Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of those who celebrate.  I've been super busy leading up to the holidays, but now that Cybils season is over, things should be quieting down soon.  Look for new reviews to come soon!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Reverting back to Blogger Profile

Just wanted to give any readers who are following me using Google+ a heads up, that I'm reverting back to my old Blogger profile.  This is mainly because I don't have many followers on Google+ and my stats seemed to have dropped significantly since enabling it this summer.  Also, it bugs me that I cannot receive replies to my comments with the Google+ platform. 

Perhaps some day in the future I will enable it again, but for now, it's gone.  You can still +1 my pages/posts using the buttons at the bottom of each post if you would like to share my posts that way. 

Thanks for the continued support everyone!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Your funny for the day...

I'm busy sorting through Cybils books this week (and getting ready to move, again, although only across town this time) so I haven't had time to finish up the multiple reviews I've started lately, but I did come across this and it made me smile, so I had to share.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Cybils 2014 Nominations Open

Yesterday was October 1st, which for me means the beginning of another long Cybils season (not that I'm complaining :)  The Cybils are one of my favorite things to participate in each year, and I always love serving on the judging panel. 

However, we need your help in the meantime.  Now is the time to go and nominate all those wonderful kids and YA books you read this past year so that we can know the best of the best books to evaluate. 

All the details are over at the Cybils site.  Nominate away!  Nominations last until October 15th. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Time for Cybils 2014

Well, I've known about this for about a week now, but since it's been officially announced, I'm happy to share that I've once again been chosen to participate in the Cybils Awards.

If you're new to the blog, then you may have never heard of the Cybils before.  It's the Children's and Young Adult Literary Blogger Awards.  It's a grassroots award that started back in 2006, in an attempt to balance book awards for kids and teens book between the literary merit of the Newberry and Printz awards to a popularity contest award.  Thus, this is the first award that considers winners based on both literary accomplishment and "kid appeal".

I'll be back to joining the graphic novel committee this year, and I'm glad to see some new and familiar faces.  I wasn't sure I would be able to participate this year due to an anticipated fuzzy schedule around the holidays this year, but I'm glad that things have settled down enough that I can participate.

The fun for the Cybils starts October 1st, and you can find out more about them by visiting their website.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Introducing a New Rating System

In light of my 8th anniversary earlier this week, I've decided to implement a new feature I've been kicking around for awhile: a new rating system.

At the time I set up my blog, my out of 10 rating system was one that made the most sense to me, since I really don't like giving half stars on the 5 star scale that is common on Amazon and Goodreads reviews.  I was mostly trying to give an objective view of the book's merit overall, not necessarily how I felt about it.

Now I find my perspective about how I focus on the books I read is changing, and I really look first at how much I enjoyed the book, and then on how much merit it has.

Therefore, I am introducing a new system to how I rate reviews: the Leaf System.  Details about the ratings will be shown below and added to the About Ratings page of the blog.  Reviews completed before this date will still be show in the old style, so I don't expect to convert old reviews to the new system.

So here's the details on the new system.  Books will be given a rating from 1 to 5 leaves:

5 leaves: I Really Enjoyed It

These books are books that I would easily recommend to others and/or think about often.

4 leaves: I Liked It

These are books that are good, recommended, and worth reading, but have something missing that make them not worthy of 5 leaves.  These books are good, but probably not re-reads.

3 leaves: It Was Okay

These are books that are just okay, and have both good and bad qualities to them.  I don't regret reading these books, but am not necessarily excited about them.

2 leaves: I Didn't Like It, But You Might

These are books that that I did not enjoy, but you as a reader might like them more than I did.  This is the rating that I reserve for books where I can see the merit of a book, and how it might be enjoyable to a certain type of reader, but it just wasn't my thing.

1 leaf: Not Recommended

I expect these reviews will not show up here very often, just because if I didn't enjoy the book that much, I usually won't take the time to write a review for it.  But in the case that I do write a review for these books, that's what the 1 leaf rating is reserved for.  These are books that I do not recommend in any way.

In addition to a leaf rating, there are 3 additional "awards" a book can earn based on the following criteria:

The Gold Leaf Award

These are books that are rated 5 leaves and have something else about them that just makes them super spectacular, the best of the best.  A gold leaf award is similar to the old 10/10 rating.  These are books that probably will end up being on my Favorites list for awhile to come.

The Sprinkle Award

Sprinkles remind me of cupcakes, and like many cupcakes, these books are all sugar and fluff.  Not much substance there, but it was fun to consume it anyway.  The sprinkle award is granted to books that are not necessarily literary substantial or great, but more for pure entertainment purposes.

The Up All Night Award

This award is given to books that are what I like to call "compulsively readable"; those books you tear through, edge-of-your-seat suspense, can't put down, etc.  In the end, books with this award may only get a 3 leaf rating, but they definitely kept me going all night while I was in the middle of them.  

So there you have it, a (hopefully) simplified version of the rating system.  Or it seems simplified to me at least, so that's why I'm going to try it out for awhile.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Oh Yeah, Audrey!

This week's pick is something a little bit different for me, but for some reason I find it very intriguing:

Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw
About the Book (copy from "It’s 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany and Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffee in hand—just like Holly Golightly. As the cofounder of a successful Tumblr blog—Oh Yeah Audrey!—devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has traveled to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany’s; however, her plans are derailed when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the New York experience she’s always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, no matter where you go, you just end up finding yourself. 
Filled with hip and sparkling prose, Oh Yeah, Audrey! is as much a story of friendship as it is a love letter to New York, Audrey Hepburn, and the character she made famous: Holly Golightly."

I'll admit it, I've never actually seen Breakfast at Tiffany's, although I've wanted to for a long time.  Hmmm, maybe it's time to get around to doing that finally.  But I love the idea of this book, and it looks like a cute and fun read.  Straight up romance YA usually isn't my thing at all, but for some reason I am drawn to this one.

Oh Yeah, Audrey! will be released on October 14, 2014.

Currently available at in Hardcover 
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on

Monday, September 01, 2014

The Shady Glade Turns 8

Amazing how time passes sometimes.

8 years ago, I decided that doing a blog about the books I read might be a fun thing to do.  I had just gotten into the habit of writing reviews on Amazon, and I thought, hey, why not share it in other places too?  And thus this little project of mine was born.

There's been a lot of ups and downs with this over the years, especially the last few years with escalating health problems and things like jobs and moving getting in the way of blogging more than I wanted them to.  But I am trying to believe in looking towards the positive future from now, so I know I'll get through and continue this little hobby of mine.  :)

Here's to another 8 years!  Thanks for sharing it with me.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review: Ivy's Ever After

Ivy's Ever After by Dawn Lairamore

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that if there’s one book weakness I have, it’s fractured/retold fairy tales. So Ivy's Ever After looked right up my alley.

Ivy is the only child of the king of Ardendale (not to be confused with Arendelle of Frozen fame), and it’s her 14th birthday. While that may be a good thing for some girls, for Ivy it means that she’s about to be locked up in a tower. Ardendale is a kingdom on the edge of the dragon lands, and each area has a fragile peace held together by the so-called Dragon Treaty. And the treaty says that the princess of Ardendale must be imprisoned in the tower on her 14th birthday, guarded by a dragon, until a prince comes to kill the dragon and rescue her.

So despite Ivy's misgivings about the whole thing, she ends up in the tower, waiting for a prince and guarded by her dragon guard Eldridge. And while that sounds like a familiar tale, author Dawn Lairamore has a twist in store for readers. Because Ivy doesn't really want to be rescued, and Eldridge doesn't really want to be slain. In fact, he’s a peace-loving dragon who is quite unhappy about the situation. So when Ivy’s prince, Prince Romil shows up to rescue her, and it becomes clear that he’s really out to take over Ardendale, there’s only one thing a princess can do: escape. Now Ivy and Eldridge must embark on a quest to find Ivy’s fairy godmother and save the kingdom, before Prince Romil can achieve his plans.

As much as I love retold fairy tales, sometimes it’s nice to read a story that takes fairy tale elements and makes its own story, which is one of the thing that’s so nice about Ivy's Ever After. But in the end, it really is mostly a fluff book. Ivy’s characterization isn’t particularly deep, and most of the other characters pretty much are fueled by a single motivation. Although I loved the inventiveness of the quest that dragon and girl embark on, the plot really is definitely the focus on this one. Girls from 8-12 who love princess stories will definitely eat it up, and I enjoyed reading it, but it’s not particularly thought-provoking. This may make a good crossover book for boys as well, since the plot is not focused on romantic love, but more about the friendship that exists between Ivy and Eldridge.

However, despite the fluff aspect, it still is a good read, and a book that I enjoyed in the reading process. If you do like the book, make sure to also check out the sequel Ivy and the Meanstalk, which was also a fun, fluffy read.

Also, this is definitely a "don't judge a book by its cover" moment.  I'm not a fan of the artwork on the cover at all.

Shady Glade Rating: 6/10

Available at in Hardcover or Paperback 
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Sisters

Now that I'm trying to get back into the game, I think it's time for a Waiting on Wendesday post.  So today's pick is another one that's not so much "waiting" since the book was released yesterday.  But since I don't have it in my hands yet, I'm still excited about it...

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
About the Book (copy from "The companion to Raina Telgemeier's #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling and Eisner Award-winning graphic memoir, SMILE. 
Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all. 
Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado."
I had the great pleasure in reading the companion to this book, Smile, in 2010 when it was nominated for the Cybils awards.  It was one of the group's favorites, so it isn't a surprise that it made it to the finalist stage.  So seriously, if you haven't read Smile yet, you need to.  (And also Drama, which was done by the same author, but is unrelated to both Smile and Sisters).

So one of the best things about Smile is that it isn't fiction, but rather based on the author's memoirs which just goes to prove that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.  And it's one of the things I loved so much about that book.  This book sounds like more of the same, so I'm super excited to read it.

Sisters was released yesterday on August 26, 2014.

Available at in Paperback or Kindle 
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review: Doll Bones

Doll Bones by Holly Black, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Here's a book that has just the perfect amount of creepy for the upcoming Halloween season.

Zach has two friends he’s known forever, Poppy and Alice. Their favorite thing to do after school is to hang out at Poppy’s house and play with action figures and dolls, creating a fantastical world of adventure and magic with their alter egos. But when Zach's toys get thrown away by Zach's dad (who thinks it’s time for Zach to grow up), Zach is so hurt by the episode that he decides it’s easier to just stop being friends with Poppy and Alice.

Of course, that wouldn't be any fun if that was the end of the book. Despite the rift in their relationship, Alice and Poppy show up at Zach's house late one night with a doll. A creepy old china doll that Poppy's mom normally keeps locked up in the china cupboard. Poppy claims that’s she’s being haunted by the doll, a doll whose china body was supposedly made from the bones of a dead girl. With Poppy's urging, the three friends set out on a nighttime clandestine trip to discover the truth of the doll's creation, and hopefully bring the girl's spirit to its final rest.

From the cover you would think this is pure ghost story, but it’s really not. It's more about Zach's journey from childhood to being a teenager, and trying to navigate how his friendships are changing because of him growing up. There's also a great deal about Zach trying to process the relationship with his father, and especially dealing with the expectations his father has about how grown up he should be.

Of course, there's a ghost story aspect to it too. The history of the doll and the gruesome creation (that may or may not have actually happened) add a dash of creep factor and mystery to the otherwise (relatively) normal adventure of the friend’s journey and relationships. The haunting is more of the "is or isn't it" kind, so throughout the book you're never really quite sure if the doll is haunted or everything is just a strange set of coincidences. It adds the perfect prickling at your neck atmosphere to what would otherwise be a quite serious story line, while being safe enough that it should not scare younger readers.

Part mystery, part coming of age, part quest/adventure, part haunting (or not), Doll Bones is a great story for younger readers who enjoy more complex stories than straight fluff series books. Oh, and the creepy illustrations are a perfect addition to the story too.

Now, if you're in the mood for a story about a really haunted doll/dollhouse, you should also check out my review of Sweet Miss Honeywell’s Revenge.

Available at in Hardcover or Kindle
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Prince Tennyson

Prince Tennyson by Jenni James

The first thing you need to know about Prince Tennyson is that it’s an inspirational book about a 10-year-old’s search for God. So if that kind of thing isn’t your thing, this book isn’t for you. The other thing is that it will make you cry. Really. I totally mean that completely and 100%.

This is the story of a broken family and their search for healing, told through the eyes of ten-year-old Chelsea . Chelsea, her mom, and her brother and sister have just moved in with their grandmother in Phoenix after Chelsea’s mom suffers a mental breakdown. The breakdown is due to the death of Chelsea’s father, nicknamed Prince Tennyson, who died a year ago in military service in the Iraq war. Not only is Chelsea dealing with the issues of adjusting to a new school, new friends, and a new house, she is watching her mother become emotionally weaker and weaker as she struggles to deal with the aftermath of her husband’s death.

The turmoil in her life leads Chelsea on a quest to find the answer to one question: Is God real? And although her grandmother assures her He is, her mother is not. As Chelsea struggles to find her own answers, she seeks out church, the bible, asks her new friends, anything that can show her God is real. Because if heaven is not real, she’s afraid she will never get to see her dad again.

This is one of those books that’s kind of hard to explain for me. It’s not really plot driven much, which is weird for my usual taste, because I tend to like plot over characters in the books I pick up. But there’s something about Chelsea’s innocence and genuineness that kept me reading. I got to the point where I absolutely could not pick this book down.

I have to say first that it has been a long time since I have cried over a book. The last one I remember for sure is Where the Red Fern Grows. There might have been some other ones in there over the years, but I didn't even cry after the bloodbath in the later Harry Potter books. (Movies, on the other hand, will get me every time; I even cry for Hallmark commercials). So when I saw from other reviews that this would make you cry, I was skeptical. And I made it through most of the book without crying, that’s for sure. But the last 20% of the book or so had me sobbing in a way I haven’t cried for a book before (except for reading scriptures). Unfortunately I don’t want to go into too much detail about why, because it will completely spoil the ending. The emotional release I got from that crying, however did cause me to be extremely emotionally satisfied with the conclusion.

If I had one complaint about the book, it would be that at times Chelsea’s narration seemed a little juvenile for a 10-year-old. On the other hand, I don’t hang around with many 10-year-olds on a day to day basis, so if they were writing in a journal, maybe that is what it would sound like. I just noticed that it was a very different toned voice from the other middle grade books I've read recently.

I’m assuming if you've made it thus far into the review that you must be religious at least to some extent, so I think what really resonated with me as far as Chelsea’s story is that I think everyone who is religious has been through this journey at some point. We've all had to discover if whatever we are placing our faith in is real or not. And although this is a "kid’s book", it was thought-provoking for me as a young adult as well.

Shady Glade Rating: 9/10

Available at in Paperback or Kindle
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (The Olympians)

Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (Olympians) by George O'Connor

When I was growing up, we studied ancient civilizations for our 6th grade social studies class. Well, my 5th grade year, I was in a 5/6 combination class, so I got a “sneak peek” at a lot of the things the 6th graders learned. And I was entranced by their social studies lessons. But most of all, when they got to Ancient Greece, I fell in love with Greek myths. And that’s a love I've continued to this day. 

So when I first heard about George O'Connor Olympians graphic novel series a few years ago, I was really excited. Two of my favorite things, myths and graphic novels, it couldn't possibly go wrong. I've had the pleasure of reading two of previous books in the series, Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess and Hades: Lord of the Dead and enjoyed them both. O'Connor has a way of including both well-known and obscure points of the myths he chooses to highlight for his books, and is excellent at exploring the personalities behind each Greek god or goddess.

So when I saw that the newest version of the series was about Aphrodite, I knew I had to read it. Aphrodite has long been my favorite goddess, but other than the story about what led to the Trojan war, and the famous “born on sea foam” creation story, you don’t seem to hear much about her. I had high expectations for this book, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

There were three things I really enjoyed about this book. First of all, with a graphic novel, the artwork plays such an important part in the characterization and story line. I was surprised that O'Connor chose to make Aphrodite an exotic beauty with long darker hair, instead of the blond haired/blue eyed character you usually see in illustrations. It’s different, but really effective. It sets Aphrodite off as being different from the other Olympians, which really plays well into her creation story line.

Secondly, I really have to admire the way that O'Connor chooses the stories that he includes in his books. They are well researched, and as I mentioned before, he includes several less well known stories in his plot. And although each vignette is technically its own story, he weaves them together in a way that feels like a fluid continuous plot. He also fleshes out the reasons behind the characters’ actions, giving the gods and goddesses an element of humanity. In that regard, I especially liked the conversation Aphrodite has about her motivations for participating in the To the Fairest competition between her, Athena, and Hera that will lead up to the Trojan War.

The third thing I really like about this series is something that makes this book perfect for all ages. O'Connor includes extensive notes, broken down page by page, at the back of the book. This is great for those who aren't as familiar with Greek myths, since the notes shed lights on other myths that influence the stories in the book, as well as explaining some subtle nuances that aren't always obvious in a graphic novel format.

I have to say that Aphrodite: Goddess of Love has definitely been my favorite volume of the Olympians series that I've read so far, and I definitely look forward to reading more books in this series in the future.

Shady Glade Rating: 8/10

Available at in Hardcover or Paperback 
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on

Monday, August 11, 2014

Updates on things

Well, things are finally settling down here, so I suppose it's time to give everyone an update.

I am slowly adjusting to life in Mississippi.  We finally made the move okay, although it was SUPER crazy to get everything done.  I never want to move 2200 miles across country again.  Ugh.

Once we got here, it was a little while to settle down a bit, and then it was of course time to find a job.  Which, I've decided that I HATE job hunting!  But, I have finally been successful, and hope to hear more on that front soon.

So in the meantime, I haven't been doing too much reading since I'm getting adjusted to the much, much smaller library they have out here, and the fact that 95% of my book collection is still in storage in California.  Wah.  Thank goodness for Kindle books!

The other thing keeping me from reading has been the return of my other hobby:
Yes, cross stitch has been warring with my reading time again.  Or maybe just blogging time.  I get around the reading rule a bit by listening to audiobooks while I'm stitching, haha.  I am thinking about starting a stitching exclusive blog too, since I have all this free time, you know?  (yeah right).  But we'll see what happens with that later.

In other news, health issues are still around (stupid thyroid) and getting used to being hot all the time in addition to Mississippi humidity is interesting.  But I'm starting to learn to manage the symptoms better, and find I'm not as tired all the time as much as I used to be, so we're making progress.

So I hope to be getting back into the reviewing thing soon and getting things back to normal.  I don't know with my (hopefully) new work schedule how often I'll be able to post, but I at least want it to look like I'm not entirely missing!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Kindle Deals: Janette Rallison

I'm still busy moving, but this is a feature I've been wanting to start for awhile, and there's an opportunity to share some of my favorite books today, so here goes.

I'm really in love with my Kindle lately.  And one of the great things is that you can get books for a lot cheaper than you can print books.  And although I still love print books, sometimes my pocketbook wins the battle.

I know there's lots of sites out there that you can go to for Kindle Deals.  But as I come across them, I'm going to post some of my own here.  Today there are two titles from one of my favorite authors, Janette Rallison on sale for $1.99 each:

These books are especially great if you like fairy tales.  Don't know how long this deal will last (normally they're $6.99 each) so check them out while you can!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Where I Have Been (again)

So I really don't like doing lots of "where am I" posts, but due to my long absence this time, I think I owe all of you an explanation.

As longtime readers have noticed, I haven't posted anything since December.  Well, at the beginning of January, we had some changes that happened at work that really bummed me out and made me really upset, so that was kind of the beginning of things.

Then as January went on, I noticed that I was starting to feel more and more tired and just feeling generally sick all the time.  Went to the doctor, she said everything was fine, but lets run some blood work.  Which was followed up with more blood work in February, and then a referral to a specialist in March.

So long story short, I have been diagnosed with Graves' Disease.  It's an autoimmune disease where my body makes lots of thyroid hormone because it thinks I have an infection, but since I don't have an infection, the excess thyroid hormone attacks my body instead.  Its one of the reasons I have been feeling really tired for the last 6 months or more, since my body spends a lot of my energy attacking itself, and then trying to fight the attack off too.

Emotionally, that was very hard news to hear.  There is no cure for Graves' Disease, only ways to treat it, and all 3 options mean I might be on medication for the rest of my life.  Which when you're only in your mid 20s, it's hard to imagine being on multiple medications for the rest of your life.

So that was the second thing that shook up my world the past few months (1. change at work, 2. body out of whack).  Also, in the end of February, my grandfather died.  It was very unexpected, even though he was old, because he wasn't sick or anything.  So with my grandfather gone, my grandma is getting a little weird, so my Dad has been up at her place a lot trying to sort out the estate (my grandpa didn't believe in having a will, so it's a bit tangled). So that's thing number three.

And just to make another very long story short, there's been some other traumatic things going on in my family right now that I won't get into.  All very stressful, which doesn't help my energy level (especially with the thyroid problem).

Which brings me to the last reason for my absence...

In a few weeks I'm moving from California to Mississippi. Why?  The easiest way to answer that question is to say it was an answer to prayer and leave it at that.  I have an aunt who lives out there that will help us get back on our feet.  But we're leaving our California home of 20+ years, so it involves a LOT of packing, sorting, trashing, cleaning etc. and until Monday, I'm still working full-time during all of this.

So hopefully I will be back sometime in May, when we get out there and I get back on my feet.  In the meantime, I wish everyone happy reading, and you can still reach me at my normal email if you want to get in touch for any reason:  shadyglade AT mail DOT com