Monday, January 31, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. The idea is to share what books you got your hands on in the last week.

I don't get too many new books- maybe one a week- if even. Mostly I've been pulling off the giant TBR pile that lives in my library. This week though- this week I got 4 new books! Two from the library, one more out of the "for free" bin and one from fellow blogger MA. So I consider it a good week. I was hoping to do an IMM video for today, but the new computer (complete with webcam) didn't get here in time- so I'm hoping for another good haul next week so I can try it out!

So here's what I got this week (I've already 3 out of 4 of them)

Fixing Delilah
Sarah Okler

Things in Delilah Hannaford’s life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can’t seem to keep it together anymore. Her “boyfriend” isn’t much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family’s painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again? (from

Please Ignore Vera Dietz
A.S. King

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Jane Austen

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?

Memento Nora
Angie Smibert

A teen struggles to hold onto her memories-and her identity-in a world that wants everyone to forget-and keep on shopping. Three dynamic teens come together to create a comic book of their memories. (from

Review- Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

This is another book that I reviewed for Eve's Fan Garden. It's a phenomenal book and I wanted to cross-post here so that I can get the word out. If you haven't spent time with Vera yet, get on it, you won't be dissapointed.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz
By: A.S. King
Publisher: Knopf books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Author Website

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to? (from

I love this book. I got it out from the library, but you can bet it will be in my bag the next time I'm at the bookstore. It's ownable. It gets under your skin and makes you uncomfortable and yet, you connect with the characters and you really want all of them to be okay in the end. Even if one of those people is already dead.

King is sneaky with her writing, she doesn't come at you from one point of view or even one point in time. She circles around you and before you know it you've reached the end. She's able to take serious situations and make you laugh, even when it might be more appropriate to cry. In this book we see events unfold through the eyes of Vera, a pizza delivery technician who is dealing with the loss of her best friend and what to do with the information she knows about that night, Charlie, her very much dead but still around best friend, Vera's Dad, who is struggling to be a good parent and deal with a wife who has been gone for years, and the Pagoda, local icon/hangout. I think the back cover of the book sums it up pretty nicely...

Vera: Clear Charlie's name, get over his death & help Dad with all his Mom stuff.

Charlie: Haunt Vera until she talks, then rest in peace.

Ken Dietz: Get Vera through high school & get on with my life, or what's left of it.

Pagoda: Sit here for another hundred years watching people do stupid crap.

In those four sentences we see the path that they are on, what the end goal is, what they want. Through the story we see how they got there. It's a tangled story that deals with some hefty issues. Child abuse, alcoholism, pedophilia, mental disorders, ptsd, what it means to be a good parent and what it means to be a good person. We see Vera try to deal with the death of her best friend Charlie and the loss that occured months earlier when he betrayed her. Both Charlie and Vera were trying to break the chain, to make a new destiny for themselves. Throughout the story, which includes memories from Charlie and Vera's life together as best friends, we see them stumble, sometimes spectacularly. What we hope is that Vera will come out of it better and smarter and most importantly, healed. Luckily King writes with a sense of humor that doesn't make light of the issues at hand, but does make them easier to read.

I don't want to give anything away- so I will leave it at that. It's about pain and loss, hope and healing. I guarentee you will be thinking about it days after you finish reading.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: The Revenant by Sonia Gensler

The Revenant
: Sonia Gensler
Release Date: June 2011
Author Website

When Willie arrives in Indian Territory, she knows only one thing: no one can find out who she really is. To escape a home she doesn't belong in anymore, she assumes the name of a former classmate and accepts a teaching job at the Cherokee Female Seminary.

Nothing prepares her for what she finds there. Her pupils are the daughters of the Cherokee elite—educated and more wealthy than she, and the school is cloaked in mystery. A student drowned in the river last year, and the girls whisper that she was killed by a jealous lover. Willie's room is the very room the dead girl slept in. The students say her spirit haunts it.

Willie doesn't believe in ghosts, but when strange things start happening at the school, she isn't sure anymore. She's also not sure what to make of a boy from the nearby boys' school who has taken an interest in her—his past is cloaked in secrets. Soon, even she has to admit that the revenant may be trying to tell her something. . .
(from goodreads)

This was an interesting book for me. I was originally drawn to the book because it dealt with Indian Territory during the late 1800's which was my field of study for years and still one of my major interests. I hadn't studied the Cherokee alot, so I was really interested in reading about this piece of history. For the most part it was great.

We see our leading lady Willie run away from school to become a teacher at the Girls Seminary School instead of going home to take care of her family. She technically hasn't even graduated herself so she is inexperienced and younger then her senior class students. We see her trying to be a great teacher, inspire her students, and keep her own secret.

The mystery end of the story was wonderful. Haunted by a ghost, the girls at the school experience different levels of ghost encounters, from the simple tap, tap on a window to full fledged attacks that leave girls with broken bones. Convinced they must solve the mystery of Ella's death, Willie and fellow teacher hold seance's and do some digging of their own. When a second body turns up, the mystery is blown wide open and Willie's life is in danger, and her own secret is revealed. A huge bonus for Gensler is that I didn't realize who the killer really was until she revealed it, which is a really hard thing to do. I didn't even really suspect the actual killer, although when it was finally revealed, and I really thought about it, I wasn't overly surprised.

I enjoyed this story, but I felt it was missing alot. I felt like the author merely scratched the surface of what could have been a great story. The book ended with a section of authors notes which revealed some of her research in the Cherokee and the Seminary School. I which there was more of that in the actual story. The story made an initial point of how this was a unique school and that it outrageous for Willie to travel there on her own, but once there the story could have really taken place at any school, with any kids. We see Willie's ignorance to the culture of the Cherokee a few times, but the awkwardness doesn't last and she doesn't seem all that effected by the fact that the chool she teaches at is helping to wipe out an entire culture. A few student express this briefly, but again, it's quickly passed by. I wish we has seen more clearly the way Willie was a fish out water, both as a girl posing as a teacher and as a white woman in the Cherokee Nation.
In the end this is a great mystery, but left me feeling as though the rest of the story could have been so much better. I think the fact that I was expecting more of the Native American history that I really enjoy tainted my opinion of the book to an extent. It just didn't live up to my expectations.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review: The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

As noted in a previous post, I also review for Eve's Fan Garden, this book (which is fabulous) I just finished up as part of a blog tour. So head on over to EFG to see all my thoughts!

The Memory Palace
By: Mira Bartok
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Book website

Mira Bartok spent seventeen years hoping that her mother, Norma Herr, would never find her. A severe case of schizophrenia caused Norma to obsess over her daughters' lives- calling them fifty times a day or more, appearing unannounced at their jobs and homes, threatening them if they suggested that she gets treatment for her illness. After Norma violently attacked her daughters when they insisted she get help, Mira and her sister decided that they must change their names and cut off all contact in order to stay safe.

During nearly two decades that they spent apart, Mira traveled the world, exploring the ancient romance of Florence, the eerie mysticism of northern Norway, the raw desert of Israel- but she could not completely abandon her past. As Mira struggled to balance her alliance with her sister, her burgeoning art career, and her anguish over losing her mother, she and Norma began exchanging letters through post office boxes.

At age forty, a debilitating car accident left Mira with a terrible brain injury. She could retrain herself to draw and write, but struggle to regain memories. When she learns that her mother has been hospitalized with terminal cancer, Mira and her sister decide to visit Norma before it is too late. In those final weeks, they experience a cathartic reunion that none of them imagined possible, and Mira begins to reconnect with the memories that she feared had been lost. The Memory Palace is a stunning memoir that explores that bond between mother and daughter that cannot be broken no matter how much exists- or is lost- between them.

Teaser Review:
This book is both heartbreaking and full of hope, all at the same time. Which is quite a feat. At the heart of the book is Mira, who is trying to figure out who she was, who she is and who she wants to be. When she and her sister Natalia return home to be with their mother, Norma, in her last days, they find a storage locker full of possessions, including their mothers diaries and notebooks. Through these daily entries Mira begins to put the pieces of her past together...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top Ten Tueday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at Broke and Bookish Here is what they have to say: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

This week we are looking for our top ten books that you wish you had read as a kid. This is another hard topic for me because both my parent were teachers, so we read, ALOT. There were books everywhere and I still get at least one children's book every year for Christmas (and my daughter gets several). My library rivals my local library. No joke, my local library blows, but that doen't diminish the fact that my home library is ginormous. Alot of those books are hold overs from when I was a kid. So I really had to think about what books I didn't read when I was a kid.

1. The full Chronicals of Narnia Series: I distinctly remember reading the first two and loving them, but after that I stopped. I don't know why, but I never read The Dawn Treader until the movies came out and I revisted the series.

2. Jumanji- this is another one that I never read until recently. In fact I didn't even know it was a book until I saw it sitting on top of the libary shelf.

3. Into the Looking Glass- Like the Narnia books I read Alice, but never picked up Looking Glass until this past year when it was a featured book at EFG.

4. Little House on the Prairie Series- Now I love these books, but back when I was a kid they just didn't interest me. A girl out on the priarie? Boring. I can't believe I missed out of these as I was kid!

5. Harry Potter- Don't worry, I've read them, but I resisted a good long while before picking them up. They came out when I was in school and for whatever silly reason I was convinced they were for little kids (not mature one's like me). Eventually my Dad convinced e to pick them up, obviously I became hooked just like the rest of the world!

6. The Bridge to Terebitha- this is one that just never struck my interest, but having not read it I feel like I have somehow missed out.

7. Are You There God? It's Me, Margeret.- this is another one that I just didn't read. In fact I can't say I'd ever really heard of it until this past year when alot of censorship issues came to the forefront and this book was being talked about again. I felt like I had clearly missed out on something having never read it!

8. Pippi Longstocking- this is another one that until recently I thought was only a movie. It wasn't until I started book shopping for my daughter that I realized it was also a book- I can't believe I missed out because the movie was one of my all time favorites!

9. The Tales of Despereaux- Yet another one that didn't cross my radar until I saw the movie. It's was an adorable movie, a great book and I think I really would have enjoyed it as a kid.

10. The Hardy Boys- I have no idea why I never read these. I picked them up while working as a teacher aid while my kids were at library time and I was stunned I had never read them. So much fun.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blog Feature: Eve's Fan Garden

So I think many of you know that this is not the only blog I work on. This blog was my first and I'm the only reviewer here- but about a year and half ago I joined TwilightMoms and pretty soon after that began moderating their Book of the Month Club with some fabulous other ladies. That soon expanded into a sister site, Eve's Fan Garden, which does primarily book reviews with awesome awesome chats, contests, interviews and huge events. It has been amazing to be part of that group!

We recently had our 1 year anniversary and in celebration we got a renovation! Our blog has a new look and we also started a forum- I'm so excited to finally be able to take our comment-conversations into the forum setting. There are some great threads already going- like Eve's Literary Travel Guide where you can post pictures from locations that appear in books (i.e. Forks for Twilight), or book/character playlists where you can post the lyrics to songs that remind you of your favorite books or characters. Of course there are also threads to discuss your favorite books, make recommendation as well as a place to talk about the Craft of Writing. I really think it's going to be an amazing place to chat and get to know eachother better!

So if you haven't checked it out yet, go give it a look. I hope to see you over there!

Eve's Fan Garden
Eve's Fan Garden Forum

Review: Fools Crow by James Welch

Fools Crow
By: James Welch

The year is 1870, and Fool's Crow, so called after he killed the chief of the Crows during a raid, has a vision at the annual Sun Dance ceremony. The young warrior sees the end of the Indian way of life and the choice that must be made: resistance or humiliating accommodation. "A major contibution to Native American literature."--Wallace Stegner.

I read alot of YA. Alot. Everyonce in awhile I like to go pick up a book that touches on the subjects I studied while in school- mainly the history of the west. The Indian Wars, the vanishing frontier, the manifest destiny and the wiping out of a whole race of peoples way of life. These things have always interested me and occassionaly I need to step outside the lives of teens and reconnect with that part of myself. So it was with that in mind that I finally picked up Fools Crow- a book which has been on my shelf for probably a year or so.

This was a fabulous book about the end of an era- the one in which the tribes ruled the plains. In this case we follow the rise of Fools Crow as he grows from awkward teen to warrior and leader of the Pikuni (of the Blackfeet). One thing I really enjoyed was seeing the thought process of the tribe as they try to imagine and prepare for the possibilities. They know the white men are coming, they've met with them and signed treaties, they warred with them and killed settlers, but they do not yet know how it will all end. Some want to continue to fight, some think it's best to try to work with the army and settlers. Some, like Fools Crow seem to realize that either way they will lose and that there will be nothing to do about it except continue to try to survive.

The other thing I really enjoyed was that Fools Crow was in training to be the medicine man of sorts to the Pikuni and therefore we get a great look at the way healing and ceremony works for this tribe. I especially loved the dreams that Fools Crow has and how they inform his waking life, as well as his relationship to the real-bear, his totem and protector.

This is an older book- written in 1987, but it holds up. The story is intriguing and pulls you in as you watch a people try to save themselves from what we know is the end of the lives they've always led.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whatcha Thinking Thursday

It's time for Whatcha Thinking Thursday, hosted by me! Here's how it works. Each Thursday I'll simply blog about something book related that's weighing on my mind. Feel free to comment away if you agree or disagree (just keep it clean, okay?), or if you want to post to your site either on the same topic or about whatever it is you're thinking about go right ahead. I just ask that you link back to here. Also, make sure you let me know in the comments if you've participated so we can find you!

Admittedly, it's been a REALLY long time since I posted one of these. Not because I wasn't thinking about anything, but I really really busy with holidays and final exams and projects and all that stuff. Pretty soon months had gone by and I realized I hadn't posted WTT! At any rate- I finished homework early this week and have some time to not only think, but also post about it (YAY!!!)

So this week I'm thinking about those books that you can reread a million times and still love...

I was prompted to post about this because of the Sookie Stackhouse books. I recently read a few heavy YA books (Where She Went was one) and some Historical Fiction that really made me think (hello Fools Crow) and I really just wanted something I could read and enjoy without having to think to much, or cry over. Like a shining beacon of light there was my Sookie books. I've read them 3 or 4 times already and even still, I can read them again and really enjoy the fun that's inside. Plus, and let's be honest here, Eric Northman really can make everything better. Even though I already know how each book will end, I'm somehow still sucked into the story and the fun and the humor that's involved. I watch True Blood when it's on, but for me the books are so much better and I really enjoy revisiting them when the mood strikes. The only problem is, with so many books out in the series, I really can't read just one. Once I get started I have tor ead the whole series, which is great for my books read count, but not so awesome for things like getting housework done. Luckily they are quick reads so I can blow through one a night after the munchkin hit the sack!

There are alot of other books that I enjoy rereading- The Mist's of Avalon, Clan of the Cave Bear, The Berrybender Narratives... but all of those require a degree of effort and thought. So for a fun read, no stress, I think I will always turn to Sookie and Company!

How about you? Are there any books that you can read over and over again, that you turn to when you need to just read for fun?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at Broke and Bookish Here is what they have to say: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

This week we are looking for our top ten most inspirational charecters. This is a hard one for me to answer- which I was surprised about. So I decided to really look at books and charecters that inspired me to go do somemthing, mostly to learn about something new, but in some occassions to actually aquire a new skill. I'm not sure I'll get 10- but here we go....

1. Lady Morgaine- The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
She's tough and independent, she's powerful but still questions herself. She's stuck in a world and a situation that she didn't choose, but she made the best of. I immediately fell in love with this charecter, this version of Morgan le Fey (my daughter is even named Morgan).

What she inspired me to do: No joke- she inspired me to call down the mist. Several times. I was in middle school, but I fully believed that the power she weilded was 100% real and I wanted to be part of it. Obviously I was less then successful in this particular endeavor. Beyond that I was inspired to learn more about Aurthurian history and particularly Avalon and the lore and history that surrounds it. I spent months on it, and can still easily be sucked into that research. All because I loved the Lady Morgaine.

2. Robin Hood- from Robin Hood by Alexandre Dumas
I loved this book as a kid. Loved that Robin Hood was so devil-may-care and that depite being the hero he was also a bit of a villian. Of course my love of the book sprouted into love of the movies.

What he inspired me to do: Take up archery. With an old fashioned recurve. If I could have afforded a long bow, wood-hewn, I would have. I still would. Someday I will have a hand hewn long bow to shoot with. I don't hunt or anything, and rarely do I even take the bow out (not many places to shoot around here) but I still list it as one of my favorite activities. So thanks for the hobby Robin.

3. Katniss Everdeen- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
There are a million reasons why Katniss is inspiring. Her loyalty and strength, her ability to conquer fear and her drive to protect those she loves even if it might be her downfall.

What she inspired me to do: This is related to the last one, but Katniss reminded me about my bow. Which I hadn't picked up in years. It had become a nice decoration, hanging next to the fly rods and golf clubs on the porch. She inspired me to pick it back up, and I was quickly reminded of why I loved to shoot to begin with.

4. Jo March- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
There are alot of things I love about Jo. Not the least of which is her independence (you will find this to be a running theme in charecters I love). She had a great imagination and was loyal to her family and eventually found her place in the world.

What she inspired me to do: Become a writer. Plain and simple. I can trace my desire to write directly back to her. It was unlikely that she would suceed in that time and place, and yet she did. If she could, then why not me too?

5. The Girl- The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
This is a childrens book and one of my absolute favorites. The main charecter doesn't have a name, she is just a lost girl who takes refuge with the horses she loves.

What she inspired me to do: In a round about way this book inspired me to overcome my fear. I've ridden horses since I was 3. When I was 14 I had a pretty bad accident and was terrified to ride again. I tried, repeatedly, and each attempt ended worse then the last. I had anxiety attacks and would hyperventilate. It was heartbreaking. I knew that I knew how to ride, I jsut couldn't. Then I rediscovered this book. It reminded me of how much I loved to ride horses and pushed me to try again. Accept the fear instead of run from it and conquer this roadblock. It worked, now I own a horse and although the fear creeps up some times I remember that I too love horses.

6. Elizabeth Bennett - Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
I mean, come on, she's Elizabeth Bennett so she gets to be on this list for merely that fact. She's snarky and arrogant, she loyal and trustworthy, and she doesn't take shit from anyone. She is basically everything I want to be.

What she inspred me to do: I've been a history nerd for my whole life. I've also been a costumer for local shows and schools for years. One era I new painfully little about was the time of Ms. Bennett. So I was inspired to learn- to study and to create. I made a dress for myself and then convinced a nearby school to constume Midsummer Night's Dream in that style. It was a ton of fun, and the clothes are remarkably beautiful.

That's all I can come up with for now- I'm going to continue to think on it as the day goes by and it's possible I will be back with more!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I read these two books back to back- in a matter of about 4 hours- so I'm going to throw a twofer at you instead of breaking them up into two seperate posts.

If I Stay
By: Gayle Forman
Author Website
Twitter: @gayleforman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands

Where She Went
Release Date: April 5, 2011
ARC Review (No Spoilers)

It's been three years since the devastating accident ... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance

As I said- I read these back to back so I'm going to review them in one big review- but I will avoid Spoilers for Where She Went as it's not officially released until April.

These books were beautiful. It's really as simple as that. Alot of books are fun to read, or ad or funny, but it's not often that you come across a beautifully written book. I think both If I Stay and Where She Went fall into that catagory. The hardest part about reading If I Stay was knowing what was going to happen, but not knowing how. I don't mean her final decision, but knowing that sometime early in the story she would die and have to choose whether to stay or whether to go. That anticipation was torture. Waiting to see how it would happen, who else would survive. I was glad to be done with that part early. It left the rest of the book for discovering Mia, Adam, her family and friends and all the people that come into her life for that brief moment when she has to choose. It was a portrait of a family. Full of love and devastated by an accident that shouldn't have happened.

If I Stay was written from Mia's perpective and Where She Went from Adam's, but the most important thing about the way it was written was the ability to show you a lifetime of moments from the past, while covering just one day in the present. In If I Stay we see Mia's memories, of her family, of meeting Adam, falling in love. We see her whole life and are drawn in as she reminisces and tries to decide what she should do. The moments in If I Stay where Adam is trying to reach her, but physically and spiritually are touching. I teared up alot and that doesn't happen often.

As far as Where She Went, like I said I will avoid spoilers here, but will probably come back in April and really review this book in depth. For know I'll just say that, in my opinion, Where She Went was like the worlds best epilogue. Let me explain. If I Stay ended where it should have. It could have stood on it's own. It didn't need a sequel (although I am SO glad there is one!). In many books like that we get an Epilogue that jumps ahead a few years, gives us a glimpse of where our charecter are and then end. I HATE epilogues. It seems to simple to me. Where She Went starts out with a traditional epilogue style. 3 years have past, Mia is in New York playing Cello and Adam is living in LA, touring with Shooting Star and in a downward spiral since Mia walked out of his life. Most epilogues would just leave it at that (although I admit, most epilogues are happier). Where She Went then delves into the past again, this time from Adam's perpective. How they met, how he delt with the accident and the guilt he feels about losing Mia. When a chance meeting in NYC brings them together we see their whole relationship rehashed, in memories, in conversations and in actions as they spend one last night together before they are both to leave on tour.

It's cheesy to say that it is the journey, but for these books, these charecters, I truly think it is. Until the very end I was unsure where Mia and Adam would end up. I almost didn't care. I just wanted them to heal. They were getting to see eachother, to discuss it all, to see eachother's pain and hurt that was still there 3 years after the accident. It's easy to ignore the pain you can cause someone when you don't have to see eachother, but when they are together again they are forced to face the pain and fear. It's great to see. It seemed so real to me, and again, I teared up while reading Where She Went. (Gayle Forman is 2 for 2 for making me cry!)

Before this gets too super-lengthy (which given how much I loved it, it has the possibility of getting) I will try to wrap it up. These books are must reads. Be ready to have your heart ripped out (several times) and then have it healed right along with Mia and Adam's. Forman draws you in and you go on a journey with Mia and Adam over the course of the 2 books. If you haven't read If I Stay yet, get on it, and then start counting down the days to Where She Went.


Review: From book... to movie... to movie. True Grit by Charles Portis

True Grit
: Charles Portis

Charles Portis has long been acclaimed as one of America's foremost writers. True Grit, his most famous novel, was first published in 1968, and became the basis for the movie starring John Wayne. True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father's blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory.

True Grit is eccentric, cool, straight, and unflinching, like Mattie herself. From a writer of true status, this is an American classic through and through.

This review will be a bit of a departure as it's hard to talk exclusively about the book, especially when there are two adaptions out there in movie form. So it might be muddled a bit- but I will mostly be talking about how the movie translates, and what I love about the book!

I'm a big fan of reading a book before seeing the movie, but in this case it didn't work out that way. I first saw True Grit years ago, probably in the middle of the night, on TCM. My only recollection of it was really that John Wayne was in it and that he rode with his reins in his mouth.

Let's be honest- if you have ever ridden a horse and have seen this movie- you have tried this trick. Probably firing the old finger guns off at nearby riders. Let me say- it's gross (seriously, do you know where those reins have been??), and yet it's still somehow a must do. At any rate- that was my major association with the title True Grit and when the new movie came out, I had still not yet read the book. I remedied that fact quickly.

The new movie is great. As a fan of pretty much every western out there, from My Darling Clementine to my all time favorite Tombstone, you could pretty much guarentee that my butt would be in the seats on opening weekend. The movie really was something to see, especially compared to the John Wayne classic. For me, I liked the grittier Cogburn and the snarkier Mattie and the "silly" Le Bouef more in the new version. I walked out of the movie motivated to get the book and see which movie got it right (for the record- I think it's the new one).

As for the book- it really does read like the classic western. There is gun play and drinking, cops and robbers, and alot of time spent on horseback. The main charecter, Mattie, is an irrepresable 14 year old who is smarter then most everyone around her (and she knows it) and isn't afraid to speak her mind, even if the conventions of the time might like her to do otherwise. Her relationship with Cogburn especially, and Le Bouef to a smaller extent, is roughly familial. She annoys the hell out of both of them, and they annoy her right back, but in the end they all come through for eachother. As cheesball as it sounds, they really forge a bond as they are on the trail of Tom Chaney. The extent to which Mattie has wedged herself into the hearts of both men show when they must save her life in the end.

The players that revolve around Mattie are fabulous. They are stereotypes of the time and also of the genre- the grizzled Marshall who hovers just barely on the right side of the law (mostly), the Texas Ranger full of arrogance and the belief that there is no law better the Rangers, the down on his luck killer who thinks he was dealt a raw hand and that justifies his choices, and the leader of the gunman with his somewhat silly nickname and penchant for ignoring the law even when it's staring him right in the face. They are charecters you see over and over again in westerns, but here, they have a bit of humor to them that seems to acknowledge the "silliness" as Mattie would say of the men. As you read the book, told from Mattie's perspective, you feel as though you are in on some funny secret that only Mattie really knows, but that she is sharing with you.

This book is a classic for a reason. The book is wonderful and the movies, especially the newer version, stay true to the spirit of the tale. All three are most definitely worth your time.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: The Tender Mercy of Roses by Anna Michaels

The Tender Mercy of Roses
: Anna Michaels
Release Date: May 2011
Author Website

(from book cover):
When the body of rodeo star Pony Jones is discovered in the northern Alabama woods, it is Pony's spirit- invisible to the eye but not to the sixth sense- that helps reveal clues to her murder. Pulled together in a whirlwind mystery of intense emotion and unexpected encounters are her grief-stricken father, Titus, bent on retribution; and Jo Both Dawson, a hard-drinking former detective new to town, who feels an otherworldly connection with the dead woman- and an irresistible compulsion to uncover the truth. What the unlikely partners do find is more shocking then murder itself: long-buried family secrets that will bring them to search their souls for redemption...and tie the three of them closer then they could imagine.

Bottom line- that summary doesn't do this book justice. Yes, it captured my attention, mostly because it promised to have some rodeo. Something I love, and which rarely makes an appearance in books. What I didn't expect was to be sucked into this story so quickly. Not only did it have rodeo, but it had magic, and native lore and mystery and hope. The plot of the story is a standard murder-mystery but the way in which the story is told, from multiple viewpoints, really set it apart from the pack and the characters that inhabit the pages jump out and drag you in.

It was amazing to me how clearly Michaels created unique voices for each of the characters. Pony especially is brilliant. Even in death she dominates the pages, trying to figure out why she hasn't been able to move on after her murder, and trying to help those she loved and could have loved who were left behind. Her voice is spot on. Unrefined and confident and distinctly rodeo.

The rest of the characters seem like old friends- people you see everyday- that you know without really knowing. They felt like family. Titus especially reminded me of my grandfather- even though he died when I was young- Titus is how I imagine he would be. The rock that everyone else clings to, the one who protects us all even when we are past saving. I could go on and on and say fabulous things about every person in the book- from Jo Beth to John Running Wolf, Martha to Maggie- but this review would get unwieldly and I'd end up giving too much away. So I'll leave it at this: every character is written with a purpose. There are no extras here, everyone has a part to play in Pony's story. It's fantastic.

I think for me what impressed me the most about the book was the rodeo. I love the rodeo, there is something magical about stepping into the arena, be it Madison Square Garden for the PBR, or the Cody Night Rodeo, or a dirt patch out in a field ringed with metal fencing. There's an electricity there that Michaels captured perfectly. I could feel it all as I was reading it, like I was there. She nailed it. Other things that stood out were the more magical elements to the story, like the Cherokee roses and the artic wolf. Sometimes the addition of magical elements can take away from the story or seem hokey. Here they felt right. They served as a connection to the past and really helped to propel the story forward.

I really can't say enough about this book. It was a great way to start out the new year!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Release Day - Across the Universe by Beth Revis

I'm so excited to be participating in this awesome event celebrating the release of Beth Revis' Across the Universe. I have to admit that I have yet to read this book- but all of you who have read it have been all over me to get my hands on it. Now that it is officially out I've got a BN gift card that has Across the Universe written all over it! Even though I haven't read the book yet i'm still able to share some amazing stuff with you. First here's a quick synopsis of the book!

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

And now for some really fun stuff! Here's is an interview with the one and only Beth Revis- this is the first time it has been put out there and you'll get to hear about Across the Universe and some interesting tidbits about the ship Godspeed!

Now that you've seen the interview, it's time to see the book trailer. This is one of my favorite things that authors do now. Movies get trailers and so should books! This one is pretty amazing- I love the opening visual.

How about a sneak peek at ATU? Starting now and going until 11:11 PM est you can get a 111 page excert over at io9. I know I'll be checking it out!!!

Have you checed out the Across the Universe webpage yet today? It's amazing- so much to see its almost overwhelming. It definitly has me even more excited to read the book!

LINKS! There are so many other places to fnd awesome ATU information. Click around and get all the latest info.

Across the Universe Fan Facebook
Across the Universe Website

Beth Revis’ Links:

Penguin Teen Links:

Hope you guys enjoyed all this great Across the Universe info! Now go out and get this book!!

Book Review: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

: Cat Patrick
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Author Website

Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.

Review: This is the first book I read in 2011 (yay!!!) and I had really high hopes for it- and by and large it lived up to those hopes. The premis really captured my attention- what if you couldn't remember the previous day? and more interestingly to me, what if on top of that you did remember the future? The possibilities were limitless. London is a really engaging charecter as well- you quickly bond with her and want her to figure her life out. Still, the book was really slow going for me for the first part. It was good, but it was put-downable. Meaning I didn't need to finish it one sitting, it simply didn't engage me to that level. I think it was because it was fairly mundane and repetative for a lot of the beginning. Since you can't get background information from someone who doesn't remember her past, instead we got to know London by seeing her everyday. At school, with her friends, with her Mom, etc. We are learning how London's mind works, how she keeps track of people and events even though she doesn't remember them. She has a supportive mother and best friend who know about her memory issues and even snags herself a great boyfriend who she is able to keep her affliction from. She has a recurring dream of a funeral, but there isn't quite enough there to go on.

However, once some answers start popping up, and more information is revealed, the book really gets good! I don't want to give anything away, but once we see what the dream really is, who her boyfriend really is (hint- he's from her past, she just doens't remember him!) and the potential reason why London's brain works the way it does the book really picks up. Once I hit that section I got that gotta read it now to see what happens feeling that I love! I particularly liked the mystery of the story, which obviously centers around her brain function because it quickly morphed from a medical issue to a psychological one that had far reaching implications for her whole family.

Again, without giving too much away, the book ends with a bit of a cliff hanger on the family front, and I'm hoping that we see a sequel out Patrick that gives us some familial closure as well as a chance to see how London functions now that she knows why her brain works the way it does.

In the end this book was pretty good. It was slow to start, but once it got in the groove it really clicked along. I enjoyed it alot and again- hoping for a sequel!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: The Radleys by Matt Haig

I'm back!!! There has been a definate holiday lull here at A Reader's Ramblings, and although I feel like I should apoligize, I can't bring myself too, because frankly- a nice relaxing holiday, spent reading but without the pressure of blogging everyday was a nice break. Unfortunately it left me with quite the backlog of reviews. So I best get on that. I debated which book to starat with, and eventually picked The Radleys, the best book I read this holiday season! So without further ado... the first review of the 2011...

The Radleys
By: Matt Haig
Author Website

Summary (from goodreads):
Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret

From one of Britain’s finest young novelists comes a razor-sharp unpicking of adulthood and family life. In this moving, thrilling and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain – and lose – when we deny our appetites.

Review: As stated, this was the best book I read this holiday season. It was such a fun read. Admittedly I requested this book because the cover is awesome. Plus, I love reading vampire books, not because I'm a huge vamp-fan neccessarily, but because I like to see what can be brought to the table. In a saturated genre, it's hard to show up with something new. Haig succeeds where others have failed.

The best part for me was that our two teenage vampires, Clara and Rowen, are not even aware that they are vampires at the outset. That is how entrenched their parents are in the abstenence lifestyle. Watching Clara and Rowen come to terms with who and what they are, while also dealing with typical teenage drama, was great. I especially liked the big reveal, which, without giving much away, involved a She-Ra girl power bloodfest on the part of Clara. What girl doesn't wish she has the abilities that Clara has, although perhaps with a bit more control!

When Uncle Will turns up to help, the Radleys lives are thrown into upheavel, as his presence also dredges up long kept secrets for everyone. Will charecter is intriguing. He has a horse in the race and it was interesting to see the choices he made and to what lengths he was willing to go.

Another thing that I really like in paranormal books is that they are generally more then just a "vampire story". Alot of times the stories are about growing up and finding your place in the world, and for Rowen and Clara this is certainly true. More importantly though, is the message that the parent's story tells. They are living in a world where they have chosen to deny their need for blood, instead trying to assimilate to the best of their abilities. Their lives are essentially a lie and their marraige and family suffers for it. For them this story is about letting go of the past and embracing who you are. What an important message, and it's one that you don't see as much. For me, that was the beauty of this book. There was something to be learned from everyone. They were vampires, but if you removed that one facet, they were remarkably normal individuals and their struggles are easily relatable.

Overall- this is a delightful vampire story that satisfies a certain bloodlust that most vampire book lovers look for. Is also has love and lust, anger and fear, and most notably, a great message that sticks with you. A great read.