Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Pub. Date: February 2006
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Format: Hardcover, 334pp
ISBN: 0670034711
Genre: Non-Fiction
Library Loan
Coming to Theaters: August 13th, 2010

Author Elizabeth Gilbert has been through an emotionally exhausting divorce and the breakup of a tumultuos love affair in a very short time period. After which she realizes, as most women do in relationships, she has lost her own identity and her own way in life. This realization leads her on a year long spiritual journey like no other that she shares with the reader along her way in Eat, Pray, Love. This memoir is written in three sections: Italy (Eat), India (Pray) and finally Indonesia (Love).

With raw emotion and a window into her soul, Elizabeth Gilbert shares with the reader her amazing journey to spiritual self acceptance. I loved the way the book was written and how it felt so emotionally true. My favorite of the three locations was Italy and at the end of Italy I was sure I would have given the book 5 stars. After India, although I still enjoyed the story, I was down to 4.5 and after Indonesia I was down to 4. All three segments of her journey are very good stories and very well written but the story of her in Italy was just so amazing and touching and relatable to me that it would have been very hard to beat honestly. I felt for her, I felt like I understood her and I felt like at times she understood me and parts of my life that are unsatifactory to me. This story makes the reader want to go on their own journey of spiritual enlightenment, at least it did for me. The fact that this is a true story makes it all the better in my eyes.

Favorite Quote: "Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be."

I didn't go into much detail in my review because this book was chosen to be the WoWO book club selection for the end of July, so I will be reposting this review along with the WoWO discussion at that time with more details (So Check back!!). Gilbert has another book out called Committed, which is a continuation of her life once she returns home. I believe that I will be reading this book, maybe even if the other girls in the book club are interested we will make it a book club read. Also plan to see the movie, hopefully with some of the WoWO's!

This book fits the following Categories/Challenges for me:
  • Hogwarts Reading Challenge (Charms)
  • Truth is Stranger Than Fiction Challenge
  • Monthly Mixer Mele Challenge
  • New Authors Challenge
  • PBT BINGO - Poetry tag
  • PBT June tag (Travel)

Friday, June 18, 2010

WoWO Book Club Meeting and Wild Heart by Lori Brighton

Tonight was the June WoWO Discussion and we discussed Wild Heart by Lori Brighton. The WoWO group won copies of Wild Heart from Lori through the website. This is a really great website with lots of information on Dianna Love as well as other authors. If you sign your book group up they give away copies of books regularly; just sign up once and you are entered for all drawings. When I was contacted by Cassondra from the website I was so excited that the WoWO won copies and we would read a book from a debut author. Little did we know that it would be such a fantastic book, and that Lori would be so pleasant to deal with when sending the copies and so much more. Lori signed each book individually named to each member, she included a bunch of goodies that can be found in England, autographed book cover memorabilia boards (sorry I am unsure what to call them but they are cool) and the all this came with a very nice personal letter from Lori to the group. Lori made the entire experience of winning the books and discussing the story, that much more enjoyable.

WoWO Rating: 4.3/5 Stars
Personal Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Pub. Date: November 2009
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 320pp
ISBN: 1420108654
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Debut Novel
9 Copies for WoWO obtained in a giveaway on

About Wild Heart:

In Sussex England in the late 1800's, Ella is hired to be governess to Leo Roberts who is the next in line for earldom. Leo, the grandson of Lord Roberts is said to be wild and in great need of refinement. Ella does not know what to expect from this boy who is to be earl, but how bad could it be? When Ella learns that the grandson to be Earl is actually a grown man she quickly becomes concerned that he is too wild to refine. Leo is completely untamed and animalisic, raised on his own in the wild of India after his parents were brutally murdered. Leo's grandfather needs Ella's help in making Leo presentable enough to take over earldom when the time comes. Ella wonders how she is suppose to make him presentable, refined and learn the ways of his class when he is a grown man who seems to be too wild to help and doesn't particular care to be helped. Ella, and this reader of the book, become taken with Leo rather quickly and their attraction is too wild to contain.

The romance scenes in this book are STEAMY and well written. Coming from someone who does not typically read romance, I was completely captivated by this story. This book is not just a Historical Romance, there is a twist of paranormal running through this book as well as some mystery and adventure. I don't want to give away anything to the plot so I left the paranormal out of the synopsis, but trust me it adds an extra element to make the story even better than the steamy attraction between Ella and Leo.

Personally , I absolutely loved this story. I wanted to give it 5 stars but just couldn't bring myself to do it. My main reason for giving the book a 4.5 over a 5 was more about the genre than the book itself, I think Im in denial that I love Historical Paranormal Romance. I can't find anything wrong with the story itself, the writing was absolutely spot on and perfect, but I have trouble giving 5 stars to a book that isn't a book like "The Help". I'm working on this though, and will definitely read the next book that Lori has coming out next year called "Wild Desire".

The WoWO Discussion (Contains Spoilers):

Everyone of the WoWO who read the book, loved it. We all pretty much agreed on every point of the discussion. We felt that in the beginning we did not know what to expect from this book. By the cover and synopsis it looked to be on the trashy side but once we started reading, it grabbed us and we realized quickly that it was very well written and the romance wasn't trashy at all. The different scenes and settings in the book were vivid and easily pictured. We thought that the supernatural elements (Ella feeling emotions) was a nice twist to the story, standing itself out from other Historical Romances. We liked that you didn't know much about Leo and his past but the reader learned about him through Ella's point of view, with her flashes of memories she got from Leo and his telling her stories as well.
During Leo and Ella's first conversation by the sea, everyone expected that Leo really needed Ella and we were surprised and happy that he was pretending to be savage and he was actually well spoken and intelligent. As far as the romance in the story goes, we though it was STEAMY and enticing and well done. Some of our favorite steamy scenes were the picture painting, the skinny dipping, the folly in the rain and the final love scene where they finally get to consumate their attraction. One of us was frustrated with the lack of completion of the earlier love scenes in the book (She wants all sex all the time - lucky girl ;)), but the rest of us loved the suspense and attraction that it caused and how happy we felt when they finally did have their moment.
Some of the early suspects to Leo's parents death were Akshay, Henry, Henry's father. No one really suspected that the Grandfather was involved in the cover-up but we feel it made for a good twist to the story. The author stated to me in a note that readers either love Leo or hate him and we can't figure out why anyone would hate him, he was absolutely perfect. Everyone liked Ella and felt she was a lucky girl to have found Leo :) (Hey Jealousy!) Everyone's favorite character was.. surprise --- LEO. Our Least favorite character was the Grandfather - He only cared about a having a proper successor and didn't care who was hurt in the process.
Our final thoughts on the story were that we all enjoyed the book more than we thought we would at first, it was a very pleasant surprise. We would definitely recommend the book to others (I already have!) One of us, loved the meat of the story but was disappointed in the beginning and the ending, she felt the ending left too many loose ends. Everyone else however, loved how the ending was left open for more of the story to come later in another book.

We felt the cover of the book was fitting to the story. We thought the title was good but something more savage like would have been more fitting for us... "Savage Heart" was our best take at a good title (We don't claim to be experts
We as a group would love to read her next book called "Wild Desire", coming out in 2011. This book features Ella's cousin Colin, so we hope it continues the story. We would however be more excited to read the continuation of Ella and Leo's story. We would like to see a follow up on the Statues mentioned in the story and more about what the map is, as well as what the future holds for Leo, Ella, Akshay and Fran.

Top: Myself, Linda
Bottom: Louise, Karen, Peggy
Missing from Picture: Lori
(Yes, that picture in the background is the WoWO painting from the Love Ceiling!)

The book chosen for next WoWO discussion is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert on July 30th.
This book fits the following Category/Challenges:

  • Hogwarts Reading Challenge
  • The Romance Reading Challenge
  • RYOB Challenge
  • Monthly Mixer Mele Challenge
  • New Authors Challenge

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Pub. Date: March 1997
Publisher: New Press, The
Format: Hardcover, 284pp
Series: Kurt Wallander Series, #1
ISBN-13: 9781565843417
Library Loan

This book was originally published in Sweden as Mordare utan ansikte in 1991 and was translated into English by Stephen T. Murray for this publication.

I obtained this book from the library in order to read it for my Fantasy Thrillers and Horrors Yahoo Book Group.

Kurt Wallander is a severely flawed man - he has an tricky relationship with his ex-wife, a daughter who doesn't want anything to do with him, and an aging a father who is hard to deal with. With all of these personal issues he has to solve the highly volitale case of a brutal murder of an elderly couple in a swedish farmhouse with very few clues.

In this first book of the Kurt Wallander Series we follow Wallander through his daily routines of life and work and get a glimpse of the Swedish way of life. I found these glimpses interesting but I can't seem myself continuing on with the series. I don't know if it was the translation or the Swedish murder mystery that made this book seem too simple and more about the main characters development than solving the actual mystery, it was like made for tv mystery for me. I found that the ending was very anti-climatic and I wished there was a better wrap-up and that the clues found in the beginning of the story actually meant more to the solving of the crime.

This book fits the following challenges/categories for me:

  • Hogwart's Reading Challenge (Muggle Studies)
  • Thriller and Suspense Reading Challenge
  • Monthly Mixer Mele Challenge
  • New Authors Challenge ** FINISHED CHALLENGE **
  • Fantasy Thriller and Horror Reading Group

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Rating: 2/5 Stars
  • Pub. Date: November 2009
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Format: Hardcover, 507pp
  • ISBN: 0060852577
  • Library Loan
Harrison Shepherd was born in the United States but spent his childhood in the 1930's in Mexico being raised by his mother. He spent his life writing journals of the world around him. These journal's were then turned into this "memoir". Some information was filled in by Shepherd's writing assistant and others by newspaper articles of events. Moving back and forth from Mexico to the United States Harrison Shepherd unveils the happenings in the world and the man that he becomes in the process. Along his travels he works with artists Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo and gets involved in political turmoil with Lev Trotsky.

I hate to say negative things about books because others may really like them but for me this book was a bit of a snooze fest. A lot of effort was put into this book to make it feel more like a memoir than fiction and it did, a little too much in fact. There were too many words in this book. This is my first Kingsolver book so I cannot compare it to others but she is VERY thorough. Sometimes that's good and sometimes that's not so good. In most instances in this novel I did not need many of the extra monotonous information.

I read this book for one of my book clubs and only finished it because I was using it for a travel game for Play Book Tag Bingo. I had already invested several days and had several cities to use for the game and couldn't turn back.

This book fits the following Categories/Challenges for me:
  • Hogwarts Reading Challenge
  • Monthly Mixer Mele Challenge
  • New Authors Challenge

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1) by Michael Scott

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Pub. Date: May 2007
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Format: Hardcover, 400pp
Age Range: Young Adult
Series: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series, #1
ISBN-13: 9780385733571

I received this copy from my friend Louise when she mistakenly purchased this book instead of The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. She gave me the book to trade for the Alchemist and little did I know that one of my book clubs would vote to read this book a few months later.

Josh and Sophie Newman are Twin's who came to visit San Francisco for the summer when they unsuspectingly get involved in a battle between what was only known to them as mythological creatures. They quickly find out that there is truth to legends and the people they new and Nick and Perry Fleming are much more then they ever imagined.

This story is chock full of mythology legends and supernatural reasons for different things that happened in history (for example the Great Chicago fires). I can see why people have compared this series to Harry Potter but for me this fell a little short of that. It was written for a younger group that Harry Potter was, at least it seemed so to me and it missed a certain spark that Harry Potter has. In it's own right I can see children enjoying this series, but for me I expected a Harry Potter replacement and didn't get it. Maybe I was expecting too much. It was still and enjoyable read, but I don't think I'll read on in the series at this point.

Wikipedia states that the film rights to the series have been sold to Lorenzo di Bonaventura and now lists The Alchemyst film as "in production". I will probably see the movie when it's out on cable, because I'd like to see the translation to film and I think this book has enough action that will translate to the big screen well. I am curious how they will make some of these characters look as well.

This book fitst the following Challenges/Categories for me:
  • Hogwarts Reading Challenge
  • RYOB Challenge
  • Monthly Mixer Mele Challenge
  • New Authors Challenge
  • Fantasy Thriller Horrors - May Group Read