In My Mailbox (28)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

Vixen by Jillian Larkin
From Goodreads:
Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?

Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .

Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .

From debut author Jillian Larkin, VIXEN is the first novel in the sexy, dangerous, and ridiculously romantic new series set in the Roaring Twenties . . . when anything goes.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
From Goodreads:
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry first published The Little Prince in 1943, only a year before his Lockheed P-38 vanished over the Mediterranean during a reconnaissance mission. More than a half century later, this fable of love and loneliness has lost none of its power. The narrator is a downed pilot in the Sahara Desert, frantically trying to repair his wrecked plane. His efforts are interrupted one day by the apparition of a little, well, prince, who asks him to draw a sheep. "In the face of an overpowering mystery, you don't dare disobey," the narrator recalls. "Absurd as it seemed, a thousand miles from all inhabited regions and in danger of death, I took a scrap of paper and a pen out of my pocket." And so begins their dialogue, which stretches the narrator's imagination in all sorts of surprising, childlike directions...

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma — so she’s been told — and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She’s been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won’t anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions. What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she really?

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
From Goodreads:
All the creatures of the forest and field and riverbank knew the infant was special. She was the princess, spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia on her name-day. But the curse was cast: Rosie was fated to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a poisoned sleep-a slumber from which no one would be able to rouse her.

Monday Mini (4)

It's Monday morning, the alarm clock just went off and everything is rush rush rush to get ready for the work week. Unfortunately there's limited time for book talk, and even less for blogging, but we still MUST share some book thoughts before we dive into the day. A Monday Mini is a quick little review typed with one hand, while coffee is made, makeup is applied and car keys are found with the other. Have a great Monday morning!

Green Witch by Alice Hoffman
Published March 1st 2010 by Scholastic Press

More at: Goodreads

From Goodreads:In this powerful, lovely sequel to GREEN ANGEL, Green must learn the stories of a number of "witches" and free her true soul mate from a prison as she grapples with life, love, and loss in a post-disaster world.

Green's town has started to come together again, and lives are being rebuilt, but for a few of the town's women, the loss is still too great. Deemed witches because of their seclusion and the shape of the magic that their grief has created, they remain outside of the community, their existence only spoken of in fearful whispers. Green, for whom any garden will grow, discovered her own extraordinary ability to heal a soul when she lost her family to the fire. Now she must find these witches, and write down their tales, aiding in their healing, and guiding her back to Diamond, the missing boy she has fallen in love with.

I absolutely loved the first book, Green Angel. The words were so poetic, and the story was filled with so much real magic that it was coming off the pages. I really got caught up in Green's emotions- her heartache, her healing. Lovely. But this little book, it's sequel, didn't really draw me in like the first one did. Maybe it was because I waited too long to read it after the first one. Maybe it's because this was more an adventure story and less of a love story. Whatever it was, the magic just wasn't there for me.

Have you read these books? Talk to me.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

     Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
     Published September 5th 2005 by Bloomsbury
     (first published September 2004)

     More at:
     The Library at Hurtfew

Dear Reader,

     I have no wish to share this book with you. In a great fit of jealousy and selfishness I vowed I wouldn't talk about it here, deliberately depriving you of the experience of hearing about this most amazing book. It is only out of a sense of duty and obligation as a book lover, and because I dearly love my blog that I'm going to gift you with a brief insight into this wonder. Make no mistake though- this book, is mine. I give you leave to read it, enjoy it even, but you are not allowed any additional rights to it as I have claimed all others. 1

     There has always been magic in England. 2 The history and study of English magic was once a profession held in high esteem. To say that one was a magician was comparable to saying that one was a great gentleman, a scholar, a patron of the arts, more reputable than the practice of medicine, nearly as decorous as royalty and almost as venerable as the clergy (but not quite since that would be considered presumptuous). To spend one’s days laboring over texts and accounts of English magic was a perfectly respectable occupation for a gentleman, who wasn’t expected to have one. A gentleman could study magic, but to practice it, would have been commonplace.

     Practical magicians, those vagabonds and swindlers who for pennies tell futures and sell love spells on street corners, are not respectable. Boasting that one can perform magic is the height of vulgarity. No gentleman would associate himself with charlatans. With the decline of English magic in more recent years, and fewer and fewer gentleman engaging in the study of magic, these unstudied miscreants have come to be associated with the title magician. The Learned Society of York Magicians, a group of aged magical scholars, in keeping with long standing tradition, prefer to keep the study of magic an occupation for gentleman and spurn any man who claims to practice magic. It comes to their attention that the majority of magical texts that still exist in England are being bought up in great numbers by a solitary scholar by the name of Mr. Norrell, who makes the abominable claim of being both a theoretical and a practical magician. This claim by a gentleman is unheard of and when the York Society calls for a display of magic by Mr. Norrell to substantiate this preposterous declaration, the price for the performance is for each member of the society to forever give up the study of magic and relinquish the title magician. When the society witnesses Mr. Norrell’s most extraordinary talent, they have no choice but to keep their word and cease their studies. In this way, and with his acquisition of most of the magical text in England, Mr. Norrell distinguishes himself as the only remaining magician in England.

     Mr. Norrell, who wants the practice of English magic to once again be held in the highest esteem, while at the same time campaigning to be the only one who practices it, offers his services to aid the English in their war with France, performing great feats of magic that amazes the nation. The solitary, reserved Norrell, doles out his spells sparingly, not wanting his craft to be misused, his tight hold on the whole of English magic making it nearly inaccessible to anyone but himself.

     But one man cannot hold the whole of English magic solely. England is destined to have another magician, the young novice, Jonathan Strange, who takes up magic on a mere whim, at the prompting of a street sorcerer, who claims it is prophesied that Strange will be a great magician.

     “My name is Vinculous,” he declared. Considering that he had just spent a night under a hedge his voice was remarkably loud and clear. “For ten days I have been walking westwards in search of a man who is destined to be a great magician. Then days ago I was shewn a picture of this man and now by certain mystic signs I see that it is you!”
     Everyone looked around to see who he meant.
     The man in the shepard’s smock and the knitted shawls came up to Strange and plucked at his coat. “It is you, sir” he said.
     “Me?” said Strange.
     Vinculus approached Strange.
     ”Two magicians shall appear in England,” he said.
     ”The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me;
     The first shall be governed by thieves and murderers; the second shall conspire at his own destruction;
     The first shall bury his heart in a dark wood beneath the snow, yet still feel it’s ache;
     The second shall see his dearest possession in his enemy’s hand…”

     “I see,” interrupted Strange. “And which am I, the first or the second? No, do not tell me. It does not matter. Both sound entirely dreadful. For someone who is anxious that I should become a magician, I must say you do not make the life sound very appealing. I hope to be married soon and a life spent in dark woods surrounded by thieves and murders would be inconvenient to say the least. I suggest you chuse someone else.”
     “I did not chuse you, Magician! You were chosen long ago.”
     “Well, whoever it was they will be disappointed.”
     Vinculous ignored this remark and took a firm grasp on the bridle of Strange’s horse as a precaution against his riding off. He then proceeded to recite in its entirety the prophecy which he had already performed for the benefit of Mr. Norrell in the library at Hanover-square.
     Strange received it with a similar degree of enthusiasm and when it was done, he leant down from his horse and said very slowly and distinctly, “I do not know any magic!”
     Vinculus paused. He looked as if he was prepared to concede that this might be a legitimate obstacle to strange’s becoming a great magician. Happily the solution occurred to him immediately; he stuck his hand into the breast of his coat and pulled out some sheets of paper with bits of straw sticking to them. “Now,” he said, looking even more mysterious and impressive than before, “I have here some spells which…No, no! I cannot give them to you!” (Strange had reached out to take them.) “They are precious objects. I endured years of torment and suffered great ordeals in order to possess them.”
     “How much?” said Strange.
     “Seven shilling and sixpence,” said Vinculous.
     “Very well.”

     Strange becomes a very great magician indeed. After the momentary pause in his career that is his brief apprenticeship to Mr. Norrell, Strange goes on to serve the English government in their campaign against the French, performing great, history changing feats of magic that the overly cautious Mr. Norrell would never dare to engage in- daring, unimaginable, masterpieces of magic that change the course of a war. Strange’s blatant disregard for the current school of thought on the proper practice of magic, Mr. Norrell’s own views, drives a wedge between the two magicians, creating a magical rivalry that threatens the revival of English magic.

     Fairy summoning, the raising of the dead, the movement of the very mountains, maidens abducted into other worlds and horrifying instances of darker, fairy magic make for a thrilling, entertaining, and almost believable, historical fantasy that is truly unforgettable.

     I didn’t just fall in love with this book- I fell into it. It’s one of those stories that blurs the line between what is real and what is fantasy. In this story, it is entirely believable that magic really does exist. In fact, because of the story, even now that I’m outside of it, I can’t help but still believe. It’s a rather interesting mix of genres; both history and fantasy, combining both real historical events and real instances of English life in the 19th century with some vivid fantastical embellishments that make Clarke’s history much more entertaining than the real thing. Who’s to say that the battles between England and France during the Napoleonic wars were not altered by magic? Had that been taught in the history books we might have all paid more attention.

     Jonathan Strange, with the fervor and foolish fearlessness in which he practices magic, and his steadfast dedication to his profession (once he discovered what it was) completely stole my heart. He is perhaps the biggest book crush I’ve ever had. I have a high respect for a man who would only ever forsake the love of his life for a book and in fact, I understand. He was smart, witty, daring, and always civil and gentlemanly. As an Englishman, he would retain proper decorum even when battling evil fairy forces and I just love him.

     Mr. Norrell, who I couldn’t help but picture as a wizened, tiny, scrooge of a man made me so angry at times. He is one of the only two great magical minds that have existed in England for centuries and he is so conceited about his own powers that he nearly refuses to have them. He wants magic to return to England, but only if it returns to him alone, thereby depriving the people of the wonders of magic, or worse, giving them only the glimpses of it that he wants them to see.

     The book, written as a I have said, as a history, is full of footnotes detailing the history of English magic as it was known in England. Every magical text and person mentioned is referenced and their involvement in magic is retold in footnotes, giving the reader not only a wonderful story experience, but an fictional education as well. You could learn many great and wonderful things from this book if you were of the mind to believe in an alternate reality- which I am.

     This giant, brick of a book (1006 pages) will introduce you to some of the most extraordinary characters you’ve never imagined. An evil fairy spirit, and the magician’s foremost nemesis (besides each other), known only as The Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair, is by far the best villain I’ve ever met in a book. He is a fairy in every respect, mischievous, arrogant, thoughtless and unkind, all the while working on the pretense that he is the height of civility and chivalry. You will meet Stephen Black, a most pitiful servant who finds himself the unwilling companion to the Gentleman with the Thistledown hair, hopelessly trapped between his own England and the Gentleman’s fairy realms.
"It would need someone very remarkable to recover your name, Stephen, someone of rare perspicacity, with extraordinary talents and incomparable nobility of character. Me, in fact."

     In it you will meet John Uskglass, the Raven King, the greatest of English magicians and whose teaching Mr. Norrell struggles so hard to suppress and whose magic Mr. Strange endeavors to master. It is his magic, and the accounts of his adventures that have shaped English magic.
“I reached out my hand; thought and memory flew out of my enemies’ heads like a flock of starlings;
My enemies crumpled like empty sacks.
I came to them out of mists and rain;
I came to them in dreams at midnight;
I came to them in a flock of ravens that filled a northern sky at dawn;
When they thought themselves safe I came to them in a cry that broke the silence of a winter wood…”

     I’ve dogeared so many quotes and passages in this book that I’ve almost got it memorized. There are just too many instances of wonderful in this book to let them be forgotten. It’s the best book I’ve read this year, and one of my favorite stories of all time, if not my most favorite.

     Susanna Clarke has written a book of short stories that take place in the fairy world introduced in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, entitled The Ladies of Grace Adieu and she is working (hard at it I hope) on her next book about English magic.

Footnote 1: In Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Mr. Norrell attempts to buy up all the magical texts in England and keep them locked away in his library solely for his own use. Whether it is greed or a desire to keep books on magic from those who would interpret their contents in a way that differs from his own, Mr. Norrell takes a very possessive, selfish view of books and considers all books on English magic, his. Here, in reference to the book, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I take a very Norrellite belief that this book, is mine.

Footnote 2: If that were written the way I feel it, the print would be in thick, glossy gold, and the letters would press deep into the page to convey the finality of the sentiment. If I’ve learned anything from stories and books, it’s that what magic there is in our world, exists, quite fixedly, in England.

How about....a giveaway?

A very kind book fairy sent me not just one, but two copies of Angelfire by the lovely Ms Courtney Allison Moulton! You can read an excerpt on Courtney's website. I didn't want to deny some other lucky reader the chance to enjoy it a bit early, and it's the perfect time of year for giving books! So without further ado....a giveaway:

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Published: February 15th 2011 by HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen Books
From Goodreads:
This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

To enter, just fill out the form below. You must be 13 years of age or older and live in the US or Canada. One entry per person. Contest ends December 29th at midnight CST.

In My Mailbox (27)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

Lots of books this week! I took a trip to my all time favorite bookstore, Lemuria Books and spent some quality time in and amongst their floor to ceiling bookcases filled to bursting with just about every lovely kind of book you can imagine and took home some new friends:

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
From Goodreads:
A monument to sloth, rant and contempt, and suspicious of anything modern - this is Ignatius J. Reilly of New Orleans, crusader against dunces. In revolt against the 20th century, Ignatius propels his bulk among the flesh-pots of a fallen city, documenting life on his Big Chief tablets as he goes, until his mother decrees that Ignatius must work.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
From Goodreads:
"Last Night I Dreamt I Went To Manderley Again."

So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten...her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant -- the sinister Mrs. Danvers -- still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca...for the secrets of Manderley.

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
From Goodreads:
This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began

When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory's peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew's magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined.

Hurtled into the wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia.

In the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis shows us how it all began--the glorious birth of the land of Narnia at the hand of its unforgettable King. it is followed by six more books that collectively tell the history of a world that has become as real as our own.

Special thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me this wonderful surprise:

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
From Goodreads:
What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

And a very special thanks to a wonderful book fairy, Emily, for a box full of delight:

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
From Goodreads:
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Published December 2nd 2010 by Dutton

More at: Goodreads

     Ah Paris. City of Lights! City of Love! Home to such famed objets d'art as La Tour Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe, and the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, and, well The School of America- which just doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it? School of America. A fancy, private, boarding school, where American parents can send their overly desensitized children to experience French culture. It's also a swanky place to send them that looks great on a college application.
     For Anna, it's not an experience, it's a disaster. Her father, author of many atrocious melodramas turned blockbusters on the big screen, thinks it's a great place for her to acquire a bit of polish, and it's the kind of thing you'd expect a big shot, Hollywood sell out to do. With a life, a best friend and a hot co-worker in Atlanta, Anna has no desire to spend her senior year in some snotty French school eating snails. She doesn't even speak French- how would she even know if she ordered them?
     Translator and tour guide present themselves in the form of Etienne St. Clair, classmate, jokester, friend to all and gorgeous guy with an English accent that let's him get away with most anything. It would be impossible to resist such proffered friendship, especially when Anna is stuck in a foreign country, missing her old life back in Atlanta. Who could say no to that quirky, crooked smile, that accent, the flirtation...the fluttery feeling when he looks at her and only her, that way. Everything about him is perfect- except the fact that he has a girlfriend.

I was -dying- (written in italics and hyphenated to convey the intensity of the booklust with which I longed for this book) to read this. As expected, it was so very lovely that when I finished I had this silly, ridiculous smile on my face. Perkins captured youthful tummy flutters like no one I've ever read. This is why I love YA- I can remember (and relive) that this is what it felt like (and sometimes still does).

     I bore my eyes into the screen, trying my best to prove that I am Really Interested in this movie. St. Clair stiffens but doesn't move his leg. Is he holding his breath? I think he is. I'm holding mine. I exhale and cringe- it's so loud and unnatural.
     Again. Another glance. This time I turn, automatically, just as he's turning away. It's a dance, and now there's a feeling in the air like one of us should say something. Focus, Anna. Focus. "Do you like it? I whisper.
     He pauses. "The film?"
     I'm thankful the shadows hide my blush.
     "I like it very much." he says.
     I risk a glance, and St. Clair stares back. Deeply. He has not looked at me like this before. I turn away first, then feel him turn a few beats later.
     I know he is smiling, and my heart races.

Anna was a gem- sarcastic, witty and prone to inducing full out hysterics. I adored her method of rationalization on a very personal level- we are both a touch (perhaps too much) OCD, which made us instant friends. Her gradual exploration and conquering of Paris, tentative and distrusting at first, gained her a new found independence that made me adore her all the more. I would be terrified to be alone in a foreign country, but I wouldn't let it stop me from having little adventures, and neither did Anna.

As a friend, Etienne was a wonder. He knew all the right things to do and say to make Anna feel at ease. This is the charming St. Clair that I can understand anyone fighting to be friends with. As a potential romance, he and I didn't quite see eye to eye. I don't buy "confusion" as an excuse for utterly thoughtless behavior in a guy. I want to think that he is completely oblivious to the mix messages he sends and I'm willing to overlook it on the grounds that he grows up perfect to atone. I admit I couldn't stay mad at him- I wouldn't be able to resist the accent either.

Poor Anna! It's a terrible dilemma to have feelings for someone who is already spoken for and always analyzing every word and movement in hopes that they mean, in their own secret, private way, that she is the one he really wants.

This is a wonderful story in which an American girl falls in love, in Paris. You shouldn't need any further enticement to read it than that.

Perkins won me over with her story telling. Like I said, capturing subtle, delicate, budding emotions is her strong point and I don't think it's a talent that many could boast of. I very much look forward to her next book.

Special thanks to a lovely book fairy for sending me this story to love. Miz Perkin's book is out now and you deserve to give yourself an early holiday present.
How'd ya like all those fancy highfalutin French words? I bet a few of them are even spelled correctly. That's today's word boys and girls- highfalutin.

*Quotes taken from an ARC of Anna and the French Kiss and may differ in the final copy.

Teaser Tuesday (10) Entwined by Heather Dixon

"Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!"

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Nearly an hour later, when the tower chimed eight and guests filled the ballroom like brightly colored bouquets, and perfumes and nutmeg and pine scented the air, the Christmas trees in the corner glimmered and sparkled with glass ornaments, Azalea found herself clasped on the arm of Prime Minister Fairweller.

It's only one sentence, but that's all it took for me to get hooked. :)

Monday Mini (3)

It's Monday morning, the alarm clock just went off and everything is rush rush rush to get ready for the work week. Unfortunately there's limited time for book talk, and even less for blogging, but we still MUST share some book thoughts before we dive into the day. A Monday Mini is a quick little review typed with one hand, while coffee is made, makeup is applied and car keys are found with the other. Have a great Monday morning!

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Published January 20th 2009 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

More at: Goodreads

From Goodreads: Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.
Captivating from start to finish, Jessica Day George’s take on the Grimms’ tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses demonstrates yet again her mastery at spinning something entirely fresh out of a story you thought you knew.

This is such a lovely retelling. The twelve princesses dance nearly every night for the King Under Stone, who lives deep beneath the ground where he was exiled. Their mother, who was so desperate for children, struck a bargain with the evil king and in exchange for her daughters, she danced for him nearly every night, from midnight until dawn until she died. Now the princesses must repay their mother's debt and dance night after night with the king's half mortal sons who he plans for the princesses to marry. The princesses are unable to speak of the enchantment and princes come from far and wide to attempt to solve the mystery. None are successful until Galen, the young gardener, a soldier recently come home from the war, breaks the enchantment and wins the love of the eldest princess, Rose.

It's a rest your chin in your hand and sigh wistfully kind of story. I remember the Brothers Grimm telling to be very harsh and dark (as most are) but this story is so very elegant and magical it made me want to dance with them.

In the story, our hero knits a shawl and a chain that are used to save the princesses, at the end, the author includes the knitting patterns that Galen would have used to make the magic pieces. Very clever indeed.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I know you just saw that title and said, most likely out loud, "Not that. Not yet. Please. Not yet." and normally I don't jump on the Day After Thanksgiving=Christmas bandwagon but it's been quite a year (and by quite I mean full to bursting and not all good) and I need Christmas. Now. After all the Thanksgiving going going and one last horrid night of surgery call, I indulged in my favorite holiday tradition and put up my Christmas tree while listening to Patrick Stewart's performance of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

This has been a must in my family for many years. The holidays can not begin without it. The tree cannot go up, no ornaments can be hung and not one fairy light or bit of tinsel can twinkle until we hear the sound of cold wind blowing and that famous first line:
"Marley was dead: to begin with."

Now. Now we can have Christmas. I was raised with a glorious wonder of a Christmas tree. It takes my mother days to get it right. Gold, silver, green, white- but never any blue, ornaments, soft hand-crocheted garland and lights so numerous it could probably be seen from space. It leaned slightly to one side with the unbalanced weight of all its finery and there was many a year when we just knew that this would be the one that it finally caught on fire. And in the background of all this fuss was Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise telling us the story of ol' Ebenezer Scrooge.
"Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas."

It made the room cold. It makes me crave hot chocolate and sweaters when I hear this story- quite a feat in south Mississippi where you could still technically wear shorts at Christmas (but you don't, you bundle up and pretend it's winter). When the tree first goes up, it's dark and ominous, a daunting task, a tangle of unlit bulbs and last year's ornament hooks. It might not happen. We might have to wait until *gasp* tomorrow to brave the Christmas section at Walmart and settle on new lights that will never be quite as good as the ones that we had last year. This is the worst part.
"Man of the worldly mind! Do you believe in me or not?"

"I do." said Scrooge. "I must. But why do spirits walk the earth, and why do they come to me?"

"It is required of every man, that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"

"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you? Or would you know, the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!"

And the dark, cold nature of this part of the story made the tree, when the lights were finally up and lit, feel that much warmer. I swear there is nothing so wonderful as the glow of a Christmas tree. Until the day after Christmas it was always our primary light source in the living room. A Christmas lamp if you will- and not the tacky giant leg kind.

Now for the ornaments. There were about 20 bulging Rubbermaid containers, there contents held in by the shear strength of the duct tape holding tight the lids. I told you, this is south Mississippi. We duct tape our ornament boxes with pride. We never sat down and counted them, it would have been pointless. Each new year brought the retirement of old, chipped ornaments and the introduction of glossy new ones in a never ending ornament exchange that left it impossible to remember what we actually owned. The placement had to be just so. A red couldn't be next to another red and so forth, small ornaments at the top, medium in the middle and the big bulbs filling in the thick bottom section of the tree.

"It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see: who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty's horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door.
"Come in!" exclaimed the Ghost. "Come in. and know me better, man!"

It took hours. Sometimes it took days. Sometimes we had to listen to A Christmas Carol over and over again because we forgot to listen to it when dealing with particularly difficult sections of the tree. Sometimes we had to pause mid story and call it a night because it was just too late, and just too frustrating to keep going. Sometimes it was up weeks before Christmas, sometimes days, but it was always up. Though the tree, the lights, the ornaments may have differed from year to year, it was always a glorious tree and I couldn't wait for it to be up.

"What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge.

"To-day?" replied the boy. "Why, Christmas Day."

"It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. "I haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!"

As I am now an elderly lady of thirty-two years, I have my own tree, in my own house. Granted, it's not quite the same. For one thing, I put it up on my own and I rather missed fighting with my mother over ornament placement. It's a much smaller, sparser tree and unfortunately, hidden away in the spare bedroom to protect it from Threesie who broke a record twenty-two ornaments last year. And it's tailored to my own tastes- aqua and silver and glass and perhaps, looking at it now, a bit too contemporary- but it's still warm, and inviting, with soft lights that set the perfect scene for listening to A Christmas Carol over and over again.

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

You're welcome Mississippi Power. God bless us. Every one.

How Well Read Are You?

This was posted by Kathy at Inside of a Dog and I saw it again on Curling Up by the Fire.

"The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here."


•Copy this list.
•Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
•Italicise the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.
•Tag other book nerds.
•Highlight the ones that you have but haven't read.

Maybe I'm odd but I consider this type of thing to be "fun". Here's what I ended up with:

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The King James Bible
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Complete Works of Shakespeare
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
Emma -Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
Animal Farm – George Orwell
The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Dune – Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Dracula – Bram Stoker
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
Ulysses – James Joyce
The Inferno – Dante
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
Germinal – Emile Zola
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
Possession – AS Byatt
Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Watership Down – Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

I've read 32, started 3 and have 4 on my TBR. What did you come up with?

FOR MY MUM: Do this assignment so that I can see what you've read, and then to further your baby daughter's literary education, buy her A Confederacy of Dunces, A Tale of Two Cities and Rebecca for Christmas. I still refuse to read Possession because Aunt Jacquie says you lie.

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, in which we share the book that we are anxiously waiting to be released.

SCREAM!I waited so long to read Incarceron, wanting to hold off until as close to the sequel as possible. I've been hearing so much buzz about Sapphique that somewhere in my brain I thought that surely it must be getting close to release day. So I decided to read Incarceron and I LOVED IT! Then I look up the release date for Sapphique and NO! it doesn't come out until December 28th and I am tortured!! Incarceron was an amazing adventure and I simply MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
From Goodreads:

The only one who escaped . . . And the one who could destroy them all.

Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn’s escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison’s warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn’s and Claudia’s very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn’t fully believe.

Meanwhile, Finn’s oathbrother Keiro and his friend Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron wants the glove too.

Jane by April Lindner

Jane by April Lindner

Published October 11th 2010 by Poppy

More at: Goodreads

     "I couldn't live here with you and your new wife, and watch myself become nothing to you...because that's what would happen, and I couldn't stand it. Do you think because I'm...ordinary...that I don't have feelings?" I could hear my voice rising, carrying across the field, but for once I didn't care what the world thought of me. "Because I do have feelings, and if I were beautiful and talented and famous, I'd make it as hard for you to leave me as it is for me to leave you."

     Jane's past was a tragic one even before the sudden death of both her parents. As a pale comparison to a beautiful older sister and an overly praised brother, love and happiness were never things to be found at home. With her parents' death, Jane is forced to abandon her dreams of an education and seek employment before the close of the semester leaves her homeless. When a position as a nanny is offered to Jane she is unable to say no to the income, or to the home the new job would provide- a rich, lavish home on the country estate of a world famous musician.
     Nico Rathburn is an international rock sensation in the midst of planning his return to the stage. The life of a rock star is always fuel for any tabloid, and Nico's past filled with drugs, the very public end of his marriage, a bitter breakup with a rising pop star and the birth of his daughter have fanned the flame of scandal for many years.
     When sensible, level headed Jane takes on the task of caring for his daughter, her straight forward honesty and practicality is just what Nico needs in his new, more somber life. Both desperately in need of real friendship and feeling, a heated romance soon develops between them. But of all the scandals Nico has been involved in over the course of his career, the newspapers have yet to discover the deep, dark secret that exists in his very home- a secret that could shock the world, finish his career and cost him Jane's love.

Whenever an author takes on the retelling of a classic, one can only imagine the fear and tension that surrounds her as she waits to see how her vision is received. She could easily offend lovers of the classic, snub the original author's vision and alienate herself (and the story) from a new generation of readers. In short, if you've read the real thing, an adaptation, poorly done, can be much more disastrous than if the author had simply written a bad original novel. Or worse it could result in that horrible American Idol moment where Simon Cowell frowns and asks why the singer couldn't be bothered to try to make the song his own or berates him for making it too closely resembling the original.

This is the apprehension I felt when I first heard about Jane but after having devoured the book in a few short hours, I can tell you that I'm just so damned proud of Lindner's work. She more than pulled it off.

Have you read Jane Eyre? If you have you know it's a dark, depressing story full of so much self loathing it makes you want to spit but it's so damned romantic and everyone is just so emotionally tortured that you LOVE IT. And while Lindner stayed remarkably close to the original story- with it's tragedy, mystery and brooding leading man, our modern Jane is the story's real hero. When faced with Nico's horrible secret and lies, she has enough sense to say to hell with this and take care of herself- more importantly, remove herself from an absolutely retched situation and let that man handle his own CRAP. She's the poster child for ever poor college student who's ever lived on ramen noodles and worked a crap job to pay for an education and I adore her for not letting her heart get in the way of just plain good sense. The romantic in me so wanted her to enjoy the love that she very desperately needed to find and the single gal in me wanted to bring her a pizza and self help books with titles like "You Don't Need That Shit" and "Don't Go Back To Him Until He is a Wrecked Pitiful Shell of a Man and Begs You."

I loved her. I loved the romance between two people who were so very much in need of real love. Even knowing what Nico's secret was, the build up and suspense was handled masterfully. I couldn't wait for the shock to come. I loved watching as Jane gained some much needed self-acceptance and was able to approach this love as a self-assured, mature woman.

But while I'm glad she got everything she deserved, between you and me, I wanted to stick my fist in Nico's eye. In his defense I wanted to stick it in River's too.

In My Mailbox (26)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

Entwined by Heather Dixon
From Goodreads:
Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . . Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou.

The arrival of this book triggered an odd little jig of sorts around the coffee table. I'm so in love with the cover and I expect that the story is equally as enchanting.

A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas
From Goodreads:
It's Christmastime in London and Rafe Bowman has arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie Blandford, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady-in-waiting, and if it weren't for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed.
Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen. And winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants.

However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.

I really can't think of anything more delightful than spending the holiday with dear friends.

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
From Goodreads:
Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.Until now.Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.

Read the prologue here!

And from a very special book fairy:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
From Goodreads:
Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris — until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

Ten ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean

Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean
Published October 26th 2010 by Avon

More at: Goodreads

     Lord Nicholas St. John has always enjoyed a certain infamy amongst the ladies. As the just slightly younger twin brother to the rather notorious Marquess of Ralston, Nick's handsome face and unique occupation as a purveyor of pricey statuary has always supplied him with steady stream of attention. When the fashionable ladies' magazine Pearls and Pelisses labels Nick as one of "London's Lords to Land" and a "paragon of manhood" Nick finds himself running from the slew of ladies determined to catch London's newest, most eligible celebrity.
     But Nicholas was once famous for something altogether different. In certain, more secretive circles, his reputation as a formidable procurer of missing fugitives has made him much sought after for his skills as a hunter. It is this mysterious occupation (and perhaps a desire to not be within sight of any unmarried woman in London) that sends him north in search of a missing lady of the peerage.
     Lady Isabel Townsend, sister to the newly made earl of Reddich has a very unusual occupation as well. On her quickly crumbling family estate she secretly takes in troubled women in flight from the men who keep them. The Reddich estate has been left in such disrepair thanks to the late Earl's extravagant gambling habit that Isabel is in desperate need of funds to support her wayward female refugees. A fine collection of marble statuary still remains on the estate, the sale of which would surely save her household. A quick sale might be imminent, if Isabel is reckless enough to risk exposing the secrets of her house to the infamous Lord Nick, whose target it turns out, is its newest inhabitant.

As with everything MacLean has put pen to, her latest work is absolutely delightful. Since reading Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake I have been pining away for its sequel and it was everything I knew it would be. If you've read Nine Rules... you probably had a brief love affair with Lord Nicholas and you'll be happy to know that your affections weren't unwarranted in Ten Ways... where we discover just what a gem Nick really is.

Nicholas has a bad track record with rescuing ladies and just can't learn his lesson. His affinity for damsels in distress lands him right smack in the middle of a scandal that could tarnish the reputation of one of London's most prominent families and risk the love of the most remarkable, stubborn, confoundedly infuriating lady he has ever met.

I love that Nicholas is the good guy from start to finish and that the situation the story places him is one of having to choose between two actions that are both very much the right thing to do. It would seem to be a win-win situation but one right decision might just cost him his heart. In my romance reading I've met a lot of reformed bad guys, but Nicholas (and he would hate to hear it) can only be faulted with falling in love in impossible situations. An estate full of would-be scandal is just the sort romance he would find himself involved in.

Our fabulous heroine, Isabel, has a family history that has forced her to become a bit of a Jane-of-all-trades. On any given day, the running of her women's shelter might find her in the position of being forced to play the role of a man. To keep her home's secret, men simply cannot play a part in the management of the estate and the ladies must hitch up their trousers and tackle what needs doing- like roof repair, cleaning the stables, pretending to be footman to fool visiting London lords. Having grown accustom to the niceties of London high society it was funny to think of titled women mixing up their own roofing glue.

I read this book in just a few hours. You couldn't have made me put it down if you'd tried. It's charming and funny, with characters you hate having to part with.

Next spring, will bring Eleven Scandals to Start to Win A Duke's Heart where we'll find poor Leighton made miserable by love- and as Leighton seems a bit of a pompous ass, we are of course, going to need to see him naked. This usually improves a hero's disposition tenfold.

On a side note: Sarah MacLean is responsible for ruining the neatness and organization of my bookcases. I simply didn't have enough room to introduce a new genre to my library but because of her I've become a bit of a historical romance junkie. I have a growing collection of romance novels that have been haphazardly shoved into any available bookspace. Read her books so that you can blame her too.

Waiting on Wednesday (13) Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, in which we share the book that we are anxiously waiting to be released.

The sure to be fabulous sequel to Hex Hall has finally gotten its cover and it's gorgeous! Hex Hall was such a fun book and we were left with a major cliffhanger. I must know what happens next! Demonglass will be published March 1st 2011 by Hyperion.

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
From Goodreads:

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

Monday Mini (2)

It's Monday morning, the alarm clock just went off and everything is rush rush rush to get ready for the work week. Unfortunately there's limited time for book talk, and even less for blogging, but we still MUST share some book thoughts before we dive into the day. A Monday Mini is a quick little review typed with one hand, while coffee is made, makeup is applied and car keys are found with the other. Have a great Monday morning!

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Published August 1st 2005 by Eos (first published 1978)

More at: Goodreads

From Goodreads: This much-loved retelling of the classic French tale Beauty and the Beast elicits the familiar magical charm, but is more believable and complex than the traditional story. In this version, Beauty is not as beautiful as her older sisters, who are both lovely and kind. Here, in fact, Beauty has no confidence in her appearance but takes pride in her own intelligence, her love of learning and books, and her talent in riding. She is the most competent of the three sisters, which proves essential when they are forced to retire to the country because of their father's financial ruin.
The plot follows that of the renowned legend: Beauty selflessly agrees to inhabit the Beast's castle to spare her father's life. Beauty's gradual acceptance of the Beast and the couple's deepening trust and affection are amplified in novel form. Robin McKinley's writing has the flavor of another century, and Beauty heightens the authenticity as a reliable and competent narrator.

This is and has always been one of my favorite fairytales. McKinley's retelling completely captured the magic and wonder of the original story whilst gifting it with a rather real world air that makes it nearly impossible to not get thoroughly lost in the story.

McKinley's Beauty lacks the good looks that our classic heroine possessed. Instead her selflessness, kindness and intelligence make for an inwardly beautiful leading lady that's a bit easier to relate to than the usual run of the mill "breathtaking" beauty. Her character is such that all but Beauty are able to see how very lovely she really is. At her insistence, she agrees to enter the Beast's enchanted house in exchange for her father's life and once there befriends and falls in love with the one person to whom she has ever felt truly beautiful.

The castle and it's servants are charming and endearing as they welcome and care for Beauty who is understandably both terrified and homesick. I want invisible people to pick out my clothes and bring me breakfast :( Beauty is able to catch bits and pieces of their conversations and begins to understand that something really devastating will happen if she chooses to leave.

Bonus: The Beast possesses a great library filled with books that aren't yet written. THAT right there is enough reason to read this book if falling in love with a fairytale all over again isn't.

In My Mailbox (25)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
From Goodreads:
Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Jane by April Lindner
From Goodreads:
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
From Goodreads:
Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...

Mercury Falls
From Goodreads:
Years of covering the antics of End Times cults for The Banner, a religious news magazine, have left Christine Temetri not only jaded but seriously questioning her career choice. That is, until she meets Mercury, an anti-establishment angel who's frittering his time away whipping up batches of Rice Krispy Treats and perfecting his ping-pong backhand instead of doing his job: helping to orchestrate Armageddon. With the end near and angels and demons debating the finer political points of the Apocalypse, Christine and Mercury accidentally foil an attempt to assassinate one Karl Grissom, a thirty-seven-year-old film school dropout about to make his big break as the Antichrist. Now, to save the world, she must negotiate the byzantine bureaucracies of Heaven and Hell and convince the apathetic Mercury to take a stand, all the while putting up with the obnoxious mouth-breathing Antichrist.

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer
From Goodreads:
Life as a ship's boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas.

There's only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life -- if only she doesn't get caught....

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Laura @ A Jane of All Reads
I read excessively and hoard books like a greedy dragon. Theoretically, I also plan to use them to barricade myself against the forthcoming zombie apocalypse.

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