Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: The Facebook Diet by Gemini Adams

Title: The Facebook Diet: 50 Funny Signs of Facebook Addiction and Ways to Unplug with a Digital Detox

Author: Gemini Adams

Format: Spiral-bound, 175 pages

Pub. Date: January 1st 2014

Source: TT @ Never Ending Stories

Book Description via Goodreads:

Award-winning author and illustrator, Gemini Adams, inspires us to examine the health of our high-tech habits in this entertaining gift book with a tongue-in-cheek look at our love of social media.

This Mom's Choice Gold Award winning book features a series of 50 hilarious cartoons that complete the question, "You Know You're a Facebook Addict When...?" in which Adams cleverly illustrates the more idiotic, embarrassing and cringe-worthy behaviors of our social networking excess.

Packed with funny digital detox tips that gently 'poke' at readers to unplug once in a while, this laugh-out-loud gift book is guaranteed to bring a smile of recognition to Facebook junkies everywhere!


This is one of those rare times where I feel like I read an entirely different book than everyone else. I didn't find it funny at all. It's not that I didn't get where the humor was supposed to be, I got it. It just wasn't funny. The first half of the book is completions to the sentence "You might be addicted to Facebook if..." The second half is a "diet" of how to stop logging so much time online.

First of all, I didn't care for the illustrations. I thought they were pretty badly done. Plus, it was unnecessarily crass more than once. Regular readers of my reviews know I'm no prude: I read quite a lot of erotica and the like. So it's not an "I'm offended" thing. But there were two drawings of female nudity that didn't add anything- it wasn't funny. There's also a toilet with stink lines. Classy.

This book is already a few years old, and it shows. There's a few "jokes" about poking.... Do people still poke? That was a thing when Facebook first got popular but I honestly forgot that was even a feature.

Some of them weren't even worth a smile. Such as, the guy with a gun to his head at his birthday party because he didn't get enough birthday wishes on his wall. (See the above note about being dated- it's a timeline, not a wall). There's one about needing therapy after reading about perfect friends- that's an actual study being done, because that shit actually DOES lead to depression.

Some of them just aren't accurate, in addition to not being funny. Wrist strain, for example, is not Facebook-specific. There's one that says you've given up addictions like smoking and drinking to Facebook. Because one can't drink at a desk?

Some of them actually sound like people who have never had Facebook before, not addicts. One says "you don't know where your privacy settings are". If you're addicted, you know EVERYTHING about these filters, and you've made lists and posts locked to certain people that now by this point, you can censor yourself with ease. Also, that you send friend requests to everyone. Nope. That shit's not safe. There's a difference between being addicted, and being clueless as to how the interwebs work.

The second half is full of mostly silly and overdramatic for humor's sake things that one can do instead of being on Facebook, like being a PI so you can stalk people in real life. Not really funny, but I get what they were going for. However, in this "diet" that stresses unplugging and going outside, they actually promote other websites...... What? Seriously?

I honestly have no idea who this book is for. It's not for young addicts, that's for sure. The only demographic I can maybe see getting a chuckle out of this book are those old relatives who don't really know how things work, but still won't get off of Facebook.

I don't recommend it as a gift or a stocking stuffer, unless you know a woman as oblivious as this book is.

Review: Goodnight Hockey by Michael Dahl!

Title: Goodnight Hockey
Author: Michael Dahl
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: August 1st 2015
Source: Picture Window Books

Book Description:

From the first puck drop to the final buzzer, Goodnight Hockey will have every hockey fan cheering. Rhyming text and energetic art perfectly capture the excitement and thrill of a hockey game. Goodnight Hockey is the perfect bedtime story for your young sports fan.

For ages 4-7. From the Sports Illustrated Kids Bedtime Books series.



I love hockey. I mean, being from Chicago you pretty much have to. (Go Blackhawks!) I had to give this picture book a read- it looked too adorable to pass up. I'm really glad I did. This book is absolutely perfect for little sports fans everywhere.

First, I have to say that this book is just cute. From cover to cover and everything in between, this book is just adorable. This book tells the story of a little hockey fan enjoying a hockey game and all the hype and excitement of a home team victory.

The illustrations are really well done and detailed, with bright colors. They go well with the story that's being told, and do well to keep your attention on the story. Also, and this was a pleasant surprise, it rhymes. That made me really happy, and added another level cute to the whole reading experience.

It has come to my attention that this book is a part of the Sports Illustrated Kids Bedtime Book series. I haven't read any of the other ones, but having read Goodnight, Hockey, I know that will definitely change in the future. As the publishers agree, I'd recommend this for younger sports fans, aged roughly 4-7.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Zing! by Gorji

Title: Zing! By Gorji - New Mediterranean Cuisine: Bold, Balanced, Simple & Savory

Author: Gorji

Format: Spiral-bound, 175 pages

Pub. Date: January 1st 2014

Source: Word Slinger Publicity

Book Description via Goodreads:

Hardcover with inside spiral binding that lays flat.


Born in Iran, trained as an engineer in Scotland, and chef-owner of an intimate, 10-table restaurant in Texas, Chef Gorji spills the secrets behind his headline-making recipes.

Blending science and Old World "hot and cold" theories, he details unexpected ways to combine ingredients. He won the Texas Steak Cook-off Championship twice with his take on steak with pomegranates! Pure olive oil. Lots of limes. Few batters, coatings, or rubs. No tahini in that hummus. Instead, an imaginative, personal, and highly memorable take on enhancing natural flavors.

With reader-friendly, easy to follow recipes, this cookbook is a collection of his signature dishes that have garnered critical acclaim at his restaurant Canary By Gorji in Dallas, Texas. From Butter-Seared Lamb Brain to Award-Winning Steak, he shows you how to use ingredients like pomegranates and sumac to add flavor to your dishes. He pays homage to French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern and North African cuisines, but doesn't define his dishes by nationality. Going against the grain of traditional culinary practices, he uses pure olive oil, not extra virgin, likes shorter cooking times, uses few spices and very little or no sugar.

His gregarious nature and front-of-the house bonhomie are as well-known as his acclaimed menu featuring his innovative New Mediterranean cuisine. When he won the Texas Steak Cook-Off Championship in celebrated blind judgings, he was competing against some of the best chefs in Texas. He says he had a great time cooking and dancing in Hico,Texas at the events and was honored with Texas-sized belt buckles that are his prized possessions-and he learned the two-step! His food has been called "Mediterranean with Texas Twists," and in a state known for its independent streak, his original approach is right at home.



I love, love, love Mediterranean flavors, so I knew this book was a must-have. It's a small little book full of big flavors, and it's something I'll be happy to keep in my kitchen.

It starts with a nice introduction of the chef and his family, giving the book a more personal touch. There's also an intro to ingredients, and some tips for techniques that will come in handy throughout the book. One such tip is an illustrated step by step guide to how to segment citrus. This book is divided into chapters by course.

This book is really bright and colorful, from the recipes to the photographs. Which, speaking of photographs, there are a LOT of them. There is pretty much a picture for every recipe. This is a HUGE plus for me- admittedly, I don't often buy cookbooks if I can't see what I'm aiming for.

The steps are short, concise, and well-explained. There are also good tips sprinkled throughout the recipes, as well as ideas for variations or substitutions, making the recipes more easily adapted to your personal tastes. The measure to grams is in parenthesis on the same page, so you don't have to flip back and forth between a conversion chart. Some of the recipes are really basic (like Roasted Garlic and Feta) and others are more complex (like Butter-Seared Lamb Brain). This makes it good for both new cooks and those with a bit more experience. There's a recipe for any level of skill.

There are a lot of dishes in this book that I'll be making soon, but some stood out to me more than others. The ones I'm most excited to try include Barbeque Veal Ribs with Pomegranates, Braised Baby Octopus with Squid Ink, and Rainbow Trout with Lime and Barberry Sauce.

The only real complaint I have about this is the product placement and self-promotion, but I understand how business works and I can't really blame him for seizing the chance to advertise.

This is a great cookbook full of lots of interesting and flavorful dishes, and is good for any cook, whether a beginner or more advanced. There's lots of pictures, easy steps, and it comes in a neat little spiral-hardcover format.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Spotlight, Excerpt, & Giveaway Blitz: Inside Out by Lia Riley!

Title: Inside Out

Series: Off the Map #3

Author: Lia Riley

Publisher: Forever

About the Book:

Love is their best adventure yet . . .

Talia Stolfi is deeply in love with the brooding Aussie surfer who stole her heart-but their infrequent letters only get her so far. While she fulfills her dream of being in the Peace Corps, a dangerous condition jeopardizes her life . . . and threatens to shatter her heart.

After nearly losing Talia forever, Bran Lockhart sailed to the stormy seas at the ends of the earth. Deep down, he knows that all roads worth traveling lead back to the beautiful California girl with the sunny smile. There's no denying that he belongs with her, but to have her by his side means Bran must dare to do something he's never done before: hope. Everything they've fought for has come down to this moment. Can Talia and Bran discover the courage to claim their future and learn that sometimes, in order to earn true love, you need to venture off the map?


“See how I want you.” His agonized whisper is barely audible over the water lashing the tiles. His hips lose their slow, lazy tempo. He pounds himself deeper, harder.
An intense ache spreads from my belly through my breasts. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be turned on. Muscles tighten within my sex. I’m fast remembering.
“Want. You. So. Bloody. Much.” He always sounds like this right before he comes, as if it hurts, like I’m pressing on a wound that’s too much to bear. “Damn it, Talia.”
I can’t look away as he loses himself in a blaze. I’m a prism, refracting his light. His features spin through a kaleidoscope of emotions starting at brutal need and ending with an unexpected vulnerability. My fear about the future disperses so quickly it’s hard to believe only minutes ago it felt inescapable. Bran isn’t some scary what-if. He’s a fact, a truth to hold on to against all life’s uncertainty. Why have I been so afraid he’ll see me as a walking disaster? He knows what it’s like to mess up, to feel like a failure. I need to reframe my question. Rather than asking what if Bran gets sick of me, maybe I should ask, what if we’ve worked our asses off, and finally have a shot at a real forever?
He falls to his knees and grabs me before I can take a breath or do anything but throw my arms around his lean shoulders. Water soaks through the white cotton of my pajama pants until I might as well be naked too.
“Show me the way back to you.” He buries his face in my neck, drags his lips to the place behind my ear, the headwaters for all delicious shivers.
“I want that so much.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes, go off the map.”
“You will?”
“We’re already there.”
He’s right. We’ve been explorers for some time. During the last little while it’s as if a blizzard descended, we were stuck in a whiteout, so close, but the snow made everything indistinguishable. At last, the storm’s abating and he’s right there, and I’m over here. Suddenly, we can see each other.
Within us is the way forward. We each possess half of the compass and must join together to find the right direction.
“You’ve got to know how much I need you.” A lock of his wet hair twists in a boyish curl.
I go to smooth it down, but my fingers tangle in the thick waves, and instead draw him closer.
He bows his head, still panting a little. “You can’t check out on me like that again. I can’t live this bloody life devoid of you—”
I brush my mouth over his lower lip, that reddening mark where his teeth left imprints. “I won’t. I’m so sorry. I-I’m ready to try. Thank you for believing in me.”
“I’ll never stop.”
We rest our foreheads together, holding one another upright. Droplets fall from his hairline onto my cheeks, joining fresh tears. He’s water, I’m water, and our flotsam and jetsam fit in a way that’s strange, yet familiar. I have no idea where we’re going, only that the way out is lined with broken feathers, bloodstains, marrow ash, and the serrated teeth of sharks.
This journey will take all I’ve got, a small price to have everything.
And that’s exactly what this guy in my arms is.

Get it Here:

Amazon | Apple | BN | Googleplay | BAM | Kobo

Title: Upside Down

Series: Off the Map #1

Author: Lia Riley

Publisher: Forever

About the Book:

If you never get lost, you'll never be found…
Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she'll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He's never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.

Get it Here:

Amazon | Apple | BN | Googleplay | BAM | Kobo

Title: Sideswiped

Series: Off the Map #2

Author: Lia Riley

Publisher: Forever

About the Book:

It was only meant to last the summer . . .
Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless SoCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that's what she'll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows.

Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he'll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can't stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won't give up without a fight-because while time may have limits, their love is infinite . . .

Get it Here:

Amazon | Apple | BN | Googleplay | BAM | Kobo

About the Author:

After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. When not torturing heroes (because c'mon, who doesn't love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: If You Were Me and Lived in China by Carole P. Roman

Title: If You Were Me and Lived in...China: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World
Author: Carole P. Roman
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: Paperback, 30 pages
Source: Word Slinger Publicity

Book Description:

I have always wanted to visit China and thanks to Ms. Roman's book she had made it more exciting and interesting to know what to look for and see

China which is officially known as the People's Republic of China which has a population of more the 135 billion people living there which is the most populated country in the world.

You might of learned about the Yangtze River which is in the South, or the Yellow River which is located in the North. Although the capital is Beijing many people called it Peking, China has major highways, trains and expressways and the second busiest airport in the world.

Children's names are picked because they have meanings so boys who are called An which means peace or Bao which is another word for treasure and Fu for happiness. Girls are called Hong because they like the color red, Yu which stands for Jade which is a gemstone or Zi which is the word for smart. What would you like to be called if you lived in China? I think I would like to be called Zi.

China has some amazing places to visit like the Great Wall of China. It is a stone barricaded which was built thousands of years ago to keep strangers out of China. Nobody is sure but they believe it is about 5,500 hundred miles. Another very famous tourist site is the giant clay army that was only recently discovered that had been buried underground for more then two thousand years. You will be told that there are over eight thousand individually sculpted soldiers and about 520 statues of horses and 130 of just chariots. You will love explore the many tourist sites as you will have an opportunity to learn so much.

The New year is a very fun holiday to be part of and begins at midnight with fireworks which hope that the noise will chase off the evil spirits. It is a very important day to honor your grandparents. You would receive red envelops filled with good luck money. Because the celebration last fifteen days you will get to enjoy many delicious meals but better learn how to use the chopsticks because if you drop them it could bring you bad luck. They are very superstitious people.



I think this book series is overall a great concept. It introduces a new culture to kids in an approachable way, and makes it more fun to learn something new. I think this book needs some more work, but overall it's a pretty solid way to teach kids about Chinese culture.

What I did like was the actual information that's in place. I'm an adult in my twenties, and even I learned some cool new stuff about Chinese culture. The illustrations are fun, and go well with the text that is placed alongside it on the page. I think kids will enjoy looking at the pictures. I also appreciated that the "foreign" words were given a pronunciation in parenthesis after the word, so you know how to properly say it. There's also a neat little glossary in the back, to define the aforementioned new words.

But there was some not-so-good stuff too. There are quite a few typos in the edition that I received. That's not really an ideal thing, when the goal of this book is to educate children. I also think there's way too much text on some of the pages. I think it'll overwhelm a child who is reading on their own, and make them fidgety if they are being read to. It flowed better when it was broken down into shorter ideas, instead of full paragraphs.

With another wave of editing, I think this could be a great series. They contain a lot of information in a simple way that makes it easy for kids to learn something new. There are other books in this line, that offer other insights to cultures, and I like that idea a lot. In the future, it'll make a great tool for teachers.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review: When the Balls Drop by Brad Garrett

Title: When the Balls Drop

Author: Brad Garrett

Format: egalley

Pub. Date: May 5 2015

Source: Gallery Books

Book Description via Goodreads:

A refreshingly candid and wickedly funny look at life's second half from Everybody Loves Raymond TV sitcom star and comic Brad Garrett.

In this no-holds-barred book of comedic and personal essays, Brad Garrett waxes hilarious--and irreverently honest--about the gaffes, challenges, and ultimately the joys of middle age as he advises us on how to best approach the dreaded "second half" of life.

Ranging in topics from genetics to genitals, weight to women, and dating to diarrhea, Brad leaves no stone unturned in this laugh-out-loud look at getting older. With pieces such as "No Scales in Heaven," in which Brad points out the essential pointlessness of overthinking diet and exercise, and "Celebrating Your E.D. (erectile dysfunction) During Your Mid-Life Crisis," the star comedian encourages you to forget the overwhelming concerns that accompany middle age and to welcome the laughs--even if you have a fifty-fifty chance of throwing your back out in doing so.

Penned in Brad's signature witty, conversational, no-nonsense style that has cemented his status as an icon in the comedy industry, this autobiographical book will teach you the most important thing: that, no matter what, we're all in this together. So embrace it.



I've always loved the show Everybody Loves Raymond. I watched it all the time growing up, and I recently fell in love with it all over again, since all of the seasons are currently streaming on Netflix. Garrett's character, Robert, is my favorite on that show. So, when I came across this memoir, I figured I'd give it a shot. Overall, it's a pretty entertaining read.

What I didn't expect was his sense of humor. I only really know him from his two sitcoms, Everybody Loves Raymond and 'Til Death, and maybe a few spots on talk shows like The Talk. He is way edgier and funnier than I expected. He's pretty racy, and often makes racial and sexual jokes. I honestly didn't expect that! It made me laugh, but sometimes I thought it went too far or got too personal. Comedy is subjective, so I'm sure not everyone else will think so. He's pretty blunt and honest, and in some sections this really worked, but others not so much.

I will say that I recommend "reading" this on audiobook instead of an ebook or paperback. Garrett has a tremendously recognizable voice. Whether you know him from the sitcoms, or things like Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, or Night at the Museum, when his voice comes on screen you know it's him. I think a lot of the comedy is lost in not being able to hear him say it himself. Recently, I had this same problem with comedian Jim Gaffigan's book Dad is Fat too.

This is a pretty solid book. It's a fairly fast read and gives interesting insight into his life. I would recommend the audio version so you can truly appreciate jokes that otherwise fall a bit flat. If sex or bad language offends you, you might want to read the memoir of a different comedian. Fans of his stand-up or acting should give it a go.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review:The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Denise Mina

Title: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Author: Denise Mina, Andrea Mutti, Leonardo Manco

Format: egalley

Pub. Date: July 28 2015

Source: Vertigo

Book Description via Goodreads:

In this final graphic novel adaptation of Stieg Larsson's international bestseller, Lisbeth Salander lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She's fighting for her life in more ways than one: If and when she recovers, she'll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that nearly destroyed her life.

Written by novelist Denise Mina (The Field of Blood) and illustrated by Andrea Mutti and Antonio Fusso, this epic graphic novel concludes Vertigo's critically acclaimed adaptation of The Millenium Trilogy.



Before I even talk about the actual book, let's take a moment to look at that cover. I know that's not how I'm supposed to judge a book but I mean look at it! It's gorgeous. I want a print of it for my wall. It's so eye-catching and is a good representative of the story.

I'm a big fan of The Millennium Trilogy. Lisbeth Salander is one of my absolute favorite book characters. So, when I saw the graphic novel versions of this hit series, I knew I had to have them. I've reviewed a few in the past and really enjoyed them, and I'm happy to say that The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is a great addition to the rest of the series.

The illustrations are gorgeous. There's a really nice variety of bright colors and dark dreary panels, dependent on what the text is saying alongside it. They're gritty and super detailed. It honestly took me a while to get through this one. It wasn't complex or confusing to read, but I took forever to look at all the effort put into each drawing. I loved them.

As I've mentioned in previous discussions about this book, I recommend this as a supplement to the novels, and not a replacement. If you've read the novels, you know the full story, so the comic text is easier to follow because you can fill in the blanks. If you haven't read the books, you can definitely still understand this book, but you're getting an (understandably) more watered down version of a great story. The text does a pretty good job of giving you the novel in a nutshell. It's well paced and easily understood.

This particular book is an adaptation of the third and final book in this trilogy, so I'd recommend reading its predecessors, whether it is the full novels or the graphic novels. I think fans of the series will eat it up, and fans of good artwork will too.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Double Review: Arkham Manor and Arkham Knight from DC Comics!

Title: Batman: Arkham Knight Vol. 1

Author: Peter J. Tomasi

Illustrator: Viktor Bogdanovic

Format: egalley

Pub. Date: July 14th 2015

Source: DC Comics

Book Description via Goodreads:

The prequel to the best-selling game BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT!

The Joker is dead. Arkham City is closed. As a new day begins, Bruce Wayne finds himself in devastating pain, recovering from his injuries and questioning whether his role as Batman is still necessary to the city's survival. But as the sun rises in Gotham City, dangerous new threats emerge from the shadows...and the Arkham Knight is just beginning. Don't miss this in-continuity prequel comic set prior to the events of the brand-new video game Batman: Arkham Knight!




I'd like to get something out of the way right as I start this review: I don't play the Arkham games. I want to, I do. But I haven't yet. That said, I do love me some Batman, so I was excited to get the comic book. However, I am unable to compare the two, so this review is written only as a Batman fan in general, and not as a gamer.

I really liked this volume. It's really pleasant to look at. The illustrations are very well detailed, and have the same grittiness that I've come to expect from Batman comics. The writing is pretty standard, and I think it did a pretty good job of conveying this story in the limited amount of space that text bubbles allow for.

The best part of this volume, to me, was the old characters. There were a lot of familiar, if not friendly, faces that I was happy to recognize. While the Joker is dead, characters such as Commissioner Gordon and the Penguin make their appearance alongside Batman (of course). What I was most excited for, however, was the appearance of Harley Quinn, who is my favorite DC characters. She was my favorite part of this book and had some good one liners, and talked about her puddin'.

Overall, I think this is a decent comic and I would recommend it to fans of Batman or Harley Quinn. This is stemmed from the Arkham games but as mentioned above, I have no comparison, so gamers: take a chance and try it out.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Title: Arkham Manor, Vol. 1

Author: Gerry Duggan

Illustrator: Shawn Crystal

Format: egalley

Pub. Date: July 28th 2015

Source: DC Comics

Book Description via Goodreads:

When catastrophe strikes Arkham Asylum, where will Gotham City house the world's most dangerous criminals, and when inmates are found murdered, what is Batman prepared to do in search of justice? Arkham's madness comes home in ARKHAM MANOR! A bold new collection brought to you by Gerry Duggan ("Deadpool, Nova") and Shawn Crystal ("Deadpool, Wolverine and the X-Men").

Collects issues #1-6 of "Arkham Manor."



I think this is an absolutely great concept. The Arkham Asylum is no longer, and they must decide where to move all of its patience. The Wayne Manor lies abandoned, so they make the decision to ship the Arkham inmates to Wayne Manor and turn it into the new Arkham. I think it's a brilliant story line that overall, was told well.

The artwork is consistent, and very well detailed. The facial expressions are really well done, and the pictures do a good job of illustrating the story that the text is telling. I understand that Batman is a dark guy, but I do think the artwork was rather dreary. I obviously don't expect bright prismacolor tones for a Batman story, but it need just a little more pop for my liking.

Batman is a familiar character, and gives some pretty good lines over the course of this volume. I also got really happy that Mr. Freeze made an appearance in this. I wasn't expecting that, and it made me enjoy it a bit more.

I wish there had been a little more backstory or explanation to elaborate on Arkham's fall and the emptiness of Wayne Manor, so that I could have better context. But overall, this didn't effect my enjoyment of this comic too much.

All in all, I'd recommend this comic to fans of Batman. There's a cast of familiar faces with a new twist on the classic plot line, and overall I think it works.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Spotlight, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Dear Opl by Shelley Sackier!

Title: Dear Opl

Author: Shelley Sackier

Release date: August 4, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

ISBN: 9781492608592

About the Book:

There are three things Opl never expected to do during the eighth grade:
● Start a vendetta against celebrity check Alfie Adams, the “Nude Food Dude”
● Take yoga classes with her grandpa
● Become a famous blogger
But after a year of shrinking down her personality to compensate for the fact that her body’s getting bigger, Opl thinks it’s about time to start speaking up again. What she doesn’t expect is that everyone actually starts to listen…


First blog entry:

My name is Opl, I’m thirteen years old, and this is my blog. My mom wants it to be a food journal. A log of chow. But I can’t see that being a good idea at all. Then it would just be a catalogue of crimes. My grandfather says I should use it to write about things that make me angry. He says it’ll be more interesting than listing everything I eat. It’s true. Anything would be more interesting than that. And because I know my mom will never read this, I might as well unbolt the floodgates.
Number one. No more Tylenol syrup. It’s now pills. That sucks.
Number two. Kids who don’t wash their hands after they go to the bathroom. I see it all the time and it’s disgusting. Everything you touch in school has already been touched by somebody else who didn’t wash their hands. It is the world’s most super-gross thing. Except for seeing grown-ups kiss. That’s grosser.
Number three. Getting in trouble for falling asleep in my boring history class. Pinching doesn’t work. Wiggling gets me snapped at. And you can’t listen to our teacher’s voice. It’s a soft, buzzy drone. Within thirty seconds, it feels like my brain is being sucked out of my skull. My eyes spin around to the back of my head just before my chin slides off my hand. Last week I had to walk around looking only to the left for two days because I wrenched a neck muscle.
Finally, I’d like to complain about our school’s new lunch menu rule as of today. Last year my lunch was perfect. Monday through Friday at exactly 11:50, my grade went to the cafeteria. My plate held a double cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard, and extra mayo—­pickle on the side. I also had cheese fries with extra cheese—except on Fridays, it was chili fries. And finally, I adored my jug of chocolate milk. I loved that lunch. I needed that lunch. And now someone has taken away the chocolate milk and replaced it with plain.
I asked one of the lunch ladies if there was more in the back, but she just shook her white-­netted hair at me.
“Well, where’s the strawberry milk?”
She pressed her lips together.
“Did the milkman run out? Why are we short?” I wanted to bang my tray on the counter. This needed fixing. And fast.
Another woman leaned over the cash register and barked, “New state policy. No. Flavored. Milks.”
“What?” I actually thought my shoulders were going to fall down to where my elbows hung. I was that disappointed. I’d been hearing the annoying buzz about some schools around us making changes like this. But not my school. My school was fine the way it was.
Tomorrow I’ll bring in a container of Hershey’s syrup and store it in my locker until lunchtime. “Never mind,” I told the lunch ladies. “Today I’ll have a blue Gatorade.”
I can think of a bunch of other stuff I’m all huffy about these days, but it’s getting late. I’m not sure how I feel about this bloggy thing, mostly because Mom has high hopes pinned on its big ole donkey butt. It’s no different than the rest of my silly diaries. Except now my bellyaching is electronic.
Later gator,

Get it Here:

Amazon | BN | BAM | Indigo | iBooks | Indiebound

About the Author:

Shelley Sackier is an author and blogger who writes about the everyday ordinary grand slams and gruesome snafus in completing the Herculean task of raising two healthy human beings. Ultimately she hopes to impart the necessary knowledge of how to balance their checkbooks and pay their taxes. Here greatest hope is to discover that parallel universes are a reality, and that somewhere she is living a life where her children have agreed to occasionally make eye contact with her. They live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

You can read more of her work, illustrated by Robin Gott, at

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Review: Crumb by Ruby Tandoh

Title: Crumb: The Simple Pleasures of Baking

Author: Ruby Tandoh

Format: egalley

Pub. Date: April 28th 2015

Source: Ten Speed Press

Book Description via Goodreads:

A baking cookbook from the young and talented Ruby Tandoh, with a focus on charming, flavorful, and practical dishes that celebrate the pleasure of casual baking.

Crumb's explanatory and evocative prose promotes everyday baking without sacrificing the joy of the craft, defying the style of both showy, highly decorated baking as well as the dry, informative tone of "serious" baking books. A delight to read as well as to bake from, recipes like Sweet Potato Doughnuts, Pecan and Rosemary Tartlets, Raspberry Whisky Pavlova, and Blood Orange Polenta Cake are interspersed with the virtues of different types of apples, a reminiscence about Belgian buns, and a passage on the need to knead. Covering a range of baking projects from sweet to savory, chapters include cakes, cookies, bread, pastries, pies, tarts, and more.



I love baking. I am constantly on a search for new treats to try and add to my repertoire. Crumb is everything I wanted it to be and more, and I'll definitely be getting a copy to keep on stand-by in my home kitchen.

It starts out with a nice introduction, that includes helpful information about the ingredients used and the equipment needed for some of the recipes in the collection. The book is divided into chapters according to type of baked good, including sections like Bread, Pies and Tarts, and Cookies and Crackers. The chapter then gets broken into smaller sections for more specificity.

The steps are numbered and very well detailed, so you're not left wondering what the heck a step means. There's also good tips peppered in, like how to knead and how to fix common mistakes, like when something is too dry. There are also some "photo steps" included, like how to braid breads. The ingredients are listed in grams (I'm an American, so that's not a thing I can do easily, admittedly), but I really appreciated that the conversions are behind it in parenthesis, so I didn't have to constantly flip to a chart in the back or anything.

This collection of recipe includes both sweet and savory dishes, which I also appreciated. There's lots of variety in both ingredients and techniques- some difficult, some more basic. It's approachable to new bakers.

There are some pictures, but not for everything. However, the ones that ARE included look phenomenal. This is going to sound like a weird compliment, but they looked normal. Often times when I look at a picture, be it in a cookbook or on Pinterest, I think "My frosting will never be that perfect" or "my cookies will never be so flawless". These desserts look BEAUTIFUL, but they look like just a normal baker made them, and I really like that.

I would be hard pressed to try and find recipes in this book that I don't want to try, but I'll only share a few in this review. I'd most like to make Rose & Burnt Honey Florentines, Gooseberry Elderflower Cake, Passion Fruit Curd Jelly Roll, and Chocolate Lime Mud Cake.

If you love to bake, whether it's sweet or savory, this is an excellent book to add to your collection. It's approachable, delicious, and well written.

I received a copy of this in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Spotlight Tour, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Dorothy’s Derby Chronicles: Woe of Jade Doe!

Title: Dorothy’s Derby Chronicles: Woe of Jade Doe

Author: Meghan Dougherty

Illustrated by: Alece Birnbach

Release date: August 4, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

ISBN: 9781492601470

About the Book:

When times get tough, just keep skating…

Ever since Dorothy joined the Slugs & Hisses Derby team, her life has been one adventure after another. Dorothy’s onetime enemy Alex is now a friend, while her friend Jade keeps missing practices. Then the skating rink shuts down, and Dorothy’s life becomes as jumbled as a derby jam. And that’s not to mention the bizarre things happening to anyone who enters the rink (maybe it’s haunted?)…

Can Dorothy restore order to the new life she’s finally settling into, or will her world become a crazy mess she can’t skate away from?


“You okay, Dorth?” Max asked, squeezing Dorothy’s hand.
Dorothy stared into Max’s chocolate-­brown eyes. Words weren’t coming. From the tip-­top of her curly red hair down to her hand-­me-­down roller skates, Dorothy was buzzing with delight. She wasn’t even twelve yet, and she had just been kissed! She had thought the night couldn’t get any better after coaching her team, the Slugs ’n’ Hisses, to a win at the Halloween championship bout. But here she was, hand in hand with the boy of her dreams.
Floating on a cloud of bliss, Dorothy was barely aware of the roller rink under her feet or her nearby team chanting, “I’m a roller derby girl. Derby, derby, roller, yeah!”
And there was another sound too, like a squeal—­but not a happy squeal. More like a metallic screech, actually. And it was growing louder. Dorothy’s gaze shot upward and her bliss vanished, replaced instead with heart-­pounding terror.
Suddenly, everything and everyone in the dimly lit, outdated Galactic Skate was moving in slow motion. The dusty ceiling fans ticked as slowly as the second hand on a clock. The people in the stands lumbered toward the door like molasses on the faded, star-­patterned carpet.
“Get off the floor!” Dorothy screamed. “Now!”
Her team stopped chanting and turned to look at her with puzzled faces.
“Frappit,” Dorothy said, dropping Max’s hand. She rocketed toward her team, her arms waving frantically above her head. “Move it!” A second later, time was in hyperdrive.
“You heard your coach!” Grandma Sally yelled. Her tight, fishnet stockings made Grandma’s thighs look like a pair of misshapen waffles. Unaware that her sexy nun costume was riding up dangerously high, she hooked Jade by the arm and pulled her toward the bleachers.
“Ouch, Grandma! Easy,” Jade complained, hopping on one foot. “My ankle, remember?”
The next few seconds were a blur of confusion with the clack and swoosh of skate wheels, the cries of “Run!” from the few remaining fans standing in the bleachers, and above it all, a metallic banshee shriek growing louder each second.
In the chaos, Dorothy realized she had lost track of Sam. Cold fingers of panic wrapped around Dorothy’s throat and squeezed. Her nine-­year-­old sister had been there just a minute ago, chanting and celebrating with her team. Where was she now? In the frenzy, Dorothy slowed way down, carefully scanning the people running past the rundown refreshment area and blackened popcorn machine and the restrooms with the groovy guy-­and-­gal signage. No Sam.
Then it happened. With a bang like a gun going off, the chain that held the giant disco ball to the ceiling snapped. Dorothy turned and watched helplessly as the ball fell. Time slowed again. It was like a horror movie version of the Times Square countdown on New Year’s Eve—­a glittering ball of death was plummeting toward the floor, and there wasn’t a single thing Dorothy or anyone could do to stop it.
“Sam!” she cried desperately, but all she heard in return were the screams of her terrified teammates and shattering glass.

Get it Here:

Amazon | BN | BAM | Indigo | iBooks | Indiebound

About the Author & Illustrator:

Meghan Dougherty is a full-time PR consultant. In 2007 she joined the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls roller derby league. She lives in Colorado.

Alece Birnbach owned her own advertising agency before creating designs that appear on more than 100 products. She lives in Colorado.

Website | Twitter | Instagram


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Review: Haunted Plantations of the South by Richard Southall

Title: Haunted Plantations of the South

Author: Richard Southall

Format: egalley

Pub. Date: June 8th 2015

Source: Llewellyn Publications

Book Description via Goodreads:

When you hear the word "plantations," most people think of grand homes with pillars and sweeping staircases. These houses of grandeur were located all through the South in the days before the Civil War, and there are some that still resonate with the loveliness they had in their heyday. These majestic homes have a long history, and some of those who lived in these homes remain today. The ghosts of soldiers, slaves, and the elite family who lived in the plantation homes still wander the halls.

Richard Southall explores gorgeous plantation homes and those that are abandoned and in decay to present a colorful history of the ghosts that linger there.



The American South holds a special place in my heart. For too short of a time, I lived in Louisiana. I immersed myself in the history and the legends, and I visited a few different plantations (among other things) in order to get a better appreciation for the stories. It is for those reasons that I was really excited to get a copy of this book. It was super informative, but not quite what I was expecting.

The book is divided into 8 chapters: Intro, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia

This book read way more like a text book than a standard nonfiction narrative. It was chock full of information, that's true enough. But it was pretty tough to get through all of the information dumping and facts. I was expecting it to be facts, but wrapped in more of a story-telling type tone, so I was pretty disappointed that it felt like reading a school book. It was interesting, just dry. I had to read it in small bursts. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and I did learn quite a bit about the legends and histories of various southern plantations. While I knew a bit about the Louisiana chapter, I didn't know much about the other ones.

I was a bit surprised that this book had no pictures. When references specific historical places and scenes that still exist in modern day in a nonfiction guide, I had just assumed that there'd be at least a couple sprinkled in. Maybe there are pictures in the final copy, but I received a digital copy in advance, so there were none in my copy at the least.

In short, there's lots of information and it's rather interesting. However, there are no pictures and it can get a bit boring, which is not something that I expected when opening a book on ghosts and hauntings. I'd recommend it to those interested in the south, history, or paranormal activity, but be prepared for the factual tone.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review: Bald New World by Peter Tieryas!

Title: Bald New World

Author: Peter Tieryas

Format: Paperback, 214 pages

Pub. Date: June 2014

Source: Goodreads First Reads

Book Description via Goodreads:

Selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Science Fiction Books of Summer 2014 and listed on Buzzfeed's 15 Highly Anticipated Books of 2014, Bald New World asks the question:

What if everyone in the world lost their hair?

Nick Guan and his friend Larry Chao are a pair of eccentric filmmakers who choose to explore the existential angst of their balding world through cinema. Larry is heir to one of the most lucrative wig companies in the world. Nick is a man who’s trying to make sense of the tatters of his American dream. Taking place throughout China and America, the pair set off on a series of misadventures involving North Korean spies, veterans of an African War, and digital cricket fighters. Their journey leads them to discover some of the darkest secrets behind wig-making and hair in a hairless world.

"After my heart gives out and I'm on the operating table for emergency surgery, I will have told my physicians and surgeons to replace my heart with Peter Tieryas Liu's Bald New World, or any of his books really, because that's what I think of when I think of Liu's writing--heart. Similar to the work of Philip K. Dick, this parodic dystopia is steeped in futuristic technology that further bridges the gap between man and machine. Still, whether watching the latest episode of the immensely popular reality show Jesus the General or sparring against an opponent in the blood-sport known as cricket fighting, the humanity of our narrator shines through. Although we humans are capable of doing and creating sad, funny, glorious, devious things, we also persevere and adapt, survive. I wonder what Huxley would think of this, but he's dead. You're not, so read this book, feel alive."
-Jason Jordan, author of Pestilence, editor of decomP

"The boldly imaginative Bald New World follows Nicholas Guan, a military type tasked to digitally touch up scenes of carnage, in his misadventures from Korea to a futuristic California and in his frenzied dash from Gamble Town to China . The novel tells of beautifully flawed characters, the blurring distinction between reality and virtual environments, the comical yet chilling wave of religious fanaticism, and a world battling a strange malady called the Great Baldification, an ingenious symbol of human vanity. Peter Tieryas Liu’s Bald New World is vivid, exhilarating, and wildly entertaining." –Kristine Ong Muslim, author of We Bury the Landscape and Grim Series

"Bald New World is a hypnotic, surreal, and insightful novel, blending Blade Runner and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle to create a dark, funny, and captivating story. One of the best books I've read this year."—Richard Thomas, Staring Into the Abyss



Every once in a while, there exists a book that is really hard for me to review. This is one of them. Through no real fault of the book or the author that I can identify, this book and I just didn't click very well.

It wasn't badly written or anything. In fact, I absolutely loved the world building throughout this book. Bald New World is an adult-age dystopian novel that involves the entire human population losing their hair for an unknown reason. It's a fascinating concept and overall it was executed pretty well. There's a good amount of humor in this book, and the author is often well detailed in his descriptions. The plot tends to wander now and again, so it was hard to follow in some parts. There was also a bit of repetition with vocabulary: it didn't bother me TOO much, but it was abundant enough that I noticed it while reading it.

I can't really think of anything that I didn't like, but there's not too much other than the world building that I loved either. It was a book that while I'm not sorry I read, I don't think that I will read it again in the future. I recommend it to people really enjoy science fiction. I definitely think that this was just a case of it's not you, it's me book, and that a lot of other people will really love it!

I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads Program in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Stacking the Shelves [96]- The Lazy Summer Vacation Edition

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

Have you missed me? I haven't done a STS since May. Good lord. A lot has happened! I went on a trip to Nashville, I lived in Wisconsin for a month with my girlfriend, we went to a million places and ate ALL of the tasty things and bought WAY too much. This post is going to be a looooooooooooooooooooooooooong one, because it is the summer vacation edition- all the things I've bought/been sent/got on Netgalley over the past two months while school has been out.

Please, leave a comment and don't be shy- how have you been? Is your summer going well? Fill me in! Now, shall we?

New from Netgalley:

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco
Arkham Manor, Vol. 1 by Gerry Duggan
Everything You and I Could Have Been If We Weren't You and I by Albert Espinosa
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween by Llewellyn, Diana Rajchel
After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, Rob DeFranco
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Denise Mina
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak
The Last Faerie Queen by Chelsea Pitcher
La Santa Muerte by Tomás Prower
A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas by Kim Redford
Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger
Your Voice Is All I Hear by Leah Scheier
A Silver Wolf Christmas by Terry Spear
Harry Plotter and The Chamber of Serpents by M.J. Ware
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

+ a bunch of cookbooks.

Fabulous Freebies:

High Tea & Flip-Flops by Linda Cassidy Lewis

In My Email Inbox:

Confessions of a Fat Girl by Holly Dae
Cinderella's Enchanted Night by Amber Daulton

In My Mailbox

The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer (signed)
Hope for Garbage by Alex Tully (signed)
She's on Top by Rachel Kramer Bussel (signed)
Witches with the Enemy by Barb Hendee (signed)
Zing! by Gorji
Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
Don't Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom (signed)
The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon (signed)
Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson (signed)

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
Best Lesbian Erotica 2015 by Laura Antoniou
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
We'll Always Have Paris by Jennifer Coburn
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Across the Universe by Beth Revis

And lucky for me, Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cash came with adorable swag!

Thanks to the very awesome Althea who picked these up for me at an event. Perks is my favorite YA book of all time, and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried when I got it. For 1.5 seconds, my name was on his mind, and that means the world to me. All the Bright Places is another book I'm so excited to have on my signed shelf. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Another book with awesome swag, If You Were Me and Lived in China by Carole P. Roman. Thanks!

I got these lovely mistletoe earrings and yellow flower necklace from the wonderful Suze. Thank you!

Pretty Purchases

God, If You're Not Up There, I'm Fucked by Darrell Hammond
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell
Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

The Cellar by Natasha Preston
Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Shopping Shenanigans

My mother-in-law-to-be let us run wild in Half Price Books on her treat. Thanks, Lisa!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
The Dracula Cookbook by Marina Polvay
Unhinged by AG Howard
by John Green
Crossed by Ally Condie
The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz

Radical Regifts

My girlfriend decided to pass these on to me from her collection. Thanks, Emily!

Slow Hand by Victoria Vane
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
When I'm Gone by Abbi Glines

Glorious Gifts

This is one of my favorite books, and Emily surprised me with this gorgeous edition. Thanks babe.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

That's finally it. If you're still here, you're the coolest and 20 points to your house. What did you get this week, or past two months if you're lazy like me?