Tuesday, December 12, 2017

*Top Ten Tuesday* Favorite Books of 2017


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 favorite books of 2017. Ugh. I hate lists like this because it's just so hard to narrow down my choices. On top of that, I always feel like if I use too many books that were proofreads, people will think my lists are just biased trying to drum up business or something, so then I err in the other direction and try to just not include any of them, but that's dishonest too. And it's just so annoying. But I'm going to give it a shot anyway. Here are some of my most favorite books I read in 2017 in no particular order.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - I listened to the audiobook version of this book just last week while doing my Christmas cookie baking for my husbands work party. I made soooo many cookies because I had a lot of cookie ingredients in my cupboards that I needed to get used up before we move here soon, and that means I had a lot of time to listen to audiobooks. Even though I just finished listening to this book, I want to listen to it again already and that's quite abnormal for me.

The Holiday Gift by RaeAnne Thayne - This is one of the books that I read for my 12 Books of Christmas Challenge, and it provided everything I look for in a cheesy Christmas story. It had all the warm fuzzy feelings you want from a Christmas romance, and I would highly recommend it.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - This was a book club pick recently and I found myself just absolutely devouring it, which is somewhat rare for me lately, especially for book club book picks. And it's not that I don't enjoy the books, it's just that I often get sidetracked for deadline books like proofreads, and they just fall by the wayside to languish on my currently reading shelf for months until I finally find some time to finish them. While I didn't have this book finished in time for the original meeting, it was finished within a week of the meeting. If you enjoy reality tv, you'll probably enjoy this book.

A Very Mer-Merry Holiday by Ginna Moran - It is very possible that my feelings about this book are biased. Not only was I hired to proofread it, but I also helped brainstorm some ideas for the basic plot with Ms. Moran. That being said, I absolutely love what she did with those ideas, and much like The Holiday Gift, this was ultimately a very warm, fuzzy, feel-good holiday tale. It has the added benefit of being set in Australia, which just doesn't get enough Christmastime recognition with it's warm sandy beaches in December.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - If you've followed my blog at all, you are probably aware that I really like WWII era historical fiction (at least you should be because I kind of talk about it a lot), so it's no surprise that The Book Thief would make my list of top books read this past year. It has the added benefit of starring a main character who also loves to read. And there are so many feels, so just be sure to have some tissues handy while reading it yourself.

Lost Boy by Christina Henry - I have been absolutely loving classic story retellings lately, and this Peter Pan prequel absolutely blew me away. If you've ever wondered how Captain Hook came to be in Neverland in the first place, and just why he hates Peter so much, this is definitely the book for you.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan - This book is like an ode to all the hot-mess moms out there, and I personally think it's particularly relevant for anyone on social media (which is just about everyone). It is so easy to feel like a horrible mother when you're bombarded with images of other moms being perfect (because that's all you see of their lives on social media), but this provides a bit of a reminder that most moms just aren't telling you everything, and that you're probably doing a pretty damn good job at mom-ing yourself.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison - As a viewer of The Girls Next Door, I was interested to get a more in-depth look at what went on at the Playboy Mansion, and I actually got more than I bargained for from this book. I'm smart enough to know that reality tv is not exactly realistic, but I felt like this book really filled in some of the gaps. I'm also smart enough to know that not all the things written in this book are entirely accurate either, but I found it entertaining nonetheless.

So that's only eight books, and there are several others that I would add to the list, but I have less to say about why I liked them so much which would screw with the formatting of this post, so I'm just going to leave you with eight.

What are some of your favorite books you read in 2017? - Katie

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

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

Friday, December 8, 2017

*Stacking the Shelves* 9 December 2017


(Titles link to Amazon via Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is a feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

It's week five of my thrift store detox, and I went to my thrift store twice this week (to drop off donations, I didn't actually set foot inside the store, which takes way more willpower than just not going to base in the first place!) I even managed my one-clicking a little bit better this week. There were a few good sales I couldn't pass up, but just a few. 

On that note, here are the books I picked up this week.

The Twelve Lays of Christmas: Part 1 by Veronica Vixen - I'd already pre-ordered part II so I figured I should go ahead and buy part I. And I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm probably going to need these short reads to achieve Santa Status in the 12 Books of Christmas reading challenge. 
180 Seconds by Jessica Park - I got this audiobook on sale for $2.95 (it was the audible daily deal a few days ago). I know a few of the Platypires really like Jessica Park, so I figured I could give one of her audiobooks a shot for that price. 
Claiming Bailey by Susan Stoker - I snagged this as a freebie (no longer free). I'm not sure where I saw it posted, but I decided I needed it. 
Guardians of Time by Sarah Woodbury - I snagged this book for 99 cents (still 99 cents) because it's set during Christmas time, at least it better be with that Christmas tree on the cover. It's the 11th book in the series, and you're apparently not supposed to read them out of order, but I'm going to anyway because that's how I roll. 
Holiday Spice by Samantha Chase - I snagged this holiday themed read on sale for just $1.99 (no longer on sale). In case you think there's a pattern here, there is. 
The 12 Slays of Christmas by Various Authors - This is a set of 12 holiday themed novels or novellas WITH recipes for just 99 cents. I couldn't pass that up when I found it. 
Eve of the Pharaoh by R.M. Shultz - I got this book as a freebie (no longer free). I don't remember why. 
Earthseed: The Complete Series by Octavia E. Butler - I got this on sale for $1.99 (no longer on sale). There is an author that often shares Ms. Butler's books when they're on sale and I usually one-click based on her recommendations (this one I actually found by checking the Kindle Daily Deals though). 
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller - I snagged this book on sale for $1.99 (no longer on sale). I actually read an ARC copy of this book and just need to get my review posted, but I've been having trouble putting my feelings for it into words. I liked it enough to go ahead and buy the book on sale though. 
Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett - This was the Audible Daily Deal on Thursday and I was able to snag the audiobook for $1.95, which was great because it got me another holiday read in while I was baking cookies this week. Now I've just gotta' get the review written. 

And that is all of the books that I picked up this week. It's a super short list for me because I was exercising restraint, a feat I accomplished by simply not having much time to spend on the computer this week as I spent most of it baking. 

So what new books have you added to your shelves this past week? - Katie 

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to drop a link to your post. It may take me a few days to get around to checking out your list because my weekend is booked solid, but I want to see all your new pretties too.*


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

*Book Blogger Hop* 8 December 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 celebrate Christmas, do you feel the need to stop reading anything but Christmas-themed romances as the holiday season starts? (submitted by Maria @ A Night's Dream of Books)
Yes and no. Right around Thanksgiving I start to get the undeniable need to read Christmas themed romances, sure, but once I get a couple of them under my belt, that need abates a little and I start to switch between Christmas themed books and just normal books.

But that need was the inspiration for me to host a 12 Books of Christmas reading challenge this year (and if you get the same need, I'd love to have you join in, you can find out more details by clicking on the caption for the image below.) The linky included is also good for getting holiday themed book recommendations, if you're looking for those.

What about you? Do you feel the strong need to read holiday themed romances during this time of year? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to leave a link to your post so I can visit you back. It may take a few days as my weekend is booked solid with activities, but I will come check you out, promise.*

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

Monday, December 4, 2017

*Top Ten Tuesday* Bookish Settings I'd Love to Visit


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 bookish settings I'd love to visit.

1: Hogwarts. Top of the list; first place I always think of when asked what fictional place I'd like to go to. I need to go to Hogwarts to eat the feasts and learn how to turn my enemies into ferrets. I'm actually slightly disappointed with myself for not making it to England for the Hogwarts experience thing while living in Germany (way cheaper to get to England from Germany than the US), but I found out early on that I hate traveling and sight-seeing with my children, and I hate that more than I wanted to go to fake Hogwarts.

2: Planet Draga. This is where Adelina from Emma Dean's Draga Court series lives, and the world just sounds so intriguing. Also, I need to go there so I can understand exactly how the city is set up, like I have a definite image in my head, but to be sure that it matches the actual description, I'd have to see it. Also, I really want to try the alien to me foods.

3: The Shire. I've never read The Hobbit or any of the Lord of the Rings books, and I haven't watched the movies either, but I know that hobbits are all about things like 2nd breakfast and Elevensies, and I like food, so that is something I would like to take part in. I feel a deep connection with hobbits in general, even though I've failed to make a connection with the books.

4: Julia Child's Kitchen. I'm going to have to go back in time for this one, because it's very important to me that she be in it cooking, testing recipes for her cookbook. I'd love to volunteer as a taste tester for her.

5: Pearlestria. This is the most prominent mermaid "village" in Ginna Moran's Diving Under series. Sure, I'd need to become a mermaid for the true experience, but I'd be willing to make that sacrifice. And I think I'd handle it better than Ava does because I already like raw fish.

And that's the extent of my itemized list, because in most cases I'd love to visit the settings of the books I read. A few notable exceptions would be concentration camps during WWII (they are depressing enough to visit now, over 70 years later), Westeros from George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, Panem from The Hunger Games (with the exception of The Capital), honestly, just about any low-class dystopian settlement because they always get the raw end of the deal but tend to be the focus of the stories (for good reason). It's really easier to list bookish settings I'd rather avoid than the ones I want to visit, because the list is much smaller.

So what about you? What are some bookish settings you'd love to visit? - Katie

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

*Mail Call* November 2017

November is over and Christmas season is finally here (also, my birthday is coming up soon in case you forgot, there's still time to get me a present. LOL.) That means that it's time for another mail call post to tell you all about the books I got in the mail in the month of November. So, here we go.


The Italian Party by Christina Lynch

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

A delicious and sharply funny page-turner about "innocent" Americans abroad in 1950s Siena, Italy. Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany's famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.

When Scottie's Italian teacher--a teenager with secrets of his own--disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael's dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.

Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America's role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.


Divas in the Convent by Craig A. Monson

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

When eight-year-old Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana (1590–1662) entered one of the preeminent convents in Bologna in 1598, she had no idea what cloistered life had in store for her. Thanks to clandestine instruction from a local maestro di cappella—and despite the church hierarchy’s vehement opposition to all convent music—Vizzana became the star of the convent, composing works so thoroughly modern and expressive that a recent critic described them as “historical treasures.” But at the very moment when Vizzana’s works appeared in 1623—she would be the only Bolognese nun ever to publish her music—extraordinary troubles beset her and her fellow nuns, as episcopal authorities arrived to investigate anonymous allegations of sisterly improprieties with male members of their order.
           
Craig A. Monson retells the story of Vizzana and the nuns of Santa Cristina to elucidate the role that music played in the lives of these cloistered women. Gifted singers, instrumentalists, and composers, these nuns used music not only to forge links with the community beyond convent walls, but also to challenge and circumvent ecclesiastical authority. Monson explains how the sisters of Santa Cristina—refusing to accept what the church hierarchy called God’s will and what the nuns perceived as a besmirching of their honor—fought back with words and music, and when these proved futile, with bricks, roof tiles, and stones. These women defied one Bolognese archbishop after another, cardinals in Rome, and even the pope himself, until threats of excommunication and abandonment by their families brought them to their knees twenty-five years later. By then, Santa Cristina’s imaginative but frail composer literally had been driven mad by the conflict.
           
Monson’s fascinating narrative relies heavily on the words of its various protagonists, on both sides of the cloister wall, who emerge vividly as imaginative, independent-minded, and not always sympathetic figures. In restoring the musically gifted Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana to history, Monson introduces readers to the full range of captivating characters who played their parts in seventeenth-century convent life.


The Company of Demons by Michael Jordan

Photo Credit: Goodreads



Synopsis

The brutal murder of a friend leaves lawyer John Coleman stunned and sends shockwaves through the city of Cleveland. The technique of the killing recalls memories of the Torso Murderer, who dismembered at least twelve people decades ago and then vanished—eluding even legendary crime fighter Eliot Ness. Jennifer, the victim’s beautiful daughter, hires John to handle her father’s estate, and romantic feelings for her soon complicate his already troubled marriage. When John finds himself entangled with a cold-blooded biker gang, an ex-cop with a fuzzy past, and the drug-addicted son of the dead man, he struggles to make sense of it all.

But there is no escaping a growing sense of dread.




The Two Most Important Days by Sanjiv Chopra and Gina Vild

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

What are the two most important days in your life? -The day you are born and the day you find out why, - Mark Twain famously wrote.

The search for happiness is hardwired in our DNA. It transcends age, gender, geography, vocation, and personal circumstances. But how do you achieve it?

Through inspirational storytelling, scientific evidence, practical advice, captivating exercises, and poetry, Dr. Sanjiv Chopra and Gina Vild present a powerful message that shows you how to achieve happiness no matter the challenges and stumbling blocks you face along the way. They also reveal the best way to be happy: Discover and live your life's purpose. It's a sure path to human flourishing. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that living with purpose can even add years to your life.

Do you know your life's purpose? This book offers a path to discovering it by illuminating the value of gratitude, forgiveness, meditation, music, friendship and so much more. It will set you on the right path and spark sustained happiness, joy and bliss.


The Theory of Material Mind by Philip Hodgetts

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

The theory is basically an analysis of the physical and metaphysical mechanisms involved in the generation of paranormal or, more scientifically expressed, parapsychological phenomena. It includes a logical and undeniable proof that there is truth in astrology as in all the divinatory arts to a greater or lesser degree. It also contains a proof of the existence of the soul or spirit and explains that the personal unconscious is motivated by a metaphysical intelligence, the generator of enthusiasm which I, along with the ancient Greeks, know as the god within, the mischievous root and origin of all parapsychological phenomena.

The theory also explains that all life, past or present, is joined by or immersed in a subtle fluid which I call psychoplasma. This is the medium of telepathy and much, if not all, other paranormal phenomena. "All life, past or present" implies that there is an afterlife, which I have found to be true. Psychoplasma is a mixture or compound of conscious, metaphysical "spirit" and physical bioplasma that is secreted in the cells of all living matter and is the reason for the theory's title of "material mind." My theory, which incorporates metaphysical entities, comes down strongly in support of intelligent design as a complement to natural selection--the two of them work together, ID providing the motive force for change and NS the template for design. Atheism is rejected as no longer tenable, though the existence of a supreme being is denied, for as well as the metaphysical god within, it would appear that there are indeed mysteries probably responsible for the origin of the universe, which science will never explain.

The theory is extremely subversive and strikes at the roots, though not invalidating, all of established science, including evolutionary theory and physics.


Inside the Tree by C.J. Milbrandt

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

Inside the Tree: A Ewan Johns Adventure – Ewan Johns has to raise money for three train tickets, so he takes a job in Charter. While he’s at work, Tamaqua and Juniata discover that the big, old tree on the village green is being used as a mailbox. 

WELCOME TO LIBERTY. Big cities and hill-country outposts thrive on busy byways, but people are scarce in the Wilds, where mythical creatures are alive and well. Folks commonly use lanterns to light their homes, and peace is kept by Rangers on horseback. In the Byways books, readers will encounter dragons, griffins, river monsters, and rogue magicians. 

Magic is a rare trait that runs in families. Some magical gifts are quite useful; others are downright quirky. Like the talent inherited by members of the Johns family. They’re Changers who can take the form of an animal. Not that magic will make winning the race any easier for Ewan, Zane, and Ganix. 

LEARNING MADE FUN. The Byways books take readers on a cross-country road trip through a fantasy landscape. But the series isn’t just a story. This is one long game, and you can play. Hide and seek! Search and find! Each Byways book is tied to one of the USA’s fifty states. Details are “hidden” within the story. Book 5 covers “The Constitution State,” Connecticut. 

The Byways books are geared for young readers who are ready for their first chapter books (K-2). Cover art and illustrations by Hannah Christenson. Look for upcoming titles, cast pictures, teacher resources, waypoint log, and a special hometown challenge at CJMilbrandt.com.


The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

At 30 years old, Lewis Howes was outwardly thriving but unfulfilled inside. He was a successful athlete and businessman, achieving goals beyond his wildest dreams, but he felt empty, angry, frustrated, and always chasing something that was never enough. His whole identity had been built on misguided beliefs about what "masculinity" was.

Howes began a personal journey to find inner peace and to uncover the many masks that men – young and old – wear. In The Mask of Masculinity, Howes exposes the ultimate emptiness of the Material Mask, the man who chases wealth above all things; the cowering vulnerability that hides behind the Joker and Stoic Masks of men who never show real emotion; and the destructiveness of the Invincible and Aggressive Masks worn by men who take insane risks or can never back down from a fight. He teaches men how to break through the walls that hold them back and shows women how they can better understand the men in their lives. It's not easy, but if you want to love, be loved and live a great life, then it's an odyssey of self-discovery that all modern men must make. This book is a must-read for every man – and for every woman who loves a man.


A Season of You by Emma Douglas

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

It's Christmastime in the quaint island town of Cloud Bay, where love is always in season... Will Fraser has believed in love at first sight since the day he first laid eyes on Mina Harper five years ago. There was only one problem: She was happily married. Then, when Mina's husband was killed by a drunk driver, Will figured she'd want nothing to do with a guy who owns a whiskey distillery. So he's kept his feelings locked away, knowing that not even a Christmas miracle would be enough to melt Mina's heart. . . 

Mina believes her days of true love are behind her. Since losing her husband she's kept to herself, content to do her own painting and stay out of the limelight that comes with her famous family. But when, after a freak accident, Will comes to her rescue, Mina can't quite get him out of her mind. As curiosity turns into a fling during Cloud Bay's first Christmas Festival, she finds it harder to convince herself that her feelings for Will are just mistletoe-inspired. Could Mina be ready to lay the past to rest and finally admit that what she really wants for Christmas--and forever--is Will?


Scarlet City by Rebekah Haas

Photo Credit: Goodreads



Synopsis

In a time where most adults have been brainwashed or killed, the teens must rise up and take their place. Brooklyn Trupp is an innocent sixteen-year old girl from Missouri who finds herself training to take down rebel forces. It is only when she meets Boston Sharp that she realizes that things aren’t always how they seem. Suddenly, she finds herself wandering through the backwoods of Missouri with Boston, trying to figure out which cause to fight for. After all, lines blur when you don’t know who’s on your side. 

In her debut novel, Rebekah Haas shares an exciting story of love, adventure, and faith set in the not so distant future.





Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

In Gods of Howl Mountain, award-winning author Taylor Brown explores a world of folk healers, whiskey-runners, and dark family secrets in the high country of 1950s North Carolina.

Bootlegger Rory Docherty has returned home to the fabled mountain of his childhood - a misty wilderness that holds its secrets close and keeps the outside world at gunpoint. Slowed by a wooden leg and haunted by memories of the Korean War, Rory runs bootleg whiskey for a powerful mountain clan in a retro-fitted '40 Ford coupe. Between deliveries to roadhouses, brothels, and private clients, he lives with his formidable grandmother, evades federal agents, and stokes the wrath of a rival runner.

In the mill town at the foot of the mountains - a hotbed of violence, moonshine, and the burgeoning sport of stock-car racing - Rory is bewitched by the mysterious daughter of a snake-handling preacher. His grandmother, Maybelline “Granny May” Docherty, opposes this match for her own reasons, believing that "some things are best left buried." A folk healer whose powers are rumored to rival those of a wood witch, she concocts potions and cures for the people of the mountains while harboring an explosive secret about Rory’s mother - the truth behind her long confinement in a mental hospital, during which time she has not spoken one word. When Rory's life is threatened, Granny must decide whether to reveal what she knows...or protect her only grandson from the past.

With gritty and atmospheric prose, Taylor Brown brings to life a perilous mountain and the family who rules it.


Lines by Sarvinder Naberhaus

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

This beautifully illustrated board book shows readers how lines make up a whole: a whole square, house, town, city, and universe!

Line, Lines
Square, Squares
Town
Line, Lines
Circle, Circles
Go round

Think beyond shapes. Beyond colors. Beyond letters and numbers. With poetic text and beautiful illustrations, this board book shows us how individual pieces make up a whole. And not just a whole house or a whole town, or a whole city, but a whole universe. This book celebrates both the simplicity and complexity of the world around us!



Trenton Makes by Tadzio Koelb

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

A vivid, brutal, razor-sharp debut about a woman who carves out her share of the American Dream by living as a man

1946: At the apogee of the American Century, the confidence inspired by victory in World War II has spawned a culture of suffocating conformity in thrall to the cult of masculine privilege.

In the hardscrabble industrial city of Trenton, New Jersey, a woman made strong by wartime factory work kills her army veteran husband in a domestic brawl, disposes of his body, and assumes his identity. As Abe Kunstler, he secures a job in a wire rope factory, buys a car, and successfully woos Inez, an alcoholic dime dancer. He makes a home with her, but for Abe, this is not enough: to complete his transformation, he needs a son.

1971: A very different war is under way. The certainties of mid-century triumphalism are a distant, bitter memory, and Trenton's heyday as a factory town is long past. As the sign on the famous bridge says, "Trenton Makes, the World Takes."

The family life Abe has so carefully constructed is crumbling under the intolerable pressures of his long ruse. Desperate to hold on to what he has left, Abe searches for solutions in the dying city.

Written in brilliantly stylized prose, this gripping narrative is a provocative and incisive exploration of the nature of identity, and a disturbing portrait of desperation. Tadzio Koelb has crafted a slim gut shot of a novel that heralds the arrival of a writer of startling talent and imagination.


Green by Sam Graham-Felsen

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

A novel of race and privilege in America that you haven't seen before: a coming-of-age story about a life-changing friendship, propelled by an exuberant, unforgettable voice.

"This isn't some Jedi bull****; the force I'm talking about is real, and its energies are everywhere, working on everyone."

Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King Middle School. Everybody clowns him, girls ignore him, and his hippie parents won't even buy him a pair of Nikes, let alone transfer him to a private school. Unless he tests into the city's best public high school--which, if practice tests are any indication, isn't likely--he'll be friendless for the foreseeable future.

Nobody's more surprised than Dave when Marlon Wellings sticks up for him in the school cafeteria. Mar's a loner from the public housing project on the corner of Dave's own gentrifying block, and he confounds Dave's assumptions about black culture: He's nerdy and neurotic, a Celtics obsessive whose favorite player is the gawky, white Larry Bird. Together, the two boys are able to resist the contradictory personas forced on them by the outside world, and before long, Mar's coming over to Dave's house every afternoon to watch vintage basketball tapes and plot their hustle to Harvard. But as Dave welcomes his new best friend into his world, he realizes how little he knows about Mar's. Cracks gradually form in their relationship, and Dave starts to become aware of the breaks he's been given--and that Mar has not.

Infectiously funny about the highs and lows of adolescence, and sharply honest in the face of injustice, Sam Graham-Felsen's debut is a wildly original take on the struggle to rise in America.


Skyscraper of a Man by Michael Bowe

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

Skyscraper of a Man is a truly American story. Rooted in the homogenous suburbs of the 1970s, the novel explores the American propensity to pursue great ambitions, regardless of upbringing, that can result in lives that are larger than life. The four main characters meet at college and forge such lives, each achieving remarkable success in their chosen pursuits while condoning the choices that enable their success. The main character, Benjamin Franklin Matthews, the son of a printer and avid Revolutionary War buff, believes deeply in America, its founding principles, and “by the people, for the people” government. Inspired by the grand ideals of the Founding Fathers, Ben starts a newspaper and runs for political office, efforts aimed at righting a nation he perceives as falling short of its potential and promise. His three college friends, a writer who is also his business partner, a television news anchorwoman who was his lover, and a former college football star, play contributing roles in his rise to national prominence. In the end, Ben learns that grand ideals are elusive, difficult to maintain, and better left to the perfect among us. 



Finally by U.M. Hiram

Photo Credit: Goodreads





Synopsis

After four years of love and trials, Michelle finally received the marriage proposal of her dreams from Michael. It seemed as if all was right in their world until his roaming ways caught up with him, causing Michael to make the worse possible decision of his life. Lives were forever changed and destiny played out in the most unexpected ways.






The Complete Ballet by John Haskell

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

A dark-hued, hybrid novel by a writer who delivers our culture back to us, made entirely new (A. M. Homes)

In The Complete Ballet, John Haskell choreographs an intricate and irresistible pas de deux in which fiction and criticism come together to create a new kind of story. Fueled by the dramatic retelling of five romantic ballets, and interwoven with a contemporary story about a man whose daunting gambling debt pushes him to the edge of his own abyss, it is both a pulpy entertainment and a meditation on the physicality and psychology of dance.

The unnamed narrator finds himself inexorably drawn back to the pre cell phone world of Technicolor Los Angeles, to a time when the tragedies of his life were about to collide. Working as a part-time masseur in Hollywood, he attends an underground poker game with his friend Cosmo, a strip-club entrepreneur. What happens there hurtles the narrator down the road and into the room where the novel s violent and surreal showdown leaves him a different person.

As the narrator revisits his past, he simultaneously inhabits and reconstructs the mythic stories of ballet, assessing along the way the lives and obsessions of Nijinsky and Balanchine, Pavlova and Fonteyn, Joseph Cornell and the story s presiding spirit, the film director John Cassavetes. This compulsively readable fiction is ultimately a profound and haunting consideration of the nature of art and identity.


Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer. 

1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer's going to be great.


Everyday Life in Bible Times by John A. Beck

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Synopsis

The authors of the Bible routinely employed mention of manners and customs from the ancient world in their inspired writing, fully intending that the Lord would change readers with these images. But modern readers often miss the full literal and figurative meaning of biblical imagery due to the distance in time and experience between the world of today and the world of the Bible. This fully illustrated guide aims to restore clarity and vitality to these portions of God's Word in order to help readers grasp the full meaning of Scripture. For example, the entry on anointing defines the nature of this act and the connotations associated with it before illustrating how the biblical authors use the act of anointing in their communication with us--communication that reaches its full maturity in Jesus, the Anointed One. Understanding manners and customs like anointing enriches our experience of reading the Bible--and even helps us correctly interpret it.

This colorful guide clearly and succinctly introduces modern readers to daily life in Bible times. The cultural practices of the past are fascinating on their own, but even more so as they help us grasp the full meaning of Scripture.


Code Name Scorpion by Donna Gustainis Fuller

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Synopsis

When Trevor Willis offers Dani Carpenter her dream job as director of a new camp for children, she is thrilled. Dani intends to keep Trevor, a family friend and confirmed bachelor, at arm’s length. But her heart changes toward him as they team up to protect Ady, the young daughter of a kidnapped scientist. After Trevor testifies against the son of Don Francisco Morales, a major supplier of heroin into the United States, Morales (aka the Scorpion) targets Trevor in a personal vendetta to destroy his reputation and then destroy everyone Trevor loves. With Ady tucked away in a secure location, Dani and Trevor embark on a chase that takes them from the forests of the Pacific Northwest to the jungles of Mexico. They must stop the Scorpion before he strikes again.






Scabland by Adam Smith

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Synopsis

When Melissa Cohen was 18 a cruel attack ruined her dream of becoming a psychiatrist. Ever since, she’s been unable to commit to any relationship or career. She’s been a soldier in the Israeli army, an Israeli federal agent, a Miami police officer and a forensic photographer. Now 38, she’s a successful paparazzi photographer. 

For 20 years Melissa assumed her attackers didn’t know her identity. But one does. Dying from the mysterious Burning-Heart Virus that’s ravaging the nation, he confesses to her. He doesn’t tell the other rapists who she is, but he tells them she knows who they are now—except for one, a sadist he only knows as Spider. When Spider starts killing off anyone who can identify him, Melissa is forced into a deadly race to discover his identity before he discovers hers. All the skills Melissa learned at her former jobs fall into place as if she’d been unconsciously training for this hunt all along. But Melissa isn’t out to kill. This would-be psychiatrist has had a long time to think about rape, and she has a cure. And now she has the perfect test subject in her sights.


Welding Complete 2nd Edition by Michael A. Reeser

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Synopsis

Welding is a fun and surprisingly affordable activity, with complete welding kits available at home-improvement stores for a few hundred dollars. This book shows you everything you need to know to become a competent and safe welder of a wide variety of metal projects. Featured projects include a coffee table, magazine rack, wine rack, truck rack, firepit, and gate.

The time has never been better to learn to weld. New tools and equipment are lower in price and easier to use. Growing interest in metalworking has made supplies easier to come by, with most home-improvement stores now stocking a variety of metals and fuels. As interest in welding expands, the number of great plans and designs continues to grow. For evidence you need only open this updated edition of Welding Complete. Packed with fresh designs and up-to-date information, this new book is your personal metal shop teacher.



Praxis Core Study Guide by Cirrus Test Prep

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Synopsis

Cirrus Test Prep’s Praxis Core Study Guide 2018-2019: Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Exam Prep and Practice Test Questions (5712, 5722, 5732) will provide you with a detailed overview of the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators, so you know exactly what to expect on test day. We’ll take you through all the concepts covered on the test and give you the opportunity to test your knowledge with Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators practice questions. Even if it’s been a while since you last took a major test, don’t worry; we’ll make sure you’re more than ready!

Cirrus Test Prep’s Praxis Core Study Guide 2018-2019: Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Exam Prep and Practice Test Questions (5712, 5722, 5732) includes:

A comprehensive REVIEW of:

READING

Reading Skills

WRITING

Language and Research Skills
Writing the Essay

MATHEMATICS

Numbers and Operations
Algebra
Geometry
Statistics and Probability

…as well as a FULL Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators practice test.


SIFT Study Guide by Trivium Test Prep

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Synopsis

Trivium Test Prep’s SIFT Study Guide 2018-2019: SIFT Test Prep and Practice Test Questions for the U.S. Army's Selection Instrument for Flight Training Test offers:

A detailed overview of what you need to know for SIFT, so that you know exactly what to expect on the SIFT exam
Trivium Test Prep’s SIFT study guide also covers all of the subjects over which you will be tested
Includes over 300 SIFT practice questions for you to practice and improve
Test tips and strategies to help you score higher on the SIFT
Trivium Test Prep’s SIFT Study Guide 2018-2019: SIFT Test Prep and Practice Test Questions for the U.S. Army's Selection Instrument for Flight Training Test includes: 

Simple Figures
Hidden Figures
Aviation Information
Spatial Appreciation 
Reading Comprehension
Math Skills
Mechanical Comprehension
and TWO FULL SIFT practice tests!

About Trivium Test Prep

Trivium Test Prep is an independent test prep study guide company that produces and prints all of our books right here in the USA. Our dedicated professionals know how people think and learn, and have created our SIFT book based on what research has shown to be the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to prepare for the exam. Unlike other study guides that are stamped out in a generic fashion, our SIFT test prep manual is specifically tailored for your exact needs.


Luminescence by Brandon Woeffel

Photo Credit: Goodreads



Synopsis

Luminescence contains 218 photographs printed in full-colour from Brandon Woelfel. Photographs have been artfully curated by Brandon and consist of his best-of published work and numerous unpublished photographs.

Not available on Amazon




Oops-A-Daisy by Melody Delgado

Photo Credit: Goodreads





Synopsis

Who wants to be stuck wearing a shaggy dog outfit or a chicken suit on television? Twelve-year-old aspiring singer, actress, Daisy De la Cruz, that’s who. She’ll do and wear just about anything to get ahead in the entertainment industry. But will all her embarrassing moments pay off and land her a spot in her arts magnet school’s coveted master class where she’ll be rubbing shoulders with top professionals in the entertainment industry? Or will she be doomed to play the role of an animal, vegetable or mineral forever?






Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity. 

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe. 

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.


The Doctor, the Chef or the Fireman by Debbie K. Lum

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Synopsis

Kendra King ran away from her boyfriend so fast, she almost left her favorite Louis purse behind. Newly-minted doctor Christopher Randall had been the man of her dreams, until she uncovered his dangerous secret. 

Moving from Richmond, Virginia to nearby Cory City was easier for the 26-year-old than confronting her ex, and she busied herself with her new career. Soon, handsome fireman Matt Livingston softens her broken heart and life in Cory City looks as rosy as the flowers Matt sends her every week. Even daily breakfast at the local diner seems magical, and she quickly bonds with a misfit group of regulars including young chef Nolan Ford, who warms her soul with his blueberry pancakes and adorable southern smile. 

But when one of her new friends becomes suspiciously ill and scandal engulfs the fire department, Kendra sets out with Matt to prove his boss is crooked. She learns nothing in Cory City is as it seems and when her ex arrives in town, Kendra’s not sure who to trust. She begins to uncover the good, the bad and the ugly among the three men closest to her: the doctor, the chef and the fireman. And if she’s not careful, she might unleash the evil in one.
 


So that's all the books that I got in the mail this past month. Of these books, I think I'm most interested in reading Not Now, Not Ever and Divas in the Convent, although I may also take a gander at Season of you for the 12 Books of Christmas Challenge. 

Which of these books are you most interested in reading my review on? - Katie 

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

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