Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title/Author: Hunger (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #1) by Jackie Morse Kessler
Publisher/Date published: Harcourt Graphia, October 18th 2010
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: it's about an anorexic Horseman: Famine. Enough said.

Goodreads summary: "Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?"

After trying to commit suicide after a particular nasty fight with her boyfriend, Death gives Lisa a choice: become Famine or die (sounds rather harsh, but it's not). Lisa chooses life and thus to become a Horseman, complete with a black praline-loving steed and Famine's symbol of office: golden scales.

Lisa struggles with her anorexia, although she doesn't recognize it as such, she thinks she's just fat and has her very own Thin Voice to remind her of this. And of the calories everything edible holds and how much time on the exercise bike that accumulates to, to burn it off again. I thought this was so believable! Having no first-hand experience at having an eating disorder, I can imagine something inside whispering these deprecating thoughts.

One thing Lisa also struggles with, is hiding all of this from her boyfriend, best friend and father, the persons she cares about the most. At the start of the book she's already alienated her best friend because she told her to get help for her anorexia. Instead she gets a 'friend' who encourages her in her dysfunctional behaviour towards food: a girl with an eating disorder herself.

Death says things like 'thou art Famine, yo' and has a more than passing resemblance to Kurt Cobain, which is fine, but a bit weird. I did love the black horse, who Lisa names Midnight. The horse is sarcastic and doesn't get all the weird human behaviour. And it loves pralines, so it's my kind of horse.

I felt that what Lisa wanted most was to be in control of herself, not just being thin, but also in other aspects. She hates being bossed around, but doesn't really know what to do about it.
I'm glad that she learns to stand up for herself and that she's not worthless or undeserving of people's attention.

My rating: 4 stars, I'm looking forward to reading the sequel Rage.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Motor City Witch by Cindy Spencer Pape

Title/Author: Motor City Witch by Cindy Spencer Pape
Publisher/Date published: Carina Press, October 4th 2010
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: I thought I'd try a paranormal romance.

Goodreads summary: "She’d left magic behind:
Once upon a time, Elise Sutton had been a powerful witch and paranormal enforcer.
Once she’d been madly in love with Fae lord Aidan Greene. But when Aidan had considered his duties more important than their relationship, the love affair ended badly. Shortly after, while on the hunt for a rogue demon, Elise was brutalized and almost killed. Months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. To protect her child – and her heart – Elise decided to live a nonmagical life. Until she meets Aidan again, and he assumes Dina is his daughter. When Dina is kidnapped by a racial purity movement, Elise turns to Aidan for help. The icy façade she had built around herself shatters at Aidan’s touch. Together they have to hunt through the human and faery worlds to find Dina and to discover whether or not they have any kind of chance at a happily ever after."

Let me first say that faeries aren't really my thing, I discovered this when I read Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. That said, the Fae didn't annoy me in this one (yay for the author!). I thought they were at time snobbish and egomaniacs, but well, I get that when I read about royalty as well, so that wasn't really a big deal.

I would however have liked if Pape had gone a bit deeper into the paranormal side of the story instead of the romance part. There are so many different paranormal beings to choose from: Fae, witches, werewolves, orcs, all come wirring past, but I felt like the story could have revolved around typical human beings and been just fine as a romance.

I liked Elise and Aidan as the main characters, though I would have liked to see Elise man up a bit more and not jump to weird conclusions sometimes. I also liked the girl, Dina, she was a bit mature for her age, but I like smart children and she was definitely intelligent. Although I thought her huge magical abilities were a bit too much for an untrained 4-year old.
Oh, and if you can't guess who the father is after reading the summary, you should probably read it again (it was pretty obvious).

I didn't really get why Elise's brother was so angry with Aidan, sure they had broken up and he should be all brotherly protective, but after about 5 years that should sort of pass, right? I also assume we'll get to see why he has such a strong dislike for werewolves in a book that centers around him in the series.

My rating: 3 stars (I didn't cry at the romance, so I can't give it more than this)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Zan-Gah by Allan Richard Shickman

Title/Author: Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure (Zan-Gah #1) by Allan Richard Shickman
Publisher/Date published: Earthshaker Books, 2007
How I got this book: I received a review copy from the publisher
Why I read this book: I thought it sounded interesting

Summary: Set in prehistoric time, Zan is a boy in his early teens, who by a stroke of luck manages to kill a lioness that killed a child, in a hunt with the rest of the clansmen. He is then named Zan-Gah, which means Zan of the Rock, in honour of this.
Zan-Gah is troubled, his twin brother Dael has been missing for a year and though everyone has given up him, Zan believes he must still be alive and sets out to search for him. But times are hard and the different clans aren't united. Zan must battle more than the wilderness in his search for his brother.

I enjoyed this book, had it been out back then, I can see my eight or nine-year0old self picking it up and really liking it (I know the book's meant for ages 11 and up, but by then I'd already moved on to adult fiction, my library didn't do so well in YA fiction area).

I liked how Zan seemed to have gotten an appropriate and very adequate upbringing: he knows how to survive on his own. Which is something every child in that time should be taught to do. On his quest for his brother he shows that he not only knows how to use the weapons he brought with him, but also has the intelligence and creativeness to invent one of his own: he fashions the first sling, which becomes very important to his people later on in the story. Zan not only cares for himself, he also tries to do good by other people, he gives food to a starving child and is determined not to betray a small boy he encounters on his journey, even though he has every reason to.

Zan has a sense of justice that I appreciate and he has the wits to communicate this and the plans he has to other people. He is respected by his clansmen and probably rightfully so. He also recognizes that there are things, like his brother's mental scars, that even he cannot fight.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read, and I'm curious to see what adventures Zan goes on in the next book of the series.

My rating: 3 stars

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Title/Author: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Publisher/Date published: The House of Books, originally published by Picador in 2005
How I got this book: borrowed it from my mom (I actually gave it to her for Mother's Day and then told her I wanted to read it next)
Why I read this book: I'd heard such great things about it from people in the College Students group on GoodReads.

Goodreads summary: "It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul."

When Death tells a story, you'd better listen!

And I did. I listened to this story and I lived through a part of Liesel's life and it still lingers with me. Rudy especially, he and Hans Hubermann are my favourite characters of this book. I love Liesel as well, but these two are dearest to me.

I almost never read books about World War II, because it seems to close to home, I live in the Netherlands and my grandma never talked about this period, even though she always told me about her childhood and when my mom and uncles were little, so I'm guessing it was a difficult time for her as well. It always makes me so sad to think of all the families that were torn apart and all the senseless killing that went on. I went to a concentration camp near Prague once with my high school and it was horrible knowing that so many people died there.

Anyway, back to the book: Liesel is adopted by Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who already have two grown children of their own who don't live with them anymore. Hans is the most kindhearted man you'll ever meet and he sleeps in a chair next to Liesel's bed almost every night because of her nightmares. He's also the one that teaches her how to read and I think she couldn't have had a better father. Rosa calls everyone Saukerl or Saumensch (which means as much as swine-man or woman), but deep inside she has a huge heart and loves Liesel and Hans very much.
Liesel soon finds a friend in Rudy, a boy with lemoncoloured hair and an amazing spirit.

The times are difficult for the family, because Hans helped Jewish people and isn't a member of the Nazi Party he gets less and less work and because nobody has money to spare, the income from Rosa's laundry dwindles as well. To top it off, they have to feed an extra mouth: a Jewish man named Max who is hiding in their basement. I thought is was wonderful to see that Hans and Rosa were so generous, they took Liesel in, would have taken in her brother as well if he hadn't died on the way there and they helped Max survive.

I loved that it was told by Death and the suspense Zusak created by having him tell us what was going to happen, because every time I wished it wouldn't. I was rooting so hard for something I can't mention here, because there would be major spoilers, NOT to happen and I cried when it did.
I loved Death's voice, he says things like:
'A small fact, you're going to die. Does this worry you?'
And I love it!

Rudy is the boy I would have loved being friends with when I was younger and he reminds me somewhat of my best friend when I was little. I was rooting for him to be kissed by Liesel at least once. He's such an undervalued hero in his own way, giving bread to the Jewish people on their march to Dachau.

I thought the ending was incredibly sad and I cried for all the characters, because they had become so dear to me. This book is just beautiful and I think everyone should read it. I've heard people classify it as YA, but in my opinion there's no age category, you can enjoy a good story no matter how old you are.

My rating: 5 stars

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Title/Author: Austenland by Shannon Hale
Publisher/Year published: Bloomsbury, 2007
How I got this book: own it
Why I read this book: I love Pride and Prejudice. Enough said really.

Goodreads summary: "Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?"

Like many women, Jane dreams of Mr. Darcy (don't we all?) and hasn't been able to find one in real life. I was a bit surprised at how she hides the DVD's as if it's something to be ashamed of. I love watching the movie adaptation with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFadyen and am not afraid of showing it off.

I mean, isn't he just dreamy in all his anguish of having just been refused by the woman he loves (after a clumsy proposal, I'll give you that):

Anyway, enough of my obsession, let's get back to Jane's. She decides to go to Pembrood Park, a trip that her recently deceased aunt left her in her will. There are other guests as well as actors there and at first Jane doesn't feel really into it all, because she feels fake somehow. Especially after meeting and having a fling with one of the gardeners, Martin. Then she decides, what the heck, I'm only here once, let's just roll with it. And she starts to enjoy herself. There's one actor, Mr. Nobley, who seems inspired by Mr. Darcy in his manners. But in stead of immediately falling for him, Jane thinks he's frustrating.
But not everyone is what they seem to be and Jane just might have a chance to find real love after all.

I loved how Jane gets swept up in it all, with the dresses and the fact that ladies are not supposed to be alone with a gentleman. She notices that with a minimum of touching that is allowed, while dancing for example, there can be more tension than she imagined.

At the beginning of each chapter, we see the story of one of Jane's boyfriends or sometimes just one time encounters and they were really funny.
The romance unfolding was really sweet and I loved the ending! There was something that even I had not expected and I'm horribly correct at guessing what's off or the clue to a mystery. I saw on the author's website that she has a book coming out that's called Midnight in Austenland, which I assume will be a sequel and I'm excited to find out what happens in that one. I also saw a picture of her newborn babies there, who are just too cute!

My rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Ten Fictional Crushes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, check it out and join in on the fun, we'd love to see your list!

This Week's Top Ten:
Your Top Ten Fictional Crushes

So this week it's time to confess and tell you all who I have a secret crush on, just don't tell my boyfriend!

1. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice: ok, so this one is a given (and probably one even my boyfriend knows about ;) ). I rant about him and this book all the time, and I will say again that I love him and would have said HELL YES! if he proposed to me instead of Elizabeth, using beautiful words and looking like Matthew McFadyen did in the movie...
Ok, moving on.

2. Peter Pan: I think this was my first fictional crush ever, I've loved him ever since I was about 7 years old and he will always have a special place in my heart, even if I've since moved on to a bit more sophisticated men. He has such an amazing spirit and I have always wanted to be able to fly.

3. Sirius Black from Harry Potter: I have a crush on the version I have in my head of him as a younger man, a loyal friend and big shaggy dog (I can't help but love his Animagus form). He's probably the reason I read Harry Potter fanfiction years and years ago, because many focused on the Marauders when they were in Hogwarts.

4. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings: how I love him and his quest to get back what is rightfully his! Even before the movie came out I had a crush on him and I always picture him as tall, dark and handsome and very kind and mysterious.

5. Kartik from the Gemma Doyle series: Kartik sounds beautiful and I love his character. Everything about him is so tragic I couldn't help but fall in love with him.

6. Kade from the Glass series: he's a stormdancer! That is just the coolest thing I've ever heard and it sounds totally sexy! I've already ranted about this here.

7. George from the Song of the Lioness quartet: he is the King of Thieves and he's incredibly sweet and trustworthy and handsome. I tend to fall for the sweet bad boy for some reason.

8. Owen from the Enchanted Inc. series: he's an extremely powerful wizard who doesn't know how to handle himself around the woman he likes and he's totally handsome, doesn't realise this and is shy, which is just adorable.

9. Mr. Knightley from Emma: my second favourite Austen man, I would have said yes if he proposed as well.

10. Robin Hood: I even have a crush on the fox version of him Disney created. Robin is another one of my childhood crushes and I wanted to live in a treehouse with him and help him steal from the nasty rich people.

I've noticed all my men except for Peter are tall, dark and handsome... I think I have a type :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Title/Author: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Publisher/Date published: Avon, March 30th 2010
How I got this book: own it
Why I read this book: I love a good romance.

Goodreads summary: "A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried - and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.
But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss - to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston - charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.
If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all - the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love..."

As romance novels go, this is one of the best I've read in the genre! So I know there's always a happy ending, but it was one hell of a ride to get there! This is a book that for me let me forget about time, upon finishing it I discovered it was already 2:15 AM and I had to get up at 7 AM...

Callie has reached the age that in that time you'd be considered bordering on spinster and has never been kissed. The few suitors she had, she rejected because she did not love them and the fact that they were only after her dowry. She leads a life as a wallflower, watching from the sidelines at the balls, meanwhile dreaming of the love she reads about in novels.

Gabriel St. John is surprised to one night find her in his bedroom with a proposition, in exchange for a kiss, Callie will tutor his recently discovered half-sister so she will be ready for London society. Gabriel doesn't believe in love after seeing his father die from a broken heart after his mother left them when he was about 10 years old.

Of course there can never be such a thing as just one kiss. Especially when Callie throws herself in all kinds of situations unsuitable for a lady because she wants to break out of her proper life and have some adventures of her own.

I love how in this book the saying 'you don't love a woman because she's beautiful, she's beautiful because you love her' goes a long way. The tension between Callie and Gabriel was amazing and sometimes I wanted to scream at them to figure it out, there were some major misunderstandings, especially towards the end. They're both really likeable characters and the story seemed to flow naturally.
And I cried, and the ones I cry at are always the best in my opinion.

So all in all, I'm giving this one of the highest ratings, because in this genre it was one of the best I've read. If you're looking for a good romance novel, look no further!

My rating: 5 stars

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter

Title/Author: Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
Publisher/Date published: De Bezige Bij (the Busy Bee :) ), first published in 2001 by William Morrow/Harper Collins
How I got this book: I bought it
Why I read this book: it had been staring at me from my shelve for over a year and it fit rather nicely into the fall/winter challenge from the College Students group on Goodreads

Goodreads summary: "The sleepy town of Heartsdale, Georgia, is jolted into panic when Sara Linton, the town's pediatrician and coroner, finds Sibyl Adams, a young college professor, dead in the local diner. As well as being viciously raped, Sibyl has been cut: two deep knife wounds form a lethal cross over her stomach. But it's only once Sara starts to perform the postmortem that the full extent of the killer's brutality starts to become clear.
Police chief Jeffrey Tolliver - Sara's ex-husband - is in charge of the investigation, and when a second victim is found, crucified, only a few days later, he has to face the fact that Sibyl's murder wasn't a single personal attack: They're dealing with a sadistic rapist turned killer who is terrorizing rural Grant County.
Jeffrey isn't alone in his search. Lena Adams - the county's sole female detective - wants to see justice done since her sister was the first victim. Sara, too, cannot escape the terror. A secret from her past could hold the key to finding the killer - unless he finds her first."

I almost never read thrillers, I used to read a lot when I was younger and for some reason I don't remember went off them. Maybe it's the fact that as a medical student I get to see enough icky stuff and don't need it in my books. Besides, murderers scare me.

This was a fast read, Slaughter writes very engaging and apart from the a 'seriously?' reaction at Sara being a pediatrician as well as the coroner (that doesn't happen in Holland, I don't know about the US, but here pediatricians work in a hospital and they most certainly don't have a job as a coroner on the side) it was a smooth read.

I was horrified at the sick mind of this murderer, it was just sick what he did to his victims! Especially the first one, that was just plain awful. But I appreciate Slaughter's storytelling in this, there's real creativity involved. The way she describes the community and the dysfunctional relationship between Sara and Jeffrey is wonderful. I was rooting for them to work it out, but maybe that happens in one of the sequels.

I did guess who the killer was way before it was revealed, but I don't know why I thought that, I'm for some reason annoyingly accurate at guessing this. It wasn't overly obvious or something.

Anyway, though I don't think I'll be starting to read a lot of thrillers again, I really enjoyed it. If you have a weak stomach, I wouldn't recommend reading this one.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Twice the Temptation by Rochelle Alers

Title/Author: Twice the Temptation by Rochelle Alers
Publisher/Date published: Harlequin, Kimani Romance, October 1st 2010
How I got this book: got it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: I'd requested it and felt like reading a romance novel (I seem to be on a romance spree lately)

Goodreads summary: "Denise Eaton is proud of the day-care business she built from scratch. But now the scion of this Philadelphia family dynasty could lose everything. The man who holds the key to her future? None other than Rhett Ferrell, the man she passionately loved in college… and who broke her heart.
Rhett has waited six years to take his sweet revenge. Now the legendary corporate raider is about to have Denise right where he wants her — at his mercy and in his bed. He's never forgiven her for walking out and taking up with his most hated enemy. But he's also never forgotten the desire that still burns so hotly, so irresistibly between them. That's when Rhett plots one final conquest: to take over Denise's heart. And he's a man who plays to win…"

I really like a good romance and the summary promised a lot of tension, heartbreak and just plain conflict, which always makes me cry and I love those kinds of books. But(yes there's a huge but), I was hugely disappointed. Let me explain:

They were a great couple for 4 years, then Denise thought Rhett was cheating on her and he thinks that after breaking if off she proceeded to jump into bed with his best friend. Both weren't rational enough to try and talk it over back then, but that part is understandable.
They both go on to have careers and meet again when Rhett is trying to get revenge on Denise for having sex with said former best friend and arranges for them to meet to discuss the rent for Denise's daycare centre, he owns the building. He devices a plan in which she can either choose to pay an enormous amount of rent or become his hostess/date for the summer. I found the reasoning for this a bit hard to believe, but still, I thought, let's see what happens from this.

I expected lots of devious plotting and Denise finding out and being heartbroken all over again and him discovering he still loved her after all in the end, after which revalation they kiss and make up and proceed to have lots of babies. Or something like that.

But none of this happened, or at least not in this context. They never really talked the misunderstandings from their previous relationship over, they just discovered what happened because someone told them. There's this huge mystery about Rhett's father, which didn't really seem that important to me and was a bit of a blah moment when he finally found out.

What I also couldn't figure out is the immediate switch from Rhett's need to get revenge to him loving her like he did before in just one date. And then deciding to get married after the second or third. There really was no conflict in this! And I love conflict! I expect and want it. This is somewhere at the beginning of the book and I couldn't figure out where the story was going exactly. What the book seemed to tell me is that they loved eachother, didn't talk about their problems and had sex whenever possible. And I don't mind sex in romance books, but there has to be a relevant plot somewhere too!

I thought the author definitely had a nice plot for an enjoyable romance novel, but then she didn't stick to it. I was really disappointed and found myself going 'huh??' more than once while reading it. Also, I didn't understand how he went from being named Garrett to Rhett (I mean, where does that H come from all of a sudden, but maybe that's just me being nitpickerish).

My rating: 1 star, I really want to give it more, but I can't in all honesty.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Top Ten Books I'll Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, check it out and join in on the fun!

This week's Top Ten:
Your Top Ten Book's You'll NEVER Read

So this is hard, even if I don't feel like reading a book now, I might in the future. And I don't keep lists of these, so it's difficult to think of them (unlike my to-read list, which is alfabetized in an excell sheet, color-coded with the place to find them, I'm a geek, I know). But it's highly doubtfull I will read any of these:

1. 'Tis by Frank McCourt: I think Angela's Ashes was the only book I ever truly hated. I've heard other people say they loved it and I'm sure it can be enjoyable, but it just wasn't for me, which is why I won't be reading it's sequel.

2. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey: I'd heard really good things about this one, but struggled through 100 pages, before deciding to put it down. I don't think I'll ever pick it up again. I could not get into the storyline and didn't connect with Phèdre.

3. Rumors by Anna Godbersen: I could not get into The Luxe, I disliked the girls. I was surprised by this, because I love historical romance and thought this would be my kind of book.

4. The sequel to The Magicians by Lev Grossman: I have reviewed The Magicians, so you can see my reasons for not liking this book there. I just discovered there will be a sequel to this book, which will most likely provide the same issues I had with the first one, so it's a no-go for me.

5. Ink Exchange by Mellisa Marr: again, couldn't get into the first book in the series and discovered I'm not into fantasy that involves fairies. Maybe I'll have to try with another author.

6. The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time #2) by Robert Jordan: I keep finding myself repeating it: I wasn't into the first book in the series. And the size isn't making me very eager to try it again. But one of my best friend's boyfriend loves it and is encouraging me to give it another shot, so maybe I will cave in the end after all.

7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: it's on my to-read list, but I struggled a bit with Anna Karenina and that hasn't motivated me to read this book, which will probably also be filled with many, many things about agriculture, politics and other things I find detracting from the storyline.

8. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: for this one it's the simple fact that travel memoirs aren't really my thing. I also rarely read non-fiction books.

9. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan: it's supposed to be a good read, but I HATE zombies! They freak me out. There's no rational explanation, but I'll never read this book.

10. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler: I don't think I'll ever read this, the ideas in this book have caused such hatred and destruction.

So that's it, do you have books you probably won't ever read?

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan

Title/Author: The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan
Publisher/Date published: A.W. Bruna Uitgevers, first published in 2008 by Simon & Schuster Inc.
How I got this book: I bought it after reading the first one in the series The Expected One. The picture is of my Dutch version which translates as 'The Jezus Mystery'.
Why I read this book: I really liked the first book in the series, which deals with the story of Mary Magdalene.

Goodreads summary: "Maureen Paschal thought she might rest and work on her book after discovering the gospel written by Mary Magdalene that revealed Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. The truth of their story rocked the world and made Maureen a target of those who did not like her discovery and a heroine to those who did.
Then Maureen receives a strange package containing what looks like an ancient letter written in Latin and signed with a symbol. She discovers that its author is an extraordinary woman whom history has overlooked -- or covered up -- Countess Matilda of Tuscany, and in the letter Matilda demands the return of her "most precious books and documents." Maureen soon finds herself in a race across Italy and France, where hidden dangers await her and her lover, Bérenger, as they begin to realize that they are on the trail of another explosive discovery: the Book of Love, the Gospel written in Jesus' own hand.
As Maureen learns more about Matilda, an eleventh century warrior countess who was secretly married to a pope, she begins to see the eerie connections between herself and Matilda, connections she must trace to their source if she is to stop the wrong people from finding the Book of Love and hiding it forever."

Maureen is again on a mission to uncover the true story of a woman who was also of the bloodline of Mary Magdalene and Jezus Christ. Wikipedia can't tell me why Matilda of Tuscany's body was moved to the rest in the Vatican, but in this story she is not only the lover of Pope Gregory VII, but also his wife and the mother of his child. Maureen finds out Matilda was one of the expected ones as well, with the same red hair she herself has. She was educated in the ways of the Book of Love, the gospel written by Jezus Christ himself when she was a child.
Through a series of visions and excerpts of the Book of Love, we learn the story of Matilda and even of Sheba and Solomon.

I appreciate the storytelling that McGowan is really good at, but I didn't like this book as much as I liked the first one, which relates the story of Mary Magdalene and her life with Jezus Christ. I'm not a religious person and the views of the church are a bit too confining to me, which is maybe why I enjoyed this other version of the story told by McGowan so much. It describes Jezus Christ as an incredible leader and good man, who was married and had children with Mary Magdalene. I'm intrigued by this idea and the story was beautiful.

I'm a bit disappointed to say that I didn't get into the story of Matilda and her life as much as I did with Mary Magdalene, however much I wanted to. Though the woman does sound interesting and the fact alone that her body was moved to the Vatican is enough to spark my interest. Stories like this, about the Church covering up part of history, always make me wonder exactly what is hidden in the archives of the Vatican.

This wasn't light reading in any way you can imagine, it was a bit hard to get into at first and it doesn't really get much easier after that. But I'm glad I finished it, though I'm not sure about reading the final part in the trilogy. This could have been just a fictional biography, the parts with Maureen finding out about a lot of things didn't really add to the story in my opinion.

My rating: 3 stars

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt

Title/Author: The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt
Publisher/Date published: Carina Press, September 27th 2010
How I got this book: I got it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: I have wondered what happens to the other people in fairy tales. It's actually a novella.

Goodreads summary: "Have you ever wondered what happens to the other people in the fairy tale?
Things look grim for Talia and her mother. By royal proclamation, the constables and those annoying “good” fairies have taken away their livelihood by confiscating their spinning wheel. Something to do with a curse on the princess, they said.
Not every young lady has a fairy godmother rushing to her rescue.
Without the promise of an income from spinning, Talia’s prospects for marriage disappear, and she and her mother face destitution. Past caring about breaking an arbitrary and cruel law, rebellious Talia determines to build a new spinning wheel, the only one in the nation, which plays right into the evil fairy’s diabolical plan. Talia discovers that finding a happy ending requires sacrifice. But is it a sacrifice she’s willing to make?"

I was a bit shocked when I saw the e-book only had 97 pages, I never read anything that short. But I decided what the heck, let's just find out, the summary sounded promising.

And I liked it. I really did. We're given a look at the life of the people in the fairy tale who are affected by the main events in the fairy tale. Talia looses her livelihood and her chance at marriage when their spinning wheel is taken away. This leads her to do a number of things I would consider bad choices. But for her it seems to be the only way.
The Sevenfold spell refers to the princess in Sleeping Beauty and how her 7 fairy godmothers never finished the spell to give her everything a princess needs. She lacks something essential, which I will not give away because that would ruin it.

I loved how Talia was loyal to people. She saved the princess without caring what it would do to her or that she could benefit from it herself. I'm sad the story wasn't longer, because I would have loved so see this more expanded and with more depth to it than can be accomplished in a novella in my opinion.

I laughed so hard at the part where Talia's mother whacks one of the fairies with a broom, that was amazing! Fairies are mostly thought of as annoying and troublesome where Talia lives.

Also, I absolutely LOVE the cover. After reading Halo I was a bit wary of judging a book by its cover, but this one actually lives up to it.

This is a quick, enjoyable reads for those of you who have also wondered what the normal folks get around to in the fairy tales we all love.

My rating: 4 stars

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Spurned Viscountess by Shelley Munro

Title/Author: The Spurned Viscountess by Shelley Munro
Publisher/Date published:Carina Press, September 20th 2010
How I got this book: I got it from the publisher through NetGalley
Why I read this book: what can I say, I love a good romance story and had a lazy afternoon to get through.

Goodreads summary: "Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind's only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn't expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.
Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry - not when he's plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.
Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close - and tempted into passionate kisses - Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife..."

I enjoyed reading this book, old fasioned romance is one of my guilty pleasures. The two main characters were likeable. Rosalind isn't a weeping lady waiting to be rescued, she tries to do some rescueing of her own! She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go out and take it.
Lucien lost his memories after being beaten up in Italy, where he met his first wife, Francesca. She was shot and died in his arm, traumatizing him immensely. She was also pregnant at the time. The only reason Lucien is in England is because he heard an English name the night Francesca died and wants to find the man responsible for her death. We see him warm up to Rosalind as he finds out it's okay to open his heart to someone else again, that it doesn't mean he didn't love Francesca.

One thing I didn't understand was: why did Lucien have to marry again? His wife only died 10 months ago and I understand the need to produce an heir being the heir to the family estate himself, but why so fast? Why not find someone himself after 1 year, 2 years or more? He's still young, there's no hurry, and besides, men can have children even if they're seventy years old.

I liked that Rosalind and Lucien slowly got to know each other and their relationship flowed from that. One thing I thought was odd was how Rosalind would sense people's thoughts when touching them, but was rather naive at the end when she felt bad vibes coming from someone and did not think to act on it. The rest of the time she was much better at estimating a situation.

One thing I missed while reading this book was romantic tension to make me cry. I never once cried and I always cry, I'm such a sap I avoid reading books like this in public places because people look at me funny. Struggling lovers make me cry more than death, I can't help it. So, while this was an enjoyable read, it lacked a bit in the romance part for me.

My rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Title/Author: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
Publisher/Date published: August 31st 2010 by Feiwel & Friends
How I got this book: own it
Why I read this book: I'm a bit embarassed to say it was mostly cover love (isn't it amazing??), the story sounded vaguely interesting but I don't know if I would have read it if it hadn't been for this amazing cover.

Goodreads summary: "Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings. But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth."

I have issues with this book. I did like the general idea, but 496 pages of reading how much a teenage angel loves her boyfriend is a bit much. I had expected to love it based on the cover (a bit naive, I know).

Interacting with humans on even a friendly basis is actually a big no-no we learn at the beginning of the book. I'm a bit clueless as to why they would send Bethany to a high school if she wasn't meant to befriend other teenagers. But falling in love with a human is a huge taboo and sure enough this happens and I expected devine retribution or something like that. And I waited for it. And waited. And waited. And then the book ended. Which was kind of disappointing, since we're not really given a clear reason as to why this doesn't happen.

Whenever I think of angels, I always picture serene, wise, loving creatures. I did like the whole order and different abilities Adornetto presents, but I couldn't really picture Bethany as an actual angel because she acted like a regular teenager.

I was actually glad the bad guy (who had a big sign with I'M THE BAD GUY over his head, only Bethany couldn't tell it was him somehow) came along to spice things up, because after pages and pages of Bethany doting on Xavier and telling us how he was so beautiful and him somehow thinking he had to protect her from everything (seriously, sometimes he felt more like and overly concerned mother than a boyfriend) the story needed it. I didn't really get why Bethany had to be protected so much, surely God wouldn't send his angels down to earth if he didn't think they could handle it right? Besides, Xavier is just a boy, she's an angel! She has enormous wings and heals superfast and stuff! And besides, she could bore them to death talking about her boyfriend if all else failed (ok, now I'm being mean).
The ending felt a bit like a deus ex machina experience to me and my mind just went: "seriously??"

Anyway, I sound really negative and the book wasn't that bad, it just disappointed me on different fronts. I also hadn't realised this was the first book in a series when I started it. I did like the concept of angels coming down to earth in disguise to help people and how a rebel-angel would complicate things, but I just couldn't really connect with Beth, she was a bit too weak for a should-be kick-ass immortal being.

My rating: 2.5 stars

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Game of Tag!

This is an international game of tag and I've been tagged by Kelly at Books: A Love Story I have to answer questions about myself so you can get to know me better and then I'll tag four other bloggers!

Onto the questions :)

4 Things That Are In My Handbag
- My lipbalm
- My wallet
- The 'blokbook' filled with assignments for the next four weeks
- My flowery agenda

4 Things In/On My Desk
I don't actually have a desk.. I used to, but I never sat at it, so I figured it took up too much room. I do have a table, recently purchased, on which sit:
- My laptop
- My tea mug
- My external hard disk
- and nothing else (it's actually pretty tidy right now)

4 Favorite Things In My Bedroom
- The picture of me and my boyfriend at a fancy dress ball taken 4,5 years ago
- My bookshelves
- All the sparkly jewelry which lays in a very 'neat' pile beside my alarm clock
- The bed

4 Things I've Always Wanted To Do (but haven't yet)
- Visit the US, one of my boyfriend's friends moved to Washington DC and I'm hoping to go and visit him there sometime (if I can find the money to pay for the trip..)
- Learn to speak Chinese
- Own a real house and have a huge library room
- Pet a pinguin (they look so sweet!)

4 Things I Enjoy Very Much At The Moment
- Reading (duh)
- Eating chocolate mousse cake (so amazing!)
- Hugging my boyfriend
- Shopping (you can never have too much clothes.. or books for that matter)

4 Songs I Can't Get Out Of My Head
- I'd Rather Be With You by Joshua Radin
- Push Me To The Ground by Shane Shu
- Teenage Dream by Katy Perry
- All In by Lifehouse

4 Things You Don't Know About Me
- I used to hate skirts and pink up until college (I seriously would not wear them and would not even consider something even remotely resembling pink), I'm a lot more girly now
- Romance novels are my guilty pleasure
- I always steal clothes from my boyfriend, he's given up trying to get one of his soccer shirts back, after washing it, it now ends up in my closet :) They're just so comfy!
- I'm deadly afraid of insects, yesterday there was a huge black flying one on the ceiling of our living room and I got up as quietly as I could, took my E-reader and waited in the bedroom for my boyfriend to come home and remove it (about 2,5 hours later). My hero :) The thing had a black tail that looked suspiciously like something that would sting, I'm not getting anywhere near something like that. This time even he admitted it was pretty big and scary looking, I don't even know what kind of insect that was. I'm hoping it'll never come back.

4 Bloggers I'm Tagging
Danya at A Tapestry of Words
Emily at Reading While Female
Jennifer at An Abundance of Books
Jess at Tangled Up in Blue

That was fun! Thanks for tagging me Kelly :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Title/Author: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Publisher/Date published: Avon Books, first published in 1938
How I got this book: I bought it.
Why I read this book: I'd heard great things about it and it sounded like something that would be right up my alley.

Goodreads summary: ""Last Night I Dreamt I Went To Manderley Again."
So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten... Her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant - the sinister Mrs. Danvers - still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca... For the secrets of Manderley."

First of all let me say I absolutely LOVED this book, if I sound like I'm gushing, it's because I'm so happy at having found and read this book!
Also, I'll refer to the main character as MC, because her name is never revealed and I don't know what else to call her.

Our MC is a young woman, who is a companion to and older woman, the only way she has of supporting herself after her father died and having no other relatives. She's travelled with this woman to Monte Carlo, where she meets Maxim de Winter, a man whose wife died a year ago. He's the owner of a huge estate called Manderley and has people wondering who he will marry to replace the beautiful Rebecca, his first wife. He develops an interest for MC and takes her out in his car every morning while the woman she's there with is in bed with the flu. After she gets better, she wants to go back to New York and upon hearing this, Maxim proposes to our MC.

After their honeymoon, they arrive at Manderley, which is a beautiful place, but MC doesn't really feel at home there. The servants all knew and loved Rebecca and she feels as if everyone is comparing them, with MC always coming up short. Even one of the dogs seems to dismiss her for not being her old mistress.
MC can't really find her way, she's shy about meeting the people who live near and Maxim seems different from their time in Monte Carlo and after that their honeymoon in Italy. And there's the creepy servant Mrs. Danvers to deal with, who knew Rebecca since she was a child and loved her very much. She even keeps the rooms Rebecca used in exactly the same state as they were the night the died. Our MC is afraid of this woman and doesn't want to upset her.

The only one she can confide in is Frank Crawley, a man who works for Maxim. Struggling with her marriage and her new life, will she ever be free from the ghost of Rebecca who manages to influence life so much even when she's dead herself?

The setting of Manderley was perfect for this book! It was so huge that you were practically isolated from the rest of the world and I felt MC's loneliness. The house was so big that you could get lost in it and MC does get lost at first and discovers the chambers that used to be Rebecca's. Imagine the horror at finding a shrine to a dead woman! Even when the new mistress of the house has moved in, everything remains the same as if she went on living, her favourite food is still eaten and the rooms she decorated haven't been altered. Everyone in the neighbourhood raves about her beauty, her grace, her parties, her friendliness.. I felt for our MC being compared to some sort of saint.

Mrs. Danvers was just evil, the woman seemed obsessed with Rebecca and was trying her hardest to make life difficult for MC. Even going as far as trying to convince her to commit suicide! Their was something really creepy about her all consuming love for a child she watched grow into a woman, it didn't seem natural.

I thought it was heartbreaking watching the relationship between Maxim and MC, because she was so convinced he could never love her after having been married to Rebecca. And Maxim didn't really do much to prove her wrong, treating her more like a child than his wife.

The twists in the story were so wonderful! I didn't see them coming, even though I expected there to be many, many secrets. At the beginning of the book we're told that at least our MC doesn't live at Manderley anymore, but I couldn't figure out until right before the ending why that was and what had happened.

The story was so dark and mysterious! I cried with our MC in her moments of despair and felt the gloom of the place and her loneliness. Every lover of Jane Eyre should read this book, I thought it was amazing and it's one to add to my list of favourites. I almost read it in one go because I could just not put it down!

My rating: 5+ stars.