Friday, January 29, 2010

Black Beauty, a Beautiful Book

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell is a classic young adult book. It was first published in 1877. Then is was a commentary on the treatment of horses in Victorian England. It now reads as a historic fiction book narrated by a horse. I have owned a beautiful copy of this book for years, but until this last week had not read they story. Having watched Black Beauty, I knew the storyline and not. However I was charmed by the simplistic narration of Black Beauty. Quite honestly, the story was a charming book.


Black Beauty follows the life of a horse as he progresses through multiple owners in Victorian England. We meet this horse as a colt and follow him through his adventures as he observes the society and people around him. His commentary discusses the treatment of horses and how fashionable society affected that treatment. Living in both the country and in London, he encounters both kind and brutal owners. He also develops relationships with horses and weaves their stories into his own narrative.


This book is part of the 451 challenge list. That is why I read it and I am thrilled that I spend a few hours in the mind of black beauty. This lovely book could be read by almost anyone from the high ability 2nd grade (8 years old) reader through adults. As a fan of historic fiction, I appreciated the peek into the English society of Black Beauty’s era. If one loves horses, this book would also be an enjoyable read. The third kind of prospective reader would be one who enjoys political commentary. Just as Alice in Wonderland was commentary of that day’s age. Anna Sewell wove many observations about societal norms in Black Beauty’s narration, but leaves conclusions to be formed in the reader’s mind.

This book is one of the 451 Challenge 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mailbox Monday Jan 25th

I finally looked up what in the world bookmooch was and wow, if you have not, it is an amazing way to swap books with people all over the world. This week the only book recieved was through the use of bookmooch. I acquired my very own copy of Jane Austen's Persuasion. I am excited because I love her books I have read.
And now with a brighter outlook despite the rain, I shall start my Monday.

The meme is hosted at Printed Page. Vist there to check other books newly arrived.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weight of the World

This weekend has been difficult at best and frustratingly unaccomplished. I woke up Saturday to another grey and rainy day. The sun poked itself out for a few scattered moments. I did manage a walk in the morning with a friend, but returned to my house only to develop a headache that I have still not shaken a full day later.

Today, I feel listless. My plans for the afternoon have been canceled because of the continued rain. I have a stack of books I cannot begin, a pile of yarn that I cannot crochet, and a list of chores I cannot begin. The really sad part is I am really okay with curling up on the couch with tea and the remote control. I feel like I’m slipping into sadness.

I have gotten dressed up in a favorite new outfit, put make up and fixed my hair, so why do I still feel yucky. I ought to pursue something creative, as that always helps, before I go to church tonight. Otherwise I will be dreadful company. So, I will stop my complaining, pull out my apron, drag out my paints and try to get out of this funk.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

I checked this out as an audio book from my local library.

The Good: The book held quite true to what I do know about Mary Queen of Scots time in England. The trio of narrators enabled the reader to engage in the book from three points of view. First there was the lady of the house, Bess, who also acts as a representative of the rising mechant class. They rose from a combination of hard work and the fall of papal control in England. She was duplicitous and very aware of possesions. Then there was George, who as the Master of the house represents old money and a noble lineage dating back to William the Conquerer. He was consistent in his loyalty to the Queen of England and yet torn by his enamourment for the other queen. The third narrator was the other Queen herself, Mary Queen of Scots. She was raised in the courts of France as a Princess and has claims to the throne of England and Scotland. Yet, she is a prisoner to her cousin Elizabeth, conspirator in pursuit of the throne. Beloved by some and feared by others, she narrates moments of hope anddespair.

The Bad: I mighted have enjoyed reading the book, however as an audio book it was slow moving. It was comprised of  14 CD's with 70 minutes each. I could have done with about 4 CD's less worth of material. In fact I was dissapointed by the overall book. I have enjoyed other books by Philippa Gregory, so I truly believe that I would have liked it better as a read, than a listen.
Additionally, Bess was increasingly annoying as I listened to her issues over money and possessions. I desired being able to skim over her sections, but alas that is not possible in an audio book.

As an Audio book 2 out 5 stars. If you want to check out the book, read, don't listen.

This book is part of my Historical Fiction Challenge 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Finishing Fallen

Okay, first off I didn't wait until I had both books finished. I did finish one, but then Fallen's cover beckoned me. I discarded my other library book, which will now need renewing in order to finish. If you have not seen the cover of Fallen in full size, I must share that it is much more haunting and inticing in person that as a tiny picture on a blog site.

Okay first impressions: I loved the book and am reluctantly passing it onto my friend to read, before I reread it, which I definately must do.

Review: When I purchased the book, I took a risk based on the reviews of my fellow book review bloggers. Most of the reviews I had read gave Fallen rave reviews. I added it to my borders shopping cart and waited for it's arrival. Then when I began reading it, I had a bit of trouble getting into the book. The first couple chapters were not terribly engaging, but I had purchased the book and was determined to give it a go. So I read onto chapter 3 and from that point on all my spare moments were filled with devouring the book.

There were parts of this story that are quite predictable, however as I was discussing relationships in movies and books with a friend, I realised that there are things that have to be predictable or they come out of knowhere and appear incongruent with the story. The story overall was full of intrigue and new revelations. There were plenty of twists to keep one guessing. One of the characters suggests to Luce she will have to learn the truth one chapter at a time, and that is what I would also suggest to the reader. Get the book and prepare yourself for an intense and enjoyable time with the students at Skull and Cross.

What is it all about: (If I really answered that question, I would be filling the blog with spoilers) Luce, short for Lucinda arrived at Skull and Cross school and begins to interact with the student population, who are clearly hiding pasts. Since Skull and Cross is a reform school, and she has her own past to hide, Luce accepts  her new friends secretive nature. However, this state of the unknown does not extend to Daniel the boy who she is drawn too.

My favorite Character: Arianne. I loved that her personality was a study in contrasts. She was hard and soft at the same time. She kept her own secrets secret, yet she exteneded a welcoming arm of friendship. She was at the same time impulsive and far thinking. I imagine she would be a blast as a friend.

Okay enought said, anything else would just be filled with spoilers. I think that's why I am willing to share the book so I can converse with someone and debrief without ruining the read for another.

Completing this book is part of two challenges
Speculative Fiction Challenge 2010
Fantasy Reading Challenge 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Makeup has a shelf life...

The Today Show 's segment on makeup shelf life. It was eye opening.

Okay I always knew that Mascara was suppossed to be thrown out every three months just like a tootbrush, but I had no idea other make up items had such a short shelf life.  Lipglosses with wands have only a 3 month shelf life, while lipsticks have about a 1 year shelf life. They also discussed spf products, eyeliners, foundation, brushes, and cream verses powder shadows. I have cleaned out my cabinet. Actually it was very kathartic. While I was on a role, I sorted my nail polish too, tossing the glumpy.

The best part about getting rid of all the excess, the old, and the expired products in my make up drawer, is now I get to shop for new products. I have two places that I love. Online I visit Eyes Lips Face. It has makeup for as little as $1.00. I love their customizable eye shadow and their shimmer facial whip. The other place I go is Sephora. When I go into their store I am always a little overwhelmed. I head over to the Sephora brand line and reorientate myself. I love their tiny nail polish bottles, because I never run out polisg before the nail polish goes bad. I also love their waterproof mascara. It really stays in place. So, now I get to find some lovely new products.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Between Two Queens

I finished Kate Emerson's book Between Two Queens. I had eagerly anticipated beginning this book. I love reading about the Tudor era. I struggled to get into the book. As I have read many books both fiction and non-fiction around the Tudors, I struggled connecting with the unknown characters in the beginnning of the book. I also had difficulty liking Nan. However, the book had such great reviews, I was determined to give the book a fair attempt. I came to appreciate Nan's position in society. Finally about a third of the way through the book I was captured by Nan's resiliance and the the unpredictable nature of her storyline. I am thoroughly glad I read the book. Additionally I want to read more books by Kate Emerson. I appreciate her ability to weave fiction into fact and craft a complete story about a real person. I also appreciate her index of peoples that concludes the book. In that the reader learns about the people in the book. A warning though, you may not want to read them before the book, they do contain spoilers.

Happy Reading 3.5 out of 5 stars.
This book is also part of my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday Jan 18th

This is a short post. I acquired two books in my mailbox. The first was purchased from After reading the reviews of a great many of my fellow bloggers, I bought Fallen by Lauren Kate. The book is quite alluring. I have not opened it yet, because I have a few books I must finish first. From the reviews, I know it has the potential to cancel plans in order that one may continue reading the book. I am quite excited to have it waiting in the wings. The second book I received compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishing to review. It is caled The Selfless Gene by Charles Foster. The ideas the book deal with have intrigued me since high school. I even did a large project in grad school on Origins and developed a spectrum of authors on the subjects of evolution and creation.  So, I literally jumped at the opportunity to review this book. Now if I can just finish the two of the library books I have started, I will be  able to open the covers of both my new books.

Thanks to the Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Mondays.

And now I am signing off to continue reading Between Two Queens.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Moon by Night and the slow reading week.

The Slow Week
I have been swamped this week by a crazy amount of work outside the classroom, and preparation for what I hope be doing this summer. When I was reading I bounced between 2 books that were not particularly engaging. The first book is A Small Rain, which was published in 1945. It is very much a first book. It has the typical authobiographical feel in the main character and sense of raw talent in the prose. The secong book was her book The Moon by Night. It was contemporary fiction when written in 1963. I now have a pile of books that look more promising.

The Moon by Night
This is part of my personal challenge to read all of Madeline L'Engle's books. This one will not appear on a favorites list. I am not sure if I would ahve finished it without my personal challenge. The Moon by Night one of the YA books about the Austins.
Summary: Vicky is is child 2of 4 and the oldest daughter. She is 14 and seems to be quite moody. Her character annoyed me. The plot has the entire Austin clan camping across the North America. They begin in the Northeast, travel south and across to California, then North and back into Canada and then south a bit and across the Northern states. They meet various people as they camp an frequently run into the same people at later campsites. Most notably is the character of Zachary Grey, who I appears in other L'Engle books.

Review: I did enjoy some of the National Park desciptions. However overall the overwelming anoying qualities of Vicky complicated the enjoyment level. I think I might have enjoyed the book better from the view of John, the eldest child. John seemed to be a wonderfully clever character who might have made fantastic observations throughout the trip. Contemporary in the 1960's much of the story is a bit dated, however the issues Vicky Austin dealt with are issues that teenagers still have.

I would give this 2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Okay I have seen this meme, and this week I have one. On Monday I saw Who Owns the World reviewed at Reading at the Beach.

I was entranced by the review, excited by the book, and curious about who owns the world. So now I am waiting on it. It comes out January 29, 2010.

I think the line that sold me was "Queen Elizabeth II owns 1/6 of the entire land surface on earth (nearly 3 times the size of the U.S.)."
So check out the review (there's also a giveaway ending 1/17). OR if you miss that pre-order it like I did.
Thanks to Breaking the Spine for hosting Waiting on Wednesdays. 
And Bookshelf Monstrosity for helping me find the fun.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yummy Apple Baking Adventure

This weekend I was craving something sweet and warm so I looked through my cabinets and behold the makings of apple crisp. So, I could have looked up a recipe, but I was feeling creative. This is what I used and the result was amazing. The apple part was a bit on the sweet side, so I'd halve the suger next time in the filling.

Apple Crisp
2 cup Oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TBS Butter at room temp
1/8 tsp each ground nutmeg and and ground cinnamon
1/4 cup craisens. (dried cranberries)

2 Golden Delicious apples cored and chopping into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces (I left the skins on but you could peel them)
1/4 cup soy milk (you could use regular milk)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Mix filling and put in 8 inch pan. Mix topping until crumbly. top filling with topping. place in oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. topping should be browned and filling will be bubbly.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mailbox Monday Jan 11

Last Tuesday I went to the Friends of Library used Book store. They have 50 cent paper backs for the month of January. I bought some beloved read that I now get to own and a few new books that I now get to discover.

Purchased for rereading:
All the Weyrs of Pern by Ann McCaffrey. This is from the books of Pern and a fantastic read. If you've never read any of her Pern books, start with Dragonflight. It's one of the early ones and helps the reader understand the world a bit more than some of the later ones which make assumptions about the reader's knowledge.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. I love this book and now I finally own it.

An Acceptable Time  by Madeline L'Engle. I think I may have read it, but for 50 cents it's a worthy addition to my collection and my quest to read all her books.

New to Me:
Black by Ted Dekker. I have not read any of his books before, so I thought I would give it a go.

Mr Darcy Takes a Wife  by Linda Berdoll. It sounds good and I can use it for my Austen Challenge.

Star Wars Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly. Some of the Star Wars books are good and some are not. I am taking the risk.

Thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting this weekly fun. Please visit her site to see who else acquired great reads this week.

Revelations ( Blue Bloods Series)

I saw the Van Alan Legacy in the stores and realized Revelations had come out and I had not yet read it. So I dashed out and picked up Melissa De La Cruz's book Revelations. I had read the first two Blue Blood books in about a week. It took me so long because I had to go back to the library and acquire the second one. I love my local library, but that is another post altogether.
I read the book quickly and enjoyed watching the characters progress through the book, but it wasn't my favorite book of the series. My favorite so far is Masquerade. The ending both concluded the current mystery and left many questions unaswered. I definately want to get the next book. If you like the other stories about the Van Alans, the Forces, and the Llewellyns, then this is a definate read. My favorite character in the book is Bliss Llewellyn. During this book she begins asking a lot of questions. These are serious and yet she doesn't ask her own parents, she seeks out the answers from other sources.
I'd give the book 3 out of 5 stars.

The book was borrowed from the local library.
This book is one for the Speculative Fiction 2010 challenge.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Historical Fiction... One more Challenge

So I am halfway through my second Historical Fiction book, it is only January 8, and I had not joined a Historic Fiction Challenge. What was I thinking? So, I looked around and over at Royal Reviews they have just the Challenge for me.

I'm going to go for Addicted: 12 Historical Fiction Novels
It runs Jan 1 through Dec 31 2010. This is going to be great and I'm super excited to read all the other reviews out there in the challenge.

okay 5 challenges, I can handle it.
The First Book(after the one read alread) : Sisters Who would be Queen

Innocent Traitor by Alison Wier

I checked this book out from my local library. I'll give almost any Tudor book a try, and I am especially a sucker for Lady Jane Grey. This is the third book I have read about her. Innocent Traitor was brilliantly written. Alison Wier moves among the various main characters providing the reader a glimpse into the mind Northumberland, Lady Jane, Mrs. Ellen, Jane's parents, and many others. She titled each section with who was narrating, the location of the action and the date it was occuring. That was very helpful.

While there was much in the novel that was true to the biography of Lady Jane Grey, the book is a novel. By writing it as a novel instead of a biography, Alison Wier was able to infer and fill in gaps to bring the story into full bloom. If you have never read a story about Lady Jane Grey, this is a great start to learning about her. If you have read and enjoyed stories about her life, this is a great additional story about her.
I'd give this a 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Trickster's Choice

I have now been introduced to the world of Tortall, imagined by Tamora Pierce. I picked up The Trickster's Choice at the airport bookstore after wandering around wishing I had my list of to be reads. I am terrible with names, so I am always forgetting new author's names. So I finally decided to play it safe in the the YA section. I found this book and had no idea the boon I was about to discover. I loved the book and am eager to read the next book as it is part of a trilogy within the Tortall books.

Aly, a well bred Tortellan lady of 16 years, ends up in the Golden isles. Once in the islands she is caught up in court intrigue, wagers with the Trickster God, and issues between the Raka and the Luarin that go back hundreds of years. She meets an array of courageous and charming people. The reader becomes acquainted unforgetable Tawat, the calculating Chenaol, and the benevolent Mequen. I am eager to read the next book in order to see what happens to my favorite characters.

This book fulfills one book in my Speculative Fiction Challenge 2010.
This book fulfills one book in my Fantasy Fiction Challenge 2010

For More information on Tamora Pierce and her many books try her website.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo

When I was offered a copy of this book to review, I got really excited and then it didn't come in before I flew out for Christmas. I had to wait until after the holidays to retrieve it from my PO Box. When I picked up the book to read it, I had drank my tea and kept on reading until I had read the last page. It was a quick little read that I plan to reindulge in. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is written by the same author of Jane Austen Ruined My Life.

What I think:
This book placed an American Jane Austen novice in the middle Oxford England for A Pride and Prejudice Seminar. There Claire meets a array of charactors who are not exactly what their initial appearances would imply. She ends up in the middle of a mystery and through it makes discoveries about her own life. The overall plot was somewhat predictable yet thoroughly enjoyable. I loved rambling through Oxford with Claire and sipping tea as she sipped tea with her many new aquaintences. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It is definately rereadable and has found a home on my bookshelf.

The book comes out in February. Thanks to Phenix and Phenix for giving me the opportunity to review this book The following summary and author information was also provided by them.

Claire Prescott is an unemployed office manager from Kansas City who leaves behind her nice, if somewhat neglectful, boyfriend to attend a Jane Austen seminar in Oxford, England. There, she discovers the original manuscript for Pride and Prejudice titled First Impressions. Rumored to have been destroyed centuries ago, it reveals Austen’s secret struggle to find the right leading man for Elizabeth Bennet. Was she really supposed to end up with Mr. Darcy after all?
As Claire pieces together Austen’s original story, she crosses paths with a dashing stranger—her own Mr. Darcy—who causes her to question the direction of her current relationship. But Neil’s unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire’s quest to find her leading man, and she realizes that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected places. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is a lively mixture of humor, romance and intrigue perfect for the Jane Austen fanatic to the hopeless romantic.

About the Author
Beth Pattillo currently resides in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband and two children. Her passion for all-things Jane Austen began when she studied abroad for a semester at the University of London, Westfield College. She has made regular trips across the pond for the past 20 years, the most recent of which took her on a pilgrimage through Hampshire, where she visited many of the sites featured in her popular book, Jane Austen Ruined My Life. Pattillo is also the author of The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society (WaterBrook Press, 2008), Earth to Betsy (WaterBrook, 2006) and Heavens to Betsy (WaterBrook, 2005), for which she was awarded the RWA RITA (Romance Writer’s Association) award for Best Inspirational Romance. Visit for more information.

Mailbox Monday Jan 4

I acquired two books in the last week. This first is a book for me to review called Mr. Darcy broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo. I was a terrific read. I ended up taking the whole afternoon and completing it in one go. Review to come. The second book is called Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce. It is one of many books in the Tortall universe. This book centers around a displaced girl named Aly and her adventures. I am loving the book and excited to see many more books chronicalling Tortall.
Thanks again to the Printed Page for hosting this weekly fun.