Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jane Eyre: The Movie

I don't usually review movies, but this was so obviously a book-movie and it begged to be blogged! I was originally inspired by the Goodreads challenge, which you'll see in my widgets up top. And what did I think of Jane Eyre the movie, without having read the book?...

I liked it!  Although I really don't know how Jane Eyre or Mr. Rochester were supposed to be portrayed, I can imagine the actors and directors did very well -- both were sympathetic, interesting characters, playing out a slightly different story from the usual Jane Austen-ish fare (which is really fine with me, anyway). Jane is strong-willed, Mr. Rochester is just as fiery, and everyone else pretty much pales in comparison, well mostly because their characters are not developed at all. Which is fine, since the movie clocked in at just over 2 hours anyway and who really cares about the whatsernames Reed and Rivers. The atmosphere was brooding and gothic (do I over-use that word? does everyone?), casting yet another sheen of gloom over Jane's tale of woe, that reminds me so much of my experience reading Wuthering Heights umpteen years ago. I'll assume that's just the Bronte sisters, sorry, I'm not too familiar with all the Brontes' work. There were some huh moments where I wondered for a split-second what was going on with the "kid" situation and other things* but these quickly got pushed to the background so I could keep up with what's happening next - very exciting! I must admit I did begin reading the book before watching the movie but you know how difficult it can be to switch genres like I've been, from a YA-type read to a literary classic.  But I'm glad I did see the film now, if only as it encourages me to finish the book. If you don't know the synopsis, you can check it out here.

* E(yet again)TA: Okay I'm reading on in the book, and I think I get it all now. It wasn't all totally clear in the movie but hey. There were other things to worry about like star-crossed love! And I could be a little slow on the uptake - after all, I don't own a TV (this newfangled technology is just confounding!)

Anyway, you'll see a review of Charlotte Bronte's book Jane Eyre up here sometime soon as well. I need to fill in some of those details that the movie inevitably skips past. Maybe you'll even read along with me, and face the challenge...

Giveaway Winner of Calpurnia Tate!

The Evolution of Calpurnia TateCongrats to Kerri !!! ---- winner of the latest giveaway for Jacqueline Kelly's The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. I'll be sending you an email Kerri!  As always, winner was selected using

You guys can also stay tuned for another giveaway at the Reader's Well (yes, it's getting crazy now), since I joined the Blog Hop for Japan Giveaway, a new hop where quite a few book bloggers will be hosting giveaways to help fund the relief efforts for victims of the recent earthquake in Japan.  All the details will be posted this Friday, April 1st. Be ready folks, I am giving away some pristine books and a couple other worthy gadgets.

In other news, I am making good progress with Jane Eyre and enjoying it so much. It takes a good book to get a busy reader back into the groove, and I must also admit I've been thinking about the future of the blog lately too. Having decided emphatically NOT to quit or slow it down, I still come across other disenchanted or frazzled bloggers who find themselves in the same limbo - to blog, or not to blog? I have to agree with those who insist that blogging is solely done for a blogger's happiness - for no other reason. Sure it's great to have followers like you guys and I am thrilled to have you, or to have comments which indicates that people are actually reading your stuff. But that can't be the only reason or even a major reason for blogging, as that can lead to the sort of blogger egotism that worships the number of followers without knowing who they are/why they follow. What do you guys think?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Giveaway of Calpurnia Tate!

The Evolution of Calpurnia TateAnd another not-so-random giveaway!  I am passing off a copy of my recently-reviewed Jacqueline Kelly book, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate for the next lucky winner! Here are the Amazon stats if they interest you (I for one always like to see how many pages I'm getting for my buck; it's a thing).

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12 (not so!)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031265930X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312659301
TO ENTER: Please fill out the form below by this Wednesday, March 30th.  Thanks for entering guys, and happy Friday!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

This fun little read called The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly was a gift (well, a giveaway) from Goodreads because I am such a good reviewer, posting about 2 reviews per year - and I am glad to say that I have read yet another gem that didn't cost me a dime!  Actually I fell in love with the cover first, upon receiving the monthly Goodreads newsletter where Callie Tate was featured in all her silhouetted glory.  And isn't it just the best thing ever to be able to review a book with a great cover *and* a great story?  :swoon:

Callie Tate is my kinda girl...
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
One day I would have all the books in the world, shelves and shelves of them. I would live my life in a tower of books.  I would read all day long and eat peaches. And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home.

Curious by nature, Callie befriends her quiet grandfather and likes nothing better than to help him gather specimens of flora and fauna from the family farm for Scientific study. Callie's mother on the other hand sees a different life for her excitable 12-year-old daughter, in a late 19th-century world of coming-out parties, frilly dresses and lots of knitting. Much to poor Callie's dismay, no one and least of all her own mother, seems to understand her.  Will Callie be able to break out of the 19th century and achieve her dreams of studying and seeing the world? Or will her mother's (and society's) ambitions take over any hope of freedom?

This really was a funny book, and you know how often I am disappointed by books that say they're funny and well, they are not. Calpurnia is the cutest heroine, whose wonderings and ideas keep you on your toes and laughing the whole way, while she decides what life for her is all about. Her grandfather is just as adorable, as her friend and confidante in all things Scientific and, by association, awesome fun. Definitely recommended for children and adults, the story of a young girl's dreams in a changing world will never get old, especially when it holds as many laughs and smiles as Calpurnia Tate.

And the winner is...

Sorry!  I got lost in the weekend shuffle as usual and neglected to crown this latest Giveaway winner of my ARC of Talia Carner's Jerusalem Maiden.  Without further adue, the winner is...

Fireflywishes a.k.a. April from My Shelf Confessions

Please claim your prize by emailing or posting me your own email address or contact information so that I can get the book to you asap!  Thanks so much for entering and following, I hope to hear from you soon!

I also hope to have up a new review soon of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a cute little his-fic tale about a little girl who could (even in the year 1899).  Soon after that, I'll be reviewing a classic that a current film is based on... hint, hint.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jerusalem Maiden + Giveaway!

I am happy to review Talia Carner's new novel Jerusalem Maiden, which I received as an ARC from Goodreads (thank you, Goodreads), and is coming out in June 2011.  After the review I will give you the details for the giveaway of the book (woohoo!) which I'm sure you will enjoy as I did.  Here we go...

Esther Kaminsky, a young Jerusalem-born woman, can only dream of the life she wants - so far away from her real one, the life of an Orthodox Jewess, ordained by Hashem to be full of suffering and drudgery in order to help "hasten the Messiah's arrival." Little do her somewhat-sympathetic father and hard-hearted mother know, that when Esther leaves her school every day she's off to her art teacher's to study the only craft she loves - painting. How can Esther's two mutually exclusive worlds ever marry?  Will they ever, before it is her time to marry, and forever extinguish her own dreams of painting and taking control of her life?

The sense of urgency in the story, leading up to Esther's climactic decision, is breathless as she takes us through her daily life in the beautiful but poverty-stricken city of Jerusalem. Her daily tasks and all her thoughts are interrupted by her need for beauty and artistry, her life saturated with the desire to capture the world and make it her own. Esther's "impertinent" character and her reactions are believable through all the twists and turns she takes, upending some of her super-orthodox beliefs, only to reclaim them later on. Her confusion and desperation amidst so many trials and betrayals are immediate and heartrending to read about - I was completely absorbed in this story, which happens to be based on author Carner's great-grandmother but veers in a what-if direction that is also reflected on by the story-Esther.  It slowed down a little too much after the Big Event I won't tell you about, but at the core this novel is a great exploration of faith in the face of reality and changing times and places.  This was the theme that drew me to click on the "Request" link for the book in the first place, and I also got some great character development and language as rich and expressive as any of Esther's beautiful paintings.  A terrific read, well worth a look in June 2011 - that is, if you are not the winner of the following

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062004379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062004376
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
 Rules:  Just leave me a comment to this post! That's it, a comment about absolutely anything (but keep it clean, of course).  The lucky winner will be selected from these posts by 5 p.m. this Friday, March 18th by  Contest is only open to US and Canada residents.  And please remember to post a variation of your e-mail address in your comment so that I can contact the winner. Any questions can be directed to me via my email  Thanks for participating!  Happy reading, all. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Words from the Well, and more

UPDATE: Come Monday-ish I'll be posting a new review and a giveaway - in one!  Can't wait.  These things make me excited.  But until then you get some ramblings about where I'm at.  I've recently revamped the site a little bit (fonts! colors!) and added a couple of new widgets, with more of those to come once I decide on some I actually like.  Suggestions are welcome, as always.  I must admit I'm good with the reading lately, so after this review comes out, I'll have a new one for you very soon, of another Goodreads acquisition from earlier that I just never had time to read - and that would be The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly which came out in 2009 and I've been excited to read for... a good month or two, the poor thing sitting on the shelf that whole time while I struggled with my own plantlife.

Anyway, here's a recap of the past 2 weeks with a long-awaited Words from the Well:

Legend of the Jade DragonFrom Paperbackswap:

(the rest of Yasmine Galenorn's awesome Chintz 'n China series):
Legend of the Jade Dragon
Murder Under a Mystic Moon
A Harvest of Bones
One Hex of a Wedding

Garden Spells (Bantam Discovery)Prodigal Summer - Barbara Kingsolver (can I love her w/o ever having read 1 book of hers?)
Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen (see my review of The Girl Who Chased the Moon)
Tithe (Modern Tale of Faerie, Book 1) - Holly Black (the 3rd acquired free from local library)

That's all for now - keep your eyes peeled for Monday next, when I'll have Calpurnia Tate up and some notes on what's up after that. My new plant class is treating me surprisingly well so far, and I am just more and more hopeful and excited about this blog's future.  So as always, suggestions and comments always welcome and encouraged, and I also want to say thanks for following, all you folks who do so.  Stay tuned!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ghost of a Chance (Chintz 'n China, Book 1)

Ghost Of A ChanceWell, hello again everyone, and sorry for the delay.  I've been busy reading, and I know you don't believe me so I'll give you the full update -- I have finished (not only my plant class which went swimmingly) Yasmine Galenorn's first book in the Chintz 'n China series, Ghost of a Chance.  And it was pretty darn good.  I haven't read a whole lot of mystery/detective-fiction, but the little I have read didn't impress me enough to actually buy the series which is why I received it via Paperbackswap instead.  Yep, I just bought the whole series 'cause I'm trying to devote more time to getting to know the authors of books I happen to like, rather than just pick randomly from different series and drive myself insane.  So Chintz 'n China it was, and good it was too.

Emerald O'Brien is teahouse owner, mother of two crazy kids, divorcee and just also happens to be ... the town witch? Sure why not, after all her beloved Nana did instill some witchy powers (and some sass) in Emerald for good reason -- the ghosties have taken up residence at Emerald's house and they are not happy campers. Susan Mitchell's ghost is determined to settle the score between herself and her husband who apparently murdered her, and begs Emerald for her help in catching the guy.  Now Susan seems decent enough for a ghost, until a much darker force follows in her footsteps, terrorizing both the O'Briens and Susan. Combine these strange new events in poor Em's life with a tarot card-confirmed promise that everything she knows is about to change drastically, and you'll be wishing you had picked up this read before bedtime, 'cause you'll just have to keep reading through the night to find out the goodies...  Who really killed Susan Mitchell? Who is the other crazy ghost threatening the lives of Emerald and everyone she loves? Will she be able to use her abilities to survive the craziness, keep her children and friends out of danger and even find love? Where is Nana when you really need her?

I loved this book, I'll just go right out and say it. Definitely more than the Sookie Stackhouse I read (Dead Until Dark), more than the Laurell K. Hamilton's I've read (before my blogging days), and actually more than I've enjoyed anything lately.  This is the book to pull you out of your life, and surround you with craziness and magical-ness that you actually find yourself believing.  Emerald is the one to root for, not perfect, but sassy, hilarious and smart.  The writing here is way better than I've read in books of the same type so bored you will not be if you pick this up, and you might even be lucky enough to find it in the bargain bin of your local store which I have several times.  Now, though, I'm not sure how Galenorn's books end up there at all, but hey I won't complain. Love this cover, by the way, I'm starting to like cats all of a sudden.