Gregor the Overlander – Go Forth and Read

Gregor the Overlander is the dashing young (11-12yrs old) hero in a series of books written by Suzanne Collins who also brought us the Hunger Games. I must say for as long as the prospect of giant bugs put me off of reading these books she really did an excellent job. Gregor is a preteen young man living in the city that never sleeps, New York City, New York. He lives with his mother, sisters and grandmother is typical New York fashion for the working class. His father seems to have disappeared into nothingness a couple of years ago and Gregor is helping his mom keep everything together while they eek by on her salary. Gregor is a little mature for his age which makes sense as he is the oldest and he helps to keep his siblings fed.

All that changed the minute he fell through a dryer vent with his sister Boots. Gregor discovered a whole new world far below New York City. This world is completely different from the one he is used to and incredibly dangerous. Over the course of five books Collins introduced a number of different creatures and Gregor has to make a lot of tough decisions. I’m a huge fan of Rick Riordan and this series is at least as good as the Percy Jackson books. When they make the movies I’ll surely be just as disappointed. What I love about this series is that Collins doesn’t treat Gregor with kid gloves. He is the warrior, In tough situations he has to make tough decisions, all the while dealing with the fact that to his parents he is still a child and will eventually have to go back to life in the Overland. They are quick reads, and well worth acquainting yourself with.

In the last book Gregor comes to realize that while he has been named the warrior by a strange series of prophecies he does not have to let that influence the rest of his life or even his decisions in the moment. What a novel concept, just because someone old says something does not make it so, does not make it prophecy, does not make it inevitable. May we all come to realize we are the harbingers of our own happy or sad endings.

I’ve enjoyed a lot of youth fiction this summer, perhaps it is because I have been immersed in children’s programming or perhaps it is because there is something lovely about a plot that doesn’t involve silly sexual tension or needless death/rape/death scenes (I’m looking at you George RR Martin). I enjoy adult content and complicated plot lines as much as the next person but there is something clean and fresh in seeing the world from the perspective of a child too young to know yet what the real monsters are.

I’ve linked the books below.

Gregor the Overlander

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

Gregor the and the Curse of the Warmbloods

Gregor and the Marks of Secret

Gregor and the Code of the Claw

Book Review – Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Womens Prison

Over the last few months of teeny baby craziness I haven’t done a ton of reading, but I have managed to squeeze in a few books. One of those books was Orange is the New Black: My Year In a Women’s Prison.

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I’ve watched the Netflix original series based on the book and I enjoyed it so I decided to read the book and it was actually a really good read. The story center around a woman named Piper Kerman. Kerman was a self surrender to the prison system after being convicted of a crime she committed many years earlier. Thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing and a rather self serving justice system a one time mistake she made in her twenties ended up being a prison sentence she served in her thirties. Kerman tells of the relationships she developed with the other inmates and the ways that her stint in prison changed her outlook on the prison system.

I’ve read many biographies and I often blog about my own life so I am familiar with a myriad of stories and storytelling ways but this was a unique and well thought out perspective on what is often a rather mysterious place. Kerman met many interesting women while in prison and she tells part of their story as well as her own. She also hits on an important topic, especially in today’s world; the privatization of the prison system. Is it right to place our offenders in prisons run by private corporations for profit? Even before reading Kerman’s story I would have said, probably not, but definitely after reading her perspective I think we are doing a terrible disservice to our citizens by placing them in these privately run facilities. The sad conditions and silly bureaucracies of the private prison system driven by a monetary bottom line are obviously not going to be particularly interested in rehabilitation of prisoners since they, by therevery nature, only make money if people are sent to their facilities.

This is a great book. Go, forth and read.

Product Review: Organic Belly Balm

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While I haven’t really bought into a whole lot of Maternity related products…in fact I typically avoid them like the plague, I have really enjoyed this Organic Belly Balm. I was given it as a gift for Christmas and if not for that I probably would never have bought anything no matter how much my growing belly itched. It is organic, as the label states, and honestly it is a bit pricey at $16.00~ a jar, but it has been highly effective. I have no stretch marks and right now I am almost 10 inches bigger around the waist then pre pregnancy. It has also gotten rid of all belly itch which was a really rather inconvenient problem I had before the balm. The other benefit is that the smell is really nice. It is a nice, neutral smell which I appreciate considering my new highly energized nose.

It comes from the Honest Company and you can buy it here or at the Maternity store, which is where my jar comes from. The jar is only about a quarter of the way depleted and I have used it every day since Christmas so I imagine it will last until almost before I have this baby. If you are looking for a belly cream or balm I highly recommend this.

Did you have any pregnancy products that really made a difference?

*I was in no way compensated for this review*

Death Comes to Pemberly

death comes to Pemberly

My newest Netflix discovery has been Death Comes to Pemberly. While I am not an obsessive Pride and Prejudice fan I do enjoy movies and sometimes books associated with the worlds created by Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice) and Elizabeth Gaskell (Wives and Daughters, North and South). My favorite of these is probably North and South. Something about spring time just makes me want to watch a ton of haughty British miniseries and read all the associated books. This is perfect coinciding with my discover of Death Comes to Pemberly in the Netflix catalog.

This continuation of the P&P story takes place a few years after the original book ends with Darcy and Elizabeth and a bouncing, rather energetic young Darcy Jr. The movie (it is also a book) takes place around the time that the family is prepping for a grand ball. Georgiana makes an appearance as does Colonel Fitzwilliam, Jane, and several other beloved and some not so beloved characters. Leading up to the ball Captain Denny, and the still rather deplorable, but now a decorated war hero Wickham and as always a rather silly Lydia are on their way to the ball to *surprise* their relatives by showing up there unexpectedly in hopes of not being turned away. During the carriage ride Captain Denny has a fit of conscience and jumps out of the carriage with Wickham on his heels. During the ensuing panic Captain Denny is murdered and of course Wickham is the primary, possibly only suspect.

From here we are lead on a merry chase through many clues and multiple suspects until then final conclusion. It is a mighty mystery filled with touches of romance here and there. The movie definitely captures the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth and shows how their relationship could have grown in the ensuing years after the conclusion of P&P. We also get a rather satisfactory ending to Georgiana’s story. I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to get their British romance fix. And if you don’t have Netflix it is quite reasonably priced on Amazon.

Book Review: Sustain by Tijan

sustain cover

I’ve read a lot of books by Tijan. I really love all the ones I have read so far. Some more than others. This book was good, a little different, but good. Sustain seemed to come out of nowhere until I realized that the book was actually about the band we meet in the Broken and Screwed series. I really, really enjoyed the Broken and Screwed books. Jesse and Alex have a great, if rather complex story. In Sustain we meet Luke and Bri (again). And there story is just as complex.

What I liked about it: The characters are strong. The side characters are really interesting and it looks like they will get their own books. Even though Bri starts out dating a rather shady individual she quickly dumps him when things come to light and doesn’t look back. Bri is a kick ass awesome drummer and strong female character.

Luke takes a little more time to get to know. He is definitely not my favorite of Tijan’s male characters, but he has several redeeming qualities. The other characters make up for a lot that our main man might be lacking. The dynamic of the band is great! Those guys are so dysfunctional but they somehow work great together. There are a ton of funny moments that are well worth the read.

What I didn’t like: Now, normally I am not a big advocate of dragging things out. I like one book wonders. I also think that if a story needs more than one book then that is fine too. I would have like to have scene more explanation, more back ground, and frankly more blanks filled in.

All in all Tijan is a solid writer who gave us yet another good book. Check it out for yourself. It is available on Amazon!

What have you been reading?

Sustain by Tijan

sustain
Meet Bri & Luke in Sustain!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1vOTsqZ
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Bu63Ro
Kobo: http://bit.ly/17IBgnI
iBooks: http://apple.co/18BFe2I

Blurb

I had a simple life.
I worked two jobs, made ends meet, and hung out with my mom and twin brother. The other part of my life was about avoiding him, but when SWAT raided my boyfriend’s home, that was the last straw. The boyfriend got tossed and to help me keep busy, my brother talked me into joining their old band again, but I had to be honest. It wasn’t a hard sell. Playing drums was in my blood. I used to be addicted and that craving hadn’t been satisfied in three long years. The only problem was their lead singer.
It was him. The drums might not have been the only thing I was addicted to. I think I was still addicted to him too.

Meet Bri

Luke hit a jarring note on his guitar below, drawing me from the past and back to reality. Seriously. I’d been ready to take on two thugs beside a dumpster for my stupid-ass cousin, but this had ice filling my veins.
I rolled my eyes upward. What was wrong with me?
The melody was addictive. I felt it reach deep inside me and take root. My breathing wavered as he kept playing. He moved down a chord, and the sound of it seeped into me, smoothing out the haunted memories. Then he began singing. His voice was soft and low, but I could hear it as if I were in the room. He was weaving a spell. It was like he threw a spear that had a rope attached to it at me from a hundred yards away, and it embedded deep into my stomach. Then he began pulling on it. I couldn’t fight because it would yank out my insides, but damn, I didn’t want to go with it. This whole thing with Luke was both painful and exhilarating at the same time. I had two urges going through me at once. One was to crap my pants, and the other was to start doing cartwheels.
I was just messed up, which is why I started down the stairs. I still had no clue what to say, but I had to do something.
He was hunched over the guitar in his lap with a beer at his feet. His eyes were closed, and his head hung over the guitar as he hit another chord, his thumb beating out the base. Since he was only wearing jeans, I saw some of the scars on his back. A storm of regret, shame, and longing all swirled inside me. I wanted to go to him, run my hands over those scars, and make them disappear. I couldn’t, though. We weren’t close anymore.
So many ghosts within you
So many haunts to pull you away
You look, I reach out and there’s nothing to do
They take you from me again, far away
I can’t, I can’t, I can’t take your hand
He kept singing, and my heart felt like it was splitting into two, but then he faltered. His eyes opened, and he looked up. He didn’t stop playing, but he stopped singing.
I felt like he was strumming me. I couldn’t look away from his gaze. His thumb stopped hitting the bass, and his fingers slowed on the guitar. “What are you doing here?”
Right. I was pretty sure I was seeing lust in his eyes. With that thought, a fever took over my blood, heating me up. “I,” my tongue wet my lips, “um, I’m here to talk about you and me.”
His gaze clouded over, and his eyelids lowered. He bent his head back over his guitar, but he didn’t start strumming again. “There is no ‘you and me.’ You’re in the band. That’s it.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Luke,” I started.
“No.” He stood up abruptly, setting his guitar to the side. He advanced toward me, his eyes were smoldering.
When my back hit the wall, I realized I had nowhere else to go and could only watch as he closed in on me. A part of me wanted him to keep getting closer; the other part of me was still thinking about crapping my pants.
He leaned a hand against the wall beside my head, keeping a few inches between us. His eyes were hard as he said, “There is no you and me. That died long ago, remember?”

sustain
Meet Luke:

I’d been tense from watching Bri on stage, and it hadn’t lessened as we ran through the woods. If there was another remark about her, I was ready to swing. I didn’t care how big they were.
Gunn had been watching me. He moved close and said under his breath, “If it happens, I’ll do it.”
“Why?”
“Because we need your pretty face for the fans.”
I looked up to see if he was serious. He was, but he relinquished, “Kidding. If you have a busted face, I think Priss would piss her pants from excitement.”
Braden had overheard him and laughed. “No, shit. That’d be leaked to the gossip shows in two seconds flat. I swear, she has all the numbers for the gossip channels on speed dial.”
The football players had gone ahead, but stopped and waited for us. The third one asked, “What’s going on?”
“Nothing.” I shoved past him. While seeing the road through the trees, I saw the headlights for Braden’s car at the same time. When we cleared the trees and headed up the ditch, all of us panned out and walked in one line for the car.
When we got there, Bri opened her door and leaned against the car. Her hair was whipping behind her face and one hand was resting on her hip. She tugged her shirt and then adjusted it back, but it didn’t stick. It fell down, showing her black bra. Bri was clueless, scowling at us. She was the picture of fierce and alluring at the same time.
We were greeted with, “What were you guys doing there?”
She took in the whole line of guys before letting her eyes find mine, making me feel seared. It was the same effect every time. My insides felt yanked out, but I still wanted to touch her.
I looked away instead.
“We came to see you.” Braden motioned to the guys.
“Are you insane? How was tonight supposed to go down any other way? You guys are celebrities. You can’t be coming to house parties anymore.” There was a clipped bark to her voice, but it faded on the last word, and I glanced over. She sneaked a look at me.
“Yeah, we didn’t think ahead.” Braden threw a hand to the football guys. “Got some extra room?”
She shook her head. “There is no way this little car can fit all of you hulks.”
The guys laughed and one mentioned, “We can wait here. A bunch of our buddies are coming. They can pick us up.”
I should’ve thanked them for saving us from the chaos, and I heard Gunn and Braden doing exactly that, but I looked back at her. Her hand was still on her hip, but her shoulders were slumped forward. She was kicking at some gravel on the road.
The football guys headed farther down the road as Gunn and Braden got into the car. We were alone now, but there was still an audience.
She wouldn’t look at me anymore. I wanted to turn those dark eyes to me. I wanted to say something, but I had no idea what. I ended with, “You’re still really good.”
Her head lifted, and I saw it. There was so much there. Fear, caution, excitement, warmth, and another expression I couldn’t place. No, I did. She was still haunted.
“Thank.”
She was mine.
No. She wasn’t.
She had gone to him that night.
Ah, fucking hell.
“We should probably talk.”
Her eyes opened at my tone, which was rough, and panic flared across her face for a moment. “Oh. Okay.”

 

About Tijan:

I didn’t begin writing until after undergraduate college. There’d been storylines and characters in my head all my life, but it came to a boiling point one day and I HAD to get them out of me. So the computer was booted up and I FINALLY felt it click. Writing is what I needed to do. After that, I had to teach myself how to write. I can’t blame my teachers for not teaching me all those years in school. It was my fault. I was one of the students that was wishing I was anywhere but at school! So after that day, it took me lots of work until I was able to put together something that resembled a novel. I’m hoping I got it right since someone must be reading this profile! And I hope you keep enjoying my future stories.

GIVEAWAY
$50 AMAZON Gift Card

 

Bound by Flames: A Review

bound by flames

I think I have read everything Jeaniene Frost has published thus far and this may actually be my favorite of her books. Bound By Flames is the third in her series of books about Vlad and Leila. Vlad (yes, as in the impaler) and Leila are finally both vampires, finally married, and you would think that they would be able to find some sort of happily ever after…except as per usual someone is trying to kill them. Well, more precisely someone is trying to kill Leila mostly to torment Vlad. Luckily Leila is made of sterner stuff and not without her own powers.

I loved the character development in this book. Vlad grows into less of a control freak. Leila proves that when push comes to shove she can take care of herself. I think this was the aspect that was missing from her other characters and the reason I do not like them as much. Leila has always been powerful but from very early on she decided to use that power rather than run away from it and that is something that just gets stronger in her as time progresses and more people piss her off. Vlad, instead of ignoring this, begins to trust her a little more to take care of herself which is what their relationship needed. We also get to revisit beloved characters from past books and see what they are up to.

I would definitely re-read this book. In fact I have read it twice since it came out at the end of January. Its a good price for the ebook and well worth the read. If you haven’t read the other two books in this series I suggest you check them out now. I’m giving this book a 5 out of 5 for awesomeness!

What have you been reading?

Etsy Shop Review: Buddha Bellies

With a new baby on the way I have found lots of excuses to troll pinterest and Etsy looking at neat things I think my little one “needs”. I have refrained from purchasing a ton of things because frankly I am not overly well off and there are three baby showers in my future. Obviously I will make purchases after that, but until then I am trying to be good.  However I have indulged in a few things. On thing I have purchased are these awesome onesie stickers from Buddha Bellies.

belly stickers

There are 12 stickers included for months 1-12 of babies first year. I am really happy with them now that they have finally reached me. What most impressed me about this shop however was their customer service. They have a ton of cute products which you can view here. When I ordered the stickers I used my paypal to pay for them and unthinkingly didnt check the address. This was unfortunate because it meant my awesome stickers were sent to the wrong address. After about 3 weeks I remembered that I had ordered these stickers and so I looked at my receipt and realized my silly mistake. The shop owners were so kind. They worked with me and when my stickers were returned to them they shipped them back to me for just a tiny shipping fee.

Buddha Bellies shop rating:

Customer Service – 5 out of 5

Product matches description – 5 out of 5

Shipping speed – 5 out of 5

Overall satisfaction with purchase – 5 out of 5

If you ever need something like the onesie stickers, and they have a ton of different ones, I definitely recommend supporting this wonderful Etsy shop!

 

Fifty Shades of Grey: A short review

I’ve avoided the whole Fifty shades of Grey controversy mostly because despite whatever I might feel about it I just didn’t particularly want to argue. I’m tired and pregnant and people are judgmental and silly and will get mad over absolutely anything. Having said all of that I have read the books (several times, cause I am reader and I read everything several times) and I saw the movie. If you haven’t done either of those things please stuff your opinion where the sun doesn’t shine because it is worthless. That would be like me giving an opinion on Dr. Who beyond that I watched one episode, didn’t care for it, and don’t think I will be picking it up again any time soon.

Now that all of that is out of way I’ll share with you my thoughts on the movie adaptation. The book is better. That is true of nearly everything from the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson movies to Angels and Demons. The book is inevitably better because we can all individually use our imaginations and fit what we are reading within our own experiences. Having said that, the movie did stay true to most of the premises of the book. Fifty shades has the same problem that most book to movies have in that you can’t hear the internal dialogue of the characters. The actors they picked for Ana and Christian are great, but you still can’t hear Ana’s internal struggle or Christian’s and that is a vital part of understanding the characters. About an hour into the movie I had three simultaneous thoughts:

I wish there was more dialogue cause they are really good at that

This would be awkward to watch with my mother or brother

She didn’t shave…which is true to the book

The scenes where Ana and Christian are just being Ana and Christian are the best. The scenes where they have sex are sometimes sweet and good, sometimes awkward, and at other times painful to witness. To be fair this was true to the book as well. I think the next movie will be better because the first book and movie end on a cliff hanger and I will go into the theater knowing what to expect and hopefully they will learn to stick with the dialogue heavy scenes and skip some of the sex. I prefer to read my smutt.

Will I watch this movie again? Yeah

I give it a 4 out of 5.

Later, when I feel like getting on my soap box I will share with you all my other Fifty Shades related opinions. ;-P

Did you all see it? If so what did you think?

MASH: or it could always be worse

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I’ve been a bit of a funk the last couple of days. Mostly to do with the fact that I feel like I am alone in realizing the severity in a situation of having a little one in less than 90 days. I’ll condense my drama into one sentence. I have been told we are going to go pick out a crib at least three times now over a period of a few weeks and it hasn’t happened yet…. Anyway something this afternoon finally perked me up a little bit. I watched the pilot episode of MASH which is now on netflix.

The first episode introduces us to Hawkeye and Hotlips and all our other favorite characters. This show was a staple of my childhood. The adventures of that little medical unit during the Korean conflict were something I watched a great deal of as a child though never in order, just randomly as the episodes came to TV. They often showed several in a row on some random channel and I would watch them and laugh at their antic and cry at their suffering.

The pilot episode features Hawkeye doing what he does best, helping people and being irreverent. He cooks up a plan to raise college tuition for a Korean boy to go to his alma mater back in the states. He somehow manages to throw an unathorized party, raise all the money needed, give the prize away to a priest who can’t partake in it, and not get court marshalled by the visiting general who just happens to be a former boyfriend of Hotlips. All while keeping his good humor and attempting to woo the ladies. This kind of show is the kind I miss. Forget How I Met Your Mother with its unsavory ending and silly plot line. Friends was never my thing. MASH is raw and real and funny in the saddest way and I love it.

I’m currently diving into season 4. With that season comes the great Colonel Potter. I always remember liking his character but I had forgotten how much. MASH is a good mood lifting show and Netflix is kind enough to bring me the first five seasons. Here’s to hoping for seasons 6-11!