Queen Emily’s Enchanted Kingdom ~ Lee Ann Graff-Vinson

Queen Emily’s Enchanted Kingdom Sugarland by Lee-Ann Graff-Vinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A sweet story about a Queen whose kingdom is overrun by sweets. I imagine it serves as a nice reminder to children about “treats” and think it’s kind of cute that the author got her daughter to illustrate the book. the only thing I might have done differently is have at least one character exercising a bit of wisdom throughout the story. Although I suppose the unicorn did try to warn the queen about indulging too much. Perhaps if Stargazer had been a little bit more vocal? just to get the point across a little bit harder…

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Unearthly ~ Cynthia Hand

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Um…. I enjoyed this book! So much of yay!! Yeah yeah it has some typical teen read cliches in it but I dunno… I really liked this one which is quite a change for me. Also I may have spent the whole day reading this book…which I suppose is something I do often but obviously it’s not something I do unless I’m enjoying myself. And the best part? I got this book (and the next one) FOR FREE after entering a Penguin Books giveaway so feeling all smug now.

Now – I didn’t enjoy it right from the beginning, I must admit! I felt very ho-hum about it at first and almost gave up after the first 40 pages or so. The only reason I didn’t was because I was too lazy to go and find something I DID want to read.

Of course this leads me to question: why? Why enjoy THIS book so much and not Twilight or The Hunger Games or other YA books that everyone seems to be so enamored with? And I think the reason is that I didn’t spend this book going “oh please whatever!” in my head. It’s like that illusive indescribable but completely recognizable X-factor. Some books – no matter how far fetched – are truthful. And you believe them. I think that’s the difference. I can get on board with what’s happening here. I don’t feel like the author is being disingenuous. Maybe it’s not like that for everyone, but it definitely is for me.

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The Indian in the Cupboard ~ Lynne Reid Banks

The Indian in the CupboardThe Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can’t say I enjoyed this book. It took me a long time to read it because i just didn’t find it all that interesting – but I don’t think that’s a fair review. It’s a boy book really.
A not-for-Nadine kind of book too. I do appreciate the style of writing, and think my stepson would probably enjoy it. I know it’s a famous story and feel like I’m committing some sort of literary felony by not gushing over it – but my god both the indian and the cowboy were so irritating that I wanted to just give up on the book altogether. I do like Omri though, and I think it’s great when kids read books about kids who are good people. Maybe that sounds insane…as well as lame since most heroes in books are good people…aren’t they? So yeah, very sweet story – but do you ever slog your way through a book not particularly enjoying it and then kind of appreciating it as a whole when you are done?

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On turning 30

I know there is supposed to be something profound to say here…I just can’t figure out what it is. I kind of keep waiting for crisis to strike. You know…surely I should be taking stock and figuring out where I’ve gone wrong so far and all that. But I kind of do that all the time. Milestones need not apply.

So what now?

Well…I’m not sure. I still don’t feel much older than 18.  The fact that I have a kid and have been married twice already seems rather insane. I have finished and published my first book but I have still never owned a car. I have been overseas a couple of times but my bucket list destinations have not yet been conquered.

Perhaps THAT is what I need to do. I should make a Bucket List. Because everyone is doing? Well, no, not because of that. Because it’s a good idea. And because the only goal I set for “before I turn 30” was the only one I achieved.

So perhaps there is a little bit of magic to  be found in making these kinds of decisions. People keep telling us that there is something special about writing stuff down.

And I am, after all, a writer. Writing a Bucket List should be a breeze.

Here’s to the next ten years. May there be way less heartbreak than the last ten, and a lot more soul food. Every end brings with it a new beginning. I’m not sure if it’s age or luck…but I’m feeling pretty good about this one…

Last Act of All – Aline Templeton

The Last Act of AllThe Last Act of All by Aline Templeton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I must say I am rather in love with the way this woman writes. The story itself is not quite as riveting as it makes out to be but I didn’t find it at all predictable (though I did wonder along the right lines) which was kind of nice since I usually can tell who the murderer is as soon as he or she walks onto the page. Plot aside though, Aline Templeton’s writing is superb. It seems almost academic without being boring. I can’t quite describe it. She writes in that way that Stephen King and Margaret Atwood do – where the fact that this is their craft is so apparent and there is no room for a pesky personality to shine through (this I find particularly fascinating since I can’t write a single thing without vomiting my character all over the page). That said she has an uncanny ability to pinpoint human emotion and motivation in the most deliciously matter-of-fact way. Really did enjoy this book – and I’m pretty sure I paid next to nothing for it at a second hand book sale!

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Rabbits in the Garden ~ Jessica McHugh

Rabbits in the GardenRabbits in the Garden by Jessica McHugh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Am so glad I finally got around to reading this book – it’s been sitting next to my bed for far too long!! I must admit that I was a little nervous to read it when I first picked it up since I sort of feel like I’ve gotten to know the author lately and I was a little bit worried that I wouldn’t love it. Of course there was no need for such worry as Jessica McHugh’s book was just as brilliant as I expected it to be. A whirlwind of constant suspense on every page, Rabbits in the Garden takes your breath away from the beginning and doesn’t return it until the very end. Definitely not the sort of book you would recommend to a lover of “warm and fuzzy” reading, but a it’s a definite must-read for those of us with a darker side.

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Harmony ~ Rita Murphy

HarmonyHarmony by Rita Murphy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A sweet story about a girl who was brought to earth by a star. After she turns fifteen she discovers that she has magical powers. I liked that her adoptive mother was a Cherokee Indian – I’ve always found them so quietly fascinating. It’s not the greatest story you will ever read but definitely far less whiny and annoying than a lot of other YA fiction out there. At least the main character is a respectable girl with a good head on her shoulders instead of an emotional mess.

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Mockingjay ~ Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sadly I must admit that this series disappointed me more than Twilight did. And not even necessarily because it was bad… Let me see if I can try to explain…

The Hunger Games idea is a brilliant one. Really. It is. We both know that we like to read about ridiculously far-fetched scenarios where great abominations to humans are carried out. The more heart-tugging the better. But for me? I still need it to be believable. I still need to feel like the author is telling me the truth. Now The Hunger Games is written in such a way that you can actually imagine such a world taking place – realistically. Far more realistically than Harry Potter or Narnia for instance. And yet the connection just could not be made for me. The characters irritated me. Katniss was especially awful. I just couldn’t find the part of me that could commiserate with these people. Instead I simply judged them. And yes they finally rebelled etc but I don’t know. I just didn’t buy it. And I couldn’t get past the idea that they were all just a bunch of idiots.

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Gabriel’s Curse ~ by Anonymous


The Oracle

He stood at the crossroads, behind him was a life lived according to convenience and expectations, before him, the reason why, and possibly, the solution.

Standing on the footpath between tall oak trees, he felt a twinge of annoyance. It was an hour’s drive away from home, now an additional hour’s walk later and he still hadn’t found the cottage. Things came easy to him, why would he struggle to achieve the one goal that was his own? If he hadn’t spent so much time on this already he would turn around and go back home.

“You should.” Gabriel turned toward the voice that broke the silence. He had his charming smile ready and was already standing a little straighter; years of practice and force of habit. (more…)

The Love Story *competition* ~ Adam’s Amelia by ANONYMOUS


Staring down at this new delicate face, I am overcome with an incredible sense of happiness. She’s mine. She’s all mine. As I linger on her soft features and gentle breathing whilst she sleeps, so at peace and still, I have such hope that she’ll be a dreamer, just like her mama. I’m a dreamer. I always have been, with a wild and curious imagination. Oh, how I have crafted the best stories within my dreams. I always fancied myself as a travelling writer, a modern day gypsy perhaps, documenting life as seen through my own eyes, and yet somehow I managed to find myself stationed in a café, baking sugar laden things, as well as the flavoursome dishes of Turkish cuisine that my mother taught me all throughout my childhood. I just never saw myself there, doing that for a living, with my family at my side. I was an adventurer of sorts growing up, although a little uncertain of myself at times. All of my stories had me some place else, doing something extraordinary, on my own. I wanted to be out there, in the great wide world; living life like there was no tomorrow. The only family I ever dreamed about was Emily – my very own little girl, with me wherever I went. Together we would discover the world. (more…)