How To Raise Your Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
This books reads less like a novel and more like a workbook, which is how a good self-help book ought to be. Branden doesn’t let his readers get away with just reading words on a page – he makes them work for their self-esteem.
Sometimes I am my own worst enemy – my harshest critic. Branden asks us to examine our behavior and question whose standards we are judging them by. Branden mentions that the exercises in this book are designed in order to help a person tap into their own subconscious thoughts, and this seems helpful for getting down to the roots of self-esteem problems.
I can honestly say that this book has helped me to get in touch with who I am as a person, and I feel like my self-esteem has improved since I’ve read it. That being said, this book is not a miracle insta-cure for low self-esteem. You will have to work at it. Fortunately, this book will show you how, and it’s worth it.
There And Back Again: An Actor’s Tale by Sean Astin
With this novel, Sean Astin chronicles his journey to become an actor portraying Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
Astin gives readers a rare glimpse behind the scenes and into the world of acting, in all its gritty, sumptuous glory. It is from this personal account that readers discover that the Helm’s Deep filming took “eleven weeks of night shooting”, and that Astin had to wear a wig. Where else would you get interesting details like that?
Astin takes on a down-to-earth, conversational tone with his writing, reminiscent of the style of Samwise Gamgee. The photos in the middle of the book are a delightful treat. Also, Sean Astin manages to write thoughtful and descriptive portrayals on his fellow actors, and this lended to my enjoyment of the text.
“Seer’s Destiny” by Aubrie Dionne
April 15, 2011
Vira, the fortune teller at the Carnival of Illusions, has grown accustomed to telling people what they may not want to hear. Her visions always come true. So what happens when Vira sees her own future, and discovers that she’s destined to be reunited with her true love, only to then be brutally murdered? Must Vira submit to her fate?
This story actually gave me chills. As with the other short stories in the Carnival of Illusions series, there is a dark undercurrent that passes through the characters’ lives. Vira comes across as a very sympathetic character and I found myself very interested in what fate had in store for her.
This was a very enjoyable read.
“Chameleon’s Colors” by Aubrie Dionne
April 13, 2011
Kaylee feels neglected by her scientist father, who holes himself away in his basement laboratory constantly. So one day, to get her revenge, she sneaks into his lab and drinks the concoctions she finds there. Much to her amazement, her skin turns colors. Feeling like no other options are left to her, she runs away and joins a carnival.
“Chameleon’s Colors” is the second short story I’ve read in Aubrie Dionne’s “Carnival of Illusions” and I’ve loved reading about the characters that populate this carnival. One of the passages I really liked was, “Her life was a charade of meaningless hoops to jump through; a fantasy show of pretend that threatened to engulf her spirit whole.” Having been a college student, there have been times in my life when I’ve felt that way.
I enjoy reading Dionne’s stories, because they are an inspirational blend of tragedy and redemption. She gives her characters strong motivations and adds in charming details, like how the characters gather to eat leftover carnie food. The only thing I thought was a bit awkward – a very minor detail – was that the cat’s name is Phoenix. It’s a cool name, but since the mythical phoenix is a bird, it became momentarily distracting to me. Nevertheless, “Chameleon’s Colors” is a fantastic story about the importance of staying true to yourself. I highly recommend it.
“Jester’s Folly” by Aubrie Dionne
March 28, 2011
After a horrible accident that claimed the life of her friend, Mina runs off to take up a job as a jester at an amusement park. This new job gives her freedom and anonymity, but once her tent is set on fire by an arsonist, she realizes that her safe, quiet lifestyle is in jeopardy.
From the very beginning, “Jester’s Folly” is a story that draws you in. A famous writer once wrote, “Don’t tell me that the moon is shining. Show me the reflection in the broken glass.” Aubrie Dionne does just that, drawing the reader’s attention to things like Mina’s scar. She proves that “the devil’s in the details” and uses them to paint bold, imaginative strokes across the page.
“Jester’s Folly” is part thriller, part escapist fantasy, a treat for the mind and an indulgence for the senses.
The Messenger In The Mist by Aubrie Dionne4/30/2011(5 Stars)
Dionne plunges readers into a mist-filled world. The novel’s heroine – a messenger named Star – is an integral part of the world she belongs to. Star is the fastest rider of the Interkingdom Carriers, ferrying mail between the kingdoms of Evenspark and Ravencliff, all the while attempting to evade the dangerous creatures called the Elyndra, who live in the mist and attack riders. When a fellow messenger is killed, Star vows to find a way to destroy the Elyndra. She teams up with the treacherous Fallon Leer, a man she doesn’t know if she can trust. Meanwhile, Star is struggling with her feelings for Prince Valen, who is betrothed to Princess Vespa. Star decides to try her hand at unraveling the mystery of the mist. But what can a messenger and a criminal hope to accomplish when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds?
Dionne’s wholly believable fantasy world is a joy to travel into. With unique creature species, it is somewhat reminiscent of The Dark Crystal. The story is a thrilling fantasy adventure, and in keeping with her other stories, all of the characters have strong motivations for acting the way they do. Aubrie Dionne shows a true mastery of the uses of the English language as she weaves together beautiful sentences like, “Together they were converse entities, like midnight and the moon, the horse absorbing light and the girl reflecting it as if a thousand glimmering particles dusted her hair and skin.” This book is a definite page-turner that keeps you hooked.
Passion’s Blood by Cherif Fortin & Lynn Sanders
The artwork and design for this work is incredible. It makes me want to keep this book in a treasured place on my shelves. The storyline follows Prince Emric and Lady Leanna, who are betrothed, and vow not to leave one another. But what happens when war breaks out, and Prince Emric is called away to battle?
I like that the storyline has ambiance to it. Also, the authors seem to have a firm grasp on medieval vernacular. However, the prologue is a bit confusing. Also, in the first chapter, the point of view switches back and forth, making it difficult to really connect with or like either of the characters.
Leanna and Prince Emric have lax sexual mores. They are betrothed and Leanna begins to get cold feet. Reading this, I got the feeling that maybe they should have gotten to know each other better before hopping right into bed. Also, Leanna nearly gives her body up to Bran and is ready to label it “rape” and yet she has done nothing to deny his advances or to fight back.
My main issue with this story is that in it, body and heart are one and the same. We can see this when Leanna says, “I looked into your eyes and knew that I could trust you with my body…with my heart.” My second issue with it is that Leanna is the traditional weak woman. I don’t like reading about women like that.
That all being said, this book has a good story concept.
Captured By A Rogue Lord by Katharine Ashe
The pirate Redstone and the Earl of Savege are both Alex – Alex Savege. Alex Savege and Serena Carlyle have a chance encounter and are smitten with one another. But Serena finds out that Alex is betrothed to her younger sister Charity. Is Alex and Serena’s love doomed?
This is a book that I won at a pirate workshop at the RT Booklovers’ Convention in 2011 in Los Angeles, and I was SO excited to have won it. This was the first book of Katharine Ashe’s that I’d ever read, and I was impressed by the depth of the fictional world she’s created. This book is exceptionally well-written and captivating. Also, there is something incredibly alluring about a noble whose alias is a pirate who attacks the ships of other nobles. I really like that Ashe created a different kind of heroine than the supermodel run-of-the-mill sort. With delightful plot twists and a strong, saucy heroine, this is one that will keep you up long into the night, unable to stop turning pages.
Now, after reading this book, I want to be captured by a rogue lord too!
Fae Eye For The Golem Guy by Robert C. Roman
Note: Although I am also published by Decadent Publishing, the following is my unbiased opinion.
Micah, a golem, and Ophilia, a fey, are interested in each other – only, they don’t know that neither of them are human. The story centers around an art museum, and there are characters from a variety of species, without the story becoming overly complicated.
Roman starts his story off “in medias res”, in the middle of things. I’d been wanting to finish reading this story for quite some time. After having to read Thomas More’s Utopia for a literature class, I found myself desperately in the mood for lighter fare. I knew that Robert C. Roman would not disappoint me. I soon found myself speeding through this story, caught up in the excitement of the action and the attitudes of the characters. Multiple questions raced through my mind: Why does Ms. Gelt have such an attitude? What, exactly, is that creature known as a “Vandal”? Why is our main character hearing voices in his head?
Robert C. Roman’s playful use of language made this a very fun read. Although this story isn’t for kids, if you’re an adult reader looking for a great literary escape, this is the story for you! This was a delightful read and I highly recommend it!
Twice Upon A Time (Anthology)
Note: Although I am also published by Decadent Publishing, the following is my unbiased opinion.
I thought to myself, “I’m a bit too old for fairy tales,” but began anyway.
I was delighted to find that this collection of modern retellings of childhood favorites was delightfully whimsical without being childish.
Although not my normal genre to read, I thoroughly enjoyed these stories and was inspired by the generous spirit of the anthology’s creation by writers eager to help one of their ailing friends.
Heart of a Pirate: A Novel of Anne Bonny
Brimming with sex, violence, and the things of piracy, this book is most definitely for adult readers and not meant for teens or children. That being said, as far as books go, this one’s a keeper. I got the chance to meet Pamela Johnson at the Pirate Festival in Sacramento, last year, and was impressed when she spoke of having spent 2 or 3 years doing the research for this novel. Her research certainly shows through in this eloquently written tale about courage and human action in the face of cold systems. This book shows that Johnson is deeply aware of the social atmosphere surrounding piracy, as well as the many temptations that caused men (and in this case, women) to take to the sea. She paints a realistic and yet empathetic picture of those involved, engaging readers in a way that no history textbook can, while also engaging readers in dialogue about the social issues presented. This is beautifully worded in the author’s Afterword to the text, wherein she writes, “Regardless, there can be little doubt that Anne was a complex figure, a source of dialogue in our quest to determine the true nature of equality and freedom for men and women of all persuasions, a touchstone in our attempts to understand issues of poverty, class, prison, and the death penalty.”
Sagebuster’s Domain by Frederick Ransom Gray
So I bought this book at the 2011 RT Convention in Los Angeles, back in April. Having been busy with coursework, I didn’t get a chance to start reading it until my assignments slowed down in November. By that time, I was so frazzled that I needed a good read to help take the edge off of things.
Sagebuster’s Domain is the story of Johnson Banner, a Don Quixote-type figure whose massive personality brings much excitement to the Wild West. I’d wanted to finish reading this book ever since I met Frederick Ransom Gray at a local bookstore several years ago. It ended up being the one book with the longest wait time on my “to read” list, and I’m not entirely sure why – you know, there’s always that one book that lingers. Nevertheless, talking with Frederick Ransom Gray was incredibly insightful and inspiring.
Gray tends to switch from one character’s point of view to another with each chapter, an effect used by Stephen King in the book Salem’s Lot. In that book, as in this one, the effect is that as a reader, the author paints a picture of an entire community and not just of one or two characters as they move through it.
Like myself, he seems fond of itty bitty chapters rather than long, drawn-out ones. The text itself does read a bit dry, and at times it is difficult to keep track of the many characters involved in the storyline, but this is a well-written and enjoyable read.