Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#TopTenTuesday: Top 10 Books From My Childhood

 Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Love To Revisit

I stuck with books that I read before age 5, because my childhood was littered with books too old for me and there's something precious about Children's Picture Books that always draws me back in when I get the chance to revisit them. My children are now too grown to show that they like my nostalgic meanderings into the picture book realms. So when they find me in our library picking through these books... because the only two from this list I do not own are that version of Cinderella and Fair's Fair, they end up on the floor beside me just as happy to re-read these favorites. 

My mother has a copy of Fair's Fair and gets it out whenever I visit which is usually at Christmas time so that's all good too. She doesn't need an excuse to read picture books since both my little nephews live down the street from her and she uses them as an excuse to read Where The Wild Things Are and Little Bear over and over again. My two all time favorite books to have read to me when I was little.

Is Milton Missing? by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Dick Gackenbach
Cutest story about a missing Great Dane with a surprise ending. My copy has my little kid handwriting in the front saying this book belongs to Beth's Library. 

William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by William Pene du Bois
My parents were pretty strict fundamentalist with divisive views on gender. The one positive to their intense upbringing was that girls and boys were not really different in how they played, at least when they were young. So playtime did not have parameters on it and my mom loved this book because she took a lot of heat for how she was raising four girls to think they could do anything a boy could do and better. And she'd always fire back that little boys should learn how to care for babies too.

The Jolly Postman and Other People's Letters by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
I loved getting mail because we moved all the time and it was the only way back then to communicate if you were a kid with friends in other states. These letters were too delightful and it was rare to find an interactive book back in my day.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, illustrated by William Nicholson
One of the first books to ever make me cry and think life just is NOT FAIR. Lovely story that still rings beautifully about the love of a child for their toys.

Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper interpreted by Charles Perrault, illustrated by Walter Crane
I loved the illustrations of this book more so than the translation, however it is a good one. Every library visit for at least a month (we went every week), I checked this book out until my mother who thought fairy tales were not healthy reading, refused to allow me to get it again.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
This house and I were kindred spirits. As a child who moved nearly every six months and would move from city to country and back again... I'd miss the sites and sounds and quiet of the country until I got older and could bask in the beauty and nightlife that comes with city living.

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson
How Ferdinand was bullied was my first real righteous anger reaction. I don't even think my parents called it bullying back then. It was simply being picked on. However, this story is a good look at how expectations of who we are should not be defined by how we look. I totally got that when I was two or three because of the beauty of this story and Robert Lawson's excellent illustrations.

Sam, Bangs & Moonshine by Evaline Ness
Girl, cat and mouse and the way words have multiple meanings. I LOVED THIS BOOK as a child and my parents hated it. I don't even know why they did because it totally fit into every lesson I was suppose to be learning about how adults know best. Ha!

Cross Country Cat by Mary Calhoun, illustrated by Erick Ingraham
This book was something that as soon as I started my library, I went looking for a copy. Interestingly enough, later in life as an illustrative representative, I would have the chance to work with Erick Ingraham who is just as lovely as his illustrations. If you are a cat lover, how could you not have read this book yet?! 

Sam & the Firefly by P. D. Eastman
P. D. Eastman wrote some of the bratty characters who just would not learn until they had near death experiences. His vibrant illustrations and contrast of coloring in this book attracts my attention like very little else. It's a fun book to read, with a lesson that many kiddos should take to heart and wildly obnoxious art.

BONUS BOOK: Fair's Fair by Leon Garfield, illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Such an amazingly detailed book from the nooks and crannies of every illustration to the descriptions of what is happening. I will not ever stop longing to read this aloud every Christmas. It's a tradition ingrained into my bones. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

COMPENDIUM of REVIEWS: Creepy Books plus #Giveaway

Okay, so it's time to get my shorts out! Spring arrived and while some of you may not yet be rid of the snow, Florida is mostly sunny skies where I am. However, I rarely wear shorts, despite the heat but I sure do like shortened reviews when I have a lot of books to talk about and not enough brain power or motivation to write individual reviews for all the books I read in a year.

If I posted anything on Fangirlish though, I will make sure to link to that review or post.

Shall I start then?!

THE CEMETERY BOYS by Heather Brewer

Stephen, the main narrator, has an independent streak that accompanies a lot of shame knowing his mother has been hospitalized for her mental health safety. When Stephen learns Devon and Cara, both care for a mother who also has been burned by life, he thinks he has found loyal, understanding friends. Instead betrayal follows him and his father to the last page. Delightfully creepy, atmospheric and down-to-earth look at mental health issues, THE CEMETERY BOYS shows how superstitions seep into the spirit of a small town and allow citizens to justify murder.

Exclusive Blog Tour interview @Fangirlish
Exclusive Cover Reveal Interview @ Fangirlish

THE ALEX CROW by Andrew Smith:

THE ALEX CROW drew me in right away and then lost me somewhat in the middle only keeping my interest because of Ariel, the main narrator. Sad as it is to admit, but he and I deal with life a lot by hiding. In the end when he found his bearings and confronted Major Knott (spoilers if I say more); Ariel came through his harrowing death experiences with aplomb. And I couldn't help but cheer to know that Ariel and the Alex crow finished out the book finding their place in this world. It was poetic, if not justice for a boy who should have died multiple times over.

#KeepYAWeird Blog Tour @Fangirlish
Sneak Peek of The Alex Crow and Cover Reveal @Fangirlish

VANISHING GIRLS by Lauren Oliver:

Lauren Oliver writes some pretty prosaic phrases that stick with me as if poetry and yet VANISHING GIRLS did not read as beautifully as some of her other novels for me. A moody sibling tale shrouded in loss, mental instability and psychic familial ties. Or a creepy ghost story where the afterlife holds none of the appeal of sticking it out in the in-between world and haunting those you held dearest. Either way you wish to interpret it, works. And while Nick [Nicole Warren], isn't quite sure what is happening between her and her sister, Dara -- she only knows the rift between them seems to grow larger with each passing day and every effort Nick makes in hopes of gaining back Dara's trust. An unfolding mystery told in multiple perspectives (Nick and Dara) and includes letters and emails from many other characters to fill in the blanks. Communication is key and in the end when all is revealed, Nick finds the forgiveness she'd been seeking as well as an identity that belongs solely to her.



I have three ARCs -- one for each of the books I've written a short review of up above. If you would like to win these ARCs... see directions below. Yes, this is open internationally and ends next Monday (March 30th).

Let me know what creepy book you've read lately in the comments. That's all it takes to be entered. No retweeting, tweeting, liking or posting to your own account necessary. Of course, sharing is love!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"Waiting On" Wednesday #2 ~ Winter by Marissa Meyer

Did anyone doubt my choice would come around to this very awesome book now that the cover reveal has gone live and I have had a chance to read the excerpt? No? Good. Alrighty then.


  • Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
  • Publishing date: November 10, 2015
  • Author: Marissa Meyer
  • Series: Final Installment of the Lunar Chronicles

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N ~ Twitter ~ Website 

My argument for why WINTER should be on your "Waiting On" Book Pile.

Scarlet pressed her body against the steel bars, straining to grasp the tree branch that dangled just outside her cage. Close — so close. The bar bit into her cheek. She flailed her fingers, brushing a leaf, a touch of bark — yes!

Her fingers closed around the branch. She dropped back into her cage, dragging the branch closer. Wriggling her other arm through the bars, she snapped off three leaf-covered twigs, then broke off the tip and let go. The branch swung upward and a cluster of tiny, unfamiliar nuts dropped onto her head.

Scarlet flinched and waited until the tree had stopped shaking before she turned the hood of her red sweatshirt inside out and shook out the nuts that had attacked her. They sort of looked like hazelnuts. If she could figure out a way to crack into them, they might not be a bad snack later.

A gentle scratching pulled her attention back to the situation. She peered across the menagerie's pathway, to the white wolf who was standing on his hind legs and batting at the bars of his own enclosure.

Scarlet had spent a lot of time wishing Ryu could leap over those bars. His enclosure's wall was waist high and he should have been able to clear it easily. Then Scarlet could pet his fur, scratch his ears. What a luxury it would be to have a bit of contact. She had always been fond of the animals on the farm — at least until it was time to slaughter them and cook up a nice ragoĆ»t — but she never realized how much she appreciated their simple affection until she had been reduced to an animal herself.

Unfortunately, Ryu wouldn't be escaping his confinement any sooner than Scarlet would. According to Princess Winter, he had a chip embedded between his shoulder blades that would give him a painful shock if he tried to jump over the rail. The poor creature had learned to accept his habitat a long time ago.

Scarlet doubted she would ever accept hers.
Thanks as always Breaking the Spine for hosting.

Also, have you had the chance to see this video, this song inspired by CINDER? Gorgeous!

#TopTenTuesday: Top Ten Books on Spring TBR Pile

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

My goal today was to review Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger, however, I am too intrigued by these Top Ten Tuesday features that The Broke and the Bookish host. Today's feature means I get to list the top ten books on your Spring TBR List.

Too excited about this list, you all... seriously... ridiculously excited to think about these books!

Books that I already have in my hands, just haven't read yet:

Half Wild by Sally Green ~ magical communities that tackle racist ideas involving children raised to feel like they do not belong and good and bad labels fall into a grey area where cruelty and prejudice make allies of the worst of enemies

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir ~ Rome-inspired fantasy where the wilds of political gain depends on an unwilling soldier and a rebel scholar... yeah... that's a brilliant pairing

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson ~ so much love for this series, so of course I am freaking excited about the final book in it

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie ~ adorkable girl who is haunted and totally fine with it as long as she can post it to her social media and bring her fans joyous fear

The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer ~ omigosh... twins and a small town named Spencer that could totally have been named after the drummer of Panic! at the Disco if you're familiar enough with Auntie Heather's taste in music

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard ~ supernatural abilities that lead to fake arranged marriage and a heroine who hurtles towards a destiny at break-neck pace

Books that I don't have in my hands, but NEEEEEEED:

Jackaby by William Ritter ~ sooooooo neeeeed to read this book because Sherlock Holmes self insert claims and a female Watson

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins ~ comparisons to Gone Girl... that is not at all intriguing, right?!

Prudence by Gail Carriger ~ Steampunk Victorian mystery series from the dashing lady author with the best fashion style ever

The Buried Giant: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro ~ Title, Author, Enough, yes...?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Waiting On" Wednesday #1 ~ Half Wild by Sally Green

You know what's so wrong with my "Waiting On" Wednesday selection today? The book I've selected  is sitting on my dining room table. Yep... you read that right. Not only am I "waiting on" it to be released, I am having to wait to read it because there's a line of MBR (must be read) books ahead of it.

And I really, really, really want to skip them all and read HALF WILD right now!


  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile
  • Publishing date: March 24, 2015
  • Author: Sally Green
  • Series: The Half Bad Trilogy #2
  • Acquired: ARC sent to me from publisher for honest review
In HALF WILD, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift – a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him. 
Meanwhile, Soul O'Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted or is Nathan walking into a trap?

Why I am "waiting on" this book goes directly back to the first book in the series -- HALF BAD. A beautiful cover, elegant and simple but striking enough to catch your eye... as is this cover too. Amazing covers! And then the narration sucked me in. I felt what Nathan felt and the bird's eye perspective, myopic in scope, but then again Nathan has always been locked up or away and he has not had a chance to broaden his horizons so to speak. In HALF WILD he will have to expand and adapt and deal with people and he isn't the best at social interaction when he likes you, I can only imagine how things will play out when he has to ally himself with those who have been cruel to him in the past.

Thanks as always Breaking the Spine for hosting.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

My first run-in with Shaun David Hutchinson didn't go down prettily. I cried and cried a bit more and nearly broke down in a scene where I found out just why Andrew Brawley, the main character in his newest book out, needed to attempt CPR on a toddler corpse. Sounds morbid, right?! And yet there's so much more that makes up the whole of this story. Such a raging good book that hits you right in the gut and other times slaps you across the face with the feels. It's bloody fantastic! 

  • TITLE: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley
  • AUTHOR(S): Shaun David Hutchinson
  • SERIES: Stand Alone
  • PUB INFO: Simon Pulse on 1/20/2015
  • ACQUIRED HOW? Publisher sent ARC for honest review
  • BOOK RATING: Cherry Pie
Wounds heal — emotional, physical — of course, scarring occurs but ultimately with time, people get better. In an effort to make sense of his world, Andrew Brawley hides out in the hospital where he last saw his family alive. Guilt grounding him in place, he is stagnant and broken and immobilized by a fear of death, who stalks the hallways Andrew calls home. His sketchbook his constant companion and a story about Superhero Patient F, which while cathartic fails to console him without an ending.
It would be remiss of me not to mention how Christine Larsen’s illustrations interspersed throughout the story, despite how devastating they are and bloody violent, make their own statement to just what exactly is missing from Andrew’s life and to the severity of his denial. Comic panels of insight that really do document five stages — The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley.

Andrew’s running and running and although he has made friends, and promises to keep them safe, death catches up to them. He lives in a hospital afterall.

Love fights to forgive. Faith fights for hope. Andrew fights these concepts because he feels underserving, unaware that the beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair (Relient K). And it really is awful when Andrew comes back to reality and faces everything he’s charged himself with. The brilliance of his unraveling due to Shaun’s sensitive handling of the memories, the influence of others’ pain and the stretching pull of humanity’s need to be loved and loved in return.

QUOTE ME: There are moments that tear you open and pierce your core. Statements of agonized pain felt so deeply that your bones ache for the profound truth that bites and burns and sears its way onto your heart. Revelations spoken of a short-lived relief from the agony of being different to being judged and juried by your peers so much so that every day is torture and the very thought of living one day more a hellish prospect — these hardly seem like the makings of a redemptive story and yet, Shaun twists, bends, and turns his words into masterful cuts of a reflective whole formed from cracked, stained souls but each one ever so beautiful.

BONUS: A sneak peek at Shaun David Hutchinson's upcoming novel with expected release in 2016 sometime. Titled We Are The Ants, how cool is that cover and summary. So enticing, yeah?!

SUMMARY: Henry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button. But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind. 

Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. Until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

cross-posted to Fangirlish

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A. S. King

Some persons have the ability to write pain into beautiful turns of phrases. Like Sylvia Plath and A. S. King's influence here, King writes about the harsh realities and pain of living so prettily that you cannot help but be awed by the way the words wound your heart and speak to it simultaneously. How does one decide to remain a part of this world; a decision that seems momentous and heartbreaking and useless in the wake of realities.

Glory O'Brien faces an unknown future and an even scarier prospect when she starts seeing everyone else's future and it's all grim. The past, present, and future become one big blur, yet somehow, A. S. King makes sense of it all. With Glory's narration, she gives us all the secret to why choosing to get living life means so much more than we ever expected.

  • TITLE: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
  • AUTHOR(S): A. S. King 
  • SERIES: Stand Alone
  • PUB INFO: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on 10/14/2014
  • ACQUIRED HOW? ARC Kindle edition from Amazon
  • BOOK RATING: Cherry Pie

Religiously unavailable, this book does not try to synchronize with a belief system. It doesn't attack any specific denomination either. Following a philosophy that centers on female empowerment, Glory O'Brien stages a coup against the usual arguments and manipulates your heart with a variety of key quotes that hit home in a way that while preachy aren't overbearing... and they're beautifully powerful.

I found myself tearing up throughout this book though, because the visions remind me of the horrors of societal wrongs happening and continuing to happen despite the supposedly evolved humanity inhabiting today's culture. We think ourselves so forward thinking and modern and yet the very permeance of culture's fabric hinges on the obliteration of freedoms due all people. We label and size one another up by appearance and promote bullcrap mantras in hopes of defining gender, race and orientation in a way that makes sense in the boxes of normality we are supposed to inhabit. A habitual sorting of the masses that very well could lead to the dire predictions Glory O'Brien sees for the future because once you erase humanity and all that's left are drones -- very few people, the truly honest types can never really stomach such an existence. 

QUOTE ME: A weird magical realism threads through this book and links everyone who Glory O'Brien comes into contact with. Thing is, Glory never really saw herself living long in this world after graduation but now she's drunk the ashes of a bat she can see everyone's future but hers and she'd really like someone to tell her what it means. With a dad who has shut out the world, a best friend who lives for one day joining the world and a mother who has left this world... Glory isn't prepared for the radio signals she's receiving from family, friends and strangers. Ellie her BFF isn't either. As they piece together their past, present and future though... everything selfish about humanity eats away at them until their visions start coming true. And that's when the truth of living hits them. Life is an oddity of mixed experiences, consequences and people who just don't give a damn. Ultimately you live, you fight, you die but somewhere in there you also live, learn and love.

BONUS: A. S. King spoke to me about how books changed her life at the Less Than Three Conference in St. Louis a couple of years ago. Thought it might be a definite bonus to share it here again, because she's such a well-spoken individual when doing a live interview. Adored meeting her and certainly cannot wait to hang out with her again.