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Friday, January 29, 2010

Giveaway: Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Remember Me? is the third of Sophie Kinsella's stand alone novels, and just as good as the other two that I have read so far!

Lexi Smart is a twenty-something who has job at a carpet and flooring company along with her three closest friends, is dating Loser Dave, likes to go out, and doesn't drive. She's just a regular girl who isn't perfect, at least until she wakes up in the hospital after a car wreck, remembering nothing of the last three years. Which includes how she managed to become completely fit with perfect teeth and the kind of accessories she might have only dreamed of in the past. Her husband (when did she get married?) also seems to be perfect, as does her new home (OMG it has a remote for EVERYTHING), and she finds out that she is no longer just a clerk in the flooring department but the director. The only problem is, she can't remember how any of it happened!

What follows is the humorous and painful (in more ways than one) story of how Lexi tries to pick up in her life where she left off, only apparently the new Lexi doesn't do anything the way the old Lexi of three years past would have done. She quickly finds out that everything is not as perfect as it appears, but can she trust what she's being told? And how do you keep secrets that you don't remember having?

My favorite two things I think are the marriage manual and the sunflowers, and that's all I'm going to say on that!

I highly recommend this one, in fact I stayed up late to finish it and was even a little teary at the end, but in a good way. I also loved Can You Keep a Secret and Undomestic Goddess. I haven't started the Shopaholic series yet, but I'm sure I'll love it if my feelings on these are any indication! For more information on Sophie Kinsella, please visit her website HERE.

And now for the giveaway! I am ready to pass along my used and bookcrossing labeled copy of Remember Me? to make a new friend! While I would love it if you made a journal entry at Bookcrossing on the book, which you can do anonymously if you decide Bookcrossing is not for you, the book is yours to do with as you wish. To enter, comment on this post and tell me what your favorite flower is. No flower, no entry! I will choose a winner on February 13th!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Character Exchange Program

The idea of a fictional character coming to life is one that I've been interested in for a long time, and I'm not alone. I remember reading the Dragonlance books when I was in gradeschool/junior high and wishing they were real (thank goodness THAT wish didn't come true!)

Last year I listened to The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde, the third book in the Thursday Next Series. In this episode, Thursday is taking a vacation/hiding out by taking part in the Character Exchange program, where she trades places with a character from a book. She chose Cavesham Heights a little known detective novel, hoping that would mean she would not be called on often to "perform". While there, she continues to work with her Jurisfiction mentor Miss Havesham from Great Expectations, who is just a hoot! This series is packed full of characters hopping in and out of well known, and not so well known books, and are just a lot of fun. I would have to say that the Thursday Next series is the most complex world built on the idea of fictional characters coming to life that I have read, and I'm really enjoying what I've read so far. I just love the voice that Elizabeth Sastre does for Miss Havesham, it's wonderful! She is a fantastic narrator! Check out the The Thursday Next Website for more information.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is another great book where fictional characters are not just on the page, but interacting in the real world. In this book there is again the idea of a Character Exchange, where if someone comes out of the book, someone else must go in. Meggie's mother disappeared when she was small. Her father Mo is constantly searching for a certain old book, and will never read aloud. These things don't really register to Meggie as connected until a stranger named Dustfinger appears, and then we learn that he is actually a character from a book that is trapped in the real world when her father was reading aloud. While Dustfinger wants to return home to his own family, there are other characters who were brought through that are quite happy to remain right where they are, and want to make sure that they can never be sent back. Inkheart has been made into a movie starring Brendan Fraser, and I thought they did a very good job on it!

One of my favorite movies of all time fits into this category as well. Labyrinth starrs Jennifer Connelly and Davie Bowie, in which a young girl left at home to take care of her step-brother while her parents go out for the evening, wishes her baby brother away, just like the story she had been rehearsing lines for in the park earlier. Jareth (David Bowie) the King of the Goblins then appears to her and tells her he has granted her wish and taken her brother away. Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), begs for her brother back, and Jareth gives her 13 hours to solve his labyrinth, otherwise the boy with stay with him and become a goblin. This is a Jim Henson film, so it has all the fun of muppet type characters as well! I think this movie made me a fan of David Bowie, as of course he also did the sound track for the it.

The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley is a very cute story in which the story is told from the point of view of the characters in the book, who are very much like actors who are always on call. Every time a reader opens the books, the needed characters must rush to the scene that is open to perform. Sylvie is the main character, and the heroine of the story. She's been a 12 year old Princess ever since the book was published some 80 years before, and she's ready for a change. The characters are never to look at the reader, but one time she does, and when the girl falls asleep, leaving the book open, Sylvie enters her dreams and finds a whole new and ever changing world. The sequel, Into the Labyrinth, continues the story of Sylvie. Now the book has been reprinted, and not only that, but it's being uploaded to the internet! The characters are busier than ever before, and are suffering from the stress of having so many readers around the clock. Not only that, but they must get used to a whole different way of reading, and being on the internet has opened them up to attack from a virus! I have not read the third Sylvie book yet, though I'll be on the lookout for it, The Constellation of Sylvie where she actually makes it into space! I'm interested to see how that goes for her! For more information on his work check out The Official Website.

The Maggie Kelly series by Kasey Michaels promises to be a lot of fun, I'm hoping to get to it this year in my reading. Maggie is a historical romance writer who has had to reinvent herself as a mystery writer when she gets dropped by her publisher. She invents a new hero and story, Alexandre Blake, Viscount Saint Just, complete with sidekick, and is very surprised to find him alive and real in her apartment! Maggie gets caught up in a murder where she is the chief suspect, and Alexandre insist on coming to the rescue and solving the murder, while Maggie is trying to keep anyone from finding out that he isn't a real person, but a character from her books. I'm really looking forward to these!

So, I know there have to be more books where characters come to life, or characters from real life become trapped/visit books, I'd love to hear about more of these!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2009 Reading Wrap-up

2009 has been a great reading year for me, I actually crossed the 100 mark, something I've not done before! I really hope I'll be able to maintain this new level, as my biggest complaint is that I can't read fast enough for my own tastes, yet I don't want to resort to skimming, I want to get everything out of the book that I can. Granted, I included audiobooks, YA books and Manga, all things that don't require as much effort as the typical novel, but since I'm making the rules, I can count them if I want to, right? ;)

Some quick stats just for fun, then I'll move on to what I consider the highlights of my reading year, the best of the best!

Total Read: 101
Total Pages: 24,240
Average Pages per day: 66.41
Top 5 genre's:
Romance: 20
Mystery: 19
Fantasy: 14
Teen: 14
Audio: 14

Here are my top picks from new-to-me authors that I tried this year:

Hands down the books that affected me the most this year are those of The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward. I almost never read all the books or even more than 1 of the books in a series one right after the other, but I couldn't get enough of this series. These are not short and fast either, they are generally 400-600 page books full of action and completely addictive! Going to work during this time period was torture as all I could think about was getting back to the Brotherhood, and 8 hours away was way too long! I was able to calm down the addiction to a manageable level once I got through the book for my favorite of the brothers, Vishous, but until then I was just driven! I have only Lover Avenged, the latest available in the series, and also J. R.'s start to a new series, Covet, both of which I hope to be enjoying soon this year. Lover Avenged will definitely be first though! I was taken completely by surprise at my reaction to these books, and am thrilled to have a new-to-me must read author!

Another new-to-me author that I've enjoyed this year is Elaine Viets, with her Mystery Shopper Series featuring Josie Marcus. Josie is a hoot with her different disguises for shopping, and her often partner in crime Alyce. Josie always ends up right in the middle of crazy situations that she must juggle with raising her daughter, keeping her mother who lives above her happy and dealing with the fallout from nosy Mrs. Mueller the next door neighbor. Not to mention the unrequited feelings of her other next door neighbor Stan, who is always willing to help out, but has to be the most boring person Josie has ever met, at least until book #4 Murder with all the Trimmings, I'm looking forward to #5 The Fashion Hound Murders to see if anything develops there. Elaine is also still working on her Dead End Job series, which I need to catch up on, most of them are here on Mount To-Be-Read patiently awaiting my attention!

Next up on the new to me authors we have Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series, which takes us into the dangerous and beautiful world of the Faerie Courts. I've listened to the first two of these on audio so far and really enjoyed them, Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange. These are not your cute flitting around and sprinkling sparkly dust faeries, wicked lovely is an apt description for them! Most humans remain blissfully unaware of the faeries all around them, not so Aislinn, who has always been able to see them. She is caught up in the intrigue of the courts as she is pursued by the Summer King, Keenan. Only wishing to be left alone by them, it's something she can never have, and she must face their existence head on. In Ink Exchange, one of Aislinn's friends, Leslie is brought into their world as she comes to the attention of the Dark Court King Irial, who is trying to keep his court together after the balance of power shift from Wicked Lovely. The concept of the ink exchange itself was intriguing, and I enjoyed the second book as much as the first, and am looking forward to the next two, Fragile Eternity and Radiant Shadows.

I continued on with some already explored authors this year too, and would definitely recommend them!

Kate Daniels #2: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Tir Alainn #3: The House of Gaian by Anne Bishop
Harper Connelly #2: Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris
Sirantha Jax #2: Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre
Stephanie Plum #12: Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
Study #2: Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
Thursday Next #3: The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
Twilight #2: New Moon by Stephenie Meyers

There were many other great books that I read this year as well, but I just don't have the free time or space to mention them all! I wish you all a wonderful 2010, filled with great books and whatever else fills the spaces of your own Happy Place!
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