Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: "Everyone Worth Knowing" by Lauren Weisberger

From Goodreads:  Soon after Bette Robinson quits her horrendous Manhattan banking job like the impulsive girl she's never been, the novelty of walking her four-pound dog around the unglamorous Murray Hill neighborhood wears as thin as the "What are you going to do with your life?" phone calls from her parents. Then Bette meets Kelly, head of Manhattan's hottest PR firm, and suddenly she has a brand-new job where the primary requirement is to see and be seen inside the VIP rooms of the city's most exclusive nightclubs. But when Bette begins appearing in a vicious new gossip column, she realizes that the line between her personal life and her professional life is...invisible.

My Thoughts:  I received this book in a book exchange; it didn't seem like something I would like but I figured I should give it a chance.  It turned out be something I didn't like.  It moved slow, the characters were shallow and not super likable and it seemed about a hundred pages too long.  Bette started to get on my nerves after a while; she made a lot of dumb decisions and then couldn't seem to figure out why her life was a disaster and everyone was mad at her.  Sammy was about the only enjoyable character and even he was annoying at times.  The story was fairly predictable and overall it was just a silly, not very enjoyable book.  2 stars.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox (24)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Happy (almost) Halloween everyone!  I hope your weekend is going well! 

Here is what I received this week:

From the Library:

What's in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: "The Favored Queen" by Carolly Erickson

From Goodreads:  Born into an ambitious noble family, young Jane Seymour is sent to Court as a Maid of Honor to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s aging queen. She is devoted to her mistress and watches with empathy as the calculating Anne Boleyn contrives to supplant her as queen. Anne’s single-minded intriguing threatens all who stand in her way; she does not hesitate to arrange the murder of a woman who knows a secret so dark that, if revealed, would make it impossible for the king to marry Anne. 
Once Anne becomes queen, no one at court is safe, and Jane herself becomes the victim of Anne’s venomous rage when she suspects Jane has become the object of the king’s lust. Henry, fearing that Anne’s inability to give him a son is a sign of divine wrath, asks Jane to become his next queen. Deeply reluctant to embark on such a dangerous course, Jane must choose between her heart and her loyalty to the king.

My Thoughts:  This was very different than other Tudor era book I have read before mainly because it focused on Jane Seymour.  She is normally barely mentioned in books except to say that she was Prince Edward's mother and it was nice to see a book from her point of view.  Through her eyes, the reader gets to see interesting views of Catherine of Aragon as well as Anne Boleyn though I must say I was kind of shocked by how badly Anne Boleyn was portrayed.  She was shown in a very bad light in this book.  That being said, Jane seemed to be a likeable enough character who had a give up a lot to serve the Queens before her.   This book wasn't too exciting but it wasn't bad either.  The one thing that did bother me is the fact that Jane Seymour had two brothers and the author only saw fit to include one in the story; it was as though Thomas Seymour didn't exist.  I know it's kind of silly but it still annoyed me.  Overall, a decent book about a lesser known historical figure.  3 stars.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Friday! (9)

Another Friday, yippee! Once again, the past week has kicked my butt so I am ready for the weekend!  It's also time for Friday memes!
Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

This week's question is:  If you could have dinner with your favorite book character, who would you eat with and what would you serve?

Oh my goodness, this is so hard!  I would probably want to have dinner with Kira from We the Living.  We would probably eat something Russian like pelmeni or stroganoff.

I also wouldn't mind having dinner with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. ; )

Who would you like to eat with?

The Book Blog Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books.  It's a great way to meet new bloggers and check cool blogs!
This week's question is:  What is your favorite Halloween costume?

I love homemade, creative costumes.  I recently read online about someone who dressed up as an "unhappy camper", I think that sounds awesome!  So, in honor of creative, homemade costumes  I am posting a picture of my brother when he was about 5 or 6 in one of my favorite costumes ever!

My mom made this costume, including the triceratops head (it's papier-mache).  Pretty cool, huh?

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: "Angel of Vengeance" by Ana Siljak

From Goodreads:  In the Russian winter of 1878 a shy, aristocratic young woman named Vera Zasulich walked into the office of the governor of St. Petersburg, pulled a revolver from underneath her shawl, and shot General Fedor Trepov point blank.  “Revenge!,” she cried, for the governor's brutal treatment of a political prisoner. Her trial for murder later that year became Russia's "trial of the century," closely followed by people all across Europe and America. On the day of the trial, huge crowds packed the courtroom.  The cream of Russian society, attired in the finery of the day, arrived to witness the theatrical testimony and deliberations in the case of the young angel of vengeance.  After the trial, Vera became a celebrated martyr for all social classes in Russia and became the public face of a burgeoning revolutionary fervor. Dostoyevsky (who attended the trial), Turgenev, Engels, and even Oscar Wilde all wrote about her extraordinary case. Her astonishing acquittal was celebrated across Europe, crowds filled the streets and the decision marked the changing face of Russia. After fleeing to Switzerland, Vera Zasulich became Russia's most famous "terroristka," inspiring a whole generation of Russian and European revolutionaries to embrace violence and martyrdom.  Her influence led to a series of acts that collectively became part of “the age of assassinations.” In the now-forgotten story of Russia's most notorious terrorist, Ana Siljak captures Vera's extraordinary life story--from privileged child of nobility to revolutionary conspirator, from assassin to martyr to socialist icon and saint-- while colorfully evoking the drama of one of the world’s most closely watched trials and a Russia where political celebrities held sway.

My Thoughts:  This was a pretty interesting book.  I picked it up thinking it would be just a biography of Vera Zasulich but it turned out to be a lot more.  In addition to talking about Vera and her infamous crime, the author also delved into the rise of Russian terrorism and the revolutionary movement.  There was a lot of information about what events and ideas led Vera to shoot the governor of St. Petersburg but sometimes I forgot that I was reading a biography because it felt like most of the book was about terrorism in Russia during the 19th century.  I would have liked to read more about Vera's life and less about the various revolutionary movements in general. The book moved between giving background information, Vera's childhood and her trial which was confusing at times.  I also thought it was odd that the author seemed to be praising Vera's actions; in this day and age the word 'terrorist' has a LOT of negative connotations but this book almost praised and/or seemed to agree with the terrorist activity she was describing.  Overall, this was a very informative book. 3 stars.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant

From Goodreads:  Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's society.

My Thoughts: 
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book.  I had heard good things about and picked it up multiple times but never got around to reading it.  I really wish I hadn’t put it off for so long because I really enjoyed it.  I loved seeing the story of Jacob and his sons as told by a woman (Jacob’s daughter, Dina) and it was interesting to see that the author didn’t make Joseph into this amazing person.  Joseph was almost one of the many villains in the story which goes against everything I was always taught as a kid which I think is great.  This was a very unique story of women in ancient Canaan and it was so fascinating to see the customs of the time and how everyday life was for women.  I felt like Dinah was such a strong character and I found myself not being able to put the book down because I wanted to see what would happen to her next.  The writing in this book is excellent and made the story that much more enjoyable.  This was definitely an excellent read.  4 stars.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top Ten Books to Read During Halloween

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is:  Top Ten Books To Read During Halloween

1.)     The Shining by Stephen King-The ultimate Halloween book!
2.)    Dracula by Bram Stoker
3.)    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
-Both of these books books are gothic literature at its best!
4.)    Pet Semetary by Stephen King
Animals and people rising from the dead equal a great Halloween story.
5.)    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova-Vlad the Impaler…enough said.
6.)    In the Woods by Tana French-This murder mystery was super dark and very creepy!
7.)    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman-A book set in a graveyard is a great read at Halloween.
8.)    Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin-Oh my goodness, the murderer in this story was a FREAK.  So scary!
9.)    The Witching Hour by Anne Rice-Witches and ghosts and demons, oh my!
10.) Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith-Another murder mystery with an uber scary villain!

What books do you like to read around Halloween?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs

From Goodreads: 
A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

My Thoughts:  This book was a nice surprise.  I only bought it because the cover was super creepy and the title was unique.  I honestly didn't think that I would like it but it kind of pulled me in.  The photographs were strange but cool and the characters seemed to be from a circus sideshow and were weird but still being incredibly lovable.  Jacob was an interesting character; he is from a very dysfunctional family but seemed unaffected by the dysfunction around him.  Jacob's grandfather, who was not alive throughout most of the book, was also a really neat character who at first I didn't whether to like or dislike.  By the end of the book, he was very endearing character.  The only thing I didn't like about this book was that there was no real closure at the end.  I felt like the author left the story wide open for a sequel and I am kind of getting tired of having to read more than one book to find out how things are going to end.  3 stars.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In My Mailbox (23)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I honestly didn't expect to get any books this week but several of my requests at the libary came in so I actually have something to share!  I have instated a book buying ban until after Christmas so from here on out you will probably see a lot of library books in my mailbox.

From the Library:

Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward
(These are my new brain candy!)
The Favored Queen by Carolly Erickson
(This is the final book I plan to read as part of the Henry VIII challenge.  It's taken me forever to find a 5th book!)

Free Download from Project Gutenberg:

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

(I am reading this book as part of the November Group read hosted by A Literary Odyssey)

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: "Lover Awakened" by J.R. Ward

From Goodreads:  J. R. Ward's third entry in the fabulous Black Dagger Brotherhood vampire series (Dark Lover, Lover Eternal) is "all adrenaline all the time," starting from page one. Again, we are back in Caldwell, New York, where a deadly street war continues between the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a band of six vampire warriors, and their enemies. One warrior, Zsadist, is perhaps the fiercest; with his scarred face and shaven skull, he looks like the Grim Reaper, if the Reaper were packing a small arsenal! Not even his twin, Phury, can understand Zsadist's obsession with finding the beautiful Bella, an aristocratic civilian abducted six weeks earlier by the evil Lessening Society.

When Zsadist finds Bella -- and he does -- she has been traumatized by her abduction and feels safe only with him. Their subsequent passionate romance is undeniably one with issues. Zsadist's past as a blood slave, humiliated and sexually abused for centuries, has left deep scars. Bella's abduction fills him with the need for revenge. Still, this is not just a tale of passion between two strong characters; it is also the tale of the two brothers, Zsadist and Phury, who were separated at birth, and their subsequent history.

My Thoughts:  Can I just say that I LOVE this series?  Lover Awakened is the third book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I swear that these books just keep getting better and better.  From the first book, I found Zsadist to be a really intriguing character; one minute he was super hateful, and the next he seemed kind of sad.  I love that, in this book, the reader gets to learn more about his past and to see why he is the way he is.  He was just such a lovable character.  I also liked that we got to know Bella much better in this book; she had a cameo in Lover Eternal but the reader was told very little about her.  This book had a CRAZY ending, some of the stuff that happened really surprised me and left me so excited for the next book.  Even if you don’t normally lean towards paranormal books, I highly recommend this series.  It is sooooo good and super addictive.  You won’t be able to put them down!  4 stars.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Friday! (8)

Happy Friday everyone!  This week has been INSANE at work so I am very excited that it's Friday!

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books.  It's a great way to check out other blogs and meet some cool bloggers.

This week's question is:  What's your favorite candy?

I LOVE sweets so this is a tough question!  I would have to say that my favorite candies are Peanut Butter M&M's and red licorice (never black!).  I also enjoy Reese's and Snickers....see I told you I loved sweets!

What are your favorite treats?

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

This week's question is:  What superhero is your alter-ego?

Oh my goodness this is a hard question.  I am not really into super heroes but I do love Batman.  He has an awesome car and a ton of really handy gadgets.  Also, the bat cave is pretty freaking amazing!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher

From Goodreads:  Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

My Thoughts:  I am still not really sure how I feel about this book.  It was like nothing I have ever read and it just infuriated me.  I was so angry at Hannah for most of the book and the main reason I plowed through the book was because I wanted to see how things would turn out for Clay.  I felt kind of bad for Hannah, she did have to deal with some major bullying but there were also other things that happened that she had complete control over but still tried to blame on other people.  She put herself in some really bad situations and then rather than talking to a friend or her parents, she just gave up and tried to play the victim.  I have a really hard time with the fact that she blamed EVERYONE for her suicide and not once looked at herself and her actions.  Some of the people she went to school with were bad people but that doesn’t mean it’s their fault that she made the choice to end her life.   Her attitude just started to really piss me off as the book went on.  I also felt really bad that Clay, a decent guy who had not done anything wrong, got dragged into her game.  He was such a kindhearted character and would have been a good friend to her if she had tried.  I don’t really know what else to say about this book other than I can’t really give it a star rating.  I am glad I read it but I don’t know how I could ever rate it.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: "Madame Tussaud" by Michelle Moran

From Goodreads:  
In this deft historical novel, Madame Tussaud (1761-1850) escapes the pages of trivia quizzes to become a real person far more arresting than even her waxwork sculptures. Who among us knew, for instance, that she moved freely through the royal court of Louis XVI, only to become a prisoner of the Reign of Terror? Her head was shaven for guillotining, but she escaped execution, though she was forced to make death masks for prominent victims. Novelist Michelle Moran covers this breathtaking period without losing the thread of its subject's singular story.

My Thoughts:  
I have read so many rave reviews about this book that I was sure I would love it.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.  It’s not that I hated, or even disliked, this book, I just didn’t think it was fantastic.  The story was slow and predictable and the end was kind of anticlimactic.  The end left me with tons of unanswered questions that I won’t list here because I don’t want to give anything away.  I did really like Marie (Madame Tussaud) as a character; she was strong, ambitious and just not your average 18th century female.  She was very inspiring and I really was sympathetic to her situation what with stuck between the revolution and the royals she had befriended.  I just wish there had been more!  The story tells about her time in France prior to her becoming extremely famous and the struggles she faced during the revolution but I think I would have liked to read more about what happened after the revolution ended.   I guess I had built up in my mind how great this book would be and I wound up being a little disappointed.  3 stars.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top Ten Books Whose Title/Cover Made Me Buy It

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is: 

Top Ten Books That Whose Titles Or Covers Made Me Buy It
I only have 5 books on my list this week as I just could not think of any others that would fit.
1.)     Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children-The cover of this book is so creepy that I couldn’t resist buying it.
2.)    The Bronze Horseman-The only reason I picked up this book is because it has the same title as a famous Pushkin poem as well a statue in St. Petersburg.
3.)    The Witch of Cologne by Tobsha Learner- I have picked up this book multiple times and finally purchased it last week.  The cover is so odd looking that I am completely intrigued by it.
4.)    Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater-I don’t think I would have bought this if the cover wasn’t so beautiful.
5.)    The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker-I haven’t this yet but I bought it for my nook because the title just sounds hilarious.
6.)    The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall- I really didn’t like this book at all but the title was so interesting that I couldn’t resist.
What covers/titles do you love?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Review: "Dracula" by Bram Stoker

From Goodreads: 
The aristocratic vampire that haunts the Transylvanian countryside has captivated readers' imaginations since it was first published in 1897. Hindle asserts that Dracula depicts an embattled man's struggle to recover his "deepest sense of himself as a man", making it the "ultimate terror myth".

My Thoughts: 
How have I put off reading this book for so long???  For some reason, I thought it would be boring and super lame.  WRONG.  This was a great book and it’s no wonder it is considered a classic.  The creepy factor reminded me a lot of The Woman in White and the story hooked me right away.  The characters were silly but lovable and I found myself completely engrossed in the story.  It was really hard for me to get the picture of Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing out of my head because the original Van Helsing is nothing like that.  Madame Mina seemed to be the smartest one of the bunch though she tried to play herself off as an unintelligent woman.  For being a ‘classic’ it was pretty fast paced; the end kind of dragged but other than that, it really kept my interest.    It is kind of crazy to think that this is the original vampire book; if it weren’t for Dracula would we have ever had The Vampire Chronicles or Twilight?  I also liked that this book had a fairly happy ending, I was worried that everyone would be dead in the end.  Overall, a great book that I would recommend to anyone.  4 stars.
I read this book as part of a readalong hosted by A Literary Odyssey.  You should head over there and check out the other great Dracula reviews

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox (22)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
This was a crazy book week!  I went back to the library book sale on their $7 bag night and bought a ton of books (basically for $7 you get as many books as will fit in a bag).  I also got a few other books too.

From the library:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Falls the Shadow by Sharon Kay Penman
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

 March by Geraldine Brooks
Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
The German Woman by Paul Griner
Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filopovic
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The Witch of Cologne by Tobsha Learner

Whew!  I better get reading!  What's in your mailbox this week?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Friday!! (7)

Happy Friday everyone!  I have the day off today so I am super excited for a three day weekend! 

The Book Blog Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books.

This week's question is: 
“What is your favorite spooky book (i.e. mystery/suspense, thriller, ghost story, etc.)?”

My favorite spooky book is The Shining by Stephen King.  I read it in Junior High and it still scares me to think about it!  The book is way scarier than the movie and I remember reading it when I was home by myself and being completely freaked out. 

What's your favorite spooky book?

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.
This week's question is:  If you could have characters from a particular book meet and form an epic storyline with characters from a particular TV series, which would you choose and why?

I would have the characters from the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning join up with the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I think Mac and Buffy could kick some series butt together and Angel and Barrons would be a smoking hot team.  This team would have no trouble saving the world from all kinds of demons and unseelie.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: "The Winter Palace" by Eva Stachniak

From Goodreads:  Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.
What Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power.
With dazzling details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Varvara’s secret alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup to assume the throne of all of Russia.
Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales.

My Thoughts:  This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for review.  I have always greatly admired Catherine the Great but this book kind of made me question that.  This book tells the story of Varvara, a spy at the court of Empress Elizaveta I around the time of the arrival of Catherine the Great in Imperial Russia.  Varvara is a very sympathetic character; she is an orphan who was allowed to live at the Winter Palace after her father's death and she seemed to really just want to be loved.  She didn't have anyone she could trust and the people she thought she could trust were using her (i.e. Catherine and Elizabeth).  I feel like the author showed the male figures in a much more flattering light than the female historical figures which kind of bothered me.  Catherine and Elizabeth were by no means perfect but this book made them seem like horrible people.  I am very familiar with Catherine the Great's arrival in Russia and years prior to her coup but I liked how the book gave an inside (albeit fictional) look at what everyday life may have been like during that time.    Overall, I enjoyed the story; it moved kind of slow but I appreciated that Varvara got a relatively happy ending.  3 stars.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hit My Reading Goal!

So as of last night, I have read 150 books this year which is crazy!  I decided to make things a little interesting and try to hit 200 books by the end of the year.  I have some reservations as to whether or not this will be possible but we'll see.

Where are you all at with your reading goals?

Review: "Dark Lover" by J.R. Ward

From Goodreads:  In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.

My Thoughts:  I am not a huge paranormal fan, normally I shy away from these types of books so when I heard amazing reviews of this book, I was pretty skeptical.  I picked up copy at the library but never got a chance to read it so when I received another copy in a book exchange, I decided I should give it a shot.  I cannot believe how much I enjoyed this book!  I really needed something fun and easy to read and this was it.  Yes, it’s another vampire book but the characters are awesome and the story sucked me in.  The various members of the brotherhood are unique and likeable in their own special way and I really liked Butch as a character.  The romance aspect of the story is great and overall this is a great fluffy read.  I can’t to read the next in the series (I can’t believe there are like 9 books!).  4 stars.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.
Today's topic is:  Top Ten Books I Wish I Read Again for the First Time

I am not going to put individual explanations for each of these books.  All of ten of these books completely blew me away when I first read them.  Each of them stuck with me for a long time after reading them and I consider all of them to be some of the best books I have ever read.  I find myself hoping that each book I read will affect me the same way that these books have; sometimes they do and sometimes I am disappointed.
1.)     Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
2.)    The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
3.)    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4.)    Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
5.)    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
6.)    We the Living by Ayn Rand
7.)    The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
8.)    Kolyma Tales by Varlaam Shalamov
9.)    A Time to Kill by John Grisham
10.) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
What’s on your list?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: "The Siege" by Helen Dunmore

From Goodreads:  Helen Dunmore's astoundingly beautiful new drama of two intertwined love stories unfolding during the 1941 siege on Leningrad has already been deemed "a pinnacle in [her] fiction, and in the year's fiction too" (The Telegraph) and "a world-class novel" (The Times). At once epic and intimate, The Siege is a modern masterpiece. Sudden news of a German attack rips the Levin family — twenty-two-year-old Anna; her young brother, Kolya; and their father, Mikhail — from their countryside retreat, throwing their world into unimagined turmoil. Soon all of Leningrad is trapped by the besieging German army, but daily life must go on. While Kolya plays with his toy fort, his tiny body grows cruelly thin. While Anna dreams of an artist's life, she forages for food in the ever more desperate city. Likewise, Dunmore's lush, lyrical appreciation of life's comforts — a fire in the hearth, jam on the tongue — dwells in The Siege even amid the darkest despair. Before the siege is over, a mysterious ex-actress (Mikhail's onetime lover) and a gentle young doctor (Anna's true love, perhaps) come to the Levins' frozen little apartment. Not all of the five will survive, but their struggle and their tragedy will ultimately bear hope for a new beginning. Helen Dunmore brilliantly shows us war as seen through the eyes of ordinary people "while bravely extending her range" (The Daily Mail). The Siege is a profoundly moving celebration of love, life, and survival.

My Thoughts: 
            My master’s degree is in Russian and East European Studies and I love Russian history so anytime I see a work of historical fiction that takes place in Russia, I will read it.  This book begins with the German invasion of Russia in 1941 and follows the life of a family during the first year of the siege of Leningrad.  While the story is slow at times, the writing is beautiful.  Part of the story is told from the point of view of Anna, a girl in her early twenties who is responsible for her father and 5 year old brother.  Anna is a fantastic character:  she is strong, hard-working and determined to do what it takes to save her family.  I also found her really relatable; she’s not a hero, just a girl who has sacrificed, and continues to sacrifice for the sake of her brother.  Other parts of the story are told from the third person point of view and it’s as though you are watching what is going on throughout the city as people are struggling to survive and those in power try to figure out to feed the citizens of the story.  I absolutely loved the switch between the two points of view.  I also liked how the story ended at the end of the first year of the siege.  The siege of Leningrad lasted for almost 900 days so the story ends on a hopeful note but leaves the reader wondering what will happen during the next year.  Surprisingly, this didn’t feel like a cliffhanger ending and I found myself not bothered by the story ending the way it did.  A sequel to this book just came out last month and I am sure I will read it.  3 ½ stars.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In My Mailbox (21)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
I had a great week this week!  My local library book sale started on Thursday so I went and picked up a few books.  I plan to go back tomorrow for their $7 bag night so next week's IMM should be good too.

Here is what I got:

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Tully by Paullina Simons
Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George
The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by his Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George

Yesterday, I read Dark Lover and I loved it so much that I went out and bought the next two books in the series.

Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

What's in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review: "The Emancipator's Wife" by Barbara Hambly

From Goodreads:  As a girl growing up in Kentucky, she lived a sheltered, privileged life filled with picnics and plantation balls. Vivacious, impulsive, and intoxicated by politics, she is a Todd of Lexington, an aristocratic family whose ancestors defeated the British. But no one knows her secret fears and anxieties. Although she is courted by the most eligible suitors in the land, including future senator Stephen Douglas, it is a gangly lawyer from Illinois who captures her heart. After a stormy courtship and a broken engagement, Abraham Lincoln will marry twenty-four-year-old Mary Todd and give her a ring inscribed with the words “Love Is Eternal.”

But their happiness won’t last nearly so long. Their first child will be born under the gathering clouds of a civil war, and three more follow. As Lincoln’s star rises, the pleasure-loving Mary learns, often the hard way, the rules of being a politician’s wife. But by the time the fiery storm of war passes, tragedy will have claimed two sons, scandal will shadow her days as First Lady, and an assassin’s bullet will take Lincoln himself, leaving Mary alone and all but forgotten by the nation that owed her husband its survival.

Yet it is in the years to come that Mary Todd Lincoln will truly come into her own. In public, she will fight to preserve Lincoln’s memory even as she battles a bitterly contested insanity trial. In private, she will struggle with depression and addiction as she endures the betrayals–both real and imagined–of family and friends.

My Thoughts:  This book made me feel really sorry for Mary Todd Lincoln; she had such a hard life!  Her mother died when she was young, three of her sons died and her husband was assassinated right next to her, it's no wonder she was eccentric.  It also seems that she suffered from depression and other issues that wasn't helped by the "medicine" she was prescribed.  This book mad Mrs Lincoln into a sympathetic character; she was not always likeable but I always felt for her.  Ms. Hambly made Mrs Lincoln into such an interesting character that I kept wanting to read more.  It was really hard to put this book down!  The writing was excellent and I also liked how Ms. Hambly included the power that men had over women at this time.  Mary Lincoln was tried for insanity and hospitalized because her son couldn't (and wouldn't) deal with her.  This brought up the subject of men regularly institutionalizing unruly women, i.e. women who didn't follow the social norms of the time.  Mary Todd Lincoln was a such a tragic figure and I feel like this book did a good job of showing both her good side and bad side.  4 stars.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Friday! (6)

Friday is finally here!!!!  This week has been super crazy and is all kind of blur.  I am so glad I get to actually relax this weekend.

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

This week's question is:  If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

My Answer:  I would switch places with Claire Fraser from the Outlander series because I would love to be able to travel through time.  She gets to see some really amazing historical events and I think that would be awesome!!

Who would you switch places with??

The Book Blog Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books.

“It’s time to spread some love beyond the borders of the Book Blogger Hop! This week, we aren’t answering a question. We are spotlighting our fellow bloggers. Find your favorite(s) author interview(s), guest post(s), book review(s), or bookish article(s) that ANOTHER BOOK BLOGGER featured on their site recently and tell us why you love it/them!"

I love A Literary Odyssey's preliminary review of Moby Dick.  I have never really wanted to read this book but this review actually made the book sound intriguing.  It's one of those books I should read before I die and I think it will be moving up on my TBR pile.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top Ten Books That Left Me with My Mouth Hanging Open

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's topic is:  The Top Ten Books that Left Me with My Mouth Hanging Open

1.)    An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon-When I got to the end of this book I seriously thought my book was short pages. 
2.)    My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult-If you read my review of this book, then you know I HATED the end of this book.  I was sobbing and yelling WTF??!! at the same time.
3.)    Forever by Maggie Stiefvater-When this ended, I couldn’t believe it.  There were so many of my questions left unanswered!!
4.)    Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins-This had a crazy cliffhanger ending!
5.)    Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning-The end of this book left me yelling NONONONO! 
6.)    Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane-I never saw this coming.
7.)    We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver-I had an idea of what was going to happen at the end of this book but it was even worse than I expected.
8.)    The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown-I guess I wasn’t paying close attention because I didn’t see that ending coming.
I could only come up with eight this week.  What books left you with your mouth hanging open?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: "Quiver" by Holly Luhning

From Goodreads:  In sixteenth-century Hungary, Countess Elizabeth Báthory tortured and killed over six hundred servant girls in order to bathe in their blood; she believed this brutal ritual would preserve her youth and beauty

Danica, a young forensic psychologist, is drawn to Báthory’s legend. She has moved from Canada to England to work at Stowmoor, a Victorian insane asylum turned modern-day forensic hospital. One of her patients, the notorious Martin Foster, murdered a fourteen-year-old girl in homage to Báthory. He cultivates his criminal celebrity and Danica struggles to maintain a professional demeanor with the charismatic Foster as she begins to suspect that his activities may be linked to a cabal that idolizes Báthory.

Danica’s life in London becomes increasingly complicated when Maria, a glamorous friend from Danica’s past, arrives to do archival work in the city. She claims to have discovered Báthory’s long-lost diaries and slowly reveals horrific passages to Danica. As Danica’s career and her relationship with her artist-boyfriend, Henry, begin to break down, Maria lures her into a complex social sphere. Unsure of who to trust, Danica’s professional and personal lives become dangerously entwined, and she must decide what she is willing to risk to satisfy her attraction to Báthory’s ominous legend

My Thoughts:  Ugh!  I thought this book was terrible!  It sounded like a good creepy October book but it was so lame.  The main character is sad and weak and doesn’t have a lot of common sense and the other characters aren’t very well defined.  The parts that focus on Elizabeth Bathory are extremely graphic and give you little information about her except to describe, in great detail, the way she killed people.  YUCK.  There were parts that I had to skip because the mental picture was more than I could take.  The book was very slow, I kept hoping it would pick up but it never did and it just got progressively worse.  There was finally a point where the story didn’t make any sense and then it ended and there was no real closure or explanation of why things happened the way they did.  It was just bad and I have no idea what the author was trying to do with the story.  I feel like I wasted time that could have been spent reading a good book. 1 star. 
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