Review: The Dining Car by Eric Peterson

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Published: 1 November 2016

Publisher: Huckleberry House

Category: Fiction

In his second novel, author Eric Peterson dishes up a riotous spectacle of self-absorbed chefs, backstabbing politicians, and devious publishing magnates, set against a backdrop of haute cuisine, presidential politics, and an endless supply of top-shelf liquor and wine.

Fresh from a public humiliation and in search of his true calling, former college football star Jack Marshall enlists as bartender and steward aboard Horace Button’s vintage private railroad car, the Pioneer Mother, which is transporting the legendary food writer and social critic across the country in opulent style.

Decked out in a white jacket, mixing perfect cocktails, Jack is immersed in a style of living — and dining — he’d assumed was extinct. While striving to appease the eccentric, finicky Horace, and Wanda, the Pioneer Mother’s enigmatic chef, Jack falls under the spell of Giselle Lebeau, a gorgeous celebrity chef whose designs on him test his self-control amd his loyalty.

But when tragedy rocks Horace’s insulated white-linen world, Jack must take charge of a simmering stew of quirky yet powerful personalities — all while staying in Wanda’s good graces and keeping an eye on their newest passenger.

A story of service, serendipity, and second chances, The Dining Car is.more than a mouthwatering read — it’s a marvelous, exuberant work of fiction.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Food Network is one of my favorite channels on television. Food competitions and food history shows are very entertaining for me. So, in the last couple of months, I’ve been reading more food related books, whether they are recipe books, restaurant recommendation guides, or fictional books about bartenders aboard trains, pouring drinks for an esteemed food writer, as it the case in The Dining Car.

The great thing about this book was the way the author talked about the liquor and the food. He was very descriptive, but not in a way that made it feel like I was reading a catalog. It was easy to see the bar in the opening scenes at Biscuit Shooters/Mount Hollow and the spreads that Jack, the main character and bartender, witnessed aboard Horace’s train, the Pioneer Mother. Wanda, the chef on the train and creator of all the delicious food Horace consumed, was an amazing source of knowledge that Jack did not possess upon taking up this job. She knew everything from the proper place setting to all of Horace’s personal idiosyncrasies and handled them with more grace than I can imagine in such small quarters.

These scenes were the best part, but the connecting passages were somewhat duller and made the book drag rather more than I would have liked. It made reading it an unenjoyable challenge. Some of the characters alleviated this somewhat, particularly Wanda. My first impression of her was a no-nonsense woman who is used to an unorthodox work environment and the insanity that goes along with it. Horace, while an eccentric grandfather type, came across as annoying in his magazine articles. Peppered throughout the book, they were filled with excessively long and complicated words, as though he (or the author of this book) used a thesaurus while writing them. Jack, the main character, was alright, but I never really felt anything for him beyond seeing him as a vehicle to meet all these other people and witness all these other events.

On the plus side, I think that readers will see an elegant side of dining and, at times, humorous moments, such as when Horace punches a Senator or some of his other comments and drunken escapades. On the negative, you’ll have to wade through some rather dry passages, which I’d like to chewing on a tough steak that Wanda would never have let get to her table in the first place, all while Jack let’s your wine glass sit empty.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn

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Published: 11 April 2017

Publisher: Simon Schuster

Category: Non-fiction/True Crime

By the New York Times bestselling author of Manson, the comprehensive, authoritative, and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre—the largest murder-suicide in American history.

In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism. His congregation was racially integrated, and he was a much-lauded leader in the contemporary civil rights movement. Eventually, Jones moved his church, Peoples Temple, to northern California. He became involved in electoral politics, and soon was a prominent Bay Area leader.

In this riveting narrative, Jeff Guinn examines Jones’s life, from his extramarital affairs, drug use, and fraudulent faith healing to the fraught decision to move almost a thousand of his followers to a settlement in the jungles of Guyana in South America. Guinn provides stunning new details of the events leading to the fatal day in November, 1978 when more than nine hundred people died—including almost three hundred infants and children—after being ordered to swallow a cyanide-laced drink.

Guinn examined thousands of pages of FBI files on the case, including material released during the course of his research. He traveled to Jones’s Indiana hometown, where he spoke to people never previously interviewed, and uncovered fresh information from Jonestown survivors. He even visited the Jonestown site with the same pilot who flew there the day that Congressman Leo Ryan was murdered on Jones’s orders. The Road to Jonestown is the definitive book about Jim Jones and the events that led to the tragedy at Jonestown.

Rating: 4 Stars

No one going into this book should expect a happy ending, or a happy story. It is, after all, the story of Jim Jones, the man behind the mass murder/suicide that inspired the saying “drinking the Kool-Aid” (a misnomer, as the drink was actually Flavor Aid).

Knowing this, I had to admire author Jeff Guin for his ability to complete this book. The sheer amount of research he did for this book was enormous. Being touted as the book on the Jonestown Massacre, being entrenched in this kind of information for months if not years on end is no mean feat.

The story begins with the discovery of the bodies at the site of the massacre, located along the border of Venezuela and Guyana, by members of the Guyana Defense Force and the National Service. The tone of the book is dire, as expected, and the writing is somewhat dry, heavy with a lot of military and political details as various groups attempt to uncover what is going on at the site of Jim Jones’s self named camp, Jonestown.

The narrative then backtracks in history to the early twentieth century and the early days of Jones’s mother: her murky origins, her lofty ambitions, and her personal interactions as she tried to make something of her life and that of the child a dream had told her would be a great person.

This history, while it might seem extraneous when you consider what that Jim Jones is most well known for his actions as an adult, is fascinating because is shows another side to this person. For example, as a child he was odd but friendly, particularly with a neighbor, Myrtle Kennedy. He even kept in touch with her throughout his life, though his communications were not the whole truth of his actions. It’s strange to think that someone that can inspire such tragic events as the Jonestown Massacre can show kindness to people, especially someone from his childhood that, really, he needn’t have kept in touch with if he didn’t care to.

An exhaustive work on quite the grim subject, Jeff Guinn has written a text that is unlikely to be surpassed in its depth of knowledge, its commitment. You’re likely to know about the end of the story, but in order to understand how it was possible to happen, pick up The Road to Jonestown and take a step back in time to see where Jim Jones, head of the Peoples Temple and mass murderer, originated.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 5 Wednesday: Summer Reads I’m Looking Forward To

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

In my corner of the world things are heating up; Summer officially begins 21 June and while that doesn’t mean much since I work year round and my son attends a summer session of school, it does get me to thinking about what kind of books I read during the summer.

To me, Summer is the time for contemporaries and Winter is the time for fantasy books. I read those genres all the year through, but during these seasons there seems to be an overabundance of those particular ones. For today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic, I’m going to share with you the Top 5 Summer Reads I’m looking forward to reading this year, all of which are contemporary novels.

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I’ve got a copy of this and admittedly have started it a little early, but since it feels like summer already around here, I figure that’s okay. It takes place during the summer, Dimple is a strong smart character, Rishi is the biggest sweetheart so far, and I cannot wait to  share this book with the rest of the world.

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Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Pretty much any Sarah Dessen book is a good read for the summer, but this will be her latest one so there’s that. The thing I love about her books is that they all feel like they were made for summer. Three of her books even take place in the perfect beach town, Colby, North Carolina (based on Emerald Isles, North Carolina). I don’t think Once and For All is based in Colby, but there might be a mention and that would be enough for me.

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Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Film geeks. Surfing town. This book just screams fun to me. I’ve got it queued up and ready to go on my book table, so hopefully I can get some obligation books out of the way and settle into this on my balcony with a cool drink.

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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Admittedly not one of the happier titles on my list today, but it still sounds so good. Letters to the Lost is about two people who are exchanging letters through a graveyard & aren’t as much strangers as they’d think. It feels like there’s so much depth & sorrow & potential for feeling in this book, just from the summary, and I wish I’d been able to see the author at an event recently. *tears* I’ll have to settle for this book once I’ve got it.

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Changes in Latitudes by Jen Malone

I haven’t heard much about this one, but it certainly sounds like it’ll be just the ticket. It’s about an unconventional “road” trip: the main character, Cassie, is being dragged along on a four month “road” (read: boat) trip from Oregon to Mexico with her recently divorced mother, younger brother, and a boat hand. She apparently knows a bit more about her mother’s role in the divorce than she’s letting on, she wants to keep that from her brother, and there’s a bit of a romance developing between her and Jonah, the boat hand. I love the ocean, so I hope that gets described and isn’t relegated to the background for the whole book.

So these are my five Summer Reads I’m Looking Forward To. Are any of these titles on your list as well? Have you read any advance copies of them? Let me know what you know in the comment section down below. 🙂

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Marked Beauty by S.A. Larsen

Hello Readers! Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Marked Beauty by S.. Larsen

presented by Ellysian Press!

Be sure to check out the giveaway detail at the end of the post!

Here we go!!

 

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.

Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.

Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.

After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.

As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.

Title: Marked Beauty
Author: S.A. Larsen
Publisher: Ellysian Press
Release Date: October 2017

 

S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at www.salarsenbooks.com.

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This is a #hashtag giveaway, where two lucky winners will receive a FREE eBook of Marked Beauty upon its release.

To participate:

  • Share one of the premade images via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or write up a blog post using one of the images.
  • Include #MarkedBeauty in your description.
  • Optional for extra entry: include Add to Goodreads (with link) in your description.

***Posts MUST contain the hashtag #MarkedBeauty for entry into the giveaway or we won’t be able to find you.

Pre-made tweets (you add the image)

“A lust 4 life energy. An ancient curse. One soul’s journey thru death 2 find the cure.” #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0

“Uncovering some secrets can kill you, or worse … steal your soul.” #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0 #YAlit

An ancient race. A timid girl. And a journey to the in-between. #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0 #YAlit

The giveaway begins May 17th and will be open until May 23rd. Winners will be announced May 24th via social media.

 

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Top 10 Tuesday: My Top 10 Favorite Mums in Books

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Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

In the United States, this past Sunday was Mother’s Day. My husband and I had made plans in advance of realizing it was this Sunday, however, so while we did do something special, it wasn’t related to the holiday. My son had brought me home some plants from school the last couple of days this week, so I’ve got some planting to do soon. Hopefully the squirrels won’t go after them!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is rather open ended and can be anything related to mothers. I decided to do my topic on my favorite mothers in fiction, whether it be young adult or otherwise.

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Mrs. Weasley, Harry Potter series

She was not only a fabulous mother to seven children on an admittedly small budget, but despite not having much, she always made sure there was enough for those she considered family to. She welcomed Harry into the Weasley family and said he was as good as her son, something she demonstrated time and again.

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Catherine’s Mother, The Weight of Zero

The main character, Catherine, has a mum who is desperate to help her daughter and tries her best to do so as best she can. Catherine is going through some hard things, but this is one of the few books I’ve seen where the depiction of an eating disorder has a good parental relationship as well.

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Becky Bloomwood, Shopaholic series

In book five, Becky Bloomwood experiences her pregnancy and book six, Mini Shopaholic, is set two years later when her daughter is two years old. Becky is not a perfect mum and that’s okay. This book doesn’t make it seem like she’s got it all under control or that her daughter is the shining example of toddlerhood. She’s a real mum that has to figure out how to parent, how to say no, and she still manages to be her funny self through it all.

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Katie Nolan, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

While Katie admittedly makes a mistake when she chooses Johnny Nolan, deciding that slaving away all her days is worth it for him when she’s know him not quite four months, she makes as good a life for their children as she is able. It’s a hard life because this story takes place in early 1900’s Brooklyn and they are poverty stricken, only able to keep a roof over their head because Katie works as the janitress in theirs and two other tenement buildings. Despite this and the scarcity of food, she never lets their circumstances stand in the way of her hopes for a better future for her children. She will make sure they have it, one way or another, and that starts with an education, something her own mother never had and which she herself barely has. There’s no room for shame in Katie’s world, only the light of the future.

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Sally Jackson, Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Sally knows what her son is and does everything she can to protect him from the creatures that would seek to kill him, including marrying a man she doesn’t love and that treats her horribly. It’s a terrible sacrifice, but she bears it for Percy.

My favorite little kickback that she has is when Gabe, Percy’s step-father, insists there’s no blue food, and Sally makes it her mission to bring home every blue food she can find. As she works in a candy shop (or something similar, I forget), this is a bit easier than you’d think, but still, it’s quite funny.

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Julia’s Moms, You’re Welcome, Universe

I’m sorry  I don’t remember their names, but these two do good by Julia, especially the one who owns a shop and gives Julia a wall to paint on. Literally, the daughter that just got expelled for tagging and her mom gives her a wall so she can keep doing what she loves without getting into any more trouble. I loved that.

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Hana, Wolf Children

I’ve only seen the anime version of this story, but I’ve heard it’s rather faithful to the manga. Hana, while a college student, falls in love and marries a man who, she finds out, is part wolf. This doesn’t matter to her, however, and they settle down into a happy life. Shortly after the birth of their second child, though, her husband dies and Hana has to drop out of school and raise her children in a world where they are neither fully child nor fully wolf.

One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the film is when both children are very ill and Hana cannot figure out whether to take them to the vet or the pediatrician. She has to battle not only their dual natures, but the human world which doesn’t understand them and seeks to take them away from her, as a single mother. She persists, though, and is one of the greatest mothers I’ve ever seen in anime. The ending of the story is still quite sad, but Hana gives her children as much preparation for the worlds they enter as she could have.

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Alana, Saga

Alana is one of the most bad-ass mamas on this list. Again, she’s not perfect, as there are times in the series when she’s a bit off (see: theater troupe), but she will stop at nothing to protect Hazel, her precious daughter, from those that would seek to destroy her because her parents are from opposite sides of a war.

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Kyoko Honda, Fruits Basket

Kyoko was a wild child who ran in a gang until she met Tohru’s (the series’s heroine) father. They settled down to have a family, but his life was tragically cut short and she was left to raise Tohru as a single mother. She never let her attitude sink low, though, and raised Tohru to be an independent, self sufficient young woman. Though Tohru does lose her mother prior to the start of the series, and thus we never actually meet her, we do learn a lot about Kyoko from Tohru’s and other character’s memories. From those we learn that she never, for one moment, thought of giving up on Tohru.

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Yukari Takara, Lucky Star

Sadly we don’t see too much of Yukari in either the anime or the manga Lucky Star, but I have to admit to a sweet spot for her. She’s the one on the left in the picture above and she has one of the kindest natures of anyone on this list, though she can be a bit of a ditz at times (like mother, like daughter). She’s the kind of woman, I like to think, that would be a toned down anime version of Mrs. Weasley, welcoming anyone into her home that was a friend of her child’s.

 

Have you are any of these books or recognize any of these Mamas? Who are some of your favorite Mums in literature? Let me know in the comment section below.

 

 

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Review: Get It Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough

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Published: 4 April 2017

Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC

Category: LGBT (FF)/Young Adult/Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. While her dad goes on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, Del manages the family cafe. Easy, she thinks. But what about homework? Or the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell? Or her best friend who won’t stop guilt-tripping her? Or her other best friend who might go to jail for love if Del doesn’t do something? But really, who cares about any of that when all Del can think about is beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street. . . . Until one day Rosa comes in the cafe door. And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

Rating: 4 Stars

This was a neat book to read because it’s one of the few that takes place in Australia. It’s sad that so few do because the ones I’ve read have been so much fun (including The Rosie Project).

Delilah is a strong character that, admittedly, has her flaws. She’s trying to do too much for the adults in her life, either ignoring the mother that abandoned her or the father who’s heart was broken in the process and caring for his cafe while he heals on a trip abroad. Doing so makes her school work suffer, her main passion being geography, though with the way the teachers and the students were treating her as a lesbian, I don’t blame her for wanting to not attend anymore.

Rosa was a cool character that I got to like not only because she was Delilah’s crush, but because she was trying to save the local library, an action sure to win over my heart. The supporting characters in this novel as well, the patrons of the Flywheel, were fun, though not especially fleshed out. They were present but not so much so that they too away from the people we were really meant to care about i.e. Delilah and those closest to her.

I liked how, though the book is written like a traditional novel, there were parts where it felt like Delilah was speaking directly to me as the reader. It was like having a one-sided conversation, but it never felt awkward. I was hearing her tell her story, anything from the meanness of Georgina to the weirdness of a night spent drinking with Charlie to a moment enamored with Rosa.

The story was an easy read in the sense of style, though there were some moments that upset me, such as how Georgina and Ella treated Delilah at school. This book doesn’t gloss over the elements of homophobia that Delilah had to face, from her fellow classmates or from her guidance counselor. These events didn’t encompass her, though. Her attitude may have been brusque, understandably so considering everything, but Delilah was still an admirable girl for not only dealing with those bullies, but also for supporting her family, such as it was in it’s non-traditional state.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

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Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?

Rating: 2 Stars

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately that have this thing where they decide not to give you a solution to their plot line, even though they have potentially good elements. Add this to the list of potentially good books that let me down for just such a reason, as well as disappointing writing.

I thought that the premise sounded good, but that the writing left a lot to be desired. I found myself skimming large portions of it because the writing was very dull. I wanted to rip my hair out from how slow things were going. The fact that I could skim these bits and still follow the story line proved to me how superfluous they really were. The multiple points of view did not help with this problem. They felt really extraneous because there were so many of them: Quinn, her father, her boyfriend, a potential hookup, one or two of the believers that flock to her doorstep, etc. It’s unusual to have so many points of view that work successfully; I can only think of one instance (Sandy Hall’s A Little Something Different – 15 different points of view and it was fun!). In The Inconceivable Life of Quinn, they all felt like too many voices pulling at what little plot there was and stretching it even thinner.

The book also felt like it was conflicted as to it’s identity. Primarily written as a novel that takes place in a strictly realistic setting, there were magical realism elements that didn’t get introduced in-depth until too late. Was this intentional or was it an unconscious switch? It felt like a roller coaster jerk in storytelling styles in a somewhat unpleasant manner.

The mythology of the Deeps sounded like it could have been really neat if it had been developed as an actual real thing, rather than something that might or might not have been real and that 95% of the characters thought was just a children’s story.

The ending was murky, as we never get a solution to the primary questions of the novel, something that has been infuriating me lately with novels. There are huge setups and no payoffs in the end? That amped up the feeling of frustration I was experiencing through the book. I don’t think I’ll be trying any more of this author’s work because, while her idea might have sounded appealing, the execution of it was not to my liking and would push something potentially more worthy further down or completely off my TBR list.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen #2)

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Published: 28 March 2017

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult/Romance

An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…

She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Rating: 4 Stars

Roshani Chokshi returns to her beautifully cultivated world with the tale of two royals fighting for the right to rule their kingdoms in A Crown of Wishes.

A companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen, you should be able to read this book even if you haven’t read the previous one, though there are a couple of characters and connections that you might not be familiar with. Gauri, for example, one of the main characters, in the younger sister of Maya, the main character from The Star-Touched Queen.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Gauri, a princess that wishes to save her kingdom from her vicious older brother, and Vikram, a prince who wishes to take true control of his kingdom rather than allow a council to rule it, the story begins in a bit of a heavy handed fantasy method. Vikram’s perspective felt a little more fanciful to me and required more work, taking me out of the story whenever it cropped up.

Gauri was vastly more interesting to my mind. Her fierceness was present from the first moment we met her as a prisoner of war. She’s been in a dungeon for six months, but her cunning mind has used this time to beguile her jailers into thinking her weak while in fact she’s gathered knowledge that will, hopefully, help her regain her strength and mount a force to take back her kingdom from Skanda, her wicked brother.

Both characters share similar motives, though if I had to choose which one I believed in more it would have been Gauri without question. She might have made slightly foolish decisions, but they were never more foolish than those of any person going to war, fighting for a kingdom. If anything, she trusted too much and that caused her plans to falter, lead to her temporary imprisonment and potential execution. However, it also lead to the opportunity to collude with Vikram and go to the Tournament of Wishes.

The quality of writing was maintained from Chokshi’s previous novel, perhaps even improved a bit now that she’s had the experience of writing a novel. The descriptions were not overly flowery, which I appreciated, because it let the wonder of the individual events shine without being overpowered. Easily pictured and easily sunk into, this novel takes you on an adventure of peril, of discovery, of battles not only for kingdoms but for one’s true self. Vikram and Gauri must fight not only for what they believe is right for their kingdoms, for their people, but for their futures.

While there are no future books planned in this world, I anticipate more books from Roshani Chokshi being highly anticipated. She demonstrated to me with The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes that her knowledge of fantasy is well in hand, as is her writing ability. The future is bright for this author and for those of us lucky enough to read her books.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 5 Wednesday: Books as Event Themes

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

I don’t remember what my prom theme was, though I think the song was something by Eric Clapton. However, I do like to think that if I were going to a prom today I’d recommend a circus theme because of the sheer amount of books out that could serve as inspiration. It wouldn’t even have to be prom, necessarily, but maybe a combination prom/carnival?

These five books are all books that I think would serve as amazing inspiration for events whether they be the prom/carnival mentioned above, an off the wall wedding, or anything where you can have fun in a magical setting.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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The book that started it all for me as far as circuses and carnivals and whatnot in books are concerned. The black and white color scheme sets the dress code for the event, plus the trace of red for the devoted fans of the Circus. The tents could be set up for amusements and there are all kinds of snacks that could be made that are inspired by the snacks in the book (caramel corn, candy floss, etc.).

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Now I haven’t read this one yet, but Caraval is a legendary game where the winner wins their heart’s desire. This could be set up as an epic game for an event, maybe a LARPing event where the participants are characters from the novel?

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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This would be an amazing theme for an interactive magic show where the magicians are wandering among the crowd. Vika and Nikolai, the two enchanters dueling in this book, have to come up with magical feats that will impress the Tsar. Take that concept and introduce it to a crowd that can decide which wins at the end of the night, and you’ve got a magical competition with some of the attraction of American Idol or some other competition where the audience phones in for their favorite.

Freeks by Amanda Hocking

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Freeks is a new release this year that I recently picked up from the library. It’s about a girl that lives in a traveling circus that longs for a normal life, but when it looks like that might become a possibility, she has to turn around and embrace a hidden power to save her friends. Described as a sideshow, it sounds like there are some cool elements within that could be brought out at an event to make it really special, really cool.

Joyland by Stephen King

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Now this would be an excellent theme for one of those escape rooms or a series of them where you have to solve puzzles to move on to the next one, etc., until you find the door that lets you out of the whole affair. Take that concept and use a Stephen King novel as the basis for the theme and it’s going to be equal parts awesome and terrifying.

 

These are the books that I think would inspire amazing events, whether they’re magical or terrifying. Which book based event would you like to attend the most? Have you ever attended a party with a bookish theme? Let me know in the comment section down below.

 

 

 

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Review: The Resistance: United in Love

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The Resistance: United in Love by Danielle Allen, Dylan AllenJC AndrijeskiMegan Benjamin EvansNatasha Boyd , Elizabeth BurgessDeborah Cunningham BurstEmme BurtonM.C. CernySelene Chardou S. Simone ChavousT. Thorn CoyleSarah M. CraditElla DominguezNicole FallsJohn Gregory HancockBayli LaneRobin LeeOlivia LindenG. MillerHarper MillerMorgan Jane MitchellC. RickettsKatherine RhodesKimberly RoseAmalie SilverM. StrattonLeslie Claire Walker, and Zoe York.

Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 20 February 2017

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Category: Biographies & Memoirs/Poetry

We the people
Will not be silenced
Our voices are important.

We the people
Will not be pushed aside
We will be seen
Our numbers are more than you know.

We the people
Will make a difference
We will hold the government accountable
Our empathy is not a weakness.

In these turbulent times we the people will stand together in the face of hate knowing we are all equal, and every life matters.
We the people are The Resistance, United in Love

Authors coming together to write a collection of poems and essays that reflect our views on what has happened and our hopes for the future.

This work is not affiliated with any political party.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

A collection of varying pieces, from essays to poems to free form works, The Resistance utilizes personal experience to detail feelings of hope, of fear, of worry. There are pieces that may mean more to some people than to others, but the collection as a whole showed a solidarity among these authors to lend their voices to a collection that, I feel, needs to be shared.

For Who? by Danielle Allen was the piece that stood out the most to me as the one that summed up the collection best, the one that needs to be shared the most. It spoke about how the current administration (45) preaches about “make America great again”, but asks the important question: for who? The Natives who’ve been murdered, whose descendants were/are forced off their land? Those of African descent who were seen as 3/5 of a person? For women, told that sexual assault is their fault, paid less because of their gender regardless of their abilities? For Who? is best summed up by this excerpt:

Instead of the current administration holding on to the reigns of discrimination and oppression to “make America great again” for only one very specific group (wealthy, heterosexual, Christian, white men), all of us, regardless of race, class , gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc., need to step up so we can make America great (for all of us) for the first time.

The poem that felt the most personal to my person was Do You See Me? Because I See You by Danielle Allen. It spoke to the hypocrisy of people that proclaim to support their friends and family of targeted genders/sexualities/etc., but at the same time shout out their support for the oppositional administration.

When you say that we’re friends and that you love me Do you not think of that when you blindly agree With the hateful words and derogatory tone Of an administration whose intentions were known?

I have family and friends that I simply cannot understand that would benefit from reading this collection, especially Danielle Allen’s poem. A position such as this is not only hypocritical, but it’s dangerous because it makes them blind to not only what happens to their friends & family, but to the millions of other citizens in this country.

I was saddened when I read Your Son by Amalie Silver and it was almost more personal than Do You See Me? because while that poem spoke to me, this essay spoke to my experience with my son. He’s a special needs child and I recognized him in this story. He was born as a child that I loved, but that others recognized needed help. Because of them, he’s been learning things I could never have taught him on my own because I’m too close to him. This essay understood that, but it also made me realize how very real the fear is that the programs that help him could and very well may disappear with the current Secretary of Education. A woman who doesn’t believe that children like my son deserves help, that money is more important than helping him and children like him. How horrifying, that reality.

As a whole, this collection had an 85-90% rate of success with the content. There were some pieces that I thought either didn’t fit or were not edited as well as I would have liked, regardless of content. Regardless of the minimal disappointments, this collection was important. While the pieces did lean toward a certain liberal mindedness, there were many authors that reminded us that we should be there for each other. We have to protect one another and work toward a safe environment despite what the current administration is trying to do to us, to our friends and families. Remember, that for all our differences, we still have in common our humanity.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.