Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best Books of 2013

Today is the last day of 2013 as I know it.

It is time to compile my favorite books of the year, I will restrict myself to ten. The list isn't going to be in any particular order, and the books are simply going to be the ones that I read this year; not the ones that were released this year. I'll only be numbering them to make sure I hit ten and no more. This year is a little refreshing as I will only pick books that I've blogged about.


1. Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? The premise of the story made it something a little more unique than what I usually come across. However, the humor was what sold me. I'm pretty sure there were quite a few times where I started laughing at the book and unnerved those around me. Worth it.

What stuck with me about this book was the average vigilante theme; Cricket didn't fight unless provoked, and he fought to protect the little ones. It seemed to resonate a stronger theme of family; of fighting to protect those you love.

2. Doll Bones by Holly Black

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? There's something haunting about this book that for me, of the Queen who wanted to return home. To me, it's a perfect example of trying to figure out when children start to become something older and more mature and what does that mean? Does it mean stop playing with dolls or does it mean understanding your passions and pursuing them?

What stuck with me about this book was definitely the image of the Queen's head appearing to Zach in a mirror while he was looking at his reflection. I like the flair of supernatural present in this book where the rest of it was very grounded in reality.

3. The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? I loved House of Scorpion (the first book in this potential series...I'm hoping it's going to be a series, please, give me more books!) and was utterly delighted to know that there was a sequel AND the sequel was so good. I love the dystopia world of this book, the characters, the menacing presence of El Patron that lingers, and Matt trying to struggle through all of it. It was just beautiful.

What stuck with me about this book was the future of the environment. How one, kind of crazy man managed to unwittingly save the environment and what it took to save it.

4. Paperboy by Vince Vawter

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? The writing portrays the voice of this book so well that I remember while I was reading it, sometimes I would read a page or two again just to enjoy the sound of it. I truly enjoyed the heart of each character that was shown, the different layers of stories that were simultaneously told, and the curious innocence of a young boy who already has a daily hardship.

What stuck with me about this book was how the writing portrayed the stutter. I have yet to encounter another book that has portrayed stuttering so well and how it effects the way the narrator deals with their environment. I have yet to find another book to be so consistent with the process, execution, and anxiety of a stutter.

5. Ettiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? Because it's absolutely delightful. It had a great sense of humor, actually got me to figure out what a petticoat is (I have a on-going stand off with understanding peculiar clothing), and was just so fun to read. The mystery elements of it weren't annoying and I didn't come across any characters who seemed too dumb to live (which seems too common in 'action' books). I enjoyed the espionage elements just as much as I enjoyed the etiquette elements and I found Sophronia to be quite charming.

What stuck with me about this book was the fearless spirit of adventure and 'can-do' attitude of Sophronia. She didn't seem to know what she was about to do half the time, but she committed to to doing it anyways.

6. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? It haunts me. There is so much imagery, so much of the tone of this book that when I gaze into a stormy sky I wind up thinking about this book for a while. It is beautiful, enchanting, and it reminds me of the old fairy tales. I absolutely adore this odd book. It was aggressively chilling, but now I cannot forget it. I loved the way the narration switched to show different sides of the same story and how it affected the entire island and even those on the mainland.

What stuck with me about this book was the intense imagery of the seals themselves and the women who emerged that only longed to be returned to the sea; to be a seal again.

7. Croak by Gina Damico

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? This book was absolutely hilarious while dealing with the very serious topic of death and the world after. I was delighted by the suspense, character development, and world creation surrounding the Grimms and Lex. This is a series that I'm watching.

What stuck with me about this book was the different scythes that the characters wielded and their attitudes about their job. I loved the small town feel of Croak and the residents who had 'seen it all' and were just charming.

8. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? The False Prince is driven by a page turning narrator (Sage) that has a spark of humor with the quality of making sure people are treated as they should be treated. I absolutely adored the trials the boys had to face to be passed off as a false prince, and the tests to find out who had the mettle to potentially one day be king.

What stuck with me about this book was the character of Sage and how he went through the extra efforts of ensuring that even the servants were treated with respect. It was the small actions that really built to a larger picture.

9. A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? I enjoyed the changing chapters between different narrators but the story was never lost. I love how it's a puzzle, a mystery, and yet a story of love and kinship. I think one of more interesting aspects of this book was that a lot of people in the story had a talent even if it was a bit more obscure (like being able to spit really far). I liked the different talents shown and it left me wanting to know more about that world.

What stuck with me about this book was the urge to make baked goods for folks. ...seriously, it sounds weird but I find myself wondering what cake or baked good a person would like.

10. Finnikin of the Rock 

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list? This book was the beginning of a wonderful trilogy, and for that alone it made the list. The writing was very captivating as it did such a wonderful job of not only portraying the main characters, but also the people of the world (sometimes defining them by the flavor of their nations). It was very interesting to see the curse of Lumatare grip the land as well as how it affected those who were not from Lumatare. There was also the haunting of a war that wasn't truly fought but had a victor. The ravages of the lost kingdom were very well portrayed in the people who had to flee across the land in search of safety and refuge; the story was tinged with sadness but also encouraged hope.

What stuck with me about this book was how many times a red herring seemed to be thrown in but it would turn out to be relevant later in the book or in the later books.

That is it for 2013. I hope the next year brings a bunch of fun books.

Happy reading!

(1/4/2014) EDIT: I have to give Just One Day by Gayle Foreman an honorable mention. Because I LOVED IT and am about to receive the sequel Just One Year any day in the mail now. ANY DAY. o_o

My book review is HERE.

I just love it. See the review for further explanation. Yessssss.

Okay, happy reading again!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Taste Test

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore

This was an interesting book for me to read as I haven't come across a reality show in book form in a long while. That being said, the reality show is Taste Test where teenage chefs compete for a scholarship to a top chef school in Paris and $50,000. While they're competing, they also partake in classes that are food oriented but satisfy the requirements for high school/college course levels. So there's an interesting blend of competing, being on reality TV, dealing with school in all the chaos, and struggling with the people they're competing against.

Sounds like a complicated dish. Hehe (sorry not sorry.)

An amazon summary, "If you can grill it, smoke it, or fry it, Nora Henderson knows all about it. She’s been basting baby back ribs and pulling pork at her father’s barbeque joint since she was tall enough to reach the counter. When she’s accepted to Taste Test, a reality-television teen cooking competition, Nora can’t wait to leave her humble hometown behind, even if it means saying good-bye to her dad and her best friend, Billy. Once she’s on set, run-ins with her high-society roommate and the maddeningly handsome—not to mention talented—son of a famous chef, Christian Van Lorten, mean Nora must work even harder to prove herself. But as mysterious accidents plague the kitchen arena, protecting her heart from one annoyingly charming fellow contestant in particular becomes the least of her concerns. Someone is conducting real-life eliminations, and if Nora doesn’t figure out who, she could be next to get chopped for good. 

With romance and intrigue as delectable as the winning recipes included in the story, this debut novel will be devoured by all." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Let's talk about Nora. Nora grew up in her Dad's BBQ joint since she was little, has been best friends with Billy since forever, and wants to be a chef. Under Billy's provoking, she enters to get a chance to appear on Taste Test, gets accepted, and is off for a semester of competition.

Nora spends the next semester making friends, losing friends as they're "eighty-six"'d out of the competition, and struggling with her backwards relationship with Christian and Joy. Well, Joy is more of a mutual hatred, but Christian is a little weird.

This book is mostly comprised of kind of a romance story, kind of a competition story, and kind of a friendship story. I don't think it accomplished any of these very successfully, but overall the effect of the three merging together was quite nice.

There is also a mystery element to the story as there is sabotage at the competition, like a sink blowing up.

To me it seemed that the story was trying to do too much at once and it really lost it's ability to emotionally grab at me. It was a semi-good read.


Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Infernal Devices

Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve

I reviewed the first two books in this series, Mortal Engines, HERE and Predator's Gold, HERE. If you wish for these books to remain unspoiled, I recommend not reading this review. 

I would like to stop for a moment and talk a little about my impression of the series so far.

I have utterly enjoyed reading this series so far. I have emotionally responded to every character I've come across, there have been delightful amounts of everything eventually tying back into the story. As I mentioned in my last review, I find that the series has plot driven action, rather than action driving the plot. To me, it feels that the characters are very interwoven with their ambitions, goals, and their growth while remaining to the roots of their character has been very nice to read. I've enjoyed watching Hester and Tom grow up in a fashion and I've loved to watch the world they interact with change as well. I'm glad to see that Hester and Tom aren't the primary force that shapes the world, but the world has gone on without them to do things. As much as I enjoyed the darwinism in the first book, I surprisingly enjoyed the peace of Anchorage much more in the second book but it still had the element of being chased. I'm getting hard pressed to think of one thing I didn't like about the series, and that's just so good.

The series ends with A Darkling Plain, but I'm finding the book almost impossible to find. I will keep on it as this is a series I would love to see how this all finishes.

Let's get back to Infernal Devices with an amazon summary, "Nearly twenty years after the city of Anchorage settled down on the shores of the Dead Continent of America, Tom and Hester are leading quiet, peaceful lives. Their wild adventures happened so long ago that they seem like little more than stories told to children -- children such as their own daughter, Wren, who is so exquisitely bored that she'd welcome any sort of excitement. . . .
So when a trio of Lost Boys asks her to steal the mysterious and deadly Tin Book of Anchorage, Wren is only too happy to help. But the theft goes wrong, and the Lost Boys steal Wren, too, leaving Tom and Hester no choice: They must abandon their peaceful life and rescue their daughter. Their search will reunite them with enemies they thought they'd left behind forever, will ask of them sacrifices that no parent can make, and will cost one of them everything that matters most." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Tom and Hester have settled down in the rooted city of Anchorage where it crashed in America. Anchorage has managed to turn itself into a static settlement and the people have grown older and wiser in the almost twenty years since the events of Predator's Gold. Tom and Hester have had a child, Wren, who longs for adventure. One night, Wren is out and about when she sees Caul have an exchange with someone new who's appeared in Anchorage. She hides in the tall grasses and kind of overhears their conversation, but the stranger calls her out into the open. Wren approaches him and it's Gargle; he asks her to bring him the Tin Book of Anchorage. Wren is suspicious at first but fancies it to be an adventure so she agrees, but only if he'll take her away from Anchorage.

After that, we see more of what Anchorage has become and what has happened to the beloved characters from the the previous books. Wren manages to find and acquire the Tin Book with the unknowing help of Freya. She takes it back to Gargle but Caul sounds the alarm. Hester charges to get Wren and kills Gargle and his cohort Remora but Fishcake manages to get Wren and the Tin Book into the Screw Worm and heads off.

They hear a signal from a town of Brighton who say the parents of the Lost Boys know they're out there and want their children to come home. Fishcake it taken in by it and Wren goes along with it in the hopes that she'll be able to go back home. It's a trap. Brighton scoops them up and packages them to be slaves.

Meanwhile, Hester and Tom rally with Caul to set off to Grimsby where they assume the Lost Boy (Fishcake) would take Wren to Uncle.

...if you've read the other two books, this is a great third installment in the series. I'm halting myself from going into spoiler land.

I'm going to get my hands on that fourth book, hopefully soon.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Predator's Gold

Predator's Gold by Philip Reeve

I previously reviewed the first one in this series, Mortal Engines, HERE. It was a sufficient review, although a little short. If you would like Mortal Engines to remain unspoiled, I suggest skipping this review. There will undoubtedly be spoilers about Mortal Engines.

Without further ado, an amazon summary: "The Jenny was drifting across the shoulder of a big volcano. Beyond it there were no more mountains, just an endless blue-white plain stretching to the horizon. They were at the mercy of the wind, and it was carrying them helplessly into the Ice Wastes.

After two years of carefree traveling in the Jenny Haniver, Tom and Hester find themselves back in danger. Fleeing from the grim aviators of the Green Storm, they stumble onto the ice city of Anchorage just in time. But Anchorage is not a safe refuge: Devastated by plague, and haunted by thieves -- or perhaps ghosts -- the city is barely lurching along. The savage Huntsmen of Arkangel are closing in, and the young margravine must make a last desperate bid for survival. She sets a course for the Dead Continent -- America ...
In this breathtaking sequel to the award-winning Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve plunges us into a ruthless and terrifyingly believable world where cities eat each other, betrayal is as common as the blasted land the cities traverse, and loyalty holds the only chance of survival." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I think I figured out the main reason why I like this series as much as I do. It's one of the rare books that seems to truly let the plot drive the action rather than the action drive the plot. It's refreshing to read the style.


This book begins two years after the events of Mortal Engines; in the beginning it follows Tom and Hester on the adventures aboard the Jenny (Anna Fang's old airship). They've been found out by the Green Storm group who wish to take the Jenny from them and other various things. They manage to wind up on Anchorage; one of the few cities that is more of a scavenger than a city eater.

Anchorage itself is a different place as they have many customs, rituals, and 'ways of doing things' that is very rigid to their culture.

There is also the young leader of Anchorage who is lost at where to direct Anchorage to go. The whole city of Anchorage captures this feeling of being lost but hopeful that they will go somewhere that will help their lives grow more fruitful. When Tom and Hester wind up at Anchorage with the charming Professor Pennyroyal, things get a bit muddled up.

The city of Anchorage was beautiful to read about as the city relies on all of it's people to be in good condition, to do good work, and they treat each other with respect. Unlike the other cities where slavery and 'ladder-climbing' for positions run rampant.

Anchorage is also being plagued by 'Lost Boys'. Boys who were stolen from different cities at a young age and raised under 'Uncle' to be the burglars of cities.

....again, I'm at a loss of what to say because it's a good book but the plot is so interwoven that every 'red-herring' eventually comes back into play later in the book, or in the next book.

I, am going to embark on the next one and will hopefully report back with good news.

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

This book came out a bit ago, but I remember reading it when it first came out, and then loosing touch with the series.

Cindy from Bookends got me in touch with the series and I'm happily embarking on the adventure through this town eat town world.

...SAY WHAT???? Don't worry, I'll get to it. After an amazon summary, "London is hunting[.]

The great Traction City lumbers after a small town, eager to strip its prey of all assets and move on. Resources on the Great Hunting Ground that once was Europe are so limited that mobile cities must consume one another to survive, a practice known as Municipal Darwinism.
Tom, an apprentice in the Guild of Historians, saves his hero, Head Historian Thaddeus Valentine, from a murder attempt by the mysterious Hester Shaw -- only to find himself thrown from the city and stranded with Hester in the Out Country. As they struggle to follow the tracks of the city, the sinister plans of London's leaders begin to unfold ..." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Rereading this as an adult, it was still just as good as I remember when I first read it when I was much younger. That's awesome (by the by).

This is one of those stories that becomes very interwoven as almost every character is used or comes back into play later in the story. There is usually some hidden connection that is revealed later as to how the characters connect on a deeper level, and it plays up hidden relationships.

With most books that I'm absolutely in love with, I have a difficult time talking about as I definitely do not want to delve into spoiler land.

What the very basic plot of this book can be boiled down to is that after Tom meets Hester, they abruptly leave the crawling town of London and spend much of the book trying to get back to London. The rest of the plot winds up being about Hester's back story, who wants them to get to London and who wants to prevent them from getting to London (and why), while also being set in this future distopia that was brought on by a 60 minute war by the ancients some thousand years ago.

It's very intense. I'm having lovely time reading through the series (more like plowing through and having nights where I stay up yawning just to get in another page or two).

It is an old book, but it definitely has not deteriorated with age.

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Navigating Early

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

This book reminded me a lot of young boy adventure stories; most notably the works of Mark Twain such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as well as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I enjoyed a lot of it just for the sense of rough and tumble adventure it exuded.

Here's the amazon summary to get a better feel for this book, "New York Times Best Seller Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool, Newbery Medalist for Moon Over Manifest, is an odyssey-like adventure of two boys' incredible quest on the Appalachian Trail where they deal with pirates, buried secrets, and extraordinary encounters.

At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother's death and placed in a boy's boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains. Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can't help being drawn to Early, who won't believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the Great Appalachian Bear, Timber Rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as The Fish, who never returned from the war. When the boys find themselves unexpectedly alone at school, they embark on a quest on the Appalachian Trail in search of the great black bear. But what they are searching for is sometimes different from what they find. They will meet truly strange characters, each of whom figures into the pi story Early weaves as they travel, while discovering things they never realized about themselves and others in their lives." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

It's the end of World War II, Jack Baker's mother has died and he's moved from Kansas to Maine as his Dad is trying to bring him closer to where he's stationed. He's enrolled in a boarding school where he meets Early Auden (the title is a clever play on youth and the story's events) who is a strange young boy with his own tragic past. Jack is struggling with his mother's death, being the new kid at school, and trying to understand a Dad he hasn't seen since he was 9 (he's now 13).

Jack loves to read National Geographic magazines and has a thirst for an adventure. He gets more than he bargained for when Early steps up to be his friend, to help with Jack's loneliness. The boys embark on an adventure of friendship, of pi, of finding family love, and getting a knack on just how to survive.

I felt that this story really rolled everything together in a beautiful way. There were a lot of teachable life moments that snuck into the story, there was a lot of character growth from both Early and Jack, while managing to have a constant action aspect. None of it was overwhelming but rather well balanced.

Well-balanced to the point where I feel a little tongue tied trying to talk about the book without revealing too much. It's one of those books in a good way.

There was an interesting narration in this book as it was told from Jack's perspective for the most part but there were spots where every so often it followed Pi's adventure (which comes into play later in the book). Both were interesting and never seemed out of place or poorly timed when the narration switched.

I thought the language of the writing let itself be easily imagined to take place after World War II; I didn't notice anything that was glaringly obvious to be an out of period reference, then again I'm not well-versed in World War II in Maine. So, eh?

It kept my interest, it was a quick read, and had a heartwarming, kind of coming of age message.

Happy reading!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Of Beast and Beauty

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Disclaimer: Even though the book has been released since July, I managed to read the advanced reader's copy. Undoubtedly, there will be minor differences between the one I read and the published version, but I imagine them to be most fixing typos and formatting. Nothing too drastic most likely.

...an amazon summary, "In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love." AMAZON LINK OF WHOA THAT'S A LOT REVEALED

First, I feel that I harp a lot on switching narrations in books. This book switched between the narration of three characters; Isra, Bo, and Gem. I liked it a lot because it wasn't complete chapters and then sudden switch in narrations (for the most part). They broke up the chapters nicely if they had different narrations. It was pretty nice. When the narration switched, it actually seemed to have purpose and wasn't random nonsense. Again, it was pretty nice.


On this book, the amazon summary definitely needs to be ignored because it reveals WAYYY too much of the story. Let's begin.

Once upon a time there was a God who helped the planet. One day, a bunch of humans came in a ship and were like LET'S COLONIZE THIS PLANETTTTT. The planet was like, WHOA, WHOA, CHILL OUT, and the humans went YOU CAN'T MAKE ME and began to build domes. The God was like WHOA, WHOA NOT COOL, I CAN'T HELP YOU IF YOU GET IN THOSE DOMES. The humans were like WHATEVS WE DO WHAT WE WANT. So they built the domes and God was like NO, SERIOUSLY STOPPPP. Then the humans had some weird thing happen and they're like, WAIT WAIT, IF WE WANT THIS TO BE AWESOME, WE SHOULD MAKE A BLOOD SACRIFICE TO GOD. God was like WHOA, NO NO, I DO NOT WANT YOUR BLOOD....but his personality split so he was evil blood needing God in the dome and gracious God out of the dome. Gracious God gifted the humans with mutations so they could better live in the environment because the domes were REALLY screwing with the environment, caused the God to split into two, anddddd everyone slowly begins to die.

Flash forward to present time where Isra is in line to the throne of the families that continue to make the blood sacrifices to the evil God. She's blind, her mother went crazy, and her father has questionable motivations (not sexual at all (serious face)). She's been living trapped in her tower since her mother came and has monstrous traits where her skin is papery and feels as if it's peeling.

Switch to Gem who is a monstrous, his people are dying, and he breaks into the dome to retrieve a rose bush (the symbol of the sacrifices). He gets caught and arrested but Isra is like NOOOO SPARE HIM. So they do and they begin a weird hateship. It's tentative friendship from Isra but all hate from Gem.

Then there's Bo who is like the misunderstood boy who crushes on Isra and feels very entitled to everything. He says he loves Isra, but it doesn't really seem like it.

So the driving plot of the story is that Isra wants to heal the monstrous and prevent any mutations (and help her own mutation), Gem wants to save his people, and Bo just wants to be King (by marrying Isra).

Engage shenanigans, emotional knots of weirdness, and some annoying stuff.


Annoying stuff like the book driving home the point that Isra is BLIND but about a third of the way through the book Bo is like, "Dude, don't drink your tea, I think your being poisoned". Isra is like, "OKAY," and then a couple weeks later, BAM EYESIGHT.

I have qualms with this on so many levels. When Isra was blind, she was still a very strong, confident character. She was a little unsure of how everything looked, and was hesitant to make a stand, but she was working up to it.

Then BAM EYESIGHT and suddenly she could truly love Gem, she could loathe Bo, she could suddenly pick up on all these small nuances of the world because of her sight. Almost implying that only with sight could she be a complete person; someone whole and worthy of being called Queen.

I LOATHE THIS IMPLICATION. SHE WAS FINE WITHOUT HER SIGHT. That magic moment should have waited until the end like when Needle got fixed. Seriously. If you wanted it THAT bad it could have waited.

I'm morally upset by the implications.

I also REALLY wanted to see more of Gem and the desert people. I was wayyyy done with the domed city before it led us other places. I was wayyyy done with the dome city period.

....yep, I'm done here.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

I previously reviewed the first book in this series, Throne of GlassHERE. ...if you read my review of the first book, you're probably wondering why I bothered to pick up the second book. In my previous blog post, I had a merry time picking apart the book.

...after making that post, I ended up discussing the first book with different folks and after many internal debates with myself, I ended up giving the second book a go.

...it was MUCH better than the first book. ....which isn't saying a whole lot.

If you would like Throne of Glass to remain unspoiled for you, I suggest you stop reading this review right now. It will undoubtedly have spoilers for the previous book.

Like in my other review for this series, I'm going to refer to the characters by their titles or roles within the story because their names are exhausting to spell and I pronounce them weirdly with my reader voice so for my convenience, titles/roles.

...an amazon summary, "She is the greatest assassin her world has ever known.
But where will her conscience, and her heart, lead her?

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she willing to fight for?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I just finished reading this book, and I am having troubles remembering the middle of the book. I distinctly remember the beginning of the book, the end of the book, but the middle gets a little hazy. There are a few points where I have an 'Oh yeah!' moment, but I'm referring to the book a bit to remember. ...that should tell you things. I suppose it could also be that most of the middle of the book was wrapped in mystery, and some of the mystery was solved by the end.

Sigh. I need to stop arguing with myself, I'm too good at it.

Now this sequel really did read like a romance novel, and it was. There was a lot happening between Captain of the guard and Assassin (at the end of Throne of Glass, Assassin went all NOOOOOOOOOOO at the Prince (see book for details, LOL)) because love, duties to the king, friendship, and all that garble.

There was also the ongoing struggles of accepting that the Assassin is an assassin and carried out duties as such. Both Captain of the Guard and Prince kind of recoiled from her when she started murdering....because she's an ASSASSIN, THE BEST IN ALL OF THE LAND. I don't know why that would ever suddenly be a hiccup when that was established from PAGE 1 OF THE FIRST BOOK. REALLY? WHAT DO YOU THINK ASSASSIN MEANT? HUGGING KITTENS? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

So Assassin goes about life being like, "Man, I hope I solve this mystery about the Wrydmarks. Hopefully nothing too weird happens. What's that over-dang it. DANG IT. RUN FROM THE WYRD." There's a whole convoluted plot that happens with the Wyrdmarks, the history of the magic of the land, and more on the fae. That was prettttty sweet.

What really ground on my nerves for this book was how much the Assassin was just EMOTIONAL. ALL THE TIME. I understand there were a lot of things to emotionally respond to, but seriously, CALM DOWN.

Even with all of this said, I'm still going to pick up the third book.

Here's why.


I want to know what happens to the Assassin and the Captain of the Guard. I want to know what happens to the Prince with all of his magic. I want to know what happens with this war torn ravaged land. I want to know why the wicked king is so weird about everything.

I want to know why the Assassin is suddenly the lost heir to the true throne. I want to know why she's fae. I want to know what happened with all of the magic ever. I want to know more about the iron teeth witches and the more supernatural creatures.

I really want the supernatural creatures to be a more present thing, I wish they had been all along. Serious.

Side note: I feel that the author made a BIG DEAL about the Assassin waiting until she was 18 to have sex. (Note: sex is only referenced, there were no graphic scenes. Just the characters being like I WANT YOU *suspicious lapse of time*.) Like she was waiting to be legal. Ummm....she's an assassin. SHE'S AN ASSASSIN. I feel like things of that technicality are no longer a big deal after murdering people. Also, the assassin confesses that she totally would have had sex with previous love (Sam) who died in the e-novels I'm sure (which I refuse to read because I shouldn't need to).


The writing of the book was still trying with how slowly the mystery was unveiled, but I can see how it all had a point and looped in on itself. I can see how easy it would be to stop at book 2. However, I wish the author would have more faith in her readers to let some things remain more unresolved until the next book. I feel like there was a lot of 'tidying up' of the smaller loose ends.

...so I'll pick up the third book. I feel like this is becoming a sort of situation where I know it's bad writing, but I want to read it anyways.

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Keeper of the Lost Cities

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

First disclaimer: I definitely sat down with this book with the intention of being able to put it down whenever. In  about four hours I had made it through the entire book (roughly 500 pages) and I'm a little flabbergasted but entirely sure that I want more.

Second disclaimer: This book tends to run a little younger than what I normally read. The heroine (Sophie Foster) is twelve in this book so there are elements of having frequent emotional turmoil and sometimes a weak grasp of the more serious statements issued by the adults in the world.

With that, a amazon summary, "In this riveting debut, a telepathic girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world—before the wrong person finds the answer first.

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks…
But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.

But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I'm going to give the highlights of Sophie's back story. She's incredibly smart due to her photographic memory and has been deemed a child prodigy as she's already a senior in high school at age twelve. She has a normal family, a cat, and can hear thoughts. ...you know, the normal stuff. Heh. So one day as she's on a field trip to the museum, a boy with very electric blue eyes and she can't hear his thoughts.

...WHATTTT. No really, it's cool. It turns out that this boy is also a telepath and is searching for her. They have a moment where he opens the world to her (think Aladdin style with less songs(tragic)) and it turns out that she's an elf. Elves are real, goblins are real, and a whole litany of other mythical creatures are real. They're inhabiting spaces that have been sealed off from the humans. It turns out that a lot of elves also have an extra ability of some sort (seemingly, there are slight implications that it's about fifty-fifty for the population of extra abilities and not). They also despise humans for going back on the species contract that was signed forever ago that the humans broke. So there's that. (More on that in the book but not a whole lot more at this point; probably more on that later in the series.)

Sophie gets to this other place by traveling on light (just ignore everything you know about physics and you'll be fine) with Fitz and her human existence begins to unravel as she accepts that she's an elf.

Sophie begins to have a crazy adventure as her life gets all out of whack.

...but really that was only the action generator for me. I was fascinated by the world of the story.

I have about thirty thousand questions about the Lost Cities (which I imagine will be answered in later books), I want to see more elfish culture, I want to see more weird powers that the elves have. I want to know what are all the possibilities of gifts that elves can have. I WANT TO KNOW, CAN YOU SHOW ME YOUR WORLD? ...no really, if you could do that, that would be GREAT.

The only struggles I really had with this book was the age (just younger than what I'm used to reading), tedious friendships, and a lot of butt hurt guys (that was actually pretty funny). I'm a little at odds with a weird potential love square that seems to be shaping up but I will not be enthused about awkward adventures in love that I have not even read yet.

I was really pleased with how FAST it was to read and how it didn't require a ridiculous amount of mental work to get through (I'n looking at the books I rage sleep on...and others). The writing could have used a little better development in some scenes, yet I found the overall effect good.

It was a nice book.

I believe it has a sequel out already....I'm going to have to pick that up. ...hmm....

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Disclaimer: I read an advanced reader's copy of this book. This book will be released on December 10, 2013 (according to amazon.com). It will inevitably have some changes made to it, but the advanced reader's copy is usually close to the finished product.

I'll begin with an amazon summary, "It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. 

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they're worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

They spend maybe...five chapters or so aboard the Icarus. This section basically bleats this about Lilac: 'LILAC IS REALLY RICH AND FAMOUS BUT HAS ALL OF THESE SOCIAL LIMITATIONS PLACED BY HER SUPREMELY WEALTHY FATHER *SNOOT SNOOT MURDER*' while it bleats this about Trevar: 'JUST A SMALL TOWN BOY, SUDDENLY MADE IT FAMOUS, WHEN HE TOOK A FEW MISSIONS INTO SPACEEEE' (imagine singing that to Journey-Don't Stop Believing (you're welcome)). Seriously. They have this like, 'ooo I might be attracted to you' moment but Lilac is like 'NO MY FATHER WILL MURDER HIM, MUST SNOOT HIM AWAY' and Traver's like 'WHOA, no amount of pretty is worth that crazy'. ...the beginning of the book.

Then everything gets out of whack, they get into a escape pod which Lilac manages to free them from the giant spaceship (Icarus) after their escape pod doesn't properly eject. So she's not too dumb to live, but she gets close too many times for comfort (more on that later). They crash on the planet with one primary goal: GET HOME (and live long enough to get home, but that's a sidenote right?). Enter survival mode.

For forever.

....honestly, this book dragged a bit to flesh out the character and relationship dynamic of Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen. I made it through the book because I had a friend tell me it was quite good, and the summary on the back of my copy of the book was much better than the amazon summary.

...still, I sigh a little at how much time they spent just foraging their way across the planet where they crashed because they wanted to get home. It reached a point where I started getting a bit sleepy every time they mentioned getting a distress signal through some weird way so they could GO HOME. I understand why the narration went through such lengths to portray the struggle of their journey, but it still aggravates me.

I kind of liked the style of the book as they effectively used the two first person narrations to their full effect. It's not often that authors can successfully do that. Not often. The writing itself was nice as the details were flawless in execution as such that I knew what the world looked like while not being bogged down by too much description at once. There weren't many tedious moments where it took a page to tell me they walked about ten feet, but I knew every inch of what they saw for no apparent reason other than DAMN THAT'S PRETTY.

Alright, we're going into obscure spoiler land. I'm going to outline the vein of the plot, but not give too many details.


There's a mystery that starts to develop as an almost haunting begins to happen to Lilac; Trevar chocks it up to stress...but it could be something more.

I enjoyed how that mystery developed as it seemed like an underlying deal, but was pretty wicked. Sometimes it seemed eradicate in it's purpose and there are moments which I'm still puzzled about.

Yet, there were moments where it really wanted me to understand all of the science and space of the book. For the most of it, I dutifully nodded like a student, 'Uh-huh, yup, that makes sense, sureeeeee' in the hopes that the plot would just go. I don't know if all the science or space stuff was realistic, but it is a fiction book, but I still want a touch of 'this could potentially happen one dayyyy' sense to it. So...there's that. I need someone with more science/physics/space technology to read this and either get mad, ignore it, or agree. CHOOSE.


So I enjoyed the development of the characters when they actually started to...develop. I'm mostly annoyed by how long it took to get across the terraformed planet and SURVIVAL.

Happy reading!