Sunday, January 31

Book Review: Cat Amoung the Pigeons

Title: Cat Among the Pigeons: A Hercule Poiriot Mystery

Author: Agatha Christie

Pages: 297

Summary: Another term has begun at Meadowbank, a prestigious, well-respected British girls' school. The indomitable headmistress is preparing to retire and name her successor. There is a disconcertingly mature Middle Eastern princess among the students and several new staff members in residence. And a brand-new sports pavilion is the pride of the campus.

ut the school year suddenly takes a deadly turn when one of the teachers is found shot to death. As the investigation ensues, it becomes clear that the killer was not an outsider—and equally clear that no one at Meadowbank is who he or she seems to be. It is up to Hercule Poirot to determine who is who—and, more importantly, what has drawn the killer to the school—before anyone else falls victim to the cat among the pigeons.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was my first time reading anything by Agatha Christie, and overall I enjoyed the mystery side of the book. Christie did a good job at setting up the mystery and leaving clues throughout the book. I enjoyed trying to piece them together and trying to solve the mystery as I followed along with the story. It wasn’t necessarily a suspenseful book, but I did find it hard to put down, as I tried to piece together the clues to the mystery. I also enjoyed how the book didn’t start off a mystery, but worked on building up the cast of characters first. This was different then other mysteries I’ve read before, so it made me more interested in solving the mystery because I had the chance to learn more about the characters first. But, I wasn’t that interested in the characters, so although I liked giving the chance to connect with the characters first, I didn’t like any of them. I also wasn’t impressed that Hercule Poirot didn’t make an appearance until near the very end. I was hoping to get to see more of him, and experience his detective skills.

One other thing was, although I like the way the mystery was written and that I enjoyed trying to solve it, the idea behind the mystery itself just wasn’t that great of one. Parts of it worked, but other parts just didn’t seem to fit or seemed to be to easy when they all came together. Overall a good book to read if you need a quick book to read, and enjoy mysteries.

Would I recommend it to read: If you like mysteries I would recommend it. But wouldn't if you're not a fan. Possible recommend a different Agatha Christie Book instead.

What to read next: More Mysteries by Agatha Christie, and Doyle, I'm not su

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Category Challenge, 100+ Challenge,
The Marple Poirot Holmes Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo, New Author Challenge,
Support Your Library Challenge, Typically British Challenge

Book Review: Heart of Darkness

Title: Heart of Darkness

Author: Joseph Conrad


Summary: Written in 1902, Heart of Darkness grew out of a journey Joseph Conrad himself took up the Congo River. The Verisimilitude that the great novelist thereby brought to his most famous tale enhances its dense and shattering power. Though controversial, Heart of Darkness ha been considered a literary classic of the twentieth century and a staple of English Literature. Taking readers with him deep into the Congo, the narrator witnesses first-hand the bitter juxtaposition of the beauty of the African jungle and the brutality dealt out to the inhabitants by Belgian imperialists. Heart of Darkness is a model of economic storytellin, an indictment of the inner and outer turmoil caused by the European imperial misadventure, and a piercing account of the fragility of the human soul.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Although the book was a very short book, it wasn’t a quick read as I originally thought, as it was a very difficult read. And I’m finding it hard to convey into words, what it’s about and how exactly I feel. The story was well written, and it pointed out some very important issues, but it’s hard to explain unless you read it. For one the entire book is filled with metaphors on issues around racism, power, corruption, darkness and evil. At times the amount of metaphors made my head spin, because I was trying to wrap around what the author was getting at, maybe that was his intention, showing the corruption, evil and racism and what it does to the soul of the inflictors. But even so, it is deeply rooted in multiple metaphors and hidden images and symbols. It’s hard to pinpoint which issues and ideas I should talk about, because there are so many, and every person who reads the book will get something out of it. For example how the Natives are portrayed and are they portrayed this way because it’s told through the eyes of a white narrator? Issues surrounding imperialism and how it’s addressed in “civilizing” a native colony and issues surrounding the evils of power hungry men are just a few.

The narrative it’s self is wonderfully written, it easily keeps you into the book, even if some of the themes are uncomfortable to read. Conrad has a talent for wonderful and poetic pose, and deeply root metaphors into his story, that return time and time again throughout the book. Overall a good story, but I suggest using a readers guide to look over afterwards, or read it in a book club to help ensure you’ve have a grasp on everything. And, although it’s a short book, it’s not a short read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, but only to certain people. The book has offensive language and explains harsh treatments of the natives. It not a grotesque explanation, but the reader is left knowing the natives are tortured and beaten, treated as objects. And they are described in detail in how they're starving. I know some readers out there aren't comfortable with issues like this, so I thought I'd give warning. The book is also heavy with racism, and it is very in your face. Also, the book is very difficult to read, in how the story's told, the way metaphors are used and that's on top of the actual harsh content of the books. So Although I think it's a book a lot of people should read, I know there are some who would be uncomfortable with it. Like I said above, if you do read it, I'd recommend looking over a reader's guide when you're done, or read it in a book club discussion, to help pull out everything that is hidden within the text.

What to read next: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Haven't read it, but checked it out on the LT recommendations, and looks interesting and similar themes.)

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge,
Global Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, RYOB Challenge,

Saturday, January 30

Book Review: The Sea

Title: The Sea

Author: John Banville

Pages: 195

The narrator is Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who, soon after his wife’s death, has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child—a retreat from the grief, anger, and numbness of his life without her. But it is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled vacationing family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time. The seductive mother; the imperious father; the twins—Chloe, fiery and forthright, and Myles, silent and expressionless—in whose mysterious connection Max became profoundly entangled, each of them a part of the “barely bearable raw immediacy” of his childhood memories.

Interwoven with this story are Morden’s memories of his wife, Anna—of their life together, of her death—and the moments, both significant and mundane, that make up his life now: his relationship with his grown daughter, Claire, desperate to pull him from his grief; and with the other boarders at the house where he is staying, where the past beats inside him “like a second heart.”

What Max comes to understand about the past, and about its indelible effects on him, is at the center of this elegiac, vividly dramatic, beautifully written novel—among the finest we have had from this extraordinary writer.

My Rating: 7

What I liked/disliked about the book: The story was a well written story, with an elegant and poetic style of writing, which I enjoyed. The author did a good job at portraying the various and at times jumbled emotions and thoughts of a man who just lost someone he loved. Together, I think the author did a fantastic job at creating a character who the reader could follow on an emotional journey and almost see his emotions on the pages.

Another aspect I liked was, as Max remembers his childhood past events, at times it’s almost like random images, or glimpses from his memory. At times these memories pop up, almost randomly, but it works in a way that it seems like ghosts of his past come into his mind as he struggles with his feelings of loss of his wife, and feelings of a childhood memory. Even though the story jumped around from past and present and at times was done randomly and hard to follow, I think it worked because it seemed to be realistic portrayal, seemly random items, places images jar a memory of the last time he was there, and it’s mixed in with the thoughts and emotions of losing a loved one. But at the same time, it jumping around so much was also hard to follow. Sometimes you’d be interested in something happening in the present and the character would drift off into the past, and then drift back, so it was hard to keep the two storylines straight. I also wasn’t that impressed with the ending, I can’t put my finger on why, but it just didn’t satisfy me.

A worthwhile read, and a great example of poetic writing style, but not as good as I would have expected, particularly in the end.

Would I recommend it to read: I'd recommend this book to read to some people. If you like poetic style, or books that focus a lot on the emotional journey of a character then yes. If you're looking to read something a little different, then yes. But I can see a lot of people being frustrated with how the story jumps around.

What to read next: October - Richard B Wright, The Gathering

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Countdown Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo, New Author Challenge, Reading Western Europe, Support Your Library Challenge, What's in a Name? Challenge

Book Review: Armadale

Title: Armadale

Author: Wilkie Collins

Pages: 558

Summary: When the elderly Allan Armadale makes a terrible confession on his death-bed, he has little idea of the repercussions to come, for the secret he reveals involves the mysterious Lydia Gwilt: flame-haired temptress, bigamist, laudanum addict and husband-poisoner. Her malicious intrigues fuel the plot of this gripping melodrama: a tale of confused identities, inherited curses, romantic rivalries, espionage, money - and murder. The character of Lydia Gwilt horrified contemporary critics, with one reviewer describing her as 'One of the most hardened female villains whose devices and desires have ever blackened fiction'. She remains among the most enigmatic and fascinating women in nineteenth-century literature and the dark heart of this most sensational of Victorian 'sensation novels'.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Although it had a bit of a slow start, Armadale was a thrilling read, which was hard to put down once you got into it. Containing a great cast of characters, including the evil Lydia Gwilt, one of the most intriguing but evil villainesses in literature, yet despite her evilness, you couldn’t help but anxiously await until the next time she appeared on the pages. Readers will definitely have a love/hate relationship with her, as they read about her evil plots and actions. The entire story has some very interesting characters, all of which hold secrets from each other and only the reader really knows the whole truth. Which made the book that much more interesting, the reader knew the evilness of Lydia, or a particular secret of one of the other characters, but the characters themselves were usually in the dark, so reading and waiting for it to be all to be discovered was part of the fun!

I also enjoyed the general gothic Victorian setting of the story, including the haunting dream that was a theme throughout the entire story. It added a nice touch to the story, and gave some good foreshadowing as to what would come. Collins’ was excellent at setting up the story, building up to the big reveals and creating complex characters with multiple layers. It had that old English writing I love so much. It’s hard to be bored with a novel that has such lovely writing. Not to mention, Collin’s has a great ability to build up suspense in a way that made you want to read on, in order to find out what would happen next, no matter how subtle the lead up may have been.

One complaint was that with one of the characters became very irritating, very quickly, (Neelie Milroy), she was just a bit selfish, whiney and overall not at all likeable. I was kind of hoping she’d meet the wrath of Lydia so the reader wouldn’t have to put up with her anymore. Also at times, parts of the story were a little to drawn out, even if it was meant to build up suspense there were times, you were just wanting the story to progress a little faster.

Overall another fantastic gothic Victorian read.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, especially if you like gothic, victorian stories, mysteries and are a fan of books that focus a lot on the characters. It's a long book, but worth it. (Even if my edition had the smallest font size possible, I still couldn't put it down at times, no matte how much my eyes hurt). So I would recommend it to others to read.

What to read next: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Lady Audley's Secret Mary Elizabeth Braddon (haven't read the second one, but it was a LT suggestion, and since reading the description, have added it to my TBR)

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge, Pages Read, 10/10 Category Challenge,
52 in 52 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Decades Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo,
Support Your Library Challenge, Typically British Challenge, Mini Challenge: Wilkie Collins

Wednesday, January 27

Library Loot - Jan 27 - Feb 2

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva (A Striped Arm Chair) and Marg(ReadingAdventures) that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

This Week the Mr. Linky is HERE

So I'm combing two memes weeks worth of Loot, because I forgot to do one last week. Opps!
I would probably have had more, but it's hard to get to the library right now, because I broke my toe (I'm alright, don't worry). Last week it was pretty swollen, and this week it's better, but still hard to talk, so getting to the actual library is hard. But it does give me an excuse to keep my feet up and read in bed :).

This Week!

Cat Among the Pigeons (A Hercule Poirot Mystery) - Agatha Christie
Quartet in Autumn - Barbara Pym
Beach Trip: Cathy Holton
Lace Reader: Brunonia Barry

Left overs from Previous Weeks were (2 weeks ago):

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Armadale by Wilkie Collins
Nefertiti - Michelle Moran

From Last Week:

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Unit byNinni Holmqvist
The Sea by John Banville

And that's my library loot for the week! Well a couple of weeks!

Sunday, January 24

Book Review: Case of the Missing Books

Title: The Mobile Library Series: Case of the Missing Books (1)

Author: Ian Sansom

Pages: 326

Summary: Israel is an intelligent, shy, passionate, sensitive sort of soul: he’s Jewish: he’s a vegetarian: he could maybe do with losing a little weight. And he’s just arrived in Ireland to take up his first post as a librarian. But the library’s been shut down and Israel ends up stranded on the North Antrim coast driving an old mobile library van. There’s a lot of nice scenery, but 15, 000 fewer books than there should be. Who on earth steals that many books? How? When would they have the time to read them all? And is there anywhere in this godforsaken place where he can get a proper cappuccino and a decent newspaper? Israel wants some answers . . .Israel is an intelligent, shy, passionate, sensitive sort of soul: he’s Jewish: he’s a vegetarian: he could maybe do with losing a little weight. And he’s just arrived in Ireland to take up his first post as a librarian. But the library’s been shut down and Israel ends up stranded on the North Antrim coast driving an old mobile library van. There’s a lot of nice scenery, but 15, 000 fewer books than there should be. Who on earth steals that many books? How? When would they have the time to read them all? And is there anywhere in this godforsaken place where he can get a proper cappuccino and a decent newspaper? Israel wants some answers . . .

My Rating: 6.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book was picked solely on the fact I needed a book based in Northern Ireland for the Reading Western Europe Challenge. So I went into this very sceptically and knowing there would be good chances I wouldn’t like it. But the book surprised me. Overall it wasn’t a bad book, and at times it was fairly amusing.

The entire cast of characters are a large group of overly eccentric and extremely odd personalities, as the protagonist is faced with this group as he him self is also an odd ball, stereotypical librarian/bibliophile/coffee addict. He’s goal was to run a library, what he got was a rural closed down library and instead was told he’d be driving a mobile library, except there is no books. His attempts at being a detective are, well an utter failure, so much the entire book is one big laugh. Which is what I liked about the book, it almost seemed to be a bit of a satire on mysteries. Instead of a gripping mystery book, it was a comedy as we watch the librarian stumble along trying to find the lost library book. That part worked, and it made for an interesting read.

What I didn’t like, was after awhile the eccentric characteristics and a lot of the actions by certain characters became redundant after awhile, and started to bug me. The quirks of the characters were funny at first, but when it just happened over and over every time the character came onto the pages, it started to make me lose interest.

But for the most part, it may not have been a spectacular read, but a funny read for a raining day, that entertained me for a while, I probably won’t continue with the series, but I’m glad I tried the book and author, because it made for a good laugh.

Would I recommend it to read: Hmm. If you like comedic/satire type books I'd say give this a try. Or if you're looking to try out something very different than the usual mystery books out there. But overall I'm not sure this book is for everyone.

What to read next: If you enjoyed the book, the I'd say give the second book in the series a go (Mr. Dixon Disappears)

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 1st in a Series Challenge, 10/10 Challenge,
100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Bibli0philic Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Global Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo, New Author Challenge, Reading Western Europe Challenge,
Support Your Library Challenge

Saturday, January 23

Book Review: October

Title: October

Author: Richard B. Wright

Pages: 241

Summary: In England to see his daughter, Susan, who is gravely ill, James Hillyer, a retired professor of Victorian literature, encounters by chance a man he once knew as a boy. Gabriel Fontaine, a rich and attractive American he met one summer during the war, when he was sent on a holiday to the Gaspé, is a mercurial figure, badly crippled by polio. A s an adolescent, James was both attracted to and repelled by Gabriel’s cocksure attitude and charm. He also fell hopelessly in love with Odette, a French- Canadian girl from the village, only to find himself in competition with the careless Gabriel. Now, at this random meeting over six decades later—as he struggles with the terrible possibility that he could outlive his own daughter—James is asked by Gabriel to accompany him on a final, unthinkable journey. A t last, James begins to see that all beginnings and endings are inexorably linked.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book wasn’t a bad book, it was a well written story, I just couldn’t connect to it, or any of the characters. The author did a fantastic job at showing how his characters dealt with there mortality and there reactions knowing they will die or someone the love will die and the emotions and reactions in how the characters dealt with it. But for me it just fell short of what I think the author was trying to get at.

First of all, although I didn’t mind looking back on the past of when two of the characters first met, I found it jumped around to much from past to present. I was expecting more of a story in the present on how the characters are dealing with the currently situation. Not a past event. Also, overall I found the story jumped around a lot, often going on little sidetracks that didn’t add much to the story. Perhaps the author did this to show how one’s mind jumps from memory to memory when faced with a loved one or old acquiescence’s death, and that was just how the character was reacting to it, but I just found it far to distracting and it took away from the overall story.

Overall it just wasn’t the book for me. It isn’t bad, and I’m sure some people will enjoy it, but it just didn’t connect with me.

Would I recommend it to read: I didn't enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. If you enjoy coming of age/self examination etc books, then give it a try.

What to read next: Amsterdam

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Canadian Challenge 3, Countdown Challenge, Global Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo,
New Author Challenge, Support Your Library Challenge, Wish I Read That Challenge

Afterthought, so far a lot of my Wish I Read That Books, are disappointing me!

Friday, January 22

Book Review: The Lieutenant

Title: The Lieutenant

Author: Kate Grenville

Pages: 302

Summary: The Lieutenant is a gripping story about friendship, self-discovery, and the power of language set along the unspoiled shores of 1788 New South Wales. As a boy, Daniel Rooke was an outsider. Ridiculed in school and misunderstood by his parents, Daniel could only hope that he would one day find his place in life. When he joins the marines and travels to Australia as a lieutenant on the First Fleet, Daniel finally sees his chance for a new beginning. As his countrymen struggle to control their cargo of convicts and communicate with nearby Aboriginal tribes, Daniel constructs an observatory to chart the stars and begin the work he prays will make him famous. But the place where they have landed will prove far more revelatory than the night sky. Out on his isolated point, Daniel comes to intimately know the local Aborigines and forges a remarkable connection with one girl that will change the course of his life. The Lieutenant is a remarkable story about the poignancy of a friendship that defies linguistic and cultural barriers, and shows one man that he is capable of exceptional courage

My Rating: 5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I saw this book multiple times last year on other blogger review sites, so I wrote it down in my TBR list, and finally decided to read it, and unfortunately it was a bit of a let down. The book isn’t a bad book,it just wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t dislike the book, but I didn’t really like the book either.

First of all, I couldn’t connect to the characters, their lives past by before me, but not one character seemed stand out, and I wasn’t interested in any of the characters lives, or growth throughout the book. I just watched them for a short time, and forgot about them not long after. There wasn’t much to the characters in fact I think I could say they were fairly one dimensional.

Secondly, the premise of the story was something that normally would have been interesting to me, having two people from two very different cultures come together and try to learn the others language, communicate with each other and build a friendship sounded like an interesting story but, it didn’t work well. I found the characters to have no chemistry with each other, so their friendship just didn’t come out the way it was intended. Also I just found there wasn’t much happening in the story to keep me engaged. The events just passed by and I didn’t give them a second thought. There could have been a lot of questions raised in the story, communication between two cultures, colonization by Europeans in Native lands and the issues that arise from that, ignorance of Europeans when they come to a new land full of “savages”, but the story just seamed to fall flat of that, or it just wasn’t executed in the way I thought it would be.

Overall the book just wasn’t for me.

On a side note this cover of the edition I have and the covers for the other editions are all very lovely.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure I would. I just couldn't get into the book or the characters. It's not a bad book, but it's not one I'd recommend.

What to read next: I'm not sure what I'd recommend to read next. Possibly look into more historical fiction set in Australia, or set during the time (late 1700's)

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Category Challenge, 100+ Challenge,
A - Z Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Global Challenge, Historical Reading Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo, New Author Challenge, Support Your Library Challenge, Wish I Read That


Michelle of The True Book Addict has been kind enough to pass on this award to me, the Prolific Blogger Award. So thank you so much for thinking of me and passing it along.

A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!

2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners. (Click here for the Mr. Linky page.)

My Prolific Blogger Awardies:

1) Eva of a Striped Arm Chair
2) Marg of Reading Adventures
3) Amanda of the Zen Leaf
4) Kristi of the Story Siren
5)Beth of Beth Fish Reads
6) Rebecca of Lost in Books
7) S. Krishna of S. Krishna's Books

Wednesday, January 20

Book Review: The Professor

Title: The Professor

Author: Charlotte Brontë

Pages: 199

Summary: The Professor was the first novel that Charlotte Brontë completed. Rejected by the publisher who took on the work of her sisters in 1846--Anne's Agnes Grey and Emily's Wuthering Heights--it remained unpublished until 1857, two years after Charlotte Brontë's death. Like Villette (1853), The Professor is based on her experiences as a language student in Brussels in 1842. Told from the point of view of William Crimsworth, the only male narrator that she used, the work formulated a new aesthetic that questioned many of the presuppositions of Victorian society. Brontë's hero escapes from a humiliating clerkship in a Yorkshire mill to find work as a teacher in Belgium, where he falls in love with an impoverished student-teacher, who is perhaps the author's most realistic feminist heroine.

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Out of all the Brontë’s, Charlotte has been my favourite, and although I’ve only read two of her other works, two others sitting on my shelf sound interesting. So I decided to read her first novel she ever wrote and I have to say, I came out unsatisfied. Her elegant and enchanting writing style still impresses me she did have a talent to bring the reader into to her novels, and make them have trouble setting them down due to her style of writing. Unfortunately the story it self was rather bland. Not a lot happens, the characters are plain and dull, many times a little to melancholy for my liking, and over all I just found that the story passed by and was easily forgettable once you were done. If it wasn’t for Brontë’s lovely style of writing, I think I would have fallen asleep on the book each time I tried to read it, but she has something about her voice that makes you want to keep reading.
Here’s an example

“A lamp, burning under a shade of ground-glass, showed a handsome apartment, wainscoted with oak. Supper was laid on the table. By the fireplace, standing as if waiting for our entrance, appeared a lady…” (pg 8).

It’s passages such as that one, that make me want to gobble up her books. I just wished this particular one had a little something more to it, even better characters would have made a world of difference. Overall, not the best Bronte book out there, good for the style of writing, but not for the overall story itself.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure if I would or not. It was fairly boring of a story, wonderful style of writing that any Bronte/Classical/Victorian fan would enjoy, but the story itself is very boring.

What to read next: Other works by Charlotte Brontë.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 18th & 19th Century Challenge,
52 in 52 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, All About the Brontes Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo, Reading Western Europe, Support Your Library Challenge, Typically British

Book Review: The Heretic Queen

Title: The Heretic Queen

Author: Michelle Moran

Pages: 370

Summary: In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I really enjoyed the book, and at times found it hard to put down. Although it was a little slow in the beginning it eventually picked up, creating a very interesting story of love, power and politics set in Ancient Egypt. The setting is what originally drew me to the book, I’ve been in a bit of Egyptian phase lately, which was part of the reason why it was hard to put down, because I was wanting more information on the time period. I’m unsure how historically accurate the book is, I am familiar with the characters, places, Gods etc by name and I know a little background information on each, but not enough to say how accurate the story is.

No matter how historically accurate the book may or may not be, I found it to be well done. I enjoyed the characters, and found I could easily root them on or hope for there downfall if you didn’t like them. I was sucked into the romance of Ramses and Nefertarti, even though I normally aren’t a big fan of the romantic side of books, I found myself hoping for the best for the two. Which shows the author is talented if she is able to do that for me. Kudos for the author there. But just overall, the cast of characters as a whole was very well done. As a reader, you were fairly invested in the outcome of their lives and wanted the best for them, and you are able to enjoy watching them grow as a character too.

The writing style was well done, I did feel that the tone it self seemed to be geared towards a younger audience, it reminded me at times of a young adult book, a more mature young adult book, but a young adult book nonetheless. So it’s a bit of a negative/positive mixed together for me. I don’t have a problem with YA novels, but I was expecting a different tone then what I got. The only other issue I had was the book often reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha. It had a lot of parallels to the whole story, it was something that if you’ve read both books you’d notice, but I found that although it was a noticeable characteristic of the book, I was still able to enjoy it, because the characters, historical background and culture aspects of the book were well done.

Overall a well done story, with some very interesting characters and look into an Ancient Culture, and well worth reading and now has me anxious to read some of Moran’s other works.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes I would. It is a very intersting story, and if you enjoy Ancient Egypt or cultures, then differently give it a try. Also if you enjoy comming of age stories, than this is also a book for you. And finally if you enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha, then again, this is the book for you. There is a compainion/prequel to this book called Nefertiti, you don't have to read it fist (I didn't), but it might be best you did. This book doesn't really give anything to spoilerific away, (well some stuff given away I might know from what little I know of Egyptian history), but over all they explain enough from the first book so you understand what they're referring to, but not enough to ruin the book.

What to read next: Nefertiti (if you didn't read it first), Cleopatra's Daughter, Memoirs of a Geisha

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Global Challenge, Historical Reading Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo,
New Author Challenge, Support Your Library Challenge, What's in a Name Challenge,
Wish I Read That Challenge

Monday, January 18

In My Mail Box, Sort of.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of the Story Siren, where we can share the books we received in the mail, bought, swapped or picked up from the library. This is my first In My Mailbox, and this week I didn't get any swaps or books delivered in my mailbox, but I did buy some books for the week, from one of my used bookstores. My shelves are bursting now because eight books followed me home today, but I'm happy with my purchases (only cost me $14.92 for 8 books!)

They are:

1) The Outsider - Albert Camus (I realized when I brought the book home it had been underlined and written in. Blasphemy I tell you! But it's still readable, so that's good.)

2) Alice Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll

3) The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane

4) Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens

5)The Hound of the Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
6) Study in Scarlet - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

7) Silas Marner - George Eliot (This is going to be great book for the George Eliot Mini Challenge)

8) North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell (This will also be a good choice for the Elizabeth Gaskell Mini Challenge. And I've almost bought the book multiple times. But instead of paying the 10.99 doe it, I paid 1.99. Now that's a bargain!)

So that's what was in my mailbox, although technically they didn't come from my mailbox, but I guess, if I wanted I could shove them in the mail box, walk away and come back and claim they were in fact in my mailbox at one point.... hmmm. Also, I may have to look into some bookmoch/swap or paperback swap. I have a few books I don't want, so if I could send these off to new homes and give books new homes in return, then that would be great. Any suggestions as to which one I should use? I know theres a bunch out there, but don't know which to use.

Oh, and I hope to have a review for The Heretic Queen Up, I finished it last night, but have been feeling a little icy most of the evening, so it may be up tomorrow. Hope you all had great finds in your mailboxs or bookstores.

Sunday, January 17

Library Loot - Jan 13 - 19

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva (A Striped Arm Chair) and Marg (ReadingAdventures) that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky on the Library Loot Page any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

First Im a little late with this, but I attempted to do a Vlog entry. Which was hard, because my laptop is old (by old I mean 3 years) and doesn't have a built in web camera. My USB web camera is about 7 years old, and doesnt have the driver disc, and even if it did, it's apparently not compatible with VISTA (which is the first time I'd have had a real issue with it). So I borrowed my moms mini notebook (1o inch laptop, its so cute) and two attempts of laughing at myself and three attempts of making a vlog I could actually publish. I was happy. I mean I won't win an oscar, but it was working. But I had two issues which I'm not sure how to fix, so if you Vlog Vets out there have any clue to make a good vlog let me know. Here's problem one. Images blurriness with movement. I found that when I moved it looked like I was a blur. Which wasn't too bad of an issue, because for the most part I wasn't doing to much movement. My big issue was the sound was severely out of sync with the rest of the video, to the point it was distracting. I was using windows movie maker. If that helps. Other than that I just clicked through the default settings and pressed record. If anyone has tips as to what settings, programs let me know.

Okay so back to the Library Loot

Between my last edition of Library Loot and now, I've gone to the library three times. I went back on the 9th to return a DVD and a couple of books followed me home, despite I had four waiting to be read from the previous visit. Opps!
They Were:
Lost Symbol by Dan Brown Which has since been returned. Review is already up. The Other two books I brought home were:

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran (which I'm reading right now)
October by Richard B Wright (which I've seen in the bookstore a lot and many times thought about bring it home.)
Don't you just love the cover?

The on friday (the day of the almost vlog), I went to the library to return some books and pick up 5 holds/requests I had, because they all came in at the same time, for the most part. Some came in on the Thursday, but I knew the others would be ready by Friday so I waited until they had come in. The books are:

Armdale by Wilkie Collins (the really old book on the furthest left, which is a little worse for wear, but seems to have all the pages)
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (on the plus side of no vlog, there isn't me butcher this poor guys name)
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran (I didn't plan on reading both books so close together, but this book came sooner than I thought)
The Mobile Library Mysteries: Case of the Missing Library Books by Ian Sansom (using this for the Reading Western Europe Challenge Northren Ireland portion)
The Lieutenant by Kate Greenvile

So now I have 10 books checked out from the library. Because of Last weeks Left Overs which are

Pandora's Star by Peter Hamilton The Professor by Charlotte Bronte Little Giant of Aberdeen County - which I can't read because at somepoint someone or something damaged or ate a portion of the book. Yes I said ate. I noticed it last night that some of the pages looked dadmaged just by look at it it sitting on the shelf. Water damaged almost, so I went to investigate to see how bad the damage was, in case it was bad enough to prevent me from reading it. And boy was I suprised to see damaged pages, and 6 pages in a row with larges chunks out of the corners missing so large portions of the text are missing. Seriously who the hell does that? I understand you might have pets or small children who get a hold of things and damage them. But if you damage something from the library bring it to the librarians attention, so when the person who gets the book after you isn't screwed over!

Alright sorry for the rant, but I'm very annoyed by this, because now I have to be the one to explain to the librarian that I got this book and its damaged and it wasn't me, and now I want a different edition of the book so I can read it. Lucky for me the librarian knows me, sort of, because I'm always there, but still. This goes beyound bending the pages of the book or spill a drop of coffee! Something/one actually ate part of the book!

And finally here's a picture of all my books nicely stacked waiting to be read. Notice nothing/no one is eating them?

Saturday, January 16

Book Review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Pages: 321

Summary: A colonel receives five seeds in the mail--and dies within weeks. A young bride disappears immediately after her wedding. An old hat and a Christmas goose are the only clues to a stolen jewel. A son is accused of his father's murder. These mysteries--and many more--are brought to the house on Baker Street where detective Sherlock Holmes resides. No case is too tricky for the world's most famous sleuth and his incredible powers of deduction.

This collection had 12 Mysteries listed below

1) Scandal in Bohemia
2) A Case of Identity
3) The Read-Headed League
4) The Boscombe Valley Mystery
5) The Five Orange Pips
6) The Man With the Twisted Lip
7) The Blue Carbuncle
8) The Speckled Band
9) The Engineer's Thumb
10) The Noble Bachelor
11) The Beryl Coronet
12) The Copper Beeches

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was my first experience with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, and I say I’m impressed. I’ve heard about Sherlock Holmes through folk lore, but I never realized how much of an amusing character he is. In fact he’s up there with some of my all time favourite characters. I never realized how eccentric Holmes was until I read the book and watched the movie. I knew he was a very intelligent and sometimes unconventional person, but I thought he’d have more of a stuffy British stereotype personality/know-it all. Although he is a bit of a know-it-all, his “bohemian” lifestyle and characteristics makeup for that, his character is deeply flawed, yet he’s a genius at solving crimes and reasoning skills.

The short stories them selves were well done, they weren’t as engaging as I thought they would have been, but still well done and shows the variety of cases Sherlock takes on. My favourites were The Scandal in Bohemia and the Blue Carbuncle. The Man with the Twisted Lip also had its moments. All the short stories had a very similar formula, so reading them all in just a few days wasn’t the best plan, but still they were very enjoyable, mainly because of Sherlock. (Fictional character crush on Sherlock! I’m such a dweeb!)

One thing I wasn’t expecting was the tone of the writing, it might have been because it’s a newer edition that, by the cover design, seems to be geared towards young adults, so the text translation was altered to be an easier read. Even if that was the case, I still found my self pulled in by Doyle’s writing and story telling skills and I’m looking forward to reading more by him.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a nice introduction to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as Sherlock Holmes. The short mysteries are nice light reads, yet contain a very interesting group of characters. Not to mention, I find Sherlock Holmes a very intriguing character, one I think all bibliophiles/book geeks/nerds would enjoy.

What to read next: More Sherlock Holmes. He's a fun character, so if you enjoy him I'd say read more. Perhaps something by Wilkie Collins, if you want a more in-depth and longer mystery story.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Centuries Challenge, Marple-Poirot-Holmes Challenge, New Author Challenge, Reading Through Western Europe Challenge, Support Your Library Challenge, Typically British Challenge

Afterthought: The movie was well done, I think they captured Sherlock Holme's character well. They exaggerated all of his quirks a lot more that they were in the books and the movie had a lot more action/was fast paced, but I think they did a good job at adapting it into a movie.

Friday, January 15

The Book List Meme Week One

This ia a new meme hoasted by Rebecca of Lost in Books

The way you do the meme is simple: (Link to Meme Page)
  • There is a different topic each week, which will be posted here.
  • You write a post on your own blog about the topic.
  • The post will be a list of 3 books pertaining to the topic. So, for example, if the topic were, say, 3 Books That Make You Want to Go Shopping, you would write a list of 3 books that when you read them made you want to max out your credit card. I have no idea what those books would be, but you get the picture.
  • You may include photos with your lists, especially if that helps illustrate your point.
  • You link back to the week's post here on Lost in Books in your post so if someone else wants to play, they can find their way here.
  • Then you come here and leave your link in the Mr. Linky so other people can find your post and your list!
This Week's Topic is:

3 Book Titles That Made Me Laugh Out Loud When I First Read Them

My List
1) The Undomestic Goddess by Sophia Kinsella
2) Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes (although most of her books are pretty funny)
3) I am America (and So Can You) by Stephen Colbert

Honourable Mention to any part in the Harry Potter Series with the Weasly Twins.

Thursday, January 14

Book Review: The Lost Symbol

Title: The Lost Symbol

Author: Dan Brown

Pages: 508

Summary: WHAT WAS LOST WILL BE FOUND...Washington DC: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned at the last minute to deliver an evening lecture in the Capitol Building. Within moments of his arrival, however, a disturbing object - gruesomely encoded with five symbols - is discovered at the epicentre of the Rotunda. It is, he recognises, an ancient invitation, meant to beckon its recipient towards a long-lost world of hidden esoteric wisdom. When Langdon's revered mentor, Peter Solomon - philanthropist and prominent mason - is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes that his only hope of saving his friend's life is to accept this mysterious summons and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon finds himself quickly swept behind the facade of America's most historic city into the unseen chambers, temples and tunnels which exist there. All that was familiar is transformed into a shadowy, clandestine world of an artfully concealed past in which Masonic secrets and never-before-seen revelations seem to be leading him to a single impossible and inconceivable truth. A brilliantly composed tapestry of veiled histories, arcane icons and enigmatic codes, The Lost Symbol is an intelligent, lightning-paced thriller that offers surprises at every turn. For, as Robert Langdon will discover, there is nothing more extraordinary or shocking than the secret which hides in plain sight...

My Rating: 2/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: To start off, I should say I’ve read Dan Brown’s work in the past, and I did like the previous two books in the Robert Langdon series. They weren’t fantastic reads by any stretch, but good for a quick mindless read. But, I’m not a big fan of Dan Brown, and wasn’t planning on reading his book, but because I’m doing a thriller category for a challenge, (even though I have little books I own, or little experience in the thriller/suspense department), I decided to give him another try. I regret it. I stopped reading it twice, but because I am one of those people who have to finish a book once I start them, I pushed my self through. Like with a band-aid, read the book quickly, and the pain will be over.

First of all, the book could be about half as long as it really is. There was so much drivel and pointless chapters in the book, you wonder what the author and editors were thinking. But that was the best of the bad. I get it’s a thriller, so you want to have suspense built up, making the reader want to keep reading all night, in order to find out what happens next in the story. But does every single chapter really need to end in a cliff-hanger? I found that because every chapter ended with a cliff hanger, ninety-percent of the time of which shouldn’t have even been a cliff-hanger, it took away from the “important” cliff-hangers when they finally did come. Not to mention, it was made so obvious it was a cliff-hanger I’m surprised there weren’t the words “dun, dun, dun” written at the end of each chapter just to tell the reader, that yes, it is in fact a cliff-hanger.

Secondly, show don’t tell! This book breaks that rule tenfold. I don’t need to be told what every character is thinking when the other characters are talking to them. It becomes redundant after a while when we’re explained that the character is in disbelief, only to have thoughts of the character in italics to show that they’re thinking. It was just implied the character is shocked, or in disbelief or thinks the other character is insane by the description on their face/body language, it’s not needed to then explain it again through the characters thoughts. Pick one or the other not both. Also I don’t need an in-depth description of every action or movement a character takes. Telling me how the character pushed up their sleeve up their arm, in order for them to look down at their wrist because said sleeve covered their watch just to tell the time is a waste of time and causes the reader to lose interest fast and it takes away from the actual story line. Telling the reader he checked to see the time is good enough.
One HUGE issue I had with the “show don’t tell” aspect of the book, was at one point the author basically tells the reader he’s about to reveal a plot twist. “Ironically, this same code had been a plot twist in a mediocre thriller Langdon had read years ago” (Pg 355). I’m sorry, but stating that is a bit of an insult to the reader’s intelligence. He might as well have stated plot twist ahead, be ready!

What I liked about the book. Hmm the idea behind the story does have some potential. If written differently and if the story wasn’t a huge cliché for 500 pages, it could have been a lot more enjoyable than it was. Dan Brown’s overall idea behind the story isn’t a bad one. It isn’t overly great either, but the idea has the potential for a good, mindless read for a rainy day.

Overall, not a very good read, and certainly not worth all the hype it gets. But, one good thing about Dan Brown, his books are far better than their movie counterparts.

Would I recommend it to read: No. I wouldn't. If you like Dan Brown, read the book. Otherwise avoid it, at all costs. (Although it is a rather thick and heavy book, it could make a good paper weight, door stop, or stepping stool.)

What to read next: Thrillers, that haven't been written by Dan Brown. I'm not a big thriller reader, although trying to get into them. Hmm, I'd say if you're a big thriller reader, use the tags thriller on library thing and pick one. If you like Dan Brown, and haven't read the other books in the Langdon series read them. (I did enjoy Angels and Demons).

Challenges: Read and Review, Pages Read Challenge, 10/10 Category Challenge, 52 in 52 Challenge,
100+ Challenge, A - Z ChallengeCountdown Challenge, Global Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo, Support Your Library Challenge

Monday, January 11

Musing Mondays

This weeks musing monday's grabbed my eyes, so I thought I'd jump in and participate.

Are your bookshelves strictly books only? Or have knick-knacks invaded? Do your shelves also shelve DVDs? Photos? Why not snap a photo – I’m sure we all like to spy on other’s shelves!  Host Site Here
Okay, so this I've answered this question a few times on here, but my book situation has grown since then. So here's some pictures of my shelves now.

 The picture on the left is a picture of the main two shelves, where I've had to stack books on the very top, just to make room for all the books I own.The other one is mainly a DVD shelf, although the top on as you can see is for books, since I've jammed pack the other two.

These are all of my non-fiction books, there is no room on the shelves, and I don't like double stacking my books because I like them to be in order and visible. Not to mention I worry my book shelves might collapse under the weight

I do have a few nick-knacks. Stuffed bears ontop of the books on the top shelf (they used to just be bears up there, but the collection is to big now to do that) and I have a Spike figure from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in front of the DVD collection. Other than that my book shelves for the books are clutter free, and organized in alphabetical order by author, and sub categorized by title and series. (Except the non-fiction books, which are organized by there would be Dewey, or as close as I could get them). (The DVDS are by TV sereis in alpha order and so where the regular DVDs but they got disorganized around the same time my DVD player started malfunctioning.) But that's my collection all 296 (not including the doubles of HP and LOTR/Hobbit)

Overall I'm super OCD about how my books are organized and I dislike having them out of order. Or being borrowed.