Book Review for “After Dad” by Ralph Cohen

 

synopsis

He was always there for me, Jenny Kovacek says in the opening of the novel After Dad, and indeed, her father is such a charismatic force in the family that despite his untimely passing, he continues to have a dynamic impact on his survivors. Set mostly in Southern California during the tumultuous 1960s, Ralph Cohen’s debut novel tells the stories of the man’s three children and widow as they cope with his loss. Though missing, the father is never far from their minds, and during critical moments in their lives, he seems to reach out in various ways, from simple memories of touch and voice to artifacts left behind to a sense of his ongoing existence. How each of the family members responds to his lingering presence leads to results that are by turn comic, tragic and transformative.

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After Dad was a haunting read. The author does such an amazing job drawing you into the eyes and thoughts of each character. 

Jenny seemed for the longest time to not believe her dad was really gone. You can feel her heart aching at his loss. Her dad truly was her best friend. She’s basically just floating in her existence. Her view of the world is very surreal. She is a very relatable character for me. 

Margot on the other hand felt his loss in a sharp way. Like a piece of her was just gone and all the cogs that needed to push each other for her to function lost all their teeth. Like a chasm opened up inside her and she couldn’t figure out how to keep from getting sucked all the way in. I felt for her. Life really does suck out parts of you along the way. I just wanted to grab her and give her the right direction to go in. 

Toby…poor Toby I think felt it worst of all. Maybe even more so than his mother. He lives in a delusion. It’s almost as if he moves in and out of reality. His character was fascinating to read from. His view on everything is so distorted. Even at the end….it’s as if he wasn’t really all the way into reality. 

I wish we would of been able to read more from Ruth’s perspective. Being left with three kids couldn’t have been more of a shock. Being married to someone with so much personality and then losing them….with everyone still looking at you to keep it together….I just can’t fathom the pain.

This man was such a vibrant person. With his stories and his flippant way of handling the world. Almost as if nothing could touch him. I can imagine how big a hole losing someone like that would leave.

It would feel empty. Empty and cold. 

Ralph Cohen has done something amazing here. He has brought these characters to life. He has made their grief so complicated and intricate. He has given me characters that will stick in my head for a long time. He has given me things to wonder….avenues into others complex feelings and experiences. 

He has done one of the hardest things an author can do. He’s made me love and hate, fear for and cheer, fall in love and then lose it all. He has made me feel. No greater deed can be done than to appeal to what make’s us human.

This book deserves the full 5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: After Dad | Author(s): Ralph Cohen |Publisher: Tattersall Press / Publication Date: 1-11-2014 |Pages: 309 (paperback) |
ISBN: 9780615942384 | Genre(s): Fiction  | Language: English |
Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-30-2015 | Source: Copy from author

Book Review “Cold Water Bridegroom” B. Brumley

 

synopsis

 Calder Brumen grew up in San Francisco, and he’s always been drawn to the ocean. He’s spent his life capturing the beauty of the Pacific on canvas. Over time, he’s grown obsessed with painting the image of a dark haired mermaid named Gaire, and Calder struggles to explain his devotion to these portraits to his best friend. When Calder finds sandy footprints leading to the edge of his bed, he suspects that the haunting siren is real. In pursuit of the truth, Calder is dragged into a murderous, underwater plot that could destroy them all. And he must choose – is the possibility of a lifetime with Gaire worth risking death for himself and everyone he loves?

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Mermaid’s, sea nymphs and magical prophesies. Honestly, what else do you need in a book to make it awesome? Cold Water Bridegroom hits the nail on the head.

I loved this book. I always enjoy reading from a man’s perspective. It’s a nice change up from the multitude of female protagonists out there. 

This story is written perfectly. The pacing is great. The character building is great. The descriptions are amazing. The mystery woman is set up perfectly. There is a perfect amount of action and emotional dilemma.

It really hooked me. Which really is not that common with a shorter book. I have found that with the shorter novels, I’m left still wanting more detail. I’m left feeling like I didn’t get enough closure to the story.

This book closed up real nice. All the characters for the most part had happy endings. As you all know by now, I like my endings tidy and happy.

Calder’s character is very well written. Right off the bat I could see the world through his eyes and feel his draw to the mystery mermaid woman. I could feel his frustration. I could feel his confusion. 

For a book about mermaids, it was incredibly realistic. If I ever go diving, there is a good chance that I’ll be keeping my eye out for some under water mermaid civilization. To be honest though, I really am the target audience for this book. I want mermaids to be real pretty bad. 

In short, this book was amazing. I wish it didn’t have to end. I could live in that world a bit longer. 

This book gets the full 5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Cold Water Bridegroom | Author(s): B. Brumley |Publisher: Joyful Peacock Press / Publication Date: 8-2-2015 |Pages: 204 (paperback) |
ISBN: 9780692538418 | Genre(s): Fantasy  | Language: English |
Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-29-2015 | Source: Copy from author

My Hallozooween Adventure

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Daniel and I made the mistake last year of taking Mason to the aquarium on Halloween night. BIG MISTAKE. Let me tell you, that place was packed more than a can of sardines. If the zombie apocalypse had begun, we would of been zombie food.

So, this year we wizened up and looked for a place that was not a building crammed full of people. We chose our local zoo. 

It was a blast! Aside from having to park literally a mile away from the entrance that is. To be honest though,  I really wasn’t that upset about the walk. We just bought this fancy Lille Baby carrier and I’ve been itching to use it before the new baby gets here. At a whopping 35 lbs, my son is fast approaching the time where he will be too big for this carrier and if he is still digging being worn, we’ll have to shell out more cash to buy a toddler version. 

Moving on…… there was definitely a lot of people there but it didn’t feel so claustrophobic since it was outside. Sadly, my tiny pirate had to wear a hoodie over his costume so he looked like an old Navy pirate. Old Navy being the brand his sweater proclaims in huge letters on the front. At least it said navy…thats pirate..ish. Humor me…:)

All in all, my son had a great time. They had the place decorated with kid friendly scary stuff and there was lots of glowing flashing stuff. 

I walked about 2 1/2 miles from start to finish with my 35 lb pirate on my back. Considering I’m 34 weeks pregnant I’d say that’s pretty impressive.  

So, if your looking for a fun way to do something other than knock on strangers doors for candy, I would suggest you check out your local zoo and see what they have going on.  We’ll probably make this a yearly thing.

Book Review for “Janalya” by Marie Godley

synopsis

Janalya is an air elemental, searching for others of her kind.
Katsuo is Shatara, a shape-shifting panther.
History decrees that they are enemies, but fate seems to be handing them different roles. What is Janalya’s true destiny, and is it more complex than even she knew?

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The beginning of this book was really good. The battle and peace treaty were a good way to hook the reader quickly. The descriptions of Janalya’s village and the elemental village are great. I wish we would of gotten more information about the villages.

The book feels really rushed. I could of used more detail. It felt like we weren’t really getting to know the characters. They never fully formed as people in my head.

The dialog was also a bit odd. It felt like they were saying the same things in different way’s over and over again.

It was also a bit over the top emotional wise. I felt like there was more feels than action.

However, there is a great story here just waiting to be heard. The world is great. The “powers” are cool. The gist of the story is really interesting. 

With a bit more detail added and minus some of the repeating dialog, this story would be awesome.

As it stands,

I give it 3 stars.

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The Technical Data:

Title: Janalya | Author(s): Marie Godley |Publisher: Marie Godley / Publication Date: 8-22-2015 |Pages: 190 (kindle) |ISBN: B013PQTVP0 | Genre(s): Young Adult Fantasy  | Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-27-2015 | Source: Copy from author

Indie Author Spotlight- D.G. Driver

D.G. Driver is the incredible writer of two books I have reviewed. “Passing Notes” and “Cry of the Sea”. Click the titles to see my reviews. She has the amazing gift of writing from a teenagers perspective with such accuracy it will transport you back to your own teen years. Her stories are perfect for any young adult and as an adult I enjoyed them too. 


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Author Bio:

D. G. Driver is the author of Cry of the Sea, a new YA fantasy novel featuring mermaids, published by Fire and Ice. She also wrote “The Jamaican Dragon” which is featured in the pirate anthology A Tall Ship, A Star and Plunder from Dark Oak Press. As Donna Getzinger she is the author of several nonfiction books. She is a long time member of SCBWI. In addition to writing, she is a teacher and actress.


-The Interview-

Q: In your book “Cry of the Sea”, the main characters are all environmental activists. Is this a passion of your own?

I originally hail from Southern California, and I think we’re all a little more environmentally conscious there. Every house has a recycling can. There were always droughts (and of course there’s a major one now), so we grew up learning how to conserve water. I grew up 20 minutes from the beach and learned at a young age to keep plastic and trash out of the water. Now I live in Tennessee, and caring for the environment is a growing thing. Nashville has a big Earth Day festival each spring, and I had a booth at a Earth Day festival in a smaller town south of Nashville that same weekend. It was a busy day. I’m excited to see people caring about the planet.

Q:  The Mermaid myth has fascinated people for thousands of years. Do you think they could exist? Or have existed?

Right at this moment there is a HUGE mermaid fandom. I don’t know when that started, but I’ve discovered there are thousands of people who love mermaids, believe in mermaids, and cosplay as mermaids. There are professional mermaid models and performers, and they are exquisite. So, I bite my lip a little as I write this, because I don’t want to disappoint any of those people, but no, I don’t believe there are real mermaids. I think that they began as lore to explain why sailors disappeared at sea. I like to believe that if mermaids were indeed real, though, they would look like the ones in my book, less human and more creature.

Q:  Where do you find the most inspiration for your writing?

I get a lot of my ideas from snippets in the news or a cast off fact in a documentary about a different subject. The concept for Cry of the Sea was initially born after all the 1999 press coverage of the 10-year anniversary of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. I toyed with the idea of what would happen if a mermaid washed up during an oil spill. It took a long time from idea to published book, but that was the genesis.

Q: What advice would you give to a new writer?

Slow down. It’s not a race. Take the time to write a really good story, a clean story, and then take a break for a month before coming back to clean it up. Don’t concentrate on where you’re going to publish. Worry about that later. Also, read a lot, especially in the genre you want to write.

Just for fun questions:

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 things (other than basic survival items) would you want to have?

I like that you put that caveat in there. And I’m going with “things” as not including people. Is it wrong that a part of me wants to say a volleyball?

  1. A soft blanket. I get cold easily and I would also want to cuddle with it when I got lonely and sad.
  2. Pictures of my family, real printed ones.
  3. A large book of classic short stories like the one I got in college. I think I wouldn’t get bored reading those over and over as much as I would one novel.

Q: What would you say is the weirdest phobia you have?

Weird? I think I can honestly say no one has ever called me weird. I’m one of those really calm, normal people. However, I am intensely shy, and what people think is weird about me is that I am also an actress and singer and love being on stage. The only way I can explain it is this: when I’m in a show or doing a presentation, I’ve been asked to be there. People are coming to be entertained by me. When I’m approaching someone at a party or a conference (or whatever social venue) no one has asked me to be there, I’m putting myself there. So, I become afraid of not being welcomed or liked.

Q: What was something you did/wore/loved that was totally cool when you were a teen, but you now wish you could erase from history?

Oh, well, I was a teen in the ‘80s so there’s quite a lot of clothing I wore then that kids wear as costumes now. I was a dancer back then and a big fan of the Flashdance look. I kept the cut up sweatshirt going way longer than necessary. I don’t think I looked that bad, though, just very ‘80s. What did look bad was the poodle perm I had my sophomore year.

Q: If the Zombie Apocalypse happened, how do you think you would fare?

My husband is pretty good with guns and my step-daughter is pretty good with knives. I’m pretty level-headed in a crisis, but I’m not tough. I think if we work as a team, I might fare well. I hate to say this, but my daughter’s kind of panicky, so she might get eaten first. I’d die second because I’d run after her to protect her.


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Summary from Goodreads:

Juniper Sawfeather is choosing which college to attend after graduation from West Olympia High School next year. She wants to go to San Diego to be far away from her environmental activist parents. They expect her to think the way they do, but having to be constantly fighting causes makes it difficult to be an average 17 year old high school student. Why do her parents have to be so out there? Everything changes when she and her father rush to the beach after a reported oil spill. As they document the damage, June discovers three humans washed up on the beach, struggling to breathe through the oil coating their skin. At first she thinks they must be surfers, but as she gets closer, she realizes these aren’t human at all. They’re mermaids!Now begins a complex story of intrigue, conspiracy and manipulation as June, her parents, a marine biologist and his handsome young intern, her best friend, the popular clique at school and the oil company fight over the fate of the mermaids.

This book can be purchased at Amazon. Click the link —-> “Cry of the Sea”.


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Summary from Goodreads:

Mark has finally gotten the attention of the girl of his dreams. Only, his lame attempts at romance through texts and emails seem to be turning her off. When he gets put in the back of the room in an over-full class at school, he begins to discover old notes giving advice about how to write a great love letter. At first he thinks he’s stumbled on some long-forgotten notes passed in class ages ago, but every time he reads them they seem directed specifically to him. They also appear at the perfect moment each time he needs more advice. It’s like someone is haunting him.

How do the notes keep appearing? Who’s writing them? Why?

And if Mark follows the ghostly writer’s advice, will he win Bethany’s love?

This book can be purchased at Amazon. Click the link —> “Passing Notes”.

Children’s Book Review “Hooray For Diffendoofer Day!” Dr. Seuss

 

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Started by Seuss, finished by Prelutsky, and illustrated by Lane Smith, “Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!” is a joyous ode to individuality. The story stars an unsinkable teacher named Miss Bonkers and quirky little Diffendoofer School, which must prove it has taught its students how to think. Includes Seuss’ original 1989 pencil sketches and hand-printed notes for the book. (Ages 4 – 8)

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As a child I loved anything that Dr. Seuss wrote. I devoured every book I could find from him. So, when I became a parent I was so excited to share these stories with my own son. I read him “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” for the first time when he was only 4 months old. That was his first Christmas. 

You can imagine my excitement when I found a book by Seuss that I had never read. I was so excited when I found it at the library that I called my husband at work just to gush. He was just as excited as I was. 

This book was started by Seuss before he died and finished by Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith after Seuss’ passing. I am so happy that they finished it.

I am a huge proponent of teaching and nurturing a critical thinking mindset in children. Apparently, so was Seuss.

This book take’s you through an amazing school where the world is brought to life in fun and exciting ways. Where life is lived with wonder and amazement. 

Of all the books by Seuss, This is in my top two favorite list.

Best of all, my two year old LOVES it. He listens so intently every single time I read it to him. He smiles and laughs at the antic’s of the teachers.

This story celebrates learning in creative ways. It celebrates the individuality of children. It reminds us that we are all something special because we are our own person.

As a parent, I couldn’t of asked for more in a book. If Seuss were still alive, I would hunt him down and hug the crap out of him for all he has done for children.

They are so much more than mere stories.

Please, please, please read this story to your children. Remember that we are not cookie cutter and cherish and nurture your sweet child’s individuality. 

Mason and I give this book 5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Hooray For Diffendoofer Day | Author(s): Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, Lane Smith |Publisher: Harper Collins / Publication Date: 11-5-2001 |Pages: 64 (paperback) |
ISBN: 9780007127405 | Genre(s): Children’s  | Language: English |
Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-26-2015 | Source: Library

Book Review for “The Boy Who Fell from the Sky” by Jule Owen

 

synopsis

London is flooded for the fourth time in ten years, on the eve of the outbreak of the First Space War. With the city locked down, sixteen-year-old Mathew Erlang is confined to his house with only his cat, his robot and his holographic dragons for company.

Watching from his bedroom window, Mathew becomes fascinated by Clara, the young pianist coming each day for her music lesson. But he is not the only one observing her – so is his peculiar and reclusive neighbour, August Lestrange.

When Mathew accidentally finds himself trapped in Lestrange’s house, he opens a door and falls four hundred years into the future, a week before the end of the world, and unwittingly starts to destabilise the course of human history.

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This book is one of the best dystopian novels I have read in awhile. Owen incorporated the time travel element in a really inventive way. Time travel has been written and rewritten about and can make a person sigh sometimes at how often the same themes or methodologies are used. 

Owen puts a fresh spin on it in The Boy Who Fell From The Sky.

The technology in this book is awe inspiring. If I’m still alive in 2055, I hope we have some of the cool tech described in this novel. Especially, the holographic dragons. 

I also really enjoyed how climate change is brought to life in this book. It’s a very real issue that can and will affect all of us in our lifetimes. The descriptions are well done and on par with what I know of the climate models predictions. Clearly, Owen has put a lot of blood, sweat and research into this novel.

The governments protocals to these climate situations were also very believable. Based on how we have seen governments around the world react when any type of climate disaster has struck, I would say this book accurately portrays the type of lock down curfew that could be initiated among other programs.  

The pacing in this book was perfect. There was enough explanation to hook you into each new situation and acclimate you to the world the characters live in without info dumping all over the place. All of the characters are interesting and connected. I like how its a tangled web.

I loved the time travel premise. From the books in the library, to the darkroom, I was eating up every next thing. It’s such a clever idea. 

This book was incredible. I absolutely LOVED it.

Full 5 stars from me.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Boy Who Fell From The Sky | Author(s): Jule Owen |Publisher: Mean Time Books / Publication Date: 9-22-2015 |Pages: 241 (kindle edition) |
ISBN: 9780993409714 | Genre(s): Young Adult Dystopian Time Travel | Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-24-2015 | Source: Copy From Author

The Twilight Zone Dentist Trip

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It’s a sad thing when we get so used to people being rude that when faced with a group of people who are genuinely nice…… it makes a person nervous. That’s the sad truth of the matter though. 

Today I went to the dentist. I know, I know, my life is sooooo glamorous. This place was awesome. It has trains everywhere. There is a track that runs all around the building along the ceiling and a train loops through it every minute or so. My son LOVED it. Needless to say the hubs and I will be installing something similar in Mason’s room before too long. It’s way to cool of an idea not to copy.

Let me paint a picture for you…….

When you walk in the entire place is decorated in train everything.  If Sheldon Cooper were a real person…he would pass out in this place.

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I was immediately greeted by a woman at the desk. She was smiling and everything. I’m very obviously pregnant and she was soooo excited about it. She was incredibly nice. After a short wait, I was called back to the chair where my teeth would be cleaned and examined. Once again, nice hygienist. Incredibly nice.

The dentist come’s in. Once again, incredibly nice. 

They were all so nice it was damn near sinister. SINISTER.

I really kept waiting for the creepy music to play and someone to come at me with a drill with no anesthetic. Or for someone to knock me out and I’d later wake up in someone’s trunk or storage shed.

Alas, none of that happened. My teeth were cleaned. Another visit was scheduled. Everyone continued to be incredibly nice.

I even got a free t-shirt.

Thanks Hollywood for making me afraid of nice people. 

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Book Review for “Mercy’s Gift” by Katy Huth Jones

 

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While Prince Valerian adjusts to marriage as well as his new title, conspiracy brews in the south among disgruntled lords who wish to separate from the north. The situation is made even more volatile by a charismatic rebel leader whose guerilla tactics are swift and brutal.

The clandestine efforts of a witch hired by one of the lords render Valerian’s gift of Sight ineffective, and Merry’s Healing gift is sorely tested.

It has become dangerous for a northerner living in the south, and if the gifted young royals fail to stop the growing rebellion, evil will reign in Levathia.

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This is the second book in the He Who Finds Mercy series. AlliesOpinions reviewed the first book in this series not too long ago.

Click here to see review of the first book ” Mercy’s Prince”. 

Mercy’s Gift was set to a very different pace compared to Mercy’s Prince. There was a lot of character building and world building throughout this book and the reader really gets to intimately know the characters. I enjoyed that. It helps to solidify them in my imagination and bring them ever closer to being “real”. 

I also enjoyed how Valerian and Merry’s marriage is realistic. It wasn’t all “and they lived happily ever after, the end”. Because honestly, that’s not real. There is a definite adjustment period. Especially for two people who haven’t known each other long. They are really feeling each other out. It’s hard to go from only worrying about oneself to having to consider how your every action can affect someone else. Kudo’s to Jones for capturing that. It gave a real depth to Merry and Valerian’s relationship as well as their individual characters.

One of my favorite parts of this book was hearing so much from Kieran. He has been a favorite of mine from the first book. His character is so bright and complicated. He was so well explained that he felt real. He is such a likable guy. I was glad to see him form attachments to other people other than just Valerian. Even if those attachments later cause him pain. Seems like that’s a common theme for poor Kieran.

I also approve of the way Kieran and Merry’s situation was resolved. At the end of the first book my heart was really hurting for Kieran. I could see how much pain he was in. I like how they found a way to maintain their friendship and continue to support and be there for each other. 

Once the action got rolling, it got ROLLING. In a big way. The build up was a little drawn out but overall it was well done. Though the build up did get kind of tedious, one has to remember that this is a book in a series and that usually allows the author a bit more wiggle room with long explanations and drawn out suspense. I got the sense that those involved in the plot were really biding their time and that helped carry the story. 

I will say this….I hated the ending. Hated it. I am a tidy it up all nice and pretty kind of person. I like my happy endings. This did not have a happy ending for me. That is my only real complaint with the book.

The writing had much more finesse compared to the first book. The characters have much more depth and the world is explained in much more detail. All in all, it’s a pretty good book for a second book in a series. The characters are likable and easy to get attached to. The dragon’s are still awesome and of course Valerian still gets to ride one. People die but, in noble ways. Levathia has become more real with this book. I will be reading the next book. Hopefully something good will come along to help me get over the ending of this book.

 I enjoyed the book but, I didn’t feel like it was as great as the first. So, I give it 4 stars.

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This book may have some events that are triggering to some people. Please click the link ” Scifi and Scary Triggers Post” to check for yourself. WARNING: This post will have spoilers….

 

The Technical Data:

Title: Mercy’s Gift ( He Who Finds Mercy Book 2) | Author(s): Katy Huth Jones |Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform / Publication Date: 10-6-15 | Pages: 424 (paperback) |ISBN: 1517316278 | Genre(s): Young Adult Christian Fantasy | Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-21-2015 | Source: Copy From Author

Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Wishes I’d Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me.

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This prompt came from The Broke and Bookish. This is going to be a fun one!

Ok, so this makes me think of the old saying ” if wishes were fishes…” BUT! Maybe there is a person out there who will smile upon my wishes and grant me free stuff. Come one…you all know you want free stuff too! Freeeeeeeee Stuffffffff!

1: Children’s book’s.

I need more of them. Mason is getting really sick of the one’s we have at home and I think we are on the brink of exhausting our local libraries stash. Plus, an ever increasing amount of books there look like they were used as chew toys. Gross.

2: Cook books for people who suck at cooking.

My husband is going to read this and probably roll his eyes. I don’t do a whole lot of cooking. This is for the good of our family. Trust me on this. I need detailed instructions. I need recipes that use ingredients that I’ve actually heard of. I don’t want to play find the obscure ingredient in this gigantic store game. Just…no.

3: Home school Books.

If anyone were to ever give me something for free. This would be it. That crap is soooo expensive! I mean gees!

4: A home library.

I’m actually well on my way to making this dream come true. I want a room full of nothing but books! Add a really comfortable chair in there too. Oh, and you know…a starbucks. A girl can dream.

5: The ability to read faster.

I read pretty fast but, I have been humbled in this aspect by a friend of mine who also blogs.

( scifi and scary ). That woman has skills.

6: More Historical novels.

I love them. The more accurate, the better.

7: More Classic Literature.

I am amassing quite a collection already. I would like to see that dream come true.

8: More male protagonists in Young Adult novels.

I think this would encourage more young men to read.

9: Meet Phillipa Gregory. My favorite author.

I would love to meet her. The way she brings history to life is amazing.

10: More time to read.

Time…is there ever enough?

Thanks for reading my list. If you bump into the book genie…point him my way.