Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Hop

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop hosted by  Click on the icon above to be taken to a list of book's enjoyable to peruse and you may just find a couple of fun blogs to follow!  This week's question:

“In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”?”

Answer: His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.  This series is soooo good and seriously misunderstood by the Christian (mainly Catholic) community.  This misunderstanding caused a great controversy surrounding these books.  In fact, I once recommended this series to a young reader and her mother was furious about it once the mother's friend told her the books are "anti-Christian."  I disagree wholeheartedly with that statement but if you only look at the books at the most surface-level and ignore the (quite obvious) themes then I suppose you could make that mistake.

Ah banned books - isn't it funny that the most frequently challenged books also happen to be excellent (often award-winning) books?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Latest Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Goodreads Summary: 
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. 

Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. 

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

My thoughts:
I loved Elisa!  She was so easy to relate to and not at all unreasonably whiny (like many female protagonists seem to be).  Maybe one of the reasons that's true is she's not a skinny pretty girl who somehow has confidence issues but she's spoiled and fat (and knows it).  This is the first time I've ever read a fantasy adventure book with a plump heroine - how refreshing! 

All of the secondary characters are also well-drawn.  The desert scenery was vividly depicted and was as integral to the story as its characters.  There is much love and loss in this book and the pages fly by with the action-packed plot.

It is interesting to note how the author deals with skin-deep beauty.  While it's not overt, pay attention to how those that flaunt their attractiveness fare compared to those who are scarred or hide their beauty.  I can't say more without possibly being spoilery so I'll leave it at that!

If you like fantasy books, adventure stories, and/or a bit of mysticism than you will thoroughly enjoy this book!  Highly recommended.

4/5 stars

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: This Is Not a Test

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that showcases upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I can't wait to get my grubby hands on This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (out June 2012).

Goodreads Summary:
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up.

As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, everyone’s motivations to survive begin to change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life–and death–inside.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

Whoa, zombie apocalypse drama - sounds like this could be a fun read!  What's on your radar?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Rereads

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books I Want To Reread
  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (lucky for me this is the Btown Booksters next read!)
  2. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (loved this series as a kid and hopefully I'd enjoy them as much as an adult)
  3. His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman (I haven't read these in a very long time and would love to immerse myself in these great books again!)
  4. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger (I've reread Catcher in the Rye many times but it's been far too long since I read F&Z for the first time)
  5. Anne of Green Gables and series by L. M. Montgomery (I adored these books as a kid and would love to revisit them)
  6. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (read this as a teen and I've completely forgotten the book except to remember that I really liked it)
  7. The Child from the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge (another childhood fav)
  8. Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (such a great book)
  9. The Broken Chord by Michael Dorris (a memoir about raising a child with fetal alcohol syndrome may be an odd choice but it was such a good book!)
  10. Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (my first Rand - and I loved it)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a touring meme where book bloggers share their bookish acquisitions from the week prior.  It is hosted this month by Amused By Books.

This week I went on a bit of a book shopping spree:

The Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness...I've delayed this as long as I can, I finally need to finish this terrific series!

I purchased Ready Player One by Ernest Cline because both my husband and I want to read this sucker!

I also received some fantastic books as gifts: Work Hard. Be Nice. and Boy's Life

I had a delightfully distracting week and hope to get down to reading all of the fabulous books I just received!  What's in your mailbox?

Friday, September 23, 2011


Ginger at GReads created this fantastic TGIF event featuring a question and a weekly recap.

This Friday's Question:

Reading Challenges: Did you sign up for any this year? 
How has your progression been?

A: Yep!  I signed up for two reading challenges this year.

First, I signed up for the Goodreads 2011 Challenge which simply challenges you to read a certain number of books (your choice) by the end of the year.  My progress thus far:
Originally, I challenged myself to read 100 books, but since I've exceeded 100 I thought I'd up the number!

Also, I signed up for Introverted Reader's Southern Literature Challenge (which asks you to read and review up to 4 books that take place in the South) because there are quite a few of these books that I'd really like to read.

So far, I've read and reviewed The Help.  I've also read every Sarah Addison Allen book and plan on reviewing one (I can't decide between The Girl Who Chased the Moon or The Sugar Queen).  So, I have two more books to read and review to complete this challenge!

Next year I plan on joining a lot more challenges, any recommendations?  Have a super-duper weekend folks!  I know I will as my family is coming to town and we're all attending the awesome Lotus World Music & Arts Festival!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Dark Inside

***Sorry this is a day late y'all - my internet quit on me all day yesterday!!  Hope you still enjoy :)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that showcases upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I discovered a new fall release called Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts (release date: November 1st).
Creeptastic eyes, no?

Goodreads Summary:
Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.

Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.

Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read But Me

  1. The Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  2. Paper Towns by John Green
  3. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obrecht
  4. The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
  5. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  6. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival
  7. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  8. Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
  9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  10. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Am I right?  Have you guys read these?

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Latest Review: All These Things I've Done

    Goodreads Summary:
    In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

    My thoughts:
    As you may have noticed, I can be a pretty tough critic when it comes to YA literature.  It's because YA authors are exploring some really creative premises and topics - thus, making it possible for some mind-blowing books.  Anyways, I'm prefacing my thoughts on this book with this disclaimer because, compared to other bloggers, I wasn't as impressed with this book.  Despite this, check out the links to other (more positive) reviews at the bottom of this post...because you may disagree with me :)

    My favorite part of the book?  Easily it's the interesting dystopian premise (chocolate and coffee are illegal?!).  I also loved Anya's family and friends (Natty, Leo, Scarlet and Win).  My least favorite part of the book?  The about abrupt!  I know it is a part of a planned series but I was still unhappy with the ending.

    But really, the main difficulty I had with this book is that I didn't like Anya.  I wanted to like her.  She is a tough female protagonist (I prefer those to the damsel-in-distress types) but she could also be so obtuse despite constantly being called smart and objective.  Also, the whole star-crossed lovers aspect gets played out a lot in YA books.  Sometimes it works (like in Starcrossed) and sometimes it doesn't...and it just didn't work for me in this book.  The series as a whole has potential, but I felt that All These Things I've Done as a standalone was a bit of a let down.

    Main takeaway: I was disappointed...maybe there was too much buzz or maybe it was my own expectations but this book didn't deliver for me (however, most of the blogosphere disagrees with me - see here and here).  Despite all of my grumbling, it wasn't awful by any means.  I did like it...I just didn't love it.

    3.5/5 stars

    Waiting on Wednesday: A Monster Calls

    "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that showcases upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

    This week I can't wait to get my grubby hands on A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.  My longtime readers know my love of Ness's work and I've seen nothing but praise for his latest novel!

    Goodreads Summary:
    At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd – whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself – Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Top Ten Tuesday

    Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books I Read Because Of Another Blogger (In honor of BBAW!).  Since I'm newish to book blogging...these are all going to be rather recent reads, here goes:
    1. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (thanks to Asheley over at Into the Hall of Books)
    2. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (thanks to Jen at Introverted Reader)
    3. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (thanks to Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot)
    4. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons (thanks to Anne at The Book Garden)
    5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (thanks to Jennie at Life is Short Read Fast)
    6. The Restorer by Amanda Stevens (thanks to Nicole at Linus' Blanket)
    7. The Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig (thanks to Jen at Introverted Reader)
    8. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (thanks to Ti at Book Chatter)
    9. The Taker by Alma Katsu (thanks to Nicole at Linus' Blanket
    10. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (thanks to Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot)

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    It's Monday! What Are You Reading? & Mailbox Monday

    Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  We share books that we've read over the past week and those we hope to read this week.  

    Last Week:
    This past week I read a bunch of YA:
    • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
    • White Cat by Holly Black
    • Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

    This Week:
    Last week I ignored my library stack in favor of previously purchased books...but time to get back to it!  Here's what my reading choices are:

    • Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue
    • Sister Mischief by Laura Goode
    • Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
    • Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

    Mailbox Monday is a touring meme where book bloggers share their bookish acquisitions from the week prior.  It is hosted this month by Amused By Books.

    This week I purchased some really fun reads:

    Soon I Will be Invincible by Austin Grossman

    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

    Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

    Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

    The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    5 Best Books: Academia

    5 Best Books is a weekly meme hosted by Indie Reader Houston that asks readers to list their top 5 books on a given topic.  This week's theme: Academia.  

     For this week I' m going to list the top 5 books I've read for school (BA was in English, so I've got lots of goodies to draw from) goes!

    Turn, Magic Wheel by Dawn Powell
    Dennis Orphen, in writing a novel, has stolen the life story of his friend, Effie Callingham, the former wife of a famous, Hemingway-like novelist, Andrew Callingham. Orphen’s betrayal is not the only one, nor the worst one, in this hilarious satire of the New York literary scene. (Powell personally considered this to be her best New York novel.) Powell takes revenge here on all publishers, and her baffoonish MacTweed is a comic invention worthy of Dickens. And as always in Powell’s New York novels, the city itself becomes a central character: “On the glittering black pavement legs hurried by with umbrella tops, taxis skidded along the curb, their wheels swishing through the puddles, raindrops bounced like dice in the gutter.” Powell’s famous wit was never sharper than here, but Turn, Magic Wheel is also one of the most poignant and heart-wrenching of her novels.

    Caucasia by Danzy Senna
    In the tradition of Nella Larsen's Passing, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, and James McBride's The Color of Water, Danzy Senna's first novel, Caucasia, explores the complexity of racial discord in America. While Ellison wrote about being paradoxically marked yet "invisible" as a black American man, and Larsen grappled with issues of race, gender, and sexuality during the Harlem Renaissance, Caucasia describes the experience of the invisible sister who confronts biracial identity in post-civil rights movement America. 

    Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson
    Jesus' Son, the first collection of stories by Denis Johnson, presents a unique, hallucinatory vision of contemporary American life unmatched in power and immediacy and marks a new level of achievement for this acclaimed writer. In their intensity of perception, their neon-lit evocation of a strange world brought uncomfortably close to our own, the stories in Jesus' Son offer a disturbing yet eerily beautiful portrayal of American loneliness and hope.

    Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
    "Somehow or other I seem to have slipped in between all the 'schools,'" observed Nathanael West the year before his untimely death in 1940. "My books meet no needs except my own, their circulation is practically private and I'm lucky to be published." Yet today, West is widely recognized as a prophetic writer whose dark and comic vision of a society obsessed with mass-produced fantasies foretold much of what was to come in American life. Miss Lonelyhearts (1933), which West envisioned as "a novel in the form of a comic strip," tells of an advice-to-the-lovelorn columnist who becomes tragically embroiled in the desperate lives of his readers. The Day of the Locust (1939) is West's great dystopian Hollywood novel based on his experiences at the seedy fringes of the movie industry.

    Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (this one gets double points b/c it takes place at a University)
    A divorced, middle-aged English professor finds himself increasingly unable to resist affairs with his female students. When discovered by the college authorities, he is expected to apologise and repent in an effort to save his job, but he refuses to become a scapegoat in what he see as as a show trial designed to reinforce a stringent political correctness. 

    He preempts the authorities and leaves his job, and the city, to spend time with his grown-up lesbian daughter on her remote farm. Things between them are strained - there is much from the past they need to reconcile - and the situation becomes critical when they are the victims of a brutal and horrifying attack. 

    In spectacularly powerful and lucid prose, J.M. Coetzee uses all his formidable skills to engage with a post-apartheid culture in unexpected and revealing ways. This examination into the sexual and politcal lawlines of modern South Africa as it tries desperately to start a fresh page in its history is chilling, uncompromising and unforgettable.

    **All summaries are direct quotes from Goodreads