Wintergirls


Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: March 19, 2009

     Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

     In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Lia fights a war every single day. A war with herself.

Anorexia is a silent and very deadly disease that many people suffer. Laurie Anderson does not sugarcoat Lia's struggle at all. When Lia stared at her body, disgusted with the imaginary fat pockets her mind conjured, Laurie used almost poetic imagery to describe in great detail what Lia sees. I felt nothing but depressive emotions when I read this book. I nearly cried multiple times, and vary rarely does a book cause me an emotional roller coaster like this one.

This book was spectacular in the way the author tackled on the sensitive subject of eating disorders without being too preachy in describing the horrors.

There was only one complaint I had about the novel. I found the strikeouts throughout the book a little on the distracting side. Also, when Lia started her hallucinations with the ghost of Cassie, the line between reality and imagination seemed to be a little hazy.

I highly recommend this novel to everyone, especially to increase awareness of eating disorders and how it can affect a close friend.

Rating: Four out of Five stars

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Her Ladyship's Curse


Title: Her Ladyship's Curse
Author: Lynn Viehl
Genre: Paranormal, Steampunk
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: August 12, 2013

     In a steampunk version of America that lost the Revolutionary War, Charmian (Kit) Kittredge makes her living investigating magic crimes and exposing the frauds behind them. While Kit tries to avoid the nobs of high society, as the proprietor of Disenchanted & Co. she follows mysteries wherever they lead.

     Lady Diana Walsh calls on Kit to investigate and dispel the curse she believes responsible for carving hateful words into her own flesh as she sleeps. While Kit doesn’t believe in magic herself, she can’t refuse to help a woman subjected nightly to such vicious assaults. As Kit investigates the Walsh family, she becomes convinced that the attacks on Diana are part of a larger, more ominous plot—one that may involve the lady’s obnoxious husband.

     Sleuthing in the city of Rumsen is difficult enough, but soon Kit must also skirt the unwanted attentions of nefarious deathmage Lucien Dredmore and the unwelcome scrutiny of police Chief Inspector Thomas Doyle. Unwilling to surrender to either man’s passion for her, Kit struggles to remain independent as she draws closer to the heart of the mystery. Yet as she learns the truth behind her ladyship’s curse, Kit also uncovers a massive conspiracy that promises to ruin her life—and turn Rumsen into a supernatural battleground from which no one will escape alive.

I'm in love with the steampunk subgenre, and this novella portrays it in such a great way. The story takes place in an alternate timeline when America lost the Revolutionary War, and the United States is now called Toriana, or The Provincial Union of Victoriana. Americans are now citizens of England, and everything is changed.

The world building the author accomplished in this story is remarkable. The author even included a multi-page glossary in the back for the terminology, some made-up and some not familiar to an American audience.

The characters were very interesting. Kit, the investigator, Dredmore, the deathmage, and Thomas, the inspector. Perhaps there will be a love triangle in the second book, which I will be curious to read about, despite my aversion to the subject.

The plot starts simple, and grows as the story progresses. By the end of the book, the complexity is very refreshing, and left me craving for more. I was annoyed by the cliffhanger, but now I can't wait for the next installment.

Rating: Five out of Five stars

I received this book from the author and publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Sworn to Raise


Title: Sworn to Raise
Author: Terah Edun
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Amazon Digital
Publication Date: April 10, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the kingdom. But beneath her kingdom’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.

Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron. 

But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.

This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. Sworn To Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder.

While there were moments I would like to complain about, I'd rather enjoy this book. It was a decent, easy, enjoyable read that I was able to get through, and the characters seemed real.

That's the only reason why I'm giving this book three stars. To me, the plot has been done before, but with a fantasy twist. A girl is swept away from her life of a laundress and into the lavish life of a Companion. Sounds very Cinderella-ish to me, which is way overdone in my opinion. At some points, the characters acted too out of character for me to simply ignore.

Spelling errors. Oh my god, the spelling errors. I couldn't handle that. I just wanted to get a red pen and mark everywhere. Too bad it was an ebook.

Rating: Three out of Five stars

I received this book from the author and publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.

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Two Separate Reviews

For the first time, I shall be reviewing two different books, or novellas, as I should say, in one post. Since the books were so short, I was able to read through them at a fast pace, in about one day, and I feel that one post would suffice for the reviews. I received a free copy of both books via the Read It and Reap program in exchange for an honest review.

Title: A Penny's Worth
Author: A.M. Hooper
Genre: Suspense, Romance
Publisher: Prose by Design
Publication Date: May 10, 2011

His kisses are passionate. His romance is flawless. The last thing 17 year old Emmaline expected was for her perfect boyfriend, Cephas, to kidnap her. Now she'll have to outsmart and outrun those closest to her in this fast- paced adventure of insubordination and torrid love. Friends will become foes and trust will gave way to bitter lies as Emmaline tries to save innocent lives which may perish at the hand of Cephas's crooked boss. With a posse of lethal hit men hot on her trail, Emmaline must decide whether unraveling the truth is worth enduring the betrayal, destruction, and deceit that stand in her way. Cephas Bourdon is trouble, but maybe she could kiss him again . . . just one more time. It couldn't hurt.

I don't even know where to begin on this book. The book was such a mess, that at times I felt like scratching out my eyes and bleaching my brain in order to forget what I've read. And I'm usually not this shallow, but I couldn't stand the cover. No need to go on about that though.

I couldn't stand Emmaline. The author, and every character in the book, proclaimed her a smart girl, but every decision she made was pure idiocy. It was rare when I didn't want to slap her around and hopefully bring back some sense into her teenage mind. What baffled me the most was while she and her father were under the custody of Dominic, the antagonist, all she could think about was loving Cephas and crying over the fact that he lied to her. GET OVER IT. You and your father are about to die, and that is all you can think about? Ugh.

Get the author a thesaurus, please. Some adjectives were repetitive, especially those using to describe the bad guys. "Evil" seemed to be the author's favorite choice. Oh--

"and everything went black
"everything went black"
"And everything went black"

How many times does this phrase need to be repeated in the book? The author also utilizes the phrase in the least suspenseful scenes ever-when the character is going to sleep. Seriously? Please. Just stop.

The only reason I'm not giving this book one star is because the story had some good moments. The typical teenager-falling-for-guy scenes were cute, and not cliched to the point where I wanted to vomit. But that was it.

Rating: Two out of Five stars




Title: Tourmentin
Author: Michelle Cornwell-Jordan
Genre: Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: March 16, 2013

     Emile and Serafine loved at first sight believing in their fairytale ending. But fate and darkness from Emile’s past separate the lovers, with Emile being trapped in an alternate time, imprisoned in the 1800’s by his former lover the sultry Isadora. Isadora is convinced that she and Emile belong together and also as the old saying goes… believes if she cannot have Emile, then no one can.

     Time moves forward and Emile’s beloved Serafine dies, but she promises to find her true love again. Love’s promise is realized, when Serafine is reborn into the modern age and has returned to the French Quarter and to the very hotel where her Emile still remains frozen in time.

     The lovers reunite, only to face an evil which vows to destroy them once and for all.

I was able to read this story in less than an hour, for it was only 59 pages long. It was a decent novelette, a sweet love story with the New Orleans vibe. Now, I love New Orleans, and I consider it a second home. I'm already biased when it comes to stories that are set in the city, and this one is no exception. It features magic, ghosts, voodoo, and the charismatic charm of the city to tie the story together.

There isn't much to say about this story, since it is so short, but I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoy romantic short stories.

Rating: Four out of Five stars

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Future Changes

As some of you may have notice, I'm still fiddling with the layout of this blog. I'm experimenting with pre-made layouts until I can finally figure out how to make my own. How do you like the current one?

Also, something else has been on my mind. I think I would like to focus on a certain genre for this blog. More specifically, the fantasy/sci-fi/steampunk genre. Books of those genres are usually my favorite, and I think it will be fun to focus this blog on a more specific area.

Any thoughts? Inputs?

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Divergent


Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopian
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: May 3, 2011

     In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

     During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I dove into this book with relatively low expectations-something I do with a book that has so much hype surrounding it. I was pleasantly surprised when I finished the book, more surprised that it took me about a day to finish. Maybe the book absorbed me in more than I thought it did.

I don't know how to review this book without listing the positives and negatives of this book. There were definitely both.

Negative first. I didn't enjoy the writing style of the book. I'm very picky about writing, and Veronica Roth's style, including first person, turned me off somewhat. I just can't stand first person writing. Ugh. Second, the dystopian setting, including the five factions, seemed a little old to me. People being placed into a certain faction based on personality. Seemed a little Harry Potter to me. And everyone is trying to write the next Harry Potter book.

Even though those few things bothered me, the book was excellent. I thought that the main character, Tris, was a complete and total badass. A sword-wielding, gun-slinging, punch-throwing badass. At times the character did annoy me though, but I thought she had some depth to her.

My favorite part: ROMANCE WASN'T THE MAIN PLOT. I enjoy romance as a side thing, but I'm always turned off if I read a novel for something other than romance, and it turns out to be the main focus. So I was very happy with this book.

Last thing, the action. HOLY CRAP I WAS ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT. I love that feeling, when a book can actually make my heart start pounding away as I flip through the pages, unable to put the book down. I love action, and the action in this book seemed never ending. Loved it.

Rating: Four out of Five stars

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Shadow of the Swords

Title: Shadow of the Swords
Author: Kamran Pasha
Genre: Historical fiction, Romance
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: June 22, 2010

     An epic saga of love and war, Shadow of the Swords tells the story of the Crusades—from the Muslim perspective.Saladin, a Muslim sultan, finds himself pitted against King Richard the Lionheart as Islam and Christianity clash against each other, launching a conflict that still echoes today. 
      In the midst of a brutal and unforgiving war, Saladin finds forbidden love in the arms of Miriam, a beautiful Jewish girl with a tragic past. But when King Richard captures Miriam, the two most powerful men on Earth must face each other in a personal battle that will determine the future of the woman they both love—and of all civilization. 
      Richly imagined, deftly plotted, and highly entertaining, Shadow of the Swords is a remarkable story that will stay with readers long after the final page has been turned.

I am absolutely in love with this book. Behind the cheesiness of the book cover is a wonderfully written story of the Third Crusades, and prominent figures of the time such as King Richard the Lionheart and Sultan Saladin. In addition to the plot about the Crusades, there was a romance between a Jew, Miriam, and Saladin, a prominent Muslim in the region. Even Richard falls for Miriam, but the affections are never returned.

Kamran Pasha initially wrote a manuscript as a reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Eventually the manuscript turned into a novel, as the movie never happened.

What I found unique about the story, is that even though he mainly told the story through the Muslim perspective, we were still able to see the Christian side of the story, thus elimination the cliched Good vs. Evil associated with wars. Stories from both sides were told. It was refreshing and enjoyable, and at times, I've discovered that I've been reading for five hours straight. The only reason I wasn't constantly reading the book is because I'm a easily distracted person.

Saladin is seen as the ideals associated with Islam, all the virtues and chivalry. When Richard lost his horse during battle, Saladin presented him his own horse as a replacement. Also, when the foolhardy king was dying from the camp illness, the Sultan sent in his own personal doctor to heal his enemy.

While Richard is less sympathetic than Saladin, and a bit immature at times with his personal choices, the author created the character Sir William Chinon, based on actual historical figure William des Roches, as the symbol for the ideal Christian who never sways from his beliefs even under pressure of power, greed, or revenge.

I would not read this book for the historical inaccuracies, but simply for the plot, the characters, and the overall story that left me unable to put the book down. Those of you who are picky about historical accuracy, don't expect this book to be the one for you.

Rating: Five out of Five stars

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Black Sea Gods

Title: Black Sea Gods
Author: Brian Braden
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Kindle
Publication Date: February 14, 2013

     The fish have disappeared from the sea. The animals have vanished from the land. All humanity, and even the gods, tremble under the specter of a pending cataclysm. The demigod Fu Xi races home from the edge of the world bringing news of a looming god war, but finds his land under attack by monsters he once called his children. He discovers a terrible curse has been cast, one intended to destroy the gods and all life. To his shock, Fu Xi learns mankind’s hope rest solely on him, a simple fisherman and a banished slave girl.

     Beset on all sides, Fu Xi knows he must act quickly and races west to rescue the saviors. Unaware of the real doom that awaits, Aizarg the fisherman and his party begin a perilous journey across a dangerous steppe. They seek the last of the Narim, the legendary Black Sea Gods, who hold the key to their salvation. Leading them is the rescued slave girl Sarah, the only one among them who knows the path to the land of the god-men.

     Over seven days the defining struggle of gods and humans begins under the onslaught of a powerful force whose true objective and origin remain a mystery. Fu Xi knows the secret to victory resides in a fisherman and a slave girl, whose lives he must protect, even if it means the rest of the world must perish.
*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via the Read It and Reap program in exchange for an honest review.*

Let me be brutally honest with this book. I have a policy where if I don't enjoy a book, I don't finish it. I couldn't finish this book. I did not enjoy the story telling, the characters, or even the plot at all. When I started reading the book, I would almost immediately fall asleep from the lack of excitement I felt. To me, the hard to remember names completely turned me off, and the fantasy aspect, well, I just didn't enjoy for once.

I feel bad about not liking this book, because to me, all books should be loved, but this one is in that small category of books I never want to pick up again. Confusing names, dull plot, and I couldn't bring myself to like any of the characters.

Overall, I would never pick up this book again. Don't read it unless you have the time to waste.

Rating: One out of Five stars

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Library Finds

I finally went to the city library for the first time in forever. It was a spontaneous decision I made while taking my mother to the doctor today. The library was as just as I remember from my middle school days, slightly run-down, a little deserted, and sadly not a wide variety of books to choose from. One would think differently of the capital city of Alabama. Then again...maybe not. The Huntsville library I've come to love while at university is much more grande with a cathedral design on the outside, and wide, open space on the inside. Oh how I miss it. Despite the lack of books, I was still able to find a decent selection of novels that caught my eye.

  Jennifer Government by Max Barry
     Taxation has been abolished, the government has been privatized, and employees take the surname of the company they work for. It's a brave new corporate world, but you don't want to be caught without a platinum credit card--as lowly Merchandising Officer Hack Nike is about to find out. Trapped into building street cred for a new line of $2500 sneakers by shooting customers, Hack attracts the barcode-tattooed eye of the legendary Jennifer Government. A stressed-out single mom, corporate watchdog, and government agent who has to rustle up funding before she's allowed to fight crime, Jennifer Government is holding a closing down sale--and everything must go. 
     A wickedly satirical and outrageous thriller about globalization and marketing hype, Jennifer Government"is the best novel in the world ever."

I become interested in Max Berry after being introduced to his fun webiste, NationStates. This satirical piece immediately grabbed my attention, and it looks to be an enjoyable read.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
     In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

     During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I hear about this book all the time, so I finally caved and rented it. I feel like it would have been a crime to not get it, as so many people are telling me to read it. Well, there you go. I got it.

Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
'On what slender threads do life and fortune hang'

     Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dant├Ęs is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialised in the 1840s.


I claim this my classics read for the next few weeks, after making a bet with my boyfriend. He's going to read Three Musketeers while I read this, and whoever finishes first wins. Wish me luck!

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Classics: Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables

By Aesop

     The fables of Aesop have become one of the most enduring traditions of European culture, ever since they were first written down nearly two millennia ago. Aesop was reputedly a tongue-tied slave who miraculously received the power of speech; from his legendary storytelling came the collections of prose and verse fables scattered throughout Greek and Roman literature. First published in English by Caxton in 1484, the fables and their morals continue to charm modern readers: who does not know the story of the tortoise and the hare, or the boy who cried wolf? 




I honestly don't have a lot to say about this book.

Is it a crime to not fall in love with such a timeless piece of literature? I honestly tried to love it, I really did, but I simply could not. Call me weird, bizarre, odd, or whatever term you fancy. But I didn't love Aesop's Fables as much as many other people do. After reading for a while, some of the stories seemed to blend together, and even were a bit repetitive at times. 

I have to give it merit though. Valuable lessons are to be learned from the many fables told by Aesop. While I didn't particularly enjoy it, I would definitely recommend everyone to read the collection of stories. 

Out of five stars, I would give it a three and a half.





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Welcome!

Hello those who stumble across my little blog! I guess I should tell you about the blog, and my main mission.

I am an Atmospheric Science major in college, and most of the time I'm swamped with physics and calculus, and like any other college student, I need a distraction here and there. Reading is generally my distraction, and I love forming my own opinions about the books I read. So voila! This blog was born.

Note, I'm still in the process of trying to create this blog, and how I want to format my review. Please be patient with me!

Oh, and I review a wide variety of books, from fantasy, to YA, general fiction, action/adventure, mystery, romance, and so on. I'm always looking for new reads!

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Crimson Footprints by Shewanda Pugh


Title: Crimson Footprings
Author: Shewanda Pugh
Genre: Romance
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: December 1, 2011

     When an insecure, bi-racial woman begins a cloak-and-dagger love affair with a Japanese American man, she is intent on keeping her bigoted family in the dark—albeit with devastating consequences. 

     On the night of her brother’s murder, Deena Hammond stumbles upon Takumi Tanaka, lost and on the wrong end of a .32. After rescuing him from the certain fate driving through the hood in a Ferrari will bring, a sweet kind of friendship begins. A balm for her grief. 


     Maybe, Deena likes to think, it happened the day her white mother killed her black father. Or maybe, it was always a part of them, like DNA gone bad. Whatever the case, Deena knows that her family would never approve, hell, never acknowledge her fast-growing love for Takumi. And had he never made love to her that way, in that unraveling, soul-searching sort of way she could’ve done the same. But love’s a devil that way. 


     So, their game begins. One where they hide what they are from everyone. From anyone. And Tak understands this—for now. After all, Deena’s career hinges on the favor of her mentor and boss, his hard-ass of a father. And the Hammond family is already stretched thin with grief. Yet, each step Deena takes toward family and career brings her closer to an acceptance she’s never had. And away from him.

I generously received this book for the Read it and Reap review program.

Deena has two different lives: One in a prestigious architecture firm with fancy suits, and the other with her family in a gang-ridden neighborhood infamous for its crime rates. She begins a relationship with a Japanese man, of which neither family approves. This forbidden affair fuels her confidence to finally stand up to her family for what she believes in.

Crimson Footprints was a rather interesting read. While the story started off a bit slow for me, which in turn earned it's four out of five stars from me, I quickly was unable to stop reading the story. There were a few character that irked me, such as Lizzie and Grandma Emma. At times, I could feel Deena's own pain, annoyance,and anger at her own family whom can never seem to accept and love her, due to her being half white. 

While the book certainly had down moments, I was full enraptured with this novel, and the struggle the main characters were going through. I definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy a decent, fast read.

Rating: Four out of Five stars

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