Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yale University Press Sale!


There is a sale on Yale University Press books right now over at One Kings Lane, so be sure to check it out! The sale ends some time Saturday - or whenever they sell out (which they often do) - so check it out soon.




One Kings Lane offers $15 off $30 purchase when you join thru 






I have been following sales on One Kings Lane for a while now. Most frequently, they offer closeouts of designer brand housewares and furnishings at a percentage of the original cost. They also have a clearance section with some really great steals, though it is on hiatus for the holiday shopping season and has been replaced with the Gifts sales:


If you are looking for a classy gift for someone, the section of gifts under $50 has some really pretty serving ware and candles for a good price. This sale ends some time Friday, and shipping is guaranteed by Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To Win Her Heart


To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0757-0
347 Pages


Synopsis:
Levi Grant leaves prison a changed man, sorry for his unintentional crime and embracing his re-found religion. He hopes to make a new start in a new place, and Spencer needs a new blacksmith. When Eden Spencer came to town five years ago, she was hoping for a new start of her own. One without the hindrance of a man. She spends her days running the local library and attending Ladies Aid meetings, and has no time for or interest in relationships. Can the new blacksmith change her heart, and when she learns about his past, will it be broken again?

My Thoughts:

To Win Her Heart is a touching story of unexpected love. The author paints a perfect picture of a peaceful little town in old time Texas. She uses images of vibrantly colored fields of wildflowers and dusty streets to help the readers to imagine themselves walking throughout the town and the outlying areas.

The characters are well thought out and each has a memorable personality. The reader is easily able to empathize with Levi and Eden in their plights, to feel the sting of hurt and indignation brought on by the closed minded inhabitants of Spencer, and to find a place in their heart for the scruffy stray Ornery.

The story progresses at a good pace and avoids the cliches in many romance novels. There are distinct moments where events affect the the characters and make them come to terms with their feelings without the frequent lustful encounters so often found in such books. For a romance novel, To Win Her Heart is quite tame. It shows that you can have a good book without all of the sex.

To Win Her Heart is clearly written from a Christian perspective - not only determined by the lack of lustful imaginings and sex scenes, but by every element of the writing. The main characters are sure in their faith and are set to live their lives by it. This does not deter from the romance in any way, but adds to it. It lets you know that their feelings are pure and true. It puts the assurance in your heart that this relationship is strong. You can close your eyes and see these characters still together 40 years down the line, rather than like many modern couples who change partners every year. That makes it all the sweeter.

Overall, To Win Her Heart is a great read. It has a solid plot and an endearing story. It has it's few "action" moments to keep you from getting bored, and it teaches respectful values. If you are a fan of romance novel and want to avoid all the smut, this is a good book.

I was contacted by Bethany House publishers and given a free copy of To Win Her Heart in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Parent's Guide:
To Win Her Heart is a perfect romance novel for young readers. I would highly recommend this book to preteens and teens who like sweet stories. It displays healthy values - i.e. no girls wanting to die because their guy doesn't want them around, or other foolishness like that. It does not use foul language or inappropriate actions. There are one or two minor violent encounters, none of which are really graphic or gory. To Win Her Heart is a nice, safe read for young ones.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Agent of Artifice Winner!

The winner of the signed copy of Agent of Artifice is:

Jessica Peeling

Congratulations on your win! Your book will go out as soon as I receive an email with the details on where to send it.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and be on the lookout for the next giveaway!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Last day to enter giveaway!

I hope that everyone out there had a good turkey day yesterday. Even though the holiday is over, remember to be thankful for your blessings every day. And be safe if you are out there shopping this morning. There are a bunch of crazies out there I'll bet.

I am sorry the Agent of Artifice review came so late. Last week I got really sick, and as soon as I got meds for it, my DH and daughter got a stomach bug. So I was drugged up for a sinus thing and still trying to take care of them (sounds fun, huh?) and didn't get all the posts in I intended.

It is up though! So remember to check it out and comment for the giveaway, which ends at midnight tonight! There is still a low number of entries, so anyone has a good chance! Remember, you get one entry for each giveaway post or Townsend review post you comment on, as well as for following on FB or GFC, and for tweeting!

I will be away from internet at the renaissance festival all weekend, so the winner will be posted Monday! Good luck to everyone!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Agent of Artifice



Agent of Artifice by S. Evan Townsend
ISBN: 978-1937593186
302 Pages
Available in Paperback and on Kindle


Synopsis:
In this sequel to Hammer of Thor, the story of the adepts continues as told by Michael Vaughan. On the surface, Michael Vaughan looks like an ordinary guy - he has lots of money and loves chasing women. Appearances can be deceiving though. In reality, Michael is a rouge adept sent on a mission to assassinate Fidel and Raul Castro in Havana. Using spells, he is able to infiltrate the enemy bases but things don't go according to plan and he is caught. His talisman is stolen from him, leaving him in a weakened state, fighting for his freedom and to reclaim his life.

My Thoughts:

Agent of Artifice has an abundance of colorful Cuban imagery and historical insight. It paints a picture of life on the streets of Havana in the mid 1950s. As with Hammer of Thor, the historical images are greatly detailed, but there is a good balance of fantasy as well, so the "non-fiction" elements aren't really overbearing.

The main character is an everyday Joe, so to speak. He shows his flaws in a manner that makes him seem more human and likable. In fact, all of the characters have their own well developed personality and traits.You get a feeling for who the characters are and the interactions between them are believable.

This book is a non-stop action movie in text format. Vaughan takes you on a trek from Cuba to the US and back again, with never a dull stop along the way. There are plenty of well written battles and a ton of other action packed scenes involving poker games and character relations.

One thing that was noticeably different in this sequel was how the time line of the events was handled. In the first book in the series, everything was done in a linear fashion, while in Agent of Artifice, the story jumped around, having "flashback" moments and then coming back to the present. Often, this can be confusing, but I think it was handled well. There were very few moments where I got confused with the order of events or which characters were present in the current time and place.

Overall, I thought that this was a great story. Agent of Artifice is an exciting adventure that you will not want to put down until the end. It is a worthy sequel to Hammer of Thor, with plenty of action and intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat. I can't wait to see what is next for this series.

I was contacted by the writer and given a free copy of Agent of Artifice in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Parent's Guide:
Agent of Artifice, like it's predecessor, is an excellent read for the older youths, like high school and college students. It is a good clean book - full of action but devoid of graphic violence and foul language. The writing is complex and younger kids would find themselves lost in the detail and historical descriptions and probably be bored easily.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Agent of Artifice Giveaway!

Look what came in the mail yesterday! This is the prize for the Agent of Artifice giveaway. A signed copy of the book, which just came out this Tuesday. Not sure if you can see the signature with the glare on the photo.




You may notice that the review for Agent of Artifice is not up yet. I have been fighting with sick, and after getting a shot at the doctor's office this afternoon, I came home and slept all day. Still not 100%, but I wanted to update so everyone knew what was going on. The review will be posted by tomorrow afternoon.

What this means is I am extending the contest deadline to next Friday. That's right! Another week to enter. I could end it earlier in the week, but with the Thanksgiving holiday, I don't see a lot happening on the postal front. So, remember to enter by next Friday for a chance to win this great book.

Ways to enter:
1 entry - Be a follower on gfc (Google Friend Connect)
1 entry - Like Paperback Goddess Blogs on Facebook
3 entries - Tweet about the reviews and the giveaway. Tag @PB_Goddess in tweet.
2 entries - Comment on the reviews for Hammer of Thor and Agent of Artifice
2 entries - Comment on the 2 other giveaway related posts (this one and this one)

That is a NINE possible chances to win the book! Good luck.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hammer of Thor


Hammer of Thor by S. Evan Townsend
ISBN: 978-1937593049
380 Pages
Available in Paperback and on Kindle


Synopsis:
The humans like to think they are in control, while really, they are manipulated and controlled by magic users who live among them, known as adepts. The adepts see the rest of humanity as below them. No government can control them and no authority can stop them. Some adepts are good, while others are evil. All are powerful. Many adepts use ancient relics called talismans to increase their power. The most powerful talisman in the world is The Hammer of Thor. When Hitler steals it from its rightful owners, the Valkyrie, an American adept called Francis Kader is reluctantly drawn into the effort to retrieve the Hammer from the Nazis. He sets out on a journey that leads him to a confrontation with Thor himself. What can this adept do to defeat an immortal god?

My Thoughts:

Hammer of Thor is a treasure of historical and cultural insight. It brings forth images of life in America and Europe during World War II. It gives intelligent and well researched descriptions of the technology that was available at that time, in a serious yet somewhat humerous manner. The historical images are greatly detailed, but there is a good balance of fantasy as well, so the "non-fiction" elements aren't really overbearing.

The characters are interesting and make you want to like them - even some of the bad guys. To be honest, I was rooting for Morgan. Each character had it's own well developed personality and traits. Often in books with as many characters as this one has, they become a blur at a point and you forget who is who beyond the main three or four. This was not the case here. Each character had enough distinct and memorable traits that it was easy to distinguish who they were when they returned after several chapters' absence.

There is a plethora of action to keep you on your toes. Kader hops from continent to continent throughout the book and never seems to see an uneventful moment. The battle scenes are well written, and you can imagine the actions unfolding in front of you, like you are watching a movie. Even the less eventful scenes are detailed in such a manner that you feel involved.

Hammer of Thor is a non-stop adventure from beginning to end. It sets the bar high and does not disappoint. There is action and intrigue, and it always leaves the reader guessing. With many books, I figure out the ending long before I get there, but with Hammer of Thor this was not the case. Every turn was a surprise.

I was contacted by the writer and given a free copy of Hammer of Thor in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Parent's Guide:
Hammer of Thor is an excellent read for the older youths, like high school and college students. It is a good clean book - full of action but devoid of graphic violence and foul language. The writing is complex and younger kids would find themselves lost in the detail and historical descriptions and probably be bored easily.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two Reviews and a Giveaway!!

This week, I am dedicating my blog to a somewhat new writer - Mr. S. Evan Townsend.  This year has been a busy year for Mr. Townsend, with the release of Hammer of Thor back in the summer, and the sequel, Agent of Artifice, which goes on sale tomorrow! This week, I will be sharing my opinion on both books - Hammer of Thor on Tuesday and Agent of Artifice on Thursday.

I will also be giving away a SIGNED copy of Agent of Artifice! How do you get a chance to win? Easy.
Be a follower the blog on GFC - one entry.
Comment on this post - one entry.
Comment on each of the reviews after they go up - one entry each.
Tweet about the contest and the reviews - one entry each (max of three).  Tag @PB_Goddess in tweet.
Like Paperback Goddess Blogs on Facebook - one entry.

That is a possible eight chances to win! The last day to enter the giveaway will be Friday, November 18th, 2011. One winner will be chosen at random from all entries received, and will be notified by the following Monday. Remember to leave an email address to be contacted at, and check back Monday to see the winner posted on the blog!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dragon's Pupils - The Sword Guest


Dragon's Pupils - The Sword Guest by Martin Chu Shui
ISBN: 978-1921578472
300 Pages


Synopsis:
Liz is a half Australian and half Chinese girl growing up in Australia. her primary focus in life is environmental issues, particularly watching her friend’s handsome brother, who is an environmental activist. When, on the eve of her fourteenth birthday, a catastrophic accident sets thousands of ancient monsters loose, Liz's world changes forever. Suddenly Liz finds herself wishing she had paid more attention to her father's numerous ancient Chinese stories, as she finds that she must learn many new skills and call on all of her Chinese heritage to prevent the monsters from destroying Earth. Aided by her twin brother Henry and her best friend Sue, Liz sets out to discover why the monsters exist and how to stop them. Can she learn enough about a world she has ignored to stop the monsters in time?

My Thoughts:

I want to start off by saying this: The Sword Guest is an exciting and original story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it once I got into it.

The narration in The Sword Guest is abundant with cultural lore. I love seeing the various ancient Chinese stories that bring forth images of the Great Wall and days long gone. There is plenty of action to keep you entertained as well. The battle scenes are descriptive without going so far as to be overbearing. The varieties of monsters and villains and the interactions with them are interesting. I found myself surprised when vampires came into the story, but liked the way that they were written. It was a refreshing change to the more human vampires portrayed in so many novels today.  

The characters are well all developed, each having their own desires and dreams. Most importantly, they were likable. Focusing on the main three characters Liz, Henry, and Sue - I found myself at moments questioning the believability of their actions. Not their "super hero" actions - this is a book after all - but rather their everyday, "normal" actions. There was something about the way these fourteen year old children were running around, sometimes without parental consent, at potentially dangerous environmental rallies and protests, that irked at me a little. Even when they asked for consent, it was no big deal, like it was an every day occurrence. I loved that they were impassioned about their cause, but it still felt a little too farfetched. However, saying this, I have never been to Australia and I do not know the cultural differences. Children are raised differently across the world, and it is very possible that this is what the writer experienced growing up in Australia.

This book was written to target an adult market or a teen / young adult market, and it will be much better received in the youth department. The action and story is there, but many adults may find it hard to relate to heroes in their early teens. 

There was one notable thing that confused me while reading this story - the use of parentheses. In most books, a reader will come across a phrase or word that they do not understand, and they will have to look it up. There are several words in The Sword Guest that may have that effect on readers. Yet, I noticed on some of the simpler ones, there is an explanation within the writing, in parentheses. To me, this is seen as an editorial note, and it is distracting because it pulls you out of the story. As I read, the use of parentheses cropped up a few times, either defining a phrase or giving a background explanation of something occurring. It just seemed to me like there had to be a better way to put that information in there that would not bring the reader so abruptly out of the narration.

Aside from the parentheses, the biggest issue I had with The Sword Guest was the number of spelling and grammar errors - the first one as early on as two pages into the story. I came to discover that there were several such errors throughout the book. Now, I don't see this as all the fault of the writer. Writing a book is a long and arduous process, and a writer needs to have a good support system of editors and proofreaders behind them. This book was in need of a little more editing before publication. With a bit of polish, it would be perfect.

A while back, I was contacted by the writer and given a free copy of The Sword Guest in exchange for a fair and honest review. To be honest, when I was approached to review the book, I agreed knowing very little about it. I don't even recall if I read the synopsis first. I made a claim that I would review anything, and I planned to stick to it. I am really glad that I got to read this book though, because it had all of the elements of a good book - interesting characters, good background and lots of lore, a few surprises, and plenty of momentum. I am definitely looking forward to more from this writer.

Parent's Guide:
The Sword Guest is an ideal fantasy novel for young readers. The writing is not too difficult, but also not so simplistic that it gets boring. It has plenty of things to keep them entertained, as well as reminders to be environmentally conscious. I would highly recommend this book to preteens and teens - particularly those who enjoyed novels like those in the Goosebumps series. It does not use foul language, however,  there are a number of violent encounters, some of which are graphic. I would advise parental discretion based on the age of the child and how easily they are affected by visual imagery.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Magyk

Magyk by Angie Sage
ISBN: 978-0-0605-7731-5
576 Pages


Synopsis:
The seventh son of the seventh son, named Septimus Heap, is declared dead and taken away by a midwife on the night of his birth. On his way home that very night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, discovers a bundle in the snow which contains a baby girl with violet eyes. He brings her home and the Heap family raises her as one of their own. But there are many questions to be answered. Who is this mysterious baby? What really happened to their son Septimus?

My Thoughts:
Magyk is a colorful read, full of fantasy and whimsy. The author describes everything in such a detailed manner that you could almost see the tiny room that the Heaps spend their days in, or close your eyes and navigate your way along the city walls.

The characters are unique and full of personality. They each have their own kooky traits that make them feel a little more real. You find yourself being drawn into their world, empathizing with them as they face trials and willing them to succeed.

With the lore, it reminded me, in a way, of Harry Potter. It had a similar wizard and non-wizard conflict and epic battle with an evil wizard feeling. One big and notable difference is that, Harry Potter lived in an imaginary world within our real world, while the Heaps live in a completely original world. Now, I am not saying that Magyk is just like Harry Potter - it is, by far, a different story, and one with it's own merits. However, if you are a fan of such works as the Harry Potter series, you will most likely enjoy this book.

It did seem to me at times that the writer had a touch of ADD. The story would be going smoothly about some event that was occurring, and then would, all of a sudden, shoot off on a wild tangent. Not about something un-related, mind you. They would mention something in the path of the narration, and then go off into a three to four paragraph of the description of the particular item. It didn't feel out of place, just strange. Afterward, they would go back into the narration of the story, and it flowed okay, so it wasn't really a big deal.

This next bit is something that gave me a giggle. I joked to someone that you could tell the writer was a woman because she had a shoe fetish. Not really, but it did seem as though she had an obsession for this one pair of purple shoes. They were mentioned several times, and it was never a casual mention. Every time they were brought up, you were given more information about the materials, the origins, even the emotions they had. From what I could tell, they were not even integral to the story in any way. Perhaps they have more meaning further down the line though.

Overall, Magyk is an entertaining read. The plot is very well developed. I was a little sad that I guessed the big plot twist before the end - in fact, I knew it from the setup. I don't blame this on the writing though. I blame it on the fact that I grew up reading Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew, and that I love watching Detective Conan. It's just how my mind is programmed to work. The same thing happened with a few of the other books I read right after this one. Darn my inquisitive mind.

Despite figuring out the end before I got there, I absolutely loved Magyk. It was an interesting story that kept the reader's attention from beginning to end, and I am eager to continue the series.

Parent's Guide:
Magyk is an excellent fantasy novels for young readers. I would highly recommend this book to preteens and teens - particularly those who enjoyed novels like those in the Harry Potter series. It does not use foul language. There is a small number of violent encounters, none of which are graphic or gory. Magyk is a nice, safe read for young ones.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back on track, and with new stuff!

Hello out there! It sure has been a while, hasn't it? The day we hit Maine I got sick, and it stayed for the rest of the trip. Fortunately, mine was just allergic reaction - the DH got strep. That, combined with other events, turned the relaxing vacation into the trip from, well, you know. Not in a rush to do that one again any time soon. Then, after I got back from my vacation - if you could call it that - a lot of different things all came crashing down on me all at once, which forced me into hiatus.

Fortunately, I am back and eager to get back to posting. I never stopped reading. I made notes and hand wrote reviews, so I have a lot to post. Hopefully the internet will agree with me and I will get to post up a new review every few days.

Over the time that I was not blogging, I was still active on facebook, since I can post to that from my cell phone. I got really into posting about things other than books - which brings me to an announcement! Introducing The Goddess Domestic! This sister blog will be used for me to post about non book related topics, like cooking, household items, and couponing opportunities. I will probably post my more crafty topics there as well. I will still be posting here, I will just be alternating days between the two pages.

Another new thing is that I set up a facebook page for my blogs. You can go to Paperback Goddess Blogs to get quick summaries and highlights on all my posts, plus see other comments that do not need a whole post. Many of these small comments can also be found on my twitter feed. Any giveaways I do on the blogs will be announced on facebook and twitter.

Well, I think that is all for now. Look for the newest review tomorrow morning, and then I will be back with another Monday or Tuesday. I am working a local renaissance festival on the weekends until Thanksgiving, so the blogs will only be updated Monday through Friday until then. Stop in and visit though, you may get a surprise!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quick Update

Stopping in to say hi to everyone! I haven't posted a blog in a bit. Right after all the Blogger issues cleared up, I found myself prepping for a cross country road trip, driving from Texas to Virginia and then Maine to visit family. The summer trip has taken over and net access isn't as bountiful as hoped. I am still reading and making notes. Many reviews to post when I hit home! Including the promised and awaited review of Magyk by Angie Sage and Jeffery Overstreet's The Ale Boy's Feast, as well as A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man by Celeste Bradley, which came in right before time to leave.

Things to look out for: Besides five or six reviews, when I get settled back at home I am planning a giveaway contest, so watch out for that! Maybe you will get to hear some interesting tales  from my journey as well. I will be back on July 2nd, but will try to check back in before then with updates, access and crummy laptop permitting. ~PBG

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reading Challenges!

As you can see, I have made a lot of layout changes and done some updates. I hope it is still easy enough for everyone to follow.

Something I am really excited about is my 2011 Reading Challenge goals. I had already been working on one or two goals for the year, but after coming across Book Chick City's 100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge, I became inspired to see how far I can make it. My original Goodreads goal was only 40, but I think I can do it. I also signed on for BCC's Vampire Chronicles Reading Challenge. I have always loved reading about vampires, and tried to make it through the Vampire Chronicles series in the past, but I moved about half way through The Vampire Armand and never got back to reading them. This will give me a good excuse to re-visit them and try to finish the series this time. Wish me luck! My progress can be tracked through the counters on the right side - and, of course, by the reviews!

In other update news: I added my review policy, which can be found at the top of the page and in the "Contact Information" box. I also added links to my Goodreads and PaperbackSwap accounts. If you are a swapper, or want to become one, check out my lists!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

BookMooch for swapping books

One of the random things that I have discovered in the past year is the awesomeness of swapping sites. There are sites out there to swap everything, from books, movies, and cds to crafts, clothing, and even houses! Every once in a while I join a new site, just to see how it works. I am now a member of at least 8 swapping sites - but I don't think I am addicted. :D

This week I joined a site called BookMooch. I saw on my LibraryThing profile that the site had a book that I was seeking that no other site had listed, so I was optimistic that there would be several good offerings.

At first view, their site is not as graphically advanced as many others, but it is functionality over beauty, right? It is straightforward and easy to navigate. The biggest starting challenge I had was finding the spot to bulk upload my wish list. There is one, it just takes a little digging.

I like the points system. Aside from giving you a point for each book you mail, like most sites do, they also give you .1 point for each book you list in the system. You can't just list them and then remove them though - the point leaves if the book does. They also understand the cost and effort involved for sending a book to another country, so if you choose to send international, you get 3 points for the book instead of just 1.

They have a unique ratio policy in place, which I find interesting, but in a good way. A user must keep at least a 2:1 ratio to request books. That is, for every 2 you request, you must send one. That sounds pretty fair to me. It keeps people from listing tons of really bad stuff that they know no one will request and then ordering a lot using the points from listing.

It is nice that you can see exactly where the book you request is coming from, and can choose from multiple offers. Though, it is sad when you see that the only "available" copy is from someone in another country that will not ship international.

The most disappointing thing I found about the site is that, once I got my wish list loaded, I could see exactly how little selection they actually have available. I loaded a 206 book wish list, including books from all sorts of varied genres and types, and of the 206, only 6 were available. There is no sort of queue either, so if someone does add one of your wish list books, they email a notification to everyone with it on their wish list and you have to hope to be the first one to snag it.

They mention on the site at some point that, of the books you list, about 80% of them will be requested almost immediately. This is very true. Because there is so little readily available to chose from, new titles being listed will be grabbed up quickly. This is good for the people who manage to get those books, and good for those who want to be rid of their collections fast, but can be tough for those who find themselves having to pay postage on 10-15 books at a time.

On the plus side, the requests do not expire. They stay around until you send the book to someone - making it unavailable - or until the requester cancels the request. So you can tell some of the people that there will be delayed shipping and ship a few at a time.

Overall, the site is not too bad. With some growth it could be better. I will probably not list anymore books until I spend at least a few of the credits I have amassed - including for the 7 books I mailed today. But I will definitely keep checking back, and will likely list more as time goes on.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Auralia's Colors



Auralia's Colors
by Jeffrey Overstreet
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7252-1
334 Pages


Synopsis:
A pair of outcast thieves find an abandoned child on the side of the river, lying in a giant footprint. She is brought to the criminals' community, outside the walls of House Abscar, where she is raised with the other orphans under their care. But there is something different about Auralia. She has an amazing ability to craft colors. Colors that are forbidden in Abscar. Colors that enchant all who see them. Colors that will change the lives of all of the houses in the Expanse.

My Thoughts:
Auralia's Colors is an inventive story, unlike anything I had ever read before. It creates a vivid picture of a great land, called the Expanse, and of the different types of people who inhabit this land. The descriptions are very detailed, to the point where a creative mind could envision themselves walking along the banks of the River Throanscall or wandering amongst the Gatherers' huts.

The characters are very well developed, and display a diverse array of personalities. The ones who should be likable are likable, and there are a couple that you don't feel as guilty about disliking. For me, this was Stricia. For some reason, I just wanted someone to go Wicked Witch of the East and drop a house on her. Oh, irony. My absolute favorite character was the ale boy. Before they even got into his back story, I was intrigued by him. I am super excited to read The Ale Boy's Feast, which is also on my list for this month.

The story is narrated from the "over the shoulder" view of the important character in the scene. For most books, this would mean one to three characters, but in Auralia's Colors, this covers over ten characters. This has the potential to get confusing - or annoying - fast. Yet, somehow, it works here.

One of the first things I noticed when I started reading Auralia's Colors was that there is quite a bit of dialogue. I understand that dialogue enhances a story, but I guess I like when a book opens up with vast imagery as opposed to conversation. I was very put off by the somewhat gruff conversation between Krawg and Warney in the first chapter. It took re-reading several times to make it past that and into the actual story. I feared that would set the tone for the whole book. Fortunately, once it picked up pace, I enjoyed reading it.

Honestly, there was a segment here or there that I found unnecessary to the greater story. A view point that did not seem that significant. A conversation that seemed trivial. A character that did not seem so important as to warrant the amount of coverage it received. The number of named characters was so massive that it is possible to become confused, or forget some altogether, so that when they are later mentioned, you have to stop and think to remember what you already learned about them. When you combine this with the extravagant descriptions, the story does have its moments where it seems long-winded and it causes you to lose interest. I feel that it took me much longer to read this book than it should have.

Auralia's Colors is classified as a Christian Fiction novel, though there seems to be a dispute amongst reviewers as to if this is a correct classification. Jeffery Overstreet is a Christian novelist, which is probably the inital reason for the classification. Unlike much of the Christian Fiction available today, there are not overbearing religious messages. However, I could actually see Christian influences in the story. I have seen other reviewers mention before that there is the Keeper as a god figure, looking over the children. One could also say that the Northchildren represent angels. But to me, the most noticable influence would have to do with the moment where Auralia tells the ale boy that she is going home, and the circumstances surrounding that event. I could note mention of each of the "seven deadly sins" represented and punished.

I find myself with mixed emotions for Auralia's Colors. It was a good story, but I sometimes wondered if it fell into the category of "too much of a good thing."

Parent's Guide:
Auralia's Colors is somewhat tame, as far as fantasy novels go. If your teen wishes this book to read, you really don't have anything to worry about. It does not use standard "bad" language and only briefly alludes to anything that could be seen as inappropriate, such as romantic encounters, without ever going so far as to cross a line. There is a large amount of violence, but nothing overly graphic or gory. Auralia's Colors is a nice, safe read for teens as far as fantasy novels go, though it is somewhat long and wordy, so if they are not an avid reader, they may get frustrated and give up before the end.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Goddess is in the Details


The Goddess is in the Details: Wisdom for the Everyday Witch
by Deborah Blake
ISBN: 978-0-7387-1486-8
228 Pages


Synopsis:
Deborah Blake shares with you the life of one who embraces the craft - being a Witch in every aspect of daily life. She includes helpful advice, practical suggestions and yes, even a few spells, to help out those hoping to enrich their spiritual walk.

My Thoughts:
With me, new age and Pagan books are often hit or miss. There are many good books out there for people who wish to learn about Paganism, yet at the same time, there are many that are a big heaping literary mess. When I first spotted The Goddess is in the Details on the library shelf, I was optimistic. The cover art is appealing. It is warm and colorful - much like the subjects who may read it.

According to the introduction, this book was written "primarily with more experienced Witches in mind" and the target audience is "any Witch who has mastered the fundamentals." I have to strongly disagree with this sentiment. I think The Goddess is in the Details is a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about Pagan beliefs. Not just practicing Witches, but their loved ones as well. Sure, they may not understand right off what an athame is, or what calling quarters means, but they will get the important information - like the pagan views on attitudes, love, tolerance and relationships with nature. Things that may very well shatter any negative preconceived notions that they may harbor.

While it does suggest a few spells to help you out, The Goddess is in the Details is by no means a spell book. If you are looking for spells to get rich quick or win someone's love, you are looking in the wrong place. Or maybe, you aren't, since this book will explain to you why those spells will not work.

One of the things I absolutely loved about this book is the writing style. It is not stiff and impersonal like many other books I have read. Miss Blake writes in a very friendly and welcoming manner, often using humor, which makes it seem more like a conversation than a lecture. You feel as though she is talking directly to you.

While reading The Goddess is in the Details, I experienced several moments where the ideals and stories really hit home, and was inspired to reflect on how these things related to me personally.
     For instance, after reading the chapters titled "The Healthy Witch" and "Mindful Eating" I stopped to think about my eating habits, and how the stresses I have faced over the past year have led to me not care about my eating habits as much as I used to. In the last week, I have been more cautious in what I have been eating, and I really can tell the difference.
     In the chapter about cleaning, Miss Blake reminds you of the old saying that "cleanliness is next to godliness" and really hits the nail on the head with the statement "it is hard to be pure of spirit if you live in a pigsty." As she points out - "If your home is truly your temple, it only makes sense that you would want to treat it in a positive and respectful way." I will be the first to admit that when cleaning up after the kids, I often get overwhelmed and just don't want to bother with it all, but after reading this I look at it differently.
     Perhaps the chapter that got to me most of all was the one on the power of words. I have always been against the use of the word "hate" and have been cautious to only put out the energies that I would like in return, but I still often find myself saying things that aren't one hundred percent nice. After reading this book, I have found that I am being more aware of what I say to people, and even to myself. I am more focused on positive affirmations and not becoming angry when one of my kids does something they shouldn't.

It is possible that I would take these lessons away from any other book I read that covered the same topics, but I feel that it is the casual and friendly writing style that makes you really take it to heart. Miss Blake writes in a compassionate way that shows that she really cares about the readers and wants them to be happy. She knows how to turn phrases that make you feel secure. For example - and this is probably my favorite line in the book - when talking about prayer, she reminds you that "[The gods] may not answer your prayer in the way you want, but if you open yourself to it, their love is always there to wrap around yourself like a warm blanket."

Eating, cleaning, and words are only a few of the broad array of topics that The Goddess is in the Details covers, quite sufficiently, in it's 228 pages. However, just in case you want to go more into depth on any of the topics covered, Miss Blake included a wonderful list of recommended reading books that specialize on the topics covered.

At the end of each chapter, there is a portion labeled "Something to Think About" or "Something to Try" which gives you ways to further reflect on what you learned in that chapter. These are faintly reminiscent to the chapter reviews in old textbooks, but a lot more friendly. Rather than asking you to remember what you learned in the chapter, they are suggesting ways that you can take what you learned and utilize it.

I believe that this is a wonderful book that anyone who feels the need to learn more about Pagans can enjoy.  Displaying such warmth and wisdom, Deborah Blake is really in her element here. She is quite possibly my new favorite Pagan writer. I hope to own for myself a copy of this book soon, and I look forward to reading her other works.

Parent's Guide:
Miss Blake says in her introduction that this book is intended mostly for the more mature and experienced crowd. Does this mean you should ban your teen from reading it? Absolutely not. The Goddess is in the Details is a rich resource of moral and ethical lessons for a practicing Witch, and is written at a level that most teens can understand. In fact, if you discover that your child is interested in Paganism, this is a book that I would recommend for them to read. And you as well, so that you understand the feelings they are having and their beliefs do not seem so alien. You could even make it a moment of bonding, by reading it together and discussing the topics, or working together on end of chapter "projects."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May Reading Selections and Tea Party Madness!

Okay, so I didn't get near as far with my April list as I expected to. I don't think I was too ambitious - I normally read more than I did last month. However, I did forget to take into account the other projects I had to work on before this summer hits. Because of this, some of my April list got bumped to May.


So now, this is what my May reading list looks like:

Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet
Magyk by Angie Sage
The Ale Boy's Feast by Jeffery Overstreet
Rumpelstiltskin vs. Miller by Michael H. Brandt
The Light Inside the Dark by John Tarrant
 
In recognition of Beltane, I set aside Auralia and read The Goddess is in the Details by Deborah Blake, but have been so busy I haven't had a chance to finish the review, so that should be up tonight.


I know, what could be more interesting than reading and writing? The answer is: nothing! But - there are things that can be equally as interesting! One of the other hobbies I participate in is a phenomenon called cosplay. This is where people dress up in costumes of their favorite characters from Japanese cartoons and video games. I love sewing, so I enjoy costuming events. In fact, I help out with and run cosplay events at anime conventions, and I run a cosplay group.

This past weekend my cosplay group hosted a lolita fashion themed tea party and luncheon. Which was awesome, because not only did I get to dress up, but I also got to cook, which is another love of mine!
My delicious contribution - Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Scones, and Onigiri
After staying up all night preparing food and modifying my dress, it was off to the park. We met at Hermann Park in Houston, which is always beautiful, and the nice weather made it even better. Unfortunately, there was some kind of fund raising benefit going on, so it was more crowded than we expected. That didn't keep us from having a great time.
Me and 2 of my girls at the beginning of the day




The tea party was a success. We all made new friends and got some great photos. The group is already eager for the next one to be scheduled. This is how it often is for me. So, chances are if I go a few days without posting, it means I am sewing and preparing for an event, like a faire or a con.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Still Reading...

Yeah, even I have those days.

Well, it looks like my April reading list may carry over into May. Auralia is taking much longer to read than I had expected. I am not discouraged though and I hope to have another review ready by this evening or tomorrow morning.

On the positive side, I have already filled out my reading list for May and it did not even take a trip to the library. Someone sent me some "light reading" - that is a whopping 765 pages! And with no illustrations even!

While I work on reading that one I will either do reviews of books I read in the past few months that are still fresh on the mind, or I will invite a guest blogger to submit a review, so that no one gets bored. Keep a look out and you might even see other interesting and creative stuff show up...

Okay, back to my book. See you later!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dreaming Anastasia



Dreaming Anastasia: A Novel of Love, Magic, and the Power of Dreams
by Joy Preble
ISBN: 1-4022-1817-6 / 978-1-4022-1817-0
310 Pages


Synopsis:
Anne has dreams that she is another person, in another place, in another time. The dreams are not only real - they are also terrifying. She tries to ignore them, but then even more unusual things begin to happen to her. A handsome stranger, a boy who appears to be Anne's age, approaches her and offers to explain everything. He claims that Anne is the person he has been seeking for a long time, and that only she can help him to rescue the Grand Duchess Anastasia from the clutches of the evil witch Baba Yaga.

My Thoughts:
Being a fan of Anastasia lore, I had high hopes for this book. Fortunately, it did not let me down. The writing is somewhat simplistic - which is suitable for a young adult book, but at the same time, the content is high in detail and vivid imagery. Dreaming Anastasia is well developed and creative. It covers the same topics as many books that have come before it, but from a new angle. the story is dark and has many sad moments, but it has humorous points as well.  

I did have a few qualms with Dreaming Anastasia. The biggest one was this: I do not care for books written in the present tense. The wording is often awkward and errors can happen easily. There were one or two points where in my head I just went "ugh" over how something was phrased. Despite this, I still could not stop reading.

I also found the focus on sex a little disturbing for a young adult targeted book. The fact that it was discussed so casually - and frequently - was, to me, not age appropriate. But I suppose times are changing, and I am a little behind. The fact that Tess outwardly expressed her guilt over doing what she had done and was trying to keep her friend from making the same mistakes was a redeeming factor - at least it was not glorifying the act at a young age. 

There are several grammatical errors - mostly with spelling, but nothing that takes away from the enjoyability of the story as a whole. The ideas and concepts were still valid, and have the potential to make readers want to learn more about the subjects covered. For a first novel, Joy Preble did a great job. With a little more editing and polish, it could have been perfect.

Once I started reading, I did not want to put it down until I was finished. To me, this is the sign of a good book. From start to finish, the book took about 5 hours to read. I did not complete it all in one sitting, though I would have if I could.

Overall, Dreaming Anastasia is an excellent read.

Parent's Guide:
By dialogue and situations, you can tell that Dreaming Anastasia is targeted at the high school crowd. Would you would want your 14 year old daughter reading it? I would have to say it is a parent's call on this one. As I previously mentioned, this book talks frequently about sex. So, if you feel comfortable with your child's level of maturity and understanding of these concepts, then by all means let them read it. But if you do not - proceed with caution.

The Oz Counter: 3! Did you spot them? (The Oz Counter is explained in the "Anatomy of a PBG Review" link at the top of the page.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Win a gift card to Half Price Books!

Hello readers! I came across this and I wanted to share.


Lori, over at At The Fence, is offering a $10 gift card to Half Price Books. If there is not one in your area, they are online as well. Check it out. At HPB, $10 can go a long way!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April Reading Selections - Let's Discuss!

A new blog is a perfect opportunity for a new start, so I decided that I wanted to start with some fresh reads. After a quick trip to the local library, I have decided on my reading list for April.

Dreaming Anastasia by  Joy Preble
Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet
The Goddess is in the Details by Deborah Blake
Magyk by Angie Sage
The Light Inside the Dark by John Tarrant
 
I am excited to start reading. Reviews will be posted over the next month. so remember to check back. And, as previously stated, I am always open to discussion, so I invite you to grab a book and read along!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Welcome to my book review blog!

'Who is this PaperbackGoddess?' you may be wondering. I am just a normal, stay-at-home mother of two. I enjoy sewing and crafting. I am a big fan of anime and Japanese culture. I help organize cosplay and costuming events, and love planning events in general. Another type of event I work with often is weddings. I am an ordained Priestess and I officiate at weddings all through the year. There is no greater feeling than being able to unite two people who are deeply in love.

In what spare time I have, I read. I love reading! Reading a book gives you a chance to immerse yourself in a different world. To, if just for a moment, forget any troubles you may have. There are boxes and stacks of book all over my house because I simply do not have enough shelves. I frequently participate in book swaps and have a wish list a mile long.

My favorite genres of books to read are historical fiction and fantasy, but I read all kinds of things - from mysteries and romances to new age and metaphysics books.

I will be doing reviews on many different types of books. So, if you have been looking for a new read, hopefully I can suggest something that suits your tastes. And I promise I will do my best to avoid spoilers!

I and am excited for the opportunity to share my literary experiences with others. I am also eager to hear other people's opinions and to have some great discussions. Come by anytime!