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Monday, May 30, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Library



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com : "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 Two Cents:

The premise of this book is incredibly disturbing. Old Nick took Ma away from life in the outside world and constrained her in a single room. Unfortunately this scenario calls to mind a real scenario (Jaycee Dugard), which makes the book just that much creepier. This book is definitely worth a read. It's by far one of the most original story lines that I've read in a very long time. Even though a very similar story occurred in real life, Ms. Donoghue does such an amazing job with creating Jack and Ma's entire world in one room, their Room.

I can't imagine being a kid and only knowing one room as your entire world. I thought it made for an especially compelling story for the narrator to be Jack, the young child. Ma would have known life outside of Room but Jack, being born and raised in Room, would have known nothing else. Ma does the best she can with what she has. She tries to give him everything she can but she can't give him the one thing that she wants most and the one thing that Jack needs, freedom.

I don't want to give too much away but let me say this, if you want to read a good book with a really original story line, you must read this book.

My Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars



Friday, May 27, 2011

Armchair BEA: Blogging About Blogging


For the last and final day of Armchair BEA, we're blogging about blogging. While I'm new to book blogging, I'm not new to blogging. There are several rules that I've always blogged by that I follow when I'm book blogging.

1. Be who you are: One thing I can definitely say is that I would rather be a first rate version of myself rather than a second rate of someone I claim to be. My writing is honest and will always be.

2. Honesty is the best policy: If I don't like something, I'm not going to pretend like I do. As far as book blogging goes, I'm blogging for readers. If I don't like a book, I'm going to tell the readers that I don't like a book.

3. It's okay not to post if you don't have anything to say: I'm a pretty talkative person most of the time but if I don't have something engaging to write about, I'm not going to just fill the space.

4. Connect, connect, connect: Blogging is a way to communicate with other like minded people. Blogs should start conversations. I want to connect with others! Reach out!

What are the blogging rules you live by?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Spreading Your Wings


This week: Booking Through Thursday asks: "Do you ever feel like you’re in a reading rut? That you don’t read enough variety? That you need to branch out, spread your literary wings and explore other genres, flavors, styles?"

My reading mantra has always been that I will at least try a book. If I don't care for it, I'm allowed to put it down. No harm, no foul. I try to read a lot of different genres. I try to mix in some classics with my contemporary reading. I read fiction and non-fiction with equal fervor. I figure if I read this way, there is no way that I could be bored.

How about you? Are you in a reading rut?

Armchair BEA: Nurturing Relationships


So today we're supposed to be talking about nurturing relationships that we've made through book blogging. As most of you realize, I'm still a new-ish book blogger so I'm still in the middle of learning how to network and build relationships with the other bookish people that I want in my life. I've picked up a few tips in the past two months:

1. Twitter:

Okay, before I had my blog, I had never tweeted before. I didn't really know how Twitter worked and I was frankly a little intimidated by it. I decided to set up a Twitter account after seeing how many other book bloggers that I had started commenting on had Twitter accounts. Now I love it! It's a good, quick way to meet bloggers, authors and publishers.

You can find me on Twitter here:
@abookishaffair

2. Goodreads:

Long before I started A Bookish Affair, I wrote reviews on Goodreads. It was interesting to compare books with other reader types and I found a lot of new books to read.

You can add me on Goodreads using the link at the very bottom of this page. Let's compare our TBR lists!

3. Interacting on Each Other's Blogs

Before I blogged on A Bookish Affair, I was a pretty active blogger on Xanga, another blogging community. One of the things that I learned there is the importance of actually interacting with other bloggers. Here on A Bookish Affair, I try to reply to every comment but if I don't reply, I usually try to visit your blog. Usually I do both (reply to comments and visit). I've found so many new-to-me blogs that way. My RSS feed is packed with people that I've found that way!

4. Facebook

I also recently started a page for A Bookish Affair on Facebook. I didn't realize how many bookish things are available on Facebook. I've connected with many other bloggers, some authors, and a few publishers. You can "like" A Bookish Affair using the link on the left if you want.

When it comes down to it, one of the most important aspects of book blogging is reaching out to others!

How do you interact with the book blogging community?

Brief Hiatus

Hi everyone,

I had a death in my family and will be out of town for the next few days to attend the memorial service and be with my family. I have a few posts loaded and ready to go but I probably won't be able to return comments or come visit you all until I get back in the middle of next week.

- Meg
A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Introducing: Reagan from the Star Shadow Blog

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Armchair BEA '11, Day 3: A week or so ago, all of the participants of Armchair BEA were given the name of another blogger to interview. I got to interview Reagan from the Star Shadow blog that I had never visited before.

Here's the interview (don't forget to go visit Reagan once you've finished reading the interview):

1. How long have you been book blogging for? Had you ever blogged before you started your book blog?
 
I started my blog in October of 2009 before I had a back surgery thinking that it was a great way for me to spend my recovery time sharing my thoughts on book not really knowing much about the blogging community or really how big it is. This was my first blog ever and I am really so thankful to be part of this awesome community.

2. Why did you start your blog?

I started the blog as a way to pass the time after a back surgery, really I was quite shocked to see and learn about how huge this community is. It got me back into reading and writing which I love.
3. We're almost halfway through the year already! What have been some of your favorite reads so far for 2011?

Some of the 2011 book I have loved hmmm... so many great ones... I loved Delirium by Lauren Oliver, The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter really loving the mythology and dystopian books this year.... Currently reading Abandon by Meg Cabot, which so far is another favorite read.
4. I see from one of your recent posts that you just went to Alaska for the first time (someplace I've always wanted to go). Why did you choose to go there? What was your favorite part of the trip?

Unfortunately that wasn't me it was an author doing a guest post.. However, I would love to go to Alaska, has always been a dream of mine..very jealous!!!
5. If you could only bring three books with you to a deserted island, which ones would you bring?
hmmmm only three...

Zombies Vs. Unicorns (because I love the stories and there fun to reread)
A collection of Meg Cabots Work
and A Collection of Simone Elkeles Work

6. Do you have a favorite spot to read in?

In bed its comfy and warm lol

7. What is your all time favorite book?

My favorite all time book would be actually the Chicagoland Vampire Series... by Chloe Neill (I cant pick just one book)

8. I'm a new blogger. Do you have any tips/hints for me and other new bloggers?

Don't change how you do things.. to be like other bloggers, we all need our unique voices, and that is what always sticks out to me.

Be sure to visit the Star Shadow blog!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros



"Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that's true"

From If I Stay by Gayle Forman


Stunning, no? I'm not very far in this book but I'm hooked.

Best of 2011!

Happy Tuesday you guys!

Today Armchair BEA asks us to share our favorite books for this year so far!

Like mystery? Like Italy? Do I have the book for you... 

Madame Tussaud is pretty amazing!

Have you read either of these? What have been your favorite reads so far this year?


Monday, May 23, 2011

Introducing Me!

I'm unfortunately not going to BEA '11 this year but I'm very excited to be participating in Armchair BEA. Today for Armchair BEA, we were asked to introduce ourselves.

So who am I? I'm a 20-something living in the Nation's Capital with my husband and two cats (Winston and Totoro) who kindly tolerate my grave book addiction. We live in a pretty small place that I love where the books slowly seem to be taking over like kudzu (thank goodness for ample bookshelves).

I've always been a reader. I can't remember the last time that I've been without a book. I read just about anything. I haven't met a book that I won't at least try. Fiction, non-fiction, politics, history, chick-lit, YA; I love it all.

Some bookish facts about me:
- I can only read one book at a time.
- I have a special bookmark that I love using and always think I'm going to lose it.
- I usually read 3-4 books a week
- I have always loved recommending books to others so book blogging was a very natural fit for me.
- I almost always read the book before I watch the movie.

What are some of your bookish facts?



Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox (2)


I'm very excited about my IMM this week. I think I mentioned that I had a bad case of Royal Wedding fever. On Facebook, I entered a contest to win some books from Sourcebooks through The British Babes Book Brigade, a cadre of British women authors (they are awesome). 

I won three books from them and a Butter London nail polish called "No More Waity, Katie."




Many thanks to Sourcebooks for these awesome books!

What was in your mailbox?




Friday, May 20, 2011

Follow Friday! (2)


This weeks Follow Friday question:  Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...


I could probably name a lot more than five but... I'll leave the rest to your imagination.


1. My family says that I open envelopes weirdly. I stick my finger in the corner and just pull. The envelopes never look that great afterwards (C'est la vie).


2 . I hate milk in my cereal. If I have cereal with breakfast, I'll eat it dry out of a bowl with a glass of milk on the side (haha).


3. I only like to read one book at a time. I get too confused if I read more than one at a time!


4. Caffeine seems to affect me in weird ways. I can drink coffee and tea right before bed and sleep just fine but on the other hand, I get very cranky if I don't have my coffee and tea to wake up with.


5. I probably go to the library at least once (sometimes twice) a week!


So what are your quirks? Post about it, let me know and I'll be sure to visit your blog!

Intuition by Allegra Goodman

Title: Intuition
Author: Allegra Goodman
Publisher: The Dial Press
Source: Library



What's the Story?: 

From Goodreads.com: "Sandy Glass, a charismatic publicity-seeking oncologist, and Marion Mendelssohn, a pure, exacting scientist, are codirectors of a lab at the Philpott Institute dedicated to cancer research and desperately in need of a grant. Both mentors and supervisors of their young postdoctoral proteges, Glass and Mendelssohn demand dedication and obedience in a competitive environment where funding is scarce and results elusive. So when the experiments of Cliff Bannaker, a young postdoc in a rut, begin to work, the entire lab becomes giddy with newfound expectations. But Cliff's rigorous colleague - and girlfriend - Robin Decker suspects the unthinkable: that his findings are fraudulent. As Robin makes her private doubts public and Cliff maintains his innocence, a life-changing controversy engulfs the lab and everyone in it."


My Two Cents:


I read this book for my book club. I don't come from a science background but I understand the importance of honesty and integrity in research. As taxpayers, we want to believe that when our tax dollars go towards supporting labs and institutions that the scientists are taking responsibility and using our tax dollars for good research for the good of the people. I did think it was sort of interesting that Robin's accusations were able to take the lab all the way to a House of Reps hearing about a few out of sorts results. I know that Congress can look at some pretty pithy things sometimes but looking at one lab in particular seemed a little crazy to me. I'm planning to look into this issue a little further. 


And while I don't have a science background, I have two brilliant sisters who do have science backgrounds and we've gotten to hear a lot of stories about the camaraderie in the lab. Some of their stories seem like mini-soap operas so it was interesting to me how well Goodman captured that environment.


Bottom line, a woman in my book club put it this way: this book is like a more intellectual beach read. It's a little frothy based in reality.


My Review:
3 out of 5 stars

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For Better by Tara Parker-Pope

Title: For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage
Author: Tara Parker-Pope
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Library

What's the Story?: 

From Goodreads.com: "We’ve all heard the statistic: Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. It’s enough to make many couples give up when the going gets rough, thinking that’s what everybody else does. But what if it weren’t true? What if, in fact, it’s not only possible but often easier than you think to save a seemingly troubled relationship? These are the questions leading New York Times blogger Tara Parker-Pope asked herself after her own divorce. An investigative journalist on the health and wellness beat, she turned to some of the top biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and other scientists for the facts about marriage and divorce. 

Those facts were more positive and provocative than she’d ever expected, and For Better offers page after page of astonishing, eye-opening good news. Parker-Pope presents the science behind why some marriages work and others don’t; the biology behind why some spouses cheat and others remain faithful; the best diagnostic tools created by the most cutting-edge psychologists to assess the probability of success in getting married, staying married, or remarrying. There are questionnaires to uncover potentially damaging hidden attitudes toward spouses. There are tools to show the impact of routine, fresh activity and how small adjustments can make a huge difference. Tara Parker-Pope’s genius is for exploring the science behind the big issues that affect our lives every day and translating that science into advice that we can use—every day."

My Two Cents: 

I was compelled to read this book after hearing about it on one of my favorite relationship blogs, A Practical Wedding. Being a newlywed, I thought I could find something useful in the book. Now let me just say, self-help type books are just really not my cup of tea so I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book. 

I could see how this book would be more helpful if you were in a relationship where you weren't really sure where your relationship was going or if you potentially had doubts about your relationship. For myself personally, I feel like I have a good handle on my relationship and I know where we stand so a lot of the pseudo quizzes throughout the book were not that enlightening.

This book definitely could have used some tighter editing. I found it very repetitive, sometimes almost word for word, which really took away from the book overall. 

This book was not for me but maybe someone else may get more out of it. 

My Review:
2 out of 5 stars


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gifted Ones by Lisa Vaughn: Review and Interview

Title: The Gifted Ones
Author: Lisa Vaughn
Publisher: Self-Published (for copies, please visit www.createspace.com/3538123 or Amazon.com)
Source: Received a copy of the book from the author.

What's the Story?:

From the back of the book: "Have you ever been so in love that your daily breath depended upon one another? Have you ever been pushed to unfathomable limits just to defend your beliefs? Have you ever been made to feel like the underbelly of society? Have you ever been thirteen?

Well I have... and this is my story.

Raised in a Catholic-based household in the Midwest - the year was 1976, and life as I knew it was about to change forever.

The next six years would prove to be a roller coaster of survival for two determined teenagers, being thrust into a full fledged, fight-for-your-life, adult existence- fueled by an overpowering mother and a closed-minded society. All in the name of love."

My Two Cents:

I fully believe that you can't help who you fall in love with. There is also the age old story of parents not liking who their teenage children fall in love with (major cause of teenage angst? I think so!). Lisa happens to fall in love with her best friend as a teenager. Her best friend, Selina, happens to be female. Lisa can't help falling in love. In the 1970s in the Midwest, her family throws an absolute fit and tries to keep them apart to no avail. Lisa's parents can't understand or rather won't understand the powerful connection and relationship between Lisa and Selina. It's sad.

My heart broke for Lisa. I think that as a teenager, you already feel like you are struggling to be accepted. To have your family not accept you for who you are must hurt so badly. As a teen, you struggle just to be yourself but how can you get to the point to where you accept yourself if the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally don't accept you?

If you ask most people about their first loves. They'll probably be able to tell you all about it in great detail. They'll be able to tell you the highs and the lows and everything in between. This book is very much like a letter about the author's first love. I really enjoyed the writing of the book.  It's real and it's raw and you'll feel like you're listening to an old friend.

This book is a journey of the search for being comfortable in your own skin and a good coming of age story.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars
_______________________________________________________

Author Interview with Lisa Vaughn:

Ms. Vaughn graciously agreed to be interviewed for A Bookish Affair so without further ado...


1. What inspired you to write the story of you and Selina at this point in your life (a couple decades after the events occurred)? Why now and not before?

This memoir actually began as a necessary healing tool for me after my mother's death in 2005. After she was gone, and I had mourned her actual passing, like a lot of daughters I experienced a lot of 'unfinished business' and surprising feelings of built up anger and betrayal towards my mom. After many, many 'therapy walks' alone on the beach, I talked myself  through every one of my remaining issues I had with her, and was shocked at how upset I still was after all those years! So through this book I have been able to channel and release that anger and misunderstanding - putting it in black and white to stare back at me. That's when the light bulb came on and I realized she had only done what she had been taught by her own mother. She truly did not know how to love me the way I needed to be loved at the time...and then throw in the 'gay' thing and bingo...she freaked! The straw that broke the camels back. She simply had no training on how to react, remember it was the late 70's.  So she coped the only way she knew how, not realizing the damage being done.
So for me, this memoir was not a choice, it was a must...for closure and forgiveness - to finally move on once and for all.  

2. In the acknowledgment section of the book, you dedicate it to the various members of your family? Have any of them read the book? What did they think?

Actually, only my sister knows about the book at this point, and has from the beginning. The reason I chose only her is; 1.) She is also an aspiring writer, and an avid reader - perfect to bounce ideas off and have her read my early drafts. 2.) I wanted her 'permission' to expose not only herself, but what she thought of me exposing our family, in sometimes a negative light, in order to lay out an honest, complete background, which I felt was very important to the foundation of the story. 
 At this point, my brother does not know about the book. He is currently still living with my father, taking care of him in his late stage of illness. I see no point in bringing up the past to my dad by telling him about the book, but do plan on telling my brother when I visit next month....but I will advise him to read it after my father is gone, and caution him about my mother's part, as he is still grappling with her death, being the baby of the family and all. He might have to wait a long time before he is ready!
My son also knows about  the book, (but not exact content) and has chosen not to read it at this time. I do hope when he is older (or I am gone) that he will pick it up, and learn how his mother came to be the person she is, and how my journey and lessons learned has benefited him as a result. That's very important to me. He's only 25, and reading intimate things about your mom is still gross (well really, when isn't it?) but I'm guessing he will soon.

3. I also noticed that Selina was not mentioned in the acknowledgment section. Is there a reason that you didn't include her?

Probably the main reason I didn't include her up there is because I felt the whole book was pretty muchalready dedicated to her (ha) and my family really needed to be acknowledged in a positive light for who they turned out to be in the end...and to thank them for letting me expose them on my journey to healing....or maybe it was just plain guilt! (kidding!)

4. In the end of the book, you mention that you've lost touch with Selina? Has that changed since you published The Gifted Ones? Will you reach out to her about the book?

THAT is the best part of the story! The story behind the story! I actually started writing the book in April 2009 (one day before her birthday) knowing it was not only essential for closure with my mother, but also just as important for closure with Selina, even after all those years. I literally went full circle. So from the beginning I knew I had to find her eventually to let her know of my project, as I felt it only fair, and to read the manuscript if nothing else, just in case an actual book never came to fruition. From the beginning I knew there were only two people that I needed to read the book...she was one , the other was my husband.
I did track her down, and it was one of the best things I've ever done! She totally supported my endeavor and we have since reconnected, even visited each other a few times in the past year! We met each others partners', which I am happy to say she DID find someone to share 'The Place' with, and has been with her the same length of time I've been with my husband. We keep in touch on a regular basis now and I can't imagine my life without her in it..she truly is my BFF. I call her my soul-sister, as she will always be ingrained in my soul - a part of me and who I am.

5. What do you hope people learn from your book?

If nothing else gets absorbed from this book, at the very least, I hope the message of acceptance is heard loud and clear. I mean it IS 2011! I cannot even fathom that being gay is still an issue in this country! I cannot stomach the fact that just because I've chosen to be with a male, I enjoy benefits and acknowledgments that my dearest, best friend does not get to have. Is she less of a person than I am, just because she chose to love the wrong sex in the eyes of the conservative public? How are they still getting away with this? To me it is just as important as the civil rights movement in the early sixties. 
And also, if parents could take a step back and remember that every reaction to their child's actions will influence that child for life, whether positively or negatively - you are wholly responsible for setting the pace for self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, the ability to handle criticism, future relationships...the list goes on and on. Parents mold and guide their children in the direction they need to go. But if you go against their programmed nature, and refuse to accept them for who they really are - not who you want them to be - you are dismissing and neglecting their needs as their true authentic self, only setting them up for a lifetime of struggles and misery in the ability to fit in or even accept themselves...which in the worst cases could lead to a life of abusive relationships, addictions, or even death.  And what parent wants that for their child? Like I said, the legacy of hate has to stop with our generation. It just has to, it'sway past time!   

6. Do you plan to write anything more? Fiction or memoir?

Ha...lets just see how this one goes! If there's one thing in my life I've learned, it's never say never...so we'll see. IF I did, being an artist whose release is self-expression in a creative medium, I'd probably write another autobiography-style type of book. But it would have to have a purpose or a message to convey, I think. Who knows, maybe I'll continue the story of my relationship with Selina in our golden years...post heart-break!  

7. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Like they say, "Write what you know"! A great piece of art comes directly from the soul, and that's how I view books - as a piece of art that's truly your creation, your expression. I giggle when someone refers to me as an author or writer, as I view myself simply as a chick with a story. We all have one, this just happens to be mine. Luckily I was born with the creative mind to express myself through my art, which I view this book as just that...another piece in my collection of artwork.
But also, to other indie artist/writers out there - remember there's more than one way to skin a cat! And luckily we live in a world where we have so many wonderful options out there to take. If you can't find an agent or publisher to believe in your work and back you, no worries...conventional ways aren't always the best ways. If you hit a roadblock, simply find another route. If you truly believe in your project, nothing should stop you....again, be your own cheerleader and believe in yourself, but do it for the right reasons. Sometimes money itself isn't the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow.  It can be a lot more valuable and self-fulfilling to accomplish your goal, or be set free...and that truly is priceless!

Thank you so much, Lisa!

Library Loot: May 18- 24


I went wild at the library this week. Eek! Library, why do you have to be so tempting?

I've been seeing this book pop up a lot on various blogs so when I saw it in the new book section, I had to get it.




I've also been seeing a lot about Sarah Dessen on different blogs. The library had two books by her on the shelves and both looked good so I got both (this is how so many of my library trips go).


Then I saw this book near the Dessen books and I've really been wanting to read it so I also picked this one up.


This book was also in the new book section. HRH was just in DC talking with our President about sustainability. He also visited a sustainable farm in our city (yes, Washington DC has a farm in it. How cool is that?)


I've been hearing a lot of good things about this book! I can't wait to read it!


This is the second in the series!

So that's everything that I got!

What did you get at the library this week?



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)



This meme was started by The Story Siren.

This is my first "In My Mailbox" but I got some good books so I wanted to actually share this week:

For Book Tours:

For Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (Thanks to the author!)

For Free Book Tours through Book Blogs (Thanks to Simon and Schuster!)

Winnings:






For Review:

Thanks to the author!

What did you get in your mailbox?



The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Title: The Peach Keeper
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Publisher: Bantam Books

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots. 

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it. 

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town. 

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living. Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever."

My Two Cents:

I had only read one of Allen's books before this one, The Girl Who Chased the Moon. And The Peach Keeper like that book had some really wonderful characters. This book is a fast read but I found myself really liking and feeling for the characters. I want to be Rachel's friend so we can study coffeeology together. I want to give Paxton a hug and tell her that Sebastian loves her and that she needs to put all self-doubt behind. I want to tell Willa that's she's awesome. 

The root of this story is about friendship. It's about the old friendship between Agatha and Georgie. Agatha promises that she will keep Georgie's secret forever. It's about the new friendship between Paxton and Willa, united in the mystery of Willa's family's old house.

There were a few things in the book that left me wanting though. First, I wanted to know more about why Willa wasn't into going to the gala at the house where her grandmother grew up. You never really got a good feeling as to whether it had to do with not liking Paxton at first or being nervous about the meaning the old house. I would have liked to know more about Paxton's background. It seemed like some parts were a little too rushed and didn't have as much detail. 

Bottom line, this book is a great Southern escape!

My Review:
3.5 out of 5 stars


(How much do you love this cover?)


Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (5)



Just finished:
The review will be up tomorrow!



Currently Reading:


Up Next:

I'm reading this one for book club!

What are you reading this week?


Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

Title: Cleopatra
Author: Stacy Schiff
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company

What's the Story?:

Goodreads.com: "Her life spanned fewer than 40 years, but she was the last Egyptian pharaoh and one of the most influential women of the age. She married twice, each time to a brother; she poisoned one and waged a war against the other. To this day, the life of Cleopatra VII (69-30 B.C.) intrigues us. This adept biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff tells us why it should. The true story of the woman behind the myth.

My Two Cents:

What I knew of Cleopatra before this book was mostly what I had gleaned from fictional books and movies where Cleopatra is shown as sensual woman who gets her way mostly through feminine wiles and not necessarily through the crazy amount of power she had. As a woman, I think it would pretty much suck to only be remembered for your romantic escapades and not your extremely amazing statesmanship. This book seeks to change people's perspective on Cleopatra and to enlighten people on all of the amazing things she did as a ruler of Egypt.

What I especially liked in the book is the description of Cleopatra's world. It's interesting how small people of her time thought the world was round (although at that point, the Egyptians already knew the world was round, they pretty much forgot the Western Hemisphere). I also loved the descriptions of Alexandria. I so would have loved to spend time in the library there. It was also striking to see how Rome was considered to be quite backwards in comparison to Alexandria. 

I would definitely recommend this book. It's a very interesting biography of a truly amazing person!

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Title: Something Borrowed
Author: Emily Giffin
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Rachel White is the consummate good girl. A hard-working attorney at a large Manhattan law firm and a diligent maid of honor to her charmed best friend Darcy, Rachel has always played by all the rules. Since grade school, she has watched Darcy shine, quietly accepting the sidekick role in their lopsided friendship. But that suddenly changes the night of her thirtieth birthday when Rachel finally confesses her feelings to Darcy's fiance, and is both horrified and thrilled to discover that he feels the same way. As the wedding date draws near, events spiral out of control, and Rachel knows she must make a choice between her heart and conscience. In so doing, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren't always neat, and sometimes you have to risk everything to be true to yourself."


My Two Cents:


I wasn't sure how I was going to like this book but I had seen commercials for the movie and it looked sort of cute. Now why wasn't I sure I was going to like this book? I'm not a big fan of the whole idea of cheating (okay, who is really?) and since the central character gets with her best friend's fiance, I wasn't sure that I would like Rachel's character at all and would be shaking my head with disapproval through the entire book. So not the case!!!


You can see how Rachel is entranced by Dex and you can see how sort of rotten Darcy is, especially at the end. The cheating isn't cool and isn't excusable but at least through Rachel's experience, you can see in a way how cheating under the circumstances is at least understandable. I really fell in love with the character of Rachel and really identified with her always feeling like she came in second best and she couldn't win. I especially felt her when she's just waiting around for Dex to make a decision about whether or not he's going to call off the wedding. I so know how waiting for a big decision to be made feels (it sucks actually). 


I just put the sequel on hold at the library (Something Blue) and I'm anxious to see how everything turns out for Darcy.


My Review:
3 out of 5 stars







Saturday, May 14, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: May 13- 16


This week the Book Blogger Hop asks:  "Are you going to Book Expo America (BEA) and/or the Book Blogger Convention (BBC) this year?"


I'm not going for two reasons.


1. I just started blogging about two months ago so I'm not sure that it would be very beneficial for me to go this time around. Maybe next year when I'm a little more established.


2. I have a couple big trips set for this summer (Montana and Ukraine) so the time I can take off of work for anything else is very, very limited. 


Are you going?

Friday, May 13, 2011

As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto

Title: As Nature Made Him

Author: John Colapinto

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Source: Library



What's the Story?:



From Goodreads.com: "In As Nature Made Him, author John Colapinto offers a powerful true story that may shake beliefs you take for granted -- not least that doctors can be trusted to work in their patients' best interests. In lucid, impassioned prose, Colapinto, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, traces the life of David Thiessen, a boy sex-changed to female during infancy as part of a cruel experiment. In 1965, David (then named Bruce) was one of a pair of male twins. After a catastrophic circumcision accident, Bruce's penis was destroyed, while his brother Brian remained intact. Devastated, the twins' parents turned for help to Dr. John Money, a world-famous Johns Hopkins psychologist. They were searching for a solution. Instead, they found themselves pawns in a test designed to confirm Money's pet theory -- that gender is a purely social phenomenon, a matter of nurture, not nature."



My Two Cents:



I felt horrible for David. His parents were devastated and just wanted to try to make David's life as normal as possible. Dr. John Money promised them that through changing their baby's sex (it seems to be much easier to do a sex change on a natural born male to a natural born female), he could give the baby a normal life and really, who doesn't simply seek for their children to have a normal life?



Dr. Money also had an ulterior motive though. Long outspoken on matters of sexuality and gender, Money wanted to prove that it's nurture and not nature that makes our genders what they are (full disclosure: this is a philosophy that I do not agree with). Money made David's parents promise that they would bring him to see Money every year for psychological study and "counseling" (I use that term loosely as what Money did to poor David should not really be considered couseling). Money tries to instill what it means to be a female in David, who isn't told that he was born a male and the methods he uses are horrendous and stereotypical (David gets good treatment when he acts or does things that fit into a female stereotype and he pretty much get berated when he acts confused about his gender or does things that fit into the male stereotype).



Luckily, David is now able to live as the gender he chooses to be and he's free to be exactly who he feels that he should be. It was heart wrenching to watch him struggle through the book to come to terms why he felt something was off (he doesn't find out that he was actually born male until his pre-teen/teen years). I can't imagine how I would feel going through something like that where I felt like something was wrong with me but I just couldn't pinpoint exactly what was wrong.



This is an incredibly interesting book and I recommend it to anyone who likes psychology or science or even just general human interest stories.



My Review:

4 out of 5 stars





Thursday, May 12, 2011

Booking Through Thursday- May 12, 2011


This week's question:  Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?

When I was in middle and high school, I read a lot of adult books. I feel like lately (as in the past 5 years) that young adult books are a lot better or at least there are more of them or something like that. But when I was actually in that age group, I felt like there weren't a whole lot of young adult books that I was interested in so I read the adult books (I read almost the entire list of Oprah's Book Club books when I was in high school).

When I first started reading book blogs (which has really only been in the past year), I saw a lot of bloggers around my age (I'm in my mid-20s) were reading young adult books and they seemed to have really cool story lines and more unique than many adult fiction books. I was apprehensive at first to start reading young adult books mostly because I was wondering what other people would think of me. Would they think I couldn't read at an adult level? Did they think I was weird? Would they think I was immature? So on and so forth.

When I moved about 6 months ago, I went to my new library and saw many adults picking up young adult books. It took that to get me over my kind of, sort of fear. Now I feel free to read whatever I want from any section of the library that I want. Getting over that fear has really opened me up to reading a lot of good books that I probably wouldn't have had the chance to read before because of my own fear!

What about you? Do you read outside your age group?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (1)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Led by Breaking the Spine.

I read in our little commuter paper this morning that Simon and Schuster will be publishing a memoir by Jaycee Dugard. I'm really excited about this book. I love memoirs and I am especially drawn to memoirs of people who have been through the extraordinary. Ms. Dugard's captivity for so many years is certainly extraordinary. The book is due to be published July 12, 2011 according to Goodreads.com


What are you looking forward to reading?
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