Rating System

I use a 5-pt scale, with .5′s. The minimum a book can get is a 1 and the max is a 5. All the books on my Favorites page are 5′s.

1 — Terrible. Or just not the book for me. I’m thinking “well, this is annoying” the whole time I’m reading it

1.5 — I obviously did not like it.

2 — It might have had a couple of redeeming features.

2.5 — It had potential, but just did not meet expectations.

3 — All right, but I won’t read it again.

3.5 — Some parts may have been good, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been.

4 — Pretty good.

4.5 — Almost perfect.

5 — This is a book that absolutely became a part of my soul and I will add it to my favorite’s shelf

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Book Review: The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke (3/5)

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When child psychologist Anya begins to treat Alex, a schizophrenic 10-year-old with hundreds of imaginary demons, she feels like something is wrong. This is not a straightforward case. Alex knows too much for a 10-year-old and claims his best friend is a centuries-old demon named “Ruen.” This friend may be real…. Ruen takes an interest in Anya and seems to know everything about Anya’s personal life and inner demons…

I enjoyed reading this psychological thriller. But I don’t think I’ll be reading it again or adding it to my favorites shelf because the plot twist just felt off. I felt like this book could have stabbed me in the heart; it could have been something deeply touching and impactful…Instead, the plot twist kind of ruined the mood of the book.

I still have to say I really enjoyed the book. It was a fun read and I thank it for introducing me to the genre of adult psychological thrillers!

***eBook provided by Netgalley in exchange for my honest review

Book Review: Unexplained Fevers by Jeannine Hall Gailey (4.5/5)

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Unexplained Fevers consists of a scattering of twisted, beautiful and melancholy poems — also modern-day retellings of fairy tales. Gailey’s poems have a melodic feel to them. There is this haunting echo to her words that tells you, “There’s something deeper in these lines. There’s something you can find here about yourself.” Her fairy tales are nothing like the Grimm fairy tales, nor anything like Disney. They taste surreal. They’re this heartbreaking mix of reality and dreams.

Gailey reshapes fairy tale characters as modern-day beings. Snow White falls into a coma after cheer practice. Sleeping Beauty has a MRI. Alice “[whispers] from the covers of cereal boxes.” Hansel and Gretel suffer from a hereditary disease. Jack and Jill are 30-year-olds whose lives and dreams slip away like pieces of paper. These are broken people with broken lives and broken souls — but they are so much realer, so much more beautiful than their polished fairy-tale counterparts.

In her collection, Gailey plunges into an important theme and raises questions about gender roles and womanhood. Fairy tales have this concept of damsels in distress who find happily-ever-endings. But these damsels are never the heroines of their own stories, never the deciders of their own fates. In the poem “She Had Unexplained Fevers,” Gailey describes the girl Snow White: “her hair ribbon was laced with poison absorbed through her scalp…girls like that they bruise easy like fruit.” And she wonders: “Why do they wish beauty? Why not safety?” This line of poetry is so powerful and it somehow etched its way into permanence in my memory.

Rebirth and choices…that’s a thing we all want. Strength. Chances in life. The power to shape our own identities. Princesses are weak. They’re gorgeous and fragile and weak — and perhaps there’s a kind of beauty in that fragility, something in that vulnerability? But there’s no choice with weakness. On her deathbed, Snow White makes a wish: “In [her] next life, she swears to herself, [she] will be a force of nature.”

We grew up with fairy tales. We grew up with princesses. We admired princesses. Admired their perfect lives and fairy tale endings. But what if the “princess” didn’t want that ending? What if she wants “a little time to [herself]”? She “might dream up a new ending, a new soul.” My favorite poem is about the tired princess. She “cuts off her long hair and moves to a far corner of the world, with salmon and heron for company.” She’s lonely in a strange and lovely way. In her new ending, she “[swims] with the seals, skin turning blue from cold…She [tells] herself stories of mermaids turning into sea foam, women who walked on legs like scissors, and swore not to kill any more of herself for her prince.”

Gailey finishes her collection with a kind of message for us. She says princesses never have the idea “to flee [their] fates.” They wait for princes or friends, “asleep in glass coffins and briar-thorned prisons.” They wait for the narrator to say something…to point them in the right direction. But we…we’re not fairy tale characters, and it’s a good thing. We can decide our fates, we can run away into different endings, and we can chose safety over beauty. Our lives are real and full of choices. In a way, our stories are so much better.

I recommend you read these poems, whoever you are, whatever age you are. They’re fun, quick to read, and maybe you’ll find a message for yourself.

***eBook provided by Netgalley in exchange for my honest review

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4/5)

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I bought Cinder from B/N on a book store haul a while ago. I’d been trying to get my hands on a copy of the book for a while, and I knew it was a book I’d have to own. I had been told that a novel I’m working on currently (a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin in a futuristic world) sounded like Cinder — Check out its blurb on my writing blog: Tangled Inkspills.

The premise of Cinder is basically this: Cinder is a 16-year-old mechanic working in the city of New Beijing. She’s talented, hardworking and self-sacrificing — She singlehandedly supports her stepmother and two stepsisters. But Cinder happens to be a cyborg and therefore a second-class citizen. (She’s often reminded of that by her stepmother.)

Pros:

  • The futuristic Eastern setting brings a fresh twist to the timeless Cinderella tale.
  • The house robot, Iko, has a very unique, quirky and girly personality. It’s impossible not to love her. She adds flavor to the dialogue.
  • Cinder is a mechanic and a relatively strong female protagonist.
  • The story is very well-paced.

Cons:

  • Prince Kai is a very stereotypical love interest, and all throughout the novel (evil me) I was screaming, “Don’t fall for him, Cinder! Don’t fall for him!”
  • Cinder is kinda self-deprecating…She doesn’t see her own value and often refuses to believe things…
  • The plot twist is quite predictable.
  • Deep themes are not fully exposed.

Overall, Cinder is a nice action-packed story for teenage boys and girls alike. I can’t imagine this spreading into the adult market since it’s somewhat limited in the scope of “deep themes.” I feel like there are themes/issues that are only briefly touched on…But that’s ok. I liked Cinder anyways. It was a very fun, well-written and well-paced read.

I’m actually extremely happy that this is a quartet of books. I know I will definitely be reading the next 3 just to see how Marissa Meyer works 3 retellings of different fairytales into Cinder’s world.

Bookstore Haul

I have some 40+ books on my to-read list…but I just had to get more from B/N on Saturday. I had some gift cards accumulated from writing contests. 

Books for me:

1) Tuesdays at the Castle (a children’s book that seems really good, I’d love to write MG of this premise)

2) Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales (read “The Little Peasant” to my brother last night. It was quite dark, satirical and funny. A whole village commits suicide…)

3) Cinder (I have been told that the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo seems to have elements inspired by this book)

Books my little brother picked:

1) Warriors book (I used to love this series)

2) How to Train Your Dragon #2

3) Ship in a Bottle Building Kit (his fourth choice of kit, which I finally approved of…)

Book for the parental units:

1) How to Make Sushi Kit (I love sushi and want to eat sushi. 😛 So I suppose it’s really for me…)

Book Review: Parallel Heart by J.L. Robinson (1/5)

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From page 1, I did not get along well with Parallel Heart. The prose contained glaring grammatical errors and the voice  just seemed off. It felt stilted and dense — as though it was trying too hard to be witty, descriptive and aloof. I would know. I wrote similarly (although in a more child-like tone) several years ago, toying around with big words and awkward sentence structure. Writing needs to flow, and when it flows well enough, it will make the reader comfortable enough to stay for about 50,000 words in the novel’s world.

Parallel Heart could not make me stay. It had a potentially very interesting premise — an unhappily married man longs to escape into a parallel world with a lover who may or may not be real. I thought, “This is interesting,” in my head when I read that the novel is based on the author’s love of quantum mechanics and explores the concept of parallel dimensions and blurred realities. All of this sounded new, fresh and different.

But I just couldn’t get into it. I tried very hard…the voice (as well as plot, characters and developed) just came off as stale. I’m sure Parallel Heart, given a liberal editor, time and a different direction, could’ve been something real special. But it just wasn’t for me… Again, all this is my own opinion. Perhaps you will think differently!

Leave me a comment below and tell me what you think of this review/book.