Sunday, September 30, 2018

DNF&Y [9]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

Love and Other Secrets (The First Kiss
Hypothesis, #2) by Christina Mandelski

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Star lacrosse player Alex “Kov” Koviak has it all. Or so everyone thinks. He’s real good at pretending his life is perfect...until he meets Bailey. The girl challenges him and pushes him and makes him laugh like he’s never laughed before. Their friendship is their little secret, and he’s happy to keep her to himself.

Between sc
hool, two jobs, and trying to get into NYU film school, Bailey Banfield has zero time for a social life. But then she meets Alex in her express lane at the grocery store, and their secret friendship becomes the only place she can breathe. She refuses to complicate that with more. No matter how charming Alex can be.

When Bailey decides to film outrageous promposals for her NYU application, she enlists Alex’s help to plan an over-the-top, epic promposal to someone else. Too bad the only prom date Alex wants anywhere near Bailey is him.

For a guy who seems to have it all, he’s about to lose the only thing he’s ever wanted.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Crush contains a cocky lacrosse player in over his head with his secret best friend, unexpected midnight kisses, swoon-worthy slow dancing, and movie-night cuddling that’ll make you ache. You’re going to want an Alex of your own!
"At the door, I peek through the glass to make sure there really isn’t a girl outside waiting for me with a gassy mythological creature."
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. 

DNF at 53%

Firstly, I had no idea this was the second book in a series. However, the book read well as a standalone, and I was never confused by the story. Secondly, I have a hard time when a single honest conversation can solve everyone's problems. Bailey and Alex like each other but constantly fight their connection because they don't think the other person feels the same way. I was okay with their dance for the first half of the book, but I really thought things would change after they kissed.

Things did not change after they kissed. Instead, everything became more awkward, and they looked for more reasons to justify their silence while wallowing in self-pity. He would make assumptions about her and she would do the same to him. After awhile, I just couldn't do it anymore. 

The story was enjoyable (except for the lack of communication), and the characters were interesting. I originally thought Alex would get on my nerves, but he was a decent guy trying to do the right thing. Bailey is hardworking and determined to reach her goals, while simultaneously trying to navigate her friendship with Alex. They made a good team, so it was even more frustrating when they refused to admit their feelings for one another. 

I also wish the secondary characters had been more involved in the story, because I found a few of them to be really interesting (maybe they have a bigger focus in the previous book?). I enjoyed the setup and the idea of promposals, but the lack of communication really bugged me. 

For a second opinion, check out Sam's (We Live and Breathe Books) review on Goodreads!

Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava
Quartet, #1) by Roshani Chokshi
Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from their latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty,
traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

DNF after two-ish hours 

This was one of my most anticipated reads, so I was really disappointed when it didn't work out. I went into this one thinking it would have a Percy Jackson-vibe, but it's not fair to compare the two.  Also, children are mean. Her "friends" from school were a horrible influence, and treated Aru with disinterest and cruelty. Aru lies nonstop, but if that wasn't bad enough... she's also given up what she enjoys so she can impress kids that will never accept her.

I thought the author wove a lot of rich history and mythology into this story, which I found fascinating, but Aru was just unlikable. She wanted the rich, popular kids to like her, so she sacrificed pieces of herself to do it. Even when they weren't around, she had unkind thoughts about her "sister" and companions. She didn't like it when people whispered about her heritage and clothing, but she was more than willing to pick someone else apart. Bratty is how I would describe Aru.

Maybe she grows throughout the story... I don't know. I didn't stick around to find out. The gods and goddesses were equally as childish, and offered no real incentive for me to continue the story. They've been around for centuries, but kindness is beyond the realm of possibility.

Again, I really wanted to like this one, and I've seen a lot of positive reviews for it (see Nicole's from Feed Your Fiction Addiction), but it wasn't a good fit for me.


Seeking Fate (The Fated, #3) 
by Brenda Drake
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Fate changer Daisy Layne is nervous about searching Europe for a firstborn son doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday. But she’s the only one who can save him. No pressure or anything. She needs the help of guide Andrei Vasile, who she’s been talking to online for two years. Still, meeting him in person…that’s a whole different story.

Andrei is determined to keep Daisy safe, even if touching her could kill him. At least, that’s what his family has told him about fate changers like Daisy. She’s strong and beautiful, and it’s his job to keep her alive. Unfortunately, what she doesn’t know could kill her.

Save a life. End a curse. And never, ever get too close… 

DNF at 16%

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. 

Despite being told I could read this as a stand-alone, I just wasn't feeling it. I never felt invested in the story or the characters, and they felt awkward. I'm not sure if awkward is even the right word... but something didn't click for me. I tried reading it over a few days, but then gave up.

I wish some of the scenes had been explained with more details. One minute they're sitting down to dinner, and the next Daisy is wanting to undo the top button of her pants. What happened at dinner? How was the conversation? These were people she'd been communicating with online for years, but we don't get to see how they act face-to-face. Andrei was also praising his grandmother's Romanian cooking, but not a single dish was described. 

Then there was the foreshadowing of conflict... it just appeared out of thin air. I was getting used to the characters flitting from one thought to the next, like they said what they were thinking at all times, but Andrei's sleuthing skills were unexpected and unfounded. It takes him a glance and a quick conversation via text to learn about a secret society some members of his family are a part of, and of course they want to kill Daisy. It was suuuuper random. In the end, it just wasn't a good fit for me.

The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away
by Ronald L. Smith
Expected publication: February 19, 2019
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Twelve-year-old Simon is obsessed with aliens. The ones who take people and do experiments. When he's too worried about them to sleep, he listens to the owls hoot outside. Owls that have the same eyes as aliens—dark and foreboding. 

Then something strange happens on a camping trip, and Simon begins to suspect he’s been abducted. But is it real, or just the overactive imagination of a kid who loves fantasy and role-playing games and is the target of bullies and his father’s scorn?

Even readers who don’t believe in UFOs will relate to the universal kid feeling of not being taken seriously by adults that deepens this deliciously scary tale. 

DNF at 7%

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. 

I really struggled with Simon's voice. My eyes actually hurt from all the rolling they did. He was really obnoxious and spent way too much time explaining things that did not need to be explained. I understand that some people might not be familiar with the military and how it works, but there were way too many details. He would also repeat information from a previous page, and most of the time it was about something insignificant. 

I think this book sheds a negative light on military families and their children. I'm sure it's not easy for some to move around a lot, but not all families are like that. Some children enjoy moving and having the opportunity to see new things and make more friends. There are also families that request to stay in the same place so their kids can finish school. Simon makes it seem like he was forever scarred by the thought of moving. Again, I'm sure there are people that don't like it, but Simon's version was too unbelievable. I didn't feel sorry for him, or want to understand his feelings.

Also, for a book about aliens, this kid talks about his military childhood nonstop. Additionally, Simon knows really off-the-wall information, but then doesn't know the basics. He was able to describe his asthma and the medication with precision, yet the doctors used "white stuff" when he had an attack. One reviewer said he didn't know what sour cream was (didn't get that far myself), but he can tell you every detail about Area 51.

After a few chapters, I just couldn't do it anymore. I didn't even get to the owls and aliens, which is a bummer. I was really looking forward to this one, and I thought it would be fun to read to my son, but it's going to get a hard no from me. 

Lulu the Broadway Mouse 
by Jenna Gavigan
Expected publication: October 9th 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Ratatouille meets Broadway in this charming new middle grade novel about a little mouse with big dreams.

Lulu is a little girl with a very big dream: she wants to be on Broadway. She wants it more than anything in the world. As it happens, she lives in Broadway's Shubert Theatre; so achieving her dream shouldn't be too tricky, right? Wrong. Because the thing about Lulu? She's a little girl mouse.

When a human girl named Jayne joins the cast of the show at the Shubert as an understudy, Lulu becomes Jayne's guide through the world of her theatre and its wonderfully kooky cast and crew. Together, Jayne and Lulu learn that sometimes dreams turn out differently than we imagined; sometimes they come with terms and conditions (aka the company mean girl, Amanda). But sometimes, just when we've given up all hope, bigger and better dreams than we'd ever thought could come true, do.

DNF at 7%

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. 

I'm okay with suspending some belief, but not all of it. If you're familiar with the theater and how it works, Lulu the Broadway Mouse might be a good fit, but a lot of the content was new to me. The author also includes a lot of references to past plays, but the only one I recognized was Frozen.

I didn't realize Lulu was going to be working with actual humans, and handing them their fake eyelashes. Her personality was also a lot to swallow. She's very, very peppy. I could practically feel her bouncing through the words.

I do think this is one people will enjoy, but it wasn't my cup of tea. I was unfamiliar with the content and the setting, and the author doesn't really do much to make me feel comfortable with it. Again, it may be more for people that frequent the theater, or have personal experience with it.

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness,
Rovina Cai (Illustrator)

Synopsis (via Goodreads): With harpoons strapped to their backs, the proud whales of Bathsheba's pod live for the hunt, fighting in the ongoing war against the world of men. When they attack a ship bobbing on the surface of the Abyss, they expect to find easy prey. Instead, they find the trail of a myth, a monster, perhaps the devil himself...

As their relentless Captain leads the chase, they embark on a final, vengeful hunt, one that will forever change the worlds of both whales and men.

DNF after a few chapters

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Admittedly, I've never read Moby Dick, but I do know what the book is about. I'm pretty sure I even did a paper on it in high school (yes, I wrote papers without reading the book first). I thought the author's flipped perspective would be interesting, and I was hoping it would also make the story more relatable.

Unfortunately, I struggled with the whale's point of view. At least I think it was a whale's perspective based on the synopsis and other reviews I've seen. It was really hard to tell when the whale had very human-like behaviors. What whale can strap a harpoon to its back? How would that even work? I know flippers are supposed to be dexterous, but c'mon. After the harpoon comment, a group of whales is pulling a ship behind them, but that didn't make sense either.

The writing is pretty, and I'm sure there are Ness and Moby Dick fans out there that will enjoy this, but And the Ocean Was Our Sky wasn't a good fit for me. If I have to re-read the first part of a book three times, it means I'm not connecting with the story or the characters.

If you would like to see a different perspective, please visit Shannon at It Starts at Midnight!

Things I'd Rather Do Than Die
by Christine Hurley Deriso
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Jade Fulton and Ethan Garrett are opposites in every sense of the word. Ethan is an all-American poster boy—a star athlete dating the most popular girl in school and a devout Christian. Jade keeps mostly to herself. She abhors joining “things,” hates everyone at their high school except her best friend, Gia, and considers herself agnostic.

When Ethan and Jade find themselves locked in an aerobics room overnight, their confinement forces them to push past the labels they’ve given each other. Jock. Loner. Jesus freak. Skeptic. Golden boy. Intellectual. Amid hours of arguing, philosophizing, and silly game playing, Ethan and Jade learn there's a lot more to the other person than meets the eye.

After that night, life returns to normal and each goes back to their regular lives. Still, neither one can shake the unexpected bond they formed and they can’t help but question what they’ve been taught to believe, who they want to be, and where their hearts truly lie.

DNF after 10%

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. 

I enjoy books that touch on different religions and beliefs, and I actually thought Ethan would offer a unique perspective we don't often see in YA books. However, I do have a problem when it feels like the religion or beliefs addressed in the story are being crammed down my throat. Jesus was mentioned every other sentence, and even Jade was voicing her opinions. 

At one point, Ethan is trying to sneak up on the robber with a gun, but he's thinking about God. "He doesn’t know you’re going to sneak up on him. Plus, God is with you. He’ll be right by your side. 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.' You can do this, Ethan." I would have been okay with that, because maybe that's where his mind goes when he's afraid, but the entire robbery felt unrealistic. The robber barges into a building and doesn't check for other people before demanding money? Then there are a thousand mirrors in the gym, but Ethan remains invisible? How did the robber not notice him until the last minute?

After being robbed and nearly killed: "He looks at me and squeezes it gently [Jade's hand]. “He’s probably just a junkie looking for a quick fix. My church ministers to that type all the time.'"

Wanting to pray after a near-death experience: "Jade no doubt has me pegged as a Jesus freak and is way too cool for things like prayer. I think she and her weird friend Gia are atheists." (How judgey is he? Really?)

When Jade agrees to prayer: "Maybe this is a way to introduce her to Jesus. Maybe this is all part of His plan."

Some reviewers said the story improved after awhile, but it was just a bit too much for me. I understand that Christianity is a huge part of his identity, but I think it could have been presented a little more delicately. I felt like I was choking on a Bible.


Have you had a good reading month? What was your favorite August read? Let me know!

*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the A Heart in a Body in the World blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you! 

Author: Deb Caletti
Pub. Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Formats: Hatdcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 368
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Audible, B&N, iBooks, TBD

When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run? 

So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.

Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and two friends (her self-appointed publicity team), Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to the trauma from her past. Her cross-country run gains media attention and she is cheered on as she crosses state borders, and is even thrown a block party and given gifts. The support would be nice, if Annabelle could escape the guilt and the shame from what happened back home. They say it isn’t her fault, but she can’t feel the truth of that.

Through welcome and unwelcome distractions, she just keeps running, to the destination that awaits her. There, she’ll finally face what lies behind her—the miles and love and loss…and what is to come. 

"Turned up or turned down, the feeling is permanent. She survived something big, and when you survive something big, you are always, always aware that next time you might not."

I received a book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Before A Heart in a Body in the World, I'd only read one other book by Deb Caletti. Stay was an emotional story that I still think about to this day. Caletti has a way with words, in writing and in life, and I was fortunate enough to hear her speak a few years ago -- she has such an infectious personality!

I thought this book was really relevant to what's happening in our world today. A Heart in a Body in the World was about a girl that survived something horrible, yet felt guilty and thought she was partially to blame. The story takes places almost a year after the event, and small hints that refer to what happened are dropped throughout the story. We see what happens as Annabelle is forced to relive the moments leading up the event, and why she thinks she deserves pain and punishment.

Annabelle used to be kindhearted and full of hope, but now her mind is cruel and unforgiving. Unfortunately, all of that negativity is directed at herself. She endures painful blisters, accepts the parts of her body that are in pain, and ignores the advice of a doctor. She thinks she's atoning for something that, in reality, was out of her control. It's hard to explain without giving too much away, but Annabelle is on a mission. She's not entirely sure what she's doing, but she knows that she needs to do it.

I have never understood the appeal of track and running. I've never felt the elusive "runner's high" that's supposed to be euphoric. However, I am familiar with the pain and discomfort, which is why I avoid it. Annabelle does run track, but I believe she runs for the wrong reasons. She runs until her body is ready to collapse, and her mind is ready to break. She doesn't want to think, and the pain only dimly registers in her mind. Most of this started when her father left, and the author touches on how his abandonment impacted her childhood. 

Annabelle developed anxiety and started counting the things around her in order to feel calm. Initially, it started after her parents' divorce, but life didn't make it any easier. She was taught at a young age not to smile at a boy, because then they'd get the wrong idea. Annabelle assumed that being nice to someone meant that they would perceive it as something more. When a younger Annabelle complained to a teacher about a boy following her, she was told the boy just liked her, and that it would be fine. It didn't matter that she was uncomfortable, she'd given him the wrong idea by being friendly (this is her mindset). I thought the author handled the treatment of women and young girls in a very tactful way. 

It starts when girls are young. They're told that being pretty is important, and being nice has consequences. They are cautioned against being overly nice or helpful, because of how it might look to someone else. Girls are taught at a young age to change who they are, and how they present themselves, so it doesn't interfere with a boy's life. Being nice is expected, but not too nice. Look presentable, but not overly pretty (because then you're asking for it). There were a few instances in which this topic was touched on, and I liked how the information was presented. It was informative, honest, and so very true. I know a lot of girls and women will be able to relate to Annabelle and her views on the world.

"It is alone-in-a-parking-garage fear, alone-on-an-empty-street fear, the kind of daily fear women are so familiar with that they forget how wrong that familiarity is."

Women's rights weren't the only topic mentioned in A Heart in a Body in the World. There were layers of thoughts and experiences being shared throughout the book. It's another time when too much information would spoil the suspense, so...

"Sometimes, what is is something that shouldn't be. It should never have been. It only is because of messed-up reasons going back messed-up generations, old reasons, reasons that don't jibe with this world today. Sometimes, an is should have been gone long, long ago, and needs to be -- immediately and forcefully and with not a minute to lose -- changed."

I really enjoyed Annabelle's journey, even if her running made my entire body cringe at the thought. It was a painful road full of memories that she wanted to bury forever. Running was supposed to clear her mind, but instead the loneliness brought everything to the surface. Running for hours and hours leaves a person with a lot of time to think, so we slowly see her story unfold. We learn about the event and why she felt partially responsible. We see how society has negatively impacted the way girls and women think and act, and also how and where they feel safe. There are many others, so I highly encourage you to read this one for yourself. It's definitely worth reading once, but one that deserves to be read again and again.

A Heart in a Body in the World was a realistic, heartbreaking story. It was informative and encouraging, authentic and realistic, and something I think people will be able to relate to.

Star Wars: Lando's Luck by Justina Ireland, Annie Wu (Illustrator)
Blog Tour: Spotlight & Giveaway
Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Star Wars: Lando's Luck blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. This stop will contain a spotlight and a giveaway!

Author: Justina Ireland, Annie Wu (Illustrator)
Pub. Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Disney Book Group
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 224
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Audible, B&N, iBooks, TBD

An all-new adventure starring Lando Calrissian and L3-37 onboard the Millennium Falcon. When a smuggling scheme goes wrong, Lando faces an opportunity to do what's right--or do what's best for Lando. If he's lucky, he can do both!

About Justina:

Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, cats, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound, Promise of Shadows, and the New York Times bestselling novel Dread Nation, which received six starred reviews.

Giveaway Details: 
3 Winners will receive a finished copy of LANDO'S LUCK, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tour Schedule:

Week One:
9/24/2018- Such A Novel Idea- Review
9/25/2018- BookHounds YA- Review
9/26/2018- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
9/27/2018- Paper Reader- Review
9/28/2018- Do You Dog-ear?- Review

Week Two:
10/1/2018- Black Nerd Problems- Review
10/2/2018- LA Bookworm- Review
10/3/2018- The Star Wars Review- Review
10/4/2018- Little Red Reads- Review
10/5/2018- Two Points of Interest- Review

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mini Reviews [16]

Ida, Always by Caron Levis, Charles Santoso (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Gus lives in a big park in the middle of an even bigger city, and he spends his days with Ida. Ida is right there. Always.

Then one sad day, Gus learns that Ida is very sick, and she isn’t going to get better. The friends help each other face the difficult news with whispers, sniffles, cuddles, and even laughs. Slowly Gus realizes that even after Ida is gone, she will still be with him—through the sounds of their city, and the memories that live in their favorite spots.

Ida, Always is inspired by a real bear friendship.


Ida, Always left me a sobbing mess, and I struggled to finish the rest of the book. My kids were looking at me like I had two heads. The girls had no idea why I was crying, and my son kept asking me questions that only made me sob harder. This is a truly marvelous book about friendship and love. I think these two bears show us what it means to be selfless and how to mourn the loss of a loved one. Sometimes we need to roar and growl, and other times we need to cuddle and cry. Brilliant book!

Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Even a bookish big sister is drawn in by the promise of her imaginative sibling’s spectacular hideaway.

I have a secret tree fort, and YOU’RE NOT INVITED!

When two sisters are ushered outside to play, one sits under a tree with a book while the other regales her with descriptions of a cool fort in a tree that grows ever more fantastical in the telling. What will it take to get the older sister to look up? The promise of a water-balloon launcher in case of attack? A trapdoor to stargaze through? A crow’s nest from which to see how many whales pass by or to watch for pirates? Or the best part of all, which can’t be revealed, because it’s a secret


Secret Tree Fort was a wonderful book! I was able to relate to both sisters, and could understand both of their perspectives. One wants to sit beneath a tree and read (always me), but the other wants to play and use her imagination (sometimes me).

The younger sister tries to invent off-the-wall, crazy, fun additions for her tree house, but nothing makes her sister look away from her book. The ideas just keep getting bigger and bigger until the older sister has no choice but to participate. It was a lovely story about siblings and compromise.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, 
John Schoenherr (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird.

But there is no answer.

Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don't need words. You don't need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn't an owl, but sometimes there is.

Distinguished author Jane Yolen has created a gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind's close relationship to the natural world. Wonderfully complemented by award-winning John Schoenherr's soft, exquisite watercolor illustrations, this is a verbal and visual treasure, perfect for reading aloud and sharing at bedtime.


Owl Moon is one of our favorites! The author has clearly woven magic into the story, because its simplicity only makes it better. A young boy is going owling with his father for the first time. His siblings have shared their experiences, so he explains those tidbits of information, but it's an entirely new experience for him.

It was surprising that a child his age new that he needed to be silent, but was also able to follow in his father's footsteps with barely a sound. It was cold and late, but the boy was determined to look for an owl with his father. Their story is told mostly through thought, and I enjoyed his childlike view of the world. There was so much wonder and excitement over just the potential of seeing a owl. Owl Moon was exquisitely written and utterly compelling.

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
Synopsis (via Goodreads): "It's a pillar," says one. "It's a fan," says another. One by one, the seven blind mice investigate the strange Something by the pond. And one by one, they come back with a different theory. It's only when the seventh mouse goes out-and explores the whole Something-that the mice see the whole truth. Based on a classic Indian tale, Ed Young's beautifully rendered version is a treasure to enjoy again and again.


Seven Blind Mice is a really clever book, and my son enjoyed trying to solve the mystery along with the mice.

Despite being blind, the mice choose to brave the unknown in order to determine what they've stumbled across. The mice all come back with different theories, but that's because each mouse only examined one part of the object. When the final mouse leaves to look for himself, he examines the thing as a whole. 

The mice were not able to discern what it was by only exploring pieces; they had to put all of those pieces together to see the bigger picture. I thought this was wonderfully written, and loved listening to my son's theories as each mouse came back with a different answer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

My Weekly Pull [39] & Can't Wait Wednesday [9]
(blog tour spotlight and giveaway)

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, leave a link in the comments. I would love to stop by and check it out!

Domino Annual #1 by Dennis Hopeless, Fabian Nicieza, Gail Simone, Leah Williams, Victor Ibanez, Leonard Kirk, Juan Gedeon, Natacha Bustos, Greg Land
Marvel Two-In-One #10 by Chip Zdarsky, Ramon K. Perez, Gerardo Zaffino
Moon Knight #199 by Max Bemis, Jacen Burrows, Becky Cloonan
X-Men Red #8 by Tom Taylor, Mahmud A. Asrar, Jenny Frison

Jacob's comics for the week!

Amazing Spider-Man
#6 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos
Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #310 Chip Zdarsky, Chris Bachalo
Punisher #2 by Matthew Rosenberg, Riccardo Burchielli, Greg Smallwood
Spider-Man Deadpool #39 by Robbie Thompson, Jim Towe, Dave Johnson
Venom First Host #5 by Mike Costa, Mark Bagley, Javier Garron

The synopsis for Domino's annual issue says that we should learn the "origin of Domino's posse," which I think is going to be really interesting! I've been curious about how these three became a team, and what happened to form such a strong friendship between them. I'm also wondering about Domino's relationship with Colossus... didn't he get married recently? Additionally it says, "Cable takes a bath," and I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. Oh! I'm excited to find out what the RejeX is going to be (this will be the first appearance)! 

I don't think Ben and Johnny will ever find what they're looking for. Chip Zdarsky is going to break them emotionally before destroying them physically. Leave Ben alone, Chip! He's live a hard enough life, thank you. Don't even get me started on Johnny and his family issues... I really hope something lovely and magnificent happens to him soon. 

Moon Knight is fighting a... I'm not really sure what. He crashed some super secret thing in the last issue, and I'm wondering if the monster on the cover is a direct result of that. It was one of Bemis's darker issues. He introduced people who enjoy hurting others, and one guy even makes "art" out of the bodies -- ack. My brain may never fully recover. 

X-Men Red is beautiful. Tom Taylor's story might be fictional, but he includes really relevant information. Prejudice is still happening in our world today, whether people want to admit it or not, and I've enjoyed his comparisons. Nothing brings people together like giving them a shared focus, or a single thing to hate.

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine
Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Me and Me blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. It's being released next month, so this post is going to serve two purposes!

Author: Alice Kuipers
Pub. Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: KCP Loft
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 248
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, TBD

It's a perfect day for Lark's dream date with Alec from school. Blue skies, clear water, a canoe on the lake. Alec even brought flowers for Lark's birthday. Everything is just right… until they hear screams from the edge of the water.

Annabelle, a little girl Lark used to babysit, is struggling in the reeds. When Lark and Alec dive in to help her, Alec hits his head on a rock. Now Annabelle and Alec are both in trouble, and L
ark can only save one of them.

With that split-second decision, Lark's world is torn in two, leaving her to cope with the consequences of both choices. She lives two lives, two selves. But which is the right life, and which is the real Lark?

Me and Me is about how it feels to be torn in pieces, and how to make two halves whole again. This mind-bending novel from Alice Kuipers, expert chronicler of the teenage heart, explores loss and love, music and parkour, all while navigating the narrow space between fantasy and reality. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

1st Blogoversary!

As I get older, I feel like time passes more quickly. My kids are aging at an alarming rate, my own age seems increase every time I think about it, and my lovely little book blog has existed for an entire year. I still can't believe I started this blog a year ago! It feels like only a few months have passed.

I was curious whether or not blogging would work out, and if I'd be able to squeeze it in around the rest of my life, but I think I've found a pretty good balance. There are days when I'm not able to post anything, and days when I have posts scheduled in advance -- it just depends! I haven't put a lot of pressure on myself, and just want to enjoy this blog for what it is -- a way to share and discuss books with people.

I feel like I've already made some wonderful friends this year, and really enjoy reading and responding to all of your comments! You're wonderful people and I'm happy to have met you.

I've read a lot of amazing books this past year, and wanted to list a few of my favorites! I also want to do a giveaway, so look for the Rafflecopter form at the bottom. One winner will be randomly selected, and that person will get to choose one of the books listed below. Good luck! Thank you again for the friendships, the conversations, and for understanding that reading is an essential part of who we are. 


This giveaway officially starts on September 25, 2018 and ends on October 9, 2018 (two weeks!). The winner will be announced on October 10, 2018 on this post within the Rafflecopter form, and also notified by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose another winner (read my full giveaway policy here).

International entries are okay as long as The Book Depository ships to you. Click here to check!

To enter – fill out the Rafflecopter form and answer the question! Easy!

Extra Entries:

+3 if you follow this blog (Bloglovin', email, or Feedburner) *links in the sidebar

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Lantern's Ember by Colleen Houck
Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway
Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the The Lantern's Ember blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you! 

Author: Colleen Houck 
Pub. Date: September 11, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 416
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD 

Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare. 

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Fall has officially started (despite Texas not getting the memo), which makes this the perfect time to read spooky stories and eerie tales! I save all of my horror, suspense, and mystery books for the end of the year -- eeep!

The Lantern's Ember was inspired by the legend of Sleepy Hollow, which has always been one of my favorites. I enjoyed the little references that were peppered in throughout the story! Jack is a Lantern and carries his soul in a pumpkin, he compared Finney to Ichabod (a wizard he terrorized by appearing to look like a headless horseman), and then Ember's Sleepy Hollow. There were others, but I'll let you discover those on your own.

Ember was my least favorite character. I found her to be incredibly naΓ―ve as she continued to make bad decision after bad decision. She feels drawn to the Otherworld, but ignores all of Jack's warnings. He explained that the two worlds would start blending together, entire towns disappearing on both sides, but she was undeterred. Her decisions only get worse when she meets Dev and the two of them take off without Jack's knowledge. She was way too willing to trust Dev, a vampire that she had just met, even though she sensed he was hiding something and had ulterior motives.

Jack was many things. I thought he was sweet and kindhearted, but he would also bully humans and try to be intimating just for fun. He wanted to justify his actions by saying he was only protecting the crossroads, but he enjoyed tormenting people and giving them reasons to be superstitious. He himself has caused much of the lore surrounding his name, and simply because he was toying around while serving his time.

Dev was something else. He started off cocky and self-assured, but he quickly became hesitant and possessive. I'm not really sure what sparked the change, but it felt sudden and rushed. I also didn't care for the way he used Ember like a battery. He offered her to anyone that could use her powers, but he made sure he benefited from everything she did. He also seemed to know more than he should, about her powers specifically, which didn't really make sense. He's known witches in the past, but his knowledge seemed extensive. 

I wish Ember had had another motivation or reason for going to the Otherworld. Yes, she felt compelled to go there, but she never questioned it. She never asked Jack what it might mean, or even Dev. She just carried on like it wasn't abnormal or concerning. I wanted her to question everything and hesitate before siphoning off her power for unknown reasons. There were a few times when I wanted to shake her and tell her to think about what she was doing.

A Lantern's Ember was slow at times, because they spend a lot of time doing nothing as they travel through the Otherworld, and we get a lot of descriptions about the nothings they're doing. Nevertheless, I devoured this book in a single sitting. I don't know if it was the atmosphere of the book (think spooky steampunk), my desire for cooler weather, or just my interest in the legend of Sleepy Hollow (there were other tales sprinkled in, too). Overall, I enjoyed Colleen Houck's writing, and I thought the story had a very unique twist!