Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chosen Ones

Chosen Ones (The Lost Souls, #1)Title: Chosen Ones
Author: Tiffany Truitt
Series: The Lost Souls #1
Read: April 20, 2014

Summary: Life is bleak but uncomplicated for sixteen-year-old Tess, living in a not-too-distant future where the government, faced with humanity's extinction, created the Chosen Ones, artificial beings who are extraordinarily beautiful, unbelievably strong, and unabashedly deadly.

When Tess begins work at Templeton, a Chosen Ones training facility, she meets James, and the attraction is immediate in its intensity, overwhelming in its danger. But there is more to Templeton than Tess ever knew. Can she stand against her oppressors, even if it means giving up the only happiness in her life? goodreads

Review: To be honest, this book left me feeling a little confused and wanting more. I really liked the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic/dystopian premise. Tess lives in a world where females are no longer able to reproduce which is fortunate because the government is now manufacturing "chosen ones" who are only males and perfect beings. Don't get me started on the sexism. I think the premise is a solid idea but I'm left wanting more. I wanted to understand some more of the history and how things got as bad as they did. This is only the first book in the series so they may go into more in other books but I did't feel like the world was created as well as I wanted to.

While reading this book, I kept asking myself why Divergent made it and a book like this didn't? Similar genres and narrators but Divergent was so much better and obviously more popular. I feel like the problem was that I didn't particularly connect with Tess like I did with Tris. I liked the rebellious traits she had but at times, she just felt a little dumb.

Of course, at some point Tess meets a boy who is, gasp, a chosen one and there is some insta-love (which I hate) but I kind of liked James anyway. I think my main issue with this book is it just felt a little chaotic and rushed. The plot had so much potential and I liked parts of it but, in the end, I just wanted more. I think there are some very positive aspects of this book but it wasn't enough for me. I won't be finishing this series because I wasn't that hooked but I think if I did, I would enjoy learning what happened to the characters and some more background about how society got to where it is.

Have you read this? What did you think?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Burn for Burn

Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn, #1)Title: Burn for Burn
Author: Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Series: Burn for Burn #1
Read: April 13, 2014

Summary: Postcard-perfect Jar Island is the kind of place where nobody locks their doors at night, where parents can sleep easy, knowing their daughters are tucked away safe and sound in their beds.

But bad things can happen, even to good girls . . . and sometimes, the only way to make things right is to do something wrong.

Lillia used to trust boys, but not anymore. Not after what happened this summer. And she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her little sister from the same fate.

Kat is over the rumors, the insults, the cruel jokes made at her expense. It all goes back to one person--her ex-best friend. Someone needs to teach her a lesson, and, with Lillia and Mary behind her, Kat feels up to the task.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she’s not the same girl anymore. Now that she’s got friends who have her back, he's going to be in big trouble.

Three very different girls who come together to make things right. Will they go too far? goodreads

Review: This story is told through three different perspectives of three very different girls. Lillia is the popular one who is starting to see that her friends may not be who she thought they were. Kat is the rebel who has recently been hurt by a popular boy and has a grudge against Lillia's best friend (because they all three used to be besties but then Kat was kicked to the curb.) And Mary is the new kid who is returning to the island after leaving due to a traumatic incident. All three girls are thrown together for one goal and one goal only: revenge.

I liked the premise of this story. It's very high school. Girls start to mature and realize that maybe things aren't what they really thought. They start to realize that maybe they were too bitchy to the girl who wasn't exactly like them. And sometimes, if we are really lucky, they start to make amends. Some of that happened in this book. But mostly, these girls realized that the people who deserve it, aren't getting what's coming to them and they want to do something to correct that.

The revenge starts out simple but gets a little more extreme as the story goes on. The story leads up to homecoming night where they make their final big moves and things go very, very wrong. Then the story ends. We don't know what happens to each person or the consequences. Things get out of hand and then the story ends. Now, I appreciate a good cliff-hanger as much as the next girl but this was ridiculous. I also understand that this is part of a series and meant to entice me to read the next one but it doesn't. I'm just frustrated. There should have been some sort of ending.

The one other issue I had with this book were the weird Carrie moments that Mary was having. They only happened a couple of times and were finally addressed (albeit briefly) in the big homecoming mess but I thought it was too random and didn't see this book going that way. Of course, I don't know anything about this aspect of Mary or her life because it was only briefly mentioned and then the story ended but I found it very odd. And a little bit of a rip off from my beloved Stephen. Needless to say, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

I will not be continuing the series even though I do want to know what happens to these girls. I liked the characters and the story was told well and moved along quickly. I'm just not interested enough to keep going. If anyone has read this and would like to let me know what happens, I'd be open to spoilers!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and my Harrowing Escape

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing EscapeTitle: Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and my Harrowing Escape
Author: Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer
Read: April 10, 2014

Summary: Jenna Miscavige Hill was raised to obey. As the niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, she grew up at the center of this highly controversial and powerful organization. But at twenty-one, Jenna made a daring break, risking everything she had ever known and loved to leave Scientology once and for all. Now she speaks out about her life, the Church, and her dramatic escape, going deep inside a religion that, for decades, has been the subject of fierce debate and speculation worldwide.

Piercing the veil of secrecy that has long shrouded the world of Scientology, this insider reveals unprecedented firsthand knowledge of the religion, its obscure rituals, and its mysterious leader—David Miscavige. From her prolonged separation from her parents as a small child to being indoctrinated to serve the greater good of the Church, from her lack of personal freedoms to the organization's emphasis on celebrity recruitment, Jenna goes behind the scenes of Scientology's oppressive and alienating culture, detailing an environment rooted in control in which the most devoted followers often face the harshest punishments when they fall out of line. Addressing some of the Church's most notorious practices in startling detail, she also describes a childhood of isolation and neglect—a childhood that, painful as it was, prepared her for a tough life in the Church's most devoted order, the Sea Org.

Despite this hardship, it is only when her family approaches dissolution and her world begins to unravel that she is finally able to see the patterns of stifling conformity and psychological control that have ruled her life. Faced with a heartbreaking choice, she mounts a courageous escape, but not before being put through the ultimate test of family, faith, and love. At once captivating and disturbing, Beyond Belief is an eye-opening exploration of the limits of religion and the lengths to which one woman went to break free. goodreads

Reviewer's note: I do not believe in Scientology. I didn't before this book and I sure as hell don't after this book. This review is biased because of that. I refer to things in this "religion" as weird, crazy, and absolutely nuts at time. I'm a Wog. If you are a Scientologist, I don't recommend reading this. I promise, it is not for you!

Review: Things I knew about Scientology before reading this book:

1. Tom Cruise is a Scientologist.
2. Tom Cruise is a weirdo.
3. Celebrities pay a lot of money to be Scientologists.
4. It is a 'religion.'
5. There are some scandals revolving around it but I'm not entirely sure what they are.

Needless to say, I didn't know much but was extremely interested in getting a sneak peek into this way of life. Similar to how I'm weirdly interested in Warren Jeffs and all of his creepy crazy beliefs. This book sounded like just the thing to satisfy those weird interests.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. This book was very difficult to get through. Yes, I learned a lot more about Scientology and it's beliefs but I was more interested in the true story of someone who has been through it.  This story is told through the eyes of Jenna who experienced all of these weird things and the girl is definitely not a writer. An editor somewhere should have helped her out. Any editor. At any time. Anything!!!

This book was very boring. Jenna goes into explicit details about the crazy requirements of Scientology and how she maneuvered her way through them. Unfortunately, the story focuses more on the aspects of the "religion" and the different things they were required to do rather than Jenna's feelings and experiences with them. Yes, she describes these things (most of the time repeatedly in various sections of the books) as she goes through them but its very dry and she sounds like a robot going through it rather than a little girl. The various details about the auditing and levels were very detailed and intricate and I could see why she would include them in order to explain some of it but it was so far gone on the crazy train it just became extraneous.

I did enjoy getting to see how Jenna became disillusioned with the religion and broke free. It's completely understandable to me that it took her so long to do so. We have to remember that she was brainwashed essentially, and removed from the outside world. This crazy was her reality and she didn't know any better. I give her credit for starting to question things as soon as she got a little more info and I understand how it took her so long to get out.

One of the final issues I have with this book was that in the title, Jenna refers to her "harrowing escape." Um, I may have missed the harrowing escape part of the story. Her husband and her left on their own free will, everyone knew, and the scientologists even packed up their stuff and delivered it to them. I kept waiting for them to get caught, dragged back to the religion, and then have to really escape. That never happened. A little misleading if you ask me...

If you want a detailed description of some of the aspects of Scientology, this book is for you. If you want to see brainwashing in action, this book is for you. If you want to connect with a person and her experiences through her story, this book is not really for you. If you are interested in more of the secret inner-workings of Scientology, this book is not really for you. If you don't like very dry, badly written stories, this book is not really for you. What I'm trying to say is, this book wasn't really for me.

On the bright side, I did learn why Suri Cruise is such an odd child. Scientologists believe that children are fully formed adults just put into a child's body so they treat them like tiny adults. If you know anything about psychology, you know this is false and very damaging to a child. Suri Cruise finally makes a little bit of sense. Poor kid.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Astronaut Wives Club

The Astronaut Wives ClubTitle: The Astronaut Wives Club
Author: Lily Koppel
Read: April 1, 2014

Summary: As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.

Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK's favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other's children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.

As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives-they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history. goodreads

Review: As an 80's baby, I was obviously not around for the Space Race. I also don't remember learning much about it while in school either. I'm sure it was touched on but I had zero idea what actually happened. All I knew of was Neil Armstrong and his famous quote. Apollo 13 added to that info many years later, but all in all, my knowledge of this time was abysmal. Luckily, Lily Koppel put together a book about the only aspect of this period that would actually catch my interest enough to read about: Housewives!

Personally, I aspire to be a housewife and the best one I can be. I also tend to overindulge in the Real Housewives reality TV series and am aware that my idea of my future, and those crazy ladies, are not the same type of housewife. Then I get to throw in the Astronaut wives definition of a housewife in the ring and I have a lot of different versions of the same thing.

When I think of the ladies who were the wives of the astronauts, originally I pictured 50's housewife. After reading this collection of stories, I realize that these women were much more liberated and independent than the 50s. I loved hearing about how they viewed themselves, each other, and society. It is very interesting to learn how this bubble of women went from normal civilians on limited budgets to essentially, celebrities over night and how they handled this. Some of the astronauts were good men who took care of their wives while others were philandering ass holes. Despite who their husbands were, these women had to be very strong and navigate their way through this time on their own and with each other.

I love that these women created little groups for support and it makes sense that they would be protective of their way of life to newcomers. I think each group had to find their own way to cope with various stressors but the main support was the same for all of them: each other. Girl power, ladies!

The one negative thing that I will say is that it is hard to differentiate between all of the different wives at times. There were a lot of them and the story jumped back and forth between them all quite a lot. I couldn't keep them straight to be honest. There are a lot of little anecdotes which I think tell us more about the women but it is still very dry info at best. I would have liked to get to know a few of the ladies better and just focused on them rather than everything over the span of a decade but overall, it was enjoyable.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a different aspect of the space race, anyone who loves a good story about a housewife, and anyone who loves a good piece of juicy gossip (very proper gossip, mind you.) There are also some great pictures at the end that you can reference as you get to know the various ladies better. Check it out!

Monday, April 14, 2014

All the Summer Girls

All the Summer GirlsTitle: All the Summer Girls
Author: Meg Donohue
Read: March 30, 2014

Summary: In Philadelphia, good girl Kate is dumped by her fiance the day she learns she is pregnant with his child. In New York City, beautiful stay-at-home mom Vanessa is obsessively searching the Internet for news of an old flame. And in San Francisco, Dani, the aspiring writer who can't seem to put down a book--or a cocktail--long enough to open her laptop, has just been fired... again.

In an effort to regroup, Kate, Vanessa, and Dani retreat to the New Jersey beach town where they once spent their summers. Emboldened by the seductive cadences of the shore, the women being to realize how much their lives, and friendships, have been shaped by the choices they made one fateful night on the beach eight years earlier--and the secrets that only now threaten to surface. goodreads

Review: Meh. That's how I feel about this book. I know that is a cop-out but I don't know how else to describe it. Looking back on it, I think this books was kind of dumb. I didn't not like it but I could have gone without reading it and wouldn't really recommend it to anyone. Now, if that isn't a start to a riveting review, I don't know what is!

I wish I had more feels about this book but honestly, the only thing I felt was hatred towards the main characters. I plain just didn't like these girls. They were whiny and stupid. They made stupid decisions and handled things in completely immature ways. With a big stretch of the imagination, I could understand how someone could wind up in one of these three situations but the chances of all three of these people making this many dumb decisions and being best friends (but not really because they don't actually have anything in common or like each other anymore) is too much. They're all very self-centered and believe they are the only reason the three of them is friends. I'm not sure what brought them together other than the weird "quaker" school where they met.

The one redeeming factor was Colin. I enjoyed the flashbacks to his story and I really think he would have brought something to this story as a real, main character. I like that he had a unique relationship with each of them and it seems like he was actually the center of the friendships rather than any one girl. But alas, we only got glimpses of them and we are left with the aftermath of none of these girls having anything in common. The writing wasn't very good but the character development was well done besides the fact that the main characters were all pathetic. I'll give the author credit for that because I don't have to like a character for it to be well developed. Other than that, easy beach read that can be frustrating at times. For example: The author referring to "The Summer" as "When they lived together in Avalon that summer before their senior year of college" in full every time it is mentioned. We know which summer you are talking about. No need to specify to that extent every time you reference it! Sheesh.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Beautiful Darkness

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2)Title: Beautiful Darkness
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Series: Caster Chronicles #2
Read: March 30, 2014

Summary: Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems. goodreads

Review: I really enjoyed the first book in this series. I liked the various characters and their deep, dark secrets that were shared as the book progressed. It interested me! (Sidenote: The movie is absolutely horrendous and should never have been made.) I felt less interested in this one though. Ethan is still head over heels, mushy-gushy in love with Lena. In this novel, the soul mate, can't breathe without you, need you to function relationship, really started to irk me. The role reversal was interesting in the first one. Usually we meet the female narrator who can't live without the dreamy boy, but in this series, it's the opposite. Ethan is the originally obsessed one and Lena eventually develops feelings for him. That being said, it's kind of weird to have this over emotional male narrator. Yes, I know I'm falling for the stereotype of men not having feelings but it just doesn't feel as genuine in this book as it did in the last. I also felt as though not much happened in this book. Yes, Lena pulled away and eventually made a choice but by the end of the book, there were very few major differences from the other book as far as storyline goes.

I enjoyed getting to know some new characters as well as the return of some others; welcome back, Ridley. I also liked that Ethan's mom had a stronger role in this book. As I'm working my way through this review, I've realized that this is actually more of a 3/5 rather than a 4/5. I think I rated it high originally because it was a quick read and kept me entertained and I liked the premise of the series. But looking back on it, I'm adjusting. Sorry, casters.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring/Summer 2014 Challenge


I've talked about the College Students! challenges before and I'm super excited because a new one has just been posted! As you may remember, I was not enthused by the Fall/Winter Challenge so I have been anxiously awaiting the new tasks and I couldn't be happier with some of the topics. I've added a new tab up yonder to keep you updated on my progress so check in when you feel like it. I would also love to have anyone join in via me or the goodreads group. Let me know if you do!

Here are the rules for the challenge as posted in the group:

1. This challenge will start April 1, 2014 (12:01 am EST) and will end at 11:59 pm on August 31, 2014.

2. All books read during the challenge dates, September through March, can count towards tasks. So, if you join in June, anything you read that FITS a task can count towards the challenge as long as you read it AFTER Apil 1st. If you are less than half way through a book BEFORE the challenge starts, you can use it for the challenge. If you are over the halfway point, you cannot use it for the challenge.

3. Books can only be used for one category.

4. Re-reads are fine, except where stated otherwise.

5. All books should be over 150 pages unless otherwise stated. If you read a book that is not quite 150 pages, please make sure that it for a lower point task and you are only able to read an "under 150 pages book" once. Please get an "ok" from us before you try and count an "under 150 pages book" for a task. The only exception is the Children's Book task (5.8). We will allow that one to be 100 pages.

6. To claim your points, you must post completed tasks in the "Leaderboard & Completed Tasks" thread. Please include the title, author, the task number it was for, and your total number of points to date. You can update your task list but we will not be checking those for your points. That is just for your records only.

7. If you have any doubts as to whether a book fits a particular challenge, please feel free to ask.

8. Above all, remember this challenge is supposed to be FUN, a good way to tackle some of your TBR list, and to expand your horizons.

9. Those that finish/win the challenge will be able to pick a task for the Fall/Winter 2014/2015 Challenge.

10. Most Important: HAVE FUN! 

Easy peasy, right? Usually I make a fancy colorful spreadsheet to keep track of my points but since I'm going to be posting on here, I'm going to forego that option. Some people choose to keep a list on the discussion board but I'm not one of those. Below are the tasks:

5 points:

1. I Still Believe in 398.2: Fairy tales and folklore, read a book that one would find in the library at this call number or book relating to books one would find at this call number.

2. May, June, July & August are all women's names: Read a book either written by someone with one of these names, about a character with one of these names, or one of these words appear in the title.

3. Garden Basics: Read a book with “garden” in the title or a garden on the cover.

4. Get Outdoors: Read a fiction or nonfiction book about being outdoors.

5. Spring Cleaning: Read a book that has been on your to be read list for more than 5 years (or if you don’t have any on there that long, then the book that has been on your list for the longest).

6. Road Trip: Read a book that takes place in a state or country/province/city/etc. you have never visited.

7. These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: Read a book about one of your favorite things, or re-read a favorite book.

8. Children's Book Week-April 12-18: Re-read your favorite childhood chapter book or read one you always wanted to read.

10 points:

1. World War I: July 28th marks the 100 year anniversary since the start of World War I. Read a fiction book set during World War I or read a non-fiction book about World War I.

2. (Hopefully not) Lost in Translation: Read a book that has been translated into your mother tongue.

3. HonoRORY Gilmore Girl: Read a book mentioned by or read by the character Rory from Gilmore Girls. There are a couple of lists on Goodreads and several blogs—just Google it.

4. Study Abroad: Read a book about someone visiting a foreign country.

5. PotterMORE: June 2014 marks 17 years of Harry Potter. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is officially a wizard adult! Time for a re-read? Or read something related to Harry Potter, such as a book about wizards, Merlin, or boarding schools.

6. Like a Virgin: Read a book by an author who is completely new to you.

7. What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Read a book related to something fun you'll be doing during the period of this reading challenge, and tell us what the fun thing was. If you don't have the time to get away, read a book related to something you'd like to have done or a book you think is a fun read.

8. April Fool’s Day: Read a book by an author who is using a pen name. (Like Robert Galbraith = J.K. Rowling.)

15 points:

1. National Karaoke Week: The last week of April is National Karaoke Week. Read a book that has song lyrics in the title or is about a singer.

2. Getting Medieval: Read a book set during the medieval period (476 - 1500), a book (or an anthology of writings) from that era, or a nonfiction work covering that time.

3. Summer Stock: Summer is a season when many theaters start producing shows, so celebrate by reading some plays. Since most full-length play scripts are only c. 50 pages long, read at least three full-length plays or an anthology of plays that is over 150 pages.

4. Trilogy: Start or finish a trilogy.

5. Blockbusters: Read a book that has been adapted into a movie and watch the movie; then say a bit about the adaptation—was it good? bad? faithful to the novel?

6. The Dictionary Challenge: Open a dictionary to a random page, and close your eyes, and put your finger on a word. Google books with that word in the title. If there aren't any, do it again till you find one. You learn new words AND you find new books, it's a win-win challenge.

7. Books about Books: Read a book deemed Metafiction or a book about how to read books or assist in the reading of specific books.

8. Bethany’s Task: Each participant should choose 3 books he/she wants to read, each over 300 pages. They will list the three books in a post on this thread: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... Then the next person to post on the thread gets to pick which of the three books will be read.

20 points:

1. Allison’s task: Wheel of Fortune: Read a book where the Wheel of Fortune letters RSTLNE all appear in the title and author's name. For example: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger or The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

2. Micklibrarian’s task: Vice or Virtue:
Read 2 books.

Book 1 - Must have the name of a vice, sin, or bad character trait in the title, subtitle or author's name. This could be a traditional sin, like Pride and Prejudice, or something more broad, like The Gambling Man. Note: the vice must be a noun, not an adjective.

Book 2 - Same thing, but with a virtue or something positive about the person. Examples: A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials, Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil, Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence, or Alias Grace.

25 points:

1. Research: Read a novel, then read a non-fiction work that connects to the subject matter. For example, read Moby-Dick, then read a book about whales or whaling.

2. Bizarre, Unique, and Special Holidays: Pick 2 holidays that will happen during the challenge from this list (http://holidayinsights.com/moreholida...) and read a book relating to the holiday. (Other bizarre holidays not listed are also ok, since Towel Day isn't actually on this list, and it is clearly the best holiday ever.

3. Art Smart: Read a biography or autobiography about a person who worked or is working in the fine arts (painting, sculpture, music, architecture, and poetry) and a novel set in the art world.

4. First and last: Pick an author who is no-longer alive (and is therefore done writing). Read their first book and their last book.

5. Vive la revolution!: The US and France both began revolutions in July, so read two books about any revolutions of your choice. They can be fiction or non-fiction and cover two revolutions or be two books about the same revolution.

6. Take A Vacation: For this task, we are going to build a vacation. Use this (http://www.random.org/dice/) to roll the die to see what you get. Set the die to roll 2 die at a time. For this first book, you will need to read a book set on that continent. The next roll will decide what kinds of things you will be doing on your vacation. You can only roll once.

Use this to roll the die:


1. North America
2. South America
3. Africa
4. Asia
5. Australia
6. Europe

1. History & Culture: Your vacation is all about experiencing the culture and history of a foreign land. Read a book that revolves around an important historical event or person or read a non-fiction book about anything history/culture related.
2. Cruise: Your vacation is all about having a nautical adventure. Read a book that mostly takes place on the water.
3. Romantic: Your vacation is all about having a romantic getaway. Read a book that is considered a "love story" or a romance.
4. Thrillseeker/Adventure: Your vacation is all about having an adventure. Read a book where the main character has some sort of planned/unplanned adventure or read an adventure novel.
5. Foodie Vacation: Your vacation is all about immersing yourself in the food and drink of the country you are in. Read a book where food is a central theme to the book –fiction or non-fiction.
6. Volunteer Work: Your vacation is all about experiencing another culture by helping its people. Read a book about somebody who is doing some sort of humanitarian work/missions work in a foreign country.

7. Classics, Old and New: Read a known classic and THEN read a book of Entertainment Weekly's List called "The New Classics:" The 100 Best Books of the Last 25 Years
(http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20207...) After reading both write a tiny review in our thread about whether or not you think the "new" classic has the ability to stand the test of time.

8. Two Become One: For this challenge you are going to read two books—whatever you want. The caveat—the two books need to form a proper sentence. For example you might read "This Is Where I Leave You" and "Two Alone" by Sandra Brown as it makes the sentence – "This is where I leave you two alone" or you could read "I Am The Messenger" and "In a Sunburned Country" as it makes the sentence "I am the messenger in a sunburned country." It can be zany and nonsensical but it has to be a proper sentence.

As you can see, the higher the points, the harder the task/more books you have to read. Some of these are repeats of other challenges like 25. 6 but I really like these and they are worthy of being repeated. I find the hardest part of this challenge is determining which books fits best for which task. You'll find a lot of the books you read fit for various tasks but you have to choose the right one so another one can fit perfectly. There's some thinking involved!

I'm planning on predicting some books that I know I will read that will fit into various tasks and since I'm not using my spreadsheet, I will probably document them on the Challenge Page from above. I'll try to differentiate those so you know they aren't my final choice. I'm thinking I may include initial thoughts as well just to keep it interesting. Finally, I tend to "claim points" in big chunks rather than after every book because then I have the freedom to move books around with very little fuss.

I'm looking forward to earning points and would love if you'd join me! Also, let me know if you participate in any similar challenges!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Fellowship of the Worms: The House Girl

One of my favorite blogs I follow is Words for Worms. Katie reads a lot of the same books as me but she is way better at this whole blogger thing. She also hosts a monthly book club read called The Fellowship of the Worms and this month, I finally got to participate. She posts the questions, I post my answers, and then I link up. If you've read The House Girl, you should too! 

I'm not sure where I first heard of this book but when Katie announced the book for this month, I was pleasantly surprised that it was one from my TBR list and one I already owned. Score! I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did but I found myself talking about it to random people and sharing the summary with them and recommending it to them. I think that is a sign of a good book. I've listed and answered Katie's questions below but I did so based on info from the whole book and that you have read it with me. If you haven't read the book and want to avoid spoilers, read it, then come back! Fair warning!

The House GirlTitle: The House Girl
Author: Tara Conklin
Read: March 27, 2014

SummaryVirginia, 1852. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse to her ailing mistress, the aspiring artist Lu Anne Bell. New York City, 2004. Lina Sparrow, an ambitious first-year associate in an elite law firm, is given a difficult, highly sensitive assignment that could make her career: she must find the “perfect plaintiff” to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.

It is through her father, the renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers Josephine Bell and a controversy roiling the art world: are the iconic paintings long ascribed to Lu Anne Bell really the work of her house slave, Josephine? A descendant of Josephine’s would be the perfect face for the reparations lawsuit—if Lina can find one. While following the runaway girl’s faint trail through old letters and plantation records, Lina finds herself questioning her own family history and the secrets that her father has never revealed: How did Lina’s mother die? And why will he never speak about her?

Moving between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, this searing, suspenseful and heartbreaking tale of art and history, love and secrets, explores what it means to repair a wrong and asks whether truth is sometimes more important than justice. goodreads

The Fellowship of the Worms Questions

1. The House Girl is told in a dual narrative, switching back and forth between Lina in modern day NYC and Josephine in 1852 Virginia. In addition to the two major narrators, there are a number of additional characters advancing the story through letters. Did you enjoy the multiple perspectives? Did you find it added or detracted from the story Conklin was trying to tell? 

A lot of people hate the dual narratives but they really don't bother me and in this book, I really enjoyed it. It was hard at times to get so wrapped up in the old south and then switch back to the dog-eat-dog world of law in NYC but overall, I really liked hearing their different stories. It also provided great foreshadowing because sometimes Lina would know further into the story than Josephine and vice versa. Without the dual narrative, I don't think I would have connected with Josephine and Lina like I did. I can't imagine how you could tell this story with only the letters and evidence from the past instead of a first hand perspective. The multiple narratives may not work in all books but in this one, it definitely did!

2. Do you think that Lu Anne intentionally passed off Josephine’s art work as her own? Do you think she would have done things differently had she known the notoriety the art would eventually garner? 

It sounded to me like Lu Anne really enjoyed her drawings and intended to complete them but eventually, Josephine would step in to help or finalize something. I may be wrong, but it didn't sound intentional to me. It sounded more collaborative initially and then Josephine went on to do her own work. I'd also assume that neither one them knew how famous their art would eventually be and they didn't document what was what. It's also important to remember that by the end, Lu Anne was very sick and delirious through most of it and she may not have realized how much of the work Josephine really did. I have a soft spot for Lu Anne and I think she tried to do what was best for Josephine even though the ways she went about it weren't all that great. Therefore, my soft spot says it was not intentional.

3. Lina is the daughter of the artsiest artists in all the land, and yet she chose to pursue a career in law. What in her upbringing to you think helped spur her decision to choose a career so based in reason? 

I think it has to be difficult to be raised by artists and it seems like Lina had a lot of different views compared to her parents. I find that if a child is raised by parents in one extreme, they tend to grow up to do the opposite. I'm not sure what the reasoning is behind this other than she valued her type of success over what her father did. I also don't remember hearing too much about Lina's artistic ability and she may not have explored those options because she was so wrapped up in her parents' abilities. It felt as though Lina saw a lot of flaws in the way Oscar lived his life and she didn't want to repeat them.

4. As a house slave, Josephine walks a lonely road. How does her unique status contribute to her desire to run?

I can't imagine how lonely Josephine was. Here she was a slave, yet the other slaves didn't accept her and she damn sure was not part of the family in the house. There is no one to vent to or lean on in that position and that isolation has to be crippling. Even in the end, she tried to find someone to run with her and couldn't find a companion. Josephine wanted more out of life but I also think that her desire to have interactions with people similar to her contributed to her running.

5. How did you feel when Oscar dropped the bombshell about what really happened to Lina’s mother Grace?

Initially, I was pissed off!! I couldn't believe he lied to her all these years and had her go through that grief. Once I thought about it more, I kind of started to understand it. She would have had to deal with grief regardless but this way, she may not internalize it as much as she would if she knew that her mom left her by choice all those years ago. I think Oscar was trying to protect Lina from all the feelings that he had which probably revolved around questioning why he wasn't good enough and what he did wrong. A child would have those same questions but they would make them a permanent part of their self-image and that could do more damage than the loss of a loved one. It's a hard situation and I think Oscar meant well but who knows if it was the right choice.

Link up with Katie and share your thought on this book or read it if you haven't. I loved it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 2014 Reading List

Happy April Fool's Day!!! I love a good prank but I'm not the best at coming up with them. I can pull them off if someone sets them up for me but I'm not very creative... Do you pull April Fool's? I love a good story so share if you do!

Well, it's that time again for some more reading goals. But first, let's take a look back at March. I actually did pretty good last month even though I technically didn't finish them all.

The Republic of Thieves
Hyperbole and a Half
In The Woods
The Leftovers
Beautiful Darkness
All the Summer Girls
The House Girl

Currently reading
The Astronaut Wives Club

I at least read part of ALL of them and I'm sure I'll finish the final one within the next couple of days. Not bad. I'll also work on some more of these reviews. I'm participating in the The Fellowship of the Worms later this week with The House Girl so you can look forward to that!

Reading List for April

Real book:

I'm going to re-read this one and because of it's size, probably only read one real book this month. 

Ebooks (going to stick with 6 this month): 

If that title doesn't get you, I don't know what will!

This book is clarified with-- (A proper romance). Excited to find out what that means. 

Don't know much about the rest of these...

Chosen Ones (The Lost Souls, #1)
Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn, #1) Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn #1) 

Looks like I'm starting a lot of new series this month so I look forward to seeing how many are good enough to stick with! What are you reading for April? 

Remember, now that it's April a new College Students! challenge starts so keep an eye out for the new goals!