Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dorothy Must Die

It was an accident. I didn't mean to fall in love with Amy in the first three paragraphs, and be all in by page three. When I sat down in the parking lot, waiting for a meeting to let out, I didn't realize that I'd brought with me what needed to be a one-sitting book. Had I not needed to drive home halfway through, it would have been.

I'm not the biggest Wizard of Oz fan. Sure, I liked it. Yes, I even watched Return to Oz - don't. It's a terrible movie. Yes, I've read Wicked, Son of a Witch etc, and yes, I've seen Wicked, but.... not my fandom, not my flying monkeys. So, when my YA librarian slipped this to me with a knowing "you'll like it," I wasn't sure I believed her. This is the same woman who thought I'd like the disappointment that was A Discovery of Witches (though I admit it started strong and that was the only time she ever steered me wrong).

I bring up A Discovery of Witches because it's relevant here, and not just because Dorothy Must Die is about witches, which, of course it is kind of is. It's rather difficult to extract witches from Oz and still have a solid story. But A Discovery of Witches, in case you've read it (and yes, I'm comparing "grown up books" to "YA") does this thing that I hate, and it bears bringing up, because about a fifth of the way in, I was pretty sure Dorothy Must Die was going to do it too. In A Discovery of Witches, the first half of the book is a wonderfully detailed story about a brilliant researcher with a magical family, who wants to succeed on her own and goes to great lengths to survive apart from the world of witchcraft, vampires, and all the other creatures one doesn't really believe in, but suddenly finds herself being pulled back into that world. The first half is great world and character building. Then the scenery changes, she goes to France, and becomes a weak, simpering, bodice ripper damsel. The descent into a tawdry romance novel was such a disappointment. For many, the third location and shift in genre toward the end made up for that, but for me, it was hard to bounce back.

Well, when Amy (spoiler alert) ends up in Oz, (are you that surprised? I'm pretty sure that's on the cover, so I guess it's not really a spoiler) and is met by the most painfully beautiful boy she's ever met with these magically green eyes, my heart fell. It was scene change genre change all over again, but I loved her character enough to stick with it, and I'm glad I did. Much to my delight, this did not signal the usual disintegration into a predictable YA romance. Before anyone argues that there's nothing wrong with a romance, no, there isn't anything wrong with a romance, and I kind of hope that this series sees a little more of it over the next few books, but what I absolutely adore about this book is that it's really not about Amy's relationship with some boy, it's about her relationship with herself and her family.

Although set against the backdrop of a dystopian Oz, Dorothy Must Die is really about Amy's personal and ethical journey of self discovery, and any book that starts with the main character telling the reader exactly how long she's known she was trash- that means a lot. This is a story about a girl who makes hard choices in difficult positions, who learns a lot about herself, and slowly overcomes the labels people have heaped on her as well as the ones she's allowed to stick. It's a story about a girl being asked to liberate a people who maybe, just maybe is going to liberate herself instead.

I like it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cover Reveal: Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

When a plane crashes in the woods near Jess’s home, the boy of her dreams falls out of the sky—literally. But David’s not here to find a girlfriend. He’s from another planet, and if Jess can’t help him get back to his ship, he’ll be stuck on Earth with nothing to look forward to but the pointy end of a dissection scalpel.
But her father runs their house like an army barracks, and with an alien on the loose, Major Dad isn’t too keen on the idea of Jess going anywhere. Ever. So how the heck is she supposed to help the sweetest, strangest, and cutest guy she’s ever met?
Hiding him in her room probably isn’t the best idea. Especially since her Dad is in charge of the squadron searching for David. That doesn’t mean she won’t do it. It just means she can't get caught.
Helping David get home while protecting her heart—that’s gonna be the hard part. After all, she can't really fall for a guy who’s not exactly from here.
As they race through the woods with Major Dad and most of the U.S. military one breath behind them, Jess and David grow closer than either of them anticipated. But all is not what it seems. David has a genocide-sized secret, and one betrayal later, they are both in handcuffs as alien warships are positioning themselves around the globe. Time is ticking down to Armageddon, and Jess must think fast if she's to save the boy she cares about without sacrificing Earth—and everyone on it.</ p>
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Title: Fire in the Woods
Publication date: September 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Jennifer M. Eaton
Jennifer M. Eaton
Corporate Team Leader by day, and Ranting Writer by night. Jennifer M. Eaton calls the East Coast of the USA home, where she lives with her husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle.
Jennifer hosts an informational blog “A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers (or Learn from My Mistakes)” aimed at helping all writers be the best they can be.
Beyond writing and motivating others, she also enjoys teaching her dog to jump through hoops—literally.
Jennifer’s perfect day includes long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but her greatest joy is using her over-active imagination constructively… creating new worlds for everyone to enjoy.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014


PeggyPeggy by Anna Walker

One of the most clever books about a chicken you'll ever come across. Endearing, adorable, and just about perfect. I haven't read it to my son yet, but I want it on my forever shelf, for myself.  As I said, some children's books are well worth reading, even as an adult. Really, with the detail and all the thought that was put into this book, adults will probably love it most.

Blown from her country home, Peggy finds that she really does fit in in the hustle and bustle of the big city. It's a marvelous adventure for the most unlikely of adventurers that reminded me that attitude in adversity makes all the difference between a horrific occurrence and a wonderful change of pace.

This is a wonderful book for kids, for young adults heading off to college, for adults facing life changes, and for people who just love chickens and characters who can face down any adventure without getting their feathers too ruffled.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Never Grow Up: Five Reasons to Keep Reading Children's Books

At some point a lot of people probably convinced you that you had to read something "your age."  It probably started in grade school when you went to the library and picked up a book you wanted to read and your teacher said you needed to pick something "on grade level," or "on your reading level." Maybe someone told you that you needed to read something "more challenging." Maybe it just came in the form of praise for reading ahead of grade level, but at some point the message became clear- those thin bright volumes with the whimsical and enchanting pictures? Those are for babies.

Well, here are five good reasons to keep reading children's books.

1. They are good. Seriously good reading lives in the children's section, all the way from picture books to chapter books. Well written and thought provoking work, despite it's brevity.

2. Whimsy. We all need more of it, and there's short supply once you venture out of the children's section, with the possible exception of Jasper Fforde.

3. The morals and lessons still apply. Just because we all got taller and had to learn to balance our check books and hold down a job or keep our schedules straight, that doesn't mean that we can't use a solid reminder about how to make friends, and that it's okay to cry when our bird dies. Books aimed at kids cut through the drama to the heart of the message in clear and accessible terms- yes, going home when you're sad can help. Yes, accepting who you are is so much better than trying to be who you aren't. It's okay to have a day when you need to go Where the Wild Things Are, and sometimes an unexpected and potentially terrifying upheaval can lead to a wonderful adventure and meeting new friends.

4. Art. It's great to have the images in your own head, but enjoying the wonderfully colorful and detailed artwork of another human is like a glimpse into another world, and like taking a breezy stroll through someone else's garden. I highly recommend it. Some books beg to be enjoyed strictly for the art.

5. Nostalgia. There's something heartening in enjoying a book you loved as a child, and you shouldn't have to have or borrow a child in order to do it.

So, feel free to enjoy the children's section to your heart's content. There's good work in there just waiting for you.

Check out some of the Children's books I've reviewed on Biblivoracious here and here.

Monday, July 21, 2014


 140 Character Book Reviews

A quick and colorful story about a bright orange cat with a regular life who gets a notion in her head that it might be nice to be someone else. What I liked best about Carrot was the intensity of color in the illustrations, and their energy. The story was cute and will appeal to kids who like to daydream about being someone else, and who enjoy the reminder that being oneself is a good thing, but when reading it aloud, the rhythm was awkward.

I had the opportunity to review an ebook version of Carrot through Netgalley.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cover Reveal: Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show by Steve Bryant and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show
by Steve Bryant

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Lucas MacKenzie eBook 

Lucas Mackenzie has got the best job of any 10 year old boy. He travels from city-to-city as part of the London Midnight Ghost Show, scaring unsuspecting show-goers year round. Performing comes naturally to Lucas and the rest of the troupe, who’ve been doing it for as long as Lucas can remember.
But there’s something Lucas doesn’t know.
Like the rest of Luca’s friends, he’s dead. And for some reason, Lucas can’t remember his former life, his parents or friends. Did he go to school? Have a dog? Brothers and sisters?
If only he could recall his former life, maybe even reach out to his parents, haunt them.
When a ghost hunter determines to shut the show down, Lucas realizes the life he has might soon be over. And without a connection to his family, he will have nothing. There’s little time and Lucas has much to do. Can he win the love of Columbine, the show's enchanting fifteen- year-old mystic? Can he outwit the forces of life and death that thwart his efforts to find his family?
Keep the lights on! Lucas Mackenzie’s coming to town.
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Title: Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show
Publication date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Steve Bryant</ p>
Steve Bryant is a new novelist, but a veteran author of books of card tricks. He founded a 40+ page monthly internet magazine for magicians containing news, reviews, magic tricks, humor, and fiction; and he frequently contributes biographical cover articles to the country’s two leading magic journals (his most recent article was about the séance at Hollywood’s Magic Castle).</ p>
Connect with the Author: Website | Twi</ b>tter | Goodreads

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Guilt-free Baking

I had the pleasure of borrowing a review ARC of Guilt-free Baking through Netgalley.

 Usually, low fat desserts involve a lot of sugar, and low-calorie baking is just a nightmare of chemical soup. But whole grains and solid ingredients carefully balanced to create the perfect baked good? Now that's a concept I can get behind. Of course, they really got me at Lavender Cupcakes. I have a soft spot for cooking with lavender (any edible flower, really, but lavender in specific- it's what defines the cola flavor profile), and when the ingredient list is as smooth as self rising flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, dried lavender, sugar, plain yogurt, vanilla bean paste, milk, and sunflower oil... well, you have an eager audience.

I admit my skepticism is only outweighed by my curiosity when it comes to the chocolate cupcakes with avocado frosting. I may yet have to attempt this recipe. The directions, as with all the directions in this book, are straightforward, and I don't feel they exceed my culinary talents. A great boon to the decision making process, when staring down any of these recipes, is the quick nutrition guideline for each recipe, delineating the calories and fat along with approximate prep time and number of servings. Of course, that only holds if you follow the recipes as written instead of venturing off on your own, using them more as a guildebook than anything else.

All in all, a good book to expand your less guilty indulgence repertoire. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cover Reveal: Life AD 2: M.I.A.: Missing in Atman by Michelle E. Reed and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Life AD 2: M.I.A.: Missing in Atman
by Michelle E. Reed

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Dez is finally hitting her afterlife stride. She hasn’t missed a meeting or session in forty-two days, and she’s put the adventures and danger of her first days at Atman behind her. Life after death is becoming tolerable, yet nothing is quite what she’d hoped. Confusion over her feelings for Charlie, residual resentment over losing Hannah, and a continuous stream of unwanted assignments leave Dez restless and argumentative.
In a missed encounter with Crosby, her prying gaze lands upon a single entry in the datebook on his unoccupied desk. These few, hastily scribbled words reveal an enormous secret he’s keeping from her. Possessed by a painful sense of betrayal, she once again sneaks off to Atman City, determined to find answers to an unresolved piece of her life.
It begins as all their adventures do, but as light falls into darkness, a stop in an unfamiliar neighborhood sets forth a chaotic series of events. Dez will have to fight for her very existence, and will face painful, irreparable loss in an afterlife teeming with demons wielding ancient powers.
In M.I.A.: Missing in Atman, the second book in the Atman City series, Michelle E. Reed continues the story of Dez Donnelly, pushing her to her limits and surprising readers at every twist and turn of the vast world that is Atman.
Death was only the beginning.
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Title: Life AD 2: M.I.A.: Missing in Atman
Publication date: December 16, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Michelle E. Reed
Michelle E. Reed
Michelle was born in a small Midwestern town, to which she has returned to raise her own family. Her imagination and love of literature were fueled by a childhood of late nights, hidden under the covers and reading by flashlight. She is a passionate adoption advocate who lives in Wisconsin with her husband, son, and their yellow lab, Sully.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Thursday, July 10, 2014


When Curled into a good book, it takes a truly witty or moving turn of phrase to pull me away from the next morsel in order to take notes, or to mark a passage.  Yet, something in Carol Muske-Dukes word choice, her deft execution of the trickster form, the seductive way she turns a poem on the reader and leaves them as exposed as the subject matter, left me marking passages again and again, notating over and over, "yes! this is exactly how it feels," or "Mrs. L. needs to read this." Twenty-two times she caught me, brought me up short, and sent me scrambling for a way to remember her words and the way they made me feel in that moment.

Her word choice in The Painter's Daughter,  "Coaxing the murder that no one saw from the stubborn evidence of light." It's visceral, full bodied, and yet somehow alienating. When she writes about the opium trip of a man who seems to has lost his lover, perhaps his wife in a car accident that was his fault, but that he can't escape the pain and guilt of, the poem begins so inconspicuously, but ends so painfully and hauntingly, it's like a scab you can't help but pick.

Her writing puts me in mind of Margaret Atwood, and will stay with me. Her work is uncomfortable, explores, child loss, abandonment, violence, abuse, gender identity, and ivory tower feminism. It certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for those moved but such tea, it is strong tea.

Skylight is published by Open Road Integrated Media and is available on Amazon.

I  recieved a free review copy through Netgalley.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Quilting Reviewer's Litmus Test

I have read a lot of quilting books. I don't want to confuse you by pretending to have finished, from plan, to piecing, sandwiching, quilting, and binding very many, but oh, the UFOs I've started. They are numerous, and of varied quality. I have grown up enough to admit that one or two were really just learning experiences- very expensive learning experiences.

As a bibliophile, I'm all about letting the books around me take some of the misery out of the learning process, so for every quilt I've started, I've probably read at least two quilting books. In the last week a friend who has sworn off sewing dropped two paper grocery sacks of quilting books off on my porch. Most of them were a touch more traditional than what I typically go in for, but nearly every one had a specific pattern that I'd long been curious to learn. Cathedral Windows.

Of course, I'd been long intimidated by the first complicated write up I'd ever read of the process, so I sat down and flipped through each book to their directions on how to make the Cathedral Windows block, figuring, whichever books made the process make sense would probably do a better job of explaining the other projects as well.

So that's my new litmus test for traditional quilting books- does it write up a decent explanation of Cathedral Windows, or does it leave the quilting hobbyist rocking in the corner of her sewing dungeon in some upright variation of the fetal position? If it's clear, then it might need to remain on my shelf, if not... well, my shelf space is limited, and I like to support the library's annual book sale.

More on which books I'm keeping and which I'm not even bothering with in days to come. 

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Review: Stitch it Simple: 25 hand sewn projects to make and share

The only way Beth Sheard could have tiled her collection of fun and whimsical projects more honestly than "Stitch it Simple," would be to call this the "Stashbusting Guide to Ditching That Craftersblock."

My sewing dungeon hadn't hardly seen me for anything more than some sorting and absolutely necessary dress alterations for the last four months when I cracked this open, and while I've found a lot of things that almost put me in a sewing mood lately, the combination of extreme simplicity, whimsical print, and a bold fun aesthetic in Stitch it Simple actually had me looking at my fabrc stash thinking, "hey baby, you're no Kaffe Fassett, but you and your friends there would make a glorious set of alphanumeric pillows, and oh, the sweet bunting you could be. Bonus points for extremely easy to follow instructions.

I'm a stickler for easy to follow instructions. In the last week I've been trying sort one simple patchwork technique, and I turned to five printed sources on my shelves before giving up and letting youtube explain it. (Seriously, Cathedral Windows write ups have a tendency to be serpentine.)I really don't have the energy to compare instructions from multiple sources in order to begin a project. It sucks all the joy out of the creative process for me. So, I doubly appreciate that the directions printed in Stitch it Simple really were quite simple. 

Of course, I first picked up a needle and thread with the intent to become their master when I was nine, so if you've never picked up a needle before, the beginning overview of basic techniques may feel like a graduate course, but I felt like it was a good springboard for talking about the uncomplicated projects that followed.

I liked it, and moreover I liked that I now feel compelled to add some more color to my world.

Happy reading, and happier sewing.

I received an e copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cover Reveal: Avian (The Dragonrider Chronicles #2) by Nicole Conway and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Avian (The Dragonrider Chronicles #2)
by Nicole Conway

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
What kind of power is lurking inside him?
After a year of training to become a dragonrider, Jaevid Broadfeather has been sent home to rest during a three-month interlude. But when he returns to find the king drake has chosen Beckah Derrick as his new rider, Jaevid realizes something big is about to happen. Every fiber of his being is pushed to the breaking point as Jaevid battles through his avian year, preparing for the final graduation test of the battle scenario. But there is more standing in his way than a few pushups and fancy sword moves.
Jaevid must face a new fear as he is tormented by a gruesome nightmare of a mysterious gray elf warrior murdering the royal family of Maldobar. It seems obvious to him that this is some kind of message about how the war started long ago—until Felix assures him the king is very much alive. With his strange powers growing stronger by the day, and that violent dream replaying in his mind every night, Jaevid no longer wonders if he will pass his avian year or not . . . he wonders if he will even survive it.
The truth will soon be set loose.
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Title: Avian (The Dragonrider Chronicles #2)
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Nicole Conway
Nicole is the author of the children’s fantasy series, THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES, about a young boy’s journey into manhood as he trains to become a dragonrider. She has completed the first two books in the series, and is now working on the third and final book.
Originally from a small town in North Alabama, Nicole moves frequently due to her husband’s career as a pilot for the United States Air Force. She received a B.A. in English with a concentration in Classics from Auburn University, and will soon attend graduate school.
She has previously worked as a freelance and graphic artist for promotional companies, but has now embraced writing as a full-time occupation.
Nicole enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also loves watching children’s movies and collecting books. She lives at home with her husband, two cats, and dog.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter</ b> | Facebook</ b>

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