Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 We Read Diverse Books Challenge: Quarterly Update #2

This is my second quarterly update for the We Read Diverse Books Challenge hosted by Janet Ursel at Gourmet Reading. There is a different challenge designed to question the way we see the world each month, and I've found this one really great so far. I've only finished 2 of my chosen books, but I'm reading the rest of them bit by bit. I'll update this regularly (until the next quarterly update) as I find out the next challenge, choose a book, and read the book.

Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm

May Challenge: Age
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

July Challenge: Time
The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis
by Thomas Goetz

August Challenge: Religion
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

2015 Banned Books Challenge: Quarterly Update #2

This is my second quarterly update for the Banned Books Challenge 2015 hosted by Christine at Buckling Bookshelves. I started out with the "Trouble-Maker" level (3-5 books) and re-set my goal to the "Rabble-Rouser" level (6-9 books), which I've met now as well. Since I already re-set the goal once, I'm not doing it again, but some of these have been really great books! I've re-posted the books that I've read for this challenge thus far, and I'll keep updating this list here until my next quarterly update.

Books Read Thus Far:

Other Banned Books Read:

2015 TBR Pile Challenge: Quarterly Update #2

This is my second quarterly update for the 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge hosted by the ladies at Bookish! This year is flying by! My level of choice is "A Friendly Hug," so 11-20 books. I've already reached my goal with 12 books, but I probably won't re-set it now since there's still 8 more to go at this level. I've re-posted the links to my reads for this challenge thus far, and this is where I'll keep my list and links for the challenge until the next quarterly update.

TBR Pile Reads Thus Far:

2015 Audiobook Challenge: Quarterly Update #2

This is my second quarterly update for the 2015 Audiobook Challenge hosted by the ladies at The Book Nympho and Hot Listens. I signed up for the "Stenographer" level (10-15 books). I've read 7 books for this so far, so I'm doing really well! I've re-posted the links to my reads for this challenge thus far, and this is where I'll keep my list and links for the challenge until the next quarterly update.

Audiobook Reads Thus Far:


More Audiobook Reads:

Emma by Jane Austen 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Audiobook / Banned Book / TBR Pile: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is about a young man named Jacob who loses everything and needs to find his place in the world. He decides to join the circus in the days when they traveled on trains from town to town. The book also tells about Jacob decades later in a nursing home. Feeling lost again, he searches his past for a solution to the unhappiness and loneliness he's dealing with now.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

First Impression: I find this story really interesting. Gruen gives great perspective to the reader by switching between Jacob at 90 (or 93) and at 23. I'm curious as well about her research and historical accuracy--life in the circus, interactions of Polish vs. Jewish people, etc. I know some of what's going to happen from the prologue, but I'm also curious about how Jacob gets from that place to his elderly life. Happily married with five kids, and did he ever get a veterinary practice? Some of her numbers seem to be off on the timeline of his life. The book starts off a bit sad, but I'm really enjoying it now.

Conclusion: This is a great book. Gruen has fantastic writing style, well-developed characters, and meaningful action--everything you can ask for to really enjoy what you are reading. The timeline makes more sense when you find out what happened after the stampede. The author had it well planned-out and purposely gave tidbits once in a while, so I didn't know the complete story until the end. There were times where I was incredibly frustrated by what was happening, but it helped me to feel closer to my characters and drew me in. And did I mention that I loved Rosie? What a great sense of humor and honor in one unexpected character! I was particularly fascinated by the parts about Jacob as an elderly man. There aren't a lot of books written from the perspective of someone living in a nursing home who doesn't actually need special food and attention. There also aren't a lot of books set in the early days of circuses, so this book is quite the unique find. I'll definitely read more by Gruen in the future.

Recommendation: If you have a penchant for slightly quirky but intricate, unique book ideas, this is a good book for you. There also seems to be validity to Gruen's research, so if you're interested in circus life in the train days, this might be a good read for you, as well.

This is my seventh read for the 2015 Audiobook Challenge, my sixth read for the 2015 Banned Book Challenge, and my twelfth read for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge. Chugging right along!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Giveaway Bonanza Winners!

Hello everyone! It's time to announce the winners! Drumroll, please!

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

A Tale of Two Cities / Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Naomi Bennet

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Middlemarch by George Eliot
Tully Family

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Thank you all for entering--this was the best response I've had to a giveaway yet! Winners have been contacted via e-mail today. Please respond by 11:59pm on Sunday, July 5 with your mailing address or your prize will be given to another randomly drawn entrant. And follow my blog or stay posted--I'm planning another giveaway in a few months with some books as well as some other fun book-themed items!

Monday, June 15, 2015

And Now...the Giveaway You've Been Waiting for!


Sorry for the delay, everyone. I had to work today, so my post is happening later than everyone else's. However, good things come to those who wait, and I have the book giveaway to prove it!


Click on the picture above to be linked to The Edge of the Precipice and a bunch of other giveaways happening right now! Also, make sure you read through the rules below; they're a little different than how I usually do giveaways.

Boring Rules First:
1) To enter, leave a comment with your top three choices of prizes in order (first, second, third). Make sure you leave a valid e-mail address in the comment as well, so I can contact you if you win.
2) For a second entry, tell me which other giveaways in this bonanza you visited (you are not required to enter them, just to visit, and this only qualifies for one entry, even if you visited all of the other giveaways).
3) Leave your comments by 11:59pm Central U.S. time on Friday, June 26th.
4) Winners will be contacted by 11:59pm on Monday, June 29th and must respond with a valid mailing address by Sunday, July 5th or their prizes are forfeit to the next randomly drawn winner.
5) Prizes can be shipped anywhere USPS will allow me to ship them.
6) If there are more prizes than entrants, winners will be eligible to win more than one book.

All of the prizes are used but in good condition. Some are former library books found in sales; some are just extra copies I had on hand. The covers pictured are the ones you will be receiving. (All pictures of prizes taken from Goodreads with the exception of the last one, which was taken from Amazon.) All classics this time! I hope you find one or more that you like!

 A Room with a View by E.M. Forster,
reviewed by me here;

 Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery,
sequel to Anne of Green Gables;

 A Tale of Two Cities / Great Expectations: Two Novels
by Charles Dickens;

 Middlemarch by George Eliot;

 Northangey Abbey by Jane Austen,
my favorite author of all time;

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.

And with that I say, good luck!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Audiobook: Yes Please

Yes Please is the humorous and heartfelt autobiography of comedienne Amy Poehler.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

First Impression: Poehler is a great author and narrator. This book talks about lessons she's learned and stories from her life. I expected the wit and humor that come out in this book, but I didn't expect the heartfelt confessions of past regrets and mistakes.

Conclusion: I read a review that said something about Poehler's book being inadvertently funny, and I would agree with that. It is not a collection of stories put together for the sole purpose of being funny, which a lot of comedians are writing lately. There's no forced humor here. One of my favorite chapters was about motherhood and not hating other mothers for their decisions regarding their children. I've never understood why people don't support one another's choices. As Poehler says, "The biggest lie and the biggest crime is that we all do this alone and look down on those who don't." I just really enjoyed this whole book. Poehler tells the story of her life in a humorous but meaningful way, and it was so fun that she brought other people into her audio recording. Like the parts with Patrick Stewart--haikus about plastic surgery? Hilarious! It's interesting how the book is pieced together, too. It jumps around to meaningful pieces and people in the author's life, but somehow it all just falls into place and works, even out of order.

Recommendation: If you are a fan of Amy Poehler, you must read this book. If you like humorous memoirs, you'll probably enjoy it, too.

This is my sixth read for the 2015 Audiobook Challenge. I love listening to audiobooks! I feel like it opens up opportunities to read some really different books from my usual fare.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Club / TBR Pile: Dorothy Must Die

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is about a girl named Amy. She's from Kansas, she ends up in Oz after a tornado...sound familiar? Except Amy is completely different from Dorothy, and the Oz in which she lands is completely different, too. Paige's dark re-imagining of Oz is a pondering of the question, "What would happen if Dorothy had returned to Oz and gotten a little greedy about her fame and fortune in the foreign land?" And this will change your view of Baum's beloved children's novels forever.

(picture taken from Goodreads;
jacket art and design by Ray Shappell)

First Impression: This is a very interesting concept for a book. Dorothy crazed with power and magic? Brilliant but disturbing. I'll say this: it's keeping me intrigued. I like Paige's characters so far, but I wish I was learning more about them. I understand why I'm not, though. Every clue is a risk of being discovered by Dorothy later. And it makes sense that Dorothy, growing up on a farm of poor circumstances, would want more. I'm curious about the level of her greed, but Paige seems to be treating it kind of like a drug addiction in her story. Dorothy even says something to Amy about it.

Conclusion: I feel dissatisfied with the ending. Not because Amy didn't accomplish anything or because I didn't like the book, but it's so open-ended. I can't even tell what or who to root for because you can't trust any characters in this book. Even if they seem trustworthy for a few chapters, something happens to remind the reader that they're really in it for their own goals. Take Nox, for example. It's obvious that he cares for Amy, but his main goal is taking down Dorothy. And I'm curious what the Order of the Wicked will do now or how Amy might be connected to them. What are the goals of the other "trustworthy" characters? Basically, people use Amy throughout the book while she figures out what she thinks is right. I like Paige's unique ideas, and I'll continue the series to see what happens, but I'm unsure about such wishy-washy plotlines and characters.

Recommendation: This is a good book if you like unique YA re-tellings of fairy tales and classics. It would also be good not to be too attached to Dorothy as a beloved character--you might become angry about the level of cruelty and greed to which she's taken.

This is my eleventh read for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge. Do you have a favorite re-telling of a classic? I'd love some suggestions of more unique spins on already-loved stories!