Saturday, December 29, 2012

Last Kiss IN Venice

Last Kiss In Venice (Legend of the White Snake #1) Title:
Last Kiss in Venice

Author:
Martin Chu Shui

Series:
Legend of the White Snake

Book:
1

About the Book: (Goodreads)
Beside a bridge over a canal in Venice, Charlie is spellbound not only by Caitlin’s absolute beauty but also by what seems like a mythical bond between them. The more he knows about her, the more mysterious she becomes. As they finally admit their love to each other in Paris, then move to settle down in Australia together, it looks like the start of Happily Ever After. But neither of them realizes that this is just the start of a heart-wrenching journey.
After a lifetime of searching, Caitlin finally finds her true love, settles down in the beautiful rolling countryside of outback Australia, and starts to raise a family, but her enemy is never far away. She loves Charlie deeply and is certain he is her soul mate, but she knows she can never reveal her secret; he must never know who she really is, and that is her downfall. Information in the hands of her enemy brings her life crashing down around her. To save all she has worked for, she must fight for her love and the right to survive.
“Last Kiss in Venice” is a reinterpretation of one of China’s most famous love stories, ‘Legend of the White Snake’. It is a supernatural love epic that encompasses both eastern and western culture to tell a story of love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, revenge and justice. This cocktail of oriental magic, vampires, and sword fights is a legend not easily forgotten.

I'd Recommend to:
6-10th graders

My Rating:
4.3/5

My Thoughts:
One day over a thousand years ago, a white snake is saved by a handsome Chinese lad, and is promised that if in another life they are both human, he would marry her. Well, it seems to be that other life. Caitlin and Charlie are now married. James, a friend of Charlie, thinks that Caitlin has killed his wife and James is now out to get her, endangering her, Charlie, and their unborn baby. There is lots of back and forth between Australia and Europe and lots of battles between vampires, ICSC, and white snake monsters, but it all adds up to a suspenseful and interesting story.
One of my favorite things about books by Martin Chu Shui is that he always incorporates a lot of traditional Chinese culture and information. This book was no exception. Reading these books is a painless way to learn about Chinese myths and cultures. Great job, yet again, to the author.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Great Gatsby

Guest post brought to you by Tasha Haight.



October 16, 2012

The Impossibility of the American Dream in

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

            During their lifetime, most people strive to achieve the American Dream.  Each individual's idea of this dream is varied slightly, although most have a common ground where wealth, romance, and freedom is wanted. However, as one gets closer to achieving one's American Dream, more is desired.  F. Scott Fitzgerald shows this impossibility of the American Dream through Jay Gatsby's obsession with money and love in The Great Gatsby.

            Money is a major part of the American Dream. The famous saying "Money cannot buy happiness", is not entirely true, and some people would even say that money does buy happiness; "Attainment of the gold was to be attainment of the golden moment" (Stern).  Being economically independent is something that is viewed as part of the American Dream (Verderame).  The clever but not so astute, Jay Gatsby strongly believes that this money will bring him happiness.  He becomes wealthy and owns a lot of material possessions to try to emphasize that money (Verderame).  In order to obtain this wealth and rich status so that he may be accepted into the crowd he wants to be in, Gatsby has held several jobs from collecting oysters as James Gatz, to yachting, to being part of the drug business, then the oil business, and currently being a bootlegger.  Gatsby is so rich and benevolent that at his extravagant and frequent parties he can afford to supply two suppers to so many people that "the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone" is the cocktail table (Fitzgerald 42).  He is very happy that he has achieved this wealthy status and points out everything in his house, even his clothes, to Daisy Buchanan and Nick Carraway.  Gatsby knows that Daisy likes to associate more with a higher class, so in an attempt to win her over, he beguiles her about his riches.

            Romance and/or love is a classical part of the American Dream.  Romance leads to love, which leads to a husband/wife, which leads to a family and children, which leads to happiness, each of which is a part of the American Dream.  To have a romance, you must first need a boy and a girl.  Most people think of an American boy or girl to be down to Earth, blonde, popular as a child, and to grow up to be a successful adult. Gatsby is no different. He wants the romance and the love that he once had with Daisy Fay (now married as Daisy Buchanan).   The young Daisy was described by her best friend Jordan as being "by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville . . . all day long the telephone rang in her house and excited young officers . . . demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night" (Fitzgerald 74).  She is the image of a perfect American girl, and she is on Gatsby's "want" list.  He wants to recreate the past and have Daisy be his girl again, like they were in 1917 before Gatsby had to go to war.  He becomes so obsessed and engrossed in trying to make the past come alive again, that he collects newspaper and magazine clippings that mention her and moves across the bay from her to live close by.  When he looks outside he can see a green light coming from the end of her dock, he has moved so close to her to try to get her back.  He finally gets her to his house and "stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real" (Fitzgerald 91).  Even though he has achieved reconnecting with her, Gatsby will never be able to rekindle the love they once shared since Daisy now has a husband, Tom, and a daughter, Pam.  But Gatsby does not seem to care about any of those things standing in the way of his dream girl and of him reaching his version of the American Dream. 

            The American Dream, though held by most people, is very probably impossible to achieve.  Americans never get enough.  Once they have what they want, they simply want more and will never be satisfied.  That is simply human nature.  Fitzgerald seems to realize this by focusing on "possibilities but also its limitations" of the American Dream in The Great Gatsby (Verderame).  No matter how hard Gatsby got to having that American Dream or how close he got, he just could not do it.  He ends up dead, mistaken as a lover of Myrtle, a woman killed by a car Gatsby was in.  He is a victim, "Daisy's victim, and a victim of the elusive American Dream . . . a victim of the greed, apathy, and indifference that corrupts dreams, betrays promises, and destroys possibilities" (Emin Tunc).  Gatsby did gain the wealth he desired, though it was dirty money, but he did not get the girl of his dreams, and could not fulfill his American Dream.  Some might say he simply had held onto an dream of the past, one that was "elusive" and "outlived" and that he died trying to make that past dream possible (Emin Tunc). Whether the dream was too much of a past dream  or still a current dream for Gatsby is a matter of opinion, but he died before he could achieve it.

            There are three main parts to the classic American Dream.  Those parts are wealth, romance, and happiness.  Happiness  can be gained through the wealth and romance of the dream.  Jay Gatsby tries extremely hard to get these things and to achieve his own American Dream - being wealthy enough to win and keep the heart of Daisy - but cannot achieve it.  He becomes extremely close, but close only counts in horseshoes, not life.  The American Dream is nearly impossible to achieve and Gatsby "cannot go back in time and relive those lost years.  His dream comes to a bitter end" (Emin Tunc).  His life was full of great depravity because of this eclectic dream, and it, along with his need to emulate the past and his audacious attempts to win over Daisy, ultimately led to his demise.  Not capriciously, he dies wealthy, but alone and unhappy without Daisy.

           


 

Works Cited

Emin Tunc, Tanfer. “The Great Gatsby: The Tragedy of the American Dream on Long Island’s Gold Coast.” In Bloom, Harold, ed. The American Dream, Bloom’s Literary Themes. New York: Chelsea Publishing House, 2009. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. http://www.fofweb.com

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004.

Stern, Milton R. From The Golden Moment: The Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald: 170–173. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970. Quoted as “On the American Dream and Fitzgerald’s Romantic Excesses.” in Bloom, Harold, ed. The Great Gatsby, Bloom’s Guides. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2006. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. http://www.fofweb.com.

Verderame, Carla. “The American Dream in The Great Gatsby.” McClinton-Temple, Jennifer ed. Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2011. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. http://www.fofweb.com.

 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tony Viardo (Astor+Blue Editions) Guest Post

This guest post is brought to you by Tony Viardo!!

Astor +Blue Editions has put its entire first season's list of e-book titles on a holiday promotional sale 
for $0.99 or $1.99. http://astorandblue.com/catalog/.  
The sale will continue through January 7, 2013.





Digital Publishing: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

So how many articles have we read about E-books and Digital Publishing this year? For anyone who generally follows the book world (rabid booklover, book-blogger, industry pro or casual reader), we’re literally inundated with the amazing numbers—“E-book sales up 125% (again) over the 175% they were up from last year’s 225% increase!”—and equally amazing technological announcements—“Next Fall, the new ZimWittyZoomDitty tablet not only updates your Facebook and Goodreads friends whenever you snort in disgust … it cooks dinner for you at the same time!”

This leads many to take at least casual stock of what’s going on/going to happen to the “Publishing World” as we know it.  And if your friends are like my friends (hardcore print book consumers), that stock is usually pretty morbid (sharp Greenwich Village angst not included): “Print books are doomed, so are brick-and-mortar stores.  Goodbye literary quality. Oh and some pajama-wearing techie living in a basement with a laptop is going to be the new Sulzburger; we’ll all have to bow down!”

If you (or that good friend of yours) fall into the mortified category, my take (for what it’s worth) may come as positive news:  E-books are not, and will not be, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas; in this case, the “Print World’s” bacon. Now, as the owner of a “Digital First” publishing house (Astor + Blue Editions, www.astorandblue.com) my opinions may easily be written off as self-serving and invalid.  But bear with me for a minute… these are fact-based observations and I might just make sense (Someone tell my mom and dad).

As someone who earns a living from publishing, I have to follow numbers and industry trends as closely as possible.  And while some see doom and gloom for Print, I see exciting developments for both Print and E-book formats.  What do the numbers show?  Digital book revenue is skyrocketing, print revenue is declining.  Natural conclusion?  E-books are killing print books. But not so fast.  Historically, Print revenue has always seemed to be declining (even before E-books were invented), but that doesn’t mean the book market is dying or shrinking.

We have to remember that in fact the book market is growing. Readership always grows because population always grows.  Every year, new readers enter the vast pool of the club that is “adult readership,” (despite Dancing with the Stars). And every year more readers are being born and theoretically being inspired by Ms. Crabtree’s elementary reading class.  **So why the decline?  Readership grows gradually, but the sheer number of books and book vendors grow exponentially, showing an investment loss almost every year. (Basic statistics: the widening universe makes it look like a shrinking pie when it isn’t).

So what does this mean?  If you look at the numbers (historically), revenue for print books may have declined, yes, but not more than “normal,” and not significantly more than it did when there were no E-books around. (This is arguable of course, but the long term numbers do not show a precipitous drop-off). The yearly revenue decline, if there is one, can just as easily be written off to economic conditions as to E-book competition.  Bottom line:  Any drop in print revenue that may be caused by E-books are not significantly sharp enough to declare that E-books are destroying print book sales.  (Hence no Grinch).

What may be happening, and what I believe is happening is that a whole new market for E-books is developing, while the print book market growth, like Publishing as a whole, is still growing at a historically gradual pace. (Boringly flat).  Come up with your pet anecdote here, but I believe that more new readers are entering the market (who otherwise wouldn’t have) because of E-readers; existing readers are consuming more books (both print and e-book) than they did before; and while it would seem that a certain print title is losing a sale whenever readers buy it in E-book format, this is offset, at least somewhat, by the fact that more print titles are being bought (that otherwise wouldn’t) because of the extra marketing buzz and added awareness produced by the E-book’s cyber presence.  All of it evens out in the end, and I believe, ultimately fosters growth industry-wide.

So take heart Print fans, E-books are not the dark villain you think they are.  And here, I should correct my earlier analogy—that E-books are not the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  They may actually be the Grinch…in as much as, at the end of the story, the pear-shaped green guy ended up not only giving all the presents back to the singing Who-villers, he created a flash mob and started a big party as well.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Grow Your Marriage Blog Tour Guest Post!

This guest post was brought to you by Jerry Cook!! 


We have been fed, clothed, and nurtured by our parents for 18 years, and for some of us, it’s much longer than that. It’s natural to feel a connection or a sense of dependency on our parents, even into our adulthood. While it’s a great idea to stay emotionally close to your parents, you do not want to get “so” close that it disrupts your marriage.
We may even feel close enough to ask our parents for advice.  It’s not wrong to ask a parent for advice---it’s actually a good thing, so long as your spouse is okay with it. If your parents or in-laws are offering advice where they should not, the biological child should be the first to say something to those parents. If the biological child will not, the son/daughter-in-law may need to or else the cycle will continue and likely intensify, and that spouse needs the support from their spouse when doing so. Chances are good your parents and in-laws will respect you, at least in the long run, but your language must clearly show you are standing up to them because you are standing up for your marriage. Here are some words you may want to use.
Mom and Dad, I love you very much. You have offered me great advice through the years, and one of those things is to love my spouse more than anyone else. I have found that person, and I need you to know that we will ask for your advice, but we feel you are trying to tell us what to do and it’s really causing a lot of stress on our marriage.
What do you think? Have you had any experience with this? What did you do/say?  Here are some responses from that question on Facebook.  (PS. “Like” my Facebook page and you may have some of your comments included in my upcoming posts!)
-I think having a couple learn to struggle and grow together is part of the bonding needed for a stable marriage.
- Unless you're broke, starving, and living on the streets, married kids should figure out how to make it on their own.
-It's absolutely important.  Couples need to learn to build their own foundation by becoming independent of their parents and deciding what's most important to their relationship.

For more help on creating boundaries in a way that strengthens your marriage, purchase your copy of "Grow Your Marriage by Leaps and Boundaries" today!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mark of The Princess - FREE for Christmas!

A gift to you, from B.C. Morin - the author of Mark of the Princess, the first book in The Kingdom Chronicles! Right now it's just free on December 25, so be sure to get it today and Merry Christmas!
Mark of the Princess (The Kingdom Chronicles)

Book Description (amazon)

 February 1, 2012
The feisty and determined faerie Princess Alannah is many things, but she never thought she would be the key to her people’s destruction.

Kidnapped for a power she does not yet possess, Alannah finds herself in the clutches of the most malevolent sorcerer of her time. Maligo. Alannah escapes her prison with help from the handsome and stalwart warrior faerie, Brennus.

Now she must cross mountains and forests fraught with rogue faeries, vicious Fae-hating trolls, dangerous shape-shifters, and more to reach the only ones that can help her control her incoming powers. The Elder Faeries.

With Brennus by her side, Alannah is determined to reach the Elder Faeries and save her people. Maligo is just as determined she never makes it that far.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Talented Giveaway! (Ebook copies - International!)


Sophie Davis and her publishers are willing to give away three (3) ebook copies (online or reading device versions) of Talented, the 1st book in the Talented Saga! This giveaway is open to all international and local people!

What to Win:
An E-Book Version of
Talented 

How to Win:
Follow PrincessReviews
Leave a Comment on this Post (WITH YOUR EMAIL SO WE KNOW HOW TO CONTACT YOU!!!)

Who Can Enter:
PrincessReviews Followers

Requirements to Enter:
Follow PrincessReviews

When To Enter:
Now until January 2nd, 2013

About the Book (GOODREADS):

Talented (Talented #1)

by 
4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·   rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  60 reviews
If you always knew what people were really thinking, would you consider it a gift or a curse?

Talia Lyons is Talented. Born after a nuclear spill, she is part of a new generation that possesses special abilities; Talia can read the minds of others and manipulate their thoughts. Whether Morphers, Light Manipulators or Telekinetics, the Talented are taught to control their abilities under the protective eye of the government- to use their Talents for good. But all Talia wants is revenge.

Talia joins the Hunters, an elite group of government operatives, hoping to one day kill Ian Crane - the man who ordered the execution of her parents. Ever since she witnessed their brutal deaths, Talia has spent her life honing her abilities, determined to settle the score. But she still has a lot to learn before she can ease the pain inside. Talia turns to a boy who can mimic her Talents, a boy who truly understands her inner turmoil. But even he can’t help Talia, when she’s forced to choose between saving herself and avenging the lives of her parents.

Talented is an action-packed adventure, about a group of teenagers who aren't afraid to embrace their fears and fight for what they believe in.
Talented (Talented Saga #1)


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Talented Giveaway! (Print copies - US Only)

Sophie Davis and her publishers are willing to give away two (2) print copies (actual books, not ebooks) of Talented, the 1st book in the Talented Saga! Unfortunately, these are only available to residents of the USA, for shipping purposes.

What to Win:
An Actual Book of
Talented 

How to Win:
Follow PrincessReviews
Leave a Comment on this Post (WITH YOUR EMAIL SO WE KNOW HOW TO CONTACT YOU!!!)

Who Can Enter:
United States Residents

Requirements to Enter:
Follow PrincessReviews
Have a USA Shipping Address

When To Enter:
Now until January 2nd, 2013

About the Book (GOODREADS):

Talented (Talented #1)

by 
4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·   rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  60 reviews
If you always knew what people were really thinking, would you consider it a gift or a curse?

Talia Lyons is Talented. Born after a nuclear spill, she is part of a new generation that possesses special abilities; Talia can read the minds of others and manipulate their thoughts. Whether Morphers, Light Manipulators or Telekinetics, the Talented are taught to control their abilities under the protective eye of the government- to use their Talents for good. But all Talia wants is revenge.

Talia joins the Hunters, an elite group of government operatives, hoping to one day kill Ian Crane - the man who ordered the execution of her parents. Ever since she witnessed their brutal deaths, Talia has spent her life honing her abilities, determined to settle the score. But she still has a lot to learn before she can ease the pain inside. Talia turns to a boy who can mimic her Talents, a boy who truly understands her inner turmoil. But even he can’t help Talia, when she’s forced to choose between saving herself and avenging the lives of her parents.

Talented is an action-packed adventure, about a group of teenagers who aren't afraid to embrace their fears and fight for what they believe in.
Talented (Talented Saga #1)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: Phantom Dreams


Phantom Dreams by T. K. Harris begins in the mind of a serial killer, then the FBI agent tracking him, and finally the woman who dreams about the killings.

Kathy Gilliam is a twenty-nine-year-old single, work-a-holic, with an ailing father. She lives alone and up until recently has nightmares she can't remember. However as the stress over her father's declining health and an important account looming at work begin to exhaust her, her nightmares become more frequent and more vivid.

At the urging of her primary physician Kathy seeks the help of a psychiatrist who advises her to keep a notebook beside her bed to write down the dreams. Several sketches later, Kathy realizes that the faces from her dreams match those of murder victims of the Coast-to-Coast killer that are splashed across the news. Feeling that she is losing her mind, she tries to ignore it. But Kathy eventually finds herself at the local police station telling her story. However, instead of being of help Kathy may find herself a suspect, or the next victim.

The novel has suspense and mystery to it, which many will enjoy. The description is full of many sights and scents. It takes place mostly in the spring in the Southeast (Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama) which I am familiar with so it feels realistic in that way for me.

Kathy and Agent Matthews' characters are just ok for me. However, the serial killer's mind is entertaining in that he is completely insane. His conversations with the "other" person in his head are shocking. What I found interesting is that the reader doesn't know which of the two is the "real" person and which is just the voice in the head until the end.

When I first started reading this, I thought it was a straight crime thriller. The beginning is quickly paced and brief. However, once we're introduced to Kathy the pace begins to slow. We learn about her day-to-day life, her past and worries and dreams. This goes on for several chapters and then we're thrust back into the serial killer's mind for a chapter. The next several chapters return to Kathy hanging out with her friend Margo or talking in detail about Kathy's job. A few chapters about Agent Matthews finding a body and his frustrations with the case follow this; and then we're back with Kathy for several more chapters.

The combination of the two stories (Kathy's normal world and the hectic and dark world of the serial killer and the agent tracking him) didn't work well for me. I felt like I was reading two different stories even when Kathy becomes involved with the investigation. It wasn't until almost 30% through that I realized that it was supposed to be Kathy's story.  However, I just couldn't shake the initial impression of crime thriller, so much so that the chapter after chapter of Kathy's everyday life felt out of place. I felt that it was sidetracking the real story of the serial killer. It would have worked better for me if Kathy had been introduced sooner.

As a writer, I would've like better transitions and a smoother fusing between the worlds. As a reader, it is overall an ok read. This is a mesh of a thriller, chick literature, and paranormal romance. There is suspense and mystery that's maybe stretched a tad too long by contrived situations, some predictability and stereotypes. Some of what Agent Matthews does didn't seem protocol but I'm only basing this on my years of watching Law and Order and not formal education about law enforcement. But it has a satisfying and dramatic ending. Although I would've liked a little more than I got regarding the reason for Kathy's dreams.

I was provided with a copy in exchange for an honest review

Rating 3.5/5

You can find out more at: http://www.tkharrisonline.com

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Man in the Box, FREE Today!


This is a great read. Pick up your copy today! Free Today through Wednesday, December 5th on Amazon Kindle
image
The Man in the Box by Andrew Toy
Work provided Robbie Lake the perfect escape from his family. But his life is turned upside down when he is unexpectedly fired. When he finds a new way of escape through a cardboard box, everything changes. The imaginary world of his childhood has evolved in his absence and is now more savage and hostile than even he could have dreamed. Robbie is drawn in by the excitement of his secret world, but will the cost of abandoning his family prove too high?
WHERE TO BUY
See my review here.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Book Review: More Than What I See


More Than What I See by Alisha Smith is about Grace Joy Smith, and she is constantly in trouble. She does not intentionally go out to do bad things, but she does make mistakes. Throughout the book, she is called to attention on mistakes by her parents, her principal and her aunt. But at church, Apostle has a message from God just for Grace about love and forgiveness.

My review as a reader: This is a quick read with a good message. Although this was only a snippet of Grace's everyday life, I could see how she felt like such a "horrible" person in the face of the frustrations of her authority figures. This being from Grace's point of view, she may have perceived that her mom or dad were angrier than they actually felt, which made Grace feel worse. Sometimes children do feel this way when they are corrected. The illustrations are clean pencil drawings which present Grace's and the other characters' facial expressions well.

My review as a writer: *possible spoiler* As Grace faces her many mistakes and then feels bad about it, she remembers a quote from the Apostle "I'm more than what I see." I feel like this gives away the point of the plot before the ending.

Overall, an ok read good for building self-love in children.

(Side note: I'm also still waiting on the audio download to become available through the code in the back of the book offered by Tate Publishing.)

Rating 3/5