Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review of Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Synopsis: "Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone."

My Review: The first time I read this book was February of last year, I re-read it multiple times last year because I loved it so much. I found it easy, with Cashore's writing, to really immerse myself in the world of the Seven Kingdoms. I fell in love with the characters, even in their bad times and with their downfalls. Katsa is such a strong character and it was great to watch her come into her own and finally become her own and be comfortable with herself. I was also great to watch her build friendships and relationships with the characters she meets along her journey, even trust others as she hadn't before. Po is of course amazing, though he can be a little self centered at times, but he is always patient with Katsa and tries to do what is best for others. But of all the characters I love Bitterblue the most. Even after all she has been through, or maybe because of it, she is strong, trusting and has more courage than so many others. She is prepared to face any challenge even if it is a large group of grown men with swords, to protect those she loves. A fantastic adventure in a beautifully created world that teaches us to each find our own strength.

My Rating: This is definitely a Four Paws and a Stump Wag book for me! I can't pull myself away from it once I start and when I finish the book I can't wait to get back into the world Kristin Cashore created and reconnected with the characters I love so much.

Shelving Saturday - #12

Welcome to Shelving Saturday

Shelving Saturday is a weekly blog event I have started here at Eastern Sunset Reads.   Each week I will post a shelving dilemma or question and you can join me in the response.
Please feel free to post on your blog and link back here, please be sure to post the link to your response in the comments so I can come and check your Shelving day out!
Over the past couple of weeks we started re-organizing our shelves. I know some of you are already done but for the rest of us -  Lets see your progress.
I unfortunately did not make any progress this week other than pulling piles of books off the shelves and trying to figure out how on earth they were all going to fit. It has just been too darn hot all this week to do anything other than drink iced tea and read books while laying under a fan!
I will make every effort to finish this project this week so we can move on to our next shelving dilemma!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bedtime Story: Leo the Lop

Its time again for a Bedtime story, and I have finished the children's books for this years reading challenge so I thought I would share some other great children's books with you.  Some of my favorite books growing up were the Serendipity books and I have worked hard to collect many of them (still don't quite have them all).  So we will start with Leo the Lop and his tale about being normal.

Synopsis from Goodreads: "Leo the rabbit whose ears are different from all the other rabbits learns that "normal is whatever you are."

My Review: While Leo the Lop wasn't always my favorite I still enjoyed it when I was a kid and still do! Such a cute little bunny! The illustrations are amazing in this and all the serendipity books, Robin James is fantastic! Leo didn't know any thing was wrong with his ears until the other bunnies finally told him that his floppy ears was what they were laughing at, if only we could all not notice our downfalls like that little bunny. But once a flaw is pointed out, that he isn't normal he does his best to fix it until someone with a "different point of view" shows him that he was normal to begin with and he shouldn't change. That is indeed what our dearest friends and family are for, to tell us that our little quirks are normal, that everyone is normal just the way they are.  A great lesson for kids and really a lesson adults should remember from time to time as well.

My Rating: I love the story and the illustrations and because of that it ranks high on my list but isn't my favorite so I give Leo the Lop Three Stars and a Stump Wag.

Join me for more adventures in the Serendipity books next week!

Goodnight, Sweet Dreams!

Follow Friday & In My Mailbox

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Q. Name 3 authors that you would love to sit down and spend an hour or a meal with just talking about either their books or get advice on writing from?

Well the first author comes to mind immediately, Kristin Cashore, author of Graceling and Fire. I went to one of her talks where she discussed her writing methods and I would love to have more time to sit down and talk about it in more detail. We seem to have similar methods but hers result in books and mine result in piles of notebooks with half finished stories.

The second author would probably have to be Laurell K. Hamilton, she is so in tune with her characters, I would love to hear how she gets so inside their heads and still manages to get it down on paper. Of course, I also love her books and gobble them up!

I think the third author I would love to sit down with would be Kenneth Thomasma, he was the first (besides my parents and teachers) to recognize my writing.  I would love to thank him for that recognition and tell him how whenever I start to wonder if I really can do it I think back to that day.

I went to an exclusive writing workshop when I was in 5th Grade, only 3 kids from each school in the district were able to go. I was one of the kids from my school selected.  Towards the end of the day he gave us all a line and asked us to write a story based on that line (I believe the line was something like "you are back country skiing with a group of friends and suddenly an avalanche starts taking your friends with it, you are the only one left who can get help, what happens next") I actually wasted most of the time he gave us to write, imagining what I would write and in the last minutes I filled the little card they gave us with a really suspenseful bit about skiing down the mountain, with tree branches grabbing my coat and scratching my face, and seeing a clearing ahead in the trees and thinking it was the lodge but only to find out it was just a meadow.  He chose a few winners and mine was one of those winners, he read it aloud in front of the whole workshop. It is still one of the most significant moments to me.


In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by The Story Siren that I have decided to participate in.

How IMM works:
Make your own IMM post! You can post about books you've bought, gotten from the library, received for review... books don't have to arrive via your mailbox.
I post every week, but you don’t have to. You can do one week out of the month or every other week it’s up to you.
You don't have to call your post In My Mailbox... (some people don't even have mailboxes!)
I post my IMM on Sunday, but choose a day of the week that works for you.
Once you have your IMM posted, come back to The Story Siren on Sunday and add your link to the list.
Try to post a comment on other bloggers IMM posts. I don’t expect you to post a comment on every single one, but pick a few!

All book bloggers are welcome, while I’d like to keep the theme to YA literature it’s NOT a requirement.

There is no right or wrong way to do In My Mailbox, you can vlog, you can take fun picture, you can use the books cover art, it’s up to you!

Most importantly HAVE FUN!
I was fairly good this week, I only purchase two books (even though I am on a book buying ban).
Synopsis from Goodreads: "Helen Brown had no intention of adopting a pet when she brought her sons, Sam and Rob, to visit a friend's new kittens. But the runt of the litter was irresistible, with her overlarge ears and dainty chin.

When Cleo was delivered weeks later, she had no way of knowing that her new family had just been hit by a tragedy. Helen was sure she couldn't keep her-until she saw something she thought had vanished from the earth forever: her son's smile. The reckless, rambunctious kitten stayed.
I picked this one up at the pet store while buying Valerie's Birthday present (yes my cat gets a birthday present), she turned 8 on Friday last week.  I saw this book and of course am a huge sucker for black cats and it sounded like a touching story.
Synopsis from Goodreads: "Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't."
The movie for this one looks fantastic so of course I had to get the book to read before seeing the movie!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review of Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Synopsis from Goodreads: "Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone.

That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits."

My Review: I really wasn't too impressed with this one. It was kind of a let down for me because after watching the movie I had really high hopes. I didn't connect with the characters like I should have, and I didn't really get an visualizations from the descriptions. I felt like the book didn't focus too much on the imagination or Terabithia but rather Jess' lack of imagination. I also found it odd how a teacher would single a student out to pay special attention to them and take them on a private field trip. The one thing I did enjoy was the growing relationship between Jess and his sister, May Belle. It was touching reading about his sister's love even when he wasn't that nice to her and then seeing him finally realize that love.

My Rating: I really wish I had enjoyed this one more, but it just didn't click with me so I give Bridge to Terabithia Two Paws.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

I decided to join in this meme for my sanity and your own to keep track of what books have bookmarks in them!
So I missed last week so I will roll those reviews in as well.
What I Read Last Week:
Links will take you to my review
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress by Christine E. Schulze
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Currently Reading:
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - PB - on page 37 of 143
Graceling by Kristin Cashore - HC - on page 47 of 471
A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin - on my Nook, page 20 of 1439
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - PB - on page 23 of 269
Next Books to be Read:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L. Engle - Middle Reader/ 2011 Challenge
Fire by Kristin Cashore - YA/ 2011 Challenge
Leo the Lop by Stephen Cosgrove - Children's Book/Bedtime Story
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris - Paranormal
Bitter Frost by Kailin Gow - YA
I am failing miserably again on my Nano book :( I am spending the next two days at work setting up a new computer but then it is back down to business, hopefully I can get at least halfway done and maybe finish in August.
Hope you all have a wonderful week!