Friday, November 17, 2017

*Book Blogger Hop* 17 November 2017



We are on to a new week for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by the lovely folks over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This weeks questions is:
If you had an author-only Thankgsgiving party, who would you invite? (submitted by Kristin @Lukten av Trykksverte)
I'm going to cheat a little bit this week. I know that shouldn't theoretically be possible to answer a question, but I consider it cheating because my answer isn't going to involve thinking about which authors I super want to meet just because or anything like that. No. I'm turning this Thanksgiving party into a business meeting. I'm only inviting authors that I proofread for because I feel it would be a good thing to meet the people I work with in person, and what better way to do that than invite them all to Thanksgiving (it makes my feast a business write-off after all). So who am I inviting to dinner?

I'm inviting Ginna Moran, author of several different YA series, most of them paranormal. I'm going to insist that she bring along some macarons from the bakery that was the inspiration for Nora's favorite bakery in If This Was a Movie.

Next on the guest list would be Jillian Ashe. She writes science fiction, so I'd like her to bring a recipe that seems almost like it came from out of this world, much like Kat first experienced in My Delicate Destruction.

Next up is Mary Ting. She writes a variety of books from YA paranormal to dystopian and also writes in a more adult genre under a pen name. I had to think for a while on what I'd want her to bring, but I think in honor of Davin, I'd just ask her to bring chips and salsa. They're pretty much his favorite food in The Chosen Knights.

I absolutely can't forget Alexandrea Weis. She writes erotic paranormal romance. She's also from Louisiana and I have it in my head that everyone in Louisiana knows how to make beignets, which from the books I read are supposed to be eaten warm, so they should really be made on the spot. So I'm going to request that she make some beignets for us. In return I'll gladly make some Rice Krispie treats for her raccoon Rodney (who is also absolutely invited to dinner provided he can make the trip.)

We can't forget my other Louisiana author, Mary Theriot, either. She writes paranormal mystery type stories (mostly), and is ALWAYS writing about étouffées and gumbo, so I'm gonna' need her to make one of those for us (because I've never had either).

I've also got to send a invitation to D.M. Earl. She writes MC-type romance stories, so I'm putting her in charge of libations, because I'm pretty sure she'd be great at choosing those wisely (and it's the first thing I thought of when I thought about her books.)

I'm also saving a seat for Lisa Suzanne. She writes contemporary erotic romance and I'm asking her to take care of the salad because her characters are always making and eating salads with pretty much all of their meals, and that's just not something that I'm good at.

So those are the authors that I'd really expect to accept my invites because we've worked together on several books already. But I'm a firm believer in the more-the-merrier philosophy of Thanksgiving feasts, and I always over prepare (I make four desserts for my family of four's Thanksgiving dinner for crying out loud). So I'm also going to be shooting off invites to the following authors I've worked with, in case they want to attend.

S.H. Richardson
Amanda Kaitlyn
Michele Gantz
Beth Hale
Liana Gardner
Stu Jones
Gareth Worthington
Thommy Hutson
Michael David Ward
Dylan Jones

and Italia Gandolfo gets an automatic invite for introducing me to several of these authors.

So who would you invite to an authors only Thanksgiving dinner? - Katie

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

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

*Top Ten Tuesday* Books I Want My Children to Read


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

This weeks theme is books I want my children to read. Now, the prompt says future children, but I already have a couple and got myself spayed when the second one was born so I'm not having any more in the future, so I'm just going to go with the books that I'd like my currently living children to read at some point.

1: Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder - While this series is a romanticized version of life on the prairie during America's infancy, it's the best one I know of to show kids kind of what it was like to live in America back then, and that's good for any child.

2: Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan - While I have not personally read these books, bloggers that I trust have highly recommended them. I think they'd be a great way to get my kids interested in Greek mythology.

3: The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank - I think it's important for kids to learn about WWII, and this is a good introduction to it without getting too far into the real horrors of the camps.

4: Goosebumps by R.L. Stein - Maybe it's weird to want my kids to read horror stories, but I think this series helped a lot of kids, including myself, love reading, and if it can do that for my kids, then I want them to read them.

5: The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner - If I remember this series right, I think it would help develop deductive reasoning in kids, and that's something everyone should be decent at doing.

And I'm stopping at five this week because I'm having a hard time coming up with other specific books I absolutely want my kids to read. I'm more interested in having my kids read books that they are interested in so that they will always love to read. They'll read more overall that way anyway, and will hopefully continue to love reading well into adulthood. And that's what's really important to me.

What about you? What books do you want your current or future children to read someday? - Katie

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

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

*MadLibMonday* Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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

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

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

And with that, here we go.

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


Genre: Suspense
Published: July 29 2014
Pages: 458

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s (   1: Adjective   ) and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new (   2: Noun   ) have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be (   3: Verb ending in ing   ) Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of (   4: Adjective   ) woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin (   5: Plural noun   )? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her (   6: Noun   ) look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often (   7: Verb ending in s   ) at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother (   8: Verb ending in s   ) her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret (   9: Plural noun   ) about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little (   10: Noun   ) will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Now that your fun is through, here is the real blurb for Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

If you enjoyed this mad lib, please leave a comment below (I love hearing from my followers), and be sure to share it with your friends. - Katie 

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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

*Review* The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore


Genre: Nonfiction
Published: October 28, 2014
Pages: 410


A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of Wonder Woman, one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism.

Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator. Beginning in his undergraduate years at Harvard, Marston was influenced by early suffragists and feminists, starting with Emmeline Pankhurst, who was banned from speaking on campus in 1911, when Marston was a freshman. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1930s, Marston and Byrne wrote a regular column for Family Circle celebrating conventional family life, even as they themselves pursued lives of extraordinary nonconformity. Marston, internationally known as an expert on truth—he invented the lie detector test—lived a life of secrets, only to spill them on the pages of Wonder Woman.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman 
is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.
 
This edition includes a new afterword with fresh revelations based on never before seen letters and photographs from the Marston family’s papers.

With 161 illustrations and 16 pages in full color


With all the Wonder Woman hubbub going on, I decided I should probably read this. That way I can be a step above all my friends with knowledge and hipster the hell out of everyone about everything. Alas, this was way more about William Moulton Marston than Wonder Woman herself, so there’s not much I learned about her while reading this.

Although I did find the story of her creation to be quite interesting. It’s especially something to keep an open mind about, because she was first published in the early 1940s, and was controlled by many men. Men that were still ignorant to the fact that they’re sexist disgusting pigs, btw. But that’s a rant that doesn’t need to be made within this review.

I did find it fascinating how much resistance came to Wonder Woman actually being a legit super hero. Although it was dumb as shit the reasons for the resistance, but again - this started in the 1940s. I also never noticed how much bondage type of situations she went through, and I’ve gone through her old issues in anthology catalogues. But apparently that was a bit thing.

The big thing I think people are supposed to take from this is that the creator was in a polygamous relationship. But honestly, I don’t GAF. It seemed like a functioning household and they all raised children successfully. So, good on them. Sorry they lived in a society that was full of a bunch of ignorant asshats.

Oh, and Marston’s invention of the lie-detector is also a big part of this story. I mean, good on him for that. He was pretty smart and I think, especially for the time, he was a decent person. But the lie-detector is mostly bullshit. So, there’s that opinion of mine.

I think the most important thing to take away from this is how seriously the author took the history of this comic. This wasn’t a bunch of fluff and drivel. Instead we’re given a whole bunch of information about the creator and then what happened to the comic after his death. And how it suffered at the hands of people who are sexist pigs… because that’s especially important. If you haven’t yet noticed how much that pissed me off… because I keep saying it.

Interesting story. Not what I was expecting. It’s something for more die-hard fans to check out.

3.0007 and 5/72nds platypires - Joood - Hooligan



Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale in 1995. Her first book, "The Name of War," won the Bancroft Prize; her 2005 book, "New York Burning," was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2008 she published "Blindspot," a mock eighteenth-century novel, jointly written with Jane Kamensky. Lepore's most recent book, "The Whites of Their Eyes," is a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice.

*Review* Clean Break by Lisa Suzanne


Genre: Erotic Romance
Published: October 26, 2017
Pages: 206


After two brothers shatter her world, Reese Brady escapes to her old life. She occupies herself with work and friends in an attempt to find comfort after her catastrophic summer. 

When Reese receives a desperate call from someone she thought she’d never hear from again, she’s forced to confront the love she could’ve had. She has to decide between saving the man who broke her heart or moving on without him.

Will Reese get her clean break, or will she be forced back into everything she’s trying to escape?


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

This is the third and final book in the series, and book two ended on a really tense note. A note that made me think I might get my wish for Reese to just say good riddance to both brothers and move on with her life. And I was almost okay with that, except I still really wanted her to end up with Mark because they were so perfect together. So I had conflicted feelings about the start of this book, almost like a love/hate relationship. 

I think it was pretty clear that Reese couldn't/wouldn't be done with the Fox brothers completely though (otherwise why have the book, right?) But it was anything but clear where those relationships would ultimately go. I was really quite anxious about how a few big events would play out between Reese and the Fox family, and how she would handle things in general. 

I did have one kind of big complaint about the book though. I was ready for it to be done at about 60%. See, that's the point where pretty much all of the major conflicts were resolved, and everything after it just felt like it was feel-good fluff. And I'm not opposed to feel good fluff, exactly, but I was worried that there would be more shoes dropping, and I was just so ready for Reese to have her happy ending. I would have personally enjoyed the book more if the last 40% had been condensed into an epilogue. The emotional roller coaster just lasted a little too long for me. 

Overall I give Clean Break 3.976 stars. - Katie 



Lisa Suzanne is a romance author who resides in Arizona with her husband and baby boy. She’s a former high school English teacher and college composition instructor. When she's not cuddling baby Mason, she can be found working on her latest book or watching reruns of Friends.  

Web: http://www.authorlisasuzanne.com
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

*Discussion Questions* A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi *SPOILERS*

I have spent a few years in a couple of different book clubs now, and I've led my fair share of discussions (so every time it was my turn in the rotation to pick a book basically, although I've been slacking a little in my current book club). I can't tell you how many times I've finished a book that I'd chosen for our meeting, only to realize that I couldn't think of a single question to ask (and I'd forgotten to consider that while reading). In those instances I would run to the interwebs to search for discussion questions, just hoping that someone else had been kind enough to think of questions and share them with the world. I had about a 50% success rate with that. 

As a mother myself, A House for Happy Mothers gave me a lot to think about where motherhood is concerned, and it didn't take me long to think of several questions that could be used in a discussion of this book if I can talk my book club into reading it. I figured I might as well share my questions with y'all as well though, in case you need a little help coming up with things to ask at your next book club meeting. If you have not read the book yet, stop reading now as the questions absolutely involve spoilers. 

You can read my review of A House for Happy Mothers here


1. Would you consider being a surrogate if you were in Asha's shoes?

2. Do you think Asha would have agreed to being a surrogate if her parents were white like some of the other mother's at the House for Happy Mothers?

3. Near the end of her pregnancy, Asha thinks about running away with her family and the baby. Do you think she would have even considered running away if the baby was white?

4. For most of the book, Asha does not like Priya. Do you think she dislikes Priya simply because Priya doesn't speak Telugu well?

5. What do you think about Americans and other citizens of first world countries using surrogates in second and third world countries to make it more affordable for them? Do you think it was more acceptable for Priya and Madhu because they are Indian?

6. Do you think Priya and Madhu would use Dr. Swati again after they found out how she was manipulating Asha with promises of a good school for her son?

7. Do you think Asha kept the pearl earrings?

8. While Priya and Sush were staying with Sush's friends, Mona visited the House for Happy Mothers with Priya once. Do you think Mona might have used her connections to get changes made to the way surrogate houses in India were run after that visit?

9. Do you think Asha ever realized that Priya and Madhu actually cared about her well-being too, not just their baby?

10. Do you think Priya and Madhu actually did care about Asha's well-being?

11. Do you think Asha ever contacted Priya and Madhu again?

12. Do you think Asha ever became a surrogate again?

13. Would you ever consider using a surrogate in a poor country after reading this book?


So those are all the questions that I would ask at a book club meeting if we were discussing this book. If you have read the book, are there any other questions you would ask? (If you share a question, do you mind if I add it to my list?) I hope you'll find these questions helpful if you find yourself in a bind before your next book club meeting. - Katie 

*Review* A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi


Genre: Women's Fiction
Published: June 1, 2016
Pages: 316


A stunning new novel—full of wit and warmth—from the bestselling author of The Mango Season.

In trendy Silicon Valley, Priya has everything she needs—a loving husband, a career, and a home—but the one thing she wants most is the child she’s unable to have. In a Southern Indian village, Asha doesn’t have much—raising two children in a tiny hut, she and her husband can barely keep a tin roof over their heads—but she wants a better education for her gifted son. Pressured by her family, Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House: a baby farm where she can rent her only asset—her womb—to a childless couple overseas. To the dismay of friends and family, Priya places her faith in a woman she’s never met to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Together, the two women discover the best and the worst that India’s rising surrogacy industry has to offer, bridging continents and cultures to bring a new life into the world—and renewed hope to each other.


I won a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review. 

If you are looking for a good book club discussion book, I would definitely recommend A House for Happy Mothers. There were several times during the book where I found myself thinking about how I would react if I were Priya or Asha, and in my book club experience, those make the best questions for discussion. In any case, it was a great book for putting me in other women's shoes, and it helped me to see things from both of their perspectives. I found Priya to be a bit more relatable, almost certainly because our life experiences are more similar. 

While I was reading, I did find myself wondering how accurately the Indian surrogate house was portrayed. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that it was actually a view of a surrogate house through rose-tinted glasses though, and that's really sad. I was appalled at the way the doctor was manipulating Asha, clearly trying to get her to agree to be a surrogate again before she was even finished incubating the first one. And maybe it wouldn't have bothered me so much if Asha had been handling the pregnancy better emotionally, but the doctor showed such little care for the women in her care. It just made me so mad. 

In the end, there are a lot of things that I wish had played out differently in the story, not because they were portrayed badly, but because I wanted a more feel good story to begin with, and there were a lot of times where this story was anything but feel good. I give A House for Happy Mothers 4.12 stars. - Katie 

Read my discussion questions here




Amulya is the bestselling author of seven novels, including her latest The Copenhagen Affair, which will be published in September 2017. Her books have been translated into several languages, including Dutch, German, Spanish, Danish, Romanian, Serbian, and Tamil. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in journalism. When she’s not writing, Amulya works as a marketing executive for a global medical device company. After living in Denmark for 14 years, Amulya moved to California in 2016 and lives in Orange County with her husband and two sons.