Saturday, July 31, 2010

July in Review

As always, I've borrowed this template from Lily's Bookshelf. You should check out her blog, it's pretty awesome. 

Books Read:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  - Rowling (post)
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince  - Rowling (post)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  - Rowling (post)
The Blind Contessa's New Machine - Wallace (review)
One Day - Nicholls (review)
This Mitchell and Webb Book (no post, no review)
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti - Melucci (finished today, review to come shortly)

Total Number of Books Read This Month: 7
Total Number of Books Read This Year: 36
Most Anticipated: 
One Day
Biggest Let Down: 
Favorite Read:
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
Highest Rank:
Lowest Rank:
Overall Reflection:
I came into July high on the Harry Potter horse. June had found me full of spells and under-aged wizards, but I never really got ahead like I'd planed. July was very different. I read through the last three books in about a week and a half. This left me feeling a little sad that My time at Hogwarts for this year was over, but even more excited to tackle my ever growing TBR list. 
I'd felt bad that I had received Wallace's  book as an ARC from Goodreads back in early June and hadn't touched it, so I picked it up determine to finish it in a day. In the end it took me 2, but it was still a very quick read. One Day took me longer and my work schedule had really picked up, but the neck breaking pace I had established while reading Harry was still lurking in me and In about 4 days, I was done. 
This Mitchell and Webb Book and I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti I got for my birthday on Monday and immersed myself in. My dad had commented that I'd remember my 21st birthday by all the books I got, but I think it's more I'll remember my 21st year for all the books I'll read.  I'm done with my summer job in two weeks and looking forward to have a very productive August, book wise. I'm making it my goal to finish Lolita, Dancing with Dega, and Norwegian Wood , as well as to buy and finish The Red Queen - which is to be the only exception to my book buying ban.  

Summer at Hogwarts - Deathly Hollows

And so we come to the end. Our exams are finished, all homework is turned in and our trunks have magically packed themselves. Of course this also means we finished the final installment in JK Rowlings Harry Potter series.
There is something about Deathly Hallows that just screams final to me. This is appropriate as it is the final book in the series, but still, the finiteness of Harry's world and story is present on every page of page turner. I had to put off starting Deathly Hallows for a day after I finished Half Blood Prince and had an unnecessarily strong reaction to Dumbledores death - but after taking some time I jumped right into Deathly Hallows and tried not to look back to the happy Harry we saw in the early books. 

The on thing that has always struck me about Deathly Hallows is how intertwined everything in the series is. Having read Hallows the least I had a hard time pinpointing what happened, but when talking about all thinks Potter with a few friends I paused and tried to remember if some of the facts about Dumbledore I was spouting out were actually in the books or just something Rowling said in passing. I was happy to find that everything I remembered about Dumbledore, as well as some minuet other facts, all appeared in Deathly Hallows. 

This book really reaffirms my love for all Weasleys. I love how George reacts to his missing ear,  Bills wedding, Ron and his locket drama, Percy's return and of course Mrs. Weasley's surprise killing of Bellatrix. I remember crying during my first reading of Deathly Hallows as Fred died, and couldn't help myself from shedding a few tears again. 

The last thing I really want to mention is Snape. If you were a fan back when the books were first being published I'm sure you took part in the "is Snape good or evil" debate. Not only do we get our answer here, but it's delivered in such a way that all of Snape's actions make sense. I was heartbroken over Snapes memories. His relationship with Lily, his penance and his ability to risk his life to honor the woman he always loved. 

There is obviously so much more to say about both Deathly Hallows and the series in general, but I think this is a good note to leave this readalong on.

Did you find anything striking in Deathly Hallows? Questions? Complaints? What about the series in generally? Do you still see yourself as the bookish Ravenclaw, or rule defying Gryffindor?  Thanks for all who joined in or just lurked in the shadows!

And Lastly. It's July 31st so a Happy Birthday to our favorite fictional Wizard! 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Birthday Book Hop

Book Blogger Hop
Hello fellow Hoppers! I am once again glad to be participating in the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy-for-Books. I'm going to respectfully not answer her weekly question because I haven't really be reading new authors as of late.

In other book news:
My Birthday was Monday and I got a ton of books.

I'm already almost done with This Mitchell and Webb Book, but it is more like Colbert's I'm America and So Can You, so it's a lot of weird mostly picture pages, but it's very funny.  I'm also halfway through I Loved. I Lost. I Made Spaghetti. I didn't have it on any of my lists but my friend got it because it reminded her of me. I'm loving it so far. It has a ton of good recipes in between the hilarious, but tragic relationships. I've also started to less stellar results Apathy and Other Small Victories. 
I think I'll continue my self imposed book ban for another few weeks. or at least until I've finished most of my birthday books.

Happy Hopping!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One Day

One Day
David Nicholls

Emma and Dexter meet on July 15th, 1988, the day the graduate from University, and the rest is history. We follow Emma and Dexter on every subsequent July 15th for the next 20 years. We see bad jobs and great vacations, one night stands and sad serious relationships, but mostly we see two great friends trying to live life as best they can.

I had been hearing great things about One Day for a while now and it seemed like the perfect summer read. It definitely lived up to it's reputation. By the end I felt like I had been on a long and emotional journey with a girl not unlike myself and a guy a little to attractive for his own good. Only seeing people one day a year was interesting. It was obvious that things had happened, sometimes big things sometimes not, but regardless we got all the important information without all the little details. It was a great representation of the times it travels through.

My only issues with One Day aren't really plot or structure related. Dexter is pretty self centered and obnoxious and at times it is hard to care for him, but that is kind of his purpose. Never the less it is still a little trying to get through his "I'm only twenty (blank)" phase.

If you've got the time I'd definitely recommend One Day. I feel like I was taught a huge lesson about life after finishing it, though i'm still not sure what that lesson is. This one will stay with you for a while!

My Rating:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Hallows vs Horcruex's

Alright everyone, the end of the term is almost here and you know what that means? EXAMS! Don't forget to write neatly and put your name on everything :)

Exam #1: Hallows or Horcruex's - does one resonate with you more than the other. Would you be a person who would use these ways to stave off death? 
Please also address : Which of the Hallow's you would find most useful
What you would make into a Horcruex 
(Not that you would want to make a Horcruex, but if you were, what object would you use)

I'll post my answers later this week. Have fun and no cheating!


1.I'm going out of town for a few days for my Birthday (well, before my Birthday but only by a day) so I won't be blogging for a few days.
2. The Huge TBR Readathon - as I expected, work took up a little to much of my time this week. I still managed to finish The Blind Contessa's New Machine and most of One Day. A Review should be up shortly.
3. Summer at Hogwarts will be over a week from tomorrow so expect a few more quizzes and a warp up post.

I think that's it.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Blind Contessa's New Machine

The Blind Contessa's New Machine
Received from Goodreads, Now on Sale

Carey Wallace

Carolina Fantoni is an interesting girl. Despite the time frame she spends a lot of time alone at her man made lake. She, like the others in town harbors a secret hope that she will win the heart of the handsome and charismatic Pietro. Turri has all the locals shaking their heads. He muses about unimportant things and conducts odd experiments. Carolina and Turri become fast friends, watching the rain together and coming up with various improbable experiments. That is until she is married and quickly goes blind.  While their relationship will blossom, Turri makes her a machine to write with making her the envy of the town.

My cookie cutter description is a lot like how The Blind Contessa's New Machine reads. It's interesting, but very predictable. For a true story it does alright by it's characters. Carolina is hard to understand, her blindness doesn't seem to bother her. Nothing really seems to bother her until she can't see Turri. Pietro is easier to understand, he's beautiful and privileged and because of that he has a kind of arrogance that only comes out when all other charming have failed.  Lastly there's Turri. I loved Turri, he was excentric and didn't mind being the talk of the town. Even so he acknowledged his reputation as a crazy man making crazy machines.  He's a treat to read because he is so full of wonder.

The story itself is nothing special. Girl is friends with Boy, Girl likes other Boy, Girl and Boy 2 get married and Girl starts and affair with original Boy. Place everyone in the early 1800's and make the Girl blind and that is The Blind Contessa's New Machine. Even though it's fairly simple it was an enjoyable read. Carolina's blindness left me pondering my own vision. She had so much to overcome once she lost her sight, especially since she was in a new house, and I wondered how I'd hold up in the same situations. Her dreams were less of a pleasure to read. There were far to many and they were all about her running around her house and her lake and looking for Turri. They got really repetitive and at some points were happening ever three or four pages.

In short, if you like historical fiction, novels set in Italy or novels the deal prominently with blindness, The Blind Contessa's New Machine is worth picking up, just don't expect to much from it.

My Rateing:

Monday, July 19, 2010

The HUGE TBR Readathon

Book Worming in the 21st Century is hosting a read-a-thon this week. While I work most days, I have short shifts and really hope to get through a few books in the next five days.
I'm not really sure how much time I'll really have over the next five days, but here is a list of some of the books i'd like to finish:
-The Blind Contessa's New Machine - Got from Goodreads over a month ago. Feel guilty that I haven't read it
-One Day - It sounds like the perfect summer read, and from what I hear it's amazing.
-Norwegian Wood - I was in a book club on livejournal that was reading this before it crumbled. I'd like to finish it
-The Lake of Dead Languages - I have enjoyed the other Goodman I've read and have been thumbing through Languages really wanting to read it. I'm not so sure if I'll get this far.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Half Blood Prince

Hello fellow Hogwartsians! According to our syllabus we've just finished Half Blood Prince and that puts us in the final weeks of us semester, and our fight against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Name.
I know I went on and on about how much I love Goblet of Fire, but nothing compares with how much I love Half Blood Prince. Everything about HBP entrances me. We've got the history we've been craving, hormones at an all time high and we're at threat level midnight. 
HBP is where I really start liking Hermione as a character and see her as more than their brainy sidekick. I love how hurt she is by Ron and Lavender, and how oblivious Ron is to the entire situation he created. Of course I also love "the monster inside Harry" that comes out around Ginny. It's corny but cute. 
It's safe to say that my favorite parts of Prince are the lessons with Dumbledore. For me these lessons are like a safe version of adventure. We don't have to worry about Harry or Dumbledore when we are in these memories and can push the immediate threats from our mind as we learn more about the boy who was Tom Riddle. I'm fascinated with the Hogwarts founders and while we don't see much of them here, we do get to see  further down the line of Slytherin. 
Lastly I really love the inside world of the Malfoys. As far as Evil characters go, Lucious has always been my favorite. He doesn't make much of an appearance here but we see what his downfall has done to his family. Bellatrix and Narcissa are closer than one would have originally thought and, perhaps the biggest surprise is that Cissy is willing to defy Voldemorts orders to help her son. 
For my Order recap I wrote about the memories I associated with the first time I read it, for Half Blood Prince it is all about the aftermath - Is Snape good or evil? -  Have we really been given enough information on the Horcruxes - Who's going to die? My friends and I spent the years between the two releases having heated discussion about each of these questions.

Those are just some of the reasons I love Half Blood Prince. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the 6th installment in the Harry Potter series! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hop, Now With Questions!

It's Friday, and also my first day off in over a week, so there are many things to be excited about! Of course, the most exciting by far is the Hop, hosted by Crazy-For-Books where we all get to meet other book bloggers and have fun.  
Book Blogger Hop

This weeks Hop question is -

I've gotta say I've been so immersed in Harry Potter land this past week that I haven't given much thought to other books. My TBR pile is pretty  big though and my birthday is 10 days away so I'm going to tweak the question a little.  The book I'm most excited to (hopefully) get for my birthday is a complete set of the Grimm Fairy tales. Or Wolf Hall. 

In other news I've done very well with my book buying ban this week. I didn't get anything! Of course I couldn't be smart and save all of that money and instead I got coffee 3 times. I didn't even use my free birthday coupon. Oh well, baby steps. 

Summer at Hogwarts - Spells and Enchantments

Hello Everyone! Hope all of you're enjoying you're NEWT subjects and having fun traveling through other people's memories. I'm back with another Quiz! This one a bit more creative - if you will - and fits right in with the Prince's potions book.

Quiz #9: What would be you're favorite spell or enchantment? It doesn't have to be one mentioned in the series, it can be something you've thought up yourself or just think is a good idea. Try to remember the basic principles of Rowlings Magic as you're creating.

I'm very impressed with so much of the magic that appears in the Harry Potter series so I know I'll have a hard time just picking one spell that I'd think was most useful. However I've had a weird week, and it left me with a very vivid idea for a mildly amusing and annoying spell. You see, every day since Sunday I've had long periods of time where I'd swear it was a Thursday. Yesterday I went so far as to drive home thinking I didn't have to work the next day and smiling at the idea of being able to find an upload of one of my favorite shows that airs on Thursday nights. This continued through the lovely glass of wine I had with my parents and the episode of NCIS I watched until I went to look for said upload. I looked and looked and was becoming angry when I saw the date. The 14th. Not the 15th. It was a Wednesday. This incident was the last straw (and day before Thursday) where I concluded that some kind of everyday feels like Thursday spell would be right up the prince's spell inventing ally. It would confuse people on homework assignments and work schedules and give everyone that weekend yearning that is so distracting.

Oh, and I've decide my favorite real spell would be a summoning charm.

Paris in July - Bastille Day

It's Bastille Day! Ok, it's not really Bastille Day but it was yesterday and I was just to tired to blog about it. As I'm sure a few of you know, the storming of the Bastille on July 14 1789 that sparked the start of that  big ol' Revolution that everyone goes on about. As I couldn't be in France to celebrate, like I would have liked, instead I watched an older episode of QI where the lovely Stephen Fry gives us all a lesson on the prisoners in the Bastille when it was taken.
Here is the clip of that episode

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Paris in July

Karen at Book Bath and Tamara at Thyme for Tea are hosting a special project this July, featuring the beautiful city of Paris. You can participate along with many others by clicking here. 
I took this cliché picture when I was in Paris for a few days in June of 2006. I went as part of an early graduation present from my Grandmother with my best friend and mom. I absolutely fell in love with the city - with the geography, architecture, cuisine, people - everything. I still have a vivid, simple memory of my mom and I roaming the streets by our hotel looking for a nail salon. The entire trip was about 2 weeks long and had us spending time in London and Rome as well as Paris. At the time I was more interested in crossing off locations on a list than in the places themselves. Looking back I think those few days in Paris were the inspiring, because they showed me a city that I'd previously thought of as snobby and foreign as something amazing. 

Since then I've taken French (with little success), discovered the charm of the French New Wave film movement, read Les Mis, I haphazardly watch the Tour de France every year, and have, taken a class completely dedicated to the French Revolution. 
Every year I try to transport myself to a far away place using books. While this year has been more of an Italy year, one of my favorite books was set in Paris. Claude and Camille follows the early life of the painter Claude Monet and his first true love and wife, Camille. It made the Paris the Impressionists new vivid and entrancing.  I'm looking forward to dedicating the parts of July that are not filled with Harry Potter to books that are anyway related to France. 
After first hearing about Paris in July I was upset to realize that the only books that were either French/set in France were those of Victor Hugo and the above mentioned Claude and Camille. I decided I would enlist the help of the blogging community to come up with some other books for the month. The great people over at livejournals bookish community have been very helpful. If anyone is interested here is my book request post.
I look forward to reviewing some French inspired books and writing about my favorite French movies later in the month. 

Bonne nuit!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Magical Creatures

As we've just finished (or are about to finish) our OWLS i think it's safe to say that we're going to need more Quizzes to successfully pass our NEWTs.  I'm here with our first NEWT worthy quiz!

Quiz #8: What is your favorite Magical Creature? We've seen dozens of unique and interesting creatures over the past five Hogwarts years, and I'm sure some of us have a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them handy so use this knowledge and tell me which creature you want to cuddle! (Or watch from a distance. Depending on danger level.)

I've been putting off this quiz for a while because I'm having a hard time coming up with an answer. Like most girls I think Unicorns would be cool to be around, but I think overall my favorite magical creature would have to be the Hippogriffs. Assuming I could gain the respect of one I think I'd really like to have one around.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hopping & Buying

Now it's time for another weekend hop hosted by Crazy-For-Books!


In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a placejust for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new book-related blogs that we may be missing out on!  This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!  So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list below!!

We are getting to know our Book Blog Hoppers!  Please answer the following question in your blog hop post and link to it in the Linky below!  

This week's question:  Tell us about some of your favorite authors and why they are your favorites!
Now this is a question I'm frequently asked but rarely have a good response to. In all honest my favorite authors vary depending on my last 6 months of reading. Regardless, a few who have stood the test of time are Tracy Chevalier for her abilities to bring past times back to life so vividly, Jonathan Safron Foer for walking the perfect line between past and present and Milan Kundera for making me feel more philosophically informed than I really am. 

Now for a recap of my week in bookland! 
I'm still reading through the Harry Potter Series for my Summer at Hogwarts Program. My TBR list has gone from slightly daunting to completely out of control. Despite the fact that I'm reading less than I want to and am committed to finishing the HP Series before I seriously start anything other than short stories I have bought more books this week. 
They are -
I got a Great and Terrible Beauty and Mists of Avalon from and One day from I've heard amazing things about all three and can't wait to start on one of them (Especially One Day!)
Being that it is now July, I have bought to many books and my TBR list is to long, I will not be buying anything else until my Birthday at the end of the month, Hope my local Barnes and Noble doesn't go out of business without me!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Order of the Phoenix

Hello fellow Summer term students. We've officially transitioned from the innocent boy who lived to a full on war with the final pages of Order of the Phoenix. 

I have a few very vivid memories of the first time I read these books. One is when I first picked up Sorcerers Stone fell in love with the first chapter on my bed when I was 12. Another very vivid memory is reading Order right after it came out at my brothers Little League game and having Sirius die right somewhere in the 7th inning and not wanting to finish the book at the game. This, of course isn't important to anyone but myself but it speaks to something more within the series in that these books create memories. Great memories of reading for hours and loving every second of it. 

I mention this because I'm not a huge fan of Order. I enjoyed it the first few times I read it, being around the age Harry is in the book and understanding his teenage angst. However the past few times I've sat down with Order of the Phoenix I've had a hard time getting over Harry's self absorbed, misdirected anger. This time was no different and I found I was gritting my teeth at every mini outburst, as well as cringing whenever Umbridge was present. Of course, this is Umbridge's purpose. If we didn't all hate her she'd have done nothing for the story. In some ways I hate her more that I ever have hated Voldemort. There is something in Voldy that can be pitied but Umbridge is just so uppity and pretentious.  

Overall I was most surprised with all the little things that Order has to offer. Ron playing Quidditch, Fred and George being Fred and George, Kretcher, Neville growing up, and some of the first looks at the Pensieve stand out as some of my favorite things. 

I'm really looking forward to Half Blood Prince, as it is consistently one of my favorites.