Check the Shelf Book Review: Messy Grace

Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

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Publisher/Year: WaterBrook Press | November 6, 2015

Pages: 211

Series: Stand-Alone

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

Format: paperback

Source: Publisher through Blogging for Books (thanks!)

Amazon | Goodreads

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  That did not sway my opinion in the least.

Goodreads Summary

Caleb Kaltenbach was raised by LGBT parents, marched in gay pride parades as a youngster, and experienced firsthand the hatred and bitterness of some Christians toward his family.

But then Caleb surprised everyone, including himself, by becoming a Christian…and a pastor.

Very few issues in Christianity are as divisive as the acceptance of the LGBT community in the church. As a pastor and as a person with beloved family members living a gay lifestyle, Caleb had to face this issue with courage and grace.

Messy Grace shows us that Jesus’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” doesn’t have an exception clause for a gay “neighbor”—or for that matter, any other “neighbor” we might find it hard to relate to. Jesus was able to love these people and yet still hold on to his beliefs. So can you. Even when it’s messy.

First Off…

With how prevalent this topic is, I couldn’t wait to read this book from the view point of someone who grew up in the middle of the LGBT community.

Thoughts as a Reader:


I think this is a great book for almost everyone.  Whether you know what you think, think you know, or have no idea what to think, it gives a better understanding of the intersection we’ve come to in our modern society.  The title really says it all, Messy Grace.  Because the fact is as long as we’re on this side of eternity and living in a sinful world, it’s going to be uber messy.  This book tries to give some guidance to the process of navigating through the grey parts of life with truth and grace.  It’s hard, and a lot of it’s easier said than done, but you have to start somewhere.  And since none of us have the ability to see to the heart of someone, this book is a great starting point.

The book weaves back and forth between the story of Kaltenbach growing up and looking at “messy” moments of the bible.  He writes in an engaging way that helps you connect to all the stories.  I love that you can see his heart and the care he took to be real, even through a difficult storytelling process.  I think what I appreciate most about this is his desire for hate to be taken off the table.  There has been so much animosity between both sides that his call for care, love, and relationship with this community is a good reminder.    I appreciated him pointing out the similarities between the Christian and LGBT community.  Similarities are where all relationships start.

I wanted to put some time between finishing this book and writing the review.  Partly to fully process everything, and partly to make sure I spoke well.  I’ve recommended this book to so many people because it’s such a good conversation starter and thought provoker about where you stand and why.  And it’s from someone who’s lived and loved in the middle of it all.  I truly appreciate Caleb writing this book and giving an authentic and heartfelt look at what life and relationship has been like on the inside of the LBGT community.  I hope I can balance grace and truth in my own life.

Thoughts as a Writer:

This book is part memoir part educational.  Kaltenbach does a great job of weaving story with reflection.  Tying in research and persona; understanding to keep the reader moving forward.  If your looking at doing a topical memoir, especially christian, this would be a good book to look at structure and how to keep the reader engaged through the reading.

In the End

In the end I think this is such a good book for any Christian.  As Christians we love a multitude of people that are living lives we don’t agree with, and yet this seems to be one line we don’t/won’t cross.  This is a great book for you to question if/how you’re living in the Grace and Truth that Jesus set before us.

10 Second Summary:

  1. Authentic: Which is exactly what you want in a book like this.
  2. Unique: There are a lot of books out there that approach this subject, but Kaltenbach has the unique life situation of living it, which makes it even more engaging.
  3. Food for thought: Kaltenback doesn’t give you a checklist for how to live, rather he gives you his life experience, what the bible says and question for you to wrestle with it and come to you own convictions. 

Check the Shelf Review

Hardback. This is a book I’ll keep close and reread.  There are a lot of good points and questions that I’ll be working through and many that I don’t know if I’ll ever have answers for, but I’m glad to have a place to start.


Twilight Gender Swap Book Review: The one where she is he

“I try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles.”

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephanie Meyers

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Publisher/Year: Little Brown| October 6, 2015

Pages: 389

Series: Standalone

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Format: eBook

Source: Overdrive through Cincinnati Libary

Amazon | Goodreads

There are going to be spoilers all over this review, both for this book and the original Twilight.  You’ve been warned.

Shannan’s Summary

What if Bella was a boy and Edward a girl.  Would the story still play out the same, would gender roles hold true?  A familiar story that looks at the effect of gender on a story and whether it makes or breaks the love Beau and Eddie finds.

First Off…

So here’s where I was at going into reading this book. I read all the original twilight books and saw all the movies.  I enjoyed the story line, but never really thought they were worth all the hype.  It was a fun story that I enjoyed, but that was about all in my opinion.  So when I saw Meyer’s was doing a gender swap for the 10th anniversary I first thought, What the vampire, it’s been 10 years?  Then I thought this will be one of the weirdest books I’ll ever read.  Really the writer side of me was more intrigued than the reader side of me.  But I had to give it a go.

Thoughts as a Reader:

This may be the fastest I’ve ever read a book over 300 pages.  It was basically the same story with tweaks here and there.  Meyers does a disclaimer at the beginning as to why some changes happened.  The biggest one was that she didn’t gender swap the parent role.  I get that with the time of the book the dad wouldn’t have gotten custody, but I would have rather her thrown that fact out of the window and swapped the parents.  Instead, you don’t really see the dynamics between Beau (that’s the boy Bella) and his dad that you did between a father-daughter duo.

There was also a change to the portland part of the story, Beau nearly gets killed rather than possibly raped. I get that switch, it feeds into the end of the story, which is totally different.  Meyer’s also changes around when certain conversations and explanations happen.  I didn’t have time to do a side by side comparison of what happens when, but from what I remember there was a little less angst in the “I’m not telling” department.

What Meyer’s has said as to why she did this was she wanted to show her books weren’t just about a helpless girl that couldn’t live without her boyfriend, but rather how a normal human would react in a world of superhumans.  Personal, I think it came across as trying too hard to not be a YA Paranormal Romance.  It’s not like that’s a bad thing, I mean 4 best-selling books and 5 blockbuster movies, that’s nothing to be ashamed of, just own it for what it is.

The characters seemed more shallow in this book.  Which is slightly understandable because Meyers tried to fit 4 books into 1.  I think she was relying on her audience to pull from the previous books for further understanding rather than making this one stand on it’s on two feet.  Logical, since only the people who have read and liked Twilight, will probably read this one.  She didn’t change any of the character traits, and only slightly tweaked the backstory to make sense for the altered genders.

The further I read this book, though, the more I wondered if she was going to leave the ending like the first one, which would only make the book a complete letdown.  Thankfully, she didn’t.  Rather than have Beau saved from the doom of eternity as a vampire, everyone arrives a split second too late and the only choice is to kill Beau or to let him turn into a vampire.  Obviously, Eddie chooses the second option and she spends the whole drive back to Forks explaining everything that was happening to Beau, Vampire rules, and what to expect.  While this is happening, some of the family is staging a terrible car accident that Beau “died” in so that his family can have closure.  Eddie and Beau watch the funeral from a tree and have a conversation jabbing fun at the original story and how they would get into so much trouble with the Volturi if Beau’s family ever found out he was a vampire.  The Quileute tribe does figure out that Beau became a Vampire and threaten to call of the treaty until Beau talks them out of it, and the Cullins and Eddie live happily ever after.

Thoughts as a Writer:

I actually enjoyed the story more as a writer than I did as a reader.  It’s an interesting writing exercise to take characters you’ve invested in and see what happens when you switch their genders.

In the End

I think it was meh.  Interesting for the writer, overplayed for the reader.  

10 Second Summary:

  1. Not a true gender swap: Not all the characters changed genders, which I think loses some of the storylines of the original. 
  2. Interesting writing exercise: I think I want to try this with some of my characters, I feel like it would help you when you get blocked just to try it from the viewpoint of another gender.
  3. Trying too hard to not be YA Paranormal Romance: Meyers said her story is about how humans handle a supernatural world.  Just accept that it is what it is and roll in your money.

Check the Shelf Review

Borrow.  If you like Twilight, you might find it interesting.

Want more books? Here are some like Life and Death:

Silver in the Blood


The School of Good and Evil Book Review: The one with princes, witches, and kidnapping

“Only once you destroy who you think you are can you embrace who you truly are”

The School for Good and Evil book review

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

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Publisher/Year: Harper Collins | May 14, 2013

Pages: 488

Series: The School for Good and Evil Book 1 of 3

Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy

Format: ebook

Source: Borrowed through Scribd

Amazon | Goodreads

Shannan’s Summary

Sophie and Agatha are best friends.  Agatha is perfectly happy with this.  One best friend a house in a cemetery where she won’t be bothered, comfortable and practical clothing, there is nothing more she needs in life.  Sophie, on the other hand, wants to be a princess.  She keeps a very strict beauty treatment, diets on cucumbers, and has befriended an evil person- Agatha.  So when it’s time for the schoolmaster to come and take one good child and one bad.  Sophie is convinced Agatha and herself will be the chosen ones, even if she has to make it happen herself.  

But life at the School of Good and Evil isn’t what either of them thought it would be, and Agatha seems to be the only one trying to get home.  If that’s even possible.

First Off…

I saw this in a Barnes and Noble when it first came out and was immediately intrigued, but was restricting my book buying at the time.  So when I tried out Scribd and saw it was there, I couldn’t stop myself from reading it. 

Thoughts as a Reader:

I loved this story because it’s does one of my favorite things in stories: lives in the gray zone.  While everyone at the school wants life to be black and white, good and evil, Sophie and Agatha make people question what that means. Through the whole story your left wondering who is good and who is bad, and just when you feel confident, something happens to change your mind.  Plus there’s the mysterious School Master that hides in his tower and seems to be on good’s side since they win everything all the time.

I loved all the characters in this book.  Agatha is so practical and down to earth, Sophie balances her as the dreamer with big plans.  Two girls that shouldn’t be friends, but try to cling to it through the hardest times.  Then there are all fairytale descendants.  All their school mates are the kids of sleeping beauty, prince charming, the witch who poisoned snow white and other well-known story characters.  And the kids are all hoping to have greater stories than their parents.

Thoughts as a Writer:

This story takes a different twist on the Fairytale retelling method.  It’s a second generation of the characters we are all familiar with.  Chainani does a great job switching between two main characters without the reader getting lost, something that can be challenging.  Not only that but the weaving of the characters, pulling the good and bad from each and blurring the lines makes the story break the rules the author set up for the world. This makes the reader always wonder what’s going on since the characters can’t or won’t live according to the rules.  Always a good storytelling method with built-in tension.

In the End

I can’t wait to finish the series.  Such a refreshing story in a saturated market.

10 Second Summary:

  1. Grey Zone: I love dealing with the less than consistent parts of life, that’s what this book does.
  2. Well written with two main characters: It can be difficult to write two main characters well, and this book does.
  3. Great supporting characters: The quirky characters is what makes this book shine.  

Check the Shelf Review

Hardback.  Can’t wait to finish the series.

Want more books?  Here are some like The School of Good and Evil:

Dealing with Dragons


Far Out Fairy Tales


Geek Girl Book Review: The one with a geek, a stalker, and models

Nobody really metamorphoses. Cinderella is always Cinderella, just in a nicer dress.

Geek Girl Book Review

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

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Harper Collins Children’s Books |  February 28, 2013

Pages: 378

Audiobook Publisher/Year: Harper Collins | January 27, 2015

Read By: Katey Sobey

Time: 8 hours and 2 minutes

Series: Geek Girl 1 of 5

Genre: Middle-Grade Contemporary

Format: Audiobook

Source: Overdrive through Cincinnati Library

Amazon | Goodreads

Shannan’s Summary

Harriet is a Geek. And she’s never contemplated changing until the opportunity arises.  When her best friend Natalie drags her to a fashion show, Harriet get’s discovered.  Harriet, of course, thinks this is ridiculous until it isn’t.  Maybe this is the life change she’s been looking for, the chance to be more than a Geek Girl.

First Off…

This is another book that I started just because I needed something to listen to and it was ready to borrow.

Thoughts as a Reader:

Harriet is a wonderful character.  She has the perfect mix of normal and quirk to make her an interesting character.  This book really is character driven, since the story line is simple on paper, but the characters are what you read this book for.  Harriet is a geek, so she knows weird facts and makes lists.  Her best friend, however, doesn’t care about all of that, rather Natalie wants to be a model.  Cue plot line when Harriet gets a modeling offer at Natalie’s top choice.  I loved how Harriet breaks the 4th wall and talks to the reader throughout this book.  All the little oddities she would bring up to connect to her life only made her more interesting. 

The other characters each had their own charm.  Natalie is the spunky best friend and Harriet’s stalker Toby add to her ragamuffin style.  Then there are the fashion people in the book, Wilbur is hysterical with his random descriptions like calling Harriet an Alien Duck.   There is also Nick, the male model Harriet is put with and the designer that signs Harriet.

I also enjoyed that there was no insta-love in this book.  There were hints of a relationship that might develop in the future, but the relationships were minimal in this one.  This book really comes down to the relationship of family and friends and the importance that plays in your life, even if you don’t realize it.

Thoughts as a Listener

This reader made the book so much better.  I love a good accent, and this one was perfect.  Sobey did a great job of making the character come off the page and added the right amount of wit, sarcasm, and personality to what the say.

Thoughts as a Writer

This book does a great job at moving the story along while still have these internal dialog moments.  The point of view is done well in spite of the difficulty of writing in first person that breaks the fourth wall. The way Smale writes the POV is refreshing and a strong method of characterization.   If you want a character that talks to the audience, this is definitely a book you want to read.


In the End

This book was such a refreshing read.  I can’t wait to finish the series.

10 Second Summary:

  1. Wonderfully unique characters: I can’t say how much I loved these characters and just their unusual nature. 
  2. Unusual Dialog: Between the lists and off wall comparisons and random facts, you don’t get bored in this book.
  3. Relationships: I like that this book focuses more on the relationships of friends and family than boy/girl relationships.  I think there aren’t enough books that dive into this area of life, especially in such an interesting way. 

Check the Shelf Review

Hardback.  I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did.  But I loved it.  Can’t wait to finish the series.

Want more books? Here are some like Geek Girl:
The Willoughbys
Dealing With Dragons




Throne of Glass Book Review: The one with Assassins, Magic Ruins, and Royals

“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”

Throne of Glass Book Review

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury USA Childrens | August 7, 2012

Pages: 432

Series: Throne of Glass Book 1 of 5

Genre: YA Fantasy

Format: ebook

Source: Own

Amazon | Goodreads

Shannan’s Summary

Celaena is given the chance of freedom from a work camp if she will compete to be the King’s champion.  Death is certain at the camp but she hates the king.  However freedom lies at the end of 6 years of servitude, and Celaena decides to take her chance with the king.  But the workcamp has made her week, and the competition is more trying than she anticipated.  But training is the least of her worries when someone starts killing off the contestants one by one.  Celaena is determined to get to the bottom of it before it’s her.

First Off…

My sister harassed me into reading this book.  

Thoughts as a Reader:

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book.  Once a book gets added to my TBR, I don’t reread the summary before I read the book.  So I go into most books blind.  However, it didn’t matter with this book because it had me from the beginning.  The assassin’s competition is a great new spin on the “death to the end” style story that has been popping up recently.  And it’s a strange one because even though all the people playing are “bad guys” you still care about some and at the same time think others deserve their fate.  Again, it’s the gray zone style story.

The story starts with Celaena being in a work camp and the prince offering her a way out through a competition to become the King’s Champion; aka assassin.  While Caelaena has no interest in helping the king, she knows her chances of escaping the work camp are slim, so she agrees, hoping to escape at her first chance.  While at the palace, she goes into training with Westfall, the captain of the guards, who is completely against her being there.  I loved all of the scenes with Westfall and Celaena, from their banter to their actual fights.  And it’s not done in a flirty insta-love kind of way.  It’s more two people that are just trying to figure each other out.  Westfall can’t understand how Celaena would become a world renowned thief and assassin.  Celaena doesn’t understand how Westfall could support such an evil king.

Everything seems to be going as planned until the murders start happening and the strange marks written around them.  These strange marks seem to show up around the palace as well, and supposedly, they have a connection to magic, which is illegal.  Caelaena decides since no one else seems curious about the marks, she would start learning their meaning, and maybe even discover the murderer.  The mystery of the magic still has me going.  I can’t wait to learn more about this piece of the world in the next books.

Maas develops a rich cast of characters through this book, major and minor, that make you want to know everything about them.  Celaena has a snarky wit about her, which I love.  But you can also tell she’s trying not to get hurt by caring too much, and you want to know why, and you want to see her open up to someone.  I liked that a true love triangle hasn’t formed.  There’s hints of it at the moment, but I like that Maas isn’t going for the insta-love method and will let the story between the three characters develop in a way where there truly are relationships. How those develop through the series, we’ll see.  The king is more of a minor character in how much the reader interacts with him, but his presence is thickly entwined to the other characters thoughts.  There are a couple other minor characters that still stick out in a way I know they will become more dominant as the series continues.

Thoughts as a Writer:

This book has a is a great first chapter.  My writers group talks almost every meeting about how to grab a reader from the beginning and this is a great example.  From the first sentence I was pulled in and wanted to know everything.  Maas does a great job stringing the reader along in a way where you’re always discovering something new and always being pulled along by something you want to discover.  And even with all the mystery of this book, it has a satisfying ending but still leaves enough questions that you want to immediately start the next book.

The way Maas develops the characters is well done.  Chaol has the quiet but stern demeanor of Captin of the Guard and Dorian the typical rich prince with no cares attitude, at least on the surface.  What is great is how they develop quickly into deeper characters, but it’s not through characters defending their personality or talking about their past necessarily.  Rather it’s through subtle interactions of how they react to their environments that develop the characters to more than a stereotype.  Which goes a lot to a “show don’t tell” writing ability.

In the End

I’m not sure why I didn’t pick this book up sooner.  Actually I know it’s because I didn’t want to have to wait for every book to come out, so I gave myself a little buffer.  But still.  I’ll be heading on to the second book soon.

10 Second Summary:

  1. In depth world: This world is new a different, and there’s still a lot the reader doesn’t know about it at the end of the first book, which is why there are a bunch more books.
  2. Characters: The characters are vivid and have great personality.  They really draw you into the story.
  3. Lot’s of action: I like that it’s a girl that likes to kick butt, is good at it, and has a little bit of an attitude.

Check the Shelf Review

Hardback, can’t wait to finish the series and have a lovely set on my shelves.

Want more books? Here are some like Throne of Glass:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Snow Like Ash


Check the Shelf Book Review: Flamewalker

Flamewalker book review

Flamewalker by Wendy Vogel

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Publisher/Year: Word Branch Publishing | April 24, 2015

Pages: 312

Series: Stand-Alone

Genre: Fantasy

Format: ebook

Source: Own

Amazon | Goodreads

Shannan’s Summary

Khalira passes through the flames, changed like no one else.  While some are not chosen, those that are only have one marking given to them by the Goddess, Khalira is marked head to toe.  Three abilities known, one no one has seen before.  As with any unknown, many don’t know how to react to here, some are intrigued, and others are jealous or fearful.  Khalira must navigate the unknown of her abilities with the unknown of a new home, all with darkness lurking just one country away.

First Off…

So many people in my writer’s group were talking about how much they liked this book, so I decided to bump it up my e-book tbr.

Thoughts as a Reader:

I almost feel like I need to reread the story for the review, it went so fast. It definitely didn’t feel like a 300 page book.  Vogel does a great job of keeping the story moving.  From beginning to end your captivated by the story and world that’s been created.  I loved that the story was driven by the actions of the characters, which feels rare in YA.  So often it seems to get lost in all the internal emotions that you get as frustrated as the characters.  With this story, though, I was able to connect with the characters and what was happening and how they were feeling without wanting to throw things.

I loved the magic system.  I always find it intruding when there is a system with a limited amount of outlets.  I personally think I would want to a Flamewalker.  I’ve never had much interest in reading minds or the medical career.  I also loved the “tattoos” that signified someone gifted.

This is a very fast paced story.  The action is the key to this story, it’s one thing after another.  You follow the main character Khalira through most of the book, with occasional interludes of a second character.  And while I prefer my stories are more action driving than character driving, I still would have liked to see a little more interaction between characters.   By the end of the book, that’s what I was what I was left wanting, more information about the characters, which really just makes it a good story.

Thoughts as a Writer:

One of the great pieces of this book is that you can clearly understand the point Vogel makes without her ever preaching it.  This is something that can be difficult, especially if you know on the front end the point you want to make.  The juxtaposition of the two characters I think is what makes this a seamless process, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions while still understanding the points Vogel wanted to make, all without disruption of the storytelling process. Vogel also does a good job of writing sensitive topics.  There are some sex and rape in the book, but Vogel writes about it in a way that let’s you know what’s going on, but without getting too graphic. 

The world is new and interesting.  Vogel does a great job of creating a unique magic system with guidelines and limitations.  Again, I think Juxtaposition can be difficult at times as a writer, but even with the world building, Vogel did a great job having to countries that brought tension and insight into her world in a way that made sense.  It’s similar to the world building that happens in Snow like Ash: Everyone has the same magic resource, but the way it is used provides different outcomes, in more ways than just good and bad people.

I think my one disappointment with the book was I wanted more world/character development.  What is in the book is great, but by the end, you just want more of the world and characters.  I think some of it desire comes from following two main characters so close.  There are other people that come and go through the book, but you don’t get to know them as well.  It lets you really connect with your main characters, but wishing you could know a few more people in the world.

In the End

This is a great story that leaves you satisfied with the ending, but still hoping for more.

10 Second Summary:

  1. Fast pace: this story is driven by action.  By the end of the book, you wonder how you got there so quickly.
  2. New kind of magic: This magic system is a new concept.  Three outlets of magic that can only be wielded by women.
  3. Some Sexual Violence: Vogel does a great job of keeping it conceptual without being detailed.  So the reader understands what’s happening without being lost in detailed brutality.

Check the Shelf Review

I’d have to say paperback on this one.  I wanted just a little more support character interaction, but it’s one I will definitely re-read.


Check the Shelf Book Review: Far Out Fairy Tales

Far Out Fairy Tales Book Review

Far Out Fairy Tales by Joey Comeau, Louise Simonson, Sean Tulien, Otis Frampton

Illustrated by Omar Lozano, Jimena Sanchez S, Fernando Cano

Publisher/Year: Capstone Stone Arch Books |  April 1, 2016

Pages: 176

Series: Stand Alone

Genre: Middle-Grade Graphic Novel, Twisted Fairytales 

Format: eBook

Source: Free From Publisher Through NetGalley (Thanks!)

Amazon | Goodreads

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. That did not sway my opinion in the least.

Shannan’s Summary

What would happen if one detail changed in the fairy tales we know so well, how would the story as a whole change? Far Out Fairy Tales takes 5 well-known fairy tales and twists them a little.  Cinderella becomes Ninja-rella, it’s Snow White and the Seven Robots, Red Riding hood is a superhero, Billy Goats Gruff is a video game and Hansel and Gretel and Zombies.  While the endings may be happy, the journey is a whole new experience.

First Off…

I’ve been getting into graphic novels over the past year, but I’m finding I prefer the non-traditional type of graphics and stories, so this book looked right up my alley.

The Story:

All the stories have an interesting take on a traditional fairy tale.  While in some ways they modernize the fairy tale, the don’t completely hit the nail on the head.  Since fairy tales were ways to warn and teach children of the dangers of the world, I always like when the subtle teaching aspect is left intact.  In these stories, they strip away a lot of the “insta-love” and “outward appearance” moments that most fairytales have and focus instead on internal beauty, resilience, and intelligence.  I did like that it gave strength to the girls and didn’t make them depend on a guy loving them for them to survive.  I also like that there were no romances, just straight friendship.

What seems lacking in this book is the diversity of characters.  Almost all the main characters are white (Billy Goats stay animals in their story.)  Ninja-rella was the one that made it obvious because all the main characters were white in a story set in an eastern Asia setting.  There were a few background characters that culturally represented, but that was the extent of it.  Snow white I can give them a little flexibility because they kept with the description, but when you’re the odd one out among a green-skinned alien race, I think you can write the girl any way you want.

All that aside, I did enjoy reading them and think the reimagining is one that makes the stories different enough to be interesting.  I found myself chuckling at points and really enjoyed the Billy Goats Gruff story since that’s not one you see redone often and it has a special place in my heart.

The book as a whole is a quick read, but I think it would be perfect for a kid that is struggling or doesn’t like reading.  This might be a great option to try and hook them.

The Writing

The writing is age appropriate and is in the smaller chunks typical of graphic novels.  It talks to the age of the kids without talking down to them.  I did like at the end it tells how the changed the original story and how the story has changed over the years.  It’s a concept that usually isn’t taught till upper grades in school, but is done in a way that younger readers can understand.

In the End

The reimaginings were fun and kept the whimsical nature of a Fairy Tale.  This is great for an elementary age kid that is starting to show interest in graphic novels or need a simpler reading structure.

10 Second Summary:

  1. Creative Retellings-  I really enjoyed the twists they put on these stories.  It really modernized them without losing the original concept
  2. Strong Female Characters– The typically helpless girls are given their strength back in these stories.
  3. Lacks Racial Diversity–  Everyone is white.  Some more diversity would be nice.

Check the Shelf Review

Overall I would say Paperback.  I think kids starting to read on their own would love it.  And it would even be a good read -together book for kids and parents.


Bookish Belongings: Hunger Games

Bookish Belongings

In honor of the Mockingjay PT 2 release Let’s look at some Hunger Games inspired items for all the tributes out there.

CINNA told me. The Hunger Games inspired. 2 colors Oversize Fashionable Blouse. Very silky & soft. Woman's T-shirt. Gift for her. MOCKINGJAY

That’s about my speed as far as fashion goes.  I <3 Cinna.

Crochet Huntress Crossbody Cowl // Hunger Games Inspired // Katniss Cowl // District 12 // Mockingjay Cowl // Archer Cowl // Chunky Cowl

Who didn’t want one of these as soon as they saw it?

Hunger Games Inspired Locket Peeta's Pearl

A pearl keeper. Such a small thing that speaks volumes.

Hunger Games Inspired - Peeta Mellark Bakery Vintage Poster ("Grand Reopening")

Some wall art that only a fan will understand.

Hunger games inspired double sided pendant REAL Not Real

Real or Not Real.  I wish they had done more with this in the movie.

Hunger Games quote " may the odds be ever in your favor" reclaimed wood sign

More wall art.  Love simplicity of this, as it’s the simplest phrase in the story that says the most about the world.

Hunger games Distopian magnetic bookmark

Some Hunger Games character bookmarks.

Mockingjay Bookmark

Or if you want something a little more classy to mark your pages.

Peeta candle - Hunger Games Inspired - hand poured 8 oz Soy Candle - Home Decor

And make it a full sensory experience, add a candle to your watching party.

Top of the TBR List: February

Top of the TBR List

I added so many books to my TBR list this month, I’m only going to go with the top 10.  But you can always check out my shelf.

The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Goodreads | Amazon

The Girl with All the Gifts

Goodreads Summery

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

Where I found it

Book Riot was talking about it on one of their podcasts.  I think half my TBRs come from their podcasts.

Why I Added It

I was so intrigued by the fact the couldn’t say much or it would give away the story.  All the summarys are that mysterious as well, so it’s ont the list.


The Fog Diver by Joel Ross

Goodreads | Amazon

The Fog Diver

Goodreads Summery

Joel Ross debuts a thrilling adventure series in which living in the sky is the new reality and a few determined slum kids just might become heroes. This Texas Bluebonnet selection—a fantasy filled with daring and hope and a wonderfully imaginative world—is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull.

Once the Fog started rising, the earth was covered with a deadly white mist until nothing remained but the mountaintops. Now humanity clings to its highest peaks, called the Rooftop, where the wealthy Five Families rule over the lower slopes and floating junkyards.

Thirteen-year-old Chess and his friends Hazel, Bea, and Swedish sail their rickety air raft over the deadly Fog, scavenging the ruins for anything they can sell to survive. But now survival isn’t enough. They must risk everything to get to the miraculous city of Port Oro, the only place where their beloved Mrs. E can be cured of fogsickness. Yet the ruthless Lord Kodoc is hot on their trail, for Chess has a precious secret, one that Kodoc is desperate to use against him. Now Chess will face any danger to protect his friends, even if it means confronting what he fears the most.

Where I found it

I think I found this by cruising the lists on Goodreads.

Why I Added It

Middle-Grade Steampunk.  That’s it.


Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Goodreads | Amazon


Goodreads Summery

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

Where I found it

The bookish blog-o-sphere. I think this author review is what really put it on my radar, though.

Why I Added It

So many blogs were reviewing this one and they all made it sound great.

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Goodreads | Amazon

The Forgetting

Goodreads Summery

What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes. Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories — of parents, children, love, life, and self — are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

Where I found it

Icey Books did a “Waiting on Wednesday” that highlighted this book since it doesn’t come out till the fall.

Why I Added It

The cover caught my eye, but the story sounds so interesting:  only what is written is remember.  Can’t wait.

Riverkeep by Marin Stwart

Goodreads | Amazon


Goodreads Summery

A stunning debut perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and Neil Gaiman!

The Danék is a wild, treacherous river, and the Fobisher family has tended it for generations—clearing it of ice and weed, making sure boats can get through, and fishing corpses from its bleak depths. Wulliam’s father, the current Riverkeep, is proud of this work. Wull dreads it. And in one week, when he comes of age, he will have to take over.
Then the unthinkable happens. While recovering a drowned man, Wull’s father is pulled under—and when he emerges, he is no longer himself. A dark spirit possesses him, devouring him from the inside. In an instant, Wull is Riverkeep. And he must care for his father, too.
When he hears that a cure for his father lurks in the belly of a great sea-dwelling beast known as the mormorach, he embarks on an epic journey down the river that his family has so long protected—but never explored. Along the way, he faces death in any number of ways, meets people and creatures touched by magic and madness and alchemy, and finds courage he never knew he possessed.
Martin Stewart’s debut novel is an astonishing blend of the literary, the comedic, and the emotionally resonant. In a sentence, it’s The Wizard of Oz as told by Patrick Ness. It marks the beginning of a remarkable career.

Where I found it

This was another one I found through Icey Books.

Why I Added It

Again, another great cover.  But really it’s got magic, an epic journey, and sounds like it deals with the darker side of life.

Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Goodreads | Amazon

 Reign of Shadows

Goodreads Summery

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Where I found it

Gun in Act One turned me onto this book.

Why I Added It

Rapunzel is one of my favorite traditional stories because it’s one of the few that have a happier ending in spite of difficulties. And I’m a sucker for a retelling, so it’s on the list.

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Goodreads | Amazon

 Revenge and the Wild

Goodreads Summery

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

Where I found it

This popped up while I was hanging out in GoodReads.

Why I Added It

It’s like a steampunk wild west story. Sounds good to me.

Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth

Goodreads | Amazon

Take The Fall

Goodreads Summery

Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information…could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement, and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been?

Where I found it

I think this was a Goodreads find as well.

Why I Added It

I’m trying to read more outside of my typical.  This is more contemporary, but I think the mystery will keep me interested.

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

Goodreads | Amazon

 Black Rabbit Hall

Goodreads Summery

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate, where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, of course, it does.

More than three decades later, Lorna is determined to be married within the grand, ivy-covered walls of Pencraw Hall, known as Black Rabbit Hall among the locals. But as she’s drawn deeper into the overgrown grounds, half-buried memories of her mother begin to surface and Lorna soon finds herself ensnared within the manor’s labyrinthine history, overcome with an insatiable need for answers about her own past and that of the once-happy family whose memory still haunts the estate.

Where I found it

Goodreads.  Another place that is bad for my TBR shelf.

Why I Added It

Sounds like a creepy mystery where you’re questioning reality.  While I usually can’t handle this stuff in movies, I love books like this.

A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

Goodreads | Amazon

 A Criminal Magic

Goodreads Summery

It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

Where I found it

Icey Books!  I think we must have similar tastes.  Plus the stylin’ desktop quote graphic caught my eye.

Why I Added It

The twist on the past sounds great.  And there’s magic.

Cover Love: Gold Lettering

Cover Love


So I thought I’d take a look through my TBR books and see what’s happening in the cover world.  Books go through fashion trends too if you didn’t know.  For this Cover Love I thought I’d pick out some books with Gold Lettering.  Which one’s your favorite?

Revenge and the Wild

 Goodreads Summary:

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms, #1)
Goodreads Summary:

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands, #1)
GoodReads Summery:

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.


Of Fire and Stars
Goodreads Summary:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

So what covers have you been loving lately?