Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fall Into Reading Challenge

Timeline: Sept 1 - Nov 30, 2010

Goal:Complete all 12 reading prompts
~ Special thanks to Sheila @ Bookjourney, Michelle @ Michelle's Ramblin's, Jennifer @ An Abundance Of Books and Deepali @ E-volving Books for help with the prompts!

1. Read a book outside your comfort zone: Kathy Reichs - Bare Bones
2. Read a "chunky book" 500 + pages. Deanna Raybourn - The Dark Road To Darjeeling
3. Read a book with the letter "S" for September in either the title or the author's name. Deanna Raybourn - Silent In The Sanctuary
4. Read a book that is part of a series. Erin Hunter - Forest Of Secrets Warrior Cats Series
5. Re-read a book that you consider an old friend. Eve Bunting - Ghosts Of Departure Point
6. Read something "Spooky" for halloween. Sally Carleen - Shaded Leaves Of Destiny
7. Read a book that was recommended to you by a friend. Terry Pratchett - The Color Of Magic
8. Read one of the books that's been on your TBR the longest. Terry Pratchett - Hogfather
9. Read a book by a debut author. Olivia deBelle Byrd - Miss Hildreth Wore Brown
10. Read a book with a "fall" theme: Margaret Daley - A Texas Thanksgiving
11. Reader's Choice: Brenda Joyce - The Promise
12. Read a book by an author that you love Hope Tarr - A Rogue's Pleasure

To sign up...grab the link and make a post that you are accepting the challenge, then come back here and leave the link to the post where you'll share your review links!

Book Review: Just The Way You Are

Author: Christina Dodd
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publish Date: June 2003
Rating: 4 Stars
Book Blurb: Shining with all the humor of her historical romances-but with a sassy edge that reflects the story's modern setting-Dodd's (My Favorite Bride, etc.) first foray into the contemporary arena is nothing short of a success. Separated from her siblings since her parents' death seven years earlier, Hope Prescott works as an answering service operator and dreams of getting a job that will finance her search for her family-not to mention socks without holes. While calling in for his messages, Zack Givens, a Boston CEO notorious for his cold manner, accidentally leads Hope to believe that he's his butler, and her scorn for the rich and heartless as well as her warm, caring manner encourages him to continue the charade. Upon meeting Hope in person and realizing that she has a heart of gold, Zack's focus turns possessive and sexual, and his stratagems revolve around getting her in bed and then showering her with wealth. But secrets from Hope's past and Zack's distrust conspire to ruin their happiness. Zack's poor estimation of Hope's moral strength may disturb some readers, but his bewilderment and agony when he realizes his mistake will soften hearts. Aside from one farcical side trip-when Hope is kidnapped by a crime lord-Dodd's surefooted story is lively, sexy and certain to expand her readership.

Review: This is my first book by Christina Dodd. I probably should have gone for one of her historical novels because as much as I loved the story and the characters, I kept thinking about how unrealistic parts of the story were.

I could get a handle on Zach's wanting to masquerade as his Butler Griswald when he first starts talking to Hope, but how can a business man be on the top of his game without knowing how to use a computer? It just isn't possible. The book was written in 2003, so that couldn't be used as an excuse.

The other thing that bugged me was Hope's need to save money to look for her sister. Uh, she's a computer science major! What about the internet? Why didn't she do any searching on her own? It was something that most people would have thought to do.

All that aside, Christina Dodd creates a cast of characters that you easily become attached to because they are so off the wall. There were times when I was reading this, that I felt like I was reading a Janet Evanovich novel. Aunt Ceclily felt like a cousin or wealthy sister to Grandma Mazur, and all the employees at the answering service Hope worked for were just a riot. They actually made up for the total lack of realism in the story, but hey, sometimes reality isn't much fun and this book really made me laugh at times.

Dodd also set up a good mystery with Hope's family being separate as a result of her parents supposedly committing a crime. It definitely makes you want to run out and buy the other two books in the trilogy, so you can find out if they get reunited and if all works out, clear their parents name.

All in all, this was a fun summer read.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

From Sheila @ Book Journey.

This is the meme where we discuss what we've read in the past week and what we plan to read in the coming week.

What I read last week

Lauren Baratz-Logsted - The Twin's Daughter
Betty Neels - An Old Fashioned Girl
Nora Roberts - With Open Arms

Other things around my universe

Anyone have any ideas about cheap bookcases? Check out my post here and offer some suggestions, before I get buried in a pile of books!

Also, please help me come up with a fall reading challenge. Check out this post. I've got some great suggestions and I need a few more.

What I'm going to be reading this week

I'm still finishing up one from last week Christina Dodd's Just The Way You Are for one of my summer reading challenges that ends...Eep tomorrow! Must get to reading!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rearranging The Book Shelves

I have a serious lack of shelving in my house for my books and they are literally EVERYWHERE. If there is a flat surface, I can guarantee you that there is a book there, and that, my friends includes the floor!

I've been looking for a reason shelving unit and last year around Christmas Aldi Markets had some wonderful metal shelves that are super pretty, but fool that I am, I only bought two. One I gave to my mother for her cookbooks and I kept one for myself. I still need more. My old shelf that is about 20-25 years old is looking worse for wear. The shelves are starting to smile at me from across the room, and not in a flirtatious manner.

I need something that doesn't have those three little words that strike fear in my heart, "some assembly required." I'm not good with hammer and nails, however small those nails might be. Any time I've had to assemble something like that, cussing is almost always involved. Sometimes I even make up some new words.

The question now, is where can I find bookcases with little to no assemble required that are reasonably priced, say under $100.00.

Any ideas or recommendations?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On My Wishlist #9

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.

Author: Cecelia Holland
Title: The Secret Eleanor
Blurb: 151: As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor grew up knowing what it was to be regarded for herself and not for her husband's title. Now, as wife to Louis VII and Queen of France, she has found herself unsatisfied with reflected glory-and feeling constantly under threat, even though she outranks every woman in Paris.

Then, standing beside her much older husband in the course of a court ceremony, Eleanor locks eyes with a man-hardly more than a boy, really- across the throne room, and knows that her world has changed irrevocably...

He is Henry D'Anjou, eldest son of the Duke of Anjou, and he is in line, somewhat tenuously, for the British throne. She meets him in secret. She has a gift for secrecy, for she is watched like a prisoner by spies even among her own women. She is determined that Louis must set her free. Employing deception and disguise, seduction and manipulation, Eleanor is determined to find her way to power-and make her mark on history.

Why I want it: I love historical novels about European royalty and Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of my favorite royals.

Author: Susan Fraser King
Title: Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret Of Scotland
Blurb: Refugee. Queen. Saint. In eleventh-century Scotland, a young woman strives to fulfill her destiny despite the risks . . .

Shipwrecked on the Scottish coast, a young Saxon princess and her family—including the outlawed Edgar of England—ask sanctuary of the warrior-king Malcolm Canmore, who shrewdly sees the political advantage. He promises to aid Edgar and the Saxon cause in return for the hand of Edgar’s sister, Margaret, in marriage.

A foreign queen in a strange land, Margaret adapts to life among the barbarian Scots, bears princes, and shapes the fierce warrior Malcolm into a sophisticated ruler. Yet even as the king and queen build a passionate and tempestuous partnership, the Scots distrust her. When her husband brings Eva, a Celtic bard, to court as a hostage for the good behavior of the formidable Lady Macbeth, Margaret expects trouble. Instead, an unlikely friendship grows between the queen and her bard, though one has a wild Celtic nature and the other follows the demanding path of obligation.
Torn between old and new loyalties, Eva is bound by a vow to betray the king and his Saxon queen. Soon imprisoned and charged with witchcraft and treason, Eva learns that Queen Margaret—counseled by the furious king and his powerful priests—will decide her fate and that of her kinswoman Lady Macbeth. But can the proud queen forgive such deep treachery?

Impeccably researched, a dramatic page-turner, Queen Hereafter is an unforgettable story of shifting alliances and the tension between fear and trust as a young woman finds her way in a dangerous world.

Why I want it: Again, its the European royalty thing. I'm always looking for books like this.

Author: Elizabeth Chadwick
Title: For The King's Favor
Blurb: A Bittersweet Tale of Love, Loss, and the Power of Royalty

When Roger Bigod arrives at King Henry II's court to settle a bitter inheritance dispute, he becomes enchanted with Ida de Tosney, young mistress to the powerful king. A victim of Henry's seduction and the mother of his son, Ida sees in Roger a chance to begin a new life. But Ida pays an agonizing price when she leaves the king, and as Roger's importance grows and he gains an earldom, their marriage comes under increasing strain. Based on the true story of a royal mistress and the young lord she chose to marry.

Why I want it: I really don't know, except the plot really grabbed me. It is a recent addition to my wishlist, and a book found in the "Customers Also Bought" section of amazon.

ARC Tour & Book Review: The Twin's Daughter

Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Title: The Twin's Daughter
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish Date: September 2010
Rating: 4 Stars
Book Blurb: Lucy Sexton is stunned when a disheveled woman appears at the door one day…a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lucy's own beautiful mother. It turns out the two women are identical twins, separated at birth, and raised in dramatically different circumstances. Lucy's mother quickly resolves to give her less fortunate sister the kind of life she has never known. And the transformation in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But when Helen begins to imitate her sister in every way, even Lucy isn't sure at times which twin is which. Can Helen really be trusted, or does her sweet face mask a chilling agenda?
Filled with shocking twists and turns, THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER is an engrossing gothic novel of betrayal, jealousy, and treacherous secrets that will keep you guessing to the very end.

Review: There's something about The Twin's Daughter that really left me with only one word to describe it, and that word is WOW! This is one book where the ending really left me with my mouth hanging open, and to be honest I was a bit befuddled with it.

Lucy and her family seemed so "together" at the start of the book. They were truly the "perfect" family. Then the mysterious twin showed up and things started to get strange and bad.

The only balance that Lucy had was Kit Tyler and even he brought a certain amount of heartache to her over the course of the story. Their friendship and eventual love was really the heart of the story and what held Lucy together as her family fell apart. He is really a wonderful foil to Lucy, aand from the start, you want these two together.

The whole situation with Aunt Helen, her mother's mysterious twin boggles the mind and changes everone's life. Then there's the murder that leaves one twin dead, but which. That's what really keeps the story moving. Is the remaining person Mother or Helen.

That's where it really starts getting strange. The behavior of Lucy's mother is so changed that you start to suspect that maybe it was the other twin that had died, but there is nothing to prove it. Though for a time, Lucy does come to believe that it is her mother that is gone, but then she marries Kit and everything unravels. Then there are the other tragedies in the family; her father's untimely death after a dinner party and her aunt Martha's death after her mother announces she's pregnant shortly after her marriage to Richard Earl.

The story is often confusing, especially after the murder in the parlor, with so much action and so many things happening to the characters, some of which weren't explained away quite as well as they should have been, but it doesn't detract from a story that really grabs you and pulls you in.

The ending is where things just don't sit right. All the loose ends are tied up much to quickly and without good explanation. I almost feel as though we were left hanging, because there was so much that wasn't explained away enough.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Me Friday

Book Blogger Hop

The Hop is Hosted By Jennifer @ Crazy For Books.

Each week she poses a get to know each other better question. This week's question is: Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

Right now I'm using stars, hopefully that will change if I can manage to save up for a pretty new template.

1 Star: Not worth the time to read it.

2 Stars: Not terrible but not good either

3 Stars: A good read

4 Stars: A great book that I would recommend to a friend

5 Stars: A keeper shelf book

I use a rating system because I think it is necessary. Some books are better than others. I'm just sharing my opinion, and yes I have used the 1 star rating. Just remember, just because I gave something a low rating doesn't mean you will.

Hosted by Parajunkee

Now onto some of the stuff I've been doing this week, for anyone new who is stopping by via these two features

Betty Neels - An Old Fashioned Girl
Nora Roberts - With Open Arms
Danielle Steel - Rogue

Memes Played
Waiting On Wednesday
Top Ten Tuesday
It's Monday! What Are You Reading
Friday Finds
In My Mailbox

Oh and can you guys help me create a reading challenge for the fall? There are more details here

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hiding From Reviews

I have to say that right now I'm really skimming through my google friend list quite a bit, because there are some reviews I'm not ready to read, one is Mockingjay (because I haven't read the series yet, and that would be a big spoil) and the other is The Replacement.

When I see the reviews pop up, I just scroll away.

I don't know why, reading reviews on some books I haven't read, doesn't bother me, but other books that I am really waiting for, it makes me crazy! It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

I mean, why is it that it is perfectly acceptable to want to know if a book is great or not before I read, both others it is a crime punishable by death or at least flogging with a wet noodle?

What books do you want to know nothing about before you read them?

Book Review: An Old Fashioned Girl

Author: Betty Neels
Publisher: Harlequin Romance
Publish Date: Nov 1993
Rating: 4 Stars
Book Blurb: Patience knew she couldn't be more different form the sort of women Dutch surgeon Julius van der Beek seemed to attract. After all she was a quiet country girl with a somewhat unique taste in clothes -- and an assertive personality to match! Yet she was attracted to him. Not that she had a hope of making him notice her, particularly with the glamorous Sylvia van Teule already at his side. . .

Review: This Betty Neels starts off slow, but it is a sweet an enjoyable read. Betty has a format that she stuck to with all her books and this doesn't change here.

There's usually a Dutch doctor, well respected in his field and a spunky, plain girl who both annoys and intrigues him. Sometimes she's a nurse other times she's some kind of hired help.

In this case, Patience Martin is Julius's kind of Personal Assistant. She's always putting her foot in her mouth too. She lives with two elderly aunts in a small terrace house that makes me think of a Herman's Hermits song, but that's beside the point. The house she used to live in before finances became too bleak is where Mr. van der Beek is staying.

Somehow her job as a go between to Julius can work on his reference book allows her to find a place in Julius' heart, though, lord knows he never bothers to tell her that.

One thing about Betty Neels, the books are about as old fashioned as her characters. You can never really pinpoint when the books take place. This one was released in 1992, but Patience still used an old typewriter!

Betty wrote what she knew. Her husband was Dutch and she was a nurse in the army.

They may not be up to date books, but they are sweet reads for any age.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Help Me Create A Reading Challenge For The Fall

I've noticed that a lot of book challenges are genre specific. Well that's fine, especially if you read a lot of a certain genre, or want to start reading a certain genre, but I thought it would be fun to do something that encompasses a lot of genres from YA to Romance to Mysteries/Thrillers and so on.

I was thinking of maybe 15 prompts from Sept 1 - Nov 30

I thought I'd ask my lovely readers to help me create the prompts and I will credit you when the post goes up on Sept 1.

Leave your suggestions in the comments and feel free to be creative about it. Also let me know if you'd be interested in participating in the challenge.

Waiting On Wedesday

Waiting On Wednesday is brought to you by Breaking The Spine. This meme spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

Author: Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
Title: The Familiars
Book Blurb: Aldwyn, a scruffy, quick-witted alley cat on the lam, poses as a magical animal when he ducks into a shop to avoid capture and ends up purchased as a boy wizard's familiar. Despite needing to keep his mundane nature hidden, Aldwyn settles easily into his new role, bonding with his human loyal, Jack, and befriending two other children's familiars: Gilbert, a tree frog, and Skylar, a blue jay. When an evil witch kidnaps the children and kills their mentor, only their familiars can save them. Stock characters—the underdog orphaned hero with hidden talents; the bossy, know-it-all girl; the dim, comic-relief friend; the wise old mentor—move through a predictable fantasy quest that is nonetheless agreeable. The dual authors, their intentions toward animated movie–dom clear, write competently but perfunctorily. A secret history about the true role of familiars and a world populated with imaginative wildlife adds interest to the clichéd but charming adventure.

Author: Cornelia Funke
Title: Reckless
Book Blurb: Beyond the mirror, the darkest fairy tales come alive. . . .

For years, Jacob Reckless has enjoyed the Mirrorworld's secrets and treasures.

Not anymore.

His younger brother has followed him.

Now dark magic will turn the boy to beast, break the heart of the girl he loves, and destroy everything Jacob holds most dear. . . .

Unless he can find a way to stop it.

If you're looking for happily ever after, you've come to the wrong place.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday

This is an meme from The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers.

The Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read

1.Charlotte Bronte - Villette: I barely got through Jane Eyre in high school. I've always felt that most literature should be read when you are an adult or when you want to. Forced reading never brings about any enjoyment.

2. J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7): Don't ask, but I've read this series in a haphazard fashion. I think I need to read one or two others. Bad me.

3. Hunger Games Trilogy: Apparently I'm the only one in the universe not to read these books.

4. Northanger Abbey: I haven't read most of Austen's work. Its part of my Classics reading challenge.

5. Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood : Yeah, I own all of them, and they are all on my TBR pile. GAH!

6. George Harrison - I, Me, Mine: George is my favorite Beatle and yet I've never read his book. Bad Bad Bad Bad me.

7. Barry Miles - Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now Again, how did I miss this book?

8. Mary Shelley - Frankenstein

9. Stephanie Meyer - Eclipse and Breaking Dawn: I just can't do it to myself. The first two books were so painful to me, however I do want to finish this series.

10. Victor Hugo - Les Misérables (Signet Classics) One day I will be brave and I will read the whole book..80 bazillion pages and all!

What is it with Series Romance?

I've read series romance for as long as I remember. Harlequins, Silhouettes, Loveswept, Candlelights and Zebras have filled my house for ages.

What I don't understand with most of the contemporary series is the huge age differences that the writers almost always give to the hero and heroine. Why is it that the guy is always 10 years older than the girl?

I'm 36 and most of my friends are married to men close to their age. Yes, some people do marry people much older..my dad is 8 years older than my mom, but still, it has always irked me that this is the case.

Plus it would be nice to see the heroines become a little older. No one is ever older than 32.

I feel like an old maid sometimes when I read these books and yet I still love reading romance. I guess I just won't identify with many of the heroines anymore. Not that I ever really did before. Because life just doesn't always throw us a handsome and wealthy prince that will fall madly in love with us and want to marry us in about 4 weeks. Though I won't stop hoping it will happen.

Book Review: With Open Arms

Author: Nora Roberts
Title: With Open Arms
Publisher: Silhouette
Publish Date: May 2004
Rating: 4 Stars
Book Blurb: Available for the first time in over a decade, two classic novels of heartwarming romance from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts

Song of the West

The towering mountains and windswept plains called to her. But she'd never intended to stay forever -- until Jake Tanner stirred her emotions like a summer tornado and made it impossible for her to leave. But no man was going to seduce Samantha Evans to give up her dreams. Even a cocky cowboy who made her blood go hot . . .

Her Mother's Keeper

She'd left town a starry-eyed innocent headed for the big city. Now Gwen Lacrosse returned home a savvy, sophisticated woman. But her mother's maddening new boarder enticed her as no one had before. Luke Powers was reputed to be an expert in both words and women -- and soon he was turning Gwen's cool reason into something else entirely . . .

Review: These were 2 really cute and sweet books that Nora wrote early in her career for Silhouette. Both were written in the early 80s. Song Of The West was published originally published in 1982 and Her Mother's Keeper was originally published in 1984.

If you don't know that going in, these stories will be a culture shock for you. There's a lot of innuendo but this was a time when the "Romance" lines were about as clean as any YA novel.

Of the two books included in this anthology I'm partial to Song Of The West. I really loved Samantha and Jake and all the family and friends that surround them. I loved Sam's innocence that wasn't overwhelming.

I often wondered how Sam could just up and leave house and home for several months to take care of her sister. What plant did she live on, and did she not have bills?

That was really my only problem with this story. But hey! It's romantic fiction. Life is different in these stories!

Her Mother's Keeper wasn't nearly as good as Song Of The West. Both books suffered from "jumping to conclusions". In Song Of The West, Sam assumed Jake wanted to marry Lesley, even though he was obviously attracted to her. Now in Her Mother's Keeper, that's stepped up a notch. Gwen thinks Luke is involved with her mother, even though at every turn he's trying to get her in bed.

I had quite a few problems with this story and most revolved around Gwen, who was supposed to be ultra sophisticated at 23. Uh 23 in the 80s and working for Style magazine in a good position.

HOW! She would only have been out of college for a few years? That's quite a rise! Plus her actions were far from sophisticated, as her dealings with her ex Michael and Luke prove.

Then there's her mom, who is 47, and she treats her like she's 87! I had to keep reminding myself of when this was written because a 47 year old women dating a 35 year old wouldn't be a great issue today. Personally I find the opposite more annoying the 23 year old with the 35 year old.

This story just made me wonder what the characters had in common other than a mutual attraction.

Still, the stories Nora weaved here are show how great she was even in the beginning.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

From Sheila @ Book Journey.

This is the meme where we discuss what we've read in the past week and what we plan to read in the coming week.

What I read last week
Danielle Steel - Rogue
Katherine Arthur - Forecast Of Love
Raeanne Thayne - The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle
Michele Scott - Happy Hour

What I plan to read this week
I'm hoping to get to Miss Hildrith Wore Brown. I also have a book or two from last week that I didn't get to finish. I'm still working at getting used to the Nook. I think the hardest thing to deal with is not being able to take it in the bath with me.

Yes, I read in the tub! It is my happy spot!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In My Mailbox #8

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted here at The Story Siren. (It was inspired by from Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.) Anyone can participate in IMM and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you've bought or books that you've gotten at the library.

Only one of my books actually came in the mail this week which is kind of strange, because I always have books showing up at my house! I guess I haven't bought much online lately. In a round about way that's a good thing.

Oh I've also downloaded all of the freebie classics from Barnes and Noble for my Nook. There are too many of those for me to mention though.

Amazon Purchase

Goodwill Purchase

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