Thursday, September 19, 2013

Updated To-Read List

Just a few updates to the To-Read list:

Love Minus EightyLove Minus Eighty

Years in the future, dead women in cryogenic dating farms await rich, lonely suitors to resurrect them and take them home. LOVE MINUS EIGHTY follows interconnected lives touched by these dating farms. There's Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sells everything to visit her, seeking her forgiveness but instead falling in love. Veronika, a socially-awkward dating coach, finds herself responsible for the happiness of a man whose life she saved against his will. And Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in the heterosexual dating center near its inception, desperately seeks a way to reunite with her frozen partner as the centuries pass. In this daring and big-hearted novel based on the Hugo-winning short story, the lovelorn navigate a world in which technology has reached the outer limits of morality and romance.

Long Live the Queen (The Immortal Empire #3)

Long Live the Queen (The Immortal Empire, #3)Xandra Vardan thought life would be simpler when she accepted the goblin crown and became their queen, but life has only become more complicated. Everyone -- vampires, werewolves and humans -- wants the goblins on their side, because whoever has the goblins -- wins. 

Queen Victoria wants her head, Alpha wolf Vex wants her heart, and she still doesn't know the identity of the person who wanted her blood. What she does know is that a project from one of the 'secret' aristocrat labs has gotten free and she's the only one who can stop the perfect killing machine -- a sixteen year-old girl. With human zealots intent on ridding the world of anyone with plagued blood and supernatural politics taking Britain to the verge of civil war, Xandra's finding out that being queen isn't all it's cracked up to be, and if she doesn't do something fast, hers will be the shortest reign in history.

Jumping Off SwingsJumping Off Swings

Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they

begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a
while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character’s point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl’s life — and the realities of leaving innocence behind.

Anna Dressed in Blood
Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
Cas Lowood, armed with his late father's athame knife, kills ghosts. In Thunder Bay, Anna, forever 16, drips blood on her white dress from throat slit in 1958, and rips apart anyone who enters her house - except Cas. He makes new friends - high school queen Carmel, jock Will, admiring nerd Thomas and Tom's voodoo grandpa Morfran - to fight this demon.


The Final Descent (The Monstrumologist #4)The Final Descent (The Monstrumologist #4)

Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop have encountered many horrors together—but can Will endure a monstrumological terror without his mentor?

Will Henry has been through more that seems possible for a boy of fourteen. He’s been on the brink of death on more than one occasion, he has gazed into hell—and hell has stared back at him, and known his face. But through it all, Dr. Warthrop has been at his side.

When Dr. Warthrop fears that Will’s loyalties may be shifting, he turns on Will with a fury, determined to reclaim his young apprentice’s devotion. And so Will must face one of the most horrific creatures of his monstrumology career—and he must face it alone.

Over the course of one day, Will’s life—and Pellinor Warthrop’s destiny—will lie in balance. In the terrifying depths of the Monstrumarium, they will face a monster more terrible than any they could have imagined—and their fates will be decided.

It's Hard not to Hate You by Valerie Frankel

Read: September 8-13, 2013
read in 6 days
pages: 242

It's Hard Not to Hate You

Book blurb:

From the author of THIN IS THE NEW HAPPY comes a hilarious new memoir about embracing your Inner Hater. In the midst of a health and career crisis, Valerie uncorks years of pent up rage, and discovers you don't have to be happy to be happy. You don’t have to love everyone else to like yourself. And that your Bitchy Twin might just be your funniest, most valuable and honest ally.

“The hate in you has got to come out.” After being advised to reduce stress by her doctor, humorist Valerie Frankel realized the biggest source of pressure in her life was maintaining an unflappable easing-going persona. After years of glossing over the negative, Frankel goes on a mission of emotional honesty, vowing to let herself feel and express all the toxic emotions she’d long suppressed or denied: jealousy, rage, greed, envy, impatience, regret. Frankel reveals her personal History of Hate, from mean girls in junior high, selfish boyfriends in her twenties and old professional rivals. Hate stomps through her current life, too, with snobby neighbors, rude cell phone talkers, scary doctors and helicopter moms. Regarding her husband, she asks, “How Do I Hate You? Let Me Count the Ways.” (FYI: There are three.) By the end of her authentic emotional experience, Frankel concludes that toxic emotions areactually good for you. The positive thinkers, aka, The Secret crowd, have it backwards. Trying to ward off negativity was what’d been causing Frankel’s career stagnation, as well as her health and personal problems. With the guidance of celebrity friends like Joan Rivers and psychic Mary T. Browne, Frankel now uses anger, jealousy and impatience as tools to be a better, balanced and deeper person. IT'S HARD NOT TO HATE YOU sends the message that there are no wrong emotions, only wrong ways of dealing with them.

This was just a unique and interesting find at the library. I once in a while will stroll over to the memoir section and in this instance happened to find a really funny title. So I pick it up to check it out. It was comical and at times I did literally laugh out loud. I could relate once in a while to some of the instances the author referred to, but like her what can you really do about it. I'd like to take one example though and apply it to my own personal life. For instance she describes a lunch with a friend in which the friend kept checking her phone for messages and such, which I have happen to me on a regular basis when I go out with one particular friend. Like the author I find this to be very rude and insulting. I'd like to say to said friend, "How about next time I bring a book along to read so we can both be entertained if the other is so boring?" I mean really. Put your darn phone away and interact with the person you went to lunch with for crying out loud. It is common courtesy after all. I'm not sure I'd really recommend the book to anyone since I don't really know someone who would be interested, but maybe readers of Chelsea Handler would find humor here as well.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Read: August 31-September 8, 2013
read in 9 days
pages: 326

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Book blurb:

Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.

Wow, this was so good. I did make the mistake of reading a few reviews while I was in the middle of this book, but I have to say the reviews did not sway me away from this book. I read a couple that just gave this book 1 star and called the book cheesy and simple. I have to disagree. This was  a great book in my opinion. The movie was actually recommended to me, and the person that I am....I ALWAYS want to read the book BEFORE the movie. After having read this book though, I don't honestly think I can watch the movie no matter the actors in it or how well a job they do in the portrayal. I just know I'll be disappointed. And I was very satisfied with the novel. I don't want the enjoyment of reading the novel to be tinged with the dissatisfaction of watching the movie. I've found too often that elements and characters are changed. And not just the small stuff, but things that I felt were important to the story and how it was told and more importantly that cause a character to react the way they do. It can completely change the hole story and I'd rather not have that happen with this one.

For me this was a great novel because it literally had me moved to tears. I don't think I can say that of any other novel I've read. EVER. So to me that in itself was a big deal. I had to put this book down because I was crying so much. I highly recommend this book to others. I think this will encourage me to read more by Foer because I enjoyed this one so much. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Read: August 27-31, 2013
read in 5 days
pages: 256

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Book blurb:

A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman's first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.

This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real...

This book was not what I was expecting at all, but I can't honestly say what I was expecting from it. I don't tend to read reviews because I end up letting them sway me away from reading when one person posts a bad review of a novel I'm interested in. I also did not read too deeply into the book blurb to figure out what to expect, so I'd say my expectations were unbiased aside from the fact that I generally enjoy Neil Gaiman's novels on the whole.

I'd say this was no different a situation in that I enjoyed the novel and it reads very quickly. Especially once I was sucked into the plot. It is unique as most of Neil Gaiman's books are, and the story has a very creative and interesting cast of characters. The events that take place are unlike anything you read in other novels because they are tinged with this child-like imagination and a hint of fantasy that make Gaiman's writing so unique.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Read: August 22-27, 2013
read in 6 days
pages: 288

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Book blurb:

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

This was a great find for me. There is mystery, intrigue, relevance with the times and a bookstore!!! A wonderful group of elements for me all in one little package. Oh and what a package!! This book literally glowed in the dark which was a funny little discovery as I walked to my bedroom, book clutched in hand, in the dark! After getting interested once again in this pursuit to solve an intellectual mystery I started searching Goodreads frantically for other books similar in nature, however the recommendations are just books that people who enjoyed Penumbra also enjoyed these other books....which sadly are not like Penumbra. So glad to have found this book and welcomed this story into the stories within my mind!

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Read: August 14-17, 2013
read over three days
pages: 162


Book blurb:

Coraline lives with her preoccupied parents in part of a huge old house--a house so huge that other people live in it, too... round, old former actresses Miss Spink and Miss Forcible and their aging Highland terriers ("We trod the boards, luvvy") and the mustachioed old man under the roof ("'The reason you cannot see the mouse circus,' said the man upstairs, 'is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed.'") Coraline contents herself for weeks with exploring the vast garden and grounds. But with a little rain she becomes bored--so bored that she begins to count everything blue (153), the windows (21), and the doors (14). And it is the 14th door that--sometimes blocked with a wall of bricks--opens up for Coraline into an entirely alternate universe. Now, if you're thinking fondly of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you're on the wrong track. Neil Gaiman's Coraline is far darker, far stranger, playing on our deepest fears. And, like Roald Dahl's work, it is delicious.
What's on the other side of the door? A distorted-mirror world, containing presumably everything Coraline has ever dreamed of... people who pronounce her name correctly (not "Caroline"), delicious meals (not like her father's overblown "recipes"), an unusually pink and green bedroom (not like her dull one), and plenty of horrible (very un-boring) marvels, like a man made out of live rats. The creepiest part, however, is her mirrored parents, her "other mother" and her "other father"--people who look just like her own parents, but with big, shiny, black button eyes, paper-white skin... and a keen desire to keep her ontheir side of the door. To make creepy creepier, Coraline has been illustrated masterfully in scritchy, terrifying ink drawings by British mixed-media artist and Sandman cover illustrator Dave McKean. This delightful, funny, haunting, scary as heck, fairy-tale novel is about as fine as they come. 
Interesting little story. Not what  expected at all. I tend to expect the unexpected with Gaiman's work, and he did not disappoint here. I believe this was turned into an animation movie as well. I'm not likely to check it out, but was glad I finally got around to reading this little book.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, Louis Slobodkin (Illustrations)

Read: August 17, 2013
read in an hour
pages: 80

The Hundred Dresses

Book Blurb:

Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.” This powerful, timeless story has been reissued in paperback with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.

Great little book with a very important lesson on standing up to bullying as well as how to behave when faced with bullying. Highly recommended reading for children and adults as well (some could be reminded of this important topic).