Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#ARCAugust 2016 Wrap Up

#ARCAugust has come and gone.  It went so quickly!  I love this challenge, but it stinks that it only comes around once a year :(

Anyways, my goal of reading mostly books from my Netgalley queue was pretty much a total bust.  I think out of all of what I read this past month only 2 were actually sitting on Netgalley waiting for me to review.  Most of what I ended up reading were physical copies though I think a couple were from Edelweiss.

But it was definitely not a total bust.  I did manage to read quite a few ARCs and get them done!  Total for this round of #ARCAugust I read 12 ARCs!  So that is a total win in my book and I am happy with my results.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Explore Your Creative Side (#10)

Hi Everyone!

I have some news for you today.  This will be my last "Explore Your Creative Side" post!

Don't worry though!  It isn't that I wont be writing reviews for crafty/hobby/coloring books any more.  I will just be writing them in a new place that is a much better fit for them!  So you will still be able to find reviews, just not on Reading is Better With Cupcakes.

That being said.  Reading is Better With Cupcakes will definitely be sticking around.  And maybe I will still post a review for a coloring book or other creative type book here, but it will definitely not be under this feature.

I will be giving you all more information soon about where you will be able to find these reviews though!

Anyways, here are this months reviews!

Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles - Kickin' It Old School Coloring Book
Author: Random House and Patrick Spaziante
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Random House Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 Stars

I bought this coloring book for a friend who loves the TMNTs and now upon seeing the coloring book I have decided that I really need this one for myself!

The pages are technically single sided.  I say technically because on the back side there are a few words to tell you about the next page to color, but that is it.  The paper is a good thickness and if you don't mind chancing bleed through to ruin the side with the words I think you could use marker on the pages.  However, I would still put a page between the two just in case you use a heavier bleed through marker - such as a sharpie.

The pictures to color take up the entire page.  And they all differ.  Some of them have a bit more of a blurry quality to the lines, while others have lines that are much more crisp.  You can also tell that there is a good mixture between the newer Turtles and the older Turtles portrayed in this coloring book.

All in all, this is a great coloring book!!

This review is based on a purchased copy.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Title: Pop Manga Coloring Book - A Surreal Journey Through a Cute, Curious, Bizarre, and Beautiful World
Author: Camilla d'Errico
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Source: Blogging for Books
Rating: 4 Stars

This one is a good bit different than other coloring books I have.  This one isn't so much focused on repeating patterns, though there are some, but more on characters (people).

Also, the pictures to color tend to have a sketched quality to them, similar to what you see on the cover.  I kind of like this though.  It allows for you to feel like you are colaborating with Camilla d'Errico in a way to complete these works of art.

One thing that I don't know if I am a huge fan of though is the little character guy who appears on a few pages.  He/She pops up every so often to give you advice or tips, or to just tell you something about a specific picture.  Thankfully the character doesn't show up too often though.  I find it a little distracting when it shows up.

In regards to the paper quality.  It seems to be good.  They are double sided though, so I really doubt Copic or Prismacolor markers can be used since they bleed hard and heavy...which is a shame.  I have seen some fantastic works of art done in those mediums and I think some fantastic stuff could be done in this book with them.

All in all, I like this coloring book a lot.  It is a different than a lot of the other coloring books out there and I think that it will provide colorists with some fantastic opportunities to explore with new ways of coloring.

This review is based on a copy provided by Blogging for Books.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Review: The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniels

Title: The Summer That Melted Everything
Author: Tiffany McDaniel
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Source: Publisher/Netgalley


See those three dots right there?  That is how I felt through the majority of the book.  I just didn't know what to say or think about what was going on throughout the story.

And now that I am finished, I still don't.  I am going to try my best to put to words some of my feelings and thoughts for you, but I know already that no matter what I put down here it will never be able to truly express my feelings for The Summer That Melted Everything.

The main premise of The Summer That Melted Everything is that Autopsy Bliss took it upon himself to invite the Devil to his town of Breathed.  And to the surprise of everyone, the Devil decided to accept his invitation and show up in the form of a 13 year old African American boy who decides to go by the name of Sal.  Also, at the same time that Sal shows up, the town is hit by one of the worst heat waves it has ever suffered from.

The Summer That Melted Everything is told from the perspective of Fielding Bliss, the younger of Autopsy Bliss' two sons.  Sometimes it can be a little difficult to follow along with Fielding's narrative, especially until you get used to it.  He alternates between when he is reflecting back to that summer and to the old man he now is.  And occasionally he sprinkles in things that happened in his life between the two.

There is the story that The Summer That Melted Everything puts forth with its words.  And that story is intense and heartbreaking in and of itself.  However, this is the type of story where everything is a symbol for something else.  And when you realized even just a little bit of what each thing is truly representing, you then see how deep this story goes.  And it hurts.  It breaks you a little bit more every few pages.

This is not a lighthearted read by any means.

The Summer That Melted Everything probably touches upon every single hard topic there is out there - race, religion, sexuality, abuse....etc.  And each bit you read about hurts so much.

Also, I feel I should warn you - there is language in this book.  However, it is more than just the F bomb.  The "N" word is used a few times.

The Summer That Melted Everything is a book that will either make you very angry or you will love it.  There is no middle ground with it.  You will feel things.  A lot of things.  And most of what you feel will not be happy.  You will hurt, you will cry, you will find yourself needing to take a lot of breaks while reading.

This is one that to truly grasp everything that it is trying to tell you, that you will need to read it more than once.

My Rating
5 Stars

This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blog Tour: Scary Out There by Jonathan Maberry - A Guest Post

Title: Scary Out There
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 30, 2016

I had the great opportunity to pose some writing prompts for Jonathan Maberry to choose from and answer for all of you and he chose to answer

"What is your favorite horror/thriller topic to write about?"

And guys, his response is beyond words.  He gets so deep and real with his response.

I mean, just check out what he had to say:

"People always ask me why I write about monsters.
The thing is…I don’t. I write about people who fight monsters. It’s a big difference.
You see, some people really dig Count Dracula, but I always rooted for Professor Van Helsing. I rooted for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not the demons she fought. I like the band of kids on shows like Stranger Things, or the kid in the wheelchair who went up against a werewolf in Stephen King’s Silver Bullet.
My life has been about fighting that kind of fight.
You see, I was raised by monsters. And I grew up in a horror story.
I was born into poverty and we lived in a very violent neighborhood in Philadelphia. Drugs, gangs, gunfire, knifings. These were part of my daily life. SWAT teams kicking in the doors of other families on my block. Ambulances and police cars showing up with alarming regularity. Screams and shouting.
Inside my home it wasn’t any better. My father was a criminal and a very bad person. He ran the local chapter of the KKK, the white supremacist hate group. He hated people of color. He hated Jews. He hated anyone who didn’t fit his narrow and damaged image of the world. He force-fed that kind of hatred to his kids. At the same time he abused us. My four sisters and me. My father was a very large, powerful, dangerous man who liked to hurt with words and fists. Even the other fathers in my neighborhood were afraid of him, and they were all like him.
So, yeah, a horror story.
I wasn’t allowed to own books. My father said that reading that ‘junk’ was just me trying to ‘get above myself’. No, actually I was trying to get above him. Above, past, whatever.
So I kept my books and comics at my grandmother’s house. She was amazing. Imagine Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books as an old lady, and that’s my Nanny. A little weird, deeply intelligent, kind, wise…and knowledgeable. She read everything, and she read very deeply into subjects that interested her. She read folklore and mythology because she believed in the ‘larger world’; but she also read anthropology, history, archaeology, and science books because she believed that the supernatural was actually just another aspect of science that we hadn’t yet learned how to measure. Maybe she’s right.
Long before I read horror books or saw horror movies, Nanny was telling me stories about monsters. Weird versions of vampires and werewolves, evil mermaids, demons and imps, ghosts and goblins. She knew so many stories. But as she became aware of what was happening to me and my sisters, she began telling us different kinds of stories. Or, maybe it was that she began telling us those stories from a different point of view. Instead of stories of ogres eating unsuspecting travelers and old witches baking children into pies; she told us about children who turned the tables on those monsters. She told us hero tales, even when the hero was an ordinary person who did not have special gifts or magic weapons. Knowledge, she insisted, was the true super power. Many years later I saw this reflected in the writings of J.K. Rowling, because when Harry, Hermione, and Ron were faced with dark magic, they did research and consulted books and found solutions.
When I finally began reading horror novels and watching spooky movies, I was always drawn to how the heroes overcame what at first appeared to be insurmountable odds. I never liked it when luck played too big a part in victories over darkness, because I didn’t see much evidence of luck in my life.
Granted, I had my Nanny, so maybe I was lucky after all! But that’s a different story.
I was scared a lot as a kid: of my father, of the dark, of things that might lurk in the dark. I had a personal boogeyman who I called Doctor Nine (for no reason I have ever been able to discover). The more afraid I was, the more I read stories about people who were forced to fight monsters, to oppose darkness. Some of it was superhero stories, but let’s face it, there’s no real tension when Superman faces an enemy –he’s actually invincible. Batman and Daredevil less so. But I wasn’t a young billionaire with enormous resources and I didn’t have super-heightened senses. I was a kid.
I did a couple of things to try and launch my own guerilla resistance against the montsers in my life. First I started taking martial arts lessons on the sly with the father of a friend from school. I stuck with it, too, and I got physically tougher.
But the more important thing I did was read. Like Nanny I read all kinds of books and I read deeply into subjects I thought would be important to me. I wanted to educate myself out of that neighborhood. I wanted to think my way past the dragon that was father. I wanted to know enough so that I was armed for the coming battle –armed with knowledge, with understanding and with optimism.
Those are the tools for fighting monsters, you see.
And I got out. By the time I was fourteen I’d gotten tough enough to put an end to the cycle of violence in my house. I defeated my own monster.
I spent a good chunk of the next thirty years teaching self-defense to women, to children, to the elderly, to the physically-challenged, to LGBT groups, to pretty much anyone who gets bullied or abused because they are perceived as weak.
I never stopped reading books about people who fought monsters. I never stopped watching those movies and TV shows. If anything my dedication to horror has deepened considerably. My bias toward siding with the good guy against the monster is reflected in the stories I find most appealing –the ones where there is at least a chance of fighting back the darkness. I have friends who write very monster-centric stuff, and although I may enjoy some of that writing, it’s never been my thing.
I also like horror stories with a redemptive quality, where a monster becomes self-aware and tries to change, tries to not be defined by darkness any longer. I get that. When I was young I used the same hate words that I’d been taught, because it was all that I knew. Once I learned the truth about that kind of skewed thinking, I had to make a choice: let that make me into what my father had become; or choose a better road and define myself as I wanted to be. My friend Mike Mignola created the character of Hellboy, a demon destined to destroy the world but who dedicates his life to fighting evil. He gets it, too. Others among my friends do as well. Often for the same or similar reasons. We’ve seen monsters and we don’t want to see one looking back from our bathroom mirror. No sir.
I wish my story of why I like horror was a happier one. But it’s become happy. And it’s funny, because the other members of the Horror Writers Association –including all of the contributors of my new anthology, Scary Out There—are kind of normal. They’re not what people expect when they hear that someone writes horror. We don’t wallow in the darkness. We hold a flashlight. Maybe it’s as simple as ‘better out than in’; maybe we draw the venom of personal darkness out through the instrument of our laptops and the process of telling stories about facing the big, vast, impossibly threatening monster and taking a stand against it. The horror writers are the happiest, most well-balanced subgroup within the writing community that I know.
Scary Out There isn’t a book about monsters. It’s not a book about darkness. It’s not even a book about fear. It’s a book that explores those issues, those qualities, those phenomena. Some of the stories end well, some don’t. None of them, though, were written to celebrate the darkness.
We don’t write about monsters.
We write about people who fight them."

Jonathan Maberry
Del Mar, California, August 12, 2016

Thank you Jonathan Maberry for you real, in depth, and honest answer to the question.  And thank you for your time in answering it and letting me post it onto my blog :)

And thank you Hannah at Irish Banana Blog Tours for letting me a part of this fantastic tour!


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Tour Schedule
Don't forget to follow the rest of the tour!

Week 1:

Week 2:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: The Crepes of Wrath by Sarah Fox

Title: The Crepes of Wrath
Author: Sarah Fox
Series: A Pancake House Mystery #1
Publisher: Alibi
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Source: Chatterbox

The cover of this book just screams "cozy mystery" to me, and that is exactly what it gives you!  The title also makes me kind of hungry.  It has been quite a while since I have eaten any crepes, despite how much I like them, and it makes me want to go out and get some.

Actually, there are quite a few moments in this book where you are going to find yourself really wanting a pancake...  Thankfully though, there are a couple recipes at the end so that you can make a few of them yourself!

But enough about how this book is going to make you hungry.  I am sure you are really here to find out what the book is about and a few of my non spoilerish thoughts.

The Crepes of Wrath is about Marley.  Marley has traveled back to a town she hasn't visited in quite a few years to help out her uncle while he is in the hospital.  She doesn't really know how to run a pancake house or anything, but she loves her uncle and is doing it to help him out.

Then her uncle gets out of the hospital at least a day earlier than expected - which is ok...  Until they find his body at the bottom of a cliff...

The rest of the story is about Marley trying to figure out the hows and whys of her uncle ended up at the bottom of the cliff.

Along with trying to figure out the mystery, we get to meet a lot of the townsfolk and see Marley make various types of relationships with them.  Also, we follow along with her struggle of losing her uncle Jimmy and wondering what to do with her life.

All in all, this was a nice fast paced read.  It did, however, lag a bit here and there.  There just wasn't much going on during those times, so I guess it is to be expected.

And like I said, it will make you hungry for breakfast food (specifically pancakes), so just be ready for that.

I think The Crepes of Wrath is a great introduction to a new cast of characters and small town.  It will be interesting to see where this story goes to next!

My Rating
3 Stars

This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher through the Chatterbox program.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

#ARCAugust 2016 Week 3 Update

I am so happy to be able to tell you all that this last week went a lot better in regards to getting some ARCs finally read and out of the way!  I went from only having 2 done to having a total of 8 done!  I finished up 6 more ARCs this past week!

Yes, some of them were picture books and another couple were fun fact (or were they?) filled books, but they were all ARCs!

Here is what I finished up this week:

And I am currently working on another book.  I will be trying to get it done before the end of #ARCAugust, but it is kind of....weird.  So it is taking me a bit longer to read it.  So here is to hoping I can get it done!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Blog Tour: The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse - The Playlist

If you haven't already read The Neverland Wars, you really really should.  In fact, I have a review of it that you can check out right HERE!

Oh and Audrey Greathouse has been fabulous and has given us her playlist that she listened to while she wrote The Neverland Wars!  So now you can listen to it too and see where her inspiration has come from!

Check it out!

I listened to a lot of music while writing The Neverland Wars, but there were a few I kept coming back to as if they had the secrets of my unwritten story hidden inside them. Some of my favorite artists are my favorites because they deal with the same existential issues I wanted to dive into with The Neverland Wars. If I had to pick a dozen songs to sum up the book, it would be these:

We will be happy when we're older...
Let us worship the wind the beach and the morning sun,
It will get better when we're older

Snowapple is one of my all-time favorite bands, and have been ever since they came over from Amsterdam for their first US tour. This song mocks the thought that things will “get better” just because we grow up, but it is so upbeat you can't help but smile (if not laugh) while listening.

I love you more when I'm missing you
It's why I am always away...
I think I was born to be in a state of longing
Born to be wanting wanting

This would be Gwen's theme song if she had one. She's a character riddled with conflict because she's so bad at determining what her own desires are, let alone finding the will to act on them.

Under the Rainbow, The Jane Austen Arguement

Oh – and everything is black and white
Except these choices I am making
About the coloured boxes I could fit in.

Another one of my favorite bands, this one a cabaret duo from Australia, have so many songs that deserve a spot on this playlist. The best one to mention is this Wizard of Oz themed examination of how your own life can get away and leave you behind. I think it perfectly hits on aspects of Gwen's disillusionment with reality.

We learned to see through many glasses,
How to sink and how to fly,
We learned to watch each other die...

Adults have a habit of remembering childhood as a time of total carefree bliss, but songs like Ways To Love are brutally honest about the way life (and sometimes loved ones) force you to come to terms with reality even as a child. You'll never realize how comforting it can be to hear a man with an accordion scream at you until you listen to Jason Webley.

I give up! I give in! I was always on the fringe
Looking into your little circle.
If I stay here, there's no way for me to win

A great song from the little known “fairy goth” singer-songwriter. The frustration in this song about being an outsider within your own relationship with someone reminds me both of Gwen's friendship with immature Peter as well as her view of high school society.

Thought I could change the story
Didn't like how the way it looked
So I took my pencil
And I rewrote that whole storybook

There's an old nursery rhyme that assigns virtues to children based on what day of the week they're born on. Sunday's child is the happiest of all, and Wednesday's child is “full of woe.” Surrounded by the innocent nativey of the lost children, I always imagined Gwen as a Wednesday's child once she was in Neverland.

One of the most whimsical pieces of classical music in existence, this is what I imagine playing as Gwen lands in Neverland for the first time and gets swarmed by the lost children

Far away from home she will be
By the weekend's end
Lost without her mental map
Or couch, or car, or friend

The best song I've ever heard about moving out and going to college. Pretty Balanced has a knack for making weird music about ordinary things, and when I listen to this I can't help but think about the reality that awaits Gwen if she makes the decision to keep on growing up in this world.

I can be your lost boy, your last chance
Your "everything better" plan
Oh, somewhere in Neverland

I've got a soft spot in my heart for pop-punk, and what does internal adolescent angst sound like if not four chords on an electric guitar and whiny vocals?

Take me away from time and season
Far, far away we'll sing with reason...

I stumbled onto Globus one night and had the idea for The Neverland Wars while listening to them for the first time. I scribbled down an outline that night, almost two years before I began drafting the book.

Entire chapters book were written while this track was looping in the background. I listened to a lot of James Newton Howard's film scores, and still do. The feeling I got from the fairy dance scene in the 2003 Peter Pan movie was something I wanted to put down into words and share with others.

I'ma get your heart racing in my skin-tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight...

I have to put The Neverland Wars antithesis song in the playlist... it is the only song referenced in the book. I would listen to this song any time I had writer's block or was discouraged, because it reminded me how passionately I wanted to paint a picture of what my teenage dream was. (Hint: it had nothing to do with drunken sex or skinny jeans)

The Piper's Price

Oh my goodness guys. Do you see how gorgeous the cover for book 2 is? Just look at it! And check out the blurb! I need to read this ASAP!!!!

Peter is plotting his retaliation against the latest bombing. Neverland needs an army, and Peter Pan is certain children will join him once they know what is at stake. The lost boys and girls are planning an invasion in suburbia to recruit, but in order to deliver their message, they will need the help of an old and dangerous associate—the infamous Pied Piper.
Hunting him down will require a spy in in the real world, and Gwen soon finds herself in charge of locating the Piper and cutting an uncertain deal with him. She isn’t sure if Peter trusts her that much, or if he’s just trying to keep her away from him in Neverland. Are they friends, or just allies? But Peter might not even matter now that she's nearly home and meeting with Jay again.
The Piper isn't the only one hiding from the adults' war on magic though, and when Gwen goes back to reality, she'll have to confront one of Peter's oldest friends… and one of his earliest enemies.

And don't forget to check out the Twitter Q&A!!!!