Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (76)

"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:

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly
Publication date: January 1, 2012


Fledgling illustrator and Darcy fanatic Kay Ashton settles in the seaside town of Lyme to finish her book, The Illustrated Mr. Darcy, when a film company arrives to make a new adaptation of Persuasion. Kay is soon falling for the handsome bad boy actor playing Captain Wentworth, but it's the quiet screenwriter Adam Craig who has more in common with her beloved Mr. Darcy. Though still healing from a broken heart, Adam finds himself unexpectedly in love with Kay, but it will take more than good intentions to convince her that her real happy ending is with him.

The premise of this book reminds me of Shannon Hale's Austenland, which I really enjoyed so I am hopeful that this will be a fun book too.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I will be up early today to start making the scalloped corn before the turkey goes in the oven. Then we will feast, play Scrabble, and watch the Packers game.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (75)

"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 Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
Publication date: January 24, 2012

Description from Goodreads:

Acclaimed, award-winning author Margot Livesey delivers her breakout novel: a captivating tale, set in Scotland in the early 1960s, that is both an homage and a modern variation on the enduring classic, Jane Eyre.

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands. 

But Gemma's biggest trial is about to begin . . . a journey of passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery that will lead her to a life she's never dreamed.

I am really excited about this book! I hadn't heard of it until I saw it on this month's Amazon Vine newsletter. I will be getting a review copy so I won't have to wait till January to read this Jane Eyre-inspired novel.

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Publication date: February 24, 2012

Description from Goodreads:

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC have been abandoned. 

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. 

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested don’t usually come back. 

17-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. That life in the United States used to be different. 

In the three years since the war ended, Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the Federal Bureau of Reformation. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And what’s worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

I am kind of cautiously optimistic about this book. It sounds like it could be good but we shall see...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Breadcrumbs

By Anne Ursu
Publication date: September 27, 2011

My review:

In this contemporary retelling of The Snow Queen, eleven year old Hazel sets out to rescue her best friend Jack from the Snow Queen's clutches and his own inner demons. Along the way, Hazel must find her own inner strength and sense of belonging.

Breadcrumbs is a novel best described as magical. In telling her story, Anne Ursu pays homage to fairy tales like The Little Match Girl and Hansel and Gretel and novels like The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I was reminded more than once of Narnia and the White Witch, especially when the Snow Queen arrives in a sleigh and asks Jack if he'd like some Turkish Delight. The world that Hazel finds herself in does not have the charm of Narnia however. There is danger everywhere even with those who seem perfectly harmless and Hazel goes into the woods knowing that she will have to fight evil to get Jack back. 

Hazel is a character who is at times wise beyond her years and at other times very young. She has an active imagination and she's entered a time when grownups tend to start encouraging kids to be more serious. This causes difficulties for Hazel in school where she struggles to pay attention. She is intelligent but her curiosity gets her into trouble. Jack is the one bright spot in her life since her dad left. He shares her creativity and they like to make up stories and superpowers together. Lately though Jack has been spending more time with his buddies, Bobby and Tyler. Even before the incident with the Snow Queen, Jack and Hazel start to grow apart. Hazel is at a pivotal moment in her life as she begins to leave childhood behind and her quest to save Jack helps her come to grips with the idea of growing up without losing yourself. 

One of the themes of this book seems to be about the importance of creativity and encouraging creativity in young people. Breadcrumbs certainly succeeds with that. The writing style adds to that sense of magic and wonder. The descriptions of cold really pulled me into the story. There were a couple of times that I thought maybe the writing style would not appeal to younger kids but I think tweens in 5th and 6th grade would appreciate it. Anne Ursu has a gift for description and creating a sense of place. Overall I thought this was a fantastic story and one I would suggest to fans of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and Inkheart. I look forward to reading more from Anne Ursu.

Readalikes: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, East by Edith Pattou, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Fairest by Gail Carson Levine, Jessica Day George

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn, Part I

Last Saturday night I went to see Breaking Dawn Part I with a couple of friends from work. I was there an hour before the movie started and was third in line so we were able to find good seats toward the back of the theater. I wasn't very excited about seeing this movie until I saw the trailers. I wanted to see the wedding and see just how the director would portray some of the scenes from the book such as the birth. 

The positives: 

The wedding scenes were beautiful and I love the soundtrack and the way songs from the earlier films were incorporated, such as Iron and Wine's "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" (the song Bella and Edward dance to at the prom). The soundtrack/score is fantastic and I liked it much more than the Eclipse soundtrack/score (my favorite songs are "Turning Page" and Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years"). There were some funny scenes too which kind of helps when the movie takes a darker turn later on. I thought the makeup artists did a good job with Bella both for the wedding and the scenes where she is pregnant. She really did look like she was seriously ill. Something else I liked was the interaction between Bella and her parents. It had this nice bittersweet quality. I also think the honeymoon scenes were handled tactfully. I was really grateful for this because in the row in front of me, a mother had brought her little girls to watch the movie. I felt like saying "close your eyes!" at a couple of the scenes but it wasn't that bad. Another positive was that a particular plot point from the book was eliminated in the film and I am so glad. I do not want to spoil anything for those who haven't seen it yet but if you are dying to know, highlight to read: It was the scene where Edward asks Jacob to father a child with Bella. Really glad they left it out!

The negatives:

There are of course some cheesy scenes and dialogue but that is typical for this franchise from the beginning and it didn't bother me much. The special effects were a real disappointment to me considering how far we've come since the release of Twilight in 2008. The look of the wolves in this one was especially bad and their scenes were not that great (in wolf form). The movie also didn't have a lot going on. I think this is just because it is part one and it didn't have a sense of completeness. Part two should be more action packed (I hope).


While this movie wasn't a great movie, I did like it for what it was and I enjoyed being able to watch it with friends who also like the Twilight series. Since I've only read Breaking Dawn once unlike the rest of the series, I can't accurately compare the two but I think it was pretty faithful to the book. One thing I will mention-there are some gory parts so if you are squeamish, you might want to wait to see it on DVD/Blu-ray instead of on the big screen. Breaking Dawn Part I may not be anywhere near the Harry Potter series or other book-to-movie adaptations but it was still fun and entertaining. It is better than the first movie if it doesn't quite live up to New Moon or Eclipse due to special effects issues and lack of suspense/action. If you haven't seen the movie yet, be sure to stick around for the credits as there is an extra scene! As for me, I am hoping to go see the movie again this coming weekend with my sister. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (87)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I had a rough week but it ended on a good note when I went with some friends from work to watch Breaking Dawn on Saturday night. I also managed to finish a review after struggling with "review writer's block". My review of Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu will be posted later this week. I will hopefully have some more reviews completed soon.

I can't wait for Thanksgiving and spending time with my family. I will be taking my new Scrabble game and some of these books with me when I head to my parents' house on Wednesday. Bring on the smoked turkey and scalloped corn!

Books read:

Come Sunday by Isla Morley

This was a sad but really good book about loss and relationships. I look forward to discussing it with my evening book group next week.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

I wasn't sure if I'd like this at first since I don't care for the original fairy tale but this retelling was very nicely done and I loved all the references to Narnia, Harry Potter, and other books.

Currently reading:

Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I am rereading this so I can discuss it with my afternoon book discussion group. I like this book though I was disappointed with the sequel.

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

I am hoping to finish The Kitchen Daughter this week. I like it so far but my book discussion book comes first since the meeting is a week from Tuesday.

What I might read next:

Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren

This is a book I might be reading for review for Royal Reviews. I have to read a holiday or winter themed book so I'll give this historical novel a try.

Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean

Yup, this is still on my TBR pile. I have been seeing more reviews for this around the blogosphere. I am sure I will love this if I could just get to read it already!

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

I have had this checked out from the library for months and I am determined that I will finish it by the end of the year! Then maybe I can get the audio book to listen to since Jim Dale reads it.

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy your reading this week!

In My Mailbox (69)

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, it was all about YA books as I got a ton of new books from the library that came in on hold.

For review:

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

What drew me to want to read this book is the combination of historical fiction with paranormal elements. I am interested in Russian history and I have high hopes for this book.

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

This reminds me a little bit of Dairy Queen with the female football player angle. I think it is pretty cool that she is the QB of her team. 

As someone who enjoys being in book clubs I hope this will be as interesting as it sounds. 


Tamar by Mal Peet

This was one of the Kindle daily deals this past week and I thought it sounded really interesting. I don't know how popular it is with teens but I love historical fiction set during World War II.

From the library:

I have seen many, many good reviews of this book so I decided that I had to read it for myself. Hopefully I will like it as much as everyone else does!

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

I actually received this from NetGalley but didn't realize that I hadn't downloaded it to my Kindle till it was too late. Thankfully I was able to order it from the library.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

I really wanted to read this last month for Halloween but it is so popular that I didn't get my hands on a copy till now. Oh, well. 

Drink Slay Love by Sarah Beth Durst

I am hoping that this will be as humorous as Sucks To Be Me (Kimberly Pauley). The description certainly makes it sound like a funny book.

Fateful by Claudia Gray

I don't think I would have picked this up if it wasn't set on the Titanic. With the 100th anniversary fast approaching, I am sure there will be more and more books featuring the Titanic. This one has a paranormal twist with werewolves.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

I think this one has potential to be a really interesting dystopian book. I have heard mostly good things about it.

Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey

This was my WoW pick not too long ago so I'm glad I was able to get it so soon. I've enjoyed the other fairy tale retellings in this series and I hope this will be just as fun.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

So I thought I'd try something new...

I currently have Review Writer's Block-the dreaded words for a book blogger. I am in the middle of writing several reviews and just can't seem to put my thoughts in order. Hopefully I will be able to complete a review soon! 

In the meantime, this is an exciting week in the world of YA lit with the release of The Hunger Games trailer and the upcoming release of Breaking Dawn Part I. I thought that the trailer for The Hunger Games was fantastic. I was concerned at first when I saw who was cast to play Peeta but I think the movie will be really good based on what I saw in the trailer.

While I am not as big of a Twilight fan as I once was (before I read Breaking Dawn and saw the first film), I am still eager to see this movie. I happen to like weddings, even fictional ones and I am curious about how the movie will play out. I bought my ticket last night and I will be watching the film on Saturday in what is sure to be a packed movie theater.

What did you think of the trailer for The Hunger Games movie? Did it meet your expectations?  Will you be going to see Breaking Dawn

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (74)

"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 Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell
Publication date: April 17, 2012

Description from Goodreads:

It’s a long way from Baltimore to Oklahoma Territory. But Zora Stewart will go any distance to put the tragic events of her sixteenth summer behind her. So this city girl heads to the tiny frontier town of West Glory to help her young widowed aunt keep her homestead going.
When another Baltimorean shows up in West Glory, Zora couldn’t be more surprised. Theo de la Croix made the long trip out west hoping to court Zora, whom he has long admired from afar.
But Zora has developed an attraction to a rather less respectable fellow: Emerson Birch, a rough-mannered young "sooner" whose fertile land is coveted.
As Zora begins to suspect that there may be more than luck behind Emerson’s good land, she discovers an extraordinary, astonishing power of her own: the ability to sense water under the parched earth. When her aunt hires her out as a "springsweet" to advise other settlers where to dig their wells, Zora feels the burden of holding the key to something so essential to survival in this unforgiving land.
Even more, she finds herself longing for love the way the prairie thirsts for water. Maybe, in the wildness of the territories, Zora can finally move beyond simply surviving and start living.
I really liked The Vespertine and I am eager to read this companion novel.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Publication date: January 24, 2012

Description from Goodreads:

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who invent and create but prefer not to pitch their own ideas; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts we owe many of the great contributions to society—from Van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer. 

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with the indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Susan Cain charts the rise of “the extrovert ideal” over the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects—how it helps to determine everything from how parishioners worship to who excels at Harvard Business School. And she draws on cutting-edge research on the biology and psychology of temperament to reveal how introverts can modulate their personalities according to circumstance, how to empower an introverted child, and how companies can harness the natural talents of introverts. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

I am very excited about this book! Though it takes me a long time to get through nonfiction books, I really want to read this as I am a major introvert. Early buzz is really good!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top Ten Books I Own But Haven't Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's topic is "Top Ten Books I Own But Haven't Read".

1. Eona by Alison Goodman

I've only had this book since April but considering the years I waited to read this sequel I am ashamed of myself for not picking it up yet!

2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I bought this at the same time that I bought Eona but I wanted to read it right away and then I just never did. I am afraid I won't get to it till next year.

3. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My sister gave me this book (and the sequels) last year for Christmas and I still haven't started it yet. I must be one of the few people left who haven't read it :)

4. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

5. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

6. Marley and Me by John Grogan

My sister gave this to me for my birthday in 2010 and I still haven't read it. She even got it signed by John Grogan. I feel so awful that I haven't read it. I loved the movie!

7. The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer

I have had this book since 2006. I started reading it but I was in grad school and life got really busy and complicated and I never picked it up again. I did like it and found it had some good advice for building confidence which I sorely need!

8. Birthmarked by Carah M. O'Brien

I won this book last year from another book blogger. I was really excited about reading it but somehow it just never happened. Now the sequel is out too. Oh, well...

9. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

This is one of those books that I went out and bought without thinking about it. Then I read some negative reviews and changed my mind about reading it. It sounds too much like a YA book I didn't care for that even has protagonists with the same name. I keep forgetting to donate this to my library book sale.

10. The Deathly Hallows Lectures by John Granger

I am a huge Harry Potter fan and I enjoy reading nonfiction about the books too. I consider John Granger to be something of a Harry Potter expert and I always learn more about the books from reading his essays. I loved his Looking For God in Harry Potter so I snatched up a copy of this right away. Unfortunately I have yet to finish it. It takes me a long time to read nonfiction. I do plan to read it someday.

Have you read any of these books? Am I a total failure for not having read them yet? :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (68)

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:

"'It's just that Greg has spent a decade hoping and praying I would be the perfect preacher's wife, who doesn't get her back up so easily. That I would turn out to be the superwife and the supermom. And every time I'm not, I swear Greg leaves me just an inch. You add up all those inches over time and see the miles you come up with.'" p.128

"'Life was easier to bear when I thought there was meaning to it, when there seemed to be reasons for why things happened or didn't happen. When life was one great algorithm. But it's not. Bad things happen, good things happen, then more bad things happen. There's no logic to it.'" p.129

Come Sunday by Isla Morley

Description from book:

Abbe is a restless young mother living on the outskirts of Honolulu with her husband, Greg, the pastor at a small church. Their lives are suddenly riven by tragedy when their three-year-old daughter, Cleo, is struck and killed by car. As Greg turns to God and community for comfort, Abbe turns inward and reflects upon her own troubled past.  Isla Morley brilliantly weaves the story of Abbe's grief with a gripping tale of her tempestuous childhood in apartheid South Africa---and how Abbe's father, a villainous drunk, held her family hostage for decades with his rage, until they finally began to plot their escape from him. Come Sundayis a spellbinding drama about a woman breaking free of her grief and of her past, and what it takes to revive hope when all seems lost. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (86)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I skipped last week's What Are You Reading since I was sick so this is two weeks worth of books. Even though I had a sore throat and cold, I was able to get some reading done. Unfortunately, I am behind on writing reviews!

Books read:

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Even though I read the Glass series first, I still really enjoyed Poison Study. I liked being introduced again to Yelena, Valek, Janco, and Ari and I look forward to reading book two, Magic Study.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

At first I really liked this retelling of The Scarlet Letter and felt for Hannah and all she was going through. but then the plot took some bizarre turns. I thought the protagonist acted out of character and the story really lost focus and disappointed me in the end.

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

I love time travel novels and while I didn't think The Rose Garden was as good as The Winter Sea, I still really liked it even when it wasn't believable.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

I was just a bit disappointed with this book. I think because Alanna is so young and a little naive I found her to be annoying at times. It is still a good book and I hope that I will like the rest of the series more. 

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Another fun historical romance by Julia Quinn! I really liked that the protagonist wasn't known as a beauty and that she was a wallflower. That made her more relatable and the romance more sweet. Now I know which author to try next time I am sick and need a good distraction.

Books reviewed:

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Currently reading:

Come Sunday by Isla Morley

I knew going into it that this book was going to be really sad. I am only on chapter three and this is a definite tearjerker! It is my evening book discussion's November pick.

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

I was reading Bright Young Things on my Kindle when I realized that I have two book discussion books that I need to read by November 29th. I hate having to put this to the side because I am really enjoying it. My favorite character so far is Letty though Cordelia is also fun to read about. Will I like this book more than the Luxe series? Stay tuned...

What I plan to read next:

Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I will be rereading this book because it is my afternoon book discussion group's November pick. It is a book I have read twice before (and I love it) but it has been awhile.

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

I have started this book but haven't gotten very far yet. I love all the descriptions of food, the recipes, and the writing style.

Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean

I really need to read this soon! I have had it checked out from the library since August. Thankfully we get to keep our books for four weeks and renew them for four more weeks but time is running out. I just read a really good review of this from Mystica that makes me want to read the book even more!

So that is what I have planned for my week. 
What have you been reading and what do you hope to read next?