Friday, January 31, 2014

Foodie February 2014!

It's that time of year again!  Tomorrow begins the month where at NPLB we tantalize our taste buds while reading!  In the Februaries of the past two years, I've read both cookbooks and foodie fiction and plan on continuing the tradition.  Here's some reviews for you to look forward to this month:

How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson

Keepers by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion

Foodie Fiction:
Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen (partially foodie)

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher

And other, yet to be determined foodie novels!  At the end of the month I will host a foodie book giveaway to win one of the books that I reviewed this month or in past Foodie Februaries.  Yum, I can't wait to start!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Latest Review: The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

Chinon-chateau of legend, steeped in the history of France and England. It is to Chinon that Emily goes on a long-awaited holiday, to meet her charming but unreliable cousin, Harry. Harry wanted to explore the old town and the castle, where Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, had withstood the siege of Chinon many centuries ago, and where, according to legend, she hid her casket of jewels. But when Emily arrives at her hotel she finds that Harry has disappeared, and as she tries to find him she becomes involved with some of the other guests and learns of a mystery dating from the German occupation during the Second World War. Another Isabelle, a chambermaid at the hotel, fell in love with a German soldier, with tragic results.

Emily becomes increasingly aware of strange tensions, old enmities and new loves; as she explores the city, with its labyrinthine dungeons and tunnels and its ancient secrets, she comes ever closer to the mystery of what happened to both the Isabelles of Chinon's history.

My Blabberings:
In general I thought it was an okay foreign mystery tale with a smidge of historical bits.  I would've preferred more historical bits myself :)   At first I was so excited because Kearsley usually injects quite a lot of historical "flashbacks" in her novels, and when I saw that the historical portion would be about the Plantagenet family it made me do a happy dance.  Unfortunately, the historical aspect of this book was pretty sparse. 

Also the romance felt a bit tacked on...and honestly, I have no idea why these two would make a good couple other than their "intense attraction."  Not my fave of Kearsley's novels...this was a liked it but didn't love it kind of situation (unlike The Firebird which I loved)!

3/5 stars

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Towering TBR: Thanks to the Blogosphere

This newish segment on the blog came about because my desire to read new books vastly outstrips my ability to dwindle down my TBR list...oh, to have more free time!  Anyways, these are some new additions to the good ol' TBR due to the blogosphere:

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole - an epistolary book with a setting in historic Scotland...sold!

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie - sounds fascinating!

 The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes...trying to read more thrillers and this one was recommended frequently.

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice...I was just saying how I wanted to read more books set in the 60s and it came highly recommended by a blogger (I miss using the search function in Google Reader so I could "remember" who recommended it).

Lastly, The Assasin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clark...adventurous fantasy stories are right up my alley!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Miscellany: Candles For Your Home Library

Hey folks!  I'm introducing a new segment to the blog "Monday Miscellany" where I take off my reader glasses and share some non-bookish musings. This time around my post is actually partially bookish - book lover candles!  The Etsy shop Frostbeard has the most amazing book-themed candles that I want to snatch up ASAP!  Check 'em out:

They also have scents such as Butterbeer, Winterfell, Sherlock's Study and more!  Oh and they even have scented soy melts (i.e. for your Scentsy burner if you have one)!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Latest "Meh" Books

As a frequent reader, you come across a few duds or books that aren't necessarily bad but aren't really novels you'd recommend either.  Here are some recent "meh" reads:

Inferno by Dan Brown - I thought I was going to like this book (as I've read a few of his other works and enjoyed them) but beyond the Florence setting, I wasn't too enamored of this read.

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve - I've read another of her books a looong time ago, but I vaguely remember liking it.  I also chose to read this because it was recommended somewhere (I can't remember where now).  Unfortunately, this was an annoyingly predictable novel.  I knew exactly where the plot was going...I kept thinking "surely there's a twist!  This is much too obvious!"  But nope.  Nada.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

TTT: On My Reading Wishlist

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist.

1.  More magical realism.  I love this genre of fiction and there aren't enough books out there to satisfy my MR craving!
Painting by Rob Gonsalves

2.  Less trilogies!!!  In some cases they are necessary, but I feel that some stories are simply stretched to fit the popular trilogy mold...which ends up diminishing the quality of the work.

3.  More foodie fiction.  As evidenced by my Foodie February event each year, I like my foodie books - and there aren't nearly enough!

4.  More rom-coms!  Now that they never appear in movie theaters anymore (and let's face it, the quality of film rom-coms is questionable), I have to get my romantic comedy fix with books.  For example, The Rosie Project was fantastic!

5.  How about some more books that take place during the late 60s that don't focus mainly on hippie stuffs/drugs?

6.  More retellings of classic myths...I bet there's more out there than I realize but additional ones can't hurt!

7.  A plethora of cookbooks for the everyday person - I love finding cookbooks that have recipes that I can realistically fit into my busy schedule!

I can only come up with 7 this time around...what am I missing?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Miscellany: Music of 2013

Hey folks!  I'm introducing a new segment to the blog "Monday Miscellany" where I take off my reader glasses and share some non-bookish musings.  I know I'm late with the 2013 end-of-year posts but I wanted to add my fave music finds of the year just for the heck of it!  So here/hear you go:

Fenech Soler - super fun poppy album

Mayer Hawthorne's new album - retro-tastic!

Disclosure!!  Best new band discovery of the year (for me)!

James Blake - kind of Jeff Buckley-esque but he's got a really different first I didn't like it.  Obviously, it's grown on me since then to make my list of faves!

Foals - I was obsessed with this album for a good month or two!

Lastly, I love this song Pharaohs by SBTRKT ft. Roses Gabor

Friday, January 17, 2014

Latest (Shorty) Review: The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Summary Blurb:
The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

My Blabberings:  
Normally I am not a fan of (read: want to chuck a book out a window when I see) love triangles.  However, this book was an exception…maybe because it hasn’t gotten too love triangle-y yet since it is the first installment.  The author clearly set this up but yet I didn’t mind it…shock! 

This was a really well-written nail biter of a book.  The Fifth Wave makes me want to read more of Rick Yancey’s work.  I originally avoided his other novels due to their categorization as horror (I’m a scaredy-pants), but I’m going to put my big girl pants on and try them out really soon!

4.5/5 stars

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TTT: Top Ten 2014 Debuts

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For:

1.  The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin...dream experimentation with ethical implications - sounds like a unique reading experience!

2.  Wake by Anna Hope...recommended for folks looking for a new historical fiction gem!  Yes, it is set during WWII yet again, but the plot sounds fresh.

3.  The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne...blurb says influenced by Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Erin Morgenstern - sold!

4.  Half Bad by Sally Green...a book about magic where the author is likened to J. K. Rowling - well, now I'm definitely curious! 

5.  Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell...a "sweeping historical love story" about opera and Mozart with a lot of buzz - count me in!

6.  The Book of Jonah by Joshua Feldman...a modern retelling of the Biblical story - sounds interesting!

7.  All That is Solid Melts Into Air by Darragh McKeon...a novel set during the Chernobyl disaster that is getting praise from Colm Toibin sounds like something I want to pick up.

8.  The Bend of the World by Jacob Bacharach...the plot summary has already sucked me in, I can't wait to read it!

9.  Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler...a Midwestern tale of intertwined lives with a musical twist!

10.  Three Souls by Janie emotional rollercoaster of a young ghost set in 1930s China.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Latest Review: And the Mountains Echoed

Summary blurb:
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.


My blabberings:
First off, I love Khaled Hosseini.  Every single book he's written is heartbreaking and beautifully written.  I still think that of all his books, A Thousand Splendid Suns is my favorite but this absolutely lived up to my expectations of Hosseini as an author.

It was a beautiful story of family and self-discovery all set against his familiar Afghanistan backdrop.  I always love learning a little bit more about Afghani history each time I read one of this author's books.

And the Mountains Echoed is very similar to a collection of short stories.  Each chapter focuses on different main characters, although they all intertwine at some point.  While this is not necessarily a page-turner type of read it is nonetheless compelling...just at a slower tempo. 

Once again, I'm recommending a book that necessitates tissues.  But it is well worth it people!  Mr. Hosseini has composed a solid addition to his life's work.  If you are a fan of his other books, you should definitely check out this book as you will not be disappointed.  If you have never read anything by this particular author, I would encourage you to pick up any of his books as they are all wonderful!

5/5 stars

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

TTT: Bookish Goals for 2014

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Bookish Goals/Resolutions for 2014.  I already kinda touched on this in my New Year of Reading post, but let me delve a little deeper into my goals as a reader:

1.  I am going to try and read all of my kindle backlog - whoa!  This may seem pretty ambitious but I've been working on this one slowly but surely so that I only have a handful (okay, maybe two handfuls) of digital books left.

2.  I want to re-read the Anne of Green Gables series (below) and Mary Stewart's Arthurian Saga series (above) because I loved them both and it's been long enough that I only barely remember the story lines.

3.  Another goal is to make a serious dent in my bookshelves.  There are wayyy to many unread books on my shelves.

4.  I resolve to cull my book stash...see April's post for some tips if you have the same aim (she's more ruthless than I can manage).  I've already started this, and have one bag filled so far!

5.  Use the library more!  I love that I live so close!

6.  I have a backlog of ARCs that I really want to read...I hope I can at least finish a couple of these.

7.  My goal is to read about two books per week this year.

8.  I want 2014's Foodie February to blow every other Foodie February out of the water content-wise.  I want to do two foodie fiction/cookbook reviews a week...we'll see :)

9.  I'd like to continue reading from a variety of different genres...I need to make sure that I include some more non-fiction this year.  I've got a couple of books on my shelves that would fit the bill - goal double whammy!

10.  Buuut, at the same time, my fave genre is literary fiction and to get to my overall books read goal, I think I should allow myself to read more from this category.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Life According to Literature

Welp, I'm stuck in my house thanks to the crazy winter storm raging through I decided to join in with this fun year-end meme hosted by Catherine Pope - Victorian Geek.
The rules: Using only books you have read this past year (2013), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title.

Describe yourself: Awkward

How do you feel:  The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.

Describe where you currently live: The Shadow of the Wind

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Beautiful Ruins

Your favourite form of transportation: On the Road

Your best friend is: The Firebird

You and your friends are: Sweethearts

What’s the weather like: The Chaos of Stars

You fear: And Only to Deceive

What is the best advice you have to give: Dinner, A Love Story: It all begins at the family table

Thought for the day: Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture

How I would like to die: Gone Girl

My soul’s present condition: The Sea of Tranquility