Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Winter Sea

The Winter SeaThe Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

On the library stacks: Adult Fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Carrie McClelland is a Canadian author of historical fiction. She moves to a cottage on the Scottish coast for the winter so she can do research and write her new novel.  On a whim, she decides to base her main character on one of her Scottish ancestors that was alive during the Jacobite uprisings, in the early 1700s.

Everyone in the town where Carrie is writing is very friendly. Her landlord (who is written in a Scottish dialect called Doric) has two sons who seem to take a particular interest in Carrie. What seems weird to Carrie though, is how her life and her art seem to intersect. She finds herself writing things not only similar to what is happening in her own life, but she also realizes that she has an uncanny ability to accurately portray the history of her ancestors without any actual knowledge of the details until after she has written it down.

This is just really solid historical fiction. The author does not mess around very much with the historical figures. Her research is impeccable and I found myself delving even more into the facts after I finished reading. I liked the perspective shift between past and present and felt it kept the story moving along nicely. I read this on my Kindle and I was surprised to find out how many pages it is in print. I finished it in about two days. I also just found out Susanna is writing is "sort-of-sequel" to this book right now. I will definitely be checking that out when the time comes. 

Also reviewed by: Fuzzy Cricket ~ Tribute Books ~ Books, Belles, & Beaux ~ Your link here?
Source: Library Download

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth

AR Reading Level: 4.8
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Awards: Publishers Weekly Best Book; SLJ Best Book
Series: Book 1 of 3 (Divergent)
Appropriate for: Ages 14+

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Despite this being a much-talked about book last year, I managed to avoid knowing too much about the plot before I read it. So if you haven't read this one yet, let me keep it brief:

1. It's YA.
2. It's dystopian Chicago.
3. It's a little sci-fi.
4. It's the best book in its genre I've read since The Hunger Games.
5. It's awesome and well worth staying up into the wee hours for.

Also reviewed by: I Am A Reader, Not a WriterBook Addiction ~ Book Nut ~ Tribute Books ~ KIKA.LA ~ Ticket to Anywhere ~ A Bookworm's World ~ Ms. Yingling Reads ~ It's All About Books ~ At Home With Books ~ Royal Reviews ~ Emily's Reading Room ~ Fuzzy Cricket ~ Bloggin' 'bout Books ~ Not Enough Bookshelves ~ Bart's Bookshelf ~ Becky's Book Reviews ~ Book Lover Stop ~ Your link here?
Source: Borrowed

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Ditchdigger's Daughters

The Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success StoryThe Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story by Yvonne S. Thornton

AR Reading Level: 6.4
On the library stacks: Adult Non-fiction
Award: Society of School Libr. International Best/Honor
Appropriate for: High School +

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My book club was choosing our books for the new year and my husband chimed in that we ought to read this book. He had read it in college and thought we would like it. I think he was right!

Yvonne Thornton is one of 5 African-American daughters born into poverty in Long Branch, New Jersey. Her parents were determined that the girls would rise above the preconceptions of others based on their gender and race. Yvonne's father told the girls that they were all going to be doctors. The methods Donald Thornton used to encourage his girls may be up for debate. But the results are not.

While all the girls do not ultimately become doctors, they are all successful women. Yvonne is one of the premier OB/GYN specialists in this country. This book is fascinating and inspiring and very well-written. It was published in 1995 and I was happy find out that Yvonne published a sequel more specifically about her journey as a doctor in 2010.

Source: My husband brought this one into the marriage. That's almost 14 years in my TBR pile!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Across the Universe

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)Across the Universe by Beth Revis

AR Reading Level: 4.7
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Series: Across the Universe #1
Recommended for: Age 16+

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this YA dystopian sci-fi novel, Amy decides to be cyrogenically frozen with her parents. They will travel 300 years into the future to a new earth. When they arrive, Amy's parents will use their unique skills on the new world. Amy is a "non-essential" but she decides to go with her parents because she cannot imagine her life without them.

Unfortunately, Amy is woken up 50 years too early. Someone appears to be prematurely waking and drowning bodies before their time. Amy is afraid for her parents. But she is also very wary of the life she finds on the ship.

The ship has its own system of government. There is an Eldest who rules and an Elder who will take his place one day. Reproduction is scripted and the inhabitants are monoethnic and just seem apathetic. The only seemingly normal people live in the hospital. 

I thought this book was kind of like Ender's Game meets The Knife of Never Letting Go meets The Adoration of Jenna Fox. It was a cool mixing of some space-agey ideas and there was also a good mystery element to this book. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series which actually came out today!

Also reviewed by: I Am A Reader, Not A Writer ~ Tribute Books ~ Tales of Whimsy ~ Girls Gone Reading ~ The Book Nest ~ Your link here?
Source: Purchased

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Stats & Faves

Total Books Read: 82 (That's 31 less than last year. Wow. Time and a season. Time and a season.)
My top 10 favorite were:
  1. The Penderwicks
  2. The Grand Sophy
  3. Okay for Now
  4. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
  5. Unbroken
  6. Russian Winter
  7. Jane Eyre
  8. The Disappearing Spoon
  9. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
  10. Moon Over Manifest
Books Read for In-Person Book Club: 12
Books Read for Online Book Club: 7 (last year I only did 5, so I'm happy about this)

5 star: 11
4 star: 48
3 star: 16
2 star: 6
Unrated: 1 (just couldn't rate Beowulf)

Of the books I read:
Books I purchased: 28
Free downloads: 3
Books from publishers/publicists: 16
Books that were gifts: 9
Books from the library: 8 (one of my goals was to read more of what I had on my shelf)
Books from BookMooch: 13
Books I borrowed: 5

Books I read electronically: 12
Audiobooks: 3
Nonfiction: 15

Adult books: 40
YA books: 28
Middle grade/Childrens: 12

Links to all 2011 reviews: