In My Mailbox (18)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi and The Story Siren. IMM is a great way for book lovers to share the books they have bought, borrowed, received, or downloaded during the week. 

 I've been downloading like crazy this week. I went on a mini vacation at Disney, so I needed reading material for the trip. 

From NetGalley and S&S GalleyGrab: 
Drink, Slay, LovePearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire . . . fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil . . . until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.
Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don’t exist), and they’re shocked she survived. They’re even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl’s family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King’s feast—as the entrees.
The only problem? Pearl’s starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she’s definitely dead if she lets down her family. What’s a sunlight-loving vamp to do?

Say Cheese, Medusa! (Myth-O-Mania) In Greek mythology, Medusa was a Gorgon a winged monster with snakes for hair. Anyone who looked at her was instantly turned to stone. But she wasn't born that way. Not even close. Athena was so jealous of Medusa's beauty that she cursed her. Zeus changed the story to make his son, Perseus, look good. Hades is here to set the record straight on Perseus, Medusa, and everything in between.

A Beautiful DarkOn the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites—like fire and ice—Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.
In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.
Borrowed (from my mom): 

Skinny BitchNot your typical boring diet book, this is a tart-tongued, no-holds-barred wakeup call to all women who want to be thin. With such blunt advice as, "Soda is liquid Satan" and "You are a total moron if you think the Atkins Diet will make you thin," it's a rallying cry for all savvy women to start eating healthy and looking radiant. Unlike standard diet books, it actually makes the reader laugh out loud with its truthful, smart-mouthed revelations. Behind all the attitude, however, there's solid guidance. Skinny Bitch espouses a healthful lifestyle that promotes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and encourages women to get excited about feeling "clean and pure and energized."

For Review:

Belle's SongFifteen-year-old Belle is a dreamer with a sharp tongue and an aching burden: her carelessness has crippled her father. A chance meeting with bespectacled Luke has her decide to join the pilgrimage to Canterbury made famous by Geoffrey Chaucer's beloved tales. There she befriends the famous writer and Walter, a handsome squire with a secret of his own. Growing to love her fellow travelers dearly, Belle is thrilled by the attention from both Luke and Walter. But casting its shadow over the pilgrims is the threat to England posed by an unreliable king anxious to keep his throne at any cost. When Belle discovers that Master Chaucer is embroiled in dangerous politics, she is forced to make a choice that will turn her pilgrimage into a gamble with a deadly price.

I've already finished A Beautiful Dark and Drink, Slay, Love. The reviews are on my blog, or you can just follow the links.

Review: Skinny Bitch

Skinny Bitch
Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

Product Details 
Genre: Self-Help, Fitness/Health
Pages: 224 pages
Publisher: Running Press (December 27, 2005)
ISBN: 0762435410
Source: Found a copy in my mom's car

Skinny BitchNot your typical boring diet book, this is a tart-tongued, no-holds-barred wakeup call to all women who want to be thin. With such blunt advice as, "Soda is liquid Satan" and "You are a total moron if you think the Atkins Diet will make you thin," it's a rallying cry for all savvy women to start eating healthy and looking radiant. Unlike standard diet books, it actually makes the reader laugh out loud with its truthful, smart-mouthed revelations. Behind all the attitude, however, there's solid guidance. Skinny Bitch espouses a healthful lifestyle that promotes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and encourages women to get excited about feeling "clean and pure and energized."

I love books that read like my best friend's gossip sessions. That's exactly how this book was from cover to cover. It was hilarious! I bet these girls are an absolute riot in real life. Usually, I'm not a big fan of self-help type books, but I couldn't resist this one after reading the first sentence. I saw a copy in my mom's car and decided to read it on my trip to Disney. It turned out to be very insightful. 

About 7 months ago my doctor told me to stop eating dairy and beef products. I'm not a huge milk drinker, so that didn't bother me. I do, however, like yogurt. A lot. Cutting out beef was another issue. There is a fabulous steak house right around the corner from my house. My husband and I love going there on Friday nights (um... $1.99 martinis!) and ordering their steaks. They are heavenly. Seriously. 

After reading some of the chapters in this book, I will be seriously reconsidering my faithfulness to yogurt. I've been good with doing away with beef products (beef free for 7 months). I remember the doctor telling me about why I should avoid beef. It was so disturbing, but it made complete sense. He told me that 70% of people that die from heart disease (#1 killer in America, BTW) die because of the beef they have spent a life time consuming. Apparently, the beef leads to the heart disease. I didn't get that at first, but then he went on to explain about all the steroids and hormones that are pumped into these animals. Of course, we end up digesting these same chemicals through the meat. Gross. The book, Skinny Bitch, goes a step further and talks about the pesticides that are sprayed on the animals to keep bugs away. Those same pesticides seep into the animal's skin and blood stream, which ends up in the meat. I almost vomited when I read that chapter. There was more, but I couldn't stomach it. I didn't want to know how disgusting chicken coops really are. I already saw how disturbing they were on that show where the guy travels to all of the most dangerous/disgusting jobs in the world. It was pretty bad. 
Enough about cows. Well, sort of. I still didn't talk about the dairy. In the simple terms, machine milking (of cows) leads to infections. Those infections still end up in the milk-- puss and all. And sadly, not all of that crap is filtered out. I had no idea what pasteurization really meant. It made me ill. There was also a lengthy history of the USDA and FDA. Basically, buy organic soy milk that is NOT approved by the FDA alone. Apparently, they have changed regulations on certifying organic products and it isn't in our best interest. 

The book also went on to talk about artificial sweeteners (stay away from them, except for Stavia) and sodas. We've all heard the rumors about what a coke does to your body. It was interesting to read it in a book. Pretty scary. I also learned that acidic products lead to weight gain due to their effects on blood sugar levels. Makes sense, really. 

The one thing that I didn't like about the book was that it felt like a pitch for going vegan. I get why people do it, and I support their choices; however, I can't feed my family on vegan food. I don't care how you prepare tofu, it still makes me gag. It could be deep friend or covered in sugar, I would still vomit. You can't fake some things. I'm all on board with the clean eating and healthy living. I have no problem with not eating beef or dairy. But I can't do away with chicken. I can, however, buy organic American farm raised chicken. But not chicken tofu nuggets. The three year old would know the difference, no matter what people say. He's a regular Sherlock Holmes. The information in the book (and the supporting research) was insightful and alarming. I did not like, however, the sales pitch for the vegan life style. The back of the book gave some shopping ideas (for Skinny Bitch approved products) that I might check out next time I'm in the store. Especially the junk food options-- my vice. But I will not be buying tofu anything in the near (or distant) future. 


Review: A Long, Long Sleep (Anna Sheehan)

A Long, Long Sleep
Anna Sheehan

Product Details:

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (August 9, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0763652601
Source: Free e-book from NetGalley

A Long, Long SleepRosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss.

Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose -- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire -- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.

Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes -- or be left without any future at all.

After 62 years of “sleeping” in a stass tube, Rose Fitzroy is awakened. To her horror she has found that everyone she once knew has died. She is a foreigner in a new time. She doesn’t fit in with her new surroundings, and she is terribly out-of-date in both fashion and speech. For a 16-year-old girl, she seems more like someone’s grandmother than the long-lost daughter of the prestigious founders of UniCorp. But then again, Rose is nearly 100 years old.

The new life that Rose is faced with is difficult for her to come to terms with. She suddenly realizes that she is still a teenager, faced with all of the troubles a typical teenager has to face. She has to attend high school and try to assimilate in to a new culture. Her childhood was spent moving from one school to another, so it’s hard for Rose to adjust. Bren and Otto—an “experiment” conducted by UniCorp that produced an alien like human being—are her only friends. Talking with Otto helps her sort out her thoughts, but it doesn’t provide peace. Additionally, her feelings for Bren complicate things.

It seems that adjusting to her new life is taking a relatively normal path until she is attacked by a walking human corpse-like robot assassin. Suddenly, Rose realizes that someone wants her dead. But who? She’s too young to take control of her dead parents’ company (and she doesn’t really have an interest in it anyway). Everyone that she’s ever known is dead… or are they? Will Rose be able to survive her new life, or will the assassin complete his mission?

My original impression of this book was that it would be some type of a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. There were plenty of hints to make me think that. A reviving kiss (ok, CPR), the lovely girl named Rose, etc. However, that is not the case. Instead, I got a great science-fiction read. Maybe the underlying hints of Sleeping Beauty were present, but that was the only resemblance. This book was certainly unique on its own. I’m afraid I’ll have to give some spoilers because it’s too hard to tell what I liked about this book without telling some of the (complicated) plot.

The first thing that made me like this book was the characters. There were so many unique characters in this book that added a lot to the story line. For instance, the protagonist, Rose, is very complicated. She starts off seeming like she’s completely helpless. She’s passive when she should be assertive, and she is always apologizing. She seems to be plagued by self-loathing. Rose was such a great character because she changed throughout the book. By the end of the story, she had accepted her fate. By coming to terms with her awful childhood and the present state of things, she seemed to grow stronger. It was a very strange coming of age moment that seemed to take nearly 100 years to reach. I also loved Xavier and Otto. As a young boy and teenager Xavier seemed to be Rose’s strength. He was always understanding and supportive when her family constantly stashed her off in stasis (a suspended sleep state). Their passionate first kiss was extra steamy. You could sense the passion between the two. I personally liked the fact that Xavier could see Rose’s parents for what they really were—“vampires.” Metaphorical vampires, that is—not the paranormal type. I enjoyed both characters so much that I felt both his and Rose’s pain when Rose had to break up with him. I felt like a little bit of myself was crushed with them. Some of the other characters are charming as well. Even though they are only mentioned briefly, the description of Bren’s family gave the impression of a family filled with love. I wish they would have had a stronger presence in the book. Finally, there is Otto—the alien-like boy with bluish skin and glowing yellow eyes. I couldn’t help but picture Nightcrawler from the X-Men when I read the description, minus the tail and weird hands. Otto seemed to be the only person in Rose’s group that truly accepted her from the beginning. He openly admitted that she was strange and frightening, but he also admitted that he was the same way. Even though they are complete opposites, they had a connection that wasn’t felt with the other characters. It seemed that Otto brought out the best in Rose and helped her to become the (new) person that she needed to be.

Another thing that was great about this book was the plot. It had its moments when it hopped around a bit—especially when it would go from present to past actions—but overall it was very well paced. The majority of the book was very fast paced. Aside from pacing, however, the content of the plot was what really stood out for me. I was haunted and deeply disturbed by the parents in this book. Although they were dead when the story began, they kept creeping up in Rose’s memories. I found myself getting infuriated with them at times. It seems they just put their child in stasis whenever she became an inconvenience to them. I couldn’t help but think about the parents in the world today that ignore their children unless they have some self-centered reason for giving them attention. You hear stories about this all the time. The parents in the book seemed the exact same way, except they were super rich. They paid off anyone that might bring attention to their actions in order to keep their perfect public image. How many times do we actually suspect that happening with the celebrities that flood the media? I felt so sorry for Rose. Her entire childhood was stolen from her because of someone else’s selfishness. Actually, her entire life was stolen from her. She lost sixty two years in stasis because of her parents!

I would certainly recommend this book. If you like science fiction you would probably enjoy this book. I don’t call myself a science fiction reader, but I really enjoyed this book. It has restored my hope in the genre. On a basic level it’s a good story with a fast paced plot and likeable characters. On a deeper level, however, it’s much more than that. I would love to read this with a group of students (or a class) and see what kind of discussions would come from it. The underlying layers are so deep.

Just for fun, this is how the book ends: “I dream that one day I’ll truly believe in my place in this world. I dream that I am strong. And I have three best friends who dream with me. My name is Rosalinda Samantha Fitzroy. I am one hundred years old. I am free. I am haunted. But if nothing else, I am wide awake.” LOVE IT! 


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