Mailbox Monday #2

March 1, 2010

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and is quickly leading to a toppling TBR pile!

This week I received my first “official” book in the mail for review.

I received Hiking Through Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul V. Stutzman. I am really excited to start reading this book. Look out for my review later this month.

Did anything exciting arrive in your mailbox this week?

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Mailbox Monday #1

February 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. It is a chance for readers to share the books that came into their house in the past week (not including library books). This weekend I picked up a few books to take on my vacation next week. Some of them fit into my current reading challenges and some of them just looked really interesting.

  1. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  2. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  3. City of Thieves by David Benioff
  4. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee
  5. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I can’t wait to get to the airport and start reading!

Book Review: The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)

February 11, 2010

The Sea of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Fantasy/ Fiction
Source: Personal Collection

Percy Jackson’s seventh grade year was uneventful. Not a single monster bothered him at his New York prep school, until the last day of school. An innocent game of dodgeball between Percy and his classmates quickly degrades into a deadly match against cannibal giants. Then Annabeth arrives to tell Percy that Camp Halfblood’s border is failing, it has been poisoned. Percy embarks on a wild journey to find the cure, rescue Grover and save the camp. What he didn’t count on was gaining a better understanding of family. His journey reveals a surprising secret about his family and Percy can’t help but wonder if being the son of Poseidon is really the honor he thought.

I enjoyed the second book in the Percy Jackson series even more than the first. In the first book Percy often acted like a selfish child, typical eleven-year-old mentality I suppose. In The Sea of Monsters, Percy started his journey as a selfish child, but as his adventure continues he began to realize that life isn’t always going to go his way. Percy’s relationships with his fellow demigods are strengthened. I enjoyed watching him come to terms with his imperfect family. I found this part of the story very easy to relate to, everyone wants to think their father is perfect, but dads are not perfect— human or god.

The Sea of Monsters still did not give us much attention and depth to the Greek mythology, as I would have liked. The myth that Riordan did spend some time with was the Golden Fleece. Also he begin to get into some of the less common myths and monsters, which added to the intrigue because it was more difficult to figure out the monsters fatal flaw, before it is revealed.

Book Review: Jane Eyre

February 2, 2010

Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Genre: Gothic Romance, Fiction
Source: Personal Collection

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels, and it is a story I find myself revisiting annually. Each read through I discover new elements- I follow in love with new passages, understand Jane in new ways. Bronte’s novel has grown with me. When I read the novel for the first time I was ten, I fell in love with the romance of the language and the time period. Later I re-read the novel for a class assignment- I discovered much as we analyzed poignant passages. Now reading the novel again for pleasure, I find myself understanding Mr. Rochester, he is so much more than the arrogant lover I remember. Bronte has developed a true gothic romance, complete with beautiful settings, religious undertones, passionate romance and a mysterious attic secret.

Jane is an orphan, the only family she knows doesn’t want her and she is sent to live at Lowood school. The school, while providing her with a good education, is a cold and cruel place. After living most of her young life at Lowood, Jane decides it is time for her to see more of the world. She takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall, and for the first time in her life Jane feels truly happy and comfortable.

Nothing in Jane’s life up until this point has been easy and when she finds herself drawn to Mr. Rochester she is immediately wary. Jane is a woman of high morals- she always does what she believes is morally right, even if it means unhappiness for herself.

I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me. (Chapter 17)

Despite Jane’s misgivings she has fallen deeply in love. It isn’t until the day they are to be wed that Jane discovers Rochester’s dark past.  Jane unbending in her beliefs is forced to make a heart-wrenching decision.

Charlotte Bronte wrote in the poetic yet sometimes cumbersome prose of her time.  If you are up for the challenge of the language you will find that Bronte’s descriptions bring Jane’s world to life.  Bronte isn’t one to only focus on the beauty in life, she tackles difficult issues –- the question of passion versus morals, and that of woman’s independence and strength in a world dominated by men.

I love this story because of Jane’s passionate and independent spirit. Bronte wrote this novel in a time when female authors were rarely published. She creates a smart, courageous and passionate character who does not rely on her looks to make her way through the harsh world. From what little I have read about Bronte and her sisters, I believe that in part, Jane is modeled after herself.  This is a deserving classic, and in my opinion a must read!

A Nancy Drew Weekend

January 31, 2010

I read SIX Nancy Drew books over the weekend! And I will probably finish a seventh before I go to bed tonight. I am really enjoying this challenge. Each book takes me about an hour to read. It is nice to relax and read without having to work all that hard. I still love Nancy and all of her friends. I love the freedom her father gives her to follow her instincts- I don’t think this type of parenting was very common in the 30s.

When I first read about the challenge and learned that the yellow-spined version of the series were updated to be more accessible to current readers, I was a little surprised. As a child I do not remember thinking the books had old language. As I read them now, I can see why the language was updated, and even still the sentence structure feels a little odd at some points. In some ways the outdated feeling is what makes the series enjoyable. Nancy can’t just pull out her cell phone and text for help, she has to be resourceful and observant!

I’m excited to continue with this challenge, but I think I need to take a break this week and start reading something from one of my other challenges- I don’t want to overdose on Nancy Drew.