The Historian

The Historian
by: Elizabeth Kostova

Published: 2005

# of pages: 720

I didn't know what to expect from this book, but I was pleased with what I discovered. This is a great classic vampire book. It isn't filled with sexuality and bad language, it's just a good suspense novel that is also a unique historical fiction book.

The story is crazy with the many different characters and how the time line jumps back and forth. However, the main character and narrator is a 16 year old girl who discovers a strange book in her father's library. After that, her life is never the same as she learns about her father's strange past that includes mystery, love, adventure, and vampires.

The book centers around Dracula and includes a lot of historical facts about the man the character Dracula is based on. The book has several settings - including America, Amsterdam, Britain, Istanbul, Romania, and Bulgaria. I wonder how many of the things mentioned in the book are true (like about the search for Dracula's tomb, historical events, etc). I also wonder how many of the places are real. Maybe they are all real, I'll have to do more research to figure it out.

The book refers to the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker regularly, so that may be worth reading before picking up this novel, but isn't necessary to read first. I also thought it was interesting that the novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy was briefly referred to, but once again, it isn't necessary to read that to understand the reference.

This is a very long book, but it mostly held my attention. I have to admit, in the 3rd quarter of the book I became a little bogged down. However, it may have been because I only had time to read it in short spurts. Maybe it wouldn't have dragged if I could have devoted longer periods of time to reading it. It was definitely worth continuing to read it though and I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and/or the vampire genre.

Other reviews:

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass
by: Philip Pullman

Series: His Dark Materials Trilogy, Book 1

Challenges: YA Challenge, 1st in a Series Challenge

Published: 2001

# of pages: 368

I read this years ago, when I was in high school, but I had mostly forgot about it until I watched the movie last year. I wasn't all that impressed with the film, but I remembered how much I enjoyed the book, so I decided to re-read it. I thought it was just as good the second time around!

The story follows Lyra, a young orphan who is raised at Oxford until she stumbles upon an adventure that takes her to distant lands. Although Lyra lives in a world that is similar to ours (similar place names, etc), it has several large differences, including the fact that all humans have daemons...their souls living outside their bodies in animal forms. Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, venture out on a quest to save their best friend from the child stealing Gobblers. They come into contact with a variety of characters including an evil golden monkey, a talking bear, witches, a fiery balloon flying Texan, and a band of gypsies.

When the movie came out, it was very controversial in the Christian community. I don't recall why exactly, except that the author has publicly claimed to be an atheist. I don't know why that in itself is upsetting since the majority of books published now are written by atheists. I haven't re-read the next 2 books in the series, so maybe there is something worthy of controversy in those. As far as this one goes, the creation story in Genesis is twisted to include mention of daemons for the story's purposes. The church in the story is also corrupted. Unfortunately, it reminds me of the real world's church history, but I can't be sure that's what the author was basing the fictional church on. Anyway, it's a fantasy, so keep that in mind while reading.

I think this is a great book for adult lovers of fantasy. I don't really feel like this is a great children's book. I don't think it's appropriate for younger young adults because it has some bad language and is kind of dark and intense. Also, it seems like it could be hard for younger readers to follow. Anyway, this is a young adult book that many adults would enjoy, so go check it out!

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.


by: Kristen Cashore

Challenges: 1st in a Series Challenge

Published: 2008

# of pages: 471

For some reason I had The Hunger Games in mind when I started to read this. It must be because in my LibraryThing account it always shows this as a recommendation right next to The Hunger Games. Anyway, I couldn't help but compare the two for the first few chapters, but eventually I separated them in my mind and then enjoyed this book more. I did find the similarity in the main characters' names annoying. Katniss is the heroine of The Hunger Games and Katsa is the heroine of Graceling.

Katsa lives in a world where certain people are born with a grace. It could be the grace of cooking, the grace of fighting, the grace of drawing...or the grace of killing. The last is Katsa's grace. The people with graces are called Gracelings and they are the property of the land's many rulers. Katsa may be able to kill without effort, but it doesn't mean she enjoys it. She finds ways to rebel against her uncle the king, but until she meets another Graceling one fateful night, she doesn't do anything to change her situation.

Katsa's world is turned around when she meets a handsome Graceling who invades her world. He's mysterious and is on a mission, one in which Katsa is soon caught up in. The two Gracelings seem unstoppable, but can they survive traveling across the country's rugged terrain and becoming involved in a horrifyingly evil plot?

Like I said, I had a hard time enjoying the novel at first because I kept comparing it to one of my all time favorite books, but after awhile it seemed more individual and unique. I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have if Katsa was a little more open to love. I think her romantic decisions made the book less romantic. That's not necessarily bad, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had a little more traditional romance. :-)

This is appropriate for adult lovers of fantasy and possibly some young adults as well. There's mild sex scenes and maybe some mild language (I can't remember for sure). There's obviously some violence since Katsa is skilled in killing, but it isn't descriptive or overwhelming. Overall this was a unique and interesting read, I can't wait to read the sequel (Fire).

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

Haunting Bombay

Haunting Bombay
by: Shilpa Agarwal

Challenge: R.I.P. IV

Published: 2009

# of pages: 368

It's past the due date for the R.I.P. IV challenge, but I finished this book October 28, so I completed it within the time frame. I was just too lazy to write a review before today!

The story follows the Mittal family living in Bombay in 1960. The main character, Pinky, is a 13 year old girl who lives with her grandmother, uncle, aunt, and cousins in a bungalow that is haunted by the ghost of an infant. One night the ghost is released from the room it has been confined in for 13 years and the Mittal family is never the same.

This is a "scary" book, but it is really horrifying because of the nature of the ghost and the family's secrets. There were a few times, especially at the beginning before much is revealed, where I felt a little creeped out. However, after learning more about the family, I just felt so sad for all of them, but especially Savira. I suppose this wasn't the best book to read as the mother of an infant.

Anyway, in spite of the sadness, it was a good mystery that I kept wanting to read to find out what happened. However, I felt like it was a little choppy. The scenes kept jumping from one thing to another and there were a few parts I felt could have been left out. I found it interesting that the women in the book were all connected, but in a way that was what was a little confusing.

And I just have to say...part of the reason I enjoy reading books that take place in India or have Indian characters is because of the beautiful names! I loved the names Savira, Maji, Jaginder, Avni, Parvati.... so pretty. Haha, I just noticed several of them have Vs in them, and that's obviously something I'm drawn too (my son's name is Evan).

Anyway, I recommend this to adult readers who enjoy the Gothic genre, Indian history, or ghost stories/mysteries that are more suspense filled than scary.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.


by: Robin McKinley

Published: 2008

# of pages: 272

First of all I have to say, I love the cover illustration on this book! It's hard to see in the picture, but it really is gorgeous! THIS LINK takes you to the artists' website.

Other than that, I was disappointed in the book. McKinley is one of my favorite authors of all time. The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown are the 2 books that drew me into the world of fantasy. Before then I had never had a desire to read fantasy and the few fantasy books I had read I didn't enjoy because they were too unrealistic. haha! Beauty and Sunshine are 2 of my all time favorite books as well. So I had high expectations for Chalice, but I thought the narration style of the book was boring and confusing.

The story is told from the point of view of the main character, Marisol. The narrative is mainly her thoughts that ramble on and are repetitive. There isn't nearly as much dialogue in this novel as there is in most books. I felt like this really hindered my enjoyment of the story. The plot is interesting, but the narrative took away from it.

The story is about Marisol, an orphaned young woman whose world is turned upside down when the master of the estate she lives and works on as a beekeeper dies. She is chosen to be the new Chalice, cup bearer, of the new master. She is part of a circle of people who help keep the land intact with magic, otherwise it will fall apart and be destroyed.

If it isn't enough that Marisol has been thrown into this position, the new master is in an identical predicament. Both the master and Marisol work hard to keep the land together and keep the people satisfied. Everything seems to be going fine until the overlord of the lands gets involved and chooses an heir for the master to train. Things quickly go downhill and it's up to Marisol to save the day.

I appreciated the story and the magical world that McKinley created. However, I just couldn't get over the repetitiveness of the narration and the lack of dialogue. I felt that I couldn't really get to know the characters.

This book is classified as a young adult book, but I feel like it is more of an adult book. Not because the content is mature, it just isn't your typical young adult book. Even the main character is an adult, she isn't a teenager. I recommend this book to people who really love fantasy. I think the redeeming factor is the unique magic structure that is in the story, something that will appeal to lovers of the fantasy genre.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

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I'm starting late! However, since I'm just about to start reading a book that qualifies, I might as well join. I always mean to do this every year, but I always remember too late! Next year I'm determined to participate more.

The "rules":

"There are two simple goals to the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge:

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

As I do each and every year, there are multiple levels of participation that allow you to be a part of R.I.P. IV without adding the burden of another commitment to your already busy lives.

R.I.P. IV officially runs from September 1st through October 31st.

Dark Fantasy.

I'm doing Peril the Third: one book.

Haunting Bombay by: Shilpa Agarwal

However, I do have some other books on my TBR list that qualify for this challenge, I just won't have enough time to finish them for the challenge.

Her Fearful Symmetry by: Audrey Niffenegger
The Historian by: Elizabeth Kostova
The Terror by: Dan Simmons

and countless others...I'm too lazy to go find my list!

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
by: Ann Brashares

Series: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Book 1

Challenges: YA Challenge, First in a Series Challenge

Published: 2001

# of pages: 352

Quote: "As the fluffy plot progressed, Margaret looked over at them so many times, checking excitedly for their reactions, that Tibby wondered, with a swelling sadness in her throat, how many of the ten thousand movies Margaret had watched with another person." -Tibby p. 167

I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I expected it to be very shallow and nothing special as far as the writing quality. However, I thought it was a pretty deep book for being a modern young adult novel that is geared towards teenage girls. I was also impressed with the quality of writing. It still wasn't anything special, just better than I thought. I liked how every once in awhile something would stick out at me. Brashares included small but significant insights throughout the novel.

The story follows 4 teenage girls, best friends, who spend their first summer apart. Each of the girls has a unique personality. Lena is shy and quiet, Bridget is outgoing, Camren is forceful and outspoken, while Tibby is moody. I related to Lena and Tibby more than I thought I would. Their personalities and their thoughts match up to mine so much. That was part of the reason I enjoyed the book as much as I did.

I watched the movie years ago when it was in theatres and enjoyed that as well. The movie closely follows the book, but I didn't feel bored while reading the book. The movie doesn't capture much of the "deep" insights that are in the book. Also, I'm surprised that the movie doesn't include the scene with Lena's and Kostos' grandfathers. I think that would have been a funny thing to see in the movie. I suppose that the movie makes Lena's and Kostos' "relationship" more romantic than the book, but I think the book is more realistic.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book is the humorous quotes included before each chapter. I found myself looking forward to a new chapter to see what it would be. I didn't always see a connection between the quote and the events in the chapter, but it was fun nonetheless.

This is a fun read for both young adults and adults alike. Even if you aren't always a fan of modern young adult fiction, I encourage you to try it if it seems at all like something you could handle reading. You just might be surprised like I was.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours.

Catching Fire

Catching Fire
by: Suzanne Collins

Series: The Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 2

Published: 2009

# of pages: 400

This is the sequel to The Hunger Games. So often I don't enjoy sequels or subsequent books in a series as much as the first book, but this is an exception. I found this book to be just as engrossing as the first!

The story continues to follow Katniss as she returns home from the Hunger Games. Collins does an amazing job with further character development in Catching Fire. Although the first part of this novel is just bringing the reader up to date on Katniss, Gale, Peeta, and the other characters, it's still action packed and keeps you hooked. The story is completely unpredictable and you won't be able to put this book down! And just to warn you... you will be left hanging at the end. I can't wait for the third book to come out!!!! Which I read it will be another fall 2010. :-(

I find the whole concept of these books to be fascinating. Thinking of reality TV ever going so far as it does in this series is chilling. Also, the Capitol strongly reminds me of modern America. The waste, the preoccupation with appearances and material possessions, the lack of concern for other people... These books are not only entertaining, they also make me stop and think about what I take for granted, what entertainment is to me, and how am I like the people from the Capitol that Katniss comes into contact with?

Overall I highly recommend this to all young adults and adults.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.
Bloggin' 'bout Books
Framed and Booked

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by: John Berendt

Challenges: What's in a Name?

Published: 1994

# of pages: 400

This is a fascinating and engrossing book that I was amazed to discover is non-fiction! Berendt describes Savannah, Georgia as it was in the 1980s, including a large variety of eccentric characters. Jim Williams is the man who ties the book together. He keeps cropping up in the first part, at the end of which he is accused of murder, and the second part concentrates on his murder trial.

I remained interested throughout the entire book. The first part doesn't have a steady storyline, it jumps around and doesn't have a concrete theme. However, I still remained interested. I enjoyed hearing about the many people Berendt came into contact with while living in Savannah. The second part has a different atmosphere. I was eager to see what the outcome of Williams' trial would be and was also interested in the legal procedures that are described.

There was one chapter that concentrated on a woman named Chablis that I did not like. It was very crude. Her language and choice of topics didn't appeal to me whatsoever. Other than that chapter, I highly recommend this book to all adults, but especially those interested in Southern literature.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.


my son, Evan! He arrived 2 and a half weeks early on August 23, 2009 at 4:03 PM. 7 lbs, 2 oz. 19.5 inches. Perfect.

I'm still finding some time to read, but I know things on here will slow down a bit, so have patience. This time I have a good reason for slacking off on my book blog!

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Young Adult Book Meme

Put an “X” next to the books you’ve read (I am linking the Xs by the books that I've reviewed)
Put a “+” next to the books you LOVE
Put a “#” next to the books you plan on reading

1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy / Douglas Adams X
2. Kit’s Wilderness / David Almond
3. Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian / Sherman Alexie
4. Speak / Laurie Halse Anderson #
5. Feed / M.T. Anderson
6. Flowers in the Attic / V.C. Andrews X
7. 13 Reasons Why / Jay Asher
8. Am I Blue? / Marion Dane Bauer (editor)
9. Audrey Wait! / Robin Benway
10. Weetzie Bat / Francesca Lia Block
11. Tangerine / Edward Bloor
12. Forever / Judy Blume
13. What I Saw and How I Lied / Judy Blundell
14. Tyrell / Coe Booth
15. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants / Ann Brashares #
16. A Great and Terrible Beauty / Libba Bray X
17. The Princess Diaries / Meg Cabot
18. The Stranger / Albert Camus X
19. Ender’s Game / Orson Scott Card X
20. Postcards from No Man’s Land / Aidan Chambers
21. Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky
22. And Then There Were None / Agatha Christie
23. Gingerbread / Rachel Cohn
24. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist / Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
25. Artemis Fowl (series) / Eoin Colfer
26. The Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins X +
27. The Midwife’s Apprentice / Karen Cushman X
28. The Truth About Forever / Sarah Dessen
29. Little Brother / Cory Doctorow
30. A Northern Light / Jennifer Donnelly X
31. Tears of a Tiger / Sharon Draper
32. The House of the Scorpion / Nancy Farmer
33. Breathing Underwater / Alex Flinn
34. Stardust / Neil Gaiman X +
35. Annie on My Mind / Nancy Garden
36. What Happened to Cass McBride / Gail Giles
37. Fat Kid Rules the World / K.L. Going
38. Lord of the Flies / William Golding X
39. Looking for Alaska / John Green
40. Bronx Masquerade / Nikki Grimes
41. Out of the Dust / Karen Hesse X
42. Hoot / Carl Hiaasen
43. The Outsiders / S.E. Hinton
44. Crank / Ellen Hopkins
45. The First Part Last / Angela Johnson
46. Blood and Chocolate / Annette Curtis Klause
47. Arrow’s Flight / Mercedes Lackey
48. Hattie Big Sky / Kirby Larson
49. To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee X +
50. Boy Meets Boy / David Levithan
51. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks / E. Lockhart X
52. The Giver / Lois Lowry X
53. Number the Stars / Lois Lowry X
54. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie / David Lubar
55. Inexcusable / Chris Lynch
56. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things / Carolyn Mackler
57. Dragonsong / Anne McCaffrey X
58. White Darkness / Geraldine McCaughrean
59. Sold / Patricia McCormick
60. Jellicoe Road / Melina Marchetta
61. Wicked Lovely / Melissa Marr
62. Twilight / Stephenie Meyer X +
63. Dairy Queen / Catherine Murdock
64. Fallen Angels / Walter Dean Myers
65. Monster / Walter Dean Myers
66. Step From Heaven / An Na
67. Mama Day / Gloria Naylor
68. The Keys to the Kingdom (series) / Garth Nix
69. Sabriel / Garth Nix X
70. Airborn / Kenneth Oppel
71. Eragon / Christopher Paolini X
72. Hatchet / Gary Paulsen X
73. Life As We Knew It / Susan Beth Pfeffer
74. The Golden Compass / Phillip Pullman X
75. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging / Louise Rennison X
76. The Lightning Thief / Rick Riordan
77. Always Running: La Vida Loca / Luis Rodriguez
78. How I Live Now / Meg Rosoff
79. Harry Potter (series) / J.K. Rowling X +
80. Holes / Louis Sachar X +
81. Catcher in the Rye / J. D. Salinger
82. Push / Sapphire
83. Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi
84. Unwind / Neil Shusterman
85. Coldest Winter Ever / Sister Souljah
86. Stargirl / Jerry Spinelli
87. Chanda’s Secrets / Allan Stratton
88. Tale of One Bad Rat / Brian Talbot
89. Rats Saw God / Rob Thomas
90. Lord of the Rings / J.R.R. Tolkien X
91. Stuck in Neutral / Terry Trueman
92. Gossip Girl / Cecily Von Ziegesar
93. Uglies / Scott Westerfeld
94. Every Time a Rainbow Dies / Rita Williams-Garcia
95. Pedro and Me / Judd Winick
96. Hard Love / Ellen Wittlinger
97. American Born Chinese / Gene Luen Yang
98. Elsewhere / Gabrielle Zevin
99. I am the Messenger / Markus Zusak #
100. The Book Thief / Markus Zusak X +

I've read 26, loved 7, and plan to read 3.

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The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
by: E. Lockhart

Challenges: YA Challenge

Published: 2008

# of pages: 352

It's hard for me to review this book. It was a mixture of what I typically think of as shallow young adult reading material and deep, well written young adult reading material. Frankie is a typical 15 year old girl entering her sophomore year at a private boarding school. She's concerned about her appearance, she's interested in boys, and she feels a bit lost without her older sister. What makes Frankie different is that she forces herself to leave her comfort zone and not be the typical 15 year old girl. It almost seems like it isn't quite natural for her to do, which is understandable. Most people want to fit in and Frankie feels the same way, but the part of her that wants to be different ends up winning.

Frankie changed a lot over the summer between her freshman and sophomore year. The changes are mainly physical, but she is also forced to become her own person after her sister goes to college across the country. Frankie discovers that her appearance changes her status at school in ways she never dreamed of. She grabs the attention of her biggest crush, but her quick thinking also plays a part in that. That's one thing about Frankie, she's constantly thinking. Thoughts go through her mind with lightening speed, she analyzes everything and chooses what to say or do in each situation. I greatly admire her character for this trait!

Frankie also discovers that she isn't content to sit in the background and let the seniors she hangs out with walk all over her. If she can't come right out and be a part of their secret society, she decides to take a less obvious approach. She ends up leading an all male secret society while keeping her identity a secret. She's clever, witty, and funny. I was interested to see what she would come up with next and where she was going with her thoughts and plans.

I very much enjoyed this book, in spite of the inevitable modern teenage situations that arise. Thankfully that wasn't overdone, it just made me shake my head at their word choices ("dog," "grodie," "nimrod") and the boy obsession that all the girls have. Frankie's thoughts and her play on words kept me entertained and made me genuinely like her. She's a strong female character (oh yeah, this is a girl power book!) and I thought the feminist ideas presented throughout the novel were appropriate and fit with the theme without being overdone.

I recommend this book to young adults and adults (who enjoy the YA genre) alike. It's appropriate and Frankie's personality and decision making skills are thought provoking.

Other Reviews:
Books Lists Life
Bold. Blue. Adventure.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Published: 2008

# of pages: 274

Quote: "I knew that all children were gruesome, but I don't know whether I'm supposed to encourage them in it. I'm afraid to ask Sophie if Dead Bride is too morbid a game for a four-year-old. If she says yes, we'll have to stop playing, and I don't want to stop. I love Dead Bride.
So many questions arise when you are spending your days with a child. For instance, if one likes to cross one's eyes a lot, might they get stuck that way forever - or is that a rumor?" -Juliet to Sidney pg. 175

Great book! It's very well written and interesting, especially for lovers of literature and writing. What stuck out the most to me was how unique this book is. I've never read anything like it. I had never heard of the island of Guernsey and never heard of the Channel Islands and what life was like there during the German occupation during WWII. The entire book was an interesting view of WWII, one that is made even better by the variety of characters and their different experiences.

The book is completely written in the form of letters. Most of the letters are from or to Juliet Ashton. She is a writer in London in the 1940s who receives a letter from a random man on the island of Guernsey. Little does she know, but that is the beginning of multiple correspondences and friendships that she forms with an entire group of people on Guernsey. This group of friends accidentally started a literary society during the German occupation. While most of the members had never read books for pleasure before, they all discovered a love of literature that reflected their personalities. Juliet is intrigued and decides to learn more.

It took me a little while to really get into the book, mainly because I'm not usually fond of the letter format in novels. However, the second half of the book grabbed my attention and I fell in love with the characters. Juliet's letters are full of humor, there were several times where I laughed out loud. The novel has a little of everything - adventure, mystery, romance, humor... I definitely recommend it to all adults, especially if you are interested in the WWII era, literature, or historical fiction in general. Some older young adults may also enjoy this, but it may be a little intense, plus there is some mild bad language.

Let me know what you thought of this book if you've read it! And I can imagine that this may be made into a movie someday...what would you think about that?

Other Reviews:
Booknotes by Lisa
Dolce Bellezza

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

The Amaranth Enchantment

The Amaranth Enchantment
by: Julie Berry

Published: 2009

# of pages: 306

This cute young adult fairy tale fantasy is about a 15 year old girl named Lucinda whose life is changed forever when two strangers enter her uncle's goldsmith shop one day. From then on, one thing after another happens and Lucinda is forced into the adventure of her life. The book has everything from a "witch," a nasty aunt, a mischievous thief, an evil lord, and (of course!) a handsome prince.

I enjoyed the book and read it in less than a day because it was so fast. However, I felt like the story was very disjointed, especially towards the end (after page 250). After that it really didn't flow very well. Also, it was confusing how Lucinda sometimes jumped from one conclusion to another and contradicted herself. However, I've found that to be a common trait in many young adult books. I think YA authors try to be simple and so don't always explain the process the character goes through to make decisions.

All in all, this is a unique retelling of a fairy tale (based on Cinderella), if not a little strange in parts. It's definitely geared towards young adults, not all adults will be able to enjoy it. I recommend this to young adults and fans of young adult fantasy.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to list yours on this post.

The Shack

The Shack
by: William P. Young

Challenges: TBR Challenge, What's in a Name?

Published: 2007

# of pages: 248

Quote: "Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control."
"Is that why we like the law so much - to give us some control?" asked Mack.
"It is much worse than that," resumed Sarayu. "It grants you the power to judge others and feel superior to them. You believe you are living to a higher standard than those you judge. Enforcing rules, especially in its more subtle expressions like responsibility and expectation, is a vain attempt to create certainty out of uncertainty. And contrary to what you might think, I have a great fondness for uncertainty. Rules cannot bring freedom; they only have the power to accuse." -Sarayu & Mack pg. 203

Well I finally read the very famous novel, The Shack. Emphasis on novel. After reading it, I have a hard time seeing what the controversy among Christians is about. It's a fiction novel, a man's opinion on how a weekend with God might go. I don't think he's claiming that anything in it is gospel, I think several of the statements that "God" makes in the book are ones that can be interpreted in different ways. I'm conducting this review from a Christian viewpoint since that's what I read it with and how I think of it, even though it is just a novel.

That being said, I didn't enjoy reading the book, it wasn't fun or even terribly interesting to me. It was a lot like going to hear a sermon, minus the jokes that the pastor at my church throws in. However, I'm glad I read it because at least now I can participate in the conversations about the book and know what all the hype is about.

I'm sure most of you know what the novel is about, but here's a brief plot summary. Mack's daughter, Missy, is abducted and evidence of her murder is found in a shack in the middle of the wilderness. Several years later Mack receives a note from God inviting him to spend a weekend at the shack with him. Mack arrives and meets God. God has taken the form of a black woman for Mack at first. Jesus is there and so is the Holy Spirit in the form of an Asian woman named Sarayu. The 4 spend the weekend together and Mack learns about God's true nature.

Unfortunately, I imagine that some people find this book controversial just because God takes the form of a black woman and the Holy Spirit takes the form of an Asian woman. Too many people I grew up with would probably find this "wrong." However, God is not a black woman, he's taking the form of a black woman because at that point in time, that's what Mack needs in order to accept God and what he has to teach. As a matter of fact, God asks Mack to call him "Papa," even while he's in the form of a woman. Same with the Holy Spirit, it's just a form that is comforting to Mack, it doesn't mean the Holy Spirit has a set form or really is an Asian woman.

There were a few things here and there that I thought, "Ah ha! I don't think that's Biblical!" but then after thinking about it for awhile realized that it could be interpreted differently and therefore not contradict the Bible. For example, at one point God talks about hierarchy within human institutions and relationships and how it's not what he wants for us. My immediate thought was if God doesn't agree with hierarchy among the human race, why does he assign different people different levels of authority within the church in books such as Ephesians (ch 4) and 1 Timothy (ch 3)? However, one interpretation of the novel is that God's original plan for humans (before the garden of Eden) didn't include any kind of hierarchy. But our sin and the evil that followed makes some sort of accountability structure necessary, even within the church. Unfortunately, humans will never allow equality in any system, including the church, but I'm sure God would prefer us to all be equal and not have to be forced into institutional structures. Also, in a church the pastor has the gift of being able to lead, but that doesn't give him more power. He's still accountable to the entire congregation. We are all different parts of the same body, we're all supposed to be working together, no one is more important than another because one part cannot function without the help of all the other parts (Ephesians). Also, I think many parts of the modern church have taken church structure, rules, and traditions too far, forgetting that a relationship with God really doesn't take that much work to maintain and that the church body should be more equal than they allow it to be. That's just my way of interpreting it, but Young could very well have meant something else. I just think there's no reason to get too upset or defensive when it could mean anything.

Anyway, I haven't done all the research and I'm not going to. It's just a book to me, I only thought deeper about some sections because I've known some people who have claimed it's very contradictory to the Bible and I wondered how exactly. Some things can be interpreted in different ways, so how can we feel strongly that it means just one? I don't know exactly what Young was thinking, but does it really matter? It's all fiction and his opinion anyway, even if it does contradict the Bible. I think the book is great for people who are struggling with loss. Different people need to hear and believe different things during times of deep loss, and this could be just what some need. I think it really brings home the fact that following Jesus isn't work, we can all do it. If you aren't familiar with a true relationship with God then this book can be very inspirational and share new concepts (and will be more interesting than if you already know or understand this relationship).

Other reviews:
Booknotes by Lisa

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

The Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time
by: Josephine Tey

Challenges: What's in a Name?

Published: 1951

# of pages: 206

Don't ask me how this ended up on my TBR list. It's been on it for years though, I can't remember what made me put it on there. I have to say, I was disappointed when I finally read it!

The story is about Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard, who was injured during a case and is in the hospital...bored out of his mind. One of his friends decides to help him find something to do to pass the time and gives him a stack of portraits since he likes to analyze faces so much. Grant is immediately drawn to a portrait of Richard III, ruler of England in the 1400s. Richard was known as being a "monster," but Grant is struck by the fact that he looks so respectable in his portrait. Convinced that he isn't seeing the face of a murderer, he decides to discover what really happened over 400 years ago that left Richard with a grisly reputation.

What I didn't like about this book was the fact that the reader doesn't get to know the characters, even Grant, very well. However, I discovered that Tey wrote several other books that feature Inspector Grant before The Daughter of Time. This is a stand alone novel, but I think that by the time Tey wrote this novel she no longer had to introduce the characters as much. So perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I read her other books first.

Also, while the historical facts are very interesting, I felt like they could have been conveyed even better. The majority of the book is dialogue about history. There's so much information in so few pages. I would read and feel like I had read so much, only to realize that it was only 3 pages worth. I think that there could have been a better way to present the information. Maybe spread it out more, only put what was really relevant to the mystery, or just make it more interesting by putting more of the modern day story about Grant in between to break it up.

Anyway, the good thing about this book was that it does cover an interesting subject that I didn't know anything about before picking it up. Now I'm interested in Richard III and have even done a little bit of extra research to find out more about him and what people in our modern time think of him (Wikipedia counts as research, right?). It was neat how history is presented in a mystery form and that Inspector Grant goes about solving it just as he would a crime case assigned to him by the Scotland Yard. I was also interested to read on Wiki that Richard III was actually given a modern day "trial" in 1997 to formally decide whether or not he was guilty of the crimes attributed to him. Apparently Inspector Grant wasn't the only one who wondered more about this mysterious historical figure.

Overall I don't rate this very high because I feel like it could have been written in a more agreeable and interesting way. I recommend this to lovers of history, especially medieval history.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post your review!

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by: John Boyne

Challenges: YA Challenge

Published: 2006

# of pages: 216

Quote: "And were they really so different? All the people in the camp wore the same clothes, those pajamas and their striped cloth caps too; and all the people who wandered through his house . . . wore uniforms of varying quality and decoration and caps and helmets with bright red-and-black armbands and carried guns and always looked terribly stern, as if it was all very important really and no one should think otherwise.
What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?" -Bruno pg. 100

If I had to describe this book in one word it would be: powerful. The descriptions of the Holocaust are vague and the reader doesn't really get involved, and yet, I can't stop thinking about this book. It doesn't have to be detailed and we don't have to connect to the main character to still be affected by the story.

The story takes place in Nazi Germany. Bruno is the main character and the story begins with his family being transferred to "Out-With" so that his dad, a high ranking Nazi officer, can run the camp after receiving a visit from "the Fury." Bruno finds the move a hard adjustment, one that is made even more confusing by the fact that he doesn't understand where he is and what's going on. One day he meets a boy the same age as him and they start up a friendship unlike any Bruno has ever had before. The boys can't play together because they are separated by a huge fence. So instead they talk, and as they talk, they discover how much they have in common...and how much they don't have in common.

It's fascinating how Boyne made this book so innocent when it is discussing a topic that is so NOT innocent. It's eerie to see everything through a child's eyes. Bruno mispronounces and doesn't understand words and so comes up with the terms "Out-With" and "Fury" instead of their proper pronunciations. I knew what "Out-With" was right away, but for some weird reason, it took me awhile to realize what "the Fury" was. However, in both cases I couldn't help but see how Bruno's versions of these words are actually more appropriate than the true pronunciations.

My copy of the novel has an interview with Boyne at the end and I was pleased with what he had to say. He's very aware not only of the injustices of the Holocaust, but of the countless genocides that have taken place since then. The reason why I would recommend this book to ALL people, regardless of age, is because I feel like it still applies to our lives today. And that's exactly what Boyne wrote it the way he did. We can learn lessons from the novel, lessons that are important for adults and children to learn. So although the subject of the Holocaust can be touchy because of the violence, I still think that children should learn about it at a young age to learn about injustice so that they will recognize it if it ever comes up in their lifetime. This book can be a tool in teaching them this lesson because of it's young adult style. However, although the story is simple, it's also one that adults can relate to, no matter how many other books they have read on the subject.

Other Reviews:
Booknotes by Lisa
Bloggin' 'bout Books

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The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin
by: Margaret Atwood

Challenges: What's in a Name?

Published: 2000

# of pages: 521

I don't really know what to say about this book. I didn't really like it most of the way through. For awhile in the middle I was interested, then it seemed slow again, but after reading the very last part I kind of liked it. I think that reading it in bits and pieces over a long period of time was not the way to go. However, I just couldn't motivate myself to read more and when I received the opportunity to read The Hunger Games, I took time off to read that. So perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I read it all at once. That's definitely what I recommend others do!

The story is told by Iris Chase Griffin, an old lady who is looking back over her life at the age of about 82. She remembers her family and the tragedies that occurred when she and her sister were young. It's all very tangled because she tells about her current life and her past while there are also articles from the local paper and chapters from the book (a book within a book) The Blind Assassin. Everything comes together at the end and I was pleased that I solved all of the mysteries ahead of time. That's one reason why I liked it at the end. I finally completely understood everything and my suspicions were all correct!

The novel is very dark and it made me sad that so many of the characters in the book go through life without ever experiencing true love. Not just romantic love - true love in general. A couple of the characters think they are in love...or maybe they are really in love, but it's just not what love should be. Not only is the story dark in this way, there are many other disturbing things that crop up such as suicide, death, manipulation, lies, insane asylums (this seems to be a theme in many books I've read recently - The Woman in White & The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox), affairs, incest, etc.

I recommend this book to fans of Atwood (I don't think I am a fan...I liked The Handmaid's Tale, but didn't care for Cat's Eye) and "deep" thought provoking novels. I only recommend this for adults, there's a fair amount of bad language and sexual descriptions.

Other reviews:
things mean a lot

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
by: Suzanne Collins

Series: The Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 1

Published: 2008

# of pages: 374

I expected this book to be more young adult than it really was. I don't know why I thought this, but I figured a book about teens being forced to kill each other couldn't really be about teens killing each other. I was wrong and although it sounds horrible, I'm glad I was. The story is violent, but I still recommend it. It's thought provoking and reminds me of what our society could very well have turned into or could possibly turn into in the future.

The story is about two teens forced to take part in lethal "games" as punishment for a decades old uprising and for the entertainment of the wealthy in a future society that broadcasts the violence on TV. Katniss and Peeta are chosen to participate in the games out of all the other teenagers in their region. There can only be one winner of the Hunger Games so although Katniss and Peeta get along very well, Katniss is determined to remain as distant as possible because she knows very well she may have to kill - or be killed by - Peeta.

The entire story is fast paced and full of excitement. Collins does an amazing job with character development and the descriptions of the futuristic world she created. I enjoyed the character of Katniss because she isn't your typical female protagonist. She's aloof and tough, but has a soft and compassionate side as well. Her reactions to situations and the other characters are perfect for who she is supposed to be.

The sequel to the novel is being released in September - I'll definitely be reading it! I've also heard that this is going to be made into a movie which will be released in 2011. I recommend this to all young adults 15 & up (I think it's too violent for younger young adults) and all adults, especially if you enjoy books with a sci-fi twist. I was also pleased to see that this is a book that guys can enjoy just as much as girls will.

Other reviews:
Framed and Booked
Tripping Toward Lucidity
Escape in a Book

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

The Gargoyle

The Gargoyle
by: Andrew Davidson

Challenges: TBR

Published: 2008

# of pages: 465

Quote: "You are mine, I am yours; you may be sure of this. You've been locked inside my heart, the key has been thrown away; within it, you must always stay." -pg. 461

This is a hard book to review because I loved it so much. I want to convey the tone of the book and the feelings I had while reading it, but I know I won't be able to do that. It took a few chapters to get into the book. The main character isn't a good person, as a matter of fact, I was disgusted by him. He reminded me of Florentino in Love in the Time of Cholera, a perverted man who may have seemed successful in the eyes of the world, but was really alone and unfulfilled. Thankfully he changes in a wonderful way.

The narrator, who remains unnamed (it's fascinating, I didn't notice that he is unnamed until page 419, almost the end of the book...I normally always noticed an unnamed narrator) begins his story with his hospital stay after he's been in a horrifying car accident that leaves him burned beyond recognition. Such an accident would be bad enough for anyone, but it's devastating for him because of who he was before the accident - an incredibly handsome porn star. He's left without a career and without friends. He plans to kill himself after being discharged from the hospital, but an unexpected visit from a woman named Marianne Engel changes everything.

Marianne Engel claims that they were lovers in 14th century Germany. He brushes her off as crazy, but continues to humor her visits and slowly comes to look forward to them so that he can spend time talking to her about any and everything and to hear her stories about their "past life" and the other people she claims to have known from many different places and times throughout history. She also reads Dante's Inferno to the narrator, a piece of literature that is entwined throughout The Gargoyle.

Not only is the present day story of the narrator and Marianne fascinating, Marianne's stories of the past are also captivating. They all have a common theme - true love that requires great sacrifice and lasts beyond death. The historic details are incredible, it's obvious that Davidson did a lot of research while writing this novel and it sure pays off. The stories all come together towards the end of the book and now that I've finished they are sticking in my mind. This would be a great book to read for a book club and then discuss. For example, it's interesting that the narrator remains unnamed, but Marianne Engel is referred to by her first and last name almost every time she is mentioned. Also, how does the story of Siguror fit in at the very end of the novel, with the narrator and Marianne's story?

This is now one of my all time favorite books and I recommend it to all adults. The novel is graphic in the descriptions of the narrator's burns and his sexual past and contains some language, so I don't recommend it to young adults.

Other reviews:
Tripping Toward Lucidity
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The Alchemist

The Alchemist
by: Paulo Coelho

Published: 1988

# of pages: 177

Quote: "When he looked into her dark eyes, and saw that her lips were poised between a laugh and silence, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke - the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert." -Santiago & Fatima pg. 97

This novel was short, but it didn't lack for substance! I was amazed that every other page had such insightful descriptions and observations about life. I wouldn't say that it really taught me anything, but it did make me think about things more and I was amazed that Coelho obviously thought more about the "little" everyday things than I ever have!

The story follows "the boy" Santiago. He dreams a dream that changes his life. From then on he's on a quest to fulfill his destiny by following omens and listening to his heart. In the process, he travels the world and meets many friends...and enemies. I liked Santiago and was interested in his quest and the outcome. There's twists and turns on his journey that made it more interesting and made me wonder more than once what exactly he was going to find at the end.

All of the deep thoughts he has were very repetitive and sometimes seemed contradictory. That as well as his conversations with some of the other characters. I was very interested how all of the new agey sounding concepts mixed with religious concepts. I don't really get how they go together even after finishing the book. This book does mix many different religions and world views though. Christianity, Islam, and what I felt was a magical or kind of new age spiritualism.

If you decide to read this book I definitely recommend trying to read it in a short amount of time in as few readings as possible. Every time I picked up the book I would feel a moment of frustration at how repetitive and unnecessarily philosophical it was. However, after getting into it for awhile I was able to look past the parts that were full of cliches and pick out the parts that interested me and the core story of Santiago's adventures. At first I was also concerned about whether or not I was fully understanding the book or if I was missing important symbols, etc. But I think that it was fine to just read it for what it was. It did make me think more about life in general, but I didn't feel like it was truly any deeper than what was written on the page. The only thing I would be interesting in reading more about was the whole religious aspect of the book and what other people think about that.

That being said, I think this is a good book for the story and it is quite inspiring (although very unrealistic!). It's appropriate for young adults and adults alike. Let me know what you thought of it.

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The Onion Girl

The Onion Girl
by: Charles de Lint

Challenges: TBR Challenge

Published: 2001

# of pages: 508

I've heard so much about Charles de Lint, mostly about The Onion Girl. So it's been on my TBR list for the longest time. I also heard about Dreams Underfoot, which I believe is a collection of short stories. Now I realize that I should have read the stories before The Onion Girl, a novel. The stories and the novel take place in Newford, a city where magic and reality mix. I think that the stories introduce you to the characters and the world better than the book. Too late, I read some reviews that said not to start out the Newford books with The Onion Girl because it can be confusing. I wouldn't say that I was confused, but I did feel like something was missing. I felt like I didn't have a connection that the author assumed his readers had.

There are a lot of characters, but I didn't find them hard to keep track of. There are a few characters that are mentioned over and over, but never make an appearance. It's as if the reader is already supposed to know them. So I definitely recommend reading de Lint's other stories first, but The Onion Girl can definitely be read alone and still be understood and enjoyed.

The book concentrates on the character of Jilly. Jilly is in an accident that leaves her paralyzed, not a great experience for anyone, but especially not for an artist. She is also forced to confront her horrible past as she attempts to heal physically. She has the support of many, many friends who live in Newford and who are all involved in the artsy scene. I found it a little annoying that almost ALL of the characters are artsy. Can't a housewife, waitress, or business woman recognize and appreciate magic as much as poets, painters, and musicians?

Jilly's accident physically affects her in many ways, one of which she is suddenly able to visit the magic parallel world in her dreams. Many of her friends go there in her dreams or physically go there and her one comfort after the accident is that she can travel there. Although she visits there in a dream state, it's a real world that exists at the same time as "The World As It Is," the normal world. When she visits the magical world she meets many interesting creatures and characters. I enjoyed reading of her visits and thought that de Lint did a great job in creating an entire world that is original and unique.

I recommend this to adult lovers of fairytales and fantasy. There are many disturbing scenes about the abuse Jilly and other characters suffered as children. There's also several sexual scenes and bad language, so I don't recommend this to young adults or people who are sensitive about such things. However, even though there's so many disturbing things, the book is still full of hope and Jilly's strength is even more apparent. I'm giving the book three stars because although it was good, I don't think I'll ever read it again. It didn't hook me although I suspect it's because I wasn't properly introduced to the Newford characters. I'm definitely planning on reading Dreams Underfoot and maybe I'll change my mind after that. Anyone here read these books? What do you recommend I read next?

Other reviews:
things mean a lot

The Whiskey Rebels

The Whiskey Rebels
by: David Liss

Published: 2008

# of pages: 519

I started out loving this book, and I did enjoy it more than most the whole way through, but the last half of the book didn't grab my attention the same way as the first half did. I was thinking this would go on my favorite book list, but it didn't quite make it after all. It's a historical fiction (a genre I always enjoy) and I liked the two main characters, Captain Saunders and Joan, a lot. I ended up a little lost in some parts. I mainly understood what was going on, but sometimes I was confused as to how the characters jumped from one conclusion to another. I'm typically not easily confused while reading, so I don't particularly think it was me, but maybe I'm just out of practice reading intricate novels. ;-)

The story takes place in Philadelphia and New York City about a decade after the end of the Revolutionary War. There's two points of view, that of Captain Saunders, a spy for the patriots in the war who was accused of being a traitor and therefore ruined, and Joan, an ambitious woman who plans to write the first great American novel. Circumstances occur in their lives that lead them both to the same place at the same time. They are both true patriots who love America and want to see it blossom after the sacrifices they've both made. However, they have different ideas on the good of the nation.

I loved both characters. Captain Saunders is a Captain Jack Sparrow type character. A "scoundrel," but a lovable scoundrel. He's full of witty quips and comments, even in the midst of danger. Joan is outgoing and sharp, she's not afraid to take chances and experience new things, often in the name of gaining knowledge for her novel. She endures the worst things in the world, but comes out strong.

It was hard for me to have an opinion on who I thought was right and wrong in the book. I could see both points of view, but I couldn't say who I was rooting for. I also found this novel very interesting because it made me see that even after the Revolutionary War, things weren't perfect in America. There were still threats to true freedom and there were still patriots who weren't treated right and who felt like they fought for nothing, just like in every war since then. I guess I never thought about the fact that just because America won independence, didn't mean everything fell into place. People were just as unhappy with the government in the late 1700s as they are now. I suppose that's just the way of things, but I guess I have this textbook image in my mind of George Washington and the patriots making everything perfect after the war. Any problems with the government must have sprung up at a later time.

Liss based the story off of true historic events, but made his own twist with the main characters and the exact conspiracy that they are caught up in. But the national financial problems and whiskey rebellions really did happen. Also, many of the characters in the book were also real. So anyway, it's very fascinating for lovers of history and historical fiction. I recommend this to all adults who enjoy this genre!

Other Reviews:
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by: Shannon Hale

Challenges: TBR Challenge

Published: 2007

# of pages: 208

A very fun book! The main character, Jane, can't find a man that begins to compare to Mr. Darcy. More specifically, Mr. Darcy as played by Colin Firth in the BBC movie production. She's ready to give up on men when she's given a surprise change to visit what she calls Austenland, an estate in England that reenacts Austen novels. It's filled with actors and the customers must also dress, speak, and act as if they are really living in an Austen novel. It's a chance to see what P&P love is like in "real life."

The only thing I didn't like about this book was that I felt so awkward for Jane as she's acting in the pretend life. I could never do something like that, I'd feel so stupid. So I was reading and imagining how I would feel and act in her situation and just couldn't fathom it. However, other than that, I enjoyed it and I don't think everyone would feel the same. I admire Jane and how she has standards and sticks with them. I think it was a great concept that she continues to have standards, but also realizes that she doesn't need a man (Mr. Darcy) to make her happy or complete.

I recommend this novel to adults who enjoy a good romance, are Austen fans, or like an easy, quick read.

Other Reviews:
Bookfoolery and Babble
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The Woman in White

The Woman in White
by: Wilkie Collins

Challenges: TBR Challenge

Published: 1860

# of pages: 528

I was disappointed that it took me so long to read this book. I was reading some non-fiction books at the time and had a lot going on, but I think that affected my opinion of the book. I loved the first part and thought it was very well written and I was thoroughly hooked on the mystery. However, there comes a time in the novel where it feels like it should end...but it doesn't. After that it dragged for me. Although like I said, it may have been because I was already taking awhile to read it. But I think I would have been more motivated to pick it up and read if it hadn't been so slow.

The story is mainly told by Walter, an art instructor. Just before he goes to live on a private estate to tutor two women, he meets a mysterious woman dressed all in white on a dark road in the middle of the night. He helps the woman to town and finds her a carriage, but soon discovers that there are men from an asylum looking for her. The occurrence haunts him even after he goes to the beautiful estate to teach young ladies art skills.

Of course he falls in love with the beautiful, perfect, feminine Laura. Her half sister, Marian, is the opposite of Laura. Not so good looking, outspoken, outgoing, and more "masculine," but still very nice and considerate. These characters are a very interesting part of the novel. I found Laura's character to be very dull and washed out. She's the perfect woman for the time the novel was written, but she's treated like a child throughout the entire novel. Walter and Marian spend all of their time protecting her. Marian is a character that is full of life. So why the heck does Walter fall in love with Laura instead? I guess it's just because of her looks, or maybe he's really intimidated by Marian. It's awful because Marian is obviously not marriage material according to any of the men in the book. They admire her, but that's as far as it goes. I thought it was interesting that Collins wrote a character like Marian and I can't figure out if he's still sexist for making Laura the most "desirable" female or if he was trying to make a point that Laura was the dull, stupid one and Marian the smart one that actually thinks for herself. So maybe he wanted people to think that Laura shouldn't really be the attractive one???

Anyway, Walter soon discovers that he can't get away from the woman in white, even in his new situation. The woman becomes entangled with Laura and Marian and he soon finds himself investigating crimes and trying to save Laura from Sir Percival Glyde. There's a neat plot twist and I was impressed at the intricacy of the novel. However, like I said before, I became a little tired when Walter changes tactics from trying to save Laura to revenge on Sir Percival.

So I'm not really sure what I thought about this book. I liked it, but also found some of it to be very boring. I am also still frustrated at how Walter and Marian treated Laura and at Laura's character for being so weak. However, I still recommend this to lovers of the classics, Gothic tales, and mysteries.

The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees
by: Sue Monk Kidd

Challenges: TBR Challenge

Published: 2002

# of pages: 320

It's been a long time since I read this, but I'm going to go ahead and attempt to review it anyway. Overall I liked this book, but I was disappointed in the ending. I felt like Kidd tried to make it deeper than it really was. Also, there were parts of the book that I found plain weird, but it wasn't until the end that I thought it was unnecessary.

The story is about 14 year old Lily, who lives alone with her father after her mother's horrifying death. Her father hires a woman down the road, Rosaleen, to help out around the house and be a nanny for Lily. Rosaleen's dream is to have the right to vote, and when black people are given this right, she goes into town with Lily to register. Along the way she is cornered by a group of white men and is put in jail after she fights back. Thus begins Rosaleen and Lily's adventure as they follow a clue on the back of a picture of a black Madonna that is all Lily has left of her mother. Rosaleen and Lily meet 3 sisters who live in a big pink house and make honey to sell. As Lily lives there over a summer she learns more about her mother, the truth about her past, and the hard reality of racism.

Although it has its depressing moments, the book is overall uplifting and empowering. Like I said, I almost felt that too much of an effort was made at the end to give readers this emotion. I recommend this to adults who enjoy Southern literature or contemporary fiction.

The Truth-Teller's Tale

The Truth-Teller's Tale
by: Sharon Shinn

Challenges: YA Challenge, TBR Challenge

Published: 2007

# of pages: 304

Loved this book! It was more romantic than I expected a young adult book to be, but it was such a refreshing romance. I admit that I wasn't pulled into the story right away, I was actually a little put off by the characters and the way the story was being told, but soon I was very into the story and I really enjoyed the characters of Eleda and Gregory.

Eleda and Adele are twin sisters who find out that they are special in the world they live in. Eleda is a truth-teller, meaning she can't tell a lie or hide anything. Adele is a safe-keeper, meaning she can't tell secrets and keeps things to herself. Although the girls are opposites in many ways, they are very close to each other. The summer they are 17 a dancing master and his apprentice come to stay at the inn Eleda and Adele's parents own. They brings secrets with them and the girls must deal with these as well as the problem of their best friend, Roelynn, being forced to marry against her will.

Although the story is told in a way that is almost too young adult at times, I loved the romance and the world Shinn created. The story has a very interesting twist and it was neat to see how things come together. I recommend this to young adults and adults alike, especially if you enjoy a good, clean romance or a creative fairytale-like fantasy. There's a prequel to this book called The Safe-Keeper's Secret that I'm going to get around to reading one of these days, but The Truth-Teller's Tale is a standalone novel and it isn't necessary to continue reading or read the other book first.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
by: Maggie O'Farrell

Published: 2008

# of pages: 256

Fascinating book! It's disturbing at times, but I learned a lot and I enjoyed the way it was written. Word of advice: try to read this as quickly as you can. It won't be hard, it's a book that you can't put down once you start to read, but it's told by different narrators, one of which is in a journal form that is in fragments. It's hard to understand, but it all comes together and it's easier if you read it all at once or within a couple of days so that you can remember the different parts.

The story is about a few different women, but it hinges on Esme, who in the present time of the story is being released from a psychiatric hospital. Esme's great-niece, Iris, has power of attorney over Esme and must pick her up from the hospital and is responsible for finding the older woman a place to live. As the two women meet for the first time, family secrets start to unfold and the story of how Esme Lennox disappeared from the world forever is told.

I've learned about the psychiatric hospitals of the past in one of my college literature classes, but this taught me even more about the status of women in the early to mid 1900s. It's shocking that even in a more modern time like that, women were still treated terribly. I think it's important for everyone to remember that part of history, which is one reason why I recommend this book. Not long after reading the book I watched the movie "The Changeling." Which I also recommend watching after reading this book. It was a neat coincidence that I came into contact with two related stories so close together, but I'm glad I read and watched them.

There are disturbing images in the book and some adult situations although those are not very graphic or detailed. I recommend this to all adults, especially those interested in Gothic stories, the history of women, or just a good read.

Other Reviews:
Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

Princess Academy

Princess Academy
by: Shannon Hale

Challenges: YA Challenge

Published: 2007

# of pages: 336

I have to say, Shannon Hale is one of my favorite young adult authors. Princess Academy was original, fun, and definitely kept me hooked. I loved the world that Hale created for this novel and the character Miri was great.

Miri lives in a small mountain village that exists only to mine a special type of rock, linden. That's how all of the villagers make their living although it is a hard one. They are very poor, they work as long as the weather allows and then trade the rocks for supplies twice a year. Miri isn't allowed to work in the mines. Her father won't allow her to and she doesn't know why. Her mother died giving birth to her and her sister isn't too much older and also doesn't know the reason Miri can't even step foot into the rock quarry.

One day the villagers receive news that the prince is going to marry a girl...from their village. The astronomers read the signs that a girl from the small mountain town would be the princess. They must follow tradition and all the girls in the proper age range must go to a princess academy for a year to learn how to be a princess. Miri and her friends travel to the academy where a whole new world opens up to them. Miri does her best to excel at her studies since it's one thing she can do to feel useful to the village. She's torn between the desire to be chosen by the prince and to continue living with her family in the place she's always loved.

Miri shows a strength of character as she leads the other girls as disaster falls upon the academy. She's a great role model for young girls who read this novel. The story has a great pace and is filled with neat details and plenty of action. I definitely recommend this to all young adults and also to any adults who are interested in young adult books, especially the fantasy genre.

Practical Magic

Practical Magic
by: Alice Hoffman

Published: 2003

# of pages: 304

Whew! It's been forever since I've posted! I haven't read a whole lot of interesting books since February, but now I'm starting to pick up the pace again so I'm back to blogging. I read this one a long time ago, but I'm going to go ahead and do a short review.

I honestly didn't care for this book. I like the whole magical realism genre, I think it's very interesting. However, I thought that Practical Magic had too much unnecessary crudeness and language in it. The overall story is fun though. I remember enjoying the movie, I think that if you are interested in this book you might as well just watch the movie. It's different, but I think it's different in a good way.

That being said, the story is very girl power. It's about two sisters who grew up with their two aunts, who are known to be witches. The two sisters go their separate ways as they grow up and one has two daughters. When the daughters are teenagers an event happens that brings the other sister into town. The 4 women become close as they live together over a summer. The daughters start becoming women, all of them start to find their place in the world as they confront their pasts, and they all start falling in love with four different men. Of course, the two old aunts have to come and be a part of all of this bonding so they come along at the end of the summer and everyone is happy.

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Wife, mother, bookworm.
This is a place where you can read book reviews, discover links, and learn about the reading challenges in which I'm taking part.


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2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
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