Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: The Girl With No Name by Marina Chapman


Title: The Girl With No Name
Author: Marina Chapman
Hardcover - 256 pages
Published: April 1, 2013 by Pegasus

from Goodreads: 
The poignant story of a girl who overcomes unique hardship and deprivation - growing up with a troop of capuchin monkeys - to find ultimate redemption.

In 1954, in a remote mountain village in South America, a little girl was abducted. She was four years old. Marina Chapman was stolen from her housing estate and then abandoned deep in the Colombian jungle. That she survived is a miracle. Two days later, half-drugged, terrified, and starving, she came upon a troop of capuchin monkeys. Acting entirely on instinct, she tried to do what they did: she ate what they ate and copied their actions, and little by little, learned to fend for herself.

So begins the story of her five years among the monkeys, during which time she gradually became feral; she lost the ability to speak, lost all inhibition, lost any real sense of being human, replacing the structure of human society with the social mores of her new simian family. But society was eventually to reclaim her. At age ten she was discovered by a pair of hunters who took her to the lawless Colombian city of Cucuta where, in exchange for a parrot, they sold her to a brothel. When she learned that she was to be groomed for prostitution, she made her plans to escape. But her adventure wasn’t over yet...

In the vein of "Slumdog Millionaire" and "City of God," this rousing story of a lost child who overcomes the dangers of the wild and the brutality of the streets to finally reclaim her life will astonish readers everywhere.

Alleluialu's Review:
This was our book club's November selection. It is the story of a little girl of 4 who was kidnapped from her backyard, then abandoned in the jungle of Colombia. We don't ever learn why she was abandoned, just that she was. Knowing that this is a true story, I empathized with her right away. She was obviously very bright to be able to survive and not just sit on the ground, cry and die. I was transported to the jungle with her, dealing with fear, creepy crawly things, hunger and loneliness. Her story is amazing, insightful, and so sad that she had to go through all that she did. She kept her innate goodness though, even though it was hidden when she had to survive on the streets. I like her. She is definitely a hero of mine. I am curious to read the sequel. I am sure she used all she learned from the monkeys in raising her own family.

I gave this book 5 Notes - A Symphony! This book is excellent, I didn't want it to end. In fact, I am anxious to read the sequel. I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble and you can, too, here, or from Amazon here. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

It's my favorite time of year - Christmas!!! But I'm not starting to read Christmas books until the day after Thanksgiving!

I do this challenge every year! This year it runs from November 24, 2014 to January 6, 2015. Crossover with other challenges is permitted and, in fact, encouraged. Books read must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and for the first time...a children's Christmas books level!

Here are the levels:

Candy Cane - Read 1 book
Mistletoe - Read 2-4 books
Christmas Tree - Read 5 or 6 books!

*Additional levels:

Fa La La La Films - watch a bunch or a few Christmas movies - it's up to you!
Visions of Sugar Plums - read Christmas books with your children and share what you read

*The additional levels are optional. You must complete one of the main levels above.

If you love Christmas like I do, you should pop over to The Christmas Spirit blog and sign up for this challenge! There's also a Christmas Spirit Read-a-thon that runs from November 24 to November 30. You can sign up for that at Seasons of Reading.

Oh, I almost forgot! I am signing up for the Mistletoe level. I may get to the Christmas Tree level, but I think I will start with Mistletoe. BUT, I'm not starting to read Christmas books or do anything Christmas-y until the day after Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: Timebound by Rysa Walker

Title: Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1)

18108877Author: Rysa Walker
Kindle edition: 366 pages
Published: January 1, 2014 by Skyscape
 (originally published Sept. 15, 2012)
Original Title: Time's Twisted Arrow
Setting: Chicago, IL, USA
Literary Awards: Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Young Adult Fiction & Grand Prize Overall Winner 2013

from Goodreads: 

When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?

Alleluialu's Review:

I read this book as our book club's October selection. I had never heard of Rysa Walker or the Timebound series. I really enjoyed this book. It may be hard for some people to keep things straight with the different time lines, but then it was difficult for the characters at times, too. I like Ms. Walker's style. I didn't feel as though I was reading a book for teenagers which I sometimes feel when reading young adult books. The characters were very believable and it felt as though I were there with Kate on her adventures. I liked the fact that I could sense the feelings the characters had for each other, but sexual interactions were not required. The novel moved along well and definitely held my interest. In fact, on the next page, I believe I can purchase the next book in the series, and I am going to do that! If you enjoy time travel, I am sure you are going to like this book.

I rated this book 5 Notes - A Symphony - This book is excellent! I didn't want it to end! That is absolutely how I felt. I wanted to get the next book right away. Luckily it is available! If you want to read Timebound, you can get a copy at your local library, or a Kindle copy from Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Book Review: Essence by A. L. Waddington

19279000Title: Essence (The Eve series, #1)

Author: A. L. Waddington
Paperback: 308 pages
Published: January 15, 2014
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing

from Goodreads:
Jocelyn Timmons does not believe she is anything special — just an ordinary high school senior, living an ordinary life full of school-work, volleyball and friends. She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

Jackson Chandler moved in to the house across the street. His dark wavy hair, green eyes and charismatic personality draws everyone to him. Everyone, but Jocelyn.

Whenever Jackson gets near Jocelyn she feels ill and dizzy. When he touches her, she blacks out and has visions of another life, in another time. As the odd hallucinations evolve and become clearer, she feels a strong pull towards the people she sees there. Frightened, she watches her once stable life begin to crumble around her and she begins to question her own sanity.

Could it be possible that these episodes are actually her own memories of a life she is living somehow, somewhere, some-when? Maybe this is time-travel or some other paranormal mysticism? Our minds often wander, but can our souls?

Alleluialu's Review
I was asked by the author to review this book and I am glad I agreed. I am a fan of time travel, but this is no ordinary time travel. I don't want to give anything away, but the concept explored in this story is new and interesting. Jocelyn is a normal teenager, in her words "nothing special". Then she meets Jackson who moves in across the street and she is transported back to another time. It's as if she is dreaming, but it is very real, and Jackson is there, too. As you read this story, and if you are a time travel fan, you are simultaneously reading and trying to figure out how the time travel occurs and why. You have to wait until very near the end to get any answers, but of course not all of them. 

I enjoyed reading this book and I am interested to read the others in the series. I don't understand the relevance of what happened to Olivia in the past has on the story, but that may be explored in future volumes. It seemed as though Jocelyn and Jackson were spending a lot of time dealing with that issue rather than expanding their story. The other criticism I have (and I am not an author, just a reader) is that the ending was very abrupt. It just stopped. Yes, it left me wondering what would happen next, but it didn't lead me anywhere. Luckily, there were a few pages of the next in the series offered right after the ending, so I could bridge that way. 

I think teens and young adults will enjoy this series because it will be relevant to them. It is refreshing that the main characters are not vampires or witches or werewolves, they are just humans that have inherited a very special gift. To find out what Jocelyn will do with her gift, we have to wait for the next in the series.

I have given this book 4 Notes - A Concerto. I really liked the book - you should go find it and read it. You can get your copy at Amazon here OR Barnes & Noble here

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (a re-read)


Title: Outlander (Outlander #1)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Hardcover edition, 627 pages
Published: June 1, 1991 by Delacorte Press
Setting: Scotland 1743
Literary Awards: RITA Award by Romance Writers of America for Best Romance (1992), Puddly Award for Romance (2001), BBC Big Read for Best Loved Novel (2003)

from Goodreads:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. 

Alleluialu's Review

I read this series when it was first published and decided to re-read it since the television series was beginning. I am glad I did. There were things I didn't remember and things I did remember and loved reading again. I read a comment that there was too much graphic sex and I did notice that. I usually object to that kind of thing. As I was reading along, I decided that I didn't want to watch the TV series with my family - that would be embarrassing. They actually included more than was written in the first episode. All that considered, I did really enjoy reading this book again and I am going to continue with the series because my perspective is different than when I originally read it and I don't need to wait for the next volume to be written! 

Considering time travel historical romance is one of my favorite genres, I had to give this novel 5 stars - A Symphony: This book is excellent. I didn't want it to end. I had originally purchased the book in 1991, eventually donated it to my local library, and borrowed it again to read it this time. You can borrow it from your library or purchase the Kindle edition from Amazon here, the paperback edition from Barnes & Noble here, and the paperback edition from Books-a-Million here

Friday, August 1, 2014

Book Review: Six Strings by Jen Sanya Williamson


Title: Six Strings (Volume 1)
Author: Jen Sanya Williamson
Paperback: 204 pages
Published: June 2014 by Booktrope

from Goodreads: 

Riley Witt is running out of time.

Battling Alzheimer’s disease, Riley’s grandmother Mary suffers from memory loss, mood swings, and a tendency to wander off.

As senior year approaches, Riley has to face the reality that the one person she depends on most is slowly fading. Making matters worse, when Mary does remember the past, she tells tales of time travel and visions. As Mary’s version of the past gets more confused, Riley knows they are running out of time together.

But when Riley discovers a guitar belonging to a famous rock star at Mary’s house, the truth behind the crazy tales finally comes out.

SIX STRINGS tells the story of Riley’s journey back to 1973 where she enters a world of music, long-lost family, and first love. Her adventure is all about discovering her past, understanding her present, and figuring out how to step into her future.

Alleluialu's Review: 

I actually finished this book a couple of days ago, but had no Internet connection to write a review. First of all, I am a big fan of time travel. I have read many time travel romance novels and a few time travel novels that we're not romances. This novel is in the latter category. Riley is on a quest to use the gift she inherited to discover things about herself and the people closest to her. It gives her a chance to experience her grandmother when she was not under the influence of Altzheimer's disease. Since my own mother had Altzheimer's, I can appreciate the gift that that is. I think this is going to be a wonderful series. I love that there is music involved and that Riley is finding out just how much of a musician she is and where THAT gift came from. The story keeps moving. It doesn't drag at all. The characters are believable even though time travel may not be to some. It's a great story - I didn't want to put it down. I read it in just a few days. Excellent start to the series. When will the next one be finished?

I gave this book 5 Notes! - A Symphony! - This book is excellent! I didn't want it to end. 
How appropriate for a book about musicians!

Anyway, I received my e-book from the author, but you can get a Kindle edition OR a paperback from here; a paperback or Nook edition from Barnes & Noble here; or a paperback edition from Books-a-Million here

Enjoy it! I can't wait for Volume 2!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde


Title: An Ideal Husband
Author: Oscar Wilde
Published: July 1, 1999 by Penguin Books (first published 1895)
Setting: London, England UK

from Goodreads: 

A dazzling blend of farce and morality, An Ideal Husband explores human frailty and social hypocrisy. Sir Robert Chilton's secret is discovered and exposed: he is accused of having exploited government secrets for his own gain early in his political career. With this revelation from Mrs. Cheveley comes the threat of blackmail and the ruin of Sir Robert's career. Yet in order to be a successful blackmailer, one's own reputation must be beyond reproach. 

Alleluialu's Review:

I read this selection for the "Push Your Boundaries" reading challenge. One of the categories was "A Play" and I had read "The Importance of Being Earnest," so I thought I might like this play by Oscar Wilde. I also read it to complete selections spelling out my name and other challenges. It was amusing. Characters were mistaken for one another, there were villians - female ones, and heroines, awkward relationships between fathers and sons, and all the things that happened in English society in 1895. Reading a play was a bit different than a book with chapters because you read Acts and they are much longer. After a while, I hardly noticed that I was reading a play, the action just took place in my head just as with any other book. I enjoyed it very much. 

I gave this selection 4 notes - A Concerto! I really liked this book. You should go find it and read it. You could borrow it from your local library, get it here from here from Barnes & Noble, or here from Books-a-Million. Enjoy! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

5107Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Paperback: 277 pages
Published: January 30, 2001 
First Published: 1951
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Setting: New York City 1949 & Agerstown, PA 1949
Literary Awards: National Book Awards Nominee for Fiction (1952); Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time Fave (2010)  

from Goodreads:

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

Alleluialu's Review:

The first time I tried to read this book - many years ago - I didn't like it at all. Then my current book club chose it for our July selection. Hmmm...what to do... I decided to give it another go. And it wasn't bad. Yes, Holden used language I didn't like, but it wasn't that bad. He used "goddam" a lot! And he repeated phrases as though he was trying to convince the reader that what he said was true, he really did (like that). Anyway, I kind of liked him by the end of the book. He seemed as though he wanted to do the right thing most of the time, but he was so depressed that he couldn't stick with anything for very long. He went from one boarding school to another because he didn't really care about getting an education or anything really. He did seem to make an impression on his English teachers though. The story is being told as he reflects on things that happened in the past while he is in a place where he can get some rest. It begins as he is kicked out of another school, Pencey. He visits his English teacher, has a fight with his roommate, then decides to take off and go to New York until his Christmas vacation actually starts instead of telling his parents to come get him. Most of the book is about his adventures and misadventures during those few days. He books a hotel room, goes to bars, tries to hook up with a prostitute, gets beat up, calls old girlfriends, visits yet another past English teacher, and finally sneaks in to see his sister. Apparently he is getting sick because he passes out a couple of times. After the last time, the reader is jolted forward to the resting place again. It is near his brother who is a writer and lives in Hollywood. He tells his brother his stories, hence the book. This book is a classic. Some people question that, but I offer this quote as my opinion on why this book is valuable. It was said to Holden by one of his English teachers. 

“Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them – if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.” 

So, that's it. I didn't love the book, but I do think it was worth reading. 

I gave it an Arpeggio - 3 notes! If you want to read "The Catcher in the Rye" you can get it at your local library or here from Amazon or here from Barnes & Noble. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Book Review: La Paloma Encuentra Un Perro Caliente by Mo Willems


Title: La Paloma encuentra un perro caliente!
Author: Mo Willems
Paperback: 40 pages
Published: April 19, 2004
By: Disney-Hyperion
Language: Spanish
Series: Pigeon
Literary Awards: Golden Archer Award for Primary (2008)

from Goodreads:
Pigeon's back! And he's found un perro caliente! But a hungry (and very sly) duckling enters the scene and wants a bite of the hot dog. Who will be the more clever bird?For the first time, Mo Willems's New York Times best-selling The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! is available in Spanish for a new group of kids to fall in love with.

About Mo Willems:

#1 New York Times Bestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems is best known for his Caldecott Honor winning picture books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary tale.

In addition to such picture books as Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Edwina the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct, and Time to Pee, Mo has created the Elephant and Piggie books, a series of early readers, and published You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons, an annotated cartoon journal sketched during a year-long voyage around the world in 1990-91.

The New York Times Book Review called Mo “the biggest new talent to emerge thus far in the 00's."

Mo’s work books have been translated into a myriad of languages, spawned animated shorts and theatrical musical productions, and his illustrations, wire sculpture, and carved ceramics have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the nation.

Mo began his career as a writer and animator for television, garnering 6 Emmy awards for his writing on Sesame Street, creating Nickelodeon's The Off-Beats, Cartoon Network’s Sheep in the Big City and head-writing Codename: Kids Next Door.

He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his family.

Alleluialu's Review:

My daughter sent this book to me as a reward for practicing my Spanish for 30 days. It is GREAT! I had to look up some words, but I got the overall meaning and I agree, "Un perro caliente es una celebracion en un panecillo! Children's books are a great way to review the Spanish you learned in high school and haven't used for...hmmm...many years.

Yes! I gave this book 5 stars! If you don't have a daughter who will buy this book for you, you can get your copy here at Amazon and here at Barnes & Noble. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Paperback: 258 pages
Published: February 21, 2006
By: Random House
First Published: June 28, 2004
Setting: Hunan, China
Literary Awards: Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee 2008

from Goodreads:

In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, "old same," in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she's painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect on their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Alleluialu's review:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is the story of two women, Lily and Snow Flower, matched at a very young age by various signs that are significant to the Chinese people. They were to be each other's "laotong" which meant they would be closer to each other than anyone else. Lisa See puts us in the women's chamber and lets us experience the girls' joy at being together and their fear and pain at foot-binding as well as many other experiences throughout their lives. I really felt as though I was there experiencing those things with them. The story took a very logical, chronological path and See taught us many things about the Chinese culture and the relationships between women and how they were treated by men and older women. There were many rules to follow. Snow Flower longed to be more independent while Lily just tried to do the right thing so people would love her. There were twists and turns in their relationship and the story that I don't want to give away, but through the story I leaned toward identifying with Lily. Her life was ordered by the rules of their culture, but in some situations she followed the advice of her mother-in-law: "Obey, obey, obey, then do what you want." That's the kind of advice I would give my own daughters. Do what is expected of you to take care of your family, but make sure there are times that you can do what you want. The love between Snow Flower and Lily was inspiring. It survived over their lives despite differences in their circumstances and misunderstandings. It was a very good book and I am glad to have read it.
I gave this book 5 stars. It was a good story and taught me about the Chinese culture and especially about Chinese women and their relationships. I received this book from a friend, but you can get your copy from your local library or here from Amazon or here from Barnes & Noble.