Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Coming Soon!

So, I've fallen really far behind with blogging. Both this blog and my family blog have been totally neglected but I'm finally getting back into the swing of things! Here are the books I will be reviewing soon!





Monday, August 04, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

SPOILER ALERT - I will be talking about things in the book so if you don't want to know then DON'T READ!!

Alright. I admit it. I bought it at 9:00 Am on Sat. and read it all in a day. No midnight parties for me but I could hardly wait! Would Bella be turned? What would become of Jacob? What would the plot line be? I was antsy with anticipation! While waiting in the checkout line I read the inside cover and it had my heart a pitterin'! I don't know what it is about these Twilight books - they are not the most well-written books I've ever read or the most exciting but they do make me feel like a teenager again. Anyway - that's how I felt at the checkout line. I've been reading a lot of reviews of this book and most people HATED it. It didn't have quite the same effect on me as the other books but I enjoyed reading it and was entertained. There were definitely things I liked and things that drove me crazy!!

Before I go into my list of "things" I have to brag that I totally called her conclusion of the Bella-Edward-Jacob triangle. After I finished reading Eclipse last year I was running through all the different possible scenarios. I wanted Bella with Edward together (for the most part) but I love Jacob and wanted him happy. So, what would S.M. do?? I called my sister and told her I had it figured out! Edward and Bella would get married and she would get pregnant before he turned her and she'd have a little girl that Jacob would imprint on and then they would all be together and everything would be great! I didn't have any theories about the baby (vampire or human) but I am feeling pretty proud that I guessed that! I got over it pretty fast and started hoping that they'd find a way for vampires to be turned back to human - but that's not how it went and I'm glad. The main thing I was worried about was Bella being a psycho newborn and going on a killing rampage! I'm glad that the author decided to make her immune to the whole newborn thing.

Things I liked:
*The wedding. I was in tears. Maybe it's because I'm pregnant and hormonal but I had tears spill over a few times at the beginning!
*The honeymoon was pretty fun!
* I didn't have a problem with Edward and Bella's relationship except that it seemed like we didn't get quite as much romance. Not as much lovey dovey talk.
* I liked the ending - I mean the VERY END. I liked that Bella had a way to let him in her head and that he was so excited about it. =)
* I like that Charlie was still allowed to be in the picture.

Didn't like:
* Rosalie and the baby thing drove me crazy. I thought she would kidnap the baby or something.
* The baby thing in general bothered me. I think it's great that she was able to get pregnant but it wasn't a positive thing in the book so it wasn't any fun. I wasn't sure how I felt about it - on one hand I was with Edward and Carlisle and thought that they should get it out of her because who knows if the baby would be a crazy, blood thirsty, little demon. I thought it was weird that she would only take blood but supposedly Half human/vampire children can live on human food as well. It was just weird that Bella was starving. And that there wasn't any tender mother/daughter moments (at the beginning) and daddy/daughter moments (ever!). Oh well.
*I do like that Edward had to make her a vampire out of necessity rather than just doing it. That part of the book wasn't my favorite. Maybe it was because it was from Jacob's perspective so I felt like I was just looking through a window and didn't know Bella's real feelings as the whole thing went on.
* The nickname Jazz for Jasper?? Where did that come from?? If she was going to do that it should have been done in one of the first books.
* The name Reneseme was just NOT cute. And I thought that the baby was kind of weird. I'm glad she was sweet but I just thought it was a little freaky.
* I don't feel like things got wrapped up for Leah. I'm not sure why S.M. made her a more prominent character and made us feel for her and then didn't give her a happy ending - after all it seems like that was her goal - to tie everything up in a perfect, little bow for us.
* And that leads me to my final complaint. The ending with the Volturri. I wanted some action and got NONE. I read to the end anticipating the exciting part and then it just ended. SO anti-climatic for me! If they had fought I guess the ending wouldn't have been quite so "happy". Realistically, somebody in Bella and Edward's family would have been killed and we couldn't have that! But still. I would have liked a little action. =) Besides sex. We got plenty of that. And I'm not complaining! =)

I'm finishing up a trilogy this week so I should have another review soon!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

This is such a cute story! I can't wait for my girls to grow up so that I can read it to them. Read it!!

From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5-9–The thought of being a princess never occurred to the girls living on Mount Eskel. Most plan to work in the quarry like the generations before them. When it is announced that the prince will choose a bride from their village, 14-year-old Miri, who thinks she is being kept from working in the quarry because of her small stature, believes that this is her opportunity to prove her worth to her father. All eligible females are sent off to attend a special academy where they face many challenges and hardships as they are forced to adapt to the cultured life of a lowlander. First, strict Tutor Olana denies a visit home. Then, they are cut off from their village by heavy winter snowstorms. As their isolation increases, competition builds among them. The story is much like the mountains, with plenty of suspenseful moments that peak and fall, building into the next intense event. Miri discovers much about herself, including a special talent called quarry speak, a silent way to communicate. She uses this ability in many ways, most importantly to save herself and the other girls from harm. Each girl's story is brought to a satisfying conclusion, but this is not a fluffy, predictable fairy tale, even though it has wonderful moments of humor. Instead, Hale weaves an intricate, multilayered story about families, relationships, education, and the place we call home.–Linda L. Plevak, Saint Mary's Hall, San Antonio, TX

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Loved it!! She did it again! I was excited to read another novel by Stephenie Meyer and even more glad that it ended and I didn't have to wait around for the next one! Fun story and characters. I'd definitely recommend it!

Amazon Best of the Month, May 2008: Stephenie Meyer, creator of the phenomenal teen-vamp Twilight series, takes paranormal romance into alien territory in her first adult novel. Those wary of sci-fi or teen angst will be pleasantly surprised by this mature and imaginative thriller, propelled by equal parts action and emotion. A species of altruistic parasites has peacefully assumed control of the minds and bodies of most humans, but feisty Melanie Stryder won't surrender her mind to the alien soul called Wanderer. Overwhelmed by Melanie's memories of fellow resistor Jared, Wanderer yields to her body's longing and sets off into the desert to find him. Likely the first love triangle involving just two bodies, it's unabashedly romantic, and the characters (human and alien) genuinely endearing. Readers intrigued by this familiar-yet-alien world will gleefully note that the story's end leaves the door open for a sequel--or another series. --Mari Malcolm

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

This was a delightful read! I think I finished it in a just a couple hours and I wished it had gone on longer! I love these happy, fairy tale books. They are really refreshing sometimes!

Synopsis from Amazon.com:
At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery, trying to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you've ever read. Gail Carson Levine's examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor. (Ages 9 to 14) --Emilie Coulter

The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

These were actually really fun vampire books! There are a few more books in the series but there was a definite ending in The Queen of the Damned so I just quit at that. Check out the synopsis to see what these books are about!

Interview With the Vampire:

In the now-classic novel Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice refreshed the archetypal vampire myth for a late-20th-century audience. The story is ostensibly a simple one: having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. At his emotional nadir, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. The two prey on innocents, give their "dark gift" to a young girl, and seek out others of their kind (notably the ancient vampire Armand) in Paris. But a summary of this story bypasses the central attractions of the novel. First and foremost, the method Rice chose to tell her tale--with Louis' first-person confession to a skeptical boy--transformed the vampire from a hideous predator into a highly sympathetic, seductive, and all-too-human figure. Second, by entering the experience of an immortal character, one raised with a deep Catholic faith, Rice was able to explore profound philosophical concerns--the nature of evil, the reality of death, and the limits of human perception--in ways not possible from the perspective of a more finite narrator.

The Vampire Lestat:
As with the first book in the series, the novel begins with a frame narrative. After over a half century underground, Lestat awakens in the 1980s to the cacophony of electronic sounds and images that characterizes the MTV generation. Particularly, he is captivated by a fledgling rock band named Satan's Night Out. Determined both to achieve international fame and end the centuries of self-imposed vampire silence, Lestat takes command of the band (now renamed "The Vampire Lestat") and pens his own autobiography. The remainder of the novel purports to be that autobiography: the vampire traces his mortal youth as the son of a marquis in pre-Revolutionary France, his initiation into vampirism at the hands of Magnus, and his quest for the ultimate origins of his undead species. While very different from the first novel in the Vampire Chronicles, The Vampire Lestat has proved to be the foundation for a broader range of narratives than is possible from Louis's brooding, passive perspective. The character of Lestat is one of Rice's most complex and popular literary alter egos, and his Faustian strivings have a mythopoeic resonance that links the novel to a grand tradition of spiritual and supernatural fiction. --Patrick O'Kelley

The Queen of the Damned:
Did you ever wonder where all those mischievous vampires roaming the globe in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles came from? In this, the third book in the series, we find out. That raucous rock-star vampire Lestat interrupts the 6,000-year slumber of the mama of all bloodsuckers, Akasha, Queen of the Damned.

Akasha was once the queen of the Nile (she has a bit in common with the Egyptian goddess Isis), and it's unwise to rile her now that she's had 60 centuries of practice being undead. She is so peeved about male violence that she might just have to kill most of them. And she has her eye on handsome Lestat with other ideas as well.

If you felt that the previous books in the series weren't gory and erotic enough, this one should quench your thirst (though it may cause you to omit organ meats from your diet). It also boasts God's plenty of absorbing lore that enriches the tale that went before, including the back-story of the boy in Interview with the Vampire and the ancient fellowship of the Talamasca, which snoops on paranormal phenomena. Mostly, the book spins the complex yarn of Akasha's eerie, brooding brood and her nemeses, the terrifying sisters Maharet and Mekare. In one sense, Queen of the Damned is the ultimate multigenerational saga. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Well - Here I am!!

If you don't know me then you probably don't know that I am pregnant and was really sick for awhile!! Well - I am FINALLY back to normal and ready to post some of my recent reads! Enjoy!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour

Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble:


As a child, Elias Chacour lived in a small Palestinian village in Galilee. The townspeople were proud of their ancient Christian heritage and lived at peace with their Jewish neighbors. But in 1948 and '49 their idyllic lifestyle was swept away as tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed and nearly one million were forced into refugee camps. An exile in his native land, Elias began a years-long struggle with his love for the Jewish people and the world's misunderstanding of his own people, the Palestinians. How was he to respond? He found his answer in the simple, haunting words of the Man of Galilee: "Blessed are the peacemakers." In Blood Brothers Chacour blends his riveting life story with historical research to reveal a little-known side of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the birth of modern Israel. He touches on controversial questions such as: What behind-the-scenes politics touched off the turmoil in the Middle East? What does Bible prophecy really have to say? Can bitter enemies ever be reconciled? In a world of tension and terror, this book offers hope and insight that can help each of us learn to live at peace.

I really loved this book! It taught me so much about the Middle East and the conflicts going on there. Most importantly, I learned that we are all links in helping bring peace to the world and that we need to get out and DO things to make a difference. Definitely read this!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

I just finished this book last night and I loved it! It is the story of Sleeping Beauty after she is kissed. I loved the characters and the plot! Definitely a must-read!

Enchantment is the story of a Ukraine-born, American grad student who finds himself transported to the ninth century to play the prince in a Russian version of Sleeping Beauty. Early in the story, he muses that in a French or English retelling of the tale, the prince and princess would live happily ever after. But, "only a fool would want to live through the Russian version of any fairy tale."

Although his fears turn out to be warranted, as he and his cursed princess contend with the diabolical witch Baba Yaga--easily Russia's best pre-Khrushchev villain--to save the princess's kingdom, Enchantment is ultimately a sweet story. Mixing magic and modernity, the acclaimed Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game) has woven threads of history, religion, and myth together into a convincing, time-hopping tale that is part love story, part adventure. Enchantment's heroes, "Prince" Ivan and Princess Katerina, must deal with cross-cultural mores, ancient gods, treacherous kinsmen (and fianceés), and ultimately Baba Yaga herself.

Card has a knack for coming across like your nerdy dad at times, when he runs on too long or makes some particularly wince-inducing observation or reference ("Daaad, Bruce Cockburn is not cool!"). But, as you might expect of a good dad, as uncool as he might be, Card still manages to tell a good bedtime story. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The Children of the Promise Series by Dean Hughes

I read these books in high school and loved them! I wanted to see if I would like them as much a second time. For the most part, I did. The last book in the series is a little droopy and long but the first 4 are great! I love reading historical fiction. Especially when it is about World War 2. Definitely read these!

Sunshine by Robin Mckinley

I don't think that this is one of Robin Mckinley's best books. She writes well but there is far too much detail! Sunshine is the narrator and she goes on and on sometimes. The story is good and I hope there is a sequel. It was written several years ago so I don't know if that is going to happen though! Word of caution - there are a couple scenes and words that might offend. I'm getting tired of writing that. It makes me feel like I don't ever read good, wholesome books! I just want to make sure that I'm not recommending a book to someone without letting them know these things ahead of time. I don't know that there are many novels written nowadays that don't have some language and sex. URGH!!

From Publishers Weekly
Buffyesque baker Rae "Sunshine" Seddon meets Count Dracula's hunky Byronic cousin in Newbery-Award-winner McKinley's first adult-and-then-some romp through the darkling streets of a spooky post-Voodoo Wars world. Now that human cities have been decimated, the vampiric elite holds one-fifth of the world's capital, threatening to control all the earth in less than 100 years, unless human SOFs (Special Other Forces) can hold them at bay by recruiting Sunshine, daughter of legendary sorcerer Onyx Blaise. As breathlessly narrated by Sunshine herself, the Cinnamon Roll Queen of Charlie's Coffeehouse, in the inchoate idiom of Britney, J. Lo and the Spice Girls, Sunshine's coming-of-magical-age launches when she is swarmed by noiseless vampires one night and chained in a decrepit ballroom as an entr‚e for mysterious, magnetic, half-starved Constantine, a powerful vampire whose mortal enemy Bo (short for Beauregard) shackled him there to perish slowly from daylight and deprivation. Most of the charm of this long venture into magic maturation derives from McKinley's keen ear and sensitive atmospherics, deft characterizations and clever juxtapositions of reality and the supernatural that might, just might, be lurking out there in "bad spots" right around a creepy urban corner or next to a deserted lake cabin. McKinley knows very well-and makes her readers believe-that "the insides of our own minds are the scariest things there are."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

River Secrets by Shannon Hale

River Secrets was the third and final (I think!) book in The Goose Girls series. I'm sad to be done with them because they were such fun! I thought it was creative and I think she does a really good job developing her characters. Definitely read this series!

From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 6-10–A companion to The Goose Girl (2003) and Enna Burning (2004, both Bloomsbury). Enna and Isi's friend Razo is small and bullied; he has always considered himself pretty useless, so he is thrilled to be chosen as one of a hundred Bayern soldiers accompanying an ambassador on a peacekeeping mission to the Tiran capital. Tirans lost the war with Bayern, largely due to Enna's forbidding ability to burn people, and their army was shamed. When Razo discovers burned bodies, he first fears that Enna has reneged on her promise to stop using her powers, then realizes that she isn't guilty. In this part mystery, part coming-of-age story, Razo learns why he is so important to the king's mission. He befriends Lady Dasha, the daughter of the ambassador who was sent in exchange to Bayern. Like Enna and Isi, she is a young woman with elemental powers. The burner is exposed and captured; peace is assured, as is the romance between Razo and Dasha. Hale's portrayal of a group of extremist Tirans for whom war is sacred and putting one's life in peril is honorable connects the story's medieval folkloric setting with today's news in a chilling way. As in the companion books, this high fantasy is rich in detail and lyrical in writing. While it helps to have read the two previous books, River Secrets stands on its own. But fans of the genre will no doubt rejoice in immersing themselves in this magical world by reading all three.–Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

I enjoy Shannon Hale's books! When I first started this one I wasn't so sure I'd like it as well as The Goose Girl series but it got better and when I shut it I felt pretty satisfied. =) It's a quick, easy read and has a really cute ending. =)

From Publishers Weekly
In 32-year-old singleton Jane Hayes's mind, no man in the world can measure up to Fitzwilliam Darcy—specifically the Fitzwilliam played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Jane is forced to confront her Austen obsession when her wealthy great-aunt Carolyn dies and leaves her an all-expenses-paid vacation to Pembrook Park, a British resort where guests live like the characters in Jane's beloved Austen novels. Jane sees the trip as an opportunity for one last indulgence of her obsession before she puts it "all behind her—Austen, men, fantasies, period," but the lines between reality and fiction become pleasantly blurred as Jane acclimates to the world of Spencer jackets and stringent etiquette rules, and finds herself torn between the Darcyesque Mr. Nobley and a forbidden tryst with Pembrook Park's gardener. Though the narrative is endlessly charming, Jane is convincing neither as a sarcastic single girl nor as a romantic idealist, and the supporting cast is underdeveloped. Nods to Austen are abundant in contemporary women's fiction, and an intriguing setup and abundant wit are not enough to make this one stand out. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montgomery

I don't know why I put off reading these for so long!! I love the movies so I guess I thought that the books would irritate me. I should have known, the books are ALWAYS better than the movies. These are such lovely stories. They are so happy and cheerful! Anne in the books is a million times better than Anne in the movies. I love Anne's descriptions of things and her dramas are hilarious. If you are in the mood for something happy and uplifting, these are the books for you!

From Amazon:
When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island, send for a boy orphan to help them out at the farm, they are in no way prepared for the error that will change their lives. The mistake takes the shape of Anne Shirley, a redheaded 11-year-old girl who can talk anyone under the table. Fortunately, her sunny nature and quirky imagination quickly win over her reluctant foster parents. Anne's feisty spirit soon draws many friends--and much trouble--her way. Not a day goes by without some melodramatic new episode in the tragicomedy of her life. Early on, Anne declares her eternal antipathy for Gilbert Blythe, a classmate who commits the ultimate sin of mocking her hair color. Later, she accidentally dyes that same cursed hair green. Another time, in her haste to impress a new neighbor, she bakes a cake with liniment instead of vanilla. Lucy Maud Montgomery's series of books about Anne have remained classics since the early 20th century. Her portrayal of this feminine yet independent spirit has given generations of girls a strong female role model, while offering a taste of another, milder time in history. This lovely boxed gift collection comprises Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, and Rilla of Ingleside. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter

Monday, January 21, 2008

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

This book is wonderful! Read it!

From Publishers Weekly
A fabulous romp through an imagination by turns ecstatic, cunning, despairing and resilient, this novel is an impressive achievement "a story that will make you believe in God," as one character says. The peripatetic Pi (ne the much-taunted Piscine) Patel spends a beguiling boyhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper. Growing up beside the wild beasts, Pi gathers an encyclopedic knowledge of the animal world. His curious mind also makes the leap from his native Hinduism to Christianity and Islam, all three of which he practices with joyous abandon. In his 16th year, Pi sets sail with his family and some of their menagerie to start a new life in Canada. Halfway to Midway Island, the ship sinks into the Pacific, leaving Pi stranded on a life raft with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. After the beast dispatches the others, Pi is left to survive for 227 days with his large feline companion on the 26-foot-long raft, using all his knowledge, wits and faith to keep himself alive. The scenes flow together effortlessly, and the sharp observations of the young narrator keep the tale brisk and engaging. Martel's potentially unbelievable plot line soon demolishes the reader's defenses, cleverly set up by events of young Pi's life that almost naturally lead to his biggest ordeal. This richly patterned work, Martel's second novel, won Canada's 2001 Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. In it, Martel displays the clever voice and tremendous storytelling skills of an emerging master.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Greggory

I've been sitting here staring at the screen, unsure what to write. I really liked this book and found it very fascinating. I wish that I hadn't read a few pages. A couple of the conversations between the Boleyn siblings were really distasteful and I didn't like that. I liked learning about that time period and I loved Mary Boleyn's character. It is a work of fiction so it's hard to know what is true and what is false. There are some great reviews on Amazon so check em' out!

From Library Journal
Before Henry VIII ever considered making Anne Boleyn his wife, her older sister, Mary, was his mistress. Historical novelist Gregory (Virgin Earth) uses the perspective of this "other Boleyn girl" to reveal the rivalries and intrigues swirling through England. The sisters and their brother George were raised with one goal: to advance the Howard family's interests, especially against the Seymours. So when Mary catches the king's fancy, her family orders her to abandon the husband they had chosen. She bears Henry two children, including a son, but Anne's desire to be queen drives her with ruthless intensity, alienating family and foes. As Henry grows more desperate for a legitimate son and Anne strives to replace Catherine as queen, the social fabric weakens. Mary abandons court life to live with a new husband and her children in the countryside, but love and duty bring her back to Anne time and again. We share Mary's helplessness as Anne loses favor, and everyone abandons her amid accusations of adultery, incest, and witchcraft. Even the Boleyn parents won't intervene for their children. Gregory captures not only the dalliances of court but the panorama of political and religious clashes throughout Europe. She controls a complicated narrative and dozens of characters without faltering, in a novel sure to please public library fans of historical fiction. Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

This book is very short and well-written. It wasn't my favorite of John Steinbeck's but I liked the story and the imagery. It's a very sad story. I think it shows how we can come upon some wealth and be blinded by it and forget what is important.

Synopsis from Wikepedia:

The Pearl is a 1947 novella by John Steinbeck. Like his father and grandfather before him, Kino is a poor diver, gathering pearls from the Gulf beds that once brought great wealth to the Kings of Spain and now provided Kino, Juana, and their infant son Coyotito, with meager subsistence. Then, on one day like any other, Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl as large as a sea gull's egg, as "perfect as the moon."With the pearl comes hope, the promise of comfort and of security at the cost of defying the system. A story about a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl explores the secrets of man's nature, the darkest depths of evil, and the disastrous effects of stepping out of the established system. Due to the novella's negative portrayal of opportunity and ambition, many suspect that, like much of his work, it advocates socialism.[1] The novel is still widely read and fairly popular.

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright

This was a fun read. I borrowed it from Nathan's parents for our trip home and found it quite enjoyable. Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Jack and Laurel have been married for 39 years. They've lived a good life and appear to have had the perfect marriage. With his wife cradled in his arms, and before Jack takes his last breath, he scribbles his last "Wednesday Letter." When their adult children arrive to arrange the funeral, they discover boxes and boxes full of love letters that their father wrote to their mother each week on Wednesday. As they begin to open and read the letters, the children uncover the shocking truth about the past. In addition, each one must deal with the present-day challenges. Matthew has a troubled marriage, Samantha is a single mother, and Malcolm is the black sheep of the family who has returned home after a mysterious two-year absence. The Wednesday Letters has a powerful message about forgiveness and quietly beckons for readers to start writing their own "Wednesday Letters."

Mercy by Jodi Picoult

I had high hopes for this book. Jodi Picoult has been disappointing me lately so I hoped that this one would be better since it was one of her earlier novels. I was let down. I shut this book feeling annoyed more than anything. I did a research paper in my english class on euthanasia and it has always interested me. That is supposed to be what this book is about. A woman has terminal cancer. It has spread all over and is now in her brain behind her optic nerve. She is in severe pain and could die in a day or a month or could hold on for several months. Whatever the case, it won't be a fun existence. She asks her husband to kill her and he does. The book is about his trial. Another HUGE part of the book focuses on the marriage of the town sheriff and his wife and the affair he's having. So anyway, I would NOT recommend this book. Too much language and affair stuff. AND it was boring. I found myself skipping some of the wordy stuff. So enough said from me. If you would like more info on MERCY check out Amazon. Most of their reviews look like mine. Not a book worth reading.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Happy New Year!!

I've taken a little hiatus from my book club blog because of the holidays and everything that came along with that!! I'm excited for a new year and lots of new books!! Look for more reviews soon! If you have any great books to recommend - let me know!

I had to remove all the pictures of books from my blog because I discovered I had been doing it wrong! Yikes!! Pictures of the books will be back soon! Who knows if anyone even missed them?!



Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Beth wrote a review for this book a couple of months ago and it convinced me to give it a second chance. A few years ago I started it and after the first couple chapters I had to stop. I didn't like the image that it gave me of Jacob and others in the bible. This time I started it with a different attitude - that this is just a FICTIONAL story that the author imagined up - and I really enjoyed it. I found it a little hard to separate the two at times. The story is GREAT though. I loved the writing and enjoyed the characters. When I finished I had to get out my bible and read the actual story. I'm glad that it's fiction - I prefer to put our Old Testament prophets on a pedestal and not know their faults. Some of the sex parts made me a little uncomfortable but all in all this was a great book.

Review from Amazon:

The red tent is the place where women gathered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and even illness. Like the conversations and mysteries held within this feminine tent, this sweeping piece of fiction offers an insider's look at the daily life of a biblical sorority of mothers and wives and their one and only daughter, Dinah. Told in the voice of Jacob's daughter Dinah (who only received a glimpse of recognition in the Book of Genesis), we are privy to the fascinating feminine characters who bled within the red tent. In a confiding and poetic voice, Dinah whispers stories of her four mothers, Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah--all wives to Jacob, and each one embodying unique feminine traits. As she reveals these sensual and emotionally charged stories we learn of birthing miracles, slaves, artisans, household gods, and sisterhood secrets. Eventually Dinah delves into her own saga of betrayals, grief, and a call to midwifery. "Like any sisters who live together and share a husband, my mother and aunties spun a sticky web of loyalties and grudges," Anita Diamant writes in the voice of Dinah. "They traded secrets like bracelets, and these were handed down to me the only surviving girl. They told me things I was too young to hear. They held my face between their hands and made me swear to remember." Remembering women's earthy stories and passionate history is indeed the theme of this magnificent book. In fact, it's been said that The Red Tent is what the Bible might have been had it been written by God's daughters, instead of her sons. --Gail Hudson

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

This is the sequel to The Goose Girl. I had to read it right away! Enna Burning is a little darker than it predecessor but it is just as good. I really like Shannon Hale's writing style. I'm excited to finish off the trilogy with River Secrets.

Here is a synopsis/review ( I know - I am so lazy! I just can't say it like they do!) :

From Booklist
Enna, the plucky Forest maiden who befriended The Goose Girl's (2003) princess-in-disguise, decisively assumes the role of heroine in this meaty, sprawling companion, which will enchant even readers unfamiliar with the first book. After Enna learns to speak the language of fire, she believes she can avoid the gruesome fate of her brother, who died wielding the same power against an invading army. Soon enough, though, the urge to burn becomes irresistible; indeed, Hale's visceral descriptions of Enna's fire lust, a yearning that "twisted like a snake in her fist," wouldn't be out of place in a novel about a more realistic kind of addiction. It must be said that readers will need a high tolerance for grisly violence and leisurely plot development, and the payoff at the end of the book may be overly tidy. But this novel's pulsing heart lies in rich writing and sharply drawn characters, elements that will be devoured by genre fans just like kindling beneath flames. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I just keep getting lucky! It has been a long time since I read a book that I didn't enjoy. I really like a wide variety of books and I love that! I can read a sad book and enjoy it and then turn around and read a fun, fairy tale sort of book and totally love it too. This book was so much fun! It is a Grimms Brother's fairy tale but I had never heard it so it was all new for me. I couldn't put it down! Go pick it up today!

Here is a synopsis and reveiw for you courtesy of Amazon:
Heidi Anne Heiner (SurLaLune Fairy Tales.com)
Debut author Shannon Hale succeeds wonderfully with her first novel, "The Goose Girl." A retelling of the moderately well-known tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, she reinvents the story for a modern audience.

Ani, a crown princess, learns at an early age that her special gifts are not those valued by her queen mother and her future subjects. She is eventually sent to marry a prince in a different kingdom, but along the way is overthrown by her lady-in-waiting. Ani becomes a servant, tending geese, while she searches for a way to return to the marriage and throne that is rightfully her own.

Hale has reimagined the story in such a way as to give us a strong, if flawed, heroine with a conscience. In this book, the reader isn't left wondering how a princess could allow herself to be displaced so easily from her birthright. We are also given a magical reason for Ani's successful sojourn with geese. Ultimately, Hale's prose is the book's greatest asset. Ani and her world are vivid creations, ready to be shared during a long, quiet read.

If you enjoy fairy tale novelizations, such as those by Robin McKinley and Donna Jo Napoli, this book will make a great addition to your bookshelf. If you simply like historical fantasy, forget the fairy tale, this novel will also please. Royalty, deception, intrigue, treason, and redemption make up a story that doesn't obviously derive from a fairy tale.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Well, with the holidays and everything else I haven't had time to do any reviews! Bear with me while I get caught up! I have been on the waiting list at the library for this book for some time and I was SO excited to get the e-mail telling me it was finally available! I really enjoyed The Kite Runner so I was anticipating another great read. I was not disappointed! I loved this book. I like books to end well, have likable characters, teach me something, and pull at my heart strings. Throw in a good love story and I'm all set! This one did all of those things for me. It is set in Afghanistan and spans over many years and is told mainly through the eyes of Afghan women, two in particular. I was horrified when I read the rules that the Taliban set for women. They are:

You will not, under any circumstances, show your face. You will cover with burqa when outside. If you do not, you will be severely beaten.

You will not wear charming clothes.

You will not speak unless spoken to.

You will not make eye contact with men.

You will not laugh in public. If you do, you will be beaten.

You will not paint your nails. If you do, you will lose a finger.

Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed immediately.

Women are forbidden from working.

If you are found guilty of adultery, you will be stoned to death.

Listen. Listen well. Obey.

I just can't even fathom what that must have been like. It makes me all the more grateful to be an American. I would definitely recommend this book - it is a sad story but it ends happily. I loved it.


A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.


Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.

It happened on a Thursday. It must have, because Mariam remembered that she had been restless and preoccupied that day, the way she was only on Thursdays, the day when Jalil visited her at the kolba. To pass the time until the moment that she would see him at last, waving and crossing the knee-high grass in the clearing, Mariam had climbed a chair and taken down her mother's Chinese tea set. The tea set was the sole relic that Mariam's mother, Nana, had of her own mother, who had died when Nana was two. Nana cherished each blue-and-white porcelain piece, the graceful curve of the pot's spout, the hand-painted finches and chrysanthemums, the dragon on the sugar bowl, meant to ward off evil.

It was this last piece that slipped from Mariam's fingers, that fell to the wooden floorboards of the kolba and shattered.

When Nana saw the bowl, her face flushed red and her upper lip shivered, and her eyes, both the lazy one and the good, settled on Mariam in a flat, unblinking way. Nana looked so mad that Mariam feared the jinn would enter her mother's body again. But the jinn didn't come, not that time. Instead, Nana grabbed Mariam by the wrists, pulled her close, and, through gritted teeth, said, “You are a clumsy little harami. This is my reward for everything I've endured. An heirloom breaking, clumsy little harami.”

At the time, Mariam did not understand. She did not know what this word harami—bastard—meant. Nor was she old enough to appreciate the injustice, to see that it is the creators of the harami who are culpable, not the harami, whose only sin is being born. Mariam did surmise, by the way Nana said the word, that it was an ugly, loathsome thing to be a harami, like an insect, like the scurrying cockroaches Nana was always cursing and sweeping out of the kolba.

Later, when she was older, Mariam did understand. It was the way Nana uttered the word—not so much saying it as spitting it at her—that made Mariam feel the full sting of it. She understood then what Nana meant, that a harami was an unwanted thing; that she, Mariam, was an illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, acceptance. Jalil never called Mariam this name. Jalil said she was his little flower. He was fond of sitting her on his lap and telling her stories, like the time he told her that Herat, the city where Mariam was born, in 1959, had once been the cradle of Persian culture, the home of writers, painters, and Sufis.

“You couldn't stretch a leg here without poking a poet in the ass,” he laughed.

Jalil told her the story of Queen Gauhar Shad, who had raised the famous minarets as her loving ode to Heart back in the fifteenth century. He described to her the green wheat fields of Herat, the orchards, the vines pregnant with plump grapes, the city's crowded, vaulted bazaars.

“There is a pistachio tree,” Jalil said one day, “and beneath it, Mariam jo, is buried none other than the great poet Jami.” He leaned in and whispered, “Jami lived over five hundred years ago. He did. I took you there once, to the tree. You were little. You wouldn't remember.”

It was true. Mariam didn't remember. And though she would live the first fifteen years of her life within walking distance of Herat, Mariam would never see this storied tree. She would never see the famous minarets up close, and she would never pick fruit from Herat's orchards or stroll in its fields of wheat. But whenever Jalil talked like this, Mariam would listen with enchantment. She would admire Jalil for his vast and worldly knowledge. She would quiver with pride to have a father who knew such things.

“What rich lies!” Nana said after Jalil left. “Rich man telling rich lies. He never took you to any tree. And don't let him charm you. He betrayed us, your beloved father. He cast us out. He cast us out of his big fancy house like we were nothing to him. He did it happily.”

Mariam would listen dutifully to this. She never dared say to Nana how much she disliked her talking this way about Jalil. The truth was that around Jalil, Mariam did not feel at all like a harami. For an hour or two every Thursday, when Jalil came to see her, all smiles and gifts and endearments, Mariam felt deserving of all the beauty and bounty that life had to give. And, for this, Mariam loved Jalil.

Even if she had to share him.

Jalil had three wives and nine children, nine legitimate children, all of whom were strangers to Mariam. He was one of Herat's wealthiest men. He owned a cinema, which Mariam had never seen, but at her insistence Jalil had described it to her, and so she knew that the façade was made of blue-and-tan terra-cotta tiles, that it had private balcony seats and a trellised ceiling. Double swinging doors opened into a tiled lobby, where posters of Hindi films were encased in glass displays. On Tuesdays, Jalil said one day, kids got free ice cream at the concession stand.

Nana smiled demurely when he said this. She waited until he had left the kolba, before snickering and saying, “The children of strangers get ice cream. What do you get, Mariam? Stories of ice cream.”

In addition to the cinema, Jalil owned land in Karokh, land in Farah, three carpet stores, a clothing shop, and a black 1956 Buick Roadmaster. He was one of Herat's best connected men, friend of the mayor and the provincial governor. He had a cook, a driver, and three housekeepers.

Nana had been one of the housekeepers. Until her belly began to swell.

When that happened, Nana said, the collective gasp of Jalil's family sucked the air out of Herat. His in-laws swore blood would flow. The wives demanded that he throw her out. Nana's own father, who was a lowly stone carver in the nearby village of Gul Daman, disowned her. Disgraced, he packed his things and boarded a bus to Iran, never to be seen or heard from again.

“Sometimes,” Nana said early one morning, as she was feeding the chickens outside the kolba, “I wish my father had had the stomach to sharpen one of his knives and do the honorable thing. It might have been better for me.” She tossed another handful of seeds into the coop, paused, and looked at Mariam. “Better for you too, maybe. It would have spared you the grief of knowing that you are what you are. But he was a coward, my father. He didn't have the dil, the heart, for it.”

Jalil didn't have the dil either, Nana said, to do the honorable thing. To stand up to his family, to his wives and in-laws, and accept responsibility for what he had done. Instead, behind closed doors, a face-saving deal had quickly been struck. The next day, he had made her gather her few things from the servants' quarters, where she'd been living, and sent her off.

“You know what he told his wives by way of defense? That I forced myself on him. That it was my fault. Didi? You see? This is what it means to be a woman in this world.”

Nana put down the bowl of chicken feed. She lifted Mariam's chin with a finger.

“Look at me, Mariam.”

Reluctantly, Mariam did.

Nana said, “Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”

"Another artistic triumph, and surefire bestseller, for this fearless writer."
—Kirkus Reviews

"A beautifully crafted and disturbing story of two women victims of the wrath of men. As unforgettable as The Kite Runner, this novel places us in Afghanistan with an open heart."
—Isabel Allende

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

This was an excellent book and I would definitely recommend it!


A PROFOUND STORY SIMPLY TOLD..., September 18, 2004
By Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) -
This 1932 Pulitzer Prize winning novel is still a standout today. Deceptive in its simplicity, it is a story built around a flawed human being and a teetering socio-economic system, as well as one that is layered with profound themes. The cadence of the author's writing is also of note, as it rhythmically lends itself to the telling of the story, giving it a very distinct voice. No doubt the author's writing style was influenced by her own immersion in Chinese culture, as she grew up and lived in China, the daughter of missionaries.
This is the story of the cyclical nature of life, of the passions and desires that motivate a human being, of good and evil, and of the desire to survive and thrive against great odds. It begins with the story of an illiterate, poor, peasant farmer, Wang Lung, who ventures from the rural countryside and goes to town to the great house of Hwang to obtain a bride from those among the rank of slave. There, he is given the slave O-lan as his bride.
Selfless, hardworking, and a bearer of sons, the plain-faced O-lan supports Wang Lung's veneration of the land and his desire to acquire more land. She stays with him through thick and thin, through famine and very lean times, working alongside him on the land, making great sacrifices, and raising his children. As a family, they weather the tumultuousness of pre-revolutionary China in the 1920s, only to find themselves the recipient of riches beyond their dreams. At the first opportunity, they buy land from the great house of Hwang, whose expenses appear to be exceeding their income.
With the passing of time, Wang Lung buys more and more land from the house of Hwang, until he owns it all, as his veneration of the land is always paramount. With O-lan at this side, his family continues to prosper. His life becomes more complicated, however, the richer he gets. Wang Lung then commits a life-changing act that pierces O-lan's heart in the most profoundly heartbreaking way.
As the years pass, his sons become educated and literate, and the family continues to prosper. With the great house of Hwang on the skids, an opportunity to buy their house, the very same house from where he had fetched O-lan many years ago, becomes available. Pressed upon to buy that house by his sons, who do not share Wang Lung's veneration for the land and rural life, he buys the house. The country mice now have become city mice.
This is a potent story, brimming with irony, yet simply told against a framework of mounting social change. It is a story that stands as a parable in many ways and is one that certainly should be read. It illustrates the timeless dichotomy between the young and the old, the old and the new, and the rich and the poor. It is no wonder that this beautifully written book won a Pulitzer Prize and is considered a classic masterpiece. Bravo!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dracula by Bram Stoker

This classic was fantastic! It wasn't overly scary - just the right amount of suspense. I'm not gonna lie though - there were a few nail biting parts! The writing was really different (but good) and I really enjoyed the storyline. I'd definitely recommend it. Be patient - it took me a few chapters before I was hooked. =) I read a few reviews that said the beginning and end were the best and that the middle dragged. I don't agree. I thought the beginning was a little slow and then it picked up. There were times when it felt a little wordy and overly dramatic but it was written in the late 1800's so that is to be expected (I think!). If you enjoy classics then don't miss out on this one!

CLICK HERE to visit Amazon and read some more reviews!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

I absolutely LOVED these books! I found myself laughing out loud all the time! They were full of adventure and mystery with humor sprinkled throughout. I would definitely recommend these books - they were so much fun to read and unlike some series - each book got better instead of worse. The author ended the series with a bang! READ THEM!!

This is the synopsis of the first book in the trilogy - The Amulet of Samarkand:

Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the "ultimate sacrifice" for a "noble destiny." If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn't tough enough, Nathaniel's master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy's only saving grace is the master's wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him. Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine. In British author Jonathan Stroud's excellent novel, the first of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, the story switches back and forth from Bartimaeus's first-person point of view to third-person narrative about Nathaniel. Here's the best part: Bartimaeus is absolutely hilarious, with a wit that snaps, crackles, and pops. His dryly sarcastic, irreverent asides spill out into copious footnotes that no one in his or her right mind would skip over. A sophisticated, suspenseful, brilliantly crafted, dead-funny book that will leave readers anxious for more. (Ages 11 to adult) --Karin Snelson

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

By the way -

Thanks Jenny & Beth for contributing some reviews! It's always fun to see what other people are reading!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I loved this book! It really spoke to my heart. The characters were so lovable (or not) and I loved the relationships that were developed between them. I thought that there were some really neat lessons about motherhood and how we need to find the mother inside of us. It was also neat to watch how Lily's perception of her mother changes but to see how she grows and learns from her experience. She learns that nobody is perfect but we've gotta love them anyway.

Quote from the book:

"Drifting off to sleep, I thought about her. How nobody is perfect. How you just have to close your eyes and breathe out and let the puzzle of the human heart be what it is."

One thing thing I didn't like about the book: all the bees!! Yikes! =) I would definitely recommend this book! I'm excited to discuss it at book club tomorrow night.

Here is a synopsis and review that I found on the web:

Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh, unyielding father, Lily Owens has shaped her entire life around one devastating, blurred memory--the afternoon her mother was killed, when Lily was four. Since then, her only real companion has been the fierce-hearted, and sometimes just fierce, black woman Rosaleen, who acts as her “stand-in mother.”

When Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily knows it's time to spring them both free. They take off in the only direction Lily can think of, toward a town called Tiburon, South Carolina--a name she found on the back of a picture amid the few possessions left by her mother.

There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August. Lily thinks of them as the calendar sisters and enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women. Maternal loss and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness entwine in a story that leads Lily to the single thing her heart longs for most.

The Secret Life of Bees has a rare wisdom about life--about mothers and daughters and the women in our lives who become our true mothers. A remarkable story about the divine power of women and the transforming power of love, this is a stunning debut whose rich, assured, irresistible voice gathers us up and doesn't let go, not for a moment. It is the kind of novel that women share with each other and that mothers will hand down to their daughters for years to come.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Mother's Influence

My husband gave me this book last year for mothers' day. i loved it and recommend it to all mothers'. there is a special bond between the mother and child.