Book Review: Buffering by Hannah Hart 

I first learned about Hannah Hart on her YouTube show, “My Drunk Kitchen,” and I introduced her videos to many of my friends and family. I was hooked by her creativity, funny cooking puns, and life morals after every episode. On film she is a positive force. I didn’t know that from the comedy came a hard and trying life. She is an inspiring person with a story everyone needs to read.

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded is a collection of journal entries, essays, and memories of Hart’s life experiences which lead her to who she is today.

This book is incredibly moving. She talks about growing up with a mother who struggled with mental illness. She talks about her sisters and her slow understanding they weren’t living like others. Her complicated relationship with her father and step-father. How that realization still affects them today. But she also still tries to help others by showing how she has overcome her battles with self-harm and stress. I felt a close connection to Hart’s struggles with depression. And was making mental notes to try some of the exercises she uses to work through tough times.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Hart did a great job of mixing the sad with the funny. It was nice to learn the beginnings of “My Drunk Kitchen,” the work that went into creating the business and the content she does today. Also, the meaningful friendships she has developed and the honesty of learning to embrace her sexuality, faith, and self worth.

She is an excellent writer. Her voice is strong and comes through as completely authentic through her writing. It reads as if Hart is sitting with you sharing her story. It takes a lot of courage to open up but by doing so she will help many others.

Thank you to Dey Street Books, HarperCollins, and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for this review which had no weight on the outcome of the rating.

Expected publishing date for Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart is October 18, 2016.

Book Review: Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler

Another ARC from my job and it in no way sways my review.

Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler is the fourth book in the X-OPS Series. It is a paranormal suspense romance if the cover didn’t give some of the genre away.  Kidnapped and experimented on, Minka escapes the laboratory cage from scientist’s who torture. On the run she is found by Special Forces soldier, Angelo. Can she trust Angelo, the only thing that can calm the beast inside, when she’s not even sure she can control herself around him. Angelo recognizes a hybrid when he sees Minka and to help get her to safety he calls his former team leader, Landon. But Minka and the beast inside are only calm when Angelo is near so Angelo’s protective instincts kick in and sticks with Minka, falling for the other each moment together.

I haven’t read any other books in this series and wasn’t confused when placed in this world. The world building was strong. The dialogue and characters were developed. The storyline was fun, and interesting with shady government cover ups, evil corporate dicks, as well as friends that help strengthen Minka’s control.

What I like the most about this book was the growth Minka’s character had through the story. She really gained a believable amount of confidence and strength. It had nice action sequences especially at the end. I like the therapy sessions featuring other shifters (I’m sure from other books) and the small glimpses into their lives.

I would recommend this book to people who like this genre. Can’t wait to read more of the people and shifters in this world.  This title will be published March 1st, 2016 by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

bookcover Tyler

 

 

Book Review on A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

I received an ARC from my job. It in no way sways my review. I have read Deanna Raybourn’s Julia Grey series and I loved them so I was excited to hear the author is writing another historical fiction series with another strong female protagonist at the center.

Veronica Speedway has no attachments after burying her aunt. She is finally free to resume her travels abroad with scientific studies involving her passion, butterflies. But when she returns home from the funeral finds an intruder that tries to kidnap her. With help from Baron Maximillian von Stauffenbach they defeat the kidnapper. The Baron reveals he knows about her past and believes she is in danger. Offering a ride to London and the promise to answer her questions she excepts. But when he drops her with an old friend of his, Stoker, for protection she finds herself thrown into an exciting adventure when the Baron is discovered murdered.
This was an amazing novel. The book is fast paced and keeps the adventure moving, fun, and never dull. I really enjoyed Veronica Speedwell. She is nothing like Julia Grey but still very likable. She was smart, stubborn, and funny. She is not the romanic troupe readers of historical fiction have been bombarded with and it’s refreshing. I loved her fight to be the independent woman not excepted during those times. Stroker was a little hard to pin down. He is grouchy and tight lipped about his past. I thought he could be prickly but he definitely grows on the reader. It could be because of the interaction and relationship between Veronica and Stroker. Their dialogues throughout the book are smart conversations and arguments which grows and helps the characters see each other as equals.

I can’t wait to read more mysteries involving these characters and see where their relationship can go. I’m sad to say goodbye to Lady Julia Grey but Veronica Speedway is a worthy successor. I am certainly recommending this book to others.

A Curious Beginning  By Deanna Raybourn

Classic Number Six: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Still trying to read a classic a month and June’s read was Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Published in 1869, it is astonishing the then future technology that was imagined in this Science-Fiction novel. It tells the story of Professor Aronnax after he, his servant Conseil, and Canadian whaler Ned Land wash up on Captain Nemo’s submarine the Nautilus. They embark on an underwater adventure that takes them around the world.

First off, while reading this, I had to keep reminding myself the technology thought up for this novel was ahead of it’s time. I did skim over some Verne’s extensive scientific descriptions but the action and plot were really riveting. There is a clear picture painted of this underwater world and I loved the descriptions of the life under the sea. The author leads his characters and the reader to the red corals of the Red Sea, lost shipwrecks from historic battles, and the discovery of Atlantis. And the pace of the story improves when the characters use diving suits to go pearl hunting and fight a giant squid. The biggest mystery is not in the depths of the ocean but the people themselves. The reader is the witness to the curious Captain Nemo’s decisions and it is only hinted at why the Captain choices to exile himself from the world. While I’m okay with the mystery of the Nemo’s past and motive, it does make you wonder about a man who will give a whole pouch of pearls to a poor Indian pearl diver but at the end destroy the lives of so many and leave his men up to a possible devastating fate.

I think this is a very worth wild read if you can get pasted the scientific jargon. It will not be a read for everyone but I am happy I read it.

Classic Number Five: The Stranger

I’m falling behind on the classic challenge. I started and finished my May pick, The Stranger by Albert Camus, late. I bought this book at The Last Bookstore while I was on vacation and I’m so glad I did. What a great read although like many classic it is not a fairy tale. There is no happily ever after. Many may find the first person narrative boring since the main character, Meursault, is indifferent to all that is happening around him. The book starts with Meursault at his mother’s funeral. He express no remorse, and returns home. I had trouble with this scene. I felt it exhibit the expectation of certain emotions from others in different situations. But as the story goes on he is unaffected by the neighbor who abuses his dog, or a woman. The day after the funeral he meets, Marie. They go swimming, go to a comedy film, and he lives the appearance of a normal life. He expresses no issue with helping write a letter for his other neighbor, Raymond, to a girl who did him wrong. This indirectly gets him involved with the girl’s Arab brother. After a confrontation where Raymond is cut with a knife they return to the house. Meursault goes back out for a walk and ends up killing the Arab.

Part two of the novel follows Meursault’s thoughts during the trail and sentencing. He is prosecuted more for his moral character than the murder. After the trail Meursault finally has a moment of clarity when a priest comes to help him find solace and save his soul but Meursault sees “the benign indifference of the universe” like himself. Neither he or the world doesn’t pass judgement. Everyone will die and he finds a kind of freedom in this fact.

I can see this being a tough read for some. It is hard to follow Meursault and his lack of emotions. Readers will forever try to figure him out. This read will help you understand existentialism and make you think about life and how you relate to everything around you.

Classic Number Four: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I decided to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum as my fourth classic after seeing the Supernatural: Slumber Party. While watching the episode and their darker take on this classic I realized I have never read the book. The episode does reference the books as well as the movie. I think it was when the character, Charlie played by Felicia Day, was gushing and defending this childhood classic that I decided I needed to read it.

I was delighted with the differences between the book and movie. The movie will forever be a classic in it’s own right but the book is a bigger adventure with Dorothy meeting and making even more friends. The flying monkeys aren’t as scary but become a companion. All the characters grow and while they are all on the same adventure they grow individually finding they had what they seek all along but needed some encouragement along the way. The difference I loved between the movie and book are the passage of time is in both worlds and that the shoes are silver in the book. Maybe because the movie made red shoes such a set thing in the Oz culture and made it appear in the movie that Dorothy’s adventure was just a dream.

I think what will always make this a classic is the need others will feel to use it in their own work, reinvent, and keep it fresh.  I would recommend this to anyone looking for a book to read to their child or looking to give them something to start their reading love. It wasn’t a difficult read. The writing was straight to the point in any character’s motivation or description. A magical read.

Classic Number Three: Northanger Abbey

I decided to read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen for my March classic. I have mentioned before that I did try to read Austen’s Persuasion last month and felt I wasn’t in the mood, I tried again and again I wasn’t in the mood. I realized I never read Austen’s Abbey and needed a short classic since time was running out. I started reading this classic and was captured. As Austen mentions in the beginning of the novel the main character Catherine is not your normal heroine since she is an impressionable, trusting young woman but she grows and learns. By the end Catherine is a strong, classic, and a lead in the wheel house with others Austen famous heroines.

I must say I liked this novel. This classic novel is Austen’s Gothic parody. Catherine’s love for reading the genre and over active imagination adds humor to the novel. There is a great scene where Catherine is snooping and unlocks a mysterious cabinet expecting to find something horrible, and finds only laundry bills. You feel embarrass for her naivety but she has to fall a few more times before she learns to control her imagination. Northanger Abbey also deals with situations common to teenagers today. Catherine learns lessons about peer pressure, bullying, and reading people. I was angry by the Thorpe’s manipulative, and ambitious ways but, by the end of the novel, Catherine learns to read people and can move on into her happy ending wiser.

Favorite Quote: “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not the pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Classic Number Two: Little Women

I vaguely remember the basement in the house I grew up in before it was refinished. It was dark gray cinderblock walls with workbenches, boxes, and wooden closets with canned goods. During the clean up I remember one of the boxes had books. I felt awe. I was young and seeing books that thick with tiny print amazed me. I was only allowed to pick one book from the box and I picked, Little Women by Louise May Alcott. I thought it would be about tiny women living in a big world (forgive my naivety, I was really young). I finally decided to read it because this pretty book has sat on my shelf too long. I didn’t read it all the time since the 1922 edition is fragile with a worn binding.

I didn’t love Little Women. It was a very moral based read and could be slow at times. Each chapter could stand on it’s own with a lesson learned. Now days a woman doesn’t need a good marriage to reach true happiness but it was a different time when this story was written and many lessons, like not allowing money to control you, can still apply today. Some chapters I enjoyed more than others. There wasn’t much excitement or enthusiasm behind most life events. Maybe this style or writing is what left me less emotionally attached to the four sisters. If I only read the Little Women portion of the book I may have given it four stars on my Goodreads account but I must say I was surprised when what I expected to happen didn’t.

I learned, when published, part two was a second book, Good Wives, which continues their story and this is where I struggled. The second half is where the story considerably slows downs. I can’t put my finger on what changed. Everything just seemed more mundane. The interesting bits of their lives are farther apart and gets buried. If I was going to rate this portion of the book separately I would give Part two, two stars.

I rated the book three stars out of five stars. If I ever come back to this classic I will not continue past part one.

Little Women 1922 Little, Brown, and Company Edition.

Days of Blood and Starlight Review

Should I buy the hardcover additions of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series? The debate still lives in my mind. And an update on the box set available in October is a price decrease from $57 to $51. Barnes & Noble has even a better deal. The box set is only $37. Thanks B&N for making my decision a lot easier. In this post, to help my brain, I will review the second book in the series Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Talyor. If you haven’t read the first, warning, just the synopsis may give away some spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk.

Karou has finally learned about her past. She know knows where she comes from and who she is. Karou’s stories continues but she sets out without her family or friends. Karou must work for The White Wolf the same wolf that ended her last life. She uses the skill she learned from Brimstone to make monsters to fight in the Wolf’s army. Her once-beloved, Akiva, tries to undo some of the wrong of his past and ties to save as many as he can.

I still love the wonderful unique prose. The first half of the book was slow and made it hard to get into until it wasn’t. The world building is clear and vivid. The character descriptions of half human/ half beast is imaginative.  Still the same engaging characters and a few new interesting introductions. Taylor has gift by making the reader feel the defeat of her character’s and their situation but as the story plays out the reader can feel the main characters, Karou and Akiva, grow from followers to leaders. Love how this young adult novel has found a grown-up voice with the cold truth of the ugly side of war. This story is not all daggers and pain. Taylor still manages to add some humor, romance, and hope. What I loved about this story is that this is not just about star crossed lovers but the depth to save a people, save two worlds, and save themselves.

Recommend this series.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor