Friday, February 28, 2014

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

...this isn't my usual taste in books.

However, I was completely ready to read it when I heard a discussion about it and how much everyone laughed while talking about the characters in the book. Then people kept mentioning "The voice of intelligence" and I was sold.

So, an amazon summary, "“Librarians often say that every book is not for every child, but The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp is” (The New York Times). Meet Bingo and J’miah, raccoon brothers on a mission to save Sugar Man Swamp in this rollicking tale and National Book Award Finalist from Newbery Honoree Kathi Appelt.

Raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah are the newest recruits of the Official Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. The opportunity to serve the Sugar Man—the massive creature who delights in delicious sugar cane and magnanimously rules over the swamp—is an honor, and also a big responsibility, since the rest of the swamp critters rely heavily on the intel of these hardworking Scouts.

Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn is not a member of any such organization. But he loves the swamp something fierce, and he’ll do anything to help protect it.

And help is surely needed, because world-class alligator wrestler Jaeger Stitch wants to turn Sugar Man swamp into an Alligator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, and the troubles don’t end there. There is also a gang of wild feral hogs on the march, headed straight toward them all.

The Scouts are ready. All they have to do is wake up the Sugar Man. Problem is, no one’s been able to wake that fellow up in a decade or four…

Newbery Honoree and Kathi Appelt’s story of care and conservation has received five starred reviews, was selected as a National Book Award finalist, and is funny as all get out and ripe for reading aloud." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

A very short summary: a lot of different creatures are all involved with the Sugar Man Swamp and this book tells most of them.

A better summary would be there are two raccoon brothers who are scouts of Sugar Man Swamp and wait in an old Desato car for the voice of intelligence.

There is a twelve year old Chap who lives with his mom and helps out at their restaurant which sells fried sugar pies. Chap's grandfather also passed away recently, so Chap is dealing with that loss while also fighting to save the restaurant and the swamp from Jaeger Stitch.

The swamp is not only under the danger of Jaeger Stitch, but also a herd of wild hogs that are determined to get the rare tasty sugar that resides in Sugar Man Swamp.

There's also the rumored Sugar Man who hasn't been since in a very long time.

Now, the story is very intricate because it jumps around between a lot of different perspectives as the book goes on. The chapters are short and efficient, but maintain the voice of an unseen narrator; the narrator reminded me of a nice old fellow that you would find telling stories around a campfire about an age long past.

The story had great characters and a great capture for tone, world building, and seemed to have a natural cadence.

I enjoyed it. There really isn't much else I can say without giving anything away.

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Into the Still Blue

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

This is the last book of a trilogy. I read and reviewed the first two books already! CONVENIENT.
My review of the first book, Under the Never Sky, is HERE.
My review of the second book, Through the Ever Night, is HERE.

If you want any of this series to remain unspoiled, read no further....or go back and read my review of book one.

Or not.


An amazon summary, "The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi's epic Under the Never Sky trilogy, and sequel to the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Through the Ever Night.
Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.
Perfect for fans of the Hunger Games and Divergent series, Veronica Rossi's trilogy has been called "inspired, offbeat, and mesmerizing" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and "incredibly original" ( Brimming with romance and danger and building to a climax that will leave you breathless, Into the Still Blue brings this "masterpiece" trilogy to an unforgettable close (" AMAZON LINK OF ...PATHETIC SUMMARY

For this being such a good book, the amazon summary really could have stepped up it's game.

But where it failed, I SHALL TRIUMPH. Seriously, this will contain spoilers for the first two books as it is the third book in the series.

At the end of Through the Ever Night, Aria and Perry were busy rescuing dwellers from the pod. At the beginning of Into the Still Blue, it starts out with the Tides and Dwellers sharing the same cave and the Dwellers being sick everywhere from exposure to the death shop. Aria and Perry are waiting for the return of Roar and company while everyone is still reeling from the death of Liv.

The Dwellers and Tides refuse to let go of their hope of escaping the Aether. They want Cinder back, they want to make it to the still blue, and there's also an undercurrent of revenge from Roar, Aria, and Perry; but you  need to read the book to get more into that.

So one night Roar and company returns and Roar is at odds with Perry. Regardless, Perry assembles a team to rescue Cinder, get the hovercrafts away from Soren's Father, and return to the cave (camp). Perry takes a very small group of people because the less people that go, the more likely they'll succeed as the less likely they'll be noticed.

So Perry takes a mix of people and they embark on the mission.

...that's about a third of the way through the book.

You'll have to read it to find out the rest.


This being a series conclusion, let me cover some basics of the series.

The love story between Aria and Perry was good. It could have been a tad more realistic for me, but amongst the strife of survival and what not, I can cut them some slack.

I thought the character development continued to remain solid throughout the series, the world building didn't falter, and even in this last book there was still introduction of new technology concepts (which was pretty swanky).

So all in all, it was pretty fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the switching narration between Aria and Perry which, as it was a constant throughout the series, I didn't have an overwhelming reader paranoia that one of them was about to be imminently killed. I still wondered if one of them might die in the end to justify both narrators....but I'll let you read it to find out. HAHA!

Swiftly dodged that spoiler. Alright.


Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Rogue by Gina Damico

This book is the third book in a series (and final book (ALL THE SAD NOISES)). I previously reviewed the first two books.
Book one, Croak, can be found HERE.
Book two, Scorch, can be found HERE.

If you want anything to remain unspoiled about the first two books, do not read this review as it will contain spoilers for the first two books (and hopefully very few for the third book).

An amazon summary, "Lex, a teenage Grim Reaper, has the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. Her boyfriend, Driggs, is dead . . . sort of. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.

The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed . . . but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

In the past blog posts, I mentioned how funny the books were, and this book continues to do so.

In the past blog posts, I mentioned how unique/quirky the characters are, and this book continues to do so.

Question: Does this book follow in the same wicked footsteps as the first two books?

Short answer: AWW YEAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

At the end of my blog post about the second book I had a little paragraph about speculations and oh mannn the book was better than what I had speculated. PLUS I like how much of the book just took me off guard. Forever.

At times it was a bit jarring because there were things I expected to happen/wanted to happen, but in the end I liked where the book wound up.

....Onward to my summary of the book..

This will contain spoilers for the first two books, so read no further if you want those left unspoiled.

Lex is on the run with Driggs, Uncle Mort, and Grotton. They have the Wrong Book, they just need to get the heck out of town as Norwood has turned the town folk against them. The get some very intense help from Pandora (I'll leave that to be a fun surprise), and make it to Uncle Mort's house. They finally get to the go in the basement and see all the wonders hidden down there as Uncle Mort reveals what must be done to save the afterlife. They must close the portals of each town.


Did I mention Driggs is half human? Yeah, there's that (see Scorch for more details).

They get the heck out of town thanks to Pandora's help and make it to the The Happy Spruce Inn where they meet up with the other junior Grimms. There's a lot of relief around the group about being together but they're still being chased by Norwood supporters.

They're off again to hide in a creepy place while they regroup and discuss their plans while also trying to investigate the Wrong Book.

If that wasn't enough, on top of all that the juniors are starting to couple up (if they hadn't already) with a lot of Driggs and Lex trying to get it on (which for hilarious reasons gets delayed for a while).


There are various intricacies that are revealed slowly but surely throughout the series that lead into this TIDAL WAVE OF STORY at the end. It's pretty awesome.

....that's all I'm going to say.

It was amazing folks. Amazing.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tonight You're Perfect

So first, I absolutely love this video by Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers. RANTING ABOUT BOOKS is probably my most favorite video to come out of youtube about books in a long while. I share a lot of his anguish about books.

It's seriously funny.

...moving on.

I've reached a point in life where I read a lot, but don't have as much time to sit and churn out a blog post. Despite how unedited the posts come across, I do spend a bit of time on them.

In summary, I get the chance to write every so often and end up writing about three or four books at once.

That's why there's suddenly a string of blog posts at once and then sudden gaps in between.

Mystery solved?

Which means...there's a string of blog posts coming up.

This might be a continuing trend until I figure out a better system.

Today's title is brought to you by (besides me) this song I heard on the radio once and suddenly it is my new JAM. TONIGHT YOU'RE PERFECT by New Politics.

...that's all I got.

SPOILER ALERT: March is going to be INTERESTING. Because REASONS. Stay tuned! :D

Happy reading!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Here and Now

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Disclaimer one: This book will not be released until April 8, 2014. The version I read was an Advanced Reader's Copy and undoubtedly will have minor changes between the version I read and the published version.

Disclaimer two: This story is a good romantic sci-fi of sorts as there is a balance of love and science/future history that takes place. However, as the narrator Prenna is seventeen years old and Ethan is eighteen, I feel it necessary to state that there are no explicit sex scenes within the book. To say if there is or is not sex that happens would be a spoiler that I'm not going to reveal.

With that in mind, an amazon summary, "An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love. This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.  Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. 
But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. 
From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking--and a must-read novel of the year.

"This gripping story is set in a world unlike any other and inhabited by beautifully imagined characters that stay with you long after the last page. As always, Brashares expertly captures the wonder of love’s enduring power.” – Sara Shepard, the #1New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

From the beginning of the book it is well established that Prenna has traveled back in time from the not-so-distant future (I mean like within 100 years rather than a 1,000) with a community of people who are trying to blend into today's society and coexist without interfering with the timeline. They are not being proactive about preventing the atrocious future they came from but instead living in the past completely.

This irks Prenna to no end who has seen her younger brothers die from the plague and whose father (Poppy) did not come with Prenna and her mother at the last minute for their journey into the past. Prenna also has trouble blending in with society as she has odd habits. She is also convinced that they are monitoring her as well as everyone else in the community constantly to prevent anyone from being rebellious/out of line.

In her efforts to blend in with society, Prenna has made a strong friend in Ethan; a boy whom she must hide nearly everything from. Ethan seems to be a little obsessed with Prenna, but for good reason (which is still a little weird but no spoilers).

I'm satisfied with that summary. So I'm going to move onto book aspects. SLIGHT BOOK SPOILERS. If you don't want any aspect of the book to be ruined, read no further.

I wish the book had gone into the science behind the time traveling a bit. I know when Prenna first came through (as a fourteen year old), she probably didn't have the right mentality to process everything that went into it; but there was no flashback that showed them entering a machine, no mention of the probably vast amount of energy it took to get people to the past, or anything of that nature. It pulled a 'If we don't talk about it no one will want an explanation' move. It was mildly irritating.

I adored the relationship between Prenna and Ethan. They had just the right amount of tug and pull between them in a very endearing sense. Most excellent.

I found Prenna's mother hard to understand at all. There is a point in the book where Prenna seems to understand her, but I don't. Her mother seems to be this person whose completely awesome at the end, but I really wonder why she hesitated for the duration of their time in the past to do so.

All in all, it was a very fantastic read. only have to wait until April for it (which SUCKS).

But, as always...

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Grasshopper Jungle

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Disclaimer one: This book was released on February 11, 2014 but I managed to read the advanced reader's copy so there will inevitably be some minor differences between the version I read and the published version.

Disclaimer two(warning of sorts): This book talks a lot about sex, being horny, sexualizing anything that is alive, and some exploration of feelings towards different genders. It's quite vulgar.

An amazon summary so I can just get to the good stuff, "In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend, Robby, have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.

This is the truth. This is history.It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.You know what I mean.

Funny, intense, complex, and brave, Grasshopper Jungle brilliantly weaves together everything from testicle-dissolving genetically modified corn to the struggles of recession-era, small-town America in this groundbreaking coming-of-age stunner." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

First, I was supremely choked by the overwhelming symbolism that was running rampantly loose amongst these pages. It was obnoxious, hard to distill the actual story from the symbolic story, and a bit of a headache inducer.

Secondly, there was a lot of talk about sexuality, constantly being horny, testicles, and anything being alive is sexualized in some way. There is a point where I can understand how it's confusing to understand sexuality, how it needs to be talked about/thought about/puzzled through on some level, but it was very annoying to read about it seemingly every other paragraph on top of all the symbolism that was cluttering the book.

Third, I think this book tried to do way too much simultaneously. It was not only about Austin, Robby, and Shannon (Shann) but also about the people of the town, a commentary on humanity, some crazy sci-fi stuff with the praying mantises, sexuality, levels of relationships, looking at history to understand the origin of where people are, as well as recounting present day history. It was a lot to cram into one book.

Fourth, the style of storytelling was jumbled and all over the place which left me stumbling to decipher what mattered, what symbolism was present and trying to allude to what concept, while also trying to filter out some of the repetitive stuff that tied back to history. Honestly, sometimes I found it hard not to skip over an entire paragraph if it seemed to be in the midst of a 'You know what I mean' moment (which I found annoying as all get out).


Let's talk about some premise.

Austin is best friends with Robby and boyfriend to Shannon (Shann); the three of them are very good friends. Austin and Robby frequently hang out in an alleyway behind a strip mall which they dubbed the 'Grasshopper Jungle'. They get beat up by four boys (the four boys drew blood from them) who toss their belongings on the roof and they go back to retrieve them in the night. Robby and Austin take Shann with them and park out in the grasshopper jungle. They climb up on the roof while Shann sleeps in the car and find a bunch of weird things up there. They pile them all near where they climbed up with the intention of taking them with them. The roof is on top of a thrift store of sorts where Austin works and they access the shop from the roof and make their way through. Austin has always been curious about what the shop owner (Shann's step dad) keeps in his office, so after a little bumping through the dark, they get into the office where they find a bunch of weird stuff.

Weird stuff as in parts of people in jars, something that glows blue when the lights are off, etc. WEIRD STUFF. They hear noises though so they turn the lights off and hide under the office table. It turns out the four boys who beat them up earlier broke into the store to steal the alcohol and check out the office; they also steal the weird stuff that glows blue. The four boys leave and Austin with Robby leave through the way they came in, gather their stuff and leave. Somewhere in there Austin and Robby kiss (oh yeah, Robby is gay).

There was also a lot of other story mixed in like the beginning history of how Austin wound up in Iowa while that previous history seemed to be purposely written to illustrate the people behind the basic facts and how they're not always good people. Austin seems to compulsively write his history of each day down as some sort of obligation.

Also, Austin and Robby smoke a lot. Shann does not though.

There's also a tangled history of the town that is woven throughout the story and so many little things that it's hard to keep it all straight.

Something I found odd was that Austin's family owned a dog that could not bark as she had a tumor in her neck that was removed and lost the ability or something. Yet Austin loved that dog and it seemed to deny it's normal functions as a dog besides acting like a source of comfort. This is still an aspect that puzzles me. It's probably symbolic of something else.

As the amazon summary alluded, there is an army of praying mantises that come into play. That whole aspect was interesting of the book, but I wish it had been more of a primary focus than Austin/Robby/the four boys who beat them up accidentally created them and the havoc the army unleashed. Did I mention there's a lot of symbolism?


I could spend days talking about this book because of how 'intricate' it was.

But I won't.

It was a rather uncomfortable/annoying read with how pivotal male characters seemed to be obsessed with sex/sperm (and they are the focus of the book) so perhaps this was just not the book for me.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Disclaimer one: I read the advanced reader's copy of this book. This book comes out on May 13, 2014. There will inevitably be some minor differences between the ARC and the published version.

Disclaimer two: The book felt really familiar to me; almost like a Lifetime movie familiar. I went into this book knowing that there was going to be a big twist, so I watched carefully for clues. Because of that, I already had a strong suspicion of what the twist would be and grew a little exasperated waiting for it to finally be revealed/my suspicions to be confirmed. (My suspicions were confirmed and elaborated on awesomely by the by.) However, that did not make the read any less enjoyable as the book is well written and the characters charming.

With all of that in mind, an amazon summary, ""Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart, We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable." - John Green, #1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

This book is about Cadence Sinclair Eastman. The story begins by meeting present day Cadence (almost 18) who then begins to recount how her story got a bit warped (at age 15). She is the first grandchild of Harris Sinclair who is a very wealthy man; a man so wealthy he bought and island. On this island, he had a house built for himself and his wife (Tipper) and one for each of his daughters. The island is full of servants to keep the place running as well as the Sinclair family.

Harris Sinclair only had daughters and each of these daughters vie for the most love/attention/affection from their father in the hopes that they will inherit more money.

Now Cadence is friends with the other liars; Mirren, Johnny, and Johnny's friend Gat. Every summer they come to the island to have summer vacation together and essentially just enjoy the island.

Cadence and Gat begin to tread an uncertain path of becoming more than just friends....but that's as much as I can tell you without spoiling anything at all.

Now, the style of writing was very different. There was a lot of one line text broken up by paragraphs, the chapters were short and established a point, and the details of the setting were just enough to let you fill in the rest. I think the style of writing made it seem like a fast paced thriller, wherein reality if it was formatted as a normal story, it would probably be perceived to have a more plodding pace.


I was also rush reading it in the hopes of getting to the end to confirm my suspicions.

I will say that after I finished reading the books, I went back and reread certain portions of it to find that some of the mechanics of the explanation needed to be more fleshed out for me to make it to the point where I could believe it and be happy with that explanation.

For now it seems to be too far of a stretch for me to be comfortable with.

It was a good book overall though.

Happy reading!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Shadow Throne

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I previously reviewed the first two books in the series.
Book one: The False Prince can be found HERE.
Book two: The Runaway King can be found HERE.

Disclaimer: This book isn't released until February 25, 2014. I managed to read an advanced reader copy and there might be minor differences between what I read and the published version.

An amazon summary which is very sparse, "Jennifer A. Nielsen takes readers on an extraordinary journey in this final installment of the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling Ascendance Trilogy.

War is coming. . . . Join Jaron as he embarks on his final adventure!" AMAZON LINK OF NOT A LOT HAPPENING


Based on the amazon summary being so sparse, I'm going to significantly limit what I say about the content of the book and instead go more so after my reaction to the book and series completing.

This will inevitably contain spoilers of some nature. You should not read this blog post if you wish for the book/series to remain unspoiled.


First, this was a great wrap up of the series. I found it a great read that I might have cried through a bit (NO SHAME). It was a great follow up to the previous two books, and is my favorite book of the trilogy.

No seriously, it was good.

I wonder if there might be a following series that follows Jaron into his kinghood. I really like what happened with most of the characters, but I wish there had been a more solid conclusion to Roden's story. (I'm REALLY trying to be vague. I swear.)

The overall book yielded the same great quality of characters, story development, etc.

I'm very impressed.

Jaron is awesome.

Imogen is awesome.

Roden is awesome.


...I think I want to stop because like all good books, I get super tongue tied because I want to say how everything was awesome, but it only sounds awesome because it's the end of the book, and that's just not cool to spoil for future potential readers.

So I guess with this one you're just going to have to take my words for it. Heh.

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Elite

The Elite by Kiera Cass

I originally read the first book in this series, The Selection, about a month before I started this blog (so way back in August of 2012).

If you don't want The Selection ruined for you at all, I would recommend not reading this blog post as I'm going to give a break down of what I remember about The Selection right now. SPOILER LAND.

The Selection is the world building book detailing the society that resulted from the different wars that plagued the Earth and a brief introduction to the nations that still stand. I found that aspect of the book very progressive.

Enter a girl named America who belongs to the fifth class and is a musician whose entire family plays for their money. She is in love with a boy from the sixth class (Aspen) who she meets with in secrecy and who she feeds and tries to look out for. Aspen breaks up with her just as she is chosen for the selection; a group of girls from all over the country that all compete for the Prince's heart. It's basically like the reality show, the bachelor, with more politics and royalty involved. They also partake in different activities to slowly eliminate the girls from the running of being the country's next princess and eventual queen.

So. America is whisked off to the castle to live like royalty and while she's there, she discovers that her former boyfriend Aspen, is now a member of the guard (which boosts him up to the second class and a much higher standing for life and enables him to send money home to his family). She also begins an intricate romance of sorts with the Prince while her heart waffles between the Prince and Aspen.

America is also thrust into learning proper etiquette and everything that would be expected of her should she become the Prince's bride. She has a lot of misgivings about becoming a princess and laughs off the notion of her becoming a princess due to the outstanding nature of some of the other girls. Then she's present for an attack from the rebels and she begins to understand the political atmosphere of the country right now and what she would be taking on.

The system seems to be breaking.

My disclaimer going into The Elite, is that I'm not reading the series for the romantic aspects of the book. The stuff between America/Prince/Aspen is kind of boring to me. I'm much more interested in seeing the Prince come into his own as he begins to partake in more ruler responsibilities. I'm way more interested in seeing the political climate between the monarchy and the rebel forces than about the love.

But there's a whole lot of love questioning/concerns/general derpiness from America (which is still half an atrocious name I believe because it's also the name of a country but that country doesn't really exist anymore and @_@ NAME!).

Moving on.

Now, an amazon summary for The Elite, "Kiera Cass’s The Elite is a must-read for fans of dystopian fiction, fairy tales, and reality TV. This sequel to The Selection will enchant teens who love Divergent and The Bachelor.
 In America Singer’s world, a bride is chosen for the prince through an elaborate televised competition. In the second book of the Selection series, America is one of only six girls left in the running. But is it Prince Maxon—and life as the queen—she wants? Or is it Aspen, her first love? The Elite delivers the adventure, glamour, political intrigue, and romance readers of The Selection expect, and continues the love triangle that captivated them." AMAZON LINK OF BARELY A SUMMARY it was next to impossible to ignore the love triangle in this book. America is basically still in the competition because the Prince is in love with her, but she doesn't know if she loves him back completely. Aspen is still confusing her and trying to be like, "I was a fool, come back to me" and America goes all, "Aspen will always be there for me," but forgets that he was the one who dumps her in the first place most of the time.


I'm going to ignore the love stuff anyways and talk about the political shenanigans in this book.

I'll give warning before I delve into spoiler land.

So the book begins with America learning more about the Prince and her family being invited to the castle for the Prince (whose name is Maxon by the way; it seems silly so I keep calling him Prince) to meet. America is thrilled and there are more competitions.

Where it took a turn for the worst/interesting is when America wakes one morning and is put into a black dress. The maids will not tell her anything that is going on and she is escorted to where her other competitors should be...except they are short one.

The girls are escorted out onto a platform in front of the kingdom where the sixth contestant is with the guard she fell in love with (this girl also happens to be America's closest friend). A girl disobeying or giving herself to another man who is part of the selection is put to death by law (so is the man). However, the punishment is slighter as they are caned (she on her hands and the man on his back) and removed from their class titles to the lowest class (8). America begins to protest and tries to leap from where she is to her friend to prevent the horrible caning but she is restrained and removed from the stage.

After she is taken away, one of the other contestants gets into a verbal fight with her which turns ugly and they end up getting into a physical fight. While America is in the hospital, her family is sent home.


I'm only going to talk about a few aspects of the book rather than the whole book because that's what interests me.

At various points in the book there are rebel attacks where they get into the palace and everyone has little secret spaces to hide in and wait out the attacks (aside from the guards who fend them off). During one of these attacks, America runs into the woods to hide (as they were outside) and climbs a tree. She hides in the tree, gets spotted by a rebel who merely looks at her and grins, before dashing off. During this situation, America noticed the rebels were hoarding books.

At some point in the book, the Prince showed her a very secret stash of books and America took one to read; it was the founder of the country's diary. America kind of peruses through it periodically and decides the author is kind of a terrible person, but also discovers he put the class system into place. The Prince also swore her to secrecy about the secret spot and the book itself...but she totally tells her Father about it.

At another point during the book, America has to come up with a philanthropy project to help the country and she decides that getting rid of the class system would be awesome and tries to tote out this diary but of course the king is in uproar over it and cuts the feed, etc.

CLEARLY, THE BOOK IS IMPORTANT AMERICA. There seems to be a bit of deliberate dumb from America when she doesn't fully comprehend the situation she's in or the consequences or how other's might perceive it.

Yet she seems to be learning which is what I look forward to most in the next book.

I'm really hoping to see how all these puzzle pieces work together and how everything works out with the country.

Happy reading!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Lost Sun

The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton case you haven't noticed, I have this trend for reading books based on mythology.

However, I don't think I've come across any that have made such a melting pot of semi-modern culture with old traditions.

To say in a few words, I was kind of impressed but wish it had been taken further.

That being said, an amazon summary, "Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard. Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.

   When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Let's begin with the world.

The world of in the United States of Asgard has a government that rules alongside a court of Valkyrie, there are very real elements of magic at work that are attributed to the Norse gods (who are alive and run rampant (much like in Percy Jackson's world) cough, not sorry) while also supernatural beings (such as trolls) being a very real threat to the world.

There are people who are consumed by the magic they are born with, there are people who rule the magic they are born with, and people who do everything to escape the magic.

Introducing Soren Bearskin; born a Berserker, is haunted by his Dad being gunned down after going berserk in a mall, and is forever trying to run away from the Berserker blood that resides in his veins.

Enter Astrid Glyn; daughter of a powerful Seether, a Seether herself who entices Soren to accept his Berserker side with a very firm, whimsical hand.

Then comes Baldur, the one Norse god who dies every year only to be reborn again, yet this year he did not appear where he normally does.

In fact he's quite missing.

Astrid convinces Soren to set out on the quest for Baldur as Astrid knows they will find him and help him be where he needs to be.

The book then sets out and becomes this beautiful weaving of Astrid and Soren's friendship, the quest to understand heritage over personality, and a coming of age story. It was pretty sweet.

However, I wish the author had gone the extra length to change fundamentals about the world itself if it were shaped by Norse traditions.

I highly doubt it would have wound up as 'The United States of Asgard' or without as much emphasis on communication. If they were still prone to attacks from the wilderness (trolls), then it seems as if they would have a higher need for communication devices of a greater nature.

I understand that the culture needed to be modified and relate-able to appeal to a younger audience; but that's a crap excuse to get away with flimsy world building.

I think the premise was great, but this came across as the first draft of a story rather than a refined draft. It seems as if the author/publisher/whoever looked at it first were just hoping no one would peer into the corners of the story and wonder what was there.

YET, I loved Soren's voice. I loved his struggle, but I was bored with the mini-restrictions of the world.

I was also bothered by the brief mention of another faith (an allusion to Christianity) because it never did anything with it. It seemed to me that the story was pointing a finger at it's chest shouting, "LOOK, I CAN BE TOLERANT AND COMPASSIONATE FOR EVERYBODY!!! LOOK AT IT!" doesn't really make it's own case. To me, it seems unlikely that if given proof of the existence of Gods, people would naturally follow them yet perhaps use different forms of religion to do so.

But, it is only one book. Maybe there will be further world building/explanations in the future books.

I'm kind of liking the 'no clear "bad" person' vibe the book has going on. There are a lot of shrugs and nods in directions, but no trumpets of HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED nature.

All in all, I liked it. I'll probably nab the second one and go from there.

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Tomato Shrimp

I put it in a smaller bowl this time.
The Tomato Shrimp lately I feel that I've been ignoring the recipe aspect of this blog. This is my extra effort to post another recipe before I get distracted by books.

Don't worry, more books are always in the future.

I've also been accidentally making surprisingly tasty things lately, yet my creativity for naming these things that I create is lacking.

So The Tomato Shrimp.


-16 ounces of Shrimp (deveined and deshelled)
-16 ounces of Imitation Crab
-1 14.5 ounce can of Italian Diced Tomatoes
-6 ounces of Snow Peas (while they're still in the pods)
-12 ounces of cooked per packaging instructions Rotini Pasta
-30 ounces of Mushroom Alfredo Sauce (I suppose regular Alfredo sauce works as well, I just dig mushrooms)

1. Get a LARGE saucepan; all of these ingredients are eventually going to wind up in there.
2. Put tomatoes in saucepan; do not drain. Turn on low heat.
3. Cut snow peas up into bite sized pieces and add to sauce pan.
4. Cut crab up into bite sized pieces and add to sauce pan.
5. Simmer for five minutes or so while occasionally stirring.
6. Add 15 ounces of mushroom alfredo sauce. Stir.
7. Add shrimp and simmer for three minutes or so. Stir occasionally.
8. Add pasta and remaining mushroom alfredo sauce. STIR!
9. Let simmer for five minutes all on LOW heat. Stir a few times while it's simmering.
10. should be done then.

I've made this a few times and I love it.

That's all.

Happy cooking!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chicken Potato Casserole

My phone takes crap pictures and everything I eat goes into a bowl.
You now know all the secrets of my LIFEEEE.
Chicken Potato Casserole you ever have one of those nights where you look around your kitchen, throw some meat in the oven, and then figure out what to do with it later?

...maybe it's just me.

So I threw some chicken to cook in the oven while I walked around, pulled some random dry goods out, and came back later once the chicken was done.

This method is how I make some of my best/most interesting recipes. Or boredom. Sometimes they are a delicious combination of WHATTTTT.


Tonight's result was Chicken Potato Casserole!

-8 cooked & diced chicken breasts
-3 washed and diced large russet potatoes (uncooked; skins can be on or off)
-1 16 ounce frozen bag of California blend vegetables (carrots/cauliflower/broccoli)
-2  10 1/2 ounce cans of Cream of Celery soup
-1 8 ounce bag of shredded cheese (whatever variety you like)
-1 teaspoon of pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine chicken, potatoes, vegetables, soup, and pepper. Stir together.
3. Spread combination from step 2 evenly in a 9x13 glass baking dish.
4. Sprinkle the whole bag of shredded cheese on top.
5. Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes or until potatoes are soft. (I covered mine with aluminum foil so the cheese didn't burn.)
6. Take out of the oven and let cool for about five minutes before serving.

Now if you're like me, I definitely spaz checked the dish every fifteen minutes or so. That probably had an impact on the cooking time so I ball parked it at 45 minutes. yeah. This was my first time making it as it was definitely an experiment but I will be making it again in the future.

Happy cooking!