Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sold {by Patricia McCormick}

Title: Sold
Author: Patricia McCormick
Narrated by: Justine Eyre
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.

An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family’s debt—then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave.

Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother’s words— Simply to endure is to triumph—and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision—will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?

Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.

I usually do not prefer audiobooks. I just don't really have the patience or the attention span to listen to them. But I have had barely any time to read lately. I have a 40+ minute drive to and from school every day, and decided to try it out. With nothing else to distract me in the car, and nothing else to do, I figured might as well get some "reading" done. It was much easier to pay attention in the car, and so I managed to make it through this audiobook.

Lakshmi is a young, Nepali girl. Her family is poor, living in a small village in the mountains. Her stepfather gambles away all their money, but for the most part, Lakshmi is happy with her mother and baby brother. But then, her father sells her to a city woman. Lakshmi thinks she will be used as a servant in a wealthy home, but soon finds out the worst thing imaginable: she has been sold into prostitution. Forced into a debt that will be nearly impossible to pay back, Lakshmi sees no way out. 

This book was a deeply emotional book. It is very sad, heart-wrenching, and eye-opening. McCormick did a wonderful job of making us feel what Lakshmi was going through. This is such an ugly story to write, but it was written quite beautifully. It isn't super graphic, although I probably wouldn't recommend it for younger audiences. There were some more...uncomfortable situations, which is why it may only be appropriate for older audiences, but it was needed for the story it tells.

It was very clear that McCormick did her research for this book. The details were well thought out and written. She did a good job of location, setting the feeling for Lakshmi's Nepalese village, but also the transition from the villages into India and the big cities. But McCormick also did a good job of writing the girls, how each one of them feels about their plight. What brought them there, what keeps them there, what happens there. 

I did not like the narrator for this one. Her fake accent was annoying, and not at all close. (And the accent she gave to the Americans...what? It was painful to listen to.) It didn't turn me off the book completely, but I felt I couldn't enjoy it fully because her voice grated on my ears. The book is also written in free verse poetry, although I didn't even realize that at first because it's hard to tell with the audio.

Sold was meant to be a powerful, haunting story of what really goes on behind the sex slave industry. It was meant to open eyes about poor girls who go off to be maids, and instead what ends up happening to them. It was built on the stories and interviews of many girls who actually went through this. Although a fictional story, it isn't fiction. This truly does go on in real life. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. (Although it is labeled for younger audiences, I would go a little bit older because of the content.)

Patricia McCormick:

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Sunday, September 15, 2013


Hi loves!! So I said that if we could get to 100 Bloglovin' and 50 Twitter followers by my 6-month blogaversary, I would have a giveaway! And...you did it!

When I started this blog, I had no idea that we would have that many followers or last this long or even consider making a Twitter, so THANK YOU. It has been a fun, awesome journey, and it's all thanks to you guys.

Since we are celebrating two different milestones, I decided to have TWO different prizes. And since I couldn't decide whether or not to pick the prize myself, or let the winner pick what they wanted, I decided to do one of each :)

Prize 1: Three of my favorite books

Prize 1 will be three of my favorite books (new): 
  • Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy;
  • This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen; and
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I really couldn't figure out which books to give for this, because I have so many favorite books. But I decided to go with Burn because I think not many people have heard of Ted Dekker or his books; I went with This Lullaby because I think everyone (meaning YA readers/bloggers) should read at least one Sarah Dessen book in their life, and this one's my favorite; and Miss Peregrine because it's cool, and Ransom Riggs is awesome, and well, yeah. I wasn't sure what you guys would want, so I hope my choices are good enough.
Because I am shipping these myself, Prize 1 is US only.

Prize 2: A book of your choice from TBD

Prize 2 will be your choice of any book from The Book Depository under $20. (So if you find two books for $10 each, I will allow that. Or if you find 4 books in the Bargain Bin for $5 each, go for it. I guess this should just say $20 worth of book.) Prize 2 will be INTERNATIONAL as long as TBD ships to you :) (You can check that here.)

Alright, I'll leave you to enter! Giveaway ends at the end of the month. And don't forget a few little RULES:
  • If I end up with two International winners, the second one will be redrawn. If I end up with two US winners, it will stay that way. (Sorry!)
  • One entry per household.
  • Entries will be verified.  Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Winner will be notified via email.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.  Please check your SPAM folder!!!
  • I am not responsible for lost packages.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

45 Pounds (More or Less) {by K.A. Barson}

Title: 45 Pounds (More or Less)
Author: K.A. Barson
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:
She is 16.And a size 17.Her perfect mother is a size 6.Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.
Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother. 
And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

I loved this book. It was so fun and cute. It's a quick, light read. If you're not sure what to read next, or in a bit of a slump, I would definitely recommend this book. 

Ann is, well, fat. And she knows it. Thanks to her mother, who is obsessed with weight. Ann feels hopeless, alone, and insecure, which causes her to never lose the weight, no matter how many diets she goes on. But when her Aunt Jackie announces she's getting married, and wants her to be her bridesmaid, Ann decides it's now or never. And this begins her hilarious journey.

The book begins with a scene where Ann gets stuck in a dress in the changing room, which sets the stage for the rest of the book. Barson does such a good job of actually getting inside Ann's head. Her emotions are so real, and so accurate. She did a perfect job of relating the struggles of a fat girl who thinks she can't lose weight.

This book also spans a myriad of emotions. It's hilarious, sad, funny, and serious. We laugh when Ann gets stuck in the dressing room, we cheer her on when she finally goes for a run, we sympathize when she feels worthless and insecure, and we're sad when she emotional binge eats.

I also loved the different relationships shown throughout the book. Ann lives with her mother, stepfather, and twin half-siblings, who are four. Often, she feels like an outsider. Her father, who is remarried with two stepchildren, has mostly abandoned her. And her brother, the only one who understands, went of to college and abandoned her as well. This book could have easily been about her childhood problems that led to her being fat, blaming her parents and her circumstances. But it didn't. Sure, those are the issues in her life. But the book was about Ann overcoming. I also loved the dynamic of extended family, and how important family is, no matter how messed up they may be.

Ann isn't a perfect character. She may not even be the most likable character. She's whiny, she procrastinates to the point of frustration, she self-loathes, and makes excuses. But she isn't a hateable character either. She is perfectly flawed for her age, and what she is going through. She is hilarious, fun, and sweet.

Ann and her mother have such a rocky relationship. Her mother is skinny, hardly eats, and nags Ann for eating too much or not exercising. This makes Ann feel like her mother is against her, when in reality, it's the only way Ann's mother knows how to act. Ann's mother may be too much in Ann's face when she doesn't want her to be, but she also is there when Ann needs her to be. I think all girls go through a stage like this with their moms at around this age, and so young girls will be able to relate.

Her budding relationship with Jon is, in one word, adorable. It isn't love-at-first-sight. He isn't so amazingly hot. He's Jon. He's awkward, shy, and kind of dorky. She's awkward, shy, and kind of insecure. ("I like cheese", anyone?) But they are definitely so cute together. They had be smiling to myself on more than one occasion. 

But one of the things I loved best about this book, is that in the end, Ann realizes it's not about weight, it's about health. And that is such an important message that I think all teen/pre-teen girls need to know. It takes Ann and her mother realizing how they are already harming Libby (who's four!) to start working on overcoming their issues with weight.

This was such a sweet, fun book. Although light, it also deals with serious issues. I would recommend this book to anyone, and since it's pretty small, comparatively, it won't take much to read it :)

K.A. Barson

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tiger Lily {by Jodi Lynn Anderson}

Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon |  Barnes & Noble

Tinkerbell narrates the magical, bittersweet love story between Tiger Lily and Peter Pan. Tiger Lily has never been truly accepted by her tribe, and now the elders have decreed marriage to a man she doesn’t love. She spends more and more time alone in the woods, where she meets wild, fearless Peter Pan, leader of the Lost Boys.
Tiger Lily is intoxicated by the freedom she feels with Peter, and falls under his spell. Their love is all-consuming, and she risks everything to be with him.
Then Wendy Darling arrives in Neverland.

Wow. Guys, this story. I was not expecting this. It was captivating and sucked me in from the very beginning. It was such an emotional ride, and I loved every minute of it. I love how Jodi Lynn Anderson took our view of Neverland, of Peter Pan and Tiger Lily and Wendy and Tinkerbell, and completely changed it. Made us doubt everything we ever knew. 

(Little side note here...I have never seen Peter Pan. Not the Disney version, not a movie version even though we own the one with Jeremy Sumpter, not a play version, nor the real story version. Now, I do feel that I have at least seen the beginning of the Disney version, perhaps multiple times, but I never get very far in my recollections. Definitely never get to Tiger Lily. In fact, I had no idea she existed until maybe about a year ago, when I discovered DisneyBound and had no idea who she was. So I went into this story completely ignorant and unbiased.)

First off, I love that the story was narrated by Tinkerbell. Obviously, since she doesn't talk in the movies, we don't get much from her point of view. So I think that it's awesome that she gets to get a word in, but also since she's a fairy and can flit away and eavesdrop on things, we get a wider scope of view on what is happening. She is often portrayed as the petty little fairy, and here we see that she is so much more than that.

I also loved the characters and their portrayals. They were so different from how they are usually portrayed (unless I'm missing something because I've never actually watched it).

Tiger Lily: She was strong, independent, and didn't need anyone or anything. But she also had a soft heart, with the way she cared for her father. And as much as she didn't admit it, she also had a certain vulnerability. One that we see when everything starts to go wrong.
Peter Pan: I think Peter was actually still like the Peter we know, albeit maybe a little older. He falls for Tiger Lily because she is just as strong, independent, and invincible as he is. But soon he begins to realize that isn't enough. Peter has taken care of the boys for as long as he can remember, and we see a vulnerability also in him in the way that he's scared. He just wants to be the macho manly caretaker, and wants someone who can simply affirm that.
The Lost Boys: The Lost Boys were so cute. They added a fun and cute dimension to a book that would have otherwise been too serious. 
Pine Sap: Can I just say, I loved Pine Sap. Seriously, he was so sweet. Even when it was obvious to everyone but her that he loved Tiger Lily, and she went off to be with Peter, he just stuck by her. Even after her lying to him, and hurting him, he was still there for her even when Peter wasn't. Even if it wasn't ideal, I love the way this book ended for him.
Wendy: Anyone who loves Wendy will not like this representation of her. I can't really say that it's her fault, but still. Since the book is about Tiger Lily and Peter Pan, she wasn't in it until the end. Obviously, she plays her part in the story line, but other than that there isn't much to say about her. Except that Tiger Lily/Peter Pan shippers will hate her ;)
Reginald Smee: This character representation surprised me most, so I had to include him separately. Smee isn't your cowardly, wavering first mate in this book. Slightly creepy. Although Hook has instructed him only to kill Peter Pan and to not touch Tiger Lily, his strange fascination with her makes him obsessed with wanting to kill her too.
"Reginald didn't kill because he had no heart. He killed to make himself cry, and he only killed people he admired." -page 58
Hook: Hook is your typical Hook. Cowardly, drunk, miffed at Peter and bent on killing him and his lost boys. The origin is actually that Hook and Smee used to kidnap young boys to kill them, and Peter actually rescued quite a number of them. Hook would go around asking Neverlanders if they had seen his "lost boys" and the name stuck. Also, the story of how he got a hook for a hand is quite mundane and embarrassing :)

Tiger Lily was found abandoned as an infant by the Shaman of the Sky Eaters, and adopted by him. Much to the chagrin of the other villagers, he lets her run pretty free and wild. She saves an Englander that washed up on shore after the villagers elected to just let him die, and that is the last straw. They arrange her marriage to an oaf, and she starts slipping away to spend more and more time in the woods. It is here that she meets the fabled Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and starts spending time with them. Drawn to Peter, who is very much like her, the two begin to fall in love. Things getting worse in the village, with her marriage looming and an Englander who has turned the villagers to his ways and against the Shaman, and Tiger Lily is left trying to find a way to be with Peter.

But also on the island, as Tinkerbell can tell us, are the pirates. Hook and Smee and the rest. Hook is plotting Peter's death, and Smee has an agenda of his own with Tiger Lily. But with the two lovebirds only focused on each other, will they not notice before it's too late? And then, Wendy Darling arrives in Neverland.

This story was very captivating and emotional. When everything was taken away from Tiger Lily, she lost herself. But she also finds herself again, and I'm glad. The majority of this book isn't too emotional. You don't even realize you have become invested with the characters until--wham, everything comes at the end.

Yes, this book is sad. The ending is probably not "ideal" (especially for Tiger Lily/Peter Pan shippers) but it actually is perfect for the story. But it's not a depressing book. It's filled with hope, love, sadness, a bit of grief, laughs, and a new view on life. I loved it, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone.

Jodi Lynn Anderson:

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