It’s Monday! What are YOU Reading?

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Whew, another Monday down. This Monday marks a milestone for me, my first It’s Monday! What are you reading? post. It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme that showcases different blogs where you can find even more book reviews and recommendations sponsored by Shelia at bookjourney.wordpress.com.  

Whew, what a week. I have been kind of silent this past week on the blogsphere so I am going to do a couple things here.

My reading has been going a bit slow. I finally finished “The Wind in he Willows” after months of periodic listening to multiple narrators. It was an OK book, not a classic I would really recommend. Although it is geared towards children, and I can see them happy at learning about animals being people and all that jazz, a lot of it just dragged on with kind of annoying characters. If you read my review, you could see I absolutely disliked the Toad. Of course, there needed to be one entitled animal, right? Just picture him as Bernie Madoff, ripping people off, fooling them, and getting their way. That may be a tad harsh, but hey. It’s my blog. 🙂

I had a sleepover at my best friend’s apartment where we watched Warm Bodies. As I did not have time to write a review of it this week, I am going to now.

                                                   Warm Bodies (2013) Poster oh yes he is!

If you haven’t watched Warm Bodies, it is a hysterical take on zombies. Based on the book Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, the main “character” is R, a recovering zombie. Now, why is he in recovery, you may ask. Because he is getting warmer! Warmer! Like human. Oh my word! After a raid, R spots a girl that he decides to “rescue” in a nice zombie/human way. Slowly, his body and mind start getting attuned to each other.

R is played Nicholas Hoult. In case you don’t know who he is, you should check him out! He was the little boy in About a Boy with Hugh Grant. And, recently, broke up with Jennifer Lawrence and stars as Hank (the beast) in the X-men revamped movies. This role was perfect for him. He still looked kind of cute, struggling to walk and looking like half death. Because he is a zombie, a lot of his dialogue is spoken coming from his mind, not actual words out of his mouth. Because of that, Hoult’s narration was great. It was dry, with so much humor. 

As you guessed it, though, there is a girl who just makes him “warm”. Teresa Palmer played Julie, one of the few humans not infected and a recruit to kill the zombies. Although I never read the book, I thought she was great for the part. I may be biased, since I loved her in the movie I am Number 4. She plays Jane Doe (number 6). 

I expected cheesiness from this film. C’mon with a poster like this Warm Bodies (2013) Poster how can you really take it seriously? You can’t. But, you should. It was great fun. Just Hoult’s commentary alone is worth spending the hour and a half. I may not run to the bookstore to buy the book, but I recommend the movie if anything.

And, if you are in fact interested in the book, I just noticed on goodreads.com it’s part of a series. Yay for you series lovers. I can imagine it would go by quick. It just isn’t your typical zombie movie and that alone makes me happy. There are too many out there now, but go see Warm Bodies if that is your only one. It is not serious and life threatening like World War Z. It really plays (and reads I would imagine) as a great satire about the new zombie obsession our culture has developed.

Starting tomorrow, I will be going to LA and Disneyland, coming home bright early on Sunday. Hopefully, there will be some new reviews. A six hour flight? Six hours both ways? Yeah, lots of reading going on there. Currently, I am still reading Havisham, getting closer and more into the end. Still not going to be one of my favorites if the year, but I can see Great Expectation fans loving it. I am also listening to The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Sadly, Karen Savage is not the reader. Instead, I am back to listening to a recording of new people each chapter. The woman speaking in chapter three is terrible. She sounds like a big smoker.

Lastly, I am reading Ruby Red (The Ruby Red Triology #1) by Kerstin Gier  on my nook. I am excited about this one. The cover is so pretty. Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy, #1) 

Another plus, it is about time travel throughout all eras and secret societies. Two of my favorite things. I got the book for under $2.99 a couple of months ago. I am finally sitting down to reading it and I love it! Check it out if you enjoy YA, YA Fantasy, time travel, and secret societies. I will hopefully have a review of that book for sure.

I think I am set. Got all three types in action. Plus, a classic, a classic retelling, and YA Fantasy. Yeah, I’m set. And well-rounded to boot!

Happy (almost dinner time) Monday! And good luck with your reading this week. I am looking forward to my trip and sharing more reviews with you.

Also, on a non-literary note, if you want to see a good movie, see Sofia Coppola’s new Movie The Bling Ring with Emma Watson. It is great!

There is indeed Wind in the Willows: The Wind in the Willows (audio) book review

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The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in Willows

By Kenneth Grahame

First published in 1908

Audio book from librivox recording

Two Stars 

       First off, I would like to do a happy dance. I finished it, finally!

The Wind in the Willows is penned in lyrical prose, the adventures and misadventures of the book’s intrepid quartet of heroes—Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and, of course, the incorrigible Toad—raise fantasy to the level of myth. The animals’ world embodies the author’s wry, whimsical, and unfailingly inventive imagination. It is a world that succeeding generations of both adult and young readers have found irresistible. But why say more? To use the words of the estimable Mr. Toad himself: “Travel, change, interest, excitement!…Come inside.

Simply put, this story is an imaginative telling of talking animals. With all the animals, known only as their species name, live a life of free thinking with human behaviors. This novel is a child’s classic. A book often seen in a child’s library. Maybe I am getting older, or too cynical, but this story didn’t do it to me.

 Toad was a frustrating character from the beginning. Maybe that was Grahame’s intention, and if so he succeeded in me despising him as a character and with no sympathy towards this entitled animal prancing around the world with barely any remorse towards the havoc he wrecked.There were more animals that were more that I could stand, but none that made a lasting impression.

Since I listened to this book on my Itouch over an extended period of time, I became apathetic and not very attentive as I have been with other audio books I chose to listen to. As this was a librivox recording, all narrators were volunteers. The narrators changed ever chapter, both a positive and negative for me. Some of the narrators were decent. Mostly, the male narrators I felt for some reason. But as the narrators change, so does my attention span. If one narrator doesn’t stay put, why should I? Just made me less interested.

I understand this novel may be geared towards children, and there is a Disneyland ride based on this book, I had hopes. I loved The Secret Garden that was just as much geared towards children. Narration really is an important part of an audio book. I am realizing that now. Would touching and reading the book change my perspective, not sure. 

If you read or listened to this, let me know what you thought? A lot of my goodreads friends rated it high. Am I missing something?

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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If you haven’t checked out book journey’s blog, you should. Every Monday, when you visit her blog, check out as many bloggers as you can. And comment!! You can win a little prize. You like prizes, right? I know I do. Please support us bloggers.

This week felt a little busy. I happily got reunited with audio books. The Secret Garden was fantastic. I enjoyed reading it as I was traveling into the city back and forth on Thursday. It was a nice distraction. I hate commuting. For a little bit of fun, it takes over an hour on a terrible and immensely cold bus. I don’t know if anyone is from the Metro area, but Port Authority is a nightmare. Karen Savage made it all better. Unfortunately I can’t avoid it. If only I knew how to transport myself in a little bubble or jet. It would be so much easier. But, alas, I can’t. I can’t even read on the bus with my motion sickness. So, audio books will definitely be put into use.

I have been trying to read Havisham by Ronald Frame. I guess me and Great Expectations are not meant to be. It is not the writing per se, but just maybe not my cup of tea. I just don’t connect. It is a tad boring, with not much going on. I will try, and maybe try again. With so many books to read, I am thinking if slightly moving on.  I have no idea what I want to read next. Do I go back to my Nook? Choose the many many books I got from BEA? So many choices.

I am doubting my ability to read books as I haven’t gotten to read more than one a week. I used to try to read two. It has just been taking too long. If only I knew.

This week, I am hoping to add a few new things to my blog. I have added a reading list, with direct links on goodreads if the title jumps at you. My weakness for choosing books is always the title first. Not necessarily the author.

Well, I wish you a happy week of reading. And, look out for more posts. 🙂

Not a Secret Anymore: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett Review

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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Published in 1911

Five Stars

The other day I decided to give audio books a second chance. Last year I downloaded the audiobook app for my Itouch. It was only 99 cents for over 20,000 books. Did I realize the books were only classics? No, not at first. As I enjoy classics, I didn’t mind at all. But, after each one, I just wasn’t satisfied with the experience. The narrator changed, mostly, after each chapter. I lost all faith. I don’t have money for current audio books, so I stopped downloading them, or giving them a try.

The book I decided to try first was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

A ten-year-old disagreeable and self-centered little girl orphan Mary,  comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors where she discovers  her equally disagreeable invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.

The garden, discovered by Mistress Mary, laid untouched for ten years, the same time her cousin was born and his mother died giving birth to him. Her cousin Colin’s father locked the garden up once his wife died-the garden was her favorite place to be. Mary decides to bring new life to the garden with her new friend, Dickon the animal whisperer and the best gardener at the young age of twelve.   What enfolds is a great story where Colin and Mary become each other’s savior. The garden healing them all (with magic as Colin repeatedly and joyfully said).

I looked forward to each chapter, hanging on to every word. The book was a great choice to rediscover audio books. Narrated by Karen Savage, the novel moved fast and charmingly.  Her voices were very much enjoyable. Savage did a great accent when each character entered the page. Dickon’s Yorkshire dialect was represented excellently. Mary’s was proper, with Colin’s voice slightly obnoxious, and superior. I felt every bit of the joy Savage felt. She embodied the story for me. I can’t picture another narrator that could do this great classic justice.

If you haven’t read this classic children’s book, you should!

 

 

Move over paper: E-books and Audio books

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These days, even with books still in print, there are too many different ways to read. I never grew up with e-books, or audio books quite frankly. Now, these two formats are hard to avoid. They are cheap, convenient, and widely available. Of course bookstores are still around; children running around with new toys, or trying to listen to story time; students taking all the available seats, and the floor, too!; adults stroll; with cafes in store, people settle and read magazines. Then, there are advertisements for Nook books, Kobo books at independent bookstores like the one I once worked at. You can browse the limited audio book sections.

 

 

More people are listening to audio books. I am constantly seeing e-readers. I admit I have one, but the power dwindles more than I turn the fake pages. The one format I am having trouble grasping is audio books.

I admit to getting joy of finding great and cheap reads on my Nook. For each gift card, I stretch it out by only getting $2.99 or less books. I have learned to stay away from free, google copied classics. I rather buy a new book than buy it on my Nook. I don’t like that the prices don’t differ as much. You would think with ink being limited, trees untouched, the price would be lower. But, audio books, I have passed on.

I have only read a few audio books. Often though, you will hear my music seeping from my headphones rather than hearing unfamiliar voices speaking Dickenese, Austenian, or any other dialect. When I clean, which isn’t too often, I still choose music. Why, because I don’t want to not hear a novel. I can’t concentrate and focus on the words being spoken. I try to listen to The Wind in the Willows, but it has taken me around six months, or so, to reach chapter nine. What happened during the book, I just don’t know. I can’t quite remember because I don’t think my brain was really listening.

But, I have discovered my problem, narrators! I am listening to The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and absolutely love the narrator! I am enjoying it so much I forget I am listening to it, instead I feel present with the narrator. Other works I have listened to, I just didn’t like the voice speaking to me. When I listened to Peter Pan, a librivox recording, the narrators switched; a new voice each chapter, but not for each character.

For all you audio book fans, what makes an audio book work for you? And, what format do you really enjoy?

I know audio books are not for all, but now I think I will give them a second chance. Unfortunately, I am on a budget, I only listen to the books featured on the 99 cent app on my Iphone and Itouch. Who can pass up unlimited audio books with a one time fee of 99 cents plus tax?

Feeling a book is great. But I have no more room for books. My library is terrible. Audio books just be something I want to keep as a major option.

Happy reading!

It’s Monday! What are you reading?: My first meme participation

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Whew, another Monday down. This Monday marks a milestone for me, my first It’s Monday! What are you reading? post. It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme that showcases different blogs where you can find even more book reviews and recommendations sponsored by Shelia at bookjourney.wordpress.com.  

In case you missed my entry into the world of blogging last week (almost to the day!) I will go on a quick time machine ride and take you back to my first week here.  

One of the highlights of my week was my newbie experience at the giant BEA convention I attended last Saturday as a power reader. It was a great experience, where I can’t wait to attend next year! I definitely will be more prepared. The app I downloaded turned out to be of little help with a confusing map; I missed like ten booths! At least I walked away with lots of books and just as awesome tote bags!! (sorry I have no pictures, bad indie, I know). As you can imagine, attending such an event leaves one with lots of reading to do. 

 

My first post, actually, was an early review of Sarah Dessen’s new YA novel The Moon and More  The Moon and Morereleased June 4th, by Viking Juvenile. This

was a great coming of age novel about eighteen year old  Emaline’s last summer before college, finding herself, her role in her community, family, and interpersonal relationships. If you like YA, are new to Sarah Dessen, or just want to read something lighter than more contemporary fiction novels are becoming, definitely give The Moon and More a shot. The title alone is catchy, the meaning heartwarming (I won’t tell you why!). I read the book in only a day and a half, but I have always been a fan. I have read every book she ever wrote. Superfan? Maybe.

Another novel I finished that week was The Gilly Salt Sisters by Tiffany Baker.

The Gilly Salt Sisters Unfortunately, this book took me longer to read. I rated it two stars, but it may have been two and a half. It wasn’t necessarily a quick chick lit book, nor a quick contemporary read. It was a different sort of novel. Unfortunately just fell too flat for me. I can be a picky reader sometimes. We like what we like, right?

This week, look out for a review of Ronald Frame’s Havisham: A Novel review, the first book of many I got at BEA. So far, I am enjoying this book, surprisingly so since I couldn’t get pass page 100 on Great Expectations, the inspiration for this prequel like book, focusing on the life of Catherine Havisham before she appears in the aforementioned previous novel. No wedding dress!

And the cover is so pretty! Havisham: A Novel I just love me some silhouettes. So much so, thanks to Litographs and BEA, I got this poster free… how pretty is that? Can’t wait till I get it soon! If only I have room on my walls.

I am hoping to add to my reading list this week, of course. I tend to stick to just one book at a time, so not ready for my next book decision. Such a huge one it is!

Happy Monday, and happy week! 

 

For the love of salt “The Giilly Salt sisters” Book Review

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The Gilly Salt Sisters

The Gilly Salt Sisters

by Tiffany Baker

Released March, 2012

Two stars

In the isolated Cape Cod village of Prospect, the Gilly sisters are as different as can be. Jo, a fierce and quiet loner, is devoted to the mysteries of her family’s salt farm, while Claire yearns to flee the salt at any cost; and forcing those around her to do the same thing. But the Gilly land hides a dark legacy that proves impossible to escape, it doesn’t stop Whit Turner, the town’s wealthiest bachelor, from forcing his way into their lives. It’s Jo who first steals Whit’s heart, but it is Claire–heartbroken over her high school sweetheart–who marries him.

Years later, estranged from her family, Claire finds herself thrust back onto the farm with the last person she would have chosen: her husband’s pregnant mistress. Suddenly, alliances change, old loves return, and new battle lines are drawn. What the Gilly sisters learn about each other, the land around them, and the power of the salt, will not only change each of their lives forever, it will also alter Gilly history for good.
As the two sisters struggle to find their place on the Salt Creek Farm, they must decide who they are and how willing are they to save their debilitated farm?

I was first drawn to this book by the idea of salt and the power it possesses. To think a simple substance we take for granted could be something more intrigued me. As I read the novel, beginning to get deeper into it, I didn’t find myself entirely engrossed and connected. The element of salt almost takes a backseat–like the backseat of Jo’s beat-up truck. It is present, of course, but Baker tries hard to transform the meaning of salt and our preconceptions about it to an unbelievable point. The usage of salt was presented as if it was an addictive, illegal drug trying to get in the wrong hands, causing an abundance of trouble. But, why, you may ask? We use salt for everything. It is because the stuck-up character Claire Gilly-Turner makes it so.

Younger of the two sisters, Claire Gilly has tried to avoid the salt her family makes at all costs. Once she left Salt Creek Farm twelve years prior, she has tried to forget about the substance, yet by trying, and succeeding to convince the people of Prospect of the poison that is Salt Creek salt, she is more tied to than she realizes. Although her food is bland with no salt; the annual December Eve bonfire is not the same without a Gilly sister throwing in salt to see what the year will bring for the little town; and spending more energy on convincing the townspeople of the nasty, psychological qualities it possesses; and trying to disown her sister and the family business, in the end it may be the only thing that can save her. Although she is a Gilly sister by birth, in turn she becomes the poster child of anti-salt usage, trying to start a revolt that affects her older sister, the last Gilly, partly without Claire realizing the consequences. She just wanted to break free from all the superstitions that stained her life, she is clinging to it more than she knows.
She loved once, with all her heart. As she became violently heart-broken, a fire and her sister’s burned skin and glass eye becomes a constant reminder. Unfortunately, the feeling of remorse seemed to be absent for me. Not entirely out of spite, more for longing to leave her life, she marries the only man her sister ever lived, Whit Turner, from the wealthiest family. But, your first love always remains in your heart and as the story unfolds, Claire starts to painfully learn that. “Love wasn’t a list to be kept in the heart. It was the duties you got up to fulfill every day and the sacrifices you made.”
I may not have truly cared for Claire, there was a deepness to her I could identify with. I may not have approved how she went about things with the salt, I could understand her longings to be someone else and want to leave behind a painful past. She learns, as we learn with her.
“How do you tell the difference between carelessness and passion?” Claire asked as they [Jo] paced back along the edge of the marsh.

“Is there one? I mean really, is there any way to love a person without getting the hell beaten out of it?”

Although this was made regarding another character, I found this quote to also be true to her relationship with Jo.
The one person who saves the story is Jo Gilly. As the story develops, and switches third person narrative between the three girls, Jo’s life is slowly revealed where you have nothing but sorrow for her. Yet, that sorrow turns into something else entirely when you see how strong and resilient she really is. She is the epitome of a strong female character. She has no issues about her adversity growing up, and lack of social status. The salt business is suffering, but she keeps going. It is her that fights with the bank to stay open. With one eye and a half-scarred face, she still drives around in her beat up red pickup truck with no care to what people’s opinions of her are. She keeps at the salt, living and breathing it as only a true Gilly daughter can.

Although the novel focuses around The Gilly sisters, there is another character that takes center court as well. Dee is eighteen, a high school drop-out, and a failed waitress at her father’s new diner. Dee is as two dimensional as an author can create. It isn’t so much as lacking dimension, Dee doesn’t want to be anything. Like anything at all. She rather give herself the title of slut, hate herself for it, and never change. And, then there is the creepy obsession with Claire Gilly. She is completely obsessed, wanting to know all the town gossip, listens for Claire’s horse Icicle every morning, and sneaks into her room at night when they begin to live together. It isn’t flattering, the way she goes about it. It really is creepy, especially because of a detail I have to abstain from saying. *spoiler alert*

I didn’t hate Tiffany Baker’s novel. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it either. It was just OK for me. I had high hopes. Although I did learn a lot about the care that goes into harvesting salt and how it is almost an exact science that takes everything you got, Claire and Dee’s story lines made me more indifferent than a content reader. The book wasn’t entirely bland, as it really picked up towards the end. My time didn’t feel as wasted when I got to around page three hundred or so. Each character came full circle within themselves and within the story line. Claire became more likable. Jo less sharp-edged and more open. Dee also changed, in the only way she could-minimally.

I may not recommend this book to anyone, but if you do stumble upon it and are slightly intrigued, I won’t advise you against it. Just know, for me, it wasn’t a fast read, or captivating enough.

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