Audiobook Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins, Narrated by Bahni Turpin


Narrator: Bahni Turpin

Length: 9 hrs 26 min.

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Published: 26 September 2017

Publisher: Listening Library/Duttons Books For Young Readers

Category: Young Adult/Horror/Contemporary/Mystery

Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

Rating: 3 Stars

I am a big fan of horror movies, especially this time of year. What better time to pick up Stephanie Perkins’ newest book, comped as a Scream meets YA book? There’s a chill in the air, pumpkins are on front stoops, and Halloween is a week away.

This book certainly had the hallmarks of a teenage slasher movie. There was the new kid in school, the cliques in high school that are either suspects or victims, the typical stupidity of people in horror movies. You expect these things when you’re watching a movie or reading a book in the genre, almost, because they’re classic.

Then again, you also need something fresh to make the story unique, otherwise you’re just following the same out path through the corn maze that you can tell has been beaten down by hundreds of people before you. That was the problem I had with There’s Someone Inside Your House. The writing itself was alright and I didn’t outright hate it, but the story felt bland, like I was watching a horror movie that had billed itself as a 2017 R rated film that ended up having the budget of an 80’s G movie. That’s not a great surprise, really.

One of the cliches I’m surprised wasn’t used was that of one of the core members of the friend group being accused (seriously) of being the killer or actually turning out to be involved. There are rumors about one, but nothing really comes of it.

Halfway through the book, we learned who the killer was and I kept waiting to discover another twist, something that would make learning this information worth it so early on. It was around page 170, I think, in the physical book and in the audio book there were four hours of listening time left. Four hours was a painful amount of time to keep waiting and waiting and ultimately have little to absolutely no payoff. There was no surprise twist, no secret partner or huge motive. It was a letdown, to be honest, regarding the killer.

There’s also the main character, Makani. Her characterization was disappointing, considering she was the new girl, the one who was the focus of the majority of the book. If this were a film, she would have been the one the camera tracked 90% of the time it didn’t spend on victims. It felt like I knew nothing about her and that had nothing to do with the secrets she was keeping about her past for most of the book. I felt more connection with her grandmother, the church going elderly woman who enjoyed putting puzzles together and simple things like a Halloween doughnut.

The best part about listening to There’s Someone Inside Your House was the narrator. Bahni Turpin has been a star from the firs time I heard her narrating The Sun Is Also A Star. She also narrates Everything, Everything and The Hate U Give. The emotion she puts into her primary character gives them body, even when the writing doesn’t support it.

I have read Perkins’ books in the past, her Anna and the French Kiss series, and this hasn’t put me off her entirely, but I think I might consider twice before buying a horror book by her again.





All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Publisher: Miss Mae

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

Review: Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza


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Published: 7 November 2017

Publisher: HarperTeen

Category: Contemporary/Young Adult/Mental Health

For fans of Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything, Emery Lord’s When We Collided, and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Anna Priemaza’s debut novel is a heartwarming and achingly real story of finding a friend, being a fan, and defining your place in a difficult world.

Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different. Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to people. Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: They’re both obsessed with the same online gaming star and his hilarious videos.

It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship—if they don’t kill each other first.

Kat and Meg Conquer the World will hit home for anyone who has ever been waist-deep in fandom, doubt, or new relationships; Kat’s and Meg’s unique voices are outstanding, and their friendship brings this story to vibrant life.”—Francesca Zappia, author of Made You Up and Eliza and Her Monsters

Rating: 2.5 Stars 

As far as comp titles go, I can loosely see why whoever wrote this one up might see Kat & Meg as a good book for fans of Fangirl (though admittedly the Everything, Everything connection is not as clear to me). There is a lot of love for Legends of the Stone, similar to Cath’s love of the Simon Snow franchise. There are the loose similarities between the main characters, each dealing with a psychiatric or mental disorder that affects their daily interactions with the world and other people (to varying degrees).

I related the most to Kat and understood, I thought, a lot of her frustrations and fears, particularly with her schoolwork. Meg was far from my favorite character. Her exuberance was more than I can handle usually and that made her points of view challenging to read.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the resolution of Meg’s ongoing conflict with her ex-stepfather. For years she has blamed him for leaving and not claiming any custody of her and while an explanation is given at the end, something to do with lawyers and child support it’s an explanation that suddenly villainizes Meg’s mother, a woman who has struggled at times with Meg but has been a decent enough parental figure throughout the book. 

It didn’t sit right with me that the narrative offhandedly did this to her: on the one hand had her working hard to provide for her family, on the other hand made her sound like she didn’t need the child support so that was why Stephen was “excused” from seeking custody of Meg. It makes me more irritated the longer I think about it.

There was also the Legends of Stone convention ending weirdness. It wasn’t the con itself that was weird. Actually, I thought that was represented rather well. What fan hasn’t thought, for one shining moment, that they’d have a special connection with their idol, only to realize that maybe there are just too many people to see in a day for a single person to be remembered? Heartbreaking. 😟 

It’s when Kat & Meg are at the airport and have a totally random/weird encounter with their idol, LumberLegs. It made the ending feel, again, random. Disjointed. They were on their way home, fulfilled after a weekend at a con celebrating a treasured game despite the realization that your heroes don’t/can’t always live up to your expectations, then BAM! LumberLegs gets shoehorned in for gods know what reason. It was an odd ending for me.

The premise of the book, the bringing together of Kat & Meg and their science project (an interesting one regarding video game response times before and after consuming sugar), was decent enough but the process of reading it felt bland. I didn’t feel like I was having any fun reading this book. I can see where others might, where seeing Meg explore her interests as they branch off from each other, Kat as her family concerns itself with her grandfather as his health wanes, might work for other readers.

This wasn’t the read for me, though, I’m sorry to say.









I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: The Guttersnipes by Scott Eric Barrett


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Published: 29 September 2016

Publisher: Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Publishers

Category: Fantasy/Middle Grade

Charlie Daniels is more than six feet tall, allergic to almost everything, and has a pet dinosaur at home. His life in Arizona is relatively normal. That is, apart from the nightmares Charlie has…
But when his dinosaur, Trike, gets kidnapped by a strange old lady and her cat-like sidekick, Charlie and his misfit friend Arty are sucked into a story bigger than both of them. Risking everything to rescue Trike, Charlie and Arty are flung into the past, landing in the chaos of New York City, 1865.
Dodging the mysterious Nasten Cobblestine, and avoiding the perils of New York’s nastiest street cleaners’ strikes, test Charlie’s wits as well as his courage. All he wants to do is reunite with his dinosaur and somehow find a way back home…
As Charlie searches for Trike, he draws dangerously close to P.T. Barnum’s eerie museum and the creature that lies within. Will he find Trike and get home alive? And who is the Ice Lady of his nightmares?

Rating: 2 Stars

Cautionary warning: racist language in the context of 1800’s American society, particularly toward black and East Asian people

I loved stories of dinosaurs as pets growing up. There were movies like Prehysteria and We’re Back! that had adventure, emotional turmoil, and lessons, all good and bad times that showed that while dinosaurs in our time probably wouldn’t be a great idea, they were fun to imagine.

That’s why I thought that Scott Eric Barrett’s book The Guttersnipes would be a wild ride full of not only the trials of having a pet dwarf triceratops, but also time travel, mystery, and a look at a famous circus.

Let’s start with what I liked about this book.

Lots of good ideas came up in the course of reading it and you could feel the energy that the author had when writing. I think, though, that it’s possible some of that might have gotten away from him because while there was some good, there was also some not so great that made the reading experience less than enjoyable.

The visuals were interesting. The creatures that Barrett introduced, like Jack, Ms. Navideh’s companion/pet, the technology that was found in the house on Hamburger Lane, etc.

As for the not so good…

The friendship, if it could be called that, between Charlie and Arty was weird. I never got the sense that they were really good friends the way that Arty seemed to believe in the beginning, particularly when he referenced their group name, The Guttersnipes. Even when they were about to go back to 1865 and Charlie calls Arty a close friend, it didn’t ring true.

The scenes were quickly dispatched with, eager to move from one place to the next. I feel, with further development, they might have been more engaging. I didn’t get enough time with the characters at school, at Nick’s arcade, at Charlie’s home with Trike.

There were also some difficult sections, some inconsistencies that had me confused and/or questioning what was really going on in the book; things that weren’t resolved/addressed on the page. For example, why Charlie & Arty are a thing in the first place. They aren’t really friends, so what was with the arcade scheme in the opening? Why doesn’t Charlie ever question why Arty knows so much about Ms. Nedivah and Jack?

There are also times when conversations are overheard and things are described, i.e. Ms. Nevidah’s phlegm, that Charlie & Arty couldn’t know because just a moment ago they shut themselves in the bathroom; or names are given as if we’ve been told them when in the context of the narrative we sinply haven’t yet. These careless details were not handled well and thus were irritating.

I also had some trouble with Charlie with regards to his character in two respects. It’s stated multiple timea that he’s highly allergic to a lot of things and his dad gives him a “magic” suntan lotion that lasts a week and allergy pills that cure all? His allergies have nothing to do with this story, being mentioned in the modern day and then never again as far as I could tell. It made his entire time in 1865 odd as he had no allergic reactions, no real concern that he might run out of medicine, etc.

The second respect has to do with him and Arty. This book’s writing and categorization didn’t match up. It wasn’t a simple matter of being written YA and shelved MG or vice versa. It ran deeper. Charlie and Arty are supposed to be 12, but neither felt like that at all. I would’ve pegged them as 16, based on their actions, attitudes, etc. The ideas behind the book could’ve been a great middle grade, but Charlie and Arty didn’t fit into their own tale.

The editing needed some work as well with regards to punctuation, as I noticed multiple instances of speech missing beginning or ending quotation marks and the like. The formatting of the cover was askew as well, though that oddity didn’t affect my rating of the book, rather just struck me as something to be noted on top of it all.

I think the biggest problem The Guttersnipes suffered from, and the one the really sums up the reason it doesn’t succeed as a whole for me, is that it tried to be too much. There were a lot of pote risk threads here that for pulled on, but none were woven into a complete or satisfactory project. Billed as a fantasy middle grade booked on Goodreads, I was sorely disappointed as there was hardly any fantasy here once Charlie went back in time. What fantasy there was felt like a plot device to get him to 1865 NYC and then it was dispensed with.

The ending leaves the way open for Charlie’s continued literary life. Perhaps, with a lot of editing and streamlining and a good, hard look at what kind of story the sequel is meant to be, there’s possibility in the future for The Guttersnipes.





I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: The Geeky Chef Strikes Back: Even More Unofficial Recipes from Minecraft, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Twin Peaks, and More! by Cassandra Reeder


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Published: 15 September 2017

Publisher: Race Point Publishing

Category: Food & Drink/Non-fiction

The Geeky Chef Strikes Back is your chance to finally drink Estus, nibble Seed Cakes, slurp White Dragon Noddles, and a lot more.

The Geeky Chef is back with even more delicious, real-life recipes from your favorite sci-fi and fantasy books, movies, TV shows, and video games. Discover the foods you’ve always wanted to taste from realms like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter to The Legend of ZeldaFireflyMinecraftFinal Fantasy, and more.

In the Geeky Chef Strikes Back, author Cassandra Reeder has imagined the delicious foods in these faraway worlds and created recipes that are sure to transport you to galaxies far, far way. So if you’ve found yourself craving Pumpkin Juice from Harry PotterLingonberry Pancakes from The Big LebowskiNorma’s Cherry Pie from Twin PeaksWife Soup from Firefly, or the White Dragon Noodles from Blade Runner, then look no further.

With easy step-by-step instructions and fun theme photos, these creative recipes are perfect for your next big viewing party or your standing reservation for a party of one. Fantasy foods are fantasy no longer!

Rating: 4 Stars

I may not be in the kitchen much at the moment, but when I do I prefer to use recipes and what better way to incorporate my geeky interests and eating than using recipes based on titles I’ve read or seen? The Geeky Chef, back with a second collection of nerdy delights, has made it her business to bring together fans of Minecraft and Doctor Who, Games of Thrones and Harry Potter with something we all need…food.

The recipes include measurements for chefs outside the U.S. (good old metric system) as well as suggestions for substitutions should you or the person you’re cooking for be vegan. Before the book even starts, there are also base recipes, such as for simple syrup or a soup base. These base recipes will be handy for a cook to learn as the skills within them translate to other cookbooks you might be tempted to try.

There is quite a lot of variety in this book, from alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to seaweed noodles and herring/pumpkin soup. I wasn’t too sure about some of these from the titles alone (here’s looking at you, Kiki, for that fish & gourd soup), but like the hotter spices, I’d be willing to try it at least once.

My favorite recipes in The Geeky Chef Strikes Back include Otik’s Spiced Potatoes. There were spices and herbs used throughout that, while I had heard of, were not ones I usually ate because I am not a huge fan of heat in my food. I admit to being inspired to try bolder flavors, particularly if I could imagine favorite characters eating the same meal with me. The Mushroom Stew, inspired by Minecraft, was also a recipe I was anxious to try because I love mushrooms, soup, and the recipe sounded so rich and hearty.

I would have liked to see more pictures alongside the recipes. There were a couple, but in a cookbook I would expect at least one for every entry, at least of the finished product. This may have to do with the fact that this was a digital copy and sometimes e-arc copies have errors. Please be sure to check the final product for the full range of photographs of this delicious food.  The soup section had the most overall that I could see, making my mouth water as the weather cools in my region and it becomes proper soup season again.

Most of the games, books, or movies in the book were either ones I enjoy myself or have come across in my geeky travels. For the properties that I was not intimately familiar with, the author gave a brief overview of the title and why she was inspired to create the dish of the moment. Any reader may well feel the need to try put a new game or watch a new film while sampling the dishes within The Geeky Chef Strikes Back.

I was surprised that the author, in the introduction to the book, thought that geeky cooking was still a niche market, that “you wouldn’t think” there were so many geeks out there willing to make and taste pop culture inspired food that she was able to write a second book (I have not read the first in her collection entitled The Geeky Chef). I don’t agree and before you leave this review, let me share with you some geek themed cookbooks I’ve found, and cooked from a few, that have been published over the years:

  1. Dining With the Doctor by Chris-Rachael Oseland
  2. Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook by Georgeanne Brennan & Frankie Frankeny
  3. The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Buchotz
  4. The Narnia Cookbook by Douglas Gresham
  5. Doctor Who: The Official Cookbook by Joanna Farrow
  6. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes by Roald Dahl, Felicity Dahl, & Josie Fison
  7. The Secret Garden Cookbook by Amy Cotler


Do you have a recipe based on your favorite book/game/movie that you turn to from time to time? What book do you wish had more recipes based on it? Let me know in the comment section below.





I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

DNF Review: Lunch With the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette by Killian B. Brewer


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Published: 12 January 2017

Publisher: Interlude Press

Category: Romance (MM)/Fiction/Contemporary

When Marcus Sumter, a short order cook with dreams of being a chef, inherits a house in small town Marathon, Georgia, he leaves his big city life behind. Marcus intends to sell the house to finance his dreams, but a group of lovable busybodies, the Do Nothings, a new job at the local diner, the Tammy Dinette, and a handsome mechanic named Hank cause Marcus to rethink his plans. Will he return to the life he knew, or will he finally put down roots?

Rating: 2 Stars

The thought of a book about a small town centered around a place of comfort and tasty diner food was what drew me Lunch With the Do-Nothings…, but the book that I picked up wasn’t really comforting nor would I describe it as tasty, the kind of book I want to read again and share with everyone.

The writing gave me the sense that it was trying to be a charming women’s fiction novel, full of quirky characters and small town heart. It didn’t attain that level of substance, in my opinion, because the characters, Helen Warner in particular, felt like cardboard cutouts that the author was using to map out the book rather than full-fledged people.

Another thing was that, while I couldn’t tell the time period Dinner With the Do-Nothings… took place in for sure. Not having confirmation, I think it was somewhere between 1997 and current day because Netflix and GPS in a car are mentioned. Still, I found myself shaking my head when Marcus arrived in Marathon, the beneficiary of his grandmother’s will, and had his sexuality revealed. The attitude and things Inez Coffee, one of Helen’s and Marcus’s grandmother’s friends, said were baffling. It wasn’t horrible, I don’t think, but it was kind of weird.

There was something amiss in Marcus’s story, too. I can’t speak for if anyone else will notice this, but to me the story, his interactions with people and so on, felt like the author had written the book with a female main character and then switched the gender to make it a man (aka Marcus). The examples were subtle, just the way something was said or the way Marcus responded. This isn’t to say the actions were wrong, but something felt off around 27% and I kept noticing it as I went further.

The final reason why I decided to stop reading the book at 45% was that I felt like I’d read it all before. There are overreaching archetypes and all, but Lunch With the Do-Nothings felt so bland that I could almost swear this same book was on the shelf a dozen times over. There wasn’t anything unique to give it life, so I set it aside to look for something that did.






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Sunday Street Team: Interview with Tracey Neithercott, author of Gray Wolf Island

Gray Wolf Island

For fans of The Raven Boys comes a story about treasure, a promise to one’s family, and a mystery on a magical island.


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Published: 10 October 2017

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Category: Young Adult/Mystery

Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.

With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret—something they’ll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.

As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends’ troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby’s choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure—or merely with their lives.

From debut author Tracey Neithercott comes a darkly compelling tale of profound friendship, adventure, and finding the strength to tell the truth.

It sounds like there’s going to be a lot of emotion in this book, from the loss of Ruby’s sister to the backgrounds of the friends that join Ruby in her quest to discover the treasure of Gray Wolf Island. I’m hoping there will be a lot of fun too, as isn’t uncovering  mystery generally exciting?

Today I’m hosting an interview with the author, where she will answer some of my questions about her book, her own ideas about treasure, and about seizing the chance when you can.

Thank you to Tracey Neithercott for answering these questions for the readers of The Hermit Librarian. 🙂


  1. Did you ever play pretend at finding a treasure in your backyard, at the beach, etc.?

When I was little, just about everything was a treasure hunt. My mother would cart my sister and I around as she went shopping, and because we were little (and because shopping that doesn’t involve toys is horribly boring to kids), my sister and I would crawl around on the floor picking up junk like missing buttons and plastic fasteners and straight pins that fell from shirtsleeves.

(This was a long time ago, when people weren’t so concerned with stuff like hepatitis.)

I think we all want to believe there’s a treasure out there. That we could find a map and that’d be it: our ticket to adventure.


  1. In the summary for Gray Wolf Island, it says that Sadie asks her sister to do something she never could. Is there something that you regret not having done and want to in the future?

So much about Gray Wolf Island is about regretting those things you did do, so this is a fun twist. When I was in college, I studied in New Zealand and developed a bit of an addiction to adventure activities. I vowed that even once I entered the Real World, I wouldn’t stop doing the things I loved. Sure, I thought, why not work for a week then skydive on the weekend?

Except work was demanding. Except I was low on cash.

I started thinking logically: If I save money, I can travel to an even more exciting place. If I wait now, I can do something bigger and better then.

And then I was diagnosed with a rare chronic pain condition. All of those plans became pure fantasy. So I regret it—waiting until I was in a better place, until I was less busy and less poor. I’m not sure if I’ll get well and be able to do those things, but it’s a good lesson in waiting for the perfect time. There is no perfect time, possibly no time better than now.


  1. What is it about an island setting that appealed to you rather than, say, a small town in the middle of a country?

Though the island setting was one of the first things I settled on when creating the story, it had less to do with my love for islands and more with the story itself. I wanted to bury the treasure in a secluded location and, more than that, I wanted a setting that would separate the treasure hunters from real life. The goal was to intensify the sense of otherworldliness—that this adventure was removed from the everyday.

That said, I love writing small towns. When I created the second storyline in Gray Wolf Island, I automatically knew I wanted to use it to bring the treasure hunters’ small Maine town to life. Through this secondary POV chapters, you get to see life in Wildewell and all of the bits of magic that are part of it.


  1. Would you rather find a typical treasure (gold, etc.) or a non-typical ones (the answer to a secret, a source of magic, etc.)?

I fear giving away the type of Gray Wolf Island treasure in my answer! I wouldn’t say no to gold, but I think something like a secret or other magic may be more meaningful in the long run.


  1. Gray Wolf Island could take place across any time period from the sound of Ruby’s adventure and her friends. What made you pick the one that you did?

I’m not sure I consciously thought about it, or weighed the pros and cons of using a historical setting. The idea came so naturally in this time period that it just felt right. There is a second POV in the book that takes place in a different time, but I don’t think it’s too spoilery to say It’s not historical.


  1. Ruby encounters a few people along the way with mysteries of their own. What about their abilities/situations made them appeal to you as characters that needed their story told?

From the very beginning, I wanted the magic in Gray Wolf Island to feel like a seamless part of the world and the characters’ lives. The fact that Charlie gets visions of his death is no stranger to them than real-life oddities, like a man eating 72 hot dogs in a sitting or stones sailing across the desert floor.

And so I also knew that I couldn’t give them hints of magic just for the sake of adding magic into the story. I needed it to be so much a part of who each person was that to remove it, I’d get a completely different character. What appealed to me about each of the side characters was determining how each person’s magic shaped them, how it would affect the plot and the other characters, how I could connect it with their secrets, and what truth about themselves I could reveal using the magic. It was a tall order, but incredibly fun to puzzle out!


  1. Were there any works that inspired Gray Wolf Island, whether it be a book or movie?

The spark of an idea for Gray Wolf Island came while I was watching Stand by Me. There’s a scene where Gordie and Chris are having a heart-to- heart in the woods one night and I thought, “That’s what I want to write next: a powerful friendship.”

I’d settled on a treasure hunt about the time my husband began watching The Curse of Oak Island. It’s a History Channel documentary about a real-life treasure hunt happening on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia. It all sort of clicked: that was where I’d bury my treasure. Or a fictional island inspired by it.


  1. Would you rather have a map that lead you straight to a treasure or a cryptic message that led clue to clue until the final resting place of the treasure?

Definitely the second. There’s a line in Gray Wolf Island that gets at this very question. The main character, Ruby, who’s a bit antisocial and would prefer to do the treasure hunting thing alone, is attempting to dissuade Elliot from crashing her adventure. She offers to share the spoils, provided he stay home. Elliot responds the same way I would: “What the hell’s the point of a treasure you don’t have to search for?”








All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone


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Published: 5 September 2017

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Category: Middle-Grade/Contemporary/Fiction

Allie Navarro can’t wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. CLICK’D pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it’s a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about CLICK’D.

Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone’s making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present CLICK’D to the judges?

New York Times best-selling author Tamara Ireland Stone combines friendship, coding, and lots of popcorn in her fun and empowering middle-grade debut.

Rating:  2.5 Stars

I picked Click’d up because I read Tamara Ireland Stone’s book Every Last Word last year and loved it. I think it was even a 5 star read for me. When I saw a new book from her that was about young game developers, I thought it would be an interesting read.

I want to start off this review by saying that while I rated it 2.5 stars, I can see that it was a case of the book not being for me. I can see how a lot of other people might enjoy the book, but I spent more than a few minutes while reading it being frustrated with how things were going, being presented, and ending up.

Allie, the main character, starts out the book having finished a summer activity at a CodeGirls Camp, designed for young women to spend the summer developing app ideas and working on their skills. At the summit presentation that Allie gave, she presents a bare bones version of how Click’d would work. Reading about it, the app itself as presented then didn’t sound special. The premise sounds nice, but basing the connections it makes off a small, generic quiz, something you might see on BuzzFeed, didn’t make it special enough to warrant the attention it’s creator Allie was getting from her computing teacher or the camp personnel. That a young person could code well enough to make an app is impressive because that sort of work seems hard to me, but the end product was average at best.

Things did sound marginally more interesting when Allie showed the app to her school friends a couple of days later, but it was still ordinary. I felt like calling it a game was a bit of a stretch. The scavenger hunt aspect might count, but Nathan, Allie’s classmate/arch-nemesis, had an actual game that sounded more interesting and overall “good” than Allie’s. In fact, I felt a bit let down when we found out the range of other games that were presented at Games for Good, the competition happening a week into the school year that Allie’s computing teacher Ms. Slade nominates her for. When looking at the other developers and their work, Click’d was never something that would’ve won. As the main character, I would’ve thought that she’d have something more in line with Nathan’s game which facilitates raising funds for Habitat for Humanity, or another student whose game brings fresh drinking water to those in need.

The timing aspect in the book felt strange as well. It was odd that the time Allie had with her mentor before the competition Games for Good was so short. Is a week really enough time to refine an app, test it, etc.? Why did Allie need a mentor for five days when she’d spent all summer working on it with supervision? A recommendation and that should’ve been it for Ms. Slade, who didn’t end up actually doing a whole lot in her mentor capacity.

Click’d also doesn’t take into account the sheer weirdness of Instagram. It takes a photo from your timeline as a clue for the scavenger hunt aspect, but how will that help if you take pictures of your pets, of books?

I will say that the friendships portrayed throughout the book seemed very real. I pretty much blocked out everything that happened to me between 7th and 12th grade, but what I do remember from right before that in elementary school was that friends were like this. You got mad, but it generally got better a lot quicker than it does when you’re older, when you can hold a grudge. I didn’t quite get the relationship, if it can be called that, between Allie and Nathan though. It felt like that was one partnership that never got resolved, other than their were “enemies” at the beginning and then things were better b the time the Games for Good competition rolled around. There didn’t seem to be real resolution to the problems they had communicating, just…hey, we helped each other’s game problems, we’re all good. O.o I know I said relationships at that age I remember as resolving quickly, but these two didn’t have a friendship that would facilitate that kind of recovery.

All in all I thought Click’d was an okay book for me, though I probably wouldn’t’ read it again. I like middle grade books for the most part, but I think this was one of those times were it would be better enjoyed by the actual target age group rather than adults that enjoy the genre.




I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 12 September 2017

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary/Historical Fiction

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity– award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

Rating: 4 Stars

You Bring the Distant Near is a well executed story of heritage, expectations, points of view, and how to live in a world where these things clash.

Each generation had something that was important to their story. While these themes overlapped, they were stronger with the woman/women who are the focal point in the time period. It was interesting to see as Ranee’s children, who have lived in many countries, adapted to America in contrast to their mother at first. There were prejudices to be dealt with and none were resolved quite so easily as perhaps Tara and Anna would have liked.

Even as the years passed and progress came into their lives, there were still difficulties hanging over from the past, such as Ranee’s views of black people. Anna’s Indian heritage, so vital to her personal identity (not least of which is because she was raised in Mumbai), is challenged when she feels her family is becoming too Americanized. It was difficult to watch these women struggle with their views, some changing over time and some needing coaching. Shanti’s own identity is brought into sharp focus during a clash between her grandmothers: Ranee, a Bengali widow, and Rose, an African-American drama teacher whose views about their families don’t mesh well for several years. Shanti’s outburst and her declaration that she’s “both” was powerful, not only to herself but to those around her.

The synopsis was somewhat misleading in details regarding the story, or at least how important they are to the individual women. Anna certainly fights to preserve her Bengali identity and that of her grandmother, but the reference to Bengal tigers is mentioned once and I don’t believe ever again. Ranee does try to preserve her children’s Indian heritage, but again, not nearly so much as the synopsis would lead you to believe.

I loved reading the stories of these women, over the course of several decades. I felt at the end, though, that it bordered on too short? Each section felt good but like it could have been so much more involved.

The writing style makes me certain that I will be looking for more works by this author, as I was wrapped up in the story so well that I didn’t want it to end.








I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 10 Tuesday: Foodie Books


Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

This week’s prompt was a great one for me because food is comforting to me. Characters eating or talking about their restaurant dreams, etc., makes me smile.

Today’s topic has a lot of leeway and I’m going at it this way: these books contain my favorite portrayals of food. They’re either illustrated or described in such a way that I find myself wishing that my cooking ability and patience were up to snuff so that I could enjoy these myself while reading.




Food Wars! by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town.  Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school!  Can Soma really cut it in a school that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And can he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?!

Favorite Dish: Gotcha Pork


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling 

Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry’s success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.

Favorite Dish: Fizzing Whizzbees


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night…

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway – a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Favorite Dish: Chocolate mice with almond ears and licorice tails


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

Favorite Dish:  Frikadellen (German hamburger/meatball patties)


Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment by Julie Powell

With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul!

With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul.

Julie Powell is 30-years-old, living in a rundown apartment in Queens and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job that’s going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life, and she invents a deranged assignment. She will take her mother’s dog-eared copy of Julia Child’s 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she will cook all 524 recipes. In the span of one year.

At first she thinks it will be easy. But as she moves from the simple Potage Parmentier (potato soup) into the more complicated realm of aspics and crépes, she realizes there’s more to Mastering the Art of French Cooking than meets the eye. With Julia’s stern warble always in her ear, Julie haunts the local butcher, buying kidneys and sweetbreads. She sends her husband on late-night runs for yet more butter and rarely serves dinner before midnight. She discovers how to mold the perfect Orange Bavarian, the trick to extracting marrow from bone, and the intense pleasure of eating liver.

And somewhere along the line she realizes she has turned her kitchen into a miracle of creation and cuisine. She has eclipsed her life’s ordinariness through spectacular humor, hysteria, and perseverance.

Favorite Dishes: Boeuf bourguignon, Braised cucumbers


Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

A family with an ancient curse…

And the girl who will change their lives forever…

Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home. Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets.

Favorite Dish: Onigiri


The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.

Favorite Dish: Meat Pasty


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. The text in this 372-page paperback edition is based on that first published in Great Britain by Collins Modern Classics (1998), and includes a note on the text by Douglas A. Anderson (2001). Unforgettable!

Favorite Dish: Seed Cake


Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts

When Nell Channing arrives on charming Three Sisters Island, she believes that she’s finally found refuge from her abusive husband—and from the terrifying life she fled so desperately eight months ago… But even in this quiet, peaceful place, Nell never feels entirely at ease. Careful to conceal her true identity, she takes a job as a cook at the local bookstore café—and begins to explore her feelings for the island sheriff, Zack Todd. But there is a part of herself she can never reveal to him—for she must continue to guard her secrets if she wants to keep the past at bay. One careless word, one misplaced confidence, and the new life she’s created so carefully could shatter completely. Just as Nell starts to wonder if she’ll ever be able to break free of her fear, she realizes that the island suffers under a terrible curse—one that can only be broken by the descendants of the Three Sisters, the witches who settled the island back in 1692. And now, with the help of two other strong, gifted women—and with the nightmares of the past haunting her every step—she must find the power to save her home, her love…and herself…

Favorite Dishes: Nell’s brown bread and triple chocolate brownies


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & ParkA coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Favorite Dishes: Gravioli (perfect late night snack food) and tacos



Do you have a favorite dish that you’ve ever recreated or wanted to recreate from a novel? What was it? How was it? Let me know! 😀





All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Protected by Claire Zorn


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 3 October 2017

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary/Mental Health

I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old.

Hannah’s world is in pieces and she doesn’t need the school counsellor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn’t have problems?

Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn’t afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?

In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl’s struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.

Rating: 5 Stars

Trigger Warning for bullying, including anti-gay/anti-transgender comments

*Spoilers Within*

Protected has a lot to talk about in its run time. There’s bullying, grief, and traumatic events. The book examines these from Hannah’s point of view and through that the reader witnesses how not everyone will react the same after an event like the one that killed Katie, Hannah’s sister. Not everyone is brought to justice and sometimes, justice is more complicated than right/wrong, black/white.

There are a lot of strong feelings in this book, depending upon who you’re looking at in a given scene. Hannah has a lot of sadness and a lot of anger, stemming from the bullying forced upon her and from the after effects of the car accident that changed her family.

Hannah’s mother sinks into a deep depression after the death of her elder daughter, but there’s also anger toward her husband, the driver of the car carrying her daughters and himself, but there’s also frustration toward Hannah, the only witness to the accident from that perspective. She wants to know what happened, who’s to blame, and since Hannah initially blocks out the traumatic event, her feelings turn against her husband and inward toward herself.

There are some slightly removed influences, such as Nanna (Hannah’s maternal grandmother) and Mrs. Van (the next door neighbor), that are affected by the tragedy but have different opinions of grief than the core family does. While Katie’s immediate family is encapsulated by her death, and the fact that her father is being tried as culpable in the accident, Nanna and Mrs. Van encourage moving forward and not becoming forever entrenched in their grief.

There’s a conflicting emotion that arose in this book, I think, with regards to Katie and we see this in what Hannah goes through and the flashbacks to the funeral, to school after the accident, and the scenes Hannah reflects upon of the two of them growing up. When someone dies, there’s this thing that happens that causes people in and around the situation to wipe clean the sins of the dead person and I could see it happening with Katie and the people that tormented Hannah.

Every interaction I had with Katie when she was alive and when Hannah “saw” her ghost beside her lead me to the conclusion that Katie was not a nice person. She was horrible to her sister and she lied a lot, both to her parents and Jensen, the person she was dating shortly before her death. However, at the funeral in particular, the people that had bullied Hannah and even those that had never been friends with Katie, were acting like she was a saint. It was a very sad occasion, of course, but what is it that makes mean people suddenly so kind after they’re gone?

Hannah’s experience, dealing with the changes of her world after the death of her sister, the fact that she’ll have to testify at a hearing in which her father is being prosecuted for the accident, and in who she is now that the bullying has subsided but never fully addressed, was an emotionally fraught experience.  I could feel a sickness in my stomach when people were confronting her, the worry and anxiety she had that the bullying would pick back up again. It was terrifying, written very well, and made the characters very real rather than flimsy background people.

The bullying aspect of this was, as I mentioned, sickening, but I think the worst part about it is that it’s never resolved, not really. Hannah misses school for a day and is being driven there the next day following some particularly horrible bullying event when the car accident occurs. After Katie’s death, it’s like Hannah becomes off limits. While I’m glad that she was at least left alone following a traumatic event, the Clones (the main perpetrators of the bullying) are never punished. No teacher ever finds out that they’re the ones that tormented Hannah, no one ever confronts them. Even Katie, before her death, never helped her sister because she was more interested in maintaining the image she had crafted before Hannah advanced to her school. It was intense and saddening and, thinking about it now, probably entirely too true. How many victims are there every day who are never given any justice?

A lot of contemporaries that I’ve read have had a romantic aspect to it and this one didn’t, which I appreciated so much. Josh, the character mentioned in the synopsis that might bring Hannah some hope, doesn’t fill that stereotypical romantic interest role. He’s a bit off putting at first and Hannah even worries that he’s acting nice as part of some larger act. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him because he did have a few annoying moments, but overall he turned out to be what Hannah needed most: a friend. They may become involved in the future, but for the course of the story their relationship was what it needed to be.

There is no real happy ending to this book. Some things are resolved, some things are not. I didn’t like some of those details, but it reflected real life more than I realized until I reflected upon it. Hannah’s life may still be difficult, it will always be affected by the actions of her sister, her peers, and the after effects of losing her sister, but there is a spark of hope that comes not only from the people supporting her, but from the strength she finds within herself to endure.






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.