Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Falconer

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

This was a weird book to me.

I enjoyed the story of the book, but the narration of the main character seemed to hiccup everywhere. Like there was difficulty processing the overall situation and to take it all one thing at a time was kind of funky. about an amazon summary, "Debutante by day. Murderess by night. Edinburgh's only hope.

Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she's spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of Sithichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she's a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated. The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller blends romance and action with steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

The world is set in an alternate earth and thinking about it in that way makes it a lot easier to accept some of the concepts presented.

Although, based on the amazon summary, I don't know why you wouldn't assume that... (sometimes I fail at making assumptions based on the text and auto-assume they're creating a new world....shh....).


Aileana spends as much as she can creating pieces of technology (that have a variety of functions) to aid in her seeking out faeries to kill.

A year ago, Aileana was found next to her mother's body, covered in her mother's blood, and has been gossiped about all throughout her year of mourning.

Her Father has been away on business trips since her mother's death and seems to be trying to create as much distance (both emotional and physical) as he can between himself and Aileana.

Aileana has a....rambunctious pixie who lives in her wardrobe and mends her clothes. She also upper class fae by the name of Kiaran who trains her how to fight.

Kiaran teaches her the difference between human myths and actual fact about the fae. He teaches Aileana the best way to kill what kind of fae, what materials do the most damage (LOL NOT IRON (which I thought was neat)), and what to watch out for in a fight. They go out hunting together, with Aileana constantly after the fae who murdered her mother.

That's enough summary for me.

So the narration of Aileana was weird in the sense of when something happened, it would matter for that moment, but didn't seem to have a lasting impact on her until someone else brought it up again.

Which, I guess was kind of neat since she's very up front about how her life is driven by her need for vengeance.

So maybe it makes sense?

To me it disrupted the flow of story a bit. Then again, I assumed it was a different world for a bit and didn't really connect the 'alternate Earth' dots. So....there's that.

I'm a bit upset that it left off with such a MASSIVE cliff hanger. As I was reading it, I noticed the pages left kept dwindling when there was so much more story to accomplish.

That was annoying.

BUT, it does make me more than ready to pick up the sequel in this trilogy.

Mission accomplished?

What I always want to know when I come across a book involving the fae is what kind of fae they are.

They're the mean, ruthless, vicious fae that prey on humans like ancient myths levels of awful. It was a bit fascinating, yet could be very gruesome. Nothing felt too explicit (like uncomfortable gory) but there were a few winces from me as battles raged across the pages. The lore the book presents is interesting and I really want to see how it plays out in later books based on what we're given so far (legacies and what not).

Happy reading!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Islands of Chaldea

The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones, finished by Ursula Jones

If you haven't read anything by Diana Wynne Jones by now, PLEASE go read another one of her books. She was an amazing author who always struck me as under-appreciated.

One of her most known books to me is Howl's Moving Castle which was adapted into an animated film.

Sadly, Diana Wynne Jones died in 2011 before she could complete this book.

Luckily, her sister, Ursula Jones, is also an author and managed to finish the book from what Diana had already written and the author's notes. Probably with a bit of her own ingenuity as well.

As a fan of Diana Wynne Jones, it was nice to read her last book with its rich story speckled with humor.

An amazon summary, "The Islands of Chaldea is a new novel of magic and adventure by the renowned fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, who left behind many acclaimed and beloved books upon her death in 2011, including the internationally bestselling Howl's Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci books. The Islands of Chaldea was completed by Diana Wynne Jones's sister Ursula Jones, an acclaimed novelist and actress.

Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But even though she is old enough, Aileen's magic has yet to reveal itself. When Aileen is sent over the sea on a mission for the King, she worries that she'll be useless and in the way. A powerful (but mostly invisible) cat changes all of that—and with every obstacle Aileen faces, she becomes stronger and more confident and her magic blooms. This stand-alone novel is a perfect introduction to the novels of the beloved Diana Wynne Jones." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So that Amazon summary talked about almost everything except for the book. Like what?


Aileen is working on becoming a wise woman; a woman who can work magic. Her aunt is currently a wise woman and has raised her since Aileen's mother died trying to give birth to another child. Aileen undergoes her trial to see if she is a wise woman yet, but she has failed it this time.

Her father has been trapped by a barrier that was erected years ago that separates the island of Largo from the other three islands. Friends and family have been cut off from each other; the trade being cut off with Largo has devastated the islands economies, and the King has hatched a plan to get the barrier destroyed.

Aileen's Aunt is a very clever woman that sees through many strategic moves and manipulative actions people do. She's an advisor of sorts to the King; she's called upon to help bring down the barrier in utmost secrecy. It has been foretold that a group with a man from each island is present, it can bring down the barrier. Aileen's Aunt has been charged with leading the group across the land and gathering the necessary men from the other islands. They have one from Skaar and one from Largo already; but they'll need to pick up the other two along the way.

Their small group gets onto a boat where they open their bags to discover their clothes have been laced with poisons (the queen is potentially trying to kill them as she packed their bags), the sack of gold the King was to give them to aid in their travel had only a layer of gold on top but the rest was filled with rocks, and Aileen's Aunt doesn't care for it one bit.

There are many different colorful characters they run into along the way, the magic of the world is enchanting (pun intended), and I enjoyed ugly-pug's wiley nature the most (haha).

All in all, a good read. I might have to pick up some of Diana Wynne Jones' earlier books again.

Happy reading!

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Unremembered by Jessica Brody

I read the first book in this series[?], UnrememberedHERE.

If you want the first book to remain unspoiled, I suggest reading no further.

For a sequel, I felt like this book delivered a lot of elements that I was looking forward to and expecting based on the first book.

An amazon summary, "Some memories are better left forgotten...
After a daring escape from the Diotech scientists who created her, Seraphina and Zen believe they are finally safe from the horrors of her past. But new threats await them at every turn as Zen falls prey to a mysterious illness and Sera’s extraordinary abilities make it more and more difficult to stay hidden. Meanwhile, Diotech has developed a dangerous new weapon designed to apprehend Sera. A weapon that even Sera will be powerless to stop. Her only hope of saving Zen’s life and defeating the company that made her is a secret buried deep within her mind. A secret that Diotech will kill to protect. And it won’t stay forgotten for long.

Packed with mystery, suspense, and romance, Unforgotten is the riveting second installment of Jessica Brody’s Unremembered trilogy, and delivers more heart-pounding action as loyalties are tested, love becomes a weapon, and no one’s memories are safe." AMAZON LINK OF YAY WAT

The book begins with Seraphina and Zen living in 1609. They've managed to stumble across a small family to live with and earn their keep by doing chores. People are unnerved by Seraphina a bit because there's something that doesn't quite seem right. Seraphina and Zen are slowly practicing on overcoming her instinct to run away from danger and instead fight back. Seraphina finds herself being more in love with Zen every day....but of course that's when things start to go wrong.

One day Seraphina wakes up to find that Zen is feeling a bit under the weather. Zen shrugs it off and they head into town for the family to sell their wares. While there, Seraphina is accused of being a witch. Her locket is taken from her as 'a sign of the devil' and she's put in jail. After her stint in jail, the towns folk drag her out and tie her up to burn at the stake. Seraphina keeps telling herself that Diotech won't let her die; she'll be rescued before their investment can go up in flames. She's utterly convinced that she'll be saved as the flames start to lick her feet...

....that's a good enough summary [/cue evil laughter].

Anywho, the book played into a lot of themes from the first book and I loved it's exploration of trying to answer of 'What does it mean to be human?' and Seraphina's constant struggle to retain (or gain if you will) her humanity.

The science in it was a little....far fetched for me but not SO far fetched that I found it unbelievable. There were more neat things going on with memories in a nice, not amnesia way. There was definitely a moment where I sobbed a bit because of some memory stuff but I won't spoil it for you. [For those of you that read it, hint: child. That is all!]

I thought it was a great follow up sequel, AND A MOMENT OF SPOILER, the love triangle that starts to take shape makes sense from a corporate greed standpoint. It was pretty much thrilling to have it be that and not a wishy-washy woman prancing around driving the plot.


Happy reading!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Taco Soup

New phone: Less potato quality!
Taco Soup

This recipe was given to me by my sister in law who got it from Stephanie O'Dea of Crockpot365 Blog.

This is also a crock pot recipe. I adore crock pot recipes because you can set it and forget it (like a terrible commercial), except you don't want to forget it forever, just for the cook time.

I didn't tweak the recipe much because it was already tasty, but I make it a little spicier than 'necessary' I suppose. Not much, just a wee bit.

Some like it hot. I like to feel my mouth. ... so my version of the recipe has just a wee bit of spice to it.

You also want at least a 6 quart crock pot for this recipe; it's pretty big.


  • 2 (15 ounce) cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans of corn (keep the juice!)
  • 1 (26 (or 28) ounce) can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 packet of ranch dressing mix
  • 1 pound browned hamburger or ground turkey
  • (Optional) 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • (Optional) 1 teaspoon of dried cilantro OR a couple sprigs chopped up of fresh cilantro
  1. Cook meat to appropriate internal temperature to avoid food poisoning.
  2. Drain fat from the meat and add drained meat into the crock pot.
  3. Sprinkle both seasoning packets on top of the meat.
  4. Add both kidney and pinto beans (make sure their drained and rinsed first) to the crock pot.
  5. Add all tomatoes and corn (don't drain them!) to the crock pot.
  6. (Optional) Add cayenne pepper and cilantro to the crock pot.
  7. Stir very well; you don't want lingering chunks of seasonings left in there.
  8. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5.
You can eat it like soup (as pictured above) OR you could be fun and drain it a bit (once it's done cooking) and spreading it on tortilla shells. It also makes a great dip (if a little wet, although you could probably add a little corn starch to thicken it up a bit if you wanted the more realistic dip route).

It's a pretty easy recipe to tailor it to whatever situation you'd like to consume it.

Happy cooking!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sissy That Walk

I'll be honest, I've been entirely distracted by movies this month.

First, there was The Amazing Spiderman 2 (WHICH WAS AWESOME).

Second, there was Tulip Time (which isn't a movie but I had a bunch of guests over to enjoy the festivities).

Third, there was Godzilla (WHICH WAS FUN).

Now, there is X-Men: Days of the Future Past.


So today, I'm off to watch X-men. I'll probably watch it tomorrow too because I'll want to see it again with a few groups of people I know.

Plus I have family visiting this I'll be all sorts of distracted.

May has just been a weird month for reading.

In summary, I'll have a blog post scheduled every day for this weekend. I hope everyone enjoys!

Today's blog post title is inspired by: Sissy That Walk by RuPaul. I love Ru Paul's Drag Race and the music video has the top four drag queens from this season in it.

....uhhh....I don't think there's anything else that's random about my life that's worth sharing.


...that's all.

Happy reading!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Babe Conquers the World

Babe Conquers the World: The Legendary Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace

Before this book, I had no idea that Babe Didrikson Zaharias even existed.

I've said it before in past blogs where sports have come up in books and I just don't know what's going on because my attention span for sports has never extended beyond trying to learn the basic rules of said sport.

....don't worry, it still hasn't much. I know a couple more names of famous athletes now. ....I feel like this is okay.

So anyways, this book served to try and expand my knowledge. An amazon summary, "Babe Didrikson Zaharias had one driving goal: to become the greatest athlete who ever lived. And she made good on that promise with a meteoric rise to famed basketball player, Olympic medalist, and top female golfer. But there was more to Babe than just sports. Noted novelists and sportswriters Rich and Sandra Wallace expose the many controversies surrounding this famous female athlete—her upbringing, personality, marriage, and even her early death. This action-packed story of a womanESPN ranks as #10 of the top North American athletes of the twentieth century also includes personal and professional photographs, quotes, a bibliography, and an index." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

For those of you who might not know (for those of you who do, bear with me while we catch up) Babe Didrikson Zaharias was a courageous female athlete who played sports against anyone. Male, female, didn't matter; Babe was in it for the thrill to compete.

With such an attitude, it was almost inevitable before Babe started breaking gender stereotypes and carving her own way in the name of sports.

However, I caution readers of this book because it's not a biography. The story is all about Babe, but it touches on different rumors that swirled around her life and herself.

There seemed to be a back and forth struggle in the book as the authors acknowledged what was said about Babe, but also made a point to state her accomplishments and the difficulties she faced to get to that point.

On the other hand, it seemed to be a bit of a sexist book as the book seemed to carry the view point of the nay sayers back in the day when Babe was alive.

I'm on the fence about this book.

I'm not entirely sure if it was unbiased enough to present the facts (as far as I know this is being toted as a non-fiction book).

I did appreciate how the book portrayed periodic moments that made Babe's personality seem dazzling, but there were plenty of bleak moments as well.

There were also little tidbits thrown in here and there throughout the story that were never really expanded on and seemed pointless; almost like a brief interlude of 'Did you know?' moments.



I'm very on the fence about this book. I mean, Babe Didrikson Zaharias sounded like she was AMAZING but I'm not sure if this is the right book to read to find out more about her.

This is the qualm.


Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Twelve Minutes To Midnight

Twelve Minutes To Midnight by Christopher Edge

...I'm still not sure if this is the first book in a series, or a second book, or a sequel series. Not sure.

It read a lot as if it were a sequel in a series, but according to amazon it's the first one in a series.

If it is a sequel to another book, it wasn't necessary to read the other book to understand this book.

Anyways, an amazon summary, "Penelope Tredwell is the feisty thirteen-year-old orphan heiress of Victorian Britain's bestselling magazine, the Penny Dreadful. Her spine-chilling tales--concealed under the pen name Montgomery Finch--are gripping the public. One day she receives a letter from the governor of the Bedlam madhouse requesting Finch's help to investigate the asylum's strange goings-on. Every night at precisely twelve minutes to midnight, the inmates all begin feverishly writing-incoherent ramblings that Penelope quickly realizes are frightening visions of the century to come. But what is causing this phenomenon? In the first book of this smart new series, Penelope is drawn into a thrilling mystery more terrifying than anything she could ever imagine!" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Penelope is the secret author of the Penny Dreadful - a horror magazine that has risen to fame under Penelope her flourishing words.

...but Penelope is only thirteen years old.

So she writes under the pen name of 'Montgomery Finch'.

To keep up this 'clever' ruse, she's hired an older gentleman actor to read her stories aloud as if he had written them and to truly bring her words to life.

A local insane asylum is having a rather interesting mystery that is teetering towards horror. The Doctor gets in contact with Montgomery Finch in the hopes that the brilliant horror story writer can deduce the mystery of the asylum.

....that's a good summary.

So there were a lot of weird aspects that started to come into play as the story was written as if it were realistic fiction...maybe has tidbits of dribble in it but takes itself rather seriously.


As the mystery began to reveal, it took on an element of increasing fantasy (while trying to have a scientific edge to it) that threw me for a loop. There was too much that was not explained or swept along by some intense action moments.

The story had a nice trot to it all along, but then it floored it into crazy town of no explanations and whacked out endings that led nowhere except to the last page.

I think this is the beginning of series, but I frankly find myself with disdain for the book. If the ending hadn't been wrapped up in such a crazy way, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

So all in all, it was a short little jaunt that was very pleasant until it was led down a rabbit hole and into the unforgivable lands of switching the genre towards the end of the book.

Happy reading!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I Know This Much Is True

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

Disclaimer: This is an adult (or I suppose 'regular') fiction book. I usually blog about books that are considered young adult, but this was recommended to me and I took on the roughly 900 page paperback tome. So I'm going to give it a shot.

An amazon summary for a starting point, "On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother, Thomas, entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut, public library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. . . .

One of the most acclaimed novels of our time, Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True is a story of alienation and connection, devastation and renewal, at once joyous, heartbreaking, poignant, mystical, and powerfully, profoundly human." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I'm struggling to talk about this story because there are many different aspects of the book.

I'm going to make a metaphor.

Think of the narrator Dominick as a diamond; the diamond has many different facets to it that shape it into the complete picture. While each facet serves the function of helping to shape the diamond, the object stills remains as a diamond. It may become more polished, well defined or left rough and unattended. Sometimes a bit of both.

But it is still a diamond.

The book explores many different aspects of the diamond that is Dominick.

Some themes I found particularly interesting to trace through the book was the influence that Dominick's grandfather had on his mother, and what that influence in turn had on Dominick.

Dominick and Thomas had a very rough childhood with Ray as a father and Concettina as a mother who was 'weak willed'. Ray embraced the philosophy of tough love which Dominick states at one point that by today's standards (being 1990) it would be considered child abuse.

Growing up, Thomas had always been the 'weaker willed' twin while Dominick was the 'tough guy' who constantly struggled with the sense of when to stick up for his brother or to let Thomas deal with it on his own.

Neither of them were safe from Ray's parenting techniques (which were rough, and inappropriately violent (in my opinion)).

Later in life, Thomas is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and his journey to cope with such a condition begins.

While Thomas struggles with his own mind, Dominick struggles the strongest with his own battles. He can perceive how Ray treated them was wrong, struggles to understand how his mother, Concettina, could live with such a monster, and repeatedly attempts to do what he perceives as right. Dominick also seems to struggle a lot with the sheer lack of equality between his life and Thomas' life. As their identical twins, Dominick sometimes seems to believe the notion that they're identical people and keeps expecting the other shoe to drop (so to speak) for both himself and Thomas. He seems to be stuck in a state of waiting for Thomas to get better and also for himself to get better.

Dominick is a survivor though; he has great endurance for all the chaotic drama that happens in his life. The book becomes a truly irresistible read as that endurance is pushed farther and farther.

Little elements throughout the book come back to play later in the book in a big way. There don't seem to be any wasted words within the text as each line clarifies another facet to the diamond.

A spoiler land moment. The ending at first seemed a bit hastily wrapped up; but after letting it settle a bit more, I appreciate the ending. I don't think there needed to be any more explanation as Dominick has reached a healthy point in his life and I think that's a good notion to take away. Regardless of all the horror Dominick experienced, he took the steps that he needed to take to get to a better place. As the reader, I can be content to not know every detail at that point and just accept that he is better. It seemed like a good place for the book to end.


Happy reading!