Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books recently added to my To-Be-Read list

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Recently, I've been adding books like crazy to my TBR list. I'm going to limit this to books I've added in the last three months. Quite a few of these books came from previous Top Ten Tuesday posts.  Let's dive right in.

1. Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson - This book isn't out until July but I've got to put it on my list because it sounds amazing!  A governess that becomes a spy in an alternate history and where the British rule with magic.  Come how awesome does that sound!

2. The Miniaturist by Jesse Barton - The concept of this books sounds great, but mostly I really love the cover.  It's gorgeous!

3. The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips - It's a murder mystery graphic novel set on a film noir set and it sounds amazing!

4. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab - Alternate Londons and magic and mayhem sounds so good.  And I've been hearing quite a bit about this author for ages, this book has finally caught my attention.

5. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - I've heard very good things about this book and the cover is beautiful.  I'm interested to see what it's all about.

6. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - All I know about this book is that its' centered around a girl who went blind when she was a young.  That alone makes me interested enough to read this book.

7. Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts - The Fault In Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park, what more do I need to hear before I decide that I must read this book?

8. S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst - A friend showed this book to me this weekend and it looks amazing.  I want to read it right now.  It's an interactive read between two people that have written in a book.  I read the first two pages and I already love it.

9. Crimson Bound by Rosamond Hodges - I love fairytale retelling and Little Red Riding Hood is a good one to retell.  I'm hoping this one will be just as good as the other retellings I've read.  This one isn't out yet, but come May, I will be reading it!

10. Cruel Beauty by Rosamond Hodges - Here's the first retelling that this author wrote and I loe Beauty and the Beast.  Hopefully, I enjoy the her writing style because I really want to read both of these books.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (#31)

hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.

I mixed this up with topic up with another date a couple weeks ago so here's my favorite Hogwarts teacher for you now:

The teachers at Hogwarts are for the most part amazing! There are so many options, I could choose Hagrid because even though his methods were out of the ordinary he is a great Care of Magical Creatures teacher.  Or I could choose Lupin because of his hands on learning abut Defense Against the Dark Arts.  Or I could choose Madame Hooch because not only teaches students how to fly, but she also gets to referee the Quidditch games.

However, the teacher I love to talk about the most is Professor Minerva McGonagall.  All the teachers had to put up with Harry, Ron and Hermione but McGonagall gets to be present for the aftermath of an extraordinary amount of their mischief.  She puts up with them but also the rest of the Gryffindors and while doing that she also is an excellent Transfiguration teacher.  She is a no nonsense, crack the whip teacher, but she also has everybody's respect.  At times she feeds their imagination and curiosities with information that they couldn't get elsewhere.  She loves Hogwarts but she loves her students more and that's saying something.  I absolutely love how motherly she is toward her students.  She is brave and courageous and so snarky it's hysterical especially where Umbridge is concerned.  She's a complete badass and that's why I love her.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

by Sarah Strohmeyer
published: Balzer + Bray
pages: 320

When Zoe and her cousin, Jess, get an internship working at Fairyland, they are extremely excited for the chance to act as princesses all summer.  However, Zoe is assigned to be the personal assistant to "The Queen", which she quickly realizes expects the impossible.  On top of that, her fellow interns are competing for the $25,000 Do & Dream grant.  This makes for an interesting summer of mischief and and cut throat competition.  How will Zoe survive?

This book is the embodiment of my childhood dream of working at Disney World for a summer.  It was so fun to read about the chaos that went on behind the scenes of Fairyland.  (Yes, I did enjoy some of the eye rolling teenage angst.)  Imagine living among 50 other high school seniors that are vying for the $25,000 scholarship.  Things get a bit crazy.

The characters were possibly the best part of this novel.  Zoe's humor and wit shine through in her interactions with everyone but specifically Ian, who has a great sense of humor.  I found myself laughing often at what he was saying.  The Queen was so absurd, I kind of enjoyed her.  She wasn't evil by any means, her demands were so outrageous I probably would have snapped but Zoe keeps her cool.

Sarah Strohmeyer has created an entertaining story that made me smile quite a bit while reading.  I will be checking out her other works!

Stars: 3/5


"Strohmeyer's humorous details about the park itself (royal characters get better quarters than 'Ordinary Cast Members,' and princes are given exclusive accoess to a pheromone-rich cologne) provide a lively, unconventional backdrop."
     --Publishers Weekly

"For fans of roms-coms everywhere."
     --ALA Booklist

"This clever, happily-ever-after story will charm fans of Meg Cabot and make new ones of Strohmeyer."
      --School Library Journal

A Full House Reading Challenge 2015 Book

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books from my Childhood

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

You get eight today!

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - This is an obvious choice for me.  I mean there is no single series or author who has influenced me more than J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter.

2. The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - My dad and I used to read this series together as they came out.

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - This book was first read out loud to my 5th grade class and that was the first time I fell in love with the Middle Earth and all it's crazy characters.

4. The BFG by Roald Dahl - I must have first read this for class in elementary school, but I loved this book.  I've read it many times since.  And actually I just bought my own copy of the book this weekend.  (Finally)

5. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - I love this story and read it several time as a kid.  It took me until college to read the entire series, but the story about the wardrobe enchanted me.

6. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - I found this book during my read through the entire teen section of my old library in late elementary school/early middle school.  It was just the right amount of mystery and cleverness that made me love it.

7. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Pat Hancock - This book was read to me every night for a very very long time, I'm sure my parents appreciate that I eventually moved on to longer books.
8. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein - This is another one that I exhausted as a child, my parents read it to me until I memorized it and then I read it to myself before I was able to read.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Notable Quotable: Roald Dahl (#70)

"Fiona has the same glacial beauty of an iceburg, but unlike the iceburg she has absolutely nothing below the surface."
     -- Matilda

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (#33)

hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.

What would your Amortentia smell like?

This is a sort of personal question don't you think.  It's also much harder to answer than I anticipated.  After some long thought,  there are a couple aromas that come to mind.  I think it would smell a bit like freshly cut grass, spring time rain, new books, and bonfire.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Orphan Train

by Christina Baker Kline
published: William Morrow, 2013
pages: 278

Molly is nearly 18-years-old and has pushed all the button in the foster care system.  She's on her last chance when she meet Vivian, a 91-year-old with spunk and a secretive past.  When Vivian agrees to help Molly with her community service hours, neither of them realize that their lives might not be as different as they first expect or that they would become friends.

At the beginning of the book, I found myself caring more about Molly's story in 2011 than the Niamh's story in 1929.  However, somewhere in the middle I the pace picked up and I started caring more about what happened to Niamh.  I found myself flipping through the book to find more Niamh chapters before continuing.

Part of that interest lies in the history behind the orphan trains.  I didn't know that these existed in American history and frankly it's sad.  Those in charge thought that they were helping children find a new home.  It might have made sense then, but it's a very flawed system that makes my heart ache for the kids.  That seems like a parallel was trying to be drawn from the orphan trains to the current foster care system and how they may not be as different as they would seem.

The writing isn't the best quality, but the story was engaging enough so that I didn't bother me much.  One thing I did like about the writing style was the use of different points of view. Molly's story is being told it's in third person and Niamh's story is being told it's in first person.  Just that little almost unnoticeable difference let's you know whose story is really being told.

Christina Baker Kline weaves a story of two women with similar pasts into an engaging story that left me feeling emotional and teary eyed.  Thank you for this book.

Stars: 3/5


"Kline draws a dramatic, emotional story from a neglected corner of American history."
     --Kirkus Reviews

"A compelling story about loss, adaptability, and courage... With compassion and delicacy Kline presents a little-known chapter of American history and draws comparisons with the modern-day foster care system."
     --Library Journal

"Absorbing...a heartfelt page-turner about two women finding a sense of home...Kline lets us live the characters' experiences vividly through their skin...The growth from instinct to conscious understanding to partnership between the two is the foundation for a moving tale."
     --Publishers Weekly

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This is always difficult for me to figure out which 10 books I want to put on this list but I'm going to try and narrow it down.  I'm going to break it down a little bit.

New Releases (Within the Last 6 months)
1. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
2. The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer
3. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

I know Maureen Johnson and Marie Lu's books very well and I'm extremely excited to keep reading their books as they come out.  Heather Brewer's book just looks so intriguing that I'm definitely going to have to pick it up this spring!

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 
5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Marier
6. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

All of these fall under the category of 'Books Leigh Has Been Yelling at Me to Read'  The goal is to read at least one of these this spring and hopefully all three of them.  We'll see where my fancy hits.

Everything Else:
7. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
8. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
9. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
10. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

All of these books are burning a hole on my bookshelf waiting to be read and this spring is the time to do it!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Notable Quotable: Harper Lee (#69)

"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
     -- To Kill A Mockingbird

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (#32)

hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.

What would your patronus be?

I've thought quite a bit about this and I've taken numerous quizzes telling me what my patronus should be and I've come to a conclusion:  I really have no idea.

I think that my patronus could be a wolf because they are comfortable in packs and by themselves.  They are loyal and brave.  All of these things describe me in some fashion.

I also think my patronus could be a giraffe to reflect my favorite animal.  They are sharp creatures who have their wits about them.  They know what's going on most of the time.  They are majestic with beautiful strides that carry them across the grasslands without trouble.

Those two are probably my favorite options to the patronus dilemma.  I've been told my patronus could be an otter or a dophlin, even a hummingbird.  Those are all really good ideas, it's just hard to know without ever producing the Patronus Charm myself, you know. ;)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


by Roald Dahl
published: Puffin, 1998 (originally 1988)
pages: 240

It isn't Matilda's fault that she was born into a family that doesn't understand or care for her.  They don't notice that at five and a half years old she can do double digit multiplication and read classics like Moby Dick and Charles Dickens.  They barely notice that she is old enough to go to school.  At school, Matilda and her friends face the terrifying Trunchbull.  Miss Honey is one of the few to acknowledge Matilda's extraordinary gifts.  But what makes her special, also has the tendency to get her in trouble.

This book was incredibly enchanting.  I found myself immersed in Matilda's world, wanting to read the books she read and have class with Miss Honey.

Matilda is everything I wanted to be when I was younger, brilliant and nice with powers.  The only thing about her life that saddens me is that her parents were completely neglectful.  She may be extraordinary but her life is run of the mill.  I love that Matilda just takes things into her own hands when it seems the adults around her either can't or won't.  She is incredibly imaginative and clever for someone not yet six.

I grew up watching and loving the movie and I am delighted to say that this book has given me the same feelings that the movie did.  The only thing I wish is that the book gave more information.  I would have enjoyed learning a bit more about Miss Trunchbull and Miss Honey, and even Matilda's family as odd as that sounds.  There are many cringeworthy Trunchbull moments and great sweet Miss Honey moments.  This book is just so fun.

I've always loved Roald Dahl's imagination and Matilda now sits right up there with The BFG for me.  I'm glad I finally picked up this book and read it!

Stars: 4/5


"Funny, witty, fresh...Dahl at his outrageous best!"
     --The Baltimore Sun

"A funny book  with a child's perspective on an adult world.... Children will be waiting in line to read it.
     --School Library Journal, starred review

"A tour de force that kids will undoubtedly love"
     --The New Yorker

"Roald Dahl has done it again.... Matilda will surely go straight to children's hearts.
     --The New York Times Book Review

A 2015 TBR Pile Challenge book.
An Eclectic Reader 2015 Challenge book.
An Alphabet Soup Challenge book.
A Full House Reading Challenge book. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for People Who Like Fairy Tales

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

If you like Fairy Tales, then I'm about to share with you 10 retellings that I have fallen in love with and I hope you will like too.

1. Cinder (Cinderella) by Marissa Meyer
2. Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood) by Marissa Meyer
3. Cress (Rapunzel) by Marissa Meyer

This series has become one of my favorite of all time.  I read them for the first time at the end of 2013 and then when Cress was released and ever since I've been waiting for the fourth installment.  I have fallen so in love with the characters and the creativity in the world of these retellings!

4. Dorothy Must Die (Wizard of Oz) by Danielle Paige - Think Dorothy post Oz, when she sort of goes power crazy.  It's a really interesting read if you've ever wondered what happened after.

5. Ella Enchanted (Cinderella) by Gail Carson Levine - This book is so good!  I read it when I was younger and my 11-year-old self couldn't get enough of it!

6. Just Ella (Cinderella) by Margaret Peterson Haddix - Speaking of 11-year-old self, she read and loved this one too!  I read them both around the same time and loved the idea that one story could be told in different ways and still be incredibly engaging.

7. Sisters' Grimm (Grimm Fairy Tales) by Michael Buckley - The main characters are descendants of the Grimm Brothers and their neighbors are straight out of fictional characters.  They solve crime too!

8. Peter and the Starcatchers (Peter Pan) by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson - It's essentially the story of how Peter became Peter Pan and it's so good! It took me a couple tries to read, but once I was in the mood I couldn't put it down.

9. Avalon High (King Arthur) by Meg Cabot - In middle school this was one of my favorite books.  It took Arthurian Legend, which I find absolutely fascinating and matched it with real life.  I found myself looking for clues that I was part of some Camelot reincarnation for months after I read it.

10. I've saved this space for the 8 unread retellings sitting on my bookshelf right now.  I won't (can't) put them on this list yet, but I'm sure some of them belong here.  Just creating this list makes me want to read them all right now!