Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sands by Kevin Nielsen: A Review-Interview Combo

So folks, the review and interview package for Sands is here! I corresponded with the author Kevin Nielsen over the course of the week and he has been very speedy with his responses. So thank you, Mr. Nielsen! I've been pretty excited about this post because honestly, his answers are great and his book is amazing. The second book Storms is coming out on January 7th, 2015. So if you have read Sands or want to read it after this review, please keep a look out for Storms! 

Sands by Kevin Nielsen 
Page count: Paperback, 283 pages
Release date: July 23, 2015
Series Status: Book 1 of the Sharani Series

Summary (from Amazon): 

For nine months of the year, the sands of the Sharani Desert are safe. The genesauri—giant, flying, serpentine monsters who hunt across the desert in enormous packs—lie dormant. The smallest of their kind is able to take down a single man with ease, and the largest is able to swallow entire clans. The people of the desert have always been able to predict the creatures’ appearance, but this year, the genesauri have stopped following the rules. 

When the genesauri suddenly attack her clan, seventeen-year-old Lhaurel draws a sword in her people’s defense—a forbidden practice for women of any clan—and is sentenced to death by her own people. Chained to a rock and left to be eaten by the next wave of genesauri, Lhaurel is rescued by a mysterious, elusive clan said to curse children at a glance, work unexplainable terrors, and disappear into the sands without a trace. 

With the fate of the clans hanging in the balance, Lhaurel discovers she possesses a rare and uncontrollable power—one that will be tested as the next deadly genesauri attack looms on the horizon and the clash between clans grows more inevitable by the hour. 


Rating: 4 "mystic" stars 

Okay, so this book was pretty awesome. As I've said before, I love strong heroines. Strong heroines are awesome people, friends that I want to have. And Lhaurel is definitely a strong heroine. 

The moment I picked up (well, bought with one click lol) Sands, I was reminded of Dune. I mean, duh, even the summary on Goodreads calls attention to Dune fans. However, I hadn't read many books that took place in deserts and the characters sounded cool so I decided to give it a try. 

I'm so happy that I did. Usually, I devour a 300 page book at about 100 pages per hour.  This book took me about an hour and a half. After I finished, I regretted not savoring every description Mr. Nielsen gives us. Oh well, I had homework to do. 
This book is seriously awesome. That is the adjective I'm naming this with. It's just awesome. Awesome people, awesome abilities, awesome creatures and awesome plot. Awesome, awesome, awesome. 

As seen in the summary so kindly provided by Goodreads, Sands is about a girl named Lhaurel who is kicked out of her clan, the Sidena, for raising a weapon. If you can't tell already, this is an extremely sexist society where girls are left to die for holding weapons. In this society, women are property of men and have no say in what happens to them. They are only there to give the men children--specifically sons. *The feminist in me roars*

Anyway, in this horrible society with gender equality, Lhaurel is a rebel. She tries her best to disobey in small ways. When she is forced to marry the old warrior Taren, Lhaurel is horrified but unable to stop it. Until the genesauri attack her clan. The genesauri are basically three types of monsters, the smallest of which (a sailfin) is bigger than a grown man. The biggest of them all can easily swallow entire clans. Luckily for the Sidena clan, the genesauri that attack them are sailfins. However, the loss of life is still devastating and when Lhaurel tries to defend her best friend with a sword, she is knocked out by the people in her own clan and left to die. 

Lhaurel is saved by a mysterious man named Kaiden, one of the Roterralar, a secretive clan seriously feared by the rest of the clans. They are said to be demons and to have strange abilities that no one has seen before. However, as always there is a twist: people's perceptions of others aren't always truthful I won't give away what the Roterralar do but it isn't that surprising when you think about it. Lhaurel is plunged into the world of this mysterious clan full of intrigue and newness. The Roterralar indeed have powers, powers that they reveal to Lhaurel. And as Lhaurel assimilates into the clan, she discovers that she has a rare hidden power that is unlike anything anyone has seen before...

All in all, I really liked this book. It was fun, amazing and really cool. As I've said over and over again, I am a fan of awesome characters with badass skills. And Lhaurel is both badass, mentally and physically. She is so caring of others but she has a strength about her that told me that this girl can kick ass when she wants to. I also loved the aevians--falcon-like creatures that carry the clan people of Roterralar around. When the Roterralar come of age, each get their own aevian. I love animals so I was totally down for reading about the aevians. They are hilarious, awesome creatures and reminded me a little of Buckbeak from Harry Potter. :P 

Of course, there is always room for improvement. I would've liked to see more development in some of the characters in Sands. For example, my favorite character in the book is a snarky, sweet man named Tieran. He was hilarious and I would've liked to see more facets of his personality. If Tieran and a few others were more developed, I feel like this book would be even better. Also, I think more description of the scenery would have made me love it more. The desert is so beautiful in its own way and I would've enjoyed hearing more about the setting. 

Furthermore, the book was a bit predictable. Maybe it's because of my immense prescience (lol, not) but I felt like I knew what was going to happen before it happened. I knew ten pages before Lhaurel figured it out her power. If the book was a little more unpredictable, perhaps I would love it even more than I do now! 

Overall, this book is really well done, especially for a debut novel. When I learned that Sands is Mr. Nielsen's first book, I literally freaked out. What. Talent. There are also some serious gender issues that are raised in Sands. For example, gender equality. As a pressing issue in our own society, I liked that Mr. Nielsen incorporated some of that into the world of Sands. I seriously recommend this book. Be prepared for a wild ride full of excitement, cool mythological creatures and kickass characters. 

Adjective I would use to describe this book: Awesome 

Interview listed below!!

Interview with Kevin Nielsen :)

SN: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Mr. Nielsen. There are a few questions I would like to ask you regarding your book Sands. First of all, Sands has some similarities to the famous science fiction book Dune by Frank Herbert. What type of book were you trying to create with Sands? What type of book would you classify it as in terms of genre? 

KN: Sands does have some certain similarities to Herbert’s Dune, though more in the environment than the scope of the novel.  Dune has a far richer level of complexity and mysticism than does Sands. 

When I started writing Sands, my intent was to create a new, exciting epic fantasy world, but geared more toward the current YA audience rather than just an adult readership.  I think I was able to pull that off.  I would classify it as YA epic fantasy, especially since it was intended to be a five book series.

SN: Throughout the entire book, Lhaurel and other women in the clans are discriminated against because of their gender. Is there a message you are trying to send with Lhaurel's subsequent actions in the book? 

KN: There are certainly messages I’m trying to send.  All books, even and sometimes especially children’s books, have some sort of message they are trying to convey.  However, I will leave it up to the readers to determine what that message (or messages) is.  As an author, my intent is more to ask questions and present possible answers rather than to give you “the” or “a” right answer.  So through the Sharani Series readers will see lots of scenarios that would defy initial stereotypes and see some that fall well within them.  Each are there for a reason and have a purpose in helping the reader to find their own answers.

SN: There are a lot of awesome butt-kicking characters in Sands. My personal favorite is Tieran. Which character is your favorite and why? What or who is the inspiration behind him or her? 

KN:Well, that’s a tough question.  All the characters in Sands, even the “bad guys” are special to me in their own way.  They all have their own stories to tell and I’ve enjoyed experiencing those stories with them.

However, that’s not the question.  The question is “who is my favorite,” yes?  Well, my real favorite character is no longer in the book in her original form.  In the first draft Khari played a much smaller role in book.  She wasn’t even a mystic.  She had a niece, Kharienerah, who was and who ended up being the one who taught Lhaurel both how to use the sword and how to recognize and understand her powers.  Throughout the course of edits, however, that character ended up having to merge with the “then Khari” to form the hybrid character which is the Khari in the published manuscript.  While I still like her, there were bits of Khari’s personality which weren’t my favorite and changed the character of both women enough to create a new person.  I still have a certain fondness for that original character though.

I guess my favorite character from the published book would have to be Gavin, though.  He’s a representation of everything I’m not, in some regards.  He’s optimistic, naïve, quick to judge, and a little rash.  Yet there’s an enduring earnestness to him that resonates with me too.  You’ll see throughout the series where he goes and understand his vital role in this world as it progresses.

SN:What is the point of the aevians in the book? Are they just cool magical creatures that you thought would've made the book more interesting or do they represent something more?

KN: The aevians are both cool creatures and represent something more.  They are a representation of balance.  The genesauri monsters needed to have an enemy, something that would hunt and feed off them in some regard.  Also, the Roterralar needed some way to travel the Sharani Desert.  I combined the two to create the falcon-like aevians.

There are other reasons, of course, but I’ll have to give you a “read and find out” (RAFO) on those as the rest of the books in the series come out.

SN: In the book, the three kinds of mystics are very important to the Roterralar. However, as the book proceeds, we realize that Lhaurel is something entirely different. Is there a reason you chose what you chose for her magical ability?

KN: Short answer, yes – there’s a very specific reason why Lhaurel has the ability she has.  Long answer – you’ll need to read the rest of the series.  Lhaurel’s abilities are at the core of the series and the world in which she lives.  I’ll give you a hint though, Lhaurel is not the only one you’ve seen who has abilities greater than what she should – and there’s a reason for both of them.

SN: At the end of the book, there are a series of revelations that come to life. Can you give us an idea of what characters will be playing big roles in the second book?

KN: Well, pay attention to Lhaurel, Gavin, and Khari – the three main ones you see in the epilogue of Sands.  There are some minor characters from Sands who will take on larger roles in Storms (the sequel to Sands).  You’ll also be introduced to some new characters – one of whom is the most complication character I’ve ever created.  Storms comes out on January 7th so hopefully you’re looking forward to that with as much anticipation as I am.  Trust me, it’s even better than Sands.

SN: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! Sands is a wonderful book!



"I am of the sands and stones. I am he of the aevians, a warrior of the sands and metal that make up our world, a man of the Rahuli people." 

"This was freedom. To pass through the skies, move through the limitless currents of space--it defied reason and time. It was exhilarating. Pure, unadulterated joy."


Kevin L. Nielsen's journey into writing began in the 6th grade when an oft-frustrated librarian told him there simply wasn't enough money in the budget to buy any more books. She politely suggested he write his own. His teacher at the time also challenged him to read the Illiad by the end of the year (which he did). Kevin has been writing ever since (and invading libraries and bookstores everywhere)..Kevin currently resides in Utah with his amazing wife and two wonderful children. He's still writing and continuing a lifelong quest to become a dragon rider.You can find Kevin on his website,

Monday, December 7, 2015

Awesome Upcoming Interview with Kevin Nielsen!


So...I have some news. Kevin Nielsen, author of Sands and Resurgent Shadows has agreed to an interview! I will be doing a review pretty soon on Sands since that is the book that I read. Along with that will be my interview with Mr. Nielsen. So keep a look out for that post because it's going to be awesome :P

In the meantime, keep yourselves busy by checking out Mr. Nielsen's Sands!

<3 Star Noble

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Down the Wormhole by Ana Franco (A Self-Published Novel)

So as promised, folks, here is a post on Saturday :)

Down the Wormhole by Ana Franco 
Page count: 173 pages (in e-book format)
Release date: September 21, 2015
Series status: Book 1 of Wormhole Series

Summary (from Goodreads): 

Medusa is a nice girl, Aphrodite is empowering, Loki vanished on thin air, Isis doesn’t have a memory and Anubis is the only sane one. Join them all in an adventure that mixes the styles of ABC’s Once Upon A Time and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson. What this can possibly mean? Why, chaos, of course! 

My Rating: 2 stars

I received a free PDF of Down the Wormhole by the author Ana Franco in exchange for an honest review. However, I regret to inform you rabid readers that Down the Wormhole just did not do it for me. And it saddens me a lot because I really looked forward to this book. I mean, a combination of Percy Jackson and ABC's One Upon a Time! Who isn't down for that? 

So as seen in the summary above, Down the Wormhole is about a bunch of teenage gods and goddesses pulled from different mythologies. You've got Thomas, a Celtic prince, Natalie, who is actually Medusa, Andrew, who is Anubis. And you've got "Kitty", an orphan girl who pops into their midst. 

The premise of this book is great and it had the potential to be a wonderful, engaging novel but it fell flat for me. For one, I couldn't really understand it. I know that Ana is not a native speaker of English and therefore, I applaud her commitment and effort on this piece of writing. You can truly tell that she worked hard on it. But the plot, the characters and the writing all didn't make sense to me. It didn't flow. The characters did one thing, jumped to the next and did something completely insane without any good reason why. Not only that but the plot was completely crazy--just all over the place. The romance between Thomas and Kitty...ugh, no, that didn't make me sigh, it made me cringe. The girl just decided to have sex with this dude and get pregnant! She's sixteen, for God's sake. 

The writing wasn't great. It was choppy and broken up and I couldn't make sense of what the characters were doing to each other. I couldn't keep track of who was who, who did what to who and why who did what. It was very hard and strenuous for me to read because of that. 

Furthermore, there was really no character development. I hated Kitty. I'm sorry but it is true. The girl burst out of nowhere and changes her mind so quickly. One moment she's talking about having sex with Thomas, then she's having sex with Thomas, and then she's having his freaking baby!! I mean, what?? Kitty is a completely stagnant character...I see no signs of mental and emotion growth. All I see is her getting horny and doing it with her Celtic boyfriend. In my opinion, the plot seriously deteriorated towards the end: it was just sort of fanfiction. Her reactions to things are completely unexpected and wild and halfway throughout the book, I was ready to hit her over the head with my phone. 

Not like the other characters were that much better. Thomas annoyed me to no end, Eris was a douchebag. She's the goddess of discord! She's a pest, something that just infuriates people! She shouldn't be so powerful. Had I been any of the other characters, I would've liked to punt her over the fence. Natalie and Andrew were a little better but only a little. 

All in all, I didn't like this book that much. I didn't know what the characters' aim was and I didn't understand their internal dilemmas. I am a reader that likes things to be obvious and I usually don't get it unless the author pushes it in my face. I want to see glimpses of the characters' deepest fears and what tugs at them when they go to sleep at night. I want that deep stuff, framed by vivid verbs and descriptive adjectives! So yes, I am a reader that asks for a lot of things. I am just disappointed that I didn't see much of it in this book. 

I would like to say kudos to Ms. Franco for some great descriptive language. The beginning was very engaging with the fight between Sif and Eris. I think she should continue to write because this series has a very interesting premise. :)

Some pointers I would give to Ms. Franco: Think about the connections between your characters' actions. What motivates them to do the things that they do? Why do they do it? Also, I would try reading over your work like you're a new reader yourself. That may be hard to imagine but I think it may produce some surprising outcomes. :))

Adjective: Alright

“But you mark my words: I will be there when everything you love is destroyed. Everything you didn't even believe you would have.” 
“It's rather good to pretend to be normal with someone.”  

Ana Franco was born on a small town on the interior of São Paulo, Brazil. She is known as a blogger under the name of “Ana the Bookworm” and her Young Adult novel, “Down The Wormhole”, is her first take in writing in English. Ana attends to college of Literature and Teaching in her country as well as she has taken courses in areas of Children’s Literature, Literature in schools, influences of the world wars at the world’s cultures and in writing for a global market.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

In with the New...

Hey you guys,

So there's going to be a few changes. I'm pretty excited about it actually. As you know, most of the books that I read and review are high end books, books that I personally like. Of course, this makes my book review quite atypical. Although I do like talking about bestsellers and books that I love, I am going to start taking the review requests because boy, have I got a bunch of them :-) 

So I make a new vow to you fellow readers: I will post a review every Saturday. Promise. Definitely. I hope. 

It should be fun. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

So it's been a while since I've posted. Forgive my incompetence.

It seems like I've been on a historical fiction book spree. First it was The Nightingale, now it is All the Light We Cannot See.

You may have seen this book on Amazon's top ten list or glimpsed the dark blue cover in your local bookstore. I first saw it about four months ago when it appeared in My Recommendations on my Amazon page. Thus began my halfhearted attempts to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, being on the Top Ten List of Books You Should Read makes it very popular. When I tried requesting it at my local library, I was told that I would have to wait for at least three months. So like the prodigal I am, I decided to get the rental book. $1 per week.

That's pretty damn expensive.

Because it was a dollar for a week, I knew I had to get started soon. So about a fourth of the week in, I opened the dark blue book and began reading.


From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.


The mystery, the beauty and the tragedies surrounding this book is unmistakable and unparalleled. 

I mean, take a look at the summary. Even that is lyrical. Five stars. Definitely. 

Everything about this book took me by surprise. I expected a different beginning. I expected a different kind of writing. I expected a different plot. I expected a different ending. The feel of this book...I've never read anything quite like it. 

Doerr's writing is definitely unique. While most authors jump into the mix, throwing descriptive verbs and adjectives at you like a whirlwind, Doerr gives you glimpses of the big picture. A furious ocean, black and dark. A miniature wooden house. A crackling radio. 

Every bit of his writing is tinged with mystery and hidden meaning. Every piece is a clue of what may or may not happen. Every section was devoured and feasted upon by my hungry eyes. 

Doerr gives you snapshots of moments, memories, feelings and emotions. Of the blurring of boundaries and borders that often comes in war. In a way, it is more like a photo book rather than a book. Slowly, Doerr introduces the two main characters: Marie-Laure and Werner, separated by ocean and land. 

Marie-Laure is awesome. She becomes blind when she is six and though she may look and seem fragile, this girl is as strong as iron. The things that she goes through in this awful period are unspeakable and if I were in her place, I would've froze in terror a long time ago. When her father takes her to Saint Malo where her great uncle resides and leaves, Marie-Laure must learn to survive without her father whom she has depended on since she was a child. It was really touching to see her mature from a frightened young girl to a strong brave woman. Marie-Laure, though blind, sees "better than those who have eyes". 

Werner, Werner, Werner. I love this boy so much. Werner is truly the underdog of the story, the one that no one would've expected to succeed. Small and pale, Werner is a German orphan who at a young age, began to take a liking to building and fixing radios. When Werner impresses a Nazi official, he is taken to train at an academy for Hitler Youth. As time goes by, Werner improves in his skills and rises in the ranks. But at a price. Werner, like all the Hitler Youth, are trained and indoctrinated with the idea that the strong preside over the weak and that there is no room for vulnerability. The young men are pushed to the limit, faced with difficult choices of whether to help a friend and get punished or stay back and watch. All the while, Werner struggles with his conscience and wonders if he is doing the right thing. In a way, Werner's journey is harder than Marie-Laure because he faces serious moral dilemmas about himself. 

Werner's and Marie-Laure's paths met a lot later than I thought. Like I've said, Doerr takes you completely by surprise. The book didn't feel like a book with a basic plot, rising action, climax and falling action. Every chapter was a whole book in its own regard. 

I really liked this book. I mean, no surprise since it's a winner of the freaking Pulitzer Prize. But I also adored the beautiful writing that touched each subject with care and empathy. This book is tragic as war always is. But it's important to revisit our history to learn from our past mistakes and make sure we never do it again. 

When asked about the meaning of the title, Doerr replied, "It's a reference first and foremost to all the light we literally cannot see: that is, the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum that are beyond the ability of human eyes to detect...It's also a metaphorical suggestion that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II--that stories of ordinary children, for example, are a kind of light we do not typically see. Ultimately, the title is intended as a suggestion that we spend too much time focused on only a small slice of the spectrum of possibility."

Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See is a heartbreaking yet truthful representation of normal people whose lives were irrevocably changed by WWII. I strongly recommend it.

Rating: Five stars
One adjective I'd use to describe this book: Spellbinding  ------------------------------------

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?” 

“You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.” 

“What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.” 


Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector About Grace Memory Wall Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the Story Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, and the Ohioana Book Award three times. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho. Become a fan on Facebook and stay up-to-date on his latest publications.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Nightingale: A Passionate Tale of Love and Courage in War

Hey guys,
I know I haven't posted a while so that's my bad. :( For the past few weeks, I haven't been reading a lot so again, that's on me. So for any of you who has been craving my book reviews, here's the big moment! :)
Today, I will be reviewing The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. LOL, her name though. So without further ado, I give you the usual summary from Goodreads...

FRANCE, 1939

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over."

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another. 
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real--and deadly--consequences.

So let's talk review stars. Out of five stars, I give The Nightingale FOUR STARS for an amazing, touching and tragic book that depicts the all-too-real destruction of Europe during and after World War II. I've always been a stickler to the historical fiction and romance and The Nightingale is no different. The first chapter of the book starts off with a mystery woman who is dying of cancer. She heads up to her cellar and pulls out an old trunk and suddenly we are thrust back to the mid 1900s in France on the verge of war. 
In the past, we meet Vianne and her sister, Isabelle, separated by location and emotional strain. Isabelle lives in Paris and Vianne lives in the countryside. Vianne is older than Isabelle and has her own family. When her husband is called off to war, Vianne, a woman who has always relied on her husband for support, feels vulnerable and weak without him. Things worsen when Isabelle joins her after her Paris home is bombed. Isabelle is like a little firecracker and she is furious about the invasion of the Nazis into her home. While Vianne accepts her fate and wants to wait it out, Isabelle is hell-bent on resisting. When a Nazi officer demands to board in Vianne's house, the strain between the sisters grows. Soon after a few fights, Isabelle leaves to join the Resistance, a secret group of rebels who defy the Nazi's rule. 

To be perfectly honest, I knew The Nightingale was going to be a riveting read. However, I had no idea how quickly it pulled me in. From the beginning, the author did a great job of setting the mood and creating suspense (with the mystery woman).  The terror and paranoia that the French felt underneath Nazi rule was reinforced again and again in the book and Hannah did a great job of showing how bit by bit the Nazis grew a little colder, a little harsher, a little crueler, even in a fictional setting. In the book, I felt the pain of Vianne's Jewish friend, Rachel, whose rights were taken away as time passed. I don't want to spoil too much but I'll say this: this book hurts.

I also loved the juxtaposition of Vianne and Isabelle. Here we have two very different yet similar women. Vianne is the typical wife, the mother and the protector. She is a gentle spirit whose patience and quick wit guides her through the dangerous times in France. Isabelle, on the other hand, is unrestrained and fiery. She doesn't want to be held down and pushed around by the enemy. She wants to stand up and fight and it is quite inspiring. Not gonna lie, the ending threw me off a bit (I got a little teary). The two sisters are similar though because they share one important trait: courage. Isabelle acts with physical courage but Vianne also acts with mental courage as well. I don't want to spoil the book but let's just say that they both do tremendous good during the war. The only difference is that they do it in different ways. 

I really liked this book because though I've read a lot of books on WWII, The Nightingale gives us a glimpse of something behind the scenes: the women's struggle during the war. We know pretty well what the men do but what happened to the women is a little more vague. And just because one gender "did" more on the surface doesn't mean that the other gender didn't stand up against what was wrong. Because there is no doubt that the women in this book are exceedingly courageous and truly inspirational. There are some things they go through that are very dark and inhumane. It makes me physically sick to think about what women went through during WWII.

This book is great not because its characters are flawless and heroic. No, it's good because the characters make mistakes. They must decide whether they want to stand up and risk death or stay back to save themselves. They make mistakes regarding family and loved ones but they make up for it and forgive. They grow and mature. Isabelle, for example, changes from a fractious young girl to a young woman who becomes the symbol of the Resistance. There are many dilemmas to be considered and decisions to be made and sometimes the characters don't do the right things. But they try.

This is why The Nightingale is a fantastic read: because it depicts human resilience, faith and love in the face of extreme cruelty and inhumanity. 


Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling American writer, who has won numerous awards, including the Golden Heart, the Maggie, and the 1996 National Reader's Choice award.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe

Summary (from Goodreads);


Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She has left her boyfriend, friends--and planet--behind to join her parents as a member of Project Ark Ship. Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.

Someone tried to murder her.

Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Elder, Eldest's rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship's cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

My Rating: 

3.5 stars



So you've read the summary (I hope.) If you haven't realized already, this is a book set in the future. It is also aimed at teenagers. I was at the library a few days ago when I happened upon this book. What caught my eye? The gorgeous cover, of course. I mean, look at that detail! I would be a liar if I didn't say I judged a book by its cover. And this book definitely caught my eye when I first saw it. 

 Amy is a teenage girl whose parents are important pieces to a new project: creating a life for humans on a new planet they call Centuari-Earth. Her parents have no choice but to go, mostly because humanity's survival depends on their success. Their only daughter, Amy, however, isn't needed for the mission but she decides to go anyway because of her love for her parents. 

The first chapter is kind of weird. It sort of jumps out at you because it dives straight into the plot. To get to this new planet which is 300 years away, Amy and the passengers have to be frozen to keep them from aging. I found the freezing process fascinating because the first chapter really gives details about the process (which is more than painful) and how it works. Amy remarks on how the workers freezing them don't even bat an eye when she strips down naked (part of the process)--this shows how indifferent and cold they are after doing it a couple hundred times. 

Things are fine and dandy for Amy until 250 years later into the future when she is suddenly left out to melt. This almost kills her and brings us face-to-face with the love interest, Elder. Elder is a swarthy, fine, inquisitive, cute lad who thinks that Amy's hair is just great. He's never seen a color like that and even calls her "the girl with sunset hair." How poetic. 

It takes some time for Amy to recover but when she does...she meets a whole bunch of other people. Like Eldest, the evil-sounding and looking leader of the spaceship. And the doctor whose name I can't even be bothered to remember. And Orion, a Recorder, which is a person who records things. Okay.

At first, Amy resents the people around, blaming them silently for her being awake instead of frozen for at least fifty years. There's also the problem that she'll look older than her parents when they come out. 0_o It isn't until later that she realizes that there is a great picture and that something malignant is working beneath the surface...

Dun dun dun......

Okay, let's move on to the things I didn't like. 


I didn't like a lot of things. 

First of all, the book was extremely complicated. It would take a flowchart to map out all the things that were going on. You got names for jobs and designations that could be so much more simpler. Also, Elder and Eldest? What? Why? Why would you call your characters that!? 

Another pet peeve was the characters. Gosh, I love talking about characters. I love the well-rounded, realistic, down-to-earth characters that people can relate to. Elder and Amy did not do that for me. If anything, they annoyed me. Amy was a flat, one-dimensional character who just explored and didn't do much while Elder just wanted to get into her pants. It sounds rough and I'm sorry, but I was bored to death by the lack of action and good characters in this book. 

The plot was also kind of forgettable. Don't get me wrong, the first chapter is amazing. When I opened it, I was like, "Huh, that sounds cool." But eventually, the action all just sort of dies out and it's just, like, 50 pages of Amy walking around and looking at stuff. Oh and flirting with Elder. It really disappointed me because this book had such great potential to be out of this world (get it? hehe) but it really fell flat. I literally read it a day ago and I can only remember half of the events that happened. It was that forgettable.

I do give Revis kudos for the writing. The imagery and details given in Across the Universe was quite terrific. I could totally see Godspeed and the people's habits and daily routines. However, it was just too convoluted that instead of exciting me, it bored me to tears. I'm sorry for such a biting review, Ms. Revis, but this book was just not what it could be. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Miss Tammy Blackwell! :)

HEY GUYS! I'm super excited to announce that I finally interviewed Miss Tammy Blackwell! For those of you who do not know, Miss Tammy is the author of the Timber Wolves Trilogy and the Shifters & Seers Series that explore the world of werewolves. Her characters are lovable, witty and unforgettable. Miss Tammy was very gracious about it all and I am so happy to have been able to ask her questions about the first of her books, Destiny Binds! :) Check out my review of Destiny Binds here!

Thanks for joining us today, Miss Tammy! It's an honor to have you here. What was the inspiration that made you pick up the pen and write Scout's story? 

I was a Young Adult Librarian when I first started writing Destiny Binds. I had a really great group of kids in my programs, and they all loved books, but I kept getting frustrated that none of the books actually depicted them or their lives. During one of our teen writing groups I wrote a scene in which a girl and boy were trapped alone in a cabin, hiding from the world. From that scene (which later showed up in Fate Succumbs), the idea started forming. Before I knew it, I was spending my evenings writing as much as I was reading.

What was the writing process like? Strenuous, laid-back, enjoyable? 

Writing is very hard for me. I struggle through the entire rough draft. I have to schedule time to write, and then force myself into the chair. The words are slow in coming, and I hate the majority of them as they appear on the screen. But once the rough draft is done, things get fun. I really enjoy revising and editing. Making something from nothing? Hard. Making something that exists better? That gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

Who is your favorite character and why? Which one is like you the most? 

I really enjoy writing Angel. I like how she plays off all the other characters, calling them out on their crap and forcing them to drop their pretenses. Even though I've just finished up the Shifters & Seers series, I would like to come back to that world some day and write Angel's story.
As for who is like me most... I would have to say there is a little bit of Miss Tammy in each of my characters, but probably Scout is the most like me. We think about things the same way, but she usually doesn't react the same way I would to situations.

What were you hoping to achieve by creating this book? (I mean, was the main purpose to make people laugh? Or to write a book that defied people's expectations about werewolves?)

My main purpose in writing Destiny Binds was to give kids like Scout a hero, and not just some Superman character who can do anything. Scout is a flawed hero. She has insecurities, makes mistakes, and can be completely self-centered, but she keeps surviving and trying to do the right thing, which is the definition of a true hero in my book.

Last of all, why did you end the first book like you did? Was there a message that you wanted to broadcast by doing that? 

I knew the end of the first book before I started writing it. It was important to me that Scout face real obstacles and know true loss. The end of Destiny Binds is the defining moment in Scout's life, and forces her to become the person she grows into over the remainder of the series. My hope was that readers would see what Scout endures and realize that if she can survive that, then they can survive whatever they're going through at the time too, no matter how horrible it may be. I wanted Scout's heartache to be another person's beacon of hope.

Thank you very much for being here today, Miss Tammy! I am definitely going to read the remaining books in your trilogy and new series!

Peeps, please check out her book, Destiny Binds--which is the first of many other awesome books--on Amazon! 


YA librarian by day; Caped Crusader by night. (Oh, and I write the Timber Wolves and Shifters & Seers books, too.)

Timber Wolves Trilogy

Fragile Brilliance (Shifters and Seers #1)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Vain by Fisher Amelie

What's up, guys? It's time for another book review! The lucky book to be praised/criticized today is Vain by Fisher Amelie!!!


Summary (from Goodreads): 

If you’re looking for a story about a good, humble girl, who’s been hurt by someone she thought she could trust, only to find out she’s not as vulnerable as she thought she was and discovers an empowering side of herself that falls in love with the guy who helps her find that self, blah, blah, blah...then you’re gonna’ hate my story.

Because mine is not the story you read every time you bend back the cover of the latest trend novel. It’s not the “I can do anything, now that I’ve found you/I’m misunderstood but one day you’ll find me irresistible because of it” tale. Why? Because, if I was being honest with you, I’m a complete witch. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a friend using, drug abusing, sex addict from Los Angeles. I’m every girlfriend’s worst nightmare and every boy’s fantasy.

I’m Sophie Price...And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most envied girl to the girl no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Review:'ve read the summary. I think it's the first thing that hooked me. I mean, the cover is gorgeous but that isn't what you expect. 

A few days ago, my friend and I were at the library, discussing a possible tutoring session that we could hold at the library. Unfortunately, they rejected us. :( It was a bad day only brightened up by one book. This book. :) 

I am a pretty enthusiastic reviewer and I don't tend to give biting, acidic one-star reviews often. I think it is mostly because I understand how hard it is to write a book. I mean, I've tried (and failed). 
I have no FREAKING idea how Ms. Amelie was able to create a book so replete with feeling and emotion that I think I cried a little. 

As you know from reading the summary, Sophie Price is a spoiled, self-centered teenage girl from Los Angeles. She's a people-user and the queen bee of a group of followers. There's no denying Sophie isn't beautiful. The descriptions in the book make her seem like a regular Scarlett Johansson. Boys fall to the ground when she's in their presence. She can make a guy cheat on his girlfriend with a flirtatious smile and a wink.

But it's not until she's away from people and by herself that we see how much Sophie Price hates herself. She thinks her looks are just a facade--a way to hide the truly ugly being behind the makeup and smiles. That's the reason why she uses her friends and takes such good care of her appearance. Because she can't stand the person inside. And my heart breaks for her because she truly believes it.

When Sophie is arrested for drug use, the court sentences her to a few months at an African orphanage. Sophie is to help and change the lives of the kids there. She doesn't know that her life will be irrevocably changed as well. 

There is a perfect blend of romance, love, courage and determination in this book. Sophie is humbled by the horrific things the orphans go through, by the kindness and goodness of the caretakers, Charles and Karina, and the mystery of the young man who works at the orphanage, Dingane. By the end of the book, you'll hardly recognize the selfish, vain girl, so changed by the experiences she gained seeing the struggle and hardships in Africa. Fisher Amelie brings around the extraordinary metamorphosis of Sophie Price, from a girl who thinks she is nothing to a strong woman who knows who she is. 

And OMG, Dingane. Dingane is probably on my Top Ten List of book boyfriends because let me tell you, this boy's got a heart of gold. He's gone through a lot but still sees the good in people. And he loves Sophie so, so much. He's probably the biggest reason why Sophie finds herself eventually. I can't describe the perfection of Dingane. He is just gorgeous. Gorgeous. 

Words cannot describe this beautiful, touching novel. It's full of life lessons that could apply to us. Hopefully, these quotes will give you an idea of the awesomeness of this book and you'll read it!!

“Vanity's a debilitating affliction. You’re so absorbed in yourself it’s impossible to love anyone other than oneself, leaving you weak without realization of it. It’s quite sad. You’ve no idea what you’re missing either. You will never know real love and your life will pass you by.” 

“No one can know sincere happiness, Sophie, without first having known sorrow. One can never appreciate the enormity and rareness of such a fiery bliss without seeing misery, however unfair that may be.” 

“Fear, Sadness. They're not weaknesses. They are overpowering, defining emotions. They make you human, Sophie.” 


Fisher Amelie resides in the South with her kick ace husband slash soul mate. She earned her first 'mama' patch in 2009. She also lives with her Weim, 'Jonah', and her Beta, 'Whale'. All these living creatures keep the belly of her life full, sometimes to the point of gluttony, but she doesn't mind all that much because life isn't worth living if it isn't entertaining, right?

Fisher grew up writing. She secretly hid notebooks and notebooks of dribble in a large Tupperware storage container in her closet as a kid. She didn't put two and two together until after college where it suddenly dawned on her, "Hey, I like writing". She's a bit dense. "No, I'm not." "Yes, you are. Put down that Oreo, your butt can't take any more." "You're rude." "Yeah, yeah." Anyway, she likes to write and has finally beaten her self-esteem into submission enough to allow herself to be scrutinized under the 'other readers' microscope. "No! No! Not a cover slip! Last time it gave me a ra...." (mumbling)

Rescue Fisher from her metaphorical specimen slide at