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A creative space for all things books and writing….

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2018 Reading Challenge Complete!!!

as of 4/24/18

Earlier this week, I reached my goal of 50 books to read this year as a part of the Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. I did not expect to finish so soon in the year as it took me far longer last year with a 30-book goal.

The past two months I’ve just been whisking through books one after another in short periods of time. Also, I read a lot of manga of which I devoured three to four volumes in a day at a time. There’s been just so many good reads that have held my attention regardless of the post-read ratings.

Below you’ll find all of the titles I’ve read for the challenge up until the goal reached. This includes book I haven’t official reviewed yet as well as 10 post-read thoughts and review excerpts.



Black Butler by Yana Toboso, Translated by Tomo Kimura
(read during challenge: Volumes 1-18)
(Volume 1 Review)

Volume 1 Image via Goodreads

I am enjoying this manga immensely. I had planned to pace the reading of this out but it’s just too good that I kept checking out volume after volume from the library. There’s just so much…right with this manga and the art is absolutely gorgeous.

Volume 1 Review Excerpt: “I really like this manga. I love each character – the main characters are so charming, especially Sebastian and Ciel! I love all the humor throughout – I laughed a lot. And I was completely surprised at every turn.”


Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, Translated by Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley
(read during challenge: Volumes 1-16)
(Volumes 1-5 combined review)



Baby, I’m Howling For You by Christine Warren (ARC)
Alphaville, book 1

Image via NetGalley

I can definitely get behind this series. Shifters – wolves in particular – are my favorite of the paranormal/supernatural sub-genre. This book was just too too good and I need to read book 2 asap!

Review Excerpt: “First off, I fell head over heels over the fact that Renny is a librarian and Mick is a graphic novelist. *insert book-nerdish swoon* That alone deserves all the stars in the world. But of course, that was the cherry atop the sundae for my love of these two characters.”


Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (ARC)

Fade to Us by Julia Day (ARC)

Image via NetGalley

There’s so much to love and admire about this novel, specifically the sister-sister relationship that develops. Brooke and Natalie make this book: from the conflict with each other to the conflict they have with other people to the conflict they have with themselves.

Review Excerpt: “Great story. Wonderful characters. Pretty cover. Awesome that musical theater was involved. And loved the sister-sister relationship. Fade to Us deserves a standing ovation. Brava, Julia Day, brava!”


Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews, Illustrated by Colleen Madden (NetGalley)

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen (ARC)

Image via NetGalley

For laughs, cats, telling memes, and insightful art, I highly recommend reading this graphic novel. It’s so light and funny but unapologetically serious about the life of an introvert and arts.

Review Excerpt: “Fantastic. Hilarious. Just what a creative person (and everyone) needs to hear and see. Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen is an art and narrative to be experienced.”


Blood Veil by Megan Erickson (ARC review)

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela (NetGalley review)

Image via Goodreads

I think this a novel to be added onto every TBR list if you like middle grade novels. Young readers will learn about perseverance, self-worth, failure, triumph, friendship, and a whole host of new vocabulary words. It’s a great story told really well.

Review Excerpt: “Truly…a stupendously sweet and spectacular story…It’s light, charming, wholesome, and educational”


Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long (ARC Review Coming Soon)
Startup Fiancé by Shilpa Mudiganti (NetGalley Review Coming Soon)



Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Image via Goodreads

The YA narrative version of the song “This Is Me” in a nutshell. The struggles experienced and message that saturates this novel are truths that ring long past the story is over. I can’t help but reflect when I think about this novel: that in-your-face awareness of the flaws you perceived to be true and the flaws others see in you they believe to be true until you reach that moment when you realize you are human. This was just a really poignant YA novel and fantastic read.

Review Excerpt:Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is written with grace and style, creating a daring and enriching story that reminds you that you are wanted.”


Slammed by Colleen Hoover
The Winter King by C. L. Wilson
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
The Numair Chronicles, book 1

Image via Goodreads

The nostalgia is real! I am in love with the writing and how the story was told. The author has truly outdone herself this time. I just need to know what happens next now. 2019 (the expected publication year) is so far away.

Review Excerpt: “The story I’ve been waiting to read for years did not disappoint. Nostalgic, exhilarating, tumultuous, and bittersweet; I am left one very happy reader.”

Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce
(with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, Megan Messinger)

Image via Goodreads

I never thought I’d enjoy what is essentially a compilation text book, but this was so captivating to read. I learned so much more about George’s work and the world of Tortall – too much to remember, but still! This was perfect to read after spending years reading all of Pierce’s other books.

Review Excerpt: “But I really enjoyed reading more about one of my favorite fantasy worlds. It was a pleasant and delightful reading experience – so compelling I could hardly put it down.”


Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Image via Goodreads

I went through a back and forth with this book before even picking it up. At first, I was looking forward to reading it, then I wasn’t sure if I still wanted to read it, then I was like I think I do want to read it, and then I was back on the I-want-to read-but-don’t-know-when-I’ll-get-to-read-it phase. It wasn’t until there came a stretch of days where I needed (ahahaha, I always “need” a book to read) a quick read and decided on this. I’m so happy I did because it was better than I thought it was going to be. The book just made my admiration for John Green soar higher. Turtles All The Way Down is an incredibly brilliant story I’d recommend to everyone.

Review Excerpt: “Aza is a fantastic character and individual…Her narrative is incredibly raw and, in my opinion, an accurate representation of what the inside of a truly anxious mind looks and feels like. “


Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan
The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan
The Caldera by John Flanagan


2nd Reads

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper, book 3

Image via Goodreads

This is how you craft an intricate, captivating plot with highly compelling characters smack-dab in the middle of a beautifully created fantasy world where the stakes are higher than ever. I love this series but this book in particular I just love so much.

Review Excerpt:Mastiff is one of those stories that stays with you long after the story is over. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. I loved it even more the second time around, though it didn’t make dealing with the conflict of the story any easier. Still, Mastiff is a book that will easily exceed all expectations.”


A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland

If you’ve taken up Goodreads’ challenge, how far along are you currently? What books are you hoping to get through before the year is out? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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NetGalley Book Review: Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews, Illustrated by Colleen Madden

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson: CHILDREN’S for providing me with an e-copy to read and review. Henry Hodges Needs a Friend was published March 3, 2015.


Image via NetGalley

Genre: Picture Book, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Recommend to Others?: Unsure


Summary (via NetGalley):
From the author of The Kid Who Changed the World, this hilarious rhyming story, complete with charming art, offers comfort to children who often feel left out or are in need of a good friend.

At some point, almost every child struggles with feeling like they don’t fit in or are left out—just like Henry Hodges. Henry is a lonely little boy on a lonely little street who longs for a friend. One day, his mother and father take him to a pet rescue shelter and his lonely world is changed! Told in a playful rhyme with adorable illustrations, this book will be a favorite among children and parents who love dogs and, ultimately, will comfort and encourage children who struggle with feeling accepted and finding friends.
Kids will want to read this whimsical and imaginative story again and again!


My Review:
This book was okay but I’m not sure about the overall impressions I get from it. Henry is bored, lonely, and without a friend nearby. His parents decide to get him a pet. I’m all for getting a pet for your kid to be friends with (having a pet has many benefits) but why doesn’t Henry just invite friends over from time to time or go to their house?Just seems like there’s something missing from the story and it leaves me skeptical.

The illustrations are fantastic. They’re so smooth, bright and colorful. I did laugh at the funny imaginings Henry had of what his new friend might be like. The narrative told in couplets/abab rhyme scheme was a nice touch as well.


5 Movies I Didn’t Know Were Books FIRST

There are movies I’ve seen and loved that I didn’t know where books first, which always made for shocking discoveries. I don’t think I truly knew what adaptations were until maybe high school. But now I’m more conscious of this. However, it is fascinating to look at the adaptation history of a particular work. Adaptations in general are a really interesting subject to read about.

So here are 5 randomly chosen movies I didn’t know were books first:

#1: Where The Wild Things Are (by Maurice Sendak)
#2: The Help (by Kathryn Stockett)
#3: A Walk To Remember (by Nicholas Sparks)
#4: Eat, Pray, Love (by Elizabeth Gilbert)
#5: Bridget Jones’s Diary (by Helen Fielding)

I’ve only watched the movie for #2 and #3, have never read any of these books, but I’ve heard of all of these movies and authors (except for Kathryn Stockett, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Helen Fielding). I’ve been meaning to watch Bridget Jones’s Diary – because I like Colin Firth and Renée Zellweger – but just haven’t found the time (maybe I’ll read the book first?). And I do plan to read Where The Wild Things Are at some point because it’s a classic. Perhaps 2018 will be the year.

Which of these titles do you recommend I watch and/or read? Are there any movies you’ve seen that you didn’t know were books first? Let me know in the comments below.


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Picture Book: “Dale’s Bedtime Story” by Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner (TEXT ONLY)

Dale’s Bedtime Story by Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner
© Jan/Feb 2017

*slightly edited from original text

Dale is a good little boy…but very adventurous. He can be quite the handful. Dale had a habit of exploring and getting into things he shouldn’t. His parents chased after him all day long.

Late one night, his parents finally got Dale ready for bed.

“Okay, kiddo,” his father said. He cleared his throat. “Time for a bedtime story.”

“So your father and I – I mean, you –  can go to sleep…finally.” His mother whispered the last bit to herself.

Dale looked at his parents’ tired expressions with a sad frown on his face. “I want to tell you a bedtime story!” Dale said. He scooted to the end of the bed. “This is the most amazing, fantastical, coolest story ever to be told!” He cleared his throat the same way his father always did before telling a story and began.

“Once upon a time, there was a knight named Dad who was very brave and nice and strong and had a mighty sharp sword and could shoot lasers out of his eyes. He was the best of the best, which is why he sometimes wasn’t invited to play checkers with the other knights.

“People loved him because he could destroy all the monsters and eat a whole chocolate cake by himself. But he was very lonely like a foot without a sock to keep it warm. Every knight but him had a lady who they loved with all their hearts. Sir Dad had no one, which made him feel oh-so sad. You can’t be a true knight without a lady, he thought.

“One day, he was riding his trusty horse, Edgar the Handsomest, when – as he was about to pass a tree – he heard a cry for help. He looked around wondering where the sound was coming from. Someone called to him again. He thought it was the tree. ‘Do you need help, Mr. Tree?’ Dad asked the large tree.

“‘Up here, sir knight! It was me!’ a voice cried from above.

“The knight looked up and saw a frightened lady clinging to the tree trunk. She wore only one sock. ‘Good lady,’ he called. ‘How did you get up there?’

“‘A cat stole my sock and ran up this tree,’ she replied. ‘So I climbed the tree to get it back but the cat jumped down and ran away. I got stuck because I do not like heights. Can you help me?’

“Dad leapt off his horse and struck a knightly pose. ‘Don’t worry, my lady. I will save you!’ he promised.

“The knight took out a jet-pack, flew up into the tree, and rescued the lady.

“They were both very happy to see each other. So happy that…”

Dale trailed off when he heard snoring. Both his parents had fallen asleep. He smiled, then cautiously crawled back into his spot in between them. “So happy that Sir Dad gave Lady Mom a spare sock he had and they fell madly in love,” Dale continued, whispering now. “They rode away on the horse, went home, and got married. They started a family and had a little boy named Prince Dale…who deep down loved his Mom and Dad very much…” He yawned and his eyes began to droop. “And they all lived happily…ever…after. The end.” And soon, Dale fell asleep as well.



Reading 2017: Best of Picture Books

It’s a tie for the #1 spot in this category…


The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Pictures by Oliver Jeffers

Image via Goodreads


The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems

Image via Scholastic

Both books are really good in their own special way. What I like most about them is how hilarious the stories are. They’re just brilliantly told picture books. The Day the Crayons Quit made me think of my childhood – I loved drawing with crayons as a kid. And The Pigeon Wants A Puppy! is just so silly it’s funny.

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Book Review: Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction
Series: Mouse Books
Rating: 4/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


Summary (via Goodreads):
Mr. Slinger has big news.
He’s getting married.

Lilly has big plans.
She’s going to be the flower girl.
(Lilly has always wanted to be a flower girl.
Even more than a surgeon or a diva or a hairdresser.)

But what’s the biggest,
the best,
the most perfect thing of all?
You’re invited to the wedding — so start reading!


My Review:
I’m a big fan of Kevin Henkes’s books. He’s a very talented storyteller and artist. Lilly’s Big Day was a wonderful and funny read. I just adore Lilly’s character and how determined she is to be the best flower girl ever. Once she gets an idea in her head she doesn’t let it go – no counterargument can dissuade her. And it’s funny how she seems to be more excited about the wedding than Mr. Slinger (her teacher). Her excitement about the occasion is very infectious. I couldn’t wait to read what would happen next.