Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recap: August 2011

August 2011 Monthly Recap (I will go back and update the links when I finish the reviews.)

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Leaving Paradise - Simone Elkeles

Return to Paradise - Simone Elkeles

Divorced, Desperate, and Delicious - Christie Craig

Divorced, Desperate, and Dating - Christie Craig

Divorced, Desperate, and Deceived - Christie Craig

The Day Before - Lisa Schroeder

Chain Reaction - Simone Elkeles

Some Girls Bite - Chloe Neill

Demon Girl - Penelope Fletcher

Demon Day - Penelope Fletcher

The Summer of Skinny Dipping - Amanda Howells

2011 Challenge:  75 Books Remaining

Recap: July 2011

July 2011 Monthly Recap (I will go back and update the links when I finish the reviews.)

Forever - Maggie Stiefvater

What Happened to Goodbye - Sarah Dessen

So Cold the River - Michael Koryta

2011 Challenge:  31 Books Remaining

Recap: June 2011

June 2011 Monthly Recap (I will go back and update the links when I finish the reviews.)

The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han

It's Not Summer Without You - Jenny Han

We'll Always Have Summer - Jenny Han

Fall for Anything - Courtney Summers

Bloom - Elizabeth Scott

Inner Harbor - Nora Roberts

Wicked - Sara Shephard

Hold Still - Nina LaCour

Night Star - Alyson Noel

Purple Heart - Patricia McCormick

Because I Am Furniture - Thalia Chaltas

Everlasting - Alyson Noel

For One More Day - Mitch Albom

Something, Maybe - Elizabeth Scott

Chesapeake Blue - Nora Roberts

Me, Myself, and Why? - MaryJanice Davidson

2011 Challenge:  34 Books Remaining

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Blogger Hop - June 17th, 2011

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted weekly by Crazy-For-Books!  It's a fun "hop" to connect book bloggers, and really, just anyone who loves books!  :o)  Sounds fun, right?!

This week's question is...

"How many books are in your To-Be-Read (TBR) pile?"  

It's funny that this should be the topic of this week's book blogger hop, because I spent all week long with a print out of my "TBR" pile to determine if there were any books on there that I just wasn't interested in reading anymore.  The pile is starting to get overwhelming.  I also updated the list to show if my local library carried the books, what section of the library they were in, or if they were books I would have to purchase to read.  I'm a bit anal, I tell you.  I've started this "library thing" in the past couple of years to save space and money, and instead of buying books I'm trying to find as many as I can at my local library.  At the end of the year, I donate a portion of the savings back to the library.  I use Goodreads.com to track my "TBR" list as well as the "already read" list so that I can keep track.  Anyways, there are currently 403 books on my TBR list.  Not too bad considering what it looked like at the beginning of the week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 224
Source: Library
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital in Iraq, he's honored with a Purple Heart. But he doesn't feel like a hero.

There's a memory that haunts him: an image of a young Iraqi boy as a bullet hits his chest. Matt can't shake the feeling that he was somehow involved in his death. But because of a head injury he sustained just moments after the boy was shot, Matt can't quite put all the pieces together.

Eventually Matt is sent back into combat with his squad—Justin, Wolf, and Charlene—the soldiers who have become his family during his time in Iraq. He just wants to go back to being the soldier he once was. But he sees potential threats everywhere and lives in fear of not being able to pull the trigger when the time comes. In combat there is no black-and-white, and Matt soon discovers that the notion of who is guilty is very complicated indeed.

National Book Award Finalist Patricia McCormick has written a visceral and compelling portrait of life in a war zone, where loyalty is valued above all, and death is terrifyingly commonplace.

My Thoughts:

This book was difficult for me to even pick up, but in the end, I'm glad I did.  As a ex-military wife (retired Army), I know all too well the effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and what it does to our soldiers and military personnel.  This book was about a private, Private Matt Duffy, who suffers from a TBI when he is "on the business end of an RPG."  Matt is only able to remember bits and pieces of the situation that landed him in the hospital, and he believes that he killed an innocent Iraqi child.  I don't want to spoil the book so I won't say more than that.

What I do want to say is this... Patricia McCormick interviewed soldiers, their families, and war veterans about the effects of war, life in Iraq, and returning home.  She definitely did her research and wrote a book that accurately describes (as much as I personally know from listening to stories) war.  The book does not involve politics, hidden agendas, is not swayed by conservation or liberal views.  It is simply about the people serving in our Armed Forces.  It's their story.

I'd definitely recommend reading this book.  It probably gives a much more accurate depiction of war than any news media outlet is going to give you.  It's hard to read though.  The emotional, mental, and physical demands of being a US soldier are no joke, and McCormick doesn't stray away from giving details that allow readers to understand what our military goes through.  If nothing else - read the book so that you might have more compassion and understanding on what these men and women experience.  It's only 224 pages.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Release Date:  Reprint: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Speak
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 256
Source: Library
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction.

dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.

Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself.

My Thoughts:

Wow.  This is Nina LaCour's debut novel, and it was amazing.  The book starts after Caitlin's friend Ingrid's suicide.  Caitlin quickly finds Ingrid's journal underneath her bed, and begins to read the words that Ingrid wrote as she was feeling sad and dealing with depression.  The entire novel is seen through Caitlin's eyes, as she deals with picking up the emotional pieces after receiving such devastating news.  LaCour did an amazing job of expressing the feelings that Caitlin was dealing with in a way that reader can understand.  I felt what Caitlin felt, and wanted desperately to reach out to her.  Caitlin struggles with the feeling of betrayal when she establishes relationships with new friends.  She also deals with feelings of guilt because she felt like she could have and should have known what Ingrid was dealing with.

This book deals with such an emotional and raw subject.  Suicide.  People who are left behind after someone commits suicide are forced to deal with losing their loved one, being all alone, and not having the opportunity to say goodbye.  Caitlin felt all of those things, and more.  The novel is beautiful, really, as readers watch Caitlin heal through art, music, and new friendships.

More than just reading words on a page, Hold Still forces readers to question their own relationships with those close to them.  I wondered often while reading if I had any friends experiencing the same struggles that I wasn't tuned into, what would I do if I lost my best friend to suicide and depression.  It forced me to look at myself and how I would feel and handle the same situation.

I definitely recommend this book.  Just know that the subject matter isn't jovial or light - but you'll want to know how Caitlin eventually deals with her emotions regarding Ingrid.  Hold Still will leave you thinking about it hours after you've finished the final word.  I was beyond impressed with this debut novel of Nina LaCour's and I cannot wait to see what she brings us next.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Release Date: February 10, 2009
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 464
Source: Library
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

My Thoughts:

There are not many books that leave me rendered speechless at the conclusion, but I can honestly say that The Help did just that.  The book is set in Mississippi during the 1960s in a time where segregation was the norm.  The book is narrated by three vastly different women.  Miss Skeeter who is a white woman who is interested in the plight of these colored ladies who are employed by various white families, Aibileen who reminds me a lot of my grandmother with her wisdom and courage, and then Minny, the one with the spunk.  Miss Skeeter convinces the maids of Jackson, MS to tell their stories of working for white families, the way they were treated, their relationships with the children, etc.  Each of these women put their lives at risk to tell their stories.

I absolutely can not recommend this book enough.  If you haven't had the privilege of reading it yet, you must rush out to the nearest bookstore, library, or online resource and get it IMMEDIATELY.  Kathryn Stockett does an amazing job with the character development and I grew to love each of these characters in ways that I haven't loved characters before.  I grew to love and admire the courage and wisdom of Aibileen.  She was such a loving, gracious character who really tried to teach her "children" compassion, love, and understanding.  Minny provided comic relief at some points in the story, but you grew to feel love for her as well.  She was spunky, but she was strong willed.

The relationships between white children and their black maids was heartwarming, because children truly see no color boundaries.  Miss Skeeter even remembers fondly her own maid growing up, Constantine.  The relationship between Miss Skeeter and Constantine is very similar to the relationship between Aibileen and Mae Mobley.

All I have to say is READ THE BOOK ALREADY!  You won't be disappointed.

Recap: May 2011

May 2011 Monthly Recap (I will go back and update the links when I finish the reviews.)

Evermore - Alyson Noel

Blue Moon - Alyson Noel

Shadowland - Alyson Noel

Dark Flame - Alyson Noel

Night Star - Alyson Noel

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

2011 Challenge:  50 Books Remaining

Recap: April 2011

April 2011 Monthly Recap (I will go back and update the links when I finish the reviews.)

The Walk - Richard Paul Evans

Remember Me - Christopher Pike

The Return - Christopher Pike

The Last Story - Christopher Pike

2011 Challenge:  56 Books Remaining

Recap: March 2011

March 2011 Monthly Recap (I will go back and update the links when I finish the reviews.)

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Size 12 is Not Fat - Meg Cabot

The View from the Top - Hillary Frank

You - Charles Benoit

2011 Challenge:  60 Books Remaining

Recap: February 2011

February 2011 Monthly Recap (I will go back and update the links when I finish the reviews.)

The Sky Is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson

Wanted - Sara Shepard

Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick

Dead is a State of Mind - Marlene Perez

Dead is So Last Year - Marlene Perez

A Proper Sense of Honor - Caroline Cox

2011 Challenge:  64 Books Remaining

Recap: January 2011

I'm likely posting the recaps out of order, but at the end of each month, I'm going to post a monthly recap listing the books I read that month, links to their reviews, as well as where I am in the challenge.  :o)

January 2011 (I will go back and update the links when I finish the review.)

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larsson

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Steig Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest - Steig Larsson

Love You, Hate You, Miss You - Elizabeth Scott

2011 Challenge:  71 Books Remaining

Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larson

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Steig Larson
Release Date: July 28, 2009
Publisher: Vintage
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 512
Source: Personally Owned
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

Part blistering espionage thriller, part riveting police procedural, and part piercing exposeĆ© on social injustice, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a masterful, endlessly satisfying novel. Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander's innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.

My Thoughts:

Review: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Steig Larson

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest - Steig Larson
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 576
Source: Personally Owned
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

This novel not only puts the cap on the most eagerly read trilogy in years; the sequel to The Girl Who Played With Fire marks the completion of its Swedish author's career#58; Stieg Larsson died at the age of fifty in 2004. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is, however, too exciting and too adept to be read simply as a major author's memorial. From its onset, with "avenging angel" protagonist Lisbeth Salander lying in intensive care, this fiction pulses forward. One British critic called it "intricately plotted, lavishly detailed but written with a breakneck pace and verve...a tantalizing double finale#151;first idyllic, then frenetic."

My Thoughts:

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larson
Release Date: September 16, 2008
Publisher: Vintage
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 480
Source: Personally Owned
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue.

It's about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

It's about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance . . . and about Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age--and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness to go with it--who assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism--and an unexpected connection between themselves.

It's a contagiously exciting, stunningly intelligent novel about society at its most hidden, and about the intimate lives of a brilliantly realized cast of characters, all of them forced to face the darker aspects of their world and of their own lives.

My Thoughts:


Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue
Release Date: September 13, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 321
Source: Library
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Goodreads:

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

My Thoughts:

I'm going to admit something on this book - I never ever read a book that I can't get into. As bad as that sounds, there are just too many other books out there that are on my to be read pile, and I don't have the time to spend on a book that I just can't get into.

So Room was that book for me. I only read the first 25 pages before putting it down, so obviously I can't form a good opinion of this book. I'm not saying don't read it, it just wasn't for me.  This book truly gets great reviews on various book sites, so I truly hope someone will read it, and convince me to try it again.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

  Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA Romance
Pages: 448
Source: Library
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

From Amazon:

Lena Haloway is content in her safe, government-managed society. She feels (mostly) relaxed about the future in which her husband and career will be decided, and looks forward to turning 18, when she’ll be cured of deliria, a.k.a. love. She tries not to think about her mother’s suicide (her last words to Lena were a forbidden “I love you”) or the supposed “Invalid” community made up of the uncured just beyond her Portland, Maine, border. There’s no real point—she believes her government knows how to best protect its people, and should do so at any cost. But 95 days before her cure, Lena meets Alex, a confident and mysterious young man who makes her heart flutter and her skin turn red-hot. As their romance blossoms, Lena begins to doubt the intentions of those in power, and fears that her world will turn gray should she submit to the procedure. In this powerful and beautifully written novel, Lauren Oliver, the bestselling author of Before I Fall, throws readers into a tightly controlled society where options don’t exist, and shows not only the lengths one will go for a chance at freedom, but also the true meaning of sacrifice. -- Jessica Schein

My Thoughts:

First of all, let me just say that I think Lauren Oliver is an amazing writer, who beautifully constructs her words to form amazing stories.  This isn't the first Lauren Oliver book I've read and I can assure you, it won't be the last.  In fact, rumor has it that Delirium is just the first book in a trilogy about Lena and the dystopian society in which she has grown up in.  However, I personally felt like this book could have been much shorter, and still had the same effect.  I'm guessing that Oliver had to put a lot of detail into the book, simply to set up the stage for all future books.  At least, that's what I'm going to choose to believe at this point.

Overall - I enjoyed this book.  I felt connected to Lena, and began to really feel anger for her.  I was involved in her friendship with Hana, the emotional roller coaster.  I was interested in her rebellious "teenage" ways, and I loved the romance between Lena and Alex.  I'm thankful that the romance wasn't a "love at first site" kind of romance, but that the two of them actually had to somewhat work at it.  In the beginning, Lena just accepted the government's authority and control, but by the end of the book, Lena was a true "resister."

Delirium describes love as a disease (amor deliria nervosa), and the cure for this disease is a procedure that effectively removes the nerves in the brain that allow a person to love, to express emotion, or to feel emotion.  Because of Lena's past, and her mother being infected by this disease, Lena is desperate to get the procedure done before she becomes like her mother.  And then, she meets Alex, the boy who exposes her to love and life outside of Portland.

While the book may start off slower than I would have liked, the ending definitely left me wanting more of Lena.  I'm very much looking forward to the next installment of Delirium, expected sometime in 2012.