#bookaday – Day 5: Doesn’t belong to me

A book that doesn’t belong to me? For a moment I thought I didn’t have one, but I do! My coworker just let me borrow a book that looks like it’ll be interesting. She’s a Social Studies teacher and she teaches a Holocaust based class for the eighth graders. I teach a literature circle unit on Holocaust themed books, and I expressed interest in quite a few. She loaned me this one and said it was intense but good. It’s on my shelf right now to read this summer, actually.

It’s not really a true story, but it seems fascinating. Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed “Hansel” and “Gretel.” They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called “witch” by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.

Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, Louise Murphy’s haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children. The True Story of Hansel and Gretal tells a resonant, riveting story.
I love retellings of fairy tales and myths, so this is intriguing. The idea that the “witch” isn’t evil like she always is in the tales paints a different picture.

#bookaday – Day 4: Least favorite book by favorite author

This is a hard one. I have books I don’t like, but when I like an author, I tend to like ALL of the things they write. It’s hard to say which one is the “least favorite,” especially if it’s a series, because that just seems…strange. So I’m sitting here trying to write this post, staring at my bookshelves and trying to ponder the answer to this one. And it’s hard.

I think I got it now. There was a romance series of eight books I read many years ago. The series deals with eight brothers, four sets of twins, and a prophecy surrounding them. I liked how each of the brothers was different and had different powers. I thought the women, for the most part, were really great for the men. I do remember being disappointed with the fourth book, The Song, by Jean Johnson. I just didn’t think the woman paired with that brother was right. I don’t know why. I didn’t care for her too much, though she was nice enough. I also was upset with what happened to him in regards to his voice, and I wasn’t satisfied with the resolution at all.

Maybe I should reread the series, though. It’s been awhile and I did truly enjoy the world building.

Plus it was the first ever romance book I read cover to cover without putting down. And the first romance series I actually finished. I ended up collecting all of the books as trade paperbacks because I liked them so much. And if that doesn’t say something, well…

#bookaday – Day 3: One with a blue cover

I remember having this conversation with a customer when I worked at Borders Express:

“Hi, I’m looking for a book.”

“What’s the name of it?”

“I don’t remember.”


“I don’t know. But the book has a blue cover, and it came out about six months ago.”

“Okay… do you remember anything else? Subject?”


So this post made me chuckle. And then I looked at my shelves and realized I have quite a few books with blue covers. But I chose this particular book because it’s pretty damn awesome.

My little sister, Cassandra, is a huge fan of Apolo Ohno. So am I. So when we found out he was going to be signing books in Connecticut, we HAD to go. We reserved two copies of the book, Zero Regrets, drove down to Madison, and stood in line. And it was glorious. For all of two seconds I stood before speed-skating superstar and Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Ohno. I was so starstruck I couldn’t even say anything other than “Thank you.” My poor sister. She was even worse off. I managed to get a blurry picture of her in front of me with him signing her book. And then we were whisked off out of the way by his staff in a very rude manner. Very sad that I barely even got to see his smile. Or realize just how TINY he is. But hey, I have a signed book by him, right?

We did get to see his tour bus and stand right next to it, though. That was pretty cool.

Just wish I had said something more profound than a simple “thank you.” But oh well. Zero regrets.

#bookaday – Day 2: Best bargain

I love bargain hunting. Especially when it comes to books. The Book Barn in Niantic, Connecticut is THE place to go for used books. Many of them are gently used, some not even read at all. Paperbacks are a dollar, hardcovers range from four dollars to a little more, depending on the subject and what not.

So one day I went down to the stores to browse (yes, stores, they have four locations within a mile of each other, that’s how big they’ve gotten), and I was looking for any first edition Anne Rice books I didn’t have.

Lucky for me, they had a copy of The Witching Hour in hardcover. It was a first edition, second printing. I thought I had a good copy, paid my four dollars for it, and after other browsing at the other locations, went home.

It ended up in storage for awhile, but I finally found it again and was excited. As I looking through the book I realized I had never really done much other than look at the copyright page.

So imagine my surprise when I realized the title page was signed. SIGNED AND DATED by Anne Rice.

I paid four dollars for it.

They usually put signed copies in the main store, usually behind glass, and they jack up the price. But… apparently they missed this one! So, BEST BARGAIN EVER for me!

#bookaday – Day 1: Favorite book from childhood

So fellow BSB author ‘Nathan Burgoine shared this fun picture on Facebook, and I decided to try it out. The goal for me is to update my blog once a day for the next month, and use these prompts to help me. And since it’s books, it shouldn’t be TOO hard, right? So, today I start with day one, since it’s June 1st.


Favorite book from childhood: The Baby Unicorn by Jean and Claudio Marzollo

The synopsis: Star, a baby unicorn and one of the last eight unicorns on earth, must find a way to help save her friends from the evil dragons.

I loved this book so much I constantly borrowed it from the library at St. Matthew’s School when I went there. Like, ALL the time. In fact, it rarely lasted back in the library for more than a few hours before I took it home again. And reread it. I loved the story of Star becoming this brave unicorn and how she saves her family and friends from the dragons and turns them around, too!

The illustrations are gorgeous, too. For a children’s book, they’re incredibly detailed. I loved to stare at the art and imagine I was in Star’s world.

The librarian noticed how much I took the book out over a several year span. In fact, the entire checkout card(s) was filled with dates from my borrowing the book. So, she did the only thing she could do. She gave me the book.

I still have this copy of the book. Even after moving out of my parents house and getting an apartment, I took the book with me. It’s on the white bookshelf in the living room. I’ll never get rid of that book.

So tell me, what’s your favorite book from childhood?

YA Recommendations hosted on Women and Words

The other day – Tuesday really – I was approached by Jove Belle over at Women and Words to for a blog post on young adult fiction for middle school age girls coming out.

Now, I’ve read a lot of LGBT fiction, but it’s actually hard to find age appropriate lesbian fiction for middle school! I mean, there are tons of books out there, but so many have mature themes that not all readers are ready for.

But, thankfully I do have some books that fit the bill, and I was happy to provide a short list of six books for the website. And now I’m on the hunt for more books! I’d love to do a follow up guest blog!

You can read my recommendations over at Women and Words.

Book Review: Slash and Burn by Valerie Bronwen

The Angels and Demons Literary Weekend brings former New Orleans resident Winter Lovelace back to town from her gig as writer-in-residence at a prestigious women’s college in upstate New York. Winter desperately needs a break from the book she is struggling to finish, and hopes that this weekend will inspire her and trigger her creativity.

 But while waiting for a friend in a hotel courtyard, a body lands at her feet, and Winter is dragged into a baffling mystery quite against her will. The victim is a notorious “m/m romance” author who is also a homophobe, and the list of people who wanted her dead is quite extensive. Winter herself is considered a suspect! 

 To make matters worse, Winter’s ex shows up to cover the story for a local news station…an ex Winter had hoped she’d never see again.

Move over Stephanie Plum! (Okay, I probably shouldn’t say that as I’ve never read a Janet Evanovich book, but whatever, still move over) There’s a new detective (sort of, accidentally) in town! In this first novel by Valerie Bronwen, Tracy Norris comes to life on the page as a teacher and mystery writer of a best-selling series about Laura Lassiter. She’s also a best-selling lesbian romance author on the side under the penname Winter Lovelace. When she goes to New Orleans for a writing convention, little does she know she’s about to have a body land at her feet. Literally.

I loved this story. I wish there was another one right now because I wouldn’t even be writing this review now, I’d just immediately dig into it. Tracy is an unforgettable narrator with a sharp sense of humor. I found myself quite frequently either laughing or biting my lip from being too loud. I may have even snorted a few times.

Anyone who has ever been deeply involved in a fandom needs to read this book. There’s always that ONE PERSON who thinks they are the god of that world, and in this book you have Antinous Renault. From the first page I wanted to punch her face, and reading more about her just made me think of all the people I’d encountered in my various fandoms over the years.

Who needs to read this book? Quite frankly, everyone. Like mystery? Read it. Like reading about authors and their struggles? Read it. Like lesbian authors? Read it. Like m/m romance? Read it. Have no idea how crazy some writers can be? Read it. Ever in a fandom with the BNF that everyone loathed? Read it.

I can’t wait for the next Valerie Bronwen book. You can bet it will be preordered the minute there is a release date!

This book can be ordered from Bold Stokes Books right here.

The Year In Review! Books

2013 was a great year for reading. Despite being busy at the beginning of the year at my new teaching job, and this fall starting grad school, I read a lot.

And by a lot I mean a RIDICULOUS amount of books. My goal on the Goodreads site was for 100 books. The same I’ve had for the last several years. Usually I beat the record by a few. Maybe a dozen at most. But this year I read 141 books.

Umm…when did I have time? Seriously? There was so much work I did, including an editing FRENZY of Meeting Chance in three days due to deadlines outside of the control of my editor.

So, let me take a look back, and take a trip down memory lane.

First book of the year: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Ahh! I remember this now! Wow, how long ago this was. I started the book on January 1 and finished it the next day. I started reading it because of the movie, and I was curious to see how the two matched up. I read the book first, and then received free tickets to see the preview of the film. Both excellent, even if different. What a great start to the year!

Last book of the year: Gardens Where No One Will See by T.C. Mill

An interesting story with a m/m romance at the center of the fantasy story. It was short and I think it would have been better as a longer novel, but still worth the read.

Adult books read: 53 (not including more mature manga)

Favorite: Letters from a Murder by John Matthews. I reviewed it here as well. I just really enjoyed it, despite there being no LGBT content, which is my typical fair. Either way, I can’t wait for a sequel because the characters are phenomenal.

Teen books read: 23 (although this might be a bit subjective, as some books might be considered younger readers)

Favorite: Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry. My students and I were waiting for this book since last year, and it did not disappoint. The last book in the Benny Imura series and it goes out with a bang. I was literally screaming and cheering at one point it was so crazy.

Children’s books read: 20

Favorite: 43 Old Cemetery Road: The Phantom of the Post Office by Kate Klise. I loved this book. As the fourth installment of the series, it was not only my favorite of the bunch, but my favorite children’s book of the year. Old and new characters, all of them great, and this book is all about writing letters and enjoying writing. Perfect!

Manga read: 44 (unless I miscounted by one)

Favorite: This is almost impossible, like the others. But I enjoyed every single Sailor Moon volume I read. I think of them, the best is Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon volume 12. Sure, it’s the last one, but it was great because I got to see some forms of the senshi that aren’t available in the anime. I also enjoyed seeing how things ended between Usagi and Mamoru, and the beginning of Chibi Usa. Ahh…my childhood.

Graphic Novels read: 5

Favorite: Even though there were only five, it was still really hard to choose. Each of them had their merit. Possibly Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. I enjoyed the art and the way the narrator “draws” her own story. I also know that my students read it quite a few times each.

LGBT books read (adult and teen): 50

Favorites: I had to split it between adults and teens, and even then it’s pretty impossible to choose. Most of them were excellent. For adults, I think I’d have to say For Want of a Fiend by Barbara Ann Wright. It’s the sequel to The Pyramid Waltz, and I was waiting for it since I finished the first book! A review can be found on my site here.

For teens, another tough decision, but I’m going with Night Creatures by Jeremy Jordan King. I also reviewed this book on my site. And like the last book, it’s a sequel to a series I love. Technically it’s more New Adult than teen, but whatever. It’s still a great book that follows my favorite supporting character from the first book as the main character in this one.

Nonfiction books read: 7

Favorite: This might sound surprising, but this one is actually tough for me. I enjoyed all the nonfiction books I read, even if there weren’t many, and they were all vastly different. That said, I think the one that stuck with me the longest is Compact Houses: 50 Creative Floor Plans for Well-Designed Small Homes. I know, it probably sounds strange, but I actually did enjoy the book and read it cover to cover. I was given a copy to review on NetGalley and I became obsessed with it. I even found what I hope will be my future home in that book, and for that reason I must obtain a physical copy. The book has beautiful homes, each one unique. Not only are they compact in size, but they have wonderful, green features to make the housing more affordable. I learned a lot about lighting and space-saving designs as well, and have decided that my future home will have a central atrium and built in bookshelves.


The Year In Review! Movies

I don’t go out to the movies very often, but when I do, I make sure it’s awesome.

This year, I actually only went twice. The first time was at the beginning of the year to see Warm Bodies. I had gotten free advanced preview tickets from a friend of mine and took my two sisters with me. I’d read the book first, and then saw the movie. While they were both different, I loved them both. The movie was fun and definitely geared towards teens whereas the book was for adults. I did prefer the end of the book more, though, but I guess it would have been hard to pull off on the big screen. At least, in a way that made sense. You can see my review of it here.



Every Thanksgiving my family eats dinner together and then goes to see a movie. This year, despite my wanting to see Thor, my family chose Frozen, and I’m glad they did. I’ve reviewed it here. I liked it so much I went and bought the soundtrack the next day and have all of the songs memorized already! My little sister even got me a Frozen poster for Christmas. Haha, grow up? Never! But it really is a great movie and a great way to end the year. Disney is going to have a hard time topping this one, at least in my books.


Hey everyone! You do NOT want to miss out on this at all. For some reason, maybe for Pride Month, Amazon is running a sale on a ton of Bold Strokes Books titles. Many of them are the incredible young adult novels that are NOT to be missed. I’ve included the titles and links in the following list so you can take advantage of the sale now while they’re only $.99 cents! YES. 99 CENTS. Can you even believe it?!

Mesmerized by David-Matthew Barnes: http://amzn.com/B007HBKZLO
In Stone by Jeremy Jordan King: http://amzn.com/B00A10E5LO
Father Knows Best by Lynda Sandoval? http://amzn.com/B0046REOMS
me@you.com by K.E. Payne: http://amzn.com/B0073YTUNE
Speaking Out edited by Steve Berman: http://amzn.com/B006F9FM44
365 Days by KE Payne: http://amzn.com/B005KCKYQS
Cursebusters! by Julie Smith: http://amzn.com/B007QPBRTK
Street Dreams by Tama Wise: http://amzn.com/B007FURBVO
ONLY $.99 CENTS GUYS! Get them while you can!