Friday, December 27, 2013

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Hello Bookworms,
            Today I have a review of the longest book I read this year: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

            Anna Karenina is unhappy. After eight years, her marriage isn’t all that she hoped it would be. She has a son, Serezha, that she loves dearly, and Karenin, her husband, isn’t mean to her…he’s just distant. She’s not in a “bad” marriage, but she seems to be in a loveless marriage.

            Kitty Scherbatskaya is old enough to get married but her mother and father are divided as to whom she should marry. Her mother favors a military man. Her father favors an older man, a gentleman farmer, humble and kind.

            Constantine Levin is an over thinker. Everything in his life he decides on with too much thought including matters of the heart. He desperately wants to get married and he’s sure that if that is ever to happen, it will be to the one woman that occupies his mind. He longs to marry her and bring her to his farm and make a life together…if only he had the courage to ask….

            Vronsky is a military man and a bachelor. And now he has fallen for a married woman after meeting her on a train by chance. How will he deal with this new found affection…a married woman is out of the question…what will society think? Or does Vronsky care?

These four people are about to be intertwined in ways that none of them ever imagined was possible.


          I do not understand why this book ended up being called Anna Karenina. Honestly, after having read it, I am convinced that it would have been smarter to call it Constantine Levin. The story is, in volume, so much more about Constantine than anyone else in this book. And frankly, I find it easier to make Constantine the hero of this book that it is to make Anna the heroine. Anna is NOT heroine material. I feel sorry for her sometimes, but I definitely was not rooting for her. In fact, I found myself rooting for almost all of the other characters in the book before her. So many people suffered because of her!

            Overall I would say that because it is a classic, some people may want to read this book just for the experience of read THE Anna Karenina, however, I would only recommend that, if anyone is determined to read this book, they be a mature adult because of the long standing theme of extra-marital affairs (no, there’s no sex scenes). It’s not exactly a book that most parents would want their young one reading.

            I usually do not like to recommend that someone read an abridged version of a classic book because, in many cases, so much is missed when the book is abridged. However, after reading all 963 pages of Anna Karenina I would HIGHLY recommend buying an abridged version. There are whole chapters that have nothing to do with the actual plot of the book. Now, I am by no means saying that every book be no more than three hundred pages and all related to the storyline. That would be boring. What I am saying is that several detailed chapters on the word-for-word conversations about the specifics of Russian farming and the different political views surrounding it and the economics behind it is not exactly something you expect to read in a fiction story about the woes of an unhappy gentlewoman and housewife. And yes. It is about as exciting as it sounds.

            Aside from the details that are highly unnecessary, there are plenty of interesting twists and turns in the book and I think that the abridged version will bring those events closer together in the timeline of the story and make the story move forward more smoothly.

            So what am I saying here? Am I recommending the book or not? Truly, I’m not. But if you are bound and determined to read it, do consider getting the abridged version.


The Most Anticipated Books of 2014!

Hello bookworms!,
             I hope that you all had great Christmases! Hope you all got some books or gave some books! I personally gave several and received 17!! A book lover's dream!!  Now that Christmas day has passed, everyone is enjoying their gifts and thinking about the new year, 2014! With a new year comes new books as well! Here are a few that I'm eagerly anticipating this coming year!

1. Songs of the Shenandoah (Heirs of Ireland #3) by Michael K Reynolds
          I will admit that I have already read this book and I LOVED it! With this one, I am anticipating many great reviews! This epic conclusion to the Heirs of Ireland series is wonderful! There's action, suspense, and love. It comes out January 1st, 2014 Don't miss it! :)

2. Mark of Distinction (Price of Privilege Trilogy #2) by Jessica Dotta
         This year I read the first novel in this trilogy, Born of Persuasion, and it was a very enjoyable read. Plenty of action, mystery, and loads of suspense with a fast paced story line and a cliffhanger that will leave you breathless! You will want to know what happens next and on May 1st, 2014 (according to you can find out!

3. The Butterfly and The Violin (Hidden Masterpiece, #1) by Kristy Cambron
         Okay readers, This is one that I am DYING to get my hands on!! This book is a novel about the artwork found in Prison Camps. As one who has read novels about the Holocaust since Middle school, I was excited to find this new book about a subject from the Holocaust that I have not seen covered much. This is one you will not want to miss (especially you history buffs). Grab a copy when it comes out on July 15, 2014.

These are three main books that I am anticipating this year....but first, I think I'll start the ones that I've was given for Christmas. :)

Until Next Time,
              Lizzie <3

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The 6 Books of 2013 I Recommend for Christmas Gifts!

1.       Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay

Dear Mr. Knightley is a contemporary epistolary novel with a delightful dash of Jane Austen.

Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain.

After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress.

As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.

Why This Book?

            I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and I am in love with the concept of DEAR MR. KNIGHTLY I think that this book would please the Jane Austen Romantic in your family or circle of friends! This would also be a good book for someone who likes blending classical literature with the present!


2.     The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turanksy
Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?
Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Why This Book?

            I heard it said that this book is like Downton Abbey meets The Sound of Music (The good one…with Julie Andrews…not the recent incarnation that got terrible feedback J ). Carrie Turanksy is an established author who has written independently as well as for Love Inspired Books. I believe THE GOVERNESS OF HIGHLAND HALL will put a smile on a young lady’s face in your life this Christmas!


3.      In Golden Splendour by Michael K. Reynolds

Irish immigrant Seamus Hanley is a lost soul, haunted by his past as a U.S. Army deserter and living alone in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in 1849. But after witnessing a deadly stage coach crash, he finds purpose in the scattered wreckage -- a letter with a picture of a beautiful and captivating woman named Ashlyn living in San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush. Moved by her written plea for help, he abandons all and sets out on an epic journey across the wild and picturesque American frontier. While being pursued by those who want to hang him, Seamus encounters fascinating characters including a young Pauite Indian who makes the ultimate sacrifice in helping Seamus to cross the snowy Yosemite Valley.

Battered but changed for the better, Seamus reaches San Francisco on Christmas Eve as the city burns in the tragic fire of 1849. But there is little time for rest, as an even greater, more harrowing adventure involving Ashlyn is about to begin.

Why This Book?

            In Golden Splendour is the sequel to FLIGHT OF THE EARLS and would be a great book for both men and women on your list this Christmas. The main character in the book Seamus Hanley has a very interesting story that is sure to please all sorts of book lovers. For the history buffs on your list, IN GOLDEN SPLENDOUR covers several major events in history including the California Gold Rush. For the romantics on your list there is a wonderful love story. Finally, for the lovers of fast-paced books there is action galore! (Bear in mind that you don’t want your loved one to read these books out of order because it will spoil major plot details. So, if they haven’t read FLIGHT OF THE EARLS first, you may want to consider that book or both of them together as a gift J )


4.     The Heiress of Winterwood by Sara E Ladd

Darbury, England, 1814

Amelia Barrett, heiress to an ancestral estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s infant baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word—even to the point of proposing to the child’s father, Graham, a sea captain she’s never met.

Tragedy strikes when the child vanishes with little more than a sketchy ransom note hinting to her whereabouts. Fear for the child’s safety drives Amelia and Graham to test the boundaries of their love for this infant.

Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she examines her soul and must face her one weakness: pride.

Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline.

Both must learn to accept God’s sovereignty and relinquish control so they can grasp the future He has for planned for them.

Why This Book?

            I love historical fiction and when I read about THE HEIRESS OF WINTERWOOD I was immediately intrigued. I think that this book would be a great gift idea for those on your list who love Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs, and other programs. This would also be a great gift for lovers of history and historical fiction.




5.     Birds of the Nile by N.E. David

When Michael Blake takes early retirement from the British Embassy in Cairo, he books a long awaited birding trip. But halfway up the Nile he meets Lee Yong and things begin to change. Their tour guide Reda isn t all he seems either and when the Egyptian revolution kicks off, Blake finds himself embroiled in a tangled web of love and intrigue. Set against the background of the events of January 2011, Birds of the Nile is a powerful story of loss and self-discovery as three disparate characters, each with their own agenda, seek to come to terms with change. Part political thriller, part love story, Birds of the Nile is N.E.David s debut novel. Poignantly written, it reminds us of the complex nature of global cultural interaction and how, as individuals, we try to deal with it.

Why This Book?

            I think it is fun to follow an author’s career from the beginning where possible. While N.E. David has written several novellas, this is his debut novel. Part romance and part political thriller with a wonderful Egyptian setting, I think many will love this contemporary fiction! This might be a wonderful gift for both men and women on your list this year!

6.      Longbourn by Jo Baker

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own.

Why This Book?

            I love books that reimagine old favorites. I was a huge fan of DARCY’S STORY when I read it and now author Jo Baker offers another perspective of the story of Pride and Prejudice. I love the idea of the story being told from the maid’s point of view. This book has gotten great reviews and has even been Editor’s Choice in Daedalus Books ( I believe this book would be great for Jane Austen fans, or even for people who just enjoy the Pride and Prejudice movies from over the years!

I hope these recommendations help you find a great gift for your loved one!
                                ---Lizzie <3 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What to Give a Bookworm for Christmas

Hello Bookworms,

            Many of you are trying to find gifts for your family and friends. I’m willing to bet that most of you have one person on your list that LOVES books!! That might even be the only thing you know about some of the people on your list. To keep you from pulling any more of your hair out, here are a few ideas on what to give your favorite bookworm (or what to tell your friends or family to get you ;) )


Every person that reads books needs a way to mark their place and a bookmark is a perfect way! Bookmarks come in a very wide variety of materials, sizes, shapes, and colors. Every bookstore sells them and most of the time they are cheap! Bookmarks make good small gifts or stocking stuffers for the bookworm in your circle of family and friends!
                                             A funky beaded bookmark that sits in the center of the book


Maybe you’re looking for something a little more substantial that a bookmark but you don’t want to spend a ton. How about bookends? Bookends come in so many different forms that you’re sure to find some that will fit your family member or friend’s personality or home d├ęcor perfectly!

Book Covers!

Another small and inexpensive item is book covers. These little spandex covers keep hardback books from getting all scratched up over the wear and tear of reading them or carrying them around with you and would make a great gift for the family member who is a little rough with their books J
                                                                                           Great as a gift or a stocking stuffer!

Book Memorabilia!

A great thing to give a friend who super loves a particular book or series is memorabilia straight from the story! Three great examples are Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. These books have become very famous and have LOADS of merchandise from ornaments to figurines to games to t-shirts, jackets and much much more! Can’t find your family or friends favorite book memorabilia in store? Look around online! Many stores only carry the most popular ones so check their online stores or places like, etc. to see if there is any memorabilia out there for your loved one’s favorite story.



If you’re looking to spend a little more money, and your friend or families books are overtaking every space in their home, why not buy them a bookshelf? Whether in store or online, there is most likely a bookshelf to match your friends decorating taste. J


The best thing to give your book loving friend is, of course, a book! Listen to what they say around you and I’ll bet they will mention a book that they really want or an author that they really love! There are literally MILLIONS of books out there and they come in all price ranges so you are sure to be able to find one that you will be happy  to give your loved one this Christmas. J

Box Sets!

Do you have a friend or family member who is obsessed with a particular series of books? If they don’t already own a copy of all of the books in that series a good gift might be a box set of the entire series! If there is a series there is more than likely a box set of the whole thing so check out your local bookstores and online stores to see how to get one for your loved one!

Book lights!

            Book lights are an ingenious little item that won’t drain you Christmas shopping budget and will be of use to your book loving friend! A book light will allow your friend or family member to keep reading during a blackout, or when the person next to them at night needs to sleep with little to no lights on. They come in a variety of shapes and colors and usually only require a 2-4 small batteries. J


Do you have a family member or friend who loves books but is on the road a lot? What about a someone who is not able to see very well anymore but still loves stories? Well a great idea for these people is audiobooks! Just about every major book has been made into an audiobook and it allows people in compromising situations to hear the stories they love!

Decorative Book Boxes!

You have probably seen these in a lot of stores over the last few years. If your friend or family member needs something to hide valuables in, go for a more realistic looking book. If they just want them for storage and decoration, go for more decorative books!


     I hope these ideas have helped you figure out what you can give your book loving friend or family member this Christmas! J With just a little time and effort you can give your loved one a book related gift that they’ll really enjoy.

Until Next Time,

            Lizzie <3