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Monday, September 27, 2010

{Review:} Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants
Title: Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin (April 2006)
Hardcover: 331
ISBN: 9781565125605
Source: Library
Available on: Amazon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description on GoodReads:
"I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent." Dr. Seuss
Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell. 
Jacob was there because his luck had run out - orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive 'ship of fools'. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act - in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival. 

I decided to read this book because every time I go to a book store I always see its colorful cover. I was a little hesitant at first but I was soon swept up by Jacob's fascinating life story. I began reading expecting the book to be boring and dull and this may be the reason why I enjoyed this book so much.

I loved the narration. This book actually made me laugh at times. It took me on a roller coaster of emotions. I would have liked the story more if it had revealed more about Marlena's character. I did not fully understand why Jacob fell in love with her. Was it because she loved animals or because she looked beautiful in colorful dresses? I don't know.

I also loved how the quote from the beginning ties up the story beautifully. Rosie, the elephant, was indeed faithful.
I just learned that it is going to be a movie released on April of next year. I cannot wait to go see it. I believe Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon will play the parts of young Jacob and Marlena. We will just have to wait and see.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

{Review:} White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat (Curse Workers, #1)
Title: White Cat
Author: Holly Black
Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (February 2011)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN: 9781416963974
Source: Library
Available on: Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description on GoodReads:
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love -- or death -- and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

I was a little hesitant about reading this book. Holly Black's writing is not for everyone. Her character are not the sugar and spice type of characters. White Cat is not the exception. Cassel, her main character, has to deal with a dark past, a troubled family and a dangerous future.

I enjoyed reading a book from a male's perspective. I am not sure how accurately she got it since I am not a male but it sounded convincing enough to me. I also liked that there are no vampires or were-wolfs. It was great reading about curse workers and the magical alternate world Black created.

Overall, I think this was a good start to the Curse Workers series. I liked that it had a good ending and didn't leave me with more questions than answers, like some series do. Yet, she still ended White Cat with enough questions to leave the reader waiting for the next installment.

We will just have to wait and see what new problems await Cassel.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

{Review:} The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephanie Meyer

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse NovellaTitle: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella
Author: Stephanie Meyer
Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Little Brown Books (June 2010)
Hardcover: 178 pages
ISBN: 9780316125581
Source: Library
Available on: Amazon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Description on GoodReads:
Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits. 
In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion. 
Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood... life before she became a vampire. 
All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don't draw attention to yourself and, above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn't know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out. 
Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they know only as "her". As they come to realize that the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trust. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?

The idea of a novella based on the short second life of Bree Tanner did not sound very exciting to me. Bree is such a minor character in Eclipse that I really couldn't imagine what she would write about.

Yet, it was interesting to see the Cullens from an outsider's perspective.

Overall, I liked it. I did not love it but it was OK. It's a good read if you just want something to help with the wait for the next Twilight movie and if you are a fan of the series. If you are not then I don't think this is the book for you.

I really hope we find out what happened to Freaky Fred since he was the only new born that actually left and did not fight the Cullens.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

{Review:} Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Under the Tuscan SunTitle: Under the Tuscan Sun
Author: Frances Mayes
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Broadway Books (Sept 1997)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN: 978-0767900386
Source: Library
Available on: Amazon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Description on GoodReads:
Frances Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. There were unexpected treasures at every turn: faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people. In Under the Tuscan Sun, she brings the lyrical voice of a poet, the eye of a seasoned traveler, and the discerning palate of a cook and food writer to invite readers to explore the pleasures of Italian life and to feast at her table.

I decided to read this book because I have heard many people speak wonder and other say that it is horrible. So I had to give it a try and judge for myself.

The author takes us on her journey as she buys an abandoned villa named Bramasole. We join her as she discover her new life both her joys and he hardships. From re-building her villa to discovering new recipes and the joys of a simple life.

I found it a little difficult to get into the story because it is not writing in the usual story format. The journal style way it is written makes it a great book to pick up and escape your life and join her in the Tuscan countryside.

If you are looking for a romantic story then this may not be the book for you but if you want to read a well written book that serves as a perfect escape and window into life in Italy. Then Under the Tuscan Sun is a must read.

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