Giveaway! Signed Paperback of The Shadow Prince + Swag

shadow-prince-giveaway

I have two awesome prize packs to giveaway!  You will get a signed paperback of The Shadow Prince, an “I HEART Haden” sticker, a pomegranate charm and 5 bookmarks.  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

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Entry Rules

  • Must be 13 years old or older to enter
  • Open to US/Canada only
  • Giveaway ends on May 4
  • Winner will be emailed and asked for mailing address.  The winner has 72 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen
  • Mailing address will only be used to mail the prize and not for anything else.  It will not be sold or shared with anyone.
  • There is one free entry and extra entries can be earned by sharing the giveaway on social media and following me and the author of Shadow Prince on twitter.
  • You can share the giveaway twice every day until the contest ends to earn extra points.

Good luck!

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Book Review: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

Book Review: The Year of Living Biblically by  A.J. JacobsThe Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs
Published: October 1, 2007
Format: eBook (388 pages)
Genres: Memoir, Non-fiction
Source: Purchased

 
From the bestselling author of "The Know-It-All" comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible.  Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.

The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history's most influential book with new eyes.
3 Stars

I read this book on a recommendation from a friend.  When I first saw it, it seemed like it was mocking religion.  The cover kind of says “See how ridiculous religion is? LOL.”  While there is humor, it’s more self-deprecating instead of mocking.  That being said, the humor wasn’t that hilarious.  It was more like amusing.  I was entertained by his writing and I surprisingly learned a few things.  It was a fast, entertaining read but the humor didn’t quite blow me away.

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I thought The Year of Living Biblically would be more about living primitively.  I kind of expected him to make bricks out of straw or something.  The author, A. J., was more focused on trying religion out in a bizarre way.  I was surprised that he actually got quite a bit out of his experiment.  He grew spiritually.  At the end, he’s not ready to join Judaism or anything but I really felt that he was changed and would think about morals a lot differently after this.  His motivation behind this experiment was his son and how to teach him morals.

I don’t want him to swim in this muddy soup of moral relativism. I don’t trust it. I have such a worldview, and though I have yet to commit a major felony, it seems dangerous. Especially nowadays.

– A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 39).

Seeing him adapt ancient commandments to a modern world was fun.  My favorite interpretation was for the commandment of gleaning which he described like this:

The idea of gleanings is one of my favorites in the Bible. It goes like this: When you harvest your field, don’t reap the entire field. Leave the corners unharvested so that the leftovers— the gleanings— can be gathered by the poor. It’s a beautiful and compassionate rule. Plus, the commandment rewards people for doing a half-assed job, which I think is a nice notion.

– A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 166).

If only we could be rewarded for doing everything half-assed.  A. J. decided to leave money at the ATM to follow this commandment.  He was concerned that the person getting the money was most likely rich and not poor, but it was the best idea he had since he didn’t actually farm.

I learned a lot about the Jewish faith from reading this.  A. J. actually explored a lot of religions during this experiment which I wasn’t expecting.  He had a lot of questions about how to interpret and live certain commandments so he interviewed leaders from a variety of religions.  I was familiar with Jewish kosher laws, but I had no idea where the tradition of them came from.  It’s such a neat story.

But the rabbis have a far more elaborate interpretation: Exodus 23: 19 actually means to separate milk and meat. Which is where you get the kosher rules banning cheeseburgers. Along with the myriad rules about how long you must wait between a meat course and a dairy course (from one hour to six hours, depending on local tradition) and whether you should separate dairy utensils and meat utensils in a dishwasher (yes). Strict Orthodox Jews believe that God gave these amplifications— the “oral laws” —to Moses on the mountaintop. That’s why he was up there for forty days . Moses passed on the oral laws to the Israelites, who told them to their sons, and so on until they were eventually written down.

– A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 69).

A. J.’s self-deprecating humor was great.  It wasn’t in there a ton, but when it was it made me smile.

I’m no handyman. Put it this way: When I watch Bob the Builder with Jasper, I always learn something new (oh, so that’s what a strut is).

– A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 78).

I also thought this quote was hilarious.  We all have an eccentric aunt Marti, right?

My aunt Marti , the vegan and animal rights activist, found out about my honey eating and sent me a rebuking email. The subject header was “The bitter truth about honey.” She listed all the ways the commercial honey industry mistreats bees. I won’t reprint it here, but her description of artificial bee insemination was disturbingly graphic. She signed the note, “Your eccentric aunt Marti.”

– A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 173).

I’m a religious person.  I’ve read the Bible.  So I was pleasantly surprised at some of the insights he found in the Bible that I had never thought about.  A. J. was struggling with infertility.  He talked about how the stories of infertility stood out to him and gave him comfort.

There is an upside to the Bible’s infertility motif: The harder it was for a woman to get pregnant, the greater was the resulting child. Joseph. Isaac. Samuel.

– A. J. Jacobs,  The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (pp. 19-20).

I liked his insight on how religion was a surprising paradox.  Having to make less choices because of all the commandments he was living was actually freeing to him and not confining like he thought it would be. He didn’t gossip and so negative thoughts just stopped occurring to him in the first place.  Religion was also surprisingly grounding to him.  It made him look at life realistically and honestly.

This book inspired me to be more grateful in my life.  I loved these two quotes about gratitude.  They are so true.

The prayers are helpful. They remind me that the food didn’t spontaneously generate in my fridge. They make me feel more connected, more grateful, more grounded, more aware of my place in this complicated hummus cycle.

– A. J. Jacobs,  The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (pp. 95-96).

I’ve never before been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day.

– A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 269).

So maybe it wasn’t a mind blowing, hilarious, laugh-until-my-sides-ache book.  But I’m still glad I read it.  It’s a nice reminder of the importance of religion and gratitude in my life and I enjoyed seeing someone going through the process of learning that, too.

If you could do anything for one year, what would it be?

This is the second novel I’ve read about doing something for a whole year.  The other book was Tolstoy and the Purple Chair.  I really love the idea of reading a book a day for a year like in Tolstoy and the Purple Chair.  A. J. Jacobs has written other books about year-long experiments including reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica, and becoming perfectly fit.  What one would you do?

Content Rating: Mild. Very mild language.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links.  

About A.J. Jacobs

AJ Jacobs

Jacobs is the editor at large at Esquire magazine. He has written for The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, New York magazine and Dental Economics magazine, one of the top five magazines about the financial side of toothcare.

In 2004, Simon & Schuster plublished the Know-It-All. It subsequently spent eight weeks on the New York Times paperback bestseller list. It was praised by Time magazine, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, USA Today, Janet Maslin in the New York Times and AJ’s uncle Henry on Amazon.com.

Jacobs grew up in New York City. His father is a lawyer who holds the world record for the most footnotes in a law review article (4,824). His wife works for a highbrow scavenger hunt called Watson Adventures. He lives in New York. He wonders if he fooled anyone with this third-person thing, or if everyone knows that he wrote this bio himself.

Character Profile for Daphne from The Eternity Key by Bree Despain

Eternity-Key-Bree-DespainThe Eternity Key by Bree Despain is coming out in two weeks on April 28 and I’m so excited! I’ve been waiting forever for this sequel to The Shadow Prince and I can’t wait to read it!

Fan-favorite author Bree Despain continues her modern-day romance trilogy inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades with this second book in her Into the Dark series.

Haden Lord, the disgraced Prince of the Underrealm, has chosen love over honor and will do everything in his power to protect Daphne Raines, the human girl he was supposed to bring to the Underrealm. Haden’s choice is put to the test as the Skylords and a figure from his past arrive in Olympus Hills with a plan that could destroy all of the realms.

Name: Daphne Raines (a.k.a. The Cypher)

Hair color: Golden blonde

Eye color: blue

Height: Just little over 6 feet

Build: Tall and curvy–often described as looking like an amazon.

Favorite food: BBQ bacon cheese burger with avocado and a single onion ring.

Favorite drink: Rootbeer!

Special skills: singing, guitar, floral design, animal charming, can hear special tones and music put off by all living/organic things. Uses these tones and sounds to read people and situations. (May be able to do even more with this ability–like control the elements.)

Weaknesses: Abandonment issues from being raised without her father, has difficulty letting people in, overly focused on her goals, can’t drive.

Life goal: Become a world famous musician on her own merit–not because her father is a the Joe Vince “the God of Rock.”

Character inspirations: Taylor Swift meets Dean Winchester from Supernatural Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Check out the other two characters on Bree Despain’s Blog

Haden

Tobin

 Get The Eternity Key

About Bree Despain

Bree Despain

Bree Despain is the author of the Dark Divine trilogy and the upcoming Into The Dark trilogy. Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo.

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Book Review: The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh BardugoThe Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #2.5
Published: June 4, 2013
Format: eBook (32 pages)
Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Short Stories, Young Adult
Source: Purchased

 
In Ravka, just because you avoid one trap, it doesn't mean you'll escape the next. This story is a companion folk tale to Leigh Bardugo’s upcoming novel, Siege and Storm, the second book in the Grisha Trilogy.
4 Stars

This fable has a little of everything – talking animals, a moral about being wise, and a girl to save the day.  Yep. A girl.  This is an adorable, well written companion story to the Grisha Series.  Even if you haven’t read the Grisha Series, pick up this charming fairy tale that stands well on its own.

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This was a gripping fable about a fox that is so clever he tries to outsmart death.  It doesn’t work out so well.  Luckily, he has a smart girl to come and save him.  We need more fairy tales to end that way.

Normally, a story about talking animals telling us how to be wise instead of clever would be tedious, but Leigh Bardugo sucks you right into the story. She gives the fable an Ugly Duckling twist and a good dose of feminism to make this fairy tale feel modern and different.  The other animals point out how ugly the fox is, but instead of crawling into a hole and whining about how he doesn’t fit in, he says this:

I can bear ugliness.  I find the one thing I cannot live with is death.

– Leigh Bardugo, The Too-Clever Fox (Location 61)

That’s a good way to look at life.  Optimism at it’s best.  Yeah, I’m ugly.  At least I’m not dead.

Nikolai is compared to the too-clever fox and they have a lot in common.  They are both clever, rejected by their families, loyal, and they both love to flatter people.

Fables don’t usually have magic.  This one doesn’t really have it either.  What looks like magic is really people looking for evil in the wrong place.  The fox is eager to have magic explain something instead of using logic based on the evidence he has.

Part of what makes the fox so clever is that he never uses the same way to escape twice.  My favorite way he escaped was by making a promise to some fleas and then HE KEPT IT.  He let fleas eat him alive for a year because he said he would.  That kind of loyalty is amazing to me.  Most stories are about how un-loyal people are. I found his loyalty refreshing and impressive.

All of Leigh’s short stories for this series have had a feminist slant.  This one did, too.  The girl is assumed to be harmless because she is young and pretty and lonely.  Leigh does a great job of playing off of our stereotypes and challenging them.  Even re-reading the fairy tale, I still didn’t want to believe that sweet young girl killed all those animals.  I found her trap so interesting.

The trap is loneliness, and none of us escapes it.  Not even me.

-Leigh Bardugo, The Too-Clever Fox (Location 268)

How is loneliness a trap?

I don’t really have a good answer for that.  I think loneliness trapped the animals because they trusted someone they shouldn’t have.  Or maybe she trapped them because they were traveling alone.  Buddy system people. The fox was only saved because he had the nightingale with him.  It makes me wonder how I get influenced by loneliness.  For me, loneliness only makes me feel powerless when I’m not making an effort to care about other people.  What do you think?  Do we get trapped by loneliness?  How do you escape that trap?

Content Rating: Mild, for a very brief description of skinning an animal while it’s alive.

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links.

About Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives in Hollywood, where she indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as makeup artist L.B. Benson. Occasionally, she can be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.

Her debut novel, Shadow & Bone (Holt Children’s/ Macmillan), is a New York Times Best Seller and the first book in the Grisha Trilogy. Book 2, Siege and Storm, will be published in 2013. She is represented by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of New Leaf.

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Exclusive Teasers from The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

The-Shadow-Prince-by-Bree-Despain-Paperback-BannerExclusive Teasers from The Shadow Prince by Bree DespainThe Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Published: April 14, 2015
Format: Paperback (512 pages)

 

 

I loved The Shadow Prince when I read it last year, and I’m so happy to be on the blog tour for the paperback release!  The Shadow Prince is like Percy Jackson for YA.  It’s a Greek mythology retelling of Persephone and Hades with a feminist twist and swoon-worthy romance.  If you haven’t read it yet, check out these exclusive teaser quotes from the book!

 

Check back next week for more teasers and a giveaway!  What do you think of the new cover?

About Bree Despain

Bree Despain

Bree Despain is the author of the Dark Divine trilogy and the upcoming Into The Dark trilogy. Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo.

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