Monday, December 24, 2012

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

"What a tragic tale!  Why these stories for children always have to turn out so dreadfully is beyond me.  I think if I ever tell it to my grandchildren, I will change the ending and have everyone live happily ever after.  We are allowed to do that, are we not Mabel?  To invent our own endings and choose joy over sorrow?"

This novel expands on the traditional story of "The Snow Maiden."  It is set in the 1920s in the Alaskan wilderness and begins when a childless couple, Mabel and Jack, build a snow child during the first snow fall of the winter.  To their surprise, the snow child is gone the next morning, but a young girl starts to appear everyday near their house.  As the girl becomes like a daughter to them, Jack and Mabel are left to wonder where the girl came from and how to keep her save.

I loved the mysterious and "fairy-tale" like atmosphere that appeared throughout the book.  I kept going back and forth between thinking that the girl was real and being something that the lonely couple imagined.  Even after finishing to novel, I'm not quite sure I knew who the girl was.

This book was #10 on my top ten list of 2012.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The House At Riverton by Kate Morton

"It is a cruel, ironical art, photography.  The dragged of captured moments into the future; moments that should have been allowed to be evaporated into the past; should exist only in memories, glimpsed through the fog of events that came after.  Photographs force us to see people before their future weighed them down.."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

"Looking up at the stars so far away, I begun to feel there was a thread running between the earth and them.  Another thread was strung out too, connecting the past to the future, with the ichie at one end, dying all that long time ago and waiting for me to find it.  I didn't know what was at the other end of the thread.  These two threads were so long I couldn't even begin to measure them, and where one met the other, there was me."

Tracy Chevailer VideoTracy discusses her stunning new novel and the breathtaking story that inspired her to write it. Remarkable Creatures tells the story of a beautiful and unlikely friendship forged between two very different women.

Friday, November 2, 2012

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

"Never be so focused on what you're looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

"From that time one, the world was hers for the reading.  She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends.  Books became her friends and there was one for every mood.  There was poetry for quiet companionship.  There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours.  There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to fee a closeness to someone should could read a biography.  On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived."

" 'People always think that happiness is a faraway thing,' thought Francie, 'something complicated and hard to get.  Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains - a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone - just to be with someone you love.  Those things make happiness.' "

"She was made up of more, too.  She was the books she read in the library.  She was the flower in the brown bowl.  Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard.  She was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly.  She was Katie's secret, despairing weeping.  She was the shame of her father stumbling home drunk.  She was all of those things and of something more...It was what God or whatever is His equivalent puts into each soul that is given life - the one different thing such as that which makes no two fingerprints on the face of the earth alike."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

"They could not cross the carpet to take each other in their arms.  Maybe someday, but not today"  More of their childhoods had to be stolen, yet, for that to happen - or maybe some of it returned to them.  The charmless future would show them if, and when, and how."

"I mustn't keep you, dear.  And I have much to attend to myself.  I just so wanted to know if it was true, and now I know.  Maybe Elphaba will come back one day, or maybe she won't, but in the meantime I have known you.  That will see me through, I do believe."

"She would make no plan but this: to move out into the world as a Bird might, and to perch on the edge of everything that could be know.  She would circle herself with water below and with sky above.  She would wait until there was no stink of Oz, no breath of it, no wight of it on any horizon no matter how high she climbed.  And then she would let go of the book, let it plunge into the mythical sea.
Live life without grasping for the magic of it.
Turn back, and find out what that was like; or turn forward, and learn something new.
A mile above anything known, the Girl balanced on the wind's forward edge, as if she were a green flick of the sea itself, flung up by the turbulent air and sent wheeling away."

"Oz at sunrise.  What one makes out, from any height, are the outlines.  The steel-cut peaks of the Great Kells, the pudding hills of the Madeleines.  The textured outcroppings of Shiz, Bright Lettins, the Emerald City...This is a roughed-out landscape only coming into life.  A map done in smudged pencil, a first draft.  Much to be filled in when light arrives.  But thank you, Mr. Baum, for leaving the map where I could find it.
Watching the world wake up, dress itself in the dark, take on its daily guise, reminds me of how we fathom human character when we encounter someone at a distance, at a gallop, in the shadows.  We get no more than a quick glance at the man on the street, the child in the woods, that witch at the well, the Lion among us.  Our initial impression, most often, has to serve.
Still, that first crude glimpse, a clutch of raw hypotheses that can never be soundly clinched or dismissed, is often all we get before we must choose whether to lean forward or to avert our eyes.  Slim evidence indeed, but put together with mere hints and echoes of what we have once read, we risk cherishing one another.  Light will blind us in time, but what we learn in the dark can see us through.
To read, even in the half-dark, is also to call the lost forward."

This is the fourth and final volume of Gregory Maquire's "The Wicked Years," an interesting twist on L. Frank Baum's "Wizard of Oz" children's book serious.  The first volume tells the tale of Elphaba, who eventually becomes known as the wicked witch of the west.  "Out of Oz" is the story of Rain, Elphaba's grand-daughter, in the mist of a great civil war in Oz.

These books are one of the best series I have read!  I love Gregory Maguires unique storytelling abilities to capture a world reads already know and turn them into something else entirely.  The second and third volumes took me a little longer to get through then the first (which I've read at least three times already), but reading the final volume made it completely worth it!

This book was #7 on my top ten list of 2012.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire

"The future reshapes the memory of the past in the way it recalibrates significance; some episodes are advanced, others lose purchase."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

"Not everyone is born a witch or a saint.  Not everyone is born talented, or crooked, or blessed; some are born definite in no particular at all.  We are a fountain of shimmering contradictions, most of us.  Beautiful in the concept, if we're luck, but frequently tedious or regrettable as we flesh ourselves out."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Room by Emma Donoghue

"In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time...I don't know how persons with jobs do the jobs and all the living as well...I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter all over the world, the roads and houses and playgrounds and stores, so there's only a little smear or time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on to the next bit."

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

"There are times in our lives when we have to realize our post is precisely what it is, and we cannot change it.  But we can change the story we tell ourselves about it, and by doing that, we can change the future."

"She never managed to find herself in these books no matter how hard she tried, exhuming traits from between the pages and donning them for an hour, a day, a week.  We think in some ways, we have all done this our whole lives, searching for the book that will give us the keys to ourselves, let us into a wholly formed personality as though it were a furnished room to let.  As though we could walk in an look around and say to the grey-haired landlady behind us, 'We'll take it.' "

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

"I was born on a farm in Kansas, and I guess that's being just as 'spectable and haughty as living in a cave with your tail tied to a rock.  If it isn't, I'll have to stand it, that's all."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ozma of Oz

"You see, in this country are a number of youths who do not like to work, and the college is an excellent place for them."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum

" 'That proves you are unusual,' returned that Scarecrow.  'And I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration is this world are the unusual ones.  For the common folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.' "

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

"No matter how dreary and grey our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than any other country, be it ever so beautiful.  There is no place like home."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

"People who claim that they're evil are usually no worse than the rest of us... It's people who claim that they're good, or any way better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of."

"The room quieted down.  Elphaba made up a little song on the spot, a song of longing and otherness , of far aways and future days.  Strangers closed their eyes to listen.  Boq did too.  Elphaba had an ok voice.  He saw the imaginary place she conjured up, a land where injustice and common cruelty and despotic rule and the beggaring first of drought didn't work together to hold everyone by the neck.  No, he wasn't giving her credit.  Elphaba had a GOOD voice.  It was controlled and feeling and nothistoric.  He listened through t the end, and the song faded into the hush of a respectful pub.  Later, he thought: The melody faded like a rainbow after a storm, or like winds calming down; and what was left was calm, and possibility, and relief."

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

"Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all of the patterns away.  I think prime numbers are like life.  They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spend all your time thinking about them."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

"As a historian, I have learned that, in fact, not everyone who reaches back into history can survive it.  And it is not only reaching back that endangers us; sometimes history itself inexarably forward for us with its shadowy claws."

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James

"My world was ordered, calm, and controlled, then you came into my life with your smart mouth, your innocence, your beauty, and your temerity...and everything before you was just dull, empty, was nothing."

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fifty Shades Darker (E. L. James)

"There's joy in my helplessness, joy in the surrender to him, and to know that he can lose himself in me the way he wants to.  I can do this.  He takes me to those dark places, places I didn't know existed, and together we fill them with blinding light."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

"Sometimes I wonder if there's something wrong with me.  Perhaps I've spent too long in the company of my literary romantic heroes, and consequently my ideals and expectations are far too high."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

"Before Mamah came over to Germany, Mattie had said to her, 'What will you do if Frank returns to his wife?  You'll have nothing.'  But Mamah felt now that if that came to be, she had more than nothing.  She had whatever it was inside herself that made her survive.  The past few months had boiled her down to her very essence.  All the rest, it seemed, had just floated away.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

"Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not.  Make it your strength.  Then it can never be your weakness.  Armour yourself in it and it will never be used to hurt you."

This epic fantasy novel is the first book in the A Song of Fire and Ice serious.  Set in a world where anything can happen, winter is coming and everything the characters know and love is about to change.  When the king dies unexpectedly, a battle for the iron throne begins.

I have always really enjoyed fantasy books (especially in my pre-teenage years), but I haven't started a fantasy serious for a long time.  Maybe because I have so many other books to read and multi-volume sets take so much time!  I wanted to read it before I watched the serious on HBO, so I figured I would give it a try.  Anyways, I really enjoyed this book!  I loved all of the complex characters and seeing their lives intertwine throughout the story.  This is the only volume of the series that I have read so far, but I'm almost done with the third season of the HBO show and it's amazing...I can't wait catch up on the show and read the rest of the books!

Checkout the amazing HBO series here.

This book was #5 on my top ten list of 2012.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

"She says there are stories everywhere and that people who wait for the right one to come along before setting pen to paper end up with very empty pages."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

"The wheel of fortune tells us that we all only want victory.  We all want to triumph.  But we all have to learn to endure what comes.  We have to learn to treat misfortune and great fortune with indifference.  That is wisdom."

This is Philippa Gregory's third novel in the Cousins' War books.  The serious centers around women in the England's War of the Roses and this book tells the story of Jacquette, Duchess of Luxembourg.

Philippa Gregory is one of my favorite historical fiction authors.  I first fell in love with her wonderful story telling of the Tudor court when I read "The Other Boleyn Girl" and have been reading her looks religiously ever since.  I love her ability to bring history to life and center on many of history's lesser known female characters.  The Cousins' War series tells of a not as popular, but still just as exciting and scandalous time in England's royal history.

This book was #6 on my top ten list of 2012.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Secret Kept by Tatiana Rosnay

"Knowing would never bring my father back.  Knowing would never make the grieving any easier.  Knowing would never make death easier."

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

"We called Paris the great good place, then, and it was.  We invented it after all.  We made it with our longing and cigarettes and Rhum St. James; we made it with smoke and smart and savage conversation, and we dared anyone to say it wasn't ours.  Together we made everything and then we busted it apart again."

"Books could be an incredible adventure.  I stayed under my blanket and barely moved, and no one would have guessed how my mind raced and my heart soared with stories."

This book was #3 on my top ten list of 2012.

"If I can write one sentence, simple and true every day, I'll be satisfied" 
(Ernest Hemingway).

Set in 1920s Paris, the novel tells the story of Hadley Richardson, the first (out of four) wife of novelist Ernest Hemingway.  Hadley has "all but given up on love" when she meets Hemingway and is swept off to Paris.  Even though they are madly in love, the couple gets more then they bargained for when Hemingway finds himself swept up in the jazz age surrounded by drinking, women, and questionable morals.

Ever since I went o Paris a few years ago, I've loved the idea of "Paris in the 20s."  This novel captured everything I loved about the era and more.   The author does a wonderful job of tying in characters of the "Lost Generation" such as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and the Fitzgeralds.  I loved the character of Hadley and felt for her as she struggled to fit into a new lifestyle.

Hadley and Ernest:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

"Now she knew that you didn't survive on your own.  Everyone who touched your life sent a ripple effect through you and all the ripples interconnected.  She could sense them inside her, surging and flowing, doubling back and overlapping, all the way back to the beginning."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

" 'Yes, Your Grace,' I correct her.  'I am My Lady, the King's Mother, now, and you shall curtsey to me, as low as to a queen of royal blood.  This was my destiny: to put my son on the throne of England, and those who laughed at my visions and doubted my vocation will call me My Lady, the King's Mother, and I shall sign myself Margaret Regina: Margaret R."

Cousins' War #1 - The Lady of the Rivers
Cousins' War #2 - The White Queen 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

"Your house's emblem should not be the white rose but the old sign of eternity...the snake which eats itself.  The sons of York will destroy each other, one brother destroying another, uncles devouring nephews, father's beheading sons.  They are a house which has to have blood and they will shed their own if they have no other enemy."

"Poor Mulusina, who tried so hard to be a good wife had to leave the man who loved her and go back to the water, finding the earth too hard.  Like many women, she was unable to fit exactly with her husband's view.  her feet hurt: she tried to dance to please him, but she could not deny the pain.  She is the ancestress of the royal house of Burgundy, and we descendants, still try to wake in the paths of men, and sometimes we too find the way unbearable hard.

Cousins' War #1 - The Lady of the Rivers

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

" 'One more time?  For the audience?' he says.  His voice isn't angry.  It's hallow, which is worse.  Already the boy with the bread is slipping away from me.  I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I will finally have to let go."

"Happy Hunger Games!  And many the odds be ever in your favor."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Blankets by Craig Thompson

"How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface.  To make a map of my movement-no matter how temporary."

This graphic novels tell the coming-of-age story of a boy named Craig growing up in Wisconsin.  Throughout the book, he struggles with family, religion, belonging, and his first love.

I normally don't read too many graphic novels, but this was chosen for a book club and I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  Many of the themes of the story are the the same ones that young adults struggle with on a daily basis.  It was very realistic and I loved the drawings.

This was one of my favorites:

This book was #9 on my top ten list of 2012.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

"My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for?  I live for each day.  I live in the moment.  Some tomorrow soon, I'll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech.  But just because I'll forget it some tomorrow doesn't mean that I didn't live every second of it today.  I will forget today, but that doesn't mean that today doesn't matter."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory

"This is our last time together, Frances.  I will not ask, and you need not refuse.  Let us just be together for this afternoon.  At least we have these hours and the sun is warm, and you are well, and I am going to be free."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

"Honeybees depend not only on physical contact with the colony, but also require it's social companionship and suppose.  Isolate a honeybee from her sisters and she will soon die."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lamb by Christopher Moore

"This story is not and never was meant to challenge anyone's faith; however, if one's faith can be shaken by stories in a humorous novel one may have a bit more praying to do."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

"And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis

"I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it.  I'm going to live as like a narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

"Most of us, I suppose, have a secret country but for most of us it is only an imaginary country.  Edmund and Lucy were luckier than other people in that respect."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis

" 'Child,' said the Lion, 'I am telling you your story, not hers.  No one is told any story but their own."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

"I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books.  As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still.  But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.  You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it.  I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis

"What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.  It also depends on what sort of person you are."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

"She'd been telling it for years, though not when Mother could hear.  Mother would have said Eliza was upsetting Sammy with her fall tales.  Mother didn't understand that children aren't frightened by stories; that their lives are full of far more frightening things than those contained in fairy tales."

After Cassandra loses her beloved grandmother, Nell, she is thrown into a unexpected journey to discover who her grandmother really was.  Starting with an old book of fairy tales, Cassandra is able to trace the footsteps of her grandmother.  Going back and forth between present day and the 1930s, the novel reveals many unexpected twists and Cassandra begins to understand the  dark secrets of her family's past.

This book was wonderful!  I loved everything about it, especially the focus on an old book of fairy tales...some of which were actually included in the novel.  The story kept me reading late into the night and I have since read all of Kate Morton's other three books.  I really enjoyed her other books, all of which go back and forth between the past and present, but this one was by far my favorite.

This book was #2 on my top ten list of 2012.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Mordenstern

"The circus arrives without warning.  No announcements precede it.  It is simply there, when yesterday it was not."

" 'Stories have changed, my dear boy,' the man in the grey suit says, his voices almost imperceptibly sad.  'There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need to rescue.  Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experiences at least the ones worth something, in any case.  There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings.  The quests lack clarity of goalor path.  The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are.  And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise.  Things keep overlapping and blur, your story is part of your sister's story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where and of them may lead.  Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl.  And is not the dragon the hero of this own story?  Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act?  Through perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey."

"Someone needs to tell those tales.  When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their toes for breakfast with a nice cup of souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative.  theres magic in that.  It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.  From the mundance to the profound.  You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someones soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose.  that tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.  That is your role, your gift.  Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy.  Do not forget that...there are many kinds of magic, after all."

"This is not magic.  This is the way the world is, only very few people take the time to stop and note it.  Look around you...Not one of them even has an inkling of the possibilities in the world, and what's worse is that none of them would listen if you attempted to enlighten them.  They want to believe that magic is nothing but clever deception, because to think it real would keep them up at night, afraid of their own existence."

"You're not destined for choosen, I wish I could tell you that you were if that would make it easier, but it's not true.  You're in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done.  Sometimes thats enough."

Set in the world of a magical circus, this novel tells the story of Celia and Marco.  To bystanders, the circus is simply a world of entertainment and wonder, but it sets the stage for a competition between the two who have been trained since childhood.  As they get to know one another and eventually fall in love, they it becomes evident that only one of them is meant to be left standing at the end.

I can't say enough about this book and it is by far one of the best books I have read.  It had a wonderfully mysterious story and the description was breathtaking.  I loved the whole thing, but my favorite parts were the amazing descriptions of all of the magical and unique circus tents...I read them over and over again.  I really liked how the author used the different characters through out the novel to reveal tiny bits and pieces of the story.  I can't wait for Erin Morgenstern's next book to come out!!!

This book was #1 on my top ten list of 2012.