Book Review: Squirrel Bait - Chip Davis

Title: Squirrel Bait
Author: Chip Davis
Genre: Adult: Horror, Paranormal, Satire

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/B01C2TQ0BE

Blurb (from Goodreads):
Tonya the librarian has an unusual passion for books, even for a librarian. When her books are harmed she takes it personally. When people turn up dead over damaged books, there are questions to answer. When the killer is a weresquirrel, the questions become more confusing.

There is a certain pretentiousness in classical literature. Elegant writing filled with meaning both astounding and sublime. This is not that. Not horrific enough to be horror, nor humorous enough to be comedy, welcome to Chip’s Dollar Dreadfuls. There may not be any fundamental truths, but there will be blood...so much blood.

My Review:
What happens when you let Chip Davis loose on a paranormal/horror/satire piece of work? Weresquirrels. Yes, you read that right, weresquirrels. And it’s just as silly as it sounds.

I read Chip's previous book, Trail of the Raven: Haiti, and it was written not only for a younger audience, but with a much more serious and educational purpose.  This little novella proves that Chip is perfectly capable of creating a good read, no matter the subject matter.

What I Loved: The mere silliness of this book is enough to list here. I swear this book was so bad it was good. And I’m not talking about the writing, story line or characters. But really people, this book is tongue in cheek satire at it’s greatest. It is the first of what I hope are many to come Dollar Dreadfuls from Chip Davis. They are strictly for entertainment, not really meant to be taken seriously as stories, but yet they seem to be somewhat modeled after some paranormal romance novels that are popular today. It’s a book parody, though there is a good story line to follow along with as well!

I so enjoyed ‘seeing’ all my internet buddies make their appearance in the novel, some of the dying horrific bloody deaths. And I laughed. Oh I’m such a bad, bad person!

Not so Much: There was a lot of blood, and detailed descriptive murder. While it’s not meant to be a scary book by any stretch, I still had to just read words without using my imagination. I’m weak like that. Don’t judge!

The Verdict:      
This is a novella, and it’s meant for adults..not that it’s unclean, but there are a couple adult moments, add that with the blood and killing and…yup, it’s for adults. Great if you’re looking for a quick read that will remind you of an 80’s B horror flick.


Kidz Korner Book Review: Belly Up - Stuart Gibbs

Title: Belly Up
Author: Stuart Gibbs
Genre: Middle School Reader

Buy Link: http://amzn.com/1416987320

Blurb (from Goodreads):
12 year old Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt Fitzroy has got a murder on his hands and trouble on his tail. Henry, the hippopatamus at the brand-new nationally known FunJungle, has gone belly up. Even though it's claimed he died of natural causes, Teddy smells something fishy and it sure ain't the polar bear's lunch. Dealing with the zoo's top brass proves to be nothing but a waste of time. They want to see any trace of Henry's death disappear like yesterday's paper. So Teddy sets out to find the truth. With the help of Summer McCraken, a fiesty girl with secrets of her own, the two narrow down their prime suspects. Is it Martin Del Gato, FunJungle's head of operations who dislikes kids and hates animals even more? Or J.J McCraken, the owner of FunJungle and Summer's father, who has more concern for the dough he's raking in than the animals in the zoo? As their investigation goes on, Teddy gets squeezed on all sides to quit asking questions-- or Henry won't be the only one to turn up dead. The deeper Teddy and Summer get, the more the danger mounts -- because when it comes to hippo homicide, the truth can't be kept in a cage!

Azalyah's Review:
I think Belly Up is quite an interesting book. It has action and humor, it does have a pretty weird cover of a hippo. I think the main character is quite humorous, right away you find him giving chimp’s water balloons :) The main animal character is Henry the Hippo. People should definitely read this book, I loved it.

Azalyah's Disclaimer: Not suitable for younger children, has mild cussing
(she says they say "H-E-double hockey sticks" a lot!)

Azalyah is my 11 year old Reviewer - the above review is in her words, not my own! :)


Book Review: Friday Night Alibi - Cassie Mae

Title: Friday Night Alibi
Author: Cassie Mae
Genre: YA - Romance

Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B00C4BA6A2

Blurb (From Goodreads):
In the wealthy town of Sundale, Kelli Pinkins has hatched the perfect plan to capitalize on her sweet reputation. For a generous fee, she will be every trust-fund baby’s dream: a Friday-night alibi, the “girlfriend” or “BFF” that parents dream about. With college approaching in the fall, Kelli’s services are in demand more than ever, which means that her social life is nonexistent. But Kelli is A-okay with that. She’s raking in cash for school. Besides, relationships are tricky, and sometimes very messy. She’d rather be at home on Xbox LIVE, anyway. Then the unexpected happens: She meets college stud Chase Maroney.

Chase isn’t like the preppy, privileged guys Kelli usually meets in Sundale. For starters, he’s twentysomething, always wears black., and he shoots back one-liners as fast as she can dish them out. But Kelli’s attempts to drive Chase away falter when she realizes that he treats her like he really knows her, like hecares about knowing her. When Kelli finally gives in to the delicious kiss she’s been fighting for so long, she faces a tough decision: make Chase a real-life boyfriend and risk her heart . . . or keep her clients and lose her first true love.

My Review:
I won Friday Night Alibi in a Days of Christmas giveaway, it is one of the two Cassie Mae books I didn’t already own at the time. As always, Cassie does not disappoint in giving me a great story to smile and laugh at. Her characters always feel like real people who you know or want to know in real life.

What I Loved: The ‘foreplay’ of this book was the greatest, the bickering, jabs and pranks made for amusing relationship development. Then once things got heated up between Kelli and Chase, well it never cooled off. I also enjoyed the friendship between Kelli and Sadie, and how Sadie wasn’t afraid to tell Kelli the truth. She just told her what she thought and waited for Kelli to accept it.

As far as the story-line goes, I liked the bit of resolution between Kelli and her father. The entire book made me feel like punching a lot of people in the throat, but this relationship evolution made me want to cry happy for Kel.

Not So Much: This book is becoming difficult to review, mostly because of this section right here. What I’m going to list in ‘not so much’ are the exact things we weren’t suppose to like about Kelli’s life. I hated how people treated her, and that she had to find something like becoming an alibi for the rich and spineless in order to feel needed. I hated that. I found myself scowling at this book a lot, mostly because of something Kel’s mom said, or how people treated her like a thing rather than a person. The part that’s hard is – typically this section is more about what didn’t work in a book for me…and this did work for the book, although I do wish that there was more relationship resolution between Kel and some of the other characters – i.e. her mother, who I ended up just feeling like she was a classless person who never really wanted Kelli to begin with, in the end. It’s hard for me to feel that way about a mother.

I do wish we could have heard more of Chase’s side of the story. He had a lot of grief he was working through in this book, and while we find out what and why that is, I feel like it was just kind of a story to add to the story. I know that would be difficult to do since this was first person from Kelli’s perspective, I just kind of wanted a bit more!

The Verdict:       
This is a great quick read! Perfect for a long weekend in, or a light fun read while on vacation! This was a mostly clean book, like in all of Cassie’s books, she doesn’t hold back on talk of body parts or sex – but there is nothing graphic or really inappropriate for YA readers.

Since I'm on the Cassie Mae kick, I also want to take a moment to make you aware of her new book that is dangerously close to being published...

***Cover Reveal from Cassie Mae, Author!***

Cover by: Makeready Designs
Editing and Formatting services by: CookieLynn Publishing Services
Blurb: My body suuuucks. After lounging around on my butt all summer (okay, so maybe that was my bad), this body decided to become something completely foreign. So now I’m trying to make the track team and I feel like I’m a baby learning to walk again.
A couple pounds wouldn’t have been so bad. Work those off, run like a mad woman, no problem, yeah? But no. I’ve also developed a couple of things that I definitely didn’t have before. And now my guy friends are all sitting in a pool of drool as they not-so-subtly stare at my chest.
Combine all that drama with the fact that the new track coach is getting major flack for being a little chunky, and all I’m trying to do is convince the team that I’m not running slower because of her coaching style.
Oh, and did I mention that I’m totally falling face-first in “like” with some guy I met in a cemetery? And no one understands it just because he’s also a little chunky. But he’s also adorable and wonderfully weird and I don’t care what they say, his look sure does it for me.
But… I don’t know… how can I be in “like” with someone, when I have no clue how to like myself anymore?
Preorder at a discounted price!


Happy World Read Aloud Day (aka How Reading to Our Kids Impacted Our Lives)

Since today is World Read Aloud Day, I wanted to share with the impact reading to my children has had on our lives.

I have three kids. Three wonderful, beautiful, unique kids with different personalities, and different quirks.

My youngest is Abigail. Abigail is 9…and she is a champion reader. No, seriously, she’s been reading since she was 3 years old. We discovered this because one day we were walking through the grocery store and she pointed to a stuffed animal dog she wanted and she said “Love pup!” When we looked at the dog, sure enough on the tag it said ‘love pup.' That could have been a fluke though, right? But then in that same week she was sitting on my lap as I was scrolling through Facebook and she said – ‘mom, what is a vampire?” I looked at Facebook and right there in someone’s status update they had mentioned vampires. There were no pictures or anything, and while I read books with vampires in them, I can tell you it wasn’t something regularly discussed at our house…(yet). So sure enough we started testing our 3 year old, and she was the master at reading – phonics came so easily to her. It was crazy. Up until recently her school wouldn’t let Abigail read at her actual reading level because the books (material/content) weren’t really appropriate for her age. (Side note: While I’m a parent who can make that judgment call, and should, I am thankful for rules like this since I don’t always see the books she checks out from the library there.) Abigail isn’t some super genius or anything though, in fact reading is probably the only subject she really excels at. 

My middle child is Azalyah. Azalyah is nearly 11 and she is the 2.0 version of myself. She loves to read, loves to go to bookstores; spends all of her Christmas and birthday money on books. She has one thing at her age I did not, the internet. So while I was just getting into ‘fandoms’ as an adult – she’s already found one, and will likely be on to another here soon. I can’t wait until she starts wanting to go to book signings and things with me!! It will be so much fun – but for now, her authors aren’t really at those events.

My oldest child is Elijah. Elijah is 12, and he is dyslexic. He was diagnosed in 2nd grade, though he was on an IEP since about halfway through Kindergarten because there was something obviously going on. Since I was a huge reader growing up, and it's obviously still a passion now – finding out your kid is having real honest trouble in the area that brings you so much joy – that was hard. Elijah is the most imaginative child you will ever meet. If you ask him, he will tell you of these worlds he’s created within his head. It’s amazing. He could write his own books – and maybe one day he will, but my heart simply breaks for him that he struggles so hard to read a simple book.

Dyslexia is a little bit of a misunderstood learning disability, as far as the general population goes.
Your brain does not simply take words and flip them backwards, it's much more complex than that. Elijah knows all his letters, all the sounds; he understands them backwards and forwards. Dyslexia takes those letters and their associated sounds and between seeing them on the page and the getting that information into the brain - somewhere the wires get crossed, and you're trying to put the sounds in the wrong order even though you can clearly see that it isn't written that way. This is not something that just goes away, but something that you learn to live with. For all intents and purposes, instead of learning to read conventionally, Elijah learns to read by either learning that a certain set of letters equals a word. IE: Instead of sounding out the letters C-A-T to cat, he learns that the symbol that looks like "CAT" equals the word cat. The other way would be to memorize how chunks of letters sound together and attempting to string them together in smaller chunks to get the word to come out properly.

As you can imagine, this slows down the process of reading considerably. While his classmates were reading passages and understanding them completely in 5 minutes time, it would take Elijah 15 minutes to do the same thing - and by the time he would reach the end of the passage, whatever happened at the beginning was lost to him. This kind of struggle for a kid who has extremely high comprehension levels - it just doesn't seem right. It really isn't fair at all. Spelling is another mountain all  it's own...one that we are still trying to tackle.

Needless to say, we’ve spent countless working on reading (and spelling..and writing) at our house. Elijah reads a lot better now. He has had some great teachers (in the public school system, mind you!) and has made so much progress - and I can't be more proud of him!

But reading in our house wasn’t all about being in school. My husband and I read to our kids even before all of this came up. The kids would get a bedtime story (or 8) at night before bed. We could quote Seuess like nobody’s business (Ever heard of ‘The B Book’ – one year for Elijah’s birthday Justin, my husband, wrote a song for him – and at the end of it he quotes the entire B Book.) As the kids got older we started reading chapter books and have helped our kids discover new worlds, sucha as Narnia, Neverland, Hogwarts – make new friends like Stuart Little, and Charlotte. As the kids got older still (they keep doing that) they have developed their own love for reading – yes even Elijah who struggles with it still in 6th grade and will for the rest of his life. I can’t tell you the happiness I felt the first time I caught him up after bedtime reading in his bed under the covers. I wanted to be mad and cry at the same time.

But the important part here isn’t that we read to the kids and they got to experience all these things though, it was the time spent with them that truly was the benefit. Today they still talk about how we used to gather in one of the bedrooms at night to read a chapter or two from the books, which we continued for a while after they started reading on their own. They don’t mention the countless TV shows that we sit and watch as a family, and rarely do we discuss the movies we watch either. They remember when we do things like go ice skating, or to a carnival, but what they talk about most is that time spent at the end of the day where we stopped the busyness and made them the obvious priority.

I also believe that it is because of these hours spent reading and sharing and discussing books that really made Justin and I aware of Elijah’s learning disability – because we knew he loved reading as much as we did, we knew he wasn’t lazy or over active or any other thing you could think of. I’ve heard so many people who also struggle with dyslexia say that we are ‘lucky’ we realized so early on and they wished they were so fortunate. He has, indeed gotten a lot of help and I have fought for his accommodations – and then fought again to take away some of those accommodations so that he would push himself to get better (because if you’re not careful, some accommodations become enablers…be aware IEP moms!)

So having reviewed the past decade of my life with my children and books – I have decided I miss this time, and we are going to pick out a book and read it together. They are never too old, or too young for quality time and a good book!


Deja Revu Weekly Post

Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.

Action & Adventure
Science Fiction
Graphic Novel




Book Review: Glass Sword - Victoria Aveyard

Title: Glass Sword (Red Queen - Book 2)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian, Romance, Fantasy

Blurb (From Goodreads): 
Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

My Review:
I have been waiting on this book for a year - I fell in love with this world right from the start.  Any new world that I can somewhat compare to the X-Men is always going to get my attention though (hello Shatter Me Series!)  But I also enjoyed the Hunger Games/The Selection aspects of this book as well.

So I've waited a little impatiently for this book, all the while watching the fandom come together via instagram photos.  So when the day finally came, I was the first in line for the library's audio-version of  The Glass Sword, but also my best friend had bought me the book for Christmas!  I LOVE HER SO MUCH! :)  (Okay, I love her whether or not she got me the book..but still!!!)

What I Loved: SO MUCH ACTION.  This isn't your typical 'sit and wait' 2nd book where it really felt like it was a space-filler between the first and third books of the series.  In the past I've had trouble with the middle book of a trilogy for this reason - I love origins because I love getting to know new people - Glass Sword gives you plenty new characters to get to know and love.  One specifically I suspect is going to play a major role in the final book!  The 3rd book is usually so full of action and wrap up, but here again I say Glass Sword has its full share of action.  We aren't stuck waiting out to find out what the oppressors are going to do in the books, we are taking action and creating game plans.  Some game plans don't work out as well as others, but that's okay.

I do also love that this book isn't prettied up any.  Victoria Aveyard does not hold back any punches.  There are gruesome details and you end up hurting just as much as Mare.  She is not leading the easiest life right now, and you can feel that in every move, ever decision.

Not So Much:  Well, one - I hate when characters don't communicate well.  I feel like Mare and Cal have some things they should talk about.  Do you know how many of our lives would be much easier and better if we would just talk??

I really wish I could have been in Cal's head a bit more.  While he was there with Mare the entire time, and played a very important role in their rebellion/revolution, I still kind of feel like we didn't see enough of him.  He was there in a sort of closed off sort of way.

I'm not digging Mare's fixation on Maven either - This isn't like Shatter Me where my heart tipped in Warner's direction...I don't feel like he's been very redeemable at all.  Plus, well I love Cal, and have from the beginning.  The underlying theme of this entire book has been "Anyone can betray anyone" but he's been pretty clear about who he is, what he desires, how he feels.  I swear if he betrays what I believe to be true about him, I might just throw the last book against the wall.  Then buy a new one since I ruined it. ;)

The Verdict:          
These books are best for older teenagers, there are a lot of gruesome details that I think would give my pre-teens/young teens nightmares, but you know your kids best.  There is cussing.  Other than that this is a clean book - and one I love and recommend for Dystopian lovers!


Book Review: The Five Stages of Falling in Love - Rachel Higginson

Title: The Five Stages of Falling in Love
Author: Rachel Higginson
Genre:  Adult Romance
Publisher:  Indie Book

Blurb (from Goodreads): 
Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief.

Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady's prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her?

Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days.

When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn't just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she's capable of ever giving again.

As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there's more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there's more to life than death.

My Review:
The fact that I own this book is a true testament of the power of social media to convince us to purchase a book.  This is one of those books that popped up in my news feed over and over again with people raving about it's greatness.  I saw the cover enough that I became intrigued more and more, despite it's topic matter.

Here's the thing, people.  I don't do a lot of "real life" in my books.  Oh, I love books about love and life and I absolutely love a good "coming of age" teenage book where the protagonist must learn to live with the cards they are dealt.  But I have very adamantly steered clear of The Fault in their Stars because John Green has ripped my heart out before.  I won't read anything by Nicholas Sparks until I can get confirmation that the book isn't going to make me cry my eyes out.  I have to deal with the tears of real life, so I don't really seek them out in book life.

I acknowledge that these are sometimes the most excellent of books usually.  I mean, I innocently grabbed up a Jodi Picoult book a while back, and she is an extremely talented author.  All the way up until she tore the skin from my body in grief.  I just don't seek these books out on purpose.

What I Loved:
This is hard.  Too hard.  This book was very good of walking us through all of the stages of Liz's emotions, while at the same time I hated it.  Rachel Higginson is an excellent writer.  I swear to you, she has taken my relationship with my husband and almost our origins and put them on paper...then wrote the scenario I hope never, ever happens.  Or at least waits until we are both 90 years old.  Do you know how hard it was to read about Liz's adoration for Grady, how she has eyes only for him..the feel of his arms around her and the fact that she falls in love with him more every day, year - then her reality.  This book made me cry.

But I love the healing, the hope of this book.  I loved Liz's children, and seeing them all work through this grief process together.  I LOVED Ben, and his patience.  Gosh, Liz's interactions with her mother-in-law. It was all on point, true to what would it would probably it would look like for me, and made such a great story.

Not So Much:

I think I was too engrossed in the story to really come up with any constructive criticism.  This is, again, another fairly linear book - no a lot of action, or no sharp climax.  Just a pretty gradual line to reach the end of the book...however, in this kind of book I'm not sure I would like a lot of drama/action.  I'm not sure I could make it.

The Verdict:        
I'll tell you the truth, if this book were to be a movie, I probably won't watch it.  And I'm sorry to say this, Ms. Rachel Higginson, but I probably won't willingly re-read this book either.  But don't let that be a hindrance to anyone.  This book is excellently written, and worth the tears to get to the end.  This book is an adult book and deals with adult situations.  There is an emotionally based sex scene - no graphic details.


Book Review: Emmy & Oliver - Robin Benway

Title: Emmy & Oliver
Author: Robin Benway
Genre: Young Adult - Romance, Coming of Age
Amazon:  http://amzn.com/B00O11DMOU

Blurb (from Goodreads):
Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

My Review:
This is another one of those books that sucked me in from the moment I picked it up. Had my weekend been a little less scheduled out this surely would have been a 1-dayer..but life does happen and I didn’t want it to pass me by, so I kept to my schedule (and maybe lost a little bit of sleep to finish).

What I Loved: I absolutely love the friendship between Emmy, Caro, Drew and Oliver in this book. Yes, Oliver is finding his way back into the friendship – but the camaraderie is still there. They are funny, sarcastic and just perfect together. Emmy and Oliver deals with some pretty tough issues, probably more than any one group of friends would normally have, but I really enjoyed how these four friends rely upon each other to get through, and yet they still have their problems; both personal and with each other.

I really loved Emmy and Oliver’s relationship, how it started and grew. At first I was hurt (probably as much as Emmy) when it seemed like Oliver didn’t really know her very well when Oliver came back, but it was nice to see them come together. The interludes of Emmy and Oliver’s childhood were fun as well!

Honestly, reading this book felt a bit like watching a movie – I loved the writing style!

Not So Much: There is a part of me that wishes that instead of this book being mostly about Emmy and Oliver, that it was opened up more to include the entire group. I really wanted more of Drew and Caro’s thoughts through the whole thing, and to see more behind the scenes of their homes and lives; they had just as many issues to deal with. Clearly, this would have changed the title of this book all together, but I really just loved the group as a whole so it was natural to just want to see more of all of them.

While I did say that reading this book felt like watching a movie, I did feel like the “action” was a little eh, so/so. I LOVED the friendships and growth and really found the book fun, but if this were a real movie, the story arc would be a little flat with a bit of a pitch at the climax.

The Verdict:  

This book is appropriate for mature teenagers. The setting is the last year of high school, and they are dealing with appropriate issues. There is, however, quite a bit of cussing and some alcohol in this book. Overall though, I do recommend Emmy and Oliver. It’s a great coming of age book!