Saturday, August 15, 2009

Japanese Literature Challenge 3


Isn't that a beautiful picture? I couldn't deny myself this challenge, because I love Japanese Literature so much! Dolce Bellezza is hosting the challenge and for the official rules and time click here.
I only have two books on my list thus far, but I hope to have more to follow.
1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
2. Eat, Sleep, Sit by Kaoru Nonomura

R.I.P. Challenge IV


Yay! I have been looking forward to this challenge for some time now. To see the official rules and to sign up, click on the link here.
For this particular challenge, I am joining in on Peril the First. I will be reading four books. They are as follows:

1. Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

3. The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe

4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Firefly Lane

Title: Firefly Lane
Author: Kristin Hannah
Pages: 479
Genre: Fiction, Chick-Lit
Rating: 4/5

I know, I know! I have been totally MIA lately, and have been lacking in the review department. I have been reading though. I read the whole Twilight series, which I have chosen NOT to review.

I have been really sick and tired and BUSY, but now that my energy is back, I am back in the full swing of things, and ready to be reviewing the books that I have read, and need to get my butt in gear to reach my 100 books in 2009 reading goal! I am no where near that!

Now to the review:

Firefly Lane follows the lives of two girls, Tully and Kate, who meet while in eighth-grade. They could not be more opposite. Tully lives with her grandmother most of the time, but occasionally, she lives with her flaky mother, Cloud, who is a hippie and cares more about drugs than her own daughter. Kate is an introvert, who is a little socially awkward, and lives with her perfectly normal family. They meet when Tully moves in across the street from Kate. The friendship starts off by happenstance, but they quickly develop a trust in each other.

Through the 70's until present day, we follow Tully and Kate through their lives struggles and triumphs. Marriages and relationships, and everything in between.

The story is very endearing and reminded me of the relationship between my best friend and myself. I cried like a baby, but I am sure it is the influx of hormones in my body right now, but I loved the book. I recommend this book especially when one can relate to a close relationship like having a lifelong best friend.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Review: Tess of the D'Urbervilles


Title: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Author: Thomas Hardy
Genre: Tragedy/Fiction/Classic
Rating: 4/5

Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Where to start? Tess is a classic novel written by Thomas Hardy in 1891. The story is set in England where Tess Durbeyfield and her family are living a simple life, until one day her father discovers that they are of a noble name D'Urberville. Tess goes to live with the D'Urbervilles to help out and claim some of the benefits of this noble name. The son of the Mrs, D'Urberville, Alec, loves Tess. After some unfortunate events, Tess moves back home for a few years.

Tess finds that she can no longer just stay at home, so she finds herself working as a dairy maid and meets the love of her life, Angle Clare. They eventually get married but quickly stumble along quite a few road blocks.

I can not say anymore. You must read this book. It is full of love, turmoil, heartache, and surprise in ways you would never think. I loved this book. I have to admit that the words were a little difficult for me at first, as I was unfamiliar with English Classic Literature, but once you get in the groove, you cannot put this down. READ IT!!!

*****************************

I apoligize for a somewhat lame review. I really have no idea how to review this book in a way that does it any justice. I promise you this will become a favorite if you just read it!~

Monday, June 1, 2009

Review: The Life of Pi



Title: The Life of Pi
Author: Yann Martel
Pages: 325
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5
The Life of Pi is a story of a boy who is moving to Canada from India with his family. They are going by boat because they have to deliver some animals along the way from the zoo they owned in India. While they are at sea, the cargo boat sinks and everyone aboard unfortunately does not make it except for Pi. He finds himself on a life boat with a tiger, zebra, hyena, and orangutan. After so long the only two who are left is Pi and the tiger, Richard Parker. Pi is at sea for 7 months before finally reaching land in Mexico. The majority of the novel talks of his journey at sea with just himself and Richard Parker.
Before you even get to the story of the journey at sea, Pi talks about his religious beliefs. He practices Christianity, Hinduism, and Muslim. In a way I appreciate that part of the book because there are many great things in all religions not just one. He also relates the zoo to religion. I don't have the book anymore so I cannot take a direct quote, but to summarize and to tell you my take on what was meant is this. The animals in the zoo are kept in cages, or restricted if you will, but also they get the best of what life has to offer. A meal (spiritual fulfillment), a clean home (peace of mind), someone looking after them (God). Zoo's are at time protested against because the animals are not "free to live their own lives" and so the same for religious believers; not "free to live their own lives". I found the first section to be very thought provoking and delicious.
When the second part of the book starts, I enjoyed reading but my love turned to just like. I am sure the story goes a lot deeper than I can see, but it seemed to be very long. I felt like it was going on forever. I also thought that for someone who is so religious, I did not hear much of God, and he did not mention too much about him praying and relying on a Higher Power. I thought that to be just a little odd, especially because he was so religious before the ship sank. Why would he, at the darkest part of his life, not have God be a bigger part of the story?
All in all, I enjoyed the book. I gave it 3 out of 5.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Review & GIVEAWAY: The Mighty Queens of Freeville

Title: The Mighty Queens of Freeville
Author: Amy Dickenson
Pages: 244
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 3.5/5

The Mighty Queens of Freeville is written by Amy Dickenson who is the advice columnist who took the place of Dear Abby, after Abby's passing. This memoir chronicles her life and how she got to be where she is today.

When Amy had a small daughter, her husband left her. She was living in London at the time, so she packed up and moved back to her home in Freeville, NY. She tells of her family and how it consists of strong women. All the men have left. The story had a feeling of Steel Magnolias meets The Secret Life of Bee's. There are so many good things about the book, good quotes, good life lessons, stories of the power of women (go us!), and also some struggles and loneliness along the way.

At times the story seemed a little redundant, but that feeling quickly passes. This was a very easy read, quick to get through, lighthearted, and pleasant. I overall enjoyed the reading. It was a nice change from Tess of the D'Ubervilles. (Did anyone else find that one hard to read, or is it just me?) This book is a great choice for a Read-A-Thon (hint, hint) which means that I will be giving it away!!!!

I won this book from Jessica, again THANK YOU! and now I will be passing this along to someone else! All you need to do to enter is...
1. Tell me about an influential woman in your life.

2. Email address please!!!

I will have a winner May 1st
****************************************************************************
Also reviewed by:

Laura@ReadingReflections
Jessica@Bluestocking Society
Bermudaonion
Word Lily

Monday, April 20, 2009

Read-A-Thon 2009

Yes, I know I am a little late with posting this. The Read-A-Thon (RAT) was a great success! I want to give a HUGE thank you to Trish, Hannah, and Nymeth. They organized everything so well. I know I am not alone in saying this, but this RAT was so much fun this year. All of this would not have been possible if not for the lovely ladies mentioned above. I was unable to participate as a reader this year, but I tried to cheer as much as I could. I really appreciated reading all of the updates and the silly video's here, and here.

I am really looking forward to the next go around. I will participate as an "official cheerleader" next time instead of just doing it all on my own.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Review: The Kite Runner


Title: The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Pages: 371
Genre:Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

T
his book was such an easy read, because I was always interested in the story line. There was always something that kept my attention and interest. Amir is the main character of the story and we follow him as he grows up in Afghanistan with his servant's son Hassan as his "best friend". They spend all of their days together, but in a way Amir is quietly ashamed to be friends with a Hazara/Servant. Then one day something happens that changes their relationship, and because of Amir's disloyalty to Hassan, he is too ashamed and haunted by what has happened. Amir tries everything he can to get rid of them but his father is too attached to Hassan and his father to let them go. Eventually, Amir and his father need to flee to America because of the government unrest. The story spans about 25 years total of Amir's life.

This book is a great story of life lessons. There is a couple of great quotes and I am a sucker for quotes!

"...lifting him from the certainty of turmoil and dropping him in a turmoil of uncertainty."

"I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night."


I
loved this book for a couple of reasons. First, I thought I could predict how the storyline would flow and was thrown off every single time. Also, I know nothing of Afghanistan and the cultures there. This book inspires me to want to learn all I can about this country, the history, the culture, the people, the government, everything. Another thing I really loved about this book is you get to see how this character has developed over the span of his life. You see how he grows, matures, realizes what is important, and who really matters in the end. Such a great read.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Winter Reading Challenge: WRAP-UP

Robin of My Two Blessings hosted the Winter Reading Challenge. It officially ends on March 20. Originally, I had nine books on my list. However, I only read 7. Two of the books, I was unable to obtain, so here we are.

The books I read are:

1- The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

2- A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

3- We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

4- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

5- Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, and 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

6- America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins

7- White Oleander by Janet Fitch

I would have to say that my absolute favorite book was The Art of Racing in the Rain. I loved Enzo. I loved the story, I laughed and cried, and fell in love with this novel. Definitely my top choice for the year.

My least favorite was A Million Little Pieces. If you read my review, you will know why.

The two I could never find, and am really bummed I couldn't were; 31 Songs by Nick Hornby and Austenland by Shannon Hale. They are still on the TBR pile, so hopefully I can get to those soon...

Thanks Robin for hosting this challenge. You are the Hostess with the Mostest!

Review: America's Women: 400 years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines

Title: America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines
Author: Gail Collins
Pages: 608
Genre: History
Rating: 4/5

This book is not something that I normally read. I usually prefer fiction, but I love History, and this book is full of it. I read a review of this a while back and thought that it looked really interesting.

The book teaches about the history of women. From the very first recorded woman to be born in America (Virginia Dare), to present day. It tells of how women have evolved in labor, fashion, to their roll in the home. Their triumphs, and failures. There is a lot to learn from this book. Most of the information, I never knew and a lot that I have forgotten about (Pocahontas).

One thing I learned about in this book is a woman names Sarah Josepha Hale. She wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb". She was also the very first woman editor for the very first women's fashion magazine. When her husband died, she was 40 and pregnant with her seventh child. From the day he died to the day she died (another 54 years!) she wore black every day to mourn the loss of her husband.

This book is full of interesting tid bits all through the evolution of women. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is very interesting, very well written, and full of great history. Although there is a little more than 600 pages, the reading moves very quickly.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Review: A Million Little Pieces


I hated reading this book, read about 100 pages. Couldn't make myself read the rest. The writing is terrible, the language terrible, the story embellished and insincere. Wouldn't even donate and put into anyone else's hands...

Review: Julie & Julia


Title: Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment
Author: Julie Powell
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 320
Rating 3.5/5

Julie is on the brink of turning thirty. She hates her job, not sure if she is able to have children, and needs something to give her more fulfillment. While visiting her mother, she stumbles upon her mothers old copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (MtAoFC) by Julia Child.

She is attempting to make all 524 recipes including brains, kidneys, and all. She tells of her triumphs, failures, and frustrations. She journals everything on her blog, and becomes quite successful and popular (hence, the book).

Julie is spunky, sassy, and a little self-absorbed. She has endearing qualities that I liked in Bridget Jones. She can be a little crass at times, but overall an easy, witty read. I thought the very idea of her "project" very creative.

There is a movie with Meryl Streep playing Julia Child and Amy Adams playing Julie Powell. I wonder how it will be.....

Couldn't find a trailer for it quite yet. :(

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Midweek Morsels


This week, I tried a new food. Eggplant. I have always been intimidated by this purple, squash like vegetable. However, when eating low-cab, one must be creative. I tried this recipe the other night for dinner, and thought it was so delicious. So try, and enjoy!

Cheese-Stuffed Eggplant

2 eggplants
1 red onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. butter
3 C. crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C. grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 C Ricotta Cheese
1 egg
Season Salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out center with a spoon, chop and set aside. Reserve the shells. Saute onions in butter until golden. Add eggplant pulp. This will seem like a lot but the pulp with cook down. Saute for about five minutes. Transfer mixture into a bowl and cool. Add cheeses to mixture. Beat in egg. Stuff mixture into eggplant shell and top with season salt. Bake for 40 minutes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Midweek Morsels: Desserts


Root Beer Ice Cream

Well, as many of you all know, today is lent. Starting today, I am giving up Carbohydrates. So after this recipe, most of what you will get is carb-free. This recipe is SO good. I got this from my Mother. Every summer she is always making homemade ice cream. My favorite is this root beer flavor. You can easily purchase an ice cream maker fairly inexpensively at Target, Wal-Mart, or here.

2 eggs beaten
2 Cups Sugar
1 Quart Half & Half
1 Quart Whipping Cream
1 Quart Milk
2 Tbsp plus 1-1/2 tsp. Root beer extract
1 tsp. Vanilla (or imitation vanilla is fine.)

In Ice Cream freezer, combine all ingredients and freeze.

See how easy that is? Try it! I promise it is sure to please those buds on your tongue.....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Classics Challenge


Another challenge?! YUP. I know I said that I would not join another challenge anytime soon until I get my TBR list down considerably, but this one I have been waiting for. Plus, my beautiful cousin Trish is hosting this one. To sign up, go here!

For this challenge, I am just going to snack. For the snacking, I am to choose just four classics, and one bonus.

Here is my list:

1- Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
2- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
3- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
4- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
BONUS** Life of Pi by Yann Martel

This is usually out of my comfort zone, so the list is small, but I really want to venture into something different for me. I am really excited to start but know I have to wait for April 1.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Midweek Morsels: Casserole




This weeks theme for Midweek Morsels is...... CASSEROLES! Good thing for everyone, I grew up in Utah with a family of count them... nine. So casseroles are not a problem.... Here is my favorite one, Chicken and Rice Casserole. If we are not careful, Houston and I can eat the whole pan in one sitting. I told you, I love to eat! Try and enjoy!

Chicken and Rice Casserole

2 chicken breasts
2 Cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
2 Can of Milk
1 Stick of Butter
2 Cups uncooked Rice (not instant)
1/2 C Parmesan cheese

Heat soup, milk, butter and stir in Rice. Pour into a 9x13 pan with cooked chicken*. Put cheese on top. Cover with foil. Cook at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

*After chicken is boiled, you can either cut into chunks, shred with fork (my preference) or omit all together. Your preference.

ENJOY!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Midweek Morsels




I love sweets, love the spicy, love the fatty, and even sometimes love the healthy. All in all, I just really love to eat.

I have been trying to ponder about how I can spice up my reading blog. Reveiws are always nice but sometimes, it is nice to just get a taste of something different, you know? Anyway, I came across Kristina's Blog, I was inspired by this weekly event called Midweek Morsels. Here, you are supposed to share some recipes and etc, but if you know me, you know I do not have a flair for cooking, but I do have a flair for eating out! So, here we are midweek, and I would love to share with all of you, my midweek morsel.

Kristina inspired the genre of comfort food. It did snow in Denver yesterday (you would never know by the weather today though) so Houston and I ventured out to Federal Blvd to our favorite comfort food joint Pho Duiy.

Pho (pronounced FUH) is a vietnamese soup.
It contains rice noodles, thinly sliced rare steak, broth seasoned with cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cloves, and a beef flavor. You will garnish this dish with hoisin sauce, Sriracha, sprouts, cilantro, lime, jalapeno, and basil. Click on the link above (pho) and you can read more about this delicious dish.

I encourage all to go to their local asian marketplaces, and I am sure that you will find a Pho place to eat nearby. I am telling you this dish will change your life for the better.

Maybe next week I will have a great recipe for all to try, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Title: The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Pages: 321
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

Let me first say that I LOVED THIS BOOK! I cannot say enough good things about it. I myself am a dog lover. I have three dogs, and reading this book added a little extra love in my heart for them.

The book is narrated by a dog, Enzo. He tells the story of his life, through his eyes and wisdom. Have tissues handy. It is not a sad, depressing, story, but a tender and endearing one. You will fall in love with Enzo and before you know it, you have read all 321 pages of the book. I don't want to say too much about the plot, but I guarantee you will love it!

The book is full of great thought provoking quotes. One of my favorites is on page314:

"I know this much about racing in the rain. I know it is about balance. It is about anticipation and patience... [it is also] about the mind! It is about owning one's body... It is about believing that you are not you; you are everything. And everything is you."

That is all I have. Here are my babies!

Ginger. She is a Japanese Chin. She is sweet and loving.




Grace. Another Japanese Chin. She is spunky and naughty.



And finally Duke. A Corgi. He is obedient, gentle, and kind.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Random...

Robin at My Two Blessings listed her Weekly Geeks Post about judging a book by its cover. Her post is about War and Peace. I am a huge Seinfeld fan, and the most recent episode I saw was where Elaine is talking to an author, possibly to become his editor about the book War and Peace. Jerry told her as a joke that the original title of the book was War, What is it Good for? She didn't know that What is it good for? by the band WAR was a song! HAHA! So she is telling this author about that and looks like a complete fool! Anyway, random dumb humor!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Title: We Need to Talk about Kevin
Author: Lionel Shriver
Pages: 500
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

I absolutely loved this book. The book re-inspires the age old question: Nature vs. Nurture?
I was first drawn to this novel because of some reviews I read which I will link to at the bottom of this post, and secondly because I have this weird fascination for the psyche of people who murder.

The book was very creatively written.
Eva is writing the book in first person through letters to her husband trying to figure out the reasons for her sons' mass murder on his schoolmates. She admits to having never connecting to her son even from the womb. She never wanted to get pregnant, and from the moment she found out, she felt as though her life was over, hence the nature v. nurture.

Can I go off on a tangent here? I have in no way done any scientific research, but have a person in my life who was adopted; let's call him Timmy. When Timmy was a little boy, before he ever knew he was adopted, he would ask his adoptive mother why he felt like no body wanted him around. A child of five. How could a child of five ever even think that he was not wanted unless it stems from the womb? Just something to think about....

Now back on task. The first couple hundred pages were very long and slow moving for me to get through. She uses a lot of big words, and although I could understand them, it took some time for me to flow through the pages. They were all mostly recaps of Kevin's life as a child. How Eva would react and interact with him, and why she feels he turned out to be such a vengeful person at only 16. The last 150 pages or so for me, just flew by. I couldn't put the book down. I really felt for the characters involved and even developed an understanding for Kevin.

Again, I really loved this novel, and would recommend to anyone. I will keep on the shelves to read again. I do have an extra copy if anyone is interested. Just let me know!

Cares Online Bookclub
The Bluestocking Society
The Hidden Side of a Leaf

If there are any others let me know. I would love to link.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

HELP!

What is wrong with me lately? I am reading a great book, We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I am really liking the book, but I have been reading this same one for almost a month. I just can't seem to read any more than a page or two at a time. Then I start to feel guilty about the house being a mess, the laundry not being done, I just can't seem to sit down and relax to a good book. I don't know what this is about. I have never had this happen before. I am falling way behind in my reading challenges, and can't seem to shake it. Now what?!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas


Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Author: John Boyne

Pages: 216

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5


Bruno is a nine year old boy that moves with his family from Berlin to Auswitz (Out-With according to Bruno.) He is so upset to leave his five story home and his three best friends. His new home is only three stories, and there is no one to play with. One day while Bruno is exploring, he comes across a boy his same age on the other side of the fence. He is so excited to have a new friend. They meet in the same place every day. Bruno, because he loves exploring and wants to help his friend out, wants to see what the other side of the fence is like. He is sure that it is so much better than where he is living. Finally he has the oppurtunity to go to the other side.


I am not really sure where to start with the review of this book. WWII is something that I am so fascinated with and I love reading and learning about it. To begin, the author has a fantastic idea for the novel. There are so many underlying messages. I loved the way the author was able to bring an innocence to what was taking place at this concentration camp. It provides another view to what happened. It was a terrible tragedy for most of Europe.


The reading was very simple and very quick. The book is located in the YA section, and I could have read in one sitting.


I felt as though there was no closure. I was left wanting more. I think that the author could have elaborated a lot more to the story. Like I said earlier, I love the idea of this story, but was expecting a lot more than what was given. This could have been a great rough draft, and I would have loved to have read something with more depth. All in all, I did like the story.
I still have not seen the movie, but am going to this week. I am looking forward to see how they make that adaptation.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tag: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Beth at Beth Fish Reads has a great meme called "I have been lazy, hence I make excuses". We are supposed to list the excuses we make when there is just no reason to not read. Here are mine:
1- Emmory, my daughter, is now scooting around so I have to keep one eye on her at all times.
2- Cleaning the house and getting life back in order after holiday parties and visitors has taken me FOREVER.
3- Plain and simple lack of motivation!
4- Need to spend "quality time" with SO.
5- Pure laziness.

Are you there too? Consider yourself tagged!