Tuesday, June 27, 2017

*Review* The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich


Genre: YA Horror
Published: September 15, 2015
Pages: 419

Synopsis

Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace. 


Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere." 

Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson. 

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it. 

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary - and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.

Review

I received an audiobook version of this book through Audiofile Sync's summer reading program for teens free of charge with no expectations. This is my honest review. 

This book hooked me from the beginning. I was curious to understand the relationship between Carly and Kaitlyn. It seemed pretty straightforward at first; Carly got the day and Kaitlyn got the night, and that's just the way it had always been. I kind of wondered how their body didn't end up exhausted, but apparently it worked for them. But now I think Kaitlyn is a very unreliable narrator because I don't think she told me the full truth, although it's also very possible she never knew the full truth herself. In any case, by the end of the book I was questioning everything I thought I knew about the story. I'm still trying to figure it out now, weeks later, and when a book leaves me pondering it for weeks, that's awesome. 

The story is told through a variety of diary entries, witness testimony, and narration of video diary entries. It provided a unique view on the events from a variety of perspectives, but it was not particularly conducive to getting to the bottom of things. In spite of that, I really liked this format, probably because I wasn't being spoon-fed all the information.

The audiobook has a full cast of narrators, so all the voices were unique. Additionally, the story can easily be listened to at 1.5 speed, if you are so inclined. 

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Stephen King and will likely be reading more from Dawn Kurtagich myself in the future. 5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

Amazon

About the Author

Dawn Kurtagich is a writer of creepy, spooky and psychologically sinister YA fiction, where girls may descend into madness, boys may see monsters in men, and grown-ups may have something to hide. 

By the time she was eighteen, she had been to fifteen schools across two continents. The daughter of a British globe-trotter and single mother, she grew up all over the place, but her formative years were spent in Africa—on a mission, in the bush, in the city and in the desert.

She has been lucky enough to see an elephant stampede at close range, a giraffe tongue at very close range, and she once witnessed the stealing of her (and her friends’) underwear by very large, angry baboons. (This will most definitely end up in a book . . . ) While she has quite a few tales to tell about the jumping African baboon spider, she tends to save these for Halloween! 

When she was sixteen, she thought she'd be an astronomer and writer at the same time, and did a month-long internship at Cambridge's prestigious Cavendish Laboratories. 

She writes over at the YA Scream Queens, a young adult blog for all things horror and thriller, and she is a member of the YA League.

Her life reads like a YA novel.
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*Review* I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai


Genre: Memoir
Published: October 8, 2013
Pages: 327

Synopsis

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. 

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

Review

I have been meaning to read this book for a few years now and finally got around to it for Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage month this year (I'm just a bit late getting the review posted). This is a book that I feel like everyone should read, but the people who should read it the most are the people least likely to do so, probably.

Malala's life is fascinating, even without her having been shot by the Taliban, although I imagine fewer people would care about her story without that detail (I know I never would have heard of her without it). I was astonished by the details about her homes and school. It seems like she was basically living in poverty, at least by American standards, but the way she talks about it, it seems like they were pretty well off by Pakistani standards. It was just a bit of a disconnect for me.

I was both intrigued and horrified by her account of how the Taliban took over her beloved Swat valley. I know that we Americans, in general, wonder what would make Muslims turn to and/or support the Taliban, but after reading Malala's account, it makes sense. I imagine if the government and Red Cross had ignored the needs of the residents of New Orleans after Katrian, and the Taliban came in with food, bottled water, and lumber to start repairing the damage for the poor most affected, you'd find a fair few of them supporting the Taliban today, too. Nowhere close to a majority, but enough that getting the Taliban out of New Orleans would be difficult, especially if the National Guard wasn't really trying. It's easy to criticize the Muslims that don't speak out against radical Islamic groups, but it's harder to do that when you put yourself in their shoes, like this book does. 

Overall I give I am Malala 5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

Amazon

About the Author

Malala Yousafzai is a 16 years student from Swat, Pakistan. She is studying in 8th class. She wrote a diary for BBC in early 2009 with a different name "Gul Makai", she wrote about the critical situation in Swat at that time. She later on became famous and worked for children rights in Swat, Pakistan. 

She was nominated for a children award by an international organization in 2011. She appeared on many national and international news channels, TV channels and newspapers. She is a brave girl and has the ability to speak out the truth. She struggled for children's Education in her region Swat. She struggled when the militants were fighting against Pakistan Army in Swat and was banning girls' school in Swat.

On 8th October 2012 she was attacked in Swat when coming back from school to home, and thus we created this blog to share love for her and share all the facts about Malala.

Malala is now living and studying in the United Kingdom, and she has started going to school.

*Top Ten Tuesday* Top Reads of 2017 (So Far)


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Joood - Hooligan of Platypire reviews bossed me into doing this, so I guess this is a thing I do now. 

This weeks theme is top books I've read so far in 2017. These books are in no particular order because I can't be bothered to try to rank them right now.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan arrived in my mailbox at the perfect time. I was having a horrible day as a stay at home mom and started reading it right away. And it is so spot on for the expectations of mothers nowadays that I both love it and hate it because a lot of those expectations make me angry. And I'm not really a big fan of feeling angry.

Feed by M.T. Anderson. My love for this book may be due in part to the fact that I listened to the audiobook at 1.5 speed. The main characters are teenagers, and the nature of the story is definitely conducive to a fast-paced relation of events. I also think that listening to it at an increased speed actually helped me get into a future teenage mindset (not that they necessarily talk fast, but still.) In any case, this dystopian was a winner for me.

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan. This book got under my skin because it felt almost realistic. Like I have no problem believing that in a few years the next big thing in reality entertainment would be something just like what this story describes. And that is kind of terrifying. Like when my kids are teenagers, this could be the kind of thing they're tempted to do on the internet. That should scare everyone.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. This book was so enlightening for me, and it was really interesting to me to learn about life under apartheid, especially since Trevor could apparently pass as a white boy as far as South Africans were concerned. That added an interesting dimension to the tale.

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham. I needed to read this book because I'm a bit of a Gilmore Girls fanatic. And I'm pretty sure Gilmore Girls fanatics account for about 95% of Graham's target audience. She definitely spends a lot of time dishing about her time on Gilmore Girls. But she also talks quite a bit about her life leading up to being cast on the show as well and Hollywood dynamics for female characters. I basically found the whole thing pretty interesting.

Sorry Not Sorry by Naya Rivera. I originally wanted to read this book because Rivera's character on Glee is one that I love to hate. She is a straight up witch sometimes, but she has her good moments too. So I don't even always want to hate her. I didn't know that Naya was a child star too though. And her account of growing up somewhat in the spotlight, but not fully in the spotlight was very interesting to me. And I love how unapologetic she is about some of her life choices that others may judge harshly. It's a great attitude to have.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison. Clearly 2017 has been a big year for memoirs for me. I guess they appeal to the reality tv fan living inside me, and they make for good audiobook listens. And this is a memoir that I wanted to read because of Madison's place in the reality tv world. I'm actually surprised by how much information we get about life inside the Playboy Mansion in this story. And I'm sure we didn't even get all of it. If you liked The Girls Next Door, I definitely recommend this book.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. This book was such a trip, but in a good way. I finished this book like a month ago and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what went on. I'd love a sequel or a prequel that shows us how Carly and Kaitlyn became the way they are (because I think they weren't always like that, but maybe I'm wrong, maybe they were.) Usually at the end of a book I feel like I know what happened, but that's not the case with this one, and that's not a bad thing.

So that's the books I've liked best so far in 2017. What are the best books you've read so far this year? - Katie


*Review* Diving Under by Ginna Moran


Genre: YA Paranormal
Published: June 27, 2017
Pages:

Synopsis

Eight years after her older sister was swept out to sea, eighteen-year-old Ava Adair still swears off the ocean. It takes a promise of the best vacation of her life aboard the Ocean Jewel with her friends to get her even within reach of the waves. When she steps aboard the luxury yacht to sail the California coastline, the last thing she expects is to gain the attention of gorgeous Carter Stevens, the yacht’s deckhand, who becomes the perfect distraction against her fear of the open water.

On the yacht, a freak accident involving Carter reveals a secret he’s been hiding from Ava. She discovers that he’s a merman and by saving her, he changed her life. One misstep could reveal the new secret they share and ruin the life on land she’s desperate to maintain. Torn between a future on land with her family and a new life at sea, Ava must decide—is her former life worth fighting for, or can she accept that she belongs to the ocean?

Review

I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the story makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

So this is a book about mermaids that seem to follow rules similar to the werewolves in Twilight. And you're either going to have to read the book yourself to see what I'm talking about, or take my word for it, because I'm not going into specifics on that count here (spoilers!) And I don't consider it a bad thing. For me, the similarities just helped me to more quickly adjust to the rules, and they were easier to remember. 

So now that that's out of the way, will someone please read this book ASAP so that we can talk about it together, because I need to talk about this book with someone. It's like Gossip Girl meets The Little Mermaid with some Twilight werewolf style drama thrown in for good measure, except the relationships between the friends in Diving Under were not nearly as volatile or toxic as those found in Gossip Girl

For the most part this was a lighthearted read, although there was a fair amount of underlying tension with Ava trying to navigate her changing reality without getting caught. There was even one part that had me in tears from laughing so hard, but those were later to be revealed to be tears of lies! 

Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommend it to paranormal fans. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

Ginna Moran is a writer living in Austin, Texas but originally from Southern California. She started writing poetry as a teenager in a spiral notebook that she still has tucked away on her desk today. Her love of writing grew after she graduated high school and she completed her first unpublished manuscript at age eighteen. 

When she realized her love of writing was her life's passion, she studied literature at Mira Costa College in Northern San Diego. Besides writing novels, she was senior editor, content manager, and image coordinator for Crescent House Publishing Inc. for four years. 

Aside from Ginna's professional life, she enjoys binge watching television shows, playing pretend with her daughter, and cuddling with her dogs. Some of her favorite things include chocolate, anything that glitters, cheesy jokes, and organizing her bookshelf. 

Ginna Moran loves to hear from readers so visit her online at www.GinnaMoran.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

Ginna Moran is currently hard at work on her next novel.

Monday, June 26, 2017

*Review* Black Book by Dylan Jones



Genre: Science Fiction
Published: December 25, 2013
Pages: 134

Synopsis

Sheriff Jack is a no-nonsense soldier from the future, trapped in the Wild West. He must find and protect the sacred Black Book before someone or something else does. The clock is already ticking for humankind, but for Jack the countdown has only just begun.

Review

I was hired to provide post-publication proofreading for this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection with the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book, but it ended up being a bit of a trip sort of along the lines of Stephen King's 11/22/63, but with a stronger science fiction storyline. But it was also heavily western. It was kind of a strange combination.

Now I'm a bit ashamed to admit this, but it took me an absurdly long time to figure out how a few of the characters fit into the story, and one of them really should have been obvious. I did finally get there, but it took a while. And trying to puzzle things out kept me thinking about the book even when I wasn't actually reading it.

This story is told from multiple perspectives, and it takes a while to see how the different stories and timelines connect (and there are a couple that are still not clear to me now). I'm also still not entirely sure exactly what is going on in the story (it's the first in a series, so I'm assuming more aspects will start to connect with the next book. But it's a puzzle that I want to figure out, and I really need to determine what the significance of the black book is. 

I do wish that the author had opted for a longer book rather than a series at this point (this book is on the short side), but I obviously don't know how involved this tale will end up being, so that wish may change. 

Overall I give Black Book 4.5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

Amazon

*Review* The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion


Genre: Contemporary Humor
Published: October 1st, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 297

Synopsis

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Review

I’ve seen this book often, but wasn’t really interested in actually reading. Then, earlier this year, I saw that my library had finally added the audiobook to overdrive. So I decided to put a hold on it and try it out. It took me awhile to get it, and I almost missed checking it out altogether because I didn’t notice the email. But I did get it and I started it as soon as I did.

Oh my goodness! I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But I absolutely loved this book! I ended up having to bring headphones to work with me, because I didn’t want to stop listening to it. I was hooked!

This is absolutely a nerdy romance. Although many people, in and out of the book, assume Don has Asperger’s - but this isn’t stated in the book I guess, if you want to, you can read this thinking Don has a case of high functioning Asperger’s. Or you can read it as a quirky romance. Or both even. Whatever floats your boat.

This is listed as a romantic comedy, but I didn’t really read it so much as a comedy. I found myself frustrated along with Don at the situations he found himself in because of his social awkwardness. It brought attention to how often people are not understanding or accepting of those of us who are different.

I really loved this book and the characters in it. I thought the wife project was a bad idea, but it was amusing to watching how that panned out. I especially liked how he kept saying how Rosie and him weren’t compatible. It reminded me of how often I would think and say things like that about my husband. We’ve been married almost 7 years now, by the way.

The worst part of this whole thing is that it took place in Australia (for most of it) and there wasn’t a single mention of a platypus. But I suppose I can forgive it. Just this once. But I’m putting a hold on the second book immediately, because I need to read more.

5 Platypires - Joood - Hooligan

Buy the Book


About the Author

Graeme Simsion is a former IT consultant and the author of two nonfiction books on database design who decided, at the age of fifty, to turn his hand to fiction. His first novel, The Rosie Project, was published in 2013 and translation rights have been sold in over thirty-five languages. Graeme lives in Australia with his wife, Anne, and their two children.
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Sunday, June 25, 2017

#MadLibMonday - Diving Under by Ginna Moran

When I was growing up, I loved Mad Libs. The excitement of sort of writing your own story really appealed to me. So I thought it would be fun to mesh that love with my love of books by turning blurbs into mad libs and letting you guys write your own book blurbs. 

For anyone that doesn't know how Mad Libs work, I will ask you for certain parts of speech or other specific things (i.e.: date, age, color, etc.) which you will write down. After you have completed your list, scroll down below the cover image to find the redacted blurb. Then read through it substituting your words where applicable. Try not to laugh. (Laughing is actually strongly encouraged, because this is supposed to be funny.)

Some brief definitions of the parts of speech.
Noun: Person, place, or thing.
Verb: Describes or indicates action.
Adverb: Modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb expressing manner, place, time, or degree (gently, here, now, very).
Adjective: Names an attribute of a noun (pretty, blue, large)
Pronoun: A word that can function as a noun (I, we, they)
Preposition: a word that combines with a noun or pronoun to form a phrase that usually acts as an adverb, adjective, or noun (on, after, for)

And with that, here we go.

1: Number
2: Noun
3: Verb
4: Adjective
5: Plural noun
6: Name
7: Verb ending in ing
8: Mythical creature
9: Noun
10: Preposition
11: Verb


Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: June 27, 2017
Pages: 278

(    1: Number   ) years after her older (    2: Noun   ) was swept out to sea, eighteen-year-old Ava Adair still (   3: Verb   ) off the ocean. It takes a promise of the (   4: Adjective   ) vacation of her life aboard the Ocean Jewel with her (   5: Plural noun   ) to get her even within reach of the waves. When she steps aboard the luxury yacht to sail the California coastline, the last thing she expects is to gain the attention of gorgeous (   6: Name   ) Stevens, the yacht’s deckhand, who becomes the perfect distraction against her fear of the open water.

On the yacht, a freak accident involving Carter reveals a secret he’s been (  7: Verb ending in ing  ) from Ava. She discovers that he’s a (  8: Mythical creature  ) and by saving her, he changed her life. One misstep could reveal the new (   9: Noun   ) they share and ruin the life on land she’s desperate to maintain. Torn between a future on land (  10: Preposition  ) her family and a new life at sea, Ava must decide—is her former life worth fighting for, or can she (   11: Verb   ) that she belongs to the ocean?

Now that you've had your fun, here's the real synopsis for Diving Under by Ginna Moran.

Eight years after her older sister was swept out to sea, eighteen-year-old Ava Adair still swears off the ocean. It takes a promise of the best vacation of her life aboard the Ocean Jewel with her friends to get her even within reach of the waves. When she steps aboard the luxury yacht to sail the California coastline, the last thing she expects is to gain the attention of gorgeous Carter Stevens, the yacht’s deckhand, who becomes the perfect distraction against her fear of the open water.

On the yacht, a freak accident involving Carter reveals a secret he’s been hiding from Ava. She discovers that he’s a merman and by saving her, he changed her life. One misstep could reveal the new secret they share and ruin the life on land she’s desperate to maintain. Torn between a future on land with her family and a new life at sea, Ava must decide—is her former life worth fighting for, or can she accept that she belongs to the ocean?

If you enjoyed this mad lib, comment with your list below (if you dare) so that the rest of us can get a chuckle out of it as well. - Katie 

#MadLibMonday - Creatura by Nely Cab

When I was growing up, I loved Mad Libs. The excitement of sort of writing your own story really appealed to me. So I thought it would be fun to mesh that love with my love of books by turning blurbs into mad libs and letting you guys write your own book blurbs.

For anyone that doesn't know how Mad Libs work, I will ask you for certain parts of speech or other specific things (i.e.: date, age, color, etc.) which you will write down. After you have completed your list, scroll down below the cover image to find the redacted blurb. Then read through it substituting your words where applicable. Try not to laugh. (Laughing is actually strongly encouraged, because this is supposed to be funny.)

Some brief definitions of the parts of speech.
Noun: Person, place, or thing.
Verb: Describes or indicates action.
Adverb: Modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb expressing manner, place, time, or degree (gently, here, now, very).
Adjective: Names an attribute of a noun (pretty, blue, large)
Pronoun: A word that can function as a noun (I, we, they)

And with that, here we go.

1: Verb ending in ing
2: Noun
3: Verb
4: Adjective
5: Noun
6: Noun
7: Verb
8: Adverb
9: Verb
10: State
11: Noun


Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: June 14, 2015
Pages: 300

When seventeen year-old Isis Martin is having trouble (  1:Verb ending in ing  ) due to perturbing dreams of a horrific growling (     2: Noun    ), she decides to (    3: Verb    ) her fear. But what Isis discovers is something other than a (    4: Adjective    ) entity.

The human-like (    5: Noun    ) offers Isis assurance that he is not a (    6: Noun    ) of her imagination. Unwilling to (    7: Verb    ) his avowal, Isis sets his words to contest by asking the entity to prove himself—a dare, he (    8: Adverb   ) welcomes.

It is in her dreams that Isis innocently (   9: Verb   ) upon the silent existence of the divine lineage of those that man has long forgotten.

In a quaint town, deep in south (   10: State   ), this story leads Isis onto the path of impermissible love and captivating life-changing truths. Isis Martin's (   11: Noun   ) is sure to leave any reader ravenous for more.

Now that you've had your fun, read the real blurb for Creatura by Nely Cab. 

When seventeen year-old Isis Martin is having trouble sleeping due to perturbing dreams of a horrific growling beast, she decides to confront her fear. But what Isis discovers is something other than a menacing entity.

The human-like creature offers Isis assurance that he is not a figment of her imagination. Unwilling to accept his avowal, Isis sets his words to contest by asking the entity to prove himself—a dare, he readily welcomes.

It is in her dreams that Isis innocently stumbles upon the silent existence of the divine lineage of those that man has long forgotten.

In a quaint town, deep in south Texas, this story leads Isis onto the path of impermissible love and captivating life-changing truths. Isis Martin's journey is sure to leave any reader ravenous for more.


If you enjoyed this mad lib, comment with your list below (if you dare) so the rest of us can get a chuckle out of it as well. - Katie 

#MadLibMonday - An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur


When I was growing up, I loved Mad Libs. The excitement of sort of writing your own story really appealed to me. So I thought it would be fun to mesh that love with my love of books by turning blurbs into mad libs and letting you guys write your own book blurbs. 

For anyone that doesn't know how Mad Libs work, I will ask you for certain parts of speech or other specific things (i.e.: date, age, color, etc.) which you will write down. After you have completed your list, scroll down below the cover image to find the redacted blurb. Then read through it substituting your words where applicable. Try not to laugh. (Laughing is actually strongly encouraged, because this is supposed to be funny.)

Some brief definitions of the parts of speech.
Noun: Person, place, or thing.
Verb: Describes or indicates action.
Adverb: Modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb expressing manner, place, time, or degree (gently, here, now, very).
Adjective: Names an attribute of a noun (pretty, blue, large)
Pronoun: A word that can function as a noun (I, we, they)

And with that, here we go.

1: Age
2: Noun
3: Plural Noun
4: Adjective
5: Proper Noun
6: Verb
7: Adjective
8: Pronoun
9: Noun
10: Verb
11: Adjective



Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: November 22, 2016
Pages: 550

September 11, 1973: (     1: Age     )-year-old Alejandro Penda watches from his apartment window as Santiago, Chile falls to a military coup, destroying his (     2: Noun     ) and his childhood. Arriving alone in America, he’s taken in by the (     3: Plural Noun    ): a prominent family in the town of Guelisten. Though burdened by (   4: Adjective   ) grief for his disappeared parents, he becomes fiercely loyal to the Larks, eventually marrying one of their daughters, Valerie.

September 11, 2001: Javier Landes watches from his apartment window as (    5: Proper Noun    ) falls to terrorism. As one of Manhattan’s top-paid male escorts, this professional lover has never lacked for company and is loyal only to himself. But in the wake of 9/11, Jav is named guardian for an orphaned nephew in Guelisten and must (     6: Verb     ) his carefully-guarded heart to pain he's long suppressed.

Alex, Valerie and Jav meet first in their twenties, with a sudden attraction each finds (    7: Adjective ) and compelling. When they meet again in their forties, (    8: Pronoun    ) discover(s) not only is their bond still strong, but their life experiences are strangely similar. All have been shaped by separate 9/11's, and their unfinished (    9: Noun     ) from the past will change everything they know about love, loyalty and friendship.

"Life has rules. You cannot come in the middle of the night and (     10: Verb     ) what we agreed isn't yours."

Across three decades and two continents, Suanne Laqueur's fifth novel explores the unpredictability of (     11: Adjective      ) attraction, how family ties are forged, torn and mended, and how love's downfall can turn to exaltation.

Now that your fun is through, here's the actual blurb for An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur.

September 11, 1973: Eleven-year-old Alejandro Penda watches from his apartment window as Santiago, Chile falls to a military coup, destroying his family and his childhood. Arriving alone in America, he’s taken in by the Larks: a prominent family in the town of Guelisten. Though burdened by unresolved grief for his disappeared parents, he becomes fiercely loyal to the Larks, eventually marrying one of their daughters, Valerie.

September 11, 2001: Javier Landes watches from his apartment window as New York City falls to terrorism. As one of Manhattan’s top-paid male escorts, this professional lover has never lacked for company and is loyal only to himself. But in the wake of 9/11, Jav is named guardian for an orphaned nephew in Guelisten and must open his carefully-guarded heart to pain he's long suppressed.

Alex, Valerie and Jav meet first in their twenties, with a sudden attraction each finds strange and compelling. When they meet again in their forties, they discover not only is their bond still strong, but their life experiences are strangely similar. All have been shaped by separate 9/11's, and their unfinished business from the past will change everything they know about love, loyalty and friendship.

"Life has rules. You cannot come in the middle of the night and take what we agreed isn't yours."

Across three decades and two continents, Suanne Laqueur's fifth novel explores the unpredictability of sexual attraction, how family ties are forged, torn and mended, and how love's downfall can turn to exaltation.

If you enjoyed this mad lib, comment with your list below (if you dare) so that the rest of us can get a chuckle out of it too. - Katie 

#SneakPeekSunday - Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Title: Fish in a Tree
Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Published: February 5, 2015
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Pages: 288
Goodreads

Synopsis

The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

Sneak Peek Review

I received a copy of this sneak peek from Nancy Paulsen Books through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

I still haven't learned my lesson about reading the book blurb before starting to read a sneak peek, but at least with Fish in a Tree, the things that the blurb would have told me were pretty easy to figure out just from the context clues. Granted, I wasn't sure if Ally was dyslexic or if she had some other less common issue with reading (she describes letters as swirling around on the page whereas it's my understanding that with dyslexia letters tend to just get flip flopped within words, but I only have a very basic understanding of dyslexia). While this is a problem that I believe would typically be figured out early on, because Ally's dad is in the military they move a lot, so Ally is always switching schools, and she slips through the cracks. The sneak peek says she's been in seven schools in seven years, so she's got to be in at least sixth grade (and I think that is the grade she's in based on the classroom dynamic). I'm astounded that a child could make it to sixth grade with dyslexia and no one would figure it out, but in her situation, I can accept that it happened. What fourth grade teacher gets a new kid mid school year and assumes that the behavior that seems like acting out is actually an inability to read? The kid doesn't have an IEP, nothing in her records indicates that she has problems with reading. Clearly she's just a problem child, right? 

Now I only just barely met Mr. Daniels in the sneak peek I read, but I like him (I'm supposed to like him I'm sure). Based on his reaction to Ally, and knowing that he discovers what is going on with her, I suspect that maybe he is also dyslexic, or that someone close to him growing up was. I just think that the fact that he came into the class mid-school year to take over while the class teacher is on maternity leave, and almost immediately suspects that there is more going on with Ally than she's letting on really indicates that he's pretty familiar with dyslexia and/or learning disabilities in general. And he's young and a substitute, so he likely doesn't have a whole lot of experience with teaching yet.   

I don't feel super compelled to finish reading this book. It's a middle grade book, so I feel like I can mostly fill in the major gaps in the rest of the story (I'm pretty good at predicting outcomes in middle grade books at this point in my life), I wouldn't be opposed to reading the rest of the book either though. However, I would absolutely buy this book for my children. Neither of them is dyslexic, but I think a book like this could likely help kids develop at least a little bit of empathy towards kids who learn differently than most, and since kids can sometimes be really mean, that would be a good thing. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

Lynda Mullaly Hunt (www.lyndamullalyhunt.com) has received many honors for her debut novel, One for the Murphys, which is on over twenty state award lists, including Bank Street’s 2013 Best Books of the Year. She’s a former teacher, and holds writers retreats for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children, impetuous beagle, and beagle-loathing cat.

Friday, June 23, 2017

*Stacking the Shelves* 24 June 2017


(Titles link to Amazon via Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is a feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Now, I already have a monthly post I do featuring the books I get in the mail (and it's a lot because I have a serious Goodreads First Reads giveaway addiction), and I'm going to try to start posting my monthly Read-A-Thon posts again too (even if none of the Platypires will be joining me), which will cover the books I receive through Netgalley. But I also go to my thrift store at least once a week, and often leave with a bag full of books. It's such a common occurrence that I'm known as The Book Lady to the frequent volunteers (and I suspect that they've started scheduling their $1 bag of books sales for Thursdays simply because that is the day I usually visit.) So my Stacking the Shelves posts are going to focus on my thrift store hauls, because this is my blog and I do what I want. 

On that note, here are the books I picked up this week.

Peterson Field Guide: Stars and Planets by Jay M. Pasachoff and Donald H. Menzel - This will be a great book to have if one of my children shows a fascination for astronomy. 
The Thief Taker by Janet Gleeson - Historical fiction, I think based on the cover. I like historical fiction, which is something you should know about me by now.
Eva Braun: Life with Hitler by Heike B. Gortemaker - I have always been fascinated by WWII and the Holocaust, so all I needed to see to know I wanted this book was Eva Braun. While I was perusing the rest of the books at the thrift store, another patron even asked if she could take a picture of this book so she could remember the title to look up (and presumably buy) later.
Sitting Bull by Peter and Connie Roop - This is a book from the In Their Own Words series, and I figure it could be an interesting way for the kids to learn about the life of Sitting Bull.
Sojourner Truth by Peter and Connie Roop - This is another book from the In Their Own Words series.
Lewis and Clark by George Sullivan - Yet another book from the In Their Own Words series. 
Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne - My daughter asked if we could get this Winnie the Pooh book "because it has paper in it." I don't let them buy board books at the thrift store anymore because we already have a lot and they can both read now. 
Diego Saves a Butterfly by Lara Bergen - This is a Go Diego Go beginner reader.
Toy to Toy by Tennant Redbank - A Toy Story 3 beginner reader.
The Kane Chronicles Survival Guide by Rick Riordan - I own at least one of the Kane Chronicles books, so I reckon this is a good addition to my collection.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Ultimate Guide by M.J. Knight (I guess) - I own several of the Percy Jackson books, so I needed this one.
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell - I fell in love with the cover of this book. I believe it's steampunk based on the cover. It just looks really intriguing to me.

And that's all the books that I picked up at my thrift store this week. This haul cost me a whopping $4.50 (almost broke the bank it did). 

What books did you add to your shelves this week? - Katie 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

*Review* Feels Like Falling by Jillian Ashe

Genre: Science Fiction
Published: June 15, 2017
Pages:

Synopsis

Kat lost everything when she was put in cryostasis. She woke up 500 years later than scheduled. Now she's part of a smuggling crew on the spaceship the Wolfegang where they take jobs that aren't always legal. Kat's just trying to blend in, but when the crew runs into some pirates she wonders exactly what she got herself into.

Review

I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection with the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review. 

So this is a stand-alone novella, and I feel like it does provide enough of the important information to get what's going on in this world, and having read future books in the series, I can say that there is nothing in this book that is necessary to know for future books. That being said, I would definitely recommend reading it before reading at least Far From Safe and Give Me Chaos if you are going to read those books too. This is not because you need to read it for those stories to make sense, but because you may spend an inordinate amount of your time reminding yourself that certain things haven't happened yet in Feels Like Falling if you read FFS and GMC first. I know, because it happened to me.

This novella is absolutely action packed. It feels like a lot happens in a very short amount of time, partially because the bulk of the story only spans like a day or so, but it doesn't seem like an unreasonable amount of action (if that makes sense.) All the action made the story move along at a brisk pace though, so I felt like I basically flew through the story, and I was hesitant to put it down because I needed to know what was going to happen next (even though I already knew the basic outcome). I just needed to know how they got there.

I would definitely recommend this book and series to people who like reading about strong female characters, although Kat hasn't really come into her own quite yet at this point (but she wakes up after being in cryostasis for 500 years and manages to do alright, so that's a bit of an achievement too.)

5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

My readers are what's important to me. Yes, I write for myself and the enjoyment of it, but I adore when a reader actually has a great time reading a story I slaved over. I don't write any particular genre, but I do stick to kick-ass female characters. I love writing about all types of differently strong women. My debut series is Young Adult Science Fiction. The first novella is free to see if you enjoy what I write.

I'm very involved with my fandoms, and love all things geeky and nerdy. I love connecting with my readers, so if you'd like to contact me just head over to my website :)

Jillian Ashe
jillianashe.com
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

*Review* The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Genre: Dystopian
Published: September 29, 2015
Pages: 308

Synopsis

Margaret Atwood puts the human heart to the ultimate test in an utterly brilliant new novel that is as visionary as The Handmaid's Tale and as richly imagined as The Blind Assassin.
     
Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around—and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their "civilian" homes.
     
At first, this doesn't seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one's head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan's life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.

Review

This is actually July’s book club book, but I’m pretending I’m on top of things and I’ve finished it a month early. It probably helps that I put a hold on it at the library and ended up getting it 2 weeks earlier than intended. I guess thank you to whomever had it right before me, and ended up finishing it in a day or two and returning it early.

First of all, when I read this I recognized the author but never thought to look up how I knew her. She’s the freaking writer of The Handmaid's Tale. I can be a bit slow at times. Anyway, holy shit balls. I just saw this was dystopian and assumed that meant it would be a YA. This is NOT a YA, and my life is a lie.

While reading this, I couldn’t help but think of Fallout. And that made me sad, because I messed up my leg and it really hurts to sit up. Which means I can’t actually play it, even though I totally bought the 4th one when it was half off last month. So this book brought up real life sadness.

But seriously, holy gawd damn.

I don’t even know how to word how I feel about this blasted thing. I know it was fascinating and compelling and hard to put down. It was much better than The Handmaid’s Tale, in my opinion. But it’s dystopian, and that means lots of sadness. And there is totally lots of it.

There’s also some amusing bits, mind you. Like… Elvis related amusing things. Also the ways of vindication of certain actions. But at the same time, the retaliation is also sad.

THIS BOOK IS JUST ENTIRELY REALLY VERY MUCH SADNESS.

And made me miss fallout 4.

Also it made me think about a lot of things. And I can’t wait to discuss this at book club next month.

4/5 Platypires - Joood - Hooligan

Buy the Book


About the Author

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.