Friday, April 29, 2016

It's a Race!

Yesterday while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I encountered a link to a list of 50 books every woman should read before she is 40 (Original Post). It's been a while since I encountered a list like that where I hadn't already missed the deadline (because I'm 32 and most of the lists I see refer to women in their 20's), so I shared it on my wall. I have already read 10 of the books on the list, so I have a pretty good start and almost 8 years to complete it, but Platypire Bob felt the need to challenge me to a race, to see which of us can complete the list first (and I'm a sucker for a challenge). I have a 2 book head start on Bob, but increasingly larger portions of my available reading time are being used for work (freelance proofreading), so I have a feeling Bob will overtake me soon (and then I'll never catch up.)

To simplify things for myself (and theoretically to help me keep track of my progress), here is the full list.


2) A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
3) Ain't I a Woman by bell hooks
5) Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
6) The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
7) Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
8) The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
9) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
10) Beloved by Toni Morrison
11) Bossypants by Tina Fey
12) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
13) A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
14) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
15) Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
16) The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
17) Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
18) Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
19) Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
20) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
22) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
24) Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
25) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
26) In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
27) Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
28) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
29) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
30) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
31) Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
32) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
33) The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
34) The Liars Club by Mary Karr
35) Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
36) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
37) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
38) Lucky by Alice Sebold
39) On Beauty by Zadie Smith
40) Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert
41) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
42) Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women's Book Collective
43) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
44) The Second Shift by Arlie Russell Hochschild
45) A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
46) them by Joyce Carol Oates
47) The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
48) The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
49) Wild by Cheryl Strayed
50) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

So there's the list. I feel like I've got a good start with owning several of the books that I haven't already read too (so I don't have to worry about finding them at the library or having the money to buy them to get started.) If you're interested in joining Bob and me in this challenge, I have linked to all of the books on Amazon, just click their titles. - Katie 

*Review* Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Published: April 26, 2016
Pages: 368


Bad Things Always Come In Threes…

As a thief, I'm good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls. 

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families--and kill every last Sinclair. What they don't know is that I'm on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I've got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side… 


I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This is the first book I've read in this series (it's book #3) and it mostly made sense. There were occasionally details I questioned, and it was clear that I'm missing some pretty intense backstory, but this story still mostly made sense to me in spite of the fact that I came to the series at such a late stage.

The biggest thing I had an issue with, was just figuring out how the world in this book worked, and I have every reason to believe that I don't fully get it because I didn't start this series at the beginning. It seems to be a mix between contemporary YA and fantasy (and since I actually check the genre when creating blog posts, I realize that's exactly what it is), but I kept having issues where I was just wondering "But why do they have those things?" For this reason, I think you will probably want to start the series at the beginning (or at least be aware that the book is urban fantasy.) 

While reading, I felt like the ultimate solution to the main problem was very obvious, like painfully obvious, but some of that may be because I don't know exactly how things work in this world. But when the characters came to the conclusion that I had, I really just felt like it was about time, with very little sense of vindication.

In spite of my issues, I still largely enjoyed the book, and actually want to read more books from the series (starting at the beginning this time). 

Overall I give Bright Blaze of Magic 3.5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Jen­nifer Estep is constantly prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.  Jennifer is the author of the Black Blade and Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. She writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books and is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series.  

Jennifer is a member of Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and other writing groups. Jennifer's books have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, Southern Living, and a variety of other publications. 

To learn more about her, visit You can also sign up for Jennifer's fan page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.

*Review* The Misunderstood Mister Yeti by John Hinterreiter

Genre: Children's Illustrated
Published: October 14, 2015
Pages: 38


There was an abominable snowman who was gravely misunderstood. His name was Mister a Yeti and his heart was filled with good. Meet Mister Yeti. He's a caring and gentle creature who looks like a scary beast. He only wished others could see his heart or feel his kindness in the least. In "The Misunderstood Mister Yeti," this abominable snowman searches for friendship but realizes that due to his fearsome looks friends are very hard to find. Mister Yeti's story will captivate kids, and adults who are kids at heart, with clever rhymes, vibrant pictures, and a woven message of accepting and respecting the differences in others.


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review.

My seven year old read most of this book to me, I took over for the last few pages. There were several words he stumbled over the pronunciations of, which slowed his reading down some. Basically, if you have a weaker reader like I do, they will struggle some with this book, but it provides room for learning.

The illustrations in this book made me think of Southpark for some reason and I'm really not sure why. They were clear and precise, and very blue and white, but that's to be expected for a story of this nature. The story was cute, but the cadence and rhymes were a little hard to find at times.

My seven year old said the book was good and he liked when the yeti found his friend. He didn't like when the yeti didn't have a friend.

My four year old also thought the book was good and liked when the yeti brought the man to the town and didn't like when he was stuck in the snow. She has also made me read this book to her three nights in a row before bedtime.

Overall I give The Misunderstood Mister Yeti 4.5 out of 5 stars because my kids liked it, but I had issues with the cadence and rhymes at times. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Working full time as a police officer the author, John Hinterreiter, often seeks outside opportunities to unleash his creativity. John has written and illustrated two children's books, Hugs For Bugs and The Misunderstood Mister Yeti, each of which displays his rhyming and rhythmic storytelling style. John and his wife Keri are living the dream in colorful Colorado.

*Review* Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Genre: Chick Lit
Published: December 31st 2012
Pages: 369


Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.


I listened to the audiobook version of this book because that was the only way I would finish it in time for my book club meeting this month. It took me a while to get used to the British accents (which make perfect sense for the story), but once I did, I quite enjoyed the narration. The opposite gender voices weren't great, but they also weren't awful, and the voices were decently distinct.

My initial reaction to this book as posted on Goodreads was "Go to Hell Jojo Moyes" and I stand by that even now. She ripped my freakin' heart out and bludgeoned it with a dull spoon, then threw it into the Thames.

This book did a masterful job of putting me into Louisa's shoes for the whole book, but also did a great job of showing me Will's point of view so that I could understand his motivations as well.

Overall I give Me Before You 5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

Moyes' novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children. 
Bio from Goodreads.

*Review* The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: April 19, 2016
Pages: 336


The first meeting between Antonio and Olivia at the Paradise Ballroom is brief, but electric.

Years later, on the dawn of World War II, when struggling Italian singer Antonio meets the wife of his wealthy new patron, he recognizes her instantly: it is Olivia, the captivating dance hostess he once encountered in the seedy Paradise Ballroom. Olivia fears Antonio will betray the secrets of her past, but little by little they are drawn together, outsiders in a glittering world to which they do not belong. At last, with conflict looming across Europe, the attraction between them becomes impossible to resist--but when Italy declares war on England, the impact threatens to separate them forever.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is a story of forbidden love and family loyalties amid the most devastating war in human history.


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

I have been on a bit of a WWII kick lately in my reading, but it has been much more diverse than my childhood WWII binge reading ever was. The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom doesn't really discuss the war much, instead it is largely set in the time leading up to it and immediately after it. It is also largely told from the perspective of Italians living in London, which is a new WWII perspective for me. 

While reading, I couldn't help noticing parallels between the British opinions on the European refugees and the opinions of some Americans about the current Syrian refugees. There were a lot of times while reading when I felt like I was seeing scenarios that I see being played out in my own country today.

I enjoyed this new perspective of an otherwise fairly familiar event. Obviously there are endless personal perspectives available for the events of WWII, but I do typically find myself reading about the "good guys" rather than the "enemy" even though some of the Italians were not fascists themselves.

In the end, the book left me with some questions, but overall it was satisfying. The questions that I still have are not necessarily pertinent to the story, just things for me to continue to wonder about.

Overall I give The Girl From the Paradise Ballroom 4 out of 5 stars because it was unique and interesting. - Katie 

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About the Author

ALISON LOVE's short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and in 2013 her story Sophie Stops the Clock was shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize. Alison has worked in the theater, television, and public relations. The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is her American fiction debut.

*Review* Miles of Smiles by Karen Kaufman Orloff

Genre: Children's Illustrated
Published: April 5, 2016
Pages: 32


When someone smiles, who knows where it goes? Baby smiles at Mommy, Mom keeps it for a while . . . and then passes it on. As the smile begins its joyful journey—moving from a first-grade class to a soccer team, from Gran to a garbage man, even to a puppy—it spreads happiness throughout the community, bringing everyone together. A sunny picture book guaranteed to make kids SMILE!


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review. 

I had my seven year old read this book to me and it was a smooth read for him. He was even able to mostly read it in the proper cadence, which indicates to me that the words were mostly simple and common, and easily understandable.

I thought the story was cute and the illustrations were vibrant, but not distracting. My son thought it was a good book and liked it when everyone smiled.

I plan on using it to work on recognizing rhyming words with my son and daughter in the near future.

Overall I give Miles of Smiles 5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

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About the Author

Karen Kaufman Orloff is the author of nine books for children, including the popular I Wanna series, illustrated by David Catrow (Putnam); Talk, Oscar, Please!, illustrated by Tim Bowers; and If Mom Had Three Arms, illustrated by Pete Whitehead (both Sterling). Karen divides her time between Dutchess County, NY, and eastern PA. Visit her online at
Luciano Lozano has worked as a freelance illustrator for many years, creating art for newspapers and magazines. He is the illustrator of several books for young readers, including Operation Alphabet, by Al MacCuish (Thames & Hudson), and I (Don’t) Like Snakes, by Nicola Davies (Candlewick). Luciano lives in Barcelona, Spain. Visit him online at

*Review* Holiday's with the Horde by D.M. Earl

Genre: Romance
Published: April 21, 2016
Pages: 108


Holidays with the Horde

Now that your holidays are over, and all the decorations are put safely away, let’s take a look at how the Horde spent their holidays.

Join Fern and Gabriel for Thanksgiving as they host a feast for the Horde and their friends. The Murphy’s table holds not only the Horde, but bikers, friends, and the biggest blessing in their lives the children. But be prepared. Not everyone is grateful for what they have.

Wolf opens his home and heart for Christmas Eve dinner, showing a side of himself that up until now, he has kept hidden. Once again, the Horde and friends come together. Let’s see what, or more importantly, who, meets under the mistletoe for that Christmas Eve kiss.


Christmas Day finds everyone at Des’ house, to experience their holiday in the woods. As everyone is enjoying each other’s company, who should appear with a sled led by deer? That’s right, it’s Santa Claus, with a bag full of gifts for everyone. 

Finally, on New Year’s Eve, Cadence makes one of Trinity’s dreams come true. With stars in the sky, and snow on the ground, celebrate with the Horde, as Cadence once again wears his heart on his sleeve. 

Enjoy this Ride the Horde calls Life, and see what is coming next for the Wheels & Hogs family.


I was hired to proofread this book. The author was not aware that I would be reviewing it afterwards and this review was not part of our agreement. I simply review every book I read. If you feel that my connection to the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

For how short this book is, it spans a somewhat long time (really only a couple of months, but it feels really long). It's mostly a feel good story without much conflict, and most of the drama is just in the characters' heads. We learn some things about a few members of the group (although these may be things that were divulged in previous books that I haven't read), but it's really still mostly just a feel good story.

I personally had a hard time relating to the characters, but that's just because I'm a very different type of person than they are. For them, friends and family are very important and their friends basically are family. I could basically be a hermit as long as I had access to the internet and a grocery store, and there are days when I would happily leave my family to do just that.

Overall I give Holiday's with the Horde 3.5 out of 5 stars because it was good, but had minimal conflict and I had trouble relating. - Katie 

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About the Author

D. M. Earl lives in Northwest Indiana. She is an avid reader and will devour a book usually in a day. She reads anything from romance, contemporary, erotica and dark reads. Loves to rider her Harley next to her hubby. Also D.M. likes being outdoors either working in her veggie or flower gardens or just hanging with her 10 four legged fur "kids."

Connelly's Horde is her first published work released July 3, 2014. This is a Novella in her series Wheels & Hogs. Cadence Reflection Book 2 released on November 21, 2014. Gabriel's Treasure Book 3 in the series released on July 6, 2015. A Holiday Horde book will be Book 4 releasing in Winter of 2016 setting up the next couple of Horde books in 2016. 

Also D.M. started a second series, The Journals Trilogy which is filled with suspense and is a much darker read. Anguish #One released on May 11, 2015. Vengeance # Two in The Journals Trilogy released on November 20, 2015. The Journals #Three will release Winter of 2016.. 

Please visit her: 
Author Facebook Page

Enjoy this Ride we call Life!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

*Joood's Reviews* Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

You may or may not know this already, but Joood - Hooligan of Platypire Reviews is notoriously bad at writing reviews after she finishes reading books. I'm serious, her to be reviewed list is almost as long as my Platypire Read-A-Thon list, and that thing is monstrous. So after much cajoling on Joood's part, I have decided to help her out and once a week I'm going to write one of her reviews for her because I'm a good friend like that, and there is no way this could possibly go wrong. I will be writing the reviews as if I actually am Joood.

For this edition of Joood's Reviews, I've chosen Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters.

Genre: YA/LGBT+ Romance
Published: June 10, 2014
Pages: 256


When Alix's charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee's room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee's cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: "Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you."

Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life--secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she's been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee's phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.

Brought together by Swanee's lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they'd thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to--but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too?

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a pastrami sandwich on rye with extra Miracle Whip (which is basically the nectar of the gods).

I really related to Alix in this story. My friend, Bekah, who is basically like my girlfriend (we do pretty much everything together and she has seen me without pants) often lies to me, and her lies hurt me so much. One time, she told me that Justin Bieber was opening for Nickelback when they were playing in Houston, so I bought tickets, but he wasn't there and I had to sit through an entire Nickelback concert because I'd bought the tickets and didn't want to waste them. Another time, we were going out to dinner, she said we were going to Olive Garden so that I could indulge in all-you-can-eat chicken gnocchi soup, but she took me to Logan's Roadhouse instead. Their loaded potato soup is okay, but nowhere near as good as the chicken gnocchi soup at Olive Garden (and NOT all-you-can-eat!)

I've been keeping a secret from her too though. Once, she baked me a pineapple upside down cake, but her cooking is so bad that I told her I'm allergic to pineapple just so I wouldn't have to eat it. I'm ashamed of myself for lying to her, but I can't tell her the truth without hurting her feelings even more. 

3.5 Platypires. - Joood - Hooligan

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About the Author

For the last 20+ years, I've been writing books for young readers. My YA novel, Luna, the story of a transgender teen beginning her transition from male to female, was a National Book Award finalist and an American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. (Thank you award committee members.) My other books about gender queer youth include Keeping You a Secret, Far from Xanadu (retitled, Pretend You Love Me), Between Mom and Jo, grl2grl: short fictions, Rage: A Love Story, She Loves You, She Loves You Not..., It's Our Prom (So Deal With It), and my newest book scheduled for 2014, The Double Life of Swanee Durbin. Also check out my book about bullycide, By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead.

I'm a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, PEN America, the Authors Guild, and the Colorado Authors' League. I live with my partner, Sherri Leggett, in Lakewood, Colorado. (We're celebrating our 38th anniversary this year.

More information about me and my books can be found on my Web site:

Alternate Reviews

If you would like to read some legitimate reviews of Lies My Girlfriend Told Me, follow any of the links below. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

*Deja Revu #9*

Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.













Woman's Fiction