Friday, April 29, 2011

Jessi Reviews "I Am America (And So Can You!)"

Title/Author: I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
Publisher/Year: Grand Central Publishing, 2007
How I Got This: It was a Christmas present from a few years back
Why I Read It: I'm a fan of Stephen Colbert and his t.v. show!
Rating: 3 Stars 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): From Stephen Colbert, the host of television's highest-rated punditry show The Colbert Report, comes the book to fill the other 23 hours of your day. I Am America (and So Can You!) contains all of the opinions that Stephen doesn't have time to shoehorn into his nightly broadcast.

Dictated directly into a microcassette recorder over a three-day weekend, this book contains Stephen's most deeply held knee-jerk beliefs on The American Family, Race, Religion, Sex, Sports, and many more topics, conveniently arranged in chapter form.

Always controversial and outspoken, Stephen addresses why Hollywood is destroying America by inches, why evolution is a fraud, and why the elderly should be harnessed to millstones.
You may not agree with everything Stephen says, but at the very least, you'll understand that your differing opinion is wrong.

I Am America (and So Can You!) showcases Stephen Colbert at his most eloquent and impassioned. He is an unrelenting fighter for the soul of America, and in this book he fights the good fight for the traditional values that have served this country so well for so long.

It's been a while since I've written a review, as this has been the semester from hell. If there's one thing that got me through, it was this book, that's for sure! 

This book was hi-lar-i-ous! That being said, I personally am a fan of Stephen Colbert's and Jon Stewart's shows. I love their sense of humor. Be warned, however--for the faint of heart, you'll probably come out of this offended at least once. This reads as one long joke, though, so if you don't take it too seriously, you'll get a good laugh and have a good time reading this one. 

This book is separated into chapters and sections, displaying Colbert's "beliefs" about topics, such as family, religion, sports and media. The chapters are all pretty short, making it an easy read if you don't have a lot of time on your hands. It was so nice for me to pick this book up on study breaks, have a good laugh, and get back to work. If you're looking for a cohesive read, this probably isn't your best bet, but as I've said, it works best if you're looking for something to read in small spurts. 

Overall, this is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. I recommend this to fans of Colbert or Stewart or to those who don't take things too seriously and who are looking for a good laugh. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tahleen reviews: "The Red Umbrella" by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Title: The Red Umbrella
Author: Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010
Where I got it: I purchased this at the Boston Book Festival (from Porter Square Books) after listening to Gonzalez speak. I got it signed too!

Rating: ★

*Note: I apologize for the lack of accent marks in this review. I am computer incompetent sometimes and couldn't figure out how to do it!*

Lucia Alvarez is your typical teenage girl. She loves fashion, is excited to start wearing makeup, dreams over her crush. But she is not a modern teen in America—she lives in Cuba in 1961, the beginning of Castro's revolution. She notices things in her safe community of Puerto Mijares start to change: people are disappearing, losing jobs, and joining brigades supporting the revolution. Even her best friend starts to support it and forget about the things that once meant something to her.

At first Lucia thinks this is all for the best, a good thing. The revolution will make life better and more equal for everyone, or so she is told. But when she begins to see trusted members of her community being taken away and her own home life is drastically changed, she's not so sure. Finally her parents make an incredibly difficult decision: to send her and her little brother, Frankie, to the United States. Alone.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez tells the story of a young teen who goes through complete upheaval, taken away from everything she knows, including her language and family, and is plopped down in a completely foreign environment. What makes this story so incredible is that it's not an isolated incident. In an author's note, Gonzalez tells us about what later became known as Operation Pedro Pan, the largest exodus of unaccompanied children into the United States ever. I had never heard of this before I had the good fortune of hearing Gonzalez speak at the Boston Book Festival back in October and was immediately intrigued.

The story is one of heartache and change, of coming of age in a land not your own and being forced to grow up a little sooner than expected. Lucia witnesses horrific things in the place she's lived her whole life, and not too long after finds out she is leaving her homeland the day before her plane is due to leave—everything happens so quickly that she has trouble processing it all.

The story is told in such a way that it is hard to set it down for a break. I always wanted to find out what was going to happen to Lucia and Frankie; how they were going to adjust to everything, whether or not they would ever be reunited with their parents, what was happening to their friends and family in Cuba.

Lucia is easy to relate to for girls, as she deals with typical teenage problems like wardrobe choices, high school friends and enemies, and changing relationships. Her voice is authentic and easy to listen to (and by listen to I mean read).

I loved all of the adults in the book, too. Her parents are parents—they worry about their children and wants what's best for them. Lucia's mother nags her to do what's right, even on a long-distance phone call from Cuba (don't wear makeup, don't date, dress appropriately, don't act like those American teenagers in the movies!). Her father always tries to make the best of things and bring humor into their lives when others might see none. And their foster parents are fantastic, too. Mrs. Baxter is a motormouth and a very motherly woman, who isn't quite sure about Cuban culture, mixing it up with Mexican on one occasion, but who will do her very best to help the Alvarez children and love them like her own. Mr. Baxter is much more quiet and sparing with his affection; Lucia doesn't believe he even likes the two of them, despite Mrs. Baxter's affirmation of the contrary. Eventually we see his hard exterior break down bit by bit. I cared about all of them, and for me that is one of the most crucial things in reading a book.

The only thing I would say is that it might help to know a bit about the history of all this before beginning the story. The author's note is essential for those who know nothing, and I might even suggest reading it before the rest of the book. I was lucky enough to know about it beforehand and I think it aided in my reading of the book. That said, each chapter begins with a real headline from a newspaper in the United States about the Cuban revolution and Castro's rise to power, providing valuable background and insight for the reader. The headlines progress along with the story chronologically.

A fantastic introduction for a little-addressed yet important part of American and Cuban history, this story provides historical knowledge in the form of a page-turning novel from the perspective of a young teen trying to make sense of what her world has become.

Also, I just want to say how much I love this cover art. The images of the two places with the umbrella in the middle and the map in the background? Fantastic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jana's Discovery of Reading and Anti-Illiteracy Ad Campaigns

As I was sitting here brainstorming a fun topic for my bookish post today, I was hoping to write a post that would combine my two passions: reading and graphic design. I started googling a bunch of stuff and came across some posters that different companies and organizations designed for their campaigns orchestrated to get people to read! Some of them are very clever, and I just had to share!

This first group is from a public awareness campaign for reading in South America, designed by the advertising agency, MAYO DRAFT FCB in Quito, Ecuador. Both images are extremely creative, but the first one is my favorite. I love the picture of the little boy, and that he's imagining himself as a king in a castle. Who wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now?

This next set relates to children, and to the child in all of us. Heroes read too!  This campaign was put together by Publicis, Prague, and launched by BOOKS to promote its brand image and encourage people to read books in the Czech Republic.
The text reads, "No Inspiration, No Future." on both images.

Here's an interesting ad campaign against illiteracy! I love this. "The world is a dangerous place for the illiterate." This set was done by the Dm9ddb Publicidade advertising agency for an anti-illiteracy Campaign in Brazil. It was released in 1998. The first image shows a man ingesting suppositories by mouth. Eeeew! The second one shows a man brushing his teeth with Hemorrhoid ointment. Gross! How effective is this strategy, though? I think it does an amazing job at hitting home the importance of reading. 

This last campaign, done by the Literacy Foundation on the eve of their 10th anniversary, is my favorite! The slogan reads, "When a a child doesn't read, imagination disappears." How true is that? With the growing epidemic of video games and movies replacing good old-fashioned reading, where are people going to develop their imaginations? We all need a little brain food in our lives to keep us young and intelligent!

Here we have a very old and sick Peter Pan. Don't let him disappear! 

And let's not forget Cinderella! I'm sure she'd enjoy sticking around for a while.

I really enjoyed looking for all of these different campaigns. I may be biased, but I'm a firm believer in the age-old saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words." As a graphic designer, my job is to express ideas and words through imagery. What an awesome job these designers did at expressing the importance of reading to the masses through simple images that everyone could understand. Hopefully the "thousands of words" these posters painted in my mind have inspired people to go out and read  (or learn to read) thousands upon thousands of other words. :)

Discussion: One of the campaigns I stumbled across had a grammar error, so I would not post the image. The slogan was, "If reading were be forbidden, would you be tempted to try ?" I'm assuming they meant "if reading were to be forbidden...", but anyway... Their imagery went off of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. I loved the concept, but I just can't post bad grammar, especially if it's regarding illiteracy! My question is, though, would you? If you were born into a world where reading was against the law, are you the kind of person who would break that law  to see what the big deal was, or would you remain a good, law-abiding citizen? I'll think on this also, and report back later with my thoughts! I'm curious to read your responses! 

UPDATE - 4/29/11: A commenter asked for the original image of the "forbidden" campaign, so here is a link to one of the images: "Forbidden" . I can't find the Adam and Eve one that I mentioned, but you can at least see this one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Top Ten Mean Girls In Books -- aka Jamie's Top Ten Female Characters She'd Bitch Slap

 Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature 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  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. 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 add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

 I originally wanted to name this top ten the top ten female characters I'd like to bitch slap...but I didn't want to offend anyone. But,I'm going to go with it for my post,and in a few weeks when we tackle our ten biggest jerks in literature..I'm going to, either on my personal blog or here, refer to them as the top ten guys I'd like to ninja kick in the balls.:P

1. Caroline Bingley from Pride and Prejudice-- I could pretty much just end this Top Ten Tuesday with this one right here! Ugh, I'd love to slap this snotty, meddling little wench to Mars. I mean, she truly is just one bitchy character. Queen bee of all the mean girls. Always dogging Elizabeth all the time! PSH.

2. Nellie from Little House on the Prairie -- These were my favorite books as a child and as a young child I felt the urge to slap this girl. Such an annoying rich brat that felt the need to be a big bully all the time!

3. Amanda from Anna and the French Kiss -- UGH. I hate this girl. That scene in the bathroom made me want to punt her off the Eiffel Tower. Just leave Anna alone...because she freaking rocks!!

4. All the snotty 12 year olds in The Clique --- You are 12. Get over yourselves ladies. Nothing more slappable than unbearably vapid children trying to be women.

5.  Sam  from Before I Fall -- I just started this one recently and I freaking want to punch her. I haaaate girls like this. However, I'm hoping (and I might have heard rumors) that she redeems herself  in the end? Please?

6. Blair from Gossip Girl -- Seriously, I kinda love her...but she really is a mean girl.  The show is more fresh in my mind but she's done some crazy bitchy things. She does redeem herself in a lot of ways but you can't deny her a place on the mean girl list.

7. Regina from Some Girls Are -- Total bitch....yet I found myself feeling sorry for her?! I'm a little short of 10...but I've been feeling ill so I hope you all can forgive me for not wanting to think anymore! :P

So you are some of the biggest bitches/mean girls you've encountered in books?

Click here to see next week's topic AND topics through June!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Julia Reviews the Pun Also Rises + Giveaway!

The Pun Also RisesTitle/Author: The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics by John Pollack
Publisher/Year Published: 2010 by Gotham
How I got this book: It was provided to me by the publishers through TLC Book Tours
Why I read this book: I love words and languages and how they evolve. Puns never really interested me until I read the title of this book and thought “That’s a good queston”
Rating: 4 stars

Summary What do the following have in common: Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, Disney’s recent movie Gnomeo & Juliet, London wine bar “Planet of the Grapes”?
They are all puns…which usually elicit either a quick chuckle or a loud groan. We are surrounded by puns. Be it the name of a store or movie, a headline in a newspaper, and advertisement on a billboard or characters in books and TV shows, puns show up every day. In some ways, we are experiencing a pun renaissance. The Pun Also Rises is the definitive account of the humble pun, its history, and why punning still matters.

Author, John Pollack – a former Presidential Speechwriter and winner of the O. Henry world pun championship – will lead you on a remarkable journey through time, culture and language. Rich with anecdotes, history, pop culture, neuroscience, literature, anthropology and humor, this book will inspire every reader to reconsider what they think they know about puns.

When I was contacted by TLC Book Tours about reading a book about language, I jumped at the chance. I love language. Everything about it intrigues me, including puns. I’m not going to lie. Before I started reading this book, when someone said “pun”, I would think of the jokes that come on popsicle sticks. And yes, I would be one of groaners sometimes. But the interesting thing about this book is it leads you more into the depths of puns.

I learned a lot reading this book. A good number of the words I would not immediately recognize as puns are actually puns. Pollack does a good job at explaining in an interesting way why a pun is what it is. Each chapter highlights a different aspect with the biggest chunk being on the history. There were a few parts that I kind of glossed over as slightly repetitive and sometimes the order of how things were presented gave me a puzzled look, but overall I spent many a plane flight learning about puns.

The funny thing is, after reading this book, I have started using puns more. Sometimes I get the groans from others, but I don’t care to much as they amuse me a great deal. (Though now that I have said that I am trying to think of a good pun to put in this review, but after about 5 minutes of staring I have come up empty. Sad. I would not win the O. Henry championship.)
So here is my recommendation. If you like language, like learning about little known facts about words or speech in general then you will really like this book. It doesn’t read too academic, so no need to be put off there.

The Best Part: The publisher is offering one lucky winner a free copy of the book! If this book interests you, just leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be drawn Monday, May 2nd. I will contact you for a mailing address. The book will come directly from the publisher. US/Canada only please.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kelly's Review of "Forever" by Peter Hamill

Author: Pete Hamill
Published: Back Bay Books, 2002
Where I Got It: Used book store
Rating: 4 stars

In 1740, young Cormac O'Connor arrives in New York City from Ireland to avenge the deaths of his parents. On the voyage to New York and after their arrival, Cormac shows kindness to an African slave, Kongo, who later repays his kindness by granting Cormac eternal life. The conditions are that Cormac can never leave the island of Manhattan and must fully carry out his mission of revenge. It isn't until the early 2000s that this opportunity comes about, and in the meantime, we see Manhattan grow from a small village mostly populated by the wolves in its forests to the thriving mega-city we all know it as today. From the American Revolution, the slave revolts, the Civil War, the Prohibition, to 9/11, we see all of these events through the eyes of one person.

Interestingly enough, in an interview at the end, the author says he actually completed the book on September 10, 2001. He went back and revised it, later saying, "I couldn't have a New York novel that had the 1835 fire and the cholera and smallpox epidemics, and not include September 11." I felt that the 9/11 section was the most haunting (though terribly foreshadowed), but that's probably only because it's the only section of the book I'd ever personally experienced.

Overall, this was a pretty interesting read. I should mention that there are about 150 pages of back story before he even arrives in New York, but most of it was relevant as to why Cormac is doing most of the things he does. I still think that as concise and long as this book was, we still missed out on some periods of time that would have been fun to read about; the entire 20th century was virtually ignored. How fun would it have been to read chapters about the flappers? 

Immediately upon finishing this book, I spent at least 15 minutes figuring out what I would have done if I'd been in Cormac's place. I think I'd like the fact of observing history in the making and watching all the changes going on around me. It'd be like being a vampire..without actually being a vampire. On the flip side, it would be torture to have all the people I ever cared about eventually die and leave me alone. As in Cormac's case, never being able to travel beyond one place would be pure torture! What would you do?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Heather reviews Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will GraysonTitle/Author: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
Published/Year Published: Dutton Juvenile, 2010
How I got this book: bought a copy on my Nook
Why I read this book: I heard good things and I'm a big fan of John Green
Rating: 3 stars

Brief summary (from Goodreads): One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

My thoughts: It seems like there has been an influx of collaborative novels for young adults recently. I find it so fascinating the way two authors are able to create such a coherent story by writing their sections separately, sending it off to the other and continuing on with the rest of the story in that manner. It reminds me of one of those choose your own adventure books. Embarrassing fact- my friends and I used to write some ridiculous Hanson and N'Sync fan-fiction in middle school in this same way (hahaha....) Yes, I was a huge nerd. One huge difference was that ours didn't make much sense when thrown together.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson takes the collaborative novel a step further by giving both characters the same name. Typically I think this would get pretty confusing but in this case they make it easy to tell the difference by using proper capitalization for one and all lowercase for the other. This is one of the first books I have read where one of the main characters is so openly and fabulously gay. John Green's Will Grayson (capital WG) was much more entertaining for me. I loved the struggling friendship between he and his best friend, (the not so tiny) Tiny Cooper. Tiny's musical, "Tiny Dancer", added plenty of humor to some pretty heavy subject matter. The flirtatious relationship between capital WG and Tiny's friend, Jane, was incredibly adorable. It reminded me so much of how it felt to be a teenager and have a blossoming crush on someone.

It took some time for me to warm up to David Levithan's Will Grayson (lowercase WG). I thought he was too angsty and portrayed as not a very nice guy. I started liking him better when the two Will Grayson's met. Their meeting was all sorts of hilarious and awkward, and I loved it. They get to talking and lowercase WG is introduced to Tiny, who of course falls for him and introduces him to his wonderful gay world. I thought it was somewhat unbelievable that after this meeting it was fairly easy for lowercase WG to come out of the closet to everyone, although I did think it was nice to see a character I hadn't previously cared much for have the guts to make such a bold move. I still found him a little annoying at times but he really made up for it when he made such an effort to show Tiny how he felt in the end and was able to work together with capital WG.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson throws a lot of emotions at the reader but it's got enough comedy and anticipation that it's not a book you feel like you have to muddle through. I enjoyed the different romantic stories and the ups and downs of the friendships. It was a very realistic look at how friendships and teenage romance can change so drastically in high school. I think it's harder to read a book like this now that I'm in my mid-twenties and don't really relate to the angsty teenage crap anymore. As a teen, I would have most likely given Will Grayson, Will Grayson 4 or 5 stars.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Natanya's Giddy Account of Meeting Margaret Atwood

As you may know, I adore Margaret Atwood. At the beginning of the semester, when I learned she would be coming to my university, I nearly jumped with glee. I told everyone I know. They didn’t really care (I’m friends with too many pre-med people), but whatever. What’s more, I learned through the grapevine (aka the English Club list-serv) that I could sign up for a Q&A the morning after the talk! Basically, I was in heaven.

[Note: I didn’t take notes at the reading—though I did during the Q&A—because I didn’t want to miss anything, so that is why my discussion of her reading isn’t going to have very much detail. For slightly more detail, check out this article (which reflects my sentiments exactly) from the Cornell Sun about her reading.]

I waited and waited, and finally March 30th rolled around. I got to the auditorium nice and early, snagging myself a seat in the third row (nice and close, but not so close I have to crane my neck). Atwood was introduced by J. Robert Lennon, an author and Creative Writing professor here who wrote a fantastic article last fall about Atwood for The Walrus. And then…Atwood came out onto the stage. I literally held my breath. I was in complete disbelief that she was actually standing there, just a few yards from where I was sitting. I thought I was going to pass out. But I didn’t. And then she started talking, and started reading. She read a few absolutely hysterical stories from The Tent (including one depicting her cat’s discussion with God, and another called “Three Novels I Won’t Be Writing Soon,” such as “Worm Zero,” in which all of the worms in the world die), a couple non-humorous but still amazing poems, and an excerpt from The Year of the Flood. She then took a few questions, which she answered wittily and thoroughly, going so far as to ask one girl what more she would like to know.

Basically, I left Atwood’s talk thinking that if it was even possible for me to adore her even more, I now did.

The following morning, I woke up bright and early for a student Q&A, and this time, I was literally 3 feet away from her. It took a lot of self-restraint to keep myself from jumping up and hugging her.

I did take notes during the Q&A, so here are some of the questions and her (paraphrased, sorry) responses. Sorry these are kind of random/disorganized. She covered a lot in her responses, and I thought you guys might want to read some of them.
  • Someone asked her what her favorite part of The Handmaid’s Tale was, but she said that she doesn’t like reading her own work because she knows what will happen. Instead, she discussed the origins of the novel: she wrote it in Poland, Czechoslovakia, where no one could talk about anything anywhere for fear of being overheard, and Alabama, in the hometown of the KKK. She also explained that if she wrote the novel now, it would be much different because of all of the new technology we have.

  • Why are science fiction covers so embarrassing? The creators of the covers think that you need to be able to classify the book, even though these books often transcend the genre.

  • I asked a question about why there are so many YA dystopian novels being written these days, and she said that it’s because kids are concerned about the future. In the 19th century, there were tons of utopian novels because they allowed people to disappear into a better world, but now we read these dystopias because we like seeing that, as bad as our lives are, “at least we’re not in The Road.”

  • Writing tips:
    - Write every day, no matter how bad it is – there aren’t any shortcuts
    - If you’re stuck when writing, change the voice (1st to 3rd, etc). She explained that Alias Grace began in 3rd person, but then she started over in a different voice because she realized that the narrator knew too much.
    - Take into consideration the relationship between the speaker and their audience. For example, Jimmy in Oryx & Crake doesn’t keep a journal because there isn’t anyone to read it!
    - The stumbling block to dystopia is that the writer can try to explain too much, and then we get bogged down.
And the best part of the Q&A? At the end, I went up to her to get my book signed (The Blind Assassin, which I happen to be reading right now so I have it with me at school), and I mentioned that I write for The Broke & the Bookish and that I had written a piece about her last fall, and she seemed to remember it! Yay!

Sorry if this post was long and rambly. Seeing Margaret Atwood was one of those things I thought would never actually happen, and, honestly, I think I’m still kind of in denial that I really did meet her!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Julia's Top Ten Tuesday Rewind

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 fill out Mr. Linky  . I
If you can't come up with ten, don't worry about it---post as many as you can!

By my count, this Top Ten Tuesday will be the 44th done by this site (what?!). Top Ten Tuesday has come a long way, from Childhood Favorites to Book to Movie wishlists. Across those 44 weeks there most likely have been Tuesdays where you just forgot, didn’t have the time or didn't know it existed and really wished that you could because it was such a cool week. Well, here is your chance to fix it!

Top Ten Tuesday Rewind is a chance for you to go back through the archives and chose a past TTT that you want to do, or maybe even redo! The best part is that the linky is going to be like a grab bag! You won’t know what it is until you get there!

Check out here for a list of past Top Ten Tuesdays and to see future Top Ten Tuesdays (next week is Top Ten Mean Girls In Books)

It was really hard to chose, but after consideration I am giving Jamie’s Top Ten Most Intimidating Books another go.

Julia's Top Ten Most Intimidating Books

1. Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak
There are really two things that intimidate me about books. Their rating by people that have thus classified them as classics and their length. At 592 pages and having been made into at least one movie adaptation, that classifies it enough for me. And is enough to intimidate the hell out of me.

2. Paradise Lost - John Milton
I really, really want to read this. I even tried oncetwice. The problem is the verse. I mean it is brilliant (so I hear), but to really understand its brilliance I'd need to have a doctorate in mythology and allegory. So I stopped reading and read a book of compiled mythology. I didn't pick this back up yet. And now its been so long, I’ve forgotten the mythology! I am putting out a call for help here. I have heard it will help if I have the audio version, any good versions that anyone can point me to?

3. Anything by Tolstoy
It really comes down to a)it’s foreign and translated b)it’s from a different time c)it’s long. Beyond long. They move into tome territory.

4. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Also very long, but not even slightly light reading. All I know about this book is its very… feministic? I’m drifting into judgement territory but I feel like even if I did every give it a try, I would dislike it for the same reason I don’t really like politics. I could tell you what that reason is, but it would be the same one.

5. Books by Dostoevsky that are not The Brothers Karamazov
Mostly because I already read that one and in reading that one, I found out that I liked Dostoevsky’s writing, which puts me in between a rock and a hard place. I think I would enjoy his other books, but when I think about it I think about the things I didn’t like about The Brothers Karamazov and psych myself out of it.

6. Jane Autsen Novels
I can hear some of you snicker, but there is something about these novels that makes them really hard to get into for me. I remember getting about 30 pages into Pride and Prejudice before I had to move on to lighter fare. Maybe it’s the style, but I remember bemoaning the loss of dialog tags. I really want to read them. They sound like great books. But they just intimate me. I think the Bronte sisters works fall under the same category by no fault of their own.

7. Dickens
I’ve only read A Christmas Carol, but I feel if I ever tried to really give Dickens a shot I would be turned off by the language and comparing whatever work it was to whatever adaptation I had already seen. His works are all over the place.

8. 1984 - George Orwell
This time it's the science aspect. I read Dune and it kind of turned me off to sci fi books. Unfair, I know. I then read Fahrenheit 451, which is more dystopian, like 1984, and really enjoyed it. That hope of awesome keeps me coming back. I do want to read this though, even if they go into too much science detail (not that I know if they do or not). I just need to (wo)man up and read it.

9. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
This is not just this book. I want to read the whole Musketeers series. I've read the first one, but when I think about all the others and how big each is I just go read something else. It always comes down to length for me it seems. The bigger it is, the more arduous the process. But I guess the greater the reward?

10. Long Fantasy Series
I don’t know if this is fair or not, but if series go on forever, they could be the best works ever and I would be hard pressed to read them. Not so much for there never ending nature (helps though) but because I ‘d be worried I wouldn’t get that “I just finished a book” pay off that you get after the last page. I am attempting to conquer this fear right now by reading Name of the Wind. So far so good (except carrying around all the time is back breaking!).

So that’s my list! I am look forward to the grab bag below!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jen Reviews "Invincible Summer"

Title: Invincible Summer
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Published: Simon & Schuster, April 2011
How I Got It: Galley Grab

Summary (from Goodreads):

Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?

Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive.... 



So.  I feel kind of bad about not liking this book.  It just wasn't my cup of tea.  I know everyone has different likes and dislikes but I truly thought I would enjoy reading Invincible Summer.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.

What I Liked:

The entire story is told from a male's perspective.  Our narrator, Chase, is a teenage boy who we meet the summer he turns sixteen and the reader gets to know him for the next four summers.  So often in young-adult books we're in the head of a teenage girl.  Being inside the male brain for an entire book was refreshing.

The cover.  Yes, it's provocative and I love that it has shock value.  I think the cover will definitely make some people pick the book up (people who might not have picked it up before).  Does it have anything to do with the story?  Well...not really.  Yes, the entire book takes place on the beach.  Other than that it doesn't connect well with the story.

Chase's little brother, Gideon.  I hated how his family treated him though.  He was born deaf but no one in his family ever took the time to learn sign language. If someone in your family was deaf (especially a younger family member) wouldn't you at least attempt to learn how to sign?  But his family members didn't, they made up a few of their own signs which didn't really help.

There are a couple of scenes when Chase is thinking of past summers and how everything is different in the summer.  Magical almost.  I long for the summers of my middle-school and high-school days.  Summertime was special.  Don't get me wrong, I still love the summer but those summers hold some of my best memories.

What I Didn't Like:

Camus.  It may be ignorance on my part but I did not know who Camus was until I read this book.  After reading this book I think I've had enough of him.

Pretty much all of the teenage characters quote Camus.  At the most random times to.  They'll be talking and all of a sudden - BAM! - a profound Camus quote.  Or Chase and his older brother Noah will have a competition to see who can think of the deepest quote (by Camus of course).  Or they're reading a book by Camus.  Really.  Camus overload.  It was a bit much and felt a little pretentious.

The characters.  Other than connecting with Chase about feeling the same way about past summers...I just didn't care about the characters.  There is a tragic event that seemed a little much.  The girl (I think her name was Melinda?) got on my nerves so bad.

This book was just not meant for me.  If you've read Invincible Summer what did you think of it?  

If you haven't read it (or even if you have) what is one of your favorite summer memories?

Another Perspective (people who enjoyed the book):

Books With Bite
Brenna's Bookish Blog

Friday, April 15, 2011

Julia Reviews The Lady Most Likely

Title/Author: The Lady Most Likely by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway
Publisher/Year Published: 2010 by Avon
How I got this book: the library
Why I read this book: It sounded interesting and Julia Quinn and Eloisa James are on auto-read.
Rating: 2.5 stars

The Lady Most Likely was marketed to me heavily on Facebook. It was toted to be "a novel in three parts". What these authors decided to do was to have a powwow, come up with a general story and have each write a section: beginning, middle and end. Sounds quite intriguing. Could they pull it off? Would the hero act the same in part one as he did in part three? How would the inner monologues change between the three sections? I was quite curious.

Unfortunately, when I started reading “the middle” I realized that it really wasn’t a novel in three parts but an overlapping anthology. Each “part” had its own mini-romance all centering around a house party in the country. Time wise they interacted and overlapped, but you can tell the focus shifts with each author.

I think I had really high expectations for this going in. I thought it was going to be something awesome: one main romance told round robin style. I must confess. When I was in high school, we had something called “The Notebook.” Three of my friends and I would each take turns writing a few pages in a narrative. It was so much fun, because not only would you get to read about what the last three people had done with the story, but you got to take it in a whole different direction if you wanted. (Cool story sis time: It was freshman year when we did this using an actual notebook. Some other of our friends got jealous of us, stole the book and ripped it up in front of us. Or maybe we felt bad and ripped it up so they would feel better. I don’t remember. All I do know is we moved to emails. I still have them)

The downfall of our story was that we had the most basic of beginning storylines, with each having a character to call our own. The stories never got anywhere and things sort of died off. I figured what we lacked in experience of ours would be rectified in these three awesome authors coming together to create a story.

It just didn’t work for me. They should have just called it an interlinking anthology and then maybe I would have felt better.

Outside of the premise, the story was just okay for me. It is hard for me to like romantic short stories because everything seems too rushed and unbelievable for me. (And I already suspend enough reality as it is.) These are great authors, I just don’t think that this work best exemplifies who they are. I would recommend it to someone who wants some quick, light romance.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Daisy's Favourite Places to Read World Wide

We had a Top Ten Tuesday once regarding your favourite places to read. I didn't participate back then, but I wanted to show you guys some beautiful places I've been and read at around the world.

First off is Jardines de la Ciudadela in Barcelona:

I can't even begin to describe the awesomeness that is Barcelona in general, but the day me and my boyfriend spend in this park was just perfection! It's so beautiful. There's a zoo in the park or right next to it, I can't remember correctly, but in the park they have little green and yellow parrots flying around and sitting in the trees and bushes everywhere. It was just so cute. We spend the whole day sitting in the shade of a tree and just reading. It's one of the best days I've ever had. I'd go back there in a heartbeat. You actually weren't allowed to walk on the grass, but people were sitting on it everywhere, so we figured we'd be okay.

Hyde Park, London:

Well, of course I had to show you this one! I'm a huge anglophile and kept squealing when my boyfriend agreed to make a trip to London. I want to go back there so bad! They have amazing bookstores.
And parks. Oh my gosh, the parks! They are everywhere. Big ones, little ones. Filled with these little guys -->
They are so cute and pretty tame, if you bring peanuts they'll just eat them right out of your hand. I loved it.

Marmaris, Turkey:

I went there with one of my best friends from high school and it was so HOT! It was about 40-45C and even in the shade it was almost too hot to read (note: almost). The water is so blue there and the skye is almost purple, it was really beautiful.

And then finally, a little closer to home: Goffert Park & Kronenburger Park, Nijmegen, The Netherlands:

We have two pretty parks in Nijmegen, where I live and go to the university. I love to be outdoors while I'm reading, it's just so relaxing.

So, this is me, how about you guys? Any beautiful spots to share? And please, please do leave links to pictures if you can! I love discovering new places :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kimberly's Review of You Know When the Men Are Gone

Book: You Know When the Men Are Gone
Author: Siobhan Fallon
Publisher: Penguin Group
How I got it: As an ARC!
You Know When the Men Are Gone tells the stories of the women who are left behind, waiting for their husbands, soldiers in the United States Army, to return home to Fort Hood, Texas. Each of them has a unique story, their lives are all very different from one another, but they all have something in common: they are Army Wives. They spend their days like normal women, but they also spend their time planning care packages, checking the news to watch for news of more death where their husbands are serving, praying that they won’t recognize any names, waiting for that precious phone call when they get to talk to their husband, to hear their voice if only for a few minutes, and counting down the days until the days until the men come home. When they finally are no longer restricted to those phone calls, but to be able to touch their husbands, see them every day, knowing that for the moment, they are safe.
We hear plenty about the soldiers serving our country, but it’s easy to forget sometimes that there are families left here at home. The mothers, wives, girlfriends are all left worrying what might happen. Learning to adapt to life without their husbands. They pay the bills, they take care of their children, they do everything.
I grew up in a family where many of my family members have served. My maternal Grandfather and Grandmother served in the Army Air Corps during WWII, my paternal Grandfather served in the Navy, several of my uncles have served as well as a handful of cousins. I’m a third generation employee of the Air Force, which is why the publisher contacted me in the first place. She thought that with my background, I would have interest in the story.
This book is a well written narrative of the life an Army wife leads. I felt a connection to each of the characters, sharing their pain and their joy. Each story is short and tells just a small portion of the woman’s story and I found myself wishing I could read just a little bit more about them. I wanted to know what happened next. The stories are appropriately ordered, each of them telling a unique story. I was especially pleased with the last chapter, titled “Gold Star”. I felt it was a fitting conclusion to the book.
I was almost a little disappointed to learn that the women in the stories were fictional. At the same time though, it shows the authors ability to create a character that is very real.
Overall, a very good read. Sobering, yet inspirational at the same time.
4.5 Stars.
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