Review: The Forestwife

The Forestwife by Theresa Tomlinson

Series: Forestwife Saga

Pages: 170

Genre: Fantasy, Childrens, Fairy Tales, Adventure

My Rating: 5/5

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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“Deep in Sherwood Forest, there lives a community of outlaws. These heroic people have escaped the cruelty of medieval England’s lords and their unjust laws. The brave young Robert (alias Robin Hood) is one of these rebels; the Forestwife, a woman with magic healing powers, is another. Soon a fifteen-year-old orphan named Mary will flee into the forest to avoid the fearsome marriage her uncle has arranged for her. She will not be heard from again, but the legend of Maid Marian, the Green Lady of the woods, will have begun.”

My loverly friend and I have started sharing books with each other, which works especially well considering we’re both big into fantasy. Even Friendly Giant has told me about books I need to read, so be prepared!

The Forestwife was a lovely book, full of magic and intrigue. I have a wild imagination, so this really piqued my interest. As you can tell from what the back of the book says, it’s about a girl named Mary that runs off into the woods to escape a terrible marriage she wants no part in. Luckily, Agnes, a good friend, helps her in her journey.

Personally, while reading this book, I imagined everything, from the trees to the deer. When it talked about the Forestwife’s house, I imagined a very large oak tree with a door in the trunk filled with shelves upon shelves of herbs and healing potions… corners with burlap sacks full of grain… I’ve always been into learning about natural approaches and this basically is how I always wanted to be.

If you have a vivid imagination, it’s a wonderful read.

I didn’t even really grasp the romance. It wasn’t pronounced or ugly, it was just… there. Hell, I didn’t even mind the birth stuff… not that much anyway.

And the ending? Holy bajebus…

It’s always fun to share books from your past, and I’m really glad she shared this with me (onto the next one, right?!). I gave it a 5/5 because it dragged me into the world, and I actually liked the main character for once. Not only that, but this is the type of book I would’ve read when I was younger, and it was beautifully written, thus, appreciated even at 21.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

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Review: Splintered

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Series: Splintered

Pages: 371

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling, Romance, Adventure

My Rating: 5/5

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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“This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.”

As most of you know, I’m incredibly stingy when it comes to giving out 5 stars. Very few books I’ve ever reviewed have received a full 5/5 grade.

Splintered is about this girl named Alyssa who has to go to Wonderland so she can have the answers she’s been craving and also to get her mother out of the asylum.

Personally, I’m a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. I liked Disney’s movie, I like the books, the retellings, even the games. If you give me something that’s based around Alice in Wonderland, I will generally fall in love, and Splintered was no exception. I fell for this book almost immediately after reading the first paragraph. It takes you into a new world; one you’re vaguely familiar with, but becomes something wondrous in its own right.

I don’t read things to look smart or show off, I read things that appeal to me, which sometimes means I’m reading children’s books, like The Twits or a Goosebumps book.

Splintered really dragged me into the world of Alyssa and her family. She was a young, courageous, innocent girl that did nothing more than follow her heart. And the writing style was fantastic. It wasn’t written in a “sing-song” way, or a dumbed-down way either, it was just perfect. The imagery within made you feel like you were apart of the story. You could see the stars, feel the ocean, taste the oysters, and smell the decay. All throughout this novel, you were part of the story, you were Alyssa, or Morpheus, or Jeb. You were one of the characters. You felt what they felt, you were there the entire time. A lot of books don’t have the power to drag you in like this one did.

I really liked Alyssa, she reminded me a lot of myself. Innocent and shy with a lot of pent up emotion, just to come out later on as a woman who knows what she wants.

I liked how the characters weren’t solely based off of the Disney movie, nor were they based purely off the book. Howard gave a part of herself when she unleashed her imagination, which was a dark, sometimes grotesque picture. I loved it.

What can I really say about this book? I loved it and if you like Alice in Wonderland, chances are you’ll like it too. I can’t even really complain about the love triangle (that happens in EVERY YA book) because it was interesting. Personally, Morpheus reminded me a lot of M, which sounds weird, but just the way he acted… very protective.

So why did Splintered receive 5/5?

Truth be told, I’m extremely biased. I love Alice in Wonderland and I love reading about other peoples’ interpretations. It’s more of a girly read, but hey! I’m a girl, so it’s okay! And I’d definitely recommend it if you like even the thought of Wonderland and the creatures within. Just keep your mind open, for your own sake.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Review: Secret Daughter

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Pages: 342

Genre: Adult Fiction, Cultural, Mom Lit

My Rating: 3/5

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“On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favours sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter’s life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families – one Indian, one American – and the child that indelibly connects them”

I have to start this review by saying that I had to read this novel for my English class this semester.

I thought this was a well-written piece, though not being my piece of cake. Within the first few “chapters”, it had me wanting to throw it at a wall. Seriously! The subject of birth and parenthood and… it just upset me. You go on to find that Somer has issues with her body and it made me so upset because I also have ovarian problems and there’s a good chance I can’t have children, not that I want them this second, but still is remains. Reading that really caught me off guard, and when Kavita was actually giving birth to the children, I couldn’t help but scrunch up my face in terror. I am absolutely petrified of childbirth, and reading that did not help me at all!

And Jasu! Gah! I feel a bit bad for Jasu. It seemed as though he really did care about his daughters, he just knew he couldn’t keep them. But poor Kavita… could you imagine having to give your child up just because they couldn’t work in the fields? That would absolutely destroy me! And obviously, it haunted both of these parents.

My favourite part about this book had to be Asha (Usha). She’s my age, is a journalist, and is so confused yet so aware. It’s difficult to explain why I liked her, I just really enjoyed reading her “chapters.” She’s a child that doesn’t know her birth parents, has difficulty with her adopted mother, and is trying to figure herself out. But that brings me to my next point…

The end of this book was so sad… well, I guess it was actually quite happy. Very happy. But it made me say “awe” out loud. Just a couple of years… (to keep this spoiler free, read the book and you’ll understand)

I suppose this book gave me an insight into India though. I’ve never known a lot about India, I won’t lie, and it’s fascinating. It’s like any other place, just… different. One day, I hope to go – it can’t ALL be bad and depressing!

Secret Daughter was a quick and easy read (the terms you don’t know are at the back of the book), it kept my interest, but I only gave it 3 out of 5 stars because it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have (I’m a read for pleasure type of gal), don’t get me wrong though, it was well written.

Enjoy and happy reading!

This was a half-assed review, sorry.

Spring

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Spring? Are you here yet?

Spring on the coast usually means rain. I’m getting tired of rain. I miss the sunshine and the way the air smells, the freshness, and the brightness of all the flowers coming to life.

Spring marks a lot of things for me and it sparks a lot of memories too. Spring was when it started getting warmer and I could quit wearing snow-pants, not to mention, March is my birthday month. 😉

This year I’ll be 21. My parents (thanks to my Brother) have decided to take me to the Aquarium.

Who expected that one?

I’ve been dying to go to the Aquarium since we moved back to the coast, yet, I’ve never been. I have an unhealthy fascination with animals, especially the ones that live underwater. I’m excited about sharks and sea turtles… I hope they still have them.

A lot of people are afraid of sharks, but not me. It’s actually on my bucket-list to go swimming with them, cage and no cage. Honestly, you should be more scared of an orca than of a shark. Sharks are just curious creatures, not bloodthirsty human killers. Trust me!

I’m also looking forward to this other part. They have more than just underwater animals there, and I’m looking forward to seeing the snakes (who’da thunk it?). I think I may have an unhealthy obsession with snakes… even when I was a little girl, it was all about animals people were scared of. Actually, when I was a little girl, I was probably a freak.

I was obsessed with the following: Dinosaurs, bog-mummies, ancient civilizations, ghosts, aliens, and sharks.

I was a weird child, really, I was.

I ask people about bog-mummies all the time and no one ever seems to know what they are, so then I have to explain. People realize there’s more than just Egyptian mummies, right? There’s even “ice mummies.”

Friendly Giant has tried to convince me to do something for my birthday. I might, I’m not sure yet. Tim is working, I already asked him. And I highly doubt that Cheesecake Queen and Tophat would come without Tim. So I don’t know what’s happening…

Last year was pretty weird. My neighbours hosted a St. Patty’s Day/Birthday party (mine’s the day right before the husband’s) so I invited Friendly Giant and he came.

Tim was at a casino.

This party is where the infamous Tie Guy was introduced. His dance moves were stellar.

A lot happened that night. I got hit on, which I hated, Tie Guy tried to buy W’s shoes, Friendly Giant and some drunken fool got in a fight (sorta), FG also fell in the mud epically and no one saw it…

Tequila was also had! And nothing bad happened! Huzzah!

He showed me the “I’m An Ass Man” video, which completely reminded me of “We’re The Titans” so I had to show him that.

The next day, after crawling over him to get out of bed (it’s not my fault he wouldn’t move!), Friendly Giant decided to take me on an adventure. First, we went to Fort Langley. I got to see a train.

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Got to climb on it too!

It reminded me of when I was younger and went to the train museum in Revelstoke. I liked trains when I was younger, they were fascinating. Early on in the friendship, we both realized that we liked Revelstoke… and trains.

That was fun. The last time I was in Fort Langley it was only driving through, so seeing something from history was cool. Have I ever mentioned that I love history?

Onward we went!

We went down weird roads and eventually landed ourselves here:

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I think we found the Fraser, everyone!

There was a family there. Their children had pails and other neat toys.

I want to make a sandcastle now… though not at that river…

It was a very muddy place, and this time, I didn’t sink to my knees.

Eventually, it was time to leave, so we went on our way. Now, somehow, I think we ended up in Chilliwack… We had to have, there isn’t mountains like that here. We were just driving along, I got to give directions. “Left or right?”

Hmmm, left!

I think we found the route to a lake.

It was nice up there, the air was fresh.

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We had climbed enough to the point it started snowing…

Who needs directions? Just make your own way up.

The three of us (Tim included) had gone to another place to go 4x4ing where there was plenty of shotgun shells. Tim loved those things. We even kept some in the Jeep, they were our Redneck Tickets.

Can’t be caught without something proving you’re a redneck, right?

Tim would have been in his glory…

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I was almost tempted to grab one… but I didn’t.

We ended up on an army road and just kept following it around. It was pretty interesting.

Eventually though, it was time to go home. My Mom had told us we had to be back in time for dinner.

Okay, Mom…

So we ventured back home. I put a green feather boa on FG, bahaha. His face was priceless. So then we ate dinner. I wanted pizza. But I had cake! They got me a Winnie The Pooh ice cream cake! I’ve had Winnie the Pooh cakes before… I like Winnie the Pooh. I like Disney. I’ve always wanted a Cheshire Cat cake… my Mom makes cakes, she’s good at it.

I got a colouring book and a Winnie the Pooh mask painting kit.

Yes, at 20 years old, that is what I got.

I bought myself a dinosaur colouring book the year prior, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying “kid things.”

I usually don’t get anything. M’s the main feature of my birthday. He talks to me and unlike other people, actually SAYS, “happy birthday, S”. He always gets me something nice too… sometimes I feel really bad because he goes all out on me.

I love him though. I love what he does for me too. And not just birthday stuff, I mean every day stuff.

So, that was my birthday last year. I wonder what this year has to bring. Maybe it’ll be fun, we’ll have to see. Usually I don’t care but guys, AQUARIUM!

Fun fact: My Mom’s birthday is 2 days before mine, we can celebrate together. I hope she has a good birthday too… going to the Aquarium… 

Anti-Bullying

Okay, so as you all know (or maybe you don’t), it’s pink shirt day. What is pink shirt day? It’s an attempt to raise bullying awareness and blah, blah, blah. I don’t know if it’s world-wide or just Canada-wide, but there you have it. A wonderful blogger’s post inspired me to speak about bullying, it’s a very touchy subject for me.  There is definitely going to be heavy cursing, if it offends you, don’t read it.

I also got my mind whirring when I wrote this on Facebook:

“Again with the pink shirts. Instead of following a trend, why don’t you get off your asses and DO something about bullying? Bullying fucking ruined my life, you don’t see me wearing a pink shirt, no, because it isn’t going to help. What needs to be done is people getting off their lazy asses and actually DOING something about it, administrators caring about their students. I don’t care if you smash that bully’s teeth in, send him to prison for a week! Expel him! Turn him into soup! Niceness doesn’t work, and wearing a pink shirt when you’re not popular makes you an easy target. What the fuck is wrong with society? Don’t just jump on a bandwagon because it’s easy. If you’re really THAT anti-bullying, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.”

I sound cynical.

Surely, this isn’t right, is it? Someone that suffered at the hands of bullies, not liking pink shirt day? No, I am ALL for awareness, but I don’t like what it has turned into. Doing this is trendy, people that have never been bullied in their life, people that don’t even care, people that ARE the bullies, wear these shirts because it’s cool. All because it’s cool. What the fuck is wrong with you? You should be wearing a black shirt that says, “I can’t participate because I am the bully,” seriously, go fuck yourself!

I can remember the first time anyone ever called me a name. I admit, I was always a chunky kid, but I was healthy, I played sports, I was fit, I could run without my ribs hurting. I was 5 or 6 and this kid, who was my “friend’s” brother, came up and called me “fatso”. What the fuck is a fatso anyway? I’m fat…so what? No, seriously, what the fuck does it mean? And what made it even funnier, was the fact that he was probably 10 years old and he weighed more than I ever did!

And I understand that. Sometimes people that are bullied or are insecure bully other people.

That’s no excuse.

I think elementary school was the greatest experience for me. I was bullied, but to a lesser degree. Eventually, I started walking funny, so now, not only was I fat, I walked “like a retard.” In middle school, I knew everyone, everyone knew me, but they still made fun of me. This was a different breed of people though, they were absolutely great to my face, but once I wasn’t there, oh the things that were said. And after I got out of school with them, good lord, the things they said to me. These weren’t nice people, they were awful!

High school was the worst experience though.

I remember being scared to walk home alone. If Tim was there and he had to leave early, I’d fake sick just so I could leave with someone. Walking by that alley was the worst thing… My first year of high school wasn’t thaaaaat bad. I was bullied, but it was stupid things like, “oh, she’s fat” and “oh, she’s stupid”, just childish shit like that. Eventually, it grew to be worse. Much worse.

I attempted suicide multiple times throughout high school.

Yeah, I’ll admit it.

High school… well, it ruined my life. I lost all self esteem I had for myself, I’d hurt myself because it was the only way I could deal with things, I didn’t really have friends, or so I believed. Ugly girls don’t have real friends, you see. And the people that were my friends, only were because they felt sorry for me. Or so the story goes.

So aside from being scared to walk home alone, I was threatened quite a lot, laughed at a lot, and I attained a shitton of nicknames. My favourite, of course, being “the waddler.”

My friends heard things I didn’t. I had become so used to the abuse that I was able to ignore it and keep smiling. Of course, I never really ignored it, that’s not how it works, but I rocked that smile and boy did I fake it well.

I think one of my favourite comments was “she’s so fat, she broke her legs.” Yeah, because that makes sense. I loved that comment, I thought it was great, real original, you know? Not.

So we’ve gone through the whole, “you’re ugly, no one loves you, you’re stupid, you should kill yourself”, now’s where it turned physical.

My friends say that if they knew about it, they would’ve done something, but I thought they knew about it. I remember walking home with Tim after school one day and we got rocks thrown at us. I was pushed into things, I was hit. And guys, you always say, “no guy hits a girl, I’d kill them!” Well where the fuck were you when I was in school? Nobody stood up for me, nobody did anything.

I quit going to school because I was afraid. I was depressed, I was anxious, I was suicidal, and people kept on pushing. Me quitting school is what ultimately has ruined my life. I’ll be 21 with no diploma soon, and while I’m trying to get it now, it’s hard work. Sometimes I like to say that I should’ve just toughed it out, but how can someone deal with THAT much and continue? And don’t tell me I should’ve “told.” At first, I did the whole, “it hurts more if you tell”, but eventually I couldn’t take it. I was SCARED FOR MY LIFE! I can’t run away, how the hell am I supposed to deal with people trying to kill me? I told the Counsellor From Hell (I’ll talk about her some other time), I told my teachers, I told the principal, and lastly, I told the police. I was with Tim and the Friendly Giant the first time we went to the principal. I’m not sure they even remember that, or even know why they were there, but they were with me. The principal gave me a policeman’s phone number and informed them as well. The police woman came in and flat out told me that they were known to them and they’d do something.

Nothing was ever done.

I figured maybe they’d have to go to another school, or maybe the bullying would lessen. Haaaaa, no. In fact, it got worse. Nothing was ever done for me. Sometimes I wish I succeeded with suicide, it seems schools only pay attention when you’re rich or you’re dead.

Despite this being a shortened, less-involved story, you can tell just how much I hate bullying. I despise it. I’ve stood up for people (who later get mad at me, WTF), I’ve fought back, I’ve ignored, I’ve told people, I’ve kept it to myself… nothing fucking works. For the longest time, I wanted nothing more than sweet revenge. That is such a terrible thing to say, but these people made my life a living hell, why do they get to get away without paying any price, living happy, fulfilled lives? That’s not fair.

I’m the kind of person that believes everyone should be nice to everyone, even if you don’t like the person. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And definitely don’t punch the person.

It just angers me because this is such a popular thing, but it seems like no one’s really getting to the root of the problem. The administrator’s don’t care, and the parents of these bullies should be whooping their asses, literally, preferably with a wet leather belt.

Bullies are just going to keep getting away with it, the world will be in shock for a week when a kid kills themselves, and things will return to normal.

Bullying didn’t “toughen me up”, it’s different now than it was back in the day.

It’s unnecessary.

Pink shirts don’t solve anything. If you really feel strongly about anti-bullying, DO something. Go speak at schools, talk to your children, talk to other peoples’ children, even write a newspaper column. It’s just going to continue to get worse, so get off your asses and do something. Fixing it (though it’ll never completely disappear) isn’t as easy as throwing on a pink shirt.