Sunday, July 21, 2013

High Summer Read-a-Thon...Starting Line #HSreadathon

I have been looking forward to this for a bit now and I have a number of books that I plan on reading during this week.  Here is my list:

• Wives & Daughters
• The Sandcastle Girls
• The Light Between Oceans
• The Lady of the Rivers
• The Ocean at the end of the Lane

I don't know how many I will get done, but I hope to at least get a couple of them done.

There are a series of chats taking place during the week on Twitter using the hashtag #HSreadathon.  Here is the Twitter chat schedule:

• Wednesday from 7-8 pm CST
• Friday from 9-10 pm CST
• Saturday from 9-10 pm CST
• Sunday from 1-2 pm CST

If you wish to sign up, you can sign up here and post your starting line post here.  Remember this is supposed to be fun, so don't stress out if you can't read for day or two and read when you can.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading (July 22)

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) Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (review
2) The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau (review)
3) The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy (review)
4) The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (review

Books I am planning on reading this week:
• Wives & Daughters
• The Sandcastle Girls
• The Light Between Oceans
• The Lady of the Rivers
• The Ocean at the the end of the Lane

What's next:
• Seduction (heard some good things about this book)
• The Kingmaker's Daughter (have the fifth book on hold; apparently there is a sixth book in the series coming out in 2014)
* these two are dependent on what I get done this coming week  

Mailbox Monday - July 22

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their homes during the past week. Mailbox Monday, for July, is being hosted by Book Obsessed.

Since my last post, I haven't bought a lot of books, but I have gotten a few books during that time, of which I only purchased one:

 The Thorn Birds was the only one I purchased with The Light Between Oceans purchased by my mom and Flight Behavior being a win from Armchair BEA.  Happy reading

July Meme : Question # 12 #ccmeme

This month, The Classics Club asks:

What classic book has changed your view on life, social mores, political views, or religion?

 I have read a lot of classics in the last 33 or so years and to find one that changed my view on life, etc. is a bit daunting. But if I had to choose one book that changed my views on something it would probably have to be A Tale of Two Cities.   While it didn't really change my view on life, etc., it did change my view on the French Revolution, in that I was able to realize that my own view of the French Revolution was totally distorted.    What resulted was that through a variety of sources, I was able to fully realize that the French Revolution wasn't exactly what I thought it was

Sunday Salon - Right Now

Listening to...  podcasts; trying to catch up, but it seems as soon as I am able to catch up, I fall behind, but slowly but surely I will get them under control.

Eating... Just ate some breakfast and am thinking about what to pack for a few hours at the pool.

Watching... A bit of everything.  At the moment I am watching a Blue Jays game.  I have been watching Season 5 of House; love the show.  I have been watching Big Brother 15 after the Aaryn stuff and its amazing how a group of people can have such antiquated views.

Reading... Reading a bunch of stuff.  I got a bunch of reading done the other week, but for some reason the reading keeps piling up.

Making... Nothing really; not the DIY type of person. And I really haven't gotten any sort of baking done, especially at this time of year.

Planning... What? Nothing at the moment; am on summer time for the next month or so.

Feeling... A tad groggy.  Didn't get to sleep due to some nasty bits on my heel and in between my toes.

Loving... that I can work on my tan for the next bit, depending on the weather.

Wanting... to go to sleep at a decent time and therefore get up at a decent time.  Guess I shouldn't force it and it will come.

Thinking... that I need to get to the pool as soon as possible or I won't get a chair

Looking forward to... At this point, I don't really know.  Most of the stuff that I wanted to do this summer has pretty much been completed. But if I had to say something, getting more books completed, especially those that were for read-a-longs.

1)  Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (review)
2) The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau (review)
3) The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy (review)
4) The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (review)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka

Title: The Buddha in the Attic
Author: Julie Otsuka
Pages: 144
Published: 2011
Challenges: Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Julie Otsuka’s long-awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago.

In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the picture brides’ extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I didn't know what to think of this book as I haven't read her first book, When the Emperor Was Divine, nor did I know what to expect.  The only thing I knew was that one of the podcasters on Bookrageous really likes the book and because of the mention on an episode I listened to recently, I had to read it. And while it seemed to be have been either a hit or a miss with readers on Goodreads, I quite enjoyed it.  I not only liked the fact that it was a quick read, but liked that it was something that gives readers a reason to think about what happened to Japanese-Americans (and Japanese-Canadians as well) during World War II without the intent of being thought provoking.  In other words, it was subtle in how it gets you thinking about things.  I also liked how the language was simple on the surface, but it wasn't simple in its meanings.

Bottom line:  It was a beautiful piece of fiction that didn't require a lot words to get its point across.  I would recommend it to readers that like fiction that is short but also packs a punch.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2013: 8860

The Baker's Daughter - Sarah McCoy

Title: The Baker's Daughter
Author: Sarah McCoy
Pages: 304
Published: 2013
Challenges: Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: In 1945, Elsie Schmidt is a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she is for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.

Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines are often blurred.

Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.

Thoughts: I had heard good things about this book from various book podcasts, in particular Books on the Nightstand, and thought I would give it a chance.  I had gotten the book earlier, but hadn't gotten around to reading it and after reading it, I don't know why I didn't read it the first time around.  I really quite enjoyed the book, particularly the sections that involved Elsie back in Germany and also how the author used the traditional narrative but also managed to keep us in the past and the present.  It was a book that I had a hard time putting down and couldn't stop thinking about it when I didn't have the book in my hands.  The narrative was pretty strong and really seemed to connect things in the past with what was going on in the present era.

Bottom line: It was very strong book and can see why people have enjoyed this book.  I am definitely looking forward to what Ms. McCoy has in store with her next novel and would recommend the book to those that enjoy a bit of time travel in their historical novels.  Highly recommend.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2013: 8716

The Chalice - Nancy Bilyeau

Title: The Chalice
Author: Nancy Bilyeau
Pages: 496
Published: 2013
Challenges: Historical Fiction, Chunkster
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: The Chalice' is a historical thriller told from the point of view of a young woman caught in the crosswinds of time: She has pledged to become a Dominican nun in an England ruled by Henry VIII, who has ruthlessly smashed his country's allegiance to Rome. By 1538, the bloody power struggles between crown and cross threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last. The life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies. As she struggles to forge a life for herself in a country that rejects her faith, she must also decide if her future should be shared with a man--and if so, which of the two men who love her should be chosen.

Thoughts: I felt that it took awhile for the story to get going, but once I was able to get into the rhythm of the story, I was able to get into the story.  It was a nice follow-up to The Crow and it made me wanting to see if there will be a follow-up to this book, as I am curious as to what happens to the various characters.  I liked the intrigue that surrounded the story.

Bottom line: Overall, it was a pretty good book and am looking forward to see if she writes a sequel to this particular book.  While it is good as a stand-alone, it is useful to read The Crown beforehand to get a sense of not only the characters but of the story line.  I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction and those that enjoyed the first book.

Rating: 4/5

Pages for 2013: 8412

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple

Title: Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Pages: 330
Published: 2012
Challenges: Outdo Yourself
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Humor
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world. (via

Thoughts:  I had more expectations in regards to the book, but they fell a bit a short despite the fact that by the end of the book I was actually enjoying it.  I was expecting that I would have a similar reaction to the book as some may have had, but it felt a bit somber and a bit superficial.  There almost was almost a sense that there was a sadness behind Bernadette; it was almost as though she was running from something that happened in L.A.  It felt like she was compensating for something by putting all her energies into bringing up Bee and as though she was being something that she probably wasn't.

Bottom line: I have mixed thoughts about this book, in that it took me awhile to get into the book and once I was able to get into the book, I couldn't put it down (part of it was that I had to return the book to the library).  I honestly don't know who I could recommend the book to because not only was it a book that I struggled in reading, its also a book that I read a few weeks ago and somehow I forgot my exact thoughts.  But I think if you like books that are written in a non-conventional manner and like books that have a twist of humor to them, I think you would enjoy this read.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pages for 2013: 7916

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mini Bloggiesta

This is my first Mini Bloggiesta and I am looking forward to it.  I have a number of things that need to get done that I have held off on doing for the past few weeks.  Here is my list:

write four book reviews.  I have thoughts down on paper but haven't transferred them to my blog as of yet.
• my starting post for the High Summer Readathon (just needed to sign-up; starting post goes up tomorrow)
• my July post for The Classics Club.  I have been dragging my heals on this one for a few weeks and I need to get it written and posted
• go through my book reviews from this past year and tag them properly and to also get them linked up into my book review tab
• write my Sunday Salon post and not apologize for not writing for awhile. 

And I hoping to do this while thinking of hanging in the sunshine and the pool at the resort I am staying at.
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