Book Review

Paper Girls, Vol. 1

Paper Girls, Vol. 1Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson
Series: Paper Girls #1
Published by Image Comics on April 5th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Graphic Novel
Pages: 144
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Saga, Vol. 1

In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.
Collects Paper Girls #1-5.

I absolutely adore Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga series and decided to give Paper Girls a chance. While I expected the book to begin slowly for some reason, punches of action occur almost instantly. The story centers around, you guessed it – paper girls – coming of age in the late ’80s.

My favorite of the girl gang is MacKenzie Coyle, a rebel with a cause, made even more mysterious by being a cigarette smoker, even though she’s a teen. MacKenzie and company become pals with Erin, a younger girl new to the paper route circuit.

The best part of this story is that it is nothing like I anticipated – it exceeded all of my lowly expectations. A mystery begins to unfurl almost immediately, with the girls racing against time to seemingly save the world.

The paper girls definitely experience a great deal of trauma in this tale as a result of sudden changes in the world the morning after Halloween. The girls are met with danger as well as potential allies in this set-in-the-past-but-futuristic-at-the-same-time graphic novel.

The muted colors of the illustrations didn’t blow me away, but as I made my way through Paper Girls, I realized the color scheme fits with the time period in which the story is set.

Needless to say, I quickly fell in love with each character, even the ones who only stick around for a short time, as well as with the story – it has an excellent concept that is brilliantly executed. I can’t wait to get my eyes on volume two!

Love, Maggie

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Top Ten Tuesday

Literary Lovebirds

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! In honor of the day of love, Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is highlighting readers’ favorite ships, OTPs – all love, all the time! Here are my all-time favorite literary lovebirds!

The List

Buttercup and Westley from William Goldman’s gorgeous The Princess Bride are an absolutely magical couple, ruled by ‘twoo love.’ The lengths Westley goes to to save his beloved Buttercup make my heart melt every time.

Anna Karenina and Count Vronksy of the Russian classic Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy are a pair in forbidden love, made more difficult to bear due to the society in which they live. Although terribly tragic, Anna and Count Vronsky’s tale is beautiful

I fell in love with Tessa Gray & Will Herondale being in love when I read Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel. I adore that the couple’s romance is a slow burn and it doesn’t hurt that Will is gorgeous in my mind!

Zia Rashid and Carter Kane from Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series are precious together. I’m currently reading the second book in the Kane series, The Throne of Fire, and Carter’s dedication to finding his missing love is incredible.

Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson of Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew Mystery Stories are a pair of wholesome sweethearts. Their courting-type relationship is the kind I’d like my boys to have when they hit high school. However, I do realize it’s the 21st century!

Karou and Akiva make another gorgeous, literally and figuratively, couple. I met these two while reading Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone and look forward to discovering exactly where their destined love goes in the remaining books in Taylor’s trilogy.

Love, Maggie

Stacking the Shelves

Saga Saturday

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves, hosted by the lovely Tynga’s Reviews! I enjoyed participating in this weekly meme with my former blog and have returned to the fold after a long absence. The purpose of the meme is to showcase all the wonderful bookish goodies one has received throughout a given week.

Here’s my small haul for the week of February 5 through February 11.

I finally read Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga, Vol. 1 in January and it’s safe to say that I’m now obsessed with the graphic series. Last week, I purchased volumes two and three. Well, this week, I finished out the series with books four, five, and six! I already can’t wait for volume seven’s release on April 4!

Needless to say, I’m ecstatic to have each Saga volume that’s been released! I’d love to preorder volume seven, but I’m so bad to forget that Amazon doesn’t charge my card until shipment occurs, so I’ll wait…impatiently…

My two-year-old is obsessed with Curious George, so I got Curious George Tool Time by H.A. Rey for him. I’m SO glad my baby boy loves books and reading already! 😀

As for ARCs, I was beyond flabbergasted when I received an invitation from the publisher to read Roshani Chokshi’s fabulous follow-up to The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes! I was lucky to gain  access to the title because I was approved on NetGalley to read the first in the series. I’m SO excited for this sequel!

Love, Maggie

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The Reread = Never Been There

TGIF! 😀 Welcome to Feature and Follow Friday, hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee! The weekly meme features a question and answer format, with a new prompt each Friday. In addition, Feature and Follow Friday gives bloggers a means of promoting their work as well as the chance to discover new blogs.

The Prompt

What book do you reread the most? [courtesy of Megan @ Love, Literature, Art, and Reason]

The Answer

I have NEVER reread a book, unless you count Beowulf, which was assigned in both high school and college. I don’t think it counts as an official reread though – I just pretended to read it in my college English class, as I hated it in high school.

I would love to reread the Harry Potter books! I recently got J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone on audio and I’m SO damn excited to listen! Plus, now that Goodreads has added the reread option, I have extra incentive, as the redo will count toward my reading goal for the year.

Speaking of audiobooks, the Shakespearean plays have come very highly recommended, especially those featuring full casts. I totally want to get my ears on my favorites of the classic playwright’s works!

How to Follow The Caramel Files

If you’d like to follow along, feel free to do so in any way you choose! Social media links are located in the footer and there’s always the classic email follow! 😀

P.S. If you do follow my blog, please drop me a little note in the comments so I can follow back!

Love, Maggie


P.P.S. Thank you so very much to the Feature and Follow hosts for choosing moi as the featured blogger this week! Happy dance! 😀

Book Review

The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched QueenThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 342
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

I hardly know where to begin except by saying OMG, I’m SO grateful and lucky to have had the chance to read and review Roshani Chokshi’s beautiful tale, The Star-Touched Queen, prior to its release thanks to the publisher and NetGalley!

It’s going to be tough to review the story steeped in Indian mythology while avoiding the temptation to add tons of spoilers! However, have no fear: this will be a spoiler-free review!

I was immediately sucked into the pages of Chokshi’s debut. Chokshi’s development of her characters, especially those of protagonist Maya and the mysterious Amar, goes deep; I felt as though I was right alongside Maya throughout her adventures and challenges.

The Star-Touched Queen features a multitude of fabulous twists and turns; just when I thought I had figured out the secrets of Maya’s world and the direction her story would take, I was quickly proven wrong, which made me very happy, as I love being surprised by novels, as opposed to figuring out the ending before finishing my reading.

The book is sprinkled with awesome quotes, most stated by Maya. My favorite of her sayings being, “I’d rather spread ideas than legs.” All I could think was, “Go, girl!”

Maya is the epitome of someone who craves freedom to make her own choices while at the same time remaining tethered to her loved ones and the life she knows.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the story is the fact that Maya is ‘cursed’ by the stars: her horoscope, which seems to doom her to a life filled with suspicion, sacrifice, and danger.

Typically, some romances in novels drive me nuts, as there is generally so much focus on physical attraction, etc. Chokshi’s romance between Maya and the elusive, secretive Amar is a nice slow burn, which centers on destiny and fate.

Throughout the book, Maya’s beliefs are continuously being tested, as is her basic instinct to place absolute trust in others. In addition, Maya is haunted by a mysterious voice, which torments her with riddles and coerces her to explore a new world and uncover its many secrets.

I especially enjoyed the cattiness of the women of the Raja’s harem, mainly that of Dhina, who verbally abuses Maya every chance she gets prior to Maya’s transition into a new, mysterious life, seemingly written in the stars.

Love, Maggie

Blogging Challenge

[LOVE]ly Comments

I The Comment Challenge hosted by Lonna at FLYLef and Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense! For the February installment of the winter 2017 challenge segment, I’ve been paired with Cassidy of Quartzfeather!

I’m excited to share the love on Cassidy’s blog and support her in her blogging endeavors! 😀

Love, Maggie

Stacking the Shelves

Get Graphic

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves, hosted by the lovely Tynga’s Reviews! I enjoyed participating in this weekly meme with my former blog and have returned to the fold after a long absence. The purpose of the meme is to showcase all the wonderful bookish goodies one has received throughout a given week.

Here’s my homage to the week of January 29 – February 4!

I’ve had a big time haunting Amazon, both for physical and e-books this week. For my Kindle, I purchased A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas and The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West. I am so excited for both of these books! 😀 I finally got around to reading A Court of Thorns and Roses in January and adored every word. I’m dying to know what’s up next for Feyre!

Kasie West is a new-to-me author whose work seems to come highly touted. I have a good feeling that I will enjoy my first taste of West’s writing, but I’m kind of nervous, as romantic cuteness isn’t usually my thing…I figured I should branch out a little more with my book choices this year.

I excitedly renewed my Audible membership today! So, I’m in the market for audiobook recommendations! 😀 Any genre is acceptable to me, just let me know of a book you think is amazing!

As for physical books, I ordered three graphic novels yesterday. I can’t wait for them to hit my mailbox Monday! I seriously loved Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and quite naturally got Paper Girls, Vol. 2.

I also decided that Monstress, Vol. 1 by Marjorie M. Liu looks pretty damn good! Continuing my graphic novel kick, I topped off my order with Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick.

That wraps up my week in bookish buys! How was your week in books? I certainly hope it was excellent! 😀

Love, Maggie

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Groundhog Day Special

TGIF! 😀 Welcome to Feature and Follow Friday, hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee! The weekly meme features a question and answer format, with a new prompt each Friday. In addition, Feature and Follow Friday gives bloggers a means of promoting their work as well as the chance to discover new blogs.

The Prompt

Groundhog Day! What book or scene from a book could you live in and have it on “repeat”?

The Answer

If I could live in any bookish scene on repeat, I would have to choose to fly Falcor with Atreyu in the beautiful The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I admit that Ende’s book is one I haven’t actually read, but I have totally seen the movie adaptation 1000 times! 😀

I adore Falcor (who doesn’t?) and Atreyu’s adventure is an epic one that I certainly wouldn’t mind joining in on. The extended scene in which Atreyu and Falcor have fun in the sky is among my favorites ever. I’ve always been in awe of Falcor and his sweet nature. I’d definitely fight Atreyu for him…

How to Follow The Caramel Files

If you’d like to follow along, feel free to do so in any way you choose! Social media links are located in the footer and there’s always the classic email follow! 😀

P.S. If you do follow my blog, please drop me a little note in the comments so I can follow back!

Love, Maggie

Book Review

The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the GiftsThe Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Published by Orbit on June 19th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Horror
Pages: 460
Format: ebook
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy at The Book Depository
Goodreads

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.

I’m kind of at a loss for words about this one. I dove into the book head first, expecting nothing, as I hadn’t read the summary; therefore, I knew nothing about it besides the title, which made the story seem like it would be cool.

The Girl with All the Gifts started out sucking me in; I couldn’t get enough of the story of young Melanie’s plight and had fun guessing to myself just what condition plagues the girl, as she is sequestered to a cell in a research facility, where other children like Melanie inhabit cells identical to hers, save for rotating artwork on the walls.

I was absolutely fascinated, that is until I discovered the condition from which Melanie suffers – she’s a highly intelligent child zombie being intensely researched by a doctor who chooses children in the facility to ‘study’. The primary doctor obviously gets a rush out of her disgusting ‘work’.

All of the above kept me interested; the relationship between Melanie and the institution’s teacher, Helen Justineau, got tired after a while and started to get on my nerves, which was too bad for me because the relationship between instructor and pupil is central to the book’s plot.

I felt like The Girl with All the Gifts was too long, at over 400 pages. I feel like Carey (a pen name for a well-known British writer) could have wrapped up the book in around 250 pages; the words stretched in front of me like an endless desert highway – no end in sight.

I finally started skimming the book after making it about 150 pages in. As I expected, the remainder of the tale was predictable, drawn out, and, quite frankly, boring.

I wanted to love The Girl with All the Gifts so badly, which is probably why I’m so disappointed.

The bottom line is that the book began very promisingly, with an awesome basis for a story line. Unfortunately, the borderline weird connection between Miss Justineau and Melanie turned me off very much; it was predictable – with Miss Justineau and Melanie simultaneously ‘saving’ each other in a symbiotic relationship.

Love, Maggie

Top Ten Tuesday

Picture it…

Top Ten Tuesday is one of my favorite memes ever! Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, TTT involves listing books, etc. based on the week’s topic. This week I’m highlighting my all-time favorite children’s picture books.

The List

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown – I have fond memories of my mom reading this book to my brother and me at bedtime. The love the mommy bunny has for her baby bunny is comforting and precious.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – This is another tale I loved to listen to as I slipped into dreamland. The full-page illustrations are adorable, as is the story – perfect for bedtime!

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – I can totally identify with this story, as I have been attached to MANY stuffed animals and generally assigned feelings to them anyway! I have a special Valentine’s Day edition Eeyore that I got at The Disney Store back in 2003. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of cuddling with a plushie…

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats – Winner of the 1963 Caldecott Medal, The Snowy Day is another story I recall being read to me as I lay in bed. I love the sense of wonder possessed by the little boy central to the book.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs – I did not realize The Snowman was a book until I recently found and bought it for my sons’ library. My brother and I grew up watching the VHS version at all times. While it’s one of my favorite stories, I could cry just thinking of the ending.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – This precious picture book is almost too cute for words! It’s a book I bought for my boys and my oldest son loves it – the illustrations and story are terrific and so much fun!

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish – I remember when I discovered I had been mispronouncing the title character’s name until my grade school librarian began reading the Amelia Bedelia books to my class. Oops!

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag – A lifelong cat lover, how could I not include Millions of Cats? Another book eliciting happy childhood memories, I remember wishing that I in fact had millions of cats myself!

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson – About a witch and featuring fantastic rhymes, Room on a Broom is loved by my son and, of course, got chewed up a bit by one of our dogs. Oh, well. At least the book looks as well-loved as it is!

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen – I’ve always loved fictional characters with poor attitudes and the title fish is quite naturally loved by me. 😀

Love, Maggie

Sporadic Update

January = Reading Rainbow

Hello, hello! 😀 Welcome to the inaugural edition of Sporadic Update! While I hope to post an update at least once near the end of each month, I make no promises to keep to a schedule, hence ‘sporadic’! Sporadic Update was inspired by The Sunday Post meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 😀

Sweet Reads

For the first time EVER, I’m ahead of my Goodreads challenge goal! Yay, me! 😀 I pledged to read 40 books this year and I’m three ahead, as I’ve read six books thus far this month. It’s so nice being a step ahead – I’ve got a nice cushion to take a reading break if necessary and still comfortably meet my goal.

Four of the books I’ve read this year were given either four or five stars by moi. My five star reads were both of the Brian K. Vaughan graphic novels I read –  Saga, Vol. 1 and Paper Girls, Vol. 1. I’m basically obsessed with Vaughan’s work now and with graphic novels!

My four star reads were A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and Leah Remini’s eye-opening memoir Troublemaker. The sole reason I couldn’t give ACOTAR five stars is that Maas used some writing elements that aggravated me, other than that, the story is AMAZING!

Troublemaker, about Remini’s nearly lifelong experience as a Scientologist, was an awesome, educational, and entertaining read. The best part is that Remini discusses Tom Cruise’s role in the religion as well as her nightmare trip to attend his European wedding to Katie Holmes!

Sour Reads

Unfortunately, there were two books I read in January that just weren’t quite my cup of tea. Franklin W. Dixon’s The Tower Treasure, the first in The Hardy Boys series, just got on my nerves. I thought I’d love it, as I ADORE Nancy Drew. Sadly, this was not the case. I gave it two stars.

January’s other two star book was Red Winter by Annette Marie. I was really into this book until I got about 30% through it. I was so interested in the Japanese mythology-based tale and then the story just got goofy and didn’t go where I had hoped. Le sigh.

Welcome to My Library!

In January, I obviously only obtained graphic novels! I’m so tickled to have broken into the graphic novel/comics genre at last! 😀 All by Vaughan, Paper Girls, Vol. 1, Saga, Vol. 2, and Saga, Vol. 3 found their way into my mailbox. 😀

For my Kindle, I got Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None. I’ve never read Christie’s work for some odd reason and I’m excited to start! I’m really looking forward to reading the Hercule Poirot tales as well.

From Kindle Unlimited, I borrowed Red Winter, Figment by Cameron Jace, and Elise Kova’s Air Awakens.

Challenging

I signed up for three year-long reading challenges this year, in addition to the ever constant Goodreads challenge. First is The Reading Assignment Challenge, hosted by Because Reading and Fantasy is More Fun. I decided to make it easy on myself for this particular challenge and pledged to read one assigned-to-myself book a month. I chose to read The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan this month, which I have yet to do! 😀

I’m really having fun with the 2017 Keyword Reading Challenge, hosted by My Soul Called Life! The chosen words for January were: Court, of, Fall, Way, Deep, and Thousand. Naturally, I chose to read the fabulous ACOTAR! So, I completed this challenge for January! 😀

Finally, I’m doing the Shelf Love Challenge, hosted by Second Run Reviews and chapterbreak.net. This challenge involves reading books from one’s own personal library. I’ve done well with loving my shelf this month; I’ve owned three of the books I’ve finished thus far for a while.

In Real Life

On the home front, things have been really good! *knock on wood* My precious, hardworking husband started training for his new job! 😀 I’m so very proud of him – he stuck it out in a local factory for six years and now he’s movin’ on up!

My itty baby turned four months old on the 17th. I can’t believe it’s been four whole months, but at the same time I can totally believe it! So much has happened since Hank’s September birth!

I just applied for a job as a school-based therapist in a neighboring county and I’m excited about the prospects! I wasn’t actively searching for a job, but an ad for this one popped into my email and I jumped on the chance – it seemingly fell in my lap!

I’m a social worker and children are my favorite people to work with, so fingers crossed! Plus, the job is listed as a 12-month position. It’s nice knowing that if I am able to secure the job, I will have the opportunity to move on in a year if it just doesn’t work out.

February Forecast

Book wise, I’m planning to read Marissa Meyer’s Heartless as my February pick for the Reading Assignment Challenge. I figured this one would be appropriate for Valentine’s Day! 😀 I have seen mixed reviews for Meyer’s retelling, but I’m hopeful!

As far as the Keyword Challenge, I’m at a loss as to which book to choose. If anyone has any suggestions for books with at least one of the following words (or a variation), I will ADORE YOU FOREVER!

  • and
  • Rose
  • Promise
  • Every
  • Deception
  • Blazing

I had the good fortune of obtaining an e-ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James, which publishes February 14, so I plan to read it before its release.

In Closing

I hope all of you have a FABULOUS week! 😀

Love, Maggie

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My Blogging Mantras

TGIF! 😀 Welcome to Feature and Follow Friday, hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee! The weekly meme features a question and answer format, with a new prompt each Friday. In addition, Feature and Follow Friday gives bloggers a means of promoting their work as well as the chance to discover new blogs.

The Prompt

What are some tips that help you with blogging?

The Answer

As a dabbler in blogging for the past two years (!), I’ve mainly learned how to curate my space by learning from my mistakes. I’ve also had to teach myself to go my own way – to really personalize my spot. Following are my top four tips:

  • ALWAYS contact other bloggers whose ideas may have sparked a creative burst within you. I learned this early in my blogging ‘career’ by starting a project on my former blog that was too similar to another blog’s established community. While the thought to contact the blogger whom I was inspired by crossed my mind, I neglected to do so and felt repercussions. I managed to apologize and mend fences, but I was absolutely mortified. Just remember to maintain open lines of communication with others in the blogging community.
  • Reading comments on my posts makes me so happy. Knowing that someone actually read my writing and thought enough about my words to leave a reply is validating. I do my best to blog hop and support other bloggers when I can. Even if I can’t actively visit other blogs as often as I like, I always reply to comments I receive, unless I overlook one. I feel that engaging readers in conversation is very important and uplifting to fellow bloggers.
  • I know a lot of bloggers give this next bit of advice, but it’s so true – blog for yourself first; remain true to your passions and don’t feel imperfect by comparing your blog to those of others. I have been guilty of feeling less than by comparing my follower counts to that of more established blogs, which I had to realize was silly. This is something that I have to remind myself often!
  • HAVE FUN!

How to Follow The Caramel Files

If you’d like to follow along, feel free to do so in any way you choose! Social media links are located in the footer and there’s always the classic email follow! 😀

P.S. If you do follow my blog, please drop me a little note in the comments so I can follow back!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Love, Maggie

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