WELCOME to the Small Book Blog! I am a voracious reader. I love losing myself in books and cannot wait to read myself into my next adventure. It is because of this love for books that I created this blog. I want to share my passion of books with you! I hope you enjoy my recommendations and reviews. My goal is that they will lead you to a new book, series or author, that you can fall in love with and recommend to others as well.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reveal It Thursday!

Happy Reading Day! I hope everyone had a blessed memorial weekend. I know I stayed busy and enjoyed every moment of my three days from work. Over the weekend I was able to dive in and gobble up the rest of the Fifty Shades trilogy and start Nora Roberts’s new hardback, The Witness. Next on my reading list is a new author called Juliet Dark and her debut novel The Demon Lover.

If you enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, I would definitely recommend reading Fifty Shades Darker. I struggled a bit with the third book, Fifty Shades Freed, but most of the struggle was me getting upset with the characters. I’m talking to the point I almost had to force myself to stop reading because I was clenching my muscles in my irritation. In the end, I figured out why the author was being so dramatic and it was worth it BUT the third book was a struggle for me to get through. Another aspect I’ve enjoyed after reading the Fifty Shades trilogy is the crazy conversations I have found myself having with my various girlfriends who are also (or have read) reading these novels. It’s been an adventure and definitely not conversations we would have had on any other day of the week. LMAO!

What’s on your book shelf and night stand these days?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey

I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey to find out if all the hub-bub swirling around about it was accurate. For me and this recommendation it was delightedly worth it. The 50 Shades trilogy (I am currently immersed in book two of the series) has already been added to my books I hold dear to my heart. Not for the erotic scenes it was fanned about all over the media but because it has that incandescent spark that a reader finds only so often in a truly beloved book (or series). Some of those for me, to name a few, would be Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, A Discovery of Witches, Outlander, The Hunger Games Trilogy, and The Harry Potter Series.

The characters have realness to them, mainly Ana and Christian, which puts the reader at ease. E L James has created great chemistry between these unlikely lovers. For me, I loved reading about what they saw in each other, Ana falling into Christian’s office, Ana and Christian stumbling over each other to find an anchor within each other. While Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey may not the new Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet or even Claire and Jamie, they are, for me at least and I hope for others, right up there. I have fallen into their world and am rooting for them, commiserating with them, laughing, sighing, and melting as their story and journey unfolds. They have that quality about them that has me rooting for them despite the odds, hang-ups, fun e-mailing, and S&M tendencies.

This book is classified as an erotic novel. I have read others and it was just soft core or hard core sex set in scenes, much like a porn flick. The 50 Shades trilogy (so far at least and definitely in this first book) is realistic and the situation Ana finds herself in with Christian’s offer, while unique, is believable. The sex is not “the story” but an important component of it. The sex is delicious and leaves one panting. James has an incredible sexual voice, giving the reader sensations, feelings, textures. James is able to give the reader “vanilla sex” and then sex with a “kinky f***ery” twist. For me I appreciated the full out rawness of it. An author either needs to get into the sex scenes or give you a beginning and then an “afterglow”, a rated PG-13 or rated R movie if you will allow that as a comparison.

Fifty Shades of Grey, for the mature audiences out there, is a must read. For many, including myself, this trilogy is a new adventure and I am definitely learning about things I never would have dreamed of (in a good way).  That said, pour yourself a glass of wine and curl up with this great book.

Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell  is a hard book to recommend. Not because it is a bad story or poorly written, but because I would really need to know a person to recommend it. I was convinced to read it after the Time’s commented that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell “combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social comedy of Jane Austen into a masterpiece of the genre that rivals Tolkien.” After finishing the novel, I would say that most of that is true.

 Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell definitely reminded me of a novel written in the 18th/19th century. I pictured Jane Austen and Wilkie Collins conspiring over many occasions to come up with The History of Magic as told through the perceptions of Mr Norrell and Mr Strange. The book has fantasy, mythology of fairies, magic in England (both theoretical and practical), as well as war and politics. All of these dripping with that delicious sarcastic and ironic undercurrent we find in and love in Austen and Collins various publications. However, this is not a book to just slip into. There are times I enjoyed reading it and times it was tiring. It took till the end of the book to figure out what direction the author might be going with her characters. All I could figure out was that the main goal was to bring practical magic back into England by why of Mr Norrell or by Mr Strange, beyond that I could hardly form any expectations or theories.

Susanna Clarke has created a detailed world that includes history, other languages and other worlds, much like with Tolkien. Clarke also included footnotes; some absurdly long, to further the enjoyment and knowledge of the reader. The footnotes either explained a theory; tell a story related to the subject matter in the book at that current moment; or finish a history of a reference with in the storyline the author will not have time to include later or that the author wanted us to know something about.  Some I read and some I did not. It was a creative writing tool since much of this book is also presented through an academic voice.

Ultimately I think this novel let me down (although I started it with very high expectations). It was long, it meanders, it was academic theoretical magic rather than practical, it was gossipy; there were few “happy endings” and it left me uninspired. However, Clarke has created a novel with a great voice to take you on your journey to bring magic back into England and for that I was glad to have read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Christina Dodd's Betrayal

This is the third book in the Bella Terra Deception series. For me, Betrayal fell short, after reading the first two books and really enjoying them. I do not quite know why I did not enjoy Betrayal as much but I just did not. It was missing something. There was also a lot of story line crammed in and with this type of book that usually means it loses focus or does not spend enough time developing characters, emotions, and/or storylines.  I do not need the nitty gritty with this type of book, I know it is not going to be the next Outlander, but I want details, feelings, looks, descriptions and not just highlights. This was especially important for this book because of Noah and Penelope supposedly being soul mates. We need the chemistry and action of their past and throwing it into the fire to forge an amazing present. Dodd just did not quite deliver with Noah and Penelope’s story.

While this book left me a little unsatisfied, I would still recommend it as part of the series and for Christina Dodd fans. It is a classic contemporary romance with some suspense thrown in to hasten up emotions, love and of course “Ever After”.

John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick

I decided to read The Witches of Eastwick because of how often the entertainment industry tries to recreate the story on the screen and almost always fails. With that in mind I thought to myself, “This is going to be a crazy, fantastical novel with witches, maybe a warlock or devil, what an adventure. Eastwick has a magic pull that releases a woman’s femininity and craft.” However, after reading it I can tell you that I was disappointed and almost appalled at the book.

John Updike has a great voice and way of writing. Updike creates a picturesque landscape with vivid descriptions and a grittiness that you can almost feel in your teeth, with characters that are riddled with flaws and almost unbearably selfish. Updike gives us expert, sparkling double meaning descriptions and dialog that furthers the women’s movement. That said I could not identify, feel sorry for, or even cheer on the three main witches of Eastwick this novel focuses its story on (Suki, Jane and Alexandra). Beyond that I did not even like Suki, Jane , Alexandra and Darrell Van Horne. The story is about them so that tells you something. I was also sad that there was not much of a focus or storyline regarding the witchyness of the witches. It was like Updike wanted them to be witches so he could add in this one horrible plot twist (not giving you the spoiler) and could not figure out how to do it without using the craft.
I would recommend this book to readers who want to read a more classic novel or books that have an almost feminine mystique meets 19th century writing meets beatnik dialog.  As a side note, I just watched the movie The Witches of Eastwick with Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeifer. I enjoyed it much more than the novel. The witches were not as selfish, Darrel Van Horne was the devil I wanted him to be, and it had the comedy and fantastical characters I wanted to read that I think Updike just missed the mark on.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reveal It! Happy Friday!

It’s Friday, time to reveal your reading desires and needs.  I am excited to say my goal (and I will achieve it) is to finish Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I am getting anxious to finish it (I have no idea what the ending is going to be or what the main goal of the author seems to be even know, over 600 pages into the novel). I also finished reading The Witches of Eastwick this week and I was so disappointed and appalled in it. I had no idea such a popular book to movie/television, would end up like it did. The women in it were unbearably selfish and self-righteous.

So now I am working through my “to-read” book shelf to decide what to read next. I love choosing what to read next, there are so many possibilities and until you read it, you can very rarely be disappointed. Generally when I am figuring out my next read I choose it based on a favorite authors new book, maybe it is the next book in a series, maybe I am drawn in by the book’s cover art, maybe I am in the mood for “that” book or switch to a different genre, or if all else fails and I still cannot decide I will get three or four books I cannot decide between and have my hubby pick out my next read.

How do you decide what to read next?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lori Foster's Savor the Danger

This is book three in Foster’s tales of Men Who Walk on the Edge of Honor series. For reader’s familiar with the first two books, they know the characters Alani and Jackson and are ready to cheer them on. For those readers who do not, do not despair because the backstory of these two main characters is given to you. Savor the Danger starts with Jackson Savor waking up next to a very naked, sleeping Alani (a woman he has pinned quite a while for) and Jackson has no memory of what happened to get to this waking up point. Alani misunderstands Jackson’s reaction to the situation feeling rejected after a night of sexual ecstasy, but Jackson knows he was drugged and is unable to explain why. This is not good for a man in the mercenary business. From there the story weaves into a complex tale of human traffickers, stalkers, family love, cat rescues and steamy romance.

Foster does a great job building the sensations and relationships of the characters, both emotionally and sexually. Savor the Danger is arousing, captivating and thrilling. There were a couple of things that I needed to suspend disbelief for, but for the most part I did not mind. An example would be my issue with Alani’s character and her constant issue of being told what to do in the middle of dangerous situations. Me, I would listen and do as I was told by Jackson or the other mean in his business, then ask questions later. Alani gets angry, tells Jackson he is crossing the line and will not do it. She demands he ask nicely. Personally, when getting a directive to save my life and the lives of others, I am going to listen. Hello! This is their profession and training kicking in. It bothered me that Alani threw her little hissy fits. Not enough to dislike her as a character or the book though.  That said I also had fun imagining myself in some of the scenes Foster paints for us. Much of the story and action takes place in real residential areas. It made me wonder how aware I would be in a situation like Alani finds herself in. For instance, if someone were to cut the electricity at the meter outside my house, in the dead of night, would I wake up because of the complete silence? I would hope so but who knows! I might need to reassess my home protection.

Savor the Danger is a thrilling adventure from start to finish. I definitely recommend it for contemporary readers, romance readers, and absolutely for romantic suspense readers. It has it all: the hot sticky wet sex, dangerous criminals, and the joy and peril of falling in love.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Reveal it Friday!

Happy Friday! It’s time to reveal it! What’s everyone reading and looking forward to? I am (still) currently reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It is a 900+ page book so it is taking time to read and I am trying to still my impatience because I usually finish reading a book within a week. So far it is a fun read. It feels like Jane Austen and Wilkie Collins collaborated to write a book about real life neurotic magicians. May has brought cold temperatures and rain so I am thinking this will be a cuddle up and read weekend.