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4.19.2014

Princesses Behaving Badly Mini Review

I was pretty excited when I opened up Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie - another cool book from Quirk and I was thrilled! However, I promptly forgot about it. Non-fiction tends to go to the bottom of my TBR in general, so that is where this gem sat. A few weeks ago, I was spring cleaning my bookshelves and came across it. Princesses Behaving Badly is a collection of true tales - and not the happily ever after kind. These princesses are real... as are their stories of power, lust, and cruelty. We all know the stories of gender inequality- well, these princesses had to overcome those barriers. Some did it through cunning mind play, while others did it through straight brutality. Whichever way it happened, many of these princesses needed to fight for their rights. These women (and sometimes girls!) are tough as nails and willing to do whatever it takes to get whatever it is they want. Interesting stories are found on every page. It really gives another light to the idea of "princess". After all, real princesses don't have carriages that turn into pumpkins, sing to the animals, live with a bunch of dwarfs, or sleep in the woods only to be woken by a kiss from a worthy prince. I think this should be required reading for all teenage girls- the Disney Princess concept is way to prevalent in our society... let them grow up to be whatever they want- let's remind them that women don't need to be saved and we can run our own lives! Yea feminism! {real feminism... not that man bashing crap that calls itself feminism... but that post is for another day folks}


A bit more about the book:
Quirk Books // Nov 2013
You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, and you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But real princesses didn't always get happy endings. Sure, plenty were graceful and benevolent leaders, but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power—and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elisabeth of the Austro-Hungarian empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev slaughtered her way to sainthood while Princess Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield, charging into combat with her toddler son strapped to her back. Princesses Behaving Badly offers true tales of all these princesses and dozens more in a fascinating read that's perfect for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story.


write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

FTC: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Image from Goodreads.com, book information from Amazon.com

4.17.2014

Quickie Review: The Empire Striketh Back

Ian Doescher has done it again, folks! William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back is a phenomenal installment in his William Shakespeare's Star Wars series.
Exactly as it sounds- this is the retelling of The Empire Strikes Back- in Shakespeare's voice. Written as if you were reading Shakespeare himself, Doescher puts on a great act to make Star Wars and Shakespeare mash-up to become a geek thrilling tale.
I read the first in this series and was kind of underwhelmed- but I am chalking it up to over hyping the book. Now that I knew what to expect, I was ready and I enjoyed The Empire Striketh Back much more than I did William Shakespeare's Star Wars.
Once again, I'm recommending this to my geek lovers out there- trust me, you will love this just as much! A third installment comes out soon and I can't wait... I'm giving Star Wars Part The Fifth 4 stars!




write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

4.15.2014

3 stars for Dark Eden

Depth and the unknown keep this story moving. Dark Eden by Chris Beckett is an intriguing science fiction novel that readers will enjoy- once you adjust your mind to think outside the box!

About the book:
Broadway Books // 4.1.14
On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family take shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it.
The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say—and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.
But young John Redlantern will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. He will abandon the old ways, venture into the Dark...and discover the truth about their world.

If that piqued your interest, just wait until you read an excerpt! Use this link to head over to Scribd to find the first two chapters of Dark Eden.

My thoughts:
I'm not quite sure where to start with this one- which is fitting, because that it hows I felt in the beginning of the novel... I wasn't sure what I thought of the novel. It did draw me in quickly, but as I kept on reading, I couldn't pin my feelings down. Dark Eden is strange, but I like strange and I think Beckett did strange well in this novel.
Set in another world called Eden, we meet a cast of characters who all quickly demonstrate their purpose- not only within the book, but their purpose for being written. Each character pulls at a part of the human psyche or at a part of our social consciousness. They all serve a purpose- and while Beckett made some a bit more obvious than others, it was still quite clear that each character was a part of the collective whole of a human consciousness. Does that make sense? It does in my head, but- like the book- it may take a bit to wrap your head around when seeing it put to paper.
Dark Eden is a beautifully built world- I have to say that I was astounded at how well Beckett crafted an alien world. Creating the images that he described was thought provoking and used my full imagination. I really had to think about a few of the creatures and a few of the landscaping components while reading. As you read on, you start to connect that all the pieces of Eden are evolved from pieces of Earth and you can start to spot the likeness between certain things. Here is where I normally would connect a piece or two... but I don't even want to match up any small connections, because I want you to read it and do it- it really is quite fun to see your own light bulb go off and make those evolutionary connections between ours world and Eden.
Aside from character and setting development, the themes that come out in this novel are plentiful. We see gender roles, disabilities, social norms, free thinking, sexuality, and faith (among others) all brought to the surface while still meshing into the novel. I could see some heavy debates coming if a book group took on this novel. Some are challenged while others are just there. All the issues that come to a head would be fabulous to discuss- especially when put firmly into the setting of Eden and then contrasted against the realities of Earth. Again, I would throw some examples out there, but I seriously enjoyed the thought that went into reading this, so I'm saving that for you readers to enjoy on your own.
Overall, this novel was intriguing. It held my attention and it was well thought out. You can tell that every move and every twist was well planned by Beckett- like chess- an analogy he often uses in the book itself. There were some parts that tripped me up, which held me back from giving this 4 stars. The language was a bit much to get used to- the repetition of words and the puzzling names for things- and while I understand it is part of the setting being in Eden, I still think it went a bit overboard at times. It was a bit of a stretch and felt forced. In an interview (you can find the Amazon author review here) Beckett defends his use of double adjectives and changes in language. I agree with him- to a point. As a reader, it just seemed to go a bit beyond what I felt was necessary to highlight the changes. Another thing that I struggled with was the science- I know this is science fiction but some of it seemed a bit far-fetched and didn't have any basis or background. I crave that when reading sci-fi, even if it is just a smidgen of real science.. and if there isn't any hard science added, I at least want some fake science tossed in to make it seem a bit more plausible. I'd say I was annoyed with the ending, but a sequel will be released, so I am retracting my ending-hate on the basis of a sequel which will tie those loose ends together!
Those things aside, I did enjoy the novel. I think science fiction fans will like this one, but it would be a stretch for those who aren't into that genre- it feels like it would be a bit too far out of the comfort zone for some.


About the author:
Chris Beckett was born in Oxford, England in 1955, and now lives in Cambridge, England. He has published three novels - Dark Eden, The Holy Machine and Marcher - and two short story collections: The Turing Test and The Peacock Cloak. He has been publishing short stories in the UK and the US, since 1990.
The Turing Test, won the Edge Hill Short Fiction Award in 2009, the UK's only national prize for single-author short-story collections. Dark Eden won the Arthur C. Clarke award in 2013.
More information about his writing can be found at www.chris-beckett.com
Chris Beckett's background is in social work and he has also written several text books on social work.



write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

FTC: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Image from Scribd page. Book synopsis, author information, and author image from Amazon.com

4.06.2014

The beautiful beautiful Moon sisters

The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh  is a captivating and beautiful story about grief and growing up. This novel delivered and left me craving more.

About the novel:
Crown // March 4, 2014
After their mother's probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz take steps to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia—who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights—is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother's unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest.
Already resentful of Olivia’s foolish quest and her family’s insistence upon her involvement, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn't be trusted. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, until they are finally forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.

My thoughts:
How to put my thoughts on  page- that is the question. The Moon Sisters was mesmerizing, as promised. It pulled me in quickly, then held on for the duration. Not typically a novel I would be drawn too, I was surprised that it had such a strong grip on me. Jazz and Olivia are bold and multifaceted characters. Walsh created two beautiful souls with those two girls. It has been ages since I read a book with such gorgeously strong female characters. The stunning character work didn't end there- Hobbs, a train hopper that helps the girls on their journey, was also a complex character. Rough and scary exterior with a soft heart and a deep history.
The central part of this story is their mother, but it expands to family as the tale moves forward. Family dynamics, responsibilities, and loyalty all spring up throughout this novel. Each is enhanced by the depth of character in the novel. The five stages of grief are the section headings in The Moon Sisters- they are the only times that they are so pointedly brought up, however each stage is woven in the stories the characters tell. The subtle shifts in the way they share their stories and move through the days that this novel takes place, move them through the stages of grief and through the story.
The adventure that the girls find themselves on- looking for hope and guidance- is remarkable. It brings out so much in their character and you can feel the girls growing as the story ebbs and flows. It makes Olivia grow up and it softens Jazz. Hobbs finds answers to his own unasked questions as well.
I was amazed at how lyrical this novel was as well. It was magical. The novel deals with grief. I have had a very small share of grief, thankfully, at this point in my life, so I was unsure as to whether or not I would find a connection with this novel. Somewhere, I did. I'm not sure if it was Jazz and her softening, or Olivia and her growing up, but within those pages I did see a bit of myself in years past. Therese Walsh wrote a book that speaks to you- whether or not you've experienced monumental grief. I highly recommend this novel.

About the author:
Therese's debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House), was named one of January Magazine's Best Books of 2009, was nominated for a RITA award for Best First Book in 2010, and was a TARGET Breakout Book.
Her second novel, The Moon Sisters, will be published by Crown in March, 2014. Its working title, in case you're curious, was The Book That Tried to Kill Me. It had a few other titles as well, including The Foolish Fire of Olivia Moon.
Therese is the co-founder and manager of Writer Unboxed, an award-winning website and online writing community. Among other accolades, Writer Unboxed was named one of the top 101 sites for writers in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 by Writer's Digest.
Therese has a master's degree in psychology. She was a researcher and writer for Prevention magazine before becoming a freelance writer and eventually turning to fiction.
Therese is an award-winning haiku'ist, thanks to Jimmy Kimmel, Carlton Cuse, and LOST.
She hopes that you'll enjoy her novels, and invite her to Skype with your book clubs.


write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

FTC: I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Book synopsis, author image, and author information from Amazon.com

4.03.2014

24-Hour Readathon!


Yes folks, it is that time again- time to sign up and start your planning for Dewey's 24 Hour Readahon!
This year's readathon is held on Saturday April 26, 2014. (The start times are based on your region, and mine is 8am)

This is my favorite reading time of year. It is (hopefully) beautiful outside and I get to spend an entire day just reading and enjoying myself. Bear is always super supportive and brings me goodies, which is totally awesome. The Readathon always means lots of random snacking throughout the day.
Last year I didn't spend much time on the internet because I often get way too sucked in. This year I am hoping to find a happy medium and get online to check on the progress of my fellow readathoners and check out the readathon mini challenges. I plan to use a timer so I don't get sucked into the black hole of the internet.
I haven't looked through my books yet to pick a stack, but I will be soon! I like to have a lofty pile to pick through for the day. Last year I read 3 books (and started 2) but didn't blog. This year my goal is to read 4 books, participate in mini challenges, tweet more, and instagram my books and progress.

So if you haven't already, head over to 24readathon.com and sign up to spend a full day reading!



write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow