Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Touring Local: March 2015

I didn't really do much in February, so I skipped a Touring Local feature for that month. However, I had a couple things that I did in March that I thought I would share with you all!

One of my local libraries had a lady come in to teach us all about making soy candles. I went with my mom and we both made a candle. Mine is the blue and the scent is cotton. The white is my mom's and her scent is vanilla. We still need to cut the wicks and light these, but just smelling them as they were hardening was so heavenly. It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot of great things about how soy candles are better than store-bought ones in terms of the smell and the soot.

The Breakfast Club is celebrating its 30th anniversary and in honor of that, theaters across the United States are showing the movie. I love this film and I really wanted to see it on a big screen, so I was excited when a friend of mine asked me to go. There was a short "look back" type of video before the film where actors from the movie and some other famous fans reminisced on this movie and John Hughes. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed seeing this classic 80's movie in the movie theaters, since I was not born when it was originally released.

What fun things did you do this March?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Splintered by A.G. Howard + Song Pick

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Review:  For my YA Literature Course, we had to choose a fairy-tale retelling that was published in the last couple of years, so I decided to check out Splintered since I had been curious about it for awhile. I've read mixed reviews these last couple years, but I had a feeling that I would enjoy this darker side of Wonderland, and I was right. I have not read the original Alice in Wonderland book but I do have some idea about what occurs, so it was exciting to see how Howard mixed things up, making Wonderland a dark, sometimes sinister place.

While I did enjoy this book, it wasn't without its faults - for me at least. Some of the tests that Alyssa deals with seem all too easy to pass, though I suppose you could say there is a reason for that. Regardless, other tasks and adventures Alyssa deals with are more difficult and dark, so I suppose it makes up for it in the end. Second, there is the whole "love triangle" idea. I'm always wary about book summaries that talk about two boys, but this one was done fairly well. Jeb is someone Alyssa has known her whole life, a good friend who she has a secret crush on. As for Morpheus, there is more to him than it first appears and you don't really learn all of his secrets until the end of the book. However, I think the two guys were needed to showcase the opposite sides of Alyssa's personality, as well as help her though these tests. Basically, I wouldn't let the idea of a love triangle deter you from reading this book.

In general, I thought Splintered was a fun read. It's something you can't help but try and imagine on a big screen with all of the fun details. I also really love the cover and the fact that the print is purple - though the more you read, the more it seems black, so it's not distracting.

Song Pick:

My song choice for Splintered is "Alice" by Avril Lavigne. This song was actually on the soundtrack for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, but I think it suits Alyssa very well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: A boy’s search for his father becomes a desperate journey to unlock a secret past. But the past must not be remembered if the boy is to survive. As he searches for the truth that hovers at the edge of his mind, the boy—and readers—arrive at a shattering conclusion.

Review: I Am the Cheese is a difficult book to review, as I don't want to give anything away. Let's just say that I read this when I was younger and really loved it, so I decided to re-read it for my YA Literature course. We had to pick a Dystopia novel from a list and this was on there. I couldn't remember a lot of the details, so it was almost like reading the novel again. I really loved it the second time too, and I never would have thought "this is dystopia" if it weren't for my class. It's not as obvious as a lot of dystopia novels these days, but I think that makes it more interesting for the reader, and even perhaps a bit more frightening.

The basics of this book is that Adam Farmer is riding his bike from Massachusetts to Vermont to visit his father in the hospital. The book goes back and forth between his journey and a recorded conversation between A and T. A is trying to remember details of his past and fill in the blanks, but it's almost as if his subconscious doesn't want him to know certain details. I know this sounds fairly vague, but it's best to go in with as little knowledge or expectations as possible. I love the official summary of this book because it's short enough to not give away pertinent details, but it also has enough information to make you curious and want to know about this boy and the search for his father.

I Am the Cheese is a quick, fascinating read. I definitely recommend!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Littlest Bunny in Cincinnati: An Easter Adventure

The Littlest Bunny in Cincinnati: An Easter Adventure

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: It's Easter morning, and the littlest bunny has a big secret: he's actually the Easter Bunny! He has a lot of work to do! Join him as he hides eggs high and low, with a final stop at your house!

Review: This is such a cute book and perfect for all boys and girls across the United States...because Cincinnati isn't the only city who has a book. There are even books about entire states. I decided to do Cincinnati because I live right next to the city and it's fun to see all of the little things throughout that pertain to my city like a Bengals flag on the children's bunk bed and illustrations of Great American Ball Park and even the Cincinnati Public Library. This is something that my mom really enjoyed too, when she read the book with my three year-old niece. It's a book that the whole family can truly enjoy.

The actual story is really sweet and I enjoyed that each page rhymed, making it a fun read-aloud book. The littlest bunny is secretly the Easter bunny and he sneaks out to deliver all the eggs across Cincinnati. What makes the book even more unique to each place is that various places within Cincinnati are mentioned (like Oakley, Mt. Adams, etc.) - so this would be another unique feature for whichever book you buy. 

As for the little ones, my niece really loved the bright pictures and the page full of buildings seemed to excite her a great deal. She apparently went through the book a few times, just looking at the pictures and enjoying. At the end of the book there is even instructions about a hunt to find all the Easter eggs in the book. My mom went back through the book and my niece counted all the eggs, all the way up to 20! Each egg has a number so it's easy to keep track...and there are pictures with the answers in the back of the book if your little one needs help!

You can check Sourcebooks website to see where else the Littlest Bunny visits. The collection includes places like Florida, Iowa, Tampa Bay, and more!

Definitely grab yourself a copy and enjoy this adorable book Easter day!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bittersweet by Kimberly Loth + Excerpt

Bittersweet by Kimberly Loth

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from publisher/netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Every Sunday Savannah Ray gets an email from her dead dad. She doesn’t know how the emails work but she’s finally ready to start looking for answers. To find those answers she has to go to the one place she swore she’d never set foot in after he died—Haunted Valley, the amusement park. Once there and on the hunt for answers she is distracted by the charming Dallas and falls hard for him. When the answers she finds aren’t what she expected and Dallas betrays her, Savannah must make a choice—succumb to the insanity that destroyed her father or find the strength to rise above it.

Review: One of the things that I found interesting about Bittersweet is that there are all these little, and even bigger, mysteries throughout. That's not to say you are left wanting answers or that you never know what's going on. It was nice to not know everything that was happening and to be able to take the ride with Savannah. There are secrets she's keeping, secrets her family is keeping, and even secrets that Dallas, her new crush, is keeping. Like I said, some are small...but others are big and could overpower Savannah and her loose grip on reality.

Savannah is a girl who has been betrayed by the people closest to her. She's still haunted by her dad's death and can't seem to pull herself out of her grief. It's difficult to imagine her situation, but the book was never too heavy. There are fun, lighthearted moments to break up the pain and anger. The basics of the story is that Savannah is sent to live with her Uncle Grant over the summer before senior year and to work at an amusement park called Haunted Valley, where he is a manager. Amusement parks hold a lot of good memories for Savannah, but that was when she was younger, so it's difficult to get adjusted to working in one when she really just wants to run in the opposite direction. Dealing with some rough co-works and rude customers just adds to the start of Savannah's summer.

Things get better though. She makes some friends, especially with Dallas, who has known her uncle for years. He's 22, and she's 18, but the age difference isn't that big of a deal when they have both dealt with some heavy things. But Dallas is hiding a secret, and his is one of the bigger reveals in the book. It's a make it or break it kind of moment for the two of them. I won't say anything else, but it's not what I expected. I think it was dealt with in a realistic fashion, even if the characters themselves didn't always behave that well.

On a random note, I really liked the added fact that Savannah has hearing aids and does not hear well without them. It comes up a lot throughout the book because she works in an amusement park with water rides, and she lives close to a lake that Dallas loves to be on. It made Savannah seem more real, plus it added a physical barrier between her and some of the mean co-workers who don't understand the situation.

Bittersweet is just what the titles says - bitter, yet sweet. Savannah loves fine, European chocolate, and she's always discussing the need to savor the flavors, which is a great metaphor for life itself. When life gives you sweetness, take the time to truly enjoy it.

And now...an excerpt:

We met at Cracker Barrel, which was just mom indulging me. My favorite meal in the whole world was biscuits and gravy from Cracker Barrel. If I could I’d subsist on chocolate alone, but I tried that right after Dad died and nearly ended up in the hospital. 
“Grant just texted me that he already has a table. We’ll eat and then you two need to get on the road,” Mom said.
I recognized him immediately even though I’d only met him twice before, once at a family reunion and then again at the funeral. He had the same dark hair and eyes my dad had. Except skinnier. Grant gave my mom an awkward hug and shook Dave’s hand. They all smiled at each other. I sat down before he could touch me at all. 
He tugged at his collar and smiled at me. It wasn’t a real smile, it was the kind of smile you gave when you felt like you were supposed to smile but didn’t really want to.
“So, Savannah, how was your school year?”
“Oh, fine. I got suspended, barely passed my classes since I wasn’t allowed to take the finals, and got dumped by my boyfriend.”
This was a test. If he were like my dad, he’d say something funny to lighten the mood. Dad hated anything serious. 
Grant frowned and fidgeted with the menu. “I’m sorry to hear that. I hope this summer will be better for you.”
Fat chance of that. I rolled my eyes. He seemed so unsure of himself. Which was odd, because Dad was always the life of the party and completely in control of social situations. This aspect of him I didn’t inherit. Well, I did. I used to have it, but then he died and I threw it away.
They made small talk until the food arrived. Grant didn’t try addressing me again. Probably didn’t want me to tell him how horrible my life was. Just as the food arrived I hiccupped. Damn. My mother glared at me and Teddy giggled.
Hiccups are part of the family curse. Through my dad’s side, of course. We didn’t just hiccup. We made a loud and obnoxious noise that was more like a crow cawing. There was no way to get rid of them, I just had to wait them out. My mother always had new suggestions on how to stop them and they never worked. My hiccups were unbelievably embarrassing in class, but mostly they just reminded me that I’d inherited a curse that killed my great-grandfather during the Depression, my grandfather after Vietnam, and most recently my dad. There were other signs of the curse, but the first was always the hiccups. When I was little I thought the whole thing was about the hiccups, that my grandfathers died of hiccups. It wasn’t until a few years before my dad finally died from the wretched curse that he tried to convince me that hiccups had nothing to do with it. Sometimes, I still thought the hiccups were going to kill me.
“Damn curse,” I muttered.
Grant put his fork down. “Not you too.”
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“Your Dad was always going on about the curse. It doesn’t exist. He made it up as a party story to deflect attention off of his hiccups.”
“That doesn’t make it any less real. He’s dead, isn’t he?” I met his eyes. Those tiny almost-black eyes that were just like Dad’s. 
“From a disease, not a curse.” 
“Disease, curse, same thing.” 
He put his fork down and crossed his arms. “It is not the same thing, if your Dad had recognized it as a disease then he would not be dead.”
I opened my mouth to argue, but my mother cleared her throat. Grant and I looked at her and then turned our attention back to food.
The rest of dinner was tense and silent. Except for Teddy jabbering on about Thomas the Train. To try to distract myself I listened to him intently. Half way through dinner, Grant looked at me but spoke to my mother.
“Savannah will have orientation on Tuesday. She’ll have to spend tomorrow getting up to dress code.”
My head jerked up and I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly. 
“I’m sorry, what?” I asked.
“Your nails can’t be black. You can paint them a light pink, but no black or bright colors. You’ll have to remove the ring in your eyebrow.” I dropped my fork. This would not do at all.
“What about brown, can I paint them brown?” I wanted to continue, to explain that my nails were not black at all, but a dark brown of the richest chocolate. The kind that comes from Argentina. They couldn’t be black, because I threw the black nail polish away after Candie betrayed me and I shaved all the hair off my head. Before I could finish, he shook his head and took a bite of his omelet. I glared at my mom. 
“You didn’t tell me they were going to make me change the way I look.”
She shrugged. “I didn’t know. But you’ll do it.”
“I can’t remove my eyebrow ring, it will close up.” My palms began to sweat. This was not the way I’d envisioned my summer. Pretending to be someone else. I was eighteen and they weren’t going to boss me around.
Grant scowled. 
“If you want a job you will,” he held my gaze, which was hard because it was like staring straight into my father’s eyes. 
“I don’t want a job anyway.” I shoved a biscuit in my mouth, emptying my plate, and waited for him to retort. He just looked at my mother and sighed. Perhaps he thought he was getting a docile little girl that would do whatever he wanted. The eyebrow ring would stay. I’d see to that.
In the end they decided I could put a clear stud in it. 
Win-win. Not.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Theming Thursday: Easter Madness

Hope everyone had a great St. Patrick's Day. Did you try anything out from last week? With Easter coming up in a few weeks, I figured it was time to share some fun ideas!

Theming Thursday: Easter Madness

Crafts Unleashed shared some cute Sprinkle Easter Egg Ornaments. These would make a great decoration, or as the blog says, pair it with some sugar cookies and icing and it's a nice gift!

Gluesticks shared a really cute Easter Egg Lunch Hunt idea- you fill plastic eggs with all sorts of treats for a lunch from crackers to fruit to candy to little sandwiches. Then you hide the eggs and your children find them before enjoying their fun lunch! This would be great for the weekend or even homeschooled kids.

Today's Creative Blog shares a fun recipe for Bird's Nest NO BAKE Easter Cookies. Don't they just look yummy?

View from the Fridge shares how to make these really cute Washcloth Bunnies. Great craft for your slightly older children.

Made to be a Momma shared how to make some Easter Bunny Playdough Carrots. She's going to use hers as party favors!

What would you like to see next time? Any theme ideas?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson + Make it a Gift

Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson

Review by Lauren

source: publisher/netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.

As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.

But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.

Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.

Review:  Trust the Focus was a really enjoyable book about friends, Justin and Landry. Justin's dad has passed away and in honor of him, he plans a road trip where he can take pictures at all the places his dad had visited for a calendar he shot. Traveling with him is his best friend Landry, who he feels a bit disconnected from. The two of them are growing up and apart, even though Justin has been hiding the huge secret that not only is he gay too, he's also in love with Landry. He's been so used to hiding his secret that he's not sure how to be honest with himself, let alone anyone else.

Justin's mother is planning to run for the Senate and when Justin is finished with his road trip, he is expected to stand by his mom's side and help her win. The only problem is that his mom is a very conservative candidate and Justin is sure if he comes out, he'll ruin his mom's career. It's obvious from the beginning that Justin has a lot he's dealing with, but it's nice to get to know Landry through the book and realize that he's hiding his own secrets too.

Landry is talkative and fun, but he's also sensitive. Justin is a good friend, with a wonderful eye for detail, but he keeps things hidden so much that he often explodes in anger. These two guys don't seem to work, but you know when everything is out and in the open, that it can be okay. And you definitely want things to work out for these two. Who doesn't like a friends to lovers story? Starting out as friends offers so much back story and emotion to the overall novel that insta-love tries to achieve and almost always fails at.

I'm definitely curious to read more by this author in the future!

Make it a Gift

I haven't had one of these in my reviews in awhile, so in case you don't know, Make it a Gift is where I think of an item that suits the novel. This way, you can buy a copy of this book and the item and voila, you've made it a gift!

Throughout Trust the Focus, Justin is taking photos of the same locations his dad did, except this time, he places his dad's urn in the photo. This idea made me think of the book Dear Photograph where people hold an old photo over the location it was taken, so it ends up showing the old and the new together. You can get Dear Photograph on Amazon now.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Review by Lauren

source: library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal."

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Review: This novel was one I chose to read for my YA literature class. We had to focus on a title that was historical fiction, and when I read the summary of this book, I had a feeling I would really like it. I was right. This book isn't an easy read and sometimes you really, really dislike the things that people say and do, but it's an important story because these things happened.

It's 1959 Virginia and Sarah is a black girl entering her senior year at Jefferson High, alongside nine other students from her old school. These kids were chosen because they passed tests and showed they were "smart enough" to attend a white school. Jefferson did what it could to keep the school segregated, but now it's time to see what this new law will do.

Sarah and the other new students have it rough. They are yelled at, shoved in the halls, and threatened. Sarah has never been called such hateful names in her life, and she can't stand it, but she's desperate to ignore them as much as she can and protect her sister in whatever way possible.

As for Linda, her dad is vocally against integration and Linda parrots back his words, hoping that it will make him love her more. Linda's not what she seems though. She finds herself sticking up for the new kids in small ways; just enough so she won't be targeted like they are.

Lies We Tell Ourselves goes back and forth between Sarah and Linda, but in sections, so Sarah gets a section of chapters and then Linda, etc. I thought this worked well instead of back and forth each chapter. We start with Sarah and her situation and then we get to Linda and we learn what makes her tick and why she does the things she does, says the things she says.

As the book progresses, Sarah and Linda begin to develop feelings for one another and these are ones that go beyond simple friendship. This makes their burgeoning understanding even more difficult and it's fascinating to see how their senior year plays out.

Definitely recommended!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Look Back at Blog World (7)

A Look Back at Blog World (7)

Happy Pi Day everyone! Hope you're all having a nice weekend. This Look Back won't be too long, but enjoy!

My So-Called Chaos shared a review of her January Fandom of the Month box - the theme was Star Wars. I'm not a huge fan of jewelry, but I want to sign up for this because it's all sorts of awesome. You can sign up here.

Always Blabbing is co-hosting a giveaway for a Girl Scout Cookie scented candle from Yankee Candle. I really love the chocolate peanut butter cookies, but candle wise, I think Thin Mint might be fun!

Ta da! The cover has been revealed for the fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles...Winter. Isn't it amazing? I really love how the apple seems to be glowing. The cover was posted on USA Today and you can visit that link to read an excerpt too. Winter goes on sale November 10, 2015!!

Gypsy Heart and Soul shares how to make a Watermelon Pizza. I have already pinned this for the summer time. Yum!!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Theming Thursday: St. Patrick's Day

Welcome back to Theming Thursday! I haven't done one of these in awhile, but I figured it was about time to bring it into 2015. For those that are newer to the blog, Theming Thursday is a feature I created where I share a specific theme on Thursday - a lot of the time these are party themes and I share things I found online that would suit the theme. That's not always the case though...

Theming Thursday: St. Patrick's Day Fun!
Btw: St. Patrick's Day is March 17

Juggling Act Mama shares a recipe on how to make a Minty Shamrock Cheeseball

Bitz and Giggles shares a fun Grasshopper Ice Cream Drink

East Coast Mommy shares free printables to make your own Leprechaun Paper Dolls. Great for parents and teachers!

Tastefully Frugal for Crafting Chicks shared a free St. Patrick's Day Crossword Puzzle (answer sheet included).


Do you do anything fun for St. Patrick's Day?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Lock and Mori

Waiting on Wednesday was created by Breaking the Spine

Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty
Out: September 15, 2015 

Official Summary: FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. The police have no leads.

FACT: Miss James “Mori” Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.

FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.

FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule—they must share every clue with each other—Mori is keeping secrets.

OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can’t trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

Why I Want to Read: I'm a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and I really love when people take the stories and change them around to suit more modern times, like BBC Sherlock and even the American TV show Elementary. The same can also be said for novels, so when I came across this book, I knew I had to check it out. I also really like that it's Holmes and Moriarty, when it's usually Holmes and Watson. This is also the first book in this series (I don't know how many books in all...) so I really hope I love it, so I'll have even more to read! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is--and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Review: Days of Blood and Starlight is the sequel to the wonderful Daughter of Smoke and Bone. This time around, the stakes are a lot higher and there is more suspense and danger. While Days of Blood and Starlight might be a long book, it never feels like it. The pages fly by and you find yourself immersed in this world that Karou is finally starting to understand.

I don't want to give too much away if you haven't read the first book, so I'll just say that Daughter of Smoke and Bone revealed a lot of secrets, both good and bad, and Days of Blood and Starlight is the aftermath of that. Karou is trying to save an entire race, and she's not sure she can ever trust Akiva again. It's difficult to watch both of them suffer, unsure about the other, but trying to hold on to hope. I loved that the book focuses on different points of views, all in third person. It's mostly Karou and Akiva, but not always, and this really helps shape the entire story.

I loved that Karou's friend Zuzana and her boyfriend, Mik, had a large part in this book. It would have been easy to leave these two out of the story, but they mean a lot to Karou, and it's nice to see how they are able to find ways to help her through this. It might be Karou's "destiny" to make things right, but she's not alone.

As I write this, I'm already a little way's into Dreams of Gods and Monsters, so I'm excited to see how it all ends!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Look Back at Blog World (6)

A Look Back at Blog World (6)

I wanted to update you on Touring Local- I didn't have much going on last month, so there won't be a post for February. I hope to have something up for March next month though!

At any rate...

Interesting Posts (no photos belong to me)

The Chic Country Girl shares how to make your very own Book Necklace

Simple as That shares a Week Long Birthday Celebration

Mail4Rosey shares their review of the subscription service Candy Club. Candy every month? Yes please!

Simply Stacie shares what to include in a Vehicle Emergency Kit. With a lot of us dealing with rain and snow, now is a good time to read this post!

The Book Vixen shares a meme called Thursday Thirteen where you pick a theme and write 13 different answers. This post is about "Classic Books I Should Read But Never Will."


That's it for this week! If you have a question, interesting post, or something else you want me to share next time, let me know!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School by Jen Calonita

Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School by Jen Calonita

Review by Lauren

Source: netgalley/publisher; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Gilly wouldn't call herself wicked, exactly...but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run-down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly's a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself).

Until she gets caught.

Gilly's sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there's more to this school than its heroic mission. There's a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?

Review: Jen Calonita is a young adult author that my sister has read and loved for awhile now, but I had never checked anything by her out before. Therefore, my first foray into her work is with this new middle grade series about the world of Enchantasia. Gilly is a fierce, young girl who is desperate to keep her family happy and safe.

With five younger siblings, and parents who are barely making by with their shoe business, Gilly decides to play Robin Hood- steal from the rich to sell and give the money to the poor. Gilly has been caught twice before, so in the beginning of Flunked, we learn just how Gilly is caught the third time and sent to Fairytale Reform School.

Everything looks beautiful on the outside, but Gilly soon learns that this school is hiding many secrets, some of which are quite dangerous. With new friends by her side like Jax, Kayla, Maxine, and Ollie, this group of kids set out to save their school and, hopefully, their lives.

Flunked is a quick, fun read that I'm sure a lot of middle school students would really enjoy. While Gilly is a female first-person narrator, but I still feel like some boys would enjoy this one. After all, you have some awesome male characters like Jax, as well as Mr. Wolfington (also know as the Big Bad Wolf). The book is based around fairy tales, but it's not too girly and since it's a middle grade, it focuses much more on friendship and adventure than romance and happily-ever-after.

About the Author:

Jen Calonita is the author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series and other books like Sleepaway Girls and Summer State of Mind, but Fairy Tale Reform School is her first middle grade series. She rules Long Island, New York with husband Mike, princes Tyler and Dylan, and Chihuahua Captain Jack Sparrow, but the only castle she’d ever want to live in is Cinderella’s at Disney World. She’d love for you to drop her a line at jencalonitaonline.com or keep the fairy tale going at  http://books.sourcebooks.com/enchantasia/

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books from the Past 3 Years

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years

*Since it's the beginning of 2015, I'm counting three years as 2012 to now*

1. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (2013)

2. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014)

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2012)

4. Breaking the Devil's Heart by H.A. Goodman (2012)

5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012)

I'm going to go ahead and stop at five, because I'm not sure I could think of ten and I figured five is a nice number to end at!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Book Club Review: Inherit the Dead

Inherit the Dead by Twenty Different Mystery Authors

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Pericles “Perry” Christo is a PI with a past—a former cop who lost his badge and his family when a corruption scandal left him broke and disgraced. So when wealthy Upper East Side matron Julia Drusilla summons him one cold February night, he grabs what seems to be a straightforward (and lucrative) case.

The socialite is looking for her beautiful, aimless daughter, Angelina, who is about to become a very wealthy young woman. But as Christo digs deeper, he discovers there’s much more to the lovely “Angel” than meets the eye. This classic noir tale twists and turns down New York’s mean streets and along Hamptons' beaches and back roads during a bitterly cold and gray winter where nothing is as it seems and everyone has something to hide.

Review: February wasn't the best for the book club, as many people couldn't make the meetings and I was the only one who actually finished the book. Therefore, I don't really have much to add from the other members about what they thought. The one girl who was reading the book thought it was okay but it wasn't something that really held her interest. As for me, I think Inherit the Dead was a fairly quick read, and I did love the premise, but it wasn't the best story.

Inherit the Dead was like an old noir film, so that aspect will be hit or miss for some people. The story line can seem a bit over the top and you always have to have a sexual woman. In this case, that would be Angel, who is missing at first and who definitely has her fair share of secrets that need to be found out.

I thought the case was interesting overall and I was definitely curious to see where things would lead. Each chapter, instead of having a title, is designated by an author name. That means that the following chapter is written by that particular author.  You get people like C.J. Box, Charlaine Harris, and more. These are all names I know but I had never read any individual books by them. I think certain authors were better than others. There were times where the writing style differed too much between each chapter, which was a bit jarring at times. I think it worked for the most part though.

In the end, Inherit the Dead was a unique book and I'm happy to have read it. I'd suggest getting it from the library first though if you're curious!