Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Zombies: end credits

Thank you dear readers for joining me for this virtual book event. The zombies have cleared out... for now.

JOIN me for September Zombies in the Fall.

HEY, here is one last one for the month shuffling about...

Braineater Jones
by Stephen Kozeniewski
-Horror, Mystery, Zombie
Amazon | Goodreads

Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he's now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.

But Jones's investigation is complicated by his crippling addiction to human flesh. Like all walking corpses, he discovers that only a stiff drink can soothe his cravings. Unfortunately, finding liquor during Prohibition is costly and dangerous. From his Mason jar, the cantankerous Old Man rules the only speakeasy in the city that caters to the postmortem crowd.

As the booze, blood, and clues coagulate, Jones gets closer to discovering the identity of his killer and the secrets behind the city's stranglehold on liquid spirits. Death couldn't stop him, but if the liquor dries up, the entire city will be plunged into an orgy of cannibalism.

Cracking this case is a tall order. Braineater Jones won't get out alive, but if he plays his cards right, he might manage to salvage the last scraps of his humanity.

=====> Be prepared to meet this one later...

BUT, wait...

Zombies could be shuffling your way...

--~ Zombies Giveaway ~--

WIN a surprise box of zombies (includes two zombie books).

Open to US only.

Offer ends: June 12, 2016

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. COMMENT on any two zombie posts for this event (schedule).

2. LEAVE a comment on this post with your email address.


Contest has ended.



* image source: event badge - Once Upon a Zombie: Book One: The Color of Fear by Billy Phillips

* Ribbet was used for some graphics creations for this event.

* part of zombie month (schedule)

Zombie movies pt 2

Warm Bodies (2013)
Director/Screenplay: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich
-Comedy, Horror, Romance, Zombies | imdb | my rating: 5

After a highly unusual zombie saves a still-living girl from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion events that might transform the entire lifeless world.

=====> Touching zombie story done well with references to the classic Romeo and Juliet. Leaves you with hope for the zombies!

BASED on this book...

Warm Bodies
by Isaac Marion
Amazon | Goodreads

R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he is a little different from his fellow Dead. He may occasionally eat people, but he’d rather be riding abandoned airport escalators, listening to Sinatra in the cozy 747 he calls home, or collecting souvenirs from the ruins of civilization.

And then he meets a girl.

First as his captive, then his reluctant house guest, Julie is a blast of living color in R’s gray landscape, and something inside him begins to bloom. He doesn’t want to eat this girl—although she looks delicious—he wants to protect her. But their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight.

=====> So now, I really want to read this before book 2 comes out February 2017.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield
-Comedy, Horror, Zombies | imdb | my rating: 5

A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living.

=====> This was a third re-watch. And again, I enjoyed it as much as the first time. Loved the friendship theme. Since my last viewing, I have seen The Office (UK) tv series and appreciated the inside joke of seeing Martin Freeman and Lucy Davis in the scene they appear together.


* part of zombie month (schedule)

This Is The Story Of You by Beth Kephart (with giveaway)

This Is The Story Of You
by Beth Kephart

Find out more about this book and author:
Discussion Guide
Twitter @BethKephart

Just released: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: YA
Hardback: 264 pages
Rating: 3

First sentence(s):
Blue, for example.

Zombie sighting:
Scenes from a zombie movie. Nobody looking like themselves.
-chapter 5, page 135

On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But then a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, upending all logic and stranding Mira's mother and brother on the mainland.

Nothing will ever be the same.

A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira's home. A friend obsessed with vanishing disappears. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on—to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future. Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is about the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss.

My two-bits:

You know how there are some books you just don't GET. This was one of those for me.

The style of writing felt choppy and short in conveying the storyline. Because of this, it was hard to follow along with the various characters. I could not get a grasp of who was who.

However, there were a couple beautiful passages in regards to the different descriptions of the sea in various modes. Like the cover, the sea and its metaphor was a focus in the book which did capture my attention.

About the author:
Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of nineteen books, including Going Over, Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, and Small Damages. A National Book Award finalist, Kephart is also a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize. Kephart teaches workshops at many institutions, to all ages and creative nonfiction workshops at the University of Pennsylvania.

She is a popular keynote speaker and frequent contributor to the Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and many national journals.

--~ Blog Tour Giveaway ~--

WIN a copy of this book!

Open to US and Canada only.

Offer ends: June 12, 2016

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. ADD this book to your Want To Read list on Goodreads (here).

2. LEAVE a comment.

AND, leave your email.


Contest has ended - (winner is here)



* review copy courtesy of book tour sponsored by Chronicle Books

Monday, May 30, 2016

Excerpt: Watchmaker's Heart by Juli D. Revezzo

Watchmaker's Heart
by Juli D. Revezzo
-Romance, Steampunk
Just released: March 1, 2016
Amazon | Goodreads

For Miss Phoebe Lockswell, fashionable London tea parties and balls aren’t her style. Instead, she prefers to tinker tirelessly with a clockwork diffuser she’s built from scratch. If only she can get the invention to work on command, she might earn her way out of an arranged marriage to a repugnant member of the House of Commons.

London watchmaker Mortimer Kidd was brought up hard in the arms of an infamous London gang. Despite the respectability he strives for now, the gang leader is blackmailing him. When Mortimer sees Phoebe’s diffuser, he thinks he’s found a way to buy himself out of trouble. The brash Phoebe manages to steal his heart, however, before he can purloin her invention.

Will Mortimer’s unsavory past catch up to him before he convinces Phoebe of his devotion? Worse, once Phoebe learns the truth, will she ever trust him again?

(From Chapter Three)

This is from the morning after Phoebe returned from the Royal Mechanics Expo—the one her father forbid her from attending!

Phoebe opened her door a crack. Darkness still filled the hallway, except for a trickle of light from the low-burning lamps in the foyer downstairs. As she crept to the stairs, a snore sounded from her mother and father’s bedroom. Phoebe smiled to herself and continued on downstairs. In the kitchen, moonlight gleamed off the pots and pans hanging from hooks along the wall. She crossed to the highboy-style refrigerator and, spying a decanter of sherry, decided a sip or two couldn’t hurt. From the cabinets she pulled forth a glass. Satisfied, she carried her pilfered treasure to her room.

A sip of the sweet drink and she lit one more lamp and opened her toolbox, rummaging around in it as silently as possible. She soon set everything out she needed—screwdriver, small hammer, snips and pliers—unwrapped her diffuser, and set to work.

She ignored the clock, the sounds of milkmen and postmen coming and going as sunrise crept over her windowsill.

Yawning, she blinked at the brass goddess. She settled her eyepiece back to her eye, wishing she had gotten more sleep. Maybe the instrument would correct her sleepy vision. She hoped. She didn’t need to stab her screwdriver in her thigh. What she needed was more sleep. She’d spent half the night dreaming of her utter, abject failure at the Expo.

Mr. Mortimer Kidd inserted himself into her dreams, telling her to set the goddess right with—something. She couldn’t remember what, but even before the sun rose she was awake and determined to make another go of it.

A handsome bloke, that Mortimer, she thought. Maybe he’d come around one afternoon and give her a chance to show him how the diffuser worked. If it ever would function properly. She twisted another screw holding down a spring. The spring twanged as it finally came loose.

Larks twittered outside her window, answering the short, metallic refrain.

A brisk knock sounded on her door.

“Oh, dear God,” Phoebe grumbled.

“Good morning, Miss Phoebe!” the maid sang as she entered.

Phoebe glanced to the door, then turned her attention back to her work. A blanket draped over her lap for comfort as much as to catch any stray screw or cog, a screwdriver in one hand, she puzzled at her creation, trying to figure out why the mechanism wouldn’t budge. No matter she’d spent nearly an hour and a half twisting and tweaking, pulling out and putting parts back in, the brass goddess still wouldn’t dance when she turned its key.

“Go away,” Phoebe grumbled.

“But your tea, Miss,” the maid said, ignoring her plea and setting a silver tray with one of Mother’s blue willow teacups and a saucer on her nightstand.

“I’ve had something already, Giselle, thank you,” Phoebe said, though she suspected she needed more than a glass of sherry. The Exposition and the excitement of the train ride had left her groggy.

The maid ignored her, busying herself with choosing a dress.

“You have no choice!” her father’s deep voice boomed through the room.

Phoebe dropped her screwdriver and squeaked, “Father!”

“Where did you get to yesterday, Phoebe?” he roared. He entered the room, crossed his arms, tugging his dark jacket tight around his buff chest. Usually, she found him handsome, but not so when his dark eyes narrowed at her. “Did I give you permission to go anywhere?”

“I—I—” Phoebe damned herself for stammering. “I was with Cora!”

The maid tried to hide behind her wardrobe’s door. Phoebe thought she glimpsed periwinkle-colored Chinese silk in her hands.

Father’s anger drew her attention away from the hiding woman. “We checked with your dear friend Miss Smythe,” he said. Thick brows knitted together as he glowered, he snatched the dress from the maid’s hands, and threw it at her. “She told me exactly where you’d gone. Get dressed! Sir Dugard is meeting us for breakfast and I expect you to be there.”

Phoebe groaned and collapsed against the back of her chair. “Not him.”

“Five minutes!” Father surveyed her up and down and changed his mind. “Ten, if you wish to wash your face.” He stalked out the room, then. “Hurry up,” he roared as he slammed the door.

The maid pulled the blanket away from her lap. “Better hurry, Miss.”

Phoebe slid her feet to the cold floor and the maid poured a pitcher of cool water into a basin. Phoebe attended to her toilet, damning her father and his poor choice of suitor all the while. The maid proclaimed her “sparkling”—which Phoebe doubted—and handed her a pair of silk stockings, saying, “I don’t want to think what your father will do if you waste any more time.”

“He won’t do anything but scowl,” Phoebe said.

She stood and slid into a slip, then the maid shoved and squeezed her into her gown and tugged the laces tightly. Phoebe sucked in a deep breath on the pain at her waist. She had no time to get her footing before the maid shoved her down onto her vanity’s bench and ripped a brush through her hair.


“Serves you right,” the maid said. She picked up a complementary lilac ribbon and pulled it through her hair, winding it into a braid. “You knew your father was having breakfast with Sir Dugard. Shouldn’t have run away like you did.”

She’d thought that was lunch. Hoped they’d made the date for next doomsday. “I didn’t run away.” But she was considering it now.

“Be that as it may.” The maid tied off the bow. Phoebe made a face at her reflection. Behind her, the maid bent and plucked up her button-up boots. “You have an obligation, like anyone.”

Phoebe snatched up her hat, the one around whose brim she’d laced a pair of magnifying glasses a good friend and glassblower in Bond Street had helped her make. The maid stole it from her hands.

“You won’t need that. Come now, Miss,” the maid said pushing her toward the door. Phoebe snatched her hat again and set it back on her head, trying to step into her boot at the same time. Doubly-distracted, Phoebe hopped her way into the hall—only to stumble to a halt, right into her father.

He surveyed her ensemble and snorted. “That’ll do. See how ladylike you can be when you wish?” He tucked a loose lock of her hair away from her ear. “Smile. It suits you, whether you think so or not.”
She tried to do as Father ordered but she knew he didn’t tell the truth. She rather thought her smile always looked strangled.

Father dashed down the wide staircase ahead of her and she grumbled under her breath. “Five minutes. Just five minutes and I would’ve finished my work. Oh no! You can’t very well let me do as I please.”

Father paused to speak to his valet, and she entered the dining room. One of the family’s maids bustled around, laying china plates with various succulent foods on the oak side table, pouring cups of tea.

Phoebe saw that her brother, William, sat at the family dinner table, pouring cream into his tea, fighting back a yawn. He rose from his seat. “Good morning, Phoebs. Fancy seeing you home today.”

“I should say the same to you.” She placed her hand to the back of his head as she passed, tousling his warm brown curls.

“Oh, stop that, would you?” he said. One eye closed as if he couldn’t keep them both open, he peered at her, and took his seat. “I don’t need accosting, thank you.”

She flopped into her chair and plucked up the teapot.

“Father already said his piece, did he?” William said. “I thought he might see the paper.”

She froze. What paper? “I haven’t seen the newspaper today. Has something interesting happened?”

William’s lip twitched in a smile. “Are you sure you haven’t seen it?”

“Not at all,” she said. “I’ve only arisen this hour.”

“Liar. You’ve been up since before the larks.”

“And you arrived with them,” she said. “How is Sally? Or did you see Maggie, last night?”

William swept up a scone. “Yes, she’s the one who handed me the gossip sheet.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

“Is he?” Father said as he entered the dining room. He tossed a newssheet down on the table before him, and glared at Phoebe. “I’ve seen it, too. The reporter says he spotted you at the Royal Mechanics Society Expo, yesterday. In Southend-on-Sea.”

“And on the train to London, afterwards,” her brother added around a yawn.

Blast it! “Must be a case of mistaken identity,” she said, taking a biscuit from the china plate in the center of the table. “Cora and I went to the park yesterday.”

“That’s not what she said.”

Phoebe’s hand froze in mid-air. “Yes, you said you’d happened upon Cora. I’m shocked to learn she was out so early. She was as worn out as I, last night. The heat, you know. She probably didn’t know what she was saying.”

“Then my hours must be transposed. I thought I saw her last afternoon,” Father said. “She wished to tell me she couldn’t wait to hear about how the Royal Mechanics Expo went.” He ground his teeth, causing his dark beard to twitch. “I want to hear all about it too.”

“I can’t remember any Expo,” she lied. Cora, you are dead when I see you.

“Don’t see how you forgot,” her brother interjected. “Did you find anything interesting there?”

Phoebe narrowed her eyes, angling her head to see the story he pointed to. The word “Expo” stood out in bold letters above a sepia toned photograph of a crowded hall. Beneath that, a story about suffragettes and she briefly wondered if Cora might be attending some meeting tonight.

“A good question,” her father continued, his age-softened face turning red in an attempt to keep from screaming, she hoped. “I thought you took your tittering brass music box with you.” His glare said he knew already that she had.

“Really, Father,” she said, ripping a biscuit in two and planning to do the same to her dear friend Cora as soon as she saw her.

“After I expressly forbid you from showing that obscene thing to anyone!”

Phoebe buttered the biscuit, trying to think of how to save this situation and hoping for the best. “I don’t remember anything about an Expo. I do want to hear about your meeting with Sir Evans, though.”

“Young lady, I suspect you’ll have plenty of time to remember,” Father roared, “since you are to stay to our home for the next two weeks. You’ll have plenty of time to think, while you help your mother with her correspondence.”

Phoebe blinked. “Father, I protest—”

“Starting today,” he said.

“But I had plans.”

He poured tea into his cup, ignoring her. After an unbearably long silence he added, “I should ground you for the rest of your life. However, Sir Dugard is attending Miss Smythe’s party, so you must go.”

God spare her! Why must Dugard ruin the party for her? Maybe accepting Father’s punishment would be preferable. “Yes, sir.”

“He, along with several other eligible gentlemen,” Mother said as she entered, perfectly arranged in a fashionable silk morning gown, her long brunette hair piled up on her head in a bun, she exuded an air of elegance Phoebe envied. Mother and Father kissed, then she bestowed a kiss on her son and took her seat between them. “Between Miss Cora’s party and our dinner, next month, we can’t help but find someone to accept you, my sweet.”

Phoebe stabbed at a slice of ham. Let them try to find her a husband. She had no intention of accepting anyone, for her part. Not yet, at any rate. Least of all the corpulent Sir Dugard. Any punishment her father doled out would be preferable to spending time with Sir Fat Pig.

The butler entered the dining room then and Phoebe could’ve kissed him for interrupting. “Sir Dugard has arrived, sir,” he announced.

She groaned and dropped her head into her hands.

“Smile, my dear,” Father said. “He loves you, after all.”

“You love his money, is the truth of it,” she grumped.


About the author:
Juli D. Revezzo writes fantasy and romantic stories filled in with elements garnered from a lifetime love affair with magic, myth, witches, wizards, and fated lovers and legend. She is the author of The Antique Magic series and the Paranormal Romance Celtic Stewards Chronicles series, steampunk historical romance WATCHMAKER'S HEART, and short stories published in ETERNAL HAUNTED SUMMER, LUNA STATION QUARTERLY, among others. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

Find out more about this book and author:
Website | Newsletter | Facebook
Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr
Twitter @julidrevezzo


* courtesy of author

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Appetite by Sheila Grinnell

by Sheila Grinnell

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: May 17, 2016
Publisher: She Writes Press
Genre: Women's Fiction
Paperback: 328 pages
Rating: 3

First sentence(s):
There are two kinds of people in this world, Maggie Adler thought, those who eat when anxious and those who can't.

When Jenn Adler returns from a year in India, she has a surprise for her parents: a young guru from Bangalore whom she intends to marry. Her father, Paul, is wary of this “beggar” Jenn has brought home―who, he suspects, is conning his much-loved daughter―while her mother, Maggie, is frightened that this alien stranger will steal away her only child, her focus in life.

In the months leading up to the backyard wedding, Maggie is forced to reevaluate her virtues as she casts about for support, and Paul faces an unexpected threat at work―one that Maggie could help him meet, if he would only ask. But even with these distractions, the two parents are focused on one primary question: Can they convince their daughter she is making a terrible mistake before the wedding takes place?

My two-bits:

While I found the premise of this story interesting, I did not connect with any of the characters to care while reading. So, it was an okay kind of read for me.

The story is told from the viewpoints of two characters, Maggie and her husband, Paul. Each have their drama dilemmas apart from each other and the main one (regarding their daughter), but none really captured my interest.

However, it was good to see some character growth with Maggie towards the end with her willingness to get to know her daughter's life in India.

Got me thinking of being an in-law and what feelings I might have when/if that time comes for me.

About the author:
Born in a taxi in Manhattan, Sheila Grinell studied at the Bronx High School of Science, Harvard University, and the University of California, Berkeley. Towards the end of her forty-year career as a creator of science museums, she began to write fiction.

Appetite is her debut novel. She lives in Phoenix with her husband and dog.


* review copy courtesy of Summer Reading Challenge (here)

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson (with giveaway)

by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

Find out more about this book and authors:
Amazon | Goodreads
Discussion Guide

Website: Hannah | Twitter @hannahmosk
Website: Kat | Facebook | Twitter @katmankat

Just released: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: LGBTQ, YA
Hardback: 287 pages
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Okay, what the shit was that episode?

Gena and Finn would have never met but for their mutual love for the popular show Up Below. Regardless of their differences—Gena is a recent high school graduate whose social life largely takes place online, while Finn is in her early twenties, job hunting and contemplating marriage with her longtime boyfriend—the two girls realize that the bond between them transcends fanfiction. When disaster strikes and Gena's world turns upside down, only Finn can save her, and that, too, comes with a price. Told through emails, text messages, journal entries, and blog posts, Gena/Finn is a story of friendship and love in the digital age.

My two-bits:

Per the description for this book, this story is told through emails, text messages, blog posts, etc. So, lots of dialogue. In this format the read goes quickly with a fast pace which work just fine for the telling of this tale.

The friendship between the two characters struck me as a beautiful love (of a kind) online relationship.

It was also interesting to learn about being in a fandom and how it can affect your life.

Got me thinking of online relationships and about their value and worth in this day and age.

About the authors:
Hannah Moskowitz is the acclaimed author of numerous middle grade and young adult novels, including A History of Glitter and Blood. She lives in New York City.

Kat Helgeson writes young adult novels and lives in Chicago with her husband and a healthy preoccupation with fictional characters.

Hanna and Kat first met online in a fan fiction forum for the TV show Supernatural, and IRL at a fan con.

--~ Blog Tour Giveaway ~--

WIN a copy of this book!

Open to US and Canada only.

Offer ends: June 12, 2016

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. ADD this book to your Want To Read list on Goodreads (here).

2. LEAVE a comment.

AND, leave your email.


Contest has ended - (winner is here)



* review copy and giveaway courtesy of book tour sponsored by Chronicle Books

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

The Girl With All the Gifts
by M.R. Carey

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @michaelcarey191

Published: 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Post-apocalypse, Zombies
Hardback: 416 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Her name is Melanie. It means "the black girl", from an ancient Greek word, but her skin is actually very fair so she thinks maybe it's not such a good name for her.

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

My two-bits:

This is one of those smart zombie books with some beautiful - yes, beautiful passages.

There are two types found in this novel. The ones we all know and love that focus on feeding frenzies (brrraaaainnss) are referred to as hungries. And, the second type are a different kind that we start to learn about.

The story gets into life as the second version of zombies and proceeds to draw you into their plight. By the end you are not too quick to pull the trigger at these zombies.


* listened to the audio version

* fyi: movie version is set to release September 9, 2016 in the UK - looking forward to the US release

* part of zombie month (schedule)

Stacking the Shelves - 5.28.16

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!



Everyone Brave is Forgiven
by Chris Cleave
-Historical, WWII
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> Book Passage, Corte Madera, hosted a visit from author, Chris Cleave featuring his latest novel. Chris said that the book was based on letters between his maternal grandparents exchanged during WWII.

by L.S. Hilton
-Mystery, Thriller | Amazon | Goodreads

=====> Book Passage, Corte Madera, hosted a visit from author, L.S. Hilton featuring her latest novel. L.S. inspiration for this novel was the challenge of writing erotica tied in with past chick-lit related pieces she wrote in the past.

Freebie: for kindle

The Big Lead:
A Stella Reynolds Mystery, Book 1
by Libby Kirsch
-Humor, Mystery | (Amazon) | Goodreads

=====> Loved book 2 in this series and wanted to get this one to catch up.


From Owlcrate package (details & signup):
OwlCrate is a subscription service that sends you magical monthly boxes tailored to a chosen theme. Each OwlCrate will contain one new Young Adult novel, as well as 3-5 other bookish treats to help you get your nerd on. @owlcrate

MAY Box includes:
- Everland by Wendy Spinale and letter from author
- Gold flash tattoos with Everland theme
- Ring with The Infernal Devices trilogy theme by Sparks Emporium
- Pendant necklace - skeleton key by Crystal Compass Designs
- Nail wraps with steampunk theme
- Pin with steampunk theme by Elope
- Art print with Peter Pan theme by Creative Daffodil Studios

by Wendy Spinale
-Fantasy Retelling, Steampunk, YA | Amazon | Goodreads -enter giveaway (ends May 31)

Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders -- the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?

=====> Loved the theme for this box! Looking forward to reading a steampunked version of the Peter Pan world.

ALSO, unboxed the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge (details here) box for May.

MAY Box includes:
- First Comes Love by Emily Giffin (with bookmark)
- Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
- House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier
- The Assistants by Camille Perri
- Appetite by Sheila Grinnell
- One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Popsicle themed - erasers, ornament softie, tote bag
- Stickers - summer theme
- Candy treats

From BEA:

=====> I could not fit and carry all 60 books in my luggage from BEA. So, I mailed a couple boxes home. The one above barely made it. Note to self: use heavy duty cardboard or limit weight per box.

I will post the individual books over the next few Stacking Shelves along with BEA thoughts.

CHECK OUT the BEA speed dating guide to Great Book Club Picks for Fall/Winter 2016 (here)

OTHER things on my shelf: kinda book-related


=====> I started listening to this online audio serial story as I type. Episode one is currently free on their site. Episode two is free on Soundcloud (here). The rest of the series is available with a subscription rate. I am enjoying the story so far, but not sure if I want to subscribe especially since the book version comes out in July. IF you are currently a subscriber to this audio venture I would be curious to hear your thoughts on it.

FYI: you can also read the text version online for Episode one

Based on this book...

by Julian Fellowes
Release date: July 5, 2016
Amazon | Goodreads

Julian Fellowes's Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London's grandest postcode. Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is people by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond's new legendary ball, one family's life will change forever.

AND watched: in theatre

The Idol (2015)
Ya Tayr El Tayer (original title)
Director/Writer: Hany Abu-Assad
Screenplay: Sameh Zoabi
Starring: Tawfeek Barhom
-Biography, Comedy, Drama, Palestine | imdb | my rating: 5

Mohammed Assaf, an aspiring musician living in Gaza, sets a seemingly impossible goal: to compete on the program "Arab Idol."

=====> Lovely movie that captures beauty amongst destruction - AND most of all hope.

Now binge watching YouTube videos of Mohammed during his Arab Idol competition in 2013.
THAT VOICE! It can give the tingles and can make you get up and dance.

Currently flipping through:

Fast Company
June 2016 magazine issue | Website

=====> I picked this up to read about Lilly Singh of ||superwoman|| - YouTube star. She made it as part of the top 100 Most Creative People in Business. I love her videos and vlogs. She always manages to get a smile or hearty laugh from me.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Big Interview by Libby Kirsch

The Big Interview
by Libby Kirsch

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon | Amazon UK
Twitter: @LibbyKirsch

Just released: March 31, 2016
Publisher: Sunnyside Press
Genre: Chick-lit, Humor, Mystery
Rating: 5

A Stella Reynolds Mystery series:
The Big Lead
The Big Interview
The Big Overnight - release date: November 2016

First sentence(s):
"Stella Reynolds. Hmm. You know it's weird, I thought that we were replacing our ugly reporter, but you're actually kind of pretty. Let's see… The young, fit, oddly smiley man shuffled things around on his messy, mahogany desk.

Stella's Saga Continues!

The perfect book for fans of the laugh-out-loud lines in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series combined with the who-done-it page turning style of a Sue Grafton mystery.

TV reporter Stella Reynolds signs with a new station, excited to move to a bigger city for a better job. When she arrives in Bristol, Virginia, though, she finds a sexist, mean boss, unfriendly coworkers, and a town in love with a sport she’s never even watched—NASCAR!

Before she can unpack her bags, Stella is drawn into an investigation when a driver is killed in a fiery wreck on the track. Experts call his death a tragedy, but Stella has insider information that the accident is anything but. With a slippery ex-fiancee, an angry father, and a nosy neighbor, you’ll be laughing on one page and gasping on the next. If all goes according to plan, the facts will be revealed during an epic live Big Interview. But when does anything ever go according to plan?

The Big Interview is a standalone book in the Stella Reynolds Mystery Series. If you like a great mystery peppered with laugh out loud moments and cringe-worthy catastrophes, Libby Kirsch's The Big Interview is for you. Buy Libby Kirsch's book today, and see how the final big interview goes down when the cameras go live.

My two-bits:

Grabbed me at the go!

The story starts out with a death. But before the death the character is built up to be so likable/lovable that it is a shock when it happens. Similar to that feeling when watching Game of Thrones and a favorite character gets off-ed.

But first let me say, I jumped into this book without reading book one and was thoroughly taken with the characters. I plan to take advantage of the free download of book one (here) available during the book tour.

This book is very entertaining with a tasty chex mix of humor (kept me chuckling), mystery (remained so until the end) and a touch of romance (for more than one couple). It will take you on a fun adventure into the world of race car driving and the TV coverage that support it.

The side character, Janet, is a hoot! She is one of those strong live-out-loud characters. She is also a partner in Stella's sleuthing and I hope continues to make her way into future books in this series.

Side note: Makes me want to watch Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (imdb) starring Will Ferrell.

About the author:
Libby Kirsch is an Emmy award winning journalist, with over ten years experience working in TV newsrooms of all sizes.

She draws on her rich history of making embarrassing mistakes on live TV, and is happy to finally indulge her creative writing side, instead of always having to stick to the facts.

Libby lives with her husband, children and soon (don't tell the kids yet!) a puppy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She doesn't know what she was thinking.


The Big Lead:
A Stella Reynolds Mystery, Book 1
by Libby Kirsch
kindle version is FREE during book tour (here) | Goodreads

The Big Lead was chosen for a Publishers Weekly review (here)

Novice reporter Stella Reynolds, the endearingly human heroine of Kirsh’s fiction debut, finds her first job in the TV industry with the Fox affiliate in sleepy Bozeman, Mont. Stella’s appreciative of the opportunity, but she can’t help having second thoughts when she learns how small the staff and resources of her station are. Stella’s first achievement of significance is interviewing river guide Bill James following his arrest for burglarizing a house and trying on the owner’s underwear. After learning that James has an alibi, Stella manages to get the sheriff to agree to dismiss the charges, but that proves to be just a temporary victory when James becomes the prime suspect in the stabbing murders of the burglary victim and her mother. The truth, Stella suspects, is much more complex, and she holds nothing back in pursuing it. The author does a good job of eliciting sympathy for Stella by depicting her embarrassing stumbles on her first days. (BookLife)


* review copy courtesy of book tour sponsored by HCL Book Tours and Author Services

May 23rd
Steamy Book Momma - Book Promo Post
Book Lover Worm - Book Review
Living Life With Joy - Author Q&A
May 24th
Judging More Than Just The Cover - Author Q&A
The Belgian Reviewer - Book Review
Hello Beautiful Book Blog - Book Excerpt
May 25th
One Book at a Time - Book Promo Post
Book Lover in Florida - Book Review
Hello...Chick Lit - Book Review
May 26th
The Bookworm Lodge - Book Promo Post
Fervently Curious - Book Review
May 27th
Love Sex and Other Dirty Words - Author Guest Post
vvb32 reads - Book Review -this is the post ;-)
Chick Lit Central - Book Review

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts - 5.26.16

Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts
hosted by (un)Conventional Bookviews (details)

A meme to share some food and/or drink quotes found in current reads.


The Assistants
by Camille Perri
-Humor, Satire, Women's Fiction, New York
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

A wry and astute debut about a young Manhattanite whose embezzlement scam turns her into an unlikely advocate for the leagues of overeducated and underpaid assistants across the city.

Tina Fontana is the hapless but brazen thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making his reservations for restaurants she’d never get into on her own and pouring his drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, she’s bored, broke, and just a bit over it all.

When a technical error with Robert’s travel-and-expenses report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she struggles with the decision: She’s always played by the rules. But it’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation—and for her it would be a life-changer...

The Assistants speaks directly to a new generation of women who feel stuck and unable to get ahead playing by the rules. It will appeal to all of those who have ever asked themselves, “How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?”

"And look at this." She reached across the floor to a copy of Millennium Foodie and turned to a page she'd marked with a glitter pen. "This is the FleurBurger 5000," she said. "It's a hamburger they have in Las Vegas that contains foie gras and a special truffle sauce. It's served with a bottle of Château Petrus, poured into Ichendorf Brunello stemware. It costs five thousand dollars, but we'll be able to afford it!"
-chapter 12, page 114

Books and Burgers:
at The Counter
Corte Madera, CA | website

=====> Can't afford a $5,000 burger so went out and got "the classic" burger at the Counter instead. Love burgers and usually must have one at least once a month ;-)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday - 5.25.16

Waiting on Wednesday
sponsored by Jill at Breaking the Spine (details)


I'm waiting for...

A Creepy Coloring Book for the Coming Global Apocalypse
by Juscelino Neco
-Coloring Book, Zombies
Release date: June 21, 2016
Amazon | Goodreads

Escape everyday life and practice your mindfulness with this horrifying and hilarious adult coloring book for zombie fans everywhere!

Forget about depictions of the tranquility of nature and soothing undersea vistas—these intricate, detailed, horrifying, and hilarious line drawings of the zombie apocalypse are ready for you to bring to life! Relieve stress, practice your mindfulness, and discover your creative side by focusing your undead survival skills and filling these exquisite pages with color. Make your mark—inside or outside the lines—as you navigate this humorous and brave new world filled with the most bizarre creatures this side of Armageddon!

=====> Something fun and different than the usual frou frou coloring books.


* part of zombie month (schedule)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Assistants by Camille Perri

The Assistants
by Camille Perri

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @CamillePerri

Just released: May 3, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: Humor, Satire, Women's Fiction, New York
Hardback: 288 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
You've probably heard of my former boss. And even if you haven't heard of him, he has influenced you, I promise.

Zombie sighting:
He hurled me off him like I was a ravenous zombie. "You're insane," he said. "And I think you need to go."
-chapter 24, page 223

A wry and astute debut about a young Manhattanite whose embezzlement scam turns her into an unlikely advocate for the leagues of overeducated and underpaid assistants across the city.

Tina Fontana is the hapless but brazen thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making his reservations for restaurants she’d never get into on her own and pouring his drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, she’s bored, broke, and just a bit over it all.

When a technical error with Robert’s travel-and-expenses report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she struggles with the decision: She’s always played by the rules. But it’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation—and for her it would be a life-changer...

The Assistants speaks directly to a new generation of women who feel stuck and unable to get ahead playing by the rules. It will appeal to all of those who have ever asked themselves, “How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?”

My two-bits:

Loved it!

This contemporary piece brings elements of the plight of women in the work world especially those just starting out.

Friendship and female bonding for the sake of a common goal play important roles in creating such likable characters. One cannot resist following along in their antics and schemes.

Also, I enjoyed some arm-chair traveling as New York was definitely a character in this story.

Tickled by references to hamburgers.


* review copy courtesy of Summer Reading Challenge (here)

Zombie movies

Night of Living Dead (1968)
Director: George A. Romero
Screenplay: George A. Romero, John A. Russo
Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman
-Drama, Horror, Mystery, Zombies | imdb | my rating: 5

A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.

=====> This classic zombie flick gets into the group survival issues that come up when strangers are forced to fight for their lives. I was kinda shocked with the ending. Sad.

I wanted to re-watch this film as I did not remember much about it. I first saw it when I was a kid and I think it was on tv (censored). Interesting to note that there were some shots of naked zombies shuffling around.

Contracted (2013)
Director/Writer: Eric England
Starring: Najarra Townsend, Caroline Williams, Alice Macdonald
-Drama, Horror, Thriller, Zombies | imdb | my rating: 5

A young girl contracts what she thinks is a sexually-transmitted disease - but is actually something much worse.

=====> Oh, ewww. Quite an extreme message on STDs. Loved the gradual transition from human to zombie.


* part of zombie month (schedule)

Monday, May 23, 2016

The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier

The House of Bradbury
by Nicole Meier

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @nmeierwrites

Just released: May 10, 2016
Publisher: SparkPress
Genre: Women's Fiction
Paperback: 280 pages
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Mia stood outside the house and exhaled.

Mia Gladwell’s life is going nowhere. The media has skewered her debut novel, her fiancé Carson, a successful Hollywood producer, has jumped ship, and now she’s living in her sister’s carriage house―unattached, unemployed, and uninspired. Then she learns that the Los Angeles estate of iconic author Ray Bradbury is up for sale, and she feels an immediate urge to buy the wonky old house, convinced that moving into the late author’s home will inspire her to create her best work yet.

Life in the Bradbury house is not what Mia imagined, however. Soon after moving in, to fulfill a debt she owes to Carson, she agrees to take in a pill-popping young actress as a tenant, and suddenly she finds herself in a balancing act between her needy ex, an unpredictable starlet, and her disapproving sister, who’s keeping a close eye on her. Add to this a series of mysterious sketches left at her doorstep by a stranger, and Mia’s life is more complicated than ever. As she searches for clues, though, Mia discovers insights into her own life. Maybe moving into Bradbury’s house was a big mistake―but maybe not.

Zombie sighting:
All Mia could do was lend an ear and usher a zombielike Zoe off to bed.
-chapter 15, ARC

My two-bits:

From the perspective of a writer (the protagonist), the appreciation of another writer, Ray Bradbury, shines through in this novel.

As a book reader, I always find it fascinating to learn about a writer's process and sources of inspiration. And, this book provides that as well as a peek into the film-making industry.

I found this book to be a gentle read that gets into a little growth of the writer by way of sister-bonding and friendships. Although a touch of romance is included, it is not a focus.

FYI: for cat lovers, a cat is featured

About the author:
Nicole Meier is a native Southern Californian who pulled up roots and moved to the Pacific Northwest. She works as a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She lives in Oregon with her family. The House of Bradbury is her first novel.


* review copy courtesy of and part of Summer Reading Challenge (here)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - 5.21.16

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!



The Excellent Lombards
by Jane Hamilton
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> Book Passage, Corte Madera, hosted a visit from author, Jane Hamilton. She mentioned that the main character, Mary Frances, is partly inspired by the character Frankie from Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. She said her quiet novel is filled with conflict and tension amongst characters in farm living.

Author, Gail Tsukiyama, was also on hand in conversation with Jane. She is currently working on a novel that is based in Hawaii.

For Review:

Pasta Wars
by Elisa Lorello
-Humor, Romance
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

The Hawkweed Prophecy
by Irena Brignull
-Fantasy, YA
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson
courtesy of publisher -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

Freebie: for kindle

The Mirror and the Maze:
A Wrath & the Dawn Short Story
by Renée Ahdieh
-Fantasy, Short Story, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

From BEA:

=====> What a treat it was to find BookSparks at BEA (here). Loved meeting Robert and Janay :-)

Thieving Weasels
by Billy Taylor
courtesy of publisher at BEA -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> Fantastic fun! I inhaled this one on the plane ride home! This was one of a few books I was able to stow in my luggage on the flight home. I am waiting to receive a couple boxes of books that I shipped to myself from Chicago before posting that haul received from the fabulous publishers at BEA.

=====> Various tote bags were handed out as swag.

Pictured above left to right:

Penguin: Riverhead Books - this colorful one is my favorite! I quickly started using it the whole time at BEA. It is for the new release, The Mothers by Brit Bennett.

Hachette: Grand Central Publishing (Forever) - Book lovers never go to bed alone. This red tote had the best blurb on it ;-)

HarperCollins: Epic - Book Shimmy Second best blurb.

Quirk Books - For Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - looking forward to its movie release in September.

Scholastic - I Read YA.

Random House - Cute one for Penguin Problems by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith.

Chronicle Books - This is a handy one that folds up neatly into the size of a pocket pack of tissues.

AND watched: in theatre

Classmates (2016)
Director: Shoko Nakamura
Starring: Kenji Nojima, Hiroshi Kamiya, Hideo Ishikawa
-Anime | website | my rating: 5

Rihito Sajo is an honor student who enrolled into his high school with a perfect score on the entrance exam. Hikaru Kusakabe is in a band and popular among girls. They are “different kind of guys”, who would have never crossed paths.

One day, they started talking to each other at the practice for their school’s upcoming chorus festival. After school, the two meet regularly, as Hikaru helps Rihito to improve his singing skills. While they listen to each other’s voice and harmonize, their hearts start to beat together.

Their feelings for each other slowly elevate, then peak when least expected.

Goofy yet innocent, Hikaru directly talks about his feelings towards Rihito. Hesitant at first, but Rihito gradually opens up his heart to Hikaru.

Two adolescent boys – being perplexed about not only about each other, but also about themselves – struggle and get confused; however, they eventually get to understand each other.

As they start to think about college and their future, what comes to their mind in order to move forward…

=====> Sweet romance and can get you curious about the Yaoi genre if you don't already know about it.

AND watched: in theatre

The Huntsman (2016)
Winter's War
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Writers: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin, Evan Daugherty
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt
-Action, Adventure, Drama | imdb | my rating: 4

As a war between rival queen sisters Ravenna and Freya escalates, Eric and fellow warrior Sara, members of the Huntsmen army raised to protect Freya, try to conceal their forbidden love as they combat Ravenna's wicked intentions.

=====> Action packed fairy tale that I liked for the special effects.

A Bigger Splash (2015)
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Screenplay: David Kajganich
Based on story by: Alain Page
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson
-Crime, Drama, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 5

The vacation of a famous rock star and a filmmaker is disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter.

=====> A dark moody story despite the beautiful, bright and sunny setting. Despite attractive characters in this film they are quite unlikable yet fascinating to watch. I cringed watching Ralph and Dakota's character interactions because you know that they were up to no good. Hence, they played their parts well.

The Lobster (2015)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writers: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz
-Comedy, Drama, Romance | imdb | my rating: 4

In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

Oscar nominated for Original Screenplay.

Certainly gets the conversation going on the state of singledom.

Hotel Manager: Now have you thought of what animal you'd like to be if you end up alone?
David: Yes. A lobster.
Hotel Manager: Why a lobster?
David: Because lobsters live for over one hundred years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats, and stay fertile all their lives. I also like the sea very much.

Currently flipping through: from the library

M.F.K. Fisher's Provence
by M. F. K. Fisher and Aileen Ah-Tye (photos)
Amazon | Goodreads

Fanciful breads
...the shop always smelled right, not confused and stuffy but delicately layered: fresh eggs, fresh sweet butter, grated nutmeg, vanilla beans, old kirsch, newly ground almonds...

=====> Love the various shots of Aix-en-Provence - makes me want to revisit the place.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

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