Thursday, November 15, 2012

Me again by Keith Cronin

From the Author

Giving something back . . .

It's a strange thing, writing about tragedy in the name of entertainment. As readers, we seem to have an insatiable appetite for seeing characters undergo terrible challenges and calamity. And as writers, we dig deep to see what we can come up with to feed that hunger.

I wrote ME AGAIN with the goal of creating an entertaining, often funny book that explored some serious emotional themes as it followed the intertwined paths of two young stroke victims. But as the book neared completion, I began to have misgivings about using an affliction that touches so many people - some 795,000 Americans each year, and that's just the victims, not their loved ones - as the basis for a story meant merely to entertain.

So I made myself a promise. If this book sold, I'd use it to help others as well. That's why 25% of everything I earn from ME AGAIN - including my advance - is being donated to the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association that focuses on reducing risk, disability and death from stroke through research, education, fund raising and advocacy.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death, and the leading cause of adult disability. My hope is that my little what-if story can do something to help change that, while still managing to entertain people on airplanes and beaches.

I don't know if I'm allowed to copy and paste this from Amazon, but I did anyway. It's pretty admiral and self-conscious to feel bad about writing something for other's pleasure that some may not find so funny. 

Anyway. Instead of starting the post with something about myself I decided to start the post with something that moved me! Now let's talk about the book. It starts off a little slow, which is imaginable because Jonathan Hooper has been in a coma for 6 years. I was a little afraid that the author would spend so much time going through each stage of recovery that the story would be hindered. But, it was really a quickly moving little story. More about the personal struggles of finding out who you are now that you've gone through this terrible thing. Stroke affect everyone differently, this can include physical ability, muscle weakness, memories, personalities. All kinds of different things can happen. 
The story was well thought out, and definitely has it's moments that make me smile. It makes you think, what would you do if one day you woke up and realized that you weren't the same person anymore? Jonathan wakes up and realizes that he doesn't remember anything or anyone from before. He has to relearn everything from how to move his hands to how to love someone. As you read through the book you piece together the kind of man he was before. So you definitely get to see some great dynamics.
Rebecca is a patient of the stroke unit that Jonathan is. Apparently she had a stroke young just like him 29 I think. After the stroke she finds out that she no longer has the "nice filter". You know, the one that prevents you from saying things you think because they will hurt someone's feelings. Shes funny and oblivious to those things. But she used to be that trophy wife who did everything right all the time. 
Their stories intermingle and they adjust to their new personalities and their new lives. I enjoyed the story, and I'm sure you will to. Give it a try? and 25% of your purchase is donated. :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

I guess you could say this is random?

I'm not posting about a book, but sort of about the blog I guess. I'd really just like to take this opportunity to process a few ideas about what I'd like to continue doing with the blog and just see where I end up. 

I was talking to NickNack about the blog lately and he had some really great ideas about ways to continue to use my blog for growth and ways to introduce it to more people. Obviously as you can tell no one actually follows my blog, but people read it every day! Which is awesome and not so awesome at the same time. I'd like to make this a thing that has some community involvement. It gets difficult choosing books, and I also have no idea what you, as the reader, care about reading. I've recently just been skipping around all over the place in the genres I've been reading. And I've been posting all my blogs on Goodreads as reviews, so I know that some of my increased traffic is coming from that. 

So here are some of the ideas that we've discussed:

1.) Asking authors to do a short online Q&A either in a written format or me figuring out how to make a video thing. I don't know how that would work, but I know I could host a chatroom thing with other readers or something. It's an option to explore

2.) Review new books the week or day they come out. I know that Flame of Sevenwaters has gotten quite a few hits because it's a brand new book, and isn't even out in some countries yet. 

3.) Something I really want to do is start a book club. Which NickNack is talking about something I should do too. And then kind of taking away from that and discussing it weekly or monthly as well. I don't expect people to read at the same speed as me. And I'll be reading less since I got a new job.

4.) Find book signings and go meet the authors and maybe having giveaways of a signed copy of a book? 

There are a lot of other random things that we have talked about as ways to make this not only more interesting to you as a reader, but also more involving for me. I don't know if I'll turn this blog into something more than a hobby, but it could really be fun for me to maintain over the next few months and see where we go from there. 

Harry Steinman who wrote Little Deadly Things sent me an email on Goodreads about how he enjoys reading what I write and that maybe I could really take it some where. I don't know, but I feel like maybe I actually could. NickNack is on board and doesn't seem to mind the amount I read. I think sometimes people get the idea that all I do is read and nothing else gets done. But that's simply not true. I'd read a hell of a lot more books if I didn't have to do laundry and dishes or be a taxi to and from school. 

Every day is an adventure and I plan to keep on being an adventurer. So come along and join me. I think it could be a lot of fun if we do it together. 

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Before I Die, Jenny Downham, David Fickling Books 2007, 327 pgs.

My mom seems to think that I spend all my time reading, and none of it paying attention to my son. That's entirely not true. I however, can see how she would think that. Especially after she walks in the house this afternoon to catch me finishing up this book with tears glistening in my eyes, and my son running amok in the backyard. In my defense I spent the whole day with Ry and I was in the backyard with him physically. I guess she has all the luck to decide to come over right when I finally found the time and motivation to finish the last hundred or so pages of the book. 

Every review I had read before finally picking up this book led me to believe that it would be an emotionally taxing roller coaster. And I'll tell you now, I was right. I was excited when the UPS man brought this book yesterday. It's not very often that I make the decision to buy a book anymore. Budgeting is a terrible thing sometimes. Truthfully though, it was a little hard to get through the first 200 pages. The story is about Tessa, she is a 16 year old girl with terminal cancer. Where the story begins she has already fought against the cancer for 3 years and knows that the best thing she can do now is live as much life as she can. No one wants to die knowing they never lived. 

First things first she wants sex. It's not surprising that a 16 year old girl would want to experience all the things she has read about or watched on TV. Quickly she learns that real life isn't a fairy tale. Tessa is sometimes angry, sometimes sad, lonely, and sometimes she learns to take it as things are. As you follow her through the story you learn to cope with the things just the way she does. The sadness about missing things, the anger about knowing you won't get to do everything that you had hoped in life. I mentioned that the first 200 pages were slow, but the last 127 are painful, emotional and raw. I think the way it's laid out the story just brings you along and shows you to feel the way Tessa does. It's angry, rushed, sad, just like her life. And in the end it goes by so fast that you almost feel like it's not real. 

If books make you cry, you'll cry. I did, and I'm not afraid to admit it. It's a story that you know from the beginning isn't going to end like we all hope it will. There is no fooling yourself, and no sense of false security given. And yet you still get carried along and remain at odds with the cancer battle. I'm glad I read this book. The New York Times Book Review says "I don't care how old you are. This book will not leave you." And I think they are right. It really made me think about all those I've already lost to cancer in my life. None of them were children. I really cannot fathom. Read it. You won't regret it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mrs. Tuesday's Departure by Suzanne E. Anderson

Mrs. Tuesday's Departure, Suzanne E. Anderson, Henry and George Press 2012, 268 pages

I said to myself that I'd take a break from this book a day thing, but obviously that didn't work out. I started this book this morning and just kept reading through it. My Kindle Paperwhite told me it would only take me 2.5 hours to read it. I never really pay attention to how accurate that is since I start and stop reading several times while going through books. Maybe one of these days I'll actually time it to see how accurate it really is. 

Anyway, I always seem to start and end my reviews severely off topic. On to the book! I liked and disliked it. The story line was interesting but underdeveloped. What I really disliked was the writing style. Each "chapter" was anywhere from one paragraph up to a couple of pages. Which means that a book that is only 268 pages ended with 87 chapters. There was absolutely no reason to run the story like this, and it actually added to the horribly jumpy feel of the book. 

The book is set in Hungary at the end of World War II. Natalie is a widow left to care for her identical twin suffering from Alzheimer's and suddenly is also stuck with her niece after Mila's abandoment by her parents. What else could go wrong? Mila's stepfather is a Jew which by German laws also means that Mila is a Jew, which puts her and those protecting her in danger. Natalie is fiercely protective of her sister who loses more and more of herself everyday, and because of this bond Natalie herself is put in great danger. 

The book while not well written, still causes me to take a step back and to think about things. If that were my sister, would I be able to give all of myself to be with her? Even when I know there is nothing left of herself, would I still risk everything I know to save her? Or even just to be with her until the end? I think this book deserves three stars for it's overall ideas and concept and the writing would get about 1 from me. It feels like a YA novel even though I know it's not supposed to be. Suzanne E. Anderson is new to the writing game, and I expect that she's only going to get better. I'm looking forward to see what other things she comes out with. It's always nice to watch a writer find their own voice. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Flame of Sevenwaters, Juliet Marillier, First Roc Printing 2012 433 pgs.

So I did it again. I read this book from start to finish today. I think that makes this the third book the week that I've read. I'm fairly certain that if I don't find a job soon I'll probably start to become a crazy book lady. That is, only if I'm not already a crazy book lady. We won't talk about those things, we are here to talk about the latest book in the Sevenwaters series.

Flame of Sevenwaters is the sixth book in the saga created by Juliet Marillier. I fell in love with the then trilogy and the author in the ninth grade. I'd say that was (doing math, it's a good thing you can't judge how long it's taking me to figure this out) nine years ago! If I were to compare the writing styles between the books I would say that the writing feels better as I read it, but it seems like the story lines are not being as well developed as the first three books. I think it's been two years since the last book came out for Sevenwaters. I'd verify this information but I don't really want to go through the effort. I know it was Seer of Sevenwaters. It was good in the same way this one was. 

I'm not really going to give out too many details about the book's story line because I know that it only came out in the US yesterday and doesn't come out in other countries until next week. I wouldn't want to give any spoilers out. I will tell you this Maeve is just as strong a woman as all her other sisters. I like that Juliet is sticking with the sisters as she continues telling things. It's not as far apart and I know that if she were to continue moving her tales through the next generations instead of staying in one she would lose the time frame of her fantastical tales. Anyway, back to Maeve. If you've read any of the other novels you'll know that in the third Child of Prophecy she was burned and disfigured in a fire, after the fire she was sent to Harrowfield with her Aunt Liadan (My favorite member of the family). Being raised in this stronghold gave her the ability to cope with the damage to herself and to her soul.

In Flame of Sevenwaters Maeve is asked to travel home to Sevenwaters to help her Uncle Bran with a task. Imagine being 20 and afraid to meet the demons you walked away from when you were 10. Little does she know where this homeward journey will lead her, nor just how strong she will really have to be. 

On Goodreads I gave this book 4 stars. I find it difficult to be very harsh on books, but this was still a very captivating read. There is something about the characters that Juliet Marillier brings to life that I identify with. I feel like I may be going back and reading Shadowfell again in order to review it here as well. Shadowfell came out a few months ago and I read it through once like I did Flame of Sevenwaters. Maybe that's what I'll read tomorrow. I've been having a difficult time deciding what I was going to do. My son is out of school though so I won't have as much free time as I've had the past three days. Happy reading all! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Yellow Crocus, Laila Ibrahim Flaming Chalice Press, 2011 240 pages

Alright, I'll admit that I didn't really like it from the beginning. Honestly I thought that I would walk away from the book and start reading Flame of Sevenwaters as soon as it finally arrived, but I didn't! I stuck it out and read it from start to finish today with a few hours dedicated to cleaning and voting in the middle somewhere. Anyway, it's really time to talk about the book and not the random things I did today.

Lisbeth Wainwright is a white woman born on a plantation in Virginia in 1837. At this time it's not proper for a well off woman to nurse her own child, so she is given to a wet nurse and taken out to show off once a week. Lisbeth is raised and loved by a woman named Mattie who was taken from her own 3 month old son to be the wet nurse for Lisbeth. The book is about how Lisbeth grows up with a strong connection to her wet nurse who is a slave of her family. As she grows she learns more about the way the slaves are treated and the different lives that they lead from her. After a time the two women are separated and Lisbeth is left to find out who she is and her own personal opinions on slavery or abolition.

As Lisbeth matures into adulthood she is throw more into the life of a plantation owner and is made more aware of the circumstances that the slaves are forced to endure because of their captivity. She learns compassion for every person, and that no matter what people shouldn't be forced into certain kinds of acts. She is a well developed character who becomes a woman and holds her own. It's not easy to defy your family at 19, and make yourself into your own woman. She marries a great man and becomes the person you hoped she would be the whole time.

It didn't take me long to get through the story, but it was pretty good. I feel like I'm prejudiced against shorter books because I feel like there isn't time to develop the characters. In this instance I appreciate that the author only focused on two main characters and during the more needed times one of the characters sort of disappeared. I appreciate being able to focus on one story line and not have to jump around between too many plot lines. I've noticed lately that quite a few of the books I've been reading have been doing just that: jumping between too many characters. That whole process just leaves things unformed and missing pieces. I give this book 4 stars on Goodreads. Have a Goodreads account? Be my friend!

Things I wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman

Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married, Gary Chapman Northfield Publishing 2010 164 pgs

It's true that I am not married yet, but my boyfriend NickNack and I decided not too long ago that this is something that we are going to work towards, and something we are going to do. I won't say anything negative about my family or my parents' marriage to each other, except to say that they divorced when I was 16 and were apart from each other long before that. I know that I have no desire to put my son through anything that is as unfair as that. And because of that desire Nick and I are going through the marriage process with eyes wide open. I found Gary Chapman randomly on Amazon and read the 5 Love languages. It was an incredibly helpful and eye opening experience that I will blog about at a later date. Right now I want to discuss the book that I found because I read the 5 Love Languages.

There are 12 chapters in this book that detail 12 very different things that you may not know or think about until it becomes a problem. Gary Chapman is a counselor for married couples and has been for nearly 40 years. He has had his own marital problems and isn't afraid to use his real life pains and miss communications to show us how important it is that we know and decide these things before we walk into something. One of my favorite chapters in the book is about toilets not being self-cleaning. We grow up not realizing how much our parents do or do not do in our households. We also see that one parent may do the dishes and the other may vacuum the floors, but what we don't realize is that these values are not held across the margins for every family.

One of the major points that I feel like Gary Chapman is making, is that all families are different. As a couple we have to learn to be open and honest about the things we expect the other half to do, or find a compromise that works best between both parties to ensure that the little trivialities don't become all out war at some point in our marriages. Over all I am glad I read this book. NickNack has also read it with me, and it's opened up a few lines of communication that allow us to better understand each other and the ways we are going to continue growing and working together. For any of my married friends who are out there I suggest that you read this, even if you think your marriage is awesome and nothing could ever come between you two. It's really just a few simple things to make sure that you know effective communications skills, and that you are loving each other in the most effective love languages. Gotta keep those love tanks full!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chasing Paris by Jen Carter

What would you do if you wake up one day to realize that the history of your family isn't what you thought it was? What would happen if you knew that your family hid the fact that your Grandma is really your great aunt and there is a whole knew mysterious woman and man that you just learned about? I can tell you that I would do exactly the same thing Amy Winthrow does. I'd do everything in my power to find out who she was and why she left.

There is a certain amount of disbelief that I really can't force myself to believe in this novel. An English Professor says that the planets must be in line because all the pieces of the romance are simply falling into place. I understand that you as a person who hasn't read the book yet won't understand the reference, but it's important that I state that I really don't believe that Will and Amy worked out in a fashion that I can suspend my disbelief in. I am a hopeless romantic, and you could see their future from the beginning, it's just not developed enough to be possible. 

There were also pieces that didn't really fit to me. It felt essentially like Amy's entire family was playing a mean trick on her almost the whole time as well. You find out in the end that it's not a trick and everything is real, but too many people have pieces to the puzzles that they shouldn't. It's hard to imagine that her sister April finds a relic from the family history and has absolutely no interest and doesn't tell her sister about it either. 

Chasing Paris was a quick read that I finished throughout the course of the day. Do a load of laundry, read a few chapters. Go grocery shopping, read a few chapters. Ya know? It was relatively easy for me to put the book down and walk away which is never a good sign when it comes to me attention for the book. I'm not going to say that the book was bad, it certainly has it's points of intrigue. Who is Lizzie Hathaway, and why did she abandon her family so abruptly? As I was reading I really wanted to know! It's just the surrounding story wasn't really something I cared about or believed. Reading the reviews on Amazon led me to think that it would be a different kind of writing than it was. Guess that goes to show you that you can't always believe what you read? Maybe you should pick it up and find out for yourself! Maybe.

Chasing Paris by Jen Carter, July 2012 269 pages
Amazon Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (Rated by 20 people)

Kindle vs. Actual Book

Alright, I've had this talk with quite a few people because I have recently become much more attached to my Kindle than I was before! What is better? Holding an actual book in my hands or using my Kindle which is a link to thousands of books at any given time?!? For convenience sake I say the Kindle wins and I'll tell you why.

The Kindle I now have thanks to my wonderful husband to be is the Kindle Paperwhite, and it's amazing. Before this I had the Kindle Touch which does most of the same things, but has no light and the homepages/library look quite a bit different. I'm in love with the eInk screens on both. But for the saving of your time and mine I will simply say that the Touch was awesome, but the Paperwhite is much better. The reason I began using my Kindle more is because of so many free titles offered by Amazon and also by other authors and websites. I have many bookmarked that allow me to download books to the correct formats at no cost. Yes, a lot of these books are out of date classics, but if you know me you know that is what I like to read. Recently if you follow my blog you'll notice that I have subscribed to a blog by Michael Gallagher that shows me different free books on a daily basis and this is where I have been finding most of the books I've been reading lately. Free makes everything more appealing. The light on the Paperwhite is really handy too. Book lights hurt my eyeballs and in general make me not a very happy camper. So I can read in poorly lit rooms without hurting my eyes, and the pages are still eInk so that it looks like I'm reading a real book. Amazing! What's not to like about tons of free books, excellent lighting, and I didn't mention the compact easy to hold size, but there is that as well. 

Now for real books the main benefit I feel is the feeling of accomplishment when I finish its and can close the pages and put it back on the shelf. It's easy to feel like I'm actually getting somewhere with a HUGE book if the dividing lines between the pages I've read and the ones I have yet to read are moving quickly. Books have a smell that is almost like home for me. I've always been a heavy reader and for those reasons books are a comfort to  me. When I'm feeling down or just need a little something to make it through a tough day I'll pick something of the old bookshelves and start reading. Many of the titles that I have in print I also have in Kindle format, but some books really are better as books. I've read Pride and Prejudice so many times that I've had to replace it once and the most recent copy is starting to deteriorate again. I still buy tons of books in paper format, because I HATE paying for anything that I have in Kindle format. Seems like if I'm going to be giving away my money I should have something that I can hold in my hand, something concrete. Plus, it's just fun wandering through the aisles at bookstores to find whatever will catch me this time. Nowadays I stick to used books for the fact that I spend way too much money if I even consider entering a Barnes and Noble, but it's always an adventure. Even more of an adventure due to the fact that you have no idea what you'll actually find at a used book store. 

All around I feel like the Kindle is just a much more convenient way to read books. I can finish one and easily move on to the next, and this has really been beneficial to my reading habits as of late. I currently am unemployed (not for long) and my son recently started going to school all day so I feel like I will have considerably more time at my disposal for reading and maintaining this blog. I also know that this is a short lived holiday and I will be returning to work and all the joys of time consuming activities that involves. I'll just have to enjoy this time while I have the chance, books here I come! There will probably be a new blog in a little while. I started a book called Chasing Paris this morning and it doesn't seem very long. My Kindle tells me that I only have 2 hours and 7 minutes of reading time left, I don't feel like that is very accurate due to the pace I read at. Oh well. Here's to enjoying a day with a little relaxation, a little grocery shopping, a bit of cleaning, and a lot of living. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Little Deadly Things by Harry Steinman

"What happens when abusive parents raise brilliant children? You might get a saint. You might get a killer. Or you might get one of each."

Finding this book as another product of the blog that I follow for free Kindle books. It was an excellent find! I started it and pretty much couldn't put it down. It was a pretty crazy read, one that I couldn't predict much in. The Novel is set in the future where there are insane nanotechnologies that run nearly the entire world. The owner of NMech which specializes in these products is followed through her life path, along with her two best friends.

Eva Rozen is a very intense character who starts life in a very outrageous way. Control freak, lover, friend, psychopath.. all wrapped into one compact package. She is certainly a character that will stick with me for quite some time. 

Marta Cruz is a pained woman, but an incredibly compassionate soul. She learns that to respect and care about the ant is to respect and care about humanity. Marta is a healer. There is clash after clash between these two women who grew into maturity together. I really feel for this character who is so impassioned in her care of others that she is able to forget the extreme pain of her personal conditions, and continue on her path to save humanity. 

Jim Ecco is the man in the middle. The animal lover with a bad temper. From an abusive household. Loved his first dog so much that he never had another live with him after the pain of losing the first. A people reader, able to discover minute facts about people based on small things he notices. Think of Patrick Jane from the Mentalist and you've got a general idea of his talents. Just add in a really bad temper and a tendency to beat people up. 

All three characters came from really strenuous childhoods that shaped the way they became. Seems like it was focused on the reflections of upbringing that made children into the kinds of adults they became. Psychologically that is a pretty interesting idea, and very true. I hate giving spoilers about the books I'm reading so I'm going to try to finish up the review now so that I don't start blabbing about the crazy stuff that is in this book. 

I can say that I will probably go back and read this book again in the future, hopefully at a slower pace since I won't be devouring it like I did this first time. I know there are things I missed that will add  to the whole story line. Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to read next. With all these free books I've been getting it's been more difficult to decide since I have so many options! Reading is probably the best stress reliever I know. Sort of feeling like reading all the books in the Sevenwaters series again, since the new one will be arrives next week. If I do this I won't be posting about them because it'll basically be me rehashing the post I wrote about Juliet since she is absolutely one of my favorite artists. Oh well, We will see. I'll probably also get back to the additional postings about things other than just books I've read. Thinking about doing one right after this so that I stop rambling on a review. Yeah. BYE!

Friday, November 2, 2012

How Huge the Night a Novel by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

"Based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon—the only French town honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust—How Huge the Night is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens turning the pages as it teaches them about a fascinating period of history and inspires them to think more deeply about their everyday choices." Excerpt from Amazon

The story parallels the paths that two different children take. Nina is a Jew escaping from Austria with her little brother Gustav, and Julien is a protestant boy relocated from Paris to a quiet town in the south of France where his grandfather lives. The chapters rotate between the two until their paths finally meet. 

Julien is stuck from the very beginning with the choice to follow the crowds or to follow his conscience. It's a battle with himself and a battle with his faith to find the path that he must follow to become his happiest self. And Nina herself grapples with the idea of a God who would send her through such trials and abuse. 

Julien goes through the coming of age journey in what I would imagine is a pretty normal way. He is moved away from everything that he knows and then forced into a new school where he doesn't know anyone and is viewed as an outsider by all the other kids. It's anger at his parents, then anger at everyone else, then anger at himself. It's a pretty religiously weighted book because every day he prays. Every day he gets a little closer to learning the right things to pray for. He learns that one small decision can change the way everything else is run. He sets his town on a path to great acts of faith and kindness.

Nina on the other hand is on the run and dressed like a boy. She quickly loses her faith in humanity and fears all men. It's a long and painful journey from Austria to France. They meet enemies and friends alike on the way. Gustav grows and becomes a man because he has to learn to care for and protect his crippled "brother Niko". And Nina has to find the will to survive from somewhere deep inside. Their story isn't very well followed or laid out in great detail. 

The book was certainly meant to focus mostly on the townspeople and their acts of bravery or bigotry either way. Set during the German take over of France it shows that people aren't always afraid to do what is right even when it is outlawed. I've never really read much about France being defeated by the Germans, so it was an interesting concept to me. I can understand why Hitler set up a dividing line and had an unoccupied area of France, since this area wasn't a direct link to any other major countries (specifically England). I feel though that in the book the story of Nina and Gustav should have had equal weight, the depth of their story was definitely something I was missing every time I'd pass over one of their chapters. I can see how maybe the writers were trying to make their flight seem more furtive by making it all so short and terse, but I didn't really enjoy that. 

The fact that this is a teen novel didn't really discourage me from reading it at all. It was well written and easy to follow. I found this book for free for my Kindle via a blog by Michael Gallagher called "Free Kindle Books and Tips" It's pretty awesome. If you have a Kindle I'd suggest the purchase. It's only 99c a month and I've already downloaded at minimum 20 books for free that I wouldn't have found on my own before they went back to full price. It's nice. 

City of Women by David E. Gillham

"Whom do you trust, whom do you love, and who can be saved?  

It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women. 
Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew." - excerpt from Amazon

I'm going to guess that I bought this book because it was the Kindle Daily deal, I don't actually remember. I can however promise you that I didn't pay 12.99 to have it on my Kindle. But whatever. The only real point of mentioning that is that I wanted to try and figure out how I even came across this book in the first place. Anyway, now on to the point of the whole post.

I really enjoyed this book! It had it's moments where it was really crude and you could remember that it was a man writing from a woman's perspective, but for the most part it went pretty smooth. I'll admit that I usually get a little nervous reading a book that a man wrote from a woman's perspective. 

Sigrid is a weak woman who gets sucked into something way bigger than her. She finds out who she is and what she is capable of along this treacherous path. She saves Jews from the Germans.  I'm not sure what it is about WWII right now that is holding my interest, but I'll be posting in a little bit about a book I just finished which is also about WWII. Something about this book really triggered it for me. In Berlin when all the capable men are away fighting a war it's up to the women left behind to pull everything together. They hold jobs and feed their families, and some are also brave enough to help others along the way as well.

It's easy to tell when some people are your enemies, and yet Sigrid has to fight through the trenches so to speak to see who is the real enemy. Her closest friends may turn her in, the nosey neighbors may start to read into her sudden like of the cinema. Lives hang in the balance. Not just hers, but everyone she loves.

This was a good read. Not incredibly memorable honestly. I read this over a week ago and some of the pieces are already missing in my memory. I'll blame that on the fact that it's a pleasure read and not something I read for historical relevance. But good none the less. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When it Happens to You: A Novel in Stories by Molly Ringwald

"The moment you make someone promise anything is the same moment you ask them to lie to you."

So, I found this book in the Kindle 100 books for $3.99 or less (of course it was $3.99). I'm not wholly surprised that I am left a little disappointed by the book. Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty easy light read and it has relatively developed characters, I was just bored. I don't know if that's because I read it after drinking way too much coffee. I couldn't stay focused. The main story revolves around a single couple with their own marital problems. Once you are introduced to them in the first story it jumps to another story about someone who is linked somehow. It begins to develop in a tangled out of order kind of way that almost forced you to have to make things make sense, instead of it happening naturally.

I don't know much about Molly Ringwald as a person and so I don't know what her life has been like. But this book was just causing one train wreck after another in the characters lives. There wasn't a single character that escaped some absurd huge tragedy whether it be finances, infidelity, drugs, or simply growing old and having dementia. It was too much. In real life every one has problems, and we all deal with them the best that we can. I just feel like in a book that is completely interconnected it's an overload to have too many struggles and personal failures to maintain.

I don't usually write reviews in such a way, but I really didn't enjoy this book. I bought it yesterday and had the day off so I finished it in a few hours time. I am usually okay with reads that go by pretty quickly because it's kind of a day romance. This book just left me feeling underwhelmed and lacking finality. I very seldom mind when a book ends and allows you to finish the story for yourself, and yet this book really needed some kind of closure. Nearly every person's story in all the short stories was left as an unfinished cliff-hanger.

In short I will just say that I don't really suggest this book if you are looking for a satisfying read. The first book Rindwald wrote was a feel good love your body book all about being a woman and awesome and stuff. I may read it just to compare. I do however, really feel like if she continues to write and explore her ideas in a refined way, she could really produce some good modern fiction. It just really needs to be honed in and address specific topics in a more focused manner.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

For years people have been suggesting that I read this book. It wasn't until someone else actually bought it for me, that I finally did. (My boyfriend knows the way into my heart.) I've come to realize that when many people suggest one thing that they may be correct. This doesn't mean that I will go out and start reading Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. I'm not that much of a follower. The one main concern I had before ever starting this book was it's reading level, which is 9th grade (or about 15 years old). No offense meant to any of you readers who are above the age of 15 and really enjoy this book, because guess what!? So did I. I literally picked it up and 5ish hours later I had read it in it's entirety. 

The inner demons that Ender conquers and all the strife and turmoil he is subjected to really drew me in. It just wouldn't let me go. It's been a couple of days since I read the book, and to be honest only a feeling really sticks with me and not so much the content. It's riveting but not in a deep factual kind of way.  I'm not even really sure what I'm trying to say right now. Something about how the story moved and was formed left an overall image in my mind, but none of the actions or dialogue really sticks out as overly memorable. I think that's where the reading level comes in to play. It was a relaxing and easy read for me. 

When I read I try to place part of me into the main character and see how I'd fair or if I'd do things with the same frame of mind. Which is completely detrimental to many books, because half the point of reading is being exposed or drawn in to different ways of thinking. Aside from that I can't imagine how anyone could expect such strength and devotion from a child so young. To even consider the possibility of forcing my son in to military training and mental exhaustion at the age of 6. On the other hand I can see why they wanted to take them so young. The inexperience really forces them to rely on their mentors and to achieve things without the outside influences that growing up in the real world would give. Ender could see through all the games they played though, and still he just went along. The end blew my mind. I kind of picked up what was happening based off of people saying that no one had ever gotten that far, and that they were pushing them all constantly without relenting. But still, I don't think I expected anything of quite that magnitude. 

I'd suggest this book if you like Science Fiction at all. Although so many people suggested the book to me that it is very possible that the few people that read my blog have already read it before. I don't know. I'm not sure I liked it enough to read any further into the series, but I'm really scrambling for things to read that will hold my interest right now. I'm going to read the Kite Runner soon, but I'm waiting for Prince Charming to be ready to read that with me. I know that some of my FB friends read this and don't follow or anything. You are all very welcome to tell me what to read and I will happily comply. I have so many books to choose from that I am unable to focus and choose. I did pre-order some books today by Brandon Sanderson and Juliet Marillier, so November should be a good month for me. That's so far away. HELP ME! 

Oh yes, I read Tess of the d'Ubervilles like I mentioned in my last post, and maybe one of these days I will feel like posting about how it made me feel. Which was completely ridiculous. I'm in the process of trying to get through another novel by the same author and maybe I'll do a combined review next week. That's only if I can force myself to finish the book though. It's not looking like that will be happening soon.

Guten Nacht! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I've always wondered...

If the things that I read say a lot about me, or very little. Or is it more the way I read versus what I read?

The way I read is what I'd call dedicated. I was speaking (texting) a friend of mine earlier and in that small conversation we spoke a little about books. He asked me if I read a book all the way through even if I don't like it. The answer to that is, yes. If I start something I feel like I must finish it, no matter how distasteful it really is. I am currently reading Tess of the D'ubervilles by Thomas Hardy. I'm not super in love with it. Well, it would be fair to say that it holds my interest some, but only because it's one big train wreck after another. I am very interested in the conclusion of the novel. It's just that it gets very dry and very masculine in some ways, which tends to lose my interest relatively quickly. 

What does that say about me? Does it mean that I am devoted and well meaning? Does it say that I give everything a fair chance, regardless of its overall experience? The real question is whether or not I can apply this to real life. And honestly, I don't think I can. The only thing I've ever been overall dedicated to is my job and my son. Those are fairly big things. I've always been much more hard on myself than ever required. I also somewhat feel like this whole idea that I'm pondering is pointless in the long run. 

Either way, it's now time to move on to what I read. This is a much more radical category because I read a very diverse range of things, sort of. Most of what I read is Russian or English literature written before 1920. The rest of my repertoire consists of a little fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction. I almost completely detest modern literature based in modern times. I've never found it interesting to read about people or situations that could relate too closely to my own. I lose the disassociation with reality that I love so much. That in itself is a pretty profound revelation. It's true though, I never feel more comfortable, when reading, as I do when I'm imagining something as far from my own reality as possible. I don't really mean that in a science fiction/alien kind of way. Even when I'm reading fantasy or science fiction it's still something real enough that maybe it could exist or could have existed. I'm not sure that The Wheel of Time could really fit in anywhere, although I do really love those books. 

Maybe it says enough about me that I do read. Reading doesn't exclude things like Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight, but there is really very little in those books of substance. I'm not sure I'm allowed to say those kinds of things because I haven't read them, but I promise you I never will. I know plenty of my friends and associates read like I do. Maybe not always the same things, but it really is the experience that matters. Yet, when I talk to random people about books, or bring up the fact that I read as much as I do, it seems like I'm some form of foreign species. Damn you America and your below average expectations for humanity. At this point I feel like I may begin to rant, and I'm not even on the topic in the way I meant to be. I read to escape reality. When life gets stressful or I'm feeling low I grab a book. I have many books that I've read many, many times because I know they will always take me out of whatever it is that I'm in. Books are an escape from everything. I read much more when I'm stressed out than I do at any other time in my life. 

What is it about my passion that defines me? The what, why, and how of it is almost impossible to 100% describe. Perhaps I define my passion, instead of it defining me. Literature spans so many genres and classifications, and every individual has their own personal experiences within each piece. Maybe it really is impossible to say what it is about it that reflects on me the most. Doesn't matter much anyway. Just random musings. I'll post later this week about Tess of the D'ubervilles. I really am sort of anxious to see how much more miserable her life can get. It almost pains me how much I can relate to her story, and how thankful I really am that I live in a time of acceptance. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Vixen Vol I-III, M. E. Braddon

So! Guess what?! I'm back. After a very long time of not having the Internet on my home computer or any way to reasonably get on to my awesome book blog, I am finally able to resume the laborious task I once began. I will admit that I have greatly strayed from the list I was supposed to be reading off of, and have begun a journey into the unknown of free kindle books. Which really just  means that I'm reading the books that I enjoy most. These mostly include books written between 185-1920 by female authors.

My most recent reading have been books by M. E. Braddon. I have found a great love in what she wrote and finished Vixen Vol I-III earlier this afternoon. Something I've never really concerned myself with was the history of the author itself. And yet, I decided to take a gander at the Wikipedia page dedicated to Ms. Braddon. I will be directly quoting what I found interesting:

In 1860, Mary met John Maxwell, a publisher of periodicals. She started living with him in 1861. However, Maxwell was already married with five children, and his wife was living in an asylum in Ireland. Mary acted as stepmother to his children until 1874, when Maxwell's wife died and they were able to get married.

Typically the sensation novel focused on shocking subject matter including adultery, theft, kidnapping, insanity, bigamy, forgery, seduction and murder.[1] It distinguished itself from other contemporary genres, including the Gothic novel, by setting these themes in ordinary, familiar and often domestic settings, thereby undermining the common Victorian-era assumption that sensational events were something foreign and divorced from comfortable middle-class life

Alright. That's all that really interested me. No wonder she excelled at writing sensation novels, her life was one.

Anyway the point of all this really is that I recently  read Lady Audley's Secret and was greatly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It really was one of those that I couldn't put down. And so I decided Saturday that I would start reading another one and liked the title of Vixen the best. I very seldom read excerpts that come with each book, and so had absolutely  no idea what the book would be about. The overall concept is about love, boundaries, family relationships, and happiness ever after.

Vixen (Violet Tempest) is a lovely, wild, and independent character with all the female feisty qualities that I love in a female lead. She loves with a passion that cannot be thwarted and hates with equal vehemence. she ends up with an evil stepfather and all kinds of miserable things happen in her life. But she stays constant and devoted even when banished to Jersey with a shriveled up old spinster. I'm greatly condensing a three volume novel into a small idea because it is late and I really don't know what else to say.

It was an enjoyable read, but I wasn't taught any life lessons of which I feel the need to impart, nor was I greatly moved by the passions within the novel. I believe that overall it was an excellent light-hearted read for me that allowed me some freedom of mind during the crazy work weekend I just had. I haven't quite decided what I want to read next, but I know I will begin something on my lunch break tomorrow. Perhaps it will end up being something of which I will have more to say.

I'll review the list of books I was supposed to have been reading and see what I've accomplished thus far, and maybe I'll work on that more. I'm so incredibly indecisive.