Sunday, November 12, 2017

Aeonians Book Tour!

Hey readers! Today I'm part of blog tour for The Aeonians, a YA fantasy that'll be released . . . TOMORROW!

First a little bit about the book and then we'll go straight into the interview with author J.E.

 Isabel Deran only wants to practice archery with the castle guards, and that is the last thing expected from an elegant Princess. Living in the shadow of her late sister, Victoria, she is next in line to receive the royal armlet that is embedded with four stones: an opal, a sapphire, an amber, and a ruby. It is a revered family heirloom with the power of the elements passed down from mother to daughter.

However, an evil, once thought to be sealed away in a prison in which time does not pass, breaks free with an army that swarms the castle and wreck havoc over the kingdom in search for the magical armlet. They are known as the Aeonians. When they kidnap Isabel and place their hands on it, the precious stones vanish.

Isabel is now trapped in a race against time to locate her stones of power with the head of the Aeonian army, Bence Brechenhad, stalking her like a shadow. With the help of her trusty weapon, the sai, she fights her way through seemingly impossible trials and fearsome monsters in order to restore peace in her kingdom.

Kristen: What was your inspiration for Aeonians?

J. E.: My primary inspiration came from a beloved childhood video game: Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. I was fascinated by the sense of exploration, the urgency of destiny, and the diverse characters. At first I was dreaming up fan-fiction, but eventually, I wanted to create a story of my own. I also was inspired by eastern elements of fantasy- traditional powers of the elements: wind, water, earth, fire.

Kristen: Who’s your favorite character and what do they do that makes them so special?

J. E.: My favorite has to go the Bence. Yes, the antagonist. The more I fleshed him out, the more I appreciated him. He is not a "bad guy" because he is evil for no reason. Bence is flawed, but has a good head on his shoulders, and his motives are the result of misdirection. This creates a complex character, which I grew to appreciate. Plus a sarcastic sense of humor. Quite the charmer (not).

Kristen: If you were transported into the world of your story, what role would you fill and how do you think you’re react?

J. E.: Oh! Fun question! If I were transported directly into my story, I would want to be in the middle of the action. I'd probably take the role of Isabel's side kick. My purpose would be dual: Help her grow her confidence (the confidence I never had growing up) and fight alongside her. Isabel covers a lot of ground in the 400+ pages, and I would love to roam the countryside with her and kick some butt!

Kristen: Can you tell us your favorite world aspect that is special to Aeonians?

J. E.: My favorite world aspect is the diverse species that inhabit it. And it expands past the primary setting, Deran. (You will see more countries in the sequel). I'm proud of the various creatures/races I created and happy to provide them with a world to live in.

Kristen: The princess is at a feast. What would be her favorite foods at the table?

Isabel loves turkey legs. If given the chance, she would toss all proper royalty etiquette out the door and dig into a nice drumstick!

Kristen: What are your plans for the future?

J. E.: I am finalizing the edits to the sequel to "The Aeonians", named "The Shadow Warrior". I am also multi-tasking and working on another fairy-tale re-telling for the next Just-Us-League anthology! In the not to distance future, I may take a break from the Aeonian series and focus on a sci-fi/fantasy mix based from The Fate of Patient Zero, my short story, in "Between Heroes and Villains."

Kristen: Thank you so much for stopping by, J.E and good luck with your launch. 

If anyone would like to learn more about The Aeonians, you can find it on Amazon or get a sneak peek on J. E.'s website.

 J.E. Klimov grew up in a small suburb in Massachusetts. After graduating from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, she obtained her PharmD and became a pharmacist; however, her true passion was writing and illustration.

Ever since J.E. Klimov was little, she dreamed of sharing her stories with the world. From scribbling plotlines instead of taking notes in school, to bringing her characters to life through sketches, J.E. Klimov’s ideas ranged from fantasy to thriller fiction. Her first publication was a short story, The Guardian’s Secret, in “From the Stories of Old”─ an anthology of fairy-tale retellings. “The Aeonians” is her debut novel with Silver Leaf Books.

 Don't forget to checkout and follow all her social media!

Twitter: @klimov_author
Facebook page: @klimovauthor.

Friday, November 3, 2017

2017 Classic Reading Challenge Completion

Going way back to the start of the year, I had posted two reading challenges. By the start of October both had been complete! Woohoo!

My first challenge is a general goal oriented one. I had a goal of 50 books and that has been met!

My second one was a classic reading challenge. This is my second year setting up this for myself. Last year I had a goal of 10 classics and this year I had a goal of 5.

On that original list were:

  • North and South
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • A Study in Scarlet
  • Oliver Twist
  • The Swiss Family Robinson
I try very hard to complete these challenge books as it is a specific list, but I can't push myself through a book that's not doing it for me. What ended up happening is I got to the last book on the list(Swiss Family Robinson) and hit a surprise. We'll get to that later though.

  • Oliver Twist (4 stars)

I kicked off the year with Oliver Twist. My friend Elise Edmonds over at Magic Writer had this on her list too, so we tackled it together in February. I would say this was my favorite of the year. I'd grown up with the abridged version so I knew the series of the events, but missed Dicken's voice. So while what was happening was new to me, the tone and storytelling finesse that Dicken's has was new to me.

I really loved his sarcastic, dry humor and how he used it to mock the ill-behavior of the characters and the times.

I kept picturing Mr. Bumble as Mr. Smee(having him be that goofy looking and sound like that). And Fagin was Gollum with his constant groveling and "my dear" while all the time seeking to get the upper-hand and wanting to kill those over him.

I loved Oliver's heart and how he strove to be good in a world that was trying to corrupt him. I smiled when reading about how he ran around helping Rose and Mrs. Maylie. I could picture that youthful enthusiasm.

Nancy's fate, though I knew it already, hit me harder than it ever had. There was something in the way it was told that was so . . . morbid. It was so terrible that the criminals couldn't even deal with it and everyone was ready to have Sikes captured.

The final chapters after that event where Sikes is fleeing from real and imaginary foes, and then the scene in London as he's at last cornered was just wow. So intense that I read it twice. Once to myself, and once outloud to my husband who I pulled down beside me going, "Oh my gosh!!! You've got to hear this!"

Really, the whole book was extremely well-written, but those chapters there were above and beyond. They were the best, most passionate, most real and heart-pounding of the story.

It was nice to see justice dolled out to most of the buggers who'd been so nasty throughout the book, and the good rewarded. Though there was some grey where the good didn't win out and the evil escaped(Sowerberry's and Charlotte/Noah). There was also a nice redemption story for one of the criminals and a second chance for another who blew it, but you can't say he wasn't given the chance.

Full Review

  • A Study in Scarlet (4 stars)

A Study in Scarlet I've never read this story and it was definitely an adventure. It was so easy to get lost in this and feel like I really was in the middle of an actual mystery. Fiction be hanged! I was hanging on to my seat thinking, THIS IS REAL LIFE!

Half of this book is about Holmes and Watson solving the mystery. The second half was going back to see the motive behind all of it. While both parts were REALLY intriguing, the sudden switch was one of the worst book tactics I've seen. I mean, you go from solving a mystery that you've been into for awhile, to a turn of a page taking you to the other side of the ocean into the middle of a desert.

I didn't know WHY I was there or who these people were or why I should care. Without thinking too much on the matter, I'd say off the top of my head that alternating chapters would've been a better technique.

I was so taken out of the story and confused. I honestly went to the computer and did some Google work to find out if I'd had a misprinted book or something. I mean, how does chapter X end with "We've caught the dastardly villain, and do you have any questions?" to chapter post-X starting with, "In the American West . . ."

But no, I didn't get some other random book in this novel where a printer had made an error. This was legit. So I kept going and once I got over the frustration of being drawn out of the story and over the trying to figure out why any of this mattered, I quite enjoyed what was happening. Eventually I saw the connection, and that was nice too. I did feel sort of cheated though. Like we'd hit a climax and then it was yanked away from me and I was expected to care two bits about some guy dying in the American West.

Honestly though, even though I'm having a good moan about that aspect, the rest was simply amazing. I loved the characters, the plot, and the writing was so engaging that I'm still struggling to believe this wasn't real!

Full Review

  • Sense and Sensibility (4 stars)
After taking on Pride and Prejudice last year, I was so excited for more Jane Austen. I have to admit, I do NOT like any movie/tv adaption of this book. So I was really nervous about choosing this particular book, but I wanted to see if it was different enough from the films(not like good books haven't ever been butchered before in movies!) where I would like it.

The short answer is yes, it was different enough and I did like it.

The longer answer is that I didn't not love this nearly as much as P&P but still thought it was a really interesting read. I felt that on the romance aspects, this was lacking. We just do not see enough of the romantic male leads to really understand the girl's connection and interest in them. In fact, in Marianne's case it sounded more like(at the end) that Col. Brandon was nice to her and her family so she couldn't help eventually liking him and subsequently marrying him

That might have been meant to be as lackluster as it sounds, so I want to say that I would just not recommend this as a good romantic read. It fails if that's what you're shopping for.

At times the plot dragged a bit, but overall very solid story.

What I REALLY liked was Elinor. It's always pleasant when even though a character is separated by time, culture, etc. from myself, that I can still connect and relate to them.

Elinor was that character for me. Not only could I really get behind her, but I found her situations with rudeness not so different than modern times. Even today one form of rudeness is acceptable while another is horrible.

You have to sit there and listen to someone tell you that you're homely and unattractive, but if you were to respond with, "You don't look so great yourself, you wrinkled old potato sack." well . . . heaven forbid.

You can pointedly ignore someone and slight them while they're visiting, but if they were to leave early then oh no, that would just be soooo rude.

There were quite a few situations where I was like UGH, ruuuuude, but that one in particular made me smile because I've been there. Get invited somewhere out of "duty" and then you HAVE to accept or YOU are rude. Then you go and hate every moment and are soundly ignored(which of course isn't rude at all), but if you don't stay for a certain length of time you'll again be rude. *eye roll*

(That moment where you're super happy certain people don't read your blog. Yeah, you ended up the villain in someone else's book!)

But really, if you don't want me to come to your shindig then please don't feel like you have to invite me because there's some familial connection. And if I say no I won't be there, you should be happy! And if I do show up, I can leave after a few hours! It's a free country! You weren't even talking to me!

*clears throat*

So yes, Elinor was my soulmate for this book. And there's something humorous about how here we are so many years later and we still think certain rudeness is okay, but responding to that is naughty. And I laughed so hard as I was reading that one scene and it was like someone took that scene from my memory and just dated it.

Full Review

  • North and South (2 stars)
This was the book I was probably most excited about on my list. I'd recently seen the movie for the first time and fell in love with it. So there was no doubt I wanted it on my list for this year. Reality was . . . I'm still upset about it! Seriously though, it's like there was a great story and the wrong person wrote it!

Was this the most horrible thing I've ever read? No, of course not. I'm not even sure what that would be. So was it one of the worst? No. But it was really, really, really, REALLY boring and one of the worst things is being bored for a long time. And this is a long freaking book to be bored for.

And the longer I'm stuck in boredom, the more I resent what's boring me. I really try hard to finish my classic challenge books or at least limit my DNF's and since I only picked 5 books this year . . .

Under normal circumstances I would've dropped this like a poopy diaper but come on! I loved the movie, so this had to be good! I WANTED it to be good. In a weird twist, this became the 2nd ever book that I felt was better done in film form. Miles better.

The lists of differences was so huge I probably would've had to sit there with a notebook, the book, and the movie and burn through an absurd amount of pages. But this was a book being read and judged. So no more about the movie(go watch it if you haven't! It's awesome!) as this truly about the book.

Dull characters meet dull plot in a sea of writing that's as dry as stale bread. And no, there won't be a drink of water to help it go down. I felt like Christian trying to get through the Slough of Despond and my only enticement to get through it was to get OUT of it.

That book was my burden and when I reached the end it was the top of the hill and IT FELT SO GOOD when that book fell away and I didn't have to carry it anymore! I didn't look at that burden falling down the hill and think gosh, but we had some good times. NO! I didn't look back, I ran as fast as I could in the other direction.

The Hale's are an annoying family. The father is a weak-willed, selfish, lousy father/husband. He uproots his family without even asking for their opinions, waits as long as can be to tell them, then tells his daughter so she can tell the mother because he wants to put that unpleasant task on her because he's too cowardly to do it. He gave them hardly any time to reconcile to the idea or to plan and he didn't plan at all so the whole moving out was chaos.

Then he moves them to a place that's the exact opposite of where they lived so that he won't ever be reminded of their home, not even considering that maybe his wife and daughter would like a place that was like home.

The mother does nothing but mope and whine(some of that is warranted, but she goes overboard) and ends up sick. The father continues to be oblivious and leave any unpleasantness for Margaret to handle. The mother spends most of the book cooped up in the house as an "invalid", imposing on everyone around her.

She's NOT an actual invalid, it's very much self-imposed oh poor me, pity me everyone state.

She even throws this major hissy fit and cries like a spoiled child to get her way at one point. She guilts Margaret into writing to her brother despite it being dangerous for him to return. Not only is her manipulation of Margaret disgusting, but her lack of concern over the death sentence her son faces if he returns sealed her in my mind as a horrid person.

Dixon was the nosiest busybody who was way to uppity for her own good and I believe her friendship with Mrs. Hale did more harm than good in concerns to Mrs. Hale's relationships with her daughter and husband and her own petulant attitude.

Margaret was the most emotionless, doormat of a character you could ever hope to meet. She's snobby and aloof but we must always talk about her like she's this angel who's presiding over everything. She never does anything wrong and supposedly the fact she's such a snob who barely condescends to speak or look at people makes her desirable as a fine lady.

Thornton is the only interesting character of the lot. He was actually a character I could relate with. He had a personality, he had good and bad points, he treated people well, had a practical head on his shoulders, and was probably the only reason I could force myself to continue.

The romance is one-sided with Thornton being smacked over Margaret. The ending was unsatisfactory as I hoped that maybe we'd see a shift in Margaret's thoughts towards him as being someone she loved and then maybe some romance. Instead it's more like Thornton asks again and she reluctantly says okay, maybe we can have something.

I don't understand why he liked her.

I took a break from it at 35% percent. When I got around to picking it back up, I was hit by this overwhelming feeling of DO NOT WANT.

I mean, I really did not want to read more. I knew I wasn't enjoying it before that point as I had taken a break, but only when I realized I did not want to pick it back up did I realize how much I hated that story. I had gone too far to quit, but also not so far as to feel near the end. I think I read 5 other books before I hit the end of this nightmare as I had to keep switching to something else out of sheer boredom.

I'll never read another Gaskell book. If nothing else the droning, monotonous writing style is to be avoided at all costs. I couldn't face that again, not even if there was a decent plot with better characters. Sometimes I'll read a book I don't like and try another one by the author, but this was such a stand out case of NO NO NO that I would never pick up another of her books.

Stick to the movie!!! SO MUCH BETTER! The setting and names of characters are about all that's the same. Scenes cut, scenes added, new dialogue, characters personalities are changed, etc. It holds semblances of the book and touches of the character's personalities, but wow, yeah.

Full Review

  • Swiss Family Robinson
Swiss Family Robinson was the last book on my list that I had left. I was very excited about it as I grew up reading the abridged version and it was like the dream fantasy of being on an island with all the people you care about and not just surviving but creating this wonderful things.

Sadly reality didn't measure up. The original work is a story created based on bedtime stories the author used to tell his children. While I'm sure short 5-10 minute snippets of this would be fine, together it was a nightmare. I can see a parent trying to include a moral lesson in their bedtime story, but as an adult(or probably even a kid) reading a decent-sized novel, having not a single page without a moral smooshed into your face was enough to make me scream.

The family would catch a lobster and there'd be a moral about catching lobster, a moral about storing it, a moral about where you leave it, a moral about cooking it, a moral about the leftover lobster, and then the next day they'd take a walk and tie in something to another lobster moral.

I just wanted to go on an adventure!!! I didn't want something interesting to happen and then turn around and listen to 10 pages of how the father found ways to teach his children life lessons based on that thing.

It got to the point where instead of looking forward to the next inventive/interesting bit, I dreaded it. I was like, oh boy, they just found a coconut . . . here we go.

In summary I ended up hitting the end of my however many weeks of checkout time(library book) and renewing and hitting the end of that. I was sitting there with a book only 10% done and my childhood dreams of this grand adventure smashed. 

Last book so I allowed myself that DNF and said good riddance to it. Since I only hit 10% I don't have a rating for it. Because I'd only selected 5 books this year instead of last years 10, I decided on some alternatives. I picked two to replace this one.

  • Little House in the Big Woods (5 stars)
 I had a hit of nostalgia this summer and ended up doing a good bit of rereading. This made my choices for last minute challenge books easy. I went really far back to a book I probably haven't read in over 10 years. I'm sure there is no time like the first time, but I really loved reading this again. It went by so fast and definitely hit whatever nostalgia need I was having.

This is a simple story. Simple pleasures, a simple life, etc. It made me feel peaceful and relaxed. It was a like a bit of harmony in a chaotic world. Like if I'd gone out into the woods after a day of bustling around town and just sat there.

I loved how happy the family is in their tiny cabin with nothing more than the few necessities. They were so content with so little. I think sometimes in having so much now, there's an aspect of life we're missing out on. Not that I'd want to live like this(days to make a straw hat, a week to make cheese!) but that I do think there was something special they had that we don't. Something we gave up in gaining comfort, ease, and entertainment.
The descriptions of how they made things, how they went through the year,  and how they banded together to make work more efficient was captivating. Like looking into another world. It made me appreciate being able to go to the store and buy cheese and not having to worry about getting attacked while getting drinking water.

But I do still find the idea of playing in an attic full of produce or making maple syrup candy appealing.

Admit it! You so want to go make candy with me and listen to Pa tell stories of running from bears!

Full Review

  • Anne of Green Gables (5 stars)
 There's something special about Anne, isn't there? Something that's a little hard to put your finger on. There's been times where I've thought her kind of annoying and I understood where Marilla was coming from. But I also see why deep down, Marilla really liked Anne's crazy personality.

I think this is only my second time reading this book. It hits a lot of the same marks as Little House in that it feels . . . relaxing. It's peaceful and makes me walk away smiling when I'm done. Again there is something about a simpler time that makes me think.

Her spirit, her imagination, her spunk and fire! Her pure enjoyment of life and her capacity for deep emotions(of love or hate!). Her stubbornness and craziness. Yes, I get done with this book and find myself with little to say but, "There's just something special about Anne."

Full Review

Friday, October 27, 2017

Interview with Alex

For a twist, I'm hosting an interview with someone whose talent lies down a different creative path from my normal visitors.

Alex is a 28 year old self-taught artist from Jamaica. I met Alex in the gaming community and quickly discovered her love of creating art. I'm so excited to now be able to share her talent with all of you!

Kristen: Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions for me today, Alex. I'm curious to learn what got you interested in art. Was there that special moment? Or did you just always know?

Alex: I’ve been drawing since I was very small. The first thing I remember drawing as a small child was pokemon. A relative had bought me a book containing the pokemon from the first season of the anime, and I used the pictures in the book to copy them, then I cut the drawings out and stuck them on the wall in my bedroom.

Kristen: I bet that relative had no idea their gift would inspire you in such a long-lasting way! I'm sure your walls were an interesting sight.

What form(s) of art are your favorite?

Alex:  Ever since Primary School (Elementary School) I’ve been a fan of cartoons and anime. It was by watching my favorite animated programs on cartoon network that I developed a love for art, and to this day my favorite art form is anime/manga.

Kristen: Can you tell me a bit about your work and how you've progressed on your artistic journey?

Alex: During high school I put more focus and effort into my drawings, and in early high school I began to copy more complicated things like Yu-Gi-OH cards. My classmates were always fans of my work, but they began to ask if I could draw something else besides monsters. After hearing their comments I decided to try my hand at human characters, and it so happened to be around the time when Naruto first premiered on cartoon network. My first human character drawing was Gaara. I became known for being the weird girl who could draw, and classmates sometimes asked me to draw their assignments for them. At a certain point, even teachers started asking me to draw their diagrams on the chalkboard-I generously accepted.

During the latter part of high school some of the boys who were taking art as a subject began to criticize my abilities-they thought I couldn’t draw actual people. Now while realistic portraits are hardly a thing you’d expect from a child artist, I willingly accepted that challenge, and succeeded once again. As a senior in high school I started creating my own characters. 

Kristen: When you're not drawing, what do you spend your time doing?

Alex: After high school and into young adulthood I started to add to my hobbies. I learned how to do digital artwork and tattooing, and experimented with other styles. I also got into video games and weight lifting.

Kristen: Awesome! And I'm going to go ahead and share one of the pictures you sent me right now because I think it ties into that.

This was actually the first piece of artwork from you that I saw. I remember you talking about it as you worked, and going through a lot of preliminary work to get inspiration for it. And at the time I wasn't sure what the result was going to be. Then you finished it and when I saw it .  . . I was amazed. I still say you have a lot of talent.

So yes, readers, this is my favorite piece from Alex because I do remember the creation process. And the one in the stunning pink hat is Alex's fantasy incarnation.

Kristen: Out of curiosity, I punched some numbers and discovered that my state is 22 times larger than Jamaica. Holy crap! I just imagine you going stir crazy! I'm always wondering if islanders feel cagey after awhile or if it's just normal.

So on that note, iff you could go anywhere for a vacation, where would you go and what would you do?

Alex: It would be wonderful if I could one day visit Japan and experience the awesome culture first hand, that would be the best vacation imaginable.

Kristen: LOL, so another island! I guess I'm just imagining myself with island fever if I shifted suddenly from where I am to an island.

What inspires you? Is there anything about your country, town, area that you find particularly inspirational?

Alex: Living in a poor country, and being the harshly realistic person I am, I wouldn’t say I’m inspired by anything from my country in particular. Along the way however, I have met persons with whom I have things in common, which has helped me to be more enthusiastic about my work. In a place where you’re the outcast because your favorite things are foreign, it’s nice to see something that you can identify with. Whenever I feel like I can’t decide what to paint I watch a few cartoons, or maybe some episodes of bleach and a few minutes later ideas flood my mind. 

Kristen: What would you say to other artists to encourage them?

Alex: If I could give any solid advice to the other artists out there it would be-draw, paint, and sculpt, etc. what you enjoy. It’s more difficult to do something you don’t like than to do something you like. If a style speaks to you, learn it, practice it, and perfect it as much as you can. Don’t worry about if someone else’s work is better, because there are probably many artists out there who’d wish their work was like yours, and even more still who have no artistic talent. Remember that your art is tied to your emotion and is an expression of it.

Kristen: Great advice!  And so applicable to many forms of creative expression. Do what you love! 

What are your plans for the future?

Alex: In the future I plan on branching from realism to photo-realism, taking a crack at animation by studying at an art school, and perhaps practicing my tattooing skills more. 

Kristen: That sounds great for you! I wish you the best of luck. :)

And lastly, if people are interested in finding out more about you or your work, how could they do that? 

Alex: If anyone reading this would like to see some of my best pieces please feel free to visit my online gallery at Thank you for reading, now if you’ll excuse me I have to return to my pokeball ;)

Kristen: And thank you, Alex! It's been a pleasure to have you and good luck with all your endeavors

(All pictures included are ones created by Alex that she gave me permission to share with you!)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Summer Reading

It can't be true!!! Summer is over and I'm already dreading winter. Fall just means winter is coming. It's like the time to build up dread for the snow, cold, ice, shoveling, brushing, layers of clothing, and bills galore.

But also it's time for me to start looking at my plans for the "not outdoors" season. One of the things I let fall by the wayside this summer was blogging. (oh gosh, let's be honest, I let a lot of things fall behind.) I decided to spend the summer doing some different things and now I need to start shifting my mindset to include some of those things I let lapse.

Not sure yet WHEN I'll fully get back to all those things or what things I will attempt to recapture this *sob* winter. But here's starting off with something fairly easy. 

One of the things that I did a little bit of was reading, so here's my favorite books from this summer(okay and spring too). I chose to just mention my 4 and 5 star books as usual for my book trees. :)

So pretty!!!! Anyway, kicking it off with my 4 star reads! I have an interesting assortment here, starting with a classic!

  1. After the fun I had last year, I did choose to set myself a classic challenge again this year. And as I'd loved Pride and Prejudice I gave Sense and Sensibility a shot. Now I actually didn't like the tv series or the movie of this book. (though to be fair the series was closer to the book than the movie) So this was a challenge to choose because I wanted to see if I'd dislike it or not.

    I'm happy to say that I did enjoy it. Though I didn't love it like I did P&P I did enjoy it and found it immensely better than either of the adaptions. I'd sooner reread this book than watch a movie of it.

  2. The Enemy's Service was the final book in a series that I finished up this summer. I really loved the variety of view points and the story of what a war might look like for a regular person caught on the losing side. As this was MG, it prevented me from being completely sucked in as I have a hard time relating to really young characters. I'm too far past that stage in my life! Full review

  3. Chasing Lady Midnight was a new adventure for me. I can't recall reading many(if any) superhero books and mysteries have become a rarity since I was a teenager. This was both and though it took me some time to decide if I liked the MC's voice, I ended up really enjoying the story. Lady Midnight's personality and voice shown through everything. Very good work on the author's part. Full review

  4. Next up is Joss the Seven another MG book that was based on a young boy determined to make the best of his last summer on top of the middle school food chain. Things go awry when he discovers he has magical talents. But who is friend and who is foe? To the best of my knowledge, the boys in this book rang very true to what middle grade boys are like. Thought the twist was pretty ingenious.Full review
  5. My last 4 star book was The Trouble With Demons. Number 3 in an adult fantasy series, this is a book that I couldn't put down. There's some parts that were a little . . .meh for me. (not fond of romance or love triangles) But overall this was another humorous story in the series. I love the voice of the main character. Raine really shines through the pages and if for no other reason, I'd keep reading this series. The plot is fast-paced and you never want to set the book down. I mean, everything that can go wrong or make Raine's world more crazy, yeah it happens.

    Everyone and their evil uncle is after a special rock that is the source of Raine's power. (not that she asked to have the stupid rock, thank you very much.) They're bringing hellfire and brimstone to the hub of the world if that's what it takes to GET THAT ROCK. Full review

★★★★★ Reads

  1. The Door That Came to Dinner 

    Confession time. I'm a chicken when it comes to all thing scary or creepy. Long periods of continued suspense, no thank you. No to horror, etc. I have an active imagination that can't handle ideas that cause me no end of trouble.

    So when I picked this up, I really didn't know it was horror. I'm reading along and I'm like, "wow, something isn't right here." I was engaged by the very defined character voice. The story was well-built. And there was clearly something strange going on. I knew that. Something wasn't right. But whatever I was thinking wasn't a "horror" reason.

    Probably because I didn't know the genre, I didn't spend the whole book on the edge of my seat and terrified. I just saw things playing out differently so I was like hmm, this is interesting. THEN THAT ENDING! I was like, what the fuzzy pink slippers just happened?!

    I then had to immediately go engage my mind in something else so I didn't dwell on that ending. *shudders* But it didn't change the fact that until like that last paragraph or two I was really hooked by this story and completely enthralled. This is probably right up a horror lovers alley and for folks like me, this is what I imagine is a light trip into horror where if you're not expecting it the ending is the only thing that's going to make your brain scream. Full review

  2. Lost in a Book

    A retelling of a retelling? And oh look, it came out from DISNEY in time to celebrate their retelling of their original retelling. See where I'm going with this? Gorgeous cover, interesting sounding blurb . . . but . . . it was a clear marketing ploy building on the hype of a movie release.

    Basically I went into this book thinking I was going to hate it and then roll my eyes at all the other people too blinded by "OH MY GOSH IT'S DISNEY AND THEY HAVE A NEW MOVIE ABOUT THIS COMING OUT. OHMYGOSH. OHMYGOSH." Yep, I wasn't going to get taken in like those suckers!!!

    I say all of that for two reasons. First if you see this book and the above is your thought also, I encourage you to give it a chance. I was in the same boat as you! Second reason I share that is to say that I went into this already predisposed to not like it and the opposite happened.

    I actually really really really enjoyed this book. Retellings of retellings are kind a weird thing to me, but since it was only like a small portion it didn't drag me out of the story. The premise is that what if after Belle finds the library there's this whole section we didn't see in the movie.

    I looooove missing pieces. I like to wonder what might've happened between events. What we didn't see. Behind the scenes!

    I thought Belle's journey into a book, the lesson not to miss out on real life, and the one plot thread about how if you want something to be true, you'll believe it.

    The one thing that irked me was how blatantly obvious the evil was. "My name is Dark Evil and this is my leering henchman Black Slayer. Come to my Palace of the Dead that is dark and spooky and has creepy eyes leering at you."

    But at the end, there's this awesome bit where Death(the villain) tells Belle she made it so obvious and therefore Belle couldn't say she hadn't been given a fair chance. Belle comments that she had so badly wanted the lie to be true that she'd closed her eyes to the truth.

    It was definitely a twist where the MC misses something not because the author goofed or because the MC is stupid, but rather because much like real life, the MC simply wanted what was a lie to be true so they let themselves believe it. Full review

  3. The Enemy of an Enemy was another book I started out a bit leery of. This time it was because of the first page of reviews. Eek! Not a good feeling to pick up a book where most of the top rated reviews aren't promising. I already had the book at that point, so I figured I might as well give it a shot.

    Perhaps I'm just not use to the genre so it was a new adventure for me, but whatever the reason I really liked this. My only real complaint was the ending could've been handled better. This was the book I couldn't put down. I was up late, then up early again to keep reading it. I HAD to know what happened next. Full review

  4. My mom read to me a lot when I was a kid and one of the books I distinctly remember her reading was When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. I haven't read it since then, but had a nostalgic summer and decided to go back and read it for myself.

    I can so see why this made an impact on me as a kid, and it had an impact on me now. This is truly an amazing story. Judith Kerr may have given her characters fictional names, but this is HER story. This is her WWII experience. It's her family's experience. And yes it's different from most WWII books.

    The little girl in the book is Anna. Her father is able to get himself and his family out of Germany before it's impossible. It covers from right before the family leaves through their journey after. Anna has such a bright spirit and she says near the end of the book that as long as she has her family and they're together, she can forget she's a refugee.

    This book had both a theme of two kids who find a way to stay optimistic when their world is turned upside down, while not undermining what was happening at the time. As an adult I see that a man lost his job, had his books burned, had to leave his family temporarily to escape, and then wait for them to join him. He has to find a way to provide for his family when no one will hire him and he lost everything.

    A woman who has to rush herself and her kids out of the country alone. She has to leave her home and possessions behind. And they never do get them back. Having to watch her kids be treated like less-than because of who they are.

    And it goes on. There's moments we see where like a German family forbids their kids to play with them. A story from a visitor about a professor who was humiliated, degraded, and eventually his mind broken. A brilliant person lowered to the state of an animal. That's probably one of the darkest moments in the book.

    And then again at the end with Anna's uncle. I teared right up for that part. A quiet man who loved his work at a library and was fired. Then his one other passion had been regular visits to the zoo. He was such a familiar face that that animals responded to him and were excited by his visits. Because he was a Jew, he was forbidden from ever coming back. And it just broke him and I so did cry.

    This is perfect for young kids who aren't ready for the full ugliness of the time, but who can learn from Anna's attitude and get glimpses of the horror in a small measure. Full review
  5. Little House in the Big Woods

    This was part of my classic reading challenge, so I'm saving up my thoughts for that post. But again, here's more of me being nostalgic.
  6. Anne of Green Gables

    Same as above.

  7. The Bloodstone Chronicles was another childhood favorite for me and my siblings. I actually read the book and listened to the audiobook at the time. I will say that after rereading the book if my memory serves me correctly the audiobook was better.

    A MG allegory that follows three kids on their adventures into an alternate dimension. There they meet new friends, enemies, and Creator. If you love allegories, then this is one that shouldn't miss your to-read list. I distinctly remember crying over the story of Denise when she gets to create her own little people and understands what that kind of love is like. Full review.
  8. Den of Wolves closes up this list! If I still have your attention, I'm telling you, READ THIS BOOK. I don't normally read adult fantasy(hard to find stuff that's not over-the-top adult) but this is a series I stumbled on and is just beyond words.

    The characters are some of the most well-developed and "real" that I've come across in any book. Such a level of depth to this series and though I felt like this book was the weakest of the series(like the author felt rushed to end it and hurried the ending), it didn't change that overall this series is simply amazing.  The sequence of events are so gripping that putting this down was nearly impossible. Not to mention that I was overcome by a desire to READ faster. I couldn't read this fast enough, it was so good it was killing me to not know what was next.

    Definitely my number one book for the summer.  Full review

    What did you read this summer? Anything that really stood out as a must read?