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.

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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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