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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: What's wrong with me by Daree Allen


Title:What's Wrong with Me?
Author: Daree Allen
Publisher: Kharacter Distinction Books
Published:2.14.12

SUMMARY:
WHAT'S WRONG with you? Nothing!

Have you ever wondered, "What's wrong with me, is my butt too big, my hair not straight enough?" or "Will my BFF or boyfriend still like me if..."

Today's age of everything goes media messages and in your face sexuality has led to many teen girls grappling with self esteem and self worth. As a woman who lived through it and a mother with a teen daughter, I answer these questions and more, offering self empowering building blocks designed to strengthen your inner truths in the face of relationships with yourself, others, and God... so you can learn to love the skin your in, realize your dreams, and make a positive impact on the world.

REVIEW:
I know that us women don't like telling anyone our age, BUT I'm 28 years old and I wish I had read this book when I was 18. What's Wrong with Me is  a book that any young women can relate to. Its easy to read and even though the message behind everything written in this book hits very close to home, its done in a manner that even if you don't like people telling you the truth, you just can't put the book down. 
Daree Allen is a very talented writer and I hope that she continues to publish more books. A lot of the advice that was given in this book, is advice that I wish I would have gotten along time ago. Daree doesn't just "preach" to you about what to do or not to do, she's giving you advice based on personal experiences not only from her life, but also experiences from her close friends. I found myself underlining so many areas of the book, I even underlined an entire paragraph at the beginning of the book because I found it to be very important.
I also love that every chapter begins with a quote that has something to do with the specific topic that will be addressed in that chapter. I found that to be a bit refreshing as well as some what inspirational since right of the bat, she has you thinking. 

RATING:
I DO NOT read self help books. I dont. But there was something about this book that I felt like I should. Best choice I could have made. I enjoyed every part of this book and recommend it to every mom with a young girl, preteen, teen and anyone in between. I think it will definitely do them good.  5 of 5 stars!! 

Sarita 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Blood Island


Title: Blood Island
Author: H. Terrell Griffin
Series: Matt Royal Mystery
Publisher: 
 Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: 
 December 1, 2008
How Received: 
Reviewer: Ethan

Summary: Matt Royal never has to look far for excitement. Excitement-and sometimes trouble-has a way of finding him first. But for this fun-loving lawyer turned beach bum, things are about to get serious. Dead serious. When his ex-wife asks for help in tracking down her stepdaughter, last seen in Matt's hometown of Longboat Key, Matt agrees to do a little searching. But what looks like the case of one missing girl turns out to be something much bigger-and much more dangerous. Enlisting the aid of his buddies Jock Algren and Logan Hamilton, Matt launches a full-speed-ahead search that leads from Longboat Key to Key West to an ominous strip of land called Blood Island.But this is no island paradise. Blood Island is home base to a cult of religious zealots. And they're making devastating plans that could change the world forever. Bullets fly, and as the clock ticks down, it will be up to Matt to make sure that what happens on Blood Island stays on Blood Island.

Review: After reading Bitter Legacy, the fifth novel in the Matt Royal series by author H. Terrell Griffin, I knew I wanted to read the earlier books in the series. Blood Island, the third installment in the series, hits the ground running as Matt Royal, a former soldier and lawyer who has retired to Longboat Key, Florida, finds a body in a vulture cage at a local wildlife refuge. We learn that trouble seems to follow Matt, but fortunately, his friendship with the local police chief helps to assure the authorities that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Upon his return home, Matt is shocked to learn that his ex wife, Laura, has left a message to arrange a meeting with him. When they get together, Laura explains that her stepdaughter, Peggy, has been missing and was last seen on Longboat Key. Despite the divorce, Matt still loves Laura and agrees to help search for the missing girl. As he investigates the disappearance, he finds himself involved with murder, religious cults, prostitution, and terrorist attempts. All this, he learns, is linked to the mysterious Blood Island and the people who own it. When Laura also goes missing, Matt races to unravel the mystery before it is too late. 

Griffin clearly has a great love for Florida. The setting and the people who inhabit this story all carry a type of reality that can only be portrayed by someone who has experienced them. In the hands of any other author, this kind of fast paced thriller could become shallow, but Griffin infuses enough emotion, historical fact, and suspense to keep the reader thoroughly invested in the story. In a genre that is often filled with plot based story telling, it is nice to have a book that keeps a sense of truth while still providing entertainment. This novel is a quick read and a really fun mystery. 
Ethan

For more information check out the author's website http://www.hterrellgriffin.com/
the publisher's website http://oceanviewpub.com/ and

Guest Post: How To Resist… Hades


How To Resist… Hades
If you read Sirenz, then you know that Hades is hot, haute, and haunting. He wants to make a deal with you. Don’t fool yourself—it works solely to his benefit—and you’d best beware. Both Meg and Sharisse found out the hard way that wishing yourself out of trouble can only get you into more. Here are some rules and reminders that’ll help you from becoming a victim (even though you *might* be willing!).

  1. Just. Say. No. Really, for Hades, it’s all in the chase, and once the prey is captured, well, you get the idea. And know that even though he could make it seem that way, you’re not the only one who’s ever—or will ever—capture his attention. Shar is smart and always shows Hades the hand—even though it would be tempting to whisper yesssssssssss, which brings us to #2…
  2. Know when to nod. To avoid going to prison for life, maybe it is better to make a deal with Hades. For a luxury apartment, unlimited wealth, and super powers—you have to decide your price point. Remember, everything has a cost and a consequence.
  3. Play, but don’t get played. Meg’s not into games—the result? Getting into a battle of wits with the Lord of the Underworld—and we must say, Meg holds her own. Shar, on the other hand, chooses to dabble—you’ll see more of this in Sirenz Back In Fashion—where she must outwit Hades, or at least keep up. He’s wily, and charming, and mischievous; all attractive qualities, but when your soul is forfeit if you lose the game, better be careful! Don’t be quick to make promises—string him along.
  4. Smell the deception. Smoke and mirrors, tiny white lies, and what’s left unsaid… Fortunately, subtlety isn’t one of Hades’ best qualities—and you can use this to your advantage. The over-the-top temptations he throws at Shar gives her strength to resist. He tries to buy Meg with a concert treat… He knows what you want, and has the means to give it to you—but you know what HE wants, and he’s itching to have it. Don’t be dazzled by Greeks bearing gifts.
  5. Consider his family… Really, would you want his mother-in-law Demeter breathing down your neck for eternity? That’s if Persephone doesn’t find a way to turn you into dog treats for Cerberus. Hades’ in-laws are worse than any human’s, and let’s not even discuss the other gods. Consider that if you hook up with Hades, you hook up with the entire pantheon. And then…
  6. Consider yours (family). If Hades zips you around the world, drops everything you’ve ever dreamed of at your feet, and makes your mouth water because he is the epitome of hotness, ask yourself, “What would my mother say?” This will put out some of that fire—before you get burned!
  7. They call it the Underworld for a reason. Yes, it has its pleasures and wonders. (More on that in Sirenz Back In Fashion), but don’t be fooled. It’s not all ambrosial fields. Immortality can be wearying (just ask a vampire). It’s not all hell, but it ain’t heaven either!
  8. Must be a dog lover. A BIG dog lover—and we use the term loosely. Cerberus isn’t your average pup. Think slobber, kibble and, um, poop—x1000. Yeah. We think even the AKC might have a hard time with that one.
  9. A deal’s a deal. And Hades does insist on signing in blood, making your agreement totally legal and binding for all eternity. There is no way out.
  10. Buh-bye summer—and the rest of the year If the above items aren’t reason enough to resist, remember that you’ll be missing Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and every BBQ and beach party during the summer when you’re entertaining Hades. And then you’ll miss Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, Boxing Day and everything in between when he tucks you someplace safe to keep you out of Persephone’s reach.

Keep this checklist handy for quick reference. When Hades saunters by, all hot and delicious and bad-boyish, you can (and should) say, “Thanks for the offer, but No!”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Clarity

Title: Clarity
Author: Kim Harrington
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
How Received: Review

Challenge: TBR
Reviewer: Kati

Summary: Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.

And a curse.
When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?


Review: I'm very excited that I was finally able to read Clarity. The book was more then I expected. I loved it, I even found myself laughing at some parts. I cannot wait to read book 2. Many great things will come from this author and I cant wait to read them all.

IMM

I only got one book.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Confessions of a Color-Blind House Painter by Selwyn Mills Ph.D


Title: Confessions of A Color-Blind House Painter
Author: Selwyn Mills Ph.D
Series:---
Publisher: Create Space
Publcation Date: November 19, 2011
How Received: For Review
Rate: 4

Summary (as quoted from Amazon): “Confessions of a Color-Blind House Painter," a collection of autobiographical writings by Selwyn Mills, offers an account of the author’s life as well as his ruminations on painting, psychotherapy, friendship, romantic love, poetry, prison, philosophy, relationships and cats, among other topics. Mills split his professional life between two concurrent careers – he worked as a decorative painter in the mornings and led psychotherapy sessions in the afternoon. Although these types of work might appear quite different, Mills describes how each profession deals with depression and renewal. He offers an eclectic collection of musings on various topics, each one weaving personal narrative with opinion and insight. “Confessions of a Color-Blind House Painter” reveals a portrait of a life made up of equal portions of intellectual, creative and emotional elements. Written in a roving style quite different from a straightforward autobiographical account, the book is intended to entertain and engage readers with a broad range of interests.

My thoughts:
Confessions of A Color-Blind House Painter was a very interesting read. Full of different poems, articles, and general musings, the book holds many keen observations on human nature. Out of the many different topics, three in particular caught my eye. One was the discussion of left brain/right brain differences (for example, the left brain is rational and the right brain is irrational). A lot of artists and craftsman discuss how they are left/right brained, and how it affects their profession. Mills Ph.D take on the subject was unique and insightful - especially the whole “neat/sloppy” concept - the idea that people who have neat/sloppy behavior are leaning either toward the left hemisphere or the right hemisphere of the brain- which I had never heard of before. The other subject that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about is a part entitled “Love Addiction”. It is about a conversation Mills Ph.D (as a psychiatrist) had with one of his patients who was having an affair. He breaks down how people, even if they are in a happy relationship, seek a love that they can control - a tamed love- so to speak - and how a love addiction is just as bad as any other addiction in the way that it can destroy your life. I also liked the part where Mills Ph.D discusses in detail color blindness, and explains that he has red/green perception, meaning that he can see a lot of colors, but that colors close to green and red are difficult for him to perceive. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was how many quotes there were. I’m sure that for people who like quotes, they would love those parts, but for me, it disrupted the flow of the writing and sometimes made it hard for me to follow the thread of the topic I was reading about. Other than that, I really enjoyed Confessions of A Color-Blind House Painter, and I recommend it to anyone seeking an interesting, insightful read.
4/5
~Moujnir

Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Blue Sky Days


Title: Blue Sky Days
Author: Marie Landry
Publisher: Marie Landry
Format: Ebook
Release date: 1.17.12

SUMMARY: 
A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother - studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing - and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn't have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn't know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn't helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it's time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she's stepped back in time.

When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes - he's unlike anyone she's ever met before, the kind of man she didn't even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don't always need a plan - sometimes life steers you where you're meant to be.

Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it's time for her to help Nicholas the way he's helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through.

REVIEW:
Blue Sky Days. What can I say? I'm not lying when I tell you that I'll read just about any genre of books, but my favorite is paranormal. You might be asking yourself why I'm telling you that, and the answer is very simple. It's because after reading this book, I might have to change that to romance. :)  Blue Sky Days is a beautifully written love story that flows with such fluidity that you'll find yourself "flipping" (it's an ebook) through pages with such ease that you won't want to put it down. Marie Landry did an amazing job not only with with putting the book together, but also with creating her characters. Each and everyone of them are people who are easy to relate to. Oh, and I must say, I loved the way Marie was able to tie in the title of the book into the book itself. Genius!

Emma Ward gets good grades, has never had a boyfriend, no friends, no social life, she does all her homework and doesn't get into any trouble. But after all the hard work she's done, she realized that she doesn't know what she wants to do as far as college is concerned. She realizes that no matter what she does, her mother will never show her any type of appreciation and now she feels like she needs to get away and find herself. The best way to do this, is by taking a break from everything (including her mom) and moving in with her aunt Daisy for some time while she tries to figure out what she wants to do when she decides to go to college.
In the process of finding herself, what she ends up finding is a group of friends who turn into the family she never had and always wanted. She also learns to believe in love at first sight. BUT... What happens when that love is put in jeopardy? Is love really as strong as people make it out to be? What about the broken mother/daughter relationship? Will they be able to put it all in the past and just start over?

I loved this book, plain and simple, and I know you'll love it to. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more books from Marie.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sarita 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz


Title: SpellboundAuthor: Cara Lynn ShultzSeries: Spellbound
Publisher: 
  Harlequin Teen 
Publication Date: 
June 21, 2011 
How Received: Review

Challenge: TBR
Reviewer: Kati


Summary: What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death? Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.
But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.


Review: I am unsure as to what I should write about this book. I was pleasantly surprised in it all. I was shocked as to it all! I really did love this story. I loved the end I loved everything. It practically left me speechless. I don't know what to write other then the truth. I could not stop reading this book. Not even to go to the restroom. I had to continue till the very, very end. I almost started the second book right away. But I didn't because by the time I finished reading it was 5AM. This is a must read book. If you haven't already read this amazing book do it now!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A word from Karen A. Wyle :]

“Kati is very kindly letting me follow up on last month’s author interview with a little update. My science fiction novel Twin-Bred is FREE today and tomorrow on amazon.com! What’s more, members of Amazon Prime can borrow the book for free, any time.”

Can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb?  After seventy years on Tofarn, the human colonists and the native Tofa still know very little about each other.  Misunderstanding breed conflict, and the conflicts are escalating.  Scientist Mara Cadell’s radical proposal: that host mothers of either species carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species.  Mara lost her own twin, Levi, in utero, but she has secretly kept him alive in her mind as companion and collaborator.

Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project – but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas.  Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee.  Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?”

-Karen A. Wyle


Excerpt:

Mara lay back in the recliner, stretched mightily, and heaved a great groaning sigh.
“Long day at the office?”
“More like long three months at the office. Interminable months. Oh, Levi. How did I get myself into this? When have I ever been any good as an administrator?”
“As I recall, until now you’ve avoided any such obligation, so your abilities in that area have been, shall we say, untested.”
Mara reached over toward the lamp, then let her arm fall again. “I’d forgotten what it felt like, to be so unsure. It’s been years since I was — incompetent at anything.”
“Let’s not jump to conclusions. Or labels. So the interviews have been exhausting, as well as exhaustive. That doesn’t make them unproductive.”
“Oh, we’re finding good candidates. It’s surprising, in a way, how many women we’ve found who are ready to put their lives on hold and more or less disappear. Either we have a rather public-spirited generation of young women, or a restless and dissatisfied one. . . . Even a few of the applicants with political connections are promising. But some of them! That last one today — Veda something, Councilman Channing’s daughter. She’s one of those people who never seem to mean anything.” Mara glanced at the cartoon she had drawn after Veda’s interview: an unnaturally slim figure with clasped hands, eyes uplifted toward heaven, and price tags hanging from her clothing. “She rattles along about the joy of selflessness and devotion to public service, and I doubt she even hears herself. And I can’t remotely picture her as nurturing.”
“Don’t write Veda off, Mara. I think there’s something there. Beneath the admittedly disquieting surface. As a subterranean creature myself, I may have a feeling for people with unsuspected depths.”

The short cool season was over. The shades of purple were once again yielding to shades of yellow and ivory and brown. With the return of warmer weather, the parks were becoming more crowded.
The picnic area at First Landing Park was occupied. Children at the playground smelled cooking and wondered if the food would be, at some point, unguarded and accessible. The young men playing soccer were distracted by the crowd of young women, all notably healthy and many of them attractive. There was no banner or sign to indicate what had brought them together. It could have been a reunion of some kind, but few of the women seemed to know each other. The small groups shuffled and reshuffled, and the prevailing mood seemed to be one of uncertainty, almost embarrassment.
Laura Hanson fetched herself a beer and stood watching one of the more animated groups. One woman, petite and well-toned, with expensive hair, seemed to be the center. She was asking questions, drawing people out, and occasionally nodding to herself as though collecting information that gave her satisfaction. The high clear voice was familiar — and the last voice Laura had expected to hear. She put down her beer and came closer.
“Veda? Veda Seeling?”
The woman turned and was raising an inquiring eyebrow when she saw Laura. Her eyes went wide, and the expression of amused control fell away for a moment.
Laura rushed forward and held out her arms. “Veda, I’m so glad to see you again!”
Veda looked around at the crowd, now full of smiles and clearly expecting a touching scene. She walked quickly into Laura’s hug and as quickly led the way to a more isolated spot. “Let’s sit here and catch up.” She sat on a stone bench and patted the spot next to her. Laura obeyed.
“Dear Laura. It’s been so long. What have you been doing? The last I heard, you were getting another degree in something.”
“I was. Sociology. Terran Literature is all very well, but I wasn’t sure how I would use it. And then I heard about the Project, and I thought, this is a way that I can do something that matters, instead of just learning about it. And what about you? I remember! You got married! Congratulations! His name’s Brian, isn’t it?”
Veda preened. “Yes, we’ve been married a year now. He’s in the Bureau of Financial Relations. It’s all very difficult and complicated, finding ways to trade with the Tofa. It’d be so much easier if they could understand each other better. And whenever things get — nasty, well, you can guess what that does to the markets . . . . So he’s very interested in the Project. And Daddy too, of course. Even more so. What about your father? Did he — well, was he hoping you’d get involved?”
Laura looked down. “Well, he’s not so sure about it. He’d like to be hopeful, and he certainly thinks something needs to be done, but he’s a little concerned about trying something so — experimental. But if it’s going to happen, he wants to know all about it.”
“I might have known you’d be here. You were always so — so interested in our Tofa neighbors.”
Veda had a way of saying things — a hint of mockery or threat, hovering behind the words. Or so it was now, with this older and harder Veda. Was her friend still there somewhere, stifled and helpless? She wanted to call her forth, to lure her out.
She started to say, “Remember —” and stopped herself. She was sure that Veda remembered. That was the trouble.

Review: The Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman

Title: Paul Grossman
Author: The Sleepwalkers

Series: ---
Publisher: 
St. Martin's Press 
Publication Date: 
October 12, 2010 
How Received: 

Reviewer: Ethan


Summary: Berlin, 1932.  In the final weeks of the Weimar Republic, as Hitler and his National Socialist party angle to assume control of Germany, beautiful girls are seen sleepwalking through the streets.  Then, a young woman of mysterious origin, with her legs bizarrely deformed, is pulled dead from the Havel River.  Willi Kraus, a high ranking detective in Berlin's police force, begins a murder investigation. A decorated World War I hero and the nation's most famous detective, Willi also is a Jew.   Despite his elite status in the criminal police, he is disturbed by the direction Germany is taking.  Working urgently to identify the dead woman and solve the murder, Willi finds his superiors diverting him at every turn, and is forced to waste precious time on a politically-sensitive missing person case.  Colleagues seem to avoid him; a man on a streetcar stops him from reading a newspaper over his shoulder; he is uncomfortably aware of being watched.  But he persists, and soon enters the dangerous Berlin underworld of debauched nightclubs, prostitutes with secrets to hide, and a hypnotist with troubling connections. As he moves through darkness closer to the truth, Willi begins to understand that much more than the solution to a murder is at stake. What he discovers will mean that his life, the lives of his friends and family, and Germany itself will never be the same. The Sleepwalkers is a powerful, dramatic debut thriller of a nation's unstoppable corruption, featuring a good man trapped between his duty to serve and his grave doubts about what, and who, he serves.  


Review: I have a soft spot for anything that has to do with World War II. Ever since first learning about the events that took place during that time, particularly the horrific genocide in Germany, I have been fascinated by the history. It seemed only natural, therefore, that I should read Paul Grossman's debut novel, The Sleepwalkers.

As a Hitler led Nazi party threatens to take control of the German government, Berlin detective Willi Kraus finds himself at the center of a strange murder investigation. A mysterious young woman if found, dead in a Berlin river, head shaved and legs seemingly turned in the wrong direction. As Willi, a Jew, begins to investigate the death of this savagely deformed young women, he begins to face a strange lack of support from his superiors. With little help from his agency, his stress only increased as he is called to investigate the disappearance of Bulgarian princess. As he looks into both cases, he discovers a connection between the two, and finds that a large amount of women have disappeared, under similar circumstances, over the past year. As Willi digs deeper and deeper into these events, he begins to uncover the prelude of what the Nazi party was preparing to do and must try to save his family, himself, and his country before it is too late.

In his debut novel, Grossman masterfully weaves historical fact with his engaging world of fiction to make a heart pounding thriller, and to bring a new perspective to the WWII genre. The detective, Willi, as well as the supporting cast of characters all contain qualities that make me invest heavily in their endeavors. It seems that, because I was familiar with what was going to happen historically, I couldn't stop reading to see how these characters lives interacted with the history. This novel was the perfect companion for a rainy afternoon, and appealed greatly to my love of history and mysteries.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Two Moons of Sera by Pavarti K Tyler

Title: Two Moons of Sera (Part 1) 
Author: Pavarti K Tyler
Series: Two Moons of Sera
Challenge: N/A
Publisher: Fighting Monkey Press
Publication Date: 
How Received: For Review
Rate: 5

 
Summary (as quoted from Amazon) Two Moons of Sera Synopsis: In a world where water and earth teem with life, Serafay is an anomaly. The result of genetic experiments on her mother's water-borne line Serafay will have to face the very people responsible to discover who she really is. But is she the only one?

 
My thoughts: 
Two Moons of Sera is an awesome read! I loved every single page. The story revolves around a young woman named Serafay - or Sera, for short. She’s half Sualwet ( a mermaid-like type of folk) and half Erdlander (a human like species). A result of horrendous experiments performed on her mother, Sera has never really fit in anywhere. She lives alone, with no one to keep her company except her mother and the weather worn books brought to her from shipwrecks. But all of that changes when she meets Tor, a mysterious young man who offers to be something Sera’s always longed for - a friend. But just when Sera is coming to grips with her forbidden friendship, an awful tragedy strikes that turns her world upside down - and forces her to leave behind the only home she’s ever known. I absolutely love Sera - she’s strong, smart, sassy - all the things that make her an awesome heroine. Her attitude brings so much spunk to the book, and I really enjoyed her character. Tor was a very interesting, charismatic fellow ; his presence was a great addition to the plot, and I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes with him in them. Sera’s Mother was a very complex character. I adored her. She was so loving, and even though she sometimes came off as overprotective, it was always very clear that she only wanted to keep her daughter safe from those who would otherwise torture her. Two Moons of Sera : Part 1, is a fabulous first installment to what is sure to be an amazing series ; If you are looking for a high end fantasy tale with lots of adventure, action, and excitement, then I definitely recommend pick it up today.
5/5
~Moujnir

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Guest Post: Melissa Douthit


Excerpt from The Firelight of Maalda, pages 55-57:

“Why are we even learning this?” Chalice asked, picking up the wad of dough in her hand and plopping it down on the wooden prep table as if it was a glop of mud she had played with as a child. “I thought we had professional chefs working here.”
“Of course we do, my dear,” Magda replied in the condescending tone that she constantly used when she spoke to Chalice, “but you may someday want to make a private dinner for your husband.”
Chalice glanced up and frowned. “My husband?”
“Someday you will marry, Chalice. In fact, it will be required of you. It is part of your role as an Ielierian princess - to marry and learn the art of pleasing your husband.”
Chalice arched a wry eyebrow. “Um, I’m sorry? Did you just say ‘the art of pleasing my husband?’” She’s got to be kidding me! she thought.
“Yes, I did,” Magda answered curtly. “Don’t you want to marry?”
“No … I mean, yes … I do, someday, but …” she stopped, flustered, and glanced down at her lump of dough on the table. It resembled a horse’s hoof. She hadn’t meant to shape it that way but it had taken the form as soon as it had hit the table. Not knowing what to say, she picked up her glass of water and began to drink.
“I think Marcus will make an fine husband for you,” Magda said cheerfully. “He’s handsome, commander of the Royal Legions, and fit in every way to take your place as the First.”
Chalice almost choked. She removed the glass from her lips and coughed. “Marcus!” she said in alarm, wiping her mouth with her sleeve as water dribbled down her chin. She had to laugh inwardly at Magda’s outward expression of disgust. She was sure Magda was determined to correct her obviously repulsive manners. “Why would you say that?” Chalice asked, desperately hoping that arranged marriage was not a requirement of being an Ielierian princess. If that were the case, she wouldn’t have it. She would relinquish her title and give the throne back to Valderion. It wasn’t worth it. Not only was Marcus more than twice her age, she didn’t even know him, nor him her. No, she would never marry this man. There was only one man in her life that she would ever marry.
“Because he is in love with you, of course,” Magda said, answering her question with a forced smile.
Onya turned to her and nodded. “He is very fond of you, Chalice,” she said meekly.
“How can he be? He doesn’t even know me?”
Magda laughed in that irritating, patronizing way that she always did. “Oh my dear, he doesn’t need to know you! Men don’t need to know you in order to be in love. All they need is a well-behaved woman behind a beautiful face. A woman who is demure and obedient.”
Chalice’ jaw dropped and she looked around at the others who seemed to take Magda’s words in stride. She, however, could not believe what she was hearing. Papa would never have taught her something like this. He raised her as an independent person, not an ornament for some man to admire. No! She was no man’s arm candy. The words coming from this woman’s mouth, so elegant in her posh accent, nauseated her. Chalice could recognize garbage when she heard it, no matter how nice it sounded. She realized suddenly that she despised this woman, despised her for everything she represented.

There have been several readers who have commented on the feminist undercurrent in the story and I have to agree with them. The story features many strong female characters who are leaders and fighters. In the heroine’s case, Chalice, the main protagonist of the story, is suddenly placed into the role of being a princess who is expected to adhere to the social pressures that come with the title. One of those expectations, as shown in the excerpt above, is that she will marry and serve her husband who will take her place as the First, or the leader of the people.

One aspect that I love about the story (and about Chalice’ character) is that Chalice stubbornly goes against the grain and refuses to marry and let a man assume her position. She realizes that although she has inherited a title from birth, she does not necessarily inherit the power that comes with it. That, she will have to fight for. Throughout The Firelight of Maalda, she is constantly struggling for power and respect - to be heard and obeyed. This is necessary in order for her to lead the people and fight a war against the man who usurped her father’s throne. Chalice has an overwhelming sense of duty even as her heart tells her to give it all up for the man that she loves. Deep down, she is a free spirit who hates the restrictions her title places on her. Her story is all about her grappling with the internal conflict of doing her duty and following her heart.


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