"Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. ...And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything."

~ Edward Cullen

Friday, December 31, 2010

Memorable Memoirs Reading Challenge 2011

Melissa @ The Betty and Boo Chronicles is hosting this challenge for the second year in a row. Melissa states:

About the Challenge: If you enjoy reading memoirs or really haven't explored them as much as you'd like to, then this is the challenge for you. Anything that in your mind qualifies as a memoir will meet the challenge requirements. Letters, diaries, autobiographies, books on writing memoirs ... in my book, they all count as Memorable Memoirs. Books, e-books, audiobooks are all fine.

Dates: January 1 - December 31, 2011. You can sign up anytime from now and throughout 2011, but don't start reading until January 1, 2011.

Requirements: It's up to you! I want this to be a fun and low-key challenge, yet one that will be worthwhile of your valuable reading time. If that means reading one memoir, that's great. If that means reading three dozen, even better. You decide what works for you. Overlaps with other challenges are more than fine ... even encouraged. :)

Write a post (or include your intention to participate in this along with other challenges) on your blog (if you don't have a blog, you can just leave a comment). Tell us how many Memorable Memoirs you're planning on reading. You don't need to list your books in advance, but if you want to, we'd love to see which ones you're thinking about. You can always change them later. (I'll create a list of possibilities based on some of my own memoir reading and that which participants did last year.)

For this challenge I would like to read ten memoirs.  I'm not sure if I'll get through all of them, but I have so many ones that sound amazing on my shelves that I couldn't pass them up.  Here's the list:
  1. The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
  2. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch
  4. A Girl Names Zippy - Havien Kimmel
  5. The Color of Water - James McBride
  6. Dewey - Vicki Myron
  7. The Tender Bar - JR Moehringer
  8. Falling Leaves - Adeline Yen Mah
  9. Stolen Lives - Malika Oufkir
  10. Breath, Eyes, Memory - Edwidge Danticat

Romance Reading Challenge 2011

Romance has never been a genre that I've really been tempted with but this is the year I'm expanding my horizons.  Therefore, I'm giving the romance challenge a try.  This challenge is hosted at The Bookworm.

1. "Romance" isn't limited to steamy Harlequin novels. There is a huge selection of books in this category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between the two main characters your selection will fit this challenge. The novels do not need to have a happy ending either, there can also be unrequited love.

2. Choose at least 5 novels to read. You can change your choices at any time. Crossovers between other challenges are fine.
3. Read them at your own pace in 2011 then post the link to your review(s).

My book choices for 2011 include:
  • Forgive My Fins: Tera Lynn Childs
  • Chain Reaction: Simone Elkeles
  • Welcome to the Great Mysterious - Lorna Landvik
  • The Juliet Spell - Douglas Rees
  • But I Love Him - Amanda Grace

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cruisin' Thru the Cozies Challenge 2011

I love cozie mysteries but never take the time to read them.  This challenge gives me a good excuse to pick them up!  The rules are simple:

1. Choose the level you wish to participate:
  • Level 1 - Snoop - Read 1-6 books
  • Level 2 - Investigator - Reading 7-12 books
  • Level 3 - Super Sleuth - Read 13 or more books
2. The challenge runs from January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011.

3. You don't have to choose your books in advance. If you do, you can change your list at any time during the year. Books can overlap with other challenges.

4. Books can be in any format - paper, audio, ebooks...it all counts!

5. You don't have to post a review, but I'm sure others would love to know about the books you are reading and may even want to add it to their reading lists.

This challenge is hosted by Socrates' Book Reviews and can be found here.

I'm excited to tell about the books I have picked out for this challenge.  I'm going to do level number 3 for Super Sleuth and read 13 or more books!  I'll start by picking 13:

  1. The Poyson Garden - Karen Harper (crossover)
  2. Jane and the Unpleasantness of Scargrave Manor - Stephanie Barron (crossover)
  3. Last Writes - Laura Levine (crossover)
  4. Murder on the Menu - Miranda Bliss (crossover)
  5. Candy Apple Dead - Sammi Carter
  6. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death - M.C. Beaton
  7. Killer Hair - Ellen Byerrum
  8. Mistletoe Murder - Leslie Meier
  9. Shop till You Drop - Elaine Viets
  10. Death by Darjeeling - Laura Childs
  11. Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye - Victoria Laurie
  12. How to Murder a Millionaire - Nancy Martin
  13. Sit, Stay, Slay - Linda O Johnston

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What's in a Name Challenge 2011

This challenge is pretty exciting and I'm looking forward to using it to help clear the TBR in a creative way.  Hosted by Beth @ Beth Fish Reads, the What's in a Name Challenge challenges readers to read six books each in a different category:
  1. A book with a number in the title
  2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title
  3. A book with a size in the title
  4. A book with travel or movement in the title
  5. A book with evil in the title
  6.  A book with a life stage in the title
This challenge was super hard to find books for (at least for me it was!) but I managed to find them all on my TBR shelves:
  • Number - 1st to Die: James Patterson
  • Gem - Ruby Red: Krysten Gier
  • Size - Sarah, Plain and Tall: Patricia Maclachlan
  • Travel/Movement - If I Stay: Gail Forman
  • Evil - Fearscape: Simon Holt
  • Life Stage - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: Ransom Riggs

Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge 2011

I'm really looking forward to this challenge in 2011.  Mystery and suspense is a genre that I used to read exclusively.  I think I burned myself out on it, but I'm looking forward to digging into it again.  This challenge is hosted by Book Chick City (you can sign up there!).  The goal is to read 12 mystery or suspense books over the course of 2011.  You can read more if you want to, and you don't have to list your books ahead of time.  Of course, I'm going to make a tentative list, but it is definitely subject to change.  I have a few crossovers from other challenges too which makes this even better!!
  1. Darkly Dream Dexter: Jeff Lindsay
  2. Pretty Little Liars: Sara Shepard
  3. 1st to Die: James Patterson
I just can't wait until Saturday to start all these great sounding books!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2nds Challenge 2011

This is another challenge that I'm excited about. I have a horrible habit of reading one book in a series and then stopping, failing to pick up the second book. I have so many series where I've read the first book and never went any farther. This should push me to do so (however, I'm pretty sure I'll have to re-read the first one as a refresher!!).  This challenge is hosted by Katy @ A Few More Pages.
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. If you're not a blogger, leave your information in the comments.

2. There are four levels to choose from in this challenge:

  • Just a spoonful - Read 3 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
  • A few more bites - Read 6 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
  • A full plate - Read 12 books that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
  • All you can eat - Read 20 books (or more) that are 2nd in a series or the second time you've read the author.
You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you. Any genre counts.

3. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2011. Don't start reading until January.

I'll be reading 6 books for this challenge also, all the 2nd in a series:
  1. The Darkest Kiss - Gena Showalter (Lords of the Underworld)
  2. Murder on the Menu - Miranda Bliss (A Cooking Class Mystery)
  3. Night Pleasures - Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunter Series)
  4. Last Writes - Laura Levine (Jaine Austen Mystery)
  5. California Demon - Julie Kenner (Demon Hunting Soccer Mom)
  6. Frost Bite - Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy)

1st in a Series Challenge 2011

I'm super excited about this challenge and have so many series I'd love to start in the coming year (I also have a few hundred I'd like to finish but that's an entire different story in itself!).  This blog is hosted by Katy @ A Few More Pages.

The rules for this challenge are simple:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. If you're not a blogger, leave your information in the comments.

2. There are four levels for this challenge:
  • Series Novice: Read 3 books that are the first in any series.
  • Series Lover: Read 6 books that are the first in any series.  
  • Series Expert: Read 12 books that are the first in any series.
  • Series Fanatic: Read 20 books that are the first in any series.
You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you. Any genre counts.

3. The challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2011.

4. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2011.

 I'm going to join at Level 2 and attempt to read the first book in SIX different series.  I like to plan ahead so I already have my list but it is definitely subject to changes:

1. Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
2. Hearts at Stake - Alyxandra Harvey
3. Ruby Red - Krysten Gier
4. Forgive My Fins - Tera Lynn Childs
5. The Iron King - Julie Kagawa
6. Firespell - Chloe Neill


What are you reading (23)?

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event now hosted by One Persons Journey Through a World Of Books. It's helpful way to take a look at what you have read and what you want to read!

It's been a few weeks since a last posted.  Life has been busy busy busy!!  The holidays were wonderful but draining.  I'm now 34 weeks pregnant with less than 6 weeks to go...I'm miserable.  I know longer remember what it feels like to sleep for eight hours straight without getting up to go to the bathroom four times a night.  Plus, I've watched so much late night TV because I can't sleep I'm pretty sure I'm going to turn into an infomerical. 

As for baby, I'm giving birth to a large ham :).  We went for another ultrasound on Wednesday and baby was measuring at 36 weeks and 6 days...3 weeks ahead of schedule.  He's 6 lbs 9 oz according to the ultrasound and growing rapidly.  The doctors are thinking C-Section if he continues to grow because they worry about crushing his shoulders as he travels through the birth canal.  I've been having Braxton Hicks on and off all weekend, and some cramping.  I'm not sure if I'll make it long enough for a C Section...lol :)  I also passed my 3 hour glucose test so no gestational diabetes for me...yay!!!

I'm ready to have this baby and looking forward to the new year.  I'm looking at different challenges, none of which I'll probably complete with a newborn but its still exciting.  There's so many motivational ones out there, and I have so many books I can't wait to read!

As for these past few weeks, I read one book in between the Christmas shopping and family visiting.  I finished Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot which I loved, and I've been working on Size 14 is Not Fat Either.  I haven't read a lot of Meg Cabot and I'm really enjoying her!

I'm not making any reading goals for the next week, because I don't know what the week holds!  Happy reading everyone and enjoy your new year!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

What are you reading (22)?

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event now hosted by One Persons Journey Through a World Of Books. It's helpful way to take a look at what you have read and what you want to read!

I'm sorry to say, I have yet to read or finish anything since my last "what are you reading post."  We've been super busy at work and by the time I get home, I barely have the energy to make dinner and clean up.  I spent most of this weekend hanging out on the couch watching Christmas movies and drinking hot chocolate. 

I feel HUGE right now, and I know it's only going to get worse.  The baby is big, weighing in around 4.5 lbs already, and I still have a little less than nine weeks to go.  I have a three hour glucose test tomorrow to confirm if I do or do not have gestational diabetes and then I go back to the OB/GYN on Monday the 13th.  I'm curious to see if they change my due date seeing as how big he is. 

I'm a bit behind on reviews, and I have several books started, I just don't seem to have the energy to finish them.  Good news is though, the nursery is completely finished, the baby's clothes are all washed, and my shower is done.  I've been working on thank you cards, and should hopefully finish up my Christmas shopping this week.  Maybe once all that is done, I can find the time and energy to read again!

This week, if the mood strikes, I'd like to finish up Lamb by Christopher Moore and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  I'm not going to make a lot of plans for anything else!

How is your reading week going?

Monday, November 22, 2010

What are you reading (21)?

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event now hosted by One Persons Journey Through a World Of Books. It's helpful way to take a look at what you have read and what you want to read!

I didn't get a chance to even post last week, my life has gotten so busy.  With the holidays approaching, I've been trying to get my Christmas shopping done so I don't have to waddle through huge crowds come December.  I'm almost finished, and know exactly what else I need to buy so it shouldn't take me much longer.  This week was especially busy for hubby and I.  We had our baptismal class for the baby, a birthday party, dinner with family, and then our baby shower was this past weekend.  It was amazing and turned out wonderfully.  We got a ton of gifts and almost all of the big stuff that we had registered for.  We couldn't be more thankful for the amazing friends and family that we have!  My mom is coming over next Monday to help me wash baby clothes and blankets and put everything away so the room is completely finished and we are ready for his arrival (and I'll definitely be ready...I'm completely miserable and now have legs that look like large tree trunks with the amount of water I am retaining!!)

So here's the run down of the books I read in the past two weeks.  Most of them I finished during the first week.  I didn't have a ton of reading time these past few days (click on the titles for link to review):
This coming week will be a busy one again.  I have a follow ultrasound on Wednesday.  The way the baby is laying is making it difficult to get really clear pictures of his heart.  He's being stubborn so I have to go to a specialist where they have "a really awesome ultrasound machine" according to the girl at my OBGYN's office.  The Drs are pretty sure he's laying breech so I'm hoping beyond hope that he decides to turn!  My brother is also home for the week, and we have a very busy Turkey Day but I'm looking forward to spending the day with family.

Here's my reading plans for the week (all titles linked to Goodreads):

Lamb by Christopher Moore - I started this one last night and so far its pretty humorous.

Audio of The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom - I started listening to this one on Friday at work and was almost sad to see five o clock come because I had to stop it.  It was absolutely amazing!!

Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen

Audio of The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon

That's my week.  What do you have planned?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Audio Review: Arcadia Falls

Title: Arcadia Falls
Author: Carol Goodman
Listening Time: 12 hrs and 37 mins
Rating: 4/5

In debt after her husband's unexpected death, Meg Rosenthal secures a job as a teacher at an upstate New York boarding school. Leaving suburban Long Island, Meg and her teenage daughter, Sally, embark on a new life in Arcadia Falls, a beautiful but isolated small town and the inspiration for a number of magically eerie fairy tales. With a hurtful rift growing between her and her daughter, Meg is hopeful that the change of scene will provide them with a fresh start. But it soon becomes clear to Meg that this isolated community hides deeply rooted and deadly secrets. And after a mysterious death, Arcadia Falls begins to reveal a disturbing dark side (Cover Blurb).

I borrowed this audio strictly for the cover.  I thought it was beautiful and gothic and really grabbed my attention.  I'm glad I went with the impulse, and thought this book was really spectacular. 

Arcadia is a small private art school that was started in the early 1900s by two women, Vera Beecher and Lily Eberhardt.  The two women were deeply devoted to each other, but each of their lives were shrouded and secrets and betrayal, especially Lilly Eberhardt.  In the present day, Meg Rosenthal comes to Arcadia after the death of her husband, which left her penniless and desperate.  After being offered a job to teach English, especially the history of fairy tales, Meg moves with her daughter Sally into the cottage of Vera Beecher and Lily Eberhardt and it is here where the mystery begins.

Soon after Meg's arrival, one of the students at Arcadia is found dead in the ravine, eerily mirroring the death of Lily Eberhardt so many years ago.  Troubled by the death, Meg begins to delve into the lives of Lily and Vera, finally finding the journal of Lily Eberhardt which has remained hidden for many years.  It is at this point that the novel begins to twist and turn, releasing secret after secret, keeping the reader on their toes.

Intertwined throughout the story, is the fairy tale of The Changling Girl originally written by Lily.  The story mirrors Lily's own journey and it's interesting to see how it fits in with her life.  One of my favorite aspects of this story was the mix between the past and present day.  Along with the changling story, we also were able to experience Lily's journal and travel with her through her struggles.  I loved the descriptions of her life and how everything happened.  There were a few times where my mouth just fell open as I pieced everything together.

I'm looking forward to reading more of Carol Goodman and hope that ther other books are half as good as Arcadia Falls!

Audio Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Title: The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Listening Time: 7 hrs and 1 min
Rating: 4.5/5

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew, she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor, Julia Winterson, bakes hope in the form of cakes, offering them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth—but also in the hope of rekindling a love she fears might be lost forever. Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in (sarahaddisonallen.com).

I was really excited when I saw this one available on the library's website and instantly added it to my cart.  I've been interest in reading something by Allen for a while, but always seem to be distracted by something else.  Audio books have allowed me to finally get to all the books I've been meaning to read!  I can't wait to go back and read Allen's backlist of Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen and she's definitely on my must by list now!

Allen's books fall under the genre of magical realism.  Set in the South, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, is a fast paced, moving story filled with lovable characters and bits of mysticism.  The Girl Who Chased the Moon focuses on two main characters - Emily and Julia.  Emily is a seventeen year old girl who has recently lost her mother.  She comes to Mulberry to live with the grandfather she never knew existed.  Julia fled Mulberry eighteen years ago, only to return after the death of her father.  Julia is running from her own secrets while Emily is just discovering those of her mother.

Intertwined throughout the story is a bevy of secondary characters all with their  own quirks.  These secondary characters where so well developed, that I wished there were more of them throughout the novel.  They helped bring a deep richness to the story that would have been lacking otherwise.  Along with great secondary characters, Allen intertwines descriptions of food that will make your mouth water (especially if you are six and a half months pregnant and always hungry)!  Julia's baked good sounded scrumptious and now I am craving BBQ.

I highly recommend this audio and can't wait to dive into the pages of more books by Sarah Addison Allen!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Audio Review: The Wife's Tale

Title: The Wife's Tale
Author: Lori Lansens
Listening Time: 11 hrs and 33 mins
Rating: 3/5

It’s the eve of her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and Mary Gooch is waiting for her husband, Jimmy, to come home. But Mary isn’t just waiting for Jimmy. She is waiting for a mother who accepts her, children she is unable to have, a life beyond the well-worn path from her bedroom to the refrigerator. Mary is waiting for her life to start.

As she waits for Jimmy, the night passes into day and it becomes clear that he isn’t coming home. A letter left in the mailbox confirms her worst fears and Mary is left alone to make a difficult decision. Should she break free from her inertia and salvage her marriage? Or is the pull of the familiarity of her home, the predictability of her daily routines, too strong to resist?

For the first time in her life, Mary decides to leave and boards a plane to California. She flies across the country in a desperate attempt to find her husband. The clothes, the marriage, the home that had given her a place to hide for so long are all gone. Mary soon finds that the bright sun and broad vistas of California force her to look up from the pavement, stop waiting and start living. What she finds when she does is an inner strength she’s never felt before. Through it all, Mary not only finds kindred spirits, but reunites with a more intimate stranger no longer sequestered by fear and habit: herself (randomhouse.com).

I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly how I feel about this book.  On one hand, I think parts of the book are a five star read.  On the other hand, I think parts of it are one star.  So I met in the middle and gave the book as a whole three stars.

One reason why I think I had such trouble with this book especially in the beginning was because I found Mary to be such a hard character to like and get to know.  Even at the end of the book, I still didn't have a deep fondness for her.  At times I found her existence to be almost sad, and I few times I viewed her as pathetic.  I had visions of slapping her a few times!!  Other times, I cheered her on as she fought again the "obeast" as she refers to her obesity and begain to find herself again after a lifetime of letting herself go.

I think the biggest struggle I had with this book was how easily it seemed that Mary was able to make friends, and ask so many people for help.  When Mary was home in Canada, she could barely go to the grocery store and talk to anyone, let alone ask a total stranger to help her.  When she came to the US, she was much more open and seemed to make friends almost easily.  I do believe that the author did this to show the audience how Mary was growing as an individual, coming out of her shell and opening up in the world.  I just had a hard time with how quickly things changed.

This is the first book I've read by Lori Lansens and I was a bit taken aback by the writing style.  For some reason, I thought it would be different.  Plus, a few of the scenes made me extremely uncomfortable, especially listening to them on audio at work.  I'm curious now to read The Girls and see how it compares to The Wife's Tale.  I will say, I find the description of the The Girls to be more entertaining than I found that for The Wife's Tale.  It seems like it might be more up my alley.  Despite being a bit "shocked" by some of the scenarios in the book (I think I'm turning into my mother...ahhh), I thought the writing was truly superb.  I also thought this was a beautifully presented audio that I enjoyed listening to.  That's one reason why I felt the book may have deserved a higher rating, but my dislike for the main character kept me from going above a three.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Lost and Found

Title: Lost and Found
Author: Jacqueline Sheehan
Pages: 278
Rating: 4/5

A poignant and unforgettable tale of love, loss, and moving on . . . with the help of one not-so-little dog

Rocky's husband Bob was just forty-two when she discovered him lying cold and lifeless on the bathroom floor . . . and Rocky's world changed forever. Quitting her job, chopping off all her hair, she leaves Massachusetts—reinventing her past and taking a job as Animal Control Warden on Peak's Island, a tiny speck off the coast of Maine and a million miles away from everything she's lost. She leaves her career as a psychologist behind, only to find friendship with a woman whose brain misfires in the most wonderful way and a young girl who is trying to disappear. Rocky, a quirky and fallible character, discovers the healing process to be agonizingly slow.

But then she meets Lloyd.

A large black Labrador retriever, Lloyd enters Rocky's world with a primitive arrow sticking out of his shoulder. And so begins a remarkable friendship between a wounded woman and a wounded, lovable beast. As the unraveling mystery of Lloyd's accident and missing owner leads Rocky to an archery instructor who draws her in even as she finds every reason to mistrust him, she discovers the life-altering revelation that grief can be transformed . . . and joy does exist in unexpected places (harpercollins.com).

I bought this book a few years ago based strickly on the cover.  I'm a sucker for any type of book that has to do with dogs and the black lab on the cover of this book is absolutely adorable.  However, like so many books it was pushed aside for other books that seemed to be more exciting, more interesting, or the it book of the moment.  When I was picking out my books to read this week from my TBR pile, this cover again caught my eye.  Once I read the description I was even more intrigued and moved it from the TBR pile to the I am reading now pile :)  I'm quite happy I did.

Rocky was a hard character to get to know, and it made the book a bit difficult to get into at first.  However, once I realized what her personality was like, and broke through the outer shell I flew through the rest of the pages.  Lost and Found is a book filled with grief, hope, tragedy and mystery.  All of these elements are molded together into one moving, beautiful story that pulled at my heart strings.  Of course my favorite character in the book was Lloyd, the beautiful, but injured, black lab that captures Rocky's heart.  There are three chapters in the book told from Lloyd's point of view and each chapter is more moving than the last.  It made me look at my two little doggies in a different light.  I only hope that they view me the way that Lloyd viewed Rocky.

I recommend this book to anyone who has a love for animals and is looking for a good strong story that will keep you turning pages long into the night.  I'll be looking for and definitely picking up Sheehan's newer book Now and Then in the coming weeks.  This is definitely a new "must read" author for me!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Audio Review: Viola in Reel Life

Title: Viola in Reel Life
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Listening Time: 6 hrs and 17 mins
Rating: 4.5/5

I'm marooned.


Left to rot in boarding school . . .

Viola doesn't want to go to boarding school, but somehow she ends up at an all-girls school in South Bend, Indiana, far, far away from her home in Brooklyn, New York. Now Viola is stuck for a whole year in the sherbet-colored sweater capital of the world.


There's no way Viola's going to survive the year—especially since she has to replace her best friend Andrew with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there. She resorts to viewing the world (and hiding) behind the lens of her video camera.

Boarding school, though, and her roommates and even the Midwest are nothing like she thought they would be, and soon Viola realizes she may be in for the most incredible year of her life.

But first she has to put the camera down and let the world in (harpercollins.com).

Viola in Reel Life is Trigiani's first novel written for the young adult audience, and I thought she did a wonderful job!  I was immediately captivated with Viola and I thought the premise of the novel was extremely fun.  Also, Trigiani's voice as a writer is amazing.  I could kick myself for waiting so long to read something by her.

My favorite character is Viola, our main character.  She's snarky and fun and her sarcastic manner is light hearted and helps keep the story moving at an even pace.  Viola is an only child whose parents are documentary film makers.  Because of a project they are working on, they send Viola to the Prefect Academy, a boarding school in South Bend, IN.  Viola is housed in a quad with three other girls.  Things are a bit rough in the beginning, but once everything works out, the girls find themselves as close as sisters.

One of the complaints that others have had about Viola in Reel Life was the language of the novel.  They found the dialogue to be too "young" for high school freshman.  I, on the other hand, found it to be refreshing (I must be getting old!).  I thought the dialogue fit the age group and flowed smoothly. 

This has been my favorite audio so far that I have listened to.  I adored the narrator, and felt she brought a real uniqueness to the story.

This is the first in a new series by Adriana Trigiani.  The next book, Viola in the Spotlight, comes out in April of 2011 and I'll definitely be grabbing it.  The cover is equally cute :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

What are you reading (20)?

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event now hosted by One Persons Journey Through a World Of Books. It's helpful way to take a look at what you have read and what you want to read!

This was an amazing reading week for me.  I enjoyed almost all that I read and listened to, and am quite enjoying November and its longer evenings.  There's a bit of a chill in the air, and the mornings are quite crisp.  I just don't think there's anything quite like snuggling up in my favorite chair on a chilly fall day and getting lost in a book!

Here's what I read and reviewed this week (click title for link to review):
I also watched and reviewed Masterpiece Theater's rendition of Jane Eyre.  My review is here.  I very much enjoyed it and think everyone should check it out, even if you've never read the book!

Here's what is on my reading list for this week:

The Alchemist's Daughter - Katherine McMahon --- This is a repeat from last week.

Audio of Viola in Reel Life - Adriana Trigiani --- I'm over half way finished with this one and really enjoying it!

Audio of The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens - I've heard really great things about this one

Lost and Found - Jacqueline Sheenan

Case Histories - Katie Atkinson

That's my week.  What do you have planned?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review: Second Honeymoon

Title: Second Honeymoon
Author: Joanna Trollope
Pages: 323
Rating: 4/5

"Ben is, at last, leaving home. At twenty-two, he's the youngest of the family. His mother Edie, an actor, is distraught. His father Russell, a theatrical agent, is rather hoping to get his wife back, after decades of family life. His brother, Matthew, is wrestling with a relationship in which he achieves and earns less than his girlfriend. His sister Rosa is wrestling with debt, and the end of a turbulent love affair." Meet the Boyd family and the empty nest, twenty-first-century style (goodreads.com).

This was a wonderfully written novel, filled with well thought out prose and insight.  I flew through the pages of this book, taking in the Boyd family, immersing myself in their lives, and traveling with them on this journey.  It was an extremely thoughtful and incredible ride.

Edie is a mom of three grown children.  Her youngest, Ben has just left home to share a flat with his girlfriend and her mother.  Edie is suffering greatly from "empty nest" syndrome much to the distress of her husband.  Russell, her husband, would like things to return to how they were at the beginning of their relationship when he had Edie all to himself.  I, obviously, have never had to deal with the empty nest.  However, I know how my mom struggled with it when both my brother and I moved out.  It took her months to be able to readjust to it just being her and dad again, and even now, five years later, she still cooks way too much food for two people!

Second Honeymoon is very much character driven and this is where Trollope excels.  Each character is presented with a distinct, but likeable personality.  Even the cat, Arsie, has a terrific personality and I loved the way that Trollope intertwined him throughout the story.  Each characters story is different, and each is struggling with their own problems and issues.  However, Trollope brings all these characters together and at the end all of their stories come together in a beautifully written conclusion.

This is the first book I have read by Joanna Trollope but she has quite a back list that I will be checking out in the future.  I enjoy books that really hit me in the core, and this was definitely one of them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Movie Review: Jane Eyre

Title: Jane Eyre
Collection: Masterpiece Theatre
Viewing Time: 228 minutes
Rating: 5/5

After a wretched childhood, orphaned Jane Eyre yearns for new experiences. She accepts a governess position at Thornfield Hall, where she tutors a lively French girl named Adele. She soon finds herself falling in love with the brooding master of the house - the passionate Mr. Rochester. Jane gradually wins his heart, but they must overcome the dark secrets of the past before they can find happiness. When Jane saves Rochester from an eerie fire, she begins to suspect that there are many mysteries behind the walls of Thornfield Hall. Her fears are confirmed when Rochester's secret past is revealed, destroying her chance for happiness, and forcing Jane to flee Thornfield. Penniless and hungry, she finds shelter and friendship in the shape of a kind clergyman and his family. But she is soon shocked to uncover the deeply hidden truth of her own past. This lavish and sensual new version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel is modern and moody, timeless and romantic. Starring Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester, Ruth Wilson as Jane, and Francesca Annis as Lady Ingram (amazon.com).

Jane Eyre has always been one of my favorite classic novels.  I first read it my freshman year of high school and try to re-read it every few years.  The first time I read the novel, I had a really hard go at it.  My mom suggested I see the movie first and maybe it would help me to better understand and enjoy the novel.  We rented the 1944 version starring Orson Wells and Jane Fontaine  and it has always remained my favorite rendition of the movie.  However, after discussing it with one of the girls at work, she gave me her Masterpiece Theater version to watch and I have to say that I absolutely loved it. 

Jane Eyre has it all.  It's a romance with a bit of mystery mixed in.  It has a huge creepiness surrounding the whole story.  It's Gothic and beautiful and the perfect movie for a cold and rainy fall day.

This adaptation of Jane Eyre focuses primary on Jane's relationship with Mr. Rochester, a relationship that tends to be brushed over sometimes, with many adaptations instead focusing on Jane's horrible and cruel childhood.  However, the essence of the story will always be the love story between these two main characters.  I can't say enough about Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson's performances as Jane and Mr. Rochester.  The chemistry that these two had on screen was absolutely marvelous and had me glued to the screen.  The love story between Mr Rochester and Jane Eyre is and will always be one of the most hauntingly romantic things I have ever seen or read.

If you have ever struggled with reading Jane Eyre or feel that it's not the novel for you, I'd suggest you give watching this movie a try.  It may just inspire you to pick up the novel.  I know that I'll be re-reading Jane Eyre again in the next few weeks.  There's nothing like losing yourself in the pages of the book, as you imagine yourself walking the hallowed halls of Thornfield.

Finally, I found myself extremely attracted to Mr Rochester in this movie.  The actor playing Mr Rochester is Toby Stephens, who is best known for his role in the 2002 Jame's Bond movie Die Another Day (which I have never seen and probably never will).  However, I was quite taken by his looks and his portrayal of Mr. Rochester and was truly everything I always thought Mr Rochester would be.  His dark broodiness was fabulous for the role and his facial expressions, especially at the end of the movie were quite phenomenal.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Audio Review: Fever 1793

Title: Fever 1793
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Listening Time: 5 hrs and 46 min
Rating: 3/5

August 1793. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook is ambitious, adventurous, and sick to death of listening to her mother. Mattie has plans of her own. She wants to turn the Cook Coffeehouse into the finest business in Philadelphia, the capital of the new United States.
But the waterfront is abuzz with reports of disease. “Fever” spreads from the docks and creeps toward Mattie’s home, threatening everything she holds dear.

As the cemeteries fill with fever victims, fear turns to panic, and thousands flee the city. Then tragedy strikes the coffeehouse, and Mattie is trapped in a living nightmare. Suddenly, her struggle to build a better life must give way to something even more important – the fight to stay alive (madwomenintheforest.com).

This is the third book I've read or listened to by Laurie Halse Anderson and so far my least favorite.  Unlike the other two books, I found Fever 1793 to be very slow moving and extremely hard to get into.

Fever 1793 is told through the voice of Matilda, a young girl living in Philadelphia during the yellow fever outbreak of 1793.  Halse Anderson chose to tell this story in first person using the voice of young Mattie.  Because of this, I found it hard to connect with the story because I couldn't connect with Mattie.  Also, I often felt the book shifted from modern to historical voice, most likely not on purpose, but the shift was there.

One thing I will give Fever 1793 was that it was extremely historically accurate.  One can definitely tell that Laurie Halse Anderson thoroughly researched the epidemic and she was able to truly capture the feel of fear experienced during that time of crisis.

Another issue I had with this audio was the narrator.  I just didn't like her voice.  I felt as though it made the story drag.  It was a tough subject and I think a different voice would have made the story less of a downer.

Even thought I didn't like my first take of Laurie's historical fiction writing, I'm still going to give Chains (which I requested at the library) a try.

Related Posts with Thumbnails