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Archive for March, 2013

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Posted by Caitie F on March 30, 2013

Title: The Language of Flowers 10032672
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Hardcover: 322 pages
Pub Date: August 2011
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Review:

This book was our latest book club pick and I am really glad we read it. It is the kind of book i may not have read on my own and I would have missed out on an excellent read.

Victoria is one of my favorite characters in contemporary fiction. She is broken, yet has an inner strength that she doesn’t really seem to see. She is not traditionally educated, but is very bright. Yet again, she doesn’t really see it even though many around her can see it. There are times she is very frustrating, yet you can understand her decisions even if they seem horrible. It is a sign of a very well-developed character.

The book is told is a different style than usual – it alternates from the present to the past. It is a great way to find out what happened to her in the foster care system and specifically in Elizabeth’s house. It also makes it really hard to put the books down because there are two stories that really suck you in. While reading about the present day, the reader really wants to know more about her past, especially since there are hints sprinkled throughout the present, but you can never really connect the dots.

This was a perfect book club pick since there was just so much to discuss: family, the foster care system, mental health, forgiveness, love and so much more. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much without the discussion. It is the kind of book that only improves when you talk to others about it.

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Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Posted by Caitie F on March 28, 2013

Title: Shades of Earth10345937
Author: Beth Revis
Hardcover: 369 pages
Pub Date: January 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed’s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

Review:

The Across the Universe series is one of my favorites. I wanted to run out and read it the moment it came out, but stopped myself. Once I finished it, it would be over. The end of a series is always bittersweet, especially a series that you love. I just had to know what happened to Amy, Elder, and everyone else, so I broke down and got it.

It was SO good. I can’t decide if it was my favorite book in the series because the first one blew me away, but this was very very close.

The star of this book was Amy. She is what makes me love the series so much and she did not disappoint at all. She was really torn in this book between her family “Earthborns” and Elder and those on the ship “Shipborns”. She has gotten to know those on the ship for three months so they aren’t the other anymore, yet she missed her parents so much and wants to be with them. It comes to her as a shock when her father treats the Shipborns like they are lesser and shows prejudice against them and Elder. She has to make some hard decisions and really try to do what she feels is right. The final part of her journey and growth is wonderful to read and it solidifies her as one of my favorite characters of all time.

That isn’t to say Elder isn’t important – the reader is in his head for half the book. He is also struggling to work with the military and his people. He clashes with Amy’s father many times and refuses to be treated lesser because of his age or where he was born. He is a leader and he really fits that role in this book.

This book is also the most science fiction of the series, which is a huge plus. There is no more sci-fi lite. This has a new planet, monsters, space weapons and other life forms. A lot has happened while Godspeed was out in space.

Life and death is on the line so this was a very stressful book to read. I cried a couple times – Beth Revis is brutal! I had to read it in two sittings just so that I wouldn’t have the stress of not knowing what happened.

This was a perfect conclusion to a fantastic series. I am very excited to see what Beth Revis writes next and I am sure I will be buying it!

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Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen

Posted by Caitie F on March 26, 2013

Title: Beautiful Days 9490038
Author: Anna Godbersen
Hardcover: 368 pages
Pub Date: Sept 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

After a month in New York, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur are small-town girls no longer. They spend their afternoons with Astrid Donal at the Greys’ lush Long Island estate and their nights in Manhattan’s bustling metropolis. But Letty’s not content to be a mere socialite. She is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams–no matter the cost.

Cordelia is still reeling from the death of her father at the hands of Thom Hale, the man she thought she loved. Now she is set to honor Darius Grey’s legacy . . . and take her revenge.

Promised to Cordelia’s half brother, Astrid is caught up in a world of dazzling jewels and glittering nights–and the sparkle is blinding. Charlie Grey is a gangster playing a dangerous game; and for Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty, the stakes could be deadly.

Review:

I am always a little leary of the second book in a series. So often it feels like it is just set up for the final book in a series. I am so happy to say not only was this book just set up, it was actually even better than the first book in the series.

The characters grew up in their first month in New York City…but not so much that they aren’t still interesting. The girls still tend to think of themselves first, so much so that I wanted to yell at them through the book. That isn’t to say they are unlikable – I love all three of them – they are just 17-19 year-old women who feel like they are at the top of the world. Sometimes they forget about others.

I absolutely love the balance in this book. There is romance – and really great romance, but they aren’t just about finding a man. They have ambitions of their own and those struggles make it a unique story.

Cordelia became my favorite character in this book. She does not let her past mistakes keep her down. She is strong, yet vulnerable at the same time. She also puts herself into some dangerous situations, but it shows that she can’t be cooped up and watched all the time.

This series is so much fun to read. I really need to get the last book and find out how their stories end,

 

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Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Posted by Caitie F on March 22, 2013

Title: Mistborn243272
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Softcover: 657 pages
Pub Date: July 2006
Publisher: Tor
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

Once, a hero arose to save the world. A young man with a mysterious heritage courageously challenged the darkness that strangled the land.

He failed.

For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and even the Lord Ruler himself. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn

Review

I am a big fan of fantasy, but there are so many really long ones that I don’t read it as often as I would like to. This book has been in my house for over a year and I have heard such great things about the book so I picked it up.

It is the best fantasy book i have ever read. I mean EVER. Better than any of the individual A Song of Fire and Ice books. I read it very quickly and hated having to put it down to do things like eat, sleep and work.

It is the kind of book that sucks you in. It feels like you really know Vin and the rest of the crew – but especially Vin. You get what they are doing and why. When Vin starts to learn about her  abilities, the reader feels the excitement and fear. When she rushes in to help others even though it is dangerous, the reader wants to cheer her on out loud. When Kaiser hides part of his plans, all the reader wants to know is what his end game really is.Vin is the real star and watching her grow from a, untrusting thief to a member of the team and strong Mistborn is a wonderful journey.

Each time I stopped reading, I had to remember that the rest of the world didn’t care about what was going on in the story. It stays in your thoughts and in your dreams.

There was more than just an amazing set of characters, the plot was also fantastic. There was a lot of action and fighting, but it was really easy to follow what was happening. In many fantasy books, it is hard to follow those scenes, but the way the magic works and the way the book is written makes it all easy to follow. It sounds like something little, but it increased my enjoyment of the book a lot!

If you like fantasy at all and have not read this book yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Pick it up for those you love that love fantasy too. They will thank you for it. It may be long, but it goes so fast and is worth it.

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TSS: Bad Reading Week

Posted by Caitie F on March 17, 2013

I did not get much reading done this last week or so. Last weekend we traveled to the Midwest for a Bar Mizvah and Jason’s side of the family and birthdays on mine. It was a lovely but whirlwind trip and i had no time to read. We came back on Monday, and from Wednesday-Friday was home sick with a terrible terrible cold. 

I wish I could read when I am sick, but it just doesn’t work out. I am finally not contagious and am eager to get back to work. Missing several days is a pain btu my wonderful coworkers helped out a lot. 

I started a great book Friday and am going to finished it by tomorrow. It is an odler book but I am so excited to review it this week! 

My pile from the library is large and two of them finish series that I love. I am sad to see them end, but am glad there is a conclusion! 

I have so many books to look forward to that I hate it when I can’t read much. Hopefully, I will stay healthy and be able to get a lot of reading done the rest of this month.

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A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee

Posted by Caitie F on March 15, 2013

Title: A Thousand Pardons
Author: Jonathan Dee
Hardcover: 224 pages
Pub Date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Random House
Rating:  +++

Summary from goodreads:

Once a privileged and loving couple, the Armsteads have now reached a breaking point. Ben, a partner in a prestigious law firm, has become unpredictable at work and withdrawn at home—a change that weighs heavily on his wife, Helen, and their preteen daughter, Sara. In one afternoon, Ben’s recklessness takes a turn, and everything the Armsteads have built together unravels.

Thrust back into the working world, Helen finds a job in PR and relocates with Sara from their home in upstate New York to an apartment in Manhattan. There, Helen discovers she has a rare gift: She can convince arrogant men to admit their mistakes, spinning crises into second chances. Yet redemption is more easily granted in her professional life than in her personal one.

As she is confronted with the biggest case of her career, the fallout from her marriage, and Sara’s increasingly distant behavior, Helen must face the limits of accountability and her own capacity for forgiveness.

Review:

When I saw that this book was compared to Jonathan Frazen, I was a little leary. While I think Frazen has a good writing style, I really disliked the characters.

And in that respect, this was very comprable. Helen was irritating, Benjamin was a little pathetic, and their daughter was a bratty teenager. I mean a really bratty teenager. I didn’t want to see anything in her perspective and every time it switched to her, I was instantly annoyed.

Yet switching perspective between the characters made the book so much more interesting and a better read. If it had been just Helen or just Benjamin, I think it would have been harder to understand what was really going on, even though it would have been easier to understand their motivations. I felt like I never really knew any of the characters.

What saved this book and made me finish it was the writing and the style. I really enjoyed how Dee told the story and the way he described everything. It was really compelling and held my interest when the characters and plot were only okay. To me, that is the sign of someone who knows that craft of writing.

If you are a fan of Franzen’s work, this is a book for you!

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Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke

Posted by Caitie F on March 12, 2013

Title: Swimming at Night
Author: Lucy Clarke
Hardcover: 384 pages
Pub Date: March 13, 2013
Publisher: Touchstone
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

Katie’s world is shattered by the news that her headstrong and bohemian younger sister, Mia, has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Bali. The authorities say that Mia had jumped—that her death was a suicide.

Although they hadn’t spoken to one another since Mia suddenly left on an around-the-world trip six months earlier, Katie refuses to accept that her sister would have taken her own life. Distraught that they never made peace, Katie leaves behind her orderly, sheltered life in London and embarks on a journey to find out the truth. With only the entries of Mia’s tattered travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life, and—page by page, country by country—begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death…

Review:

Have you ever read a book and felt like you were the perfect audience for the book? Like the book was written for someone just like you? That is how I felt about this book.

Even thought the book starts with Mia’s death, it is told from both perspectives as Katie visits all the places that Mia has been. Mia and Katie are amazing young women. They are so different, but they are each strong and individuals. They are smart, but in different ways. It also so great to see how differently they acted when in the same exact places. They are both full and complex and the reader really gets into their mind.

There is a great mystery in the book too. As you read more and more about Mia, you start to wonder if she might have killed herself, if it was murder, or if there was an accident. It isn’t clear and there are clues and hints in in all directions. IT had me guessing until the end.

The side characters are all fantastic and interesting too. From Katie’s fiancee, to Mia’s best friend, they all add something to the women and their story, thought not always in a good way.

This book is such a fantastic book that looks at family, love, and lost from many different directions. It is a truly wonderful book!

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Two Mini Reviews!

Posted by Caitie F on March 7, 2013

it is that time again – the time where I have read some books that I don’t have as much to say. So here are two shorter reviews that are for older books!

Title: A Room With a View120482
Author: E. M. Forster
Softcover: 240 pages
Pub Year: 1908
Rating: ++

Summary from goodreads:

A charming young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch, faints into the arms of a fellow Britisher when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Attracted to this man, George Emerson—who is entirely unsuitable and whose father just may be a Socialist—Lucy is soon at war with the snobbery of her class and her own conflicting desires. Back in England, she is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future: she is forced to choose between convention and passion.

Short review:

The writing in this book was fine, but there are much better books from this time period about similar subjects. The book was good enough until the end which was abrupt. The book seemed to drag along, but the writing was so good that I didn’t really mind, until the end where things just came together nicely and from nowhere. The main character makes this big decisions about herself and women/life in general, then it doesn’t even matter.

I read it because it is in the 1001 Books…book. There are three others by the author and I hope those are better. That said, I did love George and his father who questioned class differences and how women were treated. This aspect made the book worth reading and gave insight into history.

 

Title: One for the Money6853
Author: Janet Evanovich
Softcover: 320 pages
Pub Year: 1994
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: +

Short summary from me:

Stephanie Plum is unemployed and desperate, so she starts working for her cousin’s bail bonding company, but not just to file. Instead, she is going to bring in people who missed their court date. She has to go after some dangerous men, including a cop that is wanted for murder that she has a history with.

Short review:

When I got this book from the library blind date shelf, I figured I had to read it. I like to know what is popular, and this series is a smash hit.

And I don’t really get why. It is over dramatic. and over written. I live near Trenton and I don’t need that much description of the area! I doubt anyone who doesn’t live in the area care about where exactly in Hamilton she found a guy. There was so much over description of everything and it was all stuff that didn’t matter.

I found the main character irritating, stupid, and trashy.  I just didn’t care about her at all.

I will not be reading any more books in this series. The end of my book had summaries of the first seven books in the series and they all are the same except who she might end up with. It is not a series for me ar all

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Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Posted by Caitie F on March 6, 2013

Title:  Clockwork Prince 10025305
Author: Cassandra Clare
Hardcover: 502 pages
Pub Date: Dec 6, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling.

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Review:

I wanted to read this book before the next one comes out and I found it one thing is very true: I enjoy this series so much more than The Mortal Instruments. Now, I like that series too, but there is something about having Shadowhunters and friends in the Victorian age that makes it more fun to read. I feel like you can learn more about who the Shadowhunters are in general – especially how they treat women – and the setting and scenery is just that much more exciting.

Tessa is a good character, but it is the side characters that truly shine.  Jem is now tied with Magnus Bane as my favorite character in the series. Will is less irritating towards the end of the book and learning about his past makes it all make sense. The addition of two Lightwoods also brings in some conflict and shows more of the Shadowhunter world.

The romance in this book felt more realistic than in any of the others. There are many relationships and I actually cared about all of them. Each of these relationships and issues within the relationships has consequences that are easy to see and add to the story. Personally, I love where it all ended up and am nervous about the next book.

This is a great addition to the story and I am so excited for the last book in this series. It has great heroes, a terrifying villan, and a story that is impossible to put down!

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Top Ten Series I’d Like To Start But Haven’t Yet – Top Ten Tuesday

Posted by Caitie F on March 5, 2013

I don’t tend to do any of these, but I love the one today, so I thought I would put up a simple list of the top ten series I need to start! This is hosted by the amazing The Broke and the Bookish

1. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I devoured The Uglies series, so why haven’t I started this one yet?

2. Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde.

They are mysteries with literary characters. Need I say any more?

3. The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa

I am not a fan of books about faeries, but I have heard this one is fantastic, so I want to try

4. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Just somehow missed this one and need to change that

5.  Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

It looks like my kind of series!

6. The Kingfiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

My husband read it and loved it and I think it looks wonderful

7. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

This has been recommended to me multiple times, I need to start it!

8. The Passage by Justin Cronin

They are long books, but I love the idea of this series

9. The Girl Who Circumvented Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne Valente

I know this author can write and it is the kind of setting I would love

10. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Everyone I know who has read this loves it.

 

What do you want to read from this list? What have you read? What should I go and read right now?

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