Monthly Archives: March 2013
I picked this one up while I was putting away some library books at work because the premise sounded so promising: A young girl wants to be like Sherlock Holmes, who is a real person in the story, and solve mysteries in old-time London. This wasn’t a bad read, it just fell a bit flat for me. I guess I had high expectations because I saw that Sherlock Holmes was going to be in it and was a bit disappointed when I found out he has died in the very beginning of the story (so it’s not a spoiler :P). In my opinion, if you’re going to involve Sherlock Holmes as a character in a story it better be very well done to be believable and accepted. For me, there was just something lacking and I can’t quite put my finger on what it was. I didn’t find the involvement of Sherlock believable, or frankly, very interesting. (Maybe my expectations are too high from watching too much of the BBC’s Sherlock. So Amazing!!) Anyway, thinking of this as a non-Sherlock story, it was a pretty decent YA read. It has enough mystery, action, and suspense to keep you turning the pages
Dora convinces her cousin to take her to London to seek the help of Sherlock Holmes, only to find out that he has died. Dora’s cousin is devastated because she is being blackmailed by compromising letters given to an ex-lover and needs Sherlock’s help to get the letters back. However, Dora takes the news much worse than her cousin for reasons she doesn’t care to share. Despite the devastating news, the girls decide to enlist the help of two other investigators in London. One of which, a Mr. Cartwright, is close to Dora’s age and works in ways reminiscent of Mr. Holmes. Together, Mr. Cartwright and Dora work to solve the problem Dora and her cousin came to London to eliminate. However, they have stumbled upon a situation worse than they bargained on, and put themselves in danger instead.
Does anyone know of good books involving Sherlock Holmes as a character?
Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most
Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish
This was a really hard post for me to write and I totally didn’t think it would be! I’ve realized it’s because the books I recommend depend a lot upon who I’m recommending them to. I mean there’s one friend I have who has pretty much the EXACT same taste so I will tell her to read absolutely everything I enjoy, but she is the only one I’ve ever met like that. So for this post I’ll also tell ya why I recommend them. Here you go:
For Endless Adventure:
I read this trilogy about six years ago, but it has stayed with me ever since and I tell people about it all the time. The story is based on such a cool concept, reading stuff (people, objects, etc.) into/out of books, and is executed so well that I fell head over heels in love with it and haven’t stopped talking about it yet. (Probably time for a re-read…)
One of the authors who first got me excited about reading for fun. Not the first book I read by L’Engle, (I started with Many Waters book #2) but I do recommend to others that they start with this one, the first in the series.
For Fast-Paced Action:
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare
This series is soo super addicting and I am guilty of turning multiple people onto it. Paranormal creatures, romance, and non-stop action…what more could you want? (Also, I am madly in love with the main male character Jace!!)
For a WWII Historical Fiction Fix:
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana Rosnay
I love this book….and the movie they made out of it. A story told about Jews in France during WWII, which was quite eye-opening for me. It’s sad, but not so depressing it takes weeks to recover from (which is why I didn’t list The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy, although it’s also a good read).
Another unique take on WWII fiction, with “Death” as the narrator throughout the story. Haven’t read this in quite a few years, but lend my copy out often! Quite excited for the movie of this to come out, according to IMDB.com the release date is set for January 17, 2014.
For Light-Hearted Fun and a Dash of Romance Read:
I LOVE this series!! They are sooo fun and funny and make you happy. All of my friends read them now and I shamelessly put them on display at the library whenever I get a chance. The books are filled, with romance, mystery, suspense, and action. Plus, they take place back in Napoleon times. Check out Lauren’s website here, she is pretty awesome.
These are fun, fast reads I tore through in high school and have recommended ever since. (Just last week I was thanked for turning someone onto them.) The hilarious diary entries of an awkward high school girl, who just found out she’s also a princess. (Beware: this is nothing like the movie! The movie is actually made fun of in later books, however I do still love the movie when not compared to the book.)
For Book Lovers Who Want a Laugh-Out-Loud Read (that makes you feel smart):
This was recommended to me by an ex-coworker and now I get to enjoy recommending it to others. People who have already read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte would probably get the most out of this particular book in the series, but it’s not necessary. A whole new kind of “Book World” is brought to life in this story and is then (this is the best part) carried on to, currently 7 books…eeee! The main character, Thursday Next, is hilarious. I typically don’t go for “funny” books, but these are amazing and I literally laugh out loud while reading them scaring everyone around me.
For a Keep-Your-Lights-On-All-Night-Long ‘cuz it’s Kinda Scary Read (but so worth it):
The Historian is a REAL vampire novel (if there were real vampires), featuring none other than the horrifying Count Dracula. I don’t read horror novels and I scare pretty easily, so I must say this is the scariest book I have ever read. I still remember when I had finished reading for the night about half way through this book and then could not turn off the lights because I was so afraid, but in an oddly good way (I laughed about it, but still left the lights on). This book is fascinating and scary and so good!
For a Magical Escape:
So pretty! This story is just so pretty!(as is the cover) I want to live at the Night Circus. It’s not a book for everyone I’ve found out by over-recommending it, but I will keep on telling people about it because it is just such a lovely story to get swept away with magic, romance, and always an air of mystery.
Well there you have it; the top ten books I recommend the most often!
Any recommendations from my lovely readers???
Push by Sapphire is quite the piece of literature. It is moving, brutal, eye-opening, hard-to-read-yet-hard-to-put-down, and all around a story that should be read by lots and lots of people. However, after reading the book, I really don’t know if I can stomach watching the movie. It was pretty rough. There’s a lot of violence, sexual abuse, and tons of swearing. But the message of overcoming and “pushing” through life’s obstacles no matter how difficult they are, which is thrown at you throughout the story, is so unbelievably powerful it will definitely change your way of thinking after you’re through with the book.
The story follows 16 year old Precious on her journey from her destructive home life, where she has had one child by her father already (yes, her father), is pregnant with the second and is beaten by her mother, then steps onto a path where she meets new people who care and are willing to teach her how to read and write. She faces so many incomprehensible difficulties along the way, but always seems to push right on through. It is truly moving.
Sapphire does a wonderful job at showing transitions in Precious’ character throughout the story by her wonderful usage of the stream of consciousness writing style. Every once in while it’s interesting to read a story written from this point of view because it offers such a unique perspective on the main characters’ progression and thought process and this story is a fantastic example.
I finished the book in under a day. It’s not a long read, but it will shake you up. After the first two pages of reading, I knew that’s where a lot of people were going to stop reading. It’s riddled with derogatory terms, incorrect grammar, and swearwords, but they are there to prove a point of the lifestyle lived by the main character, Clareece Precious Jones. Sure, I would have appreciated a few less “F” bombs (it’s quite shocking to me) but, wow, it packs a punch when you realize that this is the environment the character had actually grown up in and it’s supposed to be shocking. I also could have done without the descriptive incest, rape, molestation scenes, but whoa, was I completely naïve. Sure everyone “knows” it happens, but reading about a first-hand account (fictionalized, okay) and then the mental repercussions, it really hits home.
Okay, now I need to go find something less deep and depressing to read…
I got Scartlet! I got Scarlet! After waiting for sooo long to get my hands on this book, it finally came in at the library…and then I read it a day and a half and it was over far too quickly. Scarlet was just so amazing that now I have to own it…and the whole series. So now I will be scouring thrift stores and adding it and Cinder to my birthday list until they are finally in my possession. If you haven’t read my raving review of the first title in the series, Cinder, yet check it out here.
As the title and cover suggest, Scarlet, is a revamped, futuristic take on Red Riding Hood, but this time Red, or Scarlet, means business and is definitely not a helpless little girl. Scarlet’s grandmother has gone missing for no apparent reason and the police refuse to help find her, so she must take the search into her own hands. However, a suspicious, yet attractive, companion, who calls himself the Wolf continues to cross her path and seems to possess information she needs to locate her grandmother. Why has her grandmother been taken? And can the Wolf be trusted?
Meanwhile, Cinder’s and Kai’s story are also being told throughout the book. Cinder must attempt a risky prison break, which doesn’t go quite as expected and then live life on the run, all the while discovering her new Lunar powers, which are a bit scary. And then there’s poor Kai, running a country on the brink of war with Queen Levana, completely confused by his emotions (his feelings for Cinder, duty for the people of his country) but trying his best.
All of these plot lines are seamlessly interwoven together. They are all super interesting and when the story lines switch back and forth it isn’t jolting or confusing, it just…works. (Confession: sometimes I end up skipping character lines I don’t like :S )
However, the ending leaves you begging for more. I don’t even know how I am going to be able to wait until 2014 when the third title, Cress, is set to release. That seems like forever from right now! And (ohmygosh I’m so excited about this!!) I read on Goodreads that Cress is supposed to be about Rapunzel and Cinder!!! Rapunzel! (I’m a little obsessed with Tangled at the moment) Who knows what magic Meyer can do with Rapunzel, but I am super excited! Then the fourth novel in the series, Winter, is set to release in 2015 which actually is forever from now, (I’ll practically be done with my master’s degree I haven’t started yet) but this one, again according to Goodreads, will feature Snow White and take place on the moon! And of course since I LOVE fairy tales I’m also a bit obsessed with the TV show Once Upon a Time at the moment, hence the Snow White enthusiasm.
If you like adventure, fantasy, good fairy tale spinoffs, light sci-fi, and a great fast paced read, then you should definitely go read this series! I still can’t stop thinking about it and really don’t want to start another book yet. However, I must start Push by Sapphire for my bookclub on Tuesday….
Does anyone else know of amazing fairy tale spin-off books/series? I’m in the mood for more!
Fairies and Ireland Oh My!: Leprechaun in Late Winter by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House Book Club)
So I started a Magic Tree House book club for kids early last fall and with each passing month I look forward to it even more. Each month we read a different Magic Tree House book by Mary Pope Osborne, discuss the book, eat a themed snack, and then do an activity or two. But we always end with a hunt for a sticker to put in our passports. I put quite a bit of time into making these passports and the kids LOVE them so it was all worth it. They get to put down the date of their “adventure”, answer a question in relation to the book and then add their sticker.
This month we got to read Leprechaun in Late Winter which was a great book we all enjoyed. It was a story about an interesting, but not very well known (to me anyway) lady from Irish history, Augusta, later known as Lady Gregory. I won’t give away what she becomes in case anyone doesn’t know, because this story kept me guessing until the end and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.
Jack and Annie are taken back in time and transported to Ireland to help Augusta for reasons unknown to them, but through a series of trial and error, and of course high adventure they find out their purpose and get the job done, putting Augusta on the right path. A lesson about how helping others doesn’t always translate into being a good person if you aren’t very nice is also thrown into the story, which I thought was a nice added element. A lot of attention is given to the si (pronounced shee) or fairies of Irish folktales which was a lot of fun for the kids and I to read about. This was a great adventure story, especially for this time of year, enjoyed by all who attended (including myself).
I also highly recommend getting the companion book, Leprechauns and Irish Folklore by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce with Leprechaun in Late Winter though. I brought this book to show the kids a few other interesting facts and some neat pictures, but we ended up going over our typical time length because everyone was sooo interested in it! I ended up reading different sections about people who recorded Irish folktales because they wanted to know more about them. But, their favorite part (and mine too) was where descriptions and illustrations were given about different kinds of fairies. Everyone who attended ended up requesting their own copy so they could learn more, which was so AWESOME!
After all of our discussing, we did a rainbow experiment which was listed in the back of the paperback edition of Leprechauns in Late Winter. (If you don’t have this edition of the book similar instructions are given at this website.) All that is needed for the experiment is a bowl, 2% milk (whole milk may work better though), food coloring, and liquid dish soap, so it was pretty easy to come by all the supplies. We poured a thin layer of milk in the bowl and then added two drops of different colored food coloring around the edge of the bowl. Finally, we added a couple drops of the dish soap and watched the magic happen. It did take a few minutes for all of the colors to mix together like the experiment explains, but the longer it sits, the cooler it looks.
Then we made shee homes! For this project we took toilet paper tubes covered them in construction paper, used a muffin wrapper for the roof, and then let our creativity go crazy for the decorations! I laid out pipe cleaners, sequins, construction paper, and tissue paper and the kids came up with some pretty unique shee houses!
And of course we ended with our hunt for passport stickers! This month they were four leaf clovers 🙂
Does anyone else no of great Junior Fiction novels to base a book club off of? I’m thinking of trying out a different series in the fall.
It’s Top Ten Tuesday again which is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week is all about the “Top Ten Books I HAD to Buy…But Are Still Sitting on My Shelf Unread”. This is a great top ten list to partake in. It’s an excuse to go sit and look longingly at your books for a while and make some “re-discoveries”. Now, if only I had ten instead of about 300, there would be sooo much more space in my tiny house, but alas, I am a (thriftstore) book buying addict. Without further ado I give you the top ten books on my bookshelves, still not read:
Ok, this one has only been sitting on my shelf for about three weeks so I don’t feel that bad quite yet. But I really, really, REALLY do want to read it. A teen fiction WWII novel about girl British spies! (And yes, I’ll admit I had forgotten that I bought this until working on this post :S )
A Tale of Time City by Dianna Wynne Jones I bought this one with a Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday…last year. I will get to it though, I promise! The first two words on the back of the book are; “London,1939,” that grabbed my attention right away and then it goes on to tell how the main character gets sucked out of the war-ridden time (do I sense a theme?) to “Time City”. I love Diana Wynne Jones and this has time travel…and 1939 London.
Gah, I bought this after one of my college professors said it was a book “everyone needs to read” and I’m ashamed to say that was 3 years ago now (ugh, can’t believe I’ve been out of undergrad that long). It has been deemed a classic, not quite sure about the plot line, but I’ve hear good things!
So, this one was purchased back in 2007 when it first came out, because I was in LOVE with the Traveling Pants series throughout high school. Then college started…and well here we are 6 years later! Brashares is an amazing writer though, so I’m glad I’ve re-discovered it!
Well I wanted to read this before I started watching the TV series which is why I purchased the book in the first place, but I don’t think that will be happening as I’m watching it right.now. It’s just so BIG! I do want to tackle it someday though…maybe…if I like the TV show….
I do remember having to buy this, I do, but then must have forgotten about the reading it part. Meg’s amazing, as I’ve already shared in a previous post, and this one has a supernatural element so I’m super duper excited about it!
I absolutely LOVE Sarah’s Key, so when this came out I went and bought it without even bothering to see what it was about. Reading the jacket flap now, it looks intriguing, about a woman trying to protect her house in Paris, France in the 1860’s.
The cover of this one drew me in and I had heard good things about it before so it was one of the impulse decisions where you just have to have it. I’ve seen good reviews on bookclub sites and the plot, a woman who writes 12 different stories about her life with the 13th revealing the truth, sounds pretty awesome.
This book also has a cool cover, and has “dragons” in the title. It had been taunting me on the library shelves for weeks, so when I saw it at a thrift shop I ran over and snatched it up quick (even though no one else was really competing with me for it). This should be a very exciting read when I get around to it; dragons, myths, fantasy, and oh yeah did I mention dragons??
After reading all of the great reviews about this book I simply had to have it, and yes it is another WWII novel. The title just makes this book sound super boring. Even though I know it will probably be a wonderful story, it just never makes it to the top of my TBR list…
What are some of the books sitting on your shelf you just HAD to have, but haven’t actually gotten around to reading yet?
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor was kind of a tough one to get into for me. It didn’t help that I didn’t really remember what had happened in the first book in the trilogy and there wasn’t a whole lot of re-capping provided. And it is a very heavy, dark story with lots of war and blood and fighting which are tougher reads anyway. The themes throughout the story are thought-provoking and great for discussion; Why are the wars between chimera and angels being fought? What is the ultimate purpose? Is it really wrong to love whomever we want? Is it necessary for some evil to happen for good to prevail? I’m sure if I sat and thought for a while longer I could come up with a ton more…The way Taylor writes is wonderful too. Beautiful sentences and thoughts are spread throughout the book.
“And yet…the only hope is hope” ~Laini Taylor
So why only a rating of 3/5 you ask? Well, because it was just sooo dark and frustrating despite its’ other great qualities. I admit to a lot of skimming pages during bloody battles and watching bad TV over the past week when I typically would have been immersed in a book because I just didn’t want to read about something so depressing.
Karou, the main character, has taken up resurrecting monster chimera soldiers on Earth for the retaliation against the angels in Eretz. After falling in love with Karou’s character in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I was surprised by how much I disliked her in this novel. She drove me absolutely crazy until about the final 100 pages because of how weak she appeared to be in this story. I’m guessing Karou’s weakness was purposefully crafted by Taylor to show a personal journey throughout the novel, but it made me want to jump into the book and yell at her. However, Akiva and his two siblings, Liraz and Hazael, are much more interesting to read about in this story. The book is told from multiple points of view, but mainly from Karou’s and Akiva’s which meld together seamlessly unlike their love at the moment.
As Karou makes her monsters, battles wage, but for what purpose? Death is everywhere and if the fighting doesn’t stop can anyone survive? Can hope prevail? This book does answer many questions, but the ending will leave you begging to read the next one which doesn’t look like it will be coming out until April 2014 according to Taylor’s blog…but it will be the last one in the trilogy!!
So I found this review from last summer and thought I should re-post it on my brand spankin’ new blog 🙂
After waking up at 2am with far too much on mind (Summer Reading Program, new house, new job, etc.) I picked up Wonderstruck and did not go back to sleep until 4am (oops!), but that’s how all consuming this book is. It is an amazing read! I am a solidified fan of Brian Selznick now. Check out The Invention of Hugo Cabret if you haven’t yet.(Hopefully a book/movie review for Hugo will be coming in the nearish future) They are being put on my “Need to Own” list because of how awesome they are. Plus Wonderstruck starts out in my home-state of Minnesota which makes it even a little more special for me.
Wonderstuck is a story about a young boy’s journey through loss, tragedy, difficult changes, and ultimately the discovery of a lifetime. Ben loses his mother and must live with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Then he faces another major set back when he tries to discover more about his father whom he has never met. After so much tragedy Ben sets off on his own to meet his father and has the adventure of his lifetime, and although the journey and outcome aren’t exactly what he expects, the results are astounding and change his life forever.
Along with Ben’s journey, the story of a young deaf girl named Rose is told mainly through pictures. The two stories interweave and mesh together perfectly adding an extra element to the book.
The story is masterfully told through not only carefully chosen words, but perfectly suited pictures. This is an amazing novel which people of all ages will enjoy and re-read just to see if they missed anything the first time.
“Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you’d be able to find whatever you were looking for…”
~Wondersturck, Brian Selznick
Fellow recommenders of books (librarians, bookstore workers, booksellers, book reviewers, avid readers, and the list goes on…) I’m guessing we face this same problem: what do you do when someone asks “Have you read this book? Did you like it?” and you want to scream to “NOOO!!” at the top of your lungs, but don’t or can’t for some reason or other. This problem has come up a few times recently for me where I just couldn’t tell someone I didn’t like the book they were asking about. There are times when our opinions just need to stay in the backseat about this.
Like if someone comes to me in the library and asks if they should read a particular book, let’s use Life of Pi for example, I can’t just spew out “Omygosh that book bored me to tears, I could hardly stand it.” That would make me a horrible librarian for multiple reasons. One of which being the book has been deemed a great piece of fiction and has won the Man Booker Prize Award in the UK, however, the story is just totally not my cup of tea. Just because I despised the book, doesn’t mean the person asking about it won’t really love it. If I tell them I didn’t like it, they probably won’t even give the book a shot, because being a librarian and an avid reader, my opinion matters. I suppose a polite “Well yeah I’ve read it; it wasn’t really my kinda book. Maybe you would enjoy it more though,” might do, but even that scares people away from books THEY might like and that is the LAST thing I want to do because everyone has a different taste in reading materials. I would hate to have missed out on The Night Circus by Erin Morgentstern(favorite book of 2012!) because one of the haters had told me they wouldn’t recommend it.
I enjoy discussing why and what I do and don’t like about what I’ve read, but there is a time and place for that, like on a blog for example ; ). But the time and place to discourage a book is not when someone is asking someone of “authority” if they should read a particular book if said “authority” doesn’t already know the persons’ specific reading preferences or abilities. It’s completely different, for instance if a reader of Christian Fiction romance comes up to me and asks if they should read “that Fifty Shades of Grey book”. I will (refrain from shouting “NO!” and making bug eyes) keep composure and calmly say, “That’s probably not something you would enjoy, but have you heard of Dee Henderson?”
Don’t worry I will always give my completely honest views and opinions on this blog though. I feel this is one of the places where true views can be shared and discussions can be had without causing too much discouragement of reading to people who would actually enjoy the books anyway. If I don’t like something I will tell you exactly why I don’t like it. I’m much better at articulating exactly what I think about what I’ve read in writing too, so that’s another reason I prefer expressing my REAL opinions on a blog instead of when asked in person.
I never really thought my job “mattered”, but thinking about it now, if a librarian had told me when I was younger “You probably don’t want to read Harry Potter. I couldn’t stand those books! Let’s look for something else,” I would be living an entirely different life right now…
Tell me about your experiences and thoughts!!
Upcoming Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
I want to start off with a question I overheard a young boy ask his mom today at work, which made my totally rough day (migraine+work=not fun) so incredibly worth it! After about a half hour of searching for the “right” books altogether, I led them to the self-check when I overheard THIS:
Mom, can I stay up a little late tonight and read my books?
It made my heart melt 🙂
Ok, now on with Top Ten Tuesday! So I saw a neat idea on Niki Hawke’s book blog and thought I would try it out too because it looked like so much fun! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature on The Broke and the Bookish book blog where everyone gets to post a list of different “Top Tens”. This week is Spring TBRs! So here are mine:
The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
I looooove Lauren Willig!! She writes the Pink Carnation series which are a-Mazing historical fiction/romance/spy/adventurey that are so much fun. I recommend her to oodles of people. This one is a standalone novel, but I’m still super excited.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
So far I’ve only read Stardust by Gaiman, but I LOVED it so I’m definitely going to get my name on the library list right away for this one. Mystery, dark creatures, and Gaiman I don’t think it can be too bad.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
I’ve been impatiently waiting for this one to come in at the library since I finished the amazing Cinder! A take on Red Riding Hood..Can.Not.Wait!
Reached by Ally Condie
The Kiss by James Patterson and Jill Dembowski
I’m ashamed to say I didn’t realize this had come out until I stumbled upon it in Barnes & Noble the other day. I’ve listened to all the others in Witch and Wizard series, but I don’t have frequent enough “car time” for audiobooks anymore so it will be interesting actually reading this one.
Series to Start:
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Another dystopian, but I guess it’s a trend I’m following. I’ve heard good things about this one and it’s going to be a movie, so it’s gotta be read if I ever want to watch it.
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I’m not quite sure what it’s about, but it keeps getting recommended to me so there must be a reason. There’s really no excuse for it not getting read already as it’s been sitting on my shelf for about a year now. But it’s made it to a public list so now it must be read soon right?
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
This is the April pick for my bookclub and it looks pretty awesome. (And it must be, because there is a crazy amount of holds on it for being published in 2008) It’s not a fantasy novel, but it includes an old book of fairy tales in it’s blurb so I’m in!
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
So after my not so great experience with Between the Lines hopefully this will be better. The premise looks promising (again); dramatic with some WWII history mixed in. We will see…
If there are any gaping holes in this list I need to address please let me know!! What is everyone else reading this spring??