Sunday, December 31, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [108]

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.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

In My Mailbox

Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley [Thanks Goodreads/Berkley!]

In My E-Mailbox

Wicked Charm by Amber Hart [Thanks Entangled Teen!]
The Vanishing Spark of Dusk by Sara Baysinger [Thanks Entangled Teen!]
Lions and Tigers and Boys by Tawny Stokes [Thanks Entangled!]
Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge [Thanks Ink Monster, LLC!]

Review: The War of Jokes and Riddles by Tom King & Mikel Janín

Title: The War of Jokes and Riddles
Series: Batman, Volume III TPB #4
Authors: Tom King, Mikel Janín
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: December 19th 2017
Source: DC Comics

Book Description:

Early in Batman’s career, the Joker and the Riddler would seemingly be natural allies. But each man determined that he and he alone must be the one to kill the Bat...and either would sooner burn down Gotham than be beaten to the punch line.

Untold until now, one of the darkest chapters in Batman’s history sees all of Gotham’s villains choosing sides in a battle of wits that soon turns into a full-blown war—complete with civilian casualties. In the War of Jokes and Riddles, only one side can claim victory...but the scars it leaves will shape Batman’s future as he makes the most important decision of his life.

From the critically acclaimed, best-selling creative team of Tom King (GRAYSON, The Vision) and Mikel Janin (JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK), the epic graphic tale BATMAN: THE WAR OF JOKES AND RIDDLES has quickly embedded itself as one of the great stories in the Dark Knight’s mythology. Collects issues #25-32.



I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from this book. I'm what I'd like to think of as a casual Batman fan- I know characters, I've read some comic books, and seen some movies. But I'm a far stretch from an expert, and I definitely haven't even scratched the surface of all the Batman comics out there. But when I see there's The Joker involved, sign me up. I was left blown away.

This book is so well done. It's dark, emotionally driven, and intense. It shows the psychotic, cold calculating Joker that tends to get lost in the folds of comic book franchises becoming part of more mainstream pop culture. It was gritty and there were so many moments that were both tragic and fascinating.

The artwork reflects the writing, with darker schemes and great detail. They match the writing perfectly, and carry out this fantastic story telling.

It's not a perfect collection- there are some plot points that seemed jarringly out of place, or that didn't quite seem to work. But by and large, this is a book worth reading. I can't really say how it compares to other Batman stories, as I'd quickly be out Batman-ed by other readers. But I can say that I personally really enjoyed it, and will definitely be looking for more of this particular arc.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. Thanks, DC!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Review: The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide by Joy Neighbors

Title: The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide: How to Find, Record, and Preserve Your Ancestor's Grave
Author: Jun Asuka
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 20th 2017
Source: Netgalley

Book Description:

Not all research can be done from home--sometimes you have to head into the field. Cemeteries are crucial for any genealogist's search, and this book will show you how to search for and analyze your ancestors' graves. Discover tools for locating tombstones, tips for traipsing through cemeteries, an at-a-glance guide to frequently used gravestone icons, and practical strategies for on-the-ground research. And once you've returned home, learn how to incorporate gravestone information into your research, as well as how to upload grave locations to BillionGraves and record your findings in memorial pages on Find A Grave.

Detailed step-by-step guides to finding ancestors' cemeteries using websites like Find A Grave, plus how to record and preserve death and burial information
Tips and strategies for navigating cemeteries and finding individual tombstones in the field, plus an at-a-glance guide to tombstone symbols and iconography
Resources and techniques for discovering other death records and incorporating information from cemeteries into genealogical research



I'm pretty interested in cemeteries and history, so I was happy to get my hands on this book. It was a solid read- just a bit basic for my personal needs.

The book is divided into four main parts. Part One is planning your trip. It's sort of the 101 course of what you'll need to do and what you'll need to know on your expedition. Part two is researching on hallowed ground. It's how to read grave markers and tombstones, what the different symbols mean, etc. Part three is making sense of your research and delves into how to dig into all your data. Part four is digging deeper, and deals with things like records and preservation. There's also a final appendix, which includes worksheets and more records/information to help you organize better.

The book is a little scattered, and information can be a bit hard to find. The part divisions are more of guidelines than hard rules, and sometimes topics switch seemingly at random. It's a bit irritating.

It wasn't as dry as I was expecting to be. It's certainly more of a guide book and less of a text book. That said, in some spots the tone of the book was a bit condescending. Again, just mildly irritating.

This is probably a really good guide for people who have never done any genealogy before, or who are unfamiliar with cemeteries in general. But for those who already know a bit about it, it's a fair bit of information that you probably already know. It's a good basic start, but is not all encompassing (though I'm sure that'd be nearly impossible). There are icons and grave types, for example, that aren't mentioned. I was actually hoping to find more information about a specific style that's prevalent in my area, but no dice.

If you're new to this field of study, this is a great place to start. There's resources, worksheets, advice, and helpful tips. But if not, this book may have limited offerings for you.

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

Friday, December 29, 2017

Release Week Blitz: Breaking the Ice by Julie Cross!


Welcome to the Release Week Blitz for

Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls #2)
by Julie Cross

presented by Entangled Teen!

Grab your copy today!


Congratulations Julie!


The second book in the Juniper Falls series from NY Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Julie Cross, perfect for fans of Miranda Kenneally and Abbi Glines.

Haley Stevenson seems like she’s got it all together: cheer captain, “Princess” of Juniper Falls, and voted Most Likely to Get Things Done. But below the surface, she’s struggling with a less-than-stellar GPA and still reeling from the loss of her first love. Repeating her Civics class during summer school is her chance to Get Things Done, not angst over boys. In fact, she’s sworn them off completely until college.

Fletcher Scott is happy to keep a low profile around Juniper Falls. He’s always been the invisible guy, warming the bench on the hockey team and moonlighting at a job that would make his grandma blush. Suddenly, though, he’s finding he wants more: more time on the ice, and more time with his infuriatingly perfect summer-school study partner.

But leave it to a girl who requires perfection to shake up a boy who’s ready to break all the rules.

Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls #2)
by Julie Cross
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Amazon | Amazon Australia | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | B&N | Kobo | iBooks








Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin's Press). She's also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, Chasing Truth, Off the Ice and many more to come! Julie Cross was a longtime resident of central Illinois but has recently moved her entire family across the country to continue her academic studies at Stanford University.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Mini Review: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies by Michael P. Spradlin

Title: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies: A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols
Author: Michael P. Spradlin
Format: Paperback, 96 pages
Pub. Date: October 27th 2009
Source: Gift

Book Description:

The snow is falling, the holidays are approaching and…It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! This delightfully depraved book of classic Zombie Christmas carols by Michael P. Spradlin is guaranteed to spread Yuletide cheer to all those good boys and ghouls who devoured the monster New York Times bestsellers Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and World War Z, as well as fans of 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead. With an introduction by the inimitable Christopher Moore—bestselling author of Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck, and the classic “heartwarming tale of Christmas terror” The Stupidest Angel—It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies is a great gift for stuffing into a Christmas stocking…provided you remove the bloody severed foot first!



This is an okay little read. As the title suggests, this is a caroling book in which classic Christmas carols that we all know and love are given a twist so that they're about zombies instead.

They're super gory, full of images of rotting flesh and extremities ripping off and words like "ooze" and "goo".

They're not particularly well done- there's a few individual lines of lyrics that are pretty funny or clever. But there's a lot of shoving extra syllables into places where they don't fit, so it's kind of hard to sing along with the lyrics even if you wanted to.

This seems to me like a book fair book, or maybe a bargain book that you see on those last-minute shelves as you are in line to check out at Barnes and Noble.

If you're a 12 year old boys who thinks that blood is cool and farts and boogers are hilarious, then godspeed. This book is for you. It's cute to read through once, but it's not something I'll remember next year, nor will I have an urge to flip through it again.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review: Would You Rather? by Katie Heaney

Title: Would You Rather?: Growing Up, Coming Out, and (Occasionally) Getting It Right
Author: Katie Heaney
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: March 6th 2018
Source: Ballantine Books

Book Description:

A collection of poignant, relatable essays from the author of Never Have I Ever about coming out in her late twenties, entering into her first relationship, and figuring out what it means to be an adult.

When Katie Heaney published her first book of essays chronicling her singledom up to age 25, she was still waiting to meet the right guy. Three years later, a lot changed. For one thing, she met the right girl.

Here, for the first time, Katie opens up about realizing that she is gay. She tackles everything from the trials of dating in New York City to the growing pains of her first relationship, from obsessing over Harry Styles (because, actually, he does look a bit like a lesbian) to learning to accept herself all over again. Exploring love and sexuality with her neurotic wit and endearing intimacy, Katie shares the message that it's never too late to find love--or yourself.



I've got to admit.... I'm a little disappointed in this book.

I adored Katie Heaney's first book, Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date which chronicles her misadventures as to why she's in her 20s and perpetually single. It was clever, funny, and so relatable. It was one of my favorite books of 2014.

Well, since then, she's answered the question of: "Why can't I find a guy to date?" The answer? She's LGBT.

I think there's a huge space for this sort of book. I haven't come across many later-in-life out of the closet books. I think it's a needed space to fill that tells people it's okay if you don't have yourself figured out in your teens when it seems like everyone else is so confident.

I was excited to get this book because of the aforementioned adoration, but also because I am queer. I figured, if she was relatable as a heterosexual woman, surely she'll be even more so now that we're both on the same side of the rainbow. And the answer to that assumption is, kind of.

She is relatable on the "but I like dudes how can I like girls" front. I had the same struggle growing up. I didn't understand that it wasn't "normal". I was attracted to actresses or models on TV the same way I was men like NSYNC or Leo DiCaprio. So I felt for her on the whole "WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING WITH ME" thing. I didn't relate so much to the fear of not being queer enough that she went through (trying to find the "perfect lesbian outfit" or feeling like people at a gay bar would know she's not one of them, for examples). But, I understand where that thought process would come from, being pan myself.

In spots it gets sort of political and preachy, which was a bit grating. But, it comes with the territory I think.

One thing that sort of put me off of this book is her tone about reviews. She expresses a torn view point, on which she likes hearing from people who related to her first book, but also feeling pressured by them and annoyed. There's a negative tone about reading reviews, and on one hand: I get it. It has to be hard for any writer to read reviews. This has to be multiplied when your book is nonfiction; I'd imagine there's quite a sense of "these people are judging me and my life". But at the same time, it kind of sounds like a slap in the face to those people who enjoyed it and supported book. Full disclosure: I was one of those people who messaged her.

By her own words, she says she's getting less likable and I have to admit I don't disagree. The quirky and awkward charming sense of humor is gone. Part of that is surely the change of topic. Coming out of the closet and realizing one's self is certainly more serious and life altering. But I went in with that expectation, and by comparison her tone in this book just comes off as harsh.

That said, there's a glimpse of the other book within this one. Every few chapters/essays or so, there's a highlight of a girl that Heaney might have had a crush on. I thought this was really cute, and I totally get it. I look back to my growing up sometimes and can't help but to think "oh... I think I liked that girl". These were sweet and broke up the rest of the text well.

I think it's good for those who are pan or broadly queer or who are older and still trying to find themselves. If you haven't read the other book, you'll probably have a lot less issues with it than I did. I enjoyed reading this story of growth and self-acceptance, but I don't think it's something I'll need to read again in the future.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Boo's Review: Shirtless Bear-Fighter! by Jody LeHeup, Sebastian Girner

Every once in a while on here, I'll be posting my fiancée Emily's reviews on here. She doesn't blog on her own, but sometimes she needs to let her book feelings out in the world, and that's where Bitches n Prose steps in. (She also drew that banner. Ain't she cute?)

Title: Shirtless Bear-Fighter!
Illustrators: Nil Vendrell, Mike Spicer
Authors: Jody LeHeup, Sebastian Girner
Format: Paperback, 164 pages
Pub. Date: December 6 2017
Source: Goodreads First Reads

Book Description:

"After being betrayed by the bears that raised him, the legendary SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER wanders the forest he's sworn to protect, fist-fighting bears, eating flapjacks and being the angriest man the world has ever known!

When wild-eyed, super-strong bears attack the citizens of Major City, Shirtless ventures into the human world to do what he does best...PUNCH THOSE BEARS IN THE FACE! But all is not as it seems. Someone is manipulating Shirtless...and only by confronting the demons of his past can Shirtless hope to save his future!

A heart-filled, hilarious, tall tale for the don't want to miss SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER!




In a world where bears run amok all around the globe, the world turns to one man.... SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER! Betrayed by the bears who raised him, Shirtless has vowed to fight ALL bears and protect the forest in this timeless epic adventure.

Y'all, I was so excited when I received this book in the mail that I started reading it immediately. The bear punching action started only a few page flips from the cover, in all of Shirtless's naked, pixelated dongle glory. This man does not like to wear pants, he lives in a bear-house, and god help you if call his flapjacks "pancakes". Shirtless has a heartbreaking past akin to every vigilante superhero. It's like Wolverine and Batman had a feral, bearded baby. I love him.

Enter FBI agents Burke and Silvia, who come to the forest to ask Shirtless to fight the bearrorists who are attacking the nation. Burke, the senior agent in command, has been in more wars than humanly possible, and he will definitely make you question his age and his sanity when he recounts the battlefields he's fought on. The only one who seems as confused about Burke's 14 American Conflicts is agent Silvia, a young agent keen on playing by the book and following orders until she learns her instincts are more important.

There is a malicious force behind the bear attacks, someone who has been feeding them magic bacon to control them, and bend their bear-will to his own. His motives are for shitty revenge against Shirtless, all for the growth of his three-ply TP company.

All in all this was a fantastic read. There was always something to make me laugh on pretty much every page. The whole story seems to be parodying big name superheroes while also creating a superhero. It's hilarious and I'm 100% here for more Shirtless adventures.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bear-stars.

I received this copy in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 25, 2017

HOLIDAY REVIEW: No-one Ever Has Sex on Christmas Day by Tracy Bloom

Title: No-one Ever Has Sex on Christmas Day
Series: No-one Ever Has Sex #3
Author: Tracy Bloom
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 24th 2017
Source: Netgalley

Book Description:

Don’t you always plan the perfect Christmas?
Don’t you always think it will be the best one ever?
And doesn’t something – usually one of your loved ones – always come along and screw it up?

Katy’s been spending too much time in the office and not enough time with her family so she wants it all: snow (fake or real), the Michael Bublé Christmas album, whatever it takes.

There’s only one thing missing as far as her husband Ben is concerned: another baby to complete their family. Katy isn’t so sure…

Ben may be playing the role of Master Elf in the pre-school nativity but he is struggling to master his own family life. With romantically-challenged friends, an ex who refuses to go away and Katy's mum's 64-year-old toy boy thrown into the mix, Christmas looks like it could be going off the rails… Never mind family planning, can Katy and Ben even plan to make it to the end of Christmas Day?




I didn't realize that this was the third book in a series until I went to update my Goodreads progress, as it wasn't advertised as a series. Maybe that's part of why I'm not into this book.

I don't get the humor. I understood the jokes and quips.... I just wasn't laughing. When the cover of the book says "The most hilarious romantic comedy you'll read this Christmas" - that's a big promise, so I had big hopes. I was left disappointed, with a few snickers here and there but not much else.

The rest of it was just.... Well, boring. I didn't feel connected to any of the characters, nor did I particularly care for any of them. I found Katy rather selfish and irritating, while the others were kind of just... there. Not bad, not good. Just there. There was no big climax really, or much of a plot to follow. It was a light read that's easy to get through, because there's not too much to focus on.

Don't let my review dissuade you. I am clearly in the minority on this one. People are yucking it up and enjoying themselves, while I'm the lone scrooge who didn't care for it. If you've read other books in the series, maybe you'll like it more than I did. But, it's just not my cup of tea.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN Mini Review: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas by Jun Asuka!

Title: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
Series: Disney Manga
Author: Jun Asuka
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 1st 2017
Source: Tokyo POP

Book Description:

Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King, the ruler of Halloween Town and master of all things creepy and spooky. But he's tired of his life in the shadows and longs for something new. When he accidentally stumbles upon Christmas Town, he decides this is the perfect chance to try his hand at a brand new holiday and is convinced he'll have the world yelling "Scary Christmas"! With the young patchwork doll Sally trying to dissuade him and the evil Oogie Boogie waiting in the wings to take over Halloween Town in Jack's absence, he'd better hurry if he wants to get his plan in place by December 25th! You've seen the movie, now read the manga for a new twist on an animated classic!



Disney? Check. Halloween? Check. Manga? Check. Tim Burton? Checkity check.

There's absolutely nothing that I wouldn't like about this combination of things.

I think making a manga out of this film was a really smart idea. Tim Burton's vision and aesthetic translate really well into the style of manga. Plus, I feel like there's a huge overlap of fans of Tim Burton and fans of manga & anime- but that might just be speculation on my part.

I really like the artwork. I find that it's really well detailed, and gives you a lot to look at. It goes well with the original story, as well as the story being told in this book.

The story felt a bit off to me though. It seemed SUPER rushed. I wish it had slowed the pace a bit more, to give me a longer experience of this book.

I think this book is well done, and is good for fans of manga, Tim Burton, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Disney alike. It pays good homage, albeit with a few bumps in the road.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Excerpt & Giveaway: The Last Wolf by Maria Vale!

Title: The Last Wolf
Series: The Legend of All Wolves #1
Author: Maria Vale
Pub. Date: February 6, 2018
ISBN: 9781492661870

Book Description:

For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.

If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die. But if she stays...Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack͛s social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn͛t all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves...


In which Tiberius eats dinner with the hostile Pack and learns that not everything that is small and cute and furry is a puppy

Upstairs, the screen door opens and closes with a slam. Orders are barked out, and heavy treads stomp back and forth between hall and kitchen. As the Pack passes the stairs to the basement, the complex fragrances of the dishes they’re carrying waft down to us. Benches start scraping across floors, and I push Ti’s extra clothes into a bag and push the man himself up the stairs.
As soon as we reach the hall, the smile I hadn’t even known I was wearing fades. The Alphas of every echelon are standing around the heavy hand-scraped tables, each one of them holding tight onto their seaxs, the sharp daggers that all adult Pack wear at their waist.
There are strict penalties for attacking a table guest, and John will kill anyone who tries, but edgy wolves are edgy wolves and not always in control. I am this man’s shielder, and I face them, my thighs coiled low, my shoulders squared, and my lips curled back from my teeth, so these wolves know that I will fight, even in skin.
Tock, tock, tock.
Behind me, Ti is not even facing the right way. He’s looking at the table, opening up casseroles with one hand, while flicking his spoon up and down against his bowl with the thumb of the other (tock, tock, tock). As though there weren’t a hundred evil-eyed wolves staring holes into his back.
He lifts a hand-thrown lid and sniffs the saag paneer. Another basket with bread. A selection of Corningware casseroles hold cauliflower and lentil stew; sun-dried tomatoes and fresh cheese; corn chowder. Pasta with herbs. Egg salad.
“So…you’re vegetarians?” Ti says to no one in particular.
“Not vegetarians,” John answers. “But not carrion eaters either. You are our guest,” he says loudly to remind all the wolves with itchy palms about our very ancient and very strict rules of hospitality, “and free to hunt anywhere on our land, but Shifter? You must eat what you kill.”
“John?” I whisper, pulling at his elbow, and he bends down. “His name?”
John scratches his graying beard for a moment before pointing to one casserole dish in Blue Onion pattern. “Tiberius?” he says, “My personal favorite is the cauliflower and lentils. Be sure to add some toasted hazelnuts.”
Someone coughs, but John has broken the spell, and the Alphas reclaim their seats. Though when they do, they seem to have doubled in size, their broad shoulders and thighs now claiming whatever spare space we might have squeezed into.
I bend my head toward one of the empty tables. Those too will be full when the Offlanders come home for the Iron Moon, but for now, we sit there alone, side by side. The Pack starts talking again, bent low over their food because our table manners at home are not all they should be.
Naturally, there is a lot of talk about Ti, and while no one will question John’s decision, it is one of the peculiarities of the Old Tongue that the word giest means guest and stranger and enemy, so when someone speaks of our new giest, everyone understands the double meaning.
Then John says that’s enough Old Tongue for now.
A handful of pups scrabble up the stairs from the basement storage. They’re chasing something, taking wide frantic turns around the room.
“Mouse,” I whisper to Ti. “They don’t last long here.”
“She didn’t take me down,” Eudemos complains loudly.
“I mean, I was still standing.” He hacks at the big loaf of bread with his seax. “Where’sa butter?
“I neber submided,” he insists, a pale-yellow crumb flying across the table. He uses his thumb to push the mouthful back in. “If what she did counts as submitting now, I think we should change the laws, thass all I’m sayin’.”
“Deemer?” says John.
Victor, our Deemer, our thinker about Pack law, crosses his arms and looks at the ceiling for a moment. “The law does say an opponent must be pinned down,” he says. “But while Eudemos was not down, he was very definitely pinned, and that is the more important part of the law.”
“Your Alpha agrees. The spirit of the law was upheld.”
And with that, Eudemos will not say another word about the matter.
The mouse finally caught, Golan trots up to John, followed by a roiling mass of fur. He lays his tiny prey at the Alpha’s feet. John looks at it, making sure the kill was clean and the mouse didn’t suffer, then he scratches Golan’s ear and wishes him good eating.
Suddenly, Ti jumps and lowers his hand to fend off a juvenile, who has her damp nose in his crotch.
“Rainy!” shouts Gran Moira. “Come here!”
Rainy cocks her head to the side and stares up at Ti before running off.
“Why do you have so many dogs?” Ti asks, his legs now tightly crossed.
“Nooo,” I hiss. “They’re not…” It’s too late. He didn’t say it loudly, but our hearing is very good, and one set of very good ears is all that’s needed. One by one, the Pack falls silent, appalled by what Ti has called our children.
Four fuzzy snouts peek over the arm of one of the fireplace sofas. Other pups glower down from the curved stairs that lead up to the children’s quarters.
Then the only sound is the brittle crunch of Golan’s sharp, white teeth.
“Excuse me, Shifter?” pipes a small voice. A ten-year-old girl with long, pale-brown curls, wearing shorts and a much-washed blue T-shirt with a picture of a pickle on it, scratches the back of her calf with a bare foot. “I am sorry I smelled your crutch?” she says, glancing back at Gran Moira, who mouths the word crotch with an encouraging smile. “But that’s what I said. ‘Crutch.’”
“It’s ‘crotch,’” corrects Gran Moira.
“Oh,” Rainy says, turning back to Ti. “I am sorry I smelled your crotch? I didn’t mean to be offensive. I am just in the Year of First Shoes?”
The Year of First Shoes is the first twelve moons in the juvenile wing, when you’re too old to scamper around and be fed tidbits from the table, and you’re too young to see even the remotest advantage to being human. It’s when we first wear shoes and clothes.
It is a terrible, terrible time.

Get It Here:

Amazon | BAM | BN | Chapters | iBooks | IndieBound

About the Author:

Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour magazine, Redbook, the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a logophile and a bibliovore and a worrier about the world. Trained as a medievalist, she tries to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don't really need it. She currently lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet. Visit her website


2 advance copies of The Last Wolf and 2 posters

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN Review: When Santa Was a Baby by Linda Bailey

Title: When Santa Was a Baby
Illustrator: Geneviève Godbout
Author: Linda Bailey
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 13th 2015
Source: Netgalley

Book Description:

Santa's parents think their little one is absolutely wonderful, even though he has a booming voice instead of a baby's gurgle, loves to stand in front of the refrigerator, gives his birthday presents away, trains his hamsters to pull a matchbox sleigh ... and has an unusual interest in chimneys. The adorably funny portrait of an oddball kid who fulfills his destiny - and two very proud parents.



This is the cutest picture book. It serves to answer a very interesting question: what was Santa like as a child?

The answer is charming, warm, and adorable. He starts finding his "Santa-ly" interests early on, from his love of red to his interest in chimneys. It's quirky and cute, and it's exactly how I'd like to think Santa would have been as a tot.

The artwork is gorgeous. The colors are bright, sure to keep a child's interest. It's detailed, and a distinct artwork that makes it look like it's a throwback to an earlier decade. It makes it seem like even more of a classic because of this style, and I'm a fan of it.

I think this is sure to be a seasonal favorite with kids who still have the wonders of Santa and Christmas in their hearts.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium
Series: Delirium #1
Author: Lauren Oliver
Format: Paperback, 393 pages
Pub. Date: 2011
Source: HPB

Book Description:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing.

They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.



I didn't really know what to expect going into this book. I was sort of intimidated by it. I remember when the series first came out, and everyone was obsessed. Almost every blog that I followed was reading it and talking about it. I'm always a bit hesitant when there's a fuss- I have a tendency not to enjoy them the way I wish I did!

But, I get it guys. I absolutely loved (oh no. I must be diseased) this book.

The world building is fascinating and well written. It created a very vivid landscape, one that is simultaneously beautiful and peaceful, but looming and violent. You have the guards enforcing rules, well armed and lurking coupled with the electric fence around the city and the mandated cure for the disease of "love" which set up quite the scary dystopia. It gives a disturbing insight into what life would be like without love and passion. It's chilling. But there's also the forests, the night skies, the beach, and the (albeit chilling) peace that ensues when everyone is a suburban loveless zombie.

I really enjoyed the characters. Mostly. I didn't so much care for the lead, Lena, so much. It's not personal. I am just really, really tired of the "ho hum I'm a boring brunette who is average looking and woe is me" mentality. I understand why it's done, and why it's done so much. But at the same time, no thanks. Her love (gasp) interest is captivating, and I understand her attraction to him.

The disease aspect is the most fascinating to me. What I didn't take into account is how big of an umbrella term "love" is. I originally was thinking "so you don't love your partner, meh". Not that that's not terrible, but is small potatoes. You wouldn't love anything. Not your favorite food, or music, or painting or sports or reddit or whatever other past times and hobbies you have. And that would be an awful life.

I was admittedly blindsided by the ending (I probably shouldn't have been but). This book definitely ends in a cliffhanger, which I'm also not entirely fond of.

Nonetheless, I have the other two books and I'll surely finish the series. This was a strong start, and quickly became one of my favorites. It's a good read for fans of YA dystopia and romance (and maybe a forthcoming triangle, can't tell yet).

Monday, December 18, 2017

HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN Review: Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich & Tanya Bastianich Manuali

Title: Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian: 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party
Authors: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Tanya Bastianich Manuali
Format: Hardcover, signed
Pub. Date: October 17th 2017
Source: Eataly

Book Description:

The beloved TV chef offers the only cookbook you'll need to give any gathering--from a dinner for two to a wedding--a delectable, welcoming Italian flavor.

No one throws a party like Lidia Bastianich! And now, in this delightful new cookbook, she gives us 220 fantastic recipes for entertaining with that distinctly Bastianich flare. From Pear Bellinis to Carrot and Chickpea Dip, from Campanelle with Fennel and Shrimp to Berry Tiramisu--these are dishes your guests will love, no matter the occasion. Here, too, are Lidia's suggestions for hosting a BBQ, making pizza for a group, choosing the perfect wine, setting an inviting table, and much more. Beautifully illustrated throughout with full-color photographs and filled with her trademark warmth and enthusiasm, this is Lidia's most festive book. Whether you're planning a romantic picnic for two, a child's birthday party, a holiday gathering, or a simple weeknight family dinner, Lidia's flavorful, easy-to-follow recipes and advice will have you calling to your guests: "Tutti a tavola a mangiare!"



I was so excited to get my hands on this. I got the chance to go to a book signing at Eataly here in Chicago. Lidia is super sweet, and gave us chocolates.

Onto the book. As the title (and author) suggests, this is an Italian cookbook. The tagline is: "220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party". I'm not Italian. I didn't grow up in a lovely family and learn to cook and my grandmother's hip. But also- I freakin' love Italian food and pasta. This book was meant for me; it's ways to cook classic Italian but from an approachable, novice standpoint.

The book is divided by course type: Aperitivi, Appetizers, Salads, Soups, Vegetables and Sides, Polenta Risotto and Pasta, Fish and Seafood, Poultry and Meat, and Desserts. This is a pretty foolproof way to find whatever you're in the mood for. Sprinkled throughout the book, there's also ideas for how to plan menus for different parties and events- like sports games or brunch.

Each recipe has the name in English followed by Italian, with a little paragraph about it- why it's included, how to adapt it, where it came from, etc. It's a nice touch that makes it feel like Lidia is exchanging recipe secrets with you. The steps can get kind of long and aren't numbered, but they're written simply in a way that's easy to understand.

The only nit I have to pick is the photography. I understand that having a photo for every one of the 220 recipes would turn it into a massive publication. But, I like having photos to go from. There's some, but not as many as I would have liked. The ones that are included are very delicious looking and professional.

This book is vegetarian friendly. There's lots of meatless dishes, and I think that some of the ones with meat are easily adaptable.

Some of the dishes that I look forward to making the most include: Roman-Style Semolina Gnocchi, Stuffed Calamari, Layered Casserole with Beef, Cabbage, and Potatoes, and Chocolate Sponge Cake with Sour Cherries and Chocolate Zabaglione Mousse Filling.

I think this is a good book for beginners and beyond, as well as those who host dinners or parties. There's a wide variety of recipes, and it includes desserts and cocktails. It's one I'm sure I'll keep in my kitchen for a long time.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Review: The Ascendance of Harley Quinn by Shelley E Barba & Joy M Perrin

Title: The Ascendance of Harley Quinn: Essays on DC's Enigmatic Villain
Editors: Shelley E Barba & Joy M Perrin
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 2nd 2017
Source: McFarland & Company

Book Description:

 Since her first appearance in 1992, Harley Quinn--eccentric sidekick to the Joker--has captured the attention of readers like few new characters have in eight decades of Batman comics. Her bubbly yet malicious persona has earned her a loyal and growing fan base as she has crossed over into television, theater, video games, and film. In this collection of new essays, contributors explore her various iterations, focusing on her origin and contexts, the implications of her abusive relationship with the Joker, her relationships with other characters, her representations across media, and the philosophic basis of her character.



To sound like that person we all hate: I liked Harley Quinn before it was cool.

Now that that's out of the way, I was so excited to see a book of people talking about one of my favorite comic book/cartoon characters. The cover art is cute, and the premise of essays from different authors about this character along with her symbolism and philosophies. I was expecting something akin to the "The Philosophy of (insert pop culture reference here)" books that I read a few of in college. But, I was left a bit disappointed.

I found the essays to be a bit monotone and repetitive. While I know the blurb says this book is comprised of essays, I expected well written, well researched, short opinion pieces. And some of them were! But others felt like reading high school essays that were given as an assignment, with arguments that aren't completely supported, or with background information written as though it were a History of DC text book.

Like I said, there were some essays that were strong and really interesting. But others just weren't. I suppose that's the risk you take when reading an essay collection or anthology.

It's worth reading if you're a huge fan of Harley Quinn, DC, or comics. But if you're not, or if you're looking for a deeper philosophical-type examination of Harley, this might not be super helpful for you.

I was given a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Stacking the Shelves [107]

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.

It's finally snowing. Yay! Is it a white Christmas by you yet?

In My Inbox

The Year of the Geek by James Clarke [Thanks Quatro!]
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian [Thanks Delacorte!]

In My Mailbox

I'm Not Missing by Carrie Fountain [Thanks Flatiron Books/Goodreads!]


Christmas in Tut-Tut-Bun by John McCarrick

Non-Bookish Awesome

My December Tokyo Treat box!

December Glam Bag from Ipsy

and an unexpected Christmas gift from my friend Joe and my fiancee.

What about you?

Friday, December 15, 2017

HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN: Seasonal Shenanigans Blog Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

About the Stories:

Let It Snow - Nikola Christain
Jovie has always avoided the Christmas season. But when she has to spend the holidays in a ski lodge, she meets someone who may inspire her to embrace the season. Or at least the part about meeting under the mistletoe.

Eight Secret Nights - Shoshana David
Someone’s been leaving Hanukkah presents on Mara’s doorstep. Sweet presents. Thoughtful presents. She wonders who her secret admirer is. Hopefully it’s the cute guy who moved in next door and not the creep from 7A.

A Tradition Worth Continuing - Tricia Ramey
It’s Christmas Eve, and Beth Murphy is finally able to relax. Now’s the time to enjoy a little downtime with her husband James before the chaos of their descending families the next day. But it’s the gift she has for her husband that will make this Christmas the most memorable one yet.

Kittens For Christmas - Caitlyn Lynch
Regina Brooks thinks finding a box of abandoned kittens on Christmas Eve is a disaster in the making. Fortunately, her hunky neighbor Ric is eager to help her out — in any way he can!

Missing You For Christmas - Moxie Rivers
When Allison’s husband, Jake, can’t get leave, it’ll be her first Christmas without him since they were married. But Allison isn’t the type of person to let that stop her, but with the help of her coworkers, and just maybe a little Christmas magic, it will still be a Merry Christmas.

A Grease Monkey Christmas - Cailin Briste
Fate arranges the chance meeting of two strangers in need of a little kindness on Christmas Eve. Celebrity Davon Weider, with his navy-blue eyes and muscular physique, can fill the starring role in any woman’s fantasy. But Jasline, a spaceport mech, is more impressed by his five jump speed records.

Santa Claus is Coming - Jennie Kew
I don't dress up as Santa for just anyone, you know? Holly Granville isn't just anyone. When a massive storm hits our Christmas photo shoot and we're trapped inside a tiny hut — cold, wet, angry, and naked — our friendship irrevocably changes. But will it be for better, or worse?

The Promise Of Love - Maya Bailey
The year is 1819. He sees a man across a room and it is like seeing himself dressed in a British soldier’s uniform. How could it be that another man bears his face? He had loved her once; she had betrayed that love. Now he must find answers. If only he could do that without laying eyes on her again.

Underneath The Mistletoe - Ava Bari
Police officer Nic Zanetti just wanted to spent a quiet holiday alone with his TV. Then he’s called to find a runaway little girl. When he meets her widowed mother, this Christmas will be one they never forget.

Blizzard - Suzi Frewin
Simon and Fallon find themselves marooned together, fearing for their lives against the Zengwee, an alien species which has dominated Earth for its resources. Neither want the complication of falling in love, but fate and Christmas have other plans.

All I Want for Christmas … is You - Annika Steele
On Christmas Eve, Dr. Victoria Long is determined to take her relationship with Detective Devon King to the next level, maybe even the forever kind. But will their relationship survive when Devon discovers she’s a suspect in a series of thefts?

Christmas is Coming - Liv Honeywell
It’s almost Christmas, and Abby decides to decorate the tree, despite Will, her Dom, telling her to wait. But when she drops his toolbox and all the parts scatter like confetti, she’s left wondering if she’ll be able to sit down by *next* Christmas. What will happen when Will gets home?

New Beginnings - Dana Kenzi
When Erika’s Winter Solstice ritual doesn’t go as planned, it joins her list of worries, right next to her struggles to run her newly acquired business. Then her handsome neighbor, David, drops by to offer her some company. What starts off as a venting session between two frustrated adults leads to a cathartic and pleasurable encounter.

I Fell Through Starlight For You - Keira Fox
It’s the earliest hours of Christmas and Lucille is thinking of closing up her bistro when an enchanting figure comes through her door seeking aid for his injuries.

From Underneath The Mistletoe by Ava Bari:

The officer who’d found her daughter was still there, and Amelia had yet to even acknowledge him. She rubbed her eyes and kept Grace at her hip as she looked up at the taller man… and instantly regretted choosing her most unflattering nightgown to wear to bed.
“Mrs. Eliot, I’m Officer Zanetti,” he said, offering a hand. She tried to ignore how strong his grip was. His hand was huge and completely engulfed hers.
“Thank you so much for finding my daughter, Officer,” Amelia said. “I really can’t thank you enough.”
“It’s all in a day’s work, Ma’am,” he said, his smile bringing her back to her teenage years when she’d fawned over boy band members and actors.
She thanked him several more times as the other cops left and Grace began to yawn and lean heavily on her mother. Deciding to save all punishments until tomorrow, Amelia hoisted Grace into her arms. “I think I’d better get her to bed now.”
Officer Zanetti nodded. “Yeah you should.” He leaned over, catching Grace’s attention. She was half-asleep but awake enough to listen when he spoke. “Stay in bed this time, okay? Remember what we said.”
“Uh huh.” She took the letter out of her pocket and then, for whatever reason, handed it to the officer. “You promise Santa will read it?”
“If he doesn’t, I will read it to him myself,” he swore, as serious as if he had his hand on the Bible.
“Okay, but don’t open it until you see him,” Grace said. She nestled into the thick cottony fabric of Amelia’s nightgown and was asleep in seconds. Amelia gave Officer Zanetti a questioning look.
“Ah yeah…” He rubbed his neck. “I might have told her I work for Santa Claus to get her to come with me.”
Amelia chuckled. Her heart had yet to slow down all the way, but there was something hilarious about this tough guy cop getting embarrassed. “You’re a Christmas elf?”
“A bodyguard, thank you,” he said, affronted.
“That would’ve been my next guess.” He certainly looked the part, as the unhelpful part of Amelia’s brain was quick to point out.
They stood in awkward silence for a time until Grace shifted in Amelia’s arms, reminding her they probably shouldn’t stand outside in freezing cold weather. Officer Zanetti seemed to realize this at the same time. He coughed and stuffed his hands in his pockets.
“Okay, looks like everything is good here. I’ll let you two get some sleep.”
“Would you like some coffee before you go?” Amelia asked. “I feel like I owe you for finding my daughter.”
“Just keep her safe in bed tonight, Ma’am,” he said, walking back to his car. “Have a Merry Christmas.”
“You too,” Amelia called out, but he’d already started his engine, and she had no idea if he heard her.

Get It Here:


About the Authors:

**The saying goes that “it’s always the quiet ones,” and that is certainly true of Nikola Christain, the sexy personality lurking within a shy, regular woman. When she isn’t living her “normal”, quiet life, she is exploring, experiencing, reading, and writing about it all.

Goodreads | Amazon | Tumblr | Facebook

**A native New Yorker, Shoshana David loves celebrating her Jewish heritage in her writing. A bit of a late bloomer, she didn’t catch the writing bug until college. This is her first published work.

**Tricia Ramey, born in Alberta, Canada, enjoys reading and writing a variety of fiction. Married for sixteen years and counting to the love of her life, she uses her vast imagination and life experience to create rich and detailed scenarios for all her works.

Tumblr | Amazon

**USA Today bestseller Caitlyn Lynch is an Australian author and happily married mother of two. She has a number of published works available on Amazon .

Goodreads | Website | Tumblr | Facebook | Bookbub | Twitter | Google Plus | Pinterest | Instagram

Add your name to her Mailing List to find out about new works, be invited to read exclusive advanced reader copies, and more!

**Moxie Rivers is an American writer of erotic fiction of all persuasions, living on the Mid-Atlantic coast with her wife and three fat, happy cats. When not writing, she can be found at her crafting table making jewelry or digging in the dirt in her garden.

Tumblr | Facebook

**Cailin Briste writes science fiction romance. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, the RWA Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter, and the RWA Passionate Ink Chapter. She’s writing the third novel in her Sons of Tallav series and the second novel in her A Thief in Love Suspense Romance series.

Goodreads | Website | Blog | Facebook | Bookbub | Twitter | Google Plus | Pinterest | Amazon | Street Team | Newsletter

**Jennie Kew is the author of The Q Collection, a series of quick and quirky erotic romances, as well as the upcoming Bennett’s Bastards series.

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Amazon | Newsletter

**Maya Bailey grew up in India but now resides in Utah with her husband. As a marketing communications professional she has lived and worked all over the world. An eternal optimist, she adores happily-ever-afters and the craft or writing. Regency Romance is her favourite genre.

Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest | Amazon | Website

**Ava Bari is a New York born Midwesterner with a passion for writing, reading, and reading when she’s supposed to be writing.

Tumblr | Twitter

**If the book you just can't put down is an exciting tale of intrigue with lots of villains, twists, and an awesome romance, then you'll love Suzi Frewin’s books. As a lifetime reader of romance, she likes more action than promise, so that's the way she writes. Enjoy.

Website | Twitter

**Annika began writing at the age of eight, but abandoned her stories in college. A ridiculous number of years later, she stumbled across fanfic, put fingers to keyboard, and hasn’t stopped writing since.

Website | Facebook | Tumblr | Mailing list

**Liv Honeywell is a BDSM erotic romance writer, and when not writing about delicious, hot male dominants and the female subs who love them, she’s usually doing something craft-like, reading, or baking and attempting to satisfy the demands of His High and Mighty Dominance (the cat!).

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Bookbub | Amazon | Mailing list

**Dana Kenzi has been writing fiction for over ten years. Currently, she indulges in her deepest and darkest fantasies to write erotica in her spare time. When she’s not glued to the keyboard, she’s eating, traveling, binge watching TV shows on Netflix, or impulse buying on Amazon.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Mailing list

**Keira always used to joke that she’d end up writing Mills & Boon novels if her career in art didn’t work out. She’s still making art and baking the sweet things that she so often likes to write about, but she decided that she’d like to do the other thing too. She lives and works in a tumbledown cottage in the back of a garden right near the ocean in Western Australia



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