February 6, 2013 § 3 Comments
When Digory meets Polly in London the last thing he expects is that they’re going to be thrown into the adventure of a lifetime, but thanks to his scheming uncle and the curiosity of kids, what was looking to be a dreadful summer turns into a journey the two never saw coming. They encounter the Wood Between the Worlds, an evil empress accidentally awakened, there’s havoc in London, and not to mention they find the newly created Narnia. All in all, it’s bunches of excitement packed into a short period of time.
I’ll admit it again… this is going to be my first full read of all of the Narnia books. I’ve seen the movies and did read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was younger, but the full series? Nope. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I jumped into this read, but I think I was expecting something more like the idea of Narnia that I had in my head. While The Magician’s Nephew wasn’t that, in the end I wasn’t disappointed.
The Magician’s Nephew is a really great opening to the Chronicles of Narnia. The characters were great. It was so easy to love or hate them, which in my mind is important when I’m reading. We also learn about the founding of Narnia. On that note, can I just say… I knew that Aslan was ‘The Dude’ of Narnia, but I didn’t realize that he was more like God Dude than King Dude (though knowing what I know about Lewis it makes sense in hindsight). Reading this book really does answer a lot of questions that one has about the world of Narnia and for that I was glad.
I do have one thing that I wasn’t crazy about when reading this though. The way the story is narrated was difficult for me. After a while I started to adjust, but it was still weird. In the end it didn’t take away from the story.
Overall, The Magician’s Nephew was a fun, quick, and easy read. I look forward to completing the series and finally knowing everything that’s going on in Narnia.
The Chronicles of Narnia series:
- The Magician’s Nephew
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- The Horse and His Boy
- Prince Caspian
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Last Battle
November 18, 2011 § 1 Comment
Matt and Chloe live in a small town in the English countryside. It is there where they lived and loved, and prepared to bring a new life into the world. However, Chloe starts changing – and it isn’t regular pregnancy changes. When Matt realizes that Chloe is not the only woman acting strange he starts to worry, but even his girlfriends altered behavior and appearance doesn’t prepare him for what comes next. In one sentence, spider-like parasites that use human women to breed and any human to feed on.
I have mentioned here before that every now and again I like to read a good horror novel, the kind that keeps me awake all night because it was just so creepy. When I found a copy of this book tucked away in the horror section of a local used book store that’s what I was hoping for. However, I must say that it didn’t really live up to the scariness I was looking for. That being said, it wasn’t a bad book.
Breeding Ground, while not being really scary, still had a couple creepy and uncomfortable moments. If I had to compare this book to something, I would say it is much more The Faculty ‘figure out what’s going on as you stumble around freaked out’ and far less Rob Zombie’s Halloween ‘mind fuck’ (excuse my language).
The characters we’re a mixed bag. The main character Matt is easy to like, but some of the other characters were a downright pain to put up with. In all honesty, I was glad to see some of them go. There is a lot of conflict between some of the characters, while the rest just want to band together and find a way to survive. Needless to say, there is never a dull moment between the players.
As for the book as a whole, once it starts moving, it moves and is really easy to read. I say this having read the book in just a few hours. I kept reading because I wanted to know what the characters were going to have to face next and what they were going to learn. Pinborough was rather creative in finding ways to raise the shock factor, gruesome as they may have been, and also finding things that would benefit the characters in their quest to survive amongst this new species.
I recommend this book if you’re looking for something to read that’s on the creepy side, though I warn anyone who is quick to cringe to brace yourself for some of the more grisly parts. Personally, I will be keeping an eye out for some of her other works as well as the follow up to this book, Feeding Ground.
November 16, 2011 § 7 Comments
In January 1943 two hundred and thirty women who had bravely fought as a part of the French Resistance were sent to Auschwitz. These were women who spanned many occupations and age groups, who fought for many different reasons. Yet, they all had one thing in common… They wanted to free their country from German rule. A Train in Winter is the story that illustrates just what these women endured.
The book starts out a bit slow, but Moorehead does a great job of setting the stage for the reader and introducing many of the players involved. Regardless of the opening, the book really starts to set its hooks into you after the first few chapters. It is nearly impossible to set the book down once you start to read about what these women sacrificed for their cause, the fear they overcame in order to do what they felt was necessary.
Moorehead does not shy away from the cruel or the heartbreaking. Having met with a few of the survivors still alive, the families of survivors who have since passed, and much research into the topic, she paints a brutally honest picture of the events surrounding the capture and subsequent encampment of these women. What they had to undergo is not something that’s easy to digest, but then the story wouldn’t mean nearly as much without being so true to what she learned about their experiences.
If the stories from the survivors didn’t make the book real enough, the pictures included in the book certainly serve to make the story that much more real and unforgettable. You are able to put faces to names and picture the torturous conditions all the more clearly. When you learn that only forty-nine of the two hundred and thirty women are able to make it out of the camps alive it really hits home.
A Train in Winter is not a book you are going to read and forget about, it is a book that is going to stay with you and make you realize just what we are capable of even in the worst possible conditions. This is the story of women who were stronger than most people will ever have to be and who supported each other in an attempt to survive the cruelest conditions a person could find themselves in. In one sentence, this is a book that everyone should read.
For more information about this book, the author, or if you would like to see more reviews visit the books main tour page.
** I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a part of TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
October 18, 2011 § 2 Comments
From the publisher:
“As devoted readers of Adriana Trigiani’s New York Times bestselling novels know, this “seemingly effortless storyteller” (Boston Globe) frequently draws inspiration from her own family history, in particular from the lives of her two remarkable grandmothers, Lucia Spada Bonicelli (Lucy) and Yolanda Perin Trigiani (Viola). In Don’t Sing at the Table, she reveals how her grandmothers’ simple values have shaped her own life, sharing the experiences, humor, and wisdom of her beloved mentors to delight readers of all ages.
Trigiani visits the past to seek answers to the essential questions that define the challenges women face today at work and at home. Don’t Sing at the Table is a primer, grandmother to granddaughter, filled with everyday wisdom and life lessons handed down with care and built to last.”
We all have people in our lives who leave a mark of some sort. For Adriana Trigiani, her grandmothers Lucy and Viola had a huge impact on her. Don’t Sing at the Table is a moving and even entertaining book full of stories about these two powerhouse women and I enjoyed it immensely.
Lucy and Viola are two women who lived very full lives. They loved with all their hearts and gave everything they had to their jobs and families. From their births and childhood in Italy to their trip across the Atlantic and the lives they built once they arrived in the U.S., Trigiani shares her grandmothers with all of us. Don’t Sing at the Table is full of stories about the time she spent with her grandmothers, whether it was cleaning cars (which is a thorough and amusing process if I may say so myself), using a magnet to collect needles off the ground of Viola’s factory or Lucy’s seamstress shop, or simply enjoying a drink and conversation on a beautiful summer afternoon. Trigiani also shares bits of the advice her grandmothers imparted to her over the years on everything from maintaining a home, to love, marriage, and parenting and discusses how her grandmothers affected how she approaches her career and her life.
Don’t Sing at the Table wasn’t just a book for me, but an experience. I’m probably biased by the relationship I shared with my grandmother, but I can’t think of a bad word to say about this one. Don’t Sing at the Table is a beautifully written memoir about the everlasting effect two women had on Adriana Trigiani’s life.
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a part of TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
August 31, 2011 § 4 Comments
From the publisher:
Yona Stern has traveled from New York to Israel to make amends with her estranged sister, a stoic ideologue and mother of five who has dedicated herself to the radical West Bank settlement cause. Yona’s personal life resembles nothing of her sister’s, but it isn’t politics that drove the two apart.
Now a respected Jerusalem Talmud teacher, Mark Greenglass was once a drug dealer saved by an eleventh-hour turn to Orthodox Judaism. But for reasons he can’t understand, he’s lost his once fervent religious passion. Is he through with God? Is God through with him?
Enter Aaron Blinder, a year-abroad dropout with a history of failure whose famous father endlessly—some say obsessively—mines the Holocaust for his best-selling, melodramatic novels. Desperate for approval, Aaron finds a home on the violent fringe of Israeli society, with unforeseen and devastating consequences.
In a sweeping, beautifully written story, Joan Leegant, winner of the PEN New England Book Award and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, weaves together three lives caught in the grip of a volatile and demanding faith. Emotionally wrenching and unmistakably timely, Wherever You Go shines a light on one of the most disturbing elements in Israeli society: Jewish extremist groups and their threat to the modern, democratic state. This is a stunningly prescient novel.
I’ve spent a good part of my day procrastinating on my review of this book for one reason, I simply don’t have the words to explain how much I loved it, but I’m going to do my best.
When I first read the description of Wherever You Go, it was instantly a book that I wanted to read. When I first sat down with it, my intention was to read the first few chapters to see how things are. In fact, I ended up not putting the book down for hours. Between the characters, the story, and Leegant’s way of writing I was simply glued to Wherever You Go.
It’s no secret that when I read a book I look for great characters. I must say that reading this book, I grew to care for each of the three main characters almost immediately. They were just so human with faults and worries and they were all looking for something. Yona, Mark, and Aaron could be any of the people we pass on the street any given day and that fact only made the book easier for me to read.
As for the story, and the lives of these three people who find what they need in a place they never really expected to end up… Well, that is just another one of the pieces of the story that makes the book unputdownable. Wherever You Go is realistic in a way I don’t always see in literature, and it was quite honestly, refreshing.
I also couldn’t end this without saying that the writing is absolutely beautiful. Even if the story or characters hadn’t grabbed me I would’ve kept on reading because Leegant’s writing was simply stunning. I highly recommend reading Wherever You Go, simply because it’s a great novel. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for other works from Joan Leegant.
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a part of TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
August 21, 2011 § 3 Comments
Kevin Roose, child of Quaker parents and student at Brown University met a group of Liberty University students while on a trip with his boss. The result of that meeting… a desire to live and study at Liberty University for a semester where he could immerse himself in the evangelical Christian culture and get to know a group of people that he knew little about. During his semester at Liberty University he experienced many things. He got to sing in the choir at Thomas Road Baptist Church and attend a variety of church services the likes of which he’d never before experienced. He met regularly with a pastor and explored the campus. He interviewed Jerry Falwell himself. He taught himself to stop swearing and did his best to follow the rules (all forty-six pages of them). He went on a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach and attended a support group for chronic masturbators. Oh, and he studied young-earth creationism while attempting to keep his cool every time he heard a homophobic statement.
I have to say, I really enjoyed reading The Unlikely Disciple. From the first page I was interested to see what he had to say about being immersed in a culture so different from his own and trying to fit in as if he too was an evangelical Christian.
There are two huge positives that stood out for me while I was reading this book. First, Roose’s observations of the other students, faculty, and staff at the university. By that I mean that even though he is on the complete opposite side of the belief spectrum from those he was living and studying with, he didn’t criticize their beliefs or put them down. Sure, he might disagree with many of their beliefs, but that is natural, and he isn’t a jerk about it. He also talks about some of the friends he made while he was at Liberty and the fact that aside from their religious and generally conservative beliefs, students at Liberty are just like students at any secular college in the States. They have fun, stress over exams, and some break rules. Basically, he shows that they are human just like the rest of us.
The other thing that I really liked about this book was the fact that a lot of what Roose writes is about what he is feeling. He writes about his fears, insecurities, and his struggles throughout that semester. You’re able to get a good feel for what was going on in his head.
The Unlikely Disciple gives a peak at what is happening on a Christian college campus. In my opinion it is an all-around great read. The way the book is written makes it a quick read with the added benefit of being quite humorous. Most certainly an enjoyable book.
July 21, 2011 § 3 Comments
From the book jacket:
Stefan Templeton was born a child of extremes. He spent half his childhood with his African American philosopher father in the decaying ghetto of Baltimore in the 1970s. The other half was spent with his Norwegian mother in the wealthiest enclaves of Europe. His father was a brilliant academic, and intense disciplinarian, and a lethal martial artist. His mother, an aristocrat by birth, was a mystic and a healer. By the time Stefan was nine, he spoke four languages. By the time he was seventeen, he had a black belt and could take apart a .45 automatic in the dark.
Things got heavier from there. Stefan’s wanderlust and action jones took him all over the world. Before he was twenty-one, he’d hunted in Burgundy, brawled in Oxford, served as a medicine man in Colombia, escaped death on the Amazon, and trained to be a deep-sea diver on Cousteau’s Calypso.
At twenty-five, love for the mother of his first child settled him in Norway but didn’t settle him down. He drifted into a labyrinthine criminal underworld, where he pulled off an enormous jewel heist and became a player in a European smuggling consortium. But his conscience demanded that his life be about more than the next adrenaline fix, the next adventure, the next score. His road to redemption led him to some of the bleakest corners of the globe, where he finally found a focus for his life in humanitarian relief work: on the beach in the wake of the Indoneasian tsunami and on the ground following the Sudanese civil war. That was just the beginning.
Kicking Ass and Saving Souls is a true testament to the capacity of the human spirit, a mythic adventure made palpable, lyrical, and human by David Matthews- Stefan’s childhood friend and sometimes harshest critic.
I would be lying if I said the story of Stefan Templeton didn’t grab me from the start. He is a human being just like the rest of us, but he has lived an extraordinary life. Things that the general population can only dream of were seen and done by Stefan by the time he became an adult. Deep sea diving, traveling over several continents, a run in with a member of the Yakuza, walking through crime ridden neighborhoods in the dead of night for an adrenaline fix as a teenager, and helping people in need all over the world – this is only a sampling of the things Stefan Templeton has experienced.
At times, this man’s story seems almost unrealistic and you can’t help but think, ‘Really, one person has done all of this?’ Yet there is one about the book that makes you realize, yes this is true, this is the extraordinary story of a real person, and that is seeing the change in Stefan as he goes through life.
The changes Stefan goes through from the time he was a child through his adulthood is my favorite part of Kicking Ass and Saving Souls. The book paints a picture of Stefan’s life and the many good and not-so-good things he’s done. Seeing that he had made both good choices and some mistakes gives him a human quality. This isn’t just some unrealistic story, but it’s the life of a living and breathing person. A father, a son, a friend, a lover.
Stefan Templeton has done some amazing things during his life. He’s seen the most beautiful parts of the world and the ugliest. His story, told by his good friend David Matthews, is absolutely worth reading.
**I received a copy of this book as a part of TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own and have not been influenced in anyway.
June 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
Synopsis from Barnes & Noble:
When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie “Fat Charlie.” Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can’t shake that name, one of the many embarrassing “gifts” his father bestowed — before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie’s life.
Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie’s doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is to day, a brother who’s going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun . . . just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.
Because, you see, Charlie’s dad wasn’t just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion; he is able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, baffle the devil, and cheat Death himself.
Exciting, scary, and deeply funny, ANANSI BOYS is a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth, a wild adventure, and a fierce and unstoppable farce, as Neil Gaiman shows us where gods come from, and how to survive your family.
I have a couple of admissions to make before I talk about my reactions to the story itself. First, this is my first Neil Gaiman read. Second, the reason it took me so long to pick up one of his books – regardless of the fact that nearly everything I’ve heard and read about his work has been positive – is because I was a bit intimidated. I was expecting something that was so intricate, involved, and epic that it would almost be difficult to follow. Now, I’m not saying Anansi Boys was bad or anything. In fact, I really enjoyed Anansi Boys, it just ended up being different than what I had imagined.
As soon as page 27 rolled around, I simply knew that this book would be a favorite and that I would have to go back for more Gaiman. I read about Fat Charlie going to his fathers funeral and spilling his heart to the funeral goers, and Fat Charlie realizing that he ended up at the wrong funeral and a bunch of people he didn’t know just watched him forgive his father at the wrong funeral. There was a part of me that felt bad for Fat Charlie and a part of me that couldn’t help but laugh.
…And thats only the beginning.
Fat Charlie thought he had all the answers, he was going to get married and work in accounting and live out his life, but the death of his father and meeting the brother he never knew he had turns his life upside down. Essentially, Fat Charlie ended up with more than he ever bargained for and he has to find a way to dig himself out of the hole he ended up in. And that is what I loved most about this book, watching someone whose life changed so dramatically so quickly learn to navigate new ropes, to figure out what the right decisions are, to learn to deal with things in new ways. It was a fun ride.
Another thing that I absolutely loved about Anansi Boys is the myth behind the book. The old stories of Anansi were very entertaining. The world that Fat Charlie never knew existed, and the way the people and creatures in those worlds reacted to Fat Charlie also made for good reading.
I didn’t really know where Gaiman was going to take things towards the end. Of course I had my suspicions and I knew what I wanted to happen, but in the end I was completely satisfied. I absolutely loved the way everything turned out for Fat Charlie, Spider, and his boss.
Bottom line, Anansi Boys was a great book. I really liked Gaiman’s writing, it was entertaining and easy to read. I definitely recommend Anansi Boys and I’ll definitely be checking out his other works.
June 23, 2011 § 1 Comment
Synopsis from author’s website:its speak of secrets….
Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane’s private enquiry business.
Among the more unlikely clients: Julia’s very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved—if eccentric—family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation.
It leads to the exclusive Spirit Club, where the alluring Madame Séraphine holds evening séances…and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall. From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of murder, espionage and blackmail, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust.
Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont’s sake—and more—they’ll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets: the kind men kill to keep…the kind that can destroy a fledgling marriage.
From the start, the stories of Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have held me captive. I have, over the course of several books watched the two characters grow and change as individuals and as a couple. Even before The Dark Enquiry the two had weathered so much together, so when the investigation in this book turned out to be tied close to the family, I was intrigued to see how everything would work out – for better, or worse.
There is, in my opinion, a huge plus column backing up The Dark Enquiry. First, there is the fact that we get to learn more about Brisbane’s character, his past, and his heritage. Brisbane easily counts as one of my favorite characters of all time, and learning more about him and the rough life he’s lived always interests me, even if the character isn’t always so happy about his history coming to the forefront. Second, is the involvement of Lady Julia’s brother, Lord Bellmont. Up to this point Bellmont has been pegged as the uptight eldest brother. When it comes out- at least to Brisbane and Lady Julia – that even the super conservative and beyond proper politician he is can make mistakes, well I just plain loved the idea of him being brought down to the same level as the rest of us – the human level.
There are many other pluses as well… Aquinas is back, which makes me very happy. His loyalty to and understanding of the family always adds a bit of… levelheadedness to the story. Plum’s continued participation in Brisbane’s inquiry business is also a source of enjoyment. There is more of Lord March (and his hermit!), Portia, and we see Fleur again! As always the relationship between Morag and Lady Julia is thoroughly entertaining.
In addition to the wonderful characters and the always interesting investigations, The Dark Enquiry is another very emotional story. Again, from beginning to end The Dark Enquiry had me laughing or tearing up, or at parts staring at the screen in disbelief. In fact, towards the end my heart broke for Julia and Brisbane, so much so that it took me a few minutes to gather my bearings and read on. In fact, there seems to be a new pattern with Dark Road to Darjeeling and The Dark Enquiry - that being that these two stories have a much darker feel to them, as well as an intensity that the first three books didn’t have.
The bottom line, The Dark Enquiry is another phenomenal story of the happenings in the lives of the Brisbane’s and their family. This series has been amazing from book one through book five and I will continue to be a loyal follower of the series.
*A digital copy of this book was provided to me from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.
June 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have spent the last few months traveling and honeymooning. All is generally going well, that is until Portia and Plum track the two down and share with them a bit of shocking news. Portia has had a letter from Jane who is pregnant, widowed, and sure that her husband was murdered. And so the four pack up and head to India to see Jane… and maybe solve a murder, or two.
Dark Road to Darjeeling, the fourth Lady Julia novel, is a great read – as they all have been. However, this particular novel is set apart by an intensity that the other novels did not possess. While there was the mystery and intrigue, the great writing that keeps me hooked from page one, it’s more than that. One father’s desperation and another’s cruelty lead to acts you don’t want to believe possible. Unexpected deaths, family eccentricities, and the never ending stubbornness of some individuals are all things that kept me turning pages.
I’ll admit to one concern I had going into this book. Being that this is the first of the books where Lady Julia and Brisbane are married, I’ll admit I was a bit worried that their relationship would change with their new status. You know what I mean; the lovey, dovey everything is perrrfect relationship. Well, I should have known better. A huge part of what I love about these books is the constant butting of heads between the two, all the conflict. Believe me when I say, Dark Road to Darjeeling has it’s share of conflict between the couple.
As for that intensity I mentioned earlier, the last third or so of the book is what provides that. I don’t want to give anything away, but I have a few words that will do the job of explaining. There are people who run away, people who die… and a tiger attack.
There is, throughout the book, only one thing that really makes me angry. That thing is what happens to Jane. I just want to ask, WHY?!
All in all, Dark Road to Darjeeling was a great read. Deanna Raybourn has yet to fail to captivate me with her Lady Julia books. There are some great new characters in this book and there are lots of twists and turns that I never expected. I experienced WTF moments, moments of despair, laughter… really my emotions ran the gamut reading this one. Another fantastic read from Deanna Raybourn.