Thursday, May 28, 2009

BTT: Wish I hadn't have read that...

This week's question:

In the perfect follow-up to last week’s question, as suggested by C in DC:
Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?

This is a tough question! But, I've thought about it long and hard, and I don't think that there is a book that I look back on and say "I wish I hadn't have read that!" I mean, sure, I've read some not so great books (like The Shack comes to mind) but I usually get something out of them or at least am able to have a conversation with someone about it discussing why we did or didn't like a particular book. Also, very recently (as in yesterday), I wished that I hadn't have read the epilogue to The Host because I thought that it would have been better without it, but I still enjoyed the book as a whole.

I guess if there ever is a book that I really wish that I hadn't have read, I would probably quit reading it before I get to the end! Life is just too short to read bad books!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Review and a Song: The Host

The Host
by Stephanie Meyer

613 pages

I would never have picked up this book if Stephanie Meyer hadn't written the Twilight books. It wouldn't normally be my cup of tea...but I kind of enjoyed it.

The Host takes place in generic-time (probably sometime in the 21st century) USA. Aliens, known as souls, have pretty much taken over the Earth by inserting themselves into humans which are their host creatures. Souls are silver, plasma-like ribbon creatures which are inserted into the back of a human's neck (along the spinal cord) and they make connections into their host's brain. They retain all of their host's memories and some even keep their host's name, but the person who was there before is gone...usually. Since souls have taken over the Earth, it's become a more peaceful place. Souls don't want there to be violence, are incapable of lying, and are actually pretty boring. Most normal humans have been taken over by a soul, while some renegades still hide out, trying to avoid getting caught and being taken over by a "parasite."

In The Host, we follow a very particular soul named Wanderer (since she's lived 8 different life-times on 8 different planets while most souls only live one or two then stay in one place), gets inserted into a human who was discovered by Seekers (souls whose calling is to basically be a bounty hunter) and attempted to kill herself rather than be caught. Since this human, Melanie, had been surviving so long and was so against being taken over by a soul, she did not give in once Wanderer had been placed in her. Wanderer has to deal with having another voice in her head and soon realizes that she sympathizes with Melanie and that she cares about Melanie's family as if they were her own.

Once Wanderer figures out that she likes and trusts Melanie (and that the feeling is mutual), she finds a way to lose her seeker and treks out to find Melanie's love, Jared, and brother, Jamie, by clues given by Melanie's crazy uncle Jeb. Jeb finds her in the desert and takes her back to their renegade headquarters inside a mountain filled with lava tubes where 36 humans live. Of course, no one trusts Wanderer and some try to kill her and Jared hates her and much drama ensues....but then people begin to change their minds because Wanderer is just so NICE. One of the humans, Ian, falls in love with her. Jamie loves both Wanderer and his sister because he knows they are both in there. And Jared is just torn because it's his true love's body, and while the person in control is nice and everything, he wants Mel back.

In the end, Wanderer has to decide whether she wants to continue inhabiting Mel's body or sacrifice herself so Mel can return to her family. When I got to the end of the last chapter, wow, it was just this wonderfully perfect bittersweet ending. I was happy for some and oh-so-sad for others, but it was really how this story needed to end. Then Stephanie Meyer, in her true fashion, has to go and add on an epilogue which easily could have had "and they all lived happily ever after" as the last line. Why!!??! Why does Stephanie Meyer feel the need to make every ending so freakin' happy? Don't get me wrong, I like some warm fuzzies every once in a while but seriously, the book would have been GREAT without the epilogue! oh well. I'm docking a star for that cheese ball epilogue.

7.5 out of 10. It was an interesting read for sure, I just wish I would have stopped before the epilogue.

Now, in order to receive 25 points toward the Nest Book Club Spring Book Challenge, I have to think of a song that this book reminded me of, revise the lyrics, and come up with a Haiku. This part was easy because I couldn't get OAR's song The Wanderer out of my head throughout the WHOLE book! Maybe because I had just had that CD in the week before? I dunno. But literally, all day...In.My.Head. So here it is with some revised lyrics:

Down the road there was a girl walking, walking
Knapsack round her back the soul’s talking, talking
And her rental car has run out of gas, but it no matter cause the girl’s on the run

Needs sunglasses for her shining eyes, girl never had nowhere to run when they were found, now found
So she walked along to lava tubes, wanted to find Mel’s long lost love
But no

She's the wanderer looking for her long lost home
She's only got one place to go
She's wandering and wondering when to go home
She's not alone, not alone, not alone

Soul’s been hosted for a thousand years, trying to drive away those fears, but no
Well then she picked up and then she went down south
Jared said nothing and Jamie shut his mouth
Well, she never thought too much, just thought she could bring them around
For Mel needed help and Ian love
And when love came around I heard the sound
Wanderers wandering all round the town
But no, they go

She's the wanderer looking for her long lost home
She's only got one place to go
She's wandering and wondering when to go home
She's not alone, not alone, not alone
Hey, she's the wanderer looking for her long lost home
She's only got one fine place to go
She's wandering wondering when to go home
She's not alone, not alone, not alone

She wan wan wandered along, made new friends and she helped them along
She won won won the war, helped out her friends and they found there were more

And now, a Haiku:

Mel and Wanderer
In the same body both love
Jared and Ian.

And thus commences the longest post ever! *curtsy*

Teaser Tuesday and Memorial Day make-up

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please, no spoilers!!!

"And here was the message: the head hung separately, the body parts stacked on my ice tray, and that damned mirror again. Combined with the total lack of interest in everything else in the apartment, it all added up to only one thing.

But what?"

page 129 of Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Such a good TV show and so far, the book is really good too! I highly suggest both. Review for this one should be up sometime tomorrow since I'm sure I'll finish it tonight.

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about gift certificates…

Do you give gift certificates to book stores as presents? If so, do you give for actual stores or online stores? Do you like to receive them yourself?

I like to give book store gift certificates for presents to people that I know like books, but I don't necessarily know what they've read or would like to read. My husband and I actually gave Barnes and Noble gift cards to our host couple (an aunt and uncle) because we knew that they both like to read quite a bit, and we didn't know what restaurants they had near them, so a restaurant gift card was out. Barnes and Noble is my default gift card to get for a gift since they are pretty much everywhere (there's no Borders here, the closest is an hour away) and if there isn't a B&N around, you can also use it online. Their shipping rates are pretty reasonable as well. Oh, and if I do get someone an actual book as a gift, I almost always get that at B&N as well, and include a gift receipt just in case.

I absolutely LOVE getting bookstore gift cards. I definitely try to use them to get something that I wouldn't normally get for myself, like a hardcover book that I've been waiting for to come out or a couple of paperbacks that I could get from the library, but really want to OWN! The next bookstore gift card I get, I'll be using it to get The Outlandish Companion. Hopefully I get one soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Book Review: The Lace Reader

The Lace Reader
By Brunonia Barry
385 pages

Oh, Brunonia, you have a strange, strange name and perhaps an even stranger story. But I like it. I picked up this book because it was the chosen one for this month at the township library book club (which I've been wanting to join last month, but I completely missed the meeting in April). I made it this month though! And what a fine group of ladies...I'll come back to them...let's talk about the book first.

The first lines of the book draws you right into the story:

My name is Towner Whitney. No, that's not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time.

This opening paragraph ends up being SO important to the story because by the end, most of it is a lie. Towner grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, where her Aunt Eva lived, and just off the coast of Salem on Yellow Dog Island, where her mother May and Aunt Emma lived and worked a shelter for battered women and children. All the Whitney women were Seers, or psychics who could read the future in a piece of lace. She spent her life going between the her Aunt Eva's place in Salem and Yellow Dog Island, but when her twin sister committed suicide and her Aunt Emma's husband, Cal, beat Emma so badly that she ended up brain damaged, Towner ended up in the psychiatric hospital and opted to undergo shock therapy. Once released, she opted to get as far away from Salem as she could and headed off to California. She then returned to Salem when she found out that her Aunt Eva was missing. Towner was forced to remember the past and see the future once again, which she had been trying so hard not to do.

The ending of this book hits you like a ton of bricks. I never saw it coming!! Of course, looking back, I realize that there were little clues all the way through the book. This would be a good one to reread knowing the ending because you could pick up on all the little pieces that you missed the first time around.

This was a really fun book for a book club. Everyone had different opinions about it and being able to discuss everything that happened in this book in particular helped to piece it all together. I walked into book club really liking this book, and I walked out liking it even more because everything that didn't make sense before, suddenly made a lot more sense. Everyone seemed to pick up different tidbits of info from throughout the story and it really made everything come together nicely. I'm definitely going to be going to this book club next month and not just because there are cookies (really good cookies at that) but because it was really fun, and the next book is Persepolis, which is a graphic novel and I've been wanting to try out reading a graphic novel for a while now.

So The Lace Reader gets an 8.5 out of 10 from me. It was exciting, thought provoking, and had a lot of twists and turns that really had me guessing.

BTT: A Second First Time

I've been totally slacking in blog-world lately (but really doing a lot around work and the house!) so I'm going to do this week's BTT and last week's just to make up a little :)

5/21/09: What book would you love to be able to read again for the first time?

This one's kind of a tough question! One obvious one would be To Kill a Mockingbird. It is just such a fantastic book that I'd love to be able to read it for the first time again, not knowing how it was going to end. I'd also like to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time again because I was young and innocent, and saw it for an awesome adventure, not for all the symbolism. More recently, I would love to be able to read Outlander for the first time once again. The main characters, Jamie and Claire, just pull you into the story and I'd like to experience falling in love with them all over again! (Lucky for me I still have books 4, 5, 6 left to read!!)

5/14/09: Book Gluttony! Are your eyes bigger than your book belly? Do you have a habit of buying up books far quicker than you could possibly read them? Have you had to curb your book buying habits until you can catch up with yourself? Or are you a controlled buyer, only purchasing books when you have run out of things to read?

Ugh, yes! A thousand times yes! I have so many books piled up around the house that I'm excited to read but there's only so much time in the day. And lately, that reading time has been less and less since the weather has been nice enough to do some work to the outside of our house. I have a really bad habit of buying new books when I find ones at book sales, garage sales, or the bargain section of the bookstore. Just last week I had an extra 15% off coupon for B&N and of course I couldn't let that go to waste! (even though my husband was sitting there going "Don't you have enough books to read???")

I have really been trying to curb the book buying for a while so I can get a little more caught up on the books that I have, but then PBS is there saying that books are available from my wishlist and I have 8 credits just burning a whole in my pocket! Oh, what's a girl to do!? Maybe I could quit my job and read for a living?? haha...well, maybe not...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Lace Reader

  • Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser for today:

I don't want to tell her about the voices.
"She knew I was coming," I say. "I'm pretty sure."
Ann considers. "Well," she says, "Eva was a reader. She knew a lot of things, didn't she?"
From page 213 of The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry.

**Don't forget about my book giveaway!**

Monday, May 11, 2009

A week late-a review and giveaway!

So I was supposed to post this LAST Monday, but unfortunately life got in the way and I didn't even finish this book until late, late Saturday night (as in two days ago). I don't remember the last time it took me that long to finish a book that was just over 300 pages! But this past week was so busy that I went two, three days in a row without reading! That's just unheard of for me. But, without further ado, here's my review:

Enduring Justice
by Amy Wallace
313 pages

Official Summary:
In Enduring Justice, Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret has remained buried for over two decades. But when the dark shadows of her past threaten to destroy those she loves, Hanna must face the summer that changed her life and the man who still haunts her thoughts.

Crimes Against Children FBI Agent, Michael Parker knows what it means to get knocked down. And when the system fails and a white supremacist is set free, Michael’s drive for retribution eclipses all else.

A racist’s well-planned assault forces Hanna and Michael to decide between executing vengeance and pursuing justice. When the attack turns personal, is healing still possible?

This thought-provoking novel deals with healing from sexual abuse, the balance of justice and mercy, and maintaining mixed-race friendships in the midst of racial tension. Readers who enjoy investigative thrillers by Dee Henderson, Colleen Coble, and Catherine Coulter, and who watch crime dramas like Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, and Without a Trace will love this book—and the entire series.

My thoughts:

This book definitely had a lot going on. There was a lot of action, some technical FBI-style jargon to keep it real, and a lot of emotion coming from the characters. The characters themselves, well first, there were a LOT of them. Lots and lots of characters which I think would have been much easier to keep track of if I would have been able to read this book in a few days, rather than over an expanse of 7 or 8. But it was fairly easy to get them all straight again once I got back into it.

Different sections of the book were written in the point of view of three of the major characters. This was kind of interesting because you got the POV of Hannah, the woman surrounded by FBI guys her whole life who gets the sacrifices they make for the job, but who can't quite understand why, Michael, the FBI guy just trying to find some justice in the world, and Sean, the white supremacist. Switching the POVs ended up being a really good tool for Amy Wallace to use to create several different story lines, get the reader invested into each one, then bring them together at the end.

I felt like the back story to the characters was really important, but very slow to come out. I think that I would have liked to have known more about the past of the three main characters in larger chunks. For example, Sean kept referring to his father and finishing what he had started but then you'd only get a little snippet of what his father had done, then maybe another little snippet a couple chapters later. The same went for Hannah and Michael's past relationship, how they met, and what had happened between them. I feel like I would have liked to know MORE! But, regardless, I did find myself really rooting for Hannah and Michael, and hoping the Sean got caught sooner rather than later.

What I didn't know when I read the summary of this book was that there was going to be a Christian theme to it, which is something that I really don't normally read. I lot of times, I feel like they can tend to get a little preachy. But, this one really wasn't at all. There were several mentions of God, and praying, but it was pretty much all things that I could expect in any storyline involving a character dealing with the intense stuff in this book. So, it ended up being a good reminder of how difficult it can sometimes be to "keep the faith" and believe that everything will come out right and that justice will prevail, and sometimes things are just out of your own hands. It definitely didn't come off as preachy, and really most of what was mentioned could be applied to any religious background since you don't have to be any particular religion to have faith or pray that things will work out. (I guess the only exceptions in this book being a mention of a christian singer and Veggietales, but hey, can't blame someone for a pop-culture reference).

Overall, I'd give this book 7 out of 10 stars. I know there are certain people that I would recommend it to, and others that I probably won't. But, it was a good read especially if you are into to crime-FBI style dramas.

Now, I'm giving away a copy of the book Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace! Just leave a comment for this post for one entry, follow this blog for an extra entry, or blog about this giveaway in your blog for another entry (please post extra entries in the comments as well)! Contest ends Friday at 4pm EST. Thanks all!!

And if you don't win the book, you can find it here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bad Blogger Reading Recap

Hey! I'm alive!!! I haven't posted reviews in SO long and have been a bad, bad book blogger, but I hope to get back on track this week with these two catch-up reviews today, a catch-up Musing Mondays in a few minutes, and another review (and giveaway!) later this week! So, watch out for that, since it's my first. :) ooooh, I'm a giveaway virgin! Anyways, on to the reviewin'.

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
203 pages
Juvenile Fiction

I first read this book when I was in 6th grade and I HATED it. Ugh, I can still remember the angst of having to talk about this book and right a report on it when I just loathed it. I don't remember what I was interested in reading at that time in my life, but this book definitely wasn't it. So, when the challenge category of reading a book with The Nest Book Club and participate in the monthly discussion came up, and this was the chosen April book, I for some reason decided that it would be a good idea to read it again because there's a chance that I was just an angst-filled 6th grader who didn't see the wonderful qualities in this book...but then again, it really could just not be my cup of tea.

Unfortunately, it ended up being the latter. I guess that I didn't really hate it as much as my 6th grade self did, but I definitely didn't enjoy it. And, if I would have remembered the ending more clearly, I probably wouldn't have finished it this time around. But, I stuck with it, and was still pretty unimpressed.

The story begins with Meg, a typical, awkward 14 year old girl whose parents are scientists and little brother is "weird" but really is some ahead-of-our-time genius. Meg does poorly in school, even though she's really quite bright, and basically complains a lot about how she's a misfit, awkward, etc. Meg's father has been gone for a few years now doing some top-secret science thing and Meg complains about missing him a lot too. One night, her little brother meets a weird lady named Mrs. Whatsit, and her friends Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. The three Mrs. tesser (AKA travel through physical space very quickly) Meg and her brother to another planet which is being overrun with evil (a dark cloud around the planet) to find and save her father. Evil-ness occurs, Meg whines, Father is saved, and everyone arrives back at home without making a very big impact on the huge evil.

The one good part about reading this as an adult would be that now I know why I don't care for it. First, I just wasn't interested in Meg figuring things out and defeating evil. I was annoyed by her character's seemingly constant whining and complaining about things that she could change if she just put a little work and effort into it. The other thing that kind of bothered me was that this was a very sci-fi themed book with references to mind reading and control, time and space warping, and rearranging particles yet there were several references to God not just by the Earth people, but by the creatures from other planets. To me, this just didn't really fit because it was basically insinuating that everyone has the same God, when even solely here on Earth, that isn't necessarily the case. The religious God references just didn't quite seem to fit into the theme of the book, in my opinion. I would read a line mentioning religion or God and just think to myself, "huh, that seemed a little out of left field..."

So, I have to give A Wrinkle in Time redo a 4 out of 10. I didn't like it (again) but I'm pretty sure that my sixth grade self would have given it a 0 or 1, so it's a slight improvement over that. I just hope that my someday children won't have to read it...there's definitely better things out there.

Book 3 of the Outlander Series
by Diana Gabaldon
870 pages

Ahhhhh, now THIS is more like it!!! After dragging myself through A Wrinkle in Time, a bit of time with Claire and Jamie was JUST what I needed. Voyager picks up where Dragonfly In Amber leaves off. Claire is in Scotland with her daughter, Brianna, and has just discovered that Jamie did not die in the battle at Culloden. She decides that she will find where he ended up with the help of Bree and Roger, and may be able to return to him. The first part of the book alternates between Claire talking about their research to find Jamie's whereabouts after the battle and Jamie actually getting away from the battle alive and what all he is going through. I loved this part because I just ACHED for the both of them. I mean, Jamie knew that Claire was gone and really, he wanted to die at that battle, he really was planning on dying! So they are both just going through life knowing that they will never see their true love again. So. Sad.

Anyways, Claire finally finds where Jamie is at approximately 1768 (since the rocks took her back almost 200 years exactly) and decides to go and find him. I stayed up until well past my bedtime reading this section because I just had to see them reunited!!! And, I almost squee'd out loud when Claire walked into his printing shop and he FAINTED at the sight of her (and I would have squee'd had my husband not been next to me sleeping). Ah, true love! Reunited! And it feels SO good! but of course, the good cannot last because Jamie is always into something not-quite-legal...and this causes Claire to accept Jamie as the man he is now, for the sake of the man she once knew and they embark on a crazy adventure from Scotland all the way to West Indies.

Throughout it all there's love, passion, adventure, and a bit of humor and I just can't get enough! 10 out of 10 stars. Better than Dragonfly in Amber by a smidgen since the newlywed type passion was back.