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Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cover of Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
4 Stars

Sophronia Temminick is a tomboy in Victorian England. The youngest of innumerable sisters, she is left alone to pretty much do as she pleases. What pleases her is climbing dumbwaiter shafts, spying on her sisters, and generally acting in ways not becoming to a lady. When she is packed off to finishing school one day, she is not pleased.

She quickly realizes this is not just any finishing school. Mademoiselle Geraldine's staff trains young women in "The Fine Art of Finishing Others." These are lessons Sophronia can enjoy. Distraction, poison, espionage, subterfuge--she enjoys it all. But there is a serious plot afoot and one of Sophronia's classmates seems to be at the heart of it. Sophronia is determined that she and her friends will discover the secret.

I just adore Gail Carriger's books and her young adult series does not disappoint. Some authors writing YA for the first time will dumb down their writing but Ms. Carriger is most definitely not guilty of that. She writes with all the wit she normally employs, she just happens to be writing about teenagers. I tore through the book, grinning all the way through.

I enjoyed seeing a few characters from The Parasol Protectorate in this new series. They're younger and, of course, more inexperienced, which made it all the more entertaining. The forbidding Lady Kingair as an awkward adolescent and the inscrutable Genevieve Lefoux as a mischievous scamp were endearing.

Sophronia is every inch the formidable heroine I expected her to be. She's young and makes some mistakes but she's also practically fearless and loyal. She makes friends in unusual places and doesn't seem to have any prejudices. She just takes people as they are. Her friend Dimity is hilarious! Of course there are mean girls in her class and they are fun to hate.

If you enjoyed The Parasol Protectorate, you should enjoy this series as well. If you haven't tried either yet, what are you waiting for?

Read an excerpt.

Find author Gail Carriger on her website, her blog, and Facebook.

Buy Etiquette & Espionage at

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cover of Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye
3 Stars
Hermux Tantamoq is a quiet, rather shy watchmaker who just happens to be a mouse. His world is turned upside down when the lovely Linka Perflinger walks into his shop and asks him to repair her watch. She never returns to pick it up, even though it seemed to be important to her. When a suspicious-looking rat comes in asking for it, Hermux knows Miss Perflinger must be caught up in something dangerous. He sets out to find her and save the day.

I liked Hermux a lot. I think he and I would get along splendidly. Give us a pot of tea and some doughnuts and we'll quietly talk, or just sit and enjoy each other's company. He felt like a kindred spirit.

His community was interesting as well. There's the gossipy mail lady, the gruff cafe owner, the bossy neighbor, and the reporter who seems to be everywhere. I enjoyed reading about them all.

When it came down to the mystery, I did figure out some parts that were featured in a journal. But I was truly surprised when one part directly affecting Hermux was revealed! I knew something was up but I didn't know it was that!

I wished for a slightly different ending but I was happy enough with the one we got. I guess it leaves more room for sequels.

Campbell Scott narrated well, though not brilliantly, but he does get points for not stumbling over these tongue-twisting names!

Boys and girls in the 8-10 age range should enjoy this gentle hero and his intriguing mystery.

Read or listen to an excerpt.

Find author Michael Hoeye on his website.

Buy Time Stops for No Mouse at

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Meeting the Authors: Sarah Addison Allen

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My mom and I went to see Sarah Addison Allen at Malaprop's for her First Frost book launch. We've seen her several times before and we always enjoy hearing her speak and meeting her. She is just the cutest, sweetest thing you've ever met.

We got there 30-45 minutes early and the space was filling up fast. Malaprop's always passes around wine and maybe some cheese, but at Ms. Allen's events, we always get something a little extra. I don't know whether to thank the staff or the author for that but we sure appreciate it! This time, we got cute little pink and white cupcakes, vintage-looking apple napkins, and bowls of bright red apples in crystal-looking bowls. How cute is that?


When Ms. Allen arrived, she was just as cute and sweet as ever. She spoke about how we all have "befores and afters" in our lives. Her big "before and after" is cancer but another big one is Garden Spells. She reflected on that for a bit and then read us her speech for that first tour. It was about her great-aunt and it was called, "Unmentionables." She had us in stitches! She then graciously answered several audience questions and then the book signing started.



When my mom and I got to the front of the line, Ms. Allen complimented us on our scarves, then paused, really looked at us, and asked, "Were you at my signing last year?" We were shocked! She remembered us! We are both quiet and try our best to fly under the radar, so it was impressive that she remembered us! I guess there aren't that many curly-headed mother/daughter duos who show up at all her signings. :-) We told her how much we enjoyed her work and she graciously thanked us and handed us our swag and our signed books.


It looks like she only has one tour stop left, but if you ever get the chance to meet this delightful author, you should go! And you definitely need to read her books if you haven't already.

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? hosted at Book Journey

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It's been a fairly busy week. My grandmother had back surgery on January 15 and we've been trying to make sure someone is with her, temporarily in an assisted living facility for physical therapy, and my grandfather, living at home, pretty much all the time. Luckily we have a big family! She's slowly getting better but we could use any thoughts and prayers you send our way. She is anxious to get home and we're ready to have her home! Health and healing have to come first though.

My mom and I did take time out to see Sarah Addison Allen at her First Frost book launch at Malaprop's on Monday night. She is always so sweet! I plan to write about the event as soon as I finish this post.

My book club meeting was Wednesday night. I chose Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman as this month's read and I was a bit nervous about it. I read both books several years ago and they blew me away. No one else has ever read a graphic novel before but we do tend to read a lot of books based around the Holocaust. It was a hit! Well, as much of a hit as something like that can be. We discussed it for a long time, which is saying something since we tend to just say whether we like a book or not and then move on to what's been going on in our lives. Yay! I'm proud of these ladies for stepping outside their comfort zones!

My  mom's birthday is on Wednesday Tuesday (I've lost track of my days), so she and my dad and my sister and her husband came over for a birthday dinner on Saturday night. My husband made Chicken Pecan Fettuccine, salad, garlic bread and, for the birthday cake, Andes Mint Chocolate Cake with Ganache. Holy moly. It was rich but fantastic!

Posted:
Review: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach--4 Stars

Review: gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson, read by Catherine Taber--4 Stars

Read:
Nothing finished this week.

Currently Reading:
A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Cress by Marissa Meyer, read by Rebecca Soler

All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

Up Next:

I might finish Cress. If I do, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead looks good. We'll see though.

What are you reading this week?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cover of gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
4 Stars

Arlene left her hometown of Possett, Alabama after she graduated from high school and never looked back. She has withstood bribery, threats, and guilt trips from hell from her Aunt Florence and remained in Chicago for ten years. But now Alabama seems to have found her. A face from Arlene's past shows up on her doorstep and at her job, asking questions that Arlene doesn't want to answer. At the same time, her boyfriend Burr, a Black man, is ready to get serious but he wants to know that she's serious too. He wants to meet her family. Her slightly racist family. To keep Burr and protect an old secret and her family, she must head back to Possett.

I have seen Joshilyn Jackson speak multiple times and I always enjoy myself hugely. She is hilarious! And she sure knows how to tell a story. I was hoping to listen to a book that she had narrated herself, but those always seem to be checked out at the library so I grabbed this one instead. Catherine Taber narrated wonderfully so I wasn't disappointed.

I've only read one other book by Ms. Jackson, Between, Georgia. I didn't care for it much. There was nothing wrong with it, exactly, it just seemed forgettable and it has been. I think I'll remember gods in Alabama for a long time.

I don't even know whether to say that I like Arlene. Her heart's in the right place but she's about as crazy as her Mama. She prides herself on never telling a lie but that's not quite the same as telling the truth, now is it? She goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid telling lies but I never knew what parts of her story to believe. With good reason.

There are only a couple of other characters that really stand out for me. Aunt Flo is a force to be reckoned with. She seems hard and almost cold but she has a big heart that she hides well. There are a lot of flashbacks centered around Jim Beverly, the high school quarterback when Arlene was in school. He's not a nice guy, to say the least, but he's not painted as purely evil either. He has kind moments, which make him believable.

The other characters were fairly minor and didn't stand out as much. I definitely liked Burr but he seemed almost too good to be true. He and Arlene would have some big fights but mostly he was the perfectly understanding boyfriend. Arlene's cousin Clarice is too sweet to believe. I liked her too but nobody's that nice all the time.

I thought I knew what was going on all along but it turns out that I didn't. That's becoming rare for me so I appreciate it when it happens! It wasn't just one thing but two! Holy smokes! I think my jaw just dropped when I finally saw the whole picture.

I enjoyed listening to the audio but I kind of wish I had a print copy in front of me. The first sentence is awesome. It starts, "There are gods in Alabama" and goes on to list football quarterbacks and Jack Daniels and other things like that. It's a refrain that repeats throughout the book and I loved it.

For a story about family and roots with a firm sense of place and a surprising mystery at its heart, I highly recommend this one.

Read an excerpt.

Find author Joshilyn Jackson on her website, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Read my 3.5-star review of Between, Georgia.

Buy gods in Alabama at

Southern Literature Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cover of Gulp by Mary Roach
4 Stars

Mary Roach has a gift for making science accessible and--dare I say it?--even funny. In this book, she tackles the digestive system.

Covering topics ranging from thorough chewing (as in 700+ chews for One. Freaking. Bite.) to the miraculous properties of spit, from being eaten alive to the possibility (or not) of chewing your way out if you are, from "The alimentary canal as criminal accomplice" to *ahem* flatus, and ending up with bacterial transplants to treat intractable digestive ailments, this book asks everything you might possibly have ever wanted to know on the topic but were afraid to ask.

I have a pretty juvenile sense of humor, so all of the fart jokes, and spit jokes, and *ahem* "criminal accomplice" jokes had me at least giggling. In the two chapters devoted to flatulence, I was quite honestly laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. Not that it was necessarily that funny but because "Oh my gosh, I can't believe she went there. And there. And there!" I'm almost ashamed of myself. Almost. Luckily my husband and I have the same sense of humor so he just kept playing whatever game on his phone as I laughed myself silly and waited for me to catch my breath and report so he could share in the joke too.

I've worked in healthcare for years, so I've developed a pretty strong stomach (though I'm not a nurse or CNA and haven't ever had to wade into the trenches, so to speak), so nothing in here bothered me. That will obviously not be the case for all of you. If you can stomach it (heehee!), I do recommend this. If it doesn't seem to be your kind of thing, it's probably not.

Read an excerpt.

Find author Mary Roach on her website and Twitter.

Check out my 4-star review of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, also by this author.

Buy Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal at


Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net















I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? hosted at Book Journey

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Posted:
Movie Review: Into the Woods--4 Stars

Read:
Cover of Gulp by Mary Roach
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach


Cover of gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson, read by Catherine Taber

Currently Reading:
A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Cress by Marissa Meyer, read by Rebecca Soler--I finally got to the top of the hold list!

All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

Up Next:
I don't expect to finish any of my books this week. I am excited to go see Sarah Addison Allen at Malaprop's tomorrow night for her First Frost launch!

What are you reading this week?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

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