Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl

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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

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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

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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


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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

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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

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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

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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