I think I'll start posting picture writing prompts of my own creation. The picture and the writing prompt I may source from other places, but their combination will be my very own :) Here's a few:

The prompt is from creativewritingprompts.com and the pic is from midwaysimplicity.com.

This one is all my own. Yay. The pic is a sample on 99pixts.

This prompt is my own, obviously. The pic is from allfinearts.com.
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Pic from turn-the-page.net
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder's brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to  fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an "honor" that no one has survived.

But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

Wow, what an amazing take on an overdone fairy tale! Woot! While at one end, it's a retelling of "Cinderella", at the other end, it's the first book of a series about relations between the Earth and the Moon - YAY! (Read a sample here. Also, if you have Google Wallet set up, you can get the first five chapters as a free Google Ebook.)

Cinder's concept was so original - in a dystopian setting, as a cyborg? Did you ever think of Cinderella like that? I loved how she always came up with defiant replies to her stepmother's insults, which was so unlike the conventional, obedient, overly nice Cinderella.

I love that it's set in post-World War IV Asia... but that's just me, I guess.

So the next book is called Scarlet and I will hunt it down as soon as it comes out! Cheers!!
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Photo from snakecharmerbook.com
In the fall of 2001, deep in the jungle of Burma, a team of scientists is searching for rare snakes. They are led by Dr. Joe Slowinski, at thirty-eight already one of the most brilliant biologists of his time. It is the most ambitious scientific expedition ever mounted in this remote region, venturing into the foothills of the Himalayas. The bold undertaking is brought to a dramatic halt by the bite of the many-banded krait, the deadliest serpent in Asia. In the moment he pulled his hand from the specimen bag and saw the krait, Joe knew that his life was in grave and imminent peril. Thus began one of the most remarkable wilderness rescue attempts of modern times, as Joe's teammates kept him alive for thirty hours by mouth-to-mouth respiration, waiting for a rescue that never came.

A daredevil obsessed with venomous snakes since his youth, Slowinski was a modern-day adventurer who rose quickly to the top of his field, discovering many previously unidentified snake species in his brief yet exhilarating career. 

Yay, nonfiction! This is my first nonfiction book review, and fitting... it's an adventure story... *sighs*

Anyway, it was some really intense stuff. I read really slowly when it comes to nonfiction, so it was a little painful to have to struggle through this. It was well worth it, though. In rich prose, Jamie James (I cannot get enough of that name XD) illustrated Joe Slowinski's life and death in great detail, especially in the Burmese jungle when Joe was dying.

I loved that I did not know anything about herpetology or Burma before this, and it was an enriching experience to read this book. I say go for it and read!
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Pic from animegirlsbookshelf.blogspot.com
Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything”—at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store. This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
--From Sarah Dessen's website

Okay, so this is actually my first taste of Sarah Dessen. I know, right? It's like, YOU HAVEN'T READ ANY SARAH DESSEN?! Well, yeah, okay? I have to confess, I was uninterested until now because it seemed like shallow chick lit to me.

Sadly for me, it WASN'T. So now I have to start tearing my hair out over not reading it all these years...

I really liked Annabel. Her inner struggles were just so well portrayed, and it made me want to just hug her and say, "It's going to be okay." 

Her family was really lovable, too... Whitney and Kirsten eventually getting along, Annabel's fragile-looking but resilient mom, her dad...

I know this is waaay too many paragraph breaks, but I just want to say... I loved this book. Will begin devouring other books by Sarah Dessen. But will not stoop to fangirl status. Ever.
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Um... yeah, so I guess you should read the title. The background, plus some of these button thingies, I got from shabbyblogs.com - you should totally check it out! They have the cutest buttons and backgrounds... ever... then I just switched colors and fonts and things.

Do you like it? Also comment on what I should do the next time I do a blog makeover!!
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Picture from book-review-circle.com
The Time Machine is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 and later adapted into two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction in many media. This story is generally credited with the popularisation of the concept of time travel using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively. The term "time machine", coined by Wells, is now universally used to refer to such a vehicle. This work is an early example of the Dying Earth subgenre.
--Taken from the Wikipedia article on The Time Machine

The Time Machine was altogether a very abstruse narrative of one unnamed man's travels into the deep future. I read it on my Kindle, where it's free due to its classic status. 

The book was initially narrated in first person by an unnamed narrator. Then, however, the mood shifted as he (presumably) transcribed the Time Traveller's telling of his voyage on the Time Machine. The Time Traveller's name was never revealed.

It's an interesting portrayal of the future, where the Golden Age of Mankind has already passed, and the species is crumbling. The technological advances commonly seen in science fiction were absent, which was definitely refreshing after the slew of dystopian novels that have been plaguing me these days. Yeah, I know this book was written a realllly loong time ago, but the relieving effect remains the same. I mean, everything seems so clichéd these days that anything different is such a rush, you know?

It was a sort of unprecedented way to think of the demise of humans, and the ruined splendor of the aftermath of human folly. I know that I never thought of the end of the world the way it was delineated in The Time Machine.

I generally don't like science fiction classics (i.e., Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, etc. etc.) very much - I mean, they're deep and all, but the science fiction elements and the slow prose of old books just doesn't click for me. The Time Machine was actually okay... I mean, for such an old book. Yeah.

Okay, now before I start rambling, I should wrap up the review, right? So The Time Machine was a fairly quick read, for all its archaic terms that are inevitable with any classic book. I say go for it if you're okay with really deep thoughts and a slightly confusing setup. Plus, it's free!!! YAY
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I suddenly feel like bragging about all the love this humble blog is receiving. (Okay, so it's not much, but still.) So, some pretty graphs and tables from my Stats tab, courtesy of Blogger!!

Pageviews by Countries
Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States
United Kingdom
Pageviews by Browsers
29 (38%)
Internet Explorer
29 (38%)
9 (12%)
5 (6%)
3 (4%)
Image displaying most popular browsers
Pageviews by Operating Systems
66 (88%)
5 (6%)
2 (2%)
2 (2%)
Image displaying most popular platforms

I just thought this was cool... so yeah :)

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Pic from cclapcenter.com
Washington Square is a short novel by Henry James. Originally published in 1880 as a serial in Cornhill Magazine and Harper's New Monthly Magazine, it is a structurally simple tragicomedy that recounts the conflict between a dull but sweet daughter and her brilliant, domineering father. The plot of the novel is based upon a true story told to James by his close friend, British actress Fanny Kemble. The book is often compared to Jane Austen's work for the clarity and grace of its prose and its intense focus on family relationships. James was hardly a great admirer of Jane Austen, so he might not have regarded the comparison as flattering. In fact, James was not a great fan of Washington Square itself. He tried to read it over for inclusion in the New York Edition of his fiction (1907–1909) but found that he couldn't, and the novel was not included. Other readers, though, have sufficiently enjoyed the book to make it one of the more popular works of the Jamesian canon.
--Taken from the Wikipedia article on Washington Square

I've always loved Jane Austen, and Washington Square's similarity to her writing struck me immediately. However, perhaps because it was written by an American author and was written eight or nine decades later than the works of Austen, it is less difficult to read through - in short, a slightly quicker read than, say, Persuasion.

Unlike Jane Austen's heroines, Catherine Sloper was a totally bland MC. I didn't like her very much - what was really interesting was the relationship between Catherine and her father. Dr. Sloper was really unfair (it seems like I'm reading a lot of books featuring unfair parents nowadays), and I hated how he was so blindly prejudiced against Morris and Catherine's relationship from the very beginning.

Kinda hard to review a classic.... so anyway, it was pretty good, but JANE AUSTEN IS BETTER. SO GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND READ PRIDE AND PREJUDICE ALREADY!
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Pic from bookharbinger.com

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

I loved this book. It was amazing and beautiful, and mark my words, I WILL find the next book. I don't think I've ever read as well done of a desert adventure, except for maybe in Ranger's Apprentice, which has to be one of my favorite series of all time.

Elisa was a wonderful, believable protagonist whose insecurity was really well-written - something all writers strive for. I sympathized with her the whole way through, as she fretted about her inadequacy and appearance. Elisa's transformation as the book went on was truly remarkable - her self-esteem, appearance, everything changed completely, revealing her to be the strong girl that everyone knew she could be - everyone but herself.

The description, keenly observant even in the dullest moments, captured my attention and held it throughout the entire book. The premise, with all of its religious issues, was captivating - I love books about kingdoms with religious problems. I don't know why. 

In short, AMAZING BOOK - YOU MUST READ IT OR ELSE!!!!!! Seriously, I wouldn't be threatening my awesome audience if it wasn't that good. PLEASE READ.
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Okay, so I'm definitely not an artsy girl. How can you resist when you have an art app on an iPad, though? The app is called Procreate and yeah. I couldn't think of a better title, so - I present - Forest's Daughter!!

If you plan to use this for anything, please credit me... Starflower Hunting :)
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Photo from goodreads.com
Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated, that is until she saves her crushes life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her its next fairytale victim.

To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.

Well... it was okay, I guess. I hate the cover, though. And the title. And the MC's name. Yeah, I hate a lot of things, and the plot was only slightly original, so I didn't really like it, I guess.

Mina had no substance as a main character, and Brody didn't have any either... just your stereotypical sweet, overprotective rich boy. Nan was just another Tweeting, texting best friend.


I won't rant about it any more.
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Photo from goodreads.com
Welcome to the Festival of Roses, a world full of magic and romance. Every year during the festival each boy leaves a flower at the door of the girl he believes is the "fairest of them all." Naturally, Snow White gets dozens of flowers, while her younger sister Rose Red is ignored. This year, though, things are different. For the first time, Rose Red has a mysterious admirer, and this year she isn't the only one jealous of her sister's beauty. But even though it’s a time of celebration, when girls begin disappearing, the festival turns deadly. With mysterious strangers arriving every day, an ominous marriage proposal, and magic and danger everywhere, Snow White and Rose Red will need to work together to survive the festival and solve the mystery.

I loaded this book onto my Kindle upon seeing on the Top Free list (strange... I checked the Kindle store again upon finishing it and it is now $2.99...). Though, like most free Kindle fiction books I've read, it needed some polishing up (i.e., grammar, spelling, dialogue, vocab usage, etc.), it was a okay read, and I liked how Rose Red is included in this story. There's a Grimm fairy tale called "Snow-white and Rose-red", and you can read it here. Although the book had nothing to do with the original fairy tale, I liked it all the same, and Rose's natural jealousy is done pretty well.

The rose-centered economy of the little village was really interesting, as well as the Festival itself. The plot is kind of disjointed and incomplete, but the basic storyline is all there... just not enough backstory to fully satisfy me.

I didn't get why Snow immediately fell for the Huntsman... as well as the point of Imerine being the witch, yada yada ya etc. A quick, okay read for bored people like me... not bad.
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Photo from goodreads.com
Rose has always been different.

Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose's birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home... but she can't suppress Rose's true nature forever.

So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it - in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family - she readily agrees.

Rose travels on the bear's broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart - and finds her purpose - and realizes her journey has only just begun.

Amazing book. This is another retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" (here's the link to the original fairy tale), like the book Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow that I reviewed a while ago. However... I was very put out after reading this, not because it was bad but because Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow seemed to be almost plagiarizing East!!!! GAH.

East was a lot more realistic and developed, and the switching of the first-person perspectives helped the reader get to know the family better - and was therefore a better justification of Rose's leaving home with the white bear, because you really got to care about them. I loved how the White Bear's perspective was expressed in disjointed, free-verse poetry... really made the whole thing more beautiful.

The trolls being beautiful and clever made them more formidable as opponents, unlike in Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, where they were stupid and garish, unable to make anything for themselves. The four winds in East were embodied by actual people, which was far awesomer (SHUT UP about my grammar) in my opinion, and made them all the more important.

Rose's family was just... amazingly lovable. Her superstitious, foolish mother, her father with a guilty conscience, Neddy with his bad poetry... the one thing I noticed was that there was never a section from Rose's mother's POV, which I thought was weird. Then again, Rose's relationship with her mother was... strained, because Rose was a "north-born".

As you can probably tell, I loved East... some really nice fantasy stuff going on here. I may look for more books by Edith Pattou in the near future... 5 of 5.
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Picture from libraryladyhylary.blogspot.com
Once known as the western coast of the United States, the Republic is now a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors, the Colonies.

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy. Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country, she is being groomed for success in the Republic's highest circles.

Born into the slums of the Republic's Lake Sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect. Now, caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June tries desperately to avenge Metias's death.

But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.

Very good. *enthusiastic applause and cheering* This is one of those great books that no one's ever heard of. I know, I know, yet another dystopian novel. But this one's actually a real standout. (Love the cover too.) What I love is the contrast between June and Day's two worlds and the Republic's subtlety in being a dystopia.

June and Day are complete opposites, but they work so well together because of their mutual geniusness (Yeah, I know, I know, not a real word, but whatever.). Day is a criminal, June is devoted to fighting them, etc. etc. It's apparently based on Les Miserables, which I haven't read yet.

Plain and simple, I loved this. A lot. One of my favorite books, I think. Will look for next book. Feeling too lazy to write in complete sentences or do more analysis... :)
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Photo from melissacwalker.com
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents  took her to the Louvre... to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria... to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own - scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster's priceless art collection has been stolen and he wants it returned. Only a master thief could have pulled off this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.

For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and, hopefully, just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's (very crooked) history - and with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

A fairly fun, light read, though having your entire family's safety in jeopardy seems like a serious subject. I love Ally Carter's action heroines because they're funny, cute, and treat the whole thing with a lot of levity. I say this because I've also read some of her Gallagher Girls series, which I like a lot (you should try it... preview the first book here).

Now, the most recent book with a thief as a protagonist that I've read is StarCrossed, and it was fantasy set in a kingdom with religious issues. You may understand why I found Heist Society interesting. The whole tightly-knit, exclusive family business thing was appealing as well. It was weird the way the others (meaning everyone in the crew who was not Kat) tried to exclude Nick at first. (Okay, so he was working with Interpol, which was totally unexpected.) But that's not the point at all.

The combination of witty characters, a hint of romance, world travel, and a stolen art collection make for a great read for someone who's bored and wants a spot of fun. I'd like to personally recommend this book as a nice, chick-lit-ish ride. I'll be reading the next book, Uncommon Criminals.
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NOTE: This is NOT a retelling. This is a fairy tale of my own writing. So enjoy! ~Starflower Hunting

Long ago and far away, there lived a young woman in a little woodland village. Nature had made her a true beauty, with long, fair hair, fine as spun gold, and deep blue eyes, clear and cloudless as the summer sky. But this girl, she must have been the most selfish, impudent, greedy, mean-spirited girl alive. And so those summer-sky eyes became piggish and watery, and in eating more than both her poor parents combined, her arms and legs became weak and fleshy. Her good parents fretted and became thinner by the day, the young men of the village lamented over the pretty girl she could have been, the other girls despised her, she was known through, over, and around the village as "pig-girl", and she should have been miserable. Despite that, the good-for-nothing girl was just as happy as a fat pig rolling around in its own stench.

Image from chrisgeorgephotography.com
“Get me some bread!” the pig-girl cried. “And some milk and butter while you’re at it!” She smiled smugly, admiring herself in her cracked looking-glass, a rarity in such an isolated village. Her old mother shuffled away, her joints creaking and her expression sorrowful.

“Fairy Queen curse the pig-girl,” the villagers said as the old woman came out to milk the cow. It was their way of sympathizing with the girl’s mother, for a Fairy Queen curse was not to be taken lightly. It wasn't for naught that new mothers told their children, "Quiet, or the Fairy Queen'll get you." But for the first time, that day, the old woman replied.

“Aye, Fairy Queen curse my daughter.”

And the Fairy Queen heard.

Image from fanpop.com
The Fairy Queen held her court in a distant fortress, above the crests of the highest mountains and below the dark earth. It was in the vast throne room that the Fairy Queen heard this curse. The fairies stopped their reveling and listened as the unknowing old woman's words echoed through the hall. The queen lifted her delicate head to the skies and paused, taking in the sound and the silence afterwards. Then, in a surprisingly sonorous voice for such a delicate fairy, she spoke to the court.

"Well, well, well. Shall we oblige?"

The fairy court, always ready for a spot of fun against the frail humans, nodded vigorously as one. Their queen's lips twisted into a cruel smile. And this is the part, every time this story's told, when I realize that fairies can be deadly, dangerous, and clever. The Fairy Queen snapped her fingers, and nobody ever believes me when I tell them what happened next.

The pig-girl found herself in the throne room. Confused, hungry, and grumpy, she snapped at the first creature she saw. Unfortunately for her, that happened to be the Fairy Queen herself.

"Where's my milk and bread? I can't starve! You can't let me starve!" she cried indignantly.

The Fairy Queen (I would tell you her name too, but no one knows it) laughed, high, clear, and cold. She turned to her court and gave a knowing smile and turned back to face the girl.

"My, where are your manners? I just so happen to be the Fairy Queen!" she cried suddenly, frightening the daylights out of the pig-girl. The Fairy Queen steeled herself and gave the pig-girl one more chance before she carried out the old woman's request, for disrespect was a thing not tolerated within her court. "I'll say this again. You will not speak to me in that fashion. Now pay a queen the respect she deserves."

The pig-girl remained silent, crossing her arms and pointing her nose up in a way that had always made her mother relent. The brilliance of the fairy court was too much for her small mind to process, dulling her instincts and causing her to ignore the one that said, "Apologize, apologize."

Instead she said haughtily, "The Fairy Queen? Is it not said that the Fairy Queen has a scepter of leviathan bone? Is it not said that she has a face that will curdle new milk, yet make flowers bloom? Show me these things and I may yet believe you." With that she smiled in her own impudent words.


That's exactly what happened. The Fairy Queen, laying down her scepter, lifted her long white hands and the room grew dark and the sky stormy. With the air of an entity beyond the sun and behind the moon, eyes glowing in fiery rage, she intoned:

Girl, they call thee, girl of swine
Cursed have thou become.

Live up to thy sobriquet,
Spend all thy days
Rolling around in the muck.

Forever thou shalt wander
In the blazing sun
Unless thine eyes can spy
The chest forever closed.

Open it, and bring its contents
Whole in sum to me
Then I may
End thy curse
Lessons all learned.

The light in the throne room faded to normal, the air heavy and humid with magic. The pig-girl found that she could not move. When she tried to speak, all that came out were the snuffles and grunts of a real pig, without a trace of girl. Panicking, she squealed. The fairy court burst out laughing, in such a way as has never been heard by man since.

When next she opened her eyes, the pig-girl found herself in a meadow. A swineherd boy was corralling her into a pigpen, and despite her frantic efforts at escape, he held her firm. Food sloshed into the trough, and the other pigs rushed forth greedily. The pig-girl saw that if she did not push through, she would starve. And though she was frightened and her wits had nearly left her, she could not starve. With her bulk, the pig-girl shoved the others aside and began to lap at the trough. The indignant pigs charged at her, and, whimpering inwardly, the pig-girl admitted defeat.
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Yeah, I know I haven't been posting much of my own material lately. I've been preoccupied with... well, many things. I know it's a bad excuse, but bear with me!
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Photo from wickedawesomebooks.com
Talk about terrible timing... 

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. With her powers locked inside her, Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies - the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that's what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn't so sure.

The only known spell that can help Sophie regain her magic is at Hex Hall - the place where it all began, and now the headquarters of the evil Casnoffs. Together with her best friend, the vampire Jenna; her boyfriend, Archer; her fiancé, Cal (yeah, her love life is complicated); and a ghost for a sidekick, Sophie must battle an army of demons. But even with her friends at her side, the fate of all Prodigium rests on her shoulders alone.

Sophie's bound for one hell of a ride... Can she get her powers back before it's too late?

I love this series. There are two - no, three things about it that irk me, however:
  • The black cat on all of the covers that has nothing to do with the story
  • Archer Cross
  • The way Cal is so much more awesome than Archer but Sophie is way more into Archer
Let me rant a little about Archer Cross. I HATE THIS GUY. A LOT. He is unreasonable, stupid, and Sophie is waaaay too good for him, but doesn't seem to know that. GAH!!!!

Cal and Jenna are super sweet and awesome, and I find it unfair that Cal died and Archer didn't. I know, right? Jenna is like, the awesomest (I know that's not a word) best friend ever. She literally walked INTO THE UNDERWORLD for Sophie. If that's not awesome, I don't know what is.

Sophie is as snarky and funny as ever. End of story.

Elodie... was kinda scary, but ultimately pretty nice. Sophie and Elodie got over their little coven/Archer  troubles eventually.

4.5 of 5. This book was action-packed, funny, and a great read... The one thing I can't figure out... is Spell Bound the end of the series???
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Picture from myramcentire.blogspot.com
One hour to rewrite the past...

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not change her future, it may also change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does it feel like an electric current runs through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Hourglass was quite possibly the most original book I've read in a very long time. A really good book with strong, believable characters. I love the cover, too.

Emerson was a great protagonist, and interesting because I haven't read very many rich MCs other than royalty. She really dealt with the whole "Oh yeah, you can travel in time" thing well, which was endearing. Plus she was very sarcastic, which I liked a lot. Her uncertainty was very well portrayed, and her best friend was awesome :)

Michael is a weird guy. He is overprotective and jealous, and some mention of his having a hero complex...? Yeah. I also didn't get... was Emerson pretty or something? Because why would a guy like him like a girl like her???

However, I really liked Hourglass and I'll be looking for the next book. 5 of 5.
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Pic from ebookstore.sony.com
POMPEII, AD 79 ~ Julia and Sura lead opposite yet inextricably linked lives. Julia is the daughter of a wealthy shipbuilder; Sura was kidnapped from her parents as a small child. Julia bears the Curse of Venus - a withered arm; Sura's beauty turns heads. Julia is free; Sura is her slave.

The summer has already been a trying one for Julia, with two older sisters' weddings to endure. Then she begins to suspect that her parents have a terrible plan in mind that will affect not only Julia's life but Sura's as well.

Yet what no one in Pompeii suspects is that beneath the verdant vineyards that grow on Mount Vesuvius, a beastly volcano slumers. When it finally erupts, it forges a path of destruction that throws everyone's futures into question, and forces Julia and Sura to confront the true meaning of freedom.

I hate the title. I'm sorry. I don't know why. The book was okay, and the historical setting was very interesting, as I haven't read very many books concerned with Ancient Rome. The characters of Julia and Sura are great foils for each other, and this relationship is pretty much summed up in the first paragraph of the blurb.

The unfairness of Julia's family is unbearable. They're just like the Dursleys, except they're not British and there are no sons. Julia's sister Cornelia is just really spiteful for no reason, though. Okay, so less mundanely evil, more ruin-your-life evil. I didn't really get why Julia didn't want to go to that convent, though.

The weirdest moment in the book is probably when Sura slapped Julia when Vesuvius was erupting. It showed that Sura is spiritually a lot stronger than Julia. (Yeah, I liked Sura waaay better than Julia, I have to admit.)

Although I found this book in the juvenile section, there are a couple parts that might not be suitable for younger kids (i.e., the part where the ladies step on the genitals of Mercury in the baths).

Overall maybe 3 stars. Not too bad, I guess.
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Is nineteenth-century England ready for the magic and mischief of Kat Stephenson?

Kat Stephenson may have inherited her mother's magical talents, but not everyone in the Order of the Guardians is ready to accept her. When she is tricked into losing her temper in front of the most powerful Guardian in England, she finds herself expelled without a single magic lesson.

After a devastating accusation shatters her sister Angeline's romance, their stepmama whisks the family away to the fashionable city of Bath and orders Angeline to find a new fiancé. But as Angeline plays a dangerous game with a scandalous rake, their brother, Charles, tumbles headlong into danger... and Bath's wild magic gets ready to explode.

With more than one life at stake, will Kat's untrained magic be enough to reunite Angeline with her true love, conquer the danger at Bath, and prove she truly has what it takes to be a Guardian?

I find the historical setting of this series very weird. I mean, Regency England? Come on! But it's interesting how the setting, with all of its values on propriety, restricts Kat's freedom and magic. The second book is some more light fantasy, with hilarious family relations.

Anyway, this series is really pretty sweet juvenile stuff. The fantasy is creative, and I don't think I ever imagined Bath as a city of "wild magic". The rules of the magic in the Kat, Incorrigible series are well thought out, adding.. well, credibility, I suppose (or as much as you can get). The family relationships knotting the whole thing together are very believable, although sometimes I got so "UGGHHHH!!!" because everyone misunderstands Kat so much. I guess that's the point, endearing poor spunky, unappreciated Kat to the reader.

Angeline was really evil, I must say. Without the eldest sister, Elissa, to keep her in check, Angeline was, like, diabolical, almost as much as Lady Fotherington. However, her mischief added a new layer to the story that was somewhat effective. (I also really didn't get the point of having Elissa as a character in the first book if she was just going to go off and get married to a rich guy.)

Lady Fotherington was a villain with quite a dubious motive. It just didn't seem realistic that she would be jealous of Kat's mother because Kat's father was her "true love". I mean, wasn't "Papa" supposed to be bookish and absentminded? I had a bit of a complaint about that. It also didn't seem realistic that Lord Ravenscroft would be a traitor to England. Seriously? The French? Yeah, sure, whatever. 

Overall, the second book in the Kat, Incorrigible series didn't disappoint as a fun, light second book.
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Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (a.k.a. witches, shapeshifters, and faeries). But then she discovered the family secret, and the fact that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie's a demon, one of only two in the world - the other being her father. What's worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will either destroy her powers for good - or kill her.

But once Sophie arrives, she makes a shocking discovery. Her new housemates? They're demons too. Meaning, someone is raising demons in secret, with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they're using Archer to do it. but it's not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

So yeah, that pretty much spoiled half of Hex Hall for you quite nicely. This is the blurb on the inside jacket of the book. I've decided to source them from the inside jacket of the book now. Those seem to be more reliable. But I digress.

Demonglass was kind of disappointing. The climax was not that great, and the whole thing about the Casnoffs suddenly seizing control of the Council was unrealistic. However, the interesting thing about involving demons in a supernatural fiction book is probably going to keep me on.

Sophie Mercer was as snarky and sarcastic as ever. Except she would notice it every few paragraphs, which was annoying. Also I hated how weak she was being, not telling anyone all of those secrets weighing down her mind. It was like, oh, I should tell Jenna or Dad something about this, but I just can't face them and I don't feel like it, so I won't.

Archer Cross? I'm really getting to hate him now. Unreasonable, not even funny anymore, gaaahhhh!!!!!!! I mean, Cal totally deserves Sophie more!!! And I'm screaming this throughout the book!!!!! (Yes, Cal is betrothed to Sophie. Interesting, huh?

This review is rife with spoilers. I'll just give it a 3 of 5 and call it good. *bleh*
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How do you defy destiny? Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is, no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history. As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together and trying to tear them apart.

Beautiful and original. I mean, obviously Helen was a modern-day Helen of Troy but that's not the point. The point is that it's a refreshing take on demigods after the whole Percy Jackson thing. The Percy Jackson books were great and everything, but all they really did was fight monsters. Starcrossed was also a lot more complex with the ancestry and blood feud and seeing the Furies and stuff. 

Helen overall wasn't that good of a character - not much edge or development. Lucas was really overprotective of her. I think Angelini spent too much time trying to develop the family and the antagonists (but hey, what do I know?). 

Not much else to say. I liked the book overall and will be looking for Dreamless, the second book in the series.
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"You can't touch me," I whisper. I'm lying, is what I don't tell him. He can touch me, is what I'll never tell him. But things happen when people touch me. Strange things. Bad things. Dead things. 

No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time--and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.

Really intense and beautiful. This book is probably one of my favorites because although it's yet another dystopian, post-apocalyptic novel with a female protagonist, it has a better premise and an original protagonist. The prose is clear, memorable, and yes, shattering.

Juliette was one of those saintly types (i.e., Jane Bennet, Harry Potter). However, she had a backstory that made me genuinely care about her - good for her. Adam was also a saintly type. The two were just perfect for each other, obviously.

Warner, the main antagonist, was just sick. He was obsessed with Juliette in this twisted way, wanting her to want him but threatening her and forcing her to torture innocent civilians. It was a great character foil to pure, too-nice Juliette.

The dystopian thing was dystopian for real, as in, the environment was ruined, the citizens were dying, etc. etc. It wasn't one of those dystopias where the society pretends to be perfect.

I'll be looking for Unravel Me, the next book of the series. Also check out Tahereh Mafi's website and blog - they are so cute! And remember that the covers are being changed, so look for this cover (cool, huh?): 
Picture from stiryourtea.blogspot.com

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