Review: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

February 15, 2011 § 6 Comments

Wench

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hour(s) and 22 min.
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Harper Audio (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003EN3JU8

I really enjoyed the audio Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez from Audible.com. Quincy Tyler Bernstine did such an amazing job narrating this and capturing and expressing the varying emotions of the characters. Quincy was really able to effectively present each character in a way that was relatable and gave me, as a reader, a real feel for that time period.

I thought Wench was an amazing debut novel. It tells the story of Tawana House, an American resort located in Ohio just before the Civil War. Tawana House was frequented by quite a few southern plantation owners who brought their slave mistresses with them which caused quite a bit of gossip for the northerners. Wench mainly focuses on the story of 4 particular women who are brought to Tawana House by their owners. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet, who have visited several times, are introduced to Mawu, whose unpredictable behavior and blunt honesty help the others to face some truths and begin to feel things they have never allowed themselves to feel. Most of all, hope.

One of the things that fascinated me the most was that Tawawa House actually existed. I guess that shouldn’t be so surprising, but I can see how learning about this place could inspire someone as talented as this author to tell its story. And I felt that Dolen Perkins-Valdez told it brilliantly. Even presenting such a painful subject as slavery and all the horrors that accompany it, while at times it was uncomfortable to read about, the characters were so engaging that I wanted to know their stories, however painful they may be. I was intrigued by the concept that, although these women were forced into a carnal relationship with their “owners” and even to have their children, some of the women considered themselves to be in love. The dynamic between all involved was as fascinating as it was disturbing. I was definitely presented with perspectives I had never before considered.

Overall, this was a beautifully written honest look at a painful period in history, but also a story about friendship, hope, and family. While Wench is in no way a fast paced novel, it is still a page-turner. What Dolen Perkins-Valdez does so well is present the complexities of those relationships between slave-owner-friends-family. All the shades of gray as well as what is inherently right and wrong in these situations are explored as well as how each individual character felt and reacted. I found it to be thought provoking and emotional, yet altogether satisfying. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys southern historical fiction.

Rating 4: I loved it and highly recommend it

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Review: XVI by Julia Karr

February 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

  XVI

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 486 KB
  • Publisher: Speak (January 6, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00475AYE6

 

Goodreads Synopsis:Nina Oberon’s life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she’ll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a “sex-teen” is Nina’s worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina’s mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother’s killer.

 

XVI is a futuristic/dystopian young adult debut by Julia Karr that introduces us to Nina Oberon and her world of media brainwashing and strange government control over society. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy XVI as much as I had anticipated. While I did enjoy the steady pacing and writing style, I thought that there wasn’t enough plot to carry the story. I would compare reading this novel to going to an amusement park and riding only the carousel. Its an enjoyable enough ride, relaxing and nice, but while you can just see the roller-coaster over the hill, you never quite make it there. Instead continuing at the same slow steady pace to the end, no ups, downs, twists or surprises.

Nina Oberon’s world almost seems like a pretty scary place with the government listening and watching everything you do, media flashing advertisements convincing you of who you want to aspire to be, and the underground resistance fighting against the status quo. But in XVI, we only get a small glimpse at all that’s going on, we never get to see the inner workings of either side and so I was left without a very clear understanding about the world. I felt the same about Nina’s friends and family, that the author just barely scratched the surface of who they were and I really couldn’t relate to any of the characters, plot, or world enough to be completely invested in the story.

I liked that the author tackled some serious issues such as teen self image and sexuality as it is influenced by the media. However, once again, I wish there would have been more to it than it just being mentioned throughout the book. There were too many things left unexplained, unexplored, and undeveloped for me to have enjoyed this. It felt too safe for the subject matter.

So, XVI by Julia Karr was simply not for me. It might, however, be just what you’re looking for! Check out Dija’s 5 star review of XVI at BlackFingernailedReviews for another opinion.

Rated- 2 not for me

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Congrats Follower Love Giveaway Winners!!

February 14, 2011 § 4 Comments

 

Thanks Inspired Kathy from I’m a Reader Not a Writer for hosting yet another amazing giveaway hop. I was excited to have over 300 of my wonderful followers enter my giveaway and I appreciate everyone who stopped by, entered, or participated in this hop.

I used Random.org to select the two winners and have already contacted them and confirmed. The winners were

Prize Pack 1:

Jules @ OneBookShy

 

Prize Pack 2:

Kristi @ TheBookFaery

 

Congrats to both of you and happy reading! Be sure to stop back again soon for more giveaways and reviews!!

Review- Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

February 13, 2011 § 3 Comments

Hunger

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 192 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0547341245
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Original edition (October 18, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0045Y24E2

Suicidal and anorexic teen Lisabeth Lewis’ life changes drastically when a strange delivery man comes to her door and hands her a package containing a set of scales and proclaiming “Thou art Famine” Lisa learns that, as Famine, she has an innate understanding about food and hunger that has little to do with why she’s been starving herself. As one of the mythical four horsemen, Famine’s steed, which Lisa christens Midnight, accompanies her on several adventures into lands that have felt the touch of Famine. Lisa learns about hunger, herself and meets her fellow horsemen along the way.

Hunger was a fascinating young adult fantasy that strongly reminded me of Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series, which I loved. A lot of the subject matter discussed was a bit shocking and disturbing but ultimately very realistic. I truly enjoyed the very candid way they author tackled issues like anorexia, bulimia, as well as world hunger. But this wasn’t simply a book trying to make a statement about the issue of eating disorders, this was a very entertaining read with a well developed plot and a very unique story.  Once I read a couple paragraphs of the first chapter, I was hooked, and I never once lost interest.
 
The characterization in Hunger was great. Death was mysterious and intriguing, he seemed to be the leader of the Four Horsemen and there was just enough of him in the book to make me really want to read more about him as the series continues. I hope he gets his own book in the series eventually. The horses themselves were entertaining and seemed to have their own individual personality. Lisa was both a character that I pitied as well as cheered on.  The gradual changes Lisa made throughout the book showed her growth in a way that was believable. I would highly recommend Hunger to anyone looking to read something unusual and outside the norm in young adult fantasy.

Rating 4- loved it and look forward to continuing the series

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Follower Love Giveaway Hop, 2 Winners

February 8, 2011 § 12 Comments

I’m so happy to be participating in another one of Inspired Kathy from I’m A Reader Not A Writer’s fabulous giveaway hops. Since this one is all about showing some love, I’m going to give my followers the opportunity to win a few of the books I’m loving at the moment.

First prize package includes:

1. Most appropriately for the season, a hardcover copy of Love Kills: My Bloody Valentine. Featuring 20 pulse-pounding short stories, including Mark Souza’s “Cupid’s Maze,” Love Kills: My Bloody Valentine celebrates the sinister side of romance.

2. Wench by Dolen Perkins Valdez


3. Choice of book in the  Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa


PRIZE PACK 1
51121349

Second Prize pack includes:

1. Most appropriately for the season, a trade paperback copy of Love Kills: My Bloody Valentine. Featuring 20 pulse-pounding short stories, including Mark Souza’s “Cupid’s Maze,” Love Kills: My Bloody Valentine celebrates the sinister side of romance.

2. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak


3. XVI by Julia Karr


PRIZE PACK 2
51121349

How to enter:

Since this is a follower love giveaway, you must be a follower for this one. Fill out the form, extra entries for being an email or RSS subscriber.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by to enter!!

Review: Haven

February 3, 2011 § 3 Comments

HavenHaven by Kristi Cook

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked Kristi Cook’s debut novel Haven. Haven seemed to be a combination of a lot of elements that I really liked from other books. The MC Violet has a gift, although it doesn’t seem like much of a gift to her since she has absolutely no control over how it affects her and while she just wants to fit in, her “gift” continues to make her stand out and not in a good way. When her step-mother decides to move to NY, Violet thinks that maybe things could be different. She feels drawn to Winterhaven, a private school, where she hopes she can finally find a place for herself. Turns out that Winterhaven is hiding some secrets as well, such as, all of the students there are “gifted” in one way or another, and some of the students just may not be what they seem at all. While Winterhaven’s classes are just normal acadamia and don’t really address the student’s special abilities, Violet has a tutor that trys to help her gain some control over her gift, or at least learn how to utilize it more effectively. In the mean time, Violet is thrilled to find herself part of a lively group of girls and even drawing the attention of the most mysterious boy at school. Just as Violet thinks that she’s finally found all that she’s been hoping for, things seem to veer far off course and she finds herself part of some prophetic paranormal showdown and nothing is what she thought it was.

I really enjoyed reading about the school. Winterhaven and the students were what fascinated me most about Haven. The different gifts and the ways in which they were used was really well thought out and intriguing. I thought that the characters were likable enough but could have had a bit more depth. I was a bit disappointed about Violet’s love interest Aiden, but that is only because I didn’t expect Haven to go in that direction and that wasn’t really the kind of book I wanted to read. There was, of course, the immediate obsessive attraction, boy sees girl, boy can’t stay away even though he tries to for her own sake. Those were the few eye-rolling elements for me. However, the plot was entertaining and kept me involved in the story.

While I would not describe Haven as a fast-paced page turner, it moved along at a steady enough pace to prevent me from wanting to put the book down. I liked the characters but wanted to understand them a little more. The plot was interesting if not entirely original, there were some unusual twists here and there. Overall, I think this was a solid debut novel from Kristi Cook and I look forward to reading more from this author.

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