Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Wrap Up

May was my first full month living in the DC metro area and what a month it was!

Books Reviewed:
The Catcher in the Rye is a classic which I had not read since High School but still loved turning from page to page. A definite trip down memory lane and yet a wonderful new experience through the reading eyes of an adult.

DK Eyewitness Travel: Washington, DC has been a great help to me as I've discovered new places in DC and used the metro map endlessly. Listen, if you're going to Washington, DC GET THIS BOOK.

The House on Blackstone Moor was my first stop on the Reading Addiction Blog Tour. Check out this book if you'd like creepy tales to be read during a thunderstorm!

Darkness Before Dawn is a brand new book from HarperCollins which I really enjoyed reading. Seriously. I flew through this book and am definitely getting the second one in the series once it's out.

Other Posts:
The Library of Congress - one of the first places I visited upon moving down to the metro area of Washington, DC. Check out my photos of this absolutely breathtaking building.

I've begun a full time temp job that is giving me a lot of experience. The summer heat has come to Virginia and Washington, DC with predictions that it will get to the triple digits sometime this summer. Unfortunately, I've been so busy that my reading has suffered and my blog will therefore suffer next month with less book reviews being published. I think, once I get used to my changing schedules, I'll be able to read more and have more reviews to put up but bear with me until then!

And last but not least; May was mind blowing in views from you all. I went above and beyond in page views and that is all thanks to you, my readers. So thank you so much!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Darkness Before Dawn

Many people tend to roll their eyes and sigh at the mention of YA vampire literature ever since Twilight took over a few years ago. In fact, it’s hard to talk about YA literature without mentioning the T word. However, recently the Hunger Games trilogy seemed to bump Twilight out of the limelight and give people (adults included) some faith in YA literature again.

I have always been a fan of vampire literature since I was a preteen and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a new, edgy teen show so while I avoid Twilight I still devour what vampire literature I can. When HarperCollins mailed me this book I was, at first, a little weary of what book this would be. Another issue with YA literature is that many can be hit or miss: the books may be good entertainment for young adults and even entertaining for those who’ve entered adulthood and then there are the YA books that are dreadfully written and seem to be only riding on the tailwind of some other YA book’s popularity.

Well, the initial storyline of Darkness Before Dawn does seem to do that. A vampire story that is in a dystopian society, much like The Hunger Games, the book definitely seemed intriguing and I felt it was either going to be really horrible or really enjoyable. Lucky for me, time was not wasted with reading this book. I just began a full time temp job that had me going into Washington, DC and was completely exhausted. Waking up some time before the sun even showed its face and not getting home until seven (well, for part of the week, the other half I wasn’t getting home until ten) and my exhaustion was keeping me from reading.  However, I still squeezed in time here and there, taking long lunches and reading out in the sunshine while I munched on my sandwich and finished the book quickly.

Simply put: the book is entertaining. There is so much going on it, so many possible bad guys, so many twists and turns that every chapter holds something new and exciting. Dawn Montgomery, a seventeen year old who is forced to become the city’s delegate when her parents are killed, is just stepping into her role at the beginning of the book. With a wonderful boyfriend, a best friend, and a pretty cool mentor and guardian, Dawn has an interesting slew of side characters and many more are introduced through out the book, including the local Lord of the vampires son and mysterious other people who come and go through the story.

Many times when I was reading the book I was expecting the one major plot that I was reading to be the main plot. That it would be solved and the book would be over, however, there were many plot points introduced and many solutions to be discovered through out its pages.  Even the moments where Dawn had "down time" or, rather, normal teenage life I still felt that it was moving quickly along and I was eager to find out what was happening. Never did I feel that the book had become slow paced or did I wish it would get a move on. 

As I mentioned, I was weary when I saw it was a book that seemed very dystopian and filled with vampires, but the plot worked wonderfully. Just think of it: vampires are discovered to be real, people obsess and study them, and then the vampires gain enough power to produce a war. I feel that if vampires were real and they did come into the light, so to speak, that we as a society would react just in that way. First, excitement, then curiosity, and if vampires are the blood thirsty creatures myths make them out to be I can only imagine they would take their opportunity to take over. 

Dawn's world is after the war where humans are clustered into only a handful of major cities that are surrounded by tall walls while the vampires are supposed to be locked out. The humans have made a deal with the vampires that they will provide blood donations and receive protection from the area Lord vampire in return. Dawn, as a delegate, gets to deal with that Lord who is really very unlikable. I was so into the book that when I reached the end of it, I was disappointed. They left me hanging and really craving more. Luckily enough, there is a second book that will be published which I most definitely intend on reading. 

This book just came out this week and is certainly a great book for summer reading. Quick, entertaining, and filled with dark scary things that go bump in the night. So why not read it on a bright, sunny, safe beach? 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - May 29th

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Every human lies the same way, and always for the same reason. They lie out of fear of what will happen if the truth is discovered." 
Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London

Friday, May 25, 2012

Blog Hop: May 25th

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop

This Weeks Question:
Blogging Question: How do you handle the writing of a negative review?

My Answer:
Ugh, honestly? I try to stay away from them as much as I can which is something I am trying to change. I feel horribly guilty when I really dislike a book and unless it has left me really feeling exhausted and angry I tend to try and be generic with my review. State what happened and that be it. However, if an author were to come across their less than positive review it could be beneficial in the long run. The author could potentially see what it is that I, the reader, disliked and maybe it will help them with their writing in the future. So... as of right now I try to avoid being too negative but I would like to be more honest about what I do not like specifically with certain books in the future.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - May 24th

Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks question is: 
Do you have any pet that has a name inspired by your readings? If not, what would you pick if you DID? Do any of your friends have book-based names for their pets? (Or their children?)

My Answer:
I'd love to get a cat named Darcy. But otherwise, every pet I've ever had was named prior to our claiming them as their owners. I had numerous fish named after different characters from The Lord of the Rings (I went through two fellowships, sorry, fish!). I know a lot of people who would like to name their future pets after book characters but for now I only have an assortment of friends who named their pets after people. I would, however, (and intend to) name my non-existent-children after book characters. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reading Addiction Blog Tour: The House on Blackstone Moor

“They say my father was mad, so corrupted by evil and tainted by sin that he did what he did. I came home to find them all dead; their throats savagely cut. My sisters only five and eight were gone as well as my brother who was twelve. My mother too lay butchered in her marriage bed. The bed her children were born in…”

Young Rose Baines discovers the savage murders of her family by her mad, incestuous father.
She is plunged into a nightmare of hell and is incarcerated in two madhouses after which she is helped to obtain a position as governess at Blackstone House.
The house is located on haunted moorland. Nothing is as it seems for Blackstone House and its inhabitants have hideous secrets. There is unimaginable horror there but there is love too--love that comes at a terrible price.
The story is as haunting as it is terrifying and will remain with the reader long after its disturbing tale has been told.
As my first Reading Addiction Blog Tour book I was really excited to begin reading The House on Blackstone Moor by Carole Gill. The synopsis sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? I found the book to be a fast read and easy to get through. Many times I was left from chapter to chapter completely unsure of what was going to happen next.

Now, I’ve never been to the UK but I love English (Scottish, Welsh, etc) accents. Sometimes while I read a book where the characters are meant to be from England I can’t hear the accent as I read the book. This novel, however, obtained that. The dialogue is fantastic. As I read about Rose and what she was going through, the story she was telling, I could clearly hear her voice (and accent) in my mind.

The very beginning of the novel was surprising and I had no idea where the book would go next. It was graphic and shocking to have a character, right at the start of the book, walk in to find her entire family dead. As mentioned in the synopsis Rose is brought to an insane asylum, which is an experience in itself. Each character that enters a scene I was unsure if I could trust or not. Whether Rose’s fragile mental state was influencing how others appeared around her or if they truly were untrustworthy. For some, my instincts proved to be accurate. For others, I was wrong. Either way I was always left wondering what would happen next rather than figuring it out; I hate when I can figure out what is going to happen to a book before it happens so this received double thumbs up from me.

But what was most surprising was that the book was not just consisting of the darkness around Rose from her family’s death or the asylum but the darkness formed in the very pits of hell. Fallen angels, demons, Satan and all forms of creatures of the dark come and go from this book leaving their influence casted over all.

My greatest issue with the book was the lack of proofreading or editorial adjustments. The story itself was interesting but there were many grammatical mistakes. A lack of punctuation was sprinkled through out the book along with spacing issues. With some fine-tuning I feel this book could be all the more stronger. A little more description of the surroundings and characters would be helpful for the reader to see the characters a little more clearly.

Otherwise, I am pleased to say that there are more books pertaining to this series. A deeper look into the romantic interest of Rose followed this book in the 2011 publication: I Vampire, a character whom I get the feeling I only know the surface of from Blackstone Moor.

If you have an interest in gothic romanticism; love, loss, darkness, heaven and hell, then please check out The House on Blackstone Moor.

Interested in reading this book? Purchase it from Amazon:
Amazon U.S.
Amazon U.K.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising*

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blog Hop: May 18th

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop

This Weeks Question:
How many books do you own? This can include books in your to-be-read (TBR) pile(s) and books you have already read that are on your keeper shelf.

My Answer:
I spent a day going through every book I owned and logging them onto my goodread's account (feel free to add me!). At the time I made a shelf for all of the books that I own and according to that list I have 463 books. Wow. And this is after I went and sold a ton of books before I moved! What might be better (or worse?) is that the majority of those books I have yet to read! But I'm working on it, not buying any books until I've made my way through what I have. Since moving I had to leave a lot of my books in Pennsylvania but I have a stack of books down here that I would like to read before I shop for books again (also, I need a job so I can shop for books, so that's factored in as well!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - May 17th

Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks question is:
If you had to choose to live within a novel, which would it be?

My Answer:
There is a "chat" going around on tumblr that pretty much sums up my answer,

  • me: *just finished reading Harry Potter*
  • me: *just finished reading Lord of the Rings*
  • me: I want to have an adventure in Middle Earth
  • me: *just finished The Lightning Thief*
  • me: I wish I was a demigod.
  • me: *just finished The Hunger Games*
  • me: I'm good.

Yup. That's pretty much how I feel. I would love to live in a number of novels, despite the bad stuff that may have happened in the storyline. Just about every book I read, and like, do I feel this desire... except for The Hunger Games. I loved The Hunger Games, don't get me wrong! But I know if I was chosen for the games I would be the first to die. Also, I already lived in a place way too similar to District 12 and would rather not have that experience again!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DK Eyewitness Travel: Washington DC

I've been in the Washington DC area for almost a month. I'm lucky to have experience with the area from many visits so I feel that has made the transition a lot smoother. I more or less packed my bags and left my home in the country with hopes to find a job.

But despite having visited the area before, I still wasn't so accustomed to it to man it myself. I'm still a newbie, still a tourist, still unsure of where I'm going. I picked up DK's Eyewitness Travel Washington, DC book prior to moving and read through it.

Well, it certainly gave a lot of helpful tips and information. A lot of information. To the point where I grew a little nervous. "How am I ever going to find anything in DC?"

This book had everything, from what I could tell. There were details about each section of DC and all the maps you could wish for. I didn't want to look like a complete tourist, though, so when I went to adventure into DC I took the pull out map that came with the book and went on my merry way.

Well, I certainly knew of some more random things thanks to the book - such as different museums I wanted to go to. I also regretted, while walking around and searching for a place to grab lunch, not having the book with me because it had a listing of restaurants that you could go to.

One thing that became extremely helpful was the map. I was determined to figure stuff out on my own and only use the map if I was really desperate but when I was facing another long walk from one building to the next and suffering from achey feet, I decided to use the map to find the closest metro station - which I did!

I was able to board the metro and get to my destination without wandering around looking for the metro on my own. The map is also laminated so you can't bend it or destroy it with spills.

Really, this book helped a ton and I am going to refer to it in the future to see what other museums I can visit but also what type of fooderies there are that I should check out. It helps that there are people in this area who know the District and can tell me where to go but this book, for someone who may not have a clue or never visited the District before, could really be very helpful! I'd suggest it to anyone with intentions of traveling to Washington, DC.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Musing Mondays - May 14th

Hosted by Should Be Reading, this week's musing asks...

Do you tend to read to the end of a chapter or can you stop anywhere?

My Answer:

It really depends on the book. If I am completely enraptured by it and need to get to bed, I'll find myself struggling to put the book down. So I make myself deals "One more chapter but at the end of that chapter, I have to go to sleep." Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. Otherwise, I can stop in the middle of the chapter, at the end of a paragraph. I don't struggle to find my place or forget what was happening!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Blog Hop: May 11th

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop

This Weeks Question:
Who is your favorite book character? I’ll give you a maximum of two choices, but they have to be from different genres!

My Answer:
Lucrezia Borgia from The Family by Mario Puzo is a sweet yet dangerous female character. I love the historical figure and the way Lucrezia is portrayed in the television show The Borgias but I loved every scene that Lucrezia was in when I read this book. With the show being back on my love has been renewed. But in all honesty, I have numerous favorite book characters and it took me far too long to pick Lucrezia let alone try and narrow it down to a maximum of two. I could go on for days about my favorite characters but Lucrezia was at the front of my mind due to my excitement for the show!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - May 10th

Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks question is: 
Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert?

My Answer:

I think I'm a blend of the two, to be honest. I know some people who are very obvious extroverts and others who are (almost painfully) introverted. Text book cases of both things and I know I am not such an extreme of either. As a child I was most certainly more introverted than anything but as I've gotten older I've gotten more comfortable with being around others, talking in public, having multiple friends, going out and doing things. 
Currently I'm jobless. I've moved to a new area and all I do, Monday-Friday, is sit alone in my flat applying to jobs. The only contact I have is with friends over the Internet and my roommate at night. After little over a week of doing this I was becoming anxious. I needed to get out, I needed to be around people. All I wanted was to be in a shopping center or a museum walking around where other people were. That was all I needed. Did I need to talk to these people? No. I wanted to be alone but I just wanted to see other life moving about. 
With friends, I enjoy going out and spending time with them. I love my friends so very much but I always reach a point, a few hours into the outing, where I just want to go home and go into my room. I've had my fill of interaction and I'm set to be home. 
I cannot grasp how extroverts and introverts go about their lives, either. How extroverts are find with a busy schedule, constant phone calls, running around and always being around other people. I don't understand how they can live like that, although I try, without getting exhausted or freaking out on the people around them and demanding alone time. I also don't understand how some introverts can be content to go days without speaking to any of their friends or getting online, answering emails, whichever. I feel it sounds too lonely.
So to really answer the question, I think I am an introvert with extroverted tendencies. I have the best of both worlds. I can handle being around people and doing all those extroverted things - but only for a certain amount of time. I also am more than happy to spend time by myself. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Library of Congress

On the first Tuesday after my move I had the opportunity to go into DC and witness the Space Shuttle Discovery make its final flight.


While there I decided I wanted to play tourist. My first stop: The Library of Congress. Despite having visited DC numerous times I have never visited this building and had excitedly been waiting for this day for weeks. Boy was I blown away.

The Library of Congress, outlook from its steps of the Capitol Building, and a statue at the foot of the steps.

I generally enjoy art and architecture. I know next to nothing about buildings and structures but I appreciate when things are made to look nice. I appreciate arches, I appreciate details, and I was completely marveled by what I was greeted with upon walking into the Library of Congress.

Follow the cut for more photos, because I simply can't explain the grandeur, I'll leave it to the pictures to do all the talking.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - May 8th

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"His lips, bloodless and cold, whisper in my ear: Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine...
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Monday, May 7, 2012

Musing Mondays - May 7th

Hosted by Should Be Reading, this week's musing asks...
If you were going to write a book, what would you write about? Would it be fiction, or nonfiction?

My Answer:
Fiction all the way. Not that I dislike nonfiction as something to read but when I write I get too creative. I go wild with random ideas and I love to build characters that don't exist. I can't really do that with nonfiction. So, while I adore reading nonfiction books (history and books about food culture!) I'll leave that to other writers and keep rambling on with my worlds and creations.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Blog Hop: May 5th

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop

This Weeks Question:
What are the next five books in your TBR (to-be-read) pile? And, don’t worry, you can change your mind and read something different – we won’t check!

My Answer:
I'm going to count the two books I'm currently reading here: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly and A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I've been working on GoT for about a month now, it's a really long book, and have been taking breaks here and there to try and read something else so that I can continue updating on here. City of Bones of the Mortal Instruments series is something I've been meaning to read. The Battle of the Labyrinth from the Percy Jackson series is another book I've been meaning to read and last but not least is Sarah Morgan: The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman because I am a total geek for Civil War stuff. Of course, I have a few hundred other books on my to-be-read pile so this can and probably will change!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - May 3rd

Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks question is:
Do you have siblings? Do they like to read?

I am an only child. Something I absolutely hated as a child; I always wanted a big brother and a little sister. Of course, both of my parents come from large families so I had a slew of cousins, some of which I considered the closest things to "siblings." I even had a best friend, since we were four, who is like a sister to me. So to answer the second question I will answer it based on the people in my life who are like siblings. 

My cousins whom I am closest two all like to read. They were always interested in classic literature when we were growing up while I was more into the mainstream books that were out. When I hit my teenage years I began to spend more time with these cousins and their books. Hearing them talk about the magic held within these books piqued my own interest and I began to read them. They helped bring me into the world of classic literature without even knowing it. Beforehand I despised all classic literature because I saw them as school assignments but not anymore. My best friend, however, isn't a big reader. I can't honestly recall the last time we discussed a book other than in high school. But that's fine, she has her interests and I have mine! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Catcher in the Rye

Like most High School students I was assigned various books to read through out the school year (and sometimes during winter or summer vacation). I dreaded it. I would sit the books on my nightstand and look at them with distrust as if they were going to spring to life and bite me. I hated every book we were forced into reading and it was a rarity when I actually enjoyed a book that was assigned to us.

The Catcher in the Rye was one of those books. I couldn’t tell you the exact year I had to read it in High School nor what my teacher had said about the book. I don’t particularly remember the lessons given or any of that (important) stuff. What I remember is reading the book and actually enjoying it. I went so far as to going out and buying my own copy, which was completely unheard of for me during High School. I was very stubborn and only stuck to one type of genre (supernatural, naturally) and nothing else. To buy a classic, let alone a book that had been a required reading from school, was unbelievable.

But buy the book I did and it has gone with me from High School to college to my years of being an “adult.” Finally, with my move ever present in my mind (can you tell this entry was written a few weeks ago?) I wanted to reread the book. I had every intention of reading the book but a week before I was to move I realized I still hadn’t read it. Not wanting to add even more books to my moving supplies, I grabbed it off the shelf and dove in.

All I can remember from High School is that I loved the book because it seemed so real. How did this guy from the 1950’s write a book that seemed so accurate for a kid today? In my mind the 1950’s were very classy and proper and teenagers from that day and age were nothing like teenagers of the 2000’s (I’m aging myself, I know). They didn’t curse, they didn’t talk about sex, they didn’t understand what we were going through in the present. But when I read Catcher I was taken back; Holden Caulfield cursed and talked about sex, he got drunk and he just left his school! This kid was rebellious and breaking rules and I got to read this book for school? Awesome!

Reading it now, about ten years later, I can see the appeal to a teenager and I certainly understand a little more of what’s going on in the book’s pages.

Holden Caulfield is an awkwardly tall sixteen year old with half a head of gray hair who is telling his story (the entire book is in his voice as running dialogue of the mind) from, what it seems, to be a mental institution or hospital after the events that take place in his story. He recounts a few days before Christmas and when he became “sick” with a series of rambling peeks into his mental state as he talks about various subjects, hoping from one topic to the next – whether he is discussing his opinion of people (particularly phonies) or being nostalgic.

After flunking out of his boarding school he decides to leave the school before Christmas break, taking a train to New York, and seems to have no clear direction or plan of what he’s doing next. He hops from one idea to the other and has a series of misadventures along the way.

It seems clear now that Holden is suffering from depression or something similar to it. He apparently has been failing out of different schools, one after another, and seems to have little control of his life.

He curses up a storm, discusses the sexual activities of classmates, and even has a brush in with a prostitute. He drinks underage, smokes up a storm, and generally does all of those things you aren’t supposed to do as a teenager. No wonder it appealed to me when I was a teen. This kid was doing it all!

One character I remember fondly is Phoebe, Holden’s little sister, and even rereading the book now I loved her character all over again and it’s obvious that Holden adores his little sister. For a character that seems so jaded about the world it was refreshing to see how he reacted to his little sister (not to mention how he acted to his brother, Allie, who died three years prior).

The book, although published in 1951, is still prominent today and loved by many. Some believe that Catcher is a passing phase, a book that is doomed to disappear because the educators who list it on their class reading lists are reaching retirement age. But I feel that this is unlikely, considering how many students are still being introduced to it today. There seems to be a clear line between those who love or hate the book. Those who love it seem to love it passionately and carry it with them as they age, those readers will be the ones who continue to give the book a known status. There has also been numerous controversies involving the book but I’ll get into that in September with my Semi-Annual Banned Books Week posts. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - May 1st

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
"Never forget who you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength."
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin