Friday, September 28, 2012

Bloggiesta, Day(s) 1(-3) - What Am I Doing?

It's Bloggiesta time!  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, head to It's All About Books or There's a Book for more info.  Essentially, it's three days dedicated to improving your blog in whatever way you want!  And there are so many ways I want.  I technically haven't started my improvements yet, as I'm busy at work.  But, I might have a moment or two here and there today to get started.  Here is my super-ambitious-as-always list of stuff I'm working on. I'll update this page if I do manage to accomplish something.

-Write reviews and do more review prep (links, images, summaries, etc)
 Finished seven reviews and a handful of mini reviews!!!
-Make some scheduled posts
-Revive Listless Monday and Name That Book
-(Think about) changing the blasted header (I always say this and never do it)
-Figure out how to fit all my Pages links up there (oy, not a fan right now)
-Make sure reviews have correct labels
-Make a mini review button?
-Work on a week-long celebration of classics and their retellings (maybe?)
-Work on new Classic Double badges (I hate that hamburger)
-Update Classic Double list and fairy tale lists (Check them out - offer suggestions!)
-Update goodreads
-Do a million mini-challenges (they all look so good!) (well, I did Jenni Elyse'sHannah's, and Jessica's)

What are your goals?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review: Feedback by Robison Wells

Feedback by Robison Wells
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: October 2012
Pages: 320
Source: ARC from publisher
For: Review
Series: Variant, Book 2

*Spoilers unavoidable for the first book, Variant*
Benson and Becky have only just escaped from Maxfield Academy.  But they can't seem to escape from its influence.  Now they are caught in a small town, unable to run for help or escape from the cruel adults running the Academy, who have total control over all the people in town.  Can they find a way to break everyone free?

Things I Liked:
This book hits the ground running and doesn't stop.  Picking up right where the first book left off, we are pounded by surprises and action and crazy plot twists.  I felt like my head was spinning sometimes with all the stuff going on.  In addition, Wells manages to pack in some thoughtful tidbits about motivations and what are the most important things to us when in a difficult situation.  Definitely a book that will keep you guessing and reading to figure out just what is going on.

Things I Didn't Like:
I had a hard time connecting with Benson again - especially when it related to his romantic decisions.  I was just confused by his choices and what he said and did.  Perhaps that's because he's a guy and I just don't get it, but it seemed like he did dumb things and there was no reason.  Also, the ending left me a bit disappointed.  There was a LOT of build-up and tension and then it just kind of abruptly ends.  I'm kind of wondering if there will be a bit more in the final version, as I read an ARC.  Not as jaw-dropping as that first book, but still an exciting sequel.

Start with Variant by Robinson Wells
The Maze Runner series by James Dashner
False Memory by Dan Krokos

s-factor: !
a few

mrg-factor: none
just kissing

v-factor: ->->->
quite a bit, some of it made me rather squeamish

Overall rating: ****

Any favorite twisty plot or surprise ending books?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Unfinished Series

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is our top ten unfinished series.  I decided to include three types of unfinished series: the gave-up, the procrastination, and the not-yet-released. 

Gave up:
He's So/She's So trilogy by Kieran Scott
After the second one I just can't bring myself to continue reading this super gossipy, soap opera story.  I kind of lost interest in the characters too.

Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick
I made it to book three before I gave up.  I should have stopped at the first one, probably, but number two wasn't as bad as I expected.  But the repetitive nature of book three and the romance just tipped this one into the realm of forever-unfinished.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
I quite enjoyed those first three books, but I got really sick of the fourth one and just couldn't bring myself to continue reading about Clary and Jace's forever back and forth and then dealing with the same issues as before.  Should have ended after three.

Curseworkers series by Holly Black
I truly enjoyed the first two books, even have the third one on my shelf.  Why haven't I picked it up?

Demon's Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan
Same story as above.  And yes, I have the book on my shelf - perhaps that's the problem?

Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater

Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox
I actually don't have the book for this one waiting for me, but what's even worse is it's only two books!  And the second one earned a Printz honor.  What's wrong with me?

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
I fully intended to read these ones, since I didn't have them as a kid.  I picked up the first two and thought them lovely, but haven't been back since.

Not yet released:
Matched series by Ally Condie
Can't wait!

Divergent series by Veronica Roth
Along with everyone else.

What series have you not finished and why not?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Lord of the Rings Tribute

Since today is Hobbit Day, the 75th anniversary for The Hobbit being published, (and a Happy Birthday to Frodo and Bilbo), and the Hobbit movie coming soon, I thought I'd share a bit of myself.  I happen to be a Lord of the Rings fan.  Just a bit.  Ok, I had an obsession for a while.  I'm pretty sedate now, I think.  (Just wanted to note that I was a fan of the books way before the movies came out.  They just seemed to fuel my obsession.  Carry on.)

Here I am at perhaps the height of my obsession:
 Dressed as Galadriel (note the pointy ears - that was fun) and with a friend I convinced to go as Arwen.  It was for Halloween, I promise.

The next year, I went as Eowyn, my favorite, though I look about the same as last year.  Minus the pointy ears (and the smile).  Too bad you can't see all the details of the dress, cause it was pretty awesome.
In my defense, a friend of mine got the Legolas stand up for me.  I would never have been brave enough to get it myself.  Which isn't to say I didn't enjoy it, obviously :)

Um, some  more Halloween fun.  It looked pretty good with a candle in it.  So good that someone stole it.  I was a bit upset about that.

My family might have noticed my obsession and got me a LOTR cake one year.  It was pretty great.

Here I am devouring a Hobbit hole :)

My mom, who is fabulous as sewing, helped me make this.  Personally, I think it's beautiful, but I may be biased.  I designed and cut out all the elements (borrowing from the designs in the movies and Tolkien's own work). 

My favorite part is the stitching around the edges (which you can't really see here).  It's the "One ring to rule them all..." verse in elvish script.  Oh, the geekery blows my mind.

And of course I have a shelf dedicated to Tolkien.  I'm seriously lacking in beautiful editions of his published works, though.  I need to get on that.

And a bit of art on the walls.

In the library, of course.

And with that embarrassment out of the way, were you ever obsessed with a series/book/movie to this degree?  (Please say yes.)

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, September 21, 2012

Retro Friday Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Retro Friday is a meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Publisher: Various (AudioGO for my audio version)
Publication date: Originally serialized from 1859-1860
Length: 24 hours, 41 min
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: Fun!

When Walter Hartwright sees a woman all in white alone late one night, he is understandably surprised. Little does he suspect that she will play an important role in his new life as drawing master for two young ladies, Laura and Marian. Woven through all of their lives is this mysterious woman, a figure who may just be the key to saving Laura from her unfortunate marriage with Sir Percival Glyde.

Things I Liked:
I am once again reminded why classic books are considered, well, classic.  I'm rather ashamed that it's taken me so long to read a Wilkie Collins book!  This was fantastic; it was complex and surprising and had remarkably few of those boring side stories and descriptions of countryside that seem to plague classics.  I love how carefully the tension builds and especially how much you feel afraid for the main characters without knowing exactly why.  That feeling builds at just the right pace and we are sufficiently unprepared for the twists and turns it takes (at least I was).  I think Count Fosco is one of the most interesting characters I've ever read; a villain who is complex, not 100% evil, well developed, and just so subtle you almost doubt his villiany.  A great story with interesting characters and a crazy plot (seriously, so good).  Ian Holm is the narrator, and while not the best at varying the voices, did a great job of expressing the emotions each character was feeling.  I truly felt like he had a grasp on each person, even if sometimes the pitch or tone of voice didn't seem like it (sometimes the women were just annoying).  Still, I was entranced.  Such a fabulous book!

Things I Didn't Like:
I would normally say it was too long, but I honestly just really enjoyed listening to this audiobook.  I really didn't want it to end.  I'm definitely going to listen to more classics on audio, provided there is a good narrator.

It felt pretty Dickens-like in its complicated story

s-factor: !
a few mild ones here and there

mrg-factor: none
some implied stuff, but never discussed

v-factor: ->
not violence, necessarily, but there's definitely some intense stuff

Overall rating:*****

Suggestions for other Wilkie Collins (or similar authors) I should read?  Any great classic audiobooks?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken: The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: September 2012
Pages: 384
Source: e-book from NetGalley
For: Review
Series: The Lynburn Legacy, Book 1

Kami's been hearing a voice in her head ever since she can remember. Jared has never been more than that. Until he is. When he shows up, terrifyingly real, Kami doesn't know how to act around him. But she's got other things on her mind, like the small town secrets and mysteries she's determined to solve and the fact that someone might be out to get her.

Things I Liked:
I think I've seen about a hundred reviews of this book recently, so I'm tossing mine into the mix for whoever might read it.  This book felt so different from all the other paranormal fare I've read.  But it also had all the good elements of paranormal romance!  I have to admit my absolute favorite part is the sarcastic wit and quick humor of the conversations Kami has with just about everyone.  I love her dad, that he's a normal dad and that he also has such a great relationship with his kids.  The interactions between Kami and Jared, which make up such a huge part, were conflicting for me.  Their reluctance to touch one another and to be entirely freaked out by the other's reality at first struck me as really weird.  But, in thinking about it further, I can see how it would be a natural reaction.  I love how clearly Kami made it that they were not romantically involved, but that it was still more than friendship.  There are so many different ways people can have relationships that I was glad to see something different here.  It was smart and funny and also Gothically horrifying and disturbing.  I was both surprised and relieved at the ending, though it did kind of break my heart.  Different, so very different.

Things I Didn't Like:
I hated Jared, pretty much.  I can see how Kami would defend him, since she knew his intentions and inner thoughts very clearly, but he was such a jerk.  The ending didn't help my dislike of him.  But, I also really didn't like Ash either.  I have to admit there were a number of times I got really lost when the magic and paranormal activities going on were explained.  It wasn't clear, it was confusing.  Maybe I wasn't reading carefully enough, but I felt rather lost in trying to understand it.  Still, not enough to detract from my sheer enjoyment of the book.

Daphne Du Maurier
Nancy Drew
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

s-factor: !
a few, not too many

mrg-factor: none
kissing and such, nothing further

v-factor: ->
a few rather disturbing scenes

Overall rating: ****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review: Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication date: October 2012
Pages: 304
Source: ARC from publisher
For: Review
Series: Companion to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Rendi has run far from his home, to the remote Village of Clear Sky. Every night, he hears the sky wailing for the moon, which has gone missing. When a mysterious woman comes to the village, her stories will help Rendi more than he realizes - they might even help him figure out where the moon went.

Things I Liked:
This is a quiet book, an unassuming book.  I love the simple stories of simple people.  I love the stories within a story (those always intrigue me) and I love how neatly folk tales are woven into the fabric of the people's livesrev.  The book has a lot of little lessons that can be learned, but it's also entertaining and beautifully written.  It's not as flashy as some MG books are, but I like it better for that.  And I can't wait to see the full color illustrations (the ARC has some B/W ones, but most are not there at all), because even these unfinished sketches were absolutely astounding.  I think this would make a fabulous read-aloud for younger grades.

Things I Didn't Like:
As I mentioned, not an exciting action-packed book.  A soft, slow, sweet story that will make you think.  The message is a bit obvious, but it isn't so bad that kids will be turned off.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

What's your favorite folk lore tale?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, September 17, 2012


I've been watching this challenge pop up every fall for the last four years I've been blogging.  And I finally decided to join in for my very first R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event (hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings)!  I'm hoping this will inspire me to read those two or three spooky books that are always so hard for me to pick up (ie: I'm a wuss).

So, I'm trying for Peril the Second, which means I try to read two books that fit in these categories:

Dark Fantasy.
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

These are my two, with a possible third for good measure.

Feedback by Robison Wells - finished!
Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

Are you participating?  What are you reading that's a bit creepy?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, September 14, 2012

BBAW Day 5: Goodbye For Now

Today's BBAW topic is the last for this year: what did you get from this week?  Today's post is going to be the shortest one yet.  What can I say?  It's Friday.  It's been a great week and I've really got three things I've learned from this year's celebration:

1. The book blogging world is enormous and while it can be super overwhelming at times (how will I ever get to know anyone), I can start by just visiting a new blog or two.

2. There are so many great books that I will never get a chance to read.  It's ok.  But that doesn't mean I can't try :)

3.  Book blogging is still fun!  Keep doing it.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my blog this week and for all the new blog friends (and books) I've been introduced to.  Special thanks to Amy, for putting in the work to make BBAW happen again this year.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, September 13, 2012

BBAW Day 4: Overlooked Books

Today's BBAW topic is showing off our favorite overlooked books.  Since I couldn't bring myself to only showcase one book I loved that deserves more attention, I went for an even ten.  Consider this a little bonus Top Ten Tuesday.  Each of these books holds a special place in my heart (oh, the cheese - but it's true), so I urge you to give ate least one of these a shot sometime.

MG Fantasy (sometimes all MG fantasy seems woefully overlooked)
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby 
Well-plotted and totally atmospheric story that will leave you shivering (no, really, it's very cold-inducing).

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
Deliciously complex with a setting so vivid you'll feel like you dropped into a volcano.

The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel
Beautifully written with complicated characters and enough action to satisfy any.

Dreamdark books by Laini Taylor
Yes, that Laini Taylor - her Dreamdark books are just as well-written with a faerie world so real you'll weep when you return to ours.

Thornspell by Helen Lowe
A gorgeous, complex retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a fabulously real magic system.

YA fantasy/sci-fi
Plain Kate by Erin Bow
A dark fairy-tale-like story full of vivid details and atmosphere.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
One of those stories and characters (Matt) that just stays with you...for years afterward.  

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
A fairy tale retelling that made me like the Rumpelstiltskin story and love the miller's daughter.

YA realistic fiction 
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
A story that came at just the right time for me - with a message that's stuck with me since.

Overlooked classic
Precious Bane by Mary Webb
Another book that came at just the right time and has stuck with me for nearly 10 years. 

What books are you touting today? 

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
Publisher: Random House (Knopf)
Publication date: September 2012
Pages: 416
Source: ARC from ALA
For: Review
Series: Shadowfell, Book 1

Neryn must keep her gift hidden at all costs. The king has forbidden magic of any kind, except for his own purposes, and Neryn does not want to draw his attention. As she travels the length of her country, in search of a place that may not even exist, she must rely on the Good Folk to help her find her way. And a mysterious stranger, Flint, who seems interested in helping her remain safe.

Things I Liked:
Whenever I pick up an Irish/Celtic/Scottish/Welsh inspired story, I remember just how much I LOVE them.  Seriously, I'm such a sucker for them that I can't believe I don't know more about the cultures and history (hangs head in shame).  This is one reason why every Marillier story I can get my hands on, I devour.  She does beautiful historical fantasy stories with Scottish (or Irish) inspiration; you can't help but be swept away.  The story grabs your attention from the start, but I truly love the way Scottish words/accents and the Good Folk are completely integrated into the story.  You honestly can't help but imagine this is a true historical account, right down to the stanie mon and brollachan and pookie.  I became so engrossed in the story that I'd sometimes end up using random phrases from the stories (with my terrible Scottish accent and pronunciation) when talking to people.  It made for some fun times, I assure you.  The romance in this one was understated and took a back seat to Neryn's journey.  Flint was just so...fascinating; he began as such a mysterious person, but near the end I really began to understand and admire him.  Great stuff, Ms. Marillier, but I wouldn't expect anything less.

Things I Didn't Like:
After I finished, I looked back at Neryn and some of the things she does and began to think she was pretty saccharine.  I think she pales a bit in comparison to her other heroines (ok, I'm thinking of her Sevenwaters series) because some of them are just so amazing.  The same goes for the story (it drags a bit in the middle) and other minor characters, but honestly these were little things for me.  Hopefully this can serve as a gateway book for her other works.

Reminded me of Marillier's other books like Heart's Blood, Wildwood Dancing, and Daughter of the Forest
Also, hello The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
some, generally not graphic

Overall rating: ****

For more Marillier adoration, check out Book Harbinger's Seven Days of Sevenwaters celebration.  Also, if you haven't read anything of hers, get on it!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

BBAW Day 3: The Meaning of Book Blogging

I've read a number of interesting posts about what book blogging means to bloggers.  Honestly, I'm struggling to come up with something that hasn't already been said, let alone said well.  Alas, this is my constant struggle in book blogging. :)  But, here is a short list of what book blogging means to me:

Book Blogging...
  • gives me a chance to ramble on about books I loved or talk about why I didn't love them
  • gives me a platform where other people can agree or disagree with those ramblings
  • adds ridiculous amounts of books to my already ridiculous pile of TBR
  • keeps me up-to-date (and way before publication date) on what new books are coming out
  • brings me in contact with hundreds of like-minded crazy-readers every day
  • provides a vast array of opinions on books I've read, books I haven't, and a huge number of other bookish topics
  • induces me to pick up hundreds of books I'd never have chosen on my own
  • provides a seemingly limitless number of online activities (from memes to read-a-thons to blog celebrations to read-alongs to bloggiestas...you get the point) that feed my need for book parties
  • allows me to interact with wonderful, amazing, thoughtful, and smart people I'd never get a chance to meet otherwise 

So, which of these do you agree with?  And what would you add?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BBAW Day 2: Interview with Carrie of Books and Movies

Today I get the privilege of introducing you to Carrie of Books and Movies.  I love being able to get to know a new-to-me blogger better with fun and interesting questions.  So, here we go:

How long have you been blogging and how has your blog changed (or how have you changed) over time?
I've been blogging for seven years, but have been book blogging for the past three. I started out as a mommy blogger, mostly writing about our homeschooling adventures. After a few years, I realized that I was writing more about books, and reading more book blogs than homeschooling ones. In 2009, I started Books and Movies, and haven't looked back. I very rarely post on my homeschooling blog anymore, and now consider myself a book blogger.

What kind of book (or movie) is your go-to favorite?  Any specific genre or type of story?
Ooo, tough question! When I'm in need of comfort, I reread my favorites: Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter, Wendell Berry, Leon Uris. When I'm going for a new read and I want something to completely drag me into the story, I go for YA fiction - usually dystopian. I also adore crime fiction and historical fiction.

It sounds like you have a pretty busy schedule, so how do you balance your time between kids (and homeschooling!), family, other obligations, and reading/blogging?
It isn't easy! I sneak reading and blogging time into the little pieces of time that happen throughout the day. I do a lot of my reading via audiobook, so that I can listen while doing dishes, laundry, driving the kids around to activities, etc. It also helps that I read quickly. As for blogging, I try to get a bunch of posts written whenever I have a free weekend. That way there are posts going up during the times when I'm too busy to read.

Tell us about the reading challenges you host?
A few years ago, I started hosting the Essay Reading Challenge, simply because I love reading essays and I think they are a misunderstood genre. The next year, I added the Ireland Reading Challenge. My heritage is Irish, so this was a no-brainer, and has become my most popular reading challenge. I have continued to host these every year, and a lot of terrific bloggers join me for the challenges. Last year, I hosted the Wendell Berry reading challenge, because he is a favorite author of mine, and I wanted more bloggers to experience his brilliance. Hosting the challenge had the added benefit of prompting me to read more of his work, and so the idea of the Graham Greene Challenge, which I am hosting this year, was born. I'm not sure if I'll do an author challenge next year or not - I'm toying with some ideas.

If you could be any character in any book (or movie) who would you be and why?
I would be Anne Elliot in Persuasion so that I could fall in love with Captain Wenworth, for the second time. :)

What one (or two or three) books have had the greatest impact in your life?
The Bible, because I am a Christian; Trinity by Leon Uris, because it taught me about the history of my ancestral homeland; and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, because it helped me understand what my father experienced when he served in Vietnam.

Tell us something about yourself that most of your blog-readers wouldn't know?
I'm pretty much an open book, so I can't really think of anything! Let's see....I once had a short story published in a very small press magazine. Shortly after that, it went out of print. I don't think the two events were related. :)

Thanks so much for answering my questions, Carrie!  Doesn't she sound like such an interesting person?  Be sure to check out her blog, her facebook page, and twitter.

For more interviews, check out the BBAW page!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, September 10, 2012

BBAW Day 1: Appreciate These Blogs

I love a lot of blogs.  I don't always let those bloggers know, through commenting or visiting enough, but here is a sampling of those blogs and bloggers who I can't seem to do without (and you'll see some of these mentioned in my interview tomorrow, sorry for the repeat):

I love reading Suey's blog, It's All About Books for her eclectic taste and unique voice;

Small Review always can convince me to pick up a book with her very persuasive reviews;

Susan at Bloggin' 'bout Books has eerily similar tastes to my own and tells it like she feels it;

Jenny at Alternate Readality gives uncensored and bluntly honest reviews;

Charlotte of Charlotte's Library keeps me up-to-date on my sci-fi and fantasy MG reads;

Stacked by Kimberly, Kelly, and Jen, who always have thoughtful discussions and in-depth reviews;

Kathy at Read This Instead has a unique and interesting reviewing style;

Emily (and Kylie and Andy) at Emily's Reading Room for their heartfelt, accessible, and thoughtful reviews; 

Enna of Squeaky Books who has fun reviews and lots of exciting contests, including her fabulous birthday bash;

Bonnie of A Backwards Story, who has the best collection of fairy tale reviews and celebrations of anyone I know;

Danielle of There's a Book who spotlights so many fabulous picture and MG books that I know I'll live on her site when I have kids.

Hopefully I've given you a few new sites to check out.  I'd love to know about a few of your favorites.

To find many, many more blogs, check out all the posts at the BBAW site.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, September 7, 2012

Retro Friday Review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Retro Friday is a meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Publisher: Various
Publication date: 1948
Pages: 343 (though it varies, obviously)
Source: Library
For: Fun!

Cassandra Mortmain's family is unusual, to say the least. They live in a tumble-down castle with little to no income. Her father, a writer with serious writer's block, and stepmother, a former painter's model, are unable even to pay the rent. But when the wealthy Cottons who own their castle come back home, Cassandra's sister Rose is determined to marry one of them and bring wealth to the family. And Cassandra is determined to capture all her family's mayhem in her journal.

Things I Liked:
Despite having a slow beginning, I truly fell in love with Cassandra.  About half-way through, I turned to the cover of my library copy and checked that the book was not non-fiction.  Cassandra felt so real to me that I began to think it was a memoir or an actual diary.  Her style of writing and especially how none of the story elements are neat and complete just made the whole thing so real.  I loved the stories - oh how fun to see her family through Cassandra's eyes: the eccentric father and the dramatic stepmother and Rose, who I don't think I ever figured out.  But Cassandra was the star of it all.  I truly enjoyed reading this book.

Things I Didn't Like:
It is a touch embarrassing to admit that I was kind of hoping for a neat and complete ending.  I rather wanted my Pride and Prejudice story where everything works out in the end.  I think that's often why I like some books, but why other books are more memorable.  The ones with neat endings feel satisfying and the ones without stay with you longer.  Also, sometimes I got bored.  Still, I really liked it.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Flavia de Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley (a bit)
Keeping The Castle by Patrice Kindl

s-factor: !
some mild ones occasionally

mrg-factor: X
nothing on page, just a bit of implied stuff

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

Anybody seen the film of this book?  Is it worth watching?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reading Clean Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Reading Clean Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, Clean Teen Fiction & One Librarian's Book Reviews (um, that's me :).

This hop runs from September 6th to 12th. 

My Giveaway:
Pick two books from the stack of delicious MG reads.  My apologies for the lousy photo, the books are:

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
Ivy and the Meanstalk by Dawn Lairamore
Fortune's Folly by Deva Fagan

All you have to do to enter is fill out the form, US addresses only.  You have until September 12th to enter.  Thanks for hopping through!  Be sure to check out the other giveaways going on for the Reading Clean hop below.
*Contest Closed - winner emailed.*
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Book Review: Because it is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Macmillan
Publication date: September 2012
Pages: 368
Source: ARC from ALA
For: Review
Series: Birthright, Book 2

*Spoilers possible for the first book*
Anya Balanchine just spent the summer in Liberty Children's Facility and is determined not to get tangled up in the family business. But she just can't get away from it, especially when she can't get back into school because of her past. When she ends up somewhere far from home, Anya begins to learn there's more to this illegal chocolate life than she ever knew.

Things I Liked:
I really love this series.  There's something so enticing about illegal chocolate, a mob daughter falling for a cop's son and all the futuristic details.  I really love the characters, though, particularly Anya.  She is very complicated, very human in her feelings.  Her life is anything but normal and she tries to cope with the problems sometimes in very stupid, very teenage ways.  I think one thing I especially enjoyed was just how unpredictable this one was for me.  I really wasn't sure what Anya would do and where she would end up.  I had some ideas about where she end up, but they didn't always happen.  Things are never easy for Anya and I like that Zevin doesn't mind giving her hard decisions and watching the consequences pan out.  I was entertained from beginning to end and once again, I'm interested to see what happens next.

Things I Didn't Like:
I was occasionally bored when the action would hit a lull and it became more about what Anya was feeling, though that was sometimes interesting too.  I know there are flaws to this book, but I just really enjoyed reading it and thus didn't care. :)

Start with All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Reminds me a little of the Curse Workers series by Holly Black
Heist Society series by Ally Carter

s-factor: !@
here and there, scattered

mrg-factor: XX
talked about, kind of implied, but no page action

v-factor: ->->
a couple of violent instances, some a little gory

Overall rating: ****

What appeals to you about this series, or what makes you not like it?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Classic Double Challenge: September

Can you believe it's September already?  I'm a little sad to leave the summer behind, though I could really use some autumn-like weather about now (or anything less than 100 degrees, really).  Only a few months left of the Classic Double Challenge and I'm only about half-way through!  How are all of you coming along?  I'm finding this challenge a lot more of a...well, challenge, than I expected.  Still, I'm liking it and pretty sure I'll bring it back next year.  The monthly winner is: ElaineReads!!

Hopefully we can all buckle down and get some of those books read that we've been meaning to.  I've got to get my hands on a Little Women or Jane Eyre retelling.  Or maybe I'll pick up something totally different.  Gotta keep my options open. :)

What are you working on (or hope to be working on) this month?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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