Saturday, February 25, 2017

*Review* Kindred by Octavia Butler

Genre: Science Fiction
Published: June 1, 1979
Pages: 287


The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.


“I closed my eyes and saw the children playing their game again. 'The ease seemed so frightening.' I said. 'Now I see why.'
'The ease. Us, the children ... I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Kindred

I grabbed this book and the audio version from Amazon when it was on sale last month, getting both of them for less than $5. Plus, it came highly recommended from an author I follow, Harper Miller.

Because I am who I am as a person, I absolutely grabbed this book without even reading the synopsis. I knew it had to do with the 1800s, based on the cover photo, and I did catch a glimpse of the words “science fiction”… but I really didn’t give it much thought.

When I started it I was surprised to find the main character was in the 70s… and then out of no where – BAM – time travel to the 1800s. I’m going to have to say that going into this book almost entirely blind made it that much more interesting to me.

I really enjoyed how the author used time travel as a way to show slavery more openly. Many people can think back and say, “If I was a slave I’d have done [insert random things]”. But she was there. She knew how it worked. And yet she couldn’t do much to change things. I think that helped make this story feel so much more realistic.

There’s a lot of questions I had after finishing the book, and I was a bit frustrated when it ended. Although I do have to say that I was quite intrigued by it and I am interested in reading more books by this author.

4 Platypires - Joood-Hooligan

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About the Author

Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.

*Review* Between by Mary Ting

Genre: YA Paranormal
Published: January 9, 2012
Pages: 349


Evil is lurking in the shadows. 

As the alkins head back to Crossroads, Claudia leads her normal life, but not for long. Having a special soul, she attracts danger. The Twelve, known as Divine Elders on Earth, are very much involved when thy find put evil is lurking in the shadows and Claudia is no longer safe. Claudia learns about the venators - demon hunters - on Earth.

When two opposing angelic forces come together to protect Claudia, trust becomes a big issue. Will love be enough to keep Claudia and Michael together? Who will make the ultimate sacrifice? Who will betray them all?


I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

This book got off to a violent and exciting start that had me rather worried for Claudia's welfare. I actually thought that it was a prologue that would then jump back in time in the first chapter to lead up to the events in the prologue (that makes sense right?) for a bit, which also would have been cool. That's not actually what was going on, but it could have been.

This book kind of annoyed me because it made me want something that I knew I wouldn't get simply because I read this series out of order. I don't recommend doing that by the way. It was really frustrating for me wanting something to happen so badly, knowing it never would. That alone is reason to not read this series out of order if you ask me. At the very least you can hope without having your dreams already denied. Or you might not have the same hope I had to begin with, just depending on how you feel about certain characters. 

Now, because I'd read this series out of order and I already knew the outcome of the conflict, I didn't feel nearly as much anxiety and was never really on the edge of my seat while reading, which made the story feel a bit dull. (Another reason to read the series in order!) I still wanted to see the little details of how things played out, but I didn't feel compelled to keep reading to see what would happen over all. 

Overall I give Between 4 out of 5 stars because it was enjoyable and most of my issues with it were because I read the series out of order, and that's not the books fault. - Katie 

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About the Author

International Bestselling Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

Ways to keep in touch with the author:

Newsletter Updates:

Twitter: @maryting

*Stacking the Shelves* 25 February 2017

(Titles link to Amazon via Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is a feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Now, I already have a monthly post I do featuring the books I get in the mail (and it's a lot because I have a serious Goodreads First Reads giveaway addiction), and I'm going to try to start posting my monthly Read-A-Thon posts again too (even if none of the Platypires will be joining me), which will cover the books I receive through Netgalley. But I also go to my thrift store at least once a week, and often leave with a bag full of books. It's such a common occurrence that I'm known as The Book Lady to the frequent volunteers (and I suspect that they've started scheduling their $1 bag of books sales for Thursdays simply because that is the day I usually visit.) So my Stacking the Shelves posts are going to focus on my thrift store hauls, because this is my blog and I do what I want. 

On that note, here are the books I picked up this week.

Deadly Heat by Richard Castle - My husband and I really enjoy watching Castle, so reading the books based on the show just seems like a good idea. 
Naked Heat by Richard Castle - Same as above. 
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews - I think basically everyone needs a copy of Flowers in the Attic, right? 
Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss - I've kind of wanted a copy of this book for a while, so finding it at the thrift store was a nice surprise. 
The Tattooed Girl by Joyce Carol Oates - I have this idea in my head that Ms. Oates is one of those must read authors, but I may be mixing her up in my head with James Joyce. 
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb - I know some people have a negative reaction to books that Oprah has chosen for her book club, but I like to buy them when I find them, at least at the thrift store. 
The Shadows: The Books of Elsewhere Vol. 1 by Jacqueline West - The cover makes me think of Coraline, it's probably nothing like Coraline, but it looks interesting nonetheless. 
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I really loved this book when my book club read it, so I kind of wanted to have a second copy because I will likely re-read it at some point. And this copy is in pristine condition. 
Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern - I really like the cover of this book...also it has hearts on it...I notice that detail now. 
The Amazing Voyage by Geronimo Stilton - Books didn't look this fun when I was a kid. 
The Journey by Kathryn Lasky - This is the second book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series...I don't know if I already owned it. 
The Rescue by Kathryn Lasky - This is book 3 in the series. Again, I don't know if I already had it. 
Dark Day in the Deep Sea by Mary Pope Osborne - I'm pretty sure I didn't already have this Magic Tree House book. 
What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman - I just really like the cover of this book. 
13 Secrets by Michelle Harrison - So this is book 3 in a trilogy, but it looks super interesting, so I don't care. 
Charlotte and Emily Bronte: The Complete Novels by Charlotte and Emily Bronte - Jane Eyre was one of my favorite books when I was younger, and I've always meant to read Wuthering Heights. This was definitely worth the purchase. 
Middle Age by Joyce Carol Oates - I think this book might be part of the challenge that I'm doing with Platypire Bob. I'm probably wrong, but oh well. 
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk - I think I own basically every book that Chuck Palahniuk has written at this point. One day I'll read one of them. 
The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor - I feel like this book is on Bob's and my challenge list too. 
Africa in my Blood by Jane Goodall - It's possible I'll never read this (to be fair that's true of many of the books I've bought because there are so many of them), but it does have my intrigued. 
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman - I actually already own this book, but like The Night Circus, it's one I'm likely to return to (or at least strongly encourage my kids to read, necessitating an extra copy.)
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman - Again, I just needed an extra copy of this book. 

So that's all the books that I bought at the thrift store this week. And because I caught a bag of books sale, I got them all for a whopping $2. I'm such a big spender. - Katie 


*Review* #BeatTheBacklist - Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

Genre: Memoir
Published: January 1, 1900
Pages: 256


Booker T. Washington, the most recognized national leader, orator and educator, emerged from slavery in the deep south, to work for the betterment of African Americans in the post Reconstruction period. 

"Up From Slavery" is an autobiography of Booker T. Washington's life and work, which has been the source of inspiration for all Americans. Washington reveals his inner most thoughts as he transitions from ex-slave to teacher and founder of one of the most important schools for African Americans in the south, The Tuskegee Industrial Institute. 

Booker T. Washington's words are profound. Washington includes the address he gave at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, which made him a national figure. He imparts `gems of wisdom' throughout the book, which are relevant to Americans who aspire to achieve great attainments in life. 

I listened to the audiobook version of this book. I would highly recommend not doing that. I found the narrator's voice to somehow seem both pompous and monotonous at the same time. There was very little in the way of inflection that didn't come off as braggadocios, and that made it seem like that was Booker T. Washington's tone as well, but that didn't match up with the message being conveyed most of the time. Basically the narrator's tone made me feel like Booker was just a braggart, and I don't think he meant to be.

Beyond the narrator's tone, I had other problems with this book (although those problems may have been exacerbated by the narrator's tone). I already said that I don't think Booker was trying to be a braggart, but he came off that way at times. He mentions a few times where he receives loans from white people he personally knows from their personal accounts because of their perception of his moral character, and it just embarrassed him that they had such faith in him (so humble bragging before it was cool.) These were loans for improvements to the school he was running in Tuskegee, so the money was clearly for a worthy cause, and I don't know why it came off so much as bragging to me. 

In addition to that, the book was a lot of "I did this...I did that...I went here" so just a whole lot of telling and not showing. I kept trying to remind myself that Booker T. Washington really did accomplish huge things for a person of his background at the time he lived, and that storytelling back in the late 1800s and early 1900s was different than it is today, but it still just didn't sit well with me. The monotonous tone of the narrator didn't help. 

This book did get me thinking about what it would take for a southern black man to get a memoir published so soon after slavery, and sadly, I think it would take a man who would say things like "Us slaves were better off at the end of slavery than our former masters" and "The KKK was a short lived blight on southern society that is no longer around today." (Those are paraphrased quotes because I listened to the book, so I do not have highlights to go back to for quoting purposes.) It would take a man willing to say that he had just as many opportunities to make something of himself as a white man even when his experiences show that that really wasn't actually the case. Although that also makes his achievements all the more remarkable. 

Overall I give Up From Slavery 3 out of 5 stars, and would highly recommend that everyone read it even though my own experience with the book was less than positive. It has great historical significance if nothing else, and I will probably return to re-read it at some point (actually reading it myself, not listening to the audiobook.) - Katie 

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About the Author

Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an African-American educator, author, orator, and advisor to Republican presidents. He was the dominant leader in the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915.

*Review* #BeatTheBacklist - Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Genre: Memoir
Published: November 15, 2016
Pages: 304


The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. 

Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. 

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.


I listened to the audiobook version of this book. It is narrated by the author, which I fully expected since Noah is a comedian and tv personality.

I will freely admit that I was most interested in this book because of Noah's position on The Daily Show. Without that, this book would have never made it on my radar. That being said, I'm glad that I got this book.

Hearing about Noah's life growing up in South Africa was fascinating, and I know more about apartheid now than I did before. It is a great book if for nothing else than the first hand account of life under apartheid, especially for a colored boy (that is the term used by Noah and the government of South Africa to describe people who are neither all black nor all white. I apologize if my use of it is offensive.) 

The part of Noah's story that seemed strangest to me is that someone who is my age (he's just two months younger than me) would be considered illegal at birth because his parents were different races. His mother could have gone to jail just for giving birth to him! I still can't fully wrap my mind around that, so I can't fully grasp what it was like growing up that way. I'm trying, but my mind feels stuck in a "There's no way that's real" place right now. 

There were a lot of times while listening where I felt like Noah's experiences growing up in South Africa somewhat mirrored the experiences of black people here in America, however it should be noted that I don't have personal experience being a black person in America so it's just what I understand to be their experience from things I've read. And I could be completely off-base there, but there were several times I found myself thinking things like "Oh, that sounds like that one article I read two weeks ago." 

This is a memoir where I don't feel like I necessarily know the author better on a personal level, but I did come away feeling a greater understanding of the experiences that shaped him overall. And it was a really intriguing book in general. I would definitely recommend it to others. 

5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Trevor Noah is a South African comedian, television and radio host and actor. He currently hosts The Daily Show, a late-night television talk show on Comedy Central.

Friday, February 24, 2017

*Movie Review* 50 Shades Darker

So I did it. Tonight I went to see 50 Shades Darker with a friend. There were supposed to be more than two of us, but everyone else got sick, I think. Now, I didn't go see the movie because I desperately wanted to see the movie. I would have been just fine waiting until it was available on DVD and renting it from the shoppette. But when my friend invited me to go with them to watch it, the invitation included dinner at a super amazing sushi restaurant beforehand, and I basically never get to eat good sushi because my husband does not like seafood, especially raw seafood. I would have agreed to go see a Barney the Dinosaur movie if it came with the promise of sushi beforehand.

So I was less than impressed by this movie. That's not surprising though. I don't really like either Dakota Johnson as Anastasia or Jamie Dornan as Christian, and I'm not a major 50 Shades fanatic to begin with. (Again, I was there because of sushi.) While watching the movie, I checked the time at least a half dozen times, just trying to figure out when it would be over already. It would have helped if I'd figured out how long the movie was supposed to last in the first place, but it's too late for that now. If it had been thirty minutes shorter, that would have been just fine by me. There were several scenes that would not have suffered much from a little trimming.

But the movie wasn't all bad. There were a few lines that had me cracking up, like Ana's line early on when Christian asks her to go to dinner with him where she says "Okay. But because I'm hungry." It was a great, well-delivered line. And it wasn't the only one, but I wasn't sitting there taking notes so I can't directly quote any of the others off the top of my head.

Another bonus for the movie, at least for the straight men in the audience, was that there was about 300% more boob-time than in the first movie. And there is not a doubt in my mind that decision was made in part to appeal to the men dragged along to the movie by their significant others. Also, almost every single time Christian and Ana have sex, Christian keeps his pants on. (He does however take his shirt off, a lot.)

Would I see this movie again? No, probably not. Unless by some strange twist of fate my husband wants to watch it after it comes out on DVD because of the extra boob-time (but that's not likely.) If you haven't seen it already because you're like me and interested but not THAT interested, you'll probably want to skip paying the outrageous ticket prices to see it in theaters and just wait to rent it on DVD. - Katie

Thursday, February 23, 2017

*Review* #BeatTheBacklist - Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Genre: Memoir
Published: November 15, 2016
Pages: 304


A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch PerfectUp in the AirTwilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).


I listened to the audiobook version of Scrappy Little Nobody, and I highly recommend it if you are an Anna Kendrick fan. The narrator sounds just like her (you know, because it is her.) I would not recommend listening to it around young children, however, unless you do so with headphones. Kendrick talks about many things you may not want to have to explain to your kids just yet, or ever really.

I've got to admit that I have not always been a Kendrick fan, in fact I was rather the opposite for a while when my only exposure to her was in Twilight. I did not like the character she played at all (in the books or the movies) and while I realize that not liking Kendrick because of her character in Twilight is absurd, it is what it is. And it's very possible that I would appreciate her portrayal of Jessica more now that I've read this book, so that's kind of a win I think.

As I listened to Scrappy Little Nobody, I came to the realization that Anna Kendrick is basically my spirit animal. I desperately want to be best friends with her, not because she's a celebrity, but because we seem to have a similar sense of humor and she appreciates Harry Potter (the movies at least). Also, she just seems like a really cool chick. At one point she describes various types of potential parties she has planned, and I legit want to attend all of them because they just sound like so much fun. I'm certainly left feeling like I really know Kendrick personally now, and I like her in all her glorious awkwardness, and I'm even going to give her another chance in Twilight.

I am quickly coming to the conclusion that celebrity memoirs are best listened to rather than read, as long as the celebrity is the one doing the narrating (and I have yet to encounter a celebrity memoir where that is not the case). I'm even coming to the conclusion that I really like listening to celebrity memoirs, and I used to think that I just hated audiobooks in general. But honestly, if you're going to read a book about a celebrity, you may as well have them read it to you. So I definitely recommend springing for the audiobook here.

Overall I give Scrappy Little Nobody 5 out of 5 stars because it was thoroughly entertaining. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Born and raised in Portland, Maine, Anna Kendrick made her Broadway debut at the age of twelve in her Tony-nominated performance for the musical High Society. Since her Academy Award–nominated role as Natalie Keener in Up in the Air, she has made numerous theatrical appearances, including starring roles in Into the Woods, the Twilight saga, and the Pitch Perfect film franchise. In 2013, she achieved musical success with the triple-platinum hit song “Cups (When I’m Gone),” featured in Pitch Perfect. She lives in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

*Book Movie Match-up* #BeatThe Backlist - Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

Book Published: September 13, 2012
Pages: 300
Genre: YA Fiction

Movie Premiered: July 27, 2016
Length: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, and Emily Meade



Vee doesn't know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an anonymous online game of dares. But whoever's behind the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her with lustworthy prizes and a sizzling-hot partner. With Ian on her team, it's easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another. At first it's thrilling as the Watchers cheer them on to more dangerous challenges. But suddenly the game turns deadly. Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare, or will they lose NERVE?


Big Brother meets The Hunger Games in Nerve by Jeanne Ryan.

I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review.

This book completely sucked me in. Like I was legit supposed to be proofreading a book, but I put it off for a day just so I could plow through Nerve. And I needed that. Reading was starting to feel way too much like a chore and this book renewed me. 

The story was intense and exciting, which is strange because the dares weren't really that dangerous, at least not at first. Like they are absolutely the kinds of things that I would agree to do when drinking and playing truth or dare with my friends. But I was so deep in Vee's head that her emotions were my emotions. It helped some that Vee is an introverted wallflower type, much like me. Still, I was just as nervous as Vee was about dumping a cup of water over my head in the middle of a coffee shop (yeah, that was really one of the dares.)

When Vee reached the finals, things got more intense and felt more dangerous. The addition of five more players contributed to the intensity greatly. There was much more animosity from the new players than we'd been exposed to up to that point, and the situation started to feel legitimately dangerous.

I was also totally shipping Vee and Ian for most of the story, although that made me feel a bit sorry for Tommy, but only for a minute. There are a few reasons why I don't feel too sorry for Tommy. The least of which is that I'm working on not expecting women to date guys just because they're nice to them, even fictional women.

Overall I give Nerve 5 out of 5 stars. 

Alright, so the movie is basically nothing like the book, like at all. About the only thing that is the same is that Vee is playing a game where she gets rewards for completing dares that she receives through her phone. That's where the similarities end. I'm serious. 

But the changes were not a bad thing overall. I mean a girl having to dump a cup of water over her head in a coffee shop would not really make for good cinematography, and it would inspire a lot less nervous energy in the audience because in the movie we're not so much in her head. I even actually liked how the movie made it easier for other characters to take part in the game prior to the finals. It added a fun element to the story.

So the movie was exciting, but in a different way than the book. The book was much more cerebral excitement. The movie was more action packed excitement, so much more visually appealing, you know, like you expect from a movie. As an adaptation, the movie gets an F, but it gets an A- on it's own merit. I thoroughly enjoyed it in spite of all the differences between the book and movie. I can actually recommend watching the movie even after reading the book, and that doesn't happen often. - Katie

About the Author

I’ve lived all over the world, raised in a family with eleven brothers and sisters. I spent my early childhood in Hawaii and the rest of my growing-up years trying to figure out a way to get back there, with stops in South Korea, Michigan and Germany along the way. Before writing fiction, I tried my hand at many things, including war game simulation and youth development research. But I decided it was much more fun to work on stories than statistics.

These days, I still love Hawaii, but have found my home under the moody skies of the Pacific Northwest.

Note, I post news on Twitter @Jeanne_Ryan and on my FB page:

You've Got Mail. Not.

Guess what! Once again IABB Confessions have given me something to talk about. As a reminder in case you are not aware, neither IABB nor the graphic artists who create the images for us are responsible for the contents of the confessions. They merely provide the platform for their airing. The confessions themselves are entirely anonymous. This just happens to be one that I took particular issue with, partially because I feel like it is directly targeting me (I don't think it was necessarily written about me specifically however.) 

I operate one of those websites where I clearly state that I will only reply to your email if I have chosen to review your book and the review is posted. I've even gone into detail with the reasons behind that decision. If you want to see them, simply click on the Review Policy tab above. But the fact of the matter is that I have been very straightforward letting anyone who chooses to send me an email know not to expect a response from me. I feel like I have done my part to be professional in the matter because that information is readily available. If you miss that information because you skipped over that part of the page to simply grab my email address to submit a request, well that's a you problem.

And I'm not prepared to set up an auto-response on my email at this time, because there are far too many people that ignore my guidelines and request to not receive blog tour sign ups and the like. I have no desire to have my email send an auto-response to promo companies that have failed to do their due diligence saying something along the lines of "Your request has been received and will be taken into consideration" because those people need a response more along the lines of "This email address is for review requests only. Please remove it from your promotional mailing list." When did it become okay for promo companies to send unsolicited emails for promotion? (It didn't, that's called spam, but it still happens all the time.) So you will get no auto-response from me because some people are dumb and I refuse to encourage them.

Now I get a lot fewer emails than most bloggers (probably partially because I refuse to send replies to review requests, but mostly because I don't get the daily requests for release blitz sign ups from a dozen or more promo companies. Seriously, those things will get your inbox out of control in next to no time. I scrapped the email address I originally used for this blog because it was easier to just get a new email address when we decided to no longer sign up for blog tours and stuff.) I probably could take the time to send a personal message to every person who sends a review request to me. But I check my email on my phone or iPad, and typing anything on a mobile device takes me at least twice as long as typing on a computer does. Also, I just don't want to. That is not something I want to spend my time doing, and that is my decision to make.

Which brings us to the "okay not to be professional" aspect of the confession. You wanna know why I feel like it's okay to not be professional where emails are concerned? Because this is not my job. This does not pay my bills. Blogging does not put food on my table or clothes on my back. This is a hobby. This is something I do in my free time (or that I make time to do because I enjoy doing it.) For most bloggers, blogging is just that, a hobby.

This is the point where authors argue that we bloggers need you. I've discussed this topic before, but I'll briefly do it again here. The relationship between author and blogger is an unequal relationship that favors the blogger. The fact of the matter is that we bloggers don't need individual authors nearly as much as indie authors need us bloggers. As bloggers, we just need there to be authors, and traditional publishing guarantees that there always will be (not that I think indies are going anywhere any time soon, and I wouldn't want them to. But authors will always exist.) For instance, I won 412 books through Goodreads First Reads giveaways last year alone. I read between 120-150 books a year. I'll let you do the math. So far this year I've won 46 books on Goodreads, and I've only read 14 books for the year so far. As you can see, I could read entirely for free without even being a blogger. So as shitty as it sounds, I don't need you. I would be sad if you stopped writing, because indie authors produce some very entertaining books, but I don't need your free review copies to continue blogging. I can do that without you.

So to this confessor, I see what you're saying. I get that it may be frustrating for you. But all of the above is exactly why I personally feel no shame at all for not responding to emails as a blogger. After all, this is my blog and I do what I want. - Katie 

*Book Movie Match-up* #BeatTheBacklist - The Martian by Andy Weir

Book Published: February 11, 2014
Pages: 385
Genre: Science Fiction

Movie Premiered: October 2, 2015
Length: 2 hour, 24 minutes
Starring: Matt Damon


A mission to Mars.
A freak accident.
One man's struggle to survive.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.
But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.
I listened to the audiobook version of this book. I felt like the narrator did a decent job with the voices. I don't remember cringing at the female voices, feeling like they were caricatures, and the accent for Vogel, who is German, is consistent with my experience of speaking to Germans living in Germany. Granted most of the narration was for a single character, the focus was on Watney after all, but it was still always clear who was speaking when it wasn't Watney. And he had a great wry tone for Watney's humor.

The story got off to a slow start for me, although some of that may be because I listened to the audio rather than reading. Endless descriptions aren't quite as interesting to listen to as dialogue and action, and there wasn't much action to start. But about a third of the way into the story, things started to pick up and get interesting.

I thought that overall this story was hilarious. The way Watney approaches issues made this fun to listen to. I mean there is talk about space pirates for crying out loud. And Watney isn't the only one in the crew who's got jokes, although some of the humor from the rest of the crew could be response to Watney's jokes. Although it may also just be a personality trait NASA looks for in astronauts. 

There was also a fair amount of suspense in the story. There were several times where it seemed all was surely lost. Obviously it wasn't for some of them. Those times had me on the edge of my seat wondering how Mark would get himself out of that scrape. 

5 out of 5 stars.

I think I may have set this movie up for failure by listening to the audio as opposed to reading myself. I mean, I knew the voices would be different in the movie, but I wasn't prepared for Vogel to basically have no accent at all. And that probably wouldn't have stood out to me nearly as much if I'd read the book myself. This was a much bigger problem for me while watching that it really should have been. 

So the movie changed a lot of things, but most of the changes made a certain amount of sense, up until the end at least. At the end they removed book suspense to replace it with slightly different suspense a little later on, and that change just made no sense to me. There was also an exchange between Watney and Lewis that was altered to be about 75% less funny in the movie, that since I had just finished listening to the book earlier that day, really stood out to me as a major disappointment. But aside from those two things, the changes really did make sense, and I didn't mind them much (although I obviously still pointed them out, because duh.) 

All in all, I would say that this was a decent adaptation of the book, although I would recommend not watching it immediately after finishing the book so that exact conversations have a chance to get a bit muddled in your head (you'll probably be less irritated that way.) This movie gets a B+. - Katie 

About the Author

ANDY WEIR was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

*Review* Her Dark Past by Alexandrea Weis

Genre: Erotic Romance
Published: January 23, 2017
Pages: 326


Brynn Adler is a writer with a unique ability—everywhere she goes, images of the past haunt her. 

After taking over the estate of her murdered ex-husband, Nathan Cole, Brynn is at the center of a mystery. A mystery the ruthless members of the Corde Noire Society want solved. Sent to discover Brynn’s secret, Declan Corinth plans to arouse her former submissive ways. There’s just one problem … he knows nothing about being a Dom. If Declan doesn’t get what the Corde Noire requires, Brynn Adler could become its next victim. Can he win her trust in time? The clock is ticking. 

To uncover the past, embrace the darkness.


I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

When I started reading this book, I thought I knew how it was going to end. Honestly, I thought I knew how this book was going to end when I finished reading the previous book in the series. I was wrong. I was so very wrong. Now that's not a bad thing, the book just went in a different direction than I had been imagining it taking for all the months between books. I definitely liked the actual ending, and it was very satisfying for the story, and even makes more sense because of information that is revealed throughout the course of the story. But in spite of me being wrong about the direction this book would take, it was still the book in this series that I most needed. 

This book was almost like a classic romance novel, where it's obvious the two main characters are supposed to be together, but they just don't see it because they're both so freakin' busy pretending to be something that they're not. You just want to grab them and yell at them to force them to see it too, but you can't because that's undignified, and they don't actually exist. It made me feel reminiscent of the romance novels I read back in middle school though, and that was nice. 

Overall I give Her Dark Past 5 out of 5 stars because it was thoroughly engrossing. - Katie 

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About the Author

Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Having been brought up in the motion picture industry, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans. 
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*Review* The Blessed Knights by Mary Ting

Genre: YA Paranormal
Published: October 28, 2016
Pages: 234


***Silver Medal Winner for Readers' Favorite International Book Award for Young Adult-Fantasy*** 2016

Above a small hill lay a home.
And green men peer out under the dome.
Thirteen crisscrossing arches behold,
with angels singing must be told.
Cubes like teeth thus showed,
pierce one and the door shall glow. 
Part the sea like Moses, 
to see the bundle of red roses.
Only then you shall see,
what is destined to be free.
But beware, if you are not the heir,
for damnation you shall declare, 
for the false burden you shall bare.

Eli, Lucia’s half-demon love interest, has been stabbed with a true-cross dagger and captured by Cyrus, master of the possessor demons. The Chosen Knights must work together once again not only to save Eli, but also to decipher a clue to find the second missing page of Jacques de Molay’s journal. Meanwhile, Uncle Davin informs Crossroads’ Divine Elders of the danger ahead and learns there is much to fear. Countless children are being taken from all over the world to be turned into demons. Michael has no choice but to intervene. The Chosen Knights track down Mortem, the demon who is the key to finding Cyrus, and learn they must travel deep into the pit of a Hawaiian volcano. When they astral travel to the past in search of a clue and follow Jacques de Molay to Rosselyn Chapel in medieval Scotland, what they find will rewrite history.


I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

I apologize in advance if this review seems a bit off the wall. You see, I read this book back in October, and while I largely remember the storyline, I have read a couple books from the Crossroads saga (for which this is a spin-off) since then, so my emotional experience is tainted somewhat. I promise to never make this mistake again. (I'm totally probably going to end up making this mistake again.) Moving on.

I really enjoyed returning to the mystery of the Knights Templar with Lucia's Blessed Knights. I did not particularly enjoy the rescue mission we had to go on to try and save Eli though. I really rather wish that rescue mission had not been necessary in the first place, although it was rather exciting and detailed at the time. I am also anxious to get to the next book in the story to see how the mystery will continue to play out. 

I also enjoyed the return of some old favorites from the Crossroads Saga. It was almost like spending a weekend white water rafting with friends from high school. The chance of dismemberment or death was definitely there, but it still felt relatively safe because of their presence.

While I wouldn't say that you HAVE to read the Crossroads Saga first, because this spin-off is definitely it's own story, I would recommend it because it lays the groundwork for the lives of Lucia and the other Alkins and the half-breeds that they meet in Hawaii. At the very least you'll have fewer questions about how that all works if you start with the Crossroads Saga. Just trust me on this. 

Overall I give The Blessed Knights 4 out of 5 stars because it was entertaining and exciting. - Katie 

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About the Author

International Bestselling Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.

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