Thursday, December 24, 2015

Audiobook / TBR Pile: Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

Kid Lawyer is the first book in the Theodore Boone series by John Grisham. The son of two lawyers in a small city, Theodore Boone is well-known by the kids and adults in the area. He's always curious about what's going on around him, especially the exciting new murder trial coming up. But murder is a new depth for Theo, and he may be biting off more than he can chew by getting involved.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

Conclusion:  This was a solid read by Grisham. I haven't read any of his before, but judging by what I've heard, this is what I expected. It's for kids, but the focus is lawyers and intrigue--pretty unique for the age group. The characters were pretty interesting. The tone is adventurous without actually involving Theo or the other children in direct violence. And it ended with kind of a cliffhanger. I find some people's criticisms of the book funny. I saw one that said there's not enough action to keep kids interested. This is a really popular series with kids in my area. Also, it's more of an intrigue story rather than an adventure. One person claimed that Theo isn't relatable or realistic, which is only somewhat true. All main characters are special in some way, but the facts that he plays golf or doesn't use a cell phone every five seconds aren't what sets him apart. I did find it a little strange that classes would be separated by gender, which isn't something I've seen in public schools. Overall, this was a fun read.

Recommendation: This is a good book for kids or adults who want an intriguing boy lawyer character and a little suspense.

This is my eleventh read for the 2015 Audiobook Challenge and my eighteenth read for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday weekend! I'll be spending Christmas with my extended family and no computer, but I'll try to update all of my blog challenges for you next week and wrap-up the year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Diverse Books / TBR Pile: Out of My Mind

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is the story of Melody, a fifth-grade girl with cerebral palsy, and how her life changed (and didn't) when she found a better way to communicate her thoughts to the outside world.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

Conclusion: This book is very profound in its simplicity, and I think this would be a good book for kids as an introduction to cerebral palsy. It's true that Melody's situation is not typical. In my own limited interaction with kids and adults with cerebral palsy, they had a much lower ability to communicate their thoughts than she does. That being said, I think it's important that her situation be somewhat special in order to get the point across of what she is capable of with the right help and technology, and to give this story its chance to sink in with the reader. I hope this can shed some light on the intelligence and mental capacity of people with cerebral palsy. Draper's treatment of Melody's peer interaction is what I really appreciate about this book. There are moments of connection and humor, but the kids never fully accept Melody as one of them, and I think that's accurate. I also like the way she builds the characters through the story. When the climax hits, each character's role makes perfect sense.

Recommendation:  I would probably recommend this primarily to kids and teachers, but I thought it was well done and worth the read.

This book is my June "Visible Disabilities or Deformities" choice for the 2015 We Read Diverse Books Challenge and my seventeenth read for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mailbox Monday: Kickstarter Goodies

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. It's a fun focus on what books and book-related items you're getting in the mail each week. I always love to get mail (especially when it's literature), but since I'm stuck at home with a virus right now (yuck!), getting packages in the mail has been a highlight for me. So, what did I get, you ask? Well, I don't know how many of you have heard of Kickstarter, but it's an awesome site where you can back all sorts of projects people are working on around the world.  And I mean all sorts of projects. Anyway, I've supported a few book projects in the last few months, and my books from those campaigns are arriving! Here are the goods, in the order they arrived (unless mentioned otherwise, pictures taken from links given below):

Ladies of Literature: Volume 2
Curated and edited by Arielle Jovellanos and Janet Sung

Over a hundred artists joined together to make art based on their favorite female characters from books, and the result is breathtaking! Page after page of amazing female characters rendered in various, original art styles--and in the back, there's a description of the character and why they were chosen by the author. I just want to hang these pictures up all over the place (I might have to buy another copy just for that) and read every book in which these characters show up!

The Last Fairy Tale
Written by E.S. Lowell

"Olivia Wickworth lives in Orphanage Nine, a refuge for the genetically-modified children living in the final days of a dying Earth. In what could be our near future, mankind has completed the widespread implementation of cellular computing - but with devastating unforeseen consequences. Just when all hope seems lost, Olivia enters Aeldyn, a land created thousands of years ago when man exiled magical creatures from Earth. Although Aeldyn seems like the world of Olivia’s dreams, it is not without its own darkness. There is evil in the land that threatens to corrupt Aeldyn just as Earth has been corrupted, and Olivia is the only one who can stop it. On her quest to defeat this evil, Olivia forges friendships, meets fantastic creatures, and rediscovers the lost art of magic. But can she save both Aeldyn and what is left of mankind?" That description is from the inside cover. I haven't read this one yet, but the characters and little pictures intrigue me. Also, look at how they sent it to me, all wrapped-up and wax-sealed with a little notebook, bookmark, and bracelet!:

Ellen and the Winter Wolves
Written by Jamin Still

May is here, and Winter is still in full swing where Ellen lives. Her father is a trader who travels by boat and hasn't been able to come home in the cold and ice. Ellen knows something is wrong. Following directions from a mysterious voice in her dreams and the howling of some distant wolves, she sets off on a quest to make things right. The artwork in this book is beautiful, and the Winter Wolves are chilling! Gabe loves Ellen's story and can't stop talking about those Wolves and Ellen's trek through the snow. This is a picture book, but the story is a bit long for the number of pictures, so I'd probably recommend it for a slightly older child. Gabe is three, and I had to bring him back a few times making the same sounds as the wolves and things like that. But it was well worth it! A beautiful, unexpected treasure. I hope to see more from this author.

I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse into my mailbox! There's only a week and a half before Christmas, so hopefully I'll get more fun things this week!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Audiobook / Diverse Books / TBR Pile: The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project is the first book in Graeme Simsion's Don Tillman series. The main character, Don, is a genetics professor with Asperger's Syndrome who decides that finding a wife will greatly improve his happiness. He creates "The Wife Project" and begins handing out questionnaires of suitability to potential candidates on dates and at social gatherings. Then he meets Rosie, who is the opposite of a suitable candidate for "The Wife Project." He rules her out but decides to help her with a project of her own, and a roller coaster of events inevitably follows!

(picture taken from Goodreads)

First Impression: This is really cute. It's a little funky, but I love how subtly Don connects with people. He really tries but doesn't understand basic motivations for actions. And yet, he draws a few people to himself with his wit and his ability to be selfless when faced with others' troubles. For instance, his decision to celebrate Daphne's birthday even when she starts to forget, or his attempts to help Rosie find her father even though he sees no benefit for himself. It's obvious that he's already crazy about her, but their interaction keeps meeting communication problems. Even though they fight every other track, I can't wait to see their relationship play out. Gene, on the other hand, is a horrible person. I imagine the only reason he and Don are friends is because he doesn't mind Don's straightforward questions and social confusion. Also, he probably likes feeling superior, sleeping around while Don has trouble even making friends. Pretty sure Claudia doesn't know or at least doesn't approve of Gene sleeping around.

Conclusion: I loved this book! This is probably my new favorite modern romance, although it's not as romance-focused as most of them. It would probably be one of my favorite books overall except for a few characters (primarily Gene). As for Rosie, with the exception of the smoking habit and the anger at her father for something that wasn't his fault, she is exactly the outspoken feminist with which I would like to be friends. She sounds like a lot of fun without the crazy risks typically assigned to similar characters. She kind of reminds me of a modern Elizabeth Bennet. Don was obviously very affected by the death of his sister earlier in life, and I would have liked to hear more about her. That being said, I think Simsion stayed true to Don's first-person narrative by not sharing more about his sister. Don wouldn't have shared his feelings on the subject without better inducement. And what a great ending! I love Simsion's distinction that the ability to express love and recognize certain emotions in others is not the same as the ability to feel love. Let's call this an intelligent romance! It had dashes of humor and good fun, as well as some social and medical commentary. Very good.

Recommendation: This book is witty and romantic--a great modern read for anyone who loves Austen!

This is my tenth read for the 2015 Audiobook Challenge and my sixteenth read for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge, as well as my September choice for "Country" in the 2015 We Read Diverse Books Challenge.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Audiobook: Mr. Toppit

Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton is about a children's book series author and how his life, death, and work have affected everyone around him.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

First Impression: I'm already halfway through this book but haven't had a chance to write about it yet. The story is pretty dark, starting out with Luke unhappy as an adult and then switching to when Arthur dies, his series unfinished and his family despondent at the end of his existence. Apparently, Elton was inspired to write the book when wondering how Christopher Robin's life would have been if he'd grown-up in the modern age of media and exposure. (Christopher Robin being the real boy who inspired the Winnie the Pooh series.) This to me is a really fantastic idea, albeit a little depressing and strange to read. My audiobook is narrated by Simon Vance, and I'm not a big fan of his voices for women, but they are distinguishable both from the male voices and from each other, so that's more important I suppose. I also find the timeline a little strange. So far, there hasn't been much point to starting the book later in Luke's life other than to cast a tone that nothing will get better for him. And Laurie's character is just strange. I don't really know what to make of her or how to understand her relationships with Marge and Alma. I'm a little curious how things will go later with Rachel and Claude or Martha and their German friend. Also, how will the story with Jordan play out, and what significance will it have in Martha and Arthur's relationship?

Conclusion: I did not expect how this book ended. Maybe I should have, given the rest of the story and the characters. Let me start with the writing style. Elton has a really great balance of dialogue and prose. His characters are very well-rounded--even some of the side characters who don't play much of a role until later. I also think his plot was somewhat realistic, given the circumstances of the characters' lives. That being said, I felt frustrated a good portion of the time reading the book--mostly on Luke's behalf. It's unfair that everyone feels justified taking over parts of his life just because a character in a children's book was named after him. Everything spins out of control, and he's caught up in the outcome. So, I'll conclude with this: I like Elton's style of writing, and I don't think the book would be much different in print than audio. The idea for the story was a unique and inspired one which grabbed my attention, and the subtle backstory that drove everything was brilliant. He made some characters appealing that I would not usually like--such as Rachel, the drama queen addict sister who probably suffers the most from everything that happens. But I couldn't fully enjoy the story, because it dragged me down quite a bit. I felt emotionally drained after finishing it. Also, I felt like Laurie should have had a crappy ending for being a crazy jerk, but maybe that's not fair. Martha is a social hog and makes everyone suffer for a mistake she made as a young woman. Alma got a crappy ending for trying to protect her ignorant daughter. I don't know--I have very mixed feelings about this book. I may read another by Elton just because his writing style was so good, but I need some time to shake this one off.

Recommendation: If you like dark fiction or family drama, this would probably be a good book for you. Think Lord of the Flies--very well-written, very depressing, and very complicated.

This is my ninth choice for the 2015 Audiobook Challenge.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Unexpected Insanity

I love you all a lot, and it has sucked not being on here lately! A few weeks ago, I had some stomach pain and figured it was just a bug. Spent some time eating carefully and working parts of my shifts and saw a doctor who gave me something for the pain. After a couple more days, the pain was a bit worse and my legs started swelling. I've had some trouble with my kidneys in the past, and swelling quickly is often a sign of that flaring up, so my husband and I went to the E.R. Then things escalated like crazy! I had several tests done and found out I had early acute appendicitis. So, they did surgery and removed my appendix. Meanwhile, my kidney condition (called minimal change disorder) was, in fact, flaring up. Over the past two weeks, I have been healing from my surgery as well as adjusting to about five new medications for my kidneys and side effects. Right now, I'm not feeling much pain, but the swelling is still significant in my legs and feet. I'm on a new low-sodium diet, which is quite an adjustment, and my energy wanes at random times. I know this is all wild to hear, but I wanted you all to know why I've been neglecting you! This has changed quite a bit of my end-of-the-year plans as well, and I'm sure that will affect my reading habits and blog challenges. I hope to drop in from time-to-time and chat books with you, so don't give up on me!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Better Homes and Hauntings

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper is about a gardener/landscaper who wins a bid to completely redo the grounds of a historical mansion on an island supposedly haunted by the ghosts of the woman who was murdered there long ago. Parts of the book are scary, but it's more of a light-hearted, ghostly, and cheesy friend and romance story.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

First Impression: This story is really cute. The characters are fun, if a bit obvious. There isn't a lot of substance to the book, but I'm enjoying Harper's lighthearted, humorous trip into the paranormal. Although I like Nina, her character is a little confusing (supposedly from her experiences both romantic and work-related). Deacon is fantastic--a geeky girl's dream man. So far, I'm enjoying this little break between more serious reads.

Conclusion: I enjoyed this quite a bit, despite more minor expectations. The storyline was predictable, but I felt that excusable for the type of book. It was very charming, and I liked the developing relationship between Deacon and Nina, although I felt Jake and Cindy's relationship to be more appropriately paced. The ghost sub-story was a bit predictable but still well-developed and quite creepy in conclusion. The climax was really good. I don't know about the very end, though. It was forced, too cheesy, and a little weak. (Since Nina is a gardener, I felt that a more natural approach would have been more appropriate--plus, talk about fast-moving!) Also, everyone getting weepy about family and their futures was a bit much for me. I guess that's pretty typical of quick reads like this. So overall, fun but a little too sappy for me in the end.

Recommendation: If you like easy and quick reads about romance and friendship with a touch of the paranormal, this is the book for you!

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Finally! I know you guys have been waiting for this review since the cover reveal and guest interview, so without further ado....

Disenchanted by Janet Ursel is a Christian Fantasy book, the first in a series titled The Coventree Chronicles. The book starts out with a group of individuals arriving in a new place by means unknown. While they are discussing how to go about starting their new civilization, a fight breaks out among them about an unnamed and dangerous book that someone brought along. But most of Ursel's story takes place hundreds of years later, when a young man named Blayn Goodwin skyrockets to the top of Coventree society as the first Wizard in a long time to have Truesight: the ability to tell the difference between truth and lies as someone says them. Blayn mostly uses his ability to try and prevent attacks and war on Coventree from the Nortlanders: people who live North of Coventree and practice Black Magic; but he soon discovers a personal connection to a higher being and a new way to understand magic.

First Impression: I find this really fascinating. Not having read much Christian fantasy, I wasn't really sure what to expect, but this book keeps surprising me. The timeline reminds me of Labyrinth by Kate Mosse--separated into "chapters" by a timeline rather than a set of events. The difference is that this one moves consistently forward in time rather than jumping back-and-forth, and it doesn't have the "mature content" that Mosse's book does. Perhaps because of the timeline, the book is moving at a fairly slow pace, but everything that happens seems to have an important role to play, so maybe it will pay off. I wish there was more about Cedric. I was fascinated by his character initially and would have liked to know more about him. Also, I wish Jane wouldn't seem so bitter as she gets older. She's an admirable character and has a lot to pass on to her son. What I'd really like more of, though, is the history of the land and how the group of people at the beginning came to be there. I know Ursel is planning to write a sequel to Disenchanted; I would love to read a prequel as well. [Side note: Shortly after writing my first impressions, Ursel posted some background information about Coventree to her blog, Gourmet Reading.) Anyway, I'm very interested to see where she goes with this story. I haven't really connected to Blayn as a main character, but I think he has promise, being so curious about the world and honest in his youth.

Conclusion: This was fantastic! There's no specific part that was my favorite, but every little piece plays into the others incredibly well. Ursel did something here that feels completely unique but also historically possible, which is very hard to do. It's interesting how Coventree and the surrounding areas were founded by a group of people who felt that Christianity was becoming synonymous with tyranny, but the people eventually start to become disillusioned with their alternate ways of life. My favorite characters were actually side characters: Cedric (Blayn's father, a wizard), Jane (Blayn's mother, an herbalist witch), Alan (Blayn's wizarding mentor), Professor Wotton (a university professor in the Southlands), and Owen (Captain of the Wizards of the Coventree Military). They each provided great balance for the story in his or her own way--keeping the evil from getting too evil and the good from seeming too bland. I also liked the parts when Blayn let himself become absorbed in an ancient manuscript. It's a multi-sensory experience: the touch, smell, and sight--all beautiful. It's the same way I feel approaching a meaningful book. The ending was a bit crazy with things happening all at once. I was going, "Wait! What magic?! What just happened?!" but in a good way. I did feel like things were a bit easy with Morwen and Peter at the end, and I wish there would have been more involvement from the Southlanders. But overall, really great book! I'm excited to see what Ursel does with the series!

Recommendation: I would highly recommend Disenchanted to anyone interested in Christian Fantasy. It's very unique without being over-powering, so even fans of fantasy or alternate histories of society might enjoy it. Don't let the word "Christian" nor "Fantasy" scare you away!

I was part of the launch party for this book (although regrettably not finishing it before it released), so I was given an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I did actually buy a print copy of this later, though, if that means anything to you. I was very excited to explore a new-to-me genre, so thanks for that, Janet! Happy reading everyone!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Diverse Books: Beyond Magenta

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin is a collection of memories from transgender teenagers and young adults about their experiences discovering themselves and interacting with the world and people around them. The accounts of their experiences are taken from conversations the subjects had with the author.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

Conclusion: This is kind of a strange book. Not so much because of the content, much of which I've learned from other sources as well, but because of the composition. Compiled as it was from taped conversations, the stories are a bit scattered. I appreciate the separation of subjects and the attention to detail in the author's research. She made a point of getting a variety of people and backgrounds about which to write her book. My eye was constantly twitching at the use of the word "they" for an individual, but I'm having trouble thinking of another pronoun to use that doesn't specify gender. "One" seems too non-specific on who is being discussed. Anyway, I think this book is probably a good informal introduction to the transgender young adult, and I appreciate the contribution from each of the people who participated in its creation. I'd like to read something a little more in-depth now to expand my knowledge of the transgender topic.

Recommendation: If you don't know much about transgender identity or would like to hear first-person accounts of teenagers and young adults who are transgender, this is a good book for you. There is a good variety of situational accounts in it that will help provide better understanding.

Beyond Magenta is my March choice for the 2015 We Read Diverse Books Challenge on sexual orientation.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

2015 Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence

Once again, Hamlette over at The Edge of the Precipice is hosting her annual Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence this week, September 22-28! I feel a little guilty having still not finished the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but I love Tolkien all the same, so I'm participating this year. Click on the link above or the blog party button below to join in!

These are my answers to the questions jump-starting the party:

1.  What draws you to Tolkien's stories?  (The characters, the quests, the themes, the worlds, etc.)   Definitely the characters! I mean, I love a lot of things about Tolkien, but the characters blow me away every time. And not just the unique development of each one, but also the thorough intricacy of each race and their history in Middle Earth.

2.  What was the first Middle Earth book you read and/or movie you saw?  What did you think of it?   The first Middle Earth book I read was The Hobbit. My impression was that it was pleasant but long. It wasn't really that long; it just seemed to drag on for a while, and I couldn't figure out why everything happened in waves instead of one big climax. Of course, I was reading this shortly after high school, so my perspectives on reading material were a little different. I saw the three live-action Lord of the Rings movies when they first came out and thought they were fantastic. Action, character development, graphics...they had it all! It's kind of funny, but I still haven't seen the Hobbit movies.

3.  Name three of your favorite characters and tell us why you like them. This is hard for me since I haven't read all of the books and I feel like the movies probably don't do the characters justice. But anyway, I've always liked Gandalf. There's just something about wizards, am I right? Plus, in The Hobbit, he often plays a teacher-like leadership role, which I like. He always fights for good, and he notices "minor" characters and actions that others might miss. I also like Gollum, or Smeagol. Just to clarify, I don't like him in the sense that I think he's a great person or anything! But I do think he is one of Tolkien's most well-developed characters. There are so many layers to him, and he's constantly doing something unexpected. Very intriguing all around. In the movies (because I haven't met with him yet in the books), I'm a big fan of Aragorn. And this may be a "he's dreamy" thing, but he's just awesome. Pretty much a knight in shining armor type...or maybe dull armor to attract less attention? I like that he cares much more for others and doing what's right for Middle Earth than for his own glory.

4.  Are there any secondary characters you think deserve more attention?   Hands-down, Beorn (the skin-changer) and the Ents (the tree people). I've always been drawn to them, and I just want to know everything about their lives and history and what they're doing while everyone else is traveling around on quests and preparing for war. Not sure why--maybe it's their closeness with nature?

5.  What Middle Earth character do you relate to the most?   I honestly have no idea. I'll get back with you on this one when I've finished all of the books and seen all of the movies.

6.  If you could ask Professor Tolkien one Middle Earth-related question, what would you like to ask him?   I don't know that I could compile it to one cohesive question. Probably either something about how Middle Earth relates (or doesn't) to the real world or something about the history and life of the land itself (the scenery and animals that are sort of background to the story and characters--there's a little of this history in The Silmarillion).

7.  Are there any pieces of Middle Earth merchandise you would particularly like to own, but don't?   Sadly, I don't have any Middle Earth merchandise at the moment. But I've seen several mugs and bookmarks lately that I'd love to have...

8.  What battle would you absolutely not want to be part of?   Really, any battle. In Middle Earth or real life. Unless I'm protecting my child, I am absolutely the worst person you could have on your side. I guess if you need a cook or someone to hide the children, I might be useful.

9.  Would you rather eat a meal at the Rivendell or Bag End? Rivendell. Elves,'s a thing. A thing of which I want to be part.

10.  List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.   I don't have specific favorites, but I'll list some that I like!
“It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish.” --Samwise
"No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take." --Gandalf
“It is no bad thing celebrating a simple life.” --Bilbo

“Not all those who wander are lost.”--Bilbo
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” --Gandalf
“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” --Gandalf

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book Club / TBR Pile: Dragonflight

Dragonflight is the first book (in published order, not chronological) in Anne McCaffrey's Chronicles of Pern. The beginning introduces the reader to the world of Pern and to Lessa, a young woman waiting for the right time to claim her birthright. The rest of the book is about the fight against the alien Threads who are trying to invade Pern from the Red Sun.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

The picture above is the same as the copy I read. The one below is from a different version, also taken from Goodreads.

First Impression: I'm really excited about this book. I've always heard good things about the series but didn't read much fantasy when I was younger. This is an interesting combination of fantasy and science fiction. Based on the idea that long ago, humans discovered other solar systems and colonized a planet called Pern (then basically forgot about Earth and vice-versa), the story has dragons as creatures of an alien world, not a mythological one. That being said, the dragons do bond with their riders in a mythical way when first hatched, the telepathic link forged almost immediately and without scientific explanation. I'm a little wary of the fierceness of the riders and this dangerous society of dragons and men. That being said, Lessa is rather fierce herself. She's willing to do things that seem harsh in order to accomplish what she believes is right, but that is what makes her a perfect Weyrwoman choice, I think. This is a very patriarchal society. The dragon queen and weyrwoman are very powerful, but they serve Pern and mate with their male counterparts (the head male dragon and Weyrleader, respectively). McCaffrey has created an intriguing world here, and I'm excited to jump into it. A friend of mine describes it like this: "Pern is how the world would be if humans moved to another planet during the Renaissance and dragons were real." I think that is an apt and succinct description. Pern is somewhat progressive, but the ceremonies and traditions are paramount to survival on the planet.

Conclusion: What a great book! I love that McCaffrey takes something that has been done so many times (dragon stories) and makes it completely unique, although I guess it hadn't been done as many times when she first wrote this. Alien planets, Threads that only dragons can fight, and an entire civilization built around protecting against Threads and supporting the dragons. There was a point where the story lagged a bit while the Southern Weyr was being established. It was building a little drama, but not as much as I had expected. And the extreme patriarchal society was a bit much for me sometimes. It's easier to look at from a historical standpoint, both in the old-time fantasy atmosphere of the story and the fantasy genre of thirty-or-so years-ago when the book was released. That being said, McCaffrey ended with a bang! I'm curious to continue with the series and these fascinating characters. How will Lessa deal with the new people and changes from the end of this book? What differences will occur in Pern? Will Pern's defensive strategy against the Threads continue? What's going to happen for F'nor (because, honestly, he's my favorite, but he's kind of living in F'lar's shadow)? Can't wait to read the next one!

Recommendation: If you like old school dragon-related fantasy in the Mercedes Lackey style, this is a good choice for you! Or if you just like to try a variety of fantasy types, also a good choice!

This is my fifteenth choice for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge. I'm happy to be making so much progress with my to-be-read books this year!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Five Bookish (and Not so Bookish) Thoughts

"Bookish (and Not so Bookish) Thoughts" is a meme created by Christine over at Bookishly Boisterous. Here is my new batch of thoughts!

1) I recently went to the 2015 Japanese Festival in St. Louis, and it was awesome! I got to watch a lot of neat demonstrations, including taiko drumming, sumo wrestling, sugar and ice sculpturing, and traditional calligraphy, among other things. Unfortunately, my phone died while I was there, so I didn't get any pictures. But if you're ever in St. Louis, head to the Botanical Gardens! Even when the festival isn't there, it's beautiful!

2) We do monthly crafts with kids at my book store on the second Saturday of each month, and this month, we "built" dinosaurs! It was so simple, but we all had a lot of fun. Gabe has always had an affinity for these prehistoric creatures, and I've become a big fan myself. So anyway, here are a couple of pictures of our creations:

3) You all know how excited I was when Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong was released in April, because it's the only series with which I'm caught up that is still being written! The third book in this Age of Legends Trilogy isn't due to be released until April 2016, and I was filled with pain at waiting, but I've just struck gold and won an advanced reader's copy! The title is Forest of Ruin, and I'm sure you will hear all about it in a review after mine comes in the mail. (cue girly squeal) Get excited!

4) Speaking of ARCs, I am very close to finishing Janet Ursel's Disenchanted, but while you're waiting for my review, snag a free e-copy for yourself or buy a print copy!

5) Check out this list I found on Goodreads!: "15 Beautiful #GoodreadswithaView Photos to Celebrate the Last Weekend of Summer" Beautiful! And below is one of my own:

Okay, I didn't get my book in the picture, although I was at the park to read and let Gabe play a bit. I am loving the weather. Even on the hot days, the breeze is starting to get cooler, and I saw a couple of trees starting to change color the other day! Autumn is my favorite season!

Friday, September 18, 2015

2015 Where Are You Reading? Challenge: Quarterly Update #3

This is my third quarterly update for the Where Are You Reading Challenge 2015 hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is one of my "Just for Fun" Challenges for 2015. (The location I list for each book will be based on where most of the story takes place. If the story is in a fictional location or the reader doesn't know of a specific location where the story takes place, I'll list it as "Other." If the primary location is fictional but part of the story takes place in a real location, I'll list the book under the real location mentioned.) I'm listing all of the books that I finish in 2015 except for children's picture books, whether I'm writing a review of them on this blog or not. This post will be where I update that list until my next quarterly update.

Don Tillman: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Don Tillman: The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz

Billionaire Boys' Club: Romancing the Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

United Kingdom
England: His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
                Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
                The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
                Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton
                Emma by Jane Austen

United States
California: Then Again by Diane Keaton
                    Dilbert: I'm Not Anti-Business, I'm Anti-Idiot by Scott Adams
                    You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
Kansas: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Massachusetts: Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Nebraska: Fairyland: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
New Jersey: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich
New Mexico: Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
New York: The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio
                    Yes Please by Amy Poehler
                    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
                    Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
                    Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti
North Carolina: By Book or by Crook: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates
                            Booked for Trouble: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates
Ohio: Mr. Lemoncello's Library: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein 
           Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Pennsylvania: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
                         Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
Rhode Island: Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

The Mortality Doctrine: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Age of Legends: Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
Dragonriders of Pern: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
The Coventree Chronicles: Disenchanted by Janet Ursel
Frog and Toad Audio Collection by Arnold Lobel

2015 Literary Pickers Reading Challenge: Quarterly Update #3

This is my third quarterly update for the Literary Pickers Reading Challenge 2015 hosted by Sophia at Delighted Reader. This is one of my "Just for Fun" Challenges for 2015, and I'm finding quite a few of these--definitely more than I expected originally. I've copied the items I found up until this point, and this will be where I update that list until my next quarterly update.


   Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
   A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

   The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville

   Don Tillman: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
   Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

   Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
   The Great Library: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
   North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
   Frog and Toad Audio Collection by Arnold Lobel

   Animal Rescue Team Collection: Vol. 2 by Sue Stauffacher

   The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

   Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

   Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

   Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass

   The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

   You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

   Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin

   The Coventree Chronicles: Disenchanted by Janet Ursel
   The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer
   The Virgin's Guide to Misbehaving by Jessica Clare
   The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
   Billionaire Boys' Club: Romancing the Billionaire by Jessica Clare
  Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

   Yes Please by Amy Poehler
   Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen


   A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
   Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

   Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

   Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton
   Billionaires and Bridesmaids: The Billionaire and the Virgin by Jessica Clare

   Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

   Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich
   Red Rising by Pierce Brown

   Poetry magazine "July/August 2014"
   The Mortality Doctrine: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
   Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm
   The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio
   Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
   The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
   Chocoholic Mystery: The Chocolate Book Bandit by JoAnna Carl

   Dragonriders of Pern: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

   Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
   Canyon Sacrifice: A National Park Mystery by Scott Graham
   Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
   The Remedy by Thomas Goetz
   Age of Legends: Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong
   The Disney Fairies Collection Vol. 6 by Gail Herman


   Booked for Trouble: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates
   By Book or by Crook: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates

   The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

   Age of Legends: Forest of Ruin by Kelley Armstrong
   Blacktop Cowboys: Saddled and Spurred by Lorelei James
   Fairyland: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

   Emma by Jane Austen
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
   His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

   Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

   Don Tillman: The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
   Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
   Dilbert: I'm Not Anti-Business, I'm Anti-Idiot by Scott Adams
   Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti

Saturday, September 12, 2015

2015 We Read Diverse Books Challenge: Quarterly Update #3

This is my third quarterly update for the We Read Diverse Books Challenge hosted by Janet Ursel at Gourmet Reading. There is a different challenge designed to question the way we see the world each month, and I've found each monthly choice really enlightening so far. It's taking me some time, but I'm reading them bit by bit. I'll update this regularly as I find out the next challenge, choose a book, and read the book.

Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm

May Challenge: Age
The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis
by Thomas Goetz

August Challenge: Religion

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

2015 Banned Books Challenge: Quarterly Update #3

This is my third quarterly update for the Banned Books Challenge 2015 hosted by Christine at Buckling Bookshelves. I started out with the "Trouble-Maker" level (3-5 books) and re-set my goal to the "Rabble-Rouser" level (6-9 books), which I've met now as well. Some of these have been really great books! I've re-posted the books that I've read for this challenge thus far, and I'll keep updating this list here until my next quarterly update.

Books Read Thus Far:
Other Banned Books Read:

2015 TBR Pile Challenge: Quarterly Update #3

This is my third quarterly update for the 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge hosted by the ladies at Bookish! My level of choice is "A Friendly Hug," so 11-20 books. I've already reached my goal with 14 books, but I'm not planning to re-set it since there's only a few more months left in the year. I've re-posted the links to my reads for this challenge thus far, and this is where I'll keep my list and links for the challenge until the next quarterly update.

TBR Pile Reads Thus Far:

More TBR Pile Reads: