Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (9-30-11)

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope that you had a great September (where did that month go?!? Did it fly by for anyone else?) and here's hoping for an even better October. If you are an old follower, welcome back! If you are hopping through, then welcome to my blog! Go ahead, look around, and see what I'm all about. Now, onto the Friday fun ...

Jen at Crazy For Books asks:

“In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”?” Click here for 2010-11 list in PDF format. You can also click. HERE to view past years and choose from any of those titles!

My favorite banned book is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and from this year's list, it would have to be The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. I still find it difficult to believe in this day and age that people are banning books. 

Parajunkee asks:

What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character?

Such a good question! And there are so many books that I would love to be turned into movies. I just finished Call Me Irrestistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips last nite, and the whole time I was reading it, I kept on thinking, "This would make such a great movie." And who would as I cast as the main characters? Hmm ... For Ted Beaudine, I would have to say Ryan Gosling. I think he could totally pull it off (plus, who doesn't love seeing Ryan Gosling without his shirt on?!?)

As for the female lead of Meg Koranda, I really don't know who would play her. I could see Rachel McAdams doing it, or Anne Hathaway (think The Princess Diaries). She has the comedic timing to make it work.

Which books would you like to see turned into movies? I bet everyone will have their favorites with very specific casting, haha. Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Into Reading 2011: Week 1 Question

Fall Into Reading Challenge is hosted by Callapidder Days. Each Wednesday, she will post a different question. This week's question:

How much do book reviews influence your decision to 
acquire and/or read a book?

Other book reviews definitely influence by decision to read books! I don't rely on professional reviews so much, but knowing what fellow bloggers say about a book influences my decision to read or not to read. It also introduces me to a lot of books that I might not normally read. There are several bloggers who I love, and if they read something that isn't something I typically enjoy, and they like it, I'm more likely to check it out because of their positive review of it.

What about you? What role do reviews play in your decision to read a book

Waiting on Wednesday (9-28-11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you get to highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly awaiting. This week, my pick is The True Memoirs of Little K: A Novel by Adrienne Sharp (expected publication date: October 25, 2011).

Synopsis (from Exiled in Paris, the frail, elderly Mathilde Kschessinska sits down to write her memoirs. A lifetime ago, she was the vain, ambitious, impossibly charming prima ballerina assoluta of the tsar's Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. Kschessinska's riveting storytelling soon thrusts us into a world lost to time: that great intersection of the Russian court and the Russian theater. Through Kschessinska's memories of her own triumphs and defeats, we witness the stories that changed history, from the seething beginnings of revolution to the end of a grand, decadent way of life that belonged to the nineteenth century. Based on fact, The True Memoirs of Little K is "an engrossing tale of love, loss, and history" (The Wichita Eagle).

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (9-27-11)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. This week, the topic is:

Books I Want to Reread

1) A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith - this is my favorite book of all time, but I haven't read it in a few years. I'm thinking I might get around to it before the year is up!

2) Harry Potter series by JK Rowling - I have already read each book at least five times, but I never grow tired of them.

3) Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom - something simple but so profound.

4) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris - hilarious. Something that had me laughing outloud and wanting to read more of Sedaris' work.

5) Bossypants by Tina Fey - another hilarious book, this one from a woman that I think everyone can relate to in some way. She tells it like it is.

6) The Help by Kathryn Stockett - one of my favorite books from this year, I know it will always have a spot on my bookshelf. Not anytime soon, but I will reread it sometime down the road.

7) Postsecret by Frank Warren - I know, these are more like coffee table books. But reading people's secrets and knowing that you share those same thoughts/feelings with someone else ... it makes you realize that you aren't alone.

8) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - I read this back in high school, but I think I may get more out of it now that I'm a little older.

9) Night by Elie Weisel - another book that I read back in high school. I realized it's importance back then, but I feel like I just need to reread it.

10) Testimony by Anita Shreve - one of my favorites. It's due for a reread.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Clara and Mr. Tiffany
Author: Susan Vreeland
Publisher: Random House
Published: December 22, 2010
Hardcover: 432 pages
Source: borrowed from library

My Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from It’s 1893, and at the Chicago World’s Fair, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows, which he hopes will honor his family business and earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women’s division. Publicly unrecognized by Tiffany, Clara conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which he is long remembered. Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the seemingly insurmountable challenges that she faces as a professional woman, which ultimately force her to protest against the company she has worked so hard to cultivate. She also yearns for love and companionship, and is devoted in different ways to five men, including Tiffany, who enforces to a strict policy: he does not hire married women, and any who do marry while under his employ must resign immediately. Eventually, like many women, Clara must decide what makes her happiest—the professional world of her hands or the personal world of her heart.

My Thoughts: I have always found Tiffany lamps to be beautiful works of art, so when I heard about a book that took place in the Tiffany studios, I knew I had to read it. I had no idea that there was a woman's department at Tiffany's (the only one among the glass artisans at that time), and they produced those extravagant lamps that are so iconic. And when I read the description and learned that Clara Driscoll was a real person, I couldn't wait to read it. Unfortunately, the book just didn't pull me in and I never connected to Clara or any of the other characters.

First off, I kept on thinking that there wasn't much of a plot. Clara is struggling with her place as a woman in a society that's progressing past the Victorian ideals. She loves her work but also wishes to have the love of a man. After her first marriage ends, she goes back to work at Tiffany's (Mr. Tiffany does not allow married women to work in his studios), and it is at this time that Tiffany's begins to produce those iconic lamps. After that's established in the first few chapters, there doesn't seem to be much of anything going on. Clara goes to work, falls in love, fights for her lamps ... there was activity, but it didn't connect together into a plot!

Secondly, the characters. There were quite a few, but they weren't intriguing. They are all members of the art world, whether they write, paint, design in the Tiffany's studios, or something else. It was sometimes hard to keep track of everyone! Some characters only make brief apperanaces here and there, while others come back every few chapters. There were just too many people for me, and too many of them didn't contribute anything to the story.

I did love Susan Vreeland's writing, though. It was so descriptive and it's obvious how much research she did for this novel. However, if she had just written a nonfiction book on the life of Clara Driscoll instead of a work of fiction, it might have been more interesting. As anyone else read this book? I really wanted to like it and was so disappointed when it didn't live up to my expectations. I would love to know if someone read it and felt differently. Please let me know!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: You Don't Sweat Much For a Fat Girl by Celia Rivenbark

You Don't Sweat Much For a Fat Girl
Author: Celia Rivenbark
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Published: August 16, 2011
ARC: 242 pages
Source: won from GoodReads

My Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from Rivenbark (You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning) naps in yoga class, supports airport profiling by the TSA, and is delighted that her Twitter antics ticked off model Kathy Ireland. In this new addition to her essay collection catalogue, she's as rebellious, irreverent, and comical as ever. The author's signature blend of social satire, quizzical musings on human nature, and over-the-top down-home humor are directed at everything from Bernie Madoff to Snuggies to people who (slowly) write (Disney character embellished) checks even when they're in an exceptionally long line at Wal-Mart. In and among the wackiness, she tempers the snark with some sweet, like her belief that President Obama's version of date night is making men everywhere look bad by comparison, her appreciation and envy of David Sedaris, and her simple yet romantic 20th wedding anniversary. Recipes and Southernisms like "crazier 'n a sprayed roach" round out the fun.

My Thoughts: I love humorists. I think when reading a humorist that matches up with your point of view, it can be truly amazing. Unfortunately, Celia Rivenbark just isn't my cup of tea. That's not to say that she isn't funny, it's just that her humor isn't something that I can relate to. Celia is a southern, middle-aged woman who is going through perimenopause, living with her husband and teenage daughter. Her essays are short, making the book easy to read. She writes like she talks, so business is "bidness". That threw me a little at first. She writes about what her life is at this moment: taking yoga classes, Christmas shopping for her family, tweeting and blogging, and keeping with the social antics of her daughter. She is very quick and she moves quickly. She makes her point and moves on. There's very little build-up which I liked a lot. Sometimes it takes forever for a humorist to make their point, but not Rivenbark. She makes it and moves on.

This is something that I will be passing along to my mom. I think she will find it hilarious because she is at the same point in her life as Rivenbark (minus the tweeting). If you are a middle-aged woman, then this is a book that you would definitely enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Into Reading Challenge 2011

Fall Into Reading is a challenge hosted by Callapidder Days. It's a low stress challenge and consists of this: creating a list of books that you wish to read this fall. Then, from September 23 (today) until December 21, see how many of these books you can read. Your list can be as long or as short as you want.

For me, there are a few books that I would love to read this fall, and they are:

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  2. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  3. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  5. a Kristin Hannah novel (I don't know which one, but I love her books!)
  6. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
  7. Emily and Einstein  by Linda Francis Lee
  8. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
  9. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Allison
  10. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
There are so many more that I want to read, but I'm having trouble remembering all of them! So, what are you planning on reading this fall?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (9-21-11)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are anxiously awaiting. This week, my pick is: The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer (expected publication date: October 25, 2011).

Synopsis (from When the wife of renowned art critic Daniel Lichtmann plunges to her death, she is not alone. Lying next to her is Benjamin Wind, the very artist Daniel most championed. Dedicating himself to uncovering the secrets of their relationship, Daniel discovers a web of mysteries leading back to pre--World War II Vienna. Ambitious, haunting, and stunningly written,The Marriage Artist is an "elaborate psycho-political-sexual puzzle, with...hard truths, startling visions, and eerie insights into the mystical and memorializing powers of art, and that endless hunger we call love" (Booklist).

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (9-20-11)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, they post a different prompt and you get to create your own top ten list. It's a great way to meet other bloggers and add even more books to your huge TBR pile! This week's topic:

Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read But Me

1) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - don't worry though, it's in my TBR pile and I hope to get to it this fall or winter!

2) The Distant Hours by Kate Morton - everyone raves about this book and I have yet to read it. And everytime I go to borrow it from the library, it's already on hold for 5 other people! Hopefully, I can get my hands on it soon!

3) Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson - another book that is in my TBR pile and waiting to be read.

4) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens - we never read this one in high school or college, but I'm hoping to get to it someday.

5) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - EVERYONE has read this book but me! And with so many people reading it, I keep on wanting to see what all the hype is about. Maybe I will get it sometime this year.

6) The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown - I bought this book last spring and it's waiting for my in my TBR pile.

7) The Very Thought of You by Alison Rosie - I know that everyone hasn't read this book, but it's something that really appeals to me (WWII), so it seems read that I haven't read it yet. I will get there someday! 

8) The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy - once again, I know everyone hasn't read this book, but I've seen so many great reviews about it that I feel like everyone is talking about it but me!

Well, I could only come up with eight this week. What books do you feel like everyone has read but you? I'm excited to see what everyone says!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Audiobook Review: Dream When You're Feeling Blue

Dream When You're Feeling Blue
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Narrator: Elizabeth Berg
Publisher: Random House
Published: May 1, 2007
CD: 8 discs
Source: borrowed from library

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from As the novel opens, Kitty and Louise Heaney say good-bye to their boyfriends Julian and Michael, who are going to fight overseas. On the domestic front, meat is rationed, children participate in metal drives, and Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller play music that offers hope and lifts spirits. For Kitty, a confident, headstrong young woman, the departure of her boyfriend and the lessons she learns about love, resilience, and war will bring a surprise and uncover a secret, and will lead her to a radical action on behalf of those she loves that will change the Heaney family forever. The lifelong consequences of the choices the sisters make are at the heart of this superb novel about the power of love and the enduring strength of family.

My Thoughts: This is the first audiobook review I've ever done, so bear with me!

Set in Chicago during World War II, Elizabeth Berg takes the listener into the world of the Heaney family. The three girls, Louise, Kitty, and Tish, are all young women surrounded by the war. Kitty and Louise have boyfriends who have just enlisted, and Tish has several young men that she corresponds with. There are also three younger brothers, along with their parents, and they all reside in one house (with one bathroom!). Following this family through the war as they all make sacrifices, from rationing and started victory gardens to giving away their toys for a metal drive. The effects of the war are made evident in this book. Berg does a great job of making the reader feel as if they are living through this time and also sacrificing things for the sake of the war effort.

All of the characters are real. The main character is Kitty and you see how she deals with the war. While I found Kitty to be a great character, she did get to be a bit too much towards the last quarter of the book. I was starting to predict what she would do or say before she did it. It made the last part of the book go a bit slow, but I still enjoyed it. Since this is my first audiobook, I don't know how most books are narrated. Elizabeth Berg was also the narrator for the book and I think she did a great job. Since she created those characters, I felt that she really brought them to life and read with such enthusiasm and understanding. The only thing that detracted from her reading was her accents. The parents, Frank and Margaret, are Irish. There were times when the accents were dead on, and other times, they sounded a bit German. It didn't ruin my experience of the book in anyway, but just was somewhat comical at points.

This was a great audiobook and I will definitely be checking out more of Berg's audiobooks in the future.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Results of my 100 Follower Giveaway!

I want to thank everyone for entering my very first giveaway! I don't know how to take a screen cap of the generator, but the winner is #3 ...

Beth D.!!!!!!!!!

Congrats Beth! I've emailed you so I can get your address to send you a $15 Amazon giftcard!

Thank you for everyone who entered. After successfully hosting my own giveaway, I'm already looking forward to my next one (I'm thinking around mid-October), so make sure to check back often!

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Publisher: Knopf
Published: June 16, 2009
Paperback: 416 pages
Source: purchased at Borders

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from A sparkling debut novel: a tender story of friendship, a witty take on liberal arts colleges, and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose. Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with her grandmother’s rosary beads in hand and a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancé she left behind in Savannah; Sally, pristinely dressed in Lilly Pulitzer, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a “Riot: Don’t Diet” T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately. Together they experience the ecstatic highs and painful lows of early adulthood: Celia’s trust in men is demolished in one terrible evening, Bree falls in love with someone she could never bring home to her traditional family, Sally seeks solace in her English professor, and April realizes that, for the first time in her life, she has friends she can actually confide in. When they reunite for Sally’s wedding four years after graduation, their friendships have changed, but they remain fiercely devoted to one another. Schooled in the ideals of feminism, they have to figure out how it applies to their real lives in matters of love, work, family, and sex. For Celia, Bree, and Sally, this means grappling with one-night stands, maiden names, and parental disapproval—along with occasional loneliness and heartbreak. But for April, whose activism has become her life’s work, it means something far more dangerous.
Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencementnot only captures the intensity of college friendships and first loves, but also explores with great candor the complicated and contradictory landscape facing young women today.

My Thoughts: For so long, I have been searching for a book written for young women in their 20s. When you think about it, there aren't many books that speak to women this age. And it's a difficult time to go through. Many have graduated college and are starting on their careers, trying to find love and get married, becoming a true independent, and learning who they are. J. Courtney Sullivan realizes what a tumultuous period this is in a woman's life and chronicles how four women each go through this phase of their lives.

There are four characters who narrate this story: Celia, Sally, April, and Bre. They meet their freshman year at Smith College, an all-girls school in New England. They come from different walks of life: Bre is a Georgian girl with a fiance; Sally just lost her mother and is growing up without an older woman to help her; April is the rebel, promoting equality for all; and Celia is the most normal of the girls, coming with no boyfriend, no baggage (well, she has the vodka in her suitcases, but not much else). They seem so different from one another but they become best friends. 

As usual, I don't want to give away too much of the plot. Each chapter is told by one of the girls, so you get to know each of them as individuals and also understand who they are and what they mean to the other girls. They recap how they met at Smith and how they grew through college. Sullivan seamlessly meshes the past and present in each chapter. It feels as if each girl is just talking to you over coffee. And each girl has something that you can relate to. For some people, it might be Sally planning her wedding. For others, it might be Celia, grappling with her relationships with men. Each has something that you can relate to as a woman.

I could gush about this book for hours. I have already recommened it to several friends! It's a great book for a young 20-something girl, or anyone who remembers that time and all the changes that come with it. Sullivan perfectly captures the joy and uncertainty of that age in her debut novel.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (9-16-11)

Happy Friday everybody! I'm so excited that the weekend is finally here ... for once, I have Saturday AND Sunday off. I work in the restaurant industry, so this never happens! I have some exciting plans for this weekend ... going to the local amusement park this weekend and then the Steeler game on Sunday. If you are new to my blog or didn't know, I'm a HUGE Steeler fan, so I'm pumped for this! I could go on and on about how excited I am for this weekend, but I will refrain. Now, onto the Friday fun!

Jen at Crazy For Books asks:

“As a book blogger, how do you introduce yourself in your profile?”

Well, I just try to tell everyone a little bit about myself without giving too much away. I let everyone know where I'm from and how old I am, that way you have a bit of perspective on who I am. I am 23, so I don't have any kids or a husband, so my reading (and my life) aren't as structured right now. I also mention what I like to do in my free time and what I do for a living. The only reason that I mention my job is that I work crazy hours, so there are times when I go days without checking out my blog. So if I don't comment back or seem inactive, that's why!

Parajunkee asks:

Q. It's that pesky magic book fairy again! She has another wish: What imaginary book world would you like to make a reality?

Well, the obvious answer is Harry Potter (who didn't answer with this?!?) but I will also come up with something besides the obvious. I read Water For Elephants this summer and was so entranced by the circus life. I would love to be swept up in that world!

So, what's your profile look like? And which imaginary book would you like to make a reality?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (9-13-11)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, they post a different topic and you get to create your own top ten list! This week's topic:

Books I Read Because Of Another Blogger
(I don't remember where I saw most of these books, so apologies if I read a book because of your review and didn't remember!)

1) Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen - so many people read this book that I can't remember where I saw it first! After reading so many rave reviews, I had to go out and get a copy of my own ... and like all the other reviews that I read, I loved it!

2) Faith: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh - quite a few bloggers had ARCs of this book and blogged about how great it was. I found the topic intriguing and after reading so many reviews, I read it myself!

3) Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah - I remember reading reviews for this book and thinking that it would make a light, chick-lit read. My goodness, was I wrong! It's a moving story of friendship ... honestly, if you haven't read it, then you need to! 

4) The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - last spring, it seemed like everyone was blogging about this book! I enjoyed it a lot and, even though I'm not a big Ernest Hemmingway fan, this was such a fascinating topic, tracing his marriage to his first wife, Hadley.

5) Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran - I know that this was reviewed on a lot of historical fiction blogs. I was skeptical reading it since I hadn't read much about the French Revolution, but I loved it! Now, I'm constantly on the look out for novels centering around this point in time.

6) The Help by Kathryn Stockett - it wasn't until I read glowing review after glowing review that I finally went out and bought my copy of The Help. I LOVED this book and want to thank everyone who wrote reviews about this book, encouraging me to read it. I'm so glad that I did.

7) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - I'm currently reading this book and after reading 70 pages, I'm hooked! I remeber seeing it on a few blogs and kept on meaning to read it. 

8) A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand - to be honest, this is any Elin Hilderbrand book. I saw so many people mention her in their summer reading lists and writing rave reviews about her books, so I decided to finally read one of her books and decide for myself. I loved it and can't wait until next summer when I read more of her books.

Well, I can only get 8 this week! What are your top ten books? I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what everyone else has and adding even more books to my TBR pile!

And, if you haven't already done so, remember to sign up for my 100 follower giveaway! Just go here to sign up!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

A Summer Affair
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Published: July 1, 2008
Paperback: 432 pages
Source: purchased at Borders

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from Claire Danner Crispin, mother of four young children and nationally renowned glassblower, bites off more than she can chew when she agrees to co-chair the Nantucket's Children Summer Gala. Claire is asked to chair the benefit, in part, because she is the former high school sweetheart of rock star Max West. Max agrees to play the gala and it looks like smooth sailing for Claire-until she promises a "museum-quality" piece of glass for the auction, offers her best friend the catering job, goes nose-to-nose with her Manhattan socialite co-chair, and begins a "good-hearted" affair with the charity's Executive Director, Lockhart Dixon. Hearts break and emotions are pushed to the limit in this riveting story of one woman's attempt to deal with loves past and present, family, business, and high-powered social pressures. Elin Hilderbrand's unique understanding of the joys and longings that animate women's lives will make this her newest summer bestseller.

My Thoughts: I was looking for the perfect book to end my summer with and Elin Hilderbrand's novel did not disappoint! Filled with sand, sun, charity, love triangles, sex, rock stars ... what wasn't there to love about this book?!? Claire lives on Nantucket with her husband and their four children. Her life is going along as normal when she is asked to cochair the annual Summer Gala benefitting the local children's charity. She agrees and what follows is an exciting adventure.

Without giving too much away, there was a lot going on in this novel but it was never too much. Hilderbrand kept it well organized, with most of the story being told from Claire's point of view, but some of the other character's also narrating portions of chapters. Each character is clear and well-defined. Claire matures as a character throughout the novel, learning from her experiences and not letting them define her. Instead, she absorbs them and understands that they will help her grow. The pace of the book was nice, too. It wasn't too fast or too slow. You were able to appreciate what was going on without feeling like it might end too soon. If I have any complaints about the book, it's these two things: one, the ending was wrapped up a little too quickly for me liking. And two, the chapters were way too long. I don't know about you, but I like chapters that are anywhere between 5-15 pages. Some of the chapters in this book were over 50 pages! And while the chapters were divided, it still just made it too long.

If you are looking for that one book to cap off your summer, then I would highly recommend this book! Or, start on that TBR pile for next summer! Either way, A Summer Affair is something that you are sure to enjoy as you take in the sun!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette
Author: Carolly Erickson
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: January 1, 1997
Hardcover: 352 pages
Source: borrowed from library

My Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life—from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution. 

Carolly Erickson takes the reader deep into the psyche of France’s doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her; her fears on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing attempted flight from France in disguise; her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined and her young son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again.

Erickson brilliantly captures the queen’s voice, her hopes, her dreads, and her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life—from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.

My Thoughts: I was wandering around the library, trying to figure out what I want to read. I saw this book and decided that it would be a good book. I enjoy reading about the French Revolution and I consider Marie Antoinette to be one of the most facinating women in history. Unfortunately, this book was a big let down. The characters were bland (including Marie), it dragged in parts, and it seemed like huge parts of the French Revolution were never mentioned. It all added up to a lackluster book and something that I was looking forward to finishing.

This is the supposed diary of Marie Antoinette, started when she was 14 years old and still living in Austria with her family. Covering such a great time span and with so much change occuring all around the globe, there was just too much that Erickson was trying to touch upon. Instead of focusing on Marie's time at Versailles, I felt that there was a lot of talk about the American Revolution. I know that this was a big occurance at the time, but I don't know how much Marie would have actually known about it. Then, when you get to the revolution, Marie seems to know nothing about what is going on. It just seems like she is whining a lot. Now, I have never been chased by a mob with pitchforks or imprisioned, but Marie just seems to constantly complain about her lack of clothing/luxuries and not the current events, which she was focusing on earlier in the book. It was just too much a difference for me. If you want Marie to be a woman in the know about world events, that's fine. But make sure that she stays that way throughout the book.

The other characters in the book were dull and lifeless. This was such a huge part of history and instead of infusing some excitement into the book, it just makes it drag. I thought that Erickson had a nice flow with her writing, so I might check out one of her other books, but this book just left me wanting something more.

Friday, September 9, 2011

100 Follower GIVEAWAY!

A few weeks ago, I hit the 100 follower mark on my blog! I was so excited to see this and decided that a celebration was in order. It's nothing fancy, but I'm giving away a $15 Amazon giftcard. So, here are the rules:

1) You must be a follower of my blog to enter the giveaway.

2) You must be a resident of the United States.

3) The giveaway will end September 16 at 11:59 pm EST.

4) To enter, please leave a comment with your name and email address. If you post about this giveaway on your blog or Twitter, I will count that as a second entry, so make sure that you mention that and post the link in your entry.

I will choose the winner using and post the results Saturday, September 17. Good luck!

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (9-9-11)

Happy Friday everybody! Even though I'm working all weekend, I'm thankful that it's Friday. And why, you may ask? Because it's the start of FOOTBALL SEASON!!!!! Seriously, it's my favorite time of the year. Like I said, I will be working ... but we have 9 TVs in our restaurant, so I will be able to watch my Steelers play the Ravens! In other news, I will my having my very first giveaway! It will be posted later today, so make sure to stop back and check it out! Now, onto the Friday fun ...

Jen at Crazy For Books asks:

Many of us primarily read one genre of books, with others sprinkled in. If authors stopped writing that genre, what genre would you start reading? Or would you give up reading completely if you couldn’t read that genre anymore?

I read from a few genres, but mostly contemporary fiction. If I couldn't read that anymore, then it would be World War II fiction or memoirs. I love both of these genres so much! I can't imagine not reading at all, even if my favorite genre was gone!

Parajunkee asks:

Have you ever wanted a villain to win at the end of a story?  If so, which one??

dsWhat a great question, and a hard one! I would say Severus Snape, but we find out that he is one of the good guys at the end. I really don't know!

Happy Friday and remember to check back for my giveaway!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (9-7-11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (release date: October 11, 2011).

Synopsis (from It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.
As Madeleine tries to understand why “it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France,” real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead—charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy—suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old “friend” Mitchell Grammaticus—who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange—resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.
Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (9-6-11)

Happy September everyone! This year has flown by and it's hard to believe that it's autumn. Since it's Tuesday, that means that it's time for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week's topic:

Sequels I'm dying to read
(I'm changing this a little since I'm not that into sequels ... it's my top ten list of books that I wish had sequels!)

1) Harry Potter - I know that this is a series, but I wanted it to go on forever! I think many people feel this same thing.

2) Commencement - I just finished this book a few days ago (review up later this month), but it was so good! I love the four girls in this book and would love to read more about them.

3) Firefly Lane - I read this book earlier this year (my review) and loved it. While it would be difficult to write a sequel to it, I would love to read about Kate's daughter and how Tully dealt with growing older.

4) The Devil Wears Prada - I LOVED this book (my review)! Seriously, it was such a delicious read and one that I didn't want to end! I would love to see how Andy handled her next job and how it would compare with Miranda Priestly's office (I don't think that anything could, but it would be interesting to see!)

5) Matters of the Heart (Emily Giffin) - I read this book a few years ago and loved the characters (I'm a big fan of Emily Giffin). It would be nice to see how everyone moves on after everything comes out.

6) To Kill a Mockingbird - who doesn't want to see Scout and Gem grow up and see what they become as adults?!?! I do!!!

7) Maine - I'm just a huge J. Courtney Sullivan fan (author of Commencement), and this book was a great summer read. I normally don't like sequels to books that are lighter, but the four women in this novel are all so well crafted, I would love to glimpse into their lives the summer following the one in the book.

8) The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown) - I know that it's a part of the Robert Langdon series, but how much longer until the new book comes out?!?! These books are so well written and addictive ... once I start reading it, I can't stop until I have finished the book! I'm anxiously looking forward to the next one!

I can only think of 8 this week! So, what sequels are you most looking forward to? (I'm hoping to add some more books to my wishlist after reading about all the awesome books with sequels!)