Book Review: The Book of Secrets by Melissa McShane

In celebration of the seventh book of the Last Oracle series being released literally yesterday, I thought it would be a great time to review the book that kicked it off. The Book of Secrets is urban fantasy, which is a genre I don’t normally wade into unless I have a really good reason, and being friends with the author is a really good reason.

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

The Story

Helena Davis is eager to move on with her life and out of her parents basement. That means getting a job. Working at a bookstore seems like a perfect fit. At least it’s not fast food and the pay is reasonable. But, Abernathy’s Bookstore has plenty of secrets, and none of them are willing to make life easy for Helena.

In case you weren’t convinced, her boss gets murdered in the basement before the end of her first day. There is a war happening between magical forces and alien invaders trying to suck the world dry of its magical energy. The bookstore is the last living oracle and uses it’s books to give important insights and information to those fighting in this war.

There are those convinced that Helena is the enemy, and others that believe that she’s been specially chosen by the oracle itself. This puts Helena in a very dangerous position where she doesn’t know who to trust. She must figure out this new world before whatever killed her boss comes after her.

My Review

The best part of any fantasy is getting a peek into how the world would work if there were different rules. The Book of Secrets introduces a world where magic is fighting against aliens, which is definitely a twist I’ve never seen before. McShane does a great job capturing this world and making it feel real to readers. I especially loved the descriptions of the different parts of the bookstore itself. Her words made the place feel like somewhere I would want to go visit, just to say I’d been there.

While the main character was exactly what she needed to be to make it through this story, it was her supporting cast that made the story shine. Helena herself is loyal and has a great work ethic, not to mention enough grit to see tough things through. Viv, her best friend, is who I really loved for just being a complete character who loves fashion, music, and making sure her bestie has a boyfriend at all costs.

The story itself did get dark, there’s plenty of suspense and danger to keep things interesting. From the nasty creatures running around, to Helena’s perpetual worry that she doesn’t know enough about her new world to understand what she should be worried about, there’s enough intrigue to keep readers on their toes.

Recommendations

This is a solid read. If you like urban fantasy and are looking for something with great magic and an interesting world that doesn’t have vampires, this is a good choice. It’s not perfect, there are a few things here and there that could have been expanded on, but it’s also part of a large series that fleshes out all of those ideas, so it’s forgiveable.

There’s one trope that does drive some readers nuts and it deserves mentioning. The main character is kept in the dark about some fairly important things by the other characters. It’s not that no one knows, it’s that they are intentionally not telling her for some half-brained reason, like if she did know she’d be in more danger. I’m not buying it. It does, however, make the book more suspenseful, which is a good thing.

I’d recommend this for urban fantasy readers ages 16 and up for elements of horror, story line complexity, and intense situations.

I rate The Book of Secret 4/5 stars

Check out The Book of Secrets on Amazon – available for $0.99 on Kindle!

Also, be sure to check out Melissa’s new release The Book of Harmony, (The Last Oracle series #7)


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Book Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

There are books that tell a story, then there are stories that fill books. Then there are stories that are more like an experience than just a tale. The Starless Sea is one of those. It is a story twisted into a daydream that’s wrapped around both reality and the impossible like taffy.

The Story:

The short answer here is “it’s complicated.” You might be better off reading the Amazon listing than struggle through my attempt to sum some of it up.

While the overarching story is that of Zachery Ezra Rawlins, who is the son of a fortune teller and has a love of books and story even greater than his love for people, there are at least four other stories running along side it. These include at least two which are books that the characters come into contact with which the reader gets to read as well.

When Zachary finds a mysterious book that contains a detailed narration of something that occurs in his own life, he’s both terrified and drawn to find answers. This journey takes him into the magical and inventive subterranean world that is the Starless Sea. Here he encounters people and even more stories and a riddle that envelopes him.

There are glorious masquerade balls, secret societies, pirate boats, infinitely detailed miniatures, and lots and lots of doors. Plus, there is a lovely nonbinary romance that develops so so slowly that it kind of takes the reader by surprise.

My Review:

I’d been waiting to read this book because I loved the beauty and strangeness of The Night Circus and was hoping for a similar experience. While the writing shared the same sense of beauty, symbolism, and intention, this story (if we can call it that) was far more complicated and layered. It was a story within a story, wrapped in yet another story where the reader was never sure if the characters were real or imagined.

As a writer, part of me felt like this was a lot of wish fulfillment. It’s like Morgenstern took a list of off her favorite whimsical things, all her childhood fascinations, all her loves and things she held dear, and spun a story that could contain them all. While this isn’t a bad thing, it makes for a very abstract reading experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if dinosaurs and exotic train rides turned up behind the next mysterious painted door (they didn’t, but they could have).

Overall I’m sticking to my description of this book that it’s an experience more than a story. Many of the scenes have a feeling that they are meant to be enjoyed in all their glorious descriptions before attempting to understand what they mean or how they fit into the story. There is a lot of trust being placed in the reader to keep reading to figure out what the different pieces mean in the end. And this is one of those stories that you absolutely have to read it to the end to see how all the different threads of the story play out. It’s a long process, but ultimatly worth it.

Recommendations:

I’d recommend the Starless Sea to those who love a complicated beautiful read with lots of layers and symbolism. It’s not an easy read, that’s for sure. Many of the pieces don’t seem to fit until often dozens, if not hundreds of pages later when something else pulls the ideas back into the story again. It’s long, and it feels long. This is one of those stories that you want to sink into and take slowly.

I wouldn’t recommend this for someone who just wants a good story and isn’t interested in all the pretty words. It does move slowly and deliberately and for many that might be a turn off. I would also warn those who were hoping for something just like The Night Circus to not try to compare this book to that one as they are very different.

I give Starless Sea 3/5 stars.

Buy The Starless Sea Here

Buy The Night Circus Here


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Jodi L Milner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Five Things I Learned From Reading a Janet Evanovich Novel

I did something a little off the beaten path this week and tried out a Stephanie Plum mystery, famously written by Janet Evanovich. My pick, Hardcore Twenty Four, loosely centers around a zombie mystery. This is so far from my usual cup of tea, it’s laughable. In fact, it’s so far from what I’d normally pick up, that I almost put it down.

Then curiosity got the best of me. These books are NYT and USA today bestsellers, and there are over 200 million Evanovich novels in print. Those are some pretty amazing statistics. So, I put my research hat on and decided to take a deeper look.

I discovered that this is the kind of book that’s the perfect read for anyone who wants a happy distraction, and judging from the state of things these days, that’s literally everyone. The prose is easy to digest, the characters are unique and likable, the problems are relatable but treated in a way that they are more humorous than anything. And, there’s a splash of intrigue to glue everything together.

It’s like cotton candy. Sweet, fun to eat, and mostly fluff.

Have no fear, I did grab a few important lessons that are applicable to everyone

For every itch there is a scratch

There are people who love, and I mean love, these books and characters. Reading these books is the perfect escape and a great way to spent a weekend or long afternoon. If you don’t love them, that’s okay too. It goes to show everyone had their own likes and dislikes.

All you really need are charismatic side characters

Stephanie Plum is an interesting character by herself. She has a pet hampster, a crazy grandma, and works as a bounty hunter. But, it’s her friends that spice up the story. From the mysterious Diesel, to the romantic cop Morelli, to her bedazzled coworker Lula, there’s a little of everything to keep things interesting. It goes to prove that life is way better with interesting friends.

The bad guy is the one you’d least expect

This is true for lots of villains in fiction, the one responsible for all the problems is usually the one you’ve been led to least suspect. Or, they sincerely believe that what they are doing is going to either help someone, or give them a unique opportunity. This is true in real life as well, usually people aren’t being jerks because they’re evil. Usually there’s something else far more complicated going on.

If you’re going to have a fantasy boyfriend, make him hot (and talented)

Imagination is a wonderful thing. It allows us an escape. It allows us to dream of new possibilities. It makes reading fun fluffy stories that much more colorful. Every one of the men in Stephanie’s life are a) gorgeous and b) have a unique set of skills, and c) are committed to helping her with anything she might need. Spending a little time in her shoes means readers can dream they have the same thing. Just a heads up – in real life you can only have two of the three.

Everyone has a story

If anything, these books prove that everyone’s got a story, and if you dig deep enough it’s an interesting one as well. In Hardcore Twenty-four, we learned all about grannie’s lovelife, Ranger and Diesel’s special set of skills, and Ethel the boa constrictor’s food preferences. If you want to make someone’s day, find out about their story. I’m sure there’s something interesting there you’d never expect.

Get your copy of Hardcore Twenty-four on Amazon today.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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Jodi L Milner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

I found this book by happy accident. Namely, my book club thought it looked cool, and I love their discussions so much that I am compelled to read their picks. I won’t lie, most of the book reviews from the past year resulted from my book club. You guys rock.

The Story:

Claire is the librarian for The Library of the Unwritten, Hell’s own library for stories that were never completed by their authors. Most of these stories sleep quietly, but occasionally, their characters get anxious and try to escape. On one such escape, a Hero seeks out his author with the intent of inspiring her to finish writing his story, something that is totally against the rules. During his retrieval from the mortal world things go horribly wrong. The angels believe that Claire has the text of the Devil’s bible, a powerful weapon meant to upset the balance between Heaven and Hell. They will do anything to stop her from finding it’s pages.

My Review:

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know that I have a weakness for excellent writing. The Library of the Unwritten is one of those books where the reader is continually delighted by a clever turn of phrase or an exceptional description. The most remarkable part of this book is the concepts engineered to make the worlds work together and the elaborate otherness of it all.

The Library itself is such a cool concept. Imagine, you think of a story and perhaps start to jot it down. As you work and think, the people and things in the story take on form and begin to live. What happens when the story is abandoned? Where do those characters go when the end of their tale isn’t written? In this essence, the library is a purgatory for books and everything they contain. They are stuck in limbo and hold all the potential their story has to offer, waiting for the author to pick up the pen once more. For those stories who’s authors have died, the characters who are restless and won’t stay in their books are allowed to live out the eternities in the Damsel suite, a protected place where they can learn and grow however they choose.

Claire is a compelling and complex character who is fairly snarky and has the wherewithal to dish it out. Her accompanying cast are a circus act blend of characters that include fallen angels, demons, a muse, and the people who spring from the unwritten stories.

As for the story itself, I was hooked right from the start. The idea that there was this librarian who curated unwritten books alone was so interesting that for the first third of the book I simply had to read more to see how all the different ideas were woven together. Don’t get me wrong, the story was interesting, but I think I read more because I was amazed at the creativity of it all – and the excellent writing. I did get a little tired near the two thirds mark, which might have been because I couldn’t relate to the stakes, or that my head cold muddled my brain, not sure which. However, the thrilling conclusion tied everything back together in a pyrotechnic fueled extravaganza that left this reader satisfied.

Recommendations:

This one is tough to place. It’s not a traditional fantasy and skirts into the realm of magical realism. The publisher categorizes it into humorous fantasy, and it was funny at times, but for me that doesn’t fit as well. Is there an existential fantasy category?

I’d recommend this for those who love excellent world and concept building that keeps the reader surprised, you’ll find plenty of it here. Also, for those creatives out there, this is a love letter to inspiration and where it lives when you are off doing other things. Authors especially will enjoy this book because of the many, many references to how we treat our characters, and how they might treat us in return.

However, for those who have issues with the ideology of Heaven and Hell, or of demons interacting with humans, this book will be a problem. There’s some straight up blasphemy in here, creatively used, of course.

I give The Library of the Unwritten a solid 4/5 stars.

Buy your copy here!


Hey, you look like someone who loves a really good read. I’ve got a little something for you. Consider it a tiny gift from me. “Breath” is a short story about Fauna, the original elemental guardian of souls and her journey to take part in the secret her charges possess.

Get your free copy here!


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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Jodi L Milner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

New Book Release: Retaliation by Haley Cavanagh

The best part of having authors for friends is that you always are the first to know when the best books are coming out. Haley and I have enjoyed each other’s company as we attend local writing events and she was awesome in helping me with my cover reveal last week.

I’m excited to announce the release of Haley Cavanagh’s latest book, Retaliation, the second book in her Oceanstone Initiative series.


Retaliation 
The Oceanstone Initiative #2 
by Haley Cavanagh 
Genre: SciFi Romance 

Publisher: Covey Publishing, LLC 
Publication Date: December 27, 2019


One doctor, one alien lover, one botanist, and one engineer on a desperate mission to save earth from human destruction. 

Sakota saved Astraeus and her friends from certain death, but in doing so, she gained the attention of the Oreck, who will stop at nothing to destroy everything in their path. 

With their ship severely damaged, Sakota and her crew land on a nearby planet and seek sanctuary while they make repairs to return home. But nothing on this perfect planet is as it appears, and Sakota soon learns they’ve traded one danger for another. 

Hunted and targeted, will Sakota be able to carry out her mission, or will everyone she cares about be destroyed? 




Astraeus 
The Oceanstone Initiative #1 

Publisher: Covey Publishing, LLC 
Publication Date: October 12, 2018


One pre-apocalyptic Earth. One desperate space mission to find a solution. One unexpected alien. 

When Dr. Sakota Thorell signed onto the mission to scout out a new, habitable planet, she knew discovering extraterrestrial life was always a possibility. But she never expected to find an alien adrift in space, nor for that alien to be so intriguing. Sakota feels an instant and undeniable attraction to Astraeus, but he represents a million possibilities, and just as many threats. 

There are others hunting Astraeus, and his rescue may cost Earth its last hope. 





Book Trailer 


Haley Cavanagh is a military veteran, wife, and mother. She is an alumna of Columbia College, a musical theater nut, and she loves to dive into any book that crosses her path. Haley resides with her family in the United States and enjoys spending time with her husband and children when she’s not writing. She loves to hear from her readers, and encourages you to contact her via her website and social media. 






$25 Amazon and autographed paperback bundle of The Oceanstone Initiative series and swag 
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!




Reading Review for 2019

Over the last five years I’ve shared my reading lists with you, dear readers. Some years I’m really ambitious. Some years, like this year, I’m kinda burned out and creating a reading wish list is the furthest thing from my mind. I’m sure you can all relate.

Just for fun, here are the lists that I’ve ended up posting –

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I knew 2019 was going to be a busy year. On the Goodreads Reading Challenge I only committed to reading a paltry 12 books. I’m proud to report I managed it and even better, will probably finish three more by the end of the year. Many of these books were books selected by my book club. Should you ever want to be challenged to read things you wouldn’t normally pick, being part of a book club will definitely help with that.

This year’s fiction books include:

This year’s books by people I know:

This year’s non fiction books include:

Books I’m currently working to finish:

  • The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal, Desmond Morris
  • Radical Honesty: How to Transform your Life by Telling the Truth, Brad Blanton
  • Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, Neil Gaiman

The number one book that influenced me this year was one suggested by Annie Oortman, Radical Honesty. What struck me as profound is how the author connects secrets and dishonesty to physical conditions, such as chronic pain and fatigue. Holding back from telling someone the truth, regardless of the reason, quite literally weighs you down. While I have always endeavored to be very honest, this book takes that to a new level. It encourages people to be brave enough to say how they really feel in the moment and not let things fester.

The book I disliked the most was Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter. The story itself revolves around a daughter and her stepmother as they navigate the death of the father. My book club chose to read it because it held examples of good description. While it did have plenty of that, the story itself moved so slowly and had so many scenes that felt unnecessary, that I got super bored.

Let’s discuss!

What were the best and worst of the books you’ve read this year? I’m looking to create next years list – if you’ve got some great suggestions, send them my way.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

You can also find updates and post notifications on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram – chose the one you like the most!

Book Review: Word Painting Revised Edition the Fine Art of Writing Descriptively, by Rebecca McClanahan

For November, and NaNoWriMo month for many of my fellow writers, I thought it would be appropriate to review a book that covers an important part of writing craft – description. There aren’t many books out there about this topic and indeed it would be a challenge to cover the subject in a way that didn’t sound just a little bit crazy. This book does an admirable job.

About the book:

In ten chapters McClanahan discusses different ways to approach the art of turning mundane descriptions into word paintings that grab the reader’s attention and helps feel part of the world they’re reading about. She explores using the different senses, how descrioption can help the reader understand character and setting, and using figurative language and metaphor. The book is thorough, insightful, and includes plenty of examples to help teach.

My review:

For me, the book was an excellent reminder of how much power lies in the perfect description. An evocative piece of description has the power to transport the reader to another place and time where they feel they are living within the pages and seeing and feeling the story through the eyes of the characters. A poor piece of description can do the opposite, pull the reader out of the story, confuse them, and make it hard to understand what is going on in the story.

Perhaps the most useful advice gleaned from the book is the importance of anchoring description deeply into the point of view of the person experiencing it. If the character is a baker, we want to feel the grit of the flour that has collected on the backs of his hands and reminisce of better times as we smell the comforting aroma of fresh bread.

Another thing that McClanahan does well is find hundreds of different examples to help solidify what she is trying to teach. Some of these are remarkable pieces of description that indeed transported me into the world of the scene. When I read them, it made me want to be able to do the same with my own writing.

Recommendations:

I recommend this to writers who feel they have the basics covered and are looking for a way to improve. This book is wonderful to help see different angles that can be taken in a passage of description and helps break writers out of old familiar patterns. It also shows how description doesn’t have to be long to be powerful.

I would not recommend this to brand new writers. While it’s full of important information, it’s also overwhelming with just how many possibilities there are in any given line of description. The best time to read this would be when a writer feels they have established their voice and are looking for ways to improve and deepen it.

I give this book 3 stars.


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to AmazonGoodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!

Book Review: Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn

Happy October everyone! It’s the first Wednesday of the month which means it’s book review day. Today’s pick: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. This book came out in 2001 and I first read it back in college. It made a deep enough impression on me that I recently recommended it for a book group and reread it a few weeks ago.

About the story:

Ella Minnow Pea is an epistolary novel, meaning it’s composed of letters from one character to another. Ella lives on the fictional island of Nollop, located off the coastline of South Carolina and named after Nevin Nollop who has been immortalized by his creation of a phrase using all 26 letters of the alphabet, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

What’s unique about this island is that due to poor infrastructure, they are isolated from the modern world. There aren’t computers, internet, email, or even telephone service, although those on the island know all these things exist. To communicate long distance, they are limited to letters and the occasional telegraph. Because of this, they’ve developed a love and passion for the written word and a unusual eloquence.

When letters begin falling off the memorial statue to Nevin Nollop, the island Council deems that it is a divine mandate from Nollop himself and they must stop using those letters in everyday speech and the written word. This also means those letters drop out of use for the remainder of the book. With each loss, the island falls deeper and deeper into totalitarianism as the Council works to eliminate those who would use the illegal letters.

Ella finds herself fighting to save her friends and family from being banished off of the island, a task that grows more complicated with new letter’s loss.

My review:

As a lover of artful use of language, this book delights on so many levels. Ella tries so hard to maintain her eloquence and love of language, even as each letter is taken away. The resulting linguistic gymnastics are impressive to say the least. It made me wonder if I could do the same. I tried it with the letter “m” thinking it would be easy. In a 15 minute sample where I tried my best to be careful, three “m”s still managed to find their way in.

There is also the element of satire about an overreaching government seeking punitive punishments for violators of the new rules as well as what happens when a society must adapt to censorship. For me, this felt almost Orwellian and brought back of not-so-fond memories of the discomfort of being forced to read 1984 in school, mixed with a touch of Lord of the Flies. However, Dunn encapsulates this satire inside the story of those trying to live the new rules and because their story shines stronger than the satire, it makes it much more palatable.

By the end of the story when only handful of letters are left, the text becomes almost unintelligible. Letters are swapped out for phonetic matches and to understand what’s being said, the reader almost has to say the syllables out loud. For me, it brilliantly demonstrated the frustrations of the main characters as they struggle to communicate.

In all, I found the book delightful and both a fun and profound read.

Recommendations:

I recommend this book to those who love a good play on words and appreciate vocabulary and wordsmithing, as well as those who love seeing how a society can go wrong. Those who love word puzzles will also get a kick out of seeing how each character manages to avoid using banned letters. It’s also a charming story of making the best of a hard situation that doesn’t dwell on the ugliness that could be found there.

I would not recommend this book for those who want an easy read. It is not. From the deeply vocab-u-tastic wordiness at the beginning, to the almost alien constructed language nearing the end, this book is challenging. I also would recommend those who are sensitive to political misuse of power to steer clear as this book might be triggering.

I give Mark Dunn’s Ella Minnow Pea 4.5 stars.


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to Amazon, Goodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!

Book Review: Book Thief, by Marcus Zuzak

Asking an author which book is their favorite is a complicated question. There are books that keep us on the edge of our seats, or tease us with amazingly constructed story lines. There are those that fill us with a sense of wonder and those that light a creative spark. There are those which are tender and beautiful and make us cry.

Then, there are those books that have such a uniqueness to them they don’t quite fit anywhere else. That’s where the Book Thief falls for me. It balances tender with tension and beautiful prose with a touch of snark.

And it ranks in the top five books I’ve ever read.

About the story:

This is a holocaust book. But – don’t despair. The purpose of the book isn’t to showcase the horrors of that time period, but rather to give voice to a girl who lived it and how the books she stole made it possible to survive. What’s interesting and makes this book very different is that it’s told through the eyes of a rather unusual narrator – death.

Liesel Meminger steals her first book at the graveside service for her brother and carries it with her to her new home and foster parents, the Hubermann’s. Death has been watching her, as he does all people he finds interesting, and chooses to share the different scenes he’s witnessed of her life through the eternal lens of his own experience. The book is what seals her love for her foster father, Hans, as he uses it to help her cope with the nightmares that haunt her and teaches her from it.

It is this book and these late night teaching sessions that starts the embers glowing of what will turn into a fire within Liesel for the written word. All the while, World War II is tearing the country apart. The Hubermann’s must protect the son of a family friend by hiding him in their basement at great personal risk.

Liesel takes special interest in him and shares the one thing she has, her love of words. First, by sharing with him what the day is like outside, then by sneaking him newspapers, then by reading and writing their own books together.

I won’t ruin the ending for you by telling what happens, suffice it to say that it is a survival story, and Liesel survives.

Recommendations:

I recommend this book to anyone who loves expert level wordsmithing. The lyric nature of the prose is gorgeous and surprising in all the right ways. Also, it’s a strong historical fiction as well and portrays Nazi Germany in a very realistic and unsensational manner. Because of it’s unique narrator and style, it should also appeal to those who appreciate non conventional stories.

I would not recommend this for people who prefer clear and direct language in their stories. This book borders on poetry at times and often veils the truth with metaphor, or pulls back into the point of view of death and away from Liesel’s experience. It’s also a long book, so it might be harder work to get through because of how language is used.

I give Marcus Zuzak’s The Book Thief 5 stars.


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to AmazonGoodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!


Free? Did someone say free? For this week only (Sept 3-7, 2019) you can grab the ebook of Stonebearer’s Betrayal for FREE in preparation for the release of the second book in the series coming in the next 6 months. Squee!

Here’s a handy link!


Holy Smokes, FanX is this week! If you are coming to the the conference, come find me at the following panels on Thursday:

Book Review: When We Were Very Young, by A. A. Milne

In honor of the passing of Toni Morrison, I felt it appropriate to pay her tribute by reviewing a book of poetry that has been influential to many. I know it’s not one of hers, to lend my uneducated opinion on her poetry feels like a disservice. Her writing is evocative and deep and would require more time than I have to really dig deep and give it the attention it deserves. Instead, I chose something recently recommended to me.

I asked Candace, my fellow author buddy, what her favorite book was and she told me When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, I had to pick it up and give it a go. It’s a little thing, easily enjoyed in an hour or two. I read poem at a time while waiting at orthodontic appointments and cowering in the shade while hanging out with my kids at parks.

It really is a lovely collection of ideas drawing the reader back to a simpler time when a kitchen chair was a cage for a lion and a tubby bellied bear felt bad about his roundness until he met a handsome and equally tubby prince.

I also loved the freedom of using words for their rhythm and repetition and not being tied down to grammatical standards. After writing prose for so long, it’s a nice change to see it done differently. A. A. Milne does a wonderful job using repetition to create a sing-song quality to his verses which would make it fun to read these aloud to children.

I’m told this is the first appearance of Winnie the Pooh’s character, although at this point he is only referred to as the tubby bear. Christopher Robin pokes his head in as well. The first Winnie the Pooh book wasn’t published until two years after this book had been out.

For me, I’ve been working on developing more lyricism in my prose. One of the things that can help is reading more poetry and piecing together the parts that draw my attention. I think I’ll be playing with a few new ideas this week. I’m looking forward to it.

Perhaps I should find another poetry book…

If you enjoy simple lovely poetry, you’ll enjoy When We Were Very Young. If you’ve been meaning to read more poetry and don’t know where to start, or don’t like complicated themes, this is a good pick for you as well.

However, if you were hoping for profound truths about life the world and everything and want the poem itself to do the heavy lifting, these won’t do that. That is, unless you choose to apply lots of your own logic and theories, then perhaps they will. I won’t judge.


Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to Amazon, Goodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!