Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quickie Reviews: Audiobooks

Caleb's CrossingCaleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
I read this as an ebook last summer, but when I saw that that Jennifer Ehle (Elizbeth Bennett in BBC's Pride and Prejudice) was the narrator, I decided to give it a reread via audiobook. After getting over the fact that she, our Miss Bennett, is not actually English, I realized that her voice is extremely well suited for the period this novel is set in. Brooks takes the reader into life in Colonial Massachusetts with this well researched and well written novel.. Either in print or in audio, this is an excellent read. 4 stars

The PostmistressThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Another historical fiction novel set partially in Massachuesetts, this time in World War II. The story follows three women- the postmistress and the wife of the town doctor in Cape Cod; and a radio broadcaster working in London during the Blitz. If you are interested in reading this book, go for the audio. This is written where the doctor and his wife may be listening to the radio broadcast coming in from London, and by the time the broadcast finished, the reader is now in London with the broadcaster. These radio elements really do well in the audiobook. low 4 stars

Lady Macbeth: A NovelLady Macbeth by Susan Fraser King
I enjoyed this novel based on the life of Lady Gruoch of Scotland, who went on to wed Macbeth, both of whom were inspiration for the characters in Shakespeare's Macbeth. This novel actually gave a little background for A Kingdom's Cost, which I read last year. That novel featured Isabella MacDuff, whose family had the right to crown the Kings of Scotland. In Lady Macbeth, we learn that the right of crowning was bestowed on Lady Gruoch and her descendants. The historical references, such as this and the ties with the Vikings I found informative. The author also made Lady Gruoch a bit of a more modern personality, which I enjoyed. She had an independent streak, but done in a way that fit the period. But for as long as the book is, some portions are covered at length, while others are quickly skimmed over, such as the period of her life after Macbeth's death. 4 stars

The Bonesetter's DaughterThe Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
This was my first Amy Tan book. The book started with Ruth talking over her job, her husband and his children from a previous relationship, and problems with both. Ruth next goes into the problems she has with her mother, Luling, who appears to be showing signs of dementia. While Ruth's dealings with her mother touched some buttons with me regarding my grandmother, this sort of relationship drama common in contemporary set novels is the reason I avoid the contemporary genre. But we next get taken into Ruth's mother's history: how her parents met; her childhood in China with the discovery of the Peking Man fossils; and World War II, leading to her imigration to San Francisco. I found the characters and story more interesting in the flashback portion of the novel. 3.5-4 stars

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue
This book lived up to the hype. Well written, with good characters and interesting because it deals with tough subject matter. The novel is told from the perspective of a five year old boy who has never been outside of Room. It gives an unusual and 'clean' perspective to the events. But at times, Jack's naive five year old views and selfishness can be maddening (author's intent I believe). Each of the main parts are read by a different actors, who did a fine job on this reading. 4 stars

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
I don't remember how I first heard about this, but somehow I ended up on an article either by Susan Cain, or referencing one by her, and I ended up on her website in the fall. I really liked what I read there, and was eagerly waiting the months until the January release of this book. I have always been really "shy", quiet, doesn't talk to strangers, or people kind of know. Never liked parties, even family ones. Listening to this, it just really resonated for me. She was describing me, perfectly. In reading this, I determined that I am more introverted than shy.4.5 stars

The Language of Flowers: A NovelThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I always had an interest in the Victorian period's interpretation of flower meanings, so I decided to give it a listen. I really enjoyed listening to this one. It has dual narratives. The story is told by the protagonist, a girl abandoned at infancy and who grew up in the foster care system: half is remembrance of her life around the age of 8-9; the other half when she emancipates from the foster care system at 18. Victoria's stubbornness is a little frustrating, but she bears her hard life as best she can. 4 stars

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Fallen by Lauren Kate
I mostly checked this out becuase it is set in Savannah, Georgia, so 1) It worked for Where are you reading? and 2) I went to school in Savannah. Unfortunately the novel is set in a boarding school with no off campus priveledges, so she didn't go mentioning much of the area. I was enjoying the first half- three quarters of the story, but once it reached the climactic events, the story felt rushed. Not just because the action picked up, but as compared to the pace of the beginning. Not a bad read, I'd consider continuing the series if I see it at the library. 3.5 stars

Legend (Legend, #1)Legend by Marie Lu
I had been wanting to read Legend since I first saw the early reviews coming out. It was highly rated, and boy did it live up to the high expectations. A slightly post-apocalyptic dystopian set in Los Angeles, I could really see the world Lu created. It has both strong and smart male and female leads, was performed well. 4.5 stars

Finnikin Of The RockFinnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
This has been the best novel I have read so far this year. It is a young adult fantasy novel, more so for older teens (there is a scene with prostitutes, from what I remember offhand). The royal family of Lumatere has been murdered so that an imposter can assume the throne, and soon after a curse falls on the country, trapping some people within the borders, and some outside of them. For ten years, Finnikin and his mentor have wandered the other countries, keeping track of their people. Meeting Evanjalin, they start on a wild journey to search for the heir prince, who is rumored to have survived. Not only is the novel a great read, but the audiobook is fantastic as well. Jeffrey Cummings, who reads the novel, does a brilliant job of performing all of the characters. He really portrays the emotions of the characters very well. If you like the fantasy genre, you must check this one out. 5 stars

The Cat's TableThe Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
The audiobook of this is narrated by the author. His voice is very quiet, and nearly monotone. So much that I would find myself zoning out while listening to this in the car. I would also have to really crank up the volume, and I still had trouble hearing it over the car noise. The story is largely character driven, with the narrator recalling his voyage from southeast Asia to England as a young boy, and other events related to the people he met on the voyage. There's not much of a plot, as nothing very exciting happens aboard the ship. Listening to this, and my inability to get into The English Patient movie (based on another of his novels), I think this is not the author for me. This also reinforces my tendancy to not care much for character driven novels. 2.5 stars

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday- Top Ten Blogs/Sites That Aren't About Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here will answer. Everyone is welcome to join! All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
This list can also be titled "Top Ten Reasons Sarah hasn't posted a review in a while". So in no particular order...

  1. Facebook - I am an app junky. At times my really video games get sidelined because I get sucked into apps. But I am slowly weeding them down. Baby steps.
  2. DeviantArt - A lot of the pixel artists who used to have sites, have reverted to DA for posting their work, so I go there to keep tabs.
  3. Limelight Cafe - Once upon a time there was an art forum I went to called Fractured Fairytales. It was awesome, but after being open several years, and once membership dwindled, it closed. Limelight Cafe is a new forum, by old FF members, in the same flavor.
  4. Ancestry.com - I started doing genealogy round about my senior year of high school. Now, ever so often (usually when they do their New Years sales), I get a subscription to Ancestry to see if can find anything new.
  5. Family Search - Family Search is the greatest free genealogy site out there (Ancestry gobbled up a lot of the other ones). If you didn't know, The Latter Day Saints run free genealogy centers which are connected with some of their churches (check your phone book). My dad and I started going to the local center when we started, but it was hard since everything was on microfilm or microfiche, or you can request them from Salt Lake City. Now with the site, you can see the majority of their records.
  6. GetGlue - I check in to a lot of things (but its linked to my primary twitter @sawcatsims). And sometimes if I'm bored, I go rating things.
  7. Relentlessy Cheerful - The tumblr account of James Chance. He's an artist who does fandom mashup artwork - Star Wars characters as Winnie the Pooh characters, Muppets as Doctor Who characters....I found it when someone on either facebook or twitter linked to his series of Muppets as the characters in Firefly/Serenity.
  8. The Bitten Word - A Foodie blog. The guys who run it feature recipes from the cooking magazines they subscribe to, and talk about the making of it, and what they liked and didn't like about them. Everything looks so good, even if I wouldn't normally eat it. Strange thing I like, because I don't like to cook.
  9. Tudor History - When I first got hooked on podcasts, I stumbled onto Lara's Tudor History podcast, where she'd talk about news related to the Tudors, and historical happenings. She runs this site, which is a great resource if you need some quick information.
  10. Masterpiece on PBS - I love the Masterpiece series. I repeatedly go to the site to check what's coming up, who the cast is, or look for announcments of the new shows for the next section.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mailbox Monday, What I'm Reading, and a plain old What's up

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Martha's Bookshelf this month. What I'm Reading, hosted by Sheila of Book Journey

Reading has been slow this past week. I spent the weekend upgrading my computer and doing a clean install of Vista before upgrading to Windows 7, and only just got some of the basic programs I need for work. But boy, this new case and its big fans is super quiet. I'm guessing not much reading done either this week, as I finish installing things, copying files from old primary and reformating it to be used as an external for work files (will be less stress on desktop when want to work from laptop elsewhere). But to the books!

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (audio)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (audio)
Soulless by Gail Carriger (Nook - $0.99 for May)
Sabriel by Garth Nix (Nook - available for $1.99 w/ bonus materials)
The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden (Nook) - works well since was curious about it and it was free at the time
Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

I finished:
The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War

I'm Reading:
The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan (The Kane Chronicles #3)
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (The Ascendance Trilogy #1)
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame Smith

Up Next:
Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
catch up on reviews and commenting

That's all folks. I just really need to ditch this feeling like I'm Homer Simpson sleeping on the job.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Ten Quotes from Books

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly event hosted at The Broke and Bookish.
This week’s topic: Top Ten Quotes From Books

I hadn't intended on doing this, but seeing the posts come up, I just had to. Many moons ago, my dad gave me a journal. I don't know why, because I'd never kept a journal or diary, and I wasn't a writer. So I started collecting quotes and lyrics that I liked in it. So here is a selection.

1. "...and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." Tyrion tapped the leather cover of the book. "That's why I read so much, Jon Snow." ~A Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin

2. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strenghtens. ~The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

3. To love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance. ~An Ideal Husband Oscar Wilde

4. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. ~Resistance to Civil Government Henry David Thoreau

5. They afterwards took me to a dancing saloon where I saw the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across. Over the piano was printed a notice: 'Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best.' ~Impressions of America Oscar Wilde

6. My idea is that if we girls have any influence we should use it for the good of these boys, and not pamper them up, making slaves of ourselves and tyrants of them. Let them prove what they can do and be before they ask anything of us, and give us a chance to do the same. Then we know where we are, and shall not make mistakes to mourn over all our lives. ~Jo's Boys Louisa May Alcott

7. Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road there to and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning. ~Works and Days Hesiod

8. Oh well... I'd just been thinking, if you had died, you'd have been welcome to share my toilet. ~Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets J. K. Rowling

9. Courage is found in unlikely places. ~Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien

10. Ideas are not mirrors, they are weapons; their function is to prepare us to meet events, as future experience may unroll them. ~The Genteel Tradtion in American Philosophy George Santayana

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mailbox Monday and What I'm Reading: Lazy Blogger edition

Yeah, you may have noticed that I've sort of been missing from the blog. Last Monday afternoon, I went to the kitchen, came back to the computer and had a ton of little lines all over the screen. Tried restarting the computer, and it no longer turns on. Because the video card fried, which is unfortunate since I got a video game expansion pack for my birthday that I wanted to install. So I've been spending a great many hours in the evenings last week researching and comparing upgrades for my desktop. I also started a daily art challenge in a pixel art forum I visit, which requires something made every day. So distracted I have been, yes.

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Martha's Bookshelf this month.

This will cover a few weeks, due to forgetting and just not posting.

From Paperback Swap:
A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Purchase (yay for gift cards!):
The Restorer (Graveyard Queen #1)The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2)The Prophet (Graveyard Queen #3)The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)Eve (The Eve Trilogy, #1)The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England (Freebie Friday selection)Paper Woman(Still 99 cents for Nook)

The Fault in Our Stars1776

Android Karenina Signed copy from a twitter contest held by Quirk Books.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel ARC won from Random House's #secretread twitter giveaway. Thanks to both publishers!

What I'm Reading, hosted by Sheila of Book Journey

Finished recently:
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's BerlinA Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)Cleopatra: A LifeCleopatra's Daughter

Did not finish:
The Company of the Dead

Currently reading:
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil WarThe House of Velvet and Glass

Up Next:
The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)