Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publishing Date: Reprint, 2012
ISBN 13: 9780345534835
305 Pages

                                  Synopsis 

        When Thorin Oakenshield and his band of dwarves embark upon a dangerous quest to reclaim the board of gold stolen from them by the evil dragon Smaug, Gandalf the wizard suggests an unlikely accomplice: Bilbo Baggins, an unassuming Hobbit dwelling in peaceful Hobbiton.

Along the way, the company faces trolls, goblins, giant spiders, and worse. But as they journey from the wonders of Rivendell to the terrors of Mirkwood and beyond, Bilbo will find that there is more to him than anyone - himself included - ever dreamed. Unexpected qualities of courage and cunning, and a love of adventure, propel Bilbo towards his great destiny... a destiny that wits in the dark caverns beneath the Misty Mountains, where a twisted creature known as Gollum jealously guards a precious magic ring.

My Review

I first saw this movie, and immediately went out to buy the book. I'm so glad I did! As the title of the movie suggests, this was indeed an unexpected journey! Tolkien creates such a magical world inside these pages, and I couldn't ask for anything more. This book made me laugh at times, worry for the characters safety and wellbeing, and constantly wonder what the quest was going to bring them next. It took me on the adventures right along with the characters themselves! Bilbo is such a lovable character, and I really enjoyed seeing him grow into a courageous and adventurous Hobbit! I think I will have to watch the movie again. I loved the movie so much when I first saw it, without reading the book first, and now that I have read it, I think I will love it even more! My boyfriend and his family are huge LOTR fans, so I'm happy to say that I am finally in the same boat :) Can't wait to continue the adventures by reading The Lord of the Rings!


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Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon

Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon
Publishing Date: 10/29/2010
Publisher: Dead River Books
136 Pages

Synopsis 

In Peachville, even the cheerleaders have a dark side...

Harper Madison isn't like other girls. She has extraordinary powers, but her inability to control them has gotten her kicked from so many foster homes she's lost count. Shadowford Home for Girls is her last chance, and she hopes Peachville High will be the fresh start she needs.

But when evidence ties her to the gruesome murder of a Demons cheerleader, Harper discovers this small town has a big secret.

My Review

What a fun book! It was such an interesting story and I thought the characters were very unique and charismatic. I downloaded this book on my Kindle app because it was free and I wanted a quick and fun read. That is exactly what I got! The story sucked me in right away and I couldn't stop reading it. This story seemed to have a little of everything: drama, suspense, mystery, romance, etc. It was the perfect chick-lit :) When I finished the book, I wanted to read the next right away to find out what happens. It ends with a cliff-hanger and leaves you wanting more. I really want to find out what happens to Harper and the other characters. Though I haven't downloaded the second yet, I will very soon! Great novel, even though it was short! But I guess that's what makes you want to continue reading the next couple in the series! I'm pretty sure this is only out in the Kindle edition right now, but I still encourage everyone to read it!

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Echoes by Maeve Binchy

Echoes by Maeve Binchy
Publishing Date: 11/4/2008
Publisher: New American Library
ISBN 13: 9780451225108
488 Pages


                                 Synopsis 

David Power and Clare O'Brien both grew up dreaming of escaping from the battered seaside town of Castlebay, but they might as well have had an ocean between them. David is the cherished son of a prosperous doctor, while Clare lives with her large family behind their faltering store, longing for a moment of quiet to study. When they both fo to university in Dublin - he as a matter of course, she on a hard-won scholarship - their worlds collide. They find freedom in each other - until the families, lovers, and secrets they left behind in Castlebay come back to haunt them...

My Review 

        This book has been sitting on my TBR pile for quite some time. The synopsis on the back of the book really drew me in, and thats why I originally bought it. I have never read anything else by the author, but I definitely will now! I really enjoyed Binchy's writing style: so simplistic, yet so detailed. That might sound a bit odd, but her she didn't use overly big words to try to make the story more elegant or classy; she simply wrote her story and it came across beautifully. I really enjoyed the main characters, Clare and David. Clare was a sympathetic character and I felt for her struggles. She was such a sweet girl who wanted more out of her simple life than just getting married off. She worked so hard to get her scholarships and become an independent woman. David, on the other hand, didn't have to work too hard to earn his way to university. He came from an affluent family of the town doctor. Yet he didn't come across as being snobbish or entitled. He enjoyed what he had, but still made the most out of his life. I also really enjoyed the two personalities of Clare and David.
        I was a little disappointed with the ending, however. There isn't a clear ending of what happens in the lives of Clare or David. There are some hints throughout the last third of the book, but I was still unsure of what happened. I can probably guess at the ending, but sometimes I like being more certain as to what occurred. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I can't wait to read more from Maeve Binchy!



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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Publishing Date: 9/29/2009
Publisher: Little Brown and Co.
ISBN 13: 9780316666343
328 Pages


Synopsis 

When we first meet Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. As she looks down from this strange new place, she tells us, in the fresh and spirited voice of a fourteen-year-old girl, a tale that is both haunting and full of hope.
          In the weeks following her death, Susie watches life continuing without her - her school friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her family holding out hope that she'll be found, her killer trying to cover his tracks. As months pass without leads, Susie sees her parents' marriage being contorted by loss, her sister hardening herself in an effort to stay strong, and her little brother trying to grasp the meaning of the word gone. 
           And she explores the place called heaven. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. There are counselors to help newcomers adjust and friends to room with. Everything she ever wanted appears as soon as she thinks of it - except the thing she wants most: to be back with the people she loved on Earth.
          With compassion, longing, and growing understanding, Susie sees her loved ones pass through grief and begin to mend. Her father embarks on a risk quest to ensnare her killer. Her sister undertakes a feat of remarkable daring. And the boy Susie cared for moves on, only to find himself at the center of a miraculous event.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. I was unique story in that its told from by a 14-year-old girl that ha already died and gone to heaven. It was refreshing to read how she thought of everyone else's actions. She understands the struggles her family and friends go through this hard time, and she tries to reach out to them, letting them know she's still with them. It was really sad to watch her parents struggle with their marriage and separate for a while. Unfortunately, this is incredibly common with parents that lose young children. It happened in my family as well. However, these people learns to cope with the death of their daughter/sister/friend and move on with their lives. Truly a great story! I really enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading other novels by Alice Sebold.


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Monday, March 18, 2013

Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

Body Surfing by Anita Shreve
Publishing Date: April 2007
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.
ISBN 13: 9780316059855
291 Pages


Synopsis

At the age of twenty-nine, Sydney has already been once divorced and once widowed. Trying to regain  her footing after this tragic double blow, she answers the ad of a couple seeking a tutor for their teenage daughter and ends up spending the summer at the cottage of the Edwards family on the stunning New Hampshire coast.

No sooner does Sydney settle into the household routine - acting as something between a servant and a family member - than the Edwardses' two grown sons, Ben and Jeff, show up for a weekend. Ben is a real-estate executive, Jeff is a professor. Both are handsome, both are accomplished, both are competitive. And both seem completely enraptured by Sydney.

As the weeks pass in this seaside idyll, Sydney enters a strange love triangle, infused with old rivalries and bitter secrets she can only guess at. And she begins to fear that the brothers' competition  for her affections could tear apart their family - and the fragile existence she has painstakingly rebuilt.

My Review

I have to say, I was a little disappointed with this book. After reading Eden Close, I thought I would be in for another great read by Anita Shreve. The beginning was a little slow, but I kept reading to see if it would pick up and get more exciting. About halfway through the book, there was a little more going on, and I started to really like it. But then it just went back to a slow story line. It just didn't keep me really entertained like I was hoping. However, on that note, I still really love Anita Shreve's writing style. She describes things so eloquently that I can picture everything. When I read her books, they almost have a calming feel to the writing and I really enjoy that aspect!


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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge



Take control of your TBR pile!


My TBR pile always seems to keep growing, and even though I read a lot, it never shrinks! I'm sure a lot of you know what I'm talking about. Thankfully, I came across this challenge at Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer's blog! I've been doing pretty well the last couple weeks just to chose books from my TBR pile that have been there a while. I'm leaving for vacation to PCB in a week and plan on bringing a lot of books with me, especially since we're driving and its about a 22 hour ride! 

Here are the books that I would like to finish by the end of this challenge (in no particular order). It's probably more than I can finish but I'm setting my hopes high! 

1. Kiss of the Bees by J.A. Jance
2. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
3. 3rd Degree by James Patterson
4. Echoes by Maeve Binchy
5. In the Woods by Tana French 
6. The Murderer's Daughter by Randy Susan Meyers
7. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Join in on the challenge! How many in your TBR pile can you get through by the end of March?!

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson
Publishing Date: 2010
Publisher: Vision
ISBN: 9781455506637
402 Pages


                          Synopsis

NYPD detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of Europe's most gorgeous cities. But the sights aren't what draw him - he sees each museum, each cathedral, and each cafe through the eyes of his daughter's killer. Kanon's daughter and her boyfriend were murdered while on vacation in Rome. Since then, you couples in Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Stockholm have een found dead. Little connects the murders, other than a postcard to the local newspaper that precedes each new victim. Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter Dessie Larsson, who has just received a postcard in Stockholm - and they think they know where the next victim will be.

My Review

I love James Patterson's books. They are so fast-paced and compelling. Whenever I pick one up, I finish it within a few days. This book was no different. It sucked me in immediately and didn't let go! I love the short chapters that he uses; it makes the book fly by. When I tell myself 'just one more chapter,' it turns into 5 or 6 more chapters. Patterson describes the scenes to thoroughly you feel as though you are right there with the characters. Amazing book! I highly recommend it to everyone!



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Room by Emma Donoghue


Room by Emma Donoghue 
Publishing Date: 9/13/2010
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN-13: 9780316223232
361 Pages

                     Synopsis 

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside Ma's own desperation - and she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer. 

My Review

Plain and simply, I loved this book. The writing style was a little difficult to get used to because it is told from the perspective of a 5-year-old boy. However, the more you read, the easier it gets. I really liked that this book was told from a child's point of view; not many adult books are. This book not only focuses on Ma's and Jack's time in Room, but also on how they cope once they are free. I feel many novels would end when they were able to escape, but this one didn't, and I think it made the book that much better. We empathize with Ma and her struggles to keep Jack happy, but also with her readjusting to the real world. We also follow how Jack copes with being around different people and learning about things that weren't in Room. I would recommend this book to everyone! I immediately gave it to my friend to read, as well as my mom, and they both loved it! I will definitely be reading other books by Ms. Donoghue. 


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Thursday, March 14, 2013

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

For One More Day by Mitch Albom
Publishing Date: 10/6/2006
Publisher: Hyperion
197 Pages


Synopsis 

For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that lasts a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

As a child, Charley Bennetto is told by his father, "You can be a mama's boy or you can be a daddy's boy, but you can't be both." So he chooses his father, and he worships him - right up to the day the man disappears. An eleven-year-old Charley must then turn to is mother, who bravely raises him on her own, despite Charley's embarrassment and yearnings for a complete family.

Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of the wedding.

And he decides to take his own life.

He makes a midnight right to his small hometown, with plans to do himself in. But upon failing even to do that, he staggers back to his old house, only to make an astonishing discovery. His mother - who died eight years earlier - is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing ever happened.

What follows is the one "ordinary" day so many of us year for, a change to make good with a lost parent, to explain family secrets, and to seek forgiveness. Somewhere between this life and the next, Charley learns the astonishing things he never knew about his mother and her sacrifices. And he tries, with her tender guidance, to put the crumbles pieces of his life back together.

My Review

I really enjoy Mitch Albom's books and his writing style. For One More Day was so refreshing and original. The story makes you think about your own life and how you treat others in it. It teaches you to take a couple minutes out of your busy day and appreciate those around you. I think a lot of times kids don't realize the sacrifices their parents make for them. We tend to assume they will do whatever we need from them, and that they'll always be there. This book teaches us that our parents had lives before us, and that they gave up a lot when they chose to have children. They don't regret having children, but this still have lives outside of their kids, and us as children, need to respect that. I really hope that people continue to appreciate those around them and never take their life, or others in their life, for granted.


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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Publishing Date: 2011
Publisher: Harcourt Books
319 pages

Synopsis

Pi Patel, a God-loving boy and the son of a zookeeper, has a fervent love of stories and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family and their zoo animals emigrate from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship. Alas, the ship sinks - and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi. Can Pi and the tiger find their way to land? Can Pi's fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they do?

My Review

I'm kind of undecided about this book. I liked the story, and I thought it was very well written. However, it didn't seem to suck me in the way it seems to have of many other readers. I thought the story was compelling, and I wanted to keep reading it, but at the same time, I was kind of disappointed. I expected this book to completely wrap me up in the story, but it just didn't. I'm actually quite sad that this book wasn't what I thought it would be. This is not to say that it wasn't a good book, and that others shouldn't read it. I will still recommend this to others. It just isn't in my top favorites. But I really did enjoy the passages about having multiple religions. I'm not a very religious person, but I think its interesting how this subject was talked about. You can have multiple nationalities, identify with multiple ethnicities, so why can't you have multiple religions? Just a thought...

Favorite Quotes

- "Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs what it can." pg. 6

- "These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart." pg. 71

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Eden Close by Anita Shreve

Eden Close by Anita Shreve
Publication Date: 10/4/2005
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
ISBN: 978015631332
265 pages

Synopsis

A compelling tale of edgy, small-town emotions, lingering obsession, and romantic salvation.

Andrew, after many years, returns to his hometown to attend his mother's funeral. Planning to remain only a few days, he is drawn into the tragic legacy of his childhood friend and beautiful girl next door, Eden Close. An adopted child, Eden had learned to avoid the mother who did not want her and to please the father who did. She also aimed to please Andrew and his friends, first by being one of the boys and later by seducing them. Then one hot night, Andrew was awakened by gunshots and piercing screams from the next farm: Mr. Close had been killed and Eden blinded.

Now, seventeen years later, Andrew begins to uncover the grisly story - to unravel the layers of thwarted love between the husband, wife, and tormented girl. And as the truth about Eden's past comes to light, so too does Andrew's strange and binding attachment to her her reveal itself.

My Review

This is the first Anita Shreve book that I've read and I have to say that I loved it! I had read a few other reviews about the book before I read it and they were pretty mixed, so I didn't know what to expect. However, I already had a copy of the book so I figured I would give it a try rather than just let it sit on my shelves unread. I was very pleasantly surprised! This was such a compelling story. Something about it just made me want to keep reading more; I could never put it down! I loved the two main characters, Andrew and Eden; they were so easy to relate with and understand. I was rooting for their relationship the entire time!

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: 2011
Publisher: Anchor Books
ISBN: 9780307744432
516 Pages


Synopsis

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

My Review

"The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones." Erin Morgenstern's quote in The Night Circus sums up my view on this book. I first bought this book as a Christmas gift for a friend, and long story short, as a result of a mix-up, I had two copies. I had read the back of the book many times, and just wasn't sure if it was something that would interest me. Eventually I decided to start reading it because I had just finished another book and couldn't decide what to read next. Wow. This book went beyond all of my expectations! I was drawn into it immediately and didn't want to put it down. This book is riveting, magical. I couldn't wait to keep reading it to find out what happened next. Every detail was described so thoroughly I could picture everything and felt like I was at the circus myself! I can't wait for Ms. Morgenstern to write another spellbinding novel!