Friday, December 28, 2012

Reading Resolutions for 2013

I've said it before and I'll say it again: 2012 has been a great year for reading and a great year for this blog but I want to change up a couple things so I figured that now would be the perfect time to make some reading resolutions for 2013.

  • Read more of my own books: Oh woe is the book blogger who gets all of these free, shiny books in exchange for a simple review. Man, I did not do so well on getting through my own books this year. I got way too over-zealous in reviewing solicited books. I am going to try to make a strong effort to read all of those lovely books that are already on my shelf.
  • Don't go challenge crazy: I am participating in two TBR challenges for the year. The first is the Historical Fiction challenge. The second is the Mount TBR challenge. That's it! I totally failed at the Mount TBR challenge this year so I'm hoping if I limit my focus that I will be able to actually meet my goal for that particular challenge
  • Read ahead: I'm going to really try to get ahead with my reading so I can write reviews faster and post them longer in advance, which may make me a little less stressed and nutty.
  • Change up my reading diet: Even though I'm an eclectic reader, I definitely have a heavy focus on fiction. I want to read more non-fiction in 2013 as well as more classics. Here's to being more well-rounded!
  • Literary Locale: I started this little weekly feature on my blog and then stopped. This needs to change. Literary Locale is coming back!
Do you have any bookish resolutions for 2013?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Least Favorite Books of 2012

Not all books can get 4 or 5 stars. Here is a list of books that did not make the A Bookish Affair cut and have the dubious honor of being my least favorite books of 2012.

What were some of your least favorite books this year?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Books of 2012

Guys, this was a really good year for me reading-wise. I read over 270 books, which blew my original goal of 200 books out of the water! And I read a lot of good books! Lots of them and the good books that I read were amazing. Here's a list (in no particular order) of the good books I read:

Links to my reviews of these books:
Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat
The Athena Affect by Derrolyn Anderson
Is that a Fish in Your Ear? by David Bellos
Island Apart by Steven Raichlen
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Dead Radiance by T.G. Ayer
Ninepins by Rosy Thornton
The entire Marina's Tales Series by Derrolyn Anderson (1) (2) (3) (4)
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Clinard Barnhill
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
The Dragon's Harp by Rachael Pruitt
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon
Written in Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt
Oleanna by Julie K. Rose
Chocolate Chocolate by Frances Park and Ginger Park
The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Come back tomorrow to see my list of my least favorite books!

What were some of your favorite books that you read this year?

Friday, December 21, 2012

99 Authors, 99 Books, 99 Cents

Guys, the weather is getting a little colder and now is a great time of year to sink into some good books. I wanted to let you all know about this special promotion going on today only: Friday, December 21! There are a ton of great books that will be only sale for a mere 99 cents. You can't beat that deal!

Check out the list of books for sale in the link below!

These prices are available on Amazon only.

For a listing of books offered and to enter to win, click here!!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: What Doncha Know? about Henry Miller by Twinka Thiebaud

Title: What Doncha Know? about Henry Miller
Author: Twinka Thiebaud
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Eio Books
Publish Date: January 24, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You're a memoir fan.
What's the Story?: 

From "Henry Miller was a larger-than-life all-American writer. His work was ground-breaking and breath-taking. But he could also talk. Until the day he died, he had what he called the “gift of the gab.” At his own table, laden with the food he loved and surrounded by famous writers, actors, painters, musicians and fans, Henry held forth on every topic imaginable. What he said was rollicking, open, honest, revealing of himself and the fabulous assortment of huge personalities he’d met in his long life, as well as ultimately showing a side of Henry few outside his circle ever saw. In this warm and charming memoir of her years under Miller’s Pacific Palisades roof, artist and model Twinka Thiebaud captures his table talk with an unerring ear…as well as penning her own intimate impressions of one of America’s greatest writers."

My Two Cents: 

While I have never read anything by Henry Miller, he is one of the most infamous American authors. Known for such works as the much discussed and debated "Tropic of Cancer," he is still remembered as one of the most larger than life American authors. The author of the book goes to live with Miller as a young woman and does a lot of work around the house for him. In the midst of doing all of the work, Ms. Thiebaud gains a lot of insight into what makes Miller tick.

The book is divided up into two sections. The first section is more personal to the author. It covers how she came to find herself in Miller's house. It also covers how she got to know him and many of her interactions with the author. It also covers many of her own observations of the author.

The second section is sort of a series of essays told from the point of view of Henry Miller. One thing that Ms. Thiebaud makes clear in the beginning of the book is that one of Miller's favorite pastimes was to talk anyone who would listen's ear off about a vast variety of subjects. It was interesting to see his perspective on so many different people and things.

Bottom line: Even if you are not a Henry Miller fan, this is still a great book for all those who love to read to enjoy.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Christened with Crosses by Eduard Kochergin

Title: Christened with Crosses
Author: Eduard Kochergin
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Glagoslav Publications
Publish Date: July 21, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You're a memoir fan.
  • You like survival stories.
What's the Story?:

From "While the mothers in Siberia wait for their soldier sons to return from the war in the west in 1945, the eight year old Eduard secretly jumps on board the trains heading in the opposite direction, heading west, towards Leningrad. Placed in a Siberian orphanage as a child because his parents were arrested as public enemies there is only one thing he wants: to go back home to Leningrad and to find his mother again. It is not only his desperate courage and his youthful agility that ensure his survival, it is also his artistic talent. With his agile fingers the boy is able to bend wire in the shape of profiles of Lenin and Stalin, as if in silhouette. He uses them to cheer up the invalid war veterans on the train stations returning from the front, who then give him a piece of bread, a bowl of soup and who, in a spirit of comradeship, warn him of the railway police and the secret service henchmen wanting to send the runaway back to the orphanage.

Eduard spends more than six years on the run, experiencing close encounters with post-war Russia where life and fate have become synonyms. He encounters other stowaways, professional beggars, soldiers returning from the war and wartime profiteers, the mothers of soldiers and war invalids, Chinese from the Ural, Cossacks dealing in hashish, Bashkir Estonians, Russian penal colony escapees and, time and again, orphanage directors. In order to survive the winter he often registered himself voluntarily in the next orphanage, each one always a little closer to the West, running away again before the servants of the Stalinist state are able to send him back to Siberia.

The memoirs of an old man who, as a boy, learnt to find his way between extortionate state control and marauding banditry, the two poles that characterise Russia to this day. A story about the awakening of artistic talent under highly unusual Russian circumstances."

My Two Cents:

I was very excited to read this book. I love books about survival stories and it's even better when they are non-fiction survival stories. "Christened with Crosses" is just the sort of survival story that I like. At a very young age, the main character is forced to make his way across Russia as a young child. There are probably not many people in the world who would have been able to make that same journey and thrive the way that he was able to thrive. It was truly amazing.

The story takes place during the 1940s, which if you know anything about the Soviet Union during that time, you know that it was not the kind of place you would like to be if you were on the wrong side of the government. By being a veritable orphan, the author is just that. He escapes in and out of different orphanages. Orphanages were not places you wanted to be in the Soviet Union. The author vividly describes some of the things that happened to him and those he knew and some of it was definitely hard to read.

Through this book, we get to learn a lot of the stories of different people in the Soviet Union. I think that because the author is Polish, he has an especially interesting story. He is in a country where at first, he really doesn't even know the language of the places where he is staying. Language, we know, is an integral part of being able to get along in the world. The author comes across so many different people from different walks of life. He tells not only his story but many of their stories too. Some are happy stories. Some are sad stories. Everyone has been affected by the new reality of the Soviet Union during the end of WWII.

Bottom line: this book is often hard to read because of the hardship but it is worth the read.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

G!ve@way W!nners!

Okay, I have several giveaway winners to announce!

Historical Fiction Holiday Blog Hop:

The Emperor's Conspiracy:

The Gilded Lily:

Review: Through These Veins by Anne Marie Ruff

Title: Through These Veins
Author: Anne Marie Ruff
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Open Door Press
Publish Date: June 20, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan
  • You're an armchair traveler
What's the Story?:

From "In the coffee-growing highlands of Ethiopia, an Italian scientist on a plant collecting expedition discovers a local medicine man dispensing an apparent cure for AIDS. As the medicine man’s teenage daughter reveals the plants behind the cure, their lives become irrevocably intertwined. Through These Veins weaves together the dramatically different worlds of traditional healing, U.S. government funded AIDS research, and the pharmaceutical industry in an intensely personal, fast-paced tale of scientific intrigue and love, with both devastating and hopeful effect.

All profits from the sale of this book will be distributed to the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders and the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation in Ethiopia."

My Two Cents:

"Through These Veins" asks the question about whether the medicine we rely on for some of the most harmful diseases in the world are the result of a scientific miracle or a sneaky business decision made by some suit on the basis of charts and a chance for profit. It's a very real question. I think we all want to believe that pharmaceutical companies have their heads in the right places when it comes to what medicines they come out with but those companies are just that, companies. While it would be nice if they were truly altruistic, they still need to make a profit so it's conceivable that if a drug would not turn a tidy profit, they may choose not to manufacture it or wait until the business aspect is better looking before they put it out. This book explores this topic, which was totally fascinating to me. I do wish that the book had touched on this dilemma a little bit more.

This is definitely a good book for those who like a lot of different settings. You get to see Ethiopia and Washington, DC for starters. My fellow armchair travelers will definitely enjoy this aspect. I don't get a chance to read about any African countries all that much so it was nice to read about a place like Ethiopia that was so new and different to me.

I really liked the characters in this book for the most part but Zahara was definitely my favorite. Zahara is the daughter of a medicine man in a remote village in the middle of Ethiopia's coffee highlands. She is incredibly smart and strong. Those characteristics are definitely on display as the book goes on. She goes through a lot throughout the book but she get through all of that showing so much courage.

Bottom line: A good read about miracle medicine.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry

Title: A Royal Pain
Author: Megan Mulry
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publish Date: November 1, 2012
Source: Owned

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a romance fan.
  • You're in the mood for a light read.
What's the Story?:

From "Bronte Talbott follows all of the exploits of the British royals. After all, they're the world's most preeminent dysfunctional family. And who is she to judge? Bronte's own search for love isn't going all that well, especially after her smooth-talking Texan boyfriend abruptly leaves her in the dust.

Bronte keeps a lookout for a rebound to help mend her broken heart, and when she meets Max Heyworth, she's certain he's the perfect transition man. But when she discovers he's a duke, she has to decide if she wants to stay with him for the long haul and deal with the opportunities-- and challenges-- of becoming a royal."

My Two Cents:

Oh! This was such a fun book! Sometimes you just want a light, fun read that you don't have to use too much brain power to read. This book was definitely brain candy for me. It's a smart romance with a loveable main character that was so much fun to read about. I absolutely loved Bronte. First off, what a cool name! Second, she is definitely someone that I think would be a lot of fun to hang out with. She's bright. She's funny. Oh, and she has an obsession with the British Royals, which if you've read my blog for any amount of time, you may realize that this is another area where we have a ton in common. Bronte is the kind of girl that I'd love to go out for coffee, tea, or a cocktail with in order to dish on our favorite royals.

I think every woman dreams of being swept off her feet by someone who makes you feel like royalty even if they don't come with a title. After dating Mr. Wrong, Bronte is ready to find Mr. Right, which she quickly thinks she finds in Max, who at first, seems to be a super normal guy with a lovely British accent. Bronte's Max comes with a title, unbeknownst to Bronte. I liked the romance in the book but I didn't always like Max. He seems charming at times but he also seemed sort of stuck in the old ways of royalty sometimes as well. He was really sort of a mixed bag for me.

This book is definitely heavy on the romance factor. It also has some pretty spicy scenes that may make gentler readers blush quite a bit so be warned.

Bottom line: this is a fun, modern day Cinderella story that would be a good choice to read when you are looking for a book to just relax with.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Found in Translation by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche

Title: Found in Translation
Author: Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Perigree Trade
Publish Date: October 2, 2012
Format: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You have a love for language.
What's the Story?:

From "Translation. It’s everywhere we look, but seldom seen—until now. Found in Translation reveals the surprising and complex ways that translation shapes the world. Covering everything from holy books to hurricane warnings and poetry to peace treaties, Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche offer language lovers and pop culture fans alike an insider’s view of the ways in which translation spreads culture, fuels the global economy, prevents wars, and stops the outbreak of disease. Examples include how translation plays a key role at Google, Facebook, NASA, the United Nations, the Olympics, and more."

My Two Cents:

To me, translation is absolutely fascinating. You take one idea in one language and turn it into something that someone else with a different language, a different culture, and perhaps a different life experience can fully understand and digest. In a way, it is sort of a real-life magic trick, which is a very cool way to think about it.

"Found in Translation" is really a book about the importance of translation in a place where we don't all share the same language, culture, or experiences. Translation is how we understand each other. The book is full of real life examples and anecdotes of why translation itself as well as the way one translates is so important. Some of the examples are sort of funny and some even made me actually laugh out loud.

This book thoroughly covers why translation is important but it does not really go further than that, which makes the book a little basic but still very enjoyable. I thought the book was fairly well written but I felt like the author could have done a little more to explain some of the foreign language in the book (for example, it's not easy for an English speaker with little knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet to look at a Russian word and really "get" what it is saying. All I can say is that I am happy that I know how to at least sound out words written in Russian).

Bottom line: This a good book for anyone who enjoys the art of language.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

HF Virtual Tours Stop and G!ve@way: The Raven's Heart by Jesse Blackadder

Title: The Raven's Heart
Author: Jesse Blackadder
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Bywater Books
Publish Date: September 11, 2012
Source: HF Virtual Book Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You like great characters.
What's the Story?:

From "Scotland, 1561, and a ship comes across the North Sea carrying home Mary, the young, charismatic Queen of Scots, returning after thirteen years in the French court to wrest back control of her throne.

The Blackadder family has long awaited for the Queen's return to bring them justice. Alison Blackadder, disguised as a boy from childhood to protect her from the murderous clan that stole their lands, must learn to be a lady-in-waiting to the Queen, building a web of dependence and reward.

Just as the Queen can trust nobody, Alison discovers lies, danger, and treachery at every turn.

This sweeping, imaginative, and original tale of political intrigue, misplaced loyalty, secret passion, and implacable revenge is based on real characters and events from the reign of Mary Queen of Scots."

My Two Cents:

"The Raven's Heart" is the story of Alison Blackadder, a fictional character who is supposed to be related to the real Blackadder family, who are ancestors of the author. Alison is a really good character. The entire book is told from her perspective. From a very early age, she is forced to dress as a boy and then a man in order to save her life from the Hume Family who are not big fans of the Blackadder family. The Hume family has taken the family castle and Alison hopes that she will be able to get her family's castle back through finding favor with Mary, Queen of Scots. Alison is a fascinating character as she is able to intrigue the queen by dressing as both a man and a woman and taking the Queen to taverns several times in disguise so that she may walk among her people. I wonder if Mary actually did that in real life? Anyhow, it was really fascinating to me.

I thought the author did a great job of bringing Mary to life. She is both intriguing and sort of scary at the same time. As the book goes on, she seems to get scarier and scarier with the way that she orders lives to be taken, including that of Alison's lover, Angi, almost simply to spite Alison. On the other hand, Mary seems to be able to put a spell over almost everyone that she meets, especially all of the nobles that are courting her favor. You really do get to see how her personality seemed to shift once she made it to Scotland from France. I am really beginning to enjoy reading about Mary, Queen of Scots.

I really enjoyed the writing in the book. It was nice that the book was written from Alison's point of view so that we have a front row seat to all of the action.

As a side note, I thought it was so interesting that the author chose to create a fictional ancestor to tell a story about. It really is fascinating.


Just fill out the form below to enter to win a copy of this book (open internationally)!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, December 3
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 4 
Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Wednesday, December 5
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Thursday, December 6 
Review & Giveaway at Griperang's Bookmarks

Friday, December 7
Review & Giveaway at Paperback Princess

Monday, December 10
Review at Book Journey
Review & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book! 

Wednesday, December 12
Review at Bonjour Cass
Review at The Worm Hole

Thursday, December 13
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Friday, December 14
Review at Book Dilettante

Monday, December 17
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Tuesday, December 18
Review at One Book at a Time
Review & Giveaway at Book of Secrets

Wednesday, December 19
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, December 20
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, December 21
Review at JulzReads
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Raging Bibliomania

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