Monday, December 30, 2019

Mini Review: Passion Ignites by Donna Grant

Title: Passion Ignites
Series: Dark Kings #7
Author: Donna Grant
Format: Paperback ARC
Pub. Date: November 3rd 2015
Source: Goodreads

Book Description:

He consumed her with that kiss, leaving no question that whatever was happening between them was meant to be—that it had always been meant to be…


Thorn is the bad boy of the Dragon Kings, a gorgeous, reckless warrior whose passions run wild and fury knows no bounds. When he sees the brave, beautiful Lexi being lured into the Dark Fae’s trap, he has no choice but to rescue her from a fate worse than death. But by saving this tempting mortal, he exposes himself to his fiercest enemy—and darkest desires. As the war between Dragons and Fae heats up, so does the passion between Lexi and Thorn. And when love is a battlefield, the heart takes no prisoners…


Lexi is on a mission of justice. Every day, she searches for the monster who murdered her friend. Every night, she hides in the shadows and plots her revenge. But the man she seeks is more dangerous than she ever imagined. He is one of the Dark Fae who preys on human life, who uses his unearthly power to seduce the innocent, and who is setting a trap just for her. Nothing can save Lexi from a creature like this—except the one man who’s been watching her every move…



I got this book because I was told I didn't have to read them in order. While I might not have to read them in order, I feel like I definitely would have benefited from reading the other books.

The story was fine, but I never really grew to care for any of the characters. I think this is just a case of me not being the right audience. Fans of this series seem to really like it!

There was a lot of relationships and references to the past that were lost on me, so even when I was invested in parts of the story, I felt like I was missing something.

I'd read the series from the beginning though. There's good romance scenes, strong female characters, and sexy dragons. I love everything about all of that. I'll come back to this one, and hopefully appreciate it more.

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for my honest review. Thank you.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Stacking the Shelves [112]

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 been awhile but here we go!

Little Library


30-Minute Meals by Rachael Ray
It was a quiet week here. Surprisingly, I didn't get any books over the holiday. What about you?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Mini Review: Twilight: The Graphic Novel by Stephenie Meyer

Title: Twilight: The Graphic Novel
Series: Volume 1
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Illustrator: Young Kim
Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
Pub. Date: March 16th 2010
Source: Goodwill

Book Description:

When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret...



I was a pretty okay fan of the Twilight books. I didn't think they were the best books ever made, nor were they my introduction to vampires. I also didn't hate them as much as so many people seemed to. For me, they were pretty middle of the road. Enjoyable, but not something I need to read over and over again. I read the series, and I saw the films. And when I came across the graphic novel version, I picked that up too.

I wasn't at all disappointed. The artwork in this book is absolutely gorgeous. It's done in an Japanese/manga style of illustration that makes everything a little bit softer and more pleasant to look at.

Because the whole story is condensed, I actually kind of liked the characters better this way. Bella is less annoying and whiny. Edward is less creepy and stalker-y. It's paced better and still gets the same basic gist of the story and plot across.

It was a quick read that I enjoyed. If you were a fan of the original Twilight series, this is a good supplement to enjoy alongside it.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Review: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Title: Breadcrumbs
Author: Anne Ursu
Illustrator: Erin Mcguire
Format: Paperback, 312 pages
Pub. Date: January 2nd 2013
Source: Half Price Books

Book Description:

The winner of numerous awards and recipient of four starred reviews, Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs is a stunning and heartbreaking story of growing up, wrapped in a modern-day fairy tale.

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before he stopped talking to her and disappeared into a forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it's up to Hazel to go in after him. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a stunningly original fairy tale of modern-day America, a dazzling ode to the power of fantasy, and a heartbreaking meditation on how growing up is as much a choice as it is something that happens to us.

In Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursu tells, in her one-of-a-kind voice, a story that brings together fifty years of children's literature in a tale as modern as it is timeless. Hazel's journey to come to terms with her evolving friendship with Jack will deeply resonate with young readers.

Supports the Common Core State Standards



I remember there being so much hype around this book when it came out. It seemed like everybody was reading and loving it. I remember seeing the beautiful, snowy cover all over the place. So, finally I caved into the hype and decided to give this one a read. I have mixed feelings about this one. While I didn't hate it and have most definitely read worse, I couldn't help but to be disappointed in the story.

I'll start out by saying, Anne Ursu is an unbelievable writer. She is so poetic and her writing becomes almost song-like. It's slow and soothing and easily pulls you into the story. The winter and snow is so well described, it conjures up images of fantastical mountain castles and a nostalgia of winters that we had as children.

I like the story conceptually. It's inspired by a classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale called "The Snow Queen." It's easy to see where the author drew her inspiration from, and I think the overall story plays off of it well.

My troubles lie with the main character, Hazel. I didn't find her very relatable, or even very pleasant. I was okay with her bleakness- I was that kid growing up too. But what bothered me was how selfish she comes across. She is so unhealthily attached to her friend Jack. She "allows" him time to play with other friends, as though she actually has the power to decide who he can or cannot be friends with. She refers to him as "hers" which is possessive and creepy.

We're told that Hazel is very bookish, and a fan of all these wonderful books. There's a lot of literary references. We're told how imaginative, how creative she is. But the other tells and doesn't show. We never see her being creative or reading a book or being content with herself. It as though her entire personality and existence is tied to Jack's friendship with her. She's judgmental to those around her, and doesn't really seem to learn a lesson or reflect on how she acts to change for the better.

I wish I would have found myself cheering for her. This is a story where I know I am supposed to! I'm supposed to root for her to go on her quest, to brave whatever nasty magical things are to be found in the forest, to defeat the biggest evil of them all and to get her friend back safe and sound. But I didn't have that connection to her, so I didn't really care what happened, and that's not what you're looking for in a book.

I'm also not quite sure who this book is for? The flowery language and deeper messages read much older than the middle grade crowd that I think it's aimed towards. I think a lot of kids would be bored by the slow build and language of this story.

The illustrations make up a bit for the issues I had with the writing. They are absolutely beautiful, and do a good job of capturing the essence and tone of the passages they accompany. It was a nice little pick-me-up each time I came across one.

I also appreciate that Hazel is of Indian descent.

I know I'm in the minority here. A lot of people really enjoyed it. And I wanted to. Really I did. It wasn't for me though. The writing was descriptive at times but lacking very much in character development.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Review: My Drunk Kitchen by Hannah Hart

Title: My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut
Author: Hannah Hart
Format: Hardcover, 225 pages
Pub. Date: August 12th 2014
Source: Goodwill

Book Description:

One day, lonely cubicle dweller and otherwise bored New York City transplant Hannah Hart decided to make a fake cooking show for a friend back home in California. She opened her laptop, pulled out some bread and cheese, and then, as one does, started drinking. The video was called "Butter Yo Sh*t" and online sensation My Drunk Kitchen was born.

My Drunk Kitchen (the book!) includes recipes, stories, color photographs, and tips and tricks to inspire your own adventures in tipsy cooking. Hannah offers cocktail recommendations, culinary advice (like, remember to turn off the oven when you go to bed), and shares never-before-seen recipes such as:

The Hartwich (Knowledge is ingenuity! Learn from the past!) Can Bake (Inventing things is hard! You don't have to start from scratch!) Latke Shotkes (Plan ahead to avoid a night of dread!) Tiny Sandwiches (Size doesn't matter! Aim to satisfy.) Saltine Nachos (It's not about resources! It's about being resourceful.)
In the end, My Drunk Kitchen may not be your go-to guide for your next dinner party . . . but it will make you laugh and drink . . . I mean think . . . about life.



I really like Hannah Hart. I used to watch a lot of her My Drunk Kitchen videos in college. I appreciate her quirky sense of humor, her optimism, and (although fairly unrelated to the book at hand) her openness about being LGBT. I was so happy when she got a Food Network show, and I was bummed that it didn't work out for very long.

Unfortunately, I don't think this book is a good representative of her. Or at least, she doesn't translate well into book form.

Calling this a "cookbook" would be very generous. There are technically recipes, yes, but they exist in a weird plane of existence where they are broad concepts as opposed to actual recipes. There's no real rules or measurements or technical help. It's sort of like a choose your own adventure recipe guide.

There's a lot of good advice and quotes and stories about being young. I appreciated those. There's good take aways from this, like being yourself, adulting is hard for everyone, and that it's okay to think outside of the box. But other times, it's sort of just slapped together and hard to follow. Random brainwaves on YouTube certainly work better than on paper, because it's weird to skip thoughts suddenly as you're reading. But Hannah Hart is a funny person, and there's a few laughs tucked away in here.

This book has a strong emphasis on alcohol and drink pairings and stuff like that, but I don't know why that would be surprising given the name of the book and the nature of her YouTube career.

It has nice glossy pages and really nice photos. It's a good quality book, from a publication standpoint.

All in all it was worth a flip through, but I don't imagine it's anything I'll actually reference in my kitchen. It's not quite cookbook, not quite memoir, in a weird mix mash of a book that I'm not really sure what I am meant to make of it. I feel like I might have really adored this book when I was in college, but it seems a bit removed for me now.

If you're a fan of reading YouTuber books, a fan of Hannah Hart's channel, or are a college student who is trying to figure out what adult life means and how the hell you're supposed to cook things now, then you might appreciate this book. If you're looking for like... An actual cookbook with usable recipes, or if you're unfamiliar with Hannah Hart's other works, then I think this won't be the book for you. There are better out there.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Review: Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Title: Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir
Author: Jenny Lawson
Format: Paperback, 370 pages
Pub. Date: March 5th 2013
Source: Goodwill

Book Description:

Includes a new chapter!

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.



I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book. I wasn't familiar with Jenny Lawson, or her blog. But, I remember when everyone was reading it and that it's a best seller and had won a Goodreads Award, so I thought that I would check it out. Overall, it was okay.

The first half of this book was absolutely hilarious. Jenny Lawson had an.... interesting childhood to say the least. She has a great voice for telling these childhood stories, where they're relatable, funny, and just wild enough that they still seem believable. I really appreciated that peppered throughout this collection of essays were photos from her past. It makes it that much more "real" which I think drives home how funny they are. In fact, I actually read a few chapters aloud to my mother. I honestly cannot tell you the last time I've done that. It's been years, at least.

There's a good couple of quotes sprinkled in here, like “You should just accept who you are, flaws and all, because if you try to be someone you aren't, then eventually some turkey is going to shit all over your well-crafted facade, so you might as well save yourself the effort and enjoy your zombie books.” Another good one is “In short? It is exhausting being me. Pretending to be normal is draining and requires amazing amounts of energy and Xanax.” Both of these are relatable to me. If nothing else, I appreciate that Lawson has grown into a person who is unapologetically herself. Even if that person is a little exhausting.

The second half, I rapidly lost interest. The stories no longer were quirky, but boring and a bit obnoxious as they shifted from childhood to adulthood. There's a lot of rambling and repetition. I understand that she has an anxiety disorder, and that this is how it presents in conversations. But it needed editing. Plus, the melodramatics of THIS THING HAPPENED TO ME just kidding it was this actual much smaller, normal thing that happens to most people. Then there's a thousand footnotes, and notes to the editor, that also get tiring and don't add much to the narrative.

She's clearly funny. The first half of the book proved that. But I'm also clearly not her target audience. Lots of people seem to like her, but, I was left disappointed by this memoir. She has quite a few more books published since this one came out, but those are going to be a pass from me. It seems very much like something a book club might read. If you had a troubling childhood or were the weird kid growing up, you might like this. Saddle up for profanity and an excessive amount of the word "vagina".

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Review: Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 5 Anthology edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Title: Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 5
Editor: Rachel Kramer Bussel
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Pub. Date: December 10th 2019
Source: Rachel Kramer Bussel

Book Description:

In Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 5, award-winning editor Rachel Kramer Bussel takes readers on an outrageous journey into the world of female fantasy and desire. These sexy stories offer up wild, hot, and steamy tales from today’s top authors. You’ll be swept away by the sexiest business deal ever, break the rules in a future world where skin-on-skin contact is forbidden, and discover the art of getting off by phone sex.

From threesomes to mermaid sex, fetishes, sex parties, and much more, these authors steam up the pages with tales of trysts, love, and lust where nothing is held back. If you’re looking to escape from the everyday and discover what happens when women are ready to get totally outrageous, this book is for you.

With new stories by beloved authors including Joanna Angel, Balli Kaur Jaswal, CD Reiss, Sierra Simone, and Sabrina Sol, along with newcomers to the genre, you’ll savor every sizzling page.



The theme of this erotica anthology is "outrageous", and on this word alone, I'd say this collection delivers. There are 21 short stories in here, each of them drastically different but all linked by that one word. Each story is short enough to read in a quickie, but long enough that it satisfies. Because each story is unrelated to the others in the book, this is a good book to read in bursts. One story here, two stories there.

This collection does a really good job with inclusivity and diversity. There are people of color represented here, as well as people with disabilities, of a number of body types, and of multiple age groups. There's also LGBT and gender inclusivity here, including non-binary characters. Not only people, but kinks as well. There's all sorts of eroticism featured here, from hardcore BDSM to bondage to age play, to voyeurism, and a whole bunch in between.

Because there's such a wide variety of stories and authors here, if I were reviewing each story individually, the ratings would be everything from a 1/5 to a 5/5. I'm not partial to stories written in first person. Some were too rushed. Some didn't sell me on being sexy and came off forced. Some had kinks that I just don't want any part in, and some had vibes that I thought seemed creepy or coercive. On the other side of the same coin, some of the stories are beautifully weaved with sexy language. They have kinks that are right up my alley with words that I love and scenes that I'd love to be a part of. They have unique concepts and take their few pages of space in this book and create something fantastic.

My point mainly being, that there'll certainly be something in here for you, even if you don't enjoy each and every story. For me, the good outweighed the not so good, and just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean it won't be the thing that drives you crazy.

I won't be reviewing all 21 stories, nor will I be harping on which ones I didn't like. Instead, I'm going to touch on the three stories that I liked best. These are in no particular order.

The first story I feel is worth highlighting is "The Summer of 1669" by Jayne Renault. If the title wasn't a dead giveaway, it's a historic erotica. In a pleasant surprise to me, the couple featured in this story is two women. It largely takes place in a memory, of a time spent on a ship on its way over from Europe to the New Colonies of America. It's a bit taboo, a lot erotic, and being LGBT myself, the fact that it's F/F was lovely. It's sensually written in a romanticized way, while still being plenty dirty.

The next story that I liked is called "If the Ocean" by Loretta Black. It too features a couple that is two females. It also has historic imagery (I guess I'm pretty predictable, eh?). The story occurs when a woman happens across a mermaid. Yes, a mermaid. The book promises outrageousness, does it not? Loretta Black does a really good job here of balancing the sexy elements with pretty imagery and vocabulary that make it seem like it should be part of a larger work (which I'd read tf out of, if you're reading this!).

The last one, and possibly my favorite one, is the last story of the book, called "Spin" by Lauren Emily. It's an exception to my "I don't like the first person narrative" rule. It's also, I just now realize, yet another F/F erotica. This is surprising to me since I also like men, but, here we are. I'd like to just say that there are plenty of men in this book, despite my top picks! I digress. "Spin" involves a public spectacle of eroticism set while doing an aerialist routine. I have an affinity for all things that are carnival and circus, so this was a perfect way to end this collection of stories.

Over all, there's a lot of authors here with a lot of stories to tell. They each do so differently, and it goes to show how so many different people can take one theme and run wild with it in all different directions. There's a lot of different fantasies and kinks here, so there's sure to be something for everybody. If you've enjoyed any of the other volumes from this anthology line, it will find a nice place on your shelf among the others.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Pub. Date: May 18th 2011
Source: Goodwill

Book Description:

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating--a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.



Four and a half stars, rounded up.

I'm not quite sure how to review this book. It seems wrong to say that I liked it, given that it's about rape and abduction. But, it was so hauntingly and beautifully written, that it was enjoyable to read, even with the dark (and it is DARK) subject matter.

I didn't realize when I picked this book up that it was going to be written from the perspective of the five year old son, Jack, who has been held captive in the "room" his entire life. It was shocking, but it works so well as a literary tool. He doesn't understand life, not like you or me. Because there is no life outside of "room". He doesn't understand why his mom gets sad, or angry, or tired with him. He doesn't understand that she was raped and enslaved and kidnapped. But as an adult reading through his eyes, you can see between the lines, and see how much fight the mom has in her, and how she copes with this horrible life she's been dealt, and how much she does for her son so that he can try to have happiness, even in personal little hell.

The emotions are high and tense because children feel so deeply. Each cutting word, each sigh, each scream, it's all vivid and it's all felt. You grow to care for Jack and his mother, hoping that they will be safe, that they will live, that they will get free. Jack is written as so brave but so frightened at the same time. When outside of Room, he has to learn things that I would have never thought about, like how to climb stairs. It's heartbreaking but hopeful.

The room is written in such vivid detail that I feel like I could envision every part of it, from the worn floors to the ceiling window. The characters are well described too, Donoghue is very good at showing instead of telling, and it visualizes very well. It's no wonder that someone read this and thought it would make a good movie. It's very dramatic and cinematic, and while I have not seen the movie (and I'm not quite sure I want to), I can totally imagine it on screen.

This book covers so many hard to swallow topics: child abuse, rape, kidnapping, enslavement, suicide, depression, miscarriage, overdose, the "need to know all the gory details" coverage of the media. And Emma Donoghue navigates them expertly. This is a raw, emotional, powerful, and often times painful story, measured with hope, perseverance, and love. It's not an easy book to get through, but it's a book that I'm very glad that I read.

If you are a fan of things like true crime and ID channel, than this book might be something you want to read. If you have any aversion to any of the topics that I've mentioned here, than I don't recommend it, because you will probably find it incredibly troubling and upsetting.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Stacking the Shelves [111]

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 been awhile but here we go!

In My Mailbox

The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham
Looking Glass by Christina Henry

I also won a giant box of books from The Windy Pages and it was absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much! It included...

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson
Monstress Vol 1-3 by Marjorie M. Liu
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi
Miss You Love You Hate You Bye by Abby Sher
Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1-7 by Brian K. Vaughan
Cursed by Thomas Wheeler

In My E-Mailbox

A New Dictionary of Fairies by Morgan Daimler
Blood Countess by Lana Popović
The Magick of Food by Gwion Raven
Llewellyn's Complete Book of Ceremonial Magick by Various Authors


Grey by EL James (I know I know)
Old Polish Traditions by Maria Lemnis, Henryk Vitry
Binge by Tyler Oakley
Awake by Natasha Preston

Friday, December 13, 2019

Review: It by Stephen King

Title: It
Author: Stephen King
Format: Hardcover, 1156 pages
Pub. Date: September 15th 1986
Source: Lisa

Book Description:

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

Frightening, epic, and brilliant, Stephen King's IT is one of the greatest works of a true storytelling master.



This is without a doubt the longest reading experience that I have ever had. I'm a quick reader, and this took me months. Overall, I didn't hate this book, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

Stephen King is a complicated writer. And by that, I don't mean his plots. His resume speaks for itself- the dude can sell a story. I found that this book was in parts, very well written. He is a master at metaphor and description. His language is so detailed that it's often poetic, and it's almost impossible not to be sucked into the storyscapes that he creates. I could picture Derry. I felt like I was in the Barrens, in the house on Neibolt street, and even in Bev's apartment. The language is vivid, and the both the settings and the characters are well thought out and well examined.

This book should be overly complicated, but it isn't. Not only does it follow seven different characters, with chapters that change focus between the seven, but it follows them in two different time periods- when they are children and then when they are adults. He did a wonderful job of making each person distinct enough that it's easy to tell who each chapter is following.

My problem with the writing is that there was too much of it. It often got stale and long, and a bit repetitive. If this had been edited down a bit more, I would have enjoyed it more.

The actual plot of it was fine. I didn't find it scary, though I'll give you that it's disturbing. Most of the scare factors were just ick for me as opposed to fears- blood, guts, bugs, corpses. It's certainly unpleasant, but I didn't quite get the "I need to sleep with the lights on" type of feeling that I was hoping for in this book. Pennywise, beyond his glamour of a clown, is a very odd monster with very odd origins. The book takes a lot of really weird turns that left me a bit confused, although with some closure.

And then there's the whole pre-teen love fest bit. Which.... While nowhere near as graphic as the internet and other reviews had led me to believe... It was a very odd choice to put in the book.

I won't be reading this book again. It was perfectly fine, but because it was so rambling and not really scary, it wasn't my cup of tea. Stephen King doesn't need my validation though, and I already know there are thousands who disagree. More power to them and to him, because he keeps his audience coming back for more.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You #1
Format: Paperback ARC
Pub. Date: July 30th 2013
Source: Half Price Books

Book Description:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Giver of Stars, discover the love story that captured over 20 million hearts in Me Before You, After You, and Still Me.

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?



It's rare that I whole-heartedly and so positively adore a book. Me Before You was absolutely fantastic. It was beautifully written and raw and honest and optimistic and heartbreaking in the most perfect of ways. This was my first time reading anything by Jojo Moyes, but it certainly won't be my last.

The characters were wonderfully well written. Even if you didn't like a character (and believe me, there are a few), you still got a sense of who they were and the roots and complications of why you disliked them. Louisa is quirky, but never in the annoyingly common YA way of "omg I'm not like other girls". She's just unapologetically herself, and I admire that. I wish I had the confidence to wear, I dunno, pink zebra leggings with a festive hat and sparkly shoes and to say things without thinking too much about them. She's realistically awkward and charming, and I get what Will and her employers see in her.

And then there's Will. Poor, complicated, devastatingly handsome Will. Despite his demeanor and how he speaks to people, he's oddly endearing and you root for him to be better, to let down his walls. As he grows fond of Louisa, you can't help but to fall in love with him as she does. Even knowing damn well he's going to break all of our hearts.

The setting is also really well done. I feel like I could walk around their town with no map and feel at ease, and when they're traveling, I was swept away to be with them too.

Moyes does a brilliant job bringing up a topical and complicated topic and making it relatable, personable, and understandable. She gave me a lot to think about.

And I cried. Of course I did. I always do. I knew what was coming, and still, I cried. This is the most emotionally connected to a book and characters that I have felt in a long time. I know this book is a few years old, but this is the best book I have read this year. It was beautiful, touching, and haunting, and I absolutely recommend it. It's funny, charming, absolutely devastating, and strangely peaceful, and if you don't mind a little heartbreak and young love, this book is for you.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Review: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, & Lauren Myracle

Title: Let It Snow
Authors: John Green, Maureen Johnson, & Lauren Myracle
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Pub. Date: October 2nd 2008
Source: Goodwill

Book Description:

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today's bestselling authors - John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle- brings all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.



This book has been on my to-read list for such a long time. When it snowed shortly after Halloween in my neck of the woods, I figured it was the perfect time to get in the jingle bell spirit. I wish I hadn't.

This book is divided into three different short stories, so I'll give three tiny reviews of each one.

Starting this anthology off is Maureen Johnson's story titled "The Jubilee Express". This was easily my favorite of the three. It involves a girl named Jubilee who has to head to Florida for the holidays when her parents are arrested, only to find that her train is snowed in too.

It's definitely not a realistic story, but it's Christmas so I can ignore that. The romance plot is super cute and warm and fuzzy inside. I adored that the main character stands up for herself when she realizes she is being treated badly. We could all use that type of confidence, even if it takes awhile.

I think her name is super cute, and the way it relates to both the plot of the story and the spirit of Christmas is well done.

Some things that were a little irritating was the whole "not like other girls" thing, and the fact that she's anti-cheerleader for no real reason and even has the gall to make fun of them for all being named things like Madison..... When her name is Jubilee, which she also hates for being unique? It's weird.
Maureen Johnson's story

The middle story is that of John Green, entitled "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle". I think I was most disappointed by this story. It wasn't the worst one, but because I have read (and loved) other John Green books and had higher expectations.

The main character is awful. He keeps describing his female friend as "not a girl" and not like other girls, is one of the boys. When he finds out she's seeing another boy, he makes fun of them. Even when she asks him to stop because enough is enough, he doesn't stop. He has the type of vocabulary of "that's gay". He and his best friend are endangering all their lives for the chance to bang a cheerleader because they're so easy, coupled with slut jokes. He crashes his car and tells his parents he was carjacked because his parents have insurance, so it's all fine. He also realizes he has feelings out of seemingly nowhere. Just I see the light we are meant to be!

She's not innocent here though. She is anti-cheerleader (seriously, am I the only person on the planet whose school cheerleaders were just normal albeit pretty people?) yet she agrees to go with them (because she wants hashbrowns) and complains the whole time about going and that they're just after cheerleaders. Even though she knew that from the beginning. She clearly has feelings for the MC (lord knows why) but instead of using words, decides to be judgy and passive aggressive the whole time. She's also the type of girl who calls her friends "retarded misogynists."

Yikes. They deserve each other, but not for the way Green intended.

And last, there is Lauren Myracle's "The Patron Saint of Pigs". I didn't care for this one, but it least it (sort of?) had some personality growth.

The main character is awful. She's so self absorbed. Five people in 100 pages tell her this, and tell her she's terrible and selfish. She then supposedly has her "Christmas angel epiphany" of how she needs to change and stop being so selfish. And she sort of does? The whole story she is bossing around her boss like she's not a teenager at a Starbucks. She tells her boss (not asks) what she's doing and when she's leaving. Ha, no. And even after this "epiphany" when she comes back, she still treats her boss poorly, even though she has brought a pig (yes, literal pig!) into a CAFE. I get it, you're a teenager and all authority is bad but it's a pig in a coffee shop that is upsetting.

Speaking of Starbucks, it's mentioned so much that it sort of just started to sound like this story was sponsored. There's also a lot of pop culture references here that make the story seem really outdated. Like American Idol being all the rage, the fact that her iPod has the click wheel thing, and I would have been her age roughly in 2008 when this was first published and even I had to google what the hell an iPenguin is.

I couldn't help to be disappointed when her friends forgave her and she got the boy, to be honest.

But, at the end of this story there's a nice little wrap up that features all of the couples from the other stories too. It's a little rushed and muddled, but that's the issue with short story collections. You don't get to know anyone well enough in so few pages, and the pacing is quick.

I didn't care much for this book, and I was glad it was over. It does make me want to read more by Maureen Johnson, but that's about it.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Mini Review: In Other Words by Christopher J. Moore

Title: In Other Words: An Illustrated Miscellany of the World's Most Intriguing Words and Phrases
Author: Christopher J. Moore
Illustrator: Lan Truong
Format: Paperback ARC
Pub. Date: Hardcover, 128 pages
Source: Little Library

Book Description:

"A delightful treasure house, literally a thesaurus, of linguistic marvels." --from the foreword by bestselling author Simon Winchester

A colorfully illustrated collection of more than ninety untranslatable words and phrases and the unique insights they offer into the cultures they come from.

Ever racked your brain for a word you're convinced should exist, yet is inexplicably absent from the dictionary? All languages have their limitations-should English fall short, the expression may lie elsewhere. That's where this book comes in: a quirky, international lexicon of linguistic gems that capture cultural untranslatables with satisfying precision.

Take for example the Japanese yoko meshi, “a meal eaten sideways,” describing the experience of trying to communicate in an alien tongue, or mono-no-aware, the appreciation of life's sadness. From the distinctive coziness of the Danish hygge, to the unrestrained dis of the Mayan bol (“in-laws” and “stupidity”), to the profound collectivism of the Zulu concept of ubuntu (roughly, “I AM because WE ARE"), these mots justes are grouped according to language and prefaced with insightful overviews of the relevant cultures by linguist Christopher J. Moore.

Embellished with 20 entertaining new untranslatable words and phrases and 90 characterful color illustrations by Lan Truong, and with a foreword by Simon Winchester, In Other Words is amusing, profound, and unputdownable--a gorgeously packaged gift book to entertain even the most well-versed polyglot with marvels of language from around the world.



I adore words and language. It's why I pursued degrees in several of them. It's why I have a love/hate relationship with all the articles from places like Buzzfeed called things like "25 CRAZY Words You Won't Believe Exist in Europe!!!". When I saw this little book tucked away in my local little library box, I knew I had to give it a read.

It's a short book but has a lot of information in it, as it's a collection of words, phrases, and idioms that don't have exact translations in English. It's divided by region/language/country.

Each word or phrase has a cute little illustration to go along with it, and is near the pronunciation guide, the definition, the history of how it came to exist as a phrase, as well as examples on when or when not to use it and (when applicable) the nuances of using it.

I was pleased that I knew most of the British and French ones.... But I didn't know most of the rest. It's definitely educational, but written with a sense of humor so that it doesn't just read like a dictionary or textbook.

If you're a fan of languages or Etymology, or are looking for a gift for an English teacher, this book is perfect.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Review: The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

Title: The Espressologist
Author: Kristina Springer
Format: Paperback, 184 pages
Pub. Date: January 4th 2011
Source: Salvation Army

Book Description:

What's your drink of choice? Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you're lots of fun and a bit sassy. Or a medium americano? You prefer simplicity in life. Or perhaps it's a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie. Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it all down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it's not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their coffee orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte. But when her boss, Derek, gets wind of Jane's Espressology, he makes it an in-store holiday promotion, promising customers their perfect matches for the price of their favorite coffee. Things are going better than Derek could ever have hoped, so why is Jane so freaked out? Does it have anything to do with Em dating Cam? She's the one who set them up! She should be happy for them, right?



I knew what I was in for when I grabbed this book. Something light. Something fluffy. Something that wouldn't take too much time or focus. And I got what I expected. This book was okay, but not quite for me.

I love the idea of this book, conceptually. I think that the idea of matching people based on their drink orders is a really cute one. And overall, that part of the plot was okay.

Some parts of the book were just a little bit juvenile for me, even by YA standards. "Totally", "omg", and "hottie" are used so much that they don't even sound like real words anymore. Plus the chat speak of things like "c u 2".

Where it fell flat for me was the main character. To say I didn't like her would be wildly understated. She's wanted to be a fashion designer since... Before reality TV stars made it popular. ...Really? Tommy Hilfiger, Versace, and Ralph Lauren would beg to differ. Because of this love of fashion, she's judgy there too, judging her friend for having superstore shoes. Plus, she calls pretty much everyone at her college weirdos who didn't get into real college or are old people. Yikes. Oh, and her coworker as a floozy for flirting. Nice.

She also seems like a pretty terrible employee. She's writing constantly instead of doing work and gets mad when people are annoyed by it. She gets promoted and says "power is great" and uses this to shove around a coworker she doesn't like and doesn't ring up coffees. Forgets to do inventory and stock, she acts like the manager is being sooooo mean.I get that it's a fictional book but good lord.

The actual match making parts were cute, as was her building success. It was cute and fluffy and because of the cozy setting of a coffee shop, that plot works really well. I also appreciate that she stands up for herself against her bullies. As much as I may not like her, I appreciate that she's no doormat and that she can hold her own.

I also know this isn't how you're supposed to judge a book, but the cover is super cute. I'd be lying if I said it's not what drew me into the book in the first place. It sums up the book and the tone of the story really well.

Ultimately, I think this book is just too young for me, even if I am a fan of YA books. If you're looking for something short that's easy to get through, this is a good choice. I'm not mad that I read it, but I won't be reading it again

Monday, December 2, 2019

Review: Caging Skies by Christine Leunens

Title: Caging Skies
Author: Christine Leunens
Format: Paperback ARC
Pub. Date: August 6th 2019
Source: Goodreads First Reads

Book Description:

The inspiration for the major film Jojo Rabbit by Taika Waititi

An avid member of the Hitler Youth in 1940s Vienna, Johannes Betzler discovers his parents are hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa behind a false wall in their home. His initial horror turns to interest—then love and obsession. After his parents disappear, Johannes is the only one aware of Elsa’s existence in the house and he alone is responsible for her fate. Drawing strength from his daydreams about Hitler, Johannes plans for the end of the war and what it might mean for him and Elsa.

The inspiration for the major film Jojo Rabbit by Taika Waititi, Caging Skies, sold in over twenty countries, is a work of rare power; a stylistic and storytelling triumph. Startling, blackly comic, and written in Christine Leunens’s gorgeous, muscular prose, this novel, her U.S. debut, is singular and unforgettable



I really liked this book. I wasn't really quite sure what to expect, having read the synopsis and also having seen the trailer for the film based on it, Jojo Rabbit.

Leunens has a really developed sense of writing. She's good at delivering emotion and tone, even when you don't really want to be feeling the things you're feeling. For example, that you feel bad for a devoted member of the Hitler Youth, and that you continue to feel bad even as he's supporting the Reich and as he's continuing to keep a Jewish girl in his walls for his own personal fulfillment.

Johannes is flawed and in a lot of ways, just not a good person. But in other ways, he seems so aware and so caring. He takes care of his family and his home with one hand, but lies and bullies with the other. I wasn't quite sure what to make of him a lot of the time, but he was never a dull character. The way the author describes his hometown and what is happening after Hitler's regime is over, it felt like I was transported. When his feelings were hurt I felt them, even if I thought he deserved it (and he often did). Elsa too is well written. Leunens does a good job of making her hopeful and sad and appreciative and rebellious, all in one. There's a lot of complexities and sometimes it's happy, sometimes it's sad, and sometimes you find yourself laughing and then feeling like a bad person.

It would have been 5 stars for me until I started to hit the end. Then it seems to have turned into a completely different book. The tone changed, and the pacing wildly changed. It went from well paced (and maybe even a little slow) to zooming by, and then abruptly it was over. I actually reread a bit to see if I had missed something but, no, it wasn't me. It almost felt like when you are writing an essay for an exam and the proctor calls five minutes so you just write like mad. It's a shame that it ended on a rough note for me.

That aside, this book was well written and I am glad I read it. If you're easily offended, this might not be a good fit for you as there's a fair amount of dark comedy. If you're a fan of WWII or Holocaust books, than I think it's worth reading.

I have not seen Jojo Rabbit, so I have absolutely no idea how the two compare but going off of the trailer, I'm going to say that they seem like completely different animals, so, keep that in mind if you liked the film and are considering reading the book.

I received a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for my honest review. Thank you.