Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The Fifteeth Minute by Sarina Bowen

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Sunday, 20 September 2015

I'm back...Again

So new job...kicked. my. butt. the first month. Not that it is more difficult than my old job, but it is different and it has been majorly zapping my energy. I am enjoying it though. I have some great colleagues and the students...oh my the students. I keep expecting someone to jump out of a locker and yell PUNKED! Today several students stayed after class to discuss politics. They ask intelligent questions, they are prepared for class (mostly, the firsties need to be whipped into shape). They take notes. They are interested. It is a DREAM. It also demands a great deal of me as a teacher. I need to be very prepared for my classes.

I have been reading quite a bit while I haven't been blogging. I have read some great books, some middling books and some down right awful books. I will be blogging about the great books and leave the others to the side. I'll also continue posting some old reviews, plus next week we have an awesome event her in my city, the annual book fair. I haven't decided on which day(s) I'll be going but going I will

If you want to read some really good books Sarina Bowen's Coming In From the Cold (Gravity Book 1) is free for the Kindle right now. No excuse not to get it.

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Cover Reveal: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

So excited to be able to show you all the cover for the latest Ivy Years book The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen. I fell in love with this series while reading The Understatement of the Year and I fell in love with Lianne in The Shameless Hour. She was hilarious and vulnerable and just someone I want to get to know better. I am so glad that this series keeps going. 

Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks. 

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid. 

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel "DJ" Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. Something's haunting his dark eyes, and she needs to know more. 

DJ's genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans. 

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can't get close to Lianne, and he can't tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

The Fifteenth Hour will be out October 13th (luckily not a Friday, that would be creepy beyond belief)

Copyright ©2011 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Throw Back Thursday: Mina drömmars stad (Stockholm: City of My Dreams by Per Anders Fogelström

Mina_drommars_stad So school is the topic of the blog this week but this book isn't about school (although indirectly it is as education is a way out of poverty but...) as I say in the review this book was on my assigned reading list in high school and I loved it, which is why I thought I would high light it this week.

Mina drömmars stad (Stockholm: City of My Dreams (Stockholm Series Book 1) ) by Per Anders Fogelström

Publisher: Albert Bonniers Förlag

Synopsis: Fifteen year old Henning is walking into Stockholm. The city lies before him with all its possibilities. The city however doesn’t quite live up to its promises.
My Thoughts: If you read this blog regularly you probably know by this time that I don’t do to well with assigned reading. I tend to resent them. This was one of my exceptions. I was assigned this book the summer between my junior and senior year in high school and I am pretty sure I read it from cover to cover, and then went out and bought the rest of the books in the series. It is that good.
It has one of the most compelling opening chapters I have ever read. I read this in Swedish, but it is translated into English by Jennifer Brown Baverstam. Fogelström in the opening of the book makes the city into a character in its own right. He paints a picture of the city as both a protector and an enemy. These are the last few lines of the opening chapter (my translation):
The City waited. For the fifteen year old boy who had yet not seen any of its glory – and for everyone else who sought it out.
It existed in their dreams and invited all possibilities.
But a young boy neither could nor wanted to see that most were dark, that joy and the possibilities of life were much fewer than those of sorrow and death.
The boy dreamed. The City waited.
Isn’t it evocative and foreboding? The story of young Henning and his family also tells the story of the growth of Stockholm. This is the first book in a series of five books that follow the family from 186o until 1968. This first book covers the period from 1860 until 1880 and is very much the story of the horrors of the industrial revolution. How the poor were used. And how this impacts on the individual. Young Henning has no family and at first no friends. He also has no education and no contacts. This means that he ends up with the hardest jobs there are. However the book also shows the love and friendship that grows even in the at first bleak life of the rented bed and work in the harbour. Somehow it is incredibly beautiful. And the end makes me cry every time.
Although this is a work of historical fiction there is a certain amount of realism. Fogelström presents a well researched book where actual events are incorporated into the book. One of the things I appreciate about this series is that the characters are never given an important part in the historical events of the time. Rather we see them through their eyes, the eyes of the normal person. That makes the books more real to me. One criticism of sorts is that the main characters are incredibly good. It can get a bit grating at times but at the same time makes an important point of not giving into your circumstances.
Copyright ©2011 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Friday, 7 August 2015

What I've Been Listening To: When I'm 64

So I recently read Kiss Me and Thrill Me both by Susan Mallery, and Eddie and Gladys made me think of "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, which makes me think of Beatles "When I'm 64" so I had to listen to it.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Throw Back Thursday: Re-Review The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

kite-runner We were discussing The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns in one of my book groups last week so I thought it was fitting to post this review for my Throw Back Thursday. The further out from reading the book I get the less likely I am to recommend it. I still think it has value but  I don't think it would be top of my list of books I think people should read.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Category: Fiction/ Audio

Synopsis: From Amazon.com

The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")

My Thoughts: I have been meaning to read this book for ages and I finally bought it when my mentor told me that my first years were reading it for Swedish. I am glad I listened to it.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book. I loved what it had to say about Afghanistan and the west's culpability in what happened. I loved how it described why the Afghanistan as we know it happened. I loved the descriptions of how it was. I also loved the insight into the feelings of those who flee their home country and why they love it.

I am not sure I liked Amir. I understand why he did what he did. I understand why he felt the way he did towards Hassan. I can also understand the actions of the grown-ups but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel revulsion. I guess that is what I should feel. Seeing the dark side of humanity can also be good because otherwise how can we recognise it when we see it? But that doesn’t stop the nauseous feeling I got when I heard the scene in the alley walking to the bus one morning. It stayed with me. It has haunted me.

I suppose this is a book that will stay with me. Not necessarily one that I will go back and read again but one that will stay in my brain informing the way I think and feel. I think this book has changed me in ways I had not predicted when I started listening to it. I suppose this makes it a book of value.

Audio: I liked the fact that the author narrated the story. Hearing the Afghan names pronounced properly was a treat. However, I did at times have a problem following with all the names as they were not familiar to me (my own ignorance). I found that the author was able to bring the characters alive. I could almost smell the smells he described and see the sights. I do so wish that the country wasn’t ravaged by war.

Overall this is a book that I would recommend to others. I think it is an important read.

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen

I stepped into a foyer and looked around with surprise. I had expected something like Buckingham Palace—walls lined with royal portraits, antiques and statues everywhere. But this was more like an ordinary home, slightly outmoded and with a lingering smell of furniture polish and damp. I gave a sigh of disappointment, mingled with a small sigh of relief. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about knocking over priceless objects every time I turned around, the way I did at Buckingham Palace. It was also rather cold in that foyer, with a draft swirling about my legs.. Not too welcoming a first impression for a visiting princess, I thought. But perhaps they were not planning to turn on any form of heat until she arrived.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do next. I wondered if the queen would have supplied servants of if Princess Marina was bringing her own and they weren’t here yet. I realized that I should have asked to be taken to Major Beauchamp-Chough, not have gone straight to the apartment. Protocol probably demanded that he escort me to my quarters. But it was a long, wet walk back to the front of the building. There was an archway at the end of the entry hall leading to a passageway beyond. As I looked toward it I saw a woman walk across it. She was moving swiftly, almost gliding and making no sound.
“Hello,” I called. “Wait a minute, please.”
When she didn’t stop I ran after her, and found myself standing in a long dark corridor that was completely empty. Where had she gone? There were no side hallways and she would not have had time to open and close a door. That’s when I realized she was wearing a long white dress and her hair had been piled upon her head in little curls. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

From Rhys Bowen's facebook page 

Malice at the Palace (The Royal Spyness Series Book 9) is due out today August 4th

Copyright ©2015 Zee from A Tea Stained Page. This post was originally posted by Zee from A Tea Stained Page. It should not be reproduced without express written permission