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Week 26 Reading: “Justine”

This year is a bit of a milestone for My Year in Book Reviews! This week we are reading our last book for February’s “Month of Romance” theme, but it also brings about our 26th book – bringing us to the halfway point to tackling our goal of 52 books in 52 weeks!!

Congrats to everyone reading along!! We’ve had some great reads so far, and I’ve really enjoyed discussing the books with you! I look forward to 26 more excellent reads (well… 27 including this week’s book)! Thank you for reading along, and for visiting my blog and inspiring me to keep up with my goal!

ANYWAY….

This week we are tackling our final “Month of Romance” book, Justine by Lawrence Durrell.

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This book came as a recommendation from my mom, who gifted be with this entire series (the Alexandria Quartet) of lovely books about three years ago! This book is the perfect example of why I needed this book challenge – they sat on my shelves, untouched, for three years, while I focused on schoolwork and fueling my Netflix addiction (don’t judge me – I’m in recovery).

Justine is the first in the Alexandria Quartet, which are historical fiction novels. Here is the write up on the back of the book:

The time is the eve of the World War II. The place is Alexandria, an Egyptian city that once housed the world’s greatest library and whose inhabitants are dedicated to knowledge. But for the obsessed characters in this mesmerizing novel, their pursuits lead only to bedrooms in which each seeks to know—and possess—the other. Since its publication in 1957, Justine has inspired an almost religious devotion among readers and critics alike.

Sounds absolutely excellent! Great libraries, historical fiction, Egypt, WWII, possessing each other in bedrooms?? Seems like Justine will make a great closure to our “Month of Romance” and lead seamlessly into our “Month of Women” theme for March!

I hope you are reading along with me!

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Book Review: “How To Kill a Rock Star”

This week, we tackled a “new” book keeping with our January themeHow to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie DeBartolo.

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I actually was gifted this book from an online drawing at The Book Bosses, one of my favorite book blogs out there. After winning the online drawing (I was shocked because I never win ANYTHING), I received this book, signed with a message from the author. Check it out!!!

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When I was told I won, The Book Bosses told me “I’m so jealous.” Vote of confidence #1. When I opened up the package, my amazing friend Anna was there. She snatched the book out of my hand, and explained how much she loved this book and this author. Vote of confidence #2.

This book was NOT what I was expecting… and I mean that in all good ways!

The story line is rather simple: Eliza, young woman in her mid-20s, needs to start a new life for herself. Driven by her deep, inspired love of rock n’roll, she scores a lucky interview with one of the world’s leading rock stars (and her hero). With his help, she moves from the suburbs to New York City to start her job at a huge music magazine. There she meets her brother’s bandmate (and her roommate) Paul, an aspiring rocker with more than enough talent, good looks, and passion. Their budding romance is coupled by Paul’s rise to fame – but can their love handle the riggers of the music industry?

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! I cannot say it enough. You all know (because I’ve said it time and again) that I am NOT a fan of romances, but this book has just enough love, heartache, redemption, and rock n’ roll to keep me interested. The story is actually pretty basic, but it was DeBartolo’s writing style that kept me hooked. I really felt like I was Eliza, suffering her pains and fears, enjoying her elation and successes. DeBartolo has a way of really implanting into the heart and mind of her reader, inviting us to share in the shared experiences of love, loss, and the balm music is to the soul.

DeBartolo’s underlying theme of music really makes the novel a winner as far as I’m concerned. Regardless of a person’s taste in music, I think we can all agree that music has a way of speaking to us, a way of reaching us as nothing else can. We can truly find our emotions in music, and music is one way we can share those emotions with others. The melancholy of minor keys, the passion behind lyrics, the way we are able to connect with a perfect stranger because we know exactly how they were feeling when they wrote the song… DeBartolo uses that shared experience to make us fall in love with her characters. DeBartolo speaks to my inner music lover (music worshiper?) – something which made me feel 100 times more connected to her characters than I have ever felt about book characters before.

This was a book I had a hard time putting down! I really found myself thinking about the characters during the day – wondering what they were going to do next, how they were feeling, sympathizing with their pleasures and pains. It was as if Eliza and Paul were my friends who were experiencing this story, and that, to me, is the sign of a well written book!!

The last few chapters of the book are quite a shock, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself reaching for the tissue box more than once. DeBartolo’s words are honest, raw, emotion-filled, and absolutely breathtaking! Really, folks – this is a MUST READ!!! You will NOT be disappointed that you picked this one up (and you can thank me later)!!

You need to buy this book now!! While you’re at it, buy a copy for a friend! I cannot stop singing DeBartolo’s praises. This might possibly be my favorite book of the book challenge so far (this is book #20 for those of you who haven’t been following along). I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to spread the word about this novel or this author, and I am everlastingly grateful to The Book Bosses for introducing me to both!

Any thoughts? Have you read this book, or any other by DeBartolo? Do you believe in rock n’ roll? Can music save your mortal soul? Are you inspired to pick up DeBartolo’s novel?

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December Reading List

Hello everyone! Sorry for releasing this later than usual, but this one was a little tricky for me to put together. December’s theme for our “one book per week” challenge is “Month of Holidays.” My intention was to find books that would cover all the holidays in the month of December, but it was hard to find books to represent any holiday other than Christmas. I was a little ashamed that the book store had three aisles dedicated to Christian books and Christian fiction, but half a shelf dedicated to Judaism, and perhaps three shelves dedicated to “Eastern Religions.” I checked the comedy section and found plenty of books by Jewish authors, but nothing holiday related. I found tons of books online, but nothing downloadable, and nothing I wanted to pay $25 for.

So… I pieced together a list as best I could, and hope no one feels left out this month!

Dec 1 – 7 – Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris

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I am a big fan of Sedaris, who writes comedic novels about his life. In this book, Sedaris tells short stories about his family holidays in his youth, which will probably be hilarious and exceptionally entertaining! This will be a fun one to read along with, and I hope you can find it at the book store or the library (it has also been made into an audio book, so if you’re busy prepping for the holidays, this one will keep you entertained on your long drives). I’ll be honest – this book is short. I picked it for this week because I have three major essays due this week, and need to be able to spend my time focusing on my finals for my classes, rather than reading for pleasure. This one should be a good relief from the tension of finals week!

 

Dec. 8 – 14 – ‘Twas the Night After Christmas – Sabrina Jeffries

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I came across this one during a late night visit to Target with my husband. The store had put out their Christmas books, and I don’t think I’ve ever really paid attention before, but… there were shelves and shelves of trashy paperback Christmas books!! We had fun picking up the ones with the most ridiculous titles and reading excerpts aloud in the store, and we decided ‘Twas the Night After Christmas had the best potential to induce both giggles and blushing. I am not a huge fan of trashy paperback novels (oh, I’m sorry… “paperback romances”…) but I am doing this challenge to expand my horizons, and pick up books I never would have before. The cover alone was reason enough to know this was a winner (the most skin showing in Target’s aisles). I hope you can find it at the library or used book store – if not, you can get it on sale at Target or Walmart.

 

Dec. 15 – 21 – Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul – Arielle Ford

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Like I said before, I had a hard time finding books to represent other religions at this time of year, and this one was one way I could do that. This book takes short stories from people of all walks of life – different religions, backgrounds and countries – who have had experiences with angels, miracles and healings. I always find this time of year to be very magical, and I think a cup of hot chocolate is a great way to support our mystical souls during the holidays! This one might be a total dud, but it also might be enlightening and inspiring! I found it for $2.50 at the used book store, so … extra bonus!

 

Dec. 22 – 28 – A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

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Well, I couldn’t get through the holiday season without picking up this classic! I have never read it before – although I have seen about 100,000 movie adaptations (slight exaggeration). The week of Christmas is the best time to read this book, and I look forward to reading Dickens’s classic novel! I hope you’ll read along with me this week!

 

Dec. 29 – Jan. 4 – I Am Regina – Sally M. Keehn

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This one isn’t really holiday related, but I added it because, well, I am Regina! My birthday is December 31 and falls in the middle of this week, so I wanted to take the chance to read a book with my name in the title! This historical fiction novel is technically for children, but involves some pretty adult themes (a young girl’s family is killed by Native Americans, she is kidnapped and forced to live among them). I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and finishing out 2013 with a good book!

So there you have it – December’s “Month of Holidays” reading list! I hope you have time to get your books from the library or used book store (or download your ebook), and will join me for at least one book this month!

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