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Witch Finder
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Gilt
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Funday List: Funniest Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes

Hi everyone! I know I've been slacking on my lists, I'm sorry! This week I'm changing it up a bit, since I do do more than read! Buffy the Vampire Slayer is probably one of my favorite TV shows, if not THE favorite. I didn't feel well last night and the first thing that popped into my head to watch was funny Buffy episodes. Below are my favorite, funny, episodes. I have other favorites, but they definitely aren't funny, haha. All synopses courtesy of IMDb.

Here they are by season:

Season 1:

While there are funny moments, I don't think I would specify any of the first season episodes as strictly funny.

Season 2:

Episode 6: Halloween: "On Halloween, Buffy and her friends patronize an unusual costume shop where customers turn into whatever costume they are wearing." 
 
What happens to them is a scary thought, but the episode cracks me up. Seeing these characters we know so well as someone very not like them is great fun. Also, when Willow scares Giles by walking through the wall is priceless.

Episode 16: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered: "As Valentine's Day approaches, Xander tries to improve his love life through witchcraft and finds himself with too much of a good thing."

This episode kills me. Poor Xander gets his heart ripped out on Valentine's Day, so of course in typical Xander fashion, he casts a poorly thought out spell. Drusilla is my particular favorite in her affections for Xander. And the Buffy-rat is also highly entertaining.

Season 3:

Episode 5: Homecoming: "As Buffy and Cordelia vie for Homecoming Queen, a group of killers gathers to participate in SlayerFest '98."

Buffy and Cordelia's rivalry is the best part of this episode. And it makes the latter part of the episode even more entertaining. The highlights would be Faith ruining Scott's homecoming date, Cordelia trying to kill a vampire with a spatula, and her speech at the end in the library. Just a fun episode all around.

Episode 6: Band Candy: "Adults throughout Sunnydale behave like immature teenagers after they eat cursed candy"

Only two words needed: Principal Snyder. Seeing him revert to teenage form is hilarious.

Episode 16: Dopplegangland: "While casting a magic spell, Anya and Willow accidentally summon Willow's evil double from an alternate universe"

We met Willow's vampire doppleganger in a previous episode, but in this one we really get to know her. Watching the two of them interact is a lot of fun. And how vampire Willow handles Percy is fantastic.

Season 4:

Episode 5: Beer Bad: "Xander finds employment as a bartender at a pub where some of Buffy's friends turn into terrifying Cro-Magnon creatures."

The funniest part of this episode is when Buffy turns into a cave woman. She talks to the little people in the TV, falls off of her chair, and is just very un-Slayer-like. I can't stop laughing the whole time I watch it.

Episode 9: Something Blue: "One of Willow's spells causes her statements to become reality, with consequences both entertaining and life-threatening."

This episode is proof that words are stronger than we think they are. All of Willow's words come to life with some really funny consequences. One particular highlight being Spike and Buffy getting engaged.

Season 5:

Episode 1: Buffy vs. Dracula: "Buffy finds herself pitted against the legendary Prince of Darkness, Count Dracula."

The best part of this episode is Dracula turning Xander into his minion. And Xander's reactions to being said minion. As well as his "distractions" from anything related to Dracula. Just watch it.

Episode 11: Triangle: "While Giles is in England meeting with the Watcher Council, a bickering Anya and Willow mind the magic store and inadvertently conjure up a fearsome troll."

Anya and Willow's feud creates some pretty entertaining moments in this episode. I also really like seeing more about Anya's background, including the fact that she wasn't always scared of bunnies.

Season 6:

Episode 5: Life Serial: " The Geek Trio begin their plans by testing Buffy's abilities and subsequently ruining her attempts at employment."

If I had to pick the funniest episode of the series, this would be it. I LOVE this episode. The Troika (Jonathan, Warren, and Andrew) try to find ways to ruin Buffy's life without her noticing. Poor Buffy is trying to get back on track and trying various ways, but keeps being thwarted. My favorite scene would be Buffy's monologue at the end where she calls Spike a neutered vampire that cheats at kitten poker. Or the whole scene in the Magic Box.

Episode 14: Older and Far Away: "After Dawn talks to a guidance counselor about her feeling lonely, she accidentally puts a spell on Buffy and her friends, trapping them inside the Summer's house with a sword-wielding demon."

While this may not be the funniest of funny episodes, it has its moments. There are some one liners and scenes in here that do not deserve to be missed.

Season 7:

Episode 6: Him: "Dawn's simple crush on Sunnydale High's star quarterback RJ starts to become obsessive, leading Buffy to investigate the boy herself. When Buffy, along with all the other women who see RJ, also fall in love with him, Spike and Xander must team up to discover the source of this attraction. But first they have to keep the women from doing anything crazy in their competition for RJ's affection."

This episode is priceless. This is another love spell gone wrong a la Xander in season 2. But this time we see the effects from the women's point of view. Favorite scene has to be when Spike and Buffy are attacking each other outside of Principal Wood's office, which he can't hear due to classical music.

Episode 16: Storyteller: "Andrew creates a documentary called "Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyres", a record of the current situation in Sunnydale to show to future generations. He manages to capture many important moments, and to annoy almost everyone in the house. But Buffy needs to tear him away from his filmmaking because the Seal of Danzalthar is active and Andrew may hold the key to closing it before it destroys the town."

Andrew is hilarious. He was always my favorite of the Troika and this whole episode is perfect. His humor makes this episode. His storytelling is great. I love getting a look inside his mind.


Well there's my list! Anything you guys would change? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore


Title: Tarnish
Author: Katherine Longshore
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Historical
Tea: Raspberry Black Tea, can be subtle, but also full of zest.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

"Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court—and to convince the whole court they’re lovers—she accepts. Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice—but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart’s desire and the chance to make history." (Goodreads.com)

Tarnish is the third book I read by Katherine Longshore. It is a companion novel to her two others, Brazen and Gilt. This novel is predominantly about Anne Boleyn, though she does play a role in all three books. There have been tons of books written about Anne Boleyn. "Not another one!" you say. But this is not your typical Anne book. In Tarnish, Katherine Longshore gives you a look into Anne's history and what her daily life is like living at the castle as a ladies maid to the queen. Also what it is like to live in her sister Mary's shadow, who also happens to be Henry VIII's mistress.

I really enjoyed this portrayal of Anne. Katherine Longshore doesn't show her as a power hungry, man-stealing girl. She's your typical teenager that just wants to fall in love, preferably with the right man. Unfortunately her goals start to shift when other people try to meddle with her love life, among them her father and the poet Thomas Wyatt.

All I can say is I'm so glad I didn't have to deal with the drama of living in court. We think school is bad? That's cake compared to what these people dealt with on a regular basis. Anne's tribulations echo a lot of what teenagers go through in school: do I listen to what everyone else says? Do I follow my own dreams? How doe these rumors even start? And what do I do if that older guy that I think is cute starts giving me attention?

I liked seeing Anne in a different light that she is often written. Katherine Longshore does a fantastic job of getting insider her head and giving the reader lots of information while still telling a compelling tale. If you are interested in Anne's beginnings, I would suggest this book. It can give you a taste and you can decide if you want to learn more about this doomed queen, who really was just a girl like everyone else.

Brazen by Katherine Longshore


Title: Brazen
Author: Katherine Longshore
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Historical
Tea: Silver Needle, maybe not as popular as or well known, but equally as good.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

"Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?" (Goodreads.com)

Brazen is my second novel my Katherine Longshore and it does not disappoint! It is about the lesser known Mary Howard, betrothed to Henry FitzRoy, son of Henry VIII. I did not know much about Mary Howard before this novel, but it made me want to research her!

Katherine Longshore's novels, which historical and informative, also read like popular fiction. One of the best ways to describe it would be a cross between Gossip Girl and Philippa Gregory's Tudors series. The story line is intriguing and makes the 500 pages fly by. I liked Katherine Longshore's portrayal of Mary. She gave her a voice and brought life to a very interesting part of that time period. Mary was one of the only women that sought to have her own life, her own place to live, not surviving off a man. She's an inspiring woman that more people should know about.

Katherine Longshore admits that she takes liberties with Mary and Fitz's relationship, but in this context, that is totally fine. Also, there isn't any written information saying that she is wrong about their relationship either. This book actually made me cry, which I was not expecting. Mary is a likable main character and you want to see her succeed. I enjoyed this novel more than the first one I read by her, Gilt, for that very reason. The one of the main characters in that one, Catherine Howard (yes, they're related), was not a nice girl. I couldn't feel any sympathy for her and just kinda wanted to get it over with. I did enjoy the historical information though, and the other main character, Kitty, was someone I wanted to know more about.

If you like the Tudors, or don't know much about them and want to, check this out! It keeps your attention and teaches you about the characters and time period without sounding like a book report.
Katherine Longshore's novels don't have to be read in any specific order (they are companion novels), but if you want to read them in order of when each queen was in power start with Tarnish (I'll be reviewing that as well), then Brazen, and then Gilt.

Can't wait to see what, or rather who, she writes about next!

The Wild Queen: Days and Nights of Mary Queen of Scots (Young Royals #7) by Carolyn Meyer


Title: The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary Queen of Scots
Author: Carolyn Meyer
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Historical
Tea: Lapsang Souchong, fiery and wild, definitely not prim and proper, but intriguing.
Rating: 5 out 5 stars.

"Mary Stuart was just five years old when she was sent to France to be raised alongside her future husband. But when the frail young king dies, eighteen-year-old Mary is stripped of her title as Queen of France and set adrift in the harsh world, alone. Determined to reign over what is rightfully hers, Mary returns to Scotland. Hoping that a husband will help her secure the coveted English throne, she marries again, but the love and security she longs for elude her. Instead, the fiery young queen finds herself embroiled in a murder scandal that could cost her the crown. And her attempts to bargain with her formidable 'sister queen', Elizabeth I of England, could cost her her very life." (Goodreads.com)

Mary Queen of Scots has quickly become one of my favorite queens. She is written about more than I imagined and it intrigues me to see the different takes authors have on her life. Carolyn Meyer does a great job of telling the story of Mary Queen of Scots in a way that will keep younger readers interested while still teaching them something.

Mary's life was quite difficult and she experienced more hardships than most people will face in a lifetime. Carolyn Meyer does a great job of showing Mary's feelings and strength throughout the novel. Her descriptions and knowledge of the settings are fantastic as well. Having read a lot about Marie Antoinette (another favorite queen of mine) I know the French court fairly well, but did not know much about Scotland and it's royalty. They are definitely two very different animals. Carolyn does a great job of navigating two very different worlds without confusing the reader.

I think the most difficult part of this book for me, and really any book dealing with royalty, is when Mary was a child. A lot of what she said sounded far too grown up. Yes, I understand she's a Queen at six days old, but that doesn't mean she doesn't talk like a small child. I find this in a lot of historical fiction. I'm guessing this is done so the reader gets used to the character's voice, also an adult is writing it and the character, for a larger part of the story, will be an adult.

If you've always wondered about Mary, but don't want to read a giant tome, I would suggest this one. While it is fiction, you get a lot of background on her and can give you an idea of what you'll get more of in other books (be it fiction or non-fiction). I think Mary is a queen that deserves to be known and remembered. I hope you'll feel the same.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Update

Hello everyone!

Sorry I've been lagging behind, this fall has been a busy one!

I just posted a review for Conversion by Katherine Howe and I have reviews for about six more YA novels in their way! Be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

I will also be starting my usual Sunday Funday Lists and Humpday Spotlight Novels again! Be ready for those!

I have also started posting at The Founding Fields under the name Lady Salvatore. I have two reviews up there, please check them out:

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
"Lady Salvatore got one of her greatest wishes:
an advanced copy of
The Magician’s Land,
the final book in a trilogy by Lev Grossman.



“Lev Grossman ties up his spellbinding The Magicians trilogy in a manner worthy of the highest praise!” – Lady Salvatore, The Founding Fields"



Abroad by Katie Crouch
"Lady Salvatore reads and reviews
her first novel for TFF! Check out her
debut review of Abroad by Katie Crouch.


“Katie Crouch gives readers an intriguing mystery in Abroad. I couldn’t put it down!”- Lady Salvatore, The Founding Fields"

Hope you all have been doing well and looking forward to sharing all the new and exciting posts with you!

Conversion by Katherine Longshore

Title: Conversion
Author: Katherine Howe
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Dual Past Present/Thriller
Tea: Lady Earl Grey, something that you've had before, but different and exciting it it's own way
Rating: 5 out of 5.

Conversion by Katherine Howe is just as great as I expected it to be. I first discovered Katherine Howe when I was at Barnes & Noble in 2009 and saw The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane on their Barnes & Noble Recommends table. I picked it up and instantly fell in love. When she published her next novel, The House of Velvet and Glass, I couldn't wait to pick it up. Then I saw Conversion and knew I had to have it. Katherine is an amazing storyteller and I can't wait to continue reading what she puts out.

Conversion is marketed as a YA novel, but reads more like an adult fiction novel. It is well written and is not like your stereotypical YA novel on the shelf today. The story mainly takes place in Massachusetts at a private girls' school where students are mysteriously falling ill. This combined with flashbacks to Salem during the witch trials make for an intriguing premise and mystery that you can't get enough of.

The main character was relatable and not annoying (thank goodness). The romance side of the novel doesn't take over the plot and it is not a case of insta-love (more thank goodness). Katherine Howe really covers all the bases as to what is expected in a novel. I love YA, don't get me wrong, but if more were written as well as this one was, I wouldn't complain!

I liked that in the flashbacks in this book it was told from the girls' point of view, where in The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane it was told from the accused women's point of view. You don't need to read one to read the other, but having read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane first I caught some references that she makes to the characters from those novels. That's a fun treat for any reader. I really enjoyed the twist at the end and it had me thinking for quite some time after it.

If you're looking for a great dual past present novel, with a little intrigue I'd highly recommend this. And definitely check out Katherine Howe's other novels as well!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Blog Tour: The Black Cane (Dowager Diaries #1) by Eileen Harris










About the Author:

From living off the grid in the Arizona desert, Eileen has moved to the woods of upstate New York. She has authored a standalone adventure novel called Desert Shadow. She is also the author of Alicia Trent Series. The Black Cane : Dowager Diaries Book 1 is her latest release.



Stalk The Author
Blog I Facebook I Goodreads I Amazon 


Synopsis:
The decision to help one small boy turns eight elderly women's lives upside-down. Danger becomes a way of life. If the women are going to save the boy and stay alive, they are going to have to use skills that have been dormant way too long.

Book Links:
Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22825881-the-black-cane
Amazon : http://www.amazon.com/Black-Cane-Dowager-Diaries-Book-ebook/dp/B00JGHCRTU/
Wings e Press : http://www.wingsepress.com/Bookstore/The%20Black%20Cane.htm


"I was really excited to read The Black Cane when I received the email about doing the book blog tour. The premise was unique and sounded like it could be the start of a great new series! The lives of eight elderly women change drastically one day when they decide to save a young boy, Marc. Once they do this their path is altered and nothing is the same.

I really enjoyed the mystery and adventure in this novel; it isn’t something you would expect when you read a synopsis about eight older women that play bridge regularly. It is great to see them actively take these adventures and tasks on, showing you you’re never too old to go on an adventure. The author has given a great introduction to this world and I can see her doing some exciting new things with it as the series continues!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hump Day Spotlight Novel: The Constant Princess (The Tudor Court #1) by Philippa Gregory

The Constant Princess (The Tudor Court #1) by Philippa Gregory

"'I am Catalina, Princess of Spain, daughter of the two greatest monarchs the world has ever known...and I will be Queen of England.'

Thus, bestselling author Philippa Gregory introduces one of her most unforgettable heroines: Katherine of Aragon. Known to history as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. First married to Henry VIII's older brother, Arthur, Katherine's passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match; but when Arthur dies, the merciless English court and her ambitious parents -- the crusading King and Queen of Spain -- have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately, it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England.

Set in the rich beauty of Moorish Spain and the glamour of the Tudor court, The Constant Princess presents a woman whose constancy helps her endure betrayal, poverty, and despair, until the inevitable moment when she steps into the role she has prepared for all her life: Henry VIII's Queen, Regent, and commander of the English army in their greatest victory against Scotland."
 
For some reason Fall and Winter are my favorite times to read historical fiction. So in honor of it being September I thought I'd make this week's Hump Day Spotlight Novel the first in the "Queen of Historical Fiction's" The Tudor Court series. Although this novel wasn't published first, chronologically it is the first novel, followed by the ever popular, The Other Boleyn Girl. If you haven't read these and enjoy history, or are looking to get into historical fiction, check these out!

Sunday Funday List: Top 10 Novels that Have Stuck with Me

Hey everyone! Sorry this one is a little late, quite a busy Labor Day weekend! But this weekend my list was practically handed to me by Tana. Thanks Tana!! I was asked by her to make a list of the top 10 books that have stuck with me. So here they are below, in no particular order:

1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter is and forever will be my favorite series. I catch references to it in everyday life and it has affected me as a reader, as well as a person. I grew up with these characters and learned a lot from them. Their stories are ones that I never get tired of and I miss when I'm not reading them. Every September first I'm sad I'm not on the train to Hogwarts. But I can always go back by picking up one of these books. Thank you so much J.K. Rowling for creating a series that has touched so many peoples' lives.


2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I'd heard of The Secret History, but what got me to read it was reading a quote on the back of another book (The Raising by Laura Kasischke, I recommend it) saying that it was reminiscent of The Secret History. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. I'm a huge fan of a mystery, especially a dark, twisted one. This is especially good for those in college, or that have been to college, as it plays a lot off of what occurs on a college campus. Definitely pick this one up.


3. Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke
Speaking of Laura Kasischke, this novel has not left me alone. I just recently read it, but it's still the only thing I can think about! This thriller is on another level. Once you finish it you see all the signs of what's going on, but while you're reading it you just want to know WTF is going on. Keep an eye out for my review which I will be posting soon on The Founding Fields.


4. The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
This is not the first Carol Goodman book I read, but so far has probably been my favorite. I stayed up all night tearing through it, and once I went to sleep, wasn't able to. I kept thinking about the story, and was a little uncertain of what lurked in the shadows across the room. All of her novels are fantastic and I highly recommend all of them, but definitely start with The Lake of Dead Languages, you won't be sorry.


5. A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1) by Libba Bray

This is one of my favorite YA series. It's set in Victorian England at a private school where some pretty strange things happen. The world building in this is so unique and Libba Bray's description makes you feel like you're there the whole time. I really enjoyed the characters and the story, and have read this a million times. It's always on my list for recommendations.


6. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
This book is in almost in a dystopian vein, which would make it appealing to many kids reading today. The idea of a group of kids being stranded on an island and slowly devolving and losing their minds is terrifying. This book has stuck with me, imagining what would I do if I was in a situation like this? If you like Lost, this is a darker, scary story of what would happen (which if you like Lost, is hard to imagine!), but all involving young, teenage boys. Good luck! Also, it'll help you win at trivia games, thanks Piggy!


7. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
This was a required reading the summer before senior year AP English and I loved it! It's under 200 pages, but Kate Chopin fits so much in there you feel like you've read over 500 pages and run a marathon. The Awakening is a glimpse into life in French Creole Louisiana and what it was like to be a woman there at the end of the nineteenth century. Having been written in 1899 the themes in this novel were definitely a little more "risque" than what the public expected, but it is definitely important for people to read, women and men. I also suggest reading the short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Comparing the way these authors write about womens' lives in this period gives you a lot of insight.


8. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
I thought the first novel I read by Jennifer McMahon, Don't Breathe a Word, scared me. Oh no. That was nothing compared to The Winter People. Holy. Crap. Yikes. I'm still afraid of my closet some nights, and I read this months ago. This atmospheric novel will suck you in and keep you there until you think you're done, but then you suddenly find yourself in the woods and hear something scurry by. ::shudders:: Such a good book. Please read it, and check out my review here.


9. In the Forests of the Night (Den of Shadows #1) by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

One of the best vampire series, period. These are REAL vampires. No sappy love triangles. No one trying to be something they're not. These are scary, dark creatures. And the series is amazing, especially for the age of the author when this was written! When asked for a vampire YA series, this is always the first that pops into my head. She also has a great shapeshifter series!


10. The Magicians (The Magicians #1) by Lev Grossman
I love this fantasy series. It is definitely a growing up story, but also a great fantasy world that I would love to live in. Magic here is difficult and you have to work for it, it's science and math and depends on the weather. Lev Grossman's writing is amazing and you instantly fall in love with the characters, Brakebills and Fillory. If you're looking for a good fantasy/sci-fi series, check this one out!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards



Title: Six Months Later
Author: Natalie D. Richards
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Tea: Lemon Herbal tea, read and you'll see why
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

"She has everything she's ever wanted. But not her memory...

When Chloe fell asleep in study hall, it was the middle of May. When she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life.

Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.

What happened to her? Remembering the truth could be more dangerous than she knows..."
(Goodreads - Six Months Later)

I kept hearing so many rave reviews about Six Months Later and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. When it finally came in at the library I was super excited. I started this coming off of an awesome adult psychological thriller, so I was definitely in the mindset for another one. While this one was good, it didn't quite live up to the hype, in my opinion.

The beginning intrigued me right away, girl wakes up and doesn't remember six months of her life. What is going on? Why is she friends with these new people? How is she dating the hottest guy in school? So many questions that are begging to be answered. As the story goes on Natalie D. Richards has you quickly turning the pages trying to figure out what's going on, but soon a pattern emerges.

This pattern consists of: Chloe figuring something out, but quickly being convinced she's wrong by someone else. This girl does not stick by her convictions. I get that she doesn't remember anything, but that should instinctively make you trust your gut even more. It also consists of her and Adam constantly in a yo-yo of "I like you, but I can't". I swear the same scene happens 5 times between the two of them, even in the same location.

I also think that the answers that we are given don't quite pack the punch you expect after all the build up. The book I read before this one is still running through my head and I'm trying to wrap my mind around it, while I finished this one this afternoon and I haven't really thought about it too much.

It is a good novel, not bad by any means. The writing keeps your attention and the mystery has you going until the end. Sadly I didn't get quite what I expected. But if you're new to thrillers, this may be a good place to start.

Hump Day Spotlight: Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope everyone's week has been going well so far. This week's Spotlight novel is actually a trilogy. The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix consists of three novels: Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen. It's one of my absolute favorite series and he's finally writing a fourth book call Clariel! It's due out in October, so hopefully this gives you all time to read the first three in preparation! If you're looking for a great Sci-Fi/Fantasy, here it is!

"Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.
With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether."
(Goodreads - Sabriel)

"WHO IS LIRAEL?

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr’s birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil.

In this sequel to SABRIEL, winner of the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Science Fiction, Garth Nix weaves a spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger."
(Goodreads - Lirael)

"The Ninth was strong and fought with might, But lone Orannis was put out of the light, Broken in two and buried under hill, Forever to lie there, wishing us ill. So says the song. But Orannis, the Destroyer, is no longer buried under hill. It has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to escape the silver hemispheres, the final barrier to the unleashing of its terrible powers.

Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions -- Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget -- have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how.

To make matters worse, Sam's best friend, Nick, is helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone.

Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer.

Before it is too late. . . ."
(Goodreads - Abhorsen)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Funday List: Top 10 Biographies to Read

Happy Sunday everyone!! It's been a busy one, including dumping a bucket of ice water on my head for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. So while I'm drying off I'm going to curl up with a good book, including one off of this week's list! This week's Sunday Funday List is the Top 10 Biographies to Read. I haven't done a non-fiction list and I think this would be a great way to start. On this list are biographies I want to read and ones that are highly rated/reviewed/recommended. Also big shout out and thank you to Tamra for helping me to come up with this list! In no particular order, here they are! (All synopses from Goodreads)

1. Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever
"In MARIE ANTOINETTE, Evelyn Lever draws on a variety of resources, including diaries, letters, and firsthand accounts, to write this sumptuous, addictive delight. From family life in Vienna to the choke of the guillotine, this gripping work combines a fast-paced historical narrative with all the elements of scandalous fiction: Marie's wedding at Versailles to Louis XVI, the French court, boredom, hypocrisy, loneliness, allies, enemies, scandal, intrigue, sex, peasant riots, the fall of the Bastille, mob rule in Paris, imprisonment, and, finally, execution.

From primary source documents Lever fashions an insightful glimpse into the French court at Versailles. The characters of court are expertly drawn. There is the dashing Axel Fersen, Marie's great love; Maria Theresa, the scheming mother trying to place her daughter on the Hapsburg throne; the legendary Madame du Barry, lover to Louis XV; and, of course, Marie herself.

Luxuriously evocative of the Versailles court, historically sharp and witty, and detailing the compelling story of Marie Antoinette's life, Evelyn Lever's biography entrances readers."

 
I chose this novel as Marie Antoinette is my favorite Queen. I love reading anything fiction and non-fiction about her. For those of you who don't know much about Marie Antoinette, this looks like it would be a great place to start!

2. J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets by Curt Gentry
"Shocking, grim, frightening, Curt Gentry s masterful portrait of America s top policeman is a unique political biography. From more than 300 interviews and over 100,000 pages of previously classified documents, Gentry reveals exactly how a paranoid director created the fraudulent myth of an invincible, incorruptible FBI. For almost fifty years, Hoover held virtually unchecked public power, manipulating every president from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard Nixon. He kept extensive blackmail files and used illegal wiretaps and hidden microphones to destroy anyone who opposed him. The book reveals how Hoover helped create McCarthyism, blackmailed the Kennedy brothers, and influenced the Supreme Court; how he retarded the civil rights movement and forged connections with mobsters; and what part he played in the investigations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. A New York Times bestseller. 'This massive new study promises to be the most extensive and controversial yet. . . . A chilling look at the darker side of American politics,' Library Journal."

Tamra suggested this one and it looks very interesting! I don't know a whole lot about J. Edgar Hoover and I think this biography would be a great way to learn more about him!

3. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
"How did his mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson's biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom.

Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk; a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn't get a teaching job or a doctorate; became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom, and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals.

These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age."


Having learned a lot about him in my seminar on cosmologies class and written a 20 page paper on him I still don't feel I can begin to scratch the surface. Walter Isaacson is known as one of THE biography writers and I can't wait to read what he's written about one of the greatest minds of our time.

4. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
"More than a million readers have thrilled to Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln, the page-turning work of nonfiction about the shocking assassination that changed the course of American history. Now the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts in gripping detail the brutal murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy—and how a sequence of gunshots on a Dallas afternoon not only killed a beloved president but also sent the nation into the cataclysmic division of the Vietnam War and its culture-changing aftermath.

In January 1961, as the Cold War escalates, John F. Kennedy struggles to contain the growth of Communism while he learns the hardships, solitude, and temptations of what it means to be president of the United States. Along the way he acquires a number of formidable enemies, among them Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and Alan Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  In addition, powerful elements of organized crime have begun to talk about targeting the president and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

In the midst of a 1963 campaign trip to Texas, Kennedy is gunned down by an erratic young drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes the scene, only to be caught and shot dead while in police custody.

The events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century are almost as shocking as the assassination itself. Killing Kennedy chronicles both the heroism and deceit of Camelot, bringing history to life in ways that will profoundly move the reader.  This may well be the most talked about book of the year."


Though this isn't about JKF's whole life, I'm very interested to read it. I've heard nothing but good things about this book (and Bill O'Reilly's other books), so this along with other JFK bios are on my list!

5. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
"The tempestuous, bloody, and splendid reign of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) is one of the most fascinating in all history, not least for his marriage to six extraordinary women. In this accessible work of brilliant scholarship, Alison Weir draws on early biographies, letters, memoirs, account books, and diplomatic reports to bring these women to life. Catherine of Aragon emerges as a staunch though misguided woman of principle; Anne Boleyn, an ambitious adventuress with a penchant for vengeance; Jane Seymour, a strong-minded matriarch in the making; Anne of Cleves, a good-natured and innocent woman naively unaware of the court intrigues that determined her fate; Catherine Howard, an empty-headed wanton; and Catherine Parr, a warm-blooded bluestocking who survived King Henry to marry a fourth time."

I'm a huge Tudor fan and have been especially interested in them after going to London, where I bought this book.  I'm a fan of Alison Weir's fiction and know I'll love her non-fiction as well.

6. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
"With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there."

I have to watch the show, since I've been told to a million times, so I figured I should also read the book! Thank you Tamra for showing me that a book even exists! If you like the show and you're not a reader, this might be a good way to start!

7. The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created Alice in Wonderland by Jenny Woolf
"Lewis Carroll was brilliant, secretive and self contradictory. He reveled in double meanings and puzzles, in his fiction and his life. Jenny Woolf’s The Mystery of Lewis Carroll shines a new light on the creator of Alice In Wonderland and brings to life this fascinating, but sometimes exasperating human being whom some have tried to hide. Using rarely-seen and recently discovered sources, such as Carroll’s accounts ledger and unpublished correspondence with the “real” Alice’s family, Woolf sets Lewis Carroll firmly in the context of the English Victorian age and answers many intriguing questions about the man who wrote the Alice books, such as:

• Was it Alice or her older sister that caused him to break with the Liddell family?

• How true is the gossip about pedophilia and certain adult women that followed him?

• How true is the “romantic secret” which many think ruined Carroll’s personal life?

• Who caused Carroll major financial trouble and why did Carroll successfully conceal that person’s identity and actions?

Woolf answers these and other questions to bring readers yet another look at one of the most elusive English writers the world has known."


I love Alice in Wonderland and I read a novel about Lewis Carroll and the girl that inspired Alice entitled Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin that I really enjoyed. Once I saw this biography I knew I had to read it. Authors have so many interesting back stories that inspire their works and I can't wait to read more about Lewis Carroll's.

8. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
"From best-selling author Walter Isaacson comes the landmark biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

In Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs' professional and personal life. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs' family members and key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation."


Being a Mac and Apple girl (other than my Samsung Galaxy S5, sorry not sorry) I'm intrigued by the innovator behind the trademark apple with the bite out of it. Again Walter Isaacson writes about a powerhouse in another applauded biographical novel.

9. Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie
"Sleek. Chic. Notoriously guarded. Welcome to the secret world of Gabrielle Chanel.

The story of Chanel begins with an abandoned child, as lost as a girl in a dark fairy tale. Unveiling remarkable new details about Gabrielle Chanel's early years in a convent orphanage, and her flight into unconventional adulthood, Justine Picardie explores what lies beneath the glossy surface of a mythic fashion icon.

Throwing new light on her passionate and turbulent relationships, this beautifully constructed portrait gives a fresh and penetrating look at how Coco Chanel made herself into her own most powerful creation. An authoritative account, based on personal observations and interviews with Chanel's last surviving friends, employees, and relatives, it also unravels her coded language and symbols, and traces the influence of her formative years on her legendary style.

Feared and revered by the rest of the fashion industry, Coco Chanel died in 1971 at the age of eighty-seven. But her legacy lives on. Justine Picardie brings Gabrielle Chanel out of hiding and uncovers the consequences of what Chanel covered up, unpicking the seams between truth and myth in a story that reveals the true heart of fashion."


I don't know much about Coco Chanel, but see references to her on a daily basis and I think it would be interesting how she turned into the legacy that she is. Tamra found this novel and the synopsis hooked me! Can't wait to read it!

10. The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir
"The imprisonment and execution of Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, in May 1536 was unprecedented in English history. It was sensational in its day, and has exerted endless fascination over the minds of historians, novelists, dramatists, poets, artists and film-makers ever since.

Anne was imprisoned in the Tower of London on 2 May 1536, and tried and found guilty of high treason on 15 May. Her supposed crimes included adultery with five men, one her own brother, and plotting the King's death.

Mystery surrounds the circumstances leading up to her arrest. Was it Henry VIII who, estranged from Anne, instructed Master Secretary Thomas Cromwell to fabricate evidence to get rid of her so that he could marry Jane Seymour? Or did Cromwell, for reasons of his own, construct a case against Anne and her faction, and then present compelling evidence before the King? Or was Anne, in fact, guilty as charged?

Never before has there been a book devoted entirely to Anne Boleyn's fall. Alison Weir has reassessed the evidence, demolished many romantic myths and popular misconceptions, and rewritten the story of Anne's fall, creating a richly researched and impressively detailed portrait of the dramatic last days of one of the most influential and important figures in English history."


Anne Boleyn is another one of my favorite Queen's. I'm intrigued by her story and her portrayal in modern culture. Thanks to Tamra for showing me this one as well. Looks like Alison Weir has done it again!

Bonus!: Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy
"The eminent British historian John Guy has unearthed a wealth of evidence that upends the popular notion of Mary Queen of Scots as a femme fatale and establishes her as the intellectual and political equal of Elizabeth I.
Guy draws on sources as varied as the secret communiqu├ęs of English spies and Mary’s own letters (many hitherto unstudied) to depict her world and her actions with stunning immediacy. Here is a myth-shattering reappraisal of her multifaceted character and prodigious political skill. Guy dispels the persistent popular image of Mary as a romantic leading lady, achieving her ends through feminine wiles, driven by love to murder, undone by passion and poor judgment. Through his pioneering research, we come to see her as an emotionally intricate woman and an adroit diplomat, maneuvering ingeniously among a dizzying array of powerful factions — the French, the English, duplicitous Scottish nobles, and religious zealots — who sought to control or dethrone her. Guy’s investigation of Mary’s storied downfall throws sharp new light on questions that have baffled historians for centuries, and offers convincing new evidence that she was framed for the murder for which she was beheaded.
Queen of Scots, the first full-scale biography of Mary in more than thirty years, offers a singularly novel, nuanced, and dramatic portrait of one of history’s greatest women."


Mary Stuart is quickly becoming my second favorite Queen behind Marie Antoinette. I've seen a lot of her in modern pop culture, but haven't read much about her historically. Can't wait to check this one out!

Any of these historical figures someone you'd want to read about? Anyone you'd add to the list?