Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GNW: A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori

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When Amir Halgal goes to live with her new groom and his family, she expects it to be difficult. After all, they are both from different cultures and her new husband is eight years younger than she. Amir is considered old for a bride and strange in more ways than one, but her new family is a kind one, as is her young husband.

Though they are different, they are determined to be a family now and Amir is loyal and loving to her core. Sometimes being different isn't all that bad. Perhaps Amir can teach her family a new thing or two and they can teach her about her new home and how to fulfill her position in it as well.

This isn't the first manga I've read, but it is certainly the most intricate when it comes to the artwork. The clothing and the tapestries, even the wood carvings are drawn to the finest detail. It's more than eye-catching, it's wholly captivating. I can't even imagine how long each frame must have taken the artist, much less how long the book itself took.

As for the story itself, I really enjoyed it. I haven't read much about the Silk Road, but I know enough to appreciate how well researched every part of this manga series has been and will no doubt continue to be. It's an interesting world to read about, much less get the chance to see into the way this manga allows the reader to do.

Amir is everything I hoped for in a heroine at that time. Yes, she's a lady and she knows her place, but she was also raised in a nomadic family where the women hunted and did their part as well. Her budding feelings for her husband are sweet and would be sweeter if there wasn't that uncomfortable knowledge that he's a child, but then that was how life was back then. It was a part of the culture and something you have to deal with when it comes to the story. She starts out with almost a sisterly role and, if the author lets enough time go by, it will be less uncomfortable as they grow older.

All in all, it's definitely an interesting manga and one I will definitely be reading more of in the near future.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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She said that I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and even more intelligent than college professors. She encouraged me to listen carefully to what country people called mother wit. That in those homely sayings was couched the collective wisdom of generations.

I picked up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings off of one of the "Summer Reading" tables at Barnes & Noble. It had a gorgeous cover and I recognized the name Maya Angelou from about a thousand different sources. I figured it was about time that I read something of hers that wasn't just a single poem I happened upon once in a library. Besides, I usually comb the "Summer Reading" tables at bookstores because I know I missed out on a lot of Teen Read classics that most kids read in their high school English classes and I try to make sure that I get the chance to check out as many of those as I can.

I wasn't aware until I was a good few chapters in that the book was autobiographical, but that merely added to the intrigue. I'm always hearing people say that real life is stranger than fiction and, looking at my soap opera of a life, I'm rarely surprised by it. However Maya Angelou has quite the story to tell and it's one that would seem quite insane and too crazy to be true, only it really did happen.

Maya Angelou grew up in the South at a time when slavery was a thing of the past, but racism was booming. She lived in a time where it was common for white men to kill black men for looking at their women and where a white woman could "rename" her maids because she felt like it and they had no say because they were black and lower class.

But Maya grew up in a time of change and, though she lived through more hardships than many might be able to stand, she stood. She pushed through everything that blocked her way and came out the stronger for it. Her story is a hard one, but it's a tale of triumph and never backing down in the face of fear.

I really enjoyed this book. There's just something about getting to hear about a person's life by looking through their eyes that really gets to me. This is especially true in the case of Maya Angelou. Getting to peer into her life through her eyes and see how she triumphed over evils that are much greater than the ones I am currently battling reminds me that there's always hope and there is always beauty to be found from the ashes.

The author is known for her stunning poetry and her prose is no less impressive. I cannot tell you how many times I had to go back and reread sentences and paragraphs just to inhale the beauty of her words a little more deeply. The ability to create such intense beauty in the span of a few sentences is a talent that will always impress me (as well as make me deeply jealous).

If you're looking for a good read, this is definitely a book to consider. It's worth your time, if only to remind you that, though life can be far darker than we ever hoped, there is always something beautiful just around the horizon if we choose to fight for it.

"Your grandmother says you read a lot. Every chance you get. That's good, but not good enough. Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with the shades of deeper meaning."

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (The Heir Chronicles, #3)

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"Because I know what it's like to want to prove yourself so badly it destroys everything else that matters," Hastings replied, gazing into the fire. "Sometimes it's just an excuse to avoid dealing with your own demons."

[Click here to see my review of book 1: The Warrior Heir and book 2: The Wizard Heir]

After reading the first two books out of order, I was definitely excited when I got to The Dragon Heir. Now that I had the full backstory, I could proceed to read the third book, which was originally intended to be the final in a trilogy that has now expanded into a full-blown series. I knew that after the way the first two books blew me out of the water, the third would have to at least be up to par with its predecessors. I hoped it would be even better.

As the Roses and White Roses gather their forces after the uprising at the Seven Sisters, the Weir all over the world are becoming uneasy. Nowhere is it more obvious than in Trinity, the safe haven for all AnaWizard Weir.

Seph McCauley maintains the boundary around the town as only a wizard with his strength and ability can. Jack and Ellen work together to train their ghost warriors, preparing for the attack that they know is bound to come at any moment.

Meanwhile, Jason and Madison are each having their own personal crises. Jason, who has never been a particularly skilled wizard, feels useless and wants to prove himself to the Weir. He has been working with Leander Hastings, but chafes under his leadership. His drive to prove himself and set right the wrongs that have befallen himself and the people he cares about may be rooted in good intentions, but his headstrong nature is more than likely to get him in deeper water than he can get himself out of.

Madison, on the other hand, has learned that she is an elicitor, but isn't entirely sure what that means for her. While her gift managed to save Seph at the Seven Sisters, it seems that the dark magic she absorbed has begun to start leaking out. When she gets a call from her mother claiming that the state will take away Madison's younger siblings if she doesn't come back and help care for them, Madison jumps at the chance to leave Trinity and put as much distance between herself and Seph, whom the dark magic is deeply affecting. But outside the sanctuary, her friends can't protect her. Even though she's not Weir, she has become a part of the war that sits on the horizon and danger follows close behind her.

Once again, Cinda Williams Chima has produced a book filled with stunning characters and magic that is fully original, both exceedingly believable. In this book, we get to see a little more from the perspective of Madison and Jason, which I really enjoyed. Madison easily became a favorite when she was introduced in the second book and I really loved getting to see her character develop throughout the story. It's fantastic to see a character with such an interesting gift and learn what drives her and motivates her; what she would die to protect and who she would sacrifice everything to keep safe.

I could go on about each of the characters in similar fashion, but I'll try to keep this post short. The point is that the book is filled with strong bonds of friendship and sacrifice. The magic is thrilling and interesting throughout, but it's really the humanity of each of our teenage protagonists that drives the story and keeps the reader hooked from the start.

The third in the series, The Dragon Heir would have been a wonderful end to the trilogy, but it would have left the reader aching for more. Because of this, I am thrilled to learn that there will be a fourth and fifth book in the series. In fact, The Enchanter Heir was just released a few months ago. As you can imagine, I'm dying to get my hands on it.

Rating: ★★★★★

It's a peculiarity of man- this lining up and marching toward death. The only other creatures who don't flee a killing field are the scavengers who come after the fact.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

GNW: Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

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 When Anya Borzakovskaya falls down a well, she learns she isn't the first one to fall down it. However, the last person to make this grievous mistake didn't fair so well. It's Emily Reilly's skeleton she finds at the bottom of the abandoned well and it's Emily's ghost who materializes just as Anya starts to lose her cool.

When Anya escapes, she accidentally takes a piece of the skeleton with her, Emily's little finger and Emily's ghost with it. Though initially annoyed by her presence, Anya starts to realize that there are perks to having a ghost for a friend. But when Emily becomes a little too clingy, Anya realizes that Emily hasn't been entirely honest about how she came to be at the bottom of that well. Anya quickly realizes that if she doesn't do something quick, Emily could wreak far more havoc than she could ever have imagined.

In her debut novel, Vera Brosgol has created quite a lovely and dark graphic novel about a girl and her ghost that kept me riveted from beginning to end. Anya is a strong-willed, fairly rebellious teenager who just wants to be normal and cool, but can't seem to quite grasp either one. She struggles with her self-esteem and figuring out how to do what's right, even when it means putting her social ranking on the back burner. I really loved reading about her and her adventure.

The story itself was interesting and stayed that way from beginning to end. It reminded me quite a bit of Hope Larson's Mercury, but better. The mystery was much more rounded out and the escalating danger ended up being more and more suspenseful. It was well done all around.

The artwork was absolutely beautiful. I love everything about it. Each of the characters looks entirely different, yet beautiful in their own way. And don't even get me started on how well the panels were planned out, especially the one in the example above, when Emily reveals herself.

This graphic novel was definitely quite a good read and it's perfect for Halloween. I suggest getting your hands on a copy as soon as you can.

Rating: ★★★★★

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Novel Attraction Facebook Page

Hey everyone!

Sorry about the lack of updating yesterday. I started coming down with something yesterday and passed out almost immediately after work.

However, I did want to go ahead and update today to let y'all know I've just made a Facebook page for Novel Attraction. In following the page, you'll be able to keep up with each new review, as well as updates on anything pertaining to this blog or books that I feel are worth sharing. It'll be super handy for notifying you of delayed or cancelled posts (like yesterday), as well as informing you of cool book events or deals you might have missed otherwise.

Here is the link to the Novel Attraction Facebook Page. I hope you decide to check it out!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Purity by Jackson Pearce

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Maybe no one can understand what this feels like but me. I touch my neck, the spot where the cross charm hangs on Mom's neck. No one can understand because . . . they really don't know any better than I do. No matter what they think, how sure they are they've got everything figured out, they're as in the dark as I am.

I chose to read Purity when I realized it was the only one of Jackson Pearce's books that I hadn't yet dug into. As a pretty huge fan of her Fairytale Retellings series (of which, book 4 is on the way!), I knew I needed to get my hands on this one and ordered it straight off the Book Depository once I found it.

Shelby lost her mother when she was a child. Cancer stole her away and left Shelby with her father, a man who loved she and her mother very much, but wasn't exactly prepared to raise a daughter all on his own. Perhaps this was the reason her mother made Shelby vow to keep the three rules. After all, one of them was to obey her father. Whatever her motivation behind the promises, Shelby agreed to them and has been doing her absolute best to obey each of them, no matter what the cost.

Though she obeys her father's every rule, Shelby feels like she hardly knows her father. Perhaps he feels the same way, because soon finds himself running the Princess Ball, a dance held by the local church where, at the end, each daughter pledges herself to a life of purity. Shelby knows that if she makes the pledge, she has to keep it- unless she can find a loophole.

It isn't long before Shelby finds her loophole: if she has sex before the night of the Princess Ball, her vow will be void. She will no longer be pure and therefore cannot live a life of purity. As the Ball approaches, Shelby has to juggle her time between helping her father put the Ball together and finding a suitable guy who is willing to help her break the vow before she takes it.

I'll admit, I was not immediately captivated by this book. It took me a few chapters to get into it, and even then it was a thin line for me between putting it down and dragging my feet through the rest of the narrative. I am happy to report, however, that I did eventually get into it and honestly enjoyed it through to the end.

Shelby is an interesting character and, while I had trouble with the plausibility of her adhering so closely to the promises, I really did like the way the story went. I loved seeing the way her mind worked and how she dealt with all the chaos that was cluttering her life. I especially loved that she didn't only concern herself with the struggles that were in her immediate future. She worried about all kinds of things and we even got to watch her struggle with the concept of faith and religion, which made her that much more accessible as a protagonist and even more believable as a person.

Though the story wasn't all I hope it to be, that may just be because I was hoping for something fully on par with her fantasy novels. However, Jackson Pearce still manages to prove that she is a wonderful and fascinating author through and through. I cannot wait to continue reading as many books as she is willing to put out.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

I remember understanding what love really was. It didn't hurt; it didn't ignore your prayers, didn't seem not to care that your mom was dying. It didn't leave you wondering what you did wrong. Love tried to make you happy, even if it was useless. Love would do anything to make you happy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

GNW: Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz

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In this gritty and honest graphic novel by Julia Wertz, readers get the chance to follow the adventures (and misadventures) of the author as she recounts her somewhat rash move to New York in her mid-twenties. Written as an autobiographical work, Drinking at the Movies is a collection of events in the life of Wertz. It follows the chaotic movements of her life and times as a new inhabitant of New York City.

Dealing with everything from a brother that slips in and out of rehab like a favorite pair of shoes, to her own inability to hold a job or keep herself from visiting the liquor store every other day, Wertz tells her story from the perspective of someone who knows how insane and unfair life can be. She tells her story with startling honesty and a hilarity that keeps you turning the pages long after you promised yourself you would stop.

I'm not sure I've ever read an autobiographical graphic novel before, but I can definitely say I'm a fan after reading this one. The art brings that much more reality to the story and keeps the reader engaged at every level.

Wertz spares us no detail or embarrassing point of view. She doesn't sugarcoat or whitewash anything, instead telling the story of her struggles and triumphs through the lens of someone who knows what it's like to battle uncertainty and fight to keep going, even while constantly asking herself whether or not she's lost her mind.

If you're looking for something real, filled with adult humor and uncomfortable truths, this is definitely the novel for you. I know I'll be revisiting this graphic novel more than once in the near future. Maybe you ought to do the same.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

They were all waiting for me to do something- to lead them. And that thought made me want to laugh and cry and crawl under the nearest bench to die.

Valkyrie Rising was one of those lovely books you spot on the shelf at the library and read the back, decide it looks decent enough, and check out. It was one that I wasn't sure I would bother reading, but checked out of the library anyway because it had mythology in it and I am quite the sucker for mythology. Admittedly, almost all of my "expertise" is in Greek mythology; I have almost no knowledge of Norse mythology. Still, I added it to the stack of books I always leave the library with and took it home with me.

When I did crack open Valkyrie Rising, I couldn't have been more surprised by how much I loved it. If I hadn't started reading so late at night, I could have easily read the entire volume in one sitting. (And not because the book is short- it's a hefty 345 pages.) I was hooked and had to force myself to go to bed so I would stop falling asleep with my face on the pages. Still, I woke up and finished it off in a matter of hours.

In Valkyrie Rising, we meet Ellie, a girl from California with an overprotective big brother, Graham, and some deep roots in Norway. Summer has finally arrived, which means Ellie and her brother will be headed to Norway to visit their grandmother for a few weeks. And Graham's infuriating best friend, Tuck, will also be coming along for the ride.

However, when Ellie arrives, she isn't greeted with the usual hospitality and friendliness the small town of Oslo. Instead, she's regarded with suspicion and even her fair share of violence. Reports of the disappearance of young, strong boys has been enough to scare the townspeople into hostility, especially because, for some reason, her grandmother is the prim suspect- and least in the eyes of the public.

It isn't long before Ellie is also being accused to being a Valkyrie, one of those mythical beings whom people believe are snatching up their boys. As much as she wants to deny it, when she saves a friend from being taken by the Valkyries, she sees them for herself and they call her one of them. Even as they say it, she can feel the tug within her, the call to join them.

Yet when Graham is taken next, Ellie knows she'll do anything to save him, even if it means taking down the Valkyries and losing her life in the process. Tuck joins her, eager to save his best friend and keep Ellie safe; but, considering who they're up against, they might as well be running toward death itself.

Like I mentioned above,  I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book. Ellie is a great heroine who experiences her fair share of self-doubt, yet is too focused on saving the people she cares about to let it conquer her. She's strong and fierce, yet profoundly human, and I love that. Tuck is wonderfully protective, even knowing that Ellie could easily take him out, and perfectly comedic. His comments had me laughing out loud more than once.

The Norse mythology peppered throughout the novel was deeply interesting and definitely pushed me into wanting to learn more about it, and the story itself was fast-paced and left me wanting more. I think this is the first time I've read a stand-alone novel and wanted to bang my head against a desk when I realized there would be no sequel.

Oh well, I suppose I'll just have to be happy with what I was given. After all, at least I'll have plenty of opportunities to reread it.

Rating: ★★★★★

Then Tuck stepped right into the middle of that mess, shielding me completely. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" He shoved the ringleader in the chest. While Tuck definitely had a temper, it always came out sideways through jokes. It took me a second to recognize the look on his face as absolute fury. "I don't know what happens in this hick town, but where I'm from, we don't push girls around." He knocked the boy back one more time, driving his point home.
"She's not a girl," Margit said, glaring at me with so much hatred that it almost hurt. "Filthy Valkyrie."

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Journey by Kathyrn Lasky (Guardians of Ga'Hoole, #2)

"Hope is never a foolish thing -although others will tell you it is. But I don't need to tell you that, Soren- look at yourself. You were snatched and you taught yourself to fly and you escaped from that awful St. Aggie's. You flew straight out of those deep stone canyons and right into the Yonder. Anyone who flies out of a stone hole into the Yonder knows about hope."

Soren, Gylfie, Twilight, and Digger are a band of owls (joined by Mrs. P, a snake and Soren's old nursemaid) who are traveling together in search of the Great Ga'Hoole tree. Each of the young owls have been deeply affected by the goings on at an institution called St. Aggie's and each is determined to do what they can to put an end to the evil within its borders. In order to do this, the band must find the Great Ga'Hoole tree and warn them of what they've seen at St. Aggie's. Only those owls of mythos who are said to fight evil and protect owls everywhere  can possibly save them from the pervasive evil.

Yet even their journey to find the Ga'Hoole tree is fraught with many dangers and plenty of doubt. After all, few have ever laid eyes on the Great Ga'Hoole tree and many believe it is just legend, an old tale passed around for years. And once they reach the Great Ga'Hoole tree, if ever, will that be the end of their journey? Or will it simply be the next step in a tale they never dreamed of stepping into?

I am loving everything about this series so far. I have all but fallen in love with Soren and Gylfie and the other members of their band of owls. Each has their own unique personality and gifts to bring to the table and, even though they fight often enough, they always have each other's backs.

The story itself continues to be breathtaking and keeps the reader hooked from page one. Walking alongside the group through each and every trial can be both hilarious and heartbreaking. You just can't help being addicted to the page. I have to admit, the fact that it is also a pretty clear World War II analogy also adds to the appeal and keeps me that much more interested.

This is a wonderful children's series of which I cannot wait to read more. If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly suggest you do.

Rating: ★★★★☆

"No! No! This can't be!" Soren wailed. He felt his legs collapse under him and he crumpled beside her. "Eglantine! Eglantine!"
"Get Mrs. Plithiver, quick!" Gylfie rasped.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

GNW: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

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Drama is the story of seventh grader, Callie, as she tries to figure out how to navigate school, theater, and (most confusing) her love life.
Calli loves theater. She has been in love with it since she was a child and was wowed by a production of Les Mis her parents took her to see. Though she can't act or sing, that doesn't bother her. Her real passion is in stage design.
For this year's production of "Moon Over Mississippi," she is chosen to be head of set design: a dream come true. She immediately sets to work doing everything she can to make the production a success.
Meanwhile, her love life has been flagging. She shared a moment with a boy she had been crushing on for ages, but afterward, he acts like she isn't even visible.
To complicate things further, Callie meets a handsome set of twins with whom she immediately hits it off. Both want to be part of the production (one as a stage hand and the other gunning for the lead). Soon she starts spending nearly all of her time with them, but with the production nearing its debut and a prop cannon giving her all the trouble she can manage, when is she supposed to figure out what their mixed messages are really saying?

Drama was a really fun read that had me hooked at the start. From the way the chapters themselves are arranged in Acts, complete with an Intermission halfway through the story, to the very individual (and awesome) characters all throughout.

The art is stunning and deeply enjoyable. I could not stop goggling Callie's hair! As someone who used to have purple hair, it brought a wave of envy I wasn't expecting. It certainly wasn't the only piece of art that had me captivated, though. Every page was drawn exceptionally and only added that much more to the story itself.

Altogether, this was a fabulous graphic novel and I'm too happy to be the proud owner of one of its copies!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Monday, October 7, 2013

Merch Monday: Out Of Print Clothing

All pictures pulled from the Out of Print
Clothing website and are property of
I found Out of Print Clothing via the wonders of Pinterest. Someone pinned a Great Gatsby t-shirt and I fell head-over-heels, buying it as soon as I got the chance.

Out of Print Clothing is a clothing website that specializes it shirts made to mimic the covers of famous books. Classics like Slaughterhouse-Five, The Great Gatsby, Alice and Wonderland, The Feminist Mystique, and even Goodnight Moon are all represented among its stock. It's a book lover's paradise.

I currently own the Great Gatsby, The Outsiders, and the Fahrenheit 451 shirts; and believe me, there are plenty more on my to-buy list.

Though their main focus is the shirts, shirts are not the only sale items. From onesies to iPhone covers, from totes to matches. Each item is uniquely created to sooth the book junkie's needs and keep them coming back for more.

I love my Out of Print Clothing merchandise and can't wait to get more as soon as I can. Here's to hoping they make that "Library Card" iPhone case for the 4S next!

These are some of my favorite shirts and I love being able to represent great books/reading wherever I go. If that sounds like your kind of style, you should absolutely check them out.

**Disclaimer: I am not being paid or otherwise compensated for promoting this business or any other I choose to represent on Merch Mondays. I am simply sharing the things that bring me joy in hopes they'll bring you joy as well.