Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Review: Lahkoni

LakhoniLakhoni by Jared Garrett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hold on to your butts, folks! Lakhoni has it all: Courage, action, mystery, vengeance, angst, and edge-of-your-seat suspense!

Open on Lahkoni, injured and assumed deceased, in the middle of the devastation of his home village. Alronna, his sister, has been taken by the perpetrators. Drawing from the courage and strength just building inside him, Lahkoni must take a journey of adventure, danger, intrigue and revenge. The genre this book would best fit into is a hero’s journey.

Heads up: this is not the happily ever after you might want - this does have a cliff hanger ending, in preparation for the next book. So don’t be upset - I warned you!

As I don’t like to spoil anything, I’ll just tell you about Lahkoni. He is spirited, loving, passionate and young. But he is also endowed with a private reserve of strength, tenacity and will to go on. Every obstacle he encounters is met with the same tenacity and courage. One would be hard put to not like this hero.

I also loved Shimra - the village healer’s daughter who Lahkoni develops a fancy for. I do hope she is in the next installment!

Only negatives: The setting is not specifically explained, but the villages are “primitive” and I pictured it somewhere in early central Americas. And also, this was not my normal book genre, but I wanted to try it out.

Audience: Young adults, adults who like adventures, fans of vengeance stories and plot twists.

Note: I received this product free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. 

Purchase your copy today! 

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review: Stories of Love and Weight




Stories of Love and Weight by Adi Tsin Ben-Nun

As a curvy woman who struggles with her own self worth and body image, I came into this book with hope of confidence building. And I wasn’t disappointed.

This book is a collection of stories about how people can view themselves in everyday life. It talks of how weight warps the self image, and can cause failure and pain. I found it insightful and could easily see myself in the shoes of storytellers.

Sometimes, this even touched a nerve, but I powered through and ultimately gained the power behind the message: you are not alone. And the additional, empowering message - we can get through this.

I recommend this for any person struggling with body image and in need of support. I also recommend it for anyone with a loved one who suffers from these issues.

Note: I received this product free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Check it out!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review: Dana Sibilsky's Tips to Successful and Profitable Blogging


This book is an excellent start to discuss the beginnings of using Social Media to get your blogging underway. It is geared to those wanting to blog for a living. It has great hints and is conversational. Some of the points are a bit conservative for today's social media, but still appreciated.

Check it out on Audible!

Note: I received this product free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Review: The Sorcery Code

The Sorcery Code (The Sorcery Code, #1)The Sorcery Code by Dima Zales
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first book review foray into the world of fantasy, and I couldn't have started with a better book. Should you crave a little wizarding world escape, ala a grown-up auror Harry Potter, then The Sorcery Code is the book for you. Not only do you get to wander around in the new land where sorcery rules, but add in a polarizing social class where non-magical folk are exploited and ignored. And let the drama ensue.

I really enjoyed the story arcs in this book, and especially the character interactions. The only thing that would have made it better was a longer book with more character development than we already saw. But fear not - there is a sequel!

Gala is not my favorite character, but it is undeniable that she is the titular character in the book and ultimately a strong feminine lead. Gala is a being born of the Spirit Realm (the parallel universe to the real world where all magic resides) that is created by a great, hermit of a wizard, Blaise. And she is similar to any other newborn - innocent, curious and confused. But as we learn more about her, and her special talents, we start to see the world and its injustices through her eyes.

My Gala - Cate Blanchett


Gala's creator and protector, Blaise, has been self-exiled from the Sorcery Council, due to the loss of his brother. What I love about Blaise is his sense of justice and right. Despite danger to his person and reputation, he always seems to champion the right cause, not the popular cause. And for this - and his brilliant, magical mind, he makes this book an excellent read.

My Blaise - Joseph Fiennes


I try not to spoil the plot in my reviews, so I won't here. But I will say there is some violence, some injustice and even some frustratingly silly plot twists which is the reason for 4, not 5 stars. Overall though, the book is entertaining, quickly engaging, and will keep you wanting to read the sequel. And it will scratch your magical itch very well!

I received this book free of charge, in return for a honest and fair review.
#SorceryCode


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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: The Forbidden Queen

The Forbidden QueenThe Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time to delve into my old favorite: historical fiction...

I stumbled upon The Forbidden Queen when I was hunting in Overdrive for something different to read from my latest kick of Austen-inspired Regency romance and smoldering modern novel series. I wanted something that reminded me of my obsession since my pre-teens - early English Monarchy. And who wouldn't want to learn about a forbidden queen?

Admittedly a big fan of Philippa Gregory and Jean Plaidy, I was interested to delve into this book by Anne O'Brien. And I wasn't in any way disappointed!

This historical romance is based around Katherine (or Catherine) of Valois, a french princess from the 14th century who became Queen of England through a fluke of a marriage. Even more importantly to many, she also became mother to the Tudor dynasty, to which even today's English monarchy can trace their roots back. Now, just an FYI - I'm a bit history obsessed, so this review is going talk of the book, and history behind it. I also plan to spoil a bit of the story. If that isn't your thing, you might wanna find another review to read.

{Spoiler Alert}

Katherine of Valois (by Silvester Harding, 1792)


We are introduced to a very young and starved (literally and emotionally) young princess Katherine, running around her royal home in rags. Not what you picture for a child of the top class, but unfortunately, madness ran in her family and her father was most affected by it. Katherine, along with her sister Margaret, were ignored by both mother (reported floozy and adulterer) and father (mentally ill). No love in her life greatly influences Katherine, causing her to become unsure, nervous and needy. Her life becomes structured (in a convent) and strict, despite her need for affection and care. It is a sad, sad story that was sadly true of the real Katherine.

Henry V (by unknown artist, before 1923)


From here, a hero appears. Henry V, the hero of England, king that has been slaughtering her French kinsmen in the Hundred Years War, offers for her hand in marriage. Even among the honor and splendor, Katherine finds that she is the last pick from her family, and worse, that there is a price for her marriage. Still, the poor love-starved girl finds Henry handsome, compelling and even kind. But that cannot last for this sweet soul.

The Marriage of Henry and Catherine (by Jean Chartier, 1490)


Katherine's search for love is not ended in the "happily ever after", fairy tale royal wedding. Not only is she a foreigner whisked into England without a friend in site, but she is mostly tolerated by her king husband, as his ambitions and visions of a united England and France are his sole focus. Once again abandoned, you can't help but feel for the sorry position of the new queen. Despite all this, she has this hidden strength that I love to see written into historical figures we know little about. I'm sure she was strong - for she survived the sudden death of her husband and managed to raise her son to be the next King of England. All this, in the very face of villains that would plot to hold her virtual prisoner and bind her will every way they could. Still, Queen Katherine would not break.

Queen Katherine (by Catarina Carol, 1446)


I won't even touch on Edmund because that whole part of the story is why this is a four star and not a five star review. Not that I blame the author for writing about the worthless coward, but no one can truly love Edmund Beaufort, once his serpant-in-the-grass motivations are revealed. What can I say about this man, other than, "Once a Beaufort, always a Beaufort."

Owen Tudor (from the BBC iWonder site)


At last, my favorite character. From the first mention of Owen Tudor, I was intrigued. I must note here that, before reading this book, I had not deeply explored this far back into the Tudor line. I believe the farthest back I had gone was Henry VII. But after my beloved Welshman Owen Tudor (or Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudor) appeared in the picture, I scampered off to Google so I could read more on the real man.

The Owen Tudor of this novel is proud, respectful, dutiful, and solemn. But he is also loyal, loving, fierce and passionate. And for poor Katherine, so unloved for most of her life, this is the ultimate appeal (that and his hot bod - LOL). Very little is known about the real Owen, but I love how Anne O'Brien develops him into this hero that Katherine first thought Henry V to be. And through this, grows a love that will spawn the beginning of a dynasty that will last through the years.

Tudor Family Tree (from the English Monarchs site)


The writing in this novel is compelling, and drives the reader to not want to put it down - the marks of a good novel. The historical references are good, most of the research sound, but the most compelling part of the book for me is the characterizations of these well-known historical figures that we know very little about personally. That makes this book well worth the read. And then go read about the true history to add to your fun!

Next, we tackle a new type of novel review for me - fantasy!

For more on the history behind The Forbidden Queen, please follow the links by the pictures. I don't recommend Wikipedia (which can be faulty by its very nature) for the full truth behind the history, but as an overall summary, it isn't bad.


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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Review: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock StarFitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a love letter to one of my favorite modern retellings of Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star. I've seen all the negative reviews, and I can't understand it. To me, this story is raw and emotional, and the dream of every Austenite out there - a shirtless, rock star version of our favorite heart-throb! Still - to each their own I suppose...

Just a little background: I first read this years ago on Austen Interlude, a fan-fiction site for Austen books. At that time, the story was called "Slurry" (personally I prefer the old title but I understand why it had to be changed for the published book. In addition, there are a lot of differences between the fan-fiction story and the book, some of which take a lot away from the story. First - the fan-fiction featured songs from established, real bands and artists such as Michelle Branch, Sheryl Crow, and Puddle of Mudd. In a way, this allowed the reader to better grasp the characters. When Lizzie sang, it was Sheryl Crow's bluesy tone I heard in my head. When Charles belted out the BDSM-based song, I heard Hoobastank rocking out. Now, in the book, it would have been too costly to license the song lyrics, so Heather Lynn Rigaud did her best in writing original lyrics to the songs. It was a valiant attempt, but fans of the fan-fiction felt the disconnect.

So on to the characters!

Meet Longbourne Suffering, an up and coming female rock group picked by the most famous rock band in the world to tour with them.

Lizzie is the guitarist and backup singer. She has her own songs and sound, not to mention her typical sass. This Lizzie is very prejudiced and insecure. She constantly is on her guard and looking for fault in the male members of Slurry - specifically Will Darcy. I personally believe she is envious of Darcy's skill and in awe of him. There is a hidden strength in her, but it takes the love of her life to bring it to the fore.

My Lizzie - Michelle Branch


Jane is what you expect: a sweet, adorable, optimistic lead singer, constantly seeing the good in people. But what we find in this Jane is also a depth you rarely see in P&P adaptations. She is willing to stand her ground. Most of all, when the happiness of her family and her friends is threatened. She might be a damsel-in-distress at one point, but she is also a tigress willing to defend her cubs.

My Jane - Avril Lavigne


The black sheep, Charlotte, is a surprising twist from the original spinster we are introduced to in Austen's work. The colorful (both in personality, attitude and physical appearance) drummer seems at first to be the sensible glue to hold together her band. But we soon see the chink in her emotional armor, and a melancholy that lurks beneath. This version of Charlotte is probably one of my favorites, due to her depth and her humor.

My Charlotte - Mary Elizabeth Winstead


~~~*~~~


Meet the bad boys of rock, the legendary Slurry. The top of the charts, these boys have a bad rep and no luck on retaining an opening act.

The child-prodigy, moody lead guitarist - the title character of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Jaded and judgmental, withdrawn and a surprising home-body, Darcy is a conundrum. He is what you expect of Darcy - dark, brooding and a true proficient. With a backstory to make you ache for him, Darcy is, as ever, misunderstood, foolish and fast-tempered. But who can help but love him?

My Will - John Mayer



Golden-haired, surfer boy turned lead singer, Charles is the glue of this band. He is the newest member, having replaced a certain villain (guess who?). He also is sweet, innocent and sexy as all hell. Good natured and fast to fall in love, Charles is amazingly lovable from beginning to end. He is however, too trusting, too willing to please. And he learns his lesson the hard way.

My Charles - Jared Leto



Oh Richard. Sexy Sexy drummer god. Good lord, this version of Darcy's cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, is the most damaged and most appealing version of the character I have read. He's funny, irreverent, self-depricating, and so very lost. His wild roller coaster ride through this saga is angst-ridden and dangerous. You know how they say - sex, drugs and rock'n'roll? That phrase defines Richard Fitzwilliam.

My Richard - David Silveria



The story-line is simple enough - Slurry needs an opening band and selects Longbourne Suffering to go on their US Tour with them. Rock and Roll is not what you expect however. Nor is the close confines of a tour bus or the cramped backstage.

{SPOILER ALERT}

Wickham is absolutely despicable in this version. Not only is he a drugged-up philanderer, but he also is a child molester. Ugh, I get skived out thinking about him.

As I said above, the engagement with the story is more extensive in the fan-fiction story. However, I was still drawn in regardless (probably because I love SLURRY!). Anyone who loves to glimpse into the raw side of being a glamorous rock star will like this book. As will lovers of angst and romance.

My personal thanks to Heather Lynn Rigaud, for giving the world this tale. It needed to be told.

Next review... I go way back. Queens, intrigue and heartache!

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: What Would Mr. Darcy Do?

What Would Mr Darcy Do?What Would Mr Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I delved back into the Regency period with What Would Mr Darcy Do?. As one of Abigail Reynolds earlier books, I wanted to compare it to Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation which I greatly enjoyed recently (for my review, click here).

Ms. Reynold's skill in writing our favorite couple is, as always, excellent. She writes a passionate Darcy, always more real and earthy than the Darcy portrayed in Austen's novels. This isn't a criticism. Austen wrote as a woman of her time would - an unmarried woman at that. Despite sticking with the Regency lingo and customs (for the most part), the authoress of this book brings the characters closer to the reader of the modern era. In addition, Elizabeth is more vulnerable and more flawed. I like a Lizzy where you can see the cracks in her excellent wit, and underneath, an uncertain woman we can all relate to. Even Georgiana is extremely lovable and accessible in this novel - not just a figurehead to be lamented.

I try not to spoil in my reviews, so I will not say more about the plot. However, this is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice - do not expect too many wild turns. The romance is even too sappy at times, but after some of the angsty things I've read lately, it was good to wallow in the sweet williams and forget-me-nots.

Sweet William, Forget Me Not, Convulvus And A Canary On A Ledge, 1836


The only reason my rating was not higher, was I found that I was left a little bored, as the characters came to an understanding too soon. But then, I'm an angst-glutton, even when I'm taking a break.

Overall, this book is a well-written, fun romp, back into the wilds of Derbyshire and the countryside of Meryton.

On to a revisit to possibly my favorite Darcy ever written - one in only leather pants!


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