December 8, 2012

HALLELUJAH!!

I'VE FINISHED IT!!!

Okay, if you're just tuning in you might be a tad confused.  I started reading a book (which was on hold at the library which meant waiting weeks to get it) a while back titled Parade's End.  When I first got it, I was unaware of how difficult of a read it would be owing to writing style, dialect, and story line.  Also, the fact that it was four books in one volume (total of 906 pages with minuscule type) didn't help matters.  So I only finished the first book when it was due back at the library...where it was on hold.  Therefore, I had to wait over a month to get the book back and pick up where I left off.  BUT I'M FINISHED!!

The review: I must say that this might be one of the most difficult works I've read.  I can't decide if it's Ford's writing style or his dialogue that I found most perplexing.  I would say that if you're wanting to give this one a whirl make sure that you're prepared and that you stock up on patience.  The story was a riveting one which was the impetus for continuing all the way to the end (and I'm no quitter!).  The ending, however, fell short.  I feel like it ended too suddenly (which is saying something when it's 906 pages).  I don't feel satisfied.  I like having an ending where all the loose ends are tied up neatly.  Not entirely sure I got that with this one.

In the interim when I was waiting on the book to be in my possession again I started reading Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (have I mentioned this already?).  Another book with a LOT of plot and a TON of characters.  I'll have to figure out where I left off with that one so that I can finish it and write it up for you guys.  The past two months have been busy but I'm hopeful after the holidays to pick up the pace.

Hope you are all doing well and READING!

October 29, 2012

When the storm comes knocking, I get to reading

Well, the good thing about being stuck in the house is that I get stuff done.  :-)  I've finished up Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye and I must say it's put me in the mood for some classic literature.  It's also made me realize that there are two works by Jane that I haven't read: Sanditon and The Watsons which were published together as Minor Works.  I've already added it to my wish list. ;-)  One of the best things about this book was how it tied together everything from the time period with actual paintings.  Also, the accounts from Jane's family about what she thought of the characters and how their lives might have changed after the ends of her books was fascinating.

Next on the agenda is JK Rowling's next creation, Casual Vacancy.  I'm a huge Potterhead so I have to say that I have high expectations for her first work for adults.  I know the bare minimum (which is the way I like to start off a new novel) about this book.  It's set in a small English village and there's an opening on the council (hence the vacancy).  The book is more political than Harry Potter (although it wasn't devoid of subtle political references) and sticks to the normal rather than the paranormal. As I said, I have high expectations but I'll be sure to report my findings be they ill or favorable to you all.

Happy reading and if you're on the east coast like me STAY SAFE (and read a book)!

October 20, 2012

Pleasantly surprised

I was pleasantly surprised with the humor in From the Earth to the Moon.  It was clear that Jules Verne was definitely making a point about Americans and their inability to see obstacles in their path to impossible dreams. However, he also lauded this ability at the same time.  This book was written in 1865 and details something which would have been almost laughable at the time: a manned spacecraft.  If you're eyes are bulging out of your sockets with the thought of a man this far ahead of his time, then you should read the book.  I do need to warn you, however, that the ending kind of fell flat after the buildup created by the previous chapters.  Fans of classical literature and/or sci-fi will most definitely enjoy this read.

For my next daring adventure into literature I've chosen Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye.  The title pretty much explains exactly what this book is all about.  The author discusses Jane's life and the culture of the time period in which each of her books was written.  I'm a huge fan of classical literature and Jane Austen is one my favorites so when I saw it on the shelf I practically leaped over to grab it.  From the quick flip through I see that there are several photographs, maps, and various illustrations which will no doubt further the reader's awareness of the period in which Jane lived.  I can't wait to find out what her inspiration was for Mansfield Park!!

October 16, 2012

I'm back!

I must first apologize for the lengthy intermission between this post and the last.  There's been a lot of confusion over exactly which book I'm reading right now because Parade's End came in, I read the first of the three books, and then it had to be returned because it was on hold.  Because of all of that hullabaloo, I started reading The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells.  H.G. Wells is an acquired taste in my opinion. I read War of the Worlds about 5 years ago and was entirely unimpressed.  I read The Time Machine in 2008 and LOVED it.  So what did I think of The Island of Dr. Moreau?  Well, I liked it for the most part.  It was well-written and definitely kept my attention throughout the entire narrative.  I would caution anyone with a weak stomach or who has a softness for animals (like myself).  It's not light reading to be sure but it is fascinating the way this particular writer's mind works.  If you like science fiction novels, then you're likely to enjoy this one.

Speaking of sci-fi novels, I picked up an out-of-print book at a bookshop a couple of weeks ago and decided I wanted to give it a whirl while I was waiting out my book on hold.  The Day the World Ended by Sax Rohmer is about 3 men (a Frenchman, an Englishman, and an American which sounds like a bad joke) who arrive in Germany trying to solve three mysteries that turn out to be one and the same.  There is a plot to destroy the earth and they are given a choice if they would rather die with the masses or be spared with the few.  I was a little disappointed at its rather anti-climactic ending but it moved along fairly well and the characters were for the most part very likable.  Again, I'd recommend this one to any hardcore sci-fi book lover.

Of course, because I have serious compulsion issues when it comes to books I grabbed two more books from the library.  I've decided (just now incidentally) that I'm going to start From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne first because I'm in a classics kind of mood. I haven't the foggiest notion what the main plot of the story is other than it discusses space travel (and was mentioned in Back to the Future III).  I promise to be more prompt with my response this time!!

Please let me know how I'm doing and if there is anything you'd like to see more of genre-wise.  Keep those pages turning!!

August 28, 2012

This is most definitely an adult book!

Word to the wise, if you're looking for a book to read aloud to the kids at night then Water for Elephants is NOT the book for you.  However, if you're looking for a book that will take you into the world of circuses when they were in their heyday then this IS the book for you.  Oh and there's romance (with racy bits which is partly why it's not suitable for the youngsters).  And drama (a trainload of it).  This book was highly recommended to me by two of my classmates from my YA Lit class and I must say they did not lead me astray.  Well-written, engaging, and just plain fun to read, Sara Gruen had me on the edge of my seat the whole way.  I've always been fascinated by the culture of circuses and this has just fueled that fire even more.

Of course, now that I've finished this book I remembered that I was 3/4 of the way through A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and I owe it to science to finish it up.  Sooooo that's what I'm going to do while I wait on my library hold for Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford (now that is a fun name).  I'll let you guys know the verdict just as soon as I can!!

August 18, 2012

I have a confession.  Sometimes I watch the movie before I read the book.  I know!  That's crazy talk!!  However, in my defense, I don't always realize that there was a book before the movie.  This is one of those times.  In celebration of finishing my Young Adult Literature class, I read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le CarrĂ©. Of course, since I had watched the film I knew the bare bones of the narrative and because of this there should be no surprises.  Right?  WRONG!  This book was so compellingly written, so sprinkled with intrigue and suspicion, that it was impossible not to think of the two stories as separate (but both magnificent).  The story revolves around the British Secret Service and those at the very top of the ladder.  There is a double agent among them.  The entire story is the search for this elusive mole.  If you love mystery and spy stories, this is just the book for you.  I can't wait to get my hands on more of his works!

Sometimes when you walk the aisles of a library or bookstore, a book will jump out at you.  It might be a book that you had heard mentioned and forgot about it or it might be one you had never heard of at all. This next book falls into the former category.  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen was a much talked about book (and movie which I haven't seen by the way) last year even though it came out in 2006.  I was reminded of it by some of my classmates when we were discussing Twilight (Robert Pattinson strikes again) and they were very enthusiastic about it.  Then I just so happened to have it in my hands when I was shelving a few days later.  I had to check it out.  From what I can tell from the back cover and from what my classmates describe the book is a gripping romantic fiction that is set in a circus that is on its last legs  Romance isn't my favorite genre but I have a fascination with circuses (remember when I read The Night Circus?).  There's something compelling about people who travel around the world performing for different audiences each night and all with masks and makeup to conceal their true identities.  I can't wait to see what mysteries await me within the pages of this book!

August 4, 2012

I've just finished up Mud City by Deborah Ellis which is the third installment of the Breadwinner Trilogy.  It's about a young Afghan girl name Shauzia who is at a refugee camp but would rather be in France (or really anywhere else).  The story focuses on her struggles as she encounters the many obstacles of a country torn apart by war.  She's angry, frustrated, and at odds with everyone around her except for her dog, Jasper.  It was a fairly quick read and while I learned about a country that I'm pretty unfamiliar with, I wasn't blown away by it.  Perhaps if I hadn't unwittingly chosen the third book in a trilogy, it would have been more entertaining.  However, if you're interested in knowing what it would be like to grow up in Afghanistan or Pakistan, I suggest starting with The Breadwinner.

Interesting to note: the royalties from the purchase of this book go to Street Kids International, a non-profit organization that works with children around the world who are living on the streets.  For more information, contact them here or write to them at 38 Camden St, Suite 201, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1V1.

July 31, 2012

What did I just read?

The quick answer is that I just read Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. The longer answer is that I have no idea what this story was really about. I thought at first that it was simply a straightforward story about a young boy in a small town in Arkansas. This assumption was quickly destroyed when a parallel story line was introduced which focused on God and the Book of Enoch. From that point (which was fairly early on in the novel), I had pretty much no clue what was the real focus of the story. I don't like feeling like this after reading a book. I like some kind of resolution or conclusion at the end of a book. It's understandable if there's a sequel and there's a cliffhanger but there was no cliffhanger and there is no sequel (to my knowledge at any rate). There is only bafflement at a book which made no sense. If someone else has read this and would like to discuss it with me, I'm interested to hear your take on it. I can't delve into the details here because that would be spoiling it for anyone who's brave enough to try it. Drop a reply here and we can discuss it further through email.

I'm not sure what's next on the agenda. I have an annotated bibliography that is coming up and I have to pick up some books from the library tomorrow for that. One of those will be the next lucky book on the list. Until then, keep reading!!

July 27, 2012

Well, I'm sure you've all heard of the book I just finished up: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.  It's written exactly like a journal of a young boy complete with cute cartoons.  It was an extremely quick read.  I read it in about an hour and a half today.  If you're looking for something light and funny, this book would definitely deliver.

I volunteer at the American Museum of Natural History and today I dropped by to get a look at the new Spiders Alive! exhibit which I'm going to be working in on Saturdays.  I picked up some label copy to familiarize myself with all of the spiders inside.  I read that on the train back home and if I could put that into a book for you all to read I would.  It was THAT good, ya'll.

Now onto the next delightfully named young adult book: Cut by Patricia McCormick.  Yep I'm pretty sure it's exactly what it sounds like.  I'll be sure to let you know for sure though!

Edit: I finished up Cut and I liked it.  Well, as much as you can like a book that is so painful.  However, it's good for young adults because these are definitely issues that they're facing.  It helps to read a realistic piece that doesn't hold back on sensitive topics.  It makes the reader (if they're going through the same things) feel as if they're not alone.  Well-written and a quick read.  I'd recommend it!

July 24, 2012

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was excellent!  An interesting mix of fantasy and realistic fiction, The Graveyard Book, draws you into the story of Nobody Owens and his life in a graveyard among ghosts, ghouls, and a mysterious guardian.  From the first pages, the book is full of action and intrigue.  There's more to this story than just fantasy, however, as the protagonist grows and matures with every page turn propelling the reader on a journey of self discovery.  And the illustrations!!  (I should also mention the illustrations for M is for Magic were also magnificent.)  I urge you to go out and read this book ASAP.

Next on the agenda is a term paper on Gaiman and these works so I'll update later when I know which book I'm reading next.

July 22, 2012

Neil Gaiman, my hero

Neil Gaiman has cracked my top five favorite authors.  Congratulations, sir!  I've just finished up M is for Magic and it was pure delight all the way through.  Each story was unique, enticing, imaginative, and enthralling.  I found myself wishing that I could just sit and write short stories all the day long...and I suppose I could do if I chose that as a career.  Heck, I do still plan on writing that memoir that I've been threatening everyone with for years (it's tentatively titled Pants Are Overrated).  But back to the book...I loved it and I'm excited to crack open the next which is The Graveyard Book.  My plan is to make it through that book today so that I can finish up my oral presentation and start my paper.  Whew!

July 21, 2012

I've finished up Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan and the only problem that I have is that it's entirely unrealistic.  I think there was a lot of potential for this book to be really magnificent.  The writing was really superb and the characters were interesting but the world that they were placed in was entirely fictional.  The main character, Paul, has known since kindergarten that he was gay when a teacher wrote in a report "Paul is definitely gay."  Let's think about this for a sec, people.  Would a teacher ever write something like that?  Umm NO.  Also, would a child of that age a) know what the words on the page were and/or b) understand what they meant?  Umm NO.  These are just a few of the utterly fantastic (I mean this like extraordinary) scenarios from this book.  It was a light read that read as an entirely fictitious work when I thought it was going to be fraught with a lot more meaning and vulnerability.  Meh.

Going a little ways from my usual style I'm going to list the next 3 books that I'm going to read because they're interrelated.  I'm writing a report on Neil Gaiman and themes which occur in his YA works.  Alright, it's just one theme and I have no idea what that theme is at present.  BUT that's why I'm reading these 3 books.  The first is hopefully going to give me further insight into his life: Neil Gaiman on his work and career.  By a glance at the pages within, it appears to be an interview told through several chapters. The next is M is for Magic and is a book of eleven short stories about both realistic and fantastic events.  The third book is The Graveyard Book and has been recommended to me by several friends.  It's the story of a young orphan who grows up in a graveyard among ghosts and witches.  The other book that I'm using for my  paper is Stardust which I read a few months ago.  Did I mention that my oral presentation is Tuesday and the paper is due Thursday?  I'd better get cracking!!

July 18, 2012

Will wonders never cease!

The First Part Last was a change from what I imagine is the typical "teenage pregnancy" novel.  The book is told from the point-of-view of the father. It goes back and forth between the past (when they discovered they were having a baby) to the present (the baby has been born). There's a twist to the story that I thought I had figured out but then surprised me at the end. I enjoyed it because it was well-written and defied what I felt was the "formula" for the usual teen fiction. I think it's well worth giving a whirl.

Next on the list is Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. I was intrigued by this book as soon as I saw it on my reading list. As a library student, we are taught that it is vitally important to stock the shelves so that every member of the public can fulfill their information needs. Young adults are at that point in their lives where they are questioning the very definition of themselves. Who are their friends? What do they like? Are they weird? A book which explores a budding homosexual romance between two boys is a perfect example of how to insure that this information is properly fulfilled. I'm interested to see how this particular book deals with this sensitive issue.

I was busy today!!

Well, I've finally discovered a YA book that I like. Speak woke up something inside of me. It was heart wrenching and soul shattering. It was deep and disturbing. It was the story of a girl who was afraid to speak out and to face something that no one should ever have to face.  It was beautifully written and I am better for having read it. I don't think I'm doing it justice. If you have the stomach to handle extremely sensitive issues then you should read this. Go now.

Thankfully, I have a kind friend who lent me a copy of God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant because I was still on the hold list from weeks ago. I am having a difficult time forming an opinion about this (write that down because that's a first!). The book is written in verse and focuses on God as if he's a mortal man doing normal things such as opening up a nail salon. I'm torn between thinking that it's quite cleverly written and thinking that it's blasphemous. The whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking about how my best friend's father would view it and I really don't think he'd appreciate some of the humor. I don't know. Maybe you should give it a read and let me know what you think (I've asked that friend to read it and let me know her opinion).

Next on the list for Thursday's class is The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. Based on the part of the back cover that isn't covered by a barcode, the book is about teenage pregnancy. My friend from class mentioned that she thoroughly enjoyed this book so I'm interested to see where the story leads. Teenage pregnancy isn't a topic that I've read much about so my mind is wide open and ready to receive.

What a jam packed day of literature!!

July 15, 2012

I'm afraid for teenage girls everywhere

Someone just told me that "Pretty Little Liars is officially the teenage girl Bible."  I think I just felt the earth move beneath my feet...and not in a cool way.  This book disgusted me on an elemental level.  These girls are portrayed completely unrealistically and their attitudes about themselves and life in general are so disturbing that I am literally afraid for teenage girls everywhere.  The plot centers around four girls who share a dark secret.  This much I mentioned in the last post.  What I didn't know then is that these four girls (who are very difficult to keep separate) wouldn't make one decent person if they were all melded together.  There are no morals.  There is, however, teenage drinking, drugs, sex with teachers, shoplifting, entirely too much focus on brand name clothing, and an unhealthy focus on body image (which apparently equals self worth).  The message that this book sends to young ladies is abhorrent.  I am pretty much seething in anger right now. Ugh.

I have to move on quickly so I can get this bad taste out of my mouth.  The next book is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and it looks like it might just be the best way of accomplishing that goal.  The book's protagonist is Melinda Sordino, a high school student who stands up and speaks out (ah I see what you did there) when she calls the cops about a party (that must have been some rager).  The book sounds a lot like the premise of The Chocolate War in that it's the individual vs the community (in this case a high school).  I'm holding out some optimism that the message of this book is a bit more positive about resisting conformity and following your heart.  I'll report back here to let you know my thoughts.

July 14, 2012

Huh?

I must admit that I'm somewhat confused over the hoopla surrounding The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. It was very violent and frightening to look into the hearts and minds of these adolescents who seemed to work without a conscience (and the adults were sometimes worse).  The main character, Jerry Renault, stood for independence and going against the grain but the message at the end seemed to be that going against the tide only results in misery.  In fact, the entire tone of the book seemed to be that if you don't do what you're told, misfortune will certainly befall you.  Perhaps a secondary message is that the world is cruel and unfair and bad things happen.  However, I read books to get away from the sad realities of life (and I don't think the world is all that bad anyway).  This isn't to say that I don't enjoy "darker" books but there's usually some ray of light at the end.  I will say that it was very well-written (excepting some typos which may have been the fault of the printer) and a page-turner.  If you're prepared for an agonizing tale of woe and despair, this book will not disappoint.

I have no idea what to expect from the next title on the list: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard.  From what I've gathered from the back of the book (and the commercials for the tv show), this book focuses on four girls who have a very dark secret.  There's cattiness, lewd behavior, mystery, and probably lingerie.  The copy that I'm reading from looks like someone washed it, ran over it with their car, and then bent every single page.  I'm taking this to mean that it's a popular book so maybe it will really knock my socks off.  I'll let you know just as soon as I'm done!

July 11, 2012

The race is on!

Just in the nick of time for class tomorrow, I've finished up The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A true story of adventure, heroism & treachery by Steve Sheinkin.  I love a good nonfiction especially on a person or topic of which I am almost wholly unfamiliar.  I went into this book with only a vague recollection of Arnold being a traitor.  When I mentioned the name to a history major his response was, "That traitor!  Wasn't he hanged?"  I think this is everyone's first thoughts on hearing this most infamous name but what I discovered through reading this book is that there was so much more to Benedict Arnold.  He created America's first naval fleet, he was an extremely brave soldier, and General Washington respected him as a friend and compatriot.  Also, he wasn't hanged.  If I've intrigued you even marginally about the life of a well-known yet almost completely unknown iconic figure from American history, check out this book.  My only caution to you is that at times the prose is slightly over-blown which I think mostly comes from the author's excitement over the book's subject.

Now that I have the syllabus for my course (this is the end!) I now know that I must scurry quickly to stay ahead.  The next book I'm tackling is The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.  I have heard of this book for many years and I know that it is very popular among both teenagers and teachers.  The only thing that I know about this book is that a seemingly innocuous act by a boy causes such an hullabaloo among members of his school that war is declared.  My dear friend (and fellow avid reader), Krystle, told me that this book affords a glimpse inside the minds of boys.  I'm at once intrigued and absolutely terrified but I will sally forth!

I hope you're all taking advantage of the hot weather to sit somewhere cool and read to your heart's content!!

July 9, 2012

Crikey, that's a lot of cricket!

Well, as you might have guessed by the new post, I've finished up Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.  I suppose if I'd have looked at the author's biography, I could have guessed at the backdrop of this story.  However, I never like to look too much ahead and therefore I was completely at a loss until page 74 when it was explicitly stated that the story was unfolding in Australia.  That explains all of the cricket talk.  I mean there was a lot of talk about cricket. The game not the insect, of course.  I wouldn't have minded except that it was always discussed in great detail and in terms I had no way of being able to follow which I found detracted from the real meat of the story.  I have to say that while I didn't necessarily dislike the book, it is most definitely not going to top my list of favorites.  There were many twists and turns to the story which were quite thrilling but instead of thrumming up the anticipation of the main event (I don't want to give it all away), the author kept focusing on other things...like cricket.  So all in all it wasn't exactly my cup of tea.

The next book to be conquered is The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A true story of adventure, heroism & treachery by Steve Sheinkin.  This book has been awarded the YALSA-ALA Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction seal.  Also, the edges of the pages have been made to look ragged and therefore ancient (I have a weakness for old books and this has already endeared me I'm afraid).  I'm pretty excited because over the last months I've come to love nonfiction books and I don't know much about Benedict Arnold other than that he's a traitor.  I'm hoping this might delve a little deeper (oh look I'm branching out into humor now).  The back cover has quotes from several different men, included George Washington, which range from lauds to censure on his character.  I can't wait to get started on it!!

July 2, 2012

I'm on a roll!!

I've finished Monster by Walter Dean Myers and despite my initial misgivings about formatting I really enjoyed it!  Once you get used to the way the text is delivered, the book moves on at a remarkable clip.  The story is told from the point of view of Steve Harmon, the young man on trial for felony murder.  He decides to treat the entire incident as if it's a movie and so it goes from script to diary like entries.  I found it gripping, well-written, and I couldn't wait to keep turning the pages to find out what happened next.  I highly recommend for those who enjoy a quick criminal novel along the likes of John Grisham (as this focuses on the trial aspect quite heavily at times).

The next on the list is Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.  From what I read on the dust jacket, the book is about a young boy named Charlie who learns a terrible secret from his friend, Jasper Jones, that threatens to change everything in his life and in the lives of the town in which he lives.  From a cursory glance, it appears to be a spine-tingling mystery (of which I'm a huge fan) so I'm quite excited to get started on it.  If all goes well, I'll hopefully be finished with it quickly so I can give all of you a review. :-)

In the mean time, keep on reading!!

July 1, 2012

I just finished up The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I quite liked it.  I was rather surprised by how racy it got at certain points considering that it's young adult fiction (Note: I've actually been informed it's an adult work that was seen as a crossover for young adults.).  Of course, I am not naive enough to believe that young adults read things which are all sunshine and kittens but it's always a shock (I remember VC Andrews as a child and I swear that stuff scarred me) to the system.  However, the majority of the book was full of mystery, magic (although the characters sneered at this particular word choice), romance, and drama.  The only things that made it somewhat confusing were the jumps in time and narrative voice.  If that's cool with you, then I think this might be a good match for you.

The next book from the reading list is Monster by Walter Dean Myers and it focuses on a young black man who is in prison.  I've flipped through the pages and I'm not crazy about the style that the book uses to tell its story.  It's a mixture of diary entries and script.  I confess I am dubious about it but I am forging forth nonetheless.  I have to light a fire under myself as class begins next week and I'm only done with the first book! :o/

Wish me luck, readers!!

June 21, 2012

Life intervenes!!

Ah yes school is on the horizon.  It kind of creeped up on me that I'm about to start an intensive 6 week course of Young Adult Literature.  However, when I received the list of required books I knew that I had to get a move on in a BIG way.  There are about 12 books on the list (two of which I've already read: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling & Twilight by Stephenie Meyers) and I don't have much time to get cracking.  As a result, Stephen Hawking will have to take a backseat.  This also means that my last entry was basically a rhetorical question as I now have a limited selection of titles to choose from.

For reasons I can't come up with, I've decided to start with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Based on the dust jacket, the book appears to be a fantasy novel about a magical circus that shows up without notice.  There is a romantic back story about two magicians who are competing (but don't realize it at first) and the outcome effects everyone affiliated with the circus.  Since this is a fantasy novel, I'm about 80% sure that I'm going to enjoy it.  I usually have an issue with some of the young adult books that are "popular" right now because they're often overly angsty and full of swearing BUT I'm happy to give it a whirl (oh and I kind of have to read it for class).

So I'll (hopefully) be reporting back soon(ish) with my review and a blurb about the next title on the list. :-)

June 19, 2012

I'm finishing up A Brief History of Time and contemplating my next read.  I'm thinking The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  What do you guys think?

PS I hope you're prepared for the hot weather tomorrow!  Great reading weather!! ;o)

May 20, 2012

I feel smarter already!!

Not only was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter  a fantastic read, it has inspired me to learn more about Honest Abe.  That guy had a lot of personal tragedy in his life and yet he was steadfast in his beliefs about a united country free from tyranny and slavery.  This book definitely covered that topic but it wasn't just slavery that the President was fighting against but vampires and their eternal hunger for blood.  I think that anyone could enjoy this book because it covers history (there is a plentiful supply of accurate historical accounts), drama (hello, there's a horde of vampires attacking the human race!), and fantasy (did I mention the vampires?).  I definitely recommend it.

Okay, if you've been following this blog then you have to have figured out by now that I'm a huge nerd and I am on a quest for knowledge.  This quest has led me to Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time.  I've only just cracked it open and I'm already learning!  It's a nerd's paradise inside of these pages!!  Did you know that our Sun is 8 light-minutes away from the earth?  This means that if the Sun were to suddenly go out then we wouldn't know it for 8 minutes because that is how long it takes the Sun's light to reach us.  Take a moment to think about that.  I can't wait to uncover more facts about our universe and the concept of "time" as I read the first work by a first-rate genius, Stephen Hawking.

Stay tuned and KEEP READING!

April 28, 2012

HUZZAH!

Guess who just finished Let's Pretend This Never Happened?  If you guessed that it was me, you'd be correct. :-)  Although to be fair, that was a pretty easy question.  The harder question is this: Do I go back to Star Trek which frankly I'm not in the mood for at the moment but have already mentioned or do I choose something completely different?  It's a question I can't answer right now because I'm at work and away from my friends books right now.  So I guess I'll be leaving you on the edge of this cliff...

<twisting mustache in a villain-y sort of way>

EDIT: In all of the excitement, I forgot to give my review.  Oops?  Well, clearly I enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys quirky humor.  What do I mean by quirky humor?  Well, the author tends to talk circles around subjects and spends a LOT of time cursing.  I found it easy to move past that as she is SO DARN HILARIOUS.  The chapter about explosive diarrhea might have been my favorite.  So if that sort of thing (and taxidermied animals) isn't your cup of tea, I'd stay away.  However, if you're looking for a read that is so funny you will literally laugh out loud, then this is it.

EDIT PART 2: I know what I'm reading next (because I've already started) and it's Abraham Lincon: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith.  I chose this book for a couple of reasons: 1. Abraham Lincoln.  I have a weird fascination with him. 2. Vampires.  What more needs to be said?  3. It's been turned into a movie by Tim Burton and if you haven't seen the trailer click here.  I am VERY excited.  Hopefully, it won't take me long to get through it and I'll feel like giving Star Trek another whirl. :o)

April 26, 2012

Change of plans...

...I got a book that I pre-ordered in the mail and I've definitely been reading that instead of Star Trek.  I regret nothing.

Oh you're probably wondering which book I'm referring to, am I right?  Well, it's this one:

If you haven't at least heard of this book, then you must have been living under a rock for the last week...or you're just a sad, sad individual.  The Bloggess, aka Jenny Lawson, runs a fantastic blog which is so cracked out and lovely that I became addicted immediately.  When I found out that she had just written a book, I immediately pre-ordered it.  She's currently on tour promoting it and you can find information about that here. If you're into hilarity, taxidermy, exaggeration, and truthiness then this is just the book for you!!*  I should be done with this by the weekend and then I'll be back on track with Star Trek (unless something shinier gets my attention).

Happy Thursday!!!

*I should warn you, however, that there is a LOT of cursing in this book so if that's going to be a problem for you I wouldn't even bother.  

April 9, 2012

SAY WHAT?!

I can't believe I almost missed out on National Library Week!  For further information about the upcoming events this week click here.

Shout out to Mrs. Biegler for giving me the scoop and for sharing this amazingness which is all about Little Free Libraries (pretty much exactly what the name implies only cuter).

Can't wait for April 11th because it's all about Bookmobiles which I've always found fascinating (and it's kinda my birthday). :o)

If any of you guys hear/see anything awesome involving National Library Week please let me know and I'll be sure to include it.  HUZZAH!

April 7, 2012

I finished off Stardust on the train ride home from Manhattan and it just made me hungry for more!  I'd read Coraline and The Wolves in the Walls by Gaiman and I had assumed (that was my error) that this book would be written similarly.  Well...I was wrong.  The biggest difference is that the other two books are written for children while Stardust is most definitely for adults.  Figured that out a few pages in when there was a very graphic sex scene.  I say this because I don't want any of you guys following my blog to get a shock when you run out to read this book (run, readers, run).  However, I don't want this to deter you from this most excellent read.  It has everything: magic, love, adventure, and unicorns.  If you're in the mood for a quick fantasy read, then this is just the one for you!

On to the next book!  Full disclosure: I'm a Star Trek fan.  I generally prefer The Original Series (Kirk, Spock, Bones, etc) and I tend to stick to the books that fall within that universe.  I've read several (some written by William Shatner!) but there are SO many more out there to read.  I've decided to have a go at Star Trek: Cast No Shadow by James Swallow.  I'm not going to lie.  I picked up this book solely because Spock was on the cover.  That old saying "Don't judge a book by its cover." just doesn't hold water with me. I'm forever grabbing stuff because it catches my eye.  This particular story seems to center around the Klingons and a disastrous occurrence on one of their moons.  This explosion seems to have cause a bit of a ruckus among the Klingons (hard to believe because they're so peace loving usually) and violence is on the horizon.  What's going to happen?  Will the United Federation of Planets be able to bring peace to the lands? Why is Spock on the cover?!  I can't wait to uncover the answers to these questions!!!

Read your way to awesome!!!

April 5, 2012

Beautiful words, ugly history

I had extremely high expectations going into The Help  and I have to say that I was not at all disappointed.  I find it amazing that this was Kathryn Stockett's debut novel.  It is such a beautiful book.  As a white girl from the South, I have always had my back up about the sensitive topic of segregation.  I feel such disgust and shame that  human beings could treat other human being in such a deplorable fashion.  My mother was brought up by a black woman, Mary Lou, and I was fortunate to have met her as a small child.  (Imagine my surprise when I saw my own picture at her house!)  My mother had not only kept in touch with her but passed on pictures of me to this woman who had featured such a large role in her childhood and who she loved so strongly.  Their relationship was a positive one but just like in the book it wasn't always like that.  I once got to see Rosa Parks in Montgomery on an anniversary of her famous bus ride.  I felt like I was standing in the presence of greatness and this book kind of makes me feel something similar.  Yes, it is fiction.  However, the time period of the story and the emotions which are evoked by the narrative are very real.  These characters could have lived in Mississippi in the 1960s and these events could have unfolded just as the author describes them.  Poignant, heartbreaking, hilarious, and tense are words I would use to describe this read. GO NOW AND READ IT.

Okay, now that I've completely blown your mind I'd like to discuss what I'm going to read next: Stardust by the incomparable Neil Gaiman.  I felt like I needed something carefree and whimsical (and short because this thesis is killing me) this go around.  The basic gist of the tale is that a young man goes on a magical quest with a fallen star as his traveling companion.  Gaiman is known for his fantastical writing style and his attention to detail as well as his willingness to talk with anyone about the joys of reading and writing.  He's a pretty magnificent guy.  I can't wait to start it up (full disclosure: I started it months ago but got distracted)!!

I hope that you guys are loving this zany weather but my biggest hope is that you're all reading!!

March 25, 2012

And they said it couldn't be done!

Of course, "they" refers to everyone who said that I should be more focused on my thesis than reading for pleasure. I say to them, "PHOOEY!" :o)

Now, to recap (because it's been awhile) I've been reading Ben Macintyre's The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief which chronicles the life of the man who inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor James Moriarty of Sherlockian fame.  I admit that I chose this book primarily because of that fact alone.  However, I've recently discovered just how much I enjoy non-fiction that discusses Victorian England and this book was chock full of data about this fascinating era of history.  Also, there was a large dose of Pinkerton history which  found fascinating as I read that book all those months ago about the history of the Pinkerton agency.  So, if you're interested in true crime, Victorian England, or maybe you just like non-fiction this book is just the one for you.

I'm what one might call a bookaholic.  This essentially means that I am constantly buying new books and adding them to my "Must Read" list which is steadily growing longer.  This also means that when I finished reading The Napoleon of Crime I was at a loss as to which book I should start on next.  I employed the help of my best friend and she decided me on The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Unless you've been living under a rock I'm sure you've at least heard about the movie which was adapted after the book.  In essence, the book is about "the help" or the African American women who raised white children in the South.  What were their lives really like?  Well, I can't wait to find out!

I hope you guys are cracking open those books because you never know what mysteries you'll find within its pages!!

February 10, 2012

Mystery Solved: Fantastic Read!

While traveling via the big metal bird, I finished up A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon.  It was a great read! If you're a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle and his infamous Consulting Detective, Sherlock Holmes, then you'll enjoy this book.  I think the one that I liked the best was written by Thomas Perry and entitled "The Startling Events in the Electrified City" which talked about what really happened when President McKinley was assassinated.

Now I've decided to start up The Napoleon of Crime: The life and times of Adam Worth master thief by Ben Macintyre.  Adam Worth, an infamous thief, is the title character of this book and the sole reason that I chose this was that Professor James Moriarty (of Sherlockian fame) was based off of him.  I think this will be just what I need to get through the long airplane ride back to NYC.  Of course, the update might be a while in coming as I have to work on my thesis for the next several weeks.

Keep those pages turning!!

January 22, 2012

I laughed, I cried, I questioned my sanity...

Well, I can tell you this about It's Not Me, It's You by Jon Richardson: it's dark humor.  I definitely found parts of it humorous (I even laughed aloud at several points) but I did not agree with the majority of his beliefs about relationships or indeed the human condition.  It is the author's belief that we should strive to make every day perfect and in order to do that we must all be focused on doing everything the right way.  I emphasize this because I don't think it's possible that there is a right or a wrong way to do certain things.  An example would be eating a meal.  He has a system whereby there are a specific number of mouthfuls and the last bite is absolutely perfect.  I believe that food must be eaten clockwise and that each round must be finished with a swallow of drink.  The difference here is that I don't begrudge others for not following in my footsteps because I know that would be insane (and in fact typing here that I have to eat in this manner makes me realize I might be insane anyway).  I don't want to discount all that he has to say because I think that he is generally trying to make the point that he tries inordinately hard to be happy and to make others happy and yet he fails spectacularly in both regards because he is such a perfectionist.  If you want to get a taste of his humor before you delve into this read I recommend watching this clip: http://youtu.be/iQvQqw1j8vk

If you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.  I have loved virtually every incarnation of these characters and have read several articles and books which were based off of his works.  After finishing the above, I decided I would start A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon.  This book is a collection of stories by a variety of authors including Neil Gaiman (totally why I picked this up), Colin Cotterill, Jerry Margolin, and Alan Bradley just to name a few.  These authors have all written stories which have some Sherlockian aspect whether it be a continuation of a story only mentioned by Doyle, an alternate universe with these characters, or modern day mysteries at 221B Baker St.  I cannot wait to delve into this book and uncover the mysteries that lie within!!

January 15, 2012

Enough of this seriousness!

FINALLY, I'm finished with The Emperor of All Maladies.  The book was fantastic but lengthy.  I don't recommend starting this book unless you have a lot of free time on your hands (and an interest in the intense subject matter that is cancer).  I DO recommend it if you're looking to gain insight into a disease that effects 1 in 2 people on this planet.

Of course, now that I've finished this book which covered such a serious topic I'm ready for something a little lighter.  I recently watched an episode of the Graham Norton Show and he had on a comedian named Jon Richardson.  This guy is so neurotic that he makes me feel normal.  He recently penned a book entitled It's Not Me, It's You which of course I immediately placed on my wish list.  Fortunately, I received it for Christmas and that's what I'm going to crack open next.  The book describes his quest to find his other half despite the fact that women are repelled by all of his eccentricities (and he is constantly disgusted by their complete lack of disregard for staying tidy).  I can't wait to deliver my take on it!

In the meantime, keep reading!