Well the New Year’s reading has not started off with a promising start…but it can only get better from here then right?
I decided to try a historical fiction novel, Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey which I received from LibraryThing’s wonderful Early Reviewer’s Program. My mind needed a break from the Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter world I was immersed in for two weeks and for which my heart still misses. (I will post a review of the Infernal Devices Series once school has started back up again : )
This historical fiction story just couldn’t capture my attention. I read about 80 pages before calling it quits, which I DESPISE doing. (However, I guess I do already know how it’s going to end…) There may have been a couple exterior factors affecting why I didn’t enjoy the book like I didn’t realize it was the third book in a trilogy and I was still on a major book hangover from the Infernal Devices trilogy. Nonetheless, I did not feel any sort of connection to the characters and it felt more like I was reading nonfiction than fiction. Perhaps reading the first two books in the series would provide the reader with necessary background information and giver more depth to the characters.
Well on to finishing the Matched series by Ally Condie…let’s see how this goes!
Are there any cool Reading Challenges going on this year? I would really like to do one besides the Goodreads one I participate in every year…. Let me know!
Who knew randomly ordering a clearance book off Barnes and Noble years ago would end up with such an obsession. I will NEVER regret ordering The Secret History of the Pink Carnation because I liked the title and the cover looked cool, because now I’m on the 10th one in the series and I still LOVE every word of it. You would think at 10 books in this series I would get sick of it, however, the exact opposite is true…I keep falling even more head over heels in love with Willig’s Pink Carnation series. They are just pure amazingness : ) The wit in these books is outstanding and she is one of three authors (as of yet) who can make me laugh out loud while reading on a regular basis. Gah, I want the next one is this series NOW!
If you’re not familiar with Willig’s writing style, it is one that flips between two different storylines; one in the past (Bonaparte’s time) and one in present day. All except one of her novels in this series is written in this manner. In the first few books I felt the present day storyline could have been done away with, but I now I truly care about these modern folks and do actually take the time to read their stories.
In Passion of the Purple Plumeria we have as the main character Miss Gwendolyn Meadows, the governess of Jane Wooliston. Miss Gwen has always been an imperious and rather humorous (because she’s so blunt) character in previous novels so I was very interested (and a little nervous) to see how a book focusing on her would turn out. I was afraid I wouldn’t believe her story because of what I had already read about her beforehand…but I needn’t have worried. Willig did a splendid job of keeping the story just as believable, action-packed, humorous, and as full of passion as all of her other novels. This one in particular had great banter back and forth between Miss Gwen and her Colonel Williams.
I wish I could get everyone to read this series….is the next one out yet?
So, I’m relatively new to the whole blogging show, but so far (I think anywho) it’s been going great! At least it’s a TON of fun which I think is what matters the most. If you’re not having fun while you’re blogging, your blog will suffer. I love coming home and getting to write about books (after a day at work filled with only getting to look at them and sometimes, when I’m lucky, recommend them!). It’s also so cool when people and publishers contact you to help promote something of theirs or want you to review one of their books…and others respond to it after it’s posted! (It makes me feel special and happy…I’m easily amused : )
I guess to try and develop my blog my first step was to (of course since I’m a librarian) check out as many books as I could find on blogging and go from there. But after that I was on my own, so here are the top 5 things I’ve learned as I’ve started (starting) to develop my blog :
- Write in the style you’re comfortable with.
Then you’ll develop your own unique style. Whether that be formal and structured or more laid back with your personality at the heart of it.
- Visit others blogs and Interact!
It’s so important to go and see who else is out there and what is being talked about. You’ll discover hot meme’s, topics, different ways to post or format your layout. Plus, you get to meet so many awesome people!
- Make time for blogging.
Blogging is time consuming. So sometimes you just gotta make the time to do it. And sometimes you gotta take a break too and not feel bad about it. Planning would probably come in handy here, but I haven’t gotten that far yet…
- Don’t get discouraged!
Sometimes you’ll write posts that aren’t as popular as others and that’s okay. Just move on.
- Connect via social media and other great sites.
Now onto genre fiction….
I love a mix of genres, some more than others, and some I have no love for (respect yes, just not love).
I like to read a mix of YA and adult fantasy and paranormal, historical fiction, book club books, and then just some random ones I find with cool looking covers. The only things I don’t like to read are hardcore romances, westerns, most Christian fiction, and most of the books where the author’s name is larger than the actual title.
I am drawn to dragons, magic, and mythical creatures in the fantasy genre. Books like Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Eragon by Christopher Paolini, Sage’s Septimus Heap Magyk series, and the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia.
In the historical fiction genre I zone in on WWII, the Underground Railroad, and English History. My favorites are; Gilt by Katherine Longshore, The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen, the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Check out one of my earlier Top Ten Tuesday’s on words or topics that make me instantly make me pick up a book for some more recommendations on books in these genres : )
What are some ways you’ve developed your log? What are some of your favorite genres or books within your favorite genres?
What a powerful story (it made me cry, but for a good reason) ! I received this book from the author Nancy Klann Moren (check out her website here)and once I started reading it, tore through it in less than a day! I enjoyed the characters and really felt for them (which makes or breaks a book for me). The events within the story also felt realistic to me for the time period (Small town Mississippi in the 1980’s). So many different ideas were covered within this story I couldn’t believe they all fit together so seamlessly; but they sure did. This would make a great book club/discussion piece! There are sooo many possible topics within this story to sit and think about or talk over with others; Vietnam war, segregation, how the fight for equality has changed, depression, over-medication, and the list goes on and on.
The Clock of Life follows the transformation of Jason Lee from a kind-hearted young boy into a mature man with a purpose in life. Jason Lee must overcome and learn about many difficult situations the hard way. His best friend is a black boy, Samson, which he finds out isn’t easily accepted in small town Mississipi in the early 1980’s. Along with being friends with Samson despite the feelings of others, Jason must learn from everyone except his mom about his dad, J.L., who died in the Vietnam War before he was born. What Jason discovers about his father inspires him, yet also scares him (because how can he live up to a man so brave?)
Jason’s mom, Cassie also offers a great storyline and discussion point within the book. Cassie’s life is completely turned upside down when her husband is killed in Vietnam, but she doesn’t deal with her feelings for many years down the road resulting in multiple issues for her. I loved reading about her and thought it was great that her element was added to the story. But, my favorite character in The Clock of Life is Jason’s quirky uncle and Cassie’s twin Mooks. Mooks, injured in Vietnam is lovable and inspiring and a wonderful addition to the story. All of these characters and their individual stories interweave beautifully adding up to a powerful and completely satisfying ending.
Be sure to check this one out and look forward to an author interview in the future!
Also, congratulations to Daniela over at YA Book Season on snagging the signed copy of Cinder! Check out her site for some awesome YA reviews!
What are some of your favorite books about segregation, racism, or Vietnam?
Since I’ve fallen quite behind lately on my reading and haven’t done a storytime in a while due to a (still) mysterious illness, I decided to share some of my post-blogging day’s reviews! Now, these are all fairly short and to the point, but here are four reviews from varying genres to start with:
The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen
Centered around a strong female African American character, this book provides a story filled with inspiration and hope. Mary is a slave in Richmond, Virginia who is set free and sent North to receive an education by her wealthy mistress, Bet Van Lew. Mary leaves her beloved parents behind in Virginia to receive her education and realizes that she wants more than to just be free and educated; she wants to make a difference and help end slavery. So when Mary is given the chance to return to Richmond and turn spy for the Union against President Jefferson Davis, she takes
it. Along the way, Mary is confronted with many difficult choices, discovers love and loss, and risks everything she has to help end slavery. A wonderful, inspirational story I enjoyed reading and felt like I learned something from.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
(Yes, I did pick up this book just because I loved the movie growing up.) Lots of adventure, fun characters, and magical lands intertwined with life lessons. Bastian Balthazar Bux unknowingly embarks on the adventure of a lifetime when he steals the Neverending Story and cuts school to read the book. A very thought provoking junior fiction fantasy novel which I’m sure would uncover more meaning each time it is read.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
(Again I loved this movie …and then found out it was a book.) Great story full of magic, humor, and romance. The main character, Tristran Thorn, sets off on a mission to find a fallen star to give to the woman he thinks he loves. Along the way, he meets many interesting characters and has quite a few magical adventures in the mysterious land of Faerie. Overall, a very fun and exciting book you won’t want to put down.
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
A teen sci-fi novel which is easy to follow, action-packed, funny, and entertaining. This is a book that’s hard to put down once you start reading. Aliens who look like humans trying to save our planet from the same fate their own planet suffered; destruction from the hands of the Mogadorians.
Have you read any of these? Or got any suggestions for me? I’d love to hear from you!
Lauren Willig is awesome! The Ashford Affair is a standalone novel outside of the Pink Carnation series and it is amazing. Ashford is quite different from the Carnation series. It has a lot more depth and meaning and takes more “thinking” to read than her previous stories, but is well worth it. The novel is filled with complex relationships, family drama (which everyone can relate to at a certain point), and mystery (even when I thought I had everything figured out, another twist would pop up!).
Ashford tells the tale of the confusing, heartbreaking, but oh-so-necessary transformation of two women from two different generations and lifestyles, Addie and Clemmie, from their follow-the-leader personalities to independent and confident ways. Addie is from 1920’s England when times were different, there were society rules to follow and women were supposed to be okay with whatever they were told to do and be. As a young girl Addie is thrown into a life of rules and formality after she is sent to live with her aunt and uncle at Ashford when her parents are killed in a tragic accident. Bea, Addie’s gorgeous yet wild and reckless cousin, takes her under her wing and tries to mold Addie, but how can Addie step out on her own? And when Addie finally finds a man she might love, will Bea let her make her own decision?
Then there is the story of Clemmie in modern day New York City. Her transformation must come in another form. She’s been tied to work and school for as long as she can remember. Doing whatever she’s been told by her bosses; staying late, working holidays, throwing away relationships, but for what purpose? Is having a successful career more important than finding love and having lasting relationships? Or is there a happy medium?
I loved this story it really made me made think about my life because all of the different issues it brought up. There are so many discussible topics in this book! World War I happens and its’ repercussions, the effects of divorce and affairs when they were first becoming more “popular” and the comparison to how they are viewed now, family secrets, the morals of marrying for love or for status, loving someone who is in a bad marriage, and the list goes on and on. This would make a great book club book; the discussion could go on for a very long time 🙂 Plus part of the book takes place in Kenya in the post World War I era which I really enjoyed reading about because it was something totally new to me.
And Willig’s next book, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, comes out in August !!
I have loved Philippa Gregory’s Tudor series in the past, so I was pretty excited when I saw she had written a young adult novel taking place in the 1450’s which was in the historical fiction/fantasy genre. BUT, this was just an OK story for me and I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been expecting so much out of it. I just don’t see where the fantasy was in the book though. I kept waiting and waiting…and waiting and then the book was over and I was very confused about how this was classified as a fantasy novel. Putting aside the fact that I was holding my breath the whole time for something paranormal to happen, the actual storyline wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t amazing either. It was very hard for me to stay focused on the story and took me quite a while to finish reading. I really didn’t feel a strong connection to any of the characters either which didn’t help my meandering attention.
The main male character, Luca, is taken from his home at the monastery and finds himself working for the Pope as a part of the “Order of Darkness”. Luca’s job is to investigate all forms of evil throughout the land since the end of days is believed to be near. He travels with his quirky, yet good-hearted friend, Freize, and a “spy” of the Pope, Brother Peter, who makes sure they follow their duties and complete their inquiries.
Luca’s story interweaves with Isolde’s tale. Isolde has recently lost her father and, to top it all off, been told by her brother that she’s been stripped of all inheritance and must either marry a horrible prince or become abbess of their land’s nunnery. Isolde, along with her faithful friend Ishraq, head to the nunnery where their paths cross with Luca’s.
Luca has come to the nunnery to discover the source of a mysterious problem which started occurring ever since Isolde and Ishraq arrived. What will Luca discover about the mystery of the abbey and what are the implications for Isolde and Ishraq? After the abbey mystery is solved and you think How can this story go on? it does, and it gets a little more interesting, but not more paranormal (so don’t hold your breath).
If you want a historical fiction mystery, check this book out. However, if you are looking for a historical fiction fantasy novel, I would look elsewhere. I will continue to read Philippa Gregory’s purely historical fiction novels because they are fun and you feel like you are learning something from them, however I don’t think this particular series will be one I continue on with.
I bought this book about 3 years ago and never got around to reading it…until now! I probably wouldn’t have read it for another 3 years if I hadn’t selected it for my book and movie club selection this month though. However, I’m really glad I finally read this book, it was a great read and taught me a lot about geishas (since I knew absolutely nothing beforehand, that would be everything) and it even taught me about myself by making me reflect on decisions I’ve made and decisions I’m making now or will be making in the near future.
Review of book:
Memoirs of a Geisha is a beautifully written book, full of topics and sentences that make the reader stop and think for a while. For example:
“This is why dreams can be such dangerous things: they smolder on like a fire does, and sometimes they consume us completely.”
You always hear about how great it is to have dreams, but sometimes they can become destructive if you aren’t careful. (Something I had been pondering over and it was wonderful to stumble upon a sentence that was like “Hey, I know what you’re thinking! You’re not the only one who thinks like this.”) I also felt I was able to learn a lot about what exactly a geisha was (not a prostitute) and some of the different aspects of the culture around and during the time of WWII. It was a very interesting and thought-provoking read, but, for me, not an all-consuming “can’t put it down book”.
The story follows the life of a little girl from a poor fishing village into her ultimate transformation into one of the greatest geisha of all time and then her life after quitting the role of a geisha. Along the way she faces many difficult choices, unfair predicaments, and some pretty nasty characters. Her life is far from easy and her choices will make or break her in the tough life of becoming (and staying) a respected geisha. And can she be a geisha, while still remaining true to herself?
Overall, this was a great book; it teaches many lessons about life and history while not being overly depressing (I didn’t even cry!). It made me think about the choices I’m making in my life, so I think it’s a worthwhile read.
Movie in comparison with book:
The movie was beautiful too, although different from the book in a number of ways. For me, the overall feel of the characters, including the main character Sayuri, was not the same. She didn’t have the same charm, vulnerability, sarcastic humor, and intelligence that I perceived throughout the book. Some of the other characters who felt different included; Sayuri’s sister has a little more depth, the Chairman has more involvement throughout the movie, Mameha was definitely more motherly and understanding than I pictured (I had imagined more of a sister, who is rather harsh). Mr. Taneka, Sayuri’s mother, Granny, the General, and several other characters are also virtually non-existent in the movie, whereas they had a rather large part in the book. However, Hatsumomo was pretty spot on. Some of her actions were changed (one of them is quite a shocker!), but the feel of her character I thought stayed true to the book.
Despite the characters not having the same feel as in the book, the tale of Sayuri’s growth into a geisha remains as tragic and moving as the written version. Some scenes are also notably different, but I didn’t feel that they detracted from the overall effect. However, if I hadn’t read the book first, I don’t think I would have understood this movie very well. The beginning is quite abrupt and offers little explanation, and Mameha’s appearance has no apparent reason at all.
I did enjoy seeing the descriptions of the kimonos, instruments, the style of dance, and the types of architecture described in the book within the movie. I could only picture so much of what was described without the visual aide of the movie. Some of the scenes are breathtaking, with beautiful costumes, make-up, and dancing.
Overall, the movie was pretty good in comparison to the book, not perfect, but not bad. The book was one I won’t likely forget, and the movie was stunningly beautiful on its own; a great combination.
“We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.”
~Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden