Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Ratchet, the Reluctant Witch" by Sara Pascoe GUEST POST

10:00:00 AM


Book: Ratchet, the Reluctant Witch

Author: Sara Pascoe

Genre: Young Adult

Page Count: 346

Synopsis: Be careful what you wish for. Fourteen-year-old Rachel Hollingsworth ('that's Ratchet to you, mate) is sick of living in foster care. Desperate for her independence, she runs away. But unaware she's a witch, she accidentally travels back in time to the notorious Essex witch trials, along with her social worker-witch mentor Bryony and Oscar the cat. They all face execution, their powers are failing and time is running out. They barely escape, but with Ratchet's powers still out of control, they land in Old Istanbul. Life is good here. In fact it's amazing. And her skills are coming on. She becomes known for her fortune telling, and eventually is invited to the Palace to read the Sultan's wife's future. But the Sultana has something else in mind. She holds Ratchet's friends hostage, until she does 'one small favour'. With her friends' lives in the balance, Ratchet has to make the most difficult decisions of her life, and carry them out - all on her own.


            I’m so jazzed to introduce you to Ratchet. It’s great knowing there are other Nerdgirls out there—thank you!

            Ratchet’s fourteen. Her real name is Rachel Hollingsworth. But that’s too soft for her. She prefers life with, and on the edge. She’s been in foster care most of her life, and has had enough. So she strikes out on her own, leaves her bland foster carer and the boring English village for London. But she didn’t realise she’s a witch and her untamed powers inadvertently send her back in time.
            Along with a sarcastic cat, that isn’t even hers, she lands in 1645 Colchester England, smack in the middle of the Essex Witch Trials—a dark chapter in history when hundreds of poor and disenfranchised women were killed for “witchcrafte”. With her spiky hair and jeans she sticks out like a vegetarian at a hog roast and gets thrown in jail with the other women who really were on trial (they didn’t call these places dungeons for nothing).

            Her social worker and witch mentor, Bryony, goes back in time to try to save her, but nothing’s working. All three of them, the cat included, face the gallows. (They actually executed cats in these witch hunts, too. And before that, they put animals on trial—for real. In fact they destroyed cats on a regular basis in Medieval Europe, and burned a bunch at Queen Elizabeth I’s Coronation. I learned SO much interesting and weird stuff doing the research for Ratchet. But most of it never makes it into the book. It’s a well-known vulnerability, “brain dumps.” It’s so hard not to share all this cool stuff you learn, but you’ve got to put only the details in that move the story forward. Thank goodness for my brilliant editor, Lindsey Alexander.)
            Anyway, back to the story. Ratchet, Bryony and the cat, Oscar, barely escape with their necks intact. But Ratchet’s powers are still untamed. They don’t return to modern London, but stay in 1645 but end up transporting over to Istanbul, instead. Now they’re cooking with gas. Continental Europe was a superstitious, fearful backwater next to the Ottoman Empire at this time. Don’t get me wrong—it wasn’t perfect, nothing is when it’s humans doing it, eh? But at this time in Istanbul, you had hot and cold running water, soup kitchens for the poor, free hospitals for people and animals. And women had rights. They could own businesses, bring cases to court. It was diverse—Muslims, Christians and Jews were all protected under the law. In fact, lots of women from Europe escaped abuse and other bad situations, running away to Istanbul which accepted them with open arms. Most of this only gets into the story in the most tangential way, but you get to see the Ottoman Empire at its zenith through the eyes of an increasingly less jaded teenager.
            You also get to meet Katip Celebi, a famous and forward-thinking scholar of the time. I read his original work (luckily translated into English), as well as lots about him. I wish I could have met him. Really cool guy. So the next best thing to figuring out how to a) time travel and; b) speak Ottoman Turkish, was to bring him into the story as one of the characters. And you get to meet regular Ottoman’s too, go inside their houses and sit down and have a meal with them.
              Ratchet becomes a celebrated fortune teller and life is finally really good. Maybe running away has given her what she wanted after all. Maybe she should stay in 1645 Istanbul, even if it means her mentor Bryony (and the cat, although you should see how well they treated cats then, so he’s not worried) would be stuck there, as well (due to the laws of time travel—the person doing the trip in, has to do the trip out).

              If this conundrum was not enough, through Ratchet’s not being able to resist the possibility of fame and glory, her dearest friends are put in danger if she doesn’t do one, last, dastardly deed. Can she? Should she? Does she stay in Istanbul?

               I’m happy to provide any of the sources not included in links, or answer any questions about this book, or what to avoid when self-publishing. Or about the official cat ladies of old Istanbul!

About the Author
Sara PascoeI came to writing after a career in psychology. From the Chimp House to the White House, with a lot of brain slicing in between, I had great fun and a lot of fascinating experiences.I adored the adventure of research, of being an explorer, as we carried out experiments to see what nature would reveal. I worked with some extraordinary scientists teaching chimps how to use language, studying how an enriched environment alters brain development, and how natural diseases ravage the human brain.

I also worked as a clinical psychologist in the US and the UK including the National Health Service, all rich and moving experiences. A public policy job in Washington, D.C., gave me a chance to work on programs designed to give more young people access to university.
Originally from the United States, I’ve lived on both coasts and in the middle—Chicago. I moved to Great Britain in 2004 with David, my husband, when his work moved him back to his native UK. We now live in Bournemouth, on the southern coast where we run a B&B for English Language students.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bout of Books 16 Intent to Participate

12:47:00 PM
Hey you guys! I know, it's been a hot second since I have posted anything on my blog. I'm in the final stretch of the school year and with exams coming up, I have to dedicate all of my time to preparing for that.

Despite this, "Bout of Books" is happening after my exams are over and the short time I am back home for the summer before my summer medical program. So, to help my Goodreads Challenge, I will be participating in the readathon.

So here is what "Bout of Books" actually is:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
It's a nice, chill time to read which is exactly what I need. So, if you guys have the time, you should totally do it as well! I would love to have some people to chat with during it and have some motivation.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Glass Sword" by Victoria Aveyard Review

11:43:00 AM


Book: Glass Sword

Author: Victoria Aveyard

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. 

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. 

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. 

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.    
(Don't even get me started on the problems I have with this synopsis)

      Going to be honest, coming into this book, I did not have the highest of expectations. I read "Red Queen" when it originally came out, and loved it, but when "Glass Sword" came out, almost everyone who I follow did not rate this book so high, so I was a little skeptical of reading this. I put it off for a while, but I finally picked it up. That being said...

     I was disappointed. I did not like this book even remotely as much as the first book, and I think my main problem was Mare. I hated Mare with a burning passion throughout this book. I don't know what happened, but she suddenly became this cold bitch with a "mightier than thou" attitude. I cannot tell you how many times she tried to invalidate someone else or say "I am the lightning girl, I am more important" or some bullshit along those lines. At this point, I would lowkey be okay with her dying because she is just getting on my damn nerves. She needs to get over herself. I don't why she suddenly felt she was the most important person in the whole damn universe, but she isn't, and I need her to realize that.

      When it comes to the other characters, for the most part I liked them a lot more than her, though I finally understand why people say they are like the "X-Men". Watching them get newbloods was exactly like watching the "X-Men" gather, down to the power types.

      Maven... even though we didn't really see him that much in the book, he is fucking crazy. I don't know what his issue is and why he is doing everything he is, but I just need him to die already because his obsession with Mare is creepy. Though, I suppose they are perfect for each other since they are both "mightier than everyone" in their heads.

      Cal... I still love him. In the beginning of the book, I wanted him to get together with Mare, but now that I've read the book completely, I don't want that to happen. He deserves so much better than Mare. And based off the way she can't let go of Maven, who I think is cuckoo for cocoa puffs, I don't think Cal is her first choice in this effed up love square.

      Speaking of the love square, I felt so bad for Kilorn. Mare kept treating him like a piece of shit and saying that he was just a "lowly fisherman", but clearly he was a lot more than that. She only talked to him when no one else would talk to her, and he too deserves better than that.

     Let's see, plot-wise, it felt rather slow and nothing really important until towards the end. For the most part I saw everything coming, though there were a few things that happened that I figured would happen, just not as they happened. I'm going to continue the series just because I want to see what happens next, but this book was definitely not nearly as good as the first one in every regard. I'm hoping the next one is better.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Get to Know Me Tag

10:27:00 AM

Hey you guys! It's been a hot second since I have posted anything here. I have just been so busy with the final stretch of my first year of college that I just haven't had the time to tend to this blog or read. In less than one month though, I promise you will start seeing more conent.

Anywho, Emily @ Paperback Princess and Cee Arr @ Diary of a Reading Addict, both tagged me, so I figured it's about time I do this.

Name:                 Sierra Cotton
Nickname:          Ci, Cici (There are few people in the world who I actually let call me these)
Birthday:             November 6, 1997
Star Sign:            Scorpio
Occupation:        College Student (I have a job at the School of Medicine too)

Hair Color:         Reddish Brown
Hair Length:       When it's all natural or in twists, about to my shoulders, but straightened it's longer
Eye Color:          Dark brown. (Some people think I'm really intimidating because of my eyes)
Best Feature:      It's a tie between my awesome natural hair or my freckles.
Braces:               I had them the first two years of high school, but those are long gone.
Piercings:           Hell no. I hate them. My parents made me have pierced ears when I was hella
                           little but those are long closed up. I hated having pierced ears. I hate jewelry.
Tattoos:              Nah. I'm not really into tattoos. I like drawing and writing on myself in marker
                           but it ends there.
Right or Left
Handed?             Right handed.

Best Friend:       A girl named Ally when I lived in another place. But I was like 5.
Award:               Reading award like a boss. Reading has always been a passion of mine.
Sport:                 Basketball. My dad made me play even though I hated it. I was alright.
Real Holiday:    First one was the Rose Bowl in California, but I was like a week old and obviously
                          can't remember it, so the first I can remember was to Jamaica or Mexico; I don't
                          remember which one came first.

Film:                 Bro, there are too many to choose from. The Parent Trap, The Princess Diaries, etc.
TV Show:         Ugh, why??? Grey's Anatomy, Vampire Diaries (pre season 7), Teen Wolf (pre s5)...
Color:               Black. I know that is boring, but I really identify with it at a deep level.
Song:                At the moment it is "Dangerous Woman" by Ariana Grande.
Restaurant:       ... I don't really have a favorite. I just love food in general.
Shop:                I don't really shop.... so I guess, Amazon???
Book:                Why would you do this to me??? Uhm... Maybe Someday probably.
Shoes:              I don't really care about shoes. I have the most plain black shoes I wear all the time.

Feeling:           Stressed. College, that's all I have to say.
Single/Taken?  Bahahahahahha. Single as hell. I have never been in a relationship, probably won't                                ever, and I'm okay with that.
Eating:             I just had some Moroccan Mint tea and a Mr. Goodbar.
Thinking:         I have a biology test in a couple of hours I should be studying for...
Wearing:          My college hoodie and jeans. Nothing special. I like to be comfy.

Children?        Hell no. I don't like kids, and I don't want to have any. No thank you.
Marry?            Not really. I can't see myself in a long term relationship, or any relationship actually.
Career?           I want to be an Orthopedic Surgeon and do research, especially in stem cells.
Live?              NYC or San Diego. I've been to both and I really love them.

Do You Believe In...
God?              No. Even though I was raised Christian, in middle school I realized I was an atheist.
Miracles?       Nope.
Love at 1st
sight?             Nah. Maybe that's because I have never been in love.
Ghosts?          No. I believe once we're dead, we're dead. Nothing else.
Aliens?           Hell yeah! There is no way we're the only ones in the entire universe.
Soul mates?   Hell the fuck no.
Heaven?        Nope. Back to being the whole atheist thing.
Hell?              Nah. See answer to heaven.
Kissing on
1st day?          I mean, I don't really give a fuck. Do whatever you want to do. None of my business.
Yourself?        Uhhhh..... Sometimes I guess. I have a lot of existential crises but, that's just my life.

Thank you both for tagging me! I tag Temecka @ Library of Tomes and whoever else wants to do this! 

My Rating System

★★★★★ This book is a gift from the literary gods
★★★★ This book was pretty damn good
★★★ This book had potential but missed the bar
★★ I probably didn't finish this book or it was god awful
★ Why does this book exist?



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