Monday, April 30, 2012

April 2012 Wrap Up

April showers bring May flowers although in the North East the May flowers began to arrive all the way back in March! This month had its super warm days and really chilly ones!

Books Reviewed:
Neverwhere, which took the spot as my favorite Neil Gaiman book, was a wonderful read that left me breathless and wishing for more. It was certainly my favorite book that I read during the month.

Juliet was somewhat of a let down. I had expected to enjoy it more but found that it only truly caught my interest towards the end of the novel. Not because it was "finally ending" necessarily, although at times it felt that way, but because the beginning was so drawn out and slow.

The Gardener was a brightly colored children's book that's perfect for this springtime weather and should be on the bookshelf of any little gardener you may have.

Make Way for Ducklings is a classic that is once more perfect for spring with the arrival of ducklings everywhere.

PS, I Love You was not quite as upsetting as the movie (in my honest opinion, I know others disagree) but it was still rather heart wrenching and had me riding along with the main character on her rollercoaster ride of emotions.

College Girl certainly was the most unenjoyable book I read for the month. I only pushed through it because I wanted to be able to give a review that appropriately ripped into it. Yes, I really disliked it that much. 

Other Posts:
A Guest Review by Ash of Through Her Ribcage for the book Fallen.

As mentioned in my Ch-ch-changes post - I moved! I now live in the Washington, DC metro area. I'm trying to get some grounding under my feet, adjust as quickly as I can, and find a job. Hopefully I'll be working somewhere doing something in no time. Any fingers crossed and positive vibes sent my way would be greatly appreciated! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

College Girl

I received an ARC of this book a couple of years ago. I was intrigued by the book, having just graduated from college myself and missing it endlessly, and was happy to sit it on my to-read pile. But, if you've looked at my bookshelves lately, you'll see that I have a lot of to-reads. So, it should come as no surprise that it's taken me three or so years before I got around to reading the book. 

With moving, I only had my to-read books with me so I had a pretty strict selection. When I grabbed this book from the box I thought, "This will be a quick read" and I looked forward to finally reading the book about a girl in college, hitting a snag, and all of her experiences that lead her down that road to hitting bottom and how she struggled to get upright again. I thought it would be inspiring or maybe something I could relate to, if only a little.

Oh boy, was I wrong. 

What a waste of a week. I am so sorry, this is so brutal but it's true. Seeing that it was the author's first book I had an added hope to enjoy the book because I like supporting the first book of authors. I mean, you write this book, this is your baby, your creation, then you set it out into the world to ultimately be judged. So it must be hard, no one wants to hear that something they put time and effort into is disliked, but I would be lying if I said I enjoyed this book.

So here is the deal: Natalie Bloom is an introverted straight-A's student from a middle class family who is extremely judgmental and filled with self loathing. The book doesn't have an extreme amount of vocalized dialogue, it mainly takes place in Natalie's head, so it's a near constant diatribe of panic over grades, disgust over her body and the concept of sex, and judgment of what other girls are wearing, saying, or doing. The description of the book says she's ambitious but I beg to differ. She wants straight A's but she doesn't have any direction in her life, no clue what she wants to do, where she wants to go, who she wants to be.

Her judgements made about other women really bothered me and when judging anyone, it typically was always women. When a character was introduced it was specifically about how pretty or ugly the girl was. Whether or not she was easy and how the girl perceived herself in Natalie's eyes. Often times women will ask, why do women hate women? Why are there so many cat fights? Why do girls judge other girls so much? This character is all of that. She seemed to look at someone and make a quick judgement and even by the end of the book when she had "changed" she was still doing it.

That's just the side-story of this book, how Natalie interacts with other women, but the main part of the book was Natalie's involvement with the first guy in her life. The girl meets this guy and she kind of stumbles along, not sure how to act with a guy who seems genuinely interested in her, which I can almost understand and sympathize with. She goes on her first date with the guy, smokes pot, and then it seems to trigger a dramatic switch in her personality. Just one date, just going out for dinner, and the character is suddenly a smoker and rebellious and flunking her classes. After one date? Really? I'm sorry, but there wasn't enough support in the plot for that to even seem believable. Every time this male character came into the text I groaned audibly and pushed myself through each page until Natalie inevitably freaked out and ran off. 

If there was anything the author did extremely well with this book, it was writing a disgustingly skeevy character with this guy. The way he handled the girl, commanded her and really handling everything with the least amount of care for her, disgusted me. She's used by the character and  feels horrible, destroyed, oh the woe and self pity, but the very next sentence was how much she loved him. Really? Now I understand that at times you'll have a character in a situation where they're stuck. It's abusive and they've been in it so long that they don't even know how to get out. But you build upon that, you give it substance and support so that it appears believable. Again, this was rushed. She is always disgusted with what she's done with men but immediately justifies it as being okay and she's thankful that she was forced to do what she did almost as if, in her mind, her 'no's mean 'yes's. What a horrible message to make. It all happened during the course of three months and while yes, someone could very possibly fall in love in three months or end up in an abusive relationship during that time, it needs to be shown and described and believable. This book was not any of that. Towards the end of the book Natalie talks about her first legit boyfriend and how wonderful and sweet he is, yet he forces himself on her just as the skeevy guy did. So, why is there a difference? If you say "no" to a guy you aren't dating he is forcing himself on you, raping you; but if you say "no" to your boyfriend and he forces himself on you it's totally okay? I'm pretty sure it isn't.

At some points I would lean back from the book and mutter, "Really?" when it would suddenly turn from just annoying, obnoxious and not believable to straight up unbelievable. As if I was stepping out of a published book that had surpassed other books by authors who hoped to be published and straight into a badly done fic written and posted somewhere online. 

So after that one faithful dinner with some guy, Natalie Bloom suddenly becomes the "loser" she was always trying to avoid. She changes, becomes someone she doesn't know, but all in the course of three months before she gets over it (for the main part) and moves on to return to the type of person she used to be who wasn't all that great to begin with.

One day I sat down and forced myself to finish the book. I couldn't wait for it to be done. My poor friends probably couldn't wait for me to be finished with it either because all I did was complain about it, "I don't want to put it down because I already waisted days reading the first 100 pages. I'm going to write a review about this but I need to read it first." Read it I did and much rejoicing was had when I finished the book. I felt that there was really no strong, uplifting point. There weren't any fantastic characters (other than the dog and maybe Natalie's mother, both of which aren't around for very long). Even after I closed it and sat down to write this review, I couldn't do it, because I had so many emotions (all within the category of dislike) that I was struggling to put my dislike to words. I figured that this book would make me think of college: my good choices and my bad choices and I would come out of it feeling refreshed. But instead, I came out of it wondering about the opinions of the author and her view on women. This book will be tossed aside and I have no intention of reading it again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guest Review: Fallen

With moving I have been separated from many of my books and scrambling to manage my time so that I can read and write reviews. My good friend was kind enough to write me a lovely review to help fill my blog queue. Our guest reviewer, Ash, is the author of the horror genre blog Through Her Ribcage where you can get anything from reviews on books, movies, tv shows to short films! See below for her review of Lauren Kate's book Fallen and check out her blog!

So, Twilight. The dawn of the Twilight trilogy saw a huge burst in the YA market, with dozens of knock-offs spanning a variety of supernatural creatures mooning after teenage girls, and it seems like the flow has yet to be stemmed. Fallen falls (aha) right into this category neatly, though I do have to say with a better writing style than that of Twilight, though everything is still colored by the dramatic and sometimes overbearing tones of a teenager. Instead of vampires, we have angels, and in the background is the potential for a war between heaven and hell - interesting premise, right? Unfortunately, that much more thought provoking storyline is left until the last dregs of the book, instead focusing on what young adults really want: a girl pining after the guy she can't have.

Lucinda Price (known simply as Luce, Latin for "light") ends up at Sword and Cross, a reform school, after being accused of starting a fire that ended in her boyfriend's death, and she can't quite believe that this is where her life has taken her. Up until that moment, she's been a good student, a good daughter, and a good friend; so she sticks out like a sore thumb among the social rejects, but they accept her without too much fuss regardless. The first is Arriane, an energetic girl, who seems like a handful, as well as Penn, who attends the school because her father was the groundskeeper, and a handful of others who fit into various shades and stripes; plus they all seem to know something that Luce doesn't, though none are telling. But two others are what draw Luce's attention: the outgoing and friendly Cam, and the mysterious and withdrawn Daniel. Luce finds herself evermore drawn to Daniel, but the boy is rude to her, obviously wanting nothing to do with her. Luce finds Cam's attention much easier, but it's difficult to get her mind past Daniel. Of course, Daniel has a damned good reason for not wanting to be around much less near Luce, but the girl isn't having any of it and continues to pursue him for answers.

But you said something about angels and heaven and hell and war??? You're right! But this doesn't really come into play until the last chapters of the book. Eventually it's revealed that Daniel is a fallen angel, and Luce is his born again lover; but every time they find one another again, Luce is killed in some inexplicable, horrible fashion by these shadows that follow her around everywhere. In fact, the shadows were responsible for her previous boyfriend's death. But how do you explain shadows to adults?! Cam, likewise, has an alter ego as an angel as well, but he's less of the friendly sort. Both he and Daniel are fallen angels, but Daniel still aligns himself with heaven while Cam made friends with a less savory sort down below. And somehow, Luce fits into the picture as being the key to winning the war between heaven and hell. Once we get into this interesting bit, the book ends, of course - but Luce and Daniel have accepted their love for one another, even as Luce boards a plane Casablanca style in order to be taken somewhere safe after the school is ripped apart by a battle for Luce's soul.

Overall, this book is great for the crowd it's aimed at. It's got hot guys, it's got teenage problems that really don't mean much in the greater scheme of things but when you're that age they make the whole world seem about to end, it's got star crossed romance, and even near the end it's got a few absolutely great action scenes where the boys duke it out for their lady. It's well written, much better so than many other novels of this genre, which certainly makes it an admirable piece for young adults to be reading. The cover art ain't bad either, which is honestly what hooked me into purchasing the book to begin with (don't you judge me! I like a good piece of art when I see it! Even if it is a stereotypical goth chick being emo!). It's also now apparently a series, though I'm wavering on continuing through it since romance isn't really my shtick. Maybe you should check this book out and decide for yourself if you like it enough to continue, yeah? 

-Written by Ash, author and maintainer of Through Her Ribcage

Monday, April 23, 2012

Musing Mondays - April 23rd

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

Other than working at a job, what is your biggest interruption to reading? What takes you away from your book(s)?

Daily life tends to get in the way. Currently I am job hunting and I consider that my new full time job. After nine in the morning I go through job listing after job listing. I work on my resume and cover letter(s) and send them out with my fingers and toes crossed. Meanwhile, the book I'm reading is sitting nearby, looking at me pitifully and begging to be read. Really, applying to jobs isn't the most pleasant experience. It's stressful (for me, at least) and I tend to worry endlessly over the impression I'm making. So why wouldn't a book which I'm enjoying serve as a temptation? Aside from that, when I am not doing job applications I may be outside bike riding or running, cleaning the place I am now living, working on this blog, or doing private writing with a friend. I'm trying to secure an hour each day where all I do is read - preferably an hour that doesn't involve me going to bed because I tend to lay down and give up the opportunity to read so that I can sleep. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

PS, I Love You

I bought this book ages ago, literally, it's been a few years that this book has been sitting on my bookshelf. With preparing to move I had to make a decision: what books was I willing to leave behind and what books did I want to take with me. I'm a book hoarder (this goes for my Kindle as well). I buy more books than I read and they all end up sitting on my bookshelves collecting dust until I get around to reading them. I've been trying very hard not to purchase anymore books because I have so many that have yet to be read. Plus, it's just a way to save money. Why purchase more books when I already have shelves of books I have yet to read? So as I packed up my books I specifically tried to gather only the books I have yet to read. Into the boxes they went and there they sat.

Honestly, packing my books was the saddest part of the whole packing experience.

So with the weeks leading up to my move I made my way through one book after another until I ran out of the books I had sitting aside and had to dig into the boxes I packed. I picked one box, that was the deal, I could only read a book from that one box. After looking through my options I found the copy of PS, I Love You that I picked up back when I was a book seller. Often I have grabbed this book, looked at it, and thought, "I really need to read this." Then I would place the book back on the shelf and move onto something else. I'm indecisive like that, what can I say? But finally, I grabbed the book out of my box and started to read it.

It's a heavy topic, the mourning of a wife for her husband who died far too young, and I think you need to realize that as you go into the book. It has its funny moments, points where you chuckle and embarrassing actions are almost too painfully close to real life, but they're all filtered through the heartache of a woman who had lost her soulmate.

I saw the film based on this book prior to reading it. The movie had me crying through the entire thing. I'm a crier, I'll admit it, but usually I get a little wet-eyed and brush it off. No, this movie had me making big, ugly tears. So I was well prepared for the book to completely slay me. But... it didn't. Not like the movie did. And maybe that's my fault to have watched the film prior to reading the book. I managed to cry once, towards the end, but I can understand how some people will find the entire book cry-worthy. It is upsetting and heartbreaking, as I mentioned, but it's also empowering. I feel that anyone who has experienced death before will grasp what the main character, Holly, is going through. Maybe not to her extent as each death is different, but Ahern really does place the weight of the situation on paper with clear description and emotion.

So we travel with Holly over the course of ten months and watch her struggle to regain control over her own life after receiving such a blow. With the aid of letters her husband wrote before his death, she finds some guidance in an otherwise stressful year and manages to discover what she is left to do with her life: live.

I only have one complaint about the book: it seemed that the editing was really, really horrible. But since a lot of the mistakes I kept finding were so consistent I wonder if it was more of a matter that this book was written to have happened in Ireland, maybe it was slang that I was reading which I do not know of (as an American) and I only saw that as mistakes? Who knows. Otherwise, the book is great, but don't read it if you aren't in the best of spirits!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Booking Through Thursdays - April 19th

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: 
What are your literary “pet peeves”?

When an author has a huge build up that takes forever and then you are left with a huge let down because it seems like the author just doesn't care. Such as one book I read (I won't name it because I don't want to give away the full plot to those who may not have read it) where one of the characters died. It was a huge deal, everyone was crying, and it was overall very emotional. Then during the last chapter which was only a page long it bluntly says that the character was alive. Now, you'd think I'd be happy that the character was alive since he was my favorite character, but I was annoyed by how it was handled. All of this talk and emotion and the last chapter seemed to be an afterthought, a last decision where the author was like, "Eh, I'm going to lose a lot of fans if I kill this character off, let me just write up 50 or so words that says he lives." I feel that it could have been handled so much better. That's my pet peeve. When author's don't give the effort to parts of books that should most definitely have effort placed. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Make Way for Ducklings

With its art drawn simply and a lack of color, one could look at Robert McCloskey's book and do one of two things: pass it by due to its lack of catchy color or look into it further because the very lack of color makes it stand out from a sea of brightly colored children's books.

The story is all the more better for the lack of wildly detailed artwork. Given a simple picture of what each page details is just enough for a little one's imagination to take off and fill in the colors and details on their own; all the while being told of a cute story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard's journey to find a place to raise ducklings.

We follow the duck couple as they fly over Boston and weigh their options of where to make a nest. Ultimately they settle on a specific island and the ducklings are hatched. The book comes to its climax with Mrs. Mallard attempting to take the children on a trip through Boston. In a comic twist not far from reality (it seems that every year there is another story of some good samaritans or public figures are helping a family of ducks such as a bank employee helping out a family of ducks a few years ago and more recently, this recent news article about the secret service helping a family of ducks at the White House) the ducks stop traffic with the help of friendly police officers.

Make Way for Ducklings, originally published in 1941 and continuously being in print since that date, has been been placed in the Picture Book Hall of Fame and received the Caldecott Medal in 1942. It was even designated the official children's book of Massachusetts in 2003. The book is still popular today whilst  being listed as one of the top 100 children books of all time. The story has been immortalized at the Boston Gardens where a series of statues depicting the ducklings and Mrs. Mallard stand.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I'm moving!

This is a quick, surprising decision on my part and happening tomorrow. I'm packing my bags and moving to the Washington, DC area. What does this mean for Soon Remembered Tales? Well, I'm not quite sure yet. I still intend on updating regularly but I don't know how busy I'll actually be from day to day. I don't know how much reading time I'll have.

I do know that I'll be depending on public transportation a lot and that will give me time to read. So hopefully I'll be able to keep up with making my Wednesday and Friday book blog posts! The first thing I packed, after all, was a quarter of my unread books (the rest are all books I was able to get for free on my Kindle which is certainly saving space for the move). I won't be seeing the rest of my books until I make this a permanent stay (and I do hope it will be!) or get my own apartment (I'm staying with a friend).

Wish me luck, dear readers, this is me - Erica Hopper - plunging head on into an adventure where I don't really know what's going to be happening next. So goodbye, Pennsylvania and hello, DC!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Booking Through Thursdays - April 12th

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: 
What book took you the longest to read, and do you feel it was the content or just the length that made it so?

My Answer:
Most recently, Juliet by Anne Fortier took me much longer than I felt it would. It did feel rather like an eternity to make my way through the book, even if it was in all actuality only a week or so.  What was worse was College Girl, which a review will be posted on the 27th (or more like a criticism). The more I dislike a book, the more each day spent on reading feels like five days of reading. 

Otherwise, the one book I know took me near forever to finish was The Lord of the Rings. I read all three books in the trilogy in one huge printed copy, so I consider it "one" book. I adored the tale but it took me at least a month to get through (I think I started it in October and finished it just before Christmas during 2001). For that, it was all right that I took my time because it was so long and there was so many details to go through. The difference between the books mentioned above and LotR was that I truly enjoyed every moment with LotR and the lengthy period of time it too me to read the book wasn't an issue.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Gardener

Sarah Stewart's children's book The Gardener was something I stumbled upon one afternoon while I was killing time at a bookstore. The cover caught my eye and the title captured my interest: the little girl with flowers and a cat standing on a fire escape in a city. I like gardening and my brain is continuously on the subject during early spring. I want to grow something, see flowers, watch something develop and typically end up buying too many bulbs and staring at my garden each day to see if there is any progress in flower growth.

Sitting at the tiny table in the children's section of the bookstore, I opened this book and dove into its story, all told from letters written by the child named Lydia Grace. The first few letters depict what has placed Lydia Grace in the position she is in: leaving her family and moving to the big city to live with her Uncle Jim to help him at his bakery and also take some weight off the shoulders of her family. The idea is sadly similar to a lot of what is going on in the present day: many friends of mine are moving to stay with different family members across the US with hopes of obtaining a job and taking the weight off of their family's shoulders. The only difference is that The Gardener takes place during the Depression-era and not 2012.

Lydia Grace has a passion for gardening and a certain green thumb which she uses to transform her surroundings in the city. She grows different plants and flowers, sprucing up the bakery and cheering up the surrounding areas. Her main goal is to make her Uncle Jim smile, something he just doesn't seem capable of doing. With the help of those she meets, Lydia Grace builds a beautiful rooftop garden which she surprises her uncle with. The letters to home are sweet and the aid of artwork in the book lends to telling what the letters cannot. This is a picture book that's perfect for a springtime purchase.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - April 10th

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!
"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."
J. D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye

Monday, April 9, 2012

Musing Mondays - April 9th

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

What do you think are the top 5 books every woman should read? (And for the men who might be playing today: What do you think are the top 5 books every man should read?)

My Answer:
Oh boy, lets see if I can gather five books every woman should read!

1) The Help by Kathryn Stockett

2) The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

3) I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

4) Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

5) The Hours by Michael Cunningham

All books feature a cast compiled of strong, amusing, beautiful, intelligent, nerve-wracking, witty women.  Their experiences vary from first loves to losses. I stand by all five books, many of which are favorite books of mine, but I would certainly suggest any of the books (if not all) to a woman.

Friday, April 6, 2012


I passed by this book for about three years before finally deciding to purchase it. The original cover attracted me but it was stuck over in the mystery section of my book store and I am just not a mystery reader. I drift away from that section because the majority of my experiences with it have never been good. It was on a shopping trip prior to visiting my grandparents in Florida that I decided to finally pick this book up (now located in the fiction section of another store). I wanted to bring two books to read and this was one of them. Toward the end of my trip I was able to start reading but as soon as I got home the book was put to the side.

Hop and skip two months into the future and I picked it up again. So here is the deal: broadcast something as having to do with Shakespeare, let alone an ancestor of Juliet, and you've caught my attention. Stick the book in anything but mystery and my interest is even higher. But despite my personal excitement for all of this I feel that my expectations were too great and I was rather disappointed.

The book was certainly very slow at parts, many parts, it would have a brief jolt of excitement and speed then slow down again. The writing style also changed from chapter to chapter which is both good and bad. The book went back and forth between modern day Julie Jacobs, all written in first person, to chapters telling the story of Giuliette (from the 14th century) in third person.

I tend to enjoy third person POV's more than first. With first person it is so easy to fall into just telling a story. "I shook my head. Then I sat down. I felt tired." To me, if it isn't handled well, it can lack certain creativity. Fortier, more often than not, teatered on a ledge between just stating the events of the story and properly spell binding me. But the portions written in third person? Perfect. It's definitely her strong suit.

Much of the book takes place during warm, sunny weather. I wasn't really feeling the descriptions at first but the moment we received warmer weather I began eating up these descriptions andl oving it all. Was it just that I was lacking a creative mind? Maybe. Was it that the descriptions weren't that great to begin with? Possibly. I've been able to read winter scenes during the summer without struggling to picture anything but this was a little hard to do.

I won't say I hated the book nor that it's a bore - that would be a lie. It did entertain me and I stuck with it to find out what would happen next, but reread it? I don't think so. This will collect dust on my bookshelf until I have a chance to sell it to a store where someone can buy it and enjoy it much more than I did. I felt that it was dreadfully slow up until the first 150 pages had passed. It didn't really get rolling until the last 150 pages of the book. The books total pages? Just over 440. That left a lot of pages of mediocre story telling in the middle that I wasn't fully enjoying.

If I could have had the same amount of excitement and action through the entire book that I had in the last half, I would have been happy. The remaking of the story of Romeo and Juliet was the best part of the boring half of the book and completely heartbreaking. I'll give the author that. I was feeling emotional pain for the characters involved and their sorrows hung onto me. But the modern day main characters? I really couldn't care less about them until, like I said, the very end of the book.

So I was disappointed with this book, I expected it to be much more engaging than it was. I appreciated the attention to history that the author had, I really do, and I feel that everything was supported by some level of research. I loved the retelling of Romeo and Juliet and once the story got going and you found out about all the who's and what's of the modern day it was exciting and engaging. But it took so long to get to that point. I, more or less, forced myself to read a chapter every day this week up until I got to the really interesting part of the book (at which time I began flying through the pages) and due to my stubborn nature I didn't put the book back on the shelf. I spent money on this book and dammit I wasn't going to make that purchase a waste by not reading the book! Had I not been so determined I would have given up on the book and missed out on the great second half of it.

This is definitely influenced by the idea of fate controlling what goes on to everyone, family curses and a little bit of sappy romance. For some readers, that's what they're looking for. For me personally, it has to be served rather well and I didn't find it to my satisfaction. I really wanted to love this book and I'm left feeling a little confused over it. The first half of it was so god awful boring and the second half was so amazing that I'm not quite sure what to feel of it other than I would never want to read the start of the book again and I am a firm believer of rereading a book straight through, not just the parts that I liked. So, I suppose, I'll not read this book again because I just don't want to drag my feet through those first 150 pages all over again.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Booking Through Thursdays - April 5th

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 someone asked you for a book recommendation, what is the FIRST book you’d think to recommend (without extra thought)?
My Answer:
I worked as a bookseller at Borders for a year and a half and spent a four month stint working at a Waldenbooks as well. Recommending books was a major part of my job and I absolutely loved being able to offer people insight into books that I stood by due to their excellent storytelling and imagery. Of course, my recommendations always varied depending on what the customer wanted: a book for a 12-year-old boy, a book for a wife, a newborn, etc. But if someone walked up to me and simply said, "Recommend a book, any book." (which they often times did) my go to recommendation was always The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I still adore this book, even now after nearly three years, and I still would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good book that will also be a little mind blowing. I even had some customers come back to the store to inform me how much they appreciated the recommendation because they adored the book!  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I deemed myself a Neil Gaiman fan a number of years ago and yet I have only read a handful of his books. It makes me think I’m a bad fan, to have so little experience with his books, but there is more to my fascination of Neil Gaiman than just his writing. I follow his twitter which is endlessly entertaining and even his blog posts are beautifully written and sometimes comical. The advice he gives out to people on tumblr is endlessly amusing, in my opinion, and I just think he is brilliant. Also, people I know have met him and forever praise how down to earth he is. All around, I enjoy that this author seems intelligent, funny and all around awesome.

When I read books by Gaiman I am always left thinking, “How will I give this book justice when I talk about it?” Gaiman is the type of writer that I wish I could be. I wish my mind could be that wild and crazy and articulate and that I could write something that leaves a reader like a roller coaster enthusiast – dizzy but wanting more.

Beginning Neverwhere was a bit of a struggle for me because I was extremely busy. Working a lot of extra hours with editing and tutoring, plus preparing for the holidays and a trip to Florida – I just didn’t have the time to devote to the book. That seems to always be the case when I begin reading a Gaiman book, I need to place a good amount of time aside to sit down and just start reading. For Neverwhere (and I’ve felt this way with other Gaiman books) you have to get yourself settled and ready for the ride. Because it is a ride, mind you, you’re always taken somewhere Else with his writing. Somewhere Far and Away and in this case you are being brought to London Below. What a marvelous concept (which I think may or may not have popped up in various sci-fi books or movies?) – a copy (of sorts) of a city but still completely different. This idea could be done very poorly but, of course, Gaiman creates a world that seems very, very possible.

Richard Mayhew, our main character, is a man as typical and normal as you and I, but he’s sucked into London Below and brought into an elaborate search and plot while attempting to understand the rules of this new world. All of this is due to coming across the small girl with weird eyes that came tumbling out in London Above (aka: regular London), a girl named Door. There are secrets and a matter of "who to trust", creatures that only exist in nightmares, Rat People, resurrection and the power of being able to open and close doors with a touch of the hand and concentration of the mind.

Once my life calmed down a little and I had the time to properly read, I flew through this book. I had such a hard time putting it down when I would be reading it and many a night fell asleep with it in my bed. I just didn’t want to stop reading because it was that fabulous. I wanted, after every page, to turn to the next to find out what would happen. I wanted so very much, when the book ended. to have another chapter, maybe just another page, so that I didn’t quite have to leave the book just yet.

I think it’s safe to say that this is my favorite Gaiman book. I was so sad when I finished reading it and it took me days before I could bring myself to pick up another book to read. That's when I know a book has fully captured my attention. The main character might not be the most exciting but the supporting cast is fascinating and lively. Good or bad, it's all so interesting. Once I was fully immersed in this book I kept thinking, "I should have read this sooner. Why did I wait?" Reading other reviews I've seen a very straight forward response: either readers have absolutely loved it and placed it on the top of their favorite books pedestal or they just didn't like it at all. Period. I think it's somewhat clear what category I have fallen into. I feel that this very well could be a great first Neil Gaiman book for people to read. Now, my opinion of that may change in the future because I have so many other Gaiman books waiting to be devoured but for now it stands as such.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - April 3rd

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!
"But I knew the sensation would pass and, most importantly, I would never see him again. I accepted this fact with ease and, truth be told, relief."
 College Girl by Patricia Weitz

Monday, April 2, 2012

Musing Mondays - April 2nd

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

Do you belong to any book clubs — face-to-face, or online? If so, how long have you been with the group(s)? If not, why?

My Answer is:
No, I've never belonged to a book club in any form. I've never really had any interest to join. Now, seeing that my lack of interest has left me not even looking into a book club as a possible activity, I could have what book clubs do all wrong - forgive me if I do. But from what I understand, a book club will together pick out a book to read and then discuss it and I just can't do that. The moment a book becomes (what I see as) an assignment, I dislike it. Just about every book I was asked to read and discuss in my education I absolutely despised until I was able to reread the book on my own time. It's like my brain goes, "this is school work" and then I lock my mind off to any enjoyment of the book. Being with a group of people and having a book chosen for me to read would, I feel, be the same thing. My brain would lock off any enjoyment of the tale. I would like the aspect of discussing books I've read, though, and that's part of why I have a blog. When I read a book and I really want to talk about it I just think, "I wish I had a group of people to discuss this with," in which case I yearn for such a group. Who knows, maybe one day I'll find a book club to join and it will be the best decision of my life. I certainly do not judge anyone who does go to book clubs, I just don't believe it's the right fit for me.