Book Review / January 28, 2018

Title: Annihiliation Series: The Southern Reach, #1 Author: Jeff VanderMeer Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Blackstone Audio Release Date: February 14th, 2014 Format: Audiobook Pages: 195 Source: Library Narrator: Carolyn McCormick Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer. This is the twelfth expedition. Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the…

#AnneReadAlong2017 : Rilla of Ingleside
#AnneReadAlong2017 , Book Review / January 25, 2018

Title: Rilla of Ingleside Series: Anne of Green Gables, #8 Author: L. M. Montgomery Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Bantam Books Release Date: February 25th, 1997 Format: eBook Pages: 277 Source: Owned First Published: 1921 Anne’s children were almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. No one could resist her bright hazel eyes and dazzling smile. Rilla, almost fifteen, can’t think any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford. But undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside becomes endangered by a far-off war. Her brothers go off to fight, and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen. She is swept into a drama that tests her courage and leaves her changed forever. (via Goodreads) Goodreads Amazon Oh, Rilla-my-Rilla. It’s so hard to think that #AnneReadAlong2017 is finally coming to an end! While I might be almost a month behind wrapping up this read along (oops! But, you know…. life), I am still sad to see it go. Sometimes, I wonder if I took my time finishing Rilla of Ingleside only so it wouldn’t end? Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf…

December 2017 Month in Review
Month in Review / January 1, 2018

Newsworthy Oh my goodness, that was crazy. Somehow, December caught me in her clutches when I wasn’t looking. Life took over and dragged me along like a limp doll no matter how hard I ran to keep up. The winter holidays were in full swing, obviously. Not only did we celebrate Hanukkah with my family and Christmas with David’s, but we attended many holiday parties which covered Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, and a repeat of Thanksgiving. We also made many many cookies with many many friends and family members. I swear, we gained 12 pounds each this month due to cookies alone. Work was chaotic. Apparently, as we get towards the end of the year everyone needs something from my role. This was my first Q4 in this job, and while I love my job, I will need to work harder next year to ensure that doesn’t happen. It was a lot of stress and late nights. Not ideal– but now I know and can be prepared for next year at this time! Relatedly, the work I was doing with my non-profits also ramped up. That, plus work, plus holidays, plus wedding planning, plus the usual book clubs meant…

The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own
Book Review / December 28, 2017

Title: The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own Genre: Essays Publisher: St. Martin's Press Release Date: January 10th, 2017 Format: eARC Pages: 220 Source: NetGalley Editor: Veronica Chambers Michelle Obama is unlike any other First Lady in American History. From her first moments on the public stage, she has challenged traditional American notions about what it means to be beautiful, to be strong, to be fashion-conscious, to be healthy, to be First Mom, to be a caretaker and hostess, and to be partner to the most powerful man in the world. What is remarkable is that, at 52, she is just getting started. While many books have looked at Michelle Obama from a fashion perspective, no book has fully explored what she means to our culture. The Meaning of Michelle does just that, while offering a parting gift to a landmark moment in American history. In addition to a tribute to Michelle Obama, this book is also a rollicking, lively dinner party conversation about race, class, marriage, creativity, womanhood and what it means to be American today. Contributors include: Ava DuVernay, Veronica Chambers, Benilde Little, Damon Young, Alicia Hall Moran and…

#AnneReadAlong2017 : Rainbow Valley
#AnneReadAlong2017 , Book Review / December 26, 2017

Title: Rainbow Valley Series: Anne of Green Gables, #7 Author: L. M. Montgomery Genre: Classic Publisher: Starfire Release Date: July 1st, 1985 Format: eBook Pages: 256 Source: Owned First Published: 1919 Anne Shirley is grown up, has married her beloved Gilbert and now is the mother of six mischievous children. These boys and girls discover a special place all their own, but they never dream  of what will happen when the strangest family  moves into an old nearby mansion. The Meredith clan is  two boys and two girls, with minister father but  no mother — and a runaway girl named Mary Vance. Soon the Meredith kids join Anne’s children in their private hideout to carry out their plans to save Mary from the orphanage, to help the lonely minister find happiness, and to keep a pet rooster from the soup pot. There’s always an adventure brewing in the sun-dappled world of Rainbow Valley. (via Goodreads) Goodreads Amazon   As you might have noticed, I’m a bit behind on my #AnneReadAlong2017 reading! Life has a way of changing our free time and priorities sometimes, doesn’t it? In this particular case, while I found Rainbow Valley endearing and adorable, it was a really slow read for me. I found…

Gregor the Overlander
Book Review / December 15, 2017

Title: Gregor the Overlander Series: Underland Chronicles, #1 Author: Suzanne Collins Genre: Adventure Publisher: Scholastic Release Date: May 1st, 2005 Format: Audiobook Pages: 326 Source: Library – OverDrive First Published: 2003 When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it — until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever. (via Goodreads) Goodreads Amazon   I have a weak spot in my heart for middle-grade literature. I love how simple the writing is, how realistic the characters are for their ages, and what wonderful messages they carry. Unfortunately, I find that most middle-grade literature I read is lacking. Part of that, I’m sure, the lack of middle-grade aged children in my life. But, honestly, it’s harder to find solid middle grader literature than children’s,…

November 2017 Month in Review
Month in Review / December 2, 2017

Newsworthy November is always my favorite month of the year. It’s a month filled with football, friends, family, and food. Kurosh is finally starting to become a real pack member. He’s greeting us more warmly and finally listening to us more often than now. We’ve started some dog training, though, and that’s definitely helping with the listening. It’s obvious our dog now thinks of us as his pack instead of some people he’s stuck with. It only took three months! I went home for the full week of Thanksgiving and a TON of wedding stuff got done. We met with basically every vendor we are working with, believe it or not. My aunt also hosted my first bridal shower. It was fun, but a bit overwhelming. So many of my Mom’s friends I don’t really know watching me unwrap gifts! O_o Now we’re on to step two– where I write a hundred thousand thank you cards. Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday of the year. It was great seeing all of my family– if a bit overwhelming with the non-stop activities. Plus Ottavia and I hosted the Thanksgiving Readathon! When I got home I needed a holiday from my holiday….

The Summer That Melted Everything
Book Review / December 1, 2017

Title: The Summer That Melted Everything Author: Tiffany McDaniel Genre: Literary Fiction Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin Release Date: July 4th, 2017 Format: Paperback Pages: 320 Source: From Author First Published: July 26th, 2016 Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil. Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town. When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperature as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestle with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change…

The Hidden Face
Book Review / November 25, 2017

Title: The Hidden Face Series: Fifth Unmasking, #1 Author: S.C. Flynn Genre: Fantasy Publisher: The Hive Release Date: November 25th, 2017 Format: eARC Pages: 350 Source: Author Request A face without a face – an unmasking that leaves the mask. Once every few hundred years the sun god, the Akhen, takes on human form and descends to earth. Each Unmasking of the Face of the Akhen ends one era and begins another; the last one created the Faustian Empire. Where and when will the Face next appear, and who will he – or she – be? Dayraven, son of a great hero, returns to Faustia after years as a hostage of their rivals, the Magians. Those years have changed him, but Faustia has changed as well; the emperor Calvo now seems eccentric and is controlled by one of Dayraven’s old enemies. Following the brutal murder of his old teacher, Dayraven is drawn, together with a female warrior named Sunniva, into the search for an ancient secret that would change the fate of empires. The Hidden Face is an epic fantasy novel drenched in the atmosphere of the early Middle Ages and in Kabbalistic riddles and is the first book in…

Between Shades of Gray
Book Review / November 16, 2017

Title: Between Shades of Gray Author: Ruta Sepetys Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Penguin Audio Release Date: March 22nd, 2011 Format: Audiobook Pages: 344 Source: Owned Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions. Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart. (via Goodreads) Goodreads Amazon…

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