Monday, January 28, 2013

Chenda and the Airship Brofman

Today's post is on 'Chenda and the Airship Brofman' by Emilie P. Bush. It is an independently published by the author. It is 315 pages long. The cover is white with outline of a woman dressed in a steampunky way. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- When Wealth and Charm Fail... An Airship and the Gods Prevail!
Chanda Frost happily lived as a spectator in her own life until her husband Edison, a recluse war hero, was murdered. Caught in a mystery about her destiny, she boards an airship with Geologist Candice Mortimer for an adventure in the air, across a desert, through a mountain and under the sea. Along the way she loses everything she's ever known but gains true friendship and a formidable gift from the gods.

Review- Okay first things first. Bush is an independent author, I know that some people look down on them. Unfortunately this book does nothing to help indie authors and books. The plot is not bad. Really it is okay but it needs help. The whole book needs help. Bush wants to do something big and great to make her name as an author but as she was writing and (I think) editing this book she did some mistakes. Now I cannot prove this but I do not believe that she had someone edit her book who does not care about how she feels. Now I do not mean in the way 'Oh this is another human being with feelings and a life and so on and so forth'. I mean someone who is willing to tell her where the problems in the book are. The biggest problem in the book is word choice. Normally I would never question an author's right to have anything in their books that they want but in this case I do. The reasons are these. The setting to be a victorian-like steampunk world, so some words would not be in the character's dialog. For example when Chenda has a vision and her husband visits her to help with some plot questions he kisses her. No problem but when the two other main male characters are asking her about this they describe it as 'Yummy sounds.' Just let that sink in. Bush does that very bad word choice happen again and again. Next problem she uses contractions in description paragraphs. Never, ever use contractions in the non-dialog parts of the story. Ever. Next Chenda gets too much power. By that I mean she is a human god by the end of the book. It is plot based but it is just too much and she does nothing for this power. It is her literally god given right. Not good. But I think that again is because Bush is trying to make herself known by doing something too big too soon. Bush is just trying too hard and it shows. I want to like this book but I really cannot. There are too many mistakes. In addition I truly feel that this is a Mary Sue. Everyone loves the heroine. The only people we meet who do not are only on scene for just a moment to try and kill her, fail, and then die for trying. I feel bad about this review, I really do; but if I said anything less or else I would be lying. As always, dear reader, do not take my word for it. Go to amazon or your library and read it for yourself. I may just not be the intended reader or have the needed mindset to enjoy this book.

I give this one star because it really needs help. I get nothing for this review and I bought this book. Sadly.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Today's post is on 'Pandemonium' by Lauren Oliver and it is book two in her dystopian series the first one being ' 'Delirium' from the same publishers.. It is published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. It is 375 pages long. The intended reader is Young Adult but anyone who likes a dystopian setting should enjoy this series. There is no language or sex for parents to be worried about. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- I'm pushing aside the memory of my nightmare, pushing aside thoughts of Alex, pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school, push, push, push, like Raven taught me to do. The old life is dead. But the old Lena is dead too. I buried her. I left her beyond a fence, behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Review- I know that the blurb for this one is very little so I will have to make-up some here in my review. After a terrible war the new government in the USA has decided that all problems come from emotions in particular from love or as it is not called amor deliria nervosa. Everyone over the age of 18 has the cure given to them. Then they are free from all emotions; good and bad. In the first book Lena wants nothing more than to be safe and that means cured. In the second book she is now fighting for America's freedom from being cured. The way that this book is told is very interesting because it jumps from the present to the past so we see how Lena changed from who she was into she is at the beginning of the book. The writing is strong but Oliver is a professional and it shows. It is told from first-person so the reader is trapped in her eyes but this is a bad thing here. Because we see things only from Lena's perspective some of the twists in the plot are surprises to us too. Lena is not only the main character she is really the best character in the book. Oliver has the reader caring when she is in dangerous places and the darkness is more present in this second novel than the first.

I give this book Four stars; it is a good, solid second book in a trilogy and I will read that last one in the series which is Requiem. I am getting nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my library.

Monday, January 21, 2013

October Mourning

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
Today’s Non-Fiction post is on “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard” by Lesléa Newman. It is 112 pages long including notes, explanation of poetic forms, and resources at the end of the volume. The cover is a scene from the area where Shepard was beaten; it is in tired colors of tan, white and blue. There is a fence stretching across it and going to the back of the book. This book can be read by anyone over the age of about sixteen. There is language, talk of the violence that killed Shepard, sex, and other adult themes. So parents read this with your young adults and talk with them about it. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was lured from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. Gay Awareness Week was beginning at the University of Wyoming, and the keynote speaker was Lesléa Newman, discussing her book Heather Has Two Mommies. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience that gathered, but she remained haunted by Matthew’s murder. October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. More than a decade later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember, and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life.

Review- I admit that I was jaded coming in to reading this. The author’s information at the back was all about what awards she has won, what books she has written, and at the bottom it says she works closely with the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Yes I read author’s bios if I do not know the author. I thought that she was just using a horrible tragedy to make more renown for herself. I do not think that now. Newman was going to speak to Shepard’s group the day before he was attacked. She walked into a storm of grief and fear. I cried while reading this. I remember when this attack happened. The way that Newman helps the reader connect with the fear, pain, grief, and loss of Matthew is beautiful. The only thing I would change would be the author’s bio because it feels that Newman is ringing her own bell. I understand that is something that all authors (no matter what of) have to do but I, personally, do not think that this book is the place to do it. Read this book and think about your gay friends, co-workers, or family. I saw my close gay friends when Newman talked about how Matthew was strung up to die alone. It broke my heart. There is no resolution in this book but that is because there is no resolution in the real world either.

I give this book Five out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book to review for an assignment in graduate school.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Today's post is on 'Spellcast' by Barbara Ashford. It is published by DAW which is an imprint of Penguin Group. It is 433 pages long. The cover has a very nice picture of a barn with theatre curtains in the doorway. The cover did not really draw me to the book it was the title, I just love it. The intended reader is 16+ because of some sex scenes, nothing really bad, but just something you need to be aware of. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Maggie Graham was having a very bad summer... First, she lost her job. Then the bathroom ceiling in her Brooklyn apartment collapsed. That was when Maggie decided it was time to run away from home for a while. A weekend in Vermont sounded  like the perfect getaway. Spying a road sign for the township of Hillandale, she impulsively took the exit, and randomly turned left towards Dale. For some reason the area felt familiar, especially the bog white barn she passed on the way to town. And, as though everything about this journey was somehow preordained, Maggie ended up auditioning for and being offered a job in the summer stock company of the Crossroads Threate- housed in that white barn outside of town. As it turned out she was practically the only person in the cast with previous acting credits. But none of her professional experience could prepare her for the magic that was about to happen on the stage of this big old barn, or for the theatre's unorthodox staff, especially its moody and mysterious director....

Review- Just a warning about this book; it is a character piece. The plot is secondary to the characters and their development. That is a good thing to me but I really like to watch characters be more than just the way that the plot moves. The plot is very neat, with good twists and good reveals, but the characters are why you would read this book. Other things that I liked about this book- I liked have a chapter page with all the chapters and interludes listed; I like that all the chapter titles are from musicals; I like that the ending is not Happily Ever After (or for those in the know a HEA). The reason why Maggie was called to the theatre is interesting and the hero Rowan is very mysterious but once again I am shown why I would never be a romance heroine. I am far too practical. The second that some person, I don't care who, starts giving me the hot and cold treatment I am out the door. Not that Rowan is so bad, he is not, it is just more of a me thing. Maggie is looking for answers to some very big questions and in the end she forgives the people in her life for the choices that they made. Maggie grows from someone who is afraid to really look at herself to someone who can see why her life is like it is at the start of the book. Ashford does not rush that. We, the readers, are with Maggie as she discovers the truth about herself and the theatre too.

I give Spellcast a solid Four and a Half stars. I was not given anything for my review, I bought this book with my own money and I'm still jobless.

Monday, January 14, 2013

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist--the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist--the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England
Today’s Non-Fiction post is on “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist--the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England” by Daniel Pool. It is 416 pages long, including a glossary for terms, a bibliography, and an index. It is published by Simon & Schuster in 1993. The cover is very colorful with pictures of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens each on one side of the cover. The intended reader is someone who wants to understand more about the 19th century and to better understand how the writers of that time lived. There is nothing offensive in this book so if you have a student reading those great works of writing; have no fear about them reading this to better understand the novels. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- For every frustrated reader of the great nineteenth-century English novels of Austen, Trollope, Dickens, or the Brontës who has ever wondered whether a duke outranked an earl, when to yell "Tally Ho!" at a fox hunt, or how one landed in "debtor's prison," here is a "delightful reader's companion that lights up the literary dark" (The New York Times). This fascinating, lively guide clarifies the sometimes bizarre maze of rules, regulations, and customs that governed everyday life in Victorian England. Author Daniel Pool provides countless intriguing details (did you know that the "plums" in Christmas plum pudding were actually raisins?) on the Church of England, sex, Parliament, dinner parties, country house visiting, and a host of other aspects of nineteenth-century English life -- both "upstairs" and "downstairs." An illuminating glossary gives at a glance the meaning and significance of terms ranging from "ague" to "wainscoting," the specifics of the currency system, and a lively host of other details and curiosities of the day

Review- Pool knows his stuff. I was an English major and I wish that I had read this when I was an undergraduate. Pool explains everything from money to servants in good, simple English. It is a refreshing read because it helped me answer questions that I had about pretty much all of the 19th literature that I have read. He does not give plot synopsis of the novels but he gets the nit-picky parts of the novels. He does this but explaining everything. He moves from the ‘greater world’ to the ‘private world’. Now it is dry in parts mostly when he is giving an overlook of a new topic, like when he is explaining the servants in a household. He gives an overview then he goes into a more detailed and more interesting in-depth view of what is a housemaid. The Glossary in the back is a hundred and thirty-six pages long. In it Pool gives definitions for everything from Abigail- A lady’s maid to everything from Abigail- A lady’s maid to our Worship- The correct form of address to a magistrate, e.g., a justice of the peace. So if you are going to be taking a 19th century lit course or just want to understand more about some of your favorite novels then this is the book for you.

I give this one Five out of Five. I get nothing from this review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blood Lite 3: Aftertaste

Blood Lite III by Kevin J. AndersonToday's post is on 'Blood Lite 3: Aftertaste' edited by Kevin J Anderson. It is published by Pocket books which is an imprint of Simon & Schuster. It is 513 pages long with 30 authors contributing to the stories. The intended reader is adult and young adult horror lovers but most of the stories are funny with horror elements. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Sink you teeth into a smorgasbord of macabre morsels laced with horrific humor in the all-new Blood Lite collection! Whether you shriek with laughter or scream in fear... well, that's simply a matter of taste. Jim Butcher's wizardly PL Harry Dresden pranks some high-tech monster seekers- and attempts to save a friend's son whose life-energy is slowly being drained by an unknown adversary in "I Was a Teenage Bigfoot." The Author from Hell has dropped dead, but a stress-out editor is harassed by her emails from beyond the grave in Sherrilyn Kenyon's "A Day in the Life." The flesh is weak- and possible even rotting- as a teenage virgin werewolf discovers on a visit to a brothel in Kelley Armstrong's "V Plates." Murder comes alive in "Mannequin," by Heather Graham, as two thrill-seeking couples "axe" for trouble at a B&B with a bloody history.

Review- I enjoyed this collection. It was funny, the writing was spot-on, and all the stories were entertaining. I did not find any of the stories to be scary so have no fear about that. There are stories with zombies, ghosts, vampires and werewolves. I normally do not like zombies stories but my favorite is "Blood-Red Greens" which is  a zombie story. It is just a normal zombie story but the twist at the end is just so great and funny. Really all the zombie stories are funny. I think that everyone is tired of reading 'scary' zombies stories so Anderson had funny ones in this collection. If you have never read an anthology the first and last stories are seen as the most powerful because they are given places of honor in the book. Blood Lite 3 starts with Butcher, which is a funny, fun, and fast read and ends with The Four Horsemen Reunion Tour: An Apocumentary by Lucien Soulban. It is a very strong ending story about the four horsemen of the apocalypse. I have just picked up the first two anthologies and am looking forward to reading them.

My personal rating is five stars but don't take my word for it. Go and read it for yourself. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Purity Myth

The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young WomenToday’s Non-Fiction post is "The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women” by Jessica Valenti. It is 263 pages long including notes, resources and discussion questions. It is published by Seal Press. The intended reader is someone interested in how to change the world for young women so I think that anyone could read this book. There is no foul language in this book or any sexual language; it is just about what women have to face in this world today. The cover is very simple with one white daisies and one petal less stem on it. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- The United States is obsessed with virginity — from the media to schools to government agencies. In The Purity Myth Jessica Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women. Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, Valenti reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes — ranging from abstinence curriculum to “Girls Gone Wild” infomercials — place a young woman’s worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti sheds light on the value — and hypocrisy — around the notion that girls remain virgin until they’re married by putting into context the historical question of purity, modern abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex. The Purity Myth presents a revolutionary argument that girls and women are overly valued for their sexuality, as well as solutions for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity.

Review- In my continuing education on feminism I am learning so much. This book is about something that I have thought for years. Namely that virginity is over-rated. Valenti puts into words what I have silently thought for years. That here in this world, not just America, a woman’s value is based on how much sex she is or is not having. Valenti examines this from many different angles from purity balls, where daughters promise their virginity to their fathers, to abstinence-only education in schools. She helped me put into words what I struggled with for years to find words for. In whole book is about how women are only important as sexual objects for men. Everything comes back to that topic and I, personally, believe that she is right. Valenti discusses how abstinence-only sex education is not helping America’s youth (both male and female) because it does not give truthful information about sex or reproduction itself. The chapter about the purity balls was just creepy. Here is a sample from Generation of Light, Purity pledge, from

I, [daughter’s name]’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband, and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide, and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.

Just the thought of my father saying anything like that about me makes me sick to stomach. I am not saying that men should not be involved in their children’s lives but that it just really creepy. I read it to my spouse and he was creeped out by it. The only problem I had with this book is that Valenti was not able to keep politics totally out of it and I think that feminism is more that politics. No way am I saying that sex is not an important emotional thing that anyone should have before they are ready and neither is Valenti. We both are just saying that the right to have sex is something that a woman should decide for herself and not society choosing for her. The notes at the back of the book include a list of places that teens and parents can go to for more information about sex, pregnancy, and STD's. Please do not be afraid of this book because she is talking about sex but read it because Valenti giving very good information that really needs to be talked about.

I give Four out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Black Dust Mambo

Today's post is on 'Black Dust Mambo' by Adrain Phoenix. It is published by Pocket Books which is an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. It is 368 pages long. The intended reader is an adult who likes urban fantasy. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- "There will be times, girl, when all your magic ain't going to be enough, times it will seem to dry up like mud under the noonday sun, or even make matters worse...".
Kallie Riviere, a fiery Cajun hoodoo apprentice with a talent for trouble, finds herself smack-dab in the middle of one of those times her mentor warned her about when she visits New Orleans to attend the Hecatean Alliance's annual carnival: her hard-bodied conjurer hookup ends up dead in her blood-drenched bed. And he was killed by something that Kallie would never dream of touching- the darkest of dark juju, soul-eating juju- a black dust hex that may have been meant to kill her.
Now Kallie has to use every bit of hoodoo knowledge and bayou-bred mojo she possesses to clear her own name and find the killer- even as that dark sorcerer hunts Kallie and her friends. But Kallie's search for the truth soon leads her in a direction she never anticipated- back home to Bayou Cypres Noir, and to Gabrielle LaRue, Kallie's aunt, protector, and hoodoo mentor... who is looking more and more like she just might be the one who wants Kallie dead.

Review- I really enjoyed this book. The characters were fun and interesting. Phoenix starts the book with a bang and she carries it all the through the rest of the tale. It is the first in a new series. Kallie is the one who we mainly follow with the tale, she is very self-aware and thinks about her actions during the story. I like that in my main characters. For example she thinks about the fact that she is attracted to Layne when she had just been with his best friend, who died in her place at the beginning of the story. Kallie thinks about what is going on around her. Phoenix also makes good use of time in her tale. The whole thing takes place in about twelfth hours. The reader feels the time passing slowly or at least I was aware of how much time had passed from the beginning of the story to the end. That I think goes back to Kallie's awareness in the story because she thinks about things. For a character who gets in about seven fights over the course of the book she is very introspective. The story is in third person and we even get to spend time in the villain heads. The why of the villain's reason is good but do not trust it there is more going here than meets the eye. Even the villain does not know everything that they think they do. The last twist is very good. It makes all the actions of the villain even more tragic than more.

I give this a solid Four out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Everything bad is good for you

Everything Bad is Good for You
For my first book review of the New Year I have “Everything Bad Is Good For You How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter” by Steven Johnson. It was published in 2005 by Riverhead Books. It is 238 pages long including notes, further readings, and acknowledgments. The cover has a man standing with a TV for a head and is a deep red. The intended reader is adult but not because of content or language but because you need to have some basic knowledge about the world in order to understand it. I think that an intelligent teenager could read this and not have any problems. The writing style is a little odd because Johnson does talk to the reader at points in the book but just flow with the narrative and you should be fine. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the duct jacket- Forget everything you’ve ever read about the age of dumbed-down, instant-gratification culture. In this provocative, unfailingly intelligent, thoroughly researched, and surprisingly convincing book, Steven Johnson draws from fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics, and media theory to argue that the pop culture we soak in every day—from Lord of the Rings to Grand Theft Auto to The Simpsons—has been growing more sophisticated with each passing year, and, far from rotting our brains, is actually posing new cognitive challenges that are actually making our minds measurably sharper. You will never regard the glow of the video game or television screen the same way again.

Review- For a short book it packs a lot into its 199 pages; the rest of the pages are the notes and etc. that I posted above. I am a gamer and before I was a gamer I watched a lot of TV, so I have heard and been the victim many of the arguments against video games and TV. So in that way I felt vindicated as I was reading this. Johnson helps non-games/TV people understand some of the benefits of doing those things. He does also say, and I do agree, that like everything in life you should have moderation. Because doing anything at the expense of other important things is not good for you. He talks about how IQ has gone up in the past 46 years, how TV shows have become more complex because we have become smarter, that games are good for more than just eye to hand coordination. That the growing of the Internet has not made us less social but more social than ever before. The writing is strong but I did have some trouble with the second part of the book because Johnson is not talking down to you about the brain science so be prepared for it. This is a very well written book with interesting information and for people like me vindication for all the years of being told that I was wasting my time. I still hold to what I said then; it is my time to waste.

I give Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this from my local library.