Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: The Geneva Decision

Title: The Geneva Decision (Pia Sabel #1)
Author: Seeley James
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: December 1st 2012
Source: Author


Four Stars


The Geneva Decision follows protagonist Pia Sabel and her transition from professional soccer player to a key player in her father's private security company. When she witnesses a murder, she's on the prowl. Mistaken for a spoiled rich girl, her opponents have another thing coming: her sharp wit, killer instincts, and athletic prowess make her one hell of a threat.

I have to say, I really liked the character Pia Sabel. She was headstrong, sometimes to the point of frustration. She holds her own and proves that girls can play just as hard as the boys. I like that she was given a bit of unique insight as a professional athlete- it added a nice component as to why she's quite the bad ass.

This book had scarcely a dull moment. There's a lot of nonstop action that make the reader follow the story from exotic locales like Cameroon and European places like Switzerland. The twists and turns and sequences of suspense engross the reader for sure, and the settings only add to the charm. Seeley James does a great job of describing the surroundings, making it easy to become involved with the chases.

The prose was a bit choppy in places, but it wasn't enough to hinder my reading too much. The plot and dialogue made up for it, in my humble opinion.

I also really like the cover. I know that's not how you should judge a book, but it would look snazzy on a display or a shelf. Don't you think?

I'd recommend this book to people who enjoy strong female lead characters, mystery, thrillers, or crime novels. Thank you so much to the author who gave me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: And We Stay

Title: And We Stay
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: January 28th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Delacorte Press


Four and a half stars, rounded up.


Emily Beam is a girl who has a lot of soul-searching to do. Her boyfriend Paul threatened her at gunpoint in their school library, before turning it on himself and ending his life. In order to help her cope with the life that is unraveling around her, Emily is sent to a private boarding school in the hometown of fellow poet Emily Dickinson- Amherst, Massachusetts. Writing her poetry helps her figure things out, but the boarding school comes with its own set of both challenges and inspirations that she must encounter, harnessing her inner Dickinson.

This book is one of the few that I feel that I will read over and over again. It is written in both verse and prose, and Jenny Hubbard blends the two in an expert manner.

First, let's talk about the verse. Set in the 90s, protagonist Emily Beam uses her poetry and writing to express what she's going through in the months after Paul's death. The chapters in this book are divided up by Emily's poems. More than just a nice reprieve from the prose of the story, these poems were beautiful. My personal favorite was "Absinthe", and I would like a copy to hang on my wall, if we're being honest. In addition to the character's poetry, we are also given snippets and poems by her spirit-poet, Emily Dickinson. As a fan of hers in the first place, this was nice to include as well.

And then there's the prose. The gorgeous, gorgeous prose. I will tell you one thing: Jenny Hubbard knows her way around the English language. Her writing is incredibly poetic and almost dreamy. Though the entire novel has an air of sadness and grief about it, Hubbard manages to detail the settings and events in her story quite vividly. It was enough to suck me in, and I read it in one go. This book is written in both third person past tense, and third person present tense, depending on if it's narrating Emily's former experiences at her school, or her current ones in Amherst. This is the only real flaw I had with the book- I dislike present tense. It's nothing personal against Hubbard, she did it well. It's just a personal preference. Otherwise, Hubbard strums up a wide variety of emotions in this one little book. I felt periods of monumental sadness, more fleeting moments of happiness or intrigue or surprise. My feelings got a work out, for sure.

It's true that I connected to this book because I consider myself a writer of poetry, but the main reason why I found this novel so inexplicably enchanting is the fact that I attended school in Amherst. More specifically, UMass. I had to walk past Emily Dickinson's house on my way into town to get mail or coffee, or even school books. So when Emily Beam visits, or walks past, or stops for a smoke on the bench across the street, I feel like I am there with her, because I have been. I used to go for late night smokes, same as her. And when I did, I also found myself near to Emily Dickinson's house. Emily Beam is a character that I connect strongly with, and it made a world of difference.

And one final topic- look at that cover. Just look at it. Stunning.

And We Stay is a book that I have no doubt I will need to buy to put a physical copy on my shelf. I recommend it to fans of poetry, or those who prefer their young adult books to address gritty, adult topics like suicide and abortion. If you don't enjoy poetry: YOU WILL NOT ENJOY THIS BOOK. Thank you so much to Netgalley and Delacorte Press for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves [36]

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.

This week has moved in slow motion. Latin is already kicking my ass, and it's been so cold I've mostly just been sleeping. But, I did get some reading done. So, little victories.


Mayim's Vegan Table: More than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours by Mayim Bialik, Jay Gordon
The Homesick Texan's Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours by Lisa Fain
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes


Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare

Week at a Glance:

Review of Lord of Snow and Ice
Review of Never Have I Ever

Review: Never Have I Ever

Title: Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date
Author: Katie Heaney
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: January 14th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Grand Central Publishing


Five stars.


Never Have I Ever is the non-fiction tale of Katie Heaney that narrates her romantic life thus far- or rather, her lack there of. Humorous, honest, and more than a little sassy, Katie shares her ups and downs with dating, and shows an inside look at what a life of being single can be like. Come get acquainted with the boys she's mooned over from afar, the ones she almost kinda dated, and the friends and families who simply ask "Why don't you get a boyfriend?"

I'm going to be perfectly honest. What first drew my eye to this title was the cover. Look at it. It's adorable. It's pretty and I want to display it on my bookshelf. Upon reading the blurb, being a fellow inactive dater, I thought I'd have to check this out to see what others like me had to say. I was not disappointed.

The difference (well, the main one) between Katie and myself is that I am in a relationship- but it was one that was a long time coming. I didn't date much in high school or junior high. There were a few guys around, but they weren't very.... Dating-y? I know that's not a word. But there were no dates, no prom, no family introductions. My current relationship is the first of that kind. So, though I am committed, I related heavily to what this author had to say. Preach it, girl.

I love the amount of sarcasm, awkwardness, and sass that went into this book. Heaney's voice is genuine, whether she's telling a funny story or reflecting on a sadder point. We have very similar tones and senses of humor. So much so, in fact, that I read my girlfriend a few quotes, and she asked me if I wasn't entirely sure that I was the one writing this book. And there were a lot of quotes that I read. This book is pretty much all quotable. If that's not a sign of an enjoyable story, I don't know what is.

I also appreciated that though she has opinions, and makes no secret of them, that she remained relatively unbiased in her assessments. For example, there are a few chapters that narrate her experiences in online dating- something of which she's not overly fond. I braced myself for the worst of it, since I've met people this way and I know that a few rotten apples have spoiled the bunch, so to speak. But her experiences were so god damn accurate. This was the mood for the whole book, really. There were so many moments when I vocally (to the concern of Emily) said "You go girl!" or "Preach it!" or "Hell yeah Jonathan Taylor Thomas is fine!" Some books make you shriek about 90's stars and Lisa Frank diaries. This is one of them.

I feel like any female (or male for that matter) who has ever been down on their luck in love, whether it was for a few years or a lifetime, will relate to Katie and the life that she's penned down. This is the kind of book you should read with a glass or seven of wine, feet up, and one of those green face scrub mask things on your face. (Is that really what girls do? I thought 'come up with a girl's night in image', and that's what came up...) Long story short: it's funny, sweet, and an interesting look into what the dating scene means to those of us to whom men and women do not gravitate. Read it.

Thank you to Netgalley & Grand Central Publishing for the chance to read this, and to Katie for sharing her story with the rest of us. I need to find a physical copy of this, that's for sure.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Lord of Snow and Ice

Title: Lord of Snow and Ice
Author: Heather Massey
Format: ebook, 251 pages
Pub. Date: October 1st 2013
Source: Author


Three and a half stars, rounded up.

Lord of Snow and Ice is a retelling of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. This is a romance that features magic, snow, kingdoms, and a relationship that should not be.

First of all, I have to say that I love the cover. It's simple but pretty, and I think it does well to capture the essence of the story line.

One thing that really impressed me about the story Lord of Snow and Ice is the descriptive writing in regards to both the setting as well as the characters. I very much felt that I was "there", and was easily able to visualize the places and the people that the author wanted me to see. Being someone that loves winter in the first place, I really liked all of the snowy language and that aspect of the setting. This is a place that I enjoyed visiting, so to speak. The story did drag on a bit at times, but it maintained my interest throughout.

The key part of this story that made me disconnect from it overall, is the characters. While well described, I didn't particularly like the main character, Clarysa. I can't really pinpoint why, but I was just often annoyed by her and her actions. She did come into herself a bit as the story progressed, which made it a bit better.

Overall this is an interesting take on the story of Beauty and the Beast that is worth reading just for the setting descriptions alone. Fans of retellings and romance take note, those who find naive characters or fairy tales a deal breaker, look elsewhere. Thanks, Heather, for my copy of this!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stacking the Shelves [35]

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.

This week has been sooooo long. It's the first week of the second semester, and as it turns out, I've forgotten most of my Latin over Christmas break. Plus, my professor is out of his mind if he thinks I'm paying $100 for a Shakespeare book. But, it's nice to be back in the swing of things, and I had some presents waiting at my dorm for me!


Riverfinger Women by Elana Dykewomon (pic courtesy of Netgalley)
Grim by Christine Johnson
Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen by Leela Punyaratabandhu
International Steampunk Fashions by Victoriana Lady Lisa

From the Author/Publisher:

Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel by Mitzi Szereto (Thank you, Cleis Press)
Dark Secret Love: A Story of Submission by Alison Tyler (Thank you, Cleis Press)
Blood Brothers by Jody Zimmerman (Signed. Thank you, Jody)


Discovery by Brina Courtney (Thank you Mark My Words)
Restless Spirit: An Erotic Novel by Sommer Marsden (Thank you BookHounds)
Murder in Death's Door County by Elizabeth Rose (Signed. Thank you Elizabeth & Deal Sharing Aunt)

What about you?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: 4 to 16 Characters

Title: 4 to 16 Characters
Author: Kelly Hourihan
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: November 6th 2013
Source: Netgalley & Lemon Sherbet Press


Two stars.

4 to 16 Characters is a book that follows teenager Jane as her life sinks into a dark place. Her mother has passed away and her dad's hit the bottle to cope, and Jane isn't all too sure what to do with it. She hates life, hates school, hates people in general. The one thing she doesn't hate? The internet and fanfiction. She escapes into the world of fake profiles on the internet, pretending to be someone she's not to deal with it all. She struggles with this as she makes a "real life" friend, and she has to learn how best to take care of her problems.

I really like the concept of this book. This book isn't written in standard prose, but in the form of emails, blog posts, and other forms of modern social media. I also liked the idea of a main character that toys around with false identities online. I practically live on my computer, and I know this is a thing that occurs more often than most think. However, there was one main disconnect for me that made me not enjoy this book: the main character.

Connecting to a character is something that's extremely important to me and my reading experience. And while I can relate to Jane in some regards, I largely just couldn't stand her. I understand that the point of her "catfish" tendencies on the internet are to help her cope with stressful real life events. I don't blame her. I became addicted to the internet after my parents' divorce for similar reasons (though with no fake profiles). But I found her brooding and hatred for, well, everything, to be over the top. I found myself thinking, "Okay, I get it, you're unhappy". I didn't think her writing was very good for being a fanfiction author. I understand a lot of this is "written" online, but it was irritating to read her private dialogue with herself.

Unlike Jane, I don't dabble in writing fanfiction. However, I do post in online role-playing forums. So, I am familiar with the online hierarchies among users- how some are royalty and others running jokes. I thought that bit was fairly well represented. There are some people that you never want to upset, and others that you want to befriend so you can be in the inner circle. I immediately thought of a few people when Jane mentioned this construct. However, because I am in a different corner of the web so to speak, I was kind of lost at parts. She mentions writing a "drabble"- something I had to look up. I've never heard a short writing referred to as this in my communities, nor had my girlfriend. The book assumes you have a working knowledge of how it all works when I honestly don't.

There were quite a few things I liked about this book individually, but when brought together it just wasn't the book for me. I think that if you are in the fanfiction area of the internet, you may like it more than I did. Thanks to Netgalley and Lemon Sherbet Press for my review copy.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Psycho Inside Me

Title: Psycho Inside Me
Author: Bonnie R. Paulson
Release Date: November 30 2013
Publisher: Captiva Publishing
Purchase: Amazon


I killed my first victim at thirteen years old – my age, not his. He was going to rape me, him and a couple of his friends. And so, I killed him. And then… I killed again. And again.
At seventeen, I’m killing four to six times a year – maybe more. Don’t stress out. I only go after the pedophiles and rapists. There are more out there than I could cover in a lifetime.
Saying I did this on my own would be selfish. Enforcing justice holds a glory all its own. But now, my lifelong friend and backup, Deegan, has been arrested. I have to decide if I want to give myself up and take his place or leave him with all the damning evidence. I don’t want to stop killing. But if I let him take the fall, I can’t kill anymore. And I need to keep doing that.
But the worst part of it all? I love him.

*Click here to go to the Goodreads page!*

My review:


Three stars.

Being a fan of the show Dexter, when I saw that Psycho Inside me was about a teenage girl who killed those who "deserve" it, I couldn't resist taking the chance to read it for myself.

First of all, the cover is gorgeous. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its artwork but... Look at it. I'd definitely pick this up off a shelf if I saw it. Wouldn't you?

And then of course there's the story itself, which held my attention from the beginning. There's a creepy feel to this book, in the best way possible, that lets the reader wonder what lurch forward the book is going to take next. It's also a pretty quick, short read that spans through a large chunk of time (ages 13-17). I also related to the main character, despite the fact that she's a killer. I was hooked onto her story, and kept wanting to know what happened next.

This book contains adult themes like murder and rape, and young readers should be aware of that. Despite the book having such serious themes take place, I found that the speech and writing at times felt a bit juvenile. I'm not really sure who the best age group for this book is.

That being said, I enjoyed this read, and I'd definitely check it out if you're a fan of thriller and murder with a sprinkling of teen angst and romance.

About the Author:

There are people who know a lot about a little, we’ll call them experts. Then there are people, like Bonnie, who don’t specialize, but rather gather information like pebbles in their pockets and drop them like Hansel & Gretel in the stories they write.
The question is, do you want to follow them back?
Certified as a Radiologic Technologist, Bonnie prefers a touch of medical in her storylines. Don’t be surprised if romance somehow runs through a hospital or comes in contact with a paramedic. It’s just how she rolls. And you know there's nothing more romantic than an 18 gauge needle poking your vein!
She and her Hubs delight in dirt biking, snowboarding, fishing, cooking, eating, spending time together and more with their adorable children.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Be sure to follow the rest of the tour here!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Interview & Review: The Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp

Hello my lovely followers. I hope your week is off too a good start. To my school age friends- I hope that you had a great break and that school isn't starting out too rough for you! Today I get to present to you an interview with Laurel Osterkamp, author of The Holdout. She was nice enough to answer a few of my questions, so be sure to give her a kind thank you! Now, on with the post!


The Holdout's main story involves a Survivor-like reality show. Do you watch reality shows on television? Which one is your favorite?

I love Survivor! I started watching it in its first season and was hooked. However, after several years of watching it I did start to lose interest, but I got back into it when my eight-year-old son and I realized we enjoy watching it together.

The season of The Holdout featured in this novel is set in the Philippines. Did you have to do any research on the food (for the eating challenge) and location?

My research consisted of watching the food challenge from last spring’s Survivor several times. I took notes and tried to imagine what it would be like to eat that stuff. It was definitely one of the scenes that I most enjoyed writing.

Once Robin is back stateside, she has to go to jury duty. Luckily for me, I've gotten out of both of my summons thanks to going to school far away. Have you ever had to sit through this, and were you as happy as Robin was to be there?

I confess – I am a huge a geek who actually WANTED jury duty. I love lawyer shows, like The Good Wife, and I thought it would be fun to be a part of the legal process. And once I was actually put on the jury my head was swimming with ideas for things to write about. I finally settled on what later became The Holdout, so being put on that jury was a great thing for me.

If you were going to a mystery location for this game show, what would be the ONE thing that you would NEED to pack?

A water bottle. I drink more water than anyone I know. It would probably become an issue with the other contestants, like they’d start resenting me for how much of the water I drink.

Everyone has their price (as Robin knows). What would be the one reward challenge prize that would make you try and win at all costs?

That’s tough. But I can’t imagine being without good food for so long. So I expect I’d be a sucker for anything that involves sugar or pizza.

If movie executives knocked on your door right now, who would you cast in the film version of The Holdout?

It’s sort of embarrassing how much thought I’ve already put into this! Okay…
Robin – Anna Torv (from the TV show Fringe)
Nick – Max Greenfield (I saw him on Veronica Mars and I guess he’s now on New Girl.)
Grant – Josh Bowman (from Revenge)
Jack – John Krasinski (from The Office)
Henry – Seth Green
Klemi – Hayden Panettiere (but she’d have to dye her hair)

I've heard of some writers that need to have a favorite pen or to be drinking a certain kind of pop while they write to channel creativity. Are there any methods or quirks that you have while you're writing?

All I need is my iTunes and for my children to be napping or playing by themselves on a Saturday afternoon.

You're really angry or are having a really rough day: what's the one thing that can always cheer you up?

A good book! Right now I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and while it’s certainly not a peppy type of story, the writing is so amazing that it can bring me out of any bad mood.

In the book, Robin has a talent for making and repurposing clothing. Is this a talent that you also share?

No, but I certainly wish it was. However, like Robin I majored in theater when I was in college, so I know enough about sewing from working in the costume shop that I felt I could competently write about it. Plus, I love clothes, so I just thought it would be a fun subject to throw in.

Do you currently have any writing projects in the works? (If so) Can we hear a little about it?

Thanks for asking! I am always working on monthly posts for Lucy’s blog (Lucy, who was also in The Holdout, has a couple of her own books as well,) which is

I also am working on a couple of things that I hope to publish soon. One, American Angst, is a group of short stories that will feature both Lucy and Robin and continue their story. The other is a full-length novel called The Fallout, and it will pick up several months after The Holdout ends. This time the focus will be on secrets, lies, and community theater.

I'm really excited to know there's a follow-up book coming. Thanks so much for talking with me. Now, for my review.


Title: The Holdout
Author: Laurel Osterkamp
Format: Ebook
Pub. Date: September 12th 2013
Source: Laurel Osterkamp


Four stars.

The Holdout is a book that follows leading lady Robin as she gets cast on a Survivor-like game show- The Holdout. The prize is a million dollars, and she has a decent shot at winning.... Until she falls for a guy named Grant in the tribe who lied, charmed, and schmoozed his way through the game, and she fell for it. In front of millions of viewers. She discovers during the after math, with the help of her dysfunctional family and her jury duty summons, who exactly she is, how strong she is, and how to love and trust after what she's been through.

Being a fan of the game show Survivor (and other reality/game shows that I'm less likely to admit to) as well as romance books, when Laurel Osterkamp reached out to me for a review, I couldn't say no. And, I'm very glad I didn't.

Robin is a really refreshing character. Rare these days are the "strong female" in my opinion, but I loved the way that Robin learned and eventually grew into her strengths. I liked that even though she was played like a fool on television, she never came off as whiny or helpless. She stood her own, and it intrigued me to see where she would end up.

The time lapse of this book was well timed. It's set on the game show, which is about 40 days long, and also jumps to Robin's life after the game. I didn't feel that it dragged out, and the transitions were smooth. Once in a while I'd get lost for a second, but it wasn't enough to cause any issues while I was reading it.

I also felt really attached to the characters in this book. I loved some, hated some, and questioned a couple too. As for Grant? I don't blame her for acting the way she did, I'm just saying. Both on and off the show, there is a bright, diverse cast of characters that make for an interesting read.

If you're a fan of reality television, romance, or girls who can stand on their own two feet, then I definitely recommend The Holdout. Thanks to author Laurel Osterkamp for my chance to read this!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Ham: Slices of a Life

Title: Ham: Slices of a Life: Essays and Stories
Author: Sam Harris
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: January 14th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Gallery Books


Three stars.

Ham: Slices of a Life: Essays and Stories is a collection of short stories and anecdotes from theater performer and Star Search winner Sam Harris. A gay man who grew up in the Christian south with a flair for performing for a crowd, these stories give an insight into his personal life, and life behind the curtain.

When I saw this title on Netgalley, I was immediately interested. Being LGBT and a fan of theater, I thought I'd connect to the story. Plus, the blurb compared the author to the likes of Chelsea Handler and David Sedaris, both of whom I'd read before and found hilarious. Unfortunately, this book was okay, but not the book for me.

First, it should be noted that these essays can and should be read independently. They're not in a sequential order, and it's easier to get into the book once you realize that.

I think there's a few things that add up here to show that I'm just not the right target audience for this book. For one, there's an age gap. While I'm old enough to know a good portion of people who were talked about or referenced, others were kind of lost on me. Another thing is that this book gave a look behind the scenes in the role of a performer. It's true that I'm a fan of theater, but as an observer and not a performer. I feel that performers are more likely to connect with Sam Harris's stories.

And though this book did make me think, grow sad, and sometimes smile, I just didn't find it all that funny. I got swindled by the blurb. This book was amusing, but didn't make me laugh out loud, as the comparative comedic writers mentioned did.

This isn't a badly written book, and it's an interesting look at show business and the lives of those involved in it. I'm sure that a lot of people will really enjoy it. But not every book is made for every person, and I'm an example of that this time. Plus, I think the cover is adorable, and it will grab people's attention on a bookshelf. Regardless, thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Books for my chance to read this.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review: Twigs by Alison Ashley Formento

Title: Twigs
Author: by Alison Ashley Formento
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Pub. Date: September 18th 2013
Source: Goodreads First Reads

One star.

Twigs is a small girl with a big load of problems. Her mother is starting to date again, her father walked out on the family, and her little sister is focused on the dating and games that come along with high school. Things only intensify when a crazy woman comes into her work, and things get worse from there when she gets the news that her older brother is missing in Iraq. Twigs has to put herself to the test to keep it all together and to fight for what's important to her.


I wanted to like this book. I did. I was excited to receive it from the Goodreads First Reads program. However the title character, Twigs, made this nearly impossible for me to do so.

One of the things that turns me off of a book the fastest is slut-shaming, and it was clearly a theme in this book. Twigs makes all sorts of snap judgments about women, including her sister and mother, because they have men in their lives. I found this especially irritating in regards to her mother, who is actually dating Lou. Not sleeping around, not having wild orgies in the living room. Dating. Bitter much?

And while we're on the topic of her mom and Lou, Twigs comes off as an extremely rude character. She calls him Deaf Lou. Creatively, this is because he's deaf. Is that really necessary? Would she have called him Fat Lou or Lazy Eye Lou? It's disrespectful and really shows off her true colors, in my opinion.

Another reason why I found Twigs rude and unlikable is because she down talks her college. She goes to a community college that is a lot of students' last resort. We have a college like this in my town too. But she makes a lot of remarks about the people who go there and how it's a joke and a stepping stone and things like that. First off, you go there. Have some self-respect. Good for the people who go there who are trying to do something better with their education. I don't think that's something that's ridicule-worthy. As someone who has had to take breaks from school due to financial hardships, this struck a bad chord with me for sure.

As for Twigs' height, I think it's great that the author gave her lead girl a "flaw" and made it a part of the story. It just wasn't realistic to me, though. I'm barely over five foot myself, and I have never had a stranger comment about my height, even during an unpleasant exchange. Family and friends? Sure. But strangers don't really care, at least in my experiences.

And then there's Helen. The supposed-to-be-lovable-crazy-woman that goes on a tirade at the drug store after she found out her husband was with somebody else. She proceeds to steal his car, and get Twigs involved in other such shenanigans. This may have been quirky to some, but it was all kinds of red flags and disturbing to me. Namely because I've had one of my dad's exes stalk us. It's not cute. It's uncomfortable and unsettling to just see her places, or to find notes taped to your windows.

I'm not even going to get in depth about the amount of drama in this book, because I think that some readers will find it engaging. I personally however found it to be too much, especially when I'm not all too fond of the characters involved with it all.

This is a young adult contemporary genre book. If you enjoy books with a lot of drama or short protagonists, this might be for you, but it wasn't a book for me. Thanks to Goodreads First Reads for my copy.

Stacking the Shelves [34]

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.

This was a quiet week for me, for once! It gave me time to get some reading done, which is always appreciated. I only got a few titles this week, but I'll be pumping out some reviews this week hopefully, so be sure to check back on the blog!


The Education of Victoria by Angela Meadows
47 Ronin by Stan Sakai, Mike Richardson

From the Author:

The Woman Who Stopped Traffic by Daniel Pembrey

What about you? What goodies did you get this week?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review: Historical Heartthrobs

Title: Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes-From Cleopatra to Camus
Author: Kelly Murphy, Hallie Fryd
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: January 7th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Zest Books


Four stars.

Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes-From Cleopatra to Camus is a collection of fifty historical figures that all offer(ed) something rich to human life, and looked good while doing it. I'm not sure who decided that this book was one that needed penning, but I will say that I learned a lot of interesting historical tidbits from this collection.

Each figure listed is summarized in a bio, information about their sex/relationships, a few fun facts, quotes, a picture, why they're worth knowing, and more. A lot of information was packed into this book in a way that was easy to read and separate. This organization also made it a book good for stopping- you could easily pick up where you left off if you let it sit for awhile.

I really appreciated the diverse spectrum of figures that were represented. Both genders, different races, sexualities, nationalities, and professions were all represented within Historical Heartthrobs. I had heard of most of these figures but not others, so I walked away from this collection having learned some things. From pilots to Nazis to dancers, there is a figure in here for everyone.

This was really easy reading, and I liked the amount of photographs that were included. It helped to hold my attention and get a better sense of what the text was describing.

Historical Heartthrobs is a good book for anyone looking to learn a bit more history in a fun, interesting way. Thank you to Netgalley and Zest Books for my copy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: Sweet & Savory from Miraval Chefs

Title: Sweet & Savory from Miraval Chefs
Author: Justin Cline Macy, Kim Macy
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: January 7th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Hay House, Inc


Four stars.

Sweet and Savory by Miraval Chefs is a collaborative cookbook featuring recipes from the husband and wife team of chefs at the Miraval Resort & Spa. This book contains recipes for meals, salads, breakfasts, and desserts alike and offer a healthier look at some recipes that we know and love.

This title had a very wide variety of dishes that all had easy to follow recipes, making them usable by anybody who picks up the book. What is really intriguing about this book for me is the pictures that were included inside. They're very bright and colorful, and leap off the page. It made me want to cook immediately.

One thing that I didn't realize when I requested this title for review is that this is a spa-like, healthier look at recipes. There are a lot of recipes that are gluten-free and low-fat recipes are included. This is something that I'm sure will prove useful to those searching for healthier alternative reasons. However, those recipes are not something that I myself aren't interested in.

All of that aside, there are definitely recipes from this book that I can't wait to try for myself, including Passion Fruit Souflee Glace, Honey Lavender Gelato, and Venison Chili.

I'd recommend this book for people considered about extra calories, who has gluten concerns, or who just want to add a few more bright dishes to their culinary repatoire. Thank you so much to Netgalley & Hay House, Inc for my chance to read this title.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: Holiday Edition [33]

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.

Hello lovelies. I hope that you had a great holiday and that you got whatever you asked for. If you're in the Midwest/coast of the US- I hope you're staying warm! I just came in from shoveling snow and it's a mess out there. If you're from down under, conversely, I hope you're finding a way to beat the heat!

I didn't do a post this past week, since I was busy with holiday travel and the like, having spent "second Christmas" in (the even colder than Chicago) Wisconsin with my girlfriend and her family. But, I'm back now, and lordie lordie did I get books.... Especially since my future mom-in-law let me go on a splurge at Half Price Books!


A Million Little Snowflakes by Logan Byrne
Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum
Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
House of Bathory by Linda Lafferty
Adam's Apple by Liv Morris
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman


Spring Into Summer by Eden Baylee Thanks Pavarti & Eden!

Amazon Freebies:

Surrender by Melody Anne
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
Hyde by Lauren Stewart


A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Doodling in French: How to Draw with Joie de Vivre by Anna Corba
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Yes, those books came in boxes that look like books. Aren't they darling? What did you get this week?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Review: Faeries & Elementals for Beginners

Title: Faeries & Elementals for Beginners: Learn About & Communicate With Nature Spirits
Author: Alexandra Chauran
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: November 8th 2013
Source: Netgalley & Llewellyn Publications


Four stars.

Faeries & Elementals for Beginners: Learn About & Communicate With Nature Spirits is a nonfiction guide on how readers can best connect spiritually with natural spirits around them. I requested this book because, though I am an out-of-the-broom-closet pagan, I don't really know all that much about things such as faeries or nymphs. To others like me who could use a refresher lesson on such creatures, Faeries & Elementals is definitely a book worth checking out.

The book is divided into four sections by element: air, fire, earth, and water. I found this extremely helpful, since different elements of course help with different things (and have different locations too). This made it easier to locate specifics later, if I needed to.

In addition to descriptions regarding what different spirits and creatures are and where to find them, the author also gives guidance on how to best communicate with them. She even takes this a step further, offering instructions for things such as meditation, and ritual.

If you have an interest in creatures such as faeries, are a pagan, or are looking for tips and tools to help better connect with the friends we cannot see in the world around us, then this is a book that you should check out. Thank you to Netgalley and Llewellyn Publications for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Mini Review: The Book of Jezebel

Title: The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things
Author: Anna Holmes, Kate Harding, Amanda Hess
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 22nd 2013
Source: Netgalley & Grand Central Publishing


Two stars.

I thought this would be a neat book to flip through, since I am of the female persuasion and love a good illustrated collection. However, I wasn't much a fan of this at all. I didn't realize that "lady things" was an all encompassing term for whatever the editors felt like talking or complaining about. Not only that, but the information for each seemed mostly useless and often random. Some terms were given full, in depth paragraphs and others a sentence. It's an encyclopedia, not a dictionary. I expected more meat on the bones.

However, the main thing I really disliked about this book was the tone. It was overly snarky and downright judgemental at times. I don't know who this book is geared towards, but it's definitely not me. I can look this stuff up in a few seconds on the internet and receive a whole lot more information without the eye rolling and the headaches.

I can't give this book one star, because there were some entries that were well done and gave good information. However, overall, if I saw this on a bookshelf I would keep walking. Thanks to Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for my copy of this book.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Review: Expressing the Inner Wild

Title: Expressing the Inner Wild: Tattoos, Piercings, Jewelry, and Other Body Art
Author: Stephen G. Gordon
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: January 1 2014
Source: Netgalley


Two stars.

I saw the striking cover of this book, and then I read the name, and I knew this was a book that I'd have to read. I'm no stranger to piercings, having had eight over the course of my 21 years so far. And, though I haven't gotten any tattoos, I adore them (and my girlfriend has a few too). I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but I know that I was left wanting a more thorough book.

This book aims to teach a history of sorts of how certain "modern" fashions started, and to illustrate that they're not really modern at all. Things like gauges, scarrification, tattoos, and even crazy hair styles. These brief histories were interesting, but I felt that they were really vague: too little information was given. I'd love to read a more extensive history, but because the history was brought around in little shallow segments, I was left with a lot of little tidbits but no vital information.

This book uses pop culture to convey fashions and trends in body art and modifications, which makes complete sense. Rock stars have been getting inked for decades, and for reasons that baffle me Lady Gaga's wardrobe is always at the heart of buzzing on news sites and gossip sites alike. However, I felt that this book had a bit of a passe vibe to it, like someone's parent was trying to tell me about why I like what I like. It was weird and I got a bit rebellious towards the idea, like "No, that's NOT why I do that!"

The pages are full of color and pictures, which made it an easy to read collection, but it came across more like a few pages of a teen magazine than a stand alone publication. I'd flip through this on my way to reading about other things, but I was disappointed overall by what this book had to say.

Thanks to Netgalley for the chance to read this.