In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

26 December, 2016

Bout of Books 18

I am planning on taking part in the Bout of Books 18th round. It runs from 1/2/2017 - 1/8/2017. This week long read a thon will give me a chance to start the year off reading strongly. This will be the first year that I will be working as well as particulating in the read a thon so i will have a mix of picture books along with my commute and fun reading. 

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

01 November, 2016

Book Review: Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland

title: Luncheon of the Boating Party
Author: Susan Vreeland
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 2008

There are paintings throughout history that are very well known by everyone. Pierre August Renoir's painting Le Déjeuner des canotiers also known as The Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of those paontings that helped make the Impressionism movement as well known as it is today. Author Susan Vreeland has taken this painting and the creation of it and written a narrative that takes readers back to Paris in the 1880's when Renoir undertook the large scale creation of a painting that he envisioned showing in the yearly salon. In this painting, he had fourteen friends model for him on the terrace of the restaurant La Maison Fournaise. Bt including a mixture of men, women, and high society as well as working class men and women in his painting, Renoir showed the changing ideals of Parisian society. The author  draws her readers into the life of Renoir and life in Paris after the Prussian War in a beautiful and engaging way.

I adored this book, personally. I grew up in a home that adored the Impressionists. My artists father had prints of many of Monet's paintings hanging up. I spent much time as a child in the Impressionist gallery of the Art Institute as a child and teenager looking at the paintings on display by Monet, Renoir, Mary Cassualt, Georges Seurat, Édouard Manet, and Edgar Degas. I still have a love of this art movement and it's influence on future movements such as the post impressionists and the Neo-Impressionists.

 I started with an audio copy which has a wonderful reader. However,  and I I ended up switching to a print copy as I was having trouble keeping characters and events in mind and the book let me easily flip back to remind myself of events and people. I found this to be an interesting narrative of the composition and execution of this painting. I really feel like I got a glimpse into Renoir's life and mind while he was painting.

01 October, 2016

Award winning SFF reading challenge

Shaunesay at The Space Between is hosting a reading challenge to read science fiction and fantasy award winning books. I plan on taking part in this challenge. I am not sure what books I will read yet. I am currently looking at award lists and seeing if any of my TBR pile are included on any of them.  Elengil and I recently started the Chronicals of Amber series by Roger Zelazny as six of the books in the series are award winners I am listing them on my award winning books to be read list.

Books to read:

Books finished reading:

10/1/2016 Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelanzy - Mythopoic Fantasy Award (1971). I started this challenge a little early unknowingly. A few days ago, Elengil and I started listening to this during our evening commute home. We finished it early today and are continuing the series. 

10/1/2016 The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny - Mythopoic Fantasy Award (1973). This is book two in the Chronicles of Amber series. Just as fantastic as book 1, we learn more about the magic and the warring factions of the family members wanting to claim the throne. 

10/7/2016The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny - Locus Award for Best Novel (1977) This part of the story had the feel of a Greek tragedy. At one point E turned to me and said that he thought one of the characters would end up being Corwin's father in disguise. He felt the story was taking the narrative of the king wants to figure out which of his children is the best choice for succeeding him by befriending him while in disguise.  We start to see how Corwin's experiences and long stay on the Shadow Earth have changed him as a person. The more he remembers of his past life as a prince of Amber the more he disagrees with some of his past actions and decisions. 

10/9/2016The Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny Locus Award for Best Novel (1979) This is the fifth book in the Chronicals of Amber and the last of the Corwin arc. The conclusion includes a war between Amber and Chaos which has been building throughout the prior books. It ended in a way that felt like a cliffhanger even though I know that the series continues with a new narrator.

10/11/2016 - Trumps of Doom by Roger Zelazny - Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (1986) - The Trumps of Doom is the sixth book in the Chronicles of Amber. It is also the first book in the Merlin cycle. Narrated by Merlin, son of Corwin who has been raised in the courts of Chaos as well as Amber. Merlin is now living in San Francisco in the shadow Earth his father had called home, and every year on April 30 someone tried to kill him. This time his girlfriend Julia ends up dead and her death, along with a pack of strange trump cards sends him into Shadow and ultimately Amber trying to track down the person responsible.

10/21/2016 - Sign of Chaos - by Roger Zelazny Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (1988) This is book 8 of the Chronicles of Amber. Merle has been perused through shadow by unknown enemies. He is trapped in an Alice in Wonderland world - a bar with the Mad Hatter serving and the Cheshire Cat grinning malevolently. In a dramatic escape from a monstrous Jabberwock, Merle embarks upon a fantastic adventure, leading him back to the Court of Amber and finally to a confrontation at the Keep of Four Worlds. At the keep he learns some secrets that point him back towards the courts of Chaos and his destiny.

16 September, 2016

Reading updates

At the end of the Bout of books read a thon I started a Harry Potter reread and finally finishing the series. I have gotten in the habit of posting reviews twice a week over the summer. However I think I may do an altogether post with all 7 books when I finish reading them. I am on book seven now so maybe in the next week or so. 

I think it will beggars to review a series that is already so well known, but we will see. 

06 September, 2016

Book Review: Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

Title: Lemonade Mouth
Author: Mark Peter Hughes
Publisher: November 11, 2008
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Lemonade Mouth is the story of five misfit 9th graders who meet in detention. in a moment of goofing off while the teacher monitoring the detention session is out of the room they discover an affinity for music. Persuaded by that same teacher, Stella, Olivia, Mo, Charlie and Wen form a band that is eclectic and good. On their way to becoming a cohesive group they each battle their own challenges. Stella compares herself against her geniuses of a mother and sister and sees hersekf as dumb rather than the wave making, trouble making, thought provoking personality that she has. Mo struggles with life as a first generation Indian-American girl. Her family wants her to live by their traditional roles for girls while she wants to be a normal American teen. Olivia struggles with being an introvert with a secret about her parents which she believes will drive friends away when they find out. Charlie talks to the personality he attributes to his twin brother who died as an infant. Wen struggles with a one sided attraction to his father's new girlfriend and struggles with the idea of his family changing.

What I loved about this book was how the story was told. it alternated through the viewpoints of the five members of the band as well as a few fans and friends of the five. We really get to see how these five very different teens are thrown together and form very close ties of friendship. Their music lets the teens stand up against the oppression that they feel as misfits and musicians in a school that has changed it's focus to the athletes due to a corporate sponsorship to gain money to finish building the new gym. They begin to build other friendships outside of the group, and help their classmates see past the divide of popularity.

I read this book after seeing the Disney movie based on it. While I really enjoyed the movie I adored the book. This is one of those books that every preteen and young teenager should read as it portrays the struggles and development of ideals that they will each face as they enter high school. I also found myself wanting tunes to go along with the lyrics of the songs that Lemonade Mouth sings in the book.

01 September, 2016

Book Review: Dead Sexy by Tate Hallaway

Title: Dead Sexy
Author: Tate Hallaway
Series: Garnet Lacey #2
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2007

Garnet Lacey has been on the run for a year. The previous Halloween,  her coven had been attacked by members of the Order of Eustace, a witch hunting order sanctioned by the Vatican. Garnet arrived late to their gathering to find all the other members murdered. Garnet escaped only by calling the Goddess Lilith into her, allowing the Goddess to control her body and take vengeance. With help from her ex boyfriend, the vampire Daniel Parrish bodies were disposed of and Garnet fled Minneapolis for Madison, Wisconsin.

When FBI agent Gabriel Dominguez shows up at the bookstore Garnet works at several days before the anniversary of the murders Garnet panics. She thinks she is being looked for as a suspect for the events that night. resorting to Magic to get Dominguez to listen to her, Lilith adds an oomph to the spell that results in unexpected results. Add in that Garnet's current boyfriend Sebastian, who is also a vampire, is jealous of her continued friendship with Parrish bringing relationship problems to the forefront. On top of everything else, there is a voodoo queen killing students from the University of Wisconsin and turning them into zombies to attend to.

There is so much to do before Halloween. Can Garnet prove her innocence and that she was under the control of Lilith and that her actions of the year before were self defense or will she end up in jail for murder? Can she stop the woman who is turning the student population of U.W. Madison into her zombie slaves? Can she complete the unfinished business between herself and Parrish to get Sebastian back in her life?

I picked this up last fall from a local little free library because of the cover and the back blurb. I was sucked into the book. While it is the second book in the series, it stands on it own well. It was fast paced, and full of magic, romance, and mystery. I'm a sucker for gothy, witchy characters and Garnet Lacey fits those parameters to a T. I thought it the perfect fun slightly fluffy book to read on a summer's day off and finished it in one sitting.  I'm looking forwards to picking up the third book in the series which has just jumped to the top of the TBR pile.

30 August, 2016

Book Review: The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby

Title: The Clockwork Three
Author: Matthew Kirby
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 2010

Three children in a mysterious American city on the coast find their lives intertwined together by strange happenings. As they develop friendships with each other they come to discover that they need to work together to help each other with the problems that plague their lives.

Giuseppe, is an Italian orphan who was bought from his uncle and taken from his home in Italy and his siblings to work as a street musician for a padrone named Stephano. As one of Stephano's "wards" Giuseppe busks on different street corners throughout the city, playing a worn fiddle and collecting coins that are brought back to Stephano every night. It has been six years since he was brought from Italy, and he wants to return to find his brother and sister who had been left with his uncle. But he has no way to get a boat ticket as they cost more money than he can make and the docks are paid by off by the padrones. One day he finds a green violin floating in the wreckage of a cargo ship and after playing it he comes up with a plan. But he has to keep the violin secret from Stephano to avoid it being taken from him and given to another of the padrone's street musicians.

Frederick  is also an orphan. Rescued from life in an orphanage and working in a cloth weaving  factory by chance. He is apprenticed to the elderly Master Branch, a guild master clock maker. He is only thirteen but has dreams of completing his journeyman's project and becoming the youngest journeyman clock maker in the guild. He is secretly building a clockwork man in the basement of his master's shop, and has completed the body but does not know how to start fabricating the head.

Hannah works as a maid in the ornate hotel her father helped build. She has left school in order to support her family after her father becomes bed bound after suffering a stroke. On the day that she overhears the head of maids and the head staff keeper talking about a hidden treasure she is catapulted from the position of an ordinary room maid to the personal maid of a wealthy and mysterious Madame Pomroy, a guest of the hotel. As she is working for Madame Pomroy she is given the opportunity to experience things she had only ever dreamed of doing like visiting the opera for a performance. When her father falls ill with an infected bedsore the doctor wants to amputate his leg but says that there is an expensive medication that can help the infection. Can Hannah find the money to pay for the medicine?

As events between the three young teenager's lives start to mesh together they form a friendship. The three need to learn to trust each other to overcome the danger's that lurk before them. Can they successfully navigate the adventures that take them through the city and into the wild park at it's center while staying true to themselves and the beliefs that they hold dear to themselves?

The copy of this book that I read is an advanced reading copy that I picked up from a local little free library. From the moment I started reading I was transported to this nineteenth century city and found myself engrossed in the story of the three children. I loved the book and read it in one sitting. The way that the city and the wilderness of McCauley's park were written were so realistic and engrossing.

I also loved the addendum at the end of the book in the  about the author section saying that he was inspired by a true story from 1873 named Joseph who had been brought to New York City as a slave to play music for money on the streets of the city. The real  boy Joseph's court case against his padrone brought about changes in the laws of New York City that protected children who had been brought to the country like himself. I could tell from the way the book was written that the author has a love of history, and he brought such realistic touches to his city in the story. This was the first book written by author Matthew Kirby and has jumped him onto my list of author's to look for in the future.

29 August, 2016

Bout of Books day 7 and wrap up.

TOn Sunday, the last day of the read a thon I got a lot of reading/ listening done

Elengil and I listened to about ten hours of SevenEves. 

I finished Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets. 

Total books read: 

Four books finished during the read a thon. 

Two audiobooks half finished each. 
One book three chapters in and set down to start the Harry Potter series. 

27 August, 2016

Bout of Books Day 6

Bout of Books

Still listening to:

Still reading (though taking a break right now):

Started reading today: 

Basically I decided to start a reread of books 1 - 5 and actually finish reading the 6th and 7th books in the series after a conversation with an aunt early last week. I had forgotten how enjoyable the books are, even though I never got on the Harry Potter fanatic train way back when . I still believe that there were children's /young adult fantasy books out there that were just as good or better (for the first couple of books in the series at least) that never got the insane hype that Potter got.

26 August, 2016

Bout of Books 17 Day 4 & 5

Bout of Books

I didn't get a chance to update yesterday's reading so here goes. I am combining Thursday and Friday's reading accounts here. 

Still reading:

Started reading Thursday:

Finished Reading on Thursday:

Finished Reading late on Friday:

25 August, 2016

Book Review: Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Title: Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery
Author: Jenny Colgan
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher
Publication date: March 22, 2016

It has been a year since the massive storm that hit Mount Polbearne and left the town battered and minus one well loved fishing boat captain. In that year a lot has changed for Polly Waterford. She purchased the old lighthouse building and has made it her home with her boyfriend Huckle.  She has taken over running both of the bakeries for her landlady Mrs Manse who has moved in with her sister on the mainland. Neil is still living with her and all in all her life is beautifully happy.

Then Polly gets a phone call from Mrs. Manse's sister saying that she has passed on from a heart attack and suddenly what will become of the bakery is up in the air. The sister decides to put her son Malcolm in charge of the bakeries. Malcolm who has never managed a business, quickly alienates Polly and the townsfolk by banning fresh baked items as too costly and returns to the delivered baked goods from the mainland that his aunt had been using before Polly took over the bakeries. Polly is fired from the bakery by Malcolm and her whole world feels like it has come tumbling down.

Meanwhile, Tarnie's widow Selina has moved to the island to try and find closure. Polly becomes friends with Selina, but feels guilty because of their brief love affair when she first moved to the island. She wants to tell Selina what happened, but doesn't know how to bring it up. So she is stuck alternating between honest friendship and guilt. Huckle's brother has also come to the island to visit. Leaving his long term girlfriend Clementine to manage the farm, but after he and Huckle have an argument he takes off without letting anyone know where he is headed.

After living off of savings for a little while, Polly and Huckle decide that they need a plan of action. Huckle goes back to the states to work for Clementine to get the farm straightened out while his brother is MIA.  The money he earns goes into a joint account for Polly to use to start a new business. Polly purchases a secondhand bakery truck and applies for a permit from the Mount Polbearne council for a vendor's license to sell from her food truck on the mainland side of the causeway in the visitor's car park. Because Polly can't think of a life without baking, or her home on the island she starts this despite the challenges of running a competing business with the island's bakery. She has gone from an established and well known bakery to selling out of a food truck that look like it should be serving fish and chips. All the while Huckle is still overseas and Neil has been returned to the Puffin Sanctuary on the North Coast of Cornwall, leaving her very lonely.

She gets a visit from a food reporter from Plymouth who writes a favorable review of her bakery truck and things start to look up. However her friendship with Selina becomes threatened when she finds out about the affair, and to top it off another huge storm hits the island.

I really enjoyed returning to Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford's story. I loved that this picked up slightly after the events of the first book and while it included all of the characters I gre to love in the first book, a few new ones were added to round out the cast. Polly and Huckle's struggle with a long distance relationship while they tried to get life back on track really resonated me while reading. I really was drawn into Polly's troubles and her insecurities about herself after Malcolm changes the bakery and then fires her. This was another quick and sweet read from author Jenny Colgan. I see goodreads shows an entry for an upcoming Little Beach Street Bakery book. I can't wait to read it when it is published.

24 August, 2016

23 August, 2016

Bout of Books 17 Day 2

Bout of Books

Still reading:

I also have two audio books going. One I'm listening to on my own and the other with my partner Elengil.

Mix 'n Match sentence

The Nickster hosted at Bout of Books -- Mix 'n Match  (instructions right below!)

Pick out 10-15 books from your shelf, from your local library, or from a local bookstore. They can be any genre, any language, and any length. In each book, flip to a random page and pick the 1st word (articles such as "the", "and", "an", "or", etc. don't count as the 1st word). Use all these 1st words to try to create an actual sentence. If the books are in different languages, feel free to translate them to all one language or leave them as they are! also, you can add in some articles, such as "the", "and", "an", "or", etc., if you want to make the sentence flow better. 

I used the books that were sitting on my desk either waiting to be added to the TBR pile or waiting to have something written about them here on the blog or at

Untitled plus Empress by Karen Miller which didn't make it to the photo stack.

* called
* dandelions
* messages 
* Scorpious 
* eyes
* these 
* only 
* claimed
* keys 
* get 
* clothing 
* beside 
* warm 

These messages beside the warm clothing called Scorpious and the keys claimed only the dandelions get eyes.

Book Review: Spring Pearl The Last Flower by Lawrence Yep

Title: Spring Pearl The Last FlowerAuthor: Laurence YepPublisher:Pleasant Company PublicationsPublish date: August 21, 2003

Twelve year old Chou Spring Pearl's life is in upheaval. Recently orphaned, she is taken in by the family of her scholarly father's friend and benefactor Master Sung. Raised in a bamboo hut located in the "rat's nest' poorer neighborhood of Canton Spring Pearl has been raised in an unorthodox manner for girls of her time. The daughter of a scholar who was known for his paintings she knows how to read , and write, and can speak some English, due to her father's business with British and other foreigners before they were pushed out of the city, but does not know how to sew, embroider, or play music. Spring Pearl's home was humble compared to the home of the Sung family and her foster sister's and the servants tease her about her humble beginnings.

However, during her time in the Sung household, Spring Pearl finds herself slowly being accepted as a part of the family. Her dedication to reviving the fading garden in the compound and her honor and loyalty to Master Sung show her to Mistress Sung in a more favorable light than that of the "leech" the mistress had thought of her when she first came into the household. Caught in a place where she isn't a servant, but also isn't one of the wealthy family, Spring Pearl fights to find her place in the household she has become a part of. When Master Sung is arrested for treason, and the French and British attack Canton again will Spring Pearl be able to use her talents and knowledge to help the family that took her in to stay safe and keep their home during the turmoil?

Spring Pearl the Last Flower is one of the Girls of Many Lands book series produced by the American Girls company between 2002 and 2005. This line of books and dolls was aimed at older girls and spanned several countries and time periods. I picked this book up from bookmooch to add to the books I was leaving at a little free library near the school I student taught at last spring. However, I hung onto the book to read because I thought it looked interesting and was written by the author of Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate which I read years ago when my younger sister cleared out her book collection prior to a move and had enjoyed very much. I found this book to be an interesting one that takes place at the start of the second Opium War in China. Spring Pearl is a positive strong heroine and would be a good role model for any tween. The book itself might be a little hard at times to read, there is a lot of historical detail included, and Spring Pearl's behavior is not what a modern reader might expect.

I wish that this line of books and dolls hadn't been so short lived. I love the range of countries and ethnicities included in the series. While this book looks at China in the late 1850's other books introduced Tudor England (1592), 18th century France (Pre Revolution),  Yup'ik Alaska (1890), and Partition era India (1939).

As an adult reader I found this book to be fairly easy and informative historical fiction reading. I think it would be great for middle school aged readers with an interest in historical fiction.

22 August, 2016

Bout of Books 17 day 1

Bout of Books

Today is day one of the bout of books week long read a thon. I'm starting the week off with three partly read books. 

Books Finished:

Spring Pearl the Last Flower by Laurence Yep

18 August, 2016

Book Review: Sourcery by Terry Pratchet

Sourcerers, the magic users who can manipulate the magic of the Diskworld at it's source have become the basis of legends. There have not been sorcerers on the Diskwold for hundreds of years. Until the boy named Coin is born.

Coin is the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son. A wizard squared. The son of a disgruntled wizard who had been kicked out from the Unseen University. A boy whose father at his death had decreed his son would become arch chancelor of the Univerity, then willed his soul into his staff. 

A boy who has been led by the staff his entire life. 

When the time comes to pick a new arch chancellor of the University Coin appears in the wizard's gathering. He cows the wizards and convinces them that wizards should rule not just Ahnk-Morpork but all of Diskworld. 

The magical hat worn by the Arch Chancellor knows that sorcery is abroad. It calls for help and finds it in the form of a young barbarian girl named Conona who steals it from the Unnamed University, and also in the form of the bumbling and inept wizard Rincewind. The two must join forces to get the magical hat to faraway Klatch to find someone with the power to wear the hat and face Coin. But the question arises as the face of Diskworld starts to be magically changed by the whims of a child, will they find the right person before  the magic tears apart the barrier between reality and the unknown evil that waits to invade?

Sourcery is the fifth Diskword book. It is the third book containing Rincewind and is part of the Unseen University story arc of the 40+ long series. It is also one of the earlier books that I had not read before. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The ongoing adventures of Rincewind have amused me since the first time I read The Light Fantastic and The Color of Magic.  I really enjoyed how this book really delved into how magic works on Diskworld, the history of wizardry and the Unseen University, and the effects of the great Thamaturgic War whose magical battles shaped the current day Diskworld. 

The edition that I recently acquired from an Amazon seller in the UK is one of the UK publisher Gollancz hardcover collectors editions. I have to say it is a beautiful little book. The cover art has been printed directly onto the cover, without having just a printed dust jacket. I am very happy to add this to my growing collection of Diskworld hardcovers. Since I started collecting the hardcover books on and off after The Truth was published in the early 2000's, I still have quite a few of the early books to get for my collection. Now I know to look for these special printings from the British publisher Gollancz, as they have the publishing rights of the first 21 books (up to Jingo) 

16 August, 2016

Book Review: Ill Wind

Title: Ill Wind
Series:The Weather Warden Book 1
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: December 2003

Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden. A member of an elite group of magic users who can influence the elements, Joanne's talents allow her to manipulate air and water. Joanne is a strong magic user who can  manipulate the fiercest of storms with little more than a thought and the wave of her hand. But it's her strength that has led her to her current problems. She had been employed by "Bad" Bob Biringanine one of the the most powerful Weather Wardens on the world council. A warden who unknown to everyone had made a pact with a demon for more power. When Bob tries to forcefully take Joanne's power from her he ends up dead. Now, Joanne is on the run fleeing a murder charge, In order to clear her name she needs to find her friend Lewis who is the most powerful warden in the world. Her cross country trip is hindered by powerful storms that are hunting her, traps laid by members of the ruling world council and is helped by a free Djinn named David - a being of incredible power, Will Joanne be able to find Lewis before her pursuers catch up with her? Can she get the help needed to clear her name and reputation, or will she face the  council to have her powers stripped from her and her memories scrubbed.

This is an older series that I have had a few friends recommend to me over the years but haven't had the urge to read. in 2015 I had three of the books sent to me and last fall I found  most of the missing books between books 2 and 6 at the resale shop. This was chosen for me to read in June by my pick it for me partner on the bookobsessed forums. I finally picked it up in July during one of the read a thons hosted over there. I had mixed feelings about this book. I spent the first 3/4 of the book feeling like it was dragging as the plot jumped back and forth between Joanne's past and present. I know this was needed to set up the character history, but it slowed down the story in my opinion. However, the last 1/4 of the book I couldn't put down. I really liked the magic system (elemental magic) and the fact that Djinn are used by the wardens to enhance their powers.  I have the next 5 books waiting to be read so will be jumping ahead into this series.

11 August, 2016

Book Review: Because of Miss Bridgerton

Title: Because of Miss Bridgerton
Author: Julia Quinn
Publisher: Avon Romance
Date Published: March 2016

Billie Bridgerton is no ordinary lady of the manor. The eldest child, she has been raised like a son, and age 23 has taken over the running of her family's estate while her younger brother is away at Eton for schooling. Billie is plainly a tom,  more comfortable on her home estate and that of the neighboring Rokesby family. She is more comfortable running around in breeches, riding, and reading about agricultural improvements than planning house parties and embroidery, and the husband market. Everyone in her family and the Rokesby family expect her to marry either Edward and Andrew the Rokesby  boys she ran wild with as a child. 

However, while rescuing a detested cat from a tree, Billie becomes stranded and injured and is rescued from her plight by the eldest Rokesby son George. The wild Billie and the reserved George have never gotten on and Billie is not very happy to see him at the foot of the ladder. When Billie's mother the Lady Bridgerton  plans a house party Billie is unable to get around due to her sprained ankle. George makes it his job to help Billie out until she can get around on her own. With the two spending so much time together, an attraction forms and the tumultuous relationship starts to change as sparks begin to fly between the two in a different sort of way. When George kisses Billie, they both are shocked by each other's response.

I picked this up on a whim when at Walgreen's waiting on a prescription a few weeks back. I had a wait while my order was finished up and I didn't have a book with me to read while waiting. I picked this one up because I have read other books by Julia Quinn before and was in the mood for a historical romance. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It is the first book in the Rokesby series which is a prequel series to Julia Quinn's Bridgerton Series. I enjoyed the two main characters and their elevation of tentative friendship into romance. Billie is headstrong and beautiful and stubborn. George is reserved as is expected of the Rokesby  heir. However for years he has envies the freedom and fun his siblings and the Bridgeton children have. this was a ligthearted tale of  finding friendship and love where once there was a back and forth feeling of detest between the two.  This was a very light and quick read perfect for the summer.

10 August, 2016

Bout of Books 17

It's time for the Bout of Books week long read a thon. This will be my seventh time participating since 2013. I plan on doing as much reading as I can during the read a thon, but don't have a set reading list yet.Depending on my work situation,  I may be starting the first week of classes so reading time may be limited but I will try and get some reading done during commutes and such. 

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

09 August, 2016

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

Here in the USA August 9 is National Book Lovers Day. Celebrate by diving into a good book or sharing a book with someone you know!

I have run across a few new little free libraries over the summer while riding around for errands and exercise. I haven't done any little free library spotlights in a while so I thought for National Book Lover's Day I could showcase a few of them.  If you are in the Evanston  or the Chicago area feel free to check it out and add some books :)

This Little Free Library is charter 40602. It is located in the Roger's Park neighborhood of Chicago. It has three shelves, one over sized that is perfect for children's picture books. It has a nice mix of children's and adults books inside.

 This little free library is charter number 29496. It is located in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. It is at 7043 N. Glennwood which is also a play lot. The library is an old bookshelf that has been converted with a door and a roof and has four or five shelves of books that are a mix of books any family member would enjoy reading from kids to adults.

This Little Free Library is Charter number 39889. It is located at 1431 W. Fargo ave. In the Roger's Park neighborhood of Chicago. The stewards want their little free library to encourage children of all ages to enjoy reading and encourage people to drop off their favorite children's books. When I stopped by last it had a mix of children's and adult books. 

This Little Free Library is located on the Evanston/Skokie border. It is charter number 26956. It is located at 27 Williamsburg Terrace in Evanston, IL. When I stopped by it had a very healthy mix of fiction and non fiction for adults and children.

 This Little Free Library is charter number 36441 It is located in the middle of the toddler park located at 1125 Dewey in Evanston, IL. The story behind this Little Free Library is inspiring. The money for the library was raised over five years by a group of grandmother's in the neighborhood. It has two shelves inside that are filled with children's and young adult books.

This Little Free Library is charter number 32361. It is located at 813 Crain st. The two little cabinets that make up this little free library each hold two rows of books in them. Additionally, there is a nice stone bench next to the little free library perfect for sitting and browsing. I saw a good selection of books good for all age ranges in there, from child to adult.

I saw this little free library on my bike ride home from a job interview yesterday. It does not have an official little free library  charter plaque or charter number and does not show up on their map. However I thought that this stained glass fronted cabinet  with it's Book proclamation on the top  was super cute. The books inside of it when I stopped were mostly children's books with a bunch of classic Nancy Drew titles that made me smile as I devoured those as a kid.  This little free library sits at the base of the porch stairs at 1204 Noyes street in Evanston, IL. 

I will be spending national book lover's day listening to my audiobook copy of The luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland.

Book Review: Little Beach Street Bakery

Title: Little Beach Street Bakery
Author: Jenny Colgan
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: March 31, 2015Polly Waterford has found herself in dire straits. She thought she had the perfect life. A long term relationship with her boyfriend Chris, part owner of a small graphic design company housed in a small two room office in a converted railway station, and a flat purchased together with Chris in Plymouth, Devon in the UK. However she suddenly is faced with the reality that her life has turned less than perfect -her long term relationship has crumbled. She and  Chris have been slowly drifting apart for months. She discovers Chris has been hiding financial problems stemming from their jointly owned graphic design business from her. This results in them having to declare bankruptcy. The business and their assets are seized by the bank. Chris moves to live with his mother while Polly is forced to find habitation that she can afford on the small amount given to her by the bank while the the couple's home is sold to pay off the outstanding debts.

Polly quickly finds that without a job, she can't afford to live in the city she has called home for her entire life. She does not want to be a bother to her mother who has moved into a small retirement flat, she is embarrassed to admit what is happening to her friends and ask to couch surf on friends couches while she gets her feet beneath her, and does not want to get into a flat share situation with younger twenty somethings and multiple roommates. On a whim, Polly looks for listings in nearby Cornwall and finds one she can afford on the isle of Mount  Polbearne. This is a little village on an island formed by a sea mount that is connected to the mainland by a medieval causeway that is above water level when the tides are right.

Upon visiting, the flat is awful, dirty, with a hole in the roof above and located above a disused bakery. It is owned by an awful rude woman who owns the only open bakery in the village. A bakery which sells sub standard bread baked on the mainland. But there is something about the quietness of the village and the view of the sea from the window of the living room of the flat that pulls Polly to live on the island. Life on the island is not easy, her heart is slowly mending and she makes friends with a local fisherman Tarnie, and a good looking American Huckle who keeps bees locally, and a rescued injured baby puffin named Neil. However, she still can't find work, and she will not buy the bread sold by her landlady - preferring to instead bake her own. When her landlady injures herself in a fall, and Polly comes to the rescue by becoming the baker for the bakery life starts to look a little less negative to her. 

But when a brutal storm hits and the tragedy hits the small village can Polly and her new friends help keep moral up even as they are hit by the despair of the events around them?

This is the first book by Jenny Colgan that I have read although I have had her books recomended in the past. I have to say that I absolutely loved it. I am a sucker for stories with life changing events and the heroines whose life ends up in upheaval. I am also fond of books with stories revolving around food - especially bakeries. There is a wonderful  statement made by the author about Polly's character that in these days of low card diet crazes I found refreshing:

"Polly was very specific about bread. She loved it. She had loved it in fashion and out of fashion; as a child, as an adult. It was the favorite part of going to a restaurant. She loved it toasted or as it was; she loved bagels, and cheese on toast and pain d'epices and twisted Italian plaits. She loved artisan sourdough that cost six pounds for a tiny loaf, and she loved sliced white that molded and soaked up the juices of a bacon sandwich."

-Little Beach Street Bakery, Jenny Colgan 

I zoomed through this book as it was just the right amount of light story, life upheaval events, and finding unknown strength in oneself  for a hot summer reading during the heatwave that hit the Chicago land are recently. I was intrigued by the setting as the author is from Scotland, which is nowhere near Cornwall,  and looked up Cornwall to see what I could find out about it and it Mount Polbearne was a real place. I found that the author had fashioned her village from a real location St. Michael's Mount which is a tidal island that has a castle a church and a small village that can only be reached by a causeway that is acessable between mid tide and low water and the oldest bui;dings on it date from the 12th century. Cool huh? While looking this up I found a wonderful interview with the author about her memories of going on summer holiday to Cornwall from Scotland as a child. You can read it here Author Jenny Colgan reveals how Cornwall kick starts her creativity

I loved this book and have the second book in the series Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery sitting here to be read soon. So look fo an upcoming review :)

04 August, 2016

Book Review: The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig

Title: The Memory of Lemon
Author: Jedith Fertig
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: 12 July 2016

The Memory of Lemon picks up where The Cake Therapist leaves off. Claire "Neely" Davis is still living in her hometown of Millcreek Valley and running a bakery that specializes in custom wedding cakes.  Claire has a gift. She is able to "taste" people's emotions and use them to create custom flavor combinations that resonate with her clients.  The success of her bakery is due to her talent, and it hasn't failed her yet. That is until she meets a mother of the bride who disagrees with everything her daughter wants in a wedding. 

Neely needs the successful cake that her intuition should be helping to create. However she is facing her own struggles. A divorce from a well known football star, the threat of a prenuptial contract clause signed when she was young and naive, and the need to explore a new romantic relationship topped with reconnecting with a long absent father leave her in her own inner turmoil which may be why her flavor intuition is not working correctly. 

As Neely works with the young bride, she starts to uncover links between the bride's family history and her own. The events of these family stories both pleasant and unpleasant combine together to create delicious memories. Aided but hear memories Neely and her friends in the wedding planning industry of Millcreek Valley are able to create a classy wedding that meets both the needs of the bride and her mother. The process also helps Neely to overcome the turmoil in her life one hurdle at a time. 

I have been waiting for this book to come out since last summer. I made the mistake of reading the excerpt of The Memory of Lemon that the publisher included at the end of The Cake Therapist and was very sad when I found out that it had not been  published yet.  I loved that this book picked up immediately after the events of The Cake Therapist and expands on the story started in the first book.  The book resonated with me strongly in the part of the story that focused on the budding relationship between Neely and the father who abandoned her as a child. The investigation of why her father left and how it felt for both of them was poignant and left me feeling "all the feels" as it resonated with my own relationship with my father. 

I also really enjoyed that this book kept the back and forth storytelling between the present and the past. I had a little bit of trouble at first keeping the connections between the two families history apart. But they came together in a satisfying manner.  The Memory of Lemon is a heartwarming, and entertaining read for the summer. 

02 August, 2016

Book review: Bufo byTerra Ciel

Title: Bufo
Author: Terra Ciel
Illustrator: L' Etoile
Publisher: nature's dance publishing and photographic LLC

Bufo is the story of Bufo the frog. He looks very different from the other frogs who make fun of him and won't play with him. He makes a wish on a falling star for a friend. This wish leaves him open to friendship from two butterflies. Their daily play takes him far from his home where he gets lost. Bufo is helped by a white rabbit named Bonzy who invites him to live in the Lotus pond by his burrow. Bufo makes friends of the pond dwellers who see Bufo for who he is not what he looks like.  But when Bonzy is captured by a human and taken into the "big house" can Bufo muster the strength and courage to rescue his friend?

Bufo is a children's book. The story it tells takes on the topic of differences in people (or in this case animals), how we shouldn't judge by what a person looks like, and friendship.  The story itself is engaging if a little long. It works quite well as a moral story. 

However, this is not a good picture book.  It has an extremely interesting mix of real photographs and illustrated elements to the pages. This is not always engaging as the illustrations can seem like they are poping off of the photographs at times. Unlike Mo Willem's Knuffle Bunny which also uses this illustration style because the pictures as well as the illustrations are in color they sometimes just seem to float on the background without being as eye drawing as Willem's color illustrations on black and white or sepia toned photographs. Also the length of the text on the pages and how it is laid out makes it hard to read at times. I feel that this story would be better read as a read a loud because of this.

This is a good attempt at producing children's literature. I was left wondering if this was originally written and illustrated for a children's literature course, as it has the feel of some of the attempts by my classmates for a similar project.  I would recommend it for stronger young readers, and not early readers.  I believe the publisher is local to me as I took this copy from an area little free library that had multiple copies in it and have seen other little free libraries in the area with copies of this book in it. 

28 July, 2016

Book Review: The Kraken Sea by E. Catherine Tobler

Jackson is a boy who has grown up feeling adrift and unloved. Found as an infant in a wooden daffodil crate and brought up in an orphanage run by nuns, Jackson is the oldest and strangest of the wards at the orphanage. A boy who sometimes has scaly skin and whose limbs want to change into snakelike coils. This changes when he is put on an orphan train headed to San Francisco, CA. He is to be adopted by someone who sister Jerome Grace has told him has asked for a boy who is just like him 

However something happens during a brief stopover in Chicago when the nuns take the children to visit the World's fair.  Jackson witnesses the mistreatment of a girl with snake limbs like himself and meets a mysterious black eyed girl. Shaken by the events Jackson is calmed by Sister Jerome Grace who shows him he is not alone and tells him he needs to continue to San Francisco so he can learn to become all that he is. 

Upon reaching California, he meets the woman who has requested him from the orphanage and is thrust into a world unlike that of his previous life. This world is full of magical people, a city divided into territories, and the black eyed girl glimpsed in Chicago reappears and is a key player in the events which unfurl in the months after Jackson arrives in the city. Not everything is as it seems, and Jackson seems to be the catalyst to a climactic battle between two enemies. 

I was drawn into this novella. It was written with a fantastic mix of realism, fantasy and blending in mythology. This author is new to me and I really enjoyed her writing quite a bit. I ended the story wanting to know more and wishing it had been a full length novel. There were so many fantastic supporting characters and surroundings that I would have loved to explore more of. However as this was Jackson's story I understand why less focus was made on them.  I also loved the mythology aspects to the story it really made this alternate nineteenth century United States an intriguing world where magic still exists alongside new technology and nothing is quite what it seems. Jackson's struggle to learn who he is and what he believes in as he is thrown into events which challenge his beliefs. 

I received this as part of librarything's June early reviewer program for my honest opinion about the book. 

26 July, 2016

Book Review: Luck, Love, and Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert

Title: Luck, Love, and Lemon Pie
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Publish Date: 12 July 2016

M.J. Boudreaux is in a marriage that has become stale. After her husband misses their twenty year anniversary lunch because of a poker tournament, she decides that something needed to be done. She asks Chris, her husband, to help her brush up on her poker skills so that she can accompany him to the casino to play with him. Her reasoning is that it is a common interest that they can turn into date nights to help reconnect their marriage.

However, she and Chris play at different level tables. When she runs into her nemesis from college, Tammy Shezwyski at the poker table and Chris's name is mentioned, M.J. Darts to suspect something besides poker is the reason she and her husband are drifting apart. However, rather than confront Chris she starts to escape into her poker playing.  M.J.  enters a competition with a grand prize of a trip to Vegas to play in a high risk poker tournament and a poker lesson from Doyle Kane.  M.J. wins and excitedly starts planning for the trip in April as one for her and Chris to go on together. 

However by the time the trip rolls around their relationship has become more strained. M.J.  goes to Vegas with her best friend. She  manages some fantastic wins and attracts the attention of the handsome poker champion Doyle. M.J. Is flattered by the attention. The phrase "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" ends up not being true and when a photo makes its way to Chris of her and Doyle, she is forced to confront her feelings, her failing marriage, and what she really wants in her life. 

I fell in love with  Amy Reichert's writing last summer with her first book The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. I pre-ordered this book last spring when I saw it had been announced. This book was very different from the first book. Where that book focused on friendship and finding love unexpectedly. This book  looks at what happens when a loving relationship becomes stale and love becomes strained between a couple.  This storyline takes readers through a strained year in M.J and Chris's marriage and how they start to drift  apart and eventually repair their marriage. 

It was very different from the author's first book. While I am not necessarily the target audience for this book I did enjoy it quite a bit.  I really enjoyed how the book delved into high stakes poker playing and the tournament environment.

Like the previous book there is a scrumptious looking recipe at the end for the anniversary lemon pie. I'm looking forwards to trying it out as lemon pie is a household favorite here.