Archive | April 2017

April Library Finds, And The Book That Found Me.

It was harder to choose books this month. Maybe we’re all just holiday-tired. Maybe nothing looks good anymore because most of us are fighting the end-of-the-school-year fatigue. I’m not sure. Anyway, we did get a few good ones.

First is “One Trick Pony” by Nathan Hale. The art is stylized, but memorable and matches the tone of the book, wherein a robot pony saves the day. It is bleak, it’s a future where aliens have taken over the tech and the world, but it isn’t overwhelming for kids who want that kind of adventure (and there isn’t a lot available for that, honestly). My oldest loved the graphic novel, and I think other preteens will, too.

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Have you seen the interactive board books that are also recipes for making real food? I hadn’t come across one until last week, and we loved it. So much for my toddler to play with while reading and it covers a REAL recipe for pancakes and REAL kitchen utensils. This might be my favorite board book ever because, while it entertained my youngest, it gave the kids and I all a project of making pancakes with the very simple recipe it provided. Thumbs up all the way, it is a lovely idea and execution. “Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book” by Lotta Nieminen is awesome. And they have one on pizzas, too.

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In one of what I’m sure will be many attempts to be less financially stupid, I’ve been looking into books about money. Specifically, books that are written by women about money.  “The Money Class” by Suze Orman fits that bill. My husband and I like Suze, she gives pretty decent advice, and that is what this book is: tons of advice for things like opening savings accounts for kids and what they really need for college and what you really need to take care of right now.  You can’t really go wrong with that, though this was dated a handful of years after the recession in 2008. She changed some of her previous advice to deal with the financial instability many of us face still. Not a bad read, and comes with some website freebie links, too.

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Like your technology intertwined with magic in your fiction? My husband does. And he was really happy with Rjurik Davidson’s “Unwrapped Sky”.

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And, finally, the book that found me.

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A black, sleek cover with distressed wording caught me by surprise. It was surrounded by the pastel and bright colors of the children’s section that is like our second home in our local library.

But this book was way, way out of place.

I read the title “After The People Lights Have Gone Off” and immediately knew it was horror. You can’t have a title like that and not be a horror book. The cover was slick, and no matter how many times I wiped it away, it was like a permanent slick. The sticky sheen made it stand out even more among the cheery surroundings. And it was written by  Stephen Graham Jones, a Native author I hadn’t heard of until I picked up that book. I’m so glad I found this, or that this book found me. It’s a collection of short stories, really well-written and won’t take you a lot of time to finish. It’s good horror, it really is. I had a few “eh” moments in the story endings, but not as many as I usually take away from this kind of stuff, and I will be looking into getting more material by this writer.

If meeting the out of place book wasn’t weird enough, it came with a small hand-written note tucked away in the pages. Even skeptical me, after reading fiction this dark, was afraid to open and read whatever was hidden in this book determined not to stay where it belongs.

Luckily, it just read  “Now it’s your turn to ask someone a question.”

Huh. And people think libraries are boring.

Erika

http://www.writeathomemothering.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Review: Hunting Prince Dracula

Title: Hunting Prince Dracula

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Date of Publication: September 19th, 2017

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Goodreads Summary:

In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

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Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

My Review:

So, first off I really liked book one. When I saw this was going to be centered around Dracula, I was ecstatic. The question was, is Dracula an immortal going around killing people or is it someone impersonating him? Well, you have to read to find out!

Audrey Rose is a strong female character that doesn’t want anyone to stand up for her besides herself. A few times this got annoying when she got mad at Thomas for no real reason, but I get it. She wants to prove she can handle her own situations.

Thomas… Thomas… Thomas… what a great character and the cutest little flirt ever put into a book. Loved him! The banter was perfect!

You want creepiness? You got it! There was some awesome parts where I was like yes! I love creepy! There was a twist, that I didn’t guess so that was good for me, because I am usually not surprised by outcomes.

Last off, I have to know what the next book will be about!!!!!

 

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Have you started this series yet?

Review: Song of the Current

Title: Song of the Current

Author: Sarah Tolcser

Date of Publication: June 6th, 2017

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Goodreads Summary:

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.

My Review:

I don’t even know about this one. I was bored the first fifteen percent of the book. Then it picked up then I got bored again, even with stuff going on. There was action throughout, but I could not connect with any of the characters. I did like Caro’s strength, and her all around personality, though.

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I also never really warmed up to the love interest. I felt he was just kind of there. The adventure and sword fighting was good, but just something was missing for me. I haven’t found a YA pirate book that I genuinely love. So, maybe the pirate life isn’t for me in this particular genre.

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How does this book sound to you?

Review: Select

Title: Select

Author: Marit Wiesenberg

Date of Publication: October 3rd, 2017

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Goodreads Summary:

Coming from a race of highly-evolved humans, Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. But there’s something rotten beneath the surface—dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of people determined to keep their talents hidden and who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally disrupts the Jaynes’ delicate anonymity, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school.

Julia’s goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him—John Ford, tennis prodigy, all-around good guy. When Julia discovers a knack for reading his mind, and also manipulating his life, school suddenly becomes a temporary escape from the cold grip of her manipulative father. But as Julia’s powers over John grow, so do her feelings. For the first time in her life, Julia begins to develop a sense of self, to question her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide: can a perfect love be worth more than a perfect life?

My Review:

What a magnificent cover! This one started out pretty good, but then it got pretty weird. Julia isn’t technically human, and when things go down with her group of friends and her sister, she is sent to a public high school. She runs into a guy named John, who she sort of met when her sister almost died. By sort of met, I mean no talking, yet seem to know everything about each other.

The first thirty percent of the book is pretty much a connection between Julia and John yet no interaction or conversations??? Occasionally Julia can hear what John is thinking. The romance was just the worst kind of insta love. I don’t mind insta attraction, especially if there is some communication going on, but come on now? Then we get to the immaturity of the relationship, people getting mad, people trying to make each other jealous… I can’t take it!!! Honesty is the best policy guys!

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Another character I was not a big fan of was Angus… But some of the aspects were pretty cool about Julia and her group being highly evolved humans, and the stuff they could do. I am sure a lot of people are into this type of book, but it just was not for me. Also the book ended on a really odd cliffhanger!!!!

 

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“Everything Belongs To Us” by Yoojin Grace Wuertz

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I can remember reading, some handful of years ago as a new parent, books on the philosophy of raising a family. One of the interesting points I came across in a book written by someone from France is that our stress here in America was one of worry. With so few doing exceedingly well in top positions, parenting (if you weren’t born into wealth or fame) becomes a race to get your child the most accolades, the most help, the most trophies, the best schools in order to secure their spot in society. You must do everything right, or else.

Imagine that x10. And you have the premise for the struggles of “Everything Belongs To Us”.

A portrait of three (technically four, but we know so little about the fourth that I’m calling it three) South Korean students during 1978-shortly after the Korean war. With a backdrop of economic and political uncertainty, securing your spot in the world becomes even more important, and each main character is a student at the top university.

Namin is from a very poor family, her sister was unable to attend any schooling in order to sacrifice so Namin could succeed. And, it’s heartbreaking.  She aims to pull her family out of the clutches of poverty, and it makes her more driven to the track of academic success than any of the others. Failure is not an option for Namin.

Jisun was born a wealthy daughter to an overbearing businessman who intends to groom her, the stronger of his two children, to run his family business. She’s far more interested in social movements for equality. Hardly attending classes, Jisun is involved in helping underground groups fighting for workers’ rights. She’s playful, it often feels like Jisun can afford to be and Namin can not. Jisun has to constantly battle the idea that she is not serious about what she cares about because of her station in life, even when she renounces it.

Jisun and Namin are friends from childhood, but to say Namin considers Jisun a friend in any respect is stretching it. While it’s understandable, to have all that resentment for someone born into the power you need but doesn’t desire it, it makes Namin hard to like.

Sunam is one of the male characters who enters into a relationship with Namin (though this seems stretched too, as if Namin has no room in her life for people, and consequently he begins to connect with Jisun). Most of his desire seems to revolve around advancing his station in life. He was born into middle-class comfort: nothing as dramatic as the story of the two girls.

Our other male character is Juno, who really I feel we know far less about, is a “bigger brother” from a university social club that hazed Sunam. Juno’s focus is on getting an easier life-specifically by attempting to get Jisun’s affection and marry into money. He’s slimy, he’s cruel, Juno just kind of sucks. I’d say it was a flat character, but we all kind of know someone who’s dipped in that much suck in real life.

The story of how each of these people navigates life choices doesn’t sound like some epic tale, and it’s not. It isn’t that sort of book. It’s a character-based plot.

But it’s still nice and interesting, with very vivid details. If you like contemporary fiction in which there is a lot at stake, you will enjoy this. I found it really fascinating to look into a different culture and find how similar to any university this feels. “Everything Belongs To Us” is a laid back read, but one that will make you think, really think, about how people’s backgrounds have shaped their choices.

And it makes you realize that in the grand scheme of happiness, much of this stuff does not matter.

 

Erika

http://writeathomemothering.blogspot.com 

Review: The Girl with the Red Balloon

Title: The Girl with the Red Balloon

Author: Katherine Locke

Date of Publication: September 1st, 2017

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Goodreads Summary:

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

My Review:

Wow. This book was pretty freaking good. Most time traveling books tend to get on my nerves with the exception of the Red Ruby trilogy.

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Ellie stumble upon a mysterious red balloon and finds herself transported back to 1988 in Berlin. She makes friends along the way and even finds herself. The book is actually told in two other point of views besides Ellie’s. One is a Romani boy named Kai in 1988, and a Jewish boy named Benno during the 1940’s.

I loved the characters, and my emotions were all over the place in this one. Everything comes full circle and connects brilliantly, and there is a lot of cool magic going on. I don’t want to give too much away, so you should go read it! And that ending!!!!

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How does this book sound to you?

 

Author Interview: Jacob Stull for The King’s Locket

Title: The King’s Locket

Publication Date: April 27th, 2017

Summary:

After adopting orphans Thomas and Anna at birth and giving them mysterious heart-shaped lockets, King Pador, Queen Sonya, and Prince Verdon must find a way to rescue the children from the sinister plans of a dreadful creature that has imprisoned them in the Outerlands. The Royal Family’s magical bond, the children they love dearly, and their entire kingdom are all at stake.

Children and adults will enjoy and benefit from this beautiful story of betrayal, forgiveness, and unconditional love. This classic fairy tale includes fourteen full-page, hand-drawn illustrations that bring the story’s vivid imagery to life.

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Author Interview:

1. What gave you the idea for this book?

It all started with a story I made up for my 5-year-old daughter, Ivy. I would share bits of it at bedtime or when we were driving in the car together. She loved it, so I began writing it down. It eventually grew into a short fairy tale, similar to the classic fairy tales many of us grew up reading.

2. What is your favorite part of the book?

Well, besides the ending, my favorite part of the book comes in Chapter 5 of 6. There is a rescue mission that takes place, and the entire story pretty much hinges on the success or failure of that mission. At first glance people may think this is a “simple” or “cute” story, but it reads as an allegory and invites the reader to engage in its various possible meanings.

3. How long have you been writing?

I’ve always loved to write, as far back as I can remember. I really began to enjoy creative writing in middle school and high school. I’m 36 now, so a pretty long time.

4. Tell us a little about your favorite character.

That’s a difficult question to answer because I love Prince Verdon, but I’d have to say Queen Sonya if pressed. I’m married and have two daughters, so I’m surrounded by a lot of strong women. Queen Sonya’s character is a symbol for the strength and beauty of true femininity. She is awesome!

5. Three words to describe this book

Betrayal. Forgiveness. Love.

 

About the Author:

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Jacob Stull lives in Atlanta with his wife, Katie, and two daughters, Ivy and Penny. When he’s not writing, he’s playing a supporting role in Ivy’s make-believe world or cleaning glitter out of his car.

Connect with Jacob:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thekingslocket

Website: https://www.TheKingsLocket.com

Goodreads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16614486.Jacob_Stull

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How does this book sound to you?