Sunday, January 31, 2016

Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2016


Wow, I can't believe today is the last day in January. I'm sorry this wasn't posted earlier today but I've been working all weekend and haven't had much time. Anyway, I don't normally do monthly wrap-ups but since I'm doing various book challenges and whatnot, I thought I would try and keep track of things this way.

January Monthly Wrap-Up

Blog Swap!!! 

First off, I wanted to share what I got in the Book and A Cuppa Swap from Chaotic Goddess Swaps. The idea was to send your partner one book from their wish list, a mug, and then other mug/book goodies. Whatever you want really! My partner was Meghann from Becoming Books and she did a great job with everything she got for me! Seriously!


Here is a look at everything that I got from Meghann- minus the mug (pictures below). She did an amazing job. I got Me Before You by Jojo Moyes as the book she chose from my wish list. I can't wait to read this. I just ate my Salted caramel chocolate (laying on top of the owl notepad) and it was amazing. I can't wait to eat up the rest of the candy and to use all the other lovely goodies I received!
 
Close up of some of my goodies!


Close up of the other half of my goodies!
And now...on to my lovely mug, that Meghann decorated HERSELF! I'm so in love.


This is one side of the mug (with the hot chocolate packets Meghann sent me). Click the photo to see more clearly, but it's a silhouette of Sherlock Holmes! On the other side of the mug ---


It says "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." I'm so amazed that Meghann put this together herself. It really shows that she put thought into her gift and I appreciate that! Thank you so much, Meghann!

2016 Book Challenges

I have a new page at the top of my blog (under the header) for the challenge I'm hosting - The Unique Format Book Challenge. All links and information can be found there. If you want to see links, as well as my goals, for the other challenges - go here!

Unique Format Book Challenge - read 1/15+

Book Blog Discussion Challenge - posted 1/13-24

Non-Fiction Reading Challenge (no set number) - read 3 non-fiction books so far!

2016 Series Starter Challenge - I have a goal to start 3-4 new to me series; I have not started any yet.

Rock My TBR- the goal is to read one book from your TBR every month, if you can. I read The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich in January which I have owned for awhile.

Commenting 365 Challenge - comment on 365 blogs throughout the year. I have been commenting, but not keeping track. I need to work on that!

Goodreads Challenge- I have it at 100 books for the year, but I feel like I'll read more. Right now:

15/100 books read for the year

Add me on Goodreads to keep track of everything I'm reading, as well as for what challenge! I read The Dead House as a TBR book, but it also fits the Unique Format Challenge! I had reviews for some of these posted throughout the month, but not all the books I read in January have been reviewed yet!

The Rest of It

Okay, I know a lot of people use these monthly wrap-ups to leave links to all the various posts they made throughout the month, but I'm a bit lazy at the moment. Do you want me to do this in future months though? I'll make sure to if there is interest! 

As for my Sunday posts about the library, I didn't attend any events this past week. I have a lot of them in February though, so be on the look out for photos during my normal Sunday Posts! 

Currently Reading: Ed Sheeran: A Visual Journey (really good so far - nice for fans!) I wish I could have finished it in time to count for January, but ah well, I think 15 books this month is good. It's a high number for me! hah January has been five weeks though, so we'll see what I get finished in February! 

-Lauren

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Shooting Thoughts: Bridge the Gap With Me


One of my challenges for this year is to do more discussion posts. I often have ideas I want to talk about, but I find that writing these posts often take the longest time. Am I the only one? Anyway, today I want to talking about international entertainment - books, movies, music. Whatever! For me, international is anything that is not from the United States. For people in other countries, it would be any country besides your own! Easy, right? Let's start discussing...

Let Us Bridge the Gap 

This is something I've been meaning to really do on the blog, but I just keep forgetting. First off, I'll be needing a button so I can properly label these posts. If anyone wants to make one (especially if you'd like to use it on your own blog too) that would be awesome! Otherwise I'll try my hand at making something simple. 

Anyway, the idea behind Bridge the Gap is to focus on things that are outside of where you live. Sure, living in the United States, I could read about a different state and have something very unique. However, I'd really like to start paying attention to other countries and what they have to offer. Yes, I've read books that were published in other countries (or by foreign authors) and yes, I've watched foreign films and listened to music from artists in other countries. I'm doing this now! I want to be more aware of it though. Seek out more entertainment and actually write about it on the blog. This doesn't mean I have to take an outsider's approach to everything, but I want to acknowledge the places these pieces of entertainment come from.

I know a lot of you reading this are mostly book bloggers, so that means you would seek out books written in other countries. If you do not live in the United States, you can still do this! U.S. books count, especially if your native language isn't English...but you can also look at all the other places where you don't live! It's a way for us as bloggers to come together a bit more, by celebrating the different places where we all live. It seems like books published in the U.S. are the most celebrated and they probably get most of the attention because of the big-name publishers, but that shouldn't always be the case. Besides, plenty of U.S. publishing companies are now sharing foreign novels by having them translated into English. People say this means the book loses a bit of what it originally was, because not all things can be translated in quite the same way the author might have meant. And yeah, that's probably true, but we shouldn't just ignore these books (or those movies with subtitles) because of that!

This discussion is one part telling you that I hope to pay more attention to what other countries are producing, as well as making note on my blog when I am featuring them with a Bridge the Gap button. However, I also want to reach out to the blogosphere as a whole and see if you would like to take this journey with me, if you will. Share what you're reading, listening too, watching, etc. Give ideas of what other people should check out - whether it's from your country (non-U.S. natives) or not! 

I'm ready to find more gems. I'm ready to learn about other places and other people. Are you ready to Bridge the Gap with me? 

-Lauren 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chandler by Laurelin Paige Cover Reveal

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Title: Chandler (A Fixed Trilogy Spinoff)
Author: Laurelin Paige
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance


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I dominate the boardroom. Im a Pierceits what we do. But I never had a reason to bring that persona into the bedroom. Until Genevive Fasbender. Shes brash and bold and stubborn as hell, and she doesnt believe its possible to satisfy her. But Ive discovered her secret, one she hasnt even figured out herselfshe wants what I want. And not only does she want itI'll make her need it. No matter what.


Add to Goodreads




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Amazon

Amazon UK

iBooks


"Laurelin Paige has done it again with her sexy, protective, alpha males. ★★★★★" - Shayna Renee's Spicy Reads


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Free Me is on sale NOW for 99¢

Amazon 

Amazon UK

 
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With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She's a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there's kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn't seem to complain, however. When she isn't reading or writing sexy stories, she's probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She's also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn't do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio. 

You can connect with Laurelin on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LaurelinPaige or on twitter @laurelinpaige. You can also visit her website, www.laurelinpaige.com, to sign up for emails about new releases.



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Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir by Drew Magary


Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First-Century Parenthood by Drew Magary

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: No one writes about family quite like Drew Magary. In Someone Could Get Hurt, he reflects on his own parenting experiences to explore the anxiety, rationalizations, compromises, and overpowering love that come with raising children.

In brutally honest and funny stories, Magary reveals how American mothers and fathers cope with being in over their heads—from getting drunk while trick-or-treating and telling dirty jokes to make bath time go smoothly to committing petty vandalism to bond with a five-year-old.


Review: I didn't set out to read this book, but I saw it come back to my library from a patron and was immediately interested. One, I've read the novel The Postmortal by Drew Magary and loved it. Second, I might not be a parent but a lot of my friends do have kids and I love reading parenting books. I also have a niece and nephew, so I can relate to some of the things parents talk about in these books!

I read this book in about a day; none of the short stories are terribly long. It starts and ends with his third child, who had to have surgery as an infant. It was a sad story because if the surgery didn't work, his son probably would not make it. However, the rest of the book is a lot more funny and enjoyable to read. Even when Drew is talking about the rough side of parenting, it's still easy to commiserate with his experiences. Throughout the book he's focusing on his daughter and son who he never names. This was kind of annoying to read after awhile - they are the boy and the girl throughout. It would have been better if Drew gave them fake names. Besides this, the stories about his two children were fun to read.

I liked the short story about going for a power walk with his five year-old and how she basically keeps up. He feels kind of excited about his daughter wanting to spend time with him. It's a bit hard to explain, but you'll understand if you read - or if you have a child who happens to find something you do really interesting! He does talk about losing his cool and not always doing what he feels is the right thing, but that's parenting. Some of what he says is a bit rough to read about, because you might not always agree, but at the same time, if you've dealt with kids long enough, you understand how tiring and frustrating they can be. What I like is that Drew is honest about his experiences, but he does let you know what he wishes he could have done differently or what he hopes to change in the future, and that's the main thing.

Overall, this was an interesting read. It was fairly quick, though some stories are ultimately more interesting than others! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Hot Glue Gun Mess: Funny Stories, Pretty DIY Projects by Mr. Kate


A Hot Glue Gun Mess: Funny Stories, Pretty DIY Projects by Mr. Kate

Review by Lauren

source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In this beautiful paperback edition featuring French flaps, hugely popular lifestyle blogger, YouTube star, and designer Mr. Kate (Kate Albrecht) offers a stunning collection of step-by-step personal style and home projects—woven in with quirkily hilarious stories and anecdotes.

Do you dream of finding ways to infuse do-it-yourself projects into every aspect of your life and have fun doing it? From the quirky personality behind the Mr. Kate brand comes a not-so-average DIY lifestyle book that will make your dreams of creating unique how-to projects become reality.

Filled with 50 unique and approachable projects, along with hysterical, unfiltered stories from Mr. Kate’s crazy life, A Hot Glue Gun Mess will show how life can inspire art. Growing up with a high-powered Hollywood father and an oddball, down-to-earth mother, Kate Albrecht had a childhood that was anything but normal. From how her first period influenced her to become an artist to how her friendship with a high-priced hooker encouraged DIY beauty products, Mr. Kate’s stories are weird, wonderful, personal, inspiring, and downright hilarious.

Review: I didn't know who Mr. Kate was before I read this book, but I certainly learned a lot about her through A Hot Glue Gun Mess. I liked that this book was 50 stories and 50 DIY projects. After each story, there is a specific craft or DIY project (this can include makeup, etc.) that somehow relates to the story we just read. If you are just interested in reading the crazy stories, then you can do that! I did that but I also paid attention to all the projects that were included as well. Some of them looked really fun! I also liked that Kate used hot glue for a lot of them because I feel like that makes some of these projects easier for people like me, who love crafting and doing DIY but might not have the sewing skills or whatever to do certain projects.

One of the stories Kate includes is I Went to Hogwarts, about an eclectic school she attended as a child. The project that goes with it is the DIY Found Objects Headboard.

Final look at the DIY Found Objects Headboard - source
While this isn't something I could see myself doing for my own room, I kind of wish I could do it at some point. Kate definitely makes you feel like you could easily do something as awesome and cool-looking as this headboard!

Oh, and in case you're wondering why she's Mr. Kate, she says she feels like she's a mix of things - including masculine and feminine. She's Mr and she's Kate. I kind of love it! Kate isn't shy about sharing the crazy stories from her past, including details about her parents and her husband. Sometimes I wondered how they felt about her sharing certain things, but I suppose they were okay with it!

In all, this was an enjoyable read! I didn't know Kate beforehand, but it was fun learning about her life, loves, and DIY passions.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hallowed Ground by Rebecca Yarros Blog Tour

Alicia here, this time for the blog tour for Hallowed Ground. Enjoy!

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New Military Romance! 
Hallowed Ground by Rebecca Yarros is
Now Available!





Blurb


There are some debts you can’t repay.

Josh Walker is loyal, reckless, and every girl’s dream. But he only has eyes for December Howard, the girl he's craved since his high school hockey days. Together they have survived grief, the military, distance, and time as they’ve fought for stolen weekends between his post at Ft. Rucker and her college at Vanderbilt. Now that Josh is a medevac pilot and Ember is headed toward graduation, they’re moving on—and in—together.

Ember never wanted the Army life, but loving Josh means accepting whatever the army dictates—even when that means saying goodbye as Josh heads to Afghanistan, a country that nearly killed him once before and that took her father. But filling their last days together with love, passion, and plans for their future doesn’t temper Ember’s fear, and if there’s one thing she’s learned from her father’s death, it’s that there are some obstacles even love can’t conquer.

Flight school is over.
This is war.


Buy:

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1NeMPn1

 Excerpt:

I pulled her onto my lap, gently squeezing the sweet curves of her hips.
“Behave,” she whispered into my ear, but ran her tongue along the edge.
My fingers flexed, teasing under the edges of the black skirt that had slid higher on her thighs as she sat. I couldn’t help it—her skin was a magnet for my hands. “You like it better when I don’t,” I answered.
She locked those blue eyes on mine, and for that second, I wanted everyone to go the fuck away so I could get my remarkable girlfriend out of her clothes. Not a girlfriend for long. Not if I found the perfect moment for that little velvet box hidden upstairs.
Mrs. Walker. December-fucking-Walker. Sounded perfect to me.
“Earth to Josh and Ember,” Jagger called, waving his hand like he’d been at it a while.
“Yeah, yeah, a toast,” Ember said, wiggling against my now-hard lap. I locked her down with my hands, and she threw me a smug grin, well aware of what she’d done.
Jagger raised his beer. “To friends. Hell, that doesn’t even cut it. You guys, all of you...I wouldn’t be here”—he looked over to Paisley—“or even the man I am, without you. So more than friends...to family.”
We glanced around the fire at the family we’d made, and I felt it—one of those moments you can’t forget, the kind that stay with you when it’s long past, so you try to memorize everything. It was a deep peace, a contentment laced with the silent knowledge that we wouldn’t be together again for far too long.
“To family,” we all said in scattered rhythm, and I kissed the underside of Ember’s jaw.




**VIEW THE Hallowed Ground TRAILER HERE: https://vimeo.com/148520997 **

 About the Author



Rebecca Yarros is a hopeless romantic and lover of all things chocolate, coffee, and Paleo. In addition to being a mom, military wife, and blogger, she can never choose between Young Adult and New Adult fiction, so she writes both. She's a graduate of Troy University, where she studied European history and English, but still holds out hope for an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Her blog, The Only Girl Among Boys, has been voted the Top Military Mom Blog the last two years, and celebrates the complex issues surrounding the military life she adores.

When she's not writing, she's tying on hockey skates for her kids, or sneaking in some guitar time. She is madly in love with her army-aviator husband of eleven years. They finally can call Colorado home along with their gaggle of rambunctious kiddos and snoring English Bulldog.

Stalk Rebecca here:




GIVEAWAY

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Post (11): Library Crafts and Photos


Sunday Post is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer

I hope you all had a fantastic week and that those of us who got snow didn't get battered too much! As I write this (Friday night), it's snowing but we aren't supposed to get too much. I know other states are getting tons and tons of snow though, so if that's you, stay safe!!

Last week I mentioned that I love going to library events where we get to make crafts and I wanted to share a couple things I made from the past couple weeks.


A few weeks ago my sister and I made these Flower Pine cones. The three in the above photo are mine - I didn't get a photo of my sister's. These are scented pine cones so that's a nice addition to your decor, but they are super easy to make. The librarian had a whole bag of pine cones and we all figured out the three we wanted and then you could decorate them how you wished. I went with the style my librarian did by making the bottom or "center" yellow and using another color around the top "petals" of the flower. I think they turned out really well! I know one lady stood hers up (you would flip mine upside down for that) and turned them into rainbow styled trees. They were really pretty as well.


This past Monday, my mom and I made these Winterland dioramas. I'm sure a lot of you remember making dioramas for projects in school, usually with the help of a shoe box. These were made with smaller boxes (both my mom's and I came from Birchbox- supplied by the library) and when we arrived, the whole background was painted black already so we just used the various supplies we were given to decorate. These are sitting on a shelf in our kitchen!


The photo above is my mom's creation. On the left, she has a plastic bear standing in the snow and she glued a deer for the background. The pine cone (left over from the previous craft) was placed in the box as a tree. You can't really see in the photo, but my mom used white glitter glue on the "leaves" of the pine cone to make it look like snow.


This box is mine! I added little additions to my cut out trees, and I think they turned out well. I cut the moose in half (right side of the box) so it looked like it was walking into the frame. I also made the deer titled a bit in the middle so it kind of looks like it's leaping. I thought it was cute. My favorite part was probably the stars - the blue are cut outs and then I used sticky gems to place in the middle. The rest of the sky is blue and gold glitter glue dots.

And that's it! I hope you enjoy seeing these photos, because I think it will be fun to share more on Sunday. My mom and I (and often my sister) attend a lot of library events and I think more people should check them out. See what libraries are around you and sign up for something that looks fun! It's not always crafts.

***

Last Week on Let's Get Beyond Tolerance:

Monday: Review of Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Wednesday: Celebrate Kindness - No Name-Calling Week 

Friday: LGBT Book Reviews from ShootingStarsMag

This Week on ShootingStarsMag:

Alicia has a post scheduled
A review of the non-fiction/DIY book A Hot Glue Gun Mess
Review of the non-fiction book Someone Could Get Hurt

Etc.

Friday, January 22, 2016

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson


We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Review by Lauren

Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.

But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever.


Review: If you read the official summary, I think it's obvious to see that We Are the Ants is an intense, emotional book. It's realistic and sometimes tough to read. But it also has funny and lighthearted moments. It's life, seen through the eyes of Henry Denton.

Henry lost his boyfriend to suicide the previous year and since then, he's not sure life is worth living. If Jesse Franklin gave up, then it would make sense if Henry did too. Instead of taking his own life, Henry thinks about not pushing the red button that would save the entire Earth. For years, Henry has been abducted by aliens. They experiment on him and then send him back, often far from home and not always wearing clothes. Henry deals with it, like every other bad or upsetting thing in his life. Then, one day he's abducted, and there is a red button that he realizes will save the Earth from ending and he, Henry Denton, has been chosen to make the choice. Push it and keep suffering. Don't push it and await death. The aliens were an interesting addition to this realistic story. Are they real? Is Henry delusional?

The button is a big choice and you might think you would push it if you were Henry, but honestly, it's not that simple and Hutchinson does a great job showing the good and bad that the world can hold. Henry lost his boyfriend, his grandma is losing her memories and suffering because of it, his mom is working hard everyday trying to make ends meet because her husband and Henry's dad left them, and Henry's brother Charlie is going to be a father and Henry's not sure Charlie is ready for that.

Besides everything in his family, Henry is Space Boy. His brother Charlie told everyone about Henry's "abductions" when he was in high school and now everyone knows Henry as this moniker. Nobody uses it more than Marcus and his friends, who are set on making Henry's life a living hell. What's even more awful about this situation is that Marcus and Henry have been hooking up for months. Marcus uses Henry because he won't tell anyone and Marcus isn't out as gay. Henry uses Marcus because he's not-Jesse and he helps him forget. It would almost work if Marcus didn't call Henry Space Boy all the time at school or take part in other, really upsetting abusive actions toward Henry. The relationship between Henry and Marcus made me go back and forth. I saw the good in some parts and in Marcus, and then things happened that radically changed my opinion. We Are the Ants keeps you guessing and experiencing right alongside Henry.

It's easy to see that Henry is depressed and that he can't see the good in the world. Why live when he'll only ever be Space Boy? Why let his grandma suffer for years before she passes? Why let Charlie and his girlfriend Zooey bring a baby into this messed up world?

One of the spotlights in Henry's life is Diego Vega, a new student, who soon befriends Henry. This spotlight isn't always bright though. Diego has his own issues. He wants Henry to want to push the button for himself, but Henry isn't even sure why Diego moved to Florida in the first place. What is Diego hiding? Can Henry let go of Jesse that easily, even if Diego is straight and just a friend? So many questions, and Henry is left to make the biggest decision. I really liked Diego as a character. He is trying to find himself and he wants Henry to see the future as a choice that he can make. He is a positive point in Henry's life, but he also has darkness in his past that could disrupt Henry's thinking.

Overall, this was an amazing book. I added it to Goodreads the other day and gave it 5 stars. It's definitely one I hope a lot of people read and discuss. It gives you a lot to ponder, and it's full of multi-faceted secondary characters, some I haven't even mentioned in this already too long review. Shaun David Hutchinson is one I will continue to read!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Real Simple Guide to Real Life Book Review


The Real Simple Guide to Real Life

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Created for smart, aspiring young women, The REAL SIMPLE Guide to Real Life offers REAL SIMPLE's clever solutions for navigating adulthood with ease, confidence, and style. This essential handbook helps to simplify (and demystify) landing a job, finding an apartment, decorating on the cheap, cooking for one, dressing for work, organizing a small space, picking a mentor, writing a thank-you note (yes, they're still a thing)-plus all the know-how you need to deal with 401(k)s, kitchen fails, epic hangovers, messy roommates, and even messier breakups. Packed with useful 'Life 101' tips, the book also features essays from bestselling writers (including Cristina Henriquez and J. Courtney Sullivan) and advice from relatable and successful women (like Jessica Alba and Emmy Rossum) about what they wish they had known when they were starting out.

Review: I feel like if you read the above summary you are getting the gist of this book. However, I will say that I'm so excited I came across this book at my local library. If you know a girl graduating from college this year, you should definitely think about gifting her this one! It's full of great tips and real life advice. One of my favorite sections is a list of 21 things you cook using the microwave, with instructions on how to do so! I'm not a big cook, so anything I can use the microwave with is a plus!

As someone currently trying to find a full-time job, I loved the sections on interviewing and dress codes for certain type of jobs. There is a lot of good information here for anyone who feels like they could use a little advice! One tip is that you should email a thank you note after an interview, which my sister had informed me about in the past, but I know a lot of people might not know this one.

Since I got this book at the library, I sadly have to return it but it's something I wish I could have on hand for when I need it. I'll definitely have to think about getting a copy someday soon. Other tips and information include style, makeup, getting an apartment, how to deal with rough co-workers, and much much more!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fable Comics + The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet


Fable Comics Edited by Chris Duffy

Review by Lauren

Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: From classics like "The Tortoise and the Hare" and "The Grasshopper and the Ants" to obscure gems like "The Frogs Who Desired a King," Fable Comics has something to offer every reader. Twenty-eight fables from different cultures and traditions are wonderfully adapted and illustrated in comics format by twenty-six different cartoonists. Edited by New York Times bestselling Fairy Tale Comics' Chris Duffy, this jacketed hardcover is a beautiful gift and an instant classic.

Review: I really like these collections, though I've only read Fairy Tale Comics before this. You can also check out Nursery Rhyme Comics. This book is full of comics from 26 different artists. Because of this, each fable in the book has a really different look. For those that aren't aware, a fable is a story (usually featuring animals, but not always) that leaves the reader with a message or something to learn. Some of the fables flat out tell you what you should take away (with a bit of humor) but not all of them do this. I like the mix; each artist does something a bit different!

page from the book - source
Most of these fables are from Aesop, but not all of them. We get a mix of stories from different countries too, which is always nice. I really liked the fable "Leopard Drums Up Dinner" by Sophie Goldstein which is just really funny! The artwork is bright and fun, with a lot of yellow, green, and orange colors.

"The Hare and the Tortoise" by Graham Annable was also well done. All of these fables, even the ones you know well like this story, are changed by the artist and I really liked how Annable did this one!

While I liked many of the stories throughout, some I have to admit, I didn't quite get. Maybe you'll have better luck with stories like "The Dog and His Reflection" by Graham Chaffee than I did!

Great collection overall though!


The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents: Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo

Review by Lauren

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

Official Summary: The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo . . . until the gates shut at night. That's when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they've got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails.

Review: The Stratford Zoo did Macbeth already and now they are back with Romeo and Juliet. I really love that the author and illustrator of this book change up the classic stories to suit animals as well as a younger audience. For example, Romeo and Juliet is full of death and young couples secretly getting married and having sex. This is changed quite a bit in this graphic novel. For example, Romeo (a rooster) and Juliet (a bear) want to have play dates and not actual dates or weddings. As for the fighting, it is included and some of the characters do die, but nothing is really shown and it's not that violent.

source
I also really love that this book includes audience commentary throughout, so you get a bit of a story within a story. There are discussions and moments happening while the play is being performed and these are shared when appropriate. It's great and quite clever, helping to tie in some of the messages of the play with real-life scenarios.

I would definitely recommend these if you want to share Shakespeare with your younger children! 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Leopold by Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer


Leopold by Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer with Pierre A. Lehu

Review by Lauren

Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Dr. Ruth's grandson, Ben, is afraid to join the soccer team. To help out, she tells him the story of Leopold the Turtle, who always stays on the shore. It terrifies him to go join the other turtles and play in the water and sun on the rocks. Leopold just can’t get out of his shell, and the longer he waits, the more he starts to doubt. Even though Leopold feels quite alone, he stays on the riverbank where it’s safe. But Freddy the Frog is a little concerned about Leopold and asks him to join them in the river. Leopold has to choose whether to brave the unknown and join his friends or to stay lonely and remain safe on land. In this charming, rhyming tale of a turtle too afraid to set foot in the river, Leopold proves that facing your fears can set you free.

Review: This is a lovely story about Dr. Ruth and her grandson, Ben, whose mom signed him up for the soccer team. Ben is worried he won't do well and he's scared to go to practice. His grandma tells him a story about Leopold the Turtle who stays on the shore in his shell, watching all the other turtles and water animals have fun without him. He's scared to venture out and see what's out there until Freddy the Frog helps me. Once he does "enter the world", he's truly happy he did! This story inspires Ben to go to soccer practice and of course...he comes home happy he went!

source
It's a simple story, but I loved the message of leaving your shell and trying new things. The illustrations by Suzanne Beaky were really well done. They were bright and eye-catching. The actual narrative is entirely in rhyme, making it a perfect book to read aloud to children!  The story of Dr. Ruth and Ben frame Leopold's story, almost making this two books in one, which is great!

I'd suggest this book for any little one in your life that might be a bit shy or scared of new things!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Post (10): I'm Late, I'm Late!!

Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer
I really meant to get this posted, or at least scheduled, at some point yesterday but my mom and I started cleaning out a lot of junk in my room. I guess it's that time of the year. You get organized and start afresh! My room is looking nice now though, so I'm glad it's mostly finished with. I still have a few bookcases I really need to go through, though I've already run through a lot of my books. I can't believe what I hold onto sometimes!

Anyone else cleaning out their rooms or houses? Purging some unneeded books? (I know, it's not always easy!)

On a different note, I like to go to as many library events as I can, especially the ones where we get to make crafts. I haven't had time to take a photo of the last project I made, so hopefully I can do that this week (as well as whatever I make tomorrow night) and share them next Sunday. I thought it would be a fun addition to Sunday Post!

Last Week on Let's Get Beyond Tolerance - my LGBT+ entertainment/news blog

Tuesday: What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (book review)

Thursday: Etsy Pride (13): Necklace and Serving Set

Saturday: Teen Wolf's Charlie Carver Comes Out 

-I have another book review for tomorrow, so be sure to stop by and check that out too!

This Week on Shooting Stars Mag

Ugh, I'm still not ahead on posts. I did so well last fall in getting ahead...at any rate, I do have lots of books I need to review so there will be at LEAST one non-fiction book review and probably another m/m romance review. We'll see on exact titles and the rest! :)

Finally...

Question - I share a lot of LGBT+ artists on my other blog; would you like me to share videos of other music I'm currently loving on Shooting Stars?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Unique Formatting Challenge: Book Ideas!


Whether you know you are taking part in the Unique Formatting Book Challenge or not, I wanted to make sure you all had a lot of book ideas that might work for you! I know some of you think you don't like different formats, but maybe something will stick out and you'll want to try! If you click the above button in the right hand sidebar, you will find the sign up post. That linky is closed - this is OKAY! Each month will be a new link up to share books for this challenge. If you link up a review, you're automatically part of the challenge. Try to reach a certain goal or just link up when you wish. I'll have giveaways every three months or so!

Adult Unique Format Books-

Night Film by Marisha Pessl- includes photos, web pages, etc.

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole - told in letters

The October List by Jeffrey Deaver - includes photos

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher - told in letters

Young Adult Unique Format Books-

The Boy Meets Girl Massacre by Ainskie Hogarth -  includes footnotes

The Truth Commisson by Susan Juby - includes footnotes and illustrations

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan - includes photos

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich - includes notes, diary entries, photos, etc.

Into the Dangerous World by Julie Chibbaro - includes illustrations

Happyface by Stephen Emond-  includes illustrations

Malice and Havoc (two different books) by Chris Wooding - includes comics throughout the narrative

Juvenile Unique Format Books-

Trial by Journal by Kate Klise - told through illustrations, newspaper articles, etc.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanha Lai - told in verse

My Secret War Diary by Marcia Williams - told in diary format with lots of pictures and illustrations

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hallowed Ground by Rebecca Yarros Excerpt Reveal

Alicia here, with a post that is veryyyy late. Ack, so sorry. To say this week has been crazy is an understatement, and tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday are going to be that x1000000. Anyways, enjoy.

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Blurb

There are some debts you can’t repay.

Josh Walker is loyal, reckless, and every girl’s dream. But he only has eyes for December Howard, the girl he's craved since his high school hockey days. Together they have survived grief, the military, distance, and time as they’ve fought for stolen weekends between his post at Ft. Rucker and her college at Vanderbilt. Now that Josh is a medevac pilot and Ember is headed toward graduation, they’re moving on—and in—together.

Ember never wanted the Army life, but loving Josh means accepting whatever the army dictates—even when that means saying goodbye as Josh heads to Afghanistan, a country that nearly killed him once before and that took her father. But filling their last days together with love, passion, and plans for their future doesn’t temper Ember’s fear, and if there’s one thing she’s learned from her father’s death, it’s that there are some obstacles even love can’t conquer.

Flight school is over.

This is war.


EXCERPT 

He skated toward me, and I paused, blown away with everything that was Josh. His hair was sweaty, water dripping down his flushed cheeks from dumping his bottle over his head. It was high school and college all jumbled together to make this magnificent man in front of me. I’d never loved him more. 
“I’ve gotten a little better since that first date, huh?” I asked with a flirtatious smile, skating backward just because I could.
“You’ve always been perfect.” That grin was enough to melt me despite the temperature of the ice.
“Did you have fun?”
“Yes. I can’t believe you did that for me.” His eyes were warm, letting his love for me shine.
“It’s your dream.”
He shook his head and took my hands in his much warmer ones. “No. It used to be my dream. And as hard as I worked for it, and as difficult as it was to let go, I can’t thank you enough for what you did for me. This”—he glanced at the empty seats and bright lights— “has been more than I could have ever imagined.”
“I’m glad. You deserve it.”
“The jersey, the game, hearing my name, it was amazing. But what made it perfect was seeing you against the glass like we were in high school again. Remembering every time I told myself not to get close to someone as good as you are. Thinking back to that day in college when I told you I was going to chase you. Feeling the warmth of your hand over mine seeping through the glass during the championship. Recalling every time I wanted to kiss you, hold you, tell you how much I love you. I have that now, and you, December, are what made this perfect, because you are all that matters to me now.”






 **VIEW THE Hallowed Ground TRAILER HERE: https://vimeo.com/148520997 **





New Military Romance from Rebecca Yarros in Hallowed Ground (Book Four) of the
 Flight & Glory Series releasing January 25th!

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1NeMPn1

About the Author




Rebecca Yarros is a hopeless romantic and lover of all things chocolate, coffee, and Paleo. In addition to being a mom, military wife, and blogger, she can never choose between Young Adult and New Adult fiction, so she writes both. She's a graduate of Troy University, where she studied European history and English, but still holds out hope for an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Her blog, The Only Girl Among Boys, has been voted the Top Military Mom Blog the last two years, and celebrates the complex issues surrounding the military life she adores.

When she's not writing, she's tying on hockey skates for her kids, or sneaking in some guitar time. She is madly in love with her army-aviator husband of eleven years. They finally can call Colorado home along with their gaggle of rambunctious kiddos and snoring English Bulldog.

Stalk Rebecca here: