Crossing Washington Square

Monday, August 31, 2009

This second novel by Joanne Rendell, Crossing Washington Square, was such an enjoyable and smart read. I flew through the book, and it truly reminded me of why I love contemporary women's fiction so much! It did this not just because I loved this book itself but also because of the interesting discussions about contemporary fiction that take place within the story.

The two main characters are each female literature professors, at the fictitious Manhattan U, who are on opposite ends of the literary spectrum. Rachel Grey is a young, animated professor still working towards tenure. Her recently published book explored the relationship between the work of Jane Austen and contemporary women's fiction. Diana Monroe, on the other hand, is more serious, already tenured, and studies the works of Sylvia Plath. She and Rachel immediately dislike each other and maintain a tense relationship. The tension is further heightened when a charming and attractive visiting professor from Harvard arrives and gives both Rachel and Diana flattering attention. Then, without realizing the other is going, Rachel and Diana each volunteer to chaperone a study abroad trip to London. While there they are confronted with a situation with one of their students in which they have to work together and end up learning a lot more about the other.

My thoughts on this book can be described perfectly by the quote by Nicole Kraus on the cover of the book: "A charming, witty, and cerebral novel." This novel was fun, engaging, and smart. Each of the characters, despite their differences, was easily relatable. They each experience some of their own struggles, but they were great examples of strong, confident women and left me feeling empowered as a woman as well. I love when, while reading, I feel like I am cheering on the characters. These are some of the wonderful things about women’s literature and are also discussed in the book; Rachel and Diana get into heated debates about the merits of popular women’s fiction and these are some of the arguments Rachel gives. These discussions also piqued my interest in the subject and reinforced my desire to take a class in literature.

For those who enjoy popular women’s fiction, Jane Austen, books about colleges or professors, or even just discussions about books in general, this novel is a gem. The plot was well paced and continuously moved forward, engaging the reader throughout. The setting is the same as in Rendell’s first novel, The Professor’s Wives’ Club, and a couple characters from that book are mentioned in passing, but this is a stand-alone novel.

I am very thankful to the author, Joanne Rendell, for sending me a copy of the book to review. This was after I had already planned on purchasing the book anyway (which I will still do to proffer my support) and did not affect my review. (Just to put that out there!) Joanne will also be here for an interview very soon so stay tuned for that! Oh, also check out her website and She has posted some posts on her blog about the issure regarding popular women's fiction not being respected as literature and has linked to other articles about this as well.


One more thing! Joanne has been kind enough to provide me with an extra autographed copy of her book (being released September 1, 2009) to give away to one lucky reader!!

To earn an entry just leave a comment with an e-mail where I can reach you.

Extra Entries (optional)
+1 if you become a follower of this blog
+2 if you are already a follower of this blog
+1 if you blog about this giveaway
+1 if you follow me on twitter

Residents of U.S. and Canada only
Giveaway will go through September 14, 2009

The Sunday Salon

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I've had a couple really slow reading weeks! I'm hoping it's starting to pick up, though, especially with getting more settled into my new school schedule. Today I'm reading Crossing Washington Square by Joanne Rendell which I'm loving! I'm hoping to use my "sunday salon" time to finish it tonight (even though I just started reading it last night) but I think I may be able to! I will also have a giveaway of a copy of the book that Ms. Rendell sent me for that purpose and an upcoming interview! But you'll find out about all that soon enough anyway.

The only other book I read (and finished) this week was Tricks by Ellen Hopkins. If you haven't checked out my review yet, please do so. I'd be interested in hearing what other people's thoughts on the subject I wrote about are.

I joined another challenge this week, the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge, which I'm really excited about! The two I really want to focus on reading are Rebecca and The Shining. Unfortunately, I did not complete my monthly book for the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die Challenge which I had been looking forward to. This was only the first month too, lol! But I'm not going to be too hard on myself. PLUS, the two I'm planning on definitely reading for the RIP challenge will actually work for the 1001 challenge. Rebecca will be my September book and The Shining will be my October book (because I think the scariness of that will fit in well with the Halloween atmosphere!)

I also wanted to mention that I WON a book this week in a giveaway at Libby's Literary Library that I'm super excited about... America Libre by Raul Ramos Y Sanchez. I've heard great things about this book!

And now I have a few awards to accept and pass on!

The Proximidade award was given to me by Lisa at Book Blab

Being a recipient of this award affirms that this blog invests and believes in the Proximity – nearness in space, time and relationships.
This blog receives this great award as a further way to re iterate that it is exceedingly charming, and aims to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!

I am giving this award to:

Kate at The Neverending Shelf
Natalie at The Book Inn
Alyssa, Jake, Gregory, and Anna at Teens Read and Write
Karoline at Okbolover

The Top Commenters Award was given to me by Sara at My Life is an Effing Fairy Tale

I am giving this award to:

Linda Ellen at Bambi Reads
Sumanam at I Read
Karoline at Okbolover
Jennifer at Justice Jennifer Reads
Sara at My Life is an Effing Fairy Tale (even though you gave it to me, you deserve it back!)

I have lots of wonderful commenters!! These are just a few of them. I totally appreciate everyone who reads my entries and those who comment so thank you!!

And I received the Zombie Chicken Award from Grace at Books Like Breathing

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…

I give this award to:

Dannie at Opinionated? Me?
Jennifer at Justice Jennifer Reads
Kim at Page after Page
Sandy at hodgepodgespv
Lisa at Book Blab

Have a great Sunday!!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Before I get into the synopsis or review, I want to say that I have found myself in a quandary while reading this book. Tricks by Ellen Hopkins is a young adult book, as are her other books that are all written in the same verse style. I know that young adult books are classified as such because they feature "young adults" dealing with situations that they tend to at that age. And I am well aware that "nowadays" teens and young adults are having to deal with much more serious and dangerous situations than were common in the past. That being said, I think this book is highly inappropriate for those that are not of a certain maturity level and, in that sense, I don't know that the young adult classification is appropriate. I would go so far as to give this book an 'R' rating. My initial plan had been to do a giveaway with this book. However, I decided not to... I know there are many readers of this blog who are teenagers, and while those who do read this blog are probably mature enough to handle this material, I am not comfortable with the possibility of sending this book to someone under 18 whose parents may not be aware or approve. (I truly mean NO OFFENSE to any young followers of my blog!!) I just do not want to be responsible for this book ending up in anyone else's hands, lol! I could probably just leave you at that, but I'll go ahead and briefly describe the plot and my feelings on the actual story itself.

Tricks tells the stories of 5 teens who find themselves, due to various situations, leading dangerous lives in prostitution and "turning tricks". Eden is from an ultra-conservative and religious family who disapprove of her dating; Seth works with his father on a farm in a rural area and struggles with his homosexuality; Whitney can't seem to live up to her sister or earn her mother's love; Ginger's own mother is addicted to drugs and engages in prostituting herself; and Cody finds himself in financial straits after becoming addicted to gambling. The book describes how their situations lead them to prostitution and then further illustrates typical scenarios they deal with.

I realize Ellen Hopkins takes on issues that many people shy away from or are scared to confront. Teenage prostitution is definitely one of them. However, I felt that this book did almost nothing but describe sex scene after lewd sex scene. I couldn't help but feel "dirty" after I read this, and I don't consider myself a prude. I mean, at my job I interview children about sexual abuse on a daily basis and the descriptions in this book still bothered me. I felt the book was overly focused on the sexual scenes and less on the actual stories.

One thing that may have made this book more enjoyable/tolerable was to tell each character's story straight through, making the book almost like a collection of "short stories" of teens who have been in this situation. It would have been just over 100 pages per character which isn't bad when written in free verse. Instead, the book focuses on one character and then abruptly stops and changes to the next character all throughout the book. It was advertised that the stories would interweave to tell one powerful story, but that HARDLY happened. The characters mentioned one or two of the other almost in passing. The stories really had nothing to do with each other except that they were each about teen prostitution. The start and stop of each character's story made it more difficult to get to know each character and it made their individual stories too choppy.

So would I still recommend Ellen Hopkins's books to readers? Absolutely. She grapples very difficult topics that need to be brought to life and her verse writing is so alluring. However, I would NOT recommend this as one of the first books to read by her. I do feel that this book could have been done much better and would have had a much better impact, at least for me.

RIP IV Challenge

I've been thinking about this one for a while and decided it would be fun to do...


Dark Fantasy.

There are two simple goals to the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings:

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

R.I.P. IV officially runs from September 1st through October 31st. But lets go ahead and break the rules. Lets start today!!!

I will be doing

Read Four books of any length, from any subgenre of scary stories that you choose.

The rules state we do not have to choose our books ahead of time but I would like to list a pool os possible reads. And I'll allow myself to change any of the books out at a later time.

  • Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • Out by Natsuo Kirino
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Don't Look Now (short stories) by Daphne De Maurier (if I can find them anywhere!)
Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for books that would be great for this challenge!

Throwback Thursday

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm a little late on this today, but here goes!

Throwback Thursday – this is a weekly event hosted by me! It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic! Leave a comment here and feel free to take an icon and use it on your blog!

This week's throwback is:

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

A beautiful retelling of the Celtic "Swans" myth, Daughter of the Forest is a mixture of history and fantasy, myth and magic, legend and love... To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss and terror. When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for Sorcha to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and sorcha will have to choose between the live she has always known and a love that comes only once.

I LOVE this book. At times I have considered it my favorite book. But then I always wonder how it could be my favorite when I generally am not even interested in this genre. I have read this book 3-4 times which is also more than I've read anything else. I was recently reminded about how great this book is by my new blogging friend, Casey, at Twenty-Something Bookworm, who posted this as her favorite book. It is also the first of a trilogy (The Sevenwaters Trilogy) including Son of the Shadows and Child of the Prophecy. I've read the second one twice but have yet to read the third one. In looking up the picture of the cover to post here, I found there is another book regarding The Sevenwaters Trilogy but I'm not sure what it is. Anyway, Daughter of the Forest, is a book I randomly found at a Barnes and Noble one day years ago. The cover drew me to it and I read it and thought it was an absolutely beautiful story. I'm so glad I took a chance on a book that I normally would not have read. I look forward to reading it (and the rest of the trilogy) many more times!!

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

New York Times
bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard captured the heart of a nation with The Deep End of the Ocean, her celebrated debut novel about mother Beth Cappadora, a child kidnapped, a family in crisis. Now, in No Time to Wave Goodbye, the unforgettable Cappadoras are in peril once again, forced to confront an unimaginable evil.

It has been twenty-two years since Beth Cappadora’s three-year-old son Ben was abducted. By some miracle, he returned nine years later, and the family began to pick up the pieces of their lives. But their peace has always been fragile: Ben returned from the deep end as another child and has never felt entirely at ease with the family he was born into. Now the Cappadora children are grown: Ben is married with a baby girl, Kerry is studying to be an opera singer, and Vincent has emerged from his troubled adolescence as a fledgling filmmaker.

The subject of Vincent’s new documentary, “No Time to Wave Goodbye,” shakes Vincent’s unsuspecting family to the core; it focuses on five families caught in the tortuous web of never knowing the fate of their abducted children. Though Beth tries to stave off the torrent of buried emotions, she is left wondering if she and her family are fated to relive the past forever.

The film earns tremendous acclaim, but just as the Cappadoras are about to celebrate the culmination of Vincent’s artistic success, what Beth fears the most occurs, and the Cappadoras are cast back into the past, revisiting the worst moment of their lives–with only hours to find the truth that can save a life. High in a ruggedCalifornia mountain range, their rescue becomes a desperate struggle for survival.

No Time to Wave Goodbye
is Jacquelyn Mitchard at her best, a spellbinding novel about family loyalty, and love pushed to the limits of endurance.

Publish date: September 15, 2009

Evil at Heart: WINNER

The giveaway for Evil at Heart is now over! The WINNER is.......


wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Wanda will have 48 hours to return my e-mail!

Thank you so much to everyone for playing!!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I received some more awards this week! Thank you so much to everyone for thinking of me!!

I received the BINGO Beautiful Blog award from Natalie at The Book Inn

The rules : This award was started by Bookin With BINGO and here are the rules: This "B-I-N-G-O" BEAUTIFUL BLOG AWARD means that this blog is...

B: Beautiful: Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books
I: Informative: Peter at KyusiReader
N: Neighborly: Natasha at Maw Books Blog
G: Gorgeous: Andreea at Passionate Book Lover
O: Outstanding : Sheri at A Novel Menagerie

I received the Your Blog Rocks award from Alyssa, Jake, Gregory, and Anna at Teens Read and Write

I'd like to pass this on to:

Cynthia at Cynthia's Book Blog

Allie at Hist-Fic Chick

Peter at KyusiReader

I received a Zombie Chicken Award from Mel at He Followed Me Home

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.

  1. Cassi at Accio Brain!
  2. Lizabeth at Book Hoot
  3. Lezlie at Books'n'Border Collies
  4. Mon at Chewing a Leaf
  5. Jennifer at Justice Jennifer Reads

And I received the Me-to-You award from Jenn-ay at My Tea Time is Book Time

Christy at Christy's Book Blog

Whew! Thanks again!!!!

The Sunday Salon

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another week down! The craziness with school and internship have started. I met with a client yesterday and was supposed to meet with one today but had to cancel because I received an on-call page for my regular job. But then I'm also so far meeting with someone Monday after work, Saturday, and 2 on Sunday in a city about a hour from me. Point being? My reading time is being affected. But watch... once I get settled into my new schedule my reading will pick up again. =) I'm still reading Summer Island by Kristin Hannah and am looking forward to where the storyline goes. Hopefully I'll finish that tonight and post a review. Then I've got some review books coming up that I'm excited about! AND, look during the middle of the week for a new GIVEAWAY!!

To sum up this week, I started out with a blog tour of Murder on the Down Low which I didn't get a chance to read yet. I also did a review of The Shadow of the Wind. It was a good book but intense in a couple ways which is why I chose to read a good ol' reliable Kristin Hannah book next. =) And wowzas I received 4 awards this week!!! Thank you all so much for those! I also started my first challenge THE ALICE IN WONDERLAND CHALLENGE which I'm excited about! It's the post before this but if you don't want to scroll just click here .

That's about all for this week. Maybe next week I'll have something a little more interesting to talk about. =)

The Alice in Wonderland Challenge!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Announcing my first reading Challenge (with prizes!)...

The Alice in Wonderland Challenge!!

  • Starts September 1, 2009 and goes through August 31, 2010
  • You can join any time during that time frame.
  • This challenge has two parts; you can decide at any time until the end if you would like to complete only the first part or both. However, prizes will only be awarded to those who complete both parts.
  • If you have already completed one of the tasks in the past 6 months you may count ONE towards this challenge.
  • Books may overlap with any other challenges.
  • Books may be read prior to publish date if you are able to obtain a copy. (Don't worry about the advantage someone has because everyone should have the same opportunity to complete the challenge at the same time).
  • When you've made the decision to play, post about the challenge and please link your icon to this post. It doesn't necessarily have to be the link on your sidebar if you put it there and are linking to your post, but at least on the picture when you post about this challenge.
Tasks: (Part 1)
  • Read and review Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Read and review Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • Read and review Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin (publish date December 2009)
  • Read and review one other book from the list of "retellings and sequels" or "literature with allusions and influences" from the list here . If you know of a book that will work that is not on the list, you may use it, but please have it approved as part of the challenge first.
Tasks: (Part 2)
  • Watch and review Disney's animated version of Alice in Wonderland
  • Watch and review one live action (already released) movie version of Alice in Wonderland.
  • Watch and review Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (due for release in 2010)
  • Watch and review one other movie listed under "Film" here
Mr. Linky will be posted once a month (at the end) and you can enter the URL(s) of the tasks you completed during that month. (The winner will not be counted until they have posted their last task on Mr. Linky at the time that I make it available for posting at the end of the given month).

  • The FIRST person who completes ALL tasks (on both parts) AND has all their links posted to Mr. Linky will win a $25 Amazon gift card!!
  • The SECOND person to do the same will win 15 extra entries (to be used all together or split up) for any giveaway(s) they choose.
  • The THIRD person to do the same will win 10 extra entries (to be used all together or split up) for any giveaway(s) they choose.
Anyone who joins this challenge (and posts about it on their blog) will also win 3 extra entries (used the same as above) to any giveaway(s) you choose. Don't worry about forgetting because I will keep track of these.

Please post only the URL of your challenge post on the McLinky below. I will delete the other posts and will ask you to re-post. Thanks!!

Winners: Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind

The WINNERS of the giveaway for Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind

are: Jackie, Debs Desk, Shawna, Wanda, and Jan!

E-mails will be sent and replies with addresses should be sent back in 48 hours.

Thanks for entering!

Awards and a mini-update

Friday, August 21, 2009

So my last post was just yesterday (Throwback Thursday) but just because I've been sort of busy and not reading as much the past couple days I feel like I've been MIA from book blogging world, lol! And then whenever I do log in to post something I never get around to it because I start catching up on the blogs I follow and get lost in the blogosphere and then it's time to do something else besides blogging! I'm skipping my Friday Night's Book-to-Movie this week but stay tuned for it next week. Also stay tuned for an upcoming challenge! I'm excited about it and hope that some other book bloggers will be too. But I won't be posting it until later and when Dear Hubby can make me an icon. =) In the meantime I was awarded 2 more awards today!! Thank you so much to my book bloggy friends!

First is the Super Comments Award from Sara at My Life is an Effing Fairy Tale.

Thank you so much! I try really hard to keep up with your blogs and comment on entries because I totally appreciate you all and love your blogs! I am going to pass this award on to:

Karoline at Okbo Lover

Linda Ellen at Bambi Reads

Cynthia at Cynthia's Book Shelf

Melissa at Coffee, Books, and Laundry

I also received another Zombie Chicken Award from Alyssa, Jake, Gregory, and Anna at Teens Read and Write

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.

I award this to:

Melissa at Shhh... I'm reading

David, Mara, Laryn, and Sami at The Lateiner Gang Book Review Spot

Jennifer at Crazy For Books

April at Good Books & Good Wine

Jennifer at NY Book Cafe

I also want everyone to know that I am truly thankful for all of my blog followers and am cooking up something special for all of you guys too! Not sure what yet, but definitely something. I appreciate all my book bloggy friends very much!!

Throwback Thursday

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Throwback Thursday – this is a weekly event hosted by me! It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic! Leave a comment here and feel free to take an icon and use it on your blog!

This week's throwback is:

Mandy by Julie Andrews

The magic of finding a home Mandy, a ten-year-old orphan, dreams of a place to call her own. Escaping over the orphanage wall to explore the outside world, Mandy discovers a tiny deserted cottage in the woods. All through the spring, summer, and fall, Mandy works to make it truly hers. Sometimes she "borrows" things she needs from the orphanage. Sometimes, to guard her secret, she even lies. Then, one stormy night at the cottage, Mandy gets sick, and no one knows how to find her—except a special friend she didn't know she had.

I was introduced to this book by a friend, Amanda, when I was about 6-years-old. The book is broken up into the four seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) which I thought was the coolest thing at the time. I wonder if this has anything to with the desire I always had to work with foster care children. I don't think it was everything but it may have had some impact.

What is your throwback?

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

Margaret and Patrick have been married just a few months when they set off on what they hope will be a great adventure-a year living in Kenya. Margaret quickly realizes there is a great deal she doesn't know about the complex mores of her new home, and about her own husband.

A British couple invites the newlyweds to join on a climbing expedition to Mount Kenya, and they eagerly agree. But during their harrowing ascent, a horrific accident occurs. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Margaret struggles to understand what happened on the mountain and how these events have transformed her and her marriage, perhaps forever.

A Change in Altitude illuminates the inner landscape of a couple, the irrevocable impact of tragedy, and the elusive nature of forgiveness. With stunning language and striking emotional intensity, Anita Shreve transports us to the exotic panoramas of Africa and into the core of our most intimate relationships.

September 22, 2009

The Shadow of the Wind

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Title: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Pages: 487
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: January 25, 2005

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a dark and complex story about a boy's search to solve a mystery surrounding an author whose books are being destroyed. This epic novel also has other elements -- love and lust, murder, lies, want, and revenge.

The book, which takes place in Barcelona from the 1930's to the 1950's is mostly narrated by the main character, Daniel Sempere, who is 10-years-old at the onset of the novel. His father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and allows him to pick out a book to keep as his own. Daniel finds The Shadow of the Wind written by Julian Carax. Turns out this is a rare novel as most of Carax's other works have been found and destroyed. Shortly after, multiple offers of large sums of money are made to Daniel for his book by more than one person. Years pass and when Daniel is 17 he starts looking more into the mystery of Carax's books and why they're being destroyed. In learning more about the books he finds some intriguing information about Carax including information that he was murdered upon returning to Barcelona from Paris.

This commences the investigation by Daniel and his friend, Fermin, as they interview people who have been associated with Carax. The more people they interview the more they learn and the further they are pulled into the mystery. Not only do we start to understand what Daniel's personal motivations are for solving the mystery about Carax, but we also start to see some similarities between Daniel and Carax. And while he and Fermin intensify their investigation, they have to avoid being stopped and possibly arrested (or even killed) by the threatening police officer, Fumero.

I did think this was a great story and I can see why it has become sort of a modern classic. The writing was absolutely beautiful -- poetic at times. It makes me wonder how it was in the original Spanish and how it was translated because I know many Spanish words do not translate exactly to English. The story was also intricate and well thought out. I do love when a story is involved and has lots of different facets. If for nothing else, these two factors make this book worth reading.

However, the complexity of the storyline and the number of characters did confuse me at times. (It's possible that the number of spanish names may have contributed to my being confused what with Fermin Romero de Torres and Fernando Flavia and Francisco Javier Fumero etc.) I did get a little confused too because Daniel's storyline somewhat crosses over Julian Carax's storyline and since Carax's history is being told as well as Daniel's, I had to be sure to keep them separate. As I read, I thought to myself how convenient it would have been had I kept an outline as I went to keep everything straight. Because the story was so intense and the writing so fluid, I found times where I realized I was reading the words and not processing what they said. Then when I went back I would be confused. For instance:

"Does the madman know he is mad? Or are the madmen those who insist on convincing him of his unreason in order to safeguard their own idea of reality?"

I must have read that 10 times because I could not get what it was saying. Alone, I may have gotten it, but after having immersed myself in the rest of this story I was like HUH? I finally got it but I had to metaphorically step out of the book and read it over slowly to understand what it meant. Let me offset this with a couple quotes I liked.

"I told her how until that moment I had not understood that this was a story about lonely people, about absence and loss, and that that was why I had taken refuge in it until it became confused with my own life, like someone who has escaped into the pages of a novel because those whom he needs to love seem nothing more than ghosts inhabiting the mind of a stranger."


"Books are mirrors; you only see in them what you already have inside you."

In all this was a great book -- maybe a little confusing at times -- but intriguing nonetheless!

Musing Monday, Two Awards, and a Funny Story

Monday, August 17, 2009

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Becca at Just One More Page.

Today's musings are about books made into movies:

How do you react to movies made of your favorite books (or even not-so-favorite books)? Do you look forward to seeing them, or avoid them? Do you like to have read the book before seeing the movie?

I usually have mixed feelings about this... I'll be excited to see how they turn it into a movie, but another part of me wishes they would leave it as a book because that's always the best. The movies usually disappoint me and what bothers me the most is when someone else sees the movie who hasn't read the book and I feel like they're missing SO MUCH because I either know more about what the character is thinking or I know about more events. And sometimes a movie ruins the book for me because I can, after that, only ever picture it as it is in the movie.

On to the awards.... I was awarded two today!

The first was the Zombie Chicken Award, awarded to me by Nikola at Nikola's Book Blog.

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.

The 5 people I award this to are:

Cynthia at Cynthia's Book Shelf

Allie at Hist-Fic Chick

Andreea at Passionate Book Lover

Sara at My Life is an Effing Fairy Tale

BrownGirl at BrownGirl BookSpeak

My second award is the
The Lemonade Award Awarded for Great Attitude or Gratitude awarded to me by Sara at My Life is an Effing Fairy Tale

I pass this award on to:

Jenn-ay at My Tea Time is Book Time

Christy at Christy's Book Blog

Okay, and now to the funny story I promised you!
I was talking to my sister today and she had just finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns. She loved it as many people have but kept thinking to herself that this one part was very unexplained and she still didn't really get it.... she looked back and found that her book went from page 342 and the next page was 391! The book was missing 50 pages and was bound perfectly as though they weren't supposed to be there!

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

The only thing like this that happened to me was when I was a kid... I got a 3 pack of books including Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and something else I don't remember. The pages in Stuart Little were all messed up and not in order, and if I remember correctly, possible some upside down as well. It was complete messed up and could not be read!

Murder on the Down Low (Blog Tour and giveaway)

Meet Pamela Samuels Young,
author of Murder on the Down Low

Pamela Samuels Young is a practicing attorney and author of the legal thrillers, Murder on the Down Low, In Firm Pursuit, Every Reasonable Doubt, and the
forthcoming, Buying Time, A desire to see women and people of color represented in today’s legal fiction prompted Pamela to start writing despite a busy career as an attorney. The former journalist and Compton native is a graduate of USC, Northwestern University and UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. Pamela is the fiction writing expert for and is on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

A high-profile lawsuit erupts into chaos,
revealing its place in a larger spree of violence in this scandalous tale of lust, lies, and vengeance. A brazen gunman is targeting prominent African American men on the streets of Los Angeles, and police are completely baffled. At the same time, savvy big-firm attorney Vernetta Henderson and her outrageous sidekick, Special, lead the charge for revenge against a man whose deceit caused his fiancĂ©e’s death. For Special, hauling the man into court and suing him for wrongful death just isn’t good enough. While she exacts her own brand of justice, a shocking revelation connects the contentious lawsuit and the puzzling murders.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Master your craft! Take the time to study writing the same way you would study any other profession. Also, read like a writer. When you read a book you enjoy, study the author’s writing style and the book’s story structure. Ask yourself why the book was a great read. One of the most helpful things I did as a new writer was outline John Grisham’s The Firm and examine the story structure. It helped me tremendously in learning how to build suspense.

Pamela is the Fiction Writing Expert for Her bi-monthly articles cover a range of topics on fiction writing. Here’s a link to Pamela’s article The First Paragraph.

Read an excerpt from Pamela's novel, Murder on the Down Low, here

Murder on the Blog Tour Giveaway

Please leave a comment with your e-mail address to enter to win an autographed book and a 25 dollar gift card from Pamela Samuels Young. One winner will be chosen each day for a total of FIVE winners.

Sunday Salon

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Sunday! This week's reading was pretty good but I'm a little stressed at the prospect of what's to come for me... I start back to school this week after taking a break since about March. In addition to my weekly practicum class, I will be working about 12-15 hours extra a week doing in-home counseling. I hate how much time this will take away from time with the hubby and family and from READING and BLOGGING, lol! But I've always managed in the past, so I'm sure it will work out... I hope, hehe.

I'm currently reading The Shadow of the Wind and am enjoying it. I'm only about 225 pgs (of 486) in but I'm hoping to make some real progress today and finish it tonight or tomorrow at the latest. This week I reviewed Olive Kitteridge and Evil at Heart (which of course I am still running the giveaway for). I also started my weekly Friday Night's Book-to-Movie where I reviewed The Reader... this book and movie definitely has mixed reviews from different readers/viewers, but sharing everyone's differing opinions is what's so great! For a review opposite of mine check out A Novel Menagerie's review of the book and of the movie.

This week I also started a TakeMeAway twitter account! I felt like I was missing out on a lot, so stop by and follow me if you'd like! This account is separate from my regular one (which I never use) so if you follow me it will mainly be book and blogging stuff.

I've had a busy week! I've got a few more things... this week I joined the Middle Grade Book Challenge over at Bambi Reads (click on the picture). This will give me the opportunity to read a bunch of interesting children's books that I never would have read otherwise. (I really hope when I have children that they enjoy reading as much as I do/did). Anyway, you should go join too!

And, I haven't received this book in the mail yet to review, but don't forget I still have a giveaway for the teacher memoir Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind through the 21st! (Click on the picture to go to the giveaway)

Here are also some other giveaways you may be interested in:

Jenn-ay at My Tea Time is Book Time is giving away The Last Summer of You and Me by Ann Brashares

Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books is giving away Friends Like These by Danny Wallace

Nikola at Nikola's Book Blog is giving away The Eight AND The Fire both by Katherin Neville.

If I entered your giveaway and forgot to blog it here please come let me know!

And with that, I hope everyone has a great week!

Friday Night's Book-to-Movie

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Night's Book-to-Movie is a new meme I've decided to do... it may be weekly or bi-weekly. I've got my hubby working on an icon for me already.

I will review a book and the movie based on the book here together. I may do a thorough review of both if it's something I've read/seen recently, or if it's one from the past (since there are many) I'll just do a brief review.

This week I'm going to start with one that has been discussed in one of the blogs I follow as the blogger used it for her Booking Through Thursday's worst recent read. (I can't remember whose blog this was so if it's you please comment here and I'll link your blog!)

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

I haven't read this in a long time, though I couldn't tell you when since it looks like I forgot to add it to my list. (Crazy how many books I've realized I forgot to add since I started keeping track in 2005). This was somewhat of a shorter read. It's about a 15-year-old boy who engages in a sexual affair with an older woman during one summer. They eventually lose touch and the next time he sees her is 15 (?) years later when she is on trial in court. He then thinks back to things that happened back during their affair and connects things to her current state.

Like I said, it was a shorter read, but it was sort of dull too. I thought the book was just okay. It isn't even like the affair they have is really all that scandalous (as it would be nowadays). The main point of the book is their relationship and the "twist" at the end which, of course, I can't give away here. It does give you something to think about, though, in a way.

Now on the movie, starred in by Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. (And the actor who plays the 15-year-old boy). I did not like the movie. It's fairly dry, though "independent movie" fans may enjoy that aspect of it. And whoa nudity and sex. There's a lot of it and some of it just seems unnecessary. AND I just couldn't get over that this is a 15-year-old child with an adult and yet there were still so many sex scenes. In fact, I read somewhere that they had to wait on doing the sex scenes until the actor turned 18 (in real life)... that's a bit much for me. I liked the part of the movie where he sees her later in court, but then when I thought the movie was going to be over soon, it turned out there was another hour! I honestly couldn't remember at that point if everything in the movie was in the book. It very likely was and I only remembered a small part of it. But it was just so long.

In all, only read the book if you really are interested in the high acclaim it received or because it's on the list of 1001 books to read before you die. Only see the movie if (again, you're interested in all the acclaim) or if you are a fan and have to see everything with Kate Winslet or Ralph Fiennes. Otherwise, I think you might as well skip it.

Evil at Heart (review and giveaway reminder)

Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain is the 3rd book in a thrilling series about a female serial killer and her sick and twisted relationship with the former lead detective investigating her killings. In this book, Gretchen is still on the loose and she has turned into a celebrity of sorts. Magazines and newspapers write about her and show her picture every day. The city provides tours of the locations where her murder victims have been found, Gretchen Lowell souvenirs (and manicure) are sold, and fan clubs of the serial killer have sprouted up. Archie, in the meantime, is residing voluntarily in an inpatient psychiatric hospital partially due to the mental health issues he’s suffered at the hands of Gretchen’s torture and masochism and partially to remain safe. Then more murder victims are found that point to Gretchen, the Beauty Killer, as a possibility, and the craziness and sickness that is the Archie/Gretchen series continues!

I loved this book and have to say it was the best one yet! It was seriously a thriller in that I almost didn’t turn off the lights for bed the first night I read this, and books don’t usually scare me! The action is non-stop and of course, with short chapters it’s so easy to read just one more chapter, and just one more, and on and on until you’ve read half the book. The convoluted dynamics between the characters is what makes this book and series so interesting. Gretchen reminds me in so many ways of Hannibal Lector (and I thought this BEFORE I read anything online about others thinking this) and I think that this series would actually make a great movie. This book is not for the squeamish as there are parts that are gory and parts that are just gross. There are also some sexual parts that might be offensive to some people. But Gretchen is a sick and twisted character. I will say I wonder how much more can happen in the series at this point, but if there is a plan for more I will gladly keep reading!

Don’t forget I have a current giveaway for the ARC of this book ending on August 25th that you can enter here. If you like thrillers and/or have an interest in psychology and sociology then I recommend this book to you!

Publish Date: September 1, 2009