Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

There are a lot of books that are hard for me to read, for many different reasons.  Whether it’s because I’m bored or because of the subject matter, some books are just really hard to get through.

  1. Tampa by Alyssa Nutting.  This one is the first that came to mind, because it’s about this teacher who seduces one of her students…there was a point where I was going to DNF it, but in the end, I managed to finish because I wanted to see if she’d face any consequences if she got caught.
  2. A Game Of Thrones by G.R.R. Martin.  I had to force myself to finish it, because the detail and length were overwhelming and intimidating.  Not to mention, I was really bored reading it.
  3. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley.  Now that I think about it, it was hard to read, because of how real it felt, and how much I could picture everything happening- but it’s also a story I hope we don’t forget.
  4. It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han.  Of the 3 books in the series, the 2nd one was the hardest, because I couldn’t stop crying long enough to read it.
  5. Some Boys by Patty Blount.  Because it’s horribly unfair that everyone will turn against a girl just because they don’t want to believe that the town golden boy is capable of rape.
  6. Out Of Breath by Rebecca Donovan.  Mostly because Emma’s story, and the abuse she suffered at the hands of her aunt, was so heartbreaking that all of the crying made it hard to read.
  7. This Much Is True by Katherine Owen.  It’s such a heartbreaking, angsty story that was hard to read at times, but it was so worth it.
  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman.  Because a book about a girl deciding to live or die is a hard book to read.
  9. And The Band Played On by Randy Shilts.  I know what AIDS is like now, but it was hard to read a book about the first few years of the AIDS epidemic.
  10. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  I felt like Hannah was far too willing to blame everyone else, and it made the book really hard to read, but I did like the message that your actions and words have more of an impact than you realize.

Audio Book Review: Spook

Spook CoverBook: Spook by Mary Roach, narrated by Bernadette Quigley

Published May 2008 by Brilliance Audio|Length: 8 hours, 34 minutes

Where I Got It: audible.com

Series: None

Genre: Adult Nonfiction- Science/Humor

You can find Spook on goodreads & Mary Roach on twitter and her website

Goodreads Summary: 

The best-selling author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadaversnow trains her considerable wit and curiosity on the human soul.

What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that’s that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my laptop?” In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die. She begins the journey in rural India with a reincarnation researcher and ends up in a University of Virginia operating room where cardiologists have installed equipment near the ceiling to study out-of-body near-death experiences. Along the way, she enrolls in an English medium school, gets electromagnetically haunted at a university in Ontario, and visits a Duke University professor with a plan to weigh the consciousness of a leech. Her historical wanderings unearth soul-seeking philosophers who rummaged through cadavers and calves’ heads, a North Carolina lawsuit that established legal precedence for ghosts, and the last surviving sample of “ectoplasm” in a Cambridge University archive.

What I Thought: 

Of the Mary Roach books I’ve listened to (Stiff and Gulp), I thought I’d give Spook a try.  It seemed interesting and quirky enough, which seems to fit Mary Roach’s style, but it wasn’t as compelling or as interesting as I thought it would be.

I like that she took a more scientific approach to the afterlife, and the book has her trademark humor.  I definitely couldn’t help but laugh a few times.  Nothing really stood out to me as particularly interesting or memorable- other than the first chapter, where she spends time with someone in India researching reincarnation, the chapter where she spends some time at a medium school and how she felt out of place, and the bit about how people who had near-death experiences/out-of-body experiences kept seeing shoes.

I liked that each chapter was devoted to something different, and I liked that she focused on how people used to see death and the afterlife.  But I also felt like it was much more skewed to the past than the present, and I wish more of the present was included.

As for the narration, I really liked Bernadette Quigley!  I really pictured Mary Roach with Quigley narrating.  Quigley does do the occasional accent, and I can see that irritating some people, but it didn’t really bother me.

Let’s Rate It:

Overall, Stiff turned out to be just okay.  It’s interesting, but not a lot was very memorable to me, and I’m not sure if a scientific approach to the afterlife is necessarily the best approach.  Roach does bring a lot of humor to the topic, though. Spook gets 2 stars.

Audio Book Review: You Look Different In Real Life

You Look Different In Real Life CoverBook: You Look Different In Real Life by Jennifer Castle, narrated by Samantha Quan

Published June 2013 by HarperAudio|Length: 8 hours, 29 minutes

Where I Got It: Audible.com

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

You can find You Look Different In Real Life on goodreads & Jennifer Castle on Twitter, Facebook, and her website

Goodreads Summary: 

For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they’re real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There’d be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn’t feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what’s on film. They’ve all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else’s eyes.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what’s personal and what’s public aren’t always clear.

What I Thought:

You Look Different In Real Life (now known as You Look Different) is an interesting book, and I liked it a lot more than I thought!

I really like the premise of the book, which is really interesting!  It seems really familiar, and I think there’s an actual series of documentaries focusing on a group of people throughout their lives.  I liked seeing these kids who used to be friends deal with being friends and having to be around each other.  It really does highlight what it’s like to be in the spotlight, and to have your life out there for the world to see.

I didn’t particularly care for Justine- of the 5 kids, she was the least interesting to me, and while the story unfolded before her eyes, I just didn’t care for her story.  The other kids had some things to work through, and she’s the one who didn’t really seem to have anything to work through.  I mean, she did, because life at 16 didn’t seem to be what she hoped it would be, but in comparison to Rory, who’s on the autism spectrum, Keira, who’s mom walked out on her family, Nate, who used to be bullied, and Felix, who’s gay, but not out and the son of immigrants (well, I think that’s his family back story- I can’t remember if it was specifically stated, but at the very least, English seemed to be his parents second language)…Justine’s story seems to pale in comparison.

With such a large cast of characters, each one did have their own story, which kind of surprised me, because you’d think they wouldn’t stand out.  At the same time, though, with 5 different stories, each kid didn’t get a fully developed story.

Overall, the story of You Look Different was super predictable- the characters were what I expected, and the story also turned out how I expected.  For the most part, I didn’t mind, because I liked seeing Justine’s memories of the other kids and how they interacted with each other.  I also liked seeing how some of them worked things out by the end of the book.

The other thing that was too predictable in a fake kind of way was Felix…him being gay felt like it was in the book just for the sake of being in there.  I get he didn’t want to admit that he was gay, and that it would cause major problems with his parents- it is a story that needs to be told and I have no doubt that it’s likely a story a lot of kids could relate to, but it really did feel like it was there just to be there, and for me, that took away from it.

I do wish that we had an occasional chapter from one of the other kids- I know that Justine is narrating, and we see them through her eyes, but I think it’s a book that could have used a different perspective every once in a while.  And I would have liked to see Justine through someone else’s eyes.  Still, she does seem content to let things unfold around her and just observe.

As far as the audio goes, I thought Quan did fine with narrating the book- to be honest, her narration wasn’t something I paid a lot of attention to.  There are flashbacks and memories, but I felt like that was a little too confusing to actually listen to at times.

Let’s Rate It: 

I really did like You Look Different.  Castle has a talent for making characters compelling, even when they aren’t the main focus of the book.  There were a few things I didn’t like, which took away from the book a little, but overall, it’s an interesting read.  You Look Different In Real Life gets 4 stars.

Book Review: Crest

Crest CoverBook: Crest by Emma Raveling

Published September 2013 by Mandorla Publishing|442 pages

Where I Got It: the nook store

Series: Ondine #3

Genre: YA Paranormal

You can find Ondine on goodreads & Emma Raveling on Twitter, Facebook & her website

Goodreads Summary: 

Illusion. Power. Identity.

Tensions are reaching a fever pitch everywhere Kendra Irisavie turns.

Darkness settles over elementals as a new threat stirs suspicions of a betrayal from within. Details of recent events spread through Haverleau, prompting doubts over Irisavie leadership. The mysterious Selkie Kingdom finally opens its doors, but the gesture only fans the flames of division. And despite the perils involved, Kendra finds it difficult to ignore the demands of her heart.

As the body count rises, pressure also grows to shift the tides of war. The sondaleur is on the hunt, but tracking the Aquidae leader is the greatest challenge she’s ever faced. With the Shadow playing a deadly game of obsession and horror, Kendra’s best chance to win is to unravel a tangled web of deception spanning back to the origins of the elemental world.

Nothing is what it seems and the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her pursuit for answers becomes.

When the unthinkable happens, Kendra must decide if survival is worth the sacrifice.

Conflicting loyalties, fierce passions, and irrevocable choices ignite in the electrifying third installment of the Ondine Quartet.

What I Thought:

I can’t believe the direction that Crest took!  I wasn’t expecting anything that happened in this book, and this series keeps getting better with every book that comes out.  I’m really looking forward to the next book, but at the same time, I don’t want it to end.

I was hoping for more time at the Ondine community that Kendra is staying at when the book starts, and to see what it’s really like.  I know there are a few novellas, so it’s possible that we see more of that community in at least one of them.  But I still wish we got to see an Ondine community besides Haverleau.  And I also liked seeing the Selkie kingdom, even though I didn’t really get a good sense of what it looked like.

There were so many twists and turns, and there’s a lot I didn’t see coming.

This is where it gets spoiler-y, because I have to talk about the end of the book- so this may be a good time to jump down to my rating for a general idea of what I thought.

So…the Shadow is clearly someone we know.  I have no clue who it could be, and it really could be anyone.  I wasn’t expecting the Shadow to have infiltrated Haverleau so well, but it’s honestly not that surprising. Julian, Gabe, Nexa and Jeeves were the first people who came to mind.  Julian, because he’s so damn mysterious (and also sort of an ass).  Gabe, because of everything that’s happened in Billow and Crest.  Nexa, because she’s Kendra’s mentor .  And Jeeves, because of his position in Haverleau’s government.  And for some reason, Rhian comes to mind, but I have no idea why. But I feel like they’re the obvious choices, which means it could be someone else.

Crest ended on such a cliffhanger, with Kendra and her friends realizing that the eyes of the Shadow were really familiar- and that’s all we get, so we’ll definitely learn who the Shadow is in Breaker.  I was definitely staring at my Nook, in disbelief over how it ended.  And I’m going to feel so stupid when we do learn who the Shadow is: it’s definitely going to make sense when we do get that piece of information.

Let’s Rate It:

I didn’t love Crest, but it’s such a great addition to the series, and I think it’s my favorite book in the series.  I’m so curious about how things are going to turn out, and I really like how much Kendra has changed since we first met her in Whirl.  Crest gets 4 stars.  

Book Review: Billow

Billow CoverBook: Billow by Emma Raveling

Published July 2012 by Mandorla Publishing|308 pages

Where I Got It: Nook store

Series: Ondine Quartet #2

Genre: YA Paranormal

You can find Billow on goodreads & Emma Raveling on Twitter, Facebook & her website

Goodreads Summary: 

It has been six months since ondine Kendra Irisavie arrived in Haverleau, the hidden capital of the water elemental world.

Six months since she discovered her destiny as the sondaleur.

Six months since a series of devastating events left behind their mark. 

Now, as she enters the chevalier elite program in her final year at Lumiere Academy, Kendra continues forward on her prophesied journey against the Shadow. Obsessed with what she must do to keep those around her safe, she struggles to balance her powerful magic and the demands of her fate with the challenges of friendship, the complications of romance, and the bonds of family. 

Meanwhile, the threat of the Shadow looms larger. Kendra and her friends investigate a series of puzzling human and elemental disappearances in the city of Lyondale and uncover a horrifying tactic used by the Aquidae in the war.

When danger strikes close to home, Kendra must separate the truths from the lies and choose who and what to believe. 

Even if it means facing what she fears the most.

What I Thought:

I really liked Billow!  It’s such a great sequel to Whirl, and I just love this world.

As far as paranormal books go, this series is definitely different.  I love that it focuses on elementals- and water ones, which is really cool to me!  I liked seeing Kendra finally accept and make peace with being the sondaleur (or at least, make some good progress with accepting it) and she really struggled with everything that’s happened so far.

I thought she was still a bit too independent and willing to run off into danger by herself, but I liked that she finally started to realize that she needed help from others.  I really don’t blame her for being hellbent on revenge, with everything going on, and surprisingly, it wasn’t as irritating or annoying as I was expecting.  I think it’s because she finally realized that she needed help, and couldn’t do it on her own.  She did struggle, and that made her feel much more real to me than she did in Whirl, so it’s nice to see that change in her.

There were times when I was trying not to cry, because it’s a much more emotional book than I was expecting.  All of the characters had to go through so much and I feel like I understand them so much better after reading Billow.  I felt like there’s so much more to the characters than we see, and it was particularly noticeable with Tristan and Julian- but with Julian especially.  There were quite a few things that surprised me with Julian, but also with some of the other characters too, so I’m glad that they really came to life in Billow.

As for the romance, I think Julian is slowly edging out Tristan.  Mostly because Tristan is a selkie prince, and I have no clue how that would work out for both of them.  I do think Tristan understands what Kendra is going through, to a certain extent, but after this book, I think Kendra and Julian are a much better fit for each other.

Oh, and we get our first true glimpse of the Shadow!  I’m nervous for Kendra, but I want her to take down the Shadow so very much.  And I’d actually love to see the other elemental communities!  You hear about them, so I’m hoping I’m not disappointed when we get to visit them in the next book.

Let’s Rate It:

I’m really looking forward to reading Crest, the next book in the series!  Billow is a great sequel (much better than a lot of sequels/second books) and I’m really looking forward to seeing Kendra’s journey continue. Billow gets 4 stars.

ARC Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell Ourselves CoverBook: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Expected Publication is September 30, 2014 by Harlequin Teen|Expected Number Of Pages: 376

Where I Got It: I got a digital advanced copy from netgalley.com, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction- Civils Rights/GLBT

You can find Lies We Tell Ourselves on goodreads & Robin Talley on Twitter, Facebook, and her website

Goodreads Summary: 

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

What I Thought:

Lies We Tells Ourselves is such a great book!  I definitely recommend, and I’m so glad I read it!

It’s so realistic, and even though the book is fiction, it’s something I can picture happening.  I really liked the changes that Linda had to deal with, and I liked that she did change her mind as she spent more time with Sarah, and after a few events that she witnessed since her school had to integrate. As for Sarah, I felt like her story and personal growth didn’t happen to the degree that it happened with Linda, and that she didn’t really seem to get why integration was so hard for her classmates.

I love that both girls narrated the story, because you got to see both sides of the story, and that it’s not focused on side. Anytime I read a book that focuses on desegregating schools, I’m really struck by the fact that it really wasn’t that long ago that it happened- and that it’s a story that’s still relevant today.  There’s no doubt that some schools still get so much less than others, and that there is still a lot of tension in terms of race.  We’ve come a long way since than, but we still have a ways to go.

It really was hard to read at times, knowing that the things that happened in the book were things that happened, and it made me so angry at people.  But I also found myself rooting for Sarah and Linda because I wanted Sarah to be who she was.  It’s the same with Linda, and I was glad to see her change her mind.  It really is a good reminder that things were bad, and that they were a lot worse in some parts of the country.

I also liked seeing Linda and Sarah deal with their feelings for each other.  It worked so well with everything else going on, and it made the story much more interesting.  It’s not something I normally think of when it comes to integrating schools, but it did add something that I can’t place my finger on or even begin to describe.  Still, I think one of the big reasons why it worked so well is that you really see how far we’ve come on for so many things.

Each chapter started off with a lie, and I thought that brought everything together so well, because you got such a good picture of the different challenges that the characters faced throughout the book.  I also liked that Ruth, Sarah’s younger sister, narrated a chapter at the end of the book.  It would have been interesting to see her narrate part of the book, but I liked that she narrated a chapter because you really get the sense that it’s all going to be worth it in the end, and that everything they went through that year meant something.

Let’s Rate It:

I really liked Lies We Tell Ourselves!  It was predictable but I didn’t mind because the characters are memorable, and a lot of what happened was so horrifying because it’s so recent and vivid.  I didn’t fall in love with it, but it’s such an important read. Lies We Tell Ourselves gets 4 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Fall To Read List

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books On My Fall To Read List

So, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately- which I think I may be coming out of- so working on a fall to-read list seems a little weird, but I’m also hoping that at least one of the following books will help me out.

  1. Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis.  I’ve added this one to my currently reading shelf, so technically, I’m reading it…even though I actually haven’t started yet.  But I’m still excited to read this one ever since I first heard about, and I’m really looking forward to reading the advance copy I have!
  2. You Look Different In Real Life by Jennifer Castle.  I’m really intrigued by the idea of a movie being made about a few kids every few years…I think it’d be great to listen to, but it’ll have to wait until I have some time to listen to an audio book.
  3. Silk Is For Seduction by Loretta Chase.  I’ve been meaning to read more Loretta Chase, and I’ve had this one for ages.
  4. Isla And The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.  I just need a cute, fun YA contemporary romance, and I think Isla fits the bill perfectly.
  5. City Of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.  Right now, I’m in a YA paranormal mood, plus, I want to see how some things get resolved.
  6. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith.  I really need to read more Jennifer E. Smith.
  7. Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols.  I also need to read more Jennifer Echols, and I think this music-centered book is right up my alley.
  8. Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh.  I’ve heard such good things about her books that it’s about time I start reading her!
  9. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  I’ve been really nervous to read this book, but I’m going to have to get over it, and read it this fall.
  10. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages, and I need to stop putting it off.

Book Review: The Princes In The Tower

The Princes In The Tower CoverBook: The Princes In The Tower by Alison Weir

Published March 1997 by Pimlico|287 pages

Where I Got It: borrowed

Series: None

Genre: Adult Nonfiction/British History

You can find The Princes In The Tower on goodreads & Alison Weir on her website

Goodreads Summary: 

The story of the death, in sinister circumstances, of the boy-king Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, is one of the most fascinating murder mysteries in English history. It is a tale with profound moral and social consequences, rich in drama, intrigue, treason, scandal and violence. In this gripping book Alison Weir re-examines all the evidence – including that against the Princes’ uncle, Richard III. She brilliantly reconstructs the whole chain of events leading to their murder and reveals how, why and by whose order they died.

What I Thought:

I’ve been meaning to read The Princes Of The Tower for quite a while, so it’s about time I actually read it!  I liked it but not as much as I thought I would.

As much as I love Weir, it’s a book you need to go into with some knowledge of the time period and the people.  I’ve read several books about the Tudors, but I know very little of the events that led to the Tudors taking the throne, so for a few chapters, I felt really confused by all of the names and events.

It definitely felt like Weir set out to prove that Richard III was the one behind the mysterious murders of the two Princes, and it did feel like Weir didn’t go into this as objectively as one would think.  She does make some good points, and Richard III does seem like the likeliest suspect, but I don’t know that he’s as evil as Weir would make him out to be.

Still, it’s a really good overview of the time, and the events that led to the reign of Henry VII.  There is quite a bit of information, and I like that Weir mentions sources from that time period.  I did get the sense that there’s not a lot we know, and that some of the sources may be sketchy.  Still, with some of the things that have come out over the last few years, with the discovery of Richard III’s grave, I’d be curious to see a more updated book.

Let’s Rate It:

The Princes In The Tower was an interesting read, and it’s a good overview of the time.  It did seem slightly biased against Richard III and it’s not the best for people who aren’t super familiar with the time period.  It still has some interesting things to think about.  The Princes In The Tower get 3 stars.

ARC Book Review: Queen Of Hearts, Volume Two: The Wonder

Queen Of Hearts, Volume 2 CoverBook: Queen Of Hearts, Volume Two: The Wonder by Colleen Oakes

Expected Publication is September 23, 2014 by Sparkpress|Expected Number Of Pages: 238

Where I Got It: read on the kindle app, via netgalley.com.  This hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: The Queen Of Hearts Saga #2

Genre: YA Fantasy/Alice In Wonderland Re-telling

You can find Queen Of Hearts, Volume 2 on goodreads & Colleen Oakes on TwitterFacebook and her website

Goodreads Summary: 

An Exiled Princess.
An Ancient Tribe.
A Dangerous Stranger with Unknown Loyalties. 

Dinah, the former Princess of Wonderland Palace, has been chased into the wilds of Wonderland after the brutal murder of her brother and the ruin of her impending crown. Now, as her half-sister Vittiore sits on the throne beside her Father, the brutal King of Hearts, Dinah finds herself alone in the forbidding Twisted Wood with only Morte, a homicidal beast, for company. 

Hunted by the King and his army of Cards, Dinah struggles to evade those who long for her head, including Cheshire, the King’s clever advisor, who is slowly tightening his grasp around her. Spurred on by her rising terror, the former Princess finds herself at the center of a web of conspiracy reaching far beyond the Palace and deep into the mysterious Yurkei mountain tribes.

Even with the balance of an entire Kingdom at stake, Dinah knows something that her allies and enemies do not: that the most dangerous conflict of all has already begun as she battles the enticing rage that beckons her ever closer as love slips further from her grasp.

The second book in the bestselling and award-winning Queen of Hearts Saga, The Wonder takes readers back to the most wondrous and curious places in Wonderland, and continues this darkly addictive tale featuring one of the most infamous villains of all time.

But be warned…not every fairy tale has a happy ending.

This is the story of a princess who became a villain.

What I Thought:

I am such a fan of this series!  I love seeing Dinah and her journey to becoming Queen Of Hearts.  This is such a dark book, but I loved seeing a different part of Wonderland in this book.  It really is a vivid, dark place than you’d ever think possible, and I like that we’re getting the story of a villain and their path to become the villain we all know from the book.

There are quite a few things we learn in this book, and everything started making so much more sense- things definitely start falling into place, and this book is where Dinah goes from scared girl we see in the first book to the young women determined to take back the throne we see in this one.  She’s really changed, and her journey is far from over.

Some of my suspicions from The Crown were revealed in this one, and there’s so much more I want to know…like, I’m pretty sure that some of what we learn will have a huge impact on Dinah in the next book, but what we have yet to find out are the details.  I just don’t know how to talk about things while not giving anything away, so I’ll have to settle for being vague for the moment.

I really do feel for Dinah, and she’s such a sympathetic character.  And Morte!  He’s really taken me by surprise, and he’s a great character.  And the Yurkei and the Spades…there are so many characters I really feel for, and I don’t blame them for acting the way they do.  I’d feel the same way if I were them.  I really do feel like I understand the characters a lot better- even the ones I still don’t like!

I’m really excited for the next book, and I can’t for it to come out!

Let’s Rate It:

I really do like this series!  It’s such a different take on Alice In Wonderland, and Oakes does such a great job at making you root for some characters and hate other characters.  I love how dark it is and how you can see so easily how a character becomes a villain.  The Wonder gets 4 stars.

ARC Book Review: Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel And The Pulse Of History

Mademoiselle CoverBook: Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel And The Pulse Of History by Rhonda Garelick

Expected Publication is September 30, 2014 by Random House|Expected Number Of Pages: 608

Where I Got It: from netgalley.com, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-fiction/Biography/Fashion

You can find Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel And The Pulse Of History on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

Certain lives are at once so exceptional, and yet so in step with their historical moments, that they illuminate cultural forces far beyond the scope of a single person. Such is the case with Coco Chanel, whose life offers one of the most fascinating tales of the twentieth century—throwing into dramatic relief an era of war, fashion, ardent nationalism, and earth-shaking change—here brilliantly treated, for the first time, with wide-ranging and incisive historical scrutiny.

Coco Chanel transformed forever the way women dressed. Her influence remains so pervasive that to this day we can see her afterimage a dozen times while just walking down a single street: in all the little black dresses, flat shoes, costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, and tortoiseshell eyeglasses on women of every age and background. A bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume is sold every three seconds. Arguably, no other individual has had a deeper impact on the visual aesthetic of the world. But how did a poor orphan become a global icon of both luxury and everyday style? How did she develop such vast, undying influence? And what does our ongoing love of all things Chanel tell us about ourselves? These are the mysteries that Rhonda K. Garelick unravels in Mademoiselle.

Raised in rural poverty and orphaned early, the young Chanel supported herself as best she could. Then, as an uneducated nineteen-year-old café singer, she attracted the attention of a wealthy and powerful admirer and parlayed his support into her own hat design business. For the rest of Chanel’s life, the professional, personal, and political were interwoven; her lovers included diplomat Boy Capel; composer Igor Stravinsky; Romanov heir Grand Duke Dmitri; Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster; poet Pierre Reverdy; a Nazi officer; and several women as well. For all that, she was profoundly alone, her romantic life relentlessly plagued by abandonment and tragedy.

Chanel’s ambitions and accomplishments were unparalleled. Her hat shop evolved into a clothing empire. She became a noted theatrical and film costume designer, collaborating with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Luchino Visconti. The genius of Coco Chanel, Garelick shows, lay in the way she absorbed the zeitgeist, reflecting it back to the world in her designs and in what Garelick calls “wearable personality”—the irresistible and contagious style infused with both world history and Chanel’s nearly unbelievable life saga. By age forty, Chanel had become a multimillionaire and a household name, and her Chanel Corporation is still the highest-earning privately owned luxury goods manufacturer in the world.

In Mademoiselle, Garelick delivers the most probing, well-researched, and insightful biography to date on this seemingly familiar but endlessly surprising figure—a work that is truly both a heady intellectual study and a literary page-turner.

What I Thought:

When I saw this biography on netgalley, I was intrigued because I know the name, but not the person behind the name. Unfortunately, I didn’t like Mademoiselle as much as I thought.

It was very interesting to how she got into fashion, and what her early life was like.  It did get very repetitive at times- it was tiring to read that Chanel wanted to re-write her own life over and over and over.  Mademoiselle was very detailed and had a lot of information- too much information for me.  There were times when I skimmed the book (mostly at the end of the book), just because I couldn’t take in any more details.  For me, there was so much detail that nothing really stood out to me. Sometimes it felt like names and events were thrown at me.  And it felt much more like we got all of the different people and events that had an influence on Chanel personally and professionally, and not a lot about Chanel.  I know that they all had a big impact on her life, but I wish I walked away with a better sense of Chanel.

I did like that there were photos and quotes from Chanel herself scattered throughout the book.  It made Chanel much more real to see her own words throughout the book.  It also seemed like a very objective look at Chanel’s life, but as a result, it seemed a little dry, and I would have liked the little something extra that seemed missing.  I do think anyone who’s curious about Chanel and anyone who’s into fashion will like this book.

Let’s Rate It:

Mademoiselle got a little too detailed and was a little too repetitive at times, which made it okay for me.  It’s still an interesting look at the person who started this huge and iconic company.  Mademoiselle gets 2 stars.