Book Review: Life Before Legend: The Stories of the Prodigy and the Criminal by Marie Lu


Goodreads Synopsis:

Find out more about June and Day in this never-before-seen glimpse into their daily lives before they met in Marie Lu’s New York Times bestselling LEGEND series. As twelve-year-olds struggling to survive in two very different worlds within the Republic’s stronghold, June was starting her first day of school at Drake University as the youngest cadet ever admitted, and Day was fighting for food on the streets of the Lake sector. LIFE BEFORE LEGEND contains two original stories written by Marie Lu that give readers a sneak peek into the lives of their favorite characters in a thrilling new context.


About the Author:


(Author’s POV)

I write young adult novels, and have a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, I was born in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an Art Director at a video game company. Now I shuffle around at home and talk to myself a lot. 🙂

I graduated from the University of Southern California in ’06 and currently live in LA, where I spend my time stuck on the freeways.


My Review:

This novella was really interesting to read.  I love being able to read about what the characters did or what they were like before the events of the first book happened.  This was an amazing storyline and I love reading books by Marie Lu.  She is really an awesome author.

What is your favorite Marie Lu book?


Book Review: The Art of Fully Living by Tal Gur


Goodreads Synopsis:

Master the art of fully living, one life goal at a time.

Do you want to experience your one life—your whole life—to its fullest measure?

In this stirring book, author, blogger and lifestyle entrepreneur, Tal Gur offers his own transformational journey as an inspiring example and practical guide to implementing the art of fully living to its fullest potential. You’ll learn how to actualize your potential by forging all aspects of your life through the process built into your life goals.

Once you discover “the art of fully living,” there is no going back; it will feel unacceptable to settle for less than your dreams—and what’s more, you’ll dream even more wildly, aspiring to action with greater clarity of purpose, broader horizons of possibility, and holistic vision across all areas of your life.

The very structure of this book models Tal’s immersive approach to goal-driven living: each chapter of The Art of Fully Living is dedicated to a year of focus—socializing, fitness, freedom, contribution, love, adventure, wealth, relationship, spirituality, and creativity—and follows Tal’s endeavors as he works toward fulfilling 100 life goals in only 10 years.

This daunting ambition, springing from one late-night conversation among friends and a gnawing discontentment within the typical “success” story, becomes extremely relatable through Tal’s bold storytelling; what’s more, the deep lessons learned become immediately applicable for your own purposes as Tal thoughtfully extracts the actionable wisdom from his own experiences to articulate the principles and techniques of “the art of fully living.”

The Art of Fully Living takes you along the exhilarating ride of Tal’s journey while illuminating your own possible life-goal trajectory: as Tal relates how he socialized nonstop in vibrant Melbourne to master English and trained intensively to complete Ironman New Zealand and practice ancient Thai martial arts, you’ll learn how to apply immersion to achieve your own life goals; as Tal describes how he eliminated his crushing student debt in one year and attained financial and location independence, you’ll learn how to simplify your life, recognize your own present wealth, and turn your passions into a living; and as Tal animates his experiences learning to surf and salsa, to drum in a troupe and compose electronic music, and to write this very book, you’ll learn how to let your intuition be your guide, reveal your authentic core, and achieve flow—among the myriad other adventures and take-aways that fill this book.

Tal not only introduces the idea that the art of fully living is another skill to master but also guides you through honing this skill with chapter lessons and actionable key takeaways.

This is especially for you if you find yourself frustrated often, feeling low, or if you’re struggling while asking yourself “What do I REALLY want?”

You will find your calling.
You will define your life goals.
You will discover how to leverage your strengths to achieve your dreams.
You will know what it means to be truly free.
You will be fulfilled by the path you have chosen to take from this point on.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone discovered and did what made them feel fully alive?

Your dreams are your dreams for a reason; they are rooted in your deepest understanding of who you want and can become.


About the Author:

(Author’s POV)

Hi, I’m Tal, an internet entrepreneur, coach, traveler, and financial freedom enthusiast.
I use this space to share the key lessons I’ve learned along the way, my best strategies, inspiring journeys, uplifting stories, bucket list ideas, empowering thoughts, and other resources to empower you to fully live.


My Review:

I learned really quickly that this type of book is not my cup of tea.  That does not mean that I didn’t like this book as a whole (I did like it), but it  took me a while to get through because I don’t particularly like reading nonfiction whether it is memoirs or another form of nonfiction that doesn’t deal with what I love.


Book Review: Lovesick by Jacqueline Levering Sterling


Goodreads Synopsis:

It is 1953 and Jeanmarie Dowd is crazy about handsome Chuck Neary, captain of Rainier High School’s hockey team and boy wonder musician. But he belongs to Terry Miller, her best friend, the school’s reigning beauty. But Jeanmarie has a few things going for her, too. She is smart, fun loving, and energetic with a wicked sense of humor. She accepts her role as Chuck’s chief confidant, knowing that it might lead to betraying her best friend. She also must deal with her sister Iris, suspected of being a communist. Can she be loyal to both her sister and Terry without betraying those she loves most?


About the Author:


(From Author’s POV)

I was born in Tacoma, Washington, a city on the beautiful Puget Sound. It is always in the background of most of my writing. The Northwest was the perfect place to grow up. The long, rainy days never bothered me. They meant I had plenty of time to read, and I seldom had my nose out of a book.

Though there was a war on during most of my young life, and food and clothing were rationed, there was no limit to my imagination. My neighborhood friends and I loved to play war, talking in bad French accents and pretending we were in the French Resistance. We dug foxholes in the yard of a very obliging neighbor, had wonderful picnics at Point Defiance Park and put on elaborate plays for the amusement of our astonished parents. I sometimes fished with my father in Puget Sound and went clam digging on the shores of the Pacific.

I spent my summers at my grandmother’s in Walla Walla, Washington. Just like Annie, I spent the sixth grade there. Being with my grandmother was always a treat, especially since she had a grocery store. My cousins lived nearby, and we managed to find adventures running through the endless gardens and orchards.

Since I had asthma, I was often home from school. In junior high I used to write romance novels in longhand on big lined school tablets. I hid them in shoe boxes because I feared my mother would think them silly.

In the fifties I graduated from college, married and moved to California where I began to teach high school. In 1961, I had a son. When he was about six months old, I started to paint and for the next twenty years I worked in oils, studied printmaking and earned a Masters in Drawing and Painting. When my son was small, he used to paint his own pictures in the bottom corners of mine.

By the time my son was in high school, I was a single mother living in Claremont, California. In 1984 I started teaching at Pitzer College where I met my husband Jack. We married in 1985, and Claremont became my permanent home. One day I was visiting a neighbor, and we started talking about the internment of the Japanese during World War II. My neighbor’s daughter overheard our conversation and was amazed to find out that even though she was studying WWII in school, she had no idea what we were talking about. That very afternoon, I went home and started writing a story about the war, fully intending to write it just for her and her sister and brother. The story became a novel, then it inspired a picture book. Though I never sold either of those books, they were the beginning of the process that led to Annie’s War.

I began Annie’s War as a story about a girl trying help her family cope with the aftermath of WWII. It soon became clear that I was writing Annie’s story to satisfy my own curiosity about how the real Miss Gloria came to be such an important part of our family. How was it that in the 1940’s, a time when prejudice was commonplace even in the Northwest, my grandmother willingly bucked the attitudes of some of her neighbors, to give Gloria a home and a job? Why was it that I had such strong images of Gloria as a part of my young life? Since I had only my own memories of that time and a few I heard from older members of my family, I set out to create the story that could have been ours.

I no longer have to keep my manuscripts in shoeboxes.


My Review:

Cue the McDonald’s jingle.  I absolutely loved this book.  It gave me all kinds of feelings, so many that this book could be considered an emotional rollercoaster.  I really did enjoy this book and I would love to here what you thought about it if you have read it.

Book Review: Captain America Secret Empire #0 by Nick Spencer


Goodreads Synopsis:

The Marvel Universe is under siege from within! Captain America, secretly a true believer in the cause of Hydra, has turned his back on the Super Hero community. Using the trust and respect he has gained over the years he has ascended to a position where he can enacts Hydra’s ideals. The death of Jack Flag, the trial of Maria Hill, the second Civil War, the alien Chitauri Queen. All of the dominos of Captain America’s plan have been laid out – and it will take only the slightest push to set them into action! Now, the Avengers, the Champions, the Defenders, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the X-Men and more will be tested. As Hydra’s grip tightens around the Marvel Universe, the heroes stand at the precipice of an unprecedented challenge. How will they Marvel Universe cope with this shattering betrayal by the most trusted among them?


About the Author:


Nick Spencer is a comic book writer known for his creator-owned titles at Image Comics (Existence 2.0/3.0, Forgetless, Shuddertown, Morning Glories), his work at DC Comics (Action Comics, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents), and for his current work at Marvel Comics (Iron Man 2.0, Ultimate Comics: X-Men).


My Review:

This story was amazing.  It hurts my heart a little bit to see Captain America as a undercover hydra agent (not really a spoiler because you can see and guess that from the cover), but it makes for an interesting story.

Book Review: Happy Land: A Fairy Tale in Two Parts by Tes Mekonnen


Goodreads Synopsis:

Would you like to court me to Happyland?” Prince Gobbledygook asks Lily Marshmallow and himself. Therein the journey begins to find Happyland. Follow him as he tries to define happiness with a little help from his friends, Big Wig Sophisticated Pig, Brutus Beaujolais and Cornelius Wordbook, an English gentleman with a book-for-a-head. Prince Gobbledygook duels, loses his ladylove, regains his original name and gains a friendship that will last for fourforevers. Will they make it to Happyland?

Readers have brought this to my attention. There is an issue with how Lily Marshmallow is represented.
Lily Marshmallow is not an object or some weak woman that requires a man to save her. She is Life. Prince Gobbledygook is in some sort of purgatory and she is his mirror. I must emphasize this–Lily Marshmallow is Life and Life doesn’t talk and we all want to fight for it. I tried to infuse my philosophy into Happyland.
Prince Gobbledygook is the now.
Lily Marshmallow is Life.
Adolfo Dumfries is Future (as a cautionary tale).
Leopold Balthazar II is Past.
This story might be fictitious, but it explains my journey for seeking happiness.
Thank you,
Tes Mekonnen


About the Author:


I’m just a kid from Akron, Africa. I always believed that I would come to America and write something of great importance. Guess what? I am in America and I’ve written something of…great importance. I’m promising the world a championship in the form of sublime art. In these direst of times, we need somebody to root for—and I am that square root—a true African booty scratcher. I’ve been scratching my whole life, but I’ve yet to scratch the surface. In the Mekonnen household, nothing is given—that is why we don’t have s$#t. This is my calling—just don’t call me on it. Teezus speaks for the disenfranchised! I do this for the kid that thinks about signing his 1st contract, with WacArnolds, a non-guaranteed 10-year/$250,000 deal. Do not sign that contract! I do this for the man livin’ paycheck to paycheck. At 11:55 (p.m.), I’ve seen this man in 7-Eleven, with a fully dressed hot dog in one hand and his phone in the other, waiting for his direct deposit to come in at midnight. I am that man and I no longer want to be that man. I’m coming home, baby! I’m always coming home! Pay me forward! Support this independent artist.
—Tes Mekonnen (TEEZUS)


My Review:

This was a really interesting book. It was really fun to read because some of the language and character names stopped you for a little while because it was so strange. From the moment I saw one of the main characters’ name I knew that this was going to be a strange book. So if you are looking for a strange read, the this book will be right up your alley.

Book Review: Crossing into Brooklyn by Mary Ann McGuigan


Goodreads synopsis:

To Find Your Future, You Have to Face Your Past

At sixteen, Morgan Lindstrum has the life that every other girl wants–at least from the outside. A privileged only child, she has everything she could ever want, except her parents’ attention. A Princeton physicist and a high-powered executive, they barely have any time for each other, much less for Morgan. Then her beloved grandfather dies, depriving Morgan of the only stable figure in her life. If that’s not enough, she suddenly finds out he was never her grandfather at all. To find out the truth about her family, Morgan makes her way to Brooklyn, where she meets Terence Mulvaney, the Irish immigrant father who her mother disowned. Morgan wants answers; but instead of just satisfying her curiosity, Mulvaney shows her the people in his condemned tenement building, who are suffering and have nowhere to go. He challenges her to help them, by tearing away the veil of shame, and showing her wealthy parents and her advantaged circle of friends a world they don’t want to know exists. The temptation to walk away from this ugly reality, as her mother did, is strong. But if she does, can Morgan ever really leave behind what she learned when she crossed into Brooklyn?


About the Author:


Mary Ann McGuigan’s young-adult novels are about teens trying to make sense of the chaos grown-ups leave in their wake. Reviewers call them powerful and compelling, and they’ve been ranked among the best books for teens by the Junior Library Guild, the New York Public Library, and the Paterson Prize. Where You Belong was a finalist for the National Book Award, and she has served on the foundation’s panel of judges.

Mary Ann writes fiction for grown-ups too. Pieces, a composite novel, contains short stories nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net. She loves to hear from readers—young and old. You can find her on Facebook or on her website.


My Review:

I really liked this book.  The story line was amazing and intriguing.  The concept was interesting, because I have never read a book with a long lost family member element.  I really want to read some more of her books to see how she writes about teens trying to make sense of grown-ups’ chaos.

Book Review: Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs


Goodreads Synopsis:

Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A fork-tongued princess. The origins of the first ymbryne. These are but a few of the truly brilliant stories in Tales of the Peculiar—known to hide information about the peculiar world—first introduced by Ransom Riggs in his Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series.

Riggs now invites you to share his secrets of peculiar history, with a collection of original stories, as collected and annotated by Millard Nullings, ward of Miss Peregrine and scholar of all things peculiar.

About the Author:


Hi, I’m Ransom, and I like to tell stories. Sometimes I tell them with words, sometimes with pictures, often with both. I grew up on a farm on the Eastern shore of Maryland and also in a little house by the beach in Englewood, Florida where I got very tan and swam every day until I became half fish. I started writing stories when I was young, on an old typewriter that jammed and longhand on legal pads. When I was a little older I got a camera for Christmas and became obsessed with photography, and when I was a little older still my friends and I came into possession of a half-broken video camera and began to make our own movies, starring ourselves, using our bedrooms and backyards for sets. I have loved writing stories and taking photographs and making movies ever since, and have endeavored to do all three.

My Review:

The stories in this book were amazing.  I love it when authors do bind ups of little stories that they have written to go along with the series.  It makes it so much easier to read for some people because it you have less distractions with reading a physical book than with an e-reader (I know I do), but that does not mean that I won’t get an e-reader in the future, I may do that soon.

Book Review: Ms. Marvel Omnibus Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson


Goodreads Synopsis:

The complete first season of Marvel’s international sensation between two covers! Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City – until she suddenly gains extraordinary gifts. But who is she now? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? As Kamala explores her newfound powers in the guise of the new Ms. Marvel, she takes on the maniacal Inventor, teams up with Wolverine and Spider-Man, meets the Inhuman royal family, adopts their teleporting dog Lockjaw, faces the mischief of Loki, and fi nally hangs out with her idol Captain Marvel! All while facing the regular girl problems of family, first love and…the end of the world? If Kamala Khan isn’t your favorite hero yet, read this and she will be!


About the Author:


Willow is author of the New York Times bestselling comic book series MS MARVEL, winner of the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. Her first novel, ALIF THE UNSEEN, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2012, long listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) and winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

She enjoys British films, cooking, and Massive Multiplayer Online video games, and holds a purple belt in kajukenbo. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.


My Review:

I loved every thing about this book.  loved the story line and the artwork. I know that I want to read more of Ms. Marvel and any other the Marvel heroes.  I truly am a die hard Marvel fan.

Book Review: South of Mainstreet by Robert Gately


Goodreads Synopsis:

Henry Wolff regularly climbs out of his upstairs bedroom window. The neighbors think it strange that a grown man enjoys a Tarzan like swing from the roof, but then again, they all think Henry is a little strange. Recently widowed, Henry is an emotionally challenged father being sued by his daughter for financial control of the estate. Henry must prove he is normal – not an easy thing to do when you are not. Henry is different, not quite normal, not quite special. Rumors explaining his behavior run from PTSD in Vietnam to losing his son to SIDS. But Henry has a special gift. In a town divided by the have and have-nots, Henry alone can inspire and touch even the most jaded lost soul. But when tragedy strikes, can he unite his own family?

About the Author:


(Bio is in Author’s POV)

I was born in 1946 in Lynn, Massachusetts and my father moved our family to Levittown, Long Island, New York in 1951 to get a fresh start. That was where I began my training on a hybrid New England and NY accent. Although I love New York, and all the friends I made during the early years, I was a Red Sox fan who had to compete and live with New York Giants, Dodgers and Yankee fans during Boston’s most dry years. It was a character-building experience.

I went to Catholic grammar school, graduated from Chaminade High School in 1964. And in ’65 I entered the United States Navy. I received an education in electronics, graduated from Cleveland Institute of Electronics, got my First Class FCC license, successfully completed a Famous Writer’s School home course, married and fathered a beautiful daughter, all before leaving the service.

Once out of the Navy, I worked as an engineer at a radio station for a couple of years. Then I found a home with AT&T where I spent the next 27 years, most of which as a white-collar staff worker. Somewhere between 1971 and 1973, I became a father of two more wonderful daughters and spent the next ten years going to Suffolk Community College, Stony Brook University, New York Institute of Technology and, finally, Fairleigh Dickinson University where I graduated in 1982. It took 176 credits to accomplish this task mainly because I loved academia and had little focus on getting a degree. I completed four semesters of Calculus, took physics, computers and electronics, and I loved my earth science and philosophy classes. I finally settled in with an English degree. Go figure.

Writing has always been my greatest occupational passion, and in the late ‘70’s I published a novel based on the telephone company exploits of two employees gone mad. I published this work through a vanity press,and Bertha Klausner became my agent. During this time I wrote feature articles for a local newspaper in New Jersey, and a plethora of short stories. I finished my first screenplay in the early ‘80’s, but put my pen down and spent the next ten years seeking balance in my life.

During the nineties, I regained my writing momentum, but it wasn’t until I was offered an early retirement from AT&T in 1998 that I became the serious writer I always wanted to be. I took a Michael Hauge seminar, and also enrolled in a dozen acting courses to help me better understand stage and screenwriting structures, formats, and the general particulars required for story and character development.

Since 1998, I have written ten screenplays, three stage plays (one with Drew Keil, a Long Island friend, a dramaturg of exceptional talent, who graduated with me at Chaminade. For that matter, one of my screenplays was the life-story of Ed Dennehy – brother of actor Brian – who also graduated with Drew and I).

I wrote two more novels, one of which was published in the August of 2005 by Sun Rising Press, which went bankrupt shortly after signing me – hopefully I didn’t have anything to do with their demise. More recently Entrada Publishing picked up “South of Main Street” and to date I’ve had two book signings with B&N bookstores. Taken as a group, these works have reached finalist or better in close to 180 festival, theatre, novel and screenplay writing competitions around the world since 2000. My stage plays and screenplays alone have won 27 contests and have come in second place in 19 others. My novel successes include Faulkner/Wisdom Creative Writing contest, Norumbego Fiction Award, Chesterfield, Writer’s Network, Dana Awards, Frontiers in Writing, SFWP (Santa Fe), etc. I’m humbled by the above because of the subjective nature of judging, and because my work has been nixed right from the get-go by many more ‘readers’ than those giving their ‘thumbs up’, which adds a new interpretation to an old adage that “… one can fool some of the people some of the time …”.

As side note: my acting career since 1998 has me boasting about appearing in 15 feature length films, and a notable lead in a independent student film titled, FRAME, which won the Platinum award for ‘Best Dramatic Short’ at the Houston Worldfest in 2002. Mostly, though, the roles where short, walk-on appearances. If you ever look for me don’t blink … you might miss my elbow or foot. But I loved the process working with actors such as Meryl Streep (Manchurian Candidate), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa) and Mark Walberg (Invincible) to name a few. The movie-making bug is in my marrow and I simple love the process.

Since 2007, I have worked as adjunct teacher off-and-on for a screenwriting 101 course at a community college (adult education), and I’ve been honored to be a screenwriting judge for the Temple University’s Derek Freese/Senior Project Scripts Award. I feel blessed and honored to have met an unusual hero in South Asia, the subject of one of my non-fiction books, and, if I’m lucky, I might be able to do him justice. More on this when it is published. I currently live in Bethlehem with my wife, Lois, who is also my editor and is affectionately known as ‘Jellybean’. We have two cats, Enki and Gilgamesh, who answer to no one except themselves.


My Review:

This was a really unique book. I don’t think I have read a book where the main protagonist is in his mid fifties. The chapters were really long though so that was the reason I took off a star. I really liked the story line and the ending gave me the feels and made my heart feel happy.

Book Review: The Lightning Thief Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan (adapted by Robert Venditti)


Goodreads Synopsis:

You’ve read the book. You’ve seen the movie. Now submerge yourself in the thrilling, stunning, and action-packed graphic novel.
Mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking out of the pages of twelve-year-old Percy Jackson’s textbooks and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Now, he and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus.
Series creator Rick Riordan joins forces with some of the biggest names in the comic book industry to tell the story of a boy who must unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.


About the Author & Adapter:



Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many books, including the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. Please follow him on Twitter and via his official blog.



Robert Venditti is the New York Times best-selling author of The Homeland Directive and the sci-fi graphic novel series The Surrogates, the first installment of which was adapted into a feature film. He currently writes the ongoing monthly comic book series X-O ManowarWrath of the Eternal Warrior, and Green Lantern. His debut children’s novel, Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape: Attack of the Alien Horde, was released by Simon & Schuster in June 2015.
My Review:
I absolutely fangirled when I saw this book sitting on my local library’s shelf.  I absolutely love Rick Riordan’s work especially when it comes to Percy Jackson.  That series and the Heroes of Olympus series are my 2 ultimate favorite book series ever.  I loved the artistry in this book and I obviously loved the storyline of it too.  I can’t wait to read the others in graphic novel form.
What is your favorite Percy Jackson book? Have you read this one? I would love to hear your thoughts please comment below.