Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten list. The aim is to list ten things within the topic (or as many as possible). When you're done, link back to The Broke and the Bookish and see what everyone has listed as their Top Ten.

This week's Top Ten list is:

What are your top ten most frustrating characters ever?

1.       Rosalind (eldest sister) in The Weird Sisters- The thing that frustrated me the most about Rose was how she always had an excuse. An excuse for why she had to be the one to stay close to home, an excuse for why she couldn’t go to England with her fiancĂ©e, an excuse on why things in her life were harder than others. I wanted to literally shake her and tell her to do something about it. She needed to stop thinking about what others expected of her and think only for herself, if at least just once! Thank goodness she finally did!

2.       Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice- I may get some flak for this one but Mrs. Bennett is so whiney, needy, and judgmental. It seems to always need to revolve around her needs and she can’t stand when a situation doesn’t take her into account. 

3.       Sara (The Mom) in My Sister’s Keeper- This book broke my heart. I remember sitting on my bed just bawling and thinking how unfair it all was. Even my roommate who read it later came tearing in to my room when she finished and saying how much it angered her. I wanted the story to continue so badly because I wanted to know Sara’s reaction to the aftermath of the event that takes place. I found myself torn by completely disliking this woman for, in some ways, abandoning two of her children and in another way knowing that I don’t understand the situation she was going through and don’t know if I would have done anything different.

4.       Hilly Holbrook in The Help- I mean, do I really need to even state why she is one of the most frustrating characters ever?

5.       Ana in Fifty Shades of Grey- This woman drove me bonkers. She kept pining and pining over Christian (who yes, sounded like he would be the most gorgeous man in real life) and let him have this power over her. Not the romantic, “he makes me a better person,” power; it was the kind that made her second guess every decision she made for fear that he would get upset with her.  

6.       Dr. David Henry in The Memory Keeper’s Daughter- I just couldn’t forgive him for what he did. The whole book I blamed him, and I understand that he made the choice he thought was right for everyone, but I just cringed through each page. I got so frustrated with his lie and how it ruined their family I had to give the book up…and I RARELY don’t finish a book.

7.       Victoria in The Language of Flowers- I absolutely loved this book. And my frustration with Victoria stemmed from her not realizing how wonderful she was. I kept reading and waiting for her to realize that she deserved to be happy, that not only bad things will be the big moments in her life, and that she was loved so much more than she even could begin to know. She definitely made some bad choices in parts of the book, but I found myself more frustrated not with these bad decisions, but how she beat herself up about it after the fact.

8.       Fanny Price in Mansfield Park- This woman needed to learn how to stand up for herself. I felt like she was always being taken advantage of! I wanted to jump into the book and smack some sense in to her. Literally!

Ok, I know I am supposed to come up with 10, but am really drawing a blank now. Eight will have to do this week.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

By: Robin Sloane

Rating: 3 stars

Who Should Read This Book: Anyone who has a love for technology and what it means for the world of books. The author plays with the relationship of discovery through the advances in technology and the written word in book form.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

My Thoughts:
My expectations for this book were extremely high. When I read the synopsis for this book on Goodreads I waited on pins and needles to get this from my local library (it's still in hardcover and I'm a baller on a budget) and jump right in. I should also inform you that I am prone to reading too many book reviews before I choose to actually dive into a book, but for some odd reason this time around I did not take that route. I should have. The book was enjoyable enough, and there were definitely some twists and turns that I was not expecting, but overall it fell flat for me. It is hard for me to really explain what went wrong for me in the book without giving away too much of the plot line, but a couple of things that jumped out of me I feel like I can explain without ruining it for others.

One thing I found lacking was character development. The author included a lot of characters that had small parts, but I found myself getting confused on who was who when an individual would reappear. Furthermore, this book made me feel technologically inadequate. Of course, I knew this before I even opened the book, but as I ventured further into the storyline I realized how little I actually knew. This kind of withdrew me from the story because that sort of topic does not hold much interest for me. At one point I almost felt betrayed by how the synopsis portrayed the book. It sounded mystical, which in some ways it definitely came across that way, but the overall theme had me guessing realistically how everything was going to go down in the end. And for the most part, I was correct, which can be disappointing.

With this being said though, as I stated earlier, there were definitely some aspects of the story I really enjoyed. I absolutely loved the protagonist of this adventure. Unlike my belief that some of the smaller characters were lacking in development, I felt the opposite for Clay. He is extremely likable and his curiousness is mutually combined with his compassion for others' differences. He was constantly fighting for Mr. Penumbra and wouldn't give up attempting to help him solve his greatest obstacle. This likability showed through Clay's close friends in the book. They were willing to help him out in all of his endeavors and were supportive, for the most part, with his crazy antics. Secondly, as much as I was not impressed with the entire plot of the story, I give the author kudos for trying to write something different. I can't knock the book in this sense because it really is unlike a lot of books that are being written right now. I fear though that the book may get outdated sooner than later though because of the technology aspect of the book. In a couple of years what was futuristic and ahead of the times will probably be old news. 

Overall, the book was enjoyable, it just didn't leave me with that jaw dropping, I wish I wasn't done, when is it appropriate for me to read this again, feeling. It is a light, fast read though so I wouldn't write the book off. Maybe I just put my hope up too high. Others have loved and raved about this book, so it is highly possible I built this amazing picture up in my head, only to be disappointed in the end.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Language of Flowers

By: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Who Should Read This Book: This book is for anyone who has felt lost at one point in their life. Anyone who has tried to overcome their fears and believed that good things can and will happen.

Synopsis (From Book Jacket):
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

This book was recommended to me through another blogger, and unfortunately I can't quite remember who it was because I would personally thank them!! The Language of Flowers was such a wonderfully written, elegant, and eclectic. The author weaves the Victorian language of flowers into the book so smoothly, and throughout the book you can feel the passion and love that the protagonist has for flowers, from the way she expresses her feelings towards others through the flowers she gives them, to the memories that she attaches to various species of flower. 

The author did a perfect job of developing the characters and by jumping back and forth from Victoria's past and her present. The past plays such an important role in who she has become, and as you get farther into the book you start to see how it has shaped her. There were times that I wanted to reach into the book and shake Victoria. I saw so much potential in her and I wanted her to see just how special she was. Grant and Victoria's friendship at once feels so comfortable and there understanding of each other without even using words is envious and complicated at the same time. 

I highly recommend this book not only for its delicateness and depth, but also for its display of beauty. After finishing the book I had a new appreciation for flowers and the impact that they can have on one. It might sound cheesy, but this book made me want to really study history of flowers and how they have influenced cultures through history. Diffenbaugh does a fantastic job in pulling the reader in quickly and keeps them locked in. Even through exhaustion I could not find the strength to put this book down.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Year of Challenges

It's that time of year again....after all the presents have been unwrapped, the wine glasses are empty, and all the food one can consume has been done.... it is time for a New Year’s resolution! It's a tradition for the New Year. One that almost all of us make and most of us break! Usually I will nonchalantly make a New Year's resolution with the belief that I probably won't last a week, but this year I really sat down and thought of something that would be feasible and fun. 


I just started this blog, and this past year I have really gotten back into reading, so I thought, what better way to really, truly challenge myself with something that I know I will actually strive to accomplish? So I started to check out the challenges out there and came up with a few that I really liked.

The first one I chose was the Goodreads challenge. I did this one last year and almost completed it! I came in a little late to the game in March because I didn't even know this challenge existed until then. This year though I raised the stakes by 5 books and feel confident I am going to hit my goal.

The second challenge I choose was Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2013  that was created by the amazing group at Historical Tapestry. This challenge has levels, and I went for the middle ground because although I have total confidence in myself, I don’t want to overexert my ability. So, I choose the Renaissance Reader level which means I will complete 10 historical fictions. 

The third challenge I am going to try and conquer is The Classics Club , which challenges me to read 50 classics in 5 years. The biggest reason I chose this challenge was because I am constantly saying to myself that I wish I read more classics. I also have 5 years to finish it so I can read the classics at a more leisurely pace.

So that’s it. Three challenges for the year(s). There are so many out there that sounded fantastic, but I knew I had to limit it to 3 at the most or I would be in real danger of getting overwhelmed and not finishing any of them. Wish me luck on this new endeavor.