Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt

Title: The Goldfinch
Author: Donna Tartt
Pages: 771
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, Chunkster
Genre: Contemporary, Literary, Ficiton
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Personal

Description: It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts:  After reading a number of book reviews over the past few months, I realized that I needed to borrow the audiobook from the library and it was a good decision in the end, as I was able to get through several portions of the book.  When all I wanted to do was to give up, even though there were sections that I really enjoyed reading.

I will say that Ms. Tartt's ability to allow the reader to as though they are actually in the place being described.  I really liked Boris more than Theo, who seemed to be a tad too mopy for my liking.  It's not that the book wasn't well-written, it was very well-written, I just felt that Theo didn't deal with his grief very well and felt that the author could have maybe brought some sort of relief/happiness into Theo's life.  I also felt that the author rambled a little too much for my liking.

Bottom line: I would recommend the book for those that don't mind long books that sometimes tend to be on the rambley side of things.  Recommend.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pages for 2014: 16,305

If you have read it, what did you think of it?

Road Ends - Mary Lawson

Title: Road Ends
Author: Mary Lawson
Pages (File Size): 368 (2.2 MB)
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, Canadian Book, E-Book Reading, Historical Fiction, I Love Libraries
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary, Canadian
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: Roads End brings us a family unravelling in the aftermath of tragedy: Edward Cartwright, struggling to escape the legacy of a violent past; Emily, his wife, cloistered in her room with yet another new baby, increasingly unaware of events outside the bedroom door; Tom, their eldest son, twenty-five years old but home again, unable to come to terms with the death of a friend; and capable, formidable Megan, the sole daughter in a household of eight sons, who for years held the family together but has finally broken free and gone to England, to try to make a life of her own.  

Thoughts: I had trouble following the storyline in the book at times, in that I could not find out what the focus of the book was.  While I enjoyed Megan's storyline, as she was the "normal" on in the family.  I found that reading the other perspectives difficult to get through and that they seemed to slow the book down to the point that I had to force myself to finish the book.

For a large portion of the book, I was unsure of why there was this pall cast over the book and felt scattered as a result.  The book was well written and made one feel as though you really in 1960s London and in a small northern Ontario town.

I think part of the problem that I had with book is that when I read Crow Lake a number of years ago, I was left wanting more, whereas with this book, I could hardly wait until this book had been completed.

Bottom line: While the book seems to be promising, the book fell a little short for me and that was probably a little depressing for me. If you like other contemporary Canadian authors or authors that set their books in small towns, you probably will enjoy this one, as well as fans of Mary Lawson.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 15,534

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?

Levels of LIfe - Julian Barnes

Title: Levels of Life
Author: Julian Barnes
Pages: 128
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, I Love Libraries, Non-Fiction
Genre: Non-fiction, Biography, Memoir
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Part history, part fiction, part memoir,  Levels of Life  is a powerfully personal and unforgettable book, and an immediate classic on the subject of grief.

Levels of Life opens in the nineteenth century with balloonists, photographers, and Sarah Bernhardt, whose adventures lead seamlessly into an entirely personal account of the author's own great loss.  (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I picked up this due to a suggestion on Hear...Read This! and while this book is a metaphor about the ups and downs of life (so I found out on a couple of reviews on Goodreads), I also felt the book on different levels while reading the book: from a little bored to being a little confused to being engaged with the book.  What I mean by this is that the first two sections left me "scratching my head" as to where this was going and by the end of the book, I really didn't want the book to end and wanted more of Julian Barnes' wonderful words.

There were a number of quotes from the third section that made me stop and write them down, but there were a couple that really struck me:

Grief makes your stomach turn, snatches the breath from you, cuts off the blood supply to the brain; mourning blows you in a new direction. (88)
Sometimes [grief-work] is passive, a wanting for time and pain to disappear; sometimes active, a conscious attention to death and loss and the loved one; sometimes necessarily distractive. (105)
Bottom line: If you are fan of Julian Barnes and his work, you probably will enjoy this one or even if you need a short book that that makes you think a bit.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.75/5

Pages for 2014: 15,166

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Speaking from Among the Bones - Alan Bradley

Title: Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce #5)
Author: Alan Bradley
Pages: 400
Published: 2013 (first published 2012)
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Edition: Paperback
Source: Personal

Description: When the tomb of St. Tancred is opened at a village church in Bishop's Lacey, its shocking contents lead to another case for Flavia de Luce. Greed, pride, and murder result in old secrets coming to light--along with a forgotten flower that hasn't been seen for half a thousand years. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: For the first time, I struggled to get into a book this series; it was likely due to some stress that I was going through at the time, but once I was able to, I found the story to be quite enjoyable and found myself looking forward to the next book in the series, which comes out in trade paperback in late 2014 or early 2015.

What I like about the book is that while Flavia is starting to mature, she still also still has that childish nature about her that makes her who she is and takes the risks that she takes.  Flavia also seems to be a little more calculating and little less impulsive than she was in the first four novels in the series, even though there are still instances in which this happens.

Bottom line: Enjoyed reading the book and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  I liked how the book built upon the previous book (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows), but also feel like it was an individual book as well.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2014: 15,038

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

Title: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy #1)
Author: Douglas Adams
Pages: 216
Published: 1995 (first published 1979)
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, I Love Libraries
Genre: Science Fiction, Humor, Fantasy, Young Adult
Edition: Mass Market Paperback (Library binding)
Source: Library

Description: Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: This has been one of those book that I have been wanting to read for sometime, especially since I had heard a lot about this book over the years (in fact, I had never heard about this book until about 10 years ago).  So while I was listening to an episode of the Book Riot podcast this past June and hearing one of the hosts talk about the amazing audiobook that was narrated by Stephan Fry (it was a sponsor break for Audible that I heard about the audio), I knew I had to read this book.  So I downloaded the audio and borrowed a paper copy of the book from the library.

It took me a bit to get into the book, but once I was able to get into the rhythm of the book, it felt like a really fun ride at an amusement park and I could see why this has become a cult classic among science fiction fans and other readers over the years.  It is definitely a healthy overdose of fun for readers and non-readers alike.  I definitely had fun with the book, once I was able to relax and not take the book too seriously.

Bottom line: I really enjoyed the read and the ride.  I would recommend this to readers who at least want to try science fiction and those that have been wanting to read this book for sometime.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.75/5

Pages for 2014: 14, 638 

The Light Between Oceans - M.L. Stedman

Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M.L. Stedman
Pages: 345
Published: 2013 (first published 2012)
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: Paperback
Source: Personal

Description: After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: Took me awhile to get into the book, so that may colour my opinion a little bit.  I felt that the book to be a bit labourious at times, which was why it probably took me almost a year to get through the book.  But overall, it was a pretty decent book and once I was able to get a rhythm with the book, I enjoyed the story and could feel the emotions of the characters didn't want the book to end.

That being said, I felt that the ending to be a bit rushed and that the author spent too much time on Janus Rock at times.  It would have been helpful to get a sense of what year was in while reading the book (don't have my copy of the book at the time of when I am posting this review).

Bottom line: If you have enjoyed other historical fiction books like The Baker's Daughter or In the Shadow of the Banyan Tree or The Sandcastle Girls, you probably will enjoy this book as well.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pages for 2014: 14,422

Summer House with Swimming Pool - Herman Koch

Title: Summer House with Swimming Pool
Author: Herman Koch
Pages: 387
Published: 2014 (first published 2011)
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Thriller
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: When a medical mistake goes horribly wrong and Ralph Meier, a famous actor, winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser is forced to conceal the error from his patients and family. After all, reputation is everything in this business. But the weight of carrying such a secret lies heavily on his mind, and he can't keep hiding from the truth…or the Board of Medical Examiners.

The problem is that the real truth is a bit worse than a simple slipup. Marc played a role in Ralph's death, and he's not exactly upset that the man is gone. Still haunted by his eldest daughter's rape during their stay at Ralph's extravagant Mediterranean summerhouse-one they shared with Ralph and his enticing wife, Judith, film director Stanley Forbes and his far younger girlfriend, Emmanuelle, and Judith's mother-Marc has had it on his mind that the perpetrator of the rape could be either Ralph or Stanley. Stanley's guilt seems obvious, bearing in mind his uncomfortable fixation on the prospect of Marc's daughter's fashion career, but Marc's reasons for wanting Ralph dead become increasingly compelling as events unravel. There is damning evidence against Marc, but he isn't alone in his loathing of the star-studded director. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: After reading The Dinner last summer, I was hesitant to read this book, but strangely enough, I was able to enjoy this book for the most part.  I liked how the author built up to the main event of the book and how the characters were well fleshed out, even though Marc seemed to be a little too narcissistic at times for my liking.

I think what I liked is that the book seemed to be a little more linear than The Dinner and the author wrote in a way that one could easily get into the story without much effort.

Bottom line: If you enjoyed The Dinner, you will probably enjoy this one.  Also if you are a fan of other suspense/thriller novels, you may also enjoy this one as well.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.75/5

Pages for 2014: 14, 077 

Monday, August 25, 2014

#boutofbooks Wrap-Up & #bthreadathon Update No. 8

Bout of Books

Bout of Books:

Was pretty successful, even though I finished 2 books.   I managed to read about 869 pages, which in my books is pretty good and am looking forward to the next Bout of Books read-a-thon in early January.

Beat the Heat:
Mrs. Hemingway:          31 pages
The Word Exchange:     69 pages
Total pages:                   100

The Word Exchange:         58 pages
Mrs. Hemingway:              47 pages
The Invention of Wings:    38 pages
Total pages:                        143

The Wide and Starry Sky:                                                                  64 pages
The One-Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window:  42 pages
Total pages:                                                                                        106

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Write On Review-a-thon Sign up

Write On Review-a-Thon

I have a bunch of reviews that need to be written up and posted.  Looking forward to it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

#boutofbooks Day 4 Update & #bthreadathon Update No. 7

Bout of Books

Beat the Heat:
The Word Exchange:     135 pages

Bout of Books:
Don't know why but I didn't read much during the day, but once the evening came on Thursday, I read a lot.  Hopefully I get more reading done this evening.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

#boutofbooks Day 3 Update & #bthreadathon Update No. 6

Bout of Books

Beat the Heat:
The Word Exchange:                  50 pages
Under the Wide and Starry Sky: 40 pages
Total pages:                                 90

Bout of Books:
Productive day of reading; started reading Under the Wide and Starry and got about 40 pages done from that book.  Got a bit more of The Word Exchange completed with 40 pages.  Hoping to do as much reading as I did yesterday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simison

Title: The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)
Author: Graeme Simison
Pages: 295
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, I Love Libraries
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Humor, Romance
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: After having seen a number of bloggers reviewing the book, I knew that this would probably be a really good read for me and I wasn't disappointed with the book.  It was probably due to the fact that at some level I could I identify with Don and his wanting to keep routines and a schedule as much as possible and how getting out of that routine and schedule can cause a certain degree of anxiety.  I also liked how Rosie allowed Don to change at a pace that he was more comfortable with.  

Like with His Majesty's Hope, this book was a nice break from the usual sort of books that I read and when I was able to sit down with the book, I found that it flowed really well and was an enjoyable read.  I am looking forward to the upcoming sequel this September.

Bottom line: If you enjoy books that have some romance and some humor in them or just need a nice, light read, you probably will enjoy this book.  The writing is pretty good and the characters are well-drawn.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2014: 13,690

If you have read the book, what did you think of it?

His Majesty's Hope - Susan Elia MacNeal

Title: His Majesty's Hope (Maggie Hope Mystery #3)
Author: Susan Elia MacNeal
Pages: 334
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, Historical Fiction, I Love Libraries, War Through the Generations
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

Description: World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to aid the British effort abroad—and her first assignment sends her straight into Nazi-controlled Berlin, the very heart of the German war machine. Relying on her quick wit and keen instincts, Maggie infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war—and of her own past. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this read, as it was a nice break from the heavier-themed fiction that I had previously completed.  While I had previously enjoyed the first two books in the series, this book was much more enjoyable to read.  Maybe it was that the primary story took place in a different location than war-time London or maybe it was that I had recently finished the second book in the series, I think it was because the themes dealt in the book went below the surface and dealt with more personal issues with Maggie and also was more darker and sinister than what was dealt with in the first two books in the series.

I also liked how the plot moved smoothly between London and Berlin and the other minor characters in the series, particularly David's story.   I also liked that while the main story of the book was basically resolved, with the minor storylines in the book were left unfinished just enough to keep a fan of the series coming back and wanting more.

Bottom line: If you have read the first two books in the series, you will enjoy this one as well.   If you are new to the series, I would recommend reading the first two books, as they provide the back story to this book.  Highly recommended to fans of the series.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2014: 13,395

If you have read the book, what did you think of it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#boutofbooks Day 2 Update & #bthreadathon Update No. 5

Bout of Books

Beat the Heat:
The Word Exchange:     45 pages
The Cuckoo's Calling:   163 pages *
Total pages:                   208

* Completed

Bout of Books:  Day 2

Felt like a productive day of reading, especially since I was able to finish The Cuckoo's Calling on Tuesday evening.  I don't know how much reading I am going to get done today, but I am hoping to get a lot done.

The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: The Remains of the Day
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Pages: 245
Published: 2005 (first published 1988)
Challenges: Historical Fiction, Blogger Summer Reading, Roofbeemer TBR, Bookish TBR
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Edition: Paperback
Source: Personal

Description: The novel's narrator, Stevens, is a perfect English butler who tries to give his narrow existence form and meaning through the self-effacing, almost mystical practice of his profession. In a career that spans the second World War, Stevens is oblivious of the real life that goes on around him -- oblivious, for instance, of the fact that his aristocrat employer is a Nazi sympathizer. Still, there are even larger matters at stake in this heartbreaking, pitch-perfect novel -- namely, Stevens' own ability to allow some bit of life-affirming love into his tightly repressed existence. (from

Thoughts: This was the third Ishiguro novel that I read (first two were When We Were Orphans and Never Let Me Go) and this was by far my most enjoyable experience, probably because I had already knew what the story was about due to the Merchant Ivory movie of the same title that was based on this book (the one that starred Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Hugh Grant and Christopher Reeve).

I did have some issues with the book, namely that when Stevens was in the 'present'.  I found that those sections dragged and that when he was reflecting on his life just prior to World War II seemed to fly by and go more quickly.  It also didn't help that it took me the majority of the book for me to find a rhythm and get a sense for the book.

What I did like was that the ending was a bit ambiguous and Ishiguro allows for the reader to draw their  own conclusions about what happened in the end.

Bottom line:  I would probably say that if you have really enjoyed any of Ishiguro's other pieces of fiction, you probably will enjoy this book as well.  Also if you enjoyed the film, you probably will like the book as well.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 13,061

If you have read the book, what did you think of it?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallfloer
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Pages: 213
Published: 1999
Challenges: I Love Libraries, Blogger Summer Reading
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

Description: Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: This book has been on my TBR for a number of years, but for one reason or another, I was just unable to get around to reading it, but after hearing a number of times on a number of podcasts, I knew I had to read it.

I felt that for the first little bit of the book was a bit slower than I had expected it to be, but once I was engrossed in Charlie's world, I was hooked and had a hard time pulling myself away from the book.

What I really liked was the letter format of the story and how it gave the reader a really good insight into the mind of a person who is struggling to find their place in a world that doesn't really seem to have room for those who tend to contemplate the things that are pressed upon them, with little or no warning, that makes life a little more complicated for them.  

Bottom line:  If you don't pull any punches and is a fairly quick read, I would recommend this book.  I would also recommend this book for teens who just want to make sense of the world around them.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 12,816

If you have read the book, what did you think of it?

#boutofbooks Day 1 Update & #bthreadathon Update No. 4

Bout of Books

Beat the Heat:
The Word Exchange:   27 pages
The Cuckoo's Calling:  46 pages
Half-Blood Prince:       127 pages
Total pages:                  200

The Cuckoo's Calling:   47 pages

Bout of Books: Day 1

Didn't do a lot of reading for Monday, as I was recovering from a huge reading day from the previous day, but I did read about 47 pages from The Cuckoo's Calling.  I am hoping to be reading a bit more today.

I am sorry for the odd look, but when am doing two different readathons at the same time, this is how its going to look like.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Salon - Right Now (8/17/14)

Time: 9:02 am Pacific

Place: Some place other than home

Listening to… Episode 292 of Books on the Nightstand

Watching... Newcastle vs Man City

Reading... Too many books

Planning...  To post some book reviews, read a bunch of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, watch a bunch of lectures for a course I am taking online through (one on the French Revolution) and to just generally survive the day.

Feeling... Tired; haven't been sleeping well for the last little while.

Wanting... To go back to bed.

Thinking... Not a lot at the moment

Looking forward to... Seeing my sister.

Books finished since my last Sunday Salon:
• Road Ends 
• The Goldfinch
• Empty Mansions
• We Were Liars
• The Circle

Books reviewed since my last Sunday Salon:
• HHhH by Laurent Binet (July 2014)
• Boxers by Gene Luen Yang (July 2014)
• Saints by Gene Luen Yang (July 2014)
• Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, The by Sun-mi Hwang (Aug. 2014)
• Ocean at the End of the Lane, The by Neil Gaiman (Aug. 2014)
• Mysteries of Udolpho, The by Ann Radcliffe (Aug. 2014)
• Pursuit of Mary Bennet, The by Pamela Mingle (Aug. 2014)
• Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (Aug. 2014)
• Bear, The by Claire Cameron (Aug. 2014)
• Tale of Two Cities, A by Charles Dickens (Aug. 2014)
• Fault in Our Stars, The by John Green (Aug. 2014)
• While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell (Aug. 2014)
• Clash of Kings, A by George R.R. Martin (Aug. 2014)
• Enchanted, The by Rene Denfeld (Aug. 2014)
• Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Aug. 2014)

Books I hope to finish this week:
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
• The Cuckoo's Calling

Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday, however you plan on spend it.

#BtHreadathon Update No. 3

I realize that its been a few days since I last updated as to what I had read.  I had other things up and I just put it aside in favour of those of other things.

Half-Blood Prince:    83 pages read
Mrs. Hemingway:     11 pages read
Total pages read:       94

The Circle:                  48 pages read*
The Cuckoo's Calling: 42 pages read
Total pages read:          90

* = completed reading

I did start reading The Word Exchange, but it wasn't enough to think it was enough to record it (it was a few pages); I hope to read a bit more today and that I update sooner than have at the moment.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Pages: 438
Published: 2013
Challenges: I Love Libraries, Blogger Summer Reading
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Young Adult
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? Open her heart to someone? Or will she just go on living inside somebody else’s fiction? (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I did read this book because others were reading the book and also because I really enjoyed reading her previous work, Eleanor & Park (at some point I'll get to Attachments, which I have heard is also pretty good and am looking forward to reading Landline this coming fall).  It took me awhile to get into this novel, probably because I was comparing it to my experience with Eleanor & Park, in which I got right into the book.  But once I was able to get into the book, I really couldn't put the book down and got into Cath's world, not only because of the story, but also because to a certain degree, I also wrote fanfiction at one point, but nothing to the extent that Cath did.

I really liked how the author was able to express Cath's trouble with trying to find her place in a world that was free of her dad and her sister and to find friends that understood her as much as her sister may have and the struggle that she had with not being with her sister all the time.  

Bottom line: If you enjoyed Eleanor & Park, you probably will enjoy this book. And even if you enjoy  other young adult/new adult books, this might be a book for you. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2014: 12,603

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?

The Enchanted - Rene Denfeld

Title: The Enchanted
Author: Rene Denfeld
Pages: 256
Published: 2014
Challenges: I Love Libraries, Blogger Summer Reading
Genre: Fiction, Magic Realism
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries magical visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs, with the devastating violence of prison life.

Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest, and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners' pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honor and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own. (from

Thoughts: I had heard really good things about the book and I thought I would give the book a try.  Much like when I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I had to suspend my disbelief when I read the book and just let myself experience the book.  While it took me a bit to get into the book, I did manage to enjoy the book.

I can't recall what made me enjoy reading the book, as it's been awhile since I finished the book, but it was probably the way the author used language that made it enjoyable and how she was able for me as the reader to draw me into the world she created.  It was also great that it was such a short book after reading a book with over 1000 pages.

Bottom line: If you enjoyed books such as The Ocean at the End of the Lane or you are fan of books with magic realism in it, you'll probably enjoy this read.  Even if you are a fan of literary fiction, you probably will enjoy this one as well.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.75/5

Pages for 2014: 12,165

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

#BtHreadathon Update No. 2

Had a big day of reading today, although I only really read from two books.  But within those two books, I read a lot of pages and am anticipating about the same tomorrow.

Here is what I read:
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Read 69 pages
• The Circle: Went from about 71% to about 91% completed, which is about 106 pages

I read for about 3 and a half to about 4 hours (didn't really calculate as to how much I read).

#bthreadathon - Update No. 1

I am so sorry for not posting an update yesterday, but here I am!  It will be a quick one, as I am headed off to do some reading before I go off to dream land.

It really hasn't been a successful couple of days, as yesterday I didn't feel like reading.  But before I did head off to sleep I read about 130 pages from two different books.  Didn't read much during the day yesterday (Wednesday), but am hoping today is going to be better.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin

Title: A Clash of Kings (A Song of Fire and Ice #2)
Author: George R.R. Martin
Pages: 1009
Published: 2005 (first published 1998)
Challenges: Chunkster, Blogger Summer Reading, Bookish TBR, Roof Beam TBR
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Edition: Mass-Market Paperback
Source: Personal

Description:  A comet the colour of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk at night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: After reading A Game of Thrones, I suspected that I would be a bit let down with the second book.  What I found with the book was that it tended to be bleak and dreary to the point that at times I wondered when I was ever going to get end the least bit happy and I felt that the book seemed to plod on for pages on end, with the book never seeming to end (felt like I was going through torture myself at times), especially since the first book seemed to be full of action and plot twists coming left and centre.

Being it the case, since I have gotten this far in the series, I am definitely in it for the long haul and will find out who gets to claim the throne, if there is anybody left in the end.

Bottom line:  Even though it did seem to plod along at times, I did enjoy it and am planning on finishing up the series, whenever that may be.  And yes, you do need to read the first book in the series, as the story basically picks up from the end of the book and there are characters and events you need to have a little background about.  Highly Recommended.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2014: 11909

While Beauty Slept - Elizabeth Blackwell

Title: While Beauty Slept
Author: Elizabeth Blackwell
Pages: 432
Published: 2014 (first published 2013)
Challenge: I Love Libraries, Historical Fiction, Bloggers Summer Reading
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: The Truth is No Fairy Tale.
I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told. Those of humble birth suffer their heartbreaks and celebrate their triumphs unnoticed by the bards, leaving no trace in the fables of their time....
And so begins Elise Dalriss's story
When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a tale about a beautiful princess awakened by a handsome prince, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered - and she is the only one left who knows the truth of what happened so many years ago.
As the memories start to unfold, Elise is plunged back in to the magnificent world behind the opulent palace walls. Fleeing a hardscrabble existence and personal tragedy, she builds a new life for herself as a servant to the royal family and quickly rises within the castle hierarchy. As Elise proves herself a loyal confidante, she is drawn into the lives of an extraordinary cast of women: a beautiful queen who wakes each morning with tears on her pillow, an elderly spinster who in heartache shuts herself away, a princess who yearns to be free, and the ambitious and frightening sister who cannot accept the fact that she will never rule. Elise has guarded their secrets - and her own - for a lifetime. While Beauty Sleeps is her story.
In this rich and compelling novel of love and terror, friendship and fate, we are introduced to a heroine of extraordinary determination - the true heart of a legend - who reveals what it really takes to reach happily ever after. (from Goodreads)
Thoughts: I quite enjoyed the book, even if I didn't see elements of Sleeping Beauty within the book (after reading some reviews of the book through Goodreads, I do realize that I did miss them, even though some of them were quite clear as day and it probably doesn't help that I am not as familiar with the story of Sleeping Beauty, as I am with Snow White and Cinderella).
I really like Elise's storyline and was drawn into it more than those of the aristocrats, but for some reason I struggled with the book, even though it took me five days to read it from start to finish; clearly there was some sort of pull with the story that allowed me to be drawn into the story and complete it.
Bottom line: If you prefer a different re-telling of a fairy tale, I would recommend that you give the book a try. Recommended.
Rating: 3.25/5
Pages for 2014: 10900

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2nd Annual Beat the Heat Readathon Sign-up Post

Beat the Heat readathon is hosted by Novel Heartbeat and Phantasmic Reads

I don't know how I heard about it; probably a blog post I read in the last few days.

So here are the rules:

  • The Beat the Heat Readathon runs from August 11th to September 1st. What does this readathon entail, you ask? Well, read as much or as little as you want – the main point is to READ! You set your own goal, and for three weeks you read as many books as you can/want to reach your goal!
  • There will be mini-challenges throughout the Readathon for participants, along with a grand prize giveaway at the end!
  • Sign up here at Phantasmic Reads or Novel Heartbeat. You may join whenever you like, but to be eligible for our grand prize giveaway, you must sign up by August 24th.
  • To join, all you have to do is make a sign-up post – even if it’s just a “Let’s do this!” thing – and add your post URL to the linky below! You can put your goals and progress (will be required for the final giveaway) in your sign-up post, or you can make it separate. Totally up to you! (You are welcome to use the template we provide as well.)
  • In order to enter for the grand prize, you must have a post to keep track of your progress so we can see that you participated.

Here are the books that I will hopefully work on:
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
• The Cuckoo's Calling
• The Word Exchange
• The Circle
• Bittersweet
• The Lady and the Unicorn
• Mrs. Hemingway
• The Invention of Wings
a history book that I need to read for a course I am doing online.

I am sorry for starting a little late, but I hope to post updates, in a separate post, either just before I go to bed or when I get up the next day.
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