Thursday, December 24, 2009

Catching Fire Did It Again

I was planning on rereading Catching Fire sometime in 2010 and then last week I broke down and read it.

It wasn't my fault. I was trying to finalize the books that I was giving for Christmas and I was stuck on one person. I really wanted to give her Hunger Games but I was honestly worried that she would judge it because it is YA. I asked my husband to take 20 minutes and read as much of the book as he could and then give me his opinion. I even set a timer. At the end of the 20 minutes he told me he had good news and bad news.

"The bad news is the book is not going back on the shelf."

Well, when he finished Hunger Games and went on to Catching Fire I was actually a little jealous that he was reading it and I wasn't, so I snuck in while he wasn't looking and reread it before he could finish. I wanted to have all the events fresh on my mind when he finished. Oh how I love that book. My first review of it is HERE.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

Well I am officially a slacker. I have been back home in California for 6 days and this is my first time getting on a computer since I left the east coast.

The problem is that my mom lives on a mountain. Seriously! 40 acres in the middle of nowhere with no cell service or internet. It is amazingly beautiful and I love the peace and quiet (something I am actually missing with the holiday insanity) but I have to take it in doses because I need my technology. My husband is having a really hard time with the lack of his internet, I am more used to it than him.

We did manage to make our way down the mountain into Sacramento to see his family and go to a Christmas party with his old friends. They had an ugly sweater contest and the moment I heard about that I started crocheting. Now I am not very good, I can do squares, so I made 4 squares and stitched them together to make mine. Then of course I had to add my initial Mrs. Weasley style. My mother-in-law found an old sweater from her husband and fancied it up for my husband, Mike and I have to share the results...

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. I will be checking in if I can but I most likely won't be back online until I am home on January 2.

Have crazy...take lots of pictures.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Goldengrove - Francine Prose

Goldengrove: A Novel
By Francine Prose

After the death of her older sister, Nico becomes a little too close with her sister’s boyfriend. This is the story of the summer Nico’s sister died and how Nico, her parents, and her sister’s boyfriend find a way to get through it.

Although I had read reviews for this book, and well as the description, I was still surprised by the book. It was exactly the story that was described, simply about a girl who lost her sister and the grieving process she goes through, but I still expected to find more to the story. How could an entire book be so simple if it was going to be a “page-turner?” Well I was surprised when it was exactly that. The simplicity of the story was what enhanced the complex emotions.

As depressed as Nico and her family are throughout the book, every time I stopped reading for a moment I found I was left with a strange sense of hope instead of feeling depressed like I would have expected.

Overall I adored this book and was stunned how fast of a read it was. It was simply a fascinating look at what we do after we lose someone we love.

* I read this book before I started my blog but wrote the review right after finishing it. I wanted to get the review up before the end of the year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fire - Kristin Cashore

by Kristin Cashore

Wow! I have to admit that when I started Fire I was a bit disappointed that it was not a sequel to Graceling. Now I am just disappointed that it is over. I adored this book!

It took me a few chapters to warm up to the new characters, especially since I did not realize when I bought the book that it was not going to be continuing with Katsa. Like I said, I was disappointed that I had to spend time becoming familiar with this new setting but that is because I am so enthralled with Cashore’s writing I wanted to jump right in where I had left off with Graceling.

Now that it is over I feel like I should be sad to have finished the story so quickly but the story closed so beautifully that I don’t feel any sort of loss. I was so engulfed in the story that I didn’t even realize I was reading the epilogue until I paused in the second paragraph and noticed the heading. I wasn’t sad because the characters were leaving me but content as if I was releasing them to continue their lives. How does Cashore do that?

There are so many things I loved about this book but most of all I love how strong and independent Cashore’s female characters are. Fire is someone I want to be friends with, someone I want to learn from. I want her confident independence and I think it is so important for young girls to read about women (even fictional) who have that kind of strength and independence, women who view that strength as a vital quality.

I cannot say enough about this book and how much I love Kristin Cashore’s writing. I can’t wait for the next one.

* I read this book before I started my blog but wrote the review right after finishing it. I wanted to get the review up before the end of the year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lord of the Rings Readalong

Okay, I read The Hobbit in high school and really enjoyed it but I have to admit I was never able to finish The Fellowship of the Ring. I have always wanted to try to read them again but it just hasn't happened. When I came across this readalong, I knew it was just what I had been waiting for.

Thank you Eva, Maree, Teresa, and The Literary Omnivore who will each be taking a month to host a book, starting in January with The Hobbit at A Striped Armchair.

Check out Shelf Love to sign-up

Teaser Tuesdays

Thank you MizB for hosting Teaser Tuesday.

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share 2 teaser sentences from that page
-Make sure you don't include any spoilers
-Share the title and author so envious readers can add it to their TBR pile

Check out Should Be Reading to read more Teaser Tuesdays.

"That which is scarred and pitted in nature can mean sustenance and life, whereas a smooth and pretty skin can mean destruction and death. People, too, are not often what they seem, even those whom you love."
-Page 132
The Heretics Daughter
by Kathleen Kent

I love this quote. It is a mother explaining to her daughter how to tell the difference between poisonous and edible mushrooms.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer was first brought to my attention when it came to film. I watched the movie and was shocked when Chris died at the end (this is not a spoiler, you find this out in the first chapter of the book) because I knew very little history about the story. I was so enthralled I went out and bought the book. Although it did take me a while to actually open the book, once I did I was halfway finished before I took a breath.

Krakauer’s writing is both thoughtful and insightful. I was impressed by the amount of research he was able to sift through and the stories he heard from the people who met Chris. I was also surprised that although it had been over a decade since he initially published the article in “Outsider,” he has obviously not stopped working or thinking about Chris. I was surprised by how much I could relate to Chris as well as how different we were. He did something incredible, and although a few oversights stopped him from walking out of Alaska alive, I don’t think he failed. He lived for 2 years exactly how he wanted to after turning away from everything he had known. He went to Alaska and lived off the land until he was ready to leave. Although he did not leave, he was ready to walk out as what seemed to be a changed man and he never seemed to regret going into the bush.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a great story and left me thinking about it for days after I had finished the last page.

* I finished this book ….. before I started my blog but I wanted to get the review up before the end of the year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge

Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge
is hosted at Ready When You Are, C.B.

I love movies, I LOVE books...this challenge is perfect for me.

Select a challenge level:
  • Matinee: one book/movie
  • Double Feature: two books/movies
  • Saturday Movie Marathon: four books/movies
  • Film Festival: eight books/movies
  • Festival Jury Member: ten books/movies
I'm in for 10!!

My list so far:

1. Witches
2. Atonement
3. Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring
4. The Road
5. The Hours
6. Island of the Blue Dolphins

Chunkster Challenge - 2010

The Chunkster Challenge is going run February 1, 2010 - January 31, 2011

Check out the Chunkster Challenge website for all the rules.

I am in for level 3:

Mor-book-ly Obese - This is for the truly out of control chunkster. For this level of challenge you must commit to 6 or more chunksters OR three tomes of 750 pages or more. You know you want to.....go on and give in to your cravings.

I am going to read 3 books over 750 pages each, and I think I even have my list set already.

1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
2. Under the Dome by Stephen King
3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, December 12, 2009

TwentyTen Reading Challenge

The TwentyTen reading Challenge is hosted at Bart's Bookshelf and I can't seem to get away from it. It keeps popping up everywhere. I finally just had to sign up. I mean really, this is the perfect challenge...lots of variety, a year to complete it, and only 20 books!

I am so excited.


* Read 2 books from each category, making a requirement of 20 books total.
* The categories are intended to be loose guidelines only, if you decide it fits, then it fits. (Apart from those marked **)
* Categories marked with ** have tighter rules, and these must be followed.
* Each book can only qualify for one category.
* Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
* Books read from 01/01/2010 to 31/12/2010 are eligible.

So, on with the categories

1. Young Adult
Any book classified as young adult or featuring a teenage protagonist counts for this category.

2. T.B.R. **
Intended to help reduce the old T.B.R. pile. Books for this category must be already residents of your bookshelves as of 1/11/09.

3. Shiny & New
Bought a book NEW during 2010 from a bookstore, online, or a supermarket? Then it counts for this category. Second-hand books do not count for this one, but, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts or won in a giveaway also count!

4. Bad Blogger’s ***
Books in this category, should be ones you’ve picked up purely on the recommendation of another blogger count for this category (any reviews you post should also link to the post that convinced you give the book ago).
*** Bad Bloggers: Is hosted by Chris of Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

5. Charity
Support your local charity shops with this category, by picking up books from one of their shops. Again, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts also count, as long as they were bought from a charity shop.

6. New in 2010
This category is for those books newly published in 2010 (whether it be the first time it is has been released, or you had to wait for it to be published in your country, it counts for this one!)

7. Older Than You
Read two books that were published before you were born, whether that be the day before or 100 years prior!

8. Win! Win!
Have a couple of books you need to read for another challenge? Then this is the category to use, as long that is, you don’t break the rules of the other challenge by doing so! ;)

9. Who Are You Again?
This one isn’t just for authors you’ve never read before, this is for those authors you have never even heard of before!

10. Up to You! --I am going with graphic novels on this one. They are totally new to me and I decided it was about time I checked one (or two) out.
The requirements for this category are up to you! Want to challenge yourself to read some graphic novels? A genre outside your comfort zone? Something completely wild and wacky? Then this is the category to you. The only requirement is that you state it in your sign-up post.

I'm going to keep track of my progress under the Challenges post in my sidebar.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Day the Falls Stood Still - Cathy Marie Buchanan

Let me just say WOW!
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan was amazing. For hours after finishing the book I felt like I was still holding back tears but they refused to fall because the story was so beautifully written that the sadness was wrapped in hope and the sense that life moves on.

I am in love with Tom Cole. He is an amazing father, extremely handy, uniquely gifted, and insanely in love with his wife. The chemistry between Tom and Bess is vibrant and extremely well written. Tom overcomes so much and it is his relationship with Bess that makes her such an interesting character.

The first part of the story focused on Bess and her family—especially her sister. It then transitioned to Bess and Tom…but not without breaking my heart first.

Bess is an incredibly strong character and Tom lights up the pages with his love for her and everything that he goes through. The characters were just so unbelievably real that I continued to think about them days after I finished the book.

This was a book that I had thought about buying for a while after reading a few reviews but I wasn’t certain I was going to enjoy it. I am so glad I bought it, by the 3rd page I was hooked.

* I read this book before I started my blog but wrote the review right after finishing it. I wanted to get the review up before the end of the year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

2010 100+ Reading Challenge

I am so excited to join the 100+ Reading Challenge. There are so many great books to read in 2010, it would be silly for me to NOT try to read at least 100.

To see all the details for the challenge, check out J. Kaye's post.

1. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
2. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
3. Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan
4. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
5. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
7. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (audio)
8. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
9. Heresy by S.J. Parris
10. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
11. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
12. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
13. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (audio)
14. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
15. Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman
16. Frostbite by Richelle Goodman
17. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
18. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
19. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
20. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (audio)
21. The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham
22. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
23. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
24. Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Sedier (audio)
25. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (audio)
26. Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trifimuk (audio)
27. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (audio)
28. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer
29. The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw
30. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
31. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
32. Keeper by Kathi Appelt
33. Fireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stipakoff
34. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
35. Nightlight by The Harvard Lampoon
36. Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
37. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
38. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
39. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
40. Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt
41. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
42. Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
43. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
44. Radiance by Alyson Noel
45. She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
46. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (audio)
47. Dirty Secret by Jessie Sholl
48. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
49. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (audio)
50. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
51. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
52. Dead Tossed Waved by Carrie Ryan (audio)
53. Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
54. Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman
55. After by Amy Efaw (audio)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday

Jill at Breaking the Spine hosts "Waiting on" Wednesday, a place where we can voice the books we are patiently - okay probably impatiently - waiting to be released.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon: A Novel
By Sarah Addison Allen
Pub. date: March 16, 2010

From Amazon:

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes—which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth
but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar . . . Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past?

Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

I don't care what the book is about. I love Sarah Addison Allen so I am reading it. But okay, this sounds awesome. And oh how I love the cover.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

Thank you MizB for hosting Teaser Tuesday.

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share 2 teaser sentences from that page
-Make sure you don't include any spoilers
-Share the title and author so envious readers can add it to their TBR pile

Check out Should Be Reading to read more Teaser Tuesdays.

"What kind of name is Door, then?"
And she looked at him with her odd colored eyes, and she said, "My name."
-Page 40
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Elf on the Shelf

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition Elf on the Shelf Gift Set

A few weeks ago I came across The Elf on the Shelf in Barnes and Noble and immediately picked it up. When I was little we had a shelf elf but for some reason it never ended up on a shelf, it was always stuffed in the tree to look out on us. I decided I would do the elf right now that I had my very own.

I took my elf home and read the story to my husband and we quickly realized that we had to buy one for our nephew that lives in TX.

For those who don't know that story here is the description from Barnes and Noble:

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition™ is an activity the entire family will enjoy. Based on the tradition Carol Aebersold began with her family in the 1970s, this cleverly rhymed children's book explains that Santa knows who is naughty and/or nice because he sends a scout elf to every home. During the holiday season, the elf watches children by day and reports to Santa each night. When children awake, the elf has returned from the North Pole and can be found hiding in a different location. This activity allows The Elf on the Shelf to become a delightful hide-and-seek game.

When my brother-in-law received the package in the mail he opened it and hid the elf from my nephew and then read him the story telling him that the elf was going to be arriving shortly. When he got the chance he put the elf on the front porch, ran the doorbell, and then hid around the side. My sister-in-law had my nephew answer the door and he was apparently very excited the elf had arrived but he was looking around like where did this elf come from, I have to make sure I'm extra good now.

I was cracking up when I heard the story. I don't have kids yet but even my husband and I have fun hiding the elf from each other.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The White Queen - Philippa Gregory

The White Queen: A Novel (Cousins' War)is the first book in a new series by Philippa Gregory.

I have much love for Philippa Gregory for bringing me The Other Boleyn Girl and introducing me to the Tudors. Although it will be difficult for her to ever write another novel as compelling as The Other Boleyn Girl, I had been impressed with the books following…until her last book The Other Queen. I was barely able to finish the book and if it was any other author I probably wouldn’t have.

With The White Queen, Gregory is clearly back. Although it didn’t grab me the way I expect her books to and it took me a while to become attached to the story, by the end of the book I was yearning for more. I am extremely excited that this is the first book in a series and I am anxiously awaiting more information on the next book.

As with The Other Boleyn Girl, Gregory has introduced me to an entire period of history I was blind to.

I had passed a book a while back about 2 lost princes in the Tower and I remember putting it down because I wasn’t able to understand how anyone could lose 2 princes so I assumed it to be fiction. Gregory has enlightened me.

There were also some amazing passages that touched me. In the 2nd paragraph on page 274, I feel Elizabeth’s emptiness. She has full realized that nobody is coming for her. Edward is dead and she is alone with her kids. Some of the moments were so well written that I felt as if I was standing right there next to Elizabeth experiencing it all with her.

I think the next book is going to be some of her best writing. She has laid the base and the background and now she can get into the drama

I can’t wait!

* I read this book before I started my blog but wrote the review right after finishing it. I wanted to get the review up before the end of the year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Traitor’s Wife - Susan Higginbotham

The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham is a book about Eleanor, who is the granddaughter to King Edward I, and married to a man of insignificant background. The story moves through King Edward II and the problems he faces throughout his reign.

This is the first book I have read about this time period and I quickly fell into the story. With every dark turn the story took, I was more enthralled. It was not just that I had never read about these people before and I therefore did not know how it would end, but the writing was so captivating I felt as if I was right there with Eleanor.

The battles were being fought in the name of England but it was often unclear who the “bad guys” were because you felt so connected to the man who is not known for serving England very well.

One of the most interesting things I realized when I finished the book was how it opened my eyes to the reality of the workings of the royal family and royalty in general. It was one of those moments when you know you have all the facts but they suddenly all click together into the obvious (okay I had one of Oprah’s “ah ha” moments). I now understand how they can all be related. She was the granddaughter of a king and she became a prisoner, and then a nobody. Royalty doesn’t necessarily stay royal…or wealthy.

We still play this game of politics/royalty, and it is still just as fascinating.

* I read this book before I started my blog but wrote the review right after finishing it. I wanted to get the review up before the end of the year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan is the first book in a new series by Scott Westerfeld. It is the story of Prince Alek of Austria-Hungary and Deryn, a girl pretending to be a boy named Dylan so she can join the English Air Service. Their stories collide on an unexpected night in Switzerland.

This is definitely an interesting take on an alternate history of WWI. Although there were some parts of the story that dragged a bit, the book overall was extremely interesting. Westerfeld creates a world where technical and biological engineering has lead to fascinating—and sometimes frightening—developments. At times the creations in his story were a bit out there and it was hard to picture what he was imagining, but then I would turn the page and be enlightened by one of Keith Thompson’s beautiful illustrations.

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I saw the first illustration. When I bought Leviathan, I didn’t realize it was illustrated, and then I came across this amazing picture. I don’t know what caused me to rush through the book more, the fascinating story or knowing in a few pages there would be another incredible illustration.

Thompson’s work was a perfect addition to Westerfeld’s writing. He complimented Westerfeld’s fantastic imagination and helped bring Leviathan to life. I can’t wait to see what the second book brings in story and pictures.

Check out Scott Westerfeld's website where you can read the first chapter of the book and see some of the amazing illustrations that had me so mesmerized.