October’s Top 10 Sunday, Oct 31 2010 

Happy Halloween Readers! As of October 31, 2010, the following  are the Top 10 Bestselling Novels according to the New York Times Bestseller List. Five sections, top 2 books in each . 🙂 I’ve been reading when I can and have finally figured out the art of suspending library holds until you can handle them, haha. If all goes the way I’d like it to–meaning it won’t–then by the end of 2010, I will have read 33 books or so. Exciting. So, let’s see… something a bit different from now on–I am going to make your lif easy: Click on the titles to read synopses and other cool stuff like that. 🙂

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Earth (The Book), by Jon Stewart and others
2. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol 1, by Mark Twain

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Worth Dying For, by Lee Child
2. In the Company of Others, by Jan Karon

Paperback Trade Fiction:

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
2. The Girl who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson

Paperback Mass-Market Fiction:
1. The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Hope your Halloween is amazing and safe. ❤

Our House in the Last World Tuesday, Oct 26 2010 

Hello Readers!

Another entry for a book I read for my American Immigrant Experience class. I’ve been writing this particular review for a couple of days and just to be frank with you, Our House in the Last World by Oscar Hijuelos is a slow start, but it picks up quickly. This is Hijuelos’ first novel, published back in 1983. Apparently, this novel was semi-autobiographical which only makes me cringe. It was really hard to read this because  of the content handled–it was handled well all things considered–but if it was semi-autobiographical it makes me wonder how much was true and what he knew about his family that we don’t know for sure. In short and like I said, hard to read, but it made me think and that was enjoyable. So, to get started…

“English forced its way through him, splitting his skin” (95).

I will get to that particular quote in a moment–firstly, the title of the book. For me, the word ‘house’ is unfamiliar, cold, and empty. ‘Home is where the heart is…’ There is a sort of permanence and warmth there. In the Introduction, Hijuelos states, “Ultimately memories of Cuba always seem to loom over the Santinio household like an unattainable ‘last world,’ a fount of happiness to which one can never return” (8). Hijuelos goes on to say that he is “proud of the ambiguity of ‘last world.’ It could refer to Cuba or to our present, perhaps final reality…” (238). When my class discussed the novel, it seemed like many of them found there to be many worlds, while some believed Cuba to be more of  a vehicle to getting them to America. Maybe it is just me, but a house is just a house. Now a home, a home is the  environment within and around the house–it’s the memories and events that take place and the people who come into and go out of your life. That’s home to me. So I guess what I mean to say is that Cuba is home to Mercedes, one of the main characters, while America is just some place she is and despises.

Now–to get to the quote I have there. Language is such a huge part of this novel. While gravely ill, Hector Santinio is taken to a hospital and treated… horribly. His nurse is just nasty and I would love to give her a piece of my mind. How dare she lock a child in a closet! I was livid when I read that. She would keep him there until he learned english. Thus begins a conflict within Hector. If he speaks spanish then he is degraded until he speaks english. If he speaks english, his Cuban family becomes upset. He can’t win. Which doesn’t help because he has no identity. Having been told many times, he begins to believe he is not Cuban, he is not Spanish, and he is definitely not American. He might look one way, but to others he is just as much of an outcast as the rest. Both he and Mercedes dissociate and float away from their bodies on what seems to be a daily basis as to not have to confront the issues that terrorize them. That apart, it is absolutely horrible because he does not have a home–he has a house with a poor father, a mother that must have Munchausen syndrome and maybe even Munchausen by proxy (terrible), and a brother who knocks up a sweet girl and beats people within an inch of their lives before running away to the military. Ugh.

Speaking of violent behavior–there is an obvious and dramatic cycle of abuse in this novel. It is just disgusting. Alejo beats and rapes Mercedes–oh what fun that was to read. 😦 Then, because she claims she has nowhere to place her anger and frustration, she beats her children! Here’s a thought Mercedes–fight back, don’t lie down and take it. Alejo also just lays into his children. Lastly, her two sons: Horatio and Hector. Horatio goes and finds fights which continues the abuse while Hector does not even try to defend himself when his mother or brother go after him without provocation. If you haven’t already been able to figure this out–domestic violence is one of those topics that is touchy and leads to many a heated debate where I’m from.

Overall, this novel was amazing and despite the fact that I have issues with the content–it truly is a fantastic read. In short, I am giving Hijuelos’ Our House in the Last World a 4.5 out of 5.

“Virtuoso writing…. A loving and deeply felt tribute.”
–New York Times Book Review

Just A Little Bit Wednesday, Oct 20 2010 

Hello Readers!

 I thought I might let you in on what has been going on with my 2010 Reading List and a little bit about me… just a little bit. Here goes…

I have removed a certain number of the titles I had on the list. For a couple of reasons I might add–this way nobody can spit thorns in my direction. There were just too many titles to get through. It was a wonderful thought–read over 150 books in a year or less. Granted, I am still reading most of them–I just took away about 50 titles, maybe a couple more. I had too much of a topic that I love reading about in small doses, namely European royalty. Also, I started reading Nefertiti, but I have to return it–have to read other books, so I’ll be returning to Egypt one day. 🙂 In any case, that is what’s going on there.

New news with me–I am in the process of making a 2011 Reading List. It is very short and reasonable. The books for 2011 seem to have a theme so that should be fun to play with and see where it takes me. I would like it if I could finish it by the end of 2011, that is how short it is. I am giving my 2010 list a little over a year to be done, however, starting Summer 2011, I’ll probably be mixing up the lists just a bit. I will release the 2011 list in the new year. However, I suppose if you want a sneak peek, you could always ask–ya know? 😉

My original list can be found here, 2010 Reading List. My revised list goes as follows:

Anything that is crossed out, I have finished reading and reviewed by October 19, 2010.
** Indicates that it is currently on hold and what is to come within the next month

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen R. Prothero
The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott
Angelology by Danielle Trussoni
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
                The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
                The Girl Who Played with Fire
                The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Eve Duncan Saga by Iris Johansen
                The Face of Deception
                The Killing Game
                The Search
                Body of Lies
                Blind Alley
                Blood Game
                Eight Days to Live
Blue Bloods Series by Melissa de la Cruz
                Blue Bloods
                The Van Alen Legacy
                Misguided Angel
Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs
                Moon Called
                Blood Bound
                Iron Kissed
                Bone Crossed
                Silver Borne
                River Marked
Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Series
 by Laurell K. Hamilton
                Guilty Pleasures
                **The Laughing Corpse
                Circus of the Damned
                The Lunatic Cafe
                Bloody Bones
                The Killing Dance
                Burnt Offerings
                Blue Moon
                Obsidian Butterfly
                Narcissus in Chains
                Cerulean Sins
                Incubus Dreams
                Danse Macabre
                The Harlequin
                Blood Noir
                Skin Trade
Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
                Vampire Academy
                **Shadow Kiss
                Blood Promise
                Spirit Bound
                Last Sacrifice
Vampire Kisses Series by Ellen Schreiber
                Vampire Kisses
                **Kissing Coffins
                Dance with a Vampire
                The Coffin Club
                Royal Blood
                Love Bites

Happy Reading!

Frostbite Sunday, Oct 17 2010 

Hello Readers. Long time, no see. So far, October has been a busy month. And besides, since it is October, you would think I would try to get a theme for all the books I read and make them all supernatural–I already read that general genre, so I’m good and maybe slightly ahead of the game. 76 days (give or take a day or two) until a new year which means I will soon be compiling a new list of books that look interesting. This time I know to keep it looking reasonable. So, to the reason this entry is going up: Frostbite byRichelle Mead. If you haven’t already guessed, the title says it all.

“It had taken me several moments to grasp what she was talking about. Then it occurred to me that in decapitating two Strigoi, I’d earned two molnija tattoos. My first ones. The realization had stunned me. All my life, in considering my future career as a guardian, I’d looked forward to the marks. I’d seen them as badges of honor. But now? Mainly they were going to be reminders of something I wanted to forget” (Pg. 312).

In the sequel to Vampire Academy, our favorite dhampir is back and we meet her mother, Janine Hathaway. I won’t pretend to have immediately liked her character, but the more I read, the more I understood her. While part of me is going, “Yes! I understand the mind of a parent!” While at the same time, my mind is screaming at me, “What the hell!” In any case, based on Rose’s words in Vampire Academy, I’d assumed that her mother would not be in the picture at all. The way it had been worded made me think “working mom who puts her career before her child.” However, reading this novel made all the difference. So, that being said, you will like Janine.

Speaking of people you will like, I would like to bring up someone you will love. I would know, I fall in love with fictional characters–but that’s another blog, another time. Anyway! Guardian Dimitri Belikov. There is so much going on with him and Rose in Frostbite–intense as hell. I mean, you add another woman into the mix–not cool Belikov, not cool. Buuut, things are working out and reaaally going well. Things are amping up! I mean, stuff happened with Mason–he might have been what she needed, but he was not what she wanted.

Btw–RIP Mason. That’s all I’m saying.

Now, I’m very happy for Lissa and Christian. Interesting new character by the name of Adrian. Bad boy in every sense of the word–almost–he has a heart of gold. There are other characters that have been developed a great deal and I am really enjoying seeing them transform into the kind of character that is endearing. Granted, there are some that just need to go away. Permanently. Got to meet some Strigoi–they are nasty pieces of work.

So, overall, I really liked Frostbite. Richelle Mead is consistent in how she writes and she writes well. I am looking forward to reading the next novel and finding out where all this leads. Content was great, plot was fantastic, and of course, I love the characters. I am giving Frostbite a 3.5/4 out of 5.

“In a world that seems saturated with vampire books, Richelle Mead has created characters and a world that is both unique and believable.”– TeensReadToo.com

Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, and Silver Borne Friday, Oct 1 2010 

This entry will be a bit different than the others–I get to fit FIVE novels into one review! I found out about the Mercy Thompson series thanks to my roommate during sophomore second semester. I read through them so fast that I caught up with my then roomie and when she finished, I plowed through that one as well. So let’s see, five books, one entry. Pretty much, mini reviews for all. You will have to trust me in the amazingness that is the Mercy Thompson series. Patricia Briggs is a genius!

Moon Called
Meet Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson. Shifter and bad-ass extraordinaire. Oh, and she’s a mechanic. Friend to werewolves, the Fae, ghosts, and vampires. Hahaa, yes! So anyway, this novel was filled with action and an obvious underlying love triangle between three characters. Love Briggs’ characters–was so sad that Mac died. Enter Adam, the very well written Alpha male in a werewolf pack that lives next to Mercy. Lots of different kinds of tension–it was wonderful. I will give Moon Called a 4/4.5 out of 5. 🙂

Blood Bound

Vampire-centric. I would say hell yes, however, these vampire are nasty pieces of work. Mercy is back and this time she is helping her vampire friend, Stefan, with a vampire that is visiting from outside his Mistress’ seethe or coven. Only, things are definitely not as they appear. Let me put it this way, werewolves, vampires, and Fae all have a wonderful thing called politics, and if you think the politics of our world are messed up–you won’t know what to think of these. In any case, Mercy gets mixed up with a vampire that is not only a vampire, but also a wizard who is  a wee bit past crazy–so, in short, the thing is horrifying and downright extreme! This novel does some more exploration of an old relationship with Samuel and Mercy, and the blooming of something new with our heroine and Adam. Blood Bound gets 4/4.5 out 5.

Iron Kissed
In this installation, Mercy is dealing with the Fae. Those of magical folklore. Note to readers: Never say thank you to the Fae–they will take it as you are indebted to them and that will just allow them to play games with you. Games that will kill you. Catch my drift? Good. Now that we have that covered, Zee, Mercy’s Fae boss, needs her help to solve a murder on the Fae reservation. Then Zee gets accused of the murder which was totally bizarre. However, upon finding out who the real killer is, things begin to go south really fast for Mercy. The last few chapters were really hard to read because of the subject matter–rape–but it was handled well. There is conflict between Adam and Mercy because he has declared her his mate and she is not sure who she wants. I give Iron Kissed a 4/4.5 out of 5.                                    

Bone Crossed
Vampires and the Fae are all sorts of bad, but this time, Mercy is… well, I will say this nicely–up shit’s creek without a paddle. Stefan has been sent to Mercy really messed up as a warning that his Mistress is going to hurt Mercy for events that happened in  Blood Bound. An old friend of Mercy’s comes into the picture and in comes a vampire that is horrible, nasty, just all bad! Characters from B.B. return and bring issues full circle. Issues between Mercy and Adam have gotten much better, thank God. Samuel is sinking quicker and quicker into a desire to not live anymore, which for a werewolf, just does not happen. Anyway, loved Bone Crossed and it gets 4/4.5 out of 5.

Silver Borne

“I slid slowly down the wall, bringing him with me as his skin stretched and the bones moved. Watching a wolf change is not a beautiful thing.” (169)

So, so, so amazing! I am so lying if I say I am just a fan. Get ready, fan-girl squeal: Eeeeeeeeeee!!!!! I think this particular novel is my favorite so far. No dealings with vampires in this one and the fae are few, thankfully! Never thought I would change my mind when it came to vampires and werewolves–but for this series, I would sooo be a werewolf’s girlfriend. Now that you are probably eeked by me…

Samuel has gotten worse and it is so sad–buuut… things are looking way up for Samuel by the end of the novel. I typically would not give away the ending, but that is just one part of the ending–so relax. 😉 I really can’t wait for Briggs’ new installments. Ms. Briggs, please hurry!! Hmm… this time around Mercy has not really done anything to antagonize anyone. She just has something that the Fairy Queen wants. As usual, Briggs’ descriptions and her content have worked we together to make something AMAZING. Her characters are so alive and do not necessarily fit the stereotypes set down by society at large. I am enjoying the characters that are slowly but surely being added to the series and I can only imagine how huge the final installment will be–I mean, you can’t really just stop Mercy Thompson.

There’s so much action and a bit of romance for those of us who enjoy that 😉 😉 Briggs goes into more detail about the mate bond between Mercy and Adam which is oh-so-helpful when thinking about how Adam acts when he feels that something is wrong with Mercy. The pack bond he forged with her is also helpful. Love it!! I am giving Briggs’ Silver Borne a 4/4.5 out of 5. I love this series!

“In the increasingly crowded field of kick-ass supernatural heroines, Mercy stands out as one of the best.”–Locus