TTT: October TBR

Once again the lovely folks at The Broke and The Bookish bring us Top Ten Tuesday.  This week the theme is October To Be Read (TBR). I’m definitely not planning on 10 books this month, but I am heading on vacation at the end of the month (to sunny Sint Maarten) so it’s possible that all that travel time will let me sneak in an extra book or two.

To start with this month, my goal is to finish up the books I’ve already started reading. I’m one of those annoying readers who can be reading multiple books at once. I try to stay true but sometimes I’m not in the mood for my current read and I end up switching. Here’s what I’m working on finishing:

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman – I’m loving this, but it’s not quite a light hearted read so I’ve been having trouble having the mental space to give to this. But I will finish it because it’s fantastic and Stars is currently filming a tv version with the delightful Ricky Whittle starring as Shadow. I can’t wait to watch but I want to have read the book first. And they’re filming in Toronto, which makes me wish I lived closer so I could accidently run into Mr. Whittle (ahem, stalk).:)
  2. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – Again, I’m loving this. I’ve listened to the first two seasons of her podcast (Magic Lessons hosted by Maximum Fun, available on iTunes…worth listening to) and loved them. While I’m not a writer or poet or dancer I see creativity in so many other ways and I know I need creative outlets, even if it’s just baking a batch of brownies, to keep my soul happy.  Her message about living creatively and finding those outlets, without needing to pursue it as your job is the kind of inspiration I’ve been looking for lately and is really resonating with me. I’ve got this book earmarked as a Christmas present for a couple of people.
  3. The Transatlantic Conspiracy by G. D. Falksen – I started this and got sidetracked because I had to finish another book for a blog tour. Apparently Falksen has written a bunch of stuff. This book showed us as an unrequested review copy but the steampunk theme appeals and I’m looking forward to finishing it.
  4. The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaRue – I only paged through the first chapter but I want to finish this middle grade book quickly so I can review and pass it along to my nephew. I’m hoping it will work out as something he’d enjoy.

And as always my TBR is close to toppling over.  If I can finish the above books, I’m also hoping to get to:

  1. Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb – I love the In Death series and this is the next one for me. I’m planning to save this for the beach where a good murder mystery and hot irish man are always appreciated.
  2. The Collector by Nora Roberts – Again, I’m a fan (and yes, she’s also JD Robb) and I haven’t read this one yet. It’s another vacation read for me.
  3. Every Move by Ellie Marney – this is the last book (currently, I’m hoping for more!) in her Sherlock inspired series. I loved the first two and can’t wait to read this one. Based on reviews the series gets better with each book.

That’s only 7 books, but as I said, I’d be surprised to hit 10 this month, even with vacation time thrown in. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be buying Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. It sounds fantastic and totally worth breaking my book buying ban for!
What’s on your October TBR?

 

Fanfiction Friday

So, in addition to reading books I also enjoy reading fanfiction.  There is some amazing stuff out there. And some horrible stuff, but it’s easy to just click back out when you don’t like it. I love seeing where authors take the characters. Sometimes you get non-cannon pairings, alternate universes, or just a different twist on the book/show. This is my infrequent attempt to showcase some of the stories I’ve read that I loved.

This week I’m sharing with you Why Don’t We Break The Rules, Already? by LayALioness.

Fandom:  The 100 (TV)
Relationship:  Bellamy Blake/Clarke Griffin
Tags: Alternate Universe – Harry Potter Setting
Words:  83536 words (!!!) split into 2 chapters.
Rating: Mature

Summary:
The next morning, Clarke hexed Bellamy so his hands kept dripping blue ink everywhere, smearing it on everything that he touched, like a leaky pen. She’d nearly forgotten about it by the afternoon, but then suddenly someone was grabbing hold of her feet, and Clarke glanced down, shocked, to find Bellamy smearing his leaky blue hands all over her nice white sneakers.

“What are you doing?” she asked, unable to look away as he ruined her shoes. They hadn’t actually touched each other since that first day, when she’d shoved him. She couldn’t believe he was resorting to–Muggle tactics!

“Just practicing some art,” he grinned cheerily up at her, and then strode away as if nothing had just happened. He was whistling.

It took her another hour to realize that he’d charmed her shoes to be glued to her feet, so she had to wear them to the shower, and even to bed. The spell had worn off by the morning, but the blue was still there, dried in a pattern that sort of resembled ivy vines one way and bird feathers the next. Clarke decided she liked the way they looked, and would keep them.

A Marauders AU

I loved this! I’m not even sure I’m capable of reviewing it, but it’s a fantastic blending of The 100 and Harry Potter. Set at Hogwarts, it’s not a retelling of HP, but a unique story that pulls elements of both HP and The 100 into a compelling story. If you’re familiar with either of these (although it’s well done enough that I think you could read without being in either fandom) you’ll know that there’s a lot of death as part of the cannon story. And chapter 2 of this story definitely reflects that. There were parts that I was reading through the tears. The story takes us from before Clarke starts at Hogwarts through past graduation. Chapter 1 is definitely more light hearted with a bunch of Bellamy/Clarke hijinks. And some of the deeper themes that show up a bit farther into the story with the issues between “purebloods” and “muggle-borns” although cannon to the HP universe also cut a little close to home. There’s some beautiful writing. I loved this line:

But the thing about fears is that they don’t always listen. Sometimes when you tell them to leave, they stay, and sometimes when you tell them they’re wrong, they make you think they’re right. Sometimes even when you know they’re silly, they don’t feel silly at all.

And the use of some of the minor characters from The 100 and the locations, magic and world from HP is spot on and fantastic. This is a long story and well worth the read!

 

Top Ten Podcasts

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks theme is “All About Audio freebie” and since I don’t listen to as many audio books as I like I’ve decided to share my favourite podcasts with you. I love listening to podcasts while I walk the dog, do chores around the house, or when I’ve got longer distances to drive.  I tend towards educational podcasts but there are so many great options out there! All of these are available to download for free on iTunes. Here’s my Top 8 list (I don’t have 10 that I listen to regularly enough to recommend):

  1. Stuff You Missed in History Class – from the How Stuff Works family this 30 minute podcast covers events, people, and all things historical.
  2. Sawbones – this focuses on medical history hosted by a husband and wife team. Sometimes gross, often funny, it’s always great.
  3. Magic Lessons – hosted by Eat, Pray, Love author Liz Gilbert each week she explores some aspect of creativity and helps people get back on their creative paths. I’m new to this, but I love the inspiration I feel listening.
  4. Nerdonomy: Nerds on History – another history podcast, this one tends to run a bit longer (usually over an hour) and while I’m still catching up on the back list, covers a wide range of historical topics with lots of humour thrown in.
  5. Manager Tools – if you manage people, or want to manage people, this podcast is for you. It’s full of actionable advice to help you be the best manager you can be. You definitely want to hit up the archives…there is so much good stuff here!
  6. Career Tools – by the same folks as Manager Tools this is aimed at helping you build your career. There’s lots of good actionable advice on job hunter, interviews and what to do in various workplace situations. Again, a search of the archives is a must.
  7. Stuff Mom Never Told You – again from the How Stuff Works family SMNTY deals with all sorts of issues. With a main focus on women’s issues they bring all sorts of info on a wide range of topics.
  8. Serial – following the story of one man who was sentenced to prison for a crime he claims he didn’t commit, this is an interesting piece of investigative journalism.

What am I missing? I’m always looking for new ideas.  I find This American Life to be hit or miss for me…I prefer stuff that’s a bit more upbeat, and the last few I’ve listened to have tackled some pretty heave subject matter. Share your recommendations!!

 

 

Review – Lock & Mori

lock-mori

Title: Lock & Mori
Author: Heather Petty
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: September 15, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Retelling

Find it: Goodreads / Amazon / Kobo

My rating: 4/5

Summary:

In modern-day London, two brilliant high school students—one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James “Mori” Moriarty—meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.

Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more…

FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. The police have no leads.

FACT: Miss James “Mori” Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.

FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.

FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule—they must share every clue with each other—Mori is keeping secrets.

OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can’t trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

My Thoughts:

I loved this Sherlock inspired story. It’s told from the point of view of Mori…Miss James Moriarty. I loved seeing a female Moriarty.  Mori has had a really hard past 6 months. Her mother passed away, her father has changed, and not for the better. She spends a lot of time caring for her younger brothers and appears to have withdrawn from a lot of her social life.

She and Sherlock team up to solve the mystery of a man murdered in the local park. And in doing so tumble into something bigger and much closer to home for Mori. Sherlock has a lot of the typical tendencies we see…deducing things based on the evidence he sees, poor social skills, etc. It’s a fun portrayal of him as a modern day teenager. Knowing that cannon Moriarty is Sherlock’s nemesis it felt a bit off at first as they become friends. But it’s cool to see them working together. And we’re left with glimpses of where that friendship may start to unravel leading to an eventual falling out. Mori has some darkness in her and I’m hoping that Sherlock will be able to temper that for her in future installments. For me it reads as pre-psychotic Moriarty. Whether we’ll get there is hard to say (I’m on the fence…there’s a lot of fun in a female Moriarty).

I had some issues.  It was hard to get past the very obvious names without any more of a reference to it than “it’s a family name”. It feels like the Sherlock Holmes books aren’t part of this modern day universe. Which is okay, but it was glaring for a little bit. The characters do talk in a way that’s not normal for teenagers, but I’m willing to write that off to living in London and the quirkiness of canon Sherlock. The same for two teens deciding they’d be better at solving a murder than the police. That’s right up canon Sherlock’s alley…he’d totally decide the police were bumbling idiots and he could do better.  And I read it as Mori thought more that the police were covering something up and she needed a distraction from her real life. And they’re teens…so you get a lot of teen angst which I’m hoping fades as the series continues. If you can’t get over those points, you’ll struggle with the book. And I think you need to accept that this is an early version of Moriarty before anything has happened to cause her to be Sherlock’s nemesis.   The mystery wasn’t as deep or puzzling as I might have wanted from a mystery book, but I still really enjoyed the book.

This is a great twist on the classic Sherlock Holmes…and it’s only a few more months until the next one comes out!

TTT:ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, (a weekly meme hosted by Broke and Bookish) is Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre. I’m not good at sticking with one genre. I love lots of different books in lots of different genres. But since I think non-fiction doesn’t get a lot of book blogger love, and I definitely don’t feature it here often enough, I’m going to share with you my top list of non-fiction books.

1. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – I found this book to be emotionally inspiring. The author embarks on a one year happiness project to research what happiness is and how people find it. She chronicled her journey as each month she picked a different habit or activity to explore how that impacted her happiness. There are some great pieces of advice and some great ideas for things you can do to improve your own happiness.

2. Once They Were Hats by Frances Backhouse – This is a story about the history of the beaver, mostly in North America. I found it fascinating to learn more about the history, ecology, behavior and uses of the beaver. It’s a really well written book that reads more like a story.

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – This is the fascinating, scary, and sometimes upsetting story of Henrietta Lacks and how her cells ended up being used worldwide in cancer research. It’s a story everyone in the sciences should read. 

4. Blood Work by Holly Tucker – This is the interesting and disturbing history of blood transfusions with a bit of a mystery woven in. There are some hard to read parts for the animal lovers out there as some of the early experiments were before there was any understanding of how blood types work. 

5. One on One by Peter Mansbridge  – Peter Mansbridge is a Canadian award winning journalist and news anchor. This book is a collection of stories from his interviews with a wide range of people, from Conrad Black to Bill Clinton to The Dali Lama. It’s fascinating to read the behind the scenes of these interviews and to see some of these people from a different perspective.

6. The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet – I love this cookbook! It has fabulous explanations for why you do certain things when you bake. Like why you use cold butter to blend with flour when making biscuits and what impact the size of the butter bits has on your final product. And it’s full of great recipes. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to become a better baker.

7. Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor – This is a dog training book that doesn’t read like a typical dog training book. It explains behavior modification and gives you all of the options for solving behavior problems, with a focus on shaping behavior. While intended for working with your dog her methods also work to change behavior in pets, kids and others. It’s both entertaining and very useful and prompted a talk I once gave in a seminar titled, Can you train my husband?

8. The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson – Another dog training book that doesn’t read like  a dog training book.  This book helps you understand why dogs are the way they are and how they are perceiving the world. Armed with this knowledge you can then work to get the behavior you want from your dog.  This and Don’t Shoot the Dog (above) are two of my must-read books for dog owners.

9. & 10.  Before you Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy by Ian Dunbar – These two books go together (you can even buy the combined version)  and they are exactly what new puppy owners need. Filled with practical advice in an accessible way these are great for starting your puppy off on the right food.

So I know this totally let me cheat and flip around genres within the non-fiction genre. And I don’t care! Take a minute to check out a non-fiction book or two. There are some really interesting stories based on real life and there are lots of things we can learn from books!

Review – Poppy Mayberry, The Monday

poppy

Title: Poppy Mayberry, The Monday
Author: Jennie K. Brown
Published by: Month9Books
Publication date: September 13, 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Find it: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

My rating: 4/5

Summary:
What if your teacher could read your mind just because she was born on a Thursday? Or the kid next to you in class could turn back the clock just because he was a ‘Wednesday”? In the quirky town of Nova, all of this is normal, but one thing is not—Poppy Mayberry. As an almost-eleven-year-old Monday, she should be able to pass notes in class or brush her dog, Pickle, without lifting a finger. But her Monday telekinesis still has some kinks, and that plate of spaghetti she’s passing may just end up on someone’s head. And if that’s not hard enough, practically perfect Ellie Preston is out to get her, and Principal Wible wants to send her to remedial summer school to work on her powers! It’s enough to make a girl want to disappear…if only she were a Friday.

My Thoughts:
This was an enjoyable middle grade read.  In the town of Nova, those born on particular weekdays have a special power. As a Monday, Poppy has the power of telekinesis, only she hasn’t quite mastered control of it yet so things don’t always move in the way she intends. She ends up a the Power Academy for summer school with her nemesis and a couple of new friends. They need to work together to solve a mystery so they can go home early.

I really liked a lot about the story.  There was not a lot of world building to explain the powers and where they came from, but we got some answers and some hints that there’s more to the story. World building is one of the things I love about sci-fi and fantasy books so I’m always disappointed when there isn’t more, but it really wasn’t necessary for the story. The whole powers thing was really cool, and the mystery associated with the Power Academy was definitely engaging.  There’s clearly more going on there than we learn about and I think that leaves it open for the story to continue nicely as a series. As a book for middle graders I found that the writing had a good level of complexity and vocabulary. There were some “big words” or at least less common ones and the sentences weren’t all simple sentences. After reading a couple of YA books recently where I felt that they weren’t complex enough for their intended age group Poppy was a nice change. It will challenge some younger readers, but not so much that they can’t figure it out and keep going.

I did have a couple of issues with the book.  The first is just a personal pet peeve. Poppy brings her dog along with her to the Power Academy. There are lots of mentions of her interacting with her dog, but none of her feeding it, walking it or taking it out to toilet. Dogs are a big responsibility and by not building that responsibility into the story it gives kids who don’t have pets an unrealistic view of what it’s like. Dog ownership is not all dressing your dog up in cute outfits and petting it. My other issue has to do with how the adults (and some kids) are perceived in the story.  The kids have nicknamed their principal, Mr. Wible, Woble-Wible because he has an unsteady gait, Poppy refers to one of the Academy heads as “Nostril-Man”, and makes comments about Mrs. Larriby’s weight.  While I understand the motive behind these and I get that kids do this (we all do to some extent!) I felt there could have been a better way of physically describing the characters without the mocking tone. Readers can be impacted by what they read and how they see favorite characters react. I appreciate the need for real and flawed characters but I also think it’s important to be careful about what messages are being sent with respect to judging people based on physical appearance.

Overall, it was a good read and I’m looking forward to the sequel and seeing more of the mysterious town of Nova. And while you’re waiting for the sequel you can head over to the author’s website and discover your week day power!

Discover your week day power

**The publisher provided a free copy of the book in return for an honest review**

 

Blog Tour and Giveaway – There Once Were Stars

ThereOnceWereStarsTourBanner

I’m excited to bring you my stop on the Xpresso Book Tours blog tour for There Once Were Stars. I’ve got my review to share and there’s a tour-wide giveaway for 5 e-copies of the book!

there once were stars

 

Title: There Once Were Stars
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Published by: Month9Books
Publication date: April 26th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

Find it: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

My rating: 3.5/5

Summary:
Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?

My Thoughts:

This YA dystopian was a quick read for me. I loved the concept of the story (people built domes to survive, now we start to wonder what’s outside the dome) and I was engaged with the story the whole time. The main character Natalia turns 18 and suddenly as an adult is done her schooling and must start contributing to the Dome. She quickly ends up thrust into a scientist position because of her parents legacy, not because she has any real aptitude for it. And she uses that opportunity to learn more about what happened to her parents, and what is really happening in the Dome. I’d have loved to see a bit more world building as the concept of the dome was fascinating to me and I feel like there’s more we could have learned. I didn’t connect really well with the main character. She did have some of the rebel traits that I like to see in a female lead, she also came across as being a bit whiny for me. I appreciate where her angst was coming from, she had a lot going on! But I didn’t get a strong enough sense of connection between the events happening and her attitude. The book acts as a stand-alone.  I’m not sure if there is a sequel in the works, but all of the major plot points were addressed and the ending does wrap everything up.  After reading a few books recently that left me with cliffhangers, this was a lovely change of pace! Overall I enjoyed There Once Were Stars.  It’s a good read, with an engaging plot.

 

Author Bio:

Melanie McFarlane is a passionate writer of other-wordly adventures, a little excitable, and a little quirky. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, she jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie focuses her powers on writing young adult stories to keep the rest of the world up reading all night.

She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Land of Living Skies.

Giveaway:

• Five (5) ebooks of There Once Were Stars are up for grabs! Enter today for your chance.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stop by the rest of the tour to see other people’s reviews, excerpts from the book and guest posts. The full tour schedule is here.

 

Summer TBR Wipeout -Wrap Up

Thanks to The Candid Cover for hosting the Summer TBR Wipeout! I had lots of fun checking out other people’s reading lists and progress.  And it almost helped to keep my on track for my own reading.  But, I fell off the rails a bit and didn’t get through everything.

Here’s the list I was planning to read:

  1. Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman – Did not read
  2. Everland by Wendy Spinale – Did not read
  3. How 4 feet of Plywood saved the Grand Canyon – Read
  4. Starflight by Melissa Landers – Read
  5. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – Read
  6. There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane – Read
  7. Throne of Glass by S.J. Mass – Did not read
  8. Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell – Did not read

I got through half of the books on my list.  And then I went a little off list and read a few other things:

  1. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (adapted version)
  2. Sweet Texas Kiss by Monica Tillery
  3. Sweet Texas Fire by Nicole Flockton
  4. Sweet Texas Charm by Robyn Neeley

And, I’m currently about halfway through reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Vacation actually got in the way of reading…there were lots of other fun things to do! And it definitely got in the way of reviews. So I’ve got some work to do in the next couple of weeks to get everything caught up. I’ve also learned that I’m not good at sticking to a plan. I like to read things that are the right style/genre/mood for the mood that I’m in.

I just reorganized my bookshelves and there are still lots of books left to be read, I may need another one of these challenges soon.  If you’re curious what others read, head over to the Candid Cover link up and check out the participating blogs!

 

 

Summer TBR Wipeout Update #2

It’s time for Update #2 on my Summer TBR Wipeout 2016.

I think I’ve firmly established that I’m terrible at sticking to my TBR. Once again I’ve gone a little off the list.

What ive read since the last update:

1. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – review to come on the blog but I really enjoyed this. It was a different take on time travel.

2. Starflight by Melissa Landers – I just finished this one and loved it! I read some negative reviews but it was exactly the read I was looking for so I thought it was great.

3.- 5. Sweet Texas Kiss by Monica Tillery / Sweet Texas Fire by Nicole Flockton / Sweet Texas Charm by Robyn Neeley – this was a trilogy about 3 men whose father passed away and leaves what they believed would be their inheritance to three random woman. Romance ensues. These were cute romance reads, great for relaxing at the cottage.

Whats up next? I’ve got a paperback of American Gods by Neil Gaiman and an ecopy of There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane.

Check out some of the other participants in the TBR Wipeout by following the links on this page: https://candidcover.net/category/features/summer-tbr-wipeout-2016/

Comment Inspiration

Are you commenting on blogs and need some inspiration?

A kind spammer sent me their whole list of fake comments (complete with serious spelling issues…I almost want to reply and offer to clean it up for them). This is 4 pages in Word (2000 words worth) of comments you too could make on people’s blogs. I especially love the specificity of some of these, “Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to [tears] at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break.”

I’m thinking of setting up a BINGO card with a bunch of these and seeing how long it takes me to get BINGO…anyone want to play along?😉

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