...never judge a book by its movie

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - February 28, 2012


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along; you don't have to be a blogger! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



My teaser this week: 

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
He lived for a year with his Uncle Jimmy, who well into his fifties felt happiest among like-minded adolescents with whom he could share his large collections of guns and knives, Chasey Lain videos, and Warlords III and Dungeonmaster paraphernalia.  But Jimmy also worshiped Elvis Presley at a shrine in one corner of his bedroom, and Billy, who never got it through his head that Jimmy wasn't joking about Elvis, finally desecrated the shrine in some grievous and irreversible manner that Jimmy afterward refused to talk about, and was put out on the street.

- page 343, The Corrections by (The Book Depository / Amazon)

Goodreads description:

After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man-or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.




Feel free to leave your teaser or link to it in the comments section; I find that I always end up adding to my to-buy list when I visit!

Julie
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Monday, February 27, 2012

It's Monday! What Are YOU Reading? - February 27, 2012

What Are You Reading?

"What Are You Reading?" is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  Click over to see what other readers are into this week and add to your TBR pile!

READ (past week):

A Terrible Beauty by Graham Masterton
Amazon
  
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Amazon
  
 
Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
Amazon
Review Upcoming
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boynes
Amazon
 
The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
Book Depository
 Amazon
Review March 7th





REVIEWED (past three weeks):  (click the cover to go to the review)

Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman
4.5 of 5 stars
Immortal Bird by Doron Weber
3 of 5 stars
When the de la Cruz Family Danced by Donna Miscoulta
3.3 of 5 stars
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
5 of 5 stars
Other Waters by Eleni N. Gage
3.4 of 5 stars


CURRENTLY READING:
(Click on the cover for the Goodreads page)
 
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Hard copy
The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
Kindle
The Whipping Club by Deborah Henry
eGalley




Next to be read on the personal pile
 (click cover for Goodreads page): 
           
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell ZukoffIvan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov

Next to be read on the hard copy review pile
 (click cover for Goodreads page):

In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood
Carry the One by Carol AtshawArcadia by Lauren Groff

 GEM OF THE WEEK: 
Review Link

It doesn't matter who you are, how old you are, or what your preferred genre is, if you are a reader, you will LOVE this book.  I already know that it will end up on my "Best of" list for 2012.

How was YOUR reading week?  Please leave a link to YOUR "What Are You Reading" post in the comments (I'd love to come visit) or simply comment with what your reading week was like!
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Other Waters by Eleni N. Gage - BOOK REVIEW

Other Waters by Eleni N. Gage
Title:  Other Waters
Author:  Eleni N. Gage
Publisher:   St. Martin's Press, a division of Macmillan
Release Date:  February 14, 2012
Hardcover, 352 pages
ISBN 10:     0312658516
ISBN 13:   9780312658519
The Book Depository / Amazon

Goodreads description:

When her grandmother dies in India, a family squabble over property results in a curse that drifts across continents and threatens Maya's life. Or so her father says-- Maya (being a modern woman, an American, and a doctor, for goodness' sake) doesn't believe in curses, Brahman, or otherwise. But when her father suffers a heart attack, her sister miscarries, and her career and relationship both start to falter, Maya starts to worry. A trip back to India with her best friend Heidi, Maya reasons, will be just what's needed to remove the curse, save her family, and to put her own life back in order. Thus begins a journey into Maya's parallel world-- an India filled with loving and annoying relatives, vivid colors, and superstitious customs--a cross-cultural, transcontinental search to for a chance to find real love.

My Take: 

Maya is a second-year psychiatry resident, an Indian-American who is keeping her long-term relationship with her boyfriend Scott a secret from her parents, especially her mother, who wants nothing more than for her to find a nice Indian boy to settle down with.  Her sister Priya married Tariq, who is Indian, but Muslim, and even now, two children later, her mother Seema has still not fully accepted him.

After her grandmother dies in India, her father Ajit, in India to keep an eye on his mom before she died, calls Maya and tells her (somewhat sheepishly, after all, superstitions and curses are not something modern people are supposed to believe in) that Parvati, the woman who lived in Dadyi's home, put a curse on his family.  Not just any curse, either, but a Brahman curse - more powerful than most and one that will supposedly affect the blood.

When bad things start happening to Maya's family, she hopes that a trip back to India for a family wedding with her best friend Heidi will give her the chance to find Parvati and counteract the curse that by now, Maya at least halfway believes in.

For me, this novel got off to a confusing start, but soon smoothed itself out.  I enjoyed the cross-cultural references and the friendship between Maya and Heidi, as well as the true-to-life relationship between Maya and her family.  I found myself quite a bit peeved at Maya for not introducing Scott to her family - after all, they'd been together, off and on, for seven years.  It seemed to me that an intelligent woman of almost thirty should simply square her shoulders up and take any heat that she might get from her family.

The ending kind of just ... ended, but in a way that I didn't fully expect.  Believe it or not, the character that I enjoyed most was Seema, Maya's mother.  She is quietly strong, and in spite of how Maya perceives her throughout most of the book, seems to be the one with the most character and honesty.

If you like a touch of romance mixed with a bit of Bollywood, you will like this book.

QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy):

. . . she hadn't been able to control any of them.  Mohan, Seema's beloved eldest, her only son, resisted medicine, going into advertising instead, which, to Maya's parents, was akin to renting a hovel and attempting to write the great Indian-American novel. Priya, the pretty daughter, was a doctor, and a real one, not a psychiatrist, but she had married a Muslim and seldom visited the temple anymore.  

Seema said a vegetarian with a leather bag was nothing but a hypocrite, and she had apparently raised two of those, which was quite enough for any family.

You carried all of the people you loved into your present and future, even if just in a small way, Maya realized. 


Writing:  4 out of 5 stars
Plot:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Characters:  3 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion:  3  out 5 stars

BOOK RATING:  3.4  out of 5 stars



BLOGGERS:  Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.

About the author

BUY IT:  At Amazon, The Book Depository, through the publisher's website,  and through other on-and-off-line booksellers.


One of my listed titles for the 2012 ARC Reading Challenge (Eclectic Bookshelf)
One of my listed titles for the 2012 ARC Reading Challenge (So Many Books)
One of my listed titles for the 2012 150+ Reading Challenge
Disclosure:  I  received a  complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was received and I was not required to post a positive review.
Julie
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox - February 26, 2012


"Mailbox Monday" is the brainchild of Marcia and set up on its own blog here:  http://mailboxmonday.wordpress.com/

February's host is Metroreader!   Hop on over, link up, and join the fun!

"In My Mailbox" is hosted by The Story Siren

Every week we'll post about what books we have that week (via your mailbox/library/store bought)! Everyone that agrees to participate will try to visit each other's list and leave comments!  Everyone is welcome to join! You can join at anytime and you DO NOT have to participate every week.

I guarantee that you will add to your reading list by visiting the participating blogs in both of these memes!

I didn't receive any new review books (although I did download some galleys to my Net Galley queue).  I did buy some books (for upcoming book club discussions and a couple for my reading challenges):

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - I bought this last year and didn't get a chance to read it.  Middle Bebe Girl Jasmine borrowed it.  Then she lost it.  So I bought it again last week.  Not-So-Bebe-Girl Autumn was visiting from college this weekend.  She borrowed it.  I still haven't read it.  I hope it makes it back.

Goodreads description:

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of "Riding Lessons."

 "Gritty, sensual and charged with dark secrets involving love, murder and a majestic, mute heroine (Rosie the Elephant)."Q"Parade."

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Goodreads description:

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield 

Goodreads description:

Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of Gothic strangeness—featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Goodreads description:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.  

This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.


A Clockwork Orange by Anthony BurgessA Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Goodreads description:

A vicious fifteen-year-old "droog" is the central character of this 1963 classic, whose stark terror was captured in Stanley Kubrick's magnificent film of the same title. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to "redeem" him—the novel asks, "At what cost?" This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess's introduction "A Clockwork Orange Resucked."

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Goodreads description:

Barcelona, 1945—Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes one day to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again.

Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a book from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the book he selects, a novel called The Shadow of the Wind by one Julián Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last of Carax’s books in existence.

Before Daniel knows it, his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness, and doomed love, and before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julián Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly


What goodies arrived in YOUR house this week?  Please feel free leave a link to YOUR "In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday" post in the comments (I'd love to come visit) or simply comment with what your reading week was like!

Julie



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Wonder by R. J. Palacio - BOOK REVIEW

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Title:  Wonder
Author:  R. J. Palacio
Publisher:   Alfred Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House
Release Date:  February 14, 2012
Hardcover, 320 pages
ISBN 10:    0375869026
ISBN 13:  9780375869020
The Book Depository / Amazon

Goodreads description:


I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.


My Take: 

What a wonder of a book!

First sentence:  I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid.

August (Auggie) is 10-year-old born with a cranio-facial abnormality that, in spite of who he is inside, makes him stand out in a crowd.

This is the story of his first year in school, told in the first person through various viewpoints - Auggie, his sister Olivia(Via), her boyfriend Justin, her friend Miranda, and Auggie's friends Jack and Summer.

I love how this story is told in a realistic, "that's just the way it is" fashion - even Via, who is a teenager, pretty much rolls with the fact that most of the attention goes to Auggie - with all of the surgeries that he has had, that's just to be expected.  She's always stuck up for him, and never, until this first year of her going to a new high school, felt at all ashamed of his appearance.

Auggie?  Well, he's just a great kid - a Star Wars fan, an XBox-playing, joke-making, pretty smart little dude who loves his family and their dog Daisy, bought off of a homeless guy for $20 by Auggie's father.  He has a loving and imperfect family, he doesn't feel sorry for himself (much), and seeing the world through his eyes made this reader even more grateful and appreciative.

Of course we run into the casually (and not so casually) cruel kids and adults, but Auggie, who wasn't too keen on the idea of going to school, manages to make some friends, and, if he doesn't blend in, at least people get used to him.  Then a boy he thought was his friend seems to turn against him, and we all feel the hurt.  Another boy starts a bullying campaign, and here is where we see Auggie's true strength come to the fore.  His friendships are tested, and his friends make the reader proud.

At the end of this book, and throughout the last pages, I was wiping away tears, the kind of tears inspired by hope and a touch of the happy.

This book is geared to middle readers (8-12 years old), but is definitely one that everyone should read.  Teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and even adults - pick this one up - you will love it as much as I did.

And you will LOVE Auggie!  This one will definitely be showing up on my "Best of" list for 2012; it's a winner all around.

QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy):

Auggie:  I know ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kid run away screaming in playgrounds.

Auggie:  I think it's like the Cheese Touch in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid".  The kids in that story were afraid they'd catch the cooties if they touched the old moldy cheese on the basketball court.  At Beecher Prep, I'm the old moldy cheese.

Summer:  So I just went over and sat with him.  Not a biggie.  I wish people would stop trying to turn it into something major.
He's just a kid.  The weirdest-looking kid I've ever seen, yes.  But just a kid.

Writing:  5 out of 5 stars
Plot:  5  out of 5 stars
Characters:  5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion:  5  out 5 stars

BOOK RATING:  5  out of 5 stars



BLOGGERS:  Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.

Read an excerpt

BUY IT:  At Amazon, The Book Depository, through the publisher's website,  and through other on-and-off-line booksellers.



One of my listed titles for the 2012 150+ Reading Challenge
Disclosure:  I  received a  complimentary eGalley of this title from the publisher through Netgalley to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was received and I was not required to post a positive review.
Julie
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Wednesday! Time for Cym Lowell's Book Review Party!

Just a quick reminder that it's time for Cym Lowell's Book Review Party! Click on the banner below, and link up one of YOUR reviews that you want a bit more publicity for! Don't forget to visit the other bloggers who have linked up when you're done!

CymLowell

My featured title this week (excellent book! - click the cover to go to my review):

Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman

Julie
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - February 21, 2012


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along; you don't have to be a blogger! Just do the following:

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The teaser this week is for an author the cover dubs as "Iceland's answer to Stiegg Larsson".  I must admit, this one is definitely pulling me in.


My teaser this week: 

Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

 
"But there's no way Dad killed anyone and put them in the basement that night.  There were no bodies lying around when I put the box there a couple of days later."

- page 245 (ARC), Ashes to Dust by (The Book Depository / Amazon) - Release date March 27, 2012


Goodreads description:

Named One of the Year’s Top Ten Crime Books in the UK… 

A Masterwork of Suspense from "Iceland’s Crime Queen" 

(The Scotsman) In 1973, a volcanic eruption buried an entire Icelandic village in lava and ash. Now this macabre tourist attraction proves deadly once again—when the discovery of fresh bodies casts a shadow of suspicion onto Markus Magnusson, a man accused of killing his childhood sweetheart. His attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir finds that her client has a most inventive story to tell. But the locals seem oddly reluctant to back him up… 

Filled with unforgettable characters, unexpected twists, and superb psychological suspense, Ashes to Dust is a superlative thriller from an acclaimed master of Nordic fiction.




An even better twist on what was in the box is revealed near the beginning of the book - pretty creepy!  :)

Feel free to leave your teaser or link to it in the comments section; I find that I always end up adding to my to-buy list when I visit!

Julie
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When the de la Cruz Family Danced by Donna Miscolta - BOOK REVIEW

When the de la Cruz Family Danced by Donna Miscolta
Title:  When the de la Cruz Family Danced
Author:  Donna Miscolta                                 
Publisher:   Signal 8 Press
Release Date:  June 28, 2011
Hardcover, 320 pages
ISBN 10:     9881989590
ISBN 13:  9789881989598
The Book Depository / Amazon

Goodreads description:

During his one and only return visit to the Philippines, Johnny de la Cruz - plagued by a sense of isolation - succumbs to a quick sexual encounter with an old flame, the attractive and beguiling Bunny Piña. 

Years later, nineteen-year-old Winston Piña has barely finished eulogizing his recently deceased mother when he finds a letter she wrote, but never sent, to Johnny. This leads Winston into the lives of the de la Cruz family - a family to which he might or might not belong. 


When the de la Cruz Family Danced explores the ties within family and how they are affected by circumstances of birth, immigration, and assimilation.


My Take: 

This is an interesting family story centering around Johnny de la Cruz - now suffering from a debilitating illness - and the choices he makes, as well as the lives of his wife and daughters and a young man named Winston who may or may not be the product of a long-ago, one-time encounter with a high school flame on a visit to the Philippines.

It is quietly reflective, illuminating both the rueful emotions of family members who love each other in a disconnected sense as well as the memories of past events that helped shape each of them into who and what they have become.  There are some lovely moments of poignant clarity in these pages that will have the reader saying to him/herself:  "I totally understand that feeling", as the author puts into words those intangible and fleeting emotions that come into play in almost any family dynamic.

QUOTE:

Johnny himself had been encouraged to join a group.  People feel less alone the doctor said.  But Johnny had never been a joiner.  He had always declined the invitations by his neighbors to join their Filipino social clubs, their bowling leagues, their mah jongg foursomes.  No, he had never joined anything.  Except the navy.

Writing:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Plot:   3.5 out of 5 stars
Characters:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion:   3 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING:   3.3 out of 5 stars

BLOGGERS:  Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.

Author website

BUY IT:  At Amazon, The Book Depository, through the publisher's website,  and through other on-and-off-line booksellers.

Disclosure:  I  received a  complimentary eBook of this title from the author to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was received and I was not required to post a positive review.
Julie
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