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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: American Hip Hop: Rappers, DJs, and Hard Beats by Nathan Sacks

Title: American Hip Hop: Rappers, DJs, and Hard Beats
Author: Nathan Sacks
Publication: August 1, 2012
Publisher: 21st Century
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Genre: Non Fiction
Audience: 10 and up

Amazon |Goodreads

A rapper spits rhymes into a microphone. A DJ scratches a record back and forth against a turntable needle. Fans' feet stomp along to a stiff beat. These are the sounds of hip-hop. 

Hip-hop music busted out of New York City in the 1970s. Many young African Americans found their voices after stepping up to the mic. In the decades afterward, rappers and DJs took over the airwaves and transformed American music. In the twenty-first century, hip-hop is a global sensation. 

Learn what inspired hip-hop's earliest rappers to start rhyming over beats, as well as the stories behind hip-hop legends such as Run-D.M.C., 2Pac, Lauryn Hill, and Jay-Z. Follow the creativity and the rivalries that have fueled everything from party raps to songs about social struggles. And find out how you can add your own sounds to the mix.

My Thoughts:  This book describes Hip Hop's journey from somewhat of a joke in the music industry to the mega powerhouse it is today. Hip Hop is the sound that changed the music world forever. This is a great book, especially anyone interested in the History of Rap/Hip Hop. There are so many great aspects of this book. Great Photography, "Must Download Playlist", detailed descriptions.  I learned so much about the music that is an integral part of our nation (I mean who doesn't know who Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Tupac are?). Even the most controversial aspects of Rap/Hip Hop are discused and analyzed (East Cost/West Coast, controversal language and behavior.) One of the best things about this book is the length. There is a lot of information packed in the short, 70 page, book.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Matched by Ally Condie

Author: Ally Condie
Title: Matched
Publication: September 11th, 2011
Publisher: Speak
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 out 5
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Thoughts:  Matched is about 16 year old Cassia needing to make a dire choice. Does she want to live in her world -- safe and sound -- forever, or take a chance at her true love and break all the rules. The problem with breaking rules are the horrible consequences. Exile, taking memorable posessions away, swiping minds clean... there's no stopping the government from taking control. Everything starts out great. Cassia is about to find out who her one true love is, and when the image is on screen Ky (a quiet boy she doesn't really know) pops up, then the screen goes blank. Once the computer turns back on, her best friend Xanders face replaces Kys. She has a feeling (a correct one) that this isn't the government -- also known as the "society" -- messing up because the government NEVER make flaws. Cassia has to dig deep down and find her true feelings. Is everything really what it seems? Can Ky or Xander give her the answers she seeks?

This plot is amazing! The main character has grown up to be naive and relient on the Society. Reading how her views change through out the book was interesting... it makes you want to learn more. I really don't like characters that makes stupid decisions and don't learn from them, and Cassia is a prime example of it. BUT, it's understandable. She literally doesn't know any better, and I would make the same mistakes in her situation. It's confusing when you think everything is happy and controled, then realize controling isn't the best way to live, so I forgive her actions. In a way she does learn from them. Well, kind of. The whole book she's scared to think differently and takes her a while to come out of her bubble (hence, she's in a green bubble on the cover).

I take one star away because of how terrible the writing is. It's very childlike and hard to get used to. An example of one of her paragraphs: I said yes. He shook his head. I didn't know why. Then he looked at me. I looked back. We looked at each other. -- That's not a quote from the book, but it's very close. There are. So many. Periods that aren't. Necessary. And the grammer. Is very. Childlike.

It was hard to get used to and I had to ignore the sentence structures after a while. It just doesn't deserve to be taken half a star away, it's that bad. I looked her up and the interwebz said she's an english teacher which worries me. I don't have great grammar and spelling and am totally owning up to it. I probably put commas that aren't necessary and forgot apostrophes multiple times through out this review, but you know what? I'm not a published author, I'm a reviewer. Millions of people are not reading this review.

If you forget about the horrible writing, I say go for it! The books plot really sucks you in, and I can't wait to start the third. It's a trilogy so the first book leaves you in a cliffhanger.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

UPDATE: Last Survivors Series by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I'm so excited that Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has accepted The Shade of the Moon for publication. There is not a publication date as of yet. If you are as excited and interested as I am check out the first chapter that Susan beth Pfeffer has kindly released. First 10 pages. The rest of Chapter One. You can check out my review of the other books here.

Bounty Hunt

Bounty Hunt is a list of our most anticipated reads. 

What are you looking forward to reading?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Goddess of Spring by P.C. Cast

Author: P.C. Cast
Title: Goddess of Spring
Publication: November 4th, 2008
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Genre: Romance
Rating: 5 out 5
Synopsis:  Lina's trendy bakery in Tulsa is proving to be less than lucrative, and she must come up with a plan. When she stumbles upon an Italian Goddess cookbook, Lina can't help but think she's found the answer to her problem—even if it means invoking a goddess to save her business.

Soon enough, Lina finds herself face-to-face with Demeter, who has a plan of her own. She proposes that Lina exchange souls with Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, who will breathe new life into the bakery. In return, Lina must set order to the Underworld.

Before all this, Lina's problems mostly involved sourdough and second dates. Now that she embodies the enchanting Persephone, Lina has weightier things on her mind—like the formidable task of bringing Spring to a world of spirits. But when the handsome, brooding Hades kindles a spark in her heart, Lina wonders if this Lord of the Underworld might be the man of her dreams..

Thoughts: This book is the second installment of the Goddess Summoning series. It's a twist of the Persephone / Hades story. Recap if you don't know the greek myth: Persephone (the goddess of spring) gets tricked into staying in the underworld by Hades (god of the underworld). Demeter (her mother) gets pissed and tattle tales to her brother Zeus (king of the gods). In the end, Persephone must stay in the underworld for six months. The end. I recommend reading the longer version of this myth. Almost all Greek gods have some sort of horrible ending to them. Persephone / Hades has a bittersweet ending which is better then every-other myth. Seriously, the stories get depressing.

Let's move onto the book, shall we? This story is a different version of the myth. Lina has to stay in the underworld with Hades and help with the gloomy spirits. She starts getting to know him and likes what she sees. Hades is kind, a little rusty on social skills (which you have to look past), and really wants the best for the souls that live in his realm. The other gods don't like visiting because... well... it's a world full of dead people, so when he tries to lighten up, he sometimes fails. It's cute and charming how he tries his hardest to make Lina feel at home. The whole time he thinks she's Persephone, so Lina has to act like a goddess. Unlike her other Goddess Summoning book Warrior Rising (which I reviewed here), this has no steamy sex scenes. It's very sweet and PG-13 rated. I would recommend this to a young adult that's looking to take a step up from books that revolve around high school.

I love PC Cast, and she's definitely tied with Gena Showalter and Meg Cabot on my "who should I marry" list. I don't have a ring yet... saw one at the mall that was beautiful but it was way to expensive. Plus all three authors are already married. That's okay though, I'll win them over. Oh yes... I'll win. *insert evil laugh*

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Sandman: Dream Hunters

Author:  Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: P. Craig Russell
Title: The Sandman: Dream Hunters
Publication: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Vertigo
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Pages: 144
Audience: 15 and up
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Public Library

Synopsis (from the cover):The world was different in old Japan. In those days, creatures of myth and legend walked upon the earth, swam in the sea, flew through the air. Some were wild and some, at great cost, could be tamed. So it was that a wily fox made a wager to dislodge a humble young monk from his home--and lost her heart in the betting. So it was also that a master of the demons of this world set his own eyes on the monk, seeking to seize the pious man's inner strength for his own. And so it was, the King of All Night's Dreaming would find himself intervening on behalf of a love that was never meant to be.

My thoughts:
If you decide to read any comic for the heck of it- I suggest this one. The story is so beautiful. This graphic novel is just a side story of The Sandman. It is not crucial to the story line or anything and can be read at any time- before, during, or after The Sandman. I read the introductions and afterwords pretty much for any book I read. I believe the author put them there for a reason and so I take time to read them. Most of the time they give me an insight to the frame of mind I need to be in read or a back story, but 9 out of 10 times I read them. The introduction to this graphic novel let's the reader know that this is not the original illustrations for the graphic novel when it was originally released. This copy is a re-released for an anniversary of The Sandman that is illustrated by P. Craig Russell who really wanted to illustrate the story. The original graphic novel was illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. I really really enjoyed this story. In the introduction Neil Gaiman talks about the original one and how he has made up sources that he used for the story. However, people were trying to use the fake sources to find the actual folklore. He apologizes for creating fake sources and for creating such a believable, but false Japanese folklore tale. Dream is not in it much, but he plays a pivotal role in the story. The love story is like a Romeo and Juliet, but in a Japanese setting and is a story about a monk and a fox. It sounds a little weird, but read it and trust me it makes sense. I stayed up really late to finish this graphic novel because I could not put it down, and it needed to be returned the library.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

We're giving away several things. There will be a total of 6 winners. 1 winner will receive a paperback copy of Solid & Settling (Solid Book 2) by Shelley Workinger as well as a signed Settling bookmark. 1 winner will receive a Mystery box of YA books (these have been released in the last year). 4 winners will receive a Solid Series bookmark. 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gotham City Sirens, Volume 1: Union

Author:  Paul Dini
Illustrator: Guillem March
Title: Gotham City Sirens, Volume 1: Union
Publication: April 20,2010
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel,Villains
Pages: 176
Audience: 16 and up
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Purchased

Goodreads Synopsis:  
This graphic novel features the bad girls of Gotham City! Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are tired of playing by other people's rules regardless of which side of the law they're on. These tough ladies have a new agenda that's all their own, and they'll use any means necessary to pursue it. But can they get along and work as a team? And who will get hurt along the way?

My thoughts:
                                                                     I love Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman. All of my favorite supervillain ladies in one comic! There are actually four Gotham City Siren graphic novels, but I've started on the first one. It is an interesting read considering these lovely bad girls are deciding to live together and work together whether it is for good or bad. The shenanigans these ladies get into are hilarious, thanks mainly to Harley Quinn. The story line was a bit hard to follow because I had not read a background story on the villain Hush or knew anything much about Batman or Bruce Wayne. I forewarned my boyfriend before he read it. I told him he may want to wait and read everything about Hush because there are a few spoilers in the graphic novel. I did not really care. I'm not going to read all the Batman stories like he is. Even though, it was a bit hard to follow, I eventually got some answers to my questions, I just had to read a bit further. It was a quick read. I grabbed it up and read it in about an hour. If you are looking for a light read and something humorous with most of Gotham City's bad girls- you should read this.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Solid by Shelley Workinger

Title: Solid (Solid #1)
Author: Shelley Workinger
Publication: July 9, 2010
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Author (won in a Giveaway)
Genre: Young Adult
Audience: 13 and up

Solid Series Website|Amazon |Shelley's Blog|Goodreads

Clio Kaid may be 17 and just beginning the last summer before her senior year, but her life is anything but typical.

She's just discovered she was genetically altered before birth and is now headed to a top-secret Army campus to explore the surprising results of the experiment.
Follow Clio and the other teens as they develop fantastic super-abilities, forge new friendships, find love, and uncover a conspiracy along the way.

My Thoughts:  This is an incredible story. It has a great mix of mystery, romance, and suspense. It is plausible that some government personnel has or will take it upon themselves to test their theories on unsuspecting citizens. We have all heard of these theories, Roswell, Agent Orange, Operation Mockingbird, Manhattan Project, Oak Ridge... the list goes on and on. I digress this is not about conspiracy theories but about this awesome read. Solid is very exciting I was on pins and needles waiting to see what would happen next. I love how the relationships were built and how realistic they are. Having been raised in a military family I related to the characters. I could easily see myself being friends with each of them. One of the things I love most about this story is that it is clean. Some of the YA books out there are a little to "hot". There's romance but it's not towing the line between what's adult content and what isn't. This is a must read add it to your TBR list. I wonder what super-abilites will surface in Settling. We will be giving this title along with the next book in the series, Settling, later this week. So check back with us and enter to win. 

Guest Post and Trivia Quiz for A Good Man by Vanessa Morgan

Title: A Good Man

Author: Vanessa Morgan
Publication: April 13, 2012

Loved Dexter and American Psycho? Then you'll love A Good Man.

Louis Caron is a good man - vegetarian, he feeds the homeless, takes care of animals and is even concerned with the ecological future of the planet. But his altruism has a sinister edge - he's a vampire - and local detective Taglioni is becoming increasingly suspicious. Louis' attempt to escape the police takes him on a journey into his own private hell where he is not only forced to confront his worst fears, but also to destroy the lives of those he cares about most.

To celebrate the release of author Vanessa Morgan’s new vampire thriller, A GOOD MAN, take this super fun quiz to see how well you think you know Vanessa and her books. Hint: even if you've never read the books, you can find all the answers on Vanessa Morgan’s blog. Because Vanessa is awesome she is giving away an e-copy of A Good Man. You must answer all of the questions correctly. Please use rafflecopter below to enter your answers. 

1.     Where does Vanessa live?

a.      Australia

b.      Ibiza

c.      Belgium

d.      France

 2.    On which Hollywood actress was the main character of DROWNED SORROW, Megan Blackwood, based?

a.      Charlize Theron

b.      Cameron Diaz

c.      Naomi Watts

d.      Nicole Kidman

 3.   Which French reality TV star plays one of vampire Louis Caron's victims in the movie adaptation of A GOOD MAN?

 a.      Julien Doré (La Nouvelle Star 5)

b.      Élodie Frégé (Star Academy 3)

c.      Matthias Pohl (Secret Story 2)

d.      Michal Kwiatkowski (Star Academy 3)
 4.    Which paranormal ability does Vanessa Morgan want to possess?
a.      Bilocation (the ability to be in two places at the same time)

b.      Telekinesis or psychokinesis (the ability to move and manipulate objects with the mind)

c.      Animal telepathy (the ability to talk to animals and read their minds)

d.      Precognition (the ability to foresee events)
5.    Who is slated to direct the movie adaptation of DROWNED SORROW?
a.      Steve De Roover

b.      Jaume Balaguero

c.      Philippe Geus

d.      Drew Barrymore

 6.   Which author is Vanessa most compared to?

a.     Brett Easton Ellis (American Psycho)

b.     Stephenie Meyer (Twilight)

c.     Stephen King (Salem's Lot)

d.     Joe Hill (Horns)
7.    Which one of Vanessa's stories was called 'the scariest story of the year'?
 a.      Avalon

b.      A Good Man

c.      The Strangers Outside

d.      Drowned Sorrow

8.  What do the 'strangers' in THE STRANGERS OUTSIDE look like?

 a.     Monks

b.     Clowns

c.     Aliens

d.     Children
9.   Which animal transforms into a vampire in A GOOD MAN?

a.      Guinea pig

b.      Cat

c.      Cow

d.      Horse

10. What is Avalon?

 a.      The name of the spooky town in The Strangers Outside

b.      The title of Vanessa's favorite movie

c.      The title of Vanessa's favorite song

d.      Vanessa's cat

Monday, July 23, 2012

Batwoman, Volume 1: Hydrology

Author:  J.H. Williams III and W. Hayden Blackman
Illustrator: Amy Reeder
Title: Batwoman, Volume 1:Hydrology
Publication: June 19, 2012
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Super Hero
Pages: 160
Audience: 18 and up
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Purchased

Favorite Line: "Murdered sidekicks tend to come back from the dead. As supervillains."- Batman telling Batwoman that she should leave Flamebird out of a dangerous case.

Goodreads Synopsis: 
As Batwoman (a..ka Kate Kane) faces deadly new challenges in her war against Gotham City's underworld–and new trials in her personal life.Who or what is stealing children from the barrio, and for what vile purpose? Will Kate train her cousin, Bette Kane (a.k.a. Flamebird), as her new sidekick? How will she handle unsettling revelations about her father, Colonel Jacob Kane? And why is a certain government agency suddenly taking an interest in her? These are some of the questions that will be answered in this long-awaited series!

My thoughts:
Ohmygoodness! I have waited for what feels like an eternity for this graphic novel. After the first graphic novel, I was an instant Batwoman fan. I'm going to geek-out for a minute and confess that I went to a local comic book shop and bought a statue of Batwoman.  I paid too much for it, but it is so awesome. It looks really good on our comic shelf.

Anyway, back to the graphic novel. Batman played a pretty big role in the novel and I was surprised. In the introduction of Elegy it says Batwoman takes over crime fighting as Batman, Wonder Woman, and the other heroes step back into the shadows for a while. He didn't take away from the storyline or any of Batwoman's glory, if anything I believe Batman just helped show off  her strength and gave her super-hero advice. I love his line from above though. Poor, Batman, he knows all about losing sidekicks. The cartoons are never as dark as the comics, but he has had several Robins and I know one in particular died and came back to life as a villain. The storyline for Batwoman has been paranormal and weird. I was unsure of how Batwoman was going to defeat the vengeful ghost called the Weeping Woman. If she does or not, I'll leave that up for you all to find out. From the last novel Kate Kane is mad at her dad so her cousin Bette, Flamebird is her new sidekick, and I think Batwoman is too hard on her. Batwoman takes Batman's advice to heart and tells Bette they are over as a team. I think the way Kate went about it was harsh and cruel. She could have asked Bette to sit back on this case and let Kate handle it because she was worried about her. Anyway, that ending isn't pretty. Kate also has the D.E.O. and Batman investigating her. I found this a bit confusing. I'm still not sure what the D.E.O. is or does, but hopefully the next graphic novel will clarify some things. Also, Kate's relationship with Maggie Sawyer continues to evolve. There is a more "graphic" sex scene in this novel, and it's not a clear image, but you get the idea that they are having sex. I have enjoyed each Batwoman graphic novel so far. She is a really kick ass super hero that adds some girl power in an area that is dominated by men.