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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.

Book Review: Time Sniffers by C.S. Lakin

“Time is only a matter of perspective.”

I am a long-time fan of alternate world/world-within-world stories. My love of the genre probably started with Madeleine L’Engel’s amazing books (particularly A Wrinkle in Time/the Murray family series). I consumed her books as a kid, and have re-read them countless times throughout my life. There’s something so magically compelling to me about the idea of stepping sideways into another world, one that is like but not-like this one…

Time Sniffers, the first in a new series by C.S. Lakin, is redolent of – but not derivative to – Wrinkle, and that may be what really drew me into the story. I was intrigued by the description, and while it was very thorough in its explanation, after reading the blurb I expected a bit more of a time travel component – it is, after all, referred to as a “deep time-travel story”. I don’t consider this one time-travel in the traditional sense – it’s more of a time skip, with a lot more time spent in parallel/alternate worlds than in history (the backwards movement is never more than a couple of weeks). Still, that expectation aside, the story was very interesting and there were enough intermingled science, adventure, coming-of-age, and alternate world elements to keep me engaged and entertained. There was also a more traditional sci-fi element mixed in (in the form of the Sniffers and Searchers). I enjoyed this; it gave the story a fresh feeling that I quite liked.
Continue reading Book Review: Time Sniffers by C.S. Lakin

Book Review: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“All we ultimately have to do is believe. We focus our mind on one single point, one single purpose, and we push. We grasp. We manipulate wood and glass and iron. However, the greatest trick is the belief. Belief is what makes it real.”

This was a surprisingly delicate story, woven out of what seemed at first to be somewhat uneven fibers. It started out strong, then wobbled a bit and almost lost me… Fortunately, I persevered, because it turned out to be quite a lovely tale of love, revenge, and hope – but without falling into the sappy or hackneyed traps that all-too-often accompany those particular descriptors. There’s a Victorian sensibility to the tale, with its formal relationships and male-female interactions. There’s an undercurrent of magic/supernatural ability. There’s a thundering love story full of passionate, violent, over-brimming emotion and the towering highs and devastating lows that so often accompany that type of overwhelming feeling. There are tremendously well-developed characters, full of flaws and talents and endearing frailty. Each of those pieces offers promise, but it is the threads that tie them all together that set the story apart…
Continue reading Book Review: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Book(s) Review(s): The Delightful Board Books of Kristy Kurjan AND Author Q&A

The Books
Today I’d like to slip into Mommy-Mode a bit, and tell you about a few absolutely darling board books that I recently received for review. The books – Nap-a-Roo, The Many Ways to Say I Love You, and Dream Sweet Dreams – were all created by the very talented (and award winning) children’s author Kristy Kurjan and illustrator Tyler Parker. I know I don’t normally include book blurbs in my reviews, but there is only so much one can say about a board book written for toddlers, so I’m going to give you my general comments (which apply to all three books evenly) and share the descriptions that the author has written as well. The books are sweet, charming, and delightfully colorful. Through easy-to-follow rhymes, the books offer parents lovely ways to connect with their little ones on topics like nap time, the expression of love, and the importance of dreams. So grab a tiny wee person in your life, snuggle them in tight, and prepare to giggle and smile right along with them!
Continue reading Book(s) Review(s): The Delightful Board Books of Kristy Kurjan AND Author Q&A

Book Review: The Lemonade Stand Cookbook by Kathy Strahs – PLUS Bonus Recipes, How-Tos and Author Q&A

The Review
As a general rule, I do not review cookbooks (it is explicitly stated so on my review policy ). I don’t know how to evaluate a set of recipes/instructions if I haven’t tried them – how am I supposed to know if they are tasty or manageable or work the way they are supposed to if I don’t actually do/make/try them, after all? But I agreed to take a look at this one because I liked the concept – my step-daughter used to talk about having a lemonade stand all the time when she was younger, so I was intrigued to see what a book about lemonade stands would offer. I’m so glad I agreed to this one – it’s darling cute, full of colorful and enticing illustrations, tempting recipes, and a slew of very cute (and actually manageable looking) crafts to go along with them…

First off, let me be clear: I really like the idea of a lemonade stand. I like that it gets kids excited about making and selling something of their very own (or at least mostly their own). I like the way it harkens back to my own childhood and to movie-, television-, and book-versions of childhood. And I like that it fosters in kids a sense of ownership and responsibility – two qualities that I think are in a rather depressing free-fall in this era in which instant-gratification couch-time has replaced outdoor play-time for many kids (and adults). So I was a fan of the concept even before I saw the book. Continue reading Book Review: The Lemonade Stand Cookbook by Kathy Strahs – PLUS Bonus Recipes, How-Tos and Author Q&A

Interview with Laurel Davis Huber, Author of The Velveteen Daughter

Today I’m pleased to bring you an interview with the exceedingly talented Laurel Davis Huber, author of the fascinating biographical novel The Velveteen Daughter, about the lives of Margery and Pamela Bianco. I reviewed the book last week on its release date; you can find the review here.

What inspired you to choose Margery and Pamela’s lives for the focus of your first book?
As so often happens in creative endeavors, serendipity was the inspiration. I was actually working on another novel but making little progress, so naturally I found every way to procrastinate. One June morning in 2006 I was getting nowhere in my writing. For solace I reached for one of my favorite books from childhood, an ABC book written and illustrated by someone named Pamela Bianco. As always, the illustrations entranced me—and on a whim I Googled Pamela’s name to see if she had written more books. Almost immediately I discovered that she had been a famous child prodigy artist. Well, that’s interesting…. I thought, and kept Googling. I found tiny bits of her story, mainly pieces of her art. Eventually, I came across a startling piece of information: her mother was Margery Williams, author of The Velveteen Rabbit. Wow! At that point I was certain that I had no choice but to ditch Novel #1 and begin Novel #2, which became The Velveteen Daughter. Continue reading Interview with Laurel Davis Huber, Author of The Velveteen Daughter



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