Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray
By Oscar Wilde 
Release Date: 1890
Source: Own Copy
Summary: Oscar Wilde brings his enormous gifts for astute social observation and sparkling prose to The Picture of Dorian Gray, his dreamlike story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. This dandy, who remains forever unchanged; petulant, hedonistic, vain, and amoral; while a painting of him ages and grows increasingly hideous with the years, has been horrifying, enchanting, obsessing, even corrupting readers for more than a hundred years.
Taking the reader in and out of London drawing rooms, to the heights of aestheticism, and to the depths of decadence, The Picture of Dorian Gray is not only a melodrama about moral corruption. Laced with bon mots and vivid depictions of upper-class refinement, it is also a fascinating look at the milieu of Wilde’s fin-de-si├Ęcle world and a manifesto of the creed “Art for Art’s Sake.”
The ever-quotable Wilde, who once delighted London with his scintillating plays, scandalized readers with this, his only novel. Upon publication, Dorian was condemned as dangerous, poisonous, stupid, vulgar, and immoral, and Wilde as a “driveling pedant.” The novel, in fact, was used against Wilde at his much-publicized trials for “gross indecency,” which led to his imprisonment and exile on the European continent. Even so, The Picture of Dorian Gray firmly established Wilde as one of the great voices of the Aesthetic movement, and endures as a classic that is as timeless as its hero.
Review: Another classic down! Yay! And I have got to say, I really enjoyed this one. It was a fast, short read that was so intriguing! I don't know if I got more out of it because it's for a class, but The Picture of Dorian Gray was definitely a great book. 
Dorian Gray has it all as a young man, and he sells his soul in order to keep his life exactly the way it is. Dorian's moral decline leads him to a life of selfishness, vanity, indulgence, and moral corruption. But as long as he's pretty, nothing else matters, right? Remaining unchanged as his portrait continues to decay and age in a locked away room, Dorian leads this life of corruption, hoping to outrun the reality his portrait is trying to portray. 

I don't know what exactly I was expecting going into this story, but I'm so pleased with how it all turned out. While the beginning was a little slow, the rest of the time was spent telling a story that was impossible to put down. Dorian's life is crazy and the ideas about life he and Henry come up with are absolutely insane. But the insanity is what made this book so good! 

During this time of pleasurable sensations and indulgence, it was so interesting to see how Wilde portrayed the complete giving into that lifestyle. As far as classics go, this is probably one of my favorites. I definitely appreciate the story as a whole as soon as I was finished, especially because of how it all ended. It was just fantastic! If you haven't yet, I recommend you go out and read this book right now! It's a classic for a reason and you're definitely missing out on one of the good ones. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book

This is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where each week bloggers share a list of books for the prompt given. So hopefully I'll have a new list to share with you all each week!

This Week's Topic: Top Ten Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book

Ooooh, this one is fun! There are a lot of topics that make me super happy when I read books about them, so I'll be more likely to pick up other books about the same topic. Here are some subjects that are my favorites, along with the books I quite enjoyed/own with the intention of reading because of it...

1. Baking/In Bakeries

2. Clubs/Societies

3. Sports

4. Knitting

5. Paris

6. Reading/Books/In Bookstores

7. Travel

8. Cooking/In Restaurants 

9. ANY historical romances 

10. Retellings/literary references

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: Ballrooms and Ugly Poodles by Katie Schnack

Ballrooms and Ugly Poodles
By Katie Schnack
Release Date: March 5, 013
Source: Publisher
Summary: Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of the world’s ritziest hotels?

From dumping coffee on a white silk Gucci gown, witnessing creepy political scandals to fending off crazed (sometimes naked) socialites, one thing is for sure—it is anything but a typical college job. Ballrooms and Ugly Poodles: Semi-Tall Tales of a Palm Beach Waitress is inspired by the author’s adventures working at a five diamond historic hotel on the shores of Palm Beach, Florida – a far cry from her humble Midwestern upbringing. The stories paint a hilarious picture of what it is like serving some of America’s richest and most powerful, all while wearing Kmart loafers and a used polyester tuxedo. A true “behind the scenes look” at the glitz and glamour of Palm Beach, these stories will make you pee with laughter, all while providing a unique and rarely seen perspective of the excessively wealthy. But mostly just make you pee with laughter.

Review: This past summer, I started reading some memoirs and found that I actually quite enjoyed that genre. I learned, though, that the trick to finding a memoir you'll enjoy is by picking ones about people/subjects you find interesting. That being said, this one fell a little short to me because the topic was a little boring for my taste. 

As a college student living in Palm Beach, Katie decides to start working as a waitress in a historical hotel. With stories ranging from hysterical Snookie-like brides to creepy old women who flirt with her boyfriend, Katie takes us behind the scenes of the not-so-glamorous life of a waitress in the illustrious world of Palm Beach. 

From the cover and title of this book, I thought I'd be in for a treat. And considering the author calls it "so freaking funny," I thought it'd actually be funny. Instead, I found the author's sense of humor more annoying than humorous and her stories just went on and on. Some of them seemed a little pointless while others seemed like she was trying a bit too hard to portray them as hilarious moments. 

I didn't find myself caring at all about Katie's journey as a waitress to the rich and famous, nor did I have any desire to keep on reading to figure out what crazy tale she had to tell next. I did end up finishing the book, though, and wasn't relly left with anything. If you want a book that will make you laugh and not want to stop until the end, this one definitely isn't it. While it had some of it's funny moments, it was lacking something really unique and substantial to make it stick out. I guess I just had too high of expectations. Either way, given the choice I'd say pass on this one. 

Weekly Roundup [4/23-4/29]

Ahhhh it's Monday already? How the heck did that happen? It seems like yesterday was Friday and I was just about to start my weekend. Guess not! Well I've got a super busy week ahead of me and then a week of finals before I'm home for the summer. The end of this semester is flying by and I can't believe summer is almost here. I absolutely can't wait for all of the reading that's in store for me :)

Book Reviews
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson


The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (49)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers share what they got throughout the week!

From the Book Depository

Just one book for me this week and it's for school, but it's still a book I'm really excited to finish! I started it earlier last week and I'm about 2/3 of the way through. It's definitely not what I was expecting, but I really like it so far! Hopefully I can finish it today, so be on the look out for a review within the next week :)

That's it for me! What did you all add to your shelves this week? 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold
By Jane Nickerson
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Source: Publisher
Summary: The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

Review: Going into this one, I had no idea what it would be about. I just knew that it had a pretty cover and an interesting title, so I decided to give it a shot. 

When Sophia's father dies, leaving her and her siblings parentless, Sophia is invited to live with her mysterious, illustrious godfather. WIth nowhere else to go, Sophia decides to leave her siblings and go live with the man she hardly remembers. Once she arrives, Sophia finds herself welcome into the open arms of her charming godfather and his extravagant lifestyle. Sophia is soon falling for the man who took her in, but odd things start building up that make her godfather seem more dangerous as each day goes by. With four mysteriously dead wives before Sophia arrived, her godfather has many secrets Sophia can only hope not to find out. Is she really safe with this man who she thought she could possibly be falling for? 

Hmmm, where to start? First off, I was not expecting this kind of story at all. Sophia actually starting falling for her godfather? A man who is as old as her parents? I think that's just a tad bit weird. I get that age difference was big back then, but the way Sophia decided she liked her godfather seemed a little out of the blue and very uncomfortable. 

What I really liked about this book, though, was the time period and the references Sophia would make. This takes place in the 1800s where people write letters to each other and host grand balls. Sophia often talked about classic literature of the time (like Jane Austen, my favorite) that I have studied in my college classes, so I loved being able to understand the connections she was making. 

What seemed out of place, though, was how Sophia wanted to help out with the underground railroad and freeing the slaves. That subplot was really random and I think the book would have been perfectly fine without including that part. And there were other moments that seemed to drag on, so reading this book definitely took a lot longer than normal. 

Overall, I really wanted to like this book and expected it to be a really good read, but it was just lacking something that could really hold my attention. Sometimes things went too slow and other times things seemed out of place for the story that was going on with Sophia. So if you're interested in reading this one, I'd say you don't have to rush out and buy a copy. if you have time, it's an okay read. But if you've got a huge TBR pile like mine, you can wait until you have some downtime with nothing urgent to read to pick this one up.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Follow My Book Blog Friday (85)

This is a meme hosted every Friday by Parajunkee, where book bloggers answer a question each week and check out how others answered it. It's a cool way for bloggers and viewers to connect and learn more about each other!

Question: Is there a song that reminds you of a book? Or vice versa? What is the song and the book? 


It's not necessarily the book itself, but for some reason every time I see the cover of Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Healsley, I want to jump up and starting dancing around to You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift. It's got the whole country vibe going on and the romance aspect is absolutely perfect. 

Giveaway: The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

Hey guys! I know it's been a while since I've had a giveaway, so I'm really excited to share this one with you all! I have two copies of The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles to giveaway to my fantastic followers! Here's a little bit more about the book...

The Kissing Booth
By Beth Reekles
Release Date: December 13, 2012
Summary: Meet Rochelle Evans: pretty, popular--and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile--and a total player. And also Elle's best friend's older brother... 

When Elle decides to run a kissing booth for the school's Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer--this romance seems far from fairy tale and headed for heartbreak. 

But will Elle get her happily ever after?

About the author
Beth Reeks is seventeen years old and lives in South Wales. She is studying A-Levels in Physics, Maths, French and Spanish, and is hoping to study Physics at university. She's an undeniable bookworm and an avid drinker of tea. Beth has been writing on platforms such as Wattpad, to great acclaim, for a year or so: The Kissing Booth is the most-viewed, most-commented-on teen fiction title on the site - 19 million reads, 40,000 comments to date. The Kissing Booth was winner of the Most Popular Teen Fiction Watty Award.

Giveaway Details
Two lucky winners will receive a copy of The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles! Just fill out the rafflecopter below! US only. No PO boxes. Giveaway ends 5/2

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

World Book Night 2013

That's right! Tuesday, April 23rd was World Book Night and I was lucky enough to be a giver for the second year in a row. That meant that on Tuesday, I set out with a box of twenty copies of Bossypants by Tina Fey to give out to people in order to spread the love of reading. Here is a list of all of the books that were given out on Tuesday (there were over half a million copies!). I was so excited to get Bossypants this year because I've heard it's an awesome book and I knew it'd be perfect for the college kids I planned on giving the copies away to. 


On Tuesday, I walked around campus giving away free copies of my book and the people who got a copy were ecstatic! I think the fact that Tina Fey wrote the book and it's a more comical read made the people more open about accepting a copy. Last year, I gave away Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and people were more hesitant to accept that book than they were this year. Either way, I think that this year was a total success and I'm so happy with how it turned out.

I am so proud to be able to be a giver for this amazing event because there's nothing I love more than spreading the love of reading. Heck, I'm going to be dedicating my life to it as an English teacher, so why not start now? I'm so happy this year's World Book Night turned out as great as it did and I'm already looking forward to next year! 

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