and willingness to let everyone run her life. The same applies for the dear Earl. The love story was cute and seemed genuine enough but there there is all of this doubting going on that I kind of got bored with it all.


It concludes nicely and plausibly, wrapped in a neat bow and not hinting at a sequel (I really hate books that do that - leave plot lines open in case the book becomes popular and they want to make more money.) It is full of angst so if you are in the mood for that it's a good choice, but on the whole, I won't tell you not to read it because it's a very nice historical novel. On the other hand, I won't tell you to run to your nearest bookstore.  It was...respectable.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

YA Wednesday: Where I Belong

Where I Belong
Gwendolyn Heasley

Genre: YA
Rating: 2 stars

Summary:
Corrinne seems to be living the perfect life, plenty of money, access to all of the hottest clubs in NYC until suddenly it all comes falling apart and she finds herself living in the middle of nowhere in Texas. Now she finds herself needing to work, attending a public school and frantically searching for a way back to life before the recession.

Goodness, don't waste your time on this one. I was up at my cabin without anything else to read so that is my only excuse. Give me 2 months and I will have completely forgotten about it.

Corrinne was irritating and shallow I feel like she had just stepped off the set of Gossip Girl, the writing style seemed juvenile and how many times have we seen this story? Perhaps I am older than the intended audience but even then I wouldn't recommend this to my younger siblings or their friends. While Kitsy was a better character she still wasn't enough to redeem the book.

 I felt like all of the plot lines were left unresolved because of this curve ball that is thrown into it. It probably was one of the worst endings of a book I have ever read. It felt like the author was on a deadline and cranked out the last chapters in 30 minutes the way I occasionally do my homework. There's hardly any closure and you are left extremely dissatisfied.

Don't judge the book by it's cover, it is a pretty cover I know, but don't be fooled! You will have wasted your time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Classic Tuesday: King Lear

King Lear
by: William Shakespeare

Genre: Classic
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary:
Deciding to divide his kingdom between his daughters, King Lear portions out his land to those whom he believes love him most setting the stage for the most classical of Shakespeare's tragedies

Now I wonder if plays count as books, but that is the beauty of the Bard. He has an all-encompassing reach for both the English and Theater worlds with influences on everything in between. There is so much going on that there is no way for me to cover it all in a little 300 or so word blurb but I shall try my best.

I have read this one twice for school and both times I was struck with how powerful it was. It deals with love and all of it's forms, with the fears of old age, with the battle for power everything needed to create an amazing story. Written toward the end of his life, I believe that a lot of Lear is Shakespeare's own personal fear and struggle of growing old and losing the respect that he feels he deserves. Lear is one of the most complex characters simply because of how dynamic he is. He begins Act 1 as a spoiled man who doesn't know himself, who is not wise enough to know what love and devotion really are. From there he descends into madness until finally being able to see the truth only in time to die himself. (Sorry if I spoiled but it's a Shakespearean tragedy, you know that everyone is going to die.)

I could go on about Regan and Goneril as the first evil (step)sisters that I have come across - they certainly make Anastasia and Drisella look like perfect angels. Or about Edmund a truly evil character rarely to be rivaled in literature. Shakespeare manages to capture human nature in all of its interesting shades so wonderfully that it is impossible to do him justice.

Read (or if possible watch) this wonder of Shakespeare, it will leave you satisfied and, hopefully, thinking.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday

Veiled Rose
by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary From Goodreads:


Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.
Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands.
But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find?
Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing for giving me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Because I was given this, I didn't have the chance to read the first book in the series. And while I wish that I had some more background information on some of the characters, this novel works well as a stand alone. the characters a believable and dynamic. Rose Red in particular is a very solid character with a likable personality and really carries the thing through. She provides the depth to what would otherwise be your very basic boy-meets-girl-and-then-problems-ensue plot.There is that romantic element within the story but rather than making a straight forward teen romantic plot the author chooses instead to explore the complexities of relationships and in a way that add depth to the whole. 

As expected from Bethany House there are religious undertones. It's rather like the cautionary tales of the Brothers Grimm. The point of the story isn't completely obvious and yet you are aware that it's there.

The humor of the story was wonderful with a few moments where I giggled out loud and if you are at all a fan of young adult fantasy I would recommend this book for you.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Classic Tuesday: Crime and Punishment


Crime and Punishment

by: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Genre: Classic
Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption. 

This was the first book assigned for my high school AP English class it was summer reading and it was something which was dreaded by all. I am finding that classics are a lot like vegetables, we eat them because we are told to and then realize..."hey I actually like broccoli!"  I must admit I started the summer with good intentions and kept telling myself I would start it tomorrow until I found myself looking at the first day of classes. Never fear I got it done and I loved it. Russian Literature just might be one of my favorite genres. 

What I love about this piece is how deeply it delves into the psychology of man. By getting so directly involved with the thinking process of Raskolinkov we delve deep into human psyche.  The book isn't so much about the crime and punishment themselves but rather about the internal crime of pride and the internal punishment which Raskolinkov goes through. This could be the very first psychological thriller ever written, a genre which hadn't ever been tried before and Dostoyevsky did a masterful job at creating marvelously shaded characters and writing a story that is absorbing and thought provoking.

I love this piece and believe it should be one of the first “vegetables” forced upon readers who are lacking in the classics. 




Friday, September 2, 2011

I'm sorry, I don't have the energy or heart or attitude to handle a post right now.

In a way I am being more fair to the book I have scheduled today, in my present mood it doesn't matter what I read it would still be horrible. So I will be kind to the hapless book who was supposed to be the center of my attention today and leave it for another time.

Happy Reading. (oh if you have things that you think I should read I would love to hear from you.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Historical Thursday: Hattie Big Sky


Hattie Big Sky
by Kirby Larson

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads,
In 1917, Hattie Brooks was a 16-year-old orphan who had spent most of her young life passed from one relative to another. But a letter arrives from an uncle she never knew she had, and everything changes as she leaves for eastern Montana to prove her uncle's land claim.
Hattie was no tenderfoot when she arrived in Montana, but in her first year there, she's forced to battle the hazards of weather -- bitter winters filled with blizzards, and summers of drought and the threat of wildfires. Though homesteaders arrive anticipating a difficult road, one thing Hattie hadn't expected to confront was a seething prejudice among her neighbors. At the height of the First World War, the patriotism and loyalty of German-Americans was suspect, and Hattie finds herself at the center of an unsubstantiated hatred for one of her neighbors, a man who has shown her nothing but kindness. 

Now I know what you're thinking..."Two 5 stars in a row? I thought she said she was picky!" Well first of all I didn't say "picky" and secondly this one deserves it too, I can't help that I found another amazing book. And besides what are you complaining about? This just means that there is another great book for you to read!

So my thoughts on this book. I have never read about a cow with quite as much personality as the one found here. When even the animals are fully developed characters we know we have a keeper. On a more serious note, this book deals a lot with the anti-German sentiments which were around especially throughout the first World War. All of this prejudice that Hattie and her friends have to face really is quite sad to see. Hattie is a character who I fell in love with and the writing style (done in first person) is simply charming. 

I would highly recommend this book to everyone. It may say that it is a young adult fiction but it is a book that is wonderful at all ages.

Shame Nation

Shame Nation Genre: Non-Fiction Rating: 4 Stars Summary My Thoughts: This is a book everyone needs to read. The title perfectly fits ...