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Archive for March, 2012

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Challenge Check in #1

Posted by Caitie F on March 31, 2012


So we are a quarter through 2012, so I thought I would check in with all of the amazing participants! How are you doing with it? Are you 1/4 of the way done with your goal?

I…am not doing well. I have read one book and that is it. I need to work on it!

If you are not sure what you want to read next, make sure you check out the review post. There are some great reviews on there and I am really excited to read some of these books!

Share with us how you are doing and I hope you are all having fun!

Posted in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O’Melveny

Posted by Caitie F on March 26, 2012

Title: The Book of Madness and Cures
Author: Regina O’Melveny
Hardcover: 336
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Rating: +++

Summary from goodreads:

Gabriella Mondini is a rarity in 16th century Venice: a woman who practices medicine. Her father, a renowned physician, has provided her entrée to this all-male profession, and inspired in her a shared mission to understand the secrets of the human body.

Then her father disappears and Gabriella faces a crisis: she is no longer permitted to treat her patients, women who need her desperately, without her father’s patronage. She sets out across Europe to find where-and why-he has gone. Following clues from his occasional enigmatic letters, Gabriella crosses Switzerland, Germany and France, entering strange and forbidding cities. She travels to Scotland, the Netherlands, and finally to Morocco. In each new land she probes the mystery of her father’s flight, and open new mysteries of her own. Not just mysteries of ailments and treatments, but ultimate mysteries of mortality, love, and the timeless human spirit.


If you have been looking for a historical fiction story that has not been told time and time again, look no further than this book. It is a lovely debut about a young woman’s search for her father and finding more of herself along the way.

There is a rich look at Europe and parts of Africa in the 1590s. Gabriella’s journey takes her all over and the beautiful imagery had me longing for Europe, especially Scotland where I visited years ago.  The richness of the setting and encounters with all of the different people made it a book that was very easy to get lost in.

I also loved Doctor Mondini, as Gabriella prefers to be called. She is a brilliant doctor, even if those in Venice have refused to let her practice anymore due to her sex. She will not let this stop her as she travels and is always looking to learn more about ailments and healing and is willing to help others whenever she can. Her defiance of typical gender roles made for an engrossing read.

I am only giving it a “get this from the library” because I felt like it dragged. Between the letters from her father and her descriptions of the ailments, the book slowed down considerably. It was interesting reading the “ailments” and “cures” from today’s perspective, yet I think it could have been much more seamless at times.

That said, if you are a fan of historical fiction and are looking for something different, this is a great choice!

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A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Posted by Caitie F on March 25, 2012

TItle: A Million Suns
Author: Beth Revis
Hardcover: 386 pages
Pub Date:  January 10, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. It’s been three months. In that time, Amy has learned to hide who she is. Elder is trying to be the leader he’s always wanted to be. But as the ship gets more and more out of control, only one thing is certain: They have to get off the ship.


I absolutely loved the first book in this series, Across the Universe. So much so that I didn’t just review it, I told you Ten Reasons Why You Had To Read It. So if you still haven’t read that book, go back and see why you should. I actually somehow loved this book even more.

I have another ten reasons then you need to read this book, but I will just highlight some of the best aspects. The rest of this review will have spoiler to the first book.

Amy’s struggle continues is a way that feels real. So often, characters seem to forget the bad that has happened and finds other motivations. Not Amy. She is still dealing with her parents being frozen and visits them almost everyday. When she makes decisions, that is one of her first considerations. It may make her seem stubborn, but I think it just shows a character that actually acts how a real person acts.

She also doesn’t forget the bad that has happened on the ship. In the first book, a character named Luthor attempts to rape her. It is only an attempt. She still struggles with it in this book. She si scared of him, she is scared to tell anyone what happened, even Elder. She can’t stand to be near him, especially since he still tries to harm her and has raped another young woman when he failed to rape Amy. When she finds out about the other woman, she tries to help her in anyway. Gives her support, even let’s her get a little revenge. I am not saying she deals with it in an ideal way, but I just find the entire story of it to be very powerful. It may be triggering to others who have had that happen to them, but it is one of the most impactful handles of the situtation in YA since Speak.

That isn’t the only situation handled with beauty and power. Elder has decided to take everyone off of the drug that was controlling them. As one can imagine, not everyone is grateful. Suddenly, people don’t want to go to work. They are depressed. They are angry. They can finally do what they want and a rebellion starts to rise. Elder has a lot of decisions to make as a leader and he does the best that he can. He does a lot right and some things wrong, and he is a young man trying to find a balance.

Even the relationship between Amy and Elder feels like it is realistic and not just s story romance. Amy is always thinking about wanting a choice in the matter. She has to decide if she should forgive him for what he has done previously (unplugging her in the first place). She has to forgvie for things he says and does in this books. She has to tfigure out if she really likes him, or if it is jsut because he is the only one her age on the entire ship. Everything is a choice and she uses her power of choice well.

I really love the characters in this book, but the plot is exciting, the writing is very good, and the mystery of who is trying to sabotage everything is intriguing. I figured it out early, but I don’t think everyone will.

Overall, this is a great book and I know I will be reading the next book in the series when it comes out January 2013!

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The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Posted by Caitie F on March 23, 2012

Title: The Dark Tower
Authors: Stephen King
Hardcover: 845 pages
Pub Date:  Sept 21, 2004
Publisher: Scribner
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

Roland’s ka-tet remains intact, though scattered over wheres and whens. Susannah-Mia has been carried from the Dixie Pig (in the summer of 1999) to a birthing room—really a chamber of horrors—in Thunderclap’s Fedic; Jake and Father Callahan, with Oy between them, have entered the restaurant on Lex and Sixty-first with weapons drawn, little knowing how numerous and noxious are their foes. Roland and Eddie are with John Cullum in Maine, in 1977, looking for the site on Turtleback Lane where “walk-ins” have been often seen.

They want desperately to get back to the others, to Susannah especially, and yet they have come to realize that the world they need to escape is the only one that matters.


It took me so long to finish this series. So long in fact, that there is another book coming. It doesn’t add anything to the end of the series and is more like the fourth book and is a prequel. So in a way I am glad I waited so that I know there is more coming in April!

This book also took me a long time to read. It started off great, but then dragged for about 100 pages (the only reason it is getting four stars and not five) and it took me longer than a week to read that chunk because I wasn’t excited. Luckily, it picked up and when i got to the end it was hard to put down —  I read the last 300 pages in just a few days!

This is a huge epic series so you would expect it to have a huge epic ending. And you would be right. Stephen King was back in the story which I still was not crazy about. I understand why and think it sort of fits…but at the same time it still felt egotistical and tacky (and do not get me started on his letter at the end. I love the guy, but he was kind of a jerk. And a lia)

But I digress. This story has always been an epic journey, but it has always be grounded in great characters to root for, terrifying bad guys to root against, and a look into humanity that is rarely done so well in fiction.

I feel like I knew these characters so well, especially those in the ka-tet. I won’t give details, but you will probably cry during this book. And don’t tell me that was a spoiler because if you have read any of these books, you knew not all could survive. With the sadness also came beauty and wonder…and some comic relief.

I will not give away the ending, but I actually really liked it. I have seen many instances of people not liking it, but I thought it was appropriate and  really well done.

All in all, it was a great ending to a series that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

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The Hunger Games Soundtrack

Posted by Caitie F on March 22, 2012

So, who is seeing the movie tonight? I adored the books and think the movie looks amazing! I won’t see it until Sunday, but Jason and I went out and got the soundtrack a couple days ago.

I listened to it today and it was phenomenal. I rated every song to my Top Rated list except for three (which, for a soundtrack is GREAT for me).

I don’t want to do a track by track review, but here are some random toughts:

The Taylor Swift songs are amazing. I love Taylor anyway, but these songs are beautiful and fit the movie and its themes so well! Listened to each of those several times.

The Maroon 5 song is also great. Love their music always, but Adam Levine’s beautiful voice just fits the tone of the movie so well!

Other than that, the best songs are from the people I have never heard of. “Daughter’s Lament” felt like it was written by Suzanne Collins specifically for this story. It was stunning and sad and had so much beauty, just like the book.

“Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” was another folky song that just fit so well.

Overall, it is an excellent soundtrack, one of the best I have heard in a really long time! If you are still unsure, check out the samples on iTunes. I bet you will like it!


Posted in Movie | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Posted by Caitie F on March 18, 2012

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Hardcover: 313 pages
Pub Date: Jan 10, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books
Rating” ++++++ (means go read this book right this moment if you haven’t)


Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind


I bought this book the day it was released but I took my time to read it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read it, it is just that John Green is my favorite author and a world where there are no new John Green books to read is a little more sad. But I couldn’t wait any longer and I had to pick it up.

This book shows again that John Green is not only the master of YA books, but a writer that all writers can learn a lot from. The characters are so well-developed. I knew exactly who Hazel, Augustus, Isaac and Hazels’s parents were. In only a little over 300 pages I understood their motivation, their thoughts, and their actions. They were complete and imperfect, but their imperfections made them perfect characters. Yes, Augustus is blunt and conceited, but I could see why he became like that and it didn’t bother me.

John Green is also a master of prose. I kept adding post-it flag to great passages. I haven’t marked a book in any way (other than books for school) ever. But I had to here and I want to share with you some of the brilliance. These may contain minor spoilers, but nothing that really gives anything away

“It feels like we were all wounded in your battle”

Anyone who has lost someone to any illness can relate to this and it expresses this sentiment perfectly.

“You are not a grenade, not to us. Thinking about you dying makes us sad, Hazel, but you are not a grenade. You are amazing.”

Her parents were actually one of the best parts of the books. Watching their struggle along with Hazel and Augustus showed a more full view of cancer and all of its victims. I cannot imagine watching your child go through something like this. I do not want to compare my eye problems with cancer, but I can now understand a little more of what my parents went through and I want to go to Ohio to give them a hug. Hazel’s parents’ journey is just as impactful and beautiful as hers and the book would not be nearly as good without it.

“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin,”

I loved that they were able to go to Amsterdam, but what really blew me away with this line is that in two little sentences that don’t seem to matter, John Green conveyed an ingrained fact of human existence. I could write pages about this one idea, but pI would rather let you think about it yourself. It is just another example of how a YA novel can have ideas that spark conversation and reflection just as well as any other books.

“The thing about dead people…The thing is you sound like a bastard if you don’t romanticize them, but the truth is. . . complicated I guess.”

There is so much sadness in this book, but also so much beauty in writing and in the world. It doesn’t sugar coat anything. If you read it, you probably will cry. I didn’t too much because every time I started, I put it down. It was sad, but it was real. It was sad, but there was so much hope and love.

I have loved everything John Green has written, but this is his best book yet.

Please, read this book if you haven’t.

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City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Posted by Caitie F on March 13, 2012

Title: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Hardcover: 453 pages
Pub Date: March 25, 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?


This review will contain spoilers for the first book in the series

I really enjoyed City of Bones and I was very excited to read the next book in the series. My expectations were high and I was not disappointed.

I was pleasantly surprised with how Clare handled the Jace/Clary relationship. Finding out that someone you are attracted to is your sibling can’t be easy and I don’t think the feelings would disappear instantly. I am afraid it would turn that way and enjoyed watching both characters try to resist it all and figure out how to become siblings. Speaking of strange relationships, Simon is still an interesting one. He is the guy Clary feels like is her brother but wants to be more. And it is weird and uncomfortable (at least to me). But his arc in this book is great and I have a lot more interest in his character for the coming books.

There are two aspects that keep me reading in regards to the world building and the plot

1. What Shadowhunters do. The runes are awesome. The weapons are awesome. Jace and Clary’s special powers are like nothing I have read and I love it. I want to know more and see more. It is so different from other fantasy ideas and almost every fantasy creature exists in the world. There are limitless possibilities and watching everything trying to work with and against each other adds another excited and unpredictable layer.

2. Valentine. Holy crap what an awesome villain. He is Voldemort level scary and evil. He is willing to hurt his own kids or let others hurt them. He is manipulative and had this Shadowhunter supremacy that will remind any reader of a certain dictator. I never know what he is doing or how far he will go which makes every page more enthralling.

This book was awesome. I want to dive into the next one, but I have a few more books on my list to read before I get to it.

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TSS: Books Reviewed by Imprint

Posted by Caitie F on March 11, 2012

If you are looking this on the page and not a reader, you may have noticed that there is a new page ono this blog called “Books Reviewed by Imprint”

I have paid attention to imprints since I first found out they existed and wanted to make it easier for you to understand what it means and how it can help you find books you will love.

First of all, What is an imprint? Most of the large publishers are split up into smaller, more specialized groups. Instead of something being done just by Penguin or Simon & Schuster, there are groups that specialize in Teen, Women’s Fiction, Mystery, Literary. Some of the imprints cover it all, but the editors have a style and a taste. But the short answer is that is is a smaller, specialized part of a larger company.

Why is this important? To casual readers, they don’t. If they have certain authors they like and don’t want to explore new authors and even genres, they are easy to ignore. But if you are looking for something new, books in an imprint usually have similar styles, topics, and quality. If you see you have really enjoyed books in a certain imprint, you most likely will enjyo many others.

It isn’t true for all imprints. Grand Central Publishing is a very large imprint of Hachette Book Group USA and they cover a lot (as do the main imprints of Random House, Simon and Schuster, etc that are named after the publisher). But you can find something out about the books in those imprints too. They tend to be books that publishers are going to really put money and publicity power behind.

Right now, I only have the last several months of book reviews in there, but I will be going back and adding ALL the books I have reviewed on here. I hope you can find this feature useful and it will make you think about imprints a little more when you have no idea what to read next.

Posted in Blogging | 2 Comments »

A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer Dubois

Posted by Caitie F on March 10, 2012

Title: A Partial History of Lost Causes
Author: Jennifer Dubois
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publication date:  March 20, 2012
Publisher:  Random House
Rating: +++

Summary from goodreads:

In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest. With his renowned Cold War–era tournaments behind him, Aleksandr has turned to politics, launching a dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. He knows he will not win—and that he is risking his life in the process—but a deeper conviction propels him forward. And in the same way that he cannot abandon his aims, he cannot erase the memory of a mysterious woman he loved in his youth.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison is on an improbable quest of her own. Certain she has inherited Huntington’s disease—the same cruel illness that ended her father’s life—she struggles with a sense of purpose. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father had written to the young Aleksandr Bezetov, she makes a fateful decision. Her father had asked the Soviet chess prodigy a profound question—How does one proceed against a lost cause?—but never received an adequate reply. Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.


It is always hard to talk about a book that was just okay. To be honest, if the writing had not been as spectacular as it was (and it was absolutely spectacular) the book probably would have gotten only a rating of two.

I never really cared about any characters in this book. I loved that they were so well-defined, but  was never drawn to them. It didn’t help that Aleksandr’s early life was not very interesting. Once he started being political, he was suddenly more interesting because it felt like he actually believed in something, where before, he just felt bored. It was also hard to get interested in Cold War Russia. There were points that the horrors the government was behind were horrific, but most of the time it just wasn’t engaging.

Irina was a much more engaging character. How would you react if you knew you were going to start to die in the next few years? She is faced with that and getting into her head was very moving and thought-provoking. Yet she just got repetitive. I would feel sorry for her and her struggle, then say “Ok, get on with it, you said that ten times before”.

It was also jarring going between first and third person every chapter. I had to get used to it every time the chapter changed and it pulled me away from the book.

I am not saying it is a bad book at all. It just wasn’t the kind of book for me. If the summary makes it sound like something you would like, give it a try!

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The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau

Posted by Caitie F on March 9, 2012

Title: The Book of Jonas
Author: Stephen Dau
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: blue rider press (Penguin)
Publication date: March 15, 2012
Rating: +++++

Summary (from back of book)

Jonas is fifteen when his family is killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Muslim country. With the help of an international relief organization, he is sent to America, where he struggles to assimilate-foster family, school, a first love. Eventually, he tells a court-mandated counselor and therapist about a U.S. soldier, Christopher Henderson, responsible for saving his life on the tragic night in question. Christopher’s mother, Rose, has dedicated her life to finding out what really happened to her son, who disappeared after the raid in which Jonas’ village was destroyed. When Jonas meets Rose, a shocking and painful secret gradually surfaces from the past, and builds to a shattering conclusion that haunts long after the final page.

Told in spare, evocative prose, The Book of Jonas is about memory, about the terrible choices made during war, and about what happens when foreign disaster appears at our own doorstep.


There are some books that stay in your mind long after you read them. They are so beautiful and painful that they keep returning time and time again. The Book of Jonas is one of those books.

While this is Jonas’ story, it is also the soldier that saved his life’s story, and it is the story of the soldier’s mother. These three stories are intertwined with one another in a way that only shows the full picture to the reader a little at a time. This stylistic choice is a major reason for why this book stuck with me for so long. Watching Jonas remember what happened and watching his journey to take responsibility for his actions and lack thereof is truly watching a character come to age.

This book feels so current and it will resonate with many people. It shows what the war can be like to the innocent civilians in the Middle East. It demonstrates the soldier internal struggles with revenge and grief. It gives insight to what it can be like for the loved ones at home that have lost someone and can never really know what happened.

This powerful and stunning debut novel is worth reading. Do yourself a favor and go pick it up next week.

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