Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Banned Books Week Word Search!

My friends, why shouldn't we celebrate BBW with 
something delightful
like a word search?!
I made one for us. It's pretty easy :) 
Created here if you'd like
to make your own! 
S Y W M J P D U Z B P M R N S 
Y L R A O U L F R V T O E O A 
D A A T R Y N I B S A C W M W 
F E T U S D D G I Q L K O O Y 
E E V S G E R H L D G I L L E 
R C E O S H C O H E E N F O R 
G S I H L R T S B E R G L S Q 
R Y E L A E A E G E N B L G C 
M A J N A S B W R A O I A N C 
D J A H O B B I T H N R W C A 
S P M U B E S O O G O D Y T O 
C L O C K W O R K G X U I P J 
L Y L C I N A T A S J L S D U 
S G N I R G U X Y O O U N E C 
T S Y J K K H F G L T M B Y I 


Monday, September 28, 2015

October Read Along Announcement!

Big news everyone! Jamie from Books and Beverages and I are cohosting a RAL for one of our childhood favorites...A Little Princess!

What's great about this book (among other things) is that it's free! Since it's in the public domain full texts can be found for free around the internet on many different sites. I read it through Google Books right from my computer. So a free, comfort read in the cozy cooler month of October. Jamie and I would love to have you join us!

The plan is that every Monday we will announce the chapters that we will discuss on the Friday of that same week. Announcements and discussions will happen on both of our blogs on a rotating basis. Here's the full schedule (including a movie viewing and discussion) so you can plot your reading.

Date Topic Whose blog? Schedule
28-Sep  Announcement Both No reading, just announcing
5-Oct Announce  chapters  LE Chapters 1-6
9-Oct Discuss chapters LE
12-Oct Announce  chapters  BB Chapters 7-13
16-Oct Discuss chapters BB
19-Oct Announce chapters  LE Chapters 14-19
23-Oct Discuss chapters LE
26-Oct Announce movie watching BB
28-Oct Talk about movie BB
30-Oct Wrap up Both

You can find us on twitter (me and Jamie), we will be using the hashtag #PrincessRead during the RAL.

If you've got any questions please contact myself or Jamie. It's our first RAL so there might be some bumps along the road  but we will do our darndest for smooth sailing!

And remember....


Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: "Boy Meets Depression: Or Life Suck and Then You Live" by Kevin Breel and a pre-announcement announcement!

~Before we get started on the book review today, I just wanted to let you know there will be a big announcement on the blog on Monday! It will involve books! That's your clue :)~

I picked this book somewhat at random from Blogging for Books. The author did an incredibly popular Ted-talk (and this is me admitting again that I haven't seen any.) Anyway, considering I ended up with this book almost on accident, I'm very glad I got this book.

Kevin lives in Victoria, BC, Canada in an un-ideal home situation. His dad is a drunk, mostly spending his time in the basement drinking and being quiet. His mom is supportive and kind, but it's still a strained household.

Kevin is self conscious and quiet. He comes into his own as an 8th grader where he makes a true, dear friend. It brings him out of his shell and feels like he's part of a more "normal" family.
 However, tragedy strikes and it puts the already vulnerable Kevin in a deep depression.

What makes this book so great is how honest Kevin is. He goes into good descriptions about how it feels to be depressed, the confusion he feels, the loneliness he feels. I'm trying to think of a good description of his writing style: it's not a "woe is me", it's empathy but it's also not coddling. I like the "notes to self" pages between chapters. Some of those are even funny!

I think this book could be a great resource for those who have people in their life that deal with depression or sadness and don't really know how to support them, or understand what they are going through. Kevin admits that he sometimes still struggles to be a good friend, and that the people who care enough to stick around are incredibly dear to him. So just show up!

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book Review: "Taming the To-Do List" by Glynnis Whitwer

This book isn’t full of the usual practical advice on how to “tame” your to-do list; like “break big tasks into smaller ones to make them more manageable” or “don’t be afraid to ask for help!” There is some advice of that variety towards the end, but the book tries to focus in on what gets us into “to-do list overload” in the first place.

Our author, Glynnis, takes a long hard look at what has led to her overwhelming to-so lists. Its multiple parted:
-Pride. She admits that she likes the feeling when people says things like “Oh my gosh, you get so much done, I just don’t know how you do it!” What they don’t realize is what expense that it comes at.
- Procrastination. Putting things off until the last minute makes for hurried, subpar work, and STRESS.
-Being scared. She talked about how being scared kept her from asking for help on a group project and how it held things up for everybody.
The author is a Christian, so she does a lot of soul searching to see what leads her down these roads and what she can do to prevent the overload in the first place.
A section that I think will resonate with a lot of people is not comparing your best to other's people's best:
My makeup applying job will never be as good as my sister's. But on my best days I don't look like either a) a corpse or b) a painted harlot from a Western.
My cooking will never be as good as some of my talented foodie friends. But I make a really good (and stupidly easy) tortilla soup.
Your best and my best are different. And that is okay! Whoever said "comparison is the thief of joy" is right on.
If you're expecting a book full of practical time management tips you will be disappointed. If you're looking to get more at the base of your busyness problems and make good, longer lasting change in your life, this book might be for you!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Monday, September 21, 2015

Author Interview: Juliet Waldron of "A Master Passion: The Story of Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton" (HFVBT)

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I have an author interview for you today! Here's the goodreads summary of Juliet's book and then the interview:

THE MASTER PASSION is the story of the marriage - called by some a misalliance - of Alexander Hamilton, our First Secretary of the Treasury, and Betsy Schuyler. Although born poor and illegitimate, Hamilton courts the daughter of Major General Schuyler, an American princess.

Hamilton is one of a trinity of Founders who seem to have been created on purpose to invent our nation. Like all mission-driven men, he is preoccupied, often absent, and not the best provider. The trials of making ends meet and raising an ever growing troop of children are Betsy's. This woman-behind-the-man is barely known, but through war, Indian attacks, multiple births, epidemics, infidelity, unending politics and dire tragedy, Betsy is the force which holds the family together.

Conflict is built into this marriage. It does not simply spring from Alexander's childhood experience of bastardy, abuse and abandonment. 


Hello, Library Educated, and thanks for having me on to talk about A Master Passion, the story of Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton. In the days before so much historical source material was scanned onto the ‘net, I couldn’t have written this book without access to The PA State Library and the Lebanon Valley College Library collections. (Libraries to the rescue!- W)

1. How did you hear about this extraordinary couple's story?
I’ve been a Hamiltonian since I was eleven—which sounds mad, but there it is. I actually visited Nevis, Hamilton’s remote West Indian birthplace, in 1957, thanks to a mother who fostered my historical fascinations. Only when I’d begun to work on A Master Passion in the early ‘90’s did I become more heavily involved with Betsy’s story. Like other 18th Century wives who wanted to preserve family privacy, (for instance, Martha Washington and Constanze Mozart) Betsy destroyed personal correspondence with her own “great man.” I had to sometimes make inferences about her take on events.  Betsy lived fifty years beyond her husband’s fatal duel, so her “American Experience” stretched almost to the Civil War. She never ceased to demand that ‘Justice shall be done to the memory of my Hamilton.’

2. What marriage advice to you think that Alexander and Elizabeth would give to couples today?

Manners and morals have changed, but I have a few ideas. Like many married couples then and now, the Hamiltons grew together as the years passed. Keeping the marriage going, the sometimes rocky “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, ‘till Death do us part”, was of prime importance to them, although they were sometimes tested. Elizabeth knew how to forgive; she also had to learn how to live with a preoccupied genius.  Hamilton loved, trusted and respected his wife—and 18th Century husbands did not necessarily work at those things. Those two parts put together created a working whole.

They might give advice about the importance of being attentive to children, too, because they were—again, particularly for this century--involved parents. This did not stop with their own children, for their house was often full of other people’s as well.  Many of Betsy’s nieces and nephews lived with them at various times, and they fostered an orphaned girl until she grew up and got married.  

3. Where there any unique challenges about writing this book that you didn't have in other books you've written?

The balance between the couple was often hard to maintain. I’ve a natural sympathy and interest in woman’s experience of life in the past, as well as in the complications that come along with a female body. This book is also the first of mine in which I’ve stayed, for long periods, in the POV of the male half of a relationship. Not so much the maleness, but the genius aspect was the intimidating part.
4. What kind of research did you have to do for this book?

Lots! However, total immersion is my chosen method when I’m writing what I like to think of as “bio-fic.” There is a great deal of primary and secondary source material on Hamilton, now far more easily accessible than when I began. And Betsy saved her husband’s correspondence. After his death, she hunted down letters sent to business and political associates, to friends, and, even those involving the government, which has continued growing since her death to 21 volume’s worth. These, as well as biographies, I took out, in heaps, from the PA State Library.  There was plenty to work with.
5. Do you have a special routine when you're writing a book? (Get up early, write by a window, etc?)

Morning is usually prime time for me, but because Hamilton has been in my imagination since I was a child, some scenes just leapt out of my brain, almost fully formed. Others only came only after a long immersion, rereading notes, papers, biographies and transcriptions I’d made. Messy, but, for me, effective, at least until one of the cats decides “enough is enough,” and jumps up to head butt while she braces herself atop my keyboard.  


Juliet Waldron has lived in many US states, in the UK and the West Indies. She earned a B. A. in English, but has worked at jobs ranging from artist’s model to brokerage. Thirty years ago, after her sons left home, she dropped out of 9-5 and began to write, hoping to create a genuine time travel experience for her readers. Juliet’s a grandmother, a cat person, and fascinated by reading history and archeology. Juliet spends a lot of time visiting other centuries, but she’s also certain she doesn’t want to live there.

Juliet gardens, bicycles and is involved in local advocacy groups. She and her husband of fifty years enjoy the winding backroads of PA aboard their Hayabusa superbike.

For more information visit Juliet Waldron’s website. Juliet also blogs at Possum Tracks and Crone Henge, and you can follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Goodreads.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Graphic Novel review: "Anya's Ghost" by Vera Brosgol

Another Goodreads recommendation gone right today!

Anya is an average high school student in many ways. She struggles with grades, friends, and family drama. She is Russian, but has worked hard to lose her accent and speak English well so that kids won’t pick on her like they did when she was small.

On her way home from school one day she falls down a hidden well and finds herself in the company of a skeleton…and it’s ghost. Anya passes a strange night down in the well, but is rescued and tries to forget the whole experience. But it isn’t quite that easy because something or someone has followed her home… At first it seems like a good thing, and surprisingly beneficial to her social life. However it doesn’t take long for things to take a turn. Anya finds herself having to rely on a person that she constantly rebuffs to help her with her unusual problem before it gets dangerous.

I liked this book because it kind of took a turn in a way that I wasn’t expected. I appreciate when a book surprises me, because I feel like so often the twists and turns are at least a little bit predictable. I like the clean lines and simple pictures. (I think I must be scarred from starting with Gaiman’s Sandman series. They were good but just so much going on; I’ve swung completely the other way now.) 3.5 stars out of 5!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ode to a Podcast I Love

I'm late to the podcast game. The one that I've loved the longest was Welcome to Night Vale. Love the quirkiness, love that librarians are scary, love that the dog park isn't for dogs.

But eventually I got all caught up on the happenings in Night Vale (hello flights to and from Europe, along with several bus rides when there) and I needed a new podcast. I didn't exactly know what I wanted but the upside to being late in the game is that other people have already talked about the thing that you are wondering about. So thanks Buzzfeed, you brought me a great podcast AND told me what type of personality I have based on which squiggly line I chose out of a lineup.

So, the Memory Palace.

Each episode is between (on average) 5 and 15 minutes long. Each episode tells the story of a true historical event that you probably had never heard of, I think I maybe had heard of 2 (?) and I think of myself as a pretty big history nerd.

There's a creepy one every Halloween, one year's topic was stories of people being buried alive.

The episode on John Paul Jones (the founder of the American Navy) made me want to cry.

The episode entitled "OMG!!! JKP!!!" was more informative then several history classes I've taken.

"Babysitting" will make you ask SO MANY "what-ifs"?

Not going to lie to you,a lot of them are at least a little sad. But many are not, or have redemptive endings.

So please find Memory Palace on iTunes and give it a listen, I don't think you will regret it!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Curious about "The Classics" but are intimidated or don't know where to start?

So  you want to know what the "classics" are about but don't actually want to READ them? Or maybe you are interested in the classics but don't know where to start? These books might have the answers for you!

"Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits" by Jack Murningham


This book cracked me up. It takes a classic book and then breaks it down by section or chapter to make it understandable. It even tells you what parts are not crucial/ makes confusing for no reason so that you can skim those parts. It's a great way to get introduced to the classics!

"Dead White Guys: A Father,His Daughters, and the Great Books of the Western World" by Matt Burriesci


This books is kind of a in letter format, an man tries to convince his (now infant) daughter that these books are worth reading; even if it only represents a small section of the literary world at large (you know, dead white guys). He tells her what each book can teach her and how the lessons they teach are still useful in the modern world. For me, some of the sections were more interesting then others, but you could skip around and read certain chapters that appealed to you and still get a lot of out of this book.

"Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times" by Andrew D Kaufman


We use War & Peace as a shorthand to talk about things that are insurmountable or intimidating, but this book says it doesn't have to be t his way. And I love a clever title. Of course this book focuses in on one classic where the others offer you many, but maybe War and Peace is your white whale and this will help you get started.Most criticisms of this book come from the fact that maybe the author talks about himself too much.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book review: "Girl Waits with Gun" by Amy Stewart (HFVBT)

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 Constance, Norma and Fleurette are three sisters who live by themselves on a farm in the country in about 1915. I've been trying to line them up with who I think they would be if they were characters in "Little Women". Fleurette is totally the Amy of the group. The youngest, a little spoiled, a little oblivious, likes nice clothes, but isn't without some redemptive points.  Constance (our main narrator) is like Jo. Constance is prepared to do whatever she can to keep her family together and as comfortable as possible. She puts herself out there and has a close male friend spoiler spoiler spoiler.  The only person who doesn't fit my analogy is Norma. A little (lot) gruff, great with animals, trains carrier pigeons, loyal, mostly communicates with said carrier pigeons and angry shakes of her newspaper. Norma is unique.

 An event that starts the book is the finger push that makes the dominoes fall for the rest of the book. The girls are in an accident; an automobile driven by a a-hole hits their horse drawn wagon. The ladies request his name and address so they can invoice him for the damages. They expect him to pay promptly and politely because they think he's a gentleman. Well, bad news. He doesn't and/because he isn't.

This book is more than 400 pages but it reads much much faster. There is all kinds of intrigue: a lost baby, nighttime harassment, a valiant sheriff, and a sewing machine with a loaded history. I'd love a little more backstory about their mother. I think there's a lot of material there to be had. Maybe a prequel, Amy?


Amy Stewart is the author of seven books. Her latest, Girl Waits With Gun, is a novel based on a true story. She has also written six nonfiction books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including four New York Times bestsellers: The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. She lives in Eureka, California, with her husband Scott Brown, who is a rare book dealer. They own a bookstore called Eureka Books. The store is housed in a classic nineteenth-century Victorian building that Amy very much hopes is haunted.

Stewart has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers and magazines, and has appeared frequently on National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, and–just once–on TLC’s Cake Boss. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award.

For more information visit Amy Stewart’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"Cheese"y books...

Sometimes when life gets crazy you get posts like this

-Swiss Family Robinson
-A Brie Grows in Brooklyn
-American Pastuerized
-The Great Gorgonzola
-The Pit and the Provolone
-Catcher in the Rind
-The Queso of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Things I've Said to My Children" by Nathan Ripperger

The author of this silly little book is the father of five small children and something tells me that he has enough fodder for about 15 books like this!

It's a simple premise, each silly saying is accompanied by a fun illustration.

One of my favorites: "We do not poop in books." (No, we certainly do not!) and "Put down that hatchet and put on your jammies!" (Hopefully he's raising lumberjacks and not serial killers)

There's also tales about dining in the bathtub (not recommended), the trials and tribulations of being this family's pet, and what weapons are NOT welcome.

It's be a great baby shower gift, put it in a basket with some onesies and some wine and you are good to go! I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars!

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books

Friday, September 4, 2015

Book Review: "Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home" by Jessica Fechtor (and a guest post)

(Before we get started, fast shout out to Book Bloggers International who had me guest post today about libraries! Check it out and then come on back!)

The whole time I was reading this I was thinking of other people who would love this book, I feel like that's a good sign! Also, the cover is gorgeous but I'm worried about the waste of chocolate. :) I was not familiar with Jessica's blog before picking up this book, I'm not much of a cook so I'm not a food blog reader but I thought her story sounded interesting. And now that I work with people who study brains I feel like maybe reading thiswill give me fodder for cocktail party conversations.

Jessica is living a pretty normal life; she's 28, freshly married, trying to wrap up grad school. She's at a conference in Vermont when she falls off a treadmill and bonks her head. She's embarassed at the fact someone called an ambulance. She assumes she's just dehydrated or stressed. But when they get to the hospital and do some testing they realize it's something much worse; bleeding on her brain.

(We take a break in this review of this kind of serious book to discuss a cartoon. Does anyone watch Archer, specifically the oil pipeline in Louisiana episode? About how his big fears are crocodiles, alligators and brain aneurysms? These are not unrealistic fears. Okay, back to it.)

Her family, including her husband, her in-laws, her divorced parents, and her step mom all find their way to Vermont immediately. (Because nothing is worse then being away from home when an emergency happens to you. They lived in Cambridge at the time. I think. They moved around A LOT.)

Her recovery is mind numbing slow. Her therapist warns her she might only be able to do "one thing a day". Therapist was right. Sometimes a shower, walking up a few stairs, or having a prolonged phone conversation was exhausting. But the thing she misses the most is cooking. Food and cooking plays a large part in her recovery, even though it takes her a long time to do more than wash and cut 3 mushrooms.

What I thought was interesting about was that she never seemed to realize that this was incredibly life threatening. Several times the doctors told her she was out of the woods and then she'd be in the hospital again a week later. I don't know if it's because she wrote the book in hindsight ("well I obviously didn't die, I'm writing this book!"), she was naive, or if it was just a coping mechanism. She never seemed worried "enough". But maybe she's just a calm person! I liked this book, it was interesting, though I don't know if I would ever read it again. So I will give it a high 3 out of 5 stars.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Spotlight on "Girl Waits with a Gun" by Amy Stewart (HFVBT)

Guys, I'm spotlighting this book for you, hopefully I will have a review for you later in the month!


From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling debut novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.


Amy Stewart is the author of seven books. Her latest, Girl Waits With Gun, is a novel based on a true story. She has also written six nonfiction books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including four New York Times bestsellers: The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. She lives in Eureka, California, with her husband Scott Brown, who is a rare book dealer. They own a bookstore called Eureka Books. The store is housed in a classic nineteenth-century Victorian building that Amy very much hopes is haunted.
Stewart has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers and magazines, and has appeared frequently on National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, and–just once–on TLC’s Cake Boss. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award.

For more information visit Amy Stewart’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.