Book of the Month – November

To celebrate its movie release on November 8th, I’m spotlighting The Book Thief this month. (Sorry Catching Fire. I love you too, but you get enough hype as it is. You don’t need my help ;-)).

19063-1The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Synopsis

“The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.”

Jen’s Review

When people ask me, “What’s your favorite book?” I first glare at them, and then I tell them I don’t have a favorite (what book nerd does?). Then, when they still won’t leave me alone, I spout off a handful of memorable titles. The Book Thief is always on the list. Always.

How about a kiss, Saumensch?”

Now, I’m not going to lie: The Book Thief starts out a bit slow. You must be patient the first 100 or so pages while you warm up to the author’s style and the narrator’s unique voice. Once you get a grip on both, the story starts to fly by, faster and faster, until you can’t put it down and you’re heading towards what is shaping up to be a cataclysmic ending…Don’t worry, I won’t tell you what that ending is. This is a spoiler-free zone, remember? However, I will tell you that to this day (two years since I read the book) I still get teary-eyed about it. Happy tears? Sad tears? Tears of relief? Tears of frustration? Tears of I-can’t-believe-the-story-is-already-over!? Well, I’m not telling you! You’ll just have to read it and find out for yourself.

A small fact: You are going to die….does this worry you?”

I can’t express how much I love this book. And I hope everyone reads it, especially before they see the movie. Because, as great as the trailer looks, we all know the book is always better than the movie, right?

Jen’s Rating

5 Star

Read more about the Book Thief here!

Book Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

12842115Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Synopsis

“A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.
When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.”

Jen’s Review

Once again, Gayle Forman delivers!

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read all year long, and I finally got around to it. Thank goodness, too! Just One Day was wonderful. It’s more than a tale about lost love. It’s about finding oneself, too. It’s about how one day can change your life–how one day can change you. Shells can be broken, fears obliterated, and personal identities transformed. You can go from being weak to strong, scared to brave, cookie cutter to unique.

We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”

The things I love about Gayle Forman’s books are they aren’t cliche, predictable or particularly easy. Fear not, when I say “easy”, I’m not referring to the actual writing. That’s simple, smooth and enjoyable. I’m referring to the actual content. Gayle Forman is a master of conflict. She knows how to weave a story in such a way that the reader is simultaneously frustrated and satisfied. You want something to happen, but then something else happens that takes you in the opposite direction. And at first you’re all angry and confused about that direction, but as the story continues down that waylaid path you realize, “Oh, this is good. Very good.”

“Then he opened it for me. Held my hand as I walked through it. And for one perfect day, I was on the other side. I was somewhere else. Someone else. And then he was gone, and I was thrown back into my little room. And now, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to find that door.

Just One Day is truly all about self-discovery. And not just for Allyson (aka, “LuLu”), but for the reader too. You’ll learn things about yourself you never knew, and question things you never questioned before. I know I did. And, more than anything, you’ll want to be “LuLu” for a day. Just one day. 🙂

“’C’est courageux d’aller dans l’inconnu’: It is courageous to go into territory unknown.”

I’m already on the waiting list at the library for Just One Day’s sequel, Just One Year. And I can’t wait to read it!

Jen’s Rating:

4 Star

Read more about Just One Day here!

30 Excellent Bookstore Windows From Around the World

I couldn’t help it. I had to share this post with you! As Liz Lemon, one of my favorite TV (yes, TV) characters would say, “I want to go to there.” Hope you enjoy the eye candy 😉

Colorado, my beloved state, floods

I have lived in the great state of Colorado my entire life. And I love it with my whole heart. I love waking up to the sight of “my” Rocky Mountains, breathing in the thin Mile High air, and basking in the average 300 sunny days/year. And I love how the mountains are an official direction on our compass–north, south, away from the mountains, towards the mountains.

Colorado is home. And it always will be.

564288_10100474727938393_1583707023_n

As many of you have seen or heard by now, my beloved state has been ravaged by Mother Nature. For a week, we’ve been drenched with so much rain, that many communities are now underwater. As of yesterday afternoon, there were 17,494 homes damaged, 1,502 homes destroyed, 11,700 people evacuated, 5 people dead, 1,253 people unaccounted for, and 26 shelters. According to the news, the air evacuations for this storm are the second largest to Katrina.

MANITOU FLOOD

Let me emphasize how UNUSUAL this storm has been for Colorado. Simply put, we don’t get days upon days of rain. It’s weird, the epitome of strange. Far, far, far stranger than having a sunny day interrupted by a raging blizzard that’s melted within an hour by the sun’s warm return. Freaky weather is the norm here (probably why most of us have sunblock, an umbrella, a jacket and mittens stored in our car year-round.) But endless rain? NOT normal. At all.

On Saturday, a miracle happened. I awoke to blue skies! I can’t even describe how happy I was. I cheerfully sat down at my desk and began working on my manuscript, all the while grinning at the sun rays streaming in through my windows.

A few hours later I left to go get some lunch and this is what I saw creeping towards me from the south:

1184810_10101180968371903_147437080_nI wanted to cry. I never thought I would hate the rain. Rain has always been a friend–a blessing. It’s Colorado’s savior when the wildfires are out of control and the smoke is so thick, we have to close our windows to keep the ash from entering our homes. This time, it’s been our enemy–a never ending nightmare.

The local weather described this historical storm as a wet towel being wrung out over our state. The clouds crawled over the mountains, spread out across the metro area, and then swooped back to the mountains, only to get stuck at their base, dumping billions upon billions of gallons of water on us. We’ve been told if this rain had been snow, we would’ve received at least 7 to 10 feet. 7 to 10 FEET! Do you have any idea how much snow that is? Last year, we had a blizzard that dropped 2-feet on us, and I was literally stuck in my house for two days.

IMG_4365

Personally, I have been blessed. I live south of Denver where the storm didn’t strike quite as hard. But it did strike, and everyday I left for work, I prayed I’d return to a dry, intact house. I did.

Unfortunately, the communities north of Denver (less than an hour away from where I live) did not experience the same relief as me. Communities like Boulder, Fort Collins, Evans and Greeley have been devastated by this unprecedented storm. Schools and universities have been shut down, homes have been evacuated, and many people have been stranded because no help can reach them. Some towns can’t even drink their water because it’s been contaminated, and others aren’t allowed to shower, flush their toilets or do the dishes for fear of contamination. It’s a disaster, one I never, ever, ever thought I’d see in Colorado. We experience deadly lightening, freezing blizzards and burning forest fires. Not hurricane-like floods.

2013-09-14T024215Z_193094469_TM4E99D1QTG01_RTRMADP_3_USA-COLORADO-FLOODING

According to the news, we’re in for another day of rain. They predict that some of these storms could produce up to an inch of water in less than 30 minutes. Sigh…

However, it appears there IS a light at the end of this dark, gloomy tunnel. After today, the sun is supposed to come out and the temperatures are supposed to rise. I’m praying that’s true. And I’m praying for all those who’ve been so tragically affected by this unthinkable storm.

If you’re looking to help in any way, click here!

1450298285_orig

Book Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

17252041Inferno by Dan Brown

Jen’s Review

Once again, we’re taken on a splendid, action-packed, historically drenched…

Sorry, I dozed off for a second. It’s sorta become habit after reading Inferno. BORING!

Honestly, I could end the review there and be fine with it, but I suppose I should give you a little more feedback. *Sigh…Okay, it’s not that I hated Inferno (that would imply I felt something about it, which I really didn’t.) The most I felt was disappointment. I thoroughly enjoyed Dan Brown’s earlier novels, up until Lost Symbol. That’s when it appears he lost his magical touch.

Now, I can’t say Inferno was QUITE as bad as Lost Symbol, but it was close. And I think it was because Dan Brown fluffed the entire thing up with descriptives. Every painting, every building, every statue, every floor, every ceiling, every nook, every cranny…everything had to be broken down into finite detail. I don’t know how many times Robert Langdon would be running for his life and he would glance over to admire the turrets of Del Historical Building. I literally began skimming pages, knowing they had no real consequence on the actual story.

Another thing that’s starting to bother me about Dan Brown’s books is Robert Langdon’s sheer dumb luck and gee-golly! coincidences. A shadow hits an artifact at just the right angle and Langdon is magically struck by an epiphany! “Look at this,” he whispers in amazement. “The shape of the shadow on this rare coin reminds me of this unheard of painting that will help lead us to our next clue!” (or whatever).

I will say the general premise of Inferno was intriguing, but all of the twists at the end were not unexpected. In fact, I predicted at least half of them and wasn’t shocked by the rest.

Here’s to hoping Lost Symbol and Inferno were unfortunate misfires, and Dan Brown’s next book will deliver the same edge of your seat, hold your breath moments that his earlier novels did.

Jen’s Rating

2 Star

For a full synopsis, click here.

Jen Is Reading…

I read. A lot! So make sure to check the  Jen Is Reading…section often to find out what’s currently capturing my imagination!

Fire flower

Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I’m very excited to dive into the second book in the Covenant Series! Read more about Pure here.
If this doesn’t do it for you, check out Jen’s Top 10 YA Series here!