Friday, June 29, 2012

Quick Note

Hi Readers!  I just want to apologize for not being around much the past week or two.  We are getting ready to move at the end of July and it's making life a little hectic.  I am behind on my reading & blogging right now but am hoping to do some catch up over the weekend.  That being said, don't be surprised if my posts in July are sporadic.  I am hoping to keep up with my reading plans but that will depend on how smoothly packing/moving go.

Hope everyone is having a great summer!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: "Hugh and Bess" by Susan Higginbotham

From Goodreads:  Forced to marry Hugh le Despenser, the son and grandson of disgraced traitors, Bess de Montacute, just 13 years old, is appalled at his less-than-desirable past. Meanwhile, Hugh must give up the woman he really loves in order to marry the reluctant Bess. Far apart in age and haunted by the past, can Hugh and Bess somehow make their marriage work?
Just as walls break down and love begins to grow, the merciless plague endangers all whom the couple holds dear, threatening the life and love they have built.
My Thoughts:  I apologize that this won't be a very lengthy review.  Hugh and Bess is a sweet little love story about two people who didn't really want to marry each other but wound up falling in love with each other.  It was a very simple story and at times it felt more like I was reading a short story rather than a novel.  There wasn't a lot of depth to the story or much of a plot.  I read The Traitor's Wife a few years ago and Hugh and Bess felt like a continuation of that book; it was almost like a really long epilogue in that you get to see what happened to Eleanor and Hugh le Despenser's children after Hugh was executed.  While the book is mostly about their eldest son, Hugh (there are a lot of Hugh's in this book), their other children make appearances and the reader gets to see how their lives turn out. 

I enjoyed the story but it wasn't really what I expected as it is completely different than any of the other books I have read by Higginbotham.  Hugh and Bess were fun characters and I liked that there were a lot of more well-known historical figures thrown into the story (Edward III, the Fair Maid of Kent, Queen Isabella).  I also liked how Higginbotham showed that despite Hugh's parentage, he was able to bring some sense of respectablity back to his family.  In the beginning, he and his family were kind of blacklisted but by the end they had proved themselves to the king and everyone else.  Overall, this is a nice, easy read that would be perfect to take to the pool on a hot summer day. 3 stars.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: "Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov

From Goodreads:  Published two weeks after his seventieth birthday, Ada, or Ardor is one of Nabokov's greatest masterpieces, the glorious culmination of his career as a novelist. It tells a love story troubled by incest. But more: it is also at once a fairy tale, epic, philosophical treatise on the nature of time, parody of the history of the novel, and erotic catalogue. Ada, or Ardor is no less than the supreme work of an imagination at white heat.My Thoughts:  I am just going to put it out there...I do not love Nabokov.  I really dislike his writing style and I have not enjoyed any of his books.  I took a class on him in college and we read 6 of his books, Ada, or Ardor was the one we didn't get to and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since.  I know he is considered a great writer but I think I am seriously missing something when I read his works.  The story was all over the place and it seemed like everyone was having sex with each other, whether or not they related.  I also didn't like any of the characters, I don't know if that was because of the way the story was written or just because they weren't likable.  In some ways, the story seemed similar to Lolita. Van Veen reminded me of Humbert Humbert and his inappropriate relationships with his family members as well as the constant reference to 'nymphets' just kept making me think of Lolita.

 Reading Ada is like reading one big word game in English, Russian and French.  I know Nabokov enjoys playing with words but it got really annoying after awhile.  Because incest plays a big role in the story, there is this constant 'insect, incest, nicest' word play going on.  There is also a play on the name Ada as 'ad' means hell in Russian and that was constantly being thrown around.  I found it annoying that there were whole passages in French and no translation; I felt like I was missing important information. 

There was one quote in the story that I did love:  "...the human brain can become the best torture house of all of those it has invented, established and used in millions of years...".  I have to give Nabokov credit for such a great quote.  I am personally rating this book 2 stars because I really didn't like it.  This doesn't mean that Nabokov isn't a great writer and that others won't enjoy his works, he just REALLY is not for me.  Honestly, I just don't get him and maybe that makes me stupid but oh well.  I will most definitely not be reading anymore Nabokov after this.  2 stars.

I read this book for the Classics Bribe.  You should check it out!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: "The Queen's Vow" by C.W. Gortner

From Goodreads:  Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she and her brother are taken from their mother’s home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his sultry, conniving queen. There, Isabella is thrust into danger when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragon.

As they unite their two realms under “one crown, one country, one faith,” Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor Torquemada even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when the Moors of the southern domain of Granada declare war, a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, one that will test all of Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny.

From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and the intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile.

My Thoughts:  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for honest review.  I have always had this love/hate relationship with Isabella of Castile.  I think she was an amazing woman but the whole Inquisition situation really bothered me.  This book made me think about her in a completely different way.  Gortner portrays as an extremely intelligent person who made very well-thought out decisisions.  Gortner's Isabella was not sure as to whether or not she was in favor of the Inquistion as she did not want to foment rebellion in her kingdom.  Now I don't know if Gortner's portrayal of her is accurate but it definitely made me think twice about looking at Isabella with a black and white mindset. 

For the most part, I really enjoyed this story.  It was neat to follow Isabella as she fought for control of Castile and worked to cement her power.  Gortner did a great job of showing the reader Isabella as the warrior queen as well as the loving wife and mother.  I felt bad for her character in that she had to deal with an extremely self-centered husband.  He didn't seem to be able to deal well with the fact that she was queen in her own right and the constant stroking of his ego kind of got annoying.  This story also had some great side characters.  Isabella's confidante, Beatriz, was a really feisty female character who added a lot to the story and to Isabella's character. I also felt like the story kind of faltered toward the end.  It seemed really rushed like the author wanted to hurry up and finish the story.  I understand that it would have been extremely difficult to write a book about Isabella from childhood to her death but the story just stopped around the time Isabella was patronizing Christopher Columbus.  Otherwise, I thought this was a very unique look at Isabella.  I definitely want to read more of Gortner's work.  4 stars.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: "The Tea Rose" by Jennifer Donnelly

From Goodreads:  East London, 1888 - a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger's son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.

But Fiona's life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan's tea trade. But Fiona's old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future.

My Thoughts:  I enjoyed this book more than I expected to.  There were things that definitely bothered me about the story but for the most part I thought it was a good story.  I felt like at times the events that took place were a little bit predictable; at times, it was pretty easy to anticipate what would happen next.  I also thought that at times the story was a kind of overly dramatic.  There were times where it felt like I was watching a soap opera.  Normally, these types of things would make me not like a book but somehow I still felt connected to the story and the characters.  Fiona was one such great character.  She was strong, smart and incredibly ambitious.  Despite her upbringing, she knew what she wanted and was willing to work hard to make her dreams come true.  I loved that when it came down to it, she always followed her heart. (Okay, that was really cheesy to say but it's true).  The love story between Joe and Fiona was also one of my favorite aspects of this book.

The story makes the reader go through all kinds of emotions; at times it's creepy, at other times sad or super exciting.  I thought it was cool that the author included the Ripper murders into the story.  It added a bit of a mystery to the story which I think is always fun in a work of historical fiction.  This book is the first in a trilogy and I am kind of glad of it.  Even though the book was pretty long, I still had a lot of questions at the end and it looks like the next two books address those questions.  Overall, I am really glad I read this book and am excited to read the next one.  4 stars. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR List

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

This week's topic is:  Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR List

Oh my goodness!  There are so many books on my summer TBR list.  It's a little out of control!  Here are a few that I hope to get through this summer.

1.) The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead-I am so ready to find out what's going on with the Vampire Academy gang!
2.) Insurgent by Veronica Roth-I didn't love Divergent but I am still very curious as to what will happen in this book.
3.) City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare-I can't quit this series even though the last book was pretty meh.
4.) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley-I definitely want to read some classics this summer and for some reason I have never read this.
5.) The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy-Another classic to read this summer.
6.) Ada or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov-I have put off reading this for far too long.  It is like a nagging thorn in my side so I am going to finish it this summer.
7.) The Death of Ivan Ilyich and other stories by Lev Tolstoy-I love Tolstoy and this has been on my shelf for a while. 
8.) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin-Why have I still not read this????
9.) Twilight in Russian-I really need to practice my Russian language skills.  I am hoping to take a class in the Fall and this should help me prepare a bit.
10.) The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett-I am not sure if I will get to this one.  I have a lot of other books to read this summer and it may be ambitious of me to think I will get to this one.

That's a portion of my summer reading list.  What do you really want to read this summer?  Are there any new releases you are excited about?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: "Her Highness, the Traitor" by Susan Higginbotham

From Goodreads:  As Henry VIII draws his last breath, two very different women, Jane Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, and Frances Grey, Marchioness of Dorset, face the prospect of a boy king, Edward VI.

For Jane Dudley, basking in the affection of her large family, the coming of a new king means another step upward for her ambitious, able husband, John. For Frances Grey, increasingly alienated from her husband and her brilliant but arrogant daughter Lady Jane, it means that she—and the Lady Jane—are one step closer to the throne of England.

Then the young king falls deathly ill. Determined to keep England under Protestant rule, he concocts an audacious scheme that subverts his own father’s will. Suddenly, Jane Dudley and Frances Grey are reluctantly bound together in a common cause—one that will test their loyalties, their strength, and their faith, and that will change their lives beyond measure.

My Thoughts:  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I have read a few of Susan Higginbotham's books in the past and really enjoyed them so when I saw that she had a new book out that involved Lady Jane Grey, I was in.  I have read a couple historical fiction works that focus on Lady Jane but this book was completely unlike any I have read in the past.  It is told from the point of view of Lady Jane Grey's mother and her mother-in-law which is a completely new and different perspective that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I feel like Higginbotham did a great job of portraying a sympathetic character in Lady Frances Grey.  There are several books where she is portrayed as a horrible, hateful woman but Higginbotham's Lady Frances was a loving, but strict, mother.  I appreciated that she included extensive notes at the end of the book explaining how the research she had done had not pointed to Lady Frances being a hateful person.  I actually really liked Frances Grey in this book while in other books I have not. I also liked that Lady Jane Grey wasn't portrayed as this poor, picked on child.  Higginbotham showed her as a 'typical' teenage girl who couldn't relate to her mother rather than a saintly young woman.  It was refreshing to see such a different portrayal of Jane.  I don't know much about the Dudley family or Jane Dudley (the elder).  It seemed like Higginbotham was kinder to the Dudley family than history has been and once again, she documented in her notes how her research led her to form the characters the way she did.  

This was a very intriguing and well-written story.  There were a TON of characters but I felt like they were easily distinguishable.  Despite the fact that I knew how the basics of how the story would end, I wanted to keep reading to find out how Higginbotham would portray these events.  Overall, this was a great book with a unique story and I think any fan of historical fiction will enjoy it.  4 stars.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (6)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is great way to showcase all the books you received during the week.

This week was such a great week for books!  A bunch of my holds from the library came in and I received some other really awesome books.  I can't wait to get to them all!

From the Library:

For Review from the Author:

From NetGalley:

What books did you get this week?

Friday, June 15, 2012

"The White Russian" by Tom Bradby

From Goodreads:  January 1917—With St. Petersburg on the brink of revolution, Sandro Ruzsky, the city’s chief police investigator, returns from exile in Siberia only to be assigned a grisly case: the bodies of a young couple found on the ice of the frozen River Neva, just outside the Tsar’s Winter Palace. Ruzsky’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the royal family and to the woman he loves, and he finds himself confronting both a ruthless killer and the ghosts of his past as he fights desperately to save all that he cares for.

With meticulous research and narrative skill Tom Bradby brilliantly re-creates the gilded salons and squalid tenements of St. Petersburg in the last days of the tsars. Evocative and thrilling, The White Russian is a tumultuous story of murder and betrayal in a city at the crossroads of history.

My Thoughts:  I found this book completely by accident.  It was on display at the library and the cover made me pick it up.  It sounds like a book that would be right up my alley but it just wasn't as good as I expected it to be.  The story started off really well as Ruszky is a really unique character.  He is a prince who is estranged from his family and works for the Petrograd police department.  He is a moral, upright guy in a cesspool of dishonesty and intrigue.  He always tried to do the right thing even if it impacted him negatively.  I found him to be a likeable character but he is portrayed as this really great investigator who at times completely misses everything that is going around him.  There were times where I was surprised that the author portrayed him as a little slow on the uptake.  It also could have been the author trying to show that he was a little naive but I am not so sure.

The mystery aspect of the story is intriguing in the beginning but starts to get confusing in the end.  I don't know if this is because there were so many characters involved in the mystery or if it was a way to indicate how tumultous the times were.  The author definitely did impart the urgency of the situation; the story is set weeks before the February Revolution will take place and Bradby did a good job of describing an empire on the brink of revolution. 

I hated the ending.  I am just going to say it.  It wasn't what I expected and it was kind of abrupt and very sad.  Also, the reader never finds out what happens to Ruszky after the mystery is dealt with and I really wanted to know more.  I would have loved it if there had been an epilogue but oh well.  Overall, an okay read.  3 stars.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review: "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

From Goodreads:  Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous entanglement that results in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne's concerns with the tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale, trapped by the rules of society, stands as a classic study of a self divided.

My Thoughts:  This is my first book finished for the Classics Bribe.  Yay!  I feel like I should have read this book a LONG time ago but I was kind of afraid of it.  After reading it, I am kind of surprised at myself because it was not bad at all.  It was a nice change to read a book that is mostly told from an outside perspective; it felt like I was watching through someone else's eyes.  There is a narrator but we never find out who this person is and and that never bothered me. 

Hawthorne's writing is so good and his descriptions are fantastic: from the gold stiching on Hester Prynne's scarlet "A" to little Pearl and her personality, it was easy to imagine the characters and their world.  Hester was such a strong, passionate character and I really admired her ability to deal with being ostracized by the people in town.  She is a sharp contrast to Arthur Dimmesdale who I really didn't like.  I understand why he portrayed the way he was but he just seemed so sniveling and pathetic.  I wanted to shake him and yell "Man up!".  Based on his personality, it was really hard for me to imagine his involvement in Hester's story.  I was also kind of mad at the end because it felt like to me that he got off a little too easy (I don't want to give anything away so I won't elaborate).

Honestly, while I admired Hester immensely, my favorite character in the book was Pearl.  She was just so different!  She was bubbly and precocious and the way Hawthorne described her made her seem so adorable.  The way he describes her playing in the woods and her reactions to her mother and Dimmesdale was just awesome. 

In the end, I was really glad I read this book.  It is definitely a unique piece of literature adn I really enjoyed it.  3 stars.

Quotes I loved:
"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."

"The child could not be made amenable to rules. In giving her existence a great law had been broken; and the result was a being whose elements were perhaps beautiful and brilliant, but all in disorder, or with an order peculiar to themselves, amidst which the point of variety and arrangement was difficult or impossible to be discovered."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Top Ten Beach Reads

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

This week's topic: Top Ten Beach Reads

I love to read super fluffy books at the beach so that's pretty much what this list will be comprised of!

1.) The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward-I wouldn't mind spending a beach day with Vishous and the other brothers.

2.) Anything by Nora Roberts-I don't read her books very often but they would definitely be something I throw in my beach bag.

3.) The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead-I wouldn't call this series fluffy but it is definitely one that would keep me glued to my beach chair.

4.) The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich-Hilarious fluffy fun!  My only concern would be that these books would make me laugh out loud and people would look at me weird.

5.) Anything by Jen Lancaster-Sea, sand and snark...count me in!

6.) The Millenium series by Stieg Larsson-I know that not everyone loves these books but they completely sucked me in.  They would have been great books to take to the beach!

7.) The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning-Beach and Barrons?  Yes, please!

That's all I've got!  What books are on your list?  Leave me a link so I can check it out!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: "The Wolves of Andover" by Kathleen Kent

From Goodreads:  In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves-in many forms-who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, The Wolves of Andover confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories of family from colonial history.

My Thoughts:  I picked this up because I read The Heretic's Daughter a few years ago and really enjoyed it.  It wasn't until I was well into the book that I realized it is a prequel to The Heretic's Daughter (I may have to reread it now!).  The Wolves of Andover takes place in the 17th century and bounces between London and the Massachusetts colony.  It follows the story of Martha, a woman who is sent to work as a servant in her cousin's house.  Martha is such a strong female lead.  She is 'older' (23) and unmarried and pretty feisty.  As the story progresses, the reader finds out that she has overcome some pretty serious abuse which explains some of her behavior.  Her cousin is not very useful so she has to jump in and take care of the house, children and the hired help.  Thomas is one of the hired men working on the farm.  Honestly, as a character Thomas kind of made me swoon.  He was a lot older than Martha and not much is known about his past (until the end) but he seemed to always say and do the right things while still being so humble.  This is a love story but it is so subtle that it's not sappy or overpowering to the rest of the story.

I really like reading about colonial America and this book made me want to read more.  Kent paints a fantastic picture of colonial life; her descriptions of farm life and the trappings of a colonial household make this story that much more interesting.  I also loved how Kent blended the story of the execution of Charles I with Martha's story by drawing from the legends passed down in her family.  She is a descendant of one of the women executed in the Salem witch trials and she uses her family history as an inspiration for her books.  Overall, this was a completely unique story and a great read.  4 stars.

  Quotes I loved: 

-“Oh fer Christ's bloody sake Martha I didna' raise ye to be well regarded. To be liked. Any puny weak-waisted slut can be liked. I raised ye to be reckoned with.” 

-“You ask me what makes a woman comely?" He tapped one finger lightly against her temple and said, "Thoughts, missus. It's thoughts that make a woman so.” 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It's a great way to share anything bookish that you received during the week.

I received more books than I anticipated this week but it's all good!  Here is what I got:

From book exchange:
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (I hope this one is better than book 4!)

From Library:

From NetGalley:

I am pretty excited to read all of these!! What books did you pick up this week?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: "The Second Duchess" by Elizabeth Loupas

From Goodreads:  In a city-state known for magnificence, where love affairs and conspiracies play out amidst brilliant painters, poets and musicians, the powerful and ambitious Alfonso d'Este, duke of Ferrara, takes a new bride. Half of Europe is certain he murdered his first wife, Lucrezia, the luminous child of the Medici. But no one dares accuse him, and no one has proof-least of all his second duchess, the far less beautiful but delightfully clever Barbara of Austria.

At first determined to ignore the rumors about her new husband, Barbara embraces the pleasures of the Ferrarese court. Yet wherever she turns she hears whispers of the first duchess's wayward life and mysterious death. Barbara asks questions-a dangerous mistake for a duchess of Ferrara. Suddenly, to save her own life, Barbara has no choice but to risk the duke's terrifying displeasure and discover the truth of Lucrezia's death-or she will share her fate.

My Thoughts:  I must say that I LOVED this book.  After reading Loupas' novel, The Flower Reader, I knew I wanted to read more of her work so I picked up The Second Duchess.  This book did not disappoint.  It is about historical figures that I have never heard of which added to its' appeal as it wasn't another tired out Tudor story.  Alfonso d'Este was the grandson of Lucrezia Borgia which creates an aura of mystery around the story.  Barbara and Alfonso are both interesting characters.  For most of the book, I wanted to like Alfonso and didn't but he slowly redeemed himself.  I really liked how his soft side slowly came to the surface throughout the story.  Barbara was a great character too in that she wasn't the naive pretty young bride that seems to feature in many other works of historical fiction.  She was older and smarter and I loved how she always stood up to Alfonso even though she was a little afraid of him.

Not only is this book a great work of historical fiction, it is also an awesome mystery.  From the beginning, I was sure that I knew what happened.  There are a lot of secondary characters lurking around in the story and each of them was just suspicious enough to make me unsure who was the bad guy.  As things started to twist and turn, I found myself questioning whether or not I had the mystery figured out and I definitely did not.  The Second Duchess is a well-woven tale that I could not put down.  I hope Loupas is working on another book because I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.  4 1/2 stars.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: "Clockwork Prince" by Cassandra Clare

From Goodreads:  In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

My Thoughts:  Okay, Clockwork Prince cemented my opinon that the Infernal Devices series is WAY better than the Mortal Instruments series.  I pretty much read this book in a day because I could not put it down!  I don't know why I am so drawn to this series as the story is very similar to that of the Mortal Instruments but I think I just really love the characters.  Not only are the main characters fantastic but the other characters really shine too.  I loved finally getting to see Henry come out as more than just a crazy inventor and Sophie really rose up as an interesting character as well.  It was also nice to be able to se a softer side of Will and to finally find out what happened to his family. 

This book only shed just a little more light on what Tessa is and where she comes from so I am really anxious for the next book.  I can't believe I have to wait until 2013!  The love triangle between Jem, Will and Tessa continues in this book but it is not overpowering to the rest of the story, just extremely sad.  If Tessa would have just been able to make up her mind, some of the romantic issues wouldn't have happened..  She just makes out with both guys and becomes more confused than before.  I am curious to see what will happen to the three of them in the next book and am hoping the love triangle doesn't have a super sad ending.  It's going to be a long wait for the next book, I am excited to see where the story will go.  4 stars.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Top Ten Intimidating Books

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

This week's topic is:  Top Ten Tuesday Rewind (meaning I get to pick a past TTT topic and post about it.  I picked:  Top Ten Most Intimidating Books

Some that I have read:
1.) Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand-I had this book on my shelf for 3 years before I finally read it all the way through.  I don't know which intimidated me more, the length or Rand's philosophy.
2.)  The Stand by Stephen King-I was nervous about this book because it was so long.  I don't know why I was concerned because I loved this book.  Even though it's long, it reads quick.
3.) War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy-I have read this book twice, once in English and once in Russian.  It's intimidating because it's long and is the masterpiece of Russian literature but it is one of my all time favorites. 
4.) The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein-I don't love fantasy and I heard this book was a difficult read so it sat on my shelf a long time before I got the guts to read it.  It was so worth it!

Some that I am still too chicken to read:
1.) The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett-I don't know why but this book really intimidates me.  I love historical fiction but I haven't been able to pick this one up.
2.) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo-Have you seen how long this book is?  I started reading it in high school and enjoyed it but never finished.  I am hoping to get to it this fall.
3.) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss-I have heard amazing things about this book but I think the length and the fact that it is fantasy have kind of scared me off.  It's been on my nook for a year!
4.) Moby Dick by Herman Melville-I feel like I should read this but I have read such mixed reviews of it that I am kind of scared to pick it up.
5.) Ada or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov-Ugh.  I took a class on Nabokov in college and we read 5 of his books.  This is one we didn't have time to read so I have owned it ever since.  I didn't love any of Nabokov's work but feel like I should read it anyway.  It intimidates me because I know how painful it is going to be.
6.) The Gulag Archipelago vol. 1-3 by Aleksandr SolzhenitsynI received Volumes 1-3 of this book a few years ago and have yet to read them.  Each volume is HUGE and full of sadness and despair.  I feel like I am going to need to be in the right frame of mind for this one.

What books intimidate you?  Leave me a link to your Top Ten Tuesday rewind so I can check it out!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Reading Plans

(This is my hometown.  I don't live there anymore but I miss the beaches come summer!)

Summertime is finally here and the means summer reading!  I am not going on any fun summer vacations so I have to do my traveling via books. This summer I am participating in my local library's summer reading program.  Upon completion of the program, you get a prize pack and are entered into a drawing for tons of really cool prizes!  Last summer the goal was to read 5 books set in 5 different continents.  It was a little tricky and took me most of the summer to complete.  This summer, the goal is to read 5 books.  If you finish early, they will give you another chance to enter the drawing if you read 3 more books.  How easy is that?  The summer reading program started on May 24 and since then I have already finished 2 books so I'll be done before you know it.

Sometime this summer I hope to finish reading Twilight in Russian.  I bought this book a few years ago after reading the first two Harry Potter books in Russian but I never finished it.  My new job brings the opportunity to take a class in the fall and I may take a Russian class to try to brush up on my dwindling skills.  Plus, one of my goals for the year was to read two books in Russian and I haven't even started.  If I finish Twilight, I am going let myself by The Hunger Games in Russian (!).

I am also thinking about participating in the Classics Bribe hosted by the Quirky Girls Read.  It's a great way to read more Classics and have the chance to win an Amazon gift card.  I am really trying to read more of the classics as I feel like I am missing out on some really great literature.  I still have 4 books to read for the Back to Classics Challenge, one of which is Les Miserables.  If I get the other three books read over the summer, I could have the entire fall to focus on Les Mis.  I also have classics on some of my other challenge lists so I may bump those up to the top of the reading pile.  I know I won't read all of these but here are a few classics that I will be choosing from over the summer.

1.) The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
2.) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
3.) The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
4.) The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
5.) Ada or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov
6.) The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Lev Tolstoy
7.) Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
8.) We by Yevgeny Zamiatin (reread)
9.) We the Living by Ayn Rand (reread)
10.) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

This seems like somewhat lofty plans for the summer and I may not make it very far.  We are moving in late July and packing may cut into my reading plans.  We'll see how it goes but I am pretty excited for summer.

Do you have any fun summer reading plans?  Any fun vacation plans?

Friday, June 1, 2012

May Wrapup

Wow!  I can't believe May is over already!  It has been a super crazy busy month and all kinds of things have been going on.  I  participated in two 5K races and will start training for my second 1/2 marathon next week.  Yippee!  I also will be changing jobs and my new job starts on Monday.  Yippee again!  I am really excited as I have not been happy at my current job for pretty much the entire time I have been here.  I am looking forward to starting a cake decorating class next month which should be fun.  I haven't done any decorating since the fall and I really miss it.  So June looks like it's going to be a great month!

I read a lot this month.  I finished 12 books which puts me at a total 57 books read for the year.  I am kind of disappointed in myself since I only read 3 books off my shelf and for some reason I keep picking up more library books and books from NetGalley.  But I am going to try not to sweat it.  I would love to read more of the books I own but they just haven't been calling to me and I don't want to force myself to read something I am not in the mood for.  I am doing really well with working on my reading challenges and should finish the Historical Fiction Challenge in June.  Overall, May has been a great reading month!

Here is what I read:

1.) The King's Concubine by Anne O'Brien
2.) The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens
3.) Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
4.) Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
5.) The Terror by David Andress
6.) Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster
7.) The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd
8.) The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
9.) Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster
10.) Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey
11.) Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
12.) The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas
What books did you read in May?  Any fun plans for June?
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