Monday, July 30, 2012

A Magical Little Read

I was in just the right kind of mood for this easy breezy fantasy novel. It's a feel good novel that begs to be read outdoors on a nice spring day.

The story follows Hannah, a young healer of sorts, who lives in the Tanglewood forest under the watchful eye of a conniving wizard. She has no idea how she came to be, what her name is, or why she is different from the village folk who come to her for salves, remedies, and healing. Flowers and vines grow in her hair and she uses them to help makes medicines for the nearby village folk and at the end of every month she pulls them all out of her hair and makes a tea for the wizard. As the story progresses she starts to wonder more about her existence and tries to get her friends, some forest animals (yes she can talk to animals as well), to explain to her the ways of the world and why she has to serve the wizard the way she does but they can't remember anything about their past or future existence either. The story takes an interesting turn when a night enters the forest trying to seek treasure at the heart of the Tanglewood, when he is badly injured Hannah (what the young healer has taken to calling herself) restores his health and starts a quest to find out what the true meaning of her life is. 

It's a beautifully written story and you can't help but sympathize with poor Hannah as she tries to find out what her purpose is. It is a cute and easy adventure and I would highly recommend it to anyone :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Epic Conclusion

I just had the pleasure of finishing, The Mule Tamer III: Marta's Quest, the third and final installment in The Mule Tamer Trilogy by John C. Horst and I was not disappointed. In the first two books we are introduced to Arvel Walsh and Chica, a ranger and a feisty but loving Mexican daredevil. They face many battles and trials but through it all discover their love for each other and the wild west and join together to form a family. Enter Rebecca and Marta. Rebecca is Chica and Arvel's only biological child, but they adopted Marta into their family when they rescued her from a gang of bloodthirsty Mexican bandits. Ten years later Marta and Rebecca are inseparable, Rebecca is a thoughtful, loyal, and seemingly quiet girl of nineteen and Marta is quite the opposite. Marta is strong, willed, bawdy, and always looking for a good adventure. They have just finished their schooling in Maryland and are supposed to vacation in Paris for a few months before going to college (did I mention that their grandmother is quite wealthy?) but plans change when Marta wants to check on her estate in Mexico (her Uncle was also quite wealthy). Mexico is going through some troubled times and Marta becomes even more nervous when she discovers that men want to buy her land to strip it for gold and oil. Since the duo is inseparable, Rebecca decides to join Marta on her trip to Mexico and they hope their parents won't realize where they're going.

On the ship from Maryland to Mexico, Rebecca becomes immediately smitten with young engineer, Robert Curtin. They have a whirlwind romance that I at first thought was ridiculously fast (he proposes to her within 48 hours!!) but in comparison to Romeo and Juliet who have a three day relationship (as a 13 year old and a 17 year old!) that results in the death of six people, I realized that Robert and Rebecca's fast road to love wasn't really that far fetched, plus their relationship continues to grow as the story continues. Not to be left behind Marta also starts to swoon for Marine captain, Pedro del Calle but isn't so quick to give her heart (or her virginity away), which is interesting because as a character she is much more of a risk taker and thrill seeker, however when it comes to relationships she is much more reserved. Once they make it to Marta's land they realize that they are in a pretty deep mess. Can their new lovers be trusted or are they just out for their land? I highly recommend reading to see how this adventure ends!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see Arvel's daughter's mature into quick-witted adventurous girls just like their mother, Chica. The Walsh family always runs into excitement and it has been interesting to see how each member of the family reacts to adventure and grows in different parts of the trilogy. I'm sad that this exciting saga is over, but I can't wait to see what else John C. Horst has in store!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Doin' It Dirty Book Bender

  • To be run on July 20th for 12 hours: noon CST to midnight CST
  • You don’t have to read the full 12 hours to participate.  Join us for however much time you have available!
  • You must read erotica or any subgenre of romance that borders on erotica.  Remember!  We’re doing it dirty.
  • Sign up by linking your blog in the linky below
  • On July 19th, we’ll post a linky for a goal post/progress updates.
  • On July 21st, we’ll give you a chance to recap your goals and let everyone know how you did.
  • Use the hashtag #DoinItDirty to track your progress on Twitter
Well I didn't get a chance to do all 12 hours of reading smut but instead I decided to write short mini reviews for all the smut I HAVE read. Here goes....

1. Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Series
Granted it starts off quite tame. But by the 4th book in the series there is sex oozing everywhere. It's the age old story of a good girl trying to decide between the handsome vampire or the sexy werewolf. Except that there is blood and guts and gore and primal sex involved, plus lots of other paranormal creatures. I re-read the first 5 or 6 books every year. They are that good. Plus Marvel comics has released the first few books as graphic novels, which is insanely awesome. Not super smut, but there is definitely enough sexy-time to get your heart racing.

2. Justine by the Marquis De Sade
This was so raunchy I didn't even finish the whole book. And this was written in the eighteenth century!!!! After watching Quills, a fictional account of the Marquis de Sade's last days, I thought for sure that I could handle this. Boy was I wrong. Sadism is aptly named after this historical author of erotica. Read if you dare.

3. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice
If you're into spankings and perverted Disney tales then this is the book for you. Anne Rice outdoes herself in this erotic work that opens up with sleeping beauty being awakened not with a kiss but by a violent raping. The story doesn't improve from there, it gets more violent and perverted. Not a light reading. There are more in this series, but one was more than enough for me.

4. 50 Shades of Gray Trilogy by E. L. James
Well everyone and their brother has read this recently so get off your butt and go read it to see what the fuss is about. Imagine twilight (because it is twilight fan-fiction) without paranormal creatures and with a lot more sex. The sex scenes are good, but the writing could use improvement. However, no one is reading this for the literary content so I might as well shut up, lol. 

I'm sure I've read way more, but it's late and I'm tired. So that is my minor contribution for now.

Laters baby ;)

Outlander Read-A-Long Week #6. The End!!

Phew, we're done! I finished my first read-a-long and I had a lot of fun!!! Outlander wasn't my favorite book and I'll honestly probably never read it again but I'm glad I read it and I can scratch it off my "to-read" list. Score! Also, I totally cheated and read the whole book in like the first week. My bad! Sorry for cheating!!
1. Jaime has the worst case of seasickness. Do you get seasickness or motion sickness? If not, is there something else that makes your stomach a bit queasy?
I don't get seasickness but I definitely get a bad case of sea legs and I did have to use an airline puke bag one time. But beyond that I'm a champ!
2. How did you handle reading the details of Jamie’s torture at the hands of Randall? Did you blame Jamie for anything that happened during the encounter with the captain? If you were Claire, how do you think you would have taken hearing about the abuse from your husband? What did you think of Claire’s method’s to get Jamie to start healing psychologically from his wounds from Randall (when she filled his room with opium and simulated another attack by the Captain)?
Umm, that was soo fucked up (pardon the language). I was NOT expecting it to be that bad. Like at all. Poor Jamie no wonder he has a mental and physical come apart, that is hell on earth. I can't imagine having to hear about that litany of abuse, especially if it happened to my husband. I wouldn't even know how to handle or process that. I do know that I wouldn't have handled it like Claire did though. Where the hell did she get that idea from? That was just weird and trippy but I guess it worked.
3. This cover: 
“history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honor, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice, and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul…you know the usual stuff of literature.”
Which of the above elements of Outlander were you most looking forward to? Which did you enjoy the most while reading? Which did you enjoy the least while reading? Which did you just not care about? Any of these do you which there were more of? Or less of?
I was looking forward to the history aspect more than anything and in that regard I wasn't let down. The tagline makes it sound super epic though and it really isn't. Personally, I didn't care about half of the crap it mentioned but oh well. 
4. Share with us your overall thoughts on Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Your favorite quotes, scenes, and/or your favorite words that had you searching for a dictionary. If you haven’t been marking your favorite quotes/passages, you can find Outlander quotes on Goodreads.
Overall, I wasn't in love with this book. It wasn't horrible it just wasn't what I was expecting and it wasn't my cup of tea. I probably won't read the sequels anytime soon but that's ok. I had fun doing this read-a-long so that's all that matters.
5. Are you going to continue with the series or are you done after Outlander? For those of us who are new readers of this series, any predictions? Do you think participating in the read-along helped or hindered your experience with the story? For those of you who’ve already read Outlander and books beyond, how much did you enjoy (or not enjoy) this re-read?
I'm going to pass on reading anymore. Sorry to be a party-pooper! I think participating in this read-a-long really helped me analyze and evaluate the story as I went through it. I definitely want to take part in another one soon!

Gettin' My Nerd On

This is my collection of young adult and juvenile books. Note the 
large collection of "Dear America" books. Be insanely jealous. 

 This is the main portion of my books. I don't store anything on the bottom shelves because I'm scared to death that it will flood again and throwing out books is the worst feeling ever.

A close up on one of my shelves. The top shelf contains all my signed books and nesting dolls.

This is my Vonnegut collection artfully stored on top of my wine rack. I'm starting to run out of room so I'll have to move them elsewhere.

My very small selection of graphic novels and comics. And the sleeping girl in flowers is a print (that I ripped from online, sorry Pickart!) from my very talented friend Ryan Pickart.  

A few random books chilling underneath a glass head filled with scarves.

My collection of DVD's not quite books but they are alphabatized! 

A close up on some of my DVD's. 

My collection of board games. Game night anyone?

So It Goes...

As usual Kurt Vonnegut never fails to let me down and writes a witty and poignant novel about characters to which everyone can relate. His cynicism and odd sense of humor always makes me laugh and this book was no exception. This novel follows the story of Walter F. Starbuck as he is released from jail and tries to make sense of what the hell happened to his life. It's funny, witty, insightful and a must read for everyone. Personally, I can't get enough of Vonnegut which is why I have to dole out his works slowly, because I know once I read all of his works that's that. No more books from my favorite Hoosier author, as such I have to pace myself to enjoy his books slowly. Thankfully there's a lot of good autobiographies out there. So it goes.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Outlander Read Along Week #5

Sorry everyone that this is soo late!! I'll try to post on time next week!!!

1. We are now settled into life at Lallybroch. What are your impressions of this place, and Ian and Jenny Murray? How do the stories of Jamie’s life here growing up shape your feelings toward him?

I LOVE Ian and Jenny, in fact I wish they were bigger characters in the book, I feel they have such a great story and a great family. It seems like a great piece of property and every is hard-working, loving, and very spirited. The stories they tell of Jamie's childhood definitely help humanize him a lot, I mean I liked him already, but this brings him a little more down to earth.

2. What do you think of the story of what really happened between Jenny and Jack Randall? Could you have been as bold as Jenny? Does this change your understanding of Randall?

Jenny is a waay stronger person than I am. She was really ballsy to handle that situation the way she did. This story of Randall also confirms my beliefs that he is a grade A douchebag. Seriously, what a guy.

3. For the second time, we see Claire warning a Fraser about future events. Do you think this is wise? Or does this mess with history/the space-time continuum/the natural order of things?

It probably isn't very smart but if I were in her situation I would want to warn the ones I love about impending disaster. I definitely think it screws with how the future plays out, but I wonder how much it actually changes. It's interesting to consider.

4. Do you consider Claire brave or foolish for going after Jamie? Would you be courageous enough to go into enemy territory to try and save the man you love?

I hope I would have the nerve to go after my one true love. If I didn't I know it would haunt me the rest of my life. It's foolish, but it is also quite noble.

5. Jamie makes a gut-wrenching decision in Chapter 35. Do you blame Claire for putting him in that position? What kinds of repercussions do you expect?

I don't blame Claire, she honestly tried her best to rescue him. Unfortunately his torture is going to be even more horrific because of her actions, but she had no way of knowing. Randall is also one of the most despicable characters EVER!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Outlander Read-Along Week #4

1. How do you feel about Claire disobeying Jamie and the resulting punishment he brings forth on her for this? Do you feel that Jamie’s punishment was justified by the fact that everyone was put in danger by Claire’s actions? Finally, did Jamie’s vow with Claire’s dagger do anything to sway your thoughts or change your mind on how you initially feel/felt about his punishment? 

Well... I have mixed feelings on this. Claire was clearly only thinking about herself and in the process endangered many men, but I don't know if she deserves that kind of treatment from her husband. I don't know, after reading "50 Shades of Greay" a while back the spanking scene sounded really familiar. Except that this time the spanking was done as a serious punishment rather than for just foreplay. Eh, she had to get punished but I'm still not sure if this was appropriate. Different time, and different place I guess. 

2. Just for fun, what was your reaction to the suspicious black spot Claire spotted on the floor near the area where Jamie was sleeping? Did you have any theories to what it might have been before it was revealed to be a _____? 

I'm thinking it was a rat? Or a giant cockroach maybe?

3. With regard to the ‘changeling’ baby Claire and Geilie spotted in the wild – if it were you back then and you happened upon a changeling baby in the wild in a circumstance such as this, do you think you’d have reacted most like Claire or Geilie? Explain. 

Claire is sooo stupid! They weren't necessarily leaving the baby out to die, she shouldn't have interfered. You have to understand other people's cultures and beliefs before you start jumping in and trying to fix them. It would have been hard to leave the baby alone but what would they have done when they got the baby anyway?!?!

4. Share your thoughts on Geilie Duncan. Is there anything that surprised you about her story or were you suspicious of her from the beginning? 

I was soo shocked when I found out that she was from the future too! I didn't see that one coming at all!!! It was interesting how she adapted to her new lifestyle and became a witch (was she a witch in the sixties as well?). I also thought that she was attempting to raise money for the losing side. Was she trying to change history or was she just a really bad history studen back in the day?

5. Your thoughts on Jamie’s LAST REASON for wanting to marry Claire – the one he had been so secretive about. GO! 

Jamie is such a good guy. Poor him for being stuck with an ungrateful wench like Claire. He could do soo much better (I gather you can tell I'm not a fan of her, lol).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dream New Dreams

Having read Jai Pausch's husband's beautiful story on childhood dreams, "The Last Lecture" I was more than willing to give "Dream New Dreams" a chance. Jai's story follows her trials as caregiver to her husband as he suffered through pancreatic cancer and eventually died. Her story is heartfelt and the pain that she and her family went through is excruciating. Jai masterfully recounts her experiences prior to, during, and after her husband's battle with cancer. She reaches out to the heart of everyone that has lost a loved one or has had to care for them at their most vulnerable. She doesn't come off as a saint, which I think is one of the many points she tries to convey, she highlights how hard it was spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Sharing her experiences is a perfect tribute to her late husband. Randy would be proud to see how far his wife and children have come. A moving read, have tissues ready.

I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Come on Baby Light My Fire

Lisa Tawn Bergren, an accomplished Christian novelist with dozen of books in print, combines fear, risk, love, loss, and fires all into one novel, in "Firestorm." As I've admitted before this isn't my favorite genre but I'm always pleasantly surprised when I read a Christian romance that doesn't have me gagging. This story follows fire science expert, Reyne, as she tries to overcome her fears and learn to trust in God again after she loses four of her crew in a horrendous firestorm. After taking a much safer job behind the scenes she starts to cross paths with sexy smoke-jumper, Logan, but is hesitant to get to attached because she fears that he too will be overcome by the fire someday. As the story progresses she learns to drop some of her barriers as she takes a dying friends advice (her best friend, Beth, has cancer) to live life to the fullest and to trust God with what he has in store for you.

Overall, it was predictable and sappy but still pulled at the heartstrings. A light breezy read that doesn't require too much of your focus. On a side note, it is also interesting to see how fire-jumpers and firefighters combat big forest and plain fires. Read at your leisure if you like Christian romance.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Those Nazis.....

I was intrigued from the get-go about an art curator/ scholar working for the Third Reich so I was more than willing to pick up The Detour by Andromeda Romano-Lax. Ernst, a young man in his twenties, has been given an important assignment in Italy. He is sent to bring back "The Discuss Thrower" an important statue that the Fuhrer wants to own because of it's beautiful homage to physical perfection. A seemingly simple task turns out to be nearly impossible as the two Italians who have been assigned to help him with transport keep making side trips and it is soon clear that people are after the statue. It would fetch a high price on the black market and Italians are already angry at their government for selling such a priceless work of art to Germany.

The plot is richly crafted and you begin to sympathize with poor Ernst on if he will ever get his assignment complete. He may not want to be there in the first place but he wants to see the job through. Plus he is very intrigued by the perfection that the statue represents being very self-conscious about a small physical imperfection of his own. The journey through the Italian countryside forces Ernst to think through some things that have been hidden in the darkest corners of his mind and compels him to come to terms with himself.

The characters are beautifully captured and the plot leaves you wanting more. An excellent read that combines historical fact with the beautiful imagination of Andromeda Romano-Lax.

I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Outlander Read-A-Long Part 3

1) We FINALLY get to the scene we’ve all been waiting for. You know what I’m talking about–yay sexytimes! What were your impressions? Was it what you were expecting? Or did you want more? 
Meh, I was glad they finally did it I suppose but it wasn't necessarily earth shattering sex. I probably shouldn't judge sex scenes by 50 Shades of Grey which set the bar unnaturally high. I'm glad it wasn't super awkward for them and yeah they wait til their married. Also, I found it hard to believe that a strapping young man like Jamie would still be a virgin. But then again it's 18th century Scotland, crazier shit has happened.

2) I know that some readers thus far have been bothered by the fact of Claire being married to Frank but still being involved with Jamie, despite the different time periods. Does their time as newlyweds change anyone’s opinion of that? If not, now what are you thinking of the situation?  

Well it makes me think a little bit better of her, at least I don't think she's such a hussy now I guess.  At least they were married before sex and it wasn't like she had a choice with the whole marriage thing so she hasn't cheapened her love for Frank... much, lol.

3) What did you think about the “waterhorse” that Claire saw? Why do you think Peter was so spooked? And what do you think this means for Claire? 

REALLY a waterhorse?!? I just chose to ignore this little part of the story. It's already magical enough, I don't need their to be witches, leprechauns, and waterhorses to add to it.

4) If you were Claire and you were knowingly in the vicinity of the stones, would you have done the same thing she did?  

Claire is kinda a bitch and doesn't think things through. If she would have talked to Jamie, I'm sure he would have taken her to the stones no questions asked. She only thinks of herself and I feel terrible for those around her.

5) What do you think about Captain Randall? How do you think the family resemblance between him and Frank affects Claire and particularly her relationship with Jamie? 

I bet it's a big turn off and throws her into confusion every time she sees Captain Randall. It probably makes her like Jamie even better because she unconscionably will associate Frank with Captain Randall and that obviously will put some distance between her and her twentieth century husband.

Well that's all for now! I loved everyone's responses this week!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fans of Indiana Jones!!!!!

So I just finished reading Strindberg's Star by Jan Wallentin and I LOOOOVED it! I've been reading like a billion romances lately and this was an AWESOME break from that. Picture Indiana Jones? Pretty awesome right? Well this book is just like "The Lost Ark" so definitely give this a try!! There are un-explainable and highly sought after objects that Don, a history scholar must find and figure out the power of. Little does he know that these objects have a big history in the arctic (19th century), Sweden, and in Nazi Germany (I told you this was like Indiana Jones!). It's a fast paced multi-national thriller and it's so hard to put down because you want to figure out what in the hell is going on. This is a must read for any Dan Brown fans as well or for anyone who likes a good historical (fake historical, anyway) thriller. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.