Monday – What Are You Reading?

Monday What You ReadingIt’s Monday!  What Are You Reading?

If you would like to play along with It’s Monday What Are You Reading… click on the image above and it will bring you to the host blog – Book Journey, where you can find out all the details of how to play!

 

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I’m going to be starting this book today and I can’t wait to get into it!  I am part of the upcoming tour for Mother’s Curse Via Novel Publicity and will be posting my review, May 20th, on Growing Up Little.  There will be lots of great prizes as part of this tour, so keep an eye out for it!  I would love to see one of my readers and/or commenters to WIN one of the big prizes that are available.

I love books about witches, especially when they are at risk of being burnt to death for being one!  It is hard to imagine that witches were burnt at the stake for their ‘evil practices’, so many moons ago.  However, discrimination is still a problem today for many people who choose to follow Wiccan beliefs.  Obviously, we as a society, no longer burn them to death but unfortunately, discrimination against them is still alive and well, even in today’s ‘advanced’ society.

 

About Mother’s Curse…

Tradition holds that a mother who commits a sin against the gods will have a daughter who is born a witch.  Stephenie is just such a curse.  Despised by her mother, she longs to be with her father and older brother, but they are two countries away, fighting a war against invaders from across the sea.  Locked in Antar Castle and cut off from the outside world, the youngest Princess of Cothel must escape and overcome her mother’s plots which threaten to bring down the country as well as end her life.

However, to do so, she might have to rely upon her hidden powers, risking others discovering she is a witch…a risk that would most certainly result in her death by burning.

With the help of a select group of soldiers and an unexpected ally, she just might survive to learn the truth about her magic as she races across the country to save her family and the country she loves.

 

 

 

Stranger Will – Book Review – Prizes*

Stranger Will

by Caleb J. Ross

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My Rating:  Five Stars *****

My Review

If I could use just a few words to attempt to describe Stranger Will, I would choose:

  • UNIQUE
  • DARK
  • PHILOSOPHICAL
  • A-MUST-READ

Stranger Will was truly one of the best books I have read, in quite some time.  I don’t re-read books very often but this is one book in which I plan to do just that.  Why? Because there are SO many layers contained within this story, so many meanings, and so many things to think more about.  A second read, would be an opportunity to pull back some additional layers… layers you can’t help but to have missed the first read through and even then… I think it is quite likely that you would still not reach the ultimate core of Stranger Will.

The author Caleb J. Ross, is definitely unique with his style, yet at the same time, his writing reminds me of other great authors such as:

  • Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club, Survivor, and Choke)
  • Augusten Burroughs (author of Running With Scissors, Possible Side Effects, and Magical Thinking)
  • George Orwell (author of Animal Farm and 1984)

Caleb J. Ross has a way of telling an edgy, odd story, with a serious dark side.  He creates and brings to life, characters who you’d be afraid to know.

Stranger Will makes you think about those frustrating types of questions, those questions that don’t seem to have the black and white answers you so desperately crave for them to have.

The main character William, is an insecure, depressed and cynical character, whose job as a human remains removal specialist has contributed to his lack of enthusiasm he is exhibiting for his unborn child.  According to William…

He cleans the dead from the world and what’s one more child?  Just another body that someone will one day have to clean from the road.

and

“Just a parasite, Julie,” he takes a sip of coffee, cold but he keeps his face straight.  “Tapeworms, children, we could all use fewer of them.”

His fiancée Julie, seems to deal with William’s resistance to their fetus, which is already very well-established within her, by continuing to cross-stitch, shop for baby clothes, pick out names (one for a boy, one for a girl), sing lullabies and stay calm.  Julie clearly feels she is already a mother.  William on the other hand, continues to search for any solution in which they will not be the ones expected to give this child what little he believes that they can offer it.  Those that feel desperate for solutions, often come to their solutions in dangerous and immoral ways.

There were so many things that intrigued me about this novel, including…

  • William’s employment as a human remains removal specialist.  His job is to remove the ‘stains’ that human lives leave behind.
  • The personality contrast between William and his co-worker, Philip.   “Philip believes people deserve chances.  William believes that people are the exact reason chances don’t work.”  The dynamic between the two is riveting.
  • Mrs. Rose, the elementary school principal and the bizarre lessons she is teaching to not only her students but to many adults as well, including William.  Even more astounding, is her philosophy behind these lessons.  “Mrs. Rose has taught William many things, one of which is that the world is not worth fighting against.  The world knows what it is doing.”   and  “Mrs. Rose taught William that children are a second chance and that second chances are exactly what keep us from believing that we need only one.” 
  • Messenger pigeons and messages that are intercepted and how they can form their own story.
  • The different meaning, purpose and value that the individual characters have for life and where that ultimately brings each of them in the end.
  • The ability and need that some have to control and what that means.  How is that accomplished?  What is lost by those who are controlled?  What may be gained and what may be lost by a group that is under a method of organized control?  What is lost be the one doing the controlling?

If you are one who likes to ponder the meaning behind things – you will enjoy this book.

If you like dark, twisted, bizarre and sick characters – you will enjoy this book.

If you enjoy the writing style of Chuck Palahniuk, Augusten Burroughs or George Orwell – you will enjoy this book.

If you like a book that makes you think and then makes you think again – you will love this book.

I highly recommend Stranger Will to all adult readers.

I am very much looking forward to following Caleb  J. Ross’s writing career, for he is a noteworthy, significant and truly brilliant writer of our times. 

 

Some of My Favourite Quotes

William admires her will power, though he could do without her drive to use it against him.

When two strangers meet in the woods, they don’t pass by with a nod.  They don’t pretend something greater lies just ahead.  They smile at company and make room for a few words.

A body, a simple lump of blue skin, black hair, and features, sits molded to the corner.  Not a stain, not a mess, but a real human being.  Her eyes roll toward the light.  In a final stretch for good news, William turns to Philip and shrugs.  “At least most of her blood is still in her body.”

I’ve seen the desert our world has become, shredded with bullet holes in apartment buildings where nothing but filth exists.  I’ve cleaned it from walls with a toothbrush stolen from the deceased’s bathroom.  I’ve believed in a world with good intentions for too long.

“She also told William that people who use the word fascinating, usually aren’t.”

“Keep an animal locked up with nothing to do and eventually it will realize it is imprisoned.”

Though he’s known for days that these games teach survival, he sees now that these skills are not the school’s primary motive.  Where once he saw a small tiff, children being as children will be, he sees now a gang initiation, or extermination of the weak, not for survival but to prove dedication.  Where once a group of children might play rhyming games, clapping hands, smiles and chants, they now share blood via severed fingers and cut palms.

“What, I ask you, is less pleasurable to endure than permanence?”

“It might be years from now that these kids look back and realize that they’ve been controlled their entire lives, but it will happen.  They might hate me, you, and all the others, but they will understand control — they will realize their life.  It might take therapy, it might happen behind a giant oak desk in a corner office, but it will hit them, and they will have an entire childhood of proof.”

We live above defeated generations and search for all the ideas they must have missed.

William looks again, before the sun disappears, across his home, his life with Julie, and fits everything into graves.

She had been enduring his rants for months, staying strong to her familial ideal, and here was the end to what he had wanted all along:  his weak fiancée fighting up hills of dirt dug in search of her child.

…he has the power to steer outcome.  The trick is to keep anyone else from believing it.

***********************************************************************************************

Please note:  I received a review copy of Stranger Will courtesy of Novel Publicity, in exchange for a written review with my honest thoughts, comments and opinions regarding this book.

 

IN ORDER TO ENTER A CONTEST IN RELATION TO THIS REVIEW PLEASE CHECK OUT MY ORIGINAL POST AT:

http://growinguplittle.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/stranger-will-book-review-contest-win-prizes/

Thanks!

 

The Persnickety Princess – Book Review – WIN PRIZES!

The Persnickety Princess

by Falcon Storm

Persnickety

My Rating: 4 Stars ****

My Review

Please Note: I received a copy of The Persnickety Princess – courtesy of Novel Publicity for the purposes of this review but all opinions are my own.

The first thing that I adored about this book… was the narrator named, Upon A. Time. He is a heroic traveler who is arrested by two city guards (neither who seem very bright), for having been found dressed in the sheriff’s clothes, riding on the back of a pig and shouting out a limerick (which shouldn’t be repeated). The opening scene, sets the stage for the humour and originality that soon follows. As Upon A. Time begins telling the guards the story of the Persnickety Princess, the reader becomes quickly absorbed in the tale.

Although, The Persnickety Princess was intended for children aged 6-9 years old, I am sure many adults will get just as much enjoyment (perhaps even more) due to the humour, as well as the life lessons contained within the story line. This is the type of book, you originally buy for your child but that you end up loving just as much as they do! It’s for sure one of those win-win situations!

Princess Lavender (aka the Persnickety Princess) has waited unhappily in her self-designed castle for many, many years for that perfect, heroic Prince to come along and rescue her, the beautiful damsel-in-distress. The Princess knows what type of Prince she wants – she very specifically knows what type of Prince she wants. She is specific in the Prince she is waiting for, even down to the exact height he should be – five foot eight and three-quarter inches tall – and nobody else will do. Several Princes have tried but all have failed. So there she remains, in her perfectly painted castle, discontent, irritable and confused about why her Prince, the right Prince, has not arrived to rescue her from her self-imposed prison. How many single Princesses are sitting, waiting for that very specific type of Prince to come into their own lives, to save them? Discontent, irritable, unhappy, yet there they sit waiting, in their own castles, dissatisfied and confused about how long it is taking for him to finally arrive!

The Persnickety Princess looks down upon her sister Petunia, who takes a very different view of how life should be lived and what having fun is all about. Petunia is adventurous and certainly isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in the process. Princess Petunia isn’t sitting around waiting for some Prince to arrive and rescue her! After all, she considers herself to be a self-rescuing Princess. I think a lot of us can learn from Princess Petunia! Self-rescuing Princess indeed!

Prince Hugo arrives at the castle, just as Princess Petunia is snatched up by a dragon. Princess Lavender can not understand that Prince Hugo is not there to rescue her. So while Hugo rushes off in pursuit of rescuing Petunia, Lavender finally decides she is tired of waiting within her castle and she is going to have to venture out and put herself in some serious danger, in order to be saved by her tardy Prince. Of course, the underlying message for insightful adults is… many Princesses feel the need to be rescued by a handsome Prince, even though they may not be in any real danger at all or if they are, those same Princesses are fully capable of rescuing themselves!

Princess Lavender repeatedly puts herself in increasing amounts of danger, in the hopes of being rescued by Hugo, however, Dave keeps saving her from each dangerous situation! How frustrating and inconvenient that is! Dave is just a lowly squire, assumes Lavender, not the one destined to be with her at all! Of course, the underlying message in this is, sometimes the person who is right for you, has been there all along but may not be the one you have your sights narrowed in on. Princess Lavender can’t seem to see the forest for the trees! How many of us, do the very same thing?

During her last and most dangerous rescue, Dave again saves her. It is then revealed by Hugo that Dave is actually Prince Dave and that while he is shy and doesn’t talk much, he does believe that Princess Lavender is pretty. It is then that Princess Lavender realizes all the time she has wasted waiting in her tower. After asking Prince Dave his height, which is five foot eight and one-fourth inches, she claims that is close enough, she’s not picky. Of course, as all true fairy tales end… Prince Dave and Princess Lavender end up marrying and living happily ever after. Needless to say, in real life… that’s not usually how things end up but after all, this is a fairy tale and we all could do with a little dreaming and happy imagination at times!

The Epilogue explains what happens to the various characters afterwards, except for one, which leaves the opening for Book Two from Tales Upon A. Time. Brilliant. The concept of having Upon A. Time continue in Book Two, to tell the tale involving this character that needed a story of her own, is effective. Due to the quality of The Persnickety Princess and the interest it created for me with its characters – I would purchase Book Two in the series which is due for release September 24th, 2013.

I rated this book a solid four stars. I like the moral of this story, the underlying humour running through out it and the well-developed characters that were so easy for me to picture in my imagination. I will love reading The Persnickety Princess to my niece. Little girls need more stories where the Princess learns NOT to wait around for some Prince. Our little girls need more fairy tales, just like this one.

Some of my Favourite Quotes From the Book

Petunia laughed so hard, she snorted. “You poor prince, I’m a self-rescuing princess. Didn’t I mention that? In fact, it looks like I just saved your bacon.”

Hugo stepped back and almost stumbled as he nervously kept an eye on the dragon. “Is it safe?” Petunia shrugged as she finished saddling the dragon. “Is anything ever really safe?”

You’re a terribly accident-prone princess. Seems you might need someone around to rescue you with fair regularity.

Lavender smiled and reflected on all the years she had wasted waiting in her tower. Only when she finally left had she had found herself a worthy prince.

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

About the book: High up in the tallest tower of the purplest castle in the Kingdom by the Sea, Princess Lavender awaits rescue. Desperate as she may be, only the most dashing, well dressed, properly mannered prince will do. Oh, and he must stand exactly four and three-quarters inches taller than her. A princess has got to have standards, after all.

When, finally, one such prince comes to her castle—not to rescue her, but her younger sister—Lavender refuses to be ignored. Instead of waiting for the next suitor to come along, she devises a plan to put herself in danger, thus forcing the upstart prince to forget her sister and rescue her instead.

Well accustomed to getting her way, there is only one thing, unfortunately, that this princess can’t control—her luck. When her plans go awry, putting her in very real danger, will she allow the prince to rescue her as he sees fit? Will he even want to try?

And will anyone be able to find a way to rescue Lavender from her persnickety ways once and for all? Find out in this comedic tale of princes, dragons, and dreams that just may come true.

The Persnickety Princess is a lower grade chapter book intended for kids 6 to 9 years old (although kids of all ages are sure to enjoy it! Pick up your copy through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords or Kobo Books.

About the author:

The Author

The Author – Falcon Storm

I was born in the frozen wasteland of Alaska with the unfortunate stigma of being both a daydreamer and left-handed. Starting from an early age, I’ve filled my life with stories of every sort from my father’s hunting trips to the Holy Trilogy (read: Star Wars). In the fourth grade, I became more interested in telling stories of my own than listening to those of others. Doctors—being doctors—attempted to medicate them out of me, but the best cure has always been a pen, a notebook, and my crazy, unrestrained imagination. I continue to whittle away at these stories in my endless search for the one that will finally bring me back to reality. All the while, I secretly hope such a story will never come along. I hear “reality” is far too boring. Connect with Falcon on his website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win (1) a $25 Amazon gift card, (2) a $50 Amazon gift card, or (3) a Princess Prize Pack, which includes a plush purple dragon, necklace with lavender pendant, The Fairy Godmother’s Guide to Being a Princess, tiara and wand party set, and a DVD of The Princess Bride.

Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the $50 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other two prizes (including the awesome Princess Prize Pack) will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form on the official Persnickety Princess tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

The Four Month Challenge

The Four Month Challenge

My Points Earned So Far:  175

Four Month Challenge

5 Point Challenges

Read a book with a famous painting on the cover

Read a book with a man and woman on the cover

Read a book by a new to you author  Completed:  The Girl in the Leaves by Robert Scott

Read a book that you’ve read before

Read a book whose author name begins with J (First or last)  Completed:  From A to X, A Story in Letters by John Berger

10 Point Challenges

Read a book that’s a collection of short stories

Read a book about family  Completed:  The Sound of Loneliness by Craig Wallwork

Read a book currently on the NYT Bestsellers list

Read the first book in a series  Completed:  The Persnickety Princess by Falcon Storm

Read a book whose author name starts with F (first or last)

15 Point Challenges

Read a bio/auto bio/memoir  Completed:  The Cradle Will Fall by Carl Burak & Michele Remington

Read a book with a first and last name in the title

Read a historical mystery

Read a book by a female author  Completed:  How to Successfully Date A Married Man by Gloria Bonds

Read a book whose author name begins with M (first or last)   Completed:  Watch Mommy Die by Michael Benson

20 Point Challenges

Read a cult classic  Completed:  American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Read a book no longer under copyright  Completed:  Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Read a fantasy/scifi/steampunk  Completed:  Angel Falls by Michael Paul Gonzalez

Read a book you got for Christmas  Completed:  The Paperboy by Pete Dexter

Read a book whose author begins with A (first or last)  Completed:  The Plague by Albert Camus

This challenge is hosted by Book Drunkard

Updates and information can be found on this blog post.