Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kimberly reviews: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
How I got it: I bought it from B&N
Why I read it: Because it’s on the banned book list!

Jonas' life is perfect. Everything is controlled and the way that things are supposed to be. No war, no pain, everyone has a role selected for them. Even the weather is perfect. It only rains when it needs to and the temperature is always perfect. When he turns twelve he is given his “role”, the job he will start training to do for the rest of his life. He has been assigned to learn from “The Giver”. The Giver is the one person who holds all of the memories of true pain and happiness.

I’m having a difficult time understanding why this is on the banned books list. I didn’t find anything in it that would put it on that list. But then, most of the books on that list don’t deserve to be there.

It’s really an enjoyable read. It’s quite unlike anything I’d read before. It kept me constantly guessing at what was happening. What secrets does The Giver hold? Why were Jonah’s parent’s so concerned when he told them about his dream? And what really happens to the babies that “don’t develop right”?

I’d recommend this to just about anyone. Even if it’s simply because you want to read it because it’s been banned. It’s an intriguing novel, with interesting characters and a plotline that will hook you.

My rating: 4.5 Stars

For those of you that have read this already, there is a sequel! I didn’t know that for the longest time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

R holds forth on Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm by George Orwell
New Windmills, 1972 (I totally can't find a picture of the right cover, by the way... The one on the left is just one I picked at random.)
How I got this book: It was lying about the house.
Why I read this book: I read this one some years ago, when I was 13... So, really I read it because it has animals in it and I liked animals.

Well, I think it would be fairly accurate to say that Animal Farm's reputation precedes it. On the surface, it is a fairytale (as Orwell originally subtitled it), a bit of fantasy about a farm full of animals who manage to drive the farmer away and take over the farm. Beyond that, it was actually written as a pretty direct critique of the Soviet Union as it was up to the end of World War 2, when the book was published.

As I remember it, from the very beginning of my knowledge of its existence, it has been indelibly associated in my mind with the Soviet Union - It had been represented to me as an allegory of Stalinism, and as I was vaguely aware of that as I read the book. I wasn't remotely mature enough or sufficiently in tune with world history to really understand what that meant, but I certainly was vaguely aware of it. I mean, the main reason I read it was because of the animals! What does a clueless kid care about politics or people who lived a long time ago in a country far, far away?

As it is, it was only when I later learned about the situation which inspired Orwell to write this allegory, when I finally began to gain a proper inkling about the historical context of the book, that I understood why it was considered so controversial a publication at the time.

It is interesting to note the various reasons that have been given - or can be deduced - for the banning of the novella.

I think that the heart of why this book has had such extreme reactions to it in the sixty-five years since its publication is that - assuming no prior knowledge of Orwell's anti-Stalin intent - it can be broadly interpreted as being about any political regime at all that makes great populist promises and ends up letting its supporters down... Hence the number of governments that have opposed it over the years, in states that may have nothing really to do with the USSR on face value.

Of course, such censorship theoretically does have a lovely way of backfiring. On the one hand the masses within these Animal Farm-deprived states may be prevented from exposure to anti-government ideas. But to the few who are somehow clued in to what they're missing, and certainly on the international level, such state-wide censorship by the Powers that Be is pretty much an admission of guilt... which would have exactly the opposite effect to what the state-controlled censorship boards might have hoped for.

Additionally, the Wikipedia article on banned books yielded an unexpected piece of information - Animal Farm has been banned in schools in The United Arab Emirates since 2002 because "it contained text or images that goes against Islamic and Arab values". I haven't any access to the original reference used in the article, so I'm assuming that this must be due to the anthropomorphic portrayal of pigs. From what I understand, it is also banned in private secular schools for non-Muslim expatriates; my general desire for the separation of religion and state means that this is disappointing news.

That said, it might be pertinent to note that the book isn't banned throughout the country but only in schools... I do wonder if its ban in schools is more a symbolic gesture than an actual restriction in this case, considering the book's availability through other channels. The school ban is particularly interesting because it suggests that age was a factor in determining whether the book constitutes appropriate reading material, even in the realm of religious censorship. Considering how my appreciation of the allegorical nature of Animal Farm has grown over the years, the age factor is certainly an interesting question to raise.

(Relatedly, there is an interesting review/article/essay thing about the impact of Animal Farm written by Christopher Hitchens, who does a much better job than I've done here... Although, as this other guy points out, the book actually is accessible in many Muslim countries, unlike what Hitchens mentions - so, pinch of salt, I guess?)

Stephany's Review of A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Mass Market Paperback)TitleA Diary of a Young Girl 

Author: Anne Frank

Publisher: Doubleday

Where I Got It: Library

Why I Read It: In honor of banned books week
Rating: 5 stars!!

In honor of Banned Books Week, I decided to read Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It's listed on the 2009-2010 list of the most challenged and/or banned books. When I first saw it on this list, I was completely dumbfounded!

Diary of a Young Girl is written as a diary when Anne gets it as a gift. She starts a diary talking about her life, goals, expectations, etc. It eventually goes into what it's like to have yourself and your entire family hidden away from Nazi's because you're a Jew. It talks about what it's like to be the front end of racism, how she and her family were treated, and how they had to hide. Unfortunately, they were found and they were taken to a concentration camp where she was brutally beaten, injured and soon died there. Her diary takes into the emotional and physical aspects of what she had to go through, and how she got through the little bit that she did.

My thoughts on this book is that it's a fantastic book. I read it in school (checked out from the schools library!) when I was younger, and just recently re-read it again! It teaches woman nowadays how to be strong in the lives we lead, how to grow and be young ladies and how no matter what life throws our way, we CAN get by! This books also teaches us about the history of World War II, Nazi's, Jews, and Concentration Camps. What's better then reading an actual diary about all of this, rather then a history book?  I do not think this book deserves to be on a challenged or banned book list. I feel as if those who DO want it banned, need to be less judgmental and more open minded. Why not let your kids read such an amazing book and  learn history all at the same time?

Why It's On The Banned And/Or Challenged Book List:

I found the 2009-2010 Banned Books list on the American Library Association's website. Here is a direct quote from their list as to why it was banned:

"Challenged at the Culpeper County, Va. public school (2010) by a parent requesting that her daughter not be required to read the book aloud. Initially, it was reported that officials have decided to stop assigning a version of Anne Frank’s diary,one of the most enduring symbols of the atrocities of the Nazi regime, due to the complaint that the book includes sexual material and homosexual themes. The director of instruction announced the edition, published on the fiftieth anniversary of Frank’s death in a concentration camp, will not be used in the future despite the fact the school system did not follow its own policy for handling complaints. The remarks set off a hailstorm of criticism online and brought international attention to the 7,600-student school system in rural Virginia.The superintendent said, however, that the book will remain a part of the English classes, although it may be taught at a different grade level. Source: Mar. 2010, pp. 57–58; May 2010, p. 107."

I just don't understand this at all. You don't want your kids reading such a book because of sexual material and homosexual themes? So I am assuming that you don't want your kids watching tv, or going outside in public where they can SEE these things happen on a daily basis. It's just a book that will teach your children history!!!! I feel like it's people who ban or challenge books that make others dislike reading. Whatever happened to our freedom to read and write as we choose? It just irks me. In my opinion, Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl deserves 5 stars, and to never be banned or challenged!!! I will definitely allow my kids to read this book, in fact, if it's not a requirement for them to read it in school by the time I have kids, it will be required for them to read one summer between school years!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Ten Favorite Fictional Couples in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time...just post what you can!

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is all about our favorite couples in literature. For me, a good romantic relationship in literature is one that is, in general, not formed too hastily and the development of the relationship is at least somewhat believable. On occasion I do become enthralled with romantic relationships that are hastily formed and are the most ridiculous love stories ever. It happens. I'm ok with it. None of the romantic relationships ever seem to take the same form. Sometimes I like quiet relationships and sometimes I like really drama-filled ones--all seem to have some flaws and reflect the issues inherent in loving someone. I cannot stand obsessive and unhealthy relationships. I understand there are those relationships but they won't make my favorite couples list. I understand falling head over heels but becoming a mindless creature that can't function on your own disgusts me.

Some picks might include spoilers if you haven't read them:

1. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice -- I'm sure everyone will have this on their list. I may be a bit impartial with this one as my own "love story" looked like this. I loathed my boyfriend when I first met him and essentially thought myself better than him like Elizabeth did. Out of nowhere I found myself wanting to spend time with him and thinking of him differently. He had always known he had feelings for me and he waited patiently for me to realize and reciprocate.

2. Romeo and Juliet -- I genuinely was obsessed with this relationship in high school when I read it. I really didn't even like this play but loved their relationship and oohed and ahhed at their true love and all the dramatics of it. I wonder if I would still feel the same reading it now.

3. Eliza Doolittle and Freddy in Pygmalion -- I read this in my 11th grade Brit Lit class and wrote a paper on it because I loved this play (and also was obsessed with My Fair Lady). I know everybody WANTED Eliza and Higgins to get together but I never really did. Ok, maybe there was a small part of me, but for once I was happy that the guy who genuinely liked the girl--albiet the "nice guy"--got the girl! Don't get me wrong, I like when a guy changes and comes to realize his faults in how he treated a woman and they live happily ever after. But for some reason I just really loved that Freddy liked her for who she was and found her charming and quirky.

4. Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games-- Disclaimer: I've only read The Hunger Games so far so I have NO idea who she ends up with AND I realize that they weren't technically a couple but they were in my mind! I just thought this was a really realistic, sweet kind of couple. She could be herself and that was what he liked about her. They had a friendship as a foundation and there was that extra something something there. I am scared to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay because I just have a bad feeling about the liklihood of them ending up together. SHHH. Don't tell.

5. Pigeon and Anieleca from A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True-- Loved this sweet couple! I love the way he was hellbent on getting her family's respect and then wooing her. I loved his genuine devotion and love for her. Le sigh.

6. Henry and Clare in The Time Traveler's Wife -- This is one of those couples that I loved and don't know why! Some of the girls in the College Students group and I were discussing how tragic it was that all she did was just wait and wait for him all her life and the relationship's development was so abnormal because she just always knew she was supposed to be with him since she was young. For whatever reason, I found myself loving it despite this. I still can't figure out WHAT was so redeeming about it but it moved me in a certain way and that counts for something.

7.  The wife and husband in Blindness-- This might seem like an odd choice. I understand that. However, I just loved how she pretended to be blind and went with him into  these horrible living conditions and took care of  him. I love how she tried so hard in little ways to make him not feel so helpless and how she still loved him even when he resented that she could see. She could have had a much more comfortable life outside the asylum but she chose to remain with her husband.

8. Odysseus and Penelope from The Odyssey-- I remember not being excited to read this for class but I found myself smitten with this couple! Epitome of sacrifice and devotion to your true love! Enough said!

9. Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables series -- Childhood favorite! I'm in need of a re-read but I remember always rooting for them and thinking they were so cute! Love a good happily ever after story!

10. Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza from Love in the Time of Cholera -- Ok, so one word here--PASSION. This relationship just took ahold of me from the beginning and took me from a ride for sure. The relationship was clearly flawed and messed up with him being a player and her being a tease and rejecting him but I just found it wildly passionate.

What are your favorite couples in books? Do you disagree/agree with any of mine? What makes a good fictional couple in your mind? What couples make you want to gag? :)

Next week's topic -- Top Ten Favorite Authors

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tahleen reviews: "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie

Author: Sherman Alexie
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2009
Where I got it: I bought it from Barnes & Noble.

Rating: ★★★★★

Arnold "Junior" Spirit has lived on the Spokane Indian Reservation for his whole life, all 14 years of it. But he knows he needs to get out or he'll never make it out of there alive. His only other option? To transfer to Reardan High School, 22 miles outside the rez and full of white people.

Junior's got a lot to deal with. He's the only Indian in this strange new place (aside from the school mascot) with strange new rules. He has to deal with being shunned by his own people, who accuse him of being a traitor to his tribe. And he has to deal with major life changes and tragedy, all while trying to just make it from one day to the next.

Alexie examines serious issues like alcoholism, death, racism and poverty, yet still manages to be funny throughout. Junior gets through everything with as positive an attitude as he can and is able to make the most depressing situations humorous. It's often gallows humor, yes, but it's still laugh-out-loud funny. Junior talks to his audience in a very conversational and familiar tone, creating a kinship with the reader.

Of course, there are many heartbreaking moments that just bleed grief—Junior won't come right out and say what happens at first, but will ease the reader into it, sometimes giving them a shock in the process. His pain is palpable and you can almost hear him wail in mourning behind his written words and cartoons. Yet he's always able to pick himself up and move on, bringing back his unique perspective on the life he was given and the life he chooses for himself.

Junior's cartoons throughout (the work of Ellen Forney) add an extra-textual element that greatly enhances Junior's narration. It often makes the tone light, yet communicates pain and fear through this lightness, creating a complex and more complete story. It also provides us with a little more insight into Junior's mind and the way he sees the world.

This book is largely autobiographical, as Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and transfered to the nearby white high school. Wellpinit and Reardan are real places, and Alexie pays them homage in his dedication. Because this is based on fact, Alexie's depictions of life on a reservation can be trusted—not many teens are aware of what that's like even though it should be taught to them (I learned quite a bit too). Alexie provides an honest and blunt picture for his readers; it's presented in a light-hearted fashion, yet retains a sadness that tends to stay with you.

This book has been banned earlier this month, on a side note. I am very upset and saddened by this, especially considering that the objections focus on the swearing and the mentions of masturbation and a few other sexual insinuations (though nothing is ever described in detail). I don't believe these to be good reasons to ban a book in a high school—those kids already know what masturbation is, sorry to break it to you. Missing out on such a wonderful and relevant book is a shame—it teaches about multicultural issues and things going on in our country right now, not to mention it deals with subjects that should be addressed in a classroom setting. It will open up discussion and bring up things that are often swept under the proverbial rug.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lori's Livres--Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee

Book Title/Author: Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee
Publisher/Year Published: Random House, 1955
How I got a hold of this book: I received this book from PaperBackSwap in return for departing with an old book.
Why I read this book: I wanted to read the play before I watch the movie (which has Gene Kelly in it, yum!)
Rating: 4.5 stars because it make me think about a grander issue than the lovely Gene Kelly, who was the main reason I picked it up in the first place.

The events that took place during the Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925 very obviously form the background from this play.  Yet, the play has a life and message of its own.  Yes, a few quotes from the trial transcripts were used.  But the play could have survived without such quotations.  Any town at any time could be the setting of the play because it explores a larger issue than merely the legality of banning versus the acceptability of teaching evolution in schools.

The play chronicles the circus-like atmosphere and the attention that descended upon a small town when two of the country's most infamous legal minds collided in a small courtroom.  Matthew Harrison Brady is clearly based upon William Jennings Bryan and Henry Drummond is clearly based upon Clarence Darrow.   The cynical EK Hornbeck is based upon HL Mencken (and is played by Gene Kelly in the film).  There is not a lot of point in going over the storyline because it closely follows that of the Scopes Monkey Trial.  There is a lot of highfalutin speech-making.  Drummond calls Brady to the stand and makes a fool out of him and his beliefs.  Brady wins the case, but Drummond wins the war.

The grander issue at stake in this play is the issue of free speech.  Much has been made over what constitutes protected speech--you can't shout "Fire" in a crowded movie house because it might cause injury, the dissemination of pornography (and Potter Stewart knows it when he sees it) is limited because of the offense principle, and hate speech isn't protected either.  Other First Amendment rights have also been debated extensively in the national sphere.

This play reminded me of that old saying, oft-attributed to Voltaire, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."  After Hornbeck takes the wrong message of the case a bit too far, Drummond points out that "Brady had the same right as Cates [the teacher on trial]: the right to be wrong."  I questioned myself and my thoughts toward the right to say what one will, the right of each individual to be wrong.  For that, I gave this book 4.5 stars.  It also made me read a bit of HL Mencken's A Mencken Chrestomathy: His Own Selection of His Choicest Writing and that was pretty amazing too.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tahleen reviews: "Forever..." by Judy Blume

Today marks the first day of Banned Books Week! What banned books are you reading this week to celebrate it?

Forever . . .TitleForever...
Author: Judy Blume
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, 1975
Where I got it: I took this out of the library.

Rating: ★★★½

When Katherine meets Michael, she begins to feel things she hasn't felt before. Among these are sexual desires, and Katherine must decide if she's ready to lose her virginity. Forever... tells a sweet story of first love and sexual awakening, as well as taking responsibility for the decisions that go along with it.

Katherine and Michael's relationship is pretty accurate of how a teen's first relationship feels like. Katherine narrates her story in an almost diary-like format, telling us all of her experiences and emotions through this first serious relationship in her life, and her first real sexual encounters. Anyone who has been a teenager will understand what she's going through, even if they didn't have sex at the time (or still haven't). Readers will identify with the relationship aspect and the decisions that have to be made within a relationship.

Unfortunately I found the writing a bit bland. There wasn't much of a plot, as it is mostly about sex and, in essence, is meant to educate about how to go about it safely. What really bothered me was the constant use of elipses, which don't just make an appearance in the title. There might be pauses in real speech like that, but I don't particularly care to read it in almost every sentence.

So why am I including this as a Banned Books Week post?

Over the years, Forever... has been challenged many times, so much that it is number 8 on the American Library Association's top 100 banned books list for the decade of 1990-2000. The reason for the challenge is clear: Blume gives detailed descriptions of sexual activity and has Katherine go on the birth control pill. Yet, it doesn't out and out say all teens should go out and start having sex. Rather, Blume educates her readers on the proper precautions they should take should they decide to become sexually active, which, let's face it, many teens do (regardless of whether they read books like Blume's or not).

Instead of banning this book, parents and educators should take the time to talk to their children and students about sex. In fact, this book provides a great starting point for broaching the subject. They know what sex is, and they may have already had sexual experience. If it's not discussed and if all literature pertaining to it is banned, there is no way for them to know how to protect themselves. Sex is a choice that everyone must make. Some will decide to abstain, others won't. It has been like that, well, forever. So don't take the chance for others to learn away by taking this book off the shelves. It might not be the greatest literature out there, but it serves a worthwhile purpose.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

**You can win a copy of this novel here**

Matrimony: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries)Title/Author: Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
Publisher/Year: Pantheon 2007
How I Got This Book: The author contacted me on Goodreads
Rating: I'm not doing a star rating for this one. I couldn't decide. See my recommendation in the last two paragraphs to see if this novel is for you.

This is one of those books that I knew, while I was reading it, I was going to have a hard time reviewing and I realized it was because I was getting all apprehensive about having to give it a star rating because I felt like I just couldn't. Sometimes things just aren't that cut and dry. I am refusing to commit to a star rating for this review.

When I received this book, I really wasn't sure that I'd like it. The title turned me off for some reason. I'm weird like that. A title could make me want to pick up a book or pass it by no matter if the book is crap or really great. Am I the only one like this? Anyways, this book was one of those that exceeded my expectations.

This novel centers around Julian Wainwright, a privileged kid that just doesn't fit into the mold of your typical trust fund baby like many of his prep school classmates. Much to the dismay of  his investment banker father, Julian is passionate about becoming a writer of great novels. The novel chronicles Julian's life through college and mid-adulthood as he finds friendship, love and success and learns how hard it can be hold on to it all.

I really enjoyed this novel. The pace was perfect for me, for the most part, and the characters were believable and interesting. I thought the relationships between Mia, his girlfriend turned wife, and Carter, his best friend, held the sort of family dynamic that I appreciate as someone who has built a family full of great friends. The familial relationships explored in this novel seemed genuine and I could relate to many of the issues constructed in the novel.

Henkin has a knack for delivering memorable characters. I love when I become fond of a minor character, who might just be in the book for a chapter or two, but their impact on the character weaves itself through the pages of the character's life. I loved Mr. Kang (the owner of the grocery store Julian goes to in college), Mr. Chesterfield (his writing professor) and Henry (a fellow grad student that we only meet for a little bit). These characters were crafted to be those types of people that we all encounter in our lives--the ones that are there for a little while but our memory of them is lasting and we think fondly of them.

I was really interested in how the college life was portrayed as I can never seem to find novels with main characters that are in college. The college life, despite the fact it was set in the late 80's, seemed to be pretty realistic aside from the fact it all seemed so much more formal and sophisticated than my college experience. At the heart of it was those late night pigout sessions at diners, laughing until you cry and doing some of the most random things you will ever do in your life. I also thought Henkin really portrayed that feeling of anxiety at being propelled into the adult world. They are all the things I'm going through right now--the prospect of an engagement, figuring out what I want to do with my life and just finding who I am as an adult.

Some of the reviews I had seen for this book deemed this book as boring and this made me worried. After reading the book, I would have to disagree. I am a fan of quiet stories that deal with ordinary lives but are interesting and thought-provoking in their own way. This book, for me, is like listening to some quiet, soulful woman sitting at a piano in the corner of a lounge. I am relaxed, maybe sipping a glass of wine, and enjoying the soothing sound of the voice in the background as I feel the love or the loss she sings about penetrating deeply within me. I am not entertained in the same way that I would be after attending a flashy, hip shaking Lady Gaga concert. There is a need for both of those in my life.

Similarly, it all depends on what you are looking for in a book when you read this. If you are looking for an action packed "Lady Gaga-esque" book that is plot based and keeps your heart racing, I would not recommend this to you. If you enjoy a novel with a beautiful sense of quietness that peers into the lives of everyday people, then `I think you would really enjoy this novel.

Also reviewed on my personal blog-- The Perpetual Page-Turner

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Julia Reviews "Wicked Intentions" by Elizabeth Hoyt

Title/Author: Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
Publisher/Year Published: 2010 by Grand Central Publishing
How I got this book: This book was provided free for review by the publisher
Why I read this book: All of Elizabeth Hoyt's books that I have read were awesome and original.
Rating: 5 stars

I read romance novels. I am not afraid or ashamed to say so. I even take them out in public to read them. Like any other genre, there a good romance novels with developed characters and great plots riveting enough to wonder if that happy ending really is going to happen, and then there are bad novels that you wish you could bleach your brain into forgetting you ever read such tripe. Wicked Intentions is the former.

The book starts off following our heroine, Temperance as she collects another baby to add to her orphanage. This bring the grand total of the children up to 27, and Temperance and her brother, Winter, are running out of money. Enter our hero, the shady Lord Caire. He offers to help her find a patron for their house if she helps him travel around the St. Giles part of London as he searches for a murderer.

I was intrigued. First off, this is a historical romance that is not set among high society. (gasp!) We are in the slums in an orphanage following the characters around as they try to solve the mystery of a dead prostitute. One point for the interesting and unique plot.

Also, we have Temperance. From the context clues I had, I deduced that she is some sort of Puritan (black clothes, religious, her siblings are also names after other virtues.. seriously one is named Silence) which again makes this book super intriguing. You see, she is a widow and thus has already been introduced to the more carnal side of marriage. She feels guilt for her past lust and is dealing with that throughout the course of this novel.

Which in my mind brings up an interesting point about women and sexuality. If we are too sexual we are branded whores, sluts, easy. But through her interactions with Lord Caire, Temperance discovers her sexuality and comes to the realization that it is not bad or evil, a message that I think some women need to hear today, as well.

Quick side note: When I was reading this novel, I couldn't help but think of names and naming things. The characters names took me quite a while to get used to (Silence, Winter, Temperance). Also the children in the orphanage were all names Mary or Joseph something. Talk about a missed opportunity! I was giving them all more awesome names in my head. Does having strange names for main characters ever bother anyone else? What was the strangest name you have come across?

Strange names or not, Wicked Intentions has a great plot, a wonderful murder mystery, very hot sex scenes (Elizabeth Hoyt seriously does these great in every book of hers that I've read), strong characters and an interesting premise for future books in the series. If you are looking for a book that is a great escape as well as great reading (and are not afraid of a little sex) check out Wicked Intentions. I will definitely be picking up the next book in her series.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kelly's Review of "Falling Angels" by Tracy Chevalier

Title: Falling Angels
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Published: Plume, 2001
Where I Got It: I sound repetitive, Goodwill
Why I Read It: I loved Girl with a Pearl Earring by the same author

I was hooked by the very first page, no, the very first sentence.

"I woke this morning with a stranger in my bed."

What a hook. I just had to keep reading! Anyways, within the opening pages, Queen Victoria dies. Two seemingly different London families living different lives meet at the cemetery to mourn her. One family looks towards the future and change, the other family is firmly rooted in their Victorian ways. These families become entwined with each other and the rest of the book follows them throughout nine years of ups and downs.

Some argue that the mothers/wives of the two families, Kitty and Gertrude, are the main characters of the book. I believe that their daughters, Maude and Lavinia, are the two stars. They endure the most change throughout the story. We watch them grow up through the eyes of their parents, friends, household, and each other.

There are a lot of characters and side stories; usually, this would throw me off and annoy me. Here, not the case. All of the characters are fresh, interesting, and realistic. Each individual's voice is distinctive and offers a new perspective to the story. The cemetery, where the two families originally meet, acts as a character itself. It's where the title of the book came from, where many other significant events take place, and represents Victorian England's obsession with death.

An interesting side story is Kitty Coleman's involvement in the women's suffrage movement. The actions that she takes greatly affect both families, and lead to the heartbreaking ending. I felt I learned a great deal about not only the suffrage movement, but also about Victorian/Edwardian customs in the household and for mourning.

I loved everything about this book. I love books that are either found by accident or are seemingly unheard of that turn out to be jewels. This is definitely one of those; a keeper to read over and over. 5 stars.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Stephany's Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time...just post what you can!

This week's topic is your Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes!!!


I must first say that this topic was actually a bit harder than expected. Not to actually FIND a total of ten book quotes that are my favorite, but that fact that I have so many book quotes copied down, it was hard to choose WHICH ten I wanted! I tried really hard to stay away from more than one quote per author, but that was definitely a fail! But, here is my top ten favorite book quotes (In no particular order)! ENJOY!

  1. "It's crazy isn't it? To love someone who hurts you. It's even crazier to hurt someone you love." -- Jodi Picoult, The 10th Circle
  2. "All good things come to those who wait." -- Fern Michaels, The Scoop
  3. "This is scaring the crap out of me. This is like where Dracula would live if he didn't have any money and was a crack head. I bet it's filled with rapid bats and killer snakes and hairy spiders as big as dinner plates." -- Janet Evanovich, Sizzling Sixteen
  4. "Isn't it amazing how, when you strip away everything, people are so much alike?" – Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes
  5. "Never get attached to a guy if there's a third party involved. The third party always wins. Because they have history on their side." -- Karen Kingsbury, Above the Line Series, Take Three
  6. "You know it's never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It's always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride." -- Jodi Picoult, Mercy
  7. "Metabolisms are evil, wicked, vile things." -- Johanna Edwards, The Next Big Thing
  8. "I, um, I have this problem. I broke up with my boyfriend, you see. And I'm pretty upset about it, so I wanted to talk to my best friend. The thing is, they're both you." -- Jodi Picoult, The Pact
  9. "How would you ever know happiness if you've never experience downs?" -- Cecilia Ahern, P.s. I Love You
  10. "When you're struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it's just as hard as what you're going through." -- Nicholas Sparks, Dear John

What are some of your favorite book quotes? Did you have any of the ones I listed, or have you read any of these books? Please join in, and don't worry if you can't think of ten! Just fill out Mr. Linky below and join! 



Monday, September 20, 2010

Jess' Review: Born to Run (Christopher McDougall)

Title: Born to Run
Author: Christopher McDougall
Publisher: Knopf, 2009
Notes: I checked this book out of the library.

Like many other runners, I was drawn to Born to Run because it captured the tale of the fascinating Tarahumara Indians—a community of cultural ultramarathon runners in Mexico. This book is much more than a book about running, though.

McDougall's book takes the reader on a whirlwind adventure through the dangerous Copper Canyons of Mexico and some of the craziest ultramarathons in the U.S. The first two-thirds of the book centers around his experiences trying to find the mysterious Tarahumara—and a man who has become associated with them, Caballo Blanco (White Horse). Along the way, McDougall introduces some light sociopolitical issues in Mexico—though certainly not enough to irritate the anti-politics reader—and offers a humorous outlook on the experience. Later in the book he gets to the more physiological stuff that will probably interest runners and forensic anthropologists more than anyone else.

Why would I recommend this book to a non-runner? This book will resonate with people who get thrills from Nando Parrado's Miracle in the Andes or any of Jon Krakauer's works. It is a book rich in history, humor, and culture. The characters McDougall meets along the way are unusual and more than a little eccentric, but if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself attached to them. If you are interested in running or exercise physiology, this book might have you reeling; it defies everything you thought you understood about running shoes and pronation.

Review: 5 stars

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tahleen reviews: "Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith" by Deborah Heiligman

Author: Deborah Heiligman
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co., 2008
Where and why: I saw this on display at my local library. I heard it had won a few awards and was curious about it, so I checked it out.

Rating: ★★★½

Deborah Heiligman takes on the challenge of writing a biography of one of the most famous scientists in history and his beloved wife, for young readers. But this isn't just a cut and dry book about science and religion—it's a love story that succeeded against all odds.

This was a great overview of the Darwins' life together. Emma was a devoted Christian, and Charles was a devoted scientist with serious doubts about God; yet they managed to make it work, so great was their love for each other. We start off with Darwin's famous pros and cons list of marriage, moving on to his first failed engagement, and finally into his marriage with Emma. Heiligman shows her readers why Emma was such a devoted Christian, why Charles couldn't believe like she did, and how they somehow met in the middle. We share their joy in the births of the children and their sorrow during death, up to the end of their own lives.

It is aimed at the young-adult reading level, and the writing was spot-on for that demographic, but I'm just wondering how many sixth-graders are going to want to read an entire 232-page book about Charles and Emma Darwin. It took me a while to get through it, and I'm in my 20s.

I did really enjoy how Heiligman delved into how the Darwins dealt with the fact that their spiritual beliefs differed so greatly, and yet they were so in love for the duration of their lives. It's a beautiful story, really. At the time I read it I could identify with some aspects of it too, and it really put my own situation into perspective.

Heiligman also does a wonderful job at characterizing these historical figures. We see Darwin's brilliance and his humor, his virtues as well as his faults; we see Emma's passion and devotion, her love and loyalty for her family. It's clear she wants her readers to get to know her subjects, instead of just learning about them.

All in all, this was a great biography for younger readers—the only problem was that it dragged a bit in some places for me, and so I immediately thought of how middle schoolers would take to it. Provided they can get through it, they'll certainly learn a lot about the Darwins and what they put themselves up against. I would even recommend this to adults who are interested in learning more about the famous couple.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Anna's review of 'Full Frontal Feminism' by Jessica Valenti

Title: Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide To Why Feminism Matters
Author: Jessica Valenti
Publisher: Seal Press, 1997
How I got this book: I read it at college then I bought it.

I gotta make a confession: I used to think feminism was ridiculous. Whenever I heard it mentioned I'd roll my eyes, and I had several arguments with people where I said that it was just a bunch of crazy man-haters. It wasn't until I was forced to read this book for sociology that my views on feminism began to change. I realized that everything I'd thought about feminism was wrong and that feminism is, in fact, a gift to both women and men. We just have to accept and embrace it. Valenti's book addresses the many myths that exist about feminism and broadly describes what feminism is about.

The book begins that many people are feminists but don't identify as one for a variety of different reasons. Reasons such as they believe the myths about feminism like every feminist is a lesbian who hates men, all feminists are ugly, etc. Those myths just that- myths, and by the end of the book, Valenti will have you convinced that there is not a shred of truth in those myths. Valenti then goes on to discuss how things like pop culture, sexuality, work, and violence against women relate to feminism. The book is directed at an American audience. I'm not from America but it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book. One of the best things about this book is its language. Valenti writes very colloquially; it reads like a conversation you are having with your best friend who is telling you about feminism. Another wonderful thing about 'Full Frontal Feminism' is that at the end of most of the chapters, there is information about where one can find out more about a topic, as well as how one can help out. Throughout the book I found myself nodding along agreeing with Valenti and being able to relate to most of it. For instance, what woman hasn't heard things like wearing a short skirt/dress/top means a man may thing you are 'asking for it', what woman doesn't fear walking on her own at night in a city because she's afraid she'll be raped? As Valenti rightly says, rape is seen as an inevitable part of life instead of an epidemic that needs to be stopped.

Valenti also talks about men and feminism. Men are harmed by patriarchy also and as Valenti says, "their problems are our problems, ladies". The first time I read this book this chapter was one of the biggest shocks to me, which I feel really bad about now. She talks about how men are affected by patriarchy as they are taught that they must never show emotions, that they must be aggressive, dominant, be the bread-winner, etc. I really wish that Valenti had talked about men and feminism more, but the one chapter she wrote on it is excellent.

Overall I loved this book. One of the few things I disliked about it is that she doesn't write enough about patriarchy and capitalism- capitalism reinforces patriarchy and vice versa. That aside though, it is an excellent book. It's interesting, gives a broad introduction to feminism, and uses many concrete examples to back up the points made. I'll always have a soft spot for this book as it made me believe in feminism. As soon as I read this book I insisted that all of my friends read it and now we all identify as feminists! For this, I will be forever grateful to Valenti.

Rating: 4 stars

What does feminism mean to you? Do you find yourself thinking of the same stereotypes about feminists?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Required Reading That Doesn't Suck!

As college students, we get assaulted with required reading from all sides. Required reading is, most of the time, unwanted as it interferes with reading books we actually want to read & because it tends to be dry and boring. And then sometimes we get lucky and a professor selects something interesting and maybe even enjoyable to read for class and, being the bookworms that we are, we gladly accept these assignments. Here is a list of required reading that we've encountered that doesn't suck!

After you check out our picks, tell us what required reading you enjoyed in school! 

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.)Jamie's pick: As a Business/Marketing major, a required class is Economics--aka the bane of my existence. Bored me to death and confused the heck out of me. But then my professor assigns us to read Freakonomics and present a chapter out of it. This was one of the most interesting non-fiction books I've ever read. It's not really so much about economics but statistics and numbers and really interesting studies--crime rates dropping mysteriously or cheating in sumo wrestling. I'm not sure how scholarly it actually is as I've seen mixed reviews but I found it to be interesting and wasn't bothered one bit by my time spent reading it.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical TalesKelly's Pick: I'm a psychology major, which unfortunately means that I mostly get assigned really boring books, usually pertaining to statistics, research methods and good old Freud. I was thrilled to be assigned The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat in my Physiological Psychology class this semester! The book is divided into short chapters about real-life patients of Dr. Oliver Sacks, some who cannot recognize faces, are eternally stuck in the 1940s, have phantom limbs and other odd psychological problems. This is even a good book for those who aren't psych students, the workings and abnormalities of the brain are fascinating."

Confucius: The AnalectsR's Pick: I'm studying History and Political Science, and I read this for a classical Chinese political philosophy class. I'm not going to lie to you - I was expecting The Analects to be full of stuff along the lines of, "Old Master say, the richness of spring illuminate the fallen leaf of the bygone autumnal breeze." Or something like that. Well, to be fair to myself and the confused view of Confucius that I held at the time, a lot of the verses do in fact start with "The Master says," and there are a fair number of puzzling parables open to fumbling, inexpert interpretations. Oddly enough, though, a lot of my enjoyment of the Analects came from the conversations between Confucius and a slightly daft disciple of his. Whenever the guy spoke up, Confucius would shower copious amounts of flowery, analogy-filled praise on him. At first I was wondering what was up with that; then it finally struck me - Confucius was being heavily sarcastic and the guy was totally oblivious. And I was very amused. Yeah. Forget about the philosophy in all this. It's the comedy that matters.

The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of SecurityJulia's Pick: My senior year as a Computer Science major, I took a class on computer security. The Art of Deception, written by a hacker who at one point in time was the most wanted computer related criminal in the US, opened my eyes to some of the things that social engineers can do to get your personal information & thereby into a company. It's not as high tech as you would think. This book has true hackers stories and examples interspersed with tidbits of knowledge to keep your company, and yourself, safe from hackers.

Appetites: Why Women WantTahleen's pick: In my senior year of college, I started to get into some really unhealthy eating habits, specifically I wouldn't be eating enough—disordered eating, it's called. Not anorexia, but still not healthy at all. At the time, I was taking my senior seminar for which we read a lot of really great books. But the one that affected me the most was Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp. It snapped me to reality about the way I was abusing my body, and it also brought to light some truths about the way women go about their lives and the way they are perceived that we either take for granted or just don't notice. This should be required reading for every woman who has ever been uncomfortable in her own body or has felt empty inside. In fact, it should be required reading for anyone, man or woman, who wants to take a closer look at their life, the way they treat others, and the way they treat themselves.

The Wretched of the EarthJess' pick: In college, I double majored in International Relations and Religion. The bulk of my classes revolved around the Middle East and Islam, and so I've read a lot of military history, world history, post-colonial theory, and religious texts. One of the most influential books I read—and really enjoyed—was Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon's writing is extremely evocative, and it will make you contemplate the role of imperialism and colonialism in the Third World in different ways.
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