Archive | December 2016

Multi-tasking While Coloring: “Tokidoki Postcard Book”

While I haven’t jumped totally onto the coloring as relaxation train yet, I certainly understand it. It was something I did mindlessly almost, there were no wrong answers in coloring. I had detailed coloring pages even as a teenager. It wasn’t something I even thought to pick up again as an adult until recently, when I received the “Tokidoki Postcard Book” for Christmas.


This really works for me, because I’m not just coloring-I’m decorating a postcard to send to a friend or other loved one. I think my mom-brain can no longer allow functions that don’t serve a known purpose.You get two sets of each design; a pre-colored one and one for you to fill in, which gives you 80 postcards. For under ten dollars, that is pretty good.


The designs are modern and cute, which is a Tokidoki standard, and armed with some colored pencils you will basically be set. I’m not even using my more expensive Prismacolors on these, and they look great anyway.

If you find that coloring helps calm you or are looking to give it a try, I recommend this postcard book. Once you’re finished coloring, you can send it to someone you care about, and hand-written letters are a joy to get.



Review: The Sun Is Also a Star



The Instant New York Times Bestseller!

The dazzling new novel from Nicola Yoon, the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Everything, Everything, will have you falling in love with Natasha and Daniel as they fall in love with each other!

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?


My Review:

I expected this book to be super cute from all the raving reviews, unfortunately this wasn’t what happened for me. The book started out okay, but when all the grunge band name dropping started to form, I had started having enough. I don’t care about Nirvana, Chris Cornell, or Pearl Jam! I actually prefer it when authors make up band names or movie titles instead of name dropping all the time. I could have overlooked this if I had actually liked the book.

I liked Daniel until his love (I mean obsession) started to form as soon as he meets Natasha. I can definitely see starting an awesome attraction and hanging out and really liking each other in one day but not saying I love you!!! Natasha I just really didn’t care for either! I feel bad because I was excited for the diversity of this book! Jamaican and Korean American were awesome!!

Then we get to the dialogue and most of it is mumbo jumbo that no one can really understand unless you are some philosophical type of person, which I am not! I usually stick to fantasy, but occasionally I like to read a nice contemporary book. This just wasn’t for me, but I can see where a lot of people would love this type of book, so you should just read it for yourself to find out!


NICOLA YOON grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and their daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everythingis her first novel.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Review: Frostblood

Title: Frostblood

Author: Elly Blake

Publication Date: January 10th, 2017


Goodreads Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

My Review:

I have been wanting to read this book for a while now, so when I finally got approved for an ARC I was beyond ecstatic. The whole fire and ice thing mine seem to be nothing new, but I love it!!! Unfortunately it wasn’t as awesome as I thought it would be.

Ruby’s village was destroyed when the King’s men discover her. After the village is gone, she is locked away in a cell for months until a monk and a young man with a face hidden behind a hood come to rescue her. She is believed to be the one that will help defeat the Frost King.

This book went back and forth for me. There were some pretty good scenes, but then there was some info dumping that I could have done without. I loved Ruby’s fire powers though. It reminded me of Elsa if she were to have had fire power!


Photo Credit

Arkus was an interesting character, and there were parts of him that I loved learning about along the way. He was intense at time in his broodiness, but he had good reasons. The romance that evolves between Ruby and him is sweet, but I just wish I had connected better with the characters themselves. However, when the two trained together with frost against fire it was perfection.

Things got a little slow for me again when Ruby goes to the kingdom. This point I feel like things should have picked up. Yes there was some gladiator styled moments, but I still did not feel excited. The ending got pretty good so my feelings are really all over the place with this book. Overall the book was just an okay read for me, but I still will most likely read the next book.



How does this book sound to you?

Freeks: Excerpt + Giveaway


Date of Publication: January 3rd, 2017




Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.


1. Premonitions

My feet rested against the dashboard of the Winnebago as we lumbered down the road, the second vehicle in a small caravan of beat-up trailers and motorhomes.

The sun hadn’t completely risen yet, but it was light enough that I could see outside. Not that there was much to see. The bridge stretched on for miles across Lake Tristeaux, and I could see nothing but the water around us, looking gray in the early morning light.

The AC had gone out sometime in Texas, and we wouldn’t have the money to fix it until after this stint in Caudry, if we were lucky. I’d cracked the window, and despite the chill, the air felt thick with humidity. That’s why I never liked traveling to the southeastern part of the country—too humid and too many bugs.

But we took the work that we got, and after a long dry spell waiting in Oklahoma for something to come up, I was grateful for this. We all were. If we hadn’t gotten the recommendation to Caudry, I’m not sure what we would’ve done, but we were spending our last dimes and nickels just to make it down here.

I stared ahead at Gideon’s motorhome in front of us. The whole thing had been painted black with brightly colored designs swirling around it, meant to invoke images of mystery and magic. The name “Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow” was painted across the back and both the sides. Once sparkles had outlined it, but they’d long since worn off.

My eyelids began to feel heavy, but I tried to ward off sleep. The radio in the car was playing old Pink Floyd songs that my mom hummed along to, and that wasn’t helping anything.

“You can go lay down in the back,” Mom suggested.

She did look awake, her dark gray eyes wide and a little frantic, and both her hands gripped the wheel. Rings made of painted gold and cheap stones adorned her fingers, glinting as the sun began to rise over the lake, and black vine tattoos wrapped around her hands and down her arms.

For a while, people had mistaken us for sisters since we looked so much alike. The rich caramel skin we both shared helped keep her looking young, but the strain of recent years had begun to wear on her, causing crow’s feet to sprout around her eyes and worried creases to deepen in her brow.

I’d been slouching low in the seat but I sat up straighter. “No, I’m okay.”

“We’re almost there. I’ll be fine,” she insisted.

“You say we’re almost there, but it feels like we’re driving across the Gulf of Mexico,” I said, and she laughed. “We’ve probably reached the Atlantic by now.”

She’d been driving the night shift, which was why I was hesitant to leave her. We normally would’ve switched spots about an hour or two ago, with me driving while she lay down. But since we were so close to our destination, she didn’t see the point in it.

On the worn padded bench beside the dining table, Blossom Mandelbaum snored loudly, as if to remind us we both should be sleeping. I glanced back at her. Her head lay at a weird angle, propped up on a cushion, and her brown curls fell around her face.

Ordinarily, Blossom would be in the Airstream she shared with Carrie Lu, but since Carrie and the Strongman had started dating (and he had begun staying over in their trailer), Blossom had taken to crashing in our trailer sometimes to give them privacy.

It wasn’t much of a bother when she slept here, and in fact, my mom kind of liked it. As one of the oldest members of the carnival—both in age and the length of time she’d been working here—my mom had become a surrogate mother to many of the runaways and lost souls that found us.

Blossom was two years younger than me, on the run from a group home that didn’t understand her or what she could do, and my mom had been more than happy to take her under her wing. The only downside was her snoring.

Well, that and the telekinesis.

“Mara,” Mom said, her eyes on the rearview mirror. “She’s doing it again.”

“What?” I asked, but I’d already turned around to look back over the seat.

At first, I didn’t know what had caught my mom’s eye, but then I saw it—the old toaster we’d left out on the counter was now floating in the air, hovering precariously above Blossom’s head.

The ability to move things with her mind served Blossom well when she worked as the Magician’s Assistant in Gideon’s act, but it could be real problematic sometimes. She had this awful habit of unintentionally pulling things toward her when she was dreaming. At least a dozen times, she’d woken up to books and tapes dropping on her. Once my mom’s favorite coffee mug had smacked her right in the head.

“Got it,” I told my mom, and I unbuckled my seat belt and went over to get it.

The toaster floated in front of me, as if suspended by a string, and when I grabbed it, Blossom made a snorting sound and shifted in her sleep. I turned around with the toaster under my arm, and I looked in front of us just in time to see Gideon’s trailer skid to the side of the road and nearly smash into the guardrail.

“Mom! Look out!” I shouted.

Mom slammed on the brakes, causing most of our possessions in the trailer to go hurtling toward the floor, and I slammed into the seat in front of me before falling to the ground. The toaster had slipped free from my grasp and clattered into the dashboard.

Fortunately, there was no oncoming traffic, but I could hear the sound of squealing tires and honking behind us as the rest of the caravan came to an abrupt stop.

“What happened?” Blossom asked, waking up in a daze from where she’d landed on the floor beneath the dining table.

“Mara!” Mom had already leapt from her seat and crouched in front of where I still lay on the worn carpet. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I assured her.

“What about you?” Mom reached out, brushing back Blossom’s frizzy curls from her face. “Are you all right?”

Blossom nodded. “I think so.”

“Good.” That was all the reassurance my mom needed, and then she was on her feet and jumping out of the Winnebago. “Gideon!”

“What happened?” Blossom asked again, blinking the sleep out of her dark brown eyes.

“I don’t know. Gideon slammed on his brakes for some reason.” I stood up, moving much slower than my mother.

We had very narrowly avoided crashing into Gideon. He’d overcorrected and jerked to the other side of the road, so his motorhome was parked at an angle across both lanes of the highway.

“Is everyone okay?” Blossom had sat up, rubbing her head, and a dark splotch of a bruise was already forming on her forehead. That explained why she seemed even foggier than normal—she’d hit her head pretty good.

“I hope so. I’ll go check it out,” I said. “Stay here.”

By the time I’d gotten out, Seth Holden had already gotten out of the motorhome behind us. Since he was the Strongman, he was usually the first to rush into an accident. He wanted to help if he could, and he usually could.

“Lyanka, I’m fine,” Gideon was saying to my mother, his British accent sounding firm and annoyed.

“You are not fine, albi,” Mom said, using a term of affection despite the irritation in her voice.

I rounded the back of his motorhome to find Gideon leaning against it with my mom hovering at his side. Seth reached them first, his t-shirt pulled taut against his muscular torso.

“What’s going on? What happened?” Seth asked.

“Nothing. I just dozed off for a second.” Gideon waved it off. “Go tell everyone I’m fine. I just need a second, and we’ll be on our way again.”

“Do you want me to drive for you?” Seth asked. “Carrie can handle the Airstream.”

Gideon shook his head and stood up straighter. “I’ve got it. We’re almost there.”

“All right.” Seth looked uncertainly at my mom, and she nodded at him. “I’ll leave you in Lyanka’s care and get everyone settled down.”

As soon as Seth disappeared back around the motorhome, loudly announcing that everything was fine to everyone else, Gideon slumped against the trailer. His black hair had fallen over his forehead. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up, revealing the thick black tattoos that covered both his arms.

“Gideon, what’s really going on?” Mom demanded with a worried tremor.

He swallowed and rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know.”

Even though the sun was up now, the air seemed to have gotten chillier. I pulled my sweater tighter around me and walked closer to them. Gideon leaned forward, his head bowed down, and Mom rubbed his back.

“You didn’t fall asleep, did you?” I asked.

Gideon lifted his eyes, looking as though he didn’t know I was there. And guessing by how pained he was allowing himself to look, he probably hadn’t. Gideon was only in his early thirties, but right now, he appeared much older than that.

That wasn’t what scared me, though. It was how dark his blue eyes were. Normally, they were light, almost like the sky. But whenever he’d had a vision or some kind of premonition, his eyes turned so dark they were nearly black.

“It was a headache,” Gideon said finally.

“There’s something off here,” Mom said. “I felt it as soon as we got on the bridge. I knew we should turn back, but I hoped that maybe I was imagining things. Now that I look at you, I know.”

That explained that frantic look in her eyes I’d seen earlier in the Winnebago, and how alert she’d been even though she’d been awake and driving for nearly twenty hours straight. Mom didn’t see things in the way Gideon did, but she had her own senses.

“It’s fine, Lyanka,” Gideon insisted. He straightened up again, and his eyes had begun to lighten. “It was only a migraine, but it passed. I am capable of having pain without supernatural reasons, too.”

Mom crossed her arms over her chest, and her lips were pressed into a thin line. “We should go back.”

“We’re almost there.” Gideon gestured to the end of the road, and I looked ahead for the first time and realized that we could see land. The town was nestled right up to the lake, and we couldn’t be more than ten minutes outside the city limits.

“We could still turn around,” Mom suggested.

“We can’t.” He put his hands on her arms to ease her worries. “We don’t have any money, love. The only way we can go is forward.”

“Gideon.” She sighed and stared up at the sky, the violet fabric of her dress billowing out around her as the wind blew over us, then she looked back at him. “Are you sure you’re okay to drive?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Whatever pain I had, it’s passed.” He smiled to reassure her. “We should go before the others get restless.”

She lowered her eyes, but when he leaned in to kiss her, she let him. She turned to go back to our motorhome, and as she walked past me, she muttered, “I knew we should never travel on Friday the thirteenth. No good ever comes of it.”

I’d waited until she’d gone around the corner to turn back to Gideon, who attempted to give me the same reassuring smile he’d given my mom.

“We could go back,” I said. “There’s always a way. We’ve made it on less before.”

“Not this time, darling.” He shook his head. “And there’s no reason to. Leonid assured me there’d be a big payday here, and I’ve got no reason to doubt him. We can make a go of it here.”

“As long as you’re sure we’ll be okay.”

“I haven’t steered you all wrong yet.” Gideon winked at me then, but he was telling the truth. In the ten years that my mom and I had been following him around the country, he’d always done the best he could by us.

I went back and got into the Winnebago with my mom and Blossom. Within a couple minutes, Gideon had straightened his motorhome out, and the caravan was heading back down the road. At the end of the bridge was a large sign that read WELCOME TO CAUDRY, POPULATION 13,665.

As soon as we crossed the line into town, the air seemed even colder than before. That’s when I realized the chill wasn’t coming from outside—it was coming from within me.

Copyright © 2016 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

Buy Links:

Macmillan    Books-A-Million   Barnes & Noble   Amazon


Author: Amanda Hocking


Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter @Amanda_Hocking


Author Blog




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How does this book sound to you?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books of 2016


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s topic is Top Ten Best Books Of 2016



What is your top book of 2016?

Motion Picture Monday: Indie Spotlight


Movie Title: Falling Overnight

Date of Release: April 8th, 2011


IMDB Summary:

On the day before his scheduled surgery to remove a brain tumor, Elliot meets Chloe Webb, a young photographer who invites him to her art show. An intimate night threatens to be overwritten when Elliot shares his news the next morning.

I loved this movie! It is the perfect first night of getting to know someone that you are interested in, but will there be a tomorrow?


How does this movie look to you?

Review: A Boy Called Christmas



Before there was Santa Claus, there was a young boy who believed in the impossible. . . . Lemony Snicket meets Elf in this warmhearted Christmas caper.
Eleven-year-old Nikolas—nicknamed “Christmas”—has received only one toy in his life: a doll carved out of a turnip. But he’s happy with his turnip doll, because it came from his parents, who love him. Then one day his father goes missing, and Nikolas must travel to the North Pole to save him.

Along the way, Nikolas befriends a surly reindeer, bests a troublesome troll, and discovers a hidden world of enchantment in the frozen village of Elfhelm. But the elves of Elfhelm have troubles of their own: Christmas spirit and goodwill are at an all-time low, and Nikolas may be the only person who can fix things—if only he can reach his father before it’s too late. . . .

Sparkling with wit and warmth, A Boy Called Christmas is a cheeky new Christmas classic-in-the-making from acclaimed author Matt Haig and illustrator Chris Mould.


My Review:

This is actually my second audio book I have ever listened to. I hated the first one and vowed to never do that again. Now, when I chose this book to review I did not know it was an audio book. So whenever I realized I was getting sent an audio book I was like noooooooooooooo.

The best part of this audio book is that Stephen Fry is the voice. I love Stephen Fry. The story itself is really good too, but because I can’t pay attention to audio for some reason I kept missing a lot of things. Most people will really enjoy this story, and I am sure if it was in print form I would have been jumping up for joy about it.

The story has interesting characters throughout, and I feel like it is a great Christmas story. However, I will never get an audio book again.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Have you listened to an audio book before? How was your experience?

Review: Crystal Storm

Title: Crystal Storm

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Date of Publication: December 13th, 2016


Goodreads Summary:

An epic clash between gods and mortals threatens to tear Mytica apart . . . and prove that not even the purest of love stands a chance against the strongest of magic.

MAGNUS and CLEO are forced to test the strength of their love when Gaius returns to Mytica claiming he’s no longer the King of Blood but a changed man seeking redemption.

LUCIA, pregnant with the child of a Watcher, has escaped the clutches of the unhinged fire god. Her powers are dwindling as she goes forth to fulfill a prophecy that will keep her baby safe . . . but could mean her demise.

JONAS treks back to Mytica with a plan to overtake Amara, but fate takes hold when he runs into the beautiful Princess Lucia and joins her on her perilous journey.

AMARA has taken the Mytican throne, but with no way to unleash the water magic trapped within her stolen crystal, she’ll never be able to seize glory and get sweet revenge.

And what kind of darkness will descend–and who will be safe–after Prince Ashur reveals the dangerous price he paid to cheat death?

My Review:

This book did not let me down! First off, Magnus stole the show here like he always does. I loved every single one of his chapters, and every comment that comes out of his mouth is pure entertainment.

Amara has been annoying this whole series but especially in this book. Nic is another character that I just can’t stand for some reason. He always seems to get in the way! There were lovely moments between Magnus and Cleo but also drama! King Gaius has some weird stuff going on. Lucia has an abnormally fast growing baby!!!

I actually started to really like Lucia in this book, and I want desperately to have a Lucia and Jonas romance come about. Felix is one of my favorite character’s too, but he took more of a backseat in this one.

A lot of crap hits the fan in this book, and it got really interesting especially towards the end. I am going to have to wait another year for this????? A whole year!!! I just can’tttttttttt!

Crystal Storm was filled with action and magic and all kinds of interesting twists that had me clenching this book in my hands! This is one of the most addicting series that I have ever read.


Have you started this series yet?

“The French Chef in America: Julia Child’s Second Act” by Alex Prud’homme


I played the audio discs at night when my husband was home from work. Very often he’d end up laughing or smiling at what we were hearing, at other times raising his eyebrows and making wide eyes. And I was doing the same thing.

“The French Chef in America: Julia Child’s Second Act” is eleven hours and nine discs, and, unless you are into trucking, I’d suggest getting the actual book. But, you know what? It was still enjoyable. It’s read by the author (and Julia’s great-nephew) Alex Prud’homme. He does a fine job-even if the French accents sound a bit strange.

This book covers what happens after “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” both in Julia’s professional and personal life. Most of us are somewhat familiar with the tale of her living in France and meeting  Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, and how their book changed American cooking forever. The story of how Julia continued changing the landscape even as we were introduced to nouvelle cooking, diets, organics, and more convenience foods is an interesting subject. No matter the waves of cultural change that came, her ideas remained mostly valid. That rarely happens.

Equally interesting is the story of herself and her husband. The process of aging and ailing in a loving relationship is heart-breaking. Truly, it is here.

Those she mentored and her friends (like Jacques Pepin, who we remember watching years ago as he cooked side by side with her on what we think was one of the best shows on PBS, or Simca, who led a rather bad ass life if I do say so myself) make for wonderful writing.

The second half of Julia Child’s story seems to be less talked about. But, I swear to you, it is so worth reading about. “The French Chef in America” is filled with crisp details that bring everything to life. Whether you get the audio book or the actual book, if you were fascinated by this “revolutionary in pearls”, then this is a great pick for you.



*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review*

I also absolutely recommend “My Life in France” by the same author, which tackles the creation of Julia’s first book and her time in, you guessed it, France. It’s a lovely read, though I will tell you I felt like more was going on in this second book.




December Library Finds

The libraries are basically safe havens when 1. it’s too cold outside to think straight anymore and 2. the kids are out of school. It helps keep them occupied and offers a change of scenery (because the whirlwind of misery that is going to the park in frigid winter isn’t always possible). It took me awhile to get several of these items shipped over to our local branch, but it was worth the wait.


For the magical mood of the season, I recommend for younger readers the novel “Icefall”by Matthew J. Kirby, and “Winter Bees & Other Poems of Cold”  by Joyce Sidman. “Icefall” is a Nordic princess novel (think strong princess, think severe winter) and my nine year-old loved it.

“Winter Bees” works better for slightly younger readers like my son, I would say ages six to eight, and is a collection of poems about the natural world in winter. The pictures are lovely, the words are vivid, and even if your kid is not a poetry lover, this is a great winter book that won’t overdraw their patience for that art form in any way.


For the even younger crowd, a not-overdone classic that has a lot of interaction in its pages-Eric Carles’ “Dream Snow”. My toddler enjoyed putting the clear sheets of show over the pictures and had a great time with the musical button at the end. At the same time it is not over-the-top annoying, and has the nice, calming tone of Winter that a great deal of books are missing. We can generally count on Carle to deliver that.

And, this being the stressful time of year it is, I needed something just for me.


“I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas” opens with Lewis Black (who, if you didn’t know, is Jewish) smacking himself in the head hard enough to worry people when asked to write another novel, a novel about Christmas. It’ll make you smile. It’s also self-reflective about being who you are and doing what you want in a holiday season that tries to convince us that surely we are doing it all wrong. He’s one of my heroes, and his stand-up comedy is wonderful, but if you get a chance to get one of his books, GRAB IT. It’s a fun, dark humor read in a season that could well use more of both of those things.

“Anybody who likes writing a book is an idiot. Because it’s impossible; it’s like having a homework assignment every stinking day until it’s done. And by the time you get it in, it’s done and you’re sitting there reading it, and you realize the 12,000 things you didn’t do. I mean, writing isn’t fun. It’s never been fun.”-  Lewis Black

Happy Holidays, Merry book-hunting.erika