Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: The Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport

The Spy LoverThe Spy Lover by Kiana Davenport
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Living in the deep South, usually, when I think “Civil War” I picture white men in either blue or grey uniforms, Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation Proclamation, or the antebellum homes in my area that are still standing. However, Kiana Davenport’s novel “The Spy Lover” has added a whole new dimension to the Civil War for me. Her story follows the journey of Johnny Tom, a Chinese man who is kidnapped into the Confederate army and later defects to the Union side, his daughter, Era, a spy for the Union, and her lover, Warren, a Confederate soldier handicapped by the war. “The Spy Lover” truly offers an untold and unique perspective on the Civil War. Thanks to Davenport I have a new understanding and respect for the minorities that served on both sides.

I recommend this book to everyone interested in Civil War history. However, I must say this novel is not for the faint of heart. Davenport doesn’t sugarcoat the Civil War like “Gone With The Wind” does. This novel realistically depicts death and injury on the battlefield and in the makeshift hospitals, as well as violence against women and minorities. Having finished the novel, I feel like I just got out of the war myself! The story is the right mix of action and drama. The characters came off the page for me, and I was moved by each of their longings for peace and something to live for in and after wartime.

I look forward to Davenport’s future novels!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4)Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I finally got it read before the last movie comes out. While I enjoyed the other books in the series, this one had issues. The other books had their flaws, but this one ebb and flowed between what I wanted to read and boring. I'm kinda wary of people who are overly critical of's a TEEN ROMANCE people. If you didn't like, I feel like your probably not a frequent TEEN ROMANCE reader in the first place. If you mainly read YA and TEEN ROMANCE and still didn't enjoy it, then more power to you.

First off, much like the movies, I think this should have been broken into two books. Twilight book 4 should have ended after Bella hunted with Edward as a vampire for the first time. Then maybe Stephanie Meyer could have come up with more plot for Twilight book 5/part 2 whatever you want to call it. After Bella's transformation, I was bored. The bad guys Volturi come to town, I think there's going to be a cool fight, but after way too much dialogue everybody goes happy skippy on there own way.

But, my main issue is the Jacob/Renesmee pairing. In my reading experience it was the most forced pairing since Laurie and Amy from "Little Women". Way too convenient. I feel Meyer didn't want to deal with fully resolving the Jacob/Bella/Edward triangle, so she just stuck Jacob with the infant. Logically, I think Jacob should have ended up with Leah Clearwater, the female shapeshifter in his pack. They had a hate/love/loyalty relationship that could have bloomed into a good story. Also convenient reference to Jacob and Leah in the Bible for Meyer's Mormon connection. If Renesmee had to be imprinted to a werewolf, I think Seth Clearwater would have been a better choice. Hey, at least he was closer to her age.

So, overall, disappointed at the weird twists and the plot that ran out of steam. Maybe Breaking Dawn Part 2 movie will improve on the book.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Narrative Loserdom by Ryan Collins

Narrative Loserdom: From Journal OneNarrative Loserdom: From Journal One by Ryan Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description: "Justin Taggart doesn’t know anything (about being a loser). He likes girls and plays sports and has some friends. Unfortunately his fear of rejection outweighs his ability to deal with these well. Mostly there’s Sterling, the girl of his dreams who knows how to stop his heart by not knowing he likes her. Another thing is trying to get money with Adam, who’s rich anyway so it’s more about hanging out. As for Justin, he makes ends meet by mowing people’s yards with Adam, and sometimes by breaking into vending machines and selling late-night cable programming to peers (also with Adam). But it’s not like he doesn’t feel bad about it, since Jesus died for his sins. School is pretty terrible with all the work and practice, but there are a few people there worth mentioning. Anyone who picks up his journal will be in for something, if they feel like getting through a lot of grammar and spelling problems. They’ll probably end up seeing that they shouldn’t have looked at it anyway, because this is someone’s private anthem of girls, grass, and loserdom."

My Thoughts: 

I really enjoyed this retro, slice of life, diary-style story told from a teenage guy's point-of-view. The diary format reminded me a little of the narrators from "Perks of Being A Wallflower" and "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian". There's certainly some guy humor in it that I can't get into being a female, however, it didn't bother me much, cause I know boys will be boys. Overall, the story made me nostalgic, cause the journal is set from 2001 to 2002, the same time frame I was in high school. There the story chronicles the day-to-day mischief, hopes, dreams, loses, failures, and crushes of a guy and his friends.

My one criticism is that the journal stops, in my opinion, very abruptly. While reading the journal, I started to care and wonder if the guy ever did get the girl of his dreams or another girlfriend. Does he graduate high school? What does he go on to do with his life? None of those questions were answered for me. I'm not sure if the author is planning to write a sequel, but I'd like to see it.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

**Big Disappointment Ahead...** :(

The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, to write that it wasn't what I was expecting would be an understatement. I spend a long time waiting with high hopes for this book. I was thinking it would be on the level of "To Kill A Mockingbird" or a John Steinbeck novel.

But to sum it up best as I can, what I got was a tragic story riddled with profanity, sexual references, and rape. Now, I guess a lot of people would claim that I'm just being a prude. But, having read "Push" by Sapphire and a few of Ellen Hopkins' novels, I feel that I've handled stories with some serious graphic matter. I guess, what I'm trying to say is, I can bare it if it's essential to the plot. However, in J.K. Rowling's case, all of it just seems so needless. I feel like she purposely wanted to shock people. Almost like a child star or singer who wants to create a scandal to prove they're not sweet and innocent. As to say, "I can be dirty and bad, too! Just watch!"

It makes me more curious about who J.K. Rowling really is...can it be the same person that wrote Harry Potter? Should I compare her to George Carlin on Thomas the Tank Engine or Bob Saget on Full House...someone who's been holding all of this in, in front of the kids, and finally is able to let it all out?

I'm left thinking a quote that a character in the book mentions could be a statement from Rowling herself:
"I do not want believers, I think I am too malicious to believe in myself...I have a terrible fear I shall one day be pronounced holy...I do not want to be a saint, rather even a buffoon...perhaps I am a buffoon..."

After this book, I doubt she'll ever be thought of as a saint. But what's really sad is, her master work, the Harry Potter series, is now tainted as well. I can just see EVEN MORE PEOPLE not allowing their kids to read the series because they know how needlessly vulgar and dirty she was in this book. I've read that she's planning a new children's series, and I have a bad feeling that they'll be a lot of parents against that one as well.

So, yeah, I'm disappointed. If this book hadn't been by J.K. Rowling, based on the synopsis, I'd probably have never bought it cause it didn't sound like something I'd be interested in. And even if I had picked it up, if it hadn't been J.K. Rowling, I would have quit by page 50. I stuck with it, hoping it would get better. In some ways it did...the vulgarness died down some and I was rooting for the underprivileged characters in this book. I was seriously hoping that this had a point or meaning or would all tie together somehow in J.K. Rowling-Harry-Potter-plot-mystery-fashion. But it didn't. It ends sadly. No one is happier, no one is redeemed. It's a grim slice of real life. Read this if you want to be depressed.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy Casual Vacancy Day!

The release day for one of the most highly anticipated adult books this year is finally here! The Casual Vacancy marks J.K. Rowling's first dip into adult literature.

I can tell you, I wish I had a copy of it in hands right now. I said I wasn't going to, but I broke down and preordered a copy from I had planned on buying today in stores at Barnes and Noble. However, after asking one of the B&N clerks how much the book would be in stores on release day, I changed my mind. With Oshie's residency interviews getting closer, we're really watching our budget right now. I can't fathom paying $35 today for a book I could have for $21 if I wait two days with my amazon prime student shipping. Call me cheap, but when your on a budget, you're on a budget.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not very excited and curious about this book. I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, as to keep myself unbiased until I can read the book for myself. I already saw one when I looked up this photo...I'm sure the news will be riddled with them today.

Personally, I'm wondering if this book will change how I feel about J.K. Rowling as an author and maybe even as a person (I admire her charity). What if I absolutely hate it? Would I avoid reading her future books? I'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Classics Corner with Vonze: Portrait of a Lady

Ah, classic novels, I'm creating a new feature to discussion what I love or hate about them. For our first review: Henry James' "The Portrait of a Lady"...aka not a novel to be tackled by those with faint-of-heart-attention-spans.

If only you could tell how good a classic was going to be by how pretty its Barnes and Noble cover is!

The Portrait of a LadyThe Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What started as a Goodreads Group read, turned out to be a massive undertaking for me. A few years ago I made a resolution to finish everything I started reading...and out of all the books I've read since then, none of them came as close to forcing me to break that resolution as "The Portrait of a Lady". Tried to finish it, sat it back down several times. It's not a bad book, Henry James, the man can write...and I think that was one of the problems I had in finishing it...Henry James loves his vivid descriptions. So much so, at times, I would forget what was happening with the plot, he'd just go on and on, and not get to the point quickly enough for me. In other words, this would be the type of book I'd like to have on a desert island, if I had all the time in the world to enjoy reading all his extra little details. But with a busy life and a 2000-generation attention span, I had to set this one aside several times.

As for the plot, when you get down to it, lots of drama and secrets. However, I was really disappointed in the abrupt ending. Isabel Archer starts out as a young, wannabe-independent American woman, who happens to visit some wealthy family in Europe. After she is left an inheritance that could make her independence dreams come true, she is tricked into marrying a man with his own schemes. Based on her character's previous actions I really thought the story was building up to her leaving her husband or remaining married in name only and living as an independent woman (hey, it was her money), but I was wrong. I wouldn't feel so bad about being wrong if Henry James had used one of his vivid descriptions to explain what was going on in Isabel's mind, so I could have understood her decision.

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So, overall, unless you really, and I mean REALLY, love reading classics, I can't recommend anyone spending the X amount of time it took me to finish this one, only to be disappointed with a lackluster ending.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

NPR Favorite YA Fiction Poll

Thanks to Miss Print, I just found out about NPR's Favorite YA Fiction Poll. A list of nominated finalists has been compiled, and now every voter has ten votes for his or her favorites from the list. So check it out and go vote for your all-time favorites!

And if your curious here's who I voted for:

Vonze's Votes
1.) Anne of Green Gables - I just started this series a few months ago, and man, I cannot believe I didn't take the time to read it when I was younger. It was stuck in my never-ending To-Be-Read pile, when it should have been on the top.

2.) Crank - I also avoided this one for a long time because it didn't sound like something I would enjoy, teen addiction, even though it came highly recommended. But I won a copy and finally gave in, and was shocked that a book about addiction could be so well done and eloquent. I think I'm better able to empathize with people who overcome addiction now.

3.) Delirium - For me, thought-provoking on the state of personal freedoms.

4.) Harry Potter - No explanation needed.

5.) The Hunger Games - Ditto.

6.) I Capture the Castle - If an author makes me want to throw the book across the room because I care about a character but hate that she's acting stupid, then the author is doing her job - evoking emotion.

7.) The Last Unicorn - So underrated. It was one of my intros to fantasy. I voted for it because it needed some vote love.

8.) The Perks of Being A Wallflower - This one took me back to the 90s, and I loved the '90s, my glory days *le sigh*

9.) The Princess Diaries - I'm really biased on this one, because I discovered Meg Cabot's work around the time that my dad died, and the humor in her writing really helped me through that difficult time.

10.) Twenty Boy Summer - I kinda pre-judged this book too, thinking it was typical teenage boy drama, but it's much better and more than that. It's a story of grief, love, and healing, that pleasantly surprised me.

And, if I'd had more votes, I was torn between voting for: To Kill A Mockingbird (although I think of it as general fiction and not YA), Treasure Island, The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian, and Howl's Moving Castle

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine to spotlight a blogger's eagerly anticipated new books.

For this Waiting on Wednesday, I picked A Night Like This by Julia Quinn.

Release Date: May 29, 2012

Book Summary: "Three years ago, Daniel Smythe-Smith shot a man in a duel and was forced to flee the country. He used to be a devil-may-care charmer, but after three years of being quite literally hunted, he is wary and on edge. Now he's back in London and, on the night of his arrival, attends the annual Smythe-Smith musicale, where he notices that the young woman at the piano is definitely not his cousin. Anne Shawcross made a terrible mistake at the age of sixteen. Ruined by the son of the most important family in the district, she changed her last name and left home, eventually becoming the governess to the Earl of Pleinsworth's three daughters. When Sarah Pleinsworth takes ill the night of the musicale, Anne is asked to step in. Could Sarah be the woman to save Daniel and his wounded heart? New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn's enchanting second novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures."

My Thoughts: In the past year, I've come to love Julia Quinn's novels. While a lot of romance novels have a bad rep for being repetitive and trashy (some are), Julia Quinn writes what I'd like to call a smart woman's romance. Her heroines are not needy and stupid, her heroes are not enraged, dictative alpha-males. When I started the Bridgerton series, I was doubtful and expected each book to be formulamatic. Eight books in a romance series seemed like a lot. Little did I know, I was going to get caught up in the society of lovable characters Julia Quinn has created. So much so, I'm currently trying to collect every novel she's written. I can't wait to see what happens next in the Smythe-Smith family. I'm also hoping this won't be the last book of the Smythe-Smith series.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine to spotlight a blogger's eagerly anticipated new books.

For this Waiting on Wednesday, I picked The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.

Release Date: September 27, 2012

Book Summary:"When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults."

My Thoughts: Finally! It has a title and description! How about a cover? Although that is a nice photo of J.K. Rowling, she hasn't aged much, she looks very elegant and mysterious.

The description is a little dubious to me. It makes me wonder who are the main characters of this book? Barry Fairweather is dead, so will he be a character in flashbacks? Will the book be loaded with characters from this town? Or will it focus more on the characters who are trying to replace him?

At 480 pages, this book is a little slim for Ms. Rowling. I was expecting a 900 page juggernaut.

I'm a little nervous for her as a writer. I loved her writing style in the Harry Potter books. But I'm afraid that if people don't like her as an adult writer in this book, she'll have a hard time breaking out of children's literature indefinitely.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Songs for a Teenage Nomad

Vonze: 5 out of 5

Book Description: "After living in twelve places in eight years with her drifting mother, fourteen-year-old Calle Smith finds herself in Andreas Bay, California, at the start of ninth grade. Fearful of putting down roots anywhere, but armed with her song journal, she moves to her own sound track through a world that bounces her between the school drama crowd, a mysterious loner, and an unlikely boy who will become her first love. But it's the troubling truth she uncovers about her father that forces Calle to face the toughest choice of her young life."

My Thoughts: I love it when I find a character who's a kindred spirit. Calle Smith's character has helped restore my faith in YA as a genre. I know that's a pretty tall statement, let me explain...(going to digress here). Although I'm no longer a teen, I still enjoy YA for its nostalgic value, and for the fact that most adult books (other than romance) lack a sense of fun and hopefulness. You turn 20 and WHAM!, you immediately should enjoy bitter, strictly serious stories? Hmm. I could go on to say that you marketing people out there should take notice there's a market of 20+ers who want stories with the plotlines of YA (not necessarily romance) but with slightly more older characters, yet not so old that they're bitter and depressed about life.

Anyhow, back to the point, I've read a lot of good YA, and I've read a lot bad...with lead female characters as someone else once put it "too-stupid-to-live". However, Calle Smith is a strong indie chick, dealing with a unusual life with maturity beyond her years, and if she was real, I would adopt her solely on her good taste in music. I loved that she kept a music journal, jotting down the memories she associates with certain songs. As for the plot, it had a unique twist, especially involving her love interest's family. The ending was a little rushed for my tastes, but, altogether I'm surprised there wasn't more buzz about this novel.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book to Movie: My Hunger Games reaction

"Happy Hunger Games" read the email from the pretend President Snow on the day before the movie's release.

Well, at the time, I wasn't so sure. I was worried I'd get "Star Wars: Episode I"-ified all over again.

But now, I'm glad I'm able to say that I couldn't ask for a better adaptation. Although the movie cut several scenes from the book, it did an excellent job, in my opinion, of capturing the overall feel of the story. Where the book tells, the movie shows. I feel, although I know I'm biased because I read the book years ago, that for the non-readers out there, it's not an adaption that will leave you completely lost.

More of my humble fan opinion:

I like the portrayals of Katniss, Prim, their mom (nameless?), their dad, Gale, Peeta, Haymitch, Effie, Rue, and the Capitol citizens in general, and Caesar Flickerman. I was surprised that Katniss and Prim's father had air time, although it was just a dream, I'm glad they included him.

When I first saw Woody Harrelson's Haymitch in Entertainment Weekly, I thought he looked a little too neat...the Haymitch in my mind is very disheveled. However, Woody really captured Haymitch's attitude. The tension between him and Lawrence was well done.

The music is awesome. I haven't bought the soundtrack and the score yet, but they're on my wishlist.

The movie added some extra scenes that were not in the book, but added to the story. Such as the outrage in District 11 and Haymitch watching Capitol children pretend to fight.

The beauty of the Appalachian forest made me miss the area I grew up. Move-over Forks, WA, let's have some Appalachian forest love! Seriously, I'd pay to go on a Hunger Games film tour if I had the money.

The architecture of the Capitol was spot on.

Katniss' costumes and dresses took my breath away. I have a feeling the movie may influence prom and formal wear this year.

The arena was just as I imagined it.

THE NICK-PICKY (on my part)

Oshie and I discussed this, and agreed, that President Snow and Cinna really stuck out, but not in a good way. They weren't flamboyant enough. Their style didn't really match the rest of the Capitol citizens. Nothing against the portrayals by Donald Sutherland and Lenny Kravitz (although my dream cast would have been David Bowie and Prince), but it left me wondering if this was done on purpose or if it was lack of wanting to by the actors? Theoretically (and I'm fangirlin' here) one could say that President Snow is from an older generation and doesn't care about fashion, and perhaps, Cinna is not originally from the Capitol and doesn't buy into their ways completely (which could explain his part in the rebellion...not a lot is known about his character...). But logically, a president would influence fashion (think how often the Obama's fashion sense is mentioned? Or Will and Kate?) and wouldn't a costume designer design interesting outfits for himself? Again, I'm over-fangirlin it here.

Katniss' singing voice wasn't up to the par I'd hoped for...I read that it was Jennifer Lawrence's voice, and while not terrible, it was just normal for a character who is repeatedly mentioned to have a great voice that could make the birds stop singing just like her father. I think they should have dubbed her over with Taylor Swift.

The dog muttations weren't as frighting/freaky as I imagined. I hope in the future, when Mockingjay Part 2 is released, that the lizard muttations are more terrifying.

But overall, I'm thankful there's not much to complain about :) How long until the DVD release?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Automatic Pre-orders

Do you have a favorite author or authors that you love so much, you'd automatically pre-order their next book regardless of what it was about?

Lynsey Newton, author of the blog, Narratively Speaking, recently asked that question and created a list of her "Automatic Pre-order" authors. I loved her list so much, I decided to create one of my own!

VONZE's pre-orders:


Regardless of what this woman's next book is about, I will be pre-ordering as soon as pre-orders are available.


Ditto, if you haven't noticed that I love The Hunger Games, then I'm telling ya now that I do! I haven't read the Overlander series yet, but I do own it. If a new Collins series was announced soon, I'd pre-order it without question.


I'm still making my way through the ole Bridgerton series, but I have yet to read a bad novel from this lady, new or old. She is a master romance writer and I'm currently trying to collect all of her novels.


I want more of the science fiction world she created in The Host! I'm curious to see what the sequel will be about.


Her Sand Chronicles series was one of the first manga that drew me in with its emotional, dramatic style. Will she continue to handle tough topics like suicide? Or will she try something on the lighter side?

I can't say how I loved Stepping on Roses enough! I love her mix of historical drama and comedy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review: The Last Dragon Graphic Novel

The Last DragonThe Last Dragon by Jane Yolen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Last Dragon is visually the most stunning graphic novel I've ever encountered. It's illustrations are utterly beautiful and magical.

The Last Dragon is the story of Tansy, a young woman destined to follow in her healer father's footsteps. In Tansy's world, dragons have been extinct for hundreds of years...or so everyone thought. When her father goes missing, it becomes apparent that her town will need a hero and a leader to save them.

Although I'm somewhat familiar with the print edition by Jane Yolen, I haven't read it. Increasingly, I find that if I haven't read the print edition of a novel prior to reading its graphic novel format, I don't feel as connected with the characters and some of the scene changes confuse me. However, this was not true for The Last Dragon. It has been well adapted. I now plan to read the print edition of The Last Dragon, not because I have lingering questions from the graphic novel, but because I want more of this intriguing fantasy world.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Darth Vader and the Lost Command

Darth Vader and the Lost CommandDarth Vader and the Lost Command by Haden Blackman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a long time Star Wars fan, this is the Darth Vader I've wanted to see for years.

I don't make it a secret to my friends that I wish the first prequel had started with the plot of Episode III and continued until moments before Episode IV began.

For me, I always wanted to see inside the madness of Darth Vader. A man torn, haunted by his past, bitter about the family he lost, with perhaps the slight stirs of the light side still within him...buried deep within. Thankfully, with this graphic novel, I have what I wished for.

In Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command there's plenty of emotional turmoil and action on Darth Vader's part. I wish it had been a little longer, with the minor charaters a little more developed. However, this is a soild start to filling the gap between Episode III and Episode IV.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex: (And You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun)The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex: by Sheila Wray Gregoire

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, at first, I was really scandalized that Zondervan, the Christian book and Bible publisher, was releasing a book like this. But, after the shock was gone, I was curious how they'd pull this off. Was it really a guide or more of an improve your relationship/advice book?

Turns out, it's a little bit of both and it's tastefully done. Part of it is a guide for soon-to-be-married or newly-wed, inexperienced Christian gals. Part of it focuses on relationship and physical issues that may arise years down the road. The book carefully balances not only the physical needs of a marriage, but the emotional and spiritual needs as well.

For some Christian denominations, the author's viewpoints may be more modern and liberated than what they traditionally teach. However, the author admits that her interpretations, such as Genesis 38 and Lev. 18:22, are what she thinks. She isn't pushy or preachy about it, and recommends couples stick with what they are comfortable with.

I think it'd make a fun bridal shower gift!

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In My Mailbox (8)

My mailbox has been pretty busy lately:

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads: Ordered as a gift for someone.
Hearts West: From
Tantalize: ditto
Willow: ditto
Jane: wish it had the dustcover, oh well, ditto
Wither: ditto
Vampire Academy Graphic Novel: ditto
Hate That Cat: Gotta love, ditto
Back Home Again: From a Guidepost Book club
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: Ordered from

RIP Jan Berenstain, Co-Creator of Berenstain Bears

I recently read that Jan Berenstain, the co-creator of The Berenstain Bears series, passed away at 88.

Until now, I never really thought about the major impact The Berenstain Bears had on my childhood or on children's literature in general. There are more than 300 Berenstain Bear titles in over 23 languages! Simply astounding. I think it's safe to say that nearly everyone is familiar with her work.

When her husband passed away in 2005, her son, Mike Berenstain, began co-authoring the books. According to the article I read, he plans to continue the series and the legacy that his parents started in 1962.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Preorder Pandemonium and get Hana ebook free!

Hey, everyone, just a reminder not to forget that Pandemonium, the sequel to Delirium, comes out later this month. I really enjoyed Delirium, it was a great read for me after I finished The Hunger Games.

Also, I just read from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer's post, that, if Pandemonium gets 5,000 pre-orders by Feb. 13th, Lauren Oliver and will release a short story ebook called Hanna (set in the world of Delirium) for free.

Sounds like an great deal to me! Visit the author's blog for more info:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine to spotlight a blogger's eagerly anticipated new books.

For this Waiting on Wednesday, I picked Stepping on Roses, Volume 7 by Rinko Ueda.

Release Date: March 2012

Book Summary:"Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi's financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition: he'll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi fool high society into thinking she's a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth giving up everything for this sham of a marriage?"

My Thoughts: I'm a wannabe artist, so I'd like to think at my age it's not immature to keep up with a few manga series here and there out of slight artistic curiosity. Although, I'm sure there's people out there that would think otherwise of me. Regardless, I gotta say that Stepping on Roses is one of the most gripping romance stories I've ever read...and it's a manga! It's got everything I enjoy in a good romance novel. It's historical, it's got sexy brooding characters, an interesting love-triangle, back-stabbing, rags-to-riches, etc (I could go on). This series has been a page-turner for me. Volume 1 was just a random, impulse buy. However, it so was good, I bought Volumes 2-6 within the next week (Oshie fussed, but I couldn't help it, I was hooked). I am eagerly, eagerly anticipating how it will end! So, if you like shojo (girly) manga, check it out. Or if you like historical romances, and your open to trying the manga format, you won't go wrong with this one.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Movie News: Hunger Games and Beautiful Creatures

Hooray for the new Hunger Games trailer!

And for Beautiful Creatures fans there's also news that Viola Davis from "The Help" has signed to play Amma! I think she's a great choice. Amma and Uncle Macon were my favorite characters from that series.

Read more on the authors' blog:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine to spotlight a blogger's eagerly anticipated new books.

For this Waiting on Wednesday, I picked The Hunger Games: The Official Movie Companion.

Release Date: Feb. 7th 2012

Book Summary: "The New York Times bestseller by Suzanne Collins is now a major motion picture -- and this is your guide to all of the movie's excitement, both in front of the camera and behind it.

Go behind the scenes of the making of The Hunger Games with exclusive images and interviews. From the screenwriting process to the casting decisions to the elaborate sets and costumes to the actors' performances and directors' vision, this is the definitive companion to the breathtaking film."

My Thoughts: Oh man, I am so anxious about this movie. Anxious, you say? YES. The last time I anticipated a movie this much, I was let down. It was 1999 and the movie was Star Wars Episode I...I was a huge Star Wars fan up until that point, and that movie kinda killed my personal fandom for the series. I still like the originals, but not as diehard from that point on. So, yes, I am anxious about The Hunger Games movie because I don't want all this time dreaming and hoping for a cool movie version to be a waste. Regardless, I feel that I will still always love the books...I just really want to love the movie, too. I wanna see the wonderful characters and scenes brought to life. Maybe checking out this book will help reassure me that the movie will do justice to the book.

Review: Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by St. Martin's Press
ISBN 0312577206 (ISBN13: 9780312577209)

Vonze: 5 out of 5

Book description: "Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life---children, careers, bills, chores---even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a solider she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own---for everything that matters to his family.

At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately, hope."

Review: Kristin Hannah's latest novel is a powerful, emotional read. At first, I wasn't sure I'd identify with the main character, Jolene, a 40 year old mother who is being deployed to Iraq. However, Kristin Hannah, who I wasn't familiar with prior to reading this novel, truly breathes life into her characters. I felt that Jolene and her husband, Michael, grew and evolved in a natural, realistic way.

Although the plot involves the Iraq War, the novel does not come off as political, it does an excellent job of focusing on the struggles of a wife and mother who happens to be a soldier. The story breaks your heart and then believably begins to heal the pieces.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Hunger Pains Trailer (parody)

We knew it would happen sooner or later! Harvard Lampoon (the folks behind Nightlight, which I found hilarious) has written a scene-for-scene parody of The Hunger Games novel AND created a mock trailer to go along with it.

Check out the trailer here: Entertainment Weekly

Oshie and I had several good laughs at it. We both love The Hunger Games, but we believe in being able to laugh at our favorite fandoms, too. So, with that said, if you're easily offended when you see parodies of your favorite books/movies, then you might not enjoy it. But I felt that it's in good humor.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Oldies but Goodies: I Capture The Castle

Since I began book blogging, I've noticed that the majority of books that are blogged about, are new books or soon-to-be-released books. Which is an awesome way to learn about what's new and stay current. However, a lot of the books I acquire (through, library sales, randomly given to me by friends and relatives) are actually old books. And (although this might be strangely personifying these books on my part) I feel kinda sorry for them...doomed to sit on a shelf or to be passed from yard sale to yard sale because most people want the latest thing, the new NYT bestseller, instead of taking the time to dig for the hidden gem of a good story that an older book can hold.

We're still awesome inside!

So (to the point already), I've decided to create a new feature on this blog, "Oldies but Goodies," in which, I will review books that are over ten years old and haven't had a lot of buzz lately.

Over ten year old? That's like a grandma in book years right?

For the first "Oldies but Goodies" I picked: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
Vonze: 4 out of 5
Date Published: 1948 (OMG, it is a grandma!)
Book Summary: "I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"--and the heart of the reader--in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments."

Review: "I Capture the Castle" is one of the best diary-format novels (The Princess Diaries, Go Ask Alice, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, etc) I've ever read. In 1948 it was probably considered to be a contemporary novel, however, nowadays it reads like historical YA. If I didn't know the date it was published, I would have guessed it was a modern author who did her research well. Dodie Smith's writing style didn't feel dated to me at all. The book stands out in my mind, not only for it's coming-of-age story, but for the bizarre love triangle, square, case of: she loves him, he doesn't love her, he loves her, she doesn't love him, that I've encountered.

I gave it four stars instead of five because of the ending...I'll be honest, she doesn't end up liking the guy I wanted her to like, but my rating isn't based on that. It's based on the fact that the ending is left very open, in my opinion. So much so, that I wasted a lot of time googling to see if there was a sequel to the book...and there isn't. If "I Capture the Castle" was a new historical YA release, this book would probably have been the beginning of a series. However, as it stands, the author passed away in 1990, and now, the reader is pretty much left to imagine if the main character goes after her dream guy or settles for the practical choice. I felt like throwing the book across the room I was so frustrated at the ending. But the writing style is great and the characters are memorable.

So, overall, this oldie but goodie is worth your time.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Restock Yara's Bookshelves

Hey everyone, if you haven't seen the Mundie Moms' post or another bloggers post about the book drive for Yara at Once Upon a Twilight, then please visit this link.

Yara is a fellow book lover, blogger, and mom of two, whose house was recently destroyed in a fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt, however, she has lost a lot. In honor of her birthday, several blogs have banned together to restock the bookshelves of her and her sons.

If you'd like to help please visit one of the links above to donate books or money for Yara and her family.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine to spotlight a blogger's eagerly anticipated new books.

For this Waiting on Wednesday, I picked Insurgent by Veronica Roth.

Release Date:May 2012

Book Summary: "One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature."

My Thoughts: So, back last year, Oshie and I finished listening to the audiobooks of The Hunger Games series and were hoping to find another dystopian adventure to enjoy. Divergent was a pleasant surprise for us. Even though the author is younger than we are, the girl can write! With the action-packed ending to Divergent, Oshie turned to me and demanded to know if there was a sequel in the works. Only a few more months to wait!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: Breathless by Becki Brannen

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 227 KB
Print Length: 223 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1468093460
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

Vonze: 5 out of 5

Book description: "What happens when an ordinary girl meets the man of everyone’s dreams?

Keeping secrets is never easy, especially since Ryan Spalding is on the cover of every magazine and this year's "Hottest Hunk under 30." Good thing Carly Sparks is so out of the loop when it comes to celebrity affairs, or she'd realize she was in one!"

Review: Carly Sparks is a busy, successful lawyer. She doesn't have time for trivial things, such as which actor is Hollywood's newest, hottest hunk. So, when the handsome, sweet Ryan Spalding enters her life, the fact that he's a megastar doesn't even register in her mind. What will happen to their relationship when she learns the truth?

I highly recommend Breathless! Carly is a strong, smart heroine. She is an independent, Christian woman with a mind of her own. Ryan is a dreamboat! In the beginning, he's a lost soul with a sensitive side, but love changes him for the better. Together the characters share a sweet romance full of fun.

Breathless is a wonderful, lighthearted read! I'm looking forward to the future sequels in this series!

Check it out there!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Silly Kingdom

Silly KingdomSilly Kingdom by Katie Shanahan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If your a comic or graphic novel fan and your not currently following the work of the Shanahan siblings, then you should be!

In their first self-published comic, Katie and Steven (Shaggy) Shananhan give us a short tale of a grumpy, old wizard, Alengrimrichshaw, and the young royals who conspire to give him a 211th birthday party. What results is a comic with hilariously expressive scenes and a timeless, kid-friendly Saturday morning cartoon feel.

I only wish it was longer! I'm hopeful that there will be more Silly Kingdom volumes in the future.

To check this comic out for yourself, visit:

View all my reviews

Review: You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl

You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the PoolYou Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool by Celia Rivenbark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Celia Rivenbark cracks me up! Having previously read her book "Bless Your Heart, Tramp," and getting a taste for Rivenbark's comedy, I found "You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl" to be even funnier. I was surprised that this book doesn't have a higher rating on Goodreads! But maybe she's not for everyone. I think you have to understand that her comedy can be very southern. If there was a female version of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, her material would fit right in. She's a balance of southern sassy and snarkiness, which I enjoy.

In "Fat Girl" Rivenbark uses short comedic essays to cover a wide range of topics. Everything from, of course, weight loss, to Twitter, to Snuggie, to Barbie turning 50th, to funny misadventures with her husband and daughter. The book is, overall, a laugh-out-loud, southern slice-of-life from a nontypical NC wife and mother.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Joy of Books video

Hey everyone! Sorry again for the mini-hiatus, my first semester back was pure torture...anyhow, check out this adorable stop-motion video. Who knew a bookstore could be Toy Story-esque?


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