Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading (Oct. 28)

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 since the last post:
1) Longbourn by Jo Baker (review

Books I plan on working on this coming week:
• The Count of Monte Cristo
• Northanger Abbey
• War & Peace 

• The Good Earth
(I am planning to finish Northanger Abbey this week)

What's up next: 
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


I am sorry for posting this later than I usually do.  Hope you have a fine evening.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Salon - Right Now 10.27.13


Time... 2:19 pm
Place... In my living room
Listening to... Catching up on podcasts
Eating... Just finishing up some coffee; started breakfast late, which became brunch

Watching... Wednesday's episode of Top Chef and other stuff on my PVR
Reading...I just finished up Longbourn this week and haven't been really reading much this past week due to just being really busy and having to watch a bunch of library DVDs this past week
Making... Was thinking of making cookies this afternoon, but at this point I don't know, as I have a bunch of laundry to do today before work tomorrow.  Maybe this evening instead.

Planning... Nothing really at the moment; planning on spending a lot of time at home reading this coming week

Feeling...  a bit rushed and anxious; I'll probably be fine in a bit

Loving... the fact that it really hasn't rained for the past month

Wanting... to just calm down and feel calm

Thinking... about not getting too far ahead of myself

Looking forward to... Saturday's Canucks game against the Leafs; the most prolific Canucks player is finally getting his number raised to the rafters and even though I am not going to game in person, it is a game that I am looking forward to.
 Reviews:
• Longbourn by Jo Baker (review

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Longbourn - Jo Baker

Title: Longbourn
Author: Jo Baker
Pages: 352
Published: 2013
Challenges: Jane Austen, Historical Fiction
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Public Library

Description: The servants at Longbourn estate--only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen's classic--take centre stage in Jo Baker's lively, cunning new novel. Here are the Bennets as we have never known them: seen through the eyes of those scrubbing the floors, cooking the meals, emptying the chamber pots. Our heroine is Sarah, an orphaned housemaid beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When the militia marches into town, a new footman arrives under mysterious circumstances, and Sarah finds herself the object of the attentions of an ambitious young former slave working at neighboring Netherfield Hall, the carefully choreographed world downstairs at Longbourn threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, up-ended. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: A funny thing happens sometimes when I like a book, I sometimes am unable to express how I feel about a book through words.   But I can say that I really did enjoy reading the book.  Of course there were aspects of the book that I didn't like and felt that certain things didn't really work with the book, at least until I was able to make sense of them.  I suppose the one thing that did work was that Wickham in the book was able to be shown with his true colours and was interesting to see his portrayal through Sarah's eyes, rather than through Lizzie's eyes.   It does offer an interesting perspective on life as a servant in world about 100 years prior to the start of Downton Abbey.

Bottom line: While there are things that I didn't like about this book, I felt that it was a really good complement to Pride & Prejudice and would recommend it to fans of Pride & Prejudice.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.8/5

Pages for 2013: 16, 528

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's On Your Nightstand? (October 22)

It's been a couple of months since I did this, but I have read and reviewed a number of books during that time.  I am sorry for getting this out late, but day just got away on me.

Here are the books that I have read and reviewed since my last post:
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Life and Times of Call the Midwife by Heidi Thomas
• The Dinner by Herman Koch
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
Emma by Jane Austen
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
(remember these are two months worth of reviews)

Here are the books that I am working on this coming month:
• Longbourne
• Northanger Abbey
• The Good Earth
• War & Peace (year-long read)
• The Count of Monte Cristo

See you in about a month, hopefully.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading (Oct. 21)

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 since the last post:
1) Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë (review)
2) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (review)
3) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (review

Books I plan on working on this coming week:
• The Count of Monte Cristo
• Longbourne
• Northanger Abbey
• War & Peace
• The Cuckoo's Nest
• The Good Earth
 (and no I don't intend on completing them all)

 What's up next: 
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Pages: 550
Published: 2007 (first published 2005)
Challenges: OfftheShelf, TBR Pile, Historical Fiction, Book Blogger Recommendation
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Edition: Paperback
Source: Personal Library

Description: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. (via Goodreads)


Thoughts: There are a few times in which I have taken a few days to read a book and this is one of those times when no other book really mattered.  While I did listen to the audio while I read the book, it was no less amazing, in fact I think it added to the enjoyment of the book.  Reading the book while listening to the audio of the book made me feel like I was listening to a piece of poetry that was in prose format.  

I don't really know how to describe how much I enjoyed this book; it was almost like was too good at times and allowed me to feel as though I was really there seeing and experiencing what Liesel was seeing and experiencing.  And as I was getting closer to the end of the book, I could see why other readers have really enjoyed reading this book.  And yes, I understand the point of the dominoes, at least after reading it (and no I am not giving it away) and wonder why the publisher put the dice on the front cover (curious thought don't you think?) instead of maybe some books or maybe an accordion (read the book to understand why)...

Anyways I loved the book and am curious to see how the screenwriter for the film adapted the book and how much of the book is in the film and how they do Death, who is basically heard throughout the book.  Probably will become one of those books that I remember for a long time, even if I don't read it a lot, much like Jacob Have I Loved and Jane Eyre have become to me over the years.

Bottom line: I really liked this book and probably would recommend to those readers that enjoy historical fiction YA books, but I think its also a book that general readers of fiction would also enjoy.  I think that this is a book that probably would appeal to a number of readers and not just one specific type of reader.  Highly Recommended.

Rating: 5/5 (would probably rate it higher, if I was rating books higher)

Pages for 2013: 16,176

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Author: J.K. Rowling
Pages: 766
Published: 2003
Challenges: OfftheShelf
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Edition: Paperback
Source: Personal Library

Description: Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected . . . (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: At one point, I wanted quit reading it, as I felt that Harry was getting too petulant for my liking, but somewhere I remember that being 15 was no easy feat and was probably one of the hardest years I had to go through and gave Harry a bit of slack and understanding.  As for the story, it probably is the darkest book of the series, as it touches upon things that are significant in the final two books of the series.  It also shows how far the Ministry of Magic will go to cover up the fact that He Who Must Not Be Named is back (love the line in the movie when Fudge realizes that he is back; its simple but very effective).

Speaking of the movie, if they were going to include most of the stuff in the book, it would have taken either a very long movie (probably about 3 hours) or at least 2 different movies.  And yes I realize that some people really don't like the fifth movie in the franchise (I saw the movie about 20 times in the summer it came out; I was bored and couldn't find another movie that captured me enough to see it).  

Anyways, the book does a good job in showing the paranoia that was starting to envelope the wizard world and that they would do anything to make sure that bad news didn't leak out.  


Bottom line: It wasn't my favourite book in the Harry Potter series, but it was probably the book in the series that moved the storyline along the most, in that the reality that Voldemort is back is starting to have its true impact.  Interesting themes of censorship, absolute power, etc.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.8/5

Pages for 2013: 15,626

Agnes Grey - Anne Brontë

Title: Agnes Grey
Author: Anne Brontë
Pages (File Size): 110 pages (352 KB)
Published: 2004 (originally published 1847)
Challenges: E-book, The Classics Club
Genre: Classics, Fiction, Literature
Edition: E-book
Source: Personal

Description: When her family becomes impoverished after a disastrous financial speculation, Agnes Grey determines to find work as a governess in order to contribute to their meagre income and assert her independence. But Agnes’s enthusiasm is swiftly extinguished as she struggles first with the unmanageable Bloomfield children and then with the painful disdain of the haughty Murray family; the only kindness she receives comes from Mr Weston, the sober young curate. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: This was my first Anne Brontë book and I came away with lukewarm feelings. I have read other books about governess' and really felt that it was a bit weak and not something that I particularly enjoyed.  I realize that it was her first book, but I felt that it was pushed ahead with publishing due to the popularity of her sister's book, Jane Eyre, one that I have enjoyed over the years and remains a favourite of mine.  

Bottom line: It was okay and maybe it deserves a reread at some point to get a better sense of the book, but at this point I am feeling rather lukewarm about the book.  Its a solid read and there are some places in the book in which the story flows better than others. I would probably recommend to read something by Charlotte Brontë before reading this.  Recommended.

Rating:  3/5

Pages for 2013: 14860

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading (Oct. 14)


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 since the last post:
1) The Thorn Birds by Collen McCollough (review

What I am planning on reading this week:
• The Count of Monte Cristo
• Longbourne
• Northanger Abbey
• War & Peace
• The Cuckoo's Nest
• The Good Earth
 (and no I don't intend on completing them all)

What's up next:
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  

The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough

Title: The Thorn Birds
Author: Colleen McCullough
Pages: 692
Published: 2003 (first published 1977)
Challenges: Classics Club, Historical Fiction, Chunskter Challenge
Genre: Historical Fiction, Classics
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Personal

Description: Colleen McCullough's sweeping saga of dreams, struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian Outback has enthralled readers the world over. This is the chronicle of three generations of Clearys, ranchers carving lives from a beautiful, hard land while contending with the bitterness, frailty, and secrets that penetrate their family. Most of all, it is the story of only daughter Meggie and her lifelong relationship with the haunted priest Father Ralph de Bricassart—an intense joining of two hearts and souls that dangerously oversteps sacred boundaries of ethics and dogma.

A poignant love story, a powerful epic of struggle and sacrifice, a celebration of individuality and spirit, Colleen McCullough's acclaimed masterwork remains a monumental literary achievement—a landmark novel to be cherished and read again and again. (via Goodreads)


Thoughts:  There were times I struggled with the reading of this book and wouldn't pick up the book for times, but once I was able to get into the story, I quite enjoyed it.  Since it has been a few weeks since I finished the book, my final thoughts have been lost to the wind, but do remember that once I was getting closer to the end of the book, I really became involved with the story and by the end I was crying buckets.  I can see why people like the book and why it has become a modern classic of sorts.  

That being said, I didn't exactly fall in love with this book and at times felt it too be a bit of a chore to get through and wanted to climb through the pages and shake Meggie to her senses and make her realize that her "love" for Ralph was basically a school-girl crush and not one that was formed through adult eyes.  Maybe if she had gone to school outside of the Outback and in a more populated area, she could have probably found somebody that was more her equal and somebody that complemented her, not somebody who looked like Ralph and reminded of the one that she truly loved.

Bottom line: For the most part, I enjoyed the book but felt it was too schmaltzy at times.  I probably won't reread the book, but if I need something for a plane ride or a beach vacation, it may be a book that I may take with me.  Recommended.

Rating:  3.8/5

Pages for 2013: 14750

Wonderfully Wicked Read-A-Thon Goals

I am starting this really late; totally forgot about this.  I realize that there still is another full week ahead, but I still feel as though I am late to the game.  But nonetheless here I go.

If you want to join, you can sign up for the read-a-thon at http://www.myshelfconfessions.com/wwreadathon/.  You don't need to have a blog to do it.  You can see the dates that it runs in the picture next to this post, but you have only about 4 more days to actually sign up.

Here are my goals:
• section for Northanger Abbey read-a-long at Unputdownables
• The Cuckoo's Calling (at least get into a considerable bit of the book)
• The Count of Monte Cristo (at least until about Chapter 42 or so)
• Book 9 of War & Peace
• start reading The Good Earth
• Longbourne by Jo Baker

I realize that its quite a bit of reading, but these are just goals and some of these are quite doable.  I will update each evening with a separate post.

Fall Into Reading 2013 - Update #1

I apologize for not updating as soon as I said I would, but blogging hasn't exactly been at the forefront of my mind, being that I have been busy reading over the last few weeks.

Surprisingly I have finished quite a few books on my list for this challenge, but no reviews of the books that I have read.    I even read one book that I didn't include on my list and I think that there will be many additions to the list during the course of the readathon for the next couple of months.





Here is what I have read, but not reviewed as of yet:
• The Thorn Birds
• Agnes Grey
• Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
• The Book Thief

I am planning on working reviews of these books during the next few days.

I also want to give people a heads up on a readathon that started on Friday.  Its called the Wonderfully Wicked Read-A-Thon.  You can still sign up for another few days and I think you can just hop right it in.  You can sign up here: http://www.myshelfconfessions.com/wwreadathon/

I hope to read some of the same books that I have scheduled for Fall Into Reading.
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