Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent is book two in the Divergent trilogy.  It’s hard to explain this one without ruining the plot.  Tris has made it through the training and has been selected to be initiated in her chosen faction, but war between the factions has broken out.  As a divergent, Tris finds herself among the hunted and also discovers that there are more divergents like herself.  Tris and Four find themselves at odds, but also working together with a team to try to bring peace back to the factions as well as to discover, why are their factions?  Why is there a fence around their community, what is on the outside?  I still want to know!

Insurgent wasn’t a strong a novel as Divergent, but I still highly enjoyed it.  I read through it quickly and thought it was very action packed.  I can’t wait to read Allegiant and see how it all ends.  Overall, this series is great and highly recommended!

Book Source:  A Birthday Present from my Husband

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent has been on my “to read” list for a few years now.  It moved up my list this past year as my students kept recommending it to me.  My husband Ben got the trilogy for me for my birthday this past spring so I finally read Divergent over the summer.  It was a book I literally couldn’t put down and read far into the night.  It definitely lived up to the hype for me.

Beatrice Pryor lives in a dystopian Chicago as part of the Abnegation (selfless) faction.  There are five factions in this future world all based on an attribute.   These factions include Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).  Beatrice has never really felt a part of her Abnegation faction.  Sixteen year olds are tested to see which faction they should belong too and then on a certain day a year, they are allowed to pick which faction they will belong too.  During Beatrice’s test, it is discovered that she is Divergent; she could belong to more than one faction.  She is told to hide this fact.
Beatrice decides to pick a different faction, which means that she can no longer be with her family and friends and live the life that she always thought she’d live.  She reinvents herself as Tris and finds herself in a high stack game of survival to make it through the initiation in her new faction.  She also discovers her attractive instructor, Four.  Four is badass, but also seems to hide a sensitive side.

I love a good dystopian novel, but I also love novels where the hero is trying to find themselves and where they belong in this world.  That is what Tris is trying to do in this novel as well as try to survive in an ever changing world.  There is also tension and a chaste budding romance between Tris and Four that I also loved. 

Overall, Divergent was an action packed novel with great characters and an intriguing premise.  It kept me reading far into the night and only took a couple of days to read.  I highly recommend it.  I still need to see the movie!

Book Source – A Birthday Present from my Husband

Monday, September 8, 2014

Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

I love historical fiction.  One period of history that has always intrigued me is the French Revolution, and then the rise and fall of Napoleon.  The almost mythical love story of Josephine and Napoleon is one of the greatest love stories of all time as well as being a great historical story from one of my favorite time periods.  I admit to not knowing much about Josephine before she met Napoleon.  Therefore, I was very excited to have a chance to review Becoming Josephine, which is all about Josephine’s early life.

Rose Tascher grows up on a plantation on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean.  After the tragic death of her sister, she takes her sister’s place in an arranged marriage with Alexandre Beauharnais, son of the Marquis, by traveling to Paris.  An awkward “country girl” Rose has a hard time fitting in, particularly as her new husband tends to spend all of this time partying with other women and not introducing her to society.  Rose decides to take happiness into her own hands and learns to become a fascinating woman of society.  All of the while Rose longs for true love.  Then the terror strikes and the Beauharnais family experience a great rise as well as a great fall.  As a widow, Rose meets Napoleon Bonaparte and reinvents herself as Josephine. 

I loved Becoming Josephine.  I took it camping with us over Labor Day and had a hard time putting it down.  I read through it quickly and found myself wanting more at the end. I learned a lot about Josephine’s early life and find her rise to power very fascinating.  I also loved the love story and Josephine’s search for true love.  My only complaint is that I wish there would have been more detail on Josephine and Napoleon together and their ends.  Even more in the afterward about what happened to them would have been perfect.  I had to go online and look up what exactly happened at the end of their lives.  As this was Becoming Josephine, it made sense that the novel was primarily focused on the early years.  Maybe Heather Webb will write another novel on the later years?  I would read it!

Overall Becoming Josephine is a fascinating look into a complicated and interesting woman’s life and her search for love.  I highly recommend it!

I read this book as part of the TLC book tour.  For more information on the tour see the following:  http://tlcbooktours.com/2014/05/heather-webb-author-of-becoming-josephine-on-tour-september-2014/

Book Source:  TLC Book Tour / Heather Webb – Thanks!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Title: Macbeth
Author: William Shakespeare
Read by: Folger Shakespeare Theatre

Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio
Length: 2 CDs, approximately 2.5 hours
Source: Review Copy from Simon and Shuster Audio.  Thank-you!

Macbeth is the original Game of Thrones.  Murder, Betrayal, fantasy elements - Macbeth has it all.  I haven’t read the play since I was in Shakespeare in college so I was very pleased to be able to review this unabridged full dramatized audio production from the Folger Shakespeare Theatre curtesy of Simon and Shuster Audio.  

Macbeth is told by three mysterious woman that he will become the King of Scotland.  He tells his wife, Lady Macbeth, and she convinces him to murder the King while he is a guest at their home.  She does this convincing by basically telling him he isn’t a man unless he does it.  One murder leads to another and the Macbeths try to grasp onto the crown by eliminating any threat while slowly losing their sanity.

I loved the Scottish Music (I want the soundtrack) and sound effects.  It was wonderful having a cast of players for the play.  The only downfall is that having not read or watched the play for 14 years, I got confused on who was talking at times or where action was taking place.  Without being able to see the characters or read who was talking as well as stage directions, it was often hard to tell what was going on by pure audio alone.  That being said, I still would much rather hear Shakespeare than to read it.  When I read Shakespeare, I often read it aloud.

Macbeth is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.  It is succinct, action packed, and really toys with the question of power and corruption.  It also has wonderful quotes.  Some of my favorites are as follows:

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” 

“Blood will have blood.”

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”

“Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble!”

Overall, this is an excellent way to experience Shakespeare.  I enjoyed listening to it on my daily travels to work and I will definitely be looking for the Folger Shakespeare Company audios for future Shakespeare needs.