Saturday, May 28, 2016

Women's Lit Review: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

Links to

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
by Lorna Landvik

The wise and funny national bestseller about four decades of laughter, heartache, and friendship in the lives of five small-town women--members of AHEB (Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons), an unofficial club that becomes much more.

My Review:
I read this book about a book club under the utmost sense of irony. I couldn’t help it. Why? Because I was reading it for a book club. I kept getting distracted by all the books the women in the book were choosing and fighting the urge to write them down for later. What can I say?

Anyhow, as for what I thought? It’s a pretty good, bordering on great book following the lives of five women whose common connection is their book club, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. I think the story did a good job of tackling a variety of issues, life challenges, tragedies and triumphs spanning three decades. It’s really five different stories, but all tangled together.

Really, the only common thread in the telling of it is Faith and her letters to her mama. Other than that, everything is in first person, and the person telling the story changes. I both enjoyed this and found it difficult. It was difficult because sometimes the person changes multiple times in a chapter. Usually it’s a clean transition with a very clear indication of who’s speaking, but sometimes it isn’t.

So overall, I thought this was good, particularly keying in on things folks in book clubs, particularly women, would enjoy. There’s plenty of stuff to talk about, and the cast of characters is such that everyone’s likely to recognize someone they know in one of them.

I borrowed this book from the library to read it for my book club. Funny thing is, I know I can’t even make it to that meeting.

So you may be asking, what did the Angry Housewives read? Good news, I couldn't resist writing them down after all. Here you go:

Hotel by Arthur Hailey
Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Middlemarch by George Eliot
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
Dr. Faustus by Thomas Mann

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask by Dr. David Reuben
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan
Roots by Alex Haley
The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck
Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

My Home is Far Away by Dawn Powell
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Handling Sin by Michael Malone
The Stand by Stephen King
My Antonia by Willa Cather
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Beginning and the End by Naguib Mahfouz
Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler
Eastward Ha! by S.J. Perelman
Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy

And that's all of the ones that headed chapters. A few others were mentioned in the body of the story, but I really do have to get this book back to the library today so these are it.

As for how these are covered in the book, they head each chapter, including which character picked them and why. Some of the chapters cover the discussions of the books, but some don't or just do in passing. It's really just treated like the common thing that brings the women together and also to highlight the different personalities. For example, the ones picked by Slip were often banned or likely to be banned or otherwise political or controversial. Anyhow, I enjoyed these little snippets and thought this made a pretty good list of potential books to read. I'd only heard of a fraction of these titles and authors.

So, have you read any of these? What do you think?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Short Story Review: Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest by A.J. York

Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest
by A.J. York
Published May 5, 2016

In this exciting instalment, Delilah Dusticle and the Dustbusters travel to the vibrant and mystical land of India. On arrival, they are tasked with a quest to overcome a powerful curse and save a life. It soon becomes clear that it is Delilah, who must find the strength and the power to defeat the curse. This is the third in a series of stories following Delilah and the Dustbusters on adventures around the world. Fully illustrated and packed with adventure!

My Review:
Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest is a modern-day fairytale featuring a dust fairy and her cleaning company. This time, she’s called on to save a town from a terrible curse, but though her dust fighting powers are perfect for the job, she knows she can’t use them in the way everyone expects.

I really enjoyed this story. The writing is tight and to the point, while still bringing to mind the vivid imagery that breathes life into a story. There’s a good bit of magic, as would be expected in a fairy tale, but in a modern setting. The characters are also pretty cool and varied in their personalities and quirks: the leather jacket guy (there’s a funny picture of him in the book), the lady who’s always searching for nearby enemies and threats, and even the grumpy sponge, whose grumpiness is offset by a new bout of orneriness I found delightful.

The illustrations are a bit more abstract than in earlier books, but artistically pleasing and complementary to the story. Near the end (starting chapter 10) the cute little spider is back (the one from the Transylvanian adventure). I’d have loved to see more pics of grumpy sponge because he’s another of my favorites, but what’s there is good.

The only thing that threw me off is that it’s been a bit too long since I’d read the previous book. As a short read, this story doesn’t spend much, if any, time reorienting readers to the things leading up to this point. For a little while, I thought I might have missed one of the books as what was mentioned seemed unfamiliar. I later figured out that some was referencing events from the previous story, some was previously unrevealed backstory, and the rest was filling in the time between the last story and this one. On that note, I’d recommend reading (or rereading) the previous two stories, plus Eliza Bluebell, before starting this one.

Overall, I thought this was a fun read, both humorous and serious at times with a clever cast of characters and an interesting setting. I’d recommend it to folks who like shorter reads, fairy tales, and funny stories. The illustrations are nice, too, though not quite as standalone entertaining as they were in the last book.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

Interested? Check out this author's profile and all her books on here!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2) by Paula Berinstein

Links to Amazon.
Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2)
by Paula Berinstein
Published September 15th 2015

If only Sherlock Holmes's great-great-grandson weren't such a dork . . .

There’s a new student at the Legatum Continuatum School for the Descendants of Famous Detectives and Amanda is supposed to work with him. Scapulus Holmes is a descendant of the great Sherlock and he’s crazy about her. Unfortunately she thinks he’s a dork and would rather die than have anything to do with him.

But when the kids discover a dead body encrusted with strange living crystals, Amanda realizes she needs Holmes’s help. If the crystals fall into the wrong hands they could be used for nefarious purposes, and only he knows how to protect them.

Can the detectives keep the bad guys from learning the crystals' secrets? It would help if they could figure out who the dead body is too. Only if Amanda and Holmes can find a way to work together can they prevent a disaster, and it isn’t looking good.

My Review:
I was pleased and surprised when the author of this books asked if I’d like to review more of the Amanda Lester series. So here’s my review for Book 2, Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis.

The story picks up at the beginning of the second half of Amanda’s first year at Legatum Continuatum. Right off, she’s paired up with the new kid, Scapulus Holmes. Everyone loves him, but Amanda can’t stand him, making that unintentionally clear the very first time she sees him.

What I liked most about this story is that it’s fun to read. The orange crystals aren’t just some interesting thing; they are alive, and they aren’t necessarily harmless. The decorating gremlins also make the story a hoot. In the first book, they didn’t really have a face, but in this one, we see a lot of them as witnessed by the students, and they are pretty funny.

There’s also plenty of detective work, though I thought everything seemed rather close in delivery to Harry Potter, even with in-story references and comparisons to those books and a few of its characters. Instead of magic wands, there are evidence kits. Instead of magic items, there are mysterious, coded secrets, a special item upon which the fate of the school rests, and some technology that, although inspired by something real, seems almost magical in how it works in the story.

As for what I didn’t like. I’m not sure about Amphora in the story. She’s, what, twelve? Utterly boy crazy. And her crushes and such aren’t limited to the boys her age. She flirts like crazy, and while some girls are like that, it isn’t a good thing. Still, I liked hers and Simon’s relationship arc. He, at least, is her age.

As for Amanda’s relatives, well, I didn’t get them. They’re in your face, unlikeable, and I thought for a bit that they were part of some sort of conspiracy to lure Amanda into danger. Had they been, it would have made more sense, but nope, they’re just there being annoying and weird. This and a few other things gave me the impression that the plot and delivery weren’t quite as solid as in the first one, though the overall quality is good.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. Folks who enjoy tween-aged detective stories with some danger, a fair share of technology, and plenty of crushes and rivalry will likely enjoy this book.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cover Reveal: Sacrifice (Serpentine #2) by Cindy Pon, courtesy of Month9Books

Today Cindy Pon and Month9Books are revealing the cover for SACRIFICE, book 2 in the Serpentine Series! Which releases September 27, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win a paperback copy of book 1, Serpentine!!
Here’s a message from the author:
I am so excited to share the Sacrifice cover with readers! I didn't think it was possible, but I love it even more than my gorgeous Serpentine cover. My second novel is always about dealing with consequences of what happened in the first book. Skybright was on a journey to discover the truth of her origins and identity in Serpentine, and I believe she truly comes into her own in Sacrifice. I love the prominent featuring of her crimson tail, and the tension and energy this cover conveys—it reflects the novel so well. I hope you enjoy Sacrifice!
On to the reveal! 

Title: SACRIFICE (Serpentine, Book 2)
Author: Cindy Pon
Pub. Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | Goodreads

Sacrifice, the sequel to Serpentine, plunges Skybright into the terrifying underworld where demons are bred and whisks her up to the magnificent Mountain of Heavenly Peace where the gods dwell.

Stone is stripped of his immortal status and told to close hell's breach, which mysteriously remains open, threatening mortals.

Zhen Ni, Skybright's former mistress and friend, has been wed to the strange and brutish Master Hou, and finds herself trapped in an opulent but empty manor. When she discovers half-eaten corpses beneath the estate, she realizes that Master Hou is not all that he seems.

As Skybright works to free Zhen Ni with the aid of Kai Sen and Stone, they begin to understand that what is at risk is more far-reaching then they could ever have fathomed.

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy,Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA.The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Her first published short story is featured in Diverse Energies,a multicultural YA dystopian anthology from Tu Books (October 2012). Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website.

Where you can find Cindy: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram

Giveaway Details:
2 winners will receive a paperback of SERPENTINE, US Only.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Blog Tour Stop: Chapter One Excerpt from Micah by Lee Decote

Micah banner

This is my stop during the blog tour for Micah by Lee DuCote. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 3 till 16 May, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.

MicahMicah (The Sword of Malachi #1)
by Lee DuCote
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: May 3, 2016

When lacrosse star Micah Spearman moved to the quiet little town of Seven Springs, he never expected to become such a significant part of his lacrosse team, his group of friends, or of the battle raging just beyond human reach. With a gift to see into the spiritual dimension, Micah learns he is part of a prophecy and must lead an army of guardians against legions of demons, all while trying to live a normal teenage life.

Navigating through high school can be a daunting task. When Micah finds himself falling in love with his friend Stephanie, he must be careful not to disrupt their group of friends—or attract attention from the demons that watch his every move. But high school will not be the biggest survival challenge he faces. Micah and friends soon find their world expanding far beyond, as Micah discovers his true purpose.

As the battle rages to find the Sword of Malachi, the young freshman finds himself falling deeper into a world of unknowns. Can Micah find the sword before all is lost? Will Stephanie give into her feelings for Micah? In Micah, the Sword of Malachi, you too will fall under the charm and the mysteries of Seven Springs.
Read on for the Chapter 1 excerpt:

Saturday, May 7, 2016

New Release Feature: The Lizard Queen, Books 8 and 9 by H.L. Cherryholmes

The Lizard Queen Book Eight: We Are the Waking
by H.L. Cherryholmes
Publication Date: May 4, 2016

Though she’s unable to finish reading the final Extiguo to determine her role in bringing about the New Morphósis, Amy Darlidale quickly learns that Runakopolis puts her and her friends on the threshold of another major discovery. A new mystery seems to hold clues to the origins of the Trotéjo and the Arañalianza. Beginning to sense that the ideologies at conflict have been preserved not only by clergy and government but also by culture, Amy is drawn into an enigmatic society of scholars. At first, pages missing from library books and a new theory about the first Morphósis don’t seem to be connected to the Lacáruna prophecy, but the lines of military, church, and academia continue to intersect and familiar faces and adversaries reemerge. Rumors of war are spreading quickly, and whispers that La Arañota will soon rise again are amplifying. This world seems on the verge of shrinking much faster than anyone anticipated.

The Lizard Queen Book Nine: Root of the Rule
by H.L. Cherryholmes
Publication Date: May 4, 2016

The surrounding nations are gathering for a war against Pliada, the Trotéjo and the Arañalianza are assembling before the mountain upon which La Reina’s castle sits, and stakes have never been higher. The quest to learn how Amy Darlidale must bring about the New Morphósis has brought her full circle and the truth about her destiny as Lacáruna finally seems within reach. But much blood continues to be shed as all sides race toward the inevitable conclusion of the journey. Amy must summon forces from deep within if she is to save this world—or is it too late?

I'm really excited about these. Should be reading them near the end of the month and planning to post reviews in June. We'll see.  Anyhow, if you've been following this series, these are the final two books.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Fantasy Review: Myth-Taken Identity by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye

Available on Amazon
Myth-Taken Identity by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good, but way longer than it needed to be.

I received this book as a gift from my husband. He was poking around on Amazon and noticed this series had more books. We'd both thought that was done with since the author (Aspirin) passed away, but apparently he wrote a few more and transitioned the series into the hands of another author (Nye) before then.

Anyhow, about the book. It's pretty much what I was expecting: a bit of fantasy, a lot of puns, and some humorous multi-dimension sleuthing. If you like that sort of thing, I think you'll like this. I'm a big fan of the Myth series, but though I liked this book, I didn't love it.

It seemed like the authors were working towards a word count, trying to stretch the story to what is more readily accepted as novel length. It didn't really work, though. About halfway through, I felt like the story should be wrapping up, but it just spun off into another approach to the problem the characters were facing. And even when the thing seemed near resolution, the final chase was drawn out to the point I had no problem setting the book down for the night.

So, overall, it's a mildly amusing story with some cute characters, lots more content than needed, and not quite the spark that Aspirin's earlier Myth stories emit. I liked it, but I couldn't say I'd drop everything to read it again.

(And as an aside, what's up with that cover? Who's the pervect lady, I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be Masha, but she's not a pervect and isn't she supposed to have bright orange hair? Also, why the heck is Chumley now a fuzzy, purple teddy bear? I'm pretty sure he wasn't that furry before, but in these last few books suddenly he is. I think the cover artist looked at some earlier covers and didn't bother reading the book. Not his or her fault. Someone at the publisher should have been paying attention.)

View all my reviews

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cover Reveal: Ella's Twisted Senior Year by Amy Sparling

Today is the cover reveal for Ella's Twisted Senior Year by Amy Sparling. This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.

Ella's Twisted Senior YearElla's Twisted Senior Year
By Amy Sparling
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: May 31, 2016

Having spent most of her senior year flying under the radar, the last thing Ella Lockhart expected was to have a tornado rip straight through her house, leaving her homeless. It’s bad enough that the whole school now pities her, but did her parents have to let the neighbors take them in?

Now she's sharing a house with Ethan Poe, her former best friend-turned-enemy. All those feelings she used to have for him are starting to rain down on her again. Too bad he's a jerk and his new girlfriend has territorial issues. Thanks to Mother Nature, Ella's house and her entire life have been turned upside down.

Ethan isn’t quite sure why Ella hates him so much, but he does know she wants nothing to do with him. He’s never quite gotten over the crush he had on her as a kid, and now that she’s living across the hall, it’s hard to stay away. His girlfriend isn’t helping the situation and when she shows her true colors, he doesn’t want to date her anymore. He wants to date someone like Ella. Too bad she hates him.

You can find Ella's Twisted Senior Year on Goodreads

Amy SparlingAbout the Author:
Amy Sparling is the author of The Summer Unplugged Series, Deadbeat & other awesome books for younger teens. She lives in Texas and has an addiction to sparkly nail polish, taking photos of her cute dog, and swooning over book boyfriends.

You can find and contact Amy here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Instagram
- Goodreads

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Ella's Twisted Senior Year. These are the prizes you can win:
- a $10 Amazon gift card (Open internationally)
- a signed paperback of Ella's Twisted Senior Year by Amy Sparling (USA only)

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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