Book Review: Miss Fortune by Albina Hume

25563960Title:  Miss Fortune by Albina Hume
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher: Ardua Publishing
Length: 255 pages
Format: Epub
Publication Date: June 4, 2015
Rating – 4/5

“Who would think that my inability to pronounce the letter R would turn my life upside down and lead me from Ukraine to South Africa?”

Albina Hume is often asked the same question – how did she meet her South African husband John, a property developer and a rhino breeder, who is 36 years her senior? She has always kept her response simple. Until now …

Her childhood fear that no one in Ukraine would want to marry a ‘crow’ at first resulted in various misfortunes, from failing dreams and relationships to even ending up in a police cell for 51 days, until she finally learned to focus on her dreams, not her fears.

Now, Albina and John Hume have dedicated their lives to preventing the South African rhino population from becoming extinct by breeding rhinos for future generations. In the past six years, they have bred over 500 white rhinos, with Albina emerging as a pro-rhino activist, advocating for an end to the war on trade in rhino horn that has only resulted in illegal trade and killing of rhinos and also people in Africa. Albina calls for legalising trade in horn – a renewable product – to help create harmony between African people and their natural heritage.

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Good morning everyone!! Today I am happy to share with you a book that I read at the tail end of August and finished yesterday the first of September. I would like to give a huge thanks to the author Albina Hume who gave me the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review!

Miss Fortune is a memoir that follows Albina through her life from childhood to adulthood. If you have been a follower on my blog for awhile you already know how much of a fan I am of memoirs. I absolutely LOVE to read a good memoir and value what they have to teach me by way of someone else’s experiences in life. This book was definitely interesting and at times harrowing. It’s always hard to read about the difficult things that happen to people in their lives especially when it is something that truly happened. Miss Fortune has a little bit of everything…it has moments of happiness, sadness, romance, intrigue and peril. I absolutely love the title, I think it is very fitting and a great play on words.

It’just always so interesting to me to catch a glimpse into someone else’s life experiences and I am grateful that Albina has shared her story. I also didn’t make the best decisions as I was growing up so I appreciated reading about Albina’s life and about her learning through her mistakes. I definitely related to Albina at specific points in her life and specific attributes  she had when she was young like her naivete and willingness to see only the good in people, a quality which can be amazing but can also lead to people taking advantage. One thing I loved about the way the book is written is that she takes full responsibility for her decisions and never puts the blame on anyone else even though she was sometimes thrown into these really difficult situations where I think alot wasn’t in her control. She’s definitely a survivor and has a reservoir of strength that is amazing, especially since she always managed to see the good in things, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. After reading this book I definitely think that Albina and John were fated to be together and I am SO happy that she found her happiness…everyone deserves that.

I gave this book a four out of five star rating because I really enjoyed it. I thought it was interesting and it made me think about alot of things namely fate, how our decisions impact our lives, appreciating what you have and not judging anyone because you never what they have been through. Happy Reading everyone!

Book Review: The Settling Earth by Rebecca Burns with Shelly Davies

23725275Title:  The Settling Earth by Rebecca Burns with guest writer Shelly Davies
Genre:  Literary/Historical Fiction – Short Story Collection
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Length: 128 pages
Format: Epub
Publication Date: December 16, 2014
Rating – 5/5

Marriage transplants Sarah thousands of miles from home; a failed love affair forces Phoebe to make drastic choices in a new environment; a sudden, shocking discovery brings Mrs Ellis to reconsider her life as an emigrant — The Settling Earth is a collection of ten, interlinked stories, focusing on the British settler experience in colonial New Zealand, and the settlers’ attempts to make sense of life in a strange new land.

Sacrifices, conflict, a growing love for the landscape, a recognition of the succour offered by New Zealand to Maori and settler communities — these are themes explored in the book. The final story in the collection, written by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds a Maori perspective to the experience of British settlement in their land.

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I’d like to preface this review by saying a big thank you to the author Rebecca Burns for giving me the opportunity to read this collection in exchange for an honest review!

The setting for this collection of ten short stories is during the British colonization of New Zealand. These ten stories explore the struggles of primarily women, but also a few men during this period. These struggles involve racism, marriage struggles, financial struggles, ethical struggles and so much more.

When I read the description for this collection, I knew I had to read it. I’m definitely a fan of historical fiction and the more I read short story collections the more I really like them. I’m happy to say that I’ve read a few of them this year which is a lot more than in past years. This book was no exception, I loved it. This collection was actually a bit different than what I have experienced in the past in that while each of these ten stories can definitely stand on their own, they are also ingeniously woven together to  create a cohesive whole. I thought that was really great and really enjoyed that aspect of it.

I loved the writing style which was very descriptive and just overall, nicely done. Each of these stories was very gripping to me and interesting. It’s definitely a light read but with some heavy themes and enough description that it feels like a whole novel which is REALLY hard for a short story collection to pull off but this one definitely did that for me. I enjoyed reading each of the stories…this book had alot of dark moments but also some very light moments and I really feel like because of the balance of dark and light, this collection as a whole really made an impression on me. I just love how the setting plays such a huge role in the lives of all of these characters. It really made me think about how our surroundings impact various aspects of our lives.

I really wish I had seen more of a few of the characters’ stories like in the cases of Pip, Miss Swainson and Dottie and her mother. Poor Dottie, her story definitely pulled at my heartstrings as did in the case of Laura and Sarah. I ended up giving this book a five star rating because I enjoyed it so much, when a book evokes such strong emotion in me like the heart ache I felt when reading this I just can’t help but give it a high rating. To me any book that can do that is exceptional, especially when that books makes you think. A good book while entertaining, should also make you think, inspire you and move you. This collection did that. All of these stories were interesting and the book itself was a super light read. Fans of historical fiction will love this collection!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23725275-the-settling-earth

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Settling-Earth-Rebecca-Burns-ebook/dp/B00QPI3VW0/ref=la_B006UZ5OPK_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418335812&sr=1-2

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About the Author

Rebecca Burns is an award-winning writer of short stories, over thirty of which have been published online or in print. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011, winner of the Fowey Festival of Words and Music Short Story Competition in 2013 (and runner-up in 2014), winner of the Black Pear Press Short Story Competition in 2014, and has been profiled as part of the University of Leicester’s “Grassroutes Project”-a project that showcases the 50 best transcultural writers in the county.

The Settling Earth is her second collection of short stories. Her debut collection, Catching the Barramundi, was published in 2012 – also by Odyssey Books – and was longlisted for the Edge Hill Award in 2013. The Settling Earth was also longlisted for the Edge Hill in March 2015.

www.rebecca-burns.co.uk 

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaBurnsWriter

Twitter: @Bekki66

Cover Reveal: Once Upon A Time University by Savannah Ostler D’Alo

Good morning everyone! This morning I am excited to share with you the cover reveal for Once Upon a Time University by Savannah Ostler D’Alo. I read and reviewed the first book in this series and thought it was a super cute, fun story…you can see that review here: Happily Ever After High School Review. Without further ado, here is the cover for the second book in this series!!!

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Okay guys, seriously! Isn’t this cover gorgeous?!! I’m in love with it, so in love with it and I can’t wait to read it!

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The enchanting sequel to “Happily Ever After High School” 

After graduating Happily Ever High, eighteen year old Albany French was living the perfect fairy tale. She had her very own fairy godmother, a delightfully eccentric grandmother, and her boyfriend was her dream knight in shining armor. 

At first, it seemed like a flawless freshman year for her at Once Upon A Time University. The campus was magical and enchanted, her classes were extraordinary, and she made surprising new friends. 

A chain of unsettling events followed by a twist of fate sends Albany spinning. She is forced to make the most difficult decision of her life- one that could potentially break her heart. The perfect happily ever after was still within Albany’s grasp… or so she thought. 

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About the Author

IMG_3846Savannah Ostler was born in Alpine, Utah. Since childhood, she has enjoyed many forms of the arts. It was from her love of performing that she decided to attend East Hollywood High, a school in Salt Lake City dedicated to film, television, and writing.

In addition to acting for both stage and film, Savannah is also a singer, having released several original pop singles, and performing at well known venues in Hollywood such as The House Of Blues, and the Roxy theater.

Although Savannah is incredibly diverse with her talents, her first love is, and has always been writing. She has been writing ever since she learned how to read and write. She enjoys many different forms of writing: poetry, lyrics, fiction, and screenplays. To date, Miss Ostler has written hundreds of original poems, six original songs produced and performed by Savannah herself, hundreds of lyrics not yet produced, over a dozen produced short films, five feature film screenplays, two television pilots, and of course, her first novel Happily Ever After High School.

Savannah has always been a day dreamer and a true kid at heart. When she is not buried in her writing projects, she can be found at Disneyland, living out all of her fairy tale dreams.

She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband Steve and their two mixed Chihuahua pups.

Book Review: Alchemy by Jade Kennedy

25875242Title:  Alchemy by Jade Kennedy
Genre:  Poetry & Flash Fiction
Publisher: Self Published – Epubli
Length: 64 pages
Format: Epub
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Rating – 5/5

‘Alchemy’ is a collection of flash fiction interspersed with poetry which explores a world of surrealism and magical realism. The name alchemy came from my desire to create stories about transformation and are other-worldly. The opening piece ‘A Collection’ tells of a woman who collects borrowed expressions; ‘Eden’ is about a woman who transforms into a lizard while struggling with isolation. The stories themselves range from dark to light.

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I want to preface this review by notating that I received this book from the author for an honest review!

You may have noticed that I haven’t yet reviewed any poetry or flash fiction on my blog this year! Last year I believe I reviewed one poetry collection so that is definitely something that I will have to rectify starting with this book, Alchemy by Jade Kennedy. This book actually contains a mixture of poetry and flash fiction! Since this is a very different read for me I was super excited to read and review this book.

Because I am fairly new to the genre, I had no idea what to expect and I ended up absolutely loving every minute of the reading experience with these poems and flash fiction pieces. When I read the first piece of flash fiction, A Collection, I found it super interesting and it immediately made me want to read more.

This book was a very short read in terms of length but I didn’t take a short amount of time to read it because very often I found myself putting my E-reader down and reflecting on what I had just read. I loved that I had to do this with this book. I loved the format of the poems and the mixture of the poems and the flash fiction pieces throughout. The language and the writing in general was just so beautiful and poignant. It was stunning with imagery that was so potent and evocative. I felt very connected with each piece in this collection and just with the collection as a whole; it really made me think and reflect on all of the themes being presented in a particular piece. It’s hard for me to choose a favorite because I enjoyed all of it but I do feel as though Eden might be my favorite. It was breathtaking and I wish I had more to read!

I highly recommend checking this collection out, especially poetry fans, as it is a very good read. It’s light in length but heavy in payoff, it definitely made an impression on me!

You can purchase this collection at one of these links:

Enjoy!

Review – Star Wars: Princess Leia #1 by Mark Waid, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson and Jordie Bellaire

24704894Title:  Star Wars: Princess Leia #1 by Mark Waid (writer), Terry Dodson (Pencils), Rachel Dodson (Inks), and Jordie Bellaire (Colorist)
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Length: 32 pages
Format: Single Issue Comic
Publication Date:  March 2015
Rating – 5/5

When Princess Leia Organa was captured by the Empire as a Rebel spy, she never betrayed her convictions, even in the face of the complete destruction of her home world, Alderaan. When her rescue came, she grabbed a blaster and joined the fight, escaping back to the Rebel Alliance and helping strike the biggest blow against the Empire, the destruction of the Death Star. But in the aftermath of that victory, the question remains; what is a princess without a world?

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This year I have read a few trades but I have been wanting to find a few series that are new and that I can follow and purchase as the single issue comics come out. I was browsing at my local comic shop and ran across this gem and was happy to see that only a fair number of this series has come out and was excited to start it. Leave it to me to leave with this one single issue and fail to purchase the rest of what is currently available so now that I have read this I am going to HAVE to make a trip back to the comic shop on payday to buy the rest of the current issues.

I ended up giving this single issue a five star rating. I loved it. It was interesting to see from Leia’s POV and how she is choosing to deal with her grief in the aftermath of her parent’s death and the destruction of her home planet. It is going to be interesting to see her continuously deal with this and the plight of her people as she ventures off to save them. I appreciated her stubborn and ballsy yet respectful attitude in this but I also appreciated her vulnerability. I think she is definitely showing that although she has alot to learn she is worthy of her royal blood. I can’t wait to see her internal journey throughout this series.The artwork and the coloring were beautiful. I loved the dialogue and I giggled a few times while reading it. I thought it was a very promising to start to this series and can’t wait to pick up the rest.

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

22544764Title:  Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey
Length: 435 pages
Format: Hardcover
Publication Date:  May 19, 2015
Rating – 5/5

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

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This book has been on my TBR list for a few months and it was one of the few new releases that I have been flirting with buying and reading. Needless to say I was super excited when both Vaginal Fantasy and Sword and Laser book clubs chose Uprooted for their reading picks this month. While I am anxiously waiting for the Vaginal Fantasy Google hangout I decided to go ahead and post my review on this book!

As you already know, I love me some Fantasy whether it’s childrens, YA or adult. I just love it all and want to read every fantasy novel ever…I have a long way to go! Reading Uprooted was definitely a reminder of some of the things I love about Fantasy books. The plot itself was interesting with the corrupted wood bordering the villages and threatening to overtake them and the mysterious wizard taking a girl from the villages every ten years to help in his fight to keep the wood at bay. I thought it was fairly obvious who would actually be chosen to go live with the wizard but that didn’t make it any less interesting or scary because at that point we are still unsure of the specifics of why he chooses a girl to live in the tower with him every ten years.

I really loved alot of the characters especially Agnieszka and Kasia. I was also intrigued by the Dragon although I wish I could get more in depth into his psyche and his background, that would be an interesting book! I also really craved more of a romance than we were given but I do appreciate the reasons behind it not playing such a huge part in this book. I love Agnieszka’s strong will and independence. I love her stubbornness and her growth from a child to a powerful woman of basically her own making.

It took me awhile to read this book, not for lack of interest or time, but mostly because I was trying to savor my reading of this book. This book has the kind of writing that you want to just live in and soak up every single word, it was beautiful. It was dense which I have come to expect in most fantasy books (and which I absolutely love) but it wasn’t too dense, if that makes any sense. It felt just right. It was a complicated story with maybe one or two predictable things but the rest of it was definitely unexpected and wholly original. It has magic, intrigue, conflict and a bit of romance. I loved this book and gave it a five star rating.

Let’s talk about the cover. Is this not one of the most beautiful covers you have ever seen, I promise you that this book is more beautiful in person. Now that I have read it I love the cover even more as it is wholly fitting for the story. Just beautiful. I’m not usually a fan of yellowish book covers but this one is gorgeous, even more so in person and I, of course, love books with deckle edge pages.

I think that this book is definitely a read that fans of epic fantasy won’t want to miss!

Blog Tour Book Review: Stepdog by Nicole Galland

Stepdog (430x648)About Stepdog

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 4, 2015)

What’s the difference between puppy love and dogged devotion?

When Sara Renault fired Rory O’Connor from his part-time job at a Boston art museum, and in response, Rory—Irishman, actor, musician, reformed party-boy— impulsively leaned over and kissed her . . . she kissed him back. Now, as Rory’s visa runs out on the cusp of his big Hollywood break, Sara insists that he marry her to get a green card. In a matter of weeks they’ve gone from being friendly work colleagues to a live-in couple, and it’s all grand . . . except for Cody, Sara’s beloved dog from her troubled previous relationship. Sara’s overattachment to her dog is the only thing she and Rory fight about.

When Rory scores both his green card and the lead role in an upcoming TV pilot, he and Sara (and Cody) prepare to move to Los Angeles. But just before their departure, Cody is kidnapped—and it is entirely Rory’s fault. Desperate to get back into Sara’s good graces, Rory tracks Cody and the sociopathic dognapper to North Carolina. Can Rory rescue Cody and convince Sara that they belong together—with Cody—as a family? First they’ll need to survive a madcap adventure that takes them through the heart of America.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

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Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the tour for Stepdog. I’d like to send a BIG thank you to the author Nicole Galland as well as TLC Book Tours for giving me a chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review!

Stepdog is a contemporary novel bout two coworkers Sara and Rory, who upon the very moment Sara fires Rory, take the first leap in a whirlwind romance. Rory soon learns that he is not the only love in Sara’s life when he meets her dog, Cody and his life changes forever. That’s all I really want to reveal about the plot other than the synopsis above because this book is so cute and so good!

When I got the chance to read and review this book, I jumped all over it. I am always down to read a novel with a dog or any animal at it’s core. I’m a dog mother and my dog and I are super close so I loved the dynamic of Cody and Sara’s relationship and Rory’s attitude toward Cody irked me at times throughout the story. I feel like it’s inevitable when you’re around a dog alot, that you fall head over heels in love with them. It’s just inevitable so I enjoyed seeing the moments when Rory would realize how much Cody was starting to mean to him like when he missed her leaning against his legs. So cute! I loved not only the story of how Rory and Sara’s relationship came to be but most of all, how Cody and Rory’s relationship came to be. I nearly died when the events surrounding Cody and Sara’s ex came into play because I am not a stranger to that type of situation. I really love the title of this book “Stepdog”, I think that is SO cute. I call my dog my daughter as I don’t have human kids so that really resonated with a sap like me!

I loved this book. I gave it five stars, I had a really hard time putting it down and therefore, it was a really fast read for me. The writing was great and I loved all the characters we met. It was light, humorous, touching and just lovely. I really needed to read a heartwarming story like this…I definitely got the feels and there was a little laughter and a few tears. I don’t know why I do this to myself but I love a good book that can make me cry and get the feels, especially when it has to do with animals. If you’re an animal lover or just plain looking for a good contemporary novel to read, consider giving Stepdog a try, I’m convinced you won’t be disappointed.

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About Nicole Galland27588

Nicole Galland’s five previous novels are The Fool’s Tale; Revenge of the Rose; Crossed; I, Iago, and Godiva. She writes a cheeky etiquette column for the Martha’s Vineyard Times. She is married to actor Billy Meleady and owns Leuco, a dog of splendid qualities.

Find out more about Nicole at her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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