Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Roller Skating Party and DIY Treat Bag Tutorial

Part of the reason why I have been MIA lately was planning my daughter’s 7th birthday party. We try to do something special but not over the top every year for birthdays around here. I always make the cake or cupcakes to follow the theme that they pick out. This year, my DD decided she wanted a roller skating party since she has recently discovered love of the roller skating. (This was a very affordable party to pay for on the scale of most birthday parties outside of the home). The roller rink provided invitations, drinks, paper products and pizza. I provided the cake and the treat bags.

My adorable roller skate cupcakes!

My adorable roller skate cupcakes!

These were so easy and cute! I found the idea for these on pinterest( and I can’t find the website now so if someone knows the original creator please let me know ). I simply tinted the frosting pink (although it looks closer to red in the picture). Then I bought some rolled fondant from Michael’s and shaped them into shoe shapes. Then I just added Mini M&Ms to the side of the shoe as wheels. DD loved them!

Treat Bags

Treat Bags

We gave each child who attended a treat bag. I found these cute star ones at Target (8 for $2). I thought they kinda went with the whole roller skating theme. We included finger skateboards, a small slinky, a star lollipop (all purchased from Party City for about $10) and a custom candy treat bag.

Treat Bag Topper

Custom Candy Treat Bag

I have seen these everywhere on Pinterest and I thought I would try to make them for the party. It is VERY easy so I am including a quick tutorial on how to make these.

Materials needed :

– Ziploc snack bags or any other treat bags

– card stock ( I had mine printed at Staples so I didn’t actually purchase card stock – also my printer doesn’t have a color cartridge right now ūüėČ

– treats to put in the bag ( I used Skittles to go along with the color scheme of the bags)


1) Find a background for your bag topper. I went to Pinterest and typed in chevron background. Here is the website I found :

Chevron Background Screen Shot

It is from a site called Doodlecraft. I just right clicked on the image and then saved it to my desktop.

2) Now you have two options. If you can print at home and would like something smaller and already sized then go to Go to Design and Print Online, then Marketing Solutions. They have one option for Bag Toppers where you can customize it the way you want to and print it out yourself. I decided to send my project to be printed at Staples. To do that, open Microsoft Publisher and start a new project. I picked one that was the size of a regular letter in landscape.

3) Now, go to Insert —> Picture —–> From File —–> [insert whatever background you found]

Publisher Screen Shot 1

4) Measure your bag and make a box the size you want your topper. When you get it right, make a copy and put it below the first box. Should look like this. Publisher Screen Shot 2

5) Now comes the fun! You want to add the elements for the front of the bag to the BOTTOM box. I inserted a clip art of a roller skate by going to Insert—-> Picture—–> From Clip Art. You just have to search what they have and put it where you want it.

6) I also wanted a star shape to write the thank you in. On left side, there is an Auto Shapes button. I chose a 5 point star. Publisher Screen Shot 3

Once you place it and make it the size you want, you can right-click on it. There are options to fill it with a different color (I chose white) and adjust the outline (which I made a higher weight and in red to reflect the star from the treat bag). Once you get everything the way you like it, save your project. Here is the finished project.

Publisher Screen Shot 4

7) Put your project online at and send to the nearest store to get printed. For my 8 treat bags, it cost $7.84 to put it on card stock.

8) Once you get your hot little hands on the printed toppers, cut them out (the whole thing) fold on the white space between the boxes and staple to your filled treat bag. Voila!

That was sort of a long tutorial for a not very complicated process. I hope this helps somebody out there! Let me know if you have any questions…




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Book Review : In the Garden of Iden

Title : In the Garden of Iden

Author : Kage Baker In the Garden of Iden (The Company, #1)

Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the Company Series

Three Words : science fiction, historical, romance

Red Flags : sex, violence, bad language (NSFC)

Summary :

This entire book is narrated by Mendoza who explains “The Company” and how she came to be part of it. The Company, or Dr. Zeus, Inc., is a 24th century organization that has discovered the secrets to both time travel and immortality. They use this knowledge not to serve humanity but to become wealthy. They go back in time and make children immortal through a treatment that turns them into cyborgs. These children then gather objects from the past, hide them and live through the centuries until the 24th century at which time the Company “finds” these items and sells them for vast sums of money. Mendoza was rescued from the Spanish inquisition as a small child and turned into a cyborg. Her specialty is botany. When she emerges from her training fifteen years later, she is stationed in the garden of Sir Walter Iden to collect rare plant species. She travels with two other Company cyborgs, Joseph and Nefer. When she arrives in England at Iden’s estate, she meets his secretary – Nicholas Harpole. She is immediately attracted to him, he is intelligent and seems to be ahead of his time in his views. She sets out to seduce him believing it would be advantageous to the Company…she didn’t plan to have actual feelings for him. We follow her as she deals with the implications of being an immortal cyborg, being Spanish in an anti-Catholic England and being in love with an all too mortal questioning human.

My Take :

I’m not really sure what to write about this book. In some ways I really liked it, but in other ways it was a little boring. The underlying premise is so interesting and promising but honestly sometimes I was struggling to get through the book. When reading the description I really expected this to be a little more romantic than it was, but don’t let it fool you – this is hard core science fiction. Which is great, just not what I was expecting. I fully believe that how we receive books, movies, TV, really any entertainment has a lot to do with where we are in our lives and our expectations as much as the actual content. So…I did enjoy this and I would recommend it just maybe not wholeheartedly. I give it six shoes – ankle boots that I can’t seem to figure out what to wear with.

Anybody else read one of the Company books? What did you think?



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Book Review : Kept in the Dark

Yeah! It is almost Halloween! I love Halloween mostly because my girls are so excited they can hardly contain themselves. We will be escorting Princess Ariel and a princess vampire around for candy treats this year ( don’t worry I will post pictures…). I haven’t decided if I want to dress up or not. This year I have mostly decided to channel my Halloween urges into decorating the house in a spooky yet elegant manner. I did some fun things in the dining room that I will post on Wednesday.

On to the book review….I had read this book over my long hiatus and somewhat forgotten it. But as I’ve been reading other blogs with lists of creepy or horror novels to read, my mind had a flash and I remembered this book. Kept in the Dark reminded me of Before I Go To Sleep and The Collector – you know psychological suspense type thriller novels. Since I didn’t really have a “horror” book to review for this Halloween week, I thought I would share my thoughts on this one.

Title : Kept in the Dark (also published as Tideline in England)

Author : Penny Hancock

Three Words : psychological, suspenseful, disturbing

Red Flags : Drug use, sexual situations, violence… not appropriate for children

The book begins with Sonia opening the door and inviting in fifteen-year old Jez, who is there to borrow a record from her husband. As she talks to the boy, Sonia becomes convinced that she doesn’t want him to leave and just decides to keep him there. Sounds crazy but that is literally what happens in the first chapter. Jez is the nephew of a family friend – an alcoholic woman with problems of her own. She isn’t convinces that he is missing but reluctantly¬†begins to search for him. She never suspects that Sonia¬†has taken Jez. After all, Sonia is¬†wealthy and attractive,¬†a successful voice coach who has been seeminlyg happily¬†married for more than twenty years. As the search for Jez intensifies, Sonia must devise ways to keep Jez in her control and hidden from the world, while dealing with the¬†memories of the terrible truth of her childhood. Why is she keeping this boy? How far will she go? Will Jez ever go home to his family? What is Sonia’s secret past?

I enjoyed this book although occassionally it felt a little slow. It succeeded in conveying the “banality of evil” (as Hannah Arendt called¬†it). Sonia isn’t¬†all crazy¬†Hannibal Lecter-y¬†style. In her mind, all of her actions are completely reasonable – she needs to keep Jez and that is all there is to it. In every¬†instance, she simply decides to go through with ever more horrific actions. Also, the terrible secret of her past is pretty crazy – I did not see that¬†coming at all.¬†Jez’s aunt is not the most sympathetic character in the world, she is an alcoholic who feels like everyone is over-reacting when they are concerned by Jez’s disappearance. She is so self-absorbed with her own issues and problems, it is difficult to¬†connect with her or sympathize with her on any level.

The biggest problem I had with this book was the pace of the writing. It was a pretty slow buildup to the final events. Sometimes, I just wanted to scream “Alright! Get on with it!” In the end , I was glad I stuck with the book and found out the secret because that really made me feel all creepy and disturbed inside. One of those books, I just think about for a couple of days which is one of my favorite feellings. I would give this book eight shoes – my black knee high boots which I love, but they have a boxy toe on them so sometimes I feel like they look a little old-fashioned but I digress.

What creepy books do you recommend for Halloween? Has anyone read this one?

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Home Tour : Living Room

Well I totally missed Wednesday’s post of the next room in our House tour. I was out with my sweet little daughters of whom oldest is on Fall Break…it’s hard to tell that it was Fall because it almost 80 degrees out but whatever. So I thought you would enjoy seeing the second room on the House tour : the Living Room or Music Room (or perhaps Conservatory). When we moved in the room already had beautiful red walls so I was super excited to not have to paint these walls ūüėČ We needed furniture for the room so we made a trip to Ikea. Here it is :

View from the doorway of the living room

Here is the corner to the right of the doorway. I love the two pencil drawings of my children and my fur child. I also just adore the way the blue lamp pops against the red walls.

Our Ikea purchases included this sofa, the cushions and the side table. We had the pictures at the old house…dramatic opera posters that just happened to have all the right colors.

Pillow from Ikea – has the blue and red colors to go with the rest of the living room.

The rug was a housewarming gift from my parents…it is amazing! Picks up all the colors from the decor and really warms up the room.

I made these silhouettes myself! I was so excited and all it cost me was $10 for the frames and $4 for the posterboard. Yeah me!

I thought the curtains were too light and airy on their own so I doubled them up on each side. I love the way they contrast in the room.

OK….so there is the living room. We got a piano from my dear MIL and Eric and I decided to put our cello and guitar in the room to emphasize the music aspect of it but it has also quickly become one of my favorite reading spots. Hope you enjoyed it.


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Happy Birthday Dad!!!!

Today is my Dad’s birthday and in honor of this momentous occassion I am providing a reading list just for him (fair warning – if you don’t like science fiction or technothrillers you are SOL). For as long as I can remember my dad always read Asimov – he always tried to get me to read the Robot Foundation series. Unfortunately, teenage girls aren’t as interested in classic science fiction as say, historical romance novels or watching Dirty Dancing for the thousandth time. So if you haven’t read Asimov, take some time and read I, Robot – it was written in 1950 and is considered THE classic sci-fi novel. If you have read it, then maybe peruse some of these novels :

1) The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

A collection of eighteen short stories following the destiny of humankind. A mixture of science fiction, magic, reality, and imagination. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) The Phoenix Code by Catherine Asaro

Robotics expert Megan O’Flannery is the sole human contact with the new self-aware android project dubbed Aris. Programmed as part of a top-secret defense project, Aris proves to be resourceful and uncontrollable. Megan enlists the help of robotics genius Raj Sundaram. Aris soon becomes jealous of Raj, and Megan discovers that Raj may be a greater danger than Aris. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) Peace on Earth by Stanislaw Lem

A comic send-up of militarism, espionage, scientists and psychiatrists in which the unflappable hero fights for truth and justice in a world gone mad. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

4) The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein

When Dan Davis is crossed in love and stabbed in the back by his business associates, the immediate future doesn’t look too bright for him and Pete, his independent-minded tom cat. Suddenly, the lure of suspended animation, the Long Sleep, becomes irresistible and Dan wakes up thirty years later in the twenty-first century. He discovers that the robot household appliances he invented, far from having been stolen from him, have, mysteriously, been patented in his name. There’s only thing for it. Dan has to, somehow, travel back in time to investigate… (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

5) Gateway by Frederick Pohl

Wealth … or death.¬† Those were the choices Gateway offered.¬† Humans had discovered this artificial spaceport, full of working interstellar ships left behind by the mysterious, vanished Heechee. Their destinations are preprogrammed.¬† They are easy to operate, but impossible to control.¬† Some came back with discoveries which made their intrepid pilots rich; others returned with their remains barely identifiable.¬† It was the ultimate game of Russian roulette, but in this resource-starved future there was no shortage of desperate volunteers. Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
6) Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg
Set in an immense world teeming with alien races and fantastic magical machinery, Valentine wakes up one morning with only a vague and troubled idea of who he is. His dreams suggest he is the ruler of Majipor – but no one will believe him. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
My dad also loves the Tom Clancy technothriller. Here are some books that Tom Clancy himself recommends :

1) Storm Warning by Jack Higgins

During World War II, a group of German expatriates trapped in Brazil must sail across five thousand miles of tempestuous water to reach their homeland-and face the deadly barricade of American and British military power. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) The Spanish Gambit by Stephen Hunter

Julian Raines was a golden boy from Eton, a renowned young poet who fled into the Spanish Civil War. Robert Florry was once Raine’s friend.¬† Now he is being blackmailed by British Intelligence into hunting down his old friend in Spain.¬† MI-6 says Julian Raines has turned KGB spy. The whorehouses of Barcelona are jammed.¬† The bars are filled with laughter, and the streets are running with wine and blood.¬† In the chaos, Robert Florry will find his old friend, unaware that a noose of espionage, psychological terror, and murder is being tightened around them by masters of the craft. A Soviet agent named the Devil Himself has gone rogue; an American mobster turned secret policeman is after a missing gold shipment; and all the rules have changed. Now there’s only one way out of Spain: on a path of terror, lies and blood. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
3) The Generals by W E B Griffin
¬†They were the leaders, the men who made the decision that changed the outcome of battles…and the fate of the continents. From the awesome landing at Normandy to the torturous campaigns of the South Pacific, from the frozen hills of Korea to the devastated wastes of Dien Bien Phu, they had earned their stars. Now they led America’s finest against her most relentless enemy deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It was a new kind of war, but the Generals led a new kind of army, ready for battle–and for glory…(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
4) The Legacy of Hereot by Steven Barnes, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Civilization on Earth was rich, comfortable and overcrowded. Millions applied, but only the best were chosen to settle on Tau Ceti Four. The colony was a success, an idyll, the stuff of dreams, but beyond the perimeter the nightmare has begun to chatter.(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
Lastly, if you know anything about my dad you know he is Hungarian and proud! So I thought he might like to read some books by Hungarian authors…check them out!
1) Fateless by Imre Kertesz (Sorstalansag)
On his return to his native Budapest from a German concentration camp, 14-year-old George Koves senses the difference of people on the street. Left to ponder the meaning of his experience alone, he comes to the conclusion that neither his Hungarian or Jewish heritage was at the heart of his fate. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) Embers by Sandor Marai
In a secluded woodland castle an old General prepares to receive a rare visitor, a man who was once his closest friend but who he has not seen in forty-one years.¬† Over the ensuing hours host and guest will fight a duel of words and silences, accusations and evasions. They will exhume the memory of their friendship and that of the General‚Äôs beautiful, long-dead wife. And they will return to the time the three of them last sat together following a hunt in the nearby forest–a hunt in which no game was taken but during which something was lost forever. Originally published in 1942. (taken from Goodreads)
3) The Door by Magda Szabo
The story of two women, a writer and her housekeeper. While responding to her own needs for recognition and acceptance as an artist, the writer encourages her very private housekeeper to emerge from inner isolation. But when the housekeeper becomes ill and dies, the writer is not available to her. The book serves as the writer’s apology for neglecting her human responsibilities. (taken from Goodreads)
4) The Melancholy of Resistance by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
A circus, promising to display the stuffed body of the largest whale in the world, arrives in the dead of winter, prompting bizarre rumors. Word spreads that the circus folk have a sinister purpose in mind, and the frightened citizens cling to any manifestation of order they can find‚ÄĒmusic, cosmology, fascism. The novel’s characters are unforgettable: the evil Mrs. Eszter, plotting her takeover of the town; her weakling husband; and Valuska, our hapless hero with his head in the clouds, who is the tender center of the book, the only pure and noble soul to be found. (taken from Goodreads)
As you can see, Hungarians are an upbeat bunch ;P  Anyway, Isten éltessen sokáig Dad! Enjoy these books. Thanks for always picking up ridiculous teeny bopper movies from the video store (which must have been embarrassing) and turning me onto Blood Sport. I love you.

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Dark Inside or Zombies without the brain-eating part just the killy part…

I’m back! Yes I thought I would be able to keep up the daily post of book reviewage but I was sick…so it didn’t happen. But I’m back in the posting saddle and ready to share with you another of my reviews. This book is one of those YA trilogies but in this one we are around for the apocalypse…exciting fun! In this one we get to follow different narrators throughout the demise of all society….

The basics are this : everything is super crazy all at the same time. There is massive earthquake AND everybody gets really kill-happy all at the same time. Not just random kill-happy but lock people in an assembly hall and massacre them kill-happy. We start our story with Mason, whose mother was just killed in a car accident. While he is at her bedside, his high school is bombed and everybody he knows has been killed. Meanwhile, Aries (worst name ever) is on a bus with her best friend when an earthquake hits. She is saved by a mysterious stranger but must learn to survive the aftermath on her own. Clementine is in a town-hall meeting that goes terribly wrong and now is on the run from the killers. Michael is driving down the road when he witnesses a brutal crime, only to have the police who show up turn murderous and start hunting him down. We follow these four people (and some strange chapters thrown in by Nothing) as they contend with this new world and eventually meet up. How do you survive in a world where everybody is out to kill you, food and water are scarce and you don’t know where to go?

So, this is kind of a zombie book without the zombies. While this first book doesn’t delve into the reasons why all this happened there is some talk about an ancient evil culling civilizations out through time i.e. Rome, Aztecs, etc… I expect this will be prominent in the forthcoming books. I enjoyed the tense feeling throughout the book, there are no guarantees on who survives. Also, the characters are really interesting. They are not always heroic or even good. The females, for once, manage to be competent and feminine. I couldn’t tell where the story was going but I was anxious to find out. ALSO, I love that there is no romance because honestly that can seem so manufactured sometimes. This was a good YA book and I would recommend it. Some of the names are ridiculous and some of the dialogue is a little overly dramatic but I enjoyed the story and the characters. I give it seven shoes – a functional cute pair of riding boots.

If you are interested here is the book trailer for Dark Inside :

Three Appeals : apocalypse zombie story without the zombies, strong female characters, fast-paced tense writing

Red Flags : Violence and gore

If you like Dark Inside try :

1) Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.(taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) Unwind by Neal Shusterman

An unsettling futuristic novel set after the Second Civil War. Connor Lassiter, age 16, runs away from his suburban Ohio home after discovering that his parents have scheduled his “unwinding.” His body parts will go to other people who need them. He will be both terminated and “technically” kept alive, only in a separated state. The constitutional amendments known as “The Bill of Life” permit parents to choose “retroactive” abortion for children between the ages of 13 and 18. Connor meets another Unwind, Risa, and they kidnap Lev, who is a Tithe (the 10th child born to a single family with the express purpose of being unwound). Their escape and survival stories interweave as they struggle to avoid harvest camps. Luckily, an underground network is helping Unwinds escape to safety. (taken from Novelist)

I really liked the book trailer…what did you think??

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Mudbound or Sex and Racism

I recently read the awesome and amazing When She Woke¬†which you all know that I loved beyond words so I had to check out Hillary Jordan’s first novel – Mudbound. I blasted through this novel in about two days. It is really not typically something I like to read about – 1940’s Mississippi but this was very well done. I have come to two conclusions from this book : Sex = awesome and life-renewing, Racism = sucks. Really who can’t get behind that message….

Laura is this city girl who is somewhat plain and everybody thought she was going to be an old maid, until the day she meets Henry McAllan. He’s older and has some prospects so she agrees to marry him. They have some kids and life is going okay. Then he decides to move her to Mississippi to his farm, with his Pappy – a horrifying old racist a-hole. She is somewhat resentful and kind of over the whole thing when the war ends (WWII) and who comes back but Jamie – younger brother of Henry. He is everything Henry is not, handsome, young, witty, charming, but also full of PTSD issues and dealing with it the old-fashioned way – getting drunk a lot. You might be able to see where this is going…..Meanwhile, the oldest son of the black sharecropper family¬†on the farm also comes back from war and he is having issues with war as well, but also coming back from fighting for a country where he is a second-class citizen. Soon Jamie and Ronsel, the sharecropper’s son, strike up a friendship – a dangerous thing in 1940s Mississippi. All of these relationships clash in an intense climax that will leave you shocked and thoughtful.

This book stuck with me long after I read it…..something I love. The relationships between all of the characters struck me as interesting and realistic.¬†The entire book is¬†written where each chapter¬†is from the viewpoint of a different character, which is¬†great because so much of the turmoil¬†is within these characters and only bubbles out at the end.¬†All of the characters are flawed and sympathetic, they do things you can’t understand and then you¬†somehow do understand. Can you tell I really liked this book? I can’t wait to see what Hillary Jordan¬†writes next! I¬†give this book eight and a half shoes – sparkly Ugg boots – it’s not something I would usually go for but I totally like them anyway.

If¬†you like the aspect of a woman dealing with moving¬†in with family she is¬†uncomfortable with try Vinegar Hill¬†by A. Manette¬†Ansay¬† about a woman who is forced¬†to move in with her in-laws when her husband loses his job but finds living¬†unbearable with her father-in-law, a cruel religious fanatic. Or try Wallace Stegner’s Angel of¬†Repose, a Pulitzer Prize winner. In this novel, ¬†Lyman Ward, a wheelchair-bound historian whose marriage has failed, decides to write a fictional biography about his pioneer grandparents to discover why they grew apart over the years. Through their letters and documents, Lyman pieces together the story of Susan, his grandmother, who moved from the East Coast when she married his grandfather, Oliver Ward, a mining engineer in the late nineteenth century. (taken from RA Online)

For some non-fiction books on racism try Sons of Mississippi¬†by Paul Hendrickson. The author has taken the photograph on the cover of seven men, all white and county sheriffs in Mississippi who were determined to keep James Meredith from integrating the University of Mississippi. He weaves together their life stories with that of their children and James Meredith’s children to provide a context for race relations then and today. For a first-person account, try Bone Black by bell hooks in which she describes her own childhood as a “challenging” child who wanted to think for herself.

Let me know what you think! Please sign up as a subscriber…it’s so easy to do.


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Forgotten (as in I wish it could be…)

I read about this book on another book review blog (Books I Done Read – which is hilarious) and the premise seemed interesting to me. I’m into the YA novel thing so I thought I would give it a chance even though it was not a dystopian trilogy. Apparently that was my mistake because this one was one of those books that you read the last page and think “Well that was hours out of my life I won’t get back.” Obviously not my favorite but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

London Lane (which already is super annoying because who is named London Lane honestly) has her memories of the entire day erased at exactly 4:33 am each night. But not only does she forget what happened that day but she only remembers future memories….makes sense right? She keeps a diary to help her and so she doesn’t wear the same things two days in a row (because that would be truly tragic). Now she’s met this super cute boy and he’s complicated and angsty, but she keeps forgetting him. AND she’s having disturbing flash-forwards of funerals, etc…¬†London decides that she¬†must learn about her past in order to deal with her future.

So I hated the name of the character and beyond that she had no redeeming qualities….she’s nice and super-angsty but that is about it. Also, the flash-forwards thing is NEVER explained. It is mentioned as a “wow that is totally crazy that happens to you” thing but that’s it. The relationship with the new boyfriend is slightly more interesting but also not great. The story is pretty fast-paced and this is a quick read. The climax is somewhat satisfying in that you find out what happened in her past and hope that she has a good future, blah ba doo. But honestly I could never get past the sophomoric writing and the premise THAT WAS NEVER EXPLAINED. I give this three shoes – a Croc – comfortable but plainly meant for just children. (sorry to all you adult croc wearers out there).

Title: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Three Appeals : fast-paced story, new premise….ummmm

Red Flags : Appropriate for teens

If you like this book then try:

1) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High – from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.¬†¬† Instead, it turns out to be her last.¬†¬† Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death – and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.¬† (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Following her parents’ bitter divorce as she and her father move from town to town, seventeen-year-old Mclean reinvents herself at each school she attends until she is no longer sure she knows who she is or where she belongs. (taken from Novelist)

3) Unforgettable by Loretta Ellsworth

When Baxter Green was three years old he developed a condition that causes him to remember absolutely everything, and now that he is fifteen, he and his mother have moved to Minnesota to escape her criminal boyfriend and, Baxter hopes, to reconnect with a girl he has been thinking about since kindergarten (taken from Novelist).


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Chew on this!

In my everlasting quest to try new formats and genres in the literary world I have actually gotten pretty addicted to graphic novels. I love the art, the storytelling tends to be a combination of fast-paced action and sci-fi/fantasy and the characters are usually well-developed – all things I love. I’m currently enjoying the series Locke and Key(previously reviewed) and I read somewhere that those who enjoyed that series might enjoy another series named Chew. I enjoyed Chew so much I went ahead and read Vols. 1, 2, AND 3.

Tony Chu is a cibopath….he gets psychic impressions from anything he eats. Bad for you if you want to enjoy your food – probably wouldn’t love to know how the pig got slaughtered in your BLT right? Great for you if you are a detective and you don’t mind chowing down on a murder victim to figure out who killed them. Tony lives in a dystopian future where avian bird flu has been responsible for killing millions of people. The government has outlawed chicken as a food source but is that really the reason? The government has found out Tony’s secret and hired him to be part of the most feared governmental institution of all – the FDA! Tony is tasked with solving crimes, mostly having to do with illegal poultry smuggling.

We get to meet all sorts of characters in these series including Tony’s chef brother and rest of his family, his girlfriend, crazy partners, etc… (I can’t tell you about them all but they are pretty interesting). The drawings have both a dark and cartoon like slant to them. While the material can be pretty disgusting, the tone is tongue-in-cheek and has a dark sense of humor throughout. Each of the volumes ends with a cliff-hanger which kept me coming back for more. I would highly recommend these books, I’m excited to have just got the latest volume. I give these novels eight shoes – fun, frivolous, easy, awesome.

Three Appeals : dystopian future, intricate, dark drawings and dark sense of humor

Red Flags : Gore, violence, sex, language, etc… definitely a dark graphic novel

Chew definitely borrows some elements from the popular Walking Dead series( which is also now a TV series) so check those out if you enjoy the style of drawing and story elements. Also, check out Locke and Key if you haven’t already. If you enjoy the cibopathic aspect of this novel, then you might enjoy:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender which also has a character that reads emotions from the food she eats. On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother – her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother – tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden – her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

If you like the dystopian aspect with a dash of dark humor thrown in you might try:

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color – but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.¬† Eddie’s world wasn’t always like this. There’s evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.¬† Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Does this sound like something you would read? Have any of you read it?

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Witches, Werewolves and Vampires – OH MY!

I hope you are feeling lucky today because I have been a-readin’! Like myself, some of you may feel that the whole vampire, werewolf supernatural thing is played out. After being subjected to the particularly odiously written Twilight as well as numerous mentions of Team Edward/Team Jacob (p.s. Edward wins!!) loyalty from tweens and adults, I was ready to stop with the whole genre. But I read so many good things about the three books (that’s right I said three!!)¬†I am reviewing today that I had to give in and submit. And I am so glad that I did. Friends you are in for an adult treat…

Our first book is a little gem called A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness. Diana Bishop is a witch from a long line of witches. However, she has decided to renounce the whole magic thing since her parents were killed in some horrific magic ritual in Nigeria (personally I would just maybe renounce exotic travel instead of the whole magic thing but that’s just me). She is now an Oxford scholar poring over old alchemical manuscripts in the Bodleian library. So she really doesn’t expect anything interesting to happen when she retrieves another manuscript called the Ashmole 482. She takes a look at it, finds nothing that interesting and puts it back in the stacks. But alas, she has actually discovered a super important magical manuscript which sets the underworld abuzz. Soon witches, daemons, and vampires are descending on the library which she finds pretty unnerving but tries to ignore. One vampire seems particularly interested in her-Matthew Clairmont, a Oxford geneticist. Soon Matthew and Diana are working together as things get more and more dangerous and¬†they discover more about the mysterious manuscript, the mystery of Diana’s parents murder and a whole host of¬†other things.

I really enjoyed this book. Diana and¬†Matthew¬†are both fun, interesting, flawed, strong and believable characters who just happen to be fantastical creatures of the night.¬†Although the book is¬†certainly not a thriller, it does have thrilling moments and has that easy conversational style among characters that you wish you¬†had with your friends including sarcastic commentary and witty repartee. I’m totally hooked on the mysteries and can’t wait to read the next books in the trilogy. Although sometimes the pacing can be slow and in the middle my attention started to wane, I kept going¬†and enjoyed the ending. Of course it also gets extra points for taking place in a library at the beginning. See they are exciting! This book is a pair of leopard print flats –¬†super cute and wearable, eight shoes.

Three Appeals : historical details, mystery, fantastical settings and creatures

Red Flags: Some Violence and Sexual Situations

If you liked this book here are some more you might like:

1) The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history. In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright – a hunt for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the Dracula myth. Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane – Katherine Howe

While clearing out her grandmother’s cottage for sale, Connie Goodwin finds a parchment inscribed with the name Deliverance Dane. And so begins the hunt to uncover the woman behind the name, a hunt that takes her back to Salem in 1692 . . . and the infamous witchcraft trials. But nothing is entirely as it seems and when Connie unearths the existence of Deliverance’s spell book, the Physick Book, the situation takes on a menacing edge as interested parties reveal their desperation to find this precious artefact at any cost. What secrets does the Physick Book contain? What magic is scrawled across its parchment pages? Connie must race to answer these questions – and reveal the truth about Salem’s women – before an ancient family curse once more fulfils its dark and devastating prophecy . . .(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
3) The Witch’s Daughter – Paula Brackston
In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate: the Warlock Gideon Masters. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers and making her immortal. She couldn’t have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he will be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.
In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life. Her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl named Tegan starts hanging around. Against her instincts, Elizabeth teaches Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories – and demons – long thought forgotten. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
Ok, on the next book – The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Jake is a werewolf – and not the nice, chest-baring, protecting innocent girls from vampire kind that we find in some other unnamed novel – but the kind who eats people. You’ve got your classic anti-hero in this book. Jake also likes to have indiscrimate sex especially with prostitutes, drinks and smokes all day long, all while trying to evade¬†his enemies including vampires and a mysterious organization that is killing werewolves. When he learns that HE is the last werewolf Jake comes to a conclusion – he is tired of life and ready to die. That’s right – he’s a suicidal werewolf. As he is counting down his last days, Jake has a chance meeting that changes his entire outlook. Will he be able to survive?
I totally dug this book! It really got me because I thought it brough some original ideas to a seemingly tired genre. First, it seems like most of these books are from a female point of view – usually victim but occassionally perpetrator. Jake is extremely male, with all the sex and not caring about personal hygiene and eating people and such. Occassionally he has a sensitive side that makes you like him, really you can’t help it. Secondly, it was written in journal form which I also found a little bit different from the usual supernatural genre. Lastly, he is suicidal…. and yes I know many of these things can be connected to Anne Rice but unlike her vampire, Jake is giving up because he feels bad about what he has done. Really he’s just tired of life. This book is thrilling but also explores what makes Jake the way he is. As so many of these books seem to do, it started to wane a little bit in the middle but then it got right back to the excitement. I also give this eight shoes – totally enjoyable.
Three Appeals : male perspective, fantasy, original story
Red Flags : Extreme sex, language and violence Рnot for children!!
If you liked the Last Werewolf, then try:
1) The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock
Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrificial blood he pours on his ‘prayer log.’¬† There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right.¬†(taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) The Pack by Jason Starr
When Simon Burns is fired from his job without warning, he takes on the role of stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old son. But his reluctance pushes his already strained marriage to the limit. In the nestled playgrounds of the Upper West Side, Simon harbors a simmering rage at his boss’s betrayal. Things take a turn when he meets a tight-knit trio of dads at the playground. They are different from other men Simon has met, stronger and more confident, more at ease with the darker side of life- and soon Simon is lured into their mix. But after a guys’ night out gets frighteningly out of hand, Simon feels himself sliding into a new nightmarish reality. As he experiences disturbing changes in his body and his perceptions, he starts to suspect that when the guys welcomed him to their “pack,” they were talking about much more than male bonding. And as he falls prey to his basest instincts, Simon must accept that werewolves exist if he is to turn the tides of his fortune…
Now for the last book review….The Radleys by Matt Haig. I would say that this is the most literary of the bunch so if you are not super into the fantasy/horror thing this might be your cup of tea.¬†The Radleys are your average suburban dysfunctional family. Peter is the local doctor, in love with his wife but considering an affair because his wife has stopped all his advances. Helen, unhappy housewife, who tries not to think about a fateful night in Paris with another man. Claire, their daughter, who has become a vegan in an attempt to get animals to like her and Rowan, their son, who is shunned by most of classmates. When Claire commits a passionate act of violence, it unleashes a tidal wave of activity as well as revealing the secret that Peter and Helen have been trying to keep for seventeen years. They are vampires.
I think this was my favorite from the three books.¬†It was written in many short chapters from the viewpoints of almost of every character in the book. You got a little taste of what life was like for each of the characters. It deals with a lot of different themes while still maintaining the horror aspect of vampirism. Haig explores nature vs. nurture, the family as a unit, the nature of love, etc…. I would probably call this the thinking person’s vampire book. I left this book feeling satisfied. I would give this book eight and a half shoes – I love it when you put down a book or watch a movie and you keep thinking about it for a couple hours afterward.
Three Appeals : Literary quality, fantastical elements, strong characters
Red Flags : Some sex, violence and language
If you like the Radleys try :
1) The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To by D.C. Pierson
When Darren Bennett meets Eric Lederer, there’s an instant connection. They share a love of drawing, the bottom rung on the cruel high school social ladder and a pathological fear of girls.¬† Then Eric reveals a secret: He doesn’t sleep. Ever.¬† When word leaks out about Eric’s condition, he and Darren find themselves on the run. Is it the government trying to tap into Eric’s mind, or something far darker?¬† It could be that not sleeping is only part of what Eric’s capable of, and the truth is both better and worse than they could ever imagine. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)
2) The Dead Father’s Club by Matt Haig
Eleven-year-old Philip Noble has a big problem. It all begins when his dad appears as a ghost at his own funeral and introduces Philip to the Dead Fathers Club. Philip learns the truth about ghosts: the only people who end up ghosts are MURDERED. So begins Philip’s quest to avenge his dad. Hilariously funny, it is full of poignant insights into the strange workings of the world seen through the eyes of a child.
Whew….I’ve done my work. Hope you enjoy these books!
I would also like to put out the call… if you have a question about what to read next leave a comment on this page. I would like to find a volunteer that I can find books for and post about it on the blog.
Trina B.

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