Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blog Tour Review: Captain Bonny Morgan, The Cassandra Prophecy by Robert "Doc" Gowdy

Title: Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophecy

Author: Robert "Doc" Gowdy


Who Should Read It? ONLY if you are prepared for X-rated sci-fi should you read this.

What I Have to Say:
I really wish that I had liked this book, that I had better things to say about it. Because the fact is, it was a well-written, action-packed, exciting story. And I think that, for the right audience, it could be great.

I, however, was unfortunately not the right audience. And everything I say should therefore be taken with a grain of salt, as I am an impartial judge.

I'll start with the good. The Cassandra Prophecy takes place in an intriguing, exciting future world full of space pirates and inter-galactic disputes; feisty, ballsy women that are part of ancient organizations and that carry around exciting secrets. The characters were fun and exciting and well-developed, and more than that, they were likable and engaging. As was the story.

The plot was well-developed, and I wasn't ENTIRELY sure what was going to happen until the very end, though I did have quite a few ideas and did guess most of it. I was intrigued and excited and actually found it hard to put the book down. It was stylistically solid and extraordinarily creative.

Sounds like I loved it, right? Unfortunately, it was also hard for me to keep reading without cringing every two seconds. I wish that I had taken more care to notice the word "erotic" in the summary, because that's what it was. Every two seconds women were having hot lesbian sex (in front of everyone, and the men would just laugh) - either to fulfill contracts or because they had suddenly fallen in love or, well, just because. It seemed like every possible thing that could happen in the book had to in some way involve descriptions of naked women and naughtiness.

And that's just not for me. It almost felt like the author had decided to fulfill some weird male fantasy by populating the world with lesbians owning lesbian sex slaves (that loved being slaves, of course) that all just had sex in front of all of the men (who never seemed to get any action). I couldn't help but feel annoyed at having to filter out all the lude, crude sex scenes to get to the good stuff.

And so, in the end, it's hard for me to say that I liked it. Maybe you will, if you're into that kind of thing. But it unfortunately just wasn't a book for me.

Summary:Called to action by a mysterious ancient Order-an ancient Order in cahoots with the Empress Flaccilla of the First Galactic Empire of Emperor Tulla-to help bring about the fulfillment of a long forgotten prophesy, the beautiful galactic pirate, Captain Bonny Morgan, sets out on her mission to successfully bring the prophesy to reality. By kidnapping the Empress's daughter, Princess Cosette, Captain Morgan sets into motion an adventure awash in political intrigues, hidden agendas, unexpected revelations, and bold, daring gambits by those involved at every level of the conspiracy. Setting out to find her kidnapped sister, Princess Lysette, joined by her beautiful, mischievous, and extraordinary slavegirl, Tink, crisscrosses the galaxy in a bawdy, erotic, and often hilarious attempt to find Cosette. Along the way, Lysette and Tink fall in with a variety of extraordinary allies in their attempt to find Cosette, meeting the Lady Brit, Jon Black, Pirate Queen Colleen O'Malley, Gunns Mannigan, Buster O'Malley, the beautiful pirates Kana and Blaze, and Bully, the roguish owner of the pirate tavern, the Pretty Red.

Cover Story: I actually really love this cover. I just wish I would have paid more attention to the attire of the female before choosing to read this book.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review via a third party source; this in no way affected my review.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Disappearing Act

It's Sunday, and I haven't posted since, well, I don't even know when. And for that can I just say: I AM SO SORRY!!!! I really didn't mean to disappear. Everyday I kept thinking "Today I will have time to post" and then having no time AT ALL!
Being a full time student and taking a dance class and attempting to exercise regularly and maintain some semblance of a social life (YAY! I want to have a social life again - this is fabulous and still finding time to read is VERY time-consuming. Much more so than I ever could have thought.

I'm not going to stop blogging, though! I love it too much! I just won't be blogging everyday anymore. Maybe a few times a week.
I've got a huge test this upcoming Thursday, and then I am going out of town for about 10 days, so I'll probably have to disappear again when I go out of town, but I've got some reviews just waiting to be posted, so I'll try not to continue being disappeared this week.

I'm sorry I've been neglecting you all! I miss the blogging community!
If you want to know what I've been up to, that's been keeping me so busy and away from blogging, check out Brizmus Around the World, my personal blog in which I talk about the awesome time I have been having in Japan!

And be expecting some reviews from me soon!


The other day I was saying something about how my favorite kind of music is really sugary, bubblegummy, poppy punk rock, and Alexis replie with something like "I don't believe you. Every time I hear you listening to music, it's that folk metal or whatever."
And I realized she was right. I'd been listening to so much metal that bubblegum punk was slowly taking the backburner, and this saddened me.
So since then, I've been rocking out to the awesomeness of bands like the 20 Belows, the Yum Yums, the Riverdales, the Queers, the Ergs!, Screeching Weasel, etc. . . And not to be forgotten, of course, the Unlovables.
And I was reminded that, like there is a Southpark episode for every life circumstance, there is an Unlovables song for every Audrey life circumstance.

And right now, the song that describes my life is Disaster, even though, for me, my life is totally not a disaster.
Go here and listen to it, and I assure you, you will be rocked.

Anyhow, things have been fairly uneventful since the last time I wrote.
On Wednesday, we had a big test that was the same as the placement test that we took when we first got here.
We got the results back on Friday.

That orange circle that you see is where I was when I first got here. The pink circle is where I am now. I feel happy because I super advanced a lot (more than the other people in my class, as their original circles were all way bigger than mine). I missed one question from the things that we did this qusarter, and I feel really stupid about having missed it. Immediately after turning in the test, I rethought about it and knew I got it wrong. As for the things I wasn't supposed to know (i.e. that we didn't cover this quarter), well, no shocker, I didn't know them.

Wednesday, after the test, I had dinner at the student village (that's, like, the real Yamasa dorms) with some people I know over there. Laura made the most scrumptions vegan spinach quiche, and I wanted to eat ALL of it, but unfortunately I had to be nice and share. Also unfortunately, the last one got burned to a char. :-(

Laura with delish quiche!

On Friday night, I went over to Lyn's again, and she made a delicious cabbage potato stew, and it was DELICIOUS. I seriously love having people cook for me. We watched Naussica in the valley of the wind, and it was fabulous! It's one of my favorite Miyazaki movies (maybe they all are one of my favorites?), and I was happy to watch it again. Especially as it was super rad to understand some of it.

Saturday, I skipped French teaching (I know, I know, I am horrible) and instead went shopping with Martin for a bday gift for his lady friend. And then we took pictures of us jumping around in the rain.

Apparently Martin and I love taking pictures of ourselves. It reminds me of hanging out with Josh back at NYU, and it is fabulous fun!

Saturday night, Alexis, Jenny-Lyn, Lauren, and some others went over to Aoi Hall/Zig Zag (the school bar to which I can't really go because you're allowed to smoke inside), where they had screens set up and were playing the Japan/Netherlands World Cup game. The game was pretty much boring and actionless, and Japan lost (::sob::) but good times were nonetheless had.

Jenny-Lyn, Lars, Laura
I know, I know, I suck at taking night pictures!

It was weird to ENJOY going out and being out and talking to people I don't know again. I feel like I turned into this weird anti-social hermit while I was living in France, and living here is turning me back to myself, when I had previously just thought I was getting old.

And that is all.
(Except that I also apologize for the ridiculous size of these photos. Picasa is STILL not working with my connection, which is ridiculously annoying, and photobucket is screwy. Can anyone think of a better photo hosting site?)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

And this week's pick is:

Stories by Neil Gaiman

Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 15, 2010


"The joy of fiction is the joy of the imagination. . . ."

The best stories pull readers in and keep them turning the pages, eager to discover more—to find the answer to the question: "And then what happened?" The true hallmark of great literature is great imagination, and as Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio prove with this outstanding collection, when it comes to great fiction, all genres are equal.

Stories is a groundbreaking anthology that reinvigorates, expands, and redefines the limits of imaginative fiction and affords some of the best writers in the world—from Peter Straub and Chuck Palahniuk to Roddy Doyle and Diana Wynne Jones, Stewart O'Nan and Joyce Carol Oates to Walter Mosley and Jodi Picoult—the opportunity to work together, defend their craft, and realign misconceptions. Gaiman, a literary magician whose acclaimed work defies easy categorization and transcends all boundaries, and "master anthologist" (Booklist) Sarrantonio personally invited, read, and selected all the stories in this collection, and their standard for this "new literature of the imagination" is high. "We wanted to read stories that used a lightning-flash of magic as a way of showing us something we have already seen a thousand times as if we have never seen it at all."

Joe Hill boldly aligns theme and form in his disturbing tale of a man's descent into evil in "Devil on the Staircase." In "Catch and Release," Lawrence Block tells of a seasoned fisherman with a talent for catching a bite of another sort. Carolyn Parkhurst adds a dark twist to sibling rivalry in "Unwell." Joanne Harris weaves a tale of ancient gods in modern New York in "Wildfire in Manhattan." Vengeance is the heart of Richard Adams's "The Knife." Jeffery Deaver introduces a dedicated psychologist whose mission in life is to save people in "The Therapist." A chilling punishment befitting an unspeakable crime is at the dark heart of Neil Gaiman's novelette "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains."

As it transforms your view of the world, this brilliant and visionary volume—sure to become a classic—will ignite a new appreciation for the limitless realm of exceptional fiction.

I'm happy to tell anyone that will listen that Neil Gaiman is my absolute FAVORITE author of all time. In my mind, he can do no wrong (even though occasionally he does, it will just never be wrong to me). And so, when I heard that he was coming out with a new book of short stories, I was of course THRILLED, even if I was slightly disappointed at the same time. I have been NEEDING a Neil Gaiman full length novel for FAR TOO LONG now. I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but I guess for the mean time, this will just have to do. And so I am, of course, super psyched.
At least it's coming out SOON, so I don't have long to wait.

What are you waiting for this week?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: the Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin

Title: the Queen of Palmyra

Author: Minrose Gwin


Who Should Read It? If you can handle feeling tortured on the inside, and if you know how to appreciate good writing, read this book.

What I Have to Say: Minrose Gwin is one of those writers that just knows what she's doing. It doesn't seem like she just woke up one day and decided to write a book. It seems more like she worked hard at it and studied and learned how to become a writer. Which is a good thing. Her prose felt so perfect and natural that it just seemed like it had to have been learned. No one with that amount of talent could have just "decided to have a book" and miraculously have it turn out as the Queen of Palmyra. It is just too well-written.

The Queen of Palmyra is a deeply touching, deeply affecting novel. 11-year old Florence grows up in 1963 in Mississippi. Her education is lacking, and her loyalties are separated between her cake-baking mother and her racist father, who allows her to practically be raised by her grandparents' black maid. Through Florence's uncomprehending eyes, the reader comes to understand just how horrifying it must have been to grow up in small town Mississippi during this time. She loves her father, and she loves her mother, and she loves Zenie, and she is completely oblivious to the tension between them.

It is Florence's innocence, really, that makes this book so amazing. Somehow, Minrose Gwin manages to reveal all to the reader through a narrator that didn't understand all. She composes an intricate, complicated story with well-developed characters and believable, torturous events. I have no doubt in my mind that some of these things probably happened. Nothing could have prepared me for my reaction to this book. I'd heard that it was painful, I'd heard that it hurt to read, but it was more than that. Florence's innocence and the way she was just pulled along by the events, by the horrors that her father committed and her mother's inability to escape him, was torturous. I felt for her, I cried for her, I wished that someone would explain things to her, but at the same time I was glad that they didn't. Because she might not have survived if she had really understood her father.

Racism was such a big issue back then, and Minrose Gwin approached this issue in a valid, believable, horrifying way. It's obvious that Gwin herself must have grown up in a place where racism is still a palpable thing. There is no way that she could have described it with such precision and grace otherwise. It felt like she was in the minds of her characters, and as such, I felt able to step into their shoes for a moment. And I wanted out.

I don't really know what else to say, other than read this book. The summary calls the summer turbulent, and that really is the best word I can think of to describe this book. Turbulent. Turbulence that you will enjoy. It's not an easy read, and you can't expect it to be. But it is enjoyable, and it will affect you, and you will be glad that you did decide to read it.


"I need you to understand how ordinary it all was. . . ."

In the turbulent southern summer of 1963, Millwood's white population steers clear of "Shake Rag," the black section of town. Young Florence Forrest is one of the few who crosses the line. The daughter of a burial insurance salesman with dark secrets and the town's "cake lady," whose backcountry bootleg runs lead further and further away from a brutal marriage, Florence attaches herself to her grandparents' longtime maid, Zenie Johnson. Named for Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, Zenie treats the unwanted girl as just another chore, while telling her stories of the legendary queen's courage and cunning.

The more time Florence spends in Shake Rag, the more she recognizes how completely race divides her town, and her story, far from ordinary, bears witness to the truth and brutality of her times—a truth brought to a shattering conclusion when Zenie's vibrant college-student niece, Eva Greene, arrives that fateful Mississippi summer.

Minrose Gwin's The Queen of Palmyra is an unforgettable evocation of a time and a place in America—a nuanced, gripping story of race and identity.

Cover Story: I love this cover. Florence's innocence and sadness is conveyed perfectly. It is so appropriate.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by the publisher. This in no way affected my review.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Nihon no Kinyoubi (3)

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a new feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

Last week in Japanese class, we read a short 10 to 15 sentence story called "Hachiko." It was SO sad that I literally started CRYING IN CLASS. I would have been embarrassed, but I was too depressed from how sad it was. Basically, a professor finds a dog, an Akita, which is a royal Japanese dog, and they do everything together. One day, the professor dies, and every single day for the next *9* years, the dog goes to the train station to wait for his professor to come home. It's really the sweetest story ever.

I of course immediately came home after class and watched the US movie version of this story with Richard Gere. I heard that us Americans had DESTROYED the story, but the fact is, the movie was wonderful. It was so emotional and fabulous, and I must have cried for at least 4 hours. I started about midway through the movie and then just didn't stop until long after it was over. I highly recommend checking this movie out!

Now, I'm dying to read some longer versions of this story. So far I have found this, which seems to be a beautifully illustrated picture book:

and this

which seems to be for middle school aged kids.

Do you guys know this story? Do any of you have suggestions for books that might do it justice?

Now, what I want to know is, is there any story that has affected you this way? A story that brings tears to your eyes just at the mere thought of it. A story that could be summarized into ten sentences and would still make you cry? I want to know!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

And this week's pick is:

Kraken by China Mieville

Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: June 29, 2010

Summary: With this outrageous new novel, China MiĆ©ville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.

In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis dux—better known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.

As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens—human and otherwise—are adept in magic and murder.

There is the Congregation of God Kraken, a sect of squid worshippers whose roots go back to the dawn of humanity—and beyond. There is the criminal mastermind known as the Tattoo, a merciless maniac inked onto the flesh of a hapless victim. There is the FSRC—the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit—a branch of London’s finest that fights sorcery

with sorcery. There is Wati, a spirit from ancient Egypt who leads a ragtag union of magical familiars. There are the Londonmancers, who read the future in the city’s entrails. There is Grisamentum, London’s greatest wizard, whose shadow lingers long after his death. And then there is Goss and Subby, an ageless old man and a cretinous boy who, together, constitute a terrifying—yet darkly charismatic—demonic duo.

All of them—and others—are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.

I'm especially interested in this because, after reading the summary, I honestly have NO clue if I am going to LOVE it or HATE it. I really feel like it could go either way, but I'm doubting there will be an in between.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

IBBMP Review: Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Title: Bleeding Violet

Author: Dia Reeves


Who Should Read It? This is a great YA read for adults and young adults as well. I would recommend it for ages 13+, and I think as long as you don't mind a bit of paranormal, you will love this book! If you love paranormal, you will ADORE this book!

What I Have to Say:
Bleeding Violet is an amazing, unique work of YA fiction. Maybe it's just that I haven't read a lot of YA about crazy people, but it seems to me there was something strangely special about this book. And I absolutely do NOT use the word strange with a grain of salt. This book was excitingly fresh and totally, creatively out there. And it's all because of Hanna, the protagonist. She is the reason this book lived up to every expectation that I had of it. She is funny, outgoing, witty, sarcastic, slightly annoying, and best of all, completely crazy.

Reeve's gracefully flawless way of presenting things from Hanna's point of view allowed the reader to really feel what it was like to be in the head of a crazy person put into an even crazier situation. Without Hanna's calm yet absurd responses to her new town and the events that take place there, the town and said events would have probably felt too cheesy. But seeing them from Hanna's point of view, while reading, everything just flowed and felt almost normal. She felt normal, and her reactions seemed reasonable. It wasn't until after, in retrospect, that I realized just how crazy everything was.

The most amazing thing was Reeve's ability to hide, through Hanna's thoughts, the sheer ridiculousness of it all from me. That takes talent, and it seems to me that is exactly what Dia Reeves has. Talent. It's not normal to ONLY where frilly, homemade purple dresses. And to talk to fake swans and a dead dad. It's not normal to not know if the monsters you are seeing are real or just a part of your crazy, overactive imagination.

And yet, in Dia Reeve's world, it is. In Hanna's world, it is just par for the course. Because of this, I actually didn't know how the book was going to end, and that is a very rare occurrence for me. I tend to predict even the most non-predictable of books, much to my dismay. This book's lack of stability did not allow that for me.

Overall, I though Bleeding Violet was an utterly imaginative, well-written work of fiction, and there's a little something in it for all YA fans. I think those that will get the most out of it, though, and that will enjoy it as it is to be enjoyed, are those that can, in some way, relate to the craziness of Hanna. Everyone's a little bit crazy, and if you're open to an acknowledge that part of yourself, then you'll see a little bit of yourself in Hanna, and you'll love this book. I greatly look forward to what Dia Reeves will come up with next, once she has more refined her writing skills.

Summary:Love can be a dangerous thing....

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

Cover Story: I think this cover is extraordinarily sexy! It's got just the right amount of suspense and paranormal and purple, and it's wonderful!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me by review from Lenore as part of her International Book Bloggers Mentoring Program.

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