Monday, December 31, 2012

Best Books of 2012

Today is the last day of 2012 as I know it. So it's time to compile some of my favorite books of the year, and I'm simply going to make a list of ten. The list isn't going to be in any particular order, and the books are simply going to be the ones that I read this year; not the ones that were released this year. I'll only be numbering them to make sure I hit ten and no more. On a side note, I went back to my old posts and added pictures of the books to go with the post. YAY! On a sider side note, all of these books are in my personal collection.


1. Divergent by Veronica Roth

My book review is here.

Why did it make this list? I simply loved the world building of Divergent, I loved the characters of Divergent, and I am still looking forward to reading the third one in the trilogy. I enjoyed the follow up sequel Insurgent (my book review found here) and was incredibly pleased with how all the concepts came together for a cohesive plot. I just really freaking want the third one!

The thing that has stayed with me from these books as I continue to read, is the haunting images of how far the city fell. The different and graphic details of the setting shows more than the characters can sometime, and I think the author did a great job of utilizing that tool.

2. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

I read this book when it first came out which was long before I started this blog. I am a 'nerdfighter' of sorts in the sense that I watch all the vlogbrothers youtube videos and also love John Green's books. Because let's just face it, he's awesome. DFTBA.

Why did it make this list? For many, many reasons. John Green managed to capture a lot of intimate truths about his characters while they struggled with cancer. The story isn't about cancer, it's more of showing the world of a young girl where her 'lens' on the world is clouded a bit by cancer. We get to see her meaningful relationships, the horrors she faces as she braves every day, and Hazel's views on different aspects of life. The book is so raw, heart warming, and tear wrenching that I have reread it quite a few times and it sits proudly in my personal collection.

3. Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Again, these are not books that are found on my blog because I stumbled across them long before I made my blog and probably will not make a book review blog post about them because I'm just evil or something. I'm also cheating a little and lumping them all together because I love all of them equally.

Why did they make this list? If I've ever read an awful book (and you're probably aware of how many I've read recently) I consider each of these books very refreshing and a 'pallet' cleanser if you will. I will honestly say that I'm in love with Katsa, and I dearly wish she were a real person so we could be friends. Fire is a fierce female role model who has a different set of dilemmas, but forges her own way. Bitterblue has such an acute sense of having the world on her shoulders and yet having hardly any power to fix what is so terribly wrong. The world building through all three of these books is so descriptive, consistent, and I strongly wish to see more books take place in the Graceling realms.

4. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

My book review is here.

Why did it make this list? Because it was a breath taking science fiction adventure that was relate-able, easily understood, and I'm still eagerly anticipating the sequel. I still find it stunning how seemingly easy it switched from a high-tech world to the very low-tech death shop. I loved the stunning contrast between 'sophistication' and 'savagery'.

The aspect of the book that has stayed with me the most, is the sense of emotional motivation that both Perry and Aria had. They were very driven characters by their emotions; Aria was driven by the love for her mother, and Perry was driven by the he had for his community and nephew, to see a better world for people.

5. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

My book review is here.

Why did it make this list? This book haunts me a little bit. The gothic tones to it, the concept of Grisha with it's references to the culture of Russia, and the friendship that transpires between Alina and Mal. The settings of the little palace, the attitude of the royalty, the attitudes of the Grisha's towards each other, and most of all the creepy nature of the darkling.

There is still a lot of this book that remains in mystery when I look for the deeper concepts to it and I find myself picking it up every now and then just to reread bits of it. Then I sit and think for a while about how that could relate to other parts of the book and it just seems far too clever of a book if read only once.

6. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

My book review is here.

Why did it make this list? I wish I could write songs that had musical value to them so I could LITERALLY sing this book's praises. I stated in my review that this book really revived my immense interest in the young adult literature that incorporates dragons into the stories. My interest had been mortally wounded by many books that seemed to simply have dragons in them because dragons were, well cool. This book set up the culture of dragons, the culture of humans in regards to dragons, and the world building was simply flawless. The characters in it were quirky but not over the top, and the book was very believable despite being about dragons. I want more of the series so badly and have the sincere hope that all sequels will maintain the high enthusiasm and quality that Seraphina possesses.

7. Wither by Lauren Destefano

My book review is here.

Why did it make this list? I enjoy books where the world seems to end  because the humans tried to fix a major flaw with it. So by trying to fix themselves they've doomed themselves. I'm a little evil like that I suppose. This book stuck with me because it has such interwoven tragedy. The character Rhine is still very vivid to me, I can remember acute details about the world even though I've read many novels since Wither, and I really rooted for Rhine throughout the whole book.

I did read Fever, (review here) and enjoyed it and I really would love to read how the series ends in the third book.

8. Starters by Lissa Price

My book review is here.

Why did it make this list? Because it's another end of the world book. Notice a theme here? I thought this book was particularly gripping because of the chilling premise, old people take over your body for a while for a large amount of money. Let's disregard everything else about the book and just let that concept sink in a little better. You submit yourself to being completely controlled for a certain amount of time for a lot of money.

I'm still fond of how the book kind of started to run away from the teenager problems and delved into the world's politics that contained a deep menace to it. The book was spine-chilling with just how far people were willing to go to satisfy their greed.

9. Shade's Children by Garth Nix

My book review is here.

Why did it make this list? Because I love Garth Nix. Ever since he won my literary love with Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen I can't stop seeking his works out.

I loved this book because it was by Garth Nix which means the characters, world building, and story telling were right what I wanted them to be.

I acknowledge that I have shared this book with a few close reader friends of mine and they in general like it, but they admit it creeps them out a bit. I just want to say that I think it's an interesting interpretation of an alien invasion.

10. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

My book review is here.

Why did it make this list? Because this was the book that really got me back into reading. I said it in my post about this book, but it really captured my attention and rekindled my thirst for the inked word. It was also my inspiration to start this blog because if I was going to get back into reading, I wanted to share what I read in a very accessible way. It was also a fantastic book.

I suppose it just has a special place for me. I really enjoy reading books by Maureen Johnson and I hope to continue to read more books by her. I thought this was terrifically creepy, and I might reread it and write a more in depth blog post about it. I suppose it would be a nice way to say thanks. Or something.

So those are my top ten books from 2012. I hope 2013 will be full of more books to read!

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lincoln's Grave Robbers

Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Amazon summary to get my bearings: "The action begins in October of 1875, as Secret Service agents raid the Fulton, Illinois, workshop of master counterfeiter Ben Boyd. Soon after Boyd is hauled off to prison, members of his counterfeiting ring gather in the back room of a smoky Chicago saloon to discuss how to spring their ringleader. Their plan: grab Lincoln's body from its Springfield tomb, stash it in the sand dunes near Lake Michigan, and demand, as a ransom, the release of Ben Boyd --and $200,000 in cash. From here, the action alternates between the conspirators, the Secret Service agents on their trail, and the undercover agent moving back and forth between the two groups. Along the way readers get glimpses into the inner workings of counterfeiting, grave robbing, detective work, and the early days of the Secret Service. The plot moves toward a wild climax as robbers and lawmen converge at Lincoln's tomb on election night: November 7, 1876." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I'm not much of a person that has the patience for history as I find the writing of it to be dull, boring, and a bunch of facts. Usually when I've had to deal with history it has been in the classroom setting and only a handful of times have I picked up a historical fiction or non-fiction book.

Lincoln's Grave Robbers is a historical non-fiction book that portrays the events of men who make counterfeit money, specifically when their best engraver Ben Boyd is sent to jail. They hatch a plan to steal Abraham Lincoln's body and ransom it for the release of Ben Boyd and a fair amount of money.

It was amazing.

For the entire time I read the book, I did not want to put it down. The writing captures the moments with flourish, there are images scattered through out the book that only emphasizes the details, and the mettle of men are portrayed in subtle ways that still give a complete picture.

I learned about the secret service, the different ways that people used to get counterfeit money into circulation, and what they had to do to get detective work done.

I learned about history, AND I DIDN'T MIND.

Basically, because of this book I feel strongly encouraged to start trying more historical fiction/non-fiction books.

Maybe learning about history can be fun. Hmmm....

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

An amazon summary because I'm still not entirely sure what I read.
"After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I aggressively fell asleep at this book for about the first quarter of it. I debated just putting it down and leaving it alone since it read a lot like a weird romance novel at first. Based on the writing and the details it offered, I wholly expected it to become a weird love triangle between the assassin, the captain of the guard, and the prince. I won't ruin it until later in SPOILER LAND.

After that, I started thinking about it as a comedy and it was just much easier to read.

I'm not going to dignify any of the characters with their actual names because I don't know how to pronounce half of them. So no one gets a name, they get titles though as their references.

The prince and the captain of the guards have an interest in the assassin in the lover's way. The back of the book really wants you to believe this is the main plot of the book, the writing of the book at first really wants you to believe that's the main plot of the book, but it's not. Oh, it's not.

So the story goes that the assassin was caught, sent to the salt mines to do hard labor (where people usually die within a month, but she lived for a year OH MAN BADASS OVER HERE) was recruited by the Prince to participate in a competition set forth by the King. The King's competition is designed to find the next King's champion; if you win the competition you're the champion, get lots of money, get lots of tasks, and eventually get your freedom. The freedom part is really intriguing to the assassin. So she goes, "Eh, I'll be the champion" but has a 'feisty' attitude about it which makes her 'appealing'. It turns out the Prince and the Captain of the Guard are friends but still have a professional relationship sometimes and they escort her back  to the glass kingdom. Oh, the king is crazy and had his castle forged out of glass. Because he's crazy. He's a crazy conqueror King. More on him later.

So they get to the castle and the assassin is all, 'Well crap, I'm horribly out of shape and thin as crap from working in the mines and not being fed well. Uh...I CAN WIN?'. The captain of the guard sets about training her and the Prince kind of dabbles in his attentions towards her.

The king abruptly leaves. No one knows why, there's only vague hints as to where, and the captain of the guard just shrugs about it a bit. Slight spoiler: The king is gone for basically the whole book and returns at the end only to see the last battle between the champions. He's also the only one to return. ...I found that I didn't care.

Then the champions start going through the tests and mysteriously winding up dead. But that's just the 'suspense' that's added to the story. It didn't truly seem like THAT big of a deal when it was happening. I was much more interested in the fact that the King outlawed magic in the Kingdom ten years ago. Then there are these symbols called Wrydmarks that may be used to open some sort of gate to let different beings through. MYSTERIOUS. Slight spoiler: Even at the end of the book we don't REALLY know what's going on with the Wrydmarks.

I got really annoyed with the assassin's attitude a lot. She claimed to be smart, appeared to be well read, yet it took her the longest time to figure out the simplest of clues. She didn't trust anyone (which makes sense because she's an assassin) but then a princess comes from a land the king terrorized and took over. The assassin is like 'Well, it'd be nice to be friends. ... ... ... FRIEND???' And they kind of mention like WHAT NEVER HAD A FRIEND THAT DIDN'T TRY TO KILL ME BEFORE. MEH I'LL BE FRIENDS ANYWAYS AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. Like, what? Are you not supposed to be the deadliest assassin ever? What? ...WHAT?

I wasn't impressed with the book which is sad because it had a lot going for it. I think if the voices of the characters had been a little more distinct (It was written in third person and followed different characters around randomly but was mostly all about the assassin) and it was a little less like OOO LOOK AT THE PRINCE AND THE ASSASSIN FLIRT, AND MAYBE THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD? HELLO? I would have been more inclined to like it. There was a lot going on for the book that the addition of romance who simply unnecessary.

Plus I didn't like how the assassin tried to play the part of the tortured soul. She's the deadliest assassin; as such I expect her to be ruthless, mostly removed from emotional attachments, and unflinching about killing people. I didn't want this, "WELL, I MIGHT LIKE THE PRINCE. IS THIS LOVE?" crap in there. I just didn't. The prince wasn't even cool. He was just a smartass with a lot of anger and little direction.

I don't know what to say anymore. In general the book irked me with it's ambiguously vague answers about the Wrydmarks, the tyrannical kingdom, and the love triangle that never was.

Supposedly there are a few e-publications about what happens before this book and what led to her being in the salt mines. As a reader? WAY TOO MUCH EFFORT TO GET THE BACK STORY. I wasn't overtly curious about it either. It was more obnoxious that there were tiny tidbits hinted every few pages about how awesome she was and then she spent the rest of the time being totally dumb. It got to the point where I just wanted the book to shut up or tell me. Seriously. That's cool that you're trying to create an elaborate story, but I really don't care. If you want it to be a part of the series then you should try including it in your first PUBLISHED book. HERRO LOGIC. I'VE NEVER SEEN THAT BEFORE. HURK.


I was kind of all over the place on this one. So overall reaction: Kind of bored. Not a memorable experience.

Happy reading!

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

So, my first encounter with this book was it being deposited neatly in front of me by someone whom I trust dearly to give me excellent books.

I saw the cover, had a slight tremor of fear, read the back, and grew a little suspicious.

But I trusted them, so I took the plunge and read it.


I'm going to say it right now and predict that this should easily be as popular and awesome as Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If it doesn't reach that point, I weep and throw things at the literary community. Mostly throw things.


So the amazon summary of the book so you can properly embark on the journey with me, "When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp.  Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living."


Again, one of the horrible things about the summary is that it hints at East River which we manage to stumble in near the halfway mark. I will forever hate it when book summaries reveal more than a quarter of the book's plot. Forever hate.

Here's my summary. Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, expecting a birthday celebration but is instead carted off to a camp for children. The other children in her class at school have begun to die from a disease referred to as IAAN which is lethal once puberty begins. Some kids manage to survive the disease, but they're forever changed. They develop abilities that put them into different color groups; Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, and Green. Each color refers to a different talent that develops; red is never explicitly explained but are hinted at to have something to do with fire, orange centers around affecting other's minds, yellow has to deal with electricity, blue has to deal with telekinesis, and green has to deal with the inner working of the mind such as logic puzzles and photographic memories.
Ruby has survived the disease so far and is carted off to camp to be sorted into one of these colors. It is hinted that she can see other's memories in the beginning and she manages to convince the sorter that she is a green since greens appear harmless. She doesn't know what she is and doesn't want to explore her abilities to figure it out for fear of punishment.
The camp itself kept reminding me of the holocaust camps, but a little more humane. They were separated by colors, gender, and age group; kept on a strict routine schedule; given meaningless tasks to perform; had different procedures performed on some of them in search of a cure; but they were fed, clothed, allowed three minute showers, and had bunk beds to sleep in. The camp is just described as very inhumane and almost as if the children are animals. Oh yeah, all of the camps residents are children except for the adults who police them. The adults carry guns and a device that emits a frequency that causes extreme pain to their mutated brains.
Ruby has a friend, Sam, whom after an incident, Ruby accidentally erases every memory Sam has of her from her mind. Ruby also has a terrible side effect of headaches whenever she accidentally uses her ability.
Luckily, Ruby is noticed by an anti-government force that gets her out; but once she's out Ruby notices that everything isn't quite as it seems and escapes from them. In her escape, she stumbles across Liam, Zu, and Chubs; children who have escaped from another camp.

I'm going to stop there simply because it was a lot of summary.

Here's what I need to discuss.

The characters were lively, believable, distinctive, and downright creepy sometimes. The world building was astounding as it takes place in the USA and shows how the society slowly decomposes when it starts to lose it's children. I find it slightly annoying that it was stated at one point that Mexico and Canada had built walls in an attempt to keep the disease out, but I wanted to see the disease happen in other parts of the world as well. There were a lot of specific details worked out so that I wasn't curious about anything that I shouldn't have been curious about while I was reading it.

There were some very specific details about different locations in the West Virginia, Virginia areas that I have no way of knowing are accurate barring visiting the places. But as a resident of Michigan, the story felt realistic in the details it provided of the settings.

Sometimes, sometimes I found Ruby to be a little obnoxious with how petrified she was of herself; but based on the beginning of the book this was well-founded ingrained fear. She had six years in that camp to become so scared.

There were also a lot of little details put into place in the early stages that came back into play later on. I appreciate that immensely.

The violence and precise language of the book portrayed a grim picture of what Ruby's life had become. I found it very fitting considering her situation and her experiences, but this would make me much more hesitant to recommend it to younger readers; say 12 or younger. There are some uncomfortable parts, some gruesome parts, and some stuff that should probably be left for high schoolers.

Now I'm going to make a brief visit to SPOILER LAND as there's something that's nagging me about this story. Don't read the following if you don't want the end of the book ruined for you. I MEAN IT.

So at the end of the story, Liam, Chubbs, and Ruby manage to escape the East River camp and track down Jake's father (Jake took a bullet protecting Chubbs so Chubbs could escape). Chubbs goes up to the father's door step armed with Jake's letter that Liam asked him to write just in case. Jake's father answers the door, goes into a fit of rage, and shoots Chubbs. This spirals into Ruby signaling the anti-terrorist organization for help and hoping to get Chubbs to safety. THEN EVERYTHING ESCALATES EVEN QUICKER.

Once Chubbs, Liam, and Ruby are taken away, Ruby wakes up in a room to find that she's been isolated from the others and Cate (the woman who originally saved her from camp) comes in and seems to gloat slightly about helping her and how Ruby will be a great asset to them, blah blah blah. Ruby is all ON ONE CONDITION LET MY PEOPLE GO (LOL, not really), she really goes, LET LIAM GO. Cate begins to get all flustered like LIAM WILL COMPROMISE US. HE KNOWS WHERE WE ARE NOW. BLEH. So Ruby goes a little bonkers and removes every memory that Liam has of her so that he can go free and she'll stay.

Now what drives me up the wall about crap like this, UP THE FREAKING WALL. Ruby removed all of Liam's memories about her. WHY DIDN'T SHE FREAKING REMOVE CATE'S MEMORIES OF HER. Why didn't she just make Liam, who is a blue, help her escape? There is a vague notion that she'll stay to free Chubbs, but really? I was pretty damn convinced he was dead before he was carted away. Ruby fell into the "I'M TRAPPED IN A CORNER, BUT I'LL MAKE THE BEST OF IT; AREN'T I CLEVER? *DOES SOMETHING DUMB*" syndrome. I SHAKE MY FIST. SHAKE IT.

Despite this weird, seemingly slap-happy-I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing-anymore-please-just-end-book-one-so-I-can-get-to-book-two end of the book; there is still so much going on in the world that I really want to see what happens. She's nicely set up a weird government plot on top of strange disease plot on top of romance plot on top of finding Zu one day plot on top of other things I'm probably failing to mention plot.

I believe this is the first one in a series, and I am eager to read any following books.

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cheesy Potatoes

So, I made a batch of really good cheesy potatoes and am going to share the recipe.

The recipe:

-2 lbs frozen hash browns (I use the diced kind)
-1/4 cup butter
-1 (10 1/2 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
-1 cup sour cream
-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup diced onion
-2 teaspoons of crushed garlic cloves (Alternatively, garlic salt/powder could work as well, I just like fresh garlic)
-1/2 teaspoon of Ms. Dash Garlic and Herb (If you don't have this, you can use an Italian herb blend instead, or a combination of parsley and oregano.)

1. Defrost potatoes, melt butter, and mix together all ingredients, except for 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
2. Spread evenly in a 9x13 baking dish.
3. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

I also put aluminum foil on top of mine for the first half hour to prevent the cheese from getting weird. Sometimes I leave it in the oven a little longer if the potatoes weren't quite defrosted all the way.

In the picture is actually a double batch of this recipe. That's what happens when you take it to a Holiday party. You need to make a lot! The potatoes were a hit as I didn't take any home.

Happy holidays and happy reading! :)

Baking in the oven. Like a beast of delicious.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Crown of Embers

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

....Everyone sigh. Let's just get it over with.

YES, I read the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns. My review for that is here.

YES, I do regret that decision. SO MUCH.

So let me tell you about it a little bit.

I picked up The Crown of Embers because it was right there on the shelf, and I had a moment of extreme weakness. My general thoughts were, "Well, the first one is still fresh in my mind, and I guess the character developed at the end, so maybe if the character remains kind of strong, I'll be okay...maybe....*extreme inhale of breath and grabs book* OH GOD WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE I'LL HATE THIS."

...I should just go with my gut. Seriously.

So I powered through this book, and I won't provide an Amazon summary because it doesn't deserve it.


So The Crown of Embers picks up vaguely where The Girl of Fire and Thorns leaves off. Elisa is struggling to balance her political power versus the Qurom (The Qurom is a group of five that is the central leaders of the country), a couple Qurom members seem to be after her, and her country is falling into despair because of the excessive neglect it seems to be under.

Elisa is dumb. She's completely lost all her confidence and strength and focuses more on appeasing people and trying to corner them into doing things. Sometimes she out maneuvers them, sometimes she is out maneuvered.

Also, Elisa spends the entire book being like, "...I think I like Hector? Do I like Hector? I don't know, I'll just keep staring at him and admiring him a lot. ...DO I LIKE HECTOR?" It's stupid dumb.

Elisa also embarks on a more spiritual quest because she's got the god stone in her navel still. It's drivel that doesn't make a whole lot of sense and is ignored until the last portion of the book.

This really was not a satisfying read by any means.

The book seems to go like this, "Oooo look at Elisa and her uncertainties with being a Queen and ruling her people, oooo look at all the crap that her people are going through but who cares, oooo Elisa MIGHT like Hector, oooo assassination attempt on Elisa's life that she recovers from really quickly and is not traumatized at all from (THIS WAS JUST A TOOL TO GET THE PLOT MOVING WITH HECTOR LOLOLOL), oooo spiritual quest? and ooo I might have to negotiate with Cosme, but we'll just deal with Belen instead because that's safe." LIKE WHAT. WHAT IS THIS. BOOK, YOU DRUNK. GO HOME.

So let me break it down for real.
Book starts with Elisa going on a parade for her birthday (it's tradition, it's also OVERLY noted that she's ONLY seventeen. ...whatever book, just whatever). During the parade, an animgus (however you spell it, feeling lazy) sorcerer makes a scary threat and blows himself up by exploding in the middle of a crowded area. The citizens FREAK OUT because those were the sorcerers that demolished the city last time. OMFG WTF all over the place. Elisa tries to get back into the palace only to discover that her Qurom lords have locked it down and shut all the people out as well. She's outraged, gets in through a super secret passage and let's her people in to safety. Then she's all huffy to the Qurom lords but listens to their council and things just start to go downhill. They're pressuring her to marry politically for the country and she's all BUT I MIGHT LOVE HECTOR, I DON'T KNOW YET, and has a bunch of weird moments of AM I PRETTY?   Then she retreats to the catacombs to speak with her dead husband because it comforts her to be that 'alone' and someone tries to kill her. Chaos ensues and she recovers speedily for the injury that she was dealt; the physician believes it's because of the god stone.

Then a bunch of just drivel happens where she's trying to be tactful, full of strategy, yet despite how logical and precise her actions are, she's an emotional and unsure mess. She's lost all the strength that she had in the dessert. She's almost too stupid to live. AGAIN.

Then at the end of the book she has an epiphany of sorts and makes this moment where 'EVERYTHING COMES TOGETHER' just so the book can end and we're still left with the same crisis as it was in the beginning of the book. She's still a weak queen, her country is still in turmoil, but SPOILER LAND LOLOL she has pronounced that she's engaged to Hector as he's carted away by the animagi sorcerers who are going to hold him for ransom over the queen.

Elisa also has a lot of weird 'GIGGLE, I'M A GIRL' moments. Her hand maids tease her that she's lost in the arts of the heart (which she is) but she basically has pulled all sorts of wool over her eyes. ALL THE TIME. She begins to wonder what it would be like to bed someone and crap like that. Unnecessary things.

However, she did manage to make a good alliance with another lord who she pretended to be betrothed to. She was considering actually marrying him until she came across him in the gardens with one of his servants. It turns out the lord is gay, very few people know, and it was nice that Elisa was like, "Well, now he won't marry me damn it" instead of flipping out because he's gay.

That was cool.

...I guess I just detested this book. But now it's become the nasty car crash in my reading world. I'll read the THIRD BOOK (WHY ARE THERE THREE) just to end the horror and to know how it ends.

If you haven't read any of them yet, just don't. There are much better books out there to read.

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Peculiars

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

First, an amazon summary: "This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance.On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears." AMAZON LINK JUST 'CAUSE

Somehow, that REALLY screwed up the formatting right there. Um. Moving on.

So I would first like to say that this story is a thinly veiled discovery story that tries to answer the question of Nature vs Nurture. It goes back to the very beginnings of Darwin's discoveries and society's attitude towards it.

First there is Lena who is raised by her Mother and Grandmother in an environment where her long hands and feet are something to be despised and hidden because they mark her as a 'Peculiar'. Peculiars are people who have some sort of genetic difference than the rest of the people; it could be long hands or feet, a funky nose, or even wings (more on that later). Peculiars are frowned upon and seen as soulless creatures that should be sent to the Scree.

The Scree is a land that is not ruled by the government persay, but a place where a lot of outlaws and Peculiars are sent. Peculiars usually end up working in the mines; work that is hard and undesirable, but I am getting ahead of myself.

So Lena is raised in a place where her hands are constantly hidden in gloves, her skirts are made specially in order to try and hide her feet. There is a lot to debate about whether her mother and grandmother tried to hide her because they were shamed by her differences, or if they hid her because they loved her and feared the rest of society.

Society seems to have the attitude that anyone who is Peculiar is soulless, evil, and known to be short of temper. The Peculiars seemed to be portrayed as angry people who try to do evil whenever they can and 'things' that must be feared. They remove any sense of personship from the Peculiar.

The adventure truly begins when Lena receives a letter from her Father; the man who left her when she was but five. She doesn't know much about her father other than what she remembers and her grandmother's occasional remark about his goblin blood. The letter has money in it and an abstract message. From the message, Lena decides that she must journey to the Scree in the hopes of finding her Father.

Now, I want to say something about the formatting of the book itself here. I extremely dislike how it was written in a third person perspective, yet we were informed of every thought, emotion, notion, that Lena contained. There was no mystery kept about Lena from the third person and everything we find of the other character's could have easily been revealed from first person. However, there are odd passages where Lena recalls memories that are written in first person; the memories are a much more satisfying read simply because it's what we've been reading all along; instead of 'Lena' all the time, it's 'I' sometimes. I found it maddening that the author probably thought they were clever by making it seem as if Lena was emotionally trying to distance herself from every situation she was in by writing in the third person; almost as if Lena was trying to remove herself from her own life. It's curious that her memories were in first person as they seem to be something she holds close and dearly and removes the third person perspective from as it's something she wants to remember, something she wants to keep close. But if that is the case, the entire book should not be written entirely in third person sans the memories; the book should shift to first person when the moment is right. Seriously. What the heck.

Moving on.

A side note, the technology of the world is steam-punk revolutionary. The story is set in an alternative 1800's yet uses some nuggets of historical facts to go along. It pretty much ignores most of history though and there is an implication that it could take place in a remote United States simply because of Darwin references, but it does seem to take place in a different made up country. The places we get to see are described well enough; but the country itself is obscure as far as government and even law enforcement go. There are things we are introduced to as far as 'Marshalls' and such go as the idea of law enforcement, but there are not guided or restrained by what we would consider laws or morals. There is too much that we are asked to simply accept as something we are familiar with and it is given characteristics we would not expect; it gives a weird feeling of being out of balance. It doesn't seem that this was intentional, but it could be given that the whole story is a little unbalanced.

So Lena has this adventure where she's introduced from her ingrained way of thinking about the Peculiars to understanding the true nature of each individual person; or at least trying to.

The adventure itself isn't particularly exciting or important; the 'hidden' messages are what the book is trying to make stand out.


If you have any intention of reading the book and want nothing ruined about it, please stop reading now.

So Lena first encounters the character of Jimson who is a man who fancies himself to be a scientist of sorts and is on his way to become a librarian despite having no previous experience. Lena is whole heartedly shocked by such a person as she's never encountered someone who has seen her hands before and who just seems curious about them; not disgusted, not scornful, just curious. She immediately frowns upon him for not being proper and is sure to point out how he is dressed and compares it to her own 'sensible' and 'dignified' clothing. She is further shocked out of her humble life by the freeing of a prisoner on the train that was set to go to the Scree. She arrives at the town, escapes the company of Jimson, finds herself a boarding room and with confused merriment, tries to find a guide to take her into Scree.

Instead, she finds a Marshall who has taken interest in her because of her Father. The Marshall is a complete creep by the way. Lena has many moments of 'too dumb to live' when she encounters the Marshall simply because he flirts with her and charms her. There are moments when she seems to be sightly unsettled but does an 'OH WELL, HE'S MARSHALL, HAHAHAHAHA' crap. She asks a stranger on the beach about a guide to Scree who introduces himself as Milo and directs her to two people. The first one doesn't matter because she's just the mother figure who doesn't do much to the story's benefit. The second one is Mr. Beasley. After a brief whatever encounter with the mother figure, she moves on to find Mr. Beasley who also happens to be the man that employed Jimson to be his librarian.

The tragedy of this is Lena starts as a sort of agent for the Marshall because she's suspicious of Mr. Beasley due to the Marshall and has a weird notion of civic duty. She spends time with Mr. Beasley and Jimson and the housekeeper, Mrs. Pollet. She learns to understand and begins to care for them despite her ridiculous notions from her upbringing but STUPIDLY still trusts that REALLY CREEPY Marshall. She discloses information to the Marshall which begins the downfall of Mr. Beasley.

Now Mrs. Pollet is married to Mr. Pollet; he dies from his injuries he received from falling off a ladder. It's revealed that Mrs. Pollet is actually a Peculiar who has had her wings removed. She also has two daughters; one of them died and the other is residing at Mr. Beasley's to have her wings removed as well. It turns out that Mr. Beasley helps Peculiars with his medical knowledge and helps them find refuge and gets them to where they want go with proper documentation and such. He's a one man underground railroad of sorts.

Mr. Beasley's a badass. Just saying. He's also an inventor who seems to have great faith in people, but also truly understands the nature of people even if they (Cough cough LENA YOU'RE A MORON cough cough) don't know themselves.

Blah blah blah the Marshall and his men bust in and try to arrest Mr. Beasley but Jimson, Mrs. Pollet's daughter, Mr. Beasley himself, and Lena all make off in a flying machine Mr. Beasley invented. They being their journey into Scree where things are a little weird BUT NOT OUT OF THIS WORLD JACKED UP.

I am so frustrated with the book's stance on Scree that it's a place to be feared, all of the crap is weird, omg there's so many weird things in the Scree, BLAH BLAH BLAH. THE ENTIRE BOOK IS LIKE OMG THE SCREE, WHAT DO? They get into the Scree and it turns out that yeah, things are a little weird, but there's still people and humanity and whatever despite other things. GEEZ, IT'S ALMOST LIKE THE BOOK WAS TRYING TO MAKE A SUPER OBNOXIOUS POINT.

One thing that absolutely annoys me to no end about this book is that the author wrote it as if everyone is an absolute moron that needs to be spooned VERY SLOWLY the ambiguous point of the story.

You know how there's that saying 'beating a dead horse' which is someone just obnoxiously repeating their point? This book acts as if the horse is so dead that it's a zombie horse which needs to be made sure it's dead all over again before repeatedly beating it. And since it might be a zombie, and oooo zombie horse, what the hell, let's just beat it up some more.

UGH. I almost didn't finish this book. I was so annoyed with it that I kept falling asleep on it. That's right, I get so mad at books I just angrily sleep at them. What.


So Lena has this moment where the missionaries; oh yeah there are missionaries who have been a side note reference throughout the book and suddenly come into play towards the end. LOLOLOL didn't see that coming... What's that horse? BEAT IT. BEAT IT NOWWW.

So the missionaries have gotten crapped on while they're trying to go into the deeper parts of Scree to save the souls who live among the soulless. They've gotten so crapped on that Lena's party stops to help them. Lena ends up hating them because they're all 'Oh, you're Peculiar? I knew there was something wrong with you, BLAH MISSIONARY NOISES'. Lena gets all mad and is like I DON'T ACT THE WAY I DO BECAUSE I'M PECULIAR, I ACT THE WAY I DO BECAUSE I'M ME AND NOT BECAUSE OF MY PARENTS OR ANYONE ELSE. NEHHH. The missionaries get all huffy and disregard her.

Little did they know that Lena just answered the question that she's maybe sort of been alluding to the entire book. THE ENTIRE BOOK FOR HER TO GET ONE ANSWER. RAHFDSHFDSFDSAFASDF.

They pull a 'everything works out in the end because Mr. Beasley is smart and can take care of things; HAHAHAHA MEN KNOW THINGS AND ARE THE ULTIMATE TOOL TO MAKE THE WORLD BETTER LOL' But I don't even want to talk about it. I just don't. The book is like, Women's rights? HA. No, that's something that doesn't exist. But Peculiars, AW YEAH. WHERE'S THAT HORSE?


So the book builds this weird boogey man crap about the Peculiars, but the only Peculiars we truly get to see are ones that have long hands/feet, and ones that have wings. There is a reference to one or two other things that may be Peculiar, but there's nothing that really implies the Peculiars are a diverse group. They toss around science like it's magic but it's not. So knock it off.

In summary, it took me way too long to read this damn book because I kept angry sleeping on it. I would wake up and realize I had much better things to do. Then I'd try to read it again, get about another fifty to sixty pages in and angry sleep on it again. Repeat until the book is done. It even ends with a sense of 'Everything turned out alright, we even snuck some romance in there HAHAHAHAHA' because only when someone truly loves you, you can accept yourself right? That's a terrible message and you should feel bad.

I didn't like this book. I'm going to recommend it to people that I want to stop asking me for book recommendations. Because I can. Maybe they'll angry sleep on it too. Maybe we can have a lively discussion of how atrocious the book was.

I really hope this isn't the first book in a series.

...happy reading SOMETHING ELSE.

That poor horse.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

If this book doesn't win some form of award, the literary world has clearly shoved it's head into the ground.

I just want to go on and on about how much I enjoyed Seraphina that I want to make sure I don't spoil anything. 

So here's the amazon summary, "In her New York Times bestselling debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, "Some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy."

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers.As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

First off, we're going to ignore that bit from Christopher Paolini. He can stick his head in the ground and leave it there. Someday I'll reread Eragon, be a fanatic about how awesome it was and then be all mad that the series continued to such weird places. I think Paolini wrote before he had a refined voice and that was his downfall. MOVING ON.  NOT HAVING A RANTY TANGENT.


Okay, okay, moving on. FOR REAL.

So I'm going to break down the amazon summary for ya, because I'm sweet like that.

When it says, "Four decades of peace" it means "Four decades of, 'I'M WATCHING YOU SO INTENTLY TO MAKE SURE YOU DON'T MOVE ONE CENTIMETER OUT OF LINE. BIGGOTRY EVERYWHERE." When it begins to describe the dragons as folding themselves into human shape, it sounds pretty damn creepy. But it's actually pretty neat.

Seraphina has one of the more colorful re-imagining of the 'typical' dragons that I've ever come across so far. AND I LOVE IT. This books dragons are almost like robots in human skins. They are very analytic and logical, yet are clever and miss out when sarcasm or humor is in play. The most truly astonishing thing is that Hartman seems to make the dragons an alienating species yet, as the reader, I became very sympathetic to them and ended up cheering or booing at them as I would any human. It was a pretty nifty experience. Although, reading is a great experience as the character of a being comes forward no matter what it might be housed in. PHILOSOPHY. WHEEEEEE.

Anywho, so Seraphina is half dragon half human and horribly upset about it. Understandably as her Father feels betrayed by her mother (the mom was the dragon, she died in childbirth) as he didn't know that she was a dragon. She is raised by her Father and Uncle Orma for the most part (Orma is a dragon who lives among the humans; he also has a penchant to wear fake facial hair while he's in human form (dragons can't have facial hair in human form-I don't know why)) and taught to hide her dragon half for fear of society's reaction. Being a half-dragon she has a weird mental side affects that go on. She has a mind-garden which she can reach through a form of meditation where a bunch of little avatars (about 17-18) run around and play for lack of better summary words. She needs to do the meditation daily or else she has seizure moments where she collapses under the weight of a vision. BUT I'M GETTING AHEAD OF MYSELF.

Seraphina herself is a wonderfully lovable character because she balances somewhere between logic and emotion. She navigates every situation based on social expectations, polite, and logic; yet she still acknowledges the emotions of not only herself but the other characters as well WHICH MAKES A MUCH MORE COMPLETE STORY.

Dear Rachel Hartman, you are the newest addition to my preferred authors list. PLEASE DON'T TURN OUT FOR LIKE PAOLINI. I swear, I'll leave it alone. Maybe.

So Seraphina finds herself in the middle of a lot of court gesturing between the humans and dragons because her Father helped with the treaty between the dragons and humans. She's also the court composer's assistant so she lives in the palace. She's also a damn good musician. She also runs into Prince Lucian Kiggs as she treks through town and begins a friendship with him. She gives music lessons to the Princess Glisselda. YAY. Not only can you love Seraphina just for being Seraphina, but there's not anything out of place or unexplained that doesn't have the promise of being explained.

The cast of characters that surround Seraphina are their own handful of awesome, the half-dragon stuff slowly but surely gets explained, and the world building is impeccable.

I'm honestly having a struggle trying to think of a better dragon book off the top of my head.

The nitty gritty stuff. ACTUALLY READING THE BOOK. The characters are distinct, unique, and emotionally reactive (as in you will emotionally react to them; don't be heartless on me). The book moves at a nice pace, and things aren't over explained or under-explained. I do admit that in the beginning, as I am wretched with names, I had trouble keeping track of who was who and where they went and WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN but I personally run into that with every story that gives out complicated names and lots of them. I'm a good reader, I PROMISE.

I want to go back to the dragons for a moment. In the beginning of the story, Prince Rufus is found to be murdered by having his head severed and nowhere to be found. Apparently, the dragons were notorious for biting the heads off of humans and so a lot of suspicions were directed to the dragons. The dragons themselves acknowledge the blood thirsty part of their nature, but it's almost like it doesn't matter that sometimes they get a little murder-y; for lack of better terminology; they're people too!

Hartman also introduces a creature I've never heard of before; quigutl. I'm going to yank the definition from the glossary in the back of the book: "subspecies of dragon, which can't transform. They are flightless; they have an extra set of arms and terrible breath. Often shortened to 'quig'." I absolutely loved the quig as they were quirky, built little gadget trinket things out of metal, and seemed to be the source of technology for their world. YET, the quig were completely disregarded by everyone as a manner of vermin of sorts. It was such a weird perspective that, yeah the quig can make useful objects as they please, but MAN THEY ARE JUST WEIRD. BETTER TREAT THEM LIKE CRAP. Not saying everyone treated them like crap, but most of society did. It was fascinating since it's the opposite of our current human society. ER, SOCIAL MUSINGS CAN STAY OUT OF BOOK REVIEWS. Anyways, the quig were kind of adorably disgusting, had their influence in the story, and I hope they come back in later books. There hopefully are more books coming in the series. THERE BETTER BE. I would be heartbroken if there weren't.

Err, so I think I meandered through a tangent. I really enjoyed this book. I used to be quite an avid fan of any book that even mentioned dragons, but I wandered away from the genre after the travesty that Paolini put me through. This book, this definitely gets me excited to see what else might have cropped up in my willful neglect of the genre.

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mystic City

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

I just finished the book. An amazon summary so I can process my reactions.

"Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself." Amazon Link

AHHHHHH IT WAS SOOOOO GOOD. Not only was it all, "HOLY CRAP ROMANCE. EVERYWHERE. WELL, ROMANCE WITH A HINT OF AMNESIA BUT WHATEVER" but it also had fantasy elements to it and oh my goodness. Just OH MY GOODNESS.

So first, the setting. Mystic City takes place in future Manhattan. The world has been crapped on by global warming and the Earth is slowly being flooded. I am under the impression that a lot of cities are now like Venice in the sense that they have channels of water between all their buildings and just everywhere. I'm assuming it takes place like fifty or so years from now, but to my knowledge they never stuck a year on the story. But that's okay.

So Manhattan has been split into two by the ruling families of the Fosters and the Roses. Their giant political families and it sounds startling like Romeo and Juliet. I want to talk about that.

So for those of you who don't know, Romeo and Juliet is a famous tragic love story that centers around two warring families; the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo falls in love with Juliet, and they meet in secret as Juliet falls in love with Romeo. A bunch of horrible things happen and they eventually agree to meet and run away together. Juliet fakes her death in order to escape her family, and Romeo actually thinks she's dead, goes to her body, cries a bunch, and poisons himself dead. Juliet wakes up all LOL JK NOT DEAD, ....ROMEO???? and is all WOE IS ME and stabs herself with Romeo's dagger.

...let's just hope Aria doesn't wind up like Juliet. really. That should not happen.

When Aria is still like, "Oh my god amnesia, what can't I remember" she discovers love letters in her drawer. One of them compares Aria and her lover to Romeo and Juliet and all the ones after that refers to them as "R." and "J." That, that makes me want to just gag. Just gag on everything. WHY, why would you want to be compared to lovers that kill themselves? It's not romantic, it's just a lot of suicide. First lover: "I CAN'T BE WITH YOU *murders self*". Second lover: "WHAT? YOU'RE DEAD? *murders self*" First lover: "LOL, I FAKED DEATH. WAIT, YOUR FOR REAL REAL DEAD? NOOOOOOOOO. I'LL MURDER MYSELF FOR REAL THIS TIME. I PROM PROM *murders self better*."

Really? Just, really?


When Aria is introduced, it's instantly known that she's lost her memories, engaged to Thomas Foster (in an effort to bring peace amongst their families that have mobster tendencies), and appears to have overdosed from Stic. Stic is a drug derived from the mystic's energies.

I might have just lost you. Um, okay back tracking.

This is a slight spoiler that I wish I had known MUCH MUCH sooner in the book. Mystics are humans with extra gifts; they have a sort of energy that courses through them that can be harnessed to do things. The non-mystic humans harvest that energy to fuel their city. Their energy can also be taken and made into a drug that is supposedly awesome but can kill you. Like burst into flames kill you. So, don't do that. Anyways, the mystics made themselves known to the world when USA President Truman was in office and helped to build major cities. Now they're treated like second class citizens, are required to register to get their energy harvested twice a year (which is incredibly painful and life-draining, literally), and live in a really crappy place.

The mystics are really cool and kind of mysterious and there's just a bunch of different things that get played into that in a neat way.

Moving on.

Aria is like, "Why can't I remember Thomas at all? What's happening?" and everyone is like, "Oh...I bet it's a side effect of you overdosing on Stic". She's like "Ohh....why can't I remember Thomas at all? What's happening?" but it's cool because she's not too dumb to live for long.

The whole plot of the book is kind of complicated (I stress kind of) and slowly unfolds and reveals itself. There are definitely moments where I wish I could have smacked Aria for being a bit clumsy with her mystery solving abilities, but there are other moments where I'm like, "Now she was just too smart right there." However, that didn't spoil the story for me oddly enough.

The technology of the world is interesting and all aptly named, most the explanations are pretty straight forward so it makes the book an easy and fast read.

I enjoyed Mystic City and from my understanding is that it's the first book in a trilogy. I would definitely like to read more.

Sorry this wasn't technically posted on December 8th, but I was very close dang it. I got delayed by watching The Dark Knight Rises; no one can fault me for that. ...NO ONE.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Today was not a day for reading.

Sorry folks, I have not finished a book today. I'll be finishing up one to post tomorrow, so I'll provide an explanation of why they delay.

I had three hours of sleep last night.
I invested time into my professional life.
I saw good friends and celebrated a birthday.
I spent time enjoying the company of people I care about.

The book can wait one more day.

Thanks for your patience.

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Daughter of the Centaurs

Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo (Ross?)

The amazon summary to get my bearings: "Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them. 
Kate Klimo has masterfully created a new world, which at first seems to be an ancient one or perhaps another world altogether, but is in fact set on earth sometime far in the future." Amazon Link

First off, I need to talk about how this book read. It's in third person, centers around Malora, and was thick like a history book. The humor in it's pretty subtle, but if you give the book a chance, it picks up. Malora reads at first as a child that's curious about things before she seems to develop the attitude of 'I have learned enough, now let me be a grown up.'

This all takes place in the future, but in a future that's without electric technology. Think the stone age, but they have books left over from our time.

The story picks up as her town where the People live (humans) are attacked by Leatherwings; creatures that have human heads, and basically the bodies of giant killer birds. I imagined vultures, but I'm not entirely sure if that's accurate.

Anyways. So the men are first killed by the Leatherwings who swoop down upon them after they are returning to the village after a hunting excursion. Malora witnesses their deaths and one horse survives, Sky, and Malora brings it back to the village tells them what she saw. Soon, the bones of the dead men and horses begin to sprinkle into the village a little bit a day. Really freaking creepy. The village tries to protect themselves, but after being slowly picked off, Malora's mother sends her off into the Plains to survive. Malora's mother forbids her from returning to the village.

Malora lives with Sky and she slowly accumulates more wild horses before she's traveling with a herd of horses. She beings to long for the village, and against her mother's wishes returns. She discovers that the village died as they poisoned themselves and offered their poisoned bodies to the Leatherbacks. Malora discovers many Leatherbacks dead next to humans.

While Malora is up in the remains of her village, the centaurs have closed in as they want her herd of horses. The centaurs manage to capture her, and end up bringing her back to their home.

That is when it got REALLY tedious for me to read. I think too much time was spent on the centaurs going "GASP, A HUMAN?!?!" at her and not enough time on them being freaking centaurs. The book seemed to drag us through the damn mud when she reached the home of the centaurs for too long. In truth I have been reading this book for three days because I struggled to get through the middle section so much. Then it finally moves on to more interesting things that would be all the spoilers.

Something I would like to touch on is that while Malora is being educated by being taught how to read and write as well as mathematics, a character lists off the greatest romance writers of all time (in her opinion) and FREAKING INCLUDES STEPHANIE MEYER. NO. NO NO NO. NOOOOO. While I will admit I was a sucker for the series, that by no means makes it good writing. FREAKING PANTS.


Anyways. ...but still URGH.

So with this book, if you enjoy the discovery of culture stories, third person writing, and horses; this would be a good book for you. I tend to stray away from the overly-accurate historical fiction books, but this is new fiction. I mean, I really want to know what happened that drove the humans back from their technological advances that they clearly reached at one point to the stone age. Was there an ice age? A plague? Had the centaurs murdered everyone smart? What happened? Sadly, none of those questions are answered.

This is book one of a series, and perhaps when I can invest a few days into reading the second book, I will pick it up. But at the moment, I'm not entirely interested.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

This is definitely a very creative re-imagining of the fairy tale Cinderella. I kind of like it. Kind of. My understanding is that Cinder is the first book in a series which is going to embark on re-imagining many fairy tales all in the same world. Much like Fables by Bill Willingham sans the graphic novel part. I don't know if I appreciate the modernization of the fairy tale knowing what is supposed to happen according to the true fairy tale. I digress.

So Cinder takes place in the future where cyborgs, androids, hovering cars, and Lunars run rampant. Cinder is the narrator, and she is a cyborg. She is an orphan, adopted by a man who dies shortly after adopting her, and she has no memory of before she was eleven.

There are many stories within this story.

The first story is about Cinder herself; her life, goals, dreams, and the weird tangled mess she eventually finds herself in.

The second story is about the world itself and it's ongoing struggle with a plague that Earth cannot find a cure for.

The third story is about the impending war between Earth and the Moon. The moon has been populated by people who have become 'Lunars'. Lunars look like humans, but due to their lives on the moon, they have adapted a unique ability to manipulate the bio-electric signatures of people in different ways.

There are many more mini-stories that take place within the story of Cinder, but I will probably not touch on them as it would most likely require me to recount the entirety of the plot of Cinder. Let's say it together, SPOILER LAND!!! I'm going to try and not take a trip to spoiler land with this book as it's very intricate.

So a little back story on the world in which Cinder takes place.

Cinder seems to live in what used to be known as China; the city she lives in is called New Beijing but the country is known as the Commonwealth. There are twelve provinces of Commonwealth. There are six countries in the world which I suspect we will learn more about as the series goes on and different stories take place in different countries or parts of the world. They still call it Earth which is nice and grounding. Technology is very present in Cinder's world; Cinder herself is a Cyborg who is less than 75% human. Androids are common place and given false personalities they can extensively develop over time. Their cars hover and no longer rely on combustion to transport. In the Commonwealth there is still a monarchy.

So Cinder is adopted into a family where her stepmother Andri despises her as she doesn't know why her deceased husband adopted a cyborg of all things. On a sidenote, cyborgs are treated as second class citizens; there is a lot of negativity towards cyborgs in general. Everyone on Earth is also hateful and horribly opposed to Lunars. Yay class-ism and racism covered! MOVING ON.

So her adopted mother and adopted sisters (Pearl and Peony) are kind of terrible to her, except Peony actually is her only 'human friend'. Cinder interacts with an android called Iko. Cinder's life seems to perk up when Prince Kai visits her booth and requests she fixes an old android for him due to it's sentimental value. They kind of have a nice conversation that's filled with lots of cheery smiles before Prince Kai has to return to his princely crap. Cinder goes home, gets yelled at by her step mom to fix things, and sets off to the scrap yard to do so while being accompanied by her sister Peony. Cinder's life gets turned upside down when her sister Peony contracts the plague while at the scrapyard with Cinder. Peony is taken away and miraculously Cinder is plague free. Did I mention Cinder is a mechanic? Man this book is complicated.

That's enough summary.

So I kind of liked how a lot of details in this book really tied together if you were paying attention to the smaller details. I kind of liked how the characters were truly different from each other. I sort of kind of liked the book.

There were some elements of the book that I just wasn't on board for (and no I will not go to spoiler land to reveal those elements). There was also a GIANT moment at the end of the book where it was kind of like a "Whoops, did I forget to mention THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT OF THE BOOK THAT WILL TIE EVERYTHING TOGETHER? HELLO?" It was pretty damn obnoxious. It was tried to be played off by the character being all 'Hurk durk, I'm forgetful LOLOLOL' but really dude? NOT COOL.

I suppose all in all I wouldn't necessarily recommend Cinder unless you're head over heels for fairy tales. Than hey, have at it. I would warn you that the tale doesn't closely follow with Cinderella yet, but it might tie back in with the future books. I would say that it was a very nice future dystopia read if you can read it purely in that sense. There's also something that's just kind of neat about being able to pop a foot off and replace it with a new foot.

I did not get all the technology jargon that was thrown around, but I did not find that hindering to my reading. There were a lot of times where I would have found a moment in the book to make much more of an impact if the emotions of Cinder had been expounded on.

The book kind of flat lined for me overall.

Happy reading!

I do not own the image that I used in this blog post. Please do not sue me. I used it purely as a reference in which it would be clear as to which novel I wrote about.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I have to take a moment and put my serious face on. Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler deals with the serious subject matter of self-mutilation in the aspect of taking a razor blade to the skin. If that subject matter is uncomfortable or is not of interest to you, I suggest not reading this review.

Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

I would like to say again, that if the subject matter of self-mutilation makes you uncomfortable or is not of interest to you, I suggest not reading this review.

I have to state a few things to get my buzzing mind a little more focused.

1. I did not know that Rage was a sequel to Famine but would be intrigued to read it. That being said, I believe that Rage could easily be read and understood without reading the first book. Also, it seems that Rage is the second book in a series of four.
2. I think Rage was a very interesting read for me because it dealt with the topic of self-mutilation. Being a quirky person myself, I've met quite the variety of people in my life with various quirks. I've known a few cutters very well and have never truly understood the motivation or thoughts that go into it. I can hear them, try to understand, but it is something that I have not partaken in nor do I plan on ever doing so. Rage illustrated a much more intimate picture of the notions, environment, and beliefs that fall into it.
3. I'm not one to know much about Christian beliefs, this book deals with the forming of the four horse men, in particular the horse men War. There might be a lot of religious connotations that I missed, but I believe I've grasped the basic concept of the four horse men story. If I'm not mistaken, the four horse men lore says that when the four horse men are united and ride together, they usher in the apocalypse. That's probably the most simple way to put it, but that will suit my purposes.

NOW THAT I HAVE ALL THAT OUT OF THE WAY.  That was a lot of serious face. URGH.

Moving on.

Rage centers around Melissa Miller, a sixteen year old soccer player that likes to wear a lot of black, is trying her damnedest to be the starting goalie for her soccer team, and is a cutter. Melissa goes by Missy, has a sister Sue, and two workaholic parents that have never been to one of her soccer games. At school, Missy is friends with Erica whom she tolerates but minimally participates in conversation with, and an ex-boyfriend Adam who has seen her scars from her cutting and shared that information with the school. He's one of the most whoorribleist characters I've come across in a book in a bit. Adam is a jerk. He's a jerk that publicly shames Missy whenever he can, and gets his troupe of friends to participate in the ridicule. Grade A obnoxious character.

The book begins with a prologue of sorts; it is revealed that Missy killed her cat and Death tells her she has blood on her hands. He gives her a white box and she slams the door on his face and shoves it on the top shelf of her closet, completely weirded out by what happened.

The book is rather short but packs a powerful story. I'm only going to discuss the first forty pages or so.

Basically, the story progresses and we are enabled to see that crap life that Missy has at school, the daily punishment her peers dole out and the emotional build up that eventually leads to her cutting herself craving the release. It seems to be that Missy cuts herself for control over her emotions, although she seems to have a very precise control over her actions and words. So the story begins to get more intense as Erica invites her to a party, which Missy reacts indifferently to with the secret decision not to go. Then Adam invites her with a tempting kiss and Missy melts a bit and decides to go. At the party, she sees Erica, listens to her for a bit before moving on and Adam swoops in on her. He kisses her and one thing leads to another and they're up in a bedroom. Adam basically commands Missy to get naked and she agrees as she flushed with lust. After she's completely naked and has a notion that Adam has accepted her finally, he tells her to pose for her. She does, and that's when all the other party goers burst in and snap pictures and videos of her naked body. Mortified doesn't begin to describe the situation.

Shortly after that event, Missy flees home and cuts herself, but she cuts too much in her emotional frenzy. She begins to die, and with death's encouragement, she manages to get the sword of War from her closet shelf and thus begins her journey to be one of the four horse men.

It would seem a little morbid to say that I liked this book, but I thought it was an understanding portrayal of one person's story with self-mutilation. Every person has a different story as to why they self-mutilate, and I think Missy's story is not only a good teaching story about bullying and the affects of bullying, but also a good teaching story about how to cope with the various forms of anger.

I'd recommend this book for those interested in the subject matter, and I know I spent a lot of time talking about the self-mutilation aspect of the book, but there is a lot more that centers around the aspect of her journey of trying to become War. The more fantastical elements of the book were easy to understand and the suspension of disbelief was easy despite some of the subject matter.

Again, I do not own the image I used above; I am merely using it to illustrate the subject matter in which I wrote about.