Friday, April 30, 2010

DWTS Week 6/Glee

I thought it was the group dance this week and instead they did a swing marathon-I MUCH prefer the group dance which I must point out is unscored! My two main points are A. Evan and Anna were robbed in their samba score and B. Evan and Anna were robbed in the swing dance. Why do the producers (and I am placing blame on the producers) so intent on pushing Nicole and Derek at us? I have seen somewhat of an online backlash against them. I am rooting for Evan (obviously) and Erin and Maks now! I feel like Jake, Niecy or Pam will go home.
Update: Jake went home. I was thinking he would. Thank goodness it wasn't Evan!

  • The return of Cheno! I adore Kristin (very much wish I could get to NY and see her in "Promises, Promises" but at least she's on my TV and singing some new songs (Fun note: A House is Not a Home and One Less Bell to Answer are both written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David as is the music for Promises, Promises))
  • Kurt and Mercedes get to sing! Don't get me wrong, I love Rachel and Jesse but it's great to hear some of the other gleeks. And Kurt was especially fantastic!
  • I wasn't too enthusiastic about the songs when I first downloaded them (I'm a completist so I will get them all) but I fell in love with Fire and I think that's fun and my favorite song of the week.
  • We also got to see a bit more of Quinn-I really like her even if some people are over her pregnancy plot.
  • And Sue was not taken down by that reporter! I was hoping she wouldn't be.
  • This week's best quote comes from Sue: "I will no longer be carrying around photo ID. Know why? People should know who I am."
  • Excited for next week with Olivia Newton-John!
1. Fire-April and Will
2. A House Is Not a Home-Kurt
3. One Less Bell to Answer/A House Is Not a Home-April and Will
4. Beautiful-Mercedes
5. Home-April

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Break...

I'm very sorry but I will be taking a break until May 5 in order to finish all of my papers (it's a lot). I will also not be following blogs on google reader nor do I plan to be on twitter. I will post DWTS/Glee on Friday and April Wrap-Up on Saturday but that is all. When I return, I plan to review Wuthering Heights and Shiver as well as some great books I picked up to read to celebrate finishing my papers. I hope everybody has a great week and I will miss you!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Poisoned Season

A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander
William Morrow, 2007
306 pages
Mystery; Historical
2nd in Series

Summary: While the big gossip of the season is surrounding the purported heir to the French throne, Lady Emily Ashton is still attracting attention. She is still studying Greek, still refusing to remarry, still drinking port, and still intent on being her own person even as she faces society's censure, troubles with her best friend, multiple proposals, a dashing thief, and a murderer.

My Thoughts: The characters are the most important part of this story so I will start with them (I'm afraid that I'm assuming you've read the first book and are familiar with them.) Emily is still lovely and Colin still sounds hot. He is very determined to marry her and a bet around that emerges. My personal favorite character is Davis, her butler. I love him and am very jealous of that French tart Odette who captures his attention. Cecile is not in this book as much but Ivy and her marital problems move closer to the front. On to the mystery.

Throughout the story Emily is threatened by some very bad people. First there is Charles Berry, claiming to be the heir to the French throne, who believes he is irresistible to women. Then there is a mysterious thief who brazenly breaks in to her house and follows her. I did not quite unravel the threads of the mystery. There is involvement by a person who I did not suspect because I am far too trusting of fictional characters. I felt it was more substantial than the mystery of the first book though.

Overall: 4 out of 5. Very good. I'm hoping to read the rest of the series over the summer!

Review of first book: And Only to Deceive

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ordinary Men

Ordinary Men by Christopher R Browning
HarperPerennial, 1993
223 pages
Non-fiction; WWII; Holocaust

This is a very different book than what I usually post about but I wanted to share it because it is a good book and very interesting.

On the one hand, this is a fairly easy book to read: no boring theory, no difficult words, no long paragraphs, or meandering digressions.

On the other hand, it is incredibly hard to read because it is about how "ordinary men" are transformed into killers. The book recounts them killing defenseless people. Less than 500 men are responsible for the deaths of at least 83,000 Jews. They directly shot approximately 38,000 and put 45,000 on trains to death camps.

Another difficult section is how some men asked to be excused from the shooting, which their superiors allowed because there were so many other men who were prepared to kill! Eventually almost every man who was part of that battalion participated directly in the killing. And of course all helped to round up and clear out the ghettoes so that the trains.

Another interesting point is that these men were older and thus could remember a Germany before Hitler. They did not grow up under his regime and were mostly not part of the Nazi Party.

Basically this is a devastating book but very interesting and asking us to consider how people come to this point.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Huckleberry Finished

Huckleberry Finished by Livia J Washburn
Kensington Books, 2009
243 pages
Mystery; Contemporary
2nd in Series

Summary: Delilah Dickinson has continued her tour guide business even after the disaster in Atlanta. This time she is going on the Mississippi with Mark Twain. But again someone winds up dead and many secrets are at play.

Thoughts: I enjoyed the first book but I wasn't in love with it so I was hoping to really love the second. I enjoyed it but again it was not as gripping as I wanted it to be and I didn't care that much about figuring out the murderer. I did not figure out the murderer or the various mysteries and I actually had to reread the chapter again to make sure I fully understood it.

I mostly like Delilah (I'm not a fan of her usage of "y'all," one of my least favorite colloquial phrases). I liked the detective who comes out to investigate the murder, no-nonsense Detective Travis. I loved that there was a character named Eddie (inside family joke).

I loved the bits of Mark Twain trivia as well as quotes from him (my friend and I were really into him in seventh grade so this brought back fun memories.)

Overall: 3.5/5 Not bad but I'm not overly enthusiastic about it. For example, even though it's fairly short I kept checking to see how many pages were left until the mystery was solved.

Friday, April 23, 2010

DWTS Week 5/Glee

DWTS-I don't have that much to say so here's what they danced to for movie night
1. Niecy-"La Bamba"
2. Chad-"The Bare Necessities"
3. Erin-"You Never Can Tell" from Pulp Fiction-so cute-are they dating?
4. Jake-Risky Business; He really is not afraid to look stupid; I guess that's a requirement for being on reality shows.
5. Pamela-"9 to 5"
6. Kate-The Breakfast Club
7. Nicole-Pretty Woman; I do love this song
8. Evan and Anna-My favorites saved for last! They dance to "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"
And...Kate is gone!!!!!

I am not a big fan of Madonna but I loved this music stuffed episode! I almost always feel like musicals can have more songs so this was perfect for me! I haven't been too spoilery: I just want to know what songs are going to be there but not necessarily the context so I didn't know that Kurt and Mercedes would be Cheerios or that Jesse would join New Directions (I couldn't figure out why he was singing with them when the song was released). I missed getting to see Idina Menzel this week but I know she will resurface. I agree with some reviews of the episode I've seen that Vogue would have been better if it had been a surprise.

1. Express Yourself-Glee Girls (Where did Quinn's baby bump go?)
2. Borderline/Open Your Heart-Rachel and Finn
3. Vogue-Sue
4. Like a Virgin-Rachel, Finn, Jesse, and Santana (I did not really hear Will or Emma)
5. 4 Minutes-Kurt and Mercedes and the Cheerios!
6. What It Feels Like For a Girl-Glee Guys (Did not like)
7. Like a Prayer-New Directions (Where did that choir come from?)
Bonus: Burning Up-Jesse

And next week Kristin is back!!!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Dutton, 2009
196 pages
YA; Contemporary

Summary: Mia has a basically average life until one terrible morning when she's in a car accident. As her body lies in the ICU, she thinks over her life and tries to decide if she should stay...

Thoughts: While I had seen this book mentioned on many blogs, I did not really know what it was about. I thought it was about an abusive relationship where she couldn't decide to stay or go or her decision to go to a college across the country. Imagine my surprise when the main character is in a car crash that leaves her in intensive care and her parents dead! This was especially hard for me because I always worry about my family getting into an accident so it hit close to home for me.

I loved that Mia was a cellist (although viola is obviously the best instrument!) and that music was such a big part of the novel. It ponders big questions about death: will she be reunited with her family in the afterlife? What exactly happens to her? Will her living family be able to cope if she does die? I tend to read lighter novels that don't deal with this so that was certainly a change.

Reader Warning: There is some language, some peeks at the intimate relationship of Mia and Adam, and casual underage drinking.

Overall: I don't know how I feel about this. I haven't given it a rating yet and I don't know if I will be able to. I'm not sure if I want to read the impending sequel or if I would recommend it to anyone. I guess I'm not thrilled about it but I don't hate it. I'm sorry it's not much of a review but I didn't have strong feelings about this when I first finished it or even now a week later.

Edited: I'm giving it a 3.5/5 although I am still ambivalent.

To clarify: imagining losing my family=emotionally devastating; everything else about this book=decidedly meh.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig
Dutton, 2010
401 pages
Historical; Romance
Sixth in Series

Why I Read: I had read the previous books in the series and while I was disappointed in the last one (Night Jasmine), I wanted to continue.

Summary: Lady Frederick Staines, nee Penelope Deveraux, is in India trying to move past the gossip about her marriage and following her husband to his new appointment. Captain Alex Reid is frustrated that he has to babysit the Staines' on their journey to their new home. But Penelope intrigues him beyond all imaginings. Throw in French agitators, local warlords, and the spy Marigold for a new installment in Willig's popular Pink Carnation series!

Spoilers if you have never read a romantic novel.

Review: I was intrigued with the setting of India as the previous books were set in England and I've become more interested in Asia in general after my study in Singapore. It was not as detailed as I could have desired because the focus is more on character and the machinations of the spy, who is lamer than the first spies. But I loved the characters. Apparently Penelope was in previous books although I don't really remember her (She's friends with Henrietta.) She's talented, quite able in multiple languages, athletic, and determined, which is one of my favorite characteristics in a a character (I guess it's something I wish I had more of).

I spent a great deal of time wondering when her husband would die. He obviously had to die as he is barely mentioned in the book flap while Alex gets his own paragraph and divorce would not be an option. And he is a JERK! Believe me, you will want him to die as well! Alex is pretty great. I loved his family connections although we don't get to meet most of them, just heard about them. I really liked that he was devoted to his family and of course that he valued Penelope as a person rather than a sexual partner like pretty much every other guy in the book (that's why he's the hero!)

I did not solve the mystery of the Marigold nor of the smaller mysteries that can be traced back to him/her. But again character is the focus so I didn't feel too bad...

There is also the framing story of graduate student Eloise and Pink Carnation descendant Colin who are established as a couple now (yay for them!) and are dealing with some of his family issues. It looks like that will continue in the next book. One quibble, Eloise goes to see the new James Bond film starring...Pierce Brosnan, despite the fact that Daniel Craig has been Bond for quite a while now. I think the books are set in the year when the first one came out but I still found that jarring.

Overall: 4.5 out of 5. If you were disappointed with the previous book, like I was, give this one a shot. It's filled with lots of sparks between the romantic couple.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Love Off-Limits

Love Off-Limits by Whitney Lyles
Simon Pulse, 2009
268 pages
YA; Contemporary

Summary: Natalie has been with Jeremy for a while but lately something feels wrong. Why does she feel like that? And why does Jeremy's best friend Matt seem so appealing?

Thoughts: I had so much trouble reading this book; I don't really like the concept (this bodes ill for when I finally get my hands on The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott). I hated reading her anguished feelings-so boring. Basically I did not like Natalie; Matt was not at all cute like some of the other Simon Pulse heroes have been because he had a distinct lack of development. Her parents were sketchily defined as was the rest of her family. Her friends were okay although not to put people in a box but Vincent sounds gay which might not end well.

Notes for people who've read it:
-I mostly loved Dragon Guy-she whines about his answers because they call her on her crappy behavior and she seems to want someone to tell her what to do and wave a magic wand so no one's feelings are hurt.
-"Natalie was not the kind of person who could go for her boyfriend's best friend" (not the exact quote but close enough)-actually you are and you are a boring character and an awful person.
-Of course Jeremy was already interested in Brianna and so it's a mutual breakup so no one's "the bad guy." Of course.
-p. 263-Jeremy and Brianna dress up as a nurse and doctor respectively; because of course only women can be nurses (and of course they'll wear lipstick and have big boobs) and only men are doctors.
-Who eats cheese fries AND ranch dressing? How many flavors do you need in your food? How many calories?

Overall: 2/5 I did not like it and do not recommend unless you are a completist!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren

The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren by Wendy Toliver
Simon Pulse, 2007
280 pages
YA; Contemporary

Summary: Roxy is a band geek with a crush on a football player. On her sixteenth birthday, she is transformed in to a siren, with males willing to fulfill her every whim. She has only two rules: 1. She can't tell anyone she is a siren; 2. She cannot fall in love. But is that the life she wants?

Thoughts: This is quite different from the other Simon Pulse books because it has a fantasy element-I don't remember that in any others. I mostly liked Roxy although I could see problems coming up because of the siren thing as well as many of the other things that would pop up so it is quite predictable. The second part moves away from the summary on the back as Roxy has to grapple more seriously with the two rules. I personally have serious moral qualms about using the powers of the siren (she forces her brother to do her chores for her; she gets her dad to let her use a very expensive Porsche; she gets untold free things; and she cheats to get her driver's license) but I still liked Roxy despite her serious lacking in moral scruples because she does make mostly good decisions.

Overall: 3.5 out of 5. Average.

Cover: I love the dress and I like that the green eyes are like that described.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Nine Tailors

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers
Harbrace Paperbound Library, 1962
Originally published 1934
310 pages
Mystery; Series

Summary: Another Lord Peter Wimsey mystery involving campanology and the intricate happenings of a small town.

Thoughts: I actually had meant to request Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart but somehow I mixed the two up (hey they both have nine in the tile and I had prioritized both!) I enjoyed the short stories I read earlier in the year but I felt that the mystery was not necessarily a priority to the Lord Peter stories; instead character takes preference. I also thought the title referred to the trade but it is actually about bells as you can tell by the cover.

I had a lot of trouble with this book-the mystery was somewhat confusing (and, no I didn't solve it). To be honest, I don't even feel up to summarizing this book hence the short sentence. There was WAY too much about bell-ringing and the workings of the Church of England. Perhaps if you lived during that time and were involved in one or the other, it would have been interesting to you. According to the internet, the method of death could not have occurred but I don't know much about that.

I did enjoy hanging out with Peter some more though and I wish there had been more Bunter, his butler. He's so deliciously dry! The rector of the place was also delightful in his absentmindedness and relationship with his wife. But I didn't care that much about solving the murder mystery which is not good for a mystery story.

Overall: 2.5 out of 5. Very disappointing but it will not stop me from reading the others.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

DWTS Week 4/Glee

DWTS: Actually I didn't think much of this week's episode although I did predict that Aiden would be the one to go. So I don't really want to talk about it.

Instead I will talk about the return of Glee!
I was so excited that Glee returned! I'm just going to ask some questions based on my immediate thoughts after the show; they won't make sense unless you've seen it.
  • Why was Rachel so insistent on her pairing with Finn-doesn't she know they're in high school and they don't have to hurry anything?
  • Where is Quinn living-did she move in with Puck because surely Finn kicked her out?
  • How good does Idina Menzel look post-pregnancy?
  • How cute is Jonathan Groff as Jesse?
  • What storyline is Terri going to get? [I really like her; not a Wemma fan]
  • Sue and Brittany-comic standouts!
  • Did you like Sue's "Vogue" video? I'm not a fan of Madonna so it didn't really work for me.
  • Why does Kurt walk away during "Gives You Hell"? Is he angry about Rachel and Finn's (non)relationship?
1. Hello I Love You-Finn
2. Gives You Hell-Rachel and Glee Club-my favorite
3. Hello-Rachel and Jesse
4. Highway to Hell-Vocal Adrenaline
5. Hello Goodbye-New Directions
*Gives You Hell was an informal performance while Hello Goodbye was onstage so I classified them differently.*

Friday, April 16, 2010

Perfect Shot

Perfect Shot by Debbie Rigaud
Simon Pulse, 2009
281 pages
YA; Contemporary

Summary: London loves volleyball but she takes the opportunity to sign up for a modeling contest in order to spend more time with hottie Brent. While her first goal is to win his heart, the cash prize would be helpful for the volleyball camp she wants to attend.

Why I Read: Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy! How could I *not* read this?

My Thoughts: I really liked London; she had a good head on her shoulders, very determined but able to have fun as well. I liked her instant crush on Brent and her struggles to feel like a girly-girl who could model. I liked reading a book about a sporty girl because I feel like there aren't that many (Authors write what they know/what the audience wants and in large part that's nerdy, quiet girls, of which I am one.) I did hate her for being super tall because I have always wanted to be tall (5'10'' was the goal) and I'm super jealous. I liked her friend Pam and her parents, who played minor roles.

One problem was the relatively low stakes. There was not as much of a conflict in this as there have been in other Simon Pulse books and I did expect something more dramatic. However what was there was satisfyingly handled.

Overall: 4 out of 5. Not my favorite Simon Pulse but worthwhile if you like the series.

Cover: Of course I love this! The main character plays volleyball (Hence outfit) while her love interest is a photographer (hence picture) and both of these explain the title.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Frankly My Dear I'm Dead

Frankly My Dear, I'm Dead by Livia J. Washburn
Kensington Books, 2008
213 pages
Mystery, 1st in series

Summary: Delilah Dickinson has set up a tour agency where people can come and explore the Atlanta of Gone with the Wind. At a recreation of Tara, the actor playing Rhett Butler is killed. Consequently everyone on the tour and all of the other actors are suspects unless Delilah can figure it out.

Why I Read: I really liked the title and I'm still somewhat obsessed with mysteries so I requested it from the library.

My Thoughts: To start with, I did not figure out the murderer although I did figure out that it was a very dumb idea to go and confront that murderer instead of relying on the police who are right there. Everything happens very quickly: the whole story takes place over three days, which was interesting. I've read some mysteries where it takes weeks for everything to come together. I also enjoyed the GWTW tidbits there although the description of the book made me think there would be more.

Overall: 3.5 out of 5. It's not that it wasn't good but it wasn't great and it was not gripping beyond the ordinary call of finding out who the murderer was. I have requested the second book Huckleberry Finished and hope to read that before school ends.

Cover: I do love GWTW but the faces here are really creepy to me. This Delilah is no Vivien Leigh.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Match Made in High School

A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker
Razorbill, 2009
278 pages
YA; Contemporary

Summary: Fiona's high school has made a marriage ed class mandatory for graduation! Will she be paired with her hot crush Gabe? No, instead it's jerk Todd Harding while his girlfriend Amanda is paired with Gabe. Then her best/only friend Marcie is paired with Johnny Mercer, who may or may not like Fiona. Can they make it through the year?

Why I Read: I saw good reviews and won a swag pack for it.

My Thoughts: I really liked the characters, even when they were infuriating. Every character pretty much had at least a mini story which we got to follow and deepen our understanding of them. Fiona and Todd had such fun banter (to read); it's how I wish I could be. In some ways books give me unrealistic expectations because almost always people have fantastic comebacks whereas in real life I pretty much never have a comeback :-(

I also loved Fi's relationship with her sitting charge Sam who provides an important lesson to Fi regarding friendship when her friend Marcie is an absolutely crappy friend (I'm not saying Fi was always a great friend but you just don't do that; Marcie was a way worse friend-can't say why, too spoilerly). It was just a funny book and a VERY quick read.

I do think it's dumb for a school to institute a yearlong, mandatory for graduation course without having tested it first so the whole concept is shaky to me but it's so much fun that I didn't mind plus Fiona's mom challenges it.

Reader Warning: I thought there was a lot of swearing; I'm not saying that's not accurate for high school (because in my experience it is) but I didn't like it much.

Overall: 4.5 out of 5. Slightly disappointed in language and Marcie but highly recommended!

Cover: Cute-I love the different faces and expressions describing the high school experience.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Template

I was inspired by a post at Pure Imagination to do a little work on my blog. At some point I would like to have a custom designed header but for now I am sticking with the freebies. I love polka dots so I really like this. I am also going to keep experimenting to figure out what I like and want and what I don't. Please bear with me as I go through this!

House Rules

House Rules by Jodi Picoult
Atria Books, 2010
532 pages

Summary: Jacob has Asperger's syndrome and an obsession with forensic analysis. When his social skills tutor is found dead, Jacob ends up the prime suspect. His mother Emma and his brother Theo are caught up too wondering if he could have done it...

Why I Read: I've enjoyed Jodi Picoult since I read My Sister's Keeper so I haunted the library until this was put on the shelves.

My Thoughts: While I read Handle With Care and Nineteen Minutes, I didn't like them that much; it felt more obligatory. I loved House Rules though. I feel like autism in general has become such an important topic as some parents refuse to vaccinate and blame vaccinations for causing autism which creates conditions for possible pandemics* so I liked learning a little bit more about it (I realize that I will have to read more extensively to understand better but this provided a window for me to peek in.)

I really liked the characters, which is very important to me in a book. One thing I love in fictional characters is when they can spout off random facts, such as that one intern on Bones and Jacob who knows basically everything about whatever he becomes obsessed with. I loved Emma, a single mother struggling to care for Jacob and in the process somewhat ignoring Theo. I did not like Theo as much (he has a habit of breaking in to houses) but his feelings toward his brother reflected some of the feelings I've felt toward my neurotypical (ie "normal") sister so an accurate description of sibling relations. I also liked their lawyer Oliver, whose first case this basically is.

Overall: 4.5 out of 5. I loved this and found it much better than the last couple of Picoult books although it did not make me cry like Sister.

Title: Very important to the mystery.

Cover: I think it's really cute although the boy ought to be a teenager in order to accurately reflect the story.

*I've read about recent increases in outbreaks of measles and other illnesses that had been basically eradicated by vaccinations and the threat of pandemic is terrifying to me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blog Award!

So it has taken forever for me to post this but I received two awards from Maggie at Bibliophilia. Thank you so much!

Here are the rules: Thank & link to the person that gave you the award.

Pass this award onto 15 bloggers you’ve recently discovered and think are fantastic

Contact the blogs and let them know they’ve won.

State 7 things about yourself.


1. I love Orville Redenbacher Movie Theater Butter Popcorn.

2. I'm very punctual, as in if you show up "on time," I will still consider you late because you should have been at least five minutes early.

3. I think my favorite genre at the moment is mystery even though I usually can't figure it out.

4. I've been playing the viola for thirteen years.

5. I love romantic comedies, even when they're crap; sometimes even because of how crappy they are.

6. I'm going to Europe for the first time this summer with my younger sister.

7. I was obsessed with the Baby-Sitters Club books from about the ages of 6 to 12 (and I still read them even now)

Ten Things That Make Me Happy:

1. When the sky is this one particular shade of blue; it is so gorgeous (and it is that color as I write this)
2. My family-love them, am pretty much always laughing with them.
3. Reading! Especially when I have just discovered a new author and have an extensive backlist to dive into
4. Being able to quote from one of my favorite books or TV shows or movies or songs
5. Having lots of posts on my google reader because it means I get to read a lot
6. Disney World and Disneyland (going there next week!)
7. Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz-check it out because it's amazing!
8. Yummy food-pizza, popcorn, chocolate, etc
9. Solving the crossword puzzle (I can usually do Monday and Tuesday for the NY Times but not usually the other days)
10. Finishing all of my homework

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I did a little bit of editing to my blog by adding pages to the top. I have highlights from my massive want to read list (there are at least 1000 books on it); I have a complete list of reviewed books through March; and I have my fill-in-the-gaps challenge page so I don't always have to be searching for it through my archives. Please check them out and let me know what you think!

DWTS Week 3

1. Evan and Anna were SO adorable this week; admittedly the quickstep is my favorite dance so I may be a little biased but it was adorable. Evan is definitely improving and he danced with broken toes, like that's not a big deal. They didn't have much of a story though-she was late and he was waiting for her.
2. Buzz and Ashly: So glad he's gone; must confess that I didn't watch this-sorry!
3. Chelsie and Jake: a little over the top with like every Egyptian cliche in the book but not that bad. Jake seems kind of annoying but I do really like seeing Chelsie so hopefully they'll hang around a little longer.
4. Niecy and Louis: touching story and romantic waltz but not one of my favorites. I like to see her more upbeat.
5. Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl: I feel like Cheryl does really good paso dobles (think of her dance with Gilles which was a big hit although I didn't really like him). There was passion and a story but he's definitely lacking in technique.
6. Pam and Damian: Charo shows up in their clip package-um what?! But I liked her outfit and definitely saw the passion as Pam is very anti-animal cruelty.
7. Aiden and Edyta: thank you producers for showing him throw up last week, definitely something I wanted to see. Didn't much like their quickstep although I liked the color of Edyta's dress.
8. Erin and Maks: Loved it! So dramatic, definitely one of the more interesting waltzes I've seen for this show. Love their rehearsal footage-they're so cute together!
9. Kate and Tony: I like "Paparazzi" although it's not my favorite Lady Gaga song.
10. Derek and Nicole: I did enjoy it with the song ("Anything Goes") and Derek does such amazing choreography but I just don't like Nicole. I'm hoping they'll be kicked off early and dramatically like Sabrina and Mark.

What did you think? Are you happy Buzz is gone, too? Hoping for Kate next week? Does it bother you that I'm posting about DWTS on a book blog? Because I'm probably going to finish out the season unless for some reason the final three are Kate, Aiden, and Nicole-that would be seriously painful to me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Contest Craze!

Many people may know this already but there are some CRAZY-AWESOME contests going on at Princess Bookie's website. There are opportunities for so many people to win some of the hottest releases AND today is a special day with even more contests! So you should definitely head over and see what titles you can win!
Check it out at Princess Bookie!

The Time Machine

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Scholastic, 1978
123 pages
Science Fiction; Classic
FITG Challenge

Summary: The classic story of a man who builds a time machine and travels into a horrifying future.

Why I Read: It was assigned for class but it also overlapped with a personal challenge.

My Thoughts: I didn't really know what to expect but the future that this man goes into is like a capitalist nightmare. The leisured class have degenerated into frolickers while the workers have become blind mole people who feast on them. It was weird. Then he goes even further into the future where pretty much everything is dead. It is certainly not the kind of future I would want to imagine and put down on paper although I am also not a brilliant writer and I'm not aspiring to that.

Overall: 4 out of 5. It's an important book; part of the founding of the genre of science fiction and very interesting in its forecasting of the future but it's not really my type of book. It is however blessedly short (and my copy had largeish font so it's actually even shorter.)

I do kind of want to see the 2002 film with Guy Pearce which is apparently quite altered but also features the very hot Guy Pearce. Has anybody seen it?

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Glee Song!!!

So I'm a big Glee fan and I saw that "Gives You Hell" from episode 14 "Hell-O" was on youtube (can't find it on itunes for some reason; there's probably something wrong with me). Anyway check it out and remember the new episode airs at 9:28 (after American Idol) on Tuesday April 13! I can't wait!

Going Too Far

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Pocket Books, 2009
245 pages
YA; Contemporary

Summary: Meg wants to get out of her crappy little town and she's so very close until a scrap with the law throws her in contact with John, a police officer who plans to never leave that town. Tension!

Why I Read: I saw good reviews of it and I enjoy Jennifer Echols' books.

My Thoughts: I wasn't too sure about this book as I usually prefer good girl/bad boy mashups (I can identify more with the good girl-yeah I'm kind of a goody two shoes) but I do love honorable men and I had a good experience with The Ex Games and I'm craving Endless Summer which doesn't come out until May (can't wait!) so I jumped in. Right off the bat I didn't like Meg or more accurately I didn't approve of her actions and attitude but she's honest and to the point so I started liking her more. She's hanging out with a pothead college dropout when she's arrested by police officer John who I also didn't like at first because she described him as looking maybe 40. He is very brusque and by the book. Then he decides to teach her a lesson by getting her assigned to shadow him to more fully understand the wrongness of her criminality. During they're conversations, there is immense growth and personal reflection (largely on her side since it's from her point of view) and I really appreciated that. There's more I want to say but they would be spoilers. It has a good ending and I recommend it.

Reader Warning: Casual attitude toward sex and some language.

Overall: 4 out of 5. I didn't love it like some bloggers have but I think it is worth reading, especially if you have enjoyed other Echols/want to read a slightly darker YA than usual. Not that this is that dark but compared to what I usually read, it is.

Cover: Not my taste-wish we could see the heroine's blue hair as that's pretty important to the story and I don't think the guy's chin is masculine enough.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Ex Games

The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols,
Simon Pulse, 2009
302 pages
YA; Contemporary

Summary: Hayden and Nick have a history. And when he challenges her to a snowboarding contest, it's her turn to get the upper hand.

Why I Read: I love the Simon Pulse books and Jennifer Echols wrote my favorite, The Boys Next Door.

My Thoughts: Echols writes the most wonderful sexual tension scenes for YA that I've ever read. And Hayden and Nick have some good ones. And they have some good friends who are important parts of the story. I also love Hayden's family. The plot is pretty skimpy but you should know that if you've read any of these books.

Unfortunately the main characters are really stupid. I mean, they are such idiots and it takes them forever to just talk to each other and work out the massive number of issues that they have. Basically Hayden is still freaked out by having broken her leg years before and Nick is the son of tremendously wealthy parents. Why don't people ever talk to each other sensibly?! And Nick's hair sounds like it is too long for my taste but that's a weird thing that I have.

Overall: 4 out of 5 for delicious squishiness.

Cover: I love these covers-they're so distinctive! I'm definitely disappointed that they're changing them because I'm not sure I'll recognize them now.

Other Jennifer Echols: Endless Summer containing The Boys Next Door and a sequel is out May 25th-keep an eye out for it! I know I'm planning to buy it!

Reminder to self of Simon Pulse books I need to read: The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren (missed that one when it came out); Drive Me Crazy; Love Off Limits; Perfect Shot; Hard to Get; At First Sight

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stupid Cupid

Stupid Cupid by Rhonda Stapleton
Simon Pulse, 2009
244 pages
YA; Contemporary
1st in trilogy

Summary: Felicity applies for and gets a job as a cupid. She is assigned to match up couples in her high school. This starts off well enough but when she matches her friend Maya up with three guys (a big no-no), things could turn ugly.

Why I Read: I had seen some reviews of it and I liked the concept.

My Thoughts: I don't know if I've read too much YA lately or if I'm becoming blase but I found this rather predictable and the main character very aggravating. Her attitude toward her job was infuriating-she didn't follow the most basic instructions, she didn't try to read the manual all the way through, and she was very lucky that her boss did not figure out her deceptions and that nothing was ruined through her actions.

On the bright side, I really liked Maya who is torn between three guys because each of them have a little bit in common with her and is unable to make up her heart. I liked Felicity's parents and am interested to learn more about her brother who was very loosely drawn. Then there is their other friend Andy who I think will be matched with someone in the second book. And her crush Derek sounds okay, although he reminds me of Derek from The Swan Princess (not necessarily a bad thing).

Overall: 3.5 out of 5 for an annoying heroine but fun concept and likeable supporting cast.

Cover: I think the cover is cute-simple but eye catching.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Last Illusion

The Last Illusion by Rhys Bowen
Minotaur Books, 2010.
279 pages
Series; Mystery; Historical

Summary: The ninth book in the Molly Murphy, Lady Detective series. Molly is an Irish immigrant in NYC circa 1903. She is engaged to policeman Daniel Sullivan and in this installment is investigating mysterious happenings surrounding the magician Harry Houdini.

Why I Read: I've read many of the previous Molly books and I had not even realized there was a new book so I was very excited.

My Thoughts: While it was mostly enjoyable, I had a few problems. First I'm very angry at Daniel for his "maleness." He keeps insisting that Molly will give up her detective agency when they get married; but then the series will be over! :-( I don't want that to happen. Then, and I realize this is a minor problem, there were multiple times when it was said that theater people sleep late. I don't know why that had to be repeated so much!

I also figured out some aspects of the mystery although not quite everything. I liked the way everything intertwined and the new character Wilkie (I can't explaining why without spoilers). I liked the Houdinis as portrayed by Bowen; obviously it's difficult to discern how accurate the personalities are of historical figures but I hope these are somewhat true.

Overall: 4 out of 5. I was disappointed but it was still good.

Cover: I do like the cover: the colors, getting to see Molly as flesh and blood.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5)

This fantastic meme is hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

Read this past week: (Reviews Forthcoming)

The Last Illusion by Rhys Bowen
Stupid Cupid by Rhonda Stapleton
The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols
Mother of Invention by Drew Gilpin Faust (Civil War book about Southern slaveowning mistresses)
The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Currently Reading:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (yes, still!)
The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig (woot!)
Frankly My Dear I'm Dead by Livia J. Washburn
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers

What are you reading?

I have also fallen behind on my Agatha Christie personal challenge; I think I will pause it until the summer because I know my home library has a large collection of them while my school library has access to loads of titles home library does not (Can I abbreviate them HL and SL not to be confused with my personal collection?) I am also planning to try to read some of the books I own after I finish all of the books I've checked out of the SL.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Dlilithium Press, 1988
Originally 1908
240 pages
Children's; Classic

Summary: Matthew and Marilla decide to adopt a boy but instead they get a voluble little girl named Anne. This book follows Anne from youth to adulthood, with her various scrapes and triumphs.

Why I Read: This is a classic and I felt bad that I had never read it so when I was browsing for books in the library, I decided to see if they had it and they did!

My Thoughts: I fell in love with Anne-what a fun child! I totally would want to be Diana and get to hang out with her (I'm not talkative enough to be Anne!) One problem was I could usually only read a few chapters at a time because Anne overwhelmed me. But just what a good book! I cried several times but I laughed so much more. I'm so in love with Gilbert although I know have to read the rest of the books for that to further develop (at the end they're just friends).

One question: did I read this right in that Anne is going to be a teacher at 16? That's crazy-I don't think any of my friends could be teachers yet and we're three-five years older! How things were different!

Overall: 5 out of 5. One of my top picks for what I read in March and something I've already recommended to some of my friends and will continue to do.

Cover: The picture is actually the back cover because Gilbert looks hot! And Anne's hair is very pretty.

Recommended: to everyone! But especially people who like the Betsy books by Maud Hart Lovelace; I feel like they're somewhat similar only this is set in Canada.

Happy Easter!

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." -Romans 6:8-11

Have a glorious Easter!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

DWTS Thoughts

1. I haven't watched the last couple of seasons of DWTS but this season it drew me back. Why? Partly Shannen Doherty and she's already gone! But she would have been dancing with Corky Ballas rather than Mark and I still have bad associations of him with Cloris Leachman (who I despised on this show) so maybe it's good that she's gone. I'm sure her dad is proud of her.

2. I also like Pamela Anderson (I loved Baywatch-mostly because of David Hasselhoff; not sure if this was inappropriate viewing for a roughly five to six year old but if there was it probably went over my head). I like her partner too with his Australian accent and she's done pretty well.

3. I'm really liking Erin with Maks (I've never been a fan of his) They're so cute. I don't know if they're dating (and I'm not suggesting that they are because this is not a gossip site) but I would be in support of that.

4. My new favorite is Evan Lysacek with Anna Trebunskaya (whose name should be said ONLY by Tom Bergeron). If I remember to vote (because I can't watch the show live and so sometimes forget), I would vote for him. I'm hoping he can follow in the footsteps of Kristi and Apolo (and if you were a huge fan of Apolo and Julianne as I was, their episodes are currently on hulu if you want to relive the fun) and give Anna her first win (cos she SO wants it!)

5. I appreciate the patriotism of Buzz Aldrin but it is painful to watch him and I want him gone.

6. While I supported Kate Gosselin because Jon's a total tool, I don't like her and I don't want her on my TV (and by support I mean I've called Jon a tool and refrained from insulting Kate during their divorce). I'm not a big Tony fan but I feel sorry for him. I love how in some cases, fans care more about the pros than the stars (and I feel like I have that too!)

7. I didn't know Niecy Nash before but I really like her. She's pretty funny and she works well with her partner as well as talking about food a lot which is always good in my book.

8. Chad Ochocinco (I just realized his name is his number; that's kind of weird that he changed his name but at least now I will remember how to spell it) I like him and Cheryl together in their clip package-so cute although it looks also kind of distracting how he's flirting and she's trying to instruct. I'm not really a big fan (ew Bengals) but I want to see what they can do.

9. I was so sad to see that Jake Pavelka was paired with Chelsie who has replaced Julianne in my list of favorite pros (OK I still love Julianne) and I don't think she'll go to the top with Jake but hopefully she'll stick around for a while and he looks like a hard worker which will help.

10. Derek is one of my favorite pros (he has amazing choreography; I still remember watching him and Jennie Garth his first season and being in awe) but I am on the anti-Nicole Scherzinger side as she is someone who apparently minored in dance in college and has danced a lot. Derek has won before so I do not mind if he doesn't win this season and I am kind of rooting against them.

11. Aiden Turner is/was on my sister's favorite soap (All My Children although she does not care about his character at all) and he's good looking and all but I've never been very impressed with Edyta's choreography so he's a middle of the packer for me.

List of favorite pros:
1. Julianne (not on this season)
2. Chelsie
3. Anna

List of Favorite Male Pros:
1. Derek
2. Mark
3. Jonathan (not on this season)

Has anyone else been watching DWTS? Do you agree/disagree? Who's your pick for winning/Who do you want to win?

I very much want Evan and Anna and I think they have a good chance but I feel like the competition could go several ways so I have no idea who has the best chance of winning at the moment.

Notorious Royal Marriages

Notorious Royal Marriages
By Leslie Carroll
New American Library, 2010
498 pages
Non-fiction; European

Summary: An examination of notorious royal marriages from Henry and Eleanor to Henry and his six wives to Charles and Diana.

Why I Read: My mom read it and passed it on to me.

My Thoughts: This is a delightfully gossipy history that is far more interesting than every other book I've been assigned to read this semester for history. I was surprised at how many of the couples were love matches! The big thing is that most of the ladies are repurposed from traditional portrayals into thinking, acting feminists in large part. I'm going to talk a little bit about most of the couples mentioned:

Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII and Henry II: I had seen the Katharine Hepburn film The Lion in Winter (and you know the character is awesome if Kate plays her!) but I didn't know all that much about her. Now I very much want to read more both non-fiction and historical fiction about her.

Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville: I read about this couple in Cynthia Harrod-Eagles' The Founding, where the characters were decidedly negative toward them but they were in love and seem to have been generally happy.

FerdinandandIsabella: He is such a tool (as will be explained more in his daughter's chapter) but they seem to have been very much in love and together were powerful Catholic monarchs.

Joanna and Philip: Philip and Joanna's father Ferdinand were such jerks; it got me thinking about portrayals of women through history (she's known as Joanna the Mad).

Arthur and Katherine of Aragon: Not much to say about this couple other than did they or didn't they?

Henry VIII and his wives: Apparently four of them had auburn hair so I guess he had a type and he seems to have been as much in love with five of them as he had the capacity to be (Anne of Cleves alas was not pretty enough to tempt him)

Henri II and Catherine de Medici: Not a love match on his side but she loved him and her role in ruling France was very impressive. She was the daughter of no one important who was then queen and mother of three kings!

Mary, Queen of Scots and her three husbands: Wow, was she in a crappy position.

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette: Apparently her spendthrift ways began before she gave brith and set her reputation for the rest of her life. They also ended up having quite a kind and intimate relationship especially once they were deposed.

George IV, the bigamist, and Maria Fitzherbert and Caroline of Brunswick: I completely understand Jane Austen's antipathy to this man because he is not honorable.

Napoleon and Marie Louise: She was kind of weird. Read it

Victoria and Albert: Obviously this was a love match but one fraught with conflict as Victoria sought to be a traditional wife who submits to her husband (WHY?!) yet cannot submit to anyone besides God as the British monarch.

Franz Joseph and Elisabeth: I read the story of her youth in those Royal Diaries series (Check those out for the 8-10 year old girl in your life.)

Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra: Another love match! I didn't know! Their story is also tragic, I mean beyond their end.

Edward VIII and Wallis: I did not know that they were fascists! I'm actually really glad that he abdicated. What if Edward and Hitler had made some kind of an alliance?!

Overall: 4 out of 5.

Cover: Not sure who that is supposed to be but it fits the style and tone.

Can anyone recommend any enjoyable books, nonfiction or historical, about any of the couples?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials

Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials
By Rosalind Wiseman
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2010
279 pages
YA; Contemporary

Summary: Charlie had an awful time in middle school so she is determined to have a drama-free high school. She makes friends at her new school, including meeting up again with the newly hot Will. But a hazing situation tests her loyalties to him, to the school, and to what's right.

Why I Read This: I had seen this book around and saw that it was available in my library system so I requested it.

My Thoughts: I guess I would classify this more as young YA because the main character is 14 and just seems really young. The topic is important (mean girls-Sugarland song!; hazing; peer pressure) but it didn't really work as a fiction book for me. I should have written this earlier because I don't remember that much from it. Overall lackluster for me. Luckily I was not highly anticipating it or I would have been very disappointed.

Overall: 3.5 out of 5. At times I was intensely aware that the author of this book had written nonfiction books dealing with similar topics.

Cover/Blurb: I think the cover is really cute and pretty appropriate. I wanted to mention the blurbs because Tina Fey (who adopted one of Wiseman's books into Mean Girls, which I totally want to watch again now!) and Meg Cabot (YA goddess) wrote the two on the back. I don't think it's as funny as they made it out to be but what recommendations!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Stats

Books Read: 24
Favorite: SO hard-I read a lot of good books; Redeeming Love, Shades of Grey; Anne of Green Gables
Least Favorite: A People's History of the United States or The Languages of Political Islam (Both assigned for school)
Longest: George Lucas' Blockbusting at 901
Shortest: The Time Machine at a tiny 128

Total Books for Year: 68
Total Pages for Year: 23576

Plans for April: I'm reading Wuthering Heights and I hope to read Wide Sargasso Sea to complete the Bronte challenge; I'm thinking about doing the Readathon on April 10th but have not yet officially decided. I hope to read more Anne books and more mysteries in the series I've started.

Challenge Updates: I've read one book for each of my challenges so hopefully I will continue to work on them!

Overall: I had a fantastic March-I read so many GREAT books that even the bad ones just fade away under their memory!
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