Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: "Becoming Marie Antoinette" by Juliet Gray

From Goodreads:  Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.

My Thoughts:  This book was provided to me by NetGalley for review.  I have always felt sympathy for Marie Antoinette and felt like history has been pretty hard on her.   I was really looking forward to this book but I simply didn’t like it as much as I had expected to.  While I enjoyed the writing, I feel like the characters were not well-developed and the story was kind of boring for me.  It barely kept my interest until the end of the story and I probably won’t read any of the subsequent books in the series.  I have read biographies and other historical fiction novels about Marie Antoinette and I felt like this story followed the exact same formula them.  I kept waiting for something new and/or exciting and was let down.  This book is almost like reading a book version of the “Marie Antoinette” movie starring Kirsten Dunst (which was a terrible movie) and someone who hasn’t seen this movie or read anything about Marie Antoinette may really enjoy this book.  It just wasn’t for me.  2 ½ stars

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top Ten Books on my TBR pile for the Fall

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

This week's topic is:  The Top Ten Books on My TBR (to be read) Pile this Fall

Some of these are books coming out this fall but most of them are books I have just been really wanting to read and haven’t gotten to yet.  I am really behind on reading, especially reading the books I own.
1.)    Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
2.)    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
3.)    The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
        --All three of the above books have been on my nook for MONTHS. 
4.)    Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie-I can not wait for this to come out in October.  I love Catherine the Great and Massie’s books are always good.
5.)    Mary Boleyn:  The Mistress of Kings by Alison Weir-This book also comes out in the fall and Weir’s fiction and non-fiction works don’t disappoint.
6.)    City of Bones by Cassandra Clare-I bought this a month or two ago and still haven’t read it!
7.)    Three Maids for a Crown by Ella March Chase-I have always had a soft spot for Lady Jane Grey.
8.)    The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King-I read The Gunslinger months ago but never got around to the rest of the series.
That’s only 8 books but between those and the other books I always manage to find, I should keep busy this fall.  Also, my library’s book sale is the first weekend in October so that should help lengthen my list a little.  What’s on your TBR list this fall?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness

From Goodreads:   Sometimes scholars should be more careful: Youthful researcher Diana Bishop briefly consults an medieval alchemical manuscript; then, after jotting down a few notes, sends it back to its prison in the stacks. Unfortunately for Diana, her quick dabbling has unleashed a long suppressed curse—and now only she can break the spell. Carefully researched, this debut novel will appeal to fans of historical novel infused with strong paranormal elements.

My Thoughts:  This was a LONG book but it was so good.  I feel like I haven’t read a really good book in a while and this one definitely broke my not so good book streak.  I loved the mix of paranormal with history.  It makes me wish I knew someone, like Matthew, who had lived through so many historical events and personally knew a bunch of famous historical figures.  I am also glad the author made sure that the paranormal aspects didn’t get ridiculous.  The characters were believable and relatable even if they weren’t human.  I also really liked the descriptions of wine; I don't even like wine but the descriptions made me want to start drinking it.  There were some similarities with Twilight but they were subtle enough that it didn’t feel like I was reading an adult version of Twilight.  Despite the fact that the book was pretty lengthy, the story, while not super fast paced, kept my interest to the very end.  I will definitely be picking up the next book in the trilogy.  4 stars.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In My Mailbox (15)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It's a way to showcase the books I purchased, downloaded to my nook and borrowed from the library in the past week.

From the library:

The Betrayal by Diane Noble

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

Borrowed from my mother in law (not pictured):

Licensed to Pawn by Rick Harrison


What goodies you get this week?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Blog Hop (15)

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

This week's question is:  Do you have pets?

I have an eight month old puppy named Turbo.  He is an English pointer and is extremely hyper but very cute.  Below is a semi recent picture of him.


Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: "Beauty Queens" by Libba Bray

From Goodreads:  The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?
My Thoughts:  The premise of this book is hilarious and for awhile I really enjoyed this book.  It is sarcastic and makes fun of beauty pageants which cracked me up.  But, it got old after awhile.  I think this book would have been much better if it hadn't been nearly so long.  The jokes started to get old about half way through and then I kind of just waited to see if it would get good again.  It didn't.  The ending was not that great and I just felt really let down when it was over.  In the beginning, I really liked the character of Adina but even she seemed kind of annoying and shallow by the end.  I kind of feel bad that I didn't enjoy this book more because I really wanted to like it.  3 stars.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: "My Fair Lazy" by Jen Lancaster

From Goodreads:  Readers have followed Jen Lancaster through job loss, sucky city living, weight loss attempts, and 1980s nostalgia. Now Jen chronicles her efforts to achieve cultural enlightenment, with some hilarious missteps and genuine moments of inspiration along the way. And she does so by any means necessary: reading canonical literature, viewing classic films, attending the opera, researching artisan cheeses, and even enrolling in etiquette classes to improve her social graces.

In Jen's corner is a crack team of experts, including Page Six socialites, gourmet chefs, an opera aficionado, and a master sommelier. She may discover that well-regarded, high-priced stinky cheese tastes exactly as bad as it smells, and that her love for Kraft American Singles is forever. But one thing's for certain: Eliza Doolittle's got nothing on Jen Lancaster-and failure is an option.

My Thoughts:  I love Jen Lancaster; her books and her blog are hysterical.  That being said, I didn’t love this book as much as I have loved her other ones.  Now don’t get me wrong, it was funny but it wasn’t the laugh out loud until your husband gives you a dirty look kind of funny (which was the case when I read Bright Lights, Big Ass).  I applaud Jen for expanding her horizons beyond reality television and I definitely could see where she was coming from what with feeling dumb around ‘cultured’ people and all. Also, as always, her husband provided some giggles.  It just didn’t suck me in the way her other books have maybe because I like the loud mouthed, Real World watching Jen.  I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this but I would recommend one of her other books first.  3 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday-Top Ten Books I loved but never Wrote a Review for

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week's topic is:

Top Ten Books I loved but never wrote a review for!
(All of these were read prior to my having a blog and my really caring about writing book reviews.)
1.)    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon-I really loved this book but I don’t think I knew how much I loved it until I finished the series.  I wish I had written down what I thought of it initially.
2.)    The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons-I know I have gushed about this series but I was so in awe of this book when I first finished it.
3.)    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4.)    Harry Potter series  by JK Rowling-I was a major Harry Potter hater until I finally read the first book which was at the time that book #5 came out.
5.)    The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory-I HATED this book and at the time, I could not tell enough people how much I hated it.  I don’t know if I care enough anymore but when I first read it, I would have loved to slam it in a review (SORRY!).
6.)    Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt-This is an amazing book that really sheds light on a complicated case.   I am so glad that these guys are finally free.
7.)    We the Living by Ayn Rand-I am not an Ayn Rand fan but this is seriously one of my top 2 favorite books of all time.
8.)    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury-The other of my top 2 favorite books of all time.
9.)    The Giver by Lois Lowry-Dystopian at its very best
10.)                        War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy-I know some people don’t like this book but I thoroughly enjoyed it (which surprised the heck out of me).  I have read it twice (once in English and once in Russian) and both times it was fantastic.
If you haven’t read any of these books, you should check them out!  What made your top ten list this week?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: "Pope Joan" by Donna Woolfolk Cross

From Goodreads:  For a thousand years her existence has been denied. She is the legend that will not die–Pope Joan, the ninth-century woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female ever to sit on the throne of St. Peter. Now in this riveting novel, Donna Woolfolk Cross paints a sweeping portrait of an unforgettable heroine who struggles against restrictions her soul cannot accept.
Brilliant and talented, young Joan rebels against medieval social strictures forbidding women to learn. When her brother is brutally killed during a Viking attack, Joan takes up his cloak–and his identity–and enters the monastery of Fulda. As Brother John Anglicus, Joan distinguishes herself as a great scholar and healer. Eventually, she is drawn to Rome, where she becomes enmeshed in a dangerous web of love, passion, and politics. Triumphing over appalling odds, she finally attains the highest office in Christendom–wielding a power greater than any woman before or since. But such power always comes at a price . . .

My Thoughts: 
This was a really engaging read.  I know that there is almost no evidence that there was a Pope Joan, I thought the author did a great job of creating a plausible character out of conjecture.  I loved the idea that an intelligent woman infiltrated a man’s world and managed to rise to the highest office possible in Europe at that time (this book takes place in the 800s).  Joan was a relatable character and I was really happy that the author did not let the minor romantic aspect of the story overtake everything.  I thought it was cool that the author had Joan choose duty over love because it made the story more believable.  I did not love how abruptly the story ended though.  It felt like the story moved really quickly and then boom, it was done.  I understand why she did it but at the same time it felt kind of rushed.  All in all, I liked this book and as always I especially appreciated that the author included an extensive note at the end of the book explaining the actual facts surrounding the story.  4 stars.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: "A Love that Multiplies" by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar

From Goodreads:  In this second book from the Duggars, they focus on the principles that equip them to face life's challenges—drawing from their most recent challenge with the 3-month premature birth of their newest child, Josie. They also share the new challenges their older children are facing as they prepare for adult life. Central to the book is a section on the principles that the Duggars have consistently taught their children. These simply worded principles are basic to the Duggar family and are shared in a way that other parents can incorporate in their own homes. A special chapter on homeschooling gives valuable information to parents who are considering this route or are already invested in it. The world continues to be amazed by their nineteen well-groomed, well-behaved, well-schooled children and their home life, which focuses on family, financial responsibility, fun—and must importantly, faith. The Duggars show how parents can succeed whether they’re rearing a single child or several.

My Thoughts:  I am kind of obsessed with the Duggars.  I think they are fascinating and I watch their show pretty regularly.  Their kids are smart and seem well-adjusted and Michelle seems like such a good mom.  That being said, I wasn't too crazy about this book.  If you have watched the show, especially recent seasons, then it is kind of a rehashing of what you have seen on tv.  There were a few chapters on how they homeschool their children and how they manage to keep their cool with 19 kids running around but there wasn't a lot of new information.  I was really hoping that there would be more of a discussion about how they deal with finances but that part was pretty brief.  I did enjoy the recipes interspersed throughout the book and the discussions about how they teach their children manners but overall, I wasn't wowed by the book.  If you watch the show, you may want to skip the book.  3 stars.

In My Mailbox (14)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It is a great way to showcase books I have received throughout the week.  This week has been crazy!  I just finished my second week at a new job and my old laptop gave out.  Luckily I was able to get a new one (thanks to my hubs!) but am now super behind on my reviews.  I will try to catch up this week.  I did get a couple new books this week.


From the Library:

Before Versailles by Karleen Koen

The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Have any of you read these?  Did you all get anything good this week?


Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Blog Hop (14)

The Book Blog Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books.  It is a great way to hook up with other bloggers and check out cool blogs.  I am sorry I am posting this so late, my new job is keeping me pretty busy!

This week's question:  What is the longest book you have ever read?

I am not sure which is the longest, but I have read War and Peace, Atlas Shrugged, and The Stand and they are all super long!

What about you?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: "Next to Love" by Ellen Feldman

From Goodreads:  A story of love, war, loss, and the scars they leave, Next to Love follows the lives of three young women and their men during the years of World War II and its aftermath, beginning with the men going off to war and ending a generation later, when their children are on the cusp of their own adulthood.
Set in a small town in Massachusetts, the novel follows three childhood friends, Babe, Millie, and Grace, whose lives are unmoored when their men are called to duty. And yet the changes that are thrust upon them move them in directions they never dreamed possible—while their husbands and boyfriends are enduring their own transformations. In the decades that follow, the three friends lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places. And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which feminism, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities—and uncertainties. And yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war.
Beautifully crafted and unforgettable, Next to Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.

My Thoughts: 
This book was provided to me by Random House via NetGalley for review.  I am so glad I got to read this book!  I am a huge historical fiction fan but I don’t normally read books in this genre that are set in the 20th century.  This was an amazing story of love, loss and the affects of war on soldiers and their families.  I loved how the author showcased women who lost their husbands in World War II as well as a woman whose husband came home from the war extremely damaged.  This book was very well-written and the characters were so believable.  I was really drawn to the character of Babe Huggins because I felt like she had so much to deal with and she managed to do it with grace.  Despite the fact that her husband survived the war, I felt like she had a bigger cross to bear than her friends did because she had to learn how to live with her traumatized husband.  The way the author portrayed how war affects families and whole communities was perfect and I personally appreciated how she showed the effects of war on the parents and siblings of the soldiers fighting the war.  This was an extremely good read that I would recommend to just about anyone.  4 ½ stars.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: "Delirium" by Lauren Oliver

From Goodreads:  Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.
My Thoughts:  I think I am getting bored with the whole dystopian genre.  As much as I love dystopian novelsI  think that after this book, I need to take a break.  Delirium was a good story and I thought that the idea of there being a cure for love to be intriguing.  It was kind of annoying that there was no discussion of how they cured someone of being able to love or how they developed this procedure but hopefully in future books, this will be answered.  I liked the characters well enough but I didn't feel super connected to any of them.  I didn't feel that Lena was the same type of heroine as in other dystopian novels, for example, Katniss or Tris.  Feel free to flame me for this review but I really felt like this book followed a typical dystopian novel formula and that really annoyed me.  It is the first in a series and I will be reading the next one just because I hate not knowing what will happen to the characters.  3 stars. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday-Favorite Book to Movie Adaptations

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

This week the topic is open so in honor of the new movie The Help, I decided that my Top Ten list would be my Favorite, and least favorite, Book to Movie Adapatations.

Favorite:

1.) A Time to Kill
2.) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1
3.) Shutter Island
4.) Sense and Sensibility
5.) Gone with the Wind

Least Favorite:

1.) The Horse Whisperer
2.) Interview with a Vampire
3.) Twilight
4.) The Reader

What's on your Top Ten list today?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: "Christine" by Stephen King

From Goodreads:  It was love at first sight. From the moment seventeen-year-old Arnie Cunningham saw Christine, he knew he would do anything to possess her. But Christine is no lady. She is Stephen King's ultimate vehicle of terror
My Thoughts:  I was really nervous about reading this book.  I saw parts of the movie as a child and it completely freaked me out and because of that I had no desire to read the book.  I am so glad I did because I could not put it down.  This is one of my new favorite Stephen King books.  The story was so good, the characters were amazing and oh my goodness, was it creepy.  The idea of a possessed car sounds kind of lame but trust me, this book is anything but lame.  Roland LeBay is the perfect villain and Dennis Guilder is the average guy turned hero; I can't say enough about how well-written and well-developed these characters were.  And of course, King had to end the book in a way that made my skin crawl.  I really loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone even if they haven't read Stephen King's books before.  4 1/2 stars.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In My Mailbox (13)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It is a great way to highlight any books I have received throughout the week.
I started a new job this week and have been super busy so I only received one book this week.  Which is fine seeing as how I have a huge stack of library books to get to.

From NetGalley:
   Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

What's in your mailbox this week?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Blog Hop (13)

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

This week's question is:  “Let’s talk crazy book titles! Highlight one or two (or as many as you like!) titles in your personal collection that have the most interesting titles! If you can’t find any, feel free to find one on the internet!”

There are two titles that I think are cool in my collection:
   "When Christ and His Saints Slept" by Sharon Kay Penman
   "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" by Nina Sankovitch

Are there any cool titles in your collections?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: "Accidents of Providence" by Stacia M. Brown


From Goodreads:  A new voice in historical fiction rescues a woman wronged by her time and forgotten by history, whose love affair leads to her trial for murder.

It is 1649. King Charles has been beheaded for treason. Amid civil war, Cromwell’s army is running the country. The Levellers, a small faction of agitators, are calling for rights to the people. And a new law targeting unwed mothers and lewd women presumes anyone who conceals the death of her illegitimate child is guilty of murder.

Rachel Lockyer, unmarried glove maker, and Leveller William Walwyn are locked in a secret affair. But when a child is found buried in the woods, Rachel is arrested.

So comes an investigation, public trial, and unforgettable characters: gouty investigator Thomas Bartwain, fiery Elizabeth Lillburne and her revolution-chasing husband, Huguenot glover Mary Du Gard, and others. Spinning within are Rachel and William, their remarkable love story, and the miracles that come to even the commonest lives.

My Thoughts: 
This book was provided to me by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for a fair review.  “Accidents of Providence” was a surprisingly good read.  When I was an undergrad, I took a whole class on women and the legal system in early modern England so this book really appealed to me.  It was completely different than any novel I have read and was more like a non-fictional account than a fictional one.  This changed towards the end but for the most part I could completely envision this as being a historical account of an infanticide trial.  All of the characters in the story were likable and I thought the characters of Rachel and Bartwain were the most developed.  There was a love story intertwined with the plot but I found myself caring more about the trial and those participating than the romantic aspects.  I feel like this story did a good job of portraying how few options women had if they were unmarried and became pregnant.  What happened to Rachel was incredibly sad but what was even more heart-breaking was the fact that women in early modern England, and probably other countries, had to deal with a legal system that would not support them.  I would highly recommend this book as it is a great addition the historical fiction genre.  4 stars.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's topic is:  Top Ten Underrated Books

1.) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
2.) Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov
3.) The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
4.) We the Living by Ayn Rand
5.) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I can only come up with 5 right now.  Is there anything you think I should add?

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade" by Diana Gabaldon


From Goodreads:  Diana Gabaldon takes readers back to eighteenth-century Britain as Lord John Grey pursues a deadly family secret as well as a clandestine love affair, set against the background of the Seven Years War.
Seventeen years earlier, Grey’s father, the Duke of Pardloe, shot himself, days before he was to be accused of being a Jacobite traitor. By raising a regiment to fight at Culloden, Grey’s elder brother has succeeded in redeeming the family name, aided by Grey, now a major in that regiment. But now, on the eve of the regiment’s move to Germany, comes a mysterious threat that throws the matter of the Duke’s death into stark new question, and brings the Grey brothers into fresh conflict with the past and each other.
From barracks and parade grounds to the battlefields of Prussia and the stony fells of the Lake District, Lord John’s struggle to find the truth leads him through danger and passion, ever deeper, toward the answer to the question at the centre of his soul–what is it that is most important to a man? Love, loyalty, family name? Self-respect, or honesty? Surviving both the battle of Krefeld and a searing personal betrayal, he returns to the Lake District to find the man who may hold the key to his quest: a Jacobite prisoner named Jamie Fraser. Here, Grey finds his truth and faces a final choice: between honour and life itself.

My Thoughts:  I am a huge Outlander fan and I think that is why I decided to read the Lord John books.  The eighth Outlander book won't be out until next year at the earliest so I need something to help me get my Jamie Fraser fix.  Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade is an okay book; it gives you more background about Lord John and his childhood and family which is nice to know.  It's not an overly exciting story and I think I really would have hated it if I wasn't an Outlander fan.  It's one saving grace is that Jamie Fraser makes an appearance.  There are other characters that I would much rather read about from Gabaldon's books but I don't hate Lord John.  It just seems like he is kind of whiny and spoiled and it gets kind of old.  I actually enjoyed the female characters in this book (his cousin, mother and sister-in-law) much more than I liked him and would enjoy reading more about them in future Lord John books. 3 stars.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: "The Likeness" by Tana French


From Goodreads:  Six months after the events of In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is still recovering, Transferred out of Dublin's Murder squad at her own request, she vows never to return. That is, until her boyfriend, Detective Sam O'Neill, calls her one beautiful spring morning, urgently asking her to come to a murder scene in the small town of Glenskehy.

It isn't until Cassie sees the body that she understands Sam's insistence. The dead girl is Cassie's double, and she carries ID identifying her as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie herself used years ago when she worked undercover. The question becomes not only who killed this girl, but who was this girl.

Frank Mackey, Cassie's former undercover boss, sees the opportunity of a lifetime, Having played Lexie Madison once before, Cassie is in the perfect position to take her place. The police will tell the media and Lexie's four housemates that the stab wound wasn't fatal. And Cassie will go on living Lexie's life until the killer is lured out to finish off the job.

It's a brilliant idea, until Cassie finds herself more emotionally involved in Lexie's life than she anticipated. Sharing the charming ramshackle old Whitethorn House with Lexie's strange, tight-knit group of university friends, Cassie is slowly seduced by the victim's way of life, by the thought of working on a murder investigation again, and by the mystery of the victim herself.

As Cassie nears the truth about what happened to Lexie Madison and who she really was, the lines between professional and personal, work and play, reality and fantasy become desperately tangled, and Cassie moves closer to losing herself forever.


My Thoughts:  Tana French is not your average murder mystery writer.  Her books are dark and deep and after I finished In the Woods, I was depressed for a week.  Her characters feel real but are so damaged that it's hard on the reader (or at least on me).  The Likeness started out kind of slow but became more fast paced as the story went on.  I liked that the French brought Cassie back as a main character but it was difficult to stay engaged with the character because she was so messed up.  I did enjoy the character of Frank Mackey and am excited that French's third novel showcases him.  He was tough and snarky and pretty entertaining overall.  The main thing that bothers me about this book besides the fact that it is super dark, is the lack of real resolution at the end of the book.  This book does not end nicely and all the loose ends are not tied up and Cassie seems almost more damaged than she did at the beginning of the book.  I know i shouldn't always expect a happy ending but after the awful way that In the Woods ended, I was really hoping for one in this book.  If you like more depth than the average murder mystery provides, you will like this book.  Although I highly recommend that you do not read this book if you have not already read In the Woods.  You will not be able to understand the constant flashbacks to Operation Vestal and the psychological damage it wreaked on Cassie if you don't already have that background.  3 stars.

In My Mailbox (12)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It's a great way to share books that I have received in the last week.  I am on a self-imposed book buying moratorium so I will be sharing a lot of library books for the next couple of weeks.


From the library:

A Love that Multiplies by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

From Netgalley:

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

What's in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review: "Dead Souls" by Nikolai Gogol


From Goodreads:  A socially adept newcomer fluidly inserts himself into an unnamed Russian town, conquering first the drinkers, then the dignitaries. All find him amiable, estimable, agreeable. But what exactly is Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov up to?--something that will soon throw the town "into utter perplexity."
After more than a week of entertainment and "passing the time, as they say, very pleasantly," he gets down to business--heading off to call on some landowners. More pleasantries ensue before Chichikov reveals his bizarre plan. He'd like to buy the souls of peasants who have died since the last census. The first landowner looks carefully to see if he's mad, but spots no outward signs. In fact, the scheme is innovative but by no means bonkers. Even though Chichikov will be taxed on the supposed serfs, he will be able to count them as his property and gain the reputation of a gentleman owner. His first victim is happy to give up his souls for free--less tax burden for him. The second, however, knows Chichikov must be up to something, and the third has his servants rough him up. Nonetheless, he prospers.
Dead Souls is a feverish anatomy of Russian society (the book was first published in 1842) and human wiles. Its author tosses off thousands of sublime epigrams--including, "However stupid a fool's words may be, they are sometimes enough to confound an intelligent man," and is equally adept at yearning satire: "Where is he," Gogol interrupts the action, "who, in the native tongue of our Russian soul, could speak to us this all-powerful word: forward? who, knowing all the forces and qualities, and all the depths of our nature, could, by one magic gesture, point the Russian man towards a lofty life?" Flannery O'Connor, another writer of dark genius, declared Gogol "necessary along with the light." Though he was hardly the first to envision property as theft, his blend of comic, fantastic moralism is sui generis.--

My Thoughts:  I don't know if I have just been away from Russian literature too long or what but I really struggled with this book.  I loved Gogol's satirical short story "The Nose" and was sure that I would enjoy this book as well.  That was not the case.  The book felt too long and too wordy and I just slogged through it.  There were parts of it that were funny and the descriptions of how stupid some of the characters were was neat but otherwise I just couldn't get into it.  I am glad that I can finally say that I have read it but I definitely did not enjoy it.  2 stars.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Blog Hop (12)

The Book Blog Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books and is a way to connect with other bloggers.

This week's question is:  What is the one ARC you are dying to get your hands on right now?

I am really hoping to get my hands on Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Gray!  I requested it from netgalley.com so we'll see if they approve my request.

What about you?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: "Pale Rose of England" by Sandra Worth

From Goodreads:  From the award-winning author of The King's Daughter comes a story of love and defiance during the War of the Roses.

It is 1497. The news of the survival of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, has set royal houses ablaze with intrigue and rocked the fledgling Tudor dynasty. With the support of Scotland's King James IV, Richard-known to most of England as Perkin Warbeck-has come to reclaim his rightful crown from Henry Tudor. Stepping finally onto English soil, Lady Catherine Gordon has no doubt that her husband will succeed in his quest.

But rather than assuming the throne, Catherine would soon be prisoner of King Henry VII, and her beloved husband would be stamped as an imposter. With Richard facing execution for treason, Catherine, alone in the glittering but deadly Tudor Court, must find the courage to spurn a cruel monarch, shape her own destiny, and win the admiration of a nation.


My Thoughts:  I know that I said I want to see less Tudor novels but I must say that I really enjoyed this book.  I have read some negative reviews of this book but I think if you pick up this book looking to be entertained, rather than educated, by the story then you will enjoy it.  I think it was appealing to me because while it dealt heavily with pertaining to Henry VII and Henry VIII, the main focus of the book was a completely new character who I never heard of before.  I enjoyed the idea, created by Ms. Worth, that Perkin Warbeck really was one of the princes in the tower who survived and tried to regain his throne.  I also liked that the story provided a view of the Tudors from the outside and painted them in a negative light; the story was told more from the York, i.e. the loser's,perspective which is different than a lot of Tudor novels out there. It was interesting to see how the Yorkists might have felt, and the difficulties they might have dealt with, living under the reign of the Tudors.  I also appreciated the author's note at the end of the book; she explained her research extensively and was very clear about the fictional and non-fictional aspects of the book.  Overall this was a nice piece of light fluffy historical fiction. 4 stars.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's topic is:  Top Ten Trends You Would Like to See More/Less Of

Less:

1.) Vampires-I have had it with teen vampire novels and authors trying to bank on Twilight's popularity.  Try something new!
2.) Tudor novels-I love historical fiction and during my undergraduate years, I studied Tudor Britain extensively and I am currently reading a Tudor novel.  That being said, it's getting old and the books are getting worse.  There are so many interesting historical characters and time periods but it seems that all the new historical fiction I see is about the Tudors or takes place at the Tudor court or whatever.  If the books were well done, I wouldn't mind but a lot of the really new stuff is garbage.
3.) Trilogies-I am so tired of reading trilogies and series.  Whatever happened to stand alone books???  Quit leaving me hanging for years on end.
4.) Bookstore closings-My local Border's closed in April and I was so sad to see it go.  As my as I love my nook, I really hope that the closing of Border's is not a precursor to more bookstore closings.

More:

1.) Strong Female Heroines-Books like The Hunger Games and Divergent have showcased strong female heroines like Katniss and Tris who totally kick butt and save the day.  I want to see more of these characters especially in YA novels.  No more sniveling cry-baby girls who only care about getting the guy!
2.) Awesome YA novels-There is so much good YA fiction out there and I hope it just keeps getting better.  What better way to encourage young people to read than to actually have good YA fiction?
3.) Funding for Libraries:  I am very lucky to have such an awesome local library and I wish that every town could be as lucky.


What do you want to see more or less of?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: "The English Patient" by Michael Ondaatje

From Goodreads:  Haunting and harrowing, as beautiful as it is disturbing, The English Patient tells the story of the entanglement of four damaged lives in an Italian monastery as World War II ends. The exhausted nurse, Hana; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burn victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning. In lyrical prose informed by a poetic consciousness, Michael Ondaatje weaves these characters together, pulls them tight, then unravels the threads with unsettling acumen. 

My Thoughts:  I bought this book at a library sale a few months ago and was not sure whether or not I would like it.  I must say that I was pretty surprised at how the story pulled me in.  The English Patient is a beautifully written story; Ondaatje's writing is full of emotion and his descriptions are amazing.  The story itself is sad and shows how the horrors of war affect people differently but I felt like there was some hope for these characters despite their struggles.  This is a story without a clear cut beginning and ending but I felt like it worked in this situation. I will admit that at times I got confused about the story and had to go back and reread but overall, I am so glad that I read it.  It's hard to describe why I enjoyed it but I think the emotions that Ondaatje evokes in his writing play a big role.  4 stars.

July Wrap-Up

July was a rough month for me.  I read a lot of books but many of them I did not enjoy.  It's completely hit and miss with books (some sound great and aren't) but I am hoping that in August, I will have better luck.  My goal for August is to try to make a dent in the books I already own and haven't read but we'll see how that goes.

I read 18 books in July and have read a total of 119 books for the year.  Here is what I read this past month:

1.) In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
2.) Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich
3.) The Bone-Setter's Daughter by Amy Tan
4.) Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
5.) The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn
6.) Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
7.) The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
8.) The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner
9.) Divergent by Veronica Roth
10.) Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters
11.) Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
12.) Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende
13.) Columbine by Dave Cullen
14.) My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
15.) The Blue Light Project by Timothy Taylor
16.) Push by Sapphire
17.) Eve by Anna Carey
18.) The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

What did you read in July?
 
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