Posts Tagged ‘Early Reviewer’

The 19th Wife – Book Review

May 23, 2008

19th Wife cover LT BirdThe 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Release date: August 5, 2008

David Ebershoff’s “The 19th Wife” appears at first to be a daunting novel, weighing in at close to 600 pages, including the author’s note in the beginning.  I admit to cringing when I saw the size, sure that it would be awhile before I would get to any of my other books.

How happy I was to find out I was mistaken!  This book was so enjoyable that I read it in little more than 48 hours, sneaking a page here or there whenever possible.

“The 19th Wife” is a multi-time period story dealing with the legacy of polygamy in Mormonism and Morman fundamentalism.  The main characters are Jordan Scott – a young man kicked out at 14 years old of a polygamous community in Utah calling itself “First Latter Day Saints” for holding his stepsister’s hand – and Eliza Ann Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young turned moral crusader against polygamy.  Like Eliza Ann, Jordan’s mother is also a 19th wife.  Jordan is drawn back to Utah and back in contact with “The Firsts” when his mother is accused of murdering his father.

I have never read a book quite like this, historical fiction mixed with a present-day murder mystery.  I imagine that in a lot of cases, such an attempt would fail miserably.  With “The 19th Wife,” however, pulls it off brilliantly.  Mixed in with the two stories, Ebershoff included “documents” such as Wikipedia articles and requests for permission to research in LDS Church archives, as well as letters or memoirs of other historical figures and a thesis paper.  Instead of breaking up the action, this seems a clever way to impart to the reader information that neither first person narrator should have.

Although I was slightly disappointed at the way the murder mystery wrapped up in the present-day story thread, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I loved the concept, I was ecstatic that the author saw fit to include a “what’s true, what’s not true” note at the end of his book – why don’t more authors of historical fiction do this, by the way? – and I enjoyed both the story and the writing.  I will be on the lookout for this Ebershoff’s previous and future works.

Buy this book on Amazon

Two Brothers: One North, One South – Book Review

April 29, 2008

ER BirdTwo Brothers CoverI gave up on my April ER book “Two Brothers: One North, One South” by David H. Jones. I simply do not understand the audience. It seemed that the author was using big words just for the sake of using them, yet the dialog was almost insulting in its assumption of the reader’s intelligence. Minus the unnecessary vocabulary, which made the dialog in particular stilted and wooden, the writing seemed more appropriate for a book geared towards middle school audience as a way to teach them the basics of the Civil War. I didn’t get as far as I wanted, but I couldn’t stand to continue reading a book that was so silly and yet insulting to my intelligence when I have so many good books in my TBR pile.

Do not read this book. Don’t even think about it. See an example of why below.


U.S. History Early Reviewer Morning: The Civil War, FDR

April 21, 2008

My April ER book arrived this morning (actually, our wonderful mailman Irving left it in our mail slot on Saturday, but I got it today).  The book is called “Two Brothers: One North, One South” and is historical fiction about the Civil War, the story is narrated by Walt Whitman by David H. Jones.  It is not actually an ARC, but is a very pretty hardback book that arrived in wonderful condition, personally autographed by the author, with two lovely book marks inside (both with information about the book).  I will have to decide what sort of historical fiction I’m in the mood for next: this, or a story of Juana la Loca.

Funnily enough, this same morning that I received my April U.S. historical fiction ER book, I saw a story in the New York Times about my March bonus batch U.S. history ER book.  This article discusses Joseph Persico’s new book Franklin and Lucy, the research therein, and the Roosevelt’s parallels to the Clintons.  Read my review of the book here.


April 17, 2008

I have started to get a fair number of books that need to be read (and usually reviewed) at or by a certain time. I’m currently on my 4th consecutive win of Early Reviewer books, I’m beginning reviewing on ReaderViews, I’m taking part in a few theme reads on LibraryThing, I’m getting an ARC from the Barnes and Nobles First Look Book Club, I keep trying to receive Harper Collins First Look books, I’m part of a blog tour, and I’ve got my book club.

For each of these things (and hopefully more in the future!) there is some sort of deadline. Obviously I’m not going to be kicked out of book club or the theme reads if my book isn’t done on time, but not finishing and reviewing/discussing the other books on time would not be conducive to receiving more books.

I was afraid that I was just going to simply forget to read a book in its allotted time, so I’ve decided to schedule out (some of) my TBR time with the books that need to be read at a certain time, using the handy-dandy Google Calendar. The link to my TBR Calendar can also be found on the right-hand side of my page under “Devourer’s Stuff”. As long as I’m doing this, I might as well include the other books I read that didn’t HAVE to be read, so I will add other books as I read them and edit what I read to reflect the correct dates. Books that ‘had’ to be read will be indicated with asterisks.

Feel free to check out my calendar!

ReaderViews Reviews

April 14, 2008

My application has been accepted and I will be reviewing books, about two per month, for Reader Views. When I first sent my application in, they said that they were not currently looking for reviewers, but I got an email this morning asking if I were still interested. Since I answered in the affirmative, I was asked to pick 3 books from a list in order of how much I wanted them and will be sent two of them. The reviews I write for these books are the property of Reader Views, but I will be able to post them here as well with the information that the books were reviewed for Reader Views. Each month you, loyal readers, can enter to win some of the books reviewed by Reader Views as well.

Because I was initially told “we’ll keep you in mind”, I was contemplating applying with another site, Front Street Reviews, but I think I’ll have to wait and see how it is with Reader Views and Library Thing‘s Early Reviewers. Between these and my book club, that’s an awful lot of books that are basically mandatory in a month, and I’d hate to completely abandon my TBR books, the books I want to re-read, and my ever-growing wishlist.
ETA: Look for reviews on the following books soon:

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner See review here

Historical Genesis by Richard James Fischer See review here

Franklin and Lucy – Book Review

April 8, 2008

Franklin and Lucy coverLT ER birdJoseph Perico’s latest book is called Franklin and Lucy: “President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherford, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life.” This is an incredibly readable and engaging history of President Roosevelt as seen through the lens of his relationships with women. Unsurprisingly, the book deals primarily Eleanor and Lucy Rutherford.

Overall I thought this book to be fantastic, it read very easily for the most part and had some interesting new research. It is a book I would absolutely recommend to anyone interested in the history of any of these people. Much of the first half of the book was devoted to Eleanor and it was perhaps her psyche that was most deeply explored of any.

The most difficult thing for me in reading this book was finding its true sense of purpose. I was not sure if it was meant to be simply a history of FDR told through his relationships with the variety of women in his life, or if it was supposed to be more about the women and their relationships with FDR, and how those relationships influenced his presidency. My frustration was that I believed the goal to be the latter and, while it was present, the former dominated. I finally achieved peace with this in the last chapter of the book, entitled “A Judgement” which was really Perico’s summation of his work. In this I learned that the purpose of the book tended more towards a different lens through which to write an FDR biography, which just happened to include the psychological effects on Franklin that these relationships had. That being the case, these peeks into FDR’s development were merely a welcome treat. It would not hurt, however, for future editions to have more of a thesis statement in the introduction than is currently there.

The other thing that bothered me while reading the book was a lack of mention of Japanese internment during the war. However, this omission is easily explained if this was not something Roosevelt particularly discussed with the women in his life so, while it bothers me, I do not think it necessarily a failing of the book.

Viewing history through relationships often makes it much more accessible for the casual studier. No matter your degree of knowledge of and familiarity with FDR and his presidency, this book is worth reading.

Buy this book on Amazon: Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherfurd, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life

Franklin Roosevelt ARC

April 1, 2008

Early Review badgeI don’t think that I shared the joy that I actually was chosen for two LibraryThing Early Reviewer books. Random House offered LibraryThing a bonus batch in March and I was chosen for Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt, Mrs. Rutherfurd, and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life in addition to The Venetian Mask that I ‘won’ in the regular batch. Well, the Venetian Mask still hasn’t shown up for me (or anyone else, as far as I can tell), but Franklin and Lucy was brought to me today by my buddy, the UPS guy who delivers to our office.

I suppose that this means I will be reading Franklin and Lucy first, unless perhaps my other Early Reviewer book comes with our fantastic mailman Irving at noon (why do we have such great mail delivery men at my office?), in which case I might go ahead and read it first. I only got through the first (very short) chapter in The Handmaid’s Tale, so I guess Margaret Atwood is going to have to get shifted back…

Let me just finish by saying that Brian is VERY EXCITED for our budget that I am getting these free books. In addition to these two LibraryThing Early Reviewer books, I am lucky enough to have two other LibraryThing members sending me books this week that they had previously been given for review, plus I’m entering everywhere I can around the ‘net to win more books. I’m not sure if he is correct in thinking that these books will really impede my buying habit, but time will tell.
Edited to add: Unfortunately my dear friend Irving did not bring The Venetian Mask today, so I suppose it will be Franklin and Lucy at lunch!

Library Thing Early Reviewer

March 18, 2008

I was informed today that I was lucky enough to win another LibraryThing Early Reviewer book called “The Venetian Mask” by Rosalind Laker. It will be available in stores March 25th but evidently is a reprint, not actually a new release. It is historical fiction, or possibly historical romance, with a strong theme of friendship. I have to finish Botany of Desire and read Water for Elephants before my book club next Friday, but I will get it read and reviewed for you all as soon as possible (depending on when the publisher gets it to me) so that you all can wait for my review to decide whether or not to buy it.

I just realized that this book is being released by Three Rivers Press, which also has been doing the reissues of Jean Plaidy‘s books. Maybe they’ll put her new book up for Early Reviewers later this year!

Holding Her Head High – Give Away

March 7, 2008

Now, I know that I did not write the most positive review of Holding Her Head High, by Janine Turner; however, I WOULD like to pass it on to someone else to read. Advanced copies are not to be put up for sale, they can be passed on or donated to Friends of the Library (although they’re sold there, I’m told that is alright and not the same as selling in a used book store). It is entirely possible that someone else might have a completely different reaction to the book than I did. Most of the LibraryThing reviews were similar to mine, but the book got very positive reviews on Amazon (except for the reviews that I and another LibraryThinger posted).

Anyway, if you would like the book, post a comment on this post for me. That will show me your email and I’ll email you for an address to which to send the book. If you want, I can even post YOUR review of it here, like a guest reviewer!

The Beauty of LibraryThing

March 7, 2008

I first found out about LibraryThing from a friend who wanted me to post all of my books basically so that she could see them. On LibraryThing you can post up to 200 books for free. Well, I had well more than 200 books and couldn’t FATHOM the idea of posting just part of my library. LibraryThing is used for cataloging your books, and if I was going to do that, then I was going to do it all. I looked at the pricing for unlimited books: $10 for a year or $25 for a lifetime, I figured for $25 I might as well hedge my bets that they would be around for at least 3 more years and I would get the better deal, so I bought my membership and set myself down to the task of entering my library.

This was all quite the procedure. The first, obvious step was to actually enter the books. Brian ordered me a bar code scanner online so that I wouldn’t have to manually input everything. So I sat down and scanned all of my books onto the computer (thank God for laptops so I didn’t have to carry all my books back and forth!). At that point I figured that it was all well and good to have a list of all of my books, but it wasn’t that helpful if it didn’t DO something. LibraryThing allowed me to sort by author, title, Dewey number, etc, but none of those quite fit my needs as far sorting books in order to organize my library.

This realization led to many a days (this was during the summer, before I got a non-teaching job) of sitting at the laptop and figuring out how I wanted to tag all of my books in order to sort them in my physical library how I wanted. I think I tag differently from many users, my tags are my sorting criteria, so they have to be in a certain order to be useful to me. It took a lot of trial and error to get the tags how I wanted them, but I did and then I spent about 3 days moving books around on my bookshelves in order to get them organized based on their LibraryThing sorting. Of course, now I need to almost re-do all of it, because I have a bad habit of not putting the books away when I finish them, or just putting them at the end of the shelf.

For a long time, I thought that housing my book catalog was all that LibraryThing was good for. I would mainly only visit it in order to add books I had bought, or just to look at my pretty library, or add some reviews. Then I was playing around with it one day and discovered the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.  I immediately signed up to receive free, early reviewer books.  Of course, the first month I didn’t win anything.  I started reading the ‘talk’ group for the Early Reviewers to get a better feel for the program.  Then I started reading a bunch of the other ‘talk’ groups in subjects in which I am interested.  As a result, I received an early reviewer book and have added a ton of books to my wishlist.  Not to mention that LibraryThing and some of the members thereon, inspired me to start this blog (Reading Around the World came from LT members too), which I am thoroughly enjoying.

Thanks LibraryThing!