Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Mapmaker's Opera by Bea Gonzalez


This has to be one of the most exquisite stories I have ever read in my life. It also has to be one of the most unique tellings of a story that I have ever read. You see, the reason for this is because it is an opera. The main characters that are mentioned by name in the story are, ultimately, the singers in this written production. They are mentioned beforehand in a list of their respective titles and roles, along with the tone of voice they sing. We have our lead soprano, Sofia Duarte, and our lead tenor, Diego Clemente, along with other mixed, but just as prominent, voices scattered about the pages of this book. But the characters are only one part of the whole that is The Mapmaker's Opera.
The part that makes this story real, and, ultimately, brings the characters to life, is the historical significance involved. This is the telling of a revolt. The telling of social differences, and how those differences affected the lives of the author's characters. The telling of the beginning of the fight that became the Mexican Revolution. Even though the revolt and fight for freedom was mentioned only near the end, the feelings of animosity between the upper and lower classes is riddled throughout the story. Diego Clemente's own mother was sent from her cousin's home in disgrace because of her condition and lower social standing, and Diego himself was turned away by his biological father when he came, on his mother's request, to claim his rightful title.
I was amazed when reading this book, because of the beauty in it. The sights and smells brought to life all the way from Spain to Mexico to the untold past. It was a breathtaking experience. One that took me on the wings of the worlds most beautiful species, birds, and flew me to lands so familiar in name to me but never given true description until now.
This is an opera to see. An opera to experience for yourselves. But delve in its pages gently, for it could sweep you up as quickly in its wonder, its magic, as it did me.

Happy Reading!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Books Courtesy of Reader's Digest Magazine

I was looking in the latest issue of Reader's Digest Magazine yesterday, and came across their book section. There I found some titles that I thought worthy to put out there to all you bookworms. Here they are:

Life is a Gift:The Zen of Bennett by Tony Bennett
(HarperCollins, $28.99)
The singer offers life lessons and delightful anecdotes from an extraordinary career.
 
Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman
(Crown, $26)
After losing her husband in her 40s, Aikman couldn't find what she needed in a traditional support group. So she created her own circle of young widows who relied on friendship, practical help, and laughter to help themselves heal.
  
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
(Knopf, $25.95)
This keenly anticipated debut novel is both a single family's drama and an account of the Great Migration of African Americans out of the rural South. Mathis's novel begins in 1925 and moves through the 1980s, relating the titular Hattie's story through her children.
 
Kind of Kin by Rilla Askew
(Ecco, $25.99)
Set in small-town Oklahoma, Askew's novel centers on a community dealing with harsh new immigration laws and ethical dilemmas.
 
Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
(Little, Brown, $25.99)
The author has a cult following for graphic novels-now he is gunning to keep you up all night with a creepy serial-killer thriller.
 
Chanel Bonfire by Wendy Lawless
(Gallery Books, $25)
Lawless's chronicles of life with her charming, wildly unstable mother could be bleak, but the author's wit, resilience, and compassion make her story illuminating and inspiring.
 
Happy Reading!

A James Patterson 16 Chapter Free Preview

That's right folks I am going to be typing about a new James Patterson title here and now. This title is the fourth in his series Witch and Wizard, which he co-authors with Jill Dembowski. I, personally, have never read this series, but have always wanted to since the first book in it came out. So, I was very excited to hear of a new installment to the series. For those of you who have read the entire series until this one, and for those of you who don't disapprove of reading a sample of the book before the full title comes out, this post is for you. Amazon has a 16 Chapter sample that you can buy for free for you Kindle. It is a great deal, and I hope those of you who buy it enjoy what you are going to read.

General Synopsis for The Kiss:
 
Whit and Wisty Allgood, a witch and wizard with extraordinary abilities, have defeated the ruthless dictator who long overshadowed their world. But for the first time in their lives, the powerful brother and sister find themselves at odds as Wisty is drawn to a mysterious and magical stranger named Heath.
Wisty has never felt as free as she does with Heath, especially when the two of them share and test their magic together. But when a merciless Wizard King from the mountains suddenly threatens war, Wisty must make an excruciating choice. Will she unite with Whit to fight the mounting dangers that could return their world to a tyrant's domain? Or will she trust the beautiful boy who has captured her heart?
The full book will be released on February 4, 2013.
You can pre-order it online now.
 
Happy Reading!
 
Here is the link for the free sample chapters:
 
 
 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

And Then What Happened

Take 10: Children's Books

What happens when Daisy's ball is destroyed? When all the lights go out? When a family must flee their homeland? Adventure happens, that's what-and so does discovery, learning, and joy. Buy a child a book, and ask to share an hour. Here are a few of 2012's best for tots, teens, and you.

-Mary Connors, CTW Features
 

 1) A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Hardcover- $11.55
Kindle Edition- $8.99
 
2)Blackout by John Rocco
Hardcover- $11.55
 
3)Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
Hardcover- $11.55
Kindle Edition- $9.99
 
4) Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Hardcover- $10.87
 
5) Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
(Paperback to be released May 7, 2013)
Hardcover- $10.87
Paperback- $7.99
Kindle Edition- $9.99
 
6) Rotters by Daniel Kraus
Hardcover- $13.48
Paperback- $8.79
Kindle Edition- $9.99
 
7) The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin
(Paperback to be released on February 19, 2013.)
Hardcover- $13.59
Paperback- $9.99
Kindle Edition- $9.99
 
8) Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
(Paperback to be released January 2, 2013)
Hardcover- $11.55
Paperback- $7.99
Kindle Edition- $7.99
 
9) Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Velchin
Hardcover- $10.87
Kindle Edition- $9.99
 
10) Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Hardcover- $10.71
Paperback- $8.99
Kindle Edition- $8.00


Article courtesy of Cameron Newspaper.
Prices courtesy of Amazon.com

Prices may vary.

Reading List for the End of the World

Take 10: Dystopian Novels

It's a list for fans of "The Hunger Games." The wildly successful film adaptation of the dark novel hits DVD shelves this holiday season. Suzanne Collins' blockbuster trilogy about a young Katniss Everdeen battling for her life in a post-apocalyptic North America has drawn more readers to the world of dystopian literature; new post-apocalyptic young adult titles crop up every month. Here are ten top titles about young people in dystopian peril, perfect for any Katniss fan's stocking.
 
-Lindsey Romain, CTW Features
 
1)The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Hardcover- $12.17
Paperback- $9.99
Kindle Edition- $9.00
 
2) Divergent by Veronica Roth
Hardcover- $9.99
Paperback- $9.99
Kindle Edition- $6.56
 
3) Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Hardcover- $13.07
Paperback- $7.99
Kindle Edition- $5.99
 
4) Legend by Marie Lu
Hardcover- $12.23
Paperback- $9.99
Kindle Edition- $10.99
 
5) Exodus by Julie Bertagna
Hardcover- $6.78
Paperback- $4.00
Kindle Edition- $7.59
 
6) Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Hardcover- $11.74
Paperback- $8.99
Kindle Edition- $7.99
 
7) Matched by Ally Condie
Hardcover- $12.23
Paperback- $9.99
Kindle Edition- $9.99
 
8) Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Hardcover- $13.25
Paperback- $8.99
Kindle Edition- $8.00
 
9) The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Hardcover- $11.18
Paperback- $9.99
Kindle Edtion- $9.99
 
10) The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Hardcover- $11.41
Paperback- $9.99
Kindle Edition- $9.99
 
 
This article is courtesy of Cameron newspaper.
Prices courtesy of Amazon.com
 
Prices may vary.



Friday, December 7, 2012

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

Read like crazy this morning to be able to post a review about the newest book I have finished, THE CLOCKWORK THREE by Matthew J. Kirby. As I said before in a past post, my mother is actually the one who picked this book out in my local library. I was going to, but it being in the children's section, I was a little embarrassed of what the librarian would think of me if I checked it out. But as soon as my mother put it on the small pile of books in my arms, I knew I had no choice but to suck up my embarrassment, go up to the counter, and get it. And boy am I glad I did....

First of all, let me say that this book should have a subtitle: THE GREEN VIOLIN, for it is this very object which brings the three main characters together in the first place. Without that, and some genius musical talent behind it, this story would not need to be told, let alone would it even exist.
Each character introduced to us in this story, Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick, has some sort of background or past haunting them. One was taken from his homeland by his menacing padrone to play for change in the streets of another, one's father became desperately ill and disabled causing her to stop schooling and work to help her family, and the other lived in an orphanage with a terrible woman named Mrs. Treeless who cared for no one but herself and her own well-being.
These characters' pasts play some sort of part for what they do throughout the book. They at times reflect on their pasts in the story, and their goodness and kindness is influenced by their reflections on what has been and what they hope will be.
The story is written very well. It keeps the reader engaged throughout the reading, and I, personally, could not put it down. There were a few twists and turns, and I became excited at times to find out, along with the characters, certain bits of information not known before in the storyline. I was definitely intrigued by how the characters lives kind of became intertwined with one another's.
This story is one of friendship, of dreams of the past, and of people helping one another to reach eachother's goals. It is a magical ride of treasure, holly leaves, music, nature, and clockwork men. It becomes very Hugo-esque near the ending, or so it reminded me. I love the incorporation of automatons in the book. It fits well and flows neatly with the storyline.
This book is not just for readers with a 4.5 reading level. (That's what it says in the book sitting by my side,) It is a book that I wholeheartedly believe any age group would enjoy. You just have to be willing to open the cover and listen to the characters inside. That is what I did, and this book definitely did not disappoint.

General Synopsis of THE CLOCKWORK THREE:
 
Three ordinary children are brought together by extraordinary events. . .
Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom. Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements, who supports her family as a hotel maid when tragedy strikes and her father can no longer work. She learns about a hidden treasure, which she knows will save her family -- if she can find it. And Frederick, the talented and intense clockmaker's apprentice, seeks to learn the truth about his mother while trying to forget the nightmares of the orphanage where she left him. He is determined to build an automaton and enter the clockmakers guild -- if only he can create a working head. Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.
 
 
Happy Reading!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reached by Ally Condie

I was really, really excited when I saw this book finally in my local wal-mart, because I had only ever seen it online at BarnesandNoble.com. It never really ever occurred to me that I would ever touch the book in reality. It never registered in my brain.
For those of you who have never read Ally Condie's books or haven't even heard of her at all, please google her.

Now, since that is done, let me tell you a little of what this book and the series of books is about.

The first book in this series is called Matched. I read this book in 2011. When I bought it earlier it was the cover that interested me the most. But it was the story, in the end, which kept me intrigued throughout the entire reading of the book.

This story introduces you to a girl named Cassia who is anticipating her match ceremony. The match ceremony is where young adults find who they will eventually marry. Some will marry those that they know, most will end up with those that they don't know, and Cassia ends up as one of the former. It is a rare occurance, but she is matched with her best friend, Xander.

Cassia's world, the world of everyone around her, is controlled by the Society. Those that believe that by controlling their people, manipulating their ways and their lifestyles, they can keep their world out of chaos. However, when Cassia sees another match on the microcard she is given, doubts of the society's true intentions cloud her mind. She wants to know what all they might have been keeping from everyone and what they are truly trying to do. Are they there to help or is there some ulterior motive behind their actions?

I was pulled in by the first book, and hope to be able to finish the series in the very near future. Here are the descriptions for the trilogy of books:




General Synopsis for Matched:
 
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.
 
General Synopsis for Crossed:
 
In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.
 
General Synopsis for Reached:
 
After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times-bestselling Matched trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.
 
Happy Reading!!
 
 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Books of 2012

An article captured my attention this morning about the best books of 2012 and the most underrated books of 2012 from a site that I can honestly say I have never heard of. Now those of you who have heard of it, please do not berate me for I know not of what I have never seen.
This site is called slate.com.
I was intrigued by the articles found on its site, because I love to hear people talk about books that have affected them in some way. I love to hear people talk with passion about those books which they have read and, ultimately care about.
Here is a small example of the two articles which caught my attention.

2012 Books: Slate Staff Picks:

The Half-Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan
Recommended by Tracey Coronado, director of human resources

A different vantage point of Nazi Europe in the 1940s—seen through the eyes of a group of African-American jazz musicians who find their rhythm just as the world is trying to snuff out their musical genius. Not only did the narrator, Sid, capture me with his internal struggles and unique voice, but it made me think about how the war impacted music and all races in ways that I don't always associate with the Third Reich. I felt pulled into the story by their passion for music despite the threats they faced daily. But what ultimately makes this story so memorable is Sid dealing with his demons long after his musical heyday has passed.
 
 
The Man Without a Face, by Masha Gessen
Recommended by Andy Bowers, executive producer Slate podcasts

This portrait of the inscrutable Vladimir Putin, is fascinating, illuminating, and above all brave—as you read about the price countless Russians have paid for crossing Putin, you can’t help but marvel at the courage it takes to tell his story so critically. Gessen (an occasional Slate contributor) chronicles Putin’s journey from KGB agent to St. Petersburg political operative to Boris Yeltsin’s surprise choice as acting president, and on to 13 years (and counting) as Russia’s undisputed top dog, regardless of the title he holds at any given moment. What emerges is a man whose greatest political strength is his willingness to be seen primarily not as a statesman, but as a world class thug.
 
 
Enemies: A History of the FBI, by Tim Weiner
Recommended by Fred Kaplan, “War Stories” columnist

This is an astonishing book, jammed with revelations (at least one per page), gleaned from tens of thousands of pages of newly declassified files. The focus is on the FBI as a secret foreign-intelligence service (which apparently it was designed to be from the outset) and J. Edgar Hoover as an “American Machiavelli.” Weiner tells the epic tale with captivating elegance. It’s even better, I think, than Legacy of Ashes, his previous, award-winning book about the CIA.
 
 
Escape From Camp 14, by Blaine Harden
Recommended by Farhad Manjoo, technology columnist

In January 2005, a malnourished 23-year-old named Shin Dong-hyuk escaped from the North Korean prison camp where he'd been born. Escape From Camp 14 is his story—a parade of unimaginable cruelties that Shin and the hundreds of thousands of other prisoners held in North Korea's vast gulags face every day. The account, by the former Washington Post reporter Blaine Harden, is a brutal, terrifying read, with every page offering graphic details of monstrous physical, psychological and emotional torture. It's complicated by Shin's own apparent conflicts about his own behavior in camp. And it is also an unforgettable adventure story, a coming-of-age memoir of the worst childhood imaginable. Read it to feel better about any problem you've ever encountered.

The Overlooked Books of 2012:

Noah Berlatsky recommends Prison Pit, Volume 4 by Johnny Ryan
If you've read earlier volumes of cartoonist Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit, you know what to expect from Volume 4. If not—well, one of the first sequences here involves the disgusting slug that serves as our hero's prosthetic limb detaching itself, swallowing his head, and shitting out a glob of excrement that fertilizes said hero's severed arm and grows into a giant cancerous monster mass that keeps repeating the sole word "fugg" over and over. For those who find filthy, blotchy tactile ink clots, ├╝berviolence, or body horror even remotely appealing, you need to buy this and its predecessors immediately.
 
 
Jonathan Farmer recommends Bewilderment by David Ferry
Is it possible for a National Book Award winner to be overlooked? In poetry, yes. I didn't see a single review of David Ferry's Bewilderment, and I managed to overlook it myself, too. The first time I tried to read the book, I lost interest after a few poems. It wasn't until Alan Shapiro (a fellow National Book Award finalist) told me to take another look that I spent enough time to attune myself. But it's astonishing—a haunted book where ghosts prove that the haunted are still alive and allow for the continuing company of literature. Ferry interleaves translations, an excerpt from a 30-year-old poem of his own, and poems written by a dead friend, each one paired with Ferry’s response, to compose a book that reminds how real the past was, including its poems, and how urgent (and, yes, bewildering) it remains if remembered well.
 
 
 
There are plenty more books where these few came from, so please go to slate.com to read these articles and to hopefully find other articles that you might like.
 
 
Happy Reading!