The Tyrant’s Daughter – J.C. Carleson

4/5 stars.
(ARC) ebook, 304 pages.
Read from January 20 to 29, 2014.

Thank you Netgalley for inviting me to read this novel, as I may not have come across it otherwise. This book is a gem in the YA genre and one that every young person living in this post 9/11 world needs to read. With all the hype that has come with America’s war on terror it’s easy to forget that there are two-sides to every story and while this novel is fiction it depicts the emotional side of the other story.

Laila is a teenage girl who was living like royalty in a middle-eastern country run by her father, that is, until he is assassinated.  Overnight Laila becomes a nobody and she is moved with her family to the USA which, is a world and a lifestyle none of them are familiar with. Laila has more worries and concerns than most US teenage girls do and while she does her best to fit in, her past has left her with unanswered questions. Her mother is up to something, scheming with people that they would not normally associate with and Laila wants answers. She is afraid of the truth but she has to know if the way her family is being portrayed in the American media is true and if she knows her family as well as she thought she did.

This book is riveting and, on an emotional level, so realistically depicted. It makes you take a look at the war that is being waged and the consequences it has for the people who are suffering through the ordeal first hand. It makes you wonder if we are really ever able to grasp what living in a world like the middle-east would be like? We are so unbelievably safe here and have practically all of our basic needs met. How could any of us possibly understand the culture and times of countries that have none of these things? Laila offers us an inside to this world and her struggles in coming to terms with who she is and where she is.

I think the only compliant I have with this book is that I highly doubt that the American teenagers depicted in this book would be as kind as they are described to Lalia, knowing her origin. I think in the real world, if these kids knew who she was and where she came from they would be unrelentingly cruel to her. I would suspect violence from teenagers and potentially other adults. Despite this potential falsity, the emotions felt and portrayed by Lalia in the book make up for this fact. Her inner turmoil and bravery are truly what make this book great.

A highly recommended read for any North American.

Control by Charlotte Stein

4/5 stars.
(ARC) ebook, 238 pages.
Read from January 02 to 13, 2014

Well out of all the Erotica I’ve read so far, this one, surprisingly, has been my favourite. Ms. Stein has found the perfect balance of smut, character and plot. She was able to provide the reader just enough information about the characters for you to invest into them but didn’t divert so far that you forgot you were reading a piece of Erotica. The story plays with the idea of both female and male dominance and the author was very effective in showing both of these stances in the same story.

Madison, the main female in the story, which seems to be a popular name to use in Erotica as it’s the second piece I’ve read that has used the name for their main female character, owns a bookstore. Not just any bookstore but one that specifically sells Romance and Erotica. In her pursuit to find some help running her store she encounters Andy and Gabriel. While she doesn’t hire Andy, she has rough dirty sex with him on a regular basis. Andy himself, is rough and takes great pleasure in taking control of any sexual encounter. She hires Gabriel because she is enthralled by his passive and quiet nature. Gabriel is the exact opposite of Andy, in every aspect, and what Madison will end up discovering through the many sexual adventures between and with both of them (at the same time) is a side of her she didn’t know about and a pleasure and a love she didn’t know existed.

This book has some immensely erotic scenes that would get just about anyone’s heart racing. I would highly recommend this book to any Erotica lovers or new comers into the genre who aren’t afraid of something new and a little adventure.

A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland

4/5 stars.
(ARC) ebook, 288 pages.
Read from September 19 to October 08, 2013.

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to re-visit my University days with this awesome book!

This book is like an English degree in a few hundred pages. It covers all of the main pieces of literature and their contributions to the literary world, and history, in a concise and entertaining manner. I really enjoyed Sutherland’s precise writing and remarks on the works he was analyzing. I feel that he gave a proper perspective and insight into each piece of work, author or era. I also appreciated that added his own views after giving a through summary in each chapter.

Books like this are essential. It is a reminder to everyone just how much reading and writing has shaped our history and our culture and why they are still important today. Without these stories we may not have an accurate account of anything that had happened in our past and we would not know how the minds of that era functioned. I truly believe that these elements of expression contribute massively to who we are today and are an essential part of being human.

For me, reading this was a refreshing walk down memory lane and it allowed me to re-explore all of the works I enjoyed while pursuing my own degree in English a few years ago. While my love for reading and such has never dwindled, reading this book sparked a renewed interest in re-visiting my school notes, re-reading some classics and getting to the few that I haven’t had a chance to get to as of yet.