TBRs – Isak Dineson’s Out of Africa


Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass by Isak Dineson | LibraryThing

Isak Dineson/Karen Blixen’s literary classic is one of the Bloggerversary Challenge winners.

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Starlight Reviews – Ruta Sepetys’ “Between Shades of Gray” & Sean McCollum’s “Joseph Stalin”



Starlight Reviews | Jorie's Reads by Starry Night Elf

Inspired by Kimba the Caffeinated the Book Reviewer’s Coffee Pot Reviews, Starlight Reviews groups two or more complimentary books for one concise review. While not necessarily an in-depth analysis, Starlight Reviews offers the Jorie’s Reads audience the gist of the books as well as my opinions.  

For the maiden voyage, here are Starlight Reviews for Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray and  Sean McCollum’s Joseph Stalin (A Wicked History) 

Summer is for Lovers
Between Shades of Gray 
by Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Penguin Group US
Publication date: Mar 22, 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9781101476154
Source: HCPL Digital Media Catalog 

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Lithuanian fifteen-year old Lina Vilkas lives comfortably with her academic parents and younger brother, Jonas. Her family nurtures her artistic abilities. That changes, however, on June 14, 1941  when Soviet officers (NKVD)  invade her home,  taking Lina, her mother (Elena), and Jonas as prisoners. Separated from Lina’s father, the three find themselves sentenced to the Siberian work camps. Throughout this ordeal, Lina records this harrowing journey through illustration (although not seen in the novel).

Sepetys relates her tale in clear, understandable terms and I truly imagined Lina’s world. Also, Sepetys captured a teenage girl’s view quite well. However, this book loses a pearl due to the ending not tying up some significant loose ends.

Since the story centers around rather bleak, adult subjects, I strongly suggest that parents read this book before their younger, more impressionable kids pick up this book. While not gratuitous, this novel’s backdrop consists of genocide, violence, cruelty, and degradation.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

The Ruin of A Rogue
Joseph Staling (A Wicked History Series)
by Sean McCollum
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: Sep 01, 2010
Genre: Biography
ISBN: 978-0531223550
Source: HCPL 

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Like other books in “A Wicked History Series,” this juvenile/young adult biography features:

– Opening quote by or about the featured villain/villainess
– Historical map, annotated with key locations from person’s life
– “A Wicked Web” featuring allies and enemies
– Historical photos and etchings
– Boxes with additional information
– Photo documentaries: six to eight pages of photos and captions telling the person’s life
– Timeline, glossary, additional sources
– Engaging narrative nonfiction written at a very accessible reading level (Goodreads)

Yet, this is a Twentieth Century villain. So, there’s no question as to whether Joseph Stalin was wicked. In this 128-page book, McCollum tells the life story of Joseph Stalin, from birth to death. McCollum tells of a post-Stalin event which portrays the depravity of Stalin – relating to some of those work (death) camps I read about in Between Shades of Gray. 

I found this biography accessible and easy to read. It took me longer to get through it because my dad decided to read it while I had it checked out. I liked getting the basics and not being bogged down by footnotes and details.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

Top Ten New to Jorie Authors – 2013 Edition


Top Ten Tuesday | The Broke and the Bookish

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

(Thank you, Goodreads for the images)

(In most cases, I’d say I reacquainted myself with these authors in 2013.)

1.  Kiera Cass

Kiera Cass

2. Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber

3. Sandra Brown 

Sandra Brown

4. Libba Bray 

Libba Bray

5. Jude Deveraux

Jude Deveraux

6. Truman Capote

Truman Capote

7. Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris

8. Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac

9. Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella

10. Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie

Top Ten Books on Jorie’s Winter TBR


Top Ten Tuesday | The Broke and the Bookish

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

(Thank you,  LibraryThing and Goodreads for the images)

(I featured some of these last week. Also, I’m working on wrapping up my Revisited Challenge.)

1.  Sarah Addison Allen’s Lost Lake 

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

2. Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt 

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

3. Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince

The Prince

4. The Confessions of Augustine of Hippo 

Confessions of Saint Augustine

5. Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s 

Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories

6. Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life Frederick Douglass, an American Slave 

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

7. Kay Hooper’s Hostage

Hostage (A Bishop/SCU Novel) by Kay Hooper

8. Allison Weir’s Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World

Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her…

9. Jane Ridley’s The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the…

10. Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Ameila

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

APPeal – Goodreads


Goodreads | Mobile Apps – RESEARCH & LEARN | Morton Grove Public Library

Finally, I’m posting another APPeal review!

The Goodreads APP, like its website, allows users to keep track of what they’re reading and sharing book recommendations. This fantastic APP also has a built-in barcode scanner which makes life so much easier.

I can also keep up with my discussion groups on Goodreads. So, if I can’t get to a desktop, I can access this from my iPhone. It’s so cool!

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Junot Díaz


Junot Díaz | Goodreads

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf called “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.”

Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao changed my perception of something which seemed so scholarly – footnotes. My goodness, I’d never seen anything like it – little contradictions and factoids to add to the story of the woeful ghetto nerd Oscar. Within a page, I got narrative and the Dominican Republic’s volatile history. His work pointed me towards other books about the DR. I felt I had an idea and that’s mostly due to Díaz.

Goodreads states:

Junot Díaz is a contemporary Dominican-American writer. He moved to the USA with his parents at age six, settling in New Jersey. Central to Díaz’s work is the duality of the immigrant experience. He is the first Dominican-born man to become a major author in the United States.

Díaz is creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in 2008.

In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Díaz has received a Eugene McDermott Award, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a Lila Acheson Wallace Reader’s Digest Award, the 2002 Pen/Malamud Award, the 2003 US-Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was also awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2012. He was selected as one of the 39 most important Latin American writers under the age of 39 by the Bogotá Book Capital of World and the Hay Festival. In September 2007, Miramax acquired the rights for a film adaptation of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

After reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, this book became a staple on my Top Ten Tuesday posts 🙂 … I also pushed through his previous work Drown, a collection of short stories (not my favorite prose) simply because they were written by Díaz. Lucky for me, Yunior, Díaz’s narrator, was there, too.

His latest – This is How You Lose Her – is on my TBR pile. Why? Well, his blend of facts and narrative bring forth a gloriously clear picture of what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen. Thus, I couldn’t celebrate without mentioning Díaz.