Mini Review: Ivy in Bloom by Vanita Oelschlager

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers of the Past by Vanita Oelschlager
Release date: April 1st, 2009
Publisher: Vanita Books
Genre: Poetry
Format: eBook

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Ivy in Bloom captures the weariness of a young girl tired of a long winter. “I stare out the window,” she says on the first spread of brown and gray, “looking for birds or flowers / or even warm showers / but I don’t see any such thing.” But then Spring comes when “March is out of breath snow melting to flowery waters and watery flowers spring rose from its wintry rest.” And Ivy’s “heart dances with daffodils.” As these words also dance across each spread, Ivy’s world erupts into a riot of color.

Ivy in Bloom introduces the poetry of Dickinson, Longfellow, Browning, Wordsworth, Frost and others. Excerpts from their writings, as seen through Ivy’s eyes, will open up poetry as a way for children to express their own feelings about the changing of seasons. This book includes longer excerpts and brief bios of each author.

I really enjoyed reading Ivy in Bloom. I probably wouldn’t have requested it on NetGalley because it was listed as being for children (a category I never check) if I didn’t need a spring themed book for the Spring Fling read-a-thon. However, it surprised me and it’s further proof that I shouldn’t judge a book based on its listed age group. Teenagers and adults can most definitely appreciate this sweet little book as well.

Ivy in Bloom was an adorable illustrated children’s poetry book that used excerpts from famous poems to highlight aspects of spring. The drawings were fantastic! The poetry snippets could have been longer in my opinion, but since it’s for children, it’s perfect because it provides them with a snapshot of some classic poems by authors such as Emily Dickinson and E.E. Cummings. It acts as a good introduction to poetry for children and even older people who haven’t explored the genre before.

I think the book is perfect for people of all ages, but especially children 4 years old and up. The blending of images and parts of poems was wonderfully done. It made me smile and want to pick up the full length poems of the authors featured. I highly recommend it! 🙂

About the Author

vanita_meetvanita_largeVanita Oelschlager is a wife, mother, grandmother, former teacher, current caregiver and, for almost ten years, author and poet. She was born and raised near Pittsburgh. She is a graduate of Mt. Union College in Alliance, Ohio, where she currently serves as a Trustee. She has also supported and helped Jim as he built Oak Associates, LTD. into a successful investment management firm.

Today, as an accomplished author, Vanita shares openly the experiences that she, Jim and their families have had with multiple sclerosis. She has likened MS to living with an elephant, one that won’t go away or be ignored. Together, she and Jim have found ways to live with this “elephant”, and to share some of the larger lessons about life they’ve learned through the disease.



The ABC Book Challenge | “C”

Book Blitz_I absolutely love everything about this challenge/tag! I saw this on Life of a Literary Nerd and was super excited to start it right away. Each week I’ll be posting another letter of the alphabet. So, be prepared for lots of posts in this series! 🙂

Memorable Titles That Start With “C”

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty is without a doubt one of my favourite books EVER! It’s truly fantasy at its best…complex world building, diverse characters, political intrigue, slow burn romance. YOU REALLY NEED TO READ IT! Cold Summer by Gwen Cole was a fantastic debut. If you like stories involving time travel, World War II and romance than this book is most definitely for you! And…Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Oh my poor, poor heart. I just adore everything about this book that when I think about it my heart explodes. Everything she writes is pure gold!

Books Starting With “C” On My TBR

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson has been on my TBR for over a year now. I have a copy downloaded onto my Kindle, I’m just not sure why I haven’t started it yet. Chainbreaker by Tara Sim is also another book I was crazy looking forward to reading but haven’t started yet. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman is an older book that I think I simply forgot about. I loved its predecessor Prisoner of Night and Fog, but got caught up in my rediscovery of fantasy books and it got left behind. I have a lot of reading to do!

Which memorable books that start with an “C” have you read? Have you read any of the books included above? What were your thoughts about them? ❤

Book Blitz: Between the Sea and Stars by Chantal Gadoury


Between the Sea and Stars Book CoverBetween the Sea and Stars by Chantal Gadoury
Release date: June 19th, 2018
Publisher: The Parliament House
Genres: Young adult, fantasy, romance


 A Legend, 

A Magical Shell 

A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More… 

Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea.

When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land.

With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner.

Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?


 “Tell me the legend of the Skagerrak queen.”

Javelin lifted a brow. “It’s hardly a legend, Lena,” he said. “It’s barely been a decade.” His voice was easy, unbothered by the possibility of being overheard. They were alone in this place. There was no need to whisper or scold or shush. Still, he groaned. “I’ve told that one a thousand times. You should know it by heart. Aren’t you tired of it yet?”

“Come on,” Lena urged him. “It’s my favorite. Tell me again.”

He rolled his eyes, but his mouth curved into a grin. “Fine.” His scooped a clam shell out of the sand and began sliding the sharp side of a rock against its grain. “The queen fell in love with a human man,” he began, his strong fingers holding the clam firmly in place. “Every full moon, she used her magic to travel ashore to see him.”

Lena settled onto her elbows, relishing the smooth sound of her brother’s voice as he recited the tale. A dreamy smile spread over her lips.

“I wonder how she met him,” she murmured softly, tilting her chin up and letting her lashes flutter shut.

“Likely the same way any merrow meets a human,” Javelin teased. “Shipwrecked during one of Poseidon’s storms. She should have drowned him immediately.”

“But she couldn’t!” Lena’s eyes pinged open. “For he was devilishly handsome, even soaking wet. The most handsome man she’d ever seen.”

“Devilish is right,” Javelin allowed. “Whether he was handsome or not, I’ll let your imagination decide.”

“Oh, he was.” Lena was smiling widely now. “He was, perhaps, the most beautiful human man in existence, and desperately enraptured by the queen. Each full moon, he waited for her, pacing the beach like a madman. And when she would emerge from the sea, he’d run hip-deep to meet her, unable to spend one more moment apart. He’d wrap his muscular arms around her—”

“For Poseidon’s sake, Lena.”

“And they’d dance together,” she pressed on, giggling, “as only humans can do. They’d dance and dance the hours away, bathed in starlight, humming songs into one another’s ears.”

“Until one night. . .” Javelin prompted smugly, and Lena rolled her eyes.

“Until one night,” she sighed, “something overcame the queen’s lover. Greed.”

“Human greed,” Javelin corrected. “Human nature. It was only a matter of time.”

She glared at him, but didn’t interrupt as he continued. This was the best and the worst part of the tale, and Javelin—damn him, was good at telling it. And he knew.

“That night, the queen swam toward the surface, impatient as ever she was. Ready to be rid of her tail. Ready to be human again. Her magic was a gift from Poseidon himself, contained in a delicate shell which she wore around her neck on a gold chain. It gave her the ability to explore the shore, and to control the storms and seas.”

Lena leaned in.

“As she swam, the queen began to change. Faint sobs faltered over her blue-scaled lips—cries of pain, lost to the rushing lull of the waves and the urgent beating of her fins. Swiftly, her tail separated into two perfectly shaped legs, and she rose out of the sea.”

“Don’t leave out the good parts,” Lena whispered. She knew her brother would skim over the romance just to annoy her.

Javelin gave her a pointed look. Then he grinned. “The moon was high that night,” he said, lowering his voice to a hush for effect. “The land was illuminated by an eerie, silver glow. Beneath its light, the queen’s new flesh was creamy and soft. Her hair became one with the wind, and her body shivered against a violent, uproarious breeze. Perhaps it was a warning from the gods, but the queen didn’t see it as such. The human lands were cold, suffering a new, frigid season, but her heart remained warm. She smiled, though her transition had been agony, when she heard the sound of water splashing and saw her beloved moving toward her through the shallows.

“She sang his name as he brushed chaste kisses against her neck, and relaxed fully against him, trusting him completely. She was blind to the wicked yearning which had wrapped around his heart. Which made his body tense, which crushed his lungs till he could hardly breathe. He wanted her shell, for he’d discovered what powers were locked inside that delicate charm. Powers gifted to whomsoever possessed it. His fingers dipped to her throat, caressing the shell which had allowed her to return to him, again and again. The queen eyed him strangely, and he dropped his hands to her waist, tugging her against him, kissing her deeply.”

Lena sighed, and Javelin smirked.

“She was a fool,” he said.

“She was in love,” Lena amended.

“She was both,” he conceded. “And that foolish love consumed her. Deceived her. Seduced her. Clouded her eyes, so love was all she could see. But that fateful eve, her beloved’s affection was not what it seemed. He’d seduced himself too, with all the prospects of what might be. His own love had been replaced by a lust for riches unknown. For control of the land and sea.”

Lena winced, for she knew what came next.

“He pressed his mouth against the queen’s skin, whispering sweet words, distracting her. She was smiling as he sent a knife into her back. Smiling, even as her eyes went wide with shock.”

Lena shuddered, picturing it. A joyful mouth, frozen in place. Bulging, horrified eyes going dim.

“The queen’s lover twisted his blade, releasing her cold merrow blood to the sand. He reached for the shell, yanking on its golden chain. But in the last throes of breath, the queen resisted him and threw the shell into the crashing waves, bidding Poseidon to wash it away.

“With a promised curse on his lips, her lover trailed back into the night, determined to one day possess the world between the sea and stars, and all who dwell beneath the earth, in the ocean’s depths. Our people.” He glanced sidelong at Lena, his meaning clear. “The merrows.”

“And the queen. . .” Lena murmured, though she already knew how the tale would end.

“He left her to dissolve into sea foam. She was washed away forever by the waves.”

Lena released a long breath and gazed at her hands, trying to imagine what it would be like to watch herself slowly disappear; what heartache and betrayal the queen must have felt in her last moments. She knew this was a gruesome tale, but a part of her thought the better parts, the magic and romance, were worth the gruesome bits.

“What do you think it would be like, to walk?” she wondered aloud. “Would it be like having two tails?”

“I don’t know,” Javelin chuckled. “I suppose it might be.”

“Where do you think the shell is now?”

Javelin shrugged. From a stony shelf above his head, he retrieved a slim, wooden railing he’d found in a ship a few days before and carefully tied his sharpened clamshell to its jagged end.

Lena smiled, realizing he’d made her a hunting spear.

“Poseidon is said to have hidden the shell before the human lover, or any human, could steal it. It could be anywhere.”

“If you could go to the surface, would you?”

Javelin pinched his lips together and didn’t speak. It was a silent reprimand. He knew how Lena longed to break through the waves, to see the human world with her own eyes, to know the uses of all the odd objects they’d collected over the years. But the laws of the sea were strict, and the king’s leniency had all but vanished in recent years.

Any merrow caught peeking at the shore was punished. Some were even struck down by Poseidon and reduced to sea foam, just like the queen.

“This is where we belong, Lena,” Javelin said softly, firmly.

“But how do you know?” She swirled upright and swam along the edge of the grotto, brushing her fingertips over cups and spoons and heaps of sodden fabric. Over small chests and tarnished, palm-sized figurines and other mysterious, unnamed things. “Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like, to live on the land? To live among them? To be one of them?”

“Not as much as you have, I can see.”

She groaned, and sank to her brother’s side, resting her head on his shoulder. “It can’t be as bad as everyone believes. Humans can’t all be the same. We’re not all the same,” she reasoned quietly.

About the Author:

ChantalAmazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published “The Songs in Our Hearts” with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh” with Parliament House Press, with future titles to follow. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-‘brother’ (aka, puppy) Taran.

Website |  Twitter Facebook | Intstagram | Goodreads


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Submit your Between the Sea and Stars Book receipts HERE!

Any format of this book will qualify: eBook or paperback. It can be purchased at any retailer; Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Parliament House, etc. Receipts must be dated before June 24th.  You can also submit your receipt by emailing:


Spring Fling Read-a-Thon: Wrap-Up!

December Wrap Up
Oh my gosh! I almost forgot to post my wrap-up for the Spring Fling Read-A-Thon. This read-a-thon began on May 15th and ended on June 15th. I had a lot of fun working on the various spring inspired prompts…and a lot of success as well! I ended up reading 7 out of the 10 books on my TBR, which is pretty awesome since I usually only read 3-4 books a months.

I will definitely participate in another read-a-thon by the lovely group of bloggers who hosted this one because it was very laid back. I didn’t feel pressured like I usually do during events like this and the prompts meant there was a nice variety of books to pick from. The TBR was limited to a specific type of book and I was able to mix in poetry, novellas and various genres.

The Prompts:

These were the prompts for the read-a-thon:


What I Read:

What I Didn’t Read:


Did you participate in this read-a-thon? If so, how did you do? ❤

Blog Tour: Cinderella’s Inferno by F.M. Bought (Spotlight & Giveaway)


Cinderella'sInferno coverCinderella’s Inferno by F.M. Boughan
Release date: May 28th, 2018
Publisher: Month9Books
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook
Pages: 324
Genres: Young adult, fantasy


It’s been two years since Ellison defeated her stepsisters and sent her evil stepmother back into the Abyss.

Though she’s learning to control her dark magic and has spent time traveling with Prince William and bringing peace to the kingdom, one fact remains. She is a necromancer and he is a paladin of light. And so, the king refuses to give his blessing for them to marry.

To appease his father, William has begun to avoid her. But when even her younger brother Edward grows distant, Ellison learns her mother’s spirit has been visiting Edward in secret, threatening to overwhelm him with her own loneliness and longing. When Ellison accidentally touches her mother’s spirit, her tainted touch condemns her mother’s spirit to eternal damnation.

Ellison resolves to descend into hell to save her mother’s soul and bring her physical body back to the world of the living. William hopes this good deed will bring Ellison into favor and finally allow them to be wed.

But the journey through hell is fraught with peril. Temptations abound and the demons Ellison sent back to the Abyss are thirsty for revenge.

Evil cannot be defeated without sacrifice—but when that sacrifice means choosing between the ones Ellison loves and her very own life, how far is she willing to go to make her family whole again?

Book Excerpt:

My father was right.

We needed to run.

“What is it?” is all I managed to breathe.

“This is the circle of gluttony and greed,” my father said, taking my hand and pulling me away from my sisters. This time, I did not resist. “What else could dwell here but the true green-eyed monster itself?”

Jealousy. We faced the incarnate form of jealousy made manifest by my stepsisters. They envied my ability to walk upon the earth, and they envied the power they thought could be gained by aligning themselves with mortal royalty. Victoria had, after all, tried to marry William.

“Let’s go,” I whispered. “I cannot fight this. I don’t know how.” The monster roared again, and I turned to flee—but in that moment, Hund launched himself toward the beast. “Hund! No!” I nearly pulled out of my father’s grasp. “Come back!”

“He’ll be fine,” my father said. “Watch.”

And I did, for as my canine companion leapt, he began to grow. And grow, and grow, new heads bursting from the sides of his neck, jaws widening until three mouths filled with sword-sharp teeth snarled before the heinous Jealousy. Hund’s fangs dripped yellow venom, and the claws on his enormous paws were at least as long as my brother was tall.

This was not Hund at all, this spirit I thought I had called to do my bidding. No, Charon had spoken the truth when he’d said I had tamed a guardian, though I had not fully understood. This monstrous ally, this hound who trotted by my side and risked his own body for my protection, I knew by his three heads. This was none other than Cerberus, the hound of Hades, guardian of the underworld.

And he had chosen to protect me.

About the Author:

FaithF.M. Boughan is a bibliophile, a writer, and an unabashed parrot enthusiast. She can often be found writing in local coffee shops, namely because it’s hard to concentrate with a cat lying on the keyboard and a small, colorful parrot screaming into her ear. Her work is somewhat dark, somewhat violent, somewhat hopeful, and always contains a hint of magic.

You can follow Faith on Twitter (@FaithBoughan) for plenty of flailing about food (she likes to cook!), TV shows (she watches too many), and world dance (did you know she’s been performing & instructing in Bollywood-style dance for over 8 years?).

Or catch her on Facebook where she just might post pictures of her adorable cat & bird… among other things.

F.M. Boughan is represented by Bill Contardi of Brandt & Hochman.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. 1 winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Good luck! 🙂

Follow the Tour:

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour organized by Rockstar Book Tours.

June 18th – Zach’s YA Reviews – Review
June 19th – Bluestocking Bookworm – Review
June 19th – A Dream Within A Dream – Excerpt
June 20th – books are love – Review
June 20th- Here’s to Happy Endings – Excerpt
June 21st – Blushing Bibliophile – Review
June 21st – Two Chicks on Books – Interview
June 22nd – Bookroomreviews – Guest Post
June 22nd – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Guest Post

The ABC Book Challenge | “B”

Book Blitz_I absolutely love everything about this challenge/tag! I saw this on Life of a Literary Nerd and was super excited to start it right away. Each week I’ll be posting another letter of the alphabet. So, be prepared for lots of posts in this series! 🙂

Memorable Titles That Start With “B”

If you haven’t read the novella Binti by Nnedi Okorafor then you NEED to go and pick it up right away! It’s unlike anything that I’ve read before. It’s complex, imaginative and touches on important topics such as racism, prejudice and discrimination. Best Left in the Shadows is a short story in Echoes of the Ascended fantasy series by Mark Gelineau and Joe King. I couldn’t get enough of it and then the authors stopped releasing books. I’m not sure what happened but I want more please! Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin made me cry for hours and I rarely cry while reading.  The ending just ripped my heart out and stomped all over it. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco was a book that took me by surprise. It starts off a bit slow but the buildup is more than worth it! I loved how dark and moody it was. Blood of the Prophet was the second book in The Fourth Element series by Kat Ross. The series is so underrated and I wish more people would read it. Ross is an unbelievably talented fantasy writer.

Books Starting With “B” On My TBR

Rosamund Hodge is one of my favourite fantasy authors and I honestly can’t believe that I haven’t read Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. What’s wrong with me?! I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read so far by Elizabeth Wein and hope that Black Dove, White Raven is no different. Who doesn’t love a good story about espionage, adventure and history? I want to read Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman because PIRATES, PIRATES, PIRATES! I’m obsessed with pirates right now. I’ve most definitely watched too many episodes of Black Sails.

Which memorable books that start with an “B” have you read? Have you read any of the books included above? What were your thoughts about them? ❤

Shelfie By Shelfie Book Tag

Book Blitz_I found this tag on Chrissi Reads and thought it looked like fun. It was originally created by Bibliobeth. Basically, the idea of the tag is that you share a picture or shelfie of one of your bookshelves and then answer some questions about it.

My Shelfie:


The Questions:

1. Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

It’s completely random. I’ve used to have an organization system but right now I’m in the process of moving my books from my bedroom to the study/library area.

Books on this shelf:

  • A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
  • Starflight by Melissa Landers
  • Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
  • Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
  • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
  • Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh
  • The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
  • Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
  • Wolf by Wolf  by Ryan Graudin
  • P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

2. Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/a memory associated with it, etc.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars was my first physical ARC and I remembered being so surprised when it arrived. It totally did not expect it because I had recently started blogging and didn’t have that many followers. I had sent an email request and then forgot about it. I absolutely adored this book and its mixture of fairytales, romance and magic. It was so much fun to read!

3. Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Hmmmm…probably Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because it’s been on my shelf forever and I just have no motivation to want to pick it up. I watched the movie and was underwhelmed by it. This book was gift from a student who loved the series. Right now, I don’t even have it on my TBR.

4. Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

This is such a difficult question! I love all of my books, but I guess if I had to save one it would be Labyrinth Lost since it has a personalized message from the author inside of it.

5. Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time? 

I’m not 100% sure but I think I’ve had Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge the longest.

6. Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

I received an ARC copy of The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale in early 2017  as part of a blog tour. My newest purchases are already in the library area.

7. Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

I’ve read almost all of the books on this shelf except for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and A Madness So Discreet. I’ve heard really good things about A Madness So Discreet and definitely want to finally read it sometime this year.

8. If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

The objects I have on this shelf are small shells that I picked up on a beach on Geoje, an island I visited with my sister in South Korea. I lived and worked in Korea for two years as an English teacher and miss it a lot. The trip was a lot of fun…we hung out on the beach, ate delicious food, enjoyed the beautiful blue sky and explored some historical sites. One day I hope to visit Korea again. *sighs* Damn you expensive plane tickets!

9. What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

That I really enjoy fantasy books? It’s the genre I read the most from and also dominates my other bookshelves.

10. Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.