City of Women

City of Women
By: David R. Gillham

Published: 2012

# of pages: 390

Official description:Whom do you trust, whom do you love, and who can be saved?  

It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women.Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew.
But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets. 
A high ranking SS officer and his family move down the hall and Sigrid finds herself pulled into their orbit.  A young woman doing her duty-year is out of excuses before Sigrid can even ask her any questions.  And then there’s the blind man selling pencils on the corner, whose eyes Sigrid can feel following her from behind the darkness of his goggles.
Soon Sigrid is embroiled in a world she knew nothing about, and as her eyes open to the reality around her, the carefully constructed fortress of solitude she has built over the years begins to collapse. She must choose to act on what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two. In this page-turning novel, David Gillham explores what happens to ordinary people thrust into extraordinary times, and how the choices they make can be the difference between life and death.
My opinion: I liked the concept of the book.  I liked the subject matter, but I didn't like the main character. It's very depressing to read about married women having affairs.  I know not everyone is perfect and I'm not judging them, but it's depressing all the same.  I especially didn't like that the main character has an affair with a man who doesn't show love or respect for her.  He blatantly uses her and treats her rudely.

However, I did like the main character's transition from an average German citizen to someone whose eyes are opened and takes action.  It was also neat how the story ended, with all the characters working together.

I recommend this to those who enjoy historical fiction, WWII fiction, and people who aren't bothered by some crude sexual descriptions.

Why I gave this book 3/5 stars:  Neat setting, good character progression, inspiring in some ways.  Also depressing, with unsatisfying relationships between characters.

Other reviews:
S. Krishna's Books

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


By: Ally Condie

Challenges: Dystopia Challenge 2013

Series: Matched

Published: 2010

# of pages: 366

Quote: "I hold onto my brother and for the first time in years he hugs me back, tight, the way he did when he was a little boy and I was the big sister he admired more than anything else in the world." -pg 203

Official description: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

My opinion: At first I wasn't overly impressed with this novel.  I didn't find it particularly original.  However, as all dystopian books are for me, it became very thought provoking.  I don't want to become too political on this blog, but recently I've found myself comparing the dystopian novels I've read to our current society and the new laws that are being passed/have been passed/will be passed.  The more rules and laws there are, the less freedom a society has.  Some laws are for the common good, but do we really want what's best for all of us at the cost of our freedom?  Cassia's society thought so, but as Cassia discovers, sometimes we don't want what's best for us.  And while some in a society will suffer, is that a reason to take away the freedom of everyone?

As Cassia thinks:
"Even if the fall of our Society would make life better for some, it would make it worse for others.  Who am I to try to change things, to get greedy and want more?  If our Society changes and things are different, who am I to tell the girl who would have enjoyed the safe protected life that now she has to have choice and danger because of me?" -pg 239
She also thinks about the "perfect" Society:
"They have perfected the art of giving us just enough freedom; just enough that when we are ready to snap, a little bone is offered and we roll over, belly up, comfortable and placated like a dog . . . They've had decades to perfect this; why am I surprised when it works on me again and again and again?" -pg 249

I also became impressed with the quality of writing Condie displays.  Cassia is a very thoughtful character and every other thing she thinks and says sounds like it came out of a book of quotes.  I also loved the poetry motif throughout the novel.
Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  High quality of writing, thought provoking, I liked the character of Cassia.  Not the most original (unfortunately young adult dystopian novels are everywhere now!).

Other reviews:
Book Nut
Bookfoolery and Babble
A Girl, Books and Other Things

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

50 States Challenge

I'm a geographer as well as a bookworm so this challenge is perfect for me!  

January 1 - December 31, 2013
The goal of this challenge is to read books that are set in each of the fifty states. Your books can be of any genre and any format (ie. paperback, ebook, audiobook, etc.). No short stories. Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are fine. (Re-read reviews must be written within the year 2013; you can not use old reviews.) 

Minnesota: Arms Wide Open  by: Patricia Harman
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina: The Kill Order  by: James Dashner
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia:  Fallout  by: Mark Ethridge

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What's in a Name Challenge

Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, read one book in each of the following categories:

A book with up or down (or equivalent): London Under  by: Peter Ackroyd
A book with something you'd find in your kitchen:  The Cutting Season  by: Attica Locke
A book with a party or celebration: A Feast for Crows  by: George R.R. Martin
A book with fire (or equivalent): Heat Wave  by: Richard Castle
A book with an emotion:
A book with lost or found (or equivalent: I Capture the Castle  by: Dodie Smith

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Dystopia Challenge 2013

About: The Dystopia Challenge is all about, well, dystopia. Read books set in dystopian settings, with totalitarian governments, or something more close-knit. The Dystopia Challenge includes Post-Apocalyptic themes as well.

Level: Contagion (15 books)

1.  Painting by Numbers  by: Jasper Fforde
2.  Scarlet  by: Marissa Meyer
3.  The Kill Order  by: James Dashner
4.  Ready Player One  by: Ernest Cline
5.  Breathe  by: Sarah Crossan
7.  The Stand  by: Stephen King
8.  The Road  by: Cormac McCarthy
9.  The Postman  by: David Brin

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2012 Review!

2012 was a year of books for me!  I read more than I have in years.  I completed 3 challenges: Dystopia Challenge, Once Upon a Time, and R.I.P.

In 2013 I'm hoping to read almost as many books as I did last year (I know I won't be able to read as many since I'm no longer nursing my youngest).  I'm also going to participate in more challenges and will hopefully update my blog more.

So here we go:

Challenges in which I participated:
Dystopia Challenge (finished 5 of 5)
Once Upon A Time VI (finished 5 of 5)
R.I.P. VII (finished 4 of 4)

My favorites in the order I read them:
The Sandalwood Tree  by: Elle Newmark
When You Reach Me  by: Rebecca Stead
Cinder  by: Marissa Meyer
The Snow Child  by: Eowyn Ivey
11/22/63  by: Stephen King
Neverwhere  by: Neil Gaiman
Sister  by: Rosamund Lupton
The Duggars: 20 and Counting  by: Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar
The Lies of Locke Lamora  by: Scott Lynch
The Language of Flowers  by: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Winter Sea  by: Susanna Kearsley
The Time Keeper  by: Mitch Albom
The Midwife of Hope River  by: Patricia Harmon
Shades of Grey  by: Jasper Fforde

Most recommended:
The Language of Flowers  by: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

# of books I read in 2012:
Up from 39 in 2011, 30 in 2010, 28 in 2009, & 48 in 2008
Down from 81 in 2007

Least favorite:
The Red Tree  by: Caitlin R. Kiernan (Horror, Fantasy)

Repeated authors:
Kelley Armstrong (2) (Women of the Underworld series)
Veronica Roth (2) (Divergent series)
Amanda Hocking (4) (Trylle series, Watersong series)
Rebecca Stead (2)
Neil Gaiman (2)
James Dashner (3) (Maze Runner series)
Chris Bohjalian (2)
Rosamund Lupton (2)
E.L. James (3) (Fifty Shades series)
Scott Lynch (2) (Gentleman Bastard series)
Caitlin R. Kiernan (2)
Patricia Harmon (2)

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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.


my read shelf:
Andrea's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Annual Goal

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
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