Saturday, July 31, 2010

Harry Potter Re-read - Part 1

I finished The Sorcerer's Stone in less than 36 hours! I was reading this in the atrium outside of one of my classes and I got some weird looks from two boys. I proceeded to mentally give them the finger...wait until I break out my Sex with the Queen book!

Can I just say that I am so jealous of those people who were infinitely smarter than me and started reading this series as soon as it came out? I actually read them for the first time last summer. If I enjoyed them as much as I did at 18, I can't imagine how much more amazing they could have been at 7. This is still one of the books that I wish I could read for the very first time again.

It's easy to tell that this was a children's/young adult book. J.K. very effectively has the writing style 'grow up' with Harry and the readers as well. I loved re-meeting the characters that we see evolve through the following years. I also noticed a lot of points and details that maybe went unanswered in the first book, yet resurface and are answered in later books (such as why Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts). It's nice to see clues tie up neatly!

I don't know how many of you have ever read any of The Baby-Sitter Club books, but those 13 and 11 year old girls never had adult supervision and did crazy things like solve mysteries and medically diagnose children all while never telling any adults what was going on. Harry, Ron and Hermione remind me of The Baby-Sitters Club in that sense - they are some of the sneakiest kids ever! It ends up making Dumbledore and the other professors look irresponsible.

While reading through the book and thinking about the series as a whole, something occurred to me that I find interesting. When people are asked who their favorite characters from the entire series are, you get answers like Ron, Snape, Luna, the Weasely twins (my personal favorites), or Lupin. Very rarely is somebody's favorite character know, the namesake of the series. Why is that? Sometimes I think that Harry is actually the most overlooked and forgettable character. Is that bad writing/character development on J.K.'s part? Is Harry just a so-so hero? I'm not sure what to make of this. Thoughts?

I enjoyed re-reading this one book more than anything else I've done this month! On to The Chamber of Secrets!

Also, today is Harry's birthday. I think it's his 30th birthday. Sheesh, I can't even imagine a 30 year old Harry!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29 Blog Hop!

Hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books!

This week's question is:
Who is your favorite new-to-you author so far this year?

I would most likely say Jean Plaidy, even though she's been around forever! I read my first book by her this year, Murder Most Royal (you can find my review for it here!), and absolutely adored it! I hope to check out one of her books on Eleanor of Aquitaine and Mary Tudor (Henry VIII's sister, not daughter).

Anybody else read anything by her? What would you recommend? Thanks for hopping by!

"The Queen's Fool" by Philippa Gregory

Title: The Queen's Fool
Author: Philippa Gregory
Published: Touchstone, 2003
Where I Got It:
Why I Read It: um, I needed something to read.

To me, Philippa Gregory is a touchy subject. She picks interesting people to write about, but twists and exaggerates history and calls it the truth. Maybe I should start a meme called Soapbox Sunday, where I pick a book related issue and rant and rave about it.'re up first Philippa.

Anyways, The Queen's Fool focuses on a young Spanish Jewish girl named Hannah who emigrates to England and through a small series of events begins working as a fool for Edward VI (supposedly she's funny, I never saw it.) So obviously, if you know the history, Edward doesn't last long as King, so Hannah is now Mary I's fool. Some other things happen (some grisly murders, a marriage, lots of crying, etc), but by the end of the book I was bored. I was sick of Hannah Green and wished that she would die in a fire. Maybe then the book would jump up a notch on the awesome scale.

If you are a firm Bloody Mary hater and despise everything about her, just read this book and you will immediately change your mind and love her. Most books I've read about her during the time of her reign describe her as old, ugly, and stubborn, not to mention a tyrant about faith (have you seen Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett? Jeez, poor Mary looks like a dwarf ogre). The Queen's Fool does not deny that she is old and ugly, especially compared to her younger sister Elizabeth, but it shows the good in her and overlooks the less than desirable qualities. I have so much more sympathy for her after this; she led a downright sad life.

For some reason, Hannah runs around in boy clothes. I don't think she wears a dress until the end of the book. So this leads me to question who the heck that person in the lovely green dress is on the cover. Hey, if Hannah can woo a husband all while wearing drag, more power to her.

However, the main problem I have with this book is that Hannah had key roles in some major events during that time: she worked for Robert Dudley, and was close friends with both Mary and Elizabeth......pretty impressive FOR SOMEONE THAT DIDN'T EXIST. That's just stretching a fiction story too far.

Do I recommend this book? Maybe. If you like whiny girls and descriptions of people being impaled, go for it.

One big cheery 'ugh' from me. 2.5 stars.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Harry Potter reread 2010

So..I don't know if you've heard, but there's this pretty awesome movie coming out on November 19th of this year. It's called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.

Heard of it? Yeah, I thought so. Anyways, I am extremely excited (even the poster gives me shivers!) and in the spirit of things, I have decided to start my Harry Potter reread. I'm thinking I'm going to make this an annual thing; the Harry Potter series once a year until I die sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

I've also decided that as I go through the series once again, I will blog my thoughts and revelations. Please feel free to join in either with the reread or just post your own thoughts! I'm always up for discussing Harry Potter with friends. Hopefully I will learn new things along the way!

So, to kick things off, I started the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone last night.
It almost makes me giggle how tiny this book is! My version is around 380 pages......a mere baby compared to The Order of the Phoenix at 900 pages. I'm on page 147; Harry is just about to get sorted into his house. There hasn't been much action yet, just a sniffy Hermione and the start of many descriptions of how green Harry's eyes are.
In my opinion, the Dursleys don't get enough screen time in the film! Mr. Dursley's antics to keep Harry out of Hogwarts are hilarious in the book. Also, I'm going to try and restrain myself from comparing the books and the movies, but I do like how The Sorcerer's Stone movie takes lines word for word out of the book. It's much more accurate than the latter movies.
More thoughts later!

I'm also trying to decide on a name for this challenge....Harry Thoughts isn't a really good title.

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books

It's Tuesday!

A meme started by The Broke and the Bookish!

What are your top ten all-time favorite books?

How awful is it to have to choose your ten favorite books? It's like picking your favorite child. Well, if books were children, these would be my favorites:

  1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - I'm sure these will be my favorite books well into adulthood. Nothing beats them. Period. I can't even choose my favorite out of the seven in the series!
  2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - Of all people, my dad first recommended this book to me. He was a slacker all through high school, yet he dearly loved this book. The copy that he gave me has been ripped, stained, and fallen into the pool a few time. No lie, I think I've read it at least thirty times.
  3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein - Oh, who can't help but love Bilbo Baggins? I adore The Lord of the Rings books, but The Hobbit, its prequel, it a much easier read. It doesn't go into as much detail about the scenery, the history of Middle Earth, Elvish songs, or the hobbit's hairy feet. Peter Jackson needs to get his stuff together and make this into a movie already!
  4. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir - This is my all-time favorite historical fiction book. Lady Jane Grey fascinates me. She was literally forced onto the English throne in 1553 by her father at the age of sixteen, held the title of Queen for nine days, and was soon after executed by the orders of Mary I (the start of Bloody Mary, hmm?). Jane didn't want any of that, all she wanted to do was read her books. I can relate.
  5. Avalon by Anya Seton - Another amazing book that soothes my inner history nerd. It follows a young woman in 10th century England as she travels with Leif Erickson and his crew to Greenland and back again. It has kings, queens, love, murder, and Vikings!
  6. The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George - Tackling the complete, personal life of Henry VIII is no easy task, yet Margaret George captured the much misunderstood king wonderfully. At almost a thousand pages, it keeps me happily entertained for a long time.
  7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - This is a really long book. It's also very predictable: poor orphan girl ends up with the rich guy. It's perfect. It's a classic.
  8. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory - The historical inaccuracies make me cringe, but this is the closest to enjoyable chick-lit I'll ever get, and I LOVE IT.
  9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - This was one of those books that I felt I needed to read in order to be a well-read, educated person, but I'll admit, I was scared senseless when I pulled Anna off the library shelf. I can't even explain why I love this's certainly not Leo Tolstoy, I almost had an aneurysm when I read War and Peace.
  10. The President's Lady by Irving Stone - One of my favorite love stories! Better yet, it's a true one! Andrew Jackson sounded like a cool guy, but his wife, Rachel, sounded even cooler.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey

Title: A Million Little Pieces
Author: James Frey
Published: Nan A. Talese, 2003
Where I Got It: Goodwill
Why I Read It: I decided to branch out of HF for once!

Oh Oprah, you and your book club choices! I actually scraped the O sticker off my copy of the book before I read it in public...but that's a whole other rant.

Anyways, it was a pretty good story about James Frey's six week stay in rehab when he was 23 years old. We learned about his life before he was hospitalized, and then the people he meets along the way. I actually liked hearing about his new friend's lives and struggles more than James'. We are also graced with some really disgusting descriptions of vomit.

I was very disappointed in the way that James actually kicked his habit...he basically half-assed his meetings and exercises and didn't do much of anything. I think this is misleading, leading other to think that just staying in a rehab center for six weeks, separated from your drug of choice will instantly cure you. I don't know, maybe this is the point? In my opinion, it was rather weak.

However, the thing that bothered me most about A Million Little Pieces is rather ADD on my part: there are absolutely no quotation marks in the writing. None. It's a bit of a struggle to read and follow along with who is saying what and when. Also, commas are very sparse, rarely used when they are obviously needed.

Towards the end of the book, James is 'confessing' his sins (even though he doesn't believe in a god) and writes down all the sins he can remember committing, starting from when he was just a child. He truly did some horrible, horrible things in his pre-rehab days; this just reinforced the fact that I honestly never felt sorry for him once...until I go to the very last page. It absolutely broke my heart.

I also kept picturing the narrator as James Franco's character in Pineapple Express....the dirty pajama pants and messy hair.

I missed the whole controversial arguments involving the book, but I honestly don't care, it was still just a 'meh' for me. 3 stars.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 22 Blog Hop

Hosted by Crazy for Books!


I am currently reading James Potter and the Hall of Elder's Crossing by G. Norman Lippert. It's a sequel (obviously not written by J.K.!) to the series that takes place one year before the epilogue in The Deathly Hallows. It follows James Potter, Harry's oldest son, as he spends his first year at Hogwarts. It's pretty good actually, it definitely has a Potterish feel to it! It's an e-book though, so I've been reading it rather slowly.

What about you?
Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top Ten Favorite Covers

A weekly meme - this week's topic is:

Top ten favorite book covers

1. Helen of Troy by Margaret George
Simply beautiful!

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
How cool is that?!

3. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
I really hated this book, but a lovely cover.

4. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Simplicity and butterflies!

5. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
I shamelessly promote this book every chance I get :)

6. Watchmen by Alan Moore
A classic!

7. Stealing Henry by Carolyn MacCullough
The simplicity and the expression on the little girl's face are awesome.

8. Emma by Jane Austen
I'd never seen this version before.....more butterflies!

9. The Luxe by Anna Godberson
Look at that dress!!!!

10. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith/Jane Austen
LOL. Just LOL.

Bonus: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
I'm sorry, I just love Orlando Bloom....!

Jana's list over at the Broke and the Bookish was infinitely better, go check hers out!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Washington's Lady" by Nancy Moser

Title: Washington’s Lady
Author: Nancy Moser
Published: Bethany House, 2008
Where I Got It: Barnes & Noble
Why I Read It: I’ve heard that Martha Washington was a badass and wanted to find out for myself

Washington’s Lady takes a very interesting, yet fictional view, into the life of Martha Washington (1731-1802), George Washington’s wife. It begins right after the death of her first husband, Daniel Custis, and ends with the death of George (I’m going to add that this is one reason I love historical books: no spoilers. We all know that George Washington died. Gasp!) In between, we follow her through fifty years of her exciting and heroic life.

Two things stood out to me about Martha. The first was how brave she was. Being the wife of the much loved war general, she was widely respected and loved for being caring and generous. Soldiers practically worshipped her and begged to speak with or get a glimpse of her when she came to their camps. The wives of soldiers were awed by her, yet afraid to be her friend because of her greatness. She was treated as the future Queen of America (the first First Lady isn’t such a bad title either).

The second thing is that despite her selflessness and kindness, death followed her everywhere. Throughout the book, her mother, siblings, children, grandchildren, and husbands die. We of course know that family deaths are inevitable over a long period of time, yet I was still amazed at the number of deaths she had to deal with. To me, this only made her a stronger figure.

As good as the story was, the writing style really turned me off. I am not a fan of short, choppy sentences and this book is FULL of them. Example:
"I started to turn the knob...I stopped myself. I shook my head. No. I would not enter. Ever. Ever again."
Too many sentences start with And or But. However, the biggest no-no is the use of the most cliché phrase in the entire English language: "It was quiet. Too quiet." Yikes!

I applaud Nancy Moser on picking a very interesting figure to write about. She has also written books about Nannerl Mozart and Jane Austen. I would recommend
Washington’s Lady to get good, simplified background information on Martha Washington, her husband, and the American Revolution. I also gained infinitely more respect for the entire Washington family and the grounds on which our country was founded.
3 stars.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 16 - Blog hop

Book Blogger Hop

Hosted by Crazy for Books!

This week's topic is:
What book (past, present, or future) are you dying to get your hands on?

Hmm. This may be a hard one! I'm excited for The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory (8/3/10), Becoming Queen Victoria by Kate Williams (8/10/10) and Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erikson (9/23/10). Also, the news of the reprinting of several of Jean Plaidy's novels made me want to stock up on her books!

I will get back to everyone sometime this weekend!
Thanks for stopping by :)

"The Birth of Venus" by Sarah Dunant

Title: The Birth of Venus
Author: Sarah Dunant
Published: Random House Trade, 2003
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: It was recommended to me on Yahoo! Answers, of all places

This review can also be found here.

Wow. I picked The Birth of Venus up from the library on my way home from school one day and read it from cover to cover in four hours (completely ignoring my homework). I can only think of one or two other times that a book has captivated me that easily.

The book follows Alessandra Cecchi, a teenager in Italy during the late 15th century, the peak of the Renaissance. Her father brings home a young painter from northern Europe who is commissioned to paint and decorate the family's chapel. Alessandra, who loves art herself, is entranced by this mysterious painter (and I do mean mysterious, we never learn this guy's name!). Before anything else can happen, Alessandra's parents suddenly marry her off to a much older man, a man who hides a dark secret. In the mean time, Savonarola, a monk who destroyed what he believed to be immoral art, held book burnings (!), and ranted and raved about numerous other things, is raising hellfire in Florence. The city faces destruction and waves of change. Along the way, Alessandra grows up, deals with life, and still finds herself drawn to this painter.

One reason I enjoyed this book as much as I did is the fact that Alessandra is so likable. She has the three S's: she's sarcastic, smart and strong (well, as strong as a woman in the Middle Ages could be).

Several things still puzzled me. The first was the language. The slang and curse words seem very 21st century....words that I'm not sure were casually thrown around in the 1400s. The second is the identity of the painter. Like I said before, we never find out his name (in effect, he's only called 'The Painter'), but just who is he? We are led to believe that he became someone famous, a person we ourselves would have known and learned about in school. If anyone has any idea, please throw out your guesses, it's killing me!

All in all, the story, setting, characters, and events are brilliant. There is humor, drama, sadness and love. I will say that there was a semi-graphic sex scene that was entirely too awkward, especially when you find out later details. Luckily, the good far outweighs the bad!

I don't throw 5 stars around easily, but this deserves it. In fact, 5+ stars.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Top 10 Most Intimidating Books

A meme started over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Ten Most Intimidating Books

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy - It's SO big and SO Russian.
  2. Any book by Ayn Rand - Two words: monstrous books.
  3. Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer - I gotta admit, this looks pretty silly, but when you think about it, a lot of people won't read these books because they think people will make fun of them.
  4. Anything by Shakespeare - Elizabethan English isn't the easiest thing to read, but that fact that almost everyone reads Shakespeare at least once in high school is another reason.
  5. Watership Down by Richard Adams - A big, fat book full of sadistic bunnies! I still can't believe my mom read this to me when I was 7.
  6. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy - Big, Victorian, and a bit dry in some places. It took me years to get around to this one.
  7. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski - I haven't read this book, but supposedly, it's really scary. That's enough reason right there.
  8. The Bible - Personal opinion here, but everyone should find the words of God intimidating.
  9. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - this is another one of those size issues. Books over 3 inches thick intimidate me usually....good thing this one is well worth it.
  10. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Should be self-explanatory.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Murder Most Royal" by Jean Plaidy

Title: Murder Most Royal
Author: Jean Plaidy (Pen name of Eleanor Hibbert, also known as Victoria Holt. Confused? Yeah I am too. She also has six other pen names.)
Published: Three Rivers Press, 2006 (originally 1949)
Where I Got It: Where else? Goodwill!
Why I Read It: I find Henry VIII and his wives fascinating

"In the court of Henry VIII, it was dangerous for a woman to catch the king’s eye. Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard were cousins. Both were beautiful women, though very different in temperament. They each learned that Henry’s passion was all-consuming—and fickle.
Sophisticated Anne Boleyn, raised in the decadent court of France, was in love with another man when King Henry claimed her as his own. Being his mistress gave her a position of power; being his queen put her life in jeopardy. Her younger cousin, Katherine Howard, was only fifteen when she was swept into the circle of King Henry. Her innocence attracted him, but a past mistake was destined to haunt her."

Sounds like a bad romance novel right? It’s hard to believe that this is a piece of history. We get personal, yet fictionalized looks into the lives of two of England’s most infamous queens. The first chapter begins around the year 1510, with Anne as a seven-year-old girl, and ends in 1542, after the execution of her younger cousin Katherine. What follows in between is such an interesting, engaging story, so wild it almost seems made up.

One thing I ask of you, please don’t base your facts off of this book. The general facts and events are correct, but many historical discrepancies are taken. These are some that bothered me most as I read (don't mind me while I out-nerd myself here):
  • Katherine of Aragon (Henry’s first wife) is described in the book as never being beautiful, even as a young woman. This is definitely not true; she lost her beauty as she aged, but she was a very beautiful young woman, literally called the most beautiful woman in the world.
  • On a related note, Anne Boleyn’s beauty is gushed over in this book. According to historical documents, she was rather mousy looking. She attracted men and friends because of her charm and wit, not her beauty.
  • It is highly doubtful that Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard ever met, even though they were cousins. They ran in completely different circles. It does add a good story-telling element, two future doomed Queens innocently meeting when they are very young.
  • Even more doubtful is that Katherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper (her future lover) were childhood friends...even though they were cousins (too many family relationships going on here!).
  • Speaking of that sly git Culpepper, in reality, he was at least ten years old than Katherine. In the books, he's only two or three years older.....Let's just say that historically, Culpepper was much more of a creep than is ever portrayed in this book.
  • In the book, Jane Boleyn (Anne’s sister-in-law) is arrested and taken to the Tower of London shortly after Anne’s marriage to Henry for speaking treason against her. She may have been banished from court, as she was later on for trying to get rid of one of Henry’s mistresses, but she was never arrested on that charge. Later on, however....sheesh.
  • This can’t really be called an historical error, but Jean Plaidy does take on the rumor that Anne Boleyn had a sixth finger and odd moles on her body. (Not literally an extra finger, just second nail on her left little finger. Still weird.) This is still up for debate.
I'll add that it was refreshing to read a book about Anne Boleyn that didn't make her brother out to be gay for once. That theory really irks me and frustrates me when I read.

If you think you may be interested in this period of time, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book (start with The Other Boleyn Girl, many historical errors, but a nice overview). Since I am familiar with this era, I thought I might be bored. Jean Plaidy is an author you either love or hate, and even though I nitpicked my way through this book, I still loved every minute of it. The writing style is easy to read, I couldn’t even tell it’d been written in the 1940s. I am definitely interested in reading more of her books (that may take me awhile, she’s written around 100!).
4 stars.
Phew! Thanks for sticking around for my rant!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Green Darkness" by Anya Seton

Title: Green Darkness
Author: Anya Seton
Published: Hodder Paperback, 2007 (originally 1972)
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: I swear to you, it was a random choice. A lucky, random choice!

Something that I have always been interested in, even though I don't believe in it, is reincarnation. The fact that there is an opportunity to live another life, so different yet similar to the others, is just fascinating! So, Green Darkness had two of my favorite reading subjects: the Tudors and reincarnation. Imagine how happy I was to find this book!

In Book 1, we begin our journey in 1968, with Celia, an American now unhappily wed to an English man. Soon she starts getting strange visions and acting odd and deranged. Celia babbles about King Edward and dancing, then is frozen in an awkward and painful looking position. Fearing for her life and sanity, she is hospitalized. An Indian friend and doctor fears that she is subconsciously reliving one of her past lives, 400 years ago, a life that needed closure.

We get a glimpse into this life in Book 2, in the years 1552-1559. We follow a young poor, orphaned girl named Celia living her life under the reign of Henry VIII's children: Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth. We follow her these seven years through abandonment, love, marriage, and ultimately, a gruesome end. What I find the most interesting and engaging is the fact that Celia's family/friends/neighbors/enemies in 1968 play basically the same role in her life in the 16th century.

We are swept back to the 20th century for, in my opinion, a less than satisfactory, but sweet, ending. I found that by the time I had reached Book 3 (Conclusion, 1968), I had forgotten all of those characters, so I recommend that after finishing the book, you read Part 1 again. You can make connections and realizations that were missed the first time.

I think Ms. Seton did a wonderful job at creating a truly originally and well-thought out book. The way pieces tie together throughout both of Celia's lives is so creative. It was a rather hefty book, but well worth it!

4.5 stars.

Friday, July 9, 2010

July 8 - Blog hop!

Thought I'd go a little crazy and do a blog hop, hosted by Crazy-for-Books!

The question is: Tell us about some of your favorite authors and why they are your favorites.

What a hard question! I would definitely say my favorite author is Alison Weir. She is a GREAT historian, really knows her facts, and is able to make it all interesting and readable. She is part of the reason that I became so interested in history! Also, she focuses on really great historical events.
Others that I love include Anya Seton, Margaret George, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte....and of course, J.K. Rowling! :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"Innocent Traitor" by Alison Weir

Title: Innocent Traitor
Author: Alison Weir
Published: Ballantine Books, 2006
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: Because.
*Includes historical spoilers*

I am still traumatized by the apparent suckness of Alison Weir's new book The Captive Queen, so to be fair, I'm reviewing, in my opinion, her best book.

The quote from the front flap that reads "I am now a condemned traitor . . . I am to die when I have hardly begun to live " has haunted me ever since I read this back in September of 2009.

Lady Jane Grey was truly a tragic character. She was the grand-niece of Henry VIII, the granddaughter of Princess Mary and Charles Brandon. In 1553, her cousin Edward VI dies of illness, leaving Mary I next in line to the throne. The general population fears Mary taking the throne because of her Catholic beliefs. Since Jane has royal blood and is Protestant, her parents and father-in-law scheme to put her on the throne. It works--but only for nine measly days. Mary and her supporters push Jane off the throne and into jail. While Jane sits in jail for about a year's time, Mary begins marriage negotiations with Philip of Spain, but he won't come to England until all threats to the throne are disposed of.....a.k.a Lady Jane Grey. She is therefore executed for treason at the age of sixteen.

The title first intrigued me. The Innocent about an oxymoron. Yet it rings true in the book. Jane was forced onto the throne by her elders. She had absolutely nothing to do with it, she was just a pawn in their treacherous games. Jane was perfectly content with sitting and reading her books all day.

One thing that might be tricky while reading this book is the slew of characters we meet, and by meet, I mean we are told part of the story from their viewpoint. The book opens with the POV of Jane's mother, Frances Brandon, and closes with the thoughts of Jane's executioner (It's heartbreaking! I cried!). The real problem is that most of the speakers sound alike....meaning Katherine Parr, Lady Elizabeth, Jane's nurse, and her father-in-law all sound alike.'s just great. One of the many things I love about historical fiction is the fact that old dead people are brought to life again, and in Innocent Traitor, an already interesting story line is brought to life once again and made even more interesting and personal. Highly recommended.

50 billion stars.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Top 10 Hilarious Book Titles

Top ten most hilarious book titles

This list can also be found here.

I had so much fun creating this list. It's been awhile since I've laughed this much.

  1. Don't Bend Over in the Garden, Granny, You Know Them Taters Got Eyes by Lewis Grizzard – I think this is hilarious simply because the usage of ‘taters.’

  2. When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin – Silly me, here I was thinking that Jesus was Jewish! I am still baffled as to what this book is even about.

  3. Still Life With Psychotic Squirrel by C.B. Smith – This is an autobiography. I hope one day to become cool enough to have an equally as awesome autobiography title.

  4. Even God Is Single, So Stop Giving Me a Hard Time by Karen Salmansohn – Ahh, celebrating singlehood.

  5. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka – A somewhat sadistic retelling of famous fairy tales. Presents gems such as "Little Red Running Shorts", "The Princess and the Broken Bowling Ball", and "The Really Ugly Duckling"

  6. The Faggiest Vampire by Carlton Mellick III – I’m going to let the official description stand for itself:
    Deep in The Land of Broodsarrow, just outside the village of Gneirwil, and high on a cliff overlooking the Everbleed Sea, there stands the faggiest gothic castle that any mortal being has ever seen. Living in this ancient faggy castle is none other than the well-renowned vampire, Dargoth Van Gloomfang. The citizenry of Broodsarrow sure has its share of faggy vampires, but old Dargoth has always been by far the faggiest of them all. That is, until a new vampire came to town. A younger, hippper vampire. One that emits such a grand amount of fagginess that one cannot help but be completely overwhelmed by his presence. Now Dargoth Van Gloomfang must figure out a way to out-shine this young newcomer if he wishes to ever reclaim his throne as . . . the faggiest vampire.
    He also wrote books called The Haunted Vagina, Satan Burger, and other colorful creations. What else can I possibly say?

  7. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler - Basic plot: teen angst. I might read this just to find out what other big round things are in the book.

  8. Dance Lessons for Zombies by Peter Hiett – This is actually a book about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Who knew? (Did he bring pork chops?)

  9. In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot by Graham Roumieu – Apparently, Bigfoot struggles with eating disorders, casual cannibalism, pop culture, and philosophical quandaries (and basic grammar). And yes, this is going onto my to-read list. Don’t judge me.

  10. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters - While Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would seem more popular for this list, Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Jane Austen novel, thus, this made me chuckle more (or because I pictured Alan Rickman with tentacles).

How about an entirely separate list just focusing on hilariously titled children’s books? Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble at the Yard Sale by William Kotzwinkle would top that list.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Books teach us great life lessons.

Yikes. These books are too depressing to have on your shelf.

How about the fact that the A.I.D.S. books is written by 'Homer Sexual'? Sheesh.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The 10 Greatest American Novels

Happy Independence Day!
In honor of the occasion, I thought I'd post a list of the 10 greatest American novels!

This is not my list, it was composed by Melissa Kelly at here.

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

  2. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  4. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

  7. Call of the Wild by Jack London

  8. Invisible Man: A Novel by Ralph Ellison

  9. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

  10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I feel a bit unpatriotic, having only read To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn.
Uncle Sam needs read the rest of those books.

Friday, July 2, 2010

"The Virgin's Lover" by Philippa Gregory

Title: The Virgin's Lover
Author: Philippa Gregory
Published: Touchstone, 2004
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: I needed a book on Elizabeth I

"As a new queen, Elizabeth faces two great dangers: the French invasion of Scotland, which threatens to put Mary Queen of Scots on her throne, and her passion for the convicted traitor Robert Dudley.
But Dudley is already married, and his devoted wife Amy will never give him up, least of all to an upstart Protestant Princess. She refuses to set her beloved husband free to marry the queen; but she cannot prevent him from becoming the favorite and the focus of the feverishly plotting, pleasure seeking court
Others too oppose the marriage, but for very different reasons. William Cecil, the queen's wisest counselor, knows she must marry for policy; her uncle hates Dudley and swears he will be murder him first. Behind the triangle of lovers, the factions take up their places: the Protestants, the priests, the assassins, the diplomats and the moneymakers. The very coin of England is shaved and clipped to nothing as Elizabeth uncertainly leads her bankrupt country into a war that no-one thinks can be won.
Then someone acts in secret, and for Elizabeth, Dudley and the emerging kingdom, nothing will be as planned."

Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck yuck. Initially when I read this book I liked it. I think this was my first book about Elizabeth I, so I was clueless. The writing was decent and the story line somewhat interesting. I felt that it focused to much on Amy Dudley, even though she was quite interesting herself (especially her mysterious death). I was really hoping for a book from Elizabeth's POV.

Looking back, however......the big problem that I see is that it's very hard to believe and difficult to swallow that, even though so young, Elizabeth was that clingy and needy. This big deal about her being a strong and courageous woman is questioned when you read about her having nervous breakdowns when Robert Dudley isn't around. Who would've wanted that bag of hormones running a country?

The second problem lies more with stupidity on the editors side. The book is set up chronologically and each chapter's title is a date, but half of the time, the years are wrong. For instance, Chapter 7 is titled '1563' and Chapter 8 is '1561' (just an example, I can't remember exactly what the typos are.) I spent at least 10 minutes staring at the book going 'Huh?!' Also, I got distracted by weird and random quotations and capitalizations. Maybe I just had a messed up version?

All in all, The Virgin's Lover left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It also reinforced my feelings that Philippa Gregory should not call herself an historian.

2 stars.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Preview: "The Captive Queen" by Alison Weir

Title: The Captive Queen
Author: Alison Weir
Published: Hutchison, 2010

My day just got infinitely more sad. I've really been looking forward to Alison Weir's newest fiction novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine, called The Captive Queen. I enjoyed her other fiction books about Elizabeth I and Lady Jane Grey, and am anxious to know more about EoA (forgive me, I abbreviate everything)......but word around the book block is that it's really really really bad. A wall-banger.

Alison Weir also wrote non-fiction about EoA, so she obviously knows the facts. If there is a God in heaven, I pray that she doesn't take the Philippa Gregory route and fluff up history for the sake of a good story. Alison is an excellent historian, I hope this isn't the beginning of the end.

Is it just me, or is the cover really unappealing? I also don't like the trend of headless women on book covers.

Reviews such as this one tell that the books is stuffed full of sex. Bad sex, at that. Eleanor's strong character is downplayed as she is sexed-up. This blog equates EoA to Paris Hilton.

Unfortunately, I think I'm going to pass on this one. If I do read it, Alison Weir may lose her number one rank as my favorite author.


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