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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Justice Buried



Title: Justice Buried
Author: Hilary Thompson
Release Date: January 15th 2014
Purchase: Amazon

Blurb:

The people need Justice, but she's not listening. One hundred years before, the Great Sickness reduced the world to three cities. Now the community of Asphodel is trapped underground, waiting for the prophesied maiden of Justice to return and save them from their Fates.

Sixteen-year-old Astrea is supposed to be this savior - too bad for them she isn't a believer. Trea fights against her false destiny: she rebels against her family and friends, then refuses her arranged marriage to the charming but deceitful Lexan. Learning her life is in danger, Trea is forced to trust Lexan - until she discovers a power she never knew she had, and one he already knew he did.

As betrayal closes every door, Trea decides she must submit to her stars and accept her fate. Then a handsome stranger offers her an unexpected escape and the chance to create her own destiny.

*Click here to go to the Goodreads page!*

My review:


★★★★

I have to say, this book was a very pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed the way that the author combined elements of myth and astrology to create a new world. The setting and the characters were well described, and it was easy to lose myself in the story telling. I thought it was really cool how fate came into play to tie characters together, and Thompson did a good job expanding and creating the more fantastical elements to this dystopian novel. I also really liked both of the love interests....

That's right. Both. There's a love triangle. It was exceptionally painful for me since I didn't hate either of them (normally I love one and hate the other with a passion). The character that irked me the most was in fact the lead heroine, Astrea. She came off as a lot of other girls do in literature: whiny and immature. It got better as the book went on, but it was definitely something that caught my attention while reading.

All in all, fans of romances (with love triangles) and dystopian young adults would be well advised to give Justice Buried. It has a unique setting with mythical elements that make it a book that's easy to get into. While it wasn't perfect, I would definitely pick up the next book to see how the saga continues. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author:


Hilary Thompson is an independently-published author who released her debut Young Adult novel, Justice Buried, in January, 2014. Justice Buried is the first in a dystopian fantasy series incorporating mythology and astrology, with the second full-length title due later in 2014.
She also teaches high school English, which gives her some insight into her target audience, and helps her maintain a thick skin.
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Be sure to follow the rest of the tour here!

Giveaway:


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Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: Fine Cooking Cakes & Cupcakes: 100 Best Ever Recipes


Title: Fine Cooking Cakes & Cupcakes: 100 Best Ever Recipes
Author: Fine Cooking
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: February 4th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Taunton Press

★★★★

Four stars.

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Fine Cooking Cakes & Cupcakes: 100 Best Ever Recipes is a collection of cake recipes that ensure that you won't ever have to use a boxed mix for cakes again. Whether you're looking for classic recipes or something new, there's a recipe in the 100+ contained within this cookbook that is sure to suit your needs.

I'm a huge fan of baking cakes, and I admit I get a bit snobby sometimes about it. When people call a boxed cake homemade, it grinds my gears, so to speak. This book makes sure that, for the most part, that temptation isn't there to go to the grocery store for a mix. I really liked that almost all of the recipes had pictures, though they were kind of small. I also really liked the tips on decoration, storage, and picking out fruits that were sprinkled throughout the book.

What I wasn't so crazy about was that the flavors were fairly basic and repetitive. There's a lot of chocolate/coffee combinations, for example. I was also kind of surprised that some of my favorite cakes that I thought were fairly common, weren't included, like red velvet cake and peanut butter cake.

However, the pros of this book far outweigh the cons. Out of one hundred recipes, there are only a few that I wasn't interested in trying. Plus, a few of the recipes come wit a blurb of variations on how you can better tailor the dessert to your own personal tastes. The instructions are easy to follow, and the ingredient list is fairly standard (from a US reader). Some of the recipes that I'm most excited to try include Strawberries and Corn Cream Layer Cake with White Chocolate Cap'n Crunch Crumbs, Chocolate Souffle Layer Cake with Mascarpone Cream and Raspberries, and Peaches & Cream Shortcakes. This is a book I'd love to keep on hand for any occasion. Thanks to Netgalley & Taunton Press for my copy of this book.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: Losing It: How We Popped Our Cherry Over the Last 80 Years


Title: Losing It: How We Popped Our Cherry Over the Last 80 Years
Author: Kate Monro
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 15th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Icon Books

★★★★

Three stars and a half stars, rounded up.

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Losing It: How We Popped Our Cherry Over the Last 80 Years is a nonfiction collection of stories of how people over the last eight decades have lost their virginities. Old and young, gay and straight, disabled and able alike, there is a vast array of stories that share the one moment of life that we all can refer to simply as "it."

This book is a very interesting look into the lives of other people. There's that moment when you lose your virginity that you wonder if your experience was how it is supposed to be. Questions run through your head: Was it supposed to hurt? If I didn't bleed, is it really "popping"? Does oral count? What if I didn't orgasm? Kate Munro's collection of firsthand accounts makes for a great comparison both between stories as well as to your personal "it" story. In short, you're not alone!

I found it fascinating just how similar and different, simultaneously, that these stories are. Some people lose it in the spur of romance, others are more planned. But so many of them share my own personal memories of awkwardness and emotional turmoil over what had just happened. Munro sprinkles in a fair amount of history and research, making the whole book come across as well put together and well thought out.

In fact, I was surprised how this book reads. To be honest, it was a little boring at times. I expected it to be more of an entertaining genre of read, but it ended up being more like a book you'd get assigned to read in a gender/sexuality studies course. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, I just wasn't expecting it to be written in such a way.

All in all, this book is a pretty interesting look into the moment we (almost) all go through but scarcely talk about aloud to more than a best friend or two. Losing It is a great reference for anyone who is interested in sexuality studies or in looking at how their experiences compare to others'.

Thanks to Netgalley and Icon Books for my copy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stacking the Shelves [45]



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week.

This week was a pretty calm one. I didn't get much reading done, because this weekend I have exactly four papers due. I have one down and out of the way... That's progress right? I even resisted getting more Netgalley titles for once!

In the Mail:
Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen Thanks Nora!
Never Say Never: Tips, Tricks, and Erotic Inspiration for Lovers by Alison Tyler Thanks Cleis Press!


I did get an Easter care package from my dad this week too.


Week at a Glance:


Mini Review: Designated Mourner
Review: My Paris Kitchen
Mini Review: Circus Escape

What'd you get?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mini Review: Designated Mourner


Title: Designated Mourner
Author: Catherine Owen
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 15th 2014
Source: Netgalley & ECW Press

★★★★

Four stars.

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This is going to be an incredibly hard book for me to try to review. Typically, I don't read poetry. Well, that's not entirely true. I don't read contemporary, new poetry. However, I was drawn into this collection first by the macabre cover, and then by the dark themes that it holds within it. It is definitely an emotionally charged book of poetry that will linger even when you are done reading it.

Designated Mourner is a collection of poems written to a spouse who was killed far too early by an addiction to drugs. The poems are dark and contemplative, reflective and sometimes even celebratory of their life. I don't want to say that I enjoyed reading them, because I feel that in a book of mourning, that is a bit too light of a word choice. I will say that I connected to them, having lost friends to addiction myself. My poetry of grief was never as powerful or gripping as these ones are.

If you are one who enjoys poetry or one who has recently lost a loved one, I think that Designated Mourner is a collection of poems that you should take your time mentally ingesting the words that Catherine Owen has so carefully penned. Allow yourself to take breaks when you need them and prepare to be stirred by them. Thank you to ECW Press and Netgalley for the chance to read this poetry collection.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: My Paris Kitchen


Title: My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories
Author: David Lebovitz
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 8th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Ten Speed Press

★★★★

Four stars.

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My Paris Kitchen is equal parts cookbook and personal experience about living and cooking in France. Admittedly, I was more interested in the recipes than the stories at first, but that quickly changed. The way that David Lebovitz writes both about French life and food makes his passion clear, and it made me want to get on a plane immediately to go visit some of these places for myself and to eat some of these tasty treats.

Thankfully, the recipes in this book make the last desire a reality. This book includes a ton of delicious sounding recipes, most of which I'm eager to try. Each recipe comes with a story and tips on how to create it to perfection. There are also a decent amount of pictures to entice you into giving these dishes a whirl. The collection of recipes is divided by course, so it's easy to find what recipe you're in need of most.

Some of the ingredients in these recipes can be kind of hard to find in a standard American store, but Lebovitz has already thought of that. He offers variations, or ingredients you can swap for others, to make a different but just as delicious meal from My Paris Kitchen. A few of the recipes that I'm most eager to try are the Cheese, Bacon, and Arugula Souffle, Parisian Gnocchi, and Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries.

This book is a great guide to French cuisine, and is one that I'd cook from often, having a love of all things French myself. Be advised though, that some of the techniques and recipes here are a bit complex, so if you're a total kitchen newbie, this might not be the best first step. But if you're no stranger to the kitchen, this is a book I'd definitely recommend both for the story weaving, and the recipes.

Thank you to Netgalley and Ten Speed Press for my chance to read this.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mini Review: Circus Escape


Title: Circus Escape
Author: Lilliana Rose
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 2nd 2014
Source: Netgalley & Less Than Three Press



One Star.

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This will be a short review, since Circus Escape is a novella. I was drawn in by the cover, and some of the key words in the description that I love. Steampunk, circus, lesbian themes? Sign me up. Unfortunately, this is a novella that leaves a lot to be desired, and I was left disappointed.

I never got a sense of... Anything, really. I didn't grow to know much about either of the main characters, let alone get a sense of the chemistry that is supposed to be between them. I didn't learn much about the setting or the era. I know that this is a short novella, so there's only so much space to describe such things, but I've seen others handled much better. I also didn't care much for the writing itself, it seemed overly simple and a bit choppy.

It's my understanding that this novella is the first in a series, but Circus Escape didn't satisfy me enough to be interested in continuing onward with the series. This might be one of the examples where it would have been better in a one piece book as opposed to a series. All in all, this one just wasn't for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Less Than Three Press for the chance to read this. I wanted to like it, I really did.