Sunday, April 29, 2012

Latest Review: I Capture the Castle

Goodreads Summary:
I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"; and the heart of the reader; in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.

My thoughts:
First of all, I must say that Cassandra is one of the most endearing narrators I've ever come across in fiction!  She's intelligent, spunky, and refreshingly honest.  The rest of the cast of characters in I Capture the Castle are so much fun too!  My favorites are quirky Topaz (the stepmother) and the dependable and handsome Stephen.  Dodie Smith keeps the reader guessing as to Cassandra and Rose's romantic endeavors and it is truly a pleasurable reading experience!

 I loved that the ending is not tied up with a neat little bow and the expected "happily ever after."  Overall, I really enjoyed this little character-driven gem!  Recommended to fans of Jane Austen or to those who like historical romances.

*Sidenote: I Capture the Castle was made into a movie (that boasts a pretty decent cast), I looked it up and saw that it's featured on Netflix streaming.  I added it to my instant queue and plan on watching it soonly (see the trailer below)!

 4/5 stars

Monday Memes

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:
Last week I finished Partials by Dan Wells and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers - and both were fantastic!

This Week:
I would like to read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (a retelling of The Iliad) and The Long Way Home by Karen McQuestion.  If I finish the aforementioned books then I'm either going to start on the Btown Booksters newest pick, the super-chunkster Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, OR I'm going to get down to business on my ARC bookshelf because it has been neglected for far too long!


Mailbox Monday is a touring meme where book bloggers share their bookish acquisitions from the week prior.  It is hosted this month by Cindy's Love of Books.  This week the books were just pouring into my house!

For Review: 
The Long Way Home by Karen McQuestion - copy courtesy of the author.

Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel - ARC courtesy of Doubleday.

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage - ARC courtesy of Dial Books

For Review via NetGalley:
Advent by James Treadwell - the Deborah Harkness endorsement on the cover sold me! (Simon & Schuster)

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost - written by the co-creator of Twin Peaks! (Random House Children's Books)

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin - I've wanted to read her former book The Happiness Project for awhile, so when I glimpsed this on NetGalley I jumped to request it! (Random House)

Purchased: (at an excursion to Barnes and Noble with a good friend!)
Eon by Alison Goodman - I purchased this because I've read lots of rave reviews on the blogosphere (and the cover is just so durn pretty)!

The Search for WondLa by Tony Diterlizzi - I bought this because I saw it on this fantastic list of books for kiddos and it is described as "sci-fi meets the Wizard of Oz!"

Phew!  That's all for the week.  What goodies did you guys get last week?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just for Fun - Bookish Pins!

Click on the photos to be taken to the original sources!

Do you guys agree with this list?

Neil Gaiman's home library!
Book tent!!
Rustic reading nook - complete with Plato quote
Ahh Pinterest, how I love thee!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Fave Characters

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten All-Time Favorite Characters in Books

1.  Holden Caulfield - for so many reasons!  You gotta love a character that readily admits to being a terrible liar and a sex maniac.  Also, I want to bring back the word phony just for Holden's sake.

2.  Victoria Jones - her background in the foster system and subsequent communication difficulties make you root for Victoria throughout the novel!

3.  Todd Hewitt from the Chaos Walking Trilogy - such a pure heart and what a wonderful boy!

4.  Kvothe from the Kingkiller Chronicles - seriously, Kvothe is so awesome it's almost too good to be true!

5.  Winnie the Pooh from the A. A. Milne books - I grew up with Pooh and feel like he will always be a part of my life!

6.  Vicki Austin from various Madeleine L'Engle books - I really identified with her insecurities and her understanding of the world around her when I was growing up!

7.   Rudy Steiner from The Book Thief - oh gosh, the Jesse Owens scene...actually this lemon-haired boy just steals every scene he's in.

8.  Merlin from the Mary Stewart Arthurian Saga - I looooved seeing events fold from Merlin's eyes!

9.  Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice - this one should be pretty obvious!

10.  Yelena from Poison Study - she can kick your butt plus she's super-smart...really well-drawn character (and a huuuge part of the reason why I loved this book).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Latest Review: A Sight for Sore Eyes

Goodreads Summary:
A Sight for Sore Eyes tells three stories, and for the longest time, the reader has no inkling of how they will come together. The first is a story of a little girl who has been scolded and sent to her room when her mother is brutally murdered; as Francine grows up, she is haunted by the experience, and it is years before she even speaks. Secondly, we become privy to the life of a young man, Teddy, born of unthinking young parents, who grows up almost completely ignored. Free of societal mores, he becomes a sociopath, who eventually discovers that killing can be an effective way to get what he wants.  Thirdly, we meet Harriet, who from an early age has learned to use her beauty to make her way in the world. Bored by marriage to a wealthy, much older man, she scans the local newspapers for handymen to perform odd jobs around the house, including services in the bedroom.

When these three plots strands finally converge, the result is harrowing and unforgettable. A Sight for Sore Eyes is not just the work of a writer at the peak of her craft. It is an extraordinary story by a writer who, after 45 books, countless awards, and decades of international acclaim, is still getting better with every book.

My thoughts:
So, this is one of those wishy washy books...where you say to your friends "well, it wasn't good but it wasn't necessarily bad either."  Like that helps, right?  But honestly,  I just have lukewarm feelings about this book.

This was the latest choice for my book club as we've picked our way along EW's list of 100 new classics.  Since A Sight for Sore Eyes appeared on the list, you know that it is a critical darling (I just want to make you aware that my view of this book likely diverges from popular critical sentiment).  So, let me just break it down in a list of pros and cons for ya:

Good Aspects:
  • Characterization - extremely realistic and fully fleshed out characters.
  • Compelling - this book is easily readable, I finished it in two sittings!
  • Multiple POVs done well - sometimes this can be annoying and can make a book feel choppy, not the case in A Sight for Sore Eyes.
Bad Aspects:
  • Yucky characters - and by this I mean, I didn't like a single character in this book!  Actually, the one person who I had any small amount of sympathy for is a mass murderer!
  • Bad categorization - this is shelved in the mystery section of the library and is indeed touted as a mystery...why?  There was no mystery to be solved so I'm really perplexed by its categorization.  This threw off my expectations for the book a bit (which made me a little miffed)!
  • The ending - it's one of those that makes you go "ugh! really?!"  I can't say anything more without spoiling except to say that it kind of seemed like the easiest and cleanest conclusion for Rendell, not necessarily the best conclusion for the story (although I can't think up an alternative).
  • Also, the Goodreads summary says the reader has "no inkling" of how the three storylines, not true.  I realized how these three would meet up quite easily, although there were other twists and turns to keep me on my toes.
Now that you see my thoughts in list form, can you understand why I call it wishy washy?  For those who love character-driven suspenseful literary fiction and don't mind a cast of truly despicable characters you'll probably like A Sight for Sore Eyes much more than I did.  Otherwise, I'd probably skip it unless you're low on new books to read.

3.5/5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Tips for New Bloggers

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers.  Sorry, this is a long one guys!

1.  Make Your Internet Presence Known.  Once you've got your blog up and running get corresponding social media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Book Bloggers on Ning, Pinterest, etc.  Then, make sure that all of these accounts link back to your blog - it's a great way to get more traffic.

2.  Comments!!  Make thoughtful comments on blogs that share similar tastes to's a great way to make blogger friends :)

3.  Join in some blogger hops/memes.  They can be giveaways or content but it's a good way to promote your blog and get new followers.  Also, be sure to do some giveaways that aren't hops to reward your loyal followers!
4.  Use the title of the book and the author's name within the content of your review.  This helps your review to get noticed by search engines.  Want to learn more about SEO?  Check out this great post by fellow book blogger April from Good Books and Good Wine. 

5.  Some tips on how to make Pinterest work for your blog:
  • Have bookish Pinboards (i.e. "My TBR" or "My Favorite Books")
  • Pin book covers from reviews on your blog (this can direct traffic straight to your blog)
  • Want to find out who's pinning what from your site?  Type in your browser: blog url (for example:
  • When you have bookish content that isn't a giveaway/review, create a cool icon or photo.  The icon should have text describing your post - making it perfect for pinning.  There's a Top Ten Tuesday example that I made at the top of this post (feel free to pin it)!
6.  How to spread word of your reviews:
  • Goodreads, LibraryThing, Amazon (copy and paste your reviews to these sites)
  • Lori at Pure Imagination's "Saturday Situation" link-up
  • Link to other reviews, it helps you and your blog friends get more notice from search engines!
7.  Some Facebook page tips:
  • Sign your Facebook page up with Networked Blogs.  This will automatically import your blog posts to your Fbook page - woot!
  • Try to add other content to your page besides your blog posts (it gives people more reasons to follow you on Facebook).
  • Be sure to update your page with a great cover photo now that Facebook has converted everything to Timeline view.
8.  Ways to acquire books: NetGalley, LibraryThing, Edelweiss, Goodreads giveaways, blog giveaways, and/or email the publisher directly.

9.  Make sure to have your own niche.  There are a lot of book bloggers out there so it's tough to make yourself stand out.  Have something unique about your blog.  It could be design, review style, reading tastes or a mix of all three! 

10.  Have fun!  In the end, this is a's such a blast for me to chat about books with other readers, get great reading suggestions, and just generally nerd-out!  Don't let this be a chore or you'll quickly run out of steam.

If anyone has any questions about any of these tips feel free to leave a comment and I'll try to get back to you!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Memes

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:
Last week I finished the Btown Booksters latest pick A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell and am partway through The Partials by Dan Wells.

This Week:
I plan on finishing up The Partials and then getting to The Rook by Daniel O'Malley and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.  Being as they are all decent-sized books, we'll see how it goes!


Mailbox Monday is a touring meme where book bloggers share their bookish acquisitions from the week prior.  It is hosted this month by Cindy's Love of Books.
For Review: 
The Innocents by Francesca Segal

From Paperback Swap:
So Far from God by Ana Castillo
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Deceiving Books

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books That Were Totally Deceiving

1.  The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - while the cover is very pretty, it didn't do much for me.  Once I read the book I was pleasantly flabbergasted with the uniqueness of this story.

2.  Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Perkins - the cover almost makes this look like a picture book, right?  I was a little hesitant to read it because of this - but I'm really glad I overlooked the cover because the novel was fantastic!

3.  The Magicians by Lev Grossman - it was described as Harry Potter for adults.  While this is true to an extent (both are about schools of magicians) this book is much darker and more reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia rather than Harry.

4.  Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - the summary of this novel makes it sound like such a dull read.  I was amazed at how engrossed I was with this beautiful tale.

5.  The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell - a priest in space???  Sounds weird, right?  I never expected for this book to be so blew me away!

6.  Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward - I knew this was going to be a unique reading experience, but otherwise had no expectations.  Needless to say, I have never read anything before or since quite like this hilarious co-authored endeavor (the footnotes killed me)!

7.  The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig - the cover makes you think typical historical fiction but this story is really one of intrigue and romance set in both modern-day and Regency England.

8.  Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion - zombie romance...I'm thinking, "uh-oh is this gonna be super-sappy?"  Nope!  Not at all.  It was a well-written story from the unique perspective of the zombie as narrator.

9.  Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - this cover is SUPER cheesy, luckily the story has much more substance than the cover would lead you to think.

10.  You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning - both title and cover scream typical chick-lit, but it was a way above average story of two troubled adults coming into their own (plus love story, of course)!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Memes

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:
Last week I was an epic reading fail!  NO newly finished books - yep, that's right.  Zero.  Oh well, sometimes you just have those busy weeks but man oh man my TBR is getting HUGE!
This Week:
I plan to finish A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell (the Btown Bookster's meet this Thursday so I need to hurry up)!  Then maybe I'll read some of my latest library book picks - Heft by Liz Moore, The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, and/or The Partials by Dan Wells.

Mailbox Monday is a touring meme where book bloggers share their bookish acquisitions from the week prior.  It is hosted this month by Cindy's Love of Books.
For Review: 
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn