Womb: A Novel in Utero

I was given a copy of this book for an honest review*Please note I very rarely review unsolicited manuscripts*

Womb: A Novel in Utero by Eric D. Goodman is an adult fiction book told from the perspective of an unborn child. Penny wasn’t ready to be a mother. Her life wasn’t where she expected it to be and the circumstances of her pregnancy were also unplanned and completely unexpected. Ignoring the life growing inside her and terrified of confessing the truth of her pregnancy to her husband Jack, Penny’s guilt and anxiety writhe inside her as does the fetus within.

Our narrator feels every bump in the road, every twist and turn. He can feel his mother’s emotions and intuit the world around her. Memories are passed between mother and son and access to the collective unconsciousness allows our narrator to ruminate about life and all it’s hurdles.

Will Jack and Penny be able to overcome their differences and embrace an unexpected future? And what can a fetus do when it’s very existence is threatened?

This is the second book I’ve read by Goodman,  Tracks: A Novel in Stories being the first. Goodman has a knack for pace and writing that is readable and relatable. His books are a breeze to get through and something about the writing just sucks you in.

When I first picked up Womb, I was a bit skeptical because where can a story go when it’s narrator is literally in a void–unable to communicate, let alone act upon the world it inhabits. But the way Goodman sets up our narrator, he can do just that. Yes, he is an outside observer but sometimes those are the best narrators. Through the baby’s eyes we get to see an everyday couple go through ups and downs.

I just happen to be pregnant while reading this book, which I think gave me a whole different perspective on it. I know how my baby is growing and what is happening, so it was interesting to see the narrator grow in these same stages throughout. It also makes you think about the bond a mother and child form, even before the baby is born.

I will say, that I was more wrapped into the story itself rather than the narrators musings about life. At times our fetus was a little too philosophical for me, which was a little hard to believe. Don’t get me wrong, some very poignant thoughts and ideas but from the perspective of a fetus is was sometimes hard to get my head around.

Overall, this was a quick read with a unique narration that kept me interested throughout. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Family Storytime: Birthdays

Hi Guys. My family storytime this week just happened to fall on my birthday, so I decided what better then to have a birthday theme storytime!

I always start with the same warm ups:

  • Song – Top of the Morning
    • This is a good song to warm up with because we stretch all the parts we will be using in storytime. Eyes, arms, legs, mouth, nose.
  • Rhyme – Say Hello
    • love this rhyme. Everyone claps along and at the end we say hello how ever I tell them to. Loud, soft, quick, slow.
  • Movement Exercise – Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
    • We do this three times, faster and FASTER each time.
  • Song – Hokey Pokey
    • Once we were warmed up we did a little hokey pokey to shake things up.

From here we get into our theme.

  • ASL – Happy Birthday
    • I like to teach my my kids a few American Sign Language signs at the start of every storytime. This helps foster communication and with a large deaf community in our town it’s a great tool to have.
  • Flip Chart – Happy Birthday to You
    • This is sung to the tune of twinkle, twinkle little star.

Happy Birthday, it’s your day.51e9i59kinl-_sx456_bo1204203200_

Hope it’s great in every way. 

We are here to celebrate

Because we thing that you are GREAT!

Happy Birthday, it’s your day.

Hope it’s great in every way. 

  • Story w/ Props – It’s My Birthday by Helen Oxenbury
    • My colleague had this one all ready for me. She had all the ingredients, a paper oven and I pulled all of my puppet friends to help me bake the cake.
  • Song – Happy Birthday
    • This is a great dancing birthday song. My colleague gave it to me from a CD of hers but I have no idea what it actually is. It goes something like “Happy Birthday, hap happy birthday. It’s your birthday…”
  • Movement Exercise – Make a Wish

Big Chocolate cake (Make big bowl with your arms)5151ugpa-tl-_sx444_bo1204203200_

Dish of ice cream (Make a cup out of your hands)

Ten candles (Wiggle your fingers)

Make a wish and blow them out! (Blow on each of your hands and make a fist to show the candles are out)

  • Flannel Board – Ten Little CandlesI used candles we already had made and got the words from here. I used the flannel instead of my fingers but it would have worked just as well.
  • Song -Shake my Sillies Out
    • By this time we were ready to get our wiggles out so I played this classic and we shook out all the sillies.
  • Story w/ Magnets – Wibbly Pig Opens His Presents by Inkpen
    • Another one from my colleague. She had magnets of all the presents ready and laminated wrapping paper to put over them. It was like a big reveal. I even used a “Wibbly” pig puppet.
  • Song w/ Shakers – Can’t Stop the Feeling! Trolls Soundtrack I passed out shakers and we danced our fanny’s off to this song. Not a normal storytime song BUT we loved it and so did the adults.81acafb99pl-_sx425_

Finally, I always end with the same three things:

  • Movement Exercise – If You’re Happy and You Know It
    • I tell the kids that I want to know how happy they are.
  • Rhyme – Say Goodbye
    • This is the same rhyme we started with, so the new guys are familiar with it by the end of storytime.
  • Song – Goodbye, So Long, Farewell my Friends by Music Together
    • I always put this one on as I go to open the door. Its a nice, slow, peaceful song to wind down on.

How’d it go: Now that we are reaching our summer months, we have to do our storytimes in a little bit smaller of a room. So we can get a little crowded with our 75-100+ people. I was totally prepared to put up a “we’re full” sign but fortunately, our crowd was about the top of what I could handle in this room.

Overall, it went really well. Everyone wished me a happy birthday and I even successfully used my puppets, which can be dicey depending on the day. I was super thankful to have my colleagues help with getting this one ready. We’ve been busy scheduling and doing summer reading visits that I kind of had to throw this one together at the last moment. But teamwork prevailed and we made it through!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Red Sister

Little lag in my posting. Got caught up with a few projects. Preparing for Summer Reading is really getting in the way of my reading. Anyway…

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is the first book in a new adult fantasy series that seriously kicks butt. At eight years old Nona Grey is saved from hanging by the Abbess of the Convent of Sweet Mercy. Now young Nona, sold as child labor and accused murderer, is to become a novice at a convent even as her past chases after her.

But this is no ordinary convent. The Sisters of Sweet Mercy are trained in blade and fist, in the way of the path and yes, even as holy sisters. Nona has her sights set on becoming a Red Sister, the fiercest of warriors for:

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

But more than Nona’s training is at stake. An ancient prophecy has brought it’s own troubles down on the convent and war is brewing even as the sun dies and ice engulfs all but a slim corridor of land.

First, let me start off by saying that this book is so much more than just warrior nuns. I keep fumbling when explaining it to colleagues because hearing that a book is about a school for kick ass nuns… doesn’t necessarily say “read me.” But don’t let the sisters fool you, this is a fantasy world with a lot going on; it is character driven and a lot is happening behind the scenes.

The set up of the narration in this book, with a few peeks into the present, reminds me a little of Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. And just like Rothfuss, I wonder when the story-lines are going to meet and then what. Sometimes I really like knowing what is going to happen, the journey is the real sweet zone, but depending on how it is handled, it can be off-putting. We’ll have to wait for the next book to see how this one is going to go.

Holy cow did this book bring the tension. Talk about some intense action scenes! I mean, this book did have some flaws but the dramatic intensity of the writing in these scenes makes up for it. Lawrence really has a knack for filling his action scenes with suspense and drama. Really well done.

Finally, this book is all about the strong female character. It’s a book full of individual women/girls who are confident, strong both mentally and physically, and so much more. I also feel some LGBT relationships coming, on top of the few that are mentioned, which is great. By the end of the book Nona is finally getting a little more interesting… there is just something about a destructive, violent, yet ultimately good character that tugs at me.

On a gut reaction I gave this one four stars and I am going to stick with it. A good fantasy but if you don’t like serious cliffhangers, maybe wait until the next book is out.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Spindle Fire

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer is a YA re-imagining of sleeping beauty and is the first book in a new series. Half sisters Aurora and Isabelle are best friends and total opposites. Aurora is beautiful, sweet, heir to the Deluce throne and unable to speak or feel; Isabelle is the kings illegitimate daughter, head strong and without sight. They are closer than anyone and would do anything for each other.

One day a terrible curse separates the sisters and leaves Deluce at the mercy of an evil fairy with unimaginable powers. Aurora falls into a deep sleep and awakens in a magical world with a terrible mystery and a boy she feels a deep connection to. Isabelle is in a race against time to save her sister by finding her true love and true loves kiss, but Isabelle is unexpectedly drawn to Aurora’s arranged husband and the path they travel is dangerous.

Now Isabelle and Aurora must find their way back to each other and save their kingdom. Can they battle a sleeping curse and solve a mystery decades in the making? Can the bonds of sisterhood survive this separation and the changes bound to occur?

OK, so this book had a really interesting premise. I was really into this idea of half-sisters paralleling twin fairy sisters and having to sort out their story in order to save their own. There was magic and mystery and it was totally up my ally. But I just wasn’t wowed by the tale. I didn’t have to read it. It was interesting and unique but it was missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on.

One thing I did really like about Spindle Fire was the fairy tithes. This isn’t anything new with fairy stories but the way the tithes worked was really intriguing. I like how each of the fairies had their own specialized tithes and how it played into their characters. I also think these fairy tithes are going to play into the series moving forward and if so, I like the way it’s heading.

Holy abrupt ending batman! Seriously, here I am listening along and all of a sudden I hear Fiona Hardingham say that this has been a audio production by… Wahhh! That’s one way to get someone to read the sequel, even if they weren’t really into it.

Overall, this one gets three stars from me. I think the sequel might have more potential but this was was just OK for me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas is the third book in the ACOTAR series. This one picks up a few weeks after the disaster in Hybern where the Court of Dreams was injured, Feyre’s sisters turned into high fae and the high lady of the night court left her mate to spy on their enemies.

Now Feyre is back in the Spring Court, painting flowers and pretending to be a perfect all-but damaged lady of spring. When really, she is playing a dangerous game, gathering information on Tamlin and the kings invasion of Prythian. Feyre must walk a fine line all while war inches closer and closer to the people she loves.

Will Feyre be able to sabotage Hybern and it’s allies? Will she get out of Spring alive? Will the Court of Dreams survive the coming onslaught?

Hmmm what to say about this one? I loved ACOMAF so much, I read it three times and listened to the audio book once. But I do not see myself re-reading ACOWAR. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find myself as invested in it as I was the second book. In fact, I found myself feeling about ACOWAR the same way I felt about ACOTAR–not bad but not spectacular.

It’s funny, Maas has these fantastic gems within her series. Books that just cannot compare and I absolutely fall in love with her characters but I don’t always feel like the books are consistent. I’m still going to fangirl over ACOTAR regardless because I love the Court of Dreams so much!

If, in this series, we were only invested in Feyre and Rhys then this would have been a wonderful conclusion to their story. For those two, it was quite a satisfying end. But we aren’t just invested in Feyre and Rhys. We want to know what happens between Cassian and Nesta, Lucian and Elain, Mor, Azriel, Amren, even Tamlin and the other high lords. But we don’t and that’s what was really missing in this one. Even if we got a few chapters with a glimpse of whats to come for those characters, I would have been happy.

Normally, I don’t like when a series switches from one PoV to multi-PoV but in this case, I think it would have added a little something. I hope the future books do this because I really want to see some insight into other characters.

Overall, ACOWAR satisfied my thirst for more Feyre and Rhys but it will be hard to wait to get the missing pieces from the rest of our favorite characters tales. This one gets three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Crown of Wishes

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Ghokshi is the “sequel” to The Star-Touched Queen. Every hundred years the otherworld throws the Tournament of Wishes, an ancient tournament full of terror and wonder, where the risks are real and the prize is a wish of unlimited possibilities.

This year two contestants from different kingdoms must work together to stay alive and save their homes. Princess Gauri has been banned from her home by her brother, a twisted ruler whose thirst for power overshadows the good of his people. Prince Vikram is at the mercy of his council and will only ever be a puppet king while his legitimacy is in question.

Gauri and Vikram must come together despite their differences to beat the odds and survive a world of monsters and dreams. Can they solve these death defying riddles before time runs out? And what happens when reluctant allies become more?

Ghokshi does it again, all but a little differently. Where The Star-Touched Queen was a magical journey to find oneself and to rescue true love, A Crown of Wishes is a magical race against time and a journey toward self discovery and fate. These sound the same but the two books felt pretty different. There is an urgency to The Star-Touched Queen that we don’t really get in this one. This isn’t a bad thing but it does change the feel of the narrative just a bit.

A Crown of Wishes focuses more on the characters and the character development than the magic and mystery of it’s predecessor. Where The Star-Touched Queen only really develops Maya’s character, we get three fully developed narratives in this one. Gauri and Vikram play off each other really well. Gauri is serious and tactical with her warrior mind, whereas Vikram is sure of himself, intelligent and sly. It makes for an interesting dynamic and pairing.

I just love this world Ghokshi created; it’s magical and real and it feels unique. Ghokshi tells us in this one that the otherworld will soon be closed off from the real world and I wonder if there will be one more book about this. I hope so and I hope we see more of Maya her beau and Gauri and Vikram working in tandem. That’d be awesome!

Overall, this one gets 4 stars from me. It was a good read but I didn’t fall in love with the romantic relationship as much as I did with Maya’s. Still worth a shot.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Million Worlds With You

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray is the final book in the Firebird trilogy. The fate of the multiverse rests in the hands of an eighteen-year-old artist, Marguerite Caine. Marguerite has been hunted by the Triad for her one-of-a-kind ability to be a perfect traveler and she has finally learned their endgame.

The Triad will stop at nothing to get back their version of Josie, even if it means destroying hundreds of universes to do so. Now Marguerite must hunt down Wicked, her evil Triad self, and stop her from killing every version of Marguerite and the worlds she inhabits.

With the help of her family and her broken soulmate, Paul, Marguerite must race across the multiverse to save her loved ones in every dimension. Can Marguerite keep her sanity when every jump puts her at deaths door? And throughout it all will Marguerite and Paul be able to keep each other safe and find their way back to each other when all is said and done?

This was a surprising end to a pretty good series. This book had twist after twist. I am not sure what I expected but I did not expect the intertwining threads that twisted together to form a book with so much more depth than I anticipated.  It’s nice when the final book in a series lives up to it’s story.

We also get some closer with the worlds that Marguerite visited and left… well a mess. We get to revisit some of our favorite universes and we get to see what happened after Marguerite left. This was a real treat because we really begin to feel for those universe’s characters and it was nice to see them again.

All of our characters develop more in this final book, not just Paul and Marguerite. We see Theo at his best and worst and the Kane’s even have their chance to shine. We also see good sides to some of our bad guys and this was an interesting parallel.

This book left me satisfied with the story as a whole. I listened to this whole series in audio and didn’t have a hard time following along at all. If you need a good long audiobook series, this would be a good one to go to. This book gets four stars from me and I think the series as a whole deserves four stars as well.

That’s all for now!

-M-