Monday, December 12, 2011

Bookie Friends Favorites Challenge

Bookie Friends Favorites Challenge

I read about this challenge today over at Introverted Reader, and it sounded pretty cool!  I am looking forward to seeing what some of the favorite books are!  My five are:

1. Watership Down by Richard Adams
2. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
3. Remembering Blue by Connie May Fowler
4. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
5. Bag of Bones by Stephen King

If you want to participate, it's easy! If you are interested, you sign up for the challenge, and list five of your favorite books. You have a whole year to read 3-12 of the other participants favorite books. Sounds fun to me! 

Song of the Nile - Review

Title:  Song of the Nile
Author: Stephanie Dray
Source: Library (although a copy is on the way to me via the author and Teddyree)

Goodreads Summary:

Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive of Rome, Selene pledged her loyalty to Augustus and swore she would become his very own Cleopatra. Now the young queen faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.
The magic of Isis flowing through her veins is what makes her indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and religious persecution, Cleopatra's daughter beguiles her way to the very precipice of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price of her mother's throne be more than she's willing to pay?
My thoughts:
This book was just as enchanting as the first book, Lily of the Nile.  Selene is driven and committed to getting Egypt back, and will go to any length to get it back, including giving the Emperor a son.  You can't fault her for that, I feel, is that she was following the legend of her mother, whether it was true or not. 
She is married to Juba in this novel, although she dislikes him greatly for the role he played in her parent's downfall, especially her father's. She has a daughter by the emperor or Helios, although no one knows that but her and Juba.  Helios returns to her when she is at her lowest, then disappears again.  She is reunited with him while she is waiting for the Emperor at his command, and Helios and she take up their love affair.  I know that this is how it was done in ancient Egypt, and therefore historically accurate, but it was still difficult for me to get behind with my modern day way of thinking. I just couldn't really root for this relationship, and I wanted her and Juba to sort out their differences, as they did care for each other before. 
I couldn't read this book fast enough, however, and I really enjoyed it.  Again, Dray has a perfect blend of history, fiction and the subtle uses of magic.

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.

Read Last Week:

Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray: As enchanting as Lily of the Nile.

Currently Reading:

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl:  I didn't get around to this last week.

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray: I love this author, and loved the first in this series.  I believe this one takes place around Christmas. 

The Wilder Life- Review

Title:  The Wilder Life
Author:  Wendy McClure
Source: Library

Goodreads summary:

Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder-a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she's never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family- looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House, and explores the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura's hometowns. Whether she's churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of "the Laura experience." Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West. 

The Wilder Life is a loving, irreverent, spirited tribute to a series of books that have inspired generations of American women. It is also an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones-and find that our old love has only deepened.

My thoughts:

I loved this book! I was a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan when I was a kid, and I still am.  I re-read the series every winter, just like I read them when I was little.  From the day my mom  gave me these books, I adored the family and wanted to live the way the Ingalls family did.  I can't say that has really stuck with me; I think living a self-sustained life is pretty cool, except I do like modern bathrooms and access to books.  I always felt bad that the Ingalls family only had three books in their home library. 

McClure does a great job with talking of the good and bad of these books.  When you are small and reading them, the racism goes over your head; as an adult it is glaring! I think McClure handles this well, and shows that despite her year of Laura obsession, she can see the not so perfect times too.  She also mentions that Pa skipped town once to avoid a bill, packing his family up at night and taking off.  I personally did not want my perception of Pa tarnished, so I am going to forget I read that.

McClure also discusses Farmer Boy.  She was not a fan of that book as a child, thinking who wants to read about this perfect, spoiled life?  I loved Farmer Boy; however I didn't think it was fair that Laura had nothing while Almanzo had it all, but I enjoyed all the descriptions of living on the farm in upstate New York.  Despite having what seemed to be a charmed existence, I think the Ingalls had more fun.

I loved this book, it reminded me of all my favorite Little House memories, and assured me I was not the only superfan who wanted to live like Laura. I feel inspired by this book to bake some molasses cookies and curl up with Little House in the Big Woods, my favorite in the series, my second favorite being The Long Winter.  It just exuded a cozy, warm feeling filled with love. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?


It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week.

Read Last Week:  

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure:  I loved this book, I can't begin to say how much. I am a huge Little House fan, and this book was fabulous.

Currently Reading:

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl:  I loved the first, felt a little iffy about the second, so I am curious about this last one.

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury:  I feel that Lily of the Nile has started a new trend for me, of Egyptian themed books. I can't get enough.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Switched - Review

Title:  Switched
Author: Amanda Hocking
Source: Librarything

Goodreads Summary:

When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might've been telling the truth. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - and it's one she's not sure if she wants to be a part of.

My thoughts:

I actually really enjoyed this book a great deal.  I love supernatural creature books, and this was a cool departure from the normal vampires, fairies, werewolves, etc.  Because really, who ever equates trolls with interesting or beautiful? Yet that is what Hocking does with this book.

Wendy feels like has never quite fit in at school, or in her family- especially after her own mother tried to kill her.  She lives with her aunt and over-protective brother, and knows she is loved- yet she senses she is not quite like them, and agonizes over the trouble she has created in their lives.  Then she meets Finn, who has been sent to find her by her real mother, a troll.  Wendy also learns that she is a troll princess, and that she is a changeling. 

Usually heroines like Wendy annoy me.  The ones who are always rebelling and fighting for no reason whatsoever. Wendy won me over though.  I think in a sense I feel sorry for her- Wendy goes to the land of trolls (which is in Minnesota!) to give her aunt and brother a break, but also because she is curious to meet her true mother, since the one she knew for six years hated her.  Unfortunately, her birth mother is not that great either, and seems really cold.  And I loved Finn.  

I thought that this book was fun, and different.  This book reminds me of a PG version of Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series, and I enjoyed it a great deal.  I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

New Beginnings - Review

Title:  New Beginnings
Author: Rebecca Emin
Source: Grimoire Books

Goodreads Summary:

Sam Hendry is not looking forward to starting at her new school. Things go from bad to worse as the day of truth arrives and all of her fears come true... and then some.
When Sam meets a different group of people who immediately accept her as a friend, she begins to feel more positive.
With her new friends and interests, will Sam finally feel able to face the bully who taunts her, and to summon up the courage to perform on stage?

My thoughts:
I like to read books by authors who are just trying out their wings, but I am discerning and think about which ones I will read.  I know a few beginning authors, and if I can help them out I will, but there are just so many out there that I really limit this.  When I met Jonathan Rand, of American Chillers fame, we talked about writing and just starting out, and he said when he first started writing the Chillers books, no one wanted to take a chance on him, so he self-published.  He soon became a huge success.  I know the students at our school love him!  So I think of him when I get a request, but I also think about the book too.
I decided I wanted to read this book first because I work in a school library and this is a book geared for the ages at my school, and second because it is about bullying, and we have had a huge anti-bullying campaign in our schools for years. 
I am glad that I chose to read this book - I think that kids will benefit from reading it.  Many times victims of bullies remain silent, and let the bullying continue, much to their detriment.  They don't know how to handle it, who to tell, if they will be believed even.  New Beginnings deals with all of these thoughts, and also explains what to do if you are bullied in a way that they may relate to. Sam, the main character who is being bullied, lets things go to far, to the point where the bullying becomes physically violent.  After finding an anti-bullying website, she takes control of the situation.  The student bullying Sam eventually realized they are the one with a problem and apologizes to Sam, but not before Sam tells a trusted teacher what has been going on.
This is definitely a book I am going to have in our library. 

Lily of the Nile- Review

Title: Lily of the Nile
Author: Stephanie Dray
Source: Library after reading about it on The Ecclectic Reader blog

Goodreads Summary:

To Isis worshippers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene's parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse. Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can't hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother's dreams. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win-or die?

My thoughts:

I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and I completely loved this book.  I read it, and wanted to know more about Cleopatra Selene and her brothers, and to me that is testimony that a book has captured your interest, if you read it and want to read whatever you can about the same subject, fiction or non.  It doesn't suprise me that I liked it, I loved Margaret George's Memoirs of Cleopatra, and I read that Dray was inspired to write Lily of the Nile after she read The Memoirs of Cleopatra. 

I loved how the Dray balanced the historical with the magical elements- I think the magic bits were perfectly handled and not out of place or too over the top.  I also thought the characters were written very well, and right from the start I cared about them.  Their emotions were so real, and their situation so awful! To be the hope of the people yet in essence, prisoners to Octavian. And the end was amazing- Cleopatra Selene proved beyond a doubt that she was Cleopatra's daughter. 

I can't wait to read the second one in this series, Song of the Nile, which I won in a giveaway from The Eclectic Reader!