Monday, April 30, 2012

OTL: Graco RoomFor2 Stand & Ride Stroller

My three year old, Elizabeth, is a walker. We rented a stroller when we went to Disney World last fall thinking that she might need to take a break from walking because it is such a large place but we barely used it. Now that Victoria is here though and she rides in the stroller, Elizabeth is wanting to ride in the stroller again too. So I was completely thrilled to receive a Graco RoomFor2 Stand and Ride Stroller, Metropolis from the Amazon Vine program for the purpose of providing an honest review.

I really wanted to love this stroller and was a little disappointed withe the number of little things that I don't like about it. None of them are major but when added all together I can see how much better the stroller could have been.

  • This easily holds both my daughters. My three year old loves that she can sit or stand and thinks getting to ride in the stroller with her little sister is a lot of fun.
  • The stroller collapses easily and is just as small as our single travel stroller when collapsed.
  • The stroller is light enough to move easily when collapsed.
  • The stroller steers easily even with both kids in there.
  • There are lots of cup holders and places for snacks.
  • The basket underneath is a good size.
  • My husband said the instructions for putting the stroller together were not great and when he pushed down (as instructed) to attach the foot rest one of the clips to hold it on broke easily.
  • The stroller fully collapses to the ground which means you have to pick it up to move it which is not easy when holding on to the younger child. (My other stroller collapses to a standing position and can then be moved on the rear wheels.)
  • When the front seat is in the reclined position, my three year old really needs to stand to have enough room. If she wants to sit, she ends up leaning forward because the other seat is in her back.
  • The five-point harness for the front seat is not easy to use - pieces are all separate and must be fitted and held together while trying to buckle the child in.
  • The sun/rain cover for the front seat is stiff and not easy to adjust.
  • The way the seats are positioned makes it difficult to get anything large into the bottom basket even though the basket is large enough to hold it. I'm not sure I could fit our diaper bag in there.
  • The rear wheels have separate brakes so you have to push on each of them.
  • The child in back can also easily reach the brakes with their feet and push on the while you are moving. (I have no idea how this one could be avoided though!)
Right now this stroller doesn't work for us because the infant car seat we have is a different brand and does not attach to this stroller. I think we will definitely be using this stroller when we go places outdoors that require a lot of walking when Victoria can sit up in the front seat on her own. The Graco RoomFor2 Stand and Ride Stroller, Metropolis is a good stroller that could have been made even better with a few small adjustments.

Do you have a double stroller for your kids? What do you like and dislike about it?

Note: All opinions provided on this blog are my own. If a product was given to me for review, the source of that product is noted in the post. Bookstore links are generally affiliate links and I do earn a small amount for each purchase. Other affiliate links will be noted in the post.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Death by Chocolate by Julie Anne Lindsey (Review)

Title: Death by Chocolate
Author: Julie Anne Lindsey
Publication Date: March 2012
Publisher: Knight Romance Publishing
Series: The Killer Confection Series Book 1
Source: ARC provided by the author

Julie Anne Lindsey's Death by Chocolate is a wild ride of mistakes and murder. When Ruby Russell discovers that her husband is having an affair she cooks him up a special Viagra laced treat and finds him dead the next morning. As Ruby continues to dole out dangerously delectable baked goods the body count rises higher and higher. Together with her best friend, Charlotte, Ruby tries to cover her tracks until she can escape following her son's wedding but will she be able to get away with murder with an investigative reporter meddling about and her therapist putting the pieces together?

Death by Chocolate is full steam ahead from the very first pages. It amazed me how quickly Ruby piled up a body count using her baked goods to tempt people. Of course she never intentionally killed anyone but she never stopped adding special ingredients to her recipes either. I love how in the beginning she comes across as a housewife who has simply had enough but as the book continues her history reveals her to be much more cunning than she first appears. The same is true for her friend Charlotte in an even more dramatic fashion. The exploits of the two friends are strangely funny considering the circumstances as they react in extreme ways to small events and generate even larger problems as they try to cover up previous mistakes.

The supporting characters in Death by Chocolate are great too. My favorite is Ruby's therapist, Dr. Kessler. I love how he becomes more and more concerned about Ruby's behavior considering their past history yet he is unable to substantiate his suspicions enough to go to the authorities. Emma Eaken, the reporter, is another fun character as she tries to connect seemingly random deaths to create a big story and boost her career. One character that I didn't really care for was Michael, Ruby's son. I didn't really understand his approach to introducing his fiance to Ruby with the knowledge of what happened the last time he brought a major change into her life. It seemed he would have been a bit more apprehensive or sensitive to the situation considering Ruby's fragile mental state.

Overall,  Death By Chocolate is a really fun book with crazy characters and a fast moving plot. The only thing that was missing was the recipe for Ruby's famous chocolate zucchini muffins.

Find our more about Julie Anne Lindsey and the Killer Confection Series:

Note: All opinions provided on this blog are my own. If a product was given to me for review, the source of that product is noted in the post. Bookstore links are generally affiliate links and I do earn a small amount for each purchase. Other affiliate links will be noted in the post.
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Socialpunk by Monica Leonelle - Excerpt

Title: Socialpunk
Author: Monica Leonelle
Publication Date: April 2012
Publisher: Spaulding House
Series: The Socialpunk Trilogy Book 1

Description: Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.
A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.
Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.
He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.
But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.
He looked at his last and final creation sitting in the chair across from him—his own son, not awakened yet. The law forbade him to have any children of his own, so this boy would substitute.
But he had done the unthinkable with this creation—he had bestowed on it his own thoughts, emotions, and decision-making processes. He’d given the boy his own mind, his own physical characteristics, his own wants and desires.
He had never done so with any of the others because of the dangers of investing too heavily in any one of his subjects. But who could he kid? He had not stayed objective thus far, watching some of his subjects more closely than others, wishing for the happiness of some at the expense of others. He had become an abomination, a monster of his own doing, who had created subjects only to watch them suffer.
He couldn’t forgive himself; not now, not ever. His eyes lingered on the vial that sat next to his breakfast smoothie, that he’d stowed away for the day when they destroyed all his work, his entire world. He would save it, tuck it away for now, for as long as he could protect them. When things spun out of his control, he would drink it and end himself the way he had ended them.
In the ancient stories, gods frequently gave their sons as gifts. Now, he would give his son as a gift to her, number 3281. So she could be happy in her last months on earth, before they destroyed her with the rest of them.
About the Author:
Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire ( and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit (

The Giveaway:

Please note this giveaway is being hosted by the author and Library Girl Reads & Reviews is not responsible for the giveaway or the prizes offered.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Temp: A Accidental Fairytale by A.E. Mayer (Review)

Title: Temp: An Accidental Fairytale
Author: A.E. Mayer
Publication Date: June 2011
Publisher: Cricket Ink
Source: Publisher for review
Twitter: @ae_mayer

Temp: An Accidental Fairytale is the story of Jackson Belle Bee Elders, an ordinary girl who works at a staffing agency for magical creatures. Bee, as she likes to be called, hates her job at Beveled Star Magical Staffing, especially her boss Gilda. Although one would think that the Collision that brought all the magical creatures to Earth and a degree in Magical Sciences would lead a girl into fantastic adventures, Bee feels that she has no power to change her life. That is until she meets Angus and begins to discover secrets about herself she never could have imagined.

I really enjoyed Temp: An Accidental Fairytale. It is a fun book with interesting characters. Although her world is vastly different than ours, Bee is like so many of us feeling stuck in the ordinary and not knowing how to go after her dreams. I could relate to Bee instantly with her lack of self-confidence and her willingness to do her job to the best of her abilities despite the difficult circumstances in which she worked. This made the story all the more interesting as we see her transform from an extremely cautions person to one who finally begins to trust herself and make decisions based more on instinct. Each of Bee's companions also has an interesting story from Angus, the man trapped in animal form until he finds what he seeks, to Saul, a member of a nearly extinct race called the Brock, to Ninwicket the gnome.

While the events that take place in Temp: An Accidental Fairytale are certainly not ordinary events, especially for Bee, she handles everything very calmly and goes on her adventure as if it is just another day. While she does puzzle and question and wonder at everything that is happening, she also accepts it in a way that shows that this is exactly what she is meant to be doing. The writing emphasizes this state of mind as it is straightforward and factual while at the same time conveying extraordinary events with wonderful descriptions.

I wish I had been able to read the book in longer stretches to get a better feel for the overall flow. Instead, with two young children to take care of, I had to snatch a few minutes of reading time whenever I could get it. This often meant I was unable to even complete a chapter at a time and that it would be half a day or more before I could get back to reading. So while it is difficult for me to comment on the book as a whole, I did notice that the sections of Bee's journal that were inserted between chapters did take me out of the flow of the main narrative when I was able to spend more time with the book. I enjoyed how the journal entries provided more historical background on the Collision and also into the framework for Bee's understanding of her world but I think, at half a page or less, they were more of a distraction for me.

Overall, Temp: An Accidental Fairytale is a enjoyable and different story. I'm curious to know if we will hear more about Bee and Angus in the future as the ending leaves open the possibility that they will have more adventures.

Note: All opinions provided on this blog are my own. If a product was given to me for review, the source of that product is noted in the post. Bookstore links are generally affiliate links and I do earn a small amount for each purchase. Other affiliate links will be noted in the post.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What if Jesus were Female? The Way by Kristen Wolf (Review)

Title: The Way
Author: Kristen Wolf
Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Crown
Source: FSB Associates for review
Twitter: @TheWayNovel

The Way envisions a new beginning for Christianity through the portrayal of Jesus as a woman. Anna's masculine appearance as a child causes her no end of hurt as the other children make fun of her and her father despairs that he has no son. The loss of an infant son and then the death of his wife lead Anna's father to disguise her as a boy and sell her to shepherds so he will be rid of her. For Anna this is the beginning of an unimaginable journey as she must first hide her femaleness and then learn to embrace it when she reaches what she thinks is her final destination. Her time as a shepherd and her time among the Sisters learning The Way prepare her for a larger role in the spiritual conflict taking place outside the caves she thinks of as home.

Sometimes you are looking for a book that will just take you away from your life. A book that lets your imagination run wild and entertains or relaxes you. The Way is not one of those books. The Way challenges you to think beyond what you have learned of Christianity. To expand your vision beyond yourself and your family and to remember how all things in the world are connected. Wolf takes some of the traditional Bible stories of Jesus and gives them new life as she shares them in a different context.  The Way does not diminish Christianity but instead adds another layer of thought that expands it to include both Mother and Father in nourishing roles for all people.

Wolf writes in a straightforward manner that is both stark and beautiful at the same time. She matches her writing to each scene with scenes of the desert and scenes of the caves flowing just a bit differently. This enhances the reading experience as I was able to get a great sense of what Anna was feeling and experiencing through the changes in the writing. The shifts in name from Anna to Jesus and back again were so complete that it was possible in sections of the story to forget that the character is actually female. Anna must completely abandon herself into her male role and Wolf writes this absolutely convincingly and with total conviction.

It is incredibly important to remember when reading The Way that it is a work of fiction. While Wolf did research lesser known aspects of Christianity for background, this is her story and her vision. I think Wolf took a great risk in writing a story that could be so controversial for her first novel but she pulls it off wonderfully. I can see The Way being discussed in college religion courses with the potential for strong opinions on all sides of a debate. The Way does not allow you to read with complacency but forces you to think beyond the traditional Bible stories you may have learned as a child.

Note: All opinions provided on this blog are my own. If a product was given to me for review, the source of that product is noted in the post. Bookstore links are generally affiliate links and I do earn a small amount for each purchase. Other affiliate links will be noted in the post.