Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Blog Hop TIme!

Time for another fun blog hop from Crazy for Books! I always look forward to these because it introduces me to so many awesome blogs out there. If you like what you see here, please consider becoming a follower! I'd really appreciate it.

This week's companion question is:

When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

I always wait until I've finished a book before I write a review, because so often what happens at the end affects my overall view and experience of the book. I don't think it is fair to judge something until you've listened to everything it has to say. So I always try to reserve judgment until the very end. Unless I hate the book, then I just quit reading it. That is a bit of a jump judgment, but life is too short to waste time on books that rub me the wrong way.

What about you? Agree/disagree?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book was WOW. This is an amazing coming of age story set in Detroit. It follows three generations of a Greek family who was just a little different than other 'traditional' families, but definitely had their fill of family drama and angst. The story is narrated by third generation family member Cal, formerly Calliope, who is the result of the 'close' ties within the family. It is a story of strength in adversity, and of personal discovery with a backdrop of turbulent Detroit as it goes through a Genesis of its own, from motor city to motown to the riots and finally to decrepitude. Cal's narration is witty and delves into the many layers of the family members he focuses upon, which includes for a large portion him/herself and all of the difficulties he faced in learning about who he was. The story moves at a good pace and is compelling throughout-there were no 'lag moments' for me. I can see why this book is on the 1001 books to read before you die list, and I look forward to reading more by Eugenides. What a wonderful author!

About the author: Jeffrey Kent Eugenides (born March 8, 1960) is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer. Eugenides has written two acclaimed novels, The Virgin Suicides (1993) and Middlesex (2002). Middlesex, written in 2002, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the Ambassador Book Award. Eugenides currently teaches at Princeton University's Program in Creative Writing.

History time:
The book touches upon many important historical events in the background of the character's lives, but there were two that affected the characters the most-the burning of Smyrna in Greece, and the Detroit riots.

The Great Fire of Smyrna was a fire that destroyed much of the port city of Smyrna in September 1922. Eye-witness reports state that the fire began on 13 September 1922 and lasted for several days. It occurred four days after the Turkish forces regained control of the city on 9 September 1922; thus, effectively ending the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) in the field, more than three years after the Greek army had landed troops at Smyrna on 15 May 1919.

According to one witness, the Greek army withdrew troops one day ahead of the Turks' arrival, having had advanced warning. The city was completely destroyed, and thousands perished. Refugees topped 400,000.

The 1967 Detroit Riots began in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 23, 1967. The precipitating event was a police raid of an unlicensed, after-hours bar then known as a blind pig, on the corner of 12th and Clairmount streets on the city's Near West Side. Police confrontations with patrons and observers on the street evolved into one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in American history, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 race riot.

To help end the disturbance, Governor George Romney ordered the Michigan National Guard into Detroit, and President Lyndon B. Johnson sent in Army troops. The result was forty-three dead, 467 injured, over 7200 arrests, and more than 2000 buildings destroyed. The scale of the riot was eclipsed only by the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Other Books to Consider:
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Quotes

Hi all, I know I've been away for a little while, but I just got back from China! I spent some time in glorious Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou. It was amazing, let me tell you. I am currently debating on whether or not to post some pictures and travel commentary here, because I know this is a book blog. Let me know your thoughts- are you interested at all or shall I keep my blog purely book related?

Ok, on to the quotes. I must say I found this difficult, as I'm not a quote underliner. So I had to go back and remember books which really spoke to me, and the passages that moved me the most. Here goes.

1. How many Sundays-how many hundreds of Sundays like this-lay ahead of me? "Quiet, peaceful and lonely," I said aloud to myself. On Sundays, I didn't wind my spring. -Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

2. I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?
- John Steinbeck, East of Eden

3. Lord, what fools these mortals be!
- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

4. Everyone struggles against despair, but it always wins in the end. It has to. It's the thing that lets us say goodbye.
- Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

5. You deserve to need me, not to have me.
-Augusten Burroughs, Running with Scissors

6. In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven't Read, which are frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you...And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too.
— Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

7. Memories are what warm you up from the inside. But they're also what tear you apart.
— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

8. None of us really changes over time. We only become more fully what we are.
— Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

9. Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a very dangerous enemy indeed.
— Anne Rice, The Witching Hour

10. You're only the fairest when your fairest to yourself.
-Gail Carson Levine, Fairest

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Let me say first off that I am a huge fan of Shannon Hale's ever since I read The Goose Girl a while back. I thought it was such a wonderful retelling of a classic fairy tale that I vowed then and there to read every novel Hale has ever written. This is the next stop on my journey-a delightful YA novel called Princess Academy.

This story follows Miri and all the 'eligible' girls in her town as they are pressed into the service of learning etiquette and country history because some priests have prophesied that the next princess of the realm shall come from their town. Miri is skeptical and headstrong, but strives to achieve highest marks at her school, but does that make her want to be a princess? The stone quarry and the mountain are all she has ever known--would she have to leave all that behind?

A very heartwarming tale about loving your home and family coupled with a desire for adventure. This was a very quick read, and Hale's prose pulls you in completely from start to finish. The characters are pretty young-13/14, so there isn't a great deal of love going on, but there is a smattering of really cute affection in there that makes the book even more endearing. Another fabulous read from Shannon Hale.

About the author:
Shannon Hale is the author of ten novels, including the best-selling Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, the "Books of Bayern" series, two adult novels, and two graphic novels that she and her husband are co-writing. They live with their two small children in South Jordan, Utah.

Before writing professionally, she wrote while pursuing acting in television, stage and improv comedy, as well as studying in Mexico and the United Kingdom. She spent a year and a half as an unpaid missionary in Paraguay, then returned to the United States to earn her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Utah and a master's in creative writing from the University of Montana.

Her first published book, The Goose Girl, was an American Library Association Top Ten Book for Young Adults and Josette Frank Award winner. Princess Academy is a Newbery Honor Book and a New York Times Best Seller.

Other Books to Consider: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, and Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.