Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

 Title: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
 Author:  Katherine Howe
 Published:  Hyperion Voice, 2009
 How I Got It: Purchased myself
 Rating: 3.5 stars


When we first meet our main character Connie she is a graduate student stress-case.  She is preparing for a super important test that she must pass in order to continue her education.  The exam covers all aspects of American colonial history.  If you miss a question or don't answer one fully then that's it, you're out of the program.  Oh, and it's not a written test either, your mentors ask you the questions and you have to come up with your answer on the spot (talk about pressure!).  Luckily, Connie  excels and passes to exam.  It's the beginning of the summer so Connie expects that she can relax a little now.  Unfortunately, Grace, her mother has other plans.  Grace needs Connie to clean and fix up her grandmother's house that has been neglected for years.  All of a sudden it needs to be sold.  Connie isn't thrilled about spending the summer this way but she can't say no to her mother.  During her first night at the house Connie finds a mysterious key.  It intrigues her and from that point on Connie is determined to figure out what it goes to.  This is the catalyst that begins the search for Deliverance Dance's physick book.

I love historical fiction books that go back and forth between the past and present.  I love seeing how the different stories and different time periods connect.  This book was no exception.  Howe takes us on a journey to Marblehead, MA in 1991 and then back in time to Salem, MA circa 1692.  Deliverance Dane was a woman found guilty of witchcraft and was executed.  Connie just happened to come across a piece of history while doing a good deed for her mother.   Like any good historian, Connie investigates and uncovers a woman forgotten by the history books and learns some things about her family’s past.

While I did enjoy this book I felt it ended too sudden.   We find a few things out and then it seems like the book just ends.  We learn what happens to Sam but don’t get to read about what happens to him (I hope that made sense, I’m having trouble wording it without listing spoilers).

*side note* Every time I saw the name ‘Chilton’ I thought of Gilmore Girls.

I’m so glad Howe included a postscript.  Deliverance Dane was a real person (while reading the book I thought she was just a fictional character).   There’s not a lot of information about her though.  She was accused of witchcraft and spent thirteen weeks in prison but luckily, her life was spared. 

The Salem witch trials are a part of history that has always interested me.  It baffles me that a group of teenage girls were able to convince an entire town that they were in the company of witches.  That their own next door neighbors could be putting curses on other people in the town.  It was a point in history when people were extremely fearful (especially with a war occurring less than 100 miles away) but still.  I wonder if those girls felt any remorse for contributing to the panic.  But they were only a part of the uprising.  People truly believed that witchcraft was real.

What are you thoughts about the Salem witch trials?  Ever visited Salem, MA? 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Title/Author:  Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Published: 2010, Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased myself at B&N
Rating:  5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” 

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions? 

After reading this book I am so tempted to get a notebook, scribble down a riddle and leave it in a bookstore next to a favorite book and cross my fingers that a cute (intelligent) guy comes along, finds the notebook and plays along.

I loved the story.  Dash, while cynical, is the male equivalent of Jessica Darling.  Seriously, I think they’d be best friends.  He always has some witty remark.  Lily unintentionally isolates herself from people and just wants a friend.  She’s the captain and star athlete of her school’s soccer team yet doesn’t hang out with any of her teammates.  

Dash and Lily’s relationship kind of reminded me of my bookish community friends.  I’ve never met any of you, yet I kind of have an idea in my head what you all look like and sound like (and I don’t mean this is a creepy way!).  Then when I watch a vlog it throws me off a little.  Dash and Lily each had an idea of what the other one was like.

What I loved about the book:
  • I laughed over the crimson alert and that entire ordeal.  Who knew throwing snowballs could be so dangerous?
  • Snarly.  To me describing someone as snarly means their hair is full of knots and desperately needs to be brushed.
  • I loved all of the dares and following Dash and Lily through New York City at Christmastime.
  • Dashiell.  What a great name.
  • Cover love.  Love love love the heart-shaped snowflakes on the cover.

After writing this up I noticed I clearly favor Dash over Lily.  Even though Lily is also a main character more things about Dash stick out in my mind.

I highly recommend this book!  It’s set during the holidays and its part of the story, but its not really a Christmas-y book.  So if you were looking for a sappy or sugar-sweet read for the holiday season then this probably isn’t the book for you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Word Bit!

Word Bit! is hosted by The Grammarian's Reviews.  Each week Alissa posts a new word she comes across in her reading and encourages others to post words they discovered recently.  I love learning new words so I love reading this feature every week.  I thought it was time to join in with my own word!

To participate just post your word, where you saw it, the definition, why it caught your attention and anything else you'd like to include.

Definitions from

1. a square dance for four couples, consisting of five parts or movements, each complete in-itself.
2. the music for such a dance.

*image from Wikipedia 
I came across the word quadrille while reading The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell.  It stood out because I've never come across this word before and it looked interesting!  This is a word that has faded away with time.
What interesting words have you come across this week?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: Jumpstart the World


Title:  Jumpstart the World
Author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde
Published:  Knopf, October 2010
How I Got It:  Purchased for my nook
Rating: 5 stars


Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde is fantastic read.  The book isn’t even 200 pages long but it is filled with so much emotion.  You’ll feel happy, sad, grateful, encouraged, guilty, depressed but also inspired and ready the change the world.  Ultimately, I think this book is about acceptance and tolerance. 

Sixteen-year old Elle has just moved into her very first apartment, her only companion is the cat she just got from a shelter (she picked the least friendly cat out of the bunch).  Her mother’s new boyfriend doesn’t like teenagers so instead of kicking him to the curb Elle gets kicked out.  Her mother pays for the apartment (which is on the other side of town) and checks in every so often.

The only neighbors Elle gets to know are Frank and his girlfriend, Molly.  They live in the apartment next to Elle and even share a fire escape.  Elle takes an instant liking to Frank.  She develops a crush on him and is devastated when she unexpectedly finds out that Frank is transgender.  He’s currently in the process of going from a female to a male.  Needless to say it came as quite a shock to Elle.  The last half of the book is about Elle dealing with the aftermath of finding out about Frank.  She's not really sure what to think about it or how to react to it.

*One random fact about Elle:  Do not steal a cab from her, especially if she is upset about something.

Lately I've been trying to write down my favorite quotes from books.  These are my four favorite quotes from Jumpstart the World:

"Words are important...words are the tools we use for making peace with the world" - Chapter 3
“You’re supposed to make mistakes.  You’re just starting out.  Mistakes are a good thing.  They mean you were brave enough to try something hard” – Chapter 6
“Sometimes you have to jumpstart the world just to get it to be what even the world admits it should be” – Chapter 12

“I decided that not talking is like a litmus test for a real friend.  You can just sit there and be.  Not always be filling up the air with words” – Chapter 14

I loved this book.  I definitely think it is a must read for everyone.  It’s a great story about learning to accept others even if they're different.  Plus there are funny chapter titles like, “The Heartbreak of Too Many Guys Named Bob” and “Mascara, and Other Things That Run”.  Also, how is it that I have not read any of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s other books before?

On Hyde's website she has Five Ways To Jumpstart The World listed.  Please go take a look at them. She has some great ideas listed.

*This review is also posted over at The Broke and The Bookish

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Revolution

Title/Author:  Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Published:  Random House, 2010

Source:  Purchased myself for my nook

Why I Read It: I've heard such great things about the book!

Rating: 4 stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.


Let me start off by saying that I learned a lot about the French Revolution from this book.  Honestly, I didn’t remember much about it from history classes I’ve taken.  The Revolution was a scary time for the people of France.  Thousands of people had to unfortunate pleasure of being guillotined.  There are literally thousands of people buried below the streets of Paris.  If I ever make it to Paris I will probably get a little freaked out thinking about that while walking down a street!

Jennifer Donnelly did a fantastic job bringing the past and present together.  For me, the book started off a little slow, partly because I expected to be introduced to Alex sooner.  The reader is in Andi’s head throughout the book.  We’re aware of Alex’s story by reading her diary- the one Andi finds hidden in a guitar case.  

Andi is a girl who has been through a lot in the past two years.  She witnessed her little brother being hit by a car.  Then her family falls apart, she always feels numb from antidepressants, her mother is going crazy, her father is never around, she’s in danger of not graduating high school and the only thing that’s keeping Andi afloat is music.  Her father takes her to Paris for winter break and he hopes that by getting away it will help Andi heal some.

Alex is a girl who lived during the Revolution in France in the 1790’s.  Her family never had enough to eat, her father had been jailed many times for speaking out against the king, her sister was pregnant with no husband, the family put on puppet shows as a way to make a living and they heard there was plenty of food at Versailles and that going to Paris would solve all of their problems.  Sadly, they were mistaken.  

Louis-Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, is an important part in Alex’s story.  By reading Alex’s diary, Louis-Charles also becomes an essential part of Andi’s story.  Andi’s father is in Paris to do genetic testing on a heart that is believed to belong to Louis-Charles.  During the Revolution he was imprisoned in a tower under poor conditions.  There were rumors that he escaped and that a dead body was left in the tower for his captors to find.  No one knew for sure if Louis-Charles really escaped or if he died while imprisoned.  

In 2000, the heart really did undergo genetic testing.  Scientists tested the heart’s mitochondrial DNA and it was concluded that the heart belonged to Louis-Charles, the lost king of France.  I find it fascinating that in 1795 they were able to preserve the heart so well.  Well enough that 205 years later it could still be tested on and get accurate results.  You can read more about it here and here.

And that is your brief history lesson for the day.  

Back to the book.  I really enjoyed the story.  Sometimes I was getting confused with Alex’s diary entries so make sure you pay attention to the dates.  The next time I see fireworks going off (illegally) I’ll be wondering if they are for one specific person to see, and to know that they are not forgotten.

I was listening to the radio the other day and I heard the song "Firework" by Katy Perry.  I'm not usually a fan of her songs but I thought this particular one fit perfectly with Andi and especially Alex:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Busy holiday season

I've gone into a temporary hiatus.  I've been crazy busy between work and getting ready for the holidays.  So by the time I have time to read all I want to do is sleep or watch Christmas movies (not going to lie, I've been watching lots of Christmas movies).  But I'll be back in the first week of January.

I hope everyone has a happy, safe holiday season and Santa brings you lots of books!  See you in the new year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Quotes from "Fixing Delilah"

Title: Fixing Delilah
Author: Sarah Ockler
Published: Little, Brown Books, 2010 
Source:  Purchased myself at B&N
Rating: 4.5 stars


Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart. She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?
  (from Goodreads).


I read this book last week.  I really enjoyed it but unfortunately I think I waited too long before writing a review.  I guess I need to review a book pretty soon after I finish reading it!  I tried writing one...but didn't like how it turned out.  Instead of a review I thought I would post my favorite quotes from the book:

“An invisible electronic woman navigates us toward the highway from the distant planet Monotone, where everyone is tranquil and directionally adept” - page 3

“...surrounding us is an ocean of mess and misunderstanding, full of pirates and sharks just waiting to see who slips in first” - page 5

“It’s funny how someone can be such an integral part of your life, like you laugh at the same jokes and eat your ice cream cones the same way and share your toys and dreams and everything but your heartbeats, and then one day – nothing.  You share nothing.  It’s like none of it ever happened.” - pages 15-16

“Sometimes I think I’m on the edge of some great understanding, looking up at all the answers I just can’t reach, like apples too high in the tree.  But tonight, I stretch my fingers toward the sky, and I think I have the answer” - page 140

“Sometimes I wonder if my whole life will pass by this way: me waiting in the shadows, waiting for something to happen.  Waiting for someone else to make it happen.  Something new or different or crazy and amazing.  I’ve been there for so long, letting everyone else figure it out for me, floating along without much direction or conscious though.  Reacting.  Attention-seeking. Impulsive. Reckless.”  - page 147

“Words spilling out on the page like ninjas, sneaking up on the rest of us for the stealth attack” - page 149

“I’ll probably have to devise some elaborate alternate communication method now, like writing in symbols in the dirt or tapping out letters in Morse code on my head, because I’ve obviously lost control of whatever brain parts are responsible for forming words” - page 154

“Up here, we’re giants, locked into our steel cage while the ants work below and the seagulls hover and dive all around them” - page 157

“...I wonder how much we don’t see.  How much of our lives we witness and accept as truth when the rest of the iceberg – the heaviest, bulkiest part – is buried and invisible” - page 178

“I wonder how many loose buttons there are in this world, just rolling around in a jar without a mate or a blouse to go on.  No destiny.  No purpose.  Just sitting there, unnoticed.  Forgotten”  - page 258