Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Buys 4/15/11 - 4/29/11

I know, I know.  I said I wasn't going to buy a lot due to lack of mulah...  And while this may seem like so many books, it wasn't expensive.  The total was less than $10.00, actually.  Actually, it was all $10.00 with three vintage records I bought.  Booyah! ;)

Ophelia by Lisa Klein
Once more I am trying my hand with Klein.  I liked Two Girls of Gettysburg, but ended up giving it away because it wasn't that important to me.  But when I saw this for $1.00, I couldn't pass it up, not for a hardcover in really good condition.  We'll see what I think...


The Palace Beautiful
A vintage book that I LOVE.  Look at how gorgeous it is!!!  And the side, with the vines...  Sheesh, so awesome!  I'd say it's published 1890's, due to the wear and tear and the type of binding it has.
This, for 25 cents.




Jo's Boy and Little Men
I think they're 1930's, but I can't be sure.  I loved Little Men and hope to someday soon read Jo's Boys.  50 cents each.



The Scarlet Pimpernel...  or, Pimpernela Escarlata
Because I'm a foreign language freak, I just couldn't pass this one up.  It was a little more expensive (around $4.00), but it is a beautiful copy from the 1960's in great condition.  I'm in my third year of Spanish (and first year of French!) and found that I was able to understand more than I expected when I tried to read this book (not a lot, but enough to make me happy).  And I own it, meaning that I can pick it up and attempt to read this wonderful story in Spanish any time I want to. ;)  Oh, I'm such a geek.


Love's Labor's Lost by Shakespeare
While Shakespeare isn't my favorite, I couldn't help but pick up this adorable copy for 25 cents.  I mean, really, the art is just so stinking cute, and the green...and yah.  I love its cuteness. ;)


Rhetoric
I almost didn't buy this book.  My mom talked me into it, and I'm so happy that I spent $1.00!  It's an old Rhetoric text book, with lots of notes and stuff inside.  I haven't been able to study the contents much yet (I'm a bit afraid to; it's from 1891), but it looks super duper interesting.  And I'm sure, at one point in time, it was a beautiful book.  I want to somehow restore it!




What did you all buy this week/get at the library/receive for review?  Link to your posts or just write it down in the comments!
Happy reading! :D

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Do YOU have $9.00?

....If so - you need to go spend it on this:


But ONLY if you've read:


And if you haven't read Aurelia, hopefully you have $18.00.  Because, really, you should buy both.

I'm ecstatic right now.  The lovely Anne Osterlund has written some amazing books here, and I want you all to go and enjoy their awesomeness!  Today is Exile's release date and I'm on my toes!  I have a copy (I received an ARC), but if you all don't have a copy, then what's the point?  Go. Buy. These. Books!

Where to buy them???
Barnes and Noble:
Aurelia
Exile

Amazon:
Aurelia
Exile

If you haven't read my reviews on these two lovely books, then click on the links below:
Aurelia
Exile

Seriously.  Add these books to your TBR and make the purchase.  You won't regret it!! ;)

Oh, and while you're at it - don't miss this wonderfully well-timed opportunity to go follow Anne Osterlund's fantastically witty blog.  I quite enjoy myself over there and think you all will, too! ;)

Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guest Review of "Cloaked" - at Basically Amazing Books for FTF

Here's another guest post that I wrote - except this time it's over at Ashley's at -


Check it out!  And thanks so much Ashley for hosting me on  your blog - and Misty for hosting me a couple of days ago!  (See the other guest post at Book Rat.)  It was so much fun!

:D

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review of "A Kiss in Time" - at The Book Rat for FTF

Want to read my guest review for A Kiss in Time?

You can find it at Book Rat!

My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison

Read my review for Rallison's first book in this series:

My Fair Godmother


When Tansy's father divorces her mother and moves away, Tansy does everything she can to anger her father.  She answers his questions during their phone calls with monosyllables and stops reading novels, because that had been their "thing".  When she has to move to Arizona to live with her father, she does the most rebellious thing yet - she starts dating high school's bad boy, Bo.  Bo seems like a great catch, and Tansy believes he's just misunderstood.  But when a date-turned-wrong (that wasn't actually her fault) ends in vandalism and a trip to the police station, Tansy is drowning in an ocean of trouble, and she doesn't know how to get out of it.
Enter Chrysanthemum Everstar.  She's a fair godmother - not good enough to be a fairy godmother.  She's been here before (taking care of the lives of pathetic mortals), and there are a whole lot of other places she'd rather be.  She pushes Tansy to make her first wish - and everything goes wrong.  It's the start of a chain reaction that may or may not be good for Tansy.  There's Robin Hood and his Merry Men (a.k.a. runaway bandits and the city's most wanted criminals) and Rumpelstiltskin in the mix, as well as Hudson, the police chief's beautiful and smart son (who may or may not be into Tansy).
In this one heck of a fairytale, not everything is what it seems, and Tansy must learn the moral of her story before she can ever have hope of getting herself and her family safely home.

___________________________________________________

My thoughts -
I wasn't quite sure if it was possible.  I didn't know where Rallison was going to go with this book, and while I was sure it was going to be great, I didn't exactly know how great.  My Fair Godmother was an exceptional piece of literature - serious, light, fluffy, adventurous, dangerous, funny, and romantic, all in one book - and I didn't think she could do it again.

HA!  I laugh at my own stupidity.  To think she couldn't do it again - and then to find that she has done it better.  Yes.  You read correctly - better.

My Unfair Godmother was a little darker, had a bit more action, just as much mystery, and a lot more emotion.  It was packed.  Never once was I bored or wishing it was more like My Fair Godmother.  It was completely and utterly its own book, and I must say that while My Fair Godmother is still a favorite, this second addition to Chrissy's wish-granting adventures was even more memorable.

Character notes -
Tansy...oh, where to begin with this girl?  I loved her from the start - cared for her, wanted her to succeed, winced when she got herself into trouble.  She's trying to get back at her father for leaving them, but instead finds herself in a mess that could've been avoided.  The amount of character change that happens to Tansy is realistic and wonderful.

And Hudson.  Oh, Hudson.  I have a thing for men in uniform, and while Hudson doesn't exactly work for the police, he does...in a way.  And he is, without a doubt, the epitome of manliness (and he's a senior in high school - does it get any better for us young girls?).  Strong, handsome, broad shoulders, smart, probably knows how to handle a gun...  He's got his faults, too, and this only made me love him more, because what realistic guy is perfect?  Hudson fit perfectly into this story - even his actions in the past had an impact on Tansy and the book's turnout.  The way he and Tansy interact is perfect as well.  Their fights are hilarious and the whole product of their friendship gave me butterflies.

Rumpelstiltskin.  Let's just say, he had me shivering.  I've always wanted to read more about his fairy tale, and I was not disappointed.  He was evil, ruthless, and had a heart of stone.

I also liked Nick, Tansy's half brother.  He is a sweet boy who cares about Tansy, even when she has a bad attitude.  And this time around, Chrissy was altogether more likable (in my opinion) and she had a much greater impact on the story.

Story notes -
Like I said before, this story is darker than the last, and has its own fuel to keep it going.  The way Rallison weaves in fairy tales with modern times and actual events in the Middle Ages is just genius.  Everything fell together smoothly and with a grand finale at the end that had my jaw dropping.

There were so many scenes that stood out to me (such as when Robin Hood and his Merry Men first meet Tansy, or when Tansy receives the heart), but my absolute favorites include any of the scenes involving the baby.  If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that my #1 goals in life are to be a wife and mother.  So when a baby was brought into this story and it tugged at Tansy's heart, my own heart did a little dance and I giggled happily and squealed and just in general couldn't stop smiling.  I can't tell you anything else, but just know that this was what made the book more amazing to me than the first one.  (My favorite scene would have to be the "I'm not into you" flaming hair-do scene.  Don't ask - just go read.  It had me bursting with laughter.)

One word to sum it up (and final thoughts) -
Golden.  This book is pure gold (considering its contents revolve around turning straw to gold, I'd say this is spot-on) and I don't want any of you to miss out on reading it, or its companion.  Please, go buy this book.  Right now.  Read it (and the first one!) and then put it on your shelf and/or share it with your friends (if you can bear to let it go) and read it again and again and again.  It really is one of the best.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Fair Godmother Giveaway - FTF

I'm sponsoring another giveaway - My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison (click on the title to read my review)!  Check out the giveaway -

Basically Amazing Books


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Giveaway for FTF - Jessica Day George prize pack!

Wanna win some awesome Jessica Day George books for Fairy Tale Fortnight (hosted by Book Rat and Basically Amazing Books)?  Princess of the Midnight Ball, Princess of Glass, and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow (all brand new paperbacks) are up for grabs in a prize pack!!  Check out this giveaway at either:

Book Rat

OR...

Basically Amazing Books

Enjoy, and check out the rest of Fairy Tale Fortnight here or here!  (One more week of its goodness!)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Steel by Carrie Vaughn


Jill has always been good with a blade.  Or, at least a fake one.  She has practiced and competed for a long time - but now, when she has her biggest opportunity yet, she misses it.  By a half a second.  After, Jill is doomed to wallow in her self pity on an island in the Bahamas.  What she finds there, however, is remarkable: the tip of a rapier, rusted and damaged and old.  She pockets it, but after a strong wave on a boat ride pushes her into the water, Jill finds herself in a completely different world:  one of pirates, magic, and swashbuckling adventure.  And Jill has reason to believe that only the broken blade can return her home again.

________________________________________________

My thoughts -
I liked this book.  It didn't shock me or wow me or bring me to tears.  It didn't carry me on the waves of love or hate or disgust or longing.  This story has a strong atmosphere - but that's about it.  I enjoyed the feeling of waves beneath me, being the only ship for hundreds of miles in a vast and unpredictable see, the salty sea-spray that was constantly in the air...  But it lacked action, determination, and characters to attach myself to.  I wasn't longing for more when I set the book down; I was actually happy it was over, as I'd started to feel the pages slowly creeping past, counting the amount left until it'd be over.

Character notes -
Jill is a sweet girl and she does have a goal in life, but she fell a little flat for me.  I felt like I couldn't see things from her eyes.  I've heard this before and I'm going to reiterate it - I think I would have been immensely more attached to this novel if it had been told in first person.  It needed that connection; without it, the book lacked.  (Again, I didn't hate this book.  I actually liked it to a certain extent.  It just wasn't incredible or even great literature.  Just good.)

Henry, Abe, Jenks, and the rest of the crew was very flat as well.  I really like Marjory Cooper and Edmund Blane, mainly because of the tragedy behind their story.  They added a dynamic to Jill's story that made it much more lively than it would have been without them.

Story notes -
The story was just...eh.  I loved the atmosphere, the way Vaughn described life on a ship, but I felt like that's all I read for the whole book.  Until the last thirty pages.  And when it comes time to leave the ship, Jill's reaction to her goodbyes is just...bland.  I would not be that "ok" with everything going on.

Oh, and there is no romance.  I wasn't expecting any because of what I'd read in reviews, and I think I should give everyone a warning.  I actually liked that there wasn't a romance in this book...but when Jill kisses Henry randomly (after it has been hinted that Henry likes Jill and Jill's feelings have not been hinted at), all I could say was. "Whaaaaaat?"  Definitely not good story telling.  If there had been something suggested between them beforehand, on both sides, it would have been cute.  But no.

I also enjoyed the fencing aspects of this story.  I've never read a novel with so much revolving around swords and how to use them, so that was interesting.

One word to sum it up (final thoughts) -
Forgettable.  Because, unfortunately, I'm already forgetting.  I've moved on to the next book(s), and as Steel made no lasting impression on me, I can't imagine myself ever even really thinking about it again.  I wish there had been more to this story.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


Jean Louise (Scout) Finch is the feistiest girl in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930's.  She's six years old and doesn't care to be a lady. She wants to wear pants all her life and mess around with her older brother Jem and their friend, Dill, who visits every summer.  To Kill a Mockingbird spans over a couple years of Scout's life, during which she becomes engaged to Dill, attempts to befriend a reclusive neighbor - and, most importantly, witnesses a trial during which a young black man is accused of raping a poor young white girl.  These events are seen from the young, questioning eyes of a little girl who wants to understand.  It is heart-breaking, eye-opening, and a book that everyone should take the time to devour.

_______________________________________________

My thoughts -
This is my first time reading To Kill a Mockingbird (people have looked at me, shocked, for saying that), and not only can I say that I've read it, but I can also say that I loved it.

I was quite moved by this story.  Moved to laughter, moved to sorrow, moved to anger, moved to love.  I was inspired by this little girl Jean Louise who saw the world so innocently.  I wanted to be like her.  I want to be like her.  She was precious to read about.

Character notes -
Scout Finch has a sarcasm that's hard to miss.  It adds life to the story and made me laugh.  She's one smart little seven-year-old.  She understands most things - and when she doesn't she asks questions.  Questions that made me think.  Questions that seven-year-olds now would never think to ask.  Scout is also a deep thinker, pondering the world in that innocent light that she views everything.

She loves her family.  She has a heart for her brother...wants to do everything to be like him.  When he starts to grow up, she doesn't understand it, but she tries her hardest.  Because she loves him.
And she loves her father, too.  Oh boy, their relationship tugged at my heart more than anything else in this story.  Atticus Finch is older, has no wife, and would be lonely but for his lovely children.  Scout and Jem mean everything him, and he means everything to them, even when they would like to say otherwise.  Atticus very easily became my favorite character - for his bravery, his selflessness, his humility, and his desire to do what is right...at all costs.

Story notes -
This story is well told from the first word to the last.  It weaves in family troubles, characters being built, the culture in the south in that time of history, the town's trials and triumphs, strange neighbors, unlikely friends...  All of this is seen through the eyes of an observant six/seven/eight year old, and I can't imagine it any other way.  It was the perfect touch for the story's progression.

Speaking of the progression...it was slow.  But not in an "I'm bored, please get me out of here" way, but in a languid, beautiful, floating way.  It was a current, slow and constant, and it pulled me along until we reached the shore, where I sat, watching the tide drifting away, knowing that I would never forget that experience.

When I first started reading this book, I expected it to be mainly about the rape trial.  While I was at first confused that it wasn't, I couldn't stay confused for long.  The depth and intense character development in the rest of the story led up to the trial and its outcome - and even events after the trial.

One word I'd use to sum up this novel (final thoughts) -
Eager.  Because while the whole town is languid, underneath the surface a passion is stirring - and it is seen in Atticus and his bravery; Miss Maudie and her garden; Jem and his desire to be like his father; Tom Robinson and his innocent friendship with the poor white girl; and little Scout, who cannot get enough of her world, and who won't let it fly by without having a word or two with it.  This really is one exceptional story.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (Book #2)

Here is my review for the first book:
  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone



It is Harry Potter's 12th birthday, and no one is there to celebrate with him.  The Dursley's don't remember a thing, and why should they care?  But what's bothering Harry most is that Ron and Hermione haven't written him all summer - and now he's stuck in his cupboard room, trying to keep quiet.
That night, however, he is visited by a strange little elf named Dobby, who has a secret.  He tells Harry not to go back to Hogwarts - if he does, his life will be in great danger.  When Ron, Fred, and George Weasley break Harry out of his locked room, they lose Dobby and Harry forgets all thoughts of what the elf was trying to warn him about....until even stranger things happen.  The entrance to the train stop to go to Hogwarts won't allow them through, there's a voice that only Harry hears, and there's writing on the wall about the Chamber of Secrets being open.
But when someone - or something - starts Petrifying students, and Harry's reputation is on the line, he, Ron, and Hermione must investigate the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets and discover who is behind these dreadful attacks...before the monster can strike again - and this time kill.

______________________________________________

My thoughts -
I love this book!  I'm so happy to be further into the series now and I can't wait to read book #3!  There is so much to love about this book...  The fun characters, the original atmosphere, and the well-built story.  This is quality literature and I'm definitely a fan.

Character notes -
These characters are just so wonderful.  From Harry Potter himself to his best friends to Colin Creevy to Draco Malfoy - they all have something to offer.  My personal favorites include Fred and George, the mischievous Weasley twins who never fail to make me laugh.  But then, why not mention the whole family?  I like Percy and how brooding he is but part of me says I shouldn't trust him; Mr. Weasley's curiosity of Muggle's and their lives is hilarious; Mrs. Weasley has a loud voice and a temper, but a kind heart and you can't help loving her; Ron is just adorable with his fiery red hair; and Ginny made quite a debut in this story!

While Harry isn't my favorite character ever, I do like him, and he made more of an impact on me in the second book than the first.  I love how, when the story came to an end, he and all the rest of the characters had grown a little more - showing off Rowling's smooth development skills and making me smile with delight.

Story notes -
If I had to pick between this book and the first, I'd say this one.  It immersed me more into the whole Voldemort/Harry war, was better written, and had a bit older feel (after all, Harry is a second year)...but all the while it kept to the same lightheartedness that I loved about the first one.  The atmosphere is any author's dream for his or her story.  I laughed at all the street names, shop names, and even the names of people (Gilderoy Lockhart, for one).  I cringed when I thought of what could happen to the students if the monster of the Chamber of Secrets was let loose on Hogwarts.  I rooted for Harry and Ron and felt bad for the bullied kids. I despised a few certain Malfoy characters (who doesn't?), and, when the climax came around and the twists were revealed, my jaw dropped and I gasped.  I hadn't been expecting anything near what I got - and I was so pleased with the results.  Good, satisfying storytelling.

One word to sum up this book (final thoughts) -
Can I be cheesy here?  My one word description for this lovely book would have to be charming.  Quite literally.  I was charmed into their world and didn't want to be let go!  It's a good thing there are five books left for me to read, and that they're quite long, too.  I'm pleased.  I had the notion, when The Chamber of Secrets was just beginning, that J. K. Rowling could write a bunch of nonsense about wizards and witches and potions and funny shops and malfunctioning wands and ghosts and I'd still be fascinated...  Can't wait for the next book, The Prisoner of Azkaban!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

Mariah Aubrey has made a terrible mistake.  Her father has kicked her out of the house, and now her only sanctuary is the Gatehouse at her aunt's estate.  When she and her companion, Miss Dixon, move in, they expect to be left to themselves.  But when Mariah's aunt passes away, she leaves a secret - one that her stepson Hugh will do anything to discover.  And when Hugh lets the main house to a naval Captain of great wealth, Mariah has yet another reason to guard her heart.  But there are mysteries about the Gatehouse, and the poorhouse that can be seen from Mariah's window.  It will take all her courage to solve these mysteries - and to make sure she does not lose her heart.  Again.
__________________________________________

My thoughts -
I seriously wanted to like this book.  I had heard amazing things about it and, knowing it is a love story and I am a sucker for love stories, I was so excited to dive in.
When I did, I was met with:  an unexpectedly low pace; major character inconsistencies; a really weird atmosphere that didn't match up at all with the time period; modern dialogue; stupid, inconsistent emotions, or too much exaggerated emotion; and a whole lot of waiting...and waiting...and waiting.

Character notes -
I honestly felt no real or lasting respect, love, or sympathy for these characters.  At times I would find myself going, "Aw, how cute!" or "Oooh that's intense."  But most of the time I felt:  "What?  He just said that?"  or  "He was just displaying a totally different emotion and then without notice or reason, BAM he's different."  One moment, Jeremiah Martin was a mysterious, weird character who you didn't know if you could trust.  The next, he was a guest in Mariah's gatehouse because her aunt had left him to her as a manservant.  But more than that - she suddenly trusts him!

All the characters acted either overly dramatic or really bland about things.  Captain Matthew Bryant was, of all of them, the most steady/likable character, but even he acted out of character.  I admired him some of the time, and then other times could care less about what happens to him.

Story notes -
This is not a well-developed story.  Inconsistencies are everywhere.  There are a few loose ends that I wish had been tied up, but even worse - there are loose beginnings!  Example:  Halfway through the book, two characters started talking about a conversation that I felt like I was supposed to know about but that I never read.  I was dreadfully confused.  A lot of the story seemed forced, unnatural - like Julie Klassen just had to make it all work.  I know what that feels like/looks like in my own work sometimes and I saw that issue clearly all throughout this story.

The love story progressed slowly (a little bit too slowly), but it was probably the most stable aspect of the story.  And still there were inconsistencies to it...  Like, big ones, such as - why is Bryant attracted to Mariah?  They hardly even knew each other, and Bryant had only heard terrible things about her.  It was a bit clearer toward the end, but not satisfactory.

One word to sum up this book (and final thoughts) -
Inconsistent.  I've used this word many times in this review, and honestly that's the only word that comes to mind.  That and weird.  I'm definitely going to get rid of this book now...it's taking up space on my bookshelves where really good favorites could be.  I'm so disappointed in this book and don't even have the desire to try out Klassen's other books, for fear of falling into yet another under-developed, slightly stupid story.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Buys 4/2/11 - 4/15/11

This is the list of books I bought these last two weeks! :)

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
A really good friend has been telling me to read this series for about six months now...  I've been waiting for the first book to come in at the library for a long time but now I don't have to wait, and I can read it whenever my schedule allows!


Delirium by Lauren Oliver
GAH!  So if you read my review of this book, you know how much I love it.  I had an order going on Amazon already so I added this book the same day I finished it and ordered.  I'm so glad I did.  I thought it was a beautiful book before I read it, but now I think it's even more amazing because of the contents.  And look at it without the dust jacket!  I never even knew, and I think it's such a beautiful picture!



My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison
Love this book!  (Read my review.)  I had it in paperback but loved it so much I had to have the lasting hardcover. :)


My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison
Eeekk!!  I'm so excited to read the second book about Chrissy Everstar's wild adventures! :)
(I think I like this cover even better than the first...what do you think?)


Waterfall by Lisa T Bergren
I've heard only GREAT about this book.  Clean romance that still makes your heart pound, action that keeps you fascinated, a feud between two Italian families (a little bit of political intrigue always gets me!), and deep characters to meditate on.  Definitely a buyer - and I haven't even read it! :)


And here they all are, all wonderful looking! :)


For the next couple of months, I doubt I'll be buying much...so you may not get a Friday Buys for a couple months.  Moving, birthdays, vacations, and the like will all keep me from spending money on books.  I'm kinda glad though...my shelves are bending under the intense weight! ;)
Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg


At Longbourn Academy, nothing is so highly esteemed as Prom.  Prom, prom, prom - it's the most important event of the year, and if you don't go, you must have died in the night.  Or you'll just have to live with a really bad reputation.
Lizzie Bennet doesn't plan on going to prom.  Her reputation is already looking like a smashed bug.  The first week at Longbourn, someone slushed a strawberry smoothie into her face.  But at least she has two friends - Charlotte, the bookworm friend who doesn't really like parties; and Jane, her perfectly kind and adorable roommate who loves Lizzie just like she is.
You see, Lizzie is a scholarship student at the Academy, which has 99% spoiled, filthy rich brats as its inhabitants.  And right across the way is Pemberly Academy, for the boys.  It's the same deal.
But when Charles Bingley, the adorably sweet guy from Pemberly begins to really like Jane, Lizzie is introduced to his snotty sister Caroline, and his best friend, Will Darcy.  Will Darcy is proud and doesn't like scholarship students...he's just like everyone else.  Or is he?
But when scandal hits Longbourn and Pemberly for the second time in just as many years - between Jane's sister Lydia and ex-Pemberly bad boy Wick - Lizzie must overcome her prejudices against Darcy to help Lydia, or else who she thought Darcy was before will color her depiction of him forever.

________________________________________

My thoughts -
How cute!  I wasn't sure what to be expecting from this book, but I quite enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.  It wasn't as polished or detailed as I was hoping - the writing was a bit plain for my taste - but nevertheless it was so fun and sweet and innocent and I will definitely be reading it again!

Character notes -
I felt a really strong connection with Lizzie.  If I was in her situation, I would have done the same exact thing and felt the same way.  And while I didn't always admire her choices (choices I myself would have made), I admired her as a person and loved the way she was always genuinely caring for people, even if she was a bit wary at first.

Darcy...  Yes, I absolutely loved this teenage portrayal of Mr. Darcy.  He was the clearest character to picture and the best developed.  I felt like I did was reading the original and/or watching the movies:  I was interested in him, then disliked him, then I hated his guts...then I felt sorry for him.  And then - I loved him!!  At first, I felt like he laughed a little too much and showed a bit too much emotion for Mr. Darcy, but it fell in easily with his character and I love the direction Elizabeth Eulberg took it.  His and Lizzie's interactions as the lead roles were absolutely perfect and fitting for the story.  Their relationship was handled with care and their fights, irritation, and then love for each other was pulled off without fault.  (Darcy is by far my favorite character.)

As for the other characters...  Jane and Charles are almost exactly like their originals.  I found Caroline to be really super annoying...like the original, but...not.  I liked certain scenes she was in (like the cabin scenes), but most of the time she was just annoying.  Cat de Bourgh was...weird.  Collins was hilarious and Charlotte was a sweetie.  And Wick...  I liked his character (and hated...), but his nickname really really really bothered  me.  It would have been better if they had called him George.  Or "G".  Anything.  Anything but Wick.  Ugh - for some reason it just bugs me!

Story notes -
Prom and Prejudice was very closely related to Pride and Prejudice, of course, but I really liked the original way Eulberg pulled it off.  I was surprised as though I was reading the story for the first time.  I think she might have switched around the order of certain things (just a tiny bit, not enough to really notice), and she added some really neat surprises - my jaw actually dropped and I squealed at one of them!  The story was fairly smooth.  I loved that all of my favorite scenes were kept - and I totally felt the right emotions at the right times.  (Mr. Collins proposal, Mr. Darcy's letter, a lot of his and Lizzie's fights... They were all there!)

Some of the dialogue lacks strength, bu this was easily overlooked.

The only thing that confused me (and only at first) was where the story took place.  Like, England?  That's what it felt like.  But no, it keeps referencing to East Coast places.  So, it's on the East Coast.  But I was a little confused as to what city.  Not that it mattered much...I just couldn't figure it out.

Something I can't make my mind about - the society that these teenagers live in.  It seemed a bit odd...old fashioned.  I know this is supposed to take after an old book that takes place in an old-fashioned society... But in the first ten chapters I felt like Longbourn was far removed from our society.  However, after that I became used to the extremely proper way the characters talk to each other (among other things) and the story  swept me away.  I liked that aspect, and yet I didn't....

One phrase to sum up this book (final thoughts) -
Adorable and light!  I finished this book in one day and totally loved it.  I could not put it down!  It's a great vacation read - this summer while I go beach camping with my family, I think I'll bring this along and enjoy the sweet retelling of this awesome love story one more time. :)

Nothing to worry about for the parents, by the way.  Not even a single cuss word.  A references to Wick getting drunk with a girl and trying to "take advantage of her".  He tries again with another girl, but they are caught.  Both characters are drunk but it is implied that nothing has happened between them.  Exactly (almost) like the original.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver


Ninety-five days, and all will be well.  Lena will have had her procedure, and any trace of the disease, amor deliria nervosa, will be in the past.  She will have a new life with whatever man she is matched with, and she will be free of pain, of agony, of loss, of sorrow.  She will be free of love, a terrible word that drags people into the depths of their own sickness.

She will be free.

Then, Alex.  The boy from the labs.  He has the mark of the procedure, but he's different, somehow.  And he knows Lena...has seen her before and wants to be friends.

She doesn't know why she says yes to his invitation to meet him.  But she does.

After, nothing is the same.

________________________________________________

My thoughts -
Delirium shook me to the core.
No, really, my hands were shaking and my breathing was coming fast.

But first, I must rewind to the beginning.  At the beginning, within the first ten pages, my jaw dropped.  This is quality literature, I told myself, sucking in those pages without delay.  The writing.  The characters.
The atmosphere.
Picture yourself sitting, surrounded by the white halls of a hospital.  Everything smells clean, sterile, and you can't help but notice the faint echo, as though life, real life, is outside the walls that surround you.  Everything looks shiny.  Everything is bright.  You have a headache.  You've had tests done, and now you are waiting.  Waiting for the verdict.  Waiting for someone, someone in draped in more white, to come and tell you your future.  Will you live, or will you die?  Your fate rests in his hands.  The verdict that will change your life forever is about to be revealed to you.

Well, this is what the beginning of this book reminded me of.  The waiting, the endless waiting, as though your whole life is just a waiting game.  What else is there but what's in front of you?

While reading the first fifty pages or so, I was, in fact, reminded of the color of this book's cover.  That light turqoise, like a piece of the ocean.  But flat and sterile, like in a hospital.
And then, as the story progressed (while I continued to drop my jaw in amazement at the beauty of it), I realized that every scene is defined by a color.  The party was black, with bright neon of blues, pinks, and oranges.  The picnic was golden, like a piece of sunshine.  The star scene was navy blue.  And throughout every scene, the color turqoise was laced, as though reminding me of the impending danger of the procedure.

When I had forty pages left, I sat down and finished the story.  My hands shook and I could barely turn the page.  I was amazed, pained, scared for what would happen...  And then - the end.  Oh....I cried.  Actually, I sobbed.  And I don't throw that word around lightly.  There are some books that cause me to shed a few tears, but only a few, a rare few (Sapphique, Inkspell, Jane Eyre, Uncle Tom's Cabin, the three books of the Circle Trilogy, and The Silent Boy, to be specific), cause me to lose it completely.  This, my friends, joins that list, my crying list, my epic list.

And, mind you, this is coming from the perspective of someone who didn't want to read this book.  I wasn't sure about it.  I'd heard a lot of good and some bad, and I still didn't have a good feeling about it.  Well, I was wrong.  Like, really really really wrong...

Character notes -
Immediately, I cared for Lena.  I felt the pain she felt, and I wanted to help her, or at least see her happy.  To see her free of the lies of her society.  I wanted to comfort her about her mother and be the best friend she needs.  She seemed strong to me, despite the sadness she felt.  All she needed to do was realize it was all a lie.  Only then could she break free.

And she needed someone special to help her with that.  Someone who would pull her out of her own troubles and show her the world around her for what it truly is - a beautiful world, full of deceived and deceiving people.  That person took shape in Alex.
Alex seemed...different.  Right from the start.  Not only does he stand out in that strange world, but he stands out in literature, too.  He's not your typical boyfriend, either.  When Lena needs someone strong, he is strong.  When she needs someone kind, he is kind.  He always protects her.  He loves her genuinely and selflessly, always thinking of her first, what she loves and wants to do.  When Lena begins to fall into a self-pity craze, he's tough with her, but only because he wants her to see the truth - because he loves her.  I cannot tell you how stinking impressed I am with his character.  The amount of selflessness and care and respect and beauty put into the love he has for Lena surprised me.  I was not prepared for this quality of a love story.  I have a feeling that my opinion of many love stories I read in the future will be colored by this one, just because it was so incredibly amazing to me.
I also love that Alex is the color of autumn.  At least, that's what he reminds Lena of, and it's stuck in my brain now, too.  His hair is the color of autumn leaves.  His eyes are the color of amber.  He's just warm and...wonderful.  Like, really truly wonderful.  Quality.

Story notes -
This is something else that surprised me: the perfect smoothness of the story.  Like, it was incredibly smooth.  There were times when I felt the pace could have gone out of whack - but nope!!  It went smooth, like Lauren Oliver has never done anything else in her life except write smooth stories.  And the story itself... Twists and turns and creepy Crypts and love.  Lots of love.  It's powerful.  NOT your easy, light read that you can put down and say, "Yay that was happy, now let's move on!"  When I finished it (during my good, long cry), I had to think.  In fact, I don't exactly want to pick up a book right now because I just want to let this one rest a bit on my mind before I dive into another story.

One word/phrase to sum up this book (and final thoughts) -
There are quite a few words that come to mind when I think of Delirium... Powerful, colorful, LOVELY, quality, coherent...flipping amazing!  But I really think the best word (actually, phrase) to describe it is breath-takingly beautiful.  When I reached the end of the book, I kind of did lose my breath.  There's so much going on, so much to learn about these characters and experience in this deceived world.  And there's so much love.  So, so much, that it got me thinking about my life.  My loves.  How do I love those around me?  How can I take advantage of this freedom?  And the choices I have...it's amazing compared to the world of Delirium.  This, I take advantage of too much.  What better choices can I make in the future?  Really, this was quite a life-changing, thought-provoking book for me.  I hope everyone will give this book a shot - literature as quality as this deserves a majorly huge spotlight. :)

For the parents:   Some brief strong language.  (F**k, b**ch, d**n, s**t...)  A short scene (less than a page long) where Alex sees Lena without a shirt on (it's implied without a bra as well), and he tells her she is beautiful.  They don't have sex but they kiss a lot.  Not super descriptive.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini


"He was born with the gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad."  It is with these words that Rafael  Sabatini opens Scaramouche, and they are a fitting introduction.  Andre-Louis Moreau has led an easy life, studying hard and becoming a lawyer, never becoming attached to anything or anyone indefinitely.  Except for his best friend, Philippe, and his angel cousin, Aline.  But when tragedy strikes, Andre is pushed to the edge.  He becomes a public speaker for the third estate against the Privileged in France during the French Revolution.  But this is only the beginning of his journey to gain revenge on the terrible, cold Marquis la Tour d'Azyr.  He is swept away by politics, danger, theater, swordsmanship, and finally politics again - all in hopes of getting away with his life.  But life is dangerous no matter where Andre-Louis wishes to go, and the threat of the Privileged is terrible.  The Nobles, all of them, must be destroyed.  And Andre must settle a score he swore he would settle - and at any cost.

___________________________________________

My thoughts -
Oh, sigh...  How immensely I love this book.  If I could have my way, I'd write out the whole entire book as my review, just because there is really no way to do it justice.  However, I will try.  I will try my hardest.

This is my third time to read Scaramouche.  So, as you can imagine, I've spent a lot of time with this book.  I've studied it, because it's so stinking good.  I could write a whole book on this book, because it had such an intense impact on me.  So much of an impact that not only have I read this book three times, but in a manner of only a year and a half.  Yah, this is some intense stuff.  I hardly re-read books in one year.

Basically, it's beautiful.  It's emotional, tragic, powerful, dramatic, crafted like a masterpiece, and it holds some of the greatest characters and character changes that I've ever read.  EVER.  It's full of action, romance, betrayal, secrets, disaster, political intrigue, and (I repeat) emotion.


Character notes (favorite character) -
I have a LOT to say about Andre.  But let me say something quick about the others before I get into it.
Every character in this story, from the beginning, has a character handle, or something you can identify him/her with.  Andre, he is the actor.  Philippe, he is passionate.  D'Azyr, he is cold-hearted.  Aline, she is an angel.  They easily form to their characters and become exactly what they need to be for the story to take flight.  This is an amazing thing to see as I sometimes feel like I lack character development in my own stories.  Such an inspiration...like everything else about this book.

But now, on to Andre.
Andre-Louis Moreau is complex.  He is man, and therefore complex, as he would say.  He has studied human nature for quite awhile - and yet he himself would be the most fitting example of a complex human being struggling to survive.  This alone fascinates me.  But let me take you a little deeper.
He is an actor, always.  He is Scaramouche, the aloof, witty character who wishes for none to see his true feelings.  But inside, he feels.  He feels deeply.  There are few moments when he lets his guard down, very few, but when he does, you see the hopes, fears, and loves of a man who wants to be something more.
He is also very wise and bold.  In fact, his wisdom surprised me this time around.  He may be jealous, act on his impulses, and manipulate his words to get his way - but there are times when he steps forward to do the right thing and he knows exactly how to make things right.  Exactly how to remove himself from a bad situation.

He begins the story as a boy, searching for revenge.  He is tested by love and betrayal and grows.  And he comes out in the end as a man, one to be respected and trusted and truly loved.  At the end of the book, I want to repeat the words of the butler Benoit, who says on page 257, "He is here....and so fine you would hardly know him.  Here he is, monseigneur!  Is he not beautiful?"


Favorite aspects/scenes (story notes) -
My favorite scenes include chapter 6, called "Clemene"; Chapter 8, called "The Dream"; the chapter called "Madame de Plougastel", where Andre-Louis vividly remembers his childhood - it produces a lot of emotion in the reader; any of Andre's rousing speeches.

But these are just some of my favorite scenes.  My all-time favorite resides in the chapter called "Spadassinicides", Chapter 7 of book 3.  It is laugh-out-loud funny, with politics, wit, danger, fencing, and something of a mix between shock, reverence, and love for Andre and his genius.

Throughout the second book (the Buskin), Andre is confronted by a wall...that wall, being M. Binet, the theater troop's director.  Andre has the brains, Binet has the power.  Andre is witty, Binet is tyrannical.  Who will gain the upper-hand?  And what of Andre's love for Binet's daughter?  This aspect of the story is a neat example of human nature and the lies we believe when we want something...

And of course, I love that Scaramouche is about the French Revolution.  The facts, turned into a story, are interesting to read and really give you a hard-core example of what it was like during that bloody time in France.  You see the revolution from both sides - the Nobles and the Peasants.  Who is right, and who is wrong?  It is a complicated war, but Sabatini lays it out so it is easy to understand.


One word to sum up this book (final thoughts) -
Triumphant.  When I finish this book (all three times) I want to throw my fists into the air, jump out of my seat and let out a shrill war cry of "TRIUMPH!!!"  Because the book takes you on a journey, the journey of a destitute man looking for happiness amongst a bloody revolution.  But more importantly, he goes through a Revolution of his own, one so profound and personal that you cannot help but feel the story for yourself.  Almost every emotion known to mankind can be found in this book.  As the reader, I feel these emotions along with each character - and very strongly, as though they were my own.  Each time I read it, it shocks me and I fall in love all over again.  And I know that soon, very soon, I will want to read it again.

Read some quotes from Scaramouche here.
Read my other reviews here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Delirium (Quotes)

This... this is the magic that I've been sucked into for the last three days.

And I remind myself that I probably imagined the whole thing - the message, the meeting up.  He's probably sitting in his apartment somewhere, doing course work for his classes.  He's probably already forgotten about the two girls he met at the lab complex today.  He was probably just being nice earlier, making casual conversation.
It's for the best.  But no matter how many times I repeat it, the strange, hollow feeling in my stomach doesn't go away.  And ridiculous as it is, I can't shake the persistent, needling feeling that I've forgotten something, or missed something, or lost something forever.
-- Chapter 6, Page 86
I bet you a million bucks that Lauren Oliver is proud of those lines.  I'm proud of those lines, and I didn't even write them.  I'm proud of them because they make me feel.  They become my own.  Am I missing something?  Am I paying attention to life as it passes me by?  Have I lost something forever?

__________________________________________________________

Overhead, the sky is packed tight with enormous black storm clouds.  It's supposed to thunderstorm later, which seems fitting.  Beyond the gate, at the end of a short, paved road, the Crypts looms black and imposing.  Silhouetted against he dark sky, it looks like something out of a nightmare.  A dozen or so tiny windows - like the multiple staring eyes of a spider - are scattered across its stone facade.  A short field surrounds the Crypts on this side, enclosed within the gates.  I remember it from my childhood as a meadow, but it is actually just a lawn, closely tended and bare in patches.  Still, the vivid green of the grass - where the grass is actually managing to assert itself through the dirt - seems out of place.  This seems like sun should never shine: a place on the edge, at the limit, a place completely removed from time and happiness in life.
-- Chapter 21, Pages 339-340
I love this description.  It totally sets the mood, and once again, it makes me feel.  I love it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Waves by Virginia Woolf - A "For the Classics" Guest Review

Let's give a welcome to the lovely Laura from A Work of Fiction - the first to write a review "For the Classics"!


Bio:

My name is Laura and I write a blog over at A Work of Fiction. I’m an aspiring writer in the process of finishing and publishing my first novel in the Young-Adult genre. I can be found most days with a book or camera in hand, having one-sided conversations with my dogs or watching re-runs of The Nanny. Oh, and I also make a really mean dish of scrambled eggs.

To read more about me and my story, click here!



Find me at these places:
A Work of Fiction - my blog
Goodreads
Twitter



The Waves by Virginia Woolf


A review by Laura Newcombe

Summary:

Set on the coast of England against the vivid background of the sea, The Waves introduces six characters--three men and three women--who are grappling with the death of a beloved friend, Percival. Instead of describing their outward expressions of grief, Virginia Woolf draws her characters from the inside, revealing them through their thoughts and interior soliloquies. As their understanding of nature's trials grows, the chorus of narrative voices blends together in miraculous harmony, remarking not only on the inevitable death of individuals but on the eternal connection between everyone. The novel that most epitomizes Virginia Woolf's theories of fiction in working form, The Waves is an amazing book very much ahead of its time. It is poetic dreamscape, visual, experimental, and thrilling.


Review:

How do you summarise the sheer beauty and power of Virginia Woolf’s ingenious voice? I don’t know, but I’ll try.
This was my first time reading Virginia Woolf, although I’d already developed a great deal of respect and adoration for her after reading her biography a few years ago. Since then I’ve been longing to read one of her works.

Well, it was only a few weeks ago that I was roaming my local library, searching for a new book to devour, when my eye was caught by a book sticking out on the bottom row of a shelf. I picked it up and my heart almost leapt out of my throat: “The Waves by Virginia Woolf” it read and I wanted to scream with excitement.

I suppose it’s needless to say I checked it out immediately and scurried home to read it.

Was I able to put it down since? The answer is yes and no.

At first, The Waves is a very difficult piece to comprehend. The story is told through the alternating dramatic monologue of the six main characters – Louis, Susan, Bernard, Jinny, Neville and Rhoda – which can become quite confusing as the only way Woolf declares these changes are by writing; “said Rhoda” or “said Neville”. There is no real transition and it took me – a modern reader – a while before I discovered these were thoughts, not conversations. For example:

“I see a ring,” said Bernard, “hanging above me. It quivers and hangs in a loop of light.”

“I see a slab of pale yellow,” said Susan, “spreading away until it meets a purple stripe.”

“I hear a sound,” said Rhoda, “cheep, chirp; cheep chirp; going up and down.”

“I see a globe,” said Neville, “hanging down in a drop against the enormous flanks of some hill.”

“I see a crimson tassel,” said Jinny, “twisted with gold threads.”

“I hear something stamping,” said Louis. “A great beast’s foot is chained. It stamps, and stamps, and stamps.”
I needed to allow myself more time to read this book, or really I needed to allow myself the time to understand each paragraph. That is the greatest piece of advice I can give you if you do decide to read The Waves – read it, don’t look, read.

I have found that most people who have read this book, read it again at least twice. I, who will do the same, recommend others to as well.

Another reason why I was not instantaneously absorbed is because there is no real plot, which I grew accustomed and surprisingly welcome to as I began to really acknowledge – well around pg. 100 or so – Woolf’s poetry. By now it was too late, there was no escape, because she had grabbed me by the hand and dragged me into her glorious mind.

The late nights had begun, the “just one more page,” as I glanced at the alarm clock announcing midnight. I stayed with her and she stayed with me, her voice comforting, incessant. Here are some of my favorite experts that will help confirm her undeniable talent:

"For this moment, this one moment, we are together. I press you to me. Come, pain, feed on me. Bury your fangs in my flesh. Tear me asunder. I sob, I sob."
“Yet there are moments when the walls of the mind grow thin; when nothing is unabsorbed, and I could fancy that we might blow so vast a bubble that the sun might set and rise in it and we might take the blue of midday and the black of midnight and be cast off and escape from here and now.”
“On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.”


This is human suffering, the burden of life, our weakness and fears, the monster of insecurity – no one depicts this better than Virginia Woolf herself.

I can see myself rereading this book every single year; during the day out on the porch, her phrases encasing me, or by night underneath the warm covers of my bed, her poetry familiar bittersweet lullabies.

The Waves kindled an innumerable amount of emotions in me. It made me feel, see, yearn and cry. I was breathless, I was clinging and I will never forget that feeling as I will revisit that feeling.
Read, remember, and embrace. She will grasp you with every word, and never let you go until THE END.



Fun facts: You never hear the voice of Percival – the deceased friend – although he contributes to the book greatly.
The Waves is recognized as Mrs. Woolf’s most experimental work.

About the author:

(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929) with its famous dictum, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."
She committed suicide by filling her pockets with rocks and drowning in the Ouse River.



Thank you so much, Laura, for being the first to join and for contributing this wonderful review! :)

If you would like to participate in a "For the Classics" Guest post, head on over to this page!!!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Scaramouche (Quotes)

I know this is a lot of quotes for one post, but these are some of my favorite quotes from Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini.  I just had to share them...they're too amazing. :)

Andre-Louis, maintaining his position by clutching one of the legs of the bronze horse, flung his voice like a bugle-note over the heads of that seething mob.
"Citizens of Rennes, the motherland is in danger!"
The effect was electric.  A stir ran, like a ripple of water, across that froth of upturned human faces, and completest silence followed.  In that great silence they looked at this slim young man, hatless, long wisps of his black hair fluttering in the breeze, his neckcloth in disorder, his face white, his eyes on fire.
Andre-Louis felt a sudden surge of exaltation as he realized by instinct that at one grip he had seized that crowd, and that he held it fast in the spell of his cry and his audacity.
- Chapter 7 of book 1, "The Wind", page 56

__________________________________________________________
The child - she was no more than that, perhaps twenty at the most - possessed, in addition to the allurements of the face and shape that went very near perfection - a sparkling vivacity and a grace of movement the like of which Andre-Louis did not remember ever before to have beheld assembled in one person.  And her voice too - that musical, silvery voice that had awakened him - possessed in its exquisite modulations an allurement of its own that must have been irresistible, he thought, in the ugliest of her sex.  She wore a hooded mantle of green cloth, and the hood being thrown back, her dainty head was all revealed to him.  There were glints of gold struck by the morning sun from her light nut-brown hair that hung in a cluster of curls about her oval face.  Her complexion was of a delicacy that he could compare only with a rose petal.  He could not at that distance discern the colour of her eyes, but he guessed them blue, as he admired the sparkle of them under the fine, dark line of eyebrows.
- Chapter 1 of book 2, "The Trespassers", page 92

__________________________________________________________

"The Paris newspapers," he writes in this (a letter), "which  have reported in considerable detail the fracas at the Theater Feydau and disclosed the true identity of the Scaramouche who provoked it, inform me also that you have escaped the fate I had intended for you when I raised that storm of public opinion and public indignation.  I would not have you take satisfaction in the thought that I regret your escape.  I do not.  I rejoice in it.  To deal justice by death has this disadvantage that the victim has no knowledge that justice has overtaken him.  Had you died, had you been torn limb from limb that night, I should now repine in the thought of your eternal and untroubled slumber.  Not in euthanasia, but in torment of mind should the guilty atone.  You see, I am not sure that hell hereafter is a certainty, whilst I am quite sure that it can be a certainty in this life; and I desire you to continue to live yet awhile that you may taste something of its bitterness."

- Chapter 1 of book 3, "Transition", page 222


So there are three passages that give you an idea of the amazingness packed into this book.  You can see in the first quote the political intrigue and the power Andre has in speech.  You see in the second quote that Sabatini can write a great description - and beautiful ladies with musical voices bode romance, do they not?  And in the third quote you the see the disgust Andre has toward...somebody (I can't disclose the name!)...and once again his way with words is downright incredible.  I hope this, and my review (coming soon!), help make the decision to go pick up this book!!!  :)

Happy reading!