Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks

As a prizewinning foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Geraldine Brooks spent six years covering the Middle East through wars, insurrections, and the volcanic upheaval of resurgent fundamentalism. Yet for her, headline events were only the backdrop to a less obvious but more enduring drama: the daily life of Muslim women. Nine Parts of Desire is the story of Brooks' intrepid journey toward an understanding of the women behind the veils, and of the often contradictory political, religious, and cultural forces that shape their lives. Defying our stereotypes about the Muslim world, Brooks' acute analysis of the world's fastest growing religion deftly illustrates how Islam's holiest texts have been misused to justify repression of women, and how male pride and power have warped the original message of a once liberating faith.

Title: Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women
Published: December 1st 1995 by Anchor
ISBN: 0385475772 (ISBN13: 9780385475778)

As some of you read this review, you'll probably wonder why it sounds so much more formal compared to my regular reviews and why it's so long. Well, to answer your possible questions, it's an essay for my AP World History class, and since I've been doing nothing but read this book and write this essay, I don't really have anything else to post this week...so enjoy!

“Nine Parts of Desire,” written by Geraldine Brooks, gives readers a glimpse into another world through her first hand experiences as a reporter in predominantly Muslim countries. Because Geraldine Brooks was a Middle East news correspondent for two years, she covered stories and met people that average people could not, and wrote during the time of Khomeini’s death and conflicts in the Middle East. When she began, Brooks was outraged women were oppressed in such a way that she did not have the same rights as she would in Western cultures. She could not report in the same areas as men because women were considered a distraction, but later she realized she had been given a greater opportunity to write countless stories about women and gain knowledge about their daily lives.

Muhammad, the founder and prophet of Islam, received his first revelation from God after his first wife, Khadija, passed away. He was told, “Men are in charge of women, because God has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property [to support them].” Then after, he was told, “Marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice [to so many] then one [only]." However, Muhammad himself was the exception to this rule and took up eight or nine wives. Each of the wives was scrutinized by those against the new religion, and soon there jealousy grew against the prophet’s favorites. Because of this, Muhammad received another revelation from God telling him to seclude his wives and stay concealed in their rooms; they could only go out when they were completely covered. Soon the rules applied to the prophet’s wives spread to other Muslim women.

While Brooks didn’t have much to say about Saudi Arabia, she explains other countries aren’t always so restricted. In the United Arab Emirates there are women soldiers, and in Iran, women have been voted into Parliament. While Pakistan is the first Islamic country to elect a woman prime minister, Turkey has both a female economist and prime minister, and within Bangladesh, there is a woman prime minister and leader of the opposition.

Geraldine Brooks poses the question, “Islam did not have to mean oppression of women. So why were so many Muslim women oppressed?” It is not necessarily the religion of Islam that represses women, but rather it is the varying interpretations of the Islamic religion that create different cultural and political influences. For instance, many people assume genital mutilation in order to preserve a girl’s chastity is solely an Islamic practice, but in reality, Christians also do this. It is not either religion that sanctions this act, but occurs because it is a traditional African practice.

While genital mutilation is influenced by cultural traditions, it is the political influences in that deny women the right to stay in a hotel room without a husband, the right to drive a car, and the right to an education. Few girls are given the opportunity to an education and only because if parents are able to afford it, and the literacy rates in Saudi Arabia show this. By 1980, while 62% of men were literate, only 38% of women were literate. While countries have made strides in women suffrage, but there is still much work to be done.

Rana Kabbani, a Muslim woman wrote, “I am always pained by Western misconceptions about the lives of Muslim women. Western ignorance is often inseparable from a patronizing view that insists on seeing us as helpless victims, while hardly distinguishing between the very different cultures we come from.” While there is injustice towards women, they should not be considered weak. Despite everything that keeps females from doing what they want, they still manage to find ways to accomplish their goals. Because of the restrictions of the hijab, many women living in Islamic countries cannot compete in the Olympics. So in 1993, the first Islamic Women’s Games were to take place in Tehran. This alternative gives Muslim females the chance to do sports they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

When Emirates’ Muslim authorities were against recruiting women soldiers, they pointed out Nusaybah, a woman soldier who saved Muhammad’s life on the battlefield when all the men had run off. Soon a ragtag group of 74 women were chosen from over 1,200 applications. United States female specialists from Fort Bragg were to run a basic training course for these women. None of these women had been physically active, and were brought up to “lower their gaze and be modest,” so it was an immense change for them to learn to look their officers in the eye and go through four mile runs. Because of their accomplishments, some Emirates officers found it hard to acknowledge their success. Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Nasser, the commander of the academy, could not believe the shooting scores, and ordered the women to redo the test on the men’s shooting range. He was surprised to see each woman shoot with such precision that each bullet hit dead center of the target.

For years, Geraldine Brooks observed the lives of Muslim women. She sheds light on the injustice towards women in the world, but she also shows women who carry out their ambitions despite all the obstacles in the Islamic lifestyle. Whether that is to become a politician, or an athlete, or a soldier, these women pave the path for others to follow.

Finally finished!
Book Nerd and Proud,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: Second Stone by Kelly Walker

You are only a pawn if you don't know the game you are playing.

In the second installment in Souls of the Stones, the stakes are higher, the romance is hotter, and Emariya's power as a Cornerstone is growing.

DETERMINED TO MAKE SENSE OF THE BETRAYALS, lies, and her undeniable attraction to Torian, Emariya and her prince begin the journey to Sheas to confront her uncle and bring her father home.

Only days after leaving the castle, devastating news threatens to tear Torian and Emariya apart. Overcome by guilt, Emariya wants to repair the rift between them but first she must answer one important question: why can't she wake up?

A DEADLY FORCE HAS COME FROM THE SEA to claim its daughter, and if Torian wants to save Emariya, he'll first have to find a way to forgive her...and himself. That's easier said than done when both his sister and Emariya are counting on him at two separate ends of their world and the only people who might know how to help him are hiding in exile.

TO WIN THE BATTLE FOR THEIR LIVES, they will first have to win the battle for Emariya's mind. Only then can she rise up strong enough to face what she has to do.

Title: Second Stone
Series: Souls of the Stones #2
Published February 15th 2013 by Kelly Walker (first published February 1st 2013)
ISBN: 1482357100 (ISBN13: 9781482357103)
Warning: There isn't a way I can write this review without spoiling major plot points for Cornerstone (link to that review here), the first book in this series, and you've been forewarned so there shall be no complaining. 

Even from the beginning I was absolutely enthralled, after I had read that Riya's brother, Reeve, was behind all of it! I couldn't see him being evil, really, but, what you learn in the second book about that is also very interesting, and I thought unexpected. I thought this book had less twists, but more action and more romance between Torian and Riya. There might even be another couple forming, however unlikely it usually would be. 

Something I thought is important to mention is the flawless changing between POV's, and there were a quite a few of them. I never thought the transition was jumpy and erratic, plus in some books there's that annoying re-account of events that JUST happened, and truly provide no further information to the reader, but that didn't happen in this book. Even more important than that is that I could automatically tell who was speaking, I never encountered a moment when I was thinking: "Is this Riya or Jessa? Or maybe even Terin...?" 
Jessa groaned. "So he told you he loves you, and you said 'see you later.' Brilliant, Emariya.
Flashes of Torian's distant and strange looks earlier at the campfire came surging back. Once more, she pushed to her feet. "I think I need to go find Torian"
As I mentioned there's even more romance between Torian and Riya, I think they're a great couple. It started out as just an arranged married meant to bind the lines but now it's so much more than that. They both understand that part of their pull is because of them both being stones, but I think they would be in love even if there wasn't a pull. They make each other the best they can be, and that's a great kind of love. As mentioned in the description of the book, Riya does make a very bad (unintentional) decision, which really did test them. 

While Torian and Riya are very important, some pretty important things happen to other characters too. Riya's accidentally slip may end up risking the life of Terin, (I was really excited when I got to see things from her POV), and I don't think I'm spoiling anything because it basically says the same thing reworded in the description, plus you learn about this either at the end of the first book or during the first 10 pages of the second book. I can see the third book being important for Jessa, but this book was for Garith. He really grows, showing how strong and smart he is. He graciously takes the leadership he is given (but didn't ask for), leading better than most would've expected, and maybe even better than their formally trained leader did. Someone else you can't forget about is Riya's father, while we all know she's taking a trip to the Shea's to find her father when Reeve actually has him, and maybe they'll figure that out once they find out they've assumed the wrong person has had her father locked up for years. Will he finally be freed? 

While this book isn't free I totally believe it's totally worth the $5 it costs (as an eBook), I'm sad the series is ending with the next book but I'm also very excited to read it.  
Book Nerd and Proud,

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. 

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 

If I don't kill him first, that is.

Title: Obsidian
Series: Lux #1
Published: May 8th 2012 by Entangled Teen
ISBN: 1620610078 (ISBN13: 9781620610077)

For all you blog readers who have been here for awhile, just for your information, Jennifer Armentrout's writing is just as amazing as it was when I read the Covenant series that I fangirled over. There's just something that I love about a relationship that starts out with hate. Even though it's so obvious what will happen in the end, I enjoy it all the same. Like when I read The Host, I didn't expect an alien story to be so entertaining. When I think of aliens, I imagine those nerdy sci-fi movies, which for some odd reason have the hottest main characters. Anyways, this book is a must read!

Katy Swartz moves from Florida to a small town West Virginia before her senior year in high school. She is definitely one of my favorite female characters to read about...maybe it's because she's a reader and blogger like Kayla (HEY!) and I! 
"The day my internet was hooked up was better than having a hot guy check our my butt and ask for my phone number." 
Daemon Black...he definitely goes on the "Favorite Sexy Heroes" list up there with Jace and Will. The constant witty banter kept me laughing and I loved Daemon's arrogant attitude. Dee, his twin sister had a happy personality and befriends Katy when she first meets her. Daemon, being the protective brother that he is (doesn't that just make him hotter?!), doesn't want his sister hanging out with a human, because he knows that they can destroy his life. Why would that be? He's a freaking alien, that's why, and humans tend to enjoy poking, prodding, and experimenting on things that are unknown. Daemon and Dee are Luxen that take on a human form as they choose, but their real embodiment is light, and they have mind boggling powers. 

While Daemon and Katy try to avoid each other, they find themselves in situations together all the time. He teases and baits her which makes their relationship all the more fun. 
"Beautiful face. Beautiful body. Horrible attitude. It was the holy trinity of hot boys." 
Kiss or kill was the real question throughout the book. There were definitely some hot moments -fans self- which made even laptops explode...you'd get it if you read it. It was such a fun novel to read, and I will never make the mistake of waiting to read one of Armentrout's books again...

Book Nerd and Proud,

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: CornerStone by Kelly Walker

Emariya's life was nearly over before it started. Hidden under the floorboards while her mother died above her, she escaped a brutal death then—only to go racing toward it now, sixteen years later.

After learning her father has been captured, Emariya is desperate to save him, no matter who she has to turn to for help. Oblivious to her potential gifts and the secrets surrounding her dual heritage, Emariya makes a bargain with the prince of a rival land, Torian Ahlen. In exchange for her hand in marriage, he agrees to send his forces to rescue her father. With the arrangements made, Emariya embarks on a tumultuous journey through two kingdoms as different from each other as the families that rule them.

Before long, Emariya comes face to face with her mother's killers, and learns of an ominous prophecy: her and Torian's bloodlines must never be combined. Armed with this frightening new knowledge, Emariya begins to fear the handsome prince may desire more than to steal her heart, and it will take all of her newfound skills to survive.

Title: CornerStone
Series: Souls of the Stones #1
Published: October 22nd 2012 by Kelly Walker (first published October 1st 2012)
ISBN: 1480086711 (ISBN13: 9781480086715)
Barnes & Noble|Amazon
"Your parents, they chose their own path. The time has come for you to choose yours. Don't loose sight of what her path cost her. She tried to save her people, and not only did she fail, but she lost herself. Milady, some bargains, they just aren't worth the risk."
When starting this free book I didn't expect much, but by the end of the novel everything you've learned in the beginning has changed. Riya may have unknowingly placed her trust in the wrong people, enemies becoming friend and friends becoming enemies? Well, both are very likely with all of the twists throughout the story. I loved this book for that reason, when I started the book I wouldn't have guessed it would be this good, and I definitely wouldn't have guessed what happens during the last few pages.

I must also mention that when I started the book it was rather slow, the main reason that it lost a star, and it wasn't this way the entire book, but I would guess ABOUT the first third of it was. For me, it really didn't take away from the book itself that much, but it wasn't ideal. I should admit that I wanted to just forget about this fact, and give it five stars anyways, because she does create a wonderful world during this time, it wasn't mind-numbingly boring, just slow. If I was you I wouldn't give up, I think that it truly does get a lot better has the book progresses, and really, the ending is so stunning and wonderful that even if I didn't enjoy the slow beginning, it would've totally made up for it. 

Riya is a great main character, while she is saved by men occasionally she isn't the damsel in distress, if she's captured she doesn't sit there and wait for someone else to save her, she tries to save herself. She's also great in the way that she can admit she wants to be protected, and she knows it doesn't make her weak. Adding onto all of this while her family is the head of the council, she doesn't let it get to her head. Her two best friends are the blacksmiths son, Garith, and her handmaiden, Jessa. Riya even mentions that yes, Jessa does work for her but she will always first and foremost be her best friend, and that they all do keep up appearances to keep the public eye happy, because a being best friends with a handmaiden could be very scandalous. 

Before I forget to mention, the cover to this book is amazing, plus it's free, so if I was you I'd read it. Today. Right now.
Book Nerd and Proud,

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Review: UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated, that is until she saves her crush's life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune as 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 fairy tale victim.

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

Title: UnEnchanted
Series: An Unfortunate Fairy Tale #1
Published: 2011 by Chanda Hahn
I really like the cover of this book, which just so happens to be a free eBook on Barnes & Noble and Amazon, so if I were you I'd go pick it up right after I finished reading this wonderful review. I'm glad I decided to read it because it turned out to be a great book, I thought it was about a 4 star book, but then I had to consider that the book wasn't edited. It didn't bother me that much, but at times it would ruin the flow of the story and get annoying.

This is also a very fluffy, stereotypical book. Mina is the ordinary girl, who isn't really pretty and has little to no friends, until she saves Brody from death and he suddenly realizes he needs to be with this girl. He's the most popular guy in school, and a catch for any girl, but now he has fixated on her and they become best friends, the unlikely pair that will get married with a happily ever after. 

Only this book has a twist, one that I love and will not reveal, but great nonetheless. It is definitely part of the reason I am dying to read the next book, but I've heard the third is coming out by the end of this month so I'll try to find the will power to wait until then. When it does come out I will read and review the second and third book, which I do have high expectations for. 

Mina didn't believe in herself in this book, and I would really like that to change. Her younger brother is the next of the Grimm's, he'll get the curse if she doesn't break it and she knows this! She even says that she wants to protect him, yet she relies so heavily on other people, what happens when they're not around? If she wants to stand up for her brother she first has to learn how to stand up for herself. 

Nan is a beautiful girl who is Mina's best friend, but she is also friendly with everyone, and obsessed with twitter, even tweeting a picture of Mina running for the bus. When Mina is need of help, or just a friend, Nan is there, even listening to her crazy story about how she is a Grimm and has to finish a task that the Grimm brothers couldn't. I thought she was a great character because she knew how to laugh at herself, and her confidence could be beneficial to Mina. 

I'm still not sure what to think of Jared and Brody, because of the ending and how mysterious Jared can be. It was either Jared or Brody that would be there to save her whenever she was in any kind of distress. Brody has a great relationship with Mina and I truly liked it but I'm not sure if I rather her be with Jared yet, once I learn more about him in the next book I'll probably have an easier time picking. 

Overall this was a great read, and I'm very glad I read it. The author also has another free book out The Iron Butterfly, and I'll probably try to read that too, sometime in the near future. I can see the next book being better, and cannot wait for the third. 

Now that my review is finished you should really click the Barnes & Noble or Amazon link and read this book (:
Book Nerd and Proud, 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Review: Turned by Morgan Rice

Eighteen year old Caitlin Paine finds herself uprooted from her nice suburb and forced to attend a dangerous New York City high school when her Mom moves again. The one ray of light in her new surroundings is Jonah, a new classmate who takes an instant liking to her.

But before their romance can blossom, Caitlin suddenly finds herself changing. She is overcome by a superhuman strength, a sensitivity to light, a desire to feed--by feelings she does not understand. She seeks answers to what’s happening to her, and her cravings lead her to the wrong place at the wrong time. Her eyes are opened to a hidden world, right beneath her feet, thriving underground in New York City. She finds herself caught between two dangerous covens, right in the middle of a vampire war.

It is at this moment that Caitlin meets Caleb, a mysterious and powerful vampire who rescues her from the dark forces. He needs her to help lead him to the legendary lost artifact. And she needs him for answers, and for protection. Together, they will need to answer one crucial question: who was her real father?

But Caitlin finds herself caught between two men as something else arises between them: a forbidden love. A love between the races that will risk both of their lives, and will force them to decide whether to risk it all for each other…

Title: Turned
Series: Vampire Journals #1
Published: January 24th 2011
ISBN13: 9780982953723
Barnes & Noble|Amazon
Lately I've been insanely busy, and without much time to read a book. I wanted something short to help me get ahead on my reviews, and that is why I chose the free book Turned. I have nothing against free books, I've found a few that have been delightfully surprising, and become a favorite series of mine, but I must say that I didn't start this book with high expectations, thankfully so, because I felt this might make a decent novella, but not a novel. It has so many holes with no explanations for simple concepts that don't even need a lengthy explanation like what are the difference between good vampires and bad ones? Neither of them would take in a half breed, and I doubt "good vampires" don't eat humans. 

Caitlin is a vampire, but by all means she's is not cunning, manipulative or smart, maybe that only comes with age. It is something I've come to expect with vampires and I must admit that I was disappointed to find that Caitlin was even a bit below average, she quickly decided to run away from home, with what? Only the clothes she has on her, and an extra pair of fancy clothes for her date with Jonah.

Jonah is the first, and only, person she bonds with at school, which isn't surprising because I think over the course of the book she only goes to school for a full day once or twice. Needless to say, her and Jonah hit it off and he asks her on a date, to which she accepts. Their date really doesn't go as planned, and after it you don't see much of a chance for Jonah as Caitlin has met the all encompassing Caleb, who she immediately falls in love with. 

Caleb saves Caitlin when she finds herself in some trouble with a clan of vampires. This is their first meeting, and by the end of it he says he loves her. I don't know what to think of their ridiculous relationship, or Caleb because he was just introduced and I know nearly nothing about him. 

Unless I get the other books for free, or at the library, I wouldn't read them. I don't expect to read the rest of the series because I truly do not see much potential.

Book Nerd and Proud,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Pretty girls in pretty dresses, partying until dawn.
Irresistible boys with mischievous smiles and dangerous intentions.
White lies, dark secrets, and scandalous hookups.
This is Manhattan, 1899. Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan's social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City's elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone--from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud--threatens Elizabeth's and Diana's golden future.

With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city's gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan's most celebrated daughter disappear...

In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent.

Title: The Luxe

Series: Luxe #1
Published: November 20th 2007 by HarperCollins
ISBN: 0061345660 (ISBN13: 9780061345661)
This book was the perfect break from all things paranormal. It seems like after you read a continuous line of magical beasts and hidden powers, everything starts to seem the same. The Luxe focuses on the  lives of Manhattan's teenage socialites during the 19th century.

Elizabeth Holland is the belle of the ball, whom every man wishes to court. Her mother has already arranged her perfect counterpart and very sought after bachelor, Henry Schoonmaker, and her to be married, but Elizabeth finds that her tastes in men aren't quite the same as other society women. Her heart is with their coachman, Will Kellar. Because of his social status, their affair is kept hidden, but when all she wants to do is run away with Will, her mother urges her to marry Henry in order to save the family when they are in financial distraught. In the end, she decides that helping her family wasn't going to give her the life she wanted.

Diana is Elizabeth's younger sister, who is usually eclipsed by her older sister. While Elizabeth is arranged to marry, Diana is in love with her sister's fiancee, and Henry feels the same way. As this goes on, Elizabeth's best friend, Penelope Hayes, developed a sort of infatuation on Henry. She isn't used to not getting what she wants and is infuriated when she discovers Elizabeth is engaged to him. Penelope is the sort of girl to go to any lengths to break up the wedding. When she begins to plan, there is no such thing as "friendship" in her vocabulary. Anything and everything is fair game.

When Elizabeth was a child, her closest friends were Lina and Will, who were part of the help. Her mother decided as she grew older, it was no longer appropriate. Elizabeth could not openly speak to either of them, so when Lina and Will became closer friends, Lina fell in love with Will. She became upset with Elizabeth when she found out her secret affair with Will and her jealousy got the better of her.

It seems that nobody in this book fell in love with the right person. Either because society told them it was wrong, or because that person loved someone else. This was such an amazing novel with pages filled with scandal and jealousy, and with so many twists and turns it makes you wonder if being a part of the elite is worth all the trouble to keep up appearances.

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” -Groucho Marx
Book Nerd and Proud,