Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monster Mash and Bash Blog Hop

Welcome to the Monster Mash and Bash Blog Hop, hosted by A Book Lover's Dream.

Halloween is upon us, and for the hop, I am giving away one of my favorite witchy books. This was my favorite book I read in 2010, and one of my favorite cover design. If you are not familiar with it, you can click on the title link below the cover to go to the Goodreads page and read up on it.

The winner of this giveaway will win one brand new, hardcover copy of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Winner is chosen via Random.org. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Sorry, international folks. Check the Mr. Linky list for the international giveaways.

To enter, fill out the required fields in the form. Contest runs from 12am EST October 26th through 12am EST November 1st.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus
The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
checked out from the library

In this mesmerizing debut, a competition between two magicians becomes a star-crossed love story.

The circus arrives at night, without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within nocturnal black and white striped tents awaits a unique experience, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stand awestruck as a tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and gaze in wonderment at an illusionist performing impossible feats of magic.

Welcome to Le Cirque des RĂªves. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is underway--a contest between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in "a game," in which each must use their powers of illusion to best the other. Unbeknownst to them, this game is a duel to the death, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.
The first thing that I think of whenever I see this synopsis is this:

Out of the Rain episode from Torchwood series 2

This book was so hyped, I was getting nervous as I waited for my hold to come in and get time to read it. I've been very disappointed in the highly hyped books, and this was getting that kind of buzz and push by the stores. In the end, I didn't fall into the group who just adore it. I liked it fine, and while it too was a push to finish by the due date, it wasn't a chore.

Morgenstern did a fantastic job with the descriptors. The descriptions were vivid, so that you have no trouble seeing the world she creates. The descriptions of Circus are so vivid, that it is rather like a blending of the surreal with a M. C. Escher print.

For me, the story seemed a bit jumbled in the middle sections of the book, when she is flipping back and forth between Celia and Marco's stories, and the twins, Widget and Poppet, and Bailey's story lines. It gets to be where it is going back and forth between two different time periods, and for a while I wasn't sure if she was doing this as a way to get the two story lines to meet up in the end, or if she is taking a "wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey" progression of time. Eventually, in the later half of the book, I was able to lose that feeling, but that was largely once the two storylines were in the same period of time.

The story itself had its moments. I mostly enjoyed the moments between Celia and Marco, and the twins and Bailey, but there were parts in between these scenes that dragged a little bit. But luckily all the chapters were fairly short, so could get away from the slow parts. And although she wrapped up the different storylines neatly, for me the ending wasn't very satisfying. I would say borrow this one if it interests you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Top Ten Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a specific topic for a top ten list. Link up, visit some new blogs and add to your ever growing TBR list.

We've all been told not to judge a book by its cover. But we all do it. We also judge books by their titles. I know that a lot of work goes into cover art - and so I think it's an acceptable factor in your decision to spend $15-$20 on a book that it cover and/or title be pleasing. So here are 10 books that I've judged and bought based on their cover art and/or title. And whether or not that judging led me astray.

Guilty as charged. I have been sucked into checking out or buying a book because of the cover. I have to remind myself when I'm in the store, that I should not buy a book just because of the cover. I actually skipped over We, the Drowned twice in Borders closing sale because of it, only to see it on my Goodreads to be read list, so I actually let myself cave for it.

My Top Ten covers (that I can think of):

1. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
2. Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, #1)
3. The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)
4. Luka and the Fire of Life
5. The Witch's Daughter
6. Mary & Elizabeth
7. We, the Drowned
8. The Map of Time
9. The Pillars of the Earth  (The Pillars of the Earth, #1)
10. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a weekly travelling meme that is being hosted for the month of October over at Savvy Verse & Wit.

As I mentioned, I was in Bishop on Friday for work, so I stopped at their great indie bookstore, Spellbinder Books. If you ever find yourself in Bishop, California (like, if you are in the area visiting Mammoth or Death Valley), you should definitely check them out. They are right on 395. I also stopped at the visitor center in Lone Pine, and at Manzanar National Historic Site, so these books represent the trip. Click on the cover to read about the book.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May DoddDelirium (Delirium, #1)Geology Underfoot in Southern California (Yes, Geology Underfoot) (Yes, Geology Underfoot)Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Geology Underfoot in Southern California by Robert P. Sharp and Allen F. Glazner
Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment ed. Linda Gordon and Gary Y. Okihiro

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - October 15

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books

I had to go up yesterday to Bishop for work, so on the way back down today, I stopped at Manzanar National Historic Site. Manzanar is infamous as one of 10 relocation camps where Japanese Americans were forced to move to after FDR signed Executive Order 9066. That order allowed the War Department to designate military zones and remove anyone deemed a possible threat from those zones. NPS states almost 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced from their homes in the West Coast states, into one of the ten camps.

Monument in the camp cemetery

Remains of Rose Park/Pleasure Park/Merritt Park
Click here to see the Pleasure Park as it was in 1943

Prior to the camp, the area was occupied by the Owens Valley Piaute, and the town of Manzanar was established in 1910. The camp area was used as orchards and farms prior to the camp's construction.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review: Doc by Mary Dora Russell

Doc: A Novel

I did something I don't do very often. I did not finish a book. This book has been much hyped as brillant in the Historical Fiction group. I always enjoyed hearing the story of Tombstone, since my parents took us there when I was little. So I tried it.

From the start, you can tell it is well researched, but the style is different. It read more like a biography, than a piece of fiction. The narration just didn't feel like the typical detached over looking narrator; not quite a historian's voice, but more that way than the typical narrator. After we get into Doc Holliday's teen years, we start getting the normal fiction tone, with the more typical narration. But throughout the first 200 pages, they two style intermix, sometimes within the same chapter, or even the same section of a chapter. This mix of styles didn't really work well for me.

Another thing that bothered me was how the author dealt with time. For Doc's younger years, it worked well, but when the author started in on the Dodge City period, time gets a bit unclear. The death of Johnnie Sanders is a big event, as it is discussed over 100 pages of the 200 I was able to read. But the way it was told, and with no really indication of how much time has passed in those 100 pages, it does not seem like that long has passed. My guess would have been no more than a year, but probably a few months less than that. Until at one point, one character exclaims why Wyatt was still talking about a death that is more than three years past. None of the events around this death are told in flashbacks, so this was highly unexpected. There are flashbacks mixed in, and 'visions' of the future or what could have been, and those are clear, but the depiction of the present time is not clear. Some reason, this really got to me.

Another problem I had with this is that it suffers the same problem as Caleb's Crossing. The title does not suite the book. Doc does not tell things through Holliday's persepective. Some of the narration focuses on him. But probably half of what I read was told with a focus on one of the other characters, and frequently it did not relate back to Doc at all. Its more about Holliday and the Earps, since they seem to have equal amount of time focused on them.

Now, I have been sporting a continuous headache most of the time I've been reading this, so the irritation of it may have influenced my reading mood some. It was a full blown migraine episode and the looming due date that made me decide to just set this one asside. This is an ebook I checked out from the library, so I may at some point decide to check it out again, when I'm in a better mood, but for now, we part ways.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday- What I'm Reading

What I'm reading is hosted by Book Journey

Well, last week I didn't finish any books.

Gone with the WindDoc: A Novel
Gave some time to the neglected Part Four of Gone With The Wind for the read along. Also, the best laid plans of staggering library holds went to pot as I had six holds come through in the last three weeks. So after I nearly caught up with GWTW, I went back to reading Doc by Mary Doria Russell. A bit less than 200 pages and it is due Thursday, and I don't know if I can make that. It's just not living up to the hype, and seems to be moving pretty slowly for me.

The Night CircusLady of the EnglishRules of CivilityThe Power of Six (Lorien Legacies, #2)
I still have The Night Circus, Rules of Civility and Lady of the English from the library on my nook after this. And just got The Power of Six from the city library system. Might go with the latter first, since it would be quick and a nice variation from the others.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
(click the cover to see the Goodreads page on the book)

Ok, I'll admit, every time I read the title, I kept thinking of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. But comparison wise, its not that far off. This book is told through the eyes of Jacob, who grew up hearing fantastic tales of his grandfather about a home he stayed at after he fled the Nazis and before joining the army. As most kids do, Jacob reached an age where he decided that the tales and pictures of his grandfather's childhood friends weren't real. After his grandfather's untimely death, Jacob and his father visit the island in Wales where the home was in attempts to find some closure. The story is told through accompanying vintage photographs, usually depicting the grandfather's peculiar friends.

I loved this novel. I think the photographs added so much to the story, and it rather reminds me of going through my grandparents' pictures and them breaking off into some story or other. I had heard other people who thought the book was creepy, but I never had that feeling (though I suspect it takes a lot to weird me out. most "scary" movies tend to be more boring or stupid in my book). The subject matter (period before The Blitz, persecution) could get to be a little intense for some readers, given that it is marketed as a young adult novel, but I thought it balanced out with the lighter moments of the book. Now I got this as a library e-book, and the pictures were about the size of the photographs of the time on my Nook Color, but I heard some people express that they had difficulty seeing them on their readers, so if you don't have a tablet or larger size reader, you might consider checking out a physical copy if you are borrowing it from the library. ★★★★★

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Banned Book Week Giveaway Winner

Banned Book Week is over. I hope you all enjoyed learning about different banned books during all the blogger events. An now for the giveaway results...

The winner of A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is.....

Michele Luker

An email has already been sent to you, Michele. Make sure to check your spam folder, if it doesn't make it into your normal inbox. Should you have any trouble getting my email, drop me a line here or via private message on one of the book sites to the right.

Thanks everyone for entering! I'll also be participating in the Monster Mash & Bash Hop/Giveaway at the end of October, so keep an eye out for that. It will be a US only giveaway this time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Mailbox

Only a few entered my home this week. Firstly, one I won in the GoodReads giveaways a the beginning of August. Finally
Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)
On the Nook:

Medicus (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #1)

Also the complete trilogy of The Hunger Games, which was on sale for under $5. Cheaper than one of the two I was missing.

From the Library:
PluggedThe Night Circus
I'll get the winner of the Banned Book Week giveaway up tomorrow

Read your own Book Month wrap up

September is over, and I ended up reading 4 books for Read Your Own Books month, Giraffe level. Here's some mini-reviews for the last two. Click on the book cover to head to the GoodReads page on the book

People of the Book

This was the book club choice over at Quiet: The Power of Introverts. The story is told in the present (which, in the book, includes 1996 and 2002), with Hanna Heath, a conservator of rare books, who was hired by the UN to work on the Sarajevo Haggadah. During the conservation process she finds things in the Haggadah, that reveal some of the history of the book. The rest of the book interleaves the past, related to how one of the items becomes inserted in the book, then back to 1996 where Hanna is having studies done to determine what they are. I studied museum and archive studies in college, so I tend to get a geeky glee at things like archival research and the internal workings of museums and archives (even when a character does something to tick off real archivists *Roland Mitchell*). Brooks does a fine job of drawing you into a moment in history with the little stories mixed in with Hanna's tale. Brooks is fast becoming one of my favorite historical fiction writers. ★★★★

Greatest Knight

September read for the Historical Fiction group at Shelfari. Also one of my first Nook "purchases" (it was a freebie friday selection), sitting on my Nook Color since the spring. Its the tale of William Marshall, who was offered as a hostage to Stephen at age 5, who should have been killed for his father not upholding his agreement to turn over the castle. He later came to the attention of Eleanor of Aquitaine from his skill in tournaments, and from saving her from a kidnapping attempt. I really enjoyed reading this. Nearly this time last year, I read Sharon Kay Penman's Henry II- Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, which is very detailed, and very long. I was familiar with William Marshall from that series and intrigued by his story, and happy to learn he is a real figure in history. But by the time I got to the third book, Devil's Brood, there were some of the author's habits that got to me, and a few things I didn't like (I would not suggest reading this trilogy straight through). The Greatest Knight overlapped greatly with Devil's Brood, except Chadwick does not go through each period when Henry's sons had grievances with him, which get to be repetitive since neither the sons or father really gave into change. Chadwick highlights the main grievances, and other moments in history, but not as detailed as someone like Penman writes. And because of that, it moved at a much quicker pace. I get the feeling that Chadwick is going to be a favorite as well. ★★★★ 1/2