Friday, March 31, 2017

Anticipated April 2017 Releases

Do you ever get the feeling that every new release is a copy of something you've already read - several times over? It's starting to feel like there are a handful of stories that are being bastardized and resold as new releases. I never really noticed it before but maybe that's why I tended to avoid new releases?

So, in case you haven't guessed it, April's new releases left me wanting. Here's my meager list:

After You Left

Release Date: 4/1/17

I'm not even real sold on this one, to be honest, but maybe it will be good. Husband inexplicably leaves wife on their honeymoon. Wife is haunted by the reason behind his departure, meets another woman whose sad story mirrors her own. Can wife solve the question that plagues her?

Spindle Fire

Release Date: 4/11/17

This one had me at fantasy. Sisters and fairies and tithing your senses to the fae....sounds like a recipe for awesomeness. We'll see though, I've been disappointed MANY times in recent months.

Note: this post contains affiliate links to Amazon. You will not be charged any extra for purchasing through these links but I do receive some money back when you do (that helps me keep this blog up and running)!

April's Book Reviews

Incidentally, this month is School Library Month and the celebration of Teen Literature Day so I'll only be reviewing "teen" books during April AND, I may have a guest reviewer for a few posts!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

One word: Awesome.

The Roanoke Girls is the right combination of disturbing and delightful. Realistic and reasonably flawed characters converge in this dramatic novel about a family with more secrets than it can contain.

Centering around Lane Roanoke as she returns to a home she fled eleven years, the story alternates between "then" and "now." Then refers to the summer after Lane's mother committed suicide and she was sent to live with the grandparents she'd never known. Now details the reason for Lane's return - her cousin Allegra's disappearance - and everything that transpires in the search for what happened to the missing Roanoke girl.

The Verdict

I can't give away anymore without ruining the mystery but I finished The Roanoke Girls in a matter of hours and it only took that long because my kids are on Spring Break.

**This post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase through these links you will not be charged extra but we may get a small commission for the referral. Thank you for supporting our blog!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review: Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick

Mister Memory is a beautifully written, character driven mystery.

Set in 1890s Paris, Mister Memory follows the tale of Marcel Depres down an unlikely path involving marriage, death, imprisonment, and an asylum. All of his experiences center around his perfect memory. That's right, a perfect memory. Marcel forgets nothing. In fact, he can recall every moment of his life in perfect detail.

It may sound awesome but the reader soon learns that Marcel's perfect memory comes at a cost and has led him down his terrible path. It's up to a doctor and a few police officers to unravel the puzzle.

The Verdict on Mister Memory

Memorable characters and an incredible story that keeps you guessing make this a must read.

Up Next

The Roanoke Girls: A Novel by Amy Engel
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity) by Victoria Schwab
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim: 1 by Shane Peacock

If you have suggestions for our reading list, please email them to Thanks for reading!

**This post contains affiliate links, should you choose to purchase through these links you will not be charged extra but we receive a small commission for the referral through our site. Thanks for supporting this site!!!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Why I Prefer a Good Book to a Man

If I had a nickel for every time somebody told me "it's time to move on, get back in the game," I'd no longer be peddling my services, doing my own laundry, or even driving a modest car.

I am a divorcee. Nothing about the dissolution of my marriage was pleasant. I can't boast a "healthy, we are still friends" mentality because it would be a lie. I'm happy for people who can remain friends with their exes and still do amazing things for them. That's not in the cards for me. But, I'm not going into all of that, it's only a blip on the radar when it comes to this topic. It's merely the foundation for this post because it is the first time in my life that people are really pushing me to "find a man."

I've had more than my fair share of relationships since I started dating. None of them have ended with a happily ever after, even the one I really believed would. 

Since I was a little girl, books have been there to transport me far from all of my troubles. The years since my divorce have been no different. In fact, I've regrown my personal library and formed a healthy attachment with my local library system that I never had before.

See how excited I was to read to my Great Grandma?

But, don't you want somebody to talk to?

I have journals for that. I talk and talk and talk until I run out of pages and then, guess what, there is another shiny new journal ready to hear my deepest, darkest thoughts without judgment.

But, don't you want a REAL person to talk to, to bounce ideas off of? 

I have those people, they are trusted friends and family who have proven their loyalty and unconditional love. These few people tell me when I'm being an idiot and when I'm onto something spectacular. And, these magical people bring me books!

I loved to read when we went camping!

But, don't you want somebody to touch you? 

Listen, I get physical affection from the people mentioned above, sure, I miss some aspects but there are ways to achieve the same result without having to pretend I'm enjoying things I'm really not. Books can evoke the same level of excitement and all I have to stroke on them are the pages as I'm turning them. And, the best part is, I can basically be a harlot and have as many lovers as I like because I can't cheat on a book and they can't cheat on me. Isn't that lovely?

You just haven't met the right man, someday you will and all of this will be bullshit. 

I beg to differ. I've met a lot of men, LOTS, and at my age, the pickings are slim because many men are taken or not down with helping to raise another man's kids. I respect that. I'm also not down with adding more of anything to my life. 

Further, by insinuating that I have to have a man in my life to be complete people are saying that I am somehow incomplete. I don't feel that way anymore (though I did when I was married). I almost lost myself entirely trying to make something work that just didn't. Now, armed with a good book and a cup of coffee (or pint of beer or glass of wine, I'm not picky) I feel more complete and confident in my choice to spend a Friday night at home than I ever did before. 

My reading nook....isn't it pretty?

You sound anti-love and full of bitterness and hate - you need to see somebody about that.

Screw you. I am not bitter, I am not full of hate, and I am not anti-love. I am thrilled for all of my friends who are pairing up, moving in together, getting married, and everything else. I fully support their happiness and hope that they will in turn support my choices. 

And I have love. I have two kids who think I'm perfect (I'm not, believe me, I'm trying HARD to convince them of my imperfection before the image is shattered and they feel betrayed). My parents are supportive in every way imaginable. I have siblings and friends who I love dearly and love me in return. There is no room in my life for bitterness but I do hate some things, like close-minded people, ignorance, intolerance, cruelty, you know, that kind of stuff.

I guess what I'm saying is that I prefer a good book to a man because:
  • A good book will never cheat on me, leave me (unless I lend it to somebody and then, like a boomerang, it comes back), or make me feel lesser. 
  • A good book will entertain me, transport me to places I can't afford to travel to right now, teach me, inspire me, and encourage me.

Friday, March 24, 2017

National Tolkien Reading Day!

On March 25th we celebrate one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time - J.R.R. Tolkien. His books have been a part of "geek" culture for decades and even sparked two major movie trilogies. Oh! Wait, let's not forget the animated versions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Started by The Tolkien Society in 2003, National Tolkien Reading Day coincides with the fall of The Lord of the Rings (a.k.a. Sauron who's actually not even the biggest bad to ever terrorize Middle Earth). The point is to encourage people to read Tolkien's works and share their favorite passages.

Just one of the many ways The Tolkien Society seeks to spread the love of all things Tolkien, March 25th has come to mean a little something to me. Tolkien's works have left a mark on me, inspired me, and encouraged me when I needed it most.

Incidentally, one of my favorite passages is from The Return of the King when Eowyn faces the Nazgul.

"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"

A cold voice answered: "Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and they shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."

A sword rang as it was drawn. "Do what you will; but I will hinder it if I may."

"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. "But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him."

Of course, the passage continues with Eowyn's triumph over the dark rider of Sauron. These pages in my copy of Return are just a bit more worn than some of the others. It is in these pages that Eowyn shows her worth, and the worth of women as other than beautiful objects.

Looking for something Tolkien for your collection? Try one of these gems:

Note, these are affiliate links and by using them to purchase through Amazon you will not be charged extra but we receive a little back that we use to keep this awesome blog up and running!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review: The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

Another of my anticipated releases that failed to deliver.

Honestly, I don't understand how these books are being published. The Beast is an Animal sounded amazing but just didn't come through. I mean, come on, soul eaters, a Beast, and a haunted forest - what could go wrong?

A lot.

The main character, Alys, is thankfully not a whiny tween but her awkwardness is hard to believe given her life experience. I found the twin sisters intriguing but their chapters were painfully short and couldn't make up for the time I spent with the mundanes.

This book could have been great, really, but there was little development where it was needed and overdevelopment where it wasn't. Normally, I'm stoked when characters die left and right in interesting ways but that didn't really happen here past the first few chapters.

Then there were the time jumps that occurred in the middle of a chapter for no real reason. Poor pacing jarred me from the story multiple times and I was beyond annoyed by the little "tics" like double ff for everything that started with F.

The Verdict

Again, I'm sure there's a crowd for this book but it is NOT me. I'm not even passing this one on to my daughter when we swap reads so I have to hurry up and read another book before she finishes hers.

**Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase this book from Amazon using the above link, you will not be charged extra but we get a little money back that we use to keep the blog operating!

Next up: Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book Review: Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri


Excellent characters and stunning descriptions highlight this warped psychological thriller that kept me glued to the pages. It took me a little longer than usual to finish because I found myself re-reading especially ingenious passages and dialogue exchanges.

Given the horrendous luck I've had with newer releases lately, this could not have been a more refreshing change of pace. I was sucked in from the very beginning and that is a rarity for me, again, something I very much appreciated. I've been singing the praises of this book since I started it just a few days ago and I think, perhaps, that some of my friends are sick of hearing about it.


The gist is that two people, a cop on leave and a claustrophobic former kidnapping victim, are pulled together to face a true terror that threatens their lives and the lives of everyone they come in contact with. Past sins are revisited as the pair are plunged into a world of shady characters and large scale coverups. I truly wish I could say more but I don't want to give too much away and you really wouldn't thank me for spoilers in this case.

Just read it. Do it. Now. Even if you don't use the link above (to Amazon who won't charge you any extra for using the link but will give me a little money back that I just use to keep my blogs up and running), check it out from your local library and experience the thrill of Kill the Father.

The Verdict

One of the best books I've read in recent years. I recommend this book for thriller lovers - especially those who appreciate more psychological thrillers.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

St. Patrick's Day!!!

This is one of my favorite days of the year.

I love the attire, I love the excitement, and, most of all, I love the beer. I've been to Chicago for their St. Patrick's celebration and saw the river dyed green. I've partied in Seattle with some of the most amazing coworkers I've ever known. Most years, I've kept it low-key, decked out in green and toasting green beer with friends.

St. Patrick's Day 2012 with my daughter and Curious George!

This year will be another low-key year but that doesn't mean I won't have fun. I fully intend to cherish St. Patrick's Day as I always have, decked out in green, downing Guinness, and laughing with friends.

Curious about the cupcake in the photo? Check out my amazing Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Icing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Book Review: The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine

The second Ravenspire novel highlights a voluptuous Princess Arianna (who is a fairy tale foodie) and twin to fledgling King Thaddeus. What Arianna (Ari) doesn't know is that her brother only gained the throne by making a wish with The Wish Granter. There's a lot more to it, of course, but it is a very refreshing take on Rumplestiltskin.

Princess Arianna is NOT your typical princess. She's headstrong, intelligent, and fierce. I'm not certain she's not dancing that fine line of a Mary Sue character, but, *shrug* the story was still entertaining and I finished it in a matter of hours.

The love interest, Sebastian, has a difficult past of his own and maybe falls too easily for Princess Ari, but again, how do I complain about an interesting story? Sebastian's story and his familial problems are an instrument to move the story along but also could have used more development.

Allistair Teague (aka Rumplestiltskin) is ruthless, power-hungry, and like all fairy tale villains, damaged in ways most folks just can't comprehend. He's warped, twisted, and probably the most intriguing part of the book.

Bottom Line

It wasn't as good as The Shadow Queen but it was better than so many of the crap teen novels we've been reading in this house. I'd still say it's worth the read.

Here's the link for The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire) because you definitely want to start there. As usual, the links in this post are affiliate links to Amazon. You won't be charged extra but if you choose to purchase through any of these links, I happen to get a little money back.

Next Up

Yeah, I know, I was supposed to be reviewing Kill the Father today. Sadly, more people want to read The Wish Granter than Kill the Father so I have to get the former back to the library meaning the latter had to be bumped just a bit. I will still finish it this week!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Book Review: Indelible by Adelia Saunders

The Premise

This was one of my anticipated releases based on the blurb indicating that Magdalena, born with the ability to see words written on people's skin (that nobody else can see) meets a guy with her name on his face and the story evolves from there. Sounds interesting, right?

Meh. That's about the most I can say.

I appreciate the author's elegant style but found the book as a whole to be rather boring. There were chapters that I just couldn't make myself care about, consequently, a book that should have taken me a few hours took twice that long.

The Verdict

I'm annoyed with the way authors are drawing out the first two acts of a story and then rushing the final act. Indelible was no exception to this trend. I can see how some people would enjoy it and there is certainly a very specific audience who would love it, but I didn't.

Next up: The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine and Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri

As always, this post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to buy via these links to Amazon, you won't be charged any extra but I do get a bit of money back that I use to keep the blog up and running.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Review: Always by Sarah Jio

I wanted to love it. I really did.

Set in my beloved Seattle, half of it during a time period that meant a great deal to me, I really wanted to fall head over heels in love with this book. The writing style is easy and I felt this insane sense of nostalgia between the music and the city.

But, I never managed to connect to the main character.

In fact, I hated her. I hated Kailey for being such an idiot.

Why did she rush right into calling other people - the wrong people - to "help" her with something she didn't even understand yet? Ugh. Her actions and reactions were ridiculous. At one point, I just wanted to scream "just tell your damn fiancé already because it's not building tension, it's f'ing dumb and unrealistic." I swear, I have no tolerance for people with no common sense so I'm not going to go ga-ga over a character with less than that.

I'm sure some people will love it. I'm sure all those sweet romance lovers are tripping over themselves to read it and I say, good on you, you'll love it! But, for cynical little me, it only inspired my gag reflex.

Maybe some of her other stuff is better, I don't know. I like her writing style, is easy and clean, but when you just can't connect with the main character.....well, you get the drift. If you're interested, here are links to some of her other books. As always, these are affiliate links to Amazon, you won't be charged extra but should you purchase through these links, I get a little money back and it all goes back into my blogging.

Next up: Indelible by Adelia Saunders

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 8th is International Women's Day


I love the hashtag this year. I love that there is an international day for women, a push toward gender parity.

Still, it feels as though we as a gender are further from parity than we were ten years ago. It concerns me that for every advance we make there is such a backslide. I will never understand why people worry so much about what other people are doing, how other people are dressing (or not dressing) and, even what bathroom people use. Meanwhile, kids are starving and uneducated all over the world, the environment is being crippled, and the disparity in pay and corporate and political representation between the genders remains a shocking injustice.

But, Violet, aren't you afraid people will be annoyed by this post and perceive you as "just another feminist mouthpiece?"

No. No, I'm not. The people who read this and recoil or lash out are not my people. The people I hope read this share the basic belief that gender need not define any person's ability to succeed, to love, to be safe and free, or to earn the same as their colleagues.

What I'm asking is for people to stand up and stand for women today. Embrace the diversity that women bring to all aspects of our world. Consider the place you would wish for your mothers, sisters, aunts, and, most importantly, daughters and nieces who are growing up faster than ever before.

My hope is that this day will fan the flame that has spread like wildfire since November. My hope is that people will look toward tolerance and charity in lieu of hatred and greed. Yeah, yeah, I know. Shiny, happy, hippie girl. Still, the world would be a better place if people could be kinder and more tolerant instead of attempting to force their religious/moral ideals down others' throats.

In the words of a good friend, "you do you, I'll do me, and we will have a grand time."

Join me, join us for International Women's Day 2017.

** Please note that I am pushing this post live a day early as I will be unplugging tomorrow for #DayWithoutAWoman

Monday, March 6, 2017

Book Review: The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

Kid's perspective on a creepy creature in the woods that messes with animals and occasionally kids. That's the basis and it's pretty well done.

I'm afraid to give away too much of this one. The journey is the point, the whole point, and this is one wild and creepy ride. Normally, I knock books like these for failing to surprise me but I can't this time because even though I knew the answer, I enjoyed watching the boy discover the answer for himself. Therein lies the brilliance of this book, it didn't bother me that I knew what was coming because I was so engaged in watching it unfold.

This chilling little tale definitely held up its end of the bargain and like I said, I won't give any spoilers but, I enjoyed the journey and strongly recommend this book. I will definitely be seeking out more of Ania Ahlborn's books (looks like I need to scope out Brother and Within These Walls).

As always, this post includes Amazon affiliate links, you won't be charged extra for using them to purchase these awesome book recommendations, but I do get a little money back if you use them so please, use them, and help me keep this blog loaded with most excellent reading suggestions and more!

Next up: Always by Sarah Jio

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Ah, absinthe.

I clearly remember my first encounter with the mysterious green nectar. A small party in a dimly lit basement complete with tarot cards, psychedelic music, and very bohemian decor. There were so many other liquors and spirits available which, in hindsight, may not have been the best idea. #lessonlearned

Subsequent tastes have been far better. It is a rare, delightful treat that I tend to enjoy with close friends.

Absinthe has earned a bad name for itself over the years but my experiences, save the first, have been enjoyable. Of course, outside of that first encounter, I have partaken of absinthe in moderation and in the absence of other types of alcohol.

If you're of legal drinking age, why not give it a go in honor of #NationalAbsintheDay and see for yourself what all the fuss is about....

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Book Review: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

This book hit my radar because of its successor, Wish Granter. I'm glad it did.

A re-telling of the Snow White fairy tale, The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire) has very little in common with its inspiration.

Lorelai is lovely and on the run, hiding from her cruel aunt/stepmother. This young princess has a jokester brother and a protective guardian in the former head of the royal guard. This young princess also has magic. Powerful magic.

There's also a prince-turned-unexpected-king who just happens to have two hearts, one human and one dragon, that allows him to shift from human to dragon form at will. Cool, huh? Needless to say, both kingdoms are in trouble, their paths cross, nasty aunt/stepmother/wicked queen realizes Lorelai lives, and the drama ensues.

Unlike most of the YA drivel I've read lately, this one actually didn't make me want to scream. It's not perfect by any means but I'm pretty sure my kiddo will enjoy this one. The writing isn't wretched, the characters don't make me want to tear my eyes out, and it was a quick read (a couple of hours tops). In short, I have very few complaints about this book.

As always, this post includes affiliate links to Amazon. They won't charge you any extra for purchasing through these links but I get a little money back that just helps me keep things up and running.

Next up: The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

Dr. Seuss Day...

.... or Read Across America Day.

How can I not acknowledge this day?

So what if it's an extra post for the week,
Maybe needing a little tweak,

So what if it's short and sweet,
Surely it's still worth a tweet.

Nah, I've gotta stop while I'm ahead...I'd rather head back to bed

In all seriousness, pick up a book today and read. Bonus points if you're reading to/with a child.

Not sure what to read? Wanting to pay tribute to Dr. Seuss (who taught so many of us to read with his colorful, rhyming stories about such serious topics as the dangers of allowing a top-hat-wearing cat into your house while mother is away)? Try one of these little gems:

*Amazon won't charge you any more for buying through these links, but I get a little money back that I use to help keep this blog running!