Monday, February 28, 2011

The Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker



Annie has never been beautiful.  Not compared to most people - and especially not compared to her sister Gwendolyn, who is the most beautiful princess in the whole world.  Annie is normal - ordinary, as some people might call it.  When her sister Gwendolyn was a baby, she was cast under a spell by a fairy who said when Gwendolyn was 16 she would prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die.  Another fairy changed it the spell so that she would only fall asleep for 100 years until her true love came to the castle and kissed her.  This lessened their parents fear, for a while...until Annie comes along and they decide that they couldn't bear to have something go wrong for Annie as well.  So they call a good fairy, who casts a spell on Annie so that the girl would NEVER be affected by magic.  So Annie grows up, simpler than your average town folk, always having to stay away from her family, or else her magic-repellent-body would cause their magic to fade temporarily.  But when the old prophetic curse comes to past, and Annie is the only one inside the castle who is not affected by the magic that would have put her to sleep, she sets out on a dangerous journey to find her sister's true love so the quest can be broken...and she may even discover love for herself on the way.

______________________________________________


I started out with this book thinking, "There's no stinking way that this book can hold a whole, developed story, when it's so short, small, and doesn't have itty bitty letters."  Oh, I was so wrong.  E. D. Baker has a way of wording things - to the point.  Not boring, just...really toned.

And honestly, as I went along, I was shocked (pleasantly so) by the amount of information carried in this story, this tiny story.  Annie was well-developed; I felt like I was her friend from the start.  She's lonely and wants others to not call her ordinary, just because she can't make herself look perfect by magic. She wishes to be a part of her family - and yet she's forced to stand far away from everyone in case her presence affects the magic and causes everyone else to look ordinary as well.  She's brave and wants to help, despite all her misfortunes.

So she embarks, and her adventure is greater than she (or I) could ever have imagined.  She is accompanied by the castle's newest guard, Liam, who was outside the castle when Gwendolyn pricked her finger on a spinning wheel.  She meets princes, affronts witches, enters contests...and falls in love.  Could anyone ever ask for a better adventure?

The way this book is executed is just amazing...  Like I said, I hadn't expected there to be so much to it, but there was, and it went at a PERFECT pace.  There were more fairytales woven into this story than I can count, along with a lot of hilarious "my fair maiden!" and "I must rescue my ladylove!" that had me giggling out loud.  I liked Liam, but I felt that his charater was awkward for the first half of the book.  I didn't quite know what to think of him...he was just kind of a boring character.  But then it got better and he grew on me...of course...like every handsome love interest should.

The only thing I didn't like was the last couple of pages.  Something happened that felt too short...I felt that the story was resolved well, just not that scene.  It was like, boom! and then it was over.... However, it wasn't bad enough for me to not recommend it.  In fact, I totally recommend this book!

Favorite character:  Annie.  She was just adorable!  Voracia comes in second.  She made me laugh and cower at the same time...weird combination, I know, but she did.  She was frightening, and yet so hilarious in her own way.

Favorite aspect:  The culture of the story.  It was well-thought out and very original.  All the fairytales fit perfectly together and added up to equal an incredibly original world, despite the fact that practically the whole world already knows these stories.  Very impressed.

One word to sum this book up:  I wanted to write something like sweet, or cute, or silly, or adorable, or adventurous...  Yes, it is all these things, but the best one word that I can think of is cunning.  I was totally surprised by how clever the writing and story were.  Definitely a great read and recommended to everyone who loves a great story!  (Ages 8 and up could read this book and really grasp it, I think.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck


Kelsey thinks her job at the circus will be a temporary job - but how wrong she is!  When she joins she discovers that she has a special connection with the beautiful white tiger that performs every night.  She becomes a kind of caretaker, taking care of his food and water and making sure he's safe inside his cage.  She sits by the cage every night and reads to him, or writes in her journal and tells him stories.


But when a man comes to the circus and buys Ren, the tiger, Kelsey feels that she is about to lose a great friend.  She finds she is wrong, however, when the assistant of the man who purchased the tiger comes to her and states that he has noticed her special bond with Ren.  He offers her the life of luxury during a trip to India, all to accompany Ren on the journey and make sure he is settled nicely into his new home.  And when Kelsey says yes to this incredible opportunity, she finds that her dear Tiger is actually a prince under a 300 year old spell, and she will do anything to break the curse.  Even if it means falling in love with a man she can never be with.

_______________________________________


I absolutely adored this book from the first.  Kelsey is such a believable character - she's funny, innocent, and loves greatly.  Within the first ten pages, I could totally relate to her and wanted to be her friend.  And I just loved her way of speaking.  She has character in her dialogue and - get ready for this - I just picture her talking fast and a bit too much.  Not in a bad way - she just loves explaining things and she most definitely has an opinion.  It was adorable!  And Ren...he was pretty much the perfect guy.  He's been a tiger for 350 years, so what can you expect?  He's learned patience, obedience, and gentleness.   He's also very very innocent (unfortunately, his innocence is sometimes masked by the fact that he's freaking gorgeous.)  This could bother some people, but never fear!  Ren has bouts of anger and doesn't always make right decisions - especially when he's angry.  This makes him believable amd human.


Kelsey's bond with Ren is just super amazing...  With the tiger, she's comfortable - and then all of a sudden she has to get to know Ren as a man.  She doesn't know how to respond to Ren when he's in human form.  And I can see why...as soon as I read the description of Ren as a man I couldn't help but giggle.  I wouldn't be able to speak, either, if I saw him the way that he is described.  And it's not just that he's beautiful - he's serene, kind, and he loves greatly.  That's one thing that really hit me about this book - the love.  The love in this book is strong - and it runs much deeper than a kiss and a caress.  I love that even though Kelsey notices Ren's beauty, she knows that if he was just your average guy, she could sit and talk with him for hours on end...just be with him.  And still love him like she does.  And Ren, even though he could get any girl, loves Kelsey.  She loves him, too - so much it hurts.  But then...comes the doubt.  (Real life doubts, normal doubts that every girl would have if she was in love with a drop-dead gorgeous man trapped by a tiger's curse.  Haha!)  (Oh, and if you start to doubt the love story - DON'T.  Scream and be angry with them all you want - but DON'T put the book down!)  I loved Ren's response to the doubt in their relationship...but you'll just have to read it if you want to know what I'm talking about. :)


The love story was built slowly, like it should be (most of the time).  They don't kiss at first, but rather let their relationship build slowly, and they don't sleep together at all.  I was so thankful for this.  Ren has an old-fashioned "I'm going to ask your permission" kind of attitude about love.  He admits he's never felt this way about any woman and he tries so hard to please Kelsey and make her happy - not to satisfy his own desires.  He respects her more than words can say and this aspect of him did NOTHING to keep ME from falling for him as well... ;)


As far as the writing goes: I liked it.  Not my favorite, but it was easy to read and Colleen Houck's descriptions of people, the landscapes, and even little details were very well done and I could easily and quickly picture exactly what was being described.  Things I didn't like:  a few of her phrases seemed a bit out of place.  Sometimes I felt that the paragraphs were too short.  And there were a couple of point of view shifts, but not enough to really be noticeable.  I also didn't really like that Kelsey's thoughts were in past tense.  Even in the story is in past tense, I think it should always be a rule to make character's thoughts in present tense.  You think, "I want to eat that dessert."  NOT, "I wanted to eat that dessert."  Make sense?


Favorite character:  Ren.  Who else? :)


Favorite aspect:  A lot of things:  Ren and Kelsey, Ren and Kishan (who was also a great character, by the way), Mr. Kadam's grandfatherly relationship with Kelsey, all the Indian mythology...  You could definitely tell that Colleen Houck cares about her character's relationships and how they affect each other.  She also was very skilled in telling about the Indian culture and mythology.  It was scary, intimidating, and shocking at times.  But interesting.  I definitely don't believe in any of what they talked about, and have no desire to, but it was interesting all the same.  I also really like that girls AND boys will love this book.  It was really a good balance of romance, action, and mystery.


One word to sum up this book:  I definitely think parts of the this book were sweet, but then others were action packed and sometimes frightening (the good kind of frightening, though).  So I think my word would be tempestuous.  It was like an ocean storm, one that carries your emotions and imagination on a wild ride that is not easy to forget.  I'm impatiently awaiting book #2 and I can't wait to see what's in store for all these lovely characters!


For parents:  Honestly, I think a good starting age for this book is 15-16 years old.  The characters don't sleep together, but there are definitely some (steamy) kisses with some description, and lots sexual tension.  The characters snuggle a bit, mostly because Ren wants to comfort Kelsey in times of struggle.  Ren likes to give tender caresses, too.  This is as far as it goes.  I really appreciate that.  No language AT ALL.  Overall, a very clean book, because even though the characters kiss and hold each other, they really really love each other and respect each other enough to be rational.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

If you haven't read Inkheart yet, but want to, I'd HIGHLY recommend it.  You can read my review hereInkheart is the first book in the trilogy and you won't understand anything that's going on in Inkspell if you haven't read it. :)  Also, if you'd like to read some quotes from Inkspell, you can read them:  here  and  here.



Meggie longs for the Inkworld.  Her mother's stories have formed the world so perfectly in her mind that she cannot help but desire to go there.  But how is that possible?  How could she when she doesn't even have the book?  And is it possible to read yourself into a story?  What Meggie doesn't know is that a man named Orpheus has read Dustfinger back into his story, leaving Farid with nowhere to go.  But when Farid shows up at their door with the fateful paper that sent Dustfinger home, and the news that Basta is still alive and on his trail, Meggie must make a decision.  Should she follow her heart - and Farid, who is set on seeing Dustfinger again - into the Inkworld, or will she do the safe thing, and stay with Mo and Resa and Elinor and Darius?  It is up to her, and what she does may affect the lives of the living - and even the dead.


_____________________________________________


Dustfinger.


Dustfinger Dustfinger Dustfinger Dustfinger Dustfinger Dustfinger.


I would love to just write a review that is ALL about Dustfinger, but I shall refrain.  I shall refrain because it would probably bore most of you.  Seriously.  It would be like "I love him, I love him, he's the best, he's the greatest, I want to meet him, he's wonderful..." and a lot of other stuff that is not very important...


But I'm fortunate:  the whole book is amazing to write about, so I'm not in a bad way at all.


To begin - this is my third time reading this book.  It felt like the first.  The door was closed, and it slowly opened, letting it the scent of the Inkworld, the sights, sounds, and people.  It opened up and, suddenly, I was there, like Meggie, and I was a part of the story.  It was happening to me.  It chose me, made me its own, and swept me off my feet.  This has happened every single time, and it feels new and wonderful every single time.


Dustfinger.


Seriously, this book is phenomenal.  It has the feel and story of a classic fairytale, like what you'd read in a Grimm Brother's story, and it has the easy flowing writing of an extremely well-written children's or YA novel.  I think the reasons are these.  For one, Cornelia Funke is German.  She has the heritage, the old-fashioned love for fairytales.  And then there's the translator, Anthea Bell, who translates books from both German and French, and possibly even more languages, into English.  (She translated another really great book, The_Princetta, from French.)  She has a way of working words that adds to Cornelia's German talent.


Favorite character:  Hehe...yah.  Dustfinger.  The man who is human.  I think that's what makes me love him so much.  He's just so regular, despite his abilities to breathe and speak to fire.  He's talented, yes, and those who knew of him wrote songs and ballads about him to keep his legacy alive.  But he doesn't think once about the fame.  He only loves the fire, the crackling flames that bend to his will.  And he loves Roxanne.  He loves her so much, and she loves him, too.  I always say that if I could trade places with a character from any book, it would be Roxanne, so I could be married to Dustfinger.  He's just...wow.  You love him in spite of his mistakes, his personal struggles.  In fact, these things make you love him even more.  And he does in the end of Inkspell makes me cry every time I read it, and I've read it maybe 10 times.  This, and everything else he does, makes him one of my top three favorite characters in all of literature.


But while Dustfinger is my absolute favorite, each other character is so well-developed that I could easily write a whole characterization paper about each one.   They are all equally defined, from Fenoglio, to Mo, to Meggie, Resa, the Piper, Firefox, the Adderhead...  I could go on, really.  Even the most minor characters have their own personalities and characteristics that make them individuals.  It's truly amazing.


Favorite aspect:  There are just about a million things I could put down here...so pretty much the whole book...but I think my third time around I was really struck by Fenoglio's plan at the end.  His words for Meggie to read - to bring to life.   It really is genius.  So intricate and wonderful...


Summing it up with one word:  'tis an impossible thing to do, when I consider every facet of the story.  One of the many descriptions I can think of is devastatingly beautiful.  Need I say more?


For the parents:  a bit of language, d**n, son of a *****, and ba***rd.  References to a 15-year-old girl who's fallen in love with a prince, and who is said to spend her nights with him.  A bit of kissing.  Recommended for 13 and older, because of the things mentioned above and the intensity of the story.

Friday Buys 2/11-25/11

These last two weeks weren't the most eventful in buying, but I'm glad.  I'm running out of roooooom........

Last week:

  • I did buy a book called Spindle's End by Robin McKinley, and just by the sound of it I may be bumping it up my TBR really far.  It looks amazing, and I've heard McKinley is fantastic.  We'll see!  I got this used and worn (but most definitely still readable!) copy at our Friends of the Library bookstore for a whopping 25 cents! :)  Gotta love a find like that!


 

This week:

  • And my second giveaway to win has come in the mail! :)  I won Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy on Goodreads as a first reads giveaway.  I'm super duper duper excited to read it!




Inkspell (Quotes, 2)

Then he wrote.  Wrote his name in the blank book and closed it.  "That's done!" he cried triumphanly.  "That's done, Taddeo!  Lock him in the book, the soul-swallower, the enemy who can't be killed.  Now he can't kill me either.  Now we're equals.  Two Cold Men ruling the world together, for all eternity."

--  Chapter 70, Page 583

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (Quotes)

This quote really hit me.  It's got amazing imagery, personification, and writing.
We steamed up into New York harbor late one afternoon in spring.  The last efforts of the sun were being put forth in turning the waters of the bay to glistening gold; the green islands on either side, in spite of their warlike mountings, looked calm and peaceful; the buildings of the town shone out in a reflected light which gave the city an air of enchantment; and, truly, it is an enchanted spot.  New York City is the most fatally fascinating thing in America.  She sits like a great witch at the gate of the country, showing her alluring white face, and hiding her crooked hands and feet under the folds of her wide garments, - constantly enticing thousands from far within, and tempting those who come from across the seas to go no farther.  And all these become the victims of her caprice.  Some she at once crushes beneath her cruel feet; others she condemns and fondles, riding them high on the bubbles of fortune; then with a sudden breath she blows the bubbles out and laughs mockingly as she watches them fall.

--  Chapter 6, page 41-42

I'm really enjoying this book so far!  A lot of this book is written like the quote above - very imaginative.  And it's fairly easy to get into and understand.

Happy Reading!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Genesis and Exodus...the Bible

About a year ago, I started reading through the Bible.  I got through most of Genesis when a few devotional books came up by favorite authors and at my youth group.  I slowly stopped reading the Bible in order and read whatever I was assigned with my group.

But this month, I decided - heck, I want to finish that!  I remembered all those stories I have ahead of me, all the great power of God to read about and I just couldn't resist.

I'm just loving it.  I finished Exodus the other day and started Leviticus yesterday.  It's so neat to read all these stories in the actual order they happened.  I feel like all the stories I heard and read as a child are coming to life in the Real Deal.  It's amazing.

Favorite stories so far:  Joseph and Moses.  Also, I LOVE all the stories about the building of the Lord's Tabernacle and Altar, that He would fill with his glory.

What has blessed me most:  my relationship with the Lord was really strengthened when I read Exodus 35.  Everything about it made me think.  All the people of Israel brought gifts to the Tabernacle, and each one brought what they were good at.  If you lived back then and you could sew well, you would bring some rich material of purple, scarlet, and other beautiful colors.  If you were a smith of some kind, you would bring something made of silver, gold, bronze, etc.  I realized that I want to do it all for Him as well - this blog is an offering to Him because I use my gifts to write it.

And now...on to Leviticus!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw



In the opening scene of Arms and the Man, which establishes the play's embattled Balkan setting, young Raina learns of her suitor's heroic exploits in combat.  She rhapsodizes that it is "a glorious world for women who can see its glory and men who can act its romance!"  Soon, however, such romantic falsifications of love and warfare are brilliantly and at times hilariously unmasked in a comedy that reveals George Bernard Shaw at his best as an acute social observer and witty provocateur.

--  From the back of the Dover Thrift Edition

_________________________________________________


I honestly had no desire to read this book.  I was going to read it for school, but I most definitely wasn't excited about it.  I'd read the back about three times but could never remember what it was about and didn't really care to.  But I am so, SO glad I read this book.  It was witty, adventurous, and "romantic".  Shaw's intention was to make fun of romance, in a way, but I still thought the romance was adorable.  Because I'm cheesy like that.


Favorite character:  Sergius, despite his idiocy.  He was hilarious, because of his idiocy.  He's a gentleman in high society and a rogue at heart.  Raina comes in as a close second and so does the Swiss.


Favorite aspect:  The Swiss's affect on the story.  "Chocolate cream soldier"!


One word to sum it up:  Two-timing.  Trust me, this is a good thing! :)  You'd have to read it to understand what I mean.


And do I want you to read it?


Answer:  YES!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly



BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

--  Summary from Goodreads

Unfortunately, I didn't get around to reading this entire book.  (More like, skimmed the last half.)  I wish it would have been otherwise.

I intensely love the French Revolution.  I know that sounds strange, since it was so bloody and gory and kinda pointless, but I love it.  It fascinates me - the reasons why each side did what they did, what happened to those who did not exactly "side" with either group (aristocratic or third estate), what became of the government afterwards, and so on.

That's the reason I picked up this book.  I'm pretty hungry all the time for more fiction and nonfiction about the French Revolution.

This book delivered in some ways.  The writing was excellent, and the characters were well developed.  Jennifer Donnelly does a good job and making the reader feel something for the characters - I personally was taken with Virgil.  He was smart, witty, kind, doting - and apparently he had a butt so cute that it made Andi mess up the song she was playing when she noticed.  (That made me laugh histerically!)

But then, at the same time...it didn't deliver.  While I did sympathise with Andi, I didn't really sympathise with Alex.  Her story, despite being set during the French Revolution, wasn't that amazing to me and got a little boring - so I began skimming.  I'd stop and read most of Andi's perspective, but that was it.  Then the twist in the end - that little midnight journey through the catacombs that the synopsis mentions - was just strange.  I didn't appreciate it or understand it.  It was really...just strange.  That's when I started skimming Andi's perspective and read the last few short chapters.

Oh well.  I wish it would have turned out better for me - but at least I have about five more books about the French Revolution that I love and will read over and over again! :)

For parents - there is some brief strong language and shorter, less offensive cuss words scattered throughout the book.  There are a few references to sex but they are inexplicit.  This book is so much more clean than it could have been, and from what I thought it would be like from the beginning.  Her relationship with Virgil is sweet and nothing happens between them.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Photography

I tried.  Really, I did.


I just couldn't.


I couldn't pick only a few.  So here are like 7 or 8 pictures.  This is my first engagement shoot for my photography business, shot with a friend.


www.sierraabramsphotography.com


www.sierraabrams.blogspot.com


I just had to share, I'm so excited! :)


The wedding is coming up early March so I'll probably be posting sometime late March saying that those pix are up as well! :)


Enjoy and I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Inkspell, Quotes

I'm falling in love all over again with Inkspell...  I can't believe I went a year and a half without reading it.  This is my third time, and it's just as good as the first time, if not better.  I'm finding myself in a world of words, summoned as Meggie was into the ink.  It's a powerful book, just like its companions.

And now, for my quote:
He turned, pushed aside Darius, who was standing there in the open doorway with a sad, owl-like gaze, and went to his study, where those damned notebooks were still stacked among his own papers.  He swept them off the desk one by one, as if he could silence the words that way - all the accursed words that had bewitched his child, luring her away like the Pied Piper in the story, to a place where he had already been unable to follow Resa.  Mo felt as if he were dreaming the same nightmare all over again, but this time he didn't even have a book whose pages he could have searched for Meggie.

Chapter 11, page 114

It's coming back...  My third time reading this book, and all of the feelings, the emotions and gripping vortex's that sucked me in last time, are coming back.  Read this:
"Who said anything about bringing her back?"  Mortola's narrow lips twisted into a joyless smile.  "Do you think I intend to stay in this stupid world of yours any longer now that I have the book?  Why should I?  No, I'm going to look for your daughter in my own world, where Basta will catch her like a little bird.  And then I'll give the two of you to my son as a present.  There'll be more festivities, Silvertongue, but this time Capricorn will not die.  Oh no.  He'll sit beside me and hold my hand while Death takes first your daughter, and then you.  Yes, that's how it will be!"

Chapter 17, page 164

GAH!  Ok.  Do I need to say anything else?  Even before my review, I want to scream, GO READ THIS BOOK!!!  (Read Inkheart first, but that one is wonderful as well!!!)

Happy reading!!! :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Two Girls of Gettysburg by Lisa Klein



When Lizzie's cousin Rosanna moves to Gettysburg, they become the best of friends.  While Lizzie is plain with no gorgeous looks to boast of, Rosanna is beautiful, with lovely brown hair and a pretty face; their personalities could not be more different.  But this does not stop them.  They are best friends for the world to see, a Northern girl with her Southern cousin as a best friend.  But when circumstances cause Rosanna to return to the South - and there become a wife and nurse to those in need during the new war - the girls are torn apart by a world of differences, where love, death, and a war of morals and freedom will try to ruin their friendship forever.

____________________________________________


I'll start with the good things about the book.


I really love the two girls.  I had my favorite (Rosanna) but I liked them both.  They made for great protagonists and their friendship was sweet.  The characters were all developed well and had his or her own part in the story that made them unique.  Rosanna's relationship with her husband was so sweet and it was amazing to watch them grow as a couple, then as husband and wife.


My favorite character:  John Wilcox, most definitely.  Martin Weigel comes in second.


Favorite aspect:  John and Rosanna's relationship, as mentioned before.  :)


This book is also very, very historically correct.  While most people believes the war was fought mainly for/against slavery, that is not the case, and Lisa Klein makes this very clear through the characters.  One point she drives across is that the South had the right to secede and only wanted their own way of life that they thought was right and just.


However, there were a few things that bothered me, and more than I would have expected.  The pace of the story, I felt, was choppy.  One moment it was really fast paced, and the next it dropped almost to boring.  And then fifty pages later it'd pick up again.  I felt like Lizzie's part of the story didn't really pick up until a hundred or so pages before the end.  Rosanna has a much more interesting life, and that makes Lizzie's life seem pretty slow.  But while I was disappointed with the pace of this story, I don't want it to discourage readers from picking this book up, as there is no denying that it is a wonderful story and that Lisa Klein is skilled at her art.


For parents to watch out for:  Rosanna and John get married, and it talks very inexplicitly about their love for each other.  They kiss (as do Lizzie and her beau), and it implies maybe three times that Rosanna and John sleep together.  However, they are married, and it is presented in a sweet, innocent way, with little or no description at all.


Summing it up with one word:  I actually can't use just one word.  I tried really really hard, but two words came to mind and they just won't do on their own.  The words are realistic and tender.  The tenderness in this story comes from the fact that it was so realistic; and the reality of this book has much to do with the tenderness in each other characters and even in the story itself.  Those words go hand in hand while describing this book, and I hope everyone who reads it feels the same way.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Buys 2/4-11/11

This week I bought one book that I've already read (but haven't reviewed)...

  • The Zookeeper's Wife, by Diane Ackerman  (WONDERFUL story...I will hopefully write a review sometime soon.)  $2.00 used (but in practically brand new shape).




And another book that I haven't read but am soooo excited to! :)

  • Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell  -  $8.00 on sale at Anthropologie


 

And then, the most exciting thing....  I WON A GIVEAWAY!  Okok, I'm just tooooo excited.  It's my first giveaway to win and I'm pretty much just stoked.  (Giveaway was won at http://www.thebookrat.com/  Thank you soooo soooo much Misty! :) )

  • Prom and Prejudice, by Elizabeth Eulberg




Aren't they all beauties?  I love the covers of all of them and can't wait to read them all (for the first and second times)!  :)

What did everyone get this week?  Leave a comment with your answer or with a link... :)

Happy reading!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Timeless by Alexandra Monir



Michele Windsor lives an ordinary life on the coast of California.  Her mother, Marion, is her best friend and confidant.  But when Marion dies in a car crash, Michele is sent to live with her wealthy and prestigious grandparents, Walter and Dorothy, in New York City.  She's kindly treated, but she doesn't like the high society life they lead, and misses home - and her dear mother - more than she can say.  But when mysterious things begin to happen, Michele only has more questions.  She's had the same dream for years - the one with the strikingly handsome boy in it - but now this boy is appearing it new dreams.  And after overhearing a strange conversation between her grandparents, Michele begins to wonder more about her father.  Who was he?  Is he somehow connected to her dreams?  And the boy...she has such a strong desire to be with him.  It is up to Michele - and Michele alone - to face these strange questions.

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This book fluctuated for me: first, I loved it; then, I wasn't sure about how the author was going to finish it (I still liked it, though).  But at the end, and toward the last quarter of the book, I was so surprised and amazed at the turn things had taken that I couldn't help but love it again.


This book starts and something and turns into something completely different.  The execution, and even the plot line, were super unpredictable and I can only sit here and admire the author for her outstanding job at pulling it all together like that.  (But there's more to be told...oh, there's so much more!)  Alexandra Monir's writing style wasn't my absolute favorite, but it was easy to read and clear.  I understood everything that was going on, even with the would-be confusing time-travel and such.  I really liked Michele and thought she was a relateable character.  Her emotions came across perfectly - I really did feel everything she felt.


There were a few conversations/paragraphs in which I thought the word choice was a bit cheesy (part of the reason why I didn't love her writing), but it didn't bother me too badly.  While I appreciated the love between Michele and the boy in her dreams (who she meets), I didn't exactly like their love story.  I didn't think that part of the execution was carried out very well.  For one, Philip wasn't the strongest character ever.  Likeable, but not strong.  He and Michele fall in love almost instantly (which I didn't mind exactly), but I thought for the amount of time they were together, there was too much kissing going on and not enough bonding.  When she wants to sleep with him the first time, he declines, saying he respects her too much to put her into that position.  Then it implies that they sleep together later in the story.  There are a few references to a couples having affairs.


Favorite character:  Michele...although, even though Philip isn't the strongest character, he is very likeable and does some very brave and virtuous things in Michele's honor.  I also really liked Henry Irving, for what very small amount of time he was in the story (promises for the next book!).


Favorite aspect:  Michele's affect on Time...though I can't say anything else without spoiling the story.


Summing it up with one word:  flowy.  It's true - it very much flowed, like ripples on the surface of a lake.  :)


Overall, this is a very original and interesting story, with several twists in the end that will leave you pining for more!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen



For the first fifteen years of her life, Catherine is nothing very special...  She isn't pretty or highly accepted by society.  But when she grows older, her parents finally see hope in Catherine's future, and let her go to Bath with their family friends the Allens.  While there, Catherine reads a great deal of romantic, adventurous, and horrific novels, and discusses them with her new-found friend, Isabella Thorpe.  When she meets Henry Tilney, Catherine quickly falls in love with him.  And when he and his sister ask Catherine to visit their home, Northanger Abbey, Catherine's fantasies (because of the novels she reads) quickly alarm her.  What is really going on behind the Abbey walls?

______________________________________________


That synopsis is not what this book is about.  I had to write something, but this is not a correct representation of the book.  It's what you'll read all over the place when you inquire about Northanger Abbey's contents.  Unfortunately, it's not the whole truth.  Yes, the book contains some of this.  Catherine does go to Bath with the Allens, she does fall in love with Henry, and she does begin to question the happenings of the Abbey and the Tilney family.  But would you like to know about how much of the book this takes up?  Maybe half.  And the mystery itself is only a quarter of the story.


I'm so disappointed.  I was expecting, by the description on the back of my Barnes and Noble copy (and everything else I'd read about it), that this would be a gothic novel full of mysteries and enchanting (or not so enchanting) secrets.  Not so.  The first "Volume" was consisted of their time in Bath, Catherine and Isabella's friendship, and possible suitors (other than Henry) for both of them.  Henry is introduced but not much happens between him and Catherine until a bit later.


Catherine, Henry, and Isabella were developed well, as were Mr. Thorpe, Isabella's brother, and Eleanor Tilney, Henry's sister.  Catherine and Henry were absolutely adorable together, honestly.  I could totally picture them together.  I guess character development is not the issue here.  Execution of story and too much fluff are, however.  There was so much that happened in the book that I totally could have skipped over and I still would have understood the story perfectly.  I honestly didn't feel that there was much point to this book, except to lengthen the time in which Catherine and Henry fall in love.


Favorite character:  Henry, definitely.


Favorite aspect:  Henry's interactions with everyone he knew, especially his sister and Catherine.  I also liked his brother's part in the story, but I won't spoil that for you if you want to read it.


Summed up with one word: pointless...  Sorry, all you Northanger Abbey fans.  It just didn't do it for me. :/

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

This review is devoid of spoilers, and it holds many many good things about the Percy Jackson books...  But if you haven't read the first one, you can also read my review for  
  1. The Lightning Thief (book 1)


Percy has been through everything a kid can imagine - and much more.  For a while he was fatherless, but after an accident, a big move, and a revelation, Percy discovers that he's the son of the sea god, Poseidon.  Now, after a summer of adventures and his first school year to stay in one school all year, his mom, and those at Half-Blood Camp, want him to stay put (although some may want it just because they want the glory for themselves).  But when his best friend sends Percy messages in dreams about the trouble he, Grover, is in, Percy must defy camp orders to save his friend - or die.
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I honestly don't know why I waited a whole six months to read this second book to the Percy Jackson series!

Seriously, the first thing I want to do when I think about this book is laugh.  I laughed soooo hard reading this book, not kidding.  It was full of sarcasm, wit, and unexpected humor in unexpected places.  The first book was funny, but this one made me laugh out loud (really hard) - within the first thirty pages I was getting strange glances from my family because I was laughing so loud.  One of my favorite scenes (I had two) was one of the most hilarious scenes I've read in a long time.  It's the scene in Chapter 3, We Hail the Taxi of Eternal Torment.  (PLUS, if you don't know this, the chapter names are histerical!)  You'll have to read the book to know what I'm talking about.  (Oh, and I have another favorite scene, but this one's more serious...  Chapter 13, Annabeth Tries to Swim Home.  A powerful scene, not something you would normally expect from these books, so it was a really neat.  It created a bond between Annabeth and Percy that wasn't there before, that I hadn't been expecting, and that I loved.)

I'm really glad I read this book.  It's funny (see, I just have to say it again), satisfying, and just fun.  It's written well and has fun new characters, and the usual, wonderful old ones.  This book promises a lot more for the future with a VERY surprising ending and more talk of the "secret" prophecy that involves Percy...so I think it'll be less than six months before I read the third one.

Favorite character: Percy.  I think he's fantastic.

Favorite aspect: Grover wearing a wedding dress.  Don't ask, just read.

One word to describe this book:  hilarious...because I just want to establish this one last time before I go. :)

Here is just one (one of the many) paragraph that I really enjoyed:
My fingers trembled.  Even before I opened it, I could tell it was from my father.  I could sense his power in the cool blue paper, as if the envelope itself had been folded out of an ocean wave.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

(Poem) In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place, and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing, fly,

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high!

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

A bit haunting, is it not?  But so good!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

January Summary

The first month of 2011 has passed.  It has been crazy, getting back into school, doing lots of reading, trying to write and keep up with this blog...  But it's been sooooo fun!  Want a recap of reviews?

(The single words next to each review are the words that I would choose to sum up each book.  So if you're looking for a book that fits that description, or the description catches your eye, you don't have to go searching through all the reviews for what you want.)

These are the books I read/reviewed in January:

(Eight books this month...  I'm quite proud of myself.  If I keep it up, maybe I'll hit the 100 books mark.....but don't count on it. ;) )


2011 Reading Challenge



read 8 books toward a goal of 63 books.



hide







These are the books that I read before and finally wrote reviews on:

  • Aurelia by Anne Osterlund  (loveable)

  • Magyk by Angie Sage  (simple - in a good way)


 

Outside of my reviews, this is what I've done on my blog this month:

I shared a couple of quotes:

 

I started a new weekly meme called Friday Buys, where I list all the books I buy, as I buy them.

 

And there are my pages:

  • If you're new to my blog, click here to read about me!

  • For updates on what I'm reading, click here!

  • For my (long) TBR list, click here!

  • To read any of my past reviews, I have them all lined up in alphabetical order on this_page!

  • And for giveaways, click here!


 

Where can you find me?

  • Goodreads

  • Facebook

  • Amazon

  • Or you can subscribe using the Email subscription box on the right side of the home page!


Being a fan/follower/confirmed subscriber on Goodreads and Facebook and my home page will usually bring a lot more points if you ever enter any of my future giveaways!  :)

And that's my January!  Take a look at my Blog Love (the links on the right side of the blog) and see what other book blogers have been up to this month.  I'm looking forward to February and what books it holds for me!!!  Happy, happy reading!! :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Buys 1/23/11 - 2/4/11

Two books these last two weeks.

  • Timeless by Alexandra Monir

  • A Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry (Willam Monk Novel #2)


          

SO. EX. CITED!

:)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Barnes and Noble Deal!! 20$ for 10$!!

Ok, Groupon is pretty much my best friend right now.

http://www.groupon.com/deals/barnes-noble-national-division?utm_medium=afl&utm_campaign=1225267&utm_source=rvs

This link will take you to the Groupon page that allows you to buy a coupon of 20$ worth at Barnes and Noble for only 10$!!!  Talk about a reader's deal...  You can only buy one per credit card, but if you have more than one credit card you can buy more than one coupon on a second (or even third) account.  (So basically one coupon per credit card per account.  Am I making sense???)

Another catch is that they usually have a limited amount of coupons to sell...which means that since there have been almost 100 coupons bought in the last five minutes, I suggest you buy fast.  Like, now.

This coupon expires on April 10th and can be used at any store, or online.  For books or ebooks.  For movies and games and calendars.  EVERYTHING! :)

It's pretty step by step to sign up if you don't already have one.  But if you need help, comment and I'll try to help you as much as I can!

Hope everyone gets a little bit of Barnes and Noble love!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

1/23-31/11




Hannah is a young girl working hard to provide for her family who is in desperate need of money and provision.  When a rich woman named Madame Pomeroy hires Hannah, she thinks her and her family's problems might just be solved.  Will they?

Giuseppe is a young boy who lives in an orphanage under the wicked Stephano.  He plays the fiddle in the streets to make money to give to Stephano.  But when he finds a beautiful green violin, he believes his life could be permanently altered...that he could someday go home to Italy again.  Can he?

Frederick doesn't want to be reminded of the orphanage he was once a part of - or that he doesn't know where his family is.  He works as a clockmaker for Master Branch, and is currently pulling together an automaton he believes can make him rich and solve all his problems.  Will it?

As these three young peoples' lives are pulled together, this story unfolds in a way that Hannah, Giuseppe, and Frederick would have never imagined.

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I was quite intrigued by this book, more than I was expecting when I bought it.  While it isn't a favorite, I will definitely read it again.  Hannah, Frederick, and Giuseppe were great leading roles, and the side characters helped move the story along very smoothly.  They needed to be there.  I can't imagine the story without a single one of them - and that's why I can't pick a favorite.  The three leads were amazing, each in his/her own way.  And Alice, Mister Branch, Miss Wool, and the Magnus head were phenomenal.  If I had to pick between them all, I would only be able to get down to two - Frederick and the Magnus head.  But even they are so tied with the rest...


One word I'd use to sum up this book would be precious.  It is a precious story, full of love, hope, friendship, and the gifts of a few young people put into action to better the lives of those around them.  My favorite aspect of the story is how perfectly it all falls together, the way the characters meet each other and interact.


The writing in this story is really well done.  It is just purely solid.  No fluff, in the best possible way.  There's really no way to describe it - you'll just have to read the story.  It's definitely a one-of-a-kind novel.  It could be categorized as steampunk - or fantasy - or even sci-fi - and yet it can also be categorized as a good old fashioned, adventurous fiction novel.


Do I have anything bad to say about this book?  Well, not necessarily bad, if you will, just some cautions.  There is a seance toward the beginning of the book, and while it moves the story along really well, it isn't developed any further (the woman performing the seance is said to be able to speak with spirits).  The book takes a turn for the creepy about half-way through, but that lasts for no more than 50 pages.  And the last thought I have is that about half-way through, the really  important things stopped happening.  I mean, every event, word, and scene in this book is important, but it wasn't as adventurous as the first or second half.  So if you start getting bored - DON'T put the book down.  You'll be so so so so happy you read it when it's over.  (I wasn't exactly bored with these few scenes, though, in case you're wondering...it's really hard to explain.)


This book is recommended to ages 12 and up (if you get scared really easily, don't read it at night because of the bits and pieces of creepy; otherwise, you're fine).  And while I think young readers will love this book, I believe adult readers will find it fascinating as well.  It's a solid piece of fiction and I can't wait to read more of Matthew J. Kirby's books!


P.S.  The Cover of this book is just as intriguing as the story, because its complexity matches the story within.  And the layout...well, it was so clean and easy to understand and read.  And I just LOVED that it had chapter names, and that the names actually caught my attention. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Morgan the Jersey Spy by James Otis



Two young cousins, Luis and Guy, are determined to someday help their country by serving in the American army against the British Redcoats.  But there fathers, both very prominent in the US Army, don't think they are ready.  And there mother's would never let them to enter into such danger.  But when the cousins meet Morgan, a faithful American spy dressed as a Red Coat, their loyalty and bravery will be put to the test in the adventures they must face.

___________________________________________________


I honestly have no idea how anyone could truly enjoy this book.  What could have been a fantastic story was too short (172 pages), unemotional, underdeveloped, unrealistic, and just plain stupid.  Everything about it was boring.  Nothing really happened.  The cousins were sent on a journey to give some information to Morgan the Jersey spy, but I quickly forgot the information - and if I forgot the reason why they were going straight into the enemy's camp, how important was that information, really?  So what did James Otis write about?  Not much.

As far as characters go...  Louis and Guy did things that anyone would never do.  Their actions were way overdrawn and most of the time, the conversations were cheesy and never progressed the story.  Morgan was the only "good" character, and even he was just...ok.

The story didn't even have the feel of the time period it was set in.  It was as though James Otis had his own ideas of what he wanted the war to look/feel like.  I am so disappointed because I was actually really, really excited to read this book.  Now I want to go pick up a classic that's actually good to get this one out of my head... :/