Friday, September 30, 2011

0 Exciting news!




Tyger, Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton is now available in paperback. This is a book that I really enjoyed reading. If you've not had the opportunity to read it yet, I highly recommend it. Also there is a really great contest going on right now. You can win $1000 dollars for your library by creating a trailer to the second book in this series, In the Forest of the Night. Check out the details here. The release of In the Forest of the Night is just around the corner. Mark your calendars for November 22, 2011 I'm really excited for this book to come out. 



0 Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore Review

Title: Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore
Author: Stella Duffy
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: Sept. 27, 2011
paperback, 338 pages
ISBN: 978-0-14-311987-6
Genre: Historical Fiction


Summary:
Roman historian Procopius publicly praised Theodora of Constantinople for her piety-while secretly detailing her salacious stage act and maligning her as ruthless and power hungry. So who was this woman who rose from humble beginnings as a dancer to become the empress of Rome and a saint in the Orthodox Church? Award-winning novelist Stella Duffy vividly recreates the life and times of a woman who left her mark on one of the ancient world's most powerful empires. Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore is a sexy, captivating novel that resurrects an extraordinary, little-known figure from the dusty pages of history.


My thoughts:
A few weeks prior to reading this novel, I came across a short chapter in a history book about Theodora. She was a larger than life character that knew how to command an audience. Theodora lived during a tumultuous time. There is not a lot of documentation about this period and a lot of what we know is speculation. I was really interested in reading Stella Duffy's take on the Empress Theodora. 
Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy depicts Theodora from a young child until her marriage to Justinian I. Theodora's life was not an easy one. As a young girl she was taught to dance, to learn how to turn off her emotions and most of all to survive. Her punishment for misbehaving in her dance lessons sounded torturous. At a young age she was sold to a theater where she began her career as an actress. The title actress was also exchangeable with the title of whore. However life's circumstances did not hinder Theodora from getting what she wanted out of life. In fact some might say she made life play by her rules. 
I enjoyed the details that Stella Duffy gave to Theodora's life.  The author dives into the head of one of the most influential women of ancient Rome and makes her come to life. I appreciated the fact that the author did not hold back from the grittiness and brash life of Constantinople and Theodora. Although there is not explicit sex scenes in this novel, it is spoken of very often. Theodora used her body in what ever way suited her best. Duffy doesn't gloss this issue over.
Overall I really like this book. It is an engaging read that will have you wanting to know more about this brazen woman. 


My review:

Find out more about this author by visiting:


*This book was provided for me by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 



Thursday, September 29, 2011

0 and the winners are:

I have a few winners to announce for giveaways that have recently ended. I want to thank everyone who entered and for the wonderful birthday wishes. And now to the part that you really care about.




Winner of 
Maid of Honor by Jillian Conley is:
Mona Garg

Winner of 
So Near by Liza Gyllenhall is:
Linda "Ziff"

The winner of any book up to $10 from the book depository is: 
donnas

*winners, I will be contacting you be email. Please, please, please check your spam. You have 48 hours to respond or your prize is forfeit and I'll pick another winner. 

Happy Reading!



6 Elizabeth Aston Interview and giveaway

Today on the blog I have the author of The World, The Flesh and the Bishop, Elizabeth Aston here. If you missed my review of this fantastic novel yesterday, click here to view it. 

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m English, but I was born in Chile and educated in a England and India. I’ve written twenty-five novels which have published in the UK, the US and in several foreign languages. I spend as much time as I can in Italy
2. What books have most influenced your life?
That’s a hard one to answer. Possibly Enid Blyton – I learned to read with her books. Chaucer for the riotous fun and terrific language, Jane Austen’s novels – need I say more? – and Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, which showed me just how good historical fiction can be.
3. What book(s) are you reading right now?
Apollo’s Angels – a fascinating book about the history of the ballet.
4. What do you do when you're not writing?
Procrastinate! I love walking, swimming in the sea and cooking for family and friends.
5. Describe your writing process. (for example, Is there a particular time of day you write? Do you listen to music while writing? )
I’m a morning person, and I tend to get the creative parts done in the morning. The rest of the day is for the other parts of writing – edits, revisions, promotion. I dictate my first drafts, and  if possible I like to walk as I do it. Music while I work? Baroque, sometimes – especially Handel and Vivaldi.
6. How many books are in the Mountjoy series?  Will there be any more?
There are six, and I’m planning to write novellas set in the same world.
7. The World, The Flesh and the Bishop takes place in a town that is very musical. How has music influenced your life?
I come from a musical family – my father and I shared a particular love of Wagner and my mother was a good pianist. My son was a cathedral chorister in York Minster, and a lot of the background of the Mountjoy novels is drawn from that. My daughter plays the cello, so I’m familiar with the repetoire my fictional cellist, Sylvester, plays.
8. The World, The Flesh and the Bishop has many memorable characters. Which character is your favorite and why?
Valdemar – he’s a force of nature, and a law unto himself. You might not approve of him, but you can’t help being fascinated by him.
9. What would you like readers to know about your book(s)?
They’re meant to be entertaining – I wrote them to amuse, enchant, make you laugh out loud.
10. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Lemon sorbet, but I wouldn’t say no to chocolate.
11. tea or coffee?
Coffee – preferably Italian style.
12. Favorite movie?
The King’s Speech – the best film I’ve seen in a while.
13. Morning person or night owl?
Very much a morning person – that’s when I get all my best work done.


Find out more about Elizabeth Aston and her novels by visiting:
Site and Blog: http://www.atticabooks.com/ea/?page_id=4
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1029694174
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Elizabeth_Aston
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Aston/e/B001HCTYPM/




The Giveaway:

Please comment below about what you like about romantic comedy and enter to win a copy of Children of Chance, the prequel of the Mountjoy series. In one week, Elizabeth will pick a winner of this ebook next week! Available in any ebook format.

And for the Giveaway Grand Prize: Everyone who comments is eligible to win a lovely hematite bracelet and earrings seen here (http://www.charmsoflight.com/bracelets/Hematite_Hearts_Bracelet_Br-He-001.htmlhttp://www.charmsoflight.com/earrings/Hematite_Heart_Earrings_E-He-001.html). Elizabeth will pick a lucky winner mid-October and can ship anywhere in the world. Good luck!

















Wednesday, September 28, 2011

1 The World, The Flesh and the Bishop

Title: The World, The Flesh and the Bishop (The Mountjoys)
Author: Elizabeth Aston
Publisher: Attica Books
Publication Date: April 12, 2011
ebook
ASIN: B004WPPEXM
Genre: Contemporary 
available @ Amazon  | B&N


Summary:
Bestseller Elizabeth Aston’s six Mountjoy books (originally written under the name Elizabeth Pewsey and published by Hodder & Stoughton) were inspired by years of living in York, where her son was a chorister at the Minster. Her books depict the unholy, unquiet, and frequently unseemly goings-on of the Mountjoy family and their circle in the imaginary and peculiar city of Eyot.


My thoughts:
Elizabeth Aston writes about one of my favorite subjects: Darcy and Elizabeth. I've read a few of her novels before, being that I love that particular genre. So when the opportunity came up to read her contemporary novel The World, The Flesh and the Bishop, I was thrilled.


The World, The Flesh and the Bishop takes place in Eyot. It's a charming little town with a lot of history. Many interesting and diverse people make up this vibrant town. Quinta is a single mother who is bringing up the spirited Phoebe. Quinta has a lot of responsibilities and she tries to make it on her own. Phoebe is fantastic. She very inquisitive and says whatever she is thinking. Quinta has her hands full. Lydia is an old school friend of Quinta's who comes to Eyot to stay with her very proper grandmother, Lady Wray, after she's been crossed in love.  This book has a big cast of characters but they all stand out on their own so you don't get confused. 


This book is highly entertaining. It's packed with humor, drama, whimsy and is cleverly written. I enjoyed this novel from start to finish. The story line is engaging. It focuses around Lydia and Quinta and the farcical people in their lives. Lydia is trying to figure out what to do with her life and Quinta is just trying to get through life with as little damage as possible. Together they take on a cantankerous composer,  a historian with 'interesting' hobbies  and manage to keep the gossip mill running at full speed. 


The World, The Flesh and the Bishop is the first book in the Mountjoy series. This is a delightful, fun ,brilliantly written book.  I really like this book and I definitely want to continue to read this series. 


My rating:

Find out more about this author and her books by visiting:

*I received a copy of this book in an exchange for a review. This in no way influenced my opinion.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2 Humpday Giveaway Sept. 28, 2011

Every Wednesday I'm going to be giving away a gently used copy of one the books listed below. I'll be adding to the lists periodically so be sure to check back every week. This giveaway is for US and Canadian addresses only. Please fill out the form below. Giveaway will end on every Tuesday @ 9 pm central. If you have trouble viewing the form, click here.


Congrats to last week's winner:
Holly


YA
Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
Werelove: Dark Conspiracy by Lakisha Spletzer (autographed)
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
The Ancillary's Mark by Daniel A. Cohen
Logic of Demons: The Quest For Nadine's Soul by H.A. Goodman (Hardcover)
Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson (arc)
Karma by Cathy Ostlere (arc)
The Vampire Stalker by Allison Van Diepen (arc)
A Girl Named Willow Krimble by Giuseppe Bianco (autographed)
Lure by Deborah Kerbel
Shadowland (Hardcover) by Alyson Noel
The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa De La Cruz (hardcover)
Hunted by P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast (hardcover)
Tempted by P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast (hardcover)
Burned by P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast (hardcover)
After Obsession by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel (arc)
The Vampire Diaries Vol. 2 The Return: Shadow Souls by L. J. Smith (hardcover)

Paranormal
Schloss Valkuriz by Felicia N. Cheung
Blood of a Werewolf by T. Lynne Tolles (autographed)
A Rose For My Mother by Nancy Lee Canfield (autographed)
Blood Moon by T. Lynne Tolles (autographed)
Always the Vampire by Nancy Haddock
Wizards by John Booth
Dracula In Love (Hardcover) by Karen Essex
Love Sucks by Lauren Hammond
Dracula, My Love by Syrie James
*Playing Easy To Get by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jaid Black, Kresley Cole
*Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole & Gena Showalter (hardcover)

Everything else (Chick-Lit, HF, Romance)
Dining With Joy by Rachel Hauck
A Wife for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Conner McNees
Nerdy Thirty by Wendy Townley
The Time for Keeps by Jenna Mills
Calling the Shots by Ellen Hartman
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson
The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed
Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
Angel Song by Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman




All books are paperback unless stated otherwise
*must be at least 17 years old
arc (advanced readers copy)


*I use random.org to select the winners. I will contact winners by email. If your name is selected please make sure to check your spam. If you don't respond within 48 hours, you forfeit your prize.

Monday, September 26, 2011

0 Bandits Review

Title: Bandits
Author: L.M. Preston
Publisher: Phenomenal One Press
Publication Date: June 1, 2011
paperback, 337 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-9841989-3-1
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Available @ Amazon | B&N | Book Depository


Summary: Daniel's father has gotten himself killed and left another mess for Daniel to clean up. To save his world from destruction, he must fight off his father's killers while discovering a way to save his world. Time is running out, and Daniel must choose to either walk in his father's footsteps or to reinvent himself into the one to save his world.


My thoughts:
This book is a swashbuckling, page turning adventure that is sure to keep you riveted. Bandits centers on Daniel whose entire life revolves around being a thief.  He is trained from a young age by his father and has become pretty good, so good that he is taking on jobs that his father should be taking. His father is not as committed to the Zukar’s anymore and Daniel is afraid that something bad will come of it. He was right. The story begins with the death of Daniel’s father and now someone wants him dead too. Daniel, his little brother Nickel, his flight-school dropout cousin Faulk and his best friend’s sister Jade begin an adventure to locate the treasure his father has stashed away.


I love the combination of a shiver-me-timbers pirate story set in a sci-fi world. Preston does a fantastic job of creating an alternate world to our own yet making it just familiar enough to keep you from being lost. The characters are all developed nicely with their individual stories enmeshed into the story such that you don’t even realize you are getting back story. The main story line is fully of danger and high flying twists and turns. The relationships between the characters are played out very well. The characters undergo many changes and show maturity as the story moves forward.  As the story goes the characters seem to grow closer and bond together as they come to understand the importance of family over outside influences. This is seen most in Daniel as he grows in his role of leader of this misfit bunch of renegades.
I love the setting, characters and story that Preston presents us with. The author seems to have a knack for writing a story that can move you emotionally but is also plain fun to read.  Once I started reading I did not want to put this book down. If sci-fi or pirates or both is your cup of tea, then Bandits is a great read.

My rating:

To find out more about this author be sure to check out these sites:

*I received a copy of this book for review by the author in exchange for a review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the novel. 


Sunday, September 25, 2011

2 Sunday Confession Sept. 25, 2011


Sunday Confessions is back after a summer long hiatus. This is a weekly meme started by yours truly as a way to get to share a bit about myself and also learn more about you. Sometimes its about books and book related topics and sometimes it's not. This is all in good fun and I would love it if you would participate.


Today's topic is about ALA Banned Books Week. Every year during the week of Sept. 24-Oct. 1 the American Library Association celebrates the freedom to read and brings attention to the detriment of censorship. Over the years many books have been challenged by individuals and groups of people for their unconventional points of view. This struggle to overcome censorship is a daily battle. It seems like everyday a book is being challenged. It doesn't surprise me  much anymore to hear about this but sometimes I hear about a particular book being challenged and it baffles me. Some of these books include: Harry Potter, James and the Giant Peach, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and Little Women. 


My question for this week is: 
What are the most surprising books to you on this list?



  1. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. 
  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. 
  3. Forever by Judy Blume. 
  4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. 
  5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. 
  6. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. 
  7. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.
  8. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. 
  9. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.  
  10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. 
  11. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. 
  12. The Giver by Lois Lowery. 
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. 
  1. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. 
  2. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. 
  3. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe. 
  4. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. 
  5. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. 
  6. 1984 by George Orwell. 
  7. Animal Farm by George Orwell. 
  8. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. 
  9. Candide by Voltaire. 
Ldy Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence. 
  1. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. 
  2. Fanny Hill by John Cleland. 
  3. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. 
  4. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. 
  5. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. 
  6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. 
  7. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. 
  8. The Awakening by Kate Chopin. 
  9. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. 
  10. Rabbit, Run by John Updike. 
  11. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. 
  12. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov. 
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. 
  1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. 
  2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. 
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. 
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. 
  5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. 
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. 
  1. Native Son by Richard Wright. 
  2. Beloved by Toni Morrison. 
  3. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. 
  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kessey. 
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. 
  6. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. 
  7. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. 
  8. East of Eden by John Steinbeck. 

*Find more lists of banned books:
ALA
ALA pdf file of banned books from May 2010-May2011

Also this week I'm encouraging you to be rebellious. Go read a challenged book. That's my Sunday Confession this week. If you answer this question on your own blog, leave me a link in the comments.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

0 What's Your Status? Sept. 24, 2011



Zakiya from Butterfly Feet Walking on Life has a fantastic meme. In this meme you post your status of the books your reading this week, books you finished this week, books you're going to read next, and books you plan on buying this week. You can also post what reviews and memes you participated in for the week. 


Last week I finished:

The World, the Flesh and the Bishop by Elizabeth Aston

Soulless (audio) by Gail Carriger

Currently I'm reading:

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy

Next on my TBR:

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Current Giveaways:

Humpday Giveaway ends Sept. 27, 2011


Birthday Giveaway ends Sept. 25

So Near by Liza Gyllenhaal ends Sept. 28

Returning tomorrow:
Sunday Confession, my weekly feature will be returning tomorrow. After taking the summer off I'm excited to get back to confessing. 

That's my status for this week, what's yours?



1 And the winner is.......




The winner of Dreamland by Alyson Noel is:
Crystal Fulcher
I've sent you an email please be sure to check your spam folder. 


The winner of Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress is:
Patricia @ Patricia's Particularity 
You're info will be forwarded to the author.

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaways! If you didn't win be sure to check out the other giveaways listed on the sidebar. Also a special thanks to the twitter peeps who helped me pick the winners since random.org was not working. 



Thursday, September 22, 2011

11 Things you should know.

Originally today I was going to post a review but in light of the circumstance that occurred earlier this week I thought it would be best to post about my review policy instead.  A few months ago an author asked me if I would be interested in reviewing her book.  After reading the summary I decided that I would accept this book for review. However after posting my review the author posted some negative feedback. One of her complaints was that I was not qualified to review her novel because I didn't read the genre exclusively.  
I found this point of her complaint laughable because she had asked me to review her novel. I don't feel like I need to read a genre exclusively to be qualified to have an opinion. If she had read my review policy she would have known that To Read or Not To Read reviews a variety of genres.  She would have also know what to expect from my reviews. 


Why should you read review policies? 


Most book review blogs have a review policy somewhere on their site. Review policies are important because it tells you what to expect from a particular blogger's book reviews. Review policies usually let you know what genres are reviewed and what to expect from the blogger's reviews. Some review policies are more detailed than others. It's always a good idea to check out the policies when you're interested in a blog as well as reading some of their reviews. 


To Read or Not To Read's review policy:


I review many genres including but not exclusive to: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Chick Lit, Supernatural, Steampunk, Romance, Gothic, Middle Grade, PNR and Classic Literature.  I occasionally read books outside my usual genres. I pick books based on my interest. If I'm reading a book it's because there is something about that book that grabbed my attention regardless of the genre. 


My reviews are subjective. They are based on my thoughts, feelings and opinions about the book. I feel it is not only a responsibility to myself but to the people who read my reviews to be honest.  I have a huge appreciation for authors and all the effort that goes into creating a novel. I always take that into consideration when writing a review. However submitting a book for review does not guarantee a glowing review.  


I work hard to make my reviews fair and honest. I put a lot of thought, effort and time into them. However if a book has been submitted for a review and the submitter can't take the time to check out my review policy and/or any past reviews written to see if this review site is a good fit, I have to file that under 'not my problem,' to put it bluntly. 


I use a rating system in my reviews. I rate books according to my overall opinion of the novel. My rating system is self-explanatory. I stand by my reviews. I won't apologize for giving a rating that reflects my opinion of the book(s) I review.  Nor will I change my rating because of negative feedback. 


To Read or Not To Read is a labor of love. I love this blog and the opportunities it gives me. I love discovering new authors, sharing my thoughts on books and interacting with other book lovers.  


I hope I haven't bored you too much with this post. Thanks for reading!










 

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