The Orphan Of Awkward Falls | Keith Graves | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Orphan Of Awkward Falls | Keith Graves | Book ReviewThe Orphan Of Awkward Falls by Keith Graves
Published by Chronicle Books on 2011-10-19
Genres: Horror & Ghost Stories, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
three-half-stars
When thirteen-year-old Josephine moves to Awkward Falls she can't help but snoop around the dilapidated mansion next door. Inevitably, she is captured by the house's strange inhabitants: an ancient automaton who serves as a butler, a cat patched together with a few odd parts, and most surprising of all, a boy named Thaddeus Hibble. Meanwhile, Fetid Stenchley the most feared patient in the Asylum for the Dangerously Insane is on the loose after making a dramatic escape, and there is only one thing on his mind...revenge. Unfortunately for Josephine and Thaddeus, he's headed their way. Can these unlikely friends stop Stenchley before it's too late? With a penchant for spooky details, surprising twists, and haunting illustrations, Keith Graves delivers a suspenseful and engaging first novel.

Mad scientists, automatons, and lunatics abound in Keith Graves’ The Orphan Of Awkward Falls, a fun speculative fiction middle grade book. I was totally over the moon to read The Orphan Of Awkward Falls because A) I love books that have orphans in them and B) The Book Smugglers gave it a good review. Hopes were high you guys. Although this book is not making my favorites list any time soon, I did have a good experience reading it. I would not hesitate to recommend that middle school librarians and teachers add this book to their collections, it truly is a fun, bizarre sort of read. [click to continue…]

three-half-stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rome by Jay Crownover | Book ReviewRome by Jay Crownover
Series: Marked Men #3
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-01-07
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
five-stars
Sometimes the wrong choice can be just right . . .

Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed "bad boy" friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won't let herself get burned again. She's waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He's stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he's returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome's used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he's just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray.Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .

I really totally do not regret my binge read of the Marked Men series, I think that it only has enhanced my enjoyment of each book. Rome, Crownover’s third book in the series, showcases the fact that the Marked Men just get better and better with each addition to the series. This is the story of Cora, the receptionist and pierce person (is that the proper term?) at the Marked and Rule’s older brother, Rome. There’s enough drama here to fuel the plot of an episode of Gossip Girl and I ate it all up with a spoon. I know people get all hot and bothered and offended at the term guilty pleasure, but friends, these books are my guilty pleasure. I feel guilty at being sucked away from my TBR pile of obligation and doom and MUST READ NOW to binge read a series that’s not totally my number one priority. It was worth it to me, though. [click to continue…]

five-stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Jet by Jay Crownover | Book ReviewJet by Jay Crownover
Series: Marked Men #2
Published by HarperCollins on 2013-05-28
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
four-stars
With his tight leather pants and a sharp edge that makes him dangerous, Jet Keller is every girl's rock and roll fantasy. But Ayden Cross is done walking on the wild side with bad boys. She doesn't want to give in to the heat she sees in Jet's dark, haunted eyes. She's afraid of getting burned from the sparks of their spontaneous combustion, even as his touch sets her on fire.Jet can't resist the Southern Belle with mile-long legs in cowboy boots who defies his every expectation. Yet the closer he feels to Ayden, the less he seems to know her. While he's tempted to get under her skin and undo her in every way, he knows firsthand what happens to two people with very different ideas about relationships.Will the blaze burn into an enduring love. . . or will it consume their dreams and turn them to ashes?Don't miss the latest bad boy in Jay Crownover's unforgettable New Adult series.

After reading Rule and loving EVERYTHING ABOUT IT, well, almost everything, I wanted to see if my enjoyment of Crownover’s book was a fluke or if I have found a new author for my favorites shelf. I proud to say that Jet, Crownover’s second Marked Men book erased all of my hesitations regarding her books. I mean, let’s be real, I was hesitant about this book because the love interest is described as wearing leather pants ha ha, and that cover just doesn’t do it for me. Then, I started reading Jet and I got totally sucked into Jay Crownover’s world of tattooed men with hearts of gold and the smart, kick ass women who love them. After Jet, I kind of went on a Marked Men bender and I am super sad that I have to wait for Rowdy, because I am ready for MORE. [click to continue…]

four-stars

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan | Audiobook ReviewSuper Mario: How Nintendo Conquered The World by Jeff Ryan
Published by Penguin on 2011-08-04
Genres: Business & Economics, Computers, Corporate & Business History, Games, Programming
Pages: 320
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Buy the BookGoodreads
four-stars
The first princess Mario saved was Nintendo itself.   In 1981, Nintendo of America was a one-year-old business already on the brink of failure. Its president, Mino Arakawa, was stuck with two thousand unsold arcade cabinets for a dud of a game (Radar Scope). So he hatched a plan.   Back in Japan, a boyish, shaggy-haired staff artist named Shigeru Miyamoto designed a new game for the unsold cabinets featur­ing an angry gorilla and a small jumping man. Donkey Kong brought in $180 million in its first year alone and launched the career of a short, chubby plumber named Mario.   Since then, Mario has starred in over two hundred games, gen­erating profits in the billions. He is more recognizable than Mickey Mouse, yet he’s little more than a mustache in bib overalls. How did a mere smear of pixels gain such huge popularity? Super Mario tells the story behind the Nintendo games millions of us grew up with, explaining how a Japanese trading card company rose to dominate the fiercely competitive video-game industry.

Why Did I Listen To This Book?

One of my favorite things to do while I am cleaning or showering or driving about is listening to audiobooks that give me knowledge AND make me feel nostalgic. Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan perfectly blends these two needs, making me feel as though I needed to dig our SNES console out of the storage tub and hook it up beside our XBox 360. Furthermore, I totally wanted to listen to this book because I am shallow and just really love the cover. Friends, that cover makes me happy and fills me with good feelings. [click to continue…]

four-stars

Okay, so as many of you know, I’m a huge Titanic fanatic. I love reading stories about the Titanic, fictional and nonfictional, and putting together the pieces of to me what is a timeless tragedy. And this year originally I was going to once again read a book related to the Titanic, and have a review written up for today but as per usual these days things got in the way. So, I got to thinking, how else could I commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic?

And suddenly inspiration struck me. Or at actually the music I was listening on Spotify struck me. I could do a post about the 1997 movie Titanic. Because not only do I love reading stories about the Titanic, I also enjoy watching them. Especially if it has Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio in it.

Rose and Jack Gif

[click to continue…]

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando | Book ReviewRoomies by Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on 2013-12-24
Genres: Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, New Experience, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
four-stars
It's time to meet your new roomie.When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

I have to say, Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando both takes me back and simultaneously makes me feel old. I think many of us who have gone off to college have been through the whole mysterious roommate tradition – where you are assigned a stranger and you are all nervous for what is to come. I say that I feel old because Roomies makes use of Facebook (one of the characters is not on Facebook) and several other digital means of getting to know your roommate. When I was assigned a roommate, the only people who could sign up for a Facebook account where those with .edu email addresses. Oh yeah, this was way back in the day. I think my letter came with just a phone number and a mailing address. While I never did become best buds with my roommate, in fact, I don’t think I am even Facebook friends with my freshman year roommate, it wasn’t a terrible experience. I actually kind of failed at the whole roommate thing and was probably the most happy when I was living with guys. I mean, I am still friendly with the girls that I lived with by choice sophomore and junior year (and then moved out during twice after some major blowouts because I am a temperamental ass), but yeah this girl is way more suited to her own room and living with males. ANYWAYS, enough about my roommate experiences and more about ROOMIES, which is actually about the summer leading up to college and how the girls have yet to meet in person but interact via email. [click to continue…]

four-stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson | Book ReviewSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2014-05-06
Genres: Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
five-stars
Emily is about to take some risks and have the most unexpected summer ever in this new novel from the bestselling author of Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour.Before Sloane, Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, and she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—someone who yanks you out of your shell. But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list with thirteen bizarre tasks that Emily would never try. But what if they can lead her to Sloane? Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough. Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a stranger? Wait…what? Getting through Sloane’s list will mean a lot of firsts, and with a whole summer ahead of her—and with the unexpected help of the handsome Frank Porter—who knows what she’ll find. Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

In a well ordered universe, you would read Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. I am pretty solid in my belief that Morgan Matson has written THE contemporary young adult book of the summer. I mean, if you want something a bit lighter than We Were Liars. Full disclosure, I am head over heels in love with this book and that is totally going to color my review. Readers who loved Amy and Roger from Matson’s debut are going to love her characters from Since You’ve Been Gone. This is a book that made me smile, made me sad, and made me want to hand it out to all of my young adult reader friends. This is one of the most fantastic books I have read in a long, long time. [click to continue…]

five-stars

Stacking The Shelves (55)

Wow, this last week went by so fast! I guess that’s what happens when your day is super busy! First off, I am almost done with the Couch To 5K app program. I have two more workouts left and I will have completed it. It amazes me how far I have come, as far as working out goes.I am also down to like 114 lbs which is 4 pounds away from my target weight. I realize that’s not like a huge deal or anything, but for me personally I am really, really proud of how hard I have worked to get into shape. Also! I made a pile of 40 books to read by BEA on Saturday and now I am more than halfway through book three. Yay goals!

For Review:

The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher (Unsolicited) – I do need to try more sci-fi and learn to enjoy that genre.
The Secret Hum Of A Daisy by Tracy Holczer (Unsolicited) – I have legitimately heard nothing about this book but it looks like such an affecting contemporary!
Random by Tom Leveen (Unsolicited) – Another contemporary, this one looks serious too. Also, the cover is one of my favorites.
The Book Of David by Anonymous (Unsolicited) –  Meh. It’s from the same collection as that Go Ask Alice book which is like the worst.
Catch A Falling Star by Kim Culbertson (Unsolicited) – Love this cover!
Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley (Unsolicited) – Looking forward to this one, actually.
Prisoner Of Night And Fog by Anne Blankman (Unsolicited) – This is one gorgeous finished copy.
Learning Not To Drown by Anna Shinoda (Unsolicited) – This looks like an interesting contemporary book.
Call Me By My Name by John Ed Bradley (Unsolicited) – Yay football!
Strange And Ever After by Susan Dennard (Unsolicited) – Seriously I need to finish this series.

Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Defy The Dark | Edited By Saundra Mitchell | Book ReviewDefy The Dark Published by HarperCollins on 2013-06-18
Genres: Adolescence, Love & Romance, Short Stories, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy the BookGoodreads
three-half-stars
The seventeen original stories in Defy the Dark, an eerie, mind-bending YA anthology, could only take place in darkness. Open the pages and discover: A creepy guy who stares too long. The secrets of the core of the earth. Dreams of other people’s lives. A girl who goes mad in the darkness. Monsters in Bavaria. A generational spaceship where night doesn’t exist. And other mysteries and oddities. The contributors to the enthralling collection are: Sarah Rees Brennan, Tessa Gratton, Rachel Hawkins, Christine Johnson, Valerie Kemp, Malinda Lo, Myra McEntire, Saundra Mitchell, Sarah Ockler, Jackson Pearce, Aprilynne Pike, Dia Reeves, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan, Jon Skovron, Courtney Summers, and Kate Espy, winner of the Defy the Dark new author contest.

I kind of love reviewing short story anthologies because to me, they are easy to review. I just pop up the name of each story, summarize it and give a little paragraph of my opinion for each story. That’s not terribly hard and the review basically writes itself. I pulled Defy The Dark edited by Saundra Mitchell off my pile because it was the last ARC I had that was a short story anthology. Friends, this anthology took me a really long time to read. First off, there are a TON of stories in it. Second off, the stories are kind of uneven, as with all anthologies. Some stories are fantastic, some are kind of really BLAH. The premise of this anthology is basically kisses in the dark and it goes from there.

[click to continue…]

three-half-stars

Saturday Schoolyard
Saturday Schoolyard is a meme where I review books that were first introduced to me during my younger schooldays.
The name for the meme comes from the elementary school weekend activity where April and I first met and became friends.

——

I vaguely recall the first time I read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. More specifically, I recall when it was being read to me. It was in the first grade, and it was by our student teacher at the time. I remember how every day, at the same time, my classmates and I would gather around in a cluster circle for our teacher to sit in front of us and read the book of the month. And while I don’t remember some of the other books that we were read, I do remember Charlotte’s Web, and that is one of the many reasons I choose to re-read it for Saturday Schoolyard.

Charlotte's Web Cover

For those who have never read Charlotte’s Web before or who may not remember, it is the story of how a little girl named Fern helps save a pig named Wilber from being slaughtered with a little help from a spider named Charlotte. It is the story of friendship, of learning to deal with hardships, and of learning to watch for the magic in the most simplistic of things. It is not just a children’s story because it is a story that can be enjoyed by any age, and that can still teach some valuable lessons even to the oldest of old.

What I love most about Charlotte’s Web is the creative storytelling. On the surface, you have a girl, a pig, and a spider. Already there is an unusual set up which is captivating for an audience and that helps keep things interesting. As a reader, I’m always excited to see what happens to each of the characters, and what kinds of different adventures they find themselves in. Watching their friendships grow and develop is one of my favorite parts of the story. The lessons which are intertwined within the pages about friendship and looking beyond the surface of things have always seemed important to me even as a young age. And for such a short story, E.B. White sure knows how to pack it full!

Speaking of packing it full, one of the way in which E.B. White does this is with his words. He has such a way with her words that they pull at the emotional core of a situation. One of my favorite quotes from the book has always been:

“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

Charlotte's Web Gif

I truly believe that friendships can transform lives. Friends have a way of becoming a second family, or in some circumstances, the only family you need. They weave their way around your heart, go through adventures with you, and help you when you are down. They become your shoulder to cry on, your reason to smile and in many cases the reason you survive in this crazy rollercoaster called life. That is what Charlotte became to Wilber and it is one of the many reasons why their friendship and their story have really stood the test of time.

Have you read Charlotte’s Web? What are your thoughts about it?
Feel free to drop me a line in the comments!

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