Cover Love

#coverlove :: Girl Power

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Welcome to #coverlove, a weekly round-up of the best book covers the literary world has to offer. This week’s theme was black and white and red all over.

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

Heroine Worship (Heroine Complex, #2) by Sarah Kuhn

Once upon a time, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang) was demon-infested San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine, a beacon of hope and strength and really awesome outfits. But all that changed the day she agreed to share the spotlight with her best friend and former assistant Evie Tanaka—who’s now a badass, fire-wielding superheroine in her own right. They were supposed to be a dynamic duo, but more and more, Aveda finds herself shoved into the sidekick role. Where, it must be said, she is not at all comfortable.

It doesn’t help that Aveda’s finally being forced to deal with fallout from her diva behavior—and the fact that she’s been a less than stellar friend to Evie. Or that Scott Cameron—the man Aveda’s loved for nearly a decade—is suddenly giving her the cold shoulder after what seemed to be some promising steps toward friendship. Or that the city has been demon-free for three months in the wake of Evie and Aveda’s apocalypse-preventing battle against the evil forces of the Otherworld, leaving Aveda without the one thing she craves most in life: a mission.

All of this is causing Aveda’s burning sense of heroic purpose—the thing that’s guided her all these years—to falter.

In short, Aveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis.

When Evie gets engaged and drafts Aveda as her maid-of-honor, Aveda finally sees a chance to reclaim her sense of self and sets out on a single-minded mission to make sure Evie has the most epic wedding ever. But when a mysterious, unseen supernatural evil rises up and starts attacking brides-to-be, Aveda must summon both her superheroine and best friend mojo to take down the enemy and make sure Evie’s wedding goes off without a hitch—or see both her city and her most important friendship destroyed forever.

The Friendship Code (Girls Who Code, #1) by Stacia Deutsch

Loops, variables, input/output – Lucy can’t wait to get started with the new coding club at school. Finally, an after school activity that she’s really interested in. But Lucy’s excitement turns to disappointment when she’s put into a work group with girls she barely knows. All she wanted to do was make an app that she believes will help someone very special to her.

Suddenly, Lucy begins to get cryptic coding messages and needs some help translating them. She soon discovers that coding – and friendship – takes time, dedication, and some laughs!

A Kingdom Rises (Crown of Three, #3) by J.D. Rinehart

An ancient prophecy says that when three stars appear in the sky, triplets will take the throne and peace will come to the land. The stars have appeared, and the triplets are Gulph, Tarlan, and Elodie. But the prophecy appears to have failed.

Tarlan saw Gulph die during a final confrontation with their undead father. Gulph fell from a burning tower and there’s no way he could have survived…even with Gulph’s special abilities.

As for his sister, Elodie, Tarlan’s convinced that she’s a traitor who betrayed the rebellion and her family just so she could have the throne to herself.

With nothing left to believe in, Tarlan’s prepared to abandon both the cause and his pack of wild animals, and head north.

But appearances can be deceiving. And in a world of magic and deceit, mistaking lies for truth can be deadly.

Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

When thirteen-year-old Valor is sent to jail, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s twin sister, Sasha, is serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family, and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.

Never mind that no one has escaped the prison in centuries. Valor has a master plan and resources most people could only dream about. But she didn’t count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make some unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.

You Throw Like a Girl by Rachele Alpine

Gabby’s summer vacation isn’t shaping up to be that great. Her dad was just deployed overseas, and Gabby is staying at her grandmother’s house with her mom and baby sister until he returns.

The one bright spot is that Gaby plans to sign up for the local softball league—her greatest love and a passion she shares with her Dad who was a pitcher in college. But when Gabby goes to sign up for the summer league, she discovers that there wasn’t enough interest to justify a girl’s team this year. And to top it off, a horrible miscommunication ends with Gabby signed up to participate in the Miss Popcorn Festival—the annual pageant that Gabby’s mom dominated when she was younger.

Besides not having any interest in the pageant life, Gabby made a promise to her dad that she would play softball for the summer. Since her pitching skills rival any boy her age, Gabby creates a master plan: disguise herself as a boy and sign up for the boy’s baseball team instead—and try to win the pageant to make Mom happy. Can Gabby juggle perfecting her pageant walk and perfecting her fastball? Or will this plan strike out?

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Cover Love

#coverlove: Black and White and Red All Over

The following post contains affiliate links.

Welcome to #coverlove, a weekly round-up of the best book covers the literary world has to offer. This week’s theme was black and white and red all over.

Sorcery for Beginners: A Simple Help Guide to a Challenging & Arcane Art by Matt Harry

Five-hundred years ago, sorcery began to fade from the world. As technology prevailed, combustion engines and computers replaced enchanted plows and spell books. Real magicians were hunted almost to extinction. Science became the primary system of belief, and the secrets of spell-casting were forgotten. That is … until now.

Sorcery for Beginners is no fantasy or fairy tale. Written by arcane arts preservationist and elite mage Euphemia Whitmore (along with her ordinary civilian aide Matt Harry), this book is a how-to manual for returning magic to an uninspired world. It’s also the story of Owen Macready, a seemingly average 13-year-old who finds himself drawn into a centuries-long war when he uses sorcery to take on a school bully. Owen’s spell casting attracts the attention of a ruthless millionaire and a secret society of anti-magic mercenaries, all of whom wish to use Sorcery for Beginners to alter the course of world history forever.


Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2) by Jay Kristoff

In a land where three suns almost never set, a ruthless assassin continues her quest for vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church hierarchy think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending the men who destroyed her familia; in fact, she’s told directly that Consul Scaeva is off limits. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia’s suspicions about the Red Church’s true motives begin to grow.

When it’s announced that Scaeva will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end him. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between love and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.


The Never King by James Abbott

Xavir Argentum is rotting in gaol. Sentenced to life in the squalor of Hell’s Keep, punishment for an atrocity he didn’t commit, the once legendary commander is all but forgotten. His elite band of warriors are dead – and the kingdom he was poised to inherit is oppressed by the tyrant who framed him. For half a decade now, Xavir has ruled nothing but a prison gang. Yet vengeance comes to those who wait. When a former spymaster infiltrates the Keep, bearing news of his old enemy’s treachery, plans are forged. A few are compelled to restore peace – an exiled queen, an outcast witch, and an unlikely alliance of rogues and heroes. But peace and vengeance make poor companions. And first, Xavir must make his escape…


Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her ashis hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll to take to her grave if she must.


The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.


Reckless: The Petrified Flesh by Cornelia Funke

Ever since Jacob Reckless was a child, he has been escaping to a hidden world through a portal in his father’s abandoned study. Over the years, he has made a name for himself as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. He’s also made many enemies and allies — most important, Fox, a beautiful shape-shifting vixen whom Jacob cares for more than he lets on.

But life in this other world is about to change. Tragedy strikes when Jacob’s younger brother, Will, follows him through the portal. Brutally attacked, Will is infected with a curse that is quickly transforming him into a Goyl — a ruthless killing machine, with skin made of stone.

Jacob is prepared to fight to save his brother, but in a land built on trickery and lies, Jacob will need all the wit, courage, and reckless spirit he can summon to reverse the dark spell — before it’s too late.

Got a favorite cover you’d like to share? Tweet it to me @aftanith or drop me a link in the comments below!

 

Cover Love

#coverlove: Feeling Blue

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Welcome to #coverlove, a weekly round-up of the best book covers the literary world has to offer. This week’s theme was feeling blue.

The Witch and the Vampire King (Immortal Love Series, #2) by Anna Santos

Jessica is a young and powerful witch on a desperate mission to find her soul-mate—a hot vampire king who haunts her dreams with steamy memories of their blissful past life. The problem is that he could already be dead. To complicate matters further, a psychotic vampire is after her. He wants the grimoire she stole.

For protection, she can only rely on her best friend’s family. When she arrives at Affinity, she is brought closer to her goal. But encountering the man of her dreams is only half the battle. Convincing him that she is his reincarnated love may prove to be next to impossible.

Some memories should remain hidden. If unlocked, death will claim Jessica before her enemy. Although, her survival won’t matter if she faces a rejection that will shatter her very soul.


Penelope March Is Melting by Jeffrey Michael Ruby

Something sinister has come to Glacier Cove, an icy-cold town that sits on top of an iceberg . Nothing bad ever happens here. Until now. And it’s up to Penelope March to stop it.

Mmm-hmm, that Penelope—the bookworm who lives in the ramshackle house with her brother, Miles. The girl with the mom who—poof!—disappeared. The one everyone ignores . . . except strange Coral Wanamaker, a tiny thing with raven-black hair and a black coat.

When Penelope meets someone who seems to know secrets not only about Glacier Cove but about Penelope herself, she and Miles are pulled into an ancient mystery. Together, they’ll face the coldest, cruelest enemy ever known. Looks like the girl who only reads about adventures is going to start living one.

Magic cookies! Volcanoes! Penguins! Sea monsters! And a girl hero with the strength and imagination to spring into action.



The November Girl by Lydia Kang

I am Anda, and the lake is my mother. I am the November storms that terrify sailors and sink ships. With their deaths, I keep my little island on Lake Superior alive.

Hector has come here to hide from his family until he turns eighteen. Isle Royale is shut down for the winter, and there’s no one here but me. And now him.

Hector is running from the violence in his life, but violence runs through my veins. I should send him away, to keep him safe. But I’m half human, too, and Hector makes me want to listen to my foolish, half-human heart. And if I do, I can’t protect him from the storms coming for us.


The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

In this compelling and thought-provoking fantasy set in the world of The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Newbery Honor-winning author Gail Carson Levine introduces a spirited heroine who must overcome deeply rooted prejudice—including her own—to heal her broken country.

Peregrine strives to live up to the ideal of her people, the Latki—and to impress her parents: affectionate Lord Tove, who despises only the Bamarre, and stern Lady Klausine. Perry runs the fastest, speaks her mind, and doesn’t give much thought to the castle’s Bamarre servants, whom she knows to be weak and cowardly.

But just as she’s about to join her father on the front lines, she is visited by the fairy Halina, who reveals that Perry isn’t Latki-born. She is Bamarre. The fairy issues a daunting challenge: against the Lakti power, Perry must free her people from tyranny.


Moon Princess by Barbara Laban

Sienna is unhappy. Her mother has disappeared and she feels alone in Shanghai. Her only friend is Rufus–a sarcastic invisible dog with a VERY clear idea of how things should be done.

When their mean housekeeper starts acting suspiciously, Sienna decides to investigate. She follows a trail of clues that leads her to a new friend, Feng, who also has an invisible animal friend and has lost a family member. Together they embark on a hunt through China that leads them to new friends, even more invisible animals, and a mysterious moonlit temple where Sienna’s mother and Feng’s brother were last seen.

Are the disappearances linked to a priceless statue of the famous moon princess? And can they discover the dangerous truth?


The Eye of the North by Sinead O’Hart

When Emmeline’s scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself heading for a safe house, where allies have pledged to protect her. But along the way, she is kidnapped by the villainous Doctor Siegfried Bauer, who is bound for the ice fields of Greenland. There he hopes to summon a mystical creature from the depths of the ancient glaciers, a creature said to be so powerful that whoever controls it can control the world. Unfortunately, Bauer isn’t the only one determined to unleash the creature. The North Witch has laid claim to the mythical beast, too, and Emmeline—along with a scrappy stowaway named Thing—may be the only one with the power to save the world as we know it. Can Emmeline face one of the greatest legends of all time—and live to tell the tale?

Got a favorite cover you’d like to share? Tweet it to me @aftanith or drop me a link in the comments below!

Picture Books

Picture Books 2017 #1: Too School for Cool

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This is a simple little story with a refreshing stroke of creativity. In the story, a little boy on his way to his grandmother’s birthday party badgers his parents with the age-old car trip question: “Are we there yet?” And as he grows increasingly bored, his mind starts to wander… and before he knows it, he and his parents are off on a crazy trip through time and space. The book itself gets in on the act, with the story flipping over entirely, so that the reader must turn his or her upside-down to go on. There’s everything from cowboys and pirates to dinosaurs and flying cars–all the stuff kids in the target audience are expected to like at that age. And there’s even a cute little moral (delivered via pun!) at the end.

It’s not going to be the most riveting read for any adults who pick it up, but children still in the picture book range might just get a kick out of it.

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

Here we have another of those picture books devoted to celebrating books themselves. In the story, the titular “child of books” comes crashing in on a wave of words (excerpts from works like Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels) and takes another child off on a journey through the world of literature and imagination. They climb mountains, search for treasure, escape monsters, and more, and it’s all meant to impress upon the reader the value of imagination (and of reading to stoke one’s imagination).

Honestly, this is a book that’s more likely to be appreciated by adult readers than children.

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

This is an interactive, wordless picture book about a little girl (the titular Flora) who’s trying to dance with a pair of peacocks who just aren’t having it… until they realize they’ve hurt her feelings. According to the interior book flap, the moral is intended to be, “…that no matter the challenges, true friends will always find a way to dance together,” but it could definitely be taken as a bit of a subtle anti-bullying story if that’s what your looking for.

As with the previous Flora book I read, I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. I just don’t think I’m the wordless picture book type, myself, and so I think this is the last Flora book I’ll be picking up. They just don’t have much appeal for an adult reader; the art is nice, but that’s about it.

Otter Goes to School by Sam Garton

This is another in the Otter series of children’s books, and unlike the last Otter book I tried, I found this one to be a very charming, adorable standalone. The reader needs no background knowledge of the author’s blog (I Am Otter: The Unheard Ramblings of a Modern Day Domestic Otter) to follow the story; there’s no missing context here whatsoever. All we’ve got is an adorable story about an otter who, upon learning about the existence of a place called “school”, decides to play classroom with her toys. It’s a really cute little read perfect for a child who’s getting close to the age of going to school for the first time. I actually recommend it!

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex

In this story, an elementary school called Frederick Douglas Elementary (which is a real school, by the way) is anthropomorphized. It’s actually a very interesting idea! Adam Rex supplies the reader with a unique twist on the concept of a “first day of school” book, as here we get to see the first day of school from the perspective of the school itself. And oddly enough, it’s actually a fairly touching story; the school has to deal with the reality that most of the children hate being there (at least at first), and its emotional journey in coming to terms with that fact quite nicely parallels a young child’s coming to terms with being a student.

It’s really surprising, sweet, and charming, and I definitely recommend it to any children who might be struggling with the fact that they have to go to school now (or children who will soon be going to school for the first time).

Picture Books

Picture Books 2016 #6: Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

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I’m Not. by Pam Smallcomb

In I’m Not., we have a couple of caricatured “child” dinosaurs. In the first half of the story, the unnamed main character bemoans the fact that her friend Evelyn is wonderful at so many things, while the main character herself isn’t good at any of them.

The second half, however, switches it up. Evelyn takes the stage to talk about what she isn’t good at, and all of the things she mentions happen to be things the main character does well.

It’s a nice little story about envy and individuality that adults will likely find it as cute as their kids find it funny.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague

An imaginative little boy makes up (or does he?) a cowboy story to share with his class when it’s his turn to tell everyone what he did during summer vacation.

I have to say, any “what’d you do this summer” assignment is automatically better if you can pretend you actually did something fun. It’d certainly be better than my old “I stayed at home and did nothing because my family was poor.” There was never much worth sharing about that one, believe me.

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

This is the first book in a picture series known as Dog Loves, and it’s a brief story about an anthropomorphic dog who loves books so much that he opens up a book store.

Unfortunately, none of his potential patrons seem to share his interest in books, and his store is empty a lot of the time… But that’s okay, because he’ll just pass his time reading!

This is a good choice for a young bibliophile and/or library lover.

Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates

We’re back with the same book-loving dog from the previous book, and this time, he’s having some insomnia troubles. Counting sheep isn’t helping him get to sleep, so he tries counting other animals while using his books as inspiration.

This is definitely another book for book lovers, even though the focus is on teaching a child to count.

A Dog Is A Dog by Stephen Shaskan

This one’s a pattern book teaching kids various animals by telling them that “a dog is a dog unless it’s an X”  (and an X is an X unless it’s a Y,  and a Y is a Y unless it’s a Z, and so on).

The illustrations are quite silly and cute, and the book is actually more baby-appropriately amusing than informational; it’s also quite short (only getting through four animals, including the dog, before it’s over), so it’s definitely baby/toddler fare. It’s pretty adorable, though.

Picture Books

Picture Books 2016 #5: This One’s For Boo

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The Best Place to Read by Debbie Bertram and Susan Bloom 

In The Best Place to Read, an unnamed little boy is excited to read a new book, but he can’t find a good place to read it. Eventually, he decides reading in his mother’s lap is the way to go. It’s a bit Goldie Locks-esque, without the being chased by bears at the end.

It’s a good read for a young child in whom you’re trying to foster a love of reading, but definitely not a good for one who you’re trying to encourage to read independently.

Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko

This cute little picture book the story of the holiday season a child experiences in a mixed-religion Christian/Jewish household, in which the father is a Christian and the mother is a Jew. It’s another good seasonal diversity story to go along with the other Hanukkah and Kwanzaa picture books I’ve read and reviewed in the past.

I am still, however, looking for one that introduces the idea of Christmas as a secular, cultural holiday instead of a religious one; there are plenty of secular Christmas stories, but all of the ones that I’ve come across simply neglect to mention that the holiday is actually religious for some people; I’d love to find one that handles that issue with some respect and maturity.

I will say, however, that the backlash to this book that’s present on the Goodreads page is truly sickening. Wait until the separatists over there find out that it’s not just the Jews besmirching their beloved “CHRISTmas”. We sinful atheist heathens are merrily violating their traditions, too!

All You Need for a Beach by Alice Schertle

So I’m going to be honest here: this art is fucking hideous. That’s totally a personal thing, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who think it’s quite nice, so I’m not trying to claim some objective criticism here. But, yeah, I hate the way this book is illustrated. It’s horrible.

The story itself, though, is a short little tale goes through all the things you need for a beach, from trillions of grains of sand to an ocean blue–but most importantly, you. There’s not much to it, but it might be a fun beach read for a toddler.

Beach Day by Karen Roosa

And here we have another rhyming book and another beach book. Personally, I think it’s far superior to All You Need for a Beach, and its illustrations are much easier on the eyes. The story essentially just runs through all the various features of a beach and activities that go on at one, but there’s nothing objectionable to its simplicity, and it would be another reasonable book to give your young child during a trip to the beach.

Honestly, reading this was almost a little nostalgic, considering I haven’t had an enjoyable family trip to the beach since I was very young.

The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye by Jane Yolen

I knew this would make me cry, and I totally did. The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye is a very pretty picture book about an old cat saying goodbye before she goes off to die in private, as cats are often inclined to do, and as I recently lost my own kitty, there was never any chance of me getting out of this one without tears.

Reading Challenges

2016 Reading Challenges

2016 Hard Core Re-Reading Challenge

The 2016 Hardcore Rereading Challenge is being hosted by Lois Johnson over at You, Me, and a Cup of Tea; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Reread books you’ve already read!
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016
How: Reread physical books or ebooks or “reread” audiobooks to reach your goal. Sign up for the challenge here.
Levels:

  1. Rereading Itch | 0 – 15 books
  2. Rereading Bug | 16 – 25 books
  3. Rereading Fever | 26 – 35 books
  4. Rereading Paralysis | 36 – 50
  5. Rereading Coma | 50+
I’m going to be aiming for Rereading Itch, though I may increase my goal at some point during the year.

  1. Chasing the Dream (Dolphin Diaries, #5) by Ben M. Baglio
  2. Racing the Wind (Dolphin Diaries, #6) by Ben M. Baglio
  3. Following the Rainbow (Dolphin Diaries, #7) by Ben M. Baglio
  4. Dancing the Seas (Dolphin Diaries, #8) by Ben M. Baglio
  5. Leaving the Shallows (Dolphin Diaries, #9) by Ben M. Baglio
  6. Beyond the Sunrise (Dolphin Diaries, #10) by Ben M. Baglio
  7. Meet Felicity (American Girls: Felicity, #1) by Valerie Tripp
  8. Felicity Learns a Lesson (American Girls: Felicity, #2) by Valerie Tripp
  9. Felicity’s Surprise (American Girls: Felicity, #3) by Valerie Tripp
  10. Happy Birthday, Felicity! (American Girls: Felicity, #4) by Valerie Tripp

2016 I Love Libraries Reading Challenge

The 2016 I Love Libraries Reading Challenge is being hosted by the reviewers over at Bea’s Book Nook; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Read library books!
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016
How: Sign up at your blog or make a dedicated shelf at Goodreads or a similar site, and let everyone know why you love your library. Anything you can check out from your library counts toward your goal: physical books, audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, and the like. Then review your books and link them up over at Bea’s Book Nook!
Levels:

  1. Board Book | 3 books
  2. Picture Book | 6 books
  3. Early Reader | 9 books
  4. Chapter Book | 12 books
  5. Middle Grades | 18 books
  6. Young Adult | 24 books
  7. Adult | 36 books
  8. Just Insert IV | 50 books
Honestly, the primary reason I love libraries–beyond the sheer nostalgia of being a member of my local library for literally longer than my memory extends!–is that it’s the only way I can afford to read. When money’s tight enough that having to choose between reading and eating is a real concern, there’s no question that reading isn’t going to win that fight. So libraries are absolutely vital for the underprivileged, as for many of us–at least in America–it’s the one of the only ways we have access to books.

I’m going to be aiming for Just Insert IV this year; I doubt I’ll have any problem. The majority of my reading is from library books (and the rest is by purchasing discarded library books for about $0.10 each from my local branches).

Books Read

  1. Samantha Learns a Lesson (American Girls: Samantha, #2) by Susan A. Adler
  2. Samantha Saves the Day (American Girls: Samantha, #5) by Valerie Tripp
  3. Nellie’s Promise (American Girls: Samantha, #7) by Valerie Tripp
  4. The Curse of Ravenscourt (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #1) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  5. The Stolen Sapphire (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #2) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  6. The Cry of the Loon (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #3) by Barbara Steiner
  7. Clue in the Castle Tower (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #4) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  8. Danger in Paris (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #5) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  9. Danger in Ancient Rome (Ranger in Time, #2) by Kate Messner
  10. Long Road to Freedom (Ranger in Time, #3) by Kate Messner
  11. The Tiara on the Terrace (Young and Yang, #2) by Kristen Kittscher
  12. Don’t Stay Up Late (Fear Street Reboot, #2) by R.L. Stine
  13. Menace from the Deep (Killer Species, #1) by Michael P. Spradlin
  14. Feeding Frenzy (Killer Species, #2) by Michael P. Spradlin
  15. Out for Blood (Killer Species, #3) by Michael P. Spradlin
  16. Chasing the Dream (Dolphin Diaries, #5) by Ben M. Baglio
  17. Racing the Wind (Dolphin Diaries, #6) by Ben M. Baglio
  18. Following the Rainbow (Dolphin Diaries, #7) by Ben M. Baglio
  19. Ultimate Attack (Killer Species, #4) by Michael P. Spradlin
  20. Dancing the Seas (Dolphin Diaries, #8) by Ben M. Baglio
  21. Leaving the Shallows (Dolphin Diaries, #9) by Ben M. Baglio
  22. Beyond the Sunrise (Dolphin Diaries, #10) by Ben M. Baglio
  23. Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian
  24. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
  25. Ida, Always by Caron Levis and Carles Santoso
  26. Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke
  27. A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
  28. When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano
  29. A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers
  30. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
  31. School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex
  32. Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
  33. The Thank You Book (Elephant & Piggie, #25) by Mo Willems
  34. Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko
  35. Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
  36. Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley
  37. The Runaway Friend (American Girl Mysteries: Kirsten, #1) by Kathleen Ernst
  38. Meet Felicity (American Girls: Felicity, #1) by Valerie Tripp
  39. Felicity Learns a Lesson (American Girls: Felicity, #2) by Valerie Tripp
  40. Felicity’s Surprise (American Girls: Felicity, #3) by Valerie Tripp
  41. Happy Birthday, Felicity! (American Girls: Felicity, #4) by Valerie Tripp

2016 Cloak and Dagger Challenge

The 2016 Cloak and Dagger Challenge is being hosted by the reviewers over at Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Read books in the mystery, thriller, suspense, and/or crime genres or any subgenres therein. Novels and novellas count, but no short stories!
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016 | The sign-up period ends on April 15th.
How: Make a goal post and link up here. Tweet your progress and your reviews with #2016CloakDaggerChal
Levels:

  1. Amateur Sleuth | 1 – 10 books
  2. Detective | 11 – 20 books
  3. Inspector | 21 – 30 books
  4. Special Agent | 31+ books
I’m going to be aiming for Amateur Sleuth, though I may increase my goal at a later point in the year.

  1. The Curse of Ravenscourt (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #1) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  2. The Stolen Sapphire (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #2) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  3. The Cry of the Loon (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #3) by Barbara Steiner
  4. Clue in the Castle Tower (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #4) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  5. Danger in Paris (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #5) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  6. The Tiara on the Terrace (Young and Yang, #2) by Kristen Kittscher
  7. The Runaway Friend (American Girl Mysteries: Kirsten, #1) by Kathleen Ernst

What An Animal IX Reading Challenge 2016

The What An Animal IX Reading Challenge 2016 is being hosted by Yvonne over at Socrates Book Reviews; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Read at least six books with an animal in the title, an animal on the cover, an animal playing a major role in the story, or a main character that’s an animal. (Obviously, humans are being excluded from the umbrella of “animal” here!)
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016
How: Sign up over here, and then get reading!
Levels:

  1. Level 1 | 6 books
  2. Level 2 | 7 – 12 books
  3. Level 3 | 13 – 20 books
  4. Level 4 | 21+ books
I’m going to be aiming for Level 1, but I doubt I’ll have any problem reading Level 4.

  1. Danger in Ancient Rome (Ranger in Time, #2) by Kate Messner
  2. Long Road to Freedom (Ranger in Time, #3) by Kate Messner
  3. Menace from the Deep (Killer Species, #1) by Michael P. Spradlin
  4. Feeding Frenzy (Killer Species, #2) by Michael P. Spradlin
  5. Out for Blood (Killer Species, #3) by Michael P. Spradlin
  6. Chasing the Dream (Dolphin Diaries, #5) by Ben M. Baglio
  7. Racing the Wind (Dolphin Diaries, #6) by Ben M. Baglio
  8. Following the Rainbow (Dolphin Diaries, #7) by Ben M. Baglio
  9. Ultimate Attack (Killer Species, #4) by Michael P. Spradlin
  10. Dancing the Seas (Dolphin Diaries, #8) by Ben M. Baglio
  11. Leaving the Shallows (Dolphin Diaries, #9) by Ben M. Baglio
  12. Beyond the Sunrise (Dolphin Diaries, #10) by Ben M. Baglio
  13. Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian
  14. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
  15. Ida, Always by Caron Levis and Carles Santoso
  16. A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
  17. The Thank You Book (Elephant & Piggie, #25) by Mo Willems
  18. Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko
  19. Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

The 2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge is being hosted by the reviewers over at Bookish Lifestyle; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Read the books you’ve had sitting around on your shelves. Novellas and short stories count, but 2016 ARCs and 2016 new releases do not.
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016 | Sign-ups close on November 30, 2016.
How: Sign up over here, and then get reading! Keep up with the challenge with #2016TBRPile and follow Bookish to participate in challenge giveaways. Also, check out the schedule on the sign up page!
Levels:

  1. A Firm Handshake | 1 – 10 books
  2. A Friendly Hug | 11 – 20 books
  3. First Kiss | 21 – 30 books
  4. Sweet Summer Fling | 31 – 40 books
  5. Could This Be Love? | 41 – 50 books
  6. Married with Children | 50+ books
I’m going to be aiming for A Firm Handshake, but I’d love to get to Married with Children. I have, after all, way too many books sitting around waiting for my attention!

Books Read:

  1. Meet Samantha: An American Girl (American Girls: Samantha, #1) by Susan A. Adler
  2. Samantha’s Surprise (American Girls: Samantha, #3) by Maxine Rose Schur
  3. Happy Birthday, Samantha! (American Girls: Samantha, #4) by Valerie Tripp
  4. Changes for Samantha (American Girls: Samantha, #6) by Valerie Tripp

2016 New Release Challenge

The 2016 New Release Challenge is being hosted by Lexxie over at (un)Conventional Book Views; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Read books published in 2016. Books must be at least 100 pages long, but may be either physical books, ebooks or eARCs, or audiobooks.
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016 | Sign-ups close on February 15th, 2016.
How: Sign up over here, and then get reading! And you can check out the challenge’s Facebook group over here.
Levels:

  1. New Release Newbie | 1 – 15 books
  2. New Release Pro | 16 – 30 books
  3. New Release Veteran | 31 – 45 books
  4. New Release Enthusiast | 45+ books
I’m going to be aiming for New Release Newbie. I doubt I’ll do any better (I read so few new releases!), but if I do, I may increase my goal later in the year. Really, I’ll just be pleased to get around to any new releases; I rarely do.

  1. The Tiara on the Terrace (Young and Yang, #2) by Kristen Kittscher
  2. Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian
  3. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
  4. Ida, Always by Caron Levis and Carles Santoso
  5. Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke
  6. A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
  7. When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano
  8. A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers
  9. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
  10. School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex
  11. Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
  12. The Thank You Book (Elephant & Piggie, #25) by Mo Willems
  13. Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko
  14. Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
  15. Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley


2016 Review Writing Challenge

The 2016 Review Writing Challenge is being hosted by Shari and Sophia Rose over at Delighted Reader; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Challenge yourself to write a certain number of reviews in 2016. There are no levels here; choose your own goal!
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016
How: Sign up over here, and then get reading!

My first, ridiculously low goal is going to be twelve reviews, though I hope to increase that (significantly!) before the end of the year.

Reviews of 2016:

  1. Picture Books 2016 #1: Dr. Seuss, Interstellar Cinderella, and More
  2. Picture Books 2016 #2: Quirkiness, Crayons, and the Scientific Method
  3. Picture Books 2016 #3: It’s All About Animals
  4. Picture Books 2016 #4: A Blast from the Past
  5. Picture Books 2016 #5: This One’s For Boo
  6. Picture Books 2016 #6: Dogs, Dogs, Dogs


2016 Blogger Shame Review Challenge

The 2016 Blogger Shame Review Challenge is being hosted by Anna over at Herding Cats & Burning Soup check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Read and/or review any review books that you’ve had for more than six months. There aren’t levels for this one; set your own goal!
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016
How: Sign up over here, and then get reading!

I’m also going to aim for twelve books/reviews with this one, but I hope to do better than that before the end of the year!


2016 I Love Picture Books Reading Challenge

The 2016 I Love Picture Books Reading Challenge is being hosted by the reviewers over at Bea’s Book Nook; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Read picture books! There aren’t any levels here, either; choose your own goal!
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016 | Sign-ups close December 1, 2016.
How: Sign up here and get reading!

I’m going to aim for twenty picture books in 2016; I know I’m at least going to check out the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards nominees when November rolls around, so I shouldn’t have any problem with this.

  1. Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian
  2. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
  3. Ida, Always by Caron Levis and Carles Santoso
  4. Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke
  5. A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
  6. When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano
  7. A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers
  8. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
  9. School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex
  10. Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
  11. The Thank You Book (Elephant & Piggie, #25) by Mo Willems
  12. Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko
  13. Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
  14. Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley


2016 Horror Reading Challenge

The 2016 Horror Reading Challenge is being hosted by Tracy over at Cornerfolds; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Read and review horror books, audiobooks, rereads, and/or short stories!
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016 | Sign-ups close October 15, 2016.
How: Sign up here and get reading!

  1. Running Scared | 1 – 5 books
  2. Brave Reader | 6 – 10 books
  3. Fearless | 11 – 15 books
  4. Horror Hound | 16+
One of my New Years Resolutions is to increase my horror intake, so this challenge is perfect for me! I’m going to aim for Running Scared first, but I’m tentatively hoping to get to Horror Hound.

  1. Don’t Stay Up Late (Fear Street Reboot, #2) by R.L. Stine

2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

The 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge is being hosted by Amy over at Passages to the Past; check it out here. Here’s a quick rundown of the gist:

What: Read and review books from any historical fiction subgrenre from historical romance to historical fantasy to young adult and more!
When: January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016
How: Sign up here and get reading!

  1. 20th Century Reader | 2 books
  2. Victorian Reader | 5 books
  3. Renaissance Reader | 10 books
  4. Medieval | 15 books
  5. Ancient History | 25 books
  6. Prehistoric | 50+ books
I plan to go back through some of the American Girl books in order to review them this year, so I’m adding this challenge to my list! I’m going to aim for Medieval first, but I might keep going past that.

Books Read:

  1. Meet Samantha: An American Girl (American Girls: Samantha, #1) by Susan A. Adler
  2. Samantha Learns a Lesson (American Girls: Samantha, #2) by Susan A. Adler
  3. Samantha’s Surprise (American Girls: Samantha, #3) by Maxine Rose Schur
  4. Happy Birthday, Samantha! (American Girls: Samantha, #4) by Valerie Tripp
  5. Samantha Saves the Day (American Girls: Samantha, #5) by Valerie Tripp
  6. Changes for Samantha (American Girls: Samantha, #6) by Valerie Tripp
  7. Nellie’s Promise (American Girls: Samantha, #7) by Valerie Tripp
  8. The Curse of Ravenscourt (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #1) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  9. The Stolen Sapphire (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #2) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  10. The Cry of the Loon (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #3) by Barbara Steiner
  11. Clue in the Castle Tower (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #4) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  12. Danger in Paris (American Girl Mysteries: Samantha, #5) by Sarah Masters Buckey
  13. Danger in Ancient Rome (Ranger in Time, #2) by Kate Messner
  14. Long Road to Freedom (Ranger in Time, #3) by Kate Messner
  15. The Runaway Friend (American Girl Mysteries: Kirsten, #1) by Kathleen Ernst
  16. Meet Felicity (American Girls: Felicity, #1) by Valerie Tripp
  17. Felicity Learns a Lesson (American Girls: Felicity, #2) by Valerie Tripp
  18. Felicity’s Surprise (American Girls: Felicity, #3) by Valerie Tripp
  19. Happy Birthday, Felicity! (American Girls: Felicity, #4) by Valerie Tripp


Anything Else?

I might add some more challenges to my agenda as the year goes on, and I will be tracking my challenge progress here. So check back during 2016 and see what I’m reading! And, of course, at the end of the year, I’ll be posting a challenge wrap-up.

Cover Characteristic

[Cover Characteristic] Bunnies and Rabbits

Cover Characteristic is a weekly meme hosted by Sugar & Snark. The following post contains affiliate links.
Bunnies in the Bathroom by Ben M. Baglio

Mandy’s new friend John has his heart set on buying two baby rabbits in the local pet shop. But before he has a chance, Barney and Button are gone. Mandy and James decide to get the bunnies back for John. But will they be able to find the new owner?

Bunny Bonanza by Ben M. Baglio

Mandy and James are excited to take part in a national fundraiser for animals. But how can they help? James has a great idea — hold a gathering of pet rabbits. Owners can pay to join the group! But will there be enough members to make it a bunny bonanza?

Rabbits on the Run by Lucy Daniels

Farmer Sam Western is threatening to destroy the rabbits in a nearby warren, as they keep going onto his land to eat his crops. Mandy, James and their friend John Hardy are desperate to save the hungry rabbits. The question is, how? Then Mandy has a radical idea: relocate them. But will it work?

Bunny in a Basket by Ben M. Baglio

Mandy is thrilled to be staying at James’s cousin Nadia’s house for a week, and to hear that Nadia has a gorgeous lop-eared rabbit named Pixie. Pixie has entered a competition for the chance to be the model for a chocolate Easter bunny! But when Pixie suddenly falls ill, Mandy must use her veterinary experience to determine what’s wrong with him. Can Mandy cure Pixie’s mystery illness in time for the competition?

Bunny on a Barge by Lucy Daniels

Reading Challenges

2015 Netgalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge: I’m In!

This year, Falling for YA is hosting their Netgalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge for the second year, and I’m taking the plunge. Since I have absolute mountains of books long overdue for a review from both Netgalley and Edelweiss, I’d like to make 2015 the year that I tackle those books.

Here’s a brief run-down of how the challenge works; for more information or to join in yourself, check out the sign-up page here.

The challenge runs the entirety of 2015, and the goal is simple: read your damn eARCs! It doesn’t matter if they’re books you’ve requested this year or last or, gods forbid, even before that–if you got it from Netgalley or Edelweiss, it falls under the umbrella of acceptable books. Obviously, books must be reviewed in some sense to count for the challenge, but you need not be a blogger to participate.

There are five levels to the challenge, and these are Bronze with a goal of ten books, Silver with a goal of twenty five books, Gold with a goal of fifty books, platinum with a goal of seventy five books, and Diamond with a goal of one hundred books. I hope to read at least twelve eARCs this year (and would love to fly past that number if at all possible!), so I will be aiming for Bronze.

And again, if you’re interested in participating in this challenge, you can sign-up here.

10 / 10 (100.00%)
  1. Play Dead (A Dog and His Girl Mysteries, #1) by Jane B. Mason and Sara Hines Stephens | Review
  2. Iris and the Aloha Wedding Adventure by Lynelle Woolley | Review
  3. Made in China: A Story of Adoption by Vanita Oelschlager | (Mini!) Review
  4. Baby Santa by M. Maitland DeLand | (Mini!) Review
  5. Baby Santa’s Worldwide Christmas Adventure by M. Maitland DeLand | (Mini!) Review
  6. Baby Santa and the Lost Letters by M. Maitland DeLand | (Mini!) Review
  7. Baby Santa and the Missing Reindeer by M. Maitland DeLand | (Mini!) Review
  8. Magic Words: From the Ancient Oral Tradition of the Inuit by Edward Field | (Mini!) Review
  9. A Storm Called Katrina by Myron Uhlberg | (Mini!) Review
  10. How the Meteorite Got to the Museum by Jessica Hartland | (Mini!) Review
Cover Characteristic

[Cover Characteristic] Sand

Cover Characteristic is a weekly meme hosted by Sugar & Snark. The following post contains affiliate links.

Journey to the Volcano Palace (The Secrets of Droon, #2) by Tony Abbott

Eric, Julie and Neal have a problem. The nasty Lord Sparr has stolen a magic jewel from their friend Princess Keeah. The Princess really needs their help. The good news is the jewel is in Lord Sparr’s secret palace. The bad news is the secret palace is in a volcano!

The Vampire’s Vacation (A to Z Mysteries, #22) by Ron Roy

V is for Vampire…

Grab your garlic! When the kids follow a mysterious pale and dark-haired stranger into Ellie’s Diner, he suddenly vanishes! Then they see a cut on Ellie’s neck. Could it be a vampire bite? And will Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose be his next victims?

(And be sure to check out my review here!)

Ponies at the Point by Ben M. Baglio

Mandy and her friend James are vacationing in Ireland, home of the wild Connemara ponies. A wounded foal offers clues that someone is trying to steal the ponies, and Mandy and James set out to find the horse thieves.

Pirates Past Noon (Magic Tree House, #4) by Mary Pope Osborne

It’s a treasure trove of trouble! Jack and Annie are in for a high-seas adventure when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to the days of deserted islands, secret maps—and ruthless pirates! Will they discover a buried treasure? Or will they be forced to walk the plank?

Season of the Sandstorms (Magic Tree House, #34) by Mary Pope Osborne

Jack and Annie travel back in time to a desert in the Middle East at the behest of Merlin who has given them a rhyme to help on their mission. There they meet a Bedouin tribe and learn about the way that they live. From camel rides and oases to ancient writings and dangerous sandstorms, here’s another Magic Tree House filled with all the mystery, history, magic, and old-fashioned adventure that kids love to read about.