Tuesday, August 30, 2011


So it's been an awfully long time, hasn't it? And instead of rattling off titles I've purchased with virtually no immediate plans to actually read them, I will just give y'all a general update. To start, the seasons are changing and the weather has certainly been changing, but it feels good to know that The Strand is still selling me way too many books than can possibly be good for my health, Borders is still in its final death throes and our crazy summer on the east coast is also winding down to a hopefully quiet, contemplative autumn. So without further ado, here is what I've been up to most recently in booklife:

The latest Lauren Oliver Delirium. Great but still have softer spot for the previous hit Before I Fall.
Kimberly Derting's debut, The Body Finder. Good but not great enough to read sequels.

I am so proud of having finished not one, but two library books in the space of a weekend (granted it was a hurricane weekend), and hope that's a sign of things to come. I'm already overloaded with the library queue, a list made up when I probably felt like buying stuff and just didn't have the cash. Up-and-coming, promising pick from the library is Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs. Anyone read?

And that's it in a very small nutshell.  If you're on the coast, let me know how you're books have weathered the storm!


Monday, May 30, 2011

Words from the Well, 11

As always, this post is brought to you in part by The Story Siren whose In My Mailbox is way more impressive and well, you should just go see her blog.

And it's officially (or un-officially 'cuz it's not yet) Supernatural Summer at the Reader's Well again!  Welcome to the latest Words from the Well, the latest batch of acquisitions. The TBR pile has turned into an entire bookcase, I will have you know - and that's not just one shelf, but 5 shelves full, books piled behind and above each other.  The situation is dire, my friends. Where shall we begin?

So I'll answer that for you and list all I've bought and a little bit of the why.  Maybe the new blog name should be Greediest Bookworm Ever.
Edited to Add --
From the corner stand:
Our Lady of the Forest - David Guterson sounds interesting, girl sees visions, creates craziness
On the Prowl- Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, Sunny  for Pat Briggs story!

From The Strand:
The Claiming Of Sleeping Beauty - The First Of The Classic Erotic Trilogy Of Sleeping Beauty - Anne Rice (writing as A.N. Roquelaure) can't wait for more Anne Rice, it's been too long!
A Midsummer Night's DreamVixen (The Flappers)Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, Book 2) - Anne Rice  should really get the first one too
Walking With the Night: The Afro-Cuban World of Santeria - Raul Canizares short with awesome cover
The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters not Affinity but that's ok
The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story - Richard Preston wanting to read this for a while
Nieve - Terry Griggs looks weirdly awesome
The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire SlayerA Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare yup it's that time!
The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer - Lucy Weston heard good things
Vixen (The Flappers) - Jilian Larkin nice cover & flappers!

From Paperbackswap:
Paradise Kiss Vol 1- Ai Yazawa  tricked into getting more Manga! we'll see...
Paradise Kiss, Vol. 2- Ai Yazawa tricked again!!
The Sacred Pool- L. Warren Douglas started this while ago, never finished

From the corner stand:
Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim, Book OneThe Elementals- Morgan Llywelyn $1!!

Oh and something from Borders thanks to coupons:
Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim, Book One - Anne Rice to go with Of Love and Evil, of course

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Prodigal Summer

Blog Update:  I know what you're thinking -- no I have not blog-faded. Did I consider taking a break, yes, but am I going to do that? No. I like having you guys around too much, I'm so ego-driven.  But while I took a short pause, I reflected on the blog a little and decided it's time for a change. In future blog which may or may not be called the Reader's Well which if you haven't noticed by now, means absolutely nothing, we'll have a new design up, some new gadgets/features and just more content having to do with books and all manner of things related and not-so-related. Hopefully we'll create a more fun place to drop in and relax, and content that's more true to what I want to write/post as a blogger and depending on your feedback, what you'd like to see every day.

Prodigal Summer: A NovelAnyway, that's all for a quieter time than right now, so I'll leave you with a quick review of my latest, Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer.  I read the first 100 pages or so of this years ago, and had to return it to the library (yep one of those) - but in that short time, I picked up on Kingsolver's style and her devotion to the natural world and how people's lives are, or become, caught up in their various environments, and loved every word she wrote about it.  In this, her 9th book, she tells 3 stories that take place simultaneously in the beautiful landscape of Appalachia:
  • Moth Love, about a young newlywed woman who moved out of her city life to make way for farming with her husband in a close-knit rural area, where she becomes an outcast, a foreigner to both the family and the culture she's married into.
  • Predators, about a middle-aged biologist woman who for the love of nature has chosen to live alone in the middle of the Zebulon forest, or alone until she is approached by a man who turns out to represent everything she loathes about the world of people she has left.
  • Old Chestnuts, about an elderly man who has lived his whole life on a farm that has been partially usurped by his annoying organic neighbor who refuses to let him have his way with people and bugs and plants alike.
Sound fun? It's fun. The novel is packed with moments of clarity experienced by these characters that jump out at you and make you want to cry for them and fight for them.  And it is not necessarily the 3 main characters you will most understand at any given time. You're in for a treat with Kingsolver if you like a good story about our connections with the world around us, in all its plentiful forms, and some scrumptious descriptions of forests, farms and bug-life that might even sweep the city folk off their feet.  Recommended; although I am hoping for a little more story-and-suspense-wise with The Poisonwood Bible - also on my TBR shelf for this year.  Can't wait!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mathilda Savitch

Mathilda Savitch: A NovelThe beer is almost like gratitude in a bottle, says 13-year-old Mathilda SavitchReally?  Okay so this was not the greatest book I've ever read.  But I'd heard some bad things about it before I started and was actually surprised because I liked some of it.  And then it came to parts like this, that sounded more like an old dude was talking than a tween girl, and I just had to put the book aside at those times.  However I did finish it and promise you that the story is not a bad one.  With a slightly different take on the character's perspective attached to a somewhat more exciting pace, this could have been much a better YA book about a young girl dealing with unimaginable trauma. The way it is, you will probably feel for Mathilda in some places and just jump out of the story suddenly, like say what? in others.  I don't often read books about teen girls written by men, and not to say that I won't, but I wonder what it could've been like written by a female.  This has got nothing on Before I Fall and other awesome books like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (this one not reviewed on the blog unfortunately).

So it's been the doldrums here with nary a great book to speak of in the last couple weeks. But now I'm onto Barbara Kingsolver to nip that in the bud!  Check out the next review coming for her Prodigal Summer.  Just in time for our awesome weather too!  Oh yes, we're excited!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pandora Hearts -- An Adventure in Manga

Pandora Hearts, Vol. 1Pandora Hearts, Vol. 1 by Jun Mochizuki.  This is my first Manga, and while I wasn't urged to read this book specifically, I have a friend out there (helloo Frannie!) who is also new to Manga and totally into it.  But I am sure glad I only got the one volume without being greedy like usual, because I don't expect to be reading any more Mangas in the near future.  It's just not my thing.  The storyline was promising as anything - who doesn't like Alice in Wonderland?  Fish out of water?  Japanese art?  Who never read comics as a kid?  I loved my Marvel Barbie comics, myself.  There was a real special one where Barbie goes to the pyramids of Egypt, that I think my brother screwed up somehow and my dad had to iron the covers out.  A precious gem, that!

Pandora Hearts, not so precious.  I couldn't follow the story, and even less the characters -- I get that one has black hair and the other some kind of white-blonde (the graphics are of course black-and-white), but then all of a sudden, there's another black-haired character!  And then another white-haired character!  And for some reason they all seemed to be wearing old-timey European clothes -- I'm not smart on the actual fashions of "ancient Japanese styles" but I was expecting something at least remotely foreign-seeming, and that's kinda what drew me to the Mangas.  Instead I got a slip-shod story with some all-right-I-guess-it's-good? artwork (not familiar with degrees of good-ness, sorry), and characters that were actually pretty annoying where they were actually decipherable in the mess.  I guess the author liked Carroll's Alice and punched out a couple strange, senseless turns of events and voila.  Maybe I'm not indie enough or something.  Thoughts? Anyone want to hit me over the head with Paradise Kiss, perhaps?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blonde Roots

Blonde Roots - Bernardine Evaristo

Blonde RootsThis is a slave's story, but not quite the one you're expecting.  In Evaristo's tale, the blacks have become the slave-traders and the whites, slaves. Doris, a poor, young English serf living on her family's farm under their feudal lord's yoke circa 19th-century, is captured by Aphrikan slave-traders and subsequently forced to endure a life of slavery as in reality so many black Africans experienced. The reader is swept through Doris' shock of capture, first experiences of servitude in a strange land, the incredible disease and death during the Middle Passage route to Amarika and a life of complete despair as a whyte slave among many in "New Ambossa" where Doris finally lands. This will read like the slave narratives you're probably familiar with from school, but so much more vivid and lifelike. The pages turn themselves as Evaristo's beautiful descriptions of life in then-Aphrika and New Ambossa reveal cultures "whyte" and "blak" and perspectives that become almost interchangeable between the two races. Truths about human nature surpass both color and culture in narratives rich with Doris' observations of her peers in slavery and the often hilarious takes on the slave drivers and masters. I even found myself forgetting the cultures (and skin colors) of the characters as the story goes on (and the pages keep turning!), and coming to understand these characters free from the supposed trappings of culture and even sympathizing with their faults, which still had terrible consequences. This part of the book, very effective for me.

I'd love to supply you with a  pithy quote from the novel however I was not able to stop reading for long enough to grab myself a post-it and mark the sections I wanted to share. Sorry about that, but it's a nice, appropriately short book, which is something to treasure these days - it gets the point across beautifully, and keeps the reader guessing long after the last words are read. Highly recommended.

Jane Slayre! Yes, you read that right...

Jane SlayreJane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte & Sherri Browning Erwin.
This is a record-breaker for the Reader's Well - only the second book that I have stopped reading in the middle since beginning the blog. In short, Charlotte Bronte's classic Jane Eyre has been butchered by vampires, zombies and apparently werewolves (didn't reach that part)... and not in the good way. I won't describe the plot here because it's exactly the same as the classic. So the only difference left to review is the presence of aforementioned creatures.

When I bought and started the book, I was ready for my first foray into the trendy paranormal-classic hybrid genre which claims titles like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Shakespeare Undead and The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer, all of them promising a fun mix of characters we've come to love (or hate) and dead things that turn their old, musty worlds upside-down. I did not get this impression from Jane Slayre. It was not hilarious on a grand scale (which it so could've been!), wasn't particularly smart in weaving the ghouls into the plot, and obviously didn't make an attempt to be scary. Actually as I read, I found myself getting bored, until I finally reached page 133 and decided I'd long surpassed the 50-page rule and called it quits. It's Jane Eyre without the heart, wit and style (excepting the many parts where the original text appears - why??). So now I'm left wondering if it's worthwhile to pick up other re-vamped (no pun intended) classics like Pride - maybe the ones that aren't based on the actual texts would be better, as they don't run the risk of reading like the same thing but not as awesome, etc. That said, here's a quote from the book which hinted at its unfulfilled silliness-potential (sob!) --

Just as she turned a corner, slice! I delivered a solid stroke, a clean cut. I wished we had planned a little better, though. I had barely enough time to fetch the head and drag the corpse out of the way between two other shelves of books before another zombie came in. Plus the green go was already making the floor slippery, as if I were stepping in pea soup...

What do you guys think, are you familiar with these books and have you, or have you not, enjoyed them? Are any of them better than others, and why do you think so?  I'm still pretty disappointed about this one, having wanted to read all of these for a long time. I had the chance with Shakespeare Undead from the library eons go, but had to return it un-read, like so many others. Maybe I shouldn't be kicking myself...