Review: Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins

Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins (Women Who Dare #2) February 2, 2021 via Avon Books

From The Story Graph:

The second novel in USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins’ compelling new Women Who Dare series follows a female rancher in Wyoming after the Civil War.

A reporter has come to Wyoming to do a story on doctors for his Black newspaper back east. He thinks Colton Lee will be an interesting subject…until he meets Colton’s sister, Spring. She runs her own ranch, wears denim pants instead of dresses, and is the most fascinating woman he’s ever met.

But Spring, who has overcome a raucous and scandalous past, isn’t looking for, nor does she want, love. As their attraction grows, will their differences come between them or unite them for an everlasting love?

My Thoughts:

I really like Spring! Like with any of Jenkins book, you have a strong female lead who is out of place in her time period. And a man that appears almost tailor made for her. The main difference with this story would be that Spring saves the man, a reporter who has come to town to interview her brother -the town’s doctor. Spring is a rancher who has had a hard and troubled youth. But, she begins to softens around the newspaper man who happens to be fascinated by her hard edges and blunt manner. While the ending wasn’t entirely necessary and the romance happens quickly (as it normally does). I enjoyed this installment and looking forward to the next one.

Always Shine!!!!

Review: To Have and Hoax by Martha Waters

From The Story Graph:

To Have and To Hoax by Martha Waters April 7, 2020 via Atria Books

I was given a digital copy of this title, free. All opinions are my own.

From The Story Graph:

In this fresh and hilarious historical rom-com, an estranged husband and wife in Regency England feign accidents and illness in an attempt to gain attention—and maybe just win each other back in the process.

Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love, and got married. Four years ago, they had a fight to end all fights, and have barely spoken since.

Their once-passionate love match has been reduced to one of cold, detached politeness. But when Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious at their country estate, she races to be by his side—only to discover him alive and well at a tavern, and completely unaware of her concern. She’s outraged. He’s confused. And the distance between them has never been more apparent.

Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own. James quickly sees through it, but he decides to play along in an ever-escalating game of manipulation, featuring actors masquerading as doctors, threats of Swiss sanitariums, faux mistresses—and a lot of flirtation between a husband and wife who might not hate each other as much as they thought. Will the two be able to overcome four years of hurt or will they continue to deny the spark between them?

With charm, wit, and heart in spades, To Have and to Hoax is a fresh and eminently entertaining romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory and Julia Quinn.

My Thoughts:

I’ve had this for a while and I don’t remember why I originally requested it. I picked it up this time because I was sent the second book for review (not realizing the connection). And well, I did discover that I am not a huge fan of regency romance. There was a general dislike for the time period and the way things are done. But specifically, for this book? I just didn’t like the characters. The book is based on the miscommunication trope, which I’m rarely a fan of. And that just made this book shift into just plain ridiculous.

Violet and James were petty and idiotic. They are giving each other the silent treatment for 4 years over something that is not as big a deal as they would have people believe. I am assuming that the ridiculousness was supposed to make this a humorous book. Unfortunately, I think the author leaned too much on this and it backfired.

Will I read the next book? Eventually, the books focus on a different set of characters-that had more sense then Violet and James. At least in this book they did, we’ll see about the next book.

Always Shine!!!

Special Feature: October’s Childhood Favorites with Tasha from Amaysn Reads

This is a collaborative post that I am doing with my new bookish friend, Tasha, Amaysn Reads Blog. The way that it will work is that each month we will pick a book from our childhood and we’ll either reread it or read it for the first time. Than we’ll talk about our thoughts before and then our thoughts after.

Welcome to Dead House (Goosebumps#1) by R.L. Stine

From The Story Graph

Amanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too. — But their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends. — So Amanda and Josh do. But these creepy new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind.

Because they want to be friends…

…Forever.

My Thoughts: I remember the TV show a lot more clearly than I remember the books. I mean I remember reading the books, but I can’t say that I have any specific memories of this book. I know that the series creeped me out and made it difficult to sleep without the lights for a while. But it was a good kind of scare. Does anyone remember Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Tasha’s Thoughts: I loved Goosebumps as a kid. The one I most remember is the one with the haunted mask. I remember the Nick movie/tv show more because I was properly scared. I don’t know what this one is about but I’m sure it will be a good time.

Tasha:

So much fun!! I can see how this would totally scare me when I was a kid.
Amanda and Josh are great characters. Also, the scary mystery was done so well and it was fun. I’m gonna have to start my Goosebumps collection because this was a blast.

Me: Ok, so I wasn’t sure if I had read this particular Goosebumps story, until I started reading it. Then it all came back to me- I knew this story, it was familiar to me in a comforting way. Today – I am a huge chicken. I’m supposed to be leaning into the horror genre this month, and I’m nervous. But as a kid, I gobbled scary stories up. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Goosebumps (the books and the TV show) and Are You Afraid of the Dark? Were staples. When I was much braver obviously. Even though the story came back to me and I knew what was going to happen, I still had fun with it. I asked Tasha if she thought that this would hold up, and she said no. I thought it would and I stand by that.  It’s a great way to introduce the horror genre to kids. My son likes listening to them as audiobook, but in real life he’s a chicken like his momma. 

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

From The Story Graph

When James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree, strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it’s as big as a house. When James discovers a secret entranceway into the fruit and crawls inside, he meets wonderful new friends–the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the dainty Ladybug, and the Centipede of the multiple boots. After years of feeling like an outsider in his aunts’ house, James finally found a place where he belongs. With a snip of the stem, the peach household starts rolling away–and the adventure begins!

My Thoughts: I am a little nervous about this one, only because so far I haven’t liked Tasha’s picks. Knowing what kind of books she likes to read know, I know that she has good taste. But, as I’ve already told her, I think she may have had a miserable childhood based on the books that she’s read. (J/K). I am optimistic about this one too because, even though I have not read this one, I have read a few of Dahl’s others books, and I already had plans to read this one. We shall see.

Tasha’s Thoughts: This was my pick for this month. Roald Dahl was everything but the onlybooks of his I remember reading are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, and this one. No I don’t remember reading Matilda but I do remember seeing the movie in theaters. My expectations are to really enjoy this whimsical tale and to pick up on some things I missed as a kid.

Me: I am not sure what I was expecting. I’ve had two experiences with Dahl’s books – one would be The BFG (which I was first introduced to in elementary school) and his adult book Switch Bitch. So to say that I don’t know what to expect is pretty accurate. In the end, this was just okay. A weird okay. I am glad that I read it, and I will keep it for my kids. But this is not one that I feel the need to reread.  And because I am not writing this right after I finish, I can say that the story is completely forgettable. It’s not one that would make me want to read another one, as it doesn’t really stand out. 

Tasha:

This was just as whimsical as I remember and I loved every minute of it. I read this in one day and I loved how everything went. James was such a lonely boy and the fact that he was able to find his people was great. There was so much of this that I didn’t remember and it was great rediscovering it. This is such a fun book and I think Starr actually finished it, so there’s that.

See? It is possible that I will finish a book that Tasha picks out! And I can’t say that it was a hit out of the park, I did like it enough to finish it. We’ll see about next month, lol.

Always Shine!!!

September Childhood Favorites with Tasha From Amaysn Reads

This is a collaborative post that I am doing with my new bookish friend, Tasha, Amaysn Reads Blog. The way that it will work is that each month we will pick a book from our childhood and we’ll either reread it or read it for the first time. Than we’ll talk about our thoughts before and then our thoughts after.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

From The Story Graph

The story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance–until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

Tasha’s Thoughts: Sad. That’s the word that comes to mind. It’s 6th grade, 1996 (yes, I’m aging myself) and everyone is taking turns reading this book from the library. Charly gets an operation that makes him smart. I think he’s a janitor and there’s something with a mouse. We’ll see if hormonal, 6th grade me knew what an emotional gut punch was.

My Thoughts: I have never read this before and have no clue what this is about. I have heard the title, but that’s it. I think I will go on blind. 

My Thoughts: I went in blind. I am still blind. Oh boy. In full disclosure, I did listen to this entire book on audiobook. But—- I tuned out about 65% of the way through, so I don’t know how it ends. And I can’t say that I care. From the beginning I thought that the experiment was not well thought of- and had disaster written all over it. Mainly because they didn’t prepare Charlie for any of the changes that would happen to him. I am sure that since this is a pretty popular book that there are people out there that enjoyed this – I am just not one of them.  However I am optimistic about October’s picks. 

Tasha’s Thoughts: Okay let me give y’all a summary since Starr didn’t finish it. LOL. Charlie is a janitor at a bakery and he is mentally disabled. He attends a school for the mentally disabled and after a series of test, he is selected to be the first human subject for this trial that is suppose to correct his mental disability. Well it works and his IQ begins to raise and he makes it to genius level, but there are costs along the way. I cried halfway through the book and I sobbed at the end. Either I’m still super hormonal
or, 6 th grade me knew what an emotional book was. Anyway, watching Charlie gain intelligence and knowledge was fascinating to see. The story is told through a series of progress reports and within those progress reports you see, you guessed it progress. The way the author was able to convey that Charlie was getting smarter and how he was coping with it was masterful. It’s very nuanced and I thought he did
a good job with it. 6th grade me definitely doesn’t remember there being sex in the book, but there is and also the looking at sexuality. Also, this book is dated so the r-word and moron for the mentally disabled is thrown around quite freely. Considering the original publishing date was in the 1960’s I’m not surprised. Overall, I really enjoyed this reread even if I only remembered the gist of what happened and
didn’t realize a lot of the other things that adult me picked up on.

Dear Mr. Henshaw (Leigh Botts #1) by Beverly Cleary

From The Story Graph

Leigh has been Boyd Henshaw’s number one fan ever since he was in second grade. Now in sixth grade, Leigh lives with his mother and is the new kid in school. He’s lonely, troubled by the absence of his father, a cross-country trucker, and angry because a mysterious thief steals from his lunchbag. Then Leigh’s teacher assigns a letter-writing project. Naturally Leigh chooses to write to Mr. Henshaw, whose surprising answer changes Leigh’s life. 

My Thoughts:  I remember reading this in elementary. This did two things for me – it showed me that authors were people and accessible. Not like they are today, and a part of me now wishes that things were like they used to be. I remember that we even had to write a letter to an author. I don’t remember who I wrote or if they wrote back. But, this book also made me want to be a writer. I don’t remember why or how, just that I’ve always connected this book to my desire to be writer. Honestly? It could be as simple as wanting people to write me letters (back then pen pals were a very cool thing.) 

Tasha’s Thoughts:

I can’t for sure say I haven’t read this book. Beverly Cleary was an author whose
books I read in elementary school. Starting, of course, with Ramona Quimby, Age 8. The only thing I for sure remember is that there are letters in Dear Mr. Henshaw (obviously). I used to love epistolary novels. There’s something that strokes my nosiness. LOL

My Thoughts: There were a lot of things that I didn’t remember about this book, but I did enjoy it. I liked the fact that it flip-flopped between letters and journals, and that Leigh kept corresponding with Henshaw. What stuck out to me this time was the comment the author (sorry, I forgot her name) made to Leigh at the end – that the judging was subjective. She enjoyed and even remembered Leigh’s story, even though it was a runner up. While this is a lot about a boy who wants to be a writer, it’s about his life. And doesn’t all writing come from that? Leigh was a boy in his shell, who slowly finds ways to come out and make peace with the things in his life that he’s not really happy about. 

Tasha’s Thoughts: Wow! I can say with certainty that I haven’t read Dear Mr. Henshaw before today. I must’ve just read the Ramona Quimby books. Leigh Botts is such a sweet character. The shift in his attitude as he was trying to cope with the changes in his life i.e. his parents divorce, his dad not being there, starting a new school, and being left alone more since his mom was working. Through all of this he maintains an innocence that was so good to see. I would die for Leigh and I hope he’s doing okay. I just want to protect him.

So maybe I didn’t fall in love with both books this month. I did revisit a favorite, that brought back childhood dreams and the possibility of actually pursuing them this time.

I am having fun with this – even if Little Tasha had poor taste in books. (I’m joking. If we branch into high school reading I am certain that Tasha would say the same of Teen Starr. I had a twisted reading taste.)

Always Shine!

Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Loose Ends #2

Format: Audio, 263 pgs.

Xeni goes to New York to take care of things after her aunt passes away. She discovers a family secret that explains all of the drama and the full size of her inheritance. The only catch is that in order to claim it, she must marry Mason, who is under the same conditions.

I was super excited to finally pick this up. I was not disappointed. I really like Xeni’s character. Thought I would never encourage anyone to make any big decisions -like getting married – while in the middle of grieving. Xeni handled the situation very well. Mason is a good guy with dad issues. They both have family issues and both find comfort in each other. So, of course they’re going to catch feelings. Of course there’s sexy times- lots and lots of sexy times. They were like rabbits. I can’t say what I was expecting with the ending. Maybe her going to him?I did like it, but that would be hard not to since they end up together. And it wasn’t exactly disappointing. I think I was just wanting something more. I don’t know. Perhaps, I am being overly picky. The girls make their appearance in this book, and it’s always nice to see strong female friendships. I am stupidly excited for the next one. Because there has to be another one.

Always Shine!

Just a Few Reasons The Story Graph is Amazing.

If you have been with me for a while, then you. know that I have been trying to simplify things. To get back to reading like I used to. Not every habit that came after I started blogging is a bad habit. Like tracking my books -I enjoy tracking my books now. I also started tracking the books that came in and the ones going out. Tracking lets me see problem areas (*cough* excessive book buying but not actually reading *cough*) and growth – how many books do I actually read in a year. I’ve been using Goodreads, but I’ve also been looking for something else – simpler and better. Guys, I’ve found it!

* Searching for books is super easy. I am currently working on adding my owned books as my TBR on this platform. And I am finding it super easy. If a book cannot be found via the title, you can import it with the full title and author info or by ISBN. And I don’t have to worry about different editions.  I mean some people may want to know that they have Title X in hardback or paperback, but it’s not that important to me. And this means that when I scroll through I won’t find 2 of the same books because I scanned a different isbn when I started reading it and searched for it via title. And honestly, having duplicates isn’t that big a deal – unless you’re already dealing with 1600+ titles and then it is. 

* It automatically sorts your books based on the month and year that you read them. So with GR you can’t sort this way unless you create specific shelves,(All of your read books are all together under the ‘Read’ shelf.) I mean I guess you could filter it. And you could search your challenge years to see things broken that way. But with TSG you can select the year to see all of the books you read that year. If you want to search a certain month in 2007 you can do that with a couple of clicks.

* Rereads are counted and easy to find. Recently GR added the feature where you can count rereads towards your reading challenge numbers. But there’s been times where I saw that it counted a reread and where it didn’t.  But with TSG it shows you the date of when you first completed it, AND how many times you’ve read it since then. 

*Tailored Recommendations.  I don’t bother to look at the recommendations that GR has made for me. Because they always seemed random and not really books I’d like. But TSG has a system that lists recommendations to you based on the survey that you fill out. I have looked at the recommendations and on the surface – it looks like it has done a good job.  Even with books that I had not heard of. I will be doing a special feature to test this on a deeper level, “ Did The Story Graph Get it Right?” Where I will read books recommended to me by The Story Graph and then review it -and reveal how accurate this Story Graph feature. These will include books from my original recommendations list and the updated one. 

*Search books based on moods. Honestly, I think that this is the best feature for TSG. Because it allows you to know what kind of book you’re getting without any spoilers details. And there’s a filter that you can adjust based on what you’re looking for, 

*A reading challenge that helps you learn how to use the site.  I will admit that there are so many things that I have not explored on Goodreads. Mainly because I just wanted a place -digital space- to track my books.  Another reason is that there is just too much with GR and it’s not so easily navigated. But there’s a reading challenge that helps you see the variety of ways to search for books. But there are other reading challenges that you can participate in, and it tracks your progress on the site. 

*Your Stats Come With Visuals. I tried to make graphs of my reading. It was a lot of work. And I only did it once. If you look under Your StoryGraph, you’ll see an option for your reading stats. If you set a reading goal for this year, you can see your progress there. But the bonus is you also get the pie charts already made for you!

*A human actually looks at their email and responds promptly.  There’s been a couple of times where I had questions, had trouble finding something so I used the contact us option. I’ve received quick and friendly replies each time. Even when I was requesting something that I knew was a lot of work, they were on top of it. I’ve seen and had plenty of of friendly interactions with them on twitter and IG. 

*There’s a growing community that you can be a part of. You can find people very easily and follow them. You can like their updates and their reviews. I don’t know if you can actually chat with people or comment -I haven’t bothered to look.

*It’s in Beta stage.  Everything is not finalized with the site. They are continuously making improvements (you can add content warnings to reviews, there’s a series page that shows all the titles in a series, etc… ) What this means is that you’re kind of on the ground floor with a great product. Honestly, if this was all that they had to offer, I would haves till switched over. But the bonus is that this means that they are also open for suggestions. AND they listen!

I get that some people like Goodreads because they use more of the features, maybe they have found a community there. I am not knocking Goodreads – I have left GR for other sites that promised to be better but I ended coming back or I ended up maintaining my GR “just in case”. But not this time. The Story Graph is everything that I wanted and so much more that I didn’t know I wanted.  It showed me that there are better things out there, and you shouldn’t settle for something just because it’s what you’ve always used or that it would be a little bit of work to change. 

Always Shine!

Take a Chance on Me by Becky Wade

Take a Chance on Me by Becky Wade

A Misty River Romance 0.5

Format: Kindle, 97 pages

Penelope Quinn steps in to help take care of her brother’s newborn while he helps his wife who is in the hospital. As everyone chips to help the couple, Penelope crosses paths with Eli Price, an Air Force Fighter Pilot.

Despite her rule to never date and Air Force man and the disappointment she found when she relaxed that rule for Eli, she finds herself still drawn to him.

Eli wants another chance, and Penelope has to decide whether or not to break her own rule.

Everyone, but maybe especially women, wants to believe that they are worth fighting for. Real love is not easy to walk away from. But why is it always the plan for someone to break walls down instead of a door being opened for them? This is what annoyed me about Penelope.

I am curious about the next book in this series, though.

Always Shine!

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson

Format: Print, 192 pages

After reading my own copy, I realized that I had a review galley.

This is a year of change for Ryan Hart. Her dad has a new job, so they have one less car and they have moved to a different house. But Ryan is known for always trying to see the best in things. She finds a challenge in trying to find her talent that she can do for the talent show.

Ryan is a fourth grader whose name means “king” which means that she’s a leader. Her parents encourages her to live up to her name. This year she is given a lot of opportunities to do just that – as it is a year full of changes. Ryan is compared to Ramona Quimby, and though it’s been a while since I’ve read it I do plan on sharing it with my daughter. Now I am glad to find another one to share with her. This is super cute. My favorite thing about this is that it’s a positive black family. There is the normal sibling fighting, but you also see them supporting each other. There are some fails and some successes. It is so fun to see things from Ryan’s perspective. I can’t wait for the next one.

Always Shine!

Special Feature: Childhood Favorites with Tasha from Amaysn Reads

This is a collaborative post that I am doing with my new bookish friend, Tasha, Amaysn Reads Blog. The way that it will work is that each month we will pick a book from our childhood and we’ll either reread it or read it for the first time. Than we’ll talk about our thoughts before and then our thoughts after.

Tasha’s pick:

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhough.

This is about a girl who wants to be a spy. She does this by writing down everything about the people that she encounters, friends, family and strangers. She writes all of her observations in a notebook. Then one day she loses the notebook.

Tasha: I remember picking this book up after I watch the movie with Michelle Tratchenberg. I loved the movie and I even walked around with my own notebook for a while. I really related to Harriet’s awkwardness and her inability to make friends. I remember the book being bigger but it’s a one sitting book. LOL 

Me: Honestly, I don’t remember this from my childhood. I don’t remember anything about the book, but I do remember the movie. It came out when I was in high school and I am sure that I watched it, I was a fan of Nancy Drew so why not? But either the movie didn’t make a lasting impression or I am too old to remember. Who knows at this point?

Tasha: Whew! This is one of those instances where I should have left this childhood favorite, in childhood. Harriet M. Welsch is an only child who lives with her mother, father, and nursemaid. She is an aspiring writer and spy. She keeps a notebook where she writes all of her thoughts in it. When the notebook is found by her classmates, school isn’t so much fun. Harriet is indeed mean. She has some redeeming qualities, but the author doesn’t bother to flesh those out. I felt like in the end there was no consequences for Harriet’s actions and that she was never held accountable. I don’t even have time to get into the amount of fat shaming in this book. Unfortunately, my first pick for this project was a bust

Me: Sorry Tasha, I know that this was your pick and that you had fond memories of this one. But, ummm I didn’t finish this. Harriet was mean. That wasn’t what bothered me. I guess I found it kind of dry. You would think that a little kid spying on people would be interesting. But her observations weren’t all that excited. The way that she gathered her “intelligence” could have been fun with a hint of danger from discovery. But instead they were weird, and bland. 

My Pick:

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

This is the story of 10 Year old Annemarie Johansen, who is living in Nazi occupied Denmark. Without intending to, Annemarie plays a vital part in saving her best friend Ellen and other Jews when the relocation of Denmark’s Jews begins.

Me: I remember reading this in elementary school. I remember it being sad, but I also connected it with friendship. I don’t know if it was because of the friendship in the book of because of the circle of friends that I had at the time. I also remember wanting my own Star of David. It will be interesting to see what I think after I’ve read it, as this will be the first time that I have reread it since elementary school. 

Tasha: Okay, I have never read a Lois Lowry.  At least not that I can remember. I don’t know what it was about her books but I never picked one up. I used to see people reading Number the Stars from the 6th grade library but I never wanted to read it. Maybe I’ve always had an aversion for World War II literature. I don’t really know what this is about but I believe it has something to do with Jewish people and concentration camps.

Me: This is the first time that I’ve read this since I was a kid.  And I am sure that it was a vastly different experience. I can now see how brave Annemarie was, and that this story is about so much more than friendship. It is sad that people had to go through this, but it was also hopeful that there was still people who risked it all just to make things a bit better even when it cost them their lives. I loved the parallel between Annemarie and Little Red Riding Hood as she travels through the woods.I think that Lowry did a great job of balancing the tension throughout the story and maintaining the childlike perspective. I think Annemarie is vastly different than the female characters held up as heroines today. It seems like characters today have to have an overwhelming amount of information before they act. And they never handle that information with any care or concern. I say that knowing that I’ve complained about characters not knowing everything and had they known everything they would act differently. But that is kind of the point, had Annemarie known everything she would have acted differently and would not have accomplished what she did.  Okay so this is turning into a tangent. In the end, I am glad to have reread this. I found the afterword very informative, because it separates what was the author’s embellishments and what was historical fact.

Tasha: Yeah! So, I can totally read a World War 2 story and not hate it. 10 year old AnneMaria was so sweet and felt like a realistic. I found really interesting the Nazi occupation of Copenhagen so interesting because I had never heard of it. Also I like stories that talk about resistance, however small, and how people during Nazi-occupation would do things to preserve their community. I liked seeing these things happen though a child’s eyes and I can see how this could be appealing to children even now. The author really captured the story and what it would be like for a kid. This one definitely holds up.

Always Shine!

Children’s Book Round Up #2

The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm #1) by Michael Buckley

Source: Off My Bookshelf

This is the book that I picked out to read with my niece – a long time ago. She didn’t want to read it and so it sat on my shelf until I finally picked it up. I did plan on reading this aloud to my son- but honestly? It’s not a very good read aloud. But it was a very fun story. I’m just sad that it took me so long to finally pick it up. I really liked this one. And a bonus is that the parents are not dead! Sabrina and Daphne are placed with their grandmother- who they believed was dead. On top of everything they find out, their grandmother is a little weird and tells them that fairytales are real. Daphne immediately believes but Sabrina isn’t convinced until a giant takes their grandmother. They stumble and fumble around and make make mistakes. But they embrace who they are enough to solve the mystery – with a bit of help. This was a great beginning to a series and I can’t wait to continue.

Cake Pop Crush (Wish #1) by Suzanne Nelson

Source: Off My Shelf

To be honest, I am not sure why I got this – I think a later book in the series caught my attention. However, I did like this, I thought it was a sweet story and pretty relatable too. I would have enjoyed reading this when I was younger. Ali is a pretty typical middle schooler, except that she loves baking. This book is about so much more than just baking though. Ali has to gain confidence in herself and in her talents. She has to learn to speak up for herself and deal with awkward -but normal- boy issues. I am glad that I read it and will be saving it for my daughter.

Artemis Fowl (#1) by Eoin Colfer

Source: Off My Bookshelf

This is a highly recommended children’s/middle grade series, and that is what originally caught my attention. Then I saw a preview for the movie and my son wanted to watch it so. I did what readers do- I picked it up to read it. This wasn’t high on my priority so I had low expectations. And was pleasantly surprised. Artemis is not just about a genius billionaire kid. The book highlights his genius-ness and his family’s life/career of crime. But, it kind of downplays the fact that he is 12. In the end, that’s kind of important. My favorite characters, though> It was definitely the fairies — Holly Short, Commander Root and Foaly to be exact. In this case, they are the good guys so it’s easy to root for them. It helps that they are so likable. This was a great start to a series, I like the writing and the character interactions.