Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Breaths before chaos

NaNoWriMo begins in 45 minutes.

Every year it seems I get wound up with breathless anticipation until the final minute strikes midnight on October 31st, marking the birth of November 1st.

The beginning of NaNoWriMo, words always just seem to spin out across the pages.

I don't expect to sleep until 6am, if I'm lucky.

The thing I find about being a storyteller by nature, is that until the great story is told, the spirit cannot rest. I've felt a bit uneasy or hesitant since this story began in my head and it's only brought delight as I've managed to sketch characters and put sparse plot points and specific setting details to pages.

I hope that either you can appreciate NaNoWriMo or that you might even participate in NaNoWriMo but at midnight, I'll be creating another world.

Happy writing. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


National Novel Writing Month. OH BOY!!!

For a cool breakdown or a place to get some questions answered, please refer to this website: NaNoWriMo

So National Novel Writing Month is November, which means that the writers of the world sometimes attempt to write a whole novel within a month. On the link I placed above, there is a website that helps to keep track of a word count, and the word count goal is to hit 50,000 words by the end of November. So when it hits 11:59PM on November 30th; 50,000 words. Done. URMAGAWSH.

So I've been participating in NaNoWriMo every year since 2005 and have 'won' every year. I haven't tried to get any novels published yet because I always find a litany of complaints with every story I've ever put to screen or paper. Also to give a bit of a boast, I do have a Bachelor's Degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Central Michigan University. Har har, I picked a major I like and will probably live in a box someday. NOT YET THOUGH! I minored in Business Administration, so I can prove I'm good with words and numbers on a fancy piece of paper! ...moving on....

So for the month of November I will be trying to post every day that I write (sometimes I write more on days because I know the next day I will be unable to write) with my word count, and whatever is happening in the story. Or my life. Or a rambling. I don't know yet. At the very least, I will post my word count.

If you do not want to read about my NaNoWriMo ramblings, please ignore my blog until December 1st. It will resume to be sane at that point and I will probably pick up books by December 5th to plunge into and review.

Happy writing!


Fever by Lauren DeStefano

I'm going to cheat because I'm still reeling from the last chapter. I also made myself partially deaf by shrieking, "What? WHAT!? NO! WHAT?!?!?"

So here's the amazon synopsis of Fever: "The second book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy reveals a world as captivating—and as dangerous—as the one Rhine left behind in Wither.
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they left behind. Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured again…or worse. The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and men die at age twenty-five, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever."

And now my formatting of this post is all screwed up. Two minute fix. Dum de dum dum. Okay, moving on.

This is the book description we are given, and I like how ambitiously vague it is. This is what a book description should be; exciting, kind of gives you some of the basics of what to expect from the book, doesn't reveal most of the major plot, and the mystery of what it isn't telling is enticing.

So onto the actual story.

I thought this was a good follow up to Wither as (IF YOU HAVEN'T READ WITHER AND WANT TO, STOP READING NOW, THIS WILL BE SPOILERS FOR IT) it began right where Wither left off.

It starts with Gabriel and Rhine ditching their boat and making it to land, as they find themselves a little lost as to exactly where they are, they notice some lights and head towards them after a little debate. Once they reach the lights they discover it's a ferris wheel and are seized by the people who control it. They've stumbled across a red light district. Madame takes Rhine and makes her into 'Goldenrod', drugs her, and lets her perform with Gabriel (although it's alluded that they only kiss and let people watch them). As Rhine is the narrator and she's drugged, this section of the book is rather unclear. They meet quite a cast of characters in their time at the carnival red light district and I don't want to say much more except that the story unfolds beautifully. I think there are times where I went "WHAT THE HECK" at Rhine because she gets into small traps of 'WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? HUR DUR HUR" that everyone seems to face when they know they're going to do (Rhine at age 20). I mean, it was good to ponder but...what?

I also felt that the book largely focused on: YAY WE ESCAPED FROM THE MANSION, Now we should find Rowan, CRAP WE SHOULD REALLY FIND ROWAN, Meh adventures and discovering who else is in this world around us.

Also there was a scene with Tarot card reading that was all 'prophesy DOOM' that I could have done without. Fever didn't need anything whimsical to it; there were already plenty of hallucinations from drugs and such.

Also, GOING TO SPOILER LAND, there are a few medically oriented scenes towards the end of the book that deals with gross things. I am a person who can't stand to watch medical shows because of the bodies and surgery and I'm getting goose bumps thinking about it. But I read this book and had little difficulty weathering through some of the more intense imagery.

I can't wait to see what happens in the third book. :) Happy reading!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

So I went to the library...

 I went to the library today and ran into a few folks I know (HI!!!) before I wandered around a bit on the first floor. Somehow, during my browsing I managed to get a child. As I went over to checkout, the little girl followed me (she was probably between 5-7) and I kindly asked the librarian, "This child isn't mine, is there a place she can wait for her parents to get her?"

The librarian looked a little stunned and the girl promptly informed her, "I came here with my sister!"

I managed to check out my books (self checkout systems are still a little freaky) and the girl seemed to be sassing the librarian. It was a bit funny.

And I know it's close to NaNoWriMo, but I only picked up one novel and a few graphic novels. I should have them finished by November 1st. Happy reading AND writing. OOOO. ;)

Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Wow. Just finished reading it, I had to stay up to finish it as it was a true page turner.

The heroine is Araby Worth (on a sidenote, I also read books with male narrators, I just seem to be on a streak of female narrators lately) who lives in a world overrun by a plague. I mistook this for the black plague at first, but it seems to be a rather steampunk unspecified time setting. I say steampunk as there are carriages that run on coal, but there are no horses (as the plague wiped them out). They also have ships which are run on steam, but I'm unsure as to what era the story is supposed to exist in. Or it might not be defined by era. It doesn't matter, because the story rocks.

So Araby Worth is the daughter of the scientist who created the masks for people to wear. The masks filter out the contagion (plague) of the infection and protect the wearer. The plague seems to infect the people by sores spreading across their skins, rashes, etc, before they ooze pus. There is a Prince Prospero who seems to rule the part of the world we're introduced to in this story (a city and his castle) who has no regard for the well being of his people. He'll kill people for sport, keep people prisoner who interests him, and poisons people for whatever reason. Not a good guy.

Araby is trapped in the middle of a conflict between five men; her father who wants nothing to do with the prince, Will who works at the Debauchery Club (a club for the uncontaminated where they go to party and participate in unsavory things, such as sex and drugs (no sex scenes in this novel, drug scenes though)), Elliott who is the nephew to the prince (but he hates the prince for murdering his father), the horrible Prince Prospero, and the Reverend Malcontent (who seems hell bent on killing everyone, no spoilers (his reasoning is revealed MUCH MUCH later in the book).

Araby, being the daughter of the scientist who invented the masks, is sought after by Elliott because she can hopefully get the blueprints for the masks so he can mass produce them for everyone. She is sought after by Will because he seems to have fallen in love with her (and she potentially with him) through her visits to the Debauchery Club (where he is a kind of doorman for). Her father wants to keep her safe from the prince, the world, and everything that might harm her because he loves her (she's his daughter, come on). The Prince because he wants to ensnare both her father and mother via the love they have for their daughter. Reverend Malcontent I won't say why because of SPOILERS.

Really, I was ensnared in this book because it was fascinating to see a depiction of society that kind of crumbled from the plague. It was utterly horrifying at some points, but Araby leads the readers bravely through. I feel like I've said much of the plot without saying much about the book. The book is also tightly woven with secrets and as more secrets are discovered, more questions can be asked. But I don't find it frustrating that I have more questions as I feel that enough answers have been revealed to give me a partial picture as to what's happening. I think I have the surface of the world/problem/plot figured out, but it's going to take another book to figure out the underbelly.

With the way the book leaves off in the end, I can only assume that there is a sequel, or a sequel in the works. I found this book to be horrifying, thoughtful, and readable (because it's kind of gross sometimes, I mean plague with pus, YUCK). I'll be looking for to read the second book, but probably on an empty stomach.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Starters by Lissa Price

So, a summary to get my bearings.

Our heroine is Callie (16) who lives in a post apocalyptic world where the 'spore wars' have killed everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty; including her parents. They manage to vaccinate the surviving population. She survives with her little brother Tyler (7) and friendly Michael (16ish). When I say survive, I mean survive. They're constantly moving from abandoned building to abandoned building in an effort to escape the Marshalls. Marshalls are the law enforcement that bring in unclaimed minors (minors are anyone younger than 19) and put them in institutions where they're used for work. Institutions are essentially giant prisons for minors. Moving on.

Because of the spore war the people have essentially been split into two groups; the young and the enders. I don't know why they don't just call them elders, but perhaps it's because they can allegedly live until they're at least 250 years old.

So the story starts with Callie desperately trying to find a way to procure money as her brother, Tyler is sick. Something is wrong with his lungs. It leads her to Prime Destinations; a place where she can rent out her body. SOUNDS CREEPY. It is. But it's not prostitution. So, what happens is they place a chip in your brain, and your brain goes to sleep while someone else controls your body. Usually that someone else is an ender whose own body is falling apart with age or really, they're just not physically able to go swimming, mountain biking, partying, or whatever. There is a bunch of policies the renters have to follow to avoid injury to the body and what not, but they still do a bunch of crap they're not supposed to and pay the fee if they get caught.

This all sounds well and good, as the donors are paid large sums of money to donate their bodies, but it gets quite twisted. It doesn't get creepy with the body renting thing after you get a little used to the idea, and if you're concerned, it's against the rules for the renters to have sex in the bodies. There are very few qualms I have with the book, that they're not worth going into detail about.

I was deeply surprised and delighted as the story took on a more political and menacing aspect that took it much farther than I expected it to go. I am sincerely hoping for a sequel as I found Callie's character to be witty, courageous, and unashamed to be scared. She wasn't too stupid to die and kind of stomped down her own fears and did what she knew she had to do. The only thing I could wish for at this point, would be more book! I sincerely hope there is a sequel and would love to get my hands on it.

Also, this is the only not spoiler yet spoiler thing I will say, the last chapter really threw me for a loop and sent chills down my spine. It filled me with questions that I'm desperate to have answered in the next novel.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Reluctant Heiress

The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson (or as the book cover claims, it was previously published under the title of Magic Flutes)

First, here are the frustrations that I have with the summary of the back of the book:
"Being an heiress in 1920s Austria with nothing but a broken-down castle to your name and nary a penny in your purse could be frustrating for anyone but the Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. "Tessa," however, is thrilled with her situation, as it allows her to concentrate on her love of the arts - and no one in the Viennese opera company need know that their delightful and charming under-wardrobe mistress is really a princess. But when the dashing self-made millionaire Guy Farne arrives at the opera in search of suitable entertainment for his high society guests, Tessa realizes that there may be more to life - and love - than just music. But while the attraction between them in undeniable, Guy's insufferable snob of a fiance only solidifies Tessa's determination to keep her true identity a secret. Yet, after a chance meeting with the handsome Englishman, Tessa's reserve begins to melt, and she starts to wonder if it's not too late for a fairytale ending..." Found at Amazon because I get lazy sometimes. And sleepy.

The formatting might be a little weird on that, because I apparently can't master the concept of copy and paste.

The back of the book, yet again, ruins much of the allure of the book. Tessa didn't find out she was in love or realize she was in love until much past halfway through the book. That sentence was phrased poorly. Tessa doesn't realize until much later in the book that she's in love with Guy, it's a shame someone decided to include that upon the back of the book.

So, I have to admit that I'm a bit quirky in the sense that I love people who are in love. I mean, not the "OH ROMEO, I LOVE YOU, SO LET'S DIE" crap, but when people are filled with such passion and dedication that it's to the point of obsession (healthy or not, but preferably healthy) over something and not someone, well it's beautiful to me. Especially when the only goal they seem to possess besides doing everything they can for their love, is to simply share their love. I think that's what love should be described as in relation to something. But then again love can be SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS that it's impossible to define with a few words, or hundreds of words. That's why love is such a nifty idea.


Our heroine Tessa is in love with the opera, music, and anything that seems to move the soul through art in various forms. But what's more interesting is Guy. 
Guy is an orphan who was raised by Martha and even as a child seemed to possess some sort of extra energy about him. He got into fights with frequency but only quibbled when it was righteous. He grew to be an extraordinary man who fell in love when he went off to university. He had his heart broken, left university, and went about becoming a very successful and wealthy man who cares nothing for the frivolities of society and yet will partake in them when necessary.

Really, it was an interesting, romantic novel that dealt with adult issues behind closed doors and yet captivated a lot of youthful worries and troubles in it's few hundred pages. I liked it, it was well written for a romance novel, and the character of Guy was refreshing. SPOILER LAND. There was a scene in which Guy flings Tessa into a lake to stop a bear from harming her. As Tessa splutters up to the surface, Guy has tamed the bear and is escorting it away and simply leaves Tessa to fume in the lake. I laughed, so hard. Yep.

So in all, it was a cute, romantic novel. Pleasant even.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Wither by Lauren Destefano

Being a sucker for "weird things that happen to the human race that isn't necessarily doom but leads to the downfall and dismal trail of society becoming trashed", I had to pick up Wither.

The premise of the world for Wither is seemingly simple; they've cured cancer and essentially every genetically related ailment, but all the children of those who been 'cured'; well the females die at age 20 and the males die at age 25. They don't know why, the scientists are scrambling for a cure, and there's two movements that are hinted at but aren't really delved into.

So our heroine is Rhine; she's sixteen years old, and has a twin brother Rowan. Their parents were scientists from the cured generation. It's referred to as the "First Generation" (the cured generation). One day, Rhine is kidnapped from her brother and thrown into a van with a lot of other girls. The Gatherers have taken her. The Gatherers are people who take young women to be sold off as brides to the wealthy, or taken to brothels  or what have you; essentially human trafficking. Rhine is taken and is put into a line with the other girls and is forced to let men evaluate her and determine her worth. She is selected along with two other girls, and is forced into a limousine. Before she can quite make it in, she sees the other girls going back into the van and in horror, hears gunshots. The other girls have been killed.

Rhine is thrown through hurtles of being prepared to become a first generation's son's wife; along with the two other girls. The three of them are to be sister wives.

The story goes on for much longer and I'm sure there are lots of descriptions available online but that's all that's relevant that I'm going to talk about.

So, first things first; pretty sure I have a bit of a crush on this book. Pretty damn sure. Rhine is certainly an enigma as she withholds her true personality from her kidnappers but develops a tentative bond with her sister wives. The entire time of her imprisonment, she remains focused on returning to her brother, Rowan; but cannot help but begin to care for those that surround her. It's interesting how Rhine's story seems to be the epitome of what can be achieved in this society as a 'cursed' female and we see the seemingly 'common' stand point on how girls view being kidnapped and forced into marriage through the different attitudes of the sister wives.

I enjoyed the sense of it being a post apocalyptic world without a MAJOR world disaster. It seems that this book is the highest commentary on humans playing 'god' by trying to cure everything, and it dooms the human race to die out because they're not able to reproduce with a long enough life span to truly build on the ruins that their society is falling into.

I do like how Rhine is trapped in a mansion (wife to a wealthy first generation's son) and she sees the beauty within it but recognizes the illusion. It's as if even though there is so much beauty, she will never forget the value of freedom and feels bad for those that won't understand that they don't have freedom (like her husband). But then again, I wondered if Rhine realized what the freedom of the world meant outside the mansion without her brother Rowan.

All in all, I sincerely cannot WAIT to get my hands on the sequel. I enjoyed Rhine's narration, and how well rounded the character's attitude was. I enjoyed how we, as the reader, got to see everything from Rhine's perspective with seemingly nothing withheld while she didn't painstakingly drag out any particular moment for way too long. The pacing was perfect.

On a side note, at the end of my copy of Wither, there is a bunch of questions for a reading group guide which delighted me as I don't think they're common in the back of the book anymore. I also would suggest this to be a delightfully awkward book for high school freshman to read as it does cover sex, marriage, and also shows the grotesque side of pregnancy without having a first person narration of it. In a possible future world kind of way.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Darkness Falls

Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan

So I read the first book, Immortal Beloved recently and finally managed to get my hands on Darkness Falls, the sequel. Sadly, if you have not read the first book and would like it to not be spoiled, I would strongly recommend not reading this post and reading Immortal Beloved. If you would like to read Darkness Falls, I'll let you know when I slip into spoiler land and to stop reading.

So in Immortal Beloved we kind of witnessed our main character Nastasya learning how to become a better immortal. To understand the value of her own life, to start dealing with the past up until now, and slowly begin to unravel the origins of herself (who her family was truly and what not). We witnessed her leave her group of immortal friends behind after Incy crippled a cabbie driver for life.

In Darkness Falls it starts with Nastasya living at River's Edge and working hard on dealing with her own emotions and the trauma that she has gone through for her entire life. All 459 years of it. We learn more about what she remembers of her family and also what she can deduce. We begin to see more of her memories, but in a different light. She begins to remember and draw greater truths. It's a little neat to see her gain perspective.

In the beginning of the book she struggles with her own self worth, and discovers more about the immortals that are her teachers and how they have come to cope with their own violent histories. She also tries her best at dabbling in the lives of the mortals she's come into contact with but seems to make the situations worse in the long run. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Nastasya gets to participate in the New Years celebration at River's Edge and participates in a big magic circle in which the immortals feel a sense of elation and completion while also making a magical new year's revolution to let something go. Nastasya struggles to find something to give up, but when it is her turn, she gives up her darkness. It's a big commitment on her part as she views almost all aspects of her life as atrocious. She has made a choice to begin to understand herself and become a better being, and yet she is very caught up in her own traumatic past to give the present too much thought.

We're going to SPOILER LAND. Stop reading if you do not wish for the book to be spoiled.

Now, Nastasya knows something truly WEIRD is going on with Incy and the friends that she left behind. She's had a lot of horrific visions of Incy being insane and murdering her friends. She also begins to have a lot of 'bad luck' which horrifies her as she has determined that she is bringing down bad luck upon River's Edge and basically runs for it. She becomes so caught up in her determination that she is evil, she forgets to look for good. She runs far into the woods, and would you believe it? Straight into Incy.

Sadly enough, Darkness Falls seems to have fallen into the inevitable 'I am a woman, what?' trap. The girl narrator becomes too wrapped up in her own problems, that she fails to understand what is transpiring in her world around and gets this horrible case of TOO DUMB TO LIVE. Nastasya fooled me for a long time since her attitude and commentary about her life scenario distracted me from noticing that she was too dumb to live. She managed to get me to believe that she was learning, and Nastasya probably was learning, but just not in the right environment. Nastasya seemed to have developed this streak of way too damn stubborn to listen as she was so adamant that was evil. It got a little annoying to read the book after Incy sweeps her away since I knew the other shoe was going to drop at any moment. She stated too much how she USED to be like that, how her past self COULD be best friends with Incy, but now she just couldn't. How River had gotten to see right and wrong, and now that she could, she couldn't ignore it.

In the end, the entire book seemed to scream at me WAH WAH WAH MY PROBLEMS without enough character growth to carry it through. I finished it and the entire time I wanted more of her interacting with more people at River's Edge. All of the wonderful characters we were hinted towards and introduced to in the first book, they just kind of fell away. Reyn was there, but he wasn't the presence he should have been. He distinctly became, 'Distracting must hate you but WANT YOU IN EVERY WAY' man.

I don't think I can recommend reading the sequel at this point, but as it is a trilogy, I am curious to see if she can redeem herself in the third book.

There was a bit more that touched on the magic of the Immortals, but it didn't go anywhere concrete. It was left as this ambiguous idea that only the immortal could make the magic that they wanted to and since Nastasya didn't have a clue and would only like to learn more, the reader also doesn't get to know AT ALL. I mean, there was an attitude that 'if all else fails, you can try to wing it' with the magic in the end. Or it could have been desperation. I don't know. I just wasn't impressed with the book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

So I went to the library...

Today I went to the library as some of the books I requested be put on hold had come in and had a bit of an adventure.

I forgot my book bag which is always a bad thing since I walk in thinking I'll get seven books or so, but I always end up walking with fifteen or so. Today I staggered out with eighteen. It gets better.

As I picked up the books I had on hold and headed to the upstairs section after a quick peruse of the graphic novels, I end up walking up the stairs and spilling the seven books that I had been carrying about the fourth stair from the top. I mutter incoherently to prevent public swearing, and get helped by a fellow patron. I thank them and continue on my way.

Then I peruse the young adult section and by the time I leave, I'm up to 18 books. Alright. Really should have brought that book bag. I do the self checkout, and smartly take the elevator down to avoid all the stairs. I meet two other library patrons who seem to be a young gentleman and a concerned relative or close relation of some sort and they appear to be having a mildly serious conversation. So I politely try not to pay attention when the young gentleman says, "Hey, hey" a lot. I look over and he asks, "Why do you have so many books?"

I shrug and tell him, "I really love reading."
He asks, "You can finish all those in, what, three weeks? Right?"
I nod my head and his concerned relative states, "She's lying. This is a good example of you needing to have more wits about you when you meet people. To stop being so trusting and taking people on their word."

Um, what? Did I suddenly become a life lesson?

Thankfully, the elevator had safely delivered us to the lobby and I make my way out to my car. I manage to get my car door open and my due date receipt slips out and flutters away. I quickly get all the books in my car before I close the door. I start looking around for my receipt to discover that the young gentleman from the elevator was walking towards me, holding my receipt. I thank him profusely and he says, "I think you can read all those in three weeks," with a big smile on his face. I assured him I could and he went back to his awaiting relation. was an unusual experience. So, I have more books to read! Yay!

Friday, October 12, 2012


Huntress by Malinda Lo 

*The formatting of this post got all jacked up somehow. I don't know what happened*

So, I have to do a little speech. I get super annoyed with books that when they give the description of the book on the back, or inside cover, or wherever they're decided to hide it; they reveal plot points past a quarter of the way through the book. If the first quarter of the book is not interesting enough to write a summary on with a VERY VAGUE line of what the book could lead you towards, then what the heck. Learn to summarize better. Or the book isn't that good. URGH.

So this is the summary verbatim on my copy of Huntress. "Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance. To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old-girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to the unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever." Citation: Lo, Malinda. Huntress. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2011. Print. Found on the back of the book as a summary for the book.


So, it sounds like this big wind-up like WHOA adventure. Too bad that is essentially the whole book. Except for the last, oh, fifty pages or so. The whole Huntress thing never really comes into play except when one of the characters does the obligatory, "CRAP, WE HAVE TO GET THE BOOK TITLE IN HERE SOMEHOW" move.

Also, the book had a weird way of doing the, "Well, this is something that seems a little odd and has never come up before, but it's incredibly useful. I'll explain it with one line of text and EVERYONE WILL GO ALONG WITH IT. YES."

Also, this whole line of: "But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever." Citation: Lo, Malinda. Huntress. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2011. Print. Found on the back of the book as a summary for the book.
That line never comes into play. EVER. When the ordeal happens, there's no, "OMG I COULD DIE" I mean, not for real. There's no real emotional attachment to the scene except for Kaede and Taisin loving each other. They do the, "I hope I can return to her" as if they're talking about remembering to pick up milk when they go shopping.

I'm also a bit confused by the cover. There's a girl on the cover and she's holding a wooden sword. Um, to my recollection, no one in the entire book ever holds a WOODEN sword. Now, people use bows & arrows, throwing knives, real swords, etc, but never a wooden sword. So why would the girl depicted on the cover be holding a wooden sword?

I'm really annoyed with how the book ended. They spend about 25/100 (I'm making fractions for happy maths, shhhh) of the book setting up the home country, the life of the academy, blah blah backstories. Alright, that's cool.

They spent about 50/100 of the book's content to make their way through the woods. Stuff happened. It was a bit intense sometimes, but other times I kept asking, "Was this necessary? Or are we shooting for pages?" (For the record, my copy is 371 pages in length.) 
Then about 15/100 is spent just making it into the city, and waiting for an audience with the Fairy Queen. (Also, I feel like that's not a spoiler since the back of the book told you about almost all of the book).
So about 10/100, the last part of the book, is where we come across content that we couldn't find on the back of the book. This part is immediately rushed. It seems like the story was a train up until this point, just chugging along the tracks and taking it's sweet time to reach the destination. Then it suddenly became about as frantic to get through everything as the people who shop for Christmas gifts on Christmas morning! The stuff that could have been really cool, interesting, and spent lots of time dwelling on as it was a foreign concept was just kind of a hiccup to the book. I don't know what the heck the book was rushing around for either. It was just like BAM, WE GOT TO GET THIS DONE. NOW.

I'm also lead to believe that this is a prequel book to Ash. Based on my experience with Huntress, I have no intention of picking up Ash. I would also recommend steering clear of this book. It gets slightly cool as they describe the fay, but that's about it. It was also a LBGTQIA book, but it wasn't any sort of particularly special romance. It was interesting that the culture seemed to almost embrace those with non-hetereosexual preferences, but it definitely wasn't something the book dwelled on.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Immortal Beloved

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

So Immortal Beloved is about Nastasya (she tells her friends to call her 'Nasty' for short) who is an immortal. Immortal simply means they live a long time. They eventually start to age and can die, but for the most part they live like normal humans. They live with humans, appear human, and besides the very slowly aging thing, they are human. A couple immortal perks I noted were they seemingly can recover from any disease they contract and if they lose a limb/toe/tongue it'll eventually grow back.

Anyways, so Nastasya is about 450 years old (hey, when they say live a long time, they mean a LONG TIME, we meet River in the book who is roughly 1300 years old) and she's having party after party after party with her other immortal friends. They leave a club one night and get a cab to take them to the next club but the cabbie driver is rude as all get out. So Incy (that's his nickname, his real name is Innocencio, ridiculous) gets all pissy and uses magic on the cabbie driver to make his spine break. We later find out from a news report that the dude is paralyzed from the shoulders down. Horrible.

Nastasya is extremely shocked by Incy's actions and kept telling him to fix him but Incy pushes through to the next club. Incy basically seems to have taken some sort of extreme delight in his actions which shakes Nastasya even more since in the about 100 years that she's known him, he's never been downright malicious. In an effort to forget about it, Nastasya drinks herself into a dark place and wakes up at some dude's place. This is has become her routine for when things are ugly, get bad, etc She drinks until she's practically dead, but since she's immortal she just gets a really bad hangover but doesn't die from it. Upon waking up she can't shake the horror she feels towards Incy or the horror she feels towards herself for not having done anything. So she takes up an immortal, River, on an offer to escape from all the partying (they met briefly in 1915 or something) and to figure out what really matters.

Nastasya leaves all her friends behind without telling them where she's going and disappears off the map. She doesn't take much with her and doesn't connect to any other immortals on her way over. Then she enters immortal rehab if you will. The program is designed to get immortals concentrated on their lives, what they want, what matters to them, etc by getting them to do every single task that people now take for granted. Like cooking, making dinner, chores to keep the facility running, etc. It's quite cool.

Nastasya really struggles with it since she hadn't done anything hard in ages. Blah. I think one of the most interesting and favorite parts about the book is Nastasya's running commentary and watch her grow from being this horrible partier doesn't care about a thing to a person who can actually care for other people and watch out for them. It's pretty amazing. Nastasya is funny, quirky, and obnoxious.

The story innately seems to focus on the 'magic' that every immortal has and what they can do with it. I'm looking forward to snatching up the sequel Darkness Falls to see where the author takes it. I think it could be very interesting, or very boring, doom gloom end of the world. But so far, I've liked it a lot and have high hopes for the sequel. I also think it's part of a trilogy, so that should be neat.

But alas, Darkness Falls will not be my next review as I don't have it yet. When I have it, you'll know. For now, happy reading!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tortall and Other Lands

Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce

So, I'm quite sure that I've stated before that I'm a big fan of Tamora Pierce (barring her Beka Cooper series as diary books disagree with the logic in me) and Tortall and Other Lands definitely didn't disappoint.

The book is a collection of short stories about folks we've encountered before in her books (such as Nawat and Aly, Numair and Daine, and even a Darking adventure of sorts). It also adds a few characters that I would love to see more of (namely Qioum, Fadal, and Kylaia). I enjoyed the book of short stories as the stories seemed to have a vein of YAY WOMAN POWER! in them but was kind of directly spelled out in two of stories. Most of the stories take places in the world of Tortall, but what I found interesting was that in the end there were three stories that were not in the world of Tortall. One was in a remote desert (it still had an air of fantasy to it, although come to think of it that might have been a remote part of Tortall), and the other two were in our time. One of them that was in current day is set in New York City and had fantasy elements to it, and another was about a home for young girls. Girls that were too old to truly be in foster care but too young to be a legal adult.

I wouldn't recommend this book as your first read by Tamora Pierce, I would much rather recommend the The Lioness Quartet or even The Protector of the Small series. Heck, you could even start with the Magic Circle or the Wild Magic series. But, if you've read all of these and Trickster's Choice & Trickster's Queen, this book gives a nice epilogue to a few characters that I thought needed them. I mean, I love how most of the series end, some of them just left me with a hankering curiosity to know where they ended up.

So if you've read Tamora Pierce before, I highly doubt that you'll be disappointed with Tortall and Other Lands. It's quite good.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Daughter of Xanadu

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

I'm pretty sure that this is historical fiction, but as I'm not familiar with Mongol history, I'm going to assume it's creative historical fiction. Pardon me if I'm wrong, but I'm mildly cranky from a very persistent headache.

So our story centers around Emmajin Beki who is the eldest granddaughter of the Great Kahn Khubilai. And to avoid spelling errors this time, I'm frequently referencing the book. In retrospect, should have been doing that all along, but now I will for sure. Pardon past blunders. ANYWHO.

So Emmajin Beki is not your typical royal girl. She grew up with her cousin Serun (the eldest grandson) and Temur (the second eldest grandson, Serun's younger brother). By growing up with them, she pursued "men's passions" such as archery, and wrestling; normal women of the court pursue embroidery, gossip, and fine clothes. Emmajin has no use for 'silly' past times. Emmajin declares in the first chapter that she wants to join the Great Kahn's army. No woman has ever joined the Kahn's army before.

Now this is definitely a RAH RAH WOMAN POWERRRR book as Emmajin is hurtled through the prejudice's of men and also has to carefully balance between honoring her cousin Serun, and not crossing the Kahn Khubilai. To test her abilities and to prove her determination to join the army, the Kahn tasks Emmajin with the task of learning about the foreigner, Marco Polo. On a sidenote, I couldn't help it but as I was reading the book and every time I read 'Marco' I had to shout POLO! I startled the folks around me quite a few times. Whoops. Worth it. Now as Emmajin tries to learn the art of communication, she is also unsure if Marco Polo is flirting with her at first. Nevertheless, she tries to discretely persuade him to teach her about his culture, his military, and his country's ambitions.

I'm not sure at what point is halfway through the story, so I'm going to stop there just to be safe. I think Emmajin was a great narrator as her voice was never annoying or whining when her path became difficult. She kind of had 'oh crap' moments when she was shocked, but she still went on. I thought the metal of Emmajin's character was proven very soundly and repeatedly and I was pleased with how the book was paced and how it was ended.

I think there is a potential for a sequel, but I would be very happy if it was left as simply a stand alone book.

I also would like to clarify that I got suckered into this book by the praise that was printed on the front; the praise was from Tamora Pierce (damn it Tamora!). I clearly need to stop picking up books just because another author I liked praised the book. Although this one was worth the read. I guess it'll remain a trial and error process.

So if you like historical fiction (it could be creative, it might not be, I need a history buff to chime in on this one) then I'd recommend The Daughter of Xanadu. Or if you want a life learning, woman power book; I'd recommend this. Emmajin was brave, courageous, and had youthful naive that brought about interesting situations. Also, Marco (POLO!) was quite charming.