Friday, November 30, 2012

Review on Snow in Summer

I got this book on Black Friday. Originally another book from this author caught my eye, so much so that the reviews on the back of that one brought me to this one. I bought both books that day and have since become a fan of this author.

The blurb:
With her black hair, red lips, and lily-white skin, Summer is as beautiful as her father's garden. And her life in the mountains of West Virginia seems like a fairy tale; her parents sing and dance with her, Cousin Nancy dotes on her, and she is about to get a new baby brother.
But when the baby dies soon after he's born, taking Summer's mama with her, Summer's fairy-tale life turns grim. Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and a magical mirror into Summer's world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face, but Summer suspects she's up to no good. Is Summer powerless to stop her?
Master storyteller Jane Yolen crafts a brand-new Snow White tale filled with magic and intrigue, set during the early twentieth century in Appalachia, that will be hard to forget.
Age: 10 years and up
Review: 4 stars
This modern retelling of Snow White was a great mix of old and new. We start out with the girl, Snow-in-Summer Morton (yes, that's her real name). She is at her mother's and baby brother's funeral. Cousin Nancy is acting like her real parent, because her Papa is too absorbed in his grief to pay any attention to his only daughter. Throughout the book we watch her grow, from her being seven years old to her being thirteen (until the last chapter in which she's nineteen). She learns that things aren't what they seem, especially her Stepmama.
Cousin Nancy is basically her mother throughout this whole book. While her Papa is so focused on his grief, Cousin Nancy helps Summer grow and takes care of her and her Papa. I think Cousin Nancy is my favorite character in this whole book because she has suffered through a lot (including her own husband dying) but she still carries on and is brave for those around her.
I honestly really didn't like Lemuel Morton (Summer's Papa). Yes, a person should feel grief that their love has died, but not to the extent of practically forgetting that your daughter exists! It was as if he was a ghost throughout the whole book, and it took Summer almost dying for him to come to his senses.
The stepmother/witch was a nice change. Though yes, she was the evil witch, we got to see inside her head for a few chapters and got to see what motivated her, though we didn't understand it.
What through me off for a bit was when the point of view switched. The chapter was titled "[Name of character] remembers" when it was in their point of view, but during the first few times it happened I was confused as to why the voice sounded different. Once I got it, it made perfect sense, but it took a while.
Though we, as readers, know what happens (haven't we all read/watched Snow White?), the book was different enough that it had a fresh twist to it. It wasn't boring or redundant—it was new and sometimes I wasn't sure what was going to happen next.
The book is directed towards a much younger audience, which might be why I didn't get immediately sucked in, but I really did enjoy the book and recommend it to anyone who loves fairy tales, danger, adventure, and love of many kinds.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Review on Rooftops of Tehran

I got this book at my school during orientation. Everyone at orientation was allowed to pick a book from the choices they had, and a good friend of mine recommended this book for me. It isn't the typical genre I read, so I was dubious, but I got it anyway. Though this book is not the type of book that I read, I loved it so much and it taught me a lot.

Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji
The back (of the copy I have):
An unforgettable novel of young love and coming of age in a nation headed toward revolution.
In a middle-class neighborhood in Iran's sprawling capital city, seventeen-year-old Pasha Shahed spends his summer of 1973 on his rooftop with his best friend, Ahmed, joking around and talking about the future. Even as Pasha asks burning questions about life, he also wrestles with a crushing secret. He has fallen in love with his beautiful neighbor Zari, who has been betrothed since birth to another man. And despite Pasha's guilt-ridden feelings for her, over the long, hot days his tentative friendship with Zari deepens into a rich emotional bond.
But the bliss of those perfect stolen months is shattered in a single night, when Pasha unwittingly acts as a beacon for the Shah's secret police. The violent consequences awaken Pasha and his friends to the reality of living under the rule of a powerful despot, and lead Zari to make a shocking choice from which Pasha may never fully recover.
In a poignant, funny, eye-opening, and emotionally vivid debut novel, Mahbod Seraji lays bare the beauty and brutality infused in the centuries-old Persian culture, while reaffirming the human experiences we all share: laughter, tears, love, fear, and above all, hope.
This book is currently a stand-alone book.
Age: 14 years and up (there is quite a bit of swearing in this book)
Review: 5 stars
The blurb pretty much sums this whole book up. We have Pasha Shahed, who is a normal teenager like most people have been. He spends his summer on the rooftop and he's enjoying life. But one thing will change his life forever: love. Not only does Pasha's love with Zari have an impact on him, it has an impact on everyone around him. Pasha grows up and matures throughout the book—he's no longer blind to the things going around him. He loves deeply and truly, and he also cares a lot for the people around him. He has moments where he doubts the things he's been taught, his religion, and many things like that. That's what made this book so realistic. This book is truly a coming-of-age novel—and a really good one at that.
Zari, in my eyes, is brave as she is reckless. Her decision was an act that in order to commit it, one had to be brave. But she also had to pay for her actions, which affected other people besides her. I'm not sure if she thought that part through, but then she, in a way, opened other people's eyes to the things she say. I hold a lot of respect for Zari.
This book is powerful. Just as Zari's choice opened Pasha's eyes, it opened my eyes to a lot of the problems people around the world face and though some of them aren't in the USA, we should still know about them. Rooftops of Tehran brought out dozens of emotions. While reading this book, I cried. When I finished this book, I cried. The ending left me wanting for more—so much so that I emailed Mahbod Seraji (in December of 2010). I praised his book and asked him if there was to be a sequel. This is what he wrote:
"Since the book came out last year, I've had over 3,000 emails requesting a sequel.  So I'll probably do one sometime in the near future.  I'm kind of interested myself to see what happens to Pasha!"
I truly hope there is a sequel, but if there's not I'm content with how the book ended. It ended perfectly for a stand-alone book, but also for the book that has a sequel. Either way, this book is a great book that teaches great life lessons and is a heartwarming as well as heartbreaking story.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

FFT: Thanksgiving & Black Friday

Today in the US, people celebrate Thanksgiving. I know it's a bit late, but Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Thank you so much for reading this blog, I appreciate it!

I'm thankful for everything in my life because without it, I wouldn't be me. I'm also thankful for books and this blog, because without either of them, I wouldn't have you!

Also, Happy Black Friday! I know it's tomorrow, but I'll just mention it right now because tomorrow is going to be CRAZY.

I always go shopping on Black Friday, but we are always careful—and you should be too. Black Friday can be dangerous, so watch your backs.

Today I have two questions for you all:

1.) What are you thankful for?

2.) Are you going shopping on Black Friday? Why or why not?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review on The Siren

WARNING: This post and the links from it contain adult content. If you are under 18 years of age or if such content offends you, please EXIT now.
I won this book in a giveaway at TBQ's Book Palace and let me say, I wasn't sure I'd like it. This book is erotica, and I don't generally read erotica much except for a few authors. This book had be wondering why I don't read erotica and it was definitely an eye-opener!

The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
The blurb:
Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different—more serious, more personal—and she's sure it'll be her breakout book…if it ever sees the light of day.
Zachary Easton holds Nora's fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards—in six weeks—or it's no deal.
Nora's grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining…and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous—staying away from him…or returning to his bed?
Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.
This is a BDSM erotica and is book 1 of 4.
Age: 18 years and up
Review: 5 stars
This book. Where to start?
First, let's talk about Nora. Nora is... [almost] everything I want to be. She's strong, confident, and she doesn't take crap from people. She doesn't really care what people think of her unless they're important to her, and she has a huge heart. She also is very conflicted. The man she truly and deeply loves is someone she can't go back to, and another man she loves is married, and another man she loves is off-limits... Oy vey, I feel bad for poor Nora. Except she still manages to enjoy life and love. She's a Dominatrix at The 8th Circle and is what is called a "Switch," which means she can play both Domme and sub. Because of this, I glimpsed many sides to her, and that made me like her even more. No one likes a perfect character—and Nora is definitely not a perfect person. I could sympathize with Nora most of the time and that's what really made me like her.
Wesley lives with Nora and is a virgin. Now, this is a strange concept because Nora is an erotica writer and Domme extraordinaire—and yet the man she's living with is a 19-year-old virgin. Nora wants him, but he's off-limits because he is vanilla and she is...well, not.
Zach is Nora's very reluctant (at first) editor, and he becomes her lover for a short period of time. The fact that he's married and his wife kicked him out is what makes this so complex. Zach moved from England to the U.S. because he and his wife were drifting and she didn't stop him from moving—though he wanted her to.
And then there's Søren. He's the most complex character here (to me anyway). He's a Catholic priest who is a Dominant and Nora's ex-Dom. She's the only one that Søren's ever had sex with while being a priest and he is very into his faith. Now, this I had some troubles with because Søren is a priest. And by having sex, he is violating his vows. I had to come to terms with this before I could continue with the book. Knowing that Søren wanted to give up the priesthood for Nora did help make it better, but in the end I had to realize that there are actually people out there like him. What also helped was the explanations in the book and realizing that this is how he is. After all, he is choosing to follow his nature in a healthy way. He is doing it with people who are consensual and want this. He isn't raping anyone or beating unwilling people. He follows the code: Hurt, but do not harm. You can hurt physically, but not harm a person emotionally or internally. And there are always safe words. So what he's doing is immoral, because of his priesthood, but a better choice than most.
This book opened my eyes—big time. I come from a very strict and religious family and this book had me questioning myself, my values, and my faith. But in the end, I came to a realization: this is not wrong. BDSM is not wrong. It's just a lifestyle. Once I realized this, my whole point of view on the world tipped.
A book that can make you think and make you less ignorant is always a good book, in my opinion. This is that book for me.
This book is hardcore and very dark in some places, so it's definitely not for some people. I recommend this for people who are curious about the BDSM lifestyle and know a little about it or love this type of books. As a point of reference, I'll say this: If you've read Fifty Shades of Grey, this is much better. And darker.

Read Talk Supe's review as well as Book Savvy Babe's review, they're both good!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

FFT: Erotica

WARNING: This post contains adult content. If you are under 18 years of age or if such content offends you, please EXIT now.
So I recently started reading erotica and BDSM novels and I was shocked by the amount of people that scream at others for reading this genre. I mean, ok it might not be for everyone but one shouldn't judge! If you don't like it, don't read it but don't tell others not to just because you don't!

I enjoy erotica and some BDSM but I realize that it isn't for everyone. This doesn't mean that I go around telling people to read it or else. That would be wrong; people should read it because they want to read it. It should be the same the other way around. If someone is reading something you don't think they should be reading; then ignore it but don't yell at them.

Also, this week's review will be featuring a BDSM novel, so if you don't like those then don't read it, but please do not comment disrespectful things.

So, what do you think? Do you like erotica and/or BDSM novels? Why or why not? (No disrespectful comments or replies)


Friday, November 9, 2012

Review on The Two Princesses of Bamarre

My best friend suggested this book for me, and I read it because of her. But let me tell you, that's not the reason I enjoyed it. I will keep beating myself up for not reading the author's name on this book (or rather, not paying attention to it), otherwise I would never have put it off. Gail Carson Levine is on my auto-buy list. She is one of the few on there, since I don't generally take an author into account when I read a book. Okay, that's a lie, I do take them into account, but not enough to just buy it if it has their name on it, except for the few on my auto-buy list. Gail Carson Levine is the author of Ella Enchanted and Fairest, two of my favorite books. I am thrilled to be officially reviewing one of her books on my blog. So here we go!

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
The back:
Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other.
The tables are turned, however, when the Grey Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters' lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.
Age: 8 years and up
Rating: 5 stars
We start out with Princess Addie. She is meek and fearful. Her sister is the total opposite, she wants adventure and danger. I immediately side with Addie. I wouldn't be as fearful as her, but it seems Addie has more sense of reality. Meryl is more adventurous, but not aware of the dangers. Fortunately, Addie asks Meryl to put a hold on her adventures until Addie gets married (which obviously Addie intends on putting off for forever).
Once again, I am sucked in to the world Levine creates. It is amazing and full of magic and fairy-tale creatures.
I loved watching Addie grow. The whole book is in Addie's point of view, and watching her blossom from this shy shell to this brave flower made me so proud of her. Addie does so much, and she grew into herself because of the love she has for her sister.
As in all of Levine's books that I've read, there is love in this book (the romantic kind), but the focus of the book is the growth of the main character. Addie goes on this adventure to save her sister—and ends up saving the whole kingdom of Bamarre.
The ending surprised me the most. I did not see a twist coming, and it was interesting. I loved what Levine did, but it was a bit bittersweet. I was crying and smiling at the end of this book.
I absolutely loved this book. It had love, adventure, magic, fairies, ogres, dragons, specters, the list goes on and on. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves magic and love. And I also recommend you to read Ella Enchanted and Fairest, which are two absolutely amazing books.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

FFT: Celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving

 I realize a lot of people don't celebrate Christmas, but I do.

In fact, I am extremely Christmassy. I go all out: I put up decorations (there has to be at least one in every room) and I start playing Christmas songs as soon as Halloween is over.

Now, some people don't like others celebrating Christmas until after Thanksgiving, and I understand their reasoning. It's a holiday that should be celebrated and such.

But here's my reasoning:

Thanksgiving is a holiday only celebrated in the United States (at least in November). Christmas is a worldwide holiday. To me, the world trumps the United States.

Now, for those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, I'm sorry if I come on too strong. I am a very Christmassy-type person.

A question for those who do celebrate Christmas: Do you start putting up Christmas things/songs before Thanksgiving? Why or why not?

A question for those who don't celebrate Christmas: What do you celebrate? Do you get annoyed when other people start celebrating Christmas/other holidays before Thanksgiving?

And last but not least, a Christmas Countdown:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review on Defiance

Let me start off by saying that I didn't know if I wanted to read this book or not. I originally bought it because I really liked C.J. Redwine, and she was really great on Twitter. I bought this book with a mere glance at the blurb—and that's not like me. So when it arrived in the mail, I put off reading it for as long as I could. I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. But the cover was so beautiful, and I really suck at not giving in to books. So I opened it and was sucked in to a world unlike any other.
Defiance by C.J. Redwine

The blurb: 
Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.
At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.
As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.
This book is the first of a trilogy.
Age: 13 years and up
Review: 4.5 stars
It took me a few chapters to get into the story. But once I was sucked in, there was no coming back.
Rachel is a hard-headed girl who doesn't like others doing heroic things by themselves, but when it's her turn, she doesn't want help. Her motives are pure—she doesn't want them to get hurt on her account—but it's still a little hypocritical.
I adored Logan. He was my favorite character of the whole book. Though I could never calculate things or invent things or plan things like him, I loved that he could. I loved that he didn't rush in on pure adrenaline like our heroine.
However, I also understand Rachel's point of view. I, myself, do things on impulse most of the time. But though she realized that Logan was right and it was better to plan, she still never did anything to plan herself. She relied heavily on Logan's planning and forethought, and never sought to plan herself. She was driven by emotion—be it anger, love, fear, or hope.
Apart from these flaws, or maybe because of them, it made this book really realistic. After all, people are never perfect. I absolutely hated the Commander—and was with Rachel 99% of the time when it came to him.  
Seeing the story grow and evolve from both Rachel's and Logan's point of view really added more depth to the plot. I loved knowing what was happening inside both of their heads and hearts.
The world Redwine created was slightly historic, but it also included technology that's beyond our time. I loved how it had many obstacles and many intrinsic themes. And as a romantic, I loved the romance as well!
It was also realistic. Not every good person survived, so be warned. People died, and there were gore-y parts. There was blood and fighting and conflict. But it's part of what made this book so good!
I will be (impatiently) waiting for the sequel to come out, so I recommend this to anyone who seeks adventure, love, internal (as well as external) conflict, and strong-willed heroines and heroes.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

FFT: Design Change

What? The design's changed?

So a friend of mine commented that my site might seem a little too...girly.

I agreedAfter all, I am a girl. And I'm girly. Very girly.

But this friend told me that this is more likely to only attract women to my blog and not men. So, I changed it. Grudgingly. But I kept my girly blog titles!

But I have to admit: It looks good, in my opinion.

So a new design and a new month. Happy November!

So now I ask you: Do you like the design change? Or would you rather go back to the pink design? Any suggestions?