Friday, August 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Pie

Giant delicious death....I mean, Peanut Butter Pie!
Do as I say, not as I do. I poured the chocolate layer
on too quickly. It blooped over the side.

Once upon time, my sister in law made this pie, brought it to a family gathering, and I think everyone dog piled on it after we realized how truly delightful it is.

It's a giant reese's peanut butter cup essentially.

OH MY BATMAN.

I have a mini food attack every time I make this.

It's almost too easy to make...as in too tempting at all times.

I don't even, have some directions on how to make this wonderful pie.

Ingredients:
  • 1 premade oreo crust
  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate (Baker's chocolate squares works great for this)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
Directions:
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy.
  2. In a different bowl, with really clean beaters (mixers, whatever you want to call them (STIRRING UTENSIL)), whip 1 cup of whipping cream into whipped cream.
  3. Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture until well combined.
  4. Spoon into the premade oreo crust. Chill until set (most likely an hour or so).
  5. Place chocolate and butter into a microwave proof bowl. Microwave in 15-30 second bursts until melted, stirring well in between. Once chocolate and butter have melted, stir in 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream. It should be a consistency of barbecue sauce (or close to it).
  6. Pour evenly over the pie. Let the chocolate settle on top; refrigeration is recommended.
  7. Try not to die from delight. :)
Afraid of fridge gremlins getting into the pie while it's chilling?
Flip the protective covering over that came with the premade
oreo crust. It's an awesome shield protector thing
and it fits perfectly!.
Happy cooking!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Lord of Opium

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

Let me take a moment to make fangirl noises...EEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so I picked this bad boy up at the ALA conference and have been in inner turmoil about waiting as long as possible before the release date to read and review it.

It has been torment. I suffer to ensure to tell you about something that I believed was going to be awesome to make sure that you would only have to wait until September 3, 2013 to read it.

I have two disclaimers.

Disclaimer one: I read the advanced reader's copy of this book so there will be minor differences between the one I read and the published copy.

Disclaimer two: I read The House of the Scorpion back in 2004 when it first came out, I probably read it five times in the course of a week (because it is that viciously good), and if you haven't read it, GO GET IT. To fully comprehend what I'm talking about, the amazon link is HERE. The first book won tons of awards (well-deserved wins). To get the ARC of The Lord of Opium, I basically cried at a lady at the conference who was running the booth. Dear random lady, I will always hold a place in my heart of the kindness you lent to my book obsession.

An amazon summary to get MORE EXCITED, "As the teenage ruler of his own country, Matt must cope with clones and cartels in this riveting sequel to the modern classic House of the Scorpion, winner of the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, and a Printz Honor.

Matt has always been nothing but a clone—grown from a strip of old El Patron’s skin. Now, at age fourteen, he finds himself suddenly thrust into the position of ruling over his own country. The Land of Opium is the largest territory of the Dope Confederacy, which ranges on the map like an intestine from the ruins of San Diego to the ruins of Matamoros. But while Opium thrives, the rest of the world has been devastated by ecological disaster—and hidden in Opium is the cure.

And that isn’t all that awaits within the depths of Opium. Matt is haunted by the ubiquitous army of eejits, zombielike workers harnessed to the old El Patron’s sinister system of drug growing—people stripped of the very qualities that once made them human.
Matt wants to use his newfound power to help, to stop the suffering, but he can’t even find a way to smuggle his childhood love, Maria, across the border and into Opium. Instead, his every move hits a roadblock, some from the enemies that surround him…and some from a voice within himself. For who is Matt really, but the clone of an evil, murderous dictator?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH.

I KEEP HUGGING IT. I KIND OF HOPE OSMOSIS WILL JUST HAPPEN AND IT WILL BE A PART OF ME, FOREVER.

...too far?
NEVER!

As it's been...nine years (holy crap I feel old now in the well deserved fashion) since I read the first book, I'm not entirely sure if this picked up where the last one left off.

I do know that the first one was written so well that I didn't have to use any sort of cheats (like wiki or amazon) to refresh my memory on who each character was as they hurtled (because I read fast) through the book. Many of the details from The House of the Scorpion stick out so vividly in my mind that it was SO COOL to get back into the world for more story!

SO COOL.

Fan girl. I know. BUT THAT'S OKAY BECAUSE I LOVE IT.

My brain is seizing a little bit because it's trying to deliberate what I can say about either book that won't spoil and ruin everything.

How about...I'm really curious and hopeful that there will be a third book since the world at large is so fascinating.

OKAY OKAY, I GOT THIS.

This review will undoubtedly contain spoilers for The House of the Scorpion, if you would like to read that unspoiled, I recommend not reading this review of The Lord of Opium any further. They're both fantastic books, you can come back when you're done with The House of the Scorpion, don't worry; this review will be here. I will warn that the series is not light-hearted antics by any means, it contains a lot of cut throat views on the book's world and has a lot of dark moments and tones to the story. It has science fiction in it (like WHOA) but it's done in a way that's easy to grasp, either by the explanations provided about it or by the characters learning about it. It does pose a brilliant question of nature vs nurture while painting a vivid picture of corruption. It's kind of breathtaking in the eye opening sense. I went like O_O for a while I was reading. It's pretty intense, and can be saddening at times.

ALRIGHT. BUSINESS.

Again, I don't know if it picked up exactly where The House of the Scorpion left off, but from what I recall it seems to have.

So the original Lord of Opium has died, Matt (his clone) was given his human rights when his original died so he inherited everything that the Lord of Opium owned. For the sake of my brain, I'm going to refer to as dead Lord of Opium as El Patron and Matt as Matt. The book plays with the semantics of that (something you can look forward to hehe).

Matt returns to Opium (the stretch of land that exists between future USA and future Mexico which are now different things...just read the books dang it) and begins to explore everything that El Patron left behind. El Patron was wickedly paranoid and smart so he genetically imprinted a lot of the controls of Opium so no one besides him (or his clones because they're his genetic copies) can open certain areas or work certain systems. Matt has his work cut out for him.

Especially because he wants to dismantle the drug empire that El Patron built.

A lot of characters have come back with attitude and as Matt explores the land of Opium, he discovers a lot about El Patron, his past, and what he wants to be in the future.

IT WAS REALLY AMAZING.

I'M GOING TO STOP TALKING BEFORE I REVEAL TOO MUCH.

There was an interesting element that played into the book which I'm going to discuss briefly.

SPOILERS. ALL THE SPOILERS.

There is a 'voice' in Matt's head that he believes to be El Patron that chimes in from time to time, especially in more hazardous situations to Matt.

I REALLY WANT to know what that was all about. I want to know if it was hallucinations, some kind of AI that was a copy of El Patron's brain that was implanted into Matt, or just what the heck was that. I would love some sort of explanation.

Seriously, a third book is strongly encouraged.

Dear Nancy Farmer, PLEASE WRITE MORE.

...no seriously, can that just happen? Yes? :)

I'm going to go read some of my favorite bits from the book (although it was ALL good) now.

Happy reading!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Curtsies & Conspiracies

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

I read the first book in the series, Etiquette & Espionage, HERE.

Disclaimer: This is an advanced reader's copy and the book will be released on November 5, 2013. Some of the material in my copy might not be exactly the same as the released copy. I imagine it will be pretty close though.

An amazon summary, "Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy--won't Mumsy be surprised? Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.


Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a field trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.


In this sequel to New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


Some quick math for my benefit because I absolutely adored this book and will be prone to ramble on and on. I need to figure out my cut off point. The ARC is 310 pages long, 30% of it would be page 93, which is the beginning of a new chapter. Perfect.

I kind of wish that I had waited until this entire series was released before I embarked on the wondrous adventure so I could plow through all of them in one go. They're just very delightful.

Alright, alright, the book.

Curtsies & Conspiracies seems to have picked up right where Etiquette & Espionage left off. Sophronia finds herself beginning to get into the thick of things right from the beginning and starts to get a better taste of the espionage portion of her training, what her future job could truly entail.

In the very beginning, Sophronia is plucked from class by Lady Linette and administered her six month test. Her results are then delivered with the others that are at her level and it is discovered that she received the best marks. The girls sink into despise of her and do not speak with her if they can help it.

To make matters more interesting, ten boys from Bunson's (the evil genius school for boys) have joined them on board and Sophronia has already caught the eye of one.

Did I also mention that she managed to get a valve off of her test machine to show Vieve?

Did I mention that there is a delightful tension present between the supernaturals and the humans rather than the supernaturals versus each other? (Although I could see that changing in later books.)

You know, I don't really know if I can thoroughly talk about the book without giving away too many details since each page carries an important detail that carries through the rest of the book. It isn't overwhelming since the information is constantly being updated. I find it a rather straightforward read for a mystery style of book, because it's espionage and the narrator keeps up on the same tab as her.

Dimity is also almost kidnapped, Vieve is excited about the possibilities of what the valve Sophronia swiped can do, and the floating school is off to London for a test of sorts (it has a really neat cloud cover).

There's also the returning of all the previous characters from last book (such as Bumbersnoot, Soap, Sidheag, and well just everyone, even Pillover) and they still maintain their charm while continuing to grow. I kind of absolutely adore it.

I do love how much attention is given to the manners and what is 'proper' for the men and ladies to both do in the situations that happen. I enjoy that each situation has the presence of the details of what is happening coupled with what each detail means. It makes for a most interesting read.

I really need to pick up the other books by this author, they're absolutely delightful.

How many times and how many ways can I say that I liked this book?

A lot. Too many.

I'll mercy you.

If you want another book like the first one, the second one definitely doesn't disappoint. It's the same fun, kind of light-hearted reading that has some serious dark undertones to it.

Sophronia is back, and she's keeping her wits about her.

I am quite sad that it's not available until November 5, 2013, but it will make for an excellent gift for the holiday season. Wonderful!

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Battle Magic

Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy that I picked up at the ALA conference, however, the book will be released on September 24, 2013. So the good news is is that you don't have to wait too long to read it. Eh?

I previously reviewed Melting Stones, HERE.

An amazon summary, "NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Tamora Pierce returns to the magical world of Winding Circle.

On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor's summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor's prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxi to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


I think the series would have been a lot better if it had started with Battle Magic because a lot of what changed about Briar would have made more sense in Melting Stones and The Will of the Empress.

Since this is an advanced reader's copy, I will do my best not to reveal too much. My copy of the book is 440 pages long, and I will talk about the first 30% of it. That's page 132, which is in the middle of a chapter, so I'll actually talk about it until page 141, which is the end of chapter 8. Then I'll discuss my general reaction to the book.

The basic premise of Battle Magic is Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are first visiting in Gyongxi (the land that's said to be closest to the Gods-Gyongxi is pretty cool). They really enjoy the God-King's company (the kind of ruler of Gyongxi) but move on to visit the Emporer of Yanjing in the city of Dohan which has famous gardens in the winter palace. So of course Rosethorn and Briar REALLY want to go. Because plants. Because they're green mages.

Moving on.

So they get there and are treated with ridiculous ceremonies and traditions (which all of them hate), they meet Parahan who is a slave to the emporer an in a delicate political position because he's actually the son and a warrior of a powerful man and just complicated whatever. Parahan is fun, witty, and smart; he also becomes Evvy's friend of sorts.

So they meander around the palace and are finally shown the gardens and are basically shown a very cruel fate for the famous rose bushes because they succumbed to a mold of some sort. The Emporer turns out to be a bit crazy with his demands for perfection from everyone and everything and the whole party basically tries to escape as soon as possible.

Before they escape, Evvy sets off to free Parahan, Briar wakes up, realizes what she's doing, goes after her, and together they manage to free him and get back to their rooms with no one being the wiser. Parahan makes his escape in his silent warrior ways or something.

The party (Rosethorn, Briar, and Evvy) leave the palace after a lot of inspections and what not because Parahan escaped and they could be hiding him, etc. They meet up with some traders who are supposed to take them on a round about way to the boat which should take them back home to Winding Circle, so they can see more plants on their way back. Yay plants!

However, Rosethorn, Briar, and Evvy got wind that the Emporer wanted to take over Gyongxi for the country's treasures and basically to just own it because he's the Emporer and should own everything. Pompous awful man.

So they make haste to Gyongxi to warn the God-King and help if there is to be a war.

WHICH, if you read The Will of the Empress and Melting Stones, you already know there is a war.

You already know that Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy saw and did awful things that traumatize them.

You already know about Master Luvo being the heart of a mountain (so when he finally happens about halfway through the book it was my greatest OKAY, THE GOOD STUFF THAT WILL EXPLAIN OTHER THINGS MIGHT HAPPEN....EVENTUALLY RIGHT? ...OH....).

You already know that Evvy got her feet whipped horriffically and that she had a moment with Rosethorn where she rode on horseback and got off at times so the wounded or children could ride (a moment that is mysteriously absent in Battle Magic (SORRY SPOILERS BUT I'M MAD) but that moment could be explained away because it would happen while Briar is out of sorts unconscious for various reasons and his narration was the primary through that part).

My general reaction to the book still leaves me with way too many questions about Melting Stones and The Will of the Empress. I would have loved for the series to happen in chronological order and focus less on Evvy. I wanted to know more about Briar in general since he seemed so shaken through all three books in this series.

In my copy of the book there is a little note from Tamora Pierce which explains her reasoning for embarking on the series in the first place. I kind of question if she will have stories about Sandry, Tris, and Daja to bridge the gap from their last book in The Circle Opens series to the events of The Will of the Empress. In her acknowledgements at the end of the book, she has a thank you to the people who reminded her of details that she had forgotten about while she wrote Battle Magic. It concerns me.

As a reader, I kind of almost wish she would leave the characters alone. I mean, maybe have a new series with mages who kind of bump into Daja, Tris, Sandry, and Briar in the places they might have settled or traveled to in the world. As it is, I think the stories are getting rather large and harder to keep track of all the details that are presented.

Back to the content of the book, the war that happens (YOU KNOW IT HAPPENS, IT ISN'T SPOILERS), the writing didn't really seem to grasp the true horrors of war. I mean, there were HORRIFIC moments that happened in the book, the characters kind of seemed to shudder at them, but there seemed to be an emotional disconnect. The way they acted didn't seem to differ, they didn't become more cautious or anything, they still continued to do what they were doing. Rosethorn I can understand, but Briar and Evvy?

When you read the book (if you do), you'll understand what I'm saying (maybe).

I don't know, I kind of hope Tamora Pierce embarks on a new series, with new characters, with kind of shout outs to her old characters. I love her worlds, I love her characters, but this series was kind of disappointing.

Sad.

However, I don't regret reading it since a part of me will always be excited about a new Daja/Sandry/Tris/Briar book.I guess that's what you call book love. Hehe.

Happy reading!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Melting Stones

Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce

So once upon a time, in roughly 2005, I read The Will of the Empress; the first book in this series.

Wait, let me back up.

I've been a long time fan of Tamora Pierce. HUGE FAN. Like, almost didn't go to a final exam in college to go to a nearby book signing. (I went to the exam because responsibility, but seriously, WHOA.) I loved the Alanna series, I loved the Protector of the Small series, I loved the Trickster's duology (or whatever you want to call it), I loved the Circle of Magic series and kind of even liked the Circle Opens series. I liked the Wild Magic series.

Then Beka Cooper happened, it was written in diary format, and I simply can't stand reading books written in diary format. No matter what, you will never convince me that whatever character is writing will remember exactly, precisely, word for word what was said in conversation. Ever. It drives me bonkers the implausibility that a diary can record the impeccable truth of the situation. If it does, it clearly isn't written in the quality of the narrator's voice, AND OH MY BATMAN I JUST HATE DIARY FORMAT. There are only a few books I've ever completed reading that were in diary format. There's just so much wrong with how it is normally utilized.

UGH.

So I skipped the whole Beka Cooper thing.

Then I missed Melting Stones when it was initially published.

But I've read it now. Aren't you glad I overshare sometimes and not all the time? Eh?

I tried.

A book summary so you can get a guess at where I'll be going with this, "Bestselling author Tamora Pierce returns to the world of the Circle Opens quartet. This time, Evvy, a street urchin turned stone mage, must save an island nation. Now available in paperback!

Four years have passed since Evvy left the streets of Chammur to begin her training as a stone mage. At fourteen, she's unhappy to be on a new journey with her mentor, prickly green mage Rosethorn, who has been called to the Battle Islands to determine why the plants and animals there are dying. Evvy's job is to listen and learn, but she can't keep quiet and do nothing. With the help of Luvo, the living stone heart of a mountain, Evvy uncovers an important clue. Now, with the island on the brink of disaster, it's up to Evvy to avert the destruction that looms ahead." AMAZON LINK OF IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE


Again, it's been a LONG time since I read The Will of the Empress, however, I have some sort of faith in myself that I'll remember or be able to piece together enough details to just power through Melting Stones.

It was more challenging than I expected, especially considering the third book (Battle Magic) in the series chronologically happens before the second book (Melting Stones). Also, The Will of the Empress is apparently chronologically after Melting Stones, so I suppose the whole series is just chronologically backwards. Gross.

The first surprise with this book was the character of Master Luvo. I wracked my brain trying to figure out when Evvy, Briar, and Rosethorn were all involved in some war that they got Master Luvo through.

Did I mention that Master Luvo is the heart of a mountain that looks like a small weathered bear rock and usually weighs at least fifty pounds? He walks, talks, and does magic. There were a lot of details about his character that were given with the attitude of, "Remember this? Pssh, you totally should". Yet, Master Luvo didn't chronologically exist until Battle Magic.

What the heck.

I managed to plow through Melting Stones in the fevered attempt to just plunge into Battle Magic which I was hoping would be a better book. That was my motivation.

Let me break the book down before I get distracted again by something else that irks me.

Essentially, Evvy, Rosethorn, Master Luvo, and Fusspot (his real name escapes me (Evvy dubbed him Fusspot), a water mage from Winding Circle) have traveled to an island to investigate the mysterious poisons that are appearing seemingly at random across the land. While Evvy is there, she falls in love with all sorts of different rocks and gets to learn a lot more about the Earth through Luvo and her wanderings of the island.

The book is narrated by Evvy.

Who is plagued by memories of war (by plagued, I mean briefly remembers moments from the war and then moves on with a shudder sort of deal), and doesn't quite act her age at any point. I'm not quite certain of her age but I'm going to chalk it up to my bad memory as I think it was mentioned somewhere in there.

Who is also magic crazy on the island since a lot of Earth magic stirs in the lava/magma that is closer to the surface than it normally is on continents.

...you know, I just didn't care for it. I treated Melting Stones as an ends to a mean to get to Battle Magic.

I was at a complete loss with the memories of the characters and their time at war, I was at a complete loss for Master Luvo because I KNOW I would remember a talking rock mountain heart bear thing, and Evvy's voice wasn't compelling to me since she still struggled with a lot of basic human interactions situations even though she was a 'street rat'. I would assume that as a 'street rat' she would be used to reading situations and handling people (as Briar does), but the book conveys her as a willful, clumsy oaf of sorts that constantly has to be reprimanded. It was pretty disorienting for me.

Regardless, the story came across as weak to me since some of the instances of character growth were based on things that happened in a war that I had not yet read about.

It was kind of a miffing experience.

I guess with this one, I think some diehard fans could plow through it, but I don't think I'll be returning to it.

I was pretty disappointed, yet I'm not entirely what I should have expected from a book about Evvy. I also question the use of Evvy as the narrator, why not Rosethorn? It kind of makes me wonder if I have outgrown Tamora Pierce (a very shuddering thought). Then I reread bits and pieces of the Alanna series, Protector of the Small, and the Trickster's duology and knew I was still in love with the world.

...I should stop. I'm getting rambling. Oh the rambling.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dr. Pulled Pork

The Doctor is delicious.
Dr. Pulled Pork

A friend of mine gave me this recipe and I tweaked it a little bit. I present to you, Dr. Pulled Pork; dangerously delicious medicine for the taste buds.**

**It's not medicine, please never treat it as such.

Alright, sometimes my efforts at humor just get in the way of being taken seriously.


The ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 pounds of pork shoulder (or butt)
  • 24 ounces of Dr. Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Ground Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Hoisin Sauce
  • A bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (I personally used Sweet Baby Ray's regular BBQ sauce, I know that the honey & hickory varieties have been tried and liked as well)

Directions:

  1. Use a big crock pot. I mean big enough to fit your giant chunks of pork into it with all of the ingredients (sans BBQ sauce).
  2. Mix garlic powder, ground mustard, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and hoisin sauce together in the crock pot.
  3. Cut pork shoulder (or butt) into four pieces and put into the crock pot.
  4. Pour the Dr. Pepper over top, and stir slightly. It's going to be slightly weird because of the giant pork pieces, but you can do it. I believe in you!
  5. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 8 hours of more. I personally cooked mine on low all day because it's an older crock pot and so I could 'set it and forget it' for the day. Makes for a delicious dinner.
  6. Carefully remove pork. Shred it with 2 forks (or whatever suits you best) on a cutting board. Return the pork to the original mixture in the crock pot. Stir. No seriously, STIR IT.
  7. Cook for another hour in the crock pot on low.
  8. Drain the juices.
  9. Toss the pork in your choice of BBQ sauce. I used about half the bottle on mine, but I like mine with a little less sauce so I didn't put an amount for sauce. Like it saucey? Add more sauce. Don't like the sauce as much? Don't put as much sauce in! Simple. ...still confused? Only add a little bit of sauce to the pork at a time until it's a consistency that YOU like.
  10. Recommended to be served on hamburger buns. Also makes great nachos.

Questions? Leave a comment!

Want a better picture? TOO BAD. :D

...

Happy cooking!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Colossus Rises

The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

Honestly, this was just a matter of poor timing for me to read it. I just read Loki's Wolves, I've been discussing the Percy Jackson series a lot, and then I embarked on another book about kids being the descendants of something and going on a mission to save the world.

Clearly a premise that has done relatively well for me in the past.

So, I'm going out on a limb and will assume that this was an alright book even though I couldn't get through it. I'll talk about the bit I read and maybe return to it one day.

An amazon summary to get everyone in the same boat, "Just one boy . . .

Jack McKinley is an ordinary kid with an extraordinary problem. In six months, Jack is going to die.

Just one mission . . .

After Jack collapses in the middle of a busy street, he's whisked off to a strange hospital in a strange place. 
There are armed guards and weird kids and fantastic creatures, not to mention no parents, no phones, and no possibility of escape. The place is run by an odd professor named Bhegad, who tells Jack that what's killing him is a genetic trait inherited from the prince of a long-lost civilization. It's destroying Jack by making him too strong too fast. He'll need to stay strong, though—because it's up to him to save the world.

Just one problem . . .

That long-lost civilization sank when seven magic Loculi were stolen and hidden around the world. Now Jack and his friends must find the Loculi before they fall into the wrong hands. If they don't, they'll never be cured, that lost world will rise, oceans will be displaced, and life as we know it will pretty much end.

Seven wonders

No one ever asked Jack if he wanted to be a hero. He just has to be one. One kid. One mission. One big problem. The thrills begin in The Colossus Rises, the first installment in the newest adventure from master storyteller Peter Lerangis." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Honestly, this book was just poor timing on my part. Sometimes I tend to forget that I need to read books with almost entirely different premises to kind of keep my book 'palate' if you will fresh. It's easy to get bogged down trying to read the same general idea with a different environment with different characters but the same idea. It gets harder for me personally to not constantly compare them.

So with that, I tried to read The Colossus Rises and failed miserably.

I couldn't get with the voice of the main character who seemed to be a bit of scamp in the sense of was a messy monster with a hesitant will to do the right thing.

I couldn't get into the premise of the book because I'm getting sad that so many books are using the scary notion that 'CHILDREN ARE DYING' and not treating it like it's some horrible thing. Not really working on the quality of life for them but rather what can be done with them before they die.

Somewhere I fear that the young adult book world has stopped valuing the life of the characters after a certain age because there's a misconception that they don't care about the rest of their life, they care about the now.

Freaking YOLO.

This is a big thing about how I feel. If you don't care, you can just quit now. I'll get back to the book eventually, but it might take me a little speech to do so.

Life is built of moments that create memories, but it shouldn't be traveled with the notion that 'it won't be me that dies'. It shouldn't be tempered by the notion that 'it could be you that dies, so we'll slaughter other people that are any age, but usually young, so that you might get the notion that you're not immortal'.

I acknowledge there is this notion that we should grab everything that we can out of life, we should take every opportunity that we can and just do what we want. ...but does that always have to involve extreme life endangering situations? Is it trying to play that any moment in our life we could just die and be fine with that because we've already managed to do so much?

Are books trying to portray how others are qualifying their lives, or is it working more towards building the notion of fearless behavior since it will probably end will. There will be set backs, but whatever the outcome is it'll be worth it.

I don't know.

But I'm trying to figure it out.

I think this book was a bit of my breaking point of constantly trying to throw kids in danger to get a good story.

But I've been writing a paper about Star Girl because I became infuriated with how high of a pedestal it seems to rest on when the foundations of the book are overlooked. So maybe I'm just angry at books in general right now. (I should note that I'm not doing it for a class or even for this blog, I'm just doing it to portray how much the notion of the character 'Star Girl' is idealized because she was just trying to be herself. I'm writing a paper with the argument that Star Girl didn't have the concept of peer pressure in the beginning because she was home schooled, she didn't have the concept that she should try to be like everyone else and just fit in. She was already doing whatever she wanted because she wasn't operating under any sort of pressure. We started to lose Star Girl when she fell prey to peer pressure, and the villains of the story weren't villains, they were just as confused by what she was doing as she was. ITS COMPLICATED ALRIGHT.)

I don't know.

So back to the book.

The book started with the character suddenly being overwhelmed by an illness after he noticed an odd V-pattern on the back of his neck and he's carted off with some scientist/doctor types that allegedly save his life. The twist is, he's starting to die because his body is becoming too powerful for itself.

Uh, what?

The farthest I got was the main character realized he was kidnapped to some weird place, tried to escape, was caught, met the other bizarre kids on the island, turns out the bizarre kids also have abilities, and then the quest was revealed.

That's when I checked out.

Maybe it's a good book, it might be something I return to when I'm in a better mood about reading that sort of story, but for right now I'm just letting out exasperated sighs when I read it and wandering off to do laundry.

Laundry. Not rage sleeping, not picking up something else interesting.

Laundry.

So I left the book.

The quality of writing seemed pretty alright, I just seem to be exhausted by the story type.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Otherside

I haven't done a real news update in a bit so here is what is happening.

I have three books waiting for me to write reviews on them (one unreadable, one I've read and am still struggling what to say about it, and a third which is just being a hassle).

Brittany and I are working on making the cross blogging discussions happen with some frequency. It might be once a month, it might be more; we're not quite sure yet. This is something that we would both like to continue to do. We're still playing around with what content we'll discuss (limit it to a book or branch out to talk about authors, genres, etc; there's a lot of potential). If you haven't checked her blog out, you totally should. It's called Summerland Sushi and you can find it HERE. She might not update as much as me (haha, I blog a lot...whoa), but what she says is pretty awesome.

I've been working a lot on a book and I might just have that lead into what I write for NaNoWriMo this year. I haven't quite decided what to do with it when I finish it, I just know that I need to write it.

Everything else I want to say would be weirdly out of context.

So here's the song that inspired today's blog post title, (IT SWEARS IN IT SOMETIMES, SORRY) OTHERSIDE, by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. It's one of those songs that has captured my imagination of the human experience in relation to drug addictions. Something that is so foreign of an experience to me, yet I have no desire to experience it. I'm just so curious as to the emotional turmoil that lies there, the motivations behind it, the during, and if there is, an after.

Surprise! I'm ridiculously curious about weird things!

On a side note, I still have a giant stack of books from ALA that are just waiting for me.

They're just sitting there. So tempting. I don't have the attention span to read multiple books at once, but if I did, I TOTALLY WOULD. Although it might take me four times as long to get through them then. Huh.

...I think I should be done here.

More books coming.

I am writing a lot.

I am working on neat discussions to do on here with Brittany.

...I just summarized myself.

...

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Apparently this is the first book in some sort of chronicles; I'm probably going to have to pick the others up since this one was pretty mind twisting.

An amazon summary to get us all mostly on the same page, "Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson's vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


Part of the reason I liked this book so much, is that I had no idea what was going on.

I'd like to think that I'm a hard person to completely stump to which direction the book is going, but I was stumped for so much of this book that it was really exciting for me to read.

Jenna Fox wakes up one day after being in a coma for a year after her terrible 'accident'. She has severe memory loss and even struggles with proper words. Luckily, her parents have discs or home videos of her life sorted by the years so she can start to remember who she was. Due to her being in a coma, she takes nutrients instead of eating and her body slowly begins to function as it once did again.

The very cool thing about this book as it starts to tackle the question, "What does it mean to be human?" through questions from Jenna and situations with the other characters. There are many moments where Jenna simply begins to rediscover herself that makes her seem more human and less like a robot or an infant first discovering things about the world.

The world building is fascinating as well as it seems to be a future alternate Earth with the way society is set up and how science is depicted.

I really enjoyed the struggle with ethics and human emotions, what does it mean to go too far and what can determine happiness in a person's life.

I found the book utterly fascinating with it's exploratory nature and only wish that I could read more about Jenna Fox. With how the book ends, I imagine that any other books in the chronicles are not about Jenna Fox but relate to her in some way. Maybe I'm wrong. I suppose I'll have to pick up a book to find out.

This is definitely a book that was thought provoking, and I loved to read the discussion questions at the end of the book as well as an interview of the author; it provided more insight to the book.

However, I also enjoyed how the book presented the questions, but didn't really determine answers. It was a good change of pace.

Happy reading!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Screaming Staircase

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

I have three disclaimers for this one.

Disclaimer one: I read the advanced reader's copy of this book that I snagged at the ALA conference, so some of the content that I read might differ very minutely from the released copy. The book will be released on September 17, 2013 (sucks to wait that long, there there).

Disclaimer two: A LONG LONG time ago, I once tried to read the Bartimaeus trilogy when it first came out, but then I had that one REALLY OBSESSIVE FRIEND who made it out to be the best thing ever and got so hyped up about it that when I attempted to read it, I was disappointed. Again, too much hype. One day, I hope to return to the trilogy since after reading this, the writing style of the author seems like one I'd enjoy.

Disclaimer three after the summary as it pertains the books content.

An amazon summary, "A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business. 

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall's legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day? 


Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud's internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series." AMAZON LINK OF NOOOO, REVEALED WAY TOO MUCH


Disclaimer three: For some reason I went into reading this book with the expectation that it was going to be full of humor and what not. There are humorous moments, but I wouldn't call it a humorous book overall. There are some very serious concept being portrayed, like children DYING, that simply cannot be made light of. However, even though that expectation quickly dissolved, I did quite enjoy the book. It wasn't a laugh a page or something though. LESS HUMOR THAN EXPECTED, I AM DONE WITH THIS DISCLAIMER.

Anyways, so the Amazon summary really crapped all over the book. The screaming staircase isn't even brought up until page 222 (my copy has 363 pages for the record). Seriously Amazon summary? You suck.

Don't worry though, there are certainly many creepy bits to keep you trembling slightly in your seat until you hit the screaming staircase.

In the mean time, let me tell you about the first thirty percent of the book which the summary ruefully skipped over. I'm only going to do up until chapter 8, which is page 101 in my book. For those playing along with the math, I know a true thirty percent is at roughly page 110, but that's the middle of chapter 8. So no.

Alright, the premise in which this world works. There are 'visitors' (GHOSTS) that show up as night falls depending on where their deaths happen. There's still a lot that is not known about the phenomenon but people can easily be killed if a ghost touches them. So it's pretty terrifying. There are three types of ghosts; type ones are kind of harmless, type twos can do some physical manipulations depending on what they are, and type three is a huge unknown whirlpool of questions. Children have various degrees of sensitivity to ghosts. Some can see them very well, some can hear them very well, some of them can see their death glow (a spot where someone died), while others can only vaguely sense something nearby or see a blurry shape. Sometimes children don't have senses at all. However, there seems to be a common theme that adults cannot do anything with visitors besides put iron in everything (it repels ghosts).

The children are a driving force in getting rid of ghosts and they usually belong to companies that also employ adults to go with them (usually ex-ghost hunters) as supervisors that direct the missions. By belong, I mean employment, they get paid (NOT SLAVERY).

So that's kind of what's happening in the world. There are neat little gadgets that pop up that show how they're making progress in fighting off the ghosts or what sort of protection people have employed. It's all neat and you'll find out when you read the book.

The book begins with Lockwood and Lucy going out on an assignment to investigate the potentially lingering spirit of a woman's late husband (he died by falling the stairs). It's quite a thrilling scene that gets cut off so we're flung into Lucy's back story. We find out about what drove her out of her quaint town and into an interview at Lockwood & Company. ...that really summarizes everything up to page 101 without revealing hardly anything.

I am pleased with myself.
And most likely enraging you.

Alright, so this is what you should know.

Lucy is a great character to like as she's courageous, a little timid as far as trusting her instincts, and doesn't really put up with the non-sense that both Lockwood and George (the only other member of Lockwood & Co so far) dole out in great measures.

The characters of Lockwood and George have their merits and their secrets; I'm curious as to what we'll find out with in the next book.

The only thing that I could say was slightly disappointing was that in the end (THIS IS A KIND OF SPOILER ALERT, ALL THE VAGUENESS FROM ME), there was a 'warnings' of great evil to come or some mumbo jumbo. Whatever. I understand it's a nice thing to be like EVERYTHING IS ABOUT TO GO CRAZIER IN THE NEXT BOOK, WHOOO, STAY TUNED FOR ACTION. But really? I like the characters a lot so I'd be okay with just character growth stories (and finding out Lockwood's and George's secrets (which were slightly alluded to but not really delved into because they may or may not have secrets (I'm still hoping they have secrets))).

This is a series that I'll be looking for a sequel to. I don't know if it's a series, or a trilogy, dualogy, or whatever; but I do know that there SHOULD be a sequel given with how it has ended.

Happy reading!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bluffton, a discussion

Brittany and I went to the ALA conference together and gathered many of the same advanced reader's copies while we were there. We were also escorted around by the fabulous Lynn Rutan and Cindy Dobrez of Bookends Blog.

That led to the inspiration of having conversations about the books we managed to wrangle at the conference. Granted, it won't be every book that we picked up most likely but there is hope that we'll be able to do this with some frequency.


Brittany blogs at Summerland Sushi, and her blog post about Bluffton can be found HERE.

In case you missed it, my blog about Bluffton can be found HERE.

In the following discussion, I AM THE GREEN COLOR. Brittany is THE BLUE COLOR.


There might be different colors amidst the paragraphs; that is us chiming in on what the other says. The colors should remain true to who said what.


This will undoubtedly contain spoilers about Bluffton as it's a book discussion. Please do not read on if you would like the book to remain unspoiled.


Without further ado, here is our discussion led by questions. We tried not to be repetitive with what we already posted in our original blogs.




What made you want to read it?

BRITTANY: Phelan’s “The Storm in the Barn” was a beautiful piece of work, not only because of the art, but because of the story as well. After we met him at ALA, I was very intrigued by Bluffton because it takes place in a town that I’ve actually been too. Muskegon has a very different reputation today, although I don’t know much about the Bluffton neighborhood. I would love to visit to see if it has stood the test of time.

LIZ: I really wanted to read it because the author was a very nice fellow and signed my book, and drew a face in it. Sometimes, that’s really all it takes for me.


Did you think the characters and their problems/decisions/relationships were believable or realistic?

BRITTANY: The story is such a short time frame - three summers over three years- and nothing much happens, so it was difficult to connect with the characters. They seemed real enough to keep my invested in the story but some of the events, such as Henry and Sally becoming an item, seemed to come out of the blue. Obviously, the reader misses huge gaps of time during the fall, winter, and spring months that could have better supported the idea of their relationship.

LIZ: I enjoyed the character of Sally because she seemed rather smart for her age and for the time period in which she dwelled, but not in an unnatural way. She was a good amount of proper and sass for me with how little we saw her.


Talk about the author's use of language/writing style.

LIZ: The author seemed to only use language to emphasize what was already happening amongst the pages. So much was told through facial expressions and the reaction of the characters; the body language of the characters was impeccable.

BRITTANY: I agree that spoken dialogue and/or monologue is only used to really bring home what is going on with the characters. It also serves as a great way to sum up the events that Henry misses while staying home in Muskegon.


Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?

LIZ: The characters did seem real and believable; I can kind of relate to Henry in the way that he really wanted to be able to be like Buster. To be able to take falls, perform with the vaudeville folks, and just be a star. I relate in the sense that I’d like to be author, maybe not a star author, but an author of some caliber. I can relate to his predicament of being capable of doing it, but having worry and hesitations. Although I have also run into a lot of teachers who will share their wisdom with me while Buster would not help Henry learn to be a performer.

BRITTANY: The characters seemed real and believable enough, but I didn’t find much to relate on. It was a just a good, entertaining story for me, which is one of my favorite kinds.


Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?

LIZ: I was uncomfortable with the way the Child Protective Services was brought up. As an adult, I understand that throwing a child around stage is a monstrous thing to do; especially if that child seems to become injured from it. However, through a kid’s eyes I can see that the CPS would be monsters for taking Buster away from his family and his life as a performer.

BRITTANY: I would be interested to learn more about the role CPS played in Buster’s life and what CPS was actually like at the time. Government agencies, especially in this period, were notorious for doing everything they could to get publicity, good, bad, or otherwise. We also have labor laws and unions in place now that serve to protect children in the entertainment industry. While I agree that working Buster as often as they did was not in his best interest, neither was tearing him away from his family and sending him to a boys’ home. Often, CPS doesn’t take into account what the child wants, even when that child is old enough to articulate their wishes.


Who was your favorite character? What did you appreciate about him/her?

LIZ: I’m going to surprise myself after some consideration and say that Henry’s Father was actually my favorite character. I really appreciated the gentle acceptance and patience he gave towards Henry. It seemed to bring a certain balance to the book.

BRITTANY: My favorite character is actually comprised of all of the background characters that made up the vaudeville troupe. They all seemed very close to each other and were not only supportive of kids in the troupe, but also accepting of all of the neighborhood kids. It seems like such a fun, open atmosphere - I would have loved to have seen it!




Happy book discussions!


(Again, the formatting might be a little odd on this as it doesn't translate well to copy it from a Google document into a blog post. I don't know why, it just isn't happy about it.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Burning Sky

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

I'm legitimately disappointed that I couldn't finish this book.

Disclaimer: I attempted to read the advanced reader's copy of this book. It will be released on September 17, 2013.

An amazon summary before I 'dig in', "Just before the start of Summer Half, in April 1883, a very minor event took place at Eton College, that venerable and illustrious English public school for boys. A sixteen-year-old pupil named Archer Fairfax returned from a three-month absence, caused by a fractured femur, to resume his education.

Almost every word in the preceding sentence is false. Archer Fairfax had not suffered a broken limb. He had never before set foot in Eton.
His name was not Archer Fairfax. And he was not, in fact, even a he.

This is the story of a girl who fooled a thousand boys, a boy who fooled an entire country, a partnership that would change the fate of realms, and a power to challenge the greatest tyrant the world had ever known.

Expect magic." AMAZON LINK OF ....WHAT

The premise of this book was a little rocky as the world building seemed really faulty and I wasn't entirely sure where anything was or where anything was going. There also seemed to be an innate ability to 'port' or 'vault' to places, I'm not entirely sure if there's a difference between the two.

There's a lot of magic everywhere. All the time. Magic. Elemental mages, magical items, magic magic magic.

THERE'S A WHOLE LOT OF MAGIC.

That is all fine and dandy.

I was willing to work through the murky details as the narration switched between an elemental mage and the kind-of prince of the realm.

I drew the line when the two narrators saw each other and were like WHOA I THINK I LOVE THEM, WAIT THAT'S UNREASONABLE, BUT I'M GOING TO NOTICE EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY, IS THIS LOVE?

...there are a handful of moments where they even think things like, "Well normally I'm not nearly as attracted to a person as I am to them. I shouldn't get starry eyed though." Nope nope nope.

I think the amazon summary is a sufficient summary since I didn't get any farther in the book than page 132 out of 448 pages. Again, I got my hands on the advanced reader's copy, so it might be different when the book hits the shelves in stores.

I will say that the premise I got through was pretty interesting, and I liked the female main character (elemental mage) as she was feisty yet responsible. But then the male character (kind-of prince) was all suppressed emotions, careful calculations, frightfully resourceful, and resigned to fate/destiny/prophecy, I just kind of got 'meh' about the whole situation.

I mean, the elemental mage (female narrator who has a ridiculously complicated name to spell, so I'm not attempting it) had a guardian in the legal sense, then it turned into the actual guarding sense, and then she was whisked away by a magical trunk after she summoned lightning. Sounds fantastic right?

Enter prince and the female meeting and I just rolled my eyes at the pages so many times I wasn't sure what I was reading.

Perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for a magical and emotionally magical romance novel of sorts.

It sounded cool as a premise, but I wanted to see the world that the romance was going to stumble around in and concentration on the political strife, etc; it seemed like all it wanted to do was love though.

Boring.

...but I only got to page 132 before calling it quits. Maybe it got better? Maybe it got worse? I don't know.

I'm not going to stick around to find out either.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Audrey, Wait!

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Disclaimer: After reading, Also Known As by Robin Benway (that review can be found HERE), I sought out another book by her and this is what I found.

Without further ado, an amazon summary, "When funny, charming, absolutely-normal Audrey Cuttler dumps her boyfriend Evan, he writes a song about her that becomes a number-one hit?and rockets Audrey to stardom!
Suddenly, tabloid paparazzi are on her tail and Audrey can barely hang with her friends at concerts or the movies without getting mobbed?let alone score a date with James, her adorable coworker at the Scooper Dooper. Her life will never be the same?at least, not until Audrey confronts Evan live on MTV and lets the world know exactly who she is!" AMAZON LINK OF BROKEN TEXT

I literally copy and pasted that from Amazon. All the derpy random question marks are actually on the site. Amazon, you need some help sometimes.

Anyways.

Muddling through the summary, Audrey is a hilarious girl who is really into music and ends up dumping her 'rocker' boyfriend Evan at the beginning of the book. (She's got reasons and they're not silly.) His band goes on to perform later that night (which Audrey attends because music) and reveals he wrote a song about her. The song kind of tears her to shreds a little but it's a killer song and she hopes that people will soon forget and that it will be swept under the rug.

It goes a way for a little while...before it returns in full force and throws Audrey's life into a very unwanted media circus chaos.

First off, I loved this book. This gets a recommended book label because it had me laughing the whole way through. I loved Audrey, I adored Victoria, Jonah was the perfect guy, Evan was well depicted, and James was just too cute! There was a lot of funny, angst-filled narration from Audrey and how ridiculous she can be.

I feel like I relate a lot to Audrey because I get over the top ridiculous in my shenanigans frequently and am also rewarded with usually grins and laughter.

I thought a lot of the characters stayed resolutely the same and reacted to the ever changing environment of the book. It was fascinating to see the way in which the media slowly infiltrated her life and then was suddenly everywhere, trying to capture any moment of Audrey's life as they could. Paparazzi? You better believe it. Classmates selling out information about you? Yup, even if it's false.

But basically the book walks through the steps of suddenly unwanted stardom, the ups, the downs, and the what-the-heck-happened-to-my-life kind of moments.

There's also James and her adventures at the Scooper Dooper (her part time job at an ice cream parlor (think Dairy Queen)). They're woefully true to the situation but wonderful with her humor peppering the situation.

I was only slightly thrown by the school situation since it wasn't given a clear description of the high school, but then again it's school so maybe it isn't that different from everyone else's high school? I don't know. That was literally the only bit I had a slight issue with.

I laughed, I loved it, and I went on the emotional roller coaster ride with Audrey.

Totally worth it.

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bluffton

Bluffton by Matt Phelan

This is a book I managed to get at the ALA conference and it was signed by the author with Buster's unsmiling expression! I'll post a picture of it below. Yay!

Disclaimer: The book I read is the Advanced Reader's Copy, although the book is actually out in print. The version I have is in black and white, so I bet I'm missing out on some colorful fun images.

So an amazon summary, "In the summer of 1908, in Muskegon, Michigan, a visiting troupe of vaudeville performers is about the most exciting thing since baseball. They’re summering in nearby Bluffton, so Henry has a few months to ogle the elephant and the zebra, the tightrope walkers and — lo and behold — a slapstick actor his own age named Buster Keaton. The show folk say Buster is indestructible; his father throws him around as part of the act and the audience roars, while Buster never cracks a smile. Henry longs to learn to take a fall like Buster, "the human mop," but Buster just wants to play ball with Henry and his friends. With signature nostalgia, Scott O’Dell Award–winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan visualizes a bygone era with lustrous color, dynamic lines, and flawless dramatic pacing." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

This book is set in the Muskegon, MI area; more specifically Bluffton. Personally, I take up my hermit-hood in West Michigan in the lakeshore area (Holland/Grand Haven/Muskegon) and made a trip to see what the Bluffton area was like and uncover a bit more about the history. It was worth the trip, I didn't manage to take any photos because my phone battery died (and really, did you want more horrible pictures from that camera? Bleh) but I got to see how the history was still present. It was pretty neat.

Yes, someday I will master the art of taking pictures
with my phone. Until then, slightly not good picture.
But that face! So good.
The story itself tells the story of Henry and his relationship with Buster over the summers they spend together. There's a lot of laughter between the pages; but it's also touched by some very real, 'scary', adult elements dealt with in a child's attitude.

I also hadn't heard of the vaudeville performers before so that was pretty exciting history for me. I also thought it was kind of interesting how they portrayed Buster's relationship with the stage, his family, the other performers, and the government official type folks. ...have I said too much?

Anyways.


The character's emotions were easy to read as their faces were very articulate. That's a weird way of saying the artist was awesome. Don't mind me.

Plus, it's kind of like a circus feel to it. There are elephants, giraffes and different performers doting throughout the pages, yet the story is between the two boys. The relationship between them. So the vaudeville bit is ever present, but it concentrates more on the boys and how relationships can shape a person in ways.

If you haven't got on, it is a graphic novel, which I would normally put in my 'The Comic Book Chronicle' page. I just had to give it a real review because the author was really fun to meet.

I thought it was a pretty peaceful, beautiful story. If that makes sense.

Happy reading!