Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Title: The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars #1)
Author: Frank Beddor
Format: Hardcover, 364 pages
Pub. Date: September 26th 2006
Source: Borrowed from Emily


3.5 stars, rounded up.

Alyss' life in Wonderland has become something of a joke to the people of our world. Having told her story to a seemingly sympathetic ear, a friend of hers named Lewis Carroll. Only, he turns her heartbreaking past into nonsensical mockery- he even had the audacity to misspell her name! But a puddle and looking glass away, the queen's most loyal guard Hatter and the rest of the White Imagination know that Alyss truly does exist, and that she must come home and take her place on the throne and defeat the evil Redd, who has taken Wonderland by force. But Alyss can't remember what's in her head and what's reality. Will her imagination be enough to save the land she loves from utter destruction?


3.5 stars, rounded up.

This book was definitely different. It's not something I'd normally pick up, but I am glad that I gave it a chance after my girlfriend recommended it to me.

+This is a really interesting.... Well, not retelling. More like a re-imagining of the tale we all know and love, Alice in Wonderland. The author combines the classic story with a bit of sci-fi, war, and even some dystopian motifs to make Wonderland a place that Disney definitely didn't dream up.

+I loved the Big Brother type elements of this story. The evil queen, Redd, forces her henchmen to change the history books full of her own genius (?) quotes and narratives. There are billboards all over the place that bear her face, a constant reminder of who is truly in charge. There are spies lurking everywhere, and layer upon layer of deceit and false loyalties.

+The Cheshire cat in this story isn't one that you'd want curled up by your feet at night. He's an assassin with sharp claws and nine lives. Good luck trying to take out all of them. He is stealthy and strong, and makes for a helluva villain.

+- This book has a lot of fight scenes in it. A lot. It makes sense, seeing that this is a story about a war versus good and evil. But, my regular followers know that I really don't follow fight scenes well. It's of no fault of the author, just my own personal hang up.

-I don't feel like a lot of the characters were narrated in depth. There are a large range of characters which are easy to separate from one another, but I feel like not enough time was paid to the "main" characters. I wanted to like Hatter (I mean, his top hat is a weapon. How cool is that?) But I didn't learn much about him. Even Alyss seemed kind of glossed over in order to talk about the broader story.

-Time is a wibbly wobbly motif in the classic tale. This book uses it as well, but in a slightly awkward way. In the course of a few paragraphs, five years pass, then 12. The increments were odd and quick, and it made the "chase" of Alyss seem rushed, and the battles seem (unnecessarily)longer.

-As girly as this sounds, I really missed the romance element. It's there for a while and then fizzles out. It frustrated me a bit, admittedly.

This isn't your mother's Alice in Wonderland. This is a Wonderland for the video game generation- full of ass kicking characters, imaginative weaponry, and trained killers. If you prefer your Alice in Wonderland full of singing flowers and cute little mome raths (like me), this might not be for you. If you want your dormice fried, your top hats full of knives, and your playing card soldiers armed to the teeth, check out this series.

Over all, I felt that the unique perspective on this tale outweighed the issues that I had with the story. I will be checking out the other books that follow, but with no sense of urgency. I'd like to see if the characters grow more complex, and if the romance picks back up.

Thanks to Emily for letting me borrow this.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Forbidden Boy by Hailey Abbott

Title: Forbidden Boy
Author: Hailey Abbott
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Pub. Date: April 22nd 2008
Source: Cover2Cover blog

One star.

It's summer, and Julianne has some serious plans for fun and relaxation. She's going to try and ignore the tensions at home.... Mansions are being put up each and every day, and the owners are trying to bully the family into selling their home to be part of another vast expansion that they don't need. Their newest neighbors are especially pushy, but who needs them? She's got her projects, and her beach, and summer is calling her name. That is until she meets this dreamy boy, Remi. She's so excited and smitten, but there's one problem- Remi is the son of their bullying neighbors. What's a girl to do, and what's the cost of the perfect summer romance?


I don't really know where to begin, but I'm going to try and keep this short and professional. Even though I'm raging on the inside and want to rant for the rest of my review.

-The relationship Julianne has with her sister in this story is ludicrous. Who are all of these authors that think that sisters are either absolute best friends or sworn enemies? There is a middle ground, you know. Her sister tries to get her to make out with boys in order to relive stress, and Julianna doesn't find this at all strange or intrusive. Ew. Maybe it's just me, but if my sister was like that, I'd probably flip her off and walk away, not grab a beer and have a giggle fest.

-All of the conversations in this book sound forced and fake. The slang between characters is awful, like something in a Saturday Night Live skit. I never bought into the realism that this realistic fiction eluded to, and preferred the plot when no one was talking.

-The title of this book is Forbidden Boy. That would lead the reader to assume that a boy is, well. Forbidden. I enjoy this type of romance. Take the book [book:Forbidden|7600924], where the lovers in question are brother and sister. Or even Romeo and Juliet, which also involved feuding neighbors. Only, they'd die. That makes their love a bit more forbidden. Just a smidge. This has cranky neighbors. There's nothing forbidden about him. Frowned upon, perhaps. But this isn't at all my definition of "forbidden."

-Instant love. That magical moment when everything in the universe aligns and a boy and a girl, in the most hormone filled time of their life, know that everything will be perfect with that other person. Sigh.

+The cover is pretty. I give it that.

All in all I found this to be a bad attempt at a quick beach/summer read. Maybe I'm just getting old or maybe it's because I'm not a "prep", but I didn't care much for this at all. I'd recommend it for maybe the younger end of young adult. If you read true forbidden romance, or are any kind of alternative stereotype (goth, punk, what have you), I would skip this.

Thank you to Cover2Cover blog for my copy.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

This Week...

In the Bitches 'n Prose dormitory, I received quite a bit of mail. I always get a gush of fangirling excitement when my email alert sounds, telling me a package has come for me into the mail room. I never know what it is. Is it a book? Is it some swag? Is it the shirt I left at home, and my mom's sending it back to me? I love the anticipation, and this week came with a pretty good haul.

Borrowed (from Emily):

The Wolf Gift- Anne Rice
The Vampire Genevieve by Jack Yeovil


Makai Queen by Tara Fairfield
Torched by Andrea Lynn Colt
Swag from Suzanne Lazear
Swag from Legacy of the Clockwork Key

Gifted (from Lisa):

Matched by Ally Condie (review can be found here.

Keep an eye out for more reviews this week, and have a great week!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Owlet by Emma Michaels

Title: Owlet (Society of Feathers #1)
Author: Emma Michaels
Format: ebook, 138 pages
Pub. Date: October 13th 2012
Source: Tribute Books


A solid four stars.

Iris never really gets to see the outside world. An asthmatic plagued with memory loss, she dreams of being free. Specifically, she dreams of flying to an island with white feathers that fall like snow. This dream world is so familiar, and yet so far away. When she is sent to this island, and she learns that it's real, the world around her rapidly changes as the lies that her family told her come to light. She must learn for herself what her soul truly is, and make the ultimate decision: continuously flee so that she may stay safe or rise to be the leader that the Eyrie knows she can be.


This book has a lullaby like, dreamy tone about it for the length of the novel. The words are airy and light but laced with the ominous darkness of an oncoming storm cloud. This is a new take on the paranormal, and I loved it.

+What this book really reminded me of (in some respects) is Alice in Wonderland. A girl with fair hair who views the world just a bit differently than everyone around her. She remembers a place that she's convinced is fictional, and has a general air of naivety and innocence about her. It is this whimsical type story that initially drew me in.

+Another strong point that this work has going for it is simple: The heroine isn't perfect. I have read countless stories in which the protagonist female is everything that is good in the world. Or, she has some plot shattering secret that always works out in the end. In Owlet, the lead character Iris has asthma. This simple condition made her seem more human, more relatable. It's nice to see characters that aren't unrealistically put on a pedestal that no one on Earth could possibly reach.

+The language in this book is beautiful. I want to live on the Sand Dollar. The island sounds so beautiful, so lively and full of the most exotic flowers and scents. I want to see Iris' little house with the feather door knob and the view of the dangerous waters that surround it. Emma Michaels successfully whisked me away to this bridgeless island- in an Illinois winter, it sounds like a paradise.

-One thing that did irk me about the language used in the dialogue, however, was the lack of contractions. I understand that these are often omitted to make the writing more formal and to stretch the length/word count. But at times, the proper speech made the characters seem a bit robotic.

+What really made me love this book is the avian theme. There is a group of people called the Stryx, who have human bodies, but their souls are half bird. A strange concept, every soul has a different bird half. Owlets are wise, Ravens are destructive. These unique characteristics of personality blended with the birds came out as a beautiful fantasy humanoids. Plus, on the island there are tons of birds that live there. The fairy tales consist of birds, and everyone's pet names are birds.... I think I relate to this on a personal level because my girlfriend has a slew of nicknames for me and most of them are bird-related. I loved this motif.

+Iris and Falcon are the cutest thing since..... Well not sliced bread. That's not cute.... How about, the cutest thing since frosted cupcakes? Because of her memory loss, she doesn't remember him. But he is so unbelievably loyal, loving and protective of her. Because she's frail (due to her illness combined with her unknown true self), his protection means that much more. I want them to be happy and live on the island forever and the fact that there's still more books in this series terrifies me because I suspect the drama is yet to come.

+This book is filled with poems and songs that help add to the song-like flow of the book. These stories are beautiful on their own, and I sincerely hope that the author intends to make a companion book including more of these types of interludes, giving them their own due.

+I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but just look at it. The font is elegant, the coloring is enchanting. It was part of what drew me to the story initially, and would catch my attention on a bookstore shelf.

It's true that in Owlet, not all of the questions that are raised are answered. I have faith that since this is in fact a series, answers will come in time. I have added the next book, Eyrie, to my TBR list, and I eagerly await it. I recommend this book for YA fans, those with quirky bird obsessions like I have, and readers looking for a new type of fantasy (there's no vampires, werewolves, or zombies in this baby).

A few of my favorite quotes from this story are:

"Leaders are not born; they are made in the difficult moments when others turn their backs. Love is what makes a true leader, not command."(Location 417)

"My heart started to dream in color.
I may be blind but he showed me the beauty the world had to offer;
By giving me one breath of his life at a time.
(Location 1384)

A special thanks to Tribute Books for sending me my copy of Owlet.


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Friday, March 22, 2013

The Life Tree by Nicholas A. McGirr- Review + Interview

Happy Friday, bloggers! I'm happier than normal today. Why is that? Well, for one, my class was cancelled, so my weekend started early. But more importantly, I have my first author interview here on Bitches 'n Prose.

Nicholas A. McGirr, author of the new novella The Life Tree, is here to answer a few of my questions. He was gracious enough to send me a copy of this story, and I have to admit that it was pretty trippy.

Well, first, let me say thank you so much for agreeing to stop by Bitches 'n Prose!

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

I don't think there was ever that moment I said "I think I'll write a book today!" but writing has always been a hobby. I play percussion instruments as well, and during "garage band" days of high school, I was always writing songs.

You talk of Muses in this new novella, The Life Tree. Is there a muse in your life that inspires you?

Of course, my wife and daughters always inspire me, but music in all forms (even the Muses) has always inspired me.

I've heard of authors that need to be listening to a certain band or drinking a specific kind of tea while they write to channel creativity. Are there any methods or quirks that you have while you're writing?

Honestly, I'm not sure. Ideas usually just hit me. I will say that as most everyone goes through phases of what they listen to, so do I. For The Life Tree, I've been listening to Epica and E.S. Posthumus quite a bit.

The Life Tree deals with what kind of life comes after death. Do you have a belief in a life after the one here on Earth?

Perhaps that is the quest of my work. Readers will often find an afterlife theme to my work. I've always been fascinated starting with Rice's vampires as a teenager. Life after death is the big mystery, whether or not I'll find a firm belief may someday come out in a nonfiction work.

This novella is a new release. Are there any other new writing projects that you're working on?

I've been working on Book Two: Book of Joel for over 4 years. I'm hoping to release it later this year. It's the sequel to The Growing Dim Project and stars Joel Ucid, jazz radio station owner. Now that I've found a steady editor, I'm sure the progress will roll right along. The cover for this work can be found on

Mythology is a common theme throughout a few of your works. Do you have a favorite myth?

There's not a "favorite" per say, more of the fact that a religion turned into a magical fiction intrigues me. The beliefs of mythology are usually one to interpret one of life's mysteries and comes with a story of origin for a piece of nature. I love the idea of many gods ruling the skies and battling over emotions of humanity.

Is there anything else that you want me to include on this post, or anything else you'd like to say?

The Life Tree will be exclusive to kindle owners. I'd also like to give credit to Barbara Florczyk for the awesome cover art and to Craig Marks for editing The Life Tree.

I do have to say, the cover is really pretty. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for me!

Now onto the review!

Title: The Life Tree
Author: Nicholas A. McGirr
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: April 1, 2013
Source: Nicholas A. McGirr


Four Stars.

There isn't hell around, but there isn't heaven. What is it like to be everywhere all at once, and yet to be rooted nowhere? There is only me, and even then, am I truly here? Such is the tone and ideas that are brought to light in the new novella, The Life Tree.


+The author does a really good job in handling the lucidity of the narrator. Though a lot of images were conjured up within these few pages, I didn't find any to be rushed or confusing. Though transitions were often quick, it was easy to follow along and coast along with the character through the vacant space of everything and nothing.

+I felt that this short story gave a pretty interesting viewpoint into the afterlife. The first place that people go to, generally speaking, is that you go to float with the angels in heaven, or get probed by demons in hell. But this idea of a "Life Tree" arouses interest, in that it is a special kind of purgatory where those who commit the ultimate sin are neither rewarded or punished. It's almost like a more metaphysical form of limbo.

+This ebook edition of The Life Tree also includes a further explanation of life trees, as well as the prologue and the first chapter of The Growing Dim Project, the first book in the Crossman McKnight series. Plus, if that isn't enough, an excerpt from Nicholas A. McGirr's book Life of Death.

The Life Tree is a short novella by Nicholas A. McGirr that is set to release on April 1st of this year. Though it is a fast read, it isn't one to be overlooked. This will attract those who are already fans of his work, and fans who just don't know it yet. If this is your first taste of his work, be sure not to skimp on the bonus material!

Also, be sure to check out his other work, including the anticipated sequel to The Growing Dim Project. Click the picture for the Goodreads page!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched (Matched #1)
Author: Ally Condie
Format: Paperback, 369 pages
Pub. Date: September 20th 2011
Source: Gift


Five amazing stars.

All her life, Cassia has been waiting to be Matched to the man that the Society states will be her perfect mate. She's never questioned the Society's choices, and is elated when she is Matched with her best friend, Xander.... But something goes wrong. Another boy's face is shown on screen. The face of another boy she knows, Ky. The Society tells her that it is only a glitch- but the Society is never wrong. The more that Cassia wonders what life could be like with Ky, the more things seem to be out of place, seem to not add up. The "perfect" life around her is changing, and she must decide where she stands, risking her life and her love as she does so.


Why did I wait so long? I've been meaning to read this for ages, and I only just got around to it. This needed to have been in my life sooner.

+The first positive is the cover. I know that a good cover doesn't make a good story, but I'm not ashamed to admit that's what initially aroused my interest in the book. It's gorgeous and shiny and I kind of want a poster of it for my room. Do those exist? It also perfectly sums up the story, even in its simplicity.

+Being a bibliophile, I love that literature/poetry is a prominent motif throughout the story. I understood Cassia's fuel for learning language and words, even if they were forbidden. On a personal note, I'm currently in college to become an archivist. I very heavily related to her father, whose job it is to sort out old books and historical artifacts and help decide what stays, and what gets burned, lost forever. It pained me to even think about such losses to the world, and scares me because it's possible.

+And on that note, the potential realism of this dystopian setting definitely helped to make it a more enjoyable read. Books about government control aren't new. However, this book helps to set apart its government from other works by mixing the elements extremely futuristic technology (ports, scribes, data tags) with old school, almost ancient ways of thinking, such as marrying who is best for the people and learning only one craft and nothing more than you need to know. As cool as the Matching is, it is also terrifying, and I wouldn't want to live in The Society, that's for damn sure.

+This book is well detailed. I feel like I could draw a map of her neighborhood and the city, and the buildings and landmarks within it. The setting isn't the only thing that's well described. The characters are written well enough that I felt like I personally knew them. This added to the reading experience as well, since I felt personally attached to the people involved. It gave me things to hope for, to cheer for, and to mourn.

-The only real flaw that I have for this book is that sometimes flashbacks and the present are muddled together. More than once I had to double back a few lines and see what time I was reading. This wasn't a major snag for me, but I feel it is worth noting.

This book has been bumped up to my favorites list. I think that fans of The Hunger Games, Uglies, and Beta will enjoy this book, as well as young adult romance fans. Though I've been behind on this bandwagon, I cannot wait to get started on the second book! Thank you to Lisa for my copy :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Evie's Knight by Kimberly Krey

Title: Evie's Knight
Author: Kimberly Krey
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: September 11th 2012
Source: Amazon


4 solid stars.

Evie has a bit of a sad life, and it appears to be on a downward spiral. Her mom is gone, her and her dad are both sad with out her, and now her best friend in the world has started hanging out with a party girl, knowing that Evie isn't into that scene at all. But her world changes when she officially meets Calvin Knight, a boy in her art class. Their worlds collide in a way that no one expected, unleashing a curse on the Knight men- the women they will love will be taken away from them. Calvin fears for Evie's life. He must decide whether or not he can beat the Raven haired ghost and save his love.... Or lose Evie forever.


I have to say, I loved this book way more than I expected. It took a different turn than I thought, making this story one that I will remember.

+Calvin. Calvin earns three stars on his own. I love him. He will be the newest member of my fictional boyfriends list. He is soft spoken, but protective and aggressive when he needs to be. He's caring, thoughtful, and sexily bilingual. I don't know how Evie resisted the urge to surrender herself to him. I was sexually frustrated for her.

+I really liked the uniqueness of the paranormal aspects of this book. Calvin and his brother, Parker, develop powers to help beat the ghost. This gave the story more of a superhero type feeling, as opposed to the witchcraft like powers that I was expecting. I also liked that they struggled with their powers. There was no instant satisfaction and mastery of their talents.

+I appreciated the cleanliness of Evie's Knight. I'm not shy or prude in anyway, and enjoy more.... Colorful novels now and then. I liked that this book portrayed romance without an abundance of sex. It made it seem more realistic, and yes, I am saying that about a book where they have to hunt a ghost.

+Calvin. Did I mention that?

+- There were quite a bit of fight scenes. It is my own personal hangup- I get bored and confused during them. They seemed well written, so I'm not marking this as positive or negative. It's just my own issue of trying to picture a fist fight in my head... It doesn't usually go well.

+-The Loft is the training ground for Parker and Calvin. I'm still not sure how to feel. Calvin can decorate it however he wishes, using his art skills and his mind. Upon the first description of this place, I got a really weird image of the old music video for Take on Me from the 80's, and it disturbed me. But later he used it to create a really romantic space that sounded lovely. My opinion is torn on this part.

-There were some odd time jumps in this book. A new chapter would start and it would be a month later. The author always made a point to announce that fact, but it still gave an otherwise smooth plot line a bit of a rough edge.

Evie's Knight is a clean paranormal romance that has a lack of both vampires and werewolves. I found the lead male to be amazingly attractive, the action easy to get sucked into, and the natural settings of the Utah area gorgeous. If Twilight, Jumper, The Covenant, and a Mexican soap opera had a baby, it would be this story. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, then give this book a shot. If paranormal isn't your thing, then this isn't for you. This book gets a solid four stars. Some of my favorite quotes were:

"People come and goe, Eve. It's part of life. You have to live yours so it doesn't revolve around someone else. So that your happiness isn't dependent upon them, their actions, or even their love." - Calvin, page 197

"'It took finding you,' he said, 'to realize what it's like when your heart is so... Captured by the one you love- that it's no longer your own.'"- Calvin, page 282

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Adventures of Radisson by Martin Fournier

Title: The Adventures of Radisson: Hell Never Burns
Author: Martin Fournier
Format: Paperback, 220 pages
Pub. Date: November 1st 2012
Source: Jean Booknerd blog


3 stars.

15-year-old Parisian, Pierre-Esprit Radisson makes his journey in 1651 to the village of Trois-Rivières on the St. Lawrence River, in modern day Canada. A top shot among his peers, and even those older than he, he is eager to go out fighting with the men against the stealthy, enemy tribe of the Iroquois people. When those he was looking forward to fighting alongside him leave him behind in the dead of the night, he's rightfully left bitter. While hunting to blow off some steam with his friends, he is kidnapped by the Iroquois tribe and taken away from his home. Along the way of his entrapment, Radisson will learn that some traits; love and loyalty, transcend race or tribe, and that everyone has something to teach and to learn.


Admittedly, this isn't the usual book I'd reach for in a bookstore or library. However, when I got the chance to review this novel I took it, since my girlfriend has a bit of an obsession with things to do with Native American populations. After reading this story however, I'll just pass it off to her and hope that maybe it speaks more to her than it did to me.

-I didn't really enjoy the narration of this story. The sentences often felt choppy and awkward, and it reduced the flow of the overall plot line. Often times I had to double check to see if a new sentence had in fact started, or if it was a weirdly formed half-sentence. It's true that grammar isn't the key to a good story, but in this case, it definitely chipped away at the grand scheme of things.

-+ I'm not sure if this next point is positive or negative, so I'll mark it as both. It was very oddly detailed. In some ways, that's a good thing. The natural, peaceful scene settings of the Canadian landscape were gorgeous. I'd want to explore the rivers and forests too if I were Radisson. However, some important things- like the deaths of characters- were grossly simplified. It sometimes came off just as "oh. Yeah. They're dead now," which disconnected me a bit from what was going on.

+ That being said, I do think that this book gives off a generally positive message. You can't really judge an entire group of people because their beliefs are different from yours, and sometimes even though lifestyles are lived differently, traits and commonalities can be found among populations. As hippie-ish as it sounds, we can all just get along if we learn from one another.

Now that I'm off that little preachy soap box, I'll sum my views up. This rating was extremely difficult for me, and should only be taken as a guideline. Because this kind of book isn't my "thing", as it were, I do not feel that I can properly judge it. I didn't care for it, but you may. I recommend it for those with any interest in Native Americans or history, especially boys. As awful as it sounds (gender roles, stereotypes, blah blah), this is a "boy book" to me, and explains my limited enjoyment. So, don't go by me and see for yourself. I hope you enjoy it more than me, sincerely.

Thank you to Jean Booknerd blog for my copy.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What's in the Mail? #1

Bought: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Won: The Adventures of Radisson by Martin Fournier, Entice by Jessica Shirvington

Borrowed: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor