Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Blood Will Tell

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, January 30, 2017

DNF Review: Blood Will Tell

Blood Will Tell (Point Last Seen, 2) by April Henry, June 16, 2015. 272 pages. Published by Henry Holt and Co. BYR. Source: Received for review.
What happens when someone who’s only ever wanted to be a hero becomes a suspect?
When a woman’s body is found in a Portland park, suspicion falls on an awkward teen who lives only a few blocks away, owns several knives, loves first-person shooter video games, and doodles violent scenes in his school notebooks. Nick Walker goes from being a member of a Search and Rescue team to the prime suspect in a murder, his very interest in SAR seen as proof of his fascination with violence. How is this even possible? And can Alexis and Ruby find a way to help clear Nick’s name before it’s too late? 
First Sentence:
Freshly spilled blood is wet, shiny, and startlingly crimson.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Beat the Backlist, 2017

I may a month late, but, I am finally signing up for Beat the Backlist (hosted by NovelKnight).

It has been entirely too long since I last participated in a reading challenge. So long in fact that I cannot even recall the last one-maybe four or five years ago. I don't generally make TBR lists, so, this line-up will in all likelihood change a lot throughout the course of the year....

One of my goals is to read more classics and books that have been on my TBR for an embarrassingly amount of time. Highlighted one's are the one's I've read so far this year!!

The List

  • Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  • Animal Farm, George Orwell
  • A Man of All Seasons, Robert Bolt
  • Ballad of the White Horse, G.K. Chesterton
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder (reviewed)
  • Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
  • Song of the Scaffold, Gertrud von le Fort
  • Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorn
  • Macbeth, Shakespeare
  • Murder in the Cathedral, T.S. Elliot
  • Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
  • Searching for Dragons, Patricia C. Wrede (reviewed)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson (currently reading)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I Want to Read It (41): The Ides of March

I Want to Read It, a hybrid between WLW (or WOW) and what's on my to-be read pile. Well, instead of focusing just on books I would like to acquire, I will be using it to feature books that I just want to read. From the one's I want to buy to the one's sitting on my TBR at home.

The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder, September 16, 2003 (originally published in 1948). Published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics. Source: Want to Read It.
'The Ides of March', first published in 1948, is a brilliant epistolary novel set in Julius Caesar's Rome. Thornton Wilder called it "a fantasia on certain events and persons of the last days of the Roman republic." 
Through vividly imagined letters and documents, Wilder brings to life a dramatic period of world history and one of history's most magnetic, elusive personalities.
In this inventive narrative, the Caesar of history becomes Caesar the human being. Wilder also resurrects the controversial figures surrounding Caesar - Cleopatra, Catullus, Cicero, and others. All Rome comes crowding through these pages - the Rome of villas and slums, beautiful women and brawling youths, spies and assassins.

After having read The Bridge of San Luis Rey (again) this year, I decide to see if there were any other books by Thornton Wilder that piqued my interest. Believe it or not, I actually found another one of his books that I would not mind reading- The Ides of March

It may just be that my history nerdy side is showing, but, the idea of seeing the story of Caesar retold in a way that makes him more human, as the synopsis says, is intriguing to say the least. I have zero expectations on whether or not it'll actually be worth reading...just that I am intrigued enough to look into reading it.

Have you read either  The Bridge of San Luis Rey (which I highly recommend) or  The Ides of March? What did you think of them?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Classic Review: The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder, April 15, 2003 (originally published 1923). 128 pages. Published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics. Source: Own.
Thornton Wilder This beautiful new edition features unpublished notes for the novel and other illuminating documentary material, all of which is included in a new Afterword by Tappan Wilder. "On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipi-tated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins "The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world. By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.  
First Sentence:
On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all of Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Want to Read It (40): When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched, and Pterosaurs Took Flight

I Want to Read It, a hybrid between WLW (or WOW) and what's on my to-be read pile. Well, instead of focusing just on books I would like to acquire, I will be using it to feature books that I just want to read. From the one's I want to buy to the one's sitting on my TBR at home.

When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched, and Pterosaurs Took Flight: A Cartoon PreHistory of Life in the Triassic by Hannah Bonner, April 10, 2012. Published by National Geographic Children's Books. Source: Want to Read.
In the style of WHEN BUGS WERE BIG and WHEN FISH GOT FEET this book discusses all the exciting developments of the Triassic Age, from the recovery of the planet from the most deadly mass extinction ever, to the first appearance of the dinosaurs. We also get to meet the first mammals, the first pterosaurs (flying reptiles), the first frogs, a host of predatory marine reptiles, early turtles, and the first coral reefs.  With the books' signature blend of humor and clearly presented information, cartoon illustrations help keep the fact-filled material extra fun.


Early this week, or Monday if you will, I had the opportunity to review Hannah Bonner's newest book Dining with Dinosaurs, which was purely delightful. So I decided to look up her other books and came across this one....and I must say I need it! Sure, it may be a picture book, but it has dinosaurs and I'm all for that!! 

While I may have only two reasons for be interested in reading this one, dinosaurs and that I enjoyed her other work, I just really want to see how this one plays out.

Are you, or someone you know, in to dinosaurs? Then I highly recommend checking out  Dining with Dinosaurs. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Dining with Dinosaurs

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Children's Book Review: Dining With Dinosaurs

Dining With Dinosaurs: A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching by Hannah Bonner, September 20, 2016. 48 pages. Published by National Geographic Children's Books. Source: Publicist for review.
Sure you know T-Rex was the meat-eating king and brontosaurus munched on leaves, but what else was on the dino dining menu during the Mesozoic era?

Meet the 'vores: carnivores, piscivores, herbivores, insectivores, "trashivores," "sunivores," and omnivores like us.

Readers will be surprised and inspired to learn about dino diets and they'll get to explore how scientists can tell which dinosaurs ate what just from looking at fossils!

Journey through artist and author Hannah Bonner's whimsical world to learn how the dinosaurs and their contemporaries bit, chewed, and soaked up their food.

You know that I rarely accept children's books for review. But, how could I possibly say no to one that featured dinosaurs?!? What can I say, even now I'm still a huge fan of dinosaurs and could not resist delving into this one.

  • Dining with Dinosaurs uses a light touch to talk about what dinosaurs, of all kinds, ate and their role within the chain. It was both insightful and entertaining to read; and something I think readers, of many ages, will find enjoyable and informative. It really hit a great balance that should appeal to those interested in learning more about all the 'vores'.
  • It was nice to see scattered throughout the book sections where the guide of the book, for lack of a better term, spoke with those in the field of paleontology. It gave the book a broader scope and credibility. I'm not trying to be mean, it was just nice to see the short Q&As with them throughout the book. It was a nice addition.
  • As for the illustrations, they were pretty nice. I know, I may be some what harder to please when it comes to illustrations; yet I thought they were good and age appropriate albeit more like caricature-istic then what I would personally prefer. Yet they were really well suited for the tone of the book and the age range that it is aimed at; and did not take anything away from my enjoyment.
  •  Overall, this was a fun, well written, and thoroughly enjoyable. It covered everything from carnivores to plants. A book that I'm sure will delight readers and get them curious to learn more about paleontology and dinosaurs. Would I have liked it to be longer, well, yeah. Would a more in-depth look into the field of paleontology have been cool? Always! But like I said, this is really a good book, just that my dinosaur loving self is craving more.   
Final Verdict: Dining with Dinosaurs- Entertaining and enjoyable, a great combination if you ask me!

Dining with Dinosaurs earns

A copy of this book was received in consideration for review. All thoughts are my own.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Books of 2016 (PT 3): The Time I fell Down the Rabbit Hole of History

Since y'all have graciously stuck around through two chapter of books from last year, On the Importance of Walking Away from Bad Books & That Made My Reader Heart Rejoice, how about a third one!

You may have noticed, if you follow me on Goodreads and Twitter, that I fell down the rabbit hole of history books last year. I have zero regrets about spending more time reading about history, especially my favorite period, or all the non-fiction books that occupied my time last year. None! It was just what my brain and heart needed last year, and for that I'm grateful for having discovered two historians that totally blew me away with their writing.

I'll say this once- I am an unabashed history loving nerd. My poor parents and sisters, I kept cornering them to tell them about what I was reading and how fascinatingly alive they brought history. For me, the Middle Ages is the most interesting. It was more lively than your typical textbook would have you believe.

Ah, the moment you have all been waiting for, the reveal of which straight up history and one's that touched on historical points, and, which books helped me to grow in faith. And without further ado, here are the Best History and Faith Books of 2016!

Our Lady of Kibeho by ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza-

Simply powerful! Despite everything that happened to her, this book is overflowing with hope. Her writing is just so straight forward, which was one of the reasons that I could not set it down until the last page had been read.

Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett-

To be honest, I was not expecting this one to be enjoyable. For some unknown reason, I wrote it off before I had even read the first page...yet, I ended up devouring it because I loved how the characters learned and grew so much from their short time together.

Lily of the Mohawks: The Story of St Kateri by Emily Cavins-

Not only did I enjoy learning more about St. Kateri's story but also that of the Mohawk's. I am admittedly not an expert on Native American culture, but, (as far as I can tell) the author did a really good job bringing their culture to life.

Characters of the Inquisition by William Thomas Walsh-

I'll be honest, I loved this one! It's not often that you read a history book that covers the Inquisition through the lens of the people living during that period. It was interesting to see how the proceedings happened during the Inquisition how the courts of it were managed; I really enjoyed that it covered both the positive and negative effects. There were many facets of the story that you just don't hear about; like how more people were killed during England's persecution of the Church, or the witch trials that swept countries, versus during the Inquisition. What made it an even more fascinating read was the writing. It was anything but dull.

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich-

This was perhaps the toughest book I read last year; as in it made me ugly cry (I'm not one that usually cries)! While not 100% authenticated, yet, Anne Catherine Emmerich's visions of the Passion were heartbreaking. Most especially the Agony in the Garden and the Scourging. If you've seen the movie The Passion, it's based off of this book.  You'll need all the tissues! ALL OF THEM!!

The Bad Times by John Walsh and Christine Kinealy-

One of the most beautifully written and powerful graphic novels I read last year. This one about broke my heart as it covered the great famine that struck Ireland in the late 1800s. Seriously though, they did a wonderful job bringing to life the hard times that the famine caused the people of Ireland. It was just really well done (almos had me in tears as I was reading it prior to the start of a book club meeting).

City of Saints by George Weigel-

Have you ever read a book that just made you want to visit the place even more. Well, that is what happened when I read City of Saints last year. If I could, I would be on the first available flight to Poland to see everything it has to offer, as well, as to walk through all the places that were important to Pope St. John Paul II. George Weigel does one killer job bringing to life the culture and beauty of Poland with his descriptions.

Echo of God by Fr, Lance Harlow-

While I have not had a chance to review Echo of God yet, because words fail me, this book is a wonderful guide to True Devotion by St. Francis de Sales. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was how he expanded upon, and made Francis de Sales' True Devotion more accessible for modern readers. He did a great job shining light on some aspects of the saints writing that may be hard for readers of our time to understand.

Our Lady of Fatima by William Thomas Walsh-

The appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three kids at Fatima is one of my favorites. While I knew a decent amount of the story before reading this book, it was nice to learn more in-depth about the children and the experiences that followed the event. Let us not forget about the phenomenal miracle that took place in the sky...by the by, this is the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.

The Retrial of Joan of Arc by Regine Pernoud-

While not my favorite saint, or even in my top ten (no offence Joan), I've always been curious as to why the English burned her at the stake. To me, it always felt like more of a political move them a religious one-which was kind of proved as the book takes you step by step through the retrial held around twenty years after her death, It was interesting to note the simple things she was denied during her incarceration- that of being held in the Ecclesiastical prison for women and being tried through the Church, especially since she appealed right to the Pope numerous times, and many other points. You could tell that the author really did her research whilst putting this book together. And how important it was to not only herself, but also to the French to set the record straight. Lots of politics...but then again what point of history is not steeped in it.

The Templars: Knights of Christ by Regine Pernoud-

Okay, so, The Templars is one of the most intriguing groups from the Middle Ages. For one thing, their rise to power and then sudden collapse. I've always found it to be rather suspicious/fascinating. Don't ask me how I came to be intrigued by the history of the Templars, that is one mystery that not even I know the answer to. But, I will say that Regine Pernoud did a great job presenting historical facts, in both the positive and negative, in regards to the history of the order of the Templars. While I still have questions, it was an interesting read nonetheless.

Those Terrible Middle Ages by Regine Pernoud-

*pardon me while I flail* Those Terrible Middle Ages was everything I wanted, and, oh so much more! The way she debunked those myths regarding the Middle Ages was hilarious. I could very nearly picture her sitting at a table giving a discourse and slamming her hand down upon the table as she shattered those misconceptions (of which there were many). On a more serious note, as she talked about the people's reasoning for dubbing the Middle Ages the "Dark Ages", you not only came to have  a better grasp upon what actually happened during that time period, but also to have a better respect for those that lived during it. It was a breath of fresh air!  *shoves book at every single one of you*

At long last, we have come to the end of the bookish recap of last year. If you check out the links at the beginning of the post, you will see the best and worst fiction books of last year. As well as some ramblings on upcoming changes to The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia and thoughts on last year. 

In case you were wondering, I'm not quite done recapping last year! I still would like to talk about all the anime I watched, of which there is an abundance, and maybe, just maybe, y'all can assist me in naming a new feature for the blog. One that shows you what goes on when I'm not reading, blogging, nor killing time on social media. I am at a total loss on what to call it, and am hoping that you can help me get this new blog project off the ground!

I am looking forward to another year of blogging here; and am hoping to get to know all of you much better this year. As we rocket towards my ninth year of blogging, I want to make this year more of exciting journey with you the readers of the blog. 

Tell me, what are you goals and dreams for 2017? Any books that you hope to read this year (that you've been meaning to)?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Want to Read It (39): Last Day on Mars

I Want to Read It, a hybrid between WLW (or WOW) and what's on my to-be read pile. Well, instead of focusing just on books I would like to acquire, I will be using it to feature books that I just want to read. From the one's I want to buy to the one's sitting on my TBR at home.

Last Day on Mars (Chronicles of the Dark Star, 1) by Kevin Emerson, February 14, 2017. Published by Walden Pond Press. Source; Wishlist.
It is Earth year 2213—but, of course, there is no Earth anymore. Not since it was burned to a cinder by the sun, which has mysteriously begun the process of going supernova. The human race has fled to Mars, but this was only a temporary solution while we prepare for a second trip: a one-hundred-fifty-year journey to a distant star, our best guess at where we might find a new home.
Liam Saunders-Chang is one of the last humans left on Mars. The son of two scientists who have been racing against time to create technology vital to humanity’s survival, Liam, along with his friend Phoebe, will be on the very last starliner to depart before Mars, like Earth before it, is destroyed.


If you could not tell, after taking most of December off, I am somewhat behind on book news. Like for instance, I had no idea until last week that Kevin Emerson had a new middle grade book coming out this year from Walden Pond Press! *flails* I cannot even tell y'all how excited I am for Last Day on Mars because it sounds like such an interesting read. I for one and really hoping that the first book, yes it's a series, gives some more information on why the sun has started to go supernova (in the book). Curiouser, and curiouser.

Have you added this one to your 2017 TBR??

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Ms. Bixby's Last Day

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, January 9, 2017

All About Middle Grade Review: Ms. Bixby's Last Day

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson, June 21, 2016. 320 pages. Published by Walden Pond Press. Source: publisher for review.
Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The good ones. The not-so-good ones. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. But Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like the indignity of school is worthwhile. Who makes the idea of growing up less terrifying. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind.

Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she is very sick and won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a plan. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand just what Ms. Bixby means to Topher, Brand, and Steve—and what they are willing to go to such great lengths to tell her.
First Sentence
Rebecca Roudabush has cooties.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Books of 2016 (Pt 2): That Made My Reader Heart Rejoice

In my last post, I went way off track in my discussion of The Importance of Walking Away from Bad Books. What can I say, last year was a special mix of highs and lows in both reading and life. I accomplished some really awesome things in real life, dealt with way too many dog surgeries and the family things. Which unfortunately meant that reading and blogging had to take a backseat, but this year I'm feeling refreshed and ready to journey through the ninth (yes, NINE) year of blogging here at The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia!

While I don't have solid plans of change (yet) for the blog,  I am hoping to take things in a new and exciting direction for the new year. There's just so much I want to do that finding a point to jump in is proving to be the aspect that is giving me them most trouble. Have no fear though, as I am nowhere close to saying goodbye or shutting down the blog. Just looking to revamp things somewhat.

Speaking of changes, if things begin to look, well, wonky around here, that is because I will be slowly implementing a change  of scenery. I've been meaning to "unveil" t he new design for months now; but finding the time to finalize everything has been difficult. So please be excited to see how the face of the blog will be changing over the next few weeks.

Because I don't want you to miss any of the fun, be sure to follow me on Instagram (HauntedOrchid) and Pinterest, as well, as Twitter as I share projects I'm working on and the books I'm reading...before they hit the blog. I may be reserved at times, but if you want/need someone to speak with I'm an excellent listener (so I've been told).

The question left to be answered what are the books That Made My Heart Rejoice last year. Never fear, there were some books that blew me away (that were not rereads); though today I only want to talk about the fiction, both young adult and middle grade, that made me excited to read.

Best of Fiction- 2016

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson-
This book is everything I could have asked for (and more). It's beautifully written and the characters stories are incredible! I'm still at a loss for how to go more in-depth into my thoughts on it for a review...hence why it's not up just yet.

Fannie Never Flinched by Mary Cronk Farrell-

Fannie was an interesting person of interest to read about. While it may be a 'cheat' to include this one on my fiction best of 2016, I wanted to include it because of the age range that it is written for. I bet y'all will enjoy learning about how she fought for social justice and equal wages during the early 1900s.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer-

Marissa Meyer's retelling of how the Red Queen descended into madness was really well done. I really enjoyed getting to know the character prior to her madness; plus the world was so vivid that you really felt that you were there right alongside her as the story unfolded.

Starters by Lissa Price-

Somewhere between moves, Starters got mixed up into my read piles. Which is why I did not read it till last year! While it was different from what I had expected, it was also better than I thought i would be. I really enjoyed the angle that the author took with her book; and have an abundance of theories as to what happens next.

The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner-

There were quite a few reasons that this one makes the list. The chief of all being that I really enjoyed seeing the characters come to love themselves for who they were. I thought the author did a wonderful job capturing the aspect of bullying, neglect, and personal growth; all while adding hope into the mix.

Eden's Wish by M. Tara Crowl-

Probably one of the funniest books I read last year! It was just one of those books that pulls you right into the story as it has action and adventure mixed with a lovable character that just wants more.

Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carson-

Another really fun read with a fabulous main character! Her dream of sailing the seas and being a feared pirate was one of the reasons I deeply enjoyed reading this one; that and the incredible writing.

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand-

There are really no words, other than the one's I squeaked out for my review, to express my heartfelt love of this book. The writing is breathtaking; just read it.

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger-

One of the few books I bought last year. While it was purchased purely on a whim, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it (my first of her books). Even though steampunk is not really my thing, it was an excellent read that had me blazing through the pages.

Something Wicked by Alan Gratz-

I'll be honest, I had been putting off reading this one because the first one, Something Rotten, was one of my favorite books. I just did not think a sequel could live up to it. Instead it left me craving for another mystery to solve with Horatio (you hear that Mr. Gratz).

Mary Jemison: Native American Captive by E.F. Abbott-

I found this be another really well done historical account. I thought the author did a great job capturing Mary's fear and how she came to love the tribe that adopted her into their family.

Alcatraz VS the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson-

My first Sanderson novel, I must say that I quite enjoyed it. Alcatraz, and his entire family, was rather odd and yet that was what made me like them all the more. The whole book was a little on the outlandish side, but I think that's what made it so entertaining to read.

Dragon Lantern by Alan Gratz-

A wonderful followup to The League of Seven! What I really liked about it, and why it was such a great sequel, was the character development. I thought the story/character arcs really progressed in this one; it never felt like a bridging book.

Guys, I am officially out of words for my Best Fiction Reads of 2016! Have you read any of these books? Did any of them pique your interest?

Up next(ish), all the non-fiction books that I adored from last year.