Monday, May 31

Book Review: War on the Margins

Title: War on the Margins

Author:Libby Cone

Pages: 251

Summary: France has fallen to the Nazis.Britain is undr siege. As BBC bulletins grow bleak, residents of Jersey abandon their homes in their thousands. When the Germans take over; Marlene Zimmer; a shy clerk at the Aliens Office, must register her friends and neighbours as jews while concealing her own heritage, until eventually she is forced to flee. Layers of extraordinary history unfold as we chart Marlene's transformation from unassuming office worker to achieve Resistance member under the protection of artists Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, who manage to find poetry in the midst of hardship and unimaginable danger.

Drawn from authentic World War II documents, broadcasts and private letters, War on the Margins tells the unforgettable story of the deepening horror of the Nazi regime in Jersey and the exceptional bravery of those who sought to subvert it.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The author asked me to review this book, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read the book, as it was a lovely, well written story, which had a multiple layers and amazing characters. Where do I even begin? The story takes place during the German occupation of Jersey and how the characters rose up in attempts of resistance, as well as their own turmoil and personal conflict of their own actions and there place in society. The author did a fantastic job at creating very believable characters, who the reader was able to connect with on an emotional level. Even the minor characters who were affected by the war, as their families were torn apart, had you anxiously waiting to see what would happen to them. It made for a very emotional and powerful read.

I also enjoyed the relationship between Mary and Lucille. In fact I think the two of them were my favourite characters in the whole novel. Not only where they powerful woman in the resistance, but they had some very entertaining methods to stand up to the Germans, and very amusing personalities. As well as their romantic relationship of the two, who started out as step sisters, and later became lovers. I especially enjoyed their journey together near the end of the novel, and the strength they both had. I will leave it at that, so I don’t ruin it for others. But, they were both truly wonderful characters.

I didn’t like Marlene near the end of the novel. Once she came to a realization I could understand a bit where she came from, but she seemed to be a little over the top about the issue, to the point she started to annoy me. It wasn’t a horrible thing wrong about the book, but her own self pity (although well written) began to bug me after a while. In my opinion what’s done was done, and she couldn’t change it.

Over all, a wonderful and powerful novel on the lives of those affect by the German occupation of Jersey, and the lives of the people and their families who were affected by it, imprisoned because of it and those who dare to stick against the enemy.

Would I recommend it to read: Oh yes! Especially if you enjoyed The Guernsey and Potato Peel Pie Society, than you will diffidently enjoy the book. Although they aren't the same story, this book takes place before the events in GPPPS. Also, if you are participating in Amanda from The Zen Leaf's GLBT Challenge, this would also be a good book to read, although it isn't a major theme, there is a beautiful realtionship between the two stepsisters Mary and Lucille.

What to read next: The Guernsey and Potato Peel Pie Society

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge,
A - Z Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge

NOTE: Although I wrote this review on June 13, 2010. This is actually an old review from May. So it counts towards May Reviews. I think (if I did it right) I have the date so it is "posted" for May 31, 2010. But it will appear in readers etc as June. Just letting you know. Also will be explaining my "disappearance" in my May wrap up.

Book Review: A Sicilian Romance

Title: A Sicilian Romance

Author: Ann Radcliffe

Pages: 209

Summary: In a Sicilian Romance (1790) Radcliffe began to forge the unique mixture of the psychology of terror and poetic description of that would make her the great exemplar of the Gothic novel, and the idol of the Romantics.

This early novel explores the cavernous landscapes and labyrinthine passages of Sicily's castles and convents to reveal the shameful secrets of its all-powerful aristocracy. Julia and Emilia Mazzini live secluded in an ancient mansion near the straits of Messina. After their father's return to the island a neglected part of the house is haunted by mysterious sights and sounds. When revelation of the origin of these hauntings finally comes, it forces the heroines to challenge the united forces of religious and patriarchal authority.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This story is a wonderful example of Gothic literature. I really enjoyed Radcliffe’s style and how she set up the setting in for the whole story, she was able to make me see and feel how the world around the characters looked, the dark cathedral and the twists and turns they all took as the searched it for the “ghost.” The way the author voiced the story, was my favourite part of the whole novel. I almost wished it was thunder storming out as I was reading it, just to make it that much better.

The overall story was also well done. Although a little typical in some aspects as a lot of the stories back then (love triangles, good man versus evil man, trying to win the heart of beautiful woman, who wants nothing to do with evil man, but family wants evil man’s status etc). But even in that aspect, I think Radcliffe handled it well, so you weren’t to bothered by reading the same story you’ve read before.

I didn’t like the characters themselves that much. Which is the only real problem I seemed to have with the book (the ending was the second issue, a little to tied up for me, I was hoping for something different, maybe more depressing, to go with the rest of the novel.). But the characters just didn’t reach me. I don’t have a favourite, and there wasn’t really one particular character I hated either. All were just there. But the story itself, the themes in it makes up for that. I will look forward to reading more by the author in the future.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes I think I would, especially if you enjoy Gothic Literature/Themed books, or 18th century stories. It was well written and well told. Not that strong of characters, but the writing and storytelling are wonderful!

What to read next: I'd definitely try more of Rancliffe's novels. She was a talented author, and I really enjoyed her gothic tale. I'd also say focus on more books in gothic literature area.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge, Pages Read, 18th and 19th Century Women Writers, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Centuries Challenge, RYOB Challenge,
Typically British Challenge,

NOTE: Although I wrote this review on June 13, 2010. This is actually an old review from May. So it counts towards May Reviews. I think (if I did it right) I have the date so it is "posted" for May 31, 2010. But it will appear in readers etc as June. Just letting you know. Also will be explaining my "disappearance" in my May wrap up.

Sunday, May 9

Book Review: The Xibalba Murders

Title: The Xibalba Murders ((Archaeological Mysteries, No. 1)

Author: Lyn Hamilton

Pages: 290

Summary: The murder of a renowned expert in Mayan history lures Lara into the jungles surrounding Merida, Mexico. For in this lush paradise are the temples of the Mayan gods--and the camps of modern-day rebels fighting to save their Mayan heritage. As the body count escalates, Lara must uncover the secrets of the Mayan underworld known as Xibalba--and the journey into the very heart of darkness.

My Rating: 3/10

What I liked/disliked about the book:Well what can I say about this book? It was not an enjoyable read, for starts. In fact it was a pretty horrible read for me. The book grabbed my attention when I saw another blogger about a year ago (so sorry, I don’t know who it is, but shout out to you) reviewed the book, and the only thing I really paid attention to was the book started with the letter “X”. I mean how many books start with the letter X? Very, very few, so I grabbed the book from the library to satisfy the letter X for title proportion, for the A - Z challenge, because I am finishing this challenge this year! And I’m doing it the old fashioned way (letters starting with for titles and author). I kind of wish it stayed on the shelf at the library, and I had picked something else.

First what I liked, which is very, little. I liked the Mayan history and mythology in the book. It was interesting, sometimes it was overdone and some of it didn’t always seem relevant (although the author tried to make connections, and I read the passages and went huh? That makes no sense!) But for the most part some background on the Mayan history and mythology was well done, interesting and although I don’t know much about it, it seemed well researched.

And that’s were the good part ends. The rest of the book was awful. Full of drivel and pointless filler, the “important” parts weren’t well done, so I didn’t care there were all these people being murdered, mainly because the reason behind them just didn’t add up (more so when you are told, why they were all murdered.) Things were not addressed well either. There was no climax, no change of tone in while explaining, good parts, filler parts, “scary” parts, just a monotone way of writing, which didn’t help the book or reading it at all. I also found the plot line to be disjointed and disconnected from the story line. Things just seemed to pop up out of no where, its like the author planned to have a set a mount of murders, a set amount of characters, and connect it all to Mayan mythology. Like I said above a lot of things I read made me wonder if I missed something (I even backtracked to make sure I didn’t, or make sure pages weren’t stuck together or something, but that was not the case.)

The main character annoyed me a lot to. She just had no purpose in the book, except that she was retelling her story, the book might have been a lot better had it not been told from first person view. Perhaps having a glimpse of what the “bad guys” were doing, and not seeing everything behind her eyes could have helped the book. Also, she just wasn’t a well written protagonist, she just seemed to be someone going along for the ride, and there wasn’t much difference from her than the secondary characters. All seemed to be in the book, because a book needs some characters, and this one did slightly more things in the book than the others.

Finally the ending, it was anti-climatic and cliché. The Big Bads’ reasoning for everything he’s done has been done over and over again, not very original. And then they all lived happily ever after. I wish I could say the same for this review. (On the plus side, this did help me completed the 1st in a series challenge! YAH!)

Would I recommend it to read: No! Unless you really need an X title for a book, and like me, want to have the Title start with X. And even then you may want to try and find something else. It's just not a good read. And it's not even a bad read where you can have fun with creating a fun or sarcastic review. There is very little to work with here.

What to read next: I'm not sure. If you enjoyed the book, the rest of the series. Or the Lost Symbol (which I hated, but if you like this book, than I can see you liking the other, although I can see people liking Dan Browns book, but not liking this one.) I'd say find something better to read, and don't waste your time.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 1st in a Series Challenge, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge III, Support Your Library Challenge.

Monday, May 3

In My Mail Box and Books That Followed Me Home

Two for One Vlog! Today do to being really tired and lazy I combined to vlogs into one. So enjoy.
Also, Im a little odd in this. Because I'm so tired today. Didn't sleep well last night, few hours of sleep, then full day of work. Multiple cups of coffee and still am about to fall asleep. An when I get tired or haven't had enough sleep. I laugh randomly and at times can't stop, or I ramble more than normal. So sorry in advanced. At least it's entertaining. :) Also I messed up doing my something artsy. And well it will just stay like it is. Again. Sorry.

The first half of the Vlog is In My MailBox which is hosted by Kristi of the Story Siren. So check out her blog to find out more information or to participate.

Books Mentioned - IMM
For Review:
War on the Margins
Flesh and Grass (EBook)

The Thralls Tale
The Reader
About a Boy

Oroonoko and Other Stories
The Female Quixote
A Sicilian Romance

Books that Followed Me Home
Tale of Two Cities
The Historian
Enders Game
Treasure Island
Breath and Bone
Good To Fault
The Outlander

Sunday, May 2

April Wrap-Up

It's May already? Where is the time going, seriously? The year is zipping right by. So for this month it was a good month in some ways, I still didn't get to read as many books as I would have liked, but with the job I have now, where I read through files all day preparing them for archiving, well coming home I'm sometimes to tired to read much. I've read 33 books so far this year which is great, but I was hoping to be up around the 42 mark by now, still I'm happy. (EDIT: After looking at the books I bought er, followed me home and came into my mailbox etc. I'm going to need multiple coffees, a time machine and a time stopping machine to read them all. And new bookshelves and house to store them all!)

Books Read
This month I read five books. And this is the first month, where I've had books where all of them were really well done. Some I liked better than others, but this month was an excellent month for book choices. One book made me think more, and sort of made my brain hurt, in a good way. But a good month for book choices.

1) The Postmistress by Sarah Blake - 9/10
2) A Thread of Sky by Deanne Fei - 8.5/10
3) The Guernsey and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows- 9/10
4) Surfacing by Margaret Atwood - 7.5/10
5) Molly Withers and the Golden Tree - Kent Allan Rees - 8/10

My favourite book of the month is a tie between the Postmistress and The Guernsey and Potato Peel Society. Oddly enough both take place in the WWII era.

Challenges Completed

This month I completed two more challenges! Yah! But not the two I was hoping too complete, but still completing a challenge is always a great thing. So far of the 40 challengs I've participating in, I've completed four, and dropped out of one. So I'm now participating in 39 challenges.

Historical Fiction Challenge - Completed on April 3, 2010 (Hosted by Royal Reviewers)
For this Challenge I read six books. Click the link (challenge name) to see my list. I enjoyed the challenge, although I didn't branch out to far into the historical fiction genre as much as I thought, I stuck to my comfort zones, but I do have some histrorical fiction books outside my usual preference coming my way soon.

Wish I Read that Challenge
- Completed on April 18, 2010 (Hosted by Royal Reviewers)
For this challenge I read twelve books. Click the link on the challenge name to see my list. This was a fun challenge, but also one that can be dangerous, as there are so many books that I Wish I Read - I can see this challenge reaching high amounts. Also I found that many books I wish I had read, I didn't enjoy as much. Wishing to high perhaps?

Challenges I'm Stepping Down From
I hate "quiting" challenges, but there is one I started last year, so its a 2009 - 2010 challenge it finishes July 31, but I know I won't finish it. This one restricts you reading a lot more - Random Reading Challenge, where you do a random pick using a number generator to pick the book for you basically. The problem is I can usually randomly pick a book up and fit it into the challenges I'm doing, or find a book that is for a certain challenge and find it fits with a lot of others, but this one you don't pick the book, its up to chance, and I know I might not enjoy some books as I might normally have, because some books you just need to be in the mood for, so I'm stepping down. So now I've quit two challenges this month. So currently participating in 38 (plus 4 mini challenges so 42 in total) challenges. 4 of which I've completed. (Although I'm joining two - three more challenges or thinking of it.)

On-Going Challenges
I'm well on my way to completing a few more challenges. 4 challenges only need one more book to read to complete it. So I think I should be able to do that this month. Especially considering two books that can complete two of the challenges are currently sitting on the shelf from the Library.

Read 'n' Review - 33 Books
Pages Read - 9, 342/50,000

1st in a Series Challenge - 2/3
2nd's Challenge - 4/6
10/10 Challenge - 33/100
18th and 19th Century Women Writers - 1/3
100+ Challenge - 33/100
451 Reading Challenge - 0/7
A - Z Challenge - 24/52
All About the Brontes Challenge - 1/3
Bibilophilic Challenge - 2/6
Canadian Challenge the 3rd - 6/13
Centuries Challenge - 1/3
Chick Lit Challenge - 0/8
Chunkster Challenge - 0/4
Countdown Challenge - 22/55
Decades Challenge - 2/10
Ebook Challenge - 0/6
Fantasy Challenge - 1/6
Flashback Challenge - 0/6(+?)
Finish that Series Challenge - 0/3 Series
Global Reading Challenge - 11/12
Jane Austen Challenge - 0/4
The Marple Poitot Holmes Challenge - 3/6
Reading Through the Seasons Challenge - 1/4
Reading Western Europe Challenge - 5/12
RYOB Challenge - 7/50
Support Your Local Library Challenge - 25/50
TBR Lite Challenge - 0/6
A Tournament of Reading - 0/3
Typically British Challenge - 5/6
War Through the Generations: Vietnam - 1/5
What's in a Name? III - 5/6
Women Unbound Challenge - 3/8 (I moved up a level on this challenge)

Mini Challenges

George Eliot Mini Challenge - 0/2
Elizabeth Glaskell Mini Challenge - 1/2
Leo Tolsty Mini Challenge - 0/2
French Revolution Challenge - 0/2
Wilkie Collins Challenge - 1/2

Link for all Mini Challenges Here

Completed Challenges 4/42

Countries Visited:
This month I only visited one new country, but I just realized last month I said I visited Belguim through my reading, but it was Bosnia. I have been to both, but last month it was a Bosnia reading adventure. So I just thought I'd add that.

visited 31 states (13.7%)
Create your own visited map of The World

Books that Followed me Home or Came into my mailbox

I'm almost scared to list this. As I bought way to many books this month (is there such thing?)

Books Bought
1) Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
2) Bitten by Kelly Armstrong
3)Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (Used Book Store)
4) Adam Bebe - George Eliot (Used Book Store)
5)The Pathfinders by James Fenimore Cooper (Used Book Store)
6)Life on the Mississippi - Mark Twain (Used Book Store)
7)We by Eugene Zamiatan (Used Bookstore)
8)Nights Below Station Street (Used Bookstore)
9)For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down by David Adam Richards (Used Bookstore)
10)Surfacing - Margaret Atwood
11)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
12)Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
13)Fire in the Blood - Irene Nemervosky
14)Passage to India - E.M Forester
15)The Tin Flute - Gabriel Roy (Used Bookstore)
16)A Bird in the House - Margaret Lawrence (Used Bookstore)
17)Fire Dwellers - Margaret Lawrence (Used Bookstore)
18)Just of God - Margaret Lawrence (Used Bookstore)
19)Blade of Grass - DeSot
21)School of Essential Ingrediants
22)My Antonia - Willa Cather
23)Purple Hibiscus
24)Winter Vault
25)Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
26)Stone Carvers - Jane Urquheart (Used Bookstore)
27)Atlas Shrugged
28) Thirty Acres - Ringuet
29) Little Alters Everywhere - Rebecca Wells
30) Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood - Rebecca Wells
31) Tipperary - Frank Delaney
32) Liberty - Kimberly Iverson
33) Tales From Firozsha Baag -
34) Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones
35) Molly Withers and the Golden Tree - Kent Allen Rees (Signed)
36) Feathered Serpent - Xu Xiaobin
37) Petals from the Sky - Mingmei Yip
38) Valmiki's Daughter - Shani Mootoo
39) And the Angels Sang -Lorina Stephens (Signed)
40) Shadow Song - Loriana Stephens (Signed)
41) The Gurensey and Potato Peel Pie Society
42) Good to Fault (signed and will talk about later)

In My Mailbox (includes Online purchases, Bookmooch and review books)
1) Mistress of Rome(Review Book)
2)The Outlander (Signed)(didn't mention on blog)
3) The Heart Specialist (didn't mention on blog)
4) Ya-Yas in Bloom (bookmooch)
5) 1001 Books you Must Read Before You Die
6) Taming of the Shrew
5) Three Cups of Tea
6) The Thrall's Tale (Bookmooch)
7) About a Boy(Bookmooch)
8) The Reader (Bookmooch)
9)War on the Margins by Libby Cone (Review Book)
10) A Sicilian Romance - Ann Rancliffe
12) Oroonoko and Other Writings - Aphra Behn
13) The Female Quixote - Charlotte Lennox
14) Cecilia - Fanny Burney
15) Belinda - Maria Edgeworth

OMG! To many books. To many! Lol!