July 30, 2012

Five Stars, or feeling like a mean blogger

Sometimes I feel like the mean kid at the blogging table. I definitely feel like I am way more critical about books than the majority of bloggers. I read books that everyone and their mother are raving about, and continually find myself thinking “Well, it was okay. It was good, but I don’t see why everyone is giving it 5 stars.”

I've had these thoughts for a long time now, and it reminded me that reading is a lot of different things. Reading can be social, as shown by our blogs and social reading sites like Goodreads, but when it comes down to it, reading is also inherently personal. Reading is about the connection between the book and the reader. I believe in a reader-centred model of reading, by which I mean that a text isn’t fully complete until it’s being read. Each person brings their own background and their own thoughts into a book, and therefore the text and its meaning is different for everyone. That’s why you can read a book and give it a glowing 5 star review while I sit here and go “This is a 2 star book! What are they thinking?!”

So what does a 5 star book mean to me? In my review policy I describe 5 star books as:
Absolutely amazing books which deserve incredible praises. Well written, original, and have that elusive "unputdownable" quality to them.
As you can see by that statement I take 5 star reviews seriously. They are the ones that make me have ALL THE FEELINGS, as the saying goes.

When I started writing reviews on Goodreads, even before I started Book Labyrinth, I discovered that I read for character. Of course I get drawn in by plots and settings, and a truly great book (a five star for me) will combine all those elements. It will most likely have an interesting plot point, great characters, and that je ne sais quoi that makes it so hard to describe why exactly you adore a particular book. But when it comes down to it I need to feel a connection to the main character. I prefer likeable main characters that I can empathize with, and I really love good character relationships to come through the text, whether they be romantic, family, or friendship. Those character relationships can turn a four star read into a five star for me.

So what about 3 star reads? I’m sure most authors would hope people rate their book as four or five stars, but of course it’s impossible for everyone to adore every book they read. Because I’m a bit picky with my books the majority of them end up being 3 stars. But what people seem to forget is that 3 stars is still a good rating. On Goodreads it means you like the book, and in my review policy I label 3 star reads as “Fun reads which I enjoyed, but are not particularly groundbreaking or dynamic.” 3 stars isn’t always a bad thing; there are quite a few 3 star books out there that I’ve liked quite a bit, but they didn’t compare to 4 star books I had read.

So really, rating and reviewing is so subjective. It all comes down to personal taste and what you’re looking for at the moment. It comes down to comparing, and it comes down to mood. If you read an action thriller when you’d really prefer a romance that book might get a lower rating than if you were really looking for that genre at that moment. This makes ratings tricky, but I still feel like in the end they’re helpful in distinguishing the great reads from good reads.

After discussing all this I know I’ll still feel like the mean blogger sometimes, but I think think I’m okay with that. I’ve come to see my reading quirks and pickiness as a good thing. It means that when I say I love a book you know I’m being completely truthful. It’s not just every book that I give five stars to, so that makes it something special. I've seen evidence in the comments from you guys that you recognize this about me, and that can only be a good thing from my perspective. And those 3 star, sometimes “meh”, reviews? They're probably a good counter to all the glowing fangirl reviews out there.

If you’ve made it through this ramble I salute you. I’d love to hear your thoughts on five star reviews, ratings systems in general, or if you ever feel like a "mean blogger" for being more critical about books you read.

July 26, 2012

Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin

Release Date: June 2012
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 369
Series: n/a
Review Source: won eBook

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Twenty-year-old Leah Fischer's been in a state of collapse since the moment police arrived on her Toronto doorstep to inform her that boyfriend Bastien was killed in a car accident. After flunking out of university and cutting herself off from nearly everyone she knows, Leah's saved by Bastien's aunt who offers her a rent-free place to stay in a nearby suburban town.

Initially Leah keeps to herself, with no energy for anyone or anything else, but it's not long before her nurturing neighbours begin to become fixtures in Leah's life and a much needed part-time job forces her to interact with other members of the community. And when Leah is faced with another earth-shattering event, her perspective on life begins to shift again. Soon Leah's falling into a casual sexual relationship with Irish actor Liam Kellehan, who has troubles of his own, even as she continues to yearn for her dead boyfriend. Clearly she's not the person she thought she was—and maybe Liam isn't either.

My Thoughts:
I loved this! 'Come See About Me' contained so many aspects that I love, including that it...

  • Fits into the new adult category
  • Has a Canadian setting, more specifically Toronto & Oakville, so it basically felt like reading a book about home
  • Contains a whole lot of UK & Ireland love, with Leah working at a imported goods store, and with Liam, an Irish actor
  • Has a famous actor on the down-low subplot (yes, I am totally smitten with these types of plots, and Liam fits the bill oh so well)

Besides all these aspects that I always fall for, I just couldn't help but be drawn into the emotion of the story. You almost ache with loss yourself as you read about Leah trying to deal with the death of her boyfriend. You see how unhealthy Leah's lifestyle has become, and yet you can understand why she feels so lost and alone, because you see through her recollections how strongly she and Bastien felt about each other.

Equally emotional is the slow burning connection that Leah makes with Liam, who is also dealing with pain and loss of his own. I feel like the way they connected was so realistic, because neither of them started out wanting to let someone in emotionally. They couldn't deal with something serious or long term, so they connected in the way they felt was practical. Of course as the reader you can see their feelings weaving together under the surface into something more.

This book was so perfect for me in this moment, so I'm so glad I picked it up. C.K. Kelly Martin has an immense talent for writing layered characters who you root for and relationships that are absolutely beautiful. I can easily label 'Come See About Me' as a favourite of 2012 because of the connection I felt with the characters and the setting.

Note: I feel like I should mention, because this is a YA review blog, that 'Come See About Me' is a new adult book with quite a bit of sexual content. I feel like it was done tastefully, and it was important to the story and the characters, but I did want to bring that up since I know not everyone prefers to read it. You can read a great guest post from C.K. here on A Tapestry of Words where she discusses older characters, the concept of new adult, and the sexual content in the book.

The Cover:
Nothing spectacular, but I like it in general. The emotion is definitely right for the story.


Find Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin on Goodreads. You can view all the purchase options at ComeSeeAboutMe.com.

July 24, 2012

Serial Hottie by Kelly Oram

Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Bluefields
Pages: 374
Series: n/a
Review Source: eBook for review from author

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Ellie’s sweet sixteen is a summer of firsts. First car. First kiss. First boyfriend. First serial-killing stalker?

Hockey-obsessed tomboy Eleanor Westley has never been the object of a guy’s affection before. So when the hottest boy she’s ever seen moves in across the street and starts treating her like she’s the center of his universe, naturally she’s going to be a little skeptical. But everything starts to make sense when girls who look just like Ellie start dying all around the city. Obviously the new guy is the killer, and of course he only likes her because he wants to slice her into tiny pieces. Right?

The more Ellie gets to know Seth the more she’s convinced he’s a psychopathic killer. The problem is he’s the sweetest psychopathic killer she’s ever met. Not to mention he’s brutally hot. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t help but fall for him. Will Ellie find true love, or will her summer of firsts turn out to be a summer of lasts?

My Thoughts:
I feel like this book had so much potential, and based off the reviews it worked for a lot of people, but unfortunately it didn’t work for me. I loved the actual concept for the book. It’s absolutely absurd, but absolutely awesome. I definitely haven’t read another book like it. I liked the humour and I also appreciate how straightforward Kelly Oram’s writing seems, while being deceptively complex. She set up a really great story that had twists and turns in it, and makes the reader question what they think and what they know. The mystery aspect was actually done quite well, and even when I thought I figured it out I was still questioning my judgement.

What didn’t work so well for me were the stereotypical main characters. Our main character Ellie is a hockey playing tomboy with a filthy mouth and anger management issues. She chooses to punch any and everyone who even annoys her a little bit, and she doesn’t see anything wrong with this behaviour. I get really annoyed in popular culture when it’s dubbed okay for girls to get away with slapping or hitting a guy. Why is this okay? If it were a guy doing it to a girl we would be offended and call it abuse, but for some reason it’s okay in TV, movies, and books for girls to get away with this. Ellie’s sister, Angela, was another stereotype, her being the popular, beautiful older sister who everyone swoons around.

My biggest problem with this book, though, is Ellie’s love interest Seth. I’m not sure what to think about Seth. He’s emotionally unstable, manipulative, and violent, and yet Ellie finds herself “in love” with him, despite being scared of him numerous times and thinking he’s a serial killer. The thing is, I don’t know if Seth is supposed to be a parody or comment on all the abusive love interests in YA, especially paranormal YA. I could almost see how he could be, yet the book itself doesn’t read like a parody. And without the potential parody aspect I really can’t stand how we, as readers, are supposed to swoon for Seth and cheer for him and Ellie to be together, when he tells her what to do, tells her what he’s going to let her do, and physically restrains her (numerous times) when she tries to get away from him.

I hate to be so critical about a book that has a lot of promise, and is, for the most part, smartly written, but I can’t keep quiet about my disdain for this type of love interest in YA fiction. I don’t care that it’s “just fiction”, but I think it sets a dangerous precedent when supposedly “charming” guys are threatening to kill for the girl they “love” and are abusing them emotionally and physically. This type of character and relationship really ruined what could have been a great read.

The Cover:
I really like it. The concept is simple, but the 'ransom letter' font for the title is awesome.


Find Serial Hottie by Kelly Oram on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

July 23, 2012

A World Away by Nancy Grossman

Release Date: July 17, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 400
Series: n/a
Review Source: ARC for review from Hachette Book Group Canada (@HBGCanada)

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
A summer of firsts
Sixteen-year-old Eliza Miller has never made a phone call, never tried on a pair of jeans, never sat in a darkened theater waiting for a movie to start. She's never even talked to someone her age who isn't Amish, like her.

A summer of good-byes
When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in suburban Chicago, a part of her can't wait to leave behind everything she knows. She can't imagine the secrets she will uncover, the friends she will make, the surprises and temptations of a way of life so different from her own.

A summer of impossible choice
Every minute Eliza spends with her new friend Josh feels as good as listening to music for the first time, and she wonders whether there might be a place for her in his world. But as summer wanes, she misses the people she has left behind, and the plain life she once took for granted. Eliza will have to decide for herself where she belongs. Whichever choice she makes, she knows she will lose someone she loves.

My Thoughts:
I have to admit that my first reason for wanting to read this book was because I was obsessed with the Angels trilogy by Lurlene McDaniel when I was younger. I don’t know if I would enjoy those books now, but I still remember feeling enthralled with those characters and with the Amish lifestyle presented. ‘A World Away’ does give us glimpses of the Amish traditions, but it’s more about Eliza discovering herself when she chooses to become part of the ‘English’ world for a summer.

I’m curious to know if Eliza’s reactions to the English world were accurate, with her not knowing about things like texting or how to use a phone, especially if her and her friends have snuck Seventeen magazines like she mentions. Maybe I’m a bit skeptical because I personally know of Mennonites who have cell phones or use electricity and technology as long as it’s not in front of the elders, but I guess there’s also a big difference even between Old Order Mennonites and the Amish.

What I really liked about this book is that most anyone could identify with Eliza’s feelings, because I think we’ve all questioned at one time or another where we belong. And that was the strength of this book for me. Despite the love triangle-ish aspect to the book, it was never a question of returning to sweet Daniel or staying in the English world for Josh (who was a pretty lacklustre love interest, I gotta say). It was about Eliza discovering herself and exploring what she truly wanted. In the end I think a bit more time could have been taken to explain Eliza’s decision, but I still liked how confident Eliza was and how no matter where she ended up she was strong and able to stand up for herself. Despite some stereotypical characters and scenarios, I really liked the themes in this book and enjoyed the book overall.

The Cover:
So pretty!


Find A World Away by Nancy Grossman on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

July 22, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (8)

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers can share the latest books they've received and discover new titles while visiting other blogs.

Here's what I've received in the past week:

Bought eBook:

- The Stillburrow Crush by Linda Kage

I decided to check this one out when I received Linda's forthcoming YA release for review. I read it a few days ago and it was definitely really cute.

For Review:

- The Color of Grace by Linda Kage (received from author)
- Starring Me by Krista McGee (received from publisher via Netgalley)

I really liked the excerpts I've read of 'The Color of Grace', so I'm excited to read this one. 'Starring Me' sounds really cute, so when Thomas Nelson emailed and asked if I wanted to review it I thought I would give it a shot.

Not a ton of books this week but I'm glad about that because it gives me a chance to read some that have been on my TBR pile for a long time. Can't wait to see everyone else's new reads. =)

July 19, 2012

Dreaming Anastascia Deleted Scenes Tour

With Anastasia Forever releasing on August 1, Sourcebooks has put together a great tour with deleted scenes from the first book, Dreaming Anastasia.

Along with the deleted scene I've also got a guest post for you from author Joy Preble on the Anne/Ethan romance.

A bit of background on the scene from Joy:
It occurs after Anne and Ethan have found Professor Olensky murdered in his office. They are desperately trying to figure out what to do and being chased by Viktor's henchman Dimitri. And my initial impulse was that I very much wanted them to share their first kiss on that El train platform. It felt like the perfect moment -- the classic 'everything is going crazy and this is the person I've been running from but really he's exactly the right person for me' passionate kiss... followed by danger looming and breaking them apart.

The deleted scene:
And then, we’re alone.

The wind’s whipping our hair and Ethan’s still holding my hand, our fingers lacing together. Neither of us says a word. The wind swirls a piece of newspaper around on the track and a couple of pigeons peck at the platform across the tracks, looking for bits of food.

“I’m sorry,” Ethan says as a twenty-something guy wearing an unzipped grey hoodie over his green scrubs plops himself down on the bench across the tracks and the pigeons, startled, fly off to search for other crumbs. He lets go of my hand and thrusts both his hands in his jacket pockets.

“You’re right. It is your battle. Probably as much as it is mine.” He blows out a breath.

“We were all so certain after the assassination that at any moment we could find a way to fulfill the prophecy. Get Anastasia back. Restore the Romanovs to power through her. But we didn’t. Ten years passed, then another ten. Then – well, it’s easier than you think for the years to slip by. Each time I though I’d found the girl who could do this, it turned out I was wrong. And each time, I think I just slipped a little farther from the person I used to be. The person who was so clear of his purpose. I never gave up, but I think I stopped trying as hard.”

Ethan stops. Looks down the track for a bit. There’s no train in sight. Across the way, a tall girl in a denim mini and black leggings joins scrub suit guy on his bench. She’s bobbing along to whatever is playing in her headphones. Everywhere I look, it seems, the world is going on like normal. Except I know it’s not.

Ethan’s gaze holds mine, his blue eyes so tired and sad that I feel like crying except I think I’ve used up my quota of tears today. “If Viktor’s betrayed us,” Ethan says, “it’s because I let him. Because I just stopped paying attention. And that part, I do have to bear alone.”

I’m not sure what to say to him. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is one of those times where I probably don’t need to say anything. But he’s standing there in such pain that I start talking.

“We’ll find her, Ethan,” I say, even though I’m not at all sure that’s ever really going to happen. “I mean, you found me, didn’t you?”

And then we just stand there. The wind dies down for a bit, although I can tell from the clouds that it’s going to pick up again soon. Underneath my feet I can feel a slight vibration. Far down the track, our train is coming. Ethan steps closer to me. My heart beats harder: thump, thump, hop in my chest.

I study his face. Those blue eyes. That shaggy chestnut hair all tousled from the wind.

He’s going to kiss me. And I guess it should be weird or whatever. But it’s not. It’s just me and him – and okay, the two strangers across the way – and all the other stuff just sort of drops away. Because when you’re going to kiss someone – really kiss someone – it’s got to be just about that and not anything else.

And then he does. Kiss me, I mean.

He bends down a little, cause he’s taller, and presses his lips to mine. And it’s way better than the kiss on the forehead. And way, way better than the dream kiss since this time he’s just kissing me, not trying to suck the life out of me. His lips are warm and full and sweet, and they feel good against mine.

So I kiss him back.

“I almost lost you, too,” Ethan whispers against my lips. His breath tickles and little sparks tingle their way down my spine. “Here, I’ve just found you, and I almost lost you.” We kiss some more. I reach up and wrap my arms around his neck. I rest one hand on his shoulder – right where he’s got that lion tattoo etched into his skin.

In novels, you always read phrases like ‘they kissed and time stood still.’ And until now, I’ve always thought what a load of crap that was. Cause even when I was making out with Adam Greene, time was marching right along.

And maybe it’s because Adam was a sort of slurpy kisser. And that’s why my mind kept wandering to images of Buster lapping water from his dish.

Or maybe he just wasn’t the right one.

But right now, time is still. And Ethan’s lips, and his hands that are resting against the small of my back, are filling my head so completely there’s no room for anything else.

But then our train pulls up to the platform. The doors open, and I let Ethan take my hand and lead me inside. We settle into our seats as the train gives a lurch and starts up again, headed downtown. I’m sitting next to the window. Ethan’s looking at me like I’d always hope someone who’d just kissed me would look at me.

And then he’s not. Looking at me, that is.

Because he’s looking out the window beyond me. Back over, I realize as I turn my head, to the staircase that leads up the platform we just left. Watching as the familiar figure of Dimitri rushes into view, just as the train picks up speed and carries us away.

What’s Love Got to Do with It?: The Anne/Ethan Romance
Joy Preble

The guiding force of the DREAMING ANASTASIA series is the relationship between Anne and Ethan. Anne knows from the second she catches blue-eyed Ethan stalking her at the ballet that there is just something about him. And in fact, he proceeds to turn her life upside and sideways because it is Ethan who peels back Anne’s normal world and reveals a world of Russian fairy tales brought to life, of a hidden princess and an illegitimate royal son driven by vengeance. When they touch – and I always knew that their story would begin with a physical touch setting things in motion—everything changes.

Anne is no longer just the girl who dances ballet and goes to school and mourns the death of her brother to cancer. She is a girl with power to save a princess, power to right ancient wrongs and ultimately, the power to break a curse that is holding her birth grandmother captive. But power comes with a steep price. And when Anne accepts Baba Yaga’s bargain so she can save Ethan in book 2, she steps into the witch’s forest in a way she has up until then refused to do. Of course, I wanted her to do this for love, even if she has trouble admitting that’s what it is.

This is problem for Anne and Ethan: they do not come easily to loving each other. Or rather, Ethan comes easily to loving Anne, even if he feels that he does not deserve her or a second chance at life. Which is exactly what she gives him when she rides out of the witch’s forest with Anastasia, allowing Ethan to regain his mortality. While Viktor yearns to live forever, Ethan wants only to have what he lost for a cause that was never what he believed it to be: to live and die in the proper time. That he has found the love of his life makes him both deliriously happy as well as guilty as hell.

And Anne, well, she’s a smart girl. Even when she’s not, she has Tess watching her back, making sure she sees things as they are. Anne sees loving Ethan as an impossibility. He is too old even if he looks young. He has secrets and a long, long past. She is only sixteen. And yet I think she loves him from the moment he tells her his story. But she holds back; she is indecisive. In fact, these traits hurt her in all aspects of her life. She has trouble committing. Ethan, on the other hand, is an all-in kind of guy.

So what did I do to these two? I made them inhabit a reverse fairy tale. It is Anne who ends up saving Ethan over and over. It is Anne who is the hero. And ultimately, it is Ethan (no spoilers for book 3 quite yet) who needs redemption and forgiveness before he and Anne can be together. A happily ever after, but hard won. And not without suffering and sacrifice. This is after all, a Russian fairy tale. No one knows endurance like the Russians.

And so it goes: Ethan and Anne, circling and circling love, each running from the other, each doing the hero’s job. The question becomes, will they figure out that they belong together before it’s too late?

Of course they will!

But with these two, love isn’t simple. I think that makes them equal parts of smart and stupid. Not forbidden love. Not crazy love where the passion burns out everything else—and I think we all need some of that in our lives.

When Anne and Ethan finally figure out that they belong together, it will be a love that entwines them like two puzzle pieces, marveling at how perfectly and easily they fit. And how foolish they were not to know it.

Book 2: Haunted
Book 3: Anastasia Forever (August 1, 2012)

July 17, 2012

Never Enough by Denise Jaden

Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 400
Series: n/a
Review Source: Galley Grab

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?

My Thoughts:
When I finished this book I basically just wanted to scoop up Loann and Marcus and hug them and put them in a protective bubble so that nothing could ever hurt them again. Because, really, people should not have to go through what they went through. And sadly... of course people actually go through scenarios like that. That’s probably the worst part. But do not despair, because despite the sad situations in this book it’s not entirely a downer. The connection that Loann and Marcus forms is the beautiful centre of this book, and they are absolutely precious together, whether it be as friends or as something more. These two are a team, and the bond that forms between them is amazing to read about.

I think where Denise Jaden gets things really right is that there isn’t any proselytizing in this book. It would be easy when dealing with such difficult subjects to drop in a heavy handed message, but there really isn’t one here. There is a deep sense of “yes, you ARE enough!” to counteract the book’s title, but it’s more of a thought for readers to pull out themselves as they see the amazingness and beauty in Loann, Marcus, and Loann’s sister Claire: we find the worthiness that these characters don’t see in themselves.

‘Never Enough’ was definitely a tough read, especially when it came to Claire’s story. Eating disorders are a very sensitive subject, but I think Denise handled this storyline with the greatest sensitivity while still portraying it honestly. I had to let my thoughts process for a bit before writing this review, and I’m glad I did, because I think I appreciate the book even more now. It’s not easy to craft a book that will fill readers with such a wide range of emotions. Nor is it simple to make readers think and philosophize on such important issues as body image, self worth, self esteem, and even the concept of soul mates and ‘meant to be’. Denise Jaden has succeeded on all these fronts, and for that I applaud her.

The Cover:
It's definitely pretty and captured the emotion well; it's always better when the girl actually looks like the character, though.


ETA: This was originally a 5 star rating, but I've put it down to 4.5 stars. See, I originally had it at 4, then moved it to 5, and then changed my mind AGAIN. It doesn't quite warrant 5 stars, but the very powerful emotions put it pretty darn close.

Find Never Enough by Denise Jaden on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

You should also definitely check out this video that Denise put together of her author friends talking about not feeling like enough when they were teens:

July 16, 2012

Guest Post: Elisabeth Wheatley on Mythology

I'm very happy to be hosting teen author Elisabeth Wheatley today as part of her blog tour for the release of The Secrets of the Vanmars, the second book in her Argetallam Saga. Here she is:

Elisabeth Wheatley on Mythology

I have a fondness for anthropology, history, and, of course, fantasy. All these things are rolled into the wonderful lore of mythology.

You know you’re way too into mythology when you’re asked to name the Nordic countries and you list “Geatland.” (I’ve done that.) You know you’re way to into mythology when you get mad while watching The Immortals because you just found out the storyline isn’t “accurate.” (Also done that.)

So what? I may be a little too into it, but I love mythology. Folklore, fairytales, legends—particularly European and Middle-Eastern—you name it, I’ll probably adore it. I skim through my small collection of mythology encyclopedias—legend after legend, myth after myth accumulating in my brain in an ever-growing stockpile of useless information. Some of the stories are so ridiculous (particularly the ones involving reasons for suicide: i.e. Dido, Ajax, etc.) I admit that I laugh at them, but others I find fascinating.

The study of different mythologies is also intriguing. (WARNING: This may be a little reminiscent of a college lecture, stay with me!) Comparing Roman and Greek mythology is a good example. They have many similarities (the Greeks could have easily sued the Romans for plagiarism in many cases), but a few differences that were also reflected in their cultures. For instance, Roman mythology tends to highlight selfless acts of bravery for one’s country, while the Greeks seemed to be more concerned with looking out for Number One. Roman mythology was also more misogynistic than Greek, often casting domestic violence as acceptable. Hmm..... That last part sounded less heavy in my head. Anyway...

I have a fascination for female warrior figures in mythology (I’m sure I’m not the only one). From Durga the Demon Slayer of Hindu origin, to Anat of Ugarit (a city in modern-day Syria), and, the one everyone knows, Athena—the Greek goddess of wisdom and a few other things, they’re all pretty cool.

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about Slavic mythology. Slavic mythology is fascinatingly matriarchal, often casting the woman as the one who saves the man instead of the other way around. For instance, the story of the warrior queen Márya Morévna involves her single-handedly defeating an immortal ogre and his army of thousands. Then later, when her young, handsome, brave, kind, idiotic boyfriend accidentally releases the ogre from where Márya had chained him, she gets to go on a quest to save said boyfriend.

And I have to say something about Arthurian Legend. Oh, Arthurian Legend! The tales of chivalry, honor, nobility, and undying love *sigh* I’m a sucker for that, too. In fact, I took the name “Amatahns” from Arthurian lore. “Amytans” was a wise man who rebuked Merlin. (I had to change the spelling because everyone thought I was naming my character after “Amy Tan,” writer of The Joy Luck Club. Sorry, I had no idea who she was.)

So...now you know I am an aficionado for the tales of storytellers who’ve been dead for hundreds or even thousands of years. People always talk about studying the roots of something. Well, the legends in mythology are the forerunners of the fantasy novel and just for that we should be thankful for them! Besides, you never know what you’ll learn about the culture and the history of a people from their legends.

After her adventures with the Key of Amatahns, sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam returns home to find Brevia on the brink of war with a neighboring country, Stlaven. Her foster-father and even Saoven—a brave young elf warrior—think it will be safe at the castle where Janir grew up. However, while trying to unravel a looming mystery, Karile—self-taught wizard and Janir’s self-appointed best friend—becomes certain that there is danger in the mountains surrounding Janir’s childhood home and that it has something to do with Stlaven’s most powerful family, the Vanmars…

July 15, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (7)

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers can share the latest books they've received and discover new titles while visiting other blogs.

Here's what I've received in the past week:

Bought eBooks:

- Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin
- Awry (Archers of Avalon #2) by Chelsea Fine

For Review:

From Specer Hill Press:
- Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- Deity (Covenant #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- Minder by Kate Kaynak

I'm definitely really excited about all of these. I already read 'Come See About Me' and I LOVED it!

July 14, 2012

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 384
Series: n/a
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

My Thoughts:
I think I can almost say for a fact that if you liked ‘Perfect Chemistry’ you will like this book. It definitely had a lot of elements that reminded me of that book and that series. I enjoyed reading this book, particularly because the relationship between Echo and Noah felt real to me. I loved how even though there was some instant attraction, once they were pushed together their relationship took time to develop. Sure, some aspects were quick, but I liked that there was some back and forth and not just an instant relationship.

I also really enjoyed the dual POV. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between narrators, but I always felt like Noah and Echo were complete individuals, and I never had to try and remember who was narrating. I also appreciated how even though these characters were living through some terrible situations, the book was never purposefully dark. There’s drama (bordering on too much drama, actually), but there are still some lighter moments, and it always felt like the characters wanted to move forward and get better.

Overall I enjoyed this one and would recommend it. By reading other people’s reviews I can see that ratings are all over the place, and I can understand some of the issues people have had with it (namely too much drama, and too little trying to work things out reasonably), but I can honestly say I wasn’t bothered by these things when reading it.

The Cover:
Not the hugest fan, but I suppose it fits.


Find Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.


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