Thursday, February 24, 2011

REVIEW: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein

book cover of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. TolkienTitle:  The Fellowship of the Ring
Author:  J. R. R. Tolkien
Date Published:  Originally published in 1954
Genre:  Science Fiction, Classic Literature, Fantasy
Page Count:  432 pages
Challenge:  E-Book Challenge

I was scared to read this at first.  I'm usually the type of person who would rather read the book than watch the movie.  Seeing the movie first usually ruins things.  But in this case, because the movies were so phenomenal (in my humble opinion), I did see them before I read this.  However, I have to say that I was not disappointed at all in the book at all.

The prologue was so hard to get through.  Oh, it was ridiculously hard.  I wanted to quit right then, but I made it through the prologue and it picked up from there.  I was surprised at how close the book was with the movie, but of course there were differences.  There were a few characters that they left out that I loved, like Tom.

I see reviews all the time about how this book isn't great and how Tolkien isn't a great writer and this book is overrated and this, that and the third, and I think those people can just shove it, once again, in my humble opinion.  There is no perfect writer, and everyone has differences of opinion.  But I think that this is a classic, and anyone who hasn't read it and loves fantasy, should read this book.  I give this book 5 our of 5 stars.


Think you might want to give this book a try?  Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com!  The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings

Hiatus.

So I've been on a bit of a hiatus for the past two or so weeks.  I normally can find some time to do some scheduled posts, but my school schedule has been pretty hectic and I just haven't been able to find the time.  I've barely had time to read at all, though I did finish The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings.  I should be able to finish Welcome to the Monkey House in the next few days.  I also started The Colorado Kid (Hard Case Crime #13) yesterday, which I'll be finishing later on tonight.

I'm sorry that I've been absent!  I do have the weekend off so I hope to get through some scheduled posts and some reviews.

<3

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

REVIEW: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

Title:  Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard
Author:  Kiran Desai
Date Published:  1999
Genre:  Non-Western Literature
Page Count:  224 pages
Challenge:  None

book cover of Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai
     I had to read this book for my Non-Western Literature class that I took a few semesters back, and I loved every book that we read, except for this one.

     The book is set in India, Sampath, a boy who's birth coincided with the end of a massive drought, a boy that the town said was destined for great things.  However, as he nears his twenties, Sampath has been a failure to his family and has embarrassed them in more than one way.  But suddenly, Sampath climbs into a guava tree and becomes a holy man for the people of his town, and of course his father capitalizes on his success.

     I just could not get into this book to save my life!  It was slow going and the characters were just really odd.  Sampath's mother was a very strange character, who loves to cook, but can't find anything to satisfy her appetite.  His sister is a pretty strange character, too.  There are certain parts that made me laugh out loud, just because it was so out there.  And the ending was just so bizarre that I couldn't wrap my head around it.

     For learning parts of India's culture, I did like this book.  I just couldn't get into the story.  Overall, I would give this book a 2.5 out of 5.

Think you might want to give this book a try?  Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard: A Novel

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where you basically post your week in books.  Interested in participating?  Click the link to sign up!

Not really a whole lot going on this week, just trying to get through what I'm currently reading, but I have been on a Vonnegut kick!



Books I Bought
None this week.
NookBooks I Downloaded
None this week.
Books I'm Currently Reading
1984 Anna Karenina The Fellowship of the Ring
Books I Started
Welcome to the Monkey House
Books I Finished
Slaughterhouse-Five

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On My Wishlist (6)

On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City.  Click the link to sign up!
This week's edition are just books that I've really wanted to read for a long time and I just have never gotten around to getting them!  And it just so happens that all of these are historical fiction.

book cover of Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenTitle:  Memoirs of a Geisha 
Author:  Arthur Golden
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Page Count:  434 pages
Summary:  (From Goodreads.com)  According to Arthur Golden's absorbing first novel, the word "geisha" does not mean "prostitute," as Westerners ignorantly assume--it means "artisan" or "artist." To capture the geisha experience in the art of fiction, Golden trained as long & hard as any geisha who must master the arts of music, dance, clever conversation, crafty battle with rival beauties & cunning seduction of wealthy patrons. After earning degrees in Japanese art & history from Harvard & Columbia--& an M.A. in English--he met a man in Tokyo who was the illegitimate offspring of a renowned businessman & a geisha. This meeting inspired Golden to spend 10 years researching every detail of geisha culture, chiefly relying on the geisha Mineko Iwasaki, who spent years charming the very rich & famous. The result is a novel with the broad social canvas (& love of coincidence) of Charles Dickens & Jane Austen's intense attention to the nuances of erotic maneuvering. Readers experience the entire life of a geisha, from her origins as an orphaned fishing-village girl in 1929 to her triumphant auction of her mizuage (virginity) for a record price as a teenager to her reminiscent old age as the distinguished mistress of the powerful patron of her dreams. We discover that a geisha is more analogous to a Western "trophy wife" than to a prostitute--&, as in Austen, flat-out prostitution & early death is a woman's alternative to the repressive, arcane system of courtship. In simple, elegant prose, Golden puts us right in the tearoom with the geisha; we are there as she gracefully fights for her life in a social situation where careers are made or destroyed by a witticism, a too-revealing (or not revealing enough) glimpse of flesh under the kimono, or a vicious rumor spread by a rival "as cruel as a spider." Golden's web is finely woven, but his book has a serious flaw: the geisha's true romance rings hollow--the love of her life is a symbol, not a character. Her villainous geisha nemesis is sharply drawn, but she would be more so if we got a deeper peek into the cause of her motiveless malignity--the plight all geisha share. Still, Golden has won the triple crown of fiction: he has created a plausible female protagonist in a vivid, now-vanished world, & he gloriously captures Japanese culture by expressing his thoughts in authentic Eastern metaphors.
book cover of The Historian by Elizabeth KostovaTitle:  This Historian
Author:  Elizabeth Kostava
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Page Count:  734 pages
Summary: (From Goodreads.com)  Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to 'My dear and unfortunate successor'. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of - a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history. 

In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright - a hunt for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the Dracula myth. Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. 

Elizabeth Kostova's debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions - a captivating tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful - and utterly unforgettable.
book cover of Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy ChevalierTitle:  Girl with a Pearl Earring
Author:  Tracy Chevalier
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Page Count:  256 pages
Summary:  (From Goodreads.com)  With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer's extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age. His portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has exerted a particular fascination for centuries--and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier's second novel of the same title.
Girl with a Pearl Earring centers on Vermeer's prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel's quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant--and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model. Chevalier vividly evokes the complex domestic tensions of the household, ruled over by the painter's jealous, eternally pregnant wife and his taciturn mother-in-law. At times the relationship between servant and master seems a little anachronistic. Still, Girl with a Pearl Earringdoes contain a final delicious twist.
Throughout, Chevalier cultivates a limpid, painstakingly observed style, whose exactitude is an effective homage to the painter himself. Even Griet's most humdrum duties take on a high if unobtrusive gloss:
I came to love grinding the things he brought from the apothecary--bones, white lead, madder, massicot--to see how bright and pure I could get the colors. I learned that the finer the materials were ground, the deeper the color. From rough, dull grains madder became a fine bright red powder and, mixed with linseed oil, a sparkling paint. Making it and the other colors was magical.
In assembling such quotidian particulars, the author acknowledges her debt to Simon Schama's classic study The Embarrassment of Riches. Her novel also joins a crop of recent, painterly fictions, including Deborah Moggach's Tulip Fever and Susan Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Can novelists extract much more from the Dutch golden age? The question is an open one--but in the meantime, Girl with a Pearl Earring remains a fascinating piece of speculative historical fiction, and an appealingly new take on an old master. --Jerry Brotton

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

REVIEW: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Title:  Slaughterhouse-Five
Author:  Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Date Published:  1976 (Originally published in 1969)
Genre:  Science Fiction, Classic Literature
Page Count:  215 pages
Challenge:  Forgotten Treasures Challenge

     I don't know anyone other than my mom who has ever read this book, so I didn't really know much about it going into it.
     The story is about Billy Pilgrim, a prisoner of war, who survived the bombing of Dresden in WWII (Like Vonnegut himself) and randomly becomes "unstuck" in time.  On top of that, he was also abducted by aliens and taken to live on the planet of Tralfamadore.

     This novel was so strange to me.  Because Billy randomly becomes unstuck in time, the narrative is hard to follow at first.  Vonnegut also likes repetition, and alludes to the same events multiple times, and uses the same phrase, "So it goes."  In reading reviews, I've noticed that tended to drive a lot of people crazy, but I felt like it was rather appropriate, since the novel does have a lot to do with war and death and acceptance of these things.  There are moments of comic relief, like Billy walking around with silver boots, an azure toga, and a coat wrapped around his hands like a muff.  This adds a nice touch, since most of this book really is serious in nature.
      The element of the Tralfamadorians and the philosophies that Billy discusses with them, makes me think that Vonnegut has an issue with freewill.  But, I'm not going to sit here and analyze the book, I'll let you read it for yourself and decide.

     I liked this book.  It really was a lot to think about though.  There were moments that I really had to stop and think about what was said.  Anyway, good book, quite a bit of repetition though, which takes a minute of getting used to and the changes in scenes take a minute to get used to as well.  Overall, I give this a 4 out of 5.

Think you might want to give this book a try?  Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Release Tuesday! (3)

Here's a weekly feature where I share what I'm excited about for the upcoming week in both books and music.  I only feature one or two for each category, but there a LOADS of new releases every Tuesday and you can find them by visiting B&N.com or FYE.com!
book cover of Sing you Home by Jodi PicoultTitle:  Sing You Home
Author:  Jodi Picoult
Release Date:  March 2011
Summary:  (From Barnes and Noble)   Every life has a soundtrack. All you have to do is listen.
Music has set the tone for most of Zoe Baxter’s life. There’s the melody that reminds her of the summer she spent rubbing baby oil on her stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. A dance beat that makes her think of using a fake ID to slip into a nightclub. A dirge that marked the years she spent trying to get pregnant.
For better or for worse, music is the language of memory. It is also the language of love.
In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people—even those she loves and trusts most—don’t want that to happen.
Sing You Home is about identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. It’s about people wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, even as they work to fulfill their own personal desires and dreams. And it’s about what happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family.
Why I'm Excited:  I can't say that I'm particularly excited, but once again, I have a lot of friends that love Jodi Picoult and have read everything by her.  Tear jerkers aren't really my thing, but I have been told that she's a phenomenal writer, so I hope that someone finds this of interest!
Emmure Speaker of the Dead album coverAlbum Title:  Speaker of the Dead
Artist:  Emmure
Genre:  Hardcore?
Release Date:  February 15, 2011
Why I'm Excited:  Actually, I'm really not excited about this, at all.  However, my lovely boyfriend is excited about this, so I thought this warranted a post about it.  This is not for people who won't listen to music with screaming in it.  These guys are, in my humble opinion, a direct ripoff of the Acacia Strain.  But, for the style that they play, they are not bad.  However, its just not my cup of tea.  From the track listing and the single that  has been released, this album is written for the game Street Fighter and its pretty ridiculous.  But, if you like Bring me the Horizon, The Acacia Strain or anything like that then this wouldn't be a bad album for you to check out.





Monday, February 7, 2011

REVIEW: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

book cover of Little Women by Louisa May AlcottTitle:  Little Women
Author:  Louisa May Alcott
Date Published:  First Published in 1868
Genre:  Classic Literature
Page Count:  528 pages
Challenge:  E-Book Challenge

     I've been told by so many people that this is such a classic and a must read and such, so I thought that this would be my first pick on my list for reading the classics.

     It took me a good bit to get into this book.  It began with the March girls talking about what a dismal Christmas it was going to be because their family didn't have a lot of money and they missed their father.  The whole family was just so perfect I could hardly stand it at first.
     However, as the book went on, it got better, and I was definitely glad of that. I watched as the March girls became friends with the boy neighbor, Laurie. Laurie and Jo become close, and the March family adopt the mother-less boy being raised by his grandfather.
     The children grow up, and one by one, each of them falls in love and marries and all is right with the world. Definitely a happily ever after feeling.

      When I was first reading, it made me sick just how perfect the Marches were, especially Mrs. March. She is the go to guide for anything and everything, she always has a kind word for her children and she always keeps them on the right path. I just couldn't stand it! But as I kept reading, and I really considered the time period that it was written in, I felt I could appreciate it more and I could appreciate the wholesomeness of it as well.

     I liked this book. It was a little slow at first, but the morals and values that it teaches and the time period that it was written, it was a decent read, and I did enjoy it. Overall, I would give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Think you might want to give this book a try?  Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Little Women (Signet Classics)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Sunday Salon (5)

Edition #5 of the Sunday Salon.  Remember that if you want to become a participant, log onto Facebook.com and join the group!




Oh audiobooks....
So, I've gone looking for deals on audiobooks because I really want to try one out.  I've heard so many things about them and I really wanted to try them out.  I had seen a few ads for Audible.com, so I headed on over there earlier this week to see what that was all about, and I have to say, I was sorely disappointed.  Its a subscription service, which I knew, but I did not expect $15 a month for only one audiobook a month.  I thought the price was just a little bit too ridiculous for me.
However, I did see a few audiobooks on the cheap side at my local books a million that I wanted to get.  I also saw some MP3 download books on BN.com that I wanted to get, but, unfortunately, I just don't have the extra money to spend on such things right now.  First of the year is rough in retail, and all my bills are due the first of the month instead of the end of the month, so I haven't been able to get one yet.  
I still want to see what other people have to say about audiobooks!


Couple Reading
We're still tryiing to couple reading thing.  The only thing that sucks is, we can only read about 10 pages a week, since we only see each other for one day.  We also always wait until right before bed to read, which just makes him even more sleepy, so its a little counter productive.  But we further we get into the book, the more he likes it, so for that, I am very grateful.  He's been a dream about this, and I love him for it.


Good week for reading!
My mother had surgery this week, so it was a good week for reading for me.  I managed to finish one book, get on schedule with two others, and start another one.  I want to start the Outlander series again SO BAD, but I'm trying to pick the short reads for now, because it seems that most of my school work is going to be this month, and there's nothing that I hate more than getting into a long book and having to stop for a long period of time, and I know that I would end up doing that.  So, its slow going, but I'm getting it done!


So, that's my edition of The Sunday Salon!
I hope you all have a phenomenal week, and happy reading!

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where you basically post your week in books.  Interested in participating?  Click the link to sign up!




Books I Bought
Nothing this week!  Woo!
NookBooks I Downloaded
Once again, nothing!  I'm on a roll!
Books I'm Currently Reading
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Books I Started
Photobucket
Books I Finished
Photobucket

Saturday, February 5, 2011

On My Wishlist (5)

On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City.  Click the link to sign up!
This week's edition are just some things that I have stumbled across on other blogs.  I haven't been on Goodreads too much this week, so these are pretty much just random finds!






book cover of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodTitle:  The Handmaid's Tale
Author:  Margaret Atwood
Genre:  Adult Fiction
Page Count:  388 pages
Summary:  (From Goodreads.com)  It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.
book cover of Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardTitle:  Ender's Game
Author:  Orson Scott Card
Genre:  Science Fiction
Page Count:  324 pages
Summary:  (From Goodreads.com)  In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
     Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.
book cover of In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteTitle:  In Cold Blood
Author:  Truman Capote
Genre:  True Crime
Page Count:  343 pages
Summary:  (From Goodreads.com)  On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. 
As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Release Tuesday! (2)

Here's a weekly feature where I share what I'm excited about for the upcoming week in both books and music.  I only feature one or two for each category, but there a LOADS of new releases every Tuesday and you can find them by visiting B&N.com or FYE.com!
book cover of Dead Reckoning by Charlaine HarrisTitle:  Dead Reckoning (Southern Vampire Series #11)
Author:  Charlaine Harris
Release Date:  May 2011
Summary:  Unfortunately, there is no summary available on this book yet!  But, if you're an avid reader of this series, you can definitely head right over to B&N.com and preorder!
Why I'm Excited:  While I can't say that I am personally excited because I haven't gotten around to reading this series yet, I know A LOT of people that do read this series and watch True Blood and everything.  I also know that there are several of my Sookie freak friends that did not know this was coming out.  So, I thought it would be a nice piece to share!  Since I don't have an actual summary of this yet, I will probably feature it again when it gets closer to the actual release date!
Adele 21 album cover

Album Title:  21
Artist:  Adele
Genre:  Soul, Alternative
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Why I'm Excited:  Like I've said before, I listen to everything, and lately I've gotten into really soulful sounding artists, like Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Florence + the Machine.  If you haven't listened to Adele, but you have listened to Grace Potter, or Florence, then this is definitely up your ally and I would highly recommend her as an artist!



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