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The Iron Trial - Cassandra Clare, Holly Black
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Are there similarities between this and the Harry Potter series? Yes. Is it still a unique and entertaining read? Definitely. 

While the story and characters share some traits with Harry Potter, there is tons of new stuff going on and each character is dealing with their own unique struggles. So yes, it's a wizarding school featuring a team of two males and one female with a stuck-up, slightly charismatic male as a school nemesis, but I promise this is not just a Harry Potter rip off. So much different stuff going on. 

I picked this up from the library because I have become obsessed with Holly Black's writing lately and was intrigued by the cover. I'll admit, the book starts out kind of slow. I didn't really like Call's character (plus, it took me forever to realize his name was "Call" and not "Cole", darn audiobooks- the whole time I couldn't figure out how "Cole" was short for "Callum"). He's a bit irritating and clueless. He grows on your a little bit, but I mostly stuck around for Aaron and Tamara. 

But the whole world-building. I loved all of the descriptions of the school itself and the various rooms. So cool. All of the magic stuff was fascinating. I liked the idea of magic coming from the elements and the apprentices learning to control them without wands or potions. 

The plot was a bit slow to start, but in my opinion, it was worth it for the twist at the end. You know something was coming, but I never would have guessed it was that. Great twist that really pulls the reader in.

I definitely want to continue the series. Just requested the next audiobook from the library. 
A Cake to Bake (Disney Princess) - Apple Jordan, Fabio Laguna, Andrea Cagol
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This book was a bit of a letdown. I was excited by the idea of a book with multiple princesses in it. But the book is very random because of this and kind of boring. 

Instead of incorporating all of the princesses into one story, this book describes the princesses essentially doing the same thing: baking. Each princess has her own mini-story. Interesting idea, but the stories are so short and simple that they are rather dull (Beast is sad so Belle makes brownies, Rapunzel enters a pie contest). None of the stories were very exciting. 

Plus, Merida's story didn't really add up. I haven't seen Brave in awhile, but I can't imagine Merida being super in to baking. And I definitely don't see her gladly sharing the cookies she made with her brothers after they refused to help her. 

The illustrations were nice. It was interesting to see the princesses in new environments. 

This one was just okay.

Dear fellow crafters and Miyazaki lovers,


Over the past year, I have gotten really into Hayao Miyazaki movies and, with the help of my trusty library card, have slowly been making my way through his work. So far my favorites are Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service, but My Neighbor Totoro holds a special place in my heart.


Anyway, this weekend I went to the Renaissance Faire and decided to semi-dress up. I needed a costume I could complete in an afternoon and, inspired by my love for Studio Ghibli, came up with this simple Totoro costume. I got a lot of compliments on my dress this weekend and even was asked to have my picture taken (twice! once in the bathroom, which is less weird than you think for females, I suppose). Regardless, the costume was a hit.


I had a ton of funny making and wearing this costume. 



Hope you enjoy!



Source: http://www.craft-cycle.com/wont-you-be-my-neighbor-easy-upcycled-my-neighbor-totoro-costume
We Don't Eat Our Classmates - Ryan T. Higgins, Ryan T. Higgins
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Overall, a fun and entertaining read. Similar to Don't Eat the Teacher!, this book describes a little T-Rex's first few days of school and how she struggles to make friends. 

First off, I liked that the T-Rex was a girl. I feel like so many children's books features dinosaurs (especially carnivores like the T-Rex) as male. It's a little thing, but it's nice to see some representation here. 

Secondly, the illustrations are great. Very funny. I loved the detail. Nice touch with the ewww factor (i.e. stream of drool when Penelope eats another student). Gross, but funny.

I actually liked the story itself better than the shark-based Don't Eat the Teacher!. This one does an amazing job of switching perspectives. A creative solution to teach Penelope why the other kids don't want to be her friend and what she can do to be a better friend to them. Very good.

The only thing I didn't like was the whole ponies-are-her-favorite-animal-thing "because ponies are delicious". Yes, it is meant to be funny and is echoed later in the book about children and dinosaurs, but it might be a little much for literal readers. Even as an adult, I was plagued with images of bloody ponies when reading this. Obviously, that was not the intention of the author, but every time ponies popped up in the book after that, I felt a little queasy. Again, I know it is meant to be funny, but I can definitely see my literal child self being horrified by that sentence. Maybe skip that line for very sensitive children. 

Overall, an entertaining read with fun illustrations and a great look at taking others perspectives.
Tales Of Deltora - Emily Rodda, Marc McBride
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I loved this book! 

First off, it is freaking gorgeous. Secondly, it is just so well-written and amazing.

Some of this history was a review for me since I've read all of the Deltora books, but it was cool to have all of the mythology/history all in one place. It is basically The Silmarillion of the Deltora world. 

This is such a cool idea for a book. It is broken into two sections: the Tenna Birdsong Tales and The Deltora Annals histories. This first is treated as mythology/fables (or is it? eyebrow raise) whereas the second is treated as a historical account of the formation of Deltora. It was all so interesting. 

The first section of the book consists of little tales, which read in a similar fashion to The Tales of Beedle the Bard. The second half tells of Adin and how he forged the Belt of Deltora, collected the talismans of the seven territories, and how together they defeated the Shadowlord (the first time). The second half of the book does get a little dark and gruesome (war and all that) so maybe not a good fit for very young or sensitive readers. But the whole thing is just fascinating.

Rodda also sets up the Detora series very well at the end of the book, foretelling of the Shadowlord's return. 

Each chapter/story is accompanied by a gorgeous illustration by Marc McBride. 

This is such a great companion novel to the other Deltora series. It can be read before or after the other ones. Benefit to before is that you know all of the history and backstory stuff going into it so you can pick out where it is referenced in the actual series as you read. Benefit to after (like I did) is that you can recall where the stories/histories popped up in the series as you read about them here. Either way, I think it works.

Great, great read. So awesome. It makes me want to read all of the Delora series again. I am going on a roadtrip soon soooo... who knows?
Saved by the Shell! (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) - Golden Books
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Entertaining book for Ninja Turtle fans. This book basically goes through a brief backstory and how they met April. 

The illustrations are entertaining with a few fights scenes (and an epic explosion!). 

The story is pretty simple, but entertaining. 

I picked this book up from the library to look at with a kid I work with. He liked the pictures of the Ninja Turtles, especially when they were fighting.

Overall, a good read.
Once Upon a Banana - Jennifer Armstrong, David Small
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A surprisingly creative and unique book told entirely in street signs. This rhyming book features a little monkey who steals a banana and all of the chaos that ensues because of one action. Great book for looking at cause and effect. Also interesting look at following rules and obeying street signs, and what could happen if you don't. 

I'll admit, you do have to really pay attention to the pictures. I found myself flipping back and forth to figure out what happened. But it was a great story. Might be helpful for children to read with a parent to assist them in following the chain of events. 

Great illustrations. While they are very busy, they are also very entertaining.

Very good book.

Outcast and Other Words Anthology

Looking for something to read this weekend? How about Outcast and Other Words, a Weekend Writing Prompt anthology?
The anthology features three of my poems and two flash fiction pieces. From fairy tale retellings to color-filled poetry, this diverse anthology is a pleasure to read.
Plus, it's FREE! Check it out now.
My entries include: 
• Bald
Happy reading!

Heartstrings: My First Novel

Good morning, all!


I have excellent news! My first novel is set to be published at the end of the month. The book, Heartstrings, will be available through the Kindle store starting August 31st. The paperback edition will be available about a week later. 


A magical middle grade novel that is full of danger, suspense, discovery, and adventure. See full description below. 


Happy reading!






Cio has never been able to see… or move… or do much of anything. Then, one night, he makes a wish that changes everything. When his wish comes true, Cio ventures off on a great quest, in search of happiness and thrill.

Join Cio on a fantastical journey in this middle grade adventure story. In his travels, Cio faces terrifying obstacles, but also makes great discoveries regarding friendship, honesty, and bravery, and even finds out a few things about himself along the way. 

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) - Holly Black
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is just one of those books that is super difficult to review.

Overall, it was good.

I think my downfall was reading The Darkest Part of the Forest before this one. I absolutely loved that book. It was amazing. I loved everything about it. When I figured out this series was set in the same universe, I was ecstatic. After reading The Darkest Part of the Forest, I was disappointed that it was a standalone. I thought this would be a perfect fit for me. I cannot get enough Hazel.

However, what I got instead was Jude, a cheap Hazel knockoff who is whiny, self-centered, clueless, and thinks way too much. Like way, way too much. Someone needs to get this kid out of her own head. 

There was a lot of interesting stuff going on in this book, but I think it was a little too political and murderous for me. It was like Game of Thrones but with fey characters. For the most part, I found it kind of dull. And Jude's narration drove me crazy. She felt the need to overexplain everything, but was completely clueless as to what was going on around her (Come on now, we all know why Cardan hates you the moment we met him. And Taryn's secret lover is not so secret if you pay any attention at all.) Once she figures something out, she rehashes every encounter with the person as if the reader didn't know the person's intentions after reading one page about them. Jude, just stop talking. Go fight someone. For someone who has so much battle strategy, you know nothing about interpersonal realtionships. 

I realize this sounds like an overly negative review, but I promise there were good parts. I really liked a lot of the characters (The Ghost, The Bomb, and The Roach are all fantastic in their own ways. And Oak is just so cute.) There were tons of twists and turns, which keep the reader on their toes. It definitely wasn't all predictable. 

Plus, Hazel makes a cameo in the book. Squeeee! (Yes, that's the first and last time I will probably ever make that noise. But so worth it.) 

So overall, it was a good book. It just wasn't as good as The Darkest Part of the Forest. I will probably continue the series, but I am in no hurry (plus the library doesn't have the next book in audiobook format yet, so the wait is on anyway). Starting Holly Black's Magisterium series next week and hoping for something a little more entertaining.
Prince & Knight - Daniel Haack, Stevie Lewis
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is a beautiful book. 

Let's be real, you know what is going to happen just by looking at the title and the cover art. If the subject matter is going to offend your delicate sensibilities, go find something else to read. Don't get mad because this book is what it is.

I loved this book. The story is simple, but adorable. I enjoyed the rhyming used. I also liked the diversity in the illustrations. Princesses are shown with a variety of skin colors. Yes, they are all conventionally thin and have similar features, but you can't have everything. Both of the main characters appear to be white, but again, you can't have it all. 

The illustrations were very beautiful and I loved the story itself. Fantastic read. 

That whole dragon scene was just :) <3 :) <3 :) <3

Awesome, awesome picture book. 
Big Truck Show! (Bubble Guppies) - Mary Tillworth, Mike Jackson
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A cute little Bubble Guppies book that is very simple.

It is a Step 1 book, which is targeted to preschool and kindergarten age children. The text uses easy words and there are picture clues to assist with reading. 

I liked that this book included a very simple small story within the book. Some Step 1 books are very simple and just act as description, whereas this one worked in a little plot. It still remained simple, but it was also a bit of a story.

Nice illustrations. Good for young fans of Bubble Guppies.
Roller Girl - Victoria Jamieson
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This graphic novel was amazing! I absolutely loved it. It is so easy to get lost in the story. 

This book tackles so many important issues such as honesty, friends drifting apart, growing up, new friendships starting, and understanding that other people have their own interests. All that, plus there is tons of derby action, which is amazing. This is a great book for anyone interested in roller derby because it goes through most of the main rules while still telling an entertaining story. I really enjoyed it. You can tell Jamieson is passionate about roller derby. It shows on every page. 

Also, the artwork is great. I loved all of the dramatic scenes that happened in Astrid's head (the shopping one was by far my favorite).

A wonderful story that is easy to relate to. This book is phenomenal.
Cold Tom - Sally Prue

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Overall, a good read. 

I liked the vague start. The reader has no idea what is going on and this really intrigued me.

This is a middle-grade book, so it is relatively simple. As an adult, I was able to figure out all of the twists fairly quickly, but I think the pacing was just right for young readers. The story drags a little bit in the middle, but it is still entertaining. 

Great descriptions. I thought it was a very unique and creative story. I really liked the idea of the vines between people. Interesting book.

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) - Peter Brown
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I love the concept of this book. The changing perspectives is great. It reminds me of Mike Thaler's The (insert person here) from the Black Lagoon series. Very entertaining and creative. I love how the teacher progressively becomes more human as Bobby gets to know her outside of school. Great concept. 

The book also has wonderful illustrations. I really enjoyed them. Very fun. 

This is an entertaining book that works on multiple levels. It can be enjoyed by kids who are too young to understand the full depth of the story as well as older kids. This will work with a variety of children. 

Great book.
Llama Llama Loves to Read - Anna Dewdney
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A wonderful book for young book-lovers.

I'll admit, I was a little disappointed that there wasn't really a story in this one. The book touches on various aspects of Llama Llama learning to read (sight words, alphabet, getting books at the library), but does not have a real plot. There is a point when Llama gets a tiny bit frustrated about hard words, but it doesn't really go anywhere. I really like Llama Llama books that teach a lesson. This one celebrates reading, which is wonderful, but it wasn't much of a story.

Having said that, it was still an entertaining and pleasant read. The rhyme scheme is very soothing and the book flows nicely. I also enjoyed the illustrations.

Overall, it could have used more of a plot, but I still found it to be an enjoyable book.