Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Blogs a Hoppin!

Book Blogger Hop

Yay! It's time for hopping Friday, where tons of book bloggers hop like mad all over the blogosphere. This week's question is:

"What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?"

This is really tough, because I would love to have a great many bookish things that I can't afford. I think I would go with a house with a dedicated Library, just like the ones in old novels. It would have a fireplace, huge comfy armchairs, and of course, walls of bookshelves filled with all my own books. Literary bliss!!

Something like this would do nicely: 

So how about you? What is your bookish dream possession?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Scariest Books

Here it is again, the fabulous list crazy meme from The Broke and the Bookish! This week we are exploring the top ten scariest books, just in time for the day of ultimate spookiness-Halloween!

Now let me begin that I generally tend to shy away from scary books as a rule. I don't have much stomach for scary. My first scary movie was Nightmare on Elm Street at a slumber party, and I was so freaked out I had to call my mom to come get me because I was afraid to sleep. It has of course been downhill from there.

So here are my top ten scary books!

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker. This book is the grand daddy of scary books. This one book began a phenomenon that lingers today-our fascination with vampires. Without it we may never have had Twilight-- well don't blame him for that. It's still a great book.

2. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. Powerful witches living in the heart of New Orleans. How cool is that? But there is a dark force that has connected generations of the Mayfair family, and now Rowan, who almost escaped when her mother moved her to California when she was little, is back to face that force head on. Is she strong enough to endure? Such an awesome book, and the sequels are equally fantastic.

3. Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I haven't actually read this book-I saw the movie. And this is why I will never read the book. The premise alone gives me the willies.

4. Lisey's Story by Stephen King. This one is considered to be more benign than his straight up horror books, and this is why I read it. But it creeped me out like only King can. I was only able to read this one in daylight.

5. The Nanny Diaries by two chicks whose names I don't remember. It is scary that a book can be this bad. I cower at the very thought.

6. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. The king of twisted and his masterpiece. The ominous repetition always has me shaking in my boots.

7. Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Even in print this thing is scary, but mostly because it shows us that there is a dark side to ambition, which is present in each and every one of us, just waiting to manifest itself.

8. Sphere by Michael Crichton. The scariest creatures in this book are located in the minds of the main characters. No one is safe from their own mind when it turns on you. Scary!

9. Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews. When your own mom decides you are cramping her style, look out and watch what goes into your food. This book is very sad and scary at the same time. 

well there they are, my top ten (well 9. I'm tapped out) scary books in all their glory. How does it shape up to your list?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stone's Fall by Iain Pears

This is a brilliantly intricate historical novel, which centers on the death of a successful British businessman, and is separated into three parts. In part one, after John Stone falls to his death from a window in his London mansion in 1909, Stone's young widow, Elizabeth, hires journalist Matthew Braddock to trace a child of her late husband's she never knew existed until the child is named in his will. Braddock, a novice in the world of finance, uncovers evidence that Stone's actual net worth was far less than commonly believed, even as he finds himself falling for his client. In part two, set in 1890 Paris, Henry Cort, a shadowy spy, provides another perspective on the bewitching Elizabeth. The third part is told from Stone's own point of view, as he reminiscences of his time in Venice in 1867.

I found it really intriguing how each part of the novel ventured further in the past than the one before it. They all involve the same group of people, but at different points in their lives. All the pieces of the full picture don't really come together until the very very end, but each section has its own small mystery that is solved in that section. It is splendidly written-Pear's writing style makes the book very compelling to read, and I was never bored once throughout the 600+ pages. A great book, filled with mystery, love, betrayal, and a whole lot regarding the world of British finance in the early 1900s, which would normally go over my head but with Pears I was able to keep up. Highly recommended for mystery fans.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

It's Blog hop time again-something I always look forward to on Fridays. This blog hop is brought to you by Crazy for Books-thanks Jennifer for such a great meme!

This week's question is: "Where is your favorite place to read?"

I actually have a couple of favorite places. My absolute favorite is in my sun room. My apartment has a little room with windows on three sides. I keep my bookshelves there and have some IKEA chairs, some end tables and a stereo. It is my happy place to relax with a mug of tea and read away.

I also love to read in bed. It is a nightly ritual for me to take in a few pages every night before I head off to sleep. But I have to be careful with what I read here-if it is scary or really sad it will keep me up shaking or bawling!

So how about you? Where is your book reading happy place?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Description from Publisher:
Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls' aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie.

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including—perhaps—their aunt.

I chose to use the publisher's description of this book because I didn't think I could objectively describe it. This book is all about twins, really. Two adult twins are separated by mysterious circumstances, and then one, Elspeth, dies. She leaves her estate to her twin's two twin daughters who come to live in her flat overlooking London's Highgate cemetery. But Elspeth isn't really gone. She is stuck as a ghost in her flat, haunting the young twins amidst their backdrop of ever growing discord with each other. This can't end well.

And it doesn't. I stayed up until midnight reading the last 100 pages in a desperate need to see this book rescued from itself. I was very disappointed. The book isn't beautiful, dark and gothic, which is what I think the author was trying for. It is just distasteful. I loved Niffinegger's first book, The Time Traveler's Wife, so I think the fact that this one doesn't fall even close to the same level was the biggest disappointment for me. So sad to say, this book can't get a positive review. I wonder where her magic went. Will I still pick up any forthcoming novels by her? Probably, because I know she has it in her. But this one is a big miss.

A bit about Highgate Cemetery:  Highgate is a huge sprawling Victorian era cemetery, which was opened in 1839. Just over three and a half thousand pounds was paid for seventeen acres of land that had been the grounds of the Ashurst Estate, descending the steep hillside from Highgate Village. Over the next three years the cemetery was landscaped to brilliant effect by Ramsey with exotic formal planting which was complimented by stunning and unique architecture by Geary and Bunning. It was this combination that was to secure Highgate as the capital’s principal cemetery.

The unparalleled elevation overlooking London, with its highest point being 375’ above sea level, along with unique architecture, meant that the wealthy were encouraged to invest.

Two Tudor style chapels were built, topped with wooden turrets and a central bell tower. In the very heart of the grounds was created the grandest and most eccentric structure, an avenue of vaults on either side of a passageway entered through a great arch. It was created in the Egyptian style which was so in vogue following the discovery of the Valley of the Kings. These vaults were fitted with shelves for 12 coffins. The avenue led into the Circle of Lebanon, built in the same style. This circle was created by earth being excavated around an ancient Cedar of Lebanon, a legacy of the Ashurst Estate and used to great effect by the cemetery’s designers. Above this, catacombs in the gothic style, with an impressive 80 yard frontage, with room for a total of 825 people, were completed in 1842.

Many famous people are buried there, most notably Karl Marz, father of Marxism. Other famous residents include Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Charles Dickens' parents, and Adam Worth the possible inspiration for Sherlock Holmes' nemesis, Professor Moriarty.

It has recieved numerous references in pop culture, such as a burial place for Dracula's victims in Braham Stoker's novel and the setting inspiration for Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book. It has also been the backdrop for some scary movies.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Fictional Crushes

Here it is again. Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you compliments of The Broke and the Bookish. This week we explore those fictional characters you can't help but fantasize about.

1. Mr. Darcy. Whenever I think of the ultimate perfect man, I think of Colin Firth as this character in the wet shirt scene. I can't help it. And every time I read this book I imagine Colin Firth in that role. There will never be another for me.

2. Jaime from the Outlander series. If I had this guy waiting for me, I'd find a way to get back to 1700s Scotland too. In a heartbeat. While I didn't enjoy book 2 as much as book one, Jaime still tops the charts on hotness alone.

3. Chang An Lo from The Russian Concubine. He kicks butt for the woman he loves, and he is so mannered and chivalrous. A true knight in shining armor amidst the backdrop of the budding Chinese Revolution.

4. Jack Builder from Pillars of the Earth. What's not to like? He is extremely intelligent, has a deep passion for the woman he loves, and he has red hair. All major plus points.

5. Laurie from Little Women. When I was younger I used to imagine that I was Jo, and that I had given Laurie a much different answer than she did in the book.

6. Peter Pan. Another little girl crush. I wanted to fly off to Neverland with him instead of Wendy.

7. Wesley from the Princess Bride. Oh man of few words and awesome fighting skills. If he asked, I would answer "As you wish".

8. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. This crush was hugely maximized after the movies came out. Wow.

9. John Rimer from Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede. One of the princes from this retold fairytale. But this version makes him much more three dimensional that the original story. He isn't the one turned into a bear-he's the bear's brother. I imagine him to be very cute.

10. Lestat from Anne Rice's Vampire series. He is self proclaimed despicable, but his character is so endearing despite being a vampire, that you can't help but adore him just a little.

so there they are! How does your list compare?

Friday, October 15, 2010


Book Blogger Hop

It's Friday again, wow this week has simply crawled by. But finally the weekend is almost upon us. Crazy for Books has this awesome blog hop, and I love to participate-another reason to love Friday!

The question this week is:  
"When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"

This is a really good question. The answer for me is sometimes. I try not to spend time on books I don't like, but sometimes feel a compulsive need to see it through to the end. It's a commitment thing I guess, telling me that I have committed myself to this book and the commitment only ends when I finish. Also, I've come across books where I actually got into them later on, or when the ending redeemed the book, so I also consider this when deciding whether to go on. But if the book is throw across the room horrible, then I have to stop. Life is too short to read bad books.

So what do you think?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'll Never Read

Its time again for top ten Tuesday, brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish! This week I list the books I'll never read, whether for personal hatred reasons or just because I'll never be quite that bored.

Again, in no particular order.

10. War and Peace. As much as I've heard this book is a classic and whatnot, the sheer size scares me to death. And I really don't think it would be my cup of tea anyway. Let's save the frustration and eyestrain.

9. Moby Dick. I've heard that there are about a hundred pages devoted to the art of fishing, and other lobs of detail for other seafaring topics. I've never been a nautical person so I don't think I would find this interesting. It has that classic compulsion again, but again, I don't think it would be worth the headache.

8. Any more books by Rosalind Miles. I read Guenevere-Queen of the Summer Country and was expecting a strong heroine who could stand on her own and wield power in her own right. What I got was a simpering, needy wet blanket of a main character that I was thoroughly disgusted with because of her extreme weakness and need to lean on Arthur. For that reason I've been completely ruined on Miles' entire body of work.

7. Any more books in the Redwall series by Brian Jaques. This series was pretty highly acclaimed from fellow book lovers. I just couldn't get into it. Oh well.

6. Cujo by Stephen King. This book gives me the shivers just thinking about it. I don't like horror as a rule, and this one for me is a perfect example of the super scary. Must stay away.

5. Gossip Girl books. What can I say? I just don't care.

4. J.D. Robb's In Death series. Murder and romance together? I'd prefer to skip the suspense part in my romance novels. Not for me.

3. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. The movie version of this was probably the stupidest thing I've seen in a long time. Will definitely be skipping the book in an effort to retain some brain cells.

2. Anything by John Grisham. Not into court drama, although I did see a couple movie adaptations and they were ok. But 2 hours is really all I can take-not the multiple hours needed to read the book.

1. Anna Karenina. This is more despair talking. For years I've told myself I should read this, but something always gets in the way and puts a wrench in my plans. Maybe there is still hope. But if the current trend continues, maybe not.

So there's my list. What do you think? Agree or disagree? I can't wait to read your lists!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

The second book in what is shaping up to be a fabulous trilogy. Lisbeth Salander, the series' heroine, is in trouble-a couple investigating and attempting to expose the Swedish sex trade is murdered, and Lisbeth's fingerprints are found on the murder weapon. Her friend Mikael Blomkvist believes in her innocence, but will his help be enough to help her before either the Police or the mysterious thugs also looking for her grab her first?

Another fast paced thoroughly enjoyable mystery with a disarmingly likable main character. It is Lisbeth against the world, and I for one and rooting for her all the way. The cliffhanger ending left me dizzy with anticipation for the next part of the series, so my advice is don't finish this book until you have the next book ready to go!

It is simply a shame that Larsson never got to realize the international success his books have become. It has been the most visible series of novels coming from Sweden since Pippi Longstocking, and the buzz it generates never seems to cease. And now with the movies, both the already made Swedish ones and the upcoming US version, Lisbeth has taken the world by storm. I look forward to the last book in the series with both eager anticipation and a growing sense of melancholy, because I know there will be no more to follow.

Other Books to Consider: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, The Raphael Affair by Iain Pears, Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Authors!

It's time for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme from The Broke and the Bookish. I love this series because I love to make lists. This week is top ten favorite authors. Here I go!

(in no particular order)

1. Haruki Murakami- a brilliant novelist who paints amazing surreal worlds but are at the same time heartfelt and deeply engaging. I cannot recommend him enough.

2. Italo Calvino- If on a Winter's Night a Traveler is a masterpiece. I think everyone who loves books should read it, and read it through to the end! If you throw the book in frustration, dust it off and pick it back up again.

3. Alison Weir- by far the best historian on British royalty that I've read. She not only covers the facts, but makes the writing interesting and engaging-not an easy task when working with nonfiction.

4. LM Montgomery- The Anne series has been a cherished set of novels for me for a long time. They never fail to put a smile on my face.

5. Anne Rice- I've read just about everything she has written, and in some cases more than once. Her level of detail pulls the reader into the story, so that they are walking that beautiful New Orleans street with Lestat by their side. Absolutely wonderful books.

6. Tamora Pierce- her Alanna series got me through a good portion of young adulthood. She gave me a heroine I could go on adventures with, could cry with and could celebrate victory with. I can't even remember how many times I've reread them. And they are still fantastic every time I do.

7. John Steinbeck- I was blown away when I read East of Eden. While I haven't yet swallowed his collective works, he still remains very high in my esteem.

8. George R. R. Martin- probably the best fantasy series of all time is the Song of Fire and Ice. It is a constant source of frustration for me that he hasn't finished it yet.

9. Jane Austen- the pioneer of woman's literature. Her books remain timeless, with lessons that everyone can relate to, regardless of where they are or when.

10. Philippa Gregory- The Other Boleyn girl inspired a love of British historical fiction in me. While I haven't loved all her books, I do intend to read them all.

So there's my list! How does it compare to yours?