Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Super-Shorty Reviews

My reviewing these days has just gone by the wayside...if I don't review a book immediately after I've read it then my motivation slowly wanes.  To remedy this slightly, I'll quickly shoot off some super-short reviews :)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Goodreads Summary:
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My thoughts:
  • I liked it even better than Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss!
  • If you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss (and are planning to) you may want to read it first as this book has spoilery characters from Anna in it.
  • Adorable.  I loved both main characters in this book and their endearing quirks.
  • If you like John Green, you'll probably like Stephanie Perkins.
  • Read this if you're in the mood for a great contemporary YA romance :)
  • 4/5 stars

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (sequel coming soon!)
Goodreads Summary:
Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane's skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody's suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right--and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

My thoughts:
  • If you're like me and love a) Jane Austen and b) fantasy - you will be smitten with this book!
  • I adored Jane and liked the fact that she was admirable for her mind and skill rather than her looks.
  • It was a fantastic and quick read with a lovely ending.  It's perfect as a stand-alone novel, but to my delight there is a sequel called Glamour in Glass coming out in April!
  • 4/5 stars
Phew!  There we go, sorry for the abbreviated nature of these reviews but at least now I'm a bit caught up.  Coming soon - reviews of Dash & Lily's Book of Secrets and The Stupidest Angel.

Waiting on Wednesday: No One is Here Except All of Us

"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 feast my eyeballs on No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel.  This book comes out February 2nd and it sounds simply fantastic!

Goodreads Summary:
In 1939, the families in a remote Jewish village in Romania feel the war close in on them. Their tribe has moved and escaped for thousands of years- across oceans, deserts, and mountains-but now, it seems, there is nowhere else to go. Danger is imminent in every direction, yet the territory of imagination and belief is limitless. At the suggestion of an eleven-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger who has washed up on the riverbank, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: deny any relationship with the known and start over from scratch. Destiny is unwritten. Time and history are forgotten. Jobs, husbands, a child, are reassigned. And for years, there is boundless hope. But the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one, eventually overtaking it, and soon our narrator-the girl, grown into a young mother-must flee her village, move from one world to the next, to find her husband and save her children, and propel them toward a real and hopeful future. A beguiling, imaginative, inspiring story about the bigness of being alive as an individual, as a member of a tribe, and as a participant in history, No One Is Here Except All Of Us explores how we use storytelling to survive and shape our own truths. It marks the arrival of a major new literary talent. 

Interesting premise, no?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books on my TBR list for winter.
  1. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore - gotta have a holiday book on the list!
  2. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver - I luuurved Delirium and can't wait to see what happens next!
  3. The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig - can't get enough of this series, it's such fun fluff :)
  4. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin - I feel like everyone has read this but me!
  5. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson - I've had this on my Kindle for far too long
  6. We the Animals by Justin Torres - I've heard amazing things about this book from trusted bloggers so it's high up on the TBR!
  7. The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly - again, I feel like everyone's read this series except for me!
  8. Chime by Franny Billingsley - I've seen lots of rave reviews of this excited to read it!
  9. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - January's Btown Booksters choice...looks like a really intense and interesting read.
  10. Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint - this one's been on the bookshelves for far too long!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadow of Night

"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 feast my eyeballs on Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness!!  I can barely contain my yearning to find out what happens in the next installment of Diana's adventure (PS - if you haven't read A Discovery of Witches you might not want to read the summary below because it's a bit spoilery).  Unfortunately Shadow of Night doesn't come out until this spring :(

Goodreads Summary:
Shortly after Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont timewalk to London, 1590, they discover that the past may not provide a safe haven after all. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy Matthew Roydon, the vampire falls back in step with a group of radicals known as the School of Night who share dangerous ideas about God, science, and man. Many of his friends are unruly daemonsn - the creative minds of the age who walk the fine line between genius and madness - including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Matthew, himself, is expected to continue to spy for Queen Elizabeth, which puts him in close contact with London's cutthroat underworld.

Together, Matthew and Diana scour the bookstalls and alchemical laboratories of London where they follow the elusive trail of Ashmole 782 - and search for the witch who will teach Diana to control her powers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bookish Christmas Gifts Part 2

Now that Black Friday is almost here, I thought I'd share a few more bookish gift ideas with you folks (click on the photos to be taken to the site)!  First up, is the Mini Modern Classics box set which includes short stories from the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and P. G. Wodehouse.


The person on your list isn't a short story about some bookish art?

Or perhaps a favorite author portrait?

For the computer-savvy bookworm, a Don Quixote Macbook decal

For a bookworm who loves accessories

Or the Harry Potter fan who loves accessories
Time Turner Necklace

Lastly, how about some stylish bookends?

Monday, November 21, 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:
I've been on a kind of reading blah lately- call it a bookish malaise if you will.  Anyways, my reading accomplishments have been less than impressive, but here they are:

  • Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (liked it even more than Anna and the French Kiss)!
  • halfway through The Informationist but I think I'm giving's not bad, but it's not holding my attention either...I read this because of comparisons to Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy but I just don't find the protagonist as sympathetic as Lisbeth.
  • also partially through The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman...but holy cow it's a long book!  It's due back to the library in 2 days - hopefully I can finish it by then!
This Week:
  • Leisl & Po by Lauren Oliver
  • Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (for the Btown Booksters holiday meeting)


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

This past week I received some fantastic goodies!

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley (courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy (courtesy of Crown Publishing)

Carry the One by Carol Anshaw (courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

And lastly, I received The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen by Thomas Caplan (courtesy of Viking)

What goodies did you folks get?!

    Friday, November 18, 2011


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

    This Friday's Question:
    Giving Thanks: Which books are you most thankful for receiving from other bloggers, friends, family members, or publishers?
    Oh goodness!  This is tough - I've received so many great books over the year!  Well, I lucked out in the ARC department this year, some of my favorite books were advanced copies and I'm so thankful to the publishers!  First up, I received The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh courtesy of Random House.  This was such a heartbreaking and beautiful novel - loved it!

    Another of my favorite books this year, When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, was given to me by Algonquin Books.  It was such a well-written and thought-provoking dystopian novel - so glad I read it!

    I'm also thankful that I received Boy's Life by Robert McCammon for my birthday this year!  I've always meant to read Boy's Life as it came highly recommended to me from my mother (surprise, surprise we have extremely similar taste in books).  Now, with it glaring at me from the shelves I know I'll get to it soon and I can't wait!

    What about you folks?  What books are you thankful for receiving this year?

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    2012 Reading Challenges

    I'm really excited to stretch my reading horizons further next year and in order to push myself I've signed up for four new challenges for 2012!

    First up, I signed on to Curiosity Killed the Bookworm's Sci-Fi Challenge!  For this challenge, the object is to read one Sci-Fi book per month - I'm super excited!  Some possibilities I'm thinking about:

    • Kindred by Octavia Butler (I meant to read this in 2011 but never got around to it!)
    • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    • Triptych by J.M. Frey
    • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
    • WE by John Dickinson
    • Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
    and many many more!

    I also signed up for Beth Fish Reads' What's in a Name 5 Challenge.  It's such a creative challenge!  The object is to read one book from each of the following categories:
    • A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title: I'll probably read The Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
    • A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title: I'm thinking Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
    • A book with a creepy crawly in the title: I'll likely read The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison
    • A book with a type of house in the title: I'm think I might choose I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    • A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title: I'll probably read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    • A book with a something you'd find on a calendar in the title: I'm thinking Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory

    Additionally, I signed up for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2012 hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much!  This should be relatively easy for me to accomplish since my book club will be doing a round of classic books starting in February.
    • Any 19th Century Classic
    • Any 20th Century Classic
    • Reread a classic of your choice
    • A Classic Play - I might kill 2 birds with 1 stone and re-read some Shakespeare :)
    • Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction
    • Classic Romance
    • Read a Classic that has been translated from its original language to your languange
    • Classic Award Winner 
    • Read a Classic set in a Country that you (realistically speaking) will not visit during your lifetime

    And lastly, but definitely not least, I signed up for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2012 hosted by My Reader's Block.  I was already challenging myself to get some of the books on my shelves read - but hopefully this challenge will keep that a priority!  I'm going for the Pike's Peak level (12 books from my pile) - because with 4 challenges total (and my undying love of the library) this is realistically what I will get accomplished.

    Phew!  That's all of them!  What challenges are you guys signed up for?

    A Smattering of Christmas Books (and giveaway winner)!

    Wow, thanks for the overwhelming response from blog readers (both by comments and email) and from my tumblr followers!  Now, the contest stated that you must leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.  Sooo, that means all of you that emailed or tumbled your responses are ineligible (I think many of you were just trying to be helpful without regard for the prize - thanks for your kindness)!  Due to the huge response from people, the Bloomington Booksters had all sorts of great books to choose from and surprisingly, only one suggestion from the comments made the final cut!  While we didn't end up choosing this suggestion - it still made it to the final round so I'm deeming this the winner.  And the winner is:

    Chris for being the first to suggest Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris!!

    Thanks again to everyone for all of your great recommendations!  I thought it only fair to share with y’all a list of our favorite suggestions (the books that made the final round):

    The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

    Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan** This was the winner!

    The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

    Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

     Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

    The Box of Delights by John Masefield

    The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

    I'd love to read all of these - and more of the recommended books!

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Waiting on Wednesday: For Darkness Shows the Stars

    "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 feast my eyeballs on For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (but unfortunately this beauty doesn't come out until June)!

    Goodreads Summary:
    Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

    Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

    But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.

    Inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Latest Review: The Sugar Queen

    Goodreads Summary:
    Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…

    Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.

    Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and—most amazing of all—has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush.

    As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time—even for her. It seems that Della Lee’s work is done, and it’s time for her to move on. But the truth about where she’s going, why she showed up in the first place—and what Chloe has to do with it all—is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey’ s fast-changing life.

    My thoughts:
    As is true with all Sarah Addison Allen novels, I loved this book! This story has a very fairy-tale feel to it which is magnificently magical!   

    The characters and setting are fantastic as usual.  I could empathize easily with both Josie and Chloe.  I've had my shy (and plump) moments in life and experiencing Josie's painful insecurities just makes her all the more endearing.  Chloe, while quite different from Josie, is also easy to feel an affinity with due to her love of books.  This reading experience is not unlike slowly savoring a sweet enjoy every second of it and when it's over, you just want more! 

    Recommended to:
    • Those who like magical realism books
    • Those who like slightly romantical fluffy reads
    • Those who can empathize with a shy and slightly overweight candy-lover
    • Those who enjoy fairy-tales
    4/5 stars

    Top Ten Tuesday: Dustiest Books on the Shelf

    Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books That Have Been On My Shelf For The Longest But I've Never Read
    1.  Middlemarch by George Eliot
    2. A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
    3. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
    4. The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler
    5. Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Farina
    6. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
    7. The Cultural Creatives by Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson
    8. Paradise by Toni Morrison
    9. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
    10. Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

    The Tao of Pooh
    The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
    Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me
    A Man in Full
    The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World
    The Painted Veil
    Arthur and George
    The Corrections