Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One Perfect Rose by Mary Jo Putney

One Perfect Rose, by Mary Jo Putney, was a completely enjoyable read. As I mentioned on my teaser post from yesterday, I've had this book on my shelf for at least ten years. I went through a romance novel phase in my twenties and just stopped reading them at one point. I still hoped to get back to read a few so I kept a shelf of them. I was in need of an "O" book since both of my previous attempts turned out to be books that I didn't like from the start. I picked this off my shelf and was quickly absorbed into the story.

The story revolves around Stephen, a duke who receives life changing news and Rosalind, the daughter of traveling actors, who works as their stage manager. It is a romance with a lot of heart, a lot of humor, and a lot of wonderful characters.

One of my biggest problems with standard issue historical romance novels is the formula plot. Boy and girl meet. They immediately despise each other, despite their obvious chemistry. They finally fall in love and some misunderstanding/kidnapping/war tears them apart. The end of course is happy with the promise of lots of babies and long years of love. It's not bad overall but it does get boring.

One Perfect Rose didn't fit that formula at all. Stephen and Rosalind were smitten from the start. Both felt that they couldn't pursue a relationship because of separate issues, but they couldn't deny their attraction and while they wouldn't admit they were in love, they admitted their affection quite easily. There were moments when something would be revealed and I figured that the big break up scene would occur, but it wouldn't. That was nice. Yes, they had obstacles to overcome, but they did it together.

I highly recommend this book to fans of romance and to people who want to read a sweet story. It was great, one of my favorite books this year.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - Sept 29

Today's teaser comes from a good old-fashioned romance novel. One Perfect Rose, by Mary Jo Putney is a historical romance, full of Dukes, Shakespeare, and high society. It's been sitting on my shelf for at least ten years and I read it because I needed an "O" book. I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far and wish I hadn't waited so long to read it.

Page 135

If he made a list of of those he wanted to hide from, Claudia's name would be at the top. They had always gotten on well, but she had very firm ideas about the natural order of things.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Musing Mondays - Sept. 28

Do you keep a book wishlist, either on paper, Amazon/etc, or via a book database site (Shelfari, GoodReads, LibraryThing)? If yes, do you share this list with others (especially coming up to Christmas)?

I wish I had a better wishlist. I am just not that organized! I have several authors that I am always on the lookout for when I'm at book sales. I have on occasion brought a list with me so that I know what I have and what I need, especially when it comes to a series I am trying to complete.

If I see a book I want in a bookstore but am not willing to spend the money at the time, I have started taking a picture of the book with my cell phone. I have the title and author that way and can look for the book again. That's worked really well for me, even though I've gotten a few weird looks.

I don't usually ask for books at Christmas or my birthday. I would rather have a certificate to a book store. On occasion I'll mention a specific title but it's rare. I have very little impulse control and usually by the time I ask for the book and then wait for the holidays to roll around, I'll have bought it for myself anyway.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Sept. 24

What’s the saddest book you’ve read recently?

If we count actual tears, then Dewey, by Vicki Myron, would be the saddest book I've read this year. I do not handle animal stories well, especially when it deals with end of life. Dewey made me cry a lot.

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, was sad in a different way. The subject matter was difficult and while the character of Susie was still a vibrant part of the book, every once in a while I'd remember that she was dead and I'd feel so bad for her family.

After, by Amy Efaw was also a sad book. I was so sad for Devon and how quickly she changed the whole direction of her life. I find myself still thinking about the book and wondering what happened next.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The X Files: Ground Zero by Kevin J. Anderson

I chose The X Files; Ground Zero, by Kevin J. Anderson, because it started with an "X". That's the only reason I would have ever picked this up as I'm not a big fan of books based on TV shows or movies. I was, however, a fan of the show so I'm aware of the characters and mythology. This book was fairly stand alone plot-wise. You don't need to know anything about the show in order to understand the book.

The story is all about nuclear weapons. A reader might be able to debate whether the author had any particular political statements to make. It was clearly portraying the nuclear weapons industry in a negative light, but I don't want to get into that. Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate the bizarre death of a nuclear physicist. He was killed in a flash fire, which could only be compared to that of a nuclear weapon. The fire was contained in his office and nobody else was injured.

A few more similar deaths occurred before Mulder and Scully tie the pieces together. They are eventually led to a small island in the Marshall Island chain where a new weapon is about to be tested. I don't want to give any more away but this is where the typical supernatural explanation takes place.

It wasn't a bad read overall. I found it to be a quick, easy read. The subject matter bored me a bit and it read like fan fiction, but overall, the author captured the characters voices and created a decent story. I'm not going to recommend this to the world but certain readers will enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - Sept 22

Today's teaser is from a book I've already reviewed but better late than never right? Zel, by Donna Jo Napoli is a re-telling of the Rapunzel story. Zel's mother can control plants and makes a tree grow larger so that she can climb into the tower while Zel's hair is growing. Zel wants her mother to leave the tree large so that some of the forest creatures can come visit her. This is her mother's explanation.

From page 112:

"The tree must shrink in upon itself when I'm not here Zel. Otherwise what would prevent your enemy from climbing up, just as I do?"

My review can be found right here.

Musing Mondays - Sept 21

Excuse my tardiness this week. Here's this week's question:

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading music…

Do you listen to music while reading? Does this change if you’re reading in or out of your house? Do you have a preference of music for such occasions?

I do not listen to music when I read. I have a very hard time focusing on two things at once and music (especially music with vocals) distracts me from my book. I end up wanting to sing along to the music. I don't remember having that problem in high school when I had music on all the time, but it started in college. My roommate loved to have music playing (music major) and I liked it quiet. I'm not sure what kind of balance we ended up coming up with but we lived together for four years so somehow it worked out.

I can read while the TV is on however. When I am at my parents house I can read all through the news, football games, or QVC shows that my parents watch. That seems to be a lot easier to tune out!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I've had The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now. I knew I was going to enjoy the book but I just never got around to reading it. With the movie coming out this winter, I knew I wanted to get the book read first, and I'm very glad I did. I'm going to do my best not to spoil anything, but some of it can't be helped.

This is the second book I've read this year where the main character was dead. I don't think this will be a huge trend as the book has to be pretty well written for it to make sense. Fortunately, this book was. We are introduced to Susie Salmon as a living fourteen year old. Within a few pages, she is looking at earth from her Heaven and that's when we really get to know her and her family.

The book is not about solving the mystery of her death, we know who did it from the start. The story is about Susie's family and how they cope with her death. Without a body, her parents must find closure without proof. The author did an amazing job of making each character real. We get to follow the lives of both of her parents, her sister, her brother, her boyfriend, and a girl who was not yet a friend but became one even after Susie's death.

The Lovely Bones is a wonderful book and with Peter Jackson directing the movie, I think it will be great as well. I recommend that you all read this before seeing the movie.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - Sept 15

Today's teaser is from The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. In this scene, Jack is crazed with anger after a horrible tragedy in his family. I don't want to give anything away but it's very powerful. I'll be reviewing the book tomorrow. I really loved it.

From page 139:

He ran blind into her and knocked her down in the darkness. Her screaming filled his ear and poured into the empty spaces, ricocheting inside of him.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Musing Mondays - Sept 14

Musing Mondays (BIG) Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading trends…

Do you find yourself forming trends in your reading? Is this a conscious act, influenced by either your own interests or current publishing fads?

I would have to say that my reading this year has been quite eclectic and I'm very happy about that. My attempts to do the A to Z Challenge and New Author Challenge have led me to read books that I probably wouldn't have bothered to get to for a while. My participation in early reviewers' programs has also brought me some unique and different books.

In the past, I have definitely been sucked into trends. I went through a historical romance phase for a couple of years but eventually moved away from that. A couple of years ago I read several books about the Tudors and I still have a few on my shelves to read.

My tendencies are to find an author I like and read everything he or she has ever written. I used to focus so much on the authors I knew that I missed out on other wonderful books. I've moved away from that the last couple of years and this year I think I broke myself of that habit. I'll still keep reading my favorite authors but I spread them out.

Interesting question this week and I'll have to keep thinking about it. My future reading looks even more random as I've developed quite a system for choosing books in 2009. Time will tell if it works out. . .

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Zel by Donna Jo Napoli

Zel, by Donna Jo Napoli, is a re-telling of the classic fairytale, Rapunzel. I admit that when I started reading Zel, I expected a light fluffy story. I also admit that it had been a very long time since I've read the fairytale version. I should have refreshed my memory.

In Zel, Rapunzel is a young girl living a very happy life with Mother. She knows that Mother has a special gift with plants but she doesn't know the extent of her abilities or the reason she has the gift in the first place. When Zel meets a young count on one of her rare trips into the village, she expresses a desire to ultimately marry and have children of her own. Mother's fear of losing Zel is so great that she locks her in a tower. The story continues as Zel begins to lose her mind due to her confinement and lack of companionship. She is not aware that the count has been searching for her for years.

I didn't expect some of the darker elements of the story. There was a great deal of madness in Mother's attempts to protect her child and keep her with her forever. Zel's own madness is more understandable because of her circumstances. This morning I read Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky for comparison and recognize many of the same elements to the story. What Ms. Napoli does is expand on everything to give us an understanding into everything.

Zel is a wonderfully written novel length re-telling of the classic. While it is a children's book, I definitely recommend it for young teens or older. There are adult situations later in the story and it may bring up questions. I recommend it very highly and also encourage you to pick up another version of the story to make your own comparisons. Mr. Zelinsky's gorgeous book won the Caldecott Medal and his illustrations are stunning.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Sept 10

What’s the most informative book you’ve read recently?

Informative? I don't read a lot of educational stuff! I'm definitely a fiction girl. I would definitely say that Sacred Hearts was informative. I learned a great deal about the life of a cloistered nun in the 16th century! Julie and Julia was also informative in that I learned that I couldn't cook like Julia Child if my life depended on it.

Honestly, I learn a little bit about something from every book I read. I can go through my list of books read in 2009 and pick something from each book that added to my head full of random trivia. This is why I'm good at trivia games. I don't know enough about anything for it to be very useful but I do glean information every day.

As for books that are really useful, I read them when I need them. The truly informative books aren't that much fun for me and reading is definitely an escape for me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I don't know what I thought Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, was about but I had in my mind that it was some sort of supernatural story in which everyone turned pretty at the age of 16. I didn't expect a futuristic version of Earth. I found myself doubting if I would enjoy it as I'm not much of a science fiction fan when it comes to books. I persisted and found that the characters might have fancy futuristic gadgets, but that was about as technical as it got. The story is about life altering choices and friendship. It's heart is not in the technology of the future but about the human spirit that continues to live on even in a very changed world.

Tally Youngblood is a fifteen year old "ugly" who can't wait to become pretty on her sixteenth birthday. In this futuristic earth, prejudices are eliminated by forcing everyone to look similar, with flawless skin, toned bodies, and pretty symmetrical faces. Children grow up knowing that they will be pretty and most look forward to it. Tally's adventure begins when she meets Shay, another fifteen year old who isn't so sure that she wants to have the surgery. Tally learns some secrets behind the surgery to make everyone pretty. She is faced with her own doubts as to her future after meeting David and other uglies who have resisted the change.

After reading a few chapters of book, I found I could barely stand to put it down. There is romance, adventure, and everything else that a good story needs. I loved Tally's relationship with David and her sense of adventure, despite the somewhat sterile environment she grew up in. I can't wait to read the sequel, Pretties. The book is written for young adults and yet is completely intriguing for a "middle ugly" like me. I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays - Sept 8

I can't believe it's Tuesday again! Time for another teaser. This week's teaser comes from Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I had no idea what to expect from this book but I really enjoyed it a lot. I'll be posting my review tomorrow.

From page 206:

Tally was glad she hadn't activated the pendant yet. She could hardly sit here enjoying the Smokies' admiration if she'd just betrayed them all. She decided to wait until tonight, when she was alone, to do what she had to do.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Musing Mondays - Sept. 7

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about audio books…

What is your preferred method of listening to audio books? Where and when do you listen to them?

I have to confess that I don't love audio books. I have a hard time staying awake which is bad when trying to listen to them in a car. They are like a bedtime story and make me want to close my eyes.

I once drove by myself from Denver to Las Vegas. It was a good 10 hour drive and I picked up an audio book to listen to on my way. This was back in the day of cassette tapes and every tape or so I'd have to stop and put on music to wake me up again. It was just not a good thing.

I'm willing to give them another try some day but it would have to be under the right circumstances. In most cases I'd rather read the book.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Sept. 3

Today's topic is:

What’s the biggest book you’ve read recently?

(Feel free to think “big” as size, or as popularity, or in any other way you care to interpret.)

I'm going to go with "big" as size. . .

I think The Host was the biggest I've read as far as size goes. It was a big one. A good one but a big one. Eragon was big too. I don't usually go by size when it comes to picking out books but I will say it's always a bit of a relief to pick up a small little novel after reading a monster.

Short and sweet answer today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I've got a good book to review for you today! Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, is a great new young adult book. At first glance I expected to compare it to Twilight. A mysterious biology partner, danger, romance. Sound familiar? Once you get going, it won't. Hush, Hush is a slightly supernatural thriller that is still based in the real world. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

Nora is a high school student who lives a fairly normal life. She is very independent as her mother works away from home a great deal. Her father was murdered a year before the story starts. When she is paired with the mysterious Patch in her biology class, she is immediately torn between interest and fear. When Nora starts experiencing unexplained threats on her life, she finds herself turning to Patch, even though she suspects he is behind some of it. As the pieces fall into place she discovers that the reality of Patch is far beyond what she could have ever expected.

Once the action starts, the book moves very quickly. I wanted to keep turning the page to find out who or what exactly Patch was and who wanted to kill her. I found the truth to be very intriguing and different from other subjects I've read before. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action, romance and a bit of supernatural mystery. As it's written for young adults, it is appropriate for teens and up. Enjoy!

Hush, Hush is set to release in October.

Teaser Tuesday - Sept. 1

Today's teaser is from the book Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. This is a book that has completely sucked me in. I've even been going to bed early so I could read! I'm almost done and I'm hoping for some answers to all the questions I've got.

From page 136:

I saw a hooded figure step back under a shadowed awning across the street. Freshly unsettled, I stood immobile for a whole minute before I pulled myself together and went to find Vee.

Musing Mondays - August 31

Musing Mondays (BIG) Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about books for children…

Do you buy books as gifts for children – either your own or those of friends or family? Would you buy books for all children, or only children who are already practiced readers?

I'm a little late with my answer this week but it's a good question so I'll give it a shot. . . I do buy books for children. I have three young children in my life (niece, Goddaughter, BFF's son) and I do try to buy them books. I'm not sure how much they are appreciated but I do know that I'll keep buying them.

One thing I was taught in my early childhood education classes was that it was better to have a few really good books than a lot of "just ok" books in a child's library. I think this is probably true. There are picture books that have stood the test of time and every child should own them.

As the kids get older (the two girls are in Kindergarten this year), I hope I can share my love of reading with them, even from a distance.