Monday, February 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (40)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser 1:

"I stayed along the border of the hall until Will Darcy had left and the exit was clear. I couldn't believe that he had so much open hatred for the unrich. Silly me for thinking, even for that short moment while he was helping me, that he was any different from anyone else around here."

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
p. 26

Description from Goodreads:

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London. Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway? Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season — prom or otherwise.

This is a fun and creative retelling of Pride and Prejudice and I'm enjoying it so far. I was in the mood for something lighthearted to balance out the heavier historical fiction book I'm reading and this hits the spot!

Teaser 2:

"People are starving, bread is scarce, and Their Majesties don't know? It is a crime, what the advisers to the king are allowing."

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
p. 54 

Description from book:

Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles. As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse Élisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution. Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?

Marie Tussaud is a fascinating historical figure. I am enjoying learning more about her and the world she lived in.

Review: Sing You Home

Sing You Home
By Jodi Picoult
Publication date: March 1, 2011

My review:

Zoe and Max have been struggling to have a baby for years and after several expensive IVF cycles and two miscarriages, Zoe finally seems to be doing well in her pregnancy. Then at her baby shower, Zoe tragically loses the baby. She wants to keep trying but Max is tired of it so he files for divorce. Zoe is devastated at the double blow and turns to her work as a music therapist for comfort. At the request of Vanessa, the local high school guidance counselor, Zoe agrees to help a troubled student by using music therapy. She and Vanessa become friends and surprisingly fall in love. Max in the meantime has turned from alcohol to God with the help of his older brother Reid, sister-in-law Liddy, and their pastor. Max is shocked when he finds out that Zoe is a lesbian and even more upset when she asks him for the use of the remaining frozen embryos so she and Vanessa can be parents. Max goes to his pastor for advice and soon the church has called in a lawyer to help Max fight for custody of the embryos to prevent Zoe and Vanessa from becoming parents.

Jodi Picoult is known for writing gripping books that tackle controversial or difficult subjects. She is equally known for showing that there are no easy answers and giving the reader multiple viewpoints so we can understand both sides of the argument. In traditional Picoult format, there are multiple voices telling the story and there is the usual court case. This time though she fails to present both sides of the situation equally. For one thing, Max is hardly a likeable character. A man who asks his wife for a divorce right after the loss of their child is not someone for whom the reader is likely to feel sympathy. His subsequent spiral into alcholism makes him further unlikeable. By the time the case is underway, there are few redeeming qualities to Max's character. He has let himself be swept up in a tide of religious hate even though it does not seem that he feels as strongly as his pastor or lawyer do. His one good quality is his wish to help Reid and Liddy although even that is muddled as the story goes on. The portrayal of other "Christians" in the book is also very negative and most are shown as hateful caricatures. Only Liddy seems to have any kind of sympathetic qualities and even she is presented as naive until towards the end of the book.

The characters that readers are clearly supposed to sympathize with are Zoe and Vanessa. Zoe is a caring and likeable protagonist. We feel for her from the very beginning of the book. The chapters written from Zoe's perspective are the best parts of the book. I was surprised that Zoe does not seem to feel confusion about her sudden feelings for Vanessa since she had never been attracted to women before. I did like that Picoult went on to portray the ups and downs of Zoe and Vanessa's marriage realistically instead of depicting it as perfect compared to Zoe and Max's marriage. I also liked how supportive Zoe's mom was. She is one of my favorite characters from the book because of how she loves her daughter unconditionally.  

While the subject is compelling and important, I was disappointed that instead of telling the story fairly it is so heavily one-sided. The ending also left me a little disappointed in a way by how it was brought about. Still, Sing You Home is a moving look at the meaning of family and relationships and it will make readers care deeply.  In a way I prefer it to some of her other recent novels because I was pulled into the story and wanted to know what the outcome would be. Fans of Picoult's other books will likely want to read this one too even with all the flaws. 

Note: I read an e-ARC of this book through Simon and Schuster's GalleyGrab program. This did not influence my review in any way and the opinions expressed are entirely my own. *The finished book comes with a music CD but I did not receive it for review.*

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (54)

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. I always enjoy seeing what other people have read and reviewed over the past week. It is also a great way to find new books to add to that ever-growing TBR list!

The weather may have been nasty this past week but I had an excellent time reading at least. I can't remember the last time I loved all of the books I read. Plus I am in a better mood because March is nearly here!

Favorite book of the week: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Post to check out: My Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations

Books finished:

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

I cannot believe I waited so long to read this series. Just like with the Pink Carnation series, I'd noticed them at the library but didn't think I'd like them. With the Lady Julia Grey series in particular I thought they were just historical romance novels. Little did I know how wrong I was. They are historical mysteries and if the first book is any indication, I am going to love the rest!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I loved this book as you can tell by my review! Stephanie Perkins is a new favorite YA author :)

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley's books have been around awhile but until The Winter Sea was reissued here, I hadn't heard of them. This book reminded me a little bit of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, a favorite of mine. I can't wait to try Susanna Kearsley's other books. This one was amazing! It is my favorite book I've read so far this year.

Books reviewed:

The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Currently reading:

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

What I plan to read next:

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

What does your reading week look like?

Huntress Giveaway

Description from Goodreads:

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance. To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Taninli, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever. The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo’s highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

I received an extra ARC of Huntress (Thank you Little, Brown Publishers!) so I've decided to have a giveaway so someone else will have the opportunity to read it.

This giveaway is U.S only (sorry, I can't afford international shipping)

You do not have to be a follower

Deadline: March 14, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. (EST)

Giveaway is now CLOSED

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (47)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to share what books you received for review, purchased, or checked out from the library during the past week.

I participated in School Library Journal's Teen Book Buzz Spring 2011 webinar and was able to request some ARCs for review. I was thrilled when they arrived this week!

The books I'm most excited to read: The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch (it is set in Savannah, GA, my favorite city to visit) and Forgotten by Cat Patrick. I also requested a bunch of GLBT titles because I haven't read very many, especially in YA fiction. I did read Ash by Malinda Lo last year and look forward to reading Huntress. I've also heard good things about Julie Ann Peters's books.

For review:

The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch
(Also available to request through NetGalley)

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Huntress by Malinda Lo

I somehow ended up with two copies of Huntress so I will probably be holding a giveaway sometime soon.

I Am J by Cris Beam

She Loves You, She Loves You Not by Julie Ann Peters

Falling For Hamlet by Michelle Ray

(Thanks to Little, Brown and Company!)

From the library:

Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey

Bloody Valentine by Melissa de la Cruz

Friday, February 25, 2011

Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
By Stephanie Perkins
Publication date: December 2, 2010

My review:

Anna Oliphant is horrified when she finds out that she has to spend her senior year at a boarding school in Paris. While many teens would jump at this opportunity, Anna doesn't want to leave her best friend Bridgette or Toph, the friend who might be something more. She also doesn't speak a word of French and hates that she wasn't given a choice. On her first day there however she makes a friend in Meredith, the friendly girl across the hall. Through Meredith, Anna finds a new set of friends including Etienne St. Clair, the gorgeous part British/French/American boy with the perfect girlfriend. St. Clair encourages Anna to step out of her comfort zone and experience life. As Anna begins to open up and enjoy Paris, she finds herself more and more attracted to her new friend St. Clair.

Anna and the French Kiss is a sweet and fun romance. Anna has a very distinct personality. I love how she enjoys old movies and is true to herself even when others might think her tastes are odd. She is a fun and quirky protagonist. I loved the development of the friendship between Anna and St. Clair although they did have some difficulties with miscommunication. I think Anna has a very authentic voice as she expresses confusion about her relationships. The attraction between Anna and St. Clair is electric and thrilling. The book is far more than a love story however as it deals with some heavier issues like family troubles and serious illness. No one is perfect in this book which makes it more realistic. Anna has to learn to trust and be forgiving and St. Clair has to learn to go after what he wants. Both St. Clair and Anna have fathers who aren't the greatest but Anna is able to see that her dad at least has redeeming qualities even when he lets her down.

The supporting characters are excellent, especially Meredith although after awhile she does seem to disappear in the face of Anna and St. Clair's growing relationship. The setting is fantastic and I loved the descriptions of the French cuisine! This is a delighful book, perfect for a cold winter night or a hot day on the beach. I would suggest this to fans of Sarah Dessen and Maureen Johnson. Anna and the French Kiss is a wonderful debut novel and I can't wait to see what Stephanie Perkins will write next.

Readalikes: A Field Guide for Heartbreakers by Kristen Tracy, Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchell, The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Sarah Dessen

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: The Orchid Affair

The Orchid Affair
By Lauren Willig
Publication date: February 13, 2011

My review:

In the eighth book in the Pink Carnation spy series, we are introduced to a new agent, the Silver Orchid, otherwise known as former governess Laura Grey. Worn out after sixteen years as a governess, Laura was glad to be recruited by the Pink Carnation and trained as a spy. However her first assignment is to don a familiar role-she must act the part of governess to the children of André Jaouen, a man with government connections who works for the Prefect of Police. What should have been a straightforward assignment becomes complicated when Laura uncovers a Royalist plot and André appears to be involved.

The Orchid Affair is a return to form for the Pink Carnation series after the lighthearted previous book, The Mischief of the Mistletoe. There is more danger and suspense as well as heated romance between the main characters. Laura Grey is a fun protagonist. She is intelligent, brave, and quick witted which makes her a good spy and a great match for André. They share excellent chemistry although at times it take a back seat to the adventure. The setting is interesting as we see life in the dangerous political climate of post-Revolutionary Paris.  The historical details are fascinating, especially about the traveling theatre troupe.

The one thing I did not enjoy was the return of the modern narrator Eloise Kelly. Her sections intruded on the story and interrupted the flow at times. I could easily have skipped those chapters to read only the historical narrative and enjoyed it more. For those new to the Pink Carnation series, this would not be the story to start with as it gives away the identity of that particular spy. Instead, I would recommend picking up a copy of the first book, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. However for fans of the series, The Orchid Affair will be sure to please. I found it to be the strongest book in terms of espionage since The Seduction of the Crimson Rose.  

Readalikes: What Happens in London by Julia Quinn, The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent, The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (42)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm waiting on:

The Traitor and the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee
Publication date: August 2011 (UK), Spring 2012 (US)


Queen Victoria has a little problem: there’s a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Mary Quinn takes the simple case, going undercover as a domestic servant. But before long, a scandal threatens to tear apart the Royal Family. One of the Prince of Wales’s irresponsible young friends is killed in disgraceful circumstances. Should the Queen hush things up or allow justice to take its course? Mary’s interest in this private matter soon becomes deeply personal: the killer, a drug-addicted Chinese sailor, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, James Easton’s engineering firm is repairing the sewers beneath Buckingham Palace. Trouble is, there’s a tunnel that’s not on the plans. Its purpose is unclear. But it seems to be very much in use. These overlapping puzzles offer a perfect opportunity for Mary and James to work together again… if they can still trust one another. This is Mary’s most personal case yet and she has everything to lose.

I think this sounds like a fantastic mystery. I love that it is set in Buckingham Palace! I am really enjoying this series so far. I can't believe we have to wait till 2012 to get it here in the U.S. I may just have to order it from Book Depository when the UK version is released.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blogoversary Winner!

Thank you to everyone who participated in my 1st Blogoversary Giveaway. Thanks also for all your great suggestions about my blog design and the new feature!

The winner of the blogoversary giveaway chosen by is:

Mariah, I've sent you an e-mail so please be sure to check your inbox and get back to me before Friday.

If you didn't win, don't worry, I've got another giveaway coming up in a few months. I am working with Ari of Reading in Color to organize a POC Fiction Giveaway Hop to go with this year's summer reading program theme and encourage people to read POC books. Sound like fun? Be looking out for more info on that this spring.

Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a list is created based on a different theme. I've seen this fun meme around and have been wanting to participate but I kept forgetting about it each week. I'm excited about this week's theme so I made a point of being prepared!

This week's theme is book to movie adaptations.

I love when books are adapted as movies, especially when the movies do justice to the book although to be honest that doesn't happen very often. There have been some terrible crash and burn kind of movie adaptations where the movie doesn't even resemble the book or the changes alienate fans of the book. For all those duds, however there are a few that get it right. Of course, I'm sure not everyone will agree with my list!

My list of top ten book to movie adaptations:

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I think Peter Jackson's film trilogy is the best book to movie adaptation I've ever seen. It does a great job of capturing the book while at the same time being an entertaining film that reaches an audience that wouldn't normally enjoy the book. I didn't mind the absence of Tom Bombadil or other liberties taken with the script (such as making Arwen's part much, much bigger). If anything, the movie is the reason I read the book in the first place and only enhanced my love of the story.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I love both versions of Pride and Prejudice that I've seen (the BBC/A&E adaptation with Colin Firth and the 2005 Keira Knightley film). The first one is more faithful to the book. It made me a true fan of Jane Austen. I was assigned to read Sense and Sensibility for a class in college but it was watching P&P that caused me to pick up Austen's other books and read them on my summer vacation. I prefer the 2005 movie though because I love Keira Knightley's portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet. Jennifer Ehle fails to capture Lizzy's spirit and wit. She comes across more often as the fun squelching big sister. On the other hand, Colin Firth is the better Mr. Darcy and Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are more accurately portrayed in the miniseries.

3. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale

Mr. Darcy has been eclipsed by John Thornton as the ultimate literary hero in my book. I first watched the film version and I loved it so much that I had to read the book. The film does a great job of showing the difference between Margaret's former home in the south of England and Milton, the industrial town that her family moves to in the north. The bright colors and beautiful outdoor scenes from the south are softly lit while the harsh north is shown as this gloomy dark place. The characters are mostly true to the book, with the exception of Nicholas and Bessy Higgins. In the book, I found their dialect to be difficult to follow and Bessy is very much like Helen Burns from Jane Eyre. The movie portrayals are much more likeable. The one minor thing I didn't like was that John Thornton is portrayed as having a bad temper in the movie while in the book, he isn't quite like that.  I believe this change in the movie is so that the audience will understand why Margaret would not like him. In the book, Margaret is a little stuck up at first. If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice, I strongly suggest you watch North and South. You'll love it!

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

While Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone may not be the strongest book in the series, it is the one that first introduces us to the magical world of Hogwarts and Diagon Alley and the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone does a brilliant job of bringing the page to the screen. I loved the first glimpse of Hogwarts and the scenes in Diagon Alley as Harry first sees it. The performance of Richard Harris as Dumbledore is also a particular favorite (Michael Gambon just doesn't do the character justice in my opinion). I think this is one of the best adaptations of a YA fantasy book I've ever seen and the rest of the books have also made excellent films, especially the latest ones.

5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I have a confession to make. When I took that British Lit class, I watched the film version of Sense and Sensibility before taking my exam because I didn't have time to finish the book. My first reaction to the film was anger-why did the guys treat the heroines so poorly? Why did one of the characters end up with the old guy instead of the better looking romantic young guy (too bad he was a cad)? After reading the book and watching the movie again however, I loved it. Though Emma Thompson is way too old to portray Elinor (she was in her 30s whereas Elinor was still in her late teens) she does a fantastic job with the role. The one thing that is majorly different from the book is the absence of Lucy Steele's sister Nancy but that wasn't a big deal to me. The movie really shows the closeness of the sisters and the differences between them which is what the book is about.

6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables is a childhood favorite of mine and I think Meagan Follows is the perfect Anne Shirley. Watching her antics with Diana and Gilbert brought to life in this film just made me love the book more. Sadly the subsequent films are not as true to the book although the second film is still a treat to watch. (I pretend that movies three and four don't exist).

7. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

This is one of the rare instances where the film is better than the book. When you have actors like Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, and Eileen Atkinson involved, you know the film will be top-notch. The movie is based on the book Cranford as well as My Lady Ludlow and Mr. Harrison's Confessions. I've only read Cranford but the book is rather meandering and reads more like a series of sketches than a cohesive story with a plot. The filmmakers did an amazing job of putting it together in a story that is very moving, funny, and romantic.

8. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

When I heard that Queen Latifah was going to be in this movie, I didn't know what to think because I was used to seeing her act in comedies but I was really pleased with her performance here as August Boatwright. Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, and Jennifer Hudson were also fantastic. All of the actresses gave strong performances that really reflected the characters from the book, even Dakota Fanning as the main character, Lily Owens. Paul Bettany does such a good job as Lily's mean and hurting father T. Ray that I didn't even realize it was Paul Bettany until I saw the credits! It is a great story both in film and print.

9. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

This is another rare instance where I liked the movie more than the book (even though the movie eliminated Lena's little sister). I really liked how the four girls' stories were shown. My favorite characters were Tibby and Carmen and I'll admit to getting a little teary eyed at certain parts. The movie moved me in a way the book did not.

10. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I am sure that a lot of die hard fans would disagree with me but I thought this was a worthy film adaptation (though Prince Caspian was not). I didn't mind the liberties taken with the plot to make it more action oriented. I felt that the basic message of the book was still strongly present. I loved the portrayal of Aslan and I think the kids did decent jobs in playing their characters, especially Edmund. The book was a favorite of mine as a young child and the movie made me remember why.

Do you agree with my list? What are your favorite book to movie adaptations?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (39)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser 1:

"The girl breaks into a run and launches herself into his arms. They kiss, and she laces her fingers through his hair. His beautiful, perfect hair. My stomach drops, and I turn from the spectacle."

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
p. 91

Description from Goodreads:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

This is a cute book so far. I really feel bad for Anna in that scene above but I'm optimistic that there will be a happy ending.

Teaser 2:

"Grace versus power, although, if I were entirely truthful, Brisbane had his own sort of grace, nothing so effete as Edward's, but graceful just the same. Brisbane put one in mind of wolves and lithe jungle cats, while Edward conjured images of seraphim and slim young saints."

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
p. 224

Description from Goodreads:

"LET THE WICKED BE ASHAMED, AMD LET THEM BE SILENT IN THE GRAVE." These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests. Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth. Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

I really enjoyed this historical mystery with its hint of romance. Julia is a fantastic character, full of intelligence and spunk. Brisbane is a mystery himself. I can't wait to find out more about him in the rest of the series. I love the teaser above. It is a moment where Julia, widowed over a year, is starting to realize her attraction to Brisbane and she is irritated by it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (53)

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. I always enjoy seeing what other people have read and reviewed over the past week. It is also a great way to find new books to add to that ever-growing TBR list!

Books finished:

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

I thought this was a darker book than the previous two but a fitting end to the series.

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

This was a cute and humorous story with quirky characters, a fun book for Valentine's Day.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

I am still not sure what to make of this latest book by Jodi Picoult. I just finished it and am processing my thoughts. I will hopefully have a review for next week.
Books reviewed:
Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Currently reading:
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

I am really enjoying this book and wondering why I never picked it up before. I was expecting it to be a traditional romance but it is actually an interesting mystery with only a little bit of romance so far and some cheeky humor.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I've only just started this but I have a feeling it will be a favorite! I love the setting too :) I'm reading this one for review for Royal Reviews.

What I plan to read next:

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
I hope I get to read this one this week. It is overdue at the library. I know, how terrible for the librarian to have overdue books!

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

I really hope I get to read this one this week. I loved Cleopatra's Daughter and I know that Michelle Moran brings a high level of historical detail as well as excellent character development to her books. This is a fascinating time period and Madame Tussaud was an interesting historical figure. I can't wait to find out more about her!

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

I probably won't get to The Latte Rebellion this week but I will definitely try. I have been wanting to read this for awhile too. So many books...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (46)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to share what books you received for review, purchased, or checked out from the library during the past week.

This week I received a lot of books for review. I was invited to participate in Simon and Schuster Galley Grab for the first time so I kind of went a little overboard with the e-ARCs! Hopefully I will have the time to read most of these before they expire. I will definitely make the time for Sing You Home (I am number 304 on the library waiting list so I wouldn't get to read it for a really long time otherwise!)

Books I was most excited to receive this week: Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran and Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

For review:

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Stay by Deb Caletti

Red Glove by Holly Black

Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

(Thanks to Simon and Schuster Galley Grab for above e-ARCs)

(Courtesy of Small Beer Press)

From the library:

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

Deadly Little Games by Laurie Faria Stolarz

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Demonglass

By Rachel Hawkins
Publication date: March 1, 2011

My review:

In this sequel to Hex Hall, Sophie heads to London to spend time with her dad at Thorne Abbey, his home and Council headquarters. Although her best friend Jenna and sort-of friend Cal go along, it isn't a vacation. Sophie wants to go through The Removal, a very risky procedure to remove her powers. Her dad understandably doesn't want her to go through with it but instead he wants to teach her to control her powers and come to terms with the shocking news she learned about her heritage. Then there is the Council, which has its own plans for Sophie. When Sophie arrives in London, she is surprised at the two teenage houseguests already at Thorne Abbey. What is the Council up to and who is creating demons? With the threat of The Eye looming and rumors that Archer Cross was last seen in London, Sophie may have more than she can handle.

Demonglass is a fast paced and entertaining sequel. Though the action mostly takes place away from Hecate Hall,the book still has the same fun combination of humor, romance, magic, and suspense. This time around, the story seemed a little tighter without so many new characters/species being introduced. The focus is on Sophie's family backstory, her powers, and the threat of The Eye. A love triangle begins to develop between Sophie, Archer, and Cal but it seems fairly obvious which character Sophie is meant to be with. 

I did not care for the love triangle aspect and I thought that the new characters did not stand out very much but hopefully we will learn more about them in the third book. I particularly liked the relationship between Sophie and her father. The first book gave the impression that he was distant and uncaring but that is not the case. I also liked the developments between Sophie and Archer. I was reminded of the relationship between Cammie Morgan and Zach Goode in the Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter. In a way Demonglass is like a paranormal version of Only The Good Spy Young.

Overall, I enjoyed Demonglass more than Hex Hall. While there are plenty of humorous moments in the book, the suspense kept building as the story went along and the cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager to find out what happens next.

Readalikes: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Note: I read and reviewed an ARC of Demonglass as part of an ARC tour, courtesy of Around the World ARC Tours.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Mad Love

Mad Love
By Suzanne Selfors
Publication date: January 4, 2011

My review:

Alice Amorous is having a stressful summer. Her mother Belinda Amorous is a famous romance novelist who is secretly being treated at a mental hospital. To keep the public from finding out, Alice tells everyone that Belinda is overseas researching her next book. Meanwhile Alice finds out that her mother has a book due to the publisher by the end of the summer or she will have to repay the $100,000 advance money. Now Alice has come up with a last ditch attempt to save them: she will write the book herself. After years of reading her mom's books, how hard can it be to write her own? Of course things aren't that easy and life is made more complicated when she meets Errol, a young man who wants her to write his love story. At first Alice refuses but then strange things start to happen. Could Errol really be Cupid, like he says he is or is she losing her mind too?

Mad Love is a  funny and at times touching story filled with quirky characters and just a dash of romance. Alice is a likeable protagonist. She doesn't always make the best decisions but she has had to deal with some difficult circumstances. Her neighbors are lovable, especially Mrs. Bobot and Archibald. It is the side characters and their relationship with Alice that make this book so enjoyable. Even Realm, Mrs. Bobot's sullen teenage granddaughter, has something positive to contribute. The romance with Tony is sweet but does not take over the emphasis of the book. The title may suggest this is a romance-laden book but it is not. Instead the love that takes center stage is that of Alice, her mom, and her makeshift family.

Errol's story about his relationship with Psyche is sad but because of the way it is told, there is a sense of detachment that lessens the impact. I thought the magical aspect detracted from the plot in a way. It was funny at first to see how characters reacted to being hit by Cupid's dart but then it quickly became annoying. For those who choose to look past the cheesy factor however, there is a moving story here about the importance of being open to love in all its forms. I would suggest Mad Love to those who enjoy YA chick lit. It would make a fun beach read.

Readalikes: The Espressologist by Kristina Springer, Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs, The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper, My Invisible Boyfriend by Susie Day, A Field Guide for Heartbreakers by Kristen Tracy, For Keeps by Natasha Friend, Wish by Alexandra Bullen 

Note: Special thanks to Amelia at Imagination in Focus for the opportunity to read and review this book!