Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Map of Time Giveaway!

So I'm sitting here this morning, drinking a caramel soy latte (yeah I know but I have to lay off the dairy right now) - and I realized that I have a lovely giveaway for you all!!!

In honor of Carl's cool R.I.P. VI Challenge - I have an extra copy of The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma (check out my review) to give away to one lucky winner.

Like all my personal giveaways, this is open internationally.  Yep! I've sent books all over the world this is a nice chunkster.  So come on and enter!!  The contest is open through November 13th.

Here's the requirements:

1. Enter the form below ONLY.
2. You MUST leave an email address -- if I don't hear back in five days I pick a new winner.
3. You MUST head over to Carl's RIP VI Challenge site and tell me if you are now or ever been a participant, then tell me some of the books from the challenge that you've read or wanted to read.The review site is also a good place to check out people's reviews on a ton of books.
4. You MUST answer this: during the autumn and winter months, while sitting and reading a good book, what is your favorite tasty beverage to curl up with?
5. Good luck!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Map of Time - Felix J. Palma

Title: The Map of Time
Author: Felix J. Palma
Hardcover: 609 pages
Publisher: Atria Books
Published Date: June 2011
FTC: Received/won from Atria via Shelf Awareness

I was beyond excited when I received a copy of The Map of Time in the mail.  The cover is just simply amazing.  This is simply one of the many reasons why I love physical books.  The end paper is gorgeous as well.  Check out the picture I snapped at the end of the post.  Anyway.  The book deals with classic authors, the Victorian era, Jack the Ripper, time travel...I was sold.

The synopsis from GoodReads:

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma. Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time is a page-turner that boasts a triple play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence. What happens if we change history?

My thoughts:

The first thing you'll notice is this book is a chunkster.  It's beautifully bound but at just over six hundred pages, it can be a bit daunting.  The good thing is that it is actually a quick read.  I thought the GoodReads synopsis was quite a bit - well if not misleading then a little simplistic for what the book really was about.  I don't want to give too much away so I'll try to be as enigmatic as possible and still get across my ideas.

The book is divided into three parts.  The narrator is this omniscient person who sees all and sometimes talks to the reader.  I usually find this pretty fun and this was no exception.  Part One deals with wealthy Andrew Harrington.  He is planning on killing himself.  The reasons involve Jack the Ripper, a prostitute -- again I don't want to give too much away.  Very early on we learn that it's been a year since Jack the Ripper was caught.  (What?!)

The story includes a gentlemen in London who claims to have found a way to travel to the year 2000 when the automatons have pretty much razed the world (again ???).  He sets up a business called Murray's Time Travel where wealthy travelers can take a day trip to the year 2000 and see a famous battle.   Part two deals more with Murray's Time Travel and a wealthy girl named Claire who wants to escape the drudgery of being a woman in the Victorian era.

As you can see.  Quite not what I was expecting.  I talked a little bit to a fellow blogger who was also reading The Map of Time and wasn't quite sure if she was liking it or not.  I said....I totally understand but hang in there until Part Three.  O yeah.  Totally worth it.  While Parts One and Two were well written and entertaining --- it just wasn't turning out to be the book I wanted.  That's always dangerous to go into a book with certain expectations.  HOWEVER ---- Part Three totally shifted everything into a whole different focus and totally made me end up - if not loving the book then being exactly the kind of book I was wanting to read.

To sum it up:

Parts One and Two are a bit odd.  Entertaining but odd.  Part Three rocks.  I loved that H.G. Wells really is a major player throughout the book.  Historical and literary characters such as Bram Stoker, Henry James, Jack the Ripper, and Joseph Merrick (the elephant man).  I loved learning new things like the real automata dolls built by Jaquet-Droz (seriously check out the link...weird...).

I didn't like that it took until Part Three for me to really enjoy the book (about five hundred pages).  It's not that the rest wasn't entertaining - but I kept eying other books on the shelf.  That and every so often I'd think that something was a bit juvenile - for instance when Claire first meets Captain Shackleton (I'm trying not to have any spoilers so that's all I'll say - but if you've read the book then you'd see what I mean).

So there we go.  Quite an interesting read and quite the perfect Autumn read for the R.I.P. VI Challenge.

Another cool cover:

As I was persusing the internet, it looks like this may be the first book in a trilogy.  This would surprise me because it seemed like a very much stand-alone type of book.  Anyone know anything about this?

As promised, here's the gorgeous end covers of the book.  Lovely, right?

Head over to the book's website for some cool stuff.  I have the wallpaper on my laptop and he has a cool list of Additional Reading for time travel/Victorian stuff - like Jack Finney's books.  I love when author's do that.

Also Reviewed by:

Book Chatter
Alive on the Shelves
At Home with Books
Fyrefly's Book Blog

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Lantern - Group Read Week 1

As part of the R.I.P. VI Challenge, Carl is hosting a few group reads and I decided to join along in reading The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson. I saw that my library had The Lantern available for an eAudio download so I requested it.  Unfortunately the request expired yesterday so I had to scurry to read listen to the book a little ahead of the read-a-long schedule. I'm still going to respond to the questions but it might be a little odd since I've finished the book.

Here we go!  Watch out for SPOILERS!!!!

1. This may seem like an obvious opening question, but what do you think of The Lantern thus far?

I adored this book. Part 1 started off a little slow but my favorite parts where 2 and 3.  This Week only goes over Parts 1 and 2.  Overall - the sights, the sounds = Beautiful and Inspiring.

2. The book appears to be following the experiences of two different women, alternating back and forth between their stories. Are you more fond of our main protagonist’s story or of Benedicte’s or are you enjoying them both equally?

I was reading Carl's response over at Stainless Steel Droppings and he mentioned that he was having a hard time following who was talking - Eve or Benedicte - except that once you get into it, the chapter breaks help.  I think this is what makes the audio version an awesome pick for this story.  Eve and Benedicte are narrated by different ladies and they both have such beautiful voices!  I think I may have perfered one over the other if I was reading, but the fact that they did such a wonderful audio job with the story....I love their stories equally. That's is a huge rarity for me. 

The other odd note: I think if I was reading the story it would have taken me a bit to realize that Benedicte was female.  Anyone have this happen?

Also, the lady who narrates Eve - my gosh she has an awesome voice. I'm not sure which of the two ladies it is (Kristine Ryan or Gerrianne Raphael) but her voice reminds me a lot of this actress so that is what I kind of picture Eve looking like:
That's Eva Green who was born and raised in Paris so great pick for all the beautiful French words and accent in the story!

The short chapters work VERY well in the audio version because it feels like time is passing so quickly while listening and I don't get as distracted as easily.  Perfect.

3. The Lantern is a book filled with descriptions of scents. How are you liking (or disliking) that aspect of the book? How do you feel about the lavish description of scents? How are the short chapters working for you?

I think this has to be my absolute favorite part of the book (aside from the lovely narrators).  The scents are amazing! I actually told my husband (and he agrees) that our future plans for our backyard should be Provincial themed.  Grapes, lavender, rosemary, citrus fruit, sunflowers, etc.  Here's the grape vine we already have growing thanks to our neighbors who replaced it in favor of an olive tree:

I can not wait to do some planning for next year. It's a challenge growing anything in Las Vegas but this book inspired me to want our backyard to smell like this book.  Odd thing to say but there it is.

4. How would you describe the atmosphere of Parts 1 and 2 of The Lantern?

I think Part 1 had a slow build - a languor about it. Sleepy summery feel. Definitely not what you'd expect Gothic to be which I always feel is cold and dreary.  But it really starts to pick up the creepy Gothic feeling in Part 2.  Beautiful writing.

5. Has anything surprised you to this point? Anything stand out?

While I've read that some people had to warm up to Eve...I loved her from the very beginning.  She's a reader. A writer. Able to just amuse herself for hours with a good book or just working quietly on the house. I don't find her quick involvement with Dom very surprising at all.  I feel that's how I am.  You don't find connections with people all that much but when you do - you know it and just jump right in.  I also didn't find the seclusion odd. I'm not sure I'd like it forever, but a beautiful house I have ooodles of money to restore and just read and play in the garden....seems like paradise to me! The main creepiness of the story, I feel, has pretty much all to do with Benedicte's story.  Pierre! I find him already an insanely horrible character.   

Almost forgot to add!!! At the beginning of the book - Dom and Eve seem to be hiding out. It starts the story very ominously and I kept imagining the time period being pre-WWI or pre-WWII.  In reality it is present day which almost threw me but then I loved because what is it about the writing that makes it seems so old-timey or instant classic feel to it. 

6. What are your feelings about Dom in these first two sections of the story?

I liked Dom.  I am surprised that I don't find him odd or creepy.  The only bizarre thing is that we don't really know Eve's real name.  Her name doesn't come up all that often (as narrator that isn't surprising) but I wonder if I'd just let someone call me some random name that wasn't mine.  Perhaps her name is similar??

Bonus question: Did anyone else hear “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” ringing in their ears through the first sections of the book?

Oh definitely!  But in a good way! I don't think she stole the idea from Rebecca or it's TOO much like it or not enough like it.  I was expecting this comparison and it seems like it was the author's intent to be a bit like Rebecca.  I love love Rebecca the book and the movie so it's wonderful that I don't think any less of The Lantern at all.  The only problem is that I am not wary of Dom like I'd probably be without Rebecca because I have read and seen Rebecca.

Some Read-a-long People:

Stainless Steel Droppings
Capricious Reader
Estella's Revenge
Check out more at the end of Carl's post

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss

Title: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles Day 1)
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Audio: narrated by Nick Podehl
Published date: May 2009 (first published March 2007)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio (27 hours, 54 minutes)
FTC: library audio rental

I can't remember where I first heard about Patrick Rothfuss' book The Name of the Wind.  Isn't the cover just gorgeous?  I know that I definitely saw Carl's post at Stainless Steel Droppings.  I thought I read something over at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist but I can't find it.  Go over there for some awesome Sci-Fi/Fantasy titles to add to your to-read lists.  Anyway, my brother also works part-time at a bookstore so we were discussing this book the other day.  I figured, while in the fantasy genre, The Name of the Wind would probably be a good fit for the R.I.P. VI Challenge.  So I checked it out at the library as an e-audio rental.

The Synopsis:

Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

My Thoughts:

I find reviewed audio books SO hard.  I have such a different perspective when I listen to a book than when I read it.  I had a lot of cleaning in the house to catch up on and family coming in to town so I decided that a 27+ hour audio book would do the trick.  You read that right.  That's a LOT of audio book.  So I'm going to do my break down of what I liked and what I didn't.

The Good:

You can't deny that Patrick Rothfuss can write - or more aptly is a brilliant story-teller.  The story starts out in a darkly lit bar reminiscent of olden days when people came in on horse and ordered a mug of cider and some gruel.  Anyway.  Something is going on.  Days being what they are, it isn't safe to be traveling alone...or at all.  The modern cover of the book with the wind/storm setting is just perfect.  You want to curl up by a fireplace and absorb the story.  Kvothe (pronounced Kote) is telling his story to a chronicler who's only job is to write down the story.  What a story.

The audio narrator, Nick Podehl, is awesome.  He is so good I Googled him to see what else he's done.  There's some narrators who lose my attention, are distracting, or I just get lost in their accent or pronunciation.  Not so with Mr Podehl.  He kept my attention the entire 27+ hours.  Very well done.

The uniqueness of the tale.  I've read some sci-fi/fantasy stuff and don't let anyone tell you this is like Harry Potter for adults or blah blah blah.  This story is good enough to stand on its own and leave it at that.

The Bad:

I'll be honest.  The length is intimidating and sometimes unnecessary.  Yes it's a great story but seriously - do I want to invest 27+ hours or 662 pages on just the FIRST book of the series?  I mean the whole story ends book one after his first year in school.  There was a HUGE section of Kvothe living as a street urchin after he lost his parents that I almost lost interest.  Perhaps some editing or abridging may be necessary.  Also, listening to the audio brings a different perspective and sometimes I'd hear the same phrase a few minutes later.  Ok ok I get it.

Kvothe.  Ok.  He's a great character but since he IS the one narrating his own story he CAN come across as a bit big-headed.  There are a few times he uses the "I doubt you'd understand" if you've never (insert his accomplishments here - playing music instrument, been in a dark cave, etc.) which irked me.  Don't tell me I'd probably not grasp how amazing it feels to be you.  Silly I know but it bothered me.

Kvothe's love interest Denna.  She was kind of irritating.  Such a player and always on the look out for a wealthy "patron/benefactor" that I couldn't help think she was a bit of a "lady of the night" kind of girl. 

Interesting notes:

I had no clue that this book originally was published in 2007 (check wiki page) and had this cover:

Yeah.  Kvothe has red hair - so I'll give it that - but while I'd pick up the new version with the cool cover, I'd probably NEVER have picked up this book.

Also, book two just came out called The Wise Man's Fear.

While I'd love to continue the story, at the hardcover's 994 pages, I'm not sure when I'll get around to it.  You can read an excerpt over at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist.

I almost forgot to add - Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles are on NPR's Top 100 Sci-Fi/Fantasy so I can say I've read some of this series now.  

Did this book fit in with the RIP VI Challenge requirements?  I think so!  It fit the "dark fantasy" requirements and a perfect Autumn read.

While searching for other reviews, I found this alternate cover.  What do you think?

Also reviewed by:

Stainless Steel Droppings
Entomology of a Bookworm
Capricious Reader
Where Trouble Melts Like Lemon Drops
Library Queue
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist (Shawn Speakman video interview w/ Patrick Rothfuss)
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist (Jim Butcher video interview w/ Patrick Rothfuss)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Falling Together - Marisa de los Santos

Title: Falling Together
Author: Marisa de los Santos
Advanced Reader's Edition: 358 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published date: October 4, 2011
FTC: received from publisher

I can truly say that I love Marisa de los Santos' books.  I've read Belong to Me (my review) and have been meaning to read her first book Love Walked In.  So when I saw that Book Club Girl was doing a live chat on October 5th, I asked to read and review her book.  If you've never read her books, I'd strongly suggest picking one up.  Isn't the cover gorgeous?

By the way, Falling Together is out as of today so check it out! I saw that Shelf Awareness Maximum is talking about her today as well so head over there to check it out.

Back of the book:

What would you do if an old friend needed you, but it meant turning your new life upside down? 

Pen, Will, and Cat met during the first week of their first year of college and struck up a remarkable friendship, one that sustained them and shaped them for years - until it ended abruptly, and they went their separate ways. Now, six years later, Pen is the single mother of a five-year-old girl, living with her older brother in Philadelphia and trying to make peace with the sudden death of her father. Even though she feels deserted by Will and Cat, she has never stopped wanting them back in her life, so when she receives an email from a desperate-sounding Cat asking her to meet her at their upcoming college reunion, Pen goes. What happens there sends past and present colliding and sends Pen and her friends on a journey across the world, a journey that will change everything.

My thoughts: 

I could never quite grasp just why I adore Marisa de los Santos' novels.  I'm not a huge chick-lit reader.  The stories are never insanely crazy unique...but there is something I adore.  While reading Shelf Awareness Maximum today and reading an interview with Marisa, I found out that she originally studied, wrote, and published poetry before she wrote novels.  That's it!! Her writing is just so beautiful.  I picked this book up and seriously read it in two days.  Sometimes I would read out loud to my little guy while he was on his play mat and her words just rolled off the page like poetry.  I see why now!

The other thing about Falling Together that I loved is that the main characters take a trip to Cebu City, Philippines.  Before reading this book, I never knew that Marisa de los Santos was part Filipino and travels there from time to time.  She mentioned in the interview that she hopes the book makes people want to go there.  O yeah it does.  The sounds, fragrances, food!!!  Mmmm.  Head over to the interview for a recipe for Puto Mayo with Mangoes.

Check out Marisa de los Santos on Facebook, her website, and head over to Book Club Girl on Blog Talk Radio tomorrow for the show at 7 PM EST.  

Also Reviewed by:

S. Krishna's Books
Booking Mama