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Archive for September 2009

Sunday Salon: Halfway Through :)

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I’m halfway through on some books this week. Maybe today I could try and finish at least one:

Pope Joan – Donna Woolfolk Cross

Bending Towards the Sun – Leslie Gilbert-lurie

these two are catching my attention the most. They’re very interesting! also, I started a bit last night on Dark Hours – Gudrun Pausewang which caught my attention too but it was very late at night and my eyes were closing.

So! what’s everyone else reading today?

Review of Contagious

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Contagious

Contagious

It is strongly recommended you read Infected first, as it gives you a lot of background information – especially on one of the main characters, Perry Dawsey. That being said. You won’t be dissapointed with reading both books.

Contagious follows right after Infected. You have Perry Dawsey, a survivor who knows all about these destructive alien parasites, who helps the US Government fight these things before it gets out of hand. When things start to blow out of proportion and the virus evolves to survive, things start to get complicated and it all starts with a small little girl named Chelsea.

Wow. This novel was great! I liked how it provided more background information on the aliens and their hidden agenda towards Earth it gave the story more depth and the story is well rounded out. As in Infected, I also liked how there are scientific terms and theories, but it was easily explained and not complicated to understand. We all know some science fiction novels have a lot of technological jargon and you’re left wondering if you’re reading an encyclopedia on physics or rocket science. Here, everything is kept at Science 101 which is good, at least the reader is not stuck with having to go back to their college notes. I also liked the idea of the virus being able to evolve and to adapt so no matter how hard the government tries to fight it, it somehow gains the upper hand I thought it was an interesting way of keeping the story going.

The use of Chelsea in the book is very well done. It makes the story more eerie and creepy by using a child – a very beautiful and innocent like girl to become one of the most horrible creatures I’ve ever read in my life. You also get to see Perry Dawsey evolve from a psychotic raging killer doing down the downward spiral to a more calculated one, but with good intentions thanks to Dew.

There is a lot of action in this novel. It’s so fast paced and well done it’s almost as if you’re watching a movie instead of reading. There are also a few military terms here and there but it shouldn’t really bother the reader if they’re not familiar with the terminology (same with the science terms). There is a lot of gore and swearing for those that aren’t keen with that sort of thing. Other than that, this is a very pleasing sequel, is there room for more? well, I suppose it’s up for the reader to decide. Personally, I wouldn’t mind wondering what happens to the characters but then again perhaps it’s better if it stays with two books instead. It could go either way I guess.

Overall a wonderful, fast paced, sequel to Infected. A great read for sci fi action lovers anywhere. If the gore and swearing don’t bother you pick up both books and read them straight through. You won’t be dissapointed. Also, in this book is one of the most wonderful, awesome, feel-good “tell-offs” I have ever read in my life between Murray, President Gutierrez and Vanessa. I will never forget that part in the book. (If you’re curious, read the chapter: “Murray and Vanessa, BFF” to find out)

I give it a 10 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

September 17, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Booking Through Thursday 9/17

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What’s the most enjoyable, most fun, most just-darn-entertaining book you’ve read recently?

(Mind you, this doesn’t necessarily mean funny, since we covered that already. Just … GOOD.)

- I would have to say it’ll be The Light of Burning Shadows by Chris Evans. Now THAT was an exciting book. It was an interesting mix of magic and Napoleon era warfare. There was lots of battles, plenty of magic, and even some swashbuckling humor to add to the mix. Think of Richard Sharpe adventures (if you have read them) mixed with fantasy.  It’s a great book (even the first one of that series is good too). Pick it up if you feel like having some entertaining action to read. :)

Written by Karoline

September 17, 2009 at 11:16 am

Meme in Honor of BBAW

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I got this off of Should Be Reading. Thought it would be nice to participate in honor of BBAW!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? depends sometimes chocolate, sometimes chips (yes..I accompany junk food with things I love to do)
Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? The idea of writing in books horrifies and makes me cry. The majority of my books are in immaculate wonderful condition. I’d like to keep it that way thank you very much.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open? Bookmarks. If someone dog ears my pages I’ll rip them apart limb from limb.
Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Both! although for non fiction I prefer history.
Hard copy or audiobooks? Hard-copy.
Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? I can put it down to any point. Although I prefer reading it until the end. It has to be extra horribly written or very boring for me to put it down.
If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? No, I ask the hombre. He’s got the dictionary in his Ipod and he wants to be cool using it.
What are you currently reading? Uh, you mean what’s near me right now? Contagious by Scott Sigler however I’m also reading about 5 or so more books at the same time.
What is the last book you bought? Aw Jeez you’re seriously asking me that?
Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? I can read more than one at a time.
Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? I like reading Sundays, all day. The only time I have peace and quiet.
Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Both.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? Not sure, it depends on my mood I guess.
How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) Are you talking about the ones on my shelf or the ones surrounding my bed area? the shelves are all organized by series.

Written by Karoline

September 16, 2009 at 3:09 pm

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Teaser Tuesday Featuring Contagious

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Today’s Teaser features Contagious by Scott Sigler:

Mommy, this is going to hurt Daddy more than it hurts you.

Mommy just kept shaking her head and crying until Daddy really got going. Then she started to scream.

What’s your teaser? :)

Written by Karoline

September 15, 2009 at 7:26 am

Review of When Christ and His Saints Slept

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When Christ and His Saints Slept

When Christ and His Saints Slept

It feels bloody awful good when you finish an epic novel. Epic, I mean in regards to length of book. I don’t regret taking the time to read this large book (about 740 pages) because this is one of the best novels I’ve read.

When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman features the beginnings of the Plantagenet dynasty. It features the bloody war that raged England between Stephen and his cousin Maude. Stephen steals the crown after King Henry the First’s death from Maude, who’s the rightful heir to the throne of England. With that main event, you get a lot of war, a lot of betrayal, and a lot of family struggles to keep the crown, or to take it.

I strongly recommend studying the family tree first which is gratefully provided in the beginning of the book. That way you can find it who is related to who (you’ll find out they are all related somehow) and who is married to who. It may help you to take notes so you’ll also know who is who as it does get confusing. Especially in the beginning just when the story starts to develop. There are a lot, and I mean A LOT of characters. It may seem overwhelming at first, but the family tree helped me get through with it and although I didn’t take notes, I got the main idea on who’s who once the story progresses. To me, it felt like reading a very exciting history book. It feels so historically accurate and everything is rich in detail from the way the characters talk to the way everything is described.

The battle sequences are interesting. They do seem real and they seem quick even though the book is filled with battles and wars and seiges. I like them a lot though as it does make you progress through the novel faster and it adds action to the plot. The politics of this book is also interesting. Although there were parts where I was shocked to see betrayals by certain characters yet it adds excitement and intrigue which in turn makes the book historically accurate as well. Besides the battles and the politics, you are also taken to some of the characters’ more personal lives and their personal troubles. For example you have the story of Ranulf, who loves Annora who was his betrothed until she got married off to someone else. In turn he does what he can to win her back. It’s these mini stories that also help the story go along and it’s nice to see these, as it brings more “flesh” and depth to the characters instead of making them flat and cardboard like.

What I love the most is the portrayal of women in this book. I love Maude, as she was so strong and determined to continue the war to get her crown back and all of this for her son Henry (the second). You get a lot of strong female characters and how they actually provided the backbone and their never ending support to their husband/son’s causes. I liked the portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine despite the myths surrounding her life, I think it was well done and I admired her ability to secure her future without any thought of how others might see her. Basically, you won’t see many weepy needy women in this book. They’re all a beacon of strength.

The only problem I have with this book? just way too many characters to go through and it got a little confusing in the beginning. However once you establish the main players, and how they’re involved in the war then it gets easier. As I have mentioned before, perhaps it’s wise to take notes, or to take into account the family tree in the beginning.

Overall a wonderful book for historical buffs out there, especially those curious or lovers of the Plantagenet Dynasty. This is my first book about them and I don’t regret it one bit. I loved the rich history, it was like looking at one very detailed tapestry.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

September 14, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Monday Combo 9/14

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Here’s Monday’s Combo for this week :)

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Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading trends…

Do you find yourself forming trends in your reading? Is this a conscience act, influenced by either your own interests or current publishing fads?

- I go by my own interests. It depends on how popular the fad is I guess. No matter how hard I try, I get sucked in eventually (although I have not fallen into the Twilight trap yet).  The Harry Potter fad swept me up completely. However most of the time I go by my own interests or my own moods. I check what’s popular, sure but sometimes I just don’t feel like reading what’s trendy out there.

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In My Mailbox I got the following:

America Libre – Raul Ramos y Sanchez (From publisher)

The Last Queen – C W Gortner (From author)

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World – Abigail Reynolds (From publisher)

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My Library Finds this week:

The Devil’s Queen – Jeanne Kalogridis (Wanted to read about Catherine De Medici )

The Wizard Heir – Cinda Williams Chima (Second one after The Warrior Heir)

The People of Sparks – Jeanne DuPrau (Second after The City of Ember)

Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane (saw previews of movie, looks awesome)

Beauty Sleep – Cameron Dokey (part of the YA challenge)

The Savage Garden – Mark Mills (part of Take a Chance challenge)

The Cage – Ruth Minsky Sender (WWII fix)

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So what did you guys get or find? :)

Written by Karoline

September 14, 2009 at 7:34 am

Sunday Salon: Can I finish?????

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There’s been a conspiracy around the house where I’m just now allowed to read. It’s not very nice. In fact it’s making me turn into an evil hag by the name of Baba Yaga. However! whatever reading I can muster up for the Sunday Salon will be the following:

When Christ and his Saints Slept – Sharon Kay Penman – 200 or so pages left. I can do this!!!

Contagious – Scott Sigler – this one is getting so bloody good I can’t put it down..until I get interrupted..

Those two are my main focus right now. I’ll post again if there’s something else on the reading menu.

Also another note, I haven’t forgotten the lovely comments made over the past few days! sorry I haven’t been around! this is just to let you guys know you are not forgotten! :)

So what’s on your reading menu today?

Written by Karoline

September 13, 2009 at 7:46 am

Review of Crazy Beautiful

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Crazy Beautiful

Crazy Beautiful

First! thank you Houghton Mifflin for providing me a review copy of this book. It was very much appreciated. Second, this is one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen. For some reason it just calls out to me. I think it’s very well done.

Crazy Beautiful is told in two points of view: Aurora and Lucius. Both are new to the high school they’re going to. The difference? Lucius has no hands, due to a chemistry concoction gone wrong. So instead of hands, he has hooks instead (which freaks out the entire school population) except Aurora. In a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Crazy Beautiful explains love, redemption, and forgiveness.

It’s a short read. About 200 pages long. I absolutely loved this book. I immediately sympathized with Lucius and hated those that just assumed these whirlwind stories about him were true. Just because of his disability he’s immediately an outcast in the cruel world of High School. Both main characters were very well liked by me. I loved Lucius for being strong despite being a social outcast the minute he stepped on school grounds. I loved Aurora for standing up for what she believes in and even has the courage to stand up and tell her peers they’re wrong about assumptions they have made. Both characters are very strong, brave, and mature which makes them even more likable. I couldn’t stand Jessup (I can’t stand his name either). I just absolutely hated him and I was glad Aurora could see through his actions and was able to fend him off. (Yet another reason why I liked Aurora so much).

The plot is very short and doesn’t take too long to go through. It’s almost as if you’re watching a half hour TV high school show. Which isn’t that bad, mind you, although I would have like the story to develop a little more. That’s just me, as I’m used to reading longer novels. It seemed to just go a little too fast but at least there’s enough going on in this novel to make it flow and to keep the reader interested. There were parts that actually got me laughing out loud. Lucius has charming wit that enhances his personality and character, also his bravery in standing up against the most popular guy in the school also makes this an entertaining read.

Overall a good quick read. It does have certain parts that would qualify as a modern fairy tale. I enjoyed it very much and just wished it was just a bit longer as I thought there could be more to it. Lucius and Aurora made a wonderful couple and it seemed they were made for each other so it gave the romance a nice cozy feel to the story. Pick this up if you feel like reading something quick but also a light hearted read.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

September 11, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Friday Finds 9/11

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Today’s Friday Finds include these three:

Angel Time by Anne Rice

Toby O’Dare — a.k.a. Lucky the Fox — has fallen far from grace. He is a contract killer who carries out violence whenever and wherever he is told, a soulless soul who takes orders from someone he calls “The Right Man.” When a mysterious stranger comes into Lucky’s nightmarish world and offers him a chance to save lives rather than destroy them, Lucky seizes the opportunity to escape the darkness. He is lifted in (angel) time and carried back through the ages to the primitive and treacherous world of thirteenth-century England, where Jews live an uneasy existence. He begins a journey that leads him from the medieval villages of England to the cities of London and Paris as his quest becomes a story of danger and flight, loyalty and betrayal, selflessness and love.

Note:  I miss Lestat. I miss Armand. I even miss whiny Louis. I’m willing to give this book a chance after she turned to God. If it’s too preachy then I won’t continue as I’m not into that sort of stuff. However I have to admit this book looks mighty interesting!

Lovely Green Eyes by Arnost Lustig

Prague-born Lustig (The Bitter Smell of Almonds) adds this chronicle of a resilient teenage girl to his highly regarded oeuvre of spare and haunting novels rooted in the Holocaust. The “lovely green eyes” of the title belong to 15-year-old Hanka “Skinny” Kaudersova, a shy, ginger-haired girl and the only member of her family to avoid death in Auschwitz. At first a cleaner in a camp hospital lab (where the doctor sterilizes her), she continues to evade extermination by lying about her age and her heritage (passing herself as Aryan) and is requisitioned as a prostitute in the German military field brothels. In a typical workday, Hanka services at least a dozen soldiers, many of whom are distraught and violent. Lustig presents the brothel clients as fully rounded characters, both viciously prejudiced against Jews and kind to the (Czech, they think) girl whose body they use. Constant hunger, freezing temperatures and disease further weaken Skinny’s spirit, but as the war ends, she realizes she must search for her place in a world built on ashes. A rabbi, who is himself drowning in despair, attempts to offer her solace, but she’s unable to shed her shame and guilt. Back in Prague, agonized by nightmarish memories, she settles in with a group of survivors and meets the narrator, whose declaration of love eventually thaws her heart. Lustig’s prose is evocative at the same time it is sparse, even during harrowing scenes of physical and mental cruelty. Aided by a fine translation, this is a stunning work, worthy of comparison to those by Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi. In imagining the ordeal of a young girl “who had looked on the devil 12 times a day,” Lustig has created an unforgettable character within whom “remembrance and oblivion contended,” but who still summons the courage to affirm life.

Note: Although this book looks extremely hard to read (because of subject matter) I’m interested in this, and am going to pick this up once I find it. (I’m in the mood for some serious stuff!)

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria seceded in 1967 to form the independent nation of Biafra, a bloody, crippling three-year civil war followed. That period in African history is captured with haunting intimacy in this artful page-turner from Nigerian novelist Adichie (Purple Hibiscus). Adichie tells her profoundly gripping story primarily through the eyes and lives of Ugwu, a 13-year-old peasant houseboy who survives conscription into the raggedy Biafran army, and twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, who are from a wealthy and well-connected family. Tumultuous politics power the plot, and several sections are harrowing, particularly passages depicting the savage butchering of Olanna and Kainene’s relatives. But this dramatic, intelligent epic has its lush and sultry side as well: rebellious Olanna is the mistress of Odenigbo, a university professor brimming with anticolonial zeal; business-minded Kainene takes as her lover fair-haired, blue-eyed Richard, a British expatriate come to Nigeria to write a book about Igbo-Ukwu art—and whose relationship with Kainene nearly ruptures when he spends one drunken night with Olanna. This is a transcendent novel of many descriptive triumphs, most notably its depiction of the impact of war’s brutalities on peasants and intellectuals alike. It’s a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing.

Note: Although this doesn’t really look like my kind of read, this does look really interesting and I’ve been hearing lots of good things from African authors. So why not? books are like food right? you have to give it at least a taste :)

So what did you guys find?

Written by Karoline

September 11, 2009 at 7:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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