September 18, 2009

Friday Finds (New & Improved!)

Okay, it can't be both new AND improved. It's really just improved. But Improved! doesn't quite have the same punch as New and Improved! See what I mean? I thought you might.

So I have decided to try to include in my FF posts the reason each blogger persuaded me to add this book to my list. Anyone who reads my blog will know I like books on other cultures, historical fiction, and literary fiction, but what else draws me to particular books? What in the review strikes me?

Sometimes it is just the first time I have seen the book or it is from In Your Mailbox posts and the book's blurb intrigues me. Often times it is something that the blogger has mentioned in the review. Or both. So under each book title is a blurb from the blogger's post that helped seal the deal for me (Book summaries/blurbs in bold italics, blogger comments in plain italics.)

So who is responsible for the towering mountain of books this week?

Heather @ A High and Hidden Place:
Life as We Know It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
It’s Young Adult, it’s short, it’s the first in a trilogy and it’s dystopian. There seems to be a trend developing, not only in my reading, but in YA literature! Which is fine by me; I’m loving them all! Also, isn’t that a great cover? (Rebecca's 2 Cents: I love dystopian, I love short, and I am also finding myself in a YA trend as of late. Hmm...)

Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Because: Now Lucy learns there is a curse on her family. All the women are doomed to live 18 years of a normal, sane life. Then each girl becomes pregnant (i.e. raped) and looses their hold on their minds once their daughter is born. It is always at the age of 18, always a daughter, and always insanity afterwards. Obviously there is a villain here worthy of the utmost hate. He sets three impossible tasks for these women to complete, the tasks in “Scarborough Fair,” if they hope to break the curse. For hundreds of years, no Scarborough woman has been able to do it. Until now.(Rebecca's 2 Cents: Magical Realism a la Practical Magic, one of my fave movies.)

Andi @ Tripping Toward Lucidity: Estella's Revenge:
The Sword of Medina by Sherry Jones
Because: Before dying, Muhammad left his jeweled sword, al-Ma'thur, to A'isha, telling her to use it in the jihad to come. But what if the jihad is against her own people? After 20 years of distrust and anger, can A'isha and Ali come together to preserve the future of their people and their faith--or will their hatred of each other destroy everything Muhammad worked to build? This climactic sequel to the controversial "The Jewel of Medina" returns to 7th century Arabia to discover whether, after fighting a civil war, a people can ever truly heal.

Swapna @ S. Krishna's Books:
The Rebel Princess by Judith Koll Healey
Because: But intrigue is afoot in the palace: two monks have arrived from Rome on a mission to compel her brother, Philippe, the king, to help them battle a dangerous breakaway Christian sect in the south known as the Cathars. At the same time, Alaïs's aunt, the dowager countess Constance of Toulouse, is causing trouble in court, and Etienne Chastellain, the king's chief official, appears to be up to something more sinister than usual. From the opulent halls of Paris to austere monasteries in the south of France, The Rebel Princess combines history and suspense in an unforgettable tale involving one of the most enigmatic and intriguing female figures in medieval history.

Mel @ The Reading Life:
The Uninvited by Geling Yan
Because: The Uninvited is a fun, fast paced, vivid account of the life of a Chinese peasant, living in contemporary Beijing, who changes his life when he begins to impersonate a free lance journalist one lucky day. It is an easy to read, well plotted and deeper than it first appears.
Strangers: A Japanese Ghost Story by Taichi Yamada
Because: This is very well told story captured and kept my attention all the way to the last page. Of the five Japanese novels I have read this is the first one in which I could directly relate to the central character. The story keeps us interested and wondering right down to the ending. All of the characters are well developed. The dialogue is intelligent. We get a feel for the theater district in Tokyo. We learn a bit about how the TV industry works in Japan. We visit some apartments of Tokyo residents, we go out for some meals. For me it did create a vicarious sense of fear without any special effects. The fear that you are losing your mind or the fear that you have not. The fear that what you love the most will destroy you. Anyone who has lost beloved parents will relate to this story.

Vivienne @ Serendipity:
Angelica by Arthur Phillips
Because: First paragraph: I suppose my prescribed busywork should begin as a ghost story, since that was surely Constance's experience of these events. I fear, however, that the term arouses unreasonable expectations in you. I scarcely expect to frighten you of all people, even if you should read this by snickering candle and creaking floorboards. Or with me lying at your feet. //Angelica is a story set out in four parts, allowing each of the main characters to give their perspective on the series of events that occurredThis book is not what it seems. As it unfolds you begin to realise that there is more at work here than just a ghost story. This is also a psychological drama. The book is very dark and gives off that Victorian Gothic feel with ease. The book is very descriptive allowing you to immerse yourself in Victorian life. I always have this vision of Victorian life being dark and dirty and this does not disappoint.

Julie @ Booking Mama:
The Virgin's Daughters by Jeane Westin
The story of Elizabeth I, as it’s never been told before—through the eyes of two ladies-in-waiting closest to her… //
The first half of the book tells about Katherine and her love affair; and the second half of the book takes place almost 40 years later and tells Mary's story. Both women were ladies-in-waiting to Elizabeth and were expected to remain loyal to the queen; however, they both fall deeply in love with men whom they couldn't marry. What I found so interesting was how each woman chose to handle her relationship with the Queen while also handling (and hiding) her love interest. I think those of you who enjoy historical fiction, and especially Tudor books, are definitely going to appreciate THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTERS. It is not only a unique perspective on Queen Elizabeth and her court, but it is also a book filled with multiple stories about love and loyalty. (I also saw this over at Kristen's blog Book-n-Around.)

Stephanie @ Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic:

Babydoll: A Saylor Oz Mystery by Allyson Roy
Because:"Can't we do this another time? I, um, I've got a pole dancing class at eight? " Crack. The back of his hand caught me on the side of my face, sending me crashing to the cement floor. Fighting back panic, I squeaked out a plea, "You've made a mistake. I'm not the woman you are looking for." // If you are looking for a fun, fast read, I suggest you check your logic at the door, and pick up Babydoll. Especially for all of your mystery readers out there. It's definitely brain candy, but in the best possible way: Light and fluffy and fun to read!! I think I will definitely have to keep up with this fun series. 4/5 (Rebecca's 2 cents: If that first sentence doesn't say different-kind-of-thriller-mystery, I don't know what does.)

Casey @ A Passion for Books:
After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Maia Morland is pretty, only not pretty-pretty. She's smart. She's brave. She's also a self-proclaimed train wreck. Leigh Hunter is smart, popular, and extremely polite. He's also completely and forever in love with Maia Morland. Their young love starts off like a romance novel - full of hope, strength, and passion. But life is not a romance novel and theirs will never become a true romance. For when Maia needs him the most, Leigh betrays both her trust and her love.

Darcy @ Library Lounge Lizard:
Beating Heart by A.M. Jenkins
This house is mine and I am its beating heart. She is a ghost: a figure glimpsed from the corner of your eye, a momentary chill, and a memory of secret kisses and hidden passion. He is 17 years old: Evan Calhoun, warm and alive, and ever since moving to this big abandoned house, he has dreamt of her. Ghost and boy fascinate each other–until her memories and his desire collide in a moment that changes them both. Combining verse fragments with chiseled prose, A. M. Jenkins captures the compelling voice of a long–dead ghost and the perspective of a modern teen, twining mystery and romance in this evocative, sensual, and unrelentingly engrossing novel.

Charley @ Bending Bookshelf:
Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane
I like Dennis Lehane's Gone, Baby, Gone because it requires the reader to make a choice. In Gone, Baby, Gone, Lehane writes of the search for 4-year-old Amanda McCready, who disappears the night she's left home alone while her mother goes out to spend time with a friend. I think it's challenging to read a story like this without making a choice. Gone, Baby, Gone is the third Lehane book I have read. I am interested in his work because he causes me to react immediately and instinctually.

Mariah @ A Reader's Adventure!:
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? (Rebecca's 2 cents: I'd like to see the similarities/differences between this story and Fitzgerald's Benjamin Button, which I read earlier this year.)

Kristen @ Bookworming in the 21st Century:
Sleepless by Cyn Balog
Eron DeMarchelle spent seventeen years on earth before his death in 1908. Now, he’s part of another world that invisibly coexists with earth. He is what humans call in their bedtime stories a “Sandman,” and his only purpose is to seduce them to sleep night after night. This dull, meaningless existence wears on him until he falls for the one girl he cannot seduce, a human named Julia. He conspires with his oldest friend, the princess Chimere, to find a way to be with the object of his affection forever. But even the most carefully made plans sometimes have unexpected consequences . . .

Nymeth @ things mean a lot:
Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier
One of the most interesting things about Falling Angels was how it showed the contrast between Victorian and Edwardian traditions, especially those surrounding death. The book opens shortly before Queen Victoria’s death and closes right after King Edward’s, and the differences in the impact these two deaths had say a lot about how society had changed. Another thing I was very interested in was the role the Suffragist Movement played in the story.

Simon @ SavidgeReads
The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
Adam Foulds novel ‘The Quickening Maze’ is a novel based on factual events that happened in Epping Forest in the 1840’s. The book is set in High Beach Private Asylum where the poet John Clare is incarcerated. Well not incarcerated as he is allowed to wander the woods where he writes his poetry and dreams of his wives, yes wives. You see John Clare thinks that he is married to more than one woman though the depths of the why behind it is never really properly explained. It’s not just John Clare that we meet in the novel though of course. The prose is beautiful, you can tell the author is a poet himself, and the journey of John Clare into the depths of madness is written incredibly well so in parts you feel you are going through it with him.

Lahni @ Nose in a Book:
Simply Divine by Wendy Holden
(Rebecca's 2 Cents: Gasp! I know chick-lit. But Lahni shows me this one's different.)
This one was also typical chick lit but with a definite twist. It was also much longer than a typical chick lit novel. There is so much going on in this novel that it’s almost impossible to attempt a summary. Jane, a journalist, has just been dumped by her boyfriend when she meets socialite Champagne D’Vyne and begins ghost-writing her column. Jane isn’t a huge fan of Champagne but she keeps turning up in the most unexpected places. I really enjoyed this one and will probably seek out another novel by Holden the next time I’m in the mood for something light and funny.

What did you find this week? Do any of these strike you as well? Do you find my Friday Finds post is improved? Or does it makes no difference to you whatsoever and I put in the extra time just for the sheer amusement? ;)


  1. You found a lot of great looking books and did an awesome job of taking notes!

  2. Wow! Thanks for the shout out! If you find this many books each week, you'll be in trouble! :)

  3. Hi Rebecca,
    That's a lot of books! I have a couple of them on my TBR list. You've been tagged. Stop by my place, Just Books and find out all about it. Have a great day!


  4. Falling Angels looked interesting to me, too, but I don't know... some of the things that bothered Nymeth about it also tend to bug me. I'm still on the fence about it.

  5. Great finds! I especially love Impossible and The Rebel Princess (I hope that's right, I haven't heard of it before). I'll be following you and watching for those reviews! :)

  6. Yay! You found a book on my site! *dances* :)

  7. Well, you've had an excellent week of finding interesting books! I just got back from the book store with the hubby and he wouldn't even let me pull out the TBR list to shop. "Only one book," he said. I can't imagine why he would think I didn't need more books!

  8. I love how you included exactly what about the reviews got your attention!

  9. Oooh, now I want to do Friday Finds!
    I hope you like my book, now I'm worried because you posted about it!

  10. This Friday meme could be really bad for my mental health!!! Loved all of those that you listed. I need to learn how to speed read!! :)


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