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Ruby Red Trilogy Review

I gave this series a solid 5 stars and also added these two books onto my favorite of all times list. 

The Ruby Red Series by Kerstin Gier took me by surprise. When I initially picked up Ruby Red, the first novel in the series, I was expecting a quaint story about a teenage girl who time traveled and a few historically relevant scenes that made for just another angsty teen fantasy novel. However, what I got was a fun and witty story about a girl named Gwyneth who inherits her family’s “time traveling” gene instead of her cousin, Charlotte who was believed to be the apparent heir for sixteen years. Unlike Gwyneth, Charlotte was thoroughly trained to handle being a time traveler and was initiated into the society’s secrets through private lessons since the time of her birth.

Ill-prepared for her new job Gwyneth makes up the rules as she goes along. From falling in love with her time traveling partner, Gideon, to being introduced to the infamous Count Saint-Germane, leader of the secret time traveling society (who has long been dead), Gwyneth proves that she is not just an accessory to anyone else’s agenda. Instead, she searches for clues in the past and the present with the help of her best friend, Leslie and the ghost and demons who follow her around.

To make matters even more interesting, Gier has stretched the cast of the series across different time periods, which gives the story a Clue like feel. Each characters’ motives come off as suspicious and it seems that Gwyneth can only trust herself, which causes the series’ plot to be full of suspense.

The first book in the series is geared more toward character formation and unraveling who Gwyneth is and what role she plays in the time travelers’ mystery. However, Sapphire Blue has a bit more action than Ruby Red. In this second installment readers get to see Gwyneth travel back in time more and converse with her ancestors, which allows her to obtain more answers to her questions about why she must time travel.

Also, in Sapphire Blue, the love connection between Gwyneth and Gideon becomes more apparent. Gier constructs this weird dynamic between these two characters in her first book and it only gets
more complicated as the series goes on. At first, it seems like Gideon likes Gwyneth. Then, it seems like he hates her. THEN, it’s like okay, maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t…in short, his character holds a lot of secrets. None of which, are really revealed until the end of Sapphire Blue.

Gideon’s character seems to be good however, my actual feelings toward him changes continuously throughout the first two books. When he’s first introduced, I just assume that he is a sort of secret bad guy. Later on, it’s revealed that he was mostly raised by the secret society and was unable to 

actually spend time with other kids besides Charlotte. Therefore, the fact that Gwyneth is his new untrained time traveling sidekick is a little much for him to bear. Yet, he outwardly warms toward her, but still gives multiple hints that he would rather work alone. This places him on the potential bad guy list along with like 50 other people.

This series is definitely one that I would recommend. Sadly, with this new installment comes a new cover design. Gone are the beautiful original jeweled covers and instead, readers will see a dark-haired girl in various colored ball gown standing next to a clock-tower. I am hoping that I can find a copy of the final book with the original cover since these books are translated from German into English.

(Originally posted on my Blogger on June 9, 2013.)

Happy Reading!

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Book Spine Poetry Challenge (Bout of Books 7.0)

Today marks the ooficial start of Bout of Books‘ Read-A-Thon! The first Challenge is the Book Spine Poetry contest held by Escape Through The Pages. Here is my first attempt at book spine poetry:
In the land of Invisible Women 
The Duff 
Maps 
What Is The What 
The Whole Story of Half A Girl 
Ruby Red
(and) WICKED
(…a) desert flower


*words in parentheses were added.

Hope you all enjoyed my novice attempt at poetry (^_^).

Cheers!

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The DUFF by Kody Keplinger Book Review

 I gave this book 5 stars.

Kody Keplinger’s novel, The DUFF is the type of book you could read at any age and connect to. The main character, Bianca is a tough as nails girl who’s heart has been hardened by the pains of love. Adamant about never falling in love again, she chooses to enter into an “enemies with benefits” relationship with Wesley, the notorious womanizer of her high school who has problems of his own. Together the two teenagers work through their problems in the form of..ahem…advanced cardio for the grown and sexy. However,  even with their preconceived rules of “no feelings” being involved, Bianca and Wesley learn the hard way that love can infiltrate your heart when you least expect it no matter how hard you plan.

Keplinger’s characters are well developed and likable. Even though Bianca does come off as cynical at times, the reader gets shown that her feelings of anger and frustration are justified. The way that this character antagonizes over being “the duff” a.k.a the designated ugly fat friend, is something that is especially well portrayed by the author and made into a relatable point for anyone who chooses to read this book due to the fact that most people have felt like the dud of their circle of friends at one point of their life or another.

On the flip side, Wesley’s character while clearly placed into the cliched role of being resident bad boy is endearing opposed to annoying. Even when he makes Bianca feel ashamed of herself by calling her the duff, it’s apparent that his character is battling his own set of demons and does so only as a knee-jerk reaction to his pain.

Keplinger’s choice to use cliched roles in her work is balanced off by the fact that her storyline is solid. Never does the reader feel as if they are being rushed off into a tidy conclusion. Instead, the author paces the story so that her audience can get the full benefit of watching the character’s lives come undone and then slowly pieced back together again. Both Bianca and Wesley’s character are funny, interesting, and sarcastic enough to keep readers entertained and willing to stick wound to finish Keplinger’s story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is in need of a good chick-lit book or who just loves a good novel about bad boys and strong opinionated female leads. Yet, I would caution against letting younger readers begin this book being that it is meant for a mature audience due to explicit sex scenes throughout the novel.

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for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow was enuf Choreopoem Review & For Colored Girls’ Movie Review

I gave for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow was enuf  3/5 stars and For Colored Girls 5/5 stars.

for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow was enuf is a choreopoem (i.e., a poem that is meant to be performed with added movement along with dialogue) by Ntozake Shange, which was published in 1975 and recently turned into a movie entitled, For Colored Girls by Tyler Perry in 2010.

Shange’s choreopoem was very interesting to read. In the beginning I was confused by Shange’s abbreviations and had to use guess work to figure out what she was saying, but as the choreopoem went on, I got better at discerning what she was saying since she frequently repeated certain words like cd (could) or waz (was). Thank goodness for this because the action in this choreopoem speeds by and if you’re not on point, you’ll easily miss something. Since this was a choreopoem, the actual character building isn’t really meant to be full blown. In addition, Shange’s motives for creating the characters is meant more so for them to represent ideas than for them to actually have personalities.

While I did like this choreopoem, I would have to say without actually seeing a visual interpretation of it (be it a theatrical production, the tv movie, or the film adaptation), one could get lost fairly easily. Since I read this choreopoem for an assignment and watched Tyler Perry’s film adaptation in tangent with reading Shange’s work, I have to say, I actually got a better feeling for what Shange was doing with her work from watching Perry’s movie. Without seeing Shange’s work in action, I would have just chalked this read up as an overblown classic, but the visual representation made this piece one of my favorite…movies that is. I know this is harsh, but I still felt as if Shange’s work would be better off packaged as simple poems in written form opposed to as a single unit that is meant to be read as a full chorepoem/play. And yes, I am aware that Shange admits that she did write these poems singuraly and later preformed then as a collective unit however, I must go off of how it was presented to me in it’s published form.

Perry’s film on the other hand was OUT-STANDING! At the time this film came out, I was under the impression that it would be similar to his other works and that the film itself was scary since it deals with subject matter like, abortions and rape. However, I was pleasently surprised to find that Perry handled everything tastefully. The actresses he chose to represent each character was phenomenal and fitting. I especially enjoyed Loretta Devine as the lady in green and Anika Noni Rose as the lady in yellow. These two poured their hearts into their characters and it shows.

Out of all the poems though, my favorites from both, the choreopoem and the film would have to be “somebody almost walked off with all my stuff” and “no assistance” performed by Loretta Devine in Perry’s film and “my love is too…,” which was performed by all the colored ladies in the film and choreopoem.  from the film version and “dark phrases,” which was also performed by all the colored ladies in the film and choreopoem in the written form. 

This choreopoem is something I would recommend that everybody read and watch at least once. It’s definitely gives one food for thought. But, beware, viewer discretion is advised. Shange’s work isn’t for a younger audience, it’s better suited for individuals who can truly grasp what is being talked about in the poems.

I LOVE THIS SCENE!
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April Favorites

This month, I have decided to start doing a monthly favorites post. In this post, I will be paying homage to some of my favorite things, movies, books, etc. that I came across in the stated month.That being said….

My Favorite Book: 
     This month, I got a chance to read Sam Greenlee’s book, The Spook Who Sat By The Door in preparation for completing my final paper for my African-American Literature class. For me, this book was a present surprise. I didn’t expect to like it nearly as much as I did.
     The novel is about Freeman, an African-American revolutionist who is the “token black” within the CIA during the Civil Rights time period. Angered by the oppression of blacks in America, Freeman takes it upon himself to regain power for this racial group by training African-American gang members in Chicago to become a guerrilla army to fight against Whites. Readers get to see just how far, Freeman is willing to go to gain freedom from those he feel have wrongly governed over
blacks for far too long.
     This book was really powerful for me in terms of its message about how different minority cultures wear mask in an attempt to hide their true feelings about certain situations (i.e., questions of class, social treatment, etc.) or to keep themselves from shaking up other people’s perception of certain racial groups. While, I read this book as a part of my course curriculum, I would recommend it for anybody who enjoys a good historical novel or who wants to read a book that is akin to Native Son by Richard Wright or Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I didn’t write a review on this because I had so many emotions after reading it and was unsure how to put them all into a coherent review that was tasteful and informative opposed to sporadic ranting and philosophical musings…after all I do enough of that in school and this is my “happy place.” If anyone is interested in this book, I would definitely go on ebay and get a copy. The novel itself is sort of hard to get a hold of due to it being banned for a period of time by the American government (LOL it literally brings a whole new meaning to the term “banned” books).

My Favorite Movie:
      I simply LOVE the movie, Silver Linings Playbook. This movie had everything in it, romance, comedy, drama, mental illness topics…In short, it was phenomenal! The main plot follows Pat Solitano who has recently been released from a mental health facility. Pat’s main goal is to reconnect with his estranged wife, Nicki who he feels will fall back in love with him if only she can see just how well he is doing. Unfortunately, his family and friends aren’t giving up any information about Nicki to him and he’s left to fend for himself in winning his ex-wife back. When Pat meets Tiffany, a fellow unstable individual, he hatches a plan to get Nicki back and pick up the pieces of his life.
      What I loved about this movie is that it felt original. It didn’t feel like the characters were transplants from other movies who were just taking on new roles for the sake of drama, everything had a point. I also loved Bradley Cooper (Pat) and Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany) in this movie. They along with Chris Tucker played their roles flawlessly. Chris Tucker, who played Pat’s best friend from rehab, Danny added the perfect touch of comedy throughout the movie. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who loves a good romantic-comedy. I also want to read the book, which was written by Mathew Quick.

My Favorite Music:
       This month, I committed a rarity for me, I bought a FULL CD from iTunes instead of just individual songs off an album. The CD I bought was Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy. This CD is phenomenal! In total, there are eleven songs on the album with sounds that range from R&B like tracks all the way to rock. I definitely didn’t feel as if the album was one note thanks to the versatility that I saw in the album track list. If I was forced to choose specific songs to play on repeat, I would have to say my absolute favorite songs are “The Phoenix,” “Where Did the Party Go,” The Mighty Fall,” and “Just One Yesterday (feat. Foxes).” Even though the other songs are pure gold too, these four songs are my go-to walking soundtrack for getting to and from school on my early morning commutes.

My Favorite Television Show:
      This one was a bit of a no brainer since, I can’t get enough of watching reality television regardless of how scripted it maybe. Since it’s debut over four seasons ago, I have been in love with Style Networks’ Jerseylicious. This show follows a group of New Jersey hairstylists and make-up artist along with their families. Each season the show centers for the most part around two or more individuals who are at odds with each other and the audience gets to watch the juicy drama that ensues. The show also follows the characters as they go about their daily work lives.
      For the most part, Jerseylicious is tame compared to other reality shows that focus on a set cast. The hairstylists and make-up artist aren’t usually overly violent with the exception of maybe once/twice a season when an actual fist fight breaks out at random. The brunt of the drama takes place in gossip form that mirrors that of petty high schoolers so it is safe for people of all ages however, I would advise some parental control for individuals who are at an impressionable age. Yet, it should be noted that the cast do do good deeds such as, raising money and getting donations for Hurricane Sandy victims throughout New Jersey or putting together a coffee table book of different style icons from New Jersey’s history. If you ever get a chance, I would highly recommend this show especially, for people who were once avid Jersey Shore fans.

Cheers!

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Book Publishing Screw Up

While re-deciding what books to read this week I encountered a funny publishing mistake.

For the last year, I have been dying to read All Roads Lead To Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith. I finally broke down and ordered a copy from Thriftbooks.com over winter break as a Christmas present to myself. I didn’t get around to actually having time to read the book until this week and was gung-ho to add it to my TBR pile for this weekend until I opened it up….

…It turns out that my copy starts at Chapter 3. At first I thought that this was totally normal and that this book was the type of book where the storyline circles back around. I thought this because the novel is a travel memoir that has been written about Smith’s account of spending a year traveling and discussing Jane Austen books with different book groups in Latin America. Sadly, this is an ill conceived thought. According to Amazon First Looks, my book should have started some 30+ pages ago with the Author’s Note.

Le sigh…I guess I’ll have to write to the company I bought the book from and ask for another copy. I seriously can’t wait to read this book. Anticipation is literally swelling inside me and putting me on a book high.

smh…Anticipation is the devil in disguise.

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Going To The Edge Of Crazy: A Book Review On "32 Candles" by Ernessa T. Carter

I gave this book a solid 5 stars!!!

Ernessa T. Carter’s book, 32 Candles kept me entertained from start to finish.

Davidia Jones is an outcast at her school and unloved by her mother. Growing up as a dark-skinned African-American girl in her southern Mississippi town, she learns to fold in on herself and become numb to others’ taunts about her skin tone. Add to this the fact that Davidia refuses to speak at all, and it’s a recipe for disaster. However, once she reaches high school, the unthinkable happens……..she falls in love with James Farell, the newly arrived small-town football player and resident rich boy.

While James fails to acknowledge her presence, Davidia takes matters into her own hand and uses her Molly Ringwald-playbook to win James’ love. Unfortunately, James’s sisters have something else in mind and set off to make Davidia’s life hell. Fleeing from her small town after a prank goes too far, Davidia hitchhikes to Los Angeles with a female trucker. Here she changes her name to Davie Jones and becomes a sultry lounge singer. Seventeen years later, James walks back into Davie’s life and this time, she’s ready.

Davidia/Davie’s character is one of those characters that worm their way into the reader’s heart and forces them to become invested in the character’s story. Davidia’s character is well constructed and feels authentic to the reader. Even when she exacts her revenge on the Farell family, the reader has sympathy for her and may even want to help her payback the rich snobs who caused Davidia pain in high school by bullying her.

The author’s pacing for this story helps drive the story’s action. This is helpful in building the story steadily to climax and keeps the reader interested. The storyline also felt well though out and was easy to relate to whether you were popular in high school or an outcast. While the novel does span over a time period of roughly twenty-eight years, the pacing of the story never has the reader feeling the urge to hit fast forward on Davidia’s story.

Carter’s novel is definitely one that I would recommend to anyone who wants a taste of revenge or who just loves a good novel about a girl coming of age in the 80’s. However, I would caution that this book is meant for a mature audience since there are some heated scenes within the novel that may not be appropriate for a younger audience.

Cheers!

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Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Book Review

This book was finished on April 13, 2013.

I gave this book 4 stars.

After reading Lola & The Boy Next Door, I was a little skeptical about the hype surrounding Stephanie Perkins’ novels. However, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised in reading Anna & The French Kiss.

Anna is a rising senior from Atlanta, Georgia who’s father sends her off to spend her last year in high school at the American School of Paris. Crazy as it sounds, Anna is UPSET that her father would do something as wonderful as give her an all expensive paid YEAR in Paris! So grudgingly, she enters her final year of high school in a distant land where she doesn’t speak the language. However, once Anna is there, she meets a group of amazing friends and starts off a year full of new beginnings. There’s just one problem….she ends up falling for a boy who is taken.

While Anna’s’ character is somewhat cliche, her storyline isn’t overly unbearable. Perkins adds depth to the storyline by pairing Anna’s trials and tribulations with different viewings of cinema or books that the character studies in school or goes to see in her free time. I really enjoyed this maneuver by Perkins because unlike in Lola’s story, Anna’s dream of becoming a film critic are acted on subtly instead of drastically. This allowed me to not feel overpowered by the extraness of Anna’s character. The interweaving of movie knowledge within Anna’s story also gave me something to draw comparison’s to in Anna and St. Clair’s (i.e., her French crush) encounters.

In addition to this, I enjoyed the fact that Perkins’ novel was set in the romantic atmosphere of Paris, but she didn’t try to beat readers over the head with too much romance too quick. She spoonfeeds her readers Anna and St. Clair’s story in a way that isn’t tedious or too overbearing. ***SPOILER*** Yet, I was a little peeved that one of Anna and St. Clair’s other friends was hurt in the process of the two becoming a couple. I would’ve preferred if Perkins didn’t insert an extra girl for Anna to have to compete with within her own circle of friends to date St. Clair. This just seemed extra brutal in terms of the standard rules of friendship do’s and dont’s.***SPOILER***

This being said, while this book isn’t fully original in plot or theme, I did truly enjoy it. I would definitely reread and recommend this book to others. I’m seriously really looking forward to Isla & The Happy Ever After to come out in September after reading this novel.

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Dreams of Murder: A Book Review of "The Nightmare Affair" by Mindee Arnett

I gave this book 5 stars!!!!

This book was absolutely amazzzzzzzzing! I happened across The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett on Amira from AmirasBookReviews on YouTube during her list of anticipated books of 2013. During her synopsis of the book, I heard one of my favorite words for describing any book….MAGIC! That’s right! This book stars a magical cast of characters who are students at a magical boarding school (think Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins not, Harry Potter) and looking for clues to solve who’s behind the murders at their school. 

Fortunately, Arnett doesn’t take the normal character route of other YA writers and instead makes her main character, Dusty a nightmare. Not nightmare as in a whiny, obnoxious character but, nightmare as in a magical character who feeds off others’ dreams to obtain her magical powers. The story starts off with Dusty breaking into her crush, Eli’s room to “feed.” While doing so, she notices vast differences in Eli’s dreams. For starters, Eli’s dreams are in color and he’s dreaming of a murder. Thus begins one of the best paranormal/fantasy books I’ve read since I finished Hawkins’ series.

Arnett takes readers on a journey to find out who is killing the Keepers, a group of three magical beings one from fairykind, darkind (i.e., nightmares, demons, etc.), and witchkind. These Keepers are protecting some secret within the story. To solve this mystery, Dusty has to pair up with Eli allowing the two to become a dree-seer pair, a duo who help each other see into the future through dreaming.These two along with Dusty’s best friend, Serene, a siren become junior detectives pursuing the killer using all types of wacky tricks to stay ahead of the murderer and their teachers who have warned them to stay put.

With this book, I didn’t feel as if the author was reaching or even using recycled cliches to tell the story. Arnett’s characters felt fresh. The story line drives you to keep reading even when you think you know who the killer maybe. Dusty’s character is also relatable in the fact that, even though readers may not have magical powers, they may have experienced feeling like an outsider before, a feeling that Dusty often feels. I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who loves a good “who done it?” series or who just loves fantasy fiction.

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