Mini Review: Dream Thief by Tamara Grantham

Summary: Visiting Faythander is a nasty business. Forget the fairies and unicorns, most people come back with lost memories and mental problems. Olive Kennedy knows. She's the therapist who treats patients suffering from Faythander's side effects. Despite her empty bank account, she takes pride in her job as Houston’s only Fairy World medical doctor. She's never failed to cure a client—until now.

Traveling back to Faythander wasn't on Olive's to-do list. But she has no choice. The fate of both Earth and Fairy depends on her ability to stop an ancient being called the Dreamthief. To complicate matters, she may be losing her heart to someone who can’t love her in return. Saving the world, she can handle. Falling in love—not so much.

As if battling the forces of evil wasn't difficult enough…
Release Date: September 2015
Age Group: YA
Source: Review Copy from Author
Reviewed By: Evan

Review:
Dream Thief is a great mystery for lovers of both drama & fantasy fiction. This story felt original & unique and I enjoyed that it was unpredictable and refreshing. The heroine, Olive Kennedy, is relatable and likable. A girl you will root for as she battles through worlds to save a child. It is clear from the beginning there are secrets about Olive’s past she must uncover in order to save her Godson and herself.

This is just the beginning of a promising fantasy series and Grantham has left me excited for the next installment and wanting more!



Book to Movie Review: Goosebumps


In our house, a Goosebumps book is considered a bedtime story. Yes, ghouls, shrunken heads and demented puppets soothe my little monsters into dreamland. Odd, yes but we have never claimed to be normal.
When I heard Goosebumps was being turned into a movie starring Jack Black and would incorporate a lot of the characters from the books, I began planning. 
  1. Kids would get out early to see the first show.
  2. We would have to discuss all the characters that they might see in the movie and speculate every detail.
  3. We would need to watch Nacho Libre for a solid week (which we already do routinely thanks to my 4 year old) to get the JBlack mojo flowing.
Prior to our cinematic adventure with 6 kids, I had already made the decision that I would buy the movie. Period. Why? Because if you don't support book adaptations that you LOVE Hollywood will stop making them. #cantstopwontstop

I buy them all, even if they are terrible. Yea, I bought Vampire Academy & The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Terrible adaptations but FANTASTIC series. We all have our issues standards. 

Well Goosebumps is here! And if you haven't watched it, you should. For all RL Stine fans it is a must. I got #thefeels because I remembered reading some of those books back in the 90's and now my kids are enjoying the same twisted humor! I know, mom of the year. #winning




PS I was serious about my kid and his obsession with Nachoooo! #evidence













*{Film} image source: Google.com

Surviving a #SHOWHOLE

When I find a good book or TV series, I binge. My name is Natalie and I am a binge addict. Yea, I try to balance my life but when a good book has ensnared me or a TV series has ALL 128 episodes ready for my visual entertainment, I loose all inhibitions.

With that said, I am often in what Amazon refers to as a #SHOWHOLE (both book and TV driven). Watch below.


We've all been there, some of us more times than we care to admit... and right now I am in a serious #SHOWHOLE. I've said it before and I'll say it again, when I commit I COMMIT. I'm in it to win it. Pacing is not in my vocabulary.

What has caused my current #showhole and how will I recover:


To all #SHOWHOLE suffers, 
We must help each other through these trying times. We need contingencies set and support. Here at I'd So Rather Be Reading, we have made a commitment to post recovery regimens. We understand when others may not. We get you and accept you. We are here for you. 

XOXO,
BINGE ON & FEAR NOT!







*book image sources: jilliandodd.net

Book Review: This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Summary: 

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.





Release Date: January 6, 2016
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli


Review:

This Is Where It Ends is one of those books that is a hard read emotionally, but still a great read.  I was completely engrossed by the story and read this book in one sitting.

Nijkamp narrates from four different first-person perspectives, and manages to do so without the book feeling choppy.  This style of story-telling is a favorite of mine because it allows the reader to really get to know several different characters.  I love knowing characters' inner thoughts and the best way to get that is from first-person narration.  

This Is Where It Ends spans less than an hour's time; which makes it unique.  I assumed that because the story lasts for only 54 minutes, that it would be all action and not as much character development.  I was wrong!  Nijkamp skillfully includes flashbacks so that the reader can see how the characters have grown and changed over time.  There is also actual growth during the real-time action, which was a little bit of a surprise, but not really when you consider the circumstances the students were under.  

When I think about This Is Where It Ends, the words that come to mind are intense and emotional.  This book was so full of emotion: fear, anger, rage, pain, sadness, joy, love, and acceptance.  My own emotions were up and down with the characters', and I just felt so moved by this story.

I loved that there was an epilogue.  I was glad to get that closure, although I still wish I could see the characters a year from now, or two years from now.  Where did everyone end up?  How did they cope with the events of that terrible day?  Those were my lingering questions after I finished the story.  I hope to see a follow-up novel or novella, but even if that doesn't come to pass, this story is strong enough to stand on its own.

Nijkamp treats a brutal subject with dignity and grace in This Is Where It Ends. This book is not to be missed.




Where December Went

I know I've been quite dormant on the blog here lately, and for that I am sorry.  These past weeks have been a flurry of illness (both Kaitlyn and I got sick, and I'm still sick weeks later), holidays and the final stretch of construction of our house.  It's been busy and hectic and I've had no time or worse, mental energy, to read and review.  I hope to get back to my reading and reviewing schedule soon!  

In the meantime, here's some of what I've been doing in my precious little free time...

Image source: amazon.com
Coloring 

I color in books for adults (although I won't turn down a pretty princess picture from one of Kaitlyn's books).  Kaitlyn will sometimes color her own book next to me.  It's a quiet and low-key activity that we can enjoy together.  Until she starts to steal my Prismacolor pencils which were a much-beloved gift!

I love it.  It's relaxing, and it calms my racing thoughts.  My favorite thing to color are mandalas.  

The book I'm working on right now is called Mandala Coloring Book by Clare Goodwin.  I love it so much that I'm thinking of buying it again once I've finished it, to make each page different by using different color palettes.  


Image credit: www.wikipedia.org
Movies 

Seriously...Netflix is the answer to many of life's questions.  I watched some of my timeless classics like Pride and Prejudice, and more recently, Beastly.  I had forgotten how much I love Beastly.  

Next up I may re-watch the miniseries World Without End, based on Ken Follet's masterpiece of a novel, and one of my top five favorite books of all time. 





GAYLE 

Oh My WORD.  I love Gayle.  I discovered comedian Chris Fleming's hilarious character, Gayle, when a blogger I follow (I'm sorry, I can't remember who it was or I would link to them here) posted the following video on Facebook.  





Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBwELzvnrQg 

Needing to see more of this hilarious woman, I went to Chris Fleming's Gayle page on You Tube.  Visit the Gayle home page on You Tube HERE.

What ensued can only be described only as an utter, unapologetic Gayle binge.  I watched all 41 episodes (ranging from 4-20 minutes each) in about two days.  Best two days ever.  Now I'm re-watching them because they are just that funny!   Warning: don't watch Gayle while you're eating.  I actually laughed so hard that grapes came out of my nose.  (TMI?  Sorry!)  

I then went in search of how Chris Fleming developed this hilarious character. Here's an article on Forbes, titled Meet the Man Behind the Madwoman, Gayle Waters-Waters.

I seriously haven't laughed this hard at anything online or in film in YEARS.  My next life goal is to go see Gayle live.  I told Toby that it would be an excellent Valentine's Day gift and he reminded me that we have furniture to buy for the new house.  Details, details.  I'm sure we can work something out.  


So....coloring, movies, and Gayle.  Those have been my relaxing activities for the last few weeks.  What's been new and fun for you lately?  

 

The Pea Patch Jig by Thacher Hurd


Summary: 
 
Baby Mouse loves Farmer Clem's pea patch. As her parents prepare for their big party, she escapes from her bath and gets up past her bedtime to visit the pea patch. Color illustrations.

Release Date: April 1, 1995
Age Group: Preschool to Grade 1
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli & Kaitlyn


Review:

The Pea Patch Jig is a sweet and funny book about a little mouse family who lives on a farm.  Kaitlyn and I enjoyed this book a lot!

Mother and Father Mouse have a daughter, Baby Mouse.  Baby Mouse is kind of mischievous and gets into trouble a couple of times throughout the story.  Mother and Father Mouse must rescue her, but in the end it's Baby Mouse who rescues her family from a dangerous predator.

Kaitlyn's favorite parts were quite funny: one scene where Grandfather Mouses's head gets stuck in a tomato (thanks to Baby Mouse kicking it down from the tomato plant) really got her laughing.  She also liked the part where the party occurs and every mouse dresses up and dances under the moon, actually doing the Pea Patch Jig.  

I loved the illustrations, which reminded me of watercolor paintings.  They were soft around the edges but still bright and engaging.  I did think that the book was a little too long.  I noticed Kaitlyn starting to lose interest towards the end of the story, then it ended and she told me how much she liked it.  So, I guess the length wasn't a deal-breaker for her. 

We enjoyed The Pea Patch Jig and would recommend this book!



The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill

Summary: 
 
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.


Release Date: December 8, 2015
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli


Review:

The Trouble With Destiny was a very fun and funny read.  I highly enjoyed it!  

One thing I love about fiction is when authors don't try to make their books anything more than they are.  And, at its heart, The Trouble With Destiny is a story about a high school band in danger of being shut down due to budget cuts.  The book had a band-camp vibe, which made it even more fun.  I was in the band in high school, and it brought back those feelings of community and belonging.  

Liza is our narrator, and she was a great lead character.  She is the drum major, and is the only band member who knows that the band's future depends on winning the prize money from the cruise ship Destiny.  Therefore, she's under tremendous pressure to push the band members to perform at their best during the week-long competition. 

But Liza goes too far in her zeal to be the best, and the band members start to buck against her authority.  She's forced to let go of her tightly held reins, and let the music happen on its own.  In the process, she learns a lot about herself and those around her.  

In addition to this sweet and fun plot, there was an extra sweet romance in the mix.  I loved that aspect of the story.  And, there was an emphasis on friendship, especially resolving long-held conflicts.  I loved that aspect of the story.

The Trouble With Destiny was a great read.  I recommend it for upper middle grade and all young adult readers.  

Casey's Bright Red Christmas by Holly Dufek, Illustrated by Paul E. Nunn



Summary: 

It's Christmas time at Happy Skies Farm! Tillus the worm, Big Red, Sammy and the rest of the team are excited to celebrate the season. But Casey the farmer is busy working: feeding animals, repairing fences and planning for the year ahead. With so much to do, Casey wonders if she'll have time to prepare for the holidays. That's when Tillus and the team unite to make this Christmas extra special for their busy friend. 


Release Date: October 1, 2015
Age Group: 4-8 years
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli & Kaitlyn


Review:

Casey's Bright Red Christmas is such a sweet Christmas story!  Kaitlyn and I both loved it.  After being introduced to Casey and Friends in A Year on the Farm, we felt like we knew the characters and that made the book even more fun to read.

The story starts with Casey reflecting on all she has to do to get ready for Christmas.  She has to do her normal farm chores, plus all of the decorating and baking.  This feeling of being overwhelmed with a "to-do" list was authentically portrayed for a young girl who runs a farm and also stuck a note of sympathy with me, and probably most other parents who read this book.  Christmas is my favorite time of the year, but it's also the busiest time of the year.  

And then, Casey comes down with a cold and can't do everything on her list.  She plans to go to the shed to start decorating for her farm friends but falls asleep at her kitchen table instead.  Tillus the worm gathers everyone together and they decide to set Christmas up for Casey for a big Christmas surprise.  

As a parent with a chronic illness, I loved the theme of helping those in need, and doing for others when they can't do things for themselves.  Casey deserved a break, and needed help, and when the team recognized that Casey takes care of them all year long and that it was time for them to take care of her, it was a poignant moment for me.  That's the kind of love in action that I love to read about, and of course, experience in my own life!

And so, the theme of the book becomes about the true meaning of Christmas: giving, helping, and sharing.  The farm friends surprise Casey, and they spend Christmas together, singing carols and enjoying cookies and hot cocoa.  Kaitlyn loved the idea of the farm equipment setting up Christmas for Casey, and how each friend had their own way of doing things: playful, distracted, focused, in charge, particular, etc.  That was a nice metaphor for different personality traits and how each worked together to make Christmas special for everyone.  I should note here that while the first Casey book, A Year on the Farm, was geared towards ages 5 and up, this story was more appropriate for a four year old. 

Casey's Bright Red Christmas was an excellent read, and we highly recommend it!    




Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Summary: 
For fans of David Sedaris, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling-the new book from Jenny Lawson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED...

In LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: "Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos."

"Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'"

Jenny's first book, LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it's about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn't need a bit more of that?


Release Date: September 22, 2015
Age Group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kelli


Review:

I read and loved Let's Pretend This Never Happened (read my review here), so I knew that I would really enjoy Furiously Happy.  However, I didn't expect this book to touch my heart the way that it did. 

Jenny Lawson is a well-recognized advocate for breaking the stimga surrounding mental illness.  She opens up about her own struggles in Furiously Happy, and her transparency made me love her even more.  There were so many aspects of her feelings and life that I identified with, and I got a lot of peace in knowing that I wasn't alone.  

I also loved reading about how Jenny copes with her symptoms.  For example, Jenny has several sleep disorders which cause severe insomnia.  Instead of laying in bed fretting about not sleeping, she has cat rodeos in her kitchen at 3:00 am.  She straps her smaller taxidermied animals onto her cats and has them race to see which cat can keep the animal on their back the longest.  This scene was one of my favorites in the book and one that I keep coming back to when I struggle with insomnia. 

One might think that this book is heavy or depressing.  It's the complete opposite.  Jenny strikes the perfect balance between intense and light hearted emotion.  A chapter about her worst struggles is followed by a short chapter about her most recent fight with her husband Victor (these fights are always hilarious, by the way).  

At its heart, Furiously Happy is about making the best life out of your particular circumstances, whatever they may be.  It made me smile, cry, and left me with a feeling of intense hope.  Jenny's blog is a place where people can come together, share their struggles with mental illness, and feel accepted no matter what.  Furiously Happy expounds on this feeling of community and unconditional acceptance.  Even though I was reading this book in my own home, completely alone, I felt surrounded by the experience of all of those who have gone before me, and those going through a hard time with me right now.  And that's an incredible feeling...one that is rarely found in a book.  I can't say enough good things about Furiously Happy.  I highly recommend it!