Book Review: Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Beyond Magenta CoverBook: Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, written and photographed by Susan Kuklin

Published February 2014 by Candlewick Press|182 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Non-Fiction/LGBT

Blog Graphic-What It's About

A groundbreaking work of LGBT literature takes an honest look at the life, love, and struggles of transgender teens.

Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Beyond Magenta is a really interesting book but it’s also a hard book to talk about.

I like that she talks a diverse group of teens, but most of them (5 out of the 6 interviewed) are from New York, and all 6 teens (particularly the 5 from NY) seem to have access to a lot of services and support.  The 5 from New York are in a section called Spectrum, while the last story is in a section Lifeline.  And even the teen featured in that narrative seemed to have a good support system and quite a few resources available to him.

Kuklin does mention at the end of the book that she was in touch with a medical center in New York City, which does explain why it’s heavily focused on NY teens.  She also talks about wanting the book to spread its wings and have another part of the country represented.  Unfortunately, it makes the one non-NY story feel like an afterthought that’s there just for representation of a different part of the country.

While there are a wide range of experiences, I felt like it lacked stories from teens who don’t have the access to services/resources these kids do.  The teens we see in Beyond Magenta do have varying degrees of familial support, and I felt for all of the teens, especially the teens who have parents who don’t seem to bother trying to understand their children, and denied/dismissed their experience and what they were saying.

Each teen has a very unique story, and it was heartbreaking at times to see what they were going through.  There are times where you see gender stereotypes, particularly in the first couple of stories, which I think is something that will frustrate a lot of people (especially if reviews are any indication) but I just took it as their experience and I really felt like Kuklin really tried to keep their story as they told it to her.  I will say that it felt very much like they were telling me a story, and that aspect of the writing would make this a particularly good book for an audio format.

Overall, though, there was something about the organization and format that seemed a little weird.  I respect that Kuklin interviewed and photographed the teens, and worked with them to tell their story, but 5 NY stories in one section (Spectrum) and the lone non-NY story in a section called Lifeline made no sense to me.  I don’t understand why you’d need two different sections, and it just really made the one story in Lifeline feel like an afterthought.


There isn’t any particular order to the stories- not that they need to be in any particular order, but something about the book felt a little disorganized.  And while it is a quick read, I’m not completely happy with the format.  It felt like a random assortment of stories with nothing to connect them together- other than all 6 stories being about a transgender teen.

There were random comments from Kuklin, which felt out of place and disrupted the flow of the story.  They should have been left in some cases, and in other places, an introduction to the story would have been helpful, and a place where some of her comments could have been better served.

There is an author’s note at the end of the book, which I think would have been more insightful/better placed at the beginning of the book so that you had a much better idea of how the project changed for Kuklin.  There are also resources at the end of the book, and Kuklin also included a list of books (non-fiction and fiction) and movies.  I was disappointed that there only a couple of books in the fiction list, both of which were published over 10 years ago, just because something a little more recent (and more than 2 books) would have been nice.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

I’m not sure what to rate Beyond Magenta.  I think the organization of the book could have been better, and while there is a wide range of experiences in the book, I also think the representation of other parts of the country could have been better, and less like an afterthought.  I still like reading about their experiences, and it would be a great book to have in any classroom or library.

As for an actual rating, I’m going to give Beyond Magenta 3 stars.

ARC Book Review Round-Up: The Secrets Of Yashire and A Thousand Nights

Book Review Round-Up is a very random feature where I talk about several of the books I’ve read.

Today is an advanced reader copy edition of the book review round-up!  In the interest of full disclosure, I received both books as an electronic advanced reader copy (e-ARC) from in exchange for a fair and honest review.

PrintBook #1: The Secrets Of Yashire by Diamante Lavendar

Published August 26 2015 by Smashwords|157 pages

Series: None as of now, but it seems like there will be a second book

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: The Secrets of Yashire: Emerging From the Shadows is a young adult fantasy adventure that occurs within the framework of a young girl’s subconscious mind. The main character, Brianna, finds herself thrown into a world called Yashire where she is forced to deal with circumstances that are threatening Yashire’s existence. Against her will, she is sent on a journey to restore unconditional love back to the land while also contending with the evil force in the land, Zolan.

Brianna is sent on her mission by Libban, Keeper of the Land. Along the way, Brianna travels with the mystical tiger, Angelos; a huge, whitish-tan tiger with thick black stripes who sings only the purest songs of love, and the wondrous little one-eyed bird named Abiba. During the journey, Brianna is also preparing to meet her soulmate—the one she longs to be with and the one who will bring complete healing back into her life.

Together they travel through fantastic lands filled with magical creatures that could only exist in the wildest of imaginations. Through her treacherous brushes with danger and heartwarming experiences of love and acceptance, Brianna discovers many things. It is here, amidst the powers and phantasms of the mind that Brianna receives life lessons and virtues to help her. Will one of her greatest triumphs be achieved as she learns to believe in herself? For only then can she truly see all of the wondrous things that life has to offer.

What I Thought: When I saw The Secrets Of Yashire on netgalley, I was really intrigued with it.  I really like the overall premise of the book, but unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.

Certain things were repetitive.  There were several times where you’d read something, and a paragraph or two later, you’d see the same thing almost verbatim.

It does move at a really slow pace, and sometimes I wished that there was some action in it, because it seemed to drag on.  There was something weird about how she reacted to everything- sometimes she seemed disinterested and other times everything was awesome.  I think she was 16 or 17 and it’s labeled as YA , but she seemed a lot younger than she was supposed to do, and The Secrets Of Yashire would be better suited for a middle grade audience, I think.

I don’t know if it’s necessarily bad, but I do think it could use some work.  Something about it reminded me of one of my NaNoWrimo drafts.  I am hesitant to say it’s bad, because I do think it has a lot of potential.  A story told in the subconscious of a girl is such a cool idea, and the world seems a little bit different.  I liked that patience and perseverance are really important, but everything as a whole didn’t come together for me.

My Rating: 1 star.  I didn’t like The Secrets Of Yashire, and it’s not my thing, but if experimental fantasy is your thing, this might be the book for you.

A Thousand Nights CoverBook #2: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

Published October 6 2015 by Disney Hyperion|306 pages

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

What I Thought: I was really excited about A Thousand Nights, and it was one of the books I was looking forward to reading this year.  I ended up not liking it, and I feel weird about that because it seemed like a cool book.

So, I have no idea what the main character’s name is.  I don’t think we learn it at any point in the book, and if we do, it clearly didn’t make an impression.  Really, she could have been anyone, because I feel like we learned nothing about her.  The only character name I can actually remember is Lo-Melkhiin…I think he might be the only character who actually has a name because everyone is named in relation to the MC.  Her sister  is referred to as her sister, Lo-Melkhiin’s mom is named Lo-Melkhiin’s mother, and so on.  It’s hard to remember anyone when they have no names and nothing else to distinguish them from all of the other characters.

It seemed like there would be more romance, at least from the summary, so I was surprised that there wasn’t really any romance there.  I did like that the MC had growing power, leading her to be the only one who can defeat the king. I do wish the magic between them was explained more because it seemed really random.  There does seem to be a lot of folklore, and from what I’ve heard, it’s based on 1001 Arabian Nights.  Which I haven’t read, and may be why it felt like something was missing.  Or maybe it’s just me, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve read 1001 Arabian Nights.

Something about this book made me think of Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge- I think there’s something about the world and how the story is told that would make it a good read-alike for Cruel Beauty fans.

My Rating: 2 stars.  Mostly because I just didn’t care.  A Thousand Nights isn’t for me, but I can see why people would like it- the writing was beautiful but not enough to get my interest.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Recently Quit

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

Blog Graphic- Top Ten Tuesday

Ten Books I (Sort of) Recently Quit

One of the things that I really started doing after starting the blog was either not finishing books I wasn’t into or putting them aside to finish at some other point.  There are all sorts of reasons why, but I thought it would be fun to split the list between books I stopped reading and will never pick up again, and books I stopped reading that I do want to finish.

Books I Temporarily Quit:

  1. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier.  I tried listening to it back in February, but I was so stressed and unable to focus on anything that I zoned out for massive chunks of the book.  I really liked the parts I actually remember, so I’m hoping to pick it up again soon.
  2. Days Of Blood And Starlight by Laini Taylor.  I’ve tried reading it a few times, and also had to put it down because I wasn’t in the mood for it.  I want to finish it, though, but I’m really leaning towards the audio, especially since it’s narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Khristine Hvam.
  3. The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives Of The Daughters Of Nicholas And Alexandra by Helen Rappaport.  I can’t remember why I put it down in the first place, but I really need to pick it up.
  4. By The Light Of My Father’s Smile by Alice Walker.  I really liked it, but I was just reading it at the wrong time, so I put it aside for another time.
  5. Winter King: Henry VII And The Dawn Of Tudor England by Thomas Penn.  I love Tudor-era England and picked up this one because I didn’t know much about the events leading up to that point.  I can’t remember why I put it down, but one day, I will go back to it.

Books I Permanently Quit:

  1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.  Recently, I’ve decided I needed to read more graphic novels, and since this is one of the few I know about, I thought I’d pick it up.  Unfortunately, I was bored out of my mind reading it and gave up a quarter of the way through, but just based on that, I can see why people love it so much.
  2. Confessions Of The Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford.  I loved How To Say Goodbye In Robot, and thought I’d give this one a try.  The sisters were spoiled, and I could care less about what happened to them, or what they did to get cut out of their grandma’s will.
  3. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.  I know people love it, but I had a hard time with it.  Mostly because of the verse.  It made each chapter feel like a random, disjointed memory instead of something more cohesive.
  4. The Grace Of Kings by Ken Liu.  I wanted to like it, and it does seem like a really interesting, epic fantasy.  It was a little too detailed for me, and I couldn’t stay interested long enough to keep reading.
  5. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith.  The Alex Crow seemed really intriguing, but I didn’t care about the one expedition, I hated the relationship between the two brothers, and overall, the story made no sense to me.  At all.

Book Review: Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 by David Petersen

Mouse Guard Winter 1152 CoverBook: Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 by David Petersen

Published July 2009 by Archaia Studios Press|192 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Mouse Guard #2

Genre: Graphic Novel

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In the Winter of 1152, the Guard face a food and supply shortage threatening the lives of many through a cold and icy season. Saxon, Kenzie, Lieam, and Sadie, led by Celanawe, traverse the snow-blanketed territories acting as diplomats to improve relations between the mouse cities and the Guard. This is a winter not every Guard may survive. Collects the second Eisner-Award winning Mouse Guard series with an all-new epilogue and bonus content.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Have you read Mouse Guard?  Because if you haven’t, you really, really need to!  Graphic novels of the non-manga variety are books I don’t read (except for Mouse Guard and my failed attempt at reading Fun Home), but I can’t help but love Mouse Guard.

Winter 1152 is the 2nd book, and it’s such a hard winter for these warrior mice.  I felt for them, trying to survive in this world, and I love these very honorable mice.  There is something very adorable about the mouse cities, and the mice, and I just love it.

I loved the story, and seeing the bats and the weasel underworld and the treachery.  There were songs scattered throughout the book which was nice to see, because we get to see their songs, but I wasn’t completely enthused about it either.

Something I really like about Mouse Guard is how great it is for all ages.  The library had it shelved in the children’s section, which I think is pretty awesome.  But it’s also awesome how great of a story it is for everyone!

I really liked the Winter setting for this book and it really went well with the story- it really makes what is going on feel really important.  You can really feel the harshness and bleakness of a very snowy winter.  Petersen captured winter so well!

And I just love the artwork.  I’m really used to black-and-white for manga, and I’m always impressed with that, but something about the color really adds to the story.  I can’t imagine it being drawn in black-and-white, and I feel like the artwork is even better than the artwork in Fall 1152 (and I really loved the artwork in Fall 1152).

The bonus content, with maps and extra information about the different uniforms and jobs these mice have really add to the mythology/world-building of the Mouse Guard universe.  It really makes me feel like there’s a lot more story to tell in this world.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

5 stars.  Winter 1152 is such a great continuation of Fall 1152, and I love the art and the story.

Audio Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian CoverBook: The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by R.C. Bray

Published February 2014 by Brilliance Audio|10 hours, 59 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive, and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills, and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit, he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

The Martian is such a great book!  I know I’m not the first person to gush about it, but if you haven’t read it yet, you really need to.  Especially with the movie out!

I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, and there is definitely a lot of math and science in The Martian.  But it wasn’t annoying and all of the detail makes sense.  It was explained really well, and I thought it was pretty easy to understand.  Also: pirate ninjas as a unit of measurement.  Really.

I was really glad I went with the audio book. because something about The Martian works really well as an audio book.  Maybe it’s because a good chunk of it is essentially Watney’s diary, with chapters of what’s going on with NASA.

I once heard The Martian described as MacGyver in space, which, with my EXTREMELY limited knowledge of MacGyver, is fairly accurate.  What Watney had to do to survive is astounding.  There were points where I really wanted him to make it, but there were also points were if he didn’t survive, I would have been okay with that.  Oddly enough, I would have been okay with any ending, because really, anything could have happened and been plausible. And especially towards the end, there were a couple days where I literally wanted to drive around aimlessly just so I could keep listening to see what would happen.  Which would have been a problem considering the fact that I had groceries in the car that needed refrigeration.

There were points where I couldn’t help but laugh (pirate ninjas!), and at least Mark Watney had a great sense of humor throughout the entire book.  I really liked Bray, who sounded like the perfect Mark Watney.  I don’t know that I’d seek out Bray as a narrator, but if there was a book I wanted to listen to, and he narrated it, I wouldn’t be opposed to it.  Also: I don’t know who else I’d cast as Mark Watney for the movie, but after having listened to the book, I think Matt Damon is a great choice for him.  I really need to see The Martian, especially given how much I’ve mentioned it already.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  It wasn’t quite a 5 star read for me, but it was pretty close!  The audio book is particularly great, and I really recommend it.

Nail Polish Talk: September 2015

Nail Polish Talk is a once-a-month feature where I talk about all things nail polish!

Nail Polish Project- Sept 2015 Collage

This month, I wore Isabela, Ali, Monaco, and Delores, all from Julep.  I just realized this September was the month of blue (and some violet).  I didn’t even plan that, I just randomly picked colors and they just happened to be on the blue spectrum.

The Week Of September 6: Isabela

I really liked Isabela!  It really reminded me of Linden, in that I was reminded of water the entire week.  There is a similarity in color, but Isabela is a little bit lighter, and it could be interesting to somehow combine them.  It’s such a pretty blue!  I can’t wait to wear it again.

The Week Of September 13: Ali

I got Ali in a mystery box one month, and I was initially unsure about it, because I don’t normally go for soft colors like Ali.  Since it was a mystery box, though, I decided to just go with it.  I was glad I had it, because that week, I really wanted something soft.  It was semi-matte, so a top coat is great if you want a little more shine.  It was a little streaky, but two coats even that out, so it wasn’t a big deal.

I liked it a lot more than I thought I would, and the color even reminded me of the 1950’s for some reason. It’s a great color for a ’50’s dinner or appliances, and the best description I can come up with is a soft minty blue.

It also took a long time to dry, and I ended up with a few smudges.  I also noticed some bubbles the next day.  I’m not sure if it’s the polish, the person applying the polish or if it was the fact that it was really hot and I didn’t give each coat enough time to dry. It could be some combination of those things, and it makes me sort of hesitant to wear it again, but I also want to give it another try before I completely give up on it.

The Week Of September 20: Monaco

Monaco is one of my favorites, and it’s one of the few that I would actually wear frequently!  It’s a pretty blue, and I think gold glitter would make it even prettier.  It’s pretty on it’s own of course, but I am a fan of glitter, and glitter would be a nice contrast for this polish.

It took a lot longer to dry than I remembered, and like Ali, I ended up with a few smudges.  It was in the 90’s on the day I did my nails, and even with 30 minutes between each coat, I still had to re-do one hand.

The Week Of September 27: Delores

Delores is one of the colors I got in the September Maven box, and it seemed like the right color for this week! It’s a lot more matte than I thought it would be, but I even googled linear holographic, and I’m still not sure what that means, so maybe I’m just really confused as to what a linear holographic nail polish is.  There is shimmer in it, but it’s not shimmery.  There’s something about the linear holographic polish seemed familiar, and I couldn’t figure out why.  It was a while before I realized that it reminded me of liquid sand, minus the sand part.  Seriously, it’s liquid sand minus the texture.

Anyway, it is a pretty color, and the application was AMAZING.  I am not kidding when I say this bottle of nail polish has the best application of any bottle of nail polish I have ever used, and it dried really fast!  It was dry within seconds and I couldn’t see a single smudge, which was nice after the last couple of weeks.  The application was so awesome I needed one coat- no 2nd coat was needed because it gives such great coverage.

September Maven Box/Looking Ahead At October’s Box

September’s box was Alison, Delores and Cassandra.  I got Paula as an add-on, which is great because I’ve wanted it for a while.  And Julep is their new signature creme, and was randomly included in maven boxes this month.

Maven- Sept 2015

Alison, which is the almond color, and Cassandra, which is the red, are colors I don’t pick for myself, but for some reason, I really wanted colors that I don’t normally go for.  Cassandra would be great for October or November (but especially October).  Alison is the same soft focus as Ali, which I talked about earlier, and now I’m hesitant to wear Alison because what if it has the same issues as Ali?  I’ll still wear it (at least once) and there’s no point in worrying until I actually wear it to see.

I love Delores (as noted above), and it’s such a pretty purple.  Julep is also purple, which is great because purple is my favorite color.  Oddly enough, I don’t wear a lot of purple polish, but I am glad I have a chance to wear it! I’ve also had my eye on Paula, and it looks like such a pretty blue!  I have the feeling it is going to be a favorite, and I just want to stare at the bottle all the time.

As for October’s box, I did skip it, which probably isn’t a surprise at this point in the year, given I’ve probably skipped more boxes than I got, but I really miss getting them, because it’s a good piece of mail, you know?  Ulta did open up a store near my house, so maybe I’ll check it out and see what sort of nail polish they have. Between Julep, Sephora, Ulta and a Sally’s Beauty Supply that opened up near me recently, it’ll be hard to not buy a lot more nail polish.

Happy October!

Currently Obsessed With: September 2015

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month (but sometimes more) feature where I talk about my favorite things and some of the cool stuff that’s been going on.

Currently Obsessed With

I have to admit that September was really boring!  Honestly, though, it’s been so hot that all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing except browse Etsy and Pinterest with NCIS on in the background.  Now that it’s October…holy crap, it’s October!  That means NaNoWriMo is just weeks away…and the outline I said I was going to do almost a year hasn’t really happened.  I’ve read through it, and I have little chapter summary things for about half the chapters.  I’ll do what I can, and just go from there.  I’ll probably talk a little more about what I’m writing later on in the month. Once I have a better idea of what’s going on and once I’ve actually put some effort into it.


Once again, I haven’t been crocheting a lot.  Which means I’m still working on that dishcloth.  I did start a washcloth, since I have a somewhat decent amount of cotton yarn I’m trying to use up, but I’ve had to frog it 2 or 3 times. Row 5 is give me some major issues.  Maybe I need to do it at home?

I do want to make this crochet headphone hat for part of my Halloween costume, since it’s the cheaper option of trying to find some of the old-school headphones.  I think this Unicorn hat might be my official NaNoWriMo hat this year.  I’ll have to learn the magic circle, but it’s about time I learned it anyway, since I tend to stay away from projects that only have the magic circle as an option.  It could be fun to crochet a fun hat every year for NaNo- last year I wore the Princess Anna hat, and while I could wear again, I really like that Unicorn hat.  I definitely need to look through my stash to see what yarn I have and what yarn I might need to get.  I’m positive that I have most of the yarn I’ll need, so I won’t need to buy that much if I do need to buy any.

I’m also thinking of doing some sort of yearly crochet project.  I did the post-a-day project a few years ago, and this is a weekly nail polish project, and the idea of doing something crochet-related would be really cool.  I’m not sure if I wanted to go with doing something daily, which is a lot of pressure, and will be more challenging during certain times of the year, so I’m sort of hesitant about that.  I do like the idea of weekly, or maybe something everything month.  At any rate, I do have a few possibilities, and I have plenty of time to figure out the details.


I didn’t do a lot of book buying this month- just Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone and my audible pick. This month, though, there are some books I need to have.  Notably, the Night Vale book, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa.  And next month is Winter!

Since I mentioned Audible, I chose The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh as my book.  I’ve wanted to read it for a while, and I specifically went with the audio because of the narrator.  I loved Delawari’s narration in The Secret Sky, to the point where I added a book or two to my TBR because she narrates it.

I’m currently getting one book a month, but I’m strongly considering upgrading to two-book-a-month plan since I’ve been listening to quite a few audio books lately.


I am so glad that fall t.v. is coming back!  Granted, almost half of what I watch is on Thursdays…which makes me very glad I have Hulu.  Or maybe I need to drop some shows, but I don’t see that happening.

I’m still watching NCIS, and I watched a few episodes of The Walking Dead, but I haven’t gone back to it.  I might but I haven’t really thought about it.

Around The Internet:

You can see all of the Around The Internet things over on pinterest!

The next time I need a color scheme for something, I’m going right to Design Seeds.  I’ve been a fan for a while.

I am in love with this lamp.

The Harry Potter Alliance does some great work.  Donating is worth every cent if it means they can keep up the awesome work.  Three words: Granger-Lovegood shirts.

Ask Polly: Why Is Everyone Succeeding Except Me really hit home.

I have been eternally grateful for this cookbook, since the crock-pot means I don’t have to turn on the oven or stand over the stove in 90 degree weather.  I really need more crock-pot cookbooks.

Book Riot has a couple of especially awesome posts: the hysterical book contacts post and the awesome heart-warming post about getting Some Girls Are to teens.

Libraries are doing awesome things.

Read The World is one of my new favorite blogs.  I really need to spend some more time looking through their recommendations.  Food52 and The Kitchn are two new food blog favorites.


I feel like I’ve sort of ignored this part of my monthly recap posts this year, and right now, I’m not sure if I want to keep it going.  I don’t know if it’s just been non-music year, and I know over the last month, I haven’t been in a big podcast mood.  Hopefully, that will change (and soon!) but until then, this may be a sporadic thing.

Today, I am going to share some of my favorite audio book narrators, since I’ve been listening to a few audio books.

  • Khristine Hvam and Kevin Collins, who have narrated the Beautiful Creatures and Dangerous Creatures series. I’ve added some books narrated by Hvam to my wishlist, even though there are quite a few that I already have copies of because she narrates.  I haven’t looked at anything else Collins has narrated, but I really need to do that.
  • Kyla Garcia, who narrated Joyride by Anna Banks.  I haven’t looked at other books she’s narrated yet, but I like her a lot, and I will listen to anything that she narrates.
  • Ariana Delawari, who narrated part of The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi.  I’ve added books to my TBR because she narrates it.
  • Jessica Lawshe, who narrated A World Away by Nancy Grossman.  It’s too bad I can only find one other book narrated by her, because she is probably my favorite narrator to this point.

I was looking through my audio book shelf on goodreads recently, and realized I don’t even remember the narration or narrator for most of them.  There were a few I vaguely remembered liking, especially after looking at some of the books, but it’s amazing how few really stand out.  I think it’s safe to say that some of the ones that do stand out have been books I’ve listened to recently, so maybe they are on my mind at the moment.

That’s all for today, Happy Thursday!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books To Read If You Like…

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

Blog Graphic- Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Books To Read If You Like…

I really had to think about this one!  I thought it would be fun (and maybe a little easier) to come up with 10 different books/authors, because I had a few pairings that immediately came to mind when I saw the topic!  And it’s also fun to give under-the-radar recommendations for popular/well-known books and authors!

  1. If You Like Eleanor And Park by Rainbow Rowell, read like How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford.  How To Say Goodbye In Robot is everything I wanted Eleanor And Park to be, but I think there’s a similar feel to both books.
  2. If you like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, you will like Some Boys Are by Patty Blount.  Both deal with the same topic (rape), but Some Boys is much more about rape culture than Speak is.  Some Boys is a really good read-alike, though.
  3. If you like Toni Morrison, read Nnedi Okorafor.  I’ve only read a couple of Okorafor’s books, while I’ve read a few of Morrison’s books.  But I also think they have very distinct voices and stories they want to tell, which is why I think Okorafor is a good read-alike for Morrison.
  4. If you like Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, read Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince.  Even though Tiny Pretty Things is fiction, and Taking Flight is a memoir, both highlight the world of ballet, particularly if you aren’t white.
  5. If you like The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, read Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah.  Amal’s voice really reminded me of Mia’s, which makes it a great book for fans of the princess diaries.
  6. If you like Shrek, read The School For Good And Evil by Soman Chainani.  I know Shrek is a movie, but The School For Good And Evil is such a good read-alike for it that I couldn’t help but include it.
  7. If you like Downtown Abbey, read Manor Of Secrets by Katherine Longshore.  There may be better read-alikes out there, but I was really reminded of Downtown Abbey when reading it.
  8. If you like anything by Ellen Hopkins (particularly Identical), read Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick.  I can’t place why Drowning Instinct is such a good read-alike for Hopkins, but I think it’s the way they handle really dark stuff.  There’s also the fact that Drowning Instinct and anything Hopkins writes translate well to audio book (for me).
  9. If you like Half-Blood by Jennifer Armentrout or Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, read Whirl by Emma Raveling.  There is something about these three books that remind me of the others- I think it’s the main characters who are similar to me.
  10. If you like An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, read Ink And Bone by Rachel Caine.  There is something about these two worlds and how much control the Empire (for Ember) and the Library (for Ink And Bone) have that make them a great pairing.

ARC Book Review: When We Were

When We Were CoverBook: When We Were by Alexandra Diaz

Expected Publication is September 29, 2015 by The Studio|Expected Number Of Pages: 247 pages

Where I Got It: I received a digital advanced copy from, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way. Promise!

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Previously published as OF ALL THE STUPID THINGS, this coming of age novel is a 2011 ALA Rainbow List Book and a 2011 New Mexico Book Award Finalist.

No one messes with Whitney Blaire or her friends, which is why she can’t help but let it slip that someone spotted Tara’s boyfriend making out with one of the guy cheerleaders.

Even after spending hours training for her marathon, down-to-earth Tara can’t outrun the rumors about the boyfriend she thought was perfect.

Pinkie, the rock and “Big Sister” of their inseparable group, just wants things to stay exactly the way they are…

…but that’s not possible when new-girl Riley arrives in school and changes everything.

Suddenly Tara starts to feel things she’s never felt before—for anyone—while Whitney Blaire tries to convince her that this new girl is Trouble. Meanwhile, Pinkie’s world begins to crumble as she begins to suspect that the friends she depends on are not the girls she thought she knew. Can friendship survive when all the rules are broken?

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

When We Were seemed really interesting, and yet, I found myself thinking that it was just okay.  I really did want to like it more than I did.

I think the biggest reason why When We Were was just okay was that I felt like it wasn’t as developed as it could have been.

Like Tara, Pinkie and Whitney Blaire.  I get the girls are best friends, but they’re all so different that it was a little hard to see why they were such close friends.  They were all pretty stereotypical- Tara’s the athlete, Pinkie is the academic/glue of the group who has no mother, and Whitney Blaire is the mean girl who acts that way because her parents are never there.  There is mention that they have a history together, but unfortunately, we don’t see that history, and I think having a little bit of history would have made their friendship a little more realistic and believable.

I feel like each girl was somewhat superficial, and I wonder if it’s because we see each chapters from all three girls. We don’t really get enough time with each one for them to fully develop.  Which brings me to Riley.  I think, of all the characters, Riley is probably the most interesting.  She had a little bit more to her than the other characters did, and I wish we saw more of her.  I didn’t get Whitney Blaire’s instant dislike of her, which was for no apparent reason. Later on, I could understand her dislike of Riley, because Whitney Blaire has some abandonment issues, and feels threatened by how close Riley and Tara become.  Initially, though?  There’s no reason for it.

As much as I liked Riley and wanted to see more of her, I also felt like her relationship with Tara was sort of random and out of nowhere.  I think, because only a third of the book is from Tara’s perspective, we don’t see Tara really explore her feelings for Riley- all of a sudden, they’re making out.  The reactions from Whitney Blaire and Pinkie (especially Pinkie) were weird and frustrating.

I really need to back-track for a second- there are rumours that Tara’s boyfriend Brent was seen making out with one of the guy cheerleaders, which leads to Tara breaking up with him, and Brent denying it.  This is then ignored for most of the book, until we learn that it wasn’t actually true. Really, for the lack of attention it received, and the way it was dropped, she could have broken up with up with him for any reason.  I think I was just expecting it to be more of a thing.

Back to Whitney Blaire and Pinkie.  I get Whitney Blaire thinks Tara is believing Riley over her, but saying that Riley and Tara are dating simply because Tara believes Riley over Whitney Blaire was weird, confusing and out of nowhere.  It made no sense to me.  I felt that way with Pinkie, a little, but with Pinkie, it was more frustrating than anything else.  Pinkie is convinced that Tara can’t be interested in girls because she dated Brent and because she’s too pretty.  In particular, when Pinkie says that she has no problem with gay people but doesn’t want them near her…I was horrified by that, especially from someone who seems caring.  Honestly, it sounds more like a Whitney Blaire comment than a Pinkie comment, at least from what we see in the book, and it’s just so cruel and hard to believe that she would say it, because until that point, she’s the last person I’d expect it from.  But their reaction to it was overall believable, in the sense that I can actually see people reacting that way.

Her mom was pretty awesome, though, in how she reacted.  Yes, the mom was surprised, but she was so accepting of Tara.  Even though it seems like it would be an adjustment for her, Tara’s happiness is so important to her, and I loved that.

Even though there are a lot of things I didn’t like or thought were weird (with one or two things I did like), When We Were did keep me intrigued, and I really wanted to see what would happen with the characters.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  When We Were isn’t my cup of tea, but something about it did keep me interested enough to see what would happen.

Book Review Round-Up: Wolf’s Rain, Chronicles Of The Cursed Sword And Bizenghast

Book Review Round-Up is a feature I do randomly when I have 2 or 3 books I want to review in one post.  Today is another manga round-up!

Wolf's Rain CoverManga #1: Wolf’s Rain, Volume 1 by Bones and Keiko Nobumoto (Story) & Toshitsugu Iida (Art)

Published November 2004 by Viz Media|184 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed it from the library

Series: Wolf’s Rain Volume 1

What It’s About: In a post-apocalyptic future, wolves are supposedly extinct creatures who held some sort of mythical powers. Unknown to most human, wolves still do exist, and they walk next to them, disguising themselves as humans as their kind slowly dies out. However, some, like Kiba, are answering to their primal instinct to search out the flowers of the moon, which are supposed to someday lead them to paradise.

What I Thought: I thought Wolf’s Rain was a little weird.  The story seemed interesting enough, but I also felt like I was missing something.  It, apparently, is an anime, and the manga is based on it.  I wonder if that’s why I have these feelings of missing something.  You definitely have to take the world as it is, because you don’t really get the how’s or why’s- it just is.  I really like the the story, and the art is okay.  It was a little blurry, particularly at the beginning, and I’m not sure if the copy I have is just weird, or if, for whatever reason, that part is just blurry.  It is kind of entertaining, and the characters did seem to have an interesting relationship, but I don’t think I’m invested in the story or characters enough to read the second volume.  As a story, why they were trying to find paradise didn’t make a lot of sense to me, which is a little disappointing because I thought the story itself was a really interesting idea.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It was okay for me.  I thought the artwork was fine, and while the overall idea was really interesting, I found it a little confusing.

Chronicles Of The Cursed Sword CoverManga #2: Chronicles Of The Cursed Sword, Volume 1 by Yuy Beop-Rying (Story) & Oarj Hui-Jin (art)

Published July 2003 by TokyoPop|176 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed it from the library

Series: Chronicles Of The Cursed Sword Volume 1

What It’s About (from the cover): In an era of warring states, warlords become kings, dynasties crumble, and heroes can rise from the most unlikely places. Rey Yan and his sister Syao Lin are orphans, raised by a wise master in ways of magic and combat. While war escalated around them, they managed to stay free of its politics and allegiances–that is until they met Jaryoon, King of Hahyun. This pacifist king is the target of assassins both mortal and inhuman, and when demons attack, he’ll need the power of Rey and his PaSa sword in order to stay alive. The last thing Rey wants to do is save the life of a politician, but the chance to slay demons to feed his cursed sword is just too great to pass up. Can these strangers with nothing in common become allies in order to stop a pact between demons and evil men that threatens their entire country?

What I Thought: Like Wolf’s Rain, I thought the overall idea of the story was interesting (but not as interesting as Wolf’s Rain) and a little confusing.  I felt like I was missing something, and while the fight scenes were pretty cool, there was something about it that felt a little…lackluster?  The story just didn’t catch my interest, and I felt like we didn’t get the whole story.  I mean, I know it’s the first volume and all, but I feel like I learned more about the characters reading the summary than I did reading this volume.  I did like the art, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to keep going.

My Rating: 2 stars.  I liked the artwork, but the story was okay.

Bizenghast CoverManga #3: Bizenghast, Volume 1 by M. Alice LeGrow

Published August 2005 by Tokypop|184 pages

Where I Got: I borrowed it from the library

Series: Bizenghast, Volume 1

What It’s About: Not every lost soul is a lost cause.

When a young girl moves to the forgotten town of Bizenghast, she uncovers a terrifying collection of lost souls that leads her to the brink of insanity. One thing becomes painfully clear: The residents of Bizenghast are just dying to come home.

A finalist in TOKYOPOP’s Rising Stars of Manga competition, Marty Legrow has crafted an unforgettable Gothic drama that will leave readers haunted long after the last page is turned.

What I Thought: I really liked Bizenghast!  I recognize the title, but never picked it up until now, and I’m glad I did. There is a very gothic feel to the book, and if I had to pick what genre it falls into, I’d say it’s gothic/horror. I have a tendency to not think of manga in terms of genre, for some reason.

I did like the story, but it did randomly jump ahead to different points, and I think the pacing could have been a little slower and been fine.  I also liked the artwork and it had a good balance of light and dark.  I also liked the newspaper articles and telegrams before each chapter, and they gave you such a great idea of the world and what was going on. I do wish we know a little more about Dinah and why she can see the ghosts and why she’s the one who can help them, but that is something that we might learn more about that in a future volume.  We do know enough about them, though, to stay interested in what will happen next.

A really good read-alike is The Dreaming by Queenie Chan, and I think anyone who likes one will like the other.  It has a very similar feel to The Dreaming, and while the artwork in Bizenghast is a little lighter than the art in The Dreaming, I think the art (and story) have the potential to be at least a little more dark than what we see in this volume.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it, and I can’t wait to read the next volume to see what happens next!