Hilarie
Rating:
Genre: Suspense, Mystery

I haven't read any of Kathy Reich's previous books, a fact which had me somewhat leery as I picked up this one. Sometimes, especially with books in a long series, it is almost impossible to understand what is going on if you try to jump in mid-series. I was pleasantly surprised to find that in this instance my fears were unfounded. 206 Bones is a great read, plain and simple, with lots of action and great characters.

Reich's series is very popular, so much so that it has in fact led to the creation of Bones, a television series based on the books. I've seen a few episodes of Bones, so I was a bit surprised to find that the books take place in Canada. I actually preferred the setting of the novel, and found myself wondering why they changed it. Attempting to further fuel our egocentric Americanism perhaps? But, I digress.

206 Bones begins with the main character, Dr. Temperance Brennan finds herself buried alive. She has no memory of how or why she is in this situation, and only slowly do the memories come flooding back to her mind. Recently, Tempe has been investigating the mysterious deaths of several older women; victims of violent attacks which may or may not be the work of a single individual. Her focus on the cases has been somewhat compromised by some troubling mishaps that have occurred in Tempe's own autopsy suites. These mishaps have begun to undermine the confidence of her superiors, and have eventually result in Tempe even beginning to question her own competence. Meanwhile, her relationship with her longtime co-worker/love interest Lieutenant Ryan has moved into undefined and unresolved territory. What these circumstances have to do with Tempe's own deadly situation remain to be seen.

I really enjoyed the dual mystery aspect of this novel. It was interesting to read as Tempe tried to piece together the reasons for her situation. Reich's pacing was excellent, as she never gave too much away, but she didn't unravel the story so slowly that it was frustrating. I found myself really getting emotionally involved with the characters, especially Tempe. I don't want to give anything away in this review, so I will simply say that Tempe is suffering from some co-worker related troubles throughout the novel. Reichs had me fuming right along with Tempe against the injustice of it all. In short, if you haven't read any of Reich's books and are looking to give one a try, you can't go wrong with this one.

I'm giving my slightly dented ARC copy to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment below stating why you think I should pick you! Include your email address, or I won't!
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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, London

Ironhand is the second novel in Charlie Fletcher's fantastic trilogy, which began with Stoneheart. I've found myself reading more "young adult" novels recently. Surprisingly, many of these novels don't feel like they are lacking in comparison to adult novels in either pacing or plot. If they are missing a bit of the gratuitous sex, graphically detailed scenes of violence, and over the top profanity, I find it to be a welcome change. Ironhand is a furiously fast-paced adventure, with a maturity and depth that qualifies it to be enjoyed by readers both relatively young (I'd recommend at least 11 or 12 to be on the safe side) and old.

Ironhand begins almost immediately where Stoneheart left off. In a few short pages, George and Edie find that their situation has gone from bad to worse. George discovers that "the hard way," is exactly that. He must fight three duels, and running isn't an option as three corresponding stone slivers are slowly making their way from his hand to pierce his heart if he doesn't face the danger within the required time. Edie also finds herself fighting for her life, as she has captured the interest of the Walker, who wishes to make use of her skills of a glint and then dispose of her. Perhaps worst of all, the Gunner, who has served as George and Edie's self-appointed protector, has been taken by the Walker and imprisoned in a place form which their seems to be no escape. This is especially unfortunate as he will no longer be a living statue if he fails to return to his plinth before the turn of the day, and will become only a hunk of lifeless metal.

I had every intention of pacing myself through this read, but after a few pages I was hooked and rushed frantically to the end. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, so be sure to have Silvertongue, the third and final novel of the trilogy close by. I didn't, so I had to endure a few torturous weeks on the library hold list (it IS a recession, I can't buy all the books I want to read!). Fletcher is a great writer, and he proves it by avoiding the second book slump that so many writers of trilogies sometimes face. If anything, I enjoyed this book even more than the first in the series. I really enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it.
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Rating:
Genre: Paranormal, Thriller
Reading Challenges: 40 for 100+ in 2009

It has been a difficult past few months, and my reading time has certainly suffered. It's difficult for me to decide how to review my last few reads. I was literally plodding through the same three books for most of the last three months, which I found to be very frustrating. This frustration may have carried over to the books in question (North and South, Bleak History, and Mort), so feel free to take my reviews with a grain of salt.

All that being said, Bleak History is a pretty good read. It isn't, however, a book that had me procrastinating packing my boxes because of a desperate need to get to the ending. That might have been the result, however, of my obsession with decluttering, and not a statement on the quality of the novel itself.

Bleak History is the story of Gabriel Bleak, a former army ranger with supernatural powers. These powers allow Gabriel to do some pretty cool stuff, including conversing with and visualizing ghosts (inevitable "I see dead people" comparison), creating spontaneous fireballs to be hurled at those who threaten him, and creating an invisible bridge which allows him to walk on thin air. Gabriel, whose powers manifested themselves in his early teens, is one of a select group of individuals who have access to "the hidden," or the spiritual world that exists parallel to our world. It turns out that the government wants to tap into some of this power. There is a mysterious government agency, led by the unscrupulous General Forsythe, which will stop at nothing to harness this power. Gabriel isn't really interested in helping the government, especially under duress, and so finds himself trying to stay one step ahead of Forsythe and his stooges. Meanwhile, some of the more malevolent powers that lie within the hidden are working to gain access to our world, and if Gabriel and those like him can't figure out how to stop them things are going to be very bad for the rest of us.

I haven't read many books in the paranormal genre, but I did enjoy this one, even if there were a few small things that hindered my enjoyment. I found Bleak History a fast moving read, with pretty good characters. I especially liked Gabriel, but he is the hero, so I guess that was almost inevitable. There was even a hint of romance, although that aspect of the story wasn't really developed enough for me. I found myself wishing that the author would have spent more time on Gabriel's back story. I also felt that the conclusion was fairly abrupt. As I finished the last few pages, I almost expected the book to end with a "to be continued," but instead it was just sort of a tacked on ending. Hopefully this means that another book is in the work.

In short, if you enjoy paranormal fiction, this just might be the book for you. Give Twilight a break (you can always read it again later), and Bleak History a try.
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Rating:
Genre: Classics, Victorian England
Reading Challenges: 30 for 100+ in 2009, 4/5 for Classics Challenge 2009

After a long struggle, I finally finished reading my first of Gaskell's novels. After finishing, I'm still not sure why I had such a difficult time reading this novel, but it was only my inherent stubbornness that kept me from tossing this book back on the shelf months ago. I think what bothers me the most is that I can't really put my finger on what caused me such fits!

North and South is the story of Margaret Hale, the daughter of a clergyman with a living in the rural south of England during the Victorian age. Margaret's father suffers a loss of faith, and feels honor bound to leave the Church of England and resign his post. Margaret's father relocates the family to Milton, an industrial town in northern England, where he becomes a tutor of sorts. There Margaret learns firsthand of the suffering of those living and working in the factories of industrial England. She also becomes acquainted with John Thornton, the owner of a local fabric mill. Her initial distaste with Thornton turns gradually to respect as she comes to learn the true strength of his character, but misunderstandings seem to continually mount between them.

North and South is more than just a love story. It is also deals with some weighty themes, especially that of an individual's submission to authority, whatever it's form. When is it right to surrender your own will to that of another, or to the modes of the society you live in? I also found it fascinating that Gaskell was able to demonstrate that those in the rural south of England were not necessarily better off than those caught up in the industrial revolution of the north.

I really expected to love this book. It is in some ways, a more meaty version of Pride and Prejudice, which has long been a favorite of mine. The characters are well written, and I enjoyed the interaction between Margaret and John. I think that this book is a difficult read partially because of Gaskell's writing style. This is the kind of book that must be read carefully as if you miss a single word you might misunderstand an entire passage. I might try to read more Gaskell in the future, but for now, I'm taking a break. It just feels good to have this one off my shelf. What books have you stumped lately?

As an aside, if you are interested in the story of North and South, and don't want to read the book, there is a fabulous film adaption by A&E. I actually watched the film version before reading the book, and can say that it is pretty faithful to the novel. I actually preferred the setting for the conclusion of the story that is shown in the film as compared to that in the novel. Have you read the book, or watched the film?


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After an unexpected absence of great length, I'm back to blogging. We are in our new home, the furniture has arrived (mostly intact), the network is up and running, and I'm ready to get reading again! To celebrate, I'm kicking things off with my own unique giveaway. I'm offering the winner their choice of a new copy of one the following: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Nation by Terry Pratchett, or The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson.

To enter: Please leave a comment below, and for the sake of my sanity, please include your email address in your comment. For those 52 loyal followers who have stuck with me during the months of silence (yup, it really has been that long), you will automatically get an additional entry when you post. Please remind me that you are already a follower. You can also earn additional entries by posting this contest on your sidebar or a blog post. The contest will start today and end on October 31, 2009 (why this arbitrary date? I just like Halloween). It's great to be back!
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Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  • Here is mine for the day:

    I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi, page 3

    "You know what? Let the fools debate the details. I decided to learn about money by taking small steps to manage my own spending. Just as you don't have to be a certified nutritionist to lose weight or an automotive engineer to drive a car, you don't have to know everything about personal finance to be rich."
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    Rating:
    Genre: Thriller, Sweden
    Reading Challenges: 38 for 100+ in 2009

    I have been slightly depressed since I finished reading this book. How I wish I hadn't rushed through it quite so quickly! I should have savored it, but I found it almost impossible to stop reading once I picked this book up.

    This is the second book in Larsson's Millennium trilogy, following The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and it surpasses the first, which is really saying something.

    Let me start by saying that I think it is important to read the books in order. There are plenty of references to the first novel in the story, and without the background you might find yourself getting a bit lost.

    The novel begins shortly after the conclusion of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth Salander is traveling the world, enjoying her newly acquired millions, while Blomkvist is still riding high from his Wennerström coup. Salander has cut off all contact with Blomkvist, and is busy trying to establish a new life for herself. Meanwhile, Millennium magazine has agreed to publish a special issue and a book that will highlight the sex trafficking trade that is thriving in Sweden. Salander's guardian Bjurman is desperate to revenge himself upon Salander, and to escape from her control. Bjurman reaches out to a man from his past, and suddenly Salander finds herself the most wanted woman in Sweden, and Blomkvist is dragged into the fray as he must choose what to believe about Salander.

    The above description might seem pretty generalized, but I really don't want to give anything away. There are plenty of great revelations in this book about Salander and her past, and I don't want to spoil them. The first book left me wanting more Salander, and this book delivered. She is without doubt one of the most vibrant characters I have ever encountered. I really loved this book, and I was sad to turn the last page. I am anxiously awaiting the third novel in the trilogy, and am genuinely sorry that Larsson passed away before he could write all 10 of his planned novels. If all of them were as great as the first two, I might never need to read anything else.

    One caveat: as with the first novel, this book has some adult content. I didn't find it over the top, and none of the material is graphic in nature, but if you are offended by even the suggestion of bisexuality then you should steer clear of this book.
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    Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


    Here is mine for the day:

    I cheated a bit to get a good one. This is a book I have struggled a bit with, but I am finally starting to really enjoy it!

    North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, page 189

    "Nay, John, there is no need to be angry. Did she not rush down, and cling to you to save you from danger?"
    "She did!" said he. "But, mother," continued he, stopping short in his walk right in front of her, "I dare not hope. I never was faint-hearted before; but I cannot believe such a creature cares for me."
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    Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Callista83. This week Callista asks:

    What’s the lightest, most “fluff” kind of book you’ve read recently?

    As I pondered this question, one book came almost immediately to mind. It is, Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. You can read my full review here. This was a fun read, and one that would be a perfect break between more serious reading selections.

    This is an interesting question, because I think it really depends on what you personally define as "fluff." For instance, I have a friend that feels that any book that isn't a certified classic is a waste of time and not worth reading, while another feels that the shopaholic series should be required reading in our consumer driven society. Personally, I consider a book of fluff to be a fun and somewhat frivolous read; one that doesn't really require me to ponder any personal or societal beliefs. In short, I consider a fluff book to be the literary equivalent of a Disney cartoon like Sleeping Beauty; a whole lot of fun and leaves me with a smile as the credits roll. What is your idea of fluff?


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    Cover attraction is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. My cover of the week is:

    This cover really caught my eye, especially as I am currently searching for books that will help me to complete my War Through the Generations Challenge. I love period photographs, so this cover really appealed to me. There is also an interesting photograph from the trenches on the back of the book. Here is the cover blurb:

    "Set against the panorama of the First World War, Gifts of War is a poignant love story, a finely woven tapestry of choice, consequence, and redemption. Mackenzie Ford explores the ambiguities of the human heart with an unwavering hand and in so doing creates a haunting and moving tale that will resonate with the reader long after he or she has finished the last page."

    Quote by Pam Jenoff, author of Kommandan'ts Girl and Almost Home
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    I am currently in the midst of reading this book, so watch for my complete review in future posts. Although I can't comment in full, I can say that I am enjoying this read, and it is certainly a book that grabs your attention right away.

    Cover Blurb:

    Description

    CLASSIFIED: APPARENT SUPERNATURAL

    Subject: Gabriel Bleak. Status: Civilian. Paranormal skills: Powerful. Able to manipulate AS energies and communicate with UBEs (e.g. "ghosts" and other entities). Psychological profile: Extremely independent, potentially dangerous. Caution is urged....

    As far as Gabriel Bleak is concerned, talking to the dead is just another way of making a living. It gives him the competitive edge to survive as a bounty hunter, or "skip tracer," in the psychic minefield known as New York City. Unfortunately, his gift also makes him a prime target. A top-secret division of Homeland Security has been monitoring the recent emergence of human supernaturals, with Gabriel Bleak being the strongest on record. If they control Gabriel, they'll gain access to the Hidden -- the entity-based energy field that connects all life on Earth. But Gabriel's got other ideas. With a growing underground movement called the Shadow Community -- and an uneasy alliance of spirits, elementals, and other beings -- Gabriel's about to face the greatest demonic uprising since the Dark Ages. But this time, history is not going to repeat itself. This time, the future is Bleak. Gabriel Bleak.

    Read an excerpt of Chapter 1

    Library Journal review of Bleak History by John Shirley: "Shirley has a gift for storytelling that emphasizes both depth of character and immediacy of vision. VERDICT This gritty and fast-moving horror urban fantasy will appeal to readers who enjoy dark supernatural thrillers."

    I would like to express a special thanks to Pocket Books for giving me the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for this great book!

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    I just have a few finds this week:

    Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts





















    The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks
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    Be sure to check out Booking Through Thursday to see what everyone has to say! I have been pretty lucky of late as almost I've enjoyed almost every book I've read. There is one that sticks out though, although I am in the minority on this one. I really didn't enjoy, "The Strain" by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, and after completing over half the novel I finally decided to leave it unfinished. I still can't put my finger on exactly why I didn't like this book. I really had high expectations, and am usually very appreciative of new entries in the vampire genre. I also had high hopes that Del Toro would create something truly amazing, as I have enjoyed his work in the past; I mean, I even loved Hell Boy and the sequel, and don't even get me started on Pan's Labyrinth. I think my dislike was the result of the vampires themselves. I don't want to ruin the plot for anyone, so I won't describe the origins of the vampires in this novel in detail, but this was probably what killed this book for me. There was also an ick factor involved for me. As I said, I think I am one of the few that really didn't like this book, and since I didn't finish it in its entirety, I don't feel qualified to write a full-fledged review. What books have disappointed you lately?
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    Rating:
    Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Sweden
    Reading Challenges: 37 for 100+ in 2009

    It was almost love at first sight with this book. The title alone was enough to pique my interest. I wasn't sure who the girl with the dragon tattoo might be, but I had a feeling she would be just the kind of feisty and slightly off kilter heroine that I prefer. After finishing this book, I am pleased to say that my instincts were correct, and Lisbeth Salander (the tattooed girl herself) was even more amazing than I expected.

    This is an interesting read. I had seen it mentioned all over the blog sphere, usually in a very positive way. So, I was a little surprised that this book didn't really grab me from the first page. Perhaps it is because I am totally unfamiliar with the geography of Sweden, and the names were a bit different sounding, but it took me a few pages to get into this book. However, once I was able to immerse myself in the story (thirty pages in or so), I was hooked.

    The story begins with Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist who has just been convicted of libel and sentenced to a brief prison term, at a crossroads in his life. Blomkvist seems slightly dazed by the whirlwind of events that have resulted in a guilty verdict and the apparent derailment of his career as a respected journalist. It is at this time that he is approached by Henrik Vanger, the former head of the Vanger corporation, and an old man who hopes to solve the mystery that has haunted him for almost forty years, and in some ways, ruined his life. The mystery in question involves the disappearance of Henrik's great niece, and Henrik suspects that someone in his family was involved. Blomkvist finds himself working, albeit unwillingly at first, to solve the mystery. Eventually, he seeks the help of Lizbeth Salander, a mysterious hacker, who might just have the skills to not only help him solve an ever growing mystery, but also to keep them both alive.

    This is a page turner! Literally, I just reached a point in this book where I couldn't put it down. Even in the midst of packing up my house I found myself trying to sneak in some reading time. I was surprised however by several events in the book which were so graphic and horrendous that I almost stopped reading. I don't want to post any spoilers, so I won't go into more detail, other than to say that this book has a lot of violence against women. The violence is not presented in a sensationalist manner, but the details are very graphic and disturbing. After reading this book, I learned that the original title in Swedish is something like, "The Man Who Hates Women." Honestly, that says it all. It isn't all doom and gloom however. The women characters are not portrayed as victims, even if they are victimized, but as strong individuals who work to find their own solutions to the bad situations in which they find themselves.

    I really enjoyed this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire. It wasn't until I started reading this book that I learned that Larsson had passed away before it was published. Initially, I wondered if the book was perhaps overrated because of the tragic fate of its author. but after finishing the novel I have come to the conclusion that the praise it has received is all richly deserved.
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    I never realized just what a slave I was to the internet until I was cut off unexpectedly last week after we moved to our temporary housing. I am still currently without internet access, and am camped out at my local library while I write this. I hope to be up again and running soon. More than anything, I miss my fellow book bloggers. As a stay-at-home mother, I rely on book blogging to get my intellectual fix for the day, and have been somewhat depressed and out of sorts since I've lost one of my few outlets for adult fun. I hope to be back soon. Until then, happy reading!
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    It has been another crazy week, but phase one of the big move is almost over. We move into the temporary housing this week. I've been loving my mp3 player these past few weeks as it has been my primary source of biblio fun.

    Books I finished this week:

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson - Really, really good. I need to write a review on this one.

    Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster - A favorite from my childhood that I recently discovered. What a fun read!

    Current Reads:

    Mort by Terry Pratchett - The first Death-themed Discworld novel. I am savoring this one.

    North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell - Absolutely no progress whatsoever. I better get going, or I'm not going to meet my classics challenge.

    Ironhand by Charlie Fletcher - The second in the Stoneheart Trilogy. I'm really enjoying this, and right now I feel like a nice easy read.

    After really giving it a fair try (I read over half the book), I've decided to stop reading The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. I really wanted to like this book, and it sounded amazing. I'm not sure why I didn't like it, and I don't want to give any spoilers away. I'll just say that I prefer my vampires with a bit more class, like Dracula. I'm not going to review this book since I didn't finish the whole thing. I've just decided in the past few months that life is too short, and there are too many books to read one that doesn't really excite me.

    What are you all reading this week?
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    Hilarie
    I have been so occupied with preparing for our move to short term housing that I have really fallen behind in my reading. The big move is on August 4th, and I am once again reminded of all the reasons why I hate moving. I also find that I am strangely reluctant to pack any of my precious books because I am certain that as soon as the boxes are sealed and in the storage unit I will be overcome with a terrible urge to read one of the books that I no longer have easy access too. My husband has started throwing books in the boxes while my back is turned. I am also really appreciating the help of my kids with the packing. My almost 3 year old tries to unpack everything I put in a box, and my nine month old just wants to eat the packing material and suck on the outside of the boxes. Needless to say, it has not been a great week for reading.

    Books I completed this week:

    Q&A or Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup (Audio book Edition) - I really, really liked this. It is probably one of the best audio books I've listened to in recent years. If you are a fan of the movie, as I am, just don't expect the book to be at all similar. I was amazed at how different they were. After some consideration, I think I preferred the book (this seems to almost always be the case) for several reasons, but especially because I loved the main character of Ram Muhammad Thomas. If you like audio books, give this one a try.

    Still reading:

    The same books as last week.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson - It took me a while to get into this one, but now I am turning pages every chance I get, which as I mentioned above isn't that often. This is really a great read, although I was surprised by just how gruesome some of the situations in the book are.

    I am ashamed to say I have made absolutely no other progress on my current reads, so I won't even mention them. You can check out last weeks post if you want to see what they are.
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    Musing Mondays are a weekly meme hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page. This week Rebecca asks:

    Today’s MUSING MONDAYSpost is about online book sites…

    Do you have an account with an online book database site (LibraryThing, Shelfari,GoodReads etc)? If so, do you have a preference? Do you use it for - your own record keeping? finding new books to read? social networking?

    I do have an account on all three book sites. I love the appearance of the shelf and the interface on Shelfari, but sometimes I don't find the book I am looking for in the database. I love all the extras on GoodReads, like the trivia and the book suggestions. LibraryThing is probably my least favorite, but I like signing up for ARC's in the Early Bird Reviews group. I wish that I had more friends on all of these sites, and I know I need to get more involved in the discussions. It is just hard, especially lately, to find the time. If push comes to shove, I'd have to say I like GoodReads the best.

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    Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by mizb17 at Should Be Reading. My finds this week are:

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    Valerie, at Hachette Book Group, has kindly given me five copies of this book to giveaway to five lucky readers! This book sounds like a great read. I will be posting a review in the near future, so stay posted.

    More about: The Blue Star by Tony Earley (Information provided by Hachette Book Group).

    Seven years ago, readers everywhere fell in love with Jim Glass, the precocious ten-year-old at the heart of Tony Earley's bestseller Jim the Boy. Now a teenager, Jim returns in another tender and wise story of young love on the eve of World War Two.

    Jim Glass has fallen in love, as only a teenage boy can fall in love, with his classmate Chrissie Steppe. Unfortunately, Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw's girlfriend, and Bucky has joined the Navy on the eve of war. Jim vows to win Chrissie's heart in his absence, but the war makes high school less than a safe haven, and gives a young man's emotions a grown man's gravity.

    With the uncanny insight into the well-intentioned heart that made Jim the Boy a favorite novel for thousands of readers, Tony Earley has fashioned another nuanced and unforgettable portrait of America in another time--making it again even realer than our own day.

    This is a timeless and moving story of discovery, loss and growing up, proving why Tony Earley's writing "radiates with a largeness of heart" (Esquire).

    Contest Information and Guidelines:
    The Facts
    The giveaway starts today, July 23rd and will run through Monday, August 17th. We will use a random number generator to determine the winners at that time and notify them via email. Please provide us with your email as it is the only way we have to get in touch with you! Comments without an email will not be counted. The contest is only open to residents of the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, we are unable to ship to P.O. Boxes.

    Entries
    To enter, simply leave a comment to this post. You can get an additional entries by:
    1. Post this giveaway on your blog. Please provide me with a link to the URL.
    2. Become a follower or subscriber, or just let us know if you already are.

    Each entry must be a separate post!

    Good luck!
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    I'm proud to be a member of the blog tour for this exciting new novel by George Dawes Green. The tour is running from July 20 to the 24th. I'd like to thank Hachette Book Group for this opportunity. If you would like more official information on this book, including an excerpt, you can find it here.

    Check out my review.

    Visit the other great sites that are part of this blog tour for today, July 22nd:


    You can also continue on with the tour at these sites tomorrow:

    Drey's Library - Giveaway!

    The tour will conclude at these sites on the 24th:


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    Rating:
    Genre: Suspense
    Reading Challenges: 35 for 100+ in 2009

    Living in Iowa has been an education in the lottery. The lottery is a big deal in our state, and each day I drive by a sign that shows the current jackpot. Personally, I have no interest in purchasing my own lottery tickets, but sometimes just for fun, my husband and I fantasize what we would do with the money. At the very least, it is certain that our lives would change.

    Ravens is the story of the Boatwright family, residents of a small Georgia town, who have been teetering on the brink of financial disaster. Then one Wednesday night, as Patsy Boatwright engages in her weekly ritual of fortifying herself with alcohol while she watches the lottery results on tv, the Boatwright's ship comes in. The Boatwright family are the sole winners of a $318 million jackpot. Meanwhile, Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko, two young men looking for an easy escape from their dead end jobs, are passing through town. Fate intervenes, and Shaw overhears about the Boatwright's amazing good fortune and he decides that he wants a piece of it for himself; half to be exact. Shaw, with the assistance of his doggedly loyal companion Romeo, embarks on a plan to force the Boatwright's to share their winnings. What follows is a story full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end.

    Ravens is an exciting read from beginning to end, but it is much more of a psychological thriller than a blood and guts page turner. The book features some great characters, most of whom are nicely developed. I especially found the characters of Shaw and Romeo to be very interesting. Shaw, who is a master of manipulation more than anything else, even seems to believe his own lies after a while, and he craves not only the cooperation, but the devotion of his intended victims. In contrast, Romeo is a villain who I almost found myself feeling sorry for as sometimes he seemed almost a victim himself. I also have to mention Tara Boatwright, who initially I was sure was going to be just another token female victim, but developed into so much more through the course of the book.

    This is a great read, with interesting characters, and a pretty original premise. This is definitely a book that will keep your interest, as well as make you think.

    Check out this book trailer. Actually, I watched it for the first time this morning, and I think it is almost more interesting to see after you read the book because you really know what is going on.

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    Hilarie
    Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:
    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

    • Here is mine for the day:

      The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, page 364

      "She studied the bruises and scrapes on his body. The noose had been so tight that he had a dark red mark around his neck, and the knife had made a bloody gash in his skin on the left side."

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      Hilarie
      I've seen this meme on lots of blogs, and decided to join in today. What are you reading Mondays is hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog. Join in the fun if you haven't already!

      Books I completed in the last week were:

      Graceling by Kristin Cashore - I really thought this book was a blast from start to finish. Check out my complete review.

      Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Audio book Edition) - Somehow I avoided reading this novel as I was completing both high school and junior high. Honestly, I just never was really interested in reading it as I thought I knew what it was about. I only picked it up to fulfill my All American reading challenge. I was surprised by how much I actually liked this book, and how different it was than what I expected. My complete review.

      Ravens by George Dawes Green - I read this book in two days because it really sucked me in. I found it troubling and sort of creepy, but that is usually a good thing in a thriller. I haven't completed a review yet, but I will soon because I've got to be ready to host on Wednesday for the blog tour.

      What I'm working on this week:

      The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson - I'm feeling like I am the last person in the blogsphere to read this book. I finally decided to give it a try. I wasn't really gripped for the first 50 pages or so, but it is getting more interesting now. Also, I had no idea that the book was published posthumously, so now I have to finish so I can decide if it really is as good as I've heard, or just the legacy of someone who died so tragically young (yes, I realize he was 50, but as I'm now in my 30's that seems pretty young to me).

      Mort by Terry Pratchett - I've read this one before, but it's been at least five years. I'd forgotten how much fun this one is. Those of you who have visited my blog before already know my feelings about Terry, so I'll leave it at that.

      North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell - I started this a while ago. It's not that I'm not enjoying it, it's just that it is a bit slower paced than some other reads and I keep getting sidetracked. Perhaps I should try moving this book to a more prominent location so I reach for it more often.

      Sunshine by Robin McKinley (Audio book Edition) - The story of a vampire and a baker. I'm enjoying this one, even if every time I listen I want to make a run to Cinnabon.

      Q&A or Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup (Audio book Edition) - So different from the movie, which I watched first. Basically, only the premise is the same so far. I am really enjoying it so far, and the narrator is especially excellent. So far, this is one of the best audio books I've listened to in a while.

      So, what are you reading this week?



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      Hilarie

      Rating:
      Genre: Adult Fiction, Science Fiction
      Reading Challenges: 34 for 100+ in 2009, 1 of 10 for All American Reading Challenge

      Farenheit 451 was first published in 1953, so as I started on my first reading of the book I wondered if it would feel dated. After finishing it, I've decided that this book is even more relevant today than when it was first written.

      Farenheit 451 is set sometime in the future (Bradbury wisely chose not to set a specific date for his story), and is the story of Guy Montag, a professional book burner, or "fireman." In Montag's time, American society now focuses primarily on constant pleasure seeking without inhibitions of any kind. Intellectual pursuits such as reading or writing are strongly discouraged, and those found owning any banned piece of literature (which by this time includes almost any piece of literature) are punished by imprisonment, while their homes are burned with the offending books inside. It is a time of apathy and lawlessness, and most of the population spends almost their entire lives focused on vacuous entertainment which massages the minds of the masses into an intellectual sleep. Montag's contentment with this existence is disrupted one day when he meets a young girl, Clarrise, who engages him in a conversation that begins to awaken in him the desire for a more meaningful life. Ultimately, Montag rebels and finds himself a fugitive from the very society that has created him.

      To be upfront, I will admit that I hate modern television, specifically the drivel of reality tv that consists of watching the antics of dysfunctional individuals in all their horrific glory. I will be the first to admit that I enjoy television shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica which actually seem to have a story driven plot, and are delightfully complex. Still, I am blown away by a recent statistic that states that the average American spends 7 hours a day watching television. At this point, you are probably wondering, what does television have to do with Farenheit 451? This is not a novel about censorship, although that certainly is present in the novel. Bradbury has stated that the novel is primarily an exploration of how the obsession with television and mass media can or will destroy our desire to read. I find Bradbury's idea of the future frightening, especially when I consider that so many of my own acquaintances can't even remember the last time they read a book for enjoyment. In fact, that is the reason I was primarily attracted to book blogging. I wanted to find a place to share my love of books with others, and I couldn't seem to fill that need in my local community.

      I found the coda that Bradbury added in a later edition to be especially interesting. As I was listening, it was spooky when I considered how many aspects of the novel have an equivalent in our modern society. One example that jumps out to me is the "seashell" device that Montag's wife Mildred is wearing almost continuously throughout the novel. Bradbury later wrote:

      "In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap-opera cries, sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction."

      This book is a classic, and it deserves to be. If you haven't ever read this book, or if it has been a while, give it a try. If nothing else, it will give you plenty to think about.
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      Hilarie
      Rating:
      Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
      Reading Challenges: 33 for 100+ in 2009

      I first became interested in Graceling after reading a review at The Book Nest. I'm glad I followed her recommendation, because pretty much from the first page I was hooked. This is the perfect summer read for either laying by the pool or relaxing beneath a shady tree.

      Our heroine, Katsa, is blessed, or cursed at times in her opinion, with a grace. In Katsa's world, a grace is a sort of innate ability that certain people are born with. Graces can be as simple as being able to play the flute really well, or as powerful as being able to read minds. Katsa's grace just happens to be killing, and as such, is exploited by her Uncle, the king, to preserve his own power and ensure that his demands are met. Katsa's role as royal enforcer often leaves her troubled, and somewhat afraid of her own powers. Deep down, Katsa is also lonely, although she doesn't realize it. That is, until she meets Po, a prince with a powerful fighting grace that seems to rival her own. As Katsa learns more about Po, and his mysterious grace, she also learns more about herself and finds the freedom to choose her own path.

      This book was pure fun. The story had plenty of action, beginning even from the first page, and I found Katsa to be a complex but likeable character. The romance was sweet, without being overly sappy, although I did find Katsa's negative views of marriage as somewhat puzzling. This may sound strange, but I also really enjoyed the antagonist in the novel. We don't actually see much of his character, but his grace was just so sneaky! Cashore kept me guessing to the end as to how or if he would be ultimately defeated. I am glad that I gave this book a try and I plan on reading Fire, Cashore's soon to be released second novel.

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