Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge

I did this one last year and had some minor success with it.

Here are the basic rules:

The Rules:
  • Challenge will run January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013. Participants can join anytime throughout the challenge.
  • Create an intro post, linking back to this post. 
  • Sign up with the Linky below. Please link to your challenge intro post, not your blog home page. 
  • Chose your own books from the list. You can decide to read books only on the Top 25 list or from the entire recommendation list. You do not have to make a list of books before the challenge begins.
  • All forms of books acceptable (audiobooks, eBooks, etc.)
  • Rereads do not count towards the completion of the challenge. The challenge is about discovering books that are new to you.
  • You don't need a blog to participate.
  • Reviews, while always appreciated, are not mandatory.

Here are the ones that I am going to attempt to read:
• The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
• Divergent by Veronica Roth
• Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
• Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
• A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harknes
• The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
• The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer
• The Snow Child be by Eowyn Ivey
• North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I am aiming for Level II

Challenge Addicts 2013

Hi, my name is Melissa and I'm a Reading Challenge Addict.

Here are the challenges that I am participating in this coming year:

Back to the Classics
Book Blogger Recommendation
Chunkster Challenge
Ebook Challenge
Embarrassment of Riches Challenge 
Foodies Read Challenge
Historical Fiction Challenge
The Off the Wall Challenge
Outdo Yourself Challenge
TBR Pile Challenge
Tea & Books Reading Challenge
War Through the Generations Challenge

Clearly I am doing the In-Flight Challenge.

Off The Shelf Challenge 2013

BA’s 2013 Off the Shelf Reading Challenge

About: The Off the Shelf Reading Challenge is probably the most popular challenge there is on BA. The goal? To read books on your shelves that have gone unread for far too long. Selecting books from the year before (in this case, 2012 and before), read as many of the unread ones as you can. It’s up to you if you want to keep them or give them away afterwards, the main goal is to turn those unread books into read ones.

The Finer Deets

  • The Main Rule: Do not include books acquired during 2013, it defeats the purpose, read those books from before 2013 started.
  • Running dates for all 2013 challenges: 1st of January – 31st of December 2013
  • Sign-Ups are accepted until the 16th of December 2013.
  • Formats: All BA Challenges are eBook, audio, short story, and graphic novel friendly.
  • Crossovers: You’re welcome to crossover with BA’s challenges. Include as many books across all the challenges as you can, I always say.

How To Sign-Up and Join In

  1. Choose Your Level: Choose a challenge level listed below.
  2. Sign Up Post: Create a post on your blog, in a group, or on a forum (where possible) to let others see what you’re aiming for (a predefined list of books is optional).
  3. Grab The Badge: Download or grab the badge and place it in your sign up post. Then link back toBA's Off the Shelf Reading Challenge. Grab me!Bookish Ardour.
  4. Link Up: Grab the direct URL to your sign up post, not your blog, click the Mr Linky graphic and enter your link.
  5. Blogless? Don’t worry, you can sign up with your social network profile (YouTube, Twitter, GoodReads, Shelfari included), just make sure you link to your review list, shelf, tweet, or category. If you don’t have any of those feel free to comment.
  6. Your Reviews: Reviewing is optional! But if you do review it would be great for you to share them by submitting them on thereview page.
  7. Finished: When you’re done it’s completion post time and you can share these on the completion/wrap-up page.

Challenge Levels

  1. Tempted– Choose 5 books to read
  2. Trying – Choose 15 books to read
  3. Making A Dint – Choose 30 books to read
  4. On A Roll – Choose 50 books to read
  5. Flying Off – Choose 75 books to read
  6. Hoarder – Choose between 76-135 books to read
  7. Buried – Choose between 136-200 books to read
Since I am doing this in conjunction with a couple of other similar challenges, I am going to aim for the Trying level.

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
6. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
7. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
8. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
9. The Book Thief by Martin Zusak

E-book Reading Challenge 2013

This is a first for me.  I could have signed up for this one last year, but I didn't know how much I would love reading on my e-readers (yes, I have multiple e-reading devices).  And so this one seemed natural for me to join this year.

Its pretty simple: all you need to do is to read on a device like your Kobo, Kindle, computer, or whatever other e-device you use for reading (and I am assuming this means your smartphone and/or tablet).  Here are the guidelines:

  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2013 – Dec 31, 2013.
  2. Anyone can join, you don’t need to be a blogger. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to sign-up in the comments. You can post reviews to any book site (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc).
  3. Any genre or length of book counts, as long as it is in ebook format.
  4. You can plan your books in advance or as you read them.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2013, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  1. Floppy disk – 5 ebooks
  2. CD – 10 ebooks
  3. DVD – 25 ebooks
  4. Memory stick – 50 ebooks
  5. Hard drive – 75 ebooks
  6. Server – 100 ebooks
  7. Human brain – 150 ebooks
At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews for that month. The linky will remain open for the remainder of the year, so if you forget, feel free go back and add them when you remember.

There will be a giveaway at the end of the year for eveyone who achieves their goal level (or higher).

I am going to aim for Floppy Disk

Chunkster Challenge 2013

All things being said, I did complete this one last year and can hardly believe it (guess I really do like chunksters).  And yes,  I am going to be doing this one again this year as well.
Here are the details for the challenge:

Definition of a chunkster:
A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature, whether non-fiction or fiction. A chunkster should be a challenge.

If you read books in large print, your books will need to be 525 pages or more. The average large type book is 10-15% larger or more so it’s a fair estimate.

The rules:
  • No audio books. (There are exceptions to this rule.)
  • No e-books allowed. This was discussed in much detail in the 2011 challenge. The short version: a chunkster isn’t a challenge if you’re reading it on an e-reader. (There are exceptions to this rule.)
  • Essay, poetry, and short story collections will be allowed. Collections have to be read in their entirety to count. If you’ve needed a reason to finally pick up your copy of The Collected Works Of ____ now is the time.
  • Books may crossover with other challenges.
  • Anyone may join. (If you don’t have a blog, just leave a comment on this post with your challenge level and your progress throughout the challenge.) 
  • You don’t need to list your books ahead of time.
  • Once you’ve picked a level, that’s it. You’re committed to it!
You must pick a level of participation:
  1. The Chubby Chunkster – this option is for the readers who want to dabble in large tomes, but really doesn't want to commit to much more than that. FOUR Chunksters is all you need to finish this challenge.
  2. The Plump Primer - this option is for the slightly heavier reader who wants to commit to SIX Chunksters over the next twelve months. 
  3. Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? - this option is for the reader who can't resist bigger and bigger books and wants to commit to SIX Chunksters from the following categories: 2 books which are between 450 - 550 pages in length2 books which are 551 - 750 pages in length2 books which are GREATER than 750 pages in length (for ideas, please refer to the book suggestions page for some books which fit into these categories).
  4. Mor-book-ly Obese - This is for the truly out of control chunkster. For this level of challenge you must commit to EIGHT or more Chunksters of which three tomes MUST be 750 pages or more. You know you want to.....go on and give in to your cravings.
I am going to aim for The Chubby Chunkster this year. 

1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (720 pages)
2. The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau (496 pages)
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (522 pages)
4. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (837 pages)
5. Emma by Jane Austen (512 pages) 
6. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (640 pages)

2013 Historical Fiction Challenge

This is another challenge that I did manage to complete this past year and with no problem.  And I am doing it again, since I enjoyed it so much.  Here are the details the ladies over at Historical Tapestry have laid out for the coming year:

Each month, a new post dedicated to the HF Challenge will be created. To participate, you only have to follow the rules:

  • everyone can participate, even those who don't have a blog (you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish)
  • add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review)
  • any kind of historical fiction is accepted (HF fantasy, HF young adult,...)
During these following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

20th century reader - 2 books
Victorian reader - 5 books
Renaissance Reader - 10 books
Medieval - 15 books
Ancient History -25+ books

You can tailor the challenge to suit you in whichever way you like!

I am going to aim for Ancient History.

The 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

I know what some of you are thinking, didn't she just sign up for a TBR Pile Challenge?  You might think that with the other one, depending on the order you read the posts, but whatever...

This one is fairly simple to read 12 books off of one's TBR pile during 2013, basically one a month.

Here are the specifics from RoofBeamReader:

Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list for AT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2012 or later (any book published in the year 2011 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile – I WILL be checking publication dates). Caveat: Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile.

Crossovers from other challenges are totally acceptable, as long as you have never read the book before and it was published pre-2012!

*Note – You can read the books on your list in any order; they do not need to be read in the order you have them listed. As you complete a book – review it, and go back to your original list and turn that title into a link to the review - that will keep the comments section here from getting ridiculously cluttered.  

UPDATE:  I’ve decided to make a small change/addition to this year’s challenge.  On the 15th of each month, I’m going to post a “TBR Pile Check-In.”  This will allow participants to link-up their reviews from the past month and get some recognition for their progress.  There will also be small mini-challenges and giveaways to go along with these posts (Such As: Read 6 books by the June Check-in and be entered to win a book of your choice!).  I’m hoping this will help to keep us all on track and make the challenge a bit more engaging/interactive. If it goes well, maybe I’ll keep this format for future years. 

Here are my books that I wish to read:
1. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1855)
2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)
3. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (2010)
4. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (2011)
5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006)
6. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (1996)
7. Water for Elephants by Sara Guerin (2006)
8. The Passage by Justin Cronin (2010)
9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (2005)
10. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (2011)
11. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
12. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997)

1) The Devil Wears Prada by Laura Weisberger (2003)
2) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

Embarrassment of Riches TBR Reading Challenge 2013

Did something like this last year and I enjoyed it.  As I was searching the interwebs, I found this one and this one sounded intriguing.  Here are the details for the challenge:

To be considered a TBR book, you must own it prior to Jan 1, 2013. The book can count toward other challenges, as well. It can be fiction or nonfiction, poetry or play, audiobook–as long as it is a book. This is not a picky challenge–just about reading the riches we already own.

There are five levels and I will be aiming for the bronze level.

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
5. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
6. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Foodies Read 2013

During the course of 2012, I started noticing that I was increasingly attracted to "foodie books".  In fact, I read the 2 within several weeks of each other (Kitchen Counter Cooking School and My Life in France).  But I also managed to sign out a couple of others that I didn't get around to, but still wish to read (Dearie and Yes Chef) during the coming year.  Here are the details for this particular challenge:

Many of us who love to eat also love to read. But we go beyond that. We love to read about food. If that is you, then you are invite to join us in the Foodies Read Challenge for 2013. This is the second year in which we’ll indulge ourselves with good food writing.

If you are new to a food/reading challenge, you may be wondering – what is a “food book”? A food book is a book which is centered around food and/or drinks. That could be a cookbook, a food biography or memoir, a non-fiction book focused around a specific food, wine, chef or restaurant. Also allowed is a fictional story in which food plays a major role.

Here’s how the challenge works:
Decide how many food books you want to read in 2013. Pick one of the reading levels below. Remember, this is a challenge, so try pushing yourself.

Short-Order Cook: 1 to 3 books
Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books
Sous-Chef: 9 to 13 books
Chef de Cuisine: 14 to 18
Cordon-Bleu Chef: More than 19

At this point, I am going to aim for Short-Order Cook, as I really don't know what other "foodie" books I will be attracted to during the coming year.

War Through The Generations Reading Challenge 2013

This is a new challenge for me and since I saw it numerous times throughout the year, I was intrigued and thought I would give it a try.  This year the hosts are doing the American Revolution and here are some of the details:

This year you have options when reading your fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, etc. with the American Revolution as the primary or secondary theme.
Books can take place before, during, or after the war, so long as the conflicts that led to the war or the war itself are important to the story. Books from other challenges count so long as they meet the above criteria.

Dip: Read 1-3 books in any genre with the American Revolution as a primary or secondary theme.
Wade: Read 4-10 books in any genre with the American Revolution as a primary or secondary theme.
Swim: Read 11 or more books in any genre with the American Revolution as a primary or secondary theme.

Additionally, we’ve decided that since there are so many great movies out there about the American Revolution, you can substitute or add a movie or two to your list this year and have it count toward your totals.

I am going for the Dip level, since there isn't exactly a lot of material on the American Revolution available in Canadian libraries.

Outdo Yourself Challenge 2013

This probably the one challenge that I did complete because I know that I did outdo myself by reading 15 over what my stated goal was for the year and due to that, I know that this coming year is a little more daunting than last year.  Before I state where I am aiming towards, here are the details:

Reading Challenge Details:
  • Runs January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013 (books read prior to 1/1/2013 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime. Sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.
  • The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2013 than you did in 2012. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. You can move up a level as often as you’d like but no moving down.
  • Books can be any format (bound, ebook, audio).
  • Novellas that are at least 100 pages in length, as well as full-length novels, will count for this reading challenge.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • Grab the reading challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads or LibraryThing.

     Getting my heart rate up – Read 1–5 more books
     Out of breath – Read 6–10 more books
     Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books
     I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books

Since I am really not wanting to get up to 75 this coming year, which would be the out of breath level, I am going to aim for  the Getting my heart rate up level.

Tea & Books Reading Challenge 2013

I did okay this past year with getting 1 book completed that was on my list.  I am going to be scaling back and not try to do so much this coming year.  Here are the details that are provided:

You may pick both fiction and non fiction books!

Contrary to last year short story collections, anthologies or collected works in one volume are now allowed!

Re-reads will now also be ok (though preferably you should read one of those unread tomes that have been collecting dust on your shelves)!

Last year you had to read 700+ pages but I reduced this to 650+ for 2013 (and no, this is not further negotiable)!

And as a little incentive - books with more than 1.200 pages will count for two books (so theoretically you can read four such super-chunksters to reach the Sencha Connoisseur level)!

Last but not least - no large print editions of a book, please!

You may pick both fiction and non fiction books!

Contrary to last year short story collections, anthologies or collected works in one volume are now allowed!

Re-reads will now also be ok (though preferably you should read one of those unread tomes that have been collecting dust on your shelves)!

Last year you had to read 700+ pages but I reduced this to 650+ for 2013 (and no, this is not further negotiable)!

And as a little incentive - books with more than 1.200 pages will count for two books (so theoretically you can read four such super-chunksters to reach the Sencha Connoisseur level)!

Last but not least - no large print editions of a book, please!

Are you ready? Go ahead and pick your level!

2 Books - Chamomile Lover

4 Books - Berry Tea Devotee

6 Books - Earl Grey Aficionado

8 or more Books - Sencha Connoisseur

I am going to aim for Chamomile Love with these two books:
1) War & Peace
2) Crime and Punishment

Back to the Classics 2013

I was humming and hawing about doing this one, since last year was basically a failure.  Anyways, I am hoping for better results for the coming year (2013).

Here are the details that Sarah has put up on her blog:

  • All books must be read in 2013.  Books started prior to January 1, 2013 are not eligible.  Reviews must be linked by December 31, 2013.
  • E-books and audio books are eligible!  Books can count for other challenges you may be working on.
  • If you do not have a blog, you may link your review from Goodreads or other publicly accessible online format.  
  • Please sign up for the challenge using the linky below BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1, 2013. Please link to your sign-up announcement post (if possible/applicable)
  • You do not have to list your books prior to starting the challenge, but it is more fun that way :)  You can always change your list at any time.  You can read the books in any order (including mixing in the optional categories at any time)
  • You can decide to attempt the optional categories at any point (you can also bow out of the optional categories at any point as well).
  • Please identify the categories you've read in your wrap up post so that I may easily add up your entries for the prize drawing!  

The Required Categories:
  1. A 19th Century Classic
  2. A 20th Century Classic
  3. A Pre-18th or 18th Century Classic
  4. A Classic that relates to the African-American Experience - This can be an African-American author, or a book relating to slavery, civil rights, or African-American culture.
  5. A Classic Adventure
  6. A Classic that prominently features an Animal - This can feature animal characters or animals in the title (real or imagined)
Optional Categories:
    A.  Re-read a Classic
   B.  A Russian Classic
   C.  A Classic Non-Fiction title
   D.  A Classic Children's/Young Adult title
   E.  Classic Short Stories - collection must include at least 3 short stories by the same author, or at 
                                              least 3 stories collected together by genre, time period, etc.
Here are my plans for each of the categories:
1. A 19th Century Classic  North and South (1855)
2. A 20th Century Classic  All Quiet on the Western Front (1929)
3. A Pre-18th or 18th Century Classic Mysteries of the Udolpho (1794)
4. A Classic that relates to the African-American Experience  Uncle Tom's Cabin
5. A Classic Adventure The Count of Monte Cristo
6. A Classic that prominently features an Animal Moby Dick

Optional Categories:
A.  Re-read a Classic  Pride & Prejudice
B.  A Russian Classic War & Peace
C.  Classic Non-fiction  The Prince
D.  Classic Children's/Young Adult title  Gulliver's Travels
E.  Classic Short Stories The Canterbury Tales

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Salon - 10 Favourite books of 2012

Can't believe the end of 2012 is already here and somehow we survived December 21, despite what some people believed.  As most people are doing here today, I giving you a rundown of my ten  favourite reads for this year.  And to say the least, its a bit of everything.

In no particular order here they are:

The Help  by Kathryn Stockett - this was greatly aided by the fact that the movie was out, but gotta say, I will never look at a piece of chocolate cream pie in the same way.

11/22/63 by Stephen King - I had heard a lot of press about the book when it came out and had wanted it for Christmas, but instead got it from the library and still really enjoyed it.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - Like the Stephen King book, I had heard about the book back in 2011 and when I read it this past spring, I couldn't ignore the amazing reviews that it had gotten the previous year.  

Quiet by Susan Cain - I gave this book to my mom for Christmas and fortunately she didn't pick it up at the store, even though she was tempted to do so.  As an introvert myself, I really did identify myself with the various types of people that the author introduces us to.  Excellent read.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley - I had had this book on my TBR pile for a number of years and had been wanting to read it for quite sometime and I wasn't disappointed.  It wasn't my typical read, in that it only took me a few days to complete it and everytime I was reading it, I enjoyed it and wasn't tapping my fingers on my copy wondering when it would end.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Yes I read it because the movie came out and I di dn't want to be left out in the cold.  And I wasn't really disappointed in the book; I loved the descriptions of District 12 and the game itself.

The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes - I am a huge Downton Abbey fan and am eagerly anticipating the new season that is about to start in the United States and Canada (most Canadians get a PBS station or two that allows them to watch Masterpiece Theatre and other PBS productions) and loved the insight that the book provided into the show and into Gosford Park, of which I am also a fan of.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol - I really liked it and thought it was an excellent read from some very dense reads to some more dense reads and would like to read some more graphic novels in the coming year.  I think a read of the Bone series may happen in 2013.

The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot - Was recommended this book through a fellow blogger and I wasn't disappointed with the book and actually took the time to read more about the two queens that were the primary characters in the book and am so glad that I was able to read it.  It was probably one of the best historical fiction books that I have this year.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo - It was one of those books that had been on my TBR list for a number years (actually for almost 20 years) and I am so glad that I was able to read it from cover to cover.  There were times that I was very frustrated with the course of the book and the number of details that Hugo puts into the book (he spends a portion of Volume 5 discussing the sewer system of Paris that existed during the 1830s and a good portion of Volume 2 talking about Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo), but as I reflect on it about a week after completing the book, I realize that those details were important to the overall story.  It will be a book that I will revisit sometime in the future.

For the second time I got over 50 books and for the first time got over 60; 75 might be a goal in the near future.

Hope you all have a relaxing rest of the week with family and friends.

1) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (review)
2) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (review)

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
File Size (Pages): 860 KB (288 pages)
Published: 2010
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Challenges: None
Edition: E-book
Source: Personal

Description: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. (via

Thoughts:  I personally didn't like this as much as the other two books in the series and I personally thought that it was not as strong as the first two.  I think part of the reason was that the first two books had the games as the central thing that happened and I felt that Collins wrote the book just to wrap up the series too quickly and that she didn't really give what the readers got in the first two books.  I also felt that Gabe was sort of shunted to the side and no notion of what happened to him.  True I understand that the story centered on Katniss and Peeta, but really no mention of what happened to Gabe?  The final chapter seemed to be a bit rushed and as though she wanted to just wrap up the story with the final chapter of the book.

Bottom line:  Read this book if you have read the first two in the series, otherwise you are going to be lost as to what is going on.

Rating:  3.5/5

Pages for 2012: 23542

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Les Miserables

Title: Les Miserables
Director: Tom Hooper
Running Time: 152 min.
Released: 2012

Description: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever. (via

Thoughts: Normally I save my blog for things that I read, not for the movies based on books/plays/musicals, but this is a special movie, especially since I had just finished the book just prior to seeing the movie.

I loved the movie and as I write this, I am very seriously considering purchasing the movie when it comes out on DVD (and also Lincoln).  Since I had just finished the book, a lot of the plot in the book was still freshly in my head, so it saved me from having to quickly read a brief summary of the book before going to the movie, although I wish that the woman that was sitting near me had, as she was asking her husband quite loudly to explain the movie and it was quite distracting, and if I had been on my own, I would have moved, like the lady on the other side of this individual, not say that her phone went off during the final scene in the movie (people, if you go to a movie, please turn the ringer off, at the very least; it is distracting to those around you that want to watch the movie; there is a reason that they ask you to turn off your phone's ringer before the movie starts).

Anyways, it was excellent.  And even though I hadn't read at least the first 1/3 of the movie in about a year, the story started to come back to me as the film was being played out.  And of course there were things in the movie that were left out from the book.  And granted that its a 1200+ page book, one can be excused for taking somethings out of the story, especially since it was adapted from the musical, which was adapted from the book, I assume.

One of the best parts was that I recognized most of the cast from various movies and mini-series that I have watched over the years, although it took me a bit of time to recognize Sacha Baron Cohen, who portrayed Thénardier.  And no matter how many roles Amanda Seyfried does, she will always be Lily Kane to me.

Hope you get sometime to watch this movie sometime soon, as I would think its going to win some big awards come award season.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Title: Les Miserables
Author: Victor Hugo
Pages: 1232
Published: 1985 (originally published in 1862)
Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction
Challenges: Back to the Classics, Historical Ficiton
Edition: Paperback
Source: Personal Library

Description: Victor Hugo’s tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty. A compelling and compassionate view of the victims of early nineteenth-century French society, Les Misérables is a novel on an epic scale, moving inexorably from the eve of the battle of Waterloo to the July Revolution of 1830. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: What can I say? It was amazing.  It was one of those books that took your breath away, even though there were moments in the book that I honestly really didn't feel should have been apart of the book, but when reading it, one realizes that it does have to be apart of the book, especially towards the end of the book.  And, yes, I did read the unabridged version of the book.

Bottom line: I would probably recommend this book to those that enjoy reading long books or that enjoy reading books that are of an epic nature.

Rating: 5/5

Pages for 2012: 23254

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Winter Dream - Richard Paul Evans

Title: A Winter Dream
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Pages: 266
Published: 2012
Genre: Christmas
Challenges: Support Your Library, Christmas Spirit
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: The author of the bestselling phenomenon The Christmas Box presents a new holiday novel about family, fate and forgiveness.

Joseph Jacobson is the twelfth of thirteen siblings, all of whom are employed by their father’s successful Colorado advertising company. But underneath the success runs a poisonous undercurrent of jealousy; Joseph is his father’s favorite and the focus of his brothers’ envy and hatred. When the father seems ready to anoint Joseph as his heir, the brothers make their move, forcing Joseph from the company and his Denver home, severing his ties to his parents and ending his relationship with his soon-to-be fianceé. Alone and lonely, Joseph must start a new life. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts:  I read this book a couple of weeks ago and so my thoughts about the book have been somewhat forgotten, but I can tell you that I thought the book was pretty good up until the final few chapters.  The story seemed to be fairly realistic, but it seemed that once I got into the final chapters, it got into the stereotypical way of making sure that a story wrapped up nicely and quickly.  But other than that, I enjoyed it.

Bottom line: If you have read the others books, you will probably enjoy this one as well.  Its a nice light read for those that don't have a lot of time to read, but would like something to read during the Christmas season.

Rating: 3.725/5

Pages for 2012: 22022

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Musing Mondays (Dec.17)

This week, Miz B at Should Be Reading asks:

Is there a particular book that is your nemesis - the book you are determined to one day finish?

If this had been asked a year ago, I would have given you a totally different answer, but I am still determined to finish Les Miserables by the end of this calendar year.

After that, I would suppose it would have to be War & Peace.  I started reading it a couple years ago, but didn't and I keep kicking myself because I didn't finish it and its one that I would really like to finish.  And maybe that will be my goal for next year.

I don't know how much I will be on in the next couple of weeks, but if I have some time, I will answer that weeks question.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Dec. 17)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

What I have reviewed this week:
Nothing; should have something up this week.

What I am planning on reading this week:
• Anna Karenina
• The Hobbit
• Les Miserables

• Mockingjay

• Team of Rivals
• City of Women

• Wishin' and Hopin'

I don't know how much reading I will get done, due to stuff that needs to get done before Friday night, but time will tell.

Mailbox Monday - December 17

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their homes during the past week. Mailbox Monday, for December, is being hosted by Suko's Notebook.

Got only one book in my "mailbox" this week:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sunday Salon - For those wondering...

Some of you are probably wondering why I have finished some books but I haven't written the reviews for those two books.  There are several reasons for that.

The first reason is that I have been quite busy with things in the evenings and those have been my primary focus and by the time I remember it, I am usually some place else and by the time I am home, I have forgotten or I am tired.

The second reason is that I am really trying to get Les Miserables completed by the time Christmas Vacation starts.  And I have also been reading Mockingjay by Susanne Collins.

The third reason is that I have been tired.  I have been reading late for the past couple of weeks and therefore my afternoons turn into a nap session, if I am not busy with something else or my mind is occupied with thoughts running through my head.

I don't know when I will have the reviews for my last two books up or the next two up, but they will be up by the end of this year, if I remember to post them.  And I will try to make sure that I do get them all up by the end of next week.

In other news, at the time of this post I am about 85% of the way through Les Miserables and that I have started Volume 5 - Jean Valjean (and yes I am reading the unabridged version of the book).  I am hoping to get it done early this week.  If you follow me on my personal accounts on either twitter or Facebook, you will know when it happens.

Hope you have a relaxing Sunday :)

12:05 am: Just realized that one of the two books that I had last read did get a review from me.  Oh well.

Virtual Advent Tour 2012 - A little late

I am really sorry for being late, but due to some very late nights reading the last few weeks, I seem to have forgotten things or have nearly forgotten about things.  My brain has become mush and I should have put a reminder in my calendar to remind me.

In any case I wanted to talk about something that is slowly becoming a part of my Christmas.  About a year ago, I was looking for something to do, specifically something that I could volunteer at and it was suggested that I could help out with Help-Portrait, which was being organized locally and had been held in my town the year before.  Thinking it was a good thing to do, I volunteered and I really enjoyed it.

Again this year I helped out with the registration of individuals who were getting their portraits taken.  To explain what Help-Portrait is, it is a community of photographers that come together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to those in need.

We see a lot of individuals and families that come recommended from a variety of organizations that provide services to those in the community and the two years that I have done it, I have come away with a warm feeling in my heart that we have made somebody's year/life just that a little more brighter.

There are lots of ways that people chose to spend the Christmas/Holiday season to make the lives of those who are less fortunate than us, whether it be filling a shoebox for a kid in a part of the world that doesn't have a lot (Samartian's Purse) or we collect change (Salvation Army Kettles) or we help out an individual family (Christmas Bureau).

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas/Holiday season and remember to hug those who you love, even if you don't feel like it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Are You Reading? It's Monday (Dec. 10)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

What I have reviewed this week:
1) The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (review)
2) The Sweetness of the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (review)

What I am planning on reading this week: 
• Anna Karenina
• The Hobbit
• Les Miserables

• Mockingjay
• A Winter Dream
• Team of Rivals
• City of Women
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