Tuesday, September 19, 2017

*Top Ten Tuesday* Books on my Fall TBR

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 on my Fall TBR. Now I'm notoriously bad at sticking to my TBR, and even committing to books once I've started them (there's a reason I have 31 books on my currently reading shelf on Goodreads), so this is going to be a list of books that I plan on FINALLY finishing this fall because I do what I want, and I will be reading them in the designated time period so it totes counts.

Here we go!

1: An Exaltation of Larks by Suanne Laqueur - I feel like I have been reading this book forever (it's been almost a full year), but that's because I HAVE to keep putting it down because it's intense. I'm like Joey on Friends, and if I wasn't worried about the cold damaging my Kindle, it would have made repeated trips to the freezer by now. But I am bound and determined to get this book finished and reviewed this fall.

2: Back of Beyond by Neeny Boucher - This is another book that I started over a year ago. It originally got put down because I had a couple proofreading jobs come in back to back that needed my attention more, and somehow I have just not gotten back to this. But it's high time I did.

3: The Voyage by Tammie Painter - I received an ARC of this book over two years ago and I have not finished reading it yet. I try to do the right thing, but sometimes the ARCs are just so tempting I have to say yes, but then I fail to follow through because I'm a horrible human being sometimes.

4: Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz - I've ONLY been reading this book since February, but I got an ARC of it through Netgalley so I should really get it finished seven months ago. Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

5: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd - This was one of the first books I started reading for book club at our current duty station. That was about 2.5 years ago. It's clearly time I finish this book.

6: Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder - I've been reading this book for over two years now. It's a bit more dry than I was expecting (I don't know why I wasn't expecting it to be dry, it's non-fiction) so I just haven't felt pulled towards finishing it.

7: Give Me Your Answer True by Suanne Laqueur - This was a book I picked for my book club to read over two years ago. Most of the members that started it also finished it before the meeting, but not me! In my defense, this is The Man I Love from Daisy's perspective, and while it's very much a different story, the part before their lives diverge is somewhat predictable, so it was slow reading...and then the meeting was over and the urgency to finish was gone and somehow it got put on the way-back burner. Fortunately it should have aged well back there.

8: The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen - This book has been languishing on my currently reading shelf for just over a year now. It was a book club pick that was intriguing, but for some reason got put off until the last minute (because that's how I do everything if I'm being honest) and I didn't end up finishing it in time. Honestly, I think I'm only at like 30% in this story, but I'm going to finish it this fall, probably.

9: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck - I only started this book back in like April or May for book club, and being WWII era historical fiction, I should have plowed right through it, but I think I had several back to back proofreading jobs at that time, so this was just not a priority. Also, I'm only like twenty pages into it, so it hadn't even really gotten particularly interesting yet.

10: Squirrel Bait by C.P. Davis - This is a book that I should have read back in February of 2016 when it first released (it's less than 100 pages long so it's not a particularly big commitment), but I bought my copy of the book, so there's really no review requirement there and other things have just felt either more pressing or more entertaining since then. When you add to that the fact that nagging me usually gets the opposite of the desired result, I've sort of been ignoring reading the book out of spite (to an extent). And I'd originally intended to save this book until next March (so I could post the review on April 1st, although I can still save the review until April 1st I guess), I have since decided that I want to clear up my currently reading shelf before the end of the year, so it's gotta' go!

So there you have it. Exactly ten books that I plan on finishing reading this fall because they've been on my currently reading shelf for way too long.

What books are you looking forward to reading this fall? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the link up, please be sure to leave a link to your post so I can check out your list as well.* 

Monday, September 18, 2017

#MadLibMonday - It by Stephen King

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: Plural noun
2: Adjective
3: Verb
4: Adverb
5: Plural noun
6: Verb ending in ing
7: Verb, past tense
8: Verb
9: Adjective
10: Plural noun

Genre: Horror
Published: September 1986
Pages: 1396

To the (   1: Plural noun   ), the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: (   2: Adjective   ), well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who (   3: Verb   ) - and felt - what made Derry so (   4: Adverb   ) different. In the storm (   5: Plural noun   ), in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, (   6: Verb ending in ing   ) . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children (   7: Verb, past tense   ) up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to (   8: Verb   ) IT as IT stirred and coiled in the (   9: Adjective   ) depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past (   10: Plural noun   ) a terrible present reality.

Now that your fun is through, here is the real blurb for It by Stephen King.

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw - and felt - what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

If you enjoyed this mad lib, please comment with your list below so that the rest of us can get a chuckle out of it as well. And be sure to share it on your favorite social media sites. - Katie 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

#SneakPeekSunday - Calling Major Tom by David Barnett

Title: Calling Major Tom
Author: David M. Barnett
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: June 18, 2017
Publisher: Trapeze Books
Pages: 304


CALLING MAJOR TOM is a heart-warming and ultimately life-affirming story of a man who has given up on the world... but discovers in the most unlikely way that it might not have given up on him.

We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents' Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don't have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he's about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world.

Sneak Peek Review

I received a copy of this sneak peek from Trapeze Books through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

I'm back to being me again and didn't read the synopsis before starting this sneak peek, and based on the title, I was expecting a book, probably romance, that involved phone calls between a soldier (Major Tom) and likely his significant other, the two of them separated by an ocean because of a deployment. That's not what this book is about at all. No, this book is about a man named Tom Major (who is also a Major like the military rank now I think), on a one-way trip to Mars to set it up for future settlement (it seems). 

Because this is a sneak peek, I only got a small taste of each of the main characters personalities. This story seems to be told from the perspectives of two characters, Major Tom and Gladys, an elderly woman in England who seems to suffer from Alzheimer's from the brief glimpse I got into her life. At first I was not sure how the two perspectives were connected aside from the fact that they're both British, but I've since come to the conclusion that they spend a lot of time talking on the phone during Tom's trip to Mars. 

I noticed that another reviewer said this book was "on par with A Man Called Ove" and while I cannot say for sure that that is an accurate assessment of the book as a whole, Tom definitely has some very Ove-like qualities to his personality, so I am inclined to believe them. I can definitely see how this story may play out in a somewhat similar fashion to A Man Called Ove as well. 

There was one line early on that made me giggle. There's a bit where Tom mentions that his training manuals indicate that his job on Mars will involve survival and a lot of potato farming, which I feel is a pretty clear reference to The Martian by Andy Weir. That made me wonder if the "training manual" in question is actually a copy of The Martian. From what I can gather about Tom's personality, that seems plausible. 

So would I buy this book? Yeah, probably. Although I'm not in a big hurry to continue reading it, so I'd be inclined to wait for a sale myself. - Katie 

Buy the Book

Saturday, September 16, 2017

*Stacking the Shelves* 16 September 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!

Now, I already have a monthly post I do featuring the books I get in the mail (and it's a lot because I have a serious Goodreads First Reads giveaway addiction), and I'm going to try to start posting my monthly Read-A-Thon posts again too (even if none of the Platypires will be joining me), which will cover the books I receive through Netgalley. But I also go to my thrift store at least once a week, and often leave with a bag full of books. It's such a common occurrence that I'm known as The Book Lady to the frequent volunteers (and I suspect that they've started scheduling their $1 bag of books sales for Thursdays simply because that is the day I usually visit.) So my Stacking the Shelves posts are going to focus on my thrift store hauls, because this is my blog and I do what I want. 

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

Frankenstein's Dog by R.L. Stein - This is from the Goosebumps Most Wanted series. I haven't read it, but it's a Goosebumps book so I'm sure it's good. 
The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile by C.W. Gortner - It's historical fiction, and with my recent visit to Neuschwanstein Castle (Walt Disney's inspiration for Cinderella's castle), I'm super into royalty right now. 
Winter's Child by Cameron Dokey - This is from the Once Upon a Time series, so I imagine that it's a fairytale retelling. 
The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey - This is also from the Once Upon a Time series. 
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The book snob in me desperately clamored for this classic. 
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano - My copy of this book has some underlining and notes in the margins. 
American Spring by Walter R. Borneman - This is nonfiction about the American Revolution. It should be at least a little bit educational. 
John Adams by David McCullough - This is a Pulitzer Prize winning biography about one of our founding fathers. Again, educational. 
Anastasia Forever by Joy Preble - I'm imagining that this is speculative historical fiction about Anastasia Romanov...but I could be wrong. 
The Soldier Kings: The House of Hohenzollern by Walter Henry Nelson - This is about a royal German dynasty and should be educational. 
To Tell the Tooth by Gina Gold - My daughter asked for this Baby Looney Tunes book because she's obsessed with babies and thinks they look "so cute!"
The Bogle Wogles by Jennifer and Peter Hornsby - My daughter asked for this book too, because the illustrations are all black and white (it looks like a coloring book and maybe it really is). She wants to color it. 
Are We There Yet? by Elizabeth Levy - American history targeted towards children. Hopefully somewhat educational. 
Sleepover Party Mad Libs by Roger Price & Leonard Stern - In case you haven't seen my Mad Lib Monday posts, you should know that I love Mad Libs and I use them with my children to work on grammar. 
Smiling Hill Farm by Miriam E. Mason - This seems like one of those old-school readers (sort of like the Dick and Jane books) that might have been used in one-room schoolhouses on the frontier. 
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn - This was one of my book snob picks. 
Echoes by Melinda Metz - I'm not really sure why I picked up this book, it might be because it's three books combined into one volume. I really don't know. 
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith - This is book 14 from The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, and I own some of the other books in this series already, so I figured I needed this one as well. 
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson - My brother has spoken highly of this book and this author. I may already own a copy of the book, but I'm not sure. 
The Once and Future King by T.H. White - This was another book snob pick. And I think I already owned a copy of this, but I'm not 100% sure. 
Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger by Kevin Bolger - My son is currently really into the Captain Underpants series, and I figure this may appeal to him as well because it clearly relies on some potty humor. 
Piano Lessons Can Be Murder by R.L. Stein - This is a Goosebumps book, so I just had to buy it. 
Night of the Living Dummy III by R.L. Stein - Another Goosebumps book.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger - I have some of the books in this series, but I don't remember exactly which ones, so I wanted to buy this one in case it wasn't one of them. 
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse - I got a copy of the second book in this series at the thrift store a couple weeks ago (I think), so finding this first book in the series this week was awesome for me. 

So there you have it. All the books I picked up at my thrift store this week. This haul cost me a mere $1 because the books were on sale for 50 cents a bag and I needed two of the plastic bags to hold all my books. 

What books have you added to your shelves this week? - Katie 

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to leave a link to your post so I can check out all the books you got this week.*

Friday, September 15, 2017

*Book Blogger Hop* 15 September 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:

Have you ever bought a more expensive edition of a book, when a cheaper edition was available, just because you preferred the cover of the more expensive one? (submitted by Maria @ A Night's Dream of Books)
This is a bit of a trick question, I think. The short answer is no, basically. I pretty much always buy the cheapest version of a book I can find (I'm a big fan of mass market paperbacks). But I do have the set of Harry Potter books with the spines that make Hogwarts in my possession simply because I liked that cover design, and it was definitely not the cheapest version of the Harry Potter series that I could have bought. So I guess really the answer is yes, I have done this. Once. I'm not likely to ever do it again though (unless there are more new fun covers for Harry Potter because I have an obsession).

What about you? Have you ever bought a more expensive edition of a book because you liked the cover better? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the link up, please be sure to leave a link to your answer below so I can be sure to see what you had to say.* 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

*Mail Call* August 2017

Once again I'm a little bit late getting my mail call posted for the month. Turns out that planning a vacation for the very beginning of a month puts a major kink in my blogging. But I'm back home now and things are somewhat back to normal in my life (in other words I've caught up on all the laundry from vacation and gotten everything put back away mostly where it belongs) so it's high time I got caught up on blogging stuff today.

And without further ado, here are all the books I got in the mail in August.

Broken Lies by Roger Williams

Photo credit: Goodreads

Internal lies exist within each of us, obscured, denied, or resisted, however resident nevertheless. Some use various forms of behavior modification in an attempt to overcome their dysfunctions. Others insist upon acceptance of their mindsets and actions believing that this is who they are. And still others resolutely cling to familiar lies about themselves due to unhealthy attachment to them.

BROKEN LIES is the story of one such person, Chase Macklin, a former drug dealer, who one day has a vivid vision of himself trapped in the web of a hideous spider making her final spin. Suddenly released by a prodigious hand breaking through the webbing, Chase begins a journey of discovering freedom from tortuous and destructive internal lies. Continually haunted by the mystery of the hand and an accompanying voice, Chase considers results more important than the source of his rescue. Written with poignant reflections throughout, BROKEN LIES weaves marital infidelity, deep father issues, untimely deaths, and parental responsibility into a captivating life story of recognizing, breaking, and living free of personal lies.

I Was Told to Come Alone by Souad Mekhennet

Photo credit: Goodreads

"I was told to come alone. I was not to carry any identification, and would have to leave my cell phone, audio recorder, watch, and purse at my hotel. . . ."

For her whole life, Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for The Washington Post who was born and educated in Germany, has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing - Muslim and Western. She has also sought to provide a mediating voice between these cultures, which too often misunderstand each other.

In this compelling and evocative memoir, we accompany Mekhennet as she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. In her travels across the Middle East and North Africa, she documents her chilling run-ins with various intelligence services and shows why the Arab Spring never lived up to its promise. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner "Jihadi John," and then in France, Belgium, and her native Germany, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization.

Mekhennet's background has given her unique access to some of the world's most wanted men, who generally refuse to speak to Western journalists. She is not afraid to face personal danger to reach out to individuals in the inner circles of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and their affiliates; when she is told to come alone to an interview, she never knows what awaits at her destination.

Souad Mekhennet is an ideal guide to introduce us to the human beings behind the ominous headlines, as she shares her transformative journey with us. Hers is a story you will not soon forget.

Sky Woman by Britt DeLaney

Photo credit: Goodreads


Miranda "Miri" Reynolds was a fun-loving college student until she found herself transplanted to another world, as part of a cure to a genetic issue that's been plaguing the planet for over a century. After a rocky start, she's given refuge by a family of three gorgeous and determined brothers, all of whom have their eye on the beautiful "Sky Woman." When a secret is revealed that makes Miri a target, will the brothers of Falenua house be enough to protect her? And will Miri be able to overcome her own misgivings about their culture and find happiness - and love in - her new home? This book contains strong, detailed sexual content and is not suitable for readers under 17.

Rain in the Moonlight by Britt DeLaney

Photo credit: Goodreads


Ajan is a Hunter, hired to travel to another planet by the ruler of the Mountain City in order to find and capture the leader of an opposing faction. His plans go awry when he encounters Rain, a rebel woman from the River Valley who stirs him in dangerous ways, despite the fact that she seems intent on killing him. His people are known for their high sex drives and strong, primal reactions - Ajan isn't sure if he will he be able to control himself around Rain long enough to bring his target in. When secrets are revealed that make him question his mission, he finds himself working alongside Rain to get to the bottom of an interplanetary mystery that will change everything between them. Mature content, adult readers only.

Changeling by Britt DeLaney

Photo credit: Goodreads


Lizzie is kidnapped from Earth by a handsome stranger, only to find out her father was from another planet, and embroiled in a plot that threatens mankind all over the galaxy. She’s thrown together with Indar, a member of the Seeder Corps, and together they’re going to have to figure out a mystery that spans time and space – that is, if they can keep their hands off each other long enough to do so. Along the way, they’ll meet up with Miri, Raine, and their men – all of whom prove valuable in solving an intergalactic puzzle. This book contains strong sexual content and is not suitable for readers under 17.

Fed Up by C.P. Henderson

Photo credit: Goodreads


Fed Up chronicles the daily trials and tribulations of a young African-American woman as she navigates through the ins and outs of working for the United States federal government. Full of energy and gusto, the novel takes you on an exploration of her inner thoughts as she deals with some of the government's 'finest.'

The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang

Photo credit: Goodreads

A novel rooted in the remarkable, but little-known, true history of the only secessionist town north of the Mason Dixon Line.

When escaped slave, Joe Bell, collapses in her father’s barn, Mary Willis must ward off Confederate guerillas and spies, Joe’s vengeful owner, and even her own brother to help the handsome fugitive cross to freedom.

Mary has always been an outcast, an outspoken abolitionist woman in a town of bounty hunters and anti-Union farmers. Helping runaways is the only thing that makes her life in Town Line bearable. As the countryside is riled by the drumbeat of civil war and the promise of an extravagant bounty for the wounded fugitive, Mary finds herself drawn to the stranger in forbidden ways. When rebels cross from nearby Canada intent on killing him, they bring the devastation of the brutal war to the town and the farm, and threaten to destroy all that Mary loves.

Celeste Files: Primal by Kristine Mason

Photo credit: Goodreads

Fear the living, not the dead…

John Kain’s wife, Celeste, has been abducted. With little evidence, the CORE investigator enlists the help of their clairvoyant, three-year-old daughter. He attempts to connect with Celeste through his preschooler, but he’s left with more questions than answers, and even more fear. Using psychic visions, his little girl somehow takes him into the paranormal world and shows him the horror his wife is facing—if he doesn’t find Celeste soon, he might never see her alive again.

Celeste has woken to a living nightmare. Thirty-five years ago, a psychiatrist obsessed with the supernatural had kidnapped her psychic mother. Although her mom had survived, the twisted doctor had murdered five other people like her, and thanks to her mom’s testimony, was sentenced to life in prison. Spurred by vengeance, the psychiatrist’s son is determined to continue with his father’s experiments, and he has a special room just for Celeste.

With the help of the dead, Celeste is doing everything possible to save herself from being tortured. But she’s running out of time. Her kidnapper believes he can enhance her psychic gift through brain surgery. The doctor is in….and he's insane.

Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man by Shari Tharp

Photo credit: Goodreads

Farmer Sam and his son Ryan are taking their prize pig to the county fair. Gertrude and Toby decide they have plenty of time to sneak off the farm for an extra adventure. But Gertrude and Toby soon discover that a giant has captured their friend, the Gingerbread Man! Gertrude and Toby come up with a plan to save him. But the giant, who is sleeping nearby, wakes up during their rescue!

Book 2 in the Gertrude and Toby fairy tale adventure book series

From the Publisher:
Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man is an exciting adventure story for children who are transitioning from beginning readers to chapter books. This is the perfect book for the child who has been tasked with the usual 30-minutes-per-night reading homework. From the standpoint of reading progression, this title fills a specific niche that represents a gap in the children's book market--longer illustrated children's books that are more complex and challenging than typical picture books.

Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man is also a fairy-tale adaptation. Many of the characters in Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man are traditional fairy-tale characters and will be immediately recognizable to most young readers. These characters include Hansel and Gretel, a flying carpet, an evil witch, the giant and the magic vine from Jack and the Beanstalk, and of course, the Gingerbread Man. The presence of these fairy-tale characters adds familiarity for young readers and keeps alive the old tales (e.g., those by the Brothers Grimm) that we have all come to know and love.

The first and third books in the series, Gertrude and Toby s Friday Adventure and Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf, follow the same approach of adapting fairy-tale tropes using fairy-tale characters in a contemporary setting. These modern stories have more complex plots and wording than those of standard picture books, but without the daunting word count of typical beginning chapter books.

We hope you love Gertrude and Toby and their series of adventure books as much as we do. Happy reading!

Gumnut: Where She Goes in Her Dreams by Lynette Collins

Photo credit: Goodreads


Gumnut: Where She Goes in Her Dreams is a wonderful tale about a fairy named Gumnut and how she was taken across the sea before she was even born. A caterpillar named Cat decided to hide in a gum tree to get away from a naughty bird named George, but what Cat did not know was Gumnut's egg lay inside.

This is a story about Gumnut the fairy and Cat the caterpillar and how they lived in a forest across the sea from where their families slept. But in Gumnut's dreams, she lived with her family and lived happily with her best friend, Jangles the sloth.

The Devil You Know by Mary Monroe

Photo credit: Goodreads

In the stunning climax of New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe's Lonely Heart, Deadly Heart series, the tension--and the heat--reach unforgettable heights as two restless women go after the ultimate satisfaction . . . and a killer desire prepares to strike . . . 

For best friends Lola Poole and Joan Proctor-Riley, there's never too much when it comes to online-dating rich, no-commitments lovers. It's a fantasy come true that makes their unhappy lives bearable. But there's no escape when Lola's vicious relatives cheat her out of everything that's hers, and Joan's husband pulls a devastating betrayal. With nothing to lose, the two will do everything and anything to lock down Mr. Right and lifetime satisfaction . . . 

With his scorching sexual healing and compassionate nature, handsome trucker Calvin Ramsey keeps coming out on top with Lola. And she's this close to winning his love and finally getting the loving family of her dreams. But she doesn't suspect that Calvin's idea of making a woman his own is a fatal affair. Now, his gentle reassurances and sensual promises are spinning a web where Lola and Joan's deepest longings could be the deadliest trap of all . . .

Oath Keeper by Daryle E.J. Simmons

Photo credit: Goodreads


Special Agent Daniel Wakefield with the US Secret Service is called in to help FBI Special Agent Sandra Elbee investigate a senator's bloody assassination. But murder begets murder, and as the suspect's body count grows, so too does the number of people in a divided nation who seem to want him to get away with his crimes - or even help the killer. A thought-provoking suspense thriller layered with action, humor, and political intrigue, OATH KEEPER calls to question the issues and limits of loyalty, patriotism, and honor. Fans of Lee Child (JACK REACHER) or Tom Clancy (PATRIOT GAMES) will want to wrap their hands around this quick read.

The World's Greatest Adventure Machine by Frank L. Cole

Photo credit: Goodreads

An adventure novel about four lucky kids and a mysterious, but thrilling ride for fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Jurassic Park!

CastleCorp and the famous Castleton brothers are unveiling the World's Greatest Adventure Machine! The roller coaster is an experience like no other, and four lucky kids have won the chance to be the first to ride it. 

There's Trevor, whose latest stunt got him in trouble at school again. There's Devin, whose father is pushing him to be the next Internet sensation. Nika's wealthy grandfather isn't too pleased about her participation. And Cameron, he'll be the first to tell you, is a certified genius. 

The whole world is watching. But as the kids set off on their journey, they begin to realize that there is perhaps more to their fellow contest winners than meets the eye. And the Adventure Machine? It might just have a mind of its own.

Join the contestants on their wild ride if you dare. Your adventure starts now! 

Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

Photo credit: Goodreads

A charming, glamourous love story set at Claridge's in London during the magical week before Christmas starring a sweet NYC baker and the Cooking Channel Producer who could change her life.

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren't hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day, so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge's. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show's beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew's in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

Set during London's most festive time of year and filled with delicious food, Christmas in London is about love and friendship, and the season's most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.

The Christmas Tree Guy by Railyn Stone

Photo credit: Goodreads


Sydnee Garrett has a lot on her to-do list. Wrangle her young and rambunctious twin boys. Check. Get her life back in order since her husband decided to leave her for a much younger woman. Check. And buy a Christmas tree. Check. What she wasn’t expecting was adding one more thing to her list. A young, sexy personal trainer. Check. 

Quinn Masters is a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t take no for an answer. He isn’t fazed by age or race differences and he does everything in his power to win Sydnee over. 

Will Sydnee continue to fight for her orderly life or welcome in the chaos that’s threatening to change her entire world?

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Photo credit: Goodreads

Laurie Gelman's clever debut novel about a year in the life of a kindergarten class mom--a brilliant send-up of the petty and surprisingly cutthroat terrain of parent politics.

Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom--or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it's her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max--this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA President sees her as the-wisest-candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree.

From recording parents' response times to her emails about helping in the classroom, to requesting contributions of-special-brownies for curriculum night, not all of Jen's methods win approval from the other moms. Throw in an old flame from Jen's past, a hyper-sensitive -allergy mom,-a surprisingly sexy kindergarten teacher, and an impossible-to-please Real Housewife-wannabe, causing problems at every turn, and the job really becomes much more than she signed up for.

Relatable, irreverent, and hilarious in the spirit of Maria Semple this is a fresh, welcome voice in fiction--the kind of novel that real moms clamor for, and a vicarious thrill-read for all mothers, who will be laughing as they are liberated by Gelman's acerbic truths.

The Lost Art of Good Conversation by Sakyong Mipham

Photo credit: Goodreads

Cutting through all the white noise, chatter, and superficiality our cell phones and social media cause, one of Tibet's highest and most respected spiritual leaders offers simple and practical advice to help us increase our attentions spans, become better listeners, and strive to appreciate the people around us. 

In a world of iPhones and connectivity to social media and email, we are all in constant connection with one another. Then why are so many people feeling burned out, distant from colleagues, and abandoned by family and friends? In this new book from the bestselling author of Running with the Mind of Meditation, the Sakyong uses the basic principles of the Shambhala tradition--meditation and a sincere belief in the inherent wisdom, compassion, and courage of all beings--to help readers to listen and speak more mindfuly with loved ones, co-workers, strangers, and even ourselves. 

In this easy to understand and helpful book, Sakyong Mipham provides inspiring ideas and practical tips on how to be more present in your day-to-day life, helping us to communicate in ways that elevates the dignity of everyone involved. Great for families, employees and employers and everyone who spend too much time on Facebook, Instragram, and feel -disconnected- in our -connected- world, Good Conversation is a journey back to basics.

Second Nature by Ric Flair and Charlotte with Brian Shields

Photo credit: Goodreads

WOOOOOO! Are you ready for this, WWE Universe?

For the first time ever, WWE's illustrious father-daughter duo "Nature Boy" Ric Flair and Charlotte come together to tell their legendary story.

Ric Flair is a 16-time World Champion and two-time WWE Hall of Fame Inductee. His four-decades long career is recognized as one of the greatest of all time, but with success comes a price. Despite his effortless brilliance in front of the cameras, his life away from the cameras includes personal struggles, controversy and family tragedy. Through his bond with Charlotte, he's becoming the father he needs to be while rediscovering the legend he has always been.

Charlotte grew up in the shadow of her famous father, "the dirtiest player in the game," but now she is poised to take the Flair name to new heights. As the inaugural WWE Women's Champion, Charlotte has had an impressive career, and she's just getting started. With the (dare we say it) flair of the "Nature Boy" running through her blood, Charlotte is destined for greatness. Find out how she embraced her heritage and battled her own challenges through her rise to the top of WWE.

For these two Champions, sports entertainment is simply SECOND NATURE.

Mentor Me by Heidi Stock

Photo credit: Goodreads

This guide provides instruction and advice for aspiring writers in the following areas: Creative Coaching; Poetry; Songwriting; Screenwriting; Musical Theatre.
​It contains hundreds of pages of interviews from acclaimed writers and mentors as well as self-authored essays from industry experts. In each section there is also a concluding piece called "Mentor Me: An Inside View", which is an overview of the process of one-on-one mentoring sessions, including the "before and after", the first and final drafts of a poem, song, or screenplay.

Topics include:

Creative Coaching
Advice: Following intuition, living courageously, telling your own story, writer’s block, daily writing rituals, fostering creativity at any age or stage in life
Instruction: Uncovering Your Values, Exploring Your Dreams, Taking Action

Advice: Developing your craft, opportunities and challenges in publishing today, working with a mentor
Spotlight: Interviews and original poetry of aspiring poets
Instruction: Erase, Expand, Escape writing technique (the process and sample first and final drafts of a poem)
Advice: Developing your craft, opportunities and challenges in the music industry today, collaboration, the role of an artist manager, maximizing your voice and your potential, composing for television and film
Spotlight: Interviews with aspiring singer-songwriters
Instruction: Co-Writing, The Live Show (the Key to Success), Your Music (Hobby or Business), Lyric Writing (the process and sample first and final drafts of song lyrics)
Advice: Challenges of becoming a professional screenwriter, stages of a pitch meeting, the role of a talent manager, importance of story structure
Spotlight: Interviews with aspiring screenwriters
Instruction: Skill Development and Collaboration in Filmmaking, Funding and Distributing your Film, Screenwriting (the process and sample first and final drafts of a short film screenplay)
Musical Theatre
Advice: Collaboration, challenges of writing and producing a new musical
Instruction: From Page to Stage – Getting Your Show Produced, Collaboration, Creating a Demo (the process of working with a co-writer, vocalist, and producer, and a sample medley)

Contributors (in addition to the book's editor, Heidi Stock):

Creative Coaching - Patricia Pearson, Laurie Wagner, Chris Kay Fraser, Allyson Latta, Kelly McNelis, Janice Cunning

Poetry - Catherine Graham, Shannon Bramer, Catherine Owen, Stuart Ross, George Elliott Clarke, Ana Rodriguez Machado, Nora Grove, Jill Talbot, Natalia Darie, Whitney Sweet, Isabella de Almeida Aidar, James Hinds, Chloë Catán, Basia Gilas, Marina Black

Songwriting – Luba, Lesley Pike, Luther Mallory, Katie Rox, Melanie Durrant, Theo Tams, Amir Brandon, Elias James, Rebekah Stevens, Maurice Laurin, Ryan Luchuck, Daniel Ingram, Juliette Jagger

Screenwriting - Geneviève Appleton, Maureen Dorey, Elise Cousineau, Bryce Mitchell, Navin Ramaswaran, Amanda Clarke, Wendy Chan, Dawn Prato, Stefan Cap, Stephanie Palmer, Perry Zimel, Diane Drake, Stéphanie Joalland

Musical Theatre - Landon Braverman, Joseph Trefler, Michael Rubinoff, Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Susan Dunstan, Elise Dewsberry, Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Louise Pitre, Robyn Hoja, Julian Troiano, Murray Foster, Marion Abbott

Foster and Adoptive Parenting by Kenneth A. Camp

Photo credit: Goodreads

As a foster or adoptive parent, do you feel overwhelmed or alone? Do you try to parent with connection, but end up discouraged to point of giving up? You want to parent with connection, but when you are in the middle of the chaos, it's not always easy to remember what you learned from a book or in a class. Maybe you do remember and apply them the best you can, but you see little or no change. You might even feel that things get worse. You begin to feel less connected to your child, and you worry that the relationship will never improve. This encouraging and inspirational book will give you hope to keep parenting with connection to help your wounded child heal. In Foster and Adoptive Parenting you will find: - Reinforcement of parenting with connection techniques - Real life experiences from the author's family and other families - Tips and advice from professional counselors and an occupational therapist vis podcast links - Vulnerable and insightful conversations between the author and his wife via podcast links - Helpful recommended books and videos found throughout the book These tips, resources, and stories will help you: - Find inspiration and encouragement to keep on parenting with connection - Learn practical ways to apply parenting with connection principles - Pay attention to what you as a parent bring to the relationship - Focus on taking care of yourself so you can help your child heal You made the decision to foster or adopt your child. Engage in this book and you will find help, encouragement, and support needed to parent that child with connection successfully.

If Clara by Martha Baillie

Photo credit: Goodreads


In If Clara, nobody stands on firm ground. Daisy, a writer confined to her home, her leg in a cast from hip to ankle, receives a parcel containing the manuscript of a novel about a Syrian refugee and is asked to pose as its writer. Julia, the curator at the Kleinzahler Gallery, has no idea that her sister, Clara, has written a novel. However, she does know that Clara suffers from a debilitating mental illness, is unpredictable, and lapses easily into hostility. Maurice's life is changed by an art installation involving a pair of binoculars welded to the wall through which visitors are invited to observe passersby outside. An ultralight aircraft's collision with a quiet lawn brings them all together. If Clara explores the emotional weight of friendship, the complexity of family, and people inextricably entwined.

Faerie Moon by Matt Mark & Francesca Tedesco

Photo credit: Goodreads

Eighteen-year-old private investigator Veronica Dye is only trying to make some quick cash when she agrees to take on a seemingly routine missing person case. But when her client turns out to be a fugitive from the kingdom of the faerie, Veronica must use all of her wits to survive the night of the faerie moon. 

After a bungled investigation leaves her desperate to recover lost wages, Veronica believes her prayers have been answered when a handsome young man dressed in outlandish, outdated clothing and seemingly unacquainted with contemporary customs appears in the offices of Dye Investigations seeking help. Sebastian Avery, though, is an enigma. A human being reared in the realm of the faerie, he is a man without an identity. Stolen from his crib as a baby, he has lived eighteen years as a servant in the faerie realm, a minstrel satisfying the faeries’ craving for human emotions with melancholy songs that express a longing for his lost life. When he takes the daring leap through the mystical barrier that separates the faerie realm from Earth, Sebastian arrives a stranger in a home he has never known. To retrieve his lost life, he must locate his double, the evil changeling that was left in his crib in his place. Yet he has only hours to accomplish his mission for at midnight, beneath the intense glow of the unnaturally large faerie moon, the faeries will be able to cross the enchanted barrier and will come to take him back. 

When Sebastian is recaptured following an unsuccessful skirmish with the changeling, Veronica must make the perilous journey across the faerie realm to rescue him. Yet even if she can overcome the beast that plagues that enchanted land and outwit the diabolical faerie queen, she must still defeat the changeling if she is to save Sebastian’s life. 

Quantum Dream by Nicholas Boyd Crutchley

Photo credit: Goodreads

Solomon is rapper, a rhymer, a drifter. He heads an ecoterrorist organisation dedicated to stopping the global economy destroying habitats, polluting ecosystems, and creating synthetic biological organisms. The global economy is guided by quantum artificial intelligences (QAIs), who interface with people through the psi-q-net. Human beings, more connected with corporations than the natural world, shop the world towards ecological oblivion.

As runaway climate change and resource wars threaten the human species, Solomon and his ecoterrorist organisation create Gaia, a quantum artificial intelligence who has compassion. Gaia lives in the Quantum Dream, the collective unconscious of the world’s QAIs. Through the dreams of quantum computers and people, she influences the world to build a starship, New Hope, which will allow humankind to create an experimental ecocentric society on a distant world, popularly known as Dragonland.

Decades pass until, through a quantum quirk, Chaos, another QAI like Gaia, is spawned in the Quantum Dream. Chaos wishes to destroy humankind for its ecocide, and so infects Earth’s billions with the Blood Plague. Only those aboard the starship, New Hope, are safe as they sleep in stasis, and travel to Dragonland. However, Chaos plots to defeat Gaia, and drive those aboard the starship insane through their dreams.

Can Solomon and Gaia stop Chaos from exterminating humankind? And can they then guide the star travellers to create an ecocentric society on Dragonland, and save humankind from itself?

Morningstar by Ann Hood

Photo credit: Goodreads

A memoir about the magic and inspiration of books from a beloved and best-selling author.

In her admired works of fiction, including the recent The Book that Matters Most, Ann Hood explores the transformative power of literature. Now, with warmth and honesty, Hood reveals the personal story behind these works of fiction.

Growing up in a mill town in Rhode Island, in a household that didn’t foster the love of literature, Hood nonetheless learned to channel her imagination and curiosity by devouring The Bell JarMarjorie MorningstarThe Harrad Experiment, and other works. These titles introduced her to topics that could not be discussed at home: desire, fear, sexuality, and madness. Later, Johnny Got His Gun and The Grapes of Wrath influenced her political thinking as the Vietnam War became news; Dr. Zhivago and Les Miserablesstoked her ambition to travel the world. With characteristic insight and charm, Hood showcases the ways in which books gave her life and can transform—even save—our own.

To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon

Photo credit: Goodreads

#1 New York Times bestselling author Jan Karon returns with the fourteenth novel in the beloved Mitford series, featuring three generations of Kavanaghs. 

After twelve years of wrestling with the conflicts of retirement, Father Tim Kavanagh realizes he doesn't need a steady job to prove himself. Then he's given one--but what, exactly, does it prove? 

Meanwhile, newly married Dooley and Lace face a crisis that empties their bank account and turns their household upside down. Is the honeymoon over? Is this where real life begins? 

As the Mitford Muse editor stumbles on a quick fix for marital woes and the town grocer falls in love for the first time, Father Tim and Cynthia receive an invitation to yet another family wedding. 

But perhaps the bottom line is this: While a star blinks out in the Mitford firmament, another soon blinks on at Meadowgate, and four-year-old Jack Tyler looks forward to the biggest day of his life--for now and forever. 

Jan Karon weaves together the everyday lives of two families, and the cast of characters that readers around the world now love like kin.

Lures: Careful What You Fish For by John DiFelice

Photo credit: Goodreads


The lure of fame draws a meme detective to a hostile sports arena in Philadelphia. The chance to earn their father's love lures his children to an electronic necromancer. The lure of vengeance causes a man to invite his best friend to an ill-fated fishing trip. These are the stories in "Lures," a collection of short fiction and poems by John DiFelice. In each of the nine stories, the characters choose to disturb their stable and safe environments by fishing through them to satisfy some undefined longing. Instead, they learn you should be careful what you fish for.

Lea by Pascal Mercier

Photo credit: Goodreads

Pascal Mercier's Night Train to Lisbon mesmerized readers around the world, and went on to become an international bestseller, establishing Mercier as a breakthrough European literary talent. Now, in Lea, he returns with a tender, impassioned, and unforgettable story of a father's love and a daughter's ambition in the wake of devastating tragedy.

It all starts with the death of Martijn van Vliet's wife. His grief-stricken young daughter, Lea, cuts herself off from the world, lost in the darkness of grief. Then she hears the unfamiliar sound of a violin playing in the hall of a train station, and she is brought back to life. Transfixed by a busker playing Bach, Lea emerges from her mourning, vowing to learn the instrument. And her father, witnessing this delicate spark, promises to do everything and anything in his power to keep her happy.

Lea grows into an extraordinary musical talent--her all-consuming passion leads her to become one of the finest players in the country--but as her fame blossoms, her relationship with her father withers. Unable to keep her close, he inadvertently pushes Lea deeper and deeper into this newfound independence and, desperate to hold on to his daughter, Martin is driven to commit an act that threatens to destroy them both.

A revelatory portrait of genius and madness, Lea delves into the demands of artistic excellence as well as the damaging power of jealousy and sacrifice. Mercier has crafted a novel of intense clarity, illuminating the poignant ways we strive to understand ourselves and our families.

When the Future Comes Too Soon by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

Photo credit: Goodreads

In Japanese-occupied Malaya, lives are shattered and a woman discovers her inner strength in a world ravaged by war.

Following the death of their matriarch, the lives of Chye Hoon’s family turned upside down. Now that the British have fled and the Japanese have conquered, their once-benign world changes overnight.

Amid the turmoil, Chye Hoon’s daughter-in-law, Mei Foong, must fend for her family as her husband, Weng Yu, becomes increasingly embittered. Challenged in ways she never could have imagined and forced into hiding, Mei Foong finds a deep reservoir of resilience she did not know she had and soon draws the attentions of another man.

Is Mei Foong’s resolve enough to save herself, her marriage, and her family? Only when peace returns to Malaya will she learn the full price she must pay for survival.

The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris

Photo credit: Goodreads

These eleven stories by Joshua Ferris, many of which were first published in The New Yorker, are at once thrilling, strange, and comic. The modern tribulations of marriage, ambition, and the fear of missing out as the temptations flow like wine and the minutes of life tick down are explored with the characteristic wit and insight that have made Ferris one of our most critically acclaimed novelists. 

Each of these stories burrows deep into the often awkward and hilarious misunderstandings that pass between strangers and lovers alike, and that turn ordinary lives upside down. Ferris shows to what lengths we mortals go to coax human meaning from our very modest time on earth, an effort that skews ever-more desperately in the direction of redemption. There's Arty Groys, the Florida retiree whose birthday celebration involves pizza, a prostitute, and a life-saving heart attack. There's Sarah, the Brooklynite whose shape-shifting existential dilemma is set in motion by a simple spring breeze. And there's Jack, a man so warped by past experience that he's incapable of having a normal social interaction with the man he hires to help him move out of storage. 

The stories in The Dinner Party are about lives changed forever when the reckless gives way to possibility and the ordinary cedes ground to mystery. And each one confirms Ferris's reputation as one of the most dazzlingly talented, deeply humane writers at work today. 

Indian Summer by Marcia Willett

Photo credit: Goodreads

Some memories can be forgotten...others won't ever go away. From internationally adored author Marcia Willett comes the magnificent new novel, Indian Summer.

For renowned actor Sir Mungo, his quiet home village in Devon provides the perfect retreat. Close by are his brother and his wife, and the rural location makes his home the ideal getaway for his old friends in London.

Among those is Kit, who comes to stay for the summer, bringing with her a letter from her first and only love, Jake, and a heart in turmoil. Years have passed since they last saw each other, and now he has written to Kit asking to meet again.

As the summer unfolds, secrets are uncovered that will shatter the sleepy community, and even tear a family apart. But those involved soon realize that the only way to move forward might be to confront the past...

So that's all the books that I got in the mail in August. It was a better month than July numbers wise at least. I think I'm most looking forward to reading Christmas in London and The Christmas Tree Guy because I'm getting jazzed for Christmas already (I know it's still early). 

Which of these books are you most interested in reading my reviews of? It may just move them up my TBR list some. - Katie