Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dwellers of Darkness by Stacey Marie Brown

Title: Dwellers of Darkness
Author: Stacey Marie Brown
Genre: NA Paranormal Romance
Published: February 27, 2014
Pages: 344
Goodreads

Synopsis

Some days feel like years, but in Ember Brycin’s case just the opposite is true. Em would be 22 now—if she were human. She’s not. She is a Dae—part Demon and part Fay—with a little Dark Dweller thrown in to make her more of a freak.

Life has become further complicated for Ember since returning from the Otherworld. Besides being continuously hunted by the Seelie Queen, Ember is at the top of the Unseelie King’s list, after breaking her oath with him. No one breaks a vow with the Unseelie King without extreme consequences.

Adding to Ember’s problems is a certain Dark Dweller whose mood has become violent and cruel. As much as she’d like to deny it, there is an undeniable connection between them. Eli is sexy, gorgeous, and frustrating as hell. She also knows he is holding something back, something that could change their relationship forever. 

But her problems go way past him. As the tension for war mounts between the Seelie and Unseelie (Light and Dark), the tension at the Dark Dweller’s compound escalates even more as they prepare to obtain the Sword of Light—the only weapon able to kill the Queen. 

But is Ember the answer to the location of the sword? Is she the one to fulfill the prophecy? As usual nothing is ever what it seems.

Review

A copy of this book was dropped off on my doorstop on a dark and stormy night. The moon was full and the werewolves were howling. I didn't want to open my door, but my doorbell was ringing incessantly, so I thought maybe someone was in danger. When I opened the door, there was no one there, just this book banging against the buzzer. It was so weird. 

I didn't think it would be prudent to ignore the book for long considering how insistent it was to get in the front door in the first place, so I started reading it right away. Worst idea ever! I had nightmares for weeks after that, and I'd only read the first two pages. But then I started to get really confused, because apparently this is the third book in a series. Like why couldn't the creepy book that showed up out of nowhere have at least been the first book in the series. Really bad planning on the part of whoever enchanted the book in the first place. Unless this was part of a diabolical plan to get the book super low ratings, in which case it's brilliant. 

I really wanted to like this book because the cover is quite pretty, but like I said, it was confusing because it's the third book in the series and I have no idea what went on in this series up until now, and I don't really understand the creatures. Seriously, what the heck is an Unseelie? I just got no details. I even tried reading some reviews of the book to see if they could give me some insight, but all they'd say is "This book picked up where the last one left off." Well that's just great for those of us that aren't randomly sent copies on dark stormy nights, but what am I supposed to do? In the end, I just really couldn't get into this book, so I didn't like it at all. 

Overall I give this book 1/2 of 5 stars, only because I'm really not allowed to rate it a flat out 0. 

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About the Author

Stacey Marie Brown is a writer of hot fictional bad boys and sarcastic heroines who kick butt. She also enjoys books, travel, TV shows, hiking, writing, design, and archery. Stacey swears she is part gypsy, being lucky enough to live and travel all over the world.

She grew up in Northern California, where she ran around on her family’s farm, raising animals, riding horses, playing flashlight tag, and turning hay bales into cool forts. She volunteers helping animals and is eco-friendly. She feels all animals, people, and environment should be treated kindly.

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The Hazards of Skinny Dipping by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Title: The Hazards of Skinny Dipping
Author: Alyssa Rose Ivy
Genre: NA Romance
Published: May 17, 2013
Pages: 248
Goodreads

Synopsis

This isn't a deep book about first loves or self-discovery. If you want a book like that, I'd be happy to recommend one, but I don't have that kind of story to tell. Instead my story is about rash decisions and finding out that your dream guy is bad in bed. It's the story of when I finally went skinny dipping, and how my life was never the same again. Oh, and it's also the story of my freshman year of college and realizing Mr. Right might have been there all along.



Review

My mother gave me a copy of this book in high school (which is really weird since I graduated in 2002) because I was something of a wild child and I guess she hoped that this would curb my crazy tendencies. She apparently didn't read much past the title though, as she seemed to think that it was basically a self-help type book warning about the actual hazards of skinny dipping. Boy was she in for a surprise when this book just led me to more skinny dipping. 

Because instead of finding a cautionary tale inside these pages, I discovered a story that made the prospect of skinny dipping sound so much more exciting than my friends made it sound. The best part about skinny dipping according to my friends is that sometimes tiny fish swim into your nether regions, and I'm just not a big fan of that idea. But this book showed me that skinny dipping can lead to a horrible sexual experience with an actual living human being, which is so much better than tiny fish in my hoo-ha. 

I really related to Juliet in almost everything, except for almost everything described in this book. I pretty much never actually got to hook up with a guy I had a crush on, but on the bright side, I've also pretty much never had a bad sexual experience with a guy I had a crush on. And my first year of college? So boring it was barely worth remembering in the first place. 

Rating
Format: 7
Plot: 4
Character Names: 10
Overall Rating: 7 

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About the Author

Alyssa Rose Ivy is a New Adult and Young Adult author who loves to weave stories with romance and a southern setting. Although raised in the New York area, she fell in love with the South after moving to New Orleans for college. After years as a perpetual student, she turned back to her creative side and decided to write. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young children, and she can usually be found with a cup of coffee in her hand.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Presidential Intentions by Douglas J. Wood

Title: Presidential Intentions
Author: Douglas J. Wood
Genre: Political Fiction
Published: January 31, 2014
Pages: 294
Goodreads

Synopsis

An overachiever who is driven by an ambition to succeed, Samantha Harrison has set out to be the first woman president in United States history. With her devoted husband Ben behind her, she begins her campaign with Zachary Watts, a determined campaign manager with questionable ethics. As her campaign begins to take shape, Samantha is forced to deal with a crumbling home life as she continues her quest to hold the highest office in the land. Forced to decide what she's willing to lose to win, Samantha's choices will ultimately determine who's standing beside her in the end. Highlighting Samantha's personal conflicts and burning desire to win, Presidential Intentions creates a gripping political drama that examines the personal cost of realizing her dream. With an innocent naivety on the human capacity for evil and certain blindness to the things around her, Samantha might achieve her goal; however, she might never truly know what it costs her. A mesmerizing and thought-provoking look into the interior of U.S. politics, this complex novel has a lasting appeal that will keep readers thinking long after the book is through. Written for anyone interested in politics or the rise of women, Presidential Intentions appeals to political junkies everywhere as well as anyone immersed in women's issues in business and politics. The first book of its kind to profile a woman presidential candidate's life, this engrossing story tells the story of the sacrifice required in the quest to become the first woman president in American history.

Review

I heard that Hillary Clinton read this book as part of her preparation to run for president in 2016, so naturally I needed to get a copy for myself to prepare for my own political aspirations that I have yet to actually take any steps towards achieving, but that's beside the point. I'm sort of regretting that decision now that the election is over because clearly it didn't do anything to help Hillary out, but hindsight is always twenty twenty. 

As a running-for-president-as-a-woman how-to book, this absolutely freaking fails (see above). It does nothing to teach you how to be both strong and likable as a woman. It doesn't teach how to speak passionately about the issues you care about without being considered shrill or emotional. And it doesn't even touch on the subject of what to do when the opposition party has been running a 30 year smear campaign on you that some members of their base eat up like a big ol' plate of biscuits and sausage gravy. No, this book is about a perfectly likable woman whose husband just can't handle the fact that she's trying to do something important with her life. Talk about fragile male ego. You know if the tables were turned he would expect her to drop everything and support him whole-heartedly. 

And I can admit that my feelings about the book were absolutely skewed by the 2016 presidential race. Had I picked it up two years ago, I would not have felt as passionately about the events in Samantha's life, a feeling of unexplainable dread anchored in my gut throughout the whole story. I guess it was just poor timing on my part there. But I was still mostly disappointed because it sucked as a how-to book. 

Overall I give this 62 million votes for Trump stars. 

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About the Author

Douglas J. Wood is a partner in the law firm of Reed Smith LLP and has more than 35 years experience representing the entertainment and media industries, including individuals and multinational companies in motion picture, publishing, advertising, marketing, promotions, unfair competition, intellectual property, and e-commerce matters. Mr. Wood serves as legal adviser to several worldwide trade organizations and is General Counsel to the Association of National Advertisers and the Advertising Council. He is the chief negotiator for the United States advertising industry in labor relations and collective bargaining with SAG-AFTRA and the American Federation of Musicians, the unions representing actors and musicians who perform in commercials. He is also the founder and Chairman of the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (www.gala-marketlaw.com), a network of law firms located in more than 50 countries with expertise in advertising and marketing law.

Wood received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island and has three law degrees - a J.D. from the Franklin Pierce Law Center, a Master of Laws from New York University, and an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of New Hampshire - and is listed among the leading global specialists in advertising law in Chambers and the Legal 500 (2007 - 2012), selected for inclusion in the 2007 - 2012 editions of The Best Lawyers in America in the specialty of advertising law; and is listed in the 2007 - 2012 editions of Super Lawyers.

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The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: August 20, 2013
Pages: 481
Goodreads

Synopsis

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Review

I got a copy of this book in the mail, and while it was probably just a simple computer error or something, the postmark indicated that it was sent in January of 2061, but that's impossible because it's only 2017 now. 

I had a really hard time getting into this book at first, because I kept getting distracted by the excessive use of italics on words. It seemed like there was at least one word italicized on every single page, and some pages had more than one. I'm a big fan of using italics to add emphasis to words, but when you're italicizing that much, the emphasis disappears. 

But then I started to really pay attention to the italics, and I realized that they were part of a secret message. Someone is very clearly trying to warn us of dangers in the future. I don't want to give away the whole secret, because I don't want the powers that be to know that we're on to their plan, but there will be mime-crimes, epidemics, invasions, death, and safe insanity. Just be on the lookout for it, because it's coming y'all. This book says so in it's secret message. Once I realized that this book contained a secret message from the future, it got so much more engaging. 

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 future stars. 

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About the Author

Samantha Shannon was born and raised in West London. She started writing in abundance when she was twelve, started her first novel when she was fifteen, and studied English Language and Literature at St Anne's College, Oxford, from 2010 – 2013, graduating with a 2:1.

In 2013, she published The Bone Season, the internationally bestselling first installment in a seven-book series of fantasy novels. Its first sequel, The Mime Order, was published in 2015, and she's currently editing the third book in the series, The Song Rising. She is also working on a high fantasy novel. Film rights to the Bone Season are held by the Imaginarium Studios, Chernin Entertainment and 20th Century Fox.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

I Heart My Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert

Title: I Heart My Little A-Holes
Author: Karen Alpert
Genre: Nonfiction/Parenting
Published: April 8, 2014
Pages: 309
Goodreads

Synopsis

When your son wakes you up at 3:00 A.M. because he wants to watch Caillou, he’s an a-hole. When your daughter outlines every corner of your living room with a purple crayon, she’s an a-hole. When your rug rats purposely decorate the kitchen ceiling with their smoothies, they’re a-holes. So it’s only natural to want to kill them sometimes. Of course you can’t because you’d go to prison, and then you’d really never get to poop alone again. Plus, there’s that whole loving them more than anything in the whole world thing. Karen Alpert is the writer of the popular blog Baby Sideburns. You may have seen some of her more viral posts like “Ten Things I Really F’ing Want for Mother’s Day,” “Daddy Sticker Chart” and “What NOT to F’ing Buy My Kids this Holiday.” Or you may know her from her Facebook page that has over 130,000 followers. I Heart My Little A-Holes is full of hilarious stories, lists, thoughts and pictures that will make you laugh so hard you’ll wish you were wearing a diaper. 

Review

I was given a copy of this book at a super-belated baby shower my friends had for me (my youngest child was born in May of 2011, that's how late this baby shower was.) Apparently one of my friends thought I wasn't aware by that point that kids are assholes. I decided to read the book anyway though, to see why Ms. Alpert thinks kids are assholes. 

This book really resonated with me on a deep, spiritual level. Probably because "I'm going to kill her." "Make it look like an accident." gets said in my house on almost a daily basis for one reason or another. (Calm down, she's still alive for now.) Surprisingly, it almost never gets said about my son. (Which is probably why we decided to go ahead and have a second child in the first place. He lulled us into a false sense of security the punk.) But the point is, I absolutely get what K-Dawg is laying down in this book. 

I particularly enjoyed how Karen brought so much humor to all those little every day annoyances that go along with being a parent, and makes it seem like it's okay to hate it sometimes, because I do, I really do. Like when I've gone a week without showering because I can't trust my daughter not to scale the bookcase to get the scissors that are out of even my reach in order to slice her brand new pajamas to shreds if left unsupervised, and by the time my husband gets home and we eat dinner, I'm just too exhausted to possibly stand up for the time it would take to wash my hair. 

So if you are a mom who is at her wits end, I highly suggest you read this book. You'll still be at your wits end, but at least you'll be able to laugh about it. 

I give this book 7 glasses of wine. 

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About the Author

Karen is the ridiculously hairy, self-deprecating writer of the popular blog Baby Sideburns. You may have seen a few of her more viral posts like "What NOT to F'ing buy my kids this holiday" and "Caillou sucks so bad, here's another blog about why I hate him." She spent fifteen years working for national advertising agencies until she was promoted to her newest favorite job— Mommy. She lives with her two amazing kiddos and a very forgiving husband who is kind enough not to call her Cousin It when she undresses for bed every night.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Title: The Art of War
Author: Sun Tzu
Genre: Nonfiction Classics
Published: 500 BCE
Pages: 273
Goodreads

Synopsis

Conflict is an inevitable part of life, according to this ancient Chinese classic of strategy, but everything necessary to deal with conflict wisely, honorably, victoriously, is already present within us. Compiled more than two thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior-philosopher, The Art of War is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world, as eagerly studied in Asia by modern politicians and executives as it has been by military leaders since ancient times. As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict, The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict.

(Original publication date was circa 500 BCE.)

Review

So I bought this book thinking that it was going to be a picture book, with like, lots of photos of old wars and stuff. I was totally expecting to see bloody battlefields after skirmishes between the Chinese and the Mongolians and stuff (obviously this Sun Tzu guy wouldn't have been drawing pictures of battles in Europe because that would be a super far distance to travel that long ago.) But there were almost no pictures at all. It's actually a book about how to wage war. Which is the silver lining. 

You see, now that I've read this book, I am far better prepared to defeat my arch nemesis, Joood - Hooligan. I am now in a position to not only get inside her head to psych her out mentally, but also to destroy her relationships with others so that she will become a pariah. And it all boils down to knowing her weaknesses (which I now know exactly how to discover with minimal effort). By the time I am done with her, you'll be like "Joood who?" 

So if you're looking for a picture book, I do not recommend this. But if you want to destroy your enemies, by all means, read this book. 

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About the Author

Sun Tzu is thought to have been a military general and adviser to the king of the southern Chinese state of Wu during the sixth century BCE. Although some modern scholars have called his authorship into doubt, the world's most influential and enduring treatise on military strategy, The Art of War, bears his name.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Title: A Confederacy of Dunces
Author: John Kennedy Toole
Genre: Humor
Published: 1980
Pages: 417
Goodreads

Synopsis

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs."

Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole's tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces. This 30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge. ("Speeding along in that bus was like hurtling into the abyss.") But Ignatius's quiet life of tyrannizing his mother and writing his endless comparative history screeches to a halt when he is almost arrested by the overeager Patrolman Mancuso--who mistakes him for a vagrant--and then involved in a car accident with his tipsy mother behind the wheel. One thing leads to another, and before he knows it, Ignatius is out pounding the pavement in search of a job.

Over the next several hundred pages, our hero stumbles from one adventure to the next. His stint as a hotdog vendor is less than successful, and he soon turns his employers at the Levy Pants Company on their heads. Ignatius's path through the working world is populated by marvelous secondary characters: the stripper Darlene and her talented cockatoo; the septuagenarian secretary Miss Trixie, whose desperate attempts to retire are constantly, comically thwarted; gay blade Dorian Greene; sinister Miss Lee, proprietor of the Night of Joy nightclub; and Myrna Minkoff, the girl Ignatius loves to hate. The many subplots that weave through A Confederacy of Dunces are as complicated as anything you'll find in a Dickens novel, and just as beautifully tied together in the end. But it is Ignatius--selfish, domineering, and deluded, tragic and comic and larger than life--who carries the story. He is a modern-day Quixote beset by giants of the modern age. His fragility cracks the shell of comic bluster, revealing a deep streak of melancholy beneath the antic humor. John Kennedy Toole committed suicide in 1969 and never saw the publication of his novel. Ignatius Reilly is what he left behind, a fitting memorial to a talented and tormented life.

Review

I found a copy of this book in the pocket of a pair of Levi jeans that I bought used at a thrift store. How the heck the previous owner got the book into the pocket, I do not know, but that's where it was. I figured I might as well read it since I had it. 

This book was almost like a modern day Canterbury Tales, with only one character telling stories. The language was far easier to understand than Canterbury Tales as well, thank god, or I might never have been able to finish it. Honestly, you'd think Chaucer didn't even know how to speak English with the way he wrote, just a whole bunch of gibberish that he tried to pass of as English. How anyone could ever understand that I don't know. 

Back to Confederacy of Dunces though. The adventures of Ignatius often left me cringing. Some of the scrapes he got himself into were almost too painful to read about for me because they may or may not have mirrored my own life just a little too much at times. I may or may not have been mistaken for a vagrant a time or two in my younger days, and I can certainly relate to how hard slinging wienies can be. But the book was also like a train wreck, I just couldn't look away. I needed to know what kind of mess Ignatius would get himself into next. I just had to. 

Overall I give A Confederacy of Dunces two thumbs up. 

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About the Author

John Kennedy Toole was an American novelist from New Orleans, Louisiana, best known for his novel A Confederacy of Dunces.

Toole's novels remained unpublished during his lifetime. Some years after his death by suicide, Toole's mother brought the manuscript of A Confederacy of Dunces to the attention of the novelist Walker Percy, who ushered the book into print. In 1981 Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

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