Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pomp(ous) and Circumstance

Wow.  Just wow.  I rated Jude Deveraux's The Raider as receiving three out of five stars on Goodreads, but I was being generous.  I didn't care for this book at all.  I didn't like the lead male character and didn't enjoy the plot.  So not good.  Despite being part of the Montgomery series, which I've enjoyed, this one takes place in America instead of the UK.  I think I'll stick with the British ones from now on.

Raider is set in Colonial New England and focuses on the homecoming and re-immersion of Alexander Montgomery into the town he grew up in.  When he arrives he is recovering from a gunshot wound and is dressed up in a fat suit and garish clothes.  This sets tongues wagging about him being fat, lazy, and a perpetual drunk.  The image is only perpetuated by Jessica Taggert, the most beautiful, unattainable, and tomboyish girl in the entire town.  Also during this time, the British have essentially taken over the town and are wreaking havoc on the citizens:  confiscating goods, commandeering ships, putting people in jail for treason.  Alex decides to do something about it an takes on the persona of a masked raider, hence the title.  Of course everyone loves the Raider and despises Alex; none more so than Jessica first.  Soon Alex and Jessica become friends and much more.  Needless to say their friendship is riddled with lies and manipulations that eventually worm their way into the open.
It sounds promising, right?  Alas.  I liked Jessica's character.  She was plucky, courageous, smart, and independent.  I didn't like Alex's character.  He was whinny (even when he was the Raider), manipulative, kind of inept, and not very convincing as either himself or the Raider.  That's pretty bad.  In addition, the struggles with the townspeople and the rest of the Montgomery family were not fleshed out and the situation with the British was mediocre at best.  Overall...I should go back and change my rating on Goodreads...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Robbin' Trains and Keeping Secrets

Linda Lael Miller's The Rustler was...kind of blah actually.  I mean, the story was decent.  The characters were fine.  But there wasn't anything that really captured my interest in the entire story.  That's sad and disappointing.

Rustler follows Wyatt Yarbro as he decides to give up his cattle stealing, train robbing, saloon frequenting ways and relocate to Stone Creek where his brother, also a reformed rustler, just happens to be the local sheriff.  At first Wyatt thinks he's just going to lie low until the ruckus from his last cattle raid blows oven, but then he meets Sarah Tamlin.  Sarah works at the local bank, which her father owns, and is considered quite the catch despite her additional years compared to other first time brides.  In addition to running the bank in lieu of her father's failing health, which must be kept hushed, she has several rather large secrets from her past.  To keep track of all the lies she's had to tell to survive, she keeps a small notebook in her pocket to record every single lie she's told.  Of course her lies eventually catch up to her in the form of a ten year old boy and a past "friend", but Wyatt's past catches up to him too.  Will the two survive the constant lies they've had to tell each other or will they go their separate ways?

I don't really know why I didn't care for this book.  It was well written.  The storylines all worked and connected.  I just wasn't really impressed.  Maybe I would have been more satisfied if all the action wasn't relegated to the end.  Perhaps...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Screw Society!

I have to say that I was completely surprised by Julia London's The Secret a good way!  Reading the synopsis kind of left me feeling ho-hum, but it definitely didn't do the story justice.  I'll admit, the beginning of the book was rather slow, but it really picked up and I thoroughly liked the characters and how things played out.  Good deal!

Lover follows Sophie Dane and her journey and re-entrance into London Society (which she adamantly wanted to avoid) after eight years of absence.  For reasons that are explained fairly early on, Sophie has been ostracized from her family and high society and has been living as a companion to an older, wealthy woman, Honorine, in France (among other places).  Soon Honorine decides that she wants to travel to London and that Sophie must accompany her.  Thus begins to harrowing journey and Sophie's not so seamless appearance back in London.  However, she soon finds herself on the receiving end of one of the most eligible bachelor's affections (Trevor Hamilton); who her family fully endorses while Sophie abhors.  To escape the confines of such pressure, Sophie takes to spending time picnicing alone in Regent Park.  It is there she meets Caleb, Trevor's illegitimate younger brother.  What ensues is Sophie's struggle with familial obligations, societal expectations, and personal fulfillment.
I really, really enjoyed this read.  So much so that I've placed the others in The Rogues of Regent Street series into my To-Read pile...the ever increasing pile.  This is my first read by Julia London and all I have to say is:  well done, London.  Well done.

Music Saves the Day

Alexander McCall Smith's La's Orchestra Saves the World was a pretty decent read.  Although, for me, it does not stack up to some of his serials (44 Scotland Street, etc.), I rather enjoyed it.

La's is set, for the majority, during the span of WWII in the countryside of Suffolk.  The story begins with La (Lavender) and her developing relationship with Richard Stone.  The two share a whirlwind of a romance that leads, rather quickly, to marriage.  Not even two years later La is alone.  She then moves from Cambridge to Suffolk county into an old farmhouse owned by her in-laws.  It is here that La's life gains new purpose and she becomes a more self-assured individual.  While working on the home-front to help the citizens of Britain during a time of war, she meets a Polish soldier, Feliks, who has been sent to work on a neighboring farm.  Naturally La develops feelings for Feliks, though he's so uptight and reserved that she has no idea where he stands on the issue.  In addition to helping the farming community, La has also taken command of a local orchestra made up of fellow villagers and officers from the nearby military base, among others.  Though the group is not very good, they continue to practice and put on performances to boost morale among the people.  Feliks is also a member of this group.  Events soon transpire and Feliks is taken away from the town for matters beyond his control.  There are secrets that are revealed through this extraction that help La see things for what they really are.
Though not super engaging or highly entertaining, I did like this book by Smith.  I don't know if I would go so far as to recommend it to everyone, like I would with Scotland Street, but I completely loved how he was able to show how powerful music can be during desperate times.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why I Love...Tear Jerkers

I am not, by nature, an emotional person.  I don't cry when I get upset.  I don't cry when I get hurt.  Honestly, I don't least it's a rare occasion if I do.  In fact, several friends have described me as having a heart of stone because I never cry (jokingly, of course).  However, there are a few things that get me every time:  Selena, The Notebook (film version), The Family Stone and some other films.  But for the most part, I'm a stone wall.  Now that all changes when it comes to certain books.  There are a few books that I will cherish forever despite the fact that they make me cry.  For that reason, they belong in the Why I Love...Tear Jerkers category. 

First, and foremost:  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
This was the only installation in the boy wizard series where I cried.  It's not that I wasn't upset about things that occurred in the previous books (Cedric's death, Sirius' death, Dumbledore's death, etc.), but this last book was so much more powerful.  I remember getting the book the day it came out and staying up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it.  It was about 3 in the morning when the first bout of tears started streaming down my face.  Queue the entrance (or exit) of Snape.  I'd always loved him and had been pulling for him throughout the entire series.  His recollection of events with Lilly really affected me and I couldn't help crying for his loss and the loss of Snape in general.  But the most overwhelmingly sad part in the entire book, for me, was when Harry was walking through the Forbidden Forest to meet Voldemort, carrying the Resurrection Stone.  Having the people he loved the most (his parents, Sirius, Lupin) with him during that terrifying time, and then throwing the stone, was too much for me.  I literally sobbed like a three year old throwing a tantrum.  It wasn't a pretty sight, but it was desperately needed.
Second:  The Book Thief
I cannot recommend this book to enough people.  I first read the story of Liesel and her harrowing time during WWII when I was living in Austria (fitting).  Of course I knew that this story would be a sad one; hello, it's set in Nazi Germany during the war and narrated by death.  But little did I realize just how this story would squeeze my heart.  It wasn't the overpowering notions of death and dying.  It wasn't the fact that Liesel had lost her brother and her mother.  It was Rudy Steiner and his encompassing love for Liesel that did me in.  He maintained that love for Liesel until his dying breath, and it wasn't until that happened that Liesel finally realized just how much Rudy meant to her.  That's when she finally bestowed upon him the kiss that he had constantly been begging for.  TEARS!   
Lastly:  The Hunger Games trilogy
Now I'm not saying that all three books made me cry, but the bookends of the series did.  In the first book, The Hunger Games, it was when little, tiny Rue met her untimely and unjustified end.  I loved her character and was incredibly upset when she was killed off (though I knew it would happen).  The ritual that Katniss went through to pay proper respect to her fallen comrade was so heartbreaking and tender.  I couldn't help but cry.  The song, the flowers, the signal to District 11...then Thresh's actions at the "banquet"...too much to contain!  Then came book three, Mockingjay.  While there were several deaths along the way, the two big ones that happened in this book hit me especially hard.  I really, really liked Finnick and was so incredibly upset, and proud, when he sacrificed himself to save the others in the tunnels under the Capitol.  Yay...but NO!!!  And then there came the events that unfolded in the town square.  Never have I been so upset over a single character's death (though I understand the point of such a senseless sacrifice for the story).  I bawled when this happened.
And there you have it.  The few books that make me cry on a continuous basis.  Though it's few and far between, despite the fact that these book cause me to become an emotional wreck, I will love them unto eternity.  Happy Reading (and crying)!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Teaser Tuesday...Chelsea Handler is a Big Liar!

So I've had Chelsea's Family, Friends, and other Victims Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me since it came out months and months ago.  It's been sitting in a pile of books next to my mirror...because I'm lacking enough bookshelf space.  Does that say something about me?  Ha.  Anyway, I am finally picking it up to read it!  Joyous occassion indeed!  Without further's teaser:

"You see, Chelsea has tricked the world into believing that she is technologically retarded, but that's a lie.  What I and several other victims have discovered is that she likes to sneak into people's work spaces, get on their computer without their knowledge, and wreak havoc" (Eva Magdalenski 197).

I've loved everything written by Handler.  She's hilarious, rude, and absolutely obnoxious.  I can't wait to find out the different antics she's pulled on those closest to her.  Happy reading!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Poetry Friday...William Butler Yeats

Leda and the Swan  (1928)
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thights?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                                 Being caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with is power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

When I first read this poem as an undergrad in college, I was shocked and in awe of how brilliant William Butler Yeats was.  His use of symbolism, allegory, and mythology are pure genius!  An Irish play-write and poet, Yeats became one of the most influential writers in the 20th century and went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (the first Irishman to do so).  His most famous and respected writing, however, came after winning the Nobel.  That's saying something!  During his adolescence, Yeats fell hard for a woman, Maud Gonne, who, unfortunately, never returned his deeply felt love.  She denied him at every moment and eventually married someone other than Yeats, which devastated and angered him  This, rightfully so, shaped a lot of his poetry.  Finally, at the age of 51, Yeats found a love match in Georgie Hyde-Lees, a woman 26 years his junior.  Their marriage was a success, despite his frequent forays later on in the relationship.  Yeats' later poetry soon took a much different tone than that of his earlier writing.  As the above poem shows, the language became more forceful.  The images more violent.  Perhaps this was a reflection of Ireland during the time, in combination with his own personal struggles with religion and politics, that led to this shift.  Whatever is was, Yeats will forever be considered one of the preeminent writers that Ireland ever produced and will endure as one of my favorite poets.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Do I Even Know You?

I've heard so many good things about Pam Jenoff's The Diplomat's Wife and it's predecessor, The Kommandant's Girl, but I've never felt like reading either for some odd reason.  Both are set during my favorite time, WWII, and both are books that I would probably like.  Why wouldn't I want to read them?  Well, I finally remedied this conundrum, though probably backwards from how I should have done so.  I found a copy of The Diplomat's Wife for two dollars in a used bookstore some time back and picked it up (I mean, it was ONLY two dollars).  Now I can say that I'm really glad I did!

Diplomat follows the trials and tribulations of Marta Nederman after the war has come to an end.  She's been rescued from the Dachau concentration camp by an American soldier, Paul Mattison, and placed in a DP hospital in Switzerland.  Though she doesn't know it at the time, this chance meeting with Paul will shape her life in ways she never could have imagined.  There is such a connection between the two of them from the start that they try to spend every single moment together once Marta has recovered and before Paul has been shipped off again.  Needless to say their time together is short-lived, only 24-hours in Switzerland and about the same in Paris, but those measly hours solidify what the two feel for each other and lead to consequences and rewards neither of them saw coming.  Once Paul has been reassigned, Marta, through a series of circumstances, ends up with a visa to England where she is to meet Paul.  Unforeseen things happen and that meeting never takes place.  Alone in a country where she barely speaks the language, Marta must make the best of her circumstances.  Enter Simon Gold, a British diplomat.  What follows is the unraveling of a life never expected or anticipated and the betrayal of and by people she thought she could believe in.
Despite my reluctance to read this book, I truly enjoyed it.  Though it started off slow and rather predictable, the story and action really started to pick up about a fourth of the way in.  Once I got that far into the book, I was pleased.  There were twists and turns.  There were secrets revealed.  There was a rather shocking discovery...a few in fact.  There was a beautiful love story that you rooted for.  Despite some of the things that seemed truly implausible, this was a book that I would recommend.  I will now have to read The Kommandant's Girl, though I have a sneaking suspicion that I already know how it ends ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesday...Turning a New Leaf

This week's teaser comes from Linda Lael Miller's The Rustler.  I've never read much of Miller's writing, but my mom really likes her; so I thought I'd give it a try.  We'll see how it goes.

"Men like Mr. Yarbro didn't marry, they dallied with foolish women, and then moved on" (65).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Poetry Friday...Wilfred Owen

Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep.  Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod.  All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas!  Gas!  Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, 
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene with cancer, bitter with cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie:  Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

(*Dulce et...mori: a quotation from the Latin poet Horace, "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country.")

I first came across this poem, published in 1920, by Wilfred Owen about a year ago.  Owen is absolutely brilliant in what he does; namely taking something that he suffered through, the atrocities of WWI, and bringing the reader directly into the action.  He was the first poet to immerse readers in the trenches alongside those fighting and the first to portray war the way it really was instead of as the glorified version that had been lauded to society.  His descriptions are so incredibly graphic and immediate that it is impossible not to picture this poor soldier drowning on his own liquefying internal organs, all while his fellow comrades must march along while watching him die a horrific death.  The fact that Owen went from being a very minor poet to the most important English-language poet of WWI in a matter of two years is astounding.  Sadly, his genius was to come posthumously.  Just days before the end of the war, 1918, he was killed in action.  Only four of his poems were published before he died.  Dulce et Decorum Est was published two years after his death.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why I Love...Book Boyfriends

How fitting that I was rockin' to the smooth grooves of SWV and "Weak in the Knees" this morning and then saw this week's topic for "Why I Love" Wednesday:  Book Boyfriends.  While I've read hundreds of books, literally, there are very few male characters that are swoon-worthy.  Despite that, I can name a few, so here goes:

As cliche as it may seem, I developed an unnatural book crush on Edward Cullen.  Damn you Stephanie Meyer for creating a character that is completely enchanting and demented.  Despite the creep factor that Edward has, there is something magnetic about him.  He's intense, dangerous, and calculated.  I don't know why, but that's kind of appealing.

I think that my most enduring book boyfriend would have to be Mr. Darcy.  Though he's "married" to Elizabeth, he will forever be one of the most charming, infuriating, and wonderful male characters in my mind.  Not to mention the fact that he has some of the best lines:  "you've bewitched me, body and soul", yes please!  Darcy has been, and will always be, the male lead that everyone is compared to in my world.  He's a gem.

Though I don't normally get super attached or attracted to male leads in books, or go so far as to refer to them as my "boyfriend", there are always those few characters who somehow stick with you and make you wish they really did exist...or at least portions of them existed (I wouldn't really want to come up against a vampire...regardless of how sexy he is).  Because of that, the above two are probably the closest any character has come.  However, I don't really think either of them would make great boyfriend've got an extremely jealous, overprotective, withdrawn guy or one who is kind of emotionally stunted and judgmental.  Hm...maybe I'll go with Peeta from The Hunger Games or Neville from Harry Potter.  At least those two are kind, nearly always have good intentions, and aren't afraid to voice their opinions or views.  Gah.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It Should Have Ended Sooner

Michael Ende's The NeverEnding of my all-time favorite movies...finally found in a book form!  What I never realized about this story was the fact that the movie was only based on the first third of the book.  Say what?!  When I found that out I couldn't wait to read it and find out what wasn't included in the film version.  Needless to say, I will stick with the movie from now on.

The NeverEnding Story follows the journey of Bastian Balthazar Bux as he reads a book, The NeverEnding Story, about a world, Fantastica, that is dying.  He travels along with Atreyu in his search for the one thing that can cure the illness that the Childlike Empress is suffering from.  Atreyu's search eventually leads him to the discovery that only a human child can save the Empress and Fantastica from the Nothing.  This is where Bastian comes in.  Once he enters Fantastica and gives the Childlike Empress her cure, things change.
This is where the movie version ends.  However, the story most definitely continues.  While Bastian is plummeted into Fantastica, he becomes the Wisher of Wishes and can create and ask for anything he wants.  The power that this gives Bastian soon causes him to commit some truly questionable things.  In addition to the wishes, for every request he makes, a small portion of his human memory is wiped clean.  Eventually Bastian has wished for so many increasingly extravagant things that he no longer remembers his human life.  He has forgotten everything.  And that presents a very big problem.  Without his memories, how will he be able to get home?

While I did enjoy this book, I really, really, really disliked Bastian.  He was such a little d-bag once he had power.  Obviously it's a reflection/critique on the corruption and havoc that power causes when used incorrectly, but even in the end I didn't really care for Bastian.  If only Atreyu could have been the hero...

Which to Choose?

Jude Deveraux's TheDuchess, yet another in the Montgomery series (which I will completely knock out one of these days) was a pretty decent read.  While I didn't quite enjoy it as much as some of the others, I did like the fact that it was a quick read with characters that I believed.

Duchess tells the story of Claire Willoughby and her journey to finding a "suitable" husband, as declared by her grandfather.  Claire finds Harry Montgomery, the Duke of MacArran, and a seemingly perfect fit for her grandfather's stipulations.  The engagement is announced and Claire and her family move into the historic castle of her intended.  While there, some interesting things occur.  Claire is thrust into the mix of an extremely eccentric bunch of people, all of whom inhabit the castle.  A mysterious man, Trevelyan, appears in the countryside who draws Claire like a magnate.  Harry starts to show some of his true colors.  People's feelings and true circumstances are revealed.  It's a journey toward self-discovery, uncovering family secrets, and following your heart.
While not my favorite Deveraux, or Montgomery, novel, The Duchess was a good read overall.  The choice that Claire must come to would be very difficult for someone who must follow the rules of society and her family when they oppose what her heart wants.

Making a Case

Having spent time living in Scotland, I've been reading some of the contemporary authors that have been products of that beautiful land.  One of my favorites, who I discovered in a random charity shop in Edinburgh, is Christopher Brookmyre who is a wonderful political/crime/whodunit writer.  Another well-known contemporary Edinburgh writer is Ian Rankin, whose books are along the same lines as Brookmyre's.  His Detective Rebus novels have even garnered a television show.  In addition to these two writers, there is Kate Atkinson.  Now, I have never read anything by Atkinson, though she's prevalent on my To-Read list because her novels always sound so interesting, but I ran across an inexpensive used copy of one of her books recently and thought I'd give it a try.

Kate Atkinson's Case Histories was an interesting read.  Not bad...not great...just interesting.  The novel covers a time span of thirty years and three separate cold cases.  Somehow these cases have been brought to the attention of Detective Jackson Brodie.  As he works to discovered what each case is about and how they are all related, because in some strange way they are, he must struggle with his own personal life on top of that.  In addition, the families of every case are a constant presence that must be factored in to each investigation as they worm their way into Brodie's life.  There are some shocking turns and some predictable turns throughout the novel that lead the reader to some interesting discoveries.
Despite the fact that I was not overly impressed with Case Histories, I did like the writing style and the flow that Atkinson brought to the story.  Because of that, I will probably pick up more books by her and keep the Scottish tradition alive!  To go along with that, I just discovered this little gem...oh man!  It looks good and I might have to watch it.

Sailing the Pacific

I've put off reading Yann Martel's Life of Pi for years it seems.  I don't know why.  It's been recommended to me several times and touted as a "must read" by many of my friends, mainly Audrey. Maybe that's why I never got around to reading it:  fear of it not stacking up to the hype.  So, while I was in Portland at one of my favorite bookstores, Wallace Books, I saw a used copy for four bucks and finally picked it up.  All I can say is "Thank You" Martel for writing a book that was seriously awesome and thank you Audrey for continually extolling its awesomeness!
Pi follows the story of Pi Patel, a sixteen year old boy who has been shipwrecked while on his way from India to Canada on a Japanese ship.  Before setting sail, Pi and his family have liquidated the zoo that his father manages.  All of the animals have found homes around the world in different zoos and sanctuaries.  However, there are a few animals that embark on the same journey the Patel's do; namely a Bengal tiger, a hyena, a zebra, and an orangutan.  After the shipwreck, the action is contained to a small life raft containing all of the surviving members of the ship:  Pi, the tiger, the hyena, the zebra, and the orangutan.  An interesting and deadly combination.  As the days go by, there are deaths and triumphs, storms and moments of calm.  Once Pi makes it across the vast Pacific Ocean, he is met by officials from the shipping fleet who conduct an interview attempting to figure out what happened to the ship and how Pi was able to survive nearly 300 days at sea.  He relates his story to their disbelief.

When I first started Life of Pi, I was slightly disappointed.  It was a bit slow, though engaging.  Once the shipwreck happened, though, the action of the story sped up to an almost breakneck speed.  By the time I got to the last hundred pages or so, I couldn't put the book down.  The ending was shockingly brilliant and left me with a look of disbelief.  Whoa!  So incredibly good.  It's a highly recommended book in my mind and I can't wait to see how they adapt this into a film...

Bossy McBossypants

" the time i got to the interview I was sweating my roommate's BO out of the suit.  The stench of every drink and every cigarette she'd had the last time she wore it filled the high-end office in which I interviewed.  Between the suit, its booze cloud, and my thick virgin eyebrows, I was deemed unfit to answer phones in plain view.  I was turning out to be college educated and unemployable in even the most basic way" (69).

Oh man is Tina Fey a funny lady.  Bossypants, Fey's first autobiography, is quite hilarious.  I had been wanting to read this book for a while now and finally did over a week long Mexican vacation...the perfect place to get some much needed reading done along with some much needed sun on my pasty, white Oregon skin!

Bossypants explains the trials and tribulations of Fey's life.  From her childhood mishaps to certain mishaps in college, from her portrayals of Sarah Palin and other SNL episodes to the birth of her daughter.  The hilarity that Fey uses to write this memoir is laugh out loud funny and truly entertains.  Her outtake on life in general is one to be admired and embraced.  Don't take yourself too seriously.  Roll with the punches.  Laugh at life's intricacies and sore spots.  That's what makes it bearable!
I would definitely recommend this book for a few reasons.  It's refreshing to see a female comedienne who has been received with such openness, for one.  Another reason is that the writing is good.  It's not overly done.  It doesn't assume anything about its reader.  It's easy to sink into this book and finish it in a few hours.  Well done, Fey, well done.

Mistaken Identities

Jude Deveraux's The Heiress was a pleasant, easy read.  The book is one of the many in the Montgomery series, of which I am rather enjoying.  It's nice because this series does not need to be read in order (though it would probably help to do so in order to see the timeline), which is a wonderful thing seeing as how there are quite a few in it. 

Heiress follows the story of Jamie Montgomery, an impoverished knight, and Axia, an extremely wealthy heiress.  Jamie is taxed with escorting Axia to her newly arranged husband, a mission that will supply him with a nice nest egg to help his two sisters as well as himself.  Of course he would be even more well off if he could get Axia to fall in love and marry him, thus inheriting her entire fortune.  His sisters further spur the mission toward this outcome.  Unbeknownst to Jamie, Axia and her cousin Frances, her only companion aside from Tode the jester, have decided to pretend to be each other and trick Jamie along the way.  With this case of mistaken identity, of course unforeseen problems erupt during their journey.  Secrets are revealed, people are ousted, rash decisions are made, and a growing love is developed. 

I was pleasantly surprised by The Heiress.  I genuinely liked all of the characters, even the end.  That always says something about a book to me.  If you liked the characters, then it ranks as a good book.  I believed each of them and wanted them to succeed in each of their endeavors.  Well done Deveraux.   

Teaser Tuesday...Not Such a Secret Lover

Going to be starting a quick read to catch up on my Goodreads Challenge list...I'm a few books behind.  So here's an excerpt from Julia London's The Secret Lover:

"They were two scarred people, two outcasts in an imperfect world....But they were perfect for each other" (170).
Sounds promising as a quick read...and unbelievable in its! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Teaser Tuesday...Music's Healing Powers

With the end of the term in sight, I promise to get caught up on my reviews.  I have a pile of seven books sitting next to my computer...all read...all waiting to be reviewed.  Ugh.  In addition to that, I will be adding yet another to said pile in a few days because I'm nearly halfway through with The Diplomat's Wife, which I posted a teaser for last week just before starting it.  Despite my serious lack of reviewing (damn you student essays!), I am still posting teasers for new books that I'm starting.  So, without further ado, here's today's teaser from Alexander McCall Smith's La's Orchestra Saves the World:

"The music reminded her:  love and loss were inextricably linked.  This world was a world of suffering; music helped to make that suffering bearable" (109).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Poetry Is Awesome

"Poetry is the kind of thing poets write."
~Robert Frost~
Another great meme has been brought to my attention recently and I think it's fitting that I should participate.  This meme, Poetry Fridays, was started by The Thoughts of a Book Junky, a great blog that I've been following for about a year now.  The premise of the meme is pretty much how it sounds.  Every Friday those participating would post a poem that they particularly enjoy in order to expose people to poetry they might not generally encounter.  I love this for several reasons.  One, for the past two Winter terms I have had the pleasure of teaching Introduction to Poetry, where I am able to expose students to poets and poetry that they have never encountered before; some students having never encountered poetry at all.  Two, I happen to really enjoy poetry.  And three, I like that I can include poetry through this medium that isn't necessarily applicable to the introductory level classroom.  Not only that, but this meme will, again, add variety to my blog and force me to be even more consistent (which I've severely slacked on the past month...or more).  I also plan to take this one step further.  Instead of just posting a poem that I like, I will offer a brief biography of the poet and my reasons for choosing said poem...because I'm a geek like that.  So look forward to seeing some new things hitting the page on Fridays.  Here's to a good week!