To read, June 7, 2013

20130607 211752 To read, June 7, 2013

The pile of books on my bedside table is pretty epic. And that doesn’t count the 12 or so books piled up on my iPad. Or audiobooks…

And yet, I’m always looking for more books to read. I’m always looking for the next book that really trips my trigger. I usually have several books going at one time, swapping them out, waiting for one to grab me and not let me put it down until it is done. Sometimes nothing sounds good, sometimes they all do, and I can’t decide which to start with. I finished a book earlier today, and now I can’t decide what to read next. I may just close my eyes and point….

What are you reading? Anything good that I might want to add to my pile?

Time’s Twisted Arrow, Review and Blog Tour

TimesTwistedArrowTour Times Twisted Arrow, Review and Blog Tour

TimesCover Times Twisted Arrow, Review and Blog TourTitle and Author: Time’s Twisted Arrow by Rysa Walker (Goodreads | Amazon)

Publisher: Gypsy Moon Books

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Publication Date: October 1, 2012

Pages: 351 pages

Source: Received review copy as part of tour

Kid-rating: Clean.

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

“Sharp writing, a flair for dialogue and a big, twisting imagination.” – Kirkus Reviews.

They weren’t panic attacks. Of that, seventeen year old Kate is certain, no matter what the shrink told her parents. But it’s even harder to accept the explanation offered by her terminally ill grandmother – that Kate has inherited designer DNA from the time-traveling historians of CHRONOS, who were stranded in the past by a saboteur. Kate knows that her grandmother’s story could easily be the brain tumor talking, but that doesn’t explain the odd medallion or the two young men – one of them hauntingly familiar — who simply vanish before her eyes on the subway. It doesn’t explain Trey, the handsome stranger who now occupies Kate’s assigned seat in trig class. And it definitely doesn’t explain why Kate is now in an alternate timeline, where leaders of a previously unknown cult hold great power and are planning a rather drastic form of environmental defense.

In this new reality, Kate’s grandmother was murdered at age twenty-two on a research trip to the past, which means that Kate’s mother was never born, her father doesn’t know her and, for all intents and purposes, she doesn’t exist. The only thing keeping her from disappearing entirely is the strange blue medallion around her neck, and the only thing keeping her sane is her burgeoning relationship with Trey. To restore the time line, Kate must travel back to 1893 and keep herself and her grandmother clear of H.H. Holmes, the serial killer who is stalking young women at the Chicago World’s Fair. But that choice comes at a price – she’ll remember the past few months with Trey, but when he looks at her, he’ll see a total stranger.

My review

Time travel can be so tricky: if you don’t build it and sell it well, it falls apart. Luckily, Ryse Walker built this one quite well, and I loved this book a lot. I was pretty thoroughly convinced by the world-building, the character-building, and even though we are dealing with the confusion the comes with the implications of time travel as presented by this book, I was thoroughly satisfied by the way the author led us through everything.

Although there are 2 swoon-worthy love interests for Kate, our main character, the circumstances did not read like a clichéd love triangle to me. Other readers might disagree, but know that I’m getting tired of the triangle thing, so my radar is tuned pretty high for that.

I like books that don’t end up giving me every single answer — there was a nice resolution, but not a cliffhanger, and the possibilities for future stories in this book’s universe are endless. I look forward to seeing where Walker takes us next. There were lots of things hinted at, or left open that would be nice to have answered. With the twists involved in this book, I can only imagine what twisty ways in which we’ll get those answers.

I don’t believe in going on and on and writing my own novel in response to the books I’ve read: I like to know what people thought, so that I can find out if this might fit with something I’d be interested in reading. I could write a longer review, but I’d rather just suggest that if you enjoy time travel novels, you should check this one out. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next installment!

Author Bio

RYSA WALKER grew up on a cattle ranch in the South. Her options for entertainment were talking to cows and reading books. (Occasionally, she would mix things up a bit and read books to cows.) On the rare occasion that she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stop light.

When not writing, she teaches history and government in North Carolina, where she shares an office with her husband, who heroically pays the mortgage each month, and a golden retriever named Lucy. She still doesn’t get control of the TV very often, thanks to two sports-obsessed kids.

Author Links:
Website: http://chronosfiles.blogspot.ca/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6581077.Rysa_Walker
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RysaWalker
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheChronosFiles

Giveaway

There are TWO giveaways you can participate in:

First is for one (1) ebook copy of Time’s Twisted Arrow. Open internationally. This giveaway is only here on my blog. In order to enter, you just need to comment on this post. Be sure to enter a valid e-mail address when you comment, as this is how I’ll contact you. Entries will be open until March 10th at midnight. One entry per person, I’ll use Random.org to pick a winner.

The second giveaway is for the grand prize for the entire tour and includes a signed copy of Walker’s book, as well as a $25 Amazon.com gift card! (See the Terms and Conditions in the Rafflecopter form for the details).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fairy Tale Friday, Book Review: The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

9521508 Fairy Tale Friday, Book Review: The Duke is Mine by Eloisa JamesTitle and Author: The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Romance

Publication Date: December 27th 2011

Pages: 367 pages

Source: Purchased ebook

Kid-rating: Not for kids. It’s a romance novel: lots of sexual innuendo and um, actual you-know-what.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

(from GoodReads)
This Duke is Mine

He is a duke in search of a perfect bride.

She is a lady–but a long way from perfect.

Tarquin, the powerful Duke of Sconce, knows perfectly well that the decorous and fashionably slender Georgiana Lytton will make him a proper duchess. So why can’t he stop thinking about her twin sister, the curvy, headstrong, and altogether unconventional Olivia? Not only is Olivia betrothed to another man, but their improper, albeit intoxicating, flirtation makes her unsuitability all the more clear.

Determined to make a perfect match, he methodically cuts Olivia from his thoughts, allowing logic and duty to triumph over passion…Until, in his darkest hour, Quin begins to question whether perfection has anything to do with love.

To win Olivia’s hand he would have to give up all the beliefs he holds most dear, and surrender heart, body and soul…

Unless it’s already too late.

Don’t miss a new version of The Princess & the Pea, asking an age-old question: What is a perfect princess?

My review

The Project Fairy Tale folks were supposed to try to stick to Young Adult books, and I do have some YA Princess and the Pea that I’m going to try to read, but there really isn’t a lot of YA Princess and the Pea stories. Frankly, there aren’t a lot of Princess and the Pea novels at all. As near as I can tell, most retellings are picture books and are mostly just illustrated editions of the original story itself. I’ve seen a few that look to be variations, (a princess and a peanut allergy, or a princess and a packet of frozen peas, that sort of thing…)

This is one of several adult romance novels that I found. I have somewhat gotten away from reading romance novels because so often the sex scenes are so outrageously over the top and stupid I can’t stand it. I thought I’d give this one a try (for research), and I’m glad I did. A lot of why I liked this book is the humor — the whole thing had me laughing out loud. It was a quick read that did not even try to take itself seriously (even in the bedroom), and I had fun the whole time I was reading it.

There was some over the top stuff (especially the ending, the peril at the end was forced and unnecessary), and some of the tension was a little artificially drawn out.

Was it silly? Sure, but sometimes a person needs a silly enjoyable read.

Some of the reviews I read took issue with the way that Olivia, our main character, treated her betrothed, Rupert, who is mentally handicapped. I had actually read these reviews before starting, so I was paying attention, and I have to say that I think these reviewers didn’t give the book enough of a chance. I thought their concerns were dealt with as the book progressed.

As far as the Princess and the Pea elements go:  I though it was pretty cleverly done here. Our heroine’s sister is an aspiring duchess, not a princess, but she is being tested by the Duke’s mother for their suitability as his potential mate. There is a pile of mattresses involved in the story, but no peas, and it wasn’t the duke’s mother that piled them up. This was part of the ending that was a little over the top, and by this point, I could have done without her shoehorning the mattresses in. I’d say that’s a pretty minor quibble on my part, though.

I had never read any books by Eloisa James before, and I will probably read more in the future, I enjoyed her voice and humor. If you like adult romance novels and are looking for something quick and fun, you might give this one a try.

Fairy Tale Friday: Once Upon A Mattress

OnceUponAMattress Fairy Tale Friday: Once Upon A MattressThe musical, Once Upon A Mattress, is a very funny adaptation of the Princess and the Pea story. It sets out to answer some of the questions that I raised in my previous post — where did the princess come from? What was wrong with the other princesses? Why the pea under the mattress test? How did she actually pass the test?

Synopsis

In this case, the princess is actually brought to the castle by Sir Harry, who desperately wants the Prince to get married, so he can marry is own love, Lady Larken. (The Queen has decreed that no one else in the kingdom may marry until the Prince does). The Prince he has found is named Fred, and she lived in a swamp. She truly is a princess, but not like any princess this kingdom has ever seen.

The prince is immediately taken with her, which scares the Queen, who is a domineering tyrant with a mute husband, and a son who is so pathetic, you feel quite sorry for him.

As the Prince and Princess Fred get to know each other (and fall in love?) we learn that Sir Harry and Lady Larken REALLY need to get married ASAP, because a little picnic they enjoyed has resulted in an impending blessing. (And one gets the feeling that they aren’t entirely sure how that happened…) Sir Harry is more worried about the impact on HIS reputation than on the consequences for his love, and frankly, one wonders what Lady Larken sees in him.

In the meantime, the Queen and her Wizard are devising tests to get rid of the completely unsuitable Princess Fred, and decide upon the mattress test.

once 2005 Fairy Tale Friday: Once Upon A Mattress

A visiting minstrel, and the court jester turn out to be the heroes of the story because they (a) come up with a plan to help Lady Larkin escape her situation and go to the beautiful land of Normandy and (b) they overhear the Queen scheming with the wizard about the pea plot, and are able to “help” matters along — they stuff Princess Fred’s mattresses full of swords and armor and other bulky metal objects, so it’s no wonder she doesn’t sleep a wink.

Lady Larken is caught escaping, but it doesn’t matter, because Princess Fred has passed the test — the prince has a bride, and the King finally puts his stands up to wife, finds his voice again, and everyone lives “happily, happily, happily ever after.”

Broadway and TV

Carol Burnett was the Princess Fred in the Broadway production (1959) (and in 2 made for TV versions, 1964 and 1972). The musical has also been filmed more recently (2005), with Carol Burnett as the Queen, Tracey Ullman as Princess Fred, and even more notably: Glee’s Matthew Morrison (Will Schuester) as Sir Harry. It was fun to watch, especially when we were getting ready for the high school production, however it was only just OK. The Carol Burnett version was infinitely better…unfortunately, I’ve only ever seen the 1972 version, and that was many years ago: I haven’t found it on DVD, and YouTube only turns up some very bad screen captures of someone’s TV.

Suzanne’s Trip Down Memory Lane

I’ve mentioned that this has a special place in my heart: during my senior year of high school (a million years ago! OK, it was 1990), our school staged a production: and I was Lady Larken. And more recently, the high school that I am now working at staged it, and I was the accompanist for the show. Plus, I made a “quilt” that we draped over a metal bunk bed to be our 20 mattresses…my dogs still sleep on that “quilt.”

It has become very hard for me to separate the additions of “Once Upon A Mattress” from the original story when I think of the Princess and the Pea. The fact that Princess Fred was “helped” in the mattress test harkens back to versions of the story prior to Andersen’s most popular telling — she was often only able to pass the test because a helper had told her about the test beforehand. And the fact that the Queen is such a miserable person colors my perspective of her, even in the original.

As a musical, Once Upon A Mattress is a lot of fun, and lends itself well to high school productions. It’s not spectacular by any means, but it is a sweet and funny retelling, and I will always remember it fondly, not just for the story itself, but also for the high school memories.

It’s funny, the high school productions that I have helped with as an adult  have all been fraught with both highs and lows. Every single productions has been plagued by worries that the students won’t pull it off because they are still learning lines and stage directions and music and dancing right up until a week before the production. They always manage to pull it off, barely, but it makes me wonder back to my high school days — I suppose we were that way, too. In fact, I know we were: we had to make changes to one of the songs because some of us hadn’t learned the music in time!

Have you seen a production of Once Upon A Mattress? What did you think?

As I mentioned last week, my fairy tale posts this month are inspired by a group of bloggers who are writing about fairy tales and retellings this month, the host is The Cheap Reader. I am participating unofficially, as I did not get signed up (I didn’t hear about it until just a few weeks ago!)

Top Ten Best Bookish Memories

top 10 tuesday banner Top Ten Best Bookish MemoriesSo I didn’t think I was going to have anything to write for this week’s prompt, for the top 10 meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, because I haven’t gone to any book signings or big conventions or anything like that.

However, I was lying in bed this morning, and it occurred to me that I have had plenty of cool bookish memories, I just needed to reset the way I was thinking about it. So here is my list:

  1. Watching my boys (now 13) become readers. The books that got them to really be interested in reading on their own? The Captain Underpants series. Lately, their reading has gotten eclipsed by video game playing, so we need to work on balancing that back out. I’m so glad that they enjoy reading for pleasure.
  2. Being a part of the renovation of our local library. One interesting memory is helping to move the library’s collection across the street to it’s temporary home. Books were carried across the street in boxes by a line of dedicated helpers. Of course, a year later, we had to reverse the process, but it was all worth it. The renovation/addition cost $3 million, but it looks like we spent $10 million. It is that gorgeous.
  3. Watching the ALA awards last week, when The One and Only Ivan received the Newbery. I think my favorite thing to come out of the subsequent press is Katherine Applegate’s comment about wanting to write in “first person gorilla.” Yes, it’s from the view of a gorilla, and you are thinking something like…I don’t read middle grade…or I don’t read about animals…or…the viewpoint of a gorilla? Set aside your doubts, this is a must-read for everyone.
  4. This sort of relates to number 1, but…I loved reading children’s books to my boys when they were little. Sure, there were some duds that I would have preferred not having to read ever again, but we read a lot of good books over the years. I miss going to the children’s section of the bookstore and library!! Like many parents, we had large portions of Dr. Seuss’s oeuvre memorized, and I bet there are some other books that I could probably still recite parts of. One of my favorites that comes to mind right away, is The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. Come to think of it, I need to go find our copy and reread that one.
  5. Reading a new book from my favorite author(s) for the first time. Sure, there’s always that trepidation: am I going to love this one as much as I have loved their past novels? Only a few times have I been disappointed. Mostly, I’m thrilled to have another visit with favorite characters and locations.
  6. Finding new favorite books and authors (such as The Archived by Victoria Schwab).
  7. The day that a teacher at my school brought me a stack of his favorite books (some of which were signed, and were prized possessions), and asked if I wanted to read them. I have teased him about him being a book pusher, and about how I have enough to read without his help, but I really did appreciate the trust he put in me (I was very careful!), and also the fact that he BROUGHT ME BOOKS. Books that he loved, and that I also ended up loving, too.

I hate to end on an odd number, but I’m running out of time, and that’s all I can think of for now. I hope to visit everyone else’s lists later tonight or tomorrow. I’m glad I kept thinking, because this was kind of a nice trip down memory lane. Happy Tuesday!