Friday, December 27, 2013

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014

I will be participating in the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge again this year. I always read historical fiction, but I don't always post my reviews to the challenge blog. I will try to do better this year! Anyway, here is the scoop on the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry:

The challenge runs from 1 January to 31 December 2014. Any kind of historical fiction is accepted (HF fantasy, HF young adult,...)
During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels: 

20th century reader - 2 books
Victorian reader - 5 books
Renaissance Reader - 10 books - I usually read at least 10 historical fiction books per year, so this is the level for me.
Medieval - 15 books
Ancient History - 25 books
Prehistoric - 50+ books

To join the challenge you only need to make a post about it, go to Historical Tapestry and add your link in Mr. Linky or just leave a link to your blog if you are not yet ready to post about it yet. If you don't have a blog you can just leave a comment that you are joining.
Happy Reading!

Back to the Classics Challenge 2014

This Challenge is hosted by Books and Chocolate - how could you go wrong with that?

I have been slacking on reading my Classics, so I thought I would participate in this challenge to get a nudge to read some. Here are the details of the challenge:

There will be six required categories that all participants must complete.  Everyone who reads and reviews six eligible books and writes a wrap-up post will automatically be entered into the drawing for an Amazon gift card for $30 (U.S) or a choice of book(s) from The Book Depository.
There will also be five optional categories for additional entries.  Participants who complete three of those (with corresponding posts) will also get an additional entry into the prize drawing;  those completing posts in all five categories will get another entry, for a total of three.  To receive the maximum of three entries, you would need to post eleven times.  

Here is the definition of a classic according to our hostess: "A classic is a book that has endured for some reason ; therefore, I am defining a classic as a book that was published at least 50 years ago.  Therefore, any book published after 1964 is ineligible." 
Here are the rest of the guidelines:

  • All books must be read in 2014.  Books started prior to January 1, 2014 are not eligible.  Reviews must be linked by December 31, 2014.
  • E-books and audiobooks are eligible!  Books can count for other challenges you may be working on.  However, books may NOT crossover categories within this challenge.  You may NOT count the same book twice for different categories in this challenge.  
  • If you do not have a blog, you may link your review from Goodreads or other publicly accessible online format.  
  • Please sign up for the challenge using the linky below BEFORE MARCH 1, 2014.  Please link to your sign-up announcement post (if possible/applicable).
  • You do not have to list your books prior to starting the challenge, but it is more fun that way :).  You can always change your list at any time.  You can read the books in any order (including mixing in the optional categories at any time).
  • You can decide to attempt the optional categories at any point (you can also bow out of the optional categories at any point as well).
  • Please identify the categories you've read in your wrap-up post so that I can easily add up your entries for the prize drawing! Adding links within the post would also be greatly appreciated. 
And finally. . . . The 2014 categories:
  1. A 20th Century Classic
  2. A 19th Century Classic
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author
  4. A Classic in Translation  If English is not your primary language, then books originally published in English are acceptable.  You could also read the book in its original language if you are willing and able to do so.
  5. A Classic About War  2014 will be the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.  Any book relating to a war is fine -- WWI, WWII, the French Revolution, the War of the Worlds -- your choice.
  6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You This can be any author whose works you have not read before.  It doesn't necessarily have to be an author you've never heard of.  
Optional Categories:
  1. An American Classic
  2. A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller 
  3. A Historical Fiction Classic.  This is any classic set at least 50 years before the time when it was written.  For example, Margaret Mitchell published Gone with the Wind 70 years after the end of the Civil War; therefore, it is considered a historical novel.  A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Letter are also historical novels.  However, older classics set during the period in which they were written are not considered historical; for example, the novels of Jane Austen.
  4. A Classic That's Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series.  Any period, any genre!  This is practically a free choice category.  However, it's a separate category than the required categories.
  5. Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4.  This should be some kind of posting reviewing the book read for the previous optional category above.  It can be any adaptation -- does not have to be adapted before 1964.  For example, if you chose Pride and Prejudice as your the optional classic above, you could review any adaptation -- 1940, 1980, 1995, 2005, etc. These two optional categories go together, but this must be a separate blog posting -- no fair just mentioning it in the book review!
And to clarify, you have to read different books for each category -- you can repeat authors or genres, but no fair using the same book multiple times within this challenge! The only book that you can repeat is in the movie/TV adaptation review.  
There you have it! There will be a list of possible choices over at Books and Chocolate, so go over there to sign up and look for the list. Good luck!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Very Different Challenge - Expand Your Horizons

The Push Your Boundaries Reading Challenge 2014
This Challenge will possibly make you uncomfortable - reading books that are out of your comfort zone! But it may open your eyes to something you might enjoy! You never know.
Here is my chart - I couldn't get it to line up in a table:
In My Zone: Debut Authors, YA Fiction/YA Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction, Time Travel/Historical Romance, Classics
Read On Occasion: Made Into A Movie, Urban Fantasy/Dystopian, Inspirational Fiction, Set Outside U.S./U.K./Canada, Fantasy, Literary Fiction                
A Bit Of A Stretch: Humor, Sci Fi, Historical Mystery, Memoir/Autobiography, Romantic Suspense, Translated                                   
Pushing It: Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal Fantasy, Poetry, Biography/History, Action/Adventure, A Play
Out Of My Comfort Zone: Horror, Political Nonfiction, Sports, War Novel, Book I am Intimidated By, Graphic Novel
Just For Fun: Book From Birth Year, Reread From Childhood, Short Stories, Food & Cookbooks, 500+ Pager, Banned Book                                        
There it is! I'm planning to track my reads on Pinterest as well. I have to set that up, so I will post about it when I have that done.
If you want to sign up for this challenge, go to Roni Loren Greetings From The Ranch.

The first 2014 Reading Challenge - Book to Broadway

This is a new challenge for me. It's all about books to musicals! The challenge is to read a book or play with a musical based on it. Then, you watch or listen to the musical! What could be more fun! The Book to Broadway Challenge is being hosted by Debz Bookshelf and you can sign up here.

Here are a few more details:

  • This doesn’t actually have a specific start or end time, unless it would be simpler to stick to January 2014 – December 2014. I’m not picky!
  • Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, fairy tales, and short stories all count.
  • I’m personally only going to be reading/watching things which have made it to Broadway or West End, mainly because it’s a lot harder to track down recordings/soundtracks of shows that were only ever off-Broadway or regional productions.
  • Each book DOES NOT count until you’ve seen/listened to the musical.
It doesn't look like there are any levels or anything - just read and watch/listen as many selections as you can! Sounds good!

Book Review: Comment Le Grinch A Volé Noël by Dr. Suess

Title: Comment Le Grinch A Volé Noël
Author: Dr. Seuss
Hardcover edition: 64 pages
Published: October 8, 2013 by Ulysses Press

from Goodreads:
Brilliant, lighthearted, and endearing, Dr. Seuss's timeless books have won over generation after generation. Even today when parents and teachers need a beginner book for a new reader, they turn to Dr. Seuss more than any other author. So what better book to help a child learn to read French than this widely popular holiday favorite.

Every holiday season children love to read about the Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small. He hates Whoville's holiday celebrations and plans to steal all the presents to ruin Christmas for everyone. To his astonishment, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning of the holiday. Comment le Grinch a volé Noël offers a true-to-the-author presentation of this classic.

Alleluialu's Review:
My daughter bought this for me for Christmas this year so I could read it IN FRENCH!!! It was so much fun! I love it!                  
I loved this book - obviously - and you can get your copy here. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book Review: The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson

Title: The Christmas Bus
Author: Melody Carlson
Hardcover: 176 pages
Published: October 1, 2006
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Company

from Goodreads:
The people of Christmas Valley always celebrate Christmas to the fullest extent. The mayor plays Santa, every business is holiday themed, and there's a nativity for the kids each Christmas Eve. This town knows Christmas. But this year nothing goes according to plan. Shepherd's Inn is full of strangers, Mad Myrtle is causing problems, and a young couple with a baby due any minute rolls in to the middle of town in their Partridge Family-style bus. It's hardly the holiday Christmas Valley wanted--but it may be just what they need. This charming novella is sure to become a new Christmas tradition for readers who love a great holiday story.

Alleluialu's Review

This book only has 176 pages, but it is definitely full of stories. As you read in the synopsis, Edith and Charles open their Bed & Breakfast to strangers for Christmas after learning that their children will not be coming home. Charles, the pastor of the local church, gives a sermon on practicing hospitality and remembering that you may be entertaining angels unawares. Along comes Myrtle out of nowhere - a crochety old woman who gets in everyone's face and certainly affects all the guests and townspeople. Then there is the young couple, Collin and Amy, in their hippie-style painted Christmas Bus. Amy is pregnant and about to give birth any day. That outcome is predictable. Actually, it's a Christmas book, so the outcome is predictable, but the way it comes about is interesting and entertaining. The characters have such distinct personalities and there are so many little side stories to read. This was a delightful book. I may have to look for one of the other 149 books Melody Carlson has written. Very well done!

I gave this book 5 stars. It was a very clean, charming Christmas read. You can get your copy from your local library or here.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Movie Review: A Dog Named Christmas

A Dog Named Christmas - About the Movie

When Todd, a developmentally-challenged 20 year-old with an affinity for animals, hears that the animal shelter is looking for families to foster a dog for Christmas, he’s eager to sign up.  But Todd's father George says “no adoptions” – even temporary ones – claiming he wants to protect Todd from disappointment.  Mary Ann, Todd's mother, knows better.  Something else is troubling George – something he doesn’t want to face.

With Mary Ann’s support, Todd’s persistence pays off.  He chooses a friendly yellow lab and names him “Christmas.”  Bringing Christmas home proves to be a life-changing event for the whole family, allowing Todd to show that he can care for the dog on his own, and inspiring George to love a new member of the family.

Stars Bruce Greenwood, Linda Emond & Noel Fisher.

Alleluialu's Review
This is the best Christmas movie I have seen so far this season. The story is unusual. The characters are well-played and inspiring. The actor who plays Todd is fantastic. You just fall in love with him. The summary really doesn't do the movie justice, so I will. It is the story of Todd who is challenged, but can work alongside his father on their farm feeding and taking care of the animals because it is what he loves to do. He hears about an "adopt-a-dog for Christmas" program on the radio and is determined to participate. He finally convinces his father, who had a dog when he was young whom he loved. That dog died while he was serving in Vietnam, but he found another one in one of the destroyed villages. When he got injured, the dog disappeared and that, along with losing his pet back home, broke his heart. He didn't want his son to have to go through that pain - or maybe he didn't want to go through the pain of losing another pet himself. Anyway, Todd convinced him to participate in the "adopt-a-dog for Christmas" program and they got a dog they named "Christmas." Then Todd felt bad for the other dogs - all 33 of them - that were left in the shelter. He singlehandedly found homes for those dogs for Christmas. He even called the television station to come out and do a story on it. This is only part of the story of the movie. It has depth to it and it really makes you feel good when it's over. I highly recommend it because I'm sure it will be shown again before Christmas comes.

I gave this movie 5 stars because it is excellent!

Movie Review: Trading Christmas

About the Movie - Debbie Macomber's Trading Christmas

Emily (Faith Ford) misses her daughter Heather (Emma Lahana), who is attending college in Boston. Since her father died, Heather is sensitive to her mom’s dependence on long-standing holiday traditions. This Christmas, Heather has planned a trip to Phoenix with her boyfriend, but tells her mother she is staying on campus to study.

After Emily arranges a house-swap with Charles (Tom Cavanagh), an English professor from Boston who wants Washington State’s solitude in order to finish his novel, Emily hops on a flight to Boston to surprise Heather for Christmas. Unaware of the house swap, Emily’s best friend, Faith (Gabrielle Miller) walks in on Charles at Emily’s house and in Boston, Ray, Charles’ brother (Gil Bellows) responds to a 911 call only to find Emily at Charles’ condo. Will Christmas travel calamities lead to cross-country romances? Or have there been one too many surprises already?

Alleluialu's Review
I have already watched this movie twice this season and liked it each time. I don't always like reading Debbie Macomber's books, but apparently when they make them into movies I like them a lot better. I don't know why that is, but oh well. This movie has one couple who meet and enjoy each other and you feel they deserve it because of all they have been through or missed. Another couple is the classic "I hate you, I hate you, I love you" scenario which is entertaining and fun. The third couple is a pair of young college students trying to escape together but ending up wanting to be with family and continue their traditions at Christmas. Watching, you could put yourself in to each of those couples and relate to what they were experiencing. It was a fun, heartwarming movie. Oh, and I also liked that, even though they could have, you never saw any of the couples getting in to bed together or anything racy. They did normal, everyday things. Refreshing!
I gave this movie 4 stars because I liked it, it was clean and funny, but I watched it twice because it was on. I wouldn't have searched it out - as a matter of fact, I didn't know the title until I looked it up on the Hallmark Channel website.

Book Review: The Shoe Box by Francine Rivers

Title: The Shoe Box
Author: Francine Rivers
Hardcover: 102 pages
Published: October 1, 1999
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

From Goodreads:

In this beautiful gift book, Francine Rivers tells a poignant Christmas story about a foster child, Timmy, and his very special shoe box. Includes special notes from the author about the story and her family's Christmas traditions and recipes.

Alleluialu's Review
This is another one of those little hardcover books I took out of our local library to read for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. Again, it was predictable but sweet - just the kind of book you want to read at Christmastime. The author wrote an introduction about how she came up with the idea for "The Shoe Box" and among the pages are little stories about how she remembers her mother whenever she makes chocolate chip cookies including the recipe! There are other little stories and recipes for apple pie and the fixings for turkey dinner; singing "The Messiah" and purchasing Nativity sets for every room in her house. I liked how the little stories were handwritten and the main story was typewritten. The illustrations were what looked like pencil drawings and they were beautiful. The book ends with the Nativity story from the Bible. A lovely Christmas book!

I gave this book 5 stars because it was a lovely Christmas story and book! You can get your copy at your local library or here or here from Amazon.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Review: Giovanni's Light by Phyllis Theroux

Title: Giovanni's Light
Author: Phyllis Theroux
Hardcover: 128 pages
Published: October 22, 2002 by Scribner

From Goodreads:
Ryland Falls wasn't paradise, but there was a certain storybook quality about the town that made visitors catch their breath. As in a book, the order of the stories never changed. On December first, the Chamber of Commerce always hung out the "Yuletide Greetings" banners, the plastic Santa Claus went back on the top of the firehouse roof, and grumpy Diane at Elwood's Market started wearing her set of imitation reindeer antlers. Yet on this particular Christmas, there were signs that the order of things would change. And when it did, the people in Ryland Falls never celebrated Christmas the same way again.

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in this inspiring story about the redeeming power of the imagination and the true nature of compassion. 
Alleluialu's Review:
I took this little book out of our local library with several other Christmas books to read for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. It is a good story about a town at the bottom of a mountain that learns to slow down and appreciate what they have and the gifts they have been given. It gave me a nice warm feeling when I finished it which is what you expect from a Christmas novel. Very good!

I gave this Christmas novel 5 stars and you can get your copy at your local library or here on Amazon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review: The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Title: The Bridge
Author:  Karen Kingsbury
Publisher: Pocket Books
Published: October 29, 2013 (first published January 1, 2012)
Paperback, 336 Pages

Description from Goodreads:
The dazzling bestseller- a powerful tale of Christmas miracles from America's #1 inspirational novelist...

Molly Allen lives alone in Portland, Oregon, but she left her heart in Tennessee with a man she adored in college, a man she forced herself to walk away from five years ago.

Nashville-based guitarist Ryan Kelly can still hear the voice of the girl he can't have but can never forget. Time only intensifies his memories of Molly especially of the happy hours they shared at The Bridge.

For three decades, Charlie and Donna Barton have kept the historic Franklin, Tennessee, bookstore afloat. But after a catastrophic flood, the bank pulls their lease, leaving Charlie despondent at The Bridge's demise. Driving through a blinding snowstorm, alone with his desperate thoughts, Charlie hits black ice and crashes.

Suddenly, in the face of tragedy, miracles and second chances begin to unfold for those whose lives have been touched by The Bridge.
Alleluialu's Review
I really liked this book. I cried at least 4 times while I was reading it. Of course it has a happy ending - I mean, it's a Christmas novel - don't they all have happy endings? Anyway, the idea of a bookstore where one could go and just hang out and read books to your boyfriend/girlfriend and become so involved with the owners that you were considered family is heartwarming. I would love to go there. To even go to a bookstore where the owners actually worked there and knew the books that they sold enough to make recommendations to their customers seems unusual. I love the way Charlie Barton kept his faith in God, loved his wife and loved books. I loved the relationship between Molly and Ryan, too. I just loved everything about this book. I have read some of Karen Kingsbury's books before and she always gets to my heart. Great book! Loved it!
You can get this book at Wal-Mart or through Amazon here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christmas Book Review: The Angel Doll by Jerry Bledsoe

Title: The Angel Doll: A Christmas Story
Author:  Jerry Bledsoe
Hardcover edition: 112 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: November 23, 1999

From Goodreads:

If even a small part of a child still lives within your heart, you can't help but be captivated by this deeply moving novella based on bestselling author Jerry Bledsoe's childhood memories.

Set in a North Carolina manufacturing town during the 1950s, it is the poignant story of two ten-year-old boys and their search for an angel doll, a search that turned into a lesson of love.

Every day Whitey Black reads The Littlest Angel to his sister Sandy, a four-year-old stricken with polio. Now she wants just one thing for Christmas: an angel doll. Unfortunately, in this small North Carolina town, no one has ever heard of such a thing. Nevertheless, Whitey Black and his best friend set out to find her one, at great cost and for even greater reward.

Along the way they learn much about sadness and heartbreak, but most important, they learn about the transformative power of love.

The Angel Doll is about childhood reaching out in later life and grabbing hold-never to be forgotten or remembered exactly as it was. Timeless and touching, The Angel Doll is sure to become a family favorite and a tradition for years to come.

Alleluialu's Review

Last Monday, I borrowed several Christmas books from my Library. This was one of them. It was short and sounded poignant. It was. It is the story of two little boys, age 10, who shared a paper route. One of the boys had a sister who had contracted polio and had an avid interest in angels. Most of all, she liked the story of "The Littlest Angel." Her brother and his friend looked all over their town for an angel doll for her for Christmas. Finally, her brother realized he could buy a regular doll and have it transformed into an angel doll by changing her dress and giving her wings and a halo. They asked one of their other friend's mother who had a sewing machine, if she could help them. Of course she said yes. I won't spoil the ending, but I will say that this book sends me back to a different time when life was simpler. There was real love in the boy for his sister and he just wanted to make her happy. The author never mentioned anything the boy wanted for Christmas, just that he wanted an angel doll for his sister. I also like the way all that happened affected the boys in their adult lives. This book does what you expect a Christmas book to do - it reminds you of love and the goodness of people. A nice start to my Christmas reading this year. 
You can get this book at your local library or here at

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas Movies - Pete's Christmas

Summary from the Hallmark Channel website:
At 14, Pete Kidder (Zachary Gordon) is sick of being the middle child in his family, always overlooked by his mother and father (Pamela Parker and Rick Roberts). Unlike his brothers, jock Jake (Wesley Morgan) and bookworm Kenny, (Peter DaCunha), Pete hasn't yet developed a distinct personality that sets him apart and he often feels left out. With the kids' grumpy grandfather (Bruce Dern) unexpectedly in town for Christmas, the pressure is on to make the day as great as Grandpa remembers with his late wife, but the holiday is filled with disastrous moments.

Just when things can't get any worse, Pete wakes up the next day and realizes he's reliving December 25th all over again. Stuck repeating the day over and over, Pete panics, but slowly realizes, with the help of his new friend and next door neighbor, Katie (Bailee Madison), that he can use his unique gift for good and give this Christmas day the do-over it deserves. Will Pete eventually have a holly jolly Christmas?

Alleluialu's Review
This movie started out like those other crazy reliving day-after-day-after-day movies - like "Groundhog Day" but with lots of sad things happening to Pete. I mean his parents forgot to buy his Christmas present! He lived through more days than I expected he would have to before he realized what he had to do. The part I liked the best was the time he spent with his grandfather. He said it was really great but his grandfather never remembered it the next day. That reminded me of when my Mother had altzheimer's disease and she didn't remember me. Sad, but in the movie the time they spent together was sweet. Pete found all kinds of things he could do to make it a great Christmas for many of the people around him. Another part I liked was when his father had that lightbulb moment about his father - Pete's grandfather. It was well-played. I felt happy when the movie was over - even though I probably shouldn't have been watching a Christmas movie on November 8th. I have decided I am going to watch as many Christmas movies as I can this year. This is number one! I'll give this movie:

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2013 & kickoff Read-a-thon

Finally! It's here! The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2013 starts November 22, 2013, and ends January 6, 2014. The rules and levels are pretty much the same as last year: crossovers are permitted AND encouraged, you must read CHRISTMAS novels, books about CHRISTMAS lore, CHRISTMAS short stories and poems, books about CHRISTMAS crafts, and **new this year** children's CHRISTMAS books!

The levels are:
Candy Cane - read 1 book
Mistletoe - read 2 to 4 books
Christmas Tree - read 5 or 6 books
Additional levels:
FaLaLaLaLa Films - watch Christmas movies - a few or a bunch
Visions of Sugar Plums - read books with your children!
The additional levels are optional, but you have to complete one or more of the first 3 levels. You can sign up for this challenge here!
The Christmas Spirit Read-a-Thon will be the kickoff event of the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge! It starts on Friday, November 22, 2013 and continues through Sunday, November 24, 2013. Details and sign-ups for the Read-a-Thon are on the Seasons of Reading blog, HERE!
I'm planning on starting out with the Mistletoe level. I know I have a few Christmas books around here that I didn't get to last year. Now if only I can find them. I've been noticing a lot of Christmas books on the shelves at Walmart, so I may have to venture out and buy a couple or head to the library. I can't wait to get started!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Title: Defending Jacob
Author: William Landay
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Edition: Nook book, 384 pages
Author's Website:

Summary from Goodreads:

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

Alleluia's Review

At last, a page-turner! There was something about this book. The author was very sneaky in giving you just enough to let you know SOMETHING was going to happen and you had to keep reading. When, in the first part of the book, the author writes that Laurie (the mother) defended Jacob even in the end - you knew SOMETHING. I didn't expect the ending, but I knew SOMETHING was going to happen. That, even when it seemed over, it wasn't over. The book was exciting and the characters got to me. My favorite character was Andy, the Dad. He was such a rock and so loyal to his family. Even though I probably should have connected with Laurie (the Mom), I didn't. She seemed very fragile to me. I don't enjoy detective fiction, but this seemed different. This was about a family with such unusual trials. It may be obvious to some, but I'm still not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt who was the guilty party. This was a great book! 

I read the Nook book edition. You can get it here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Title:  The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)

Author:  Samantha Shannon

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Release Date: August 20, 2013

Edition: Hardcover, UK, 452 pages

Summary from Goodreads:
It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Alleluialu's Review
I purchased this book after noticing that it was the premier selection for the Today Show Book Club. I read the summary and about the author and I was curious. The result? I've been waiting to read a book that is a page-turner and this book was definitely that. As I was reading it, thoughts of the City of Bones entered my head, but this is much better. It is on such a different plane - perhaps because of all the clairvoyancy. The main character is older, more independent and more streetwise than Clary. I can see the potential for several books in this series - I don't know about 7, but several at least. It just boggles my mind to think that the author is just 21. She is either very good or very lucky. The world she has created feels both old and new. Perhaps because it takes place in Oxford - very Old English, but the creatures that inhabit it are quite futuristic. Anyway, it is a very good book. I give it 5 stars. I notice that there is talk of a movie version which would be very exciting to watch.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Unfortunately, I give this book 2 of 5 stars - it was OK.

Hmmm...ordinarily I really enjoy reading Virginia Woolf. Well, admittedly I have only read a couple of her books, but I did enjoy the language in them. I love the way she uses words. However, this book was a bunch of nonsense, in my humble opinion. This quote sums it up: "(and if it is rambling talk, disconnected, trivial, dull, and sometimes unintelligible, it is the reader's fault for listening to a lady talking to herself; we only copy her words as she spoke them, adding in brackets which self in our opinion is speaking, but in this we may well be wrong)." I can't for the life of me figure out the value of this book and what makes it a classic. I will have to look up some analysis of it. I'm sorry, Virginia, but I didn't like it. I have been told I should read, "To the Lighthouse" so perhaps I will try that next.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Title:                Orphan Train
Author:            Christina Baker Kline
Publisher:        William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date:  April 2, 2013


Book Summary (from the novel website):     

Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by luck or chance.  Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?

As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.

Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship.

My Review:
This is the best book I have read for a while. I was surprised when I started reading the first page because I expected to be transported immediately to the train in the past, but I wasn’t. The setting was the present day in Maine! Molly was a teenager in the foster care system. Yes, her situation was a bit predictable, but it didn’t make you lose your interest in what would happen next. Vivian is a 90-year old rich woman who wants her attic cleaned out. The story jumps from when Vivian was a child and the present day. I liked that because the parts got closer together as you read. The things they found in the attic inspired memories and stories from the past. It was a very sad story; however, the strength that Vivian gained through all her hardships shaped her life. Molly experience the same types of things. They also realized that everything that happened had a reason and each event led to the next one.  Vivian’s past was very realistic and gave the reader an insight into that time. It sounds as though her experience as an orphan train rider was pretty typical. She had some very hard situations to manage, but she did it!


I recommend this book for anyone interested in historical fiction, the orphan train and young people overcoming the odds stacked against them. There was one incident where Vivian a.k.a. Dorothy was attacked and nearly raped, but as I said, every incident was connected and led to the next circumstance so I believe the author had to include it. Other than that, the book was quite clean. It was so good. There are some surprises, and I have to warn you, you will cry at the ending. I did.



Content: One incident of attempted rape; no foul language; there were stories of the children being beaten by their foster parents, but no first-hand violence. Some people took advantage of the free labor they got when they took in foster child or an orphan train rider.


Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble for my Nook Simple Touch.


The book is available here.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Days of Gold by Jude Deveraux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of how Edilean, Virginia, the town around which Jude Deveraux' Edilean series is centered, came to be. It starts out in Scotland where Angus McTern lives with his clan on land that used to belong to the McTerns until Angus' grandfather lost it gambling. Of course, the new owner is a good-for-nothing Englishman. His niece comes "visiting" and her uncle plans to give her to one of his cronies on her 18th birthday when she inherits trunks full of gold from her father. In turn, the crony will give the gold back to her uncle. Well, the girl - Edilean (sound familiar) - plans to escape with the gold to a man she thinks she is in love with, but it all goes wrong. Angus ends up rescuing her and traveling with her to America. I don't want to give everything away, but Edilean turns out to be a very feminist-type woman and fends for herself quite well after Angus leaves because he is being pursued by her uncle and the man she was supposed to marry. The story takes us to the frontier, to Connecticut to buy a fruit farm, and eventually to Williamsburg. I really enjoy reading Jude Deveraux' novels. They are exciting, amusing and the characters are true. I especially like her time travel novels, but this one was quite good as well.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Les MisérablesLes Misérables by Victor Hugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am done! Done with this wonderful book! When I began this journey, I wanted to find out more about the backstory of the characters in the musical and film version. I discovered so much more. Victor Hugo is officially my favorite author, well, at the moment anyway. Yes, some would say he goes on and on about things. He offers his opinions in various essays within the novel, but they are worded so well, you just can't simply skip over them. The first section of the book is about the Bishop and I believe every young man studying to be a priest should read it. The philosophy put forth is good. Love God, love your neighbor, see God in every person. It totally transformed Jean ValJean and it stayed with him his whole life. And Fantine...she suffered so much from circumstances that she couldn't control. I loved her character in the musical and the film, but it seemed such a small part. Reading the book made my heart go out to her even more. The story of Marius and Cosette is so precious as well as the relationship between ValJean and Cosette. The man died of a broken heart, but in the end it was a happy death because Cosette was there. I know these are the romantic things in the book, but those are the things I love the best. Hugo did an excellent job describing places and events, redescribing them, and analyzing those places and events as well as the tangents he went on. I, personally, could feel the times that he described, the happiness and sadness of the characters, Javert's frustration, Eponine's hopeless love, Thenardier's downright selfishness. By the way, how could Mother Thenardier just throw away her children? What a terrible woman. Anyway, if you have the time and the love of "Les Miserables" on the stage or on film, it would do you well to read this book. You will love every form of the story even more. I actually listened to the audiobook translated by Julie Rose and narrated by George Guidall. It was excellent.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The characters in this book were very entertaining, vivid and distinct. It was a true fairy tale. Gertrude, the American feminist, meets Blake, the English Duke. The two argue and love with passion. Gertrude finds her softer side and Blake discovers love is everything. He realizes he needs to connect with his children and let go some of the English traditions he has been raised to uphold. Yes, there was sex involved - not too explicit for which I am grateful. It was such a wonderful and exciting adventure that I was glad that it was over 500 pages on my iPhone. The wrap-up was so romantic, yet comical and new at the same time. Loved the characters - all of them - Holly Bush developed them so well I felt I was right there with them. And she kept things moving. There wasn't a page I would have skimmed. Good show, Ms. Bush!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent           The Queen's Dollmaker
by Christine Trent
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Queen's Dollmaker is classic historical fiction in my opinion. It includes lots of information about the French King Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette and their lives during the French Revolution. It is also filled with the adventures of a fictional character, Claudette Laurent, who survives a fire in Paris but is left orphaned and sails to England to seek a new life. Christine Trent does a great job developing her characters and making you believe they could actually have lived and done the things they did. Of course, Claudette interacting with the Queen of France is a bit unbelievable, but her adventures are so exciting, you want to believe it. I love that she established her own business and cared for and taught her two friends to be independent as well without giving up love. This book is definitely worth reading especially if you are a fan of historical fiction!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Weird SistersThe Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dr. Andreas, a professor and expert on Shakespeare, named his three daughters after three of Shakespeare's heroines: Rosalind from "As You Like It", Bianca from "The Taming of the Shrew" and Cordelia from "King Lear." The family is obsessed with books, which I loved, and watching television is forbidden - I'm good with that, too. Dr. Andreas dubbed them "The Weird Sisters" - also from Shakespeare. This is the story of how they come back to Barnwell as adults to care for their mother who had developed breast cancer. Rosalind is the older, stable one who takes care of everything and everyone. She is a professor at Barnwell along with her father and engaged to a wonderful man who has been given an opportunity in England. She has to decide whether to go or stay and whether her loved ones can survive without her. Bianca was fired from her job in New York City for stealing from the company and she is the wild one. Cordy has been all over just traveling around hobo-like and has come home pregnant - although she doesn't tell anyone right away. We learn a lot about the girls' childhood and watch them grow through their difficulties and become the women they are at the end of the book. I normally don't enjoy contemporary novels that much, but this one was interesting and I liked the way everything turned out - not all of it was as expected!

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Monday, May 27, 2013

by Michael Thomas Ford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although I got teased by my family, I rather liked this book. It was funny and the influx of famous (granted they are dead, or supposed to be) authors was amusing. The pace was good - there was always something else happening to further the story. It was usually outlandish which made it laughable. So it isn't a classic! It is a fun read and sometimes girls just want to have fun!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my book club's May selection. We wanted to read a classic and only one if us had read it before. I found it very interesting and it gave me a different perspective of life in Brooklyn in the early 1900's. it is remarkable how people managed to survive and even thrive in those conditions. The forward included in the version I read let me know that this work was actually the author's autobiography, but her publisher recommended having it published as fiction to sell more books. Having read that before I started the novel made it an entirely different story. I really liked Francie. She was so determined yet kind of innocent. When my daughter, the English major, read the cover of the book and asked what it was about, she said, "Is it about a tree?" I told her not really. There is a tree, but the story is more about Francie. "Then Francie is the tree?" she said. Leave it to an English major to come up with that without even reading the book! Yes, Francie was the tree. They tried to cut herdown and keep her from growing, but just like the tree that kept coming up through the cement, she kept trying and finding ways to survive. This is truly an Amefican classic and one everyone should read at least once.
The Classics Club Spin Number is 6!

That means I get to read "Orlando" by Virginia Woolf. I've been wanting to read that book, so I'm ordering it today!

What is book #6 on your list?

Friday, May 17, 2013

It’s time for another Classics Spin for any who are interested. What is the spin?

It’s easy. At your blog, by next Monday, May 20, list your choice of any twenty books you’ve left to read from your Classics Club list – in a separate post.

This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books in May & June. (Details follow.) So, try to challenge yourself. For example, you could list five Classics Club books you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)

Next Monday, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by July 1. We’ll have a check in post for July, to see who made it the whole way and finished the spin book.

Do you have that?

  • Go to your blog.
  • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
  • Try to challenge yourself: list five you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)
  • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog by next Monday.
  • Monday morning, we’ll announce a number from 1-20. Go to the list of twenty books you posted, and select the book that corresponds to the number we announce.
  • The challenge is to read that book by July 1, even if it’s an icky one you dread reading! (No fair not listing any scary ones!)
Here's my list:

Five books I've been looking forward to reading:

1. A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
2. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
3. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
6. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
7. Armadale by Wilkie Collins
8. Animal Farm by George Orwell
9. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
10. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Every 5th unread book on my list:

11. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
12. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
13. Agnes Grey by Ann Bronte
14. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Burns
15. The Cantebury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
16. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
17. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
18. Birdsong by Sebastian Foulks
19. Daisy Miller by Henry James
20. Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis

Okay, I'm going with that. We'll see what Monday brings.