Friday, October 30, 2015

Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, they host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The prize? An audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele's twin brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and stay true to her mission?

Review: With Halloween tomorrow, I thought this was a great time to share my thoughts on Graudin's latest novel. This is the first book in what I believe will be a duology, but it does a fantastic job not only setting things up but giving us a complete story of intrigue, deceit, and suspense.

Yael used to be in a death camp when she was younger, where a doctor took notice of her and began to experiment with a way to create the look of an Aryan in a non-Aryan. What the doctor did not realize is that while Yael's looks began to change, she could also change her own looks by will as long as she knew who she was trying to impersonate. It's not long into the book when you learn about Yael's skin-shifting (plus, it's mentioned in the summary) so hopefully this won't be viewed as a spoiler for those of you reading. There is a lot more to the skin shifting throughout the book that you'll have to read to find out about!

I loved the idea of the motorcycle race and I was definitely worried about Yael keeping her secret of being someone else with two boys seemingly knowing more about Adele than Yael does. Yael studied all she could about being Adele, but there are some things only certain people could have filled Yael in on and now she has to navigate these secrets while staying alive. It's a treacherous road these racers are on and you start to care about more than Yael and hope that they will make it through and start to fight for the resistance. Hitler needs to be stopped and Yael hopes to be the light that sparks the revolution - if all goes to plan.

Wolf By Wolf is an imaginative re-imagining of history that is terrifying to think about but as Ryan Graudin states in the Author's Note at the end, at a point in time, this was our history.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Personalized Peanuts Books Review + Giveaway

Hello everyone! Put Me In the Story asked me to take part in their Personalized Peanuts Books Tour, and I was so happy for the chance to share these books with you! I am a HUGE Peanuts fan. Right now my calendar is Peanuts and I even have a book of the comic strips from 1990 (the year I was born). I can't wait for the film to come sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post so you can see it too!

Hurry, friend! Your Peanuts pals have made a mess of the letters of the alphabet and they need your help to get them back in order. Go on an alphabet adventure with the Peanuts gang as they hop from A to Z and teach your little one just how fun learning can be! Find fun little phrases and colorful letters on each page to help your child recognize every letter of the alphabet. Delight your little reader with their first Peanuts ABC book and begin a lifelong alphabet journey. Practicing the alphabet has never been this fun!

Personalize this story with a name, cute photo and a dedication message. Plus, discover a personalized alphabet poster at the end of the book!

Come along for some counting fun! Your favorite Peanuts pals are ready to play and teach a new friend to count along the way! Show your silly Peanuts friends how to keep their numbers in order, then rhyme from 1 to 10 to start your counting adventure. You will play hide and seek, splash at the beach, visit the library and find a pumpkin patch. Through every adventure, your smiling friends are counting on you to learn something new. Join this bright bunch and jump into the fun. Discover lessons that last a lifetime with your first Peanuts 1-2-3 book!

Personalize this story with a name, cute photo, and a dedication message. You can also include a very important number–your child’s age! Plus, discover a personalized 1-2-3 poster at the end of the book. 

Lauren's Thoughts These books are too cute! I love how you can not only personalize the book with the little one's names, but you can even say who it's from right on the cover. The ABC book opens up saying For "Insert Name" and Charlie Brown saying how nice of a name that is! The next page has your personal message on the left and the right includes the photo you decided to add to the book. The 123 book follows a similar pattern, except under your personalized photo in the beginning of the book, it notes how old your child is at the time!

I like how the beginning of each book is almost like a little mini Peanuts episode, with the characters talking to each other and saying your child's name a few times. It makes it more personal and fun before diving into the ABC's and 123's. At the end of the book there is page that you can cut out and hang up on your child's wall. It includes ABC's and 123's on the respective pages surrounding your child's chosen photo. What a fun idea! I've never seen a personalized book that included something like this - it's a nice little extra!

I ended up personalizing these two books for my niece. I know she'll love them! I wish I could have shown them to her already but she lives in another state. She loves books though, and it will be exciting to introduce her to the Peanuts in this fashion. I love how the ABC's and the 123's are taught in a fun, story-like fashion instead of simply stating A is for Apple, or There are 2 Cats. These type of books are great but it's nice to get something for a slightly older audience that incorporates a bit of a story to the learning! 

Thank you to Put Me in the Story for allowing me to review these books!

If you would like your own personalized Peanuts books:

Use code SNOOPY to receive $10 OFF on personalized Peanuts books.
will both be discounted to $19.99. Code valid 10/25-10/31.

Giveaway Time!

Win a $30 Movie Gift Card so you and your family can see The Peanuts Movie! Winner will be notified on November 2. This giveaway is not sponsored by me; it's a tour-wide giveaway.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Funny! Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine 

Funny! Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room 

Out: November 17, 2015 (not too long now!)

Official Summary: From Toy Story to The Good Dinosaur, some of the most iconic and hilarious moments in Pixar's films were first conceived by the artists featured in this book. But there are hundreds of gags that don't make it past the cutting room floor, like Mater as a ninja and Sadness wearing mom jeans. Funny! explores this material in depth, showcasing classic moments from all of Pixar's films to date, plus never-before-published illustrations and doodles from the Pixar archives. With an introduction by veteran story man Jason Katz, this book is a must-have for any Pixar fan. 

Why I Want to Read: Umm...first off, it's Pixar. I'm a huge fan of Pixar films from all the Toy Story movies to Finding Nemo to the latest, Inside Out. I love the idea of having a book with a behind-the-scenes look at making these films, from jokes and story ideas that didn't make the cut to illustrations and other doodles that we haven't seen before! It sounds like a perfect gift for the holidays...anyone want to buy me a copy? It's only $29.95 on Chronicle Books! Not too bad for a gift book!   

What about you? Do you also want to check this out? What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

International Subscription Boxes


Hello everyone! Thanks for all the kind words in September about the various subscription boxes and services I shared. I have a couple notes on some of those boxes that I want to share real quick - but after that, I finally have a list of some international subscription boxes! 

Fanspirations subscription service - my review with the coupon code

I was informed by Amy from Fanspirations that some people tried to use the code in my review and it wouldn't work. There must have been some type of glitch, but she says it's all good now so please do think about subscribing and use the code in my review post to get money off your first month. 

Letters in the Mail/Letters for Kids (link to my review). There was at least one comment on this post where someone expressed concern for what the author would write in their letter - they didn't want it to be a fully promotional letter. Wendy, who helps with this program, left a comment and I wanted to share that here so you can all see it:

Hi! I'm the program administrator for Letters In The Mail and Letters For Kids. Each of our author's letters are unique and topics are wide-ranging. We ask that authors not use the letters as a tool for self-promotion. You can find a list of past and upcoming letter writers at or on FB Since the goal of Letters For Kids is to promote reading, the authors will mention a book (usually in the p.s.) so that the children can go to the library and read it. But the letter is not about the book. To see a list of past and upcoming letter writers and two sample letters, visit and on FB Happy reading!

Now let's move on to International Subscription Boxes! 

Taste Japan (Japanese snacks)
£15 a month (includes shipping)

ZBox (geeky box) - picture on top of page!
£19.49 a month

My Little Box (style/beauty)
Only deliver to the UK – check site for prices

GlossyBox (beauty)
£10 a month

My Geek Box

The Willoughby Book Club (book subscription)
Different subscription options – Baby Book Club, Young Adult Book Club, The Classic Book Club, etc.

Pink Parcel (time of the month box)
£9.99 a month

Mum Treats
+ £2.50 P&P per month

Cat Hampurr
£15.90/month or Bi-Monthly Box £8/month
Cat Hampurr ships to the UK and EU

Melanie from YA Midnight Reads recently reviewed an Australian subscription called The YA Chronicles where you get a YA book and other fun goodies that fit the monthly theme. Check out her review here

There is a blog titled Australian Subscription Boxes that gives a long list of boxes available to Australia. I can't say which boxes are based in Australia (some may have high shipping for the country) or if all of them are still active, but I thought I would share for your perusal. 


I hope some of these subscription boxes are suitable for you international (non-U.S.) readers! I tried to find a variety of "topics" with the boxes so that it would fit different interests. You have your book lovers, your cat lovers, your mums, and more! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Flawd by Emily-Anne Rigal, Founder of We Stop Hate

Flawd: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others, and the Things that Make you Who You Are by Emily-Anne Rigal, with Jeanne Demers

Visit the Flawd Website for more information 

Review by Lauren

source: copy sent for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: FLAWD is your new cheerleader—an energetic guide to seeing your flaws as the doorway to something more.

Through dynamic stories and advice from teens and celebrities around the world, FLAWD will help you to:
·       SEE yourself as perfectly imperfect.
·       TREAT life as playfully as possible.
·       THINK about what really matters.
·       EMBRACE all that makes you, YOU.
·       UNDERSTAND influence and how to use it.
·       KNOW you can be part of a flawd and powerful transformation.

Review: I love the idea behind this book! It's written by Rigal, who created We Stop Hate, as well as Jeanne Demers, who helped contribute ideas and illustrations. I think this is the type of book that everyone in middle and high school should be given a copy of when school starts. It's goal is to help you embrace your flaws so you don't use them to hide from life or to bully others.

Rigal is open and honest about how she was bullied and then when she went to a new school, she started to become the bully. This is a common phenomenon, and no matter what side of bullying you are on (the bully or the bullied), we all know that this needs to end. Everyone is unique in their own way and if you don't like someone else, then fine, but you shouldn't try and break them down to make yourself feel better.

I really liked the fun illustrations throughout that help to pinpoint some main points, like How you see how you see...everything. Interesting to think about, isn't it? It's not normally something people tend to consider. We're so quick to point out our flaws and see ourselves as not good enough, but do we realize that just clouds how we see the rest of the world and those around us? People often say bullies are really just insecure about themselves, and I think in a lot of ways, that does turn out to be true. It's something to consider at least!

This is a great message for everyone, but it's especially good for tweens and teens so if you have one of those in your life, pass this along! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Post + Swapoween Reveal

This is the first time I've done Sunday Post but I love reading everyone's weekly recaps, so I thought I would try and jump in. Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Last Week...

Because you can easily go back and see what posts I have done on ShootingStarsMag, I thought I would share the past week's posts from Let's Get Beyond Tolerance instead:

Monday: Musical Mondays - "Kings" by Years and Years

Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday: Look Both Ways 

Friday: Let's Discuss: The Future of This Blog (What do you want to see?!) 

This Week...

I actually like the idea of keeping what posts are coming up a secret. Plus, I don't always have the week planned out so I don't want to say too much in case I'm wrong. However, I will say that there should be a review of Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin sometime this week and I'll be featuring some personalized Peanuts books this Thursday! I do love the Peanuts. 

Extra, Extra

Now it's time to show off what I got from my Swapoween partner, hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps. I love taking part in swaps. I know a lot of the don't allow for international entries because so many swappers are from the U.S. or Canada and shipping can be pricey. However, I have a question--

Who would be interested in doing a swap if International people could enter?

I was matched up with the blog The O.W.L. who also loves books so that was exciting! You can see what I got her HERE!

I really like when your swap partner will talk to you via email to really try and see what you would like. Since we both like to read, we gave a mini list of books that were on our wish list. I'm so excited to read these books (A Madness So Discreet and an ARC of Nightfall). She also included some gloves that will glow in the dark, a skeleton mug, some monster magnet bookmarks, Dove chocolate that is wrapped to look like an eyeball (Yum!), and some other fun goodies.

I really love Halloween and I enjoyed doing this swap again this year. You should definitely keep an eye out for the swap that is up next - I believe it's the 12 days of Christmas one!

Thank you so much to Jill from The O.W.L!!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pop Goes the Weasel by M. J. Arlidge

Pop Goes the Weasel by M. J. Arlidge

Review by Lauren

Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: A man’s body is found in an empty house.
A gruesome memento of his murder is sent to his wife and children.

He is the first victim, and Detective Helen Grace knows he will not be the last. But why would a happily married man be this far from home in the dead of night?

The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse: a serial killer preying on family men who lead hidden double lives.

Helen can sense the fury behind the murders. But what she cannot possibly predict is how volatile this killer is—or what is waiting for her at the end of the chase....

Review: Back in June, I read and reviewed Eeny Meeny, the first book in the Helen Grace detective series by M. J. Arlidge. It immediately became a favorite and I was so excited when I was offered the chance to check out the second novel, Pop Goes the Weasel. This series is not for the faint of heart. It gives graphic details about deaths and the lives that people lead, but it's a series that I'm a huge fan of now and I can't wait for the next titles!

I won't say too much about this book or series as I don't want to ruin anything from Eeny Meeny. I will say, however, that Helen Grace is dealing with a lot when Pop Goes the Weasel starts and you know that this new string of murders is going to be very upsetting for her and other members of her team. However, Grace is a wonderful detective and she won't stop until the culprit has been found and the killings finally stop.

Someone is murdering men who use prostitutes, making them a Jack the Ripper in reverse, as the summary states. Pop Goes the Weasel has you wondering and guessing who the possible serial killer could be and how they became so angry enough to kill in such a gruesome fashion. It's suspenseful and keeps you turning the pages. This is a book you could easily finish in a day or so if it sucks you in like it did me.

The books are told in third person point of view, so you are able to get perspectives of other characters, though Helen Grace is the main one. I like this form of storytelling for thrillers and mysteries because you can learn more about the men who are about to be killed, more about the other cops who work with Grace, and you even get some insight into the killer. It allows for a more well-rounded story.

Pop Goes the Weasel is a fantastic mystery and just as good as Eeny Meeny. I can't wait for more!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Found at the Library by Christi Snow

Found at the Library by Christi Snow

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: His entire life, Tommy Garrett has dealt with self-doubts. He thought he’d conquered the majority of them until a chance meeting with an author brought his illiteracy to the forefront...again. Growing up with un-diagnosed dyslexia has left Tommy barely able to read, but books are his Nirvana. Now he spends his life creating art dedicated to the love of those “untouchable” items.

Robert McIntyre, Mac, is a best-selling, highly celebrated author. But his point of view has become a little bit too narrow...until Tommy opens his eyes. That chance meeting has changed everything about his world. He has no idea how to find the beautiful man he met, and offended, at the library book sale. But when he does, Tommy’s life is in crisis-mode. It’s the holidays and Mac can’t just standby when Tommy needs help, whether Tommy wants it or not. 

Two artistic men. One shared passion for books.

Review: This book is perfect for fans of m/m romance who are also passionate about all things books. Tommy loves books and he creates his art out of them, but he's dyslexic and can only enjoy a story if it's an audio book. As for Mac, he is a famous author who puts his heart and soul into his writing. He doesn't like the idea of anyone "mutilating" books so when he finds out about the art that Tommy does, he's not a fan. It doesn't take too long for him to realize he's wrong though - that there is more to Tommy than he initially thought.

A big part of Tommy's story in this book revolves around his brother, Ryder, who has been given a tough time in life. Tommy isn't sure how to help him but he's willing to give up his entire studio if it will make his younger brother better. After all, Ryder is the only family Tommy has left.

As for Mac, he falls for Tommy quick, which is unusual for him. Instead of holing up and finishing his next book, he is taking care of Tommy, whether Tommy knows it or not. Some of what Mac does in the beginning is sweet but it also makes sense that Tommy would freak out a bit when he finds out. After all, he doesn't really even know Mac.

I really liked that Found at the Library was very much a story and didn't rely solely on the physical with Mac and Tommy's relationship. There are family and friends involved, both men have their own issues in life, and then there is the passion and understanding that develops when the two come together. I'm curious to read Snow's next novel in this "series" which will feature two characters from Found at the Library (read the book to find out which ones!)

This book has inspired a couple ideas for posts, so be on the lookout next month for those! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine 

I am hoping to have my list of international subscription boxes up sometime next week, so don't you worry! For today though, I thought it would be fun to do a Waiting on Wednesday since it's rare that I have these on the blog.

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

Coming Out: June 14, 2016 (Gah! So far away!!)

Add on Goodreads now

Official Summary: Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...

Archie and Veronica...

Althena and Noth...

...Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Althena Chronicles, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be...even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.

Why I Want to Read: Umm...two geeky best friends? Yes, please! I also like that Graham wants to woo Roxy at a comic convention because I've been to one a couple times and it's a lot of fun. I'd love a cute guy asking me out there (well, one I already knew - not some random person in a costume!)

Please go over to check out Let's Get Beyond Tolerance to see what I'm on Waiting On there!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The World As He Sees It by A.M. Arthur

The World As He Sees It by A.M. Arthur

Review by Lauren

The book is released tomorrow! 

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Gabe lives a double life. As Gabriel Henson, he works multiple jobs to support his remorseless, alcoholic mother. As Tony Ryder, he does internet porn for extra cash and regular safe sex without complications.Yet when he encounters a scared young man freaking out in a night club, he’s compelled to reach out. Ever since then, the memory of that young man has haunted him.Tristan Lavelle lives his life thirty minutes at a time. After a traumatic brain injury three years ago, he gets through his day recording his life in spiral notebooks and sticky note reminders.A month after Tristan’s embarrassingly public meltdown, another chance meeting with Gabe sparks a warm, emotionally fulfilling email relationship. Both men crave more, but fear of the next step stands between them.Until Tristan gets the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial that could improve his memory—if the side effects don’t kill him. But for Tristan, the possibility of a real life with Gabe is worth any risk…

Review: It's really easy to fall for both of these men. Gabe is trying to take care of his alcoholic mother, even though he could easily forget about her and go live with his two dads. He does porn to help earn a lot of his money, which he doesn't mind doing, but it's not something he wants to make his long-term career. As for Tristan, him and his best friend were attacked a few years before and now his short-term memory only lasts for about thirty minutes at a time. He remembers everything before the attack, but after that, he has to keep track of things via notebooks.

I loved that Gabe would email Tristan when their relationship is first starting out. Tristan prints out all of them so he can go back and remember Gabe and what they talked about. It gives Tristan something to hold on to apart from his best friend who was attacked with him, because Tristan's parents have all but written him off after finding out he was gay.

The World As He Sees It is tough in parts as it's quite an emotional novel, but it's also full of sweet moments, as well as humorous ones as Tristan is quite a playful guy when he's not being attacked by depression. I thought the clinical trial that Tristan went through was interesting. He's desperate for any chance to get better, even if it means seizures or the chance of not working at all. He's a strong guy though and willing to try it if it means he may have more of a "normal" life.

There are plenty of sexual situations, as I like to point out when reviewing romances in case that bothers someone. It's nothing that takes over the whole story though. There is plenty going on without those moments, and that's the main thing when it comes to me and romance. Overall, this is a good read and I would recommend to those interested!

Friday, October 16, 2015

We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean + Make it a Gift

We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from BEA; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Murder.  Fire.  Revenge.  That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths. Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story?

Review: We'll Never Be Apart is a fascinating young adult thriller. It has a slow suspense to it, as you learn more and more about Alice's past through her journal entries. These appear at the end of every chapter and help readers understand more of what Alice and her twin Cellie went through. In the present time, Alice is stuck at Savage Isle, a mental institution surrounded by a lake. The weather is almost always dreary and raining, painting a dark atmosphere full of secrets and suspicion.

Alice pretends not to remember much about the accident that killed her boyfriend, Jason, but she knows more than she lets on. However, she keeps this is a secret because she doesn't want help. She wants to find her sister and exact revenge, because Cellie is the culprit. Cellie is the crazy one, not Alice.

We'll Never Be Apart is a book you don't want to hear too much about, as it could possibly ruin things. I thought it was well done and I loved learning about Alice's past as she goes through her present. I was also curious about Chase, a new guy at Savage Isle who may or may not have killed someone. Despite this, Alice needs his help and she finds herself growing close to someone again. Besides Jason and Cellie, Alice has mostly been alone, going from foster care to foster care. She wants to feel independent, especially after Cellie and the fire, but at the same time, she needs someone.

This was a well written novel and definitely perfect for the current season!

One of the coping mechanisms that Alice has used since she was young is to make origami. She just needs paper and she make a whole zoo of animals, going through the motions by heart. In honor of that, I thought it would be nice to include an origami themed gift if you were going to give this book to someone!

These black and white origami stars (you get 100 stars for $8.50). I think they would look nice with the cover; the shop also offers purple stars! I like the idea putting these in a small jar and gifting them! No, they aren't animals like in the book, but they are super cute and would make a really nice decoration. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

To Love a Traitor by J.L. Merrow

To Love a Traitor by J.L. Merrow

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Wounds of the heart take the longest to heal.When solicitor’s clerk George Johnson moves into a rented London room in the winter of 1920, it’s with a secret goal: to find out if his fellow lodger, Matthew Connaught, is the wartime traitor who cost George’s adored older brother his life.Yet as he gets to know Matthew—an irrepressibly cheerful ad man whose missing arm hasn’t dimmed his smile—George begins to lose sight of his mission.As Matthew’s advances become ever harder to resist, George tries to convince himself his brother’s death was just the luck of the draw, and to forget he’s hiding a secret of his own.His true identity—and an act of conscience that shamed his family.But as their mutual attraction grows, so does George’s desperation to know the truthabout what happened that day in Ypres. If only to prove Matthew innocent—even if it means losing the man he’s come to love.

Review: I don't read a lot of historical fiction so it's nice to come across titles that I think I will enjoy. To Love a Traitor is one such title. George lost his brother in WW1 and he believes that someone betrayed their troop, which lead to his brother's death. This hunch brings him to a man named Matthew Connaught who may or may not be the traitor.

Moving into the boarding house where Matthew lives under an assumed name, George grows close to him, trying to figure out if this is the man who led his brother to his death. It is difficult to see Matthew as a traitor. He's a kind, cheerful man. He lost one of his arms in the war but this doesn't seem to bring him down much. George finds himself falling for Matthew as the book goes on, making his "mission" more and more difficult. He doesn't want Matthew to be the traitor who helped kill his brother and other members of his troop, but he also wants answers.

I don't want to say too much. This is a book better explored without knowing too much. The m/m romance is obviously more difficult to explore in a historical novel, as it is not accepted by most. Not to mention the fact that one of them men might be a traitor to England! It leads to a suspenseful romance, and overall novel, and I think Merrow did a good job with the topics. I would definitely read more by this author!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann

Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official summary: In this hilariously irreverent collection of essays, Jen Mann, nationally bestselling author of People I Want to Punch in the Throat, turns her mordant wit on the holidays. On Mann's naughty list: mothers who go way overboard with their Elf on the Shelf, overzealous carolers who can't take a hint, and people who write their Christmas cards in the third person (“Joyce is enjoying Bunko. Yeah, Joyce, we know you wrote this letter.”). And on her nice list . . . well, she's working on that one. Here, no celebration is off-limits. The essays include:

• You Can Keep Your Cookies, I'm Just Here for the Booze
• Nice Halloween Costume. Was Skank Sold Out?
• Why You Won't Be Invited to Our Chinese New Year Party

From hosting an ill-fated Chinese New Year party, to receiving horrible gifts from her husband on Mother's Day, to reluctantly telling her son the truth about the Easter Bunny, Mann knows the challenge of navigating the holidays while keeping her sanity intact. And even if she can't get out of attending another Christmas cookie exchange, at least she can try again next year.

Review: First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian readers! Now, let's talk about this hilarious collection of essays. I have not read Mann's People I Want to Punch in the Throat, but after reading her take on the holidays, I know I need to check out her debut book.

This book focuses mostly on stories about Christmas, but there are a few other holidays that are included as well. However, I really love the Christmas season so it was fun to hear about Mann's experiences dealing with the holiday. Her mom is obsessed with the holiday and loves to decorate every inch of her house. Mann's little girl is following in her grandma's footsteps. For Mann though, she likes aspects of Christmas, but finds most of it a bit over the top.

I loved her story about Cookie Exchange parties and how she doesn't like most of the food but feels weird skipping over everyone's treats. Plus, the idea is that you'll be making a ton of cookies anyway, so why not make a ton of one cookie and come back with a lot more? Mann points out that she wouldn't make so many cookies if not for the parties, so it really defeats the purpose!

There is also a really funny story about the crazy costumes that people wear for Halloween and how many people go quite skanky these days. She talks about a friend party that included children and how one couple came as something sexual (I won't ruin the surprise), but for the children that were old enough to understand, it was highly inappropriate!

In all, I would definitely recommend this one! It really does make you laugh out loud and you're sure to want to share the stories as you go, like I did!