Saturday, December 31, 2011

In My Mailbox (29)

Alright, so here is the last In My Mailbox for the year, and it is sort of another return of IMM for me as well.
As always, credit for IMM goes to Kristi at The Story Siren.



Books Mentioned:
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie
Horns by Joe Hill
M is for Monster by Michael Kelahan
Cell by Stephen King
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

If you're a horror fan, be sure to check out the blog Spooky Reads!
And if you're a fan of Stephen King, be sure to sign up for The Dark Tower Reading Challenge that I'm hosting this year!

2011 Wrap Up!

So I did my post about the challenges that I wrapped up for the year, now here's the post about the year in general.
2011 was a pretty big year for me.  I blogged pretty consistently throughout the year (up until the end anyway!)  I set goals and broke them, several time, and I'm pretty proud of that.  I gained a lot of new followers through the year and met some awesome bloggers and read a lot of great books.  I also managed to graduate college which is my greatest accomplishment to date so overall, I would say that it was a pretty fantastic year.

Now, let's focus on the reading part of the year.
Originally I had set my goal for books to read at 40.  I thought that with school I wasn't going to be able to finish that many.  I broke that goal, upped it to 50, broke that, upped it to 60, broke that, upped it to 65 and kept it there, but I still broke it.
Total books read for 2011 = 68 books
Pages read = 20,865 pages
Compared to the 17 books that I read in 2010, I would say this is a vast improvement!

Best of the Best
I read so many good books this year.  In fact, there wasn't a single book that I deemed unfinishable, which is good compared to the 2 from last year.  So many of the books that I read were so good, but here's a few of them that I thought were just phenomenal.  Click the links to be take to my reviews!
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - I was scared to read this one at first, because of some of the reviews that I had previously read, but I'm so glad that I picked it up.  I loved this book SO MUCH.  I completely fell in love with the characters and the time period and the writing and everything.  I had planned to read the rest in the series, but I got overly ambitious with all of the things I wanted to read, and never got around to it.
Anything Kurt Vonnegut - I discovered my mom's old copies of some of his books and read them and I'm so glad that I did.  I love Vonnegut, his characters and his writing style.  He managed to steal a place in my list of favorite writers.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Okay so I'm one of those people that saw the movies way before I read the books, but I did read the books, which counts for something, right?  And I LOVED the books.  I have e-book copies of them, but this is a collection that I plan of getting in print as well.  They were by far some of my favorites from the year.
book cover of The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates
The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates - I got this as an ARC from NetGalley and thought that it would be a good one to read for October.  I was SO RIGHT.  It was so fantastic.  It was a lot like watching a horror movie, but reading the subtitles.  Full of action and suspense and some moments that will scare the pants off of you.  I highly recommend it.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - I've always been told that this is a must read, but I have struggled through a lot of the classics and I was wary of picking this one up.  Ohmygosh I'm so glad that I actually did.  I fell in love with this story and the characters and the time period and the historical value of it and basically, everything.  I loved this and I still can't believe that I waited so long to read it!
Other fantastic reads for the year:  Everything by Joshua Grover-David Patterson, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, That Day in September by Artie Van Why, Blackstone: Drawing the Circle by Jason Bieneke, The Synarchy Series by DCS, The Undertaker by William Brown, Dead of Winter by Brian Moreland

The NotSoFavorites of the Year
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - Everyone is constantly telling me what a great book this is and what a classic it is and blahblahblah.  Okay, I read it and I could see what he was trying to do, but I REALLY didn't like it.  I just didn't.  Click the link to read my review as to why.
book cover of Mile 81 by Stephen KingTreasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - Another classic that so many people loved that I really did not.  I can't really tell you why.  I think the writing was one of the things that I disliked the most but either way, I really was not a fan of this one.
The Siege of Trencher's Farm by Gordon Williams - Another one that I didn't like.  Its a psychological thriller, okay I get it, I've never seen the movie and I really have no desire to.  The characters really annoyed me, and the book is as much about the relationships of the characters as the crazy things that are happening and I hated the characters, so, I didn't like this book.
Mile 81 by Stephen King - By far one of the biggest disappointments of the year.  I pretty much wanted to throw my Nook when I got to the end of it.  It was just a bad story, read my review to find out exactly why.

So those are the best and the worst of the year!  Check back tomorrow for a  rundown of the goals that I've made for 2012 and what you can expect in the year to come!  And come back later today for an edition of In My Mailbox!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Challenge Wrap-up Post.

I started blogging in December of 2010.  I started early in the month so I hopped on a bunch of challenge trains thinking that it would be awesome to challenge myself, and it was.  A lot of people don't participate in challenges because they feel like it is too much pressure, but I just see it as a way to decide what I need to read next!

This year I signed up for 4 different challenges.  I really enjoyed all of them and I actually finished only 2 out of the 4, but I ALMOST finished a third, which is still pretty good.


2011 Stephen King Challenge

FINISHED.
I read all 6 books that I challenged myself to read. If you want to see a list of them and be taken to my reviews, you can visit this link.



Outlander Challenge 2011

Not finished:[
I finished the first Outlander book at the beginning of the year and I loved it. I wanted to read all the other ones, but somehow I just got distracted and never picked the second one up. I love The Lit Bitch and I've been invited to participate in the challenege again for 2012, but I'm not sure if I'm going to do it yet. You can read my review of the first book here.



Forgotten Treasures Challenge 2011

Not finished :[
I did finish the vast majority of this one though. I started reading my mother's old copies of her Vonnegut books, which is mostly what this one consisted of. To see the list of what I read and the reviews for those books, click here to be taken to the page!



E-Book Challenge 2011

FINISHED! And then some.
My got my Nook for Christmas in 2010, so I knew it was going to be one of my favorite things for the year, which prompted me to join this challenge. A lot of the books I read this year were ebooks and all of the review requests that I took were ebooks as well, so I went WAY over the amount of books that I set out to read. To see the books that I read for this challenge and for links to their reviews, click here!

So that's the wrap up of the challenges that I finished for the year. Now I just have to decide which challenges I'm going to try and accomplish for 2012! Bring it on!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Dark Tower Reading Challenge!

I read The Dark Tower Series years ago and it has to be one of my favorite series of all time.  I think that because I read some of the books so spaced out from the others, and the fact that I was so young when I read them, I feel like I missed a lot of things that were in the series.  Plus, there are things that I just plain don't remember anymore.  Also, there's a new book coming out in April to add to the series and I want to re-read the series before I delve into that one.

So, from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012, I'm going to be hosting The Dark Tower Reading Challenge.  I'll be honest, this is more for myself than anything else, but its always fun to have other people participate and I think that this will be a great series to discuss.

The Dark Tower Challenge 2012 Leighanne's Lit





The books in the series are:
  1. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (1982)
  2. The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three (1987)
  3. The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands (1991)
  4. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass (1997)
  5. The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla (2003)
  6. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah (2004)
  7. The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower (2004)
  8. The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012) - BONUS!
Sign-Up Details and Rules!
  • Timeline - January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012
  • When linking, please use your introductory post as the URL, not just your blog URL.
  • Please grab the button and post it if you have a blog so that other may find the sign up post!  Not a requirement, just a nice thing to do :]
  • This also isn't a requirement, but you should leave a comment and let us know if this is your first reading of the series, or if it is a re-read.
  • To complete the challenge you must read all seven (7) of the books between the dates listed above.  The latest book is slated to be released in Spring 2012, so that counts as a bonus!
  • Any medium is okay, print, e-books or audio - Whatever works for you!
  • This challenge can crossover into other challenges.
  • You DO NOT have to have a blog to participate!  Comment on the post and let me know if you want to join in or shoot me an email at leighannes.lit@gmail.com!  You may also put your name into the linky, a link is not required!
  • You don't have to post reviews, but I'll be posting a discussion post at the end of each month for those participating to discuss where there are, how their enjoying it and I'll be posting a linky with that for those that do post reviews.
The main thing is just to read and ENJOY it!  Of course discussion is highly encouraged because that makes it much more enjoyable!  If you're participating, spread the word!  Hit the tweet button, or let your friends know!  Discussion is more fun with more people!

Yay For Dropping the Ball!

AGAIN!

Yes, its clear that where I said I was going to be keeping up with posting, I failed this past week.  But its the holiday season guys and that means a lot of things to do with a lot of different parts of the family.  The shopping, the baking, the wrapping, cleaning, everything.  Not to mention work.
And I won't lie, there have been several nights that I could have been reading or blogging where I simply watched How I Met Your Mother on Netflix.

But it is the end of the year, I'm going to be doing some wrap up posts and trying really hard to finish at least 2 more books that I've been trying to get finished.  The new year is going to bring a lot of challenges for me in my personal life, like finding my first big girl job, but I think I'm ready for it.  I can't wait to see where the new year takes me.
And for those of you that still read my posts, I thank you for sticking around.  I know that I've lost a few followers over the past few weeks, but its nice to see that some of you are still around!  Thanks for that!

<3

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Release Tuesday (28)

New Release Tuesday is a weekly feature where I share what I'm excited about in both books and music. Sometimes its release day is close, other times it can be several weeks or months in advance. I only feature one for each category, but there a LOADS of new and upcoming releases and you can find them by visiting B&N.com or FYE.com!
Title:  The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel
Author:  Stephen King
Release Date:  April 24, 2012
Summary:  For those discovering the epic bestselling Dark Tower series for the first time—and for its legions of dedicated fans—an immensely satisfying stand-alone novel and perfect introduction to the series.Beginning in 1974, gaining momentum in the 1980s and coming to a thrilling conclusion when the last three novels were published in 2003-2004, the Dark Tower epic fantasy saga stands as Stephen King’s most beguiling achievement. It has been the basis for a long-running Marvel comic series.
Now, with The Wind Through the Keyhole, King has returned to the rich landscape of Mid-World. This story within a story within a story finds Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger, in his early days during the guilt-ridden year following his mother’s death. Sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man,” Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, a brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Roland, himself only a teenager, calms the boy by reciting a story from the Book of Eld that his mother used to read to him at bedtime. “A person’s never too old for stories,” he says to Bill. “Man and boy, girl and woman, we live for them.”
Sure to captivate the avid fans of the Dark Tower epic, this is an enchanting introduction to Roland’s world and the power of Stephen King’s storytelling magic.
Why I'm Excited:  Ohmygosh.  I can not express my love for the Dark Tower series.  I found a copy of The Gunslinger on my mother's bookshelf and that was the only one she had and after I was finished with it, I immediately went out and got the rest of them.  I LOVE this series, and I had heard about this being released, but had completely forgotten about it.  Apparently, this is not the cover, but this is the cover that BN.com is showing so it will do for now.  Anyone else as excited as I am?!
So I searched and searched and search and I couldn't find a single thing worth featuring here for today.  It makes me sad.  What a sad state music is in right now. :[

Monday, December 19, 2011

Manic Monday: Week of December 19

We all know that Mondays are typically pretty manic for us all.  Honestly, who in the world likes Mondays?!  So here's an attempt for me to organize my thoughts for the week.  Here you'll find what I'm reading, what I will picking up next, different posts that you can expect in the upcoming week, and a recap of the posts from last week!  And anything else I see fit, of course :]

You guys will have to excuse me as I get back into the swing of things!  I still haven't had too much time to get reading finished, because it seems that I'm always somewhere, doing something, and since this is the holiday season, my work and everything else has been pretty crazy.  I do have some posts lined up this week, so take a look underneath!

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What can you expect this week?
++  Tuesday:  I WILL post a NRT this week!
++  Wednesday:  A review of The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie.
++  Friday: TGIF!
++  Saturday: Maybe an IMM, maybe nothing.
++ Sunday: Sunday Salon.

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In case you missed it....
++  Review of Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie.  3 of 5 stars.
++  TGIF!  Which of your posts have been the most popular this year?

Friday, December 16, 2011

TGIF: Most Popular

TGIF!  Everyone loves Friday right?  This is a feature hosted by Ginger at Greadsbooks.com.  Ginger posts a discussion question every Friday and provides a post where bloggers link their posts.  It's a fantastic way to get to know other bloggers!   Interested in participating?  Hop on over to Greads! feature page and learn more and see upcoming questions!

This Friday's Question:
Most Popular: What blog post has gotten the most comments/activity on your blog this year?


So according to my blogger stats, My review of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island actually has the most page views.  However, I think this is only because I have the image of the book cover on the post, and I think a lot of people looking for the image when they Google search get pointed in the direction of the page, so really, that's just a big fail. 
I think the same thing goes for my review with the second most views, The Regulators by Stephen King.

However, my Best of the Bunch post for September of this year has quite a bit of page views and several comments as well.  Some of the other posts that have a lot of activity are other TGIF posts and some IMM posts, which is to be expected.

Overall, since this is the first year that I've really blogged steadily, and being in school most of the time on top of it, I would say I've had pretty decent success on my blog.  People are reading my posts, I've gained a lot of new followers over the year and met some pretty amazing bloggers.  I think that's what is most important to me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

REVIEW: Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie

book cover of Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie
Title: Appointment with Death
Author: Agatha Christie
Date Published: First published in 1938
Genre: Mystery
Page Count: 256 pages
Challenge: None
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Poirot finds himself on another vacation, this time to Jordan, and finds himself in the midst of yet another suspicious death with another investigation. Only this one has been ruled to be of natural causes and he has given himself a mere 24 hours to solve this mystery.

The Boyntons are a family that is trapped under the tyrannical reign of their mother, who takes great joy in seeing her children suffer under her and having complete control. The majority of the book takes place before the actual death and really gives the reader and idea of who is who and what each of the characters are like and who could possibly have a motive. While in other books, like Murder on the Orient Express, there is a large focus on the actual investigation, there is more of an emphasis on the characters and the events leading up to the death.
Christie does a fantastic job I think with the lead up. There are so many different characters, each with motives and you have to sort through the facts in the brief investigation to come to the conclusion about the killer.
Overall I liked it. A fast read, but not one of my super favorites. I give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Appointment with Death

Monday, December 12, 2011

Manic Monday: Week of December 12

We all know that Mondays are typically pretty manic for us all.  Honestly, who in the world likes Mondays?!  So here's an attempt for me to organize my thoughts for the week.  Here you'll find what I'm reading, what I will picking up next, different posts that you can expect in the upcoming week, and a recap of the posts from last week!  And anything else I see fit, of course :]

So this is my attempt to return to blogging.  There's not a whole lot to talk about just yet, as I haven't read much and as you can see, the what you missed section I just went ahead and took out, but in the weeks to come there will be more to these posts again, promise!

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I'm about a million miles behind in this readalong.  I'm really beginning to wonder if I'm going to make it through the whole thing before the end of the year, but I'm going to make a serious effort!

The Stream: Discovery by Bill Jones
This is starting to get interesting actually and I'm starting to like the characters more.  We're starting to get to the main action and things are starting to make more sense so I think I might like this one.  I'm hoping to finish it this week.

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What will I be picking up next?
I have that pile of review requests that I need to get through before I can really pick up anything else.  I don't think that it will take me too long to get through them once I get back in the groove of things.

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What can you expect this week?
++  Tuesday: New Release Tuesday!
++  Wednesday: A review of An Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie
++  Friday: TGIF!
++  Saturday: Maybe an IMM will make an appearance, we'll see.
++ Sunday: The Sunday Salon!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm a Graduate!

Alright guys, I told you that I would be back, and here I am!  My graduation was Thursday evening and I received my empty diploma cover, and it's all over!  So happy to be finished with undergrad!  Although its going to be weird, since I'm used to working through the holidays and then going back to school in January.  Now its on to the next step in my life, and I'm so happy to be moving on, though it is pretty scary at the same time.

Samantha Leighanne 2011 graduateI have missed blogging and reading so much!  I read one book throughout the entire month of November I'm miles and miles and miles behind in Anna Karenina and all of the review requests that I said I was going to finish to November.  I just didn't have the time, but I want to try and make up for lost time and get all of those review requests read in December and January and then I want to take some time and actually concentrate on all of the books I have on my shelves before I actually begin taking requests again.  I want to get myself back in the groove of things.
I was really bad at answering emails through this hiatus, so if you emailed me and never received a response, I'm so sorry, but other things were just holding my attention and I was trying really hard to keep my priorities in order and this was second priority to school!

Anyway, I'm back, you can expect posts again starting tomorrow, all the regulars and a few reviews of some things that I managed to read this past week.  I have missed reading, blogging, and reading all of your blogs, so I hope to get caught up in that department soon!  I have over 1,000 posts in my Google Reader, so it might take me a while to get caught up, but I thank you all for reading and sticking around until I got back to everything <3

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Approaching!

My graduation that is.  I have worked so hard for 4 and a half years, and its finally 10 days away.  I'm finishing up assignments, getting ready for exams, and working my butt off at Old Navy for holiday season.  Its all very surreal.  I can't believe I've reached this stage in my life, and I'm so glad that I have.  I've met some amazing people in college, ones that I think I'll always stay friend with, no matter how far away from them I am.
My grandma is flying down from Massachusetts a few days before my graduation, which is very exciting, but the person that means the most in the world to me isn't going to get to be there.  I'd be lying if I said that wasn't incredibly upsetting to me, but it is what it is and I'll get to see him shortly afterward, so I guess that makes up for it.

As far as reading, I haven't finished a book, I have read at all over the break, I haven't had time to even check my google reader!  So, I'm doing that now and maybe after the 10th I'll be able to get things back to normal and resume reading and posting and everything else.

Just wanted to do a quick update!  I promise i'm coming back soon!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Short Haitus

Alright, I love blogging and I love reading and I love reading other blogs, but I have no time this month.  I have only a few more weeks until my graduation and I have a lot to d between now and then.  This is the beginning of the rest of my life and I'm scared to death, but I'm ready for it at the same time.
Normally, at this point, I would have read at least 5 books.  I've finished one, and I'm halfway through another.  I just have had no time to do anything at all, let alone read.  I hate that I haven't had time to read at least the review requests, but this is life, and school is my most important priority.
So, that being said, I'm taking a slight break from blogging and reading.  This is the busiest week in retail and I'm pushing 40 hours.  I have no idea when I'm going to get my reading and blogging groove back but I'm going to try really hard not to be gone too long.  I don't have anything scheduled, so there's just going to be silence on my end.  So, sorry for that.  I promise I'll be back as soon as possible!  Probably midway through the month of December.  I hope you'll all be here when I get back!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

REVIEW: The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory.

book cover of The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Title: The Boleyn Inheritance
Author: Philippa Gregory
Date Published:  December 5, 2006
Genre: Historical fiction
Page Count:  518 pages
Challenge:  None
Rating:  3.25 out of 5 stars


Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I had already read The Other Boleyn Girl (see my review here) and I loved it, so I thought that this would be another work of genius.  I was disappointed.  Not that it was bad, I thought it just left some things to be desired.

This book follows three woman, Anne of Cleaves, Henry's wife after the death of Jane Seymour, Jane Boleyn, wife to George Boleyn and sister in law to Anna and Mary Boleyn, and Katherine Howard, yet another one of Henry's wives.  Each of these women are distinctly different, but each of them have one thing in common, the Boleyn inheritance.  Each of them have inherited different things and this book chronicles this.

The stories of these three women are told in their own words, in chronological order, switching from perspective to perspective.  We learn how Anne of Cleaves was saved from the scaffold, but how Katherine and Jane were subsequently sent to their deaths.  You could really feel for these women as we watched their king descend into madness and growing anxiety and suspicion.
You really learned who these women were and what drove them.  Anne of Cleaves came from a broken household and abusive family to fall in love with her new country and make a good queen.  Jane is still serving as a pawn in The Duke of Norfolk's game of advancement, but is tormented by the love that she felt for George and Anne and her guilt.  Little Kitty Howard is also a pawn in the game, but more for herself.  She continually recounts the things that she has, or doesn't have, showing her simple mind.

I liked the characters.  I thought that it was really interesting that Gregory was continuing the story with a few characters from the previous book and some new editions.  As much as I liked it though, I didn't really connect with the characters as much as I would have liked and I think that had something to do with the writing style.  It felt much more mechanical to me that it did in the previous book, and I just had a hard time getting into the writing, not so much the story.

I liked this book, though it pales in comparison to The Other Boleyn Girl.  A lot of people complain about the historical accuracy of her books, and if that's something that will bother you, I don't know if I would pick her books up.  If you're like me, and you like a good story with the history, you'd like this.  I give it a 3.25 out of 5 stars.

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com   The Boleyn Inheritance

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Release Tuesday (27)

New Release Tuesday is a weekly feature where I share what I'm excited about in both books and music. Sometimes its release day is close, other times it can be several weeks or months in advance. I only feature one for each category, but there a LOADS of new and upcoming releases and you can find them by visiting B&N.com or FYE.com!
Title:  Micro
Author: Michael Crichton and Richard Preston
Release Date:  November 22, 2011
Summary:  In the vein of Jurassic Park, this high concept thriller follows a group of graduate students lured to Hawaii to work for a mysterious biotech company—only to find themselves cast out into the rain forest, with nothing but their scientific expertise and wits to protect them. An instant classic, Micro pits nature against technology in vintage Crichton fashion. Completed by visionary science writer Richard Preston, this boundary-pushing thriller melds scientific fact with pulse-pounding fiction to create yet another masterpiece of sophisticated, cutting-edge entertainment.
Why I'm Excited:  I've actually never read a Michael Crichton book before, but I know a lot of people have read a lot of his books.  This is apparently the book that Crichton was writing when he died, and Richard Preston finished it.  Thought there might be some other interested in this one!
Album Title:  Returners
Artist:  A Ghost Inside
Release Date:  December 31, 2011
Why I'm Excited:  I discovered A Ghost Inside a while back and really liked them.  Its sort of the cookie cutter genre with the screaming and some clean vocals thrown in there, but they have a slightly different sound musically that I really like.  The harmonies on the other albums are nice, and the melodies and such.  Hopefully this album will be a continuation of those things and it will be just as good, if not better.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Manic Monday: Week of November 14

We all know that Mondays are typically pretty manic for us all.  Honestly, who in the world likes Mondays?!  So here's an attempt for me to organize my thoughts for the week.  Here you'll find what I'm reading, what I will picking up next, different posts that you can expect in the upcoming week, and a recap of the posts from last week!  And anything else I see fit, of course :]

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I am painfully behind in this saga.  However, things are starting to get interesting in some respects.  Anna has said some crazy things to her husband, we're learning more about country life with Levin and Kitty seems to be all better after her stint abroad.  I know things are about to get even more interesting, and I still have about another 200 pages to read before I'm actually on track.  But, seeing as my schedule is lax this week, I have the time and it will happen!  Expect the full write up for the last few weeks this Thursday.  I'm serious this time!

The Stream: Discovery by Bill Jones, Jr.
Once again, I can't really say too much about this once, as I'm still not very far into it.  I want to read more of it, I really do, but I'm trying to get caught up with Anna Karenina and this one just isn't grabbing my attention.  I'm on the third chapter.  We'll see how much farther I can get this week.

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What will I be picking up next?
When I'm caught up with Anna Karenina and I get further along in The Stream: Discovery, I'm going to grab another one of  the print books off my pile.  I'm going to start off with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min.  I think that I can finish that one relatively quickly while reading the other two as well.  As soon as I finish The Stream: Discovery, I'm going to grab Hazardous Choices by Joseph Rinaldo as my next review request.

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What can you expect this week?
++  Tuesday: NRT, featuring some awesome, awesome things.
++  Wednesday:  A book review of The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory.
++ Thursday: I will do the Anna Karenina write up this week.  It has to happen!
++  Friday:  TGIF, where we'll be talking about what books we're thankful for receiving from other bloggers or friends or family.
++  Saturday:  Nothing planned.  Maybe I'll have another review to post here!
++ Sunday:  Sunday Salon.

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In case you missed it....
++   New Release Tuesday, featuring a biography of Catherine the Great and the newest release from Mac Miller
++   Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, a book review.  Discusses plot points, so if you haven't read it, be wary!
++   TGIF: Character we Love to Hate
++   The triumphant return of In My Mailbox!  Featuring a vlog :]

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

TGIF: Characters We Love to Hate

TGIF!  Everyone loves Friday right?  This is a feature hosted by Ginger at Greadsbooks.com.  Ginger posts a discussion question every Friday and provides a post where bloggers link their posts.  It's a fantastic way to get to know other bloggers!   Interested in participating?  Hop on over to Greads! feature page and learn more and see upcoming questions!

This Friday's Question:
Love-Hate Relationship: Which characters from a book do you love to hate?


I had to think about this one for a good few minutes before I came up with a few, but here they are.

  • Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter Series.  Of course he's supposed to be that character that everyone is suppossed to hate, but I think a lot of readers secretly loved him.  I felt bad for him, but I still hated him.  It was really hard not to.
  • Pendleton from Dead of Winter.  I hated this man.  The more that we got into the story, the more and more I hated him and the more I wanted him to just go ahead and be slaughtered.  That probably sounds horrible, but if you read the book, you'll see why I hated him.
  • Waleran Bigod from Pillars of the Earth.  He was such a dirty old man.  And I don't mean dirty as in pervert, he was just an asshole who would stop at nothing to get his own way and further himself.  I hated him a lot, but he added a lot to the story.
  • William Hamleigh of Pillars of the Earth.  I hated Waleran, but I think I hated William more.  Waleran, I could understand his purpose, but William was just a spoiled brat that didn't care about anyone.  I don't think I would have hated him as much as I did, had a not watched the miniseries first.  He was a lot more despicable in the minseries.
  • Carlos Vicente Solitario from The Witch of Cologne.  Now he really was a nasty old man, who was all pissed off because he became infatuated with a Jew, so he felt like he needed to persecute her daughter.  He was an asshole extraordinaire as well.
Which characters do you just love to hate?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

REVIEW: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

book cover of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Title: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Shelley
Date Published: First published in 1818
Genre:  Classic Literature
Page Count: 203 pages
Challenge: None
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

**Since this is a classic novel that is required reading in many high schools, I do discuss plot points that are critical to the story.  If you haven't read this book, you may want to skip over this post!**

This is a classic that I always meant to read, and I just never really got around to it.  However, for the month of October, I thought it would be an appropriate novel to read.
In the past, I've struggled with some classics novels that everyone says that you should read.  There were some rough spots that I hit in this one, but for the most part I enjoyed it.

I think we're all familiar with the concept of Frankenstein, so I won't do a synopsis.
This book has a lot of different levels, and I think that I would need to read it more than once to really pick up on everything that is in it, but the beginning was one of my biggest complaints.  It was a series of letters that has nothing to do with the central story and I actually had to skip ahead to make sure that I had the right book and I didn't download another book accidentally!  However, once we meet Victor Frankenstein, we start learning his story and the story of the monster that her created.
There were several passages throughout this book that I thought were just boring, and I struggled through those passages as well.  The entire book wasn't like that.  I actually enjoyed the narration of the monster, and was really surprised by the fact that he was so intelligent.  One thing, if you've ever seen a Frankenstein movie, it has nothing to do with this book.  The concept of the monster is the same, but there really is nothing else.  The movies have a hideous creature who is stupid as well, and this is not the case in the book.

There's so much emotion in this book.  Victor is completely appalled by what he has done and suffers several breakdowns throughout.  There is death in Victor's family, which causes him much grief as well, especially since he blames himself for a good portion of that.  There is a lot of emotion from the monster as he struggles to find where he belongs and struggles to understand why his creator has abandoned him.  He longs for the company of others and acceptance, but never finds it and it turns him.

Another things that struck me as interesting, is the face that this is written by a woman, yet there are no strong female characters anywhere in the book.  The mother dies early on, Justine confesses to a crime she didn't commit and is thus executed, and Elizabeth waits for Victor for years, and is killed by the monster right after they are married.  Also, the monster begs Victor to make him a mate, one as ugly as he, so he can finally have someone to spend his time with.  Victor initially agrees, but destroys her halfway through because he feared that he wouldn't be able to control her actions and she would be murderous as well.

As I said, this is a novel that I would have to read more than once to really get the full effect of it.  There are a lot of different concepts and a lot of different motifs I think that are woven through this.  Overall, it is a good classic novel, even if I did struggle with the writing, through everyone else may not.  If you love classic literature and you haven't read this, you need to!  3.75 out of 5 stars!

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Frankenstein

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Release Tuesday (26)

New Release Tuesday is a weekly feature where I share what I'm excited about in both books and music. Sometimes its release day is close, other times it can be several weeks or months in advance. I only feature one for each category, but there a LOADS of new and upcoming releases and you can find them by visiting B&N.com or FYE.com!
Title:  Catherine the Great
Author:  Robert K. Massie
Release Date:  November 8, 2011
Summary:  The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, andThe Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history.
Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into Empress of Russia by sheer determination. Possessing a brilliant mind and an insatiable curiosity as a young woman, she devoured the works of Enlightenment philosophers and, when she reached the throne, attempted to use their principles to guide her rule of the vast and backward Russian empire. She knew or corresponded with the preeminent historical figures of her time: Voltaire, Diderot, Frederick the Great, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette, and, surprisingly, the American naval hero, John Paul Jones.
Reaching the throne fired by Enlightenment philosophy and determined to become the embodiment of the “benevolent despot” idealized by Montesquieu, she found herself always contending with the deeply ingrained realities of Russian life, including serfdom. She persevered, and for thirty-four years the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution that swept across Europe. Her reputation depended entirely on the perspective of the speaker. She was praised by Voltaire as the equal of the greatest of classical philosophers; she was condemned by her enemies, mostly foreign, as “the Messalina of the north.”
Catherine’s family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies—all are here, vividly described. These included her ambitious, perpetually scheming mother; her weak, bullying husband, Peter (who left her lying untouched beside him for nine years after their marriage); her unhappy son and heir, Paul; her beloved grandchildren; and her “favorites”—the parade of young men from whom she sought companionship and the recapture of youth as well as sex. Here, too, is the giant figure of Gregory Potemkin, her most significant lover and possible husband, with whom she shared a passionate correspondence of love and separation, followed by seventeen years of unparalleled mutual achievement.
The story is superbly told. All the special qualities that Robert K. Massie brought to Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Greatare present here: historical accuracy, depth of understanding, felicity of style, mastery of detail, ability to shatter myth, and a rare genius for finding and expressing the human drama in extraordinary lives.
History offers few stories richer in drama than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, this eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.
Why I'm Excited:  I've always loved history, and historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.  While this may not be fiction, things like this still interest me and I would love to read this!
Album Title:  Blue Slide Park
Artist:  Mac Miller
Release Date:  November 8, 2011
Why I'm Excited:  Honestly, I can't say that I listen to much Mac Miller.  However, my other half does and this is an artist that I've been seeing more and more of lately.  I thought that this was a worthy feature. :]

Monday, November 7, 2011

Manic Monday: Week of November 7.

We all know that Mondays are typically pretty manic for us all.  Honestly, who in the world likes Mondays?!  So here's an attempt for me to organize my thoughts for the week.  Here you'll find what I'm reading, what I will picking up next, different posts that you can expect in the upcoming week, and a recap of the posts from last week!  And anything else I see fit, of course :]

The Stream: Discovery by Bill Jones Jr.
I picked this one up before October even ended, and I haven't managed to get very far into it.  Not for lack of wanting to.  Something about it is just not sitting right with me.  But, I'm only at the very beginning of it, so there is a lot that can happen between now and then.

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
I read The Other Boleyn Girl last year and I loved it, I thought that it was pretty fantastic.  So, this is a continuation of some of the characters from that book.  I like the story line, but the biggest problem I'm having is that some of the writing seems almost mechanical.  I usually never have anything to say about the writing,but something about this is bugging me.  But I still like it so far.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I am painfully behind is the read-a-long.  I really hope to get caught up this week.  I have three sections that I have to get through, which is about 180 pages, which is easily doable, I just hope I find the time.  I'm not behind because I don't like it, I'm just behind because I never have time to do anything.

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What will I be picking up next?
I have 4 more review requests to get through once I finish the one I'm reading now.  I hope that I can get these finished pretty quickly so that I can read some more of the physical books that are on my shelf.  I hope to get at least 3 of those read this month.

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What can you expect this week?
++  Tuesday: Another NRT, featuring a biography of Catherine the Great and the newest release from Mac Miller
++  Wednesday:  Finally, that review of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley that I was talking about last week.
++ Thursday: Anna Karenina Thursday.  It's normally Friday, but since I'm so behind, I figured it wouldn't hurt to be a day early!
++  Friday:  TGIF, where we talk about characters that we just love to hate.
++  Saturday: Maybe a review, maybe something else.
++ Sunday: The Sunday salon, as usual.

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In case you missed it....
++  My Best of the Bunch Selection from the month of October
++  A quick rewind video to wrap up what I read for October
++  November TBR pile, featuring some review requests and a lot of historical fiction.
++  A book review of Murder in Three Acts by Agatha Christie, 3 stars

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Sunday Salon (27)

So this week I hit a bit of a slump.  Even when I've had a million things going on, I've found the time to make sure that I have posts scheduled, and I usually post once a day.  However, this week was a little different.  The last post I made was Wednesday.  I still have a review to write and I haven't even really done much reading either this week.  I hot a rough spot for a few days.  I also think that it had to do with the book that I was reading because as soon as I picked up another book, I read A LOT.

I hate it when I don't get to post for a few days.  Since I don't have to go into work until 7 tonight (the all-store holiday meeting), I plan on getting some posts scheduled for the week, and not just halfway through the week.  I'm also painfully behind in Anna Karenina.  Two weeks behind actually.  I need to make some time to catch up with that.

In other awesome news, I won a $50 gas gift card this past week.  And I had to go take a stupid diagnostic test Saturday morning, which was nonsense because it asked questions about calculus and statistics, which I haven't taken in about 2 years now.  I've never been good at math anyway, so I just guessed with those questions.  Luckily, its a diagnostic tool for the school of business and doesn't count as an actual grade.  Very happy about that.
But aside from the stupid test, this week will be fantastic, because my entire family and I are going to see The Foo Fighters on Tuesday in Charlotte.  So, I'm excited about that.

So this post was more about my personal life than anything, but it won't be next week, because next week I'm going to make sure that my life is back to normal.  So, be on the lookout for that.  As always, have a fantastic Sunday, and happy reading!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

REVIEW: Murder in Three Acts by Agatha Christie

book cover of Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie
Title:  Murder in Three Acts
Author: Agatha Christie
Date Published:  First published in 1934
Genre: Mystery
Page Count:  230 pages
Challenge:  Forgotten Treasures Challenge
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Christie does it again!  I absolutely love her books.

"The Reverend Stephen Babbington seldom imbibes, but at a gala thrown by actor Sir Charles Cartwright, he indulges in a cocktail and falls over dead. Since there is no trace of poison or foul play, the case is closed . . . until an identical death at a London party arouses the suspicions of Hercule Poirot."


After Mr. Babbington's untimely death, Mr. Satterthwaite, Sir Charles Cartwright and Sir Bartholomew Strange begin to suspect foul play.  Of course, after it is dismissed, Strange ends up dead as well.  Cartwright and Satterthwaite, both on holiday abroad, take a trip back to see if they can shed light on the situation and of course, Hercule Poirot comes to help as well.

I'm really starting to wonder if I will ever guess the culprit before the end of the book with Christie.  I usually can guess the ending of any book or movie, but with her I never can!  But, that's why I adore her books so much.  Once again, she leads you to believe that the murderer might be anyone, leaves subtle hints, but most of them you never see until the conclusion.  Amazing mystery.
I will say that the only thing that I didn't enjoy was how little of a part Poirot played throughout the book.  Satterthwaite was more of the narrator and more of the person who found different clues.  Not that this was terrible, I just really enjoy Poirot's character.

Great mystery, but for the small part Poirot plays, I give it a 3 out of 5.

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Murder in Three Acts

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November TBR Pile!



Click the titles to view a synopsis and reviews on Goodreads.com!
Mercy by Joshua Grover-David Patterson 
Fairy Godmother-in-Law by Joshua Grover-David Patterson
The Stream: Discovery by Bill Jones, Jr.
Hazardous Choices by Joseph Rinaldo
Keeping Cooper by Samantha Masone
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
The Last Empress by Anchee Min

Monday, October 31, 2011

Manic Monday: October Wrap Up.

We all know that Mondays are typically pretty manic for us all.  Honestly, who in the world likes Mondays?!  So here's an attempt for me to organize my thoughts for the week.  Here you'll find what I'm reading, what I will picking up next, different posts that you can expect in the upcoming week, and a recap of the posts from last week!  And anything else I see fit, of course :]
Happy Halloween Everyone!
So, since this is the end of the month, this is just a wrap up post chronicling the month of October.  Here's a quick vlog with the books that I read for the month and what I thought of them.





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What will I be picking up next?
For the month of November, I'm going to read reading A LOT of historical fiction.  I have piles and piles and piles of it on my shelves and its been staring me down for a while now.  Not to mention the fact that it's one of my favorite genres and I haven't gotten a chance to read it in quite a while now!

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What can you expect this week?
++  Tuesday: Rather than NRT, I'll be posting a TBR vlog with the books that I hope to get read for the month.
++  Wednesday: A book review of Murder in Three Acts by Agatha Christie.
++  Thursday: Another Book Review of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
++  Friday: TGIF!  This week we'll be talking about gateway books.  I'll also have my writeup for weeks 3 and 4 of Anna Karenina.
++  Saturday: Maybe I review, maybe nothing.  Not really sure about this yet!
++  Sunday: Of course, The Sunday Salon!

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In case you missed it....
++  New Release Tuesday, featuring the newest from Diana Gabaldon as well as an upcoming release from artist Tegan and Sarah.
++  A book review of Baby Teeth by Joshua Grover-David Patterson.  4 out of 5 stars.
++  A book review of The Demon's Apprentice by Ben Reeder.  3.75 out of 5 stars.
++  Movie review of Inception (2010).  B rating, good movie!
++  TGIF: Spooktacular Reads, where we talk about books good to read for Halloween!
++  The Sunday Salon (26), where I talk about my upcoming graduation and ask how you plan your TBR piles for the month.
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