Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Signed Books: H. B. Moore

Heather Moore has graciously sent me two of her historical scriptual series to read and review. I love the fact that she sends her books signed! It really is a special treat.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

So, I am participating in the book blogger hop this week! I finally got around to trying to find some new cool book blogs.

I found that Starmetal Oak is a Brandon Sanderson Fan! We should totally be friends! 'Cause anyone who likes Sanderson is cool.

I also visited Swords for Fighting

Books Books Books (she's from the UK. I've never read a UK book blog before. I am intrigued.)
One book at a time

Book Love

If you are stopping by feel free to leave a comment and say hi!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Last Waltz by G. G. Vandagriff

The Last Waltz by G. G. Vandagriff

"In December 1913, the city of Vienna glitters with promises of the future for nineteen-year-old Amalia Faulhaber. Daughter of a prominent merchant, she is schooled in the fine art of flirtation by her aristocratic grandmother and in issues of conscience by her socialist uncle. Then, almost without warning, life takes a dramatic turn as simmering political unrest escalates into World War I, the most deadly war the world has yet known.

Amalia is devastated when the Prussian baron Eberhard von Waldburg breaks off their engagement to return to Germany and a commission in the army. But while Europe descends into darkness, Amalia is forced to confront even greater challenges. Disillusioned and heartbroken, she discovers a budding passion for democracy that sets her life on a new and unpredictable course.

Her family torn apart and impoverished by war, Amalia struggles to find her way in a changing world. Should she marry an idealistic young doctor who shares her political views or the wealthy Baron von Schoenenburg, who promises to provide safety and security in a violent, tumultuous time? Her growing political conscience sets her apart in the social circles of Vienna, but is it worth the personal cost to her and her family? And what can she do when her beloved Austria rushes headlong to embrace Hitler, threatening to destroy everything she loves?

In this gripping tale of love and war, a dazzling young socialite of the old world contends with deeply contradictory notions and personal crises to become a woman who would be extraordinary in any age."

So, this book was really depressing, but I enjoyed reading it anyway. The historical setting really is very well set up. The author manages to draw you into the story by making the time period feel real and relatable without resorting to unnatural info dumps, which I find annoying. I had a hard time at first keeping track of the large cast of characters, but after a few chapters I got used to all the names and nicknames of the characters.

I found Amalia’s character to be likable, though I sometimes disapproved of her decisions. I really liked her uncle and her grandmother too, and I found it interesting to read about how their family fit into Vienna society and felt the author did a good job of making them interesting and unique. I however did not like Andrzej, Amalia’s main love interest because I thought he was kind of flaky and impulsive. He was also a little bit selfish. So, I routed for the Baron the entire book. Then Amalia had to go and marry Eberhard, a man she didn’t even like very much, let alone love. That was probably the most depressing and slightly disturbing section of the book. I kind of had to take a break from the book after all that, but I returned because I still wanted to know how Amalia’s story ended. The last half of the book deals a great deal with the political struggles that went on in Austria before Hitler took over the country, and Amalia finds herself in a position where she has to make a dangerous escape into Switzerland with her family.

The book was a clean read, but dealt with fairly mature thematic material that would make me hesitate to hand it over to people without knowing their reading taste and preferences.

Vist Author G.G. Vandagriff's Website to find out about her other books.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Signed Book: Kerry Blair

Welcome to my signed book collection! I got the idea to post pictures of all my signed books from Emily's Reading Room. She had posted some pictures of some of her signed books, and I have a couple hanging around in the apartment. So I thought I would show them off, because half the fun of having signed books is being able to brag about them!

This is the first book I won after starting my book blog. I don't remember which random contest I entered, but I shall remember it fondly because it was the first. Kerry Blair is a fellow Latin lover and an excellent writer. I salute her!

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite

My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite

Sarah Howard’s first year at the university is everything and
nothing she expected—especially when a very cute boy named
Ben in her Art History class starts to show interest in her.
Sarah feels like she’s an average, normal, everyday girl. So,
when Ben (to whom she secretly refers as Adonis because
she thinks he could be a Greek god) begins to take interest
in her, Sarah is in denial. For one thing, last year she was
deeply crushed and humiliated by “Jesse James”—a guy who
she thought liked her. She’s determined not to get burned
again. But in her heart of hearts, what she really wants is a
Jane Austen kind of romance. Ridiculous, right? That kind of
romance doesn’t exist anymore . . . or does it?
Sarah is smart and fun to be around and even pretty, despite
her Medusa-like red curls. She even plays the guitar. (So does
Ben!) Yes, Sarah is everything Ben has wanted. He’s crazy
for her, but Sarah is just not getting it. She’s playing hard to
get, and if she’s not careful, she’s going to lose a real “hot”
gentleman—her 21st-century Mr. Darcy.”
(Summary from Publisher’s Website)

I really enjoyed reading this clean romance novel. There are a few steamy kissing scenes, but I appreciated the fact that they did not overwhelm the rest of the plot or the character’s every waking thoughts . The author also explored other interesting part of their relationship, and showed them getting to know each other better. The getting to know you stage of love is so interesting and fun to read about for me. I love how both Ben and Sarah were flawed and honest human characters. Sarah sometimes gets on your nerves because she lacks the self-confidence to communicate with Ben real effectively, and thus enters the human element.

Her lack of self confidence is seen as a lack of enthusiasm for their relationship and thus the typical miscommunication ensues and she must fix it before she loses Ben entirely. Yet, Ben is also self-conscience of the fact that he has a learning disability, and has a hard time thinking that the brilliant, studious Sarah could ever want to be with him. I really loved reading about these two because they were both so imperfect, and yet despite all of that found admirable things about each other and fell in love anyway. It also helped that they were both hilarious! I laughed a lot reading this book, and closed it with a smile on my face.

This is definitely a fun, cute, and entertaining chick-read that will make you laugh.

Check out Becca Wilhite's website

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bloggiesta Blah!

So, I didn't do very well with my bloggiesta challenge. I worked 5 hours the first day 2 hours the second, and like 30 mins maybe yesterday. Well, I think I was on the computer too long the first day because I think I have strained an arm muscle. Bah! So, I had to rest a lot and get off the computer before I wanted too.

I did write two book reviews.
Posted a Reading List on my new page. (that took a lot of work listing all my reviews like that!)
I wrote a series of signed books posts drafted and ready to post.
I updated all my links list. I put blogs lists of writing friends, favorite author blogs, favorite book blogs, and places to find clean reads.

So, I'm glad that I accomplished those things. I wish I could have posted on others book blogs more, and found some new book blogs to follow, but I have all summer do those things. So I will take care of my little strained muscle and make sure it gets well again.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pegasus By Robin McKinley

Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Princess Sylvi is studying hard so she can be prepared for the day that she is bonded to her Pegasus. Since her childhood she had learned the sign-speech that is required to communicate with Pegasi. Despite this communication system Pegasi and humans still have difficulties communicating with one another. When Pegasi and humans first met they formed a mutual alliance—the humans obtaining much needed land, and the Pegasi receiving much needed protection from predators. This agreement also included that members from both the human and pegasi royal lines would be bonded together in a magical ceremony to increase their loyalty to one another.

Princess Sylvi participates in this tradition, but something strange happens on her bonding day. Defying hundreds of years of known history, Sylvi is able to communicate with her Pegasus, Ebon, son of the Pegasus King. This unique bond forms into unique and unbreakable friendship, and leads them to question if there is something behind the reason Pegasi and Human cannot communicate more easily.

The first thing I must say about this book is—wow! I loved it! I am not a fan of Robin McKinley, but I am totally a fan of this book. I’ve read some of McKinley’s work before. The book I liked best was Beauty, but it wandered a bit too much for me. I liked Hero and The Crown enough to read the sequel, but the books never really stayed with me all that much. Then I really disliked Spindle’s End and never picked up one of her books again. This was when I was a teenager.

So, I loved this book cover, and thought the premise looked magical and princessy, which is right up my alley. I love all things magical and princessy. So I read knowing that I might hate it because I supposedly didn’t like McKinley’s style. So, I don’t know what happened with this book. Did I just grow up enough to appreciate McKinley’s style finally? Did McKinley perfect her style? Or was the story itself a special aberration that could only be told in a uniquely McKinley way?

Either way the story is just breathtaking and beautiful. The story begins with Slyvi reading journal entries of those first humans that discovered Pegasi, and a reader could fairly say what a boring way to start a book! I also admired the way that it set up the culture and history of this magical kingdom that dwells in the heart Pegasi land. It also introduced the Pegasus in such a magical and majestic way that you couldn’t but help but feel awed as the principal actors in the novels themselves.

The crucial conflict of communication is the theme that carries the book. How do two completely different races get along if they can hardly communicate with one another? I love how the author explores this question, not but just telling but by showing. Each Pegasus has just as real and detailed personality as each human character, and they are funny, and silly, and stuffy, and brilliant. Really, as a reader I felt totally transported into this magical world, and enjoyed every second of it.

You’ll love this story if you love to read about new magical words, especially mythical and beautiful ones, and you’ll love this story if you enjoy reading about characters, but the story isn’t as strong plot-wise. McKinley loves to describe her world and her characters and while there is conflict and plot it seems to take a background to the previous two elements. In fact, the ending is terrible, but even though I hated the ending I still felt like the book was worth reading. The ending really isn’t so much an ending as a—oh I ran out of space, whoops! Guess the reader will have to wait for the sequel.

Oh, also on the subject of being princessy. Yes, the main character is a princess, but the author doesn’t dwell too much on being cute or girly. The story transcends the typical stereotypes of the genre because of the mythical feel of the setting. All of this is meant as a preface to say that boys can read this book too! It is that good. My hubby read and really liked this one too—except he is more angry about the ending than I am, probably because he got robbed of a really good climatic action scene. Really, repeating again, the ending is really mean and terrible.

This book comes out in November. I borrowed the ARC from my awesome High School Librarian again.


Maw's Books blog is hosting a blog challenge this weekend. I'm excited because the timing of this challenge is perfect for me. School is finally out and I've been bursting to get some good blogging work done in all my free time.

My goals include (but are not limited to):

-Writing 4 book reivews
-Updating my links list
-and adding new pages with blogger's new page feature
-writing posts about signed books, book ratings, finding clean books, and much more!

If you need some good motivation or just some good blog ideas head over to Maw's blog to participate today!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mistwood By Leah Cypress

Mistwood by Leah Cypress
Isabel is shape-shifter, and her one duty is to protect the king and his kingdom. When Prince Rokan comes to Mistwood seeking her she knows she must follow and protect him as long as he is unsafe. She senses something has changed from how it was before, but is not the palace that is different but her. She has more human emotions that she feels comfortable with, and has trouble shifting into different shapes.

She is thrown into court intrigue and politics, as she tries to discover who or what threatens the prince. Everything that is wrong seems to point back to the reason she left in the first place. When she remembers what happened she has to make a decision between what is in her heart and the duty she owes to the crown.

So, one of my favorite things about working in the library at my High School during my off period is that we have an awesome librarian. She got the ARC of Mistwood at a Librarian conference and so I got to borrow it from her. Squee! First off, I assumed that Mistwood was going to be a typical paranormal romance. Sure there were no vampires or werewolves, but it would probably have the same feel as all the other books out there. I read the first page or two and the setting of a misty and mystical forest caught my interest. So, I took it home to read.

So glad I did! It was so refreshing to read about a Heroine that does not dither about whether or not she should avoid the dangerous boy who is suddenly and mysteriously interested in her! In fact, there really is no “dangerous boy” in this story. I loved this book because so many aspects of it are unique from the current market trend. It has a varied blend of action, political intrigue, mystery, and romance. The plot focuses more on the mystery side than the romance side, which was fine by me. There was an good plot twist (though I guessed it from the clues), and all the plotlines are neatly tied up at the end. I think the author employed the whole love triangle plot line in the most innovative way ever. When Isabel is faced with the choice of to whom she should dedicate her loyalty and protective powers, I was totally hooked. In conclusion, I would highly recommend this book.