Thursday, May 29, 2008

Shannon Hale: The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl: A
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree

In reading my second book for the Herding Cats book challenge, I chose to read The Goose Girl. Hale based Anidori’s story off of Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who must be the goose girl before she is able to be princess.

In the land of Kilendree and Bayern, there are people who have the ability to speak to animals, nature, and/or are people-speakers (those who are really good at talking with other people). Anidori is born without knowing her true talent (“She was born with a word on her tongue, a word she could not taste…”) but she is loves and develops a close relationship with animals, able to communicate with her beloved horse, Falada.

She is an awkward girl, shy around people and is really comfortable around animals. When her father passes away and her mother sets up an arranged marriage for her with the prince of Bayern, Anidori is angry, but chooses to comply.

It’s on her journey to Bayern where there are betrayals, adventures, running-and-screaming, and action. It’s also through this journey, and the process of righting what has been turned upside down that Anidori is able to become a stronger woman, a changed person. It involves geese, trickery, stories, and some love-sighs.

I hate to be so vague, but I hate spoilers even more… and where’s the fun in reading a story where you already know the twists and turns?

I was impressed with this story and I feel like many teens would enjoy reading this fictional, fantastical twist to the original Grimm’s tale. Her characters come to life in the story and the reader is able to root on the good guys and boo the bad ones. I especially liked the ending and the way that Anidori is able to stand up for herself and finally, speak that unspoken word on her tongue.

Do give it a try – it’s a very fast, light, and enjoyable read.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockinbird: B-
Scout Finch, Atticus Finch

"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.... When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out."

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up. (amazon)

I’m a little sad to say that I was disappointed with this read; it’s a classic – having sold millions and translated into ten different languages within its first year of being published (and this was in 1960). It’s one of the most recommended books – both in fiction and for young adults, and many schools require their students to read it in their English classes.

I’ve heard the title of this book tossed around in so many different instances, I surely thought that it would be a much more intriguing read. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

It took me a week and a half to two weeks to finish this book, and that’s only because I thoroughly forced myself to finish (…must…read…for…Herding…cats…challenge!!...). The first two hundred pages (up to page 190 in my copy) was about Scout Finch, the eight year old daughter of a middle aged lawyer, and her older brother Jem, and their backyard adventures. Their father, Atticus, is a lawyer, and an upright person, but really, the purpose of this book – the conflict of a black man being wrongfully accused of raping a white woman – doesn’t reveal itself until roughly half the book, and when it’s first mentioned, it’s vaguely implied. The reader waits for the ball to keep rolling, and for the plot to unravel after the first mention, but the story lulls until page 192 where Atticus is actively defending Tom Robinson in court.

What happens to Jem and Scout in the long and gloomy pages before the court scene? Nothing, really. They are young kids, with Scout first being six when she is introduced. They run around with their next-door neighbor’s nephew (?) when he comes visiting in the summer. They try to make their other next door neighbor, Boo Radley, come out from his house (they’ve never seen him and there are various myths as to why he won’t reveal himself, what he does in his house – tales that were most likely concocted by these creative children). They love their father Atticus and learn about social justice and rightness from him. Scout is a tomboy and hot-headed – she gets into fights with many kids at school.

All this time, I thought, ‘How cute that I get to read about all of these things and their many adventures, but what I really want to know is the big point of this read.’ And that came at a staggeringly slow pace.

The details surrounding the charges and the accusations are made known to the reader only in the court scene – before, one is quite clueless, which makes sense since the book is from an eight year old’s point of view – yet it required much patience and many flips of pages.

However, other than the pace of the book, the story was very profound in that it discussed issues that, at the time it was written, was something that was of utmost importance (and it can be discussed that it still is). Racism, the accusations made toward Tom Robinson are atrocious and appalling. The treatment of the blacks was equally saddening, and the hypocrisy of the whites of the small Alabama town makes one think about his treatment towards others today. (Do homosexuals feel the same discrimination? Do other minority races still feel the same racism? Immigrants?...)

It was also fascinating to see the lifestyles of the people of a small Southern town in the thirties. The education system, the teaching methods, the do’s and don’ts (Auntie insisted for Scout to act like a girl, to wear a dress, no matter how much she despised it.), and the ideals that dominated the town. (And that Scout Finch is one smart cookie.)

After the courtroom scene, the pace quickened, and the ending came as a surprise but was satisfying.

In all, I understand why the book would be so highly recommended; however, I would say that the book itself is overrated and disappointing for someone who was expecting shooting stars. Furthermore, the slow pace of the book was frustrating for me – I most likely wouldn’t have finished it if I didn’t need to read it for the challenge.

Recommended, but with hesitation.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lauren Royal: The Art of Temptation

The Art of Temptation: B+
Corinna Chase & Sean Delaney
Sweet Temptation series #3

Although he had a bevy of beautiful admirers, all Sean Delaney cared about was securing a divorce-for his sister, that is. That's why he was impersonating John Hamilton, her famous painter husband. It was the only way the rotter would agree to a divorce. Little did Sean realize that duping Hamilton's dying uncle would require the help of the very woman who could inspire him to get down on one knee... (amazon)

I really liked the premise of this book because I felt that it was really original. Sean Delaney is a hard-working man who was able to work his way “up” the ladder, something shunned by the British ton, yet something unable to ignore because of his wealth.

He also is a man with a heart, one who cares deeply about his family. When his younger sister’s husband proves to be a complete fruitcake, Sean tries to obtain a divorce for her. However, the idiot – who happens to be a very famous artist, refuses to divorce Sean’s sister unless Sean agrees to pose as him (the artist) in front of the douchebag’s very ill uncle.

Sean, wanting to strangle the man, agrees and meets Corinna, the youngest of the Chase sisters. She is an aspiring artist, wanting to get her paintings into the famous art museum, a difficult task that is exponentially harder for her because she is a female. When she meets Sean, he is under the guise of being the famous artist, one whom she adores.

Corinna chooses to paint Sean’s ailing “uncle,” and ends up being in close proximity with Sean. Fireworks go off, it sizzles, and all that jazz. However, what happens when it is revealed that Sean isn’t really the person he claims to be?

I loved Sean Delaney – what a hunky hunk with a huge heart. (Ooh, did you like the alliteration there?) He offers to masquerade as the fruitcake for his sister and when Corinna is in trouble, he immediately offers his assistance. What a gentleman! I also really enjoyed the ending, even though I predicted it down to the T.

It was a good, fast-paced, supremely easy read except for the fact that I really disliked it when Corinna kept on asking Sean for his kisses. It made her sound young, naïve (which she is, but that’s besides the point), and somewhat airheaded. It’s really inconsequential, I know, but for some reason, her asking for his kisses just really irked me. Other than that, this was the last of Royal’s Temptation series, so it had a lot of happiness regarding Corinna’s two older sisters.

Nothing too fancy schmancy – read for light pleasure.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sophia Nash: The Kiss

The Kiss: A
Georgiana Wilde & Quinn Fortesque

He had once been her cherished childhood companion, and then the man she lusted for in secret, but Georgiana Wilde hasn't seen recently widowed Quinn Fortesque since the day he married another woman and shattered her heart. Then fate intervenes and brings the man she dreams about each night back to her . . . .

Returning to the estate on family business, Quinn would like nothing more than to turn the land over to Georgiana and leave the memories of his former life behind. But then the brooding marquis finds himself under the spell of the beauty he once left behind. With her barely concealed passions, Georgiana melts his coolly guarded heart. Suddenly his well-ordered world is in danger of crashing down. And it all began with just one kiss . . . (amazon)

Have you ever read something out of a book, gasp in shock, then moan for the characters?

Ms. Nash’s story was full of those moments. It got to the point where my sister told me to shut up (I was reading in her room, keeping her company as she studied). But it’s not my fault! I couldn’t help it! It’s Ms. Nash’s fault for creating a story full of wit, romance, love, angst, and overall drama (that we all love, even though we claim we don’t). Man, it was one satisfying read!

(I realize that this is another reunion story. Man, I love those!)

Georgiana, Quinn, and Anthony were childhood friends. Quinn and Anthony were cousins, with Anthony as the heir to the Ellesmere Marquis-ship. Quinn was an orphan, one that Anthony’s parents had grudgingly taken in. And Georgiana? She was the daughter of the Ellesmere estates’ steward.

The story starts out with Georgiana and Anthony’s wedding night. She had given up on Quinn, who years ago, married and went away to work as a foreign diplomat. Shockingly, Anthony dies on their wedding night and Georgiana is the newly widowed Marquess of Ellesmere, to the horrification (is that a word or did I just create it?) of Anthony’s mother, the Dowager Duchess.

With the death of Anthony, Quinn is handed the title, and he returns to Penrose, Cornwall with his cutie-pie nine year old daughter, Fairleigh.

There is a strong attraction between Quinn and Georgiana, however, the conflict and drama surrounding Anthony threatens to harm their relationship.

I loved Georgiana’s spunky and independent nature; I also loved Quinn because… well, he was hot. (lol) And as the story unfolds, it is heartbreaking to see the angst and trial that they all go through. It makes you think about how much your actions have on other people – because Anthony and Quinn’s late wife both impacted Georgiana and Quinn in a number of ways.

While this is the sequel to Nash’s A Dangerous Beauty, it can be read as a stand-alone and is utterly wonderful. I’m so disappointed that her next novel is going to be released next February! What, are they nuts?! I can only count down the days for Grace’s story – Lord knows she deserves one.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lisa Kleypas: Again the Magic

Again the Magic: A+
Lady Aline Marsden & John McKenna

...Her latest book follows the romance between childhood friends Lady Aline Marsden and stable boy John McKenna. When the budding romance between Aline and McKenna is discovered, McKenna is banished from the estate. In order to protect him from her father's wrath, Aline makes McKenna believe that she's rejecting him because of his lowly status. Now a real estate tycoon in New York City, McKenna returns with a plan-to seduce and abandon Aline as punishment for her earlier rejection. However, McKenna is unaware of the secrets Aline has kept all this time, and he's unprepared for the passion that he and Aline still share. Although the conflict between hero and heroine could be resolved with one honest conversation, the author creates a believable reason for their continued silence. Kleypas also explores some intriguing issues, particularly in a subplot involving Aline's sister and a charming alcoholic who accompanies McKenna. (amazon)

Oh, this book was so good! Remember how I said that Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady wasn’t mind-blowing, orgasm-inducing great?

Well, this one is. This story is fabulously, fantasically wonderful and completely poignant.


John McKenna is a poor, stable boy at the Marsdens residence. Aline is the daughter of a lord, and in following the traditions of the elite, her fate is to comply with an arranged marriage – one that would be a “good match.”

Because the Marsden residence, Stonybrook is in the countryside, Aline’s parents don’t pay attention to the happenings of their children, except Marcus – the eldest and heir. Thus, Aline and McKenna become friends – then best friends – and spend the better part of ten years together, fishing, climbing trees, romping around wreaking havoc. In this process, they fall in love with each other, something that both know is pretty much horrible, and that no good can ever result from their passionate, adolescent loving.

They are caught and McKenna is sent away.

Twelve years later, McKenna has made something huge of himself in New York, and is filthy rich. He and his business colleague return to Stonybrook to try to convince Lord Westbrook, Marcus, to invest in their business dealings… and McKenna and Aline meet.

Sparks fly and old feelings come back in a rush.

But they are not the same people that they were twelve years before and much has happened during those years.

Okay. My favorite types of romances are first-love romances and a rags-to-riches type storyline intertwined. This one is that – live and color. I love loved McKenna – my sister read the story, at my insistence, and said that yes, it was a good story, but that the hero was too brooding and arrogant.

He is (lovably so), but he isn’t the same person he was when he first fell in love with Aline, understandably so. BUT, he casts aside everything for Aline and tries his damned hardest to win her back. His words to her, in attempts of convincing her to be with him, made squeal like a fat pig. It was so tender and loving… completely overwhelming with love.

And Aline was gorgeous but had to deal with some of the obstacles life threw at her. She was prideful and insecure, but you find that she is the perfect foil to McKenna.

I’d like to say now, that Lisa Kleypas made a mistake when she wrote this book. The heroine’s name is Aline, but she had intended it to be Alice. (How could she possibly misspell Alice? I’m sure it was a typo and that in the re-issue, they’ll quickly change it.)

Aline Alice, I love you,” McKenna said with passion…


If you love first-love reunion stories, with a strong, dark, hunky, and completely attractive hero, this one is a must read!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Joanna Bourne: The Spymaster's Lady

The Spymaster's Lady: A-
Annique Villiers & Richard Grey

She's never met a man she couldn't deceive...
She's braved battlefields. She's stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state. She's played the worldly courtesan, the naive virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy. But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can't outwit...

Until now.
British spymaster Robert Grey must enger France and bring back the brilliant, beautiful - and dangerous - Fox Cub. His duty is to capture her and her secrets for England. When the two natural enemies are thrown into prison, they forge an uneasy alliance to break free. But their pact is temporary and betrayal seems inevitable. They flee, pursued every step of the way by ruthless authorities, caught in a net of secrets and lies. As the fates of nations hang in the balance, Grey and Annique fight the passion that flares between them - forbidden, impossible, and completely irresistible...

After hearing raves and many kudos for Ms. Bourne’s debut novel, I quickly placed a hold at my library. While the novel itself was very satisfying, I’m afraid I had my hopes up just a bit too high; I guess it was my own fault that I half-expected the book to sprout arms and make me a beloved Hazelnut Latte.

Annique Villiers is a world renown French spymaster – the most devious and clever of spies, one who has been working since she was a toddler. Richard Grey, or Grey as Annique calls him, is a brilliant British spymaster. They meet in French prison, where Annique (alias: Fox Cub) has been betrayed by her French armed soldiers and they agree to work together to escape. Little does Anniqe know that Grey has been scouring the lands looking for her, and he doesn’t let her free.

Everyone in the book – the French and the British – are both looking for a secret set of plans called the Albion plans. These plans reveal the plans of Napoleon’s preeminent attack on Britain – the French need to know where the plans are to make sure that the British don’t get a hold of it, and the British need it to save their country from a massive attack. Grey is, of course, looking for the plans that Annique supposedly has.

Thus, both make their way through France and to England. Sprinkle in some verbal fights, suspicions, and death attacks (Annique attacking Grey – it really is marvelous – she is very resourceful). There are some surprising twists that caught me (and some characters) off guard.

I felt that plot-wise, this story was exploding with it. There are spies left and right, along with intrigue and fistfights. The dialogue of Annique, as many other readers have noticed, is very French. Bourne did a great job of showing that Annique is indeed a French person, and that Grey is British. However, I felt her dialogue very very mildly irritating – as with most French, she was superfluous and tended to ramble.

I enjoyed the read, but didn’t feel that romance was particularly strong. For me, it wasn’t a sigh-when-they-get-together type story, though it was a strong first for Ms. Bourne. I’d recommend this because it is an interesting read, but it wasn’t mind-blowing, orgasm-inducing fabulous.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Robin McKinley: Deerskin

Deerskin: B-
Lissla Lissar


Heir to her late mother's legendary beauty, Princess Lissar becomes the victim of her grief-maddened father's desire. Fleeing her home, she seeks solace and solitude in a great forest--and discovers a magic that leads her toward healing and justice. Loosely based on "Donkeyskin," an obscure fairy tale by Charles Perrault, this story of a young woman's survival and recovery is both a classic hero's journey-tale and a parable for modern times. (amazon)

This is, by far, the most interesting read of the month and is essentially a story of a woman’s strength and the path of healing from one of the gravest hurt a woman can experience.

Lissla unfortunately inherits her mother’s famed beauty and to her horror, her father goes mad after the death of her mother. When he transfers that insanity on Lissla, she and her dog flee. It is with time and the help of the magical Lady of the Moon, the moon goddess, that she is able to recuperate.

When she travels to another kingdom, she meets Prince Ossin who shares her love of dogs. He doesn’t realize it, but he is the one who provided Lissla with her beloved dog, Ash, years before. Lissla falls in love with him when she realizes he doesn’t care about rumors, gossip, and looks, and that he genuinely respects for who she is.

Problems arise when Lissla is unable to talk to Ossin about her past…

Ms. McKinley’s writing is melodic and very lyrical, but a little superfluous. She writes in metaphors and analogies, something that I had to get accustomed to. I wouldn’t say that her writing is fabulous or that the actual happenings of the book pulls readers in; more than anything, I would say that Lissla’s journey in overcoming her pain is what compels the reader to finish the story.

If I had been able to decode Ms. McKinley’s writing style a little easier, I would have enjoyed the read much more, but because the writing style and tone of the book wasn’t my cup of tea, I give this read a B-.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Liz Carlyle: Never Lie to a Lady

Never Lie to a Lady: B
Xanthia Neville & Stefan, Marquess of Nash

Xanthia Neville knows exactly how to run a successful worldwide shipping business, but navigating the social waters of the ton is another matter entirely. At a London soiree, the mystery man with whom Xanthia shares a kiss turns out to be notorious rake and gamester Stefan Northampton, the Marquess of Nash. Xanthia knows that any romantic liaison with Stefan is social suicide, but she can't forget the dark and dangerous lord. Xanthia gets a second chance with Stefan when the British government asks her to use her business connections to look into Stefan's possible connections to gun-smuggling in Greece, and Xanthia soon finds herself ensnared in a dangerous game of seduction and intrigue with the sublimely sexy Stefan... (amazon)

One thing that I really appreciate about Ms. Carlyle’s writing is that she knows how to incorporate witty dialogue and smart characters in her stories. This is my second read of Ms. Carlyle and I’m thoroughly intrigued by her writing – I feel that she has a level of depth to her characters (and you know how much I love characterization) that is foreign to some writers.

At thirty years of age, Xanthia is a spinster – and a social outcast at that. She refuses to obey the laws and norms of the ton and manages her family’s shipping business. Intelligent and witty, she attracts the attention of Stefan at a ball. They share a passionate kiss. She tries to pretend it never happened.

Nash, on the other hand, is completely attracted to her and decides he wants her. How surprised he is when Xanthia practically thrusts herself in his path. He is unaware of the speculations and suspicions that the British government has towards him in regards to a smuggling ring that they are trying to crack.

Xanthia, concerned about her business, agrees to be a pawn in spying on Nash, and the unthinkable happens – love!

Though Xanthia and Nash aren’t my favorite characters (it’s pretty damn hard for any hero to beat Matt Farrell – Judith McNaught fans, you know what I’m talking about) and even though this isn’t the best novel I’ve ever read, I was able to feel for the characters and enjoy them as they enjoyed each other’s company, both emotionally and uh… physically (lol, *blush*). The sex was pretty hot and there is a “kinky” scene that is not so bad (compared to Ms. Ward’s Lover Unbound featuring Jane and Vishous).

In all, I’d say that it was a pretty satisfactory read. I want to read more of her stories because, well, I really enjoy her style of writing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Susan Elizabeth Phillips: This Heart of Mine

This Heart of Mine: D
Stars #5

Molly Somerville & Kevin Tucker

Ever since she was a teenager, children's book author Molly Somerville has been infatuated with handsome Kevin Tucker, quarterback for her sister's Chicago Stars football team. Unfortunately, Kevin doesn't know she's alive until one fateful weekend when they're marooned together at the family vacation cabin. When Molly gets carried away by her creative imagination and compromises Kevin, the results are disastrous and before the dust settles, Kevin's in trouble with his boss, Molly's in deep trouble with her emotions, and both of them are in danger of losing their hearts… (amazon)

Ms. Phillips. I swear, sometimes you’re a freaking genius and at other times, you’re a complete loony! This book was horrid. Absolutely horrible. It’s a good thing I’d read Match Me If You Can (which is wonderful, comedic, and completely lovable) before reading this and Dream A Little Dream, or else I would have stopped reading your stories.

Let me start off my complete bash by saying that I loved Kevin Tucker. What a dreamboat. However, I didn’t love Molly. In fact, I thought she was a complete loser and not good enough for Kevin in the least .

Even thinking back on the book now (I must have read it a good five months ago), I still don’t understand as to how Kevin “fell in love” with Molly. If this is what happens in real life, I ought to be able to snag Leonardo Di Caprio or Tom Brady in a snap.

Molly has been in lurve with Kevin since forever. The only problem is… Kevin doesn’t know she exists because he’s a gorgeous, athletic, charming, and completely dreamy sounding hunk. Molly is a kind-of-weird, strangely compulsive woman who is antsy with her life. She is quiet and bookish (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but she’s made to sound so unattractive.

So when Molly has the chance to be with Kevin, she takes the ball and runs with it. Literally.

I really can’t explain my disgust with Molly without a few minor spoilers. (highlight with mouse for spoiler)


Let me tell you that I personally believe that sex has to be consensual – all the freaking time. And what Molly does is pretty idiotic and stupid and retarded and dumb and stupid. ...Have I said stupid?

She, in her idiocy, does really stupid things, and then cannot man up to face problems that life throws at her. She whines, gets depressed, mopes, and is all-around stupid. Please. For someone so smart, you’re really not.

*end spoiler*

Magically, Kevin turns out to be a really understanding guy because if Molly did to me what she did to him, I would have punched her… really hard.

Molly is stressed with life and can’t handle her problems, so Kevin takes it upon himself to go to the campground (?) that his parents used to own. It’s at the camp that Kevin has a concussion and realizes that Molly is the woman for him.

After reading all of the Stars books (this was my last), I see how Phillips has taken ideas from books and recycled them. Nothing in the book surprised me (although it would have been later books that I would have been un-surprised at if I had read in order), the ‘romance’ between the characters were laughable.

However, Phillips does a great job with secondary characters, and their stories. I cannot remember the characters’ names, but the older couple had a really strong connection, and I loved reading their story. It’s probably what got me through this book.

In all, don’t read this unless you want to see a really pitiable heroine and a flawed, incomprehensible relationship. It is, by far, the weakest of the Chicago Star books. Sorry Kevin, even you couldn’t make this book make sense.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cover talk

I have to tell you a secret: I'm a complete judger of books by their cover.

Maybe not so much with romance because romance novels have covers that are all relatively the same - bodice rippers; woman and man leaning in to each other about to kiss, but not really; no head but body + gown of woman...

And seeing that I've read romances for a good seven years, the covers come together and become a little blurry. The flower covers mean that they were published a long time ago, the books in the nineties were most commonly the bodice rippers, then there were the seductive-pose covers between male and female. Currently, the trend seems to be "clinch" covers (which sucks, by the way) and holograms with nifty shininess.

However, I was appropriately horrified when I saw the cover to Julia Quinn's next release - The Lost Duke of Wyndham.


Full, very realistic faces of male and female!

And it makes it worse that I don't find either to be very attractive; it's meddling with my creative visualization skills!

What's going on in the mind of the (presumed) heroine? She looks like a raptor! I'd be very scared if I was the dude with longish hair and ripped shirt.
I am fully aware that many authors have no say in their covers, and that one has to be a huge household author (James Patterson, Nora Roberts...) in order for their words to have any clout.

So, my question is: Publishers, what on earth were you thinking? The cover is neither romantic nor is it attractive. C'mon, people! Work with me here!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

101 books 1,001 days

I must be going crazy... but after browsing through several bookaholics's websites, I realize how many challenges there are out there. Who knew?!

I especially liked the '101 books in 1,001 days' one - a twist off of the '101 things to do in 1,001 days' non-book challenge.

This way, I'll decrease the number of books on my TBR - and be committed. (These books are all off of my "To Read Before I Die" list. Can you tell I love lists?)

Alice's 101 books in 1,001 days booklist:

Start: June 2, 2008
End: Feb 28, 2011

1. Margaret George: Memoirs of Cleopatra

2. Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales

3. Francois Rabelais: Pantagruel

4. Charles Dickens: Great Expectations

5. Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities

6. Alexandre Dumas: The Count of Monte Cristo

7. Tom Godwin: The Space Barbarians

8. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: 100 Years of Solitude

9. Anton Chekhov: The Three Sisters

10. Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary

11. Sophacles: Antigone

12. Homer: The Iliad (unabridged)

13. Jane Austen: Sense & Sensibility

14. Jane Austen: Persuasion

15. Margaret Mitchell: Gone With the Wind

16. William Golding: Lord of the Flies

17. Marie de France: Chevrefoil

18. Victor Hugo: Les Miserables

19. Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20. Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace

21. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World

22. Thomas Paine: Common Sense

23. Jonathon Swift: Modest Proposal

24. Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Crime & Punishment

25. John Steinbeck: Of Mice & Men

26. “”: East of Eden

27. “”: Tortilla Flats

28. Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

29. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

30. Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird

31. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlett Letter

32. Anne Proulx: Shipping News

33. William Faulkner: As I Lay Dying

34. Shakespeare: A Much Ado About Nothing

35. “”: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

36. George Orwell: 1984

37. Franz Lizst: Hungarian Rhapsody

38. Lorraine Hansbury: Raisin in the Sun

39. Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness

40. Andrew Jackson: A Century of Dishonesty

41. Elizabeth Gaskell: Wives & Daughters

42. Joseph Heller: Catch-22

43. John Knowles: A Separate Peace

44. Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre

45. Ken Kesey: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

46. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange

47. Alice Walker: The Color Purple

48. Amy Tan: The Joy Luck Club

49. Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale

50. “”: The Robber Bride

51. “”: The Blind Assassin

52. Tennessee Williams: The Glass Menagerie

53. James Baldwin: Blues for Mister Charlie

54. Alan Lightman: Einstein’s Dreams

55. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

56. Stephen King: The Shining

57. Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray

58. Ruth Gendel: The Book of Qualities

59. Tim O’Brien: The Things They Carried

60. Melina Marchetta: Looking for Alibrandi

61. Joanne Harris: Chocolat

62. Barbara Ehrerreich: Nickel and Dimed

63. Yann Martel: Life of Pi

64. Ann Patchett: Bel Canto

65. Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

66. S.E. Hinton: The Outsiders

67. Jodi Picoult: My Sister’s Keeper

68. Colleen McCullough: The Thornbirds (Nance)

69. Barbara Taylor Bradford: Woman of Substance (Nance)

70. Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina

71. Elizabeth Vaughan: Warlord

72. Sandra Brown: The Alibi

73. Catherine Anderson: Phantom Waltz

74. Susan Wiggs: The Firebrander

75. Lavyrle Spencer: Home Song

76. Sidney Sheldon: Bloodline

77. Julia Quinn: Minx

78. Glenna McReynolds: The Chalice & the Blade

79. Johanna Lindsey: Love Only Once

80. Jill Marie Landis: Summer Moon

81. Lisa Kleypas: Mine Till Midnight

82. Lisa Kleypas: Again the Magic

83. Joanna Bourne: The Spymaster’s Lady

84. Mary Balogh: Simply Love

85. Linda Berdoll: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife

86. Janet Chapman: Charming the Highlander

87. Tasha Alexander: And Only to Deceive

88. Jacquelyn Frank: Jacob (Nightwalker’s 1)

89. Catherine Delors: Mistress of the Revolution

90. Jude Deveraux: Sweet Liar

91. Kathleen Escehnburg: Seen By Moonlight

92. Georgette Heyer: Venetia

93. John Milton: Paradise Lost

94. Laura Kinsale: Flowers From the Storm

95. Nalini Singh: Caressed by Ice

96. Thomas Hardy: Return of the Native (Nance)

97. Emily Giffen: Something Blue (Nance)

98. Robin Schone: The Lady’s Tutor

99. Brenda Joyce: Deadly Kisses

100. Judith McNaught: Someone to Watch Over Me

101. Judith Krantz: Princess Daisy

Friday, May 9, 2008

Yay, a Kudos!!

On the blog, The Book Bitches, Vicious Trollop has declared me somewhat enjoyable to read!

How exciting is this?!

Really, I'm flattered. Thank you so much!


PS: I don't try to be funny or look-at-me-because-I'm-a-smart-book-reviewer because... well... I'm neither funny or a smart book reviewer. LOL. It's a wonder you all understand what I say, with all my ramblings.

Anne Gracie: The Perfect Rake

The Perfect Rake: C-
Prudence Merridew & Gideon, Lord Carradice

To escape her brutal grandfather, Prudence stages a plan involving a phony engagement--and the man she approaches is so taken with Pru that he willingly joins her game. (amazon)

I honestly don’t know what happened with this read. It started out great and to my dismay, rapidly lost fizzle. It came to the point where it almost became a DNF (did-not-finish). That’s shocking!

So, Prudence's grandfather happens to be a controlling and very-abusive asshole. When Pru realizes that her grandfather won't let her and her three younger sisters have freedom (or anything that resembles a life), she plots her way out of his clutches, but only so that her sisters have an opportunity to "marry rich." That way, they would be able to be financially independent from their life-sucking old grandfather.

Pru and her sisters run away to their uncle (great-uncle), who has had a fall-out with Pru's grandfather. She lies, saying that the grandfather let them out of the house (*snort*) and tells him that they are in London to search for a husband.

However, the uncle refuses to let Pru's younger sisters marry without Pru marrying first. This is a problem since Pru is quite plain, while her sisters are very beautiful. At the end of her wits, she pretends to be engaged to a *Duke* - one whom her uncle is insistent on meeting. And thus starts this amusing (but disappointing) story.

I loved that Prudence didn’t mope about her situation and took some daring actions to save herself and her sisters from her grandfather’s abuse. They run away to their great-uncle’s home. There, Prudence breaks multiple rules by forging her grandfather’s signature, lies to her great-uncle, pretends to be engaged to a duke, and play-acts in front of her great-uncle to get him to believe her.

The scene is hilarious and I laughed hilariously when she finds out in front of her uncle that her pretend “fiancé,” a Duke, turns out to be a famous rake, Gideon or Lord Carradice. Trying to cover up her blunder, she and Gideon, act as if they’re breaking off the engagement in front of her uncle. However, Gideon, wildly amused at the woman who shows up at his cousin’s doorstep pretending to be the Duke’s fiancée, goes along with Prudence’s scheme…until the real Duke shows up. (Oh brother!)

Thus, Prudence and Gideon are acquainted with each other and inextricably get tangled in each other’s business. When Prudence’s grandfather finds out of their ploy before one of the sisters are able to get married, they decide to run. Gideon comes in and gallantly offers his help (aw!).

They run to Gideon’s aunt’s home, where Prudence meets her fiancé from four years ago. Drama starts when Prudence realizes she’s been played…

This starting gripped me until page 200, and promptly after, I lost interest. The story just began to…stink, and I’m really not sure why. The plot grew a bit dry and the story seemed to take forever for anything to happen. It was the same ‘ol same ‘ol – Prudence tries to resist Gideon because she is waiting for her fiancé, Gideon is attracted to Prudence despite her claim that she’s “homely” – and in comparison to her sisters, she is. He kisses her. She responds. She feels guilty. She pushes him off. Walks away. Two hours later, same thing happens.

…Gideon had the patience of a damned saint, continually chasing after Prudence.

However, I loved how he thought Prudence was gorgeous, even though everyone didn’t see what he saw in her. It was absolutely sweet.

Everything else? Not so sweet… the hilarious and intriguing beginning keeps this book from being a complete bust.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Alice's Amazing Ten!

Referred by Booklogged and created by Renay, I'm joining my very first book challenge!

I primarily read romances, usually for the escapist factor, but this sounds like a great way to read fabulous books and to read other people's critiques as well. Excitingggg...

So, this is my list of Alice's Amazing Ten. Fear not, they're not all romances.. (though I was tempted, wouldn't that have been hilarious? No? Oh, okay....)

1. Paradise by Judith McNaught
-contemporary romance. (This baby is a romance, but a great one at that.)

2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
-fiction, love story, time traveling, amazing, will-be-released-as-movie-in-November (with Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. I'm expecting fabulousity.)

3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
-fiction, very short (one hundred and twenty pages at most), fantasy, philosophical

4. Gravity by Tess Gerritsen
-sci-fi-ish, medical thrillers, a little graphic, outer space, love story, fiction, adventure

5. Tell No One by Harlan Coben
-thriller, love story, mystery, fiction

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
-classic literature, love story, Mr. Darcy, witty, regency England, annoying moms

7. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
-saga, love story, WWII in Leningrad, war, intensely emotional

8. Like Water, For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
-book with recipes, love story, fiction, so good

9. In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
-tearjerker, fiction, love story, sisters, revolution!

10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
-classic literature, gothic love story, Heathcliff!

Okay, so maybe I lied. It looks like all of the books have a love story in it... though that may not be the purpose of the book. Hey, don't hate. Love is what makes the world go 'round.

I will edit and add what I am choosing to read later!


And the six books I chose to read from the other participants' lists: (I randomly chose my 'requirements' and made my own rules - you can just pick whatever 3 books you like)

From the most-starred books that I haven't read:
1. To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee
2. Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte

Heard of but have yet to read:
3. Flowers for Algernon: Daniel Keyes

4. The Goose Girl: Shannon Hale
5. Mort: Terry Pratchett

Book #283
6. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks: E. Lockhart


Linda Howard: Cry No More

Cry No More: A+
Milla Edge & James Diaz

You might not know this about me, but I am, in fact, a huge ass crybaby. I’m like a leaking faucet; it takes very little to get me started. As expected, I’m very emotional, and I love authors who can evoke emotions in me.

However, I find that this particular expectation is lost in a many romance novels. For one thing, it’s a given that romance novels must must must have a happily-ever-after. Therefore, when the hero or heroine falls sick near the end of the novel …who cares? I know that within a flip of a few pages, that the hero/heroine will become un-sick and everything will be peachy. Perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to become jaded with romance novels – it can get very mundane – and very formulaic.

If you can sympathetize with this, worry not! Cry No More is an intensely emotional and passionate read about a mother’s love. In fact, I find that the mother-child love is more explained than the normal hero-heroine love relationship.

Milla Edge is twenty-three, married of one year to a genius doctor, and is in Mexico with their newborn child. Then the unthinkable happens and her baby, Justin, is snatched from her arms. However, Milla refuses to give up and makes it her personal goal to find her child.

I was exasperated for the first half of this book, but I fear it is out of ignorance and naivety, more than anything. I’m not a mother and I’ve never had a child. I don’t know the love a mother has for a child – I just know that it is something intense and wholly consuming.

So, reading through Milla’s pain, her gritty determinance to find Justin, was something I understood but didn’t. The pain that she must have felt – I don’t know for sure, but I shallowly empathize. It must be a heartwrenching, soul-scarring pain and hurt. However, one question always stayed with me – when is it appropriate to move on? And is moving on synonymous with giving up?

Because Milla could have given up – and nobody would have faulted her for it. She looked for ten long years – gave up ten long years, grueled, grieved, and continuously thought of the could-haves and what-ifs. When is it enough to simply… stop?

Maybe never.

In understanding Milla’s pain, I know why she chose to keep fighting, yet a part of me wanted to rattle her – to shake her and tell her, life’s not fair. Move on with your life – rebuild it!

But really, who am I to say? And how can I so callously tell someone to move on regarding a situation that has to do with another person? Her child??

That was dilemma number one, and the most thought-provoking reaction/ question/ confusion…

The second question is a little harder to ask without giving the story away, but to say very vaguely (if you’re a spoiler-HATIST like me, skip the next paragraph please):

Is it ever all right to kill someone, even if it is done in the name of justice, of retribution? After all, there’s karma, right? But is it ever justified in taking someone’s life for even the most heinous crime (deaths of millions of people, child rape…)?

As for the relationship between Diaz and Milla – I can’t help but to wonder if there are males out there who are so cold and so… cold. Diaz is supposed to be an assassin, I understand, but from what I’ve heard, the personality/ heart of a sniper or an assassin is a huge dichotomy, in that the most kind-hearted person can have the succinct ability to kill with precision and without emotion.

Nevertheless, Diaz is practically an amphibian with cold blood running through him, who basically has no huge communication needs and with eyes that are so cold, it would, apparently, freeze your toes.

But the things he does for Milla when she is grieving… the love and affection he shows for her, and the clear love that he has for her (though unable to really verbalize until later) is so heartwarming and utterly charming. It’s like, he understood Milla – knew her better than she knew herself – and catered to her when she needed him most.

I’m totally up for that kind of love – the kind of love where the other person knows you inside-and-out, and can comfort you in your troubles, tickle your toes when you want to laugh, and one who will simply take care of you because… that’s what love does.

Boy, was I in for the shock of my life when after two hundred pages, Cry No More became an intensely intense read. And then, I wasn’t too shocked when I started to bawl my eyes out… and then continued to cry continuously the last thirty-something pages of the book. (Oh jeepers, I’m a dork.)

The ending is absolutely wonderful and so great, I think I might have actually sighed in content (while nastily blowing my nose and wiping tears away)

If you’re not afraid of thinking while reading – and feeling something other than “aw, that’s cuddly,” please give this a try.

A+ for emotion, writing skill, and characterization. Bravo, Ms. Howards!

Oh gosh, that was a long ass review. Sorry, I had a lot to say. But basically it all boils down to: read the damn book!