Category Archives: Book Reviews

Persuasion Readalong — Sign Up Post


From Unputdownables:

Some Facts About the Read-a-Long:

  • You do not have to be a book blogger to join.
  • We will be reading the book in January (four weeks), with the first discussion happening on Friday, January 4th/ the book is  roughly 235 pages (depending on which edition you read) so that’s roughly 59 pages a week; about 8 pages a day.
  • Don’t be intimidated. We will be going at a slow pace and discussing the book throughout our reading. The discussions are quite fun, and make the reading process very enjoyable!

What is Persuasion about?  

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love? (via


The following is the reading and posting schedule for this read-a-long. Please note, we will be reading roughly 59 pages per week (about 8 pages a day). Because it is always easier for us to stop at chapters (rather than on page numbers, because of different editions), I’ve had to round to the nearest chapter each week. Please look at the week’s page amount to best plan your reading in order to keep up.


Beginning Friday, December 29th and ending Friday, January 25th. 


Week #/ Where to Stop (For example, in week one STOP and place your bookmark at Volume One Chapter IX.)

Week One/ Volume One, Chapter IX
Week Two/ Volume Two, Chapter II
Week Three/ Volume Two, Chapter IX
Week Four/ The End


Post #/ date discussion post will be up on blog:

Start up Post/ Today!
Week One/ January 4th
Week Two/ January 11th
Week Three/ January 18th
Week Four/  January 25th (Final Review)

** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each week to share your thoughts in the comments section of the weekly Read-a-Long discussion (see below for more information).**

How it Works:

  1. Each week, on Friday, I will post my thoughts about the week’s reading. You will have from Friday through the following Thursday to post yours. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments. Regardless, you MUST check in each week (two weeks without a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). You may have only one “off week” (which may not be the last week of reading for obvious reasons) and still be kept on the list, but you must let me know in the comment section by saying something like, “This is my off week — I am catching up!” Please note that, in order to be counted, your offering to the discussion must be about the current weeks’ reading, not about past weeks. ***For all week’s discussions please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others***
  2. As these Read-a-Longs grow, so do the amount of people who participate – yay, all the more fun!!! Also, all the more keeping track of who is still reading. As you know – if you have been absent from discussion for two weeks, you will be removed from the list. However, now, in order to get back on the list, you need to a.) Have missed no more than two weeks of discussion, b.) Let me know you would like to be on the list again, and c.) Consistently be part of the discussion for the next two weeks after requesting to be put back on the list. Am I trying to be mean? Absolutely not! I LOVE having you all read a long. It is, however, a lot of work to keep track of who’s still reading. To keep taking names off and putting them back on the list becomes tedious. Most importantly though, consistency is good for the group; we tend to get to know each other through discussions and rely on the conversation to keep us reading. Since I don’t do these read-a-longs to gain followers (I do them because the benefit of reading certain books with a group of dedicated people is often superior to reading them alone), I prefer to have a committed group – even if it is smaller. Reading with undedicated people is worst of all, which is why I care less about numbers and more about dedication to the book and the discussions. (Bonus! At the end of each read-a-long, those who have completed the entire read-a-long are eligible to be entered into the giveaway that correlates to the book… another reason why it is important for me to keep up with who is reading.)
  3. If you are a blogger, feel free to post a link to your blog if you are posting about each of the each week’s reading. If I, or other readers, have extra time we will gladly try to visit your blog; however, you must make sure to share your thoughts here on this blog, and be part of the main conversation or your comment will not be counted. This is to make sure that our conversation is easily accessible to everyone who is reading, and also to keep it from becoming disjointed.
  4. Comments from the previous week’s reading will be closing Thursday afternoon(before the next discussion takes place on Friday). If you would like to be part of the discussion, please remember to comment before then.

I must join this one, even though I just read Persuasion this last year.  It’s my favorite book of all time, I love rereading it and finding a new perspective or a new favorite line.  Plus, rereading a favorite is a great way to start my 2013 reading.  Would you like to join me?  Jump on over to Unputdownables to sign up!

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Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Book Reviews


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The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Title: The Magician King (Magician #2)

Author: Lev Grossman

Publisher:  Viking 2012

Genre:  Fantasy

Pages: 416

Rating:  5 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Fantasy; Mount TBR; Fall into Reading

How I Got It: I own it!

Quentin Coldwater should be happy. He escaped a miserable Brooklyn childhood, matriculated at a secret college for magic, and graduated to discover that Fillory—a fictional utopia—was actually real. But even as a Fillorian king, Quentin finds little peace. His old restlessness returns, and he longs for the thrills a heroic quest can bring.
Accompanied by his oldest friend, Julia, Quentin sets off—only to somehow wind up back in the real world and not in Fillory, as they’d hoped. As the pair struggle to find their way back to their lost kingdom, Quentin is forced to rely on Julia’s illicitly-learned sorcery as they face a sinister threat in a world very far from the beloved fantasy novels of their youth.
I am completely in awe of this book right now.  I finished it over an hour ago and am still waiting to decompress.  My first thought was “Wow that was harsh”  but in a good way.  This series reminds me a lot of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.  It has some wonderful fantasy elements, but also great discussions on philosophy and religion and life.  And they both take a turn for the dark at some point.  Yet, the dark made the stories more real, more grounded, even as they are set in very fantastical realms.
With the first book, I got a bit annoyed at Quentin and his whole “I am destined for something greater” attitude.  It was a bit too teenage angsty.  By the end of the first book, I was starting to get over it, but I still was a little annoyed.  In this volume, Quentin grew into his own.  He started to truly understand his place in the world (or worlds as the case may be) and I really grew to like him.  Plus we meet up with some old friends (and not so much friends) along the journey.  I loved seeing the characters deal with new and challenging obstacles.  I even started to like Poppy by the end of the book.
My only issue with the book has to do with the format.  The abrupt jumps between the present and Julia’s past were a bit jarring.  They definitely took some getting used to.  I had to keep reorienting myself to time and place.  It was messing with my reading brain.  Even though it bugged me a bit, I still loved being able to see what happened to Julia while Quentin was at Brakebills and beyond.  Her story really brought everything together in the end.  An excellent read.
The Magicians:
  1. The Magicians
  2. The Magician King

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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Book Reviews


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Batman: Earth One preview

Title: Batman: Earth One preview

Author: Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

Publisher:  DC Comics 2012

Genre: Graphic Novel; Superheroes

Pages: 27

Rating:  4 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Fall into Reading; Mount TBR

How I Got It: iBooks free download

Batman is not a hero.He is just a man.

Fallible, vulnerable, and angry.

In a Gotham City where friend and foe are indistinguishable, Bruce Wayne’s path toward becoming the Dark Knight is riddled with more obstacles than ever before. Focused on punishing his parents’ true killers, and the corrupt police that allowed them to go free, Bruce Wayne’s thirst for vengeance fuels his mad crusade and no one, not even Alfred, can stop him.

In the tradition of the #1 New York Times bestselling Superman: Earth One, writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank re-imagine a new mythology for the Dark Knight, where the familiar is no longer the expected in this long-awaited original graphic novel from DC Comics.

After reading this little preview of the longer Batman: Earth One volume, I might actually read some of the superhero comics.  So far, I’ve stayed away.  But I really enjoyed the idea of The Dark Knight.  While I love Adam West’s slightly zany Batman, the darker side of Batman has held much more pull with me.  Plus this volume is beautifully drawn.  Everything is a bit dark, but very clear and readable.  Enjoyable few moments.
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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Book Reviews


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The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Title: The Selfish Gene

Author: Richard Dawkins

Publisher: Oxford 2006 (30th Anniversary edition)

Genre: Nonfiction — Science

Pages: 523

Rating:  4 /5 stars

Reading Challenges: Dewey – 500s; Mount TBR; Fall into Reading

How I Got It: I own it

Richard Dawkins’ brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.
This 30th anniversary edition of Dawkins’ fascinating book retains all original material, including the two enlightening chapters added in the second edition. In a new Introduction the author presents his thoughts thirty years after the publication of his first and most famous book, while the inclusion of the two-page original Foreword by brilliant American scientist Robert Trivers shows the enthusiastic reaction of the scientific community at that time. This edition is a celebration of a remarkable exposition of evolutionary thought, a work that has been widely hailed for its stylistic brilliance and deep scientific insights, and that continues to stimulate whole new areas of research today.
This is such a dense book.  Although I must say that I really enjoyed it.  Okay okay, I started to nod off here and there.  Basically those chapters that dealt with DNA and the really long explanations of genetics caused me to nod off a bit trying to read this before bed.  Once I got to the chapters on the applications of genetics on human behavior, I perked right up.  Those chapters sustained my interest through the rest of the book.  I love Dawkin’s way of explaining using a ton of analogies.  This really did help me understand the topic.  After reading this one, I am debating about when to read his other books.  I’m intrigued, but I might need a month or two to decompress.

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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Book Reviews


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The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees

Title: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

Author: Kelly O’Connor McNees

Publisher:  Berkley Trade 2011

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Pages: 384

Rating:  5 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction; What’s in a Name – Calendar; Mount TBR; Fall into Reading

How I Got It: I own it!

A richly imagined, remarkably written story of the woman who created Little Women– and how love changed her in ways she never expected. Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O’Connor McNees returns to the summer of 1855, when vivacious Louisa May Alcott is twenty-two and bursting to free herself from family and societal constraints and do what she loves most. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire, she meets Joseph Singer, and as she opens her heart, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.
Little Women is one of my favorite childhood books.  I loved how this story allowed the reader to get to know Louisa May Alcott better, even if it is fiction.  McNees wove the historical life events of Alcott with great dramatic passages.  I especially loved the character of Joseph.  I could see exactly how Louisa/Jo could have fallen in love with him despite herself.  I also loved her reunion with him after all those years.  It gave closure to a tragic story.  Reading this book and short biographies of the real Louisa, I appreciate the story of Little Women even more.
This book was also our book club selection for November-December. Just like our last book club selection, all of us had a slightly different view of the book.  I loved the connections to her fictional works.  We had a great discussion on the family dynamic and the philosophies of the time.  We also discussed the obligations of women of the time period.  It was a great night sharing our love of books and some great food.  Plus, we did our gift exchange and picked our January selection.

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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Book Reviews


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Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Title: Suite Francaise

Author: Irene Nemirovsky

Publisher: Vintage 2007

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 434

Rating:   4 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction; Mount TBR; Fall into Reading

How I Got It: I own it

Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940. Suite Française tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy—in their town, their homes, even in their hearts.When Irène Némirovsky began working on Suite Française, she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. For sixty-four years, this novel remained hidden and unknown.

Wow!  A very powerful novel.  I started reading it thinking it was a modern novel writing about the past.  Of course I realized my mistake when I looked up the author on wikipedia.  I thought that the language and sentence structure was a bit strange for a recently written novel.  And it is…  because it was written during WWII and has been translated from the original French.  That explains it!

As to the story, I loved following the various families through the ordeal of the German occupation of France.  We get to see how various people reacted to the events of turmoil.  I can’t imagine having to become refugees in your own country.  It seems inconceivable and yet people had to continue with their lives.  There are some villains (besides the Germans) and yet I can understand why they are how they are.  Overall it was a very interesting read.

When starting this book, I realized that I have read multiple fiction books set during WWII this month.  All three  (Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, The White Pearl, and Suite Francaise) were set in different places.  It was interesting to see how different locations affected lives during the war.

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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Book Reviews


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The White Pearl by Kate Furnivall

Title: The White Pearl

Author: Kate Furnivall

Publisher: Berkley 2012

Genre: Historical fiction (WWII)

Pages: 433

Rating:  4 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction; Fall into Reading; Mount TBR; Color Coded — White

How I Got It: I own it!

Malaya, 1941. Connie Thornton plays her role as a dutiful wife and mother without complaint. She is among the fortunate after all-the British rubber plantation owners reaping the benefits of the colonial life. But Connie feels as though she is oppressed, crippled by boredom, sweltering heat, a loveless marriage. . .

Then, in December, the Japanese invade. Connie and her family flee, sailing south on their yacht toward Singapore, where the British are certain to stand firm against the Japanese. En route, in the company of friends, they learn that Singapore is already under siege. Tensions mount, tempers flare, and the yacht’s inhabitants are driven by fear.

Increasingly desperate and short of food, they are taken over by a pirate craft and its Malayan crew making their perilous way from island to island. When a fighter plane crashes into the sea, they rescue its Japanese pilot. For Connie, that’s when everything changes. In the suffocating confines of the boat with her life upended, Connie discovers a new kind of freedom and a new, dangerous, exhilarating love.

Hmmm… First off, I have to say that I liked The Russian Concubine trilogy much more than this stand alone novel.  I loved the setting in Malaya and the Pacific.  I liked the backdrop of WWII.  I liked many of the side characters.  I just couldn’t stand Connie.  Sure she was stuck in a bad marriage.  But did that mean she had to treat everyone else like she was the center of the universe?  I felt no sympathy for her.  And it made me want to throw the book down a few times.  Don’t get me wrong, the story’s great.  My annoyance at one character made my reading of the book feel like more of a struggle than an enjoyment.

Historical Fiction

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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Book Reviews


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