Oct 27, 2015

Early Review: The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller

Title: The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century
Author: Sarah Miller
Publication Date: 01.12.2016
Series: N/A
Source:  ARC from publisher

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Here’s middle-grade nonfiction that reads like a thriller. With murder, court battles, and sensational newspaper headlines, the story of Lizzie Borden is compulsively readable and perfect for the Common Core.

Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

In a compelling, linear narrative, Miller takes readers along as she investigates a brutal crime: the August 4, 1892, murders of wealthy and prominent Andrew and Abby Borden. The accused? Mild-mannered and highly respected Lizzie Borden, daughter of Andrew and stepdaughter of Abby. Most of what is known about Lizzie’s arrest and subsequent trial (and acquittal) comes from sensationalized newspaper reports; as Miller sorts fact from fiction, and as a legal battle gets under way, a gripping portrait of a woman and a town emerges. 

Oh, Lizzy. Lizzy, Lizzy, Lizzy. Such a troubled girl you are.

If you’re not familiar with the Lizzy Borden story (trial, history, scandal, whatever you want to call it) and want a disturbingly fun, fast read, then go grab THE BORDEN MURDERS. The story of Lizzy Borden sounds like fiction—a young woman hacks her parents to death with an axe? Especially in a time where murders were a rarity and most often perpetrated by men.

Lizzy Borden became a household name and her legend lives on in this book. It’s eerily fascinating to read it and Sarah Miller approaches the subject in such a factual but captivating way. You would think this book wouldn’t be geared towards Middle Grade readers, but it’s historical account of one of the most disturbing murders in US History is what makes it a great read for them.

As long as they don’t use Lizzy as a role model, that is.

Oct 21, 2015

Event Recap: NYCC 2015

My second year at New York Comic Con was just as epic and awesome as my first. Not only did I get to meet up with new and old friends, but there were celebrity spottings, Chewy spottings, and (of course) some amazing prizes won. Plus, it's always fun having a press pass and access to all the coolest events and things.

There is nothing like walking up to the Javits Center and seeing everyone dressed up in their CosPlay. There is an energy that radiates from blocks away and the epicenter is the Javits.

Walking in is unlike anything else. You will walk past some of he coolest impromptu photoshoots, see the craziest outfits and marvel that the majority are homemade. 

You can wander the show floor for hours, checking out everything from Funkos to giant Lego creations to cars. NYCC is a mecca for all things pop culture. 

Panels are also available for the brave (seriously, you have to wait in endless lines, committed to your cause). Once again there was a Walking Dead panel and the usual other shows, but I loved that ABC Family had a strong presence around NYCC this year. I cannot wait for the Shadowhunters series!

MTV was also hyping their shows like Teen Wolf and the upcoming Shannara Chronicles (which looks absolutely amzeballs).

NYCC is insane. It's chaotic and crazy, with people trying to visit exhibits, panels, and meet their favorite celebrities (so jealous of my friends who met the cast of Arrow). It's a place where being a fan is cool and the crazier you are, the more you're embraced.

These are my people.

Oct 19, 2015

Baby Banana Books #2

I am so, so excited to start this brand new feature on my blog where I will give you (the parents) quick reviews of children's picture books and board books. I love picture books - from the illustrations to the lessons to the smiles they put on faces. Here's hoping you and the children around you find some new favorites, too.

How to Behave At A Dog Show

by  (Goodreads Author)
Filled with cute illustrations, HOW TO BEHAVE AT A DOG SHOW is a books adults and children will both love. Julia and Charles try to enter their dog Rexie into a local dog show with disastrous and hilarious results. In the end, if you can't beat 'em, make your own competition and do it your way.

Bizzy Bear: Zookeeper

by  (Illustrations)
Publisher: Schwarz & Wade
Format: Finished copy from publisher
BIZZY BEAR ZOOKEEPER is a fun, interactive board book that you and your toddler will love exploring together. Rich with illustrations there is something to touch and move on every page which will fascinate young readers. Little ones will love helping Bizzy Bear out at the zoo.

Beep Beep, Go to Sleep

by  (Illustrator)
BEEP BEEP GO TO SLEEP is a sweet story of a little boy putting his robots to bed ... But they won't seem to stay in bed. (sound familiar parents?) Over the course of the book, the robots cause a little chaos and mischief until finally their boy gets them settled and they all go to sleep. Perhaps having a child who fights sleep might benefit from putting a few toys of their own through the bedtime process.

Oct 16, 2015

Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Title: What We Saw
Author: Aaron Hartzler
Publication Date: 9.22.2015
Series: N/A
Source:  Finished copy from publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

I’m still at a loss for how to review this book. Short of the massive amounts of twitter and email fangirling I’ve done about it, putting into words why this book is so special is agonizingly hard. WHAT WE SAW is not an easy book. This book gutted me in a way I can only ever remember one other book doing in my 3 decades of living and reading.

WHAT WE SAW is a book ripped from the headlines. You know the story. I know the story. But reading it this way, in Kate’s perspective versus seeing the 30 second news clips as you’re changing from a day at work/school is much different. You can’t shrug off the behavior as “boys will be boys” and it makes you question things.

What would you do? Would you do the right thing? How do you know what the right thing is?

Aaron Hartzler has a quiet grace throughout this book that is mesmerizing. Often with “issue books”, the voice of the author bleeds into the characters, almost directing (often time unintentionally) the readers’ thoughts to make specific conclusions. Hartzler doesn’t do this. He gently and tactfully presents the facts the way one would peel the layers of an onion.

And yes, each layer will make your eyes sting and your gut clench harder than the next.

This book is hard to get through. I had to walk away multiple times. It’s been 2 weeks and I’m in tears writing this review, remembering the way character’s betrayed me and feeling the impact of that. WHAT WE SAW will linger with you for a long time after you read it, and it should.

Hartzler will challenge you to think. He will leave you wondering “what if” until the wee hours of the morning. But this is one of those books where you have to feel that and remember that while books are fun and great and exciting, they can also be humbling and educational and warnings.

Oct 15, 2015

Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Title: Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Publication Date: 9.15.2015
Series: N/A
Source:  ARC from publisher

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

Willowdean is my soul sister.

I'm not even kidding.

I loved every single word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter of this book. It breathes life into the way a lot of women (myself included) often feel. It's positive and celebrates all forms of beauty.

Every person - teen, adult, male, female - needs to read this. I wanted to run out and press this book into the hands of everyone I know. Do you want to know how my brain works? This is how.

Willowdean is such a strong but exposed character. She has a snarky wit that comes from years of perfecting self-deprecation and deflection. It’s a defense mechanism that helps her be a little less vulnerable from the world, but watching her break through these defensive walls is inspiring.

If you want a book about self-discovery, here you go. If you want a book with some kissin’ and hot guys? This book right here. If you want a book to make you laugh out loud? I got you covered. This book has something for everyone to love.

Oct 14, 2015

2015 Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

It's been awhile since I did a giveaway hop, and I figured, why not?

This giveaway hop is hosted by the amazing Kathy @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. It will run from October 15-31, 2015. I'll choose the winner on Nov. 1, 2015

This one is INTERNATIONAL! So best of luck and start thinking of which book you'd like to get! I love my followers, so I had to make it accessible for all!

The Prize:

You can win a $15 gift certificate to

if you live in the US,

if you live outside the US! That means this giveaway is international as long as The Book Depository ships free to you. Not sure? Check this list HERE.

The Rules:
*I will contact the winner via email and they will have 48 hours to reply to my email before another winner is chosen!
*Must be over 13

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Oct 11, 2015

Harper Winter 2016 Tour: Revenge and the Wild

It's here! It's here! Day 1 of the official Harper Teen Winter 2016 Tour! 45 days of incredible books and bloggers sure to keep you reading your way through winter. I am so excited to kick off today with:

By: Michelle Modesto

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

Ready for the awesome prizes we have?

#1 – A Harper Teen Winter 2016 Catalog prizepack of 40+ books*.
*All YA titles in the winter2016 catalog with the exception of The Siren by Kiera Cass, Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige and Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard.*

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#2 – 5 Finished Copies from the Harper Teen Fall 2015 Catalog
5 books are: The Lies About Truth, Walk on Earth A Stranger, Dreamland, Dumplin’, and Velvet Da Vinci’s Tiger

How to enter:
Collect the daily word from each blog stop during the Harper Winter 2016 Tour (a total of 45). Once you’ve collected them all, email the complete saying to: HarperTeenTour@gmail.com

Prize Rules:
1.)    Winner must have a valid US mailing address to receive the prize
2.)    Winner must be over 13
3.)    Only one (1) entry per person for Prize #2 – duplicates will be deleted.
4.)    Only a completed phrase will be accepted as an entry – do not email each word/phrase daily. Wait until you have the complete saying and then email in.
5.)    All email submissions must be received by 11:59 PM EST 11/30/2015.
6.)    Winners will be selected 12/1/2015 and will have 48 hours to claim their prize before another is selected.
7.)    Participating blogs and bloggers are not responsible for unsent, damaged, and/or stolen prizes offered by the publisher.

Today's code word is: THIS


Irish Banana Book Tours Sign Up

Oct 5, 2015

Blog Tour: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

Title: Daughters Unto Devils
Author: Amy Lukavics
Publisher:  Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: 9.29.2015
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Historical
Series: N/A
Source:  ARC from publisher

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner's family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries. 

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn't right on the prairie. She's heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who
live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can't be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.

I am a horror junkie. I watch horror movies to fall asleep to and as background noise all the time. I watched the scene of Turistas where they were cutting people open to harvest their organs to study for my anatomy midterm. The scarier the better.

Horror books are a little harder sell for me. Because I'm used to creepy and crazy, the book has to balance character development with creepy and throw in some unreal twists. DAUGHTERS UNTO DEVILS does just that.

Amanda, the main character, is a little hard to read in the beginning. She's made some bad choices and believes herself already claimed for hell (remember, back then it was all about morals and religion and straying outside the designated lines was cause for social suicide and families banishing/disowning members). She's accepted this fact with a calm sort of stoicism that gives the reader a chill. But as the story progresses, you see Amanda come to life and start to fight for herself and her family.

The setting is what helps bring the book to life. The isolated prairie life where you're miles from neighbors and civilization is enough to give anyone the willies, but throw in a house that's drenched in blood and a some sadistic campfire tales, and it takes on a whole new level of OMG. 

Like I said before - I love horror and I've watched/read a lot of it. This book gave me an actual nightmare. That never happens. Amy Lukavics gets a major award from me for that fact alone. If you're squeamish and afraid, might be best to let the big kids handle it.

And yeah, that was totally a challenge.

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Oct 1, 2015

BFF Blog Hop: Blogger Besties

When your friends ask you to do something - you do it (unless it's jumping off a bridge because .... Oh, who am I kidding? I'd do that, too). When my friends at FictionFare and Swoony Boys Podcast asked me to participate in their Blog Friends Forever Tour, I jumped at it. Meg, Jaime, Kassiah, and Erin have become my Fab Four (that's how I refer to them in my head) in the last few years.

Having hung out with them multiple times at BEA, watched them all 4 jump in whenever I needed a blog tour host, or exchange countless tweets and messages, I can safely say that these four girls are incredible and I am so blessed to know them.  So for my Blogger Besties post, I have to give it up to my Fab Four, whom I love and adore beyond words. I don't say it enough, but I love the phenomenal force that is you four. The way you're always willing to help me and the way to absorbed me into your group is humbling and I am so grateful for each of you.

With Kassiah & Meg .... why do I not have a pic with Jaime & Erin?!
I can't mention Blogger Besties without mentioning my actual bestie, Nicole from Paperback Princess. Blogging brought us together a few years ago and now I can't imagine my life without her. You know how you have that one person who just gets you? Who accepts your faults and your flaws, understands that you can be a hyper whackadoodle or a gloomy gus in the span of 5 minutes but still loves you? That's Nicole.

Nicole, you are my person. Always.

My HarCo bloggers, Jess and Jen. Finding these two within a 2 mile radius of me has been a lifesaver. They never flinch when boxes of books arrive at my house to be sorted, they just ask what time I need them to show up and what kind of pizza (Jess) and cupcakes (Jen) I want. 

I don't say it enough, but thank you both for being there for me even when I am a total, psychotic PITA that you would like to disown.
With Jess
With Jen
My 2 Stephs. Steph and Stephanie brighten my day on a daily basis. From road trips to voxer rants, to makeup trips and blogger tips, you two are the bees knees of bloggers. I'm pretty sure the definition of Stephanie is AWESOMESAUCE with a side of JAMMF.

The Brown One (aka my Amazon Princess) is my brain twin. This girl understands my penchant and drive to organize, prep and plan like no one else. If I ever go to battle, I'm making Stephanie my General.

The Sinclair One (aka my Mini-Mom) is one of the few people I know that just loves to take care of her friends and family. Steph is that person I need in my life to help me see other perspectives and keep myself in check at times.

With Stephanie & Steph
My girls Liza and Andye who I fell in love with one magical rooftop party a long time ago. There is no one else I would rather trade texts with at 7 am. You two have brought so much joy into my life. 

With Andye & Liza
All my YADC friends. You guys never fail to amaze me with your creativity, your beauty and your compassion. I am so blessed to have you all.

So those are MY blogger besties. Now ... how about a giveaway or two?

From The Irish Banana Review:

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There will be 3 winners. We are giving away $75, $50, and $25 gift cards to the winner's choice of book retailer.

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Follow the rest of the tour for more giveaways!!!!!

October 1st
Otakutwins Reviews – Why I Love Being a Blogger - http://otakutwinsreviews.com
October 2nd
Rattle the Pages – Top 10 Book Bloggers - Rattlethepages.blogspot.com
October 3rd
Mostly YA Lit – Underappreciates Sites - mostlyyalit.com
Books in My Suitcase – Why I Love Being A Blogger - booksinmysuitcase.blogspot.com
October 4th
October 5th
October 6th
Bookish in Texas – Why I Love Being a Blogger - Www.bookishintexas.com
October 7th
October 8th
GReads! – Blogger Interview - http://www.greadsbooks.com
Andi’s ABCs – Top 10 Book Bloggers - http://andiabcs.com
October 9th
Reading the Blues Away – Surprise Post - http://readingthebluesaway.blogspot.com/
Strupag – Top 10 Book Bloggers - www.strupag.com
October 10th
Bibliobeth – Blogger Interview - http://www.bibliobeth.com
Carpe Librum – Blog Besties - http://ccarpelibrum.blogspot.com/
October 11th
The Novel Orange – Why I Love Being A Blogger -http://thenovelorange.com
October 12th
WhoruBlog – Blogger Interview - http://www.whorublog.com
October 13th
Effortlessly Reading – Why I Love Being A Blogger - http://effortlesslyreading.com/
October 14th
HelloChickLit – Blogger Interview - www.hellochicklit.com
October 15th
Hashtag Avenue – Blog Besties - http://www.hashtagavenue.com/
Novel Ink – Top Bookstagrammers - http://novelinkblog.com
October 16th
The Book Bratz – Underappreciated Sites - Www.thebookbratz.blogspot.com
October 17th
Fiction Fare – Surprise Post – www.fictionfare.com