Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tahleen's Top Ten Books That Would Make Great Book Club Picks

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.

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics through February, check them out here!

Hi everyone! This week's topic is great book club picks. I hope you agree with me that these would spark some great discussion, even if you don't particularly like the books themselves. Sometimes that sparks the best discussion, don't you think?

1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Come on, you know I am all about YA. This books has lots of appeal for adults as well as teens, and there is definitely a lot to talk about here.

2. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris. This is one that is less known, but I think extremely well written and full of stuff to talk about. It's told from 3 perspectives, 3 generations of women, all coming together in the end. I really liked this one and I want other people to know about it, too.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Yeah, I know, I know. Everyone's already read it. But think about how you can all talk about why it's so popular, or even if it deserves all the buzz! Also, it was written by a woman who had a black maid, so there's that bit to talk about too. There's a lot that probably can be uncovered in a second read-through or discussion.

4. Anything by John Green. There is so much to his writing, with literary allusions and philosophy and ways he connects the past to the present. Love it.

5. A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I actually read this for my book club, and there was a lot to talk about. Especially when you put yourself in that position, thinking about how you would react if that ever happened. (You'll find out what I'm talking about when you read it.)

6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. A good non-fiction book to add to the mix. Skloot makes science accessible and tells the story of one of the most overlooked women in the history of science. It's fascinating and personal and very exposed all at the same time. Makes you really think about medical ethics.

7. Maus by Art Spiegelman. If you haven't read this graphic novel, you should. Spiegelman is a master at this art. There is so much to talk about in this two-part memoir, I can't even begin to talk about it all.

8. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I had to. You guys KNOW me by now. He is my hero. Also, this book is hilarious and full of an enormous amount of interesting facts. This is due for a reread.

9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I just really liked this book and think it has a lot you could talk about.

10. Sunshine by Robin McKinley. This book is the very best vampire book ever. In my opinion. SO much going on, and you will want to eat all sorts of baked goods/try your hand at baking while reading this. Plus, vampires are not sparkly in this one. They want to kill you. Most of the time.

Those are my picks! Tell us yours. Link up below!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Natanya Reviews Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Title/Author: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Publisher/Year: Little Brown & Co, 2004
Where I got it: Library on ebook
Why I read it: I’ve heard Sedaris is good, and this was the only one of his books available at the library when I needed a book to read
Summary (from Goodreads):
David Sedaris returns to his deliriously twisted domain: hilarious childhood dramas infused with melancholy; the gulf of misunderstanding that exists between people of different nations or members of the same family; and the poignant divide between one's best hopes and most common deeds. The family characters his readers love are all here, as well as the unique terrain they inhabit, strewn with comic landmines. 'The Rooster' is back, and getting married in the funniest wedding ever described. David attends a slumber party and gets the upper hand in a unique version of strip poker. 'Rubber or plastic?' The strangest questions can tear people apart. A skinny guy from Spain, wearing a bishop's hat and accompanied by six to eight men, invades your house and pretends to kick you. Is this any way to spend Christmas? With this new book, Sedaris's prose reaches breathtaking new heights and marks off a territory that is unmistakably his own. Read it and weep tears of humane laughter.

The word “hilarious” in the above summary combined with my previous knowledge of David Sedaris led me to believe that this book would be very funny. Perhaps I just don’t understand Sedaris’ style of humor, but while I was often somewhat amused, I found very little of this book “hilarious,” which is odd since I’ve read reviews of this book saying it is quite funny. But for me, many of the stories were interesting, but not at all laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, most often they were just plain disturbing, and many also didn’t seem believable. Maybe some of the problem is that I read this as my first Sedaris book instead of Me Think Pretty One Day or When You Are Engulfed in Flames, but I don’t know.

Again, however, I’m not saying that the stories weren’t interesting. They were. Sedaris is a great storyteller, and I enjoyed hearing about his siblings and getting to compare how they were as kids and adults. In fact, stories about the siblings were considerably more interesting to read about than the stories just about Sedaris, who, quite frankly, is a bit of an obnoxious douchebag. Sedaris jumps around in time a lot in this book, which both makes it interesting and kind of confusing – there are stories where he appears to be in his 20s, and others where he’s in his 40s, but it was hard for me to develop a timeline of when things happened once he got beyond stories about his childhood, so many of the stories ended up blending together.

Overall, this was the kind of book that I would recommend not reading all at once, and instead reading one or two stories at a time over a few weeks. I think I would have liked it more had I done that, when instead I got sick of it about 4/5 of the way through and stopped reading (and then my Kindle loan from the library expired, and it doesn’t seem worth it to renew). I’m not yet ready to write off Sedaris altogether, but I don’t know if I’ll ever finish this particular book.
3 stars

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Daisy's Review of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Title/Author: Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1) by Veronica Rossi
Publisher/Date published: HarperCollins, January 3rd 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.
As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.
They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY."

So people have been going "OMG! THE NEVER SKY!" for a couple of months now. The summary left me with a big questionmark over my head, but don't let that deter you, this book is le awesome! This book was the book that after 5 books ranging from meh to really enjoyed it, got me LOVING it.

It took some time to get used to the society and we are pretty much thrown right into the action as it starts with Aria being caught in a fire and getting thrown out of Reverie. But slowly I got to know Aria and Perry and Roar and all the other characters that make this book into the wonderfulness that it was.

I absolutely LOVED Perry! And Roar! Don't get me wrong, I also loved Aria, but Perry and Roar just stole my heart. The boys are amazing and I loved how Perry struggled with his abilities and with Aria and his loyalty to his family... I felt everything right along with him and I love it when that happens! Perry had lots of amazing Perry-moments (and you guys, the moment on the tower with Aria!!), I hope you all discover them as well!

The Aether in the sky is fascinating and I'm very much hoping we'll learn more about it, like how it came into being, if it causes other things than we've already seen. But most of all I'll be reading the next book because I want to find out what happens next! And to get my Perry-fix, cause that boy ran off with my heart!

I'm happy to say this book didn't end with a cliffhanger, like so many books in series seem to do these days. So instead of making me go WHAT? NO!!! it left me with a smile on my face and an intense desire to have the next book ASAP!

My rating: 5+ stars

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top Ten Historical Fiction Books That Jamie Loved

Check out how Top Ten Tuesday works & the future schedule of topics HERE.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is a freebie...meaning YOU pick whatever topic your heart desires! Did you miss a topic you wanted to participate in or have a really specific topic that will probably never be a general Top Ten Tuesday topic? This week is for YOU!

I decided to go with a list of the best adult historical fiction books or young adult historical fiction books that paint the picture of an era so well that I really want to visit it or read everything (fiction and non-fiction) that I can about it.

1. Vixen/Ingenue by Jillian Larkin: I've always had this obsession with flappers and the 1920's in general and this one is so great. I can picture the smokey lounges, hear the jazz playing, fear the pinstriped, gun toting pimps and envy the beautiful flappers and their amazing outfits. If you like Young Adult historical fiction and the 1920s, give this series a try!

2. Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Septys: If I could only recommend one historical fiction books, it'd be this one. No matter what your reading preferences are, I think you'll find this book haunting and will open your eyes to one of history's most horrible injustices during Stalin's reign. I have recommended this book to so many of my friends and have found even my friends who are non-YA readers like it!

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusack: Oh my goodness. Talk about a book making you sob all through the night. THIS ONE. It's set during WW2 in Germany and is heartbreaking and so powerful. And it's narrated by DEATH...which is one of the most memorable POVS I've EVER come across. This book is on my top five favorite books ever list.

4.  Memoirs of A Geisha by Arthur Golden: I had been so wary about this one when I read it a few years ago. It was one of those books that I saw everybody and their MOM reading in airports or parks or in line at the grocery store. It was so hyped. But for good reason! I found myself easily immersed into the world of the geishas in Japan. The scenes were vivid, the story was interesting and I couldn't put it down. I even bought a non-fiction book about geishas! YAY learning.

5. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum: Clearly I have a fascination with books set in WW2 but I really did love this book so much! I loved the mother-daughter storyline and the writing was wonderful! My heart broke for Anna in this book and it portrayed perfectly what a mother's love would allow her to do for her child.

6. A Long, Long Time Ago And Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka: Oh surprise surprise. This book is also set during WW2 in Poland. This book was a GEM! I had accepted a pitch on a whim and ended up LOVING it. Beautiful writing & complex characters. Definitely recommend if you like adult historical fiction set in WW2.

7. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson: I don't typically read much Middle grade fiction but I love Laurie Halse Anderson and I really love the American Revolution. It fascinated me in school, I always read books set during that time as a child/tween and I geek out when my history buff stepdad takes to trips to battlefields. (He actually reenacts Washington's Crossing on the Delaware river here in PA on Christmas morning). This book will undoubtedly be a classic middle grade novel and I can see children really loving this in schools. The characters are relatable and the story is perfectly paced.

8. Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen: I LOVED this book. LOVED. It was so gritty and interesting and during and era that I find fascinating. And plus...a huge part of the setting is the circus! I thought the movie was pretty good but GO READ THE BOOK.

9. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara: I read this one for school and I really recall liking it. I've always loved learning about the Civil War era and this was one required reading assignment I didn't mind.

10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer: I always see it labeled as Historical Fiction but it's an epistolary novel that has correspondences from the present but also the past as the main character is learning about this island of Guernsey during WW2. The title threw me off on this one and never really intrigued me but I saw a few rave reviews and HAD to read it! So glad I did!

Tell me some of your favorite historical fiction books!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kelly's Review of "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks

Title: Year of Wonders
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Published: Penguin, 2001

Book reviewers I trust had ranted about this book for a long time, and I figured I should check it out. Heck, it's #19 on the Best Historical Fiction list on goodreads. It's historical fiction, about the plague, and set in England, what's not for me to like?

The book is about a young woman named Anna living in a small village in England, that through unfortunate events, is diseased with plague in 1666. As death reaches into every household, the lives and relationships of the villagers are changed forever, leading to extreme actions and disastrous endings. Sound pretty epic to me.

That being said...I really wanted to like this book. The overall plot is an interesting and novel idea...but it was just written to be too boring for me. Even when exciting and unexpected things do happen, it was written in a very bland way. It was one of those "Wait, did something happen? Oh, someone died in a horrific way? How did I miss that?" moments . OK, this sounds a little seedy, but I was also expecting it to be more graphic and...well, gross. Based on some reviews I read, I was expecting to have to carry a trashcan around with me to throw up in. Yeah, that didn't happen. The Plague was anything but simple or skimpy on details, why make the book like that?

Even with the not so great writing, I still would have given it a higher rating if it hadn't been for the ending. Out of nowhere it turned into some sort of 21st century Hollywood movie with action, sex, and scandal...but not in a good way. It was almost as if the author was getting bored with her own story, and to save it, scribbled down some strange climax at the last moment. It was so out of place and almost unnecessary.

It was still a decent book, just a little disappointing. 2 stars.

[Note: this review is over two years old, I pulled it out of the archives of my personal blog. Looking at the goodreads list, I see it is now #31! Apparently people agree with me.]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tahleen reviews: "Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)" by Sarah Mlynowski

TitleTen Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2011

Rating: 4 stars

When April's dad and stepmom drop the bomb that they're moving to Cleveland, she can't even begin to comprehend or accept it. In fact, she'll do anything to stay in Connecticut, where her friends, her school, and her boyfriend Noah are. The problem is, her mother and brother are all the way in Paris and there's no where else she can stay. Well... except for her friend Vi's place. Where her mom will be leaving her unsupervised for the semester since she got the leading role in a traveling production of the musical Mary Poppins. All April has to do is tell a few little lies. But there are definitely some things she wasn't expecting to happen, like getting a hot tub, adopting a kitten, throwing the biggest party ever...

When I saw this book was only 99 cents for my nook, I knew I had to take advantage of that. I'd heard great things, and this book didn't disappoint. I couldn't believe some of the things these girls did, or that they had the guts to do them—at some points I was actually a bit upset at their decisions. But overall it was a fun book that had a lot of serious moments and issues teens deal with on a regular basis. Well, besides the whole living without guardians thing.

I loved that this is sort of a framed narrative. It starts off the morning after the big party, with April getting a phone call from her father saying he's 15 minutes away from the house to surprise her for her birthday. Needless to say, she is very surprised and goes into panic mode. Then we cut back to right before New Year's Eve, when we find out her father is leaving. The rest of the book goes through the time they are without parents, with a twist following the scene where the book started. I loved this.

What I'm most impressed with is how Mlynowski handles sex in her writing. April loses her virginity (one of the 10 things), and the way Mlynowski writes it is not only completely believable, but probably pretty normal. I was incredibly impressed with how responsibly she treats the subject—April and Vi both go on the birth control pill to start, use condoms, etc. Yet Mlynowski makes it clear that there can be consequences to sex, both emotionally and physically, and for that I am grateful that this book exists. I can think of a few people who should have read this.

*kind of a spoiler*

I also really liked how April tries so hard to manage her love life and do the right thing, even though she is starting to have feelings for her friend Hudson and it's clear he likes her too. She stays loyal to her boyfriend, but there is that thought in the back of her mind that maybe she would be happier with someone else, especially when Noah starts to act differently toward her.

Overall, this was a quick, fun read that teens can easily relate to, despite the abnormal circumstances. I would certainly recommend this to teens, as well as those of us who read young adult novels well into adulthood.

Disclosure: I bought this as an e-book from Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Paula gets to see John Green!

GUYS! So this past Saturday was pretty exciting for me, as some of you may or may not know, John Green recently released his new book "The Fault in Our Stars". And as a part of its promotion, he's been touring the US. Thankfully I was lucky enough to live in a city that his tour stopped in and got to see him (and his (vlog)brother Hank Green joined him as a special guest.

I got to the event pretty early (thankfully- because it was sold out and I managed to snag a fairly close spot) and spent my hour people watching and finishing "The Fault in Our Stars".

The first thing we were greeted with was Hanksock (a puppet from vlogbrothers) who did a little act and told people to take as many pictures as they wanted etc etc, and then introduced John. John came out on the stage and read an excerpt from the book (most of Chapter 2). I found this super exciting because as I was reading the book, I imagined it as John reading it, and it was awesome hearing how he placed emphasis on certain things that I didn't. It was also amusing hearing him talk as a 16 year old girl. He also talked about his inspiration for the book, which was working as a hospital chaplain over a decade ago. He explained that he's been working on this novel since then, and it kept getting put off because he didn't know what the story actually was about. He then explained that he finally knew how to write it after he met his friend Esther Earl (who the book is dedicated too), who has since lost the battle to cancer.

After that Hank played some songs. One was about the book (and also from the character's perspective, so we got to hear Hank be a 16 year old girl also). After that he sang some of his original songs - some of which were about Harry Potter. All of which were wonderfully nerdy.

Next up was Q&A. John did part of it on his own specifically about "The Fault in Our Stars" (or his other books). There was a mix of thoughtful and silly questions. Unfortunately the thoughtful answers have slipped my mind, but some of the other questions were "Why do all of your female characters have green eyes" or "Why do all of your female characters wear blue nail polish?" Both of which he said were coincidence. After his time was up Hank joined him and they had a vlogbrothers Q&A. Which as an added bonus (so neither one would hog the time and lots of people were able to get questions answered) - whoever was talking when the buzzer went off (Hank) got shocked. They talked a lot about various projects they are working on and answered questions about Hankgames and how Vlogbrothers got started.

Then sadly the event was over and the line for signing began. Thankfully I was able to switch my letter (originally had S, switched for an M) with someone else and I only had to wait about 45 minutes. Since they only had 30 seconds of interaction time per person, I had to plan what I was going to ask carefully.... I finally settled with "Is it your intention to make me sob in public every time I read your books in a coffee shop?" He replied that it was his intention to make me laugh, and hopefully my tears were from laughter. I told him they were tears of joy because his writing is wonderful.

My spoils of war:

It was a pretty good night, Huzzah! and DFTBA nerdfighters!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Julia's Top Ten Books Recommended To Non-Romance Readers

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.
For future Top Ten Tuesday topics through February, check them out here!

Happy Tuesday Everyone! Julia here with today's topic.

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To Someone Who Doesn't Read X

Now. A little background for my choice if you will. I love reading romance novels. According to my statistics that I do for myself, last year 42% of the books I read were romance novels. The year before that it was 46%. So I love romance. I have lots of reasons, but that is not for this post. I have reviewed/mentioned romance novels about six times on this blog, and review them a whole lot more over at my own blog.

So I decided to make my list...

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To Someone Who Doesn't Read Romance Novels
More specifically... historical romance. Because that is really what most of these are.

1. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
I love fairytale retellings, and this is a wonderful modernization of the Beauty and the Beast tale. Well modernization meaning it is still set in the past but not in the far distant past of legends. The hero and heroine are both dynamic and is has an interesting story propelling you to the end.
(Add on Goodreads)

2. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
Oh, the Bridgertons. I love this series. The Duke and I is the first one in that series. It's a family of 8 kids, one kid per book. Trivia! They are named alphabetically. The first one is the Duke and I. It is about the first gil Daphne and Simon. I love this story because it has just the right balance between levity and plot. Other favorite books in the series? The Viscount Who Loved Me, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton and On the Way to the Wedding.
(Add on Goodreads)

3. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
This is one of those books that most people (meaning the threads I read on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) recommend to first readers of romance. Dudes in our readership, the Smart Bitches even had a math professor read and review these books, and he even liked it! So its not only the womens who like romance. Trivia! There have been a few men who have written romance under a woman's name. Anyway, I loved both of the main characters, both strong in their own way.
(Add on Goodreads)

4. The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne
This one was my first review here at TBTB. Oh the days. Let me summarize. This is a spy romance. The spy story is super interesting and because the whole plot isn't a "big misunderstanding" or some other relationship centric thing it may be an easier book to get into over some other romances for a newbie.
(Add on Goodreads)

5. Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
This was the first romance novel that I fell in love with. I honestly don't know how, at the age of like 13, I plowed through this book. It has it all. Marriage from jail, trans-Atlantic boat trips, pirates, life on an island. It's an older romance, so it may not be as... modern as some of the newer ones. And to be honest I have not read it in years, but it holds a place in my heart. I felt like at least one place on my list should be one of the pioneers.
(Add on Goodreads)

6. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
This is the first book in a series about the Mackenzie family. THis one hilights the youngest son whom, though it is never stated I dont think, has a form of autism or something like that. Since this takes place in the 1800s, it is not surprising I dont know which. Regardless, his character and the romance he has with Beth is very believable and a wonderful story.
(Add on Goodreads)

7. Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros
Teresa Medeiros has written romance across the board. There was contemporary with a hint of magic, historical with a hint of paranormal, and even scottish highlanders. This one is not so out there and takes place mostly the house of a blind ex-soldier. I love the way she writes and this one is one of my favorites.
(Add on Goodreads)

8. Soulless by Gail Carriger
I don't know if I would technically classify this as a romance novel. It's more of a fantasy series... but what a good way to get into a new genre! It's a bridge of sorts. This steampunk novel takes place in alternate history Britain and is chock full of paranormal and mystery.
(Add on Goodreads)

9. The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
This is the third in Elizabeth Hoyt's prince trilogy. I think it would be better read as a series (but then again I MUST read things in order), but this book was my favorite. This may not be the best one to start with if you are squeamish toward sex scenes, but the story was wonderful. I am actually due for a reread!
(Add on Goodreads)

I am going to cheat a little on number 10 as it really isn't a romance novel, but a book about romance novels.

10. Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendel and Candy Tan
This is the guide to romance novels written by those aforementioned Smart Bitches. Why do we love them? What are the rule to romance novels? What are the loved and not so loved cliches? If you are interested in the genre but not quite ready to dive in, this is your book.
(Add on Goodreads)

So that is my list! I am SOOO looking forward to pursuing the list this week. I hope to find some really cool new books to read! Happy Reading!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Blog Tour: At the Mercy of the Queen + giveaway

At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Clinard Barnhill
Reviewed as a part of Historical Fiction Book Tours
Anne Barnhill's Website: http://www.anneclinardbarnhill.com/
Twitter Event Hashtag: #MeryOfTheQueenVirtualTour

About a year ago on my personal blog, I pondered a scenario that most Tudor-fanatics have come across. We are constantly inindated with books about either Henry VIII or his six wives - and that's it. Where are all of the other people? The families, servants, and friends were there and can certainly offer up a fresh new viewpoint to the well-known stories surrounding Henry and his queens. At the Mercy of the Queen does a great job of this, re-hashing the frequently told story of Anne Boleyn from another perspective.

Margaret Shelton, also called Madge, is sent in 1533 at the age of 15 to become a lady-in-waiting to her cousin, Anne Boleyn. Since they are family, Madge quickly becomes one of Anne's favorites and a close confidante. Madge is historically famous for being thought to be the cousin that Anne Boleyn offered to Henry VIII as a new mistress - a mistress that Anne would have under her control and grasp. In the book, this is a major struggle for Madge. On the one hand, she wants to please her queen, who is quickly losing Henry's favor, by singing her praises to the king. Yet on the other hand,  Madge is in love with Arthur, Charles Brandon's bastard son. I personally could not ever imagine being in this scenario and willingly putting up with Anne's schemes. Just as a side note, I kept picturing Henry as the one portrayed in show The Tudors - we must realize that the real Henry was a large, gluttonous man with a festering leg wound. Not even close to Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. This was another factor in Madge's reluctance.

Even though this was Madge's book and story, I still feel as if Anne Boleyn was the main star. All of the decisions, outcomes and storylines revolved around her. I suppose it is hard to write a story about a minor player in the Tudor-era without having the notariety of someone such as Anne Boleyn play a large part in it. Madge's thoughts and personality were still intigrated very well; it still fit the bill as a refreshing look at Anne Boleyn's story through someone else's eyes. The book overall was well written and interesting - I finished the book in one day, I couldn't put it down! At the Mercy of the Queen also made me look at several people very differently, Henry Norris and Jane Seymour in particular. In this book, neither are the kind, easy-going characters we are used to.

Of course, I highly reccommend this book to other Tudor-lovers, but I also know that general historical fiction readers will enjoy it as well. As this is her first novel, I am excited to see what else Anne Clinard Barnhilll will write about!

As I will be moving in a few months and am looking to downsize my book collection, I am giving away my copy of At the Mercy of the Queen to one of you! Just fill out a simple form here to enter.
-Open to US residents only
-You have until January 23 to enter!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Daisy's Review of The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Title/Author: The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
Publisher/Date published: Sourcebooks Landmark, October 4th 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "When Eva's film star sister Katrina dies, she leaves California and returns to Cornwall, where they spent their childhood summers, to scatter Katrina's ashes and in doing so return her to the place where she belongs. But Eva must also confront the ghosts from her own past, as well as those from a time long before her own. For the house where she so often stayed as a child is home not only to her old friends the Halletts, but also to the people who had lived there in the eighteenth century. When Eva finally accepts that she is able to slip between centuries and see and talk to the inhabitants from hundreds of years ago, she soon finds herself falling for Daniel Butler, a man who lived - and died - long before she herself was born. Eva begins to question her place in the present, and in laying her sister to rest, comes to realise that she too must decide where she really belongs, choosing between the life she knows and the past she feels so drawn towards."

This book went BEYOND my expectations! Seriously, on starting it, I thought I would enjoy this book. Instead, I ended up LOVING it! It was so amazing, so prepare for a gushing review :)

This is a time travel story and this makes it a historical romance mixed with a contemporary romance novel and I really enjoyed this part of it! I loved how there's such an emphasis on the importance of the house, to the point it almost felt like a character itself. I also loved that Eva had such a connection to it from her childhood!

Eva as a main character is wonderful! I'm all about the strong family bonds, mostly with close family (parents, siblings) and Eva genuinely loved her sister very much. Her sister was a famous actress and I didn't sensed only a little jealousy because of this, which I can totally understand. She is sensitive and strong and I loved how this balanced out for her.

And I loved the guy! Daniel is SO amazing! If I was transported back in time and met him, I would totally fall for him! Because really, who in their right mind wouldn't? He's understanding and generous, not to mention HANDSOME and charming! *sigh* I loved the chemistry between them and I was just going AAAH! KISS ALREADY! So yeah, good romance :)

I also loved some of the other characters, which is always a huge bonus! And I love how everytime tied together in the end and how I kept thinking 'OH, so THAT's why that detail was mentioned before!' I love it when that happens and seriously!

This story left me feeling a mix of happy and sad at the ending, happy because the ending was SO FREAKING GOOD and sad because it ended. I didn't want it to stop yet and this for me is the sign of a good book!

My rating: 5+ stars

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tahleen reviews: "Sweetly" by Jackson Pearce

Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 2011

Rating: 4 stars

In a modern telling of Hansel and Gretel, Jackson Pearce brings us to Live Oak, South Carolina, where Ansel and his little sister Gretchen, ages 19 and 18 respectively, run out of gas on a cross-country road trip after being kicked out of their home by their stepmother. Gretchen, still scarred from her twin sister being snatched by what she remembers as a witch one fateful day in the woods, is very withdrawn yet desperately wants to stand out so she doesn't disappear too. Ansel has always been her rock. Things look like they might be changing for the better when they find a temporary home with Sophia Kelly, the young woman who owns the local chocolatier. Yet there are secrets in these woods, and Sophia isn't telling them everything. What seems like paradise starts to look more and more like the woods Gretchen left behind.

In her second fairy tale book, Pearce has once again taken an age-old tale and brought it to the modern day. I love fairy tale retellings, but I was a little disappointed with Pearce's Sisters Red. But here, I think Pearce has improved as a writer. I liked the characters much more, and the language she uses for her characters is pitch-perfect.

I was intrigued by the mystery, and Pearce unraveled it at just the right pace. I was never too far ahead of the characters (I hate it when I can figure it out too soon), and I really like how she tied her two novels together. And man, did she bring on the action. My favorite part of Sisters Red was the fighting, and I was glad to see it return.

Oh, also? Delicious candy. I wanted chocolate pretty much the entire time I was reading this.

One thing I couldn't stand, though, was how often Pearce used certain words. The most memorable one was the word "tease." I felt like everything anyone said to anyone was followed by "I teased" or "she teased." It got so bad that I started rolling my eyes when I came across it—it was just aggravating. But I guess if that's my biggest complaint, that's not so bad.

I'm looking forward to the third novel, a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" titled Fathomless, later this year. There were hints about part of the plot in Sweetly, and I'm eager to see how the series will continue and for the introduction of new characters.

Disclosure: I got this book from the library.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top Ten Authors Paula Wishes Would Write Another Book

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.

Check out future Top Ten Tuesday topics, including some new one's listed for February over here at the Top Ten Tuesday page!

Top Ten Authors I Wish Would Write Another Book

1. Margaret Atwood- I don't know if she counts because I think she's writing the 3rd book in the MaddAddam trilogy right now. But I am just really anxiously awaiting the chance to read it. So... I wish it would hurry up and be all done!

2. Oscar Wilde- I have read the majority of his works. And as much as I love his plays and short stories (and that is coming from someone who doesn't often read short stories) I would LOVE another novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray is my favorite and I wish I could have another.

3.Gabriel Garcia Marquez- He's said a few times that he is "finished with writing" and yet there are rumors that he has one or two finished novels waiting for publishing. Do want!

4. JK Rowling- She has stated that she is working on a new children's book but it's going slow because she's focusing on family right now. She has also hinted that books she releases now will be under a pseudonym, so we may not even know that it's her that has released it.

5. Phillip Pullman- I don't know if he counts either because he recently (well 2010) released a new book called The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. BUT I want him to release another book in His Dark Materials. Even though it's a trilogy and the story is completely over. I actually just want more Iorek Byrnison in my life.

6. J.M. Barrie- Could you just imagine how much more imaginative the world could have been if the writer of Peter Pan had written another novel?

7. Neil Gaiman - I know he's been a busy man recently but my hands are getting itchy to hold a new book of his. Thankfully he recently announced that he is starting the writing process again. Yessssss.

8. Charles Yu- How to Live Safely in A Science Fictional Universe was probably one of my favorite books last year. He has a collection of short stories I need to check out, but I await a second novel with high hopes!

9. Diane Setterfield - I loved The Thirteenth Tale and I hope there is a second novel coming soon. There is no hints of anything on any sites I've found.

10. John Green- Okay so I know this one doesn't count since his new book is getting released today (and I will be picking up my copy!) but can we all just get a giant YAY!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Paula reviews The Demi-Monde

Book: The Demi-Monde by Rod Rees
Publisher: HarperCollins 2011
How I got it: Received an ARC copy

I got this book a few weeks ago and I just finished it the other day. I wont blame it being a slow read on the book completely - there were holidays going on and I had life and work distracting me. Sadly with life being frantic, every time I looked at the book sitting on my bedside table, I sighed. Anyway- on to the review.

The Demi-Monde: Winter is hard to classify genre wise. I'm not sure if it should be considered Cyberpunk or Steampunk, although it is certainly dystopian.
The premise of the novel is that in the Real World, the military has created a computer simulation to help prepare soldiers for war. Once you're hooked up you are completely immersed (think similar to the Matrix). The world you are sent to in the simulation is the Demi-Monde, which is a world filled with all of history's baddies, and so it constantly on the brink of war. However, one of these baddies has retained some of his old consciousness and wants to get out - so he steals the President's daughter and holds her hostage in the Demi-Monde. So the government finds Ella and promises her a lot of money in order to enter the Demi-Monde to save the President's daughter.

I thought the over all concept of the novel was pretty cool. I love history, so the idea of bringing a lot of history's evil psychopaths together was highly entertaining for me. And what you get is a world filled with a lot of hatred, persecution and oppression. And you have a lot of revolutionaries trying to fight the system who become just as crazed as they tyrants they are against (i.e. the character Trixie Dashwood)

I enjoyed the main character Ella, she is thrown into this world with no briefing what-so-ever and just runs with it. She has a lot going against her in this world: A. being a "shade" (being black) and B. being a woman. But she is unstoppable (mainly because she wants to get out of this awful place) and it's really fun to see what plans she comes up with to try and save Norma.

The only thing I found irksome in the novel was the lack of established time period. The military says that they stopped the technology at around 1890, so you have a steampunk aspect to the book, but then you have sections of the world that seem to exist in the 1920s and others that seem stuck in the Tudor era. I understand that since Rees was throwing characters from all over the time spectrum together things like that might happen, but it was just really hard to imagine what people were wearing and how they should be behaving. That might have been one of the reasons it took so long to read, because his world building wasn't quite complete.

I am looking forward to the next one and hopefully little quirks that didn't quite work in this one will have been worked out. Overall: 3.5 stars

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Daisy's Review of Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Title/Author: Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand
Publisher/Date published: HarperTeen, January 17th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose — the task she was put on earth to accomplish — is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning."

**WARNING: spoilers for Unearthly are very much possible!**

Let me give a hooray for the first 2012 release I have read! I totally went off-schedule for this one because I'd been reading some 'meh' books and decided I needed to get out of my reading slump. And I'm so glad I made the time to read this already!!

As you may know, I LOVED Unearthly! I gushed about it in my review of Unearthly and I think it will make my favourites of 2011 list. It was THAT good. So I was really excited to read more about Clara and Tucker and everyone.

Other bloggers who already read this told me there wasn't a lot of Tucker in this one and I'm kind of glad I knew beforehand, because I love Tucker and would have been very disappointed otherwise. So be warned!

In Unearthly there was a sense of hope and excitement about the upcoming moment for Clara to face her purpose, this one is a lot darker and has more sorrow in it. And I FELT the sadness, I hate it when a story is all 'sad things are happening, be sad', this one made me feel it without seeming like I got pushed into it. If you get what I mean. I'm not sure I'm being coherent about this...

Anyway, I think Clara very much grew stronger in this one and while I'm thinking book 3 will give us some real action, this didn't feel as a filler. I'm glad we got to know more about the whole angel-lore and got to meet Clara's father, cause I'd been wondering about him.

The only thing I didn't like was that there's a definite love triangle going on here and while it is well done, I feel like I'm rooting for the underdog. And while I do get what's happening and how things could end up like this, it's got me feeling sad and a bit brokenhearted. I am however glad that Clara feels the same way. She's not really fine with the triangle either and this makes me like her even more.

I warmed up to Christian as we got to know him more, I liked him in Unearthly and in this one discovered he has some really nice qualities and I'm not talking about his hotness, even though that never hurt anyone ;)

And yes, I'm going to say it: TEAM TUCKER! But mostly team Clara! Because I love her and am looking forward to the untitled third book in this series!

My rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top Ten Books We Are Excited To Read in 2012

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.

Check out future Top Ten Tuesday topics, including some new one's listed for February over here at the Top Ten Tuesday page!

Happy 2012 everyone! I hope everyone is ready for 2012, whether your 2011 was good or bad. This year I wish unto you, dear readers, health, happiness, adventure and any umph you need to get through your TBR pile!

This week the reviewers here at The Broke and the Bookish collaborated to give you the book we are most excited to read! So without further ado...

Top Ten Books I'm Excited To Read in 2012

1. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson - Amy & Roger's Epic Detour was one of my favorite books of 2010. I am so excited for Matson's second book to be released. I'm curious about the format of the book...will it have a scrapbook feel like Amy & Roger? Or follow a more tradition book layout? Needless to say, I just want to read it! (Jen's Pick)

2. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Normally I dont get too into YA books because I am usually disappointed (yes I do realize this a sweeping generalization). I found this book on Goodreads a bit ago, immediately added it to my TBR shelf and told some friends about it. It looks like it is going to be a new twist on the greek myth of Hades/Persephone. I don't think it claims to be this, but reading the description, it sure sounds close. Regardless, I am excited to read it! (Julia's Pick)

3. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
I absolutely love both Anna and Lola, and can't wait to read more from Stephanie Perkins! She has got to be my favorite author, and her writing is amazing, not to mention she helped me discover that I love contemporary romance! (Jana's pick)

4. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Daisy Says- Delirium was one of my favourite books of 2011 and that ending left me needing the sequel right away! Cliffhanger much? I am beyond excited it's coming out soon and will be pre-ordering this book! The wait has been KILLING me! Kelly says--
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver - the sequel to Delirium, one of the BEST YA books I read in 2011! We were left with such a cliffhanger, I need to know what happens NOW. (Daisy & Kelly's pick)

5. Fever (Chemical Garden) by Lauren DeStefano: I am kind of cheating because I've already read it but I AM SO EXCITED TO HAVE A HARD COPY VERSION OF THIS AND READ IT AGAIN! Can you tell I'm excited? You can read my review of Fever on my own personal book blog and if you haven't read Wither yet...I recommend you get on this so that you can get excited about Fever!! (Jamie's pick)

6. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen: A twist on the Robin Hood story..heck yes I'm excited! (Jamie's pick)

7. Insurgent (Divergent Trilogy) by Veronica Roth: Divergent was so refreshing the sea of sameness that teen dystopian literature has become. I'm very excited about the continuation of this story in Insurgent, due to be published on May 1—I can't wait to see where the characters will go and how the conflicts presented in the first book will be resolved, or if they will be resolved right away. (Tahleen's pick)

8. Touch of Power (Healer) by Maria V. Snyder - This one came out in late December 2011 so technically it's not a 2012 book but a good one to be excited about nonetheless. (Kimberly's pick)

9. Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane) by Elizabeth Hoyt: The fourth book in the Maiden Lane series! I reviewed the first one here a really long time ago (I liked it), and just read the third book recently. The lead in to Thief of Shadows is just ... urgh!! I need this now! (Julia's pick)

10. The Dressmaker: A Novel by Kate Alcott:  It's a historical fiction book that takes place on the Titanic and after the ship sinks.  I've always been interested in the Titanic and this book sounds really good! (Jen's pick)

What books are YOU looking forward to?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Julia Reviews Gunn's Golden Rules by Tim Gunn

Title/Author:Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work by Tim Gunn
Publisher/Year Published: September 2010 by Simon Spotlight Entertainment
How I got this book: From my local library
Why I read this book: I love Tim Gunn from project runway and I liked his first book. I thought I would give this a try.
Rating: 5 stars

Tim Gunn. Tim Gunn is awesome. There. It just had to be said. He is probably the sole reason I started watching Project Runway during college (well that and Bravo's damn Saturday marathons). So it begs to reason that if Tim Gunn is awesome, his book would be so as well.

Yup! That certainly holds true in this case.

Gunn's Golden Rules is a nice little book filled with anectodes from Tim Gunn's life. And wow has he led an interesting life! They are all tied together throughout the chapter headings, each represening a rule Mr. Gunn lives his life by.

Though I don't know too much of the fashion world, each story he had to share about it was really interesting. Stories about horrid spoiled children to horrid spoiled fashion people are scattered throughout these pages. Sprinkled in are stories from Mr. Gunn's personal life, all of which are equally as entertaining!

Though his first book was more of a How To, the title is a little deceiving as this is more of a memoir bound by the thread of rules. I really liked it regardless of it being different than what I thought it would be.

I would recommend this book to people who like Tim Gunn, fashion, or just interesting memoirs. If that is not you then maybe you should pass, though it was a relatively quick read.

I am giving it five stars. It was entertaining and something I think I learned something from! So give it a shot. If anything you will leave knowing more about the workings of the fashion world, living in NYC and, oh yes, Tim Gunn :)

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