Thursday, November 12, 2015

Psychiatric Tales by Darryl Cunningham

Psychiatric Tales is a graphic novel about the experiences that a mental health nurse had while he worked in a psychiatric ward. The book is divided into eleven sections, each with its own topic regarding mental illness. I am very interested in the topic of mental illness and have previously taken two courses on abnormal psychology in college and have done other reading on the topic. That being said, this book didn't tell me any new information, except for the few unique cases that the author personally experienced. 

This book is intended to be "stories about mental illness," but in reading it, it seems much more like textbook information on each mental illness with a few short mentions of personal cases. The information is all relevant and could be useful to people just starting to learn about mental illness, or ones who need to learn to be more sympathetic towards people who have these illnesses, but to those who are seeking this book out because they want to hear more about the topic and have been interested beforehand, it is probably just previously-learned information. 

I didn't think this book needed to be in graphic novel form, as many of the images didn't add anything to the text, and the text was basically just at the top of each box with the illustration underneath. It does make the book a very quick read, very easily done in one sitting. The drawing style is one seen in other graphic novels, such as Persepolis (which is even mentioned by the author as an inspiration for this book), but I felt that it wasn't executed as well as Persepolis and others like it were. 

Overall, it wasn't a bad graphic novel, but it didn't capture me in any way. If you are looking to find out basic information on mental illnesses, this would be a good resource to start with, but if you already have a good grasp on the subject, there won't be much (if any) new information here. 

Rating: 3/5 stars

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Synopsis: Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. 
Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. 
But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. 
From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.


Review: I enjoyed this book, for the most part. At first, it was somewhat difficult to get into it, but once the story picked up, I sped through the rest of it. This is an interesting story on time travel, especially because of the fact that the group of people travels once, and cannot go back to the time they were from originally. The story obviously brings up many questions about time travel and how time works in general. It definitely is a book that makes you think.

The characters were likable and relatable, yet they do seem a bit underdeveloped for most of the book. There is a lot of potential for their own backstories to be expanded upon even further, especially the main character, Prenna, and her family. 

The plot was very interesting, especially once I got further into the novel. It is not a simple plot, which is expected with most time travel books. I enjoyed where the plot went, yet some parts of it almost felt too convenient to happen the way they did. 

Overall, I did like the book, but not as much as I have liked other books by Ann Brashares. If you want to read an interesting time travel novel, I would recommend adding this one to your list. 

This ebook was provided to me through Netgalley. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Synopsis: Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.


Review: Bethany Griffin has impressed me once again. I loved her books Masque of the Red Death and Dance of the Red Death (inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe story "The Masque of the Red Death") and I looked forward to reading another Poe-inspired book of hers. Going into this book, I had high expectations, and it exceeded them.

The chapters in this book are very short, and are one-scene snapshots of the main character's life. This makes the book a very quick read, and kept me saying to myself, "Just one more chapter and then I'll go to bed." I really enjoyed how the story was laid out through skipping around in time. I felt that the format really worked for this book, and it helped build the story and the suspense. 

The plot itself is very close to "The Fall of the House of Usher," while also building upon that story, so as to not be a copy of the original work. I was really glad that it stayed true to Poe's story, and it was more like an expansion of the story (in an extended universe way). I was definitely impressed by this execution. It kept me hooked the whole way through, even though I already knew what ultimately happens in "The Fall of the House of Usher." 

Overall, I loved this book. I can honestly say that I have no complaints and cannot think of one thing I would change about it. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Synopsis: This story of a woman's struggle with oppressive social structures received much public contempt at its first release; put aside because of initial controversy, the novel gained popularity in the 1960s, some six decades after its first publication, and has since remained a favorite of many readers. Chopin's depiction of a married woman, bound to her family and with no way to assert a fulfilling life of her own, has become a foundation for feminism and a classic account of gender crises in the late Victorian era.


Review: I read this book for my American Realism and Naturalism class, and this book alone makes me glad I took the class. The text gave the class many great discussions, and I feel that this is a book that you will get the most out of if you have someone to discuss it with. 

The plot, at first glance, may not seem entirely engaging, but the beautiful prose and underlying message add a great amount of enjoyment. As a Victorian woman stuck in a marriage and life she is not happy with, Edna begins to make her own choices regardless of how others may feel about them. The reasoning behind this leads to a great amount of discussion about feminism. Throughout the book, I made numerous notes on specific quotes and entire sections that help prove the point that women are human, and are neither possessions nor something to be controlled. 

I felt that I could relate to Edna, even though I am not a Victorian woman stuck in a loveless marriage. Her feelings are genuine, and they are worded in such a way that gets the reader to think about what these feelings mean, for Edna and women in general. If you have a simple grasp on feminism and what it stands for, you will easily be able to pick out the parts in the book that are a beautiful addition to feminist literature. 

Overall, I greatly enjoyed all of this book. It was never dull or unpleasant to read. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those interested in feminist literature. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm Back!

Hello everyone!

I have spent some time away from this blog because of various reasons, and I recently have decided to get back into book reviewing and blogging. I am going to try to review as many books as I can and keep this blog updated.

If you would like to contact me, please email me at


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Author Interview-Bryan K. Johnson

Hello everyone! Today I am posting my first author interview; I hope you all like it!
Bryan K. Johnson is the author of Yield, which releases today.

I asked him a few questions about his new book, writing, and reading.

Q: When did you start writing stories/books?
A: My journey as an author began first as an avid reader. I was given a box set of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was in the fifth grade by an influential teacher of mine. Even though some of the language was challenging for a ten-year-old, I really enjoyed the story and the amazing world of Middle Earth that Tolkien could create with each word. I read a lot in high school, moving into more science fiction and fantasy, enjoying everything from David Eddings and Brian Jacquez to more mainstream authors like Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Tom Clancy. I remember as I finished up one of Eddings's multi-part series having this odd feeling of disappointment in the pit of my stomach that it was all over. Eddings did such a masterful job of creating rich and memorable characters that they lived on in my mind well after the last page was turned. I honestly felt a little embarrassed that a book could affect me so much. That day, my mom could tell something was bothering me. She looked at me, and very matter-of-factly said, "Well, just write your own story then. Finish it the way you want." She said it like it was such an obvious thing. I started writing soon after, first with comic book stories, then screenplays, and finally my debut novel Yield.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being an author and writing?
A: To write is to create. It is as fluid as a plot twist or as concrete and tangible as the printed word. Writing is life. It constructs entire worlds on an anatomical scale, creating adventures one purposeful letter at a time. That is an incredible feeling for me, to know that what I put down someone else will ultimately pick up and experience in a completely unique way. There is something so incredibly freeing in that. Anything can happen when those words pour from your fingertips, like a monsoon of new possibility raining down. It is transformation itself—re-imagined at every glance.

Q: What type of audience do you write stories/books for? (ie: age range, genres, etc.)
A: I didn't really set out with a target audience in mind for Yield. I just wrote a story that I liked and felt very passionate about telling. I guess you could say that I am my own target audience. In the back of my mind, I did know the genre I was shooting for. I've always been a big fan of action, thrillers and science fiction, and thought my story would be a great combination of all three.

Q: How did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
A: I originally started down the path of visual arts. Creativity is one of those things that I think can easily cross over into other disciplines. Outside of writing, I love to draw. I sketched out many of my novel's characters and even some backdrops for Yield. You can check them out at: At one point in high school, I wanted to be a comic book artist but just didn't have the speed for it. The really good artists can finish several full pages in a day. I was also interested in graphics and animation, so I initially went to school for design and the media arts, receiving an Associate's in graphic design, finishing a Bachelor's program in advertising, and continuing on to get my MBA in marketing from the University of Liverpool.

I started writing at first as an extension of reading, and wanting to create equally memorable worlds for my own characters to inhabit. I started with the easier story lines of graphic novels, enjoying the illustrations at least as much as putting together the words. Even though my career took me into graphic design and ultimately the television industry, I never stopped writing. I've put together quite a few shorts that I'd love one day to expand out, and have also written a handful of screenplays. My current novel, Yield, was also once a screenplay, just begging to be freed. That story was clawing at the edges of my tab stops, refusing to be confined in such a restrictive format.

Q: How many books are you planning on writing in your Armageddia series?
A: From page one, I knew that the Armageddia story would stretch across at least three parts. To do it right, I knew it had to depict the epic journey and transformation of not only the characters, but also our country and world. There was just no way the story could fit into a single installment. 

I'm currently working on book two of the Armageddia Series, and love the direction it's going. I feel like I learned a lot while writing Yield, and that's helped my process on book two tremendously. The follow-up to Yield explores a darkening world, one filled with revenge, retribution, and a desperate struggle to find hope within the chaos. Book one saw the transition from normality to a new way of life. It was very sudden and immediate in the lives of Devin and the other characters. Book two of the Armageddia Series takes place a year later, and is more about the sustained struggle to survive, showing how the characters have changed in very different ways to do just that.

Q: How do you get the word out to people about your first book, Yield, so they can discover it?
A: I think that has actually been harder than writing the book! Becoming an author isn't simply putting together a compelling story with a unique hook, then watching the floodgates of success open wide. Becoming a published author with tangible numbers is far more difficult than just writing. There are a lot of other very talented writers out there, all competing with one another to reach prospective readers. New writers must be well versed in social media, able to network and build connections, be willing to invest their own time and resources, maintain engaging presences on a host of different platforms, and always be looking for ways to market themselves and their brand to new customers. I have an MBA in marketing, so thankfully I have a bit of experience in that arena. But trying to build credibility and a following takes time. New writers start at ground zero, regardless of how great you think your book might be. Don't get discouraged, but don't underestimate that either.

I've done everything from getting television and online ads, to networking across reader/writer sites like Goodreads, to contacting other media outlets and alma maters and submitting press releases. Authors also have to be marketers to get the word out in as many different places as possible.

Q: Where do you like to do your writing?
A: I lead a very scattered and chaotic life. I'm a moonlight writer with a busy day job, spending a lot of time on the road in addition to working 50+ hours a week. I write when I can in odd hotel rooms or bookstores, while also balancing time with my wife and kids when I'm at home. I was actually still writing Yield while finishing up my MBA program, too. I don't know how I juggled everything, but somehow you just find a way when you're passionate about it. Lately I've been more focused on the marketing of Yield, but when I'm in creation mode, I'll write in the evenings until the ideas stop flowing.

Q: What is your favorite book and why?
A: I just finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and was really impressed by the author. She did an amazing job of interweaving her world's backstory into the broader narrative, and creating an intense pace through the entire three-book arc. I think I read each book in about a day. They were just too good to put down. I love books like that.

Q: Who is your favorite author and why?
A: Dan Brown's gripping, page-turning style is one of my favorites. I think I read Lost Symbol in two days. Sometimes short chapters make things too choppy, but Brown does a great job of hooking his readers at each chapter break and making his stories really hard to leave. My favorite author growing up was David Eddings. His stories took me on amazing adventures with magic, knights, and the steady march of war. I was absolutely captivated by his fantastical characters and worlds, and was inspired to try building my own.

Thank you for checking out this author interview! If you'd like, you can buy Yield here:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kissing Coffins by Ellen Schreiber

Description: Not far from Dullsville, someone's lurking in the dark. . . .
After meeting the handsome and shadowy Alexander Sterling, goth-girl Raven's dark world has a bright, new glow. But as in her favorite movie, "Kissing Coffins," Raven knows that love always has its complications, especially when Alexander has a big secret to guard.
When Alexander suddenly disappears, Raven leaves Dullsville to begin a dangerous search to find him. Can she stay safe, no matter who--or what--she encounters on the way?

Review: For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I like the storyline and everything, I just don't really care too much about the writing style(otherwise I would've rated it five stars).
Also, the main character, Raven, is the most stereotypical goth ever. The author puts in as many "goth-y" things as possible: Edward Scissorhands lamp, Nightmare Before Christmas alarm clock, etc. I just try to look past it, but I don't know if Ellen Schreiber made her like this for a type of joke, or she just didn't know how to write about a goth. 
Overall, it was a good book, and I liked it for the most part. I'll be reading the next book in this series next(there are seven books so far I believe). I would recommend this book to anyone who likes vampire books(but REAL vampires, not the kind that sparkle).