Saturday, October 21, 2017

*Stacking the Shelves* 21 October 2017


(Titles link to Amazon via Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is a feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Now, I already have a monthly post I do featuring the books I get in the mail (and it's a lot because I have a serious Goodreads First Reads giveaway addiction), and I'm going to try to start posting my monthly Read-A-Thon posts again too (even if none of the Platypires will be joining me), which will cover the books I receive through Netgalley. But I also go to my thrift store at least once a week, and often leave with a bag full of books. It's such a common occurrence that I'm known as The Book Lady to the frequent volunteers (and I suspect that they've started scheduling their $1 bag of books sales for Thursdays simply because that is the day I usually visit.) So my Stacking the Shelves posts are going to focus on my thrift store hauls, because this is my blog and I do what I want. 

On that note, here are the books I picked up this week.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke - I was intrigued by the cover. 
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok - My copy of this book has a whole lot of underlining in it. I also discovered 30 euro when flipping through the pages. I'm in shock right now. 
My Booky Wook by Russell Brand - I enjoy memoirs, and I typically enjoy movies starring Russell Brand, so this should be a win. 
Frognapped by Angie Sage - This looks like a fun but slightly creepy book for kids. ($.10)
The Slime that Would Not Die by Laura Dower - This is the kind of book that I would have enjoyed as a kid, so I hope my kids will like it as well. ($.10)
Freeze Frame by Ellie O'Ryan - This is a Phineas and Ferb chapter book. Phineas and Ferb is one of the few kids shows that I actually enjoy watching with my kids. 
I'm Gonna Wreck It by Barbara Bazaldua - A Wreck It Ralph chapter book for early readers. 
The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas - This is a book about the fate of artwork and stuff during WWII, so I think it sounds fascinating. 
Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris - I know I'm probably in the minority in the book community, but I've never read any of the Sookie Stackhouse books...I own several of them though, and I don't think this was one of them before today. 
Villette by Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre was one of my favorite books when I was younger, it's probably high time I read something else Charlotte Bronte wrote. 
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris - This is another Sookie Stackhouse book that I'm pretty sure I didn't already own. 
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda - This book has reading group discussion questions in the back. And it seems intriguing as well. 
The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble - Sure, I was drawn to the title of this book because of the similarly titled book by Victoria Aveyard...the two books are not related in any way, but this one sounds interesting nonetheless. 
The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon - I pretty much fell in love with the cover of this book. 

So that's all the books I picked up at the thrift store this week. It was a really small haul this week, and it only cost me 45 cents, but since I found 30 euro in one of my books, I'm up by like 29,60 euro (once you factor in the exchange rate between US dollars and euros, and that's a very rough estimate because I'm not mathing right now.)

So what books did you add to your shelves this week? - Katie 

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to leave a link to your post so I can see all your new books too!* 


Have you joined the 12 Books of Christmas Challenge yet? Find out more details and sign up here!

Friday, October 20, 2017

*Review* The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See


Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: March 21, 2017
Pages: 384


A thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

A powerful story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.


I have read and thoroughly enjoyed a couple other books by this author, so when I saw it was available at my library I immediately put a hold on it. Thankfully the wait wasn’t too long, because I was quite eager to get into this one.

Out of everything that happened in this book, I think the part that appealed to me the most was learning about the ethnic minorities in China. I knew a little about them, but there's so much that I really did not comprehend before reading this book… and it only dives in a bit. It’s definitely a topic I’d like to do more research on.

Amusing thing… I don't even like tea, but I have found a whole new respect for it. I still think it’s yucky though.

The whole full circle thing going on in the book, absolutely loved it. And I found it interesting reading about how some people handle adoption from outside of their ethnicity and the feelings of the children involved was also an important factor.

I found certain parts to have been glossed over more than I believe they should have, probably because they weren’t considered an important part of the story. I am especially talking about Li-yan’s first relationship.

Things did get a little slower toward the end, making it feel like it was dragging a bit. And the end felt like it was a bit too sudden - I’d have loved to read more.

Not that this wasn't completely unexpected, but Lisa see wrote yet another beautiful story rich in Chinese culture. Highly recommend her books.

4.02 9/283rds Platypires - Joood - Hooligan



Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and China Dolls. Her most recent novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, will be released by Scribner in March 2017. Booklist has said of the new novel, “See’s focus on the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, by birth and by circumstance, becomes an extraordinary homage to unconditional love.” Ms. See has also written a mystery series that takes place in China, as well as On Gold Mountain, which is about her Chinese-American family. Her books have been published in 39 languages. Ms. See was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001, was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in 2003, and is slated to receive the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in 2017.
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This Confession Gets Two Birds

Disclaimer: IABB Confessions are submitted anonymously and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of either IABB or the graphics artists who design them. IABB and the graphics artists merely provide the platform for the airing of the anonymous confessions. 
I've taken a week or two (or four) to sit on this confession, just to let my thoughts percolate a little bit more before hitting you with my thoughts on it, and because I have to start writing reviews again now that Joood - Hooligan of Platypire Reviews has had some time to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, I figured this was as good a time as any to address this particular pile of garbage. 

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the standard book rating system has 5 stars. That's what we get on both Goodreads and Amazon, and so it's what many bloggers also use as the standard. But sometimes using a 5 star rating system just doesn't adequately represent your feelings on a book. Sure, you have to pick a full star rating on Amazon or Goodreads, but you can use any sort of star fraction you want within the text of a review. And speaking as a reviewer, sometimes you just have to use star fractions in your reviews.

There are a ton of reasons why a reviewer might love a book, have nothing bad to say about it in the review, be a new fan, and still only give a book a 4.5 star rating.

I've read books where there was just something that didn't quite sit right with me about the book, but I couldn't exactly put my finger on what it was, so while I couldn't talk about it in the review, it affected the rating. And since I couldn't quite pinpoint what was bugging me, I couldn't justify deducting a full star for it.

Other times, what I've not liked about a book has been extremely petty, and I KNEW it was petty so I didn't harp on it in my review and only deducted part of a star for it. "But Katie, if you knew it was petty, why did you let it affect your rating/review at all?" Because this is my blog, damnit, and I do what I want. Also, my ratings and reviews are supposed to reflect my experience with the book, and that petty shit was part of my experience.

But what I want to know is how anyone gets a 4.5 star review and thinks the reviewer wasn't pleased? That's a damn good rating. It's near perfect. You want a full five stars for your book? Be perfect in the eyes of that reviewer. But guess what, you will NEVER be perfect in the eyes of every reviewer because it's all subjective. Don't expect to get a perfect rating from a reviewer who didn't think your book was perfection.

The kicker of this confessions is the dig at reviewers for not being connoisseurs of great writing. I'm not sure if the confessor realizes that's a double edged sword though. I mean, if these reviewers reading your book aren't connoisseurs of great writing, what does that say about your book exactly?

Finally, you wish authors could review reviewers? So do it. Post that shit on your blog. Own up to your opinions like reviewers do every day. By all means, let the world know that unless a reviewer sings your praises, you have no use for their review. And then, let me know how that worked out for you.

Oh, and as a final fuck you from me, I will no longer be rating in full stars on this blog. I know most authors will not care (and will surely round appropriately to determine what their rating would have been otherwise), but in case I ever stumble upon one of your books and rate it on accident, I want to be sure to give it anything but a full star rating. You're welcome. - Katie 

*Book Blogger Hop* 20 October 2017

We are on to a new week for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by the lovely folks over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This weeks questions is:
Off the book topic - What is your favorite scary movie? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)
This is going to go along with last week's hop answer a bit because it's Stephen King's It. While I was a bit disappointed with the changes they made from the story to the original movie, I understand why most of them were necessary. As far as the remake goes, well I haven't seen it yet.

What about you? What's your favorite scary movie? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the link up, please be sure to leave a link to your answer so I can stop by and see what you had to say.*

Monday, October 16, 2017

*Top Ten Tuesday* Yummy Foods in Books


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Joood - Hooligan of Platypire reviews bossed me into doing this, so I guess this is a thing I do now. 

This weeks theme is yummy foods mentioned in books. Now this is a tough topic for me, not because I never read about yummy foods in books, because I absolutely do. I wanted to make an entire Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings in June once because of reading about one in a book at that time. But I couldn't for the life of me tell you what book I was reading about that Thanksgiving dinner in. While I have an excellent memory for the written word, yummy sounding foods tend to be a rather minor element story wise, so they don't tend to stick with me as a connection to a particular book.

So bare with me while I attempt to cobble together a list of books with foods that made my mouth water.

1) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - This is one series that I know for sure always makes me hungry. In true Hufflepuff fashion, I want to go to Hogwarts simply for the feast. It always sounds so delicious when it's being described in the books.

2) My Life in France by Julia Child - If you can read THE Julia Child's memoir and not want to eat all the things, you have way more self-control than I do. I got my husband to buy me Mastering the Art of French Cooking because of this book. I haven't used it yet, but I own it.

3) Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray - This is another book that features French cuisine as it's set in the French Riviera. The descriptions of the food are absolutely divine.

4) If This Was a Movie by Ginna Moran - There is talk about a bakery in this book that sells amazing macarons that had me salivating. I've never had a macaron, but this book made me want to hop on over to France to pick some up (and I live close enough that a day trip just for macarons wouldn't be entirely unreasonable.)

5) The Winemakers by Jan Moran - Wine counts as food right? There was probably some talk about amazing sounding Italian meals somewhere in this book too, but mostly it made me want some wine.

6) The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan - I want to learn how to make an amazing sponge cake because of this book. There were other delicious sounding baked goods discussed as well, but the sponge cake is what really stands out in my memory 2.5 years after reading the book.

7) Taste Test by L.B. Dunbar - One of these days I'm going to go hog-wild making cherry based baked goods all because of this book. I just gotta' find some good recipes for them.

8) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl - Sure, my cravings from this book may be due in large part to the fact that I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory before I ever read the book, but unless you hate candy, I'm pretty sure you'll have to agree with this choice.

9 & 10) I'm combining nine and ten because not only can I not remember specific book titles from these two authors, but also because they are both based in Louisiana so there's a fair amount of food overlap. In any case, Alexandrea Weis and Mary Theriot have me dying to visit Louisiana to eat all the things, but especially beignets. I end up almost drooling on my kindle just about every time I read any of their books.

So, I did it! I came up with 10 "books" with mouth watering food descriptions. I would advise not reading these books while hungry (it's pretty much like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. It's just a bad idea).

What books have you read that made your mouth water? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to leave a link to your post so I can check out your list.*

Have you joined the 12 Books of Christmas Challenge yet? Find out more details and sign up here!

*MadLib Monday* Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

When I was growing up, I loved Mad Libs. The excitement of sort of writing your own story really appealed to me. So I thought it would be fun to mesh that love with my love of books by turning blurbs into mad libs and letting you guys write your own book blurbs. 

For anyone that doesn't know how Mad Libs work, I will ask you for certain parts of speech or other specific things (i.e.: date, age, color, etc.) which you will write down. After you have completed your list, scroll down below the cover image to find the redacted blurb. Then read through it substituting your words where applicable. Try not to laugh. (Laughing is actually strongly encouraged, because this is supposed to be funny.)

Some brief definitions of the parts of speech.
Noun: Person, place, or thing.
Verb: Describes or indicates action.
Adverb: Modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb expressing manner, place, time, or degree (gently, here, now, very).
Adjective: Names an attribute of a noun (pretty, blue, large)
Pronoun: A word that can function as a noun (I, we, they)
Preposition: a word that combines with a noun or pronoun to form a phrase that usually acts as an adverb, adjective, or noun (on, after, for)

And with that, here we go.

1: Number
2: Noun
3: Adjective
4: Verb ending in s
5: Plural noun
6: Verb
7: Adverb
8: Noun
9: City
10: Plural noun


Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: October 3, 2017
Pages: 448

Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly (   1: Number   ) years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her (   2: Noun   ) and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some (   3: Adjective   ) pact between her father and Dexter Styles.

Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna (   4: Verb ending in s   ) at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where women are allowed to hold (   5: Plural noun   ) that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America (   6: Verb   ) the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career as a Ziegfield folly, and her lovely, (   7: Adverb   ) disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s (   8: Noun   ).

Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organized crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in (   9: City   ), Egan’s first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the (   10: Plural noun   ) of women and men, America, and the world.

Now that your fun is through, here is the real blurb for Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.

Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.

Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career as a Ziegfield folly, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life.

Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organized crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Egan’s first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America, and the world.

If you enjoyed this mad lib, please comment with your list below so that the rest of us can get a chuckle out of it as well. And be sure to share with your friends. - Katie 


Have you joined the 12 Books of Christmas Challenge yet? Find out more details and sign up here!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

*Stacking the Shelves* 14 October 2017


(Titles link to Amazon via Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is a feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Now, I already have a monthly post I do featuring the books I get in the mail (and it's a lot because I have a serious Goodreads First Reads giveaway addiction), and I'm going to try to start posting my monthly Read-A-Thon posts again too (even if none of the Platypires will be joining me), which will cover the books I receive through Netgalley. But I also go to my thrift store at least once a week, and often leave with a bag full of books. It's such a common occurrence that I'm known as The Book Lady to the frequent volunteers (and I suspect that they've started scheduling their $1 bag of books sales for Thursdays simply because that is the day I usually visit.) So my Stacking the Shelves posts are going to focus on my thrift store hauls, because this is my blog and I do what I want. 

On that note, here are the books I picked up this week.

Are You Afraid of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon - So the Nickelodeon tv show, Are You Afraid of the Dark was pretty much the best show ever when I was growing up, and even though this book is not related to that in any way other than the title, I just had to buy it (because of the title!) (25 cents)
How to Draw Monsters, Weirdos, and Aliens by Renzo Barto - My son has started to get a little bit interested in drawing, so when I find books about drawing at the thrift store, I typically buy them. ($1)
Skate Farm Vol 2 by Barzak - My daughter asked for this graphic novel and is super happy that she can read it in her head (she's 6, we're still working on the reading thing). I'm beginning to wonder if I should have so readily agreed to the purchase after flipping through it, though. 
Guinea Dog 3 by Patrick Jennings - My son asked for this book. It looks kind of silly, but it's at least age appropriate for sure. 
Would You Rather? Gross-Out by Justin Heimberg & David Gomberg - I bought this book with the intention of using it on my blog's Facebook page to boost interaction. We shall see if it works. 
The Handy Weather Answer Book by Walter A. Lyons, Ph.D. - I have a few books from this series. I figured I might as well add one more. 
Ricky Ricotta's Might Robot vs. the Mutant Mosquitoes from Mercury by Dav Pilkey - I have a few of these books, it's possible I have this book, but I couldn't remember for sure, so I got it just in case. 
Ricky Ricotta's Might Robot vs. the Mecha-Monkeys From Mars by Dav Pilkey - My son likes the Captain Underpants books by Mr. Pilkey, so these are definitely worth a shot as well. 
Ricky Ricotta's Might Robot vs. the Voodoo Vultures From Venus by Dav Pilkey - My computer constantly changes Dav to Das, and it's driving me a wee bit nuts. 
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey - It would be a shame to not own the first book in the series, right?
The Day the Mice Stood Still by Dr. Roach - This looks like a fun story for kids around my daughters age. 
I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 by Lauren Tarshis - I want to believe that these are historically accurate where possible. They are offered by Scholastic, so that gives me some hope for that. 
I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79 by Lauren Tarshis - I'm kind of interested in this one, even if it is targeted towards 4th graders. 
Abe Lincoln At Last by Mary Pope Osborne - This is a Magic Treehouse Book, and I have several of these for my kids, but I don't think this was one of them. It is now of course, but I'm pretty sure I didn't end up with a duplicate this time around. 
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb - As far as I can tell, this is story versions of Shakespeare's plays. That might make them a bit easier to read, maybe. 
On Liberty and Other Writings by J.S. Mill - This particular copy of the book was at one point in time housed on the campus of UCLA (it's stamped on the bottom). It also has lots of underlining and notes in the margins. 
Die Tribute von Panem by Suzanne Collins - Guess which book this is the German translation of. If you've read the book, it should be pretty clear. :) 
The Templars by Piers Paul Read - I've found the Templars mildly fascinating for years. I've become more interested in them recently since working on a fictional series that heavily references their legacy. 
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron - I've seen the movie, I may as well read the book as well, right?
The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism by Tina Rosenberg - This is a Pulitzer Prize winning book and should also be educational. 
Biss Zur Mittagsstunde by Stephenie Meyer - This is the German version of New Moon. I've got half the set in German now! 
Life as I Blow It by Sarah Colonna - This book has a foreword written by Chelsea Handler, and I happen to enjoy Handler's comedy so I imagine this will appeal to me as well. 
The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton - I feel like I've heard the name of this book before, maybe seen it on some of those lists I love so much. In any case, I have a copy of it now. 
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates - I'm a big fan of buying books that have been made into movies, so that I can get all snotty about how the book is sooooooo much better than the movie. 
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers - Historical fiction set during the California gold rush it seems. Should be interesting. 
Wake Up America by Eric Bolling - I won an audiobook copy of this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway, but it never arrived. That makes me sad because I was supposed to be listening to it for a review that Bekah the Awesome of Platypire Reviews bought at an auction a while back. Now I can at least still follow through with the review. 

So that's all the books I picked up this week at my thrift store. This haul cost me a whopping $1.75 because the bags of books were a mere quarter a piece this week, but I had those first two books at different prices. 

What books have you added to your shelves this week? - Katie 

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to leave a link to your review so I can visit and see your list too.*

Have you joined the 12 Books of Christmas Challenge yet? Find out more details and sign up here!