Friday, July 29, 2011

A Fond Farewell to a Friend

I grew up in a pretty small town. We had a lot of used bookstores but if you wanted the latest and the greatest book, Borders was the place to go. As a teenager, I spent a ridiculous amount of time in my local Borders store. I'd go there alone and I'd go there with friends (there aren't many stores that just let you hang out as long as you want). There wasn't a whole lot for a teen to do where I grew up. You  could go to the mall or our small downtown area but that was really about it. Borders was a perfect place to just hang out. I spent countless hours (and countless amounts of babysitting money) on books, cds, and coffee. As part of a creative writing class I took in high school, I even got to do a few readings there with my class (way cool for a 10th grader). I have so many fond memories of that particular store and really the entire Borders company. Borders will always have a special place in my heart!

Last weekend, my husband and I were in my hometown and we went by Borders to see what the sales were like. The line to check out wound it's way all the way through the back of the store. The store itself just looked tired with the books all askew and shelves slowly beginning to clear out. It was incredibly depressing in a way. I really hope this isn't the fate of all brick and mortar bookstores.

Borders made a lot of mistakes and the business side of me can see why they failed so badly but I can't help but to feel nostalgic. It feels like I'm losing an old friend.

What say you? Are you sad to see Borders go or was it time? What do you think the fate of other brick and mortar bookstores will be?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Night Owl

This week, Booking Through Thursday asks:  What’s the latest you’ve ever stayed up reading a book? Is staying up late reading a usual thing for you?

I try to limit my staying up late reading to the weekends. I don't want to be a zombie at work. To tell the truth, I'm much more of a morning person than a night owl but some books are too good to put down before I totally finish them. Since I'm not a night owl, one of my favorite things to do during the weekend when I don't have anywhere to be is to read in bed for about an hour when I get up. It's one of the nicest ways to wake up.

What say you?

Review: The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King

Title: The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell #1)
Author: Laurie R. King
Publisher: Picador
Publish Date: 1994
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like strong characters
  • You like strong female characters
  • You always wondered what happened to Sherlock Holmes
What's the Story?:

From "In 1915, Sherlock Holmes is retired and quietly engaged in the study of honeybees in Sussex when a young woman literally stumbles into his lap on the Sussex downs. Fifteen years old, gawky, egotistical, and recently orphaned, the young Mary Russell displays an intellect to impress even Sherlock Holmes. Under his reluctant tutelage, this very modern twentieth-century woman proves a deft protégée, and a fitting partner for the Victorian detective. This first book of the Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes mysteries is full of brilliant deduction, disguises, and danger."

My Two Cents:

I had several people recommend this book to me. I usually don't read a lot of mysteries and this book is considered a mystery. I would re-classify it as more of a pure fiction with mystery elements. Mary Russell makes the book. She's a woman before her time. She's headstrong and intelligent. I really liked reading about the interplay between her and Sherlock Holmes. They bring out the best in each other. Holmes is able to teach Russell some of his sleuthing skills in unconventional ways. Alternatively, Russell is able to teach Holmes about the new world of the 20th century (Sherlock Holmes was very much a Victorian man).

I think that it could be very hard to write a new story involving such a famous literary figure as Sherlock Holmes but King pulls it off well. She stays true to Holmes' character and also that of Dr. Watson. 

Holmes and Russell are called in to help a family find their lost little girl (named Jessica Simpson of all things but this novel came out in 1994, well before the singer). Russell and Holmes must rely on all of Holmes' greatest tricks to save Jessica. 

I'm anxious to see where this story goes.

Bottom line: This book will be enjoyable for everyone who likes a good story with vivid characters even if they haven't read any of the Sherlock Holmes tales before.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Kate by Claudia Joseph

Title: Kate
Author: Claudia Joseph
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing
Published Date: April 2, 2009
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're looking for a book on Catherine Middleton's family

 What's the Story?:

From "With her glossy dark hair, classic looks, natural appearance and cut-glass accent, Kate Middleton displays all the poise and breeding expected from the wife of the heir to the throne. Sophisticated beyond her years, as well as academically gifted, Kate has charmed William's louche circle of friends as well as the House of Windsor. Yet behind her polished veneer lies the extraordinary tale of an impoverished working-class family that overcame deprivation and adversity to rise to the upper echelons of society. Claudia Joseph has spoken to members of Kate's family and friends, who have provided an intriguing insight into the extraordinary journey her family has made from the mining villages of Durham to an apartment in the royal residence of Clarence House. Drawing on exclusive interviews and containing previously unpublished photographs, this is an authoritative account of Kate Middleton's life so far."

My Two Cents:

I've been really fascinated with Kate Middleton (now called Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) so when I saw this book on the shelves at my library, I had to pick it up. Ms. Joseph sets this book up very interestingly. Approximately the first 100 or so pages cover Catherine's family in juxtaposition with what was happening with Prince William's royal family at the same time. The juxtaposition is interesting at first. Catherine's ancestors were coal miners while William's ancestor at the same time period was Queen Victoria. However, the juxtaposition becomes a bit stale. It becomes a lot of names sort of doing things that are not particularly interesting. 

The second part of the book picks up a little bit. Drawing heavily on interviews with people who know Catherine, the book sheds a little more insight on her and William's relationship particularly during their university years at St. Andrews. 

Bottom line: There are a lot better books out there on this subject. This one didn't really blow me away.

My Review:
2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Winners of the One Day Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the One Day giveaway!

All winners have been emailed. If I don't hear from them in 48 hours, I will pick new winners!


Review: Rapunzel's Daughters

Title: Rapunzel's Daughters
Author: Edited by Josie Brown, Rose Mambert, and Bill Racicot
Publisher: Pink Narcissus Press
Publish Date: July 1, 2011
Source: Received from publisher (this did not affect my review)

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You still love fairy tales
  • Like me, you wondered about what happened after the "Happily ever after"
  • Warning: Even though these are fairy tales, some of them have very adult themes. This isn't a book for little ones!
What's the Story?:

From "What happens after the "Happily Ever After"...?
30 writers answer questions that no one has dared ask before about your favorite fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and legends. What dark arts will Little Miss Muffet employ to exact her revenge on the spider? Can a guide help the Big, Bad Wolf succeed in eating Little Red Riding Hood without getting caught? Is Prince Charming gay? And will the Beast get tired of ravishing Beauty, and instead turn his attention to Lady Gaga?

All of these answers and more can be found in 31 original stories full of indecisive princesses, talking wolves, unhappy frogs, wicked witches, with a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust, magical transformations, and psychotherapy."

My Two Cents:

What a cool book! I have always loved fairy tales and I personally have been very happy to see the resurgence in new takes on some of my favorite fairy tales.  This book is filled with some great sequels and retellings of fairy tales that were old favorites and a few new-to-me fairy tales that were really wonderful.

Some of my favorites from the book:

  • A Wolf's Guide to the Fairy Tale by Dave Sellars: A play by play of Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf's point of view. Very funny.
  • Dr. Zum: Psychotherapist to the Surreal by Melanie Rees: The title says it all. Can you imagine having some of these fairy tales recline on your therapist couch???
  • Testing the Waters by Stuart Sharp: What if you got a chance to kiss more that one frog to find your perfect prince? Oh and you're really, really, really picky.
  • Cinderella's Niece by Nicci Mechler: What if your aunt happened to be a famous fairy tale character who was still obsessed with her story and it's made her a little crazy.
There are over 30 stories in this book. Each one is a unique take on a classic. It was so interesting to see what people came up with.

Bottom line: This is a great read for all my fellow fairy tale lovers.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

What's your favorite fairy tale?

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Just Finished:

Currently Reading:

Next Up:

What are you reading?

PS: Don't forget that today is the last day to sign up for the One Day giveaway. There are three chances to win but you must be a follower of A Bookish Affair. Click here to sign up!

Review: Masquerade by Melissa De La Cruz

Title: Masquerade (Blue Bloods #2)
Author: Melissa De La Cruz
Publisher: Hyperion
Published Date: May 1, 2007
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like your paranormal with a little more of a historical twist
  • You read the first Blue Bloods book (those that haven't may have a hard time following the book)

What's the Story?:

From "Schuyler Van Alen wants an explanation for the mysterious deaths of young vampires. With her best friend, Oliver, Schuyler travels to Italy in the hope of finding the one man who can help—her grandfather. Meanwhile, back in New York, preparations are feverishly underway for the Four Hundred Ball, an exclusive gala hosted by the city's wealthy, powerful, and unhuman—a true Blue Blood affair.
But it's at the after-party, a masquerade ball thrown by the cunning Mimi Force, that the real danger lurks. Hidden behind the masks is a revelation that will forever change the course of a young vampire's destiny.

Rich with glamour, attitude, and vampire lore, this second installment in the Blue Bloods saga will leave readers thirsting for more."

My Two Cents:

The second book of the Blue Bloods series starts with Schuyler and Oliver going to Venice to find her grandfather as he seems to be the only one that may be able to help Sky determine what's happening to all of the vampires in New York who seem to be being attacked by the mysterious Silver Bloods. I loved, loved, loved that they were in Venice. Venice is one of the most interesting cities that I've ever been to. You hear about there being no roads, only canals but it doesn't really hit you how strange and wonderful that is until you're actually there. Between the settings of Venice and New York City, this installation is heavy on place, which I absolutely love.

This book maps out a little more of the historical story of the Blue Bloods and the Silver Bloods. Luckily this book seems to still have a historical focus and hasn't left it behind for a straight vampire story. We gain more insight into who some of the vampires were in previous lives and also a little more of Sky's story and why her mother is in a coma that she may never wake up from.

Bottom line: This book is definitely for people that have read the first book but this series continues to be intriguing.

My Review:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.
Here's what was in my mailbox this week: 

 What was in your mailbox?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Review: The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

Title: The Ministry of Special Cases
Author: Nathan Englander
Publisher: Knopf
Published Date: January 1, 2007
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like books with a lot of symbolism and meaning.
  • You don't mind sort of nebulous books that take awhile to figure out.
  • You're a fan of authors like Kafka.
What's the Story?:

From "Since the publication in 1999 of Nathan Englander's debut work, a collection of short stories entitled For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, readers have eagerly awaited the novel that the Jerusalem-based author was rumored to be writing. The Ministry of Special Causes rewards the wait, telling the tale of Jews threatened by Argentina's "Dirty War" of the 1970s and '80s. The main character, Kaddish Pozman, has a clandestine cemetery job as an eraser of tombstone surnames, at the behest of Buenos Aires Jews frantically trying to conceal their heritage and protect themselves from the looming government terror. A haunting novel; a promise fulfilled."

My Two Cents:

Kaddish is sort of on the outskirts of society. Literally a son of a whore, he isn't really welcome into mainstream society. He does the best that he can do and is allowed to perform a job as an eraser of names in Jewish graveyards. His son, Pato, is a university student in Argentina. This is the 1970s and the Dirty War is in play. Basically during the Dirty War, anyone seeming to not be in line with the military junta in charge had a chance of being "disappeared," where they would be taken away by the government never to be seen again. 

Pato is taken away by the military junta, which throws Kaddish and Lillian, his wife into an uproar. Both deal with the tragedy in different ways. Kaddish is willing to believe that his son is probably dead and never returning. Lillian, on the other hand, decides to try to deal with the bureaucracy that is Argentina's government at the time and try to find out what happened to her son. 

I read this book for book club and feel like I got a lot more out of the book once discussing it within the club but admittedly, I didn't like it much after first reading it. It's full of symbolism and after awhile, it seems like overkill. I don't mind a bit of symbolism (and in many cases, a bit of symbolism can add a lot to the book) but this was too much definitely. 

Another thing that I didn't care for in the book was the lack of a sense of place. It's supposed to take place during the Dirty War in Argentina but with the nebulous way that the book is written, you would never know where the book was written other than the author writing that they are in Argentina. I was definitely disappointed in that. I can't tell if the author wanted it to be that unclear as to where they were or what. 

The human story in the book, the story about a parent's love for their child is universal and important. I'm just not sure if this book really carried it off.

Bottom line: This book wasn't really for me.

My Review:
2 out of 5 stars

Book Blogger Hop: 7/22-7/25

Join the fun!:

This week the Book Blogger Hop question is: What’s the ONE GENRE that you wish you could get into, but just can’t?

When it comes to reading, I'm very much an equal opportunity reader for the most part. I can't say that I won't at least try any book in any particular genre. Of course I do have some favorite genres (give me a good historical fiction any day!!!!) but I'll try just about anything once. One thing that I've really liked about book blogging and interacting with other bloggers is that it's really broadened my reading horizons. I so love that!

What say you?

PS: Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a One Day prize pack. You have three chances to win! You do have to be a follower (just a heads up). Fill out the form here!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Don't Forget! There's Still Time....

.... to enter the One Day giveaway! Enter here!

Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Title: Sisterhood Everlasting
Author: Ann Brashares
Publisher: Random House
Published Date: June 14, 2011
Source: Received from the publisher (this did not effect my review)

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You loved the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books (Warning: This book is probably not a great choice for someone who has never read any of the books!)
  • You like stories of strong friendships
What's the Story?:

From "Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one."

My Two Cents:

Wow, just wow, this book sort of blew me away. I had just re-read all four of the previous Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books last year. I loved the entire series. It was such a good series of books on the absolute and sometimes magical power of friendship. I was anxious to catch up with some of my favorite characters from the series in Sisterhood Everlasting. In this book, all of the characters are now just a couple years older than me. 

This book has a significantly different tone than the previous books in the series. It's definitely more serious and heaps more heavy. The first four books in the series are warm, cozy stories of close friendships. I realize that there are a lot of cases in life of friendships that we sort of grow out of but it was hard to see that between Tibby, Bee, Carmen and Lena since they had always been so fantastically close. This book was definitely real in that way, almost unnervingly real. 

Once I got to the first major twist in the book (which I will not disclose in this book to avoid spoiling the story), I couldn't put the book down. I had to know exactly what happened and why things in the girls' worlds were the way that they were. 

I did like this book even though the tone of it is vastly different than the first four books when the main characters are just teens. Did the book give me a feeling of closure for the series? Definitely. This book was hard to read just because I loved the characters so much after reading the rest of the series and it's hard to see things that aren't so great happen to characters you really care for.  I think this is a fitting end to the series.

Bottom line: If you enjoyed this series, do pick up the book. While it's not as light as the other books, it's a great end to the series.

My Review:
3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review and Guest Post: The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton by Miranda Neville

 I reviewed this book as part of the Virtual Book Tour. As part of the tour, the author will be giving away a $25 gift certificate as part of the book tour so be sure that you follow. The more you comment on the book tour, the more chances you have to win!!!!!  See tour dates here.


Title: The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton
Author: Miranda Neville
Publisher: Avon
Published Date: July 26th, 2011
Source: Received an ebook as part of the Goddess Fish Promotion book tour

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're looking for a book you'll want to finish in one sitting.
  • You like a bit of mystery with your romance.

What's the Story?:

From "Being kidnapped is teaching Miss Celia Seaton a few things about life:
Lesson one: Never disrobe in front of a gentleman . . . unless his request comes at gunpoint.

Lesson two: If, when lost on the moors, you encounter Tarquin Compton, the leader of London society who ruined your marriage prospects, deny any previous acquaintance.

Lesson three: If presented with an opportunity to get back at Mr. Compton, the bigger the lie, the better. A faux engagement should do nicely.

Lesson four: Not all knowledge is found between the covers of a book. But an improper book may further your education in ways you never guessed."

My Two Cents:

At the beginning of the book, Celia finds herself in the middle of nowhere in the moors of England after being kidnapped. Luckily for her, she's not all alone. Unfortunately for Celia, the man that she finds herself with is Tarquin Compton, the man who ruined her chances of finding a suitable husband during her debutante season. After realizing that Tarquin has a very convenient case of amnesia, Celia takes things into her own hands and fools Tarquin into thinking that they're betrothed and getting Tarquin to help her escape from their captors. Everything is working out until Tarquin begins to remember the unfortunate details of where he knows Celia from before but only after they consummate their relationship. Mesh that storyline with a family secret and mystery and you have a book that will grab you.

One of the most interesting things about this book is how the author was able to weave in some information and quotes from actual romantic and some erotic literature from the books time period. Can you imagine how fascinating, not to mention scintillating, that research must have been? Talk about fun research! I didn't realize how much of the actual literature had been sort of incorporated into the book until I read the Author's note at the end. I loved how the quotes at the beginning of each chapter added to the story.

At first I didn't like Tarquin and was kind of getting mad that Celia kept falling for him. Slowly throughout the book, Tarquin kind of grew on me. Even with his hard exterior, his heart was in the right place. I kind of like characters that are able to change your mind as the story goes on. It's kind of cool to watch them grow and change.  And uh, the steamy parts also helped to change my mind about him for sure.

Bottom line: This book was so fun and kept me up late to finish it. If you're looking for a romance with a bit of adventure, this is the book for you.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Author Guest Post:

Presenting Miranda Neville...


1. WAR AND PEACE. Since I’m likely to stranded for a long time, I’d like something long. I read Tolstoy’s doorstop years ago and really enjoyed it. The romance between Natasha and Andrei is swoonworthy although (spoiler alert) it end badly. But Natasha ends up with the sweet and nerdy Pierre who really deserves her. The historical background of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia is fascinating. Not sure I’d have the patience to reread War and Peace now (did I mention it’s looong?) but it would be perfect for those lonely nights.

2. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen. No need to introduce this classic to romance readers. Love love love it. I may know it by heart, but there must be a phrase or two I’d need to re-read on my tropical beach.

3. KANE AND ABEL by Jeffrey Archer. I’m on a beach, right? I need a beach read. The tale of a lifelong rivalry between a Boston Brahmin and an ambitious immigrant is one of the all time great pulp fiction sagas.

4. THE COMPLETE WORKS OF LORETTA CHASE. Actually no such volume exists, but it should. And if I can’t have the complete run of Ms. Chase’s brilliant historical romances, I’ll take Lord of Scoundrels. Or maybe Lord Perfect. Or perhaps Mr. Impossible…. Please don’t make me chose!

5. THE DESPERATE DUCHESS series by Eloisa James. Trying to get six for the price of one again. I adore this Georgian series and if I have to take one, it would be the first, Desperate Duchesses itself. I loved the main romance and all the characters who will appear in later books.

6. THE COMPLETE BOOK OF TROPICAL FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. I’m not going to kill, skin, gut, and cook any animals so it’ll have to be a vegetarian diet for me.

7. A HERO. OK, wandering off topic here. Pray, let me be stranded with a gorgeous alpha male with a talent for wilderness living. Then I won’t need #1 or #6. The ability to provide nourishment under challenging circumstances is so sexy. (May I add that Tarquin, the hero of THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON, manages it when he and Celia are wandering the Yorkshire moors.)

What are your desert island books? Or, better still, who would be your desert island hero?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Prince William and Kate by Matt Doeden

Title: Prince William and Kate
Author: Matt Doeden
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Published Date: September 1, 2011
Source: NetGalley

Why You're Reading This Book:

- You were one of the millions that got up to watch Prince William and Catherine get married.

What's the Story?:

This is a middle grade/ young adult book about the romance of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. It covers their relationship from their days at St. Andrew's University to their wedding in April 2011.

My Two Cents:

It's probably not a secret that I'm into all things royal and I'm a sucker for a good love story. I love the story of Prince William and Kate Middleton. He was one of the most famous bachelors in the world and she was a middle-class girl from the English Countryside. The fact that they fell in love is just way romantic to me. When I saw that I could get this book off of Netgalley, I jumped for it.

Are you going to learn anything new about their relationship? No, not really. The book doesn't really shed any new light on their relationship that hasn't already been covered extensively on tv or in magazines. It's a quick, heartwarming read. The pictures are gorgeous and while many of them have been seen extensively in magazines and other books and the like, it's a great collection all in one book.

Bottom line: This book would make a great gift for a middle grade or young adult person who has an interest in the royal family. Although any adult who has been intrigued by the love affair between Will and Kate will probably like this book as well.

My Review:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review and Giveaway: One Day by David Nicholls

Title: One Day
Author: David Nicholls
Publisher: Vintage
Published Date: 2009

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like a good love story
  • You're a fan of writers like Nick Hornby
  • You want to read the book before seeing the movie starring Anne Hathaway (a personal favorite of mine) and Jim Sturgess.

What's the Story?:

From "It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself."

My Two Cents:

Everyone has that one person who seems to be with you through thick and thin. Dex and Em are that for each other. The interesting thing about this book is that we only get to see Dex and Em's relationship change, grow, and sometimes break only one day a year (July 15th). This definitely added something special and unique to the book. Even though we only get to see that one day in July each year, we're still able to get a really intimate picture of Dex and Em.

While both Dex and Em are ultimately very likable characters, I really, really liked Emma. She's funny and sweet (and she is a huge reader, what's not to love). She really grow and changes so much through the book. Once very unsure of herself and her relationship with Dex, she really blooms throughout the book and comes into her own. I feel like the past few years of my life have very much been a growing period so I definitely identified with her. 

I haven't seen the movie yet but I've heard a lot of good things about it. I'm looking forward to see how just talking about one day a year translates to the screen. I think it could be just as interesting on screen as in the book.

Bottom line: this is a great book about the human condition and the way that we can be changed by those around us.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Link Up!
Official website

Enter the GoodReads “One Day Summer Reads” Sweepstakes

The Giveaway:

Thanks to Big Honcho Media and Focus Features, Two (2) winners will receive:
  • *Autographed* copies of the book (movie tie-in edition, paperback, signed by David Nicholls)
  • Clear cosmetic case
  • Necklace
  • Moleskin Journal

I am also giving away my gently used copy One Day (this book is too good not to share).

The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM EST on Monday, July 25th, 2011.

Rules for winning one of the three prizes:
- Must be 13 or older to win
- The giveaway is open to US residents only 
- You must follow A Bookish Affair somehow
- Fill out the giveaway form below:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: 7/15-7/18

This week's question: How/Where do you get your books? Do you buy them or go to the library? Is there a certain website you use like paperbackswap?

I love my library. Since moving to the District about 9 months ago, I've been way impressed with the DC library system. I can pretty much have access to any book I want through my own branch or one of the other branches. It's fantastic! I try not to buy too many books because I'd like to not have to live in a refrigerator box for lack of funds.

Where do you usually get your books?

Shoes and Jewels for the Book Lover

I came across these last night on Twitter. I'm not a big fan of heels (it usually takes a pretty special occasion for me to want to wear them) but these are adorable.

Click here to see these bookish heels!

I found this bracelet last night on Etsy and it combines two of my favorite things: books (specifically the Dewey decimal system) and coffee! The seller, A Likely Story, has a lot of other really cute bookish jewelry in their store. I'm in love!

Would you wear either of these items?

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Shopaholic Takes Manhattan
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Dial Press
Published Date: January 2002
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

- You want a fun escape
- You're a fan of Sophie Kinsella and liked the first Shopaholic book

What's the Story?:

From "With her shopping excesses (somewhat) in check and her career as a TV financial guru thriving, Becky’s biggest problem seems to be tearing her entrepreneur boyfriend, Luke, away from work for a romantic country weekend. And worse, figuring out how to “pack light.” But packing takes on a whole new meaning when Luke announces he’s moving to New York for business–and he asks Becky to go with him! Before you can say “Prada sample sale,” Becky has landed in the Big Apple, home of Park Avenue penthouses and luxury department stores.
Surely it’s only a matter of time until she becomes an American TV celebrity, and she and Luke are the toast of Gotham society. Nothing can stand in their way, especially with Becky’s bills miles away in London.
But then an unexpected disaster threatens her career prospects, her relationship with Luke, and her available credit line! Shopaholic Takes Manhattan–but will she have to return it?"

My Two Cents:

I love the Shopaholic books. I've never really been a big spender myself but living vicariously through Becky Bloomwood. Even though I'm not a big spender, it definitely doesn't mean that I don't like hearing about other people's shopping exploits. Au contraire, I do very much; I just have extremely good willpower (haha)!

One of the things that I love best about these books is Becky herself. She's quirky and she makes a lot of mistakes but underneath it all, she's still easy to love. While I did find myself *facepalm*-ing throughout the book like I did in the first book, she's too hilarious to get mad at.

In this installation, Becky follows her dreamboat, Luke, to a bigger pond than London. She finds herself in the middle of NYC faced with all sorts of new stores to explore. She figures new country, new start and is determined to put off paying her bills waiting for her back in her home country. She spends with abandon and seems surprised when once again, it gets her into big trouble. On top of that, it gets her into much, much bigger trouble.

These books are a lot of fun. While I don't think that it's necessary for you to have read the first book in this series in order to enjoy the book, I think you could still definitely enjoy the books.

Bottom line: If you need a fun book to take on vacation or one to read while lounging at the pool, this would be a great choice.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Booking Through Thursday (9): Biographies

This week, Booking Through Thursday asks: There are so many crappy biographies … would you rather read a poorly-written biography of a fascinating life, OR an exquisitely well-written, wonderful read of one of a not-so-interesting life?

Books have to be well written for me to really get into them. I love off-beat biographies (biographies about people who aren't all that well known or otherwise). If a book is badly written, I'm not going to enjoy it nearly as much. I'd rather take my chances with a less well known person's biography if the writing will blow me away. I like to be moved.

What say you?

Liberation by Maria Lucia

Title: Liberation (Book One of the Andrusian Chronicles)
Author: Maria Lucia
Publisher: Andrusian Press
Publish Date: June 2, 2010
Source: Pump Up Your Book and the author (this did not affect my review of this book)

Why Are You Reading This Book?:

- You like the supernatural
- You appreciate good world building

What's the Story?:

From Pump Up Your Book: Amora Madre is content in the Smokey Mountains pursuing her teaching of love, things of  the spirit, and metaphysics. Her childhood invisible playmates, Casey and Nia, are always by her side. But when soul mate Gabriel Ephraim enters her life, she is drawn into the heart of a terrible encounter with the spirit world in the skies over Washington D.C. Catapulted into service for the Intergalactic Supernatural Intelligence Agency, ISIA, the kindred lovers soon discover the existence of an invisible wickedness over the city, its galactic origins, and its evil designs for national and world events.

As part of an Andrusian galactic strike force, assembled to dismantle the malevolent legion’s brutal matrix, Amora and Gabriel, seasoned and accomplished, embark on a dangerous adventure filled with Onaweyans, Scorpillians, historical figures, and a confrontation with the dark supernatural syndicate over the fate of the United States and the earth.

With journeys into galactic and dimensional worlds, interactions with fantastic characters and creatures, and revelation of the current struggle between the spiritual forces of good and evil, LIBERATION draws the reader into a world where the spiritual dimensions and reality converge."

My Two Cents:

Washington, DC has a lot of issues in the Capitol Building alone (if you're watching the debt talks like I am, you know what I mean!) Imagine if the capital city also had to contend with issues stemming from the supernatural as well as all! Amora and Gabriel, the two main characters in Liberation, are drawn to come to the Nation's Capital by a seemingly magical force. When they get there, they're asked to join the Intergalactic Supernatural Intelligence Agency (ISIA), a sort of CIA-esque covert government organization that deals solely with the supernatural. Something has manifested itself and is controlling not only the whole country but the world. Not only are living beings called to join ISIA in their fight, famous people from the reaches of history also have a place in ISIA. It was very cool to see some of our founders and leaders in that light.

One thing that I really loved in this book was the world-building. The first several pages were world-building alone really. At first, I was confused why the author was doing all of the world-building at once but it really helped once I got into the real meat of the story to understand how everything was put together. While the world-building continues throughout the book, the majority is definitely in the first couple pages. It was an interesting writing style but it definitely worked. There were a few historical events that seemed to sort of stick out and I found myself wondering what they added to the whole of the book.

Another thing that I liked about the book was the setting. I love my city and I'm a sucker for just about anything set in Washington, DC. This was probably the first fantasy book that I had read about my city. Usually it's just political thrillers (which I can get very tired of very quickly). All I know is that after I read this book, I'm definitely going to look at the National Archives building in a whole different way. This book was a refreshing take on the city that I love so dearly.

One thing to point out is that this book was marketed to me as a young-adult novel. I would say that I would probably put it into the adult section. It's not that there are particularly adult topics but the writing strikes me as more of an adult novel. The main characters in the book seem to be in their 30s and 40s and I'm not sure they would resonate with teens as much as they do with adults.

Bottom line, if you like a bit of sci-fi in your reading diet and enjoy good world-building, you'll enjoy this book.  

My Review:
3.5 out of 5 stars 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Author Guest Post: Maria Lucia

Maria Lucia is the author of Liberation (a book review that will be up on A Bookish Affair tomorrow). Liberation is an indie fantasy book about the supernatural side of my city of Washington, DC and you all should know how much I love reading about my city!!! Please help me

About the Author:

Maria is not affiliated with any one religion or spiritual way. Her mission is to empower the heart.

There have always been women throughout history who have held the heart of a country as their own, women whose hearts responded to the sound of service to their country and to their world. They held and still hold the courage to step forward and affect the destiny of a country. These women carry within themselves the passion of divine inspiration and, naturally, always strive to better the lives of others, their environment and their world.

Born in Havana, Cuba, and having immigrated to the United States in 1960, Maria possesses a true and in-depth understanding of the power and unlimited potential of evolving and beginning again.

A University of Memphis education graduate and a professional musician and vocalist, Maria moved deeply into the study of music and launched a very successful musical career in 1984. It included experiencing music on the performance level and the educational level as well. She began her studies of the deeper aspects of music immersed in the wisdom of Stephen Halpern and the integration of the healing effects of music and sound. She developed her voice simultaneously with her ability to teach others how to create and bring out their own voice and soul through music.

In 1994 she completed a nine year position with the world renowned Howard Hanger Jazz Fantasy and left her music career to focus entirely on developing her teachings. She spent many years in private practice, facilitating her own seminars and counseling on creativity. Her experience includes programs for gifted children in the public school system and creativity seminars for musicians at the university level. She has been a musical director for church programs, composer of music, and a producer of concerts. She has traveled nationally, performing and delivering seminars for more than twenty years.

In 1997, Maria launched her first school focused on spiritual heart studies in North Carolina and became a full time spiritual growth teacher. She developed both her school and a personal national dream, The Foundation for the Evolution of America there until she re-located to Washington, D.C. to make this dream a reality. The foundation was kept alive for five years and held the mission to augment, empower and reinstate value for the heart as well as to teach Americans how to value the heart in themselves, in others and how to value the heart of the nation. As well as a respected speaker, Maria Lucia is the author of
The Heart’s Unraveling and guidebook for her current school.

She presently resides in the Phoenix, Arizona area, and is working full time on her writings and on launching the new revised version of her novel,
LIBERATION, Book One of The Andrusian Chronicles. You can visit Maria Lucia at

Guest Post:

Where did you get your idea and inspiration for Liberation: Book One of the Andrusian Chronicles?

The story came together piece by piece each time I went to walk the downtown areas of Washington D.C. I love doing this. I love visiting the monuments and getting into the energies of the founders and the old Washington when things were quite different. That’s what stirred the idea inside of me. “What if the USA and our planet had an intelligence agency that specialized in the supernatural areas of protection? And what if the headquarters were right here in downtown D.C. but no one could see them? And what if there were evil spirits involved in an unbelievable derailing of world events and it all culminated in the 21st century? In our time and current world news” well, I was on fire and I started plotting out the story. I took many autobiographical events and weaved them into the idea expanding as I went along and I began doing historical research of our beginnings as a race, and a country. I love Washington for holding this amazing energy for us all, our beginnings, how democracy came about and what our founders went through to get the idea established. It had never been done. I incorporated all of things that I love, music, the paranormal, metaphysics, mystical and dimensional spaces and history and created a paranormal fantasy that just didn’t follow the traditional recipe.

Liberation Tag Words

Paranormal Romance,Fantasy/adventure,metaphysical Fiction, New Age Fiction, Spiritual Novel, best metaphysical fiction, books fiction spiritual, Inspirational Fiction Books, New Age, fantasy spiritual writer, Celestine Prophecy, Visionary Fiction, Richard Bach, Carlos Casteneda, Fantasy Adventure Books, Warren Goldie, science fiction, paranormal, ghost hunting, heart, worlds of love,

Fantasy adventure, science fiction,
metaphysical, paranormal, spiritual

My Question:

What's your favorite book about your own country, city, state, etc.?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz

Title: Blue Bloods
Author: Melissa De La Cruz
Publisher: Hyperion
Published Date: April 2006
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

- You want a fun vampire read rooted in a little bit of history

What's The Story?:

From "When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society.

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapated mansion. Schuyler is a loner...and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead... drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn't know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?"

My Two Cents: 

Okay, I know that I've personally been grumbling about the excess of books with teenaged vampires (full disclosure: I did like the Twilight series even though it was a little cheesy) but I really, really liked Blue Bloods. This book has a little more of a historical twist to it. It's based around the story of the colony in Roanoke, VA that just sort of disappeared. Settlers from the Plymouth settlement went down to bring medicine to the settlers in Roanoke only to find that the settlement was totally decimated. The only hint of what happened to the settlers was a word carved into a tree, Croatan. Exactly what happened to those settlers remains a mystery to this day. De La Cruz tries to answer the mystery in a supernatural way.

Place is always a big thing for me in books. New York City is one of my favorite cities and I really thought the author did a good job of capturing the flavor of the city. Hearing about all the gorgeous buildings and the dark corners really gave the book a sense of reality and life.

I don't want to give too much away about the book but I'm definitely excited to read the rest of this series.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Puffin
Published Date: May 2004
Source: Library

Why You Want to Read This:

- You like cute stories
- You're a fan of Sarah Dessen or YA books in general

What's the Story?:

Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She's stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she'll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father's recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother's open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.

My Two Cents:

This book is a pretty quick read. Macy is having trouble with figuring out the appropriate way to grieve for her father. She feels that if she shows too much feeling that her mom will break down so Macy hides herself in studying and trying to be perfect for her mother. Perfect doesn't solve anything.

I really felt for Macy. It's hard to know what the "right" way to grieve is when you lose a loved one. Each person has their own "right" way and it always seems to take awhile to figure out the way that works best for you. 

I loved Macy's job with the catering company. The catering company is anything but perfect. They're a group of rag-tag people that always seem to court disaster with whatever job they take on. They're hilarious and they teach Macy that it's okay not to be perfect all the time.

What I didn't like was Macy's boyfriend, Jason. He seemed incredibly stiff and not really like much of the teenagers that I know or knew. Wes, on the other hand, was well-written.

Bottom line: This is a great book for anyone who wants a light read with some good lessons.

My Two Cents:
4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Just Finished:

Now Reading:

Up Next:

What are you reading?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Harmony by Prince Charles

Title: Harmony
Author: Prince Charles
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published Date: April 13, 2010
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "For decades, the Prince of Wales has been studying a wide array of disciplines to understand every aspect of man's impact on the natural world, and in that time he has examined everything from architecture to organic farming to sustainable economics. Now, for the first time, he speaks out about his years of research, presenting a fascinating look at how modern industrialization has led us to a state of disharmony with nature, created climate change, and pushed us to the brink of disaster.
From the rice farms of India to the prairies of America's corn belt, from the temples of Ancient Egypt to the laboratories of industrial designers, Harmony spans the globe to identify the different ways that contemporary life has abandoned the hard-earned practices of our history, a shift that has spurred a host of social problems and accelerated climate change.

Drawing on cases from farming, healthcare, transportation, and design, the Prince of Wales also offers solutions for change, creating a new vision for our world, one that incorporates the traditional wisdom of our past with the modern science of our present to avert catastrophe. In the end, Harmony paints a holistic portrait of what we as a species have lost in the modern age, while outlining the steps we can take to regain the harmony of our ancestors."

My Two Cents:

This is a lofty book with lofty ideas. Are they all bad ideas? Definitely not. I think most of us can agree that on our current trajectory as earthlings with regard to how we treat the earth, we're going to be in trouble. We face a lot of issues: pollutions, limited resources, unplanned growth, etc. Prince Charles tries to tackle a lot of these issues in this book and while there are some very good sections (the architecture and urban design sections were particularly interesting to me), much of his argument seems to meander a bit too much to keep me hooked to this book.

There are some very interesting sections that are worth a read though. As I mentioned Prince Charles argues strongly for "smart growth," a subject that I care deeply about. "Smart growth" means planning growth in such a way that it is conducive for people to live in while ensuring that the growth makes sense environmentally. Prince Charles has worked a lot to create awareness for "smart growth" principles.

The other thing that I loved in this book are the photographs. They are absolutely gorgeous.

Bottom line: this book would have served well with a little more editing. There's some interesting information, you just have to be willing to look for it.

My Review:
2.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Gin and Chowder Club by Nan Rossiter

Title: The Gin and Chowder Club
Author: Nan Rossiter
Publisher: Kensington Books
Published Date: June 1st, 2011
Source: Received a copy as part of Unputdownables Early Reader Group

What's the Story?: 

From "Set against the beautiful backdrop of Cape Cod, The Gin & Chowder Club is an eloquent, tender story of friendship, longing, and the enduring power of love…The friendship between the Coleman and Shepherd families is as old and comfortable as the neighboring houses they occupy each summer on Cape Cod. Samuel and Sarah Coleman love those warm months by the water; the evenings spent on their porch, enjoying gin and tonics, good conversation and homemade clam chowder. Here they’ve watched their sons, Isaac and Asa, grow into fine young men, and watched, too, as Nate Shepherd, aching with grief at the loss of his first wife, finally found love again with the much younger Noelle.
But beyond the surface of these idyllic gatherings, the growing attraction between Noelle and handsome, college-bound Asa threatens to upend everything. In spite of her guilt and misgivings, Noelle is drawn into a reckless secret affair with far-reaching consequences. And over the course of one bittersweet, unforgettable summer, Asa will learn more than he ever expected about love-the joys and heartache it awakens in us, the lengths we’ll go to keep it, and the countless ways it can change our lives forever…"

My Two Cents:

Oh my, I started this book on my plane flight from DC to Denver, continued it through the airport in Denver, and then didn't put it down until I finished the book on the flight from Denver to Montana. What I'm trying to say is that I couldn't put it down. You have Asa, a young man just on his way to college, falling head over heels for Noelle, a close family friend that he's pretty much grown up around. It's definitely intriguing.

Asa seems a little confused. He knows he shouldn't pursue Noelle but he does. Noelle knows that she has to be the adult in this situation but she's inexplicably drawn to Asa and doesn't do anything to stop their torrid love affair. I don't know if it was just the young man/older woman scenario that made me make this connection but this book definitely has the same flavor as The Graduate. It's forbidden love and with Asa's family and Noelle and her husband being so close, both Asa and Noelle know they're playing with fire.

On one hand, I found myself getting kind of angry about Asa and Noelle not realizing what the potential consequences could be if they got caught. On the other hand, them getting closer to each other seems to have somewhat of an otherworldly pull that you can see how they get so tied up in each other.

Bottom line, this book will keep you reading until you figure everything out. Make sure you set aside a lot of time before sitting down to read this book.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Queen By Right by Anne Easter Smith

Title: Queen By Right
Author: Anne Easter Smith
Publisher: Touchstone
Published Date: May 3, 2011
Source: Received as part of a virtual book tour through Crazy Book Tours

What's the Story?:

From "In Cecily Neville, duchess of York and ancestor of every English monarch to the present day, she has found her most engrossing character yet.History remembers Cecily of York standing on the steps of the Market Cross at Ludlow, facing an attacking army while holding the hands of her two young sons. Queen by Right reveals how she came to step into her destiny, beginning with her marriage to Richard, duke of York, whom she meets when she is nine and he is thirteen. Raised together in her father’s household, they become a true love match and together face personal tragedies, pivotal events of history, and deadly political intrigue. All of England knows that Richard has a clear claim to the throne, and when King Henry VI becomes unfit to rule, Cecily must put aside her hopes and fears and help her husband decide what is right for their family and their country."

My Two Cents:

Cecily Neville definitely came before her time. There's nothing more she enjoyed than a good hunt. Even though her marriage is arranged to Richard Plantagenet, she and Richard find true love together. Their love is really amazing to watch grow and mature. As many readers and students of past royalty know, this is seems to be quite unusual. She's definitely a strong character and one that I rooted through throughout the book. I really loved her character.

Another interesting thing that I found was how Smith has Cecily meet the infamous Jeanne d'Arc, another historical figure that I'm very interested in. Although Smith admits that there is no documentation of them actually meeting other than that they happened to be in the same castle at the same time, it's interesting to see the meeting of a member of royalty (Cecily) and a peasant girl (Jeanne). I really enjoyed that part of the novel.

Cecily is a different kind of character than many in typical historical fiction novels. She's strong and she really has a hand in her own fate, a choice that so many heroines in this age did not have. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Cecily.

Bottom line: This book is perfect for those who wish to read a historical fiction where the damsel is not always in distress. 

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

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