Sunday, December 26, 2010

More to come this week...

I hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday season!  I had quite a week.  Last Sunday I drove to Las Vegas with my husband for his sister's wedding.  We got back on Wednesday and by Christmas Eve I had come down with some cold/flu/nastiness that I am trying to get rid of right now.  Since I am currently in a cold drug induces haze I don't think I am going to be accomplishing much. 

I was hoping to have more posted about my outings but I'll try to get my act together by the end of the week just in time for my....wait for it...wait for it...

Harry Potter themed New Year's party!!

Yes I know I am totally geeking out right now and I love it.  I have cooked up some pretty awesome things for this party which I will be sharing later but in the mean time I will leave you with one picture from my sister-in-law's wedding. 

My nephew (who turns 5 tomorrow) was the ring bearer and looked so adorable in his tux but he did need something to distract his attention during part of the reception.  Well, I just so happened to have a random app on my phone that let you decorate a picture with Christmas decorations and he loved playing with this app but for some reason thought it was hilarious when he covered up his own face...

Me and my nephew, he thought I looked better with some sweet pink glasses and he looked better with an ornament over his face

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book
By Neil Gaiman

What is there to say except I HEART NEIL GAIMAN!! When I first heard of him I didn’t understand how people could be so obsessed. Then, I read Neverwhere and began to understand but I love him even more after The Graveyard Book. The funny thing is that when I think about the story I can’t even really place what makes me love him. It could be quotes like:

“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

That may be part of it, I just know that every time I close one of his books, whether for a moment, or after the final page, I feel a giddy, delightful connection. You would think I would feel sad to let go of the characters, but I don’t. I think I said something similar at the end of Neverwhere.

One of the most interesting things to me was that while reading I kept thinking about Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Neffenegger. The graveyard and ghosts all felt familiar and my feelings while reading both were very similar. Then, I got to the end of the book and under the “acknowledgments” Gaiman talks about Neffenegger.

“A lot of what she told me crept into Chapters Six and Seven.”
Pg 311

This may seem like more of a review on Neil Gaiman than a review of the Graveyard Book but if you haven’t read him yet, DO! If you need a place to start, The Graveyard Book is wonderful. What more do you really need to know?

**Source: Much love to my local library for having this book available for me!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page.

Thank you Jenny Q at Let Them Read Books for hosting this month's Mailbox Monday blog tour.

Check out her blog and post all the new books you acquired last week.

 Across the Universe by Beth Revis (ARC from publisher)

From author's website:

Across the UniverseSeventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awake on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into a brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone—one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship—tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
 Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano (ARC from publisher)

 From Good Reads:

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Infinite Days - Rebecca Maizel

Infinite Days (Vampire Queen)
Infinite Days
By Rebecca Maizel

Lenah is a vampire, or at least she was a vampire, until her best friend turned her back into a human using some crazy old magic. As Lenah tries to adjust to her new life as a human, she has flashes back to her old life as a vampire and these were my favorite parts of the story.

As a vampire, Lenah’s power was intriguing. You could feel how she dominated all those around her, human and vampire alike. She was a queen of the vampire world but she still had the burning desire to be human. I really appreciated that this was a new way to write a vampire story. It wasn’t about the desire to be a vampire or the fear of vampires but instead, a true look at what it would be like to lose your humanity and have only vampire desires and no feelings at all. This is a book that shows the pain and torment of being a vampire.

The story, overall, is very predictable. I was really happy with Lenah’s “outcast” status and it annoyed me when that began to change. That is also when I began to feel disconnected with the story. There were two things that came up throughout the book and really bothered me. First of all, there wasn’t any consistency with many parts of the story. Lenah would be saying something can’t happen and then it would. The second thing that drove me nuts was that Lenah’s abilities were constantly over-explained and then re-explained. She could look at the sun and know what time it was, she knew the time by the placement of the sun in the sky, her vampire abilities allowed her to know the time from the placement to the sun. I get it! Lenah had various abilities from being a vampire and some of them took time to wear off after her transformation back into a human but once that was made clear, the constant explanation of them was unnecessary.

The end was, again, predictable, but I was still curious to get to the end and find out exactly how it would play out. This is the first book in a new series and I hope the next ones give more detail into Lenah’s past because, as I said before, I really enjoyed reading about Lenah as a powerful, evil vampire, knowing that she eventually desires nothing more than to be human again.

**Source: ARC from publisher

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Everyday, on my walk from my car to the building I work in, I pass turkeys!  There are about 20 turkeys living right outside our office and they fly from tree to tree or walk around in the bushes.  I tried to get a video of one flying because nobody believes that those giant things fly but I missed it, but this little guy is saying hi to you today.  Actually, yesterday when I took the picture, he was saying "I know tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I'm hiding out here now get out of my face and don't blow my cover." 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Daughters of the Witching Hill - Mary Sharratt

Daughters of the Witching Hill
Daughters of the Witching Hill
By Mary Sharratt

I have read many books about witch hunts in various countries and the similarities, as well as the differences, fascinate me. Daughters of the Witching Hill is based on the true story of the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt. As the story unfolds, it shows how seemingly innocent religious beliefs intertwined with and also were confused with witchcraft.

Mother Demdike was a woman with the power to heal and the people in her community embraced that power…until they didn’t. Sharratt tells a heartbreaking story with surprising redemption. The story is filled with questionable characters and lose-lose situations which bring it to life. A battle between “bad witch” and “good witch” turns loved ones against each other but what resonated with me most was Mother Demdike’s insistence that they must not cry witch because once a witch-hunt starts, no one is safe.

I loved the different relationships between all the women. The seemingly strong bonds that brought out so many joyous and heartbreaking moments, as well as some interesting conversations:

She rested her brow upon my shoulder.
‘It’s the virgin’s disease, so my father says. The only cure is marriage. The longer I’m a maid, the worse it will get.’
-pg 180

Although this comment comes in the middle of a discussion about being cursed, it paints an interesting picture about the way that women were viewed and treated.

**Source: contest win from Passages to the Past

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Little Bee - Chris Cleave

Little Bee: A Novel
Little Bee
By Chris Cleave

This book was difficult for me. I enjoyed the story – well, it’s not that I enjoyed it as much as I appreciated it. I was a powerful story with a huge message behind it and I think the story that unfolded did a great job of portraying that.

That said, I think the writing left something to be desired. I felt all the emotions were put into the wrong moments. I would be reading about a heartbreaking moment in the story and the only reason I had any idea that was going on was because it said “I was crying.” I have a specific example but I’m not going to put a quote because I don’t want to give part of the story away. On the other hand, so much of the minor details became lost in the in-depth descriptions. There would be a page about something so minor (for example the ocean, I understand, symbolism, blah, we’ve gone over this, can we move on already?) I found myself skipping over parts.

I really loved what Little Bee said about scars and that was something that I remembered throughout the book but I also felt disconnected because the story was told as if she were telling it to someone from England and there was a lot I didn’t connect with because of that. I think that part of the story I enjoyed the most was the inside view on journalism and even some politics in London. I was fascinating to me. Although this was not what the story was about, it helped bring it to life.

**Source: I bought this book with my own sweet loot.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fireworks Over Toccoa - Jeffrey Stepakoff

Fireworks Over Toccoa 
By Jeffrey Stepakoff

Holy crap I love this book!!!  From the first chapter, NO from the first page I fell in love.  The moment I read on the back cover that Stepakoff had been involved with many wonderful TV shows, including Dawson’s Creek, I was very curious about the story.  I don’t know if that is the reason I could not stop relating the book to other books, TV shows and movies but every time I turned the page I was reminded of something else I loved.  I caught myself – unsurprisingly – remembering some of my favorite moments in Dawson ’s Creek (Grams’ one great kiss). Fireworks Over Toccoa has the Southern charm of a Sarah Addison Allen novel but the way it was told kept reminding me of Titanic.

I continued to think I would find something, just one negative thing, because this book couldn’t really be this good and finally, towards the end, I knew it was going to be a bit too predictable (which isn’t even the worst thing I can say about some books) and then BAM! my whole predictable ending was shot down, as well as a chance of finding a flaw in the story.  This was truly a lovely, delightful and delicious story.  It made me want to sit down with a Coca-Cola in a bottle and watch some fireworks.

I love that the story came about after Stepakoff began research for a TV pilot that never came to be.  The characters were so real, and I was so lost in the story that I forgot to wonder which parts of the story were actually real. 

Love it!!

**Source:  ARC from publisher

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Still Missing - Chevy Stevens

Still Missing
Still Missing
By Chevy Stevens

A story about a woman who is abducted and taken to a house where she is abused in many horrifying ways can really be a toss-up. There would have been so many ways to let the horrors of the story take over and make it unreadable or to get caught up in the drama and have it be just a predictable abduction story. Luckily, none of that happened here.

Chevy Stevens crafted a heartbreaking and unique story that horrified but also had me laughing out loud. I could not put this book down. The entire story takes place in the therapy sessions Annie goes through, so we know she got away from her abductor, but that fact doesn’t take away from the suspense of the story, it may, in fact, add to it because more questions arise as she tells her therapist more and more.

Although Annie is obviously disturbed and embraces her self-proclaimed bitchiness, I love her! I could hear her voice and feel her personality lifting off the page during every therapy session. She rants about what happened to her while she was captive as well as the present day events taking place between the therapy sessions. She was so real to me as I read the story.

I will warn you that this isn’t a story for the faint of heart. Stevens goes into details of Annie’s abduction that are difficult to read but not overdone, making it more readable, while also more real (which is both good and bad in this situation). All of the difficult reading is worth it in the end because it makes for an incredible story that comes to life with the pain, sorrow, joy, confusion, anger, and intensity that you would expect from this type of an event. Still Missing is an extremely powerful book.

**Source: ARC from publisher

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"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 Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou
By Susan Higginbotham
Pub. date: January 1, 2011

From author's website:
When fifteen-year-old Margaret of Anjou journeys from France to marry England’s Henry VI, she hopes that her wedding will mean a lasting peace between England and France. Instead, England’s losses of French territory infuriate the people, resulting in the horrific murder
of Margaret’s first friend in England, William de la Pole.

The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou 
Pregnant at last after eight years of marriage, Margaret places her hopes in her coming child. Then the worst happens: the gentle, ineffectual Henry suddenly goes mad and cannot even recognize his longed-for son. As feuding nobles rush to exploit the situation, Margaret determines to protect the rights of her husband and her child.

Undaunted by exile, poverty, danger, and the slanders of her enemies, Margaret remains loyal to her cause even as those around her falter in their allegiances. For the man and the boy she loves best, she will risk everything—her reputation, her safety, and the future of England itself.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"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.

Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book: Based on the Film PhenomenonHarry Potter: A Pop-Up Book: Based on the Film Phenomenon
By Bruce Foster (Creator) and Andrew Williamson (Illustrator)
Pub. date: Nov.16, 2010

From Amazon:

This collectible Harry Potter pop-up book, based on the creative development of the films, features exquisite original artwork by Andrew Williamson, concept artist for all eight movies. With dynamic pop-ups animating memorable moments and locations — like the Triwizard Tournament, Diagon Alley, and Hogwarts Castle — Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book offers a 3-D glimpse into the amazing world, as seen in the films. This deluxe book will delight Harry Potter fans with dynamic pop-up ingenuity, insights from the creative team who turned JK Rowling’s stories into movie magic, fascinating facts about the magical universe seen in the movies, and Harry Potter memories and memorabilia packed into every page.
In the words of Liz Lemon..."I want to go to there!"
I already know 3 people who are going to receive this for Christmas...okay,2 people if you don't count me because I am so going to own this!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's a Celebration!!!

I thought Halloween was my favorite black and orange. I was so wrong...


Victory is even sweeter because my in-laws live in Texas!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo (Hush, Hush)
Crescendo (Hush, Hush)
By Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo is the sequel to Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I reviewed Hush, Hush previously and I did not enjoy it. I am happy to say that Crescendo was so much better. Remember all those things I said about Hush, Hush that annoyed me? Almost none of it existed. Fitzpatrick’s writing was so much better, her descriptions weren’t overdone but instead painted an intriguing picture. Best of all, Patch had already been introduced so I didn’t have as many issues with his personality.

Nora’s friend, Vee, also had a bigger role in Crescendo and I loved her personality and the humor she brought to the story. The story was a bit predictable but I was still anxiously reading to see how everything was going to play out.

I can say that I will be reading the next book in the series – which will definitely exist because Crescendo had a very open ending. I actually really enjoyed the ending because many of the questions raised throughout the book were answered so I wasn’t left wondering about them as I wait for the next book to come out.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with Crescendo. So, if you read Hush, Hush and didn’t love the book but you were still interested, you will not be disappointed.

**Source: ARC from the publisher for review.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, HushHush, Hush
By Becca Fitzpatrick

This was a difficult book for me to get into but I think that is my fault for reading Nightlight at the same time. I mean really, did I think that I could read a YA supernatural romance parody WHILE I was reading a YA supernatural romance and not have it ruin the storyline? Well let me give you some advice: don’t do it! Once I realized my mistake and put Nightlight aside, I was able enjoy Hush, Hush a bit more but I did still have some issues with the book.

Nora meets Patch and right away she is drawn to his sexy bad boy appeal but she knows he is bad so she tries to stay away. The problem is that no matter how hard she tries, she can’t keep her distance and she finds him either appearing where she is or she hunts him down herself. A good portion of the story took place in Nora’s high school Biology class which was where she first talked to Patch. Nora immediate reaction was that he was dangerous but it bothered me that her actions didn’t reflect her feeling that way. It was like she would tell herself he was bad (to the point that she thought he was stalking her and may even want to kill her) but she kept going with him and listening to him. There was one particular scene where he ends up in her house making food with a very big knife and she is looking at the knife thinking that his plan was to kill her. I just didn’t feel the imminent danger that she felt she was in; maybe it was because moments earlier Nora was accepting a ride home from Patch. I don’t know about you but if I am scared enough of someone that the moment they pick up a knife I think “oh no, he is planning on stabbing me to death with that super big knife” that is not the person I would be accepting rides home from.

On the other hand, Hush, Hush did have some interesting moments. I especially enjoyed the vee and some of her randomness that had me cracking up…

’Who said anything about being ashamed?’ Vee said. ‘I’m not ashamed. Why would I be ashamed? The only other sixteen-year-olds with boobs as big as mine are suffused with silicone—and everyone knows it. Why would I have reason to be ashamed?’ She rummaged through a bin. ‘Think they have any bras in here that can get my babies to lie flat?’
‘They’re called sports bras, and they have a nasty side effect called the uniboob.’ I said, my eyes picking out a lacy black bra from the pile.
-pg. 133

I’m curious to see where the story goes. Stay tuned for the review of Crescendo, the sequel of Hush, Hush.

**Source: Library copy

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nightlight: A Parody - The Harvard Lampoon

Nightlight: A Parody
Nightlight: A Parody
By The Harvard Lampoon

Nightlight…oh Nightlight. How you ruined me. In case you don’t know, Nightlight is a parody of Twilight and this book was absolute random hilarity. The beautiful thing is that since everyone knows at least something about Twilight, I don’t think you have to have even read the books to enjoy it. Although the entertainment was very up and down, sometimes I would go pages without caring much about what I was reading and then I was suddenly cracking up, reading excerpts to anyone who was around me. The real problem was that I became so used to reading for a quick laugh and knowing that everything written was a joke, I had a hard time picking up any other book and taking it seriously. A word of caution: don’t read part of Nightlight and then try to read something else between sittings. I decided to list a few of my favorite quotes. If they make you laugh, this book will be right up your alley.

Here are some of my favorite quotes in all their dumb gloriousness:

Lucy was standing beneath a ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fans’ poster.
‘Join my club!’
‘No, thank you,’ I said icily. But I was not thankful and I think I conveyed that in my tone. I had no intention of supporting a show that encouraged the genocide of an already endangered species of immortals.
-pg 50

We walked together, our pointer fingers romantically linked. The cemetery loomed ahead of us covered in a dark haze of night, lit only by the silver moon of Twilight! I mean, Nightlight!
-pg 101

We settled down and began to enjoy the romance of each other, almost like a warm glow inside of us. This is the way married grownups feel all the time.
-pg 105

Source: Borrowed from a generous friend.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This is the Coolest Idea Ever!

This was one of those days I just want to sit and stare at my computer all day, but don't worry, those days are happening all week so you can just sit and stare with me.  Okay, I guess what I really want is to live in Seattle right now, but that's besides the point.

If, like me, you read Shelf Awareness today then you may have seen something called The Novel: Live!  It is this amazing event going on this week at the Hugo House in Seattle.  36 writers are coming together to write a book...LIVE!  This week you can check out the website (or if you are lucky and live in Seattle you can go to Hugo House and watch them with your very own eyes, no computer screen needed) and actually watch as each author takes their 2 hours to type out their part of the story (yes I have it open in another tab right now and I keep flipping back to watch).

Seriously, if you haven't checked it out yet then you are missing out.  It was so great to see the differences in each person's the writing process.  I was so fascinated with every pause.  What were they thinking? Was there some deep story-line brewing there or were they just stretching their fingers?  Okay, so maybe this has turned me into an author stalker--it was bound to happen--but I'm telling you, check it out and you will understand.  It is just a person sitting at a computer typing...and I love it!

Check out The Novel: Live! here.

They also have sweet loot you can buy in their merch store and the best part is all proceeds are being donated to 826 Seattle, a non-profit that encourages kids to develop their writing skills.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen: A Novel (The Cousins' War)
The Red Queen
By Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen is Philippa Gregory’s second book in her trilogy about the Cousin’s War. This book follows Margaret Beaufort through her life and determination to place her son on the throne, where she believes it is God’s will that he rule. Through her loveless marriages and all the hardships she must face a woman she remains devout to God and continues to believe she is destined to follow in the footsteps of Joan of Arc.

While I can’t exactly gush over this book, I did really enjoy it. I can say that although I knew how it would end, I was excited to get to the end of the book. Gregory did a fantastic job of building up the suspense, especially towards the end of the book, so even if you know the outcome, you still have doubts that it is certain to turn out that way. It’s like when you watch Romeo and Juliet and Juliet starts to stir and for a moment you think that Romeo is going to notice her starting to wake up and they are going to live happily ever after so you forget that Shakespeare doesn’t give them the happy ending you are hoping for and you are yelling at the screen “Look Romeo, she is waking up. Just look at her right now and you will see she didn’t die.” When the final battle begins at the end of The Red Queen, even if you know who is going to be the victor, you still hesitate for a moment, knowing where all the key players stand but still unsure of their intentions, you forget what you know about history and become lost in the uncertainty of the battle.

Although it did take me awhile to become fully interested in the story (the first part of the book was a bit slow) I cannot wait for the third and final book. I am excited to see where Gregory takes the story.

**Source: I bought this book with my own sweet loot.