Tag Archives: Birthday

September Update: Five Ways You Can Help

BirthdayIf you know me on social media, you probably saw that it was my birthday this month, and that Hurricane Irma dropped in uninvited and altered all my plans. One of the hazards of having a September birthday in Florida.

At any rate, we survived the storm, and I’m back to work, and hoping to actually celebrate my birthday soon, but all of this got me started thinking. What if instead of a hundred comments on Facebook saying happy birthday, I could ask for something equally free and simple, but much more meaningful? What if you could support me in a way that costs you nothing more than a few seconds of time but makes a difference for the whole year?

So I came up with a list of ideas which I’m now wishing I posted earlier in the month, before my actual birthday. Note to self for next year. Here are some free, easy ways you can support The Story Sanctuary and me as a writer, blogger, book reviewer, or friend.

1. Subscribe to The Story Sanctuary. You’ll get my posts as emails, which means you’ll never miss an update. It also helps me gain access to the best current releases in young adult and middle grade. It only takes a second and you can do it by entering your email address in the field in the sidebar.

2. Like my Facebook Page. Mostly this just makes me feel loved. 🙂 I’m not a huge Facebook girl, but I like to post what I’m reading, calls for recommendations on what to read next, or random silly bookish things I come across in my travels across the interweb. Here’s the link to my page.

3. Follow me on Pinterest. I love the way Pinterest organizes links into cool visual lists. There, you’ll find lists of my reviews organized by genre or subject (I have a board for books about mermaids) and a lot of other great bookish fun. I have a board for bookshelves and one for bookish gift ideas. Christmas is coming, y’all. Find all my boards here to follow me.

4. Add my book, Reviews Wanted, on Goodreads. Hop over to my book on Goodreads. Mark it as “Want to Read.” Leave a quick review and rating if you’ve read it. Bonus points if you add it to a list on Goodreads Listopia.

5. Use my Amazon Affiliate links when you want to purchase a book. These are the links and buttons in each review post that take you to Amazon’s site. If you plan to buy the book, use the link, and a small percent of the purchase will support my blog. Right now I’m earning about $30 per year through these links, which is basically covers shipping costs of giveaways and a few of the books I buy for review.

Fun fact: If you click one of my Amazon links and then browse for or buy other stuff while on Amazon, those orders will help support me, too. So click away!

Side note: Leaving reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads is a huge help to authors and helps their books gain better visibility and more readers. If you’ve read Reviews Wanted, please take a minute and post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It’s a huge help.

If you haven’t read my book and are interested in doing so, leave me a comment! I can send out some review copies and would be happy to do so. It’s a quick read at about 50 pages and offers lots of tips and suggestions for authors on how to connect with bloggers like me. You don’t have to be an author to read the book and leave a review, and it’s another great way to support The Story Sanctuary.

If you want to get crazy, you can check out all my social media sites by clicking the icons in the sidebar or at the top of the page.

Thanks for reading and for supporting what I do. My goal is to provide detailed reviews of teen and preteen books to help readers, parents, and educators determine when a book is right for them. I couldn’t do it without you!



January 2017 Monthly Wrap-Up

It’s January 2017

Wow. So we made it to 2017! Yay. I’m excited about sharing so many great books this year. You can see some of them already posted on my 2017 Reading List. You may also notice that I have a new feature in my sidebar. You’ll find buttons that take you to a list of my past reviews based on the book’s target age or genre of the books. I’m also working on creating a master list of reviews so you can skim the whole list pretty easily. I hope to have that posted by the end of February.

My New E-book: Reviews Wanted

I’ve also released my first e-book which aims to help authors successfully network with book review bloggers. You can find out more about it here.

Another thing I’ve been working on behind-the-scenes are some resources for parents and readers that might help you better navigate The Story Sanctuary and post ideas that will help you find new books based on novels you read and enjoyed.

If there are things you’d like to see or see more of here on the site, please share them with me! I’m always open to new ideas and experimenting with new ways to get information about great books out to you.

Also – if you know of new Christian YA releases, please let me know. I’ve got a few in the Blink line from Zondervan on my review list, but I’m having a hard time finding and keeping up with other Christian YA titles. There are several small presses that do them, but even those are sometimes hard to keep up with. I used to review a lot more Christian YA. I enjoy reading and reviewing mainstream titles, too, and it’s important to me to do that, too.

Here’s what you missed in terms of reviews this month…

January 2017 Reviews

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Aftermath by Clara Kensie

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Almost There by Laurel Garver

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Author Jaimie Engle’s Birthday Celebration and Giveaway

Also in exciting news, my friend and favorite local author is hosting a giveaway in honor of her birthday! Check it out for a chance to win three e-books and a $5 Starbucks gift card! (Click the link or the image above for more details and to enter the giveaway. Ends February 11, 2017)

You can find my reviews and content notes on her books here.



Monthly Wrap-Up for September 2016

September is my favorite month– it’s also my birthday month– and I had the opportunity to review some excellent books. I also received my first OwlCrate shipment, which was incredible! My husband ordered me a six month subscription for my birthday. Here’s what my first box looked like:

I also received one of my new favorite things ever as a gift from a super awesome friend. It’s a stamp that embosses a book page with my blog name. So from now on, if you enter a giveaway that I’m hosting (not ones hosted as part of a blog tour) and you win, your book will have this fancy stamp inside! Exciting. And so thoughtful and clever! I never would have thought even to look for something like this. Here’s a picture of the stamp and what the embossing looks like:

In addition to all the birthday fun, I also received some great books. Some will probably be featured in my next giveaway!

September was also a big month for blog tours. I participated in a whopping SIX blog tours. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Tom Crosshill posted a list of top ten things which inspired his fantastic novel The Cat King of Havana via Irish Banana Blog Tours. See the list.
  • Dusty Crabtree posted a list of her top ten favorite book quotes from her novel Shadow Eyes. Read the quotes.
  • Cat Clarke joined me for an interview about her book The Lost and the Found via Irish Banana Blog Tours. Check out the interview.
  • I posted my review of Swan Riders by Erin Bow as part of an Irish Banana Blog Tour. See it here.
  • I posted my review of The Last Messenger of Zitol as a part of a blog tour organized by author Chelsea Dyreng. Find it here.
  • My review of The Second Season was yesterday’s stop on a blog tour organized by author Heather Chapman. My review is here.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing author Monica Lee Kennedy about her trilogy of books that begin with The Land’s Whisper in which the land is sentient and different countries have different personalities. Congrats again to Theresa, our giveaway winner! Find out more here.

Last but of course not least, here’s the recap of my reviews this month. If you’re looking for a great family read, I recommend The One and Only Ivan. My favorite book is probably This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills, but The Cat King of Havana is a very close second. Both were excellent, though both contain some mature content. See my review for details.

The Cat King of Havana by Tom Crosshill

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Rick Gutierrez, known as the founder of a highly successful cat video site, is out to craft a new identity for himself. He falls for a gorgeous salsa dancer, convinces her to visit Cuba with him, and hopes for the romance to blossom. This was such a great story and I loved the Cuban setting.

For This Life Only by Stacey Kade

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

After surviving a car accident that killed his brother, Jacob reevaluates everything once believed, including everything he believed about his twin brother. This was a really emotional read for me. I liked that it explored a church family and asked some hard questions about faith and doubt.

Freedom’s Just Another Word by Caroline Stellings

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Caroline Stellings is one of my favorite authors, and I loved this story. She had me at Janis Joplin and a young blues singer. I could not wait to read the book, and I was not disappointed. I love the way it pulled a lot of different layers and ideas together, and the way things worked out in a completely different way than the protagonist expected. So much like life.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I’d been meaning to read this book for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally had the chance. It reminded me of John Boyne’s Stay Where You Are and then Leave plus Disney’s Fox and the Hound.

George by Alex Gino

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

This is a book about a transgender girl who finds the courage to talk to her family and friends. I felt like it was important to review this book that so tenderly reaches into these issues.

Wrecked by Maria Padian

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

A girl is raped at a college party. The story follows her roommate and the boy’s roommate as they try to piece together what really happened that night. It’s dark and mature, but I liked that Padian dove into the question of consent and forced us to sift through the things people say, well-meaning or otherwise, in the wake of a situation like this.

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan McGovern

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

An incredibly moving story about a boy who grows up in North Korea and eventually escapes. This is the first young adult memoir about someone from North Korea, and definitely worth adding to a history or current events curriculum.

Swan Riders by Erin Bow

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

After reading the first book in this series, The Scorpion Rules, I knew I had to read this one. Greta has become AI in order to save her friends and possibly her world. But a new threat rises against the AI, and even Greta’s new abilities may not be enough to stop it. If you like complex political sci-fi, this is probably right up your alley.

The Doorway and the Deep by K. E. Ormsbee

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I loved the fun cast of characters in this story. Lottie and her friends just want to return Eliot to the human world, but an evil king bars their way and threatens Lottie’s life. They must outsmart his most deadly assassins in order to stop him from destroying the land of Limn.

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

I really enjoyed First & Then by Mills, so when I saw this one available to review, I had to jump on it. This Adventure Ends is all the things I loved about First & Then— the quick banter, absurd situations, angsty romance– only MORE.

30 Days of Goodness, Love and Grace by Faithgirlz

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

This was a tough read for me. I’d hoped to complete this study with my eleven year-old daughter, but found the content to be better suited for older girls since much of it focuses on marriage and dating. So instead, we’re exploring some other options for study.

Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Irena’s Children follows events during World War II in Warsaw as a young woman and her associates fought to rescue 2,500 children from Jewish ghettos and death. An incredible story about bravery and courage.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

My family and I listened to this story on the way home from vacation, and it was a hit with all of us. While some parts moved slowly, the characters were interesting, and I loved learning that Ivan was in fact based on the story of a real gorilla.

The Second Season by Heather Chapman

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

This was a bit off my usual path, but I find that I usually like historical fiction, so I was excited to read this one. It reminded me of the types of romances I used to read in seventh grade or so, which was pleasantly nostalgic.

Have you read any of these books?

If you’ve read these titles, what did you think of them? Which ones on this list look most interesting to you?