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13 September 2014

Review: The Luthier's Apprentice

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be part of the blog tour introduce The Luthier's Apprentice by Mayra Calvani to the world.  Today, because Royal Street Publishing was kind enough to send me a copy of the book, I'd like to give a brief review.  

(Please see yesterday's post for synopsis, etc).

I really enjoyed the premise of this book---male violinists were disappearing, and apparently had been for centuries.  Little bit of witchcraft, little bit of family drama and mystery.  It was something that I had never really read before.

That being said, I feel like, since it was only 180ish pages long, I didn't get enough backstory and the final wrap-up or explanation at the end was stilted.  I also felt like once we entered the magical realm, the author was like, "What other magical stuff can I add?  Weird violin guards, check.  Deals with the devil, check.  Stopping time, check.  Psychic abilities, which are actually telekinesis, check."  It was too much for me.  

Overall, it was an interesting book, and the premise was different enough to keep me satisfied.  However, I'm not sure if I will read the other books in the series.  

Thank you to Royal Street Publishing for sending me a copy to read.      

12 September 2014

Blog Tour: The Luthier's Apprentice by Mayra Calvani

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ROYAL ST:Logos:LOGO full banner.jpg
Book Synopsis:
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…  

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.  But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms. 

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma's family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?  

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him.  And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier's apprentice…

Genre: YA Fantasy/Mystery
Tag Line: When a psychopathic violinist starts kidnapping other violinists around the world, 16-year old Emma must hunt her down before her own beloved violin teacher is killed.
Release Date: May 15, 2014 ebook; August 15, 2014 print
Formats Available, e-book, Paperback, Hardback: ebook and paperback
Publisher Information or Self-Published: Twilight Times Books
ISBN Numbers:
*Print ISBN: 978-1-60619-029-6
*eBook ISBN: 978-1-60619-028-9
Prices of Each Format: ebook $2.99, paperback $15.95
 Author Information
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Author Name: Mayra Calvani
Email: mayra.calvani AT gmail DOT com

Thanks to Royal Street Publishing for contacting me about this book and tour, and for sending me a copy of The Luthier's Apprentice to read!  Tomorrow, I'll be posting my review.     

02 September 2014

Review: Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt

Planet Kindergarten 
Image and summary from Goodreads:
This clever picture book will prepare young explorers to boldly go where they have never gone before: Planet Kindergarten. Suit up for a daring adventure as our hero navigates the unknown reaches and alien inhabitants of this strange new world. Hilarious and confidence-boosting, this exciting story will have new kindergarteners ready for liftoff!

 This clever picture book helps prepare kiddos for kindergarten--but really, not just kindergarten kiddos, but rather anyone for the first day of school. 

And today, on my first day of school, I'm so happy to share it with you.  

I really enjoyed how every aspect of a school day is explored and explained in astronaut terms.  

Honestly though, it is too hard for my kindergarteners to enjoy and understand, but I think upper grade students (2nd/3rd) would really enjoy it.   
I'd like to thank Chronicle Books for sending me a copy for review.  If you'd like to own your own copy, you can find it on Amazon (here) or your local bookstore.


24 August 2014

Fireworks by Lindsey Gray Trailer Reveal!

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Release Date: June 20th, 2013

Genre: Contemporary Adult Romance

Sophie McKibbin finds herself back in Sam Crawford’s life after

ten years. Unfortunately, Sam is dating Lola, Sophie’s high school

nemesis. Lola dumps Sam the day before he was supposed to

introduce his mystery girlfriend to his family over the Fourth of July

holiday. With the looming fear of disappointing his mother once again

and his long held feelings for Sophie, he asks her to take Lola’s

place. With family feuds, an old flame, and feelings that have been

locked away for a decade, there is bound to be some fireworks.




Barnes & Noble



Trailer URL:

Special thanks to NJ Cole for acting as producer on this project.

Thanks to RE Hargrave, MB Feeney, Ali’s Bookshelf, and Offbeat

Vagabond for taking the time to read and review Fireworks. Your

thoughts make me happy. Last but not least, thanks to the creators

of the perfect song, Happy by Secrets in the Stereo. The first time I

heard the song, I knew it would be perfect for the trailer.

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About the Author

Lindsey Gray dreamed of being several different things as a child

such as a doctor, an actress, and a chef, but none held her attention

like putting pen to paper and creating her own world through

words.  She has written three full-length novels and one short story

for The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House and is now taking the

self-publishing leap with her novella, "Fireworks".

A mid-west native, Lindsey enjoys spending time with her husband

and two children, reading almost anything she can get her hands on,

and making life interesting at each and every turn.

Find Lindsey






Listen to Lindsey's Radio Show, Gray Matters, Tuesdays at 7pm EST


The TMV Cafe or the TuneIn app.

20 August 2014

{Out of the Box}: August 2014 Ipsy Glam Bag

Out of the Box is a feature I do to showcase and give a brief review of products in the subscription boxes that I receive.

Today's review is of my Ipsy makeup bag for the month.  Ipsy is a service where "each month, subscribers will receive a beautiful Glam Bag with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products. Members can watch and play along with the stylists with the same products that they are using. All for only $10 a month. "  If you are interested, please click here to use my referral code and help me earn free bags.

This month's theme is "Beauty Schooled", and all the cute little sneak peaks were school themed (they dress their samples up and "pose" them in scenarios that fit the theme).
(image via

I love my glam bags, and Ipsy is probably my favorite subscription box.  The quality of products and variety is pretty great.  My only "complaint" is that their shipping notifications kind of stink.  Last month, I got the bag before I got the email saying it had been shipped!  They also don't post the tracking code online.

This month, I received:

*Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer (.25oz)--$40 for 1 oz
     I really liked my Dr. Brandt Microderm abraision scrub I got in a past bag, so I'm sure this will be amazing!  I really like how it made my face matte, rather than dewy.  I know dewy is "the look", but it makes me feel oily.  It seems that a little big goes a long way.

*Urban Decay Perversion Mascara (sample size)--$22 for regular size
     MORE MASCARA!  I finally find a mascara I love (Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara) and since then, I get a mascara from either Ipsy or PopSugar!  That being said, I am excited to try Urban Decay Perversion Mascara.  I really like Urban Decay products, so being able to try it before I buy it is very nice.  This is better than the Be a Bombshell from the June GlamBag, but still, does not compare to my Mary Kay! 

*J.Cat Beauty Flying Solo Eye Shadow in Half Naked (2.5g/0.09oz)--$2.99
    This is a great neutral color.  It looks like a mix of gold and orange, but don't let that scare you, it goes on great and just looks like a nice almost champagne-colored shimmer.  Right now, I'm wearing it alone, but I could see using it as a base or a highlighter 

*Jersey Shore Sun Mongongo Lip Conditioner (regular sized chapstick)--$5.50
     I'm picky with my chapsticks, I hate those that make my lips tingle.  So, time will tell with this one.  I am happy that it's USDA certified organic.  This goes on very nice, doesn't have an overwhelming smell, nor does it make my lips tingle!  WIN!  I used it overtop the Tints and Sass lip and cheek stain from last month and it looks AMAZING! 

*Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (50mL / 1.06oz)--$19.50 for 3.2 oz
    I'm trying to go "low-poo" (shampoo less, and use sulfate and paraben free shampoo and conditioner), so this will be great on the days I don't wash my hair.  (For a brief period of time, I tried "no-poo" and that just didn't work for me.  I realize I was still in transition and my hair was getting used to it, but unfortunately, I was not.  I felt like a dirty greaseball.)  This does have parabens, so technically, not "no-poo", but if you can't/don't wash one day and you need something, this would be a good go-to, in my opinion!

I'll be honest, when I got my bag, I was a little disappointed as there wasn't anything that was WOW, and the quality of the bag it came in seemed a little cheap, but then when I used the products, I really like all of them.  The bag still seems a little plastic-y and cheap, but I'll take it to school as a pencil bag, put it in my prize box, or use it to hold student iPad earbuds.  Good job, yet again, Ipsy!  

19 August 2014

Books on TV: Game of Thrones....what if?

I loved reading the Game of Thrones series, and I love watching it on DVD (no HBO, sorry, so I am a little behind).

I had planned to watch the 3 released seasons over the summer, but life happened, and now workdays/school is starting soon and instead of a leisurely stroll through Westeros, I have to binge-watch.  That's ok though, as I'm still hoping to rope Aaron into watching with me (I know!  How do I put up with it sometimes?  He has no desire to read the books or watch with me.  Though he was the same way with Harry Potter, and I eventually wore him down).

First, since reading the books and looking at the maps in the front, I had questions about how big Westeros actually was.  Because in the maps, it looks to be the size of Britain.  However, even by horseback or foot, it takes people FOREVER to get anywhere!  But, when I was watching, twice someone commented that the Wall was 1,000 leagues from King's Landing.  And thanks to my handy-dandy conversion website, one league equals 5.55600 kilometers, which would then mean that the Wall is 5, 556 km from King's Landing.  Or, 3,452 miles.  Which is about the size of the US from Bangor, Maine to Seattle, Washington---plus 200 miles!  So no wonder it took people forever to get from one place to the next!   

But then, in rewatching Season 1 (as I HAVE to watch them in order), I got to thinking, what would have happened had Ned Stark NOT gone to King's Landing?

This is what I've come up with:
1.  He wouldn't have been beheaded
2.  Arya wouldn't have gone on her cross-country tour
3.  Robb wouldn't have started the war
4.  Catelyn wouldn't have left Winterfell and been turned in to Stoneheart (see 5)
5.  Neither would have been beheaded at the Red Wedding
6.  Bran and Rickon wouldn't have had to go into hiding.
7.  Theon wouldn't have had all his issues---he may have rebelled, but probably not gotten tortured and had his junk cut off.   

I opened this up to my facebook friends, and this is what they came up with:
1.  Jon Snow would still have taken the Black, but he wouldn't have "run off with ygritte, fallen in love and then had the battle at castle black where she died and he gets all dark."

What are we missing? 

15 August 2014

Maestra Amanda's crafts: For sale on Etsy

I like doing crafts, but how many crafts can I keep in my house?  So, I decided to create a shop on Etsy as a way to do crafts, but also get them out of my house!  Plus, yes, a little extra spending money would be nice---though it would probably just go back to supplies!   

Anyway, here is the link to my store, Maestra Amanda's Crafts

As of right now, I have plain bookmarks in sets of 25 (a great classroom craft idea!), patterned bookmarks, gift tags, and notebooks for sale.  I'm going to soon be adding coffee snuggies, both plain colored and "jazzy" colored (black and gold aka Steelers or Hufflepuff colors, purple and gold, and pink and bright blue).

Cute Handmade Notebooks  Cute handmade holiday gift tags (set of 10)  Handmade shabby chic bookmarks (set of 3)  Variety pack of 25 bookmarks  Pretty Patterned, Handmade Gift Tags

If you don't see anything you like, suggest something!  I'll make it for you, try or say, "You know, I don't think I can do that."  Also, constructive criticism is also appreciated.