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Review: While The Sun Is Above Us

Brooke Banks | 3:46 AM | | | | | 1 Comments


Title: While the Sun is Above Us  
Author: Melanie Schnell  
Genre: Adult, Contemporary,
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Freehand Books (Broadview Press)
While The Sun Is Above Us takes readers deep into the extraordinary world of Sudan through the intertwined narratives of two women. In the midst of a bloody civil war, Adut is brutally captured and held as a slave for eight years. Sandra, fleeing her life in Canada, travels to South Sudan as an aid worker but soon finds herself unwittingly embroiled in a violent local conflict. When chance brings Adut and Sandra together in a brief but profound moment, their lives change forever.

In captivating prose, Melanie Schnell offers imaginative insight into the lives of innocents in a land at war, rendering horrific experiences with exquisite clarity. While The Sun Is Above Us explores the immense power of the imagination, the human desire for connection, and the endurance of hope.

“Schnell’s prose is transparent and true, and her voice is haunting, full of emotional clout. Hers are characters made of flesh and blood—they are brave, vulnerable, strong and, ultimately, alive with hope.”—Lisa Moore

”An urgent and powerful story about two women speaking to each other across every imaginable divide. This is a story that needs to be told!”—Buffy Cram, author of Radio Belly


I've won a copy of this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

I think I've said "wow" 15 times after finishing this book, trying to figure out how to write this review.

When I saw this book on the Goodreads giveaways page, I knew I wanted needed to read it. When I saw the book was written by a white Canadian woman, like Sandra in the book, I was a bit worried. I worried that Sandra would dominate the book unfairly and that it would be all about her perspective. Or it would become another tale of "whitey saves the natives from themselves". I also worried that Adut wouldn't be come across with the accurate perspective of a native Sudan woman and would instead sound whitewashed.

After reading, I find those fears were unfounded and  think Schnelle pulled it off expertly. From her bio on her website it says she lived in Sudan and from the Acknowledgement page in the book it's clear Schnell did an extensive amount of thorough research. I'm impressed with her effort and think it paid off.

{Admittedly, though  I do not have first hand experience with Sudan or its people. All my knowledge, limited as it is, comes from news sources - which is hardly a bastion of objective reporting anymore. Thus, my statements are qualified with "I think".}

Both women have distinct, compelling voices. While I was able to grasp early on what happened when the two women crossed paths, I didn't know what lead up to that point. I was completely enthralled by these women and couldn't stop reading their story. Not only to find out what happened but also because it's written so well. This book is written so beautifully. The writing is crisp, clear and direct,which I think matches the subject and characters perfectly. I love how the women alternated telling their stories and how they switched between past and present.

It's an enjoyable read in a gripping, heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, stomach-turning kind of way. It's a great book. It's just not for the faint of heart. It's not gory, glorified or graphic but rather matter of fact and straightforward. It's so realistic and perfectly on point, I started to wonder if this did in fact really happen. That's how good was.

When Sandra and Adut are done telling their stories, it sticks with you after. What happened in this book is so haunting and their voices so strong. There is also the lingering questions that don't get answered. There might not even be answers to those questions but I couldn't help wondering anyways. The questions are ultimately minor in relation to the overall story but still, I'd love to know how it is all connected.

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Review of Midnight: Century of the Vampires #1

Brooke Banks | 11:09 AM | | | | Please comment!

Midnight: Century of the Vampires (Midnight, 1)Midnight: Century of the Vampires by Ami Blackwelder

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

FYI: I received a copy through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program in order to give an honest review. I haven’t read any of the author’s other work.

Hit or Miss? Midnight didn't even get up to the plate.

Recommend: Not in its current state. (Dec. 20th, 2012) Maybe with severe revisions.


This really felt like an incomplete, rushed rough draft and no, not because it was short novella either.  There were lots of typos in my copy for some reason. Mostly words with double l's missing an l. Of course, while typos are distracting they are  minor and easily correctable. This novella as more critical issues with believability and logical follow through. There's potential but if this is going to be the story's final form, then I can't in good conscious recommend it. I honestly didn't enjoy it, though I might have if things were fixed/changed. I was thinking of not rating this as it really does feel incomplete but I’m suppose to review the copy I have. For now, it is what it is.

  Specifically: ****Spoilers****

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The Ultimate Fan of Beth Revis?

Brooke Banks | 4:14 AM | | | Please comment!
Ok, so author Beth Revis is having this amazing giveaway for her fans:
The Grand Prize!

Now, most of the entries are for reviewers of her books Across the Universe, A Million Suns, and Shades of Earth.

Here's the catch - I haven't reviewed them because I haven't read them. So why would I enter a giveaway specifically for the ultimate fan? Part of me feels bad and thinks I shouldn't enter to let the real fans win it. The other part of me wants to win it so badly. I've heard so many great things about this series and think it would be mine kind of book. I've entered into SO many giveaways to try and win these books.  I don't have the ability to buy them and neither does my small family so my options to read them is giveaways or piracy. I have not and will not be a pirate because I don't want to take away from authors. I can't do the library either because my ex stole my card, took out a bunch of CDs and movies that he didn't return. I owe the library money and can't take out books until I pay it, which I can't do. (That dude is an asshole and hit me where it hurts)

Of course, I haven't won them yet so how can I say I'm the ultimate fan? I'm still a fan of Beth Revis because of the awesome person she seems to be. (I say seems only because I haven't talked to her personally.) I'm still a fan because I've entered, followed, tweeted and shared these books so many times through so many different giveaways. I want to read them and will absolutely review them when I do. And believe me, I will my get hands on these books because I want them so badly. For the giveaways doing gift cards and books of choice, guess which choice I'm going to make?

 A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming
Yep, that's right.

That's why I want to win. This is why I'm different than most people entering. I'm being honest and can't call myself the ultimate fan.  I'd quite honestly be happy with the third runner up prize, so I can finally read the books. Should I pass up the giveaway for others? Maybe. If Beth Revis thinks I shouldn't win, then I'm okay with that and will bow out completely. I can't say I deserve to win but *I* know how much I want this and how it would just third place would make my year.

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2013 TBR Reading Challenge

Brooke Banks | 10:58 PM | 1 Comments
(Note: Blog is currently under construction. Constant construction....please don't judge me! I know nothing and am slowly, painfully learning my way.)

I'm totally joining the 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, hosted by Evie @ Bookish! I love reading ARCs and all that but a lot of books I just want to read have fallen by the wayside because of this. So, I'm pledged to work on my TBR list and want to make it to tier "Married With Children" in the challenge. Or at least try to.  I even have a plan of action! I'm going to read one ARC, then read a TBR book, and switch off like that.

The Appeal: 

We all have those books. We buy them, win them, they're gifted to us.. Then we put them up on a bookshelf and there they stay, collecting dust, waiting for the time when we'll finally decide to pick them up.. 
Join us on a quest to dust off your TBR Pile and read all the books you've been telling yourself you'll read next time you'll get a chance.. This is your chance! And we've got PRIZES!!! :D

Challenge Guidelines:
  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013.
  2. Anyone can enter! You don't have to be a blogger, as long as you review the book you've read! (On your blog, Amazon or Goodreads/Shelfari!)
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2012 and earlier! NO  2013 ARCs and 2013 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2013 TBR  PILE Reading Challenge. (If you don't have a blog, post about it on Facebook or Tweet!)
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2013, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  8. On the 20th of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this monthFor each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. The giveaway will be open until the next wrap up post goes up! (i.e. the entire month)
  9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;) 
  10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - a box of books
  11. You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!
(how many books you're planning to read for this challenge in 2013)

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

For more information check out the host post, Evie @ Bookish

Below is an extremely tentative list of books I want to read for this challenge, just to give you an idea of what I've missed out on.

  • Ephemera series by Anne Bishop
  • Moirin Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey
  • Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb
  • Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
  • The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • Tilt by Ellen Hopkins
  • Paraol Protectorate by Gail Carriger
  • Divergent/Insurgant
  • The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
  • Desert Rice by Angela Scott
  • Transcend by Christine Fonseca
  • Keeper of the Light series by Dejana Vuletic
  • Black City by Elizabeth Richards
  • Velveteen by Daniel Marks
  • The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefater
  • Elemental by Antony John
  • The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne
  • Rizzoli & Isles by Tess Gerritsen
  • Showtime by Cloe Kayne
  • The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
  • City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
  • Anna Karenina
  • Grimspace by Anne Aguirre
  • Origin by Jessica Khoury
  • Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
  • Rootless by Chris Howard
  • The Fox's Mask by Anna Frost
  • Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson
  • Finding ELE by Rebecca Gober & Courtney Nuckels
  • Matt Archer Monster Hunter by Kendra C. Highley
  • Night Angel series by Brent Weeks
  • Elemental Assasin series by Jennifer Estep
  • Night Marchers series by Rebecca Gober & Courtney Nuckels
  • Greta and the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs
  • Legend series by Marie Lu
  • Causal Enchantment series by K.A. Tucker
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Lanin Taylor
  • City of Bones
  • Matched
  • Clockwork Angel
  • The Luxe
  • Rot & Ruin
  • Unearthly

......and the list goes on and on and on and on...

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Status Report

Brooke Banks | 7:18 PM | 1 Comments
Well, I'm sitting here with two reviews to write, 6 books to read and a blog to design.

I jumped into my own blog knowing nothing and am currently over my head. For now, I'm going to keep doing reviews on Goodreads, Library Thing, Shelfari, etc and designing my blog at night. Once I get things the way I want them, I'll put my full effort into my blog. I'm nit-picky and particular so just looking at my blog the way it is makes me itch. I don't know why or how but I like things a certain way and until I get them correct, I'm not going to be able to focus on just blogging. Since changing the template changes blog posts I'm not going to keep posting since once I get the template/design how I want it, I'm going to have to correct each post.

Hopefully, it won't take too long. In the mean time I'll keep working on my writing and my reviews.
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Review: Hanging by a Thread

Brooke Banks | 12:24 PM | | | | | | 1 Comments

Hanging by a Thread
Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield
2 1/2 Stars: It was just okay for me, but someone else might get into it.

I won this book from a giveaway through Adventures in YA Publishing.
FYI: I haven't read any of the author's work before this so it's completely new and reading it as a stand alone novel.

I thought this book was okay. I liked it but not really liked it. It could have been better. I think the characters were done well. Their relationships were dynamic and made sense. The love interest was instant yet they didn't try to make it deeper by talking much about common interests. It's flimsy and I'm not an insta-noodle-love fan. Lust? Yeah, got it. Love, though, I don't buy the ramen noodle approach to it. Usually there's some dire circumstances pushing them together or a paranormal connection like soul mates to make it work. This time around it's Jake pretending to care about clothes and the teenagers are model hot of course. I'm wondering now what will happen next when old friends meet new and Jack learns the little secret about Clare. The characters did progress, which usually I'm head over heels for but in the total package there just wasn't enough for me. But is it enough to go on to the next book? I don't know. I really don't care and probably won't think about it at all once I'm done with this review. I think it will depend on what's the next mystery.

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