Monday, January 31, 2011

review: The Botticelli Secret

The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato
Published: St. Martin's Griffin (2010)
Pages: 528 pages
Source: Borrowed from library

Luciana Vetra is making her way through the world by working the streets of Venice. And when her best client ask her to pose for Sandro Botticelli, a local artist, Luciana obliges. She spends a few hours modeling, making small talk with the artist and then, as she leaves, steals a small miniature of the painting she posed for--La Primavera.

Worst. Mistake. Ever.

Within hours of the theft, the two people closest to Lucia are murdered and Luciana is forced to ask for help from a humble monk, Brother Guido. They escape and upon examining the miniature, they unravel a plot involving all the city-states of Italy. They travel across the country, gathering clues. When all is made clear, Luciana and Guido find themselves on opposite sides of Italy with one goal in mind. They must reunite and save the victim of La Primavera.

My thoughts: This book combined all of my favorite things--traveling, art and history. La Primavera is one of my favorite paintings and while in Europe I studied some of Botticelli's works for my Italian Renaissance class. Italy wasn't on my itinerary, but in Fiorato's book, one can travel the country before it became the united Italia. Traveling from Venice, Lucia and Guido visit Pisa, Florence, Rome and other cities in Italy.

Fiorato's use of the painting was wonderful and the plot was amazing. Luciana and Guido are my favorite type of characters--they have a great love/hate relationship. They struggle throughout the novel to find ways to communicate, as well as trust one another. Destiny seems set on pulling them apart, but at each new locale they are driven closer together.

This is a great novel for anyone who loves art, Italy or historical fiction.

Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Bought: Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Borrowed from library: The Iron King by Julie Kawaga

review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cochn and David Levithan
Published: Knopf (October 26, 2010)
Pages: 272
Source: Borrowed from library

Short Summary:'s Christmas time in the city. And for Lily and Dash this holiday season means empty apartments and open schedules. For Lily, this is awful. Christmastime is for family and presents and decorations and CAROLING. For Dash, it's a nice break from his parents and their significant others. Worlds will collide, however, when Dash unearths a red Moleskin notebook on the shelves of the Strand, NYC's famous bookstore.

Inside the notebook Dash finds a series of clues. Clues written by Lily which will lead to a city-wide scavenger hunt as Lily and Dash shuffle the Moleskin back and forth. They hit up some of New York's most iconic Christmas spots and with exchange learn more about each other.

As more is revealed, Dash and Lily both began to wonder: what if this relationship is better left on paper?

My thoughts: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares immediately caught by eye. I'm a big fan of Cohn and Levithan's other two collaborations-- Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List. And I love the fast-paced movement of the New York setting. I <3 NY.

The characters in this novel are fun and quirky--and stereotypical. Lily is the sensitive, sheltered introvert and Dash is the analytic bookworm. Little quirks brighten their characters and made both of them likable. Having a great cast of supporting characters helps as well-- Lily's cousin might be my favorite character in the book.

This book is also where I got the title for my blog, in a place where Dash described himself..."I was horribly bookish, to the point of coming right out and saying it, which I knew was not socially acceptable. I particularly loved the adjective bookish, which I found other people used about as often as ramrod or chum or teetotaler."

This book is a fun quick read that really put me in the holiday spirit--and pining for a December trip to the Big Apple.

Rating: 3 Stars

Saturday, January 29, 2011

review: The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Published: Hyperion (October 12, 2010)
Pages: 557
Source: Gift from my husband at Christmas

Short Summary: Jason, Piper and Leo are troubled kids. Sent to Wilderness School due to their bad behavior, they have never really fit in--at home or school. Leo has ran away from every foster home he has lived, trying to outrun his past. Piper, trying to grab the attention of her movie star dad, steals.

And Jason? Jason doesn't remember a thing. Much less why he is on a bus to the Grand Canyon, where the beginning of the novel takes place.

But all some will be made clear when Jason, Leo and Piper, after a crazy battle at the Grand Canyon, find themselves residents of Camp Half-Blood--home of the demi-gods. Filled with familiar characters from the Percy Jackson series, Camp Half-Blood soon provides the trio with answers they are looking for. Piper learns who her mother is and Leo finds out the sources of his power. But Jason's memory hasn't returned and why does he feel so out of place at camp, when Piper and Leo fit in so well?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed reading The Lost Hero. As a big fan of Percy Jackson, I was happy to see Riordan use the same settings but create a very different experience. Even though I knew about several of the characters, I never felt bored or that Riordan was repeating any story lines.

The Lost Hero combines Greek mythology with Roman in way that makes it easy to understand and keep track of the different gods and goddess. Riordan expands to the world he has created-- adding layers and complexity for his new hero: Jason. Jason was a great character. Confused and misplaced, he uses instinct and observation to guide him through his "new" world. The author does a great job at keeping the reader in suspense about Jason's past.

Leo and Piper's characters are not as hard to figure out. Piper has been ignored most of her life--by the mother she never knew and her dad who is always busy with a new project. Her natural ability to charmspeak, or talk people into whatever she wants, has left her relationship with her dad shaky, even though they are close. She is also fiercely loyal to her friends. So when a series of dreams tells Piper she will have to chose between her friends or her family, Piper must learn to trust other with her secrets.

Leo was such a fun character. He's ability to make to build almost anything was helpful, along with a magical tool belt which always seem to have what the three need. And his pet dragon Fetus was a great companion. Leo's not without dark secrets thought. Possessing a power to that may or may not have cost his mother her life, Leo is trying to figure out how clues from his past will dictate his future.

Overall, a good read and I think Riordan does a really nice job of combining old with new. He also leaves the reader wanting answers at the end. Book 2, Son of Neptune, is tentatively set to come out this fall!

3.5 stars

Friday, January 28, 2011

For the weekend

"There is no friend as loyal as a book."
Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, January 27, 2011

currently reading: Cleopatra

I'm reading Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra for my 2011 Non-Fiction Reading Challenge.

I chose this book because 1) The cover is beautiful! Do you see all those pearls? and 2) I don't know much about Cleopatra, aside from ruling Egypt and the fact that Elizabeth Taylor played her in a movie.

I'm a little over half way, and it is fascinating!

Look for my review soon!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Published: Simon & Schuster (May 4, 2010)
Pages: 344
Source: Borrowed from the library

Short Summary: Amy's life is a mess. Her father is dead, her brother is in rehab and she's pretty sure her mother blames her for everything. Which is why she's left her across the country in California while she goes and starts a new life for them in Connecticut. Amy is finishing up her junior year of high school and living in the empty shell of her childhood home, dealing with the emotions and consequences that have fallen upon her in the last few months. When her mother calls to inform Amy that she's going to drive the car across the country with Roger, a friend's son, Amy's not sure what to expect.

What began as a quick trip to Connecticut ends up being an amazing road trip in which both Roger and Amy deal with past decisions and events, while learning more about themselves and each other.

My thoughts: I loved this book. Both Amy and Roger were great characters--very real and very funny. Matson really worked on making them believable characters. Amy could have quickly become a whiny character and Roger might have been too perfect--but that's not the case. Each have their own set of problems to deal with, but the friendship they create helps both of them grow throughout the story. The cast of supporting character was quirky and cute and I would love to hear more about each one of them.  On a side note, Bronwyn is a an awesome name.

The setting was awesome--a trip across America? I'm in. I was excited to see some places I have actually visited, like Colorado Springs and Wichita. In fact, my best friend is from Wichita and I called her to confirm some details :) There are also journal-type entries, like Roger's playlists and Amy's trip diary. I thought it was done tastefully, as it adds to the story without being childish. I also love that Amy loves Broadway show tunes... we could probably be best friends.

At the end of the book I felt satisfied. There were questions left, but life is never tied up in a nice neat bow, so why should Amy and Roger's story end that way?

I think the cover is great, and really captures the spirit of the story. It also kind of gives away the end :(

Rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wish I'd Read as a Kid

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday to participate it in and I love the topic! I worked as a circulation clerk at my local library for several years and I saw a lot of books that I wish I had read when I was younger come through. I've managed to read some of them as an adult, but there are still a few that I haven't read yet.

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I've tried to pick up these books in the last few years, but I just can't get into them. I've watched the movies and I've read some of C.S. Lewis's other works, but Narnia doesn't hold me. I think if I had read them as a child I would have really enjoyed them.

2. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls. I never read the books or watched the TV series. I kind of feel like I missed out on a piece of Americana.

3. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene. I was more of a Baby-Sitter's Club girl who dangled in Sweet Valley occasionally then a teenage sleuth. I recently watched the movie starring Emma Roberts and I thought it was a cute movie. My grandmother talks about reading these books as a young girl. I might look into picking up a Nancy Drew book or two soon.

4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. This looks like such a cute book and it's been in the back of my mind to read it for a while. I think they even have a movie now?

5. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. I'm not even sure how I missed this one, as I loved the animated video and the series. This is such a fun story and perfect for little girls (I'm thinking now that if might become birthday presents for some of my cousins). I also always wanted a pair of those crazy tights she wore. :)

6. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Truthfully, I did try reading this series after I finished The Hobbit. But in the time when a new Harry Potter was actually an option, Tolkien's use of language and his fantasy land just didn't appeal to me. I think I made it through the first chapter before I quite reading it. I wish I had been able to finish it, though. It's such a classic.

7. Chocolate War by Robert Corimer. I remember seeing this on the shelf at the small public library I would go to with my grandmother during the summers I stayed with her. But I never picked it up because I didn't want to read about this topic. Given the choice to read about the magic of Ella Enchanted or the heavier topic found in Chocolate War,  I went with the magic. I think that the Chocolate War would be a good addition to my 2011 reading list.

8. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. This is the only book that my husband claims to have read as a child---and I don't have a clue what it is about. So much for a book talk with him.

9.  Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.

10. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Both 9 and 10 are such classics. I really wish I had read a more diverse group of books as a child, including Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. I almost feel if I were to pick them up now I wouldn't grasp them well--I would have a "this-is-how-it-happens" reel going through my head (Thank you Disney).

Monday, January 24, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Books I bought:
Great Exceptions by Charles Dickens
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Both of these are in great condition and I bought them for TEN CENTS APIECE at my local library. Great Exceptions has this great, flexible leather binding, beautiful vellum pages and was published in 1953. I already own a copy of Little Women but I had to buy this copy because of the inscription inside:

OMG. I already love Grandmommy Brooks and I don't even know her.

Books I borrowed:
Cleopatra By Stacy schiff
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bloggiesta Update #3- The Finale

I can't believe Bloggiesta is almost over! I've learned so much and I can't wait to particapte again, after my blog has been going for a while.

One of the mini-challenges I did was create a Google Form. Jen for Devourer of Books gave a great post on the subject and decided to give it a try. Feel free to fill it out!

I also accomplished some of the list I started for Bloggiesta:

Create rating system
-Create review template
-Add 2011 Challenge page
-Read through Bloggiesta's Mini-Challenge and create list of things to add/work on
-Comment on blogs (Granted this is always an ongoing thing)
-Add blogs to blogroll-- I've add them to Google Reader, now it's time to add them to blogroll
-Create a new header (Done! With a favicon)
-Work on list of books to review
-Organize Goodreads lists (Started this project--wow there are a lot of books)
-Schedule blog post up to next Friday (Up to Wednesday--two more to go)
-Finish laundry so I can finish Anna and the French Kiss
-Learn more about Google Alerts
-Copyright blog (At bottom of blog)
-Organize bookshelves (Working on now)
-Look into details of traveling when we go meet MAUREEN JOHNSON (Since I'll technically blog about this, it counts right?)
-Request some books from library
-Find bookmark book (I have this really cool hollow book that I keep all my bookmarks in and it's not anywhere. ugh.)

I also wrote started some reviews for upcoming books, and tagged all my posts.

Thank you, Natasha, for hosting Bloggiesta and to all those who made mini-challenges and answered my questions. You made it a great weekend.

Heroine Love

I've been updating the site, adding features and writing reviews. I've also been working a bit on networking and writing comments on blogs. When I came across Devourer of Books,  I saw this awesome button on her sidebar which displayed quotes from some of my favorite novels. A bit of investigating lead me to this:

"I am very pleased to officially announce February the month of Heroine Love. For many, it’s a bitter month, or a swoony one, or just a normal one, but just once, this once, I want it to be all about love of literature and, of course, love of literary heroines.
How will we celebrate?  With guests, lots of them.  In fact, no fewer than twelve of my favorite book bloggers will be joining the blog throughout the month of February to extol, praise, and ruminate on the literary ladies who made them who they are today."

This sounds like a great event, and I'm really interested in seeing which literary heroines they will be writing about (The sidebar has a sample of some of them and I'm thrilled Jane Eyre is one of them!). 
There will be prizes at the end of the Heroine Love as well. I'll keep a watch out for more information and head on to The Heroine's Bookshelf to read more Heroine Love and Blackmore's book.

Bloggiesta Update #2

I'm really loving Bloggiesta-- I've come across so many great blogs and bloggers and I've learned so much about how to really get my blog moving. I didn't finish as much as I wanted to last night, but once I wrote my blog schedule out it really got me moving on writing blog posts. And I did get some things done--that's a plus.

There's my list of things to get done for Bloggiesta:

-Create rating system
-Create review template
-Add 2011 Challenge page
-Read through Bloggiesta's Mini-Challenge and create list of things to add/work on
-Comment on blogs (Granted this is always an ongoing thing)
-Add blogs to blogroll-- I've add them to Google Reader, now it's time to add them to blogroll
-Create a new header (Done! With a favicon)
-Work on list of books to review
-Organize Goodreads lists (Started this project--wow there are a lot of books)
-Schedule blog post up to next Friday (Up to Wednesday--two more to go)
-Finish laundry so I can finish Anna and the French Kiss
-Learn more about Google Alerts
-Copyright blog
-Organize bookshelves
-Look into details of traveling when we go meet MAUREEN JOHNSON (Since I'll technically blog about this, it counts right?)
-Request some books from library
-Find bookmark book (I have this really cool hollow book that I keep all my bookmarks in and it's not anywhere. ugh.)

Wish me and my Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi luck!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


As I've been working on the blog this weekend, I came across Bloggiesta--a weekend event all about working on your book blog and challenging yourself in making it better. I can't think of a better time to really work on Horribly Bookish then this weekend. There are mini-challenge and just a ton of great information in general. I love it!

Things to do for Bloggiesta (I'm going to go ahead and add what I have been doing/have done, since I've been working on this since yesterday):

-Create rating system
-Create review template
-Add 2011 Challenge page
-Read through Bloggiesta's Mini-Challenge and create list of things to add/work on
-Comment on blogs
-Add blogs to blogroll
-Create a new header
-Work on list of books to review
-Organize Goodreads lists
-Schedule blog post up to next Friday
-Finish laundry so I can finish Anna and the French Kiss

2011 Eastern Europe Reading Challenge

Another day, another challenge. This one is hosted by The Black Sheep Dances.

Check out this post for all the details and rules.

The 2011 Eastern Europe Reading Challenge will definitely push me in the direction of different books. I love reading books about different countries and places, but England, France and Italy seem to reign supreme in this aspect. While I have some knowledge of East Europe, I also can't point most of them out on the map. 

I'm going for the Tourist level on this challenge, with a goal of reading 4 books about Eastern Europe or written by authors from this region.

My selections for this challenge:

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerma (Poland)

Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin (Poland)

Death and the Penguin by Andrei Kurkov (Russia)

The Appointment: A Novel by Herta Müller (Romania)

I visited Poland in 2008, and I love reading about this country. A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka is a wonderful novel about Poland. I had recently heard about The Zoo Keeper's Wife and Push Not the River has been on my to-read list for a while. The other books are all based on recommendations found on Black Sheep Dances. Both sound good, and the summary on Goodreads for The Appointment makes me want to read it right now.

Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Non-Fiction Challenge

I've set a challenge on Goodreads to read 300 books this year (Only two down--I really need to get busy), but I saw this challenge on The Broke & The Bookish and I couldn't pass it up!

Check out this post for all the rules and details.

As I have an entire year for this challenge, I'm going to go ahead and try to read a book from 7 of the 9 categories.

Culture: Non-fiction books about different cultures, religions and foreign lands; memoirs & biographies count. The Girl from Foreign: A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Lost Loves, and Forgotten Histories by Sadia Shepard

Art: Non-fiction books about anything art related (painters, music, architecture, photography, dance, literature, film, etc.). Memoirs/biographies of any people related to the arts count. Degas in New Orleans: Encounters in the Creole World of Kate Chopin and George Washington Cable by Christopher Benfey

Medical: anything related to the medical field--industry memoirs, memoirs about illnesses (mental included) /diseases, etc. Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Haven by Susan Richards Shreve

Travel: travelogues, industry memoirs, travel guides, etc.  Mumbai To Mecca: A Pilgrimage to the Holy Sites of Islam by Ilija Trojanow

Memoir/Biography: Self explanatory. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

History: Anything history related-- events, biographies of historic figures, etc. Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber

I'm excited to be reading some books I own and haven't gotten to yet, like Queen of Fashion and The Girl from Foreign. I'm very interested in Warm Springs. My grandmother had polio as a child and besides the basic medical history of the virus I don't really know that much about it.

Ugh, just realized I didn't link up the right way. Sorry!

For the weekend

"To live is to war with trolls."
-Henrik Isben, author of A Doll's House

Thursday, January 20, 2011

currently reading: Anna and the French Kiss/Seven Ages of Paris

Two books about one of my favorite cities in the world...Paris!

First off is this gem of a YA book, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

Like some of other readers of this novel, I was a little put out by the cheesy title and the cover art. But after finding it again and again on "The Best Books of 2010" lists, I bit the bullet and ordered it with an Amazon gift card I had received for Christmas. And I'm really glad I did.

This is a great contemporary romance with a good cast of characters and an amazing city for a setting. I'm holding back on finishing it though. I'm using it as a bribe for myself...when I finish my laundry I can finish my book.

Good plan, no?

And book number (the book I carry with me and read at work during my lunch break), a histoire of Paris itself.

Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne covers the history of Paris from the early 1100s to the mid twenty-first century. Horne's book is drenched in knowledge of the City of Lights and broken into two to five page "essays", each with it's own heading.

Some parts, however, are easy to get through then others, and it's best to have a pen handy to take notes on which Louis or Henri did what. I've read up to the beginning of Louis the XIV's reign, and since I know a bit more about this time period in France then the past it's coming along much quicker.

By the way, the cover on this book is wonderful. It's paperback, with a canvas feel. The artwork has great brush strokes and it's a lovely portrait of Paris.

I love reading both of these books and reminiscing about my own trip to Paris in 2008.

If only there were more hours in the day to read.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

review: Matched

You know what I love about reading? Almost everyone reads SOMETHING. Magazines, newspapers, blogs, books, comics (or the funnies, as my grandma calls them). And everyone who reads something has an opinion on what is good and are willing to share that gem of info.

Such is the case with my new favorite book series, Matched, by Ally Condie. When I went to return Revolution (by Jennifer Donnelly) I took it by my favorite reference librarian to recommended to her teenage daughter. She, in turn, told me about Matched, and how said teenage daughter thought I might like it.

I read it.
I loved it.
I had to buy it.
I need to return the other copy to the library.

Cassia lives in a perfect world-- the Society runs it's citizens lives so each can live it to "optimal results." Everything is perfectly planned. Culture and arts have been streamlined-- there are a Hundred Poems, a Hundred Paintings, a Hundred Songs-- with less there is more time to enjoy it. And at seventeen you are "matched" to the person whom you will enter a Marriage Contract with. Cassia has waiting for this moment her whole life. It's wonderful. It's magical. Until something goes horribly wrong.

I'm not going to give any more of the book away, but it brought up so many good questions. What if you were in charge of choosing one hundred things and all the rest would be done away with? Could you? What songs, poems, books or paintings would you hope to see make the list?

And the "Matched" concept--do you think you could choose to Matched(All citizens may chose to be Matched or be Single)? Could you have enough faith to allow someone to make such an important decision? Would you be Matched with the person you are with today? (Oh no. On paper, my husband and I are about as compatible as lightning and an above-ground swimming pool)

The second book in the Matched trilogy, Crossed, comes out in November of 2011, and I'm sad about the long wait.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

See more reviews of Matched at Goodreads. Or be my friend.