Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to the weekly Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jen over at Crazy-for-Books

This week, she asks a blogging question:
What is the one thing your blog followers do not know about you?

You probably have no idea that I have dabbled in photography. I have a beautiful Nikon DSLR and have spent many wonderful moments photographing both people and things. I've been featured in the newspaper, featured during Binghamton's First Friday Art Walk at a local cafe, featured in the Arts in the Parks summer fest, and had multiple pieces in rotation at local galleries. I've also done engagement photos. All of these things were a few years ago (mainly late 2007 to early 2010), as I am  not actively photographing anymore. Now I only photograph for pleasure. While I enjoyed my stint in photography, my life just happened to lead me in another direction. 

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



Prized is the second book in the Birthmarked trilogy by Caragh M. O'Brien. This young adult novel follows Gaia Stone as she continues her journey through her dystopian society, trying to find the strength to stand for what she believes in.

Please note that this synopsis and my subsequent review may reveal some story lines from Birthmarked (book #1) and Tortured (bridge book #1.5)
You can find my review of Birthmarked here and my review of Tortured here

Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?

I really enjoyed this novel. When I finished Birthmarked, I was very eager to continue the trilogy. It obviously took me some time to get around to it, but once I started Tortured all the memories of the plot lines in Birthmarked flooded back. The same happened when I began reading Prized. Birthmark left us hanging in the balance- wondering what would come of Gaia and baby Maya. Prized answered those questions. Gaia made it to the wasteland and found herself in a new society, Sylum. As she began to learn the rules of this new society, ruled by women, her beliefs were challenged. Prized allowed us a glimpse into Gaia's mind and her struggle to define her values and beliefs as she was taken in by Sylum. When Leon appears in the Sylum jail, things begin to shift inside Gaia. As she works out her own issues, Leon is doing the same. They both have a lot of baggage to sift through while they discover what they want in one another and what they want for their futures.

Prized kept me engaged and interested- the society that O'Brien built in Sylum was extremely consuming. There were some aspects that I did not find plausible, but for the most part, Sylum was a believable dystopian society. It was built by women (for women) and developed over years of control. I can see how in the beginning the society was formed to help sustain a simple life and continue their population.... and I can also see how the years changed the women, creating power and control hungry leaders. O'Brien also created a lot of depth of character in Gaia and Leon as they changed while living in Sylum. While reading Prized, I felt much more connection to all of the characters. They were fully developed and the characters in the shadows were also multidimensional . Prized had a strong internal struggle throughout the story, which I think really created a platform for character development.
Aside from the deep connection to Gaia's struggle, I thoroughly enjoyed Prized for its pace and constant movement. I remember feeling a bit stalled while reading Birthmarked, but I certainly didn't feel that way with Prized. The moments that it did lull, I was still anxiously awaiting the turn of the page. Again, O'Brien left us with another major cliffhanger at the completion of Prized. I would highly reccommend this book for young adult and dystopian fans alike. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of Promised on Oct 2nd and cannot wait to download it to my Kindle and dive in!

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


BBAW day 4

As always, I am late to join in Book Blogger Appreciation Week. You'd think I would get on top of this by now. But, not so much. Today is DAY 4 of BBAW. I've been busy trolling the linkys over at BBAW2012 and enjoying seeing amazing new blogs. I've been an on-again off-again blogger for ages, so I missed a lot when I was in an off-again moment. My goal nowadays is to limit off-again to vacations from the blog (with pre-posted material!)

Ohhh okay, anywho... back to BBAW day 4
Todays topic:
Pimp that Book!

Today we get to be pimps and share a book or author we love.

I'm pimping Heather Gudenkauf. I love her writing. It is magical. I know a lot of people enjoy her as well, so I'm pimping her book "The Weight of Silence", written in 2009. While it it still appreciated (as is her writing in general) I want to pimp this author out because EVERYONE should read her! "The Weight of Silence" is spectacular... go get it.

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


Lately my reading has slowed down considerably. I am reading a few books at once, and I think it is throwing me off. Too many similar themes right now, when normally I read multiple books of very different genres and sizes. I'm currently working on Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien, FEED by Mira Grant, and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I'm also beginning Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with Maddie
at home, as well as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my middle school English class at school. 
That is a lot for me. I typically only work on 2 books plus a reread... and even though my Harry Potter books are both rereads it is still boggling my mind to be reading so much right now. I'm almost done with Prized so I think I'll finish that and not pick up another one for a bit and just focus on FEED and The Little Stranger for RIP7.

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


The Psychopath Test

Oooh how I love psychology. I always have. It is what led me to teach in a psychiatric facility for adolescents. Mental health has intrigued me for ages. The study of the mind is something I find thrilling. Also, I have a special place in my heart for the study of psychopaths / sociopaths (and pathological liars / manipulative personalities) because for the last 5 or so years I have had someone that lurks around the corner of my life who seems to fit into these personality traits. This is part of the reason I picked up The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson.  Once I started reading, I was totally engrossed in this book... I'll let the synopsis speak for itself.

"In this madcap journey, a bestselling journalist investigates psychopaths and the industry of doctors, scientists, and everyone else who studies them. 
The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues. And so Ronson, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, enters the corridors of power. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud in Coxsackie, New York; a legendary CEO whose psychopathy has been speculated about in the press; and a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane who insists he's sane and certainly not a psychopath. 
Ronson not only solves the mystery of the hoax but also discovers, disturbingly, that sometimes the personalities at the helm of the madness industry are, with their drives and obsessions, as mad in their own way as those they study. And that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their maddest edges."

The story begins with the mystery of an anonymous small scale published book which has been sent to top academics in various fields. It appears to be some sort of riddle which no one can decipher. The academics struggle to make sense of it all and take to the internet to weave their tales together in an effort to find a connection. When that fails, they go looking for an investigative journalist who might be able to unravel the mystery. That is where Jon Ronson comes in and begins his journey through the brain. 
I must admit that Ronson did a phenomenal job keeping the reader engaged and interested. I ate this book up in a matter of a few reading sessions. Each chapter was humorous and at times, insightful. While I originally went into this book looking for more information on psychopaths and dealing with them, I was pleasantly surprised when I found more anecdotal bits of information. We learned history and science as we explored the brain with Ronson. He drove us down memory lane too- he explored great breakthroughs and anecdotal stories in psychology. It was interesting, as he took an investigative stand and presented the information he received from those close to said projects and breakthroughs. 
My only complaint throughout the book was that Ronson was sometimes jumping around a bit. He would jump from one story or breakthrough to another. There were a few times where I had to go back and search for the connection. Overall Ronson certainly delivered with this book and I highly recommend it. You won't be let down!

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

RIP Movie Review: The Possession

On a rainy Labor Day evening, Bear and I went to see the new horror movie of the moment "The Possession". We watched the trailers and it seemed intriguing. Not to mention the fact that it is based on a true story. "The Possession" is about a young girl, Emily, and her family's experiences with a box she found at a garage sale. As the story unfolds, we see Em becoming more and more obsessed with the box. We eventually learn that the box is actually designed to hold a dibbuk (an evil spirit) but when opened it can unleash the spirit and terrorize those who are exposed to the box.  The Possession follows Emily's possession and her family's struggle to save her from the grip of this box.

My Thoughts:

The Possession has a good story line; I've always enjoyed movies and stories of possessions and exorcisms. My all-time favorite horror movie (and novel) is The Exorcist. I really thought this movie would deliever, especially after viewing the trailer. Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed. I'm always looking to get scared, but it certainly didn't do the trick. I never even jumped. Nor did I have any "oh shit!" moments in the theater. Oh, and no creeped out thoughts while in bed that night. Barrett felt the same way as I did. He didn't jump and he wasn't too impressed. We both walked out of the theater talking about how poor the horror movies are nowadays and nothing seems to terrify either of us. Overall, I thought The Possession was weak. Good concept for sure, but it just didn't thrill us. 
I suggest waiting for this one to hit Netflix & Red Box

Last, can I add that this movie poster for The Possession is awesome & creepy? Totally love it... just wish this translated in the theater.

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



I love spooky and scary and all things related to horror... Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the smells and sights.. and I also love Halloween and anything relating to horror. So naturally, I must join up with some sort of bookish blogging event. I wanted to join something that would last for a longer period of time so I decided to join in the fun at R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. R.I.P. is in its seventh year and runs from September 1st through October 31st with lots of ways to participate.

I will be joining R.I.P. in the following ways:

I will be reading 4 spooky stories as part of the Peril the First commitment level. I haven't picked out all my books, but I do know that one will be FEED by Mira Grant, since it has been sitting on my TBR pile for some time now.

I don't often read short stories, but I find that whenever I do, they are always spooky stories. I plan to step it up and read more short stories in the next two months. So I am joining in the Peril of the Short Story as a way to step outside my normal reading and plan to get some horror collections for my Kindle... any suggestions? 

Since I love love love scary movies, I will also be participating in Peril on the Screen. So far, I've seen the new movie The Possession and will review that soon on the blog and link up to R.I.P.

Last, I will be joining in both the September and the October group reads.  The Estella Society is hosting The Little Stranger by  Sarah Waters for the September Group Read. Since I am joining in late (and this is a bulkier read) I doubt I'll be ready for the discussion on the 10th, but I do plan to finish it along with the rest of the group on the 17th. For October, Carl is hosting the Group Read of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.

September Group Read:
Hosted by The Estella Society
Hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings

I am SUPER excited to join this two month stroll down Spooky Street! To join in the fun, head on over to Carl's introductory post and sign up!

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

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to the weekly Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jen over at Crazy-for-Books

This week, she asks yet another toughie:
What book series do you never want to see end?

I would've loved to see Harry Potter go on forever... but since I can't count on that, I will have to go with a comic series. I absolutely love The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman. The trade paperbacks are what I have read- they are a collection of the monthly comics that are published. I began reading The Walking Dead long before the TV show started... I really hope that the comic series continues and doesn't die out because of the show on AMC. The novels are excellent- graphic and scary and with amazing story lines.

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


Tortured mini review

“But what about Leon?”

Now, in this new story that bridges the gap between Birthmarked and Prized, Caragh M. O’Brien answers her readers’ most common question with a tale of suffering and determination from Leon’s perspective. Be warned. The story is a spoiler for the first book in the award-winning trilogy.

** Review may include story line spoilers for Book 1 in the Birthmarked Trilogy **
You can find my review of Birthmarked here

Caragh M. O'Brien has written an additional eBook for readers wondering what happened between Birthmarked and Prized. Tortured is a free eBook which provides readers with a little insight into the world of Leon after Gaia escapes the Enclave and leaves for the Wasteland.

Short and to the point, Tortured follows Leon's struggle in the Enclave. Gaia has left the Enclave in a tizzy- they are searching for her, the baby, and the records. Now, Tortured gives readers a glimpse into what happens after she leaves.

O'Brien dubbed this a "bridge story" story between Birthmarked and Prized. It is also being called "Birthmarked #1.5" in the trilogy. It is both of these things- it connects the dots for us after Birthmarked and leads nicely into Prized. It isn't a long book, and I can say that I was looking for a bit more. Tortured gave me answers but still left me wanting more. It brought up new questions which I hope will be answered in Prized.

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