Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Kreutzer Sonata (and other short stories) by Leo Tolstoy


 This was my first little bit of Tolstoy that I've read.  I'm a HUGE fan of Dostoevsky and I knew I would love all kinds of Russian literature, so I was quite excited to get into this.  Each of the three stories was better than the last:





  • How Much Land Does A Man Need


  • The Death of Ivan Illych


  • The Kreutzer Sonata  (favorite!!)


All were very impressive and brought their point across nicely.  The day I finished it, I eyed my copy of War and Peace for a while, wondering when I should pick it up and hoping it would be very soon.  I still am.


Recommended, most definitely, but not for everyone.  The Kreutzer Sonata talks of a man who stabbed his wife to death, much due to jealousy; also underlying is the way beauty deceives and how easily we lie to ourselves.  How Much Land Does a Man Need deals with greed and uses Satan to personify it...very accurate if I do say so myself.  And The Death of Ivan Illych is about the life of a man who was ordinary,  thought he was extraordinary, and when he died realized the truth about himself.  There are a lot of struggles with hatred in these stories, which makes them more intense than I'd expected.  Absolutely worth reading.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

1/20-22/11



Miri, her father - who she calls Pa - and her sister Marda live on Mount Eskel, where the men and some of the women mine for linder, a precious rock the villagers often trade for goods from the Lowlands.  Miri, named after a flower, has always wanted to work in the quarry and harvest the linder, but her father won't let her.  Miri wonders what she can do to help the mountain, but there seems to be nothing she can do.


Then the Chief Delegate of the kingdom of Danland calls upon Mount Eskel, where he states that the priests of the creater god have declared that the prince's bride shall be found on Mount Eskel.  All the girls younger than the prince must go to the Princess Academy, where they will be trained in the lowlander ways.  The villagers protest to this at first, but after being threatened, they allow their daughters to go on the journey and be trained.


But life at the Princess Academy is not what Miri - or the other girls - expect.  Tutor Olana is cruel and unfair, and some the girls have no idea why they're here in the first place.  Who wants to marry a man they don't know?  And then there's Katar and her friends, whose competition makes everyone cringe.  Miri, after taking a book and teaching herself to read fluently, becomes more competition that she and the other girls would expect - and she begins to wonder what life in a palace in the Lowlands would be like.  Would it be enough to finally make some change on Mount Eskel?  Could she help the poor mountain and widen trade?  And what about Peder, her old friend back on the mountain?  What will he think of all this?  Time is running short, and the Academy Princess must be named.  Can Miri gain the title and catch the prince's eye?  But still, the neverending thought: Does she even want to?


____________________________________


This book turned out to be something completely different than I'd expected.  Different characters, different story, WAY different feel.  But I liked it.  It's cute, sweet, and fun.  It has adventure, love, friendship, and culture in it.  I was, at first, unsure about Miri's character and what her purpose was.  She isn't the most consistent character, but she's a strong one, and you love her to death throughout the book.  I thought there was a bit lacking when the girls first went to the Academy - what were they there for, really?  What were they learning?  How were they reacting to it?  It seemed a bit bland.  (I'm not a big fan of the names either...they were a bit weird.  But that's ok...I don't have to like everyone's names.  Haha!)


But then the story really begins to hit, and it's awesome.  Miri becomes more real.  The competition for the title of Academy Princess becomes heated, Olana is hated, and you begin to really become immersed in the culture of the story.  That was my favorite part of it.  Shannon Hale obviously put a lot of thought into the country and who the people were and where they lived and why they lived like they did.  It was as though it could be a real place, not just some fairy-tale land.


I really liked the idea of quarry-speech and thought it was original and fascinating.  I wish I could do what they did!  (You'll have to read the book to know what I mean...)


My favorite character is a tie between Peder and Britta.  Peder for his sweetness, sensitivity, and strength.  Britta for her kindness to Miri, her fascination with the mountain and its ways and culture and people, and just who she was throughout the story.


One word I would use to describe this story would be...  Shaped.  Despite what I felt was a rocky beginning, the middle and end were like a perfectly shaped diamond, exactly how you would want it to be.  It was three dimensional, it had originality, and it shone.  I literally squealed and giggled when I read the last chapter or so...it was happy and sweet and just wonderful.


Definitely recommended to those who love a good, original fairytale.  :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

1/10-19/11



William Monk doesn't remember his name.  He doesn't remember his life, his past, who he is and what he's like.  Those who know him tell him he's a detective with the police, but Monk can't remember having anything to do with the police.  In fact, he doesn't even remember his family, or his childhood.  When he looks in the mirror, he sees a stranger, not his own face.  But he must hide his lack of memory if he's  to discover who he is.  Life as a detective may give him some insight as to who he is.  But then he is put on the most difficult case - the case of Major Joscelin Grey, who has been beaten to death in his own appartment, and then further beaten after he was dead.  As Monk tries to hide his loss of memory, he must solve the two cases thrust upon him - Major Grey's as well as his own - at the cost of much more than anyone can fathom.


____________________________________________


I'm utterly impressed.  What a story - what characters - what a murder and a way to solve it.  I've read one other Anne Perry novel (Buckingham Palace Gardens) and was completely engrossed.  I expected to love this one....and boy, did I!


I'll start with the characters.  You know those characters that you love from the moment you meet them?  Well, here's one that I loved from page one...literally.  I loved him when he was waking in darkness, all alone, with no memory.  I wanted to be his friend, to see him well, to watch him build success after such an accident - such a downfall.  His name is William Monk.  All of Anne Perry's characters are very humanized, to say the least.  They all feel - love, hate.  They cry and laugh.  They all struggle with something deeper than the surface.  And while it is fascinating to see this in her other characters, with William Monk, it was a treat, a desert to be savored.  We watch him as he is seeing himself - as though for the first time, with no recollection of the past.  We are a part, from the very beginning, of his self-discovery.  We see what he sees, understand what he understands.  We are kept in the dark and we are captivated by the newness of Monk's life as it is to him, however old or young he may be.  The rest of Anne Perry's characters, while not seen from this angle and depth, are all so well drawn out that within a few sentences about them, you feel as though you know them, and yet you have a fascination to learn evern more.


I really enjoyed Evan's character as well, and the part he plays in the story.  He's a young, new detective who looks up to the brilliant William Monk with an innocence that makes him human.  As you watch Monk and the story unfolding, you also see what it's like to be a newbie detective in Victorian England.  Evan affected Monk's character in ways that I loved - but you'll have to read the book to see for yourself!


The story line here is interesting and quite original.  (There have been books about lost memories before, and there will be more, I'm sure, but this had something unique to it.)  While it fluctuates from being a page-turner to just your average mystery novel, it never lost my interest...not once.  And I never felt lost about what was going on.  Even with twists in the story and new additions of suspects and characters, I felt on top of the case and ready to kick some murderer-butt.


And then there is the writing....  It's smooth, like melted chocolate - and it tastes just as good.  She writes simply, elegantly, and with a class and style that is a God-given gift.  The quote that I posted last week is an example of her perfect and realistic descriptions.  I read this and I immediately cared for the woman she was describing - and I didn't even know her name.  (Her dialogue is also realistic and very intriguing.  It's very right for the time period.)


Oh, and the end...  Don't even get me started on how shocked and excited and nervous I got.


So would I recommend this book?  Yes: to anyone (probably older teen to adult) who can read.  It's captivating, realistic (that's another thing - Anne Perry doesn't hold back on her crimes, which is also the reason I recommend it to older teens), and intense.  And there's Monk - need I say more?  I think we've established this, by now, that he's my favorite character.  And one word I would use to describe this book:  exquisite.  (Like melted chocolate.)  This book is especially wonderful if you're looking for a mystery with the feel of Sherlock Holmes - except one that's longer and has more depth.  You'll get that...and a story that relies deeply on the patterns of human nature to solve crimes, which makes for a very interesting case.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Buys 1/14-21/11

I got an order in this week!!!  YAY! :)  I was so excited to get it that I pretty much jumped up and gasped with excitement every time I saw a UPS guy or my mom brought the mail in.  (Unfortunately it didn't even come in when I was home...)  It's one of the best feelings in the world to get a box of books in the mail.  LOVE it. :)

In the box:

  • My Fairy Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison  ($2.99)

  • A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn  ($2.99)

  • Two Girls of Gettysburg by Lisa Klein  ($3.99)

  • Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George  ($2.99)

  • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George  ($6.99 - hardcover, still a good price though; the rest are paperback)

  • Some giveaway stuff that I will not reveal the name of... ;)




Yesterday at the library I went into the bookstore and got:

  • The Overton Window by Glenn Beck  ($.50 - BOOYAH!  Paperback)




Last Friday, I went to the bookstore and got:

  • The boxed set of the Mark of the Lion trilogy....




A Voice in the Wind



An Echo in the Darkness (Attractive?  I think yes.)  :)



As Sure as the Dawn



I'm super excited about reading the ones above - and re-reading the trilogy!   SUCH amazing books!

Happy Friday and Happy Reading! :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner of the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop is.......

Tara W!!!


Find her at:  http://mizztara71.blogspot.com


Congratulations! :)


 


Thanks to everyone who participated - check back for more giveaways in the future! :)


What she won:


Monday, January 17, 2011

Humorous Stories and Sketches by Mark Twain



This is a collection of some of Mark Twain's short stories.  Until I got it in for school last year, I didn't know that he wrote short stories.  And I wasn't exactly looking forward to reading this - I'm not a big short story fan.  It has to be really really really good.  However, when I started it, I was pleasantly surprised and found that I enjoyed most of the stories.  Some I won't read again...Twain has never been a favorite author...but others were great and I'd love to read them at least once more.

The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

 The narrator asks a man named Simon Wheeler whether or not he could give him any information on a man named Reverend Leonidas W. Smiley; all he gets in return is a meaningless story about an inherent gambler named Jim Smiley who had a frog.

Journalism in Tennessee

A hilarious account of a journalist who moves to the south for the climate, and discovers that where he is working can be of no possible help to his health due to the ridiculous and humorous amount of violence that goes on between the journalists.  (One of my favorites...it made me laugh sooooo hard!  Totally unrealistic in the best of ways.)

About Barbers

The narrator gives the story of what happens every single time he goes to the barbers', and the extremely bad luck he has in getting a good shave.  (Another favorite...highly reommended.)

A Literary Nightmare

What happens when you read an extremely catchy tune and find it stuck in your head for a couple days?  The narrator of this story knows exactly the answer to that question - and only he knows the key to ridding yourself of the rhyme before it ruins your life forever.  (The other favorite.  LOVED this one.)

The Stolen White Elephant

The story of a man who was put in charge of Siam's White Elephant - and what happens when the elephant is stolen!  A  funny story of how one event leads to the other, and the detectives who tried to trace the elephant and what happened to them.

The Private History of a Campaign that Failed

This story is exactly what title describes:  A funny tale of some soldiers who fail miserably at war in general.

Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences

Twain's reasons to why Fenimore Cooper is not a good writer; he lists all the mistakes that Cooper makes in his works.

How to Tell a Story

Twain's thoughts and instructions on how to write a humorous story.

My favorite quote of this collection of stories is actually not from one of my favorites.  It's from How to Tell a Story.  "There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind - the humorous.  I will talk mainly about that one.  The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, and the witty story is French.  The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter."  (Page 70)  That statement is so true and puts a spin on the way you tell stories or write them - just had to share!

Anyways...  This was a great collection.  I wasn't expecting to enjoy it, but I was blessed with some great short stories.  Definitely read my three favorites, if anything.  (You can probably find them for free online.)  :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dream of Books Giveaway Hop!! Januaray 14th-17th!!

This giveaway is closed!







Dream of Books Giveaway Hop is hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer (click here to go to the giveaway page; click here to see the home page) and Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf (click here to see her home page).

You do not need to be an email subscriber, but it will give you an extra chance to win!


This giveaway is:




This copy has been read once and has been sitting on my shelf.  I loved it and want to share that love.  It is in perfect condition and has no tears, marks, or dirt, and still has a perfect dust jacket (it's a hardcover).  Read my review here!

To enter into this giveaway, click HERE and follow the


directions!




Good luck and be sure to check out all the other AMAZING giveaways HERE!


 

The Face of a Stranger, Quotes

When the last amen had been sung, Monk watched the people file out, hoping someone would touch his memory, or better still, actually speak to him.

He was about to give up even that when he saw a young woman in black, slender and of medium height, dark hair drawn softly back from a face almost luminous, dark eyes and fragile skin, mouth too generous and too big for it.  It was not a weak face, and yet it was one that could have moved easily to laughter, or tragedy.  There was a grace in the way she walked that compelled him to watch her.

As she drew level she became aware of him and turned.  Her eyes widened and she hesitated.  She drew in her breath as if to speak.

He waited, hope surging up inside him, and a ridiculous excitement, as if some exquisite realization were about to come.

Then the moment vanished; she seemed to regain mastery of herself, her chin lifted a little, and she picked up her skirt unnecessarily and continued on her way.

He went after her, but she was lost in a group of people, two of whom, also dressed in black, were obviously accompanying her.  One was a tall, fair man in his mid-thirties with smooth hair and a long-nosed, serious face; the other was a woman of unusual uprightness of carriage and features of remarkable character.  The three of them walked towards the street and waiting vehicles and none of them turned their heads again.

Monk rode home in a rage of confusion, fear, and wild, disturbing hope.

--  Chapter 3, Pages 68-69

Long for a quote, I know, but much too excellent to pass up!  I'm enjoying this book more than I'd expected to (and I am expecting a lot).  I love her deep understanding of human nature, and how her descriptions of facial features and expressions, and even clothes, help to connect the reader to the characters.

Happy reading! :)

Fair is the Rose by Liz Curtis Higgs

If you have not read Liz Curtis Higgs first novel in this series, I would not recommend reading this review due to spoilers from the first book.  If you would like to read the review for the first book, click here.


1/11/11 - 1/12/11




Jamie has been spoken to by God.  God has told him He will never forsake him.  And when the time comes, the Lord gives Jamie strength to do right by Leana, even if he does not love her.  But he is trying.  He is trying more than ever - and it appears to everyone that he is succeeding, much to Rose's dismay and heartbreak.  Her sister stole what was rightfully hers - her husband!  But just when things seem to be working out between Jamie and Leana - right when they fully become one and truly love each other the way they are supposed to - the unthinkable happens.

They will never be the same again.

____________________________________


I'm having a hard time feeling motivated to write this review.  It's a hard book to review when you don't know if you actually liked the book or not.  :/  But I will do my best.


I love Leana.  From the second half of the first book, she was my favorite character.  She had the love for God, the love for Jamie, and the heart to serve others.  I was amazed by her character and I wanted to be like her.  It was the same in this book.  And Jamie...he's a wonderful man.  Put to the test, he will stand by righteousness.  That's what I love about him.  But Rose...  Ugh.  Rose.  I really really reallllly did not like Rose in this story.  She was selfish, rude, did not hold her tongue, did stupid things throughout the story, and pretty much drove me up the wall.  Jamie realizes that he doesn't love her anymore, and sees this selfishness, but then that "unthinkable" thing happens and... Yah.


So, I'm not going to say what happens right here.  I'm going to write it below this review, so that whoever wishes to read it can, and those who don't want to can skip it.  What I will say is that I found it to be almost...perverse.  It not only made me boil with anger, and made me sick to my stomach, but it was inhumane, and totally unbelievable.  The characters believe that the elders in their church are good, Godly men, but the choice they make is anything but Godly.


Another thing is this:  if you're going to re-write a Bible story, please please please do it right!!!  I don't mind if you make certain changes as necessary, but if you choose an era to re-write the story in, and the original story is not believable in that time period, then PLEASE don't use it.  It makes no sense at all and it puts the author in a weird situation because then he/she must change the course of the story too much.


But there are really amazing things to this story as well.  Leana's character is one that I will always remember, even if I decide never to read these books again.  (Once I get the third one in and read a bit more about it, I'll make a decision on whether or not I like the series and would recommend it.)  Leana showed the most incredible peace and kindness and love and all the other fruits of the spirit in an incredibly difficult time in her life (any mother and wife who loves her children and husband would be horrified by what happens in this story).  It is a peace that can only come from God.  By that, I was amazed.  Another great thing about this story is the writing; Higgs knows how to work her words very well.  She's also an easy read.  I am not the fastest reader alive, and I am a senior in highschool - and I still found time to read this book in two days plus finish all my school.


So would I recommend?  I haven't decided yet.  I guess that depends on the outcome of the third book...which I'm not even really excited about reading.  I no longer care for the story, only to see what happens in the end.  I guess I will just have to see if the story grabs me again.  I'm disappointed... :(



SPOILERS! 


Don't read if you still want to read the book.  However, if you are curious about what I disliked about the book so much, this will give you a good insight before you make the journey yourself...if you decide to do so...


Jamie is shocked to hear that he is not actually married to Leana, but to Rose, due to a problem with the records.  The Reverend comes to him, explains the dilemma and how everything got mixed up, and tells him there's a way to fix it all.  They must sit before the Session and each person must tell his/her side of the story.  Rose says one thing that could possibly be against them; Jamie manages to cover it up well, but when Leana goes in, she believes that Rose has said more, and ends up telling them all about how she loved Jamie and thought maybe he loved her, and went and took Rose's place in his bed after the marriage ceremony.  The reason she does it?  Because she wants to be blameless before the Lord.  I agree 100% with that; in fact, I respected Leana's character sososososoooo much more because of it.  Her courage amazed me.  But it's what they do after that that makes me cringe.  First, they say that Leana must relenquish her place as Mistress McKie, and give that to Rose.  Then they take her son and give him to Rose.  And then they make her sit in front of the whole church audience for three weeks in a row, with unbound hair and in a simple white dress, and confess her sins.  And then they make Rose and Jamie get married not even a month later, if I remember correctly.  It is heartless, unthinkable, and totally not Biblical.  If a man and woman are married by practice, it doesn't freaking matter what the record says - change the record!  It's not that important!  So basically Jamie, who can do nothing to change this, must go from sleeping with one woman to another in three weeks.  No mourning period.  No time to wait for God to work on his heart.  Nothing.  (He ends up getting Rose pregnant, and trying to see the good in their forced marriage...I didn't feel that he mourned Leana enough.  Really, that is a major issue.  It seemed out of character for Jamie, and yet, it was good of him to seek peace in the Lord even in trials.  It just didn't seem realistic at all - but the story isn't really realistic in general...)  This deeply bothered me and the only reason why I'm not against recommending this series completely is because the third book may have some sort of redemption... I sincerely hope it does.

Magyk by Angie Sage



Summary from Goodreads:

The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?
The first book in this enthralling new series by Angie Sage leads readers on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters and magykal charms, potions, and spells. Magyk is an original story of lost and rediscovered identities, rich with humor and heart.

____________________________________________


I normally don't use Goodreads for summaries, but it was better than what I can think up right now... ;)


I really, truly adore this book.  It's got action, adventure, mystery, magic, and family love.  It's a book of laughs, gasps of excitement, and complete enjoyment.


Angie Sage is a talented writer; her style is geared toward a younger crew, but anyone would enjoy it.  And her ideas spark the imagination: her magyk potions and spells, her world that she has created, and her characters.


Now, I could probably write a whole book about each one of the characters in this series, what their part is, and why they are unique.  Honestly.  Each one has his or her own way of living, of speaking and thinking.  Each one is loveable (or hateable) in his or her own way.  My favorites were Boy 412 (he's just plain adorable), Nicko Heap (for his personality), and Marcia Overstrand (for her bossiness).


One word to describe this book would be: simple.  However - how Angie Sage manages to keep the story simple, and still make it intense and worth your while, I'm at a loss to say.  But I admire it, and I highly recommend it, to all ages and genders.  It's a perfect start to a really, really great series.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

If you haven't read Incarceron, then this review will contain spoilers...  If you are interested in these books, however, (and you should be!!!) I recommend that you read my review for Incarceron here.  (I've read it twice.  This link leads to the second review; however, I put a link to the first review on there so you can read both.)


1/1/11 - 1/9/11



Finn has Escaped from Incarceron, but is now living in another prison.  The gaudy clothes, the lights, the fake people who don't really believe he's Giles...  Even Claudia seems to be doubting him.  While he wants her to believe in his identity, he doesn't even believe it himself.  The fits still come, and he rants and rages about the smallest things.  Jared is dying; the medication only helps for a while, and then the pain comes back - worse.  The Queen is just as vicioius as before; even more so now.  She has tricks and schemes up her sleeves - Finn knows it, even if no one else does.


On the other side of reality, Attia and Keiro are still in the prison, fighting for their lives.  But now there's Rix involved, an insane man who believes he's the Dark Enchanter.  He is said to have possession of the Glove, Sapphique's Glove, the Prison's Glove.  The Glove that can get them out of here.  But how long can they follow Rix without being killed?  And the Prison itself... It's acting strangely.  It seems to be pulling away, focusing hard...


How can these two worlds connect?  Will there be a new way to travel between the worlds, now that the keys have disappeared with the Warden?  Can Finn remember his supposed past, and prove to everyone he is Giles?  And will Attia and Keiro find the Door that freed Sapphique from the Prison?


_____________________________


Oh.  My goodness.  Where to begin...


I loved everything about this book.  Literally, everything.  I can't think of one thing that I would even say was remotely uninteresting or slow or  bad or confusing.  Everything was perfect, set into place.  That's my one word description: perfect.  Ridiculously so.


Let me start with Jared.  Oh, how I love him.  I loved him in Incarceron, and my love grew in Sapphique.  He is my favorite in every way: who he is, his part in the story, everything he says and does and the way he thinks about things.  The way he feels for everyone around him, especially Claudia.  Gosh. :)


Claudia and Finn are another matter - both are feisty in their own manner, and yet both have the same vision against protocol for the kingdom.  The way they interacted together was just wonderful.  Their characters are absolutely complimentary for the purpose of the story.  Even if you can't picture them getting along well, Fisher makes it work in a way that is undeniably genius.  You know that if they live through this war with the Queen, they will be great rulers together.


One thing that I noticed in Sapphique that wasn't very prominent in Incarceron was Caspar's character:  Idiot.  Dunce.  Total follower and complainer.  Weak.  Vulnerable.  Pitiful.  (All of these in a slightly...humorous manner.)  While I knew he was some of these, his character was much more developed and delved into in Sapphique.  And I liked what I saw.  I laughed out loud at some of the things he said and did, and his character added so much more to the story.  He was a useful tool, one that added depth and life to the story.


And the writing...  I mean - who writes like Catherine Fisher?  She has the right phrases, the right dialogue, the right word choices.  It's all perfect, and it fits in a glorious, powerful pattern that creates an story that would, to anyone else, be hard to write.  A lot of other reviewers talk about how hard it was to write a review for Incarceron...can you imagine how hard it would be to write the actual book?  But Fisher has it down.


Combine the writing with the story line, and you get something that you don't see every day.  These books are full of raw, penetrating power.  Every sentence reflects this; and the story is real.  When I read it, it came alive.  I felt as though I lived there, that the Realm was real - that Incarceron really was alive.  That it existed somewhere, and I was a part of it.  The characters became my friends, and my enemies.  Their struggles became mine.  I fought alongside them.  And on top of that....  (Yes, there's even more!)  Catherine Fisher is the QUEEN of twists and cliff-hangers.  Wanna know how many I counted?  Ok, nevermind, I lost count...  But, if I'm being hoenst, there was at least one cliffhanger every chapter, and usually there was a twist, too.  Fisher manages to build up a whole world in only a few pages, where what you believe about it is so certain and firm and you think it can never be changed - and then with one sentence, one word, you discover that you were completely and utterly wrong.


Sound fascinating?  I think yes.


After this rollercoaster of a story, what did I think?  What did I feel?  What did I do?  When it was over, I felt whole.  It was incredibly perfect, how she finished off these powerful books.  The climax surpassed even my highest expectations (which, because of my love for Incarceron, were really high).  I had NO idea what she had planned for the end.  I actually cried during the last 20 pages.  I couldn't believe what had happened, and it was so emotional (for me, as I was totally attached to the characters) and just wonderful.  (And let's just say.......Jared.)  The last few pages just make your heart melt.  I was very pleased.  And I know I'll read it again - I'll probably read it many times.  It's one of those that you'll never get enough of.  At least, I know I won't.


Highly recommended, ages 15 to 100. :)


("B**ch" is repeated twice.  Other than that, it's only intense action and some violence that is something to look out for for younger readers.)

And the winner is...

New Year's Reading Resolutions

Using Random.org to randomly choose the winner of my giveaway (a part of the New Year's Resolution Giveaway Hop), the winner is:

Rebekah from Bookishly Bex - click here to see


her website!


Congratulations!  An email has been sent to notify you! :)


What she won:


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sapphique, Quotes

Here are some quotes that I've really really enjoyed from Sapphique.  I am utterly amazed by this book, continually.
"There are ways around it," Finn said softly.

"Not for us."  He pushed the pottery cups toward them.  "For the Queen maybe, because them that make the rules can break them, but not for the poor.  Era is no pretense for us, no playing at the past with all its edges softened.  It's real.  We have no skinwands, lad, none of the precious electricity or plastiglas.  The picturesque squalor the Queen likes to ride past in where we live.  You play at history.  We endure it."

- Chapter 15, Page 201
"The world is a chessboard, madam, on which we play out our ploys and follies.  You are the Queen, of course.  Your moves are the strongest.  For myself, I claim only to be a knight, advancing in a crooked progress.  Do we move ourselves, do you think, or does a great gloved hand place us on our squares?

-- Private Letter;  The Warden of Incarceron to Queen Sia

- Chapter 17, Page 218
She stared at the carved wood, then turned and walked quickly away through the crowd.  And like a whisper in her ear her father's voice came to her, coldly amused.  "Do you see them, Claudia?  Pieces on the chessboard.  How sad that only one can win the game."

- Chapter 17, Page 231

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Buys 12/31/10 - 1/07/10

Here's what I got in the mail this week:

  • The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

  • Dormia by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

  • Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

  • Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

  • Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

  • The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan


 



Bad picture...weird lighting.  :/



I freaking LOVE Sapphique.  200 pages into it, and I hope it keeps being this amazing.  :)

Happy Reading!

P.S. Finds for Friday is my new meme, in place of Mailbox Monday.  It seemed more logical to post my finds for the week at the end of the week, not the beginning... haha! :)

Gone for the weekend...

So, this weekend, from today (Friday) to tomorrow (Saturday), I'm going to the mountains, about an hour and a half north of San Diego, where I live.  (I'll be home Saturday night.)  I won't have a computer there, but I may have access to an iPhone.  If that's the case, I will hop on to my blog and approve your comments.  However, if your comments don't appear at all until late Saturday or early Sunday, it's because I couldn't get a hold of an iPhone, either.

On Monday, the winner of the New Year's Resolution Giveaway Hop will be announced.


To see the giveaway and enter, click HERE and follow the instructions!


 


See you Sunday! :)


Happy Reading!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Progress 2010 - Goals 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!  2011, here I come!  (Sorry this is a few days late...)

Remember my first Progress post??  Well, here are the finished results.... :)

My goal at the beginning of the year was to read 62 books in 2010, to beat the 61 that I read in 2009.

I hit 62 books on November 17th, when I finished The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette by Carolyn Meyer.  (A fantastic book, by the way; read the review here.)

But total, in 2010, from January 1st to December 31st, I read 69 books!

Not a record, but still awesome, and I beat my goal by 7 books.  (In 2004, I read a total of 112 books...easy books, yes, but that was the start of my passion for reading.)  I'm shooting for 63 books this year.  We'll see what happens...

That brings to me to something I've been waiting to write about for a while...  My curriculum.  Yes, I'm creating a curriculum.  Sounds like insanity, doesn't it?  Sometimes I think I'm a crazy person for taking on this madness, and yet I love it.  I will be updating you all with posts to let you know what is going on.  My "What Am I Reading"  page (see here) will update you every time I'm reading a book for the curriculum as I'm making it.  And the posts will let you know little details that I decide to let slip... :)

I am very, very excited to do this.  All of it.  The reading 63 books, the curriculum, the writing, the graduating, traveling, going to a community college, photography, teaching...  It's going to be a journey, just like last year, just like the rest of the years before and behind me.  I live a very, very good life, and I'm blessed.

So, until my next blog post, happy reading! :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Book Giveaway!!! - Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

This giveaway is now closed!


New Year's Reading Resolutions

This giveaway blog hop is hosted by Candace's Book Blog - here.


From January 3rd (that's tomorrow!) to January 9th, you have the chance to comment - to win this wonderful book, Aurelia by Anne Osterlund.  It was one of my favorite books of 2010.  Read my review here.

Starting tomorrow when you comment, write what is your favorite mystery (short story, novel, anything) and who wrote it.  Your name will then be tossed into the hat, and mixed around with the other names.  The winner's name will be announced on the 10th!!  If you'd like a greater chance of winning, post the link onto your facebook wall and let me know via comment, and your name will be added a second time.

Happy Reading! :)

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund


 

Robert Vantauge remembers Aurelia, and although she's older and even more beautiful now, she hasn't changed much.  She was once the troublemaking classmate he knew years ago, and now she's the mischevious princess he saw mingling with the crowd at the ball.  She was so charming - why would anyone be out to kill her?  Sent to Tyralt's castle to protect the princess and solve the mystery of who has been trying to take Aurelia's life, Robert must play a game of deceit and keep the truth away from Aurelia, all the while studying the attempted murders and trying to figure out who did it.  But the princess is smart and could figure it out in a moment.  And what of their friendship, slowly forming into something that could be more?   Time is running out.  The threats are becoming more violent, more real, to Robert and to Aurelia.  And Robert knows he can't let Aurelia go - she's much too precious to him to let him make even the smallest of mistakes.

___________________________


I LOVED this book.  LOVED.  It was written well, developed well, and ended well.  It had character, meaning, and life to it.  The characters were all realistic and, well, loveable.  Everything about this book is loveable.  And it is also mysterious, dangerous, and full of action.  AND it is clean.  Which makes things even more wonderful.  I read the book in two days, most of it in one morning.  I was intrigued, excited, and having too much fun reading it.

And who doesn't love a book that is just too much fun?  ;)

One word to describe this book:  Yes, I've already said it...loveable. :)

Favorite character:  Too hard to decide...  Robert and Aurealia were both amazing, but so were Chris and Drew.  But, if I had to pick....Robert.

I highly recommend this book to anyone.  Really!  No exceptions (which there normally are).

Exile is book #2...and guess what?  I'm excited.  Can you tell?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Favorite Books of 2010 - Updated!

Whoops!  Forgot The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan... Silly me.  Well, here you go! :)

Here is my Top Favorite Books of 2010 list!! :)

These are not in order.  I could never pick which I like over the others.  They are all different - each one is original in its own right.  And yet they're all the same - each one was completely and utterly fascinating.

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 100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire, The Chestnut King


By the absolutely incredible genius N. D. Wilson.  See his wesbite here


I'm stupid because I haven't written a review on these yet.  So that means I need to read them again.  Which shouldn't be any problem, because I love them so, so, soooo much!


 


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Another by N. D. Wilson.  And yet another that I need to write a review on.


Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl 



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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas


Still need to write a review for this one...



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Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini


What a story...  READ! :)



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The amazing Incarceron


Review


 


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LOVE THIS ONE!!! :)  James Barrie was absolutely amazing... period.  End of story.   (review)



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The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan  (Review)



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Aurelia by Anne Osterlund  (review time!  this might actually be one of my next reviews!  And book 2, Exile, comes out in April!!!)



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The Roar by Emma Clayton  (Book two, The Whisper, is hopefully coming out this fall!)



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Fahreheit 451 by the esteemed Ray Bradbury



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Sylvie and the Songman by Tim Binding  (review)



I just realized that when I started this blog, the year was already half-way over and in full swing.  That's why a lot of these books don't have reviews.  But that's going to change.  Now I know which ones NEED to be reviewed, because they hold a special place in 2010 reading. :)


Runners up:

  Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George  (review)

  Airman by Eoin Colfer  (review)

  The Princetta by Anne-Laure Bondoux  (review)

Happy Reading!! :)  And a Happy New Year!

Inarceron (re-read)

Read my first review,  here.  This is what I thought the first time.

Now that I've read it twice, my positive feelings for this book have only grown stronger.  Something that's a big deal for me in the literature world is reading a book twice in one year.  Due to the amount of books that I read and the time I spend on them, plus blogging and writing, I don't have a whole lot of time to read and re-read and re-re-read.  Plus, if I've just read a book six months before, I usually still remember the story well enough to not need a reminder.

So I know a book is really really, really good if I can read it twice in one year without second thought.  Scarmouche (Rafael Sabatini, a favorite classic and author) was one, and now IncarceronIncarceron has officially flown up the scale of favorite books, placing itself in my favorite books of all time.  Original and one of my favrorite writing styles, it takes you out of the world you feel is "normal", and gives you a good, long, and thought provoking look at two lives that must endure the strangest kinds of struggles - all in a world that anyone would long to live in while looking from the outside.  But on the inside, coming from the people who made it what it is, it is foul and unruly, and those ruling it are only thirsty for power.

Also, Catherine Fisher knows her story.  She knows her characters, the worlds they live in, and she's confident about it.  When I'm reading it I can almost smell the air, touch the characters, sense danger and feel comfort and safety.  Because Catherine Fisher knows her world.  She knows her story.  And because of this bold confidence, so can we, in the deepest ways.

It is the story of a boy who is struggling for freedom in a hopeless, wicked world.  And it is the story of a girl who is struggling for freedom in a completely different hopeless, wicked world.

It is powerful.

It is alive.

It is Incarceron.

(Oh, and just for the record...  Jared is still my favorite character. :)  While last time he was only my favorite character, and that I would want to meet him, now he's my favorite character and I'd want to marry him.  Haha!  I've definitely fallen in love the second time around...  As for the other characters, they were all even more lively than before, especially Finn.  Finn took on a greater, more prominent role this time around, for some reason.  He was more real to me than ever before.  I could picture him perfectly, as though he was standing before me.)