Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish, this is a place to share all of your top ten based on the weekly theme.

This week's theme: Top Ten Bookish Websites/Organizations/Apps, etc
In no particular order.....
1. Google Reader - Not what you were expecting, right? Any blog I want to follow gets added to Google Reader. Those using GFC automatically get added (though sometimes you need to visit your Blogger dashboard for it to kick in). This is my first bookish stop of the day.

2. Shelfari - Second bookish stop of the day. It was the first site I started using to keep track of what was on my bookshelves. I've found some great active groups there, and my tbr has grown because of them.

3. Goodreads - I like this because it connects with Twitter and Facebook. Its much easier to sort you book lists than Shelfari, and its a much faster load time. Plus it has the Goodreads First Reads program, and you can keep track of favorite quotes. It does have a book swap program, but I've yet to try it.

4. Goodreads App for Nook Color - First app of its kind for the Nook Color. Lets me do a quick update on my reading without firing up a computer or using the Nook Color's browser.

5. Library Thing - Bare bones and no fuss site. Very quick load time, and it too can connect with your facebook and twitter accounts. It has an early reviewers program, and a Members Giveaway program. I have received several e-books through the latter, from authors wanting reviews (look for those once the library stops bum rushing me with holds). If you miss out on a giveaway on Goodreads, you can always try here (they get several of the same), and vice versa. There are free and pay versions of accounts (free maxes at 200 books on your list), but right now pay is a one time only thing, and I might consider doing that in the future. It also features local events near you, and author chats.

6. Book Depository - We over on this side of the pond sometimes get the shaft when books are originally printed in the UK. They don't always get picked up by an American publisher, so we have to go elsewhere. For a single item shopping, Book Depository is great, and free shipping. Not always cheaper than Amazon UK, but easier by far.

7. Unbound Blog - Barnes and Noble's blog about all things Nook related. They feature their monthly selection, new apps, some of their sales and guest blogs here.

8. Barnes and Noble's Bargain Books - Sales are good, and if you don't have to have it right at release, this portion of the site is awesome. Around the time when the paperbacks are hitting the stores, B&N puts the hardcover versions on clearance for a time. I have upgraded series that I loved to hardcover copies because of this. Its hard to beat a hardcover copy for under $5.

9. Librivox - Most bookish people have heard of Project Gutenberg by now. Librivox is Project Gutenberg for audiobooks. Volunteers record books in the public domain and make those available for download for free. If you use Itunes, you can subscribe to a book so it will download into the podcast section, instead of in a massive archive file, or multiple smaller files.

10. Ebay - If you are looking for something out of print, Ebay is my favorite place to start. I suffer from the 'but my series books must match' condition, so I have completed a few of series sets this way. And my recent stash of French books.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

This was a fun read. This is apparently a prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame Smith (which I have yet to read, although it was published first). It is set a few years prior to Pride and Prejudice, in the year when Elizabeth was set to come out into society. In this telling, about twenty years prior to the events, the living English were at battle with zombies (dreadfuls) and defeated them. After a time, zombie prevention methods (ie. decapitating the dead prior to burial) lapsed and enter the current events when the zombies begin arriving in Meryton again. In the previous war, Mr. Bennett had been a warrior, and begins training his daughters in the deadly arts. After all, Lady Catherine de Burgh was a noted leader in suppressing the previous war's zombies. This is smartly done. Its funny and has literary illusions that readers of the classics will get. A favorite is: "Lieutenant Tindall told me I'd find you up here tilting at putrid windmills. Now I know what he meant." Its not some hokey reworking of Pride and Prejudice. You get to see several of the Meryton townfolk and locations you're familiar with. But the familiar characters and places are put into more of a Shawn of the Dead situation, rather than a bad parody. I plan on picking up the other two in this series.

I checked this out from the local library.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mailbox Monday

I haven't posted this in a while, since I just didn't want to really admit how bad my book acquisition problem is. But they have been accumulating. But these are ones for the last week.
I won a few auctions for French books for the 'use it or lose it' attempt at retaining my learned French knowledge (might come in handy for the Paris in July event)

Candide by Voltaire
Manon Lescaut by Abbe Prevost
Nana by Emile Zola
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Le sang des autres by Simone de Beauvoir
Les yeux de velours by Jude Deveraux
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme by Moliere
Jacques le fataliste by Denis Diderot

I also got The Lord of the Rings and a Set of Harry Potter, but those have not actually arrived yet. Will probably work my way up to the ones that came so far, although I do have Candide in English, and its one we would see the play of in school.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch
Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books.

This week's question is: When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?

This is an odd question for me to answer. It is like asking when did you realize that breathing was something you needed to do?

My mom and my grandmother keep telling me how when I was little (maybe 2 or 3, before I could properly read), that I would make a stack of books next to my reading location of choice (ie. laundry basket, so I've been told), sit down and "Read" them. I got older, my parents would read to me and I would read. I can't remember not reading. There was never any conscious decision about whether I would read or not, I was just a reader.

My parents never deterred me. At one point I had a complete set of Babysitter Club books, purchased with allowance or sheer begging the parents to get. They never dictated what I could read, though for the longest time it was things like Babysitter Club and Nancy Drew. We'd go to the libraries, and the used bookstores, and we donate books we no longer wanted to the library sales. The only time I remember anyone not to read a particular book at a certain time was when I had asked about reading East of Eden for a seventh grade assignment (it had been one of my uncle's books. But still haven't read that). They had no problems with me reading Gone With The Wind for a project in the same class.

Sure, I did other things in school. I took dance class for a while. I played soccer for a while, and was in the school orchestra from the fourth grade through college. I learned the piano. But the one thing that really stuck was reading. I might not have liked the things when forced to read them for class, but I loved reading. I got so bad that during grad school, I was forced to put what ever I was reading for pleasure away in the closet so I would focus on my class reading or research. I always have something to read with me, even if going with family out to dinner.

I'm a hopeless case, and even if there were a cure, I wouldn't want it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The past is a foreign language

Over at Shelfari's Who Doesn't Love a Classic group, Jennifer of Lit Endeavors started a discussion of reading in a foreign language, and it got me thinking. I took four years of french in junior high and high school.  It must have sunk in as I was able to test out of the language requirement at my BS school, and passed the requirement for my MA program. But I've not really done much with it other wise.  Although I did impress myself, when a couple years ago when I rented one of Eddie Izzard's dvds, I understood the joke in french he did at the end of the show.

So I think I'm going to take my own suggested I put in the discussion thread.  Find a YA book or book and try reading them in French, then move on to classic or more adult oriented titles once I got the hang of it.  I've decided that the Harry Potter series would be a good one. Between reading the American versions, the audio books, movies, and the plan to get the British versions, I know it pretty well so should probably be able to reference and follow it pretty well in French. Although looking on Ebay I see a LOTR set and a collection of some classic French works at reasonable prices.

So anyone else read in French or not your native language? Or have a suggestion on something for me to try in French?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Paris in July - The Planning

I've been thinking about what all I'd might want to blog about for this. I was thinking I'd aim for blogging on the topic 2-3 times a week. And keep with normal book related blogging (I've got a bunch of e-book to review still). The list of possible topics:

  • Le pacte des Loups/Brotherhood of the Wolf
  • Amelie
  • Triplets of Belleville
  • La Femme Nikita
  • Coco Before Chanel
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Cyrano de Bergerac

Set in France
  • French Kiss
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • Three Musketeers

  • To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel series
  • Camille
  • Father Goriot
  • Madame Bovary
  • Candide
  • I am Madame X

La Marseillaise
Les Miserables

And perhaps something on architecture, painting, historical fashions... I need to site down and go through things before July rolls around

Paris in July

Heard about this along the blogging grapevine. Bookbath and Thyme for Tea are hosting the Paris in July blogging...thing. Not exactly a blog-a-thon, but you get the idea. Get to spend a month blogging about the shared love of french things.

I've loved Paris and french things for a long time, longer than my love of British television. Took four years of french in middle-high school, even though Spanish would have been much more useful in Southern California. Got loads of little Eiffel Towers around my bedroom, and a trip to France is on my bucket list. So seems like my kind of blogging event.

So if you want to know more about it, go check out one of the host blogs for more information. I'll probably have some planning posts in the next few days

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Snapshot Saturday

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by At Home with Books

Orchard House, home of the Alcott Family, Concord, MA
taken May 2, 2011

I went to Boston at the end of April, and one of the days, I took a train out to Concord and had a walk around. One of the museums I visited was the Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott and her family in Concord. It is a house museum, and they have a nice store, with lots of books, from ones Louisa May wrote, and ones about or inspired her and her father.

Review: Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

This is the second novel by Michelle Moran that I've read. While I really liked Madame Tussaud, I didn't love it like others did. This one I loved. Both have Moran's great writing style and show that she has reseached her given focus very well. It may be since Ancient Egypt is more of my subject than Revolutionary France. I've been obsessed with Ancient Egypt since around the 5th grade, though I hadn't learned much about Cleopatra's children with Marc Antony.

Moran's descriptions of Rome really bring it to life, and with knowledge of the archaeological resources found there, and the set design from the series Rome so I could imagine what some of the streets were like.

I highly recommend this book. Especially if you enjoy Ancient Rome and Egyptian history.

4.5 stars

Review: Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

This was the first book for the new book club over at Backstage Lounge, a little pixel art forum I visit. I'll admit, I judge the book from the title, and had low expectations for it.

Synopsis from Goodreads

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season — prom or otherwise.

This held up to my expectations, which as I said before, weren't very high to start with. Longbourn and Pemberly have been turned into boarding schools, where just everyone is a douchey, stuck up, spoiled, selfish trust fund brat. I didn't like any of the characters. Jane is way too trusting, glass always full type person, but some reason the common sense and brains of Austen's Jane don't seem very evident. Lizzie seems to be always whining, whether internally or verbally, which is out of character with Austen's Elizabeth.

Did I mention this is set in high school? I didn't like high school society when I was in it. Most of those tv shows or movies about the popular high school students picking on the nerd/loner/new kid/etc generally make me want scream. This book reads just like those bad movies, or a piece of really bad fan-fiction. Her rewrite of the memorable opening line had me cringing and the run on sentence in the first 6 pages pretty much doomed it.

Its about 231 pages* (including acknowledgments. with large spacing and pretty huge margins top and bottom) and it only took me about 12 hours max to read it, and at least half of that was work and driving to my brother's to babysit and back again (I did not take it with me either). The writing and story is so simplistic, I'm sure 8-10 year olds can read it with little difficulties. Probably if I had seen that it was classified as chick-lit and that Stephanie Meyer was a strong reason for it coming around, I would have skipped it all together and say my library didn't have it.

I gave this 1.5-2/5 stars, though the 2 seems generous at times. I got more enjoyment out of the two sample chapters of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Dawn of the Dreadfuls than this whole novel.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: Freedom's Sword by J.R. Tomlin

I recieved this e-book from the author in return for a review. Thank you!

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Before William Wallace... before Robert the Bruce... there was another Scottish hero...

In 1296, newly knighted by the King of the Scots, Andrew de Moray fights to defend his country against the forces of the ruthless invader, King Edward Longshanks of England. After a bloody defeat in battle, he is dragged in chains to an English dungeon.

Soon the young knight escapes. He returns to find Scotland under the heel of a conqueror and his betrothed sheltering in the hills of the Black Isle.

Seizing his own castle, he raises the banner of Scottish freedom. Now he must lead the north of Scotland to rebellion in hope of defeating the English army sent to crush them.

This novel is first and foremost, about Andrew Moray's brief military career, from just before the Battle of Dunbar through his death resulting from the the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Andrew is captured after the English victory at Dunbar, and imprisoned for a time at Chester but eventual manufactured his own escape although he is wounded doing so. He manages to reach his father's lands up in northern Scotland and rallys some of his fathers men who were able to escape after Dunbar. They begin with dealing out retribution on the English occupying Scottish castles, beginning with Moray's own. The vast majority of the novel focuses on Moray's battle experiences and the aftermath, from imprisonment to injury, recovery and planning. Battle scenes are descriptive, even the time devoted to them isn't terribly long, so the reader gets a good picture of what happens during the fighting.

We also meet Caitrina, younger daughter of the Lord of Avoch Castle, one whose lands neighbors that of Moray's. A bit rebellious and not that adept at some of the standard skills befitting a lady, so does not wish to willingly accept her destiny of becoming a nun. She was not in the castle when the English captured it, so she escaped the ill treatment her sister experienced. Afterwards, the sisters and their mother hide in a village outside of Avoch Castle, until Moray recaptures his home and welcomes the ladies to stay with him. She is the only major and for the most part, fictional character according to the author's note. I really liked Caitrina- she has a somewhat modern personality, although it is not so modern that it clashes with the medieval story.

It is a faced paced read, and keeps moving fairly well. It didn't bog down at the battle scenes, as some books who also deal with war can for me. The only thing I would have liked to see was a bit more about Andrew's domestic life to provide a bit of balance to all the scenes in battle, prison or working with his troops. It was a nice, quick introduction to a Scottish hero who has been outshined in history by William Wallace.

I gave this 4 Stars