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


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


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!


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.