Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Books That Have Been On My Shelf For The Longest But I’ve Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, another book review site that I follow. Every Tuesday they post a new topic/theme for the bloggers to answer. Lots of other blogs participate and if you know anything about me, you know that I love lists. So this is quite perfect.

This week’s Top Ten refers to books I’ve let collect dust on my shelves and never picked up. Oi, narrowing it to ten should be tricky!

1. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. I do believe this one has been on my shelf/in a box for at least six or seven years. I bought this when I was under the impression that the only good books were those that were huge and long and heavy to carry around. Obviously, I haven’t read this one so I can’t say whether that holds true or not. ; )

2. Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.. My brother gave me this book years and years ago while we were on a bus home from college for the weekend. I know I’ll love it, I just fell asleep on the bus that night and didn’t open it.

3. John Adams by David McCullough. I remember watching a tiny bit of the HBO miniseries that aired a few years ago. My mom was glued to the TV for hours and hours on end watching. Since then, I’ve wanted to read the book first (as soon as I discovered it was based on a book). It’s sat on my figurative to-read shelf for years, but I impulse bought it yesterday when I started thinking about this list.

4. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. So the movie came out last year. And it seems pretty great. I love inspirational stories. But I was in the midst of a big re-read of the Harry Potter series so when I bought this book, immediately onto the shelf/stack it went. And as time progressed, more things piled on top. So finally, when I felt I had nothing else to read and I searched through my stacks, I

Review | Selene of Alexandria

 

Oh my goodness. My first review. And my second post within the same day. Unbelievable. xD Happy Review it on Wednesday!

Title: Selene of Alexandria
Author: Faith L. Justice
Publishing: Booklocker.com, Nov. 2009
Page Count: 350 pgs.
Format: Kindle Edition
Why I Read It: The group Historical Fictionistas on GoodReads featured it as the group read of the month.
Rating:  2.85 stars

My favorite genre. My favorite time period. Even a feminine heroine and a certain level on unpredictability. It’s a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned. Yet I couldn’t even get it up to 3 stars. I’ve always been a “rate at an integer” kinda girl. But this book deserved a category on it’s own. I have inherited a rating scale that says a 2 star rating is one that needed more. I started this off by mentioning everything it gave me. I can’t imagine what more I needed. The scale says that a 3 star rating is that it was a so-so read. I think it was less than so-so, perhaps even mediocre. Somewhere in between, I think so. Here’s the synopsis, provided on Amazon:

Young, gifted, and strong-willed, Selene longs to rebel against the restrictions of her class to become a physician, But in AD 412, the women of rich Christian families never lower themselves to work in a profession.

Selene perseveres and gains a powerful champion–Hypatia, the renowned mathematician and Lady Philosopher of Alexandria. But the next three years are perilous. Selene and Hypatia are drawn into the heart of a struggle between the ambitious bishop and the new governor for the soul of the city–a struggle that enmeshes Selene in accusations of witchcraft and spirals into a series of bloody confrontations between Christians, pagans, and Jews.

Selene comes of age amidst riot, plague, and political intrigue; but will she survive the consequences of her own ambitions and impulsive nature?

Sounds interesting right? Even people who don’t read historical fiction as obsessively as I do would like this, I should think. And they do! Reviewers on Amazon and GoodReads raved about this one. I believe I’m the first to not like it all that much… So here’s what happened for me.

I knew nothing about this time period for Alexandria, Egypt. I typically read about Greece and Rome in this era. Before this, I’d heard no more than a whisper of Hypatia. Orestes and “Saint” Cyril were completely unbeknownst to me. So, what I can take away from this is that I learned loads. I met some characters that actually existed 1600 years ago and that always pleases me when reading historical fiction. It’s really the only place that can happen. But I digress…

Because I like to end on a good note…

The Bad
The author mentioned somewhere that she wanted to get a viewpoint on the political and religious turmoil in this state from the eyes of a common person exposed to it. Hence the entrance of Selene, Philip, Rebecca, etc., all of the author’s imagination. Great. I love when authors do that. They mix enough of the actual history with fiction that it makes sense. But the issue I have here is how predictable these characters were. It seemed that they could do nothing surprising. No cliffhangers. Call me a sucker for cliffhangers but I was bored with them. I knew what they would do/say/think/react to next. Not ver batim but I fancy myself experienced enough to have a good clue. I realize that there is a certain level of predictability that comes with the creation of a character for a novel. There’s only so much one can think up without sounding like a mad person who is intentionally trying to make the wackiest character out there. But when it’s blatantly obvious to a non-writer who the fictional characters are and who are based off real people, one has to wonder.

A piece of me wants to mention the preachy nature of this book. But I realize that that was really the point. Religion was meant to be a main focal point. I just sorta felt like it was being forced down my throat on several occasions – evidence suggesting atheism, I might add.

The Good
The author did an amazing job with the characters Cyril, Orestes, Hypatia, etc. I love them. I remember them. I feel like I knew them and I want to read more about them. They were engaging, dynamic, exciting and unpredictable. They felt like real people. Everytime Hypatia and Orestes had conversation, I was enraptured. To me, they shined enough that the other characters disappeared into the shadows. Was that the point? I doubt it seriously.

I also think the author showcased the major events well. The purge of the Jews and ensuing Plague, the various riots, even women in professions in this era were all well described and invigorating. There’s no doubt, it kept me clicking the page forward on my Kindle. I just wasn’t thrilled silly.

Sometimes I think I’m too harsh, too critical of these writers when I’m not a writer myself. Who am I to judge this person’s work? But I can’t help it. Am I too hung up on the fictional characters bit? I’d like to go back and say “yeah, I should let that go”. But this is historical fiction. She’s supposed to do well on the research and the made-up parts. And if there are so many writers out there who do this so well (Diana Gabaldon, Paullina Simons, Arthur Golden, etc.), why can’t she? She’s got to be held to a higher standard because she writes for a genre that’s composed of two equally important parts. We’re meant to believe this and I wasn’t sold.

I don’t particularly recommend this. My best suggestion when I review something as not great or worse, is to go out and read it yourself to form your own opinions if you so choose. My word is that of a 23-year-old non-writer, first-time reviewer.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments. Change my mind, I’d love to hear it. Happy Reading!

By jboehret Posted in Review

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly…”

“… But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.” – Kazuo Ishiguro

I love when the quote of the day on GoodReads makes such sense in my life. Happens more often than one would expect but nevertheless, I love that.

Hey readers, all none of you. Sorry for my extended absence. Excuses not necessary but I was on vacation with Danny for a week. A whole week of sleep and relaxation and getting as far away from modern technologies as is feasible. That being said, I did have my laptop and I did use it and I had ooboogles (technical term there) of free time. But I allocated that time to puzzle doing, failing and making an old family recipe of french toast and watching the ever epic Steve Wilkos show.

At any rate, now I’m back to my monotonous same old same routine and I can drop in every once in a blue moon to catch you up on the happenings in my life. So here’s the scoop. I have my concerns about my relationship because things are changing and I don’t like change. I’m probably worrying like a typical stupid girl… I detest my job. It’s driving me up a wall that I’m so useless and I have to endure it for another year or so. My family is ridiculous but I miss them so. I have no friends. And still, I cannot get this smile off my face. Why? Danny. He is seriously the sunshine in my life and I wouldn’t know what to do without him. Even with my concerns on our evolving relationship, I cannot get enough.

And that pretty much sums it up. Pretty uneventful but I kept it concise for a reason – if there are readers here, surely you don’t want to be bored to tears by my ramblings that are no different than any other person’s life’s ramblings. So I wanted to take this time to switch over to the actual reason I started this blog: Books.

I have recently rekindled my love and affection for reading. Sad to say this, but it’s pretty much taken the backseat to everything else in my life. And then something magical happened. While watching football for the sixth hour in a row this last Sunday – me bored to near insanity, Danny happy as a clam – I picked up my Kindle and just started reading. And it was amazing. I could still be there with my man, catching bits of the game occasionally (I do have a Fantasy team, too, ya know) and conversing when necessary – but let’s face it, he’s watching football so conversing about anything isn’t at the top of his priorities either. Then I discovered the new feature on Amazon. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. It’s this great thing where the owner of a Kindle (moi), can borrow an eBook once a month from a selected list of over 1000 eBooks. It requires having an Amazon Prime membership ($79 a year) but there’s a one month trial period. So I signed up for that and within moments had Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn in my hands. It’s been on my To-Be-Read (henceforth known as TBR) shelf for months now. I even bought the Audiobook. But I hate Audiobooks as it turned out so there’s $20.99 gone to waste… Well, it’s been a couple days, I’m nowhere near finished but I’m in love all over again. It’s definitely developing into one of those books I’ll carry with me long after I’ve finished reading it.

Staying on the subject of books, I have finished reading two books now. I mentioned having finished Selene of Alexandria (Faith L. Justice) in my last post. And since then, I purchased and read Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater within the span of about two days. There is something about Young Adult novels that I just swallow. I dunno if it’s because it’s targeted to younger audiences and therefore an easier read? Or the books are just that good? Or maybe I set my expectations low given that I used to avoid the genre at all costs? Regardless, I swallowed it. And I loved it. A friend of mine has a wolf obsession. She reads anything related to wolves/werewolves that she can get her hands on. I sorta understand it now because Stiefvater’s werewolves are awesome. I’ll have to stop rambling and save it for the review.

Speaking of reviews, I don’t think I’ll review every book that I read. Given my newly found again love of reading, I’ll be reading at a rather rapid pace. And since my history with writing in this thing is abysmal, I won’t be able to keep up. So I’d like to instill a weekly review. One day where I review something or a couple things depending on necessity to get the word out there. Since review ends in “w” and I have the least amount of things going on on Wednesdays, I hereby announce the beginning of Review it on Wednesday. So there you have it. Yes, my first Review it on Wednesday will be today. Bet you’re sitting on the edge of your seats when anticipation for that one.

Also starting next week is this thing called Top Ten Tuesdays. It’s run by “The Broke and the Bookish”, a phenomenal blog I  just started following (link in the column on the right under “Blogs I Follow”). Anyway, every Tuesday, they post a topic for the top ten (such as Top Ten Childhood Favorites) and the followers list their top tens based on the topic. I think it’s a great idea and it’ll force me to get on here at post every Tuesday.

So, I’ve got two days of five (the weekends are devoted to Danny, sorry readers) covered. Either I’ll come up with themes for the other days or just wing it and say to hell with it. Well that’s it for that. See you all on my next update which will hopefully take place sometime within the next month or so!