Monday, February 28, 2011

Daisy Reviews The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

Title/Author: The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (The Inheritance Trilogy #2)
Publisher/Date published: Orbit, November 3rd 2010
How I got this book: got it from my parents as a Christmas present, yay!
Why I read this book: I LOVED The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which is the first book in this series. Besides, look at the pretty cover!

Goodreads summary: "The gods have broken free after centuries of slavery, and the world holds its breath, fearing their vengeance. The saga of mortals and immortals continues in THE BROKEN KINGDOMS. In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a homeless man who glows like a living sun to her strange sight. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city. Oree's peculiar guest is at the heart of it, his presence putting her in mortal danger -- but is it him the killers want, or Oree? And is the earthly power of the Arameri king their ultimate goal, or have they set their sights on the gods themselves?"

I first fell in love with this series when I saw the cover of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, it's absolutely beautiful and I so hoped the writing was as good as the cover promised. And it was! I devoured that one and then had to wait 6 agonizing months for the sequel to come out. And was rewarded for my patience with both another pretty cover and an amazing story.

Set 10 years after the happenings in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, we see the story through Oree's eyes, or more acurately: through her eyes, ears, smell and touch. Oree is blind, with the strange ability to see magic. This means she can see the godlings (children of the gods) and any other magic, which leaves a kind of residu sometimes. And as Shadow is a city godlings frequent, she still gets to see a huge amount of the place she lives in. It was so interesting to experience the world through someone who can't see and who doesn't take it for granted the times she can. I also thought it was a nice touch Oree's eyes make people uncomfortable, as in they're repelled by them. It's a change from the different but beautiful eyes. And being able to see magic is just really cool.

Oree interacts with the godlings frequently and one, Madding, used to be her lover. Their interaction is heartbreaking, they didn't break it off because they stopped loving each other, but because he is immortal and fears the pain of loosing her when she dies.

Recently there has been an addition to her house: a strange man who glows magic every morning, who she found in the trash one day. He doesn't talk and since Oree wants to address him somehow, she names him Shiny. The godlings don't like Shiny, but none will tell Oree why. Slowly she figures it out and though I remembered what happened in the first book, I was still slow to grasp the concept. If information about who this man really is gets out, the whole world as Oree knows it would stand on his head.

There's also the problem of people murdering godlings, who aren't supposed to be able to die at the hands of mortals. So who's behind this? And what does he want? Oree's thrown right into the middle of it all and doesn't know how she'll make it out of this alive.

This book was so incredibly amazing! Oree is such a real character, her reactions to things are relateable, though I wouldn't necessarily make the same choices she did, I completely supported her througout the book. She's a strong woman and doesn't like to rely on other people for things. She's learned to cope with being blind and I really enjoyed her story.
I think I developed a little crush on Madding, he is a beautiful person and cares about Oree very much. Godlings have a complex nature and I though Madding and the other were very interesting. Shiny (OMG, how much do I love the author/Oree for coming up with this one! Too funny!) is mysterious and at first, I did not like him very much, but he shows real growth and he has earned a special spot in my heart all for himself. We'd already met him in the first book and I loved how Jemisin explored his character in this one.

The storytelling is beautiful, I could picture everything the author mentions and I loved how I just wanted to keep on reading and at the same time not wanting the book to end. Jemisin has created a wonderful world with perhaps a more mythical than fantasy feeling to it and I absolutely loved it. Now I'll have to wait another agonizing 6 months for the next one!

My rating: 5+ stars

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jamie Talks About Bookishness In The Workplace

On Friday, during my lunch break, I did an impromptu lunch time Twitter poll asking people if, at work, they went out for lunch or ate in. The overwhelming response was that they packed their lunch and ate in the office. One or two said they did both and one person said they ate out most of the time.

My reasoning for asking this was because I'm feeling a little bit of an outcast at my new job. I have an hour lunch break and I choose to eat at my desk and then use the time to read or blog. Pretty much everyone in my office leaves during lunch and goes out in groups to go eat. Don't get me wrong, I love being social, but I really just like to relax during my lunch break and use that time to catch up on reading or blogging. And let's be honest..I'm far too broke to eat out every day. I'm not even joking when I say they all eat out EVERY DAY.

And then I ask my question to my bookish friends on Twitter and they mostly ALL said that they like to stay in for lunch so that they can read or blog...and suddenly I didn't feel so crazy. I just genuinely like sitting in there and relaxes me and is something I enjoy....and I feel like I'm being productive. I'm not trying to be anti-social...I'm really quite a social person that loves to talk..but I have to deal with people all day at work so I want time to myself. And I can't wait until it gets nice..there is a park across the street and I WILL be going there with a blanket to read...maybe people won't think I'm so weird.

So what I want to know..what is your preference the majority of the time? Do you like to sit in at lunch and read/blog? Or do you go out for lunch? And do you feel like an outcast at work because you'd rather sit there with your nose in a book? Do you have other people that share your bookishness at your workplace? Or are you known as "that girl/guy who reads"?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kelly's Review of "Sex with the Queen" by Eleanor Herman

Title: Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics
Author: Eleanor Herman
Published: William Morrow, 2006
Where I Got It: Online

Wow, how awkward is this review title? Nevertheless, I think I have found a new favorite book. In the follow-up book to Sex with Kings (which I surprisingly did NOT like, read my review on my personal blog here), we get a whirlwind tale through 900 years of European royalty, all told through the eyes of the queen’s bedroom. From Eleanor of Aquitaine to Princess Diana, from England to France to Germany to Russia, we go into the secret lives of some of the most famous women in history.

This book isn’t only about the love lives of queens (though it’s hard to think otherwise with the huge red SEX on the cover and a bare butt). The first third of the book is actually about what a queen/princess’ life really was like. Very few of these women’s lives were fairy tales. Most were pawned off to other countries to eradicate men’s debts or problems, lived in a foreign country, and had acquired difficult husbands.

So, as a woman, I of course have a problem with some things. The King was allowed to have as many mistresses as he desired; in fact, it was ideal that he didn’t love his wife. She was only there to produce heirs. On the other hand, if the Queen had even one lover, she could possibly be divorced, or both she and her lover could be imprisoned, tortured, or executed.

Some of these women went through lovers like I go through underwear. It was shocking at the number of men Catherine the Great bedded, even well into old age. Another woman of many lovers was Princess Diana, of whom the author is definitely NOT a fan of. Princess Di was always put in a bad light in this book, yet it is slightly refreshing after her rise to almost sainthood status after death.

The stories are never too long, always short, sweet, and to the point. The only ones that are truly long are Anne Boleyn’s and Catherine the Great’s stories (but they’re both good ones!). Eleanor Herman definitely has a sense of humor and a knack for making history interesting. I’d recommend this book to people who aren’t even history buffs like me. Parts of it read like a gossip column and I read bits of it out loud to my roommates who got a kick out of it. Definitely recommend, especially for females. 5 stars!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jen Reviews a Vegetarian: Create Great-Tasting Dishes Through The Seasons

Title: Vegetarian: Create Great-Tasting Dishes Through The Seasons

Authors: Ting Morris, Carla Bardi, Rachel Lane

Published: Reader's Digest, 2010

How I Got It: Purchased myself


I've been a vegetarian since I was eight years old.  My mom said that one day I came home from school and announced that I wasn't going to eat meat anymore.  She thought it was just a phase and eventually I'd grow out of it.  I guess it's been a pretty long phase since I'm twenty-four and I still don't eat meat.

Since being a vegetarian cuts out an entire food group I've had to learn to be creative when going out to eat.  During the summer most people love going to cookouts.  I hate them.  I always eat before I go and stash granola bars in my purse.  Why?  Hot dogs and hamburgers galore.  Not veggie friendly.  I usually munch on chips and hog the veggie tray.  Oh yeah, and eat most of the cookies.

I'm always on the lookout for a good vegetarian cookbook.  The verdict:  I'm still looking.  Cookbooks are fairly personal.  Everyone's taste-buds are different and it can be hit or miss. This particular cookbook was a miss for me.  There's just too many dishes that I wouldn't try.  Things like Dandelion and Garden Flowers with Quail Eggs or Cauliflower and Pea Samosas.  But some of the recipes don't sound too bad, like Corn Fritters, Pumpkin Fritters or Spinach Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce.  Cookbooks are so subjective.

Even though not all of the recipes in this book appeal to my palate there were still a few things that I loved:

  • The gorgeous pictures of the food.  The presentation is excellent.
  • Every recipe has a picture of the finished meal.
  • Simple recipes.  All of the ingredients and directions fit on one page.  (Side note: I hate complicated recipes)
  • Font size, it's fairly large in this cookbook so no squinting while you're preparing a recipe.
Do you have a favorite cookbook?  If you want to try something new where do you usually go to find a new recipe?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Julia's Ereader Of Choice: The Nook!

This past summer I found myself on vacation in Florida. It was a sultry beginning of summer and dragging my book down to the pool every day was making me a little down. My Aunt who was on the trip with me was sporting a fancy eReader. A Kindle in fact and I thought to my self "Jules (what I call myself) you just graduated from college. Why don't you get yourself one of those as a nice pat on the back gift"

So I did. I did the research and found one that best fit me. The Nook. That is my nook in the picture. Well, it's not my Nook because I am on the road and have no way of uploading a picture, but that is what the cover looks like anyway! (The back side is a question mark!)

Since this is a site known for the Top Ten Lists, I'll make a listing of Ten Things I Love, Hate and Hate that I Love about the Nook.

Things I Love
1. It has all my books on it.
This isn't technically fair since all eReaders share this same feature, but really, how could I not include this? I travel a lot for my job, and I can have instant access to a library at my finger tips if I so chose. I can start multiple books and pick up right where I left them. I can highlight something without actually marking it up.

2. I can check out libray books on it
This was the big seller for me. When I was doing all my research, I was a broke college student, looking for books on the free. Being in the middle of nowhere for school, my options at the library were limited. So what I did was check out digital books from my library back home and ended up reading them on my computer which led to some serious eye strain. But with the Nook, I can go to my libraries digital content site and download any ePub (or a PDF I guess) formatted eBook. (For those of you who are like what? as of now different eReaders use different formats. The Kindle's main format I believe is a mobi which is a little rarer in the library digital book pickings.)

For me I wanted access to that wealth of content. There were more selections with ePubs and Adobe Digital Editions so that leaned me toward the Nook.

3. It uses eInk
I did not want an eBook reader that had a backlit screen (like a computer screen... I'm looking at you mac products). It doesn't happen often but I sometimes get eyestrain from reading too many things on a computer. Plus all day I work in front of a screen. I wanted my eyes to have a break. eInk afforded that option. eInk is like reading a book. Plain and simple. I can read it in the sun without worrying about the reflectiveness that a screen has but at the same time I'd need a light to read it in the dark.

4. It has a web browser
Honestly, if I had a "meh" category, it would fall better there. But I don't and it is a pretty cool feature, especially since I dont have a smartphone. My favorite part about the web browser is only the little touch screen at the bottom is in color; the rest is in eInk so it looks like I am surfing the net on an Etch-a-Sketch!

Things that I Hate
1.When I resize things that I did not buy from B&N, the formatting gets a bit wonky
So occasionally I get free eBooks. Win. But then I put them on my nook and I up the font a bit (really who those 6 pt font was a good choice?) and then my page numbers get all out of whack.

2.My books aren't organized that well
Initially when I got it you had two options for organization 1)books you got from B&N and 2)Books you didn't. With one of the more recent upgrades, it looks like you can add shelves. I haven't played with it yet so I can't speak to its effectiveness at organization.

3.The search/chapter features a little lacking
Some books I have seen not have the ability to skip to the start of a certain chapter. That was a pain. And the search I just did, did not loop back to beginning of the text when I was near the end of a book. So I had to jump there myself and then do my search. Lame.

Things that I Hate that I Love
1. It has all my books on it.
Wait! Wasn't this already there. Oh, astute reader, you are correct. But it's true. Sometimes, it really bothers me that all of my books are on this thing. Sometimes I just want to hold to book, smell its pages. These are the times that I usually hit up the library, but still.

2. I can take it with me while traveling
Catch-22 here because I seriously love that it fits in my carryon. The part I seriously dont love is that for 20 minutes minimum before and during take-off and 20 minutes while we land, I can't use electronic devices. The first time I had my nook I didnt even realize it because it was just like the book I would normally read during these times when my iPod is illegal. But now I can't even read my book. So what I end up doing now is bringing a physical book anyway. This one technically isn't B&N's fault. But it falls under this category.

3.When you drag your finger across the touch screen, it will turn the page
I found this out by accident but was overjoyed when I did. How fun! Why do I hate it then, well it works shoddily at best. Maybe this is a case of user error. I don't know.

Overall though I am really happy with my purchase. It is exactly what I wanted and fit my needs to a T. (Is that the phrase? Let me look it up in my Phraseology book that I have on my Nook and therefore is with me on this trip.. darn not there but I did learn that Gloves can be called Hand Shoes (what?)) These are my reasons, for better or for weird. I am glad of my purchase and would buy again.

So what about you? Have opinions on the Nook? Questions for Nook users? In the market to buy one and want to know more (there are actually a few of us on the blog that have nooks so hopefully a few will chime in with their opinions as well!).

Also, my caveat. Forgive me for my all over the place style of this review. I am going to blame the sudden sickness and douse of cold medicine I just took. Mea culpa!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interview With Kimberly Derting!

Desires of the Dead (Body Finder)I am super giddy to be sharing this interview with you all. Kimberly Derting is awesome! As most of you know, Kimberly Derting wrote The Body Finder and the sequel, Desires of the Dead, was released this month! It's a supernatural thriller about a girl who is able to hear the echos of the dead---but only those who were murdered. It's chilling and unique and you can read my review of Desires of the Dead here and read my review of The Body Finder on my personal blog here.

1) One thing I really enjoyed about both The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead was the alternating perspective you provided in some chapters. I felt that in The Body Finder this really added to the creepiness of the novel. What sort of research did you do to get in the "killer" mindset?Honestly, I feel like I’ve been “researching” this for most of my life. I’ve had an obsession with crime thrillers, both fiction and non-fiction since I was a 12. I remember reading Helter Skelter (the book about the Charles Manson killings) as a teen, and thinking how cool it was that the author got to examine the inner-workings of Manson and his crazy world. Little did I know that years later, I would be creating my own creepy killers!

2) I found Violet and Jay's relationship to be so refreshing. It was SO authentic and not of the "insta-romance" variety and I just loved it. Did you draw on any personal relationships or relationships from tv/movies/books to create this relationship? And what made you decide to go with the "friend turned more" plot line?For me, Jay and Violet have the kind of relationship I wish I’d had in high school. Like most teens, I spent way too much time daydreaming about what my dream boyfriend would be like, and it was almost always someone like Jay. For the books, I really wanted Jay & Violet’s relationship to be something stronger than the love at first sight story, so I figured there was nothing stronger than childhood friends who become something more.

3) The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead are full of thrills, chills and lots of mystery. What are some books/movies that have creeped you out?

The Shining is the book (and movie) that started it all for me.

Some of my favorite chilling books have been: Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (“it puts the lotion on the skin, or it gets the hose…”); IT by Stephen King (I never looked at my bathroom drain the same again); and believe it or not, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (the book more so than the movie)…it was thrilling!

Movies, of course, The Sixth Sense because I NEVER saw that ending coming and I loved that! The original Nightmare on Elm Street, although I have a feeling it wouldn’t be nearly as scary now. And Paranormal Activity, although I wouldn’t really know since I couldn’t watch it without covering my eyes and never actually finished it…scariest movie ever!

4) If you could cast two people to play Violet and Jay in a movie, who would you cast and why?

For Violet, I kind of like Elizabeth Gillies or Emma Roberts. And for Jay, Dustin Milligan seems just about perfect.

5) If you could create a mashup of one of your favorite books from your childhood and a YA paranormal/supernatural book from the past few years, what would you create?

Charlotte’s Web and City of Bones. Charlotte would use her super-web-spinning skillz to create intricate runes to fight alongside Jace and the other Shadowhunters. She would be one bad-assed web-spinning demon hunter!

Thank you so much for stopping by The Broke and the Bookish, Kimberly! I think Charlotte would be so beyond badass but still a sensitive and smart heroine!

Jamie's Review of Loud in the House of Myself by Stacey Pershall

Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange GirlTitle/Author: Loud in the House of Myself by Stacey Pershall
Publisher/Year: W.W. Norton 2011
How I Got This Book: I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.

I used to read memoirs a lot--memoirs from famous people, memoirs from people who lead extraordinary lives, or memoirs from your average Joe. Anything. I just really enjoy getting another perspective on life no matter if it's life shattering or just something to contemplate about my life. For whatever reason, I strayed from reading memoirs, so this is my first memoir in about a year and it reaffirms my love for meandering around someone else's memories as they look at some critical juncture in their life and explore the things that shaped their life and discover pieces of who they are.

Anyways, I want to hug Stacy Pershall in this book. I want to be her friend because she goes through some pretty crazy things! She grew up as one of those genuinely precocious children who is just so misunderstood and was ostracized and thus begins her windy road through "Jesus freakdom," bulimia, anorexia, manic episodes, messed up relationship and a suicide attempt that will just leave you speechless.

I know what I just described sounds like one crazy depressing memoir but, while it is completely heartwrenching at times,  I assure you it's not like that at all. Stacey is beyond hilarious and witty and I found myself laughing out loud. You know, a real hearty LOL. She writes in such a compelling way that I found myself sometimes shielded from the heaviness of the subject matter, yet at the same time, so incredibly shaken to the core. I felt as though I was on this crazy roller coaster with her and gained perspective into illnesses that I've never dealt with before.  Another thing I really appreciated was the depth of her introspection. She wasn't shallow or cliche or blaming circumstances or making excuses or even pretending like she is magically cured now. Instead she gives an honest portrayal of the things that shaped her and really created something quite raw and inspirational that really reflects all those things she's gleaned from some really dark days in her life and how she's moved forward.

I will mention that at some times, for someone who really isn't too familiar with bipolar disorder and many of the other illnesses mentioned, it got a little bit too medical on me. I didn't feel that it detracted from the memoir at all but sometimes it slowed up my reading even though I was genuinely interested in learning about these illnesses.

My Final Thought: If you enjoy incredibly quirky memoirs that will make you laugh while simultaneously forcing you to grapple with some incredible serious issues (eating disorders, depression, suicide), then this book is for you. I think if you enjoyed any of Marya Hornbacher's books that you might be interested in picking this one up. I personally enjoyed this one more than any other memoirs dealing with these types of issues. Something about it felt so genuine and I have a feeling that it was very cathartic for Pershall to write. That story needed to come out and I feel as though I could feel the burden she bared become a little bit lesser for her.

What memoirs have you enjoyed lately?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kimberly's Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations : TOP TEN TUESDAY!

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 post a comment on our post with a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. If you can't come up with ten, don't worry about it---post as many as you can!

NEXT WEEK: Top Ten Books I Just HAD to Buy...But Are Still Sitting on My Bookshelf (You know you have those..:P and for most of us this list could probably be in the 100's ). Click here for future Top Ten Tuesdays. 

As painful as book to movie adaptations can be, the changes they make, the things they leave out... there are some great ones out there, even if they aren't as good as the book (they pretty much never are) they are enjoyable. So, in no particular order, my Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations.

1. Harry Potter- Yes they've changed a TON of things, however I love these movies. Each one is better than the last. There are so many things they did right too! Some of the casting was brilliant. Maggie Smith as Professor Mcgonagall? Genius. Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney? Alan Rickman as Snape? Gary Oldman as Sirius? Amazing casting. And I love the music. It fits the series perfectly!

2. Princess Bride- It's better than the book! One of those rare instances where the movie is better. The movie is a classic, and the book... well it's okay, I just didn't care for it.

3. The Secret Life of Bees- Okay, so the changed the color of Lily's hair. Big deal. The casting was wonderful, I felt that every one of the actresses fit their roles perfectly. Each detail matched how I pictured it so perfectly.

4. Inkheart- Loved the book, loved the movie. I adore Paul Bettany, he was amazing as Dustfinger. (Brendan Fraser, as much as I like him, wasn't the best casting, but oh well.)

5. Stardust- I. Love. This. Movie. It's possibly my favorite movie. The book was only so-so.

6. The Golden Compass- A lot of people complain about this, but I really liked the movie. They left out a ton, but they captured each of the characters. Sam Elliot was probably my favorite casting out of all the characters, I love the actor and he made me love one of my favorite characters even more.

7. The Grinch- (the live action version) Jim Carey was so perfect for this role, he really pulled it off! They added details to the story that instead of taking away from the story, like so many adaptations do, they enriched the story.

8. Ramona and Beezus- Such a cute movie! Perfect actors for the roles, and the movie captured the innocence of the series.

9. Anne of Green Gables- Okay, so it's not exactly a movie. It's a three part tv series. But I love the first two (the third one changes way too much from the book).

10. Jurassic Park- Weird choice, I know. I like both of the books, and although they are very different from the books, I actually like the movies. I was terrified of them when I was younger, I hid my eyes the entire time.

Okay, so that's my list. There are others, but I'm going to keep my list to ten. What are some of your favorites???


Monday, February 21, 2011

Heather reviews Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns
Name: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
How I got it: bought at Borders
Why I read it: I read Looking for Alaska a couple years ago and was interested in reading more by Green.
Rating: 4 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

This is the second novel that I have read by John Green. He has his own style of writing and characters that are fairly similar among his books, but in my opinion this method works perfectly for him. I like Green's approach to writing because I feel like I would be friends with his characters. His protagonist is always the nerdy and likable underdog.

In Paper Towns, Quentin Jacobsen (Q for short) has been in love with his next door neighbor, Margo, all his life. The pair were childhood friends who grew apart after an incident that occurred when they were mere ten year old's. When the mysterious Margo climbs through his window a few weeks before graduation with a plan for an evening of revenge, Q is sucked into a whole new world. He spends one amazing night with this girl and wakes up the next morning thinking that life will never be the same. Margo has been known to disappear for days on end, so when she goes missing that morning nobody thinks twice at first. Soon though, Q finds himself consumed with theories of Margo's disappearance. He speculates that she must have carefully constructed this mystery for him to solve and so he sets out on his own journey to find the girls of his dreams.

I loved Q's passion for finding Margo in Paper Towns. He was willing to skip some of the most important events in a high school senior's life in order to focus on searching for clues that would help him find Margo. I was on the edge of my seat for much of this book, very eager to discover if Margo was okay and whether or not she and Q would find their happy ending. The way in which Green worked Whitman's Leaves of Grass into the story was interesting. I don't remember much about reading it in high school, but I'd be curious to revisit it now.

I loved Margo for her sense of adventure and the planning she put into all of her wild ideas, but I also felt sorry for her. She was this normal teenage girl who felt the pressure of high school and popularity closing in on her. I have definitely felt like disappearing off the grid for awhile to get my thoughts straight or start fresh. Q had this romanticized idea of the girl he thought she was, but really she was full of flaws and insecurities. It was a very realistic portrayal of how people think about their crushes, especially in high school. Despite beginning to see that Margo was not the girl in his head, he continued on his journey to find her along with the company of their best friends.

I love a book with a good love story or a road trip, so this was a win for me. While Margo went on this adventure to find herself, she was able to help Q find himself as well. I thought the ending was perfect, but I won't spoil that for you if you haven't read it yet!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Anna reviews 'How I Live Now' by Meg Rosoff

Name: How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books, 2004
How I got it: My aunt sent it to me as a gift.
Why I read it: It got excellent reviews and it seemed really interesting!
Rating: 5 stars!

This being Valentine's week, I've decided to review one of my favourite love stories ever put on paper, 'How I Live Now' by Meg Rosoff! This is the wonderful, unusual tale of Daisy, a fifteen-year old girl from New York who is sent to live with her cousins in England for one summer.Daisy is a smart, cynical, street-wise and anorexic teenager who is not looking forward to moving from the centre of civilisation to a remote farm in England with her cousins. Home for her is New York City, a world entirely different from where she is going. She is pleasantly surprised, then, to find out her cousins Piper, Edmond, Issac and Osbert are wonderful and quirky, and that the summer will not be as bad as she'd anticipated. Her cousins are an odd bunch- there's telepathic Edmond, sweet and sensitive Piper, Edmond's twin Issac who communicates with animals but rarely with humans, and Osbert, smart-ass know it all. She becomes very close to all of them, and falls in love with Edmond. However, when war breaks out between England and the country occupying it their idyllic life on the farm is shattered and they are forced to separate, and the book becomes a story of survival at any cost.

This is a truly wonderful book. The love story between Daisy and her telepathic cousin Edmond is unexpected and incredibly moving. Both of them are very young, two teenagers in a great war that neither of them knows much about, or really care; the only thing that matters for them is each other. Their love affair is spontaneous, passionate and one of whose consequences will reverberate for them for the rest of their lives. Meg Rosoff creates some facinating and memorable characters. Daisy is very likeable- she's smart and sarcastic, with a great knack for understanding people. She's also quite vulnerable- she feels responsible for her mother's death, she despises her step-mother and she's never had a place where she could really call home until she goes to England. The other characters, especially Edmond and Piper, are very well developed and incredibly realistic. By the end of the book I felt as though I really knew these people!

One thing I loved about the book was how it went from an idyllic love story between two teenagers to a fast-paced fight for survival in a country torn apart by war. Daisy and her cousins don't know much about the war, or care- all they want is to be reunited with each other. However, they still experience all of the brutalities of it, and witness some truly horrendous events. The book is very well written- it's exciting, memorable and thoroughly original. It is written in an unusual style, marked by sentences that reach a paragraph long. This book is one of the most memorable, original books I've ever read with a poignant and unusual love story. It definitely gets a well-deserved 5 stars!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kimberly's Review of Cupidity by Kimberly Gardner

Kimberly Reviews "Cupidity"

Book: Cupidity

Author: Kimberly Gardner

So when I heard that we were going to do a 'themed week' for Valentines Day week, I said "Oh! A theme!" and jumped right in. Then I remembered something. I don't read romance! I was feverishly trying to think of a book to review. I've read books with romance in them, plenty of them in fact, but most of them don't revolve around the romance. It's a mystery novel, or fantasy and the romance is just part of the story. I realized how close the date was getting and I started to get nervous, what book was I going to review?!

Then I went to Goodreads and clicked on my 'read' list. First book that pops up is 'Cupidity'. I practically smacked my head on my desk. I couldn't believe I hadn't reviewed the book until now, not only because it's a good book, but because (drum roll please) I know the author!!! She and I have been friends since High School, I actually read sections of this book long before it was published. She'd tell me how the book was coming, let me read little bits and pieces, and then try and tell me how it ended. This usually resulted with me plugging my ears or putting my hand nearly in her face to stop her. I wanted to be surprised. (Sorry Gardner!) I was ecstatic when it got published. Not only did I finally get to read the entire story, I got to go to her author signing at Barnes and Noble and get a signed copy! Of course, I would have haunted her doorstep until I got a signed copy anyway.

Alright, the book. Like I said before, I'm not a huge romance fan, but this book is just too darned enjoyable to not like. Here is a brief summary stolen from Gardner's website (by the way, I ought to explain the "Gardner". Because we share a name, and it can get confusing, we started calling each other by our last names and it stuck. It's great fun.)

"Demons or no Demons, I will get Tanner and Baker together."
Jimmy is a brand-new agent assigned to the most difficult case the Lovers Angels Corporation, a supernatural matchmaking service, has seen in centuries: The Tanner-Baker case. Jesse tanner and Danni Baker have been neighbors for years. Getting them together should be a walk in the park, and every tactic Jimmy employs should work-- in theory. However assaults of suspected Demonic mischief ultimately tangle the situation so badly it will take a small miracle to organize a happy ending for Tanner and Baker.
When the exploits of the supposedly non-existent Demons bring up the ghosts of the past, Jimmy's odds of success seem to diminish. With so much opposition of the Demonic kind, is it possible for Jesse and Danni to be together, especially when romance may not be the only thing Demons are prepared to kill?

Intriguing, right? Not only does it have this plot to pull you into the story, it has some of the most likable characters you're likely to read about. They're as perfect as they need to be, but also wonderfully flawed. You can relate to these characters. It feels almost as if you could reach through the page and touch them. You are right there with them, following their story, not sitting in the back of the audience so far from the stage you can't see the faces. Each character has their own fully fleshed personality, and each is unique, bringing color to the story.

I don't want to say much more about it other than that you should read it, seriously. It's a short, light read that will leave you smiling as you turn the last page. It has it's share of surprises, heartache, sweet romance,humor and suspense. It's a book that will leave you feeling satisfied.

Check out Gardner's website to learn more about Gardner, Cupidity and her other projects!

I give this
4.5 Stars. I took a bit off because I feel like if the book had been a tad longer, the storyline would have flowed a bit better. But it's a fantastic book as it is!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tahleen reviews: "When the Stars Go Blue" by Caridad Ferrer

Title: When the Stars Go Blue
Author: Caridad Ferrer
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, 2010
Where I got it: I purchased this for review.

Soledad, incredibly talented dancer and recent high school graduate, knows exactly what she wants for her future. The summer after graduation, she plans on teaching at a ballet studio and, come January, will move to NYC to make her dream of dancing professionally a reality. But then an incredible opportunity presents itself: to play Carmen, the passionate gypsy of opera fame, in a drum and bugle corps for the entire summer on a tour of the country. Plus, she'll be spending time with the intoxicating and beautiful Jonathan, her classmate, a corps member, and the one who presented her with the idea in the first place.

Soledad's world is opened by her experiences in the strict corps, and her dancing is all the better for it. But her story doesn't just include a performance as Carmen; it mirrors it. It's clear after a few encounters that another is after her affection, and the results may spell ruin for Soledad and for her future.

For Valentine's Day, I wanted to pick a book that dealt with love, but also with passion. I figured a book based on the story of Carmen was a perfect fit, and I was right. Soledad and Jonathan's romance is fast and furious—the attraction is instantaneous, when Soledad notices Jonathan for the first time. Despite his  crush on her for the four years they've been in high school together, he has never gotten the nerve to talk to her before his idea to have her audition as Carmen, and it's immediately clear that his passion has been burning for a long time, all but exploding when Soledad begins to return the affection.

What I love about this book is how real all of the relationship felt to me. In high school, things do happen that fast. "I love yous" are exchanged, and you'll spend as much time as possible together. The interactions are believable, especially Jonathan's jealousy and slight possessiveness. This being their first real relationship, both Soledad and Jonathan are feeling it out and learning what it means to be in a relationship, though not always in a positive way.

Soledad narrates, and her language is spot on. It has just the right amount of cursing, and rarely did I think Ferrer tried too hard with making her sound like a teen. She did a fantastic job with that. My only complaints are the overuse of elipses throughout the text—some places it worked, but I got annoyed with them more often than not—and the chapter titles, which seemed to be all song titles. Again, some worked, but for some I was confused about the link between the title and content.

And let's talk about the corps for a minute. I loved reading about the marching and the performances; I was in marching band in high school and didn't particularly like it, but I had a pride in being a part of it. It's nothing compared to what this corps was like though. The intensity and precision, the descriptions of everything, are fantastic. And Soledad's description of her dancing is thrilling to read.

This is a great story about first love and incredible passion, yet also shows which behaviors can be harmful. Plus, a modernization of Carmen? Awesome. Ferrer does a lovely job at bringing the emotion and power of the opera into a modern teen context. I couldn't have asked for a better Valentine's Day read.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jana Reviews "Nocturne" by Syrie James

Title and Author: Nocturne, by Syrie James

Publishing Info: Vanguard Press, 2011

How I got this book: A publicist of Syrie James sent it to me after she noticed how much I enjoyed Dracula, My Love.

Why I read this book: Way before I was even contacted to review Nocturne, it was on my TBR list. I love Syrie’s writing style, and the premise of this book had me at, “Hello.”

Stars: 5

Ahh… would you take a gander at that cover? I love it! And best of all, it does a wonderful job of setting the tone for this haunting love story. I love a good romance. I love a good forbidden romance! I gobbled this book up like a bag of my favorite chocolate truffles, and here’s why!

“When Nicole Whitcomb's car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger. 

Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension. Who is Michael Tyler? Why does he live in such a secluded spot and guard his private life so carefully? What secret—or secrets—is he hiding?

Nicole has secrets of her own and a past she is running from—but Michael understands her better than anyone she has ever known. Soon, she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her— a profoundly meaningful experience that is destined to change their lives forever.

As the sexual tension between them builds, however, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns her host's terrifying secret, there is nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and Michael may be the only one who can save her life.” -(Synopsis taken from

I was very privileged to receive an invitation to a Q&A with Syrie the day after I finished Nocturne. I will do my best to integrate my questions and her answers into this review without spoiling any parts of the book!

This book is amazing for so many different reasons. Syrie’s beautiful writing never disappoints. How could it, though, when she chose such a wonderful setting for the book? It takes place in a beautiful, secluded area not far from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which I have visited and is very lovely. I asked Syrie why she chose this particular location, as I had never read a book that took place there before. She said, “While doing research for this novel, to make my plot work, I needed to find a very remote spot where a reclusive person could own a fabulous spread and beautiful home, yet was not too far from a ski resort ... and where it was believable that Nicole could actually be snowed in there for four days. For some reason I just knew it had to be in Colorado. An expert on all things Colorado (my cousin, in fact) suggested that particular location, and I am so grateful. I thought it worked perfectly.” I totally agree! I loved the descriptions she used and the pictures she painted. It was an ideal setting.

Next, we have a very sexy, dangerous man who pulls himself out of isolation to rescue a damsel in distress. Michael is a 260-year-old vampire. He has given up drinking human blood and lives in a very secluded Rocky Mountain home to resist any temptation. In his spare time he reads a lot, writes, plays the piano, gardens, takes care of his horses, and works with wood. He is very content with his life, and enjoys his privacy. Seriously, this guy is perfect -- intelligent, well read, musically inclined, sensitive, strong, loves animals, etc. You can’t help but love him. Syrie told me that Michael was inspired by, "…my love for Mr. Darcy! Admittedly, he does share a few of my husband's traits, but mainly it was me conjuring up the type of man I'd fall madly in love with, if I was snowbound with him for four days." She and I clearly have something in common because, aside from the vampire quality, Michael is my kind of man!

One thing that I found so unique about Nocturne is that the entire story revolves around two characters. That’s right. TWO. Yet, it’s not boring or long-winded. I wasn’t hoping for more characters. Actually, I would have been really annoyed if some highway patrolman or Michael’s housekeeper had shown up and destroyed the magic of this chance encounter. I asked Syrie if it was difficult writing a story with only two characters, or if she enjoyed being able to focus more on each one individually. She said, “I LOVED writing about just two characters. As a reader, with many books, I become so interested and invested in the main characters and their stories that I'm tempted to skip all the scenes with minor characters and just get to the main plot. I've felt that way as a writer, too. I thought, what if I just write a book about the two main characters? Could I do it? The challenge was to make them complex enough to keep the sexual tension and the twists and turns of the plot going. I hope you enjoyed the result.” Like I said, I did enjoy it and I really got to learn about and become friends with Michael and Nicole as a result.

Speaking of Nicole… She’s working a job that she has no passion for, but she does it because it’s safe. A traumatic past led her to that decision. At the tail end of her Steamboat Springs vacation, she gets caught in an awful snowstorm. She runs off the road, blacks out, and wakes up in a strange home by a warm fire. Her rescuer is a very secretive, moody, mysterious, and very attractive man. He did not want to save her. In fact, he wanted to leave her out there to die, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. So, here they sit, snowbound in an isolated home for four days. Nicole notices he is a little odd, and as she begins to figure him out she’s terrified of staying with him. She has to decide, though, which is more dangerous? Should she take her chances and brave the deadly blizzard, or take her chances and trust this man to keep his promise and keep her safe?

As the days go by, they have lots of long, deep conversations about life and love. I really enjoyed reading these conversations. It was like I was a fly on the wall of Michael’s cozy study, listening in on their private discussions. I usually get bored with long strings of dialogue and no action, but this was quite refreshing! Syrie said, " that initial period of intense discovery between new lovers. I call it "falling in love through conversation," and it's so important to me that I have placed great emphasis on it in every single one of my novels."

All in all, I loved this book. Yes, the story has been done before, but this take on the subject matter was so well done and so unique, that I did not feel like I had read it before. I was a bit skeptical about the whirlwind romance that took only about 3 days to reach its peak, but this was believable. The characters were relatable. They both had flaws that made them imperfect, but they brought out the perfection in each other. The twists and turns were dramatic, but again believable. The ending left more to be desired, but Syrie said, “…Nicole and Michael’s story is far from over. I'd love to write a sequel to Nocturne. It will depend on whether readers and the publisher request it, so we'll have to wait and see!” I know I want to read it!

I thought I’d end my review with Syrie’s thoughts on her inspiration for this novel, “It must be something in the genes, but some of the most romantic and enduring relationships in my family history began as love at first sight (including my own love affair with my husband.) Maybe that's why I felt compelled to write about the passionate, whirlwind romance between Michael and Nicole in my new novel, Nocturne.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of forbidden love stories, real characters, and beautiful storytelling.  Please do me a favor and go buy Nocturne so that Syrie can write a sequel! I’m not done with those two yet! Thanks so much to Syrie James for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Wunderkind PR for sending me a copy of this book to review!

Feel free to check out to see what else she's up to and read about other books she's written. At the end of our conversation, she mentioned a new YA novel that she's in the process of publishing right now, tentatively titled Forbidden, about, "a teenage girl who discovers she's half-angel and that her very existence is forbidden. She falls in love with the new, gorgeous guy at school who's... (wait, that would be telling!) It's based in reality, yet we had to create an entire new paranormal universe for the novel. I'm very excited about it." I'm excited about it too! Good stuff, I tell you.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Julia's Top Ten Favorite Love Stories

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 post a comment on our post with a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. If you can't come up with ten, don't worry about it---post as many as you can!

Next week the topic is: TOP TEN BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATIONS. See a list of future TTT here.

Though I am sure you are sick off all the love stuff (although I may point out that there is a good chance your favorite heart full of chocolate is marked down today at your local grocer), you can't deny that there are some great books with even greater love stories.

1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Is it still a love story even if things are... well rocky would be a good way to describe it. Yup, and this on is often marketed as the greatest one ever. I don't know if it deserves such high acolades for its love, but it is a great story that took very Ohioan me and transported me to the South in the Civil War. And who doesn't know who Rhett and Scarlett are?

2. Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Henry and Clare are such interesting characters and learning about each of their lives through the eyes of the other (or the time of the other) is quite a heart wrenching story. I just love this book and the sole reasons why is their story. And the time travel..

3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
This story is great. I read it on the beach one summer and it was the perfect beach read about life in the circus. I don't want to get too much into it seeing as it is a great story that is best left to the reader, but let me just say that I liked it enough to include on this list.

4. Titanic: The Long Night by Diane Hoh
This is the point in the list where I can hear you saying, "What book is this?" Well lets paint a picture. It's around the time the movie came out, and being obsessed with everything Titanic I saw this book in Scholastic and bought it. Two girls meet two boys and the stories unfold from there. I may have to dig this one out and give it another go.

5. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Look! It's not Romeo and Juliet! Beatrice and Benedick's story is 1000 times more awesome than those kids. They've been around the block and know better from it (for one they don't kill themselves at the end). This play is hilarious and if you have not had a chance to read it, I highly recommend it!

6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I can hear the cries and gasps, but I have to include this. It is a great story and the heart of the story is Humpert's "love" for Lolita. For such a creepy topic, the writing is just beautiful. And I felt like I wanted to include it on the list

7. Romance Novels by Various Authors
I can't tell if I am deciding this is a cop out or just the way I feel. I read SO MANY romance novels. I did that math and 46% of the books I read last year were sold in the romance genre. So why isn't this 10 romance novels? Probably because I expect them to be about love. I honestly don't know why they don't individually resonate with me more. But as a collective, they deserve a spot on this list.

8-10 I am cheating a bit on. I have never read these books, but I have seen movies based on these books that I think are lovely. So that's my caveat. So I guess we can stop my book list at 7 and add my Top 3 Love Movies Based on What I am Assuming Are Love Books

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I am in love with the BBC special. I love it so much that I've put the book on my TBR (remember Top Ten Books I can't Believe I've Never Read anyone?) I know it will be worthwhile once I actually get around to reading it.

9. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Another mini-series that is just sigh enducing. This one a little bit more... well messed up because it involves... a priest and a young women as she ages... but I still liked it. It's been on my to read for forever...

10. North and South Elizabeth Gaskell
Just saw this BBC miniseries and it was really good. I really think I would enjoy the book. I didn't even know it was a book (or if I did it was in passing) until my google search post watch or else I would have done the reverse. But this was love too.

So those are my lists. Convoluted to be sure, but my own. Link up on the linky below to share your list! Let's share some love!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Natanya Reviews Super Sad True Love Story

Title/Author: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
Publisher/Year: Random House, 2010
Where I got it: Library
Why I read it: I don’t remember why I originally put it on my to-read list, but I started reading it largely because the title is amusing

Summary from Amazon:
Welcome to the day after tomorrow. In Gary Shteyngart's near-future New York, the dollar has been pegged to the yuan, the American Restoration Authority is on high security alert, and Lenny Abramov, the middle-aged possessor of a decent credit score but an absurdly low--and embarrassingly public--Male Hotness rating, is in love with the young Eunice Park. Like many of the clients of his employer, the Post-Human Services division of the Staatling-Wapachung Corporation, he'd also like to live forever, but all he really wants is to love Eunice. And for a time, despite the traditional challenges of their gaps in age and ethnicity and the more modern hurdle of an oppressively networked culture that makes your most private identity as transparent as the Onionskin jeans that are all the rage, he does.

Yup, it’s another dystopian novel reviewed by Natanya! (Keep an eye out for my soon-to-come musings on the dystopian genre in general.) Like with The Maze Runner, I found the dystopian world in Super Sad True Love Story very interesting. In Shteyngart’s future, every economic, consumerist, and social media problem (or maybe they aren’t problems) we currently are facing in the United States is exaggerated, to the point where people, like Eunice Park, live to shop, and where socialization isn’t for the sake of being social, rather for popularity and hits on video streams. Essentially, it’s like the popularity struggles of high school completely melded with youtube and twitter. More significantly, it’s a world that is terrifyingly and disgustingly plausible, easily evolved from our current society filled with people tweeting what they ate for lunch. In Shteyngart’s New York City, everything is either about appearance or politics, creating a truly aggravating, but compelling, society.

However, beyond that, most of my time spent reading this book consisted of either sheer boredom or aggravation with the nearly insufferable characters. Lenny is a complete moron who doesn’t really understand at all the society in which he lives. Consequently, he lives in his own bubble where the only thing that matters is loving Eunice, whose lifestyle and personality do not in the least mesh well with his own. I did enjoy getting to read the novel from the perspectives of both Lenny and Eunice (though mostly Lenny) through Lenny’s diary entries and Eunice’s emails, but on the whole, the plot moves really slowly, perhaps because of this narrative method. While reading, it is difficult to point out anything really wrong with the book (though Shteyngart’s writing is generally mediocre), but when I stopped reading I realized that not much had happened, and that I could barely even remember what had happened. When I was halfway through the novel, I had no idea where it could possibly be going, and only vowed to plow through it to see whether it got better near the end, and because I liked learning new bits about this dystopian society. It did, in fact, get a little better toward the end, when I finally hit the climax of the novel, but following the climax it went back to being totally bland.

But then, at the very very end, I finally came to the conclusion that everything that bothered me about it was put in on purpose. It was clear that it was a satire, but until this point I was unaware of the extent of this satire. Consequently, despite having spent the majority of the novel considering it a complete waste of time and wishing I hadn’t ever started it, after finishing the final page I was torn. On the one hand, I think it deserves a low rating because, even though it redeemed itself at the end, the rest of it was barely tolerable. But on the other hand, my revelation at the end made me accept and appreciate the rest a bit more. So, frankly, I have no idea what to rate this. But in general, I probably would not recommend Super Sad True Love Story unless you go into it really holding the mindset that everything is on purpose and is supposed to be, to some degree, funny. As for me, I probably shouldn’t have read it.

2 stars? 2.5 stars? 3 stars?
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