Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Audiobook Tour: The Egg & I by Betty MacDonald - Review and Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the audiobook tour of The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald, hosted by The Audiobookworm.  Continue reading to learn about the book, see my review, discover the author and the audiobook narrator, tour wide giveaways, and the tour schedule.  Here we go!

Author: Betty MacDonald

Narrator: Heather Henderson

Length: 9 hours

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press⎮2015

Genre: Humor, Memoir

When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and relax. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and pitfall – through chaos and catastrophe – this indomitable family somehow, mercifully, never lost its sense of humor. A beloved literary treasure for more than half a century, Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I is a heartwarming and uproarious account of adventure and survival on the American frontier.


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Betty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, andThe Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year. The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald’s Ma and Pa Kettle characters. MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island). Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.


Heather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts. Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire; and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine. She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry. In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.  

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When I was first approached about taking part in this tour as I had had this audiobook on my tbr, I absolutely jumped at the chance to join in.  That's because I grew up watching the Ma and Pa Kettle movie series with my dad who is a huge fan of the characters.  I'm pretty sure I've seen all of the movies featuring them including The Egg and I, starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert as the MacDonalds and Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride as the MacDonald's neighbors, Ma and Pa Kettle. which is the film that kick started the spin off series featuring the Kettle family.  I didn't realize that The Egg and I was actually based on the real life Betty MacDonald's memoirs until quite recently, so of course I needed to find out exactly how the source material stacked up to the classic movies that I've been watching since I was little.  

As it turns out, I really enjoyed this memoir, especially Heather Henderson's narration.  I found myself much more interested in Betty MacDonald as a character than I expected to be.  A good deal of that is due to her wry and witty sense of humor which really comes across well in audio form.  The parts dealing with the chicks are some of my favorite scenes.  Also, like the movies Ma and Pa Kettle completely steal the show - Ma in particular.  Ma is a brash, no-nonsense woman who does the best she can for her family in their situation.  She gets plenty of laugh out loud moments.  Pa is also pretty great, and although he's described differently than the actor portraying the character I couldn't help but imagine him and his manner of speaking while listening to the audio.  Finally, I just wanted to mention that the only reason I gave this story four stars is due to the representation of Native Americans which is incredibly insensitive and stereotypical.  Overall, though, I'm glad I took the chance on this humorous memoir on audiobook.  I will definitely need to read MacDonald's other memoirs.  

By the way, I thought I would share one of my favorite one of my favorite scenes from Ma and Pa Kettle (1949), the first movie of the spin off series featuring the characters.  Warning: If you're bad at math, this probably won't help matters!


Nov. 20From the TBR Pile (Spotlight)  
Nov. 21Printcess (Review & Giveaway)
Nov. 22Book Journey (Review, Interview & Giveaway)
Nov. 23The Pursuit of Bookishness (Audio Excerpt, Spotlight & Giveaway)
Nov. 24A Page To Turn (Audio Excerpt & Spotlight)
Nov. 25:
Nov. 26He Said Books Or Me (Review)
Nov. 27Field of Bookish Dreams (Audio Excerpt, Spotlight & Giveaway)
Nov. 28Que Sera Sara (Spotlight & Giveaway)
Nov. 29Terri Luvs Books (Review)
Nov. 30Never Anyone Else (Review & Giveaway)
Dec. 1Dab of Darkness (Review, Interview & Giveaway)
Dec. 2Jorie Loves A Story (Review)
Dec. 3Ali The Dragon Slayer (Review & Giveaway)
Dec. 4Never 2 Many 2 Read (Review & Giveaway)
Dec. 5Jorie Loves A Story (Interview)
Dec. 6Terri Luvs Books (Interview & Giveaway)
Dec. 7Chapter Break (Interview)
Dec. 8Celtic Lady's Reviews (Spotlight)
Dec. 9Bound 4 Escape (Review & Giveaway)
Dec. 10 Avid Book Collector (Review, Spotlight & Giveaway)

ABW Promos3

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Starting Sparks: November Edition

Welcome back to the April edition of Starting Sparks, a monthly writing link-up hosted by Emily @ Ink, Inc. and Ashley G. @ [insert title here].  The idea behind it is to spark your creativity and write on a theme posted at the first of the month by the co-hosts.  You can write whatever you like be it a short story, a scene, a poem, a piece of dialogue, or simply an exploration of an idea.  This month the selected theme is the following:

Before I get on with it, I was originally planning on doing something entirely different with this prompt and come up with scene based on a classic nursery rhyme (which I will mention below).  Anyway, I've decided to talk about a book of nursery rhymes that I couldn't get enough of when I was a little kid and share some of my favorites from the book.

When I was from around age three to five or six The Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fisher Wright was my favorite book, and I still have a soft spot for it.  My dad used to read the nursery rhymes it features to me all of the time.  This book was originally released in 1916 and my edition is from 1984.  You can probably see just how well loved it's been.  Anyway, the nursery rhymes on the pages below were some of those that really made an impression on me, especially the ones with the cute illustrations.  Some of these are still fairly well known, but others not so much.  You know, I bet if you asked my dad about any of these right now, he could probably recite them from memory off the top of his head.  

"To Market" - I clearly remember this one being quite a hit with little me.  I'm pretty sure I loved it so much because I got to say "jiggety jig" and "jiggety jog"!  Also, growing up on a farm, I couldn't resist the illustration.

"Barber" - This one was especially ridiculous to me when I was little, from the text of the rhyme to the illustration.  And, I expect I didn't know what snuff was then.

"Solomon Grundy" - I actually used to dream about this one.  Sometimes, it even turned into a nightmare if I got to the end of the rhyme!

"Three Wise Men of Gotham" - Yeah, I dreamed about this one too... I expect things got pretty weird there!

"Heigh-Ho, The Carrion Crow" - This was one of the longer ones that I was obsessed with, but looking back on it now I probably didn't pay all that much attention to the events of the rhyme... This is the one that I was originally thinking of doing my scene on - after all, we're just left hanging on the fate of that poor sow!

"Jack Sprat" - This is firmly embedded in my memory, especially the full page illustration on the left.  Just look how cute that kitty is with the red bow around it's neck!

"Robin Hood and Little John" - I've always enjoyed the legends surrounding Robin Hood and this short nursery rhyme is no exception.

"Lock and Key" - Little me thought this one was absolutely hilarious - "don lock" and "don key" got me every single time!

"The Cat and the Fiddle" - A classic!  How could I not like this?  Plus, there's so much going on here that makes me want to know more.  So many elements could make intriguing little stories.

"Hot Boiled Beans" - I was a weird kid - I liked this just as much if not more than "The Cat and the Fiddle"... "Hot boiled beans and very good butter" - sure sounds tasty alright!

"The Little Moppet" - I really felt for that girl in the illustration...

"The Man in the Moon" - I'm still not a hundred percent sure of what "pease porridge" is to this day.  I mean, is it something like a very thick pea soup, or something altogether different?  Also, dad didn't rhyme "Norwich" with "porridge", so that probably threw me off, too.

"Bat, Bat" - Honestly, I was most likely hooked on this because it features bacon and cake!

If you made it this far, thanks very much for reading (and perhaps even commenting)!  What are some of your favorite nursery rhymes?

Top Ten Tuesday: Fairy Tale Retelling Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!  This weeks topic is a Holiday Gift Giving Guide freebie - mine will focus on must-read fairy tale retellings.  Here we go, in alphabetical order by title:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

The Dark Realm by Anthea Sharp

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Enchanted by Althea Kontis

The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Strings by David Estes

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Have you read any of the books on my "guide" this week?  Are there any others you would add?  What's on your gift giving guide this week?  As always, thanks very much for visiting my blog, and perhaps even commenting.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Music Monday: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let's share some songs we've been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.


Every Monday share one or two of songs you've been enjoying lately.  It doesn't have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites - just something you'd like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up by sharing your post's url.

Since this is the last week of Sci-Fi Month, which is hosted by Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow, I'm spotlighting three of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite Studio Ghibli movie soundtrack's, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984).  While I like the movie itself quite a bit, it isn't quite my favorite Miyazaki film, but the soundtrack is one of the best.  Below I have included the tracks for the Opening, To A Far Away Land, and Nausicaä's Glider.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lock In (Lock In #1) by John Scalzi - Review & Giveaway (INT)

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In the near future, a highly contagious virus, sweeps around the world. Most who catch it have flu-like symptoms, but an unlucky single percent of the population experience "lock in". Those with it are fully aware and awake, but unable to move or respond to stimulus in a way. Twenty-five years later, the world has adapted to meet the challenges of Haden's syndrome and two FBI agents, a rookie and a veteran, are on the case of what appears to be a Haden-related murder investigation. Their suspect is an "integrator", someone who can let the locked in use their bodies for a time, so that makes everything all the more complicated. As the agents begin to unravel the mystery, they begin to see that the real crime is much bigger than anyone could have ever expected.

Lock In is my first John Scalzi book. I finally decided to give his work a try after hearing so many great things. I'm glad I decided to take the plunge because his world-building, dialog, and sense of humor are right up my alley. I enjoyed discovering the differences between the real world and the his frightfully close version of the near future. This vision is quite unique and creative - I can't say that I've ever encountered a story quite like it before which is great in and of itself. As fascinating as the world is, my favorite aspect, however, is definitely getting to know his cast of characters - Chris Shane, a well-known Haden and, especially, his partner, Vann, a jaded FBI agent. I loved watching their working relationship develop and seeing them begin to trust one another. In the end, the only reason I ended up giving this only four stars rather than five is because it was a bit confusing to keep track of a few things and I wish that we could have seen more of the Agora, the virtual world made specifically for Hadens.

Overall, I highly recommend Lock In by John Scalzi to those who need a new sci-fi mystery to sink your teeth into. The novel has so much going for it from great characters, snappy dialogue, excellent world-building, and a pitch perfect sense of humor. This will certainly not be my only Scalzi novel!

I read this novel from November 22 - 26, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Now, the reason you're all here: a giveaway!  In honor of Sci-Fi Month, hosted by Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow, I'm giving away my paperback copy of Lock In by John Scalzi.  This giveaway is open internationally - it begins now and runs until 12:00A.M. on December 1st.  I will alert the winner via email and they will have 48 hours to respond or I will select another winner.  May the odds be ever in your favor!

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Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - Review

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When the next phase of BeiTech's assault reaches Heimdall Jump Station to wipe out the Kerenza survivors on the Hypatia, Hanna and Nik must defend their home even if it is one of the most boring space stations out there. Hanna, the daughter of the station's captain, and Nik, a member of a major crime family, must be ready to do whatever it takes to save their fellow residents from the BeiTech "auditing" team as well as from deadly alien predators. Plus, they have to make sure that the malfunctioning wormhole at the center of the station doesn't manage to rip the universe in two.

I don't know if I can adequately express just how hyped up I was for Gemina, the sequel of Illuminae, but aside from The Raven King this was my most anticipated release of the year. I'm happy to report that it lived up to the hype and that I absolutely loved it. It takes up pretty much immediately after the end of Illuminae, but instead of sticking with the Hypatia - the action moves to Jump Station Heimdall, the place the Hypatia is travelling to in an attempt to escape their pursuers. Now, of course, we're introduced to two new characters, Hanna and Nik, and both are quite a bit different from Kady and Ezra yet still fascinating and badass to follow over the course of the novel. I also particularly enjoyed seeing how Jump Station Heimdall operates after hearing about it in the previous novel. Like before, the twists and turns are stunning, and so is the format.

Overall, Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is a more than worthy sequel to the greatness of Illuminae. These two author are quickly becoming favorites. I can't wait to see how this twisty ride reaches it's sure to be thrilling conclusion! This series comes highly recommended from me so if you haven't started in on it already, what are you waiting for?!

I read this novel from November 11 - November 17, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Sunday Funday: Weekend Update, Book Haul, & Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I've had quite the week!  Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 3D, Thursday I got to see family and dine upon delicious foods on Thanksgiving, I got some great deals on Black Friday (including some books), saw the local youth ballet perform The Nutcracker on Saturday with some friends, and today I'm going to a Christmas parade and taking part in the downtown Christmas walk.  Let's just say, I've had a nice little vacation this holiday season.  Now, if we can just put Monday morning on hold...

Movie Review:

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If you haven't been able to guess, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was my most highly anticipated release of November and I was about as hyped up as possible for it.  I'm happy to say that I absolutely adored it.  It was a real treat to be back in the Wizarding World, and see how that world looks in the USA.  It's a bit different than Harry Potter and takes a bit of a darker turn than what I was expecting.  Eddie Redmayne is wonderful as our lead, Newt Scamander, and he brings a lot of heart to the story.  As for the other three main characters, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob, all of whom I loved getting to know, Jacob was my favorite of the group.  It was great getting to see a muggle, excuse me, no-maj, get in on the action.  May I just say, Credence was also quite fascinating - I was wondering who Ezra Miller's character was going to be.  As for the creatures, I particularly enjoyed seeing the niffler on the big screen - lots of fun there.  I really enjoy the HP musical themes - and the addition of jazz elements hit just the right notes.  I can't wait for the sequel - I just wanna be a wizard!

Book Haul:  I lucked out at Barnes & Noble on Black Friday when I picked up these three titles - with my coupons and membership discounts, I pretty much got one of these for free.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer - Signed copy!  This is one of my most anticipated reads of the season, so I have a lot of high hopes for it.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis - I love the fact that this local Ohio author is doing so well - I can't wait to see how her newest release turns out.

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff - Signed copy!  After all of the good things I've heard about this one, I couldn't pass it up.  Plus, it sounds exactly like something I'd love.

Murder of Crows (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop - I actually saw this a bit later at Meijer, but it was only $5 and in excellent conditions - I couldn't pass it up, especially after how much I enjoyed book one.

I hope everyone has had a great Thanksgiving weekend!  Have you seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them yet, or picked up any new books recently?  Thanks, as always, for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting!

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Lock In by John Scalzi + 50/50 Friday

Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.

I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.

This week I'm spotlighting my current read for Sci-Fi Month (hosted by Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow), Lock In (Lock In #1) by John Scalzi.  I've heard so many fantastic things about my fellow Ohioan's work and I'm glad that I'm finally getting around to my first by the author.  I'm not that far into it yet, but I'm already really enjoying his style.


Haden's syndrome is the name given to a set of continuing physical and mental conditions and disabilities initially brought on by "the Great Flu," the influenza-like global pandemic that resulted in the deaths of more than 400 million people worldwid, either through the initial flu-like symptoms, the secondary stage of meningitis-like cerebral and spinal inflammation, or through complications arising due to the third stage of the disease, which typically caused complete paralysis of the voluntary nervous system, resulting in "lock in" for its victims.


"Can you get a clearer image of Bell's hands?"

"Not really," Diaz said.  "I can blow it up, but it's a low-res feed.  It's got inherent limitations."

"Blow it up," Vann said.  Bell jerked and grew large, his hands racing toward us like a giant trying to play patty-cake.

"Shane," Vann said.  "Tell me what you see."

I looked at the hands for a couple of moments, not seeing whatever it was I was supposed to be seeing.  Then it occurred to me that not seeing a thing was what Vann was going for.

"No blood," I said.

This week I'm also taking part in a brand new linkup called 50/50 Friday, which is hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader and Laura @ Blue Eye Books.  Every week they'll have a new topic featuring two sides of the same coin - this week the topic is Best/ worst world an author has created.


The Wizarding World from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - How could I choose something else!


First Life (Everlife #1) by Gena Showalter - I really tried to like this, but I just couldn't get into it.  To much telling, and not nearly enough showing.