Sunday, June 25, 2017

#MadLibMonday - Diving Under by Ginna Moran

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: Verb
4: Adjective
5: Plural noun
6: Name
7: Verb ending in ing
8: Mythical creature
9: Noun
10: Preposition
11: Verb


Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: June 27, 2017
Pages: 278

(    1: Number   ) years after her older (    2: Noun   ) was swept out to sea, eighteen-year-old Ava Adair still (   3: Verb   ) off the ocean. It takes a promise of the (   4: Adjective   ) vacation of her life aboard the Ocean Jewel with her (   5: Plural noun   ) to get her even within reach of the waves. When she steps aboard the luxury yacht to sail the California coastline, the last thing she expects is to gain the attention of gorgeous (   6: Name   ) Stevens, the yacht’s deckhand, who becomes the perfect distraction against her fear of the open water.

On the yacht, a freak accident involving Carter reveals a secret he’s been (  7: Verb ending in ing  ) from Ava. She discovers that he’s a (  8: Mythical creature  ) and by saving her, he changed her life. One misstep could reveal the new (   9: Noun   ) they share and ruin the life on land she’s desperate to maintain. Torn between a future on land (  10: Preposition  ) her family and a new life at sea, Ava must decide—is her former life worth fighting for, or can she (   11: Verb   ) that she belongs to the ocean?

Now that you've had your fun, here's the real synopsis for Diving Under by Ginna Moran.

Eight years after her older sister was swept out to sea, eighteen-year-old Ava Adair still swears off the ocean. It takes a promise of the best vacation of her life aboard the Ocean Jewel with her friends to get her even within reach of the waves. When she steps aboard the luxury yacht to sail the California coastline, the last thing she expects is to gain the attention of gorgeous Carter Stevens, the yacht’s deckhand, who becomes the perfect distraction against her fear of the open water.

On the yacht, a freak accident involving Carter reveals a secret he’s been hiding from Ava. She discovers that he’s a merman and by saving her, he changed her life. One misstep could reveal the new secret they share and ruin the life on land she’s desperate to maintain. Torn between a future on land with her family and a new life at sea, Ava must decide—is her former life worth fighting for, or can she accept that she belongs to the ocean?

If you enjoyed this mad lib, comment with your list below (if you dare) so that the rest of us can get a chuckle out of it as well. - Katie 

#MadLibMonday - Creatura by Nely Cab

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)

And with that, here we go.

1: Verb ending in ing
2: Noun
3: Verb
4: Adjective
5: Noun
6: Noun
7: Verb
8: Adverb
9: Verb
10: State
11: Noun


Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: June 14, 2015
Pages: 300

When seventeen year-old Isis Martin is having trouble (  1:Verb ending in ing  ) due to perturbing dreams of a horrific growling (     2: Noun    ), she decides to (    3: Verb    ) her fear. But what Isis discovers is something other than a (    4: Adjective    ) entity.

The human-like (    5: Noun    ) offers Isis assurance that he is not a (    6: Noun    ) of her imagination. Unwilling to (    7: Verb    ) his avowal, Isis sets his words to contest by asking the entity to prove himself—a dare, he (    8: Adverb   ) welcomes.

It is in her dreams that Isis innocently (   9: Verb   ) upon the silent existence of the divine lineage of those that man has long forgotten.

In a quaint town, deep in south (   10: State   ), this story leads Isis onto the path of impermissible love and captivating life-changing truths. Isis Martin's (   11: Noun   ) is sure to leave any reader ravenous for more.

Now that you've had your fun, read the real blurb for Creatura by Nely Cab. 

When seventeen year-old Isis Martin is having trouble sleeping due to perturbing dreams of a horrific growling beast, she decides to confront her fear. But what Isis discovers is something other than a menacing entity.

The human-like creature offers Isis assurance that he is not a figment of her imagination. Unwilling to accept his avowal, Isis sets his words to contest by asking the entity to prove himself—a dare, he readily welcomes.

It is in her dreams that Isis innocently stumbles upon the silent existence of the divine lineage of those that man has long forgotten.

In a quaint town, deep in south Texas, this story leads Isis onto the path of impermissible love and captivating life-changing truths. Isis Martin's journey is sure to leave any reader ravenous for more.


If you enjoyed this mad lib, comment with your list below (if you dare) so the rest of us can get a chuckle out of it as well. - Katie 

#MadLibMonday - An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur


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)

And with that, here we go.

1: Age
2: Noun
3: Plural Noun
4: Adjective
5: Proper Noun
6: Verb
7: Adjective
8: Pronoun
9: Noun
10: Verb
11: Adjective



Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: November 22, 2016
Pages: 550

September 11, 1973: (     1: Age     )-year-old Alejandro Penda watches from his apartment window as Santiago, Chile falls to a military coup, destroying his (     2: Noun     ) and his childhood. Arriving alone in America, he’s taken in by the (     3: Plural Noun    ): a prominent family in the town of Guelisten. Though burdened by (   4: Adjective   ) grief for his disappeared parents, he becomes fiercely loyal to the Larks, eventually marrying one of their daughters, Valerie.

September 11, 2001: Javier Landes watches from his apartment window as (    5: Proper Noun    ) falls to terrorism. As one of Manhattan’s top-paid male escorts, this professional lover has never lacked for company and is loyal only to himself. But in the wake of 9/11, Jav is named guardian for an orphaned nephew in Guelisten and must (     6: Verb     ) his carefully-guarded heart to pain he's long suppressed.

Alex, Valerie and Jav meet first in their twenties, with a sudden attraction each finds (    7: Adjective ) and compelling. When they meet again in their forties, (    8: Pronoun    ) discover(s) not only is their bond still strong, but their life experiences are strangely similar. All have been shaped by separate 9/11's, and their unfinished (    9: Noun     ) from the past will change everything they know about love, loyalty and friendship.

"Life has rules. You cannot come in the middle of the night and (     10: Verb     ) what we agreed isn't yours."

Across three decades and two continents, Suanne Laqueur's fifth novel explores the unpredictability of (     11: Adjective      ) attraction, how family ties are forged, torn and mended, and how love's downfall can turn to exaltation.

Now that your fun is through, here's the actual blurb for An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur.

September 11, 1973: Eleven-year-old Alejandro Penda watches from his apartment window as Santiago, Chile falls to a military coup, destroying his family and his childhood. Arriving alone in America, he’s taken in by the Larks: a prominent family in the town of Guelisten. Though burdened by unresolved grief for his disappeared parents, he becomes fiercely loyal to the Larks, eventually marrying one of their daughters, Valerie.

September 11, 2001: Javier Landes watches from his apartment window as New York City falls to terrorism. As one of Manhattan’s top-paid male escorts, this professional lover has never lacked for company and is loyal only to himself. But in the wake of 9/11, Jav is named guardian for an orphaned nephew in Guelisten and must open his carefully-guarded heart to pain he's long suppressed.

Alex, Valerie and Jav meet first in their twenties, with a sudden attraction each finds strange and compelling. When they meet again in their forties, they discover not only is their bond still strong, but their life experiences are strangely similar. All have been shaped by separate 9/11's, and their unfinished business from the past will change everything they know about love, loyalty and friendship.

"Life has rules. You cannot come in the middle of the night and take what we agreed isn't yours."

Across three decades and two continents, Suanne Laqueur's fifth novel explores the unpredictability of sexual attraction, how family ties are forged, torn and mended, and how love's downfall can turn to exaltation.

If you enjoyed this mad lib, comment with your list below (if you dare) so that the rest of us can get a chuckle out of it too. - Katie 

#SneakPeekSunday - Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Title: Fish in a Tree
Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Published: February 5, 2015
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Pages: 288
Goodreads

Synopsis

The author of the beloved One for the Murphys gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

Sneak Peek Review

I received a copy of this sneak peek from Nancy Paulsen Books through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

I still haven't learned my lesson about reading the book blurb before starting to read a sneak peek, but at least with Fish in a Tree, the things that the blurb would have told me were pretty easy to figure out just from the context clues. Granted, I wasn't sure if Ally was dyslexic or if she had some other less common issue with reading (she describes letters as swirling around on the page whereas it's my understanding that with dyslexia letters tend to just get flip flopped within words, but I only have a very basic understanding of dyslexia). While this is a problem that I believe would typically be figured out early on, because Ally's dad is in the military they move a lot, so Ally is always switching schools, and she slips through the cracks. The sneak peek says she's been in seven schools in seven years, so she's got to be in at least sixth grade (and I think that is the grade she's in based on the classroom dynamic). I'm astounded that a child could make it to sixth grade with dyslexia and no one would figure it out, but in her situation, I can accept that it happened. What fourth grade teacher gets a new kid mid school year and assumes that the behavior that seems like acting out is actually an inability to read? The kid doesn't have an IEP, nothing in her records indicates that she has problems with reading. Clearly she's just a problem child, right? 

Now I only just barely met Mr. Daniels in the sneak peek I read, but I like him (I'm supposed to like him I'm sure). Based on his reaction to Ally, and knowing that he discovers what is going on with her, I suspect that maybe he is also dyslexic, or that someone close to him growing up was. I just think that the fact that he came into the class mid-school year to take over while the class teacher is on maternity leave, and almost immediately suspects that there is more going on with Ally than she's letting on really indicates that he's pretty familiar with dyslexia and/or learning disabilities in general. And he's young and a substitute, so he likely doesn't have a whole lot of experience with teaching yet.   

I don't feel super compelled to finish reading this book. It's a middle grade book, so I feel like I can mostly fill in the major gaps in the rest of the story (I'm pretty good at predicting outcomes in middle grade books at this point in my life), I wouldn't be opposed to reading the rest of the book either though. However, I would absolutely buy this book for my children. Neither of them is dyslexic, but I think a book like this could likely help kids develop at least a little bit of empathy towards kids who learn differently than most, and since kids can sometimes be really mean, that would be a good thing. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

Lynda Mullaly Hunt (www.lyndamullalyhunt.com) has received many honors for her debut novel, One for the Murphys, which is on over twenty state award lists, including Bank Street’s 2013 Best Books of the Year. She’s a former teacher, and holds writers retreats for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children, impetuous beagle, and beagle-loathing cat.

Friday, June 23, 2017

*Stacking the Shelves* 24 June 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.

Peterson Field Guide: Stars and Planets by Jay M. Pasachoff and Donald H. Menzel - This will be a great book to have if one of my children shows a fascination for astronomy. 
The Thief Taker by Janet Gleeson - Historical fiction, I think based on the cover. I like historical fiction, which is something you should know about me by now.
Eva Braun: Life with Hitler by Heike B. Gortemaker - I have always been fascinated by WWII and the Holocaust, so all I needed to see to know I wanted this book was Eva Braun. While I was perusing the rest of the books at the thrift store, another patron even asked if she could take a picture of this book so she could remember the title to look up (and presumably buy) later.
Sitting Bull by Peter and Connie Roop - This is a book from the In Their Own Words series, and I figure it could be an interesting way for the kids to learn about the life of Sitting Bull.
Sojourner Truth by Peter and Connie Roop - This is another book from the In Their Own Words series.
Lewis and Clark by George Sullivan - Yet another book from the In Their Own Words series. 
Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne - My daughter asked if we could get this Winnie the Pooh book "because it has paper in it." I don't let them buy board books at the thrift store anymore because we already have a lot and they can both read now. 
Diego Saves a Butterfly by Lara Bergen - This is a Go Diego Go beginner reader.
Toy to Toy by Tennant Redbank - A Toy Story 3 beginner reader.
The Kane Chronicles Survival Guide by Rick Riordan - I own at least one of the Kane Chronicles books, so I reckon this is a good addition to my collection.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Ultimate Guide by M.J. Knight (I guess) - I own several of the Percy Jackson books, so I needed this one.
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell - I fell in love with the cover of this book. I believe it's steampunk based on the cover. It just looks really intriguing to me.

And that's all the books that I picked up at my thrift store this week. This haul cost me a whopping $4.50 (almost broke the bank it did). 

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

*Review* Feels Like Falling by Jillian Ashe

Genre: Science Fiction
Published: June 15, 2017
Pages:

Synopsis

Kat lost everything when she was put in cryostasis. She woke up 500 years later than scheduled. Now she's part of a smuggling crew on the spaceship the Wolfegang where they take jobs that aren't always legal. Kat's just trying to blend in, but when the crew runs into some pirates she wonders exactly what she got herself into.

Review

I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection with the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review. 

So this is a stand-alone novella, and I feel like it does provide enough of the important information to get what's going on in this world, and having read future books in the series, I can say that there is nothing in this book that is necessary to know for future books. That being said, I would definitely recommend reading it before reading at least Far From Safe and Give Me Chaos if you are going to read those books too. This is not because you need to read it for those stories to make sense, but because you may spend an inordinate amount of your time reminding yourself that certain things haven't happened yet in Feels Like Falling if you read FFS and GMC first. I know, because it happened to me.

This novella is absolutely action packed. It feels like a lot happens in a very short amount of time, partially because the bulk of the story only spans like a day or so, but it doesn't seem like an unreasonable amount of action (if that makes sense.) All the action made the story move along at a brisk pace though, so I felt like I basically flew through the story, and I was hesitant to put it down because I needed to know what was going to happen next (even though I already knew the basic outcome). I just needed to know how they got there.

I would definitely recommend this book and series to people who like reading about strong female characters, although Kat hasn't really come into her own quite yet at this point (but she wakes up after being in cryostasis for 500 years and manages to do alright, so that's a bit of an achievement too.)

5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

My readers are what's important to me. Yes, I write for myself and the enjoyment of it, but I adore when a reader actually has a great time reading a story I slaved over. I don't write any particular genre, but I do stick to kick-ass female characters. I love writing about all types of differently strong women. My debut series is Young Adult Science Fiction. The first novella is free to see if you enjoy what I write.

I'm very involved with my fandoms, and love all things geeky and nerdy. I love connecting with my readers, so if you'd like to contact me just head over to my website :)

Jillian Ashe
jillianashe.com
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

*Review* The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Genre: Dystopian
Published: September 29, 2015
Pages: 308

Synopsis

Margaret Atwood puts the human heart to the ultimate test in an utterly brilliant new novel that is as visionary as The Handmaid's Tale and as richly imagined as The Blind Assassin.
     
Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around—and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their "civilian" homes.
     
At first, this doesn't seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one's head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan's life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.

Review

This is actually July’s book club book, but I’m pretending I’m on top of things and I’ve finished it a month early. It probably helps that I put a hold on it at the library and ended up getting it 2 weeks earlier than intended. I guess thank you to whomever had it right before me, and ended up finishing it in a day or two and returning it early.

First of all, when I read this I recognized the author but never thought to look up how I knew her. She’s the freaking writer of The Handmaid's Tale. I can be a bit slow at times. Anyway, holy shit balls. I just saw this was dystopian and assumed that meant it would be a YA. This is NOT a YA, and my life is a lie.

While reading this, I couldn’t help but think of Fallout. And that made me sad, because I messed up my leg and it really hurts to sit up. Which means I can’t actually play it, even though I totally bought the 4th one when it was half off last month. So this book brought up real life sadness.

But seriously, holy gawd damn.

I don’t even know how to word how I feel about this blasted thing. I know it was fascinating and compelling and hard to put down. It was much better than The Handmaid’s Tale, in my opinion. But it’s dystopian, and that means lots of sadness. And there is totally lots of it.

There’s also some amusing bits, mind you. Like… Elvis related amusing things. Also the ways of vindication of certain actions. But at the same time, the retaliation is also sad.

THIS BOOK IS JUST ENTIRELY REALLY VERY MUCH SADNESS.

And made me miss fallout 4.

Also it made me think about a lot of things. And I can’t wait to discuss this at book club next month.

4/5 Platypires - Joood - Hooligan

Buy the Book


About the Author

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.