Friday, December 30, 2011

Feature & Follow Friday

It is time again to share the love -- Follow and Feature Friday hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  The rules:
How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them “hi” in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!


This week's feature blog is:


Kate @ Ex Libris
I am a perpetually tired reader, mom of two, ex-music teacher, and HR worker bee. I work for a NASA contractor in Houston, but I would rather live somewhere that doesn’t fry in the summer or get hit by hurricanes in the fall. My first literary crush was Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables and I add to that list every day.
My book blog is only a few months old and I love to talk about books with anyone who will listen. I read all types of fiction, but have recently discovered the wide world of YA. I am a Hunger Games fangirl who loves Jane Austen or a good Dr. Who episode. (Aren’t they ALL good??) Right now I am reading fathermothergod by Lucia Greenhouse and Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien.
                                                               ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Q: The New Year is here — and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

Answer: I am going to try to be more organized and plan further ahead for my blog posts. It sounds simple, but we'll see how it goes.  I also need to make a decision about whether to stay at blogger or switch to wordpress. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Archon

Archon by Sabrina Benulis
Review copy provided by Harper Collins
Description from Goodreads:
Angela Mathers is plagued by visions of angels, supernatural creatures who haunt her thoughts by day and seduce her dreams by night. Newly released from a mental institution where she was locked away for two years, she hopes that her time at the Vatican’s university, the West Wood Academy, will give her a chance at a normal life. Unlike ordinary humans, Angela is a blood head — a freak, a monster, the possible fulfillment of a terrifying prophecy of overwhelming death and destruction. Only in Luz, the Vatican’s wondrous enclave, are blood heads accepted and encouraged to discover what kind of powers or special abilities they might possess.

But within West Wood, a secret coven plots, and demons and angels roam the streets searching for the key to open Raziel’s book — a secret tome from a lost archangel. Some are determined to destroy Raziel, while others, like the beautiful Supernal Israfel, one of the highest of the high, wish to free him. And when the Archon — the human chosen to possess the spirit of a dead angel — rises as foretold, they will control the supernatural universe.

Torn between mortal love and angelic obsession, Angela holds the key to Heaven and Hell — and both will stop at nothing to possess her.


My take:

The world of Archon is a strange and dark version of our own, I think. Some things seem familiar but with a darker, more sinister feel. This is a world where "blood heads" - redheads are viewed with fear and suspicion because of a prophecy. Angela Mathers has had a tough life - apparently due mostly to her being a blood head. Her parents abuse her, she has vivid dreams of one angel over and over, and she can't die - or more accurately, she can't kill herself. She is institutionalized for two years after her latest attempt at suicide which ended with the death of her parents. Despite her abuse, Angela is a pretty strong and sympathetic heroine.

My impression of Luz, where Angela goes to school, was of darkness, decay, rot, mildew, violent winds and storms. Basically, not a cheery place. It seems like the perfect location for such a dark story. There are angels, demons, jinn and other creatures in the story. No one is exactly what they seem or in some cases, some are not even what they think they are. Angela, and consequently, the reader, is never sure who is human, demon, angel, possessed or whatever.  While this can be a bit confusing at times if the reader is not paying attention, I thought it actually worked by helping to illustrate how completely differently angels and demons view the world from how humans themselves see things. The lines between who is good and who is evil are very blurred as well.

I found the depiction of the angels in this book to be very interesting and captivating. They are very different from angels I've encountered in other books. I found this aspect to be quite intriguing. I was left with many questions about where the story is headed, what will happen to Sophia and what Angela will do next. Since this is the first of the series, I am looking forward to finding the answers in the next books. While this did feel like a debut book, I think there is so much potential with this series, that I will be looking for the next book when it is published.

One last note - the cover art for this book is really just so beautiful. I think it is one of the best of the year.




Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fante: A Memoir

Fante: A Memoir by Dan Fante
review copy provided by publisher
Description from Goodreads:
From Dan Fante, son of novelist John Fante, comes an exploration of his family’s legacy—one of boozing, passion, writing, and survival. Long before his father achieved literary recognition for Ask the Dust or The Road to Los Angeles, and before Dan had conceived his novels 86’d, Chump Change, and Mooch, their difficult relationship as father and son evolved in a household where love and literary artistry were often overshadowed by emotional violence. Fante is the story of Dan’s struggle to find his own voice amidst the madness of his family’s dark inheritance, a memoir of his escape from his own vices and his eventual return to Los Angeles to embrace the man—and the calling—that once had driven him away.

My Take:
I have to admit that I think this book was pretty amazing. I don't know that I like Dan Fante very much, but I do like his writing. Fante's story is quite the wild ride and it is probably not for everyone, but the man can write. His tale recounts the stories of his grandfather's, father's and his own life story -- particularly the parts dealing with their heavy drinking, fighting, failed relationships, and his father's and his writing. The book jumps from generation to generation and relays how each generation affected the other. 

According to his memoir, Dan was very much like his father in his raging moods, love of writing and love of booze. As seems to be the case in many families, the father/son or mother/daughter or whatever combination that are most alike also have the most antagonistic relationship. This was true for Dan Fante and his father John for many years.  As he grew up and was able to see his father through adult eyes, Dan was able to appreciate and grow to love his father. This growing relationship between father and son was one of the nice things to read about in the book. Many of the stories told are disturbing and upsetting. Even with the darkness described by the author, I couldn't stop reading this book. I got the impression that he was telling things like they were -- no punches pulled. The book felt genuine and Fante is able to see himself as he really was and then relate that without excuses. How many of us are willing to be that honest with ourselves much less everyone else? Parts of the book are heartwarming, parts are disgusting, parts are just disturbing, but throughout I felt that I needed to find out how this story ended.

 This is a story of a family, a father and son who were/are both writers. The tales of Hollywood screenwriters during John Fante's time were fascinating. Who doesn't love to hear stories about famous authors? Both Fantes' writing lives are detailed and this was also a major factor in my enjoyment of the book. I would recommend this book for anyone who loves literature and the writing process and the conflicts writers face everyday or just loves a good memoir.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Belated Readathon (I am pathetic) Update #2



I'm still reading Anarchy Evolution. There may not be an update for a couple hours after this one. Rehearsals finishing will require that I pick up the girls and take them home and feed them. I will continue to read as much as possible.
And I have never forgotten that engaging in scientific data collection can be a great way of resisting authority. p. 33

Belated Readathon Update #1 (I am pathetic)

It is approx. 4:00 pm and I haven't updated or read much so far. Pathetic. However, I had to get my daughters to their Nutcracker rehearsals and had lunch with the husband, so this proves I have a life - sort of - right?  Most of my reading will be tonight. Night is my favorite time to read anyway. I will probably be switching between books. First off, I'll be reading Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World without God by Greg Graffin and Steve Olson.
Punk music gave us a way to rail against the deadening groupthink of the suburbs while offering an alternative to the political mainstream. p. 25

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall


Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder
review copy provided by publisher
Description from Goodreads:
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight and one in#160;50 East Germans were informing on their fellow citizens, there are thousands of captivating stories. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany. She meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III; she visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall; and she gets drunk with the legendary "Mik Jegger" of the east, once declared by the authorities to his face to "no longer to exist." Each enthralling story depicts what it's like to live in Berlin as the city knits itself back together#151;or fails to. This is a history full of emotion, attitude, and complexity.

My take:
I remember when the Berlin Wall came down. I remember being glued to the news during these events and being excited and happy that things were changing in the world.  But, I was far more familiar with the U.S.S.R. than I was  the GDR. This may have been because I hung out with a few Russian Studies majors in college, and I was generally interested in Russian history. Stasiland was a real eye-opener for me. My own ignorance about East Germany was shocking to me.  For some reason, I had always assumed that East Germany wasn't as communist as Russia somehow. I'm not even sure how that could be, but that was the general impression I had.

Stasiland set me straight regarding my misconceptions about East Germany. Anna Funder does an excellent job of conveying the depressing aspects of life in communist Germany while inserting moments of much needed humor. Most of the humor is of the incredulous kind. For instance, when a young woman who has been continually unsuccessful at finding employment makes the mistake of saying that she is unemployed to the clerk at the Employment Office.
'Miss, you are not unemployed, she barked.
'Of course I'm unemployed,' Julia said. 'Why else would I be here?'
'This is the Employment Office, not the Unemployment Office. You are not unemployed; you are seeking work.'
Julia wasn't daunted. 'I'm seeking work,' she said, 'because I am unemployed.'
The woman started to shout so loudly the people in the queue hunched their shoulders. 'I said, you are not unemployed! You are seeking work!' and then, almost hysterically, 'There is no unemployment in the German Democratic Republic!' p. 104
I really liked that the book helped to put history of Germany into perspective for me. I don't know enough about German history to judge how accurate some of her statements are, but because of many of her references, I was able to roughly line up the German history.

I thought the memoir format worked well here. Funder retells personal stories of several people who lived through the communist years and many of them were personally affected by the Stasi. She also interviewed some former Stasi and that was extremely interesting. 

If you've read my blog at all, you probably have guessed that I really like books that make me want to read even more about a topic. And this book succeeded at this.  I found it fascinating, horrifying, funny, sad, and frustrating. All this means it was a very good read.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Belated Readathon

I will be participating in Belated Readathon hosted by Amanda at Dead White Guys and Britteny from The Souls of Thought. Why am I participating?? Because I love the title of the readathon and I love Dead White Guys and besides, who doesn't love an excuse to read all day long? 

Here are the details from Amanda:
THE DEETS.
-The event starts at 7 a.m. on Saturday, December 3rd, and runs until 7 a.m. Sunday, December 4th. If you can't/don't want to participate for all 24 hours, you absolutely do not have to. I have a feeling I won't even do that, and I'm the one (co) hosting it. So. Also, we're in EST, but you can start at whatever time you want in your time zone.
-Brittney and I will be gathering at my house for the duration of our endurance, eating snacks and doing hourly updates on our respective blogs. You are not required to do hourly updates, or any updates, really. HOWEVER, I do encourage you to do some sort of updating so we know you're alive, and not buried under your TBR pile.
-In short, there aren't really any rules, but if you want an excuse to shove your kids/cat/homework into your closet/car/backpack and just read all day and night, I AM HERE! I AM YOUR EXCUSE PROVIDER!

I hope to read for a major portion of the day, but I will have to take some time out to watch the OU/OSU game --- this is a requirement. I have to watch and support my Sooners.

**Updates will be posted to the blog.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Follow Friday

Since it is the Friday after Thanksgiving, this Follow & Feature Friday is about what we bloggers are thankful for. This meme is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Our featured blogger is Shanan from The Book Addict. Be sure to check out her blog and follow.
My name is Shanan. I am the blogger behind The Book Addict. Some my earliest memories of spending time with my grandma were trips to our local library to get stacks of books. Since then, I have been hooked. I love when a story sweeps me away, takes me to a new place, allows me to explore a new idea. I love to read just about anything–fiction, non-fiction, classics, young adult. Some of my favorites are Pride and Prejudice, the Poison Study series by Maria V. Snyder, and The Heir Chronicles by Cinda Williams Chima.
I have a two-year old daughter who keeps me on my toes, but she has also taught me to enjoy the little things in life, to be silly, to dance to the music I hear, and the importance of always knowing where the nearest park is located. I strive everyday to spark a love of reading for her, too. So every night, I get to fall in love with Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, and A.A. Milne all over again.
 Q: It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are Thankful for – blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?

My answer:
I am so thankful for the whole book blogging community. My tiny little blog has been so much fun. And so many bloggers have inspired and encouraged me while I have been learning and trying to improve my blog. I could not begin to thank everyone, but, I've been especially grateful for Parajunkee's View for all the blogging information provided by the  Blogging 101 feature and the Follow Friday meme.

Some of the books I'm thankful for reading: Dance Lessons, The Legacy, Russian Winter, Stoner and Deadline.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


This year I just happen to be reading America: A Narrative History Brief Edition by George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi. This is for my oldest's history this year, but I am reading it as well. I am really enjoying this book. Recently reading about the Revolution and the founding of our nation has made this Thanksgiving even more meaningful for me. I think we all need reminders of our history to keep it fresh in our minds.  I am thankful for so much.

I wish all my fellow bloggers and readers a very Happy Thanksgiving. And happy reading! The long weekend for me is the perfect opportunity to get in lots of reading time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cutting for Stone



Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
borrowed from a friend
Description from Goodreads:
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.

Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles—and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

My take:

Cutting for Stone was a book choice for my book club. At first I was very impressed with this book. It really is beautifully written. I loved the descriptions of Africa and the depiction of life there. This book was very ambitious. It takes on many issues including love/lust, betrayal, forgiveness, family, sibling relationships, and tragedy. The first two thirds of the book were pretty amazing if you can excuse some pretty big coincidences --which I was completely willing to do because I loved how beautifully written it was. The relationship between the twins, Marion and Shiva was compelling if a little confusing. The two brothers have a complicated relationship and it was rather fascinating to read about the evolution of this relationship. Unfortunately, the final third of the book was so disappointing for me. Actually, the last fourth of the novel just seemed to unravel for me. I felt the coincidence of Marion running into Genet in the US was just too much. And once he ran into her I felt like I had been completely deceived about the character of Marion through the first three fourths of the book. He seemed to devolve into a brutal Neanderthal. At this point, I finished the book just to see how far the story would plunge. I felt let down because the story had started so beautifully and ended in a grungy mess. Maybe I'm missing the point and I should see how fragile life is and all people have their weaknesses, we should forgive and blah, blah, blah. I know many people really loved this book, but I felt disappointed by the ending - especially because of how it started off. So, to recap, loved the first three fourths, should have stopped before the final fourth.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bunheads

Bunheads by Sophie Flack
kindle edition purchased from amazon.com
Description from Goodreads:

As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life.

My take:
I originally wanted to read this book because of the insider's view of being a member of a large ballet company.  I have two daughters who dance and I wanted to see if Bunheads would be appropriate for my older daughter to read. 

I found it very interesting to read about the everyday life of a corp de ballet dancer. Hannah is a likable character - not perfect, not bad, just a normal girl. I enjoyed reading about the experience of competing with the same girls who are your closest friends and some of the few people who understand the physical and emotional toll that dancing for a living takes on a person.

I liked that the book explores many of the issues that are prevalent in the dance world -- weight, eating issues, physical injury, dealing with egotistical directors/instructors and weighing the pros and cons of choosing to give so much of yourself into dance and dance alone. I think it is good for young dancers to confront these issues before they have made life changing decisions. 

I was very amused by the portrayal of the dancers' views about The Nutcracker ballet performances.  My daughters have danced in a major ballet company's Nutcracker for the last several years and we mothers always wonder how on earth the company dancers can stand to dance it every year - and so many performances.  I have a friend who used to be a professional ballet dancer and many of the stories she has told me about her experiences are mirrored in Bunheads.  There were a couple of places that Hannah expresses almost exactly the same sentiments of my friend. So, I had a fun time reading this book.

For parents wondering if it is appropriate for their middle to older children: There is some language and some under age drinking. Other than those pretty minor things, I think it is a fine read for teens/tweens.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Second Life

A Second Life by Dermot Bolger
purchased from Kennys Bookshop
Description from Goodreads:
Following a car crash, for several seconds, Dublin photographer Sean Blake is clinically dead. When he plummets back to life, it is into a world which, for him, has profoundly changed. This is not the first time that he has been given a second life. At the age of six weeks he was taken from his mother, when as a young girl in rural Ireland, she was forced to give up her baby for adoption. Beginning the quest for his own identity, Sean determines to find his natural mother. This leads him on a strange and absorbing journey. Bolger exposes a dark wound from Ireland's history to explore how we must not only reclaim the past but try to redeem it. As Sean closes in on the truth of his birth, A Second Life builds with a resonance that is both through-provoking and utterly moving.

My Take:
Until I read this book, I was not very aware of this particular aspect of Irish history.  I think I was vaguely aware of the fact that there were homes run by nuns for unwed mothers and that the children were taken from the young mothers and given out for adoption.  I am sure this was entirely due to other books I have read.  After reading A Second Life, I plan to do further reading and to see the movie The Magdalene Sisters which attempts to shed light on these "fallen" women and their lives within the "laundries".

A Second Life examines the aftermath of Sean Blake's near death experience and his coming to grips with having been adopted. The other narrative in the novel is that of his birth mother - who never forgot her son and was always hoping he would try to find her.  Being forced to give up her baby had a devastating effect on her life and she never really recovered. This is a heart breaking story, but it was a fascinating read.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Friday

It's time for some Follow Friday Fun!  Follow and Feature Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and AlisonCanRead.

This week's feature blog is SkyInk.net:


Hi! My name is Jinny. I’m 22 years old, live in Canada. I love reading books, of course. I also love video games and, stereotypically, hockey! I’m currently majoring in English (language, not literature, though I have to take some lit courses anyway as part of my degree) and I hope that after I graduate, I will be accepted into a nursing program so that I can become a nurse.

My book blog was born in November 2009. I started my book blog when a couple friends and I decided to challenge ourselves by reading 50 books in a year, so I used the blog to keep track of my books. From there, it became a sort of review site, though recently I am trying to participate in more memes and whatnot :) I read a bit of everything, though I think by and large the genre I gravitate towards the most is YA.


Now for some follow fun:

Q: Today’s Question is something new, an activity. We want to see what you look like! Take a pic with you and your current read! Too shy? Boo! Just post a fun pic you want to share.



Okay, here I am with my kindle ediiton of Bunheads by Sophia Flack.


Naturally, I'm reading more than one book, so. . .

Me with my copy of Stasiland by Anna Funder.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fool's Sanctuary

Fool's Sanctuary by Jennifer Johnston
book purchased from Kennys Bookshop
Summary from back of book:
The Great War is over; but the war in Ireland is only just beginning, as the IRA and the Black and Tans move on to the attack. It all seems very remote to Miranda Martin, during that miraculous Indian summer.

Her father, hoping to forget his dead wife, thinks of nothing but his trees; Miranda thinks of the future, a future which must surely include Cathal, who brings news from Dublin. Everything seems calm and serene.

But then Andrew, her officer brother, comes home, bringing his eccentric, likeable friend Harry, and as the Indian summer fades, the scent is set for tragedy.

My take:
For such a short novel, it is quite powerful. The beginning of Fool's Sanctuary takes place much after the main action of the novel. It is retold in the flashbacks of a seemingly very old and frail Miranda Martin.  The novel begins:
There are no new days ahead of me.
Is this what they meant by limbo?
Waiting time, floating time, time for snatching at the comfortable and uncomfortable
moments of the past.
It is so sad and sort of ethereal. In the flashbacks to that fateful summer that changed all their lives forever, Miranda seemed to be so sheltered from what was going on in the world and in Ireland all round her.  She and her father seemed to inhabit a quiet oasis in the midst of turmoil. Unfortunately, such a state cannot exist indefinitely. 

There is much left unsaid and the reader must gather it as the story unfolds.  Her father seems to be trying to cope with his wife's death by plunging himself into his work. He is a sharp contrast to his son, Andrew, who finds his father's work and his way of life contemptible. Andrew is full of anger and violence -at whom he is angry is somewhat in doubt. He seems to be angry with everyone.

Like most Irish novels, Fool's Sanctuary is quite sad. It is quite effective at shining a light on a time in Irish history that many in America are only vaguely aware if they are aware of it at all.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Upcoming Challenges



Last year I signed up for way too many challenges. With my homeschooling schedule, the kids' music and ballet activites, I was far too busy to read at the level I have in the past. I am hoping to rally these last two months and at least make a decent showing. That said, I will be participating in The Book Vixen's Outdo Yourself Challenge 2012. This one should be a bit easier to attain as it is just trying to read more books than last year.

Details:
  • Runs January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012 (books read prior to 1/1/12 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime. Sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.
  • The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2012 than you did in 2011. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. Nothing is set in stone; you can change levels at any time during the challenge.
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • Grab the reading challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you could track your progress on Goodreads or LibraryThing.


Levels:
Getting my heart rate up – Read 1–5 more books
Out of breath – Read 6–10 more books
Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books
I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books


I think I will start out at the "Out of breath" level  by reading 6 - 10 more books.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In the Forests of the Night











In the Forests of the Night (The Goblin Wars book 2) by Kersten Hamilton
ARC provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Description from Goodreads:
Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have made it out of Mag Mell alive, but the Dark Man's forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Tea’s goblin cousins show up at her school, sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive once awoken. Soon she will belong to Fear Doirich and join them. In the meantime, they are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Tea’s family and friends.
Teagan knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her. But as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich.
And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win.


My take:
I was so excited to receive an advanced reader copy of the latest book in The Goblin Wars series by Kersten Hamilton. Tyger Tyger was such a pleasant surprise for me. My original review can be found here.

In the second installment of this series, In the Forests of the Night, the reader is quickly plunged into the aftermath of Teagan's first trip into Mag Mell. Her father is back home, but he has lost some of his memories. The house is full of family - both human and goblin. Teagan's friend Abby is now living with them as are Roisin and Grendal as well as Thomas. The story is very fast-paced and pulls you along into the world of Mab, Fear Doirich and the Mac Cumhaill.

Not only is the story exciting and tension filled, there is a lot of humor as well. That is one of the many things I like about this series. There is a funny scene about when Roisin finds out that Thomas, who is a shape-shifter, is not the sexy animal he claimed, but a bird instead. It's just not the same as, say, a wolf.

As a literature major, I used to sit in pubs with other students and discuss literature - yes, really. And one of our favorite topics was the Shakespeare issue. Who was Shakespeare, exactly? This was never taken too seriously, but it was so much fun!  And to my joy, this topic is discussed in the book --- with some interesting information provided by Thomas, the Lhiannon-sidhe - Celtic muse. Another thing I loved was that while just reading for fun, I was inspired to research several topics of mythology, read authors I had never actually read but should have, re-read some authors, learn about Irish Travellers and re-read Tyger Tyger to make sure I had everything all straight in my head.

After I read In the Forests of the Night, I gave my daughter Tyger Tyger to read and after she finished it, she confiscated my copy of In the Forests of the Night. She loved them both and was only upset that she would have to wait for the next book.

This is one series that I consistently and often recommend to my friends and other homeschoolers who have tweens/teens. Teagan is a smart girl and she makes her own decisions. I love the depth of mythology and literature within the books and I know that my own kids will be inspired to read more and research for more information after reading them. I hope that other readers will be inspired to do so as well.




Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In My Mailbox

Welcome to my In My Mailbox this week. This is a lovely meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received my latest book parcel from Kennys Bookshop in Galway, Ireland over the weekend and I wanted to share. All books were purchased by me but chosen by Des Kenny.


Fool's Sanctuary by Jennifer Johnston
from the back cover:
The Great War is over; but the war in Ireland is only just beginning, as the IRA and the Black and Tans move on to the attack. It all seems very remote to Miranda Martin, during that miraculous Indian summer. Her father, hoping to forget his dead wife, thinks of nothing but his trees; Miranda thinks of the future, a future which must surely include Cathal, who brings news from Dublin. Everything seems calm and serene.

But then Andrew, her officer brother, comes home bringing his eccentric, likeable friend Harry, and as the Indian summer fades, the scene is set for tragedy.



Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan
summary from Goodreads:
Claire Keegan’s brilliant debut collection, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year, and earned her resounding accolades on both sides of the Atlantic. Now she has delivered her next, much-anticipated book, Walk the Blue Fields, an unforgettable array of quietly wrenching stories about despair and desire in the timeless world of modern-day Ireland. In the never-before-published story “The Long and Painful Death,” a writer awarded a stay to work in Heinrich Boll’s old cottage has her peace interrupted by an unwelcome intruder, whose ulterior motives only emerge as the night progresses. In the title story, a priest waits at the altar to perform a marriage and, during the ceremony and the festivities that follow, battles his memories of a love affair with the bride that led him to question all to which he has dedicated his life; later that night, he finds an unlikely answer in the magical healing powers of a seer.
A masterful portrait of a country wrestling with its past and of individuals eking out their futures, Walk the Blue Fields is a breathtaking collection from one of Ireland’s greatest talents, and a resounding articulation of all the yearnings of the human heart


Lights in the Distance by Susan Millar DuMars
A collection of short stories.

The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman by Flann O'Brien
from Goodreads:
"Along with Joyce and Beckett, [Flann O'Brien] constitutes our trinity of great Irish writers. And who is funnier?"
- Edna O'Brien

The cream of Flann O'Brien's comic tour-de-force, the Keats and Chapman stories began in O'Brien's column in the Irish Times. He called them "studies in literary pathology" -- monstrously tall tales that explore the very limits of the shaggy dog story. As one critic wrote, they will accumulate the fantasy to the point of sadism, and then cash home with the flat, desolating pun.

"The Brother" is another of O'Brien's funniest creations. He is the archetypal Dublin man -- an authority on every one of mankind's ills, from the common cold to the court case. Forget the experts, The Brother knows best.

"The best comic writer I can think of."
- S. J. Perelman

Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan
summary from Goodreads:
Living alone with his dog in the remote cabin in the woods, Julius Winsome is not unlike the barren winter lands that he inhabits: remote, vacant, inscrutable. But when his dog Hobbes is killed by hunters, their carelessness—or is it cruelty?—sets Julius's precarious mindset on end.
He is at once more alone than he has ever been; he was at first with his father, until he died; then with Claire, until she disappeared with another man into a more normal life in town; and then with Hobbes, who eased the sorrow of Claire's departure. Now Hobbes is gone.
Julius is left with what his father left behind: the cabin that he was raised in; a lifetime of books, lining every wall of his home, which have been Julius's lifelong friends and confidantes; and his great-grandfather's rifle from World War I, which Julius had been trained to shoot with uncanny skill and with the utmost reluctance. But with the death of his dog, Julius's reluctance has reached its end. More and more, simply and furtively, it is revenge that is creeping into his mind.
Fresh snow is on the ground as the hunters lumber into his sights. They're well within the old gun's range. They pause, and they're locked into the crosshairs. Julius's finger traces the trigger. Will he pull it? And what will that accomplish? What if he simply has nothing left to lose?

Old Swords and Other Stories by Desmond Hogan
description from Goodreads:
These eleven stories by Desmond Hogan, his first publication since Larks' Eggs: New and Selected Stories (2005), collect newly minted shards of experience focused on the lives of the dreamers and marginalized who populate his imagined worlds. They range in time and place from France, Germany and Italy in the nineteenth century to Ireland of the 1950s and the present day. Their concerns are fragility and identity expressed through the outer semblances of dress and deportment, and inner realities of involuntary memory and the retrieval of shared pasts. Close observation of nature combines with psychological unveilings, much of it in the form of erotic reverie. This bricolage of melded history and a fragmented modernism renders truth-to-experience like no other contemporary voice.

This author's linguistic resourcefulness is unique to Irish letters, and each new gathering enlarges upon his reputation as one of Ireland's most fearless and invigorating writers, who, in the words of film-maker Neil Jordan, "remakes the world every time he puts pen to paper'"


The River Field by John MacKenna
from the back cover:
This magnificent collection of short stories by one of Ireland's finest writers is set over the centuries and bound by one connecting factor - a field near the author's beloved Castledermot, Co. Kildare. Each story showcases MacKenna's incredible gift of capturing a moment, an emotion, a time in sensuous yet stark language.

Without My Cloak by Kate O'Brien
description from Goodreads:
When Anthony Considine creeps into Mellick town with a stolen horse in 1789, it sets the destiny of his family for decades to come. By the 1850s, through thrift and hard work, his son Honest John has made the Considines a leading Mellick family. In turn, his son Anthony builds a fine house in the country for his wife and children—most especially for his adored son Dennis. Little does he know that when Dennis grows up he will threaten the toil of generations with his love for a peasant girl. A stirring family saga of divided loyalties and individual freedom; of matches made and lost; and of the constraints of religion and family pride

A Donegal Trilogy by Little John Nee
from back cover:
This book contains three plays by Little John Nee: the Derry Boat, Rural Electric and The Mental. John is a writer, performer, songwriter and storyteller. Raised in Glasgow until the age of 12, he then returned with his family to his parents' native Donegal. John's work is rooted in the stories of the ordinary people of Ireland, and in particular his home county of Donegal, that most Scottish of Irish counties. His work though is not ordinary. It is lyrical, moving and precise: each word, each song, each note each gesture plays its part in crafting his stories. Audiences everywhere identify with those stories for their simplicity and humanity in telling the experience of the ordinary man.

A Second Life by Dermot Bolger
description from Goodreads:
Following a car crash, for several seconds, Dublin photographer Sean Blake is clinically dead. When he plummets back to life, it is into a world which, for him, has profoundly changed. This is not the first time that he has been given a second life. At the age of six weeks he was taken from his mother, when as a young girl in rural Ireland, she was forced to give up her baby for adoption. Beginning the quest for his own identity, Sean determines to find his natural mother. This leads him on a strange and absorbing journey. Bolger exposes a dark wound from Ireland's history to explore how we must not only reclaim the past but try to redeem it. As Sean closes in on the truth of his birth, A Second Life builds with a resonance that is both through-provoking and utterly moving.

Crannog 25 - a collection of fiction and poetry












Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Eighth Scroll


The Eighth Scroll by Laurence B. Brown
kindle edition purchased from Amazon.com
Description from Goodreads
Stirring the flames of age-old controversies, The Eighth Scroll by Laurence B. Brown draws on the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to create an unbelievably dynamic and powerful story. Set in a world that teeters between orthodoxy and heresy, this thriller is packed with intrigue and adventure. When a Roman Catholic scholar involved in the Dead Sea Scrolls Project hides one of the scrolls because of the heretical message it contains, no one is the wiser until decades later, when a prominent archaeologist discovers reference to the scroll in an archaeological dig. This discovery spurs the world religions into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, in which all who seek the hidden scroll are mysteriously silenced, leaving the salvation of humankind to a father and son, who must either find the hidden scroll . . . or die trying.

My Take:
I've received a few emails from this author wanting me to read and review the book as well as participate in some blog events.  I passed on the extra stuff, but I did read the book because the descriptions intrigued me and it sounded interesting.  I don't know if the book lives up to some of the blurbs on the cover and amazon review pages, but it was definitely a fun read.  I read this book in just about one day without having to put much effort into it.  It is very fast paced and the events are exciting and the story did hold my interest. 

I've seen several reviews comparing The Eighth Scroll to works by Dan Brown - and I think the comparisons are fair.  Conspiracy. History. Murder. Intrigue. Controversial topics. Although, I must say that there were not any ideas that I hadn't encountered in other places. Some people may find some of the ideas in the book regarding the Bible and Christianity controversial, but I had no issues with any of it. 

If you like history, archeology, and thrillers, you may enjoy this book.  I found it an easy, enjoyable read. However, if you are easily offended by differing religious views, you may want to avoid this book.



Sunday, October 9, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. It is where we share the books that we have managed to acquire this week.  This week I was lucky enough to receive the following books:




Stasiland by Anna Funder
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their fellow citizens, there are thousands of captivating stories. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany. She meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III; she visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall; and she gets drunk with the legendary "Mik Jegger" of the east, once declared by the authorities to his face to "no longer to exist." Each enthralling story depicts what it's like to live in Berlin as the city knits itself back together—or fails to. This is a history full of emotion, attitude, and complexity.

Fante: A Memoir by Dan Fante
As father and son John and Dan Fante shared a relationship characterized by competition, resentment, rage and silence. As men, both were driven to succeed by damaged by uncontrollable drinking. As writers, both were gifted with inextinguishable passion. In Fante, Dan Fante traces his family’s history from Los Angeles, where John struggles to gain literary recognition and turns instead to the steady paycheck of Hollywood screenwriting, to New York, where Dan finds an escape from his troubled childhood in a life of words and vices.
John was a writer whose literary contributions were not recognized until the end of his life. Dan was an alcoholic saved by writing, who at the age of 45 picked up his father’s old typewriter in order to ease the madness in his mind. Fante is the story of the evolution of a relationship between father and son who eventually find their way back to loving each other. In straightforward unapologetic prose, Dan Fante lays bare his family’s story from his point of view, with the rage and passion of a writer, which he feels was his true inheritance and his father’s greatest gift.

Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World without God by Greg Graffin & Steve Olson
A provocative look at the collision between religion and science-by the founding member of the cult punk band Bad Religion who is also a professor.

“I’ve always had a problem with authority.” —Greg Graffin

The world knows Greg Graffin as the lead singer of the cult punk band Bad Religion which he founded in the 80s— what they may not know is he also also a Ph.D. and a Professor of Life Sciences at UCLA who is immersed in the debate on religion. In Anarchy Evolution, Graffin puts forth his bold ideas about “naturalism” and the connection between science religion and art. In this provocative and timely book, Graffin tackles head on the “intellectual dishonestly” of creationism; he also shares compelling stories about his childhood and how science saved him when he ran into trouble as a teenager. Anarchy Evolution will appeal to the fans of Bad Religion (which as sold over 2.8 million albums) as well as readers of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The book coincides with a major national Bad Religion reunion tour that will start in October of 2010


Friday, October 7, 2011

Follow Friday




Hello! And happy Friday to all.  It is time for another Follow and Feature Friday. This super fun meme is hosted by Parajunkee.com and Alisoncanread.com.  This week's feature blogs are


 Jagged Edge Reviews







Go check out their blogs and follow along.



Q. If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

A. Harry Potter is going to be a popular choice, I think. I think I'd like to swap places with Jenny instead of Hermione though because I just love the Weaseley family. I also love Jane Austen's novels and I love the lifestyle - to a point. I don't think it would be ideal in reality though -- I have a hard time holding my tongue and I would be in so much trouble all the time.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Follow Friday



Good Friday morning! It is time once again for Follow & Feature Friday hosted by Parajunkee.com and alisoncanread.com. Be sure to check out their blogs! This week's feature blog is Librarian Mouse.




I'm a Spanish girl living in Switzerland that loves to read almost any kind of book. I write down the ideas and thoughts I have and I care for people. Need a friend? Need someone to talk to? Try with me :D

I like having people around, reading and having fun. I also like to travel a lot and my biggest dream is to go back to Brasil and live there again. It's such a wonderful country!



The question for this week:
It's that pesky magic book fairy again! She has another wish: What imaginary book world would you like to make a reality?

My answer:
I think I'd have to go with the world of Harry Potter -- even as an adult, I want to go to school at Hogwarts!  After that, I'd have to pick a steampunk world or maybe cyberpunk.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Legacy











The Legacy by Katherine Webb
review copy provided by Harper Collins
Description from Goodreads:
A fresh and exciting new voice in contemporary fiction, Katherine Webb debuts with a haunting novel about a secret family history. Already a sensation in the United Kingdom, Webb’s The Legacy is a treat for every fan of upmarket women’s fiction and literary suspense in the vein of bestselling authors Kate Morton, Sarah Waters, and Diane Setterfield. Taut, affecting, and surprising—a story that ranges from present-day England back to the American West in the early twentieth century—The Legacy embroils two sisters in an investigation into the strange, never solved disappearance of their cousin, a dark mystery that opened deep family wounds that never healed.

My Take:
To be quite honest, this book had me in it's grip from the very first page -- and I'm not even exaggerating. After finishing the Prologue, I was completely hooked.  I had to find out what was going on. The Prologue takes plce in 1905 and then the first chapter take place in modern times. Two sisters are dealing with the death of their grandmother, the handling of the estate and dealing with their own past at their grandmother's home.  There are more than a few dark secrets in the past - some from their own past and some from their great grandmother's past that haunt this family. 

Some things I loved about the book:
I really enjoyed the family history aspect to the story. The younger sister, Erica, becomes fascinated with the distant past as she tries to remember or solve the mystery of what happened to her own cousin one summer during her childhood. Being the youngest of the cousins, she doesn't remember (or won't let herself remember) the events of that day and no one who does remember will tell her. The going through old family trunks, letters, photos, etc. is just the perfect vehicle for finding out family secrets and I really enjoyed the slow reveal of the sad family story.  It was also fun that the reader is priy to information that Erica is not. I thought it demonstrated just how much of our family stories can be guesswork. I work on our family geneaology and this is an important subject for me.

Part of the great grandmother, Caroline's, story takes place in Woodward, Ok in the very early 1900's. I am originally from Oklahoma and my husband's family is from Woodward so it was fun to read about turn of the century Woodward.  The descriptions of the heat were so uncannily accurate, it was amazing.
She did not get used to the heat, which increased with each passing day. By noon the sun was a flat, white disc that seemed to press like a giant hand on her head whenever she stepped outside, pushing her down, making her heavy and half-blind. When the wind blew it seemed as hot as the blast from an oven. p. 151
I loved the way the grandmother's hatred of the Travellers family that lived on the end of the property was gradually explained. The sisters grew up knowing that their grandmother detested this family, but they were never really sure exactly why. Despite strict instruction not to, they became fast friends with Dinny, the son of the family.  The various and changing relationships between the two families  members are important to the story and is wonderful to read.  And again, we see the damage that secrets and lack of explanation can cause in a child's perception of people and cause such unhappiness.

Note: I did figure out what happened to the cousin before the big reveal in the book, but it absolutely did not deter from my enjoyment of the story as a whole.

I don't want to give away any big plot points because this book should definitely be read and enjoyed on its own. The mysteries should be savored and relished for the lush gothic story that it is. I have been recommending this book to all my friends.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Follow Friday


It's the last Friady in August and our new school year starts next week. It's time for Parajunkee's Follow and Feature Friday.  This week's feature blog is Caught in the Pages.

Q. In books like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish would come out of the closet, for real?

A. Oh boy. At first I thought "Vampires" - but then I actually thought about it and decided that I like them much better in my books than in my real world. Then I thought "fairies" -- but it would have to be the nice, helpful kinds of fairy -- like brownies maybe --- NOT the spiteful, tricksy kind.  Do I get to pick and choose like that? I hope so.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Short Break for some R & R

Sorry for my absence lately. I am taking a short break from some of my responsibilities so that I can make the new school year plans and get myself fired up for all the craziness that comes with a new homeschool year.

Book reviews will resume soon. I just read two really great books and can't wait to share them with you all!

Hints:



Friday, August 5, 2011

Follow Friday


It's Friday again! Time for Follow and Feature Friday hosted by Parajunkee's View. This week's featured blogger is Bonnie @ Hands and Home. Be sure to check out Bonnie's blog and follow along. The question for this week is a good one.


Q. Talk about the book that most changed or influenced your life (was it a book that turned you from an average to avid reader, did it help you deal with a particularly difficult situation, does it bring you comfort every time you read it?).

My answer: This is not an easy one even though it sounds like it should be. I was always an avid reader - from my earliest memories.  I think the Lord of the Rings made such  huge impression on me. I read the trilogy at least once a year for many years. It also introduced me to a new genre of fiction. This changed my reading habits for years.  Dune also made an impression and pushed me towards science fiction from fantasy. Charles Dickens and Jane Austen also influenced my reading.  I read very widely and can find something I love in almost every genre.  But Dickens was the author that really made me want to study literature in college. I remember reading Nicholas Nickleby so many times that the book just fell apart.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (11)



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

My choice this week is:




Title: 1Q84
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Knopf
Expected publication date: October 25, 2011

The long-awaited magnum opus from Haruki Murakami, in which this revered and best-selling author gives us a hypnotically addictive, mind-bending ode to George Orwell's 1984.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Clash of Kings



















A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R.R. Martin
Kindle edition purchased from Amazon.com
Description from Goodreads:

George R.R. Martin writes sword-and-sorcery which concentrates on the swords. A Clash of Kings is the second volume of A Song of Ice and Fire, the sequence which began with A Game of Thrones and will take another four volumes to complete. The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud; beyond their Northern borders, the men of the Night Watch fight the coming of a great cold and the walking corpses that travel with it; on the other side of the ocean, the last of the Kingdom's deposed ruling house mourns her horseclan husband and rears the dragonets she hatched from his funeral pyre. This is character-driven fantasy—we see most events through the eyes of the sons and daughters of the Stark family, the once and future Kings of the North, whose father's judicial murder started the war. Martin avoids the cosy cheeriness of many epic fantasies in favour of a sense of the squalor and grandeur of high medieval life; there is passion here, and misery and charm.Roz Kaveney

My take:
While I really enjoyed the first  book in this series, I thought the story really took off in this, the second book of the series. We finally get to actually meet some of the important characters only referenced in the first book.  Stannis Baratheon and his family are introduced and we find out what he is really like. Turns out, what people said about him in the first book is pretty much true.  We are also introduced to the red priestess Melisandre, who plays a rather big part in events and seems rather powerful for a religious woman. Theon Greyjoy's family is also introduced and we find out that Theon really is as big of a jerk as he seemed. So many new characters are introduced, that it would be ridiculous to try to recap them all. But since these families are so important, I thought I'd mention them. I thought that Brienne of Tarth was a particularly sympathetic new character and suspect (hope) that she will continue to play an important role in the other books.

Once again, my favorite characters Tyrion, Arya, and Jon Snow. I loved how despite everything Cersei did to thwart him, Tyrion still did his best to fulfill his duty as acting Hand of the King. He was awesome. I liked the character development and he has become the only sympathetic Lannister.  Arya continues to grow up and remain the strong, tough, stubborn daughter of Ned Stark.  Jon Snow continues to be a favorite character as well. I find it interesting and wonderful that the most interesting, sympathetic, empathetic, brave, and intelligent characters in the series are underdogs, minimalized by others in society and sometimes their own families. Jon Snow, the bastard, a title he will live with his whole life, is discounted by much of society and especially by Catelyn Stark. Tyrion Lannister, "The Imp", is looked at in revulsion, disgust, amusement - many different reactions - by everyone, including or especially his own father. Despite how people see him, he continues to try to do what is right according to his own conscience and tries to keep his sister from killing him in the process. Arya, a young girl, is overlooked, bullied, discounted, but she continues to fight and to act as she thinks is best. Despite difficult situations, difficult decisions, and extremely hard conditions, she is a force to be reckoned with.

I am reading the third book in the series, A Storm of Swords, right now. I am very happy with the way each book takes up right where the last one left off.  Again, this is not a cheery, happy, sparkly fantasy world. It is very dirty, violent, and angry. It seems very real in a medieval setting.  I would highly recommend the book for mature readers.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (10)



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


My choice this week is Reamde
Author:  Neal Stephenson
Publication date: September 20, 2011

From publisher Harper Collins:
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Neal Stephenson is continually rocking the literary world with his brazen and brilliant fictional creations—whether he’s reimagining the past (The Baroque Cycle), inventing the future (Snow Crash), or both (Cryptonomicon). With Reamde, this visionary author whose mind-stretching fiction has been enthusiastically compared to the work of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace—not to mention William Gibson and Michael Crichton—once again blazes new ground with a high-stakes thriller that will enthrall his loyal audience, science and science fiction, and espionage fiction fans equally. The breathtaking tale of a wealthy tech entrepreneur caught in the very real crossfire of his own online fantasy war game, Reamde is a new high—and a new world—for the remarkable Neal Stephenson.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Follow Friday



It's Friday - my favorite day of the week! Naturally, that means it's time for another Follow Friday hosted by Parajunkee's View. To make Follow Friday more interesting, every week there is a Featured Blog. This week's blogger is Lisa at Read. Breathe. Relax.

The question this week:

 Let's step away from besties...What is the worst book that you've ever read and actually finished?

My answer:  Wow, that is a tough one! I thought my answer would be The Shack by William P. Young, but then I remembered that I couldn't finish it. (I know that lots of people really liked it, but I was supposed to read it for a book club but just couldn't make it through the book.) If I really don't like a book, I just stop reading.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (9)




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

My choice this week is
Prized (The Birthmarked Trilogy)
Author:  Caragh M. O'Brien
Publication date: November 8, 2011
Prized (The Birthmarked Trilogy)

From Goodreads:
Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (8)


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

My choice this week is
In the Forests of Night:The Goblin Wars, Book 2
Author:  Kersten Hamilton.
Publication date: November 22, 2011

In the Forests of the Night: The Goblin Wars, Book Two





From Goodreads:
Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have made it out of Mag Mell alive, but the Dark Man's forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Tea’s goblin cousins show up at her school, sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive once awoken. Soon she will belong to Fear Doirich and join them. In the meantime, they are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Tea’s family and friends.
Teagan knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her. But as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich.
And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Red Scarf

The Red Scarf
The Red Scarf by Kate Furnivall
borrowed from the library
Description from Goodreads:
Davinsky Labor Camp, Siberia, 1933: Only two things in this wretched place keep Sofia from giving up hope: the prospect of freedom, and the stories told by her friend and fellow prisoner Anna, of a charmed childhood in Petrograd, and her fervent girlhood love for a passionate revolutionary named Vasily.

After a perilous escape, Sofia endures months of desolation and hardship. But, clinging to a promise she made to Anna, she subsists on the belief that someday she will track down Vasily. In a remote village, she’s nursed back to health by a Gypsy family, and there she finds more than refuge—she also finds Mikhail Pashin, who, her heart tells her, is Vasily in disguise. He’s everything she has ever wanted—but he belongs to Anna.

After coming this far, Sofia is tantalizingly close to freedom, family—even a future. All that stands in her way is the secret past that could endanger everything she has come to hold dear

My take:
I was looking forward to reading this book for my book club. It was highly recommended by one of our members. I did enjoy the book and finished it in one day. I thought the premise held a lot of promise and for the most part, it delivered.

The story began without any explanation as to why Sofia and Anna were in the labor camp. The stories explaining their lives and the reasons for the imprisonment are told gradually throughout the book. The character of Sofia is developed quite well and I felt I understood her. I didn't feel that Anna was quite as well developed despite the fact that it was her stories that helped Sofia survive the camp. 

After Sophia has escaped the camp and has begun her trek in search of Vasily, Sophia seems to grow as a person and the reader is able to learn so much more about her and later, about Mikhail. The lives of  the villagers are interesting and rather complex for such a small place.  The villagers are somewhat mysterious and I enjoyed this section of the book very much. The gypsy family was particularly fun to read about. I did clue into the mistaken identity fairly early, so I was expecting that revelation. 

The thing I disliked about the story was that I really didn't feel that Anna and Vasily were believable as a couple after all those years apart. Unlike Sophia and Mikhail, they were not allowed the time for their relationship to develop in the present. It was based solely on their past relationship in childhood and years of remembering and guilt about their actions.  It just didn't ring true or believable for me.

Most of the book was quite good, but the way it ended for Anna and Vasily just left me flat.  I did like Sofia and Mikhail's story from start to finish.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Follow Friday


It's Friday! It's the start of the weekend and time for Follow & Feature Friday, hosted by Parajunkee's View.  This week's feature blogger is Mickey @ I'm a Book Shark.

The question for this week:

Q. In light of the Summer Solstice. Also known as Midsummer...let's talk about fairies. What is your favorite fairy tale or story that revolves around the fae?

A. Do I have to pick just one? Because I don't think I can.  I have to choose Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton and the Iron Fae series by Julie Kagawa as my favorite books that revolve around the fae.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What I'm Reading This Week


This week I am reading Great Tales from English History by Robert Lacey, The Vindications: The Rights of Men and The Rights of Women by Mary Wollenstonecraft.    As well as

         
The Beekeeper's Lament by Hannah Nordaus and A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin. How is that for variety? Realistically, I won't finish all four books this week, but I plan to finish The Beekeepter's Lament and hopefully, A Clash of Kings. The other two will take more time and effort to finish reading.