Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (51)

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!

My teasers this week:

"No woman is a surgeon. Mary smoothed her skirts and tucked the stray curls of her hair back into a comb, tired now, the full weight of the day's disappointment bringing tears to her eyes. She felt like a failure."

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
p. 59

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In this stunning first novel, Mary Sutter is a brilliant, head­strong midwife from Albany, New York, who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine-and eager to run away from her recent heartbreak- Mary leaves home and travels to Washington, D.C. to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of William Stipp and James Blevens-two surgeons who fall unwittingly in love with Mary's courage, will, and stubbornness in the face of suffering-and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career in the desperately overwhelmed hospitals of the capital.

Like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Robert Hicks's The Widow of the South, My Name Is Mary Sutter powerfully evokes the atmosphere of the period. Rich with historical detail (including marvelous depictions of Lincoln, Dorothea Dix, General McClellan, and John Hay among others), and full of the tragedies and challenges of wartime, My Name Is Mary Sutter is an exceptional novel. And in Mary herself, Robin Oliveira has created a truly unforgettable heroine whose unwavering determination and vulnerability will resonate with readers everywhere.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (65)

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!

I only managed to finish one book this week. I had hoped to get more reading done this weekend (especially since I finally got my Kindle!) but I was too busy having fun with my family :)

I'd also planned to participate more in Armchair BEA but I just participated on one day. Check out my post on my Best Books of 2011 So Far

Books finished:

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

I really liked this mystery though I wanted to growl at Brisbane at times. There is nothing more fun than a murder mystery where people are trapped in a house with the killer...

Books reviewed:

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Gone With a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West

Currently reading:

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

I am still frustrated by this book. It is on my Kindle now so maybe I will get through it soon but if things don't get better, I may just give up.

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

I really like this book so far (I'm on the third chapter). Mary is so determined and I hope she succeeds and becomes a doctor. She certainly deserves it!

What I plan to read next:

Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

I've actually already started reading this on my Kindle even though I need to try to finish Starcrossed. I'd honestly rather read Silent on the Moor. I need to finish this one and Dark Road to Darjeeling in the next two weeks.

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

I don't know if I will get to read this before I have to send it back. I have too many other books I have to read for review.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Perhaps I am being overly ambitious by listing a third book, especially one so thick. I am dying to try this though. I've heard so many good things about it.

So that's what my reading week looks like.

What have you been reading?

Note: Last week I had problems with leaving comments on Blogger blogs (the ones where the comments are embedded like on mine). It makes me sign in and then says I am anonymous and I can't leave comments. Hopefully that problem has been cleared up now but I haven't checked lately. I apologize if I am unable to leave a comment on your blog this week too.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Review: Gone With a Handsomer Man

Gone With a Handsomer Man
By Michael Lee West
Publication date: April 12, 2011

The rug is swept from under Teeny Templeton's feet when she catches her fiance Bing cheating on her. Her dreams of a happy marriage are gone the moment she sees him playing naked badminton with two bimbos. Teeny gets her revenge by throwing peaches at them, which it turns out is a criminal act and she ends up in jail. Things only get worse when Bing is found dead and Teeny is accused of his murder. With the help of her high school flame, Cooper O'Malley, who is now a lawyer, Teeny has to find a way to prove her innocence.

Gone With a Handsomer Man was highly recommended to me by another librarian so I was delighted when I was given the opportunity to read it for review. I enjoy Southern fiction and this book sounded like it would be a good blend of humor and romance along with the mystery. In part, I was right. There were some moments when I laughed out loud at Teeny's escapades and I loved reading about her eccentric family. However even though there is plenty of romance, I was disappointed by Teeny's relationship with Cooper (though things could improve in book two). I found it hard to believe that he was the love of her life and thought they reconnected too quickly since she has just come from a relationship with major betrayal. I also didn't buy into the motivations behind Bing's murder.

Still, this is a fun book because of its quirky characters and over-the-top humorous situations. I also really enjoyed reading about Charleston, a city I hope to visit someday and I liked all the food descriptions though some of the recipes in the Templeton Family Cookbook should never be made (especially the ones with poisonous ingredients!). Recipes (of the nonpoisonous variety) are included in the back which I thought was a nice touch.

Janet Evanovich called this book "fun, funny, and fabulous" so her fans might enjoy this one. I haven't read any Stephanie Plum books yet so I can't compare them. In a way, Teeny reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse minus the vampires and weres. If you are looking for a nice light read to take with you on your summer vacation, consider adding Gone With a Handsomer Man to your beach bag. However, if you want a really good mystery or stirring romance then you might want to look elsewhere.

Readalikes: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, Truly, Madly by Heather Webber

Note: I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: Just Like Heaven

Just Like Heaven
By Julia Quinn
Publication date: May 31, 2011

My review:

In this spin-off from the Bridgerton series, Honoria Smythe-Smith is determined to find a husband since it is her second season. She is somewhat halfhearted about it but feels that it is something she must do so she decides on a likely candidate. Unfortunately for Honoria (and without her knowledge) Marcus Holroyd, her brother Daniel's best friend, has been scaring off her would-be suitors at Daniel's request. Marcus and Honoria have known each other since she was six and he was eleven and they have become friends over the years. Marcus does not think any of the young men who have taken interest in her are good enough. Could it be that he might be her perfect match instead?

Just Like Heaven may be predictable but it is also very funny and I enjoyed Marcus and Honoria's friendship. I think that was the best part of the story. It is nice to read a romance where the couple know each other so well that their relationship is based on much more than attraction. They have a shared history and they understand each other very well. It was also touching to see Honoria taking care of Marcus when he was severely ill. There is nothing surprising here-no unexpected plot twists or evil villains to get in the way. It is just a nicely developed and believable romance with some great comic scenes such as the annual Smythe-Smith Musicale. There is also a nice little nod to the hilarious Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron story from What Happens in London. I really wish Julia Quinn would actually write that entire story and publish it, even if it was just a little novella!

The one thing that kept me from completely enjoying this book was my annoyance with some of Honoria's cousins. Thankfully most of the book revolved around Honoria and Marcus. While this is a spin-off from Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, it is not necessary to have read those books first. I have not read the Bridgerton books and I was able to follow this one perfectly. This works quite well as a stand alone book. 

Just Like Heaven is the third Julia Quinn novel that I've read and I will probably go on to read the Bridgerton series as well. I really enjoy the humor and the characters in her books. I don't usually read traditional historical romance novels but these seem to be a cut above the rest. If you are in the mood for a light humorous romance, give Just Like Heaven a try.

Readalikes: Julia London, Sarah MacLean

Note: I received an ARC of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (54)

"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:

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Publication date: October 18, 2011


Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune, and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, steampunk meets romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

I think this sounds incredibly promising. I don't know that it can actually be considered steampunk since it is futuristic but at least it is set in a Victorian-like society. It has shades of Incarceron too. With all of that plus zombies and starcrossed love, how can it go wrong?

What are you waiting on this week?

Note: Yesterday I was having problems leaving comments on Blogger blogs so I may not be able to leave a comment on your blog right away but I will try. Hopefully this issue will be fixed soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I am not Anonymous

I apologize to anyone with a Blogger blog who posts comments on my memes from yesterday or today. I cannot respond because according to Blogger, I am "Anonymous". So while I can create my own posts and update my blog I have not been able to comment on any other Blogger blog posts. Hopefully this issue will be fixed. It is really frustrating to type out a comment on someone's review or post and not be able to actually post it.

Best of 2011 (Armchair BEA)

Today's topic for Armchair BEA is to talk about 2011 books that are our favorites so far and any upcoming 2011 books that might turn out to be favorites.

My favorites so far:

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

I read this one as an ARC last year but it is definitely one of my favorites. I loved the idea behind it. I was disappointed a little that what I thought was a stand alone novel has been turned into a trilogy but I am eager to read more about Lena and what happens next for her.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

I am not really a fan of science fiction but this book reads more like a dystopian novel and it just pulled me in from the first creepy page.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This book blew me away. I don't know how popular it will be among teen readers (the trend indicates that historical fiction is out and paranormal/dystopian is in) but this powerful and moving story is based on very real events and I hope teens will not be afraid to try it just because it is historical fiction.

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

This is one of those books I didn't plan to read. I saw it featured on GalleyGrab and thought that since it was free, I'd just give it a try for the heck of it. Now I am so glad I did! While it may not be on the level of Between Shades of Gray or Delirium it is a really good story about a young woman just starting high school and trying to figure out who she is. It is also pretty funny and features some great characters. It kind of reminded me of Into the Wild Nerd Yonder for a slightly younger audience.

Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon

The sequel to Silver Phoenix was a fantastic fantasy novel with a strong heroine. While I kind of prefer Silver Phoenix, I thought Cindy Pon did an excellent job with this book especially by giving us a new understanding of the villain from the first book. She is a talented author and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

The final book in Ryan's zombie series makes my list even though it wasn't a 5 star read because I thought it was an excellent way to conclude the series. The protagonist was my favorite among the three books.

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

I almost didn't read this book. I had high expectations for Hex Hall and while I liked it, I didn't love it. I wasn't sure I wanted to take the time to read Demonglass but I am glad I did. Demonglass was not a five star read but I was really pleased with it. It is rare for the second book to be better than the first but that is how I felt about this sequel. The ending is a cliffhanger too and I hate that I have to wait so long to find out what happens!

Sideways on a Scooter by Miranda Kennedy

This book makes my list because it is rare for me to read a nonfiction book so absorbing that it feels like fiction. It usually takes me weeks and a lot of determination but I read this in just a few days. I found Miranda's account of her time in India and the people she meets to be fascinating. I liked the emphasis on women's lives and I liked how she used Bollywood movies to illustrate her point.

Books that I anticipate will become favorites:

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

This is one of those highly anticipated finales. I love Maggie Stiefvater's writing and this series is my favorite of hers.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I watched a video of Maggie discussing this book and while she doesn't give away all of the synopsis it sounds fantastic. As I mentioned above I am a big fan of her writing so I am sure this will be excellent-plus it features water horses.

Crossed by Ally Condie

I really enjoyed Matched when I read it last year so this one is a given for my list. Not sure how it will measure up but I am hopeful. Note: I do hate the cover. The one for Matched was so much better.

Heartless by Gail Carriger

This is one of my favorite series and people are probably tired of hearing me talk about it. Heartless promises to be just as funny and entertaining as the previous books. I can't wait to read about Alexia's latest adventures.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

I was surprised that I couldn't bring myself to put City of Fallen Angels on my list but it didn't quite meet my high expectations. I have a better feeling about Clockwork Prince though. I kind of liked the steampunk feel and that it was set in Victorian England as opposed to modern New York.

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I love the writing of this Southern Gothic series and while I thought Beautiful Creatures was better than Beautiful Darkness, I can't wait to return to Gatlin and its fascinating characters.

Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman

This book was published last month but I haven't read it yet. Based on how I felt about Eon: Dragoneye Reborn I am betting that this will turn out to be among my favorites of 2011.

That's my list. What do you think of the titles I chose?
Are any of them on your list of 2011 favorites?

Teaser Tuesdays (50)

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!

My teasers this week:

"She grasped my arm fast in her bony fingers. 'I told you once before the screams of the dead echo in his steps. You did not believe me, and you nearly died. Do you believe me now?'"

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
p. 185

Fresh from a six-month sojourn in Italy, Lady Julia returns home to Sussex to find her father's estate crowded with family and friends— but dark deeds are afoot at the deconsecrated abbey, and a murderer roams the ancient cloisters.

Much to her surprise, the one man she had hoped to forget—the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane—is among her father's houseguests… and he is not alone. Not to be outdone, Julia shows him that two can play at flirtation and promptly introduces him to her devoted, younger, titled Italian count.

But the homecoming celebrations quickly take a ghastly turn when one of the guests is found brutally murdered in the chapel, and a member of Lady Julia's own family confesses to the crime. Certain of her cousin's innocence, Lady Julia resumes her unlikely and deliciously intriguing partnership with Nicholas Brisbane, setting out to unravel a tangle of deceit before the killer can strike again. When a sudden snowstorm blankets the abbey like a shroud, it falls to Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane to answer the shriek of murder most foul.

I loved the first book in this mystery series and while this one has been a little slow about getting to the actual mystery, I've enjoyed it anyway (the scandalous March family is a riot) and things are finally starting to pick up.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's (Not Quite) Monday, What Are You Reading (64)

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!

This past week I only managed to finish two books but I really enjoyed both of them. This week I hope I will do a little better with my reading list.

Books finished:

Sideways on a Scooter by Miranda Kennedy

I really liked this book and read it in just a couple of days. I normally take weeks to get through nonfiction books.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I loved The Help and I'm glad I was finally able to read it. I was waiting to read it when the waiting lists at the library weren't so long but its popularity has never let up. I ended up buying it last month when it was released in paperback. So glad I did! Now I can't wait to watch the movie.

Books reviewed:
Clarity by Kim Harrington

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Currently reading:

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

This book started out well. Then I wanted to put it down because I was becoming very annoyed by the main character and some other things. Thankfully it has started to get better again. I love Greek mythology and this story has an interesting premise.

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

Oh, how I love this series (so far anyway).

What I plan to read next:

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

Really looking forward to this one!
My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
I won this last year from The Lost Entwife and I am finally going to read it. I have the hardcover but think this paperback cover is so much prettier.

Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman

This may end up being just a book version of She's the Man but it still looks like a fun story and a good way to break up the heavier books.

A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez

I have heard such good things about this book. My sister read Kabul Beauty School and I thought she'd liked it (one of the reasons I decided to read A Cup of Friendship) but it turns out I was wrong. Hopefully I will like this book anyway.

That's what I plan to read this week (subject to change according to whim and boredom).

What are you reading this week?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Wrapped

By Jennifer Bradbury
Publication date: May 24, 2011

My review:

Agnes Wilkins is expected to make a brilliant match during her first London season. Already she has captured the attention of the most desirable bachelor, Lord Showalter.  Everything is going according to her mother's plan as Lord Showalter invites her to the first big event of the social season, a mummy unwrapping at his estate. It is there that everything begins to unravel and Agnes finds herself caught up in a mystery involving a murder, Napoleon and a mysterious Egyptian artifact. Everyone who came in contact with the mummy seems to experience some kind of disaster. Is it a curse or the work of someone sinister and will she be next on their list? It is up to Agnes to solve the mystery before it is too late.

Wrapped is a historical mystery with a hint of romance and plenty of humor. Agnes is a fun, spunky and smart heroine who can quote Jane Austen in several different languages. Her bravery and intelligence aid her as she tries to solve the mystery and outwit the villain. While I found the mystery to be straightforward and not very surprising I did enjoy reading about Agnes's near escapes and how she pieced together the truth. The romance was also nice without taking over the storyline and I like how it developed. I also loved all the references to Jane Austen which was a nice touch. The historical information about Napoleon and Egyptology was interesting but not overly detailed. Something else that pleased me was Agnes's relationship with her family. While her mother didn't always understand Agnes she did mean well and they had a cordial relationship but it was her father who really stood out to me with the way he respected Agnes and encouraged her education. It was nice to see how close they were which isn't often the case in YA fiction.

Overall I really liked this book even though I quickly figured out who the villain was and the story could be a little unbelievable at times. I found that I didn't care about those minor flaws because I was having too much fun reading about Agnes and her adventures! Bradbury leaves room for a sequel and I certainly hope there will be one.

Readalikes: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee, The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee, Sovay by Celia Rees, Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle (similar but with a paranormal element)

Note: I received an e-ARC of this title for review as part of the Simon & Schuster GalleyGrab program. This in no way affects my opinion of the book

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Clarity

By Kim Harrington
Publication date: February 24, 2011

My review:

Clare Fern has grown up in a family of weird-her parents belonged to a "spiritualist community" and all the members of her family have supernatural abilities. Clare's mom is a telepath, her brother Perry can communicate with the dead, and Clare is a psychic with the gift of psychometry. She can see visions when she holds people's possessions. When a young woman is murdered, Clare is given the opportunity to use her ability and help the police department on an unofficial basis to look for clues. Unfortunately this also means working with both her ex-boyfriend Justin and Gabriel, the handsome son of the new detective. As Clare becomes more involved in the investigation, she is shocked to discover her brother's connection to the girl who died and that he has become a suspect. Could Perry be a killer?

Clarity is more of a suspense novel with a paranormal twist rather than a paranormal romantic suspense. Clare is a relatable character because she isn't popular and beautiful and she has flaws. She is pretty but she has been made fun of by her peers for most of her life. At school she is known as a freak. Only one person outside her family befriended her-the mayor's son Justin. Justin is now her ex-boyfriend but aside from the one monumental mistake he made that led to their breakup (which he deeply regrets). Clare has some unresolved feelings about Justin including her inability to forgive him. She also struggles with her place in the family business and her relationship with her mom, which isn't surprising given that she is a teenager and her mom continually reads her thoughts. 

There is a love triangle of sorts in this book. Justin is still very much in love with Clare, Clare might still have feelings for him buried deep beneath her anger, and then there is Gabriel, the handsome new guy with secrets. If Justin is a plain vanilla, clean cut guy then Gabriel is like dark chocolate in comparison. There are definitely sparks between Clare and Gabriel even though he doubts her psychic ability and mocks her at every turn. Both guys have good and bad qualities and while Clare seems to prefer Gabriel, Justin still has a chance to win her back. Thankfully the romance is not at the forefront of the book. The murder mystery will keep readers guessing. I am usually adept at figuring out who the killer is but this time my list of suspects kept growing and I was a little surprised in the end.

Overall I was pleased with Clarity. I thought it was even better than Laurie Faria Stolarz's Touch series. While I wish there wasn't a love triangle I think it was well done and added something to the story and our understanding of the characters instead of just being used as a typical teen romance plot device. I would suggest this book to fans of The Body Finder.

Readalikes: Deadly Little Secrets by Laurie Faria Stolarz, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, Wake by Lisa McMann, Truly, Madly by Heather Webber, The Third Eye by Lois Duncan

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (53)

"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:

Overbite by Meg Cabot
Publication date: July 5, 2011

I liked the first book, Insatiable, although I was disappointed by Meena's decisions at times especially in her relationship with vampire Lucien Antonescu. I am cautiously optimistic about this book however and I think Overbite sounds like it could be a fun sequel and good summer read. Meena seems to have learned some important lessons and the synopsis sounds interesting. I didn't post it because of spoilers for those who haven't read Insatiable but you can find it on Goodreads.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (49)

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!

My teasers this week:

"I'd never have guessed that the woman who bent down on her swollen knees to mop my floors to a luminous sheen lived in filth and squalor herself. Maybe because Radha couldn't apply her Brahminical notions of purity and pollution to her own home, she applied them instead to mine. I looked away so she wouldn't see the tears that welled up in my eyes."

Sideways on a Scooter by Miranda Kennedy
p. 151

When twentysomething reporter Miranda Kennedy leaves her job in New York City and travels to India with no employment prospects, she longs to immerse herself in the turmoil and excitement of a rapidly developing country. What she quickly learns in Delhi about renting an apartment as a single woman—it’s next to impossible—and the proper way for women in India to ride scooters—perched sideways—are early signs that life here is less Westernized than she’d counted on.

Living in Delhi for more than five years, and finding a city pulsing with possibility and hope, Kennedy experiences friendships, love affairs, and losses that open a window onto the opaque world of Indian politics and culture—and alter her own attitudes about everything from food and clothes to marriage and family. Along the way, Kennedy is drawn into the lives of several Indian women, including her charismatic friend Geeta—a self-described “modern girl” who attempts to squeeze herself into the traditional role of wife and mother; Radha, a proud Brahmin widow who denies herself simple pleasures in order to live by high-caste Hindu principles; and Parvati, who defiantly chain-smokes and drinks whiskey, yet feels compelled to keep her boyfriend a secret from her family.

In her effort to understand the hopes and dreams that motivate her new friends, Kennedy peels back India’s globalized image as a land of call centers and fast-food chains and finds an ancient place where, in many ways, women’s lives have scarcely changed for centuries. Incisive, witty, and written with a keen eye for the lush vibrancy of the country that Kennedy comes to love, Sideways on a Scooter is both a remarkable memoir and a cultural revelation.

I am nearly finished with this book and I have really enjoyed it. It is fascinating to read about the lives of women in Delhi. Miranda could have written the book just about her own life and experiences abroad but I'm glad she decided to focus on others instead.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (63)

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!

I had a pretty productive week in terms of reading but now I've got to focus on preparing for this big program I have to do for work next month. For the summer reading program we are having a Bollywood program so I am doing research on saris and Bollywood films. I've only worn a sari once in my life and I have to show people how to wear one (but I've forgotten). I also enjoy watching Bollywood movies but I'm not an expert on those either. I have so many other books I want to read but I am going to be concentrating on reading books about India for now along with books for review. In the meantime Eon and Eona are languishing on my nightstand being ignored and getting covered with dust...

Books finished:

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

I liked this more than I thought I would but it still isn't as good as the earlier books. I felt that this book was kind of being used to set up the final two books in the series.

Clarity by Kim Harrington

I am really glad that I decided to read Clarity instead of just returning it to the library. My review will be posted next week (I think-can't remember which week I scheduled it for...)

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

This was a fun romance and I will definitely be picking up more books by this author in the future. Not my usual type of romance novel but I make an exception for Julia Quinn. I enjoy her sense of humor.

My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren

This was such a touching story about deeply wounded and flawed people who find love. I am consciously reading less Christian fiction this year but I am glad I got the opportunity to read this one. I read this one for a book tour so my review won't be posted till next month sometime.

Books reviewed:

The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Blogger actually deleted this review after it was posted but thankfully there was an earlier version still saved so I was able to repost it. Bad Blogger!

Currently reading:

Sideways on a Scooter by Miranda Kennedy

I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one and I'm glad it goes hand in hand with the program I am planning for work next month. I'm on the first chapter but I like it so far.

The Sari by Mukulika Banerjee

This one started out well but then it gets bogged down. I don't always like the writing style. I am finding out some interesting facts about saris though. I may not read it cover to cover.

What I plan to read next:

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

I am so tired of seeing this on my list week after week and not being able to read it. I really need to read it next or I might not be able to read The Dark Enquiry on time for my review next month.

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

This book has been gathering dust for weeks and I've already renewed it twice. I have until early June to finish it. I am a fan of the author so I've got to make time to read this soon.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I need to review this one at the beginning of June for Royal Reviews so I have to read this soon too. I have been wanting to read it for some time now.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

I hope to read this one and have the review written before it is published at the end of the month. I love that it is based on Greek mythology.

What does your reading week look like?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In My Mailbox (53) Bollywood Edition

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.

Books I'm most excited about: Sideways on a Scooter by Miranda Kennedy

I will be doing a Bollywood/South Asia themed program at my library next month so I am doing some research this week which is why most of my books have something to do with Bollywood, India, or Sri Lanka. I have to show people how to drape a sari (which I haven't done in years) so I need to brush up on that too!

I hope you'll watch the video! It is from the movie Lagaan, one of my favorite Hindi films. The song is "Radha Kaise Na Jale". Enjoy!

From the library:

Indian Cinema: The Bollywood Saga by Dinesh Raheja

This is a beautiful coffee table book with lots of pictures and information about the history of Bollywood films. The woman on the cover is Aishwariya Rai, considered to be the "most beautiful woman in the world" according to Julia Roberts (Roger Ebert also goes on and on about her beauty in his reviews of her movies). She has been on Oprah and was the face of L'Oreal a few years ago.

Bollywood: Behind the Scenes, Beyond the Stars by Nicholas Bradley

King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema by Anupama Chopra

Shah Rukh Khan is the most famous Bollywood actor and while has been called "the Indian Tom Cruise" I'd say his acting ability is better than that! My favorite SRK film is Veer-Zaara about an Indian man who falls in love with a Pakistani Muslim girl who is engaged to someone else.

The Sari by Mukulika Banerjee

This is a fascinating book not just about saris but about the women who wear them. I've already started reading it and though some parts don't flow as well as others it is still really really interesting.


Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India by Miranda Kennedy

I read some good reviews of this in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and I thought it sounded fantastic so I had to buy it. Hopefully it will live up to my expectations! I can't imagine what it would be like for an American woman to just uproot her life and move to India for five years. I like that the book focuses on women's lives and dating and marriage in India.

Not Quite Paradise: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka by Adele Barker

I've already read Adele Barker's account of her years teaching and living in Sri Lanka but I had to have my own copy so when the price dropped under $6, I snapped it up. I learned so many interesting things about my parents' homeland from this book, not just about the Civil War but also about the tsunami and its aftermath.
For review:

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

I have been wanting to read this since I saw early reviews of it. The synopsis reminds me of Downton Abbey, a BBC miniseries I loved. I received this for review from Amazon Vine.

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

I've already read this spin off to the Bridgerton series and thought it was predictable but cute. I loved the friendship between Marcus and Honoria as well as the humor involving the musicale. What an interesting family the Smythe-Smiths are! I received this from Amazon Vine as well.

My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren

I am currently reading this story about two people with physical and emotional scars. I really like it so far. I received this for review from LitFuse as part of a blog tour.