Ordinary Magic by Cameron Powell

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful mom! This memoir tells the story of a man, Cameron Powell, and his mom, Inge, who has cancer. Many of the passages come from his journal and his mother’s journal. Early in the book, they set off to walk the 500 mile Camino de Santiago, as a sort of play for forcing Inge’s cancer into remission. I really liked this part of the book- it’s inspirational, the descriptions of the Camino were bright and vivid and it sounded like a fantastic experience. That ends about halfway into the book and then it tells the story of what happened after walking the Camino, which is, unfortunately, a bit dull at times and also a lot more somber than the first section.
However, Cameron Powell is such a relatable guy, and his memoir is candid and poignant which makes up for the parts that start to get boring. This is a lyrical journey about the wonderful relationship between Cameron and Inge and the lovely journey that is life. And I quite want to walk the Camino de Santiago after reading it.

I was provided with an e-copy of this book via the author in exchange for my honest review.


The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!), and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker. 

Whisked away to his world–an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince–Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells…and the future she thought she wanted. 

The Enchanted Sonata is a beautiful book that blends The Nutcracker and the Pied Piper, perfect for the winter holiday time. The romance was very cute and realistic, and I love all of the characters. Clara was brave, funny, and relatable, and you really get to see her develop through the story from a lovesick little girl into a courageous, smart woman. The prince was very likable and always wanted to do the right thing. Even the antagonist is well developed with a clever backstory. 
The dialogue and humor were a bit dull, but the world building was amazing! I loved how it whisked you away to the vivid world of Imperia- from the forests to Polichinelle’s candy shop to the royal palace. I also really loved the way the author wrote about the music that was played in the book. A wonderful, lyrical book that I would recommend to any musician or lover of fairy tales.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exhange for my honest review.

Deseré by Maria McKenzie

Image result for desere maria mckenzie

Deseré tells the story of a young, beautiful slave girl living on a plantation in South Carolina. Her master has given her permission to marry a slave from a neighboring farm. But before this can happen, Masta Jeremy dies and his nephew inherits the plantation.

Anthony, the new owner, is immediately dazzled by Deseré. And so begins a whirlwind, dramatic romance.

Four stars. This book was a quick read and really interesting. Much of it was set in Paris (the rest in South Carolina), but all of the scenes were vividly described. It was obvious that the other really did her research about this period in the antebellum South, and I was able to learn a lot without the story sound like a history textbook. The author has such a beautiful writing style, and I loved the romance aspect of the book- though I do think it was a little fast to be realistic. Deseré is such a strong, brave character, and I liked handsome, charming Anthony and all of the other people as well, like Deseré’s friend Addie. The characters weren’t flat at all, with their own struggles and personal decisions to make. The climax was interesting- a bit strange, though- and I loved the ending. Overall, a beautiful, fast-paced story filled with romance and drama. I would definitely recommend this to any lover of historical romance.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. 

Favorite Books of February

I managed to read seventeen books in February (still don’t know how I did that).

Here are some favorites:

Image result for save the date morgan matsonSave the Date by Morgan Matson

Charlie’s sister is getting married and all of the siblings are coming back home for it, causing lots of drama and problems. This book is so funny and a really cute, lighthearted read! I really enjoyed meeting all of Charlie’s relatives and friends and seeing her amazing sibling relationships.

Image result for the immortalistsThe Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Four kids visit a woman in New York City who says she can predict the day they will die. This book follows their lives as they decide what to do with this information. Each sibling’s story was so interesting, and it was an interesting take on the question, “Would you like to know when you’re going to die?”

Image result for sourdough bookSourdough by Robin Sloan

I thought this book sounded a little weird when I first picked it up, but wow, it was amazing! Lois starts baking sourdough bread using a starter from her mysterious neighbors. This project takes her to a vibrant underground market where technology and culture intertwine. Such an imaginative book that kept me turning the pages!

Image result for the vanishing stairThe Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

This is the second book in the Truly Devious series (the first book was one of my favorites last year) and I was so excited for its release! This definitely lived up to my expectations. If you haven’t heard of this series, it’s about a girl who is trying to solve a kidnapping/murder at a boarding school, and I highly recommend it!

Image result for every note playedEvery Note Played by Lisa Genova

Every Note Played is a heartbreaking story about a famous pianist who has ALS. This book really opened my eyes to the harsh realities of living with this condition, and included some really interesting character dynamics- for example, the main character is a sort of horrible person that you don’t want to feel bad for.

Hope you guys are having a great start to 2019!



Fall 2018: Currently…

Hey guys! I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m getting back into the swing of things with a little fall update about me.

Here’s what I’m currently…

Image result for my plain jane

Reading: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

This is the second book in a series that tells fictionalized versions of the stories of famous Janes in history. I read the first book, My Lady Jane (about Lady Jane Grey), last year and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to start reading this book, a re-telling of Jane Eyre, where Jane can see ghosts and Charlotte (Brontë) wants to write a book about her.

Listening to: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella soundtrack (Play auditions are coming up for me, so wish me luck!!)

Gifting: Literary Book Gifts has the cutest T-shirts and bags for all the book lovers in your life. They have lots of really nice designs of book covers and other bookish items (one of my favorites is shown to the right). I’m giving a couple of these out as Christmas gifts this year to friends. And you can get 20% off your whole purchase with the promo code: THEBIBLIOPHILEOFBEAVERTON20

Watching: Riverdale- I’m really behind on this, but I’m enjoying it a lot!

Craving: Some apple cider donuts from a farm near my house. Fall went too quickly this year!

Wearing: Sweaters and leggings- it’s getting so cold outside!




Sleep, Merel, Sleep

sleepmerelsleep_cover-animatedSleep, Merel, Sleep by Silke Stein (Released on June 7th!)

Synopsis: Who wants to be awake forever?

Life has changed for eight-year-old Merel. Since the birth of her sick baby brother, her parents seem to have forgotten she exists. But when she finds a tiny silver violin in her bedroom rug, things take a turn for the worse.

Merel learns that her sleep has abandoned her and that she must embark on a perilous journey to recover it or stay awake forever. Together with her devoted toy sheep Roger, tired Merel sets out in search of Lullaby Grove. Before long, she finds herself haunted by a scary stranger.

Follow Merel into a surreal world. Meet a sleepy king with an obsession for feathers and a transparent old man on a night train going nowhere. Discover why the moonfish cry, why you should never walk across the Great Yawns ― and if poor Merel can escape her pursuer, win back her sleep, and realize what matters most in her life.

3.5 stars. This book was very abstract and weird, but quite interesting. It would be a great pick for middle-grade children who are about to become big brothers or sisters. Merel’s brother was just born, and Merel isn’t too pleased with him. Because he is sick, Merel’s parents never have time for her. One night, Merel’s sleep abandons her and she must go on a whimsical journey to find her “Sleep” and return his violin to him so that she can go to bed. Along the way, she meets friends and enemies and learns about what truly matters in her life.

I do wish that some things were explained a little more and that the transitions weren’t so odd and quick. It was a little like Alice in Wonderland, where the story is one nonsensical adventure after another, but it was still fun. Also, I wished that the ending wasn’t so abrupt, and didn’t leave so many loose ends untied. The last chapter or so confused me at first, because Merel went from one situation to another without explanation.

I liked how Silke Stein incorporated the issues of death of a loved one and the sickness of a premature sibling. It explains it in a way that children could understand, but adults can relate to.

The various characters were imaginative and interesting, and were one of the best parts of this book. Merel is relatable and brave. Though a bit unlikable at first (I mean, she threw enough tantrums that even her sleep abandoned her), she grew into a strong and smart little girl.

ARC provided by the author, Silke Stein, in exchange for my honest review.




The Electrical Menagerie & Giveaway!

39719906The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reader (Releases on June 9th!)

Synopsis: The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist, and engineer has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.

To save their show, Carthage & Huxley stake everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, the Menagerie’s bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians — but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.

Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.

4 stars. The Electrical Menagerie was a fantastical adventure reminiscent of The Greatest Showman and Caraval. It was a whimsical journey through the fame, danger, and magic of the show business on the Celestial Isles. I haven’t really been a fan of the steampunk genre in the past, but this book really changed my views on it. It was a fun, fast-paced read that got my attention right from the Prologue. I really love the writing style- it’s descriptive, it’s imaginative, and it makes you feel like you are right in the action. All of the plot twists caught me by surprise and the murder mystery side of the story had me interested and guessing, and the conclusion was thrilling and satisfying, leaving room for future stories but not a cliffhanger.

The book is filled with well-developed characters that you can easily relate to. They are well-thought out and have seemingly real emotions and thoughts. Carthage and Huxley, the main characters, are so different, yet their friendship is very real.

The world was also extremely well developed. I could imagine everything so well, but it wasn’t too wordy or dense. Floating islands, stars that orbit the planet, space trains, holopapers, and magical electricals.

I don’t really have much to complain about with this book. Perhaps some of the tricks and shows could have been explained just a little better, and the backstories of some of the minor characters could have been elaborated on just a little more, but other than that, there isn’t anything to complain about.

Amazing storytelling, fleshed-out characters, and a mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat- it makes for a fascinating tale and a series that I am looking forward to seeing more in the future!

Note: I was provided with a free advanced review copy of this book. This does not affect the content of my review.


Until June 13, you can enter to win a Celestial Isles Prize Pack from the author. This includes: “High Victorian” luxury playing cards, a handmade galaxy mug, a Science and Engineering themed notebook set, and a tin of Electrical Menagerie themed tea! (US only.) Click on this link and enter to win!