Thursday, December 31, 2015

It's Not Menopause... I'm just like this.

This was one of those gems that I got in a book club white elephant gift exchange. Sadly, this book describes my life a little more than I'm comfortable with and I'm not even 30 yet! As Maxine says, "Like good wine, I grow more mellow with age. And, as I age, I grow more mellow with wine." This little gift book contains dozens of "Maxine-isms," i.e. hilarious musing about life an aging. She's crass and sassy and it's impossible not to like her little comics. An amusing quick read.

A Wrinkle in Time

This was one of those classics that I never got around to reading as a child. Which is honestly quite a bummer, because as an adult, I couldn't relate to a lot of it. I found myself irrationally yelling at Meg for whining to much, whereas had I been nine I would have completely understood what Meg was going through. While this children's fantasy was good, I don't think I'll be checking out the rest of the quintet. The premise is that stubborn Meg and her younger brother Charles Wallace find themselves cavorting with a passel of witches, their schoolmate and newly found friend, Calvin, also comes along for the ride. Meg and Charles Wallace's father has been missing for several year and Mrs. Who, Mrs. Witch, and Mrs. Whatsit (the three witches) take the three children on a ride throughout the galaxy to find their father and help battle evil. It's full of fun and fancy (and hidden religious meanings) that young children will love. While I'm not inspired to read more of the series. I am inspired to check out the movie.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird

I haven't read this since high school, but I'll be damned if it hasn't aged remarkably well. It was even better than I remembered it. It's down to earth and Scout is the perfect protagonist, as her childhood views and observations help cast the story in a new innocent light. Full of southern injustice and white privilege, this classic tale has much to offer American society. It's still as poignant as it was when it was first written and has just as much to offer us now. Brilliantly written, I'm far too scared to try and the sequel, "Go Set a Watchmen." I'm plenty content with this little masterpiece. Required reading, there is soo much to talk about!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Blood Rites

I have yet to meet a Dresden Files novel I didn't like, "Blood Rites" was no exception. From the first word to the last, I was riveted (and not just by James Marster's voice!). This installment Harry Dresden takes on a job from his "friend," Thomas and quickly gets more challenging then either of them expected. The black court is involved and Harry has to hire the mercernary, Kincaid, and ask his friend, Karen Murphey to help out as well otherwise he is a gonner! Like I said, great book. There's also a good twist involved too! I can't wait to read the next one!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ms. Marvel Vol. 4 - Last Days

The fourth installment of the Ms. Marvel series is good, but not as jam packed as some of the other issues. We do get a fun cameo from Captain Marvel and the city (or world) is about to end, so there is that. But overall, I thought this issue was quick and a little lackluster. Not that it will stop me from reading more of them, it just didn't head in the direction I thought it was going to. Also, there is a nice little twist at the end. A little romance perhaps?

Things I Can't Explain

So I hadn't heard any buzz for this book but I happened across it at my library and was instantly sold when I saw that it was a "Clarissa Explains it All" novel for grown-ups. Like, how cool?!? The creator of the show (he also wrote for Ren and Stimpy, Rugrats, SNL, and National Lampoon) is also the author of the book which I really appreciated. He did a great job of growing Clarissa up and portraying her as an unemployed twenty-something girl in New York City. This book would appeal to 90's girls, fans of "new adult," and even teens. It's not plot heavy, it's very easy to see where the entire book is heading but it doesn't make it any less fun. There are fun drawings, charts, lists, and other elements to entice the reader. A good beach read; mindless but fun and quick.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Whatever is Lovely

One of the most beautiful religious adult coloring books on the market. I could not find a single fault with it. Even those who aren't overly religious will find themselves enjoying this coloring book. Beautifully illustrated, each page contains a proverb or psalm and has images to evoke the essence of the words for the reader color. As the book says, this book will help people color their way to peace and it isn't lying. The pages are one sided and perforated for easy rip outs which will entice many to frame or hang up the finished creations. For fans of coloring and Christianity. "Whatever is Lovely" will make the perfect gift for many this Christmas!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Carry On

A cute and engrossing read for fans of Fangirl, fantasy, Harry Potter and teen LGBT books. The fantasy world is well built and the spells and culture is awesome. I was also a huge fan of the characters. Told through multiple perspectives, Carry On tells the story of Simon Snow's final year at Watford (magic school) and his quest to defeat the Insidious Humdrum, find out what his conniving vampire roommate Baz is up to, and figure out what his place in the magical community is. Sometimes it's tough being the chosen one. Laugh out loud funny in parts, this story of magic, friendship, and love is well worth a read and not just for teens :)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Unlocking Worlds

This is a book lover's dream, contained in it's pages: are reading lists, book summaries, quotations, reading observations and more. It's a gem, especially for those who are plagued by the "what should I read next" syndrom. It's always a pleasure to read a book written and compiled by a fellow book lover; it's like they're talking directly to your soul. They get it. The insatiable need to read, consume fine literature, and escape into literary dreamscapes. Some of the book lists author, Sally Allen, compiles are a little off the beaten track and are thus more compelling and intriguing. Novels about the American experience, novels that play with time and space, novels that explore Russian life before and after the Soviet Revolution, and books for book lovers are just a few of the many lists that will entrance readers and many books to their "to read" lists. A fun read that will only make you want to read even more. A perfect christmas gift for the bibliophile in your life.

I received this book for free from iRead Book Tours in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

She Came From Beyond

As one who has religiously read everything by Matthew Quick, I instantly devoured this witty and ridiculous novel. It made me snort with laughter, chuckle, and read passages out loud to my co-workers because they were too funny not to share. The premise of this delightful novel is that Easy Hardwick has had an affair. With a married man who has children. She didn't know about the children until after she sealed the deal, but that eventually becomes a moot point. She feels bad about it and cuts off all ties, but once she realizes she's pregnant with his twins, she calls him. From that point on her cushy life as a b-movie actress is about to get really really complicated. Filled with hilarious dialogue, relatable characters, and enviable jobs, this book has a little something for everyone. A fantastic debut novel and I can't wait for more!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Getting Screwed

This look into the underbelly of society is fascinating and eye opening. Before reading this I had no understanding of the legalities behind sex work. All I knew was what I had gleaned from memoirs and Pretty Woman. This book lets readers explore how laws affecting prostitution differ by state and by country. It also goes in depth on how laws and regulations affects prostitutes and what works and doesn't (New Zealand has the best model if you're wondering). She gets lots of testimonials from lawyers, streetwalkers, high end escorts, and madams. Its a fascinating look at why we should decriminalize sex work and what we can really do to crack down on the underage workers and victims who are illegally trafficked. The testimonials from the sex workers helped change any pre-conceived notions that I had. An interesting read for anyone interested in law or the lives of sex workers.

I received this book for free from Library Thing in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Fat Man

Full of hilarious puns and Christmas jokes. After a while it wears a little thin but it's all in good fun. It's amazing how author, Ken Harmon, is able to combine soo many elements of holiday lore into such a wild tale of noir. Gumdrop Coal is our hero, or rather, anti-hero. He's the leader of the coal patrol, and leaves Kringle Town once a year to leave coal for all the bad boys and girls. One day, that all ends and he finds himself out of a job, how did he get on the bad side of the fat man? Is he being frames? Is someone trying to ruin Christmas or take it away from Santa? In order to save his hide and reputation, Gumdrop must get to the bottom of the mystery. He finds himself confronting the misfit toys, enlisting the help of Ralphie and his red ryder bb gun, and some other elves. It will make readers chuckle, but it could have been wrapped up a little sooner. A creative and inventive holiday read.

Where's Karl?

A must have for fashionistas and Where's Waldo fans. This hilarious fashion forward parody follows Karl Lagerfeld  through fifteen cities across the globe. Besides finding Karl there is a huge cast of characters to be found as well, his trusty cat Choupette, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Diddy, Madonna, Martha Stewart, Angelina Jolie, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and dozens more celebrities. It's fun spotting them in the crowd and see what ridiculousness they're doing. Some scenes are quite hard to spot Karl in, but others less so. At the end of the book there is a checklist of additional items that can be found in each scene. It brought me back to my childhood for a minute. The scenes are bright and colorful and it's a book you can come back to time and again or let your kids play with. A great Christmas gift!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Home & Garden Devtions

If you're one of those people that likes to start or end a day with a little story, a little motivation, and a little scripture, then this is just the book for you! Each daily devotional contains a small memory or story from author Sandra Byrd who then ties it into a positive thought process to get you motivated and lift your spirits, she then finds the perfect bible scripture to end it out. From weeding your garden to appreciating the surrounding beauty, to observing the wonderment of nature and wildlife, this daily devotional is perfect for the Christian gardner or really anyone who wants to add a little joy and perspective to their lives. I don't garden and I was still inspired and moved by the observations and stories. Sometimes it really is just the little things. A great Christmas gift for your loved ones to start out the new year with!

I received this book for free from Tyndale Press in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Just Mercy

This was one of the most moving, heartfelt, and uncomfortable books I have ever read. I could not put it down. It angered me, it saddened me, it made me want to do more with my life. I knew aspects of the justice system; namely death row, racial inequalities, and juvenile sentences were broken, but I didn't realize how badly broken. This opened my eyes in a way nothing else has for a long time and it should be required reading. Bryan Stevenson has led his life helping people on death row get counsel, overturning hundreds of wrongful convictions, crusading for rights of the underprivileged and mass incarcerated populations of our society and is the type of person we should all aspire to be. He formed the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama and has saved the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of wrongly convicted people. As he often mentions in the book, "I believe that each person is more than the worst thing that they've ever done." So simple and so powerful. The stories of his clients that he shares are heartbreaking and humbling and more than once I was turned into a sobbing mess. I cannot recommend this book enough.

The Vegetarian

A book like this is hard to accurately describe. It's chilling, beautiful, sad, haunting, and very Margret Atwood-esque. Yeong-hye lived a boring, conventional, ordinary life with her husband until she decided to give up meat when she had a disturbing dream. In a society where eating meat is a cultural staple, this act of "defiance" is seen as a moral failing. Why would anyone want to be more plant-like? Is Yeong-hye right in the head? Told through three perspectives over the course of several years, this tale shows how one seemingly innocent decision can irreparably ruin one's life and alter those of your friends and family. Surprisingly dark and haunting, this book has much more depth than can be accurately described.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Explorer's Guild

The layout of this book is truly beautiful. Its a mixture of comic panels, text, maps, and illustrations. The eye catching quality of it is what prompted me to pick up this book in the first place. That and one of the authors is Kevin Costner. I was intrigued. The book takes place during the great war but it isn't really set in the European Theater, it follows a group of explorers as they travel all over the world, New York, Tibet, India, Asia, and more. Their fearless leader Major Ogden is looking for a "mythical" city in order to save his brother whose only hope at living is to refind this city that he has no memory of. It's full of adventure, british imperialism, swashbuckling fights, Hollywood actresses, and adventure. While it lags in some parts and can be at times confusing, this book was engrossing. It reminded me of an older British Indiana Jones adventure. A must read for adventure fans.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Whispers in the Reading Room

The cover of this book make it look more foreboding than it actually is. While there are a few murders and a killer on the loose, it's not a huge mystery that our female lead solves, it's just background to her deteriorating life. Lydia Bancroft is a proud librarian. Even though she and her mother have fallen on hard times, the money she gets at work and the price she gets for pawning off family heirlooms help keep her and her mother afloat and they can at least pretend they are still part of good society. Her fiance, is a wealthy man and her mother awaits the day they can be married and be restored to their former splendor. All that changes however when she is out to tea with her fiance and he assaults her in public. A dashing young man who frequents her reading room comes to the aid and escorts her home. All her hopes for a prosperous future are dashed now that her engagement is broken. Could her new friendship with this dashing young man lead to something more? Is he hiding anything? What more does she have to lose? For fans of historical and inspirational romance. While it's the third in the series, I had no problem reading it without having read the first two prior.

I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

The Thread That Binds

I don't know what I expected when I picked up this book, but I certainly DIDN'T expect to start falling in love with all the characters soo quickly. Five women with completely different backgrounds and problems find themselves inexplicably linked together. Sherice is a young mother who works two part time jobs, supports her husband, and somehow finds time to quilt when she's not worrying about her mother's descent into alzheimers. Slyvie is an expectant newly wed and newcomer to the United States. She and her active duty husband struggle to make ends meet and are trying to get the prenatal help they need to care for their unborn child. Joanne desperately wants to be a mom, but with no man in her life she convinces her gay best friend to get her knocked up. Payton is a seventeen year old pregnant runaway from Alabama who want to get her life back on track. And Gloria is married to an unloving cheater and the child she carries may not even be his. Together they tell each other their secrets, fix problems, and support each other as only new moms and friends can. An uplifting, laugh out loud, and thought provoking book. It contains something for everyone, not just moms or married women.

I received this book for free from iRead Book Tours in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Every Little Thing

I love that adult coloring books are trending. Finally! Now I'm not a weirdo, it's the cool thing to do! Out of all the adult coloring books, nature seems to be the predominant theme and "Every Little Thing" does well to capitalize on that. Filled with adorable woodland animals, retro designs, and whimsical everyday items, this sketches fill each page with hours of enjoyment. Set up to look like a kaleidoscope or wallpaper, this coloring book will literally melt the stress right off your shoulders. My only wish was that the pages were perforated for easy removal and that not all the designs were double sided. All in all, a great coloring book filled with detail to get your mind off all your problems.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Drinking in America

I LOVED this book! I'm a huge fan of micro-histories, and while this subject is a little broad it all come back to the booze. Soo intriguing! Author, Susan Cheever, does a brilliant job of cataloging many of the incidents that helped make America great and then launches in to how booze played a part. Trust me, a big part. Why did the pilgrims land at Plymouth? Because they were running out of beer and didn't think they could make it to the land they were actually granted. Why did everyone really love Johnny Appleseed? Because the nasty apple trees he planted weren't good for eating but WERE good for turning into cider. How much did soldiers drink in the American Revolution and the Civil War? Triple what you thought, maybe more. How did booze play a part in President KEnnedy's assassination? His security detail had partied hard the night before and were too hungover to react quickly. My view of American history is forever altered. Booze has been present every step of our country's way and it is NEVER mentioned (unless it's about the prohibition). Cheever talks about how laws have changed as is how we define drunkenness. In the eighteenth century this little diddy helped define who was drunk: "Not drunk is he who from the floor, / Can rise again and still drink more, / But drunk is he who prostrate lies, / Without the power to drink or rise." I doubt that version of sobriety would pass today. In fact during the 1820's Americans were drinking TRIPLE what we consume today!! Crazy! Cheever doesn't condone drinking but she does a great job of illustrating the negative AND positive effects booze has had on our country. A fascinating book!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Come Hell or Highball

Chance, Maia. Come Hell or Highball. 8 CDs. unabridged. 9.25 hrs. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781490693965. 

The first in a few series, Discreet Retrieval Agency Mysteries, promises rollicking good fun. Author Maia Chance is no stranger to quirky cozy mysteries, she has also authored the popular Fairy Tale Fatal  series and seems to be a library favorite. This latest endeavor  introduces readers to Lola Woodby, a recently widowed society matron, who suddenly finds herself penniless and embroiled in a mystery. If Lola and her trusty cook, Berta, can solve a crime and find a missing film reel then they can finally have some financial independence. Full of twists and turns, witty dialogue, and saucy characters, this mystery will have readers laughing out loud and craving a highball. Narrator Suzy Jackson, does a charming job as the ever sassy Lola and has quite a convincing Swedish accent for Berta, the bumbling sidekick. For fans of cozy mysteries, historical fiction, and the roaring twenties. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The League of Regrettable Superheroes

A cute read, perfect for stocking stuffers, comic fans, and those who aren't apt to pick up books. This little book contains summaries, pictures and quotes from the comic book industries most "regrettable" superheroes. As the introduction states, "We call these second-tier (or lower) superheroes "regrettable," but it's important to remember that none of thesecharacters are inherently bad. Sometimes, the only factor that kept them from succeeding was bad timing, an unstable marketplace, or merely being lost in the crowd."Author Jon Morris explores some of the truly odd, overlooked, and underappreciated superheroes that are now largely forgotten. That cast includes: Doctor Hormone, Lady Satan, Rainbow Boy, Thunderbunny, and more. A quirky, quick, enjoyable read.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tsura

Looks can be deceiving. At first glance the novel's cover looks as if it's advertising paranormal romance, but upon reading it I was delighted to learn that it was indeed a WWII historical romance and the woman on the cover is the gypsy, Tsura. Forced into hiding, Tsura seeks refuge with an elderly couple and a young Jewish man who she falls madly in love with. One evening she is caught by two Nazis outside her hiding place and she is sure the end is near for a gypsy like her. Luckily one of the men is her older brother's best friend and he saves the day by claiming that Tsura is his fiance. In order to secure her safety he forges her identity and marries her, but it's a marriage on paper only, he won't touch her; he knows that she is in love with the Jewish boy. Tsura finds it hard to stomach being married to a man who works for the Nazis but she has little choice. Just when they think they are figuring out how to live with their farce of marriage trouble strikes. Will they be able to stand each other? How will they survive? Is evil only in black of white or in shades of gray? A fast paced, riveting read, perfect for fans of historical romance and WWII dramas. I can't wait to dive into the sequel to see how it ends.

I received this book for free from the author in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Soul Food Love

Love encapsulates every page of this cookbook/family history. The first fourth of the book takes readers through five kitchens, through multiple generations, and many cooking styles. It is a wonderful tribute to their family. While the authors (a mother daughter duo) praise and venerate the previous generations they also realize how unhealthy some traditional soul food has become and spruce up old recipes and create some to fill the void. Kitchens are a place of solace and they don't want to remove the experience and pleasure for anyone so they created and tweaked recipes for the benefit of all. "In our family, and in many Southern families, the abundant kitchen has become an antidote for what pains and afflicts us. Somewhere along the way, abundance became excess. Then excess became illness."

There are literally dozens of recipes I can't wait to try: southern hummus, warm onion and rosemary salad, spicy roasted sweet potatoes with pomegranate, fiery green beans, and more. This book is not vegetarian based, but it is certainly very vegetarian friendly and a welcome addition to my bookshelf. The descriptions are mouthwatering, the pictures sumptuous, and the recipes fairly simple.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

A huge collection of Stephen King short stories, some are horror filled, some have a hell of a plot twist, some are creepy, and others just make you think. There's a little something for everyone, especially the dedicated King fan. He writes an introduction for each story and talks about when he wrote it and what his inspiration was; it really added to the overall feel for each story. Some stories were better than others but it didn't subtract from the overall awesomeness of the collection; King is a master storyteller and his character building is literally out of this world. I hear the audiobook is amazing and I wouldn't mind checking that out as well. For fans of horror, short stories, and the macabre.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Brothers Vonnegut

Strand, Ginger. The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic. 9 CDs. unabridged. 10.75 hrs. High Bridge Audio. 2015. ISBN 9781622319169. $34.99.

Strand (Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate) beautifully illustrates the juxtaposition of the Vonnegut brothers, Bernard and Kurt in this compelling narrative of their lives and contributions in their respective fields. During WWII while Kurt was hunkered down beneath a slaughterhouse surviving the firebombing of Dresden (later a basis for his bestselling novel, Slaughterhouse Five), his brother Bernard, a scientist, was flying in the air testing out cloud seeding and producing rain.  The brothers led vastly different lives, but shared the similar experience of both working for GE (General Electric), which back then was lovingly referred to as the "house of magic." While there, Bernard studied the sky and experimented with weather control and Kurt reveled in all the fantastic things he saw and heard, many of which become the basis for his later novels and short stories. What happens when science is no longer used for good, but for evil; are scientists compelled to be moral or just make progress for progress's sake, regardless of the consequences? Strand breaks down Bernard's science and Kurt's stories and it produces a fascinating look at two different, yet very similar, brothers. Compellingly narrated by Sean Runnette, this eye opening read is perfect for both fans of science and Kurt Vonnegut. A must read.  - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Thousand Shall Fall

Sassy, independent, Carrie Ann Bell, finds herself in a pickle when she's captured by Union soldiers and arrested for impersonating an officer. It had all started off soo innocently enough, her younger sister had run off and Carrie thought it was her duty to sneak behind enemy lines to go find her. The Yanks have no idea what to do with this smart talking, headstrong woman, but one soldier, Colonel Collier, has his eye on her.

Carrie finds herself caught up in the midst of the war and she doesn't know where to turn or who to trust other than God. All she wants to do is find her sister, but she finds herself compelled to stay and help with the wounded. It doesn't hurt that she also has eyes for the dashing Colonel. Is there time for love in the midst of war? Which side is she loyal to? For fans of inspirational romance and historical fiction.

I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

An Endless Christmas

A cozy Christmas inspirational romance that will be sure to warm hearts. Katie agrees to spend a week at her boyfriend's grandparent's cottage to experience the week long Binder Christmas festivities. To her surprise her boyfriend, Micah, proposes to her in front of all 18 family members as soon as they walk into the door. Horrified of commitment because her family has never succeeded at relationships she says no. She then has to spend an awkward week with Micah's family, how will she survive? Despite her reservations she starts to loosen up and enjoy it; his family is soo thoughtful, happy, and nice. Will the Christmas spirit work it's magic on her and make Katie reconsider Micah's offer? A charming novel that will get readers in the holiday spirit.

I received this novel for free from Litfuse Publicity in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I'm Happy for You (sort of... not really)

This is essential reading for everyone, especially in this day in age. We allow our emotions to be dictated by social media, how many likes we get, what our friends are doing, how pretty we look in our pictures. It's a never ending cycle of self loathing and jealousy and it needs to stop. This book tackles comparison, why we compare our lives with others and how that affects the way we live ours. As quoted in the book, "This is one of the main reasons we struggle with insecurity: we're comparing our behind-the-scenes with everybody else's' highlight reel."

We're all guilty of it. One of my best friend's got engaged recently and my first thought it, "Well, I'm dying alone." Just because all my friends are married and working on kids doesn't mean that I have to be too. I should be happy for them (and mean it) and happy for myself as well! Being single can be awesome, I never have to ask anyone's permission if it will fit in the schedule, never have to find a babysitter, and will always be able to admire the male form. Who knows, maybe Mr. Right is closer than I thought. It's all about looking at the picture a different way.

This self help book breaks down why we feel the need to compare every aspect of our lives to others and talks about developing strategies to help you feel better about yourself and better for your friends. It's a great read full of inspiring quotations, real life testimonials, and great advice. A must read for everyone, especially the social media addicts.

How would you like to win a free copy of this book?! All you have to do is comment below with your name and I'll randomly select a winner on Friday!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Christmas Thief

This story reads like a Nancy Drew novel; everyone is two dimensional, there is no real mystery, and you don't particularly care for any of the characters. Also there was an unnecessary amount of characters in this short story, honestly most of them contributed nothing to the plot other than tripping me up on who was who. It's a brainless little mystery, set in November so it's not even all that holiday related. There is a Christmas tree but that's about it. I like the occasional brainless holiday or mystery novel but this satisfied neither of those requirements. I'd never read Mary Higgins Clark before and if this is representative of her other mysteries then I certainly have no desire to try out any others. Ugh.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Christmas Story

Simply the best Christmas tale. Why did I wait so long to read this?! I grew up loving the movie and being proud that it was written by a Hoosier who lovingly wrote about where I grew up (the "region"). Reading this collection of short stories (taken from another short story collection by Jean Shepherd) that inspired the cult classic Christmas movie, I was in awe of how truly funny it was. I literally laughed out loud on multiple occasions much to the annoyance of my cats. I can't praise it enough. It's fantastic and I want to reread it every holiday season. It's too damn good to read just once. For fans of the movie adaptation, humor, and Hoosiers. Not to be missed!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Things I've Said To My Children

While I'm not a parent, I can still relate to many of the whimsical, hilarious, and absurd things that illustrator, Nathan Ripperger, finds himself telling his kids. I grew up in a household with a million kids and I recall many of the batshit crazy things that my mother would yell at us. Some of them are even featured in this book, "Get that dinosaur out of your mouth!" (A phrase my mother often yelled at me, even through high school, as I had a tendency to chew off the tails of my brother's dinosaurs, just because). Rippergar creates fantastic graphic illustrations to go with each phrase and some are truly a work of art that you might want framed. A cute gift, perfect for parents this Christmas.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Stop the Diet, I Want To Get Off!

Hands down the most informative, non-pushy, non-judgmental, non-preachy guide to losing weight and being healthy. Author and registered dietitian, Lisa Tillinger Johansen breaks down popular and fad diets and tells the readers the good (and mainly bad) aspects of each. She also breaks down healthier ways to eat; looking at labels, portion control, the difference between veggies, the science behind calories and protein, and the pros of drinking water. It's an easily understood, no nonsense guide that will help readers decide what will work best for them based on their health, dietary restrictions and will power. A quick read that will do a world of good for anyone looking to shed a few pounds (and keep them off) rather than trying expensive fad diets.

I received this book for free from iRead book tours in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Uninvited

Not what I was expecting but I enjoyed it nonetheless. A creepy, gothic, Sixth Sense, WWI type of novel. There was a lot going on really. Ivy, along with all the other women in her family, have the ability to see ghosts. They appear right before a loved one dies and unfortunately for Ivy, she's been seeing a lot of them lately. After her father and brother brutally murder a German merchant for being a "hate mongering kraut," Ivy decides to flee the house and try living on her own. She sheds her cocoon and begins to fly into new, unchartered territory. She is a deeply empathetic person and finds herself helping drive the red cross ambulance across town to pick up influenza patients who seem to be multiplying very night. The historical aspect is intriguing and haunting and the added dimension of ghosts only add to the story and build up to the shocking conclusion. A great, quick read.

Earth: A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race

I'm a huge fan of Jon Stewart and this book has been laying around begging to be read for quite some time. Because I'm lazy I got the audiobook which turned out to be a huge win. It's narrated by Jon Stewart, The Daily Show correspondents (including my two favorites: John Oliver and Jason Jones), and the ever surprising Sigourney Weaver. It is a funny visitor's guide to Earth with hilarious FAQs, summaries, and explanations for the way humans "rule" Earth. History, technology, religion, and the environment are just a few of the subjects that get delved into. The only thing I missed out on by listening to the audiobook is all the sweet pictures and diagrams, but oh well. At times laugh out loud funny, but also, a little too easy to put down.

The Handmaid's Tale

This is one of those classics that I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't read. Blasphemous, I know.Twenty seven years on this earth and I'm JUST NOW getting to this sensationally, classic, and groundbreaking work?!?! I feel like my librarian card would have been revoked had I not gotten to it when I did. I read this book from start to finish in less than 24 hours, so it was good to know that all the hype was true. This book is hard to put down. I was riveted from the get go. This dystopian novel of gender inequality and sex and politics, remains as relevant today as when it was first published three decades ago. I won't do justice summarizing the book. Trust me, just dive right in. You won't regret it. It's timeless and will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why Not Me?

Cute and easily readable, this second memoir from Mindy Kaling is just as good as her first. I know everyone says it, but she sounds as if she could be my best friend. By Hollywood standards she's "real," as in, she doesn't starve herself to fit in with idealized forms of beauty, which makes her more accessible to the average woman. In this second selection of essays and stories she talks about her best friend BJ Novak, her childhood, trying to come to terms with her body, and trying to find prince charming. Each section is short and sweet and will have readers laughing out loud or shaking their heads in agreement. Witty and well worth a read, I can't wait for her next one :)

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Melophobia

Imagine a world without music. No dramatic movie scores, no karaoke, no rock n roll, just state sanctioned elevator music called, musak. Reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451, this alternate world shows what happened when censorship takes over and music, many incendiary books and movies, and art are banned. Creativity is stifled to save people from themselves. The goal was to eradicate moral decay but instead society was essentially neutered and the arts have gone underground. Merrin Pierce, a loyal patrol officer, has dedicated her life to going undercover and stamping out music wherever she discovers it, but one assignment takes her in deeper than she's ever been before and she can start to see and hear the allure of music. Will she be able to reconcile what she's been told with how she feels? What is it about music that it has such sway on the soul? Can it really be that bad? For fans of alternative history and Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Lumberjanes Vol. 2

Another great installment in the Lumberjane series. The comics continue to get zanier and more fun and are insanely readable. The characters are all off their rockers and it is fun watching them take their friendship to new levels. Summer camp continues to get more interesting as they discover velociraptors in the outhouse. They put together that there is more magic taking place in the woods and it's up to them to keep it in it's place. Filled with great fun, LOVED the ending. Looking forward to volume three!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Career of Evil

Another great installment in Robert Galbraith's Cormoran Strike series. Honestly, they keep getting better. I don't know if this or the first one (The Cuckoo's Calling) is my favorite. As all good mystery stories start, this one begins with a murder. Of who, it's not entirely sure. A package containing a severed human leg is sent to Robin at the detective office. Quickly other body parts start mounting up and it's clear that someone is trying to take down Strike and his reputation. He's convinced that it's one of three people from his past so Strike and his beautiful assistant, Robin, start doing a little sleuthing on their own. They're worries that the police will blunder (as usual in this series) and Strike is worried for Robin's safety as the killer is targeting young women. Amidst all this, Robin is having a trying time with her fiance, Matthew. Is her work life going to interfere with her wedding? Fast paced and intriguing, I didn't solve the mystery until a chapter before it was revealed. I already can't wait for the next one!

Devoted

Rachel has grown up as a strict, devout Christian. She and her 9 brothers and sisters have been homeschooled and warned of the dangers of "worldly people." When Rachel discovers that a Lauren, young girl who left the church several years ago, has returned to town, her curiosity is peaked. Already, questioning several aspects of her life (being expected to marry young and bear children is the only role designated for her), she decides to sneak onto the computer and learn more about Lauren. What made her leave? What is she doing now? Does she still believe in God? All of these questions, and eventual answers, spark in her a restlessness that is bound to get her in trouble. When the inevitable comes she is forced to make a life changing decision. Powerful, raw, and emotional, this young adult book about coming to terms with religion and staying true to yourself will have readers hooked. The audiobook is brilliantly narrated and worth a listen.

I received this audiobook for free from Librarything in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Surviving the Angel of Death

An uplifting read about overcoming the atrocities faced in the Auschwitz extermination camp. Eva Kor and her twin, Madeleine were separated from their family and forced to be test subjects for Dr. Mengele experiments. Known as the angel of death, he conducted experiments on thousands of twins, dwarves, gypsies, and other "interesting" subjects. As Eva recounts in this memoir, "Death was easy, but surviving was a full time job." Although depressing and troubling, this holocaust memoir is appropriate for younger audiences because it isn't as graphic as some other biographies. This short memoir also contains pictures as well. A must read story of survival and forgiveness for all ages.

Ben Hur

FINALLY! This is one of those books that I thought would never end. It would go from super exciting to boring as all get out and it took me until the chariot race to even really get into it. It's cool that it was written by a Hoosier and was the first piece of fiction to be blessed by the pope, BUT... that's about it. It was written very prettily, I suppose but it won't be one I ever re-read or recommend to people. Unless they love historical, religious reads. Kinda wish I had just watched the movie.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

After Alice

I hate to give books such bad reviews, I really do. So, I'll try to start this nicely. It was EXTREMELY well written. There was witty dialogue, beautiful scenery, and wonderful detail paid attention to the time frame.... and that's all that I can admire. To be fair, I'm not a huge fan of the original Alice in Wonderland, so it's not shocking that I don't love this companion. I hate stories that are fanciful, fluffy, and have no point. It's pure nonsense and I have a hard time getting into nonsense writing. I like fantasy and sci-fi as long as there is a plot but Alice in Wonderland is nothing but fluff and nonsense and this new addition is no different. Not my cup of tea.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

A little hard to get into at first, but after a time I was FLYING through it and could not put it down. I had seen the movie about ten years ago but didn't really remember what happened so I was still shocked by pretty much everything. Told through the viewpoint of Chief, the longest resident in the asylum, this story chronicles the changes that take place when Patrick McMurphy, a loud swaggering gambler, comes to the mental hospital. Happy to be off the work farm he thinks that the hospital will be a nice respite from hard labor, but little does he realize how trapped he'll soon become. The big nurse (Mrs. Ratched) has it out for McMurphy from day one and it becomes a battle of the wills to see who will come out on top. Fascinating and heartbreaking. I can't wait to watch the movie again. What a brilliant classic!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Inceptio

After a failed kidnapping attempt, average, ordinary New York resident, Karen Brown has to open her eyes to some harsh new realities. Things aren't as they seem and her family history is suddenly more complex then she realized. Both parents are dead but, it's her mother's ancestry that is suddenly important. She always knew her mother was from Roma Nova, a European country, but she didn't realize that her mother was from a very powerful and wealthy family. As her 25th birthday approaches Karen stands to inherit a lot of money and a business, a fact that was unbeknownst to her, but very clear to her new enemies. A representative from Roma Nova comes to New York to inform and protect Karen but things quickly get deadly as an assassin with nothing to lose won't stop pursuing Karen. Will she ever be safe again in New York? Fast paced this book will appeal to fans of political thrillers, alternate history, and strong female leads.

I received this book for free from the author in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Verjuice in the Kitchen

It's no secret that I'm a novice in the kitchen. Thankfully this small collection of recipes is not rocket science, the food is wonderful and beautiful and actually achievable. The hardest ingredient to find is what the book is named after, the verjuice. After some searching I was able to find it in a health food store and I'll be damned if its not amazing. I'm having fun trying to incorporate it into the few dishes I'm comfortable making. I also tried a few recipes included in this book, the pumpkin soup (it's the right season!) and the potatoes. I loved how the verjuice complemented the potatoes and will most definitely be making it for thanksgiving. As a vegetarian about half of the recipes didn't apply to me, but I lent this book to my dad and he said he was dying to try the piri piri chicken and crab and clam chowder. So between the two of us we might actually get through the whole cookbook! The pictures accompanying each recipe are beautiful and the ingredients and recipes themselves are not that complicated. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes to cook and is looking to branch out into other ingredients (namely verjuice). For more information and to purchase this cookbook (or Adam's other cookbook, Live to Eat: Meals Everyone Can Make) visit, www.adampittaway.co.uk/cookbooks.

I received this book for free from the author in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Just Show Up

While insanely depressing, this book is important and will hopefully find its way to those in times of need. Thankfully, I don't need all the advice this book has to offer now, but I did learn some other important information and will be well prepared should tragedy strike. This book is a practical guide on how to be there for someone suffering cancer or loss or some other tragedy. It talks about how to show up, what to say and do, and how to make the greatest impact on your friend and on your soul. Written by the late Kara Tippets, a cancer patient, and her good friend Jill Lynn Buteyn this book offers good faith based and common sense advice. A must read for anyone wanting to help out others in their time of need.

I received this book for free from Litfuse publicity in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

I re-read this book roughly, every two or three years. This re-reading was even better than most because I got the new beautifully illustrated edition. It's stunning and the pictures add soo much to the story. Worth every penny! I sincerely hope they illustrate all seven books. Take my money already!