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Friday, October 20, 2017

Review: A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

Title: A Column of Fire
Author: Ken Follett 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Viking
Publish Date: September 12, 2017
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "In 1558, the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, royalty and commoners clash, testing friendship, loyalty, and love.

Ned Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious conflict dividing the country, Ned goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England. The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions, and invasion plans. Over a turbulent half century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. Elizabeth clings to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents.

The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else—no matter what the cost."


My Two Cents:

"A Column of Fire" is the third book in Ken Follett's Kingsbridge series. I have not read the first two books but after reading this one, I really want to go back to read those two books as well as some of Follett's other books! That being said, this book works rather well as a standalone book. Standing at over 900 pages, you are in Follett's very capable hands so the pages fly by! This is a historical fiction epic.

The book takes place during a tumultuous time in England's history: the late 1500s and early 1600s. The country is going through a major identity crisis as to whether it is a Catholic or a Protestant country. Should everyone be in the same mold or can they have more freedom? Who is the rightful ruler of the country? Who can that ruler trust?

This was a time period that was familiar to me but what I appreciated is that for the most part, Follett's characters are just on the edge of history. We meet rulers through them like Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots. We see how calculated each move must be for even these edge-of-history characters in order to be on the "right" side at the "right" time.

This book is action packed and kept me on my toes. In some ways, it reminds me of a soap opera. There's a huge cast but each character has their own unique story. Large casts can often be an issue for me because of the likelihood of characters blending together but Follett really does a good job of creating different storylines that intertwine in surprising ways.

This was a great read!


 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Review: Glow by Megan E. Bryant

Title: Glow
Author: Megan E. Bryant
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Albert Whitman Company
Publish Date: September 1, 2017
Source: PR



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "When thrift-store aficionado Julie discovers a series of antique paintings with hidden glowing images that are only visible in the dark, she wants to learn more about the artist. In her search, she uncovers a century-old romance and the haunting true story of the Radium Girls, young women who used radioactive paint to make the world's first glow-in-the-dark products—and ultimately became radioactive themselves. As Julie’s obsession with the paintings mounts, truths about the Radium Girls—and her own complicated relationships—are revealed. But will she uncover the truth about the luminous paintings before putting herself and everyone she loves at risk?"

My Two Cents:

"Glow" is a dual timeline story about Julie, a young artist with a penchant for finding interesting things in thrift stores, and three sisters living during World War I who all get jobs painting dials of clocks for the troops overseas. This practice uses radium, which at the time was seen as actually having health benefits although we recognize it as being quite harmful these days.

There has been a crop of books that have come out over the past few years that have been about the infamous radium girls. In this book, the historical story of the sisters working in the factory takes a backseat to the modern story of Julie discovering the historical mystery. While we get to hear directly from Julie in a more forward fashion, the story of the radium girls in this book is told through letters and diary entries, which while interesting made the history feel further away. I wanted to know so much more about the sisters and what they thought about what they were going through in the factory and about the choices they made even when those choices could prove to be dangerous.

Although the focus on the modern day story does takes precedence over the historical story, there is still some really interesting historical facts. I just wanted more there. I wanted to get to know the historical characters better and wanted more detail about their lives and the difficulties they faced from working in the factory.

This book is geared for young adult readers and while mystery lovers will enjoy how Julie uncovers the secrets of the past, this book only gives you a tiny taste of the story of the radium girls but that taste is still good.


 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Review: The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough

Title:  The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For
Author: David McCullough
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Publish Date: April 2017
Source: Library



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Over the course of his distinguished career, David McCullough has spoken before Congress, the White House, colleges and universities, historical societies, and other esteemed institutions. Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American. The American Spirit reminds us of core American values to which we all subscribe, regardless of which region we live in, which political party we identify with, or our ethnic background. This is a book about America for all Americans that reminds us who we are and helps to guide us as we find our way forward."
  
My Two Cents:

I didn't realize what "The American Spirit" was about really when I picked it up but David McCullough is one of my very favorite historians and he is definitely on my automatic read list. This book is filled with speeches that the author has given everywhere from in front of Congress to commencement speeches in front of college students. This book is filled with inspiration and stories of parts of American history that it was good to be reminded of as well as stories that I was unfamiliar with.

This book is good for both those are familiar with McCullough's work and those that are not. Those that are familiar with McCullough will appreciate his special brand of storytelling that his fans are familiar with. His ability to link stories together into lessons for today and the future is fantastic. Those not familiar with all of these things are in for a treat as they experience him for the first time.

The speeches in this book are really good and touch a lot of different subjects. This book is good balm for these recent times when things seem so off kilter, strange, and strained in our country. I enjoyed this book!


 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Satellite by Nick Lake

Title: Satellite
Author: Nick Lake
Format: ARC
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: October 3, 2017
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "He’s going to a place he’s never been before: home.

Moon 2 is a space station that orbits approximately 250 miles above Earth. It travels 17,500 miles an hour, making one full orbit every ninety minutes. It’s also the only home that fifteen-year-old Leo and two other teens have ever known.

Born and raised on Moon 2, Leo and the twins, Orion and Libra, are finally old enough and strong enough to endure the dangerous trip to Earth. They’ve been “parented” by teams of astronauts since birth and have run countless drills to ready themselves for every conceivable difficulty they might face on the flight.

But has anything really prepared them for life on terra firma? Because while the planet may be home to billions of people, living there is more treacherous than Leo and his friends could ever have imagined, and their very survival will mean defying impossible odds.
"


My Two Cents:

"Satellite" is the story of Leo who was born on a space station. He wasn't supposed to be born there but his mother's circumstances made it so she didn't find out she was pregnant until she was in space and it would have been too much for her and the baby to reenter the Earth's atmosphere. The small space station is the only home that Leo has ever known. Now, his body may be finally developed enough to go home.

This was a really interesting premise. Every once in awhile there seems to be talk of humans someday being able to live in space on various planets (I'm looking at you, Mars). This book takes this idea and turn it on its head. Leo and the twins Orion and Libra are not supposed to live in space but they end up being the first humans to do so and it's not at all what the space agency involved expected.

This is a coming of age story with a twist. Leo thinks he knows the whole story as to how and why he's on the space station but he finds out that there is much more. The adults in his life haven't told the whole story. I really liked how the author was able to slowly drop clues to keep you wanting to read about the true reason that Leo, Orion, and Libra are on the space station. This was a good read that would appeal to young adult readers who like sci fi.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Review: Mischling by Affinity Konar

Title: Mischling
Author: Affinity Konar
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Lee Boudreaux Books 
Publish Date: September 6, 2016
Source: Library






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Pearl is in charge of: the sad, the good, the past.

Stasha must care for: the funny, the future, the bad.

It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.

As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.

That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion Feliks--a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin--travel through Poland's devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, or the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it."


My Two Cents:

"Mischling" is the story of two identical twin sisters who are sent to Auschwitz during World War II  with their mother and grandfather. As they are twins and identical twins at that, the infamous Dr. Joseph Mengele becomes incredibly interested in studying them in the concentration camp. Pearl and Stasha see themselves as two sides of the same coin. It means they share in the good but that they also must share the bad, which makes Mengele's experiments more insidious than they already were (hard to imagine to be sure).

Being the mother of identical twins, this book definitely frightened me and made me think a lot. I really like the way that the author was able to capture capture the bond between both of the sisters. It's through their incredible bond that they're able to protect their minds from all that they see in the concentration camp. It's incredibly powerful and definitely made me sad in a lot of places. This is the first fictional book that I have read that takes on Mengele's experiments and it is frightening!

The author uses a lot of detail which while uncomfortable, gives you a good sense of what people went through with regard to human experimentation. The narrative is divided up by the twins and how they see things a little differently, which I thought was good touch and definitely engaged me.

This book is very powerful and it's definitely a book that I have been thinking about long since I got to the last page.


 


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: We Can't Be Friends: A True Story by Cyndy Drew Etler

Title: We Can't Be Friends: A True Story
Author: Cyndy Drew Etler 
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: October 1, 2017
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "For the readers of GO ASK ALICE, TWEAK, and DEAR NOBODY, Etler details her turbulent readjustment to life at home and high school after spending sixteen months in Straight, Inc. Advertised as a rehab program for troubled teens, in reality, Straight subjected Cyndy and her fellow Straightlings to cultlike brainwashing and bizarre “treatment” methods. There was no privacy, no freedom, and no room for error. But when Cyndy is finally released, she discovers she’s living by an entirely different set of rules than her peers. What new extremes will she go to in order to fit in?"

My Two Cents:

"We Can't Be Friends" is the story of Cyndy, who ends up in Straight Inc. as a young teenager. Straight Inc. is billed as being a way to rehab kids so that they never do drugs or drink again but the program has a dark side. The program relies on some pretty harsh tactics and the reader is left questioning what cost Cyndy's sobriety (if you can really call what she was doing before an issue) came at.

I felt so much for Cyndy throughout this book. Because of some of the sort of brainwashing she goes through in Straight, she seems to have a lot of issues functioning in the real world once she's there again. She is constantly worried about the people around her and whether or not they are going to lead her back into addiction. This prevents her from making a lot of the connections that are so important to getting through the teenage years.

I had never heard about Straight before this book and it was terrifying. I think we can all agree that rehab is necessary and a good thing to have access to but Straight often seemed to hurt more than help. It was really eye opening to see what Cyndy went through.

I did wish that the book would have talked more about some of the specific tactics that Straight used to better understand some of what happens later on in the book. The Straight part goes by very quickly and the book mostly has to do with happened after. Overall, this was an interesting picture into a world that was unfamiliar to me!



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Review: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Title: Home Fire
Author: Kamila Shamsie
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publish Date: August 15, 2017
Source: Library



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.

Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?"


My Two Cents:

In "Home Fire," Isma, Aneeka, and Parvaiz grew up without parents. Isma feels like she is finally free from having to care for her siblings and she flees England to go to school in America. Aneeka and Parvaiz are twins and Aneeka very much seems to find her identity in their twinhood and going to school. Parvaiz is looking for something more. He wants to understand his father, who he never knew and who has been branded by the country Parvaiz now calls home as a terrorist. This journey will lead him down a dangerous path where there may be no return from.

This book has so many twists and turns and really kept me on my toes. In addition to the story of the siblings, there is the story of the new Home Secretary and his son. The new Home Secretary is of Muslim descent and is seeking to show that he is tough on extremists. His son is seeking his own life outside of his father's shadow. The Home Secretary's family and the siblings will clash in unbelievable ways that really shake this book up.

This book has a lot of universal themes, which makes for a lot of its appeal. You have the siblings questioning what they will do for family. You have several of the characters questioning their identities and what makes who we are as individuals. There is so much to mull over and this book is one that really sticks with you.

There were a lot of parts of this book that were quite shocking but the ending, oh, the ending. I really, really don't want to give anything away but the ending is one of those that you have to read a few times just because it is so shocking. It doesn't exactly give you closure but in this case, the ending really works well.


 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

HFVBT Interview: Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, Authors of "Last Christmas in Paris"

I am very excited to welcome Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, Authors of "Last Christmas in Paris," here to A Bookish Affair.











Why do you think people are still so drawn to Paris today?


The City of Lights is the epitome of romance, and Paris is synonymous with love. The architecture, the culture, the food, the wine, the beautiful gardens - what’s not to love about that?! As a location for our novel, Paris offered the perfect blend of associations with romance and the First World War.

What inspired you both to write "Last Christmas in Paris?"
We had worked together on an anthology, Fall of Poppies, during 2015 and as that was nearing completion we both felt there was more we wanted to write about the war, and how a generation was so deeply affected by it. After a frenzied exchange over Facebook Messenger the concept for a co-written epistolary novel, told from the point of view of a young man at the Front and a young woman back in England, developed really quickly.

What was it like working with a co-author?
For each of us, this was the first time we’d worked with another author to write a novel, so it was an exciting and daunting prospect. There is a huge amount of trust and commitment involved on both sides and from the very beginning we were both so excited about this idea and our story and characters. There was something really special about having someone to bounce ideas off and work through plot along the way. From the moment we first heard the book had sold, right through the news of many foreign rights deals and stellar early reviews, we have loved having someone to celebrate it and share it all with. We made each other laugh and cry a lot along the way and it has been a truly rewarding experience. So much so that we hope to write together again. Watch this space!

What is each of your favorite scenes in the book?
Hazel loves the very last scene in Paris. It was so emotional to write, not only because it was the culmination of the story, but because it came with the realisation that we had done what we’d set out to do, and written a book we were both so very proud of.

Heather also loves that scene best, with a close second being the flurry of telegrams when Tom returns to London mid-war to visit his father and Evie. The dancing, the drives, the fancy dinners and laughs between them. We were first really beginning to develop their feelings for each other there, and that was so much fun to write! I think we sped through that section of the book with our hearts and heads on fire!

If you could bring three people, fictional or non-fictional, with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?
We would bring Tom, Evie and Alice from Last Christmas in Paris because in writing them, they became so real to us and it would be quite something to hang out with people who were formed purely from imagination! Also, they really need a vacation

Monday, October 9, 2017

HFVBT Review: Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Title: Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I
Authors: Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Format: ARC
Publisher: William Morrow 
Publish Date: October 3, 2017
Source: HFVBT


What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?"


My Two Cents:

"Last Christmas in Paris" is the story of love that lasts through time. Evie only starts to write to Tom because he's her brother's best friend and she can't imagine having him think that no one is thinking of him while he is off fighting the war. As the war changes everyone, everywhere, and everything else they know, Evie and Tom both live for each other's letters. This epistolary novel had me turning the pages to see what would happen next!

I love epistolary novels (novels written through letters) because it allows you to jump right into the action. Not only are Evie and Tom's letters to each other included in the book but the letters between them and other secondary characters, including Will, Tom's best friend and Evie's brother. This allows us to see the story from all sides. The letters between Tom and Evie were interesting to follow as their relationship develops and changes. I also especially loved reading the letters talking about what was going on in the war and how each character played their part.

World War I is still not a subject that I seem to visit all that often in historical fiction but it's books like this that make me want to come back to it more, especially in light of what our world is going through now. There seems to be the echoes of this history today. The letters give readers a good sense of how people were feeling and what people were seeing throughout the war. You really get front row seat.

I would be remiss to not mention the romance between Tom and Evie. They start out as friends and their relationship takes all sorts of twists and turns that kept me cheering for them throughout the story. Their love will give you butterflies!

This is the warm kind of novel that you want to dive into when the weather starts to turn cool and you need something heartwarming! I enjoyed it!


 

Friday, October 6, 2017

TLC Book Tours: Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

Title: Caroline: Little House, Revisited
Author: Sarah Miller 
Format: ARC
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: September 19, 2017
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins 






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.

The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses."


My Two Cents:

"Caroline: Little House, Revisited" is the story of Caroline Ingalls, the beloved Ma from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books. I loved those books growing up and always remember Ma seeming like the rock of the family as the Ingalls family faced the trials and tribulations of life as pioneers. This book gives a little more insight into what made Caroline tick and how strong she truly was. While this book will especially appeal to readers of the Little House books, Caroline will find a lot of new fans among historical fiction fans who want a portrait of a strong woman.

This book begins when the Ingalls family is getting ready to leave all they've known in Wisconsin. Charles and Caroline are deeply in love but have differing views as to whether or not to leave their families. They have two young children and Caroline can't imagine not having her family around to help with the children but she knows how important going west and settling land is to Charles so she goes. What I loved about this book is that we get so much more of Caroline's own story: how she grew up and how she wants her kids to grow up. Caroline is ALL THE MOM GOALS for me. Even when the going gets tough, she remains a calm, steady presence.

In the Little House books, she and Charles seem to have a pretty perfect relationship filled with love. This book gives us a much more nuanced portrait of their marriage. We see how Caroline compromises and how she and Charles work together for the good of their family. Although their roles are clearly defined, they are really good partners, which I loved reading about.

I really enjoyed this book and loved revisiting the Ingalls family.


 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

HFVBT Review: Twilight Empress by Faith L Justice

Title: Twilight Empress
Author: Faith L Justice
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Raggedy Moon
Publish Date: May 8, 2017
Source: HFVBT



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "One woman battles the coming Dark Ages. "Twilight Empress" tells the little-known story of a remarkable woman: Placidia, sister to one of the last Roman Emperors. Roman Empress and Gothic Queen, Placidia does the unthinkable: she rules the failing Western Roman Empire. A life of ambition, power, and intrigue she doesn't seek, but can't refuse, her actions shape the face of Western Europe for centuries. A woman as well as an empress, Placidia suffers love, loss, and betrayal. Can her intelligence, tenacity, and ambition help her survive and triumph over scheming generals, rebellious children, and Attila the Hun?"

My Two Cents:

In "Twilight Empress," Rome, once seen as unshakeable, is falling. Placidia becomes Empress at a time where Rome's power is slowly leaking. Never fully wanting power, Placidia steps up to the plate to rule Rome and try to take it back to stable ground. It's a fascinating story of a powerful woman and one that I was not really familiar with before.

This book covers a lot of what Placidia does to rule the empire and how she tries to consolidate power once again through various political alliances. And while all of this is interesting in itself, I was also interested in Placidia as a person. Here is a woman that tries to put on a brave face about the duties thrust upon her. Meanwhile she is trying to be a good mother to her children. I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between Placidia and her children. Oh boy, does she have her hands full in many different ways. As a mother myself, I found a lot of comfort in the idea that there are universal things like sibling rivalry that a mother must deal with (even when she doesn't have an empire to rule). The juxtaposition between Placidia trying to keep both her empire and her family together was interesting.

I really liked reading the descriptions of Rome in decline, just because it's a view that I haven't seen very often. I feel like most of my bookish jaunts to Ancient Rome have been in its heyday and this Rome was much different. The descriptions were good! 


Overall, this was a good read that gave me a new perspective. It was a promising start to a new series!


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Review: Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives by Adam J. Kurtz

Title: Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives
Author: Adam J. Kurtz 
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Tarcherperigree
Publish Date: October 3, 2017 (Today!)
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "From the creative mind and heart of Adam J. Kurtz comes this quirky, upbeat rallying cry for creators of all stripes. Expanding on a series of popular guides he's created for Design*Sponge, this handwritten and heartfelt little book shares wisdom and empathy from one working artist to others. The advice is organized by topic, including:
(How to) Get Over Comparing Yourself to Other Creatives
Seeking & Accepting Help from Others
How to Get Over Common Creative Fears (Maybe)
How to Be Happy (or Just Happier)
As wry and cheeky as it is empathic and empowering, this deceptively simple, vibrantly full-color book will be a touchstone for writers, illustrators, designers, and anyone else who wants to be more creative--even when it would be easier to give up act normal."


My Two Cents:

"Things Are What You Make of Them" is the perfect chicken soup for the creative soul. No matter what form your creativity takes, we all know that every once in awhile you can use a boost, which is exactly what this book gives you.

Through equal doses of wit, wisdom, and inspiration, Kurtz reaches out to the creatives of all kinds. He encapsulates why we do what we do and how we can better serve our art and let it better serve us. While some of the advice is straight forward and probably close to many things that you've heard before, it is nice to have it in this nice, neat package for when you need a kick to get you going again.

As I think towards the holiday season (October is when I have the best intentions to start holiday shopping), I can think of a few friends who I'd love to get this book for. It would be a great gift for any of your creative friends who need a little bit of inspiration to help drive them forward.  



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Review: Cookiesaurus Rex by Amy Fellner Dominy, Nate Evans, A.G. Ford (Illustrations)

Title: Cookiesaurus Rex 
Authors: Amy Fellner Dominy, Nate Evans, A.G. Ford (Illustrations)
Format: ARC
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: September 26, 2017
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "As soon as Cookiesaurus Rex comes out of the oven, he declares that he is King of All Cookies. He should be frosted before all of the standard-shaped cookies, in a nice bright green. But the other cookies are getting sprinkles, or shiny stars, or even gumdrops . . . WAIT ONE STINKIN' STOMPIN' MINUTE! Cookiesaurus wants a do-over. Problem is, he might not end up with the kind of "do" he wants. Readers will love the funny back-and-forth between this cheeky cookie and the hand that frosts him. See who gets his licks in at the end!"

My Two Cents:

"Cookiesaurus Rex" is the story of the biggest, baddest cookie of them all. Cookiesaurus Rex is a cookie shaped like a t-rex. All Cookiesaurus wants is frosting befitting his self-styled moniker: king of all the cookies. This is a funny book with great illustrations all about a little cookie with a bad attitude.

Cookiesaurus begs to be decorated ferociously while the decorator decorates him as everything from a ballerina to a clown. My girls and I giggled at Cookiesaurus's hijinks. This was a really fun book that my whole family enjoyed! We'll definitely think of all of our future cookie decorating endeavors in a very different way.

The illustrations in this book are great! My girls are really into dinosaurs and they got a kick out of seeing Cookiesaurus dressed up all sorts of different ways. This was a fun read!


 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Reading Challenges 2017 - September Check In!

Here's where I am with my reading challenges! 
Here is the original post about all of the reading challenges I'm taking on. The date listed after each book is the date I completed the book. 





PopSugar Monthly Challenge

  • January (A book with one of the four seasons in the title ): Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell (1/25)
  • February (A book by a person of color): Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang (2/15) 
  • March: A book about an interesting woman: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (3/25) 
  • April (A book with an unreliable narrator): We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (4/6)
  • May (A novel set during wartime ): The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan (5/6)
  • June (A book involving travel): News of the World by Paulette Jiles (6/18)
  • July: A book set in two different time periods : The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (7/27) 
  • August: A book set in the wilderness: American Wolf by Nate Blankslee (8/27) 
  • September: Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley (9/2) 

 PopSugar Ultimate Reading Challenge Basic

  •  A book recommended by a librarian: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (1/19)
  • A book you loved as a child: Matilda by Roald Dahl (1/12)
  • A book with a subtitle: Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 – A World on the Edge  by Helen Rappaport (2/3)
  • A book that's published in 2017: The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (2/5)
  • A book with a red spine: Stalin's Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan (2/8)
  • A book of letters: 100 Love Notes by Hyong Yi (2/13) 
  • A book about food: A Square Meal by Jane Ziegelman, Andrew Coe (2/27)
  • A book written by someone you admire: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (3/1) 
  • A book by an author from a country you've never visited: Havana Real by Yoani Sanchez (3/5)
  • A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you: Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (3/5) 
  • A novel set during wartime:The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff (3/10) 
  • A book set in two different time periods: A Bridge Across the Ocean bySusan Meissner (3/12)
  • A book with a cat on the cover: A Few of the Girls by Maeve Binchy (3/14)
  • A book by or about a person who has a disability: The Secret Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach (3/14)
  • A book about an interesting woman: Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (3/22)
  • A book with pictures: Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher (3/28)
  • A book by a person of color: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (3/31)
  • A book with a title that's a character's name: The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (4/1)
  • A book from a nonhuman perspective: Watership Down by Richard Adams (4/13)
  • A book involving travel: The Gods of Tango by Carolina de Robertis (4/19)
  • A book set in the wilderness: The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
  • A book with multiple authors: I Hate Everyone but You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin (8/23)
  • A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (9/26) 

Pop Sugar Ultimate Reading Challenge Advanced 

  • A book about an immigrant or refugee: The Radius of Us by Marie Marquadt (1/23)
  • A book about a difficult topic: Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen (3/2) 
  • A book with an eccentric character: Eggshells by Catriona Lally (3/14)  
  • An audiobook: Identical by Ellen Hopkins (5/1)
  • A book recommended by an author you love: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (6/28) 
  • A book from a genre/subgenre you've never heard of: Perilous Undertaking by Leanna Renee Hieber (7/12) 

Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge

  • Read a debut novel: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (1/6)
  • Read an all ages comic: Scenes from an Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine (1/14)
  • Read a book you've read before: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1/19)
  • Read a book about war: Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese (1/29)
  • Read a fantasy novel.: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (1/31)
  • Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.: The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams 2/9)
  • Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (3/11)
  • Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.: Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley (3/23) 
  • Read a book about books: A World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan (3/26) 
  • Read a book published by a micropress: Concepcion and the Baby Brokers by Deborah Clearman (4/6)
  • Read a travel memoir: Schadenfreude by Rebecca Schuman (4/18)
  • Read a book published between 1900 and 1950: I Change Worlds by Anna Louise Strong
  • Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  • Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (5/5)
  •  Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.: Odes to Common Things by Pablo Neruda (5/12) 
  • Read a book about sports: Moneyball by Michael Lewis (6/6)

Curious Iguana's Read Broader
  • Peek into the Past: Putin Country by Anne Garrels (1/7)
  • Justice for All: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (2/1)
  • Justice for All: Excellent Daughters by Katherine Zoepf (2/6)
  • Choose Your Own Category (Global Voices): The Chosen Maiden (3/5) 
  • LGBTQ+ Perspectives: Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt (3/20)
  • Choose Your Own Category (Global Voices): The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George (3/20)
  • Choose Your Own Category (Justice for All): One Child by Mei Fong
  • Choose Your Own Category (Justice for All): Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
  • Armchair Adventures: Kindred by Octavia Butler (5/7)
  • Global Voices: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (6/1) 
  • Small Press Works in Translation: Before the Feast by Sara Stanisic (6/5)
  • Choose Your Own Category (Peek Into the Past): Bears in the Streets by Lisa Dickey (6/15) 
  • Armchair Adventures: Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian (7/1) 
  • Collections Near and Far: Whatever happened to interracial love? By Kathleen Collins (7/22)
  • Peek into the Past: The Black Calhouns by Gail Lumet Buckley (7/23)
  • Global Voices: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (7/24)
  • LGBTQ+ Perspectives: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North (7/25)
  • Collections Near and Far: Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli (7/26) 

Challenge Totals:
  • January: 10 books
  • February: 9 books
  • March: 19 books 
  • April: 11 books
  • May: 5 books
  • June: 6 books 
  • July: 8 books 
  • August: 2 books 
  • September: 2 books

How did it go?

Slowly but surely wins the race. I'm just happy I've stuck it out for this long.    
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