November 5, 2012

Irish Moon (Moon Magick Series) by Amber Scott

by Ariel Turner

If I had of seen the front cover of this book before I read it, I might have been less shocked on the content. As it were, I read it on my Kindle, and being that the picture was really tiny and in black and white, I didn’t notice the half-naked man on the cover.

It features Brianne O’Donnell, a young woman in the 1300′s learning Druid magick from an eccentric old man called Heremon as well as her familiar, a talking black cat. Learning the ways of old in the heart of Ireland is exciting at the best of times, but when a handsome stranger washes up on shore the same night her mentor is murdered, Brianne’s whole world starts to spin. She doesn’t know who to trust, or where to turn for she can barely trust herself. Brianne and the stranger join together to try and solve the mystery of Heremon’s death and in the process get tangled in a snare all their own. Lust, love and adventure spiral together until Brianne isn’t sure which way is up, which is down and which is truth.

This happens to be the first book I read on my Kindle. It’s the very first one I downloaded and I chose it for two key reasons: it was cheap, and it was about Ireland. I’m Irish, my husband’s Irish; it seemed like a good choice. I was completely unprepared for the raunchy intimate scenes. The passages weren’t long, a few pages at most but when you aren’t expecting it, it kind of hits you. They were tasteful; they sat a very fine line between suggestive and seductive. I’m not normally one for raunchy books, but Amber Scott writes beautifully and these sections were spread out, giving you nice breathers in between. Not a bad read for my first soft erotica.

On the other hand, although the writing itself was good, the characters and plot line were a little flat. Brianne changes her mind too often giving her character an adolescent feel which, after reading the aforementioned snippets, I wasn’t overly fond of. The stranger, Ashlon, though I did quite like him, lacks a little depth. The mystery surrounding him didn’t strike me as essential, I understand it was but for some reason it didn’t grab me. The things that did grab my attention were ultimately left unanswered. The cat for instance, and the young boy she treats as her brother. I was just left feeling a little confused and unsatisfied, even though I had enjoyed the journey. I suppose the whole book reads like a wooing; the attraction, the flirtation, the seduction, the lust, the love and ultimately, the lack of climax.

And on that note I’m going to give this review an 18A rating.

Enjoy.

November 4, 2012

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

by Ariel Turner

The Happiness Project is one woman’s journey to become happier. That is not to say she wasn’t happy already, but somehow life felt a little, stressful. Gretchen Rubin is a successful author, a mother of two, a wife, she has a great life, and yet one day, sitting on a bus she realized something; she was floating. She was letting her happiness slip away by being too serious, procrastinating and overall lacking the fulfillment of simple, everyday joy. So Gretchen set out to change and dedicated one year of her life to remember love, boost energy, make time and pursue passions. The Happiness Project is her way of sharing this experience with the world. Since this book, Gretchen has also written Happier at Home and has a very successful blog, happiness-project.com. She is considered a forefront in the modern path to cheerier, more laid-back lives.

I admit that I did not want to read this book. In book club, it was someone else’s month to choose. When the story was explained to me, I thought it seemed hokey, when I read the description, it seem pretentious. I had no mind to even remotely like this book. After all, did I really need to read about becoming happier? As it turns out, yes, yes I did.

Gretchen has some amazing suggestions, some of them I had thought of and some I hadn’t, but her portrayal of the ideas is what makes it unique. She admits that she isn’t depressed; she just wants to be more appreciative of the little things, and even the bigger things, in life. In the first chapter when she states she has no pre-disposition to mental illness or depression my first thought was “then why are you writing this book?” well by the next chapter I discovered why. She wrote this book for all those people in the in-between; the people who don’t have a book directed towards them about being happier. There are plenty of guides on managing depression and being more contented and fulfilled if you suffer from something. There are not as many guides on being happier for the everyday person. It is hard to appreciate the finer things in life when we are busy on the unimportant.

As much as I enjoyed this book and as much as I learned from her journey, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The chapters are written by the month, and around August, things start to fade. Her enthusiasm wavers, she starts to include more entries about the thoughts and opinions of her blog readers then she includes of her own content, and it reads as if she’s wants to abandon the project. However, there is still valid, useful information; you just have to search for it.

The Happiness Project surprised me, and then disappointed me a little. Overall, though, I’m glad I read it. I have been able to use many ideas and tips she recommended in the pursuit of my own happiness, of sorts. And although I won’t ever read this book again in its entirety, I won’t get rid of it either; it makes a wonderful reference guide. Gretchen has a fun, stylistic way of relating to her target audience and letting them know it is okay to feel blah, and that there is a way past it. The beauty is, it’s simpler then you think.

November 3, 2012

Various Positions by Martha Schabas

by Ariel Turner

Various Positions is extremely well written, especially for a first novel. Martha Schabas, a Toronto Canadian, absolutely knows her English. The overall mood of the book leaves many mixed feelings jumbling around inside.

It starts and ends with Georgia, a high school student at the beginning of losing her innocence. It’s evident early on her family isn’t functioning. Her father is a doctor and is never around and her mother’s depression is weighing on everyone. Georgia lands herself a spot at the prestigious, National Ballet School. There she discovers girls who are comfortable leaving adolescence and boys who are treating her in a whole new way. Confused, Georgia misinterprets their signals to devastating degrees. Georgia becomes infatuated with her dance teacher, Roderick Allen, and in trying to become his perfect student her blindness to reality overcomes her. Georgia threatens not only her future in ballet, but Roderick’s own career.

It’s important to note that this book is a little sexually explicate, so fair warning. The reason I chose it is because it demonstrates something that few fiction books I’ve come across have: the way women perceive their sexuality when they are entering high school. I think the answer is they don’t. Women have no idea how they are supposed to view themselves or how they are supposed to feel and they look for outside reassurance. Young girls have so many mixed messages thrown at them they don’t know how to act. Georgia is one of those girls. She pushes so hard not to become sexualized that she ends up with an opposing outcome. She turns her life into public domain, ruins other’s lives in the process and throws her future as a ballerina in the trash. On the one hand I feel pity for Georgia, her home life isn’t perfect, she had no guidance, no support – no mother teaching her how to be a woman or telling her right from wrong from crazy. In a sense, she is the victim.

On the other hand, (because yes, there is always two sides), she created all of the problems herself. She fabricates events inside her head, over-thinks until it completely changes the dynamic of her relationships and situations. The way Georgia responds to her actions is in a way, believable, and yet somehow tragic. She seems unable to take responsibility and in the culmination becomes a victim of the plague that is depression. You see it coming, you want to stop it, you want to slap Georgia across the face and tell her to smarten up. But then you also want to slap her parents and say, “Raise your child. Do you not see what you’re doing?” And in the end, no one really learns any lessons.

The writing is exceptional, the idea is interesting, the character development and the plot line are unfulfilling. So… like I said, I have mixed feelings. However, if you wanted to read it, I definitely wouldn’t try to stop you.

October 31, 2012

The Witches by Roald Dahl

by Ariel Turner

So I’m going to start with one review today. I know I said I have lots, and I do, but I don’t want to bombard you with updates. So for today, I will review the one. I’m going to start this blog off right by discussing an older book, and frankly, one of my favourites.

The Witches by Roald Dahl

This book is very underappreciated and it surprises me how many people haven’t heard of it. I want to put it out there for the next generation to rediscover and remember. Although it is a children’s book, it has a certain appeal to all age levels. It’s really about growing up, imagination and overcoming obstacles.

The story is about a boy, who goes to live with his grandmother due to his parent’s unfortunate accident. There he learns all about witches. Now, according to the mind of Roald Dahl, witches are fearsome, disgusting old hags who despise children and try to (secretly) rid the world of the despicable little creatures. They cast spells, they play tricks, they do anything they can to erase children. The grandmother knows everything about witches and tells the boy stories every night to prepare him in case he ever comes across one. When his grandmother becomes ill, she decides to take the boy to a retreat to relax and recharge. But upon arriving, they realize they are heading into the hotel hosting the annual witches’ convention. The boy encounters the Grand High Witch and she is all too happy to test out her new child extinguishing idea. What the Grand High Witch isn’t ready for is the determination and quick wit of this young little man.

This book is a classic. It reminds children they can be heroes and that imagination is essential to survival. For without imagination what do we have? Well, we have a bunch of blank pages in empty covers. Imagination fuels the soul and expands the mind and in this technological world of fast clicks and instant gratification we tend to forget that. As wonderful as it is to scroll social media and watch hilarious videos, it’s much more fulfilling to read creativity, or even better, write it. I think kids need to be reminded of youth and embrace it like we did, way back when. Another wonderful thing about this book is the main character has no name. That’s right, none. The book is written from his point of view, and his grandmother calls him my darling. Nowhere does it mention a name. I’ve read this book 3 times and it only occurred to me when I re-read it to write this review that he is nameless. It’s wondrous to me that a writer can go through the entire story without giving a title to the main character, the hero. Alas, that is the way it is. I feel this, again, has something to do with reminding the children who read it that they can be brave and smart and creative. You ARE the heroes of the world children, so expand those minds. Read some books!

October 31, 2012

Welcoming the Whimsical

by Ariel Turner

This is where we blog about books. Books we like, books we don’t, books we’ve read. It’s a place to read reviews on all types of books from various authors and many genres. It’s also a place for you to voice your opinions about a particular book. There is a virtual book club for those of you who want to connect with other book bound lovers. Most of all, have fun, be happy, and READ!

Ariel Turner
a whimsical reading enthusiastic

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