#Review: Project Snow, by @lafemmecherita

Title: Project Snow
Author: Cherita Smith
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Snow White meets genetic engineering in this captivating blend of science fiction and fairy tale that will hook you from the very first line.

Like most engineered kids, Amara can’t wait to turn sixteen. Sixteen means confirmation of immunity to the aging infection that plagues mankind. And confirmation means freedom, leaving behind the quarantine of the Tower where she’s lived all her life for a new life in the city — no filtration veils required.

But the queen has other plans. The queen is dying and needs a new heart. Daughter or not, Amara’s will do. (description from Goodreads)

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I enjoy this short story from Cherita Smith. I’ve been trying to read more fairy tale retellings, so it was only natural that this one worked well with my current reading mood.

I’ll be honest that I’m not very familiar with the “original” Snow White story. But it’s safe to say that readers shouldn’t expect a Disney movie from this story. It’s a bit dark, like may tales are. I’m glad the author kept the not-so-happy element in there.

With this being a short story, an author must sacrifice extensive world building in order for there to be room for the characters and plot. I feel that to a point that’s the case with this story. Smith set this in a world unlike our own, after a major event that changed the way the world lives and even looks. While I wasn’t really lost reading this story, I do feel like it could have benefited from having some more world building take place. it was intriguing and I wanted more. Maybe there’s more the author plans on doing with this world and readers will get it when that comes out. I’d for sure enjoy that.

While the characters weren’t very fleshed out, I think it worked just fine in this one. I was actually a bit surprised to be content not getting so deep into each of the major characters.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. I wanted a little bit more from it. But as I mentioned, maybe there’s more in store for us. I’d be more than happy to read more.

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You can grab this story from:

Amazon | Kobo | B&N

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About the Author:

Hello, you! I’m Cherita, a Los Angeles native who writes speculative fiction of all kinds: dystopian, science fiction, paranormal & dark fantasy for teens and adults.

Dark, lush & haunting prose, with a dash of creepy-thriller and a sprinkle of fairytale-myth — that’s my writing jam. If that sounds like your jam too, you should give my stories a read.

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant past, I also did fundraising and online marketing for nonprofit organizations including a domestic violence shelter, the politically progressive Brave New Films, and Film Independent, the arts organization behind the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Spirit Awards. I did a lot of writing for all of them too, only none of it was speculative and it was (mostly) non-fiction.

Find out more:

#Review: Galatea, by @MillerMadeline

GalateaTitle: Galatea
Author: Madeline Miller
Rating: 5/5 stars

“In Ancient Greece, a skilled marble sculptor has been blessed by a goddess who has given his masterpiece – the most beautiful woman the town has ever seen – the gift of life. Now his wife, Galatea is expected to be obedience and humility personified, but it is not long before she learns to use her beauty as a form of manipulation. In a desperate bid by her obsessive husband to keep her under control, she is locked away under the constant supervision of doctors and nurses. But with a daughter to rescue, she is determined to break free, whatever the cost…

Pygmalion’s story has moved millions through the centuries, inspiring George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, and later the beloved musical My Fair Lady.  Ecco is proud to publish Orange Prize-winning author Madeline Miller’s E-book original short story Galatea which will appear in the forthcoming anthology xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths to be published in October. This retelling of the Pygmalion myth from the statue’s perspective is a tale that will make readers rethink how they relate to the great myths of our time.”(description from Goodreads)

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I’m not familiar with the mythology surrounding Galatea, but I am familiar with Madeline Miller’s writing. I knew from reading The Song of Achilles that Miller’s writing alone would be enough to make this story worth reading.

Because, as I said, I don’t know much about the myth that’s being re-imagined, I can’t comment too much on the liberties the author took. What I can comment on is that Miller’s writing drew me in from the beginning. It’s such a well-written and intriguing story to dive into. The narration by Galatea really made this what it is. We get information from her at just the right pace and the right time, letting the situation she’s living in unfold around us. She’s a woman carved from stone, and turned into a real woman. She’s a mother longing to see her daughter again. And a wife with a controlling and demanding husband…a husband who created her for his pleasure.

I won’t get into the plot more than that, or the different characters. I think I enjoyed going into this story not knowing that much.

Even though it was only a short story, it’s made me want to read more from Miller, the way I felt after reading The Song of Achilles last year. I’m hoping there’s more out there to discover, soon. There’s something enchanting about the reading experience.

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If you’d like to grab a copy of this novel, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. The Song of Achilles, her first novel, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York TimesBestseller. It has been translated into twenty-three languages including Dutch, Mandarin, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic and Greek. Madeline was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year, and her essays have appeared in a number of publications including the GuardianWall Street Journal, Lapham’s Quarterly and NPR.org. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes.

Find out more:

#Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by @gabriellezevin

The Storied Life of A.J. FikryTitle: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Rating: 5/5 stars

“On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island–from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving,The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.” (description from Goodreads)

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I wasn’t sure what I was going to get into when starting this book. A friend got me a copy of it after seeing that I’d read Silas Marner and said that I’d probably enjoy this one, too. I enjoyed Elliot’s classic novel, so there was no reason to not give The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry a chance from a recommendation like that.

Is this a modern day retelling of Silas Marner? Not exactly, and that’s what I think is one of the great things about Zevin’s book. There are shared elements to the basic character relationships, but it goes above and beyond them, creating a story all its own, with characters that worked their way into my heart and ideas about the books, as well as the book world, that many readers of all sorts can relate to.

Another thing I liked is that at the beginning of each chapter is a quick message from A.J. to Maya about a short story he wants her to read. Some I’ve read. Others I haven’t. I’ll be going back through to write them down and read myself. I’m always welcome to further reading while reading books. It’s just one of the ways to expand my reading list.

While a quick read, it tugs at various emotions, ideas about life, and opinions about books. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry won me over early on and toward the end I didn’t want to get to the last chapter, I wanted it to keep going. I can only hope that the next book by Zevin that I pick up will give me a similar feeling.

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You can grab a copy of this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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About the Author:

Gabrielle Zevin has published six novels. Her debut, Margarettown, was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program. The Hole We’re In was on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Every day newspaper articles chronicle families battered by the recession, circling the drain in unemployment and debt or scraping by with minimum-wage jobs. But no novel has truly captured that struggle until now.” Publishers Weekly called the novel “a Corrections for our recessionary times.”

Of all her books, she is probably best known for the young adult novel Elsewhere. Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, was nominated for a Quill Award and received the Borders Original Voices Award. The book has been translated into over twenty languages. Of Elsewhere, the New York Times Book Review wrote, “Every so often a book comes along with a premise so fresh and arresting it seems to exist in a category all its own… Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin, is such a book.”

She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart) for which she received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination. In 2009, she and director Hans Canosa adapted her novel Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (ALA Best Books for Young Adults) into the Japanese film, Dareka ga Watashi ni Kiss wo Shita. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. She began her writing career at age fourteen as a music critic for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Zevin is a graduate of Harvard University. After many years on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, she recently moved to Silver Lake, Los Angeles.

Find out more:

#NewRelease: The Island of Excess Love, @francescablock

The Island of Excess Love

Love in the Time of Global Warming #2

by Francesca Lia Block

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For those following my Goodreads account, you’ll know that back in April I read Love in the Time of Global Warming. Well, if you want to get technical, I listened to the audiobook. I didn’t end up reviewing it partly due to it having been an audio read and partly because I really loved the book but it was one of those that I felt I couldn’t do justice to with my words. It obviously ended up being a 5 star rating on Goodreads, but if you need more than stars…just see what I types a few seconds ago.

Today’s just as great of a day in the book world as yesterday was (Tiffany King’s new release day), as well as as great of a day as when I finished book one in Block’s series. It’s the day we can all run to the store (or web browser you’re already in) and grab a copy of The Island of Excess Love where we can continue on our journey with Pen through an Odyssey retelling in a recently post-apocalyptic world.

I can only see great things ahead within the pages of this new book, based on what I read with book one. I hope some of you dive in as well.

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The Island of Excess Love

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Pen has lost her parents. She’s lost her eye. But she has fought Kronen; she has won back her fragile friends and her beloved brother. Now Pen, Hex, Ash, Ez, and Venice are living in the pink house by the sea, getting by on hard work, companionship, and dreams. Until the day a foreboding ship appears in the harbor across from their home. As soon as the ship arrives, they all start having strange visions of destruction and violence. Trance-like, they head for the ship and their new battles begin.

This companion to Love in the Time of Global Warming follows Pen as she searches for love among the ruins, this time using Virgil’s epic Aeneidas her guide. A powerful and stunning book filled with Francesca Lia Block’s beautiful language and inspiring characters.

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You can grab yourself a copy of this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

If you still need a copy of Love in the Time of Global Warming you can find that on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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PSST…Francesca Lia Block has another new release coming up on September 16th. It’s a very different book than this one, but it’s also on my TBR because Block hasn’t disappointed me yet. You can find out about that one, and find the pre-order links, here:

Goodreads

Amazon | B&NiBooks

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About the Author:

Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales.
She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go Go Boots and a beagle mix named Thumper.

She left only to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She has often professed her love of Los Angeles, calling it a “Jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city,” which she has nicknamed in her books “Shangri-LA.”

Find out more:

(An Almost) #Review – The Song of Achilles, by @MillerMadeline

The Song of AchillesTitle: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Rating: 5/5 stars

“Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful— irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.” (description from Goodreads)

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There’s no way I can write a review for this book that the book deserves. From the very beginning I fell in love with Miller’s writing and the way she shaped the legendary characters from The Iliad into this novel. I could probably have rushed through this book in a day or two, but I found myself holding off reading in order to prolong my enjoyment. Normally I complain about how slow I read (even when enjoying a book), so making this one last longer was an interesting change of attitude. In the end, it didn’t disappoint. I just hope that Miller has something else in store for her readers. I’ll definitely come back for more

That’s basically my review. There’s not much more I can say to praise this book without babbling. I’m a big fan of Greek mythology, though I haven’t read much of it since high school and early college when I was reading Homer and some other authors/books dealing with the subject. It was great to revisit that world and see this author’s interpretation of Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship and the story of the Trojan War. If you’re a fan of mythology, or just a great novel filled with a romance, action, legend, this might be a book to check out. I just wish I had gotten a copy of this earlier. I now know that I was missing out for a few years.

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If you’d like to grab a copy of this novel, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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About the Author:

Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. The Song of Achilles, her first novel, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York TimesBestseller. It has been translated into twenty-three languages including Dutch, Mandarin, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic and Greek. Madeline was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year, and her essays have appeared in a number of publications including the GuardianWall Street Journal, Lapham’s Quarterly and NPR.org. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes.

Find out more:

2013 #Review Recap – Wuthering Nights, by @Heathcliffian

2013 Recap

2013 is winding down, but it’s not over just yet. Last week, I brought back reviews from some of my favorite books of 2012. Instead of just posting my favorite books of 2013 in one post in January (which I’ll do as well), I figured I’d fill up the rest of 2013 by recapping some of my favorite reviews from the year. There are ten days left, and that means out of the 260+ books and stories that I’ve read this year, you’ll get a preview of what my favorites list will look like.

First up in this series of 2013 recapped reviews is a review of a classic with an erotic twist. I.J. Miller has taken the classic novel Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, and explored the erotic side of its characters. While I may not be very well-versed in the classics, (I’m getting to them though, in time,) this book by Miller caught my interest. There might be some readers who don’t think a classic should be touched, and I have that feeling at times too, but in the end, I feel that Wuthering Nights turned out to be a great read. It’s also gotten me to throw Wuthering Heights  a bit higher on my towering TBR.

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Wuthering Nights

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Title: Wuthering Nights
Author: I.J. Miller (and Emily Brontë)
Rating: 4/5 Stars

“Romantics everywhere have been enthralled by Emily Bronte’s classic novel of the tragic love between beautiful, spirited Catherine Earnshaw and dark, brooding Heathcliff. The restrained desire between these two star-crossed lovers has always smoldered on the page. And now it ignites into an uncontrollable blaze.

In WUTHERING NIGHTS, writer I.J. Miller reimagines this timeless story to reveal the passion between Catherine and Heathcliff–in all its forbidden glory.

Set against the stark, raw beauty of the English moors, Heathcliff, an abandoned orphan, recognizes his soulmate in wild, impulsive Catherine, the only woman who can tame his self-destructive nature. And Catherine cannot deny the all-consuming desire she feels for him, despite his low birth. Together they engage in a fiery affair–one that will possess them, enslave them, and change their destinies forever…” (description from Goodreads)

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When I saw the title of this one, and that it was an erotic retelling of the classic novel, Wuthering Heights, my interest was grabbed. There are a number of authors who go about adding his or her own spin to stories from the literary canon. Wuthering Nights stuck out from many other similar titles out there.

What I found in this novel is that Miller made use of a well-written characters and a story line  but really made it a story of its own. From the start, I was drawn into the setting of the Heights and later on the Grange, as well as the beauty and dangers at the moors. I feel that the way the characters were written in with these settings made it all stick in my mind even better. For a reader like me, a reader who doesn’t read many historical novels due to the language style used, to enjoy the writing of this book, I think that is the icing on the top of this novel. Without the accessibility a more “modern” reader like me found in this novel coupled with writing more true to Brontë herself than Miller’s contemporaries, I may have been less interested through to the end than I was.

Another thing I enjoyed about Wuthering Nights is the way the erotic element was thrown in. It never once felt out-of-place. There were a lot of steamy moments between all of the characters. I liked that there was also a great deal of romance mixed in. This wasn’t a book that was to add “smut” to a classic. Miller worked descriptive sex scenes that only enhanced the emotions between the characters, as well as pushed much of the plot along in Miller’s own way, making this story the author’s own without following a straightforward blueprint set up by Brontë.

If you’re looking to relive a classic or to experience the Wuthering Heights story for the first time, or just looking for an enjoyable erotic novel that’s a little different than others out there, Wuthering Nights might be a novel to check out.

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You can grab a copy of Wuthering Nights from

Ebook:
Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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About the Author:

I have published five literary works of erotic fiction: the novels SEESAW and WHIPPED, the novella CLIMBING THE STAIRS, the short story collection SEX AND LOVE. I have been translated into German and Spanish. WUTHERING NIGHTS, an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS, is due out in January 29, 2013 as an e-book and April 23, 2013 as a trade paperback. Any erotic material is always there to enhance the story, develop the plot, reveal character. Keep smiling!

Find out more:

Review: Wuthering Nights, by I.J. Miller

Title: Wuthering Nights
Author: I.J. Miller (and Emily Brontë)
Rating: 4/5 Stars

“Romantics everywhere have been enthralled by Emily Bronte’s classic novel of the tragic love between beautiful, spirited Catherine Earnshaw and dark, brooding Heathcliff. The restrained desire between these two star-crossed lovers has always smoldered on the page. And now it ignites into an uncontrollable blaze.

In WUTHERING NIGHTS, writer I.J. Miller reimagines this timeless story to reveal the passion between Catherine and Heathcliff–in all its forbidden glory.

Set against the stark, raw beauty of the English moors, Heathcliff, an abandoned orphan, recognizes his soulmate in wild, impulsive Catherine, the only woman who can tame his self-destructive nature. And Catherine cannot deny the all-consuming desire she feels for him, despite his low birth. Together they engage in a fiery affair–one that will possess them, enslave them, and change their destinies forever…” (description from Goodreads)

When I saw the title of this one, and that it was an erotic retelling of the classic novel, Wuthering Heights, my interest was grabbed. There are a number of authors who go about adding his or her own spin to stories from the literary canon. Wuthering Nights stuck out from many other similar titles out there.

What I found in this novel is that Miller made use of a well-written characters and a story line  but really made it a story of its own. From the start, I was drawn into the setting of the Heights and later on the Grange, as well as the beauty and dangers at the moors. I feel that the way the characters were written in with these settings made it all stick in my mind even better. For a reader like me, a reader who doesn’t read many historical novels due to the language style used, to enjoy the writing of this book, I think that is the icing on the top of this novel. Without the accessibility a more “modern” reader like me found in this novel coupled with writing more true to Brontë herself than Miller’s contemporaries, I may have been less interested through to the end than I was.

Another thing I enjoyed about Wuthering Nights is the way the erotic element was thrown in. It never once felt out-of-place. There were a lot of steamy moments between all of the characters. I liked that there was also a great deal of romance mixed in. This wasn’t a book that was to add “smut” to a classic. Miller worked descriptive sex scenes that only enhanced the emotions between the characters, as well as pushed much of the plot along in Miller’s own way, making this story the author’s own without following a straightforward blueprint set up by Brontë.

If you’re looking to relive a classic or to experience the Wuthering Heights story for the first time, or just looking for an enjoyable erotic novel that’s a little different than others out there, Wuthering Nights might be a novel to check out.

You can grab a copy of Wuthering Nights from

Ebook:
Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Print (pre-order only. To be released April 23rd):
Amazon | B&N

About the Author

I have published five literary works of erotic fiction: the novels SEESAW and WHIPPED, the novella CLIMBING THE STAIRS, the short story collection SEX AND LOVE. I have been translated into German and Spanish. WUTHERING NIGHTS, an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS, is due out in January 29, 2013 as an e-book and April 23, 2013 as a trade paperback. Any erotic material is always there to enhance the story, develop the plot, reveal character. Keep smiling!

Find out more: