Saturday, May 28, 2011

Book Blog Questionaire

Snagged from Wendy of Wall to Wall Books

1. How often do you post and how often do you visit other blogs?
I aim for posting atleast once a week, but clearly that doesn't happen. Every day when I get on the computer one of the first things I check is Google Reader. I use that to keep up with the blogs.

2. Do you always comment, or do you only comment when there is a contest?
I comment when I have a comment to make, or to enter a contest. If the only kind of comment I have is somthing like "I completely agree" or "This sounds good", and that's the entirety of the comment, I'm not posting it

3. When you "follow" a blog, do you always go back and visit or are there some that you only followed for a contest?
As previously mentioned, I check Google Reader daily. It automatically adds the google friend connect people, and then I manually add the ones who don't.

4. How often do you enter book giveaways?
I enter when the book is of interest to me. And if I've happened to win one at a particular blog, I won't enter there for a little while, just so others have a chance.

5. How long have you been blogging?
I started my Livejournal back in 2004 I think it was. Activity varied at times, but never wrote about books until I converted this (had started this back in 2004 because of the Browncoats forum, then converted it to a backup when LJ going whacky)

6. Do you have book giveaways, how often, and why do you do it?
No I haven't yet. Maybe if I get an arc I want to share, or hit a landmark follower number

7. What other booky sites do you belong to?
I use Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing. I have a BookJetty but I kind of gave it up. Also tried weRead via facebook, but I stopped that once I started Goodreads.

8. How often do you use "Bookish Memes"?
Occasionally. Some I've seen done are a bit redundant. Mostly I just do the Mailbox Monday.

9. What do you like or dislike about some blogs?
Dislike is the huge amount of crap (note: I tend to use crap as meaning stuff, not necessarily the percieve quality of something) some stick in their sidebars. Each image takes up server space and bandwidth every time the page is loaded. So if visiting a blog with 2 sidebars and 50 images in each on my laptop or Nook Color, they take ~*FOREVER*~ to load. And not even getting into those who are still truckin along with dialup internet.

10. Have you gotten close to any bloggers, just through blogging?
A little bit, for some of the LJ ones. Some of those met on a Harry Potter forum, and they were the ones who got me to sign up for LJ in the first place.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Now its that time to see the products of my trolls through the freebie sections of BN. I see it as a good way to try something new, or something you wouldn't necessarily read if you had to buy it.

The Duchess's Tattoo by Daisy Goodwin
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross
Throwaway by Heather Huffman
The Gauntlet by Karen Chance
Life Blood by Thomas Hoover
A Tailor Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer
Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
1936- On The Continent
Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Amersham Rubies by Rhys Bowen
Wonderful by Jill Barnett

For Review:
The Broken Sword by Joseph Robert Lewis

Library and New purchases:
Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
Fool by Christopher Moore
Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution by Robert H. Patton (I actually considered getting this on my trip. Glad I didn't $4 hardcover on BN)

And just made it in the mail today for the list:

The Lance Mackey Story: How My Obsession with Dog Mushing Saved my Life by Lance Mackey
Received from the Iditaread Challenge @ Lit in the Last Frontier

I think its clear all that I have a book acquisition problem

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Philosopher's Kiss by Peter Prange

Publisher's summary

Paris, 1747. Betrayed by God and humanity, Sophie moves to the seething capital of the kingdom. To survive, she works at Café Procope, the meeting place for freethinkers and revolutionaries. Against her will she falls deeply in love with one of the regular customers: Denis Diderot, the famed philosopher and a married man. He and his colleagues are planning the most dangerous book in the world since the appearance of the Bible: an encyclopedia. Even more explosive are the covert references in the Encyclopedia that threaten to undermine both the monarchy and the church. But Sophie soon realizes that the stakes are even higher for her personally. At risk are her right to freedom, love, and happiness.

My Summary:
Sophie is an illegitimate daughter of the seamstress Madeline and a traveling sales person Dorval (who is now deceased). The book opens as Sophie is preparing for her First Communion, which she was very nervous for so her mother gave her some homemade remedy. Despite the medicine, she vomits up "the body of Christ" in front of the whole church. The night before, a mysterious man in a plumed hat tried to seduce Madeline, who rejected him in no uncertain terms. This man, jealous and rejected by Madeline, goes and declares to the authorities that she used magic to enchant him into wanting her, and used Sophie's vomiting of the host as an example of her sorcery. So poor Madeline is sent to the stake while Sophie is made to watch.

Ten years later Sophie is working at Cafe Procope in Paris, a favorite hang out of the philosophers. There she meets philosopher Denis Diderot and policeman Antoine Sartine. Sartine was monitoring the philosophers for dangerous ideas, of which Diderot's Encyclopedia was one of the most dangerous to the church. Sartine makes advances to Sophie, as part of his grand plan for advancing his career. However, Sophie falls for Diderot's charismatic stories and ideas. Sophie learns that Diderot is married with a son, and a mistress on the side, she flees a life like her mother's and agrees to marry Sartine.

Sartine agrees to look into who accused Sophie's mother of sorcery, and while he find out his identity, he decides to lie to Sophie and claimed he found out nothing. Sartine is still hunting out evidence to arrest those working on the Encyclopedia for their dangerous ideas (ideas thought to threaten the church and/or state). Sophie finds some story by Diderot in Sartine's desk at home, and when he finds her reading it, he tells her that he knows she loves Diderot and accuses of being his mistress. Sophie wasn't, but she leaves his house immediately and truly becomes his mistress.

After leaving her husband, Sophie works for Messr Poisson. This portion of the book is fairly repetitive, with her relationship with Diderot, his work on the Encyclopedia and Sophie trying to help with it, and the Police trying to arrest who they can identify as spreading the dangerous ideas. During this period, Sophie meets Madame du Pompadour, sister of Messr Poisson, who invites her work at her pleasure palace, which Sophie declines. However, once Sophie learns Diderot values the Encyclopedia more than their relationship, the pregnant Sophie turns to Pompadour for help.

Since the Encyclopedia was first being printed, Pompadour had her finger on all the possible dangerous texts by recommending her favorite Malesherbes as the state censor. Both of them become supporters of the Encyclopedia. After Sophie becomes a lady in waiting for Pompadour, she becomes a mistress of Malesherbes. He in time wants to adopt Sophie's son and give him the educational benefits his money can buy. For this, he pushes Sartine to divorce Sophie, since he is technically the father of record. Shortly after, in an attempt to strike a blow to the Encyclopedia, Sartine finally identifies the man in the plumed hat as Malesherbes. The adoption doesn't go through, and Sophie ends their relationship, and Malesherbes resigns. Soon after, Madame du Pompadour dies, and the Encyclopedia loses its two strongest supporters at court. In an effort to prevent Diderot from going to prison or being execute it, Sophie works a secret plan with the publisher to censor the encyclopedia. Diderot is outraged at first, but then he gets over it and they reunite.

Overall, I liked this book. It gave a good view of what was going on ideologically in Paris, in the fifty years prior to the French Revolution, and you can see how some of the events and the ideas presenting in The Philosopher's Kiss lead to the greater complaints later on. I didn't really know much about Madame du Pompadour other than she was Louis's mistress (and what could be gotten from that Doctor Who episode), so I liked learning about her involvement in helping the encyclopedia come into being.

The novel does seem a bit repetitive at times. But I think this is because when each volume of the encyclopedia was printed, it outraged the church and/or state, and someone was threatened with or was arrested and imprisoned, and faced censorship issues. The editors kept trying to push what they could get away with, so the same things kept happening.

Sophie was a real person, according to the author's note, however not much is known about her, or what relationship she actually had with Diderot, other than she existed and knew one another. As a character, I don't really like her very much. Probably because she keeps going back to Diderot, who reads at best as a jerk, or at worst more than a little bit of an a-hole. I don't think I have a great affinity to any of the characters. But to me, they almost seem to be secondary, while the Encyclopedia seems to be THE main character, as nearly all of the events covered in the book revolve around it. I also don't think the title helps it much. I half expected it to have a stronger romance, or depiction of it, but it didn't. The romance between Sophie and Diderot is fairly tame in the telling, and doesn't read like a romance novel.

I would recommend this if you have an interest in the French Revolution and the precursors that lead up to it, and if you have an interest in the philosophy of this time period and their influences.

I give this a firm 4 stars.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10 Books I Want to Reread

Llevinso @ Sarcastic Female Literary Circle had posted this while I was in Boston, but since I didn't care to type out a blog post on my Nook Color, I'm doing this now.

I love to reread favorite books. Nothing like a good reliable story if you are in a funk, or just need to lighten the reading schedule. Plus you will always see something you missed the previous time around.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Blame the official casting announcement a few months. Martin Freeman will make a perfect Bilbo. But I've been wanting to reread this since then.

2. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: I had intended on rereading this before the final movie comes out, but that's not going to happen. But I may make it through the audio books before then. But I'd like to reread and catch all the little clues she laid out through the series.

3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: I read this back in the 7th grade, and have not read it since, though I love the movie. Be nice to read it with an adult perspective, and a greater knowledge of history.

4. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper: Another I read in junior high or there abouts and would like to revisit.

5. A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: This was something assigned my senior year of high school, so it was read out of duty then. But since then I've found I really like the distopian genre so I figured it be a good one to revisit.

6. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: I had picked this to read for a class project, but I don't remember too much about it. Though I can spout out numbers from Man of La Mancha nearly at will. So would like to revisit it, once I find my copy.

7. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Yup, another school read. Unlike many people, I don't have any bad rememberances about it from then (a rarity for assigned school readings), so would like to revisit.

8. Something by Emerson, Thoreau or one of the other transcendentalists: In studying the movement in history classes after intially reading the works in class, I found I really found that I agreed with some of the big points of the movement, so I'd like to reread them.

9. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander: I loved this series since elementary school.

10. Mistress of the Art of Death Series by Ariana Franklin: I still have the last book to read, but I loved this series, especially the initial book. And since the author died this last winter, I will need to reread it to get my fix, since there aren't likely to be any more.

The true benefit of checking out e-books from the library...

Some people would probably say that the true benefit of checking out e-books from the library versus real books is that you get them right away, or if a hold comes in, you don't have to go down to the library to pick it up.

But really, the true perk of checking out e-books is that you don't have the temptation of the library book sale section. Sure you may only spend $5 on the five books you get, but these deals are much harder to resist. But then, I did find Year of Wonders, and unread copies of Practical Magic and The Surgeon (which I had already picked up used, but paid as much for that one book in poorer condition as the five I got today), so shouldn't complain too much.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Blighted Troth: A Novel of New France

From the author's journal:
In 1702, Emilie Basseaux lives with her widowed mother in New France. On the eve of her wedding to Robert Lanzille, she catches the eye of the settlement’s unscrupulous overlord, Seigneur Richard Tonnacour who threatens to kill the parish priest if he performs their marriage. This sets off a catastrophic chain of events that turns her life, and that of her betrothed, into a desperate flight for their lives, separating them, and sending them straight into the arms of peril. Emilie and Robert’s plight sweeps them into the convents and taverns, the riots and small-pox epidemics of New France where they each face death and discover the true meaning of love and forgiveness. It is a compelling story of love and treachery, faith and loss, forgiveness and triumph. The Blighted Troth is a retelling of the classic novel, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni. Inspired by this epic Italian classic novel, the author weaves an entirely new and unqiue captivating tale in a new setting, a new century, and with new plot twists.

I had never heard of this author prior to seeing this listing on LibraryThing's Member giveaways, so I had no expectations going in. It is an easy read. It has a nice glimpse at life in a small Canadian (New France at the time) town, and a bit of a comparision to life in Quebec. We also got to see how the 1702-1703 Smallpox epidemic effected everyone in the colony. I've never really learned or read much about Canadian histoy, except where it tied directly into a American historical event, so this is all new territory for me.

It was a fairly quick read as well. For a 452 page e-book, it only took me approximately four days to get through. Some of this may be due to how the book is set up. It has 142 chapters. A good many of them are one pagers, and in the 2-5 page range. These short chapters, made for a quick pace, though it makes the chapter count sound scary. I'm not sure that it is better than combining some of the small chapters into others, but it may be just me nit-picking about editing-formatting issues.

The characters could probably have been developed a bit more. You get a clear sense of who they are, but I could have used a bit more to get me fully invested in them. The best characters are Pere Jean Civitelle, the parish priest who cares more for saving his own hide than tending to the needs, and Claude Prudhomme, one of the neighboring lords to the one where Emilie and Robert live under. Claude is known as one of the more ruthless overlords in New France, but during the course of the novel and gives up his bad ways. His story would make a really interesting novel, on its on.

Been having trouble putting into words just does and doesn't quite work for me. Its a good diversion, but not great. There's a few really good characters, but the others could use just a bit more to make them really pop. The ending I could see coming from near the middle of the book.

I give this a 3.5-4 star Wednesday?

I just got back from a trip to Boston, so going to do this today. I had to show much restraint, as I could have easily have filled a suitcases with interesting books I saw.

Won from Amy @ Passages to the Past and Christy English =D :
To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christy English

For Review:
The Converted by C.R. Hindmarsh

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Matched by Ally Condie
The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming

Shadowbrook by Beverly Swerling
Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh (Freebie Friday)
A Fool Again by Eloise James
Photographs and Phantoms by Cindy Spencer Paper

Trip purchases:
Judge Sewall's Apology: A Biography. The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of an American Conscience by Richard Francis
Concord: Climate for Freedom by Ruth R. Wheeler
The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen
Power Plays: Shakespeare's Lessons in Leadership and Management by John O. Whitney and Tina Packer