Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (18)

 
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 
I picked up a couple really good books this week!  I can't wait to get started on them!
 
For Review:
 
This is for a blog tour and was so good.  My review will be posted on Thursday and a guest post from the author will be up on Tuesday.
 
From the Library:
 
 
 
 
Won in a Giveaway:
 
 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top Ten Series I Haven't Finished



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
 
This week's topic:  Top Ten Series I Haven't Finished
 

1.) A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin-I loved A Game of Thrones and I can't wait to continue with the series, I just have a ton of other books to read first.
2.) Eve series by Anna Carey
3.) Delirium series by Lauren Oliver
      I read both of these books around the same time and I feel bad for not continuing with either of these series but I didn't love them enough to feel like I HAVE to read the next book right now.
4.) The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare-I was very disappointed with book 4 and have heard mixed reviews of book 5.  I will read it eventually, I just am not ready to be disappointed again.
5.)Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire-I have read 3 of the 4 books and have checked out the 4th book twice from the library. I really want to read it but obviously not enough to move it to the top of the TBR pile.
6.) Book of Ember by Jeanne duPrau-I probably won't finish this series.  I liked the first book but didn't really care much for the next two and am not super eager to read the fourth.
7.) Dark Tower series by Stephen King-I love this series and I definitely want to finish it, I just have to be in the right mindset to read it.  I hope I will feel like reading the third book soon.
8.) Jessica Darling by Megan McCafferty-There's a part of me that wants to keep reading this series but Jessica Darling gets on my nerves.  I don't know if I could stand to read five more books about her.
9.) The Tea Rose series by Jennifer Donnelly-I am curious to find out what happens in the rest of this series it's just that the books are so long! 
10.) The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien-I loved The Fellowship of the Ring but it was pretty dense so while I do plan to read the rest of the series, I am not going to plow through it.

What series have you not finished?

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo-part 1


Because Les Miserables is so long, I have decided to read and write about it in chunks.  So far, I have read through page 300 and I am enjoying it.  Most of what I have read so far has been about Fantine and Jean Valjean and I have to say that I really like Jean Valjean as a character.  He was not a very nice person at first but as the story progessed, he completely redeemed himself.

I don't know much about Victor Hugo but it seems to me as though this book is a social commentary.  Hugo includes his opinions on poverty, the legal system and society in general.  He talks a lot about how poverty affects people and the lengths they will go to in order to stay alive and feed their families.  He also discusses the injustice of the legal system and condemns the harsh punishments inflicted on the poor by the legal system.  He definitely has some strong opinions regarding the society at that time and I am eager to see what he else he has to say.

I do think it's interesting that there are pauses in the story filled with discussions of Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo.  It reminded me of War and Peace and I am hoping there isn't a lot of these breaks in the story because the Napoleon parts were a little slow.

Overall, I am excited to be reading Les Miserables and can't wait to see where the story will take me. 

Quotes I Love:

"What is the true story of Fantine? It is the story of society's purchase of a slave.  A slave purchased from poverty, hunger, cold, loneliness, defencelessness, destitution.  A squalid bargain:  a human soul for a hunk of bread.  Poverty offers and society accepts.  Our society is governed by the precepts of Jesus Christ but not yet imbued with them.  We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true.  Slavery still exists but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution." 

"Such is the remorseless progression of human society, shedding lives and souls as it goes on its way.  It is an ocean into which men sink who have been cast out by the law and consigned, with help most cruelly withheld, to moral death  The sea is the pitiless social darkness into which the penal system casts those it has condemned, an unfathomable waste of misery.  The human soul, lost in those depths, may become a corpse.  Who shall revive it?"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (17)

 
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 
I am trying to limit the number of library books I have waiting for me so I only picked up one book this week.
 
From the Library:
(Click on picture for link to goodreads.com)
 
This book looks really good and I can't wait to read it!!
 
Did you get any good books this week?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: "A Dangerous Inheritance" by Alison Weir

From Goodreads:  England's Tower of London was the terrifying last stop for generations of English political prisoners. A Dangerous Inheritance weaves together the lives and fates of four of its youngest and most blameless: Lady Katherine Grey, Lady Jane's younger sister; Kate Plantagenet, an English princess who lived nearly a century before her; and Edward and Richard, the boy princes imprisoned by their ruthless uncle, Richard III, never to be heard from again. Across the years, these four young royals shared the same small rooms in their dark prison, as all four shared the unfortunate role of being perceived as threats to the reigning monarch.

My Thoughts:  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I really wanted to love this book.  Alison Weir is one of my favorite authors and I usually enjoy her books.  This time not so much.  It's not that I disliked this book, I just didn't connect with the story very well.  It was slow at times and I didn't always love the characters.  The story went back and forth between two characters:  Kate Plantagenet during Richard III's reign and Lady Katherine Grey during the Tudor era.  These two women were tied together through their interest in the fates of the 'Princes in the Tower'.

 I had a hard time feeling sympathy for Lady Katherine Grey as she was portrayed in this book.  I normally think her story is incredibly sad but she was kind of a brat and seemed to encourage Queen Mary's and Queen Elizabeth's irritation with her.  She was always dreaming of being queen herself and getting angry when she wasn't named heir which I thought was an interesting way to portray her considering what happened to her sister and father.   It was sad that she really didn't get to live her life the way she wanted but I still struggled to like her.  I also struggled with Kate Plantagenet as a character.  I definitely liked her more than Lady Grey but she was very naive and refused to acknowledge that her father behaved in an incredibly inappropriate way when he seized power for himself.  I kind of wanted to shake her and say 'Open your eyes!'.  I was sympathetic to her plight though, she was forced to marry someone who she didn't love and who didn't treat her all that well. 

The most interesting part of the story was all of the discussion of the Princes in the Tower.  Both Kate and Katherine were trying to discover what happened to them and while neither of them ever found an answer, it definitely added a very compelling mystery to this story.  I find the whole mystery surrounding the Kind Edward V and Duke Richard of York extremely fascinating so I really enjoyed those parts of the story.

Overall, this wasn't a bad book, I just feel like it could have been so much better.  There were aspects I liked and some I didn't but I am still glad I read it.  3 stars.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: "The Sisters Who Would Be Queen" by Leanda de Lisle

From Goodreads:  Mary, Katherine, and Jane Grey–sisters whose mere existence nearly toppled a kingdom and altered a nation’s destiny–are the captivating subjects of Leanda de Lisle’s new book. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen breathes fresh life into these three young women, who were victimized in the notoriously vicious Tudor power struggle and whose heirs would otherwise probably be ruling England today.

Born into aristocracy, the Grey sisters were the great-granddaughters of Henry VII, grandnieces to Henry VIII, legitimate successors to the English throne, and rivals to Henry VIII’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Lady Jane, the eldest, was thrust center stage by greedy men and uncompromising religious politics when she briefly succeeded Henry’s son, the young Edward I. Dubbed “the Nine Days Queen” after her short, tragic reign from the Tower of London, Jane has over the centuries earned a special place in the affections of the English people as a “queen with a public heart.” But as de Lisle reveals, Jane was actually more rebel than victim, more leader than pawn, and Mary and Katherine Grey found that they would have to tread carefully in order to avoid sharing their elder sister’s violent fate......


My Thoughts: I have always found Lady Jane Grey to be a fascinating historical figure but I have never really given much thought to her sisters until recently.  This book details the lives and deaths of all three sisters and the roles they played in the politics of Tudor England.  Leanda de Lisle provides a look at the Grey sisters that is completely different than anything I have ever read. 

The author did an extensive amount of research and seeks to debunk the myth that Jane had no control of her situation and was simply a victim of her greedy, abusive parents.  She also provides a different view of Jane's mother making her seem like any other aristocratic mother. I especially enjoyed the sections about Jane's sisters.  I had no idea that they were such important figures in Queen Elizabeth's reign.  I actually thought that Quenn Elizabeth seemed like a paranoid, vindicative perosn with the way she treated Mary and Katherine.  I understand that she was afraid of being dpeosed  but at the same time she was so horrible to her cousins.  I really felt bad for Katherine and Mary; because of their position, they weren't allowed to have a happy life and the lives they did have were filled with hardships and privations.

I feel like this was an incredibly unbiased and well-written discussion of the lives of the Grey sisters. It read more like a novel than a work of non-fiction and kept my interest from beginning to end.  4 stars.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (16)

 
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 
This week I picked up a couple of ebooks.  They all look pretty good and I am excited to read them.
 
Purchased ebooks:
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Have you read any of these?  What books did you pick up this week?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Top Ten Books That Make You Think

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.
This week's topic:  Top Ten Books That Make You Think

Some of these books I read a long time ago and some I read more recently.  They are all excellent books and each of them made me think a little bit more about my life, other's lives and the world at large.

1.) Columbine by Dave Cullen
2.) You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon-
3.) Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
4.) Kolyma Tales by Varlaam Shalamov
5.) Night by Elie Wiesel
6.) A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
7.) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
8.) The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez
9.) The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
10.) Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

What books made you think?  Have you read any of these?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: "The Queen's Sorrow" by Suzannah Dunn

From Goodreads:  Plain and dutiful and a passionate Catholic, Mary Tudor is overjoyed when she becomes Queen of England. After the misery of her childhood, when her father, Henry VIII, rejected her and her mother, Mary feels at last that she is achieving her destiny. And when she marries Philip of Spain, her happiness is complete.

But Mary's delight quickly turns sour as she realizes that her husband does not love her--indeed, that he finds her devotion irritating. Desperate for a baby, she begins to believe that God is punishing her. Her people are horrified at the severity of the measures she takes and begin to to turn against their queen, who is lonely, frightened, and desperate for love.

Rafael, a member of Philip of Spain's entourage, reluctantly witnesses the tragedy that unfolds as the once-feted queen tightens her cruel hold on the nation. As Rafael becomes closer to Mary, his life--and newfound love--are caught up in the terrible chaos.


My Thoughts:  This book was not what I expected at all.  It moved kind of slow and I thought that this book would be more about Mary Tudor but it really wasn't.  The book was about Rafael who was brought to England by Phillip of Spain to build a sundial for Mary.  He has a few brief encounters with Mary but for the most part she is a secondary character in the story. 

I didn't really like Rafael as a character.  He was kind of whiny, sad and pretty naive.  He just wasn't a great main character.  You think you know who his story but as the book progresses, you find out more and more about his very odd life.  He falls in love with Cecily who is a housekeeper in the home he is staying in.  Cecily had the potential to be a great character but she needed to be developed a lot more.  Rafael's interactions with Mary were kind of strange and seemed unrealistic.  I find it hard to believe that a queen would confide her concerns about her pregnancy to some random guy.   

I did find it interesting it that the story included a lot of information about Queen Mary's burning of heretics.  I think the story would have been better if it focused more on Cecily, the burnings and the changes that happened in Mary's reign regarding religion.  Overall, the whole story was pretty depressing, the end was kind of upsetting and I didn't love the characters.   2 stars.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (15)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
This week I received one book for review. I loved The Forgotten Garden so I am hoping I will enjoy this one as well.
From NetGalley:

What books did you get this week?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Review: "The Boleyn Wife" by Brandy Purdy

From Goodreads:  Shy, plain Lady Jane Parker feels out of place in Henry VIII's courtly world of glamour and intrigue--until she meets the handsome George Boleyn. Overjoyed when their fathers arrange a match, her dreams of a loving union are waylaid when she meets George's sister, Anne. For George is completely devoted to his sister, and cold and indifferent to his bride. As Anne acquires a wide circle of admirers, including King Henry, Jane's resentment grows. But if becoming Henry's queen makes Anne the most powerful woman in England, it also makes her highly vulnerable. And as Henry, desperate for a male heir, begins to tire of his mercurial wife, the stage is set for the ultimate betrayal...

My Thoughts:  This was a nice change from the usual Tudor books.  I have never read a book told from Jane Boleyn's point of view and it was kind of refreshing to see something different.  This book tells Jane Boleyn's story through 5 of Henry VIII's queens. 


Jane was a very different character.  She was very high-strung and had some major marital issues.  She was obsessed with her husband, George Boleyn, and this obsession destroyed her.  Jane wasn't really a likeable character but you couldn't help feeling sorry for her.  I felt really bad for her because her husband treated her like she was invisible; all she wanted was to be loved and he just didn't care about her at all.

 I did find it interesting that the author included a one night stand between Cromwell and Jane; I hadn't heard of this ever being asserted so it surprised me.  I was also really surprised that the author included a sexual encounter between Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard.  It seemed a little sensational and I think the author took some dramatic license with that part of the book.

The story moved quickly and kept me interested despite the fact that I knew how the story ended.  This is definitely a good read for anyone who loves reading about the Tudors.  3 stars.




Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Goals

Ugh, August was such a crappy month.  I hardly read anything, work was insane, dealing with the new place sucked and I kind of turned into a giant slug.  Now that September is here, I am feeling much better and decided to set some goals to try to get back on track.  I usually try to keep an unofficial reading list for the month but lately I have kind of been reading whatever sounds good at the moment so I don't have a list for this month.

Reading Goals:
1.) Read one challenge book this month.-I only have 4 books left not including Les Mis, if I read one a month for the rest of the year I will be able to finish my challenges.
2.) Read at least 300 pages in Les Miserables.-I definitely won't finish this in a month but if I try to break it down, I should be able to get through it.
3.) Get caught up on Library Books-I need to decide which I will read and which are getting returned because I am overwhelmed.

Personal Goals:
1.) Exercise at least 5 days a week-I am training for a 1/2 marathon in October and I am nowhere near as ready as I was in the spring.  I ran a 5K on Monday and felt great doing it though my time was significantly slower than I would have liked.  I know my next 1/2 marathon time won't be a PR but I really need to get moving or I won't be able to make it all.
2.) Stretch every day-Not only am I not as ready as I would like to be, I have been having issues with my IT band.  Stretching helps a lot and I just need to stick to doing it everyday.
3.) Work on a cake for October-I have a cake design in mind to make for my anniversary on Oct. 2.  It's going to take a lot of time to make all of the pieces and I am hoping to have time to work on it some this month.

I am hoping I will be able to meet my goals for the month and am just looking forward to September being way better than August!

Do you have any goals for the month of September?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List

 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
 
 
This week's topic:  Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List
 
I have a ton of books that I want to read this fall but here are a few of the ones that are at the top of the list.
 
1.) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo-This will probably take me the entire fall to read but I am going to get it done before the end of the year.
2.) Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn-I bought this last year but still haven't read it.  I have seen so many bloggers rave about it that I think I should finally make time for it.
3.) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss-This is for one of my challenges and I am really curious about it. I know it's long but hopefully I can get to it.
4.) Monster in My Closet by R.L. Naquin-I just bought this book and it looks pretty fun, I can't wait to read it.
5.) A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin-I've missed all the Game of Thrones characters!
6.) 11/22/63 by Stephen King-I have been trying to make time for this since Christmas, I am definitely going to read it this fall.
7.) Tully by Paullina Simons-I loved Paullina Simon's trilogy about Tatiana and Alexander and I really want to check out some of her other books.
8.) Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks-This book sounds so interesting, I hope it will be as good I as it sounds.
9.) City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare-I have seen less than stellar reviews of this book but I still want to see where Clare takes the story.
10.) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green-Why have I not read this yet?!  I feel like everyone has read this but me!
 
What books are on your Fall TBR list?  Leave me a link so I can check it out!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: "Winter's Bone" by Daniel Woodrell

From Goodreads:  The sheriff's deputy at the front door brings hard news to Ree Dolly. Her father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn't show up for his next court date. Ree's father has disappeared before. The Dolly clan has worked the shadowy side of the law for generations, and arrests (and attempts to avoid them) are part of life in Rathlin Valley.

With two young brothers depending on her and a mother who's entered a kind of second childhood, sixteen-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. She has grown up in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks and learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But along the way to a shocking revelation, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.


My Thoughts:  For the past two years my local library has sponsored 'Read Across Town' where they encourage the town to read one book and then host events and discussions about the book. This year's book is Winter's Bone which is why I picked this up.  I really had no idea what to expect from this book when I started it but I ended up enjoying it. 

The story is really short and not a lot of background is given. From the first page, you are thrown directly into the story.  A lot is revealed as the story progresses but at times it would have been nice to know more about everyone's past.  Woodrell paints a fascinating portrait of life deep in the Ozarks and people who inhabit that world. Ree was a pretty unique character.  Her tough exterior, devotion to her family, and desire to escape her life made her into a really interesting character.  I also liked the character of Uncle Teardrop; he was an extremely rough person but at times he showed a softer side and that made him a really great character.

The ending to this book left me with a lot of unanswered questions but I think it was still well-wrapped up.  I did try to google the answers to my questions and it appears that I am was not the only one who was left wondering.  If you are looking for something different, you may want to check out Winter's Bone. 3 stars.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (14)

 
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 
This week I picked up two more books from the library.  I officially have way more library books than I have time to read.  It's no wonder I own so many books that I have yet to read.
 
From the Library:
 
 
 
 
 
Have you read either of these?  What books did you pick up this week?
 

 
Imagination Designs