Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Publisher: Pocket (May 12, 2009)
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips
Publisher: Pocket (February 19, 2008)
Claire Donovan always dreamed of visiting Venice, though not as a chaperone for a surly teenager. But she can't pass up this chance to complete her Ph.D. thesis on Alessandra Rossetti, a mysterious courtesan who wrote a secret letter to the Venetian Council warning of a Spanish plot to overthrow the Venetian Republic in 1618. Claire views Alessandra as a heroine and harbors a secret hope that her findings will elevate Alessandra to a more prominent place in history. But an arrogant Cambridge professor is set to present a paper at a prestigious Venetian university denouncing Alessandra as a co-conspirator -- a move that could destroy Claire's paper and career.
As Claire races to locate the documents that will reveal the courtesan's true motives, Alessandra's story comes to life with all the sensuality, political treachery, and violence of seventeenth-century Venice. Claire also falls under the city's spell. She is courted by a handsome Italian, matches wits with her academic adversary, bonds with her troubled young charge, and, amid the boundless beauty of Venice, recaptures the joy of living every moment....
I've always enjoyed historical fiction, but up until this year I've never really made the time to read it. With some of the challenges I'm doing this year I've made the time and have discovered some great books, and The Rossetti Letter is one of them.
I actually started this book before my vacation, got about halfway through, and then left it behind as it was a hardback and I prefer to travel with paperbacks. I wish I had made an exception and taken it with me though. I couldn't wait to see how it ended and missed the story the entire time I was gone.
Claire Donovan is a wonderful character. She is honest, hardworking, smart, but still completely believable. Things don't always go like she planned. Sometimes she puts her foot in her mouth and embarrasses herself. This lack of pretension really endeared her to me.
I also love historical fiction that alternates from the past to present and The Rossetti Letter was no exception. Usually, though, I have a favorite time period and this time I couldn't decide between the past or present. Each time the perspective would change I would think it was my favorite. Then it would change back and I would change my mind again.
The Rossetti Letter pulled me in right from the beginning and I loved it all the way through. I've already started The Devlin Diary and can't wait for more Claire Donovan. 4.5 stars
Friday, June 26, 2009
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Publisher: Graphia (September 21, 2005)
Friday, June 19, 2009
Paperback: 320 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
As the novel unfolds - alternating between Ella's story and that of Isabelle du Moulin four hundred years earlier - a common thread emerges that unexpectedly links the two women. Part detective story, part historical fiction, The Virgin Blue is a novel of passion and intrigue that compels readers to the very last page.
I really enjoy historical fiction and have been trying to read more of it of this year. I had this book on my shelf for a while and when it got requested from me on Paperback Swap, I made time to read it before I mailed it out.
I really enjoy historical fiction that moves back and forth from past to present as The Virgin Blue does. Ella is trying to find out more about her relatives and the narrative moves between times, giving you a glimpse into the lives of the ancestors she is trying to learn about. There is also a bit of a mystery surrounding her family and this adds another layer instead of being strictly a historical fiction book.
The Virgin Blue started a little slow for me. The parts of the book set in the past revolved around the religious feelings of the times and this isn't an area I know much about. Once I got to know the characters a little better I found it more enjoyable. The book usually changes time periods each chapter, up until the very end of the book. Then, the shift between the times happen more frequently. This really helped build suspense toward an exciting ending. 3.5 stars
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sleep Toward Heaven by Amanda Eyre Ward
Publisher: Harper Perennial (February 17, 2004)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Friday, June 12, 2009
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Format: Audio CD
Publisher: Brilliance Audio (June 25, 2005)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
But then there are books that only YOU read. Instructional manuals for fly-fishing. How-to books for spinning yarn. How to cook the perfect souffle. Rebuilding car engines in three easy steps. Dog training for dummies. Rewiring your house without electrocuting yourself. Tips on how to build a NASCAR course in your backyard. Stuff like that.
What niche books do YOU read?
I don't really read any how-to books, but one genre that I love, and is a little out of the ordinary, is travel memoirs. I was fortunate enough to have been able to travel quite a bit with my family in my teens, and I loved it. Now, I don't have the time or the financial ability to travel like I would want to. So I do my traveling vicariously.
I love to read about people's adventures in far-away places. I especially enjoy books where the author immerses themselves in the culture, without trying to change the locals. One book that comes to mind in the genre that was wonderful is Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman. If anyone has any recommendations for great travel memoirs I would love to hear them!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse (April 24, 2007)
There's a difference between falling and letting go.
Lauren has a good life: decent grades, great friends, and a boyfriend every girl lusts after. So why is she so unhappy?
It takes the arrival of Evan Kirkland for Lauren to figure out the answer: She's been holding back. She's been denying herself a bunch of things (like sex) because staying with her loyal and gorgeous boyfriend, Dave, is the "right" thing to do. After all, who would give up the perfect boyfriend?
But as Dave starts talking more and more about their life together, planning a future Lauren simply can't see herself in -- and as Lauren's craving for Evan, and moreover, who she is with Evan becomes all the more fierce -- Lauren realizes she needs to make a choice...before one is made for her.
I've heard great things about Elizabeth Scott's book Living Dead Girl (which I still haven't read). I was excited to read Bloom because it sounded so different from Living Dead Girl. There were lots of things I liked about Bloom, but I didn't think it was amazing.
Lauren is a completely realistic character, and I can see a lot of me in her. She feels like she has to do the "right" thing whether or not that is what she wants. She is torn, and because of this makes some decisions that I didn't particularly like. While I may not have always liked Lauren actions, they were completely understandable and honest.
Dave, Lauren's boyfriend, is supposed to be the perfect guy. Handsome, popular, perfect...and incredibly boring. I found him to be very flat, one dimensional and completely uninteresting. Apparently his kind perfection just isn't for me. Evan was a much more interesting character as he had a bit of an edge.
I found all of the characters relationships with their parents interesting. Some parents were super involved and others basically non-existent. Bloom also shows that the side of your friends you see at school may not give you a good picture of what goes on at home. Overall, a good book, but nothing amazing. 3 stars
Monday, June 8, 2009
True Colors by Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (February 3, 2009)
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Publisher: Berkley (June 2, 2009)
Ok, I have to admit...I generally don't read cozies or paranormals, so you would think this book would be completely unappealing to me. For some reason the description caught my eye and I thought I would give it a try. I'm really glad that I did. Angel's Advocate is the second installment in the Beaufort & Company series. The mixture of southern charm, the quirky cast of characters and suspense really works.
Since I don't usually read paranormals I was afraid there would be an overwhelming amount of unbelievable things happening. I didn't want this to be distracting as that's not my usual cup of tea. Overall, this wasn't the case. There were a few things (like the slime) that didn't really work for me, mostly because I just have a hard time believing in it, but I found the angels and their "extra" space around Savanna very fun.
My favorite part of this book, by far, was the eccentric and funny cast of angels sent to help Bree out. They range from a Russian paralegal, to a fashion conscious secretary, to a buff PI/bodyguard. The characters often had me laughing or shaking my head, but they were always entertaining.
I prefer my mysteries to be a little more hard core. Blood and guts don't bother me at all. While this wasn't my usual mystery book, I enjoyed this part of the story. However, I didn't find the mystery as compelling as the characters were.
Since this is only the second book in the series, I would recommend starting with the first book, Defending Angels. This book really helped set the stage and set up all the relationships between the characters. 3.5 stars
Be sure to visit the blog tour page and check out the other reviews, guests posts and author interviews.
Mary Stanton is giving away a signed copy of her book, Angel’s Advocate, to one lucky tour visitor. Go to Mary’s book tour page, http://mary-stanton.omnimystery.com/, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 5546, for your chance to win. Entries from Shhh I'm Reading will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Mary’s book tour page next week.
Friday, June 5, 2009
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (September 26, 2006)
I enjoyed this fun finding yourself story. I am insanely jealous of the trip Ginny took in the book, but thought she was a little too rigid in following her aunts instructions. I think she missed out on experiencing the great places she got to go because she was so set on completing the next task. Still a fun book though.
Resistance by Anita Shreve
Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Back Bay Books; (January 1, 1997)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
I usually really enjoy Shreve's books but this one fell a little flat for me. I found myself more angry than sympathetic with the characters. I also wanted to know more about the Resistance movement and less about the forbidden relationship.
Defending Angels by Mary Stanton
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (December 2, 2008)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
This book is a complete departure from what I usually read, but I found a fun change of pace. The characters are zany and very entertaining, and this is a great start to a new series. Check back tomorrow for my full review of the second book in the series, Angel's Advocate, and a giveaway!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”
Wow, this is a little harder than I thought it would be...
1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
2. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
3. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
4. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
5. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
6. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
7. Forever . . . by Judy Blume