Building Better Book Clubs: An Insider Glance
Building Better Book Clubs / January 12, 2018

          is a series of posts focused on all things book club related: discussions, listicles, how to’s and more! I started this feature because I love book clubs. I adore them. I think they are an incredible way to connect with people, enrich our lives, and… well, you can read the other reasons here. People have asked about my own book clubs many times over the course of the past year. I reference them often. Not only because I am passionate about them, but because they consume quite a bit of my reading. People have asked about how many I participate in, what types of book clubs they are, and why I love them. In this post, I’m going to give you a glimpse into the book club world I live in. I hope that this will provide you some opportunity to reflect on all the book club options in your world.   This book group began hosted by the library closest to where I live. We met once a month at a local coffee shop where a librarian would lead us through a book discussion. The book group was intended for those in their 20s and…

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,…

Peter and Wendy
Book Review / October 31, 2016

Title: Peter and Wendy Series: Peter Pan, #3 Author: J. M. Barrie Genre: Fairy Tale Publisher: Kindle Release Date: May 11th, 2012 Format: eBook Pages: 166 Source: Owned First Published: 1911 One magical night, the Darling children­­––Wendy, John, and Michael––are visited by two mischievous denizens of Neverland, an island of the imagination where pirates prowl the Mermaids’ Lagoon and fairies live so long as children believe in them. Peter Pan and his loyal, lightning-quick companion, Tinker Bell, have come for Peter’s shadow, captured the previous night by Nana, the children’s Newfoundland nanny. The pair leaves not just with the shadow, but with Wendy and her brothers, as well, whisking them away to Neverland to join the Lost Boys in their war against the evil Captain Hook. J. M. Barrie created the character of Peter Pan to entertain a young family he regularly met in Kensington Gardens. Over the course of two novels and a play, he turned a whimsical idea into one of the most cherished literary characters of all time. (via Goodreads) Amazon   We all know the story of Peter Pan. He’s the Boy-Who-Never-Grew-Up. He is as cocky as a rooster, and crows just the same. He flies,…

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
Book Review / October 10, 2016

Title: The Woman Who Rides Like a Man Series: Song of the Lioness, #3 Author: Tamora Pierce Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Simon Pulse Release Date: January 6th, 2005 Format: eBook Pages: 284 Source: Owned First Published: 1986 “Let her prove herself worthy as a man.” Newly knighted, Alanna of Trebond seeks adventure in the vast desert of Tortall. Captured by fierce desert dwellers, she is forced to prove herself in a duel to the death — either she will be killed or she will be inducted into the tribe. Although she triumphs, dire challenges lie ahead. As her mythic fate would have it, Alanna soon becomes the tribe’s first female shaman — despite the desert dwellers’ grave fear of the foreign woman warrior. Alanna must fight to change the ancient tribal customs of the desert tribes — for their sake and for the sake of all Tortall. Alanna’s journey continues… (Via Goodreads) Amazon   (This post will feature covers from the different publications of this book. Most of them are terrible. You have been warned.) (…Also, that’s why I picked them. NEVER judge a book by its cover. …But it’s okay to laugh at them.) The third book in the Song…

In the Hand of the Goddess
Book Review / September 18, 2016

Title: In the Hand of the Goddess Series: Song of the Lioness, #2 Author: Tamora Pierce Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers Release Date: April 19th, 2011 Format: eBook Pages: 252 Source: Owned First Published: 1984 From Tamora Pierce, the second book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Alanna, disguised as a boy, becomes a squire to none other than the heir to the throne. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna’s liege lord, he is also her best friend – and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a vicious sorcerer threatens the prince’s life, it will take all of Alanna’s skill, strength, and magical power to protect him, even at the risk of surrendering her dreams.  (via Goodreads) Amazon   Right from the start, we know that In the Hand of the Goddess will be a more intense book that its predecessor, Alanna: The First Adventure. Opening with Alanna meeting the Goddess herself, Alanna is told she must address her three greatest fears if she is to succeed. That’s right, unlike most fantasy novels, being the Chosen of a goddess doesn’t make…

Alanna: The First Adventure
Book Review / August 23, 2016

Title: Alanna: The First Adventure Series: Song of the Lioness, #1 Author: Tamora Pierce Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Simon Pulse Release Date: January 1st, 2005 Format: Hardback Pages: 216 Source: Owned First Published: 1983 From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight. And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. (via Goodreads) Amazon   Recently, I read Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce. It was time to return to a favorite author of my childhood. Reading that book only reminded me that I adore Tamora Pierce. As a child, I read The Song of…

The Diviners
Book Review / June 26, 2016

Title: The Diviners Series: The Diviners, #1 Author: Libba Bray Genre: Paranormal Fiction Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers Release Date: September 18th, 2012 Format: eBook Pages: 578 Source: Owned Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened. (via Goodreads) Amazon   I…

Out of the Dust
Book Review / May 27, 2016

Title: Out of the Dust Author: Karen Hesse Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Release Date: January 1st, 1997 Format: Paperback Pages: 256 Source: Owned When Billie Jo is just fourteen she must endure heart-wrenching ordeals that no child should have to face. The quiet strength she displays while dealing with unspeakable loss is as surprising as it is inspiring. Written in free verse, this award-winning story is set in the heart of the Great Depression. It chronicles Oklahoma’s staggering dust storms, and the environmental–and emotional–turmoil they leave in their path. An unforgettable tribute to hope and inner strength. (via Goodreads) Amazon     As to be expected for a story set during the dust bowl in Oklahoma during the Great Depression this story is dark and dreary. Even bordering on a gruesome quality that, thankfully, the verse distracts us from. However, this is also a story of hope and human connection, making it also beautiful and heart wrenching. Out of the Dust is a 1998 Newbery Medal-winning book written as a journal. Billie Jo is our narrator and she begins her entries in 1934. However, unlike most epistolary novels, narrative poetry is used to tell the story instead of…

The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Book Review / February 22, 2016

Title: The Perks of Being A Wallflower Author: Stephen Chobsky Genre: Coming of Age Publisher: MTV Books and Pocket Books Release Date: February 1st, 1999 Format: Paperback Pages: 213 Source: Library Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up. (via Goodreads) Amazon   The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the quintessential…

Mara Daughter of the Nile
Book Review / January 28, 2016

Title: Mara, Daughter of the Nile Author: Eloise Jarvis McGraw Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Puffin Books Release Date: Unknown day 1953 Format: Paperback Pages: 279 Source: Owned Mara is a proud and beautiful slave girl who yearns for freedom. In order to gain it, she finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies – each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt. Against her will, Mara finds herself falling in love with one of her masters, the noble Sheftu, and she starts to believe in his plans of restoring Thutmose III to the throne. But just when Mara is ready to offer Sheftu her help and her heart, her duplicity is discovered, and a battle ensues in which both Mara’s life and the fate of Egypt are at stake. (via Goodreads) Amazon   Let’s hear it for strong female protagonists found in books published in 1953! Mara is a suspiciously well-educated, intelligent, crafty, and (obviously)painfully beautiful slave. She yearns for adventure and freedom.Her command of both the Egyptian and Babylonian languages lands her on an adventure away from traditional enslavement, and out into the royal city of Thebes where she acts as…

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