Audio Book Review: The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Mighty Miss Malone CoverBook: The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis, narrated by Bahni Turpin

Published January 2012 by Listening Library|Run Time: 7 hours, 59 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio C.D. from the library

Series: None

Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

“We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful” is the motto of Deza Malone’s family. Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie’s beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father. The twists and turns of their story reveal the devastation of the Depression and prove that Deza truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.

Blog Graphic-What It's About

I wasn’t sure what to think about The Mighty Miss Malone at first- I had a hard time getting into it, but as I listened, I did like it more than I thought I would.

I think part of why I had a hard time with it, particularly at the beginning, is that Deza is very much a special snowflake.  She seemed a little too precocious and comes across as condescending.  I think that Deza has been told she’s special so much that she has a hard time handling not doing well on something- like when her best friend does better on an assignment than she does, and she expected her friend to feel bad about it.  She does seem to handle it a little bit better when she’s at a different school, but the book seems to be more about the Great Depression than race or segregation, even though it’s touched on a little bit.

And there were a couple points, especially towards the end, where it seemed like Deza’s love of reading and learning was very much encouraged, but Jimmie’s singing wasn’t really nurtured.  I’m not sure if it’s because the book is about Deza (and not Jimmie), but I definitely got the impression that Deza being good at school was more important than Jimmie being good at singing.

Still, we do see how racism affects her grades, and, more than anything, the book shows what it was like to live during the Great Depression.  It does do a great job of showing that, and I think that’s where the book shines.  It does touch on how hard it was for African-Americans to find work, and how much everything going on affected them.  For that alone, I’d definitely recommend the book, because I think it is something that needs to be talked about.

One thing that sort of confused me was when Deza, her mother and her brother arrive in Flint.  They’re supposed to stay with her dad’s mother (her grandmother) but once they get to Flint, there is no mention of her grandmother for the rest of the book.  And if they’re supposed to be staying with relatives there, then why do they stay in the shanty-town, instead of going to find Deza’s grandmother?  Unless I missed something when I was listening to the book, which is possible.  But why have it be part of the book, when it doesn’t even go anywhere, and is never mentioned again?

I wasn’t sure about the narration at first- I definitely didn’t like it, and I think the narration is a big part of why I didn’t like Deza at first.  Deza sounded a lot older than 12, and something about her tone of voice really grated on me, to the point that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep listening.  It did get better over the course of the book, and I do feel bad, because a person has no control over what their voice sounds like.  I definitely won’t be seeking out anything else narrated by Turpin, but for me, I might think twice about an audio book if I know she’s narrating it.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I did like the book, because it does a wonderful job at showing what it was like to be alive during The Great Depression.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of Deza, or the narrator, but it’s a really good look at the Great Depression, and that makes it worth checking out.

Book Review: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

A Criminal Magic CoverBook: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

Published February 2016 by Saga Press|432 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Alternate History

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In Lee Kelly’s newest fantasy novel, two young sorcerers experiment with magic and mobsters in 1920s Prohibition when a new elixir is created that turns their lives upside down.

Washington, DC, 1926. Sorcery opponents have succeeded in passing the 18th Amendment, but the Prohibition of magic has only invigorated the city’s underworld. Smuggling rings carry magic contraband in from the coast. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Gangs have even established “magic havens,” secret venues where the public can lose themselves in immersive magic and consume a mind-bending, highly addictive elixir known as “the sorcerer’s shine.”

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from the backwoods of Norfolk County, accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, The Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws. When Joan meets Alex at the Shaws’ magic haven, she discovers a confidante in her fellow partner and he begins to fall under her spell. But when a new breed of the addictive sorcerer’s shine is created within the walls of the magic haven, Joan and Alex are forced to question their allegiances as they become pitted against one another in a dangerous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it, because the idea of Prohibition, but with magic, instead of alcohol, was really different but also interesting!

I just love the idea of a world where Prohibition was all about magic, and not alcohol.  It’s really different, and I wanted to keep reading, even when I had finished the book.  I particularly loved the last few chapters, and especially the last chapter.  It was all so unexpected, and for the entire book, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the ending went.

And it’s interesting is that things are tied up really well, and you know it’s the end of the book, but it’s still just open enough that you’re hoping it’s the first book in a series.  I was surprised to find that’s a stand-alone, because the world was so fascinating that I wanted more, and I couldn’t believe that this was all we were getting.

I loved the world, and I wanted to know more about it.  Considering it’s fantasy, and just over 400 pages, the world-building was pretty good.  You get a really good sense of what magic is like in this world, and how different the magic is for everyone who can do magic.  And I loved the concept of The Shine- and the other products (which seems to be the best way to describe it) that produce a similar effect that Shine does.  In a way, the effects reminded me of someone on drugs, so maybe that would be a slightly better word than products.

Still, I can’t remember if we ever learn why magic was illegal, and if it’s not explained why, then I wish it was something that was explained, because it’s something I really want to know.  And if it was mentioned, then clearly it didn’t stick.

But I really liked the twist on Prohibition, and I think the time period was why it worked as a stand-alone. While there was a lot of world-building, it didn’t need as much because it was a twist on something that already happened.

I really liked Joan and Alex, but I found that I liked Joan’s chapters a lot more than Alex’s.  Alex did have an interesting story, and I liked how their stories came together, but as the book went on, I found that I cared a lot more about Joan than Alex, and I’m not sure why.  Still, they both had such an interesting story that I can’t help but wonder what happened to both of them after the end of the book, and if Prohibition was ever repealed in this world.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, and I’m not sure why, because there are a lot of really interesting and different things about A Criminal Magic.  But I did really like it, and it’s definitely worth checking out!

Book Talk: A Spoiler-Free Talk About Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Midnight Release Party

Book Talk is a sporadic feature where I talk about bookish things that aren’t book reviews.

Book Talk

Today’s topic is…Harry Potter!  Specifically, the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party, but I wanted to share a little bit of my own Harry Potter story.  I have read The Cursed Child already, and I’m going to talk about it but I promise there will be no spoilers in this post.  I will be probably be doing a review full of spoilers when I’ve had the chance to read it again.

A Little Bit Of My Harry Potter Story:

I’ve loved Harry Potter ever since I saw the first movie.  I saw it, loved it, and then immediately read the 4 books that were already out.  I anxiously awaited the release of each book and movie, reading theories on Mugglenet and mostly reading fanfiction (but writing a little too) and words cannot completely express what Harry Potter means to me. Whatever is going on my life, I know that I pick up Harry Potter, and everything will be fine.

I don’t have a lot of memories of midnight release parties for the books or the movies.  Bookwise, I only made to the Deathly Hallows midnight release party, and for the movies, only Deathly Hallows, Part Two.  I remember pre-ordering Deathly Hallows at Barnes And Noble, and going to their midnight release party, and wandering around the store a little, but also doing a couple craft, there was random trivia, and Harry Potter scene-it.  I got the book, and was up all night reading the book, and then going into work exhausted because I was up all night. But it was worth it, because I love having that memory.  And for Deathly Hallows, part two?  It was magical and fun to be watching Harry Potter at midnight in a packed theater, and the experience of that made it really fun and memorable.

Finding Out About The Cursed Child Script:

I remember seeing the news that the script for The Cursed Child on a blog post, and at first, I couldn’t believe it. I honestly thought it was a joke, and when I finally looked at the news headlines, and realized it was really happening, I jumped up and down screaming for about 10 minutes.  I immediately pre-ordered the e-book- I didn’t care that it was more than what I’d usually pay for an e-book (and the price can probably be explained by the fact that it’s a new Harry Potter book).

It wasn’t until recently that I had the thought to pre-order a print copy, to go on my shelf with the rest of the series.  I thought I had pre-ordered it too late, because Mysterious Galaxy had a wait-list going.  But I was really excited when they called saying they had more copies, and I was able to get one.

Either way, I was going to the midnight release party, because I didn’t want to miss out on the magic.

Going To The Midnight Release Party:

I knew that I was going to dress up, because how could you not?  I dressed up as Fleur Delacour- I made the hat and capelet she wears in the movie, because it was easier and cheaper than buying them.  I had a bit of trouble finding a dress in the right color, because when I need a powder blue dress, that is the color I can’t find to save my life.  Either I need to start planning costumes better, or I need to learn how to sew, so I can just make what I need.  But I was willing to go with any shade of blue I could find, but I found something close enough to powder blue that I wasn’t stressing out about it.

I arrived at Mysterious Galaxy, checked in at the register, and got my orange slip so that I could pick up my book when midnight hit.  I looked around a little, I got in line for snacks, colored a little, and watched people play Charades and Taboo.  I hung out with my friend Mollie, which was also fun, and made an already fun night even more fun.

And I loved seeing the costumes!  There were a lot of people in robes, and some of the kids had really cute costumes- one kid was dressed up as Snape, another as Malfoy, and a third was dressed up as a dementor.  There were people dressed up as Trelawney, Snape, and there was an impressively costumed Dumbledore and Sprout. And it was weird, but fun getting compliments, and a couple people even asked if they could get a picture of me.

They had really cool decorations- devil’s snare on some bookshelves, the flying keys, the floating candles, and textbooks, cauldrons, and potions bottles scattered around the store.  But I think my favorite thing was the muggle wall, where people wrote about their memories of Harry Potter.  The costume contest was fun, but the kid who won was cute (but then again, they all were), and for the adult costume contest, it was no surprise the woman dressed up as Sprout won.

Just before midnight, we sang Happy Birthday and then went to stand in line.  The line was (not surprisingly) pretty long, and wrapped around the building, but because everyone had paid already, the line moved fast, because they were basically just handing out the book.

So a little after midnight, I was holding the script for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child in my hands.  AND IT WAS GLORIOUS AND COMPLETELY AMAZING.

HP Cursed Child

In Which I Read The Script And Talk About It With No Spoilers At All:

I got home, changed into my pajamas, made some coffee (that I never drank), started playing Sorcerer’s Stone, and settled in on the couch.  And I read until I had finished.  It was only a couple of hours, because as a script, it went pretty fast.

While I’m not the biggest fan of READING plays, I love Harry Potter so much that I did not care.  With reading plays, you are missing out on a big part of it: actually seeing it being performed.  Reading it just isn’t the same as seeing it live on stage, but with the Cursed Child, I’m glad I get to at least read it, because I’m sure tickets for it are really hard to get, plus there’s the fact that I’m not in London, so that’s a factor.

I fully acknowledge that there is a piece of the Cursed Child that I’ve missed, because I’ve only read the script and haven’t seen it performed.  But that doesn’t stop me from loving the story, because I did, and my rating, right off the bat, would be 5 stars.  That may change, once I have a chance to read it again, and actually have time to think about it a little more.  Because right now, I’m super-excited, and I have so many thoughts, and it definitely needs another read.

What I loved the most about the midnight release party, though, is the reminder that Harry Potter brings so many different people together, and how much Harry Potter means to people.  I can’t think of any other book that inspires so many people to have parties to celebrate a book coming out, and waiting in long lines just to get a copy, only to go home and stay up until they’ve finished it.

I am so glad that I got to go to one more Harry Potter midnight release party, because I never thought we would get another one for the books.

And, of course, I would love to wish a very happy birthday to Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling.

Book Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel CoverBook: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Published September 2014 by HarperTeen|249 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Lone City #1

Genre: YA Dystopia

Blog Graphic-What It's About

“Today is my last day as Violet Lasting. Tomorrow I become Lot 197.”

The Jewel is a shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing.

Sold for six million diamantes, Violet is now Surrogate of the House of the Lake in the centre of the Lone City, the Jewel. Her sole purpose is to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess – a woman Violet fears and despises.

Violet is trapped in a living death, her name and body no longer her own. She fights to hold on to her own identity and sanity, uncertain of the fate of her friends, isolated and at the mercy of the Duchess.

The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.

Blog Graphic-What It's About

I thought The Jewel was an interesting idea, and it reminded me of quite a few dystopias out there- The Hunger Games, the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, The Selection by Kiera Cass, and there was something about the book that made me think of Divergent too, and I think there’s something about some of the events that happen in this book (and could potentially happen in the next one), that we could see elements of Divergent in the rest of the series.  So basically, I was reminded of some of the more well-known dystopias out there, and it’s why it ended being just okay.

I spent a lot of the book comparing to other books in the same genre, and that worked against the book, because it was similar enough to other books that I was bored and thought it to be a little bit predictable.  I did finish it, and I did like it, because the overall idea was interesting enough to keep me reading and caught my interest just enough that I wanted to give it a try.

I thought Violet was lackluster.  I think part of it is that she wants to tell people her name, instead of her lot number, but she’s constantly referred to as 197 or the surrogate.  That was one of the more interesting things about the book, because in a way, it makes her less human if she’s nameless.  I do wonder if that’s partially why I felt disconnected, because everyone viewed her as someone who will produce a child, instead of an actual person.

The only thing I remember about her is that she plays the cello, but beyond that, I feel like there’s nothing special about her.  She’s special but there seems to be no reason for why she’s so special.  At least, we don’t find out what that is in this book.  And if she’s so special and can do things no one else can, why was she lot 197, and not lot 200? That makes no sense at all.

There was romance, but it didn’t stand out, and there’s not much to say about it, because it was boring, and didn’t get my attention.  It’s undeveloped and sudden, and quite honestly, I’m not sure why it’s even in the book.

I have a lot of unanswered questions about this world, and the little world-building we get doesn’t explain much.  It felt like it wouldn’t hold up if you looked at it too closely, because we only get bits and pieces of why there are surrogates and not much else.

I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be reading the next one.  I don’t necessarily have a problem continuing on with the series, and with how the last few pages went, I am curious about what’s going on. It’s definitely enough that I’m considering reading at least the next one, but I don’t think it will be anytime soon.

I’ve never read The Handmaid’s Tale so I’m not sure about that comparison, but I don’t get the comparison to The Other Boleyn Girl.  Granted, it’s been quite a few years since I’ve read it, so maybe I’m missing something, but from what I do remember, I don’t get the comparison at all.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  I wanted to give it a higher rating, because I do like the overall idea, but I was too reminded by the similarities to other books to really enjoy it.

Book Review: A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court Of Mist And Fury CoverBook: A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Published May 2016 by Bloomsbury USA|640 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: A Court Of Thorns And Roses #2

Genre: NA Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

The #1 New York Times bestselling sequel to Sarah J. Maas’ spellbinding A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really liked A Court Of Mist And Fury!  I like it so much more than A Court Of Thorns And Roses, and it’s going to be a long wait for the next one.

So, Feyre’s deal with Rhysand…I had no idea what to expect with it, but I really liked where it went.  I loved Rhysand in this book (and he was definitely my favorite in ACOTAR), and after reading this book, I am completely sold on him and Feyre.  Rhys and Feyre are equals, and they are on equal ground, much more than Tamlin and Feyre ever were.  Rhysand is supportive and encouraging and better for Feyre than Tamlin ever will be.

Because honestly?  Tamlin is horrible!  Completely horrible…and he seemed like such a different Tamlin in this book, that I couldn’t believe I liked him at first.  I definitely want to go back to read the first one, because I can’t help but wonder if I missed something.  What happened in between ACOTAR and ACOFAM that Tamlin switched personalities?  Was it there, but I didn’t notice, or did he really change that much?  Because how he treated Feyre wasn’t okay, and I don’t care what his reasons were, it wasn’t okay.  And when he came in, all apologetic, because she gone for ages, and he wanted her back?  He doesn’t deserve her, and she can a lot better than a guy who didn’t realize he had a good person.

As much as I like Rhysand and Feyre together- and as much as I think that Rhysand is a better fit for Feyre after everything she’s gone through- I dislike that Tamlin had to change so much just to make Rhys look like the better option.  I think he is in a lot of ways, and I wish that Feyre had gone to Rhys in a different way, because I’m not a fan of how that was done, even though I like the end result.  I guess I have some hesitations about Rhys and Feyre, more than I originally thought.  But overall, I stick with what I said in the above paragraph.

I loved seeing the Night Court, and different it is from the Spring Court.  I hope we get to see more of the different Courts as the series progresses.

Another thing I wanted to talk about is the series, but this book in particular, as a YA book.  For me, it’s more New Adult than YA, and that’s because of the sex scenes.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with sex in YA, but in ACOFAM, they’re more detailed than what you typically see in YA, and I’m hesitant to classify it as such.  But it’s not like there’s a New Adult section at the library or the bookstore, and since it’s fantasy (not contemporary romance), that’s probably why shelved in the YA section.  I’d say that it’s probably appropriate for 15 and up.

Now that I have that out of the way, let’s talk about how we see the consequences of everything that happened that happened in the first book.  Things started to make a lot more sense, and that’s because we learned a lot more about what’s going on.

I also loved most of the new characters we see in the book, and they’re all so memorable and distinct and wonderful, and they are just amazing!  They really stand out and I can’t wait to see more of them in the rest of the series.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I dislike how much Tamlin changed just to make Rhys and Feyre work, even though I love them together.  And even though I like it a lot more than ACOTAR, it wasn’t quite a 5 star read for me.

Book Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

The Crown's Game CoverBook: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Published May 2016 by Balzer + Bray|416 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Crown’s Game #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Vika Andreyev can summon the snow and turn ash into gold.

Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air.

They are enchanters, the only two in Russia and, with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, a duel of magical skill. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter, even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has.

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Imagine The Night Circus, set in Russia, where the “winner” of a magical duel becomes the adviser to the tsar, and the loser dies, because only one enchanter can access the magic source…and you have The Crown’s Game. The Night Circus is a magical book, and this book was pretty magical, with a touch of politics.

I really liked learning more about Nikolai’s family, but I wish we knew more about Vika’s family.  I know that learning about Nikolai’s parents is much more important to the plot than Vika’s parents, but still.  I’m holding out hope that we learn more about them in the next book.

I really liked both Nikolai and Vika, and how different, but also complementary, their magic was.  It makes me a little sad that only one could survive but only one enchanter surviving makes a lot of sense.  I also feel pretty hopeful we haven’t seen the last of both Nikolai and Vika- I only say both because I don’t want to spoil what happens, because it took me off-guard.

And that leads me to Pasha, who I hate with a passion.  He is a complete idiot, and I hate that he became tsar. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time someone made bad decisions, and that people who aren’t good leaders become leaders anyway.  Still, his actions caused a lot of hurt for a lot of people, and while I get that he didn’t fully understand the consequences of his actions, he did get a very horrible wake-up call when he finally realized the effect his decisions had.  I hope he doesn’t try to get Vika back, because I don’t think she’ll have it. At all.  And even if he does, I hope she doesn’t give him another chance.  She deserves a lot better than the spoiled brat that is Pasha.

I also love that we have a fantasy novel set in Russia.  Shadow And Bone is the only other Russian-inspired fantasy I can think of, and Russia is the perfect setting for the book!  I love the story behind the magic and the Crown’s Game and the enchanters, and it all works really well together.  Skye did such a great job with the research, and she blends fantasy and history really well.  It’s such a believable story, and there were times where I forgot that magic wasn’t real because it blended so well into this world.

I expected something slightly darker to the duel, but the way that things went (at least initially) is what reminded me so much of The Night Circus.  For some reason, they are very good read-alikes, and I recommend it to anyone who loves The Night Circus.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the magic, and everything about it the duel (again, initially), but based on the summary, I thought it would be a lot more cutthroat than what we got.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, and I did want something darker/edgier than what we got but I also loved seeing the magic, and I liked the blend of history and fantasy.

Book Review: Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

Bound Napoli CoverBook: Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

Published November 2004 by Atheneum|184 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Young Xing Xing is bound.  Bound to her father’s second wife and daughter after Xing Xing’s father has passed away. Bound to a life of servitude as a young girl in ancient China, where the life of a woman is valued less than that of livestock. Bound to be alone and unmarried, with no parents to arrange for a suitable husband. Dubbed “Lazy One” by her stepmother, Xing Xing spends her days taking care of her half sister, Wei Ping, who cannot walk because of her foot bindings, the painful but compulsory tradition for girls who are fit to be married. Even so, Xing Xing is content, for now, to practice her gift for poetry and calligraphy, to tend to the mysterious but beautiful carp in her garden, and to dream of a life unbound by the laws of family and society.

But all of this is about to change as the time for the village’s annual festival draws near, and Stepmother, who has spent nearly all of the family’s money, grows desperate to find a husband for Wei Ping. Xing Xing soon realizes that this greed and desperation may threaten not only her memories of the past, but also her dreams for the future.

In this searing story, Donna Jo Napoli, acclaimed author of “Beast and Breath,” delves into the roots of the Cinderella myth and unearths a tale as powerful as it is familiar.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really like fairy tale re-tellings, and I was really intrigued by a Chinese re-telling of Cinderella.  Especially because I loved Cinder.  I liked it, but not as much as I liked Cinder.  However, if you want something a little more historical, and a little less dystopic, this is definitely a good book to check out.

It seems like it’s a pretty straightforward re-telling of Cinderella, and I like that it’s pretty similar to one of the Chinese variations on the Cinderella story.  I do wish the author had deviated from the original story a little more, just because I would have liked to see her do something different with her re-telling of Cinderella.  It’s very clear that it’s a Cinderella re-telling, which I liked, but…I still wanted something slightly different, because if I wanted something that mirrored the original pretty closely, I’d go read the original.

Because of the setting, it’s a slightly different take on the Cinderella story we’re familiar with, partly because of Disney and partly because of the different Roger’s & Hammerstein versions out there (of which the Whitney Houston one is my favorite, but probably because it’s the only one I’ve seen, not counting the Disney version).  It seems like there are more variations on the Cinderella story across different time periods and continents that any other fairy tale out there, and this episode of The History Chicks does a great job at going over all of the different variations.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  It’s a pretty straightforward re-telling of one of the many variations of the Cinderella story, and I love the setting.  I like that it re-tells a version most Americans probably aren’t familiar with, but at the same time, I wanted some sort of twist on the story we all know.

Book Review: The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House On Mango Street CoverBook: The House Of Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Published April 1991 (originally published 1984) by Vintage|110 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, The House on Mango Street is Sandra Cisneros’s greatly admired novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago. Acclaimed by critics, beloved by children, their parents and grandparents, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, it has entered the canon of coming-of-age classics.

Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn’t want to belong–not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza’s story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become. 

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Like Things Fall Apart, The House On Mango Street was a book I had to read in high school, and even though I sort of remembered the story, there was a lot I had forgotten since then.  I don’t remember how I felt about it when I read it in high school- I’m pretty sure it wasn’t one of the few books I had to read and ended up liking, but as an adult, I really liked it.

I really liked how we get these snapshots of Esperanza’s life over the course of a year.  You get such a good glimpse of what her neighborhood is like, and the expectations that the world has for her.  You see how she wants to break out of that, and how she wants more for herself, even though the people around her might not expect it, or even encourage it.  There were a couple points- some unwelcome kisses and when one of her neighbors gets married- where there could be more to it, but you could also just take it as it was written.

It definitely broke my heart at times, but there were also times where I really felt for Esperanza, and I finished the book feeling confident that things would work out in her favor.  It reminded me of my own childhood, and how different things are now for kids.  There is something timeless about this book, and even though it was published just over 30 years ago, it holds up really well.  It’s still relevant, and totally worth reading, if you haven’t read it.  It’s even worth re-reading as an adult, and I’m actually glad I happened to see it at the library.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t quite love it, just because I wanted to live in Esperanza’s world for a little bit longer, but overall, I’m really glad I picked it up and read it.

Book Review: Some Like It Wicked by Teresa Medeiros

Some Like It Wicked CoverBook: Some Like It Wicked by Teresa Medeiros

Published by July 2008 by Avon|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Kincaid Highland #1

Genre: Adult Romance/Historical Romance

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Some like it dangerous . . .

Highland beauty Catriona Kincaid cares nothing for propriety—or even her own safety—when she storms the grounds of Newgate Prison. Determined to return to Scotland and restore her clan’s honor, she seeks the help of Sir Simon Wescott, a disgraced nobleman and notorious rogue. She is prepared to offer him both wealth and freedom, but she never dreams the wicked rake will be bold enough to demand a far more sensual prize.

Some like it seductive . . .

Simon is shocked to discover the tomboy he met long ago has blossomed into a headstrong temptress. Although he’s sworn off his dreams of becoming a hero, he can’t resist playing knight errant to Catriona’s damsel in distress. Both adventure and peril await them at her Highland home, where they will risk their lives to vanquish her enemies . . . and risk their hearts to discover a passion beyond their wildest dreams.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Romance is one of those genres I always tell myself I’m going to read more of, and yet, it’s one of those genres I never seem to read a lot of.  Which is weird, because, for the most part, I’ve really liked a lot of the romances I’ve read. Sadly, this wasn’t the case for Some Like It Wicked, which turned out to be okay for me.

Catriona definitely is what I’d call strong.  She’s very determined to make sure the family name and the family land is okay, and she’s willing to do what she has to in order to get it back.  She was naive about some things (particularly in regards to Simon), but everything worked out in the end, and it wasn’t actually annoying.  In fact, it made sense for Catriona herself.  She wasn’t as wild and independent as I thought she’d be, but she did seem to be pretty independent by the end of the book.

And Simon…what can I say about Simon?  He definitely redeemed himself by the end of the book, and I actually liked Simon a lot more than I thought, especially where Cat was concerned.

But them together?  I liked them together, but only a little.  They certainly balance each other out, but I didn’t quite feel them as a couple.  They definitely had chemistry, and I wanted to love them together, but I just didn’t.

And it wasn’t as focused on romance as I thought it would be.  It was definitely there, but it felt like it was more about Catriona saving her family than anything else.  It ended super-happy- which is fine, and I pretty much expected that- but…I don’t know, I just wasn’t enthused with the super-happy ending.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  I don’t have much to say about Some Like It Wicked.  I get why people really like it/love it but it’s not one of my favorites.  I’d definitely give another one of her books a try, but not anytime soon.

Book Review: Missoula: Rape And Injustice In A College Town by Jon Krakauer

Missoula CoverBook: Missoula: Rape And Injustice In A College Town by Jon Krakauer

Published April 2015 by Doubleday|349 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Missoula, Montana is a typical college town, home to a highly regarded state university whose beloved football team inspires a passionately loyal fan base. Between January 2008 and May 2012, hundreds of students reported sexual assaults to the local police. Few of the cases were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.

In these pages, acclaimed journalist Jon Krakauer investigates a spate of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula over a four-year period. Taking the town as a case study for a crime that is sadly prevalent throughout the nation, Krakauer documents the experiences of five victims: their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the skepticism directed at them by police, prosecutors, and the public; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. These stories cut through abstract ideological debate about acquaintance rape to demonstrate that it does not happen because women are sending mixed signals or seeking attention. They are victims of a terrible crime, deserving of fairness from our justice system. Rigorously researched, rendered in incisive prose, Missoula stands as an essential call to action.  

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Missoula was a book I heard about last year, and finally picked up this year.  It’s also a book that I’ve put off reviewing, because how do you talk about a book like Missoula?

I got so angry when reading it, and for me, the first 100 pages or so, were really hard to read.  How people listen to it on audio, I don’t know, because I had a hard enough time reading it, much less listening to it.  Still, the graphic descriptions of rape are almost clinical, but it is something to keep in mind if you pick up this book.

I thought the first half of the book was a lot stronger than the second half, just because the second half of the book is a lot of court transcripts, and those, I ended up skimming over.  And I can’t say that I was surprised by how the victims were treated, and that the district attorney’s office decided not to go forward with prosecuting many cases, even when they had reason to, because I wasn’t.  And Kirten Pabst, one of the District Attorneys…her actions were completely horrible, and I was completely horrified by her actions, and that she would go on to be elected District Attorney.

Missoula is an important book, though, and one everyone should read.  There are a lot of small details in the book, and I felt like Krakauer put a lot of work and research into the book.  If you know anything at all about how rape is handled in the U.S., this book might not reveal anything new, but the stories surrounding the women in this book were very moving, and if it opens someone’s eyes and sparks even a few conversations, then I think it’s worth it.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  It was moving and hard to read, but the court transcripts were a little dry and ended up being something I skimmed.  Still, I think it’s a book everyone needs to read, because it deals with a crime that is under reported, and where victims are blamed for what they went through.