Review: Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

It’s time to head back to school, even my alma mater is starting classes today, so I thought this would be a good time to finally post my thoughts on J. Courtney Sullivan’s debut novel Commencement.

CommencementCommencement is the story of four friends, April, Sally, Celia and Bree, who navigate their way through finding themselves as they start college (in this case, Smith, which also happens to be Ms. Sullivan’s alma mater) and discovering who they really are once they graduate.

I was going to write a little description of each character, but as I think about them, I can’t think of just one phrase to sum up each of these women, they are so multi-dimensional, and that is what I think made this book such an enjoyable read for me. I found myself able to relate to each of the characters for some trait they held, but they also had something about them that was foreign to me that I wanted to read and know more. There was not one I said, “oh, she is my favorite” or one that I didn’t like at all. They all had their virtues, and they each certainly had their own personal flaws.

The story begins with a wedding, or at least the travels back to Smith College for Sally’s wedding to the sweet, loveable man that Sally’s three friends fear isn’t good enough for her. As we build to the wedding, we also travel to the past to see how their friendship grew over their four years as housemates.

Of course, there must be drama – and this book provides it. The night before the wedding tests their friendship and the rest of the novel explores the paths they take – with and away from each other.

I won’t say too much else, as I don’t want to be leading or spoil anything. I will say that I wasn’t thrilled with where some parts of this book went in the end. But overall because of the characters themselves, and the fun of watching them develop while they were in college, I walked away from this book happy I read it, and looking forward to what Sullivan may write next.

Commencement
Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
ISBN: 978-0307270740
Pages: 336
Publisher: Knopf

What Are You Reading Monday, 31 August

on_mondaysThanks to J Kaye’s Book Blog for hosting this weekly meme.

I usually give you a rundown of my week along with listing out what I will be reading in the coming week, but since tomorrow is September 1 (OMG, how did that happen?!) I will save my rundowns for then.

So last week, again, I only finished one book. I have really got to pick up my pace. I am hoping this upcoming week will bode better.

BOOK I COMPLETED
1. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris My Review

BOOK TO COMPLETE
1. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

BOOK TO BEGIN
1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

QUESTION OF THE DAY:
So how about you? What are you reading this week?

Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge: Dead Until Dark & Living Dead in Dallas

Sookie Reading ChallengeIn my “summer of the reading challenge,” I had seen a lot of the bloggers I follow signing up for the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge hosted by Beth Fish Reads. I went back and forth about joining for quite awhile. I watch the HBO series, but didn’t know if I would actually want to read the books, let alone enjoy them. But, I finally decided to jump in, and am now so happy that I did.

Dead Until DarkFor those not familiar with the blonde, Louisiana born, barmaid mind reader – Sookie is a strong character filled with sass, but she has underestimated her skills and smarts, choosing to think of her mind reading as a disability, rather than a gift. This is of course until Vampire Bill walks in to her bar. She had always wanted to meet a vampire, and now here he was. It is only a short time after this meeting that Sookie is saving Bill’s life, and soon after that Bill returns the favor. And so begins Charlotte Harris’ first book in the Sookie series Dead Until Dark. Through out this book, Sookie seems to personally grow into her character, as she begins to appreciate her “disability” and use it to look into the strange happenings in her hometown of Bon Temps.

Living DeadThe second book, Living Dead in Dallas we see more of Sookie’s building relationship with Bill – and the difficulty of having a relationship with a vampire. And for those of you familiar with the TV series, we see the introduction of the Fellowship of the Sun and the maenad (both prominent in the series this season).

I have to say though that this is pretty much where a lot of the similarities end. Having watched the series first I went in to the books expecting certain things that never happened – where is Tara, what’s up with Jason, and oh so many more questions. But once I got past it and decided to enjoy the fun, light ride of the books, I enjoyed them all the more. And while I won’t compare the books to the TV series, I will say, much like I am enjoying the second season of True Blood more than the first — I enjoyed the second book so much more than the first.

I am looking forward to continuing on with this challenge.

Super Comments Award

Last night I had a lovely surprise on my blog, a link from Deb at Bookmagic directing me to her blog to pick-up the Super Comments Award. This is the second award for this little blog, and I couldn’t be more thankful. If you haven’t been over to Bookmagic you should definitely check it out. Her and I are in three challenges together: the August Reading Challenge, the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge and Everything Austen so it has been great to connect with her through those, as well as reading her reviews. Aside from checking out her blog, you can also follow her
on Twitter.

Thank you Deb for this great, and so cute (who doesn’t love a Panda), award!

comments award

The fun of getting these blogging awards, is passing them on to other bloggers, so it’s funny I should get this award now, since I have been thinking about commenting a lot recently as my blog is about to hit a milestone (for me) – receiving 200 comments.

If there is one thing I have come to realize over these past few blogging months it’s that there are few things more exciting for a blogger than seeing new comments to their posts (aside from maybe seeing that ARC you have been daydreaming over sitting in your mailbox). Sure, we can have followers to the blog, and on Twitter, etc. but it is that direct communication from someone who has read your post and taken the time to share a word or two. Regardless if you write for others or just write for yourself, there is something rewarding in knowing that at least one other person read it too.

So to have this award to pass along right now is perfect. While I appreciate all the commenters to my site, there are a few that I would like to pass this award on to:

  • Kathy at Bermudaonion – She was the first person to welcome me to book blogging with a comment to my post and she has been commenting here ever since. Even if it’s just to wish me luck on a challenge, I appreciate that she reads my posts and drops a line.
  • Carolyn at Book Chick City – Also new-ish to blogging, she stops by to share her thoughts and offer encouragement quite often.
  • Megan at Write Meg – Her first comment was to a recent post I had about breaking spines or not. Her comments are more a conversation, which is nice.

If you haven’t visited any of these blogs, I highly recommend you do so.

And now ladies, pass this award on to some of your commenters as well.

Just in Time for the Fall Chill – the R.I.P. IV Challenge

Here it is, almost September, I have been book blogging for a few months now – making friends, getting followers, it’s all going along so nicely …. so nicely in fact that I have been thinking of hosting my own challenge, when I see My Friend Amy’s post this morning about entering the R.I.P. IV Challenge. Now should a girl who is already participating in four challenges, and wants to test her blogging skills at hosting her own say “Oh great – I’m in!” Probably not, but when do I do what I “should?”

rip4150The R.I.P. IV Challenge (which stands for Readers Imbibing Peril) hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings invites readers to read those books that raise our heart rates as the autumn winds blow in:
Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

Seriously – how could I not sign up?!

rip4firstThere are different challenge levels. I aspire to Peril the First, reading any four books in any of the listed genres. Can I do it? Only time will tell.

Now for books, what will I read? Well instead of putting down four specific books I will read, I am going to list out some possibilities for my book pool. Please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts, or new suggestions.

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker (yes, I have read so many of the other vampires, how can I not have read where it all began)
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (another classic that has alluded me)
3. The Physick Books of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (I loved going to Salem as a kid, will be nice to go back, at least in book form)
4. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (this has been on the must read for awhile and is cross read for Everything Austen)
5. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (been on my shelf for so long, it’s about time it saw the sunlight)
6. The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith (because I’ve seen too many ads for the new TV series to not be a little curious)

This challenge runs from September 1 – October 31. Come join the fun. Sign up on Stainless Steel Droppings, and even if you don’t – I highly recommend you check out the blog and follow along with us!

As for my challenge, seeing all that is going on with Book Blogger Appreciation Week and wanting to build up my blog following a bit more before taking on the challenge of hosting a challenge, I think I will hold off until the start of the  new year and make it my reading list resolutions challenge. So I hope you will join me for that.

Teaser Tuesday, 25 August: The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

teaser-tuesdayIt’s that time of week again for Should Be Reading’s fun meme Teaser Tuesdays.

So how does this work:

  • Grab your current book
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Other QueenToday’s teaser comes from Philippa Gregory’s novel The Other Queen, which was released a little over a month ago in paperback.
I can feel my courage drain from me as if I am bleeding to death, and I am icy. The taste of defeat is like cold iron in my mouth, like the bit for an unbroken filly.” (Pg. 39)

QUESTION OF THE DAY
What’s your tease for this Tuesday?

What Are You Reading Monday, 24 August; and The Week That Was

on_mondaysThanks to J Kaye’s Book Blog for hosting this weekly meme.

Happy Monday! How is it that we now find ourselves in the last week of August. Seriously, it seems like summer was just beginning only days ago. I had so many posts planned, so many books in a pile to read. I think I need to abandon hope that I can fill a full summer into these last two weeks.

So, my book reading tally is down, but I did hit all my goals from last week. I finished up Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin and posted my review yesterday. I also managed to get up a post a on reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone yesterday as well, which I am reading for the Harry Potter Reading Challenge. Last week I started reading both The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory and Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris. I had more on the TBR pile that I should have put in the queue before The Other Queen, but following all the good reviews I have seen online for The White Queen, I wanted finish up The Other Queen first before jumping in to Gregory’s latest.

Last week I also wrote a post about breaking book spines and if your books look pristine or well-loved. I have enjoyed all your thoughts and comments on this subject. If you haven’t weighed in yet, or just want to see how your fellow book lovers keep their books check out To Break or Not to Break.

Oh, and one more thing before the rush of Back to School begins (or even just that feeling, if you aren’t in school or have kids that are, that September brings). I am doing my own personal Back to School Challenge from September through June to read between 5 – 10 books that might be found on a high school reading list that I have always meant to read, or re-read (I’ll have a post on this later this week). I know that there is so much going on with Book Blogger Appreciation Week, another challenge might be the last thing on your mind – but let me know if you might be interested and I might turn this into an official challenge (then my challenge will be to try and create an icon for it, lol).

So how about you? What are you reading this week?

BOOK I COMPLETED
1. Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin (My Review)

BOOKS TO COMPLETE
1. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
2. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

BOOK TO BEGIN
1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith