Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Moonhead and the Music Machine

This book made me feel as if I were on acid or something. It's a wee bit trippy, but not necessarily bad. This beautifully illustrated graphic novel follows Joet Moonhead as he attempts to rise above his not so awesome life. As can be imagined, the kids at school pick on him because HE HAS A MOON FOR A HEAD! He lusts after one of the popular girls, Melissa, but the only person who treats him normal is his friend Sockets. Joey decides that in order to be noticed (in a good way) by the people who matter he must form a band and play in the talent show.  Joey can't just play any old music instrument, he has to make something really cool. With the help of his friend Ghostboy they make this crazy instrument and blow the socks off the whole school. Suddenly Joey Moonhead is too cool for Sockets. Is he letting popularity get to his already too large head?

This book is utterly ridiculous. Thank goodness for the awesome illustrations. That's really what kept me going. The bright psychedelic colors are amazeballs. The storyline is your not so typical coming of age story. Due to the illustrations of some of Joey's lustier thoughts I wouldn't recommend this to young teens. That is unless you want to listen to parents chew you out about why there are colorful animals humping like crazy and phallic symbols (among others) galore. Interesting read....

Live to Eat: Meals Everyone Can Make

I'm a sucker for a good cookbook and I was soo pleased to find one that wasn't intimidating! There are twenty recipes in this cookbook which may not seem like a lot but each is easily molded or adapted to create new meals. There are four sections each highlighting a different "hero" ingredient: chili, verjuice, olive oil, and dark chocolate. Each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photograph, a tantalizing description, and simple straightforward directions (something a kitchen klutz like myself greatly appreciates!).

While I haven't had time to try out all the recipes, I did try two of the simpler ones to start off with, the potatoes in verjuice and simple tomato salad (I love me some mozzarella!). They were easy, inexpensive to make, and HEAVENLY. Looking back I wish I would have taken a picture!

A great cookbook for beginner cooks and those wishing to try something new, quick, and healthy. Not recommended for vegetarians... unless you host a lot of dinners and cook with meat and seafood.

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

The Survivor's Zombinac

This has been sitting on my shelf, begging to be read ever since I helped fund the kickstarter for it ages ago. Well better late then never. It definitely helped fill in the time waiting for The Walking Dead to return to TV. This graphic novel is a must for any zombie aficionado. It contains hilarious scenarios, survival tips, hilarious advertisements, practical tips, and other random fun. For all those zombie survivalists there are tips on what sort of building to take shelter in, vehicle to drive, and weapon to use. I definitely learned that in the case of being stuck at work or in an office, detaching the paper cutter blade makes an effective machete. Win! Overall, it's funny and the perfect addition to Any Walking Dead fan's collection. Really glad I helped fund this kickstarter!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I literally picked up this manga for two reasons: 1) it had cool artwork and 2) it was $1. So, my expectations weren't super high or anything. It was a really quick read and I finished it in about an hour. The manga follows Shinmen Takezo as he struggles to put his life together after being on the losing end of a massive battle. With the help of some mysterious ladies, he is able to get back on his feet. He vows that he will kill anyone who tries to kill him and as such... kills a lot of people. Wielding a wooden sword he makes his way across the countryside killing any who would dare stop him. As the book proclaims, "This is the journey of a wild young brute who strives to reach enlightenment by way of the sword - fighting on the edge of death."

For fans of action packed historical manga.

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic

I had pretty high hopes for this book. The Titanic is one of the most morbidly fascinating disasters in the twentieth century so of course I was jacked to read another book about it. It was.... not exactly what I was gunning for. It wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't my cup of tea either. The story has several story-lines, some of which I thought were unnecessary. The focus however, is on a young Irish lass named Maggie Murphey. Her story is told through memories, journals, and first person narrative. Other narrators include; Harry - a young steward, Frances - an anxiously awaiting older sister in New York, Seamus - a heartsick Irish lad who pines for Maggie after she's left, and Grace - Maggie's great granddaughter who learns of her great grandmother's history in the 1980's.

The story is a mish mash of past and present, as Maggie unfolds her tale for her granddaughter. Maggie recounts how quickly the opulence of The Titanic made way for the horrors of trying to escape. There's romance and history but that's about it. I thought the ending was predictable (and no, I'm not referring to the fact that I knew the Titanic was going to sink) and the multiple narrators a bit much. After reading this all I wanted to do was watch Leonardo Dicaprio in the Titanic. And who knows, maybe I will.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Identical DVD Review & Giveaway!!

When I heard about The Identical I knew I had to see it for three reasons:
1. It's starring my childhood crush, Seth Green (I was a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan... and still am).
2. It's starring THE Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd.
3. I thought it was about Elvis Presley. The movie takes place in the same era, has the same type of music, dances, fashion, etc. However, it turns out this movie is a whole different fictional, story. Which is actually totally cool with me, I just need to read movie descriptions better before I make assumptions.

This movie is touted as a family movie, but honestly who cares. The only thing that matters is that YOU will love it, guaranteed. It really is an all ages movie (unless you freak out about mild drinking and smoking, in that case, why are you reading my blog?) and is entertaining all the way through. I was hooked from the beginning.

Ryan Wade, a preacher's son, is trying to make his way in life. He tried following what his daddy (Ray Liotta) had planned for him but he realized that in order to stay true to himself he has to forge his own path. He knows that rock and roll music stirs his soul but he doesn't know how to turn that into a career. Instead, he marries his high school sweetheart and becomes a car mechanic in his hometown. A few states away, a man nearly identical to Ryan is living out his dream as a rock and roll star. Ryan follows his career with great interest never realizing how close their paths are. As Ryan struggles to chase his dream he encounters failure, success, passion, love, and stumbles across a hidden family secret that will ultimately change the way he views himself and reveals who he really is.

Seriously, it's a great story, wonderfully cast, and filled with AMAZING original music evocative of the period. Trust me you don't want to miss this!

What's that, you want to watch this movie? Well how would you like to win a free copy? All you have to do is comment below with your name and I will randomly select a winner this 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.”

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fool Moon

This series continues to get better and better. I'm only on the second one and I can't wait to continue the series. This is literally not one minute of downtime in this book. Every time you think wizard, Harry Dresden, is going to get a break all sorts of hell breaks loose. The book opens with Harry complaining how slow it's been, then BAM, werewolf action. As if werewolves couldn't be more deadly, Harry discovers that there are more than one type of werewolf out there, some impostors, some immortal, some cursed, ALL deadly and if things keep the way they're going he may have to face all of them. Werewolves, mobsters, and cops are all after Harry Dresden, how will he ever scrape through this one? Trust me, you have to read to find out and you won't be disappointed!

Monday, December 22, 2014

How to Pick Up a Stripper: And Other Acts of Kindness

I initially picked up this book because of the great title. I had no expectations out of it, it literally just looked good. Turns out, it's actually a really awesome book. Normally, I can't stand evangelicals and bible thumpers that try to push their religion down your throat. This book made me realize that there is a proper way to spread the love of God, and that's through kindness. Straight kindness. Pastor Todd Stevens talks about all the things that his Friendship Church accomplishes by thiunking outside of the box. People don't want to be preached at, they react better to actions. Todd and his church make a point to randomly wash car shields, pass out free gas cards, help special needs children, give free food to strippers and soo much more! They hand out little cards that say something like (forgive me, I don't have the book next to me) " Spreading the love of God - No Strings attached." They aren't forcing people to come to church or guilting the community. They are doing good deeds because it's the right thing to do and people will react more positively to it. This is a must read for any Christian or do gooder. There are so many great ideas and positive stories. Seriesouly soo good!

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

Food: A Love Story

I listened to the audiobook version and I couldn't have been more pleased. Since it was narrated by Jim Gaffigan himself, it was like listening to 7 hours of his stand up. It was great. Jim talks about what he knows best, food. He incorporates some of his jokes from his stand up into this books and expands them into hilariousness. He talks about chain restaurnts, regional food, ethnic food, vegetarians, frozen food, etc. If it's somehow food related, it's in here. One of my favorite quotes that really speaks to me this season is:

“During December we are all ingesting, imbibing, and spending with a reckless abandon like a bachelor party on a guilt-free boondoggle. Everyone has the unspoken agreement that what happens in December stays in December.”

Spoken like a true food lover. This is a must read for all Jim Gaffigan fans and fans of eating. Hilarious.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Finding Jesus

This is quite literally the greatest search and find of all time. It's "Where's Waldo" but with Jesus. I knew I would love it when I saw "Seek and ye shall find - Jesus" emblazoned on the back. How is that for winning. There are sixteen different scenes in which to find Jesus. He's hiding at biker weddings, raves, grocery stores, and rock concerts. As the intro proclaimed:

"When Jesus told his disciples, I am with you always," most people assumed he was just adding a little figurative, feel good-good flourish. As it turns out, Christ is a pretty literal guy. Whether you're rocking out at a concert, dancing, at the club, or seeing a movie, our Savior is everywhere you go. Not in a creepy Police song way, per se, but more like a Godly wingman who knows how to appear and disappear on cue.... Bearded hipster or God's right-hand man? Hard to tell. Robe-wearing hippie or the risen Lord out for a good time? Your guess is as good as anyone's."

How can you not fall in love with a book after an intro like that? Finding JC in your everyday life has never been soo fun! He knows how to blend right in with the crowd, so get your magnifying glass ready! Perfect for anyone. Adults, kids, religious folk, hipsters, search and find fans, etc. This book is pure happiness :)

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas with a SEAL

Let me just preface this with a .... I don't normally read smut disclaimer. I won this through Good Reads giveaways and I thought, "Why not? Let's see what all the hype is about!" If you're the kind of person that likes blushing while reading, little to no plot, ridiculous dialogue, and disgustingly beautiful people. Then this is the book for you, or rather, the genre for you.

Twenty pages is there is already a sex scene. For you smut aficionados, this book was pretty vanilla, no whips, chains, or handcuffs for Phillip, the smoking hot Navy SEAL. Just good ol' fashioned ridiculously perfect sex (dream on ladies, dream on).

Frankie is going through a creative block, her silver business is ruined and she is stuck living with her grandmother. She decides that in order to get her creative juices flowing again (see what I did there), she has to "get her sexy on" with her friend's older brother. After a totally hot night of, you guessed it, lots of sex, Frankie's one night stand turns into something a little more serious. She never thought that she would see Phillip again but fate has intervened and they are both going to make the most of it (by having lots of sex). Predictably they both start falling for each other. It's kinda Christmasy in that Frankie is trying to convince Phillip that the holidays are special. But other than that it's just a backdrop to their lovemaking.... Interesting read....

Monday, December 15, 2014

You Have to Fucking Eat

I feel that if I had children, this book would be my calling card. It contains everything that parents don't want to say out loud. "You Have to Fucking Eat" is the sequel to the wildly popular "Go the Fuck to Sleep" and follows in the same vein. It's wildly inappropriate, hilarious, and oh so true. Here is a short little excerpt:

"Your cute little tummy is rumbling
And pancakes are your favorite treat.
I'm kind of surprised that you suddenly hate them.
That's bullshit. Stop lying and eat."

Seriously, how can you not love this. It's the best picture book for adults (parents specifically) on the market and is a must buy for Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Battle Royale: Angels' Border

I've heard this compared to Hunger Games and... yeah, it pretty much is. It's just a manga/ graphic novel version that is just as dark and depressing, yet oddly good. There aren't any science fiction or fantasy elements in this story, just a bunch of ninth graders trapped on an island with weapons and forced to kill each other until only one remains. There is a lot of back story though on some characters which adds to the depth of it. Sometimes I got a little lost on who was who or who liked who, so it's essential to pay close attention when reading. Also, I hadn't read  a manga in a while, so it took a hot second for me to get in the habit of properly reading from right to left. Definitely an interesting read!

Storm Front: Book One of the Dresden Files

I have put off reading Jim Butcher for ages because I wasn't a fan of the cover art (seemed more geared to guys and Dungeons and Dragon's players, not that it's a problem, but it didn't seem like my cup of tea) and I didn't really know anyone that read him. I am soo mad that I waited this long to start reading him! OMG, I fell in love with this series! Hardcore. I've always been a fan of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series (at least the first 10, after that it got a little too smutty even for me) and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series seems like the male equivalent of that. I listened to the audio narrated by James Marsters (aka Spike from Buffy) and I became instantly hooked. I knocked out the audio in no time at all, I couldn't stop listening (due in part to Marster's excellent narration)! I became soo absorbed in Harry Dresden's world of magic, mystery, and the dark underbelly of Chicago that I sped through it. Seriously, soo damn good! I plan on listening to the rest of the series now. Possibly the best crime noir fantasy series I've ever read. Get on it!

An Age of License

As a single twenty something who loves to travel, I LOVED this graphic novel. It was honest, funny, insightful and really spoke to me! This memoir illustrates the author's journey abroad, her attempts at love, her aspirations for the future, and the experiences one gains while traveling. It's all honest and true which makes it that much more enjoyable. I honestly can't remember the last time I enjoyed a graphic novel so much. Also, from a librarian's standpoint, this would definitely fall under the genre of new adult. Even though it's cataloged in our collection as young adult, I would say that it's geared more towards young twenty somethings. Adorable!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Strange Library

Bizarre, but oddly satisfying read. It's only about a thirty minute read, but in that time there's enough development and plot to keep you going. A young boy enters a library searching for answers. Once he is directed to room 107 he finds that he may never get the chance to leave. An old twisted librarian keeps him hostage in a labyrinth and his only chance at escape is with a doughnut loving sheep man and a mysteriously beautiful girl. The awesome graphics help keep this crazy story going and it's clear that this short story had some beginning in a dream or nightmare. It's clever and intriguing, I only wish librarians were painted in a better light ;) In Haruki Murakami's book, they like to feast on juicy knowledge filled brains. As the sheep man says: " If all they [librarians] did was lend out knowledge for free, what would the payoff be for them?" Brain sucking librarians aside, I really enjoyed this fanciful little tale. Worth a read for the pictures and amazing cover alone.

Spotlight Tour - The Metabolism Solution

One of the awesome things about blogging and reviewing books is that you get to participate in some pretty awesome stuff. One of which being this spotlight tour for Lisa Lyn's "The Metabolism Solution." I won't be posting the full review today (check back later for that bad boy), but I will be posting some information and a GIVEAWAY about the book. How's that for excitement?!!!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Metabolism Solution, Lose 1 Pound A Day and Melt Belly Fat Fast by Lisa Lynn
Category: Adult non-fiction,  207 pages
Genre: Health, Fitness, Weight Loss, Christian, Cooking, Self help
Available in: Print and E-book format

Book Description:

Are you ready to lose 1 pound a day? Have you tried every weight loss plan under the sun? Don’t give up in frustration; The Metabolism Solution will make it faster and easier. What makes The Metabolism Solution different? It will teach you how to safely harness the power of your metabolism to lose weight and melt belly fat fast. You will learn the right way to work out to boost your metabolism with the best part being seeing results the first day after your first 30-minute workout. You will learn how to address your weight loss and fitness issues from the inside out, allowing you to focus on what created the weight gain in the beginning and how to correct those issues. Do you love delicious food? You'll adore Lisa Lynn’s 100 irresistibly delicious fat blasting recipes. The Metabolism Solution is the perfect roadmap for not only transforming your body, but changing your whole life.


The giveaway is: LynFit Fat Loss Trio Package (worth $108.95!) along with a copy of her book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 7, 2014

America Again: Rebecoming the Greatness We Never Weren't

LOVED this!! I love satire so it's amazing that I haven't gotten around to reading Stephen Colbert sooner. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version because it's narrated by the Colbert himself. Laugh out loud funny, this audiobook may have listeners careening out of control on the highway. It's that good.

Colbert breaks his book apart into the following sections: American exceptionalism, jobs, healthcare, Wall Street, energy, elections, justice, food, easy solutions, and "I am Drunk." Each chapter is meant to reinforce the listener/reader's belief that America is the greatest and he gives hilarious reasons why. “America is exceptional. Does that statement shock you? It shocks me to have to say it! To be forced by your doubt to say out loud that America is exceptional implies something ugly. It's like telling the host of a dinner party 'I'm certain your wife is a female.' Saying it out loud just feels wrong. No matter how big her hands are.”

Hilarious, ironic, and well worth a listen :)

Susie's Hope - Review and Giveaway!

I don't normally go for super sappy movies, but I do have a soft spot for animals and when I learned that this movie was about Susie's Law, legislation that cracked down on animal abusers in North Carolina, I was intrigued.

Donna Lawrence was a pit bull attack survivor. An abandoned pit bull mauled her leg and left her in physical therapy for months. Nearly a year later, Donna learned that a pit bull mix puppy had been found abused and literally broken. Burns were on 60% of her body, her ears were cut off, her jaw broken, teeth missing, and maggots everywhere. She was on the brink of death but a local animal shelter was able to save her. Although, she had been attacked by a pit bull mix, Donna felt a kinship for this puppy. Donna was wrongfully attacked by a dog and Susie was wrongfully attacked by a human, they were a perfect match!  Donna and her husband eventually fostered the pup, and deciding that Susie was a part of the family, eventually adopted her. Susie's abuser was found and brought to court, but unfortunately due to North Carolina's laws the worst that would happen to him would be 8 months probation, he would never serve a term in jail. Donna and her friends decided that the law had to be changed so animal abusers could no longer walk away free. This is their story.

The movie was inspiring and got me to research Susie's Hope, a nonprofit organization that I had never even heard of. The movie is good, albeit a little sappy and HEAVILY Hollwoodized (watch the movie and then read about it online, there are several key differences), but it does a great job of getting the message out.  The story of how some motivated people were able to change the law should get you inspired. Anyone can make a difference if they only try!!

So overall, sappy (but in a good way), semi-low budget (you'll recognize a few faces), and very dramatized, but perfect for animal lovers and lifetime channel enthusiasts. The only thing I have a beef with is the hipocracy that people crusading for animal rights sometime inhabit. Animal cruelty and eating meat go hand in hand. Donna was clearly no vegetarian (numerous bacon frying scenes) and she talks about justice for ALL animals, but really she just means justice for pets. Farm animals and wildlife aren't as cuddly and cute as dogs are so who cares what their living conditions are... end rant.

Finally, who wants to win a free copy of this DVD?!? All you have to do is comment below and I will randomly select a winner next 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.”

Belfast Noir

A collection of stories that packs a punch. Each crime/thriller/mystery short story is beautifully crafted and readers will lose themselves in the powerful and engrossing prose. The setting is the dark underbelly of Belfast. All the grime, murder, and violence found in Belfast shows itself in these stories. I can honestly say that there is not one story I didn't like, the dog fighting one was a little rough, but overall, I found myself totally digging all the stories. Some of the contributing authors are big names like Lee Child and Alex Barclay and others are little known, but amazing emerging authors. This noir anthology is a must for anyone interested in this genre, and even for those who aren't (like myself) because it's an impossibly hard to put down collection. Belfast show's its true colors (ie bloodstains) in this gritty collection. Thoroughly enjoyable!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Brothers' Keepers

It's The Davinci Code meets The View but with less women and more religion. I must preface this review by saying, I did not read the first book in this series and I don't think that it threw me off too much, yeah I didn't get some references, but whatever. I was really excited for this book, I saw "archaeologist" in the description and I immediately thought "Indiana Jones." I was right in some regard I guess, there is a lot of adventure, intrigue, and espionage. Archaeologist Grace Madison discovers that her son's bride has been shot at on their honeymoon and that her daughter has gone missing. In no time at all she and a team consisting of her family (sans daughter Maggie), former professors, and some Israeli intelligence (with the aid of MI6 and the CIA of course) are trying to find out what Maggie has uncovered that got her kidnapped. It leads them on a wild goose chase all over Europe trying to trap down half off a scroll, an ancient water source, and dodge assassins in the process. It's good in theory but far too unbelievable. The Davinci Code may seem plausible because everything is fleshed out. In this novel, so much happens too fast that you can barely react or catch what's happening. The author crams so much in that all the characters seem super human, literally on every page someone is shooting at them or trying to blow them up and they don't bat an eyelash. They may act surprised for a minute but then they just keep going. Granted Grace's husband, son, and daughter in law have all been involved in the special forces at some point, but not Grace! She somehow rolls with the punches, says a few prayers, and goes with it. Also the submarines, special ski equipment, and carnival at the end seemed a little extravagant to me, but to each their own. It wasn't awful, the characters had some fun quirks, there is a nice unresolved love triangle, and some interesting "historical" tidbits. Dan Brown fans and fans of fast paced spy novels will enjoy this.

I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in return for my honest, unbiased review and participation of this blog tour,

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Country Days

This short collection of stories is a feel good reminiscing of growing up in the Irish countryside. Alice Taylor recalls her childhood, her marriage, her neighbors, her children, and her faith in often times hilarious and insightful clarity and the reader is stuck wishing that they too lived in a quaint little village in Ireland. At least that's how I felt. When I finished listening to the audiobook, I wanted to pack up my suitcase and head over. Such a serene sounding life, beautiful and filled with wonder. Listening to the audiobook was also nice because the narrator had such a wonderful voice (anyone with an Irish accent has a nice voice, but that's beside the point).

This is a must read or listen for anyone obsessed with the Irish countryside or small village life. It's a quick read (only a 4 hour audiobook, so I can only imagine how short the actual book is), easy to put down, because each chapter is a short essay or remembrance.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Portlandia Cookbook

Disclaimer: I've only watched about three episodes of the show, but I was still easily able to recognize characters and their quirky mannerisms in the book. If I had never seen the show I would definitely been a lot more lost. While there are recipes (this is a cookbook after all), there are also many anecdotal sidebars, tips, and stories that refer back to the show and characters. I was hoping that there would be more vegan or vegetarian options, but alas, I believe there was only two or three vegan recipes, not including drinks (but plenty of vegetarian options). I actually was impressed with how good some of the recipes sound. I thought this would be mainly a humorous book, with cooking thrown in as a joke, but there are some pretty damn legit recipes in here. I have bookmarked: kale and quinoa bowl with tofu and mushrooms, tomatoes and snap peas with roasted corn chile dressing, and the tortilla espanola. The pictures looked heavenly and the recipes didn't look overly complicated so I think they are definitely worth a try.

After reading this book, I definitely want to start watching the show again, this book was laugh out loud funny! Unfortunately, only fans of the show or people who live in Portland will really get all the jokes, but as long as you're one of those two you will definitely love this humorous cookbook!

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


Thematically, not a bad story. But definitely, definitely, not my cup of tea. Before I let my opinion of this book cloud your mind, I do want to state that while, I might not have loved this book, I don't see why some kids wouldn't. It's a kid's book through and through and kids (probably 3rd through 6th) that are into fantasy and fairy tales might get a big kick out of this. Usually, I'm perfectly fine reading children's books, but this chapter book must have been the exception. I was a sheer force of will power that enabled me to finish it. Basically the story goes a little something like this.

Bog, a cave troll, goes to seek revenge for his father's "death" (he was turned into stone). The legendary troll hunter has been training recruits on how to trap trolls and lure them into the sunlight. Bog decides that the only way to protect his remaining family is to hunt the Troll Hunter and stop the cycle. Before he sets off on his quest, his grandmother gives him shocking news, Bog is half human! Bog always wondered why he wasn't as ugly and big as the other trolls, but he never could have imagined that his father was ever in love with a human. With a heavy heart he sets out of the woods, before long he saves the life of a forest troll, Small, and they become fast friends. Small agrees to help Bog on his quest but there is only one catch, they have to take a little human child with them. Bog adamantly refuses but when he discovers that there may be a legendary nose stone that can turned stone trolls back to life he begrudgingly takes her along in case she may be useful.

Yep, that's about it. The folklore surrounding the trolls was interesting as was their descriptions. I just couldn't give a hoot about the plot.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Book of Unknown Americans

This book made me feel, which is more than I can say about a lot of other novels. It pulled at my heartstrings and made me open my eyes to an issue that a lot of Americans don't really think or care about much, immigration. Arturo and Alma move from Mexico to the US (legally, in case you're wondering) to seek help for their brain damaged daughter. They've been told that the schools in the United States are better equipped to deal with special needs children so they decide to uproot their lives so that their beautiful daughter Maribel might have a shot a rehabilitation. Arturo takes an unskilled low paying job at a mushroom farm and his wife and daughter settle in to their new apartment. They find themselves surrounded by immigrants from all over: Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, etc. Together they form a mismatched community or safe haven. They have each others backs as they try to adjust to the American way of life. One of the teenage boys from Panama sets his sight on Maribel and looks past her brain damage to see a sweet, loving, confused girl. Together they try to navigate their relationship just as their parents are doing.

Beautifully told and heartbreaking this novel is told through the voices of the immigrants. Each resident in the apartment complex tells their story on why they came to America and how it has or hasn't lived up to their expectations. The two key voices however, are Alma and Mayor (the Panamanian boy), and each vignette helps piece together the story of trying to make a life in America.

It's a fast, hard to put down book filled with compassion, brutal honesty, and the perseverance of the human spirit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Part memoir, part essay, part humorous anecdotes, this lively audiobook narrated by the author herself is a must for any fan of Tina Fey or comedic books. I literally laughed out loud multiple times listening to this, it was too funny not to. Tina Fey regales listeners with stories of growing up, her father, her heritage, working at Saturday Night Live, her honeymoon, being a mother, 30 Rock, and Sarah Palin. There is something in this for everyone. As far as audiobooks go, this one is fairly short, clocking in at only 5 discs, this is due in part to the hilarious fast paced narration of Tina. Even though it's funny, Tina also does a great job of tackling serious issues such as sexism, politics, motherhood, and more. She's not just funny, she's got brains too!! This is a must listen. I can't imagine anyone not liking this!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hansel & Gretel

I think I was expecting a little MORE, but then again, this is a kid's book. Pages alternate between spine tingly black and white illustrations and Neil Gaiman's version of Hansel and Gretel. He doesn't add any new twists or tricks to the story, it's the classic Grimm version we all grew up with. That being said it's still a great read for children who are interested in folk tales. This isn't necessarily anything to write home about, the illustrations are good, the story is good, but it's nothing new or exciting. In the back of the book there is a brief blurb on the oral and written history of Hansel and Gretel with a little bibliography. Alright, but not amazing.


Clever, very clever. This book reminded me a lot of Bradbury and "Something Wicked This Way Comes." It's got a great and electrifying "villain" that will haunt you way after you finish this book. Jamie Morton recounts five decades of his life and regales readers with the story of his fifth business, the ever evolving Reverend Charles Jacobs. The Rev makes appearances throughout Jamie's life and while some good has come of it, Jamie feels the shadow creeping over him. Stephen King builds up the suspense and. as always, has a terrifying conclusion. While it's not scary all the way through it can be quite chilling. This is a story of debts owed, life on the other side, addiction, and fanaticism. A must read for any Stephen King fan!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I don't know if my expectations were too high or what, but I was not a huge fan of this book. It was kind of like the Disney movie Atlantis, huge potential = major letdown. I had such high hopes for this book. Sirens?! A city under the sea?!? What could go wrong?! Apparently everything, because I was unimpressed with the whole thing. Rio and her sister Bay have always lived Below in Atlantia, but for as long as she can remember, Rio has wanted to go above. When her mother dies Rio promises her sister that she'll never leave Atlantia, but that all backfires when her sister abandons her and goes Above instead. Now Rio is stuck Below and filled with doubt. Why would her sister leave her? Was her mother murdered? How can she sneak above? To top everything off, Rio is a Siren, but she hides it from everyone because it's dangerous and could mean a life of servitude. Will Rio find the answers she's looking for? Will she unexpectedly find love along the way? Will she ever make it Above? Read if you really want to find out. If not... you're not missing out. Great concept, but... it just doesn't mesh. Something is off about this story.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Yes Please

Just like Mindy Kaling's book, this memoir made me believe that I could and should best friends with Amy Poehler. It's hilarious, raw, honest, insightful, intriguing, and beguiling. It's great! There are short essays, tell alls, poems, pictures, funny lists, and more.

Amy talks a little about her childhood, how she fell in love with improv, Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey, her marriage, children, and pregnancy, and of course, Parks and Rec. It was awesome and it made me appreciate her even more as an actress and comedian. She put a lot of hard work into getting where she is today and it was interesting to learn how she started on that journey.

Basically, you'll love this. If you like funny memoirs written by strong funny females (Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Jenny Lawson, Caitlin Moran, etc.) then this book is definitely for you. Also, if you like her as an actress then you will love this, it's not just for women either, every should appreciate her ridiculous humor. Soo much fun!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Martian

READ THIS BOOK! I've read some pretty amazing shit this year, but this one takes the cake. It is hands down the best book I've read in 2014. Simply... mind blowing! It's Macgyver meets Castaway... but on Mars.

It's labeled as science fiction but it seems so stunningly real that it could happen some day. Like in the not to distant future. Author, Andy Weir puts his nerdy engineering and space skills to the test in this book by brilliantly bringing to life an unimaginable scenario. Astronaut Mark Watney is mistakenly left on Mars after a mission goes wrong. His crew thinks him dead and are ordered to abort the mission and go home. Mark has to use all his skills and resolve to stay alive on this desolate planet. All he has is a small base, 2 rovers, and enough food to last 300 days. Can he re-establish contact with earth? Can he make the food stretch? Can he find the will to survive? It sounds serious and depressing, but it's anything but. It's witty, informative, and damn smart. Mark tries to make the best of his shitty situation and his daily logs contain dark humor and an amazing strength to believe.

You have to read it! Simply amaze-balls. I can hardly believe this is Andy Weir's first book, it's genius, well-researched, and has qualities to draw readers of all genres in. I cannot wait to see the movie version coming out next winter!

For fans of... anyone that has a brain. READ IT!

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

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

I LOVED this short story collection! I just want to wrap up this book and give it to all my friends for Christmas. It's freaking adorable! The collection of authors who have stories in here is impressive, they're all kings and queens of the YA market. There is Holly Black, Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Laini Taylor and several more. Each short story is holiday themed romance, but beyond that, they vary wildly! There is Hannakuh, New Years, Krampus Day; Kelly Link throws some fantasy in her London Christmas story, David Levithan throws ho ho homosexuals in (adorable and sad story, as always), Holly Black gets wild in "Krampuslauf," and there is much much more. I read this book in a span of one day, and I was not disappointed in a single story! I think my two favorites were by Holly Black and Stephanie Perkins. This is a must read for teens and adults this holiday season. You seriously won't be disappointed. Best holiday book I've read in a long time, perhaps... ever?!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Real Life

An insightful and quick read for fans of graphic novels, gaming, and the global economy. I literally read this bad boy in about half an hour. It's wonderfully illustrated (Sarge looks just like Madame Medusa from "The Rescuers," it's awesome!) and it will get teens (and maybe adults) thinking about politics, economics, and what constitutes right and wrong. Anda joins Coarsegold online, an online rpg, that she quickly becomes obsessed with. She makes new friends and quickly moves her way up the ranks (or rather levels) and befriends a gold farmer, a person who illegally harvests treasures in the game to sell them for real money. Things aren't as black and white though she soon realizes. The person behind the gold farmer is a kid her age in China who works 14+ hours a day in this game just to make ends meet. It's a thought provoking read about the "who" behind our games, clothes, and other items. Not to be missed.

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces

What a stunning debut for teens! Girls of all ages and walks of life will appreciate this blunt and honest glimpse into the life of a teenage girl that is just trying hard to get by. It's hard for Gabi, on overweight girl with an overbearing Mexican mother, sullen brother, meth addicted father, pregnant best friend, and another one that's gay. Is it too much for life to be normal? She brilliantly narrates her "over-dramatic life" in this diary and fills it with poetry, letters, and daily observations. Trying to accept your family, navigate boys, feel good about yourself and your heritage, and figure out the future are just some of the things she touches on. It's laugh out loud funny and brutally insightful. A must read for teenage girls or really anyone. This book was just fantastic!

Station Eleven

This will definitely have a place on my shelf as one of my favorite post-apocalyptic literary novels (nothing will ever beat Stephen King's "The Stand" tho). Everything in this book was beautifully crafted and deftly tied together, it's really a marvel. It all begins one night at a theater in Toronto, the lead, a famous actor playing King Lear, falls dead in the middle of a performance and it seems to mark the beginning of the end. Soon after an apocalyptic flu sweeps the globe killing nearly everyone (99.99999999%) ten, fifteen, and twenty years later some survivors begin to suspect that their paths may be linked in ways that they could never have imagined. Arthur Leander, the famous actor portraying King Lear, had an impact on others that lasted far longer than his acting career and celebrity. This moving novel takes the reader back in forth in time and tells the stories of those that survived the pandemic and forged on. It's truly a gem.

Friday, November 7, 2014

As You Wish

LOVED this!! Reading this memoir on the filming of "The Princess Bride" brought back soo many good memories for me. It's definitely one of my all time favorite movies and getting to read about what happened behind the scenes was a real treat. Cary Elwes talks about all the different cast members, the director Rob Reiner, the author/ screenwriter and all the different scenes. Learning about the fire swamp scene and the greatest sword fight of all time was definitely intriguing. Four months of training for a three minute sequence!

There are also lots of pictures, quotes, and random facts. This book is just adorable. It's perfect for fans of the movie or the original book. Disclaimer, even though I loved it, Cary talked A LOT about himself and had quotes from cast members talking him u. After a while, I was like, "OK, I get it!" This book would be a perfect christmas gift for... like everyone on your list! Inconceivable, I know!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

If You Follow Me

Fans of BBC shows (Vicar of Dibley, Hetty Wainthrop, etc) and quaint country life should most definitely pick up this series! Inspirational fiction isn't usually known for its tongue in cheek humor or awkward hilarity, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that this had both. Author, Pam Rhodes, does an excellent job of bringing the Dunbridge parish to life and making its good humored and overworked curate supremely lovable. Neil, the curate, and the Church's gardener (a nonbeliever of all things!), Claire, are engaged to be wed. All is well with the world until, Claire's son's father unexpectedly comes back onto the scene. Between his busy work schedule and Claire's former flame, Neil is all a flutter. But there is no rest for the wicked! Parish life is demanding, there is a local talent show, dissent between the flower ladies, a young mother fleeing from her abusive husband and much more to be dealt with. It's laugh out loud funny, and surprisingly sentimental at times. If more inspirational fiction were like this, realistic, humorous, and honest, it would definitely attract a larger following.

 I received this book for free from Kregel Publishing in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Walking Dead: Book Ten

Ahhhhhh!!! I waited forever for this installment and it still left me hanging!! Why must you do this to me Robert Kirkman!! I was all ready for the epic war between Negan and Rick, and I wrongly assumed it would all be settled in this volume, but no! Neither can seem to get the upper hand on the other! This collection is filled with attacks and counter attacks and (SPOILER!) the death of the only animal we've been introduced to, Shiva. Still bitter about that. They finally get a cool, viscous pet tiger and BAM the damn zombies take him down.

Another great installment, I literally cannot wait for the next one. I am so impatient!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Woman Code

Fans of female empowerment books, look out, there's a new book for you! Former White House correspondent, journalist, and TV personality, Sophia A. Nelson, delivers a book that will help you unlock your life with twenty powerful keys. Split into five sections: personal, emotional, spiritual, professional, and relational code, Nelson attempts to help readers find and believe in simple truths that will help raise womankind up. Before we can be better spouses or mother, we have to be better for ourselves. The self comes first, otherwise we can't properly take care of and appreciate the ones we love. The crux of Nelson's beliefs, is that we need to know our value as woman. Once you know your value and potential you can make peace with your past and learn to live authentically. Each chapter, or key, explains several concepts, gives "real life examples" and then has a section on how to "live the code." At the end there also key words and discussion questions in the back (it would make for a thought provoking book club). Overall, I learned some quality things, I definitely think that it's a good guide to empower and inspire confidence in woman. I felt that many of the keys were obvious (maybe they just were to me) and themes could get very repetitive but overall, I commend Nelson on creating a book that many women will eat up. Hopefully it inspires several generation of woman to do more with their lives.

I received this book for free from Revell Reads in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

The Nightingale

Hannah, Kristin. The Nightingale. 14 CDs. unabridged. 17.5 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2015.

Bestselling author, Kristin Hannah (Firefly Lane), outdoes herself in this heart wrenching tour de force. Easily one of the most anticipated novels of 2015, Hannah vividly brings to life the story of two sisters fighting for their lives in Nazi occupied France. Viann, the older and more passive of the two, fights for normality for her and her daughter in the countryside; while Isabelle, the passionate one, finds herself longing to fight with the French resistance in Paris. Filled with human compassion, suffering, romance, and constant danger, this impossibly compelling story will bring tears to the eyes of listeners. Viann and Isabelle learn the hard way that bravery and strength can take on many forms. The bonds of sisterhood may be tested, but can never broken. Polly Stone delivers an impeccable narration of The Nightingale that brings the sisters and wartime France to life with a distinctive and memorable set of voices that will keep listeners coming back for more. Verdict Fans of Kristin Hannah and historical fiction will find themselves immensely pleased with this thought provoking novel.  - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Bare Facts

Where was this book ten years ago?! Seriously! Normally I don't advocate for abstinence only education (stats prove that a well rounded sex-ed class decreases teen pregnancy drastically, schools that teach abstinence only generally have more pregnant teens and rampant STDs), but if this were the required reading I would definitely reconsider my stance. Unlike a lot of other books in this sub-genre, author Josh McDowell, doesn't just tell teens not to have pre-marital sex because God doesn't want them to, he talks about the science why. Now that is a way to get kids listening. Some of the statistics on STDs, birth control, and condoms were scary, even to me! I can't imagine what a teen would think (hopefully to wait a bit). Most teens aren't motivated solely by the bible, sometimes they need an extra push to do the right thing and this book definitely provides that. While their is a lot of Biblical tie-ins (this is a Christian sexuality book) that is the sole research McDowell uses. He sites studies from Planned Parenthood, the Kaiser foundation, Dr. Ruth, the CDC, and hundreds others. He really did his research and that shows! 19 out of 25 STDs aren't prevented by condoms, 80% of all woman will have HPV by the time they are 50, couples who co-habite before marriage have a higher chance of divorce than those who don't, and so on. Some of the statistics were really shocking!

If this book doesn't change your teens mind it will at least force them to think about the consequences of pre-marital sex. A must read for Christian teens, youth groups, and abstinence only education.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishing in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Littlest Christmas Kitten

This book is perfect for children, cat lovers, and Christmas Eve story time. This is the story of a mama cat searching for her lost kitten in the stable on a cold night in December. She looks looks high and low in the stable, in the loft, under the manger, in the cubby holes but is unable to find her baby. When a man and a woman enter the stable the mama cat quickly hides in the manger where she finds her kitten fast asleep! Mama carries the kitten off to be with the rest of the cats and before long the woman who entered the barn gives birth to a baby and puts her son in the manger where the kitten had just been sleeping. All the animals looked on reverently because they knew that this baby was special. The cats had shared the manger with baby Jesus! As the tale concludes, "Now, down through the history of cat kingdom, Mother and Father cats tell this story to their kittens. They tell about the night Baby Jesus slept in the same manger the little kitten had found for its bed."

This Christmas story will give a different perspective of that sacred night to children who will be able to view it through another creature's eyes. Two miracles occurred that night, the mother cat found her kitten and Baby Jesus was born. Miracles, no matter how small, can take place if we only believe. This is a great story for parents and grandparents to share with children to get a close up view of what happened on Christmas Eve. The accompanying illustrations are vibrant and rich and seem to jump off the page. A must for any Christmas book collection!

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

Vegan Holiday Cooking

This book made me so very hungry. The pictures were exquisite, the captions, mouthwatering, and the selection superb!. If you have meat eating friends who are skeptical of the vegan lifestyle, then this is the book to convince them otherwise! Make them a recipe or two from here and, while they may not convert, they will definitely understand that plant based meals can be tasty, satisfying, and totally worthwhile!

I knew the book was going to be a winner when I opened it and saw that there was a forward from Alicia Silverstone and Woody Harrelson in the beginning. If they were fans, how could I not be!? Since I live no where near New York, I can't go visit one of the Candle Cafe locations to sample the food so I'll have to rely on this handy cookbook to give me a good taste of what is offered in their kitchen. Each chapter focuses on a different holiday (Valentine's Day, Superbowl, Sedar, Thanksgiving, etc.) and has several different, drinks, appetizers, main courses, and desserts to choose from. Not all of them are cheap, and many of them are seasonal (depending on what fresh fruits and veggies are available), but even so, there is plenty to choose from! I have bookmarked the scallion pancakes with homemade kimchi and wasabi aioli (it's a little labor intensive but looks and sounds soo delicious!), rosemary portabello steaks with celeriac puree, cabernet reduction, and brussels sprouts (the picture was literally mouthwatering, I even had a dream about it!), chile-crusted corn (I plan on trying this one tomorrow!), and roasted squash soup with almond cream and spiced pumpkin seeds.

This isn't a cookbook for beginners so I plan on starting small. It is however, easily a staple for any vegan kitchen. I can't wait to get started on these recipes!

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Robertson Family Christmas

Fans of feel good holiday stories and the Robertsons will delight in this charming Christmas novella. Miss Kay Robertson (along with the help of Travis Thrasher) has fictionalized her Christmas traditions and added a little something something for Duck Dynasty fans wanting to know Christmas is like in their bustling household.

One lucky teen gets to spend the holidays with the Robertsons. Hunter Clarke has no idea that his mother has entered him in the contest of a lifetime. When he wins he is angry; he had wanted to spend Christmas with his dad and brother, now he has to go down to Louisiana to spend it with a bunch of rednecks? As a result he's moody and sullen. When he arrives at the Robertsons they do everything in their power to improve his mood but it's all to no avail. No matter how many traditions they show him, he seems to be distant. Hunter enjoys participating in charades, duck hunting, baking, and other zany traditions but it just makes him wish he had a family like the Robertsons and makes him more sullen. Will Korie Roberson and the rest of the Duck Commander family be able to pull Hunter out of his funk?

This is a perfect family holiday story. You can read it to your kids or read it to yourself. You'll learn more about the Robertsons and get some great ideas for family traditions.

Also, you're in luck! I'm raffling up an extra copy o this book! If you want to win a copy just comment below!!

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

Willie's Redneck Time Machine

It's no secret, I'm not a huge fan of the Duck Dynasty franchise (it's everywhere!) but I thought that I had better see what all the fuss is about. I'm a public librarian and some of the most frequently requested items are the Duck Dynasty books, memoirs, cookbooks, DVDs, etc. If all my patrons are into it, than maybe it's time I see what the hype is about. I might as well start small so I decided to go with a kid's book. "Willie's Redneck Time Machine" is one of four "Be Your Own Duck Commander" titles, there are also: "Phil & the Ghost of Camp Ch-Yo-Ca," "Sin in Space," and "Jase & the Deadliest Hunt" in the series.  I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that this was a choose your own adventure book!

The reader plays the part of Willie Jess Robertson (This book caters mainly to boys, obviously. The only women mentioned are not strong adventurous women like the MEN of the family, but hey, whatever floats their boats!) who discovers an odd looking outhouse in the shop. Readers will laugh out loud as they get to decide what to do at the end of each chapter. Should they go in the outhouse? How far back in time should they travel? Should they listen to their belly and go to dinner instead? Unlike the original "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, there is no dying in this series so need to worry about scaring kids. If something "bad" happens (think dinosaurs), Willie just wakes back up in the shop. No harm done.

This book series is perfect for little boys (poop jokes, dinosaurs, hunting, etc.) and fans of the Duck Dynasty franchise. It's clean (except for poop jokes) and perfectly sensible for little kids. No death, no guns (except to kill adorable little ducks), no scandalous behavior.

Also, you're in luck! I have a copy to raffle off to anyone who comments on this post! If you want to win a free copy, just let me know why in the comment section below!!

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

The Drop

I made the mistake of watching the movie trailer first so I can only picture Tom Hardy as Bob and James Gandolfini as Cousin Marv. Honestly though, I don't think that's a bad thing. I mean, have you seen Tom Hardy? Yowza! That was one of our main reasons for picking this for book club, because we knew we'd have a great movie to look forward to as well!

This book is quite short for Dennis Lehane novel, in fact, this was originally a short story entitled "The Animal Rescue" that Lehane expanded, and then wrote a screenplay for (his first), at the request of a producer. The resulting story was released at the same time as the movie.

If the movie is half as good as the book, I am going to love it. "The Drop" is phenomenal, it's easily one of my favorite crime/thriller reads of the year. It's gritty, engrossing and totally packs a punch at the end. For being so short, there is some amazing character building. Bob, the bartender and animal rescuer is awesome. Why don't I have a Bob in my life? Tom Hardy seems like an ideal fit to play him. I don't want to summarize the book too much and give it away. Just trust me on this, read it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters

Laugh out loud funny, this book is for any b-movie aficionado or Syfy channel fan. The author of this (im)practical guide states that, "Mother Nature is Angry. Can you blame her? We treat the planet like a rental car with full coverage." He then provides strategies and information on how to "study, avoid, and survive," for thirty five different scenarios of unnatural disasters or monsters. There's helpful advice on bataclysms, firenados, mongolian death worms, and sharktopus. For each event or monster there is a helpful picture, high risk groups (generally former child star actors, eccentric billionaires, mathematicians in leather jackets, etc.), threat to humanity factor, risk of encounter, and Fin's WTF factor. All of these useful tidbits will help prepare you in the unlikely event of one of these disasters occurring near you. For example in the event of a swamp volcano, don't drive through lava, no matter how tempting it sounds or how badly you need to get to Starbucks. To avoid running into bigfoot, make sure to carry bear defense pepper spray. "You can find it at most sporting goods store. Popular brands include Counter Assault, Sabre Frontiersman, and Axe Body Spray."

All of the (un)natural events and creatures in this book have been featured in some sort of Syfy Channel movie, which you can easily look up in the guide at the end of the book. Some bonus features included at the end include:  "The Sheperd Survival Assessment Test" (according to my results I'm a chum, no hope for me!), unnatural disaster kit, emergency supplies for your vehicle, Space Shaknado book excerpt, and filmography.

An entertaining read, that will have you laughing out loud and groaning at the ridiculous puns and jokes (see chapter on "boaricane").

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween: An American Holiday, An American Tradition

I'm not gonna lie, when I first picked up this book I was a little skeptical . I'd read "The Halloween Tree" by Ray Bradbury, I knew all their was to know about the history of Halloween, how could their possibly be any more to the story? Well, that's where I was wrong. Author, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, painstaking researches the origins of traditions, feast days, and folk lore going all the way back to the Celts, Druids, and Romans. Even though the title of this book boasts the "American History," Bannatyne does her research and takes the reader all the way back to Europe to get a glimpse of the first origins. She then talks about how it was meshed with other cultures and religions (the Roman Empire, Christianity, etc.) through the centuries and how it finally was celebrated on October 31 (November 1 is All Saint's Day or Hallow's Day, so October 31 is Hallows Eve). Once it was joined with Scottish and Irish traditions, it started to more closely resemble the holiday we celebrate now: costumes to blend in with the dead, begging for food door to door, carrying turnip lanterns (pumpkins were a new favorite when they came to America), and playing pranks or tricks on one another (picked up from Guy Fawkes Day). Once the immigrants brought their traditions to the United States, things escalated and by the late nineteenth century, ladies magazines were producing articles on how to throw the best Halloween parties. When the Halloween tradition came to America, it lost a lot of the "communion with the dead" aspects. The Victorian age simply turned it into another reason to party.

Overall, it was a fascinating read. I learned soo much about one of my favorite holidays and I definitely appreciate it even more, knowing the rich history behind the traditions. A must read for any fan of Halloween or things that go bump in the night. It's filled with great poetry, pictures, and drawings to go along with the history. I do wish there had been more about the Day of the Dead and the evolution of costumes (how did they get so slutty?!), but hey, this book is 25 years old, I understand :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Manic Drive - VIP - A CD Review and Giveaway!

You all know how much I dig Christian pop/rock right?....... (chirp, chirp). Ok, ok, you're right. I don't ever listen to Christian music, that is except when I'm at church (but that is decidedly more old school) or I'm doing my 5:00 am cardio workouts with a bunch of young moms at another local church (getting up at the butt crack of dawn to work out is as hard as it sounds). Needless to say my experience with inspirational music doesn't amount to a whole hill of beans.

When I heard about this blogging opportunity, I thought I had to try it out. Worst case scenario, I hate it, and give the CD to my cardio instructor who would probably appreciate it a lot more than me. To my surprise however... I actually loved it! And I'm not just saying that because I don't want to go to hell for hating a Christian band or anything, I really have enjoyed it and have listened to the entire album several times now. Some of the songs have even gotten stuck in my head! Streetlights and Electric are totally catchy (and would make great workout music, it gets your blood pumping!). This album brings me back to my boy band days. I miss Backstreet Boys (as a grown woman I saw them this summer, judge away!) and N'SYNC and New Kids on the Block. Listening to Manic Drive brought back all those memories! Manic Drive is catchy, has great messages in their songs (without being too overbearing), and a must for any boy band lover like myself. How had I never heard of them (by not listening to Christian radio, That's how!)?!?

I'm a new convert and just went to the library to order Manic Drive's last two albums. If they're half as good as VIP I'll love them! The promotional sales pitch sure didn't lie, "I’m sure you and your loved ones will LOVE the upbeat tunes from this God-loving Canadian rock/pop band." I did! And I'm sure you could too! I have another copy of Manic Drive's VIP album to giveaway! If you're interested, just comment below and this Friday I will randomly select a winner!!

"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.”