Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Reads - 2/15/14

So it's been two weeks since my first Saturday Reads, and I have decided to do this again! Just so you guys know what I'm reading, in and out of school, and where I am with these books. If any of you want to join in on my Saturday Reads, don't hesitate to comment and let me know what you're reading or what you plan on reading. Right now I'm reading five books, one of which is from my last Saturday Reads... Onto the books!

First Book: The Principles of Love by Emily Franklin

The "movie version" of Love Bukowski's life is picture perfect. She can roll out of bed and be at class in her new prep school within minutes because she lives in an amazing house on Hadley Hall Campus, where her Dad just happens to be the principal. And though she's just joined the ranks of the nation's future leaders and lushes of America, they've all become her best friends. Gorgeous upperclassmen crowd around her doorstep just to catch a glimpse of her performing her original songs. Life is sweet! 

Unfortunately, the not-so-glamorous reality of her life is that her Dad is the principal of the this prototypical New England prep school. Friends are hard to come by, and the only guys who come near her front door are the ones she wants to swat away. Not that there's a shortage of Hadley hotties; it's just that the one Love's singled out is an utterly incredible and totally unattainable senior. Now, Love will have to figure out the true meaning of her name to make her reality as awesome as her fantasies.

I started this book on Thursday, and I'm one or two chapters in. It's pretty good so far, but I haven't read much. I received this book through NetGalley, so I will have a review up once I've finished.

Second Book: Fifty Shades of Feminism edited/compiled by Lisi Appignanesi, Rachel Holmes & Susie Orbach 

The antidote to the idea that being a woman is all about submitting to desire. There are many more shades than that and here are fifty women to explore them. 

Fifty years after the publication of The Feminine Mystique, have women really exchanged purity and maternity to become desiring machines inspired only by variations of sex, shopping and masochism - all coloured a brilliant neuro-pink?

In this volume, fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today.

Contributors include: Tahmima Anam, Joan Bakewell, Bidisha, Lydia Cacho, Nina Power, Shami Chakrabarti, Lennie Goodings, Linda Grant, Natalie Haynes, Siri Hustvedt, Jude Kelly, Kathy Lette, Kate Mosse, Bee Rowlatt, Elif Shafak, Ahdaf Soueif, Shirley Thompson, Natasha Walter, Jeanette Winterson - alongside the three editors.

I'm still in pretty much the same place as last time I told you about this book, but I have made some progress. Meaning I'm 38 pages in. I haven't really found the time to read this, but I should have time in the upcoming week because I'm off from school. What I have read I've really liked. Each author raises interesting points, and makes me think about what I want to do with my life and who I want to be.

Third Book: Paris to Provence by Ethel Brennan & Sara Remington

Ethel and Sara beguile you with recipes and stories from their summer childhoods as they traveled with their respective families from Paris to Provence. In markets, cafés, truck stops, bakeries, bistros, and French family homes, the girls experienced their first taste of France, re-created here through recipes, stories, and photographs. 

Inspired by her memories of truck stop lunches sitting next to tables of grizzled truckers, Ethel gives us Steak au Poivre à la Sauce aux Morilles (pepper steak with morels). Sara’s whimsical game of using her asparagus as soldiers’ spears to guard her food from her sister is the source of her recipe for Les Soldats (soft-boiled eggs and fresh asparagus spears). Lingering over late-night dinners with grown-ups and listening in on their stories of the resistance and wild boar hunts inspired Ethel’s recipe for Fraises au Vin Rouge (strawberries in red wine syrup). Rosemary and its powerful scent, first discovered by Sara while hiking with her family in the Luberon Mountains in the south of France, infuses her recipe for Cotes d’Agneau Grillées au Romarin (grilled lamb chops with rosemary). From Îles Flottantes (poached meringues in crème anglaise) to Escargots (snails in garlic butter), and from Merguez (spicy grilled lamb sausage patties) to Ratatouille (summer vegetable stew), each recipe reflects Sara and Ethel’s childhood experiences in Paris and Provence. Sixty thoughtful, simple, and traditionally French dishes complemented by over one hundred luscious photographs will send you to your kitchen, and maybe even to France.

I finally got this book, after seeing it in an antique store in Montana and not being able to purchase it. I love this book. This book combines all of my loves in one: France, travel, cooking, and books. It's perfect. I'm currently on page 45, but I've already made a few of the recipes and they were delicious. Besides reading this book, I like to admire the photography, and just sit and hug it. It's that kind of book, you just have to give it the love it deserves.

Fourth Book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into haves and have-nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.

A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes the very nature of equality and justice in America.

I'm reading this book for school, and I just started it. I'm currently one chapter (or 8 pages) in, and this book is huge! This book was assigned to read outside of class, and we have until May to finish this book. The way my teacher organized it is he group different chapters and questions that are due two weeks apart from each other. The first one is due Friday, and it's the first four chapters. Having only read eight pages, there's not much I can say about this book. I don't really know what this book is about, but I'm going to find out.

Fifth Book: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599.[1] It portrays the 44 BC conspiracy against the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, his assassination and the defeat of the conspirators at the Battle of Philippi. It is one of several plays written by Shakespeare based on true events from Roman history, which also include Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra.

I'm also reading this for school, but it's being read in class. First my teacher will summarize the scene for us, and then he will play the audio version of it. We just finished Act III Scene I and that's about 14 out of 28 pages in my edition of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. At school, thought we are reading this out of the textbook, and I have no clue how many pages it is. This is the second Shakespeare play I've read (last year I read The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet), and I find it much easier to read. Hopefully after I finish Julius Caesar in class, I will go on and read more Shakespeare. I really want to read one of his comedies, because so far all I've read is the tragedies. What are your favorite Shakespeare plays to read or to see?

So that's where I am right now. I've never read so many books at the same time, because I normally just read one at a time. Comment down below what you guys are reading, or if you've read any of these books before and what you thought about them. Ok then, Happy Reading!

Friday, February 14, 2014

January Favorites

It's a little late since it's the middle of February, but here are some of the things I loved in January.

Bastille's re-issued album, All This Bad Blood. Bastille is my new favorite band of always. I love every single one of their songs I've heard, and I just love their general sound. Each song has it's own meaning in this album, and they all interconnect to paint a beautiful, musical painting.

Disc One
1. Pompeii*
2. Things We Lost in the Fire*
3. Bad Blood
4. Overjoyed
5. These Streets
6. The Weight of Living Pt. II*
7. Icarus*
8. Oblivion
9. Flaws*
10. Daniel in the Den
11. Laura Palmer*
12. Get Home

Disc Two
1. Poet*
2. The Silence
3. Haunt*
4. Weight of Living Pt. I*
5. Sleepsong
6. Durban Skies*
7. Laughter Lines
8. Previously on Other People's Heart Ache
9. Of the Night*
10. The Draw
11. What Would You Do*
12. Skulls*
13. Tuning Out...*

*My favorites, if I had to choose, all though there isn't much of a point to me telling you my favorites because they are almost all my favorites. Even the ones I didn't star are amazing, and truly I love them all equally.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. I got this book in mid-January, and read it in a day. It was a quick read, and it was such a heartwarming story. It talked about it a little bit in my Winter Wonderland Tag (here) but now I'll give you a full synopsis, cover, and everything.

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks-like the gears of the clocks he keeps-with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the train station , Hugo's undercover life and his most precious secret are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spell-binding mystery.

With 284 pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel forn to create and entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning, cinematic, tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.

I already said it, but this book was great. I absolutely loved every bit, from the characters to the setting to the plot. The illustrations were beautiful and I just want more of Brian Selznick's books. 5 stars. 5 stars.

Restoration Hardware No Crack Crème Superbe de Mains. Since it's the winter, the hands get very dry. This is great for moisturizing during the day, and I like to use Aquaphor at night.

Sherlock. What more do I have to say? After two years on hiatus, Sherlock is back with season three! I've seen two of the three new episodes and they don't disappoint. I can't wait to see the last one, and I hear that there is going to be at least to more seasons. I love that on BBC One they don't have commercials during the show, and you just have an hour and a half of straight content. It's wonderful.

NetGalley. I just joined NetGalley, and I've been able to read and review a bunch of great new books. They have a huge selection of books that you request if your a blogger, reviewer, librarian, or bookseller. The only thing is that a lot of their books are only available in Europe or Australia, so be careful of that when you request books.

I'd Rather Be Watching Sherlock Tee. I purchased this as a Christmas present for my friend, but it came late due to snow and she was on vacation so I still haven't been able to give it to her! Anyway, we're both really big fans of Sherlock and she recently redecorated her room in the style of 221b Baker Street, and it looks awesome.

Giraffe Onesie (my first onesie). My friend gave me my first onesie for Christmas, and it's a giraffe! It's adorable, and yes I received it in January because my friends and I are really bad at exchanging gifts on time... what can you do? I like this onesie, I can just lounge around in it and it's really comfy. It's everything a onesie can be.

So those are my favorite things from January. If you like this kind of a post, let me know and I'll continue to do them otherwise I won't unless there's something I really want to share with you guys.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt

I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley, and it will be published on February 18th.

When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, "miserable" doesn't even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother's first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real... until she breaks up with him. 

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she's really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She's determined to change his mind, and when they're stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance. 

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.? 

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.

This book was adorable. From the moment I picked it up I could not put it down, and I had to physically force myself to stop reading and go to class. After I got home from dance, I picked up my kindle and read through until the end. The story flowed very nicely and was very fast-paced. I liked the characters and I couldn't wait to read more (obviously).

This story followed the alternating points of view of Brighton and Jonah, as they learn more about themselves and the world around them. Jonah discovers that maybe living in Cross Pointe won't be so bad, and Brighton realizes that she doesn't have to be what everyone else wants her to be. This novel raises important questions about who you are, who you want to be, and what you want to achieve in life.

Some of my favorite components of a romance are when two people start of as enemies that misjudged each other, and two people who are opposites yet compliment each other; this book has both of these things making it more enjoyable for me. This author also had a wonderful way of bringing her characters to life, and bringing us into their lives without stating facts about them.

I didn't like Jonah's girlfriend, Carly. Then again, we aren't supposed to like Jonah's girlfriend.From what we see, she doesn't have many redeeming qualities (other than her looks) and her reasons for breaking up with Jonah are very flimsy. She does some questionable things in retaliation against something that didn't even happen, which really frustrated me as did the fact that she has no proof for her accusations against Jonah other than a phone number on a flyer.

As the night goes on, Jonah realizes that Brighton isn't who he thought she was. He also sees the differences between Carly and Brighton and starts to suspect that maybe things hadn't been quite right between him and Carly lately. Jonah doesn't leave Carly to be with Brighton, he realizes that their relationship was having problems and he had reasons for dating Carly other than because he cared for her.

A wonderful story that made me happy, and I gave it 4 and-a-half stars (maybe I'm just being picky, but I just couldn't give it 5 stars). I will definitely be buying this book and re-reading it when it comes out (in 5 days!). Maybe having the physical and final edition of the book will bump it up to a five, but I don't know. I recommend this book for people that like contemporary romance novels, and novels that deal with self-discovery.

"Kindness is your social weapon of choice, but it only works because you've grown up within the system and it's what people expect of you."

"Nice is for people we forget."

"Your goal each day should be to make the world better by being in it."

"How do you think people describe you?"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry & Pete Clark

I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley, and it was released on January 7th. This book is not suited for children under the age of 14.

WARNING: There is no sex in this book. Your Kindle or other device will remain at a pleasant room temperature. At no point will your panties drop. Your significant other will be allowed to snore in peace as you read. You may, however, laugh yourself out of commission.

Not too long ago, in a town that, depending on your current location, is either not super far or actually quite close... (insert Star Wars theme music here...)

It is a time of chaotic hormones. 

Two nerdy gents home for winter break have discovered a female gamer at a midnight release.

During the break, the gamer trio manages to reveal the game's secret boss, a hidden enemy with enough power to destroy anything in its path.

Pursued by other gamers who want to be the first to beat this boss, George and Katie race to level up, and, in so doing, restore decency and sexual activity to their personal galaxy...

I really enjoyed this book, especially once the gaming aspect started to intensify. I thought it was a good book, but it didn't blow me away. I really liked the characters; they were quirky, fun, and they were real people. The main characters are Katie and George and the point-of-view alternates between them as the story of their romance is woven together. Their romance starts with the classic "I hate you" phase, which I am a fan of (no insta-love). This book does not suffer from "Missing Parent Syndrome", which is also nice in a YA book. Speaking of YA, this book does contain crude humor and is not suited towards younger teens.

One thing I personally didn't like was that I didn't get most of the video game references. I did get a few, but most of them flew right over my head. It was really cool to follow along as the characters played the fame and not just hear "we beat the boss after a long, stressful battle". Each chapter was a level - chapter one is level one, chapter two is level two, and so on - and had a picture of the graphics from Fatal Destiny X, the game the story centers around.

George and Katie's relationship was really cute, and mainly consisted of them playing FDX and making out. Even though they first met in the beginning of the book, their relationship did not progress to fast, and they were often unsure of themselves. After a while their insecurities got a little repetitive (Katie's in particular) but it all worked out in the end. Their relationship was not the main focus of the book, and George and Katie still hung out with their friends (Anna and Lanyon).

Lanyon was great, he was probably my favorite character. He's hilarious and he's just a weird guy. Lanyon's trademark food is Snickers which he has an endless supply of and he never shares them (until he meets Heather). He has very few social capabilities, and his interactions with strangers left me in tears. Lanyon was just very entertaining and I wish I knew him in real life. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, because it was enjoyable, the characters were great, but it just didn't blow me away.

"They take off quickly, which is good, because I try to skip up the walk to my house, only to slip on a patch of three snowflakes and fall on my ass."

"I see in Lanyon's eyes that he'd debating about giving up. He should give up. But his brow furrows and the Beeblebrox in him can't resist a final misguided attempt at love."

"You go over to that sink, splash some water on your face, do absolutely nothing to your hopeless hair, and go out there and jump on that boy who adores you. And the next time you worry about not being normal, just remember my words of wisdom. Fuck normal."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Blogger Hop: February 7th - February 13th

This Week's Question:

What is the highest number of books you received in one day either in the mail or from UPS or FED EX?

My Answer:

Probably five or six books. I don't really like ordering books online, I like to the bookstore and walking down the isles just admiring all of the books. And I find more interesting books that way to, when you go online you know what you want to buy and you just buy that. In the store you get to peruse and look for new things that you wouldn't have other wise found. Do you prefer shopping online or in stores? Because there's definitely benefits to both of them.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Book Review: The Dark Lady by Irene Adler

I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley, and it was published February 1st, 2014.

While on summer vacation, little Irene Adler meets a young William Sherlock Holmes. The two share stories of pirates and have battles of wit while running wild on the sunny streets and rooftops. When Sherlock’s friend, Lupin, joins in on the fun, they all become fast friends. But the good times end abruptly when a dead body floats ashore on the nearby beach. The young detective trio will have to put all three of their heads together to solve this mystery.

This book was very interesting, and fun to read. It grabbed my attention from the cover to the synopsis to the words on the page. I loved the idea of seeing a young Sherlock Homes and Irene Adler (I had to look up Arsène Lupin, I admit it). Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, though Irene felt too perfect sometimes. This book takes place in a small town called Saint-Malo, and gossip travels at lightning speed in Saint-Malo. 

The story line was very enjoyable, with lots of action and tons of mystery. Sherlock, Lupin, and Irene are always getting into dangerous situations, and everything in the story had a little bit of mysterious flare to it. At the beginning of each chapter there is a drawing that ties into the chapter. This was fun because it was a sneak peak of sorts into the chapter before you read it, and it made me try to guess how the picture ties in. 

I enjoyed the story, although I would've liked to see a few things tied up for us (How did Julien get Mrs. Holmes card? If I'm just being unobservant about that part please let me know in the comments). This book is a middle-grade book, but it wasn't oversimplified making it a good read for people of any age. Not having read any Sherlock Holmes stories before, I might've missed any allusions to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Without much background knowledge of Sherlock Holmes (Everything I learned, I learned from the BBC's Sherlock) I still found this book highly enjoyable, giving it 4 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good mystery novel.

"Well, I think they're wrong. William is very boring. Sherlock suits you better. I've decided from now on I'm going to call you Sherlock!"

"'Everything's all right!' 'Let's hope so,' Lupin whispered, giving the worried butler a long look. 'He's very big and very angry'"

"My head was spinning with thoughts of nothing but shady deals and criminals. I'd never dreamed that there were secret organizations at work behind the scene in a pretty little tourist town like Saint-Malo."

"Sitting beside me, Sherlock was wearing a sneer that I eventually came to loathe. He wore it every time he'd discovered something before anyone else had."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Blogger Hop: January 31st - February 6th

This Week's Question:

When you receive new books in the mail, do the older ones get moved to the bottom of your list or do go strictly "by the book" and keep your list with older books first and then the new ones? 

My Answer:

When I receive new books I will be more likely to read them than books I already own, just because they're new and fresh in my mind. But it also depends. If there's a book I really want to read, I'll read it even if I just got a bunch of new books. Do you do that too, or am I the only one who does that? I try to read books as I buy them though, so I don't end up with a huge shelf of books that I haven't read...

Yea, that doesn't really work very well... I have lots of books that I need to read. 

That's all for today, Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Saturday Reads - 2/1/14

Hello, and welcome to my blog! Today I would like to share with you what I'm reading. The reason I'm doing this is because I'm in a bit of a reading slump, and I just wanted to read some books for myself and not review them. But I also want you guys to know what I think about them, and whether I recommend them or not. I'm currently reading two books, and I haven't finished either one of them so I can't give you my rating or recommendation really. If you would like I can do a mini-review of these books when I finish them, just be sure to comment below.

First Book: The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima.

An epic battle between good and evil...

Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great - until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game - a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre heritage isn't enough, Jack finds out that he's not just another member of Weirlind - he's one of the last of the warriors - at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

I'm 210 pages in and so far I really like it. The synopsis of the book reminded me of Wendy Wu's Homecoming Warrior, specifically the part about soccer try-outs. I'm about half-way through and I can't wait to finish it. I found this book through Regan at PeruseProject on the YouTube, and I've found lots of fantasy books that I want to read through her channel. So if you like fantasy novels go check out her channel.

Second Book: Fifty Shades of Feminism edited/complied by Lisa Appignanesi, Rachel Holmes & Susie Orbach

The antidote to the idea that being a woman is all about submitting to desire. There are many more shades than that and here are fifty women to explore them. 

Fifty years after the publication of The Feminine Mystique, have women really exchanged purity and maternity to become desiring machines inspired only by variations of sex, shopping and masochism - all coloured a brilliant neuro-pink?

In this volume, fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today.

Contributors include: Tahmima Anam, Joan Bakewell, Bidisha, Lydia Cacho, Nina Power, Shami Chakrabarti, Lennie Goodings, Linda Grant, Natalie Haynes, Siri Hustvedt, Jude Kelly, Kathy Lette, Kate Mosse, Bee Rowlatt, Elif Shafak, Ahdaf Soueif, Shirley Thompson, Natasha Walter, Jeanette Winterson - alongside the three editors.

After recently watching a video about women authors, I was inspired to learn more about women's rights and feminist movements. This book explores different aspects of feminism, and I don't know much more because I'm only about 15 pages in. But so far it's really interesting, and I think I'm gonna like this book. Also, just know that there will be a post coming soon about women authors, and gender roles in society, but it might take a little while. If you have any books that are similar to Fifty Shades of Feminism comment below, because I'm really interested in this topic and would love to read more about it. 
So those are the books I'm reading right now. Comment below what you guys are reading, and if you have any books you think I would enjoy. I hope you all have a great Super Bowl weekend, and Happy Reading!