Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's  topic is Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most!

This one was really hard for me because I usually try to recommend books pertaining to what type of genres my friends/family members/random strangers really like to read. I did my best, however, to come up with a list that I find most people would really like. Enjoy!

1. Pride and Prejudice: Ultimate classical romance for every woman out there. Mr. Darcy ruined it for all of us! Seeing as how I literally love this book so much I read it every Christmas, there was no way I could not put this book on this list.

2. History of Love: I can't even really begin to describe how much I loved this book. This one was so wonderful I want to go out and buy 10 copies just so I can pass them out to anyone and everyone.

3. Kite Runner: I could barely finish this book I was crying so much. I think this book stays with me after all these years because it showed me how far love can reach. The characters in this book show the true meaning of friendship and love, and show how even through betrayal there is always hope. 

4. Mountains Beyond Mountains: This book changed my life. Literally. After reading it, my life did a 180 and I have never looked back. Paul Farmer is truly an amazing person, and this book is a learning experience for everyone about human compassion and the perseverance of a man who refuses to accept any circumstance that is not fair in this world.

5. Glass Castle: This book is part hilariousness, part heart-wrenching, part "I can't believe this is actually true." It's an astonishing memoir and will resonate with everybody who has ever been proud, embarrassed, or utterly fascinated with their family.

6. The Great Gatsby: Everytime I read this book I can't believe the ending really happens. I want to throw the book across the room from frustration, yet it keeps bringing me back. Men and women both will love this book for the secrecy, betrayal, gut-wrenching love story that it is.

7. Game of Thrones: This series is so much fun. Every chapter changes up the point of view with a different character and leaves the reader on the edge of their seat. Be warned though, the books in this series are gigantic and can sometimes take a long time to finish. Don't let that deter you though because the scandal is addicting.

8. Catcher in the Rye: Sometimes I feel this is a book that people either love or hate. I happen to love it, but I find myself always recommending to people just to see what they think of it.

9. Harry Potter Series: Yes, I know technically this is seven books, but oh my word how could I not recommend these books?! I have read the books multiple times and even knowing the endings I find that the books are just, if not more, enjoyable.

10. Bossypants: I am in love with Tina Fey. I honestly think she can do no wrong. This book was so hilarious, that I even recommended to my mother who never reads nonfiction, let alone comedic autobiographies! And.....she absolutely loved it!! I'm serious, go out and buy this right now.

So there it is! A list with something in it for everyone! What's on your top ten most recommended list?!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Out of the Easy

By: Ruta Sepetys

Rating: 4 stars

Who Should Read This: Anyone looking for a quick, easy read in the historical fiction genre.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

t’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. 

She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

My Thoughts:

This was a fun book to read. I needed an easy, fast paced book that had depth to it as well. The author does a wonderful job of painting a picture for the reader of New Orleans in the 1950's. The protagonist of the story, Josie, is so innocent and kind it is impossible not to like her. I would be surprised by anyone that doesn't root for her. As she tries to overcome being the daughter of a woman who works at a brothel and who seems to not care at all for her daughter, Josie sticks to her morals and knows that she can do better than what she has been handed. This books has lots of different characters that just add even more to the dynamic of this story. From Willie, the brothel madam who takes Josie under her wing, but also leads with a stern hand, to Cokie who would do anything and everything for Josie, to Jesse the bad boy that all the girls are swooning over, and Patrick who is loyal and one of those closest to Josie.

Through the writing the reader will get a picture of what it was like to live in New Orleans in those days. I think one of my favorite aspects of this book was how the author was able to humanize everyone in the story. Each character had their faults and Sepetys also shows the characters' compassion and understanding as well. You get a feeling of community between Josie, Cokie, Willie, and the ladies at the brothel. Even though Madam Willie has a sharp tongue and will always speak exactly what is on her mind, she takes care of those around her and is an ally that anyone would want to have. The women who worked at the brothel were each vibrant and flawed in their own ways, and I think that the author did a good job of bringing the reader to their level to see that there was more to each of the women than just what their occupation was.

There is definitely a lot more I could write pertaining to this book, but I don't want to ruin anything for the reader. There is a lot of twists and turns that will leave you hanging and wanting more. It was very hard for me to put this book down. I definitely had a late night finishing this one. Anyone looking for perseverance, loyalty, romance, and suspense will definitely be interested in this book.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's  topic is Top Ten Books you just HAD to buy, but are still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.
Some of these are a repeat from last week, so I apologize ahead of time.

Atlas Shrugged     By: Ayn Rand: My brother has been telling me for years to read this. I went out right away and bought it and I have had it on my shelf for so long. I think what’s keeping me from reading it is the vastness of it!

The Postmistress     By: Sarah Blake: This caught my eye right away at the bookstore…and yet…it’s still sitting on my shelf.

The Clinton Tapes      By: Taylor Branch: I think living in DC makes me want to be more political and interested in our country’s history. Also, I love Clinton!! So when I found this book on Amazon it took me all about two seconds to decide that I needed it. Haven’t even opened it yet. 

Cutting For Stone     By: Abraham Verghese: My mother was in love with this book, so I went out and bought it right away. We both are always giving each other book suggestions. Unfortunately, she lives in California, and I live in DC so it is hard to borrow each other’s book. Her love for it though made me feel like I just had to have this book. I don’t have the heart to tell her I haven’t read it yet. 

Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years     By: David Talbot: I found this book and started reading it right there in the bookstore. I think I actually was 50 pages in when I knew I just had to have it. I have not opened it since that day, but I still can’t wait to read it.

1984     By: George Orwell: I remember my cousin, Carrie, telling me all about this book growing up. Her enthusiasm over it made me so excited to read it, and a couple of years ago I finally got it with every intention of reading it.

Matterhorn      By: Karl Marlantes: This book is as daunting as Atlas Shrugged for me now. It is giant! I love historical fiction though and with all the great reviews this book got I went out and bought it right away when it came out in paperback. My goal is to get to it within the next couple of weeks.

House of Leaves     By: Mark Danielewski:   I HAD to buy this book. Just had to. This book's complexity scares me, and intrigues me at the same time, and I was so excited when I found it, but still haven't worked up the courage to read it.

There it is. Only 8 this week, but still plenty that need to be read! What are some books you just HAD to buy, but are still sitting on your shelf?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, 
they post a different topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. So, this week's  topic is Top Ten Books on your Spring TBR List!!!!
Let me preface this by saying all of these books have been sitting on my shelf for at least a month, but most longer. I don't know why because all of them seem like amazing reads! I am determined to get my act together and stop getting books from the library when I have all these surely great books just sitting there on my shelf.

1. Quiet   By: Susan Cain: I, myself, am a little bit of an introvert, so I am extremely interested in what this book has to say. I was so surprised and excited when I found this book back in December.

2. The Shoemaker's Wife   By: Adriana Trigiani: I feel like everyone absolutely loves this book! I hear so many good things about it, and have yet to really start it. I keep getting books from the library and putting this one on hold, but I am determined now to start it!

3. David Copperfield   By: Charles Dickens: I just finished a book this weekend that talked a lot about this book, and it has definitely been on my TBR list. I think it's a sign!
4. Great Expectations   By Charles Dickens: This is another book that has been on my TBR list forever. I am doing the Classics Club which means I am challenging myself to read 50 classics in 5 years. Seeing how I have only one down, I feel like it is time to get serious about this challenge. An added bonus is I have always wanted to read this!

5. House of Leaves  By Mark Z. Danielewski: Okay, this book has a different kind of hype behind it. I have heard it was the scariest book ever read by one person and a love story by another. Yes, I am serious. How can it be possible? I am not entirely sure. All I know is I can't wait to dive into it.

6. Matterhorn   By: Karl Marlantes: This is a book for the historical fiction challenge I am doing this year. I have recently really gotten into war stories and am fascinated by the bravery of military men and women after reading Unbroken (a MUST read by the way).

7.Fair Game  By: Valerie Plame Wilson: Living in DC it is easy for one to get caught up in politics and the behind the scenes of the most powerful nation in the world. When I heard about this book I just knew I needed it. I finally found a copy at a used bookstore in DuPont and it has been just sitting on my shelf waiting to be read!

8.Three-Letter Plague   By: Jonny Steinberg: A Co-worker of mine graciously brought this book back for me from South Africa and I have been really wanting to read it. We are both interested in anything global health so I think it is going to be an interesting, yet heart wrenching read.

9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close   By: Jonathan Safran Foer: I realllllly want to watch this movie. It is always on HBOGo, but I am determined to read the book first. I heard from a co-worker that it is truly a book that has to be read, but I know if I watch the movie, I won't read it! So I really need to start this one.

10. The Kitchen House   By: Kathleen Grissom: I bought this book while home at Christmas. I thought I would have more time to read, but found myself so busy with the holiday festivities I still have yet to read this!

Wow, okay, after coming up with ten books on my TBR list (and I had to cut it down) I realize just how many great books I have waiting to be read! What are some books you are hoping to get to?!?!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Secret Keeper

By: Kate Morton

Rating: 5 Stars

Who Should Read This Book: Anyone who has been a fan of Kate's other books, and someone who loves stories told from various viewpoints. This book crosses generations, between three women, and is ultimately a book about love, war, and what it means to stand by family no matter what.

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 

During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy. 

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.

My Thoughts:

Wow...just WOW! 

I have been a big fan of Kate Morton's for awhile now. I have read The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, and loved both of those books. I was a little worried that the magic of her writing might decrease, but let me be the one to tell you that it definitely hasn't. One thing that I have always loved about the author's writing is that she always has a twist at the end. There is always something completely unexpected and one that clinches the 5 star rating you were wondering whether or not to give her. The same thing happened in this beautifully, heart-wrenching, love story that crosses all boundaries. 

Laurel is this successful actress who is still dealing with something that happened to her decades earlier. She witnesses her mother commit a heinous crime but knows there must be something more to what she has seen, so she runs after the truth. Even though she knows that what she might find could change all she knows about her mother, she still has the confidence and willingness to discover why and what really happened all those years ago. 

One of my favorite aspects of the book was the part in war-torn England with Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy. Laurel is the one that really ties them all together in the story, but I can't imagine the story being half as good if the author didn't take the reader back to this time where the world was starving for deliverance and battling the decision on what was right and wrong. Dorothy's arrogance and insecurity makes you want to slap some sense into her, while also wanting to hug her and tell her that everything is going to be okay. Vivien's bravery and stoicism is not only honorable, it made me envious. To be so alive and sure of oneself is truly something that not many have. And then there's Jimmy. This man who has loved the same woman for years, who without a question takes care of his ailing father, and who's life is changed slowly but surely by circumstances he never intended to fall into.

Kate Morton did such an amazing job with this book. It paints an exquisite portrait of the sacrifices we make in war, and how everyone deserves a second chance. Her writing captures the reader in a time trance and shows us that, through it all, the thing that will save us is everlasting love. I couldn't get enough of this book and was so sad when it had to end. Don't be surprised if you find you shed some tears, for this book will definitely pull at your heart strings. A definite recommendation and must read!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading

By: Nina Sankovitch
Rating: 4 stars

Who Should Read This Book: Anyone who has ever read a book to escape a bad day, month, or year. Anyone who needs a reminder on the power a book can have and how healing reading can be.

This memoir revolves around Nina Sanovitch, her love for reading, and how reading brought her back to life. After losing her eldest sister to cancer, Nina can’t seem to escape from her question of why her sister had to die, why she was the one chosen to live. She turns to books and decides she is going to read a book everyday for a year. Through this she finds her sister in the books she reads and finds her way back to the simplicity of life and all that it has to offer.

My Thoughts:
Right from the beginning this book struck a chord in me. I kept thinking to myself what would I have done if I had lost a sister or someone I loved as dearly as Nina did. The love for her sister is imbedded on each page and as the reader I couldn’t help but feel not only like I was intruding in someone’s personal thoughts, but also grateful that she was so willing to allow me to come along for her journey. When Nina decides to read a book every day for a year she is walking through life seamlessly, she “was going to live double if my sister couldn’t live at all.” She was rushing through life trying to do anything and everything possible so that she could live two lives, one for her and one for her sister.  She finally comes to the realization that she needs to find joy in the simple things and decides that she is going to read a book a day for 365 days. It was amazing to see a mother of four be able to sit in her favorite purple chair every day, read a book, and then write a review about it the next day while also taking care of her family. It was a feat to behold! 

One of the aspects of this book that I loved the most was the way the author shared her love for reading and describing what all readers have in common. That we can find a piece of ourselves in each book we read. How one book can change our lives and steer us to paths we may never have taken in our life. They give us hope and strength and connect each of us together by bringing us together to share our experience and how we were affected by the story. At one point in the book while reading The Open Door the author reads, “Have you ever been heartbroken to finish a book? Has a writer kept whispering in your ear long after the last page is turned?” And her answer to this question, as so many other readers will exclaim….yes! This book made me appreciate reading even more and all the joy I get out of immersing myself in a story. Reading has taken me to many places and every time I finish a really great book I am so thankful to having been given the opportunity to experience such an adventure. Through reading this book I once again was able to really understand and appreciate the power reading a book can have.