This book is unlike any other YA book I’ve read in the past few years. We live in a world where we leave the fairy tales in the books or up on the movie screens. But what if magic was real in the world around us? After Ozzy’s parents are kidnapped, he is left to fend for himself for seven years. When he stumbles upon a mechanical raven his father built, his life begins to change. He starts to venture outside of his home in the middle of the woods. He discovers the beach, other humans, regular food (not in a can), and school. His desire to get out into the world lies more with his quest to find his parents. He ends up hiring a wizard that may or may not be magical. As they go deeper into this labyrinth of truth, you have to question if magic in our world is real…or not. BOOK REVIEW.
For those who feel stuck in a moment, Derek Rydall shows you how to get out of it. Sometimes when you are feeling like nothing is going right. Or maybe you are lost and need to find a way out. Wherever you are in your life, Rydall will teach you how to tap back into the great Source of abundance. If you want a life of abundance, start here. This goes beyond the law of attraction. You will learn to go within, to the permanent source of who we are and what we are to become. You can read more here: book review.
Before reading Gatsby, I began with “The Art of X-Ray Reading.” This book highlights 25 great works of literature, starting with Gatsby. I decided to read each of the works mentioned in X-Ray after reading each chapter. In the Gatsby chapter, he talks about the use of color and use of certain words that foreshadows the events that are about to occur. For instance, if you did not know how the book ends, or what was up with Mr. Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s use of the words imagination, wonder, and dream occurs frequently throughout the book, especially at the end of each chapter. He also describes the use of color and its symbolism throughout the book. For writers wanting to learn how to write better, he suggests reading certain sentences out loud, or even writing them down. It will help you become a better writer by churning the beauty of words around. For readers, X-Ray will help you have a deeper meaning in the material you are reading.
As for this book, I can’t believe I did not read this sooner. It is so beautifully written. Fitzgerald is a master of words. I sighed many times as I read this 180+ page book, because of the words, not because of the story. This is the way the love of words should come together. It is magical.[This post contains affiliate links.]
In curating my library, there is one thing that is certain, Neil Gaiman’s stories are ones that are meant to be kept in hardcover and never given away. In his epic novel, “American Gods,” we are introduced to Anansi (the spider god). In Anansi Boys, we are introduced to the trickster’s sons: Fat Charlie and Spider.
Fat Charlie Nancy’s life is boring. He works a dead end job in London where the job turnover is high. He is engaged to an incredible woman with a future mother-in-law out to get him. When he gets news that his father has died, he returns to his childhood home in Florida to bury him. This is when he learns he has a brother. The old lady tells him to tell a spider that he’s looking for his brother and his brother will show up.
So what does Fat Charlie do? He tells a spider. When Spider arrives, he is nothing like Charlie. He is a god, living it up and more than happy to steal the life his brother has, including his job and his girl. So when Charlie tries to get rid of his brother, he goes to the other gods for help…ones that don’t like his father (the trickster) so well. Some have a bone to pick and are willing to destroy the Anansi line in the process.
An excellent read.[This post contains affiliate links.]
A haunting tale of love, destiny and regrets. When Arlyn’s father dies, she decides to test fate by casting her own spell into the universe and declares that the next man that comes up the road is the man she is destined to marry. A young man, John, shows up at her home, lost. He stops to ask for directions, but all of a sudden feels tired and needs to lie down. She invites him in and he sleeps it off on the couch. When he awakens, he finds her naked in the kitchen and their fates become intertwined.
They marry and have a son. While the boy is attached to his mother, the father refuses to have anything to do with the child. He regrets marrying her, thinking it was all a big mistake.
They move into the infamous glass slipper in Connecticut that was built by John’s father. As their unhappiness grows, Arlyn begins to believe she made a mistake. Maybe she should have waited for the next man to come up the road. As her loneliness grows and her neighbor’s flirting with her husband increases, Arlyn turns to another man to fulfill what she is missing in her life.
After the birth of her second child, Arlyn discovers a lump in her breast. As the years pass, the family’s pain grows and the question of whether fate led John to love Arlyn or not is answered. There are some loves you can never let go of, no matter how much you push it away.[This post contains affiliate links.]
From the publishers that brought us the incredible FableHaven series by Brandon Mull comes a new YA series about a young potion master caught between the forces of good and evil. Gordy Stitser has many natural talents that are uncommon to most children, let alone elixirists. He is well advanced in his potion making skills, like his banished evil grandfather who is imprisoned in a cave in Greenland.
Gordy’s mother works for B.R.E.W. and is constantly traveling the world, teaching at conferences and selling products. Unbeknownst to him, that’s not what his mother really does. She is out trying to stop the bad guys from destroying the world.
When a mysterious package arrives from his Aunt Priss, trouble begins for the Stitser household. The bad guys arrive looking for the Eternity Elixir, and it’s up to Gordy to figure out on his own that these guys are not as nice or innocent as they proclaim, his father is under their spell, and he needs to keep them from getting the potion or risk the world falling apart.
This is a fun, new adventure for those looking for a new YA series to read. The beginning is a little slow as the author introduces the characters, but once the adventure really starts to take off, be prepared for an incredible ride.[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.]
One of my favorite poets is Lord Byron. When I first started reading this play, I had no idea this was about an event that may or may not have happened in Lord Byron’s life. Set in Sidley Park, we switch between the days of Byron and the current day. In Byron’s day, we meet Thomasina and her tutor, Septimus Hodge. What are they discussing? Carnal embrace. A foreshadowing of the main topic: Lord Byron.
In present day, Valentine (Bill Nighy starred in the first stage adaptation) discovers a book once owned by Septimus containing three letters. This book was discovered among Byron’s books. Valentine, working with author Hannah Jarvis, attempts to try to find the connection between Sidley Park, Septimus Hodge, Thomasina and Lord Byron. Was he in Sidley Park? Could what happened here be the reason why he fled England shortly afterward?
As the past unveils and the future tries to erroneously put two and two together, hilarity ensues.
Well written and extremely interesting. Who knew there was a society devoted to the life and works of Byron?[This post contains affiliate links.]
When I started reading this book, it reminded me a lot of “The Book Thief.” I read the letter from the publisher and understood why. The editor for “Anna and the Swallow Man” is the same person that edited “The Book Thief.” What did that tell me? I was in for a heartbreaking, but incredible story about World War II.
It’s 1939 in Kraków, Poland. Anna’s father is a linguistics professor who’s taught his daughter how to speak several languages fluently (like a native). These skills are all that he passes on before all of the intellectuals are purged from Poland.
Anna’s father leaves her with the local pharmacist one day, but never comes back. The pharmacist does not know what to do, so he tries to send her back home. But the doors are locked and her father is nowhere to be seen. She goes back to the pharmacy and sits outside, waiting for her father. That is when the Swallow Man appears.
He is a unique man. The birds are his friends. When he calls a swallow to him to keep Anna from crying, she is entertained and enthralled. He leaves her with a bit of advice to keep her alive and out of sight, but her intrigue of the Swallow Man leads her to follow him into the wilderness where she not only saves him, but they save each other.
Over the next few years, Anna and the Swallow Man walk all over, living in the woods. As the war deepens, they find themselves in the crosshairs of a battlefield where they must learn to survive among the dead with the enemies on all sides, and people that will turn them in if they only knew who the Swallow Man was and just how dangerous he was.
When I interviewed Kim Thúy (author of Ru and Mãn), she referenced Mia Couto’s “The Tuner of Silences” in her interview (“it feels like their organ to dream had been amputated from them.”). I immediately ordered the book. The only reason why is because Thúy wrote so beautifully and saw the beauty in words. I wanted to know what inspired her phenomenal works. This is a story of loss and pain, wandering through emptiness due to regrets and trying to live, yet not live at all because you are scared to face your truths. You will never forget Couto’s work.
Set in an abandoned animal reserve in Africa, Mwanito lives with his father, brother and former soldier. His uncle sometimes visits, bringing them supplies. Mwanito grows up believing that they are the only people left in this world. He is eleven years old before he sees a woman for the first time.
What he doesn’t know is that he is being forced to live in his father’s world…a place to forget and to be forgotten. Why they are there is the question. Are they in prison for something his father did? Or are they in a prison of his father’s own design?
Beautifully written. When we are introduced to the woman, Couto’s writing changes into something much more passionate that will make you sigh at the beauty of his words.[This post contains affiliate links.]
As a followup to Jen Sincero’s “You are a Badass,” she dives further into the concept of generating more money by bringing us “You are a Badass at Making Money.” This is the book I started 2018 reading. What I learned from this book is exactly what I’m seeing repeated in every book I’ve read about creating wealth and abundance. It’s all about changing your mindset and tapping into that wealth. Wealth is already available to each of us. We just have to learn how to access it. A lot of this has to do with facing our fears and taking a good hard look at how we view money.
For many people, we look at money negatively. We don’t see money as a means to an end. When we receive money, we are happy. When it is taken away from us, we are sad. When we don’t have any money, we are scared, fearful, and missing it like an ex-lover that has left us. Yet, money gets a bad rap. People claim it is the root of all evil, when in fact it is not money that is evil. Money is a medium. It is what we decide to do with money that determines whether the use of money is good or evil. In other words, it is the person using the money that is innately good or evil. We are the ones who decide that, not money.
By dealing with how we view and treat money, this book is designed to help us get to the root of why we are in the predicament we are in when it comes to money. It is up to us to deal with and change how we view money, especially if we want an abundance, rather than a lack of it.[This post contains affiliate links.]
Stop what you are doing and get this book. This book will help you get your shit together and believe in yourself. You will learn how to reconnect with yourself (and a higher power) to bring greatness into your life. It all starts with you and how you think and believe. This was the last book I read in 2017. The timing of it was perfect, because it helped me to formulate my goals and resolutions for 2018. This book helped me come up with my theme for the year: Love Yourself. This theme may have a little something to do with this book because she ends every single chapter with words aimed towards loving yourself. That is the key ingredient. Pick this book up. Follow what she says to do. Become inspired to start living your most awesomest life.[This post contains affiliate links.]
As we go further into this series, we start to learn more about the secretive vampire Mr. Crepsley. An old friend of Crepsley’s stops by the Cirque to deliver a message…there’s a bad vampire killing people in his hometown. He packs things up and brings Darren and Evra (the snake boy) with him. For Darren and Evra, this is a mini vacation away from the Cirque while Crepsley sneaks around town. He doesn’t tell the boys why they are there, while the bodies keep piling up. Darren assumes that the murderer is Crepsley and seeks to stop him by ending his life. Evra and Darren start following Crepsley, only to find that they’ve put their own lives in grave danger.[This post contains affiliate links.]
In Book 2 of the Cirque du Freak series, Darren Shan is trying to adjust to being a half-vampire (and hating every moment of it). The thought of drinking blood sickens him. The thought of drinking human blood repulses him. But if he is to survive, he must eventually drink human blood or he will die. Mr. Crepsley brings Darren to the Cirque so he can have friends, something he was missing from being alive. At the Cirque, Darren bunks with the snake boy and they become fast friends. They help out at the Cirque by doing chores and even feeding the Wolf Man.
One day, a young boy that lives near the camp shows up, wanting to run away with the circus. As much as they try to scare him off, nothing works. They also meet and befriend an activist, but things go awry when he sees the Wolf Man. Thinking that he was a caged animal, he attempts to set him free, not knowing just how deadly that can be.[This post contains affiliate links.]
It started off as a random, yet strange collection. I went from library book sales to second hand booksellers in search of a rather strange YA series called Cirque du Freak. The protagonist of the story purports to be the author, Darren Shan, a young boy turned vampire. But upon further discovery, Darren Shan is really Darren O’Shaughnessy, an Irishman living in Limerick. He created this 12 book series as his first children’s book series, following it up with the Demonata series. What I thought would be a series about a Circus turned into a tale not just about a circus, but about a boy who stole a spider and had to become a vampire to save his friend’s life. He became a half vampire, an assistant to a full-fledged vampire. They travel with the Cirque du Freak, where they are surrounded by a protective community of people that are not like anyone else. While the movie “The Vampire’s Assistant” was a good movie, the books, as always, are way better.
In this first book, we are introduced to Darren Shan. A normal teenage boy whose best friend is not such a good kid. They sneak out to the Cirque du Freak one night. Steve recognizes that one of the performers is a vampire. After the show, he approaches Mr. Crepsley and asks to become a vampire. Crepsley refuses because he sees the evil in Steve. Steve, feeling dejected, vows to become a vampire hunter.
Darren, meanwhile, is looking for his friend, but stumbles upon Mr. Crepsley’s magnificent spider and decides to steal her. This winds up being the biggest mistake he’s ever made, because it is this spider that changes his fate.[This post includes affiliate links.]
One of my favorite books of 2017. Jason Reynolds is a master storyteller and a man of words. “Long Way Down” may be a quick read, but the message lasts forever inside your heart. Will’s brother was just shot and killed. The rules of the hood (no crying, no snitching, and revenge) dictate that he must kill the person that did this to his brother. He thinks he knows exactly who killed him, so he takes the gun his brother hid away and decides to go after the suspected killer. As he takes the elevator for the short ride down, the lift stops on every floor. Spirits of people he knew from the past get on. People that were shot and killed. Friends. Playmates. Family. Father. In a matter of sixty seconds, Will has to decide if he is going to have his revenge. The people getting on the elevator are the ones shaping his decision.
Jason Reynolds is one of the best writers I encountered in 2017. Everything I’ve read by Reynolds so far is inspiring and very well written. He blows my mind with his stories and the lessons he is trying to teach the younger generation. “Long Way Down” was one of the few books I read in 2017 that made it to my curated bookshelves. This is a story you will keep locked away in your mind thinking this man Reynolds is something else.
I am not going to lie, I really loved this story. Sure, the book is for kids, but for this blogger who is always using social media, I learned a few things from these kids. I did not read the first book, but I plan on picking it up (as soon as I get through the other 87 books I have to review). This story follows two young girls, Millie and Alice. These two girls are a little different than most kids. For one, Millie is a bigfoot. Alice, on the other hand, knows there’s something different about her, but she doesn’t know what that is. Millie dreams of becoming a famous singer, so she enters an online contest and uses one of the girls at school to lip sync while she sings. She learns the importance of being more internet savvy to get votes (a little lesson for myself). But while she’s pursuing her dream, her friendship with Alice starts to wane. While Millie is busy trying to become the next big star, Alice starts looking for some truths of her own. This sends her down a very dangerous hole filled with government conspiracies and cover-ups.
An excellent and fun read. For parents, this is a book to read to your children. They are going to love it. Or if you’re like me and just want a little escape from reality, pick this book up. You’ll fall in love with the littlest bigfoot.[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.]
This book is one of the most important books you need to read. It is so well written and brings to light the stories of four people in Africa who are fighting extremism. These stories will enlighten you, rattle you, anger you, and make you very sad. In one story, a young girl wants to play basketball. That is all she wants to do. Yet, because she is a woman, she faces death threats. In another story, children are kidnapped and forced to kill their families and entire villages. They are victims forced to kill or be killed. What happens when they try to escape? What happens when they try to go home after what they’ve done? In another country, a man fights to end slavery and receives backlash from religion and the slave owners. And then there’s the story of the girls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram.
This book was one of the best books I read in 2017. Alexis Okeowo did an incredible job telling these four stories. It was so well written that I added this book to my curated library. For writers and journalists, pick this book up and follow Alexis’s narrative on how to cover and write a story. For readers, pick this book up for the written word and to discover the stories of incredible people seeking to change the world for the better. It will inspire you.[I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This post contains affiliate links.]
If you are stuck in life and trying to figure out how to get out of that rut, this is the book for you. This book helps you create a plan in your life. Instead of dreaming about doing X, Y and Z, this book helps you create actionable items to help you create the life you want. It also helps you focus on all aspects of your life that you need to concentrate on. You may be successful in one or two categories, while completely negligent in other areas of your life (like health, family, relationships, etc.). This book will help you focus on the things that matter as you put the pieces together and create a life plan that will work for you.
I highly recommend picking up this book. It is one of the pillars that helped me design my resolutions for this year and stick to them.
A coming of age book that will make you remember what it was like when you were a young teenager (if you’re an adult). Or if you are a teenager, you will relate to the growing pains of trying to figure life out. The reason why I decided to pick up this book was the whole part about movies and Hitchcock. Since I am trying to watch all of Alfred Hitchcock’s works, of course a book paying homage to the late director would catch my eye. The surprise is that even though Maisie and I share a love for movies, this story is not just about Saturdays with Hitchcock. Maisie is just like any average 12 year old trying to switch from being an innocent child to becoming a teenager. Hanging out with boys is no longer just hanging out. Now, there are crushes and love triangles. That boy you can’t stand is now hanging out with your best friend all of the time. Your best friend likes boys, and you don’t really care about that stuff…yet. You have a grandmother that is forgetting everything, and then there’s a grumpy old man that all of a sudden has a change of heart. Growing up is not easy, but the lesson in this story is that you will make it and grow into a better person. This is a very quick read. I read it in one sitting and highly recommend.
The Edge of Winter is a beautifully written tale mixing the present day with a unique part of World War II history in Rhode Island. Neve and her daughter, Mickey, live in a small coastal town in South County. Mickey’s love of birds has her risking her life to save a rare Arctic Owl. With the help of a local surfer, they head to a bird sanctuary run by an old World War II veteran, and the father of the ranger that patrols the beaches. As the richest man in town seeks to pull up the old German sub from off the coast to make it into a tourist attraction, Mickey and her new friend seek to stop it. Neve, meanwhile, struggles to pay the bills as she tries to get an art show off the ground of a mysterious painter native to Rhode Island. Her interactions with the ranger opens up her heart a little more as she lets love back in. The history of this sunken German sub is so unique and worth the read (if you can get past the love story). A relative of Rice was on the American sub that shot the German sub down, so she has very rich details to share of this moment in US history that they don’t teach in the history books.