Thursday, August 29, 2013

Recently Read: The Luxe

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen is set in Manhattan in the year 1899. The story follows Elizabeth Holland, a young, rich, beautiful teenager who is at the top of the social ladder and the talk of the gossip news papers, and the others teenagers around her. Among them are her younger sister Diana, who is not as concerned with being seen as a proper lady as she should be, Penelope, Elizabeth's frenemiey, Henry, the boy every girl wants, and Lina, Elizabeth's maid. This is book one in a series which currently has four books out.

If I had to sum up this book in one sentence I would say, "Everyone is in love with the wrong person." It is comparable to the Gossip Girl series, but the time and setting makes it new and interesting. This was a quick read for me, and half way through I order the other novels in the series from a used book site because I knew I would enjoy reading the rest of them. I have been working my way through the seasons of Sex and the City in order lately, which may have inspired me to read this series. Sometimes something light, and entertaining is exactly what you need.
Anna Godberson also has a series out that is set in 1929 of which the first book is called Bright Young Things which I purchased recently along with The Luxe. I plan to read that series in the future as well and will share my thoughts once I have read it. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to the Grindstone

School is back in session for me, which means the week is filled with frustrations and trying to find a parking spot or a classroom. I am a sophomore in college. Since I am always interested to know what other people have to read for their English classes I thought I would share my required reading list with you. The English class I am taking is called Introduction to Prose.

In Our Time- Ernest Hemingway
Passing- Nella Larson
Silas Marner- George Eliot
 (I had no idea George Elliot was actually a woman until I bought this book) 
Counterparts- James Joyce
Daisy Miller- Henry James
Ethan Frome- Edith Wharton
The Fox- D.H. Lawrence
Old Mortality -Katherine Anne Porter
The Love of a Good Woman- Alice Munro
There are a couple I have left off the list, but this is the majority. These are all short novels, I believe all of them are under three hundred pages, but never the less, we are reading around two books a week. This is sure to slow down the reading I do on my own time, but I will share my thoughts on some of these novels as we read them. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Recently Purchased: Used Books

Just a pile of used books I have picked up recently. I tried out a new online used book website, They have tons of great used books for great prices with free shipping.

Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
The Luxe, Anna Godbersen
Bright Young Things, Anna Godbersen
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Recently Read: Looking For Alaska

The past few years, I have not read a lot of Young Adult fiction. I have been reading a lot of classics and adult fiction. Recently, reading John Green has gotten me back into YA and I'm really enjoying it again. This was my second Green book, I reviewed my first one here. Looking for Alaska is Green's first novel, and it is one of his best known.

Miles is an average teenage boy who feel no attachment to anyone at his school and is fascinated with memorizing famous people's last words. He talks his parents into letting him attend a boarding school where he hopes he will discover "the great perhaps." There he meets his roommate nicknamed the Colonial and a girl down the hall named Alaska Young. Miles quickly becomes infatuated with Alaska and her impulsive and sometimes dark personality.
This book, in true John Green fashion, is enjoyable and funny. Yet despite the teenage humor, the book is thought provoking and meaningful. This book is true to life. The characters are real teens, and they jump off the page at you. The book is beautiful and not overwhelmingly heavy. The ending passage of the book has been in my mind for a few days, and it is one of my favorite things I have read in a while. I would recommend this book to anyone, if you have never read any Green this is a great book to start with, although I feel that any one of his books would be a good place to start. I am beginning to understand the hype surrounding John Green and at the moment, he is my favorite new YA author. I look forward to reading his other books     

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Recently Read: The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I have heard great things about this book since it came out in 2005, but I have always been leery to read it because of the heavy subject matter. This book follows Liesel, a young girl who lives in Nazi Germany, but what makes this book different from any other book about Nazi Germany is that this story is narrated by death. This is one of the most memorable and unique books I have read in a long time.


 Liesel and her brother are sent to live with foster parents because their mother can not take care of them. On the journey to Himmel Street, where her foster parents live, Liesel's brother dies and must be berried in a town that the train stops at along the journey. At his funeral, Liesel sees the young boy who helps dig her brother's grave drop a book out of his pocket, and she takes it. This starts a love affair with books and words for Liesel, who can not read when she steals her first book. During her stay at Himmel Street her papa teaches her to read, and she learns just how much power words can have. 
This book is of course sad and serious, but it is so beautiful. The voice of death is rhythmic and beautiful. The book contains so much emotion and sadness, but it also contains enough small victories and everyday beauty that balances out the sad. This book would be great to listen to as an audio book if you like audio books, it has a poetic quality to it. I would love to study this book in my future classroom with students whenever a requirement requires a book about the Holocaust or Nazi Germany.
I would recommend this book to everyone. Don't let the heavy subject matter scare you away from reading it. The characters are so real and loveable, and the appreciation of words and books displayed through out the novel is a treat for book lovers. There were three scenes in particular that stuck out and that I believe will stick with me for a long time after reading this novel. If you have read this novel I would love to know which scenes stuck out to you.
Also, if you are interested in reading more books about the Holocaust I would recommend Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankel. This is written by a Holocaust survivor about the physiological phases a prison went through during their stay in a concentration camp and after liberation. Frankel is a very brilliant man, and this book was rather interesting to read, it offered a more personal look at the camps than some books that just offer numbers and statistics are able to offer.      

Friday, August 16, 2013

Recent Purchases and Good Deals

Just a little post about some books I picked up lately. I was lucky enough to find most of them at the Goodwill (where the books are four for 99 cents). I picked up Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, In Dubious Battle, and Slaughterhouse Five for less than a dollar. They look brand new. The other two, Looking for Alaska and Oscar Wilde's Wit and Wisdom, I added into my amazon order while ordering some books for the upcoming school semester. They were both a really good deal, and as luck would have it I needed to spend a couple more dollars to get free shipping :)

The other day I ordered from a new used book website. I will post about those purchases when they come in. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Recently Read: A Study in Scarlet

I read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet in two sittings. My mom and I have a mutual love of all things Sherlock Holmes especially in print and film. This was quite a quick read, which was welcome after finishing Shadow of Night which I reviewed here. This is one of the longer Sherlock stories, coming in at 120 pages in my version of the book.

This is the first appearance for Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson. I enjoyed reading this story, even though I already knew the premise of it from watching t.v. adaptations of the story. I plan to read many more Holmes stories once school is back in session and I find myself with less time to devote to reading for pleasure.
Sherlock Holmes is one of my all time favorite literary personalities. There is so much more to him then meets the eye, and some much more than what he wants people to see. The BBC series titled Sherlock is on constant repeat in my house, and I love every single episode. New episodes come out in November, and as you can imagine I am thoroughly excited. If you are looking for a more traditional rendition of the Holmes stories, I would suggest The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes staring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock (although I prefer to watch Benedict Cumberbatch solve mysteries, and if you know who he is, you will know why.)   
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock

I recommend this story, as well as all the other stories to everyone. If you like mysteries, these will not disappoint. If you are new to mysteries, this is a brilliant place to start.
On a side note, Andrew Lane has written a young adult series about a teenage Holmes getting his start on solving mysteries. I have read two out of the three books that are out in the series, and a fourth is set to release soon. This is a great series for lovers of Sherlock of all ages. The books offer some additional insight into the making of Sherlock's personality and offers reasons to explain why he is the way he is. The first book in the series is called Death Cloud.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Recently Read: Shadow of Night

I finished Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, which is the sequel to A Discovery of Witches which is reviewed here. This book is equally as large as the first one in the trilogy.

This book started off a little slow for me. As you know, Diana and Matthew were about to time walk to Elizabethan England at the end of the first novel and that is the setting for this novel. There are a lot of new characters introduced in the beginning of this novel, and it was a little difficult to keep their names straight, as well as who was a creature and what type of creature they were. There is a list at the end of the novel which lists characters and if they are a creature or not, which was helpful. After I got the characters down pat, I started to really enjoy the novel. Elizabethan England is not a very common setting for the novels I read, so I enjoyed the time period and the surroundings for the novel. The novel also offers small peeks at what is going on with Matthew and Diana's families in the present, and gives a lot of insight into Matthew's past as well as his family's past.
Many new characters are introduced in the novel which really added to the story. So much happens in this book, though some of the events feel unconnected to the overall plot of the book. There are a couple of twists through out the novel; it wasn't as predictable as I expected it to be. There are a lot of location changes which can complicate the story, but the ambiance was really great. I will defiantly be reading the third book in the trilogy when it comes out, and I recommend this book to anyone who read and liked the first novel. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Books I'm Dying to Purchase

Of Course my shelf is full of books that I have not read yet. Despite this fact in the back of my mind every time I step into a book store, I can't keep myself from pulling out my list of books I'm looking to buy that I keep on my phone and scanning the store for one. I thought I would pull a few off my list and share them.

Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey The first book in a trilogy about Marie Antoinette. I would also like to get a biography of Marie as well.

The Aviators Wife by Melanie Benjamin I plan on scooping this book up as soon as it is released in paper back. This is a fictional story about the wife of Charles Lindberg. I read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain a while ago, about the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love that the wives of recognized men are having their turn to be the focus of attention, which leads me to my next book...   

Z a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Anne Fowler I of course love Fitzgerald's works and find his real life to be fascinating, including his wife. I knew Zelda was a strong personality and I think this book will be an interesting escape into the world of the Fitzgerald's and those who surrounded them.

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh This is one book I am anxious to get my hands on. There are some truly beautiful book set copies of these letters that I would love to own someday. Van Gogh is my favorite artist and I find him to be such a compelling mind. Reading his letters are a priceless insight into his inspirations and thoughts.

Other books on my list include:

The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolfe
The Bronze Horsemen by Paullina Simons
The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Age of My Bookshelf

The other day, I decided to look through the classics section of my bookshelf to see if I had a book from every decade of the 20th century. I discovered that I don't; the majority of my classic novels were published before 1900 which really surprised me. I did put together a list of books from the 20th century that I own, or that I would like to own.

1900-1910 Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie 1904 now I know the book was not published until after 1910, but Peter made his first stage appearance in 1904. Since this is my favorite story of all time, I decided I could include him in the before 1910 category. I have spoken of my love for Peter before. I have a hard time explaining it, but every time I read or watch a version of Peter I cry like crazy, not because its sad; I just love it so much. I'm crazy, I know.

1910-1920 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce 1916 I picked this up at a garage sale this summer but have yet to read it. Although I am looking forward to it since I have not read a James Joyce novel and I know many people find him to be a genius writer.

1920-1930 The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald 1925 I of course own and love this novel. This is the 1920's wrapped up in a 194 page novel.  If you haven't read it, read it now!

1930-1940 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 1939 I read this novel for a high school class my senior year, and although it was not my favorite classic novel, I learned to appreciate it. If you find the 1930's particularly interesting, you may enjoy this book. I for one, can not seem to be interested in this time period for some reason. If you are looking to read a Steinbeck novel, I would suggest Of Mice and Men.

1940-1950 A Street Car Named Desire Tennessee Williams 1947 I have not read this, or seen the film version but I am interested in both.   

1950-1960 The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger 1951 I read the whole novel, except the last chapter when the copy I was reading mysteriously disappeared. It is still missing and I have no clue where it went. I have since bought another copy of the book, in hopes that my first copy would turn up shortly after but no luck. I really enjoyed this book, as many others do, and the mysterious disappearance of my copy before I could read the last chapter adds to the appreciation I have for this novel. I am looking forward to reading Salinger's other works.

1960-1970 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee 1960 This is another novel I read in high school for an English class. The story behind this novel, and the fact that it is Lee's only novel really makes the novel memorable for me. I think Scout is one of the most memorable literary characters ever created and she isn't even thirteen years old.

1970-1980 Tuck Everlasting Natalie Babbitt 1975 I was happy to rediscover this book on my shelf while looking for books from the 70's. I read this book quite a while ago and it is time for a reread. I love this novel. There is something so simple about it, yet it is so meaningful and thought provoking.

1980-1990 The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood 1985 This is another novel I have not read. but have been seeing it everywhere lately and have heard multiple people recommend it. The plot seems so weird and thought provoking to me. I am curious to see how this world works and what the author's message is.

1990-2000 Harry Potter and the Soccer's Stone J.K. Rowling 1998 Finally, we have the start of the Harry Potter series. I can not believe it has been fifteen years since Harry Potter first came out. I also can not believe I was only four when this book was released. I remember in fourth grade on the first day of school my teacher asked us to bring in our favorite book to share with the class. I brought in the second Potter book, and instantly became friends with another girl who also brought it in as her favorite. I am always wishing I could live to see what books that were published during my lifetime would be considered classics by future generations. I know that the Harry Potter serious will live forever and be read and cherished by many generations of children.