Posts Tagged With: reading

Book Review: Golden Earrings – 5/5

Golden Earrings by Belinda Alexandra


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, this book.

Do you ever read a historical fiction and think, “This must have happened.” It was so expertly woven, the truth and tales of the times intermingled with the fiction so beautifully I thought it had to be true. The richness of the story, though certainly not all uplifting, felt like something that just had to have happened. Of course, I realize that’s not the case, but I don’t think I’ll be able to ever think about the Spanish Civil War without imagining La Rusa’s impact.

I adored this (audio) book. It’s a historical fiction that reads like a mystery. I knew the instant I picked this up it would be a winner of my heart: Spain, flamenco, and ballet? It’s like Alexandra knew what draws me to a story and decide to put it all into one place – beautifully at that. If you don’t already have a soft spot for any of those items, you’ll be hard pressed to walk away from this tale without one.

What more is there to say? Paloma, Evelina, Celestina – Golden Earrings is a tale of strong women who are impacted by a terrible war. It’s a story about how people react when their lives are altered by others’ choices. It’s not a story about making all the right decisions. Each and every one of the characters in this novel make mistakes – very large mistakes – that send waves of impacts down the line for years. But mistakes don’t make a person, and Alexandra’s weaving of the characters shows that mistakes can be made by good people, but that good people aren’t immune to hard choices.

This is a little known novel that needs some serious love. It’s incredibly via audio book and I’m sure just as good on paper. Highly recommend,and I will definitely be picking up more of Alexandra in the future.

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2013 End of the Year Book Survey

The Perpetual Page-Turner‘s 4th annual End Of The Year Book Survey

Jamie, a wonderful person and amazing book blogger, has posted a survey for the end of the year.  Once I saw it I immediately started making my list.  I can’t help it – I freaking love filling out surveys!

Seriously, though, if you’ve never checked out her blog, you have to.  She puts my blog to shame.

This year I read 70 books – here are some of my selections!

1) Best Book You Read In 2013?

This, of course, is a really hard question to answer.  I want to cheat and put down a couple but I’m going to get my focus together and make a commitment. Drum roll please….!


This book just gave me so many FEELS.  It touched me, it fascinated me, and it made me really believe in the idea of traveling (not that I didn’t before) for the sake of meeting people but also for meeting myself.  Tahir Shah is a man who really understands the written word and it humbles and excites me all at the same time.  Not to forget just how beautiful the stories in this book are as well.

2) Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

This one was much easier to choose.


Man. I took me forever to commit to this book.  I had heard such good things but it’s so LONG that I never felt like I had time to read it. So when Eric and I went on a 40 hour road trip we thought this would be perfect.  But the end of the trip it was torture.  This book is just so long winded!  It could be half the length.  Even though the story is good and the writing is interesting the length just ruined it.  So disappointing.

3) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 


I know very few people have read this, will want to read this, or will ever read this, but it’s the best answer for this survey.  This book is about a bombing that happened on the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus back in the ’70s. I had this book on my life forever but never got around to reading it.  When I finally got it from the local library I almost choked – it is over 400 pages long!  Dullsville, I assumed.  I still checked it out, however, thinking I would just skim the interesting parts and return it.  I didn’t though. I ended up finding it fascinating and learned so much about the school I call home.  I found myself talking about it and recommending it.  It totally surprised me!

4) Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?


It’s hard to say, because I recommended quite a few, but I think this was the most likely.  I loved this book and I think it’s one of those books that I lot of people could like.  It’s fascinating because of its truth but it’s also just an incredible story.  As a memoir buff I realize that not everyone gets the same kick I do when truth-sounds-like-fiction but I think the popularity of this book shows that the author really did it right.

5)  Best series you discovered in 2013?


Hands down.  I put off reading this forever because it was so daunting.  Not only are the books long in of themselves but the series is long – and still going!  I didn’t want to make a commitment to something that would take up so many hours of my life.  But I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve been power-reading these books on audible and I don’t often do the one-after-another read when it comes to series. I have had one of these books in my currently reading list for the majority of the year and I’m not even close to being sick of Davina Porter’s voice.  Love it!

6) Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?


Okay, so I’ve only read one book by her so it’s hard to call her a favorite author for the year but I really loved I’ve Got Your Number.  It was so damn FUN!  You can just tell she’s good and she really gets the whole chick-lit scene. I would love to be able to write books like her and I fully intend to make my way through others by her.

7) Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?


This was out of my comfort zone for a couple reasons – one being, as you can see, it was written in Spanish.  My Spanish is pretty competent but I still read with a dictionary and it takes some time.  Pair that with it being a mystery and my first Agatha Christie novel this was definitely not a typical read for me.  I loved it though and will definitely be getting more of Christie’s books under my belt- probably in English next, though. 🙂

8) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?


There a lot of books that I power-read but “thrilling” is an entirely different category.  Gone Girl is pretty dense and I still ate it up.  In the end it didn’t hold as being a favorite book of mine but it still did the trick in the moment.

9) Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


I’m not the kind of person that re-reads books very often.  Even my favorite book of all time, The Catcher In The Rye I’ve only read two or three times.  Caravan was a re-read for me this year, actually, and I freaking loved in.  Gilman is a master writer and Caravan is a story of such twists and such a strong protagonist.  I love it and will likely read it again, if not next year, sometime in the next couple years.

10) Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?


It’s just cool.  I like covers that not only are pleasing to the eye but also tell you a little about a story – Cinder’s cover is just perfect.  You know it’s a Cinderella re-telling but you also know it’s totally different but any other retelling you’ve heard!

11) Most memorable character in 2013? 


The Darkling (Shadow and Bone)

I don’t want to say much since The Darkling’s character is, in of itself, a kind of spoiler.  Let me just say that I loved how dynamic The Darkling is – I also love how he has no name.  It’s kudos to the author that this character kept me guessing.  As a reader I definitely find him arousing and terrifying all at once.

12) Most beautifully written book read in 2013?


This book was just really well done, such an interesting story and when it got exciting it got really  exciting.  I love when you’re reading a book and you can just take a deep breath and think, “This.  This is a book of beauty.”  This is one of those.

13) Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 


Somaly Mam – she knows how to tell you like it is.  Because I really like to read memoirs I think I already knew more about the sex trade than a lot of people in the U.S. do and this still shocked me. Maybe what shocked me even more is how Mam has survived.  This is a book that people can’t read without feeling it’s impact, I believe.

14) Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 


I’m very much a read-such-and-such-book-before-you-die kind of person. When I hear from the masses that something is good or a classic, I tend to pick it up.  As much as I disdain the public opinion sometimes I still can’t withstand the curiosity of picking up a well-known book.  I picked up Slaughterhouse Five probably 10 years ago, read a few pages, got confused, put it down, and never picked it up again.  I finally got around to reading it here.  I was no less confused, but I definitely appreciated it more.

15) Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?


“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” – Tina Fey, Bossypants

16) Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013? 

christmas finebalance

All I want for Christmas was just a fun little novella.  A Fine Balance was polar opposite of that.  A Fine Balance was truly a wonderful book that I would never wish upon anyone. (Don’t think too hard about that. Just trust me.)

17) Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!


This is the fourth book in the Outlander series.  My husband is reading all the Outlander books after me, but he’s one book behind.  Something happened in this book that I was positive couldn’t happen and I almost exploded for wanting to talk about it.  But, of course, he’s not to this part yet so I am STILL waiting!

18) Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)


Jamie and Claire from Outlander

I know, Diana Gabaldon is taking over this survey but Jamie and Claire are the reason why those books are what they are. Seriously, so good.  It’s so believable and real and for one of the first times in a series I can see a parallel between my relationship with my husband and the characters.  No, Eric is not a 7 foot tall Scotsman, but I do really love him.

19) Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


I’ve actually read a lot of new authors this year so this is a bit hard.  That being said, Lola and the Boy Next Door is just adorable and I had loved Stephanie Perkin’s Anna and the French Kiss too.  I’m excited to get my hands on Isla, too!

20) Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:


I never in a million years would have picked up this book (okay, that’s not true, but I doubt it would have crossed my path).  But I kept seeing it pop up on my GoodReads feed from friends and decided to give it a true.  I’m so glad I did!  This book is heartbreakingly beautiful.

21) Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?


Young Adult

I think I’ve read more Young Adult this year than I have since I was a young adult.  One of the reasons is because there are so many new young adults out there and a lot that have excellent ratings. The other was that I decided to write young adult for my NaNo novel this year and I wanted to do some “research” 🙂

22) Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?



Let’s face it – Four is a lovely brooder.  When it comes to real like I love it when men are sweet and cuddly.  But when it comes to a novel I’m more than happy to find someone who is totally scary.

23) Best 2013 debut you read?


This book is so good.  She’s balls to the wall about how she talks about her experience, which is so brave.  I know that Lundhout had a co-author as well but I’ll still give her a lot of credit for telling us so much about her incredible ordeal.

24) Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

night circus

It’s not very often that I am excited for a book to be made into a movie – normally I’m pretty nervous about it.  This book, though, is going to be an incredible movie.  The writing is so vivid and there are so many wonderful things happening.  It’ll look great with real visuals.

25) Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?


I cracked up over this book.  Giddy, maniacal laughter in public, the lot of it.  It was just a blast to read.  Literary books that are all deep and stuff are good, too, but this stuff is just awesome.

26) Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?


This is a book about kids with cancer and I don’t have a heart made of stone.  ‘Nuff said.

27) Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?


Can’t help it – this book has always  been overlooked.  It is SO good.  All must read!

28) One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?


I know that Angelfall is popular in its own right but I never really hear much about it. I feel like I’m getting ahead of the bandwagon curve which is a pretty new location for me and I’m excited to stay there.  Angelfall left off in such an interesting spot, I am so curious to see what Ee does next!

29) Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?


It feels like so long since I’ve read Scarlet!  I love Meyer not only for her books but for being a NaNoWriMo author.  So curious to learn about the next step in this series!

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reviewing a Classic: Slaughterhouse-Five – 4 out of 5

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Goodness me, the clock has struck-
Alackday, and fuck my luck.”

Tell you the truth, I don’t really get satire. Never have. Candide? Hated it. I just didn’t find it funny. I didn’t really find Slaughterhouse-Five funny either – except for the quote above. I did a great big make-people-look-at-you-on-the-train kind of guffaw laugh at that quote. And then I continued reading to find that Billy Pilgrim did the same thing before they trucked him off to the hospital.

So… somewhere in here I’m clearly not getting it.

That aside, I still liked it. I tried reading this book maybe seven or eight years ago and was completely lost. I expected a story – that’s not what this is. On my second attempt it made sense in that I knew it wasn’t supposed to make sense.

The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes you need to just read something and it’ll absorb into you. Your brain will try to decipher it like your high school English teacher but it’s really your body that you’re reading with. That’s this book. Vonnegut’s writing reminded me of Salinger, but it didn’t quite hit me with instant love.

There’s a reason why this book is one that’s so popular. I just can’t tell you what that reason is.

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Book Review: A House in the Sky – 5 out of 5

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s a reason why this book is so popular – Lindhout’s courage to tell her story is something people should pay attention to. Few who go through her distress live, and even fewer are willing to open their experience to the world. It can’t have been easy but I’m really glad Lindhout did. This is an excellent book which, for it’s length, depth, and emotions ties I read it very quickly.

Lindhout’s personality really came though and I identified with her so clearly. She loves to travel and see the world. She has the pull to go anywhere and everywhere. I can 100% understand. I can understand the thrill of traveling somewhere “off the grid,” where your presence as a tourist is a curiosity instead of an expectancy. Where you can accidentally see what real life is like instead of a show. I haven’t traveled the way Lindhout has, and I doubt I ever will. I think it’s testament to Lindhout’s writing style that, even though I know she gets into a horrible kidnapping situation, when she’s telling me about her initial trips and all she sees and the “risks” she takes, I all I feel is jealous and envy, not fear of the unknown. She’s lived and seen amazing things. It’s incredible.

So, there’s that piece to the book. It’s the unexpected wonderful part of this story – understanding her before the kidnapping, seeing through the lens of a backpacker. There’s also the terrible part when she is kidnapped. Lindhout holds little back. She manages to take this long kidnapping step by step and not a moment of it is boring. She’s able to pull us into her mind, to see her hopes, scares, wonders, and realities. To see her struggle between hatred for her captors and understanding, to see her strategies. What I like best is that Lindhout has showed what worked – but also what didn’t. This isn’t a Hollywood movie. She makes some awful, horrible errors. Errors that I myself could have easily done in her place. It’s a gripping, terrible reality.

It’s no spoiler that Lindhout survives. What I’ve often found reading memoirs is that sometimes this does ruin things. Because the author is the main character we know they are going to make it. That doesn’t hinder the suspense in this story. I found myself wondering how it was going to work, feeling her true despair. That’s all testament to just how well this story was put together by Lindhout and her co-author.

Excellent memoir and well worth all its praise!

Categories: Debuts, Pick Ups, Travel, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

YA Book Review: Wild Cards – 4 out of 5

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m just not going to argue with a book I read so fast. Whenever a book makes me flip page after page after page, it has something going for it. That’s how I have been with everything Elkeles has written. When I go back through and analyze afterwards I can usually identify things that bother me, that I wish were different. But I’m not going to ignore the fact that in the moment I was there and loving it. That’s what I really want in a book in the long run.

So, we have Derek and Ashtyn. Don’t be fooled – this isn’t a book about plot. Yes, there is one, since you need one in a book but that’s not what this is about. It’s about these two characters and how they fall in love. There’s no suspense or question that this will be how them book ends. Derek and Ashtyn are going to be together and we’re just reading a book on how that happens. If you want some kind of suspense about that when you read a book then this is not for you.

Elkeles does a really good job of making these two characters exist in real life. They have plenty of their own baggage and they are definitely teenagers. This is one of those books where the characters act their age. They are young, hormonal teenagers and because of this they sometimes do stupid things. You can see them learning and faltering along the way and as a reader you can’t help rooting for them. You want them to figure out their life because you hope if they can, then maybe you can, too.

Okay, that might have just been me. What I’m saying is that it’s easy to connect.

There were two things that bothered me about the story.

1) Ashtyn’s main character flaw. She projects herself as such a strong, independent young woman, a football player who, despite living with her father seems to have raised herself. For all of that, though, she can’t seems to handle herself and it’s bothersome. I wanted her to figure out about Landon on her own. For all the time she spent around guys I just don’t see how she or even her guy friends would have let her be with someone so negative to her life. I don’t see why Derek had to point out as many of these things to her as he did. I wanted her to do more on her own – but it wasn’t a deal-breaker on how I liked then.

2) Derek’s grandmother lives in Texas and the football clinic is in Texas and miraculously they are located withing CABBING distance? Texas is huge – what were the chances of them being in the same exact place?!

I’m kidding about that last point – kind of.

If you love cute, fun, YA RomCom, you’ll love this. That’s all you need to know.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella – 5 of 5

I’ve Got Your Number
by Sophie Kinsella


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can’t help it. Love this book.

I read this book over the course of two days, during which time the following happened:

1) I snort-laughed on the rush hour commuter train to work. I also gasp-laughed, guffawed, and tittered.
2) I read this book, at my desk, at work, over my empty lunch container, pretending I was still eating so I could keep reading. (mind you, I love my job and usually happily work through lunch.)
3) On the rush hour train back from work, I laughed maniacally, and loud enough, to make my seat-mate jump.
4) I had hard, set plans to go to the gym tonight. Instead, I sat for two hours and finished the book. Needless to say, I’m still on the couch.


I adored Poppy. She was ridiculous and psychotic and so damn real. Sure, there were a couple parts where I said, no, not possible, but I rolled with it. She was a wonderful protagonist with such a great sense of identity. When you pick up a chick lit book you don’t always anticipate, or even hope for, real character growth and development. But I think Kinsella really nailed it.

There is one part in particular where she really nailed it. I had to go back and re-read. Kinsella had me totally fooled. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you know how it’s going to end when you start it, but the way she got there was just wonderful. Excellent author sleight of hand there.


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Reviewing a Classic: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy


With the recent hype of the Anna Karenina movie, I decided it was time to tackle the tome that is Tolstoy – it’s my first real encounter with Tolstoy and I figured this would be the best place to start. After all, I’ve enjoyed many other classic romance novels and Anna tends to fall in among other names like Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Eyre, etc.

One of the biggest complaints I have heard is the inability to keep the characters straight with all those crazy Russian names all over the place. I had no trouble though. No, I side on with the other popular complaint – the damn length. I was so close to liking it, I really was, but there was just so much in-between mucking it all up.

I don’t need to go on and on, Tolstoy has that covered, let me just put it like this.

According to my nook version I read, this story was 1157 nook pages. I legitimately enjoyed 500 of those. Those 500 or so pages were impressive, Interesting, page turning, and heart-poundingly wonderful.

The rest? Well… okay, how about this. Do you know when you’re with a group of people and half of them know each other from somewhere you’re unfamiliar with? Like, maybe they were all in a class together that you weren’t in? Then they start telling stories about people you don’t know? So, of course, you listen because you’re not a rude person, and the stories are kind of interesting, or funny, or whatever but since you don’t actually know the people you’re missing some kind of crucial element to make the experience actually enjoyable.

The rest is kind of like that.

So is it worth you time? If you’re willing to skim, I think so. The story and premise itself is great, it’s just Tolstoy likes his world and he wanted to say a lot about it. It was also written during a time when making a political point in a novel was normal. Hooray for reading it now.

Last night I watched the newest version of Anna Karenina and was pleasantly surprised, for the most part I think they did a great job… until the end. I won’t spoil anything but I feel as though they just missed the mark on who Anna is overall and, especially, why she does what she does at the end. I think the movie implies her motives are out of jealousy when I think it’s more of a realization that she’s wholly and utterly trapped- mostly by herself.

So – all the hours spent reading the book, and the hours I spent watching the movie and I still come back with a shrug and a meh.

Well, at least I know someone cares.

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Top Seven Books I Loved From the First Line to the End

Ever get two pages into a book and think, “Oh man, this is going to be good.”?   Expect that from these reads.

1) The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer


This book is powerful. If you enjoy WWII literature at all – this is totally worth your while. Even if you don’t, you should read it. Andras Levi, the protagonist, is a great character. He’s one of those central focus characters that is almost perfect in nature – kind, intelligent, thoughtful – who provides a fantastic window to see the other characters and the rest of the world. I miss his mind already and I’ve only been out of it for a day.

The writing itself is spectacular, Orringer is overwhelmingly good. She describes settings that make me feel, even more than see.

Beautiful beginning, middle, and end.

2) In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah


This is the only book I have ever finished and immediately wanted to re-read. I originally read this on my nook and have now bought a paper copy as well.  This is one of those books that I want to scribble on, highlight phrases that jumped out at me and somehow said everything I never knew I wanted to express. Maybe my significant attachment came because I was reading this while I was living and traveling alone in Spain, knowing that a visitation to Morocco was on the horizon.  Regardless, it’s excellent.

So why? Why am I so ga-ga over this book? One of my greatest loves in life is traveling and this book just oozes with the emotions of a traveler. Shah is an individual who is restless, who is curious, who judges people with an eye of disbelief AND understanding, who takes people as what they are and, while human beings are unable to completely ever fill another’s shoes, he incorporates what he can. It’s incredible – I stopped multiple times while reading to ponder or scribble down a sentence. Shah’s words described my own emotions: it’s so wonderful to feel understood.

This book is both memoir and story – it’s a mixture of tales, events, meaningful and not. His ability to tie in everything makes me believe he’s led not only a great life but also a fascinating one – I believe this book is filled with both truths and fibs and it works beautifully into one tapestry.

3) Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones by Erica Jong


This book was pretty astounding and probably the least expected to be on the list. Very rarely have I reacted to a book with as much gusto – and I’m not talking about tears and laughter here, I’m talking about flat out shock. In terms of fiction, I’ve never had a book startle me as much as this one did and I loved it all the more for it.

Erica Jong wrote this in such a manner that I truly believed she was Fanny Hackabout-Jones. She said in the beginning that she would keep no modesty, and she kept true to her word. The events in this book had ways of simultaneously disgusting and arousing me but ultimately making me truly care for, and hate, the same ones that Fanny did. Fanny wanted to teach Belinda, her daughter, all the things she had learned in the world.

At the very least, I think she succeeded in teaching me.

4) Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


I have read this book a number of times and, yep, still love it.  This is one of those books that every time I see a used copy for sale somewhere, I still want to buy it.  As it is I’ve bought two copies for myself, mostly just because I love to lend it.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Baraboo, Wisconsin – a small town where the Ringling Bros museum and winter headquarters are – but this novel is like gold to me. Circus stuff fascinates me and Gruen puts together all the deeper, darker parts to make this a story completely for adults.

The images are brilliant without being overwhelming. It’s told from the eyes of an old man named Jacob looking back on his life as a young man. Because of this, I feel like we see things precisely the way humans remember them. I noticed Jacob’s feelings: his anger, frustration, confusion, compassion, and helplessness the most throughout the book. It thrilled me throughout.

5) Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

wildwood dancing

Ho-ly cow, this is good. This is good good. This is really good good.

I don’t know what I really expected when I began this. I had briefly read some reviews, heard it was a fairy tale and decided to pick it up. When they say fairy tale they mean it in the Grimm sense of the term – man, this is DARK. I was spooked and concerned far more than I was laughing.

The characters are fascinating. We see the world through the eyes of Jena; second oldest of five. She’s the most sensible, mildly attractive, easy to relate to. She and her sisters have been visiting the ‘Other Kingdom’ every full moon for dancing, relating with other world creatures, etc. Right from the beginning we learn that, while her sisters seem at ease, Jena has always had some trepidation about the whole experience. That feeling of unease only grows through the book. It’s extremely high powered.

Probably my best praise of this book is how Marillier puts it together. Let’s see if I can explain this properly: This story is full of twists and turns, however nothing quite took me by “surprise” – I managed to at least kind of guess each new and exciting part to the story. However, I don’t believe that was at all my intuition. I think that Marillier does a fantastic job with foreshadowing – she kept me in the dark for as long as SHE wanted to keep me there. Very well executed.

6) City of Thieves by David Benioff

This book was recommended to me by my history professor – and for good reason. It’s fantastic. It’s everything I want in a WWII setting novel. It had the history, the imagery, but it also had a story that was independent of it all. It was nice to have that fresh piece in there, something many other WWII related novels are missing. The events are so horrific – death, starvation, siege – and yet it’s so contrasted by the vibrant characters. I never thought I would have loved a character like Kolya so much. I seriously wanted to marry him by the time the book was half over. Exceptional story for a little history, a little fiction, and a great story

7) The Help by Kathryn Stockett


Holy cow. What a phenomenal book. I read this book at the height of it’s popularity – before the movie and when you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about it. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into – all I knew was that it was a supposedly good book and that it was that month’s read for my book club. I can’t even begin to say how happy I am to have read it.

And, what’s funny is, my favorite part is technically not part of the book. It’s the very end, where Stockett takes a moment to say why this book exists and how she felt, being a white woman who grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, writing it. For me, this helped solve all the questions I had, and the mixed emotions I felt, throughout the book. This is the kind of book that even though some might not agree or might not think she had a right to write it… I’m glad she did.

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

8 Books to Read Now, Before Hollywood Steals Your Characters

I’m all for book being made into movies, if it makes people more aware of a great story, bring it on.  Even when the movie doesn’t exactly match the book, I don’t always mind.  For me a movie is a different entertainment medium and sometimes things are altered – so long as the movie is good and done well, more power to them.

Regardless of how much I support movies, though, there is one thing I will always hate.  It doesn’t matter how much you try not to – your image of those characters will be forever altered.  That actor, actress, set, whatever, will forever be in your mind as portrayed in the movie and however you imagined it before is taken away from you.  It’s, easily, the move depressing part of movies from books I can come up with. I can still vaguely remember my version of Hermoine and, no offense Emma Watson, I miss my Hermoine like crazy.

Therefore, here is my life of movies soon-to-hit-theatres you should read before it’s too late to create the magical world yourself.

1) The Book Thief
Release Date: November 15, 2013


You don’t have much time as this is scheduled to come out in November.  As it’s a long book, too, I suggest getting started on it right away.  I always recommend books be read before the movie is seen but I super emphasize it with The Book Thief.  If you are going to read this book, I highly suggest doing it in audio book format. The narrator is phenomenal – I imagine that is exactly what death sounds like. I truly think hearing it read aloud made the experience for me; some of the other reviews I have heard indicated the story can drag a little, but in the audiobook format that flowery, somewhat backwards and fascinating imagery (my favorite kind of imagery) really came alive.

I like this book for so many reasons – it’s a genre I read a lot, it’s a perspective that’s new, and, while I’m not entirely thrilled with death as a narrator, I appreciate the newness of it. Liesel as a protagonist was amazingly real. Her personality was one of the most… well… authentic I’ve read in a long time.

My rating: 4/5 stars

2) Ender’s Game
Release Date: November 1, 2013


This is another one you have to get to soon – also set to release in November.  It’s a little shorter, and faster, of a read than The Book Thief, so I have faith you can do both.

Any book that makes me stay up until the wee hours of the morning is a good book; so, by the transitive property…

This is one of those books that I dove into with zero background. I didn’t even read the back cover. I’ve just noticed that a lot of people love it and when I asked the husband what to read next, he put it in my hands, and I started reading. And overall, I liked it. Unique, interesting, involving… but not quite five stars. I found the sibling relationships so… off-kilter and the ending didn’t hold a whole lot for me. But pick it up and give it a try – you won’t regret it.

My rating: 4/5 stars

3) Gone Girl
Release Date: 2015?


I’m mostly interested in seeing this movie because I’m curious if they can pull it off on film.  The reader’s facts are entirely based on one character’s thoughts, and translating that to film is going to be tricky business.

This book is too long and dense to complete in just one evening – which is unfortunate because you’ll spend the time not reading it thinking about it.

In this book, Nick Dunne’s wife goes missing.

And I think that’s just about everything can say. Anything else would be a spoiler.

My rating: 4/5 stars

4) The Night Circus
Release Date: 2014

night circus

I don’t often get excited about a book being turned into a movie – at most I’m interested.  But this movie, if they do it right, it could be phenomenal.  The images… I mean, they could do so many fantastic scenes!  I’m positively giddy about seeing a visual representation of this circus and, to be honest, it might make me feel better about the book. I found myself getting confused at time and the sequencing of a movie could probably help a lot.

While many people find this hard to get through on paper or e-reader, I myself had a hard time connecting with the characters, I think it would be great coupled with the visuals of Hollywood.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

5) Suite Francaise
Release Date: 2014


This is an example of a book being made into a movie that makes me sigh in relief.  Even if the movie isn’t perfect, it might get more people to read the book, and this is a story everyone should make a part of them.

When I first picked it up, I was only so-so involved. I was confused by the characters, and, to be honest, alarmed by how small the font size was. But the more I read the more entranced I became. What a fantastic writer, and even more, what a fantastic story. This if the kind of novel I would love to write – a myriad of characters, loosely connected in passing but wholly connected by the horrors of war.

My rating: 4/5 stars

6) The Fault in Our Stars
Release Date: 2014


For me, this is a book you need to read now because I could really easily see the movie not being able to capture the true essence of the book.  Within two minutes of turning on this book (yes, I read it in audio book) I knew two things – it was going to be good, and it wasn’t going to end happy.

First off, unless you live under a rock and somehow this book ended up on your doorstep, you probably already know that this book has amazing reviews. So amazing that I wasn’t even cynical about it. I started this book because I knew enjoying it would be a done deal. Sometimes it’s nice to have the confidence.

Second, you know immediately that the main character has cancer. This main character is a teenage girl. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that sad things happen in this book.

When you get this combo, I think it’s easy to do it wrong, to mess it up.  Green did a great job writing this to make the perfect balance.  It’s going to take that same balance on the screen to get it right.  Read first and see if you agree!

My rating: 4/5 stars.

7) Angelfall
Release Date: ??


It looks like the movie adaptation of this might be a long way off.  That makes sense, considering the rest of the books of this series aren’t even published yet.  Regardless, I can definitely see the movie potential to this.  It’s young adult, it’s fast, it’s a unique world.

I personally liked this book more for the world – the fallen angel theme, while not entirely unique, certainly is well done on this book.  For me the characters weren’t always the most interesting, nor did they react the way I thought they should all the time, but their world and interactions were exciting.  I read this book in no time at all, it’s definitely a page turner. This will likely be really great on film.

My rating: 3.5/5

8) Unbroken
Release Date: End of 2014


I positively gush about this book. This was one of the most incredible books I’ve read. I was even lucky enough to enjoy it in beautiful audiobook format, which I would highly recommend. There are parts to this book where I know, reading on paper, I would have skimmed in an effort to learn what would happen next – the audiobook made me listen to each and every detail, and I’m thankful for it.

This book is a perfect example where ignorance is bliss. While I have savored many WWII memoirs and stories, I’d mostly stuck to Holocaust areas and that created the entirety of my understanding of the war. I learned next to nothing in school (hooray, US public school history classes) and was completely unaware that someone names Louis Zamperini ever existed. That, coupled by my purchase of this book without even reading the blurb, led me to a tumultuous read that sent my emotions through the roof.

Hillenbrand is a magician of factual, interesting details. The amount of research that went into this story is incredible, and so worth it. The descriptions told from the eyes and memories of those who lived it – for how many people we learned about – it was all so moving, so overwhelming. It’s a book I truly felt. I wanted at every moment to gush over what I had just learned to everyone I knew, but resisted, because I didn’t want to ruin anything for the people I plan I harassing until they read it.

Now, stop reading this, and read the book.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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