Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne

So, with the craziness of everything, December has been a bad month for blogging for me. Sorry! Anyhow, I know it's already after Christmas, but I'm still in the Christmas spirit, and since I didn't get the opportunity to post at least one Christmas review before Christmas, it's happening now. Enjoy!

Title: The Paper Bag Christmas

Author: Kevin Alan Milne


Who Should Read It?
All lovers of Christmas! This story is adorable, heart-warming, and Christmas perfect!

What I Have to Say:
This is one of those stories that is meant to be read while holding a steaming mug of hot chocolate and curled up on a comfortable couch in front of the fireplace.

Mo(lar) and Aaron Alan are two ordinary boys who, thanks to a little trick played by their father, which starts with them deflating the legs of an apparently legless father and ends with them volunteering in the children's ward of a hospital for the Christmas season, have the opportunity to experience their first "real" Christmas at a very young age. They learn to see past the commercialization (don't we all need to do that) and discover the true spirit of Christmas, of giving, of love, and of acceptance.

Both Alan and Molar are charged with befriending some of the more difficult patients, and their charges end up touching their lives in an extraordinary way, as was forseen by Dr. Ringle. Dr. Ringle is the doctor in the children's ward, and if you ask me, there's no doubt in my mind that he's the real Santa Clause. What's so beautiful about this story, though, is that as the children grow and begin to learn the true spirit of Christmas, they help the patients learn to accept their terminal illnesses and see that, no matter what your position in life, friendship is priceless.

It's hard to say more about the book than that without giving anything away. This is a short, cute book that really helps the reader to remember the importance of Christmas and the joy of giving while expecting nothing in return. It reminds us, as cheesy as this is to say, of the true Spirit of Christmas. If you love Christmas, read this - I promise you won't be disappointed.

Summary:Dr. Christopher Ringle is the last person you'd expect to find moonlighting as Santa Claus at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. But it is there that he meets a young man named Molar Alan, who desperately needs a new perspective on the underlying value of Christmas. Dr. Ringle recruits Mo and his older brother as volunteers at a nearby children's hospital for the holiday season. At the hospital, Mo is tasked to help bring holiday cheer to the young cancer patients on the fifth floor. His biggest challenge is befriending a decidedly angry girl who is so embarrassed by her scarred appearance that she hides her face behind the safety of a paper bag. Almost in spite of himself, Mo finds that Christmas joy emanates from a source far greater than the North Pole, while the young girl learns that she is more beautiful than she had ever imagined.

Cover Story: The cover of the book that I read, which is the small Amazon one by the summary, is adorable. It's so Christmasy and wonderful and fits the book perfectly. The other one I find to be a bit plain.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Shadow of the Sun (Timeless #1) by Laura Kreitzer

Title: Shadow of the Sun (Timeless #1)

Author: Laura Kreitzer


Who Should Read It?
This is a great book for those that love teen fantasy about angels. It's creatively written and filled with new, interesting ideas about well-known supernatural beings!

What I Have to Say:
I'm going to be totally honest - over 100 pages in, and I was STILL thinking that I wasn't going to like this book. The writing seemed wordy and unprofessional, the story seemed underdeveloped while at the same time seeming overly detailed, and the characters and plot held no interest for me. I didn't like the characters, and I especially didn't like the writing style. I genuinely believed that this book had no way of redeeming itself.

And then something clicked. I don't know what happened, but suddenly everything fell into place, and I just couldn't get enough of Shadow of the Sun. It took me nearly two weeks to read the first 100 pages, and then I polished off the last 300 in about 3 days. While, stylistically, the book never became something to rave about, the author did seem to finally fall into her groove. And the story of Gabriella, a lab technician researching the supernatural, and the angels she discovers, became fast-paced, exciting, and somewhat twisted. Gabriella is strong, strong-willed, extraordinarily intelligent, and fierce, and I couldn't help but get the feeling that the author put a lot of herself into her. The romance between her and Andrew was steamy and fabulous (and there were times when I was very thankful to Kreitzer for not going into more detail), even if Andrew did slightly frustrate me sometimes.

In Shadow of the Sun, Kreitzer has composed an extraordinarily creative, well-though out (although there was one thing that happened that seemed to slightly contradict itself about which I'd be interested in asking the author) work of teen fantasy. It's light and fun and twisted, and when I was finally able to get into it, I couldn't wait to figure out what would happen next.

So, while this book does start off somewhat slow, if you can stick it out, it does pick up and become absolutely worth it, if you're into teen fantasy involving angels.

Summary:Gabriella's past is a mystery, but that never stopped her from achieving her goals. As a supernatural specialist, and far more intelligent than anyone her age, she has always been ignored by her peers. Because of the isolation she has always felt, she put her life and soul into her job. Being a supernatural specialist hasn't given her the divine intervention she always longed for, until one day a shipment arrives from Italy containing three dead bodies with an uncanny ability to regenerate. Gabriella is frightened and intrigued, but not as scared as she becomes when a dark creature attacks her.
As the bodies come back to life, the plot takes an unexpected twist that you won't see coming. The supernatural world only begins to unfold before her as angels appear, her dreams start to haunt her, and the very past she has forgotten comes back with startling clarity. Romance blooms, escape plans are made, an assassin is out to kill her, and death is only around the corner. But what is more terrifying than all of it is the fact she is the chosen one, the Illuminator, the one who will save them all.

Cover Story: This cover is absolutely stunning and amazing. Everytime I look at it, I want to read the book again!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by the author. This in no way affected my review.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Arriving Home and Secret Santa

So, as sometimes happens, I completely disappeared from the blogging world last week, and for this, I am sorry. It was the last week of classes before break, and I found myself actually STUDYING for the huge test that I had Wednesday. And then there was a mad rush to say goodbye to everyone and get my things together to come home for Christmas.

Now I am in Louisiana (arrived yesterday afternoon) and jet-lagged to the extreme. But I am excited to be home and to get to spend Christmas with the family.
I'll be a little bit here and there and everywhere over the next month before I head back to Japan, but I'm going to do my best to keep the blog updated and check out all of your blogs as much as possible.

In other news, before I left, I was SO excited to receive a fabulous present from my Secret Santa!
The chocolates and the teddy grahams were vegan (yay!!!!), and they were all devoured on the plane ride home.
My secret santa herself ended up being not so secret, which I was quite happy about. Because that means I can say a HUGE thank you to Simcha of SFF Chat. Thank you, Simcha!
It's especially nice because I feel like Simcha is already a friend, and so I was thrilled that she decided to pick out books not on my list that she thought I would like. I absolutely trust her taste, and the books she picked look FABULOUS! I can't wait to read them when I get back to Japan!
I also got some cute fairy pins, a beautiful bookmark, and an Israel towel. Oh, and a driedel, which I am super excited about, because I have always wanted one.

So yes, it was an asbolutely FABULOUS first gift of the year, and I am thrilled about it!

Now, I'm off to wrap presents, and hopefully you'll have some awesome reviews heading your way soon!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell

Title: Animal Farm

Author: George Orwell


Who Should Read It? EVERYONE! Seriously! It's witty and funny and brilliantly constructed. More than that, though, it's informative!

What I Have to Say:
Frankly, this book is frightening. And frighteningly awesome. I have vague memories of having read it way back when I was in junior high, but reading it again recently, I had no memories of the actual book itself, so this time around was basically like reading it the first time around. And boy am I glad I did decide to reread it.

So, it starts of seeming like, what is to me, a dream come true. The animals of Manor Farm decide to kick the human off the farm. I've always dreamed about something like this happening somewhere, to show humans that animals really do have feelings and the way we torture them on factory farms, raising them for food, is sickening. Unfortunately, from there it goes downhill (in terms of my dream of what would happen if this actually did happen in life), and what follows is a brilliantly master-minded story that gives us a unique look at the inner-workings of a socialist/communist society.

Sure, with the animals and all, it's fictional, but it's based on truth so much so that, were you to replace the animals with human animals, you would have communist Russia. Orwell's story is told in such a way that, even though you are reading something serious and important, you are absolutely hooked from line one, and you won't want to put it down until you know what happens to the animals of Manor/Animal Farm. Even though, if you know a little something about communism, you probably do.

I think it was absolutely fitting that Orwell used the guise of "pig" for the rulers of his farm. And the sheep, of course, were always the ones to blindly follow. It is scathingly critical in the funniest and most appropriate of ways. Despite the good intentions with which the farm is formed, we see how easily these intentions can change, and how readily the people in charge are willing to brainwash those "less intelligent" in order to gain a little more human comfort. It builds up in such a way, though, that it's almost as if those high up don't even realize what is happening.

Animal Farm is satire at its best, and I could go on for ages about how brilliantly Orwell has parodied communism and given all the best reasons it won't work, but the fact is, the book is short and wonderful, so I think it's best for you to just read it for yourself. So do it! Now! :-)

Summary: Having got rid of their human master, the animals of Manor Farm look forward to a life of freedom and plenty. But as a clever, ruthless elite among them takes control, the other animals find themselves hopelessly ensnared in the old ways. Orwell's chilling story of the betrayal of idealism through tyranny and corruption, is as fresh and relevant today as when it was first published in 1945.

Cover Story: There are a bagazillion different covers to this book, but I'm particularly partial to the cover of the one I recently read, which can be seen at the top. I love the creepy pig with the barbed wire and the pipe!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Things I Love As Much as Books (15)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

I think I've posted about them before, but An Cafe. Just An Cafe. I absolutely love them as much as books. Maybe more. I am SO devestated that, for the time being, they are disbanded, and I'm just glad I had the opportunity to see them live before that happened.

Is the singer, Miku, not just the prettiest man you have ever seen?
Love love love love LOVE!

And that's all for this week!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

Title: The Tapestry of Love

Author: Rosy Thornton

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? The writing is beautiful, and the descriptions are lovely, so if that's what you need to love a book, check this one out. Especially if you love France!

What I Have to Say:
I've got to be honest - it took me AGES to get into this book. A book like this, I should normally read in three days, and this took me three weeks. I just literally NEVER thought about it when I wasn't reading it, and I could never bring myself to sit still for long enough to ever truly get into it. I never grew to care about the characters, and the intrigue was hard for me to find. I don't know if it was the book's problem or if it was my problem.

In any case, I finally managed to control my jumpy urges and read the last 100 pages in one sitting, and, overall impression, despite the fact that I never really GOT INTO it, persay, I liked it. The intrigue did finally pick up a little bit towards the end, and I was finally able to find a plot. It was quite touching, and while the relationship never felt real to me, and the man in question was not one I would care to know and certainly did not like, it was still quite lovely.

Catherine Parkinson has just sold her old home in England and packed up and moved to rural France, where she plans to start a business as a needle woman. It has its poignant, funny moments, and the occasional moment that is so disturbing I almost wish I would have skipped on reading it. It was pleasantly written with beautiful descriptions that left me with an overwhelming desire to visit Southern France the next time I make my way to France. Thornton really does have a way with descriptions, and her writing style is such that, even though I didn't really love this book, I won't hesitate to read others of her books.

Summary: A rural idyll: that's what Catherine is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cévennes mountains. With her divorce in the past and her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and her dream is to set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you're no longer just here on holiday. There is French bureaucracy to contend with, not to mention the mountain weather, and the reserve of her neighbors, including the intriguing Patrick Castagnol. And that's before the arrival of Catherine's sister, Bryony

Cover Story: It's cute, and it fits the book well. I especially love the baguettes in front of the door. Mmmmmmiem, baguettes! Yum!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by the author. This in no way affected my review.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nihon No Kinyoubi (16)

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a weekly (or at least I try to make it weekly, though mostly I fail) feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

So, the Japanese have a thing for watching leaves fall off of trees. Or rather, for just looking at things in trees. In the spring, you have お花見(ohanami), which is when they sit and picnic under the most beautiful cherry blossom trees. Frankly, they are AMAZING!

And in the fall, they have こうよう(kouyou) or もみじ(momiji), which is when they go and look at the changing of the colors of leaves. And frankly, it is beautiful! I went last weekend to a place that is known for its beauty this time of year, and I thought I'd share a picture or two with you guys.

It was really really amazingly beautiful, and if you're interested in seeing more pictures or hearing more about it, I'll be writing in more detail soon in my personal blog, Brizmus Around the World, so be sure to check it out!

Happy Japanese Friday!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review: Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Title: The Gargoyle

Author: Andrew Davidson


Who Should Read It? This book is not for the faint of heart; it's definitely got it's extremes and does occasionally suffer from over-descriptiveness of things that you don't necessarily want to hear about, but it was SO GOOD that it's hard for me not to rant and rave that everyone over the age of 16 should read it! Except that I know that there are people that would hate it; that will need more character build up and less excruciatingly detailed descriptions of random, bizarre things.

What I Have to Say:
This book was AMAZING! Think Chuck Palahniuk meets Neil Gaiman with a little less crazy and a little less fantasy, and you've got yourself "The Gargoyle" by Andrew Davidson. This book is seriously one of the most creative, beautifully well-written, masterpieces that I have ever read. It literally felt constructed, which is not normally something I think about a book. And written down it almost sounds like a bad thing, but let me assure you, it is a perfect thing. It slowly builds up on itself until you are so interested and intrigued and "into it" that you can barely contain yourself and you just HAVE to keep reading. And then you do, and when you're done, all of guts have come together and made this elaborate, elaborately interesting, beautiful. . .well, masterpiece.

The book starts off with the description of a drugged out supposedly beautiful man suffering from a severe burn. I now know more about burns and burn victims than any non-burn victim ever should, and while it was slightly disturbing, I knew from the way Davidson had me mesmerized with his story of how a burn victim must change his bandages that I was going to love this book.

Enough with all of the descriptions, though. The Gargoyle, in essence, is a love story that dates back in time thousands of years. It is a story of love that knows no reason and has no meaning and yet has managed to survive the ages. Marianne, a sculptor of gargoyles, shows up in burn victim's room one days and claims that they know each other, and through a series of beautifully written, self-contained back stories, we come to know just how they know each other and just how long they have known each other. Even though burn victim never quite grows to believe, it didn't take me long to be convinced.

I loved the back stories just as much as the regular story, and I would look forward to them probably just as much as burn victim did. The tale of Marianne and burn victim is unusual, but it's got nothing on some of the old stories she tells. I want to say more, but I don't want to give away anything of what makes this book so unique and fascinating. I will just say that I absolutely adored the way that Marianne's work sculpting gargoyles paralleled the work that she did on burn victim through her crazy presence and even crazier stories.

I also loved the way Japanese and Japanese culture found its way unexpectedly into the book. I won't say more about it, because it was such a nice surprise for me, and I would love for it to be a nice surprise for everyone else as well.

The ONLY problem I had with this book was the lack of dimension in the characters. Marianne was totally off the wall, and yet everything she did could have been predicted. Burn victim grew a lot throughout the story, but at the same time I don't feel like he became a bigger person, and I don't really think he had much depth to him. This didn't stop me from loving them both, and I actually didn't even notice this until AFTER I finished reading, but they both seemed to be severely lacking in depth and dimension. And I could see how that might bother some readers.

All in all, though, a fabulous 5-star read, and if you're looking for something different with a twist, this just might be the book for you. I know as soon as I get back to a place where I can have bookshelves, it will make its way immediately to my shelf of favorites.

Summary: "The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide - for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul." A beautiful and compelling, put clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life - and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne's care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete - and her time on earth will be finished

Cover Story: This book has several covers, and to be honest, I love them all and feel like they all fit the book perfectly. My absolute favorite, though, is the cover of the one that I actually read. The burning heart with gargoyle is perfect, the pages are lined with black, which is more than suitable, and the way all of the arrows manage to miss the heart - superb!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things I Love As Much as Books (14)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

Simcha from SFF Chat has also started participating in this weekly feature, so be sure to check out what SFF Chat loves as much as books!

Before anything else, let me just apologize for being so absent from the blogging world lately. I have been so lately that I've barely even had time to breathe. I was also sick and being forced to keep moving despite that. Literally every second I have spent in my apartment over the past week or two has been either bathing, sleeping, or preparing to sleep. I have even been reading the same book for the past two weeks. Crazy.

Anyhow, on to the good stuff.
This week, what I love as much as books is

It makes me sad that, from what I can tell, it really does seem to just be an American phenomenon. I mean, after all, the stuff is DELICIOUS! I have been out of cereal and grits and oatmeal and any other appropriate breakfast food lately,
and I find that I have just been eating spoonfuls of peanut butter (that my sister sent me in a care package!) for breakfast.
And it is DELICIOUS!

I wish that peanut butter were less expensive here, because I have been hardcore craving some African Ground Nut Soup, also known as peanut soup. This stuff is delicious, and if you've never had it before, it's absolutely worth trying! I cook it without sugar and chives and with a ground up real tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, and it is PERFECT!

So yeah, peanut butter! Rock!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Immortal by Gillian Shields

Title: Immortal

Author: Gillian Shields

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? This is a great book for people who really appreciate paranormal YA. While it's lacking in anything spectacular, it's still a fun read, and I think un-biased, non-critical lovers of the genre could love it.

What I Have to Say:
For all practical purposes, this SHOULD have been a book I loved. It involved boarding school and magic, a combination which can almost never go wrong with me. And so it's not surprising that I really did enjoy reading this book.
What is surprising, though, is that, despite having enjoyed reading it, I have nothing really GOOD to say about it. All in all, this book left me utterly unimpressed.
To the point in which I had actually forgotten that I read it (less than a month after reading it) and started reading it again only to realize that yes, I had already read it.

Interesting circumstances land Evie in Wildclyffe Academy for girls, and we know immediately upon her arrival, via the boy on horseback she meets in the rain, that things are going to remain interesting. For Evie. Because, for the reader, they've probably figured out all of the important elements of the plot by the end of the second chapter and will be less than interested. And the writing, as well as the characters were, unfortunately unable to redeem. The romance also seemed unreal and even slightly ridiculous to me, which is never a good sign.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't BAD. . . and some of the descriptions were even downright creepy. It was just lacking in that enticing, suspenseful plotline without which books of this genre absolutely cannot survive.

My favorite thing about the book happened towards the end, when we started getting to read every other chapter diary entries from an old, dead relative of Evie. I really enjoyed the way the diary was written and the way it paralleled what was going on in the other story, and I think the author did a great job of simultaneously writing from the two perspectives.

So, what it comes down to is that this is a book that you might enjoy reading but that is seriously lacking in intrigue and will leave you completely unmarked and unimpressed. If you've got some free time and nothing else to read, this book could be good filler.

Summary: Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.

Evie's only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie's feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.

Gillian Shields's electrifying tale will dazzle readers with suspense, mysticism, and romance.

Cover Story: I actually really love this cover. I think it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! The water and the pendant and that beautiful blue color. . .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert

Title: I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

Author: Stephanie Kuehnert


Who Should Read It? Great book for those who like real books about real teens (with an odd little step up), or especially those who went through a punk rock or rebellious stage in their teenage years. I would say that it's not for the younger teen reader, because of how much it deals with sex and drugs, but really I think that's for the younger reader (and their parents) to decide - as I think that's part of the point of the book: it's never too early to start being screwed up.

What I Have to Say: Gritty. Raw. Real. This book, just like it's theme, is punk rock. As a lover of punk rock for as long as I can remember, I have very structured opinions about the music and the scene, and there are things I hate about it and things I love about it. In "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone," Kuehnert doesn't gloss over the bad to focus on the good. She gets right down to the meaty heart of the matter and spits it in your face like a true punk rocker. This book may be YA, but make no mistake, it is NOT light reading.

There is no sugar coating and no trying to make life easy, and it makes it very clear that, even for those people who might have a foot already in the door (like, say, because they are awesome at guitar and capable of writing amazing songs), this in no way means that things will always be easy for them. Life is hard, and some people deal with it well, and some people don't, and Emily Black is one of those special people that does both simultaneously. She is a believable and crazy and sane and everything that I don't like about punk rock while at the same time being completely lovable.

And I did love her, for the most part, even though I sometimes wanted to shake her and force her to make what I thought were the right choices. But then, that's one of the major things that this book is about - making the wrong choices and still managing to end up in almost the right place. I don't know a single person that has consistently, throughout life, only made the "right" choices, and yet if we persevere, most of us end up okay. That's what's important - that we keep on going and making an effort, and, most importantly, that through it all, we stay true to ourselves. It's harder than one might think, as Emily Black's story proves.

This book was fast-paced, exciting, and scary, and I highly recommend it to anyone. Kuehnert should be commended for the honesty with which she broaches such a screwed up normal world. I loved this book!

Summary: The Clash. Social Distortion. Dead Kennedys. Patti Smith. The Ramones.

Punk rock is in Emily Black's blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the incendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Now Emily's all grown up with a punk band of her own, determined to find the tune that will bring her mother home. Because if Louisa really is following the music, shouldn't it lead her right back to Emily?

Cover Story: I can't even express how much I love it! It's perfect!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Things I Love As Much as Books (13)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

Simcha from SFF Chat has also started participating in this weekly feature, so be sure to check out what SFF Chat loves as much as books!

So I don't know if these week's thing I love can actually count, as it's sort-of, well, a series of books.
Schaum's Outlines, to be specific.
Have you guys heard of them? The Wikipedia site says that they are supplemental texts for high school, but I assure you, some of these are actually super advanced. I actually used the Linear Algebra and Complex Variables ones as supplements to advanced math classes in college, and they were super helpful. If I'm not mistaken, there's even a Schaum's outline for Algebraic Topology to be used in graduate classes.

I love these things - the explanations are fun and easy, the problems are doable and well-explained, and where other math books go all crazy trying to confuse you, Schaum's Outlines mostly straightforwardly tell you what's what.
Don't be afraid by all those mathy titles, though, as there are really Schaum's Outlines for everything! The one I'm thinking of buying the one for Japanese grammar, for if the grammar ones are anywhere near as awesome as the math ones, it's going to be totally helpful! Maybe the one for Japanese vocabulary, too.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: Shadowmarch by Tad Williams

Title: Shadowmarch

Author: Tad Williams


Who Should Read It? This is epic fantasy at it's absolute best, but I should also warn you: it is DARK. So if you're not a huge fan of dark epic fantasy, this might not be for you. If you don't mind a little dark, though, I really can't see how you will be disappointed.

What I Have to Say:
Lately, I have been rediscovering epic fantasy, and I don't know how, but I seem to pick only the most amazing books with which to rediscover it. Because that is exactly what Shadowmarch is. Amazing. Tad Williams has constructed a creative, intelligent, solid piece of dark epic fantasy, and I'm a fan

What I most liked about Shadowmarch is that it is far more than just an epic fantasy. It is full of complexities. He takes familiar ideas and familiar things and turns them into SO much more - making you wonder why any other author would ever even try with similar ideas. Tad Williams has already done it and done it so well that it seems there's no point. (though I will admit: there were some things reminiscent of the Fraggles and the Borrowers, and I would be dreadfully sad if those didn't exist). It starts off so easily that, despite the length, you'll be halfway through before you know it and wondering where all the time went. I recently reviewed Acacia by David Anthony Durham, and in that book I was impressed with the parallels to the different countries we find in our world today; they were obivous without seeming forced or lacking in creativity. While, in Shadowmarch, the parallels to our world seemed to focus more on already dead civilizations, I was even more impressed with Tad William's way of making his story seem relevant while still allowing it to remain 100% fantasy.

I feel like I could turn this review into something almost as long as the book itself, but it seems kind of pointless as I gather it has already been done a thousand times before, and it would just give away too much. I almost think it is best to go into this book blind for ultimate enjoyment. So, to finish, there was just one small thing that I didn't love about the book, and that was that, with one minor exception, I didn't actually connect to any of the characters. They all seemed like they were only STARTING to be developed, and, since the book was so long, it seems like it could have taken a bit more time to help us empathize with the characters. But then, there are more books to the series, and I'm figuring by the end, I will either love or hate all of them. BEcause of this, though, it does occasionally feel SLIGHTLY slow moving towards the middle.

Shadowmarch is one powerful bang of a book, and fans of dark epic fantasy will absolutely NOT be disappointed. This book is definitely worth the time it takes to read it and more! If you know my reviews, you know that I don't give 5 stars lightly, and this book is definitely worth all 5 of them!

Summary: Shadowmarch has lately fallen on hard times. Its king has been captured by a rival kingdom, the regent has been mysteriously slain, and the new regents are callow fifteen-year-olds. Moody, crippled Prince Barrick is uninterested in their responsibilities and haunted by eerie dreams. His twin, Princess Briony, takes their new duties seriously, but is hot-tempered and headstrong. How can they defeat the greatest threats in Shadowmarch history? Their nobles plot to overthrow them--and the plotters may include their pregnant stepmother, seeking the throne for her own child. The expanding empire of Xis has sent its agents into Shadowmarch. And, for the first time since it appeared centuries ago, the Shadowline has starting moving. As the maddening mist spreads south over Shadowmarch, it does not quite hide the powerful, uncanny, and vengeful Qar army of invasion

Cover Story: This is another case of me not having seen the cover before reading the book. I do love it, though. It goes nicely with the feel of the book, and I find it appealing enough that it would have made me want to read it beforehand. The only problem is the slight cartoony feel which doesn't mesh at all.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Title: Nightshade

Author: Andrea Cremer

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? A great read for lovers of YA and lovers of dystopian fiction with big imaginations and an enjoyment of the paranormal.

What I Have to Say:
Nightshade was one whopping surprise of a book for me! I expected to like it, sure, but I never expected to LOVE it, and I certainly never expected it to make me think (even if only a little bit).

It started off slowly, which, as those that know my reading tastes will know, means that this book was right up my alley. I love books that start off lacking in action, instead full of explanations, story set-up, and character build-up. And that's exactly what this book had. Cremer didn't feel like she needed to pull her reader in with non-stop action, because the story and background was enticing enough in and of itself.

And thus, far before the intrigue started happening, I was intrigued. Because I wanted to know more about the background story, and I had come to love Cally's fierce alpha personality, Ren's over-arrogant, cocky self-assurance to cover up his lack of surety, and Shay's sexy, perfect-guy book lover persona. The rest of both of the packs, while being more background, had also come to be people I cared about. So, when action finally did start to happen, I was interested, and I cared about the outcome, because I cared about the people involved. I find that this is often not the case in books that start out action-packed.

The main thing made Nighshade so special, though, in my opinion, is that, though it is paranormal YA, it didn't have to be. There is SO much more to this book than meets the eye. The "werewolf" aspect definitely added some suspense and excitement to the book, but if werewolves would have been replaced with normal humans, it would have been just as amazing. I envisioned a world in which slaves exist and are brought up to believe that they are not slaves; a sort-of fantastic and fantastically horrifying dystopic future. While that's not what this book was, it easily could have been without changing anything else - same story, same plot, same characters, same intrigue. Just a different species. I feel like so many paranormal books rely far too much on the paranormal aspect to make things happen. This book doesn't, at all, and that just makes the paranormal seem like an added bonus, which is even better.

Overall, Nightshade was one well-written tight little story of, love, revenge, sacrifice, and betrayal; and while it could be read as your typical paranormal YA, if you let it take you deeper, and allow yourself to think about the ways a story like this could play out in the human world, it will leave you chilled to the bone. The ending is something to be commended, and I know I will be thrilled beyond belief when it finally comes time for the release of part two.

Summary: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Cover Story: I actually really like this cover, despite the firl being nothing at all like I would imagine. And the flower feeling wrong. It's quite lovely, though, and the purple is so appealing that, even though I think it's wrong for the book, I love it!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me via Shelf Awareness.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things I Love As Much as Books (13)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

One of those things that I love is writing. I've never been a real writer, and writing classes have always been the bane of my existence. I am a TERRIBLE essay writer, and I would totally have had a 4.0 in college if it hadn't been for those pesky little essay writing classes (oh, and that one Complex Variables class).
And yet, I have a journal that I have always kept regularly (though I will admit that I have been super slacking over the last two years), and for the past two years in a row, I have participated in, and won, NaNoWriMo.

The first year was an actual book that I actually finished and that I will probably never let anybody read. The second year was more a series of short stories about my life. There is no real start and no real end, and I am sure I will also never let anyone read that.

This year, I wasn't planning on participating, as I am living in Japan to learn Japanese, and I really should be focusing on that. Not to mention the fact that I have to work as well. A lot. Today, though, when I got home at around 10 PM, I was overwhelmed with the desire to participate. And so I started, and I am now at 2,284 words. A little behind where I should be, I think, but progress nonetheless.

So I will be participating. I'll still be posting regularly in the blog, but I'm sorry if I'm around a little bit less in the blogosphere than usual.

What about you guys? Will you be NaNoWriMo participating this year?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Title: A Wrinkle in Time

Author: Madeleine L'Engle


Who Should Read It? I think this will mostly appeal to 11-12 year old girls, but there's really something in it for everyone, so I think that boys and adults have the potential to enjoy it as well!

What I Have to Say: I read this book when I was about 12 years old, and I remember absolutely ADORING it! Recently, though, I have been reading reviews of it by people that reread it as adults and didn't love it nearly as much. I was horrified! These people must have grown up too much, I thought. And so I of course decided that I had to reread it to see for myself.

And I feel justified in my thought that these people must have grown up too much. Reading this book over again, I was once again filled with my initial sense of childish wonder. I was once again awed and inspired, and I once again fell in love the characters and places that L'Engle brings to life in this enchanting story. Meg's intelligence combined with her feelings of awkwardness and separateness resonated just as true with me now as it did then. Her desire to overcome this awkwardness without losing herself, and her ability to be strong through all of her travails, were even more inspiring to me now, as an adult (agh! Do I really have to call myself that?), I think, than they were when I was 11 or 12 years old and reading this.

Rereading it, I realized that there were so many things and ideas involved that I without a doubt missed the first time around. It appealed to my older person sensibilities as well as appealing to the child in me, as there is something for everyone contained in this little work. It combines fantasy with action with physics (or rather, time travel) with mystery with youth, and what comes out is just amazing and wonderful! I almost felt like it was a mixture of Flatland with the Borrowers and maybe throw in a little Harry Potter.

To be honest, I'm truly shocked to think that there are people that enjoyed this as a child that didn't enjoy it the second time around. There's a little something for everyone, and despite the intrigue being resolved in the end, it's got great re-readability potential! And now I'm excited to read the rest of this series, which I for some reason did not read when I was younger.

Summary: Meg's father mysteriously disappears after experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel. Determined to rescue him, Meg and her friends must outwit the forces of evil on a heart-stopping journey through space and time. A Newbery Medal winner.

Cover Story: There are so many different covers of this book that it's hard to really make a comment. The cover of the version I read, though, is absolutely amazing, with a beautiful centaur in front of a gorgeous purple sky, flying over amazing mountains. And then, of course, interesting geometrical shapes at the bottom. It encompasses everything that is good about this book.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Title: The Sky is Everywhere

Author: Jandy Nelson


Who Should Read It? EVERYONE! This book is beautiful and fluid and it will wrap itself around your heart.

What I Have to Say:
Words cannot express how utterly beautiful this book was. I would need a guitar. A whole band. And a singer with the voice of an angel. And even then that wouldn't be enough. All of the animals and trees and flowers would have to join in. The sky would have to join in. That's how beautiful this book was. How fluid and graceful and marvelous this book was.

I don't know if I really need to say anything else because what it comes down to is this: this book was good!

Lennie was charming and witty and intelligent and creative and completely and utterly screwed up. Life had sent a lot of crap her way, and while I wouldn't say that she took it in stride, what we ended up with was a beautiful mess. Life sent her a curve-ball, and she batted back in that quirky, unique way that only teenagers have mastered (and that they promptly forget when they reach 20). She digs herself in deeper and deeper until the only thing left to do is come out.
And the reader gets to be with her there the whole way through, digging with her. Nelson has crafted one unique human being with beautiful relationships and heartbreaking and heartwarming moments. I can't decide if I like Lenny best with her grandmother, her dead sister, her dead sister's boyfriend Toby, or Joe. Because all of the relationships are just perfect for what they are.

I will stop now. I could keep raving and glowing about this book for a long time, but I don't want to take away from the experience of actually reading it. I feel like I've probably already brought your expectations up to high. Just know this: this book was great, and you should read it.

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey
dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in
town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

Cover Story: I love this cover, and I think it is incredibly appropriate for this book. I love the beauty and the colors and how it makes me feel the exact same way that the book made me feel!

I reviewed this book as a part of the International Book Tours ARC review program. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (22)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

This week, I am waiting (very impatiently) on

Abandon by Meg Cabot

*This picture was borrowed without permission from Meg Cabot's web site.*

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Release Date: April 2011

Summary: hen Pierce first sees him, she thinks he is a murderer. She's right about one thing -- he does take lives. But not in the way she ever imagined. Pierce is drawn to the dark stranger even as she tries to uncover the mystery surrounding the tragic death of someone close to her. As she gets closer to the truth -- and the stranger -- unexpected secrets are revealed, even in her own heart.

It's Meg Cabot. I don't think I need any further justification for waiting with bated breath for the release of this book!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Things I Love As Much as Books (12)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

So, this week I have a fairly odd love about which I want to write.
It's odd for many reasons, one of which being that it's a food that's not even on my top ten list of favorite foods.
And yet, I ADORE it.
And for a food that's not up in my favorites, I sure do spend a lot of time thinking about it and salivating over it. And eating it, of course.

What is this mystery food, you wonder?


This stuff is delicious. And plus, it's super healthy and super versatile. It's a complete protein, which is fabulous for vegans like me (mostly when it comes to answering the question "Where do you get your protein?"), it's high in fiber, magnesium (keep your heart healthy and keep those good enzymes working), riboflavin (which theoretically helps to detoxify the liver), it helps maintain good cholesterol, and it can help stabilize your blood sugar.

Really, though, it's just delicious. It's got the perfect texture, and mixed with a little curry, lime, and coconut milk, it is absolutely divine. It's got it's own wonderful flavor, but it also picks up the flavors of foods super easily (kinda like tofu), so it's really the perfect food to cook with.

Not convinced? Try some for yourself.
I know I had my tempeh for dinner tonight!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Title: Foundation

Author: Isaac Asimov


Who Should Read It? all lovers of science fiction

What I Have to Say:
Foundation is a reread for me (I read it way back when I was in high school), and to be honest, I can't decide if I liked it more then or if I liked it more now. Which probably means that I felt the same way about it both times.
Which is that it is a well-written, intriguing work of thoughtful science fiction.
When it comes down to it, Foundation is the type of science fiction that I SHOULD love. It takes place in a believable, scary future, Earth isn't remembered or maybe doesn't even exist, the entire galaxy is populated, and there are lots of cool future gadgets. More than that, it is filled with intelligent people who have to think in interesting, convoluted ways to make the things that happen happen. It even starts off with a mathematician - brilliance!

And that is why I DID love this book - I loved trying to figure out how the people were going to think or how they were thinking and what conclusions this would lead them to. It was like a mystery, but one in which you just have to unravel intelligence. The narrative flows beautifully, and the plot is just complex enough to keep you exited and thinking without feeling like Asimov was trying too hard.

When it comes down to it, Foundation really is the perfect science fiction novel, and it's no wonder that it won the Hugo and was named "Best Science Fiction Series of All Time."

But (you knew there was a but coming), I'm not the hugest fan of short stories, and Foundation is, essentially, a series of short stories. Granted, the short stories are so well-linked that you sometimes forget, but when it comes down to it, each chapter is a new story. In each chapter, at least 50 years have passed since the last one, entirely new characters are introduced, and the old ones, for the most part, are rarely mentioned again. The thing linking them is Harri Seldon and the Foundation that he created. It is because of this that, even though I loved it, I can't say that I LOVED it.

Still, Foundation is one tight piece of work, and I would recommend it to any and all lovers of science fiction. I mean, when it comes to science fiction, this is it! And I know I'll be rereading the others in the series as well!

Summary: For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire had ruled supreme. Now it is dying a slow death from entropy and corruption. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future - a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare. Knowledge will decay and order will vanish. Interstellar wars will be endless; interstellar trade will come to a halt. Populations will suffer catastrophic declines and worlds will lose touch with the main body of the Galaxy." "So to preserve the accumulated wisdom of the ages and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire - both scientists and scholars - and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation." But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice. They can either submit to the barbarians and live as slaves - or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.

Cover Story: Frankly, not a fan. It seems plain and slightly boring even for this book. And the color? Hideous! So not my thing!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nihon No Kinyoubi (15) Review: Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a weekly feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

This week I thought I would treat you guys to a review of a book of Japanese stories that I absolutely loved! Since it's close to Halloween, I think it's especially appropriate!!

Title: Kwaidan

Author: Lafcadio Hearn

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? This is a fabulous book for anyone interested in ghost stories or Japan!

What I Have to Say:
Kwaidan is a beautiful selection of Japanese ghost stories; some of them are horrifying, some of them are touching, and all of them provide an intricate look into the many subtleties that make up the Japanese culture. I am greatly enjoyed each and every story in this book, and each of them I enjoyed for different reasons. Some of the stories were translations of old Japanese texts wheras, for others, this book was the first place they were ever written. The author heard them while traveling through small-town Japan and enjoyed them so much that he transcribed them. Because of this, it is somewhat difficult to write a real review. The stories are not his; they aren't even retellings, but the author does an amazing job of transcribing/translating them and making them his own. Obviously, some things are lost in translation, but the author did a great job of minimalizing this loss, and I really feel like I got the full effect of what was originally being said.

At the end of this book, there was a brief study of insects in relation to Japanese culture which I found absolutely FASCINATING. I found the sections on ants and butterflies to be especially enjoyable (though I should perhaps note that I am slightly obsessed with ants). The chosen poems and texts along with the author's observations and commentary gave me great insight as to the roles that insects played (and insects are VERY prominent in Japan) in ancient Japan.

I GREATLY enjoyed this book (and learned a lot!), and, for the first time in a very long time, I found myself so enraptured that I couldn't stop myself from staying up into the wee hours of the morning reading. I highly recommend this selection of stories to anyone who is even remotely interested in Japanese culture.

Summary: KWAIDAN is a collection of weird, ghostly legends and beliefs of old Japan. Hearn spent 14 years in Japan, translating into English with superb effect the atmosphere of the tales which he avidly collected.

Based on Japanese literature and folklore, KWAIDAN contains 17 stories. The stories of Loichi, the blind biwa player who was called to perform for the dead; of Muso, the journeying priest who encountered a man-eating goblin; of the samurai who outwitted the ghost of a dead man. All these plus 14 other spooky tales are included in this collection.

Cover Story: It's so creepy and Japanesey and perfect! I absolutely LOVE it! With a capital heart! :-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

C'est La Folie by Michael Wright

Title: C'est La Folie

Author: Michael Wright


Who Should Read It? If you have any interest in life in France, with a little bit of humour and a lot of heart, this is the perfect book for you!

What I Have to Say:
Well, I would say that Michael Wright is back in all his glory, because for me he is. But given that this is actually his first book about his life at La Folie, and the first book I read was the second, technically he's not back.
With all of the same places and characters I grew to love in Je T'aime A La Folie, it certainly felt like I was thrown back into a world that I had already grown to love.

C'est La Folie is the endearing story of a man who, on what seems like a whim, decides to move to the middle of nowhere France. He's looking for adventure, and he's on a quest to become a hero, even though it seems to me he's already somewhat of a hero. I guess it just depends on your definition of hero.

Oddly enough, the bulk of this book actually seems to be about the renovations of his home and the raising of his animals, which in and of itself doesn't sound all that appealing. And yet - he has laced each and every fabulous tale that he has to tell (don't go thinking from that statement that this book reads like a book of short stories - it so doesn't; it is a strong, full-fledged novel) with just enough humour and self-mockery so as to make nearly passage laugh out loud funny. Or, at the very least, lamentably painful, as the reader can so easily relate to some of his horror stories. It was great for me to get to know some of the characters from the first book as Michael saw them when he originally met them. And, though I didn't think it possible, I found myself even more attached to his wonderful sheep and chickens!

Michael's writing is fluid, endearing, enjoyable, and, did I mention, FUNNY! After living in France for three years, I really thought there was nothing that could make me want to move back, but this wonderful travel story has me craving to live somewhere in "deepest, darkest France." I'm now convinced that it really must have just been Paris.

The only real problem that I had with this book was the somewhat vivid descriptions of animal husbandry and animal killing (okay, so the killing descriptions weren't really THAT vivid, but they were still too vivid for me). I really would have rathered NOT know that he killed chickens, etc. . . The book would have been wonderful and the perfect length if he had just left those parts out.

Anyhow, wonderful and wonderfully endearing travel memoir, and it comes heartily recommended here at Brizmus Blogs Books. If you have any interest in France, read this book, and I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Summary: In 2004, Michael Wright turned his back on Blighty to begin a new life as the owner of a dilapidated 15th century farmhouse called "La Folie". This is a comic memoir about a clinically social bloke rejecting the world of parties and attempting to learn how to become an old-fashioned man.

Cover Story: Once again, and adorably whimsically wonderful cover to fit an adorably whimsically wonderful book!

Thanks so much to Elizabeth at Transworld books for sending me a review copy of this book! This in no way affected my review!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things I Love As Much as Books (11)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

So I have fallen in love.

With a jacket.

I am serious, this is THE most amazing jacket I have ever seen. I walked into the store and found myself DRAWN to it, and then I just had to stare at it. And stare some more. And then a little more.

And then come home and search and search until I found it on the internet.

Annnnnnd, unfortunately my computer is not presently letting me upload photos, so you'll just have to go to the website to see how wonderful it is I'll come back and post the picture when I can.

Have you looked? Isn't it FABULOUS!

There's three colors - white, pink, and black, and I ADORE them all, and I WILL have this jacket someday, but I absolutely CAN'T decide which color I need. What do you guys think? Which color do you like best?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Mini Shopaholic

Author: Sophie Kinsella


Who Should Read It? This is a great book for fans of Sophie Kinsella and the Shopaholic series. While I ADORED this book (enough to give it 5 stars!), I think it's best to already have a reading relationship with Becky before reading it as, well, she is SLIGHTLY neurotic. :-)

What I Have to Say:
I hate this book. Why?, you may wonder. Because I LOVED it so much. And now nothing seems to live up to it. I mean, I am enjoying the book I'm reading now, but I can't help but keep thinking "I WANT MORE BECKY BLOOMWOOD!" I love her! I love Sophie Kinsella, and it's possible that, aside some brief frustration in the beginning, this is THE best yet in the Shopaholic series.

In Mini Shopaholic, Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is BACK and more compulsively crazier and fabulous than ever. Her antics are everything readers of the Shopaholic series have come to expect - and more. Especially now that she has her two year old, Minnie, growing up under her influence. While Minnie and Minnie's relationship with her mother are sometimes slightly frustrating (you're just going to have to read the book if you want to know why), will immediately hook the reader in and entertain them nonstop right up until the end.

Whoever decided that Becky should/could have children (perhaps Sophie Kinsella of herself!) must have been crazy - and brilliant. It is hilariously entertaining, and the background of the financial crisis and the big CB (cut back) just make it all the more so. In Mini Shopaholic, Kinsella has masterfully constructed a hilarious, crazy story that will leave you wanting more and feeling like you maybe got a little bit too much at the same time.

And that's really the only problem with this book. With Becky's crazy antics and Becky's mother's crazy antics and Minnie's crazy antics and Janice's crazy antics, it can sometimes be a bit much, and for people that aren't already familiar and in love with the Shopaholic series, I can see how it could be a bit difficult. Unless, you're perhaps a little bit crazy. And then you'll relate. Like I do.

Seriously, though, this book is good. And if you love the Shopaholic series, the chances of you continuing to love it with this book are high. It's fabulous! And trust be, you'll be losing sleep waiting for Sophie Kinsella to write the next book in the series! I can't wait!

Summary:While motherhood has been everything Becky dreamed it would be—Baby Dior, Little Marc Jacobs, and Dolce & Gabbana for toddlers—adorable Minnie is wreaking havoc everywhere she goes, from Harrods to her own christening. Her favorite word is “MINE!” and her penchant for Balenciaga bags, Chanel sunglasses, and online purchases has no rival under age five.

Becky is at her wits end. On top of this, she and her husband Luke are still living with her parents. Thankfully it appears house buying attempt number four is a go! Until a huge financial crisis causes panic everywhere, and nobody wants to shop—not Becky’s personal shopping clientele, not her friends, nobody. And with Luke in the doldrums, it’s time for Becky to step in—with a party: A surprise birthday party for Luke (on a budget) is the perfect antidote to everyone’s woes. At first.

Will Becky manage to keep the party of the year a surprise? Can she hire jugglers, fire-eaters, and acrobats at a discount? Will enlisting the help of Luke’s unflappable assistant to convince him to have another baby realize her dream of matching pom-poms? Will Minnie find a new outlet for her energetic and spirited nature (perhaps one with sixty percent markdowns)? She is, after all, a chip off the old shopping block. And everyone knows a committed shopper always finds a way.

Cover Story: I think both the British and the American covers are adorable - exactly what a Shopaholic series book needs!

Disclosure: THanks so much to Elizabeth of Transworld Books for sending me a review copy of this book! It in no way affected my review of this book.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

CSN Winner!

Okay, so I know I know, I'm super slow, as this closed over a week ago, but I've FINALLY found time to announce that the winner of a $50 gift certificate to be used at any of the amazing CSN Stores, picked by, is


Congratulations, Tara! I've sent you an e-mail.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nihon No Kinyoubi (14)

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a weekly feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

So, if you'll recall, last week I posted the number one book in literature for the week.

Well, I got some interesting comments on it. The first of which is that a better translation of the title would be "What if the female manager of the high school baseball team read 'Drucker's Management?'." And it totally is. I somehow had added a word to the end of the Japanese title that wasn't actually there, and now that it's gone, it makes so much more sense.

So there.

The other is that, apparently, someone has translated the first chapter, and the translation can be found HERE.

I would highly recommend going to check it out, as it is quite interesting, I find, so see what the Japanese are interested in right now, especially as it's so different from what the English speaking part of the world seems to be interested in.

And that's it for this week.


My Contests

None for now!