Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Tangle of Knots

This cover is gorgeous.
A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

This was such a fun read and there were many cake recipes throughout the pages that I would love to try (and I will, eventually).

An amazon summary, "Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born.  And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever.  However, these encounters hold the key to Cady's past and how she became an orphan.  If she's lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent. 

Lisa Graff adds a pinch of magic to a sharply crafted plot to create a novel that will have readers wondering about fate and the way we're all connected." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I love this book; it is fun, it is clever, it introduces an idea that people may possess peculiar talents (yet not in a perceived world altering way such as a superhero might), and the knitting together of relationships that forms a family.

The summary and the style of the book might lead you to believe that Cadence (or Cady) is at the center of the story or 'the heart of the knot' (haha I'm soooo clever at wordplay...). I would like to make the argument that the relationships and what ties us all together as a community is the heart of the story.

The story is told from multiple points of view and as such each chapter brings about a different perspective; however, I found that this was a clever way to strengthen the story and led each piece find it's place.

Alright let me backtrack and talk about the first third of the book to give you more of a feel of what you're getting yourself into.

The book begins with a seemingly normal prologue of a man whose talent is to tie intricate knots and who is traveling on the train to collect an inheritance yet he carries a particular suitcase, a St. Anthony's suitcase, and there were only 36 ever made. He seems to have a pleasant conversation with a stranger and puts his suitcase (with much reluctance) in the undercarriage of the train. When they arrive at the station, his suitcase is mysteriously gone.

The book then launches into 'present' day (fifty three years after the man lost his suitcase) and begins with Cady's story of being an orphan and baking cakes.

The next chapter hops to the owner of an Emporium of lost luggage who's talent appears to be floating about two inches above the ground; but by the end of the chapter we have a suspicion that his talent may be to steal other people's talents.

The third chapter spotlights Marigold who doesn't know what her talent is and is desperate to find out. She has two brothers; Zane and Will who are both talented. Zane is able to spit far distances and always hit his mark while Will's talent is a little more obscure as he is always able to become lost (but it seems from the way he speaks of it that he moves through walls). Their mother has a talent to knit and owns a yarn store.

The next chapter skips to V who we learn had a stoke while crossing a highway (was not injured besides the stroke) and that she lost a daughter (maybe not to death, we don't know yet, but lost all the same). She has no identification on her and has lost her ability to speak and interpret words.

The next chapter is Zane who we find out is in trouble at his school and is desperate for a way out of this trouble and he keeps coming back to what the principal told him; that he's WORTHLESS.

This all happens by page 36 (the book is roughly 230 pages long) and it all begins to weave the story of how everyone is interconnected.

It's a puzzle, a mystery, and yet a story of love and kinship.

It was a simply marvelous read.

I'm going to try a cake recipe from this book, maybe I'll post about my undoubtedly messy results. ;)

Happy reading!


Chime by Franny Billingsley

There is a brief story behind the reading of this book for me. Two people have recommended this book to me; one whom I always seek book recommendations from, and the other told me that there was a 60% chance that I would like it, and a 40% chance that I would hate it.

I think I'm about 50/50 on the like/hate charts. I'll explain why, after an AMAZON SUMMARY, "Briony has a secret. It is a secret that killed her stepmother, ruined her sister's mind, and will end her life, if anyone were to know. She has powers. Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and a great mane of tawny hair. He is as natural as the sun, and he treats her as if she is extraordinary. And everything starts to change . . . Chime is a haunting, brilliantly written novel that will stay with you--its magic, its romance, its world like none other." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So 50% of my brain likes this book. I enjoyed the world building, the characterization of the people, the muddled descriptions of major scenes, and sometimes the voice of the narrator (Briony).

The other 50% of my brain LOATHES this book. There were many times that I wanted to put down the book, label it as unreadable just to put myself out of my misery; but there were two things that stopped me. One, it was recommended to me. Two, it did not cause any headaches or a rage sleep. I think the loathing comes mostly from the pacing of the book and how it tiptoed to facts, ideas, etc a lot more slowly than I had arrived at them, accepted them, and was looking for the big picture.

I would recommend this book if you ever want to truly pick at a writer's mind; the narrator (Briony) is a writer in the tale and the mindset is right at to what a writer's can be.

I'm also going to go ahead and say that Briony comes across as an unreliable narrator. You have to finish the book to find out if she actually is or not. (Eh, eh? See what I did there? ...yeah.)

So the book opens with Briony testifying that she's very wicked. She alludes to a handful of characters that we're soon going to meet, but at the end of the first chapter (the two page long first chapter) she insists that she should be hanged. I will admit that the first chapter of the story definitely fell away from my mind as I considered the other elements that were being presented; but all in good time.

So one day a lad arrives at the town of Swampsea, a fitting name considering that the town lives on the very edge of a swamp. The lad happens to be expelled from college as he is a 'bad boy' and was expelled because he took up a bet that he could hit a building from very far away and happened to shatter some of the stain glass on the building to win a bet. He was expelled. In the hopes to educate him, his father has moved him to Swampsea for the time being and is looking to get him a tutor. This lad's name is Eldric.

I want to take a moment to talk about Eldric. Eldric can easily be described as the ideal bad-boy as he tends to do nefarious activities but activities in which no one is hurt (usually). He is very fun, brightens a room, but still has the exploring spirit. There's nothing really 'bad' about Eldric except for his disregard of propriety but at the same time he would never do something horrifically improper. Yet he still insists that he is a 'bad boy'.

Moving on.

So Briony is the twin sister of Rose (who is a little mad in the brain) and the daughter of the pastor. As such, Eldric is to stay at their home as they have the space and various other reasons.

Briony and Eldric slowly begin to spin a close friendship between them.

However, Briony is determined to hate herself because of what happened to her stepmother (the townspeople believed she killed herself by overdosing on arsenic; Briony believes she was murdered). Briony also believes herself to be a witch as she can commune with the Old Ones of the swamp.

Ah yes, the Old Ones. There are mysterious creatures that lurk in the swamp that are waiting to tempt the unprepared traveler to their untimely death; or to literally steal their hand in a horrendous way leaving the traveler stumped (literally). The Old Ones were often described as looking to be made up of bits from the swamp and sometimes malicious with their intent. The Old Ones definitely add a different flavor to the story.

Now Briony is responsible for 'mad' twin sister Rose and comes to believe that Rose has swamp cough (a cough sent by the Old Ones of the swamp in anger at the swamp being drained). Briony traverses off into the swamp to make a deal with 'Mucky Face' (think the Swamp Thing but only a giant face) only to plague Rose with the swamp cough until she can get the draining of the swamp to stop.

That's about a third of the way through the book and I'd prefer to just stop right there.

No spoiler land on this one.

I really had to push myself through a lot of the book because I had already figured out a lot of the mysteries of the book from the little clues that had been left. There were no significant 'red herrings' in the book for me, so a lot of it was a bit tedious for me to read. Especially when Briony is so determined to hate herself, to remove herself from emotion, because she does not know how to control her 'witchy' powers and does not know when they might lash out. Yet, she always had a clever and sometimes cruel tongue to hide how miserable and alone she was.

Also, if you're looking for a bizarre sort of romance novel, this would definitely fit the category. The romance portion of the story was kind of there if you looked at it from an observatory point of view.


Eh, I'm 50/50 on this book. The ending managed to pick up a bit and some things were revealed (but really at that point I was kind of reading just for the validation that I was right). I'm curious to know if this is the first in a series or if the author will do anything more with this world.

Happy reading!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Quintana of Charyn

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

This is the third book in the trilogy, the Lumatere Chronicles.
For the first book: FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK
For the second book: FROI OF THE EXILES

This review is going to break down the entire series so it will contain spoilers from the first two books, and a bit of the third but I will not reveal the ending. I am going to state right now that I would love to see more books take place within this world as the world was well constructed and beautiful in the breathtaking details that were given to each character, minor or major; to each country's people, minor or major; and to each land that everyone dwelled within. This is going to be an author to follow.

So an amazon summary of Quintana of Charyn, "The climactic conclusion of Printz Award winner Melina Marchetta’s epic fantasy trilogy!

Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi and his companions travel through Charyn searching for Quintana and building an army that will secure her unborn child’s right to rule. While in the valley between two kingdoms, Quintana of Charyn and Isaboe of Lumatere come face-to-face in a showdown that will result in heartbreak for one and power for the other. The complex tangle of bloodlines, politics, and love introduced in Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles coalesce into an engrossing climax in this final volume." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I'm going to summarize a lot of details and gloss through some of it as there's A LOT of substance to this story and it'd be impossible to get EVERY LITTLE DETAIL down without just posting the contents of the book.


In Finnikin of the Rock, in the first few chapters we get the sense of the peaceful country of Lumatere. The royal family is loved by the land, each part of the country instills a different charm into the people, and the kingdom is united and happy. One night, it's all thrown into chaos as an impostor king from Charyn (a nearby country) invades Lumatere, slaughters the royal family, and begins to slaughter the forest dwellers (a people who have extra spiritual abilities that live on the edge of Lumatere). There's five days of panic among the people as everyone is trying to sort out what happened amongst all the fighting. The most powerful forest dweller is burned at the stake and as she dies, a terrible curse falls upon Lumatere. An impenetrable shadow wall type of deal surrounds the country. So whoever was inside is trapped inside, and whoever was on the outside (trying to flee for their lives) is trapped outside with nowhere to go and with loved ones trapped inside with the impostor king and his army.

The Lumatereans are outcast from their surrounding neighbor kingdoms with a few of the 'important' people finding refuge on other countries. Sir Topher takes Finnikin under his care (the son of the captain of the guard and beloved friend of the royal family) and begins to raise him over the next ten years.

Then rumors that Balthazar (the son of the royal family, heir to the throne) might have survived. Finnikin and Sir Topher travel to the far reaches of the continent to discover Evanjilin (I'm probably spelling that wrong, screw it). The girl doesn't speak at first and they are advised by her care givers that she knows where Balthazar is as she walks the sleep of those trapped within Lumatere.

So Finnkin and Sir Topher begin to travel with her and begin to assemble the important people from Lumatere that managed to escape into exile. They assemble the guard, the priest, a handful of nobles, and establish sort of truces with different people they comes across. They also come across a thief that initially tries to steal from them, so they capture him, and drag him around with them for a while (he eventually becomes known as Froi).

They reach Lumatere after gathering their people who have been in exile to the boundaries of Lumatere and by now they've learned that Evanjilin is actually Isaboe, the last remaining member of the royal family (turns out Balthazar had died when the curse initially happened). Isaboe and Finnikin manage to break the curse on Lumatere, they storm the land and rally everyone inside and manage to take back the land. Celebration for everyone!

Finnikin and Isaboe have also fallen madly in love and Finnikin wrestles with his self-confidence and if he's worthy of the Queen and in the end manages to love her and become her consort. ALL THE JOY FOR EVERYONE.

Now Froi of the Exiles, begins three years after the end of Finnikin of the Rock, and the royalty has decided that it's high time to deal with Charyn. In the past three years, Froi has been trained by the guard, the priest, and everyone in between. He's grown into a (still violent) strapping young man. So they send him into Charyn in the disguise of a Charyn noble to assassinate the king.

Finnikin and Isaboe have had their first child, Trevarion and Beatriss are working on reconciling with each other (they were trapped apart by the curse, Beatriss was believed to be dead for a while), and Lumatere is well on it's way to healing while also being prosperous.

However, it turns out that Charyn has been cursed even longer than Lumatere was. They've had no newborns in the past 18 years and are waiting for the princess to bear a child with one of the last born (last born referring to the last children born before the curse took place). In the beginning of the book, the attitude is that no one truly knows who placed the curse, just that Quintana was the last born and will be the one to bear the first (after many long years of not having children).

There are many small circumstances in this book that navigate Froi into the right places (or sometimes the very wrong places), and so many moments where I just wanted to pump my fist in the air like, "GO FROI GO!!!!"

It was pretty epic.


There are twin brothers from Abroi (a part of Charyn) that have a lot of hype around them. One is Arjuro who is the only surviving priestling and insanely gifted. The other is Gargarin who is intensely smart and has been designing different ways to get water to different parts of the land, political adviser, etc.

Lirah of Serker is the palace whore (stupid, stupid king of Charyn). Sidenote, Serker was also wiped out so it's rare to see Serkers. Period.

Quintana is 'crazy'. I mean, she seems to have rapid cycling bipolar disorder or something. No one really seems to know what to make of her. There have been failed assassination attempts on her life (as some believe that by ending the last one, they can bring about new children).

There are some other important nobles, royalty, blah blah blah, but let's ignore them for now.

So when the curse first began was when the godhouse of Charyn was invaded, essentially everyone was killed, a true horror story of an ordeal. The oracle was raped and cut off from all means of communication, but she was still alive. Arjuro was alive because he was out of the godhouse when the tragedy happened. The oracle had the child but it was a stillborn on the same day that Lirah of Serker birthed Quintana; that was the same day that all the other children were gone. I mean, like everyone else carrying a child all instantaneously had a miscarriage.

The body of the oracle (she died in childbirth (I believe)) and her child were thrown into a ravine that separates the godhouse from the palace.

Quintana began to grow...and show very abnormal traits (the whole rapid cycling bipolar thing).

Arjuro and Gargarin disappear from Charyn and the kingdom is thrown into the unsteady rule of malicious king and his adviser/first man dude Bestiano.


It turns out that Gargarin and Lirah love each other, and that Froi is the child of their union; not Quintana, which also makes Arjuro Froi's uncle. Quintana is actually the twin daughter born to the oracle; the other twin was stillborn. The reason Quintana seemed crazy is because the spirit of her sister lived within her body as well. Froi falls in love with Quintana and they end up getting it on (which we don't see) and Quintana is pregnant before the book ends. There's a lot of turmoil as Quintana kills the king of Charyn (before Froi can) and Froi nearly dies to save Quintana. Froi takes 8 arrows to him to ensure that Quintana will safely escape from their pursuers (Bestiano, etc).

A lot of smaller interlocking things happen to make the big picture come together, but again, speed mode.

SO. The book Quintana of Charyn begins with Quintana hiding out near Lumatere in a valley where other Charyn's are seeking refuge from the madness that has happened to Charyn. Phaedra (she is really important in the last book and this book; really kind person, married to Lucian, blah blah blah) hides her from the Charyn's (as there's a price on her head to bring the babe she carries back alive, but no one cares what happens to Quintana). No one who was previously in contact with Froi/Arjuro/Gargain/Lirah know where she is; but the Lumateres soon find out thanks to Vestie (I don't even want to explain that).

ANYWAYS. So Froi/Gargain/Lirah, and Arjuro (kind of) are travelling across different parts of Charyn in search of Quintana in the hopes that she is alive and safe (or if not safe, relatively unharmed).

There is the beginning of discoveries of who actually placed the curse, who can break the curse, and what the different symbols on the necks of both Froi and Quintana mean.

Gargarin and Lirah are in the middle of the negotiations of what will happen to Charyn and the different people who preside over the country.


I'm going to stop here since that's about a third of the way through Quintana of Charyn and I just LOVE this series so much. I think I might reread it (after I tackle a couple more books; haha).

This is an author to watch.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Teriyaki Monster

The Teriyaki Monster (poorly pictured)
The Teriyaki Monster

-1 package of Knorr teriyaki rice (because I'm lazy)
-1 1/2 cups of vegetables (I usually use frozen carrots, frozen broccoli, or frozen peas that I thaw before adding to the dish)
-1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken, diced
-2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
-2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce

1. Cook the teriyaki rice according to the package directions. It should consist of putting 1 3/4 cup of water into a pot, mixing it with the contents of the package, and bring it to a boil. Then let it simmer on the stove top for 7 minutes while it's covered.
2. While the rice is simmering, add all the other ingredients and stir thoroughly.
3. Let simmer for at least 7 minutes (covered), stirring periodically; sometimes I let mine simmer for 8 or 9 minutes because it ends up a little soupy otherwise.
4. Let stand for 2 minutes.

The Knorr teriyaki rice

Happy cooking!

Monday, May 20, 2013


Dressing up tuna!

I don't think I've posted a recipe in a bit, and I've had a few folks in real life wanting to know how I make my tuna sandwiches.

Here are my 'secrets'.

I like my sandwiches boring. Sometimes I throw dashes of things in, but most times I just like them boring.

So when I dress up tuna, I'll either combine:

-1 can of tuna (drained)
-2 tablespoons of Italian dressing (lite)


-1 can of tuna (drained)
-1 avocado


-1 can of tuna (drained)
-1 tablespoon of miracle whip (light)
-1 tablespoon of honey mustard

That's basically all I do. Sometimes I'll add a dash of paprika (because I'm still trying to figure out if it has a specific flavor), sometimes I'll add a bit of black pepper.

I'll always put it on some sort of 'healthy' bread and usually there's enough for two sandwiches (especially if I combine it with avocado). My healthy breads are usually Oatmeal bread, wheat bread (enriched with fiber or something, low calorie), and multi-grain bread.

This seems pretty basic to me but now it's out there for everyone! YAY!!!

Happy cooking!

Tuna with Italian dressing!
Avocado with tuna. I put in a little Italian dressing
with this one as my avocado was not quite ripe yet.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Froi of the Exiles

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! AH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Excited screaming noises!)

This is the second book in a trilogy (I think it's a trilogy even though it's the second book in the Lumatere Chronicles) and I've read the first one too! You can find that blog post here: FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK.

An amazon summary before I become a more spastic mess: "From master storyteller Melina Marchetta comes an exhilarating new fantasy springing from her celebrated epic, Finnikin of the Rock.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior's discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


For the record, this book is about 600 pages long, and I expect the next book to be equal in length. So it might be a little between posts. Even I get slowed down by longer books. But I should finish it by next weekend at the latest. Barring any event out of my control of course. (Let's just hope that doesn't happen.)

To begin talking about this book, I'm going to have to dole out spoilers for the previous book because there's no way that this book would make sense. So let me do a brief recap.

SPOILER LAND FOR Finnikin of the Rock!!!!

So at the end of the last book, the curse was lifted by Finnikin and Isaboe, the kingdom was slowly starting to be restored to it's former glory, and Finnikin became the consort to the Queen, Isaboe. The Lumatere's were still a crippled kingdom, but they were fighting to be restored to their former glory. They were beginning to find a way to recover their kingdom and to begin to get through the strife that both the exiles and those trapped in Lumatere faced.

At the beginning of Froi of the Exiles, it has been three years since the end of Finnikin of the Rock. Events play out where Froi is able to infiltrate Charyn (the neighboring country that had a man sweep into Lumatere and kill the royal family save for Isaboe) to assassinate the king. However, they learn that the country of Charyn has been unable to produce children for the past 18 years because of their own curse.

Much of the story is spent learning about Charyn's own intimate history of the people, the royals and how it all pulls together to start painting a picture of who Froi might be.

There are so many different twists and plot turns in this book that I did have to put it down and walk away from it sometimes just so I could simply digest and understand everything that I had just read.

I kind of don't want to talk about it too much because there are the same characters from the previous book to love, but even more characters in the new book to love AND hate. Oh man, there were a handful of people that I simply LOVED to HATE. Very wretched folks.

I really enjoyed getting to learn about who Froi had become and who he was striving to be. I am very eager to read the next book.

In my post about the third book, I might indulge and give a break down of what I thought of the entire series, but for now, this will have to suffice.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mad Love

Mad Love by Suzanne Seflors

I think this was released in 2011 and it appears to be a bargain book on amazon; that should give you some indication to the quality of this book.

...THE AMAZON SUMMARY! "When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother-and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth-that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real." AMAZON LINK OF WEIRDNESS

So.... there's too many things trying to happen in this story. WAYYY too many. Let me try to get all of the premise out first, and we can go from there.

Alice is the main character, she's 16, daughter of the 'Queen of Romance' (her mom writes a lot of romance novels), and her mom has some form of bipolar disorder that she's currently been sequestered away from the world to get treatment for (it's being kept a secret).

Alice lives in an apartment complex that her mother bought that has four tenants  the reverend, Archibald, Mrs. Bobot, Realm (Mrs. Bobot's granddaughter), and Oscar the cat (although he's not technically a person so he can't be a tenant). All of the tenants (besides Realm) know about Alice's mother's illness and have agreed to keep quiet about it. Mrs. Bobot has been made into Alice's legal guardian just in case.

Alice lives alone in her apartment, but the entire complex has certain days or times that they interact with her, and with school, she just goes to school online.

Alice also uses the money from the royalty checks her Mom's 30 novels receive.

Alice also semi-stalks this kid on a skateboard that skates by every morning at 9:30AM; his name is Tony.

I don't really care about this book, I've been struggling to write this blog post without going crazy with spoilers, and it's just getting annoying.

SO. Alice meets Cupid, Errol, whatever you want to call him. Cupid tries to convince her to write his book, and she's like NO CREEPER, then he shoots her with an arrow and she's like URMAGAWD I WANT YOUUUU and he makes her drink some clam juice to cure her, and she's like FINE I'LL WRITE YOUR BOOK. They have plenty of misadventures with that. Whatever.

So Alice needs to have a book written in order to satisfy her Mom's contract and to get more money for her Mom to continue to get treatment.

Alice also randomly discovers/figures out that Realm (who used to go by Lily and be fat) developed an eating disorder and wants to be a horror writer and blackmailed Alice to send a letter with Realm's manuscript to a publisher.

Alice also tries to kind of date Tony but not really, Tony gets more stalker-like at her and runs into everywhere around town without a lot of explanation.

Mrs. Bobot loves the reverend and tries to get him to see her and maybe love her. Archibald wants the reverend to acknowledge him in public (which he won't because he was a reverend and Archibald is gay). Archibald is by far the best character, I mean other than the cat.

Basically Alice kind of writes Errol's story amidst everything that's going on but then her Mom gets lost at the end, and it turns out that Alice can see auras and that she looked like Psyche and that she's destined to write all of Errol's story.

Alice and Tony also kiss at some point although it doesn't make sense since they've never really had a moment to develop the love between them and it's just like WHATEVER ROMANCE.


Alice is like, "Oh I've read so many romance novels that I should just be able to write them LOL, I GUESS I'M THE PRINCESS OF ROMANCE HUR HUR"

So the book finishes with one of those 'somehow everything comes together and all the problems are solved LOLOL' and that's it.

Uh, what?


I don't recommend this one unless you want to feel like someone's rubbing sandpaper all over your brain while you're reading it.


Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Every day

Every day by David Levithan

I'm still at odds of what to make of this book (which is a secret way of saying that I really liked it because it's challenging every part of my inquisitive nature). SO, have an amazon summary!

"In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a "wise, wildly unique" love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Alright, so I apparently can't figure out how to format the amazon summary space without it getting all weird and out of order, so if it looks weird, I had a moment. ....ENJOY.

First thing, there's a foreword from the author in the beginning of my copy of this book, and it's basically David Levithan revealing that this began only as an idea and he spent the book exploring many aspects of that idea. It also portrays how much of an awesome sir/gentleman he is. Hats off to you David Levithan! (I also want to spell your last name as leviathan for some reason this morning, thank goodness for spell check.)

So the story begins with the careful unfolding of a bizarre circumstance; a person switches bodies every day with people who are about the same age as them. We're going to call this person A, the narrator, and the big mystery. One morning, A wakes up in Justin's body and we encounter how he is able to get through his days; he interacts with people based on what he perceives their expectations to be of the person he's inhabiting. He can access the memories of the person he's inside, determine what's kind of going on and then puts them through their normal day.

That is, until A meets Rhiannon. They spend one day at the ocean together and A knows that they need to meet again. That they need to be together in some way.

Suddenly, A wants attachment, commitment, love; on the level of someone knowing who and what A is. So A begins to seek out Rhiannon regardless of what body he's in.

Now A doesn't identify with a gender; sometimes they feel like a male, sometimes they feel like a female, but mostly they just feel their own personhood sans gender. They also seek for Rhiannon to know them without having a gender attached to them; to love A for who A is regardless of the body they're in.

I'm going to go ahead and ignore the quest of their relationship, what it all means, blah blah blah because there's something heart-warming and heart-breaking about this story that I need to talk about.

For the sake of ease on my part, I'm going to use 'he' pronouns when speaking of A. In no way, shape, or form does A identify as a gender, but my brain needs a little break and an easier way to talk about this awe inspiring concept.

Levithan has created a chameleon character; a character who is not grounded by the normal restrictions that most characters are. There is a sense about A that they are the least human character we meet, but they are the most humane character we meet.

Physically, A does not seem to be human. A is rooted in taking over the forms of other humans in a way that he does not understand; he knows it happens and accepted long ago that it was going to keep happening so he created a sense of decency to his hosts and tried to respect their lives regardless of their choices and live their lives as they would. When he leaves the body, he tries to imbue it with good memories, or with something good in it. He'll never truly know if it works because he'll never return to the same body.

Mentally, A is incredibly human. The way that A breaks down human interaction is that it all falls into formulas, that everything is to a rhythm and each person's life is not too far different from the next. In this way there are moments when we see that A is tempted to be evil, there are moments when A is tempted to be good, there are many moments where A is simply trying to make it through their day. A has developed a moral compass of their own and tries to let it always point in the direction of doing something right or good. There are several instances in the story where A 'kidnaps' their host to meet Rhiannon, thus wrenching the body into something they would not normally do. There are also moments where A reaches out as the person in order to do something incredibly good for that person's life.

I find this all heart breaking in the sense that A is lost without Rhiannon; A does not make connections with the humans of the world but rather thrives off the connections that the body already has. No one truly knows of A until Rhiannon, but A has the sweetest nature to them.

A sees the connections that matter the most and seek to strengthen and enjoy them. A sees the personhood of each person they come into contact with, whether it be the host or the strangers, and to me, I find that very heart warming.

I find the notion of seeking love regardless of the body they're in or that you're in to be the best romance of all time. Where the person is truly valued regardless of whatever associations are constricted around the body. To truly see someone. It also seems appropriate to share this song, SAME LOVE, while I'm at it.

What's that? I should come with a warning that I'm a sucker for romantics? ...I think I do actually. HA!

So in all of this, I think the novel begs the reader to ask two questions; what does it mean to be human? How do you value equality?

Not necessarily answer these questions, but just to ask them.

Why is it asking what does it mean to be human? I think I pretty much covered that.

But why is it asking how do we value equality? A gives the perspective of treating every body they inhabit with the same rules; respect their lives and try to live it as they do. There are a handful of glaring exceptions in the book, but in those cases, I believe that A chose the moral route in how to navigate it. Then again, there are moments where A is utterly 'human' in that they follow their own wants/needs regardless of their situation. So again, what does it mean to be human?

What does it mean to treat people truly as equals? To respect not only who much alike we are, but to also respect how utterly different we can be? What does it all mean?

This is a thought provoking book for me, and I think it's going to haunt me for a little bit. But that's okay, I like that sort of deal.

Happy reading!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Eccentric Circles

Eccentric Circles by Rebecca Lickiss

An amazon summary, "The doctors said Piper Dickerson's grandmother died of old age. The elf said it was murder.

A charming debut from a writer who already shows great promise. (Charles de Lint)
A delight. Rebecca Lickiss is a strong new voice. (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)" AMAZON LINK OF MINIMAL DETAILS

I strongly suspect that the amazon summary is so short, because it didn't want to say too much about the book to reveal it's craptastic nature. I finished it because I wanted some sort of awesome redemption to come into play for the spastic main character who was so atrociously boring that I shudder to think that people live like she does. I don't even know.

It's all SPOILER LAND all the way. No reservations, no nothing. I'm upset at the book, I'm upset that I spent time finishing the book, and I'm upset that I have a headache from the book, and the book was so aggravating that I couldn't even angry sleep at it. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT.

Okay, okay, I'm mad. Everyone gets it. Book.

Piper Pied's great grandmother died from old age and we first meet her attending the funeral, where she's the only one dressed in black. The rest of her 'eccentric' family is dressed in colorful ways and have fun remembering the great grandmother. Piper is the first to throw a handful of dirt into the grave and then everyone else proceeds to throw in little mementos instead of dirt. Skip forward to the 'wake' of sorts where they meet at a restaurant that's used to the family and already has alcoholic beverages and certain foods waiting for them. The will is read and in it it states that whoever threw the first handful of dirt on her grave inherits the house and everything that goes with it. I'm going to sum it up as 'aggravating legal matters'.

We never see her 'eccentric' family actually do anything eccentric. Piper has a few moments where she's like MAN I WISH I WAS NORMAL but then doesn't do anything that isn't normal besides moping all the time.

So then Piper gets to the house and is like la da da and cleans it. She wakes up the next morning to discover a man sitting in her kitchen and he's SUPER STUDLY (seriously, every time we see him on page we have to hear about what he looks like in acute detail because it's aggravatingly important for some reason or other). She's like WHOA MAYBE I AM DREAMING but in her Grandmother's will she was like LOL NEIGHBORS ARE WEIRD BUT THEY'LL GROW ON YOU so she assumes it's a weird neighbor.

Until he says he's an elf from Fairy and that her grandmother was murdered.

Um. What.

So that happens and the story progresses with Piper being all HAHHAHAHAHAA YOU'RE NOT AN ELF even though he takes her to the land of Fairy (conveniently accessible out her grandmother's backdoor as long as it's opened when you're thinking of Fairy), she's met other folks from Fairy and she's still like MAN I'M DELUSIONAL.

Then the elf interacts with other humans in the human world and she's still like HE'S NOT REAL, I'M DELUSIONAL WHEEEE.


So she kind of investigates her grandmother's murder (to play along with the elf or something) and everyone from Fairy insists she finishes the story blah blah blah.

None of it really makes sense. Everyone from Fairy is a suspect at one point or another, Piper is supposed to be brilliant at stories but she can't figure her way out of a cardboard box (and she has a college degree, and she's allegedly a nomad until recently but can't rely on herself for anything) and this book is everything that I hope I never write pretty much.

In the end it turns out the weird wizard from Fairy had a huge crush on the grandma and the grandma was like LOL NO and he's like IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU I'M GOING TO CRUSH BOTH OF OUR WORLDS, THAT'LL TEACH YOU and the Grandma is like What? Uhhh....and gets murdered by the wizard anyways (maybe, that was never really answered) and the main thing that matters is that Piper winds up with the elf.

The action scenes were terrible throughout the book, like they're be a fight in the kitchen after she just made a sandwich, and the sandwich would fall on the floor and instead of worrying about the fight she was like, "SIGH, I'M GOING TO HAVE TO CLEAN THAT UP BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE WILL". No comedy elements to it. She was just lamenting while fending off the bad guy that she had to clean up a sandwich.

Also, the style of writing didn't agree with me at all. Piper's voice was so all over the place and she cared about the wrong things at the wrong times. There were a lot of story elements that didn't give the story a complete picture but rather took away from the story.

It was terrible.

I'm going to go take some Tylenol. What the heck.


Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Finnikn of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

I know I'm on the slow side on this one as it was released in 2008 I believe? Still, it was quite a good read and it seems to be part of a series.

So AMAZON SUMMARY. "2008 Printz Award Winner Melina Marchetta crafts an epic fantasy of ancient magic, exile, feudal intrigue, and romance that rivets from the first page.

Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin’s unpredictable behavior suggests that she is not what she seems — and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her, but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I'm impressed with how much this book managed to suck me into it's world and captivate my attention so much. This author, Melina Marchetta, has a strong talent in making the magical seem realistic while also capturing the sense of a nation, individual characters, and the landscape in which they dwell into such a fascinating story.

I'm a bit in awe.

I haven't come across many strong fantasy series that have stood out to this degree to me. I mean, this book seems to have captured what I imagine to be archetype of the 'fantasy genre' but making it something colorful, playful, yet filled with grim realities.

I suppose I'm a bit dumbstruck as well.

So let's start with Finnikin, Lumatare, and where this all started. So, once upon a time (HAR HAR HAR) there was a beautiful kingdom of Lumatare where many different people lived in harmony due to the boisterous nature of the country and the prosperity of the nation ruled by a gentle, wise king. The king and his wife were very happy together and had five children: four princesses and one prince. The two we care about are the prince, Balthazar, and the youngest princess Isaboe. We care about them more so because as they were the youngest of the lot, they were the one's that Finnikin (son of the captain of the guard) was able to interact with the most. So one day Finnikin had a haunting dream and could not put it to rest in his mind. He gathered his two best friends, Balthazar and Lucian of the Monts (a people that lived in harmony with Lumatare), and they took a blood oath to the goddess to protect Lumatare in their own ways.

The kingdom enjoyed it's prosperity until one tragic night the king, his wife, and their children were murdered by an imposter king and the kingdom was thrown into such disarray as different miseries befell the people of the land. One misery was when one of the forest dwellers placed a curse on Lumatare so everyone who was inside Lumatare was trapped in a dark smoky veil that propelled them to stay inside Lumatare while it kept everyone else out. The imposter king and his corrupted men were trapped inside, but so were many citizens of Lumatare. There were even more Lumatare citizens trapped on the outside and were left landless and lost.

Finnikin was trapped on the outside of the veil with Sir Topher (the king's first man; think of him as an advisor of sorts) and travelled the land learning the different languages of Lumatare's neighbors and searching for anyone who had survived the imposter king's attack as well as the days of the veil.

It gets more and more intense and I know I'm summarizing it rather poorly so I'm just going to stop.

I will say that I fell in love with different characters and appreciated all the different aspects and flavors they brought to the story and now I'm seeking out the sequel to this book.

Some SPOILER LAND stuff. It's all serious business now.

I was completely thrown off that Evanjalin was Isaboe. Completely and utterly. I am delighted at how much that took me by surprise. I was originally suspecting that she was someone who was very close to the royal family, but for her to be Isaboe? WHOA.
Finnikin was hilariously cute with his struggle over his falling in love with Evanjalin/Isaboe.
I love all the men who are part of the King's guard. They're all fantastic.
Froi, I'm not sure what to make of him still. I'm glad we were able to witness his growth, but I'm hesitant with how much we saw of him. He seemed a little redundant sometimes, but underutilized at other times.
Meh. I think I'm good.

Happy reading!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Don't panic. Don't panic about that title, nope, no panicking.

I'm going to still be posting on here, just not as frequently for about a month or so.

I need to get some things in my personal life sorted out and answer a few big questions or even seek out reasonable assumptions until they can be truly answered.

So I'm announcing a slight hiatus status.

I'm still alive, I'm still reading, breathing, kind of functioning, etc.

I just need to take it easy for a little while to do a life sort.

Happy reading.

EDIT (5/29/2013): In the future, I think instead of declaring a hiatus status, I'll make a news alert about large books being tackled.

So if a week or so goes by and nothing has happened on here, at least there will be the reassurance that I'm reading a giant book that takes a bit longer to muddle through.

...happy reading!