Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Books Books and more Books!: Spooktacular Hachette Book Group Giveaway!!!!
So this is my first Blog Tour. It was an exciting and intriguing book to get to review and blog about!
The Book: Life After Genius
Author: Ann Jacoby.
I really enjoyed this book. I didn't think that the front flap grabbed me and I still wasn't 'grabbed" in the very first few pages. I was not even sure what the description implied by an "academic thriller." I even thought the main character Theodore Mead Fegley was going to an annoying character that I couldn't grow to like. You know how sometimes you are just not in the mood for something. Well I am so glad that this Blog Tour served as motivation to read and finish the book!!!
I loved it.
I was very pleasantly surprised because book just got better and better for me. I liked the way the book goes from past to present creating suspense. The narrative voice that lent us insight intol Mead's thoughts and actions is key in this story and most excellently done. The story keeps unfolding and unfolding and really kept me entertained and drawn into the character Mead.
Along the way Mead's parents, as well as, Uncle Martin, Aunt Jewel, Percy become that "small town simple family" with circumstances that I could relate to and with whom I could sympathize.
Mead is a quirky guy. It is interesting and heartwarming to see him grow up and become more responsible for his actions and some of his own misinterpretations. It is very interesting and compelling to find out just what will Mead do next!
The end was quite gripping and I was unable to put it down. For me the book has some characteristics of the HBO series Six Feet Under. As well as many other books or movies that I have read or encountered in other story lines that have the main character being bullied, mistreated and misunderstood. I was reminded of Dolores in Wally Lamb's, She's Come Undone and other coming of age characters all the way back to my childhood. Even in the Beverly Clearly books.
For me the end was heartwarming, fair and VERY much a "can't put it down" story. I liked the unique quality of the plot and the easy reading that is sprinkled with humorous quirks of Mead. This book caught me on a light and easy mood making it the perfect book to read at this time.
I wish to thank Miriam from Hachette for providing this book to me. Happy Reading Everyone!!!!! It comes out today!!!
Life After Genius: My space link.
Check out others involved in the blog tour at:
Friday, October 24, 2008
Please forgive me. I couldn't stand my blog layout one more minute. If you really want to know what was bugging me, it was the lower case font on my dates and sidebar titles. I just can't deal with it. I picked this new, more subtle blog layout until something "zazzy" comes along. I am sorry if this causes anyone to "loose their way." I think, for the most part, "things" are in the same place. I kept messing with the colors trying to get a satisfying result and finally "ta-da" it came to me. And then I knew what had to change, the whole darn thing!
In my Circle of Books this weekend, I will be reading:
Life after Genius,
Little Women, (Wikipedia Link),
The Firemaster's Mistress.
Doesn't that sound like a good mixture for the mind? I have the weekend off and look forward to reading and blog hopping.
Happy Weekend Readers!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Book Part One
That is what reading Little Women, Louisa May Alcott is like. I have read to the second part of the book and I have been enchanted all the way along. The enduring strength of all of the characters is heartwarming and just more than I had expected. I don't know why I didn't read this book as a young adult. I have owned a large illustrated volume for over 20 years. I am really enjoying the book 10 times over the movie version. In the book there is a deeper bond with Beth and Mr. Lawrence than is portrayed in the movie. Each of the girls character and inner nature is described more vividly in the novel. There are handfuls of charming scenes, indoors and outdoors with all the lovely characters of the book in work and play. Just to mention a few, there are picnics by the rivers, talking birds, reading aloud from books, knitting, play acting, cooking, dancing, singing, sewing, prayers, and hugs and kisses from Marmee. It is just a darling book.
There is sorrow, sickness and war but the girls and little women in this novel press on with diligence in their every task always relying on Marmee and Hannah and their prayers. The novel lets us get closer to Laurie/Teddy a bit sooner in the story than the movie.
Movie - Current Version
It has been a holiday tradition for my daughter and I to put in the movie Little Women (current version) and decorate the Christmas Tree. I find the movie refreshing and not too "phoofey." These little woman are brave, unspoilt and very intelligent. I believe the movie to be cast extremely well. I believe that the directors/writers of the movie assume too much in the movie. Meaning they assume that the viewer has a general knowledge of the characters and natures of these girls from the novel. Since I have seen the move a dozen times before reading the book I can see the good intentions of the directors to have the actors portray certain parts and intentions of the book, but I can also see the limitations. I will note that there are several direct lines in the movie that are taken straight out of the book and which are delivered really well by the actors. And I feel it done superbly in accordance with the tone of the novel.
I am enjoying the first book and movie from my Lit Flicks challenge. I need to step it up a notch to get it done by February.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The Almost Moon - Alice Sebold
It is always such a different experience to hear a story read aloud, opposed to the experience of reading it silently and "hearing " it in your head. I have a feeling that this book has a more dramatic effect on me hearing it aloud. For me the book was shocking and raw. It it brutally honest portrayal of a woman dealing with an unmentionable act. At the very beginning of the story Helen crosses a big line in a haunting disturbing act that delivers that numbing gooey brain feeling. Yes, a kind of nauseating effect.
Joan Allen is reading this book and you really feel she is Helen and it telling "her own" story. She reads it in a way that you can feel the insides of the character. You feel her own shock, her own sorrow, and you feel her "insanity" that has been brought about through a life time of dealing with a mentally disturbed mother along with the insanity caused by the current deed and her resulting desperate actions.
The character's reaction to her deed is cold at times, panicky at times, sorrowful at times, and yet it is possible to relate to her. Joan Allen has the perfect tone to her voice as she voices the story. Alice Sebold does not let us down with electrifying passages. There are a lot of "gasp-worthy" places, and shocking climaxes that will drop your jaw.
The story dips into the past and back to the cold harsh present. This book, just like The Lovely Bones caused me a moment or two of thinking, "oh gosh, I don't think I can continue on with this." But The Almost Moon is very very enticing and intriguing. It wasn't long before I was looking forward to my commute to work to where I push the CD play button on the dash of my VW Beetle and hit the road. I also found myself sitting in the garage not going in the house after work because I wanted to hear more.
It is a very chilling story and it gives the reader motive to delve further into the story. It gives us a lot to wonder about, and there is always a lingering question in my mind, "will there be justice.?" and then "what is justice in this case?" The story at times is a paradox because Sebold keeps providing motives and "excuses for Helen's behavior while trying to make us like her when we know we CAN'T condone her actions. It is asking us whether extreme child abuse is a cause for a person to murder. Helen's post crime behavior is reckless, bizarre and doesn't always imply remorse and even shifts to making me feel that all she is thinking is "will I get caught?"
It is hard to feel sorry for Helen because her actions afterward seem so calculated, even to the point of steering the police to an innocent person. Sometimes when listening I have to ask myself if Helen has a conscience and will she be caught like any other criminal. And yet through some really horrific events in her childhood as I hear her inner child being destroyed by the abuse of her parents, I can't help but feel for this woman. But many times she is not feeling sorry, but she is feeling relief and freedom from the grips of the past.
I perceive the book to be a real page turner. I was surprised at the story. The writing is excellent and rich and translates beautifully to audio. I recommend this story for those who don't mind a little paradox and confusion and can handle a little disturbing, very well written story.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I have selected my final books for my Lit Flicks Challenge.
1. Little Women - (1/2 done) . I own the book and the newer movie, I haven't seen the older version with Kate Hepburn.
2. The Hours - ( I read this when it came out and saw the movie). It is on my top list of favorites EVER!! so I want to take time this year to re-read and re-watch. (I own the book, not the movie)
3. Wuthering Heights- I have never read the book or saw the movie. I own the book.
4. Twilight -Stephanie Meyer - I had not read the book and have been wanting to for a while and the movie is coming out so I added it to the challenge.
5. A Tale of Two Cities - I own the book, but I have never read. I have never seen the movie.
I am excited to get some of these need to read and re-read into my reading diet at the end of this year. It will be cool to start 2009 with some good classic literature checked off my list. I also have a little shopping to do.. and that is good retail therapy!!!!!
Edited 11/9/2009 - Added Twilight to my list.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This weekend I went to the Roseville Friends of the Library Book Sale.....and I all I wanna do is wiggle and shout. BOOK BARGAINS!!
$6.00.. yep SIX Dollars .. look how my library increased in a wonderful way. I actually haven't read any of these books and I am so excited to do so.
I am so happy to complete my beautiful Mayfair Witch Series by getting a nice copy of Taltos.!! And some other "hope to be favorite books."
I could have waited until Sunday... Sunday from 12 -4 was fill a brown paper bag for ONE dollar sale.. but what if my little lovelies were not there? I really couldn't take the chance! Ask me if I am a friend of the Roseville Library and I will tell you, for sure!!!
The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
Taltos, Anne Rice
Specimen Days, Michael Cunningham
Three Junes, Julia Glass
Rhett Butler's People, Donald McCaig
Our Lady of the Forest, David Guterson
Daughter of Fortune, Isabelle Allende
Please post your comments and thoughts.. (no spoilers please) on what you think I should read first....any favorites in the group? I would love to hear from you.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I finished this book on Saturday Evening. I kept putting it aside after a page or two here or there as I hadn't committed to read it completely. But when I picked up it on Saturday I read to the end until I fell asleep very satisfied. I loved this story.
It is the story of Olivia who has a non verbal learning disorder. It is the story of what a parent goes through when raising a child that has a disability. To make matters worse, Len is Olivia's father is a single parent who has suffered a devastating loss. It is all about his love and devotion to his remarkable daughter. There is another story line with a single mother Rachel, raising a preteen (Dustin) and a teen (Janie) and what she goes through in her struggles to raise her children as a single parent while running a magazine company that is not doing so well.
The book intertwines these two families in a way that helps to reveal several sub themes and leaves this book a good read for just about anyone! It is a believable, heart warming story of what seem to be real characters.
Olivia is the brave heart of the story. Her stories of rat dropping and feeding habits are quite amusing. Most of the antics of sweet, smart brave Olivia will have you cheering for her and her family through out the whole story.
I believe this would be a great book club read or a great any day read. There are a number of surprises and journeys that the family members encounter in the duration of the book. I will leave it as a surprise for everyone. I was enchantingly surprised throughout the book with the depth of the story and the characters. I hated for the story to end.
The book is published by HarperCollins.
I hope you enjoy this book.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I entered a giveaway for an ARC of "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet", by Jamie Ford and I won!! I can't wait to review this book. ****** I forgot to mention where I got the book. Check out this site.
Here is a link to the author's site:
Today is a good day. I am off to the Friends of the Library book sale! It is always a good day when book shopping.
I have several books I am reading and I can't wait to post some thoughts and reviews.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I was just thinking of days of old.... no tv, no cds, dvds, electronic games, email, computers, blogs.... nothing to do.. at night people would enjoy a reading. Can you imagine that in your life? I so wish I had that in my life. I mean I enjoy reading.. but I think it would be so cool to do this nightly with family. I am smiling (hooting actually) because I am trying to get a mental picture of me saying after dinner to the hubby, "let's enjoy a reading from Poe tonight."
Post your comments on what you think your family or friends would do if you announce after dinner that you wanted to share a spot of poetry with them. Would love to hear comments on this.
I heard from an online friend yesterday that her daughters and her learned this poem by heart and would recite it. I was very very touched by this family event. What a lovely memory they share in the event.
Yesterday her memory reminded me of my own memory. Five or so years ago in an English class I had to memorize a poem. I was attempting to memorize The Highwayman. I had great support from my kids. They were picking it up quite well. For whatever reason, I ended up doing something else and not using that poem. Even today I can mention the poem and get my 23 year old son to recall the memory and some of the lines.
So here is the poem.
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door �
Only this, and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; � vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow � sorrow for the lost Lenore �
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore �
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me � filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
" 'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door �
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; �
This it is, and nothing more."
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"� here I opened wide the door; �
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!" �
Merely this, and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore �
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; �
'Tis the wind and nothing more."
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door �
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door �
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore �
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning� little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door �
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."
But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered� not a feather then he fluttered �
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before �
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore �
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never � nevermore'."
But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore �
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite � respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! � prophet still, if bird or devil! �
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted �
On this home by horror haunted� tell me truly, I implore �
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? � tell me � tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting �
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!� quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted � nevermore!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Hello Everyone check out the Lit Flicks Challenge.
I am excited!!!!! I love movie/book classics.
I am still contemplating my list.
I am already reading Little Women, Louisa May Alcott.
Some of the possibilities include:
The Old Man and the Sea
A Tale of Two Cities.
I am not sure yet.
I am going to a library book sale this weekend. That will help determine my selection.
Monday, October 6, 2008
See my review for my thoughts on this charming book. Here are some of Jill's notes:
“Jane Austen?” said my friend “are you mad? Nobody will want to read Jane Austen at the women’s group.”
“Why ever not?” I asked, amazed by the vehemence of her reaction
‘Well she is so, so ... un-liberated—all that Mr Right stuff and women sewing shirts while men were out hunting—it is all so irrelevant and anyway we need to discuss books which are controversial—there is no controversy in Jane Austen.”
This was my first try at getting a book group to focus on my favourite author and it certainly was not going very well. To be fair, it wasn’t actually called a book group—it was called a women’s group—this was the 70s after all—but we met in each others houses, read books and discussed them so a book club in embryo perhaps?
My friend who was so opposed to Jane Austen was the group leader so I needed to ask why she thought my suggestion would be so unpopular.
“They all have the same plot—‘poor girl wins rich man after some misunderstandings’, there is no sex in them and most of us were made to read them at school- enough reasons?”
I resisted the temptation to refute her first two by reference to Emma- who is extremely rich and to the various seductions and women fallen from grace to whom I could point. I had to own though that if you had been forced to study a book—especially for an examination and almost every educated English woman had had that experience at the time, reading that author for pleasure might take some getting used to. So I resolved to resist pressing Jane on to the group immediately.
At the next meeting the book we were discussing was about whether marriage was necessary for a woman to be happy and how you could cope with a marriage which was unhappy. One member suddenly said:
“It all depends doesn’t it on whether you see yourself as Elizabeth Bennet or Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice ? — you know whether it is all about romance and dreams coming true or whether you settle for the least worst option.”
“Well,” I joined in scarcely able to believe my luck at this unexpected development in the discussion, “there are compromises and compromises—would you settle for Mr. Collins?”
Almost immediately the room was buzzing, every member trying to contribute:
“Think of the consequences in those days of not being married”
“Yes, how would you like to be dependent on your brothers?”
“But imagine Mr. Collins in the bedroom—it is too awful.”
“Far better to be single and poor or even a governess.”
“Don’t be ridiculous—governesses were slaves—think of Jane Fairfax.”
I glanced over at my friend as the heated conversations went on.
“Still think there is nothing to discuss in Jane Austen?” I said.
“You win” she said—“which book do you want to present next time?”
Since then I have heard Jane Austen discussed in endless different settings. I have seen people laugh helplessly at some of her scenes and cry uncontrollably too. I have witnessed people almost coming to blows about whether Fanny Price is a moral example to be admired or a self-righteous prig ,or about whether Emma’s attentions do more harm than good to Harriet Smith.
I suppose the commonest topic for discussion in the groups over the years is whether Jane’s writing is relevant today or a form of escapism. I have no doubt where I stand on that—I rarely pick up a Jane Austen without finding within it some dilemma which is facing me or my friends and family today, or some new historical perspective on a problem. Above all I will always find her delicious irony and her wicked humour which will enable me to cope better with what ever is worrying me at the time.
Of course the huge interest in Jane Austen and the new films and TV series which have been made of her works and about her life, have introduced many more people to the joy of her. They have added many more topics for discussion too not only well trodden one such as –
“Was she ever in love?” “Was she a feminist?” but also details of the adaptation, casting and dialogue, is the new
I am sure I am like many others in that there some portrayals I cannot bear to watch, others I could watch every week. As long as people feel the same about the adaptations, the novels themselves and above all about dear Jane, book clubs will never be short of discussion topics!
Thank you Jill!
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Three good books!! It has been fun to wrap up August/ September reading. I am in the home stretch now!
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand. (Almost done!!)
Cassandra and Jane, Jill Pitkeathley. ( Finished... see previous review)
The Snow Flower and the Fan, Lisa See. (Almost done)
Atlas Shrugged is a magnificent book. I would add it to your list of accomplishment reads if you get a chance. It is on the longest books list
It is the story of a woman. A story of contemporary civilization in the hands of a government that will soon add to the collapse of society with the exception of a few. Socialization and nationalization of everything. It is the story of a brave and smart woman who is true to her ideals and a handful of others that dare to challenge the system. Some give up the battle and seek an alternate way of life or refuge. It is a story of what happens when the government over regulates everything for the good of NOBODY!!
The book is dramatic, poetic, eloquent with very detailed writing and descriptions. It was written in 1957. The book has an eerie modern feel to it. It has scenes and parts that seem to parallel some of our governments struggles and mandates of this modern time. Most of the time while reading you do no even get the feel that you are in the past by almost 40 years.
It is a book that makes you turn page of page even after exhaustion. And just when you pause for a moment to say "where is this going?' Boy Howdy... look out.. there is another Zinger. Yep.. keep on reading.. It is worth it.
I read this for my summer read with my online book club, The Page Turners.
Another book on my night stand is called The Snow Feather and the Secret Fan. I love this book. It is so heartwarming. You will fall in love with Lily and Snow Flower and the brave Chinese women in the story. It tells the story of foot binding, bed business and the plight of being born a woman in 1828 in China. It is sorrowful and moving. It is the tale of sisterhood and best friends. Long after the book is over you will remember Lily and Snow Flower and the circumstances that befell their life long friendship.
And of course I am finished with Cassandra and Jane (see previous review).
I have begun Little Women, Louisa May Alcott for our Page Turner selection for October. So far it is simply written and a sweet and cheerful novel to begin as Fall skies enter into the Northern California area. We were blessed with rain showers over the last 24 hours and I hope we get some more. The air is clean and alive!
October / November reading should include some other fantastic books that I hope to share with you.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Cassandra and Jane, by Jill Pitkeathley is a charming book of the adult life of Jane Austen and her relationship with her older sister Cassandra. It is a historical fiction account of their lives told in the voice of Cassandra. This is the story of what "might have been." It chronicles the day to day life, friends and family of the famous author and her sister. In this book you will get to "meet" Jane's family in an intimate setting. It is not unlike the Bennett family life that is portrayed in Pride and Prejudice. We get a glimpse of how Jane's writing were indeed affected by her own family and social life.
It is a wonderful little morsel for Jane Austen enthusiasts. In this story we see the bond between the two sisters through the trials and tribulations of women in the early 1800's. In Cassandra and Jane we get to see the production and time line of the writings for Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northhanger Abbey.
I recommend reading this book to all who love "Jane stuff" and anyone who has ever had a sister. The ending of the book is so heartwarming and moving and it portrays both women to have strong hearts and a fierce, loyal love for one another.
I was pleased to review this book for Harper Collins.
Note: I want to note there is a lovely little section from the author at the end of the book along with historical facts of Jane Austen. I wanted to say that this would be a great book to introduce someone to the world of Jane Austen.