Saturday, January 30, 2010

Book Review--Winter's End by Jean-Claude Mourlevat (mini-review)

This is a dystopian YA book. It is a tale of a suppressed society where the children of a resistance movement have been kept in boarding schools that are not much better than prisons after their parents are dispatched. At the heart of the story is the suppression of arts and freedom. It takes the daughter and son of the resistance movement's most beloved figures to start the movement in motion once again.  The scenario in this book is something that could happen in any nation where censorship is allowed to flourish because censorship of the arts is ultimately at the heart of this story.  Anyone who enjoys reading  books about a suppressive society being overcome by freedom fighters would enjoy this book.  An exciting read containing inspiration and the triumph of the human spirit.

About the Book:

One voice is the weapon against tyranny in this powerful hymn to courage and freedom. Four teenagers escape from their prison-like boarding schools to take up the fight against the tyrannical government that murdered their parents fifteen years earlier. Fleeing across icy mountains from a pack of terrifying dog-men sent to hunt them down, only three of the friends make it safely to Jahn's Restaurant, the headquarters of a secret resistance movement. It is here they learn about courage, freedom and love, and discover the astonishing power of one voice as the battle begins - to free a depressed and terrified nation from a generation of cruelty, and to save their captured friend, forced to fight to the death in a barbaric ancient game.

Read for the following challenges:

ARC Reading Challenge 2010
Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010
2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge
100+ Reading Challenge

Pages Read Challenge--415 pages (Total to date: 743 pages)


 
FTC Disclaimer:  I received this ARC from Libary Thing as an early reviewer.  I did not receive any monetary compensation for reading and reviewing this book.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Addicted to the Past--The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Today in history, January 29, 1845, one of the most famous poems by Edgar Allan Poe (one of my favorite authors) was first published.  Poe was a true master of the macabre and The Raven was no exception in bringing forth an atmosphere of gloom and terror.

 I give you...





The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore,.
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore,
Nameless here forevermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me---filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
" 'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door,
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door.
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you." Here I opened wide the door;---
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word,
Lenore?, This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word,
"Lenore!" Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before,
"Surely," said I, "surely, that is something at my window lattice.
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore.
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore.
" 'Tis the wind, and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven, of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door.
Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore.
Tell me what the lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore."
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door,
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered;
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before;
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master, whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster, till his songs one burden bore,---
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never---nevermore."

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore --
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee -- by these angels he hath
Sent thee respite---respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, O quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore!"

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--
On this home by horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore:
Is there--is there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me I implore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil--prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore--
Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden, whom the angels name Lenore---
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting--
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! -- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted---nevermore!

~Edgar Allan Poe

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character--The Vampire Lestat

I am a day late posting this...sorry about that! I fell asleep early last night.

This weekly event was created by Ryan at Wordsmithonia.

The Vampire Lestat...there's not much more a person can say about him.  Just the name is enough, at least for those of us that are loyal Anne Rice fans.  Lestat--dubbed the Brat Prince, the Wolf Killer and other very appropriate monikers--is the epitome of the evil protagonist with a yearning to overcome a fate he did not choose and find some sense of humanity again.  I have read the Vampire Chronicles through Memnoch the Devil and I am currently rereading them via audio book (in preparation for picking up the next book in the series, The Vampire Armand).  In Interview with the Vampire, told from the point of view of Louis, Lestat is demonized.  But as the books progress, so does Lestat.  We get that Louis has made him out to be more evil than he truly is, but really I think a large part of that evil leaves him after the Claudia debacle in Interview.  Lestat is witty, clever, impish, and fiercely loyal to those he loves.  He really is the most unique vampire ever written (IMO).  I think that is why it has been so difficult to find exactly the right person to portray him, which I will discuss below.

There have been two movies based on the Vampire ChroniclesInterview with the Vampire which starred Tom Cruise as Lestat and Queen of the Damned with Stuart Townsend portraying him.  The film version of Interview with the Vampire was by far the better adaptation.  And while Cruise did a pretty good job (I mean he did play entirely against type), I still was not completely satisfied with the depiction.  Queen of the Damned was a hot mess.  They took one of my most favorite books and basically destroyed it.  Stuart Townsend did okay playing the rock star version of Lestat, but there just was not any depth of character.  I really wish they would remake that movie, but alas, it probably will not happen.  If they do make more movies from the books, I don't know who should play Lestat.  It's going to take just the right person to satisfy me and I'm not sure if that person even exists!

If you have not read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and discovered Lestat, you are really missing out.  Ask any Rice fan who their favorite character is...I bet the majority will answer with a resounding LESTAT!  

The Vampire Chronicles (in the order they should be read):

1. Interview with the Vampire (1976)
2. The Vampire Lestat (1985)
3. The Queen of the Damned (1988)
4. The Tale of the Body Thief (1992)
5. Memnoch the Devil (1995)
6. The Vampire Armand (1998)
7. Merrick (2000)
8. Blood and Gold (2001)
9. Blackwood Farm (2002)
10. Blood Canticle (2003)

For more information on Anne Rice, click on her picture in my right sidebar.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In explanation...


Yes, I am admitting it here today...I won a Sony Reader (pocket edition) from Shauna at Book Giveaways.  As my friends and followers probably know, I have been very outspoken about equating e-readers with the devil.  LOL! So as to not to look like a complete hypocrite, I feel I should offer an explanation.  As many of you know, I am a college student.  After having a conversation with Sarah Winters (and others) on Twitter about e-readers, I found out that textbooks can be downloaded on to them.  Starting in the fall, I will no longer be taking online classes and will be traipsing around campus.  Carrying a small e-reader instead of lugging around heavy textbooks will be so much easier.  Also, I'm hoping that the pocket edition has audio book capabilities. *fingers crossed*  So, dear friends, please do not judge me too harshly.  I have not crossed over to the dark side.  I will still always prefer books in their "natural" state.  Also, to pay $10 or more for a book that I can't even put in my bookshelf (except for textbooks) is something I could never do! I may download a classic or two, if they're free, but I will not become the next Darth Vader! 

A Buck A Book Challenge


Welcome to DelGal's “A-Buck-A-Book” Challenge.

Here's a great way to reward yourself for reading persistence and save money at the same time. Read as many books as you'd like, there is no minimum, and there is no maximum. BUT, here's the "catch", you MUST physically take a dollar and save it somewhere safe where it won't be spent, every time you complete a book. At the end of the year, your total money saved will be the total amount of books read, ideally the more book read, the more money saved.

Now, once Dec 31 comes, you're must spend this saved money on something fun just for yourself (no paying bills, no buying gifts for someone else!), to begin the next year... Maybe more books for the new year? A nice dinner out to celebrate reading? The possibilities are endless! Finally, once this challenge completes on Dec 31st, please let your blog fans, and fellow challenge participants, know what you decided to spend your money on by posting whatever it may be. If it's $5 or if it's $100, we want to know what you rewarded yourself with for a year of hard yet enjoyable fun reading!

In short - put aside a dollar for each book you read. Post in the comment section your progress if you don't have a blog, or a link to your blog. At the end of the year update us as to what you did with your saved money. That's it!

Note:  This post is also posted on my challenge blog.

Books read:  2
Dollars saved:  $2.00

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mailbox Monday (another late edition)


Mailbox Monday is a weekly event hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

First of all, I just have to mention that my home library went over the 1700 books mark this weekend! Woo hoo...can I officially call myself the Queen of the book hoarders?! LOL!

Here are the books that came into my house over this past week. (Click the book titles for plot synopses)

Won (and received in the mail):

This was won from Alexia's Haiku Contest for her 100 Followers celebration.  Here is my winning Haiku:

My heart is stolen.
History has taken it
on a quest through time.

Thanks again Alexia!


Under This Unbroken Sky--Shandi Mitchell (won from Alexia's Books and Such...)






In the mail:

This was an belated Christmas present from my sister.  I was so excited when I opened it...I have been wanting this book so bad!


The Dark Divine by Bree Despain



From BOMC2:

The Daily Writer: 366 meditations to cultivate a productive and meaningful writing life--Fred White








Bought:

I went to the quarterly used book sale at the Brentwood Library and I got some great books, of course! All of these for $19 including two CDs and one VHS movie.


The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet--Colleen McCullough



Kleopatra--Karen Essex



The Coming of the King--Nikolai Tolstoy



Ithaka--Adele Geras



Cathedral of the Sea--Ildefonso Falcones



Wide Sargasso Sea--Jean Rhys



Lady of Quality--Georgette Heyer



A Rose of Virtue--Norah Lofts



Pargeters--Norah Lofts



Dark Days (omnibus edition): Nightwalker & Dayhunter--Jocelynn Drake



Three Fates--Nora Roberts



The Night Villa--Carol Goodman



Killing Mister Watson--Peter Matthiessen



A Friend of the Earth--T.C. Boyle



The Wind that Shakes the Barley--James Barke



Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas--Ace Collins










I hope you received some book goodness in your home last week!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Addicted to the Past--Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn


Today in history, January 25, 1533, King Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn were secretly married.  Now I know some of us have often  wished we could go back and change a choice we made...whether it be who we married or some other path taken.  I know I do have! LOL! So it only makes sense that Anne Boleyn was thinking the same thing just a few years after the fateful day she married Henry. 

So what made Anne finally give up the ghost and marry Henry after resisting him for so long.  Pressure from her family, her own ambition to be queen, and I suppose she, like so many women, actually believed that Henry was over the moon for her.  Perhaps she should have taken a clue from how easily Henry got rid of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, even if he didn't have her executed.  He probably would have if not for fear of repercussions from her nephew, Emperor Charles V.

Although I regret that Anne was wrongly dispatched by the king, I am thankful for this day because without the union of Henry and Anne the world would never have known one of the greatest monarchs in history, Elizabeth I of England.  So really, Anne won in the end.  Good for her!



Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm a Star!!!



Check it out...Today I'm being featured over at Book Chick City for her New Blogs on the Block feature! Thanks Carolyn for the wonderful feature =O)  I'm sure you all have already visited her blog, but if you haven't, you must! She is a wonderful blogger!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: The Lovely Bones...Book and Movie

The Lovely Bones is more than just a story of the tragedy of a murdered girl.  It is the story of a family and how the aftershocks of such a tragedy can rend and tear at the fragile threads that hold it together.  For anyone who has children, this is an especially difficult read because there are predators in this world and this story is something that could really happen--albeit without the fantastical elements.  I really liked the way Sebold had Susie in heaven and yet she was able to watch her family and almost make them feel her presence.  The story was really a parallel of a family that needed fixing and a girl who needed to move on to her afterlife.  Only after the family was able to heal (at the level that healing is possible when something like this happens), was Susie able to realize her peace.  The book is also very suspenseful and holds one of the most vial characters I have ever had the displeasure of reading.  I recommend this book for its beautiful writing and its cautionary tone...teach your children to keep their trust close.  There are monsters in this world and they can live right across the street.

The Lovely Bones--the movie

This was a very good movie.  Of course, what can we expect from Peter Jackson?! It stays relatively true to the book, with a few minor differences.  I have read critics complain that Jackson took too soft of a tone by not portraying that Susie is raped and murdered.  Depicting the rape, or even letting on that she was raped, was not necessary.  Anyone with a brain can figure out that this happens...clues are given in the obsessive behavior of the murderer.  It is beautifully acted.  Saoirse Ronan as Susie brings such luminosity to the role.  This girl has a very bright future in acting.  And Stanley Tucci...wow! I knew he was a good actor, but he really brings creepiness to a new level. 

Go see this movie, but read the book first (if possible).  I liked the movie, but I liked the book better (of course).

This book was read for these challenges:

Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge
Monthly Mixer Mele
Countdown Challenge 2010
New Authors Challenge




FTC Disclaimer:  This book came from my personal shelves and I did not receive any compensation for reading and reviewing it.

You are missed...


Today I am honoring one of my favorite actors, Heath Ledger, who died two years ago today.  His untimely death brought to a close the life of an actor who was just realizing his great potential and a father who adored his little girl.  I myself have a constant reminder of Heath in my life.  In 2000, Heath starred in The Patriot with Mel Gibson.  This was one of his earlier films and I was already a fan, but I recognized that he possessed real talent.  His character in the film was named Gabriel and this was the early inspiration for the name I chose for my eldest son.  His name is Gabriel.

I was so happy last year when Heath won the Oscar for his role in Batman posthumously.  An honor I'm sure he still would have received had he not died so suddenly.

I hope that wherever he is now that he is at peace.  I remember you today, Heath.  You are missed.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character--Hermione Granger


FFC is from the mind of Ryan at Wordsmithonia.

When I started reading the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling, I found a kindred spirit in Hermione Granger.  Like me, she is a girl who loves school and learning...loves pouring through books in the library and reading ahead of the class in all her textbooks.  But Hermione is more than just a girl who is a little geeky and bookish.  She is a strong female character that any girl...or woman...can look up to.  She knows her own mind, is fiercely loyal and is a true friend.  And she believes in righting the wrongs of social injustice (who can forget her taking on the cause of the Hogwart's House Elves!).  There are many characters in the Harry Potter books that are favorites, but Hermione stands out as my most favorite because I see myself in her.  It might (not) surprise you to know that I took one of those "which Harry Potter character are you?" quizzes and guess who I was?  Hermione Granger! I have not yet read the last book in the series, but I'm hoping that Hermione will get her ultimate wish...to be with Ron as more than just friends (something that we finally saw the spark of in Half-Blood Prince).  If you haven't already, take another look at Hermione.  She is a character well worth remembering.



Do you have a favorite fictional character?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Awards

I am disastrously behind in accepting these awards and I hope that the good people that saw fit to give them to me will forgive me!


I received the Mermaid Splash Award from Missy at Missy's Book Nook.  Thanks Missy!

The rules are as follows:

1. Put the logo on your blog/post.
2. Nominate up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link to the person from whom your received your Splash award.
6. Have F~U~N

Jennifer at Reading with Tequila
Marie at The Burton Review
Arleigh at historical-fiction.com
Wonders and Marvels


I received the Honest Scrap Award from CelticLady at Blog O' the Irish.  Thank you!

This Honest Scrap Award is for those bloggers who write from the heart. The rules are:

Pass it on to 7 deserving bloggers and write 10 honest things about yourself.

1. Bard Girl at Melancholy Musings
2. Heather at Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books
3. Angie Muresan
4. A Buckeye Girl Reads
5. One Persons Journey through a world of books
6. J. Kaye's Book Blog
7. My Friend Amy

Ten Honest Things

1. My sons are the light of my life, but they drive me crazy at times!
2. My header says I'm a part-time procrastinator, but I think I'm actually a full-time procrastinator...LOL!
3. I think I've become a book hoarder (but I don't care)!
4. I moved to Nashville to be a singer. Wondering why you don't have any of my CDs?!
5. I still sing, but in the karaoke venue =O)
6. I was a cheerleader throughout high school.
7. I'm currently researching a novel. I've been "writing a novel" for 15 years!
8. I was unlucky enough to find a dead body once (I know, ewwww!)
9. I had a near death experience on a roller coaster.
10.I think I was a cat in a previous life.



The Who Loves You Baby award comes to me from Book Dragon's Lair.  Thanks so much!

The rules of this award is to pass it on to fellow bloggers who awarded you in the past.

I'm passing this on to:




I received the One Lovely Blog Award from A Buckeye Girl Reads.  Thanks Buckeye Girl!!!

The rules of this award are that I'm to pass the award onto 15 bloggers whose blog you've recently discovered.  I'm going to thwart the rules a bit and pass this on to a lesser amount, as I'm working under a time constraint (albeit self-imposed).

Here are the recipients:

Helen Loves Books
Book Dragon's Lair
Brizmus Blogs Books
Busy is Reading



I received the Happy 101 award from Helen at Helen Loves Books.  Thank you Helen!

Here are the rules:

List 10 things that make you happy and then give this award to 10 book blogs that brighten your day.

1. My sons
2. the rest of my family
3. Alis, my cat
4. books
5. used book sales
6. not working
7. watching movies (at home and at theater)
8. a good restaurant meal
9. good music
10. book bloggers!
The 10 lucky bloggers:

Ryan at Wordsmithonia
Melissa at My World
Deb at Bookmagic
Krista at Life or Something Like It
CelticLady at Blog O' the Irish
Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine
Angie Muresan
Psychotic State
Allie at Hist-Fic Chick
Lizzy J at Historically Obsessed



The Humane Award has been given me by my friend Ryan at Wordsmithonia.

This award is to honor certain bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendship through the blog world.

Lisa at Lit and Life
Laurel-Rain Snow's Reflections
Michelle at Red-Headed Book Child
CelticLady at Blog O' the Irish
J.T. at Bibliofreak
Laura's Reviews





I received the Prolific Blogger award from One Person's Journey through a world of Books.  Thank you, thank you...I am so honored that you think I'm a prolific blogger!

A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!

2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners. (Click here for the Mr. Linky page.)

The awardees:

1. Carolyn at Book Chick City
2. Kill them all, God will know his own
3. Molly at Book Reviews by Buuklvr81
4. Bookin' with Bingo
5. Passages to the Past
6. Ready When You Are, C.B.
7. Jules' Book Reviews

Thanks again for all the awards! Please be sure to visit each and every one of the bloggers I've listed.  They are great and should be visited often.

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