Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: The Forgotten Land

Title: The Forgotten Land - Liman Prince of Egypt
Author: Josephine Kelly
Format: Paperback, 284 pages
Pub. Date: May 15th 2013
Source: Author/Createspace


Four stars.

Liman once knew his destiny and his fate as a future ruler of Egypt. That is, until a great tragedy befalls his family. He's forced to flee from his land and collapses, knocking the recollections of his previous life away from his thoughts. He's raised to be a simple fisherman and is happy with his life, until one bitter girl sets the gears in motion for his epic journey that involves demons, sacred Scrolls, hellhounds, and a rightful place as leader of Egypt.


The Forgotten Land is written at a level that I would personally recommend for middle grade/junior high readers. Though there are scenes with mild violence in them, I feel that this is a great book to read aloud as a bed time story. Something about the writing, I'm not quite sure what, just makes the story feel like it should be spoken and shared aloud.

+This book is peppered with artwork that features the characters and creatures that star in this story, as they are mentioned. These serve as a great point of reference, since there are quite a lot of characters involved in this plot. My personal favorite illustration is the one that made the cover of the book, artwork featuring the title character, Liman.

-There are so many characters in this story line that I found it hard to follow at parts. Because there are so many different people and creatures, the book often jumps around in time and location to keep the reader up to date with all of their whereabouts. While it isn't a deal breaker, it did make reading the novel a bit more flustering.

+This book is detailed just enough that it conjures up images of hot deserts, blue seas, and the days of ancient Egypt, and yet conversely is sparse enough where middle grade readers won't be discouraged by long-winded passages of detail.

+I appreciate that non-English words in this book are italicized. It draws attention to the word/phrase and encourages curiosity towards the word's meaning, instead of making the broad assumption that the reader already is familiar with the word.

-There were a few grammatical mistakes throughout this novel that did get my attention, but they were few enough that they didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story too much.

The Forgotten Land is a great balance of original writing and Egyptian mythology. It draws the reader in from the beginning and holds them throughout the story. Though both genders are represented in this book, I recommend it more so for male readers. This is also a great story for readers with a previous interest in Egyptology.

Thank you to Sophie Melace & author Josephine Kelly for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves [13]

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


The Forbidden Heart by V.C. Andrews
Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering
Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
Uncharted by Tracey Garvis-Graves (Review found here.)
Bound by Night by Larissa Ione
The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, Kimberly Kincaid
Pomegranates & Pine Nuts by Bethany Kehdy
Ordeal by Linda Lovelace, Mike McGrady
Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl by Emily Pohl-Weary
Six Women of Salem by Marilynne K. Roach
Lick (Stage Dive #1) by Kylie Scott

Won [ebooks]:

Forever Winter by Amber Daulton (Review found here.)
Love Crazed by Sharon Kleve
Beautiful Bitch by Christina Lauren
The Christmas Present by Serena Zane

For review:

Codename: Chimera by J.K. Persy

In the Mail:

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves (I got a signed copy from the author. Squeeee)[Review found here.]
Call of the Jersey Devil by Aurelio Voltaire


Night Embrace by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Kiss of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I also got a really cute little ring dish from a blog hop. Whew. What about you?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mini Review: Forever Winter

Title: Forever Winter
Author: Amber Daulton
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: March 26th 2013
Source: Amber Daulton


Four stars.

Susanna Lorican wanted nothing more than to finally marry the love of her life, one Viscount Camden Beckinworth. Only, nature and fate don't seem to be on her side. With the winter snow piling up, everything seems to be put on pause, from the arrival of her guests and dress to the courtyard that she'd initially wanted to utilize. The obstacles just keep coming, but come hell or high water, their love will persevere and the wedding will take place, if Susanna has anything to say about it!


Overall, this was a well paced short story about love and dedication. The writing was fluid and well described, and in the sweltering heat of Illinois in July, it made me miss the chilly winter season. (I know that others can't stand the snow, but winter is my favorite time of year.) I normally don't fancy historical fiction, but thought the characters seemed likable enough and I have to admire Susanna's tenacity. I probably would have just delayed the wedding after the first or second snag in the plans.

Thank you to author Amber Daulton for my copy of this novella.

Review: Uncharted

Title: Uncharted (On the Island #1.5)
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: July 2nd 2013
Source: Netgalley & Penguin Group


Five stars.

Owen Sparks is fed up with his way of life. Sure, his business is doing well. But he's become tired of people always asking him for money as though he's entitled. The fast world of business and finance has taken its toll on him, and he just wants to get away from it all. And so, he does. To an uncharted island in the Maldives, where it's just him and the elements, and life is good. While on the mainland for supplies, however, his world gets turned around when the beautiful Calia comes into the picture, along with her brother. Love, heartbreak, and complications are all just around the corner, and his decisions ultimately affect two crashed passengers from Chicago. He comes to their door, to share his story....


This novella is the perfect answer to the question that I know I asked: "So what did happen after On the Island was over?" The beautiful imagery and descriptions that Tracey Garvis-Graves used in On the Island continues to enchant in Uncharted. The reader revisits landmarks and locations from the island with different eyes, and gives a whole new perspective from a person who voluntarily and happily lived on the island that meant nothing but death and sadness to TJ and Anna.

The author has a great way of balancing her steamy romance scenes with class. The scenes are never crass or vulgar, just lovely and flowing with the rest of the plot. The characters are all well written and described, and (much like TJ and Anna) you cannot help but to become attached to them.

This book is told from Owen's perspective for most of the story, although TJ and Anna do have a few chapters in between. I am completely satisfied with this ending to a great romance, and liked learning the back story of a few of the island's features (such as the shed).

While I do think that fans of On the Island will enjoy this bonus read, I do have to stress that you need to read On the Island first. It may make sense to a degree, but I promise you that you'll appreciate it more if you read TJ and Anna's story first.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group for my copy of this book.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday [8]

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is:

Top ten words/topics that make me not pick up a book

Keep in mind that I am open minded to 99% of books. There are few phrases that make me avoid a book altogether. These words or phrases on my list make me hesitant to read. Keep that in mind. So. Here we go:

1. Homophobic

On both a moral and a GLBT level, I will not read books that are anti-gay. Obviously, books on bullying and things like that don't count, but I'm not going to read a book full of why I'm going to hell.

2. Zombies

I've yet to read a zombie book that I really enjoyed. I sincerely hope that one day I will be able to take this off of my list.

3. Crime/Murder

I love the occasional crime thriller, but most of them, in my humble opinion, are easily guessed or totally confusing. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example, I loved.

4. Rock/Movie stars

This whole "falling in love with a rockstar" thing is becoming completely played out for me. I'm honestly just tired of reading them. I'm sure once the trend dies down, I'll find them enjoyable again.

5. Aliens

Same with zombies- I just haven't read any alien books that I enjoy. Someone recommend me a great one, and we'll see.

6. Babies

I'm not a mom. I don't want to be a mom. I respect those who are or want to be, but books centering around children and new moms and diapers and- no. Pass for me, please.


There are always exceptions, of course. But in my personal history of life, insta-love isn't accurate. Crushes, lust, attraction- sure. But this whole he is the only one that my soul will ever need type mentality is definitely a red flag for me.

8. Slut Shaming

There's nothing wrong with having sex, and who these characters have sex with is no one else's damn concern. And if it's nonfiction works doing it? Don't get me started.

9. Dukes/Duchesses/Lords/Royals

I like historical fiction/romance novels well enough, but these type of royal/upper class books tend to not tickle my fancy.

10. Excessive Violence

This isn't on here because of moral reasons. I'm not one of those "oh my gosh, no, violence is wrong!" people. I just find fight sequences often hard to follow, and they usually hinder my opinion of a book more than they help.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: White Trash Beautiful

Title: White Trash Beautiful (White Trash Trilogy #1)
Author: Teresa Mummert
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: July 9th 2013
Source: Netgalley & Gallery Books


Four stars.

Cass has all but given up on her dreams. Her life is far from perfect. Her boyfriend Jax is emotionally and verbally abusive, and his higher than a kite more often than not. Her daddy walked out when when she was little, and her mom has filled the void with the same drug cocktail that Jax has. Cass's life is fragmented, but she clings to the sliver of hope that things will go back to the way they were before drugs. But her minimum wage life is shaken when she meets the beautiful, kind, protective Tucker- the lead singer of a band. She doesn't want to leave Jax, even though she knows it's not healthy, but she can't quite leave the glimpse of normalcy that she finds in Tucker's arms...


It was really hard for me to rate this book, with an argument in my head going between a three and a four. Ultimately, it was the lead heroine, Cass, that made me bump it up to a four.

+This book is very gritty and real and dare I say realistic, keeping in mind the well-worn fantasy of falling in love with a rock star. The drug use and abuse in this book are heartbreaking and vivid, and it gives the text of this novel a haunting and ominous undertone that sticks with the pages until the very end. I feel, as someone who has been around such relationships, that this is a fairly accurate portrayal of behavior; the mood swings, the lies, the acts they don't remember when they sober up.

+I have to say that I didn't like Cass at first, but she definitely grew on me. I think she's a believable balance of strong and weak. People who don't know the stress and fear and emotional attachment that comes with abuse can tell others to walk away, to just leave. But it's not that easy, and Cass is proof of that. She had bursts of strength that were very brave, and weak points that made her relatable and having flaws.

+-Tucker on the other hand gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand, he is protective and generous. But he too has mood swings that make him seem like kind of a douche bag at times. The author no doubt had Adam Levine in mind when she wrote Tucker into life (I caught four Maroon 5 references without trying). Part of me says that this shows a lack of creativity.... But the other part of me is in love with Adam Levine and sees nothing wrong with it.

-The only real issue that I had with this book is that the plot, at parts, got a bit soap opera-esque and melodramatic. The drama was well written, but some of the "twists" made me say "Really?" aloud. It didn't ruin my reading experience, but it did affect it.

I enjoyed this book enough that I am excited to learn that this is a trilogy. I want to know more about what happens with Cass, and I can't wait to read the next installment. If themes like violence, drugs, or sex offend you, then this book is not your cup of tea.

Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Books for my copy.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Format: Hardcover, First Edition, 316 pages
Pub. Date: January 10th 2012
Source: Christi the Teen Librarian blog


Five stars.


I'm going to deviate from my normal review format when reflecting upon this book. I feel that this novel is more deserving of a mess of plus marks and minus signs, of pros and cons. This review will be half of my opinion, and probably more directed towards the fictional characters of the story, and less towards the nonfictional people who read my thoughts on books. For that, I am sorry that I am not sorry.

If teenage Hazel is anything, it is that she is no stranger to thinking about life and death, though namely the latter. She has lungs that do not know how to be lungs, and though a new medicine is lessening her suffering, she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. It is at her cancer support group that she meets Augustus Waters, a cancer-free survivor with a prosthetic leg and an interesting take on the world around him.

Hazel and Augustus are the most beautiful couple that I have ever read about. Keeping in the theme of the title of this story, it is the faults of these characters that make them so intriguing, relatable, and completely unforgettable.

Every word, from Hazel's internal thoughts to the pair's dialogue and everything in between is smartly and stunningly written. Each word is no doubt strategically placed by one John Green to make this book flow with undertones of love, haunting, and a strange metaphysical feeling that made me personally feel both like the universe is leaps and bounds bigger than myself and that I am nothing more than a speck in an infinity of lives lived.... But at the same time felt a sense of this life is what you make it, and so you must live today all that you can. Who knows if tomorrow will be your Last Good Day?

Augustus is a boy that I would have felt privileged to know. He shares a lot of similarities with other book leads- sweet, funny, likable. But there's something more to that. He had this intellectual wit and view point that made him seem both quirky and wise beyond his seventeen years of life. He was strong, and romantic (even if it wasn't so subtle). And the extent to which that he loved Hazel is awe-inspiring and heartbreaking simultaneously.

And then there is Hazel. Her thoughts seem so rational and sensible to the point that they at times seem cold. I like that her thoughts follow this darkened pattern with bursts of bright optimism and worth. Both characters just loved each other so harshly and so fully, it consumed everyone around them. Strangers, family, friends- everyone could see just how much the pair cared for one another, and it was lovely. I can't help but to think of an Edgar Allan Poe quote to describe them: "But we loved with a love that was more than love."

I am pretty sure that I felt every possible emotion during the course of this novel. I admittedly cried more than once. I got the warm fuzzy "aw" feeling that one sees when two old people are holding hands, or when a puppy and a kitten are curled up together in a box. I felt inexplicably happy and laughed, I grew sad and I mourned. I cheered characters on, cursed others, grew angry, frustrated, and confused with their actions.

Now that I have finished reading, I just have this weird sense of.... Well. I am acutely aware of the fact that I am alive. I can feel my pulse in my neck, I am hypersensitive to the breeze wafting towards me from the vent. I just.... Feel.

I must state here, since this is a review, that I am very blessed and fortunate enough to not know anyone who is suffering with cancer. I do have to specify, using Hazel's words, that this book is a cancer book, not a "cancer book"- there is so much else going on. Because I can not relate to the level of illness and stress in this book, I must say that if you do know someone, this book may be all the more meaningful and heartbreaking to you.

I feel that this is a book that deserves to be read by everyone and anyone who is able to read, and those who cannot should make someone read it to them aloud. Five is the highest number of stars that I can allot, and I assure you that I have found no fault in them.

Thank you to the Christi the Teen Librarian blog for my signed copy of this book.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Stacking the Shelves [12]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to gab on about the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. Things have finally simmered down, and my mailbox is no longer stuffed. Phew!

Amazon Freebies:

Heart You by Rene Folsom
Breaking His Rules by Sue Lyndon
Big Girls Do It Better by Jasinda Wilder


Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner
VampCon by Armand Inezian
To Sin with a Viking (Forbidden Vikings #1) by Michelle Willingham


New Orleans Con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking by Zella Palmer Cuadra

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mini Review: Down Among the Gods

Title: Down Among the Gods: A Novel
Author: Kate Thompson
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: July 16th 2013
Source: Netgalley and Open Road Media


Three stars.

Down Among the Gods is a novel that follows the romance of forty year old Jessie and journalist Patrick. Both souls are lonely and searching, until they meet at a class. It's told from the story of the Greek Immortal messenger Hermes, a "modern" look at romance and emotions involved with starting over in a relationship.


In short, I just found that this book was boring. I like the concept- the book is narrated by Hermes and is peppered with myths and legends surrounding the Greek gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. I didn't really find any faults with this story, it just was too "chick-lit" for my liking. The writing was detailed but slow moving, the myths oversimplified but interesting. This book was perfectly adequate to read once, but it won't be long before I forget about this title. There's nothing that will make this book stand out to me.

I think that fans of chick literature, and women who are in an older age range than myself will appreciate this a lot more than I did. I cannot stress enough that this book simply was not my cup of tea. Do not let my rating hinder you. I sincerely hope that you enjoy it more than I could.

Thanks to Netgalley and Open Road Integrated Media for my copy of this book.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday [7]

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is:

Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

The following authors are in no particular order, but all deserve more props & recognition for their writing.

First up is Marie Hall. She does a great job of creating new worlds, characters with depth and personality, and adult scenes that come across as steamy and not smutty. Everyone should go read the first book in her Kingdom series, Her Mad Hatter, which at this time is free on Amazon here.

Next we have Andrea Lynn Colt, whose book Torched was a clean, young adult whodunnit that had me guessing right up until the very end. She created a nerdy, gorgeous book boyfriend of mine that more readers should get to experience.

Tabitha Suzuma is arguably best known for her novel Forbidden, due to the amount of taboo that circles the romantic couple about whom the story is about- a brother and sister. Her books are beautifully written and driven with passion and emotion. Though she is in fact a known author, I think she deserves to be a household name.

Helen Landalf's novel Flyaway is a haunting, gritty, emotional read that I definitely savored upon reading. Why this hasn't been read more often, I haven't a clue, but it's worth reading and is a book that will stick with you after its been finished.

Oh my gosh, Miss Candace Jane Kringle. This girl is hilarious. North Pole High is a funny and sweet holiday feel good read that is admittedly a bit silly, but helped to get me in the holiday mood. Featuring talking animals, mischievous elves, and Santa's little girl, this is a hilarious find. She's just as funny and sweet outside of the book- I love talking with her!

Carol Rifka Brunt is another author whose beautiful, emotional prose deserves more credit and recognition. Tell the Wolves I'm Home was my favorite 2012 read, and it had me emotionally invested in the story in just a few pages. This is another story that will stay with you long after you've read it. A book with LGBT themes, this is not to be missed.

Mingmei Yip is a Chinese author that I've only had the pleasure of reading once, but it was enough to make a lasting impression. She writes prose that is so beautiful that it could be poetry. She uses fine details that immerse the reader in the world that she sets the novel in, and she deserves more recognition for even just that skill.

Nora Olsen stands out to me because she took a very trendy book genre right now, dystopian, and added her own LGBT twist to it. In my opinion, there needs to be more books like this out there.

Emma Michaels has a great talent for writing, and it shows in her book Owlet. The whole book has a magical, dream-like tone to it, and that made this writing stand out to me.

And finally, I come to my final pick: Kimberly Krey. She not only creates unique story lines but characters that are likable and complex, and in the case of one Calvin Knight, ridiculously sexy and charming. Plus, Kimberly is a total sweetheart and I love when authors are friendly and approachable.

Review: Seasons of the Sacred Earth

Title: Seasons of the Sacred Earth: Following the Old Ways on an Enchanted Homestead
Author: Cliff Seruntine
Format: egalley edition
Pub. Date: August 8th 2013
Source: Netgalley and Llewellyn Publications


Five stars.

Seasons of the Sacred Earth: Following the Old Ways on an Enchanted Homestead follows a year of life for the Seruntine family as they live close to their natural roots in Nova Scotia. They live their lives in a manner that is harmonious with nature, taking only what they need and in return cultivating and protecting the forests and lands that surround their secluded home. Part spiritual guidebook, part cookbook, and part campfire-like storytelling, Seasons of the Sacred Earth gives great insight into a life that most of us don't get to live, and often forget about.


I loved this book. Cliff Seruntine writes with such beauty and detail that the reader can easily recognize the pure passion of nature and its spirits about which he speaks. I quickly became mesmerized by the landscapes and way of life that he narrated. Indeed, this book is nonfiction, but between the Celtic, Cajun, and Norse stories (among others) that are flawlessly woven throughout this book, the entire narrative has this magical tone to it that is hard to describe.

This book has a lot of components that work together to make this a unique piece of literature. First and foremost, this book tells about a natural, rural way of life. Cliff Seruntine describes the jobs and tasks that he and his family perform in order to keep the homestead afloat, as well as stories that happen in the surrounding woods, family memories, and animal tales from the critters on the land. Two things are certain in this book: the family's respect, adoration, and understanding of Nature and its spirits, and the family's love and strength of each other.

Then too, this book serves as a how-to guide and cookbook. From how to start an herb garden to how to properly make cheese, practical and helpful advice pepper this book. I know for sure that I'll be trying a few recipes provided in this book.

And then, there's the rich storytelling. Cliff Seruntine does a great job of mixing myths and legends from different belief systems/geographic locations, and tells them in such a fashion that one who is unfamiliar with them will understand. A very, very important part of this story telling that I appreciated is the emphasis on non-English words. If a word was in a different language, the author provided a definition, explanation, and a proper pronunciation along with it.

Throughout this novel, pictures accompany the text, giving more insight into the life that the author so vividly describes.

All in all, this book made me want to get back to my natural roots. It reminded me how much we as a society take for granted, and how little we give back. In all honesty, I found myself wanting to visit this homestead so that I could see this enchanted-sounding wood, drink some homemade cider, and eat tasty cheese hand made from their goats.

Written in a way that's comparable to Farley Mowat, Seasons of the Sacred Earth is a book that many pagans would love to have on their shelf, as well as naturalists and those with a high respect for nature.

Thank you to Netgalley and Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. for my copy.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Stacking the Shelves [11]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to gab on about the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. I am so sorry to my regular readers for the lack of reviews lately. However, I am officially back from vacation- so that means far more distractions, and time to get back to work. I came back to a massive pile of books and goodies waiting for me. Of course, I got approved for a few new ones too. So, let's get cracking!

For Review:

Vampsov 1938 by Daniel Ribot
The Forgotten Land - Liman Prince of Egypt by Josephine Kelly


Dance For Me by Helena Newbury
Vulture by Rhiannon Paille (Signed!)


A Year in Food and Beer: Recipes and Beer Pairings for Every Season by Emily Baime, Darin Michaels
Together in Cyn by Jennifer Kacey
My Lady Quicksilver by Bec McMaster
Not Quite the Classics by Colin Mochrie
Over the Rainbow by Brian Rowe
Taste of Home Recipes Across America: 735 of the Best Recipes from Across the Nation by Taste of Home
Down Among the Gods by Kate Thompson
Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi


Oddities and Entities by Roland Allnach (Signed!)
Remnant by Roland Allnach (Signed!)
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
Fall of Night by Rachel Caine (Signed!)
Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck (Signed!)
The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
Passion and Pain by Kathy Petrakis
Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards (Signed!)
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (Signed!)
The Keep (The Watchers #4)by Veronica Wolff