Monday, June 30, 2014

Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan

The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life

This will be a short review of her memoir. I needed a nonfiction read for Book Bingo and I have wanted to read an Amy Tan book for awhile now. I loved the Joy Luck Club movie and used to watch it all the time when I was a teen. When I saw this short story/essay collection and read that it was her memoir, I had to try it. She calls it her book of musings.  I enjoyed how she put together the short stories and even though the timeline jumps around a bit, it still seemed really cohesive. She has a beautiful writing style which draws you in and to me it was also a calming read that I could read right before bed. She covers everything from the relationship with her mom to her many losses in life and she also talks about writing in general and what it was like to help with the Joy Luck Club movie. This was written about 10 years ago, so it does not discuss her most recent work.

Favorite Quote: I really enjoyed the whole book and there were several phrases that were beautiful and introspective. "In the hands of a different reader, the same story can be a different story." This was from her section on the best stories and was my favorite of the book.

Overall, it was a nice insight to her life and work and makes me want to pick up her novels! 5 cups of cocoa!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yearlong Challenges Update

Since the year is now a little over half over, I thought I should check in with some of my yearlong challenges. I am doing okay in a few and I really need to catch up in some others.

I have read 2 classic books out of 6. I finished Animal Farm and Their Eyes Were Watching God. I am actually where I thought I would be at this time with this challenge. I hope to start Emma soon!

Smiling Shelves

I have read two for this challenge, Flora and Ulysses and Shen of the Sea, but I still need to review the second one. I am rereading A Wrinkle in Time with the Teen Book Club, so I will be counting it toward this challenge.

I have finished 7 for this challenge! I only need one more reread to reach my goal, but I think I will actually end up surpassing my goal with this one.


I have read 2 of 10 for these two challenges, so this is clearly where I need to work. I have several e-galleys that are patiently waiting on my Kindle, so hopefully I can catch up here soon!

I have read 5 out of 10, so I am exactly where I need to be with this challenge. I have a few in the middle books on my reading stack now, so hopefully I can finish two by the end of next month.

2014 Fairy Tales Retold Challenge

I have read 2 out of 7 for this challenge. This really surprises me, because I usually read lots of fairytale retellings and I feel behind in this challenge. I have 3 on my reading stack now, so hopefully I catch up soon!

I bumped this challenge up to 3 pairs because I finished so early last year and this year I haven't finished a pair yet! I have all my pairs picked out but have yet to start them. I must conquer this soon.

  Kristin Hannah Reading Challenge

I am only reading one or two books for these two challenges, but I haven't started either one yet. I think I know what I want to read for each one, I just need to check them out from the library.

I have finished The Calling and just have The Rising left to go to finish this challenge.

I forgot the April check in with this one, but I hope to do the July 1 check in. I am progressing okay with this one and will have a longer post on this soon.

I think that covers all of them except Book Bingo and an in depth Seriously Series. Both those post will be coming soon! Thanks to all the great hosts of these challenges!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

COYER Summer Vacation Signup


This is the first time I have signed up for a COYER challenge! You can sign up at this link. I really need to finish some books, so I thought this would be the perfect for helping me to read more. They have twitter parties and read-a-thons. The rules are pretty much to read whatever, although read-a-thons are geared to set themes. Here is my reading list so far for Summer Vacation:

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie
The Silkworm by JK Rowling
The Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady Cross
The Rising by Kelley Armstrong
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
Earthquake by Aprilynne Pike

If I Should Die by Amy Plum
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I may add a few to fit the read-a-thons as needed. I would like to finish 10 books for this challenge and get back on track with my reading. Thanks to Berls and Michelle for hosting!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wrapups for Spring Challenges

Well this is how I did on my two spring challenges:

This is hosted by Gina at Book Dragon's Lair. Goal: 10 books by June 20.
1. Snow by Tracy Lynn-finished and reviewed
2. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge-finished and reviewed
3. Perfect Lies by Kiersten White- finished and reviewed
4. The Calling by Kelley Armstrong-finished and reviewed
5. Flora and Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo-finished and reviewed
These were my original five.
6. Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep- finished and reviewed
7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer-currently reading
8. Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan-currently reading
9. Goose Girl by Shannon Hale-currently reading
10. If I Should Die by Amy Plum-currently reading

Well I did finish my original 5 and a 6th book and reviewed them, but I did not finish 10 books. I am so close on two of these to being done, but I am happy that I finished 6. Thanks to Gina for hosting!


The Once Upon A Time Reading Challenge is hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.
I signed up for Quest the First with a 5 book goal
1. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge finished and reviewed
2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer currently reading
3. Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep  finished and reviewed
4. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale currently reading
5. The Calling by Kelley Armstrong finished and reviewed
I did finish 3 of the 5, but just couldn't finish the last two yet.

I also signed up for Quest on Screen.
I was hoping to watch all of season one of Once Upon a Time, Frozen, and Brave and I have only watched Frozen.  I loved Frozen and Elsa and the beautiful music! I did buy the first season of OUoT and hopefully I can watch it and Brave before the year is up. Thanks to Carl for hosting!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Library Books Read-a-thon Wrap-up

Library Books Read-a-thon Sign Up

I managed to finish the three library book reviews I needed to write, so that was a major achievement for me! I only finished one audiobook and I read/listened to 441 pages, so I was only about 59 pages shy of my 500 pages goal. I will take that though, since I am reading/listening slowly now. Thanks to Rachael for hosting!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

The Calling is the second book in the Darkness Rising trilogy and this review will have spoilers for the first book.

The Calling (Darkness Rising, #2)

As they are escaping the forest fire, Maya, Daniel, and Rafe realize the pilot has drugged the mayor, the only other adult on the helicopter. As they fight for control of the helicopter, Rafe is thrown from it and the helicopter crashes, killing both the pilot and the mayor. The rest of the passengers escape with minor injuries and Maya has to decide the story to tell them when all she wants to do is mourn Rafe. They let the survivors know that there are people out to get them, but even Maya and Daniel do not realize completely the group's intentions. As they flee and some are captured, Maya and Daniel, by spying, learn that there is more than one group of people out to capture them and that all of the teens are supernaturals in someway, whether shapeshifter, demon hunter, or as yet discovered by the group. As they learn more about their own Project Phoenix, they learn about another project, Project Genesis, that had failed results. When betrayals abound, it may be up to Maya and Daniel to find out the truth behind the two projects in a way that unites with Armstrong's other series.

This one is hard to review without giving too much away. Most of the book takes place in the woods as the children are fleeing and the last 60 pages have most of the action and reveals. I can't wait to see how the third book deals with both the Darkest Powers and the Darkness Rising characters! I thought this one had more action and information than the first book in the series and I liked it better. Armstrong always manages to make her books a quick read with the perfect amount of pacing and suspense.

Favorite Character: Maya. Maya is stong, maybe a bit naive at times, but she holds true to what she thinks and acknowledges her own faults.

Favorite Quote: "Strong emotion is better than indifference."

Nice bridge book and she did a great job filling in all the necessary details. The third book should be pretty exciting! 4 cups of cocoa!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Perfect Lies is the sequel to Mind Games, so this review will have spoilers for Mind Games. I received this as an eARC from the publisher, HarperTeen,  in exchange for an honest review.

Perfect Lies (Mind Games, #2)

Fia believes she did the right thing by pretending to kill her sister Annie. Fia completely trusts James and his plan to destroy the Keane Foundation and free all the special girls from the program. Annie feels betrayed by her sister, who left her with Adam, one of the guys with a crush on Fia, and the Lerner Group. Annie keeps trying to have visions about Fia, since she is the only one who can and what she sees is devastating. Fia does not seem to be destroying Keane, but actually finding special girls with the abilities to see the future and read minds and with her perfect instincts, Fia knows how to safely bring them into the Foundation. Annie decides to work with Lerner to stop Fia, but when she sees a vision of Fia's death, can she save her sister and herself from a horrible fate.

White has created another fast-paced suspenseful masterpiece. It felt like I held my breath for the last 40 pages until the surprise ending. Her writing just keeps getting better and her characters are perfectly flawed. You want to hate Fia at times and at other times you just want to protect her. I loved seeing more of Annie in this one and I felt like she was fleshed out better in the second book. The love interests are intriguing although I still can't stand James.

Favorite Character: I love Annie and Fia! They will do anything to save each other and even when they are past the point of saving, they still try to salvage what is left. Annie, in particular, grew on me with this book. She showed she is just as strong and fierce as her sister.

Favorite Quote: "We all want things we shouldn't have. Even you. Just because you love him doesn't mean you should. Love is a choice, like anything else."

Perfect ending to a great ride and one of my favorite reads this year! Can't wait until she releases a new one! 5 cups of cocoa!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Library Books Read-a-thon Day 5, 6, and 7 Update

Library Books Read-a-thon Sign Up

Day 5: Finished the last CD of The Enchantress. The end was just as bittersweet as I remembered it! I did manage to read 15 pages in If I Should Die.

Day 6: No reading. :( It was a busy day with family and friends, which was nice. :) Tomorrow will be busy too, but maybe I can get a little reading in.

Day 7:Opposite of Fate- 40 pages, If I Should Die- 37 pages, so not bad. It was Father's Day, so I spent part of the day with family, but managed to squeeze in about an hour and a half of reading.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Library Books Read-a-thon Day 4 update

Library Books Read-a-thon Sign Up

Rachael talked about ILL or interlibrary loan today and how that has enabled her to read books that her small branch does not directly own. ILL got me through my first two degrees and made it possible for me to write about topics that were not just local history. I was able through my college libraries to get manuscripts and dissertations that were only available from one library or university and for very low cost! With the library in the town I live in Indiana, they have Evergreen and I can easily request a book online from most libraries in the state. Like Rachael's library, the books have to be at least 6 months old, but most of what I want are older books. At my work library, it only cost $1 to get an ILL loan and this helps to pay courier and mailing costs. There are very few books we cannot get, most of the ones we can't are books that are unique and only one copy exists. It is a great service!

Day 4 update: I almost finished another CD in The Enchantress, I think I have like a track left. After that I only have 1 CD and I will have finished it! I have been reading in If I Should Die, so I hope to make a little more progress there. I read 30 pages, so not bad for me!

Once Upon A Midnight Eerie by Gordon McAlpine

I received this as an e-ARC from the publisher Viking Juvenile in exchange for an honest review. This review will have spoilers for the first book in the series. I loved the first book in this series and often booktalk it for upper elementary and lower middle school students, so I was excited to read the second one.

Edgar and Allan Poe survived the attempt on one of their lives by the nefarious Professor Perry, who wanted to use the twins to learn about the afterlife. The two are ready to settle back into a normal routine, but are asked to be in a movie about their famous ancestor Edgar Allan Poe. They will play young Poe in the movie alongside the Dickinson twins, relatives of the famous Emily Dickinson, who will play Annabel Lee. What should be a fun time filming turns into a danger for the twins, since Professor Perry's relatives want to hurt the Professor's research by killing both twins. Meanwhile Edgar Allan Poe continues to try to send warnings from beyond the grave to his great-great-great, etc. grandnephews and meets the Dickinson's great-great-great, etc. Aunt Emily. Despite a possible demotion, Edgar Allan Poe sends warnings and is helped a little by Emily. The twins also make friends with a pair of ghosts and vow to help them move on by identifying the murder of the ghosts, a famous pirate. Can the twins with the help of their new friends survive Perry's relatives and bring the murder to justice? Perhaps with the help of their cat Roderick Usher!

I love the mix of history, literature, and humor that McAlpine uses to bring the twins to life. Edgar and Allan are precocious and meet their match in the Dickinson twins. The intelligence and clever wordplay of the plot make this perfect for 5th grade readers looking for a little more. From the end of the story it appears there will be more books, which is exciting, since this one was even better than the first.

5 cups of cocoa for this one and this is definitely a series I will continue to booktalk!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Library Books Read-a-thon Day 2 and 3 update

Library Books Read-a-thon Sign Up

I thought it was neat that Rachael posted her library story yesterday. My love of the library started very young like hers. We had the bookmobile that would go to our school and we took turns choosing books for our classes. Our school library was a small Catholic school, so it was always nice to have books for the public library. I was probably around 8 or 9 before I started going to the public library and my dad would take me there as a special treat. (Thankfully, they still stamped books and did not charge fines, because I am sure my books were always late!) In high school I volunteered every summer and racked up about 100 volunteer hours each summer! I was hired as a weekend librarian the summer before I started college and worked there through my sophomore year. Before long, college work demanded more of my time, but I did work all 4 years of my undergraduate time in the Brescia University library. I spent two years at Purdue using the library there to find books and ILL( interlibrary loan) books so that I could get my Masters in American history. My love of my hometown library eventually drew me back there, where I worked a year as a circulation clerk and for the last 7 years I have worked as the Children's and Teen librarian. Two years ago they also added on the title of Assistant Director and I am in charge of almost all the ordering of books, audios, and DVDs (one lady orders Large Print, but I do the rest). It is a fun and challenging job, especially during summer reading, but it is a great way to give back to the community that raised me and a way to inspire current and future readers.

Day 2 update: Speaking of summer reading, we broke open rocks today to find dinosaur fossils and then made Kool-aid explosions! It was super fun and messy and we will be doing round two tomorrow.
On the reading front...well it went a little better. Another CD of The Enchantress was finished and I also read a little in If I Should Die (8 pages)  and the Opposite of Fate (11 pages).

Day 3 update: After two groups of fossil hunters and Kool-aid exploders, I am exhausted. I did finish another CD of The Enchantress, and we will see if I read any tonight. I read about 3 pages in If I Should Die, so not much.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Library Books Read-a-thon Day 1 update

Library Books Read-a-thon Sign Up

Summer reading wore me out. I had 4 programs and we had around 300 people in the library on top of program attendees, so it was hopping. This is a good thing, but then I just want to crash when I get home and not read at all. I did manage to listen to one CD of The Enchantress, so that is something. Tuesday is summer school visits, preschool visit, and an all ages group, in which we are finding dinosaur fossils and making volcanoes explode! Wish me luck!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Library Books Read-a-thon goals and reading list

Library Books Read-a-thon Sign Up

Here are Rachael's details for the read-a-thon:

"The goal of this read-a-thon is to read as many library books as possible. If you are like me you always have books that are close to due that need to be done and fast so this read-a-thon is a great time to get those books done and get them back to the library.

I'm not going to be picky. If you want to read your own books go ahead. I just love read-a-thons so I would love anybody who could join. 
This Read-A-Thon will start at midnight on June 9th and will go until midnight of the 16th."

I am going to try to read at least 500 pages, but since this is one of the busiest weeks of summer reading, I am not expecting to hit that goal. I would also like to review the three library books I have finished and need to return. I have quite a bit checked out at the moment, but I am going to focus on these:

Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
If I Should Die by Amy Plum
The Good Girl by Shannon Hale (audio)
Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie
The Enchantress by Michael Scott (audio)

Hopefully I can finish at least one of these this week! Thanks to Rachael for hosting!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Random Read: Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie

Random Reads

This is a meme hosted by Sarah at You can choose to use Goodreads or create your own list or use your bookshelves.  The idea is to use and type in the number of books on your list. Whatever number you receive is your random read for the month. I decided to do something different this month. Instead of using my Kindle, I used the books I have checked out from the library that I haven't started yet. I will be participating in Rachael's Library Books Read-a-thon, so I thought maybe combining the two will help me actually finish a RR. I am still two months behind! I had 17 books checked out and my random number was 11, which is....Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie. This is part of the Once Upon a Time series and is a retelling of the Princess and the Pea. I love this series, so I think I can finish this one this month. This will also work for the Debz' Fairytales Retold Challenge and possibly the Classic Double Challenge, if I can find the original fairytale.

Violet Eyes (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)
Simon Pulse