Friday, November 2, 2012


I know, I know, it's been forever.  Well, I have a new project I've undertaken and in fact a new blog

The project is called 6 Years, 45,000 Pages and it involves me reading through a list of 100 classic works of literature before my 30th birthday.  On the new blog I post regular updates on my progress as well as new vocabulary words I've learned and quotes that I like from the books I'm reading. 

The project is also on Facebook and Twitter so you can follow and like me there.

Hope to see you over there and happy reading!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: The Thread

DETAILS: The Thread by Victoria Hislop. Copyright 2011. Historical fiction.

SUMMARY: Set in Thessaloniki, Greece, this is a story of love and friendship that spans two World Wars.

PROS: This is a beautiful, sweeping book.  It moves at a perfect pace and is just the right length.  The setting is so real, I felt as thought I'd been to Greece after reading it and the characters are human and engaging and believable.  I often have a complaint with historical fiction that they tend to wax poetic about the scenery or the setting for far too long, but this book captured the essence without overwriting.  I loved the story and I loved the unique perspective on the World Wars from a part of Europe that seems often forgotten.

CONS: None.

BOTTOM LINE: A beautiful book.  Highly recommended.  Five stars out of five.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Book Review: Emancipation

**I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads for the purpose of writing an honest review**

DETAILS: Emancipation: A Civil War Vampire Novel, Book One of The Thirsty Ones, by Pauline Ray. Copyright 2012. Historical fantasy.

SUMMARY: When plantation owner's daughter Ella Lantry's child with her slave boyfriend is taken away from her, she is determined to get him back; even if it means teaming up with the vampires that roam the land.

PROS: This book was fast-paced and engaging.  It was a combination vampire-alternate history book which I found unique in many ways.  I liked the character of Ella who is a little innocent, but vengeful to a max. The story makes sense, the character's motivations are well thought out.

CONS: Some of the black slaves talk in such thick dialect that it can be hard to read.  I could have done without some of that.  Also some of the violence and cruelty perpetrated by the white plantation owners, while possibly realistic, was hard to stomach.  This book is the first in a trilogy and the end left quite a bit hanging, which I didn't like.

BOTTOM LINE: A good, unique historical vampire book.  Three stars out of five.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: The Happiness Project

DETAILS: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Copyright 2009. Memoir/self-help

SUMMARY: New York City writer Gretchen Rubin undertakes a one-year project to make herself happier.

PROS: This is a wonderful book and I enjoyed it very much.  Ms. Rubin is charmingly self-depreciating and funny and her book is helpful and enjoyable.  I especially enjoyed her "Secrets of Adulthood," a list of lessons she has learned as she has gotten older.   She includes comments from her blog on the subject which were interesting in that they showed other people's perspectives on the issues.  I often found myself saying, "Oh, I know exactly what she means by that!" which is something I enjoy when I read books like this.

CONS: None.

BOTTOM LINE: This book is practical and funny and reminiscent of the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love.  Five stars out of five.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: You Are Not Like Other Mothers

DETAILS: You Are Not Like Other Mothers by Angelika Schrobsdorff.  English version copyright: 2012. Original German copyright: 1992.  Historical fiction.

SUMMARY: A story of love, culture and motherhood following a family of German Jews before and during World War II.

PROS: This story was very interesting.  The author is a contemporary and reading a World War II story from the perspective of German Jews was very interesting.  The writing was very well done and the attitudes were, I imagine, very similar to those of people in those days.

CONS: The characters were not very relatable, I thought.  I didn't particularly enjoy the first third of the book and I found the mother in the story very spoiled and annoying.  Perhaps this was a product of the translation, but the author very strangely switched back and forth between first and third person, often within a single paragraph, which was very distracting.  Also, this book is divided into three sections and beyond that, there are no chapters.  Again, this may be something that got "lost in translation" but it made it difficult to find a stopping place.

BOTTOM LINE: This was a unique and often enjoyable World War II story.  Three stars out of five.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Review: Growing Up Amish

DETAILS: Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler. Copyright 2011. Memoir.

SUMMARY: Ira Wagler grew up in an Old-Order Amish community in Ontario.  At seventeen he left the community for the first of many times and this book chronicles his early life as well as his later struggles.

PROS: I, like many Americans, have a strange fascination with the Amish people.  They hold a level of intrigue and romance that we are drawn to.  There were many interesting parts of this book as he shares his personal experiences with the Amish people and the struggles he faced when he decided to walk away.

CONS: Some of the narrative was a little disjointed it seemed.  The rest of my complaints about this book are purely subjective.  I was looking and hoping for something that was a little more about the practices and beliefs of the Amish community and this book was much more of a chronicle of Mr. Wagler's personal and spiritual struggles, set against the backdrop of the Amish.  The back of the book called it "heartwarming" but honestly I thought it was just kind of sad.  By the fourth or fifth time that Mr. Wagler returned to the Amish community, got fed up and left, I was a little tired of the same pattern.  While I realize that in real life, we aren't blessed with the luxury of hindsight, I did get a little annoyed with his repetitive pattern of leaving and returning, leaving and returning.

BOTTOM LINE: This book is interesting and somewhat informative about the Amish, but wasn't great.  Three stars out of five.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book Review: Endangered

**I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads for the purpose of reviewing it**

DETAILS: Endangered: A Zoo Mystery by Ann Littlewood. Copyright 2012. Mystery.

SUMMARY: When zookeeper Iris Oakley is called in to deal with illegal exotic animals found during a drug bust, she doesn't know that she is about to get caught up in a dangerous mystery.

PROS: A case could be made that this book started off a bit slow, but the setting and information about the zoo are so interesting and unusual that you don't even notice.  The writing is tight and polished and the characters are refreshingly new.  I thought I had figured out whodoneit, but it turns out I was wrong.  By the two-third mark in this book, I couldn't put it down and ended up staying awake far past my bedtime to read the ending.  A very enjoyable and unique mystery.

CONS:   There were two or three "continuity" errors (it's a film term, but I'm not sure what the writing equivalent is) and a couple of typos which were a little distracting.  It seemed the book could have moved from four to five stars with maybe a couple fresh eyes reading through it.

BOTTOM LINE: Very good, gripping and original.  Four stars out of five.