Friday, October 31, 2014


Avaline Hall is seventeen, and has already had an unbelievable life. She has survived a factory fire, escaped from an insane asylum, and been invited to attend Blythewood Academy. Blythewood is an elite boarding school. Ava's mother attended until she was expelled. Ava is hoping to learn more about her family at the school, but is learning more than she bargained for. Dark things are happening at Blythewood, and the students are being trained with a specific purpose. Ava must figure out what is really going on before events become to dangerous.

I won a copy from the author in a contest*. I had not heard of this book before, and was intrigued by the description. I am glad I received a copy because I ended up liking this book. I was pulled into this world and was delighted when I discovered it was the first in a series. The second book Ravencliffe is suppose to come out soon, and I look forward to returning to this world. It reminded my of another series I like: The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. It has a similar feel to it.

I liked the world set up in this book. The details were rich, and you felt like you were actually in a world where fairies and other mythical creatures exist. The combination of history and fantasy was well done. I really like it when an author is able to mix fantasy and history. It makes it seem like the world they created could be stumbled upon at any time.

I especially enjoyed the dark atmosphere. It creates a lot of suspense, and keeps you turning the pages. There was also a lot of character building which I like. I look forward to learning what happens to these characters. The story leaves off in an interesting place, and leaves you wanting to immediately read the next book so you can discover what happens.

I recommend reading this book.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a book I might not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hollow City


Jacob and the children living with Miss Peregrine have just escaped the island. They are not safe though. They are being chased, and it will take all the skills and luck they can muster to not get caught. While eluding their attackers, they must find a way to rescue Miss Peregrine. They are desperate to find someone who can help her before she is beyond anyone's abilities. They are heading to London because they have heard that is where the only person left who can help them is. The journey is full of peril and wonders as they stumble onto a menagerie of peculiar animals and discover new peculiars.

An excellent sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. I really liked how the series progressed in this book. Sequels and second books in a series do not always live up to the first book, but this one does. I would even say it surpassed the first one, which I did not think was possible. The characters began to develop in very interesting ways, and I liked the new depth this brought to the story. Between living in a loop for decades and having peculiar abilities interesting thoughts, actions, and issues arise as we learn more about these children.

There was a new batch of photographs to enjoy that help bring the story to life. I loved the anticipation and wonder that I feel when turning the pages to see what picture would be next, and how it would tie into the book. It is such a fun aspect to the series, and I enjoy how the photographs can lull me into thinking the story is real.

I was also interested in the book the children have with them, and read from while they traveled: The Tales Of Peculiar Children. I would be happy to read a book of these tales if Riggs ever decides to publish them. There were so many things that I enjoyed about this book. It kept me interested the whole time, and I did not want to stop reading it! Hollow City leaves off in an interesting place, and left me wishing I could immediately pick up the next book. I cannot wait for it to be published and to read it.

I highly recommend reading this book!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Season Of The Witch

When bullied by a group of kids at school Toni feels scared and does not know what to do to make it all stop. She meets up with a girl from school named Cassandra, and everything changes. They decide to stop being victims and take control of their lives. They begin casting spells. At first Toni doesn't really believe it will work, but then things start to happen to the people they cast spells on. Toni begins to wonder if she really has the power to make these things happen.

I received a free copy of this book from the author as part of a promotional event*. I thought Fredericks did an excellent job with the pacing of the book. Just when you think you can't stand the horrible things happening, Toni decides to get take control of her life. When the revenge starts to become too much we are faced with a new twist in the plot. It keeps you engaged in the story and helps you appreciate the overall message of the book.

I liked the message about standing up for yourself, but the author took that message even further, which I appreciated. Often people stop thinking about what happened when they use the phrase they stood up for themselves. Here, we discover how real the consequences of our actions can be. I also liked Fredericks larger message about the need to find control in our lives in any way possible, and how difficult it is to understand what someone else is thinking. The promotion of balance between standing up for yourself and aggression is an important one in this book.

I thought it was well written and engaging. There is a realness to this story that made it a very emotional read at times. There is a conversation at the end of the book between Toni and Cassandra that I found very realistic, and could see happening in real life. This book was also a unique take on the bullying issue. There is a lot going on in this story, but I think it made the reader feel the lack of control the main characters felt. It was an interesting book.

I recommend reading this book.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provided me with a copy of a book I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies Graphic Novel

England has been struck by a horrible plague. Unmentionables are attacking people. As the dead rise, the Bennett sisters are trained in the deadly arts to defend themselves and those around them. Elizabeth Bennet has become a deadly foe. Her wits are as sharp as her sword, but she might have met her match in Mr. Darcy. Despite her unladylike ways, Mr. Darcy finds himself falling for Elizabeth. Their love must face the test of dreadfuls, ninjas, and society.

I enjoyed the graphic novel version of the book. It has all the humor and gore of the novel Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, but was a more condensed version of the novel. It also has more pictures than the novel did, and that was a great bonus. I liked seeing the Bennet sisters fight the dreadfuls. It also shows some of the transformations as characters are bitten by dreadfuls. It was interesting to keep track of the progress of the plague in the images.

This graphic novel is another wonderful retelling of the classic Pride And Prejudice. It is a fun way to read this classic novel, and enjoy some zombie fighting at the same time. This shorter version of the book is a great introduction to fans of the classic novel that are not sure how zombies will mix with Austen. Fans of the novel will have fun with this version of the tale.

If you like zombies or Pride And Prejudice, I recommend reading this book.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Queen Isabella

Queen Isabella of England was the daughter of King Phillip IV of France. She was sent to England in 1308 to marry Edward II of England to help bring peace between the two countries. She was twelve years old. Isabella became very involved in the politics of England, and ended up being a very important figure. She was named the She-Wolf of France because of her actions when she was Queen.

The main focus of this book was to reexamine who Isabella was, and why she was despised later. Her reputation has suffered because she was thought to have killed her husband and seized power. Weir examines what we can know about this, and what some of the reasons behind Isabella's actions might have been. There is a definite sympathy towards Isabella in the writing.

I thought this was an interesting book about Isabella. I liked learning more about her, but I thought it could be a little dense at times because there is a lot about traveling and expenses in this book. This was because there are actual documents about travels and expenses that survived. Later, Isabella is mentioned in other writings, and more can be filled in about her life.

It was a well researched biography, but I found myself having to push to get to the end. I would get bogged down in the details and how repetitive some of the information seemed. Some of the descriptions went on a little too long for what the focus of this book was suppose to be.

I think if you are interested in Isabella or this time period it would be an interesting book to try. I am a fan of Alison Weir, but I did not enjoy this book as much as I have some of Weir's other books. Another book about Queen Isabella I enjoyed was Isabella And The Strange Death Of Edward II by: Paul Doherty.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Inheritance


Edith Adelon is the governess to Amy Hamilton. Lord Hamilton found Edith as a child in Italy, and brought her to England to live with his family. Arthur and Amy Hamilton treat Edith like a sister and are very protective of Edith and her gentle ways. Lady Hamilton is distant, but that is largely due to the distinction in rank she likes to preserve. The Hamilton's cousin Ida is the only one who dislikes Edith because she is jealous of her beauty, and the attention the family and eligible young men give her. When two visitors come to visit, Ida does everything she can to ruin Edith's chances of happiness.

Alcott wrote this when she was seventeen years old, and it was never published while she was alive. She wrote on the notebook this story was in, that it was her first novel. It was found among her papers and notebooks in an archive at Harvard and it was published. I thought it was interesting to read some of her early work. You can tell by her writing that she was young and inexperienced as a writer. The plot is simple and predictable. The characters are also very straightforward. They are either good or bad, and  largely stay that way to the end.

All the issues aside, it was a good first novel. It is full of morals, and that needs to be considered while reading it because it is very different from what we would expect now. You could tell that some of the elements from this story were used later in her other novels. For example, character names such as Amy and Adelon were reused in later novels. The basic plot was used in a short story Alcott wrote later in her career. She also has a lot of lessons about wholesome living or being a good person in this book which is typical in her later books.

The plot was a little predictable, and could be interpreted as a Cinderella retelling. If you are a fan of Alcott's books, you should try this book. It will remind you of her later works before she refined her style. It does have a lot of morals in it, but as long as you are expecting it, it should not be a problem. I think a younger audience would like it better than an adult, but again, fans of Alcott should try it to appreciate how her writing developed over time.

I would recommend reading this book.

November 6, 2014 Update: You can read my review of the movie adaptation of this book here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

1066 What Fates Impose

King Edward has no heir, and there is no clear successor. Although there are plenty of people vying for the throne of England. Harold Godwinson is the one who stands out, and the one most people think will become king. There are many people and events that conspire to keep Harold from power. As the year 1066 begins, England and Harold's future is uncertain.

I won a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program*. I thought it was a well researched book and covered an interesting part of history. I liked reading about the dramatic change from one king to the next, and why these conflicts happened. The only problem I had was, all the details seemed to get in the way of a really good plot. The first part of the book was a little slow as it introduced everything. There was not the melding between fact and fiction that I look for in a historical fiction book. The dialogue seemed a bit forced at times and did not flow as naturally as I would have liked. I would find myself getting caught up in the story, only to be distracted by awkward dialogue or slow parts of the story.

I did think this was a great topic for a novel, and even though I knew how it must end, I found myself hoping certain characters would succeed. I think this shows the talent the author possess, and it was a good first novel. I look forward to reading future books from this author.

If you are interested in this time period I would recommend giving this book a try.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book that I would not have gotten to as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad The Movie

This is actually two films: The story of Ichabod Crane based on the book The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, and the story of Mr. Toad based on the book The Wind In The Willows by: Kenneth Grahame. It is a great combination of retellings that should not be missed. This was the eleventh movie in the Disney animated classics series, and was made in October of 1949.

For an animated film version I thought it stayed rather close to the details in the book The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. From the gangly Ichabod to the creepy ride through the forest it is a great version of the story. It will make you laugh and give you chills. I also liked that the Ichabod Crane movie is narrated by Bing Crosby. I thought it was very interesting to have his voice telling and singing the tale. I think it helps highlight the folk tale nature of the book that Irving was going for in his stories.

It has been longer since I read The Wind In The Willows, so how close that film is to the book is a little hard for me to judge. I will have to update this when I have reread that book. I think this short film is suppose to be an excerpt from the book, and not tell the whole story. I grew up watching this film, and always enjoyed the trouble Mr. Toad finds himself in. He is always swept up in his passion for the latest inventions, and it causes a lot of problems for him and his friends. It is hilarious to watch, but also has some heart to it.

These two short films are a fun way to introduce children to these classics. For how old the movies are, the animation is decent. I only learned about the Ichabod Crane movie a few years ago, but now I watch it every Halloween. I also enjoy the Mr. Toad adventures, as I have fond memories of watching it since I was a child. I think these short films are a fun way to enjoy some classic tales.

If you like animated movies I would highly recommend giving them a try.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Walking Dead: The Heart's Desire

Rick Grimes and his group of survivors has been working on making the prison a safe place to live. Relationships that began right as the group came together are ending as new people join the group and people form new bonds. As the group begins to feel as safe as they probably ever will in this new world, tensions rise as they are not constantly focused on immediate survival.

This is the fourth book in The Walking Dead series. This volume begins to address some of the issues that living in such conditions would naturally bring up when people finally stop fighting zombies or looking for food. Who people really are and what their true opinions are begin to emerge as they no longer feel the need to set that aside for survival. The strain begins to show as members of the group have strong opinions on what people need to do, and what happens to those that break the rules. I was happy to see the zombies put into the background to address some of the problems the living would face.

I have to say I am very disappointed with the way women are portrayed in this series. The characters in general do not have a lot to them, but I have yet to see one admirable female character. All of the women are very whiny and dependent on the men to save them. I would really love to see a real woman portrayed in this series.

If you are a fan of this series or zombies I would recommend trying it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thea Stilton: The Journey To Atlantis

The Journey to Atlantis (Thea Stilton Special Edition)

When walking on the beach near Mouseford Academy, the Thea Sisters discover a person with blue skin washed up on the shore. They cannot understand the language he speaks, so they ask Thea Stilton to help them figure out who he is and how to communicate with him. She gives them information that sends them on an adventure around the world looking for clues that will help them figure out who this boy is, and how to get him home. The Thea Sisters begin to suspect that he is from Atlantis, and they must protect him until they can get him home.

I liked how many different places the Thea Sisters went around the world. It was fun to read the different clues and see where in the world the next clue would lead. This book is a fun way to introduce a young reader to the mystery genre with a lot of clues to figure out what will happen next in the story.

I do wish the book had more about the Atlantis myth in the story. It was mentioned, but did not go into very many details. This was the only book from the Thea Stilton series I have read, and in this book it was not very clear why this group of girls is called the Thea Sisters when one of their friends is Thea Stilton. I also think this book will appeal more to girls than boys, but that seems to be the goal.

This was the fifth book that the Bookworms read together. Paige chose this book. We had previously read a book from the Geronimo Stilton series together, and this is from a series that focuses on his sister and her friends. Here are the Bookworms thoughts on the book, warning there might be some spoilers:

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Paige 5
Alejandro 4 1/2

What was your favorite part in the book?
Paige When they travelled to Ethiopia. My class is doing a play about Ethiopia, so I know about it. I also liked when they trapped the bad guy in the life preservers.
Alejandro I liked the Cistern in Istanbul because it is like a cave and it is smart to store water down there. I liked all the columns with water in it.

The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul.
This is a picture from my trip there. 

Would you read any of the other books in this series?
Alejandro I've only read the Geronimo Stilton: The Volcano Of Fire book before but I liked it and this one.
Paige Yes I would! I read a few of them already: The Mystery In Paris, The Missing Diary, Spanish, and a few others.

Would you read the series about Geronimo Stilton's friend Creepella von Cracklefur?
Paige I love that one! I read them all.
Alejandro They sound cool. 

If you found a shiny blue person on the beach what would you do?
Alejandro Take him to my house.
Paige I would run to get the doctor and run home to my parents.

When they are in the I.I.S. building, there are rooms with different colored doors that have special information inside. Which door would you go through?
Paige I would go in the blue door because I would want to see the maps.
Alejandro The blue door because it seemed interesting to me.

In the I.I.S. building they have a lot of security, and they cannot send emails without security reading it first, what do you think about that?
Alejandro I think they do that because they don't want everyone to know where it is. I think it is a lot like Area 51.
Paige I guess it is okay to make sure people are not sending bad stuff to people.

There is a special fruit in the story that makes the person who eats it understand animals. Would you eat it? What animal would you want to talk to ?
Paige Yes! Every animal I could find. Especially a dog because I like dogs. And a great white shark.
Alejandro I would want to talk to chickens because I like them.

Did you like reading this book?
Alejandro I really liked reading it!
Paige I liked it a lot.

Is there anything else you want to say about the book?
Paige I summarized the book: I read about how the Thea Sisters didn't go on their own vacations to help their friend and the blue man from Atlantis. They got to travel and solve mysteries. They looked for clues for where he lived and how to get there. The bad guys wanted his medallion and they had to protect it. He gets to travel home by boat with dolphins helping him.
Alejandro I thought it was cool that people in Atlantis thought our world was a myth because we think Atlantis is a myth. I think it would be fun to do a scavenger hunt like they did in the book.

Thank you Paige and Alejandro for reading and reviewing this book with me. I look forward to the next book we get to read together.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Still Alice


Alice Howland is a professor of cognitive psychology at Harvard. She is known world wide for her research in linguistics and the quality of her teaching. She begins to have slight issues with her memory but is in denial about what is happening because she is only fifty years old. She receives the diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's. Her life changes dramatically with this information.

I won a copy of this book in the Goodreads First Reads Program*. I was intrigued by the description of this book. I would say it exceeded my expectations. The book is from Alice's perspective, which gave an intimate view of what it would be like to receive such a diagnosis, and the myriad of ways it would change your life. The reader gets to experience the fear, confusion, and change as it all appeared to Alice. I think this was an important way to tell this story.

I thought it was well written, and a very moving book. This was the first time I had read anything by Lisa Genova, but I will keep my eye out for more books from her. I thought she had an excellent way of communicating the information about Alzheimer's without letting it overwhelm her story. I also liked that she was able to write about the difficulties of this disease without sensationalizing the situations. I appreciated the honest look at this disease. I liked the questions that were brought up such as: what makes a person unique or them, the importance of making medical choices that you want for your life, how do we treat people with mental illnesses, how should families cope with situations such as this, and when do you trust the diagnosis from your doctor? These were just a few things, but I liked how thought provoking this book was.

I would recommend reading this book. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Diary Of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness To The Russian Revolution


This is a collection of diary entries, letters, and memoirs from and about Olga Romanov. Olga began a diary when she was ten years old in 1905. This was not uncommon for royal children. Her diaries end in 1917, when her father, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated his throne. Most of the entries and letters in this book were during the war between 1914-1917. Olga's diary entries from this period had never been translated into English before.

I liked being able to learn a little bit about what Olga was thinking and doing between 1914-1918. She worked as a nurse with her sister Tatiana and mother the Empress Alexandra in a hospital for wounded soldiers. Her journals show how close she was to all of her family, and refer to the many things they did together. There is also a constant concern for her brother and his health.

I was more interested in the letters Olga wrote or in the various bits from memoirs about her other people wrote that were included. Her diary is mostly in shorthand which makes the reading choppy, and not as easy to understand. I am not sure Olga ever intended her diary to be read by anyone else, or to use it other than to note what was happening in her daily life. This gives it a lack of depth for much of the book that I and perhaps others were hoping for when reading it. We are also missing many of her own thoughts on topics as she and other members of her family burned journals, and some entries when they were imprisoned.

I thought it was interesting while in captivity with a revolution overthrowing his reign, Tsar Nicholas II was reading The Scarlett Pimpernel. There were a couple of other books mentioned that he and others were reading, and I thought that was a fun detail. I did like that letters and memoirs from other people were included to fill out what happened to Olga when we no longer had her own words. It added a lot to this book.

If you are very interested in the Romanovs, I would recommend reading this book.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jack Of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape

When Jack last appeared in the Fables series, he had escaped from Fabletown, to get out from under all the rules of Fabletown that cramp his style. He has headed to Hollywood in his latest get rich quick scheme. After violating several of the Fabletown laws, he has a run in with the sheriff, and is now hitchhiking out of Hollywood looking for his next adventure. He meets a lot of Fables out in the world.

This is the first book in the spinoff series of Jack from the Fables books, and it takes place after Jack's exile in Fables volume 6: Homelands. A preview of this series is shown in Fables volume 8 Wolves. If you are looking to avoid spoilers for the Fables series, after reading Homelands you will be safe from spoilers reading through Jack Of Fables volume 6 The Big Book Of War. And to completely understand what happens in Fables: The Great Fables Crossover volume 13, you will want to read The Jack Of Fables series through volume 6.

Jack is not my favorite character from the Fables series. He seems to be stuck in one place, and never grows or changes. Perhaps with a series focused entirely on him that will happen. This was an alright beginning, but I hope to see more from this character as he now has his own spinoff. It would be nice to see some cleverness or depth as he just seems to be a selfish party boy. I also have high expectations because he is suppose to be a classic trickster character, and I do not think this character lives up to that at all.

I did like that this series introduces us to more Fables like Alice in Wonderland, and we get to find out what happens to characters like Goldilocks from the original series. There was the introduction of some new villains, but I do not really find them very interesting yet, I will have to see how they develop in future books.

Honestly, I am only continuing with this series because I am a big fan of Fables, and want to explore all the plots. I would only recommend reading this if you are are a fan or really like the character of Jack. Otherwise, I would skip it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Magicians

Quentin is a brilliant person. He is at the top of his classes, and is a genius. He is also completely miserable with his life. His life seems devoid of anything special or meaningful. He finds himself returning to his favorite fantasy novels from when he was a child. A series of books about a magical land called Fillory. He longs for a life as special and magical as the world in these books. One day, he receives an invitation to a secret magic school called Brakebills in New York. But first he must pass the test to get in. As he learns about magic Quentin is disappointed to discover that his life still seems empty. Magic has not brought him the happiness he always thought it would. Little does he realize that there are unbelievable discoveries to be made and more to magic than he realized.

This is the first book in the trilogy. I thought it was wonderfully depressing! Quentin is an unhappy person, and is always looking for the next thing that will make him happy. I liked that magic was not a cure all in this story. Life is not immediately better because the characters find out magic exists. I liked the idea that things happening or being extraordinary is not what will make you happy.

I loved all the book references particularly to Narnia and Harry Potter. It is always a pleasure when a story includes other well known tales in a clever way that shows true appreciation for them. I thought it was interesting to read about a character that loves a story so much, and is confronted with the reality of that fantasy world.

I will admit that this was one of the best books I have read this year, and immediately went on My Favorite Books list. Everything from the incredible character development to the rules about magic were completely engrossing. I was very impressed with this book. That being said, I think it will not be to everyone's taste. I would recommend trying it, but not everyone will agree on how wonderful this book is. You have to get through a lot of parts that could be viewed as depressing or dark, which were well done, but will not be to everyone's taste. I really enjoyed the dark satire of this book. It was incredibly written, and as soon as I finished reading this book, I immediately began the second book The Magician King and put myself on the wait list for the third book Magician's Land at the library. I cannot wait to discover what happens with the characters and story.

I highly recommend reading this book.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Queen Of Four Kingdoms

The Queen Of Four Kingdoms

At nineteen years old Yolande of Aragon is married to Louis Duke of Anjou cousin to King Charles VI. She moves to France to fulfill the arranged marriage contract. It is the hope of their families that this marriage will stop the war between Anjou and Aragon. Yolande uses all her talents to become an invaluable asset to her husband, and to all of France. She uses her influence to unite her country when it is faced with foes from within and without.

I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers program*. I was excited to receive a copy of this book. I have not read a lot about Yolande, so I was curious to learn more about her and her life. I liked that the main character was a strong female that intelligently dealt with the events of her life and influenced history. This book made me curious to learn more about Yolande. I found the part of the story with Joan of Arc fascinating. I really liked reading a different view of her, and seeing how she fit into other people's stories.

Although I found the story interesting, the writing left a little to be desired. There were a lot of tense shifts that could be a little confusing sometimes. Also, I found parts of the story repetitive. This was a shame because there were a lot of events covered in this book, so at times it felt rushed. I think this was the author's first time writing historical fiction, and was not bad as a first novel. She mentions in the Author's Note that there will be a sequel, and the end of this book set that up well. I am curious enough by the ending of the book to try it when it comes out.

If you are interested in this time period, or historical fiction about royal women I would recommend giving this book a try.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book that I would not have read as soon, or heard about otherwise.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Michael Pollan explores the elements earth, air, fire, and water as methods to change food into delicious things to consume. He learns specific techniques from masters in each area he learns to grill, bake, ferment, and cook. It is about learning to cook and appreciating what goes into transforming ingredients into something wonderful, and how cooking connects us all.

This is a more informal book by Pollan than some of his other works. It was a combination of personal experiences and facts about the cooking methods he was learning about to write this book. It was a book about appreciating food and the process of cooking. Pollan acknowledges that all the methods talked about in this book are not practical for everyday use, but it is the process and understanding the different techniques that leads to the appreciation of what making our food can do for us.

I think my favorite section was the last section: Earth. Pollan discusses fermentation and the importance of good bacteria to our health. I liked the combination of skills and facts. The information was conveyed in a personal, yet very engaging way. It was a great reminder to appreciate the food we eat, and to try to find ways to enjoy the chore of cooking everyday. I liked the idea that cooking can be a time to relax and focus. I enjoy cooking, and for me, this was a great way to think about different options out there for making food, the importance of cooking, and to try to learn new things about cooking. I liked reading how Pollan applies some of the things he talked about in his other books to his own kitchen.

If you are interested in cooking or learning about the food you eat, I recommend reading this book.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Hunger Games Movie Version

the hunger games great poster

Every year Panem holds the Hunger Games to remind citizens who is in power, and the consequences of rebellion. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister Prim's place in the annual Hunger Games. She travels from her district to the Capitol where the Games take place. She must battle twenty-four other children for survival in an event that is entertainment for those in charge, and a grim reminder for those who are not.

I enjoyed this adaptation. I think they did an excellent job keeping with the themes of the book, and the feeling you get while reading it. I think one of the things I enjoyed most was the subtlety that was used in the film to convey the tension, issues, relationships, and horror of the story. Sometimes in movies the thought seems to be that in your face violence is all that is needed. I appreciate how subtle some of the actions are that let the viewer know the true horror of the events and the feelings of the characters.

I love how visually stimulating it was when they go to the capitol. The costumes everyone wears and the attitudes of the people there were expertly portrayed. The contrast between the Capitol to the 12 districts was wonderfully conveyed through the clothing. This is a classic theme in dystopian stories, but I think Collins wrote a unique version and it was incredibly shown in the film.

I should admit that I saw this movie before I read the books. I had been told for a while that I would really like this series, but had not got around to reading it. My sister said we should not wait for me to read it, so we went to see it in the theater, and I was hooked. I immediately went out and read the books. I never felt lost while watching the movie, which can happen sometimes if all the details of the book are not conveyed on screen. Although I highly recommend reading the books, you can see the film without reading them and enjoy it. Here is my review of The Hunger Games book.

I would recommend seeing The Hunger Games movie.

Favorite Movies Adapted From Books

This is a list of my favorite movies that are based on books I enjoy reading. This is a somewhat difficult list to make because I am particular about adaptations of books that I love. For a movie to make it on the list it means I think they did a great job keeping with the spirit and themes of the book. This list will continue to grow, and I hope to hear what some of your favorites are, or some of your suggestions on movies based on books that you have enjoyed. If you have any questions about which edition I prefer please let me know, I would be happy to share my thoughts with you.

Here is the list in no particular order:
  1. Pride And Prejudice BBC version
  2. Stardust
  3. The Help
  4. The Star Wars trilogy #4, 5, and 6
  5. The Harry Potter series particularly #6, 7.1, and 7.2
  6. Memoirs Of A Geisha
  7. Game Of Thrones HBO television series
  8. The Hunger Games
  9. Catching Fire
  10. Lark Rise To Candleford BBC television series
  11. The Walking Dead television series Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  12. Lord Of The Rings trilogy Peter Jackson version
  13. Les Miserables Musical Version
  14. Cold Mountain
  15. The Phantom Of The Opera Andrew Lloyd Weber Musical Version
  16. Wives And Daughters BBC version
  17. Call The Midwife BBC television series
  18. The Crucible
  19. Tristan And Isolde
  20. Little Women
  21. The Other Boleyn Girl
  22. Persuasion
  23. The Four Feathers
  24. Downton Abbey Masterpiece Theater television series
  25. John Adams HBO television series

From Page To Screen

This is a new section of the blog. Here I will review film adaptations of books. Seeing a well done movie is always fun, but for a fan of a book going to see the movie adaptation there can be a special thrill. This can also be a sensitive topic for many bibliophiles. When you have a favorite book, there is always the worry that those making the movie will ruin the story. Fans of a book will often want nothing to be changed when they see the movie version. Although I have fallen into that trap, it is often an unrealistic expectation. Books do not usually translate directly to film in a perfect way. The creators have inner dialogues to convey, scenes that just don't work as well on film, and so many details that cannot be spelled out on screen. While I want accuracy in my movies adaptations, I realize that can mean different things. There are some movies I have had to watch several times before I was able to decide if I liked how a book was made into a film.

Here I will discuss the version of the film, how closely it keeps to the story, and if it stays true to the themes and spirit of the tale. Some books have several movie adaptations. I will usually discuss the adaptation that I have liked the best or the one I think should be avoided for true fans. If there are a lot of different versions to choose from I might compare them. I would love to hear what you thought of each film, and if there are multiple films, which you preferred and why.

I will discuss a variety of genres. The majority will likely be from the genres I prefer to read: History, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Fairy Tales/retellings, and Classics. I will not limit myself to these categories as I have a variety of interests, but most will likely be in these genres. If you have any recommendations for a book and movie that you have enjoyed I would love to hear it!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fables: Homelands

Boy Blue has returned to the Homelands with some magical items he stole from Fabletown. He has the Witching Cloak that allows him to teleport and hide/hold items until he wants them again. He also took the Vorpal Sword(think Jabberwocky) that can vanquish any foes. With these handy items he becomes a great menace to the Adversary. He is on a mission to save Red Riding Hood, and cause trouble to the Adversary while he is at it.

This is the 6th boook in the Fables series. I liked discovering where Boy Blue has gone, and why he stole magical items from Fabletown. There is a lot of important information for the series in this volume, so it is essential to read it. We also learn beyond doubt who the Adversary is, and why he decided to take over the Homelands, which is amazing! There are some important developments with Mowgli, Pinnocchio, and Red Riding Hood as well.

We get to see what Jack's latest venture entails. It seems like the typical get rich quick scheme, but Jack has something even greater than riches in mind. This is where the spinoff series for Jack comes in. After his adventures in this book. If you were worried about plot spoilers, you can now begin reading The Jack Of Fables spinoff series, and you should be spoiler free, at least until Fables volume 13: The Great Fables Crossover. The first book in the Jack spinoff is: The (Nearly) Great Escape.

Homelands was a great addition to the Fables series. There is plenty of action, and we get to learn some very exciting things about the series. The artwork was incredible! I enjoy the different styles that are used, and find some of it very beautiful.

I recommend reading this book, and the whole series.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Pope Who Quit

In August of 1294 Peter Morrone, a hermit living in the mountains was elected Pope after a two year vacancy and takes the name Celestine V. Who is this man that was elected Pope, and why did he abdicate in December of 1294 after only a few months in office? Celestine V was one of the first Popes to abdicate in history. He was imprisoned by Boniface VIII later in December, and died in prison in May 1296. This was not the peaceful life he was hoping to lead.

I briefly read about this Pope in The Penguin History Of Medieval England, and I wanted to read this book to learn more about one of the only Pope's to willingly abdicate his position. I think I should try a different book. I found it to be a little presumptuous as some points. It also seemed while reading, that the author either did not have enough material for a book of this length, or did not put it together well. There was a lot of effort put into making this an intriguing story, and I think it went beyond what was necessary. There were some chapters that were largely speculation. The facts in this case are interesting enough, they did not need added mystery.

There was a lot of switching of tense or randomly referring to things in the present with only a loose connection that was not really necessary by using a lot of side tracked topics that again fit in, but could have been clearer why they were being added to the book. The material was put together in a choppy way that did not lend to understanding or flow of the material.

I felt very dissatisfied at the end of this book. I felt that I had hardly learned anything about Celestine V. I would also have liked it if there had been more information about Celestine V's time as Pope. It would also have been beneficial to have information on what his time in office and his resignation meant for the Catholic church. I would much rather read about that than all the random facts and speculations that filled in the book instead.

I would recommend finding a different book if you want to learn more about Celestine V.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014



Orsk furniture store is the typical large corporation store. It is perfectly designed to draw in buyers and have them spend lots of money without thinking. Something strange is happening in an Orsk store in Ohio. Every morning employees find displays disorganized and strange leavings in the showrooms. Their sales are going down, and employees are worried about their jobs. Employees are picked to work a shift overnight to see if they can discover what is happening in their store. During their patrols, they find something worse than they ever imagined.

I received a free copy of this book from Quirk Books to review*. I had a great time reading this book! I thought it was a very unique way to present a horror story. The book was formatted like a store catalog. I thought this detail added a lot to the book, and gave it a great feel. I appreciate it when authors and publishers use creative methods to enhance the reading experience.

Not only was this a humorous take on the traditional horror story, it had some great observations on the retail experience. Anyone who has worked in retail will enjoy some of the comments in this book. Readers should not worry, even with all the amusing comments, some of the horror details in the story still made me squirm. I liked the combination of horror and humor. It was well balanced and made for a fun, although semi-horrific read. It is a short book, so you will be able to read it in a couple of sittings. It was the perfect book to get me in the Halloween spirit.

I would recommend reading this book.

Here is a book trailer from Quirk Books for those who are curious about  HorrorStor.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of the book sooner than I would have gotten to it, or a book I might not have heard about otherwise,