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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Review: Can a Princess Be a Firefighter? by Carole P. Roman



Title: Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?
Author: Carole P. Roman
Illustrator: Mateya Arkova
Format: Paperback, 36 pages
Pub. Date: March 25th 2016
Source: Author


Book Description:



Two little girls pepper their father with questions about whether or not they can be a profession and still be a princess. Motivated by her granddaughter's fascination with all things 'princess,' Carole P. Roman penned this adorable poem celebrating all the wonderful possibilities waiting ahead for them.





Review:


★★★★★

What a wonderful children's book.

First, I'd like to talk about the actual story. As the title suggests, the lead little girls ask the question, "Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?" I think all of us as little kids grow up with some version of this dream job that smooshes multiple jobs together. Maybe an astronaut who studies dinosaurs, or a ballerina veterinarian. When the world is our oyster, and we aim for the sky. This book reaffirms that girls can do anything they put their minds to. There's nothing wrong with wanting a stereotypically "girly" career- like a ballerina, a nurse, or a princess. But there is also nothing wrong with wanting to be in a STEM field, a doctor, an astronaut, a cop. The sky's the limit. It's a message worth repeating, and not just to our daughters but our sons too.

The book is written in a rhyming, nursery story way. It makes it more fun to read aloud, and also is a clever way of making the story flow. As a kid, my favorite stories were always the ones that rhymed!

And then there's the artwork. It's very fun and detailed, and very colorful. It'll hold a young reader's attention, and the pictures match well with the text on the page.

I recommend this to the parents and teachers of young children. This story has a great message, and goes about exploring it in a really fun way.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel



Title: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Author: Alison Bechdel
Format: Paperback, 232 pages
Pub. Date: June 5th 2007
Source: Half Price Books


Book Description:



In this graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father.

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the Fun Home. It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.






Review:


★★★★

I didn't know anything about Fun Home when I saw it on Broadway in Chicago. My sister is a season pass holder to the theatre, and so we went. I was told, "I don't know, it's a musical about lesbians or something". Seeing as I'm LGBT, that was enough. I didn't expect to fall in love with the musical and the story, but I did. I was eager to get my hands on Bechdel's book to get a deeper experience out of it. I wasn't disappointed.

I wasn't expecting this book to be so smartly written. I know that sounds insulting, and I definitely don't mean it to be. I know Alison Bechdel is smart (understatement of the year, since I'm pretty sure she's a MacArthur grant recipient). But wrongly, I assumed that because it was a graphic novel, it wouldn't contain much.

I was wrong, and I stand corrected.

The amount of literary comparison and quotation and references in this book are insanely plentiful. Not to mention well done. As an English grad, it warms the cockles of my cold, cynical heart. I too speak of my life, and the people in it, in terms of literature. I related strongly. Sometimes I even, admittedly, had to go back and read again to make sure I understood the bookishness fully. It's not a fast read, despite the illustrations.

I also related strongly with the idea of loving one's father, but also hating them. It is confusing to people who don't understand. My father could be warm and charming in a room full of people. But home with us, he was cold, and he was cruel. I lived my life in a state of confusion, because which of these people was my father? I have people who don't believe he was abusive, because he was so fun. I have people who know how abusive he was at home, who have gotten angry at me for staying in contact with him. It is a very weird mix of feelings to even explain to myself, let alone to other people. Alison Bechdel, while having drastically different circumstances, managed to convey this perfectly. Far better than I could ever say. Alison, I feel your heart saying hi.

And then, there's the artwork. It's very odd to see such an emotionally driven biography in this medium, but it's super effective. At first I was disappointed that these illustrations aren't in color. But in a panel, she explains why she doesn't use color anymore.... And I unfortunately relate to that too. It no longer disappointed me. The art style is well done, familiar but with detail. I appreciated the many references to Sunbeam Bread throughout the course of the book.

I also liked that the book wasn't just somber all the way through. There are moments of humor. There are moments that as a young LGBT woman that made me smile, or upset me, or just hit home. Like when I first realized what it was like to be different. Like life, this book is filled with ups and downs and complications and emotions. It can be rough in spots, but it's worth it.

I'd absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys the musical Fun Home, who grew up queer, or who likes gritty, realistic autobiographies. It's so well done, both in text and in illustration. It will remain on my sexuality shelf for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stacking the Shelves [110]



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

I wish spring would come already!

In My Mailbox



Passion Ignites by Donna Grant


In My E-Mailbox



Theo and the Forbidden Language by Melanie Ansley
Dark Desires by Aja James
Pink by Stephanie Powell

Mini Review- Cave Kiddos: A Sunny Day by Eric Jay Cash



Title: Cave Kiddos: A Sunny Day
Author: Eric Jay Cash
Format: Paperback, 26 pages
Pub. Date: February 6th 2016
Source: Publisher


Book Description:



Cave Kiddos is a fun book about four Paleolithic children who share the experience of developing and learning important words and concepts. Join Alk, Haha, Lala, and Zee as they discover the world around them.





Review:


★★

I'll start off with the positive thing I liked about this book, and that is the illustrations. They're very cartoonish and animated, and they're very cute. They will certainly hold the attention of younger readers. They are colored well and can be appreciated without having text along the way in the book.

But there is text in the book: albeit very, very little. The book follows these four little cave children as they explore the world around them. They learn the word "water"..... And that's it.

This might be good for really, really, really early readers, or as the author's bio suggests, for kids with speech delays/problems. But for most kids, this won't hold interest for very long. I wouldn't recommend it.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Review: The Year of the Geek by James Clarke



Title: The Year of the Geek: 365 Adventures from the Sci-Fi Universe
Author: James Clarke
Format: eARC
Pub. Date: October 19th 2017
Source: Publisher


Book Description:



The Year of the Geek is a fascinating look into geek culture. Each day will tell a different story from the sci-fi universe, from famous franchises and figures such as Star Wars, The Matrix, Peter Jackson and Luc Besson, to lesser known stories, including the French cult classic City of Lost Children, the Japanese anime Akira and bestselling German novelist, Marcus Heitz. With text written by self-confessed geek James Clarke and accompanied by over 100 infographics that have been specially commissioned for this book, The Year of the Geek celebrates all things geek in a new and intriguing way.





Review:


★★★★

This is such a great little guide. It's the sort of a book that would make a really good Christmas gift or stocking stuffer.

As the title suggests, this book is a year long, with one page per day. Each day there's a fun little factoid. It might be an author or film star's birthday, or when a book was released, or something else like that.

Each day is written in a fun way that's educational, but without making it sound like it's a Wikipedia page or text book. The graphics are really well done. There's lots of charts and infographics that make it seem more fun and more engaging.

I was a bit worried that this book might be "too geeky" for me. What I mean by that is, I'm a huge fan of Fantasy and books, but I'm not really the biggest sci-fi buff, and I have a less than stellar interest in anime and comic books. But the information was interesting no matter the subject, and it was just enough to be a "fun fact" sized thing to learn. For me, it's a good way to start the morning.

If you or someone in your life is a lover of the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, the SyFy channel, or any similar subjects, this is a cool book to have around.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman



Title: Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Author: Piper Kerman
Format: Paperback, 314 pages
Pub. Date: March 8th 2011
Source: Half Price Books


Book Description:



With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.





Review:


★★

It's worth saying up front that, yes, I do watch the Netflix series of the same name. However, I understand that the real life and the fictional life are two different things, so I will try my best not to compare the two: they are very different experiences.

This book is alright. It was a very slow read for me. I expected it to be faster paced, knowing that Piper has a history as a traveler and having been shipped around the prison system. But not much really happened.

There are so many different characters in the book, that it's really hard to keep everyone straight. Aside from a few reoccurring characters like Pop (Red) and Nora (Alex), not much depth is given to a lot of these girls. You don't get to know them very well as a whole. I also wasn't a fan of how she describes people. She often finds a way to insult them. Like, yeah she's pretty but she's super dumb, or she's ugly but she's so sweet. It was off-putting.

There was a lot of inner dialogue and not so much talking between characters. I think this is part of why it felt like nothing was happening. Her thoughts were sometimes interesting and almost always understandable. Questions like what is my fiance doing right now? Will I make it out of here? How did I end up here? But I was surprised by the lack of acknowledgement of her crimes. Towards the end she makes one flippant comment about how she committed a crime, but throughout the book there's definitely the implication of "I don't deserve to be here, I'm not like these people". There's no real growth or evolution. Although, she is on a women's prison board now, so some positivity has coming from it (not to mention those Netflix checks- genuinely, good for her on that front!).

That said, I do appreciate that she acknowledges her privilege often. While it does get annoying to hear about how much she has compared to others, I'm glad that she at least realized it. She had a job waiting for her on the outside. She received tons of mail and books and had a great lawyer. I do think that it's odd that no one seemed to care that she went to prison. By her own detail, she is waspy and she went to Smith. Yet her family and friends were just like "oh, okay, see you when you're out". It's great that they were so supportive.... Just seems odd for such an upper class family to not be appalled. Just an interesting observation.

The most interesting part of the book to me was the end section, which tells about her brief time in the Cook County jail system. She was held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, Illinois during her testimony for court. I'm from Cook County, and as she detailed how terrible the conditions were, I couldn't help but to feel like "yeah, that sounds right" based off of our news... And that's a damn shame.

I think what made this an odd read for me is that it reads sort of like a college application essay. A lot of it is personal, first hand experience. Who am I to say her stay was boring? It's her life, and I'm sure it was terrifying and awful. I certainly wouldn't want to be in her position. But there's strangely inserted facts and percentages and things that make it almost seem like it's a research paper. The two different writing styles don't mesh together very well, and makes the book seem rather disorganized, and interrupts the flow of the narrative.

I do appreciate that she includes a list of resources for jails, prisons, and the family/friends of those who are incarcerated in the back of the book. I hope I never need them, but I think it's a great thing to include.

And one brief comparison to the show: you can mostly tell which characters are based on who, even though the names have been changed. I did think it was cool that some quotes from the show were taken verbatim from the text.

Ultimately, I'm not mad at this book. I'm not sorry I read it. But I don't think that I'll have any urge to read it again, and I don't think I'd recommend it to a friend. Perhaps if you're more affluent than I am, or if you've done time (or are facing it presently), maybe you'll have more to gain from this book than I did. It's not a bad book, it just could have been done better.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Esher by Felicity Heaton!

Esher (Guardians of Hades Series Book 3)

Felicity Heaton

Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Water, Esher was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai.

Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence. Tormented by his past, Esher burns with hatred towards mortals and bears a grudge against Hades for forcing him into their world, condemning him to a life of battling to keep a fragile hold on his darker side—a side that wants to kill every human in the name of revenge.

Until he finds himself stepping in to save a female—a beautiful mortal filled with light and laughter who draws him to her as fiercely as the pull of the moon, stirring conflict in his heart and rousing dangerous needs long forgotten.

Aiko knows from the moment she sets eyes on the black-haired warrior that he is no ordinary man, just as she’s no ordinary woman. Blessed with a gift, she can see through his stormy fa├žade to the powerful god beneath, and the pain and darkness that beats inside him—pain she grows determined to heal as she falls deeper under his spell and into his world.

When the daemon bent on turning Esher against his brothers makes her move, will Esher find the strength to overcome his past and fulfil his duty, or will the lure of revenge allow the darkness in his heart to seize control, transforming him into a god intent on destroying the world?

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Enter the grand tour-wide giveaway to win a $75, $50 or $25 Amazon Gift Card at the Esher book page. This giveaway is international and open to everyone, and ends at midnight on April 8th.

Enter now: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/guardians-of-hades-esher-paranormal-romance-book.php

Rain hammered the pavement around him, scoured the walls of the towering buildings that hemmed him in and stole the clouds from view with their bright neon signs, and saturated the two daemons gathering their wits around fifty feet from him in the narrow Tokyo alley. It mingled with the black blood that turned the air rank and coppery, a stench he wanted to erase from this world.

And he would.

Esher moved forwards, through the heavy droplets that began to gather and condense, responding to the hunger mounting inside him—a desire to eradicate the foul creatures stumbling onto their feet now.

At the far end of the narrow street beyond them, a mortal male tucked beneath a clear convenience store umbrella paused and glanced their way.

Big mistake.

The darkness was swift to rise, to pound in Esher’s blood like a tide that battered him, powerful waves that rolled over him and washed all the light away.

On a black snarl, he pressed the toe of his right boot into the wet pavement and launched forwards, little more than a blur as he closed the distance between him and his prey.

The male daemon swiftly turned his way and stepped in front of his comrade—a female. Protecting her? Valen had reported the daemons in Rome had done something similar.

As if the creatures were capable of feeling anything tender or sweet.

They were as devoid of softer emotions as he was.

But still the male reached behind him and shoved her in the hip, forcing her to stumble out of the firing line just as Esher threw his right hand forwards. The rain that had been gathering around him exploded towards the male, whipping into a spiralling spear as it zoomed away from Esher. It hit the male with the force of a tidal wave, sending him flying through the air. The wretched daemon hit the pavement near the far end of the alley and rolled to a halt next to the mortal.

Esher growled and spat on the pavement, the gnawing hunger growing stronger as he stared at the wretched human.

It would pay in blood for daring to remain near him, for daring to gaze upon him.

It would pay in its own blood.

His lips stretched into a cold grin, the lower one stinging as the cut on it pulled, filling his mouth with the metallic tang of his own blood.

He twitched as memories surged, wrapped around him and felt as if they were pulling him down into them with claws that shredded his insides—tore his heart to pieces.

Blood.

So much red.

He had never seen so much of it, had emptied his stomach more than once when they had been butchering the male in front of him, spilling crimson and flesh on the hay and dirt. Their sick laughter had prodded at him, ripping at his strength and dragging him down. He had been weak. Stripped of his powers. Left vulnerable. He had been an easy target for their fear, their rage. They had beaten him. Tore more of his strength from him. He had been weaker. Wounded. Bound and broken.

But fucking gods, he had shown them the error of their ways when his power had returned.

Just as he would show this human.

Esher reached his left hand out and focused on the mortal male. It took only a brief thought. One moment the male was standing, the next he was prone on the floor, blood leaking from his eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Weak. Humans were weak. Pathetic. Unworthy of the protection of the gods.

Thunder rolled overhead, golden lightning striking a split-second later, snapping at the buildings that loomed over him and tearing a fearful gasp from the daemons.

A warning from the king of gods.

His uncle could go fuck himself.

The mortals deserved death.

He wasn’t on this plane to protect them. He was here to protect one realm—the Underworld. His home.

This entire world could burn and he wouldn’t give a shit as long as his home was safe.

The male daemon picked himself up, pausing to look at the dead human, his dark eyes wide and a flicker of fear emerging in them as he turned them on Esher.

And the female.

The blonde staggered onto her feet, clutching her stomach, her limbs visibly trembling beneath her long black raincoat that matched the one the male wore. They had come prepared for the turn in the weather. It was almost a shame they hadn’t come prepared to win. It had been a long time since he had fought a worthy adversary.

Keras’s words rang in his ears.

An adversary was coming for him, one of the group bent on destroying the gates to the Underworld that he and his brothers protected, all in an effort to merge the worlds and claim dominion over both.

Esher just hoped they were worthy.

He wanted a good fight, one that would test him to his limit.

Fire tore through his right arm and he grunted and snapped back to the alley. The blonde bitch leaped away from him, her silver knife stained crimson.

With his blood.

It rolled down his forearm to his wrist beneath the sleeve of his long black coat and he raised his hand before him and watched it drip to the ground to dissipate in the water beneath his leather boots.

Water that began to vibrate, tiny droplets of it bouncing higher and higher into the air as he stared at the blood flowing along the side of his hand to bead at the tip of his little finger and fall.

Typical of inferior creatures to use weapons in a battle.

He had never understood why some of his brothers relied on them too, one or two of them even favouring mortal-made guns, when they were gods and wielded powers strong enough to defeat any adversary they might face.

Personally, he never used weapons.

His powers were more than enough.

Without even taking his eyes off the blood, he flicked his left hand towards the female as she launched at him again, her blade flashing in the neon lights and a battle cry on her lips.

It turned to a scream.

She dropped from the air, landing in a shaking heap on the wet pavement, her convulsions growing more and more violent as he slowly turned his gaze on her. Hatred seethed inside him as he looked at her, as he commanded every molecule of her vile blood to dance to his song. He despised using his power over water to end his prey in such a way, because it was just too easy, but she had brought it upon herself.

“No!” the male barked and sprinted towards her.

He sank to his knees at her side and grabbed her arm, pulling her onto her back.

Too late.

Black blood rolled from her eyes and her mouth, streamed from her nose and her ears.

Esher closed his right hand into a fist.

Her body lurched upwards as her heart exploded.

“Bastard.” The male daemon shoved to his feet.

Esher slowly smiled. Crooked a bloodstained finger.

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Book 1: Ares

Book 2: Valen

Book 3: Esher

Book 4: Marek – Coming in 2018



Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM