Quick Book Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

vengeance road by erin bowman

Title: Vengeance Road

Author: Erin Bowman

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Date finished: 1/30/2019

Recommend for: Fans of young adult novels that include cowboys and haunted mines

Short Review: When this book was first added to my TBR Tower I had picked it up because of the great reviews and it’s not every day I find a young adult (YA) western. After having read this, I can safely say I was not disappointed and I need more YA westerns in my life!

At first the writing style threw me off. It was written with that stereotypical western vernacular, but it was pretty easy to become accustomed to. The story was enjoyable and had great twists, but I’m a sucker for a revenge story, which is what this was. There’s also the ‘finding yourself’ theme and a surface level love story, but the action is what really captured my attention. The main character is pretty reckless with a ‘nothing-to-lose” attitude. I was a little shocked by how graphic this book was for a young adult novel.

I highly recommend this if you are looking for a fast-paced read set in the wild west. Also, please let us take a moment to appreciate that beautiful cover art, which was another reason I gravitated to this novel.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Have you read similar books to this?
  2. Who was your favorite character?
  3. Did you see the twist coming?
  4. Do you think you would have survived the wild west?

My Rating Scale:

5 stars – Can’t stop, won’t stop thinking about this book

4 stars – Deeply enjoyed

3 stars – Meh, it was fine

2 stars – Didn’t give me anything to relate to or a world I wanted to be a part of

1 star – This is just the worst and NOT for me

“To Be Read” Tower Progress: 125 books remaining

Let me know what you thought about the book in the comments below and hangout with me on Goodreads 🙂

Till next time bookworms,

– Laura

Quick Book Review: The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide by Jenna Fischer

Title: The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide

Author: Jenna Fischer

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Date finished: 1/19/2019

Recommend for: Aspiring actors, as well as curious bystanders who want a peak behind the Hollywood curtain

Short Review: I picked this book up because I naively thought this was just a Jenna Fischer memoir. I didn’t realize it was more of a how-to book for aspiring actors. She does acknowledge this is based on her journey and realizes your’s could be (and probably will be) completely different.

That being said, I was not the intended target audience, but I still took away useful tidbits that can be applied to any career. While I don’t need to know ways to get into the Actor’s Guild, I did enjoy the moments of “follow your dreams.” There was a major relatable theme of, “if this is your dream, don’t give up.” Who doesn’t have a dream they want to achieve, but run into all these frustrating obstacles they need to overcome?

While this book was more informational about the industry, Fischer did use her personal stories and experiences to teach those lessons. Her most famous role was playing Pam Beesly on the American version of The Office, which I loved watching (and re-watching). I really enjoyed reading her stories from The Office set.

I would recommend this book if you are a fan of Jenna Fischer and need some “don’t give up” inspiration. You don’t have to be an aspiring actor to value the messages in this book. An a non-actor, it’s interesting to read about a foreign career and gives you a new appreciation for both those on the small and big screens.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are you an aspiring actor?
  2. If not, would you consider this profession?
  3. Were there takeaways from the book that were relatable to careers beyond acting?
  4. Is there more you wish the book covered?

My Rating Scale:

5 stars – Can’t stop, won’t stop thinking about this book

4 stars – Deeply enjoyed

3 stars – Meh, it was fine

2 stars – Didn’t give me anything to relate to or a world I wanted to be a part of

1 star – This is just the worst and NOT for me

“To Be Read” Tower Progress: 126 books remaining

Let me know what you thought about the book in the comments below and hangout with me on Goodreads 🙂

Till next time bookworms,

– Laura

Quick Book Review: Nightmare Town by Dashiell Hammett

Title: Nightmare Town

Author: Dashiell Hammett

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Date finished: 1/12/2019

Recommend for: Lovers of hard-boiled detective stories with copious amounts of 1930s slang

Short Review: If you want to take a step back in time to the American 1930’s, this is the book for you. Hammett is most famous for his novel, The Maltese Falcon. He has also written short stories featuring different private eyes, which are featured in this compilation.

While I enjoyed each story, reading one after the other caused them to start blending together. I recommend reading one, picking up another book, then reading another short story from this series. That should keep each story distinct. Unless of course that book you are reading to break up the short stories is another hard-boiled detective novel…

My favorite story was actually the last one in the book. It ends, and if you are me, you are left staring at the last page thinking “But who did it!?!?!” That story got me worked up and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a couple weeks. Because of that it was one of my favorites and will stay with me. Once I knock down my “TBR Tower” I’ll be picking up The Maltese Falcon for sure!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which story was your favorite?
  2. After reading these stories did you start using 1930’s slang?
  3. Where the stories too similar?
  4. Were you able to guess the ending of most stories?

My Rating Scale:

5 stars – Can’t stop, won’t stop thinking about this book

4 stars – Deeply enjoyed

3 stars – Meh, it was fine

2 stars – Didn’t give me anything to relate to or a world I wanted to be a part of

1 star – This is just the worst and NOT for me

“To Be Read” Tower Progress: 127 books remaining

Let me know what you thought about the book in the comments below and hangout with me on Goodreads 🙂

Till next time bookworms,

– Laura

Quick Book Review: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Title: Through the Woods

Author: Emily Carroll

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Date finished: 12/19/2018

Recommend for: Enthusiasts of the beautifully macabre

Short Review: There’s not much to say, this is a beautifully illustrated book full of macabre stories. I do recommend this even if you aren’t into horror stories. At the very least flip through to peruse the illustrations. Carroll is very talented.

My favorite story was the one with the princess who kept hearing that song at night. As far as most disturbing…it had to be the last story with the girl visiting her brother and sister-in-law. That stuck with my even to today, there was something VERY unsettling about it. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which story was your favorite?
  2. Did you enjoy the stories or the illustrations more?
  3. Which story did you find the most unsettling?
  4. Have you read other illustrated horror stories before?

My Rating Scale:

5 stars – Can’t stop, won’t stop thinking about this book

4 stars – Deeply enjoyed

3 stars – Meh, it was fine

2 stars – Didn’t give me anything to relate to or a world I wanted to be a part of

1 star – This is just the worst and NOT for me

“To Be Read” Tower Progress: 128 books remaining

Let me know what you thought about the book in the comments below and hangout with me on Goodreads 🙂

Till next time bookworms,

– Laura

Bob Ross Paint-A-Long

Growing up my Grandma once told me there was this painter on WTTW that I should watch. That painter was Bob Ross on his Joy of Painting series. As a child I was fascinated how Ross was able to make a forest out of a few brushstrokes. Let’s be honest, as an adult I’m still in awe. I also love how positive Ross is while painting, it’s never stressful and he makes you feel like you can’t ever mess up your painting.

My dad and I decided to take on a Bob Ross painting. We chose a random mountain scene from the Joy of Painting series and followed along. This is really fun and I encourage you to also paint-a-long with Bob Ross at least once in your life.

The Joy of Painting episodes make it easy to decide what paint to use. The paint color names run across the bottom of the screen at the beginning of each episode. You can find a lot of Joy of Painting episodes to choose from on YouTube! Below you will see our materials list, setup, and some process shots.

WHAT WE USED:

  • Oil Paint
  • Canvas
  • Paintbrushes
  • Turpenoid / Paint thinner
  • Paper towels
  • Bob Ross episode and TV
  • Easel (optional)
  • Smock (recommended)
  • A well-ventilated area

PROCESS:

Process shots below.

Putting on that base coat of liquid white.
Added in the mountains! Bob makes this look effortless.
Added in the second set of mountains.
Close-up of my painting after the forest was added in.
Finished! That cabin was the hardest part of the painting. Mine (left), Dad’s (right)

Have you ever painted along with a Bob Ross episode? If you haven’t do you think you will one day? Let me know below in the comments!

Lastly, remember these words of wisdom from the legend himself:

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

— Bob Ross

Happy Painting,

Laura

Quick Book Review: The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

Title: The Black Echo

Author: Michael Connelly

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Date finished: 12/17/2018

Recommend for: Fans of the mystery thriller genre that can’t get enough of that loner-cop type

Short Review: Sometimes with this genre and the first book in a series the story takes a while to build and the action doesn’t start until halfway through the book. Not this novel, right away you are at the murder scene where detective Harry Bosch recognizes the victim as a Vietnam War comrade.

As a reader you re-live some of Bosch’s darkest days fighting in the Vietnam tunnel system. I learned quite a bit about the Vietnam war from this book. I had no idea that some combat took place underground in a tunnel system throughout the jungle. My claustrophobia started to kick in during some scenes. This book made me want to research the Vietnam war a bit more. You can tell Connelly put a lot of research into this book to create a believable and vivid back story

As for the police story itself, it’s your basic loner cop story. All the typical tropes are met: loner cop, sordid past, does his own thing no matter what the chief says, gets close to a female in the story, the relationship ends badly. It’s what you would expect and sometimes that’s a good thing if you are in the mood for it. If you are looking for something more unique, you might want to skip this book.

I knew there was going to be a twist at the end (normally always is one…), but I didn’t see part of this twist coming. It was a satisfying ending and I’ll continue on with this series.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Did you enjoy this book?
  2. Did you learn anything new about the Vietnam war?
  3. Were you surprised by the antagonist?
  4. Will you read any more books by Michael Connelly?

My Rating Scale:

5 stars – Can’t stop, won’t stop thinking about this book

4 stars – Deeply enjoyed

3 stars – Meh, it was fine

2 stars – Didn’t give me anything to relate to or a world I wanted to be a part of

1 star – This is just the worst and NOT for me

“To Be Read” Tower Progress: 129 books remaining

Let me know what you thought about the book in the comments below and hangout with me on Goodreads 🙂

Till next time bookworms,

– Laura

Quick Book Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Title: First Grave on the Right

Author: Darynda Jones

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Date finished: 1/6/2019

Recommend for: Supernatural romance with a hint of private investigation

Short Review: There aren’t many grim reaper books out there. At least, not too many that I’ve seen, especially not in the romance or mystery genre. From that aspect it was a fun, different read than what I’m used to. The protagonist, Charley Davidson, was a badass female character and reminded me a lot of early Anita Blake from the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Especially Charley’s use of sarcasm, the amount of times through out the book she takes physical abuse, and how much she cares about helping others.

The story itself was great and I enjoyed, not just the mystery private investigator aspect, but also showing how different people, alive or dead, deal with grief. The romance angle is what didn’t do it for me. I wasn’t into the mystery man and after his identity was revealed, I was less into their relationship. I mean really, how is that going to work. If you enjoy supernatural romance then give this book a shot.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which angle of the book did you enjoy more – romance or mystery?
  2. Was the plot twist satisfying?
  3. Did you predict who the mysterious man was?
  4. Will you continue on with the series?

My Rating Scale:

5 stars – Can’t stop, won’t stop thinking about this book

4 stars – Deeply enjoyed

3 stars – Meh, it was fine

2 stars – Didn’t give me anything to relate to or a world I wanted to be a part of

1 star – This is just the worst and NOT for me

“To Be Read” Tower Progress: 130 books remaining

Let me know what you thought about the book in the comments below and hangout with me on Goodreads 🙂

Till next time bookworms,

– Laura

Quick Book Review: Mort by Terry Pratchett

Title: Mort

Author: Terry Pratchett

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Date finished: 12/3/2018

Recommend for: Fantasy lovers with a taste for quirky worlds

Short Review: I’m fairly new to the Discworld series. After I read the first book, The Color of Magic, I was excited to see the Grim Reaper had some of his own spin off books. His sarcasm was the best thing about The Color of Magic.

In this book, Mort is given a job offer by the Grim Reaper to become his apprentice. In typical Pratchett style this novel is off and running into the quirky reality of Discworld. You learn a lot about the Grim Reaper in this book, like the fact he has a daughter, is an over-protective father, and just wants a break from his job to go on a fishing trip.

I really enjoyed how this book wrapped up and I’ll continue on with this series. I recommend for people who enjoy quirky, clever storytelling.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Was reaper a good profession for Mort?
  2. Did the room of hour glasses remind you of any other famous literary scenes?
  3. Were you satisfied with the ending?
  4. If you were in Mort’s shoes would you have accepted this particular job offer?

My Rating Scale:

5 stars – Can’t stop, won’t stop thinking about this book

4 stars – Deeply enjoyed

3 stars – Meh, it was fine

2 stars – Didn’t give me anything to relate to or a world I wanted to be a part of

1 star – This is just the worst and NOT for me

“To Be Read” Tower Progress: 131 books remaining

Let me know what you thought about the book in the comments below and hangout with me on Goodreads 🙂

Till next time bookworms,

– Laura

Quick Book Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Date Finished: 10/10/2018

Recommend For: Fantasy enthusiasts who enjoy multidimensional characters

Short Review: I don’t even know where to begin with this review. I loved the first book and was hesitant that a second (and last book in the duology) could live up to the first book. I was so wrong to have doubted Bardugo. This book was just as fantastic and action-packed as the first.

This book picks up exactly where the previous book, Six of Crows, ended. Without spoiling the whole book just know the characters are really what make this novel amazing. They are complex characters, all having their own sordid pasts, which affects how they behave in their current situations. I love a well-constructed fantasy world, but it always goes back to the strength and complexity of the characters that leaves me giving a book 5 stars.

The world building is also on par, and many times I found myself wondering what Grisha power I would want if I lived in this universe. The book just draws you in and you can’t help but feel like you are experiencing everything alongside the characters. I could go on and on about this book, but since this is a “quick book review” all I’ll say is – please give this book a try, you won’t be disappointed if you are a fan of young adult fantasy novels.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which character did you most relate to?
  2. How did this book compare to the first in the series?
  3. Were you satisfied with the ending of this series?
  4. If you had Grisha powers, which would they be and why?

My Rating Scale:

5 stars – Can’t stop, won’t stop thinking about this book

4 stars – Deeply enjoyed

3 stars – Meh, it was fine

2 stars – Didn’t give me anything to relate to or a world I wanted to be a part of

1 star – This is just the worst and NOT for me

“To Be Read” Tower Progress: 132 books remaining

Let me know what you thought about the book in the comments below and hangout with me on Goodreads 🙂

Till next time bookworms,

– Laura

Quick Book Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

Title: The Passage

Author: Justin Cronin

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Date finished: 10/1/2018

Recommend for: Dystopian fans who enjoy a sprinkle of the living dead

Quick Review: I heard nothing but rave reviews of this book and decided to take a chance on it. The book is broken up into two different sections – the first, where you are introduced to Amy, the quiet child with “abilities” and the second part of the book takes place hundreds of years later in a dystopian world with basically all new characters.

The first part of the book was my jam – supernatural creatures, physic abilities, government conspiracies, and a good FBI agent just trying to do what’s right even if that means being thrown out of the Bureau. In this section, I fell for FBI agent Wolgast and his paternal love for Amy melted my heart. I could have read 500 more pages of there survival journey. Unfortunately, this was only a quarter of the book.

The last three quarters of the novel you are placed in the aftermath of the failed government experiment. There is a whole new cast of characters, with a few that lingered from the first section. The real focus of this section is how to keep your tribe surviving in a time where vampires run rampant. Sounds cool, right? It wasn’t for me. It was well written and I never thought of putting the book down, forever unfinished, but the story just didn’t grab me. The characters were a bit annoying and at some points I was hoping the vampires would maul my least favorite characters. I’m sure there was also a lot of symbolism that was lost on me or I didn’t care to read into.

I’m not going to continue with the series. If you do like survival tales and vampires then by all means, give this series a chance.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Which section of the book was your favorite, modern day or the dystopia?
  2. Do you think you could survive this dystopian world?
  3. What character was most relate-able?
  4. Will you continue on with the series, why or why not?

My Rating Scale:

5 stars – Can’t stop, won’t stop thinking about this book

4 stars – Deeply enjoyed

3 stars – Meh, it was fine

2 stars – Didn’t give me anything to relate to or a world I wanted to be a part of

1 star – This is just the worst and NOT for me

“To Be Read” Tower Progress: 133 books remaining

Let me know what you thought about the book in the comments below and hangout with me on Goodreads 🙂

Till next time bookworms,

– Laura