Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Lovely Bones

Pin It

Though the subject manner of this book is hard to choke down, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  I had seen this book floating around the Book Review Blogs and message boards for a while but for some reason I had no preconceived notions about what this book was about or what to expect.  I happened upon it one day when I was at the Goodwill (a great place to beef up your books shelf, with 50 cent books... But I digress), and so I snatched it up and started reading it feverishly for the next few hours.  With in the first few pages I the flood gates of emotions opened and I was happy, humored, sad, furious, and nauseated all at the same time.

So here is the plot.  Susie Salmon (like the fish) is walking home from school one day when she is brutally raped and then violently murdered.  After her horrible demise she tells her story while she is looking down at her family and murderer from heaven and watching how they all deal with the aftermath of her death.  Her sister is heart broken, her father sets off on a mission to find the man who did this to her, her crush at school is accused, the murder starts thinking about who his next victim will be, and the school loner sees Susie's ghost every so often.  All the while Susie is getting used to her new home in heaven.  She meets a new friend and starts to figure out how heaven works and what she can and can't do up there.

I thought that even though the subject matter is VERY heavy, the story is told with a touch of humor and is quite easy to digest.  Usually something very violent would turn me off but the story felt complete and right when Susie finished telling her story.  There is a little bit of a fantasy/paranormal plot line twist on the end that I thought was strange and didn't flow well with the story but I kind of enjoyed that part as well.  I was glad that Susie had the chance to do what she did on the end.  All in all I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone really that can stomach the first few chapters (it really isn't for everyone).

Book vs. Movie:  Well I am eagerly awaiting The Lovely Bones movie that comes out January 15th.  I hope they do the book justice though I won't hold my breath as I am ALWAYS disappointed in movies made from books.  Here is the trailer.  Enjoy!

The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold

If you liked this book then read: Peony in Love by Lisa See

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Pin It

I just wanted to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! I must have been a very good girl this year because I received some great books that were on my TBR list!!! Hush, Hush; Tomorrow When the War Began; The Host; and Her Fearful Symmetry! I am looking forward to some good reading over the next few weeks.  WooHoo!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Monsters of Templeton

Pin It

I had been on such a good roll!  I had been reading some really amazing stories, one right after another, but I guess it had to end somewhere, and so it came to a screeching halt with The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff.  Wow...  I mean just wow... This book rambled on and on and was just so bizarre that I had to keep reading to see what other crazy thing was going to happen. 

So anyway lets cut to the chase...  Here is the plot line...  When the story opens we are in a picturesque little town in upstate New York called Templeton (based loosely on the authors home town of Cooperstown NY).  It is one of those places with a lot of history (apparently the birth place of baseball), where everyone knows everyone else's business, and most people don't ever leave.  In the town there is a HUGE glacial lake called Lake Glimmerglass. On this particular morning on the lake a rower finds the legendary lake monster Glimmey floating belly up.  On this same morning Willie Upton comes home from her life in Stanford University, pregnant with her professors baby and feeling like it is the end of her world.  While she is home her mother, an aging hippie turned evangelis, Vi, sets Willie working on a project that will keep her mind off all her troubles.  Vi tells Willie that her father is an upstanding man from Templeton (not just a past fling from her Hippie days), but the kick is that Vi isn't telling who.  The only clue that Willie has is that her father is in a very round about illegitimate way related to the Temples that founded this little town, while Willie is a direct descendant of the founding father Marmaduke Temple. To solve the mystery Willie has to dive deep into her family history that stretches back across 2 centuries to the first citizens of Templeton.

The story wasn't all bad it was just weird and I though the plot was flimsy.  The characters weren't all that fleshed out and the only real interesting thing to me was the lake monster but as unique of an angle as that could have been there wasn't much going on with poor dead Glimmey.  I did like that the chapters were all in different voices, some times in Willies, sometimes in Willies relatives that span across 2 centuries.  And I did like that they gave a little tiny shout out to my home town Louisville Kentucky (small mention of the Louisville Bats)!!  All and all it isn't one that will leave a lasting impression on me that is for sure.

Annoying Book Moment:  Lauren Groff was a bit obsessed with the "he said", "she said" bit.  During a conversation between characters it was getting a bit redundent when the page read like this:
"Bla diddy blah blah" She said
"Blah Blah Blah" He said
"Yadda Yadda Yadda Blah" She said
"Smakety smakety yadda bla" He said.
"Bla Ba diddy yadda bla" She said.
"blah blah blah" He said.
It was down right maddening with all the "said said said" on every other page.

Book vs. Movie:  I don't think that this book would make a good screen play.  While the story was somewhat interesting I don't think I could see it on the big screen.  It would be WAY too slow moving for me.

The Monsters of Templeton
by Lauren Groff

If you like this book you should read: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Friday, December 11, 2009

TBR Challenge 2010 - My First Challenge Ever!

Pin It

So I have decided to participate in my first ever book reading challenge, and I am super excited!!!  The challenge I have accepted is the 2010 TBR (To Be Read) Challenge set up by MizB (though, I heard about the challenge over on Babbette's Book Blog).

Here are the Rules:

  • Make a list of books that have been sitting on your TBR shelf for 6 months or longer.
  • Publish the list on your blog before January 1st, 2010.
  • Audio and E-books are allowed.
  • Re-reads are not allowed.
  • Create a Alternate List (a list of other titles) just in case something on your TBR list doesn't tickle your fancy at the time.
  • Read them all before the last day of 2010.
  • You can check out the Yahoo group that MizB has set up for this challenge if you'd like.
  • You can overlap this Challenge with any other you are doing this year!
  • Happy Reading!

My 2010 TBR Challenge List:

  • Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (yeah I know I am a bad book a-holic)
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
  • How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets by Garth Stein
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer
  • The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
  • The Montrumologist by Rick Yancy
  • The Book Theif by Markus Zusak
  • Lolita by Valdimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

Alternate List:

  • Sunday's At Tiffany's By James Patterson
  • The Heretics Daughter by Kathleen Kate
  • The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  • Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
  • The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Time Travlers Wife

Pin It

Okay.  I think it is finally time...  I have been waiting for just the right moment to review my #1 favorite book on my book shelf.  It is the book that changed reading for me forever.  I put books into two categories, before Time Travelers Wife, and after Time Travelers Wife.  Before The Time Travelers Wife I didn't really know how much I could actually LOVE and appreciate a book.  After Time Travelers Wife I have found other books that rival this one in either writing or plot (but never really both).  The reason it has taken me this long to write my review is because I just didn't know how to put my love into words.  I am still not sure I am up to the task but I think I am going to finally give it a whirl.  The first thing I want to say is that when you pick up The Time Travelers Wife you have to clear your mind of any expectations you may have for this story and start completely fresh.  I have read this book multiple times and every time I flip open the cover I have to forget what I already know.  I have to pretend I have never met Clare or Henry before, that I don't know about their unique love story, that I don't know the fate of these two characters, I have to start fresh Every. Single. Time.  And every time I read this brilliant piece of writing by Audrey Niffenegger, I laugh at the funny parts, and I cry at the sad ones, and even though I know all of them by heart, I fall in love again.

Bear with me and try to wrap your head around this creative plot...  When Clare meets Henry for the first time, Clare is a very little girl and Henry is a middle aged man, and Henry at the time of Clare's first meeting is married to Clare in the future.  When Henry meets Clare for the first time, Clare is in her early twenties and Henry is on the brink of thirty, but Clare has known Henry for her entire life and Henry is just meeting her for the first time.  Henry has a genetic disorder that hurls him (unwillingly) back and forth through time so a meeting like this can be possible. We follow Henry and Clare through their unique lives, through both of the first meetings, through their marriage, their family, and life as a Time Traveler.  And there is no way in heck you are going to pry more information out of me about this story.  You will just have to read it yourself to find out more about this amazing love story that takes place in the past, present, and future.

I know the plot sounds complicated but Niffenegger has penned a tale that is so easy to follow yet so intricate in nature that you are instantly drawn into the story.  Every time I read this book I am flabbergasted that someones brain works the way that Audrey Niffenegger's does.  She is a genius to be able to come up with a story line so complicated, and yet so beautifully written that you can follow it so well.  I only wish I could have her brain for an hour or two so I could experience how it works.

Book vs. Movie: Sadly (like always) the movie did no justice to this story.  If you have seen this movie please don't judge book.  There is so much information packed into the pages of the novel that it would be nearly impossible to put it into a 2 hour movie.  When we went to see the movie my husband (who has not read the book) leaned over to me and said "this is a great movie".  I turned to him and looked at him like he was crazy.  I was so disappointed.  At least he enjoyed the show but if he ever reads the book (highly unlikely) I am sure he would agree that there is not even the slightest comparison.  

The Time Travelers Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

If you liked this book read: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Read & Reviewed

Pin It
Books that I have read and reviewed in alphabetical order by title:

Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund
Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Borrows 

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Immortal by Traci L. Slatton
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
In The Woods by Tana French



The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diament
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff


One Second After by William R. Forstchen
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
On Folly Beach by Karen White
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

The Passage by Justin Cronin
Peony in Love by Lisa See
The Plague by Albert Camus


Rococo by Adriana Trigiani
The Road by Cormac McCarthy 
Room by Emma Donoghue

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden


The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Why We Suck by Denis Leary
Wicked by Gregory Maguire




Review Policy

Pin It
Reading your book would be my honor, so if you have a novel you think I may like then please send me an email at  If the book looks like something of interest to me {and if I have the time}, I will take it on!  I will read it as soon as I can and I will review it as soon as possible.  I treat all my book reviews the same; if I love the book I will gush, and if I don't like it my readers will know.  I will Tweet about it and Facebook about it too!

The books I typically enjoy the best are Historical Fiction, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Adventure and some Biographies (if the person is of interest to me).  I am open to reviewing other types of work as well so email me and ask!

I look forward to hearing from you and diving into your great work!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Pin It

I would expect nothing but the best from Sena Jeter Naslund, and she brought it with Abundance!  I know you are all sick of hearing me say it, but to me it is about a beautifully written piece of work, and Abundance had that as well as a great story of Marie Antoinette.  I was hypnotized by her writing and I was addicted to the story to see what was going to happen to Marie (I mean besides visiting the guillotine and all).  French history is something I didn't know much about so I was also excited to learn some new things about the French Revolution and the royal family.

Abundance starts as Marie Antoinette leaves Austria as a girl of only 14 and enters into France to become the Dauphine and wife of the Dauphin, Louie-Auguste.  The story is told through the eyes of Antoinette and I think it was interesting to see how Naslund made her mature in her voice through out the story.  In the beginning she is self absorbed, and frivolous in her thoughts and speech but then as the story goes on and she grows older she matures and you hear it in the way Naslund writes.  The way Naslund tells the story, Marie Antoinette wanted nothing but good for the people of France, and tabloidish type pamphlets muddied her name and made her an enemy to the people.  The people of France needed someone to blame their condition on and so it was an obvious choice to blame the extreme hunger and poverty on the Queen that had everything.  Naslund created her Marie Antoinette walking a thin line between frivolity and responsibility to her country.  Even at the end, while she was preparing to die to appease the people of France, she loved her country and its people but she was also worried about how her plum colored silk slippers looked.

If you like historical fiction than this is a great book for you to read.  If you don't like historical fiction I feel like you would find this book interesting still, because it reminds me of chick-lit at its best (shopping, pretty things, romance, sex, girl friends, little dogs, etc).  If you are like me and will read a book because the writing is mesmerizing then this is a good book for you too!

Annoying word of Abundance:  Besmirched.  The only compliant I have of Abundance is that Naslund uses the word Besmirched extraordinarily too many times in this book.  I hate when an author repeats a word over and over and over again.  Midway through the book we understood loud and clear that Marie Antoinette didn't want her name, her friends names, her clothes, her reputations, her bedding, to be Besmirched.  Blah.

Book vs. Movie:  If you ever saw the 2006 movie Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst you, saw the frivolous side of Abundance.  But if you were to truly make Abundance into a movie I think you would need to do it better than this Sophia Coppola version.  Marie Anoinette only showed one layer of the Queen that Naslund wrote about.  It would be interesting to dive into the other layers of the last Queen of France.

by Sena Jeter Naslund

If you liked this book please read: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Help {Book Club Read}

Pin It

I am on a roll with AMAZING books!  I read this book for our December Book Club and I couldn't put it down!!!  I truthfully wasn't really excited to read the book at first but that's what book clubs are for, branching out your reading list, right?  Anyway, I bought the book, took it home, read the first chapter and it was all over from that point.  I was hooked big time with the writing, again for me, most of the time, it is about OUT OF THIS WORLD writing, and this book has it as well as a wonderful story.  This debut novel by Kathryn Stockett held me captive with the amazing dialect she used with each character.  She really new how to develop her characters and it made the book so enjoyable.  Each chapter of the book was written in one of the characters points of view, and that kept the story fresh and exciting with every turn of the page.

The story takes place in Jackson Mississippi during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.  The Society ladies run the town of Jackson, and their houses are ran by their "colored" hired help.  The ladies trust the raising of their children to their maids but they don't trust them to polish their silver (a line from the book jacket that has stuck with me).  It is a horrible time of segregation, racism, and cruelty in Jackson and three women take it upon themselves to try and change things.  The story follows these three women Skeeter (a society lady that thinks things need to change), Aibileen (a black lady that works as a maid for one of Skeeters best friends), and Minny (Aibileen's best friend and also a maid for another crazy rich lady in town).  Skeeter is troubled by the way her friends treat their maids and decides that she is going to write a book about the relationships between the maids and the ladies that employ them, from the maids point of view.  This is a dangerous project that could end up getting Aibileen and Minny killed, as severe beatings are common in Jackson at this point in time for people that speak out against segregation and civil rights.  When the book becomes a best seller things get out of control in Jackson as accusations fly, friends ships are broken, and the maids are terrified of loosing their jobs (or their lives).

While I read this book I felt a profound sense of sadness.  I can't believe that there was ever a time of such hatred and cruelty.  And then after that I felt ashamed with the realization that a lot of people still think this way.  I give great applause to Kathryn Stockett for treading a thin line to write this story.  There is a lesson in her words and I am a better person for reading The Help.  I have already started recommending this book to anyone that will listen, so if you haven't go out and buy this book ASAP!!

Book vs. Movie: I would absolutely watch a movie based on The Help.  The writing is so well done that I could actually see this story unfolding before my eyes, so to really see it on the screen would be amazing.  I am sure that a screenplay will be in the works real soon.

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

If you like this book than read: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Pin It

So today I was given my second blog award!  Thank you oh-so-much Jazz at About Book Blog for thinking of me for the Honest Scrap Award, you made my day!  So there is a something you have to do when accepting this award and that is to write 10 Honest Things about yourself (make sure they aren't 10 boring things about yourself), and then pass the award on to 10 honest bloggers!  So here it goes:

1.  I have TONS of unread books on my book shelf but when I finish a book I go out and buy new ones because I just can't seem to find anything else to read.

2.  I am crazy addicted to Farmville on Facebook.

3.  I own my own business, a bridal boutique called The Couture Closet.

4.  I have a dog named Martini and I am kind of annoyingly obsessed with her.  I talk about her like she is my child and I know it's annoying but I can't stop.

5.  When my house is super clean I don't ever want to leave it.

6.  My husband is a firefighter and that makes me so proud.

7.  I was born in sunny California but now I live in Kentucky and I don't ever want to leave.

8.  I HATE skiing.  And this is something I just learned about myself recently when I was on top of a mountain in Colorado and had to ski down.

9.  I am the author of 4 blogs.  Classic Whimsy, Geebs Book Club, The Couture Closet Blog, and Montgomery KY.

10.  I really really really want to be on the Amazing Race.

And the Award goes too.....

A Good Addiction
Coffee Stained Pages
Confessions of a Book Whore
Reading is Sexy
Fiction Fanatic
With a Good Book
Tales of Whimsy
Mindful Musings
The Neverending Shelf

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Boleyn Inheritance

Pin It

So here is my promised review of the last installment of Philippa Gregory's King Henry VIII novels.  I think that I enjoyed The Boleyn Inheritance better than any of the other two books on King Henry's wives.  I thought that this book was just clever in how it depicted the repercussions of Anne Boleyn and how it effected all of the English Court, through the eyes of three women.  After Anne visited the chopping block, the King's life changed forever and there were few people in the country that weren't effected by the aftermath.  The King has now divorced his first wife, killed his second wife, and lost is third wife in childbirth.  He is lonely, ill, loosing his good looks, at odds with the Catholic Church, and at odds with his people, all these things make this part of his history very entertaining.

This book is written in the point of view of Anne of Cleves (Henry's 4th wife), Katherine Howard (Henry's 5th wife), and Jane Boleyn (George Boleyn's horrible crazy wife).  So when we open this book the king is mourning over the death of his beloved wife Jane Seymour.  He needs to find a new wife and Queen of England so he sends out his royal match makers to find him the perfect spouse.  He settles on Anne of Cleves, and when he meets her (and marries her) he realizes that this woman will just not do (surprise surprise) and he divorces her.  During this quick marriage he is occupying his time with a young somewhat slutty immature girl named Katherine Howard, cousin to the King's infamous wife Anne (and you know with that combo, this can't end well).  In the end there are accusations, treason, and heads rolling once again.

Like I said before, I really enjoyed this book.  I didn't want to go into too much detail about the plot because it would sound like a history lesson, but don't let that turn you off from reading this book.  Because out of all the families in history the Tudor's story most resembles a steamy soap opera.  King Henry and his wives invented the word drama I am sure.

Book vs. Movie: I don't know if I would watch a movie just based off this book.  And I don't think that a 2 hour movie could quite catch a glimpse of the entire reign of King Henry VIII; but, the Showtime series The Tudors is doing a VERY VERY good job.  And if you don't want to watch the show for the history then at least watch it for Jonathan Rhys Meyers... Yum...

The Boleyn Inheritance
by Philippa Gregory

If you liked this book read: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Catching Fire

Pin It

Oh.  My.  Gosh.  If Suzanne Collins was sitting next to me right now I would give her a big ol' kiss on the lips!!!  Not only did she hit it out of the park with Hunger Games but then she out did her self with this little gem.  I was so excited to see what was going on with Katniss and Peeta that I feel like I flew through this book and really didn't have time to digest it.  I even had to go back and skim back through chapters to pick up some details that I flew past the first time on my anxious pursuit to see what was going to happen next!

In this second installment of Suzanne Collins Hunger Game trilogy we start out back in District 12 after Katniss and Peeta have survived the Hunger Games.  After they come back home and readjust to life in District 12 they have to head out on their mandatory winners tour of the districts, unfortunately President Snow is oh-so-angry about their little rebellious move in the Hunger Games arena and he is out to make an example out of Katniss and Peeta.  With rebellion rumors bubbling up in the some of the districts and the "Quarter Quell" just around the corner, we are right back in the thick of things with Katniss and Peeta.  You don't really know what is going on until about page 175 but when you get there you are like OH MY GOSH, HOLY MOLY, I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED, WHAT THE HECK!!!!!

I think that this book may even top the Hunger Games if you can believe it!  I LOVED the ride that Suzanne Collins took me on with this one.  The only 2 things I can complain about is that I can't wait a whole year for the final story to be told and I still don't know if I am Team Peeta or Team Gale!!

Book vs. Movie:  Yes please!  Hurry!!

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins
ISBN-13: 9780439023498

If you liked this book please read: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wicked {The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West}

Pin It

There is oh-so-much I can say about Wicked.  But the very first thing I have to say is that Gregory Maguire is a genius with words.  A genius I tell you!  The writing in this book is probably the most beautiful and clever writing I have ever experienced.  In the past I had tried to read the book and for whatever reasons would get distracted with something else so I decided to try the audio book and to actually hear the reader tell this story in Maguire's words is something I hope to experience again and again with more of Maguires masterpieces.  The story is so unique in the way he took a character (The Wicked Witch of the West) of a well known story (The Wizard of Oz) and expounded on her life.  You get reacquainted with some old characters and get to see them in a new light.  And the most interesting thing of it all is you get to see the political and religious life in Oz.

Throughout the story you learn who the dreaded Wicked Witch of the West really was, a good friend to Glinda, sister to Nessarose (The Wicked Witch of the East), lover to Fiyero, Mother to Liir, a strong willed woman who sympathized with the mistreatment and segregation of the Animals (groups of animals with human spirits..think the Cowardly Lion), and a rebel that wants to over through the Wizard of Oz.  I loved the fun play on words and the great names of towns and people in this book.

All in all it was a magical journey and I am looking forward to reading Son of a Witch (about Elphaba's son Liir), and Lion Among Men (about the Cowardly Lion).  I also think it would be great fun the read the tales Maguire spins on stories such as Cinderella and Snow White.  Look for more reviews to come as my To Be Read list just grew a mile or so longer!!! :)

Book vs. Movie:  OK so I know this is a HUGE HUGE Broadway hit and I haven't seen it yet!!!!  But I have to say that I would absolutely have to see this if it came in movie format!  I wasn't a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz when I was growing up (I mean the flying monkeys scared the hell out of me quite frankly) but this has such adult story lines that I think I would find if very amusing if in fact was done well.

by Gregory Maguire

Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Club {review of The Handmaid's Tale}

Pin It
So yesterday was our first official meeting as a Book Club!  It was so much fun!!!  It looks like we will have about 14 lovely ladies in all and the dynamics seem very good.  We read and discussed The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood and everyone had a lot to say about the themes, plot lines, and characters.  This book has a lot to talk about so the meeting started at 7pm and after about 30min. of chatting, snacking, and a little wine we started our discussion.  We wrapped up around 9:45 and I am sure we could have chatted for another hour at least!

The main topic of conversation stemmed on the fact that we decided this could actually happen and how easily.  At first there were some in the group that didn't think it would be possible but then one girl mentioned the Holocaust and how millions of Jewish people throughout an entire continent were rounded up and forced to live a certain way, families torn apart, millions killed.  I mentioned that it would be easy for every debit and credit card belonging to a female to be "turned off" of be considered invalid (just like the compucards in The Handmaid's Tale) and seeing as we only carry little bits of cash (if any) in our purses what would be able to do then?  At by the end of the discussion I think everyone decided that these things happening in The Handmaid's Tale could infact become a reality today.

Another thing we talked about for quite a while is whether we would want to be Marthas, Wives, or Handmaids.  We decided that NONE of us wanted to be Wives and most of us wanted to be Marthas.  We also decided that we might be more rebellious than Offred had been.

Over all I think the discussion was very interesting and I think we will do well as a group.  I can hardly wait until next month!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Email from Author Garth Stein

Pin It
So exciting!!  Today, I got an email form Garth Stein (author of The Art of Racing in the Rain).  He read my review on the book and wrote me an email back saying that he was glad that Enzo's story had touched me and to keep spreading the word!  The email just made my day!  How exciting this new world of blogging is!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Constant Princess

Pin It

So a few weeks ago I posted my review for The Other Boleyn Girl, and I promised in that review that I would post a review for the other King Henry books by Philippa Gregory.  I am here to partially fulfill that promise by reviewing The Constant Princess.  Whenever I read a novel by Philippa Gregory I really become lost in the history, I become much more educated by the time I am finished with one of her stories because I am always on Wikipedia looking up some diplomat or lady at Court, or prince, or princess I had never heard of before.  I feel like each of her books become a personal history lesson for me.  My husband (being a history major) is amused and maybe slightly irritated by my conversations beginning with "did you know..." about some person or event I am reading about in Gregory's books.  When I started reading The Constant Princess the only thing I really knew about Katherine of Aragon was that she was King Henry VIII first wife (and that she didn't have her head chopped off), but from there I couldn't tell you  much of anything else.

A lot of what I know (pre reading) about the life of King Henry VIII and his wives, I had learned from the Showtime Series The Tudors (you must tune into this show if you would like to see a very sexy version of the reign of King Henry VIII, though I would imagine that his reign was even spicier than the TV show depicts).  In this TV show they show Kathrine of Aragon as an older lady with a VERY strong Catholic faith that never stopped loving Henry until the day she died.  In The Constant Princess you get to know Katherine as a strong willed little girl that grew up on the battlefields of Spain, as a young woman married to Aurthur prince of Wales, and finally as a cunning woman who becomes the Queen of England and tries to hold onto her position.

Out of all the books by Gregory I think that The Constant Princess has been my least favorite.  Her writing style drew me in as always but it took me A L-O-N-G time to read this book.  The characters didn't really capture my attention.  I loved to hate Henry in the other books but in this one he was so young he just annoyed me.  And I really enjoyed the love story between Katherine and Aurthur but after he died I wasn't too into the rest of the book.  I would say absolutely read this book if you want to get the real story of the whole King Henry mess   reign, it will only educate you or inspire you to learn more about this great time in history.

The Constant Princess 
by Philippa Gregory

If you liked this book then read: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Handmaid's Tale - Book Club Read

Pin It

So this evening I finished The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I have read this book before but I suppose I had forgotten the details because I felt like I was reading it for the first time.  I could only sort of remember what was going to happen next so when the story unfolded it was like reading it anew!  I had to read this one for my book club and I am sure that it will encourage a lot of discussion because of the controversial nature of this story (I will post the outcome of the discussion next week after our meeting).  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Margaret Atwood.  I feel that she is a very important writer in literary history and I went through a time when I owned all her novels (even her collections of short stories) but I started to really dislike her writing style after reading about 6 or so of her novels.  Sometimes she would capture my attention and her writing (The Blind Assassin)was organized and easy to read and other times I felt she rambled and there was no point to the story she was trying to tell (The Robber Bride).  The Handmaid's Tale was one of the stories that I could fallow without boredom and while the ending isn't really satisfying, the story as a whole does make sense.

In The Handmaid's Tale we are introduced to a society that has taken hold after the fall of The United States.  A new government takes power and they are totally and staunchly biblically based.  Women loose all their rights including the right to read the written word, and they are kept as possessions of the men either as Wives, Handmaids (birthing machines), or Marthas (servants).  This book is the story of one Handmaid named Offred (a name given to her meaning possession Of Fred), it is told from her point of view, and it is the story of her life as a first generation Handmaid in the new land of Gilead.  Because she is a first generation Handmaid she remembers life as it was before the fall of the U.S. so it makes it much harder for her to adjust to her new life as a Handmaid her "Commanders" house.

I remember enjoying this book a lot when I read it the first time and I feel the same about it now.  It really is interesting to see a glimpse into society once life as we know it is over. Could these things really happen?  Would we as a society let them?  Maybe stories like The Hunger Games, The Handmaids Tale, and The Giver are a warning to us all.

Book vs. Movie:  There is a movie version of The Handmaid's Tale but judging by the pictures I have seen online it looks like a movie I am going to miss.  It was made in the early 90s and it doesn't look too promising.  If someone were to make a newer version of this movie I would absolutely go see it, just for a more visual idea of what Gilead and the Handmaid's looked like.  There is also an Opera about The Handmaid's Tale and I think that would be very interesting!

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 978-0-385-49081-8

If you liked this book than read:  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl

Pin It

The Other Boleyn Girl (TOBG) is one of my absolutely favorite books of all times.  After reading this book by Philippa Gregory I went through a little period of obsession with King Henry VIII and his time of power.  I devoured every morsel I could find on this brute and everything I read just made my obsession more acute.  I mean his reign was the stuff of Fairy Tales, medieval castles, knights, princesses, jousting, extreme riches and even more extreme poverty, the whims of a pampered prince and then of a selfish king.  Everything I read about King Henry and his six wives was not only history but a novel to me!  I read The Other Boleyn Girl and the other King Henry books by Philippa Gregory in very quick succession and I plan on blogging about all of them but right now I am just going to focus on TOBG.
If you have watched The Tudors on Showtime or have ever studied the reign of King Henry VIII then you know the general idea of the story/history.  This book focuses on Henry's relationship with the infamous Anne Boleyn, starting with her families obsession to gain power in Court and ending (no spoilers here hopefully) at the chopping block.  Philippa Gregory takes historical fact and fills in the shady bits with fiction; on her website she says "By and large the fiction fills in the gaps of the known historical record and brings it to life".  So the fiction part is what makes the story so interesting, spicy, and new.  In TOBG you are hearing the tale of Anne through the eyes of her sister Mary.  Mary is little known in history but she is said to have born one or two of Henry's bastard children (a son no less), and she was quite in love with Henry for a short time until his eyes drifted to her sister Anne.  Then Mary has to play a key roll in Anne's climb to be the Queen of England and then to keep her there while Henry's ever roaming eyes wander to a multitude of other ladies at Court.
Gregory's writing is amazing.  This lady has a way with words (this is why she is my most favorite author), everything that Gregory writes is a true work of art.  I almost always recommend one of her works to anyone that asks me for a good read.
Book vs. Movie: I do have to say though that TOBG movie was quite disappointing (as are most books turned movie).  It was fun to see the beautiful clothes and riches but the screen play fell extremely short of the actual book.

The Other Boleyn Girl 
By Philippa Gregory
ISBN: 0-7432-2744-1 

If you enjoyed this book, please read:  The Wideacre Trilogy by Philippa Gregory

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Hunger Games

Pin It

Wow. I truly enjoyed every page of this book. When I wasn't reading it I was starving for what was going to happen next (I was lucky that I had some air plane traveling to do this week so I could read to keep my mind off the flying part). I have always enjoyed stories about what life is like after society as we know it collapses and this one was THE BEST I have read with that post apocalyptic theme. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a YA book because the story was pretty heavy with a lot of political undertones and a lot of propaganda.

In this story we see what life is like after the United States has collapsed and a new society, Panem, has taken hold. Once a year every boy and girl between the ages of 12 to 18 are put into a lottery and one unlucky boy and one unlucky girl are chosen from each district (12 districts in all). Then these 24 teens are thrown into a huge arena where they fight to the death. The citizens of Panem are required to watch the fight on TV each night in sort of "reality TV" show fashion, and they bet on who will win and who will die. All the while the players have to watch their backs, stay alive, and charm the audience so they can recieve sponsors that can buy them things that will keep them alive in the arena. In the end the winner will receive riches and fame beyond anything they can comprehend considering that most people live in poverty in this new communistic society. The story follows the two teens chosen from District 12, Katniss and Peeta, and how they try and survive their time in the arena, knowing in the end there can only be one winner of The Hunger Games.

I really couldn't put this book down. I just ate up every word. I feel like I want to read it over right away to see if there is anything I missed. I think the concept of The Hunger Games is so imaginative and I feel like we aren't too far from a society that would find this kind of "entertainment" amusing. There are a few points in the book where I had tears in my eyes and a few times that I was outright shocked that people could be so gruesome to each other; but the whole time I was cheering on my favorite contestants of The Hunger Games, just like the country of Panem was doing. I just can't wait to get my hands on the next book in this series Catching Fire. I hope I'm not disappointed, but I can't imagine that it could be any better than this one.  Cheers to Suzanne Collins for penning such a magnificent story!

P.S. This would make an EXCELLENT movie, and it sounds like we won’t have to wait that long as Lionsgate has picked up distributing rights!!

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

If you liked this book also read:  The Giver by Lois Lowry

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Gargoyle

Pin It

I can’t stand it when I don’t finish the book I have started. It doesn’t happen too often but once in a while I just can’t find a connection with the characters or I can’t connect with the story so I just see no need to go on. Sadly that is what happened with The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I had such high expectations for this book because so many people had told me how great the story was, but I just don’t see it. I was disturbed by this book from the get go when the main character is being burned alive in a car accident. I am sure it is because my husband, Brendan, is a fire fighter and being burned alive is the worst thing I can think of happening to him. From that point on I couldn’t really concentrate on the story too much.

I am not going to go in to any details on this one, but I will say it was very well written and if the story was about anything else but a burn patient I would probably have been able to finish it and probably would have enjoyed it too!

The Gargoyle
by Andrew Davidson

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Pin It

Every once in a while I just need to read a "no brainer" book. A book that will entertain me and that is just about it. So I gave my brain a little vacation (and took time off from Gargoyle) to read Rococo by Adriana Trigiani. If you have ever read anything by Adriana Trigiani then you know what I am talking about. She always provides you with a great heartwarming story that is easy to read and doesn't make you think too hard, and this week that is exactly what I needed.

Bartolomeo di Crespi (I LOVED this characters name -Bartolomeo- LOVE it), is an interior designer in Olaf New Jersey. He loves to surround himself with all things beautiful and occasionally his crazy family. His life long dream is to redesign his church Our Lady of Fatima. When he finally gets his dream come true he realizes that getting what you wish for isn't always what it seems. Along the way you become engulfed in his big, loud, crazy, Italian family and all the drama that comes with it.

Something that I love about anything that Adriana Trigiani writes is her descriptions of clothing (like in Lucia, Lucia), and rooms (Rococo), or towns (Queen of the Big Time). She puts so much detail in what she is describing that you can almost feel the fabrics, sit on the ottomans, and wander down the streets. Her Italian casts of characters are always people you would want to meet, and you can feel the love of the families jump out of the pages. Something else I love about Adriana Trigiani's writing is the full recipes that are peppered throughout all her novels. You could write a cookbook with all the great recipes! I am going to try out Bartolomeo's Famous Hot Cocoa complete with Bourbon Balls this winter!

I do have one negative about this book. The cast of characters was so large that I was getting confused as to who was who and what their relationship was to the story. I understand that Italian Catholic families are loud and crazy and HUGE but for a novel it gets the reader a little confused.

Over all I would say that this is just a good old quick read. It entertained me completely as do all Trigiani's stories. I would recommend this book to anyone that wanted to do some light reading; it would be great to read on an airplane or on the beach. I usually read big, old, heavy stories but this one was like a breath of fresh air. And I mean it, try some of her recipes!

By Adriana Trigiani

If you like this read: Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Peony in Love

Pin It

I enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan so much I picked up another Lisa See novel a few weeks ago and again I was not disappointed. I devoured this novel in one sitting and was sad when it ended. I think I loved this book, where Snow Flower I just liked a lot. The culture of bound feet, quite women, and structure of ancient Chinese families had me entranced once again and I was on the edge of my seat to see what would happen next.
In Peony in Love we meet Peony, a very ambitious young girl that has a passion for an opera called The Peony Pavilion. She has read The Peony Pavilion several times and owns many different editions (which was down right scandalous in those days) and she becomes obsessed with the love affair of the main characters. She wants a love just as deep and passionate as the people in the play. Her obsession ends up killing her, but her doctors diagnose her with "love sickness", and she ends up in the after world. Peony in Love is the story of her "after life".

I don't want to go into any more details (though I am dying to tell you the whole story)! The book is full of twists and turns and will have keep you guessing as to what might happen next.  Like Snow Flower this book had me running to Wikipedia to learn new things about ancient Chinese culture and what they believe about their after lives. I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did and as much as you liked Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I would recomend Peony in Love to anyone that has a hankering for a great love story with a twist.

Peony in Love
by Lisa See
If you liked this book please read: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale

Pin It

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield was somewhat of a surprise to me. I had tried to read this book a while back but just couldn't get into it, so last week I decided to check it out as an audio book at my library and I was in to it from the first few words. Diane Setterfields writing seemed to me to come from a different time era, I was wrapped up in the words and her writing style and felt as if I was reading a novel by Jane Austen or one of the Brontë sisters. All I have to say is that Diane Setterfield must be an extreme book enthusiast to have written such a lovely story about books and storytelling.

When the story opens we meet our main character Margaret Lea. She is a plain, mousey, shadow of a woman that works in a rare books book shop and occasionally writes biographies on random dead people. One day she gets a letter asking her to write the biography of the most popular modern novelist in existence Ms. Vida Winter. Vida has been avoiding her past for decades and she is now old and ailing and wants the truth to be told about her life. What Margaret gets is a story so good it just might be better than one of Vida Winter's bestsellers. Between old houses, mental illnesses, twins, ghosts, fires, governesses, and jealousy (all the making of a great Gothic Novel), Margaret sets out to make sure that Vida is telling her the truth , and along the way she comes to grips with her own painful life story.

I would probably only recommend this book to someone who enjoys the classics. The Thirteenth Tale was written to be appreciated in another time and I don't think that someone who only likes modern novels will really connect with this story. While I enjoyed it immensely I just don't think it would be for everyone.  I feel like this is so unfortunate because I think this is one of the finest written pieces that I have read in a long time.

The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield

If you liked this book then read: The Wideacre Trilogy by Philippa Gregory

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Week from Hell with a Cherry on Top

Pin It

So I have been absent this week in the Blog World because I had some skin cancer removed from my face and it was a much bigger deal than I thought it was going to be. Today is the first day I haven't felt like I was hit by a truck or a Louisville Slugger so I guess that means I am starting to feel better. And I felt even better when I logged into my blog account and realized that Mrs. P from A Study in Contradictions awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award! I have never received a blog award before so this honestly made my week. Thanks Mrs. P!

So now I have to pass on the torch to some other "Lovely Blogs" (15 to be exact) and let them know that I think that they lovely enough to receive The Lovely Award.

The problem is I don't think I know 15 blogs. I am a baby blogger so I haven't found many fabulous blogging pals yet. So because I can't give Mrs. P the award she so sweetly bestowed on me I think I only have about 5 or 6 bloggers to award.

Here is my list:

Reading is Sexy
Elly Says Opa!
The Style Collectives
About Books Blog