Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best Books of 2014

Today is the last day of 2014 as I know it.

The list generation of my favorite books of the year is here! The list isn't going to be in any particular order, and the books will be from ones I read this year. They're numbered simply for me to keep track of how many I'm including on this list (limit of 10 or else it gets cray cray). All of the images are left aligned because the alignment features in this interface are being terrible.


1. The Lost Sun & The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton

My book reviews are here: THE LOST SUN, THE STRANGE MAID.

Why did these books make the list?

They straight up haunt my thoughts. I wonder too often about what happened to these characters and when the third books comes out (which is not determined yet as far as I know). I really love the intricacies woven throughout the stories about the settings, world, culture, while never straying from the narrator. It's amazing.

2. The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list?

I LOVED this book! It was a perfect follow up from The Screaming Staircase and was arguably better than the first book. The prevalent humor and scares that almost deter me from reading it at night have a good tandem throughout the story. The characters are very memorable and funny and I'm ever so curious to see where they go next.

I am very anxious for the third book as the prior books hold so much promise.

3. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & The Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming 

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list?

This historical nonfiction is a fascinating book. It reads like a fiction book and is chocked full of details about the Russian royal family but also the citizens, other personnel in the government, and what was happening in the world climate (as to how it pertains to Russia). There was a lot of graphic details that helped illustrate the Romanovs and it seems to be a teaching tool in disguise. Truly an excellent read, especially because I've never had a particular knack for traditional historical texts.

4. Death Sworn by Leah Cypess 

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list?

This story struck me as a bit non-traditional. In this world many are magically inclined, but lose their magic when they hit a certain age. There's also a cave system that houses a league of deadly assassins who need to be trained better in the art of magic, but the previous two trainers had died mysteriously. Enter Ileni who is losing her magical abilities but is intended to train the assassins. It's a rather brilliant to watch unfold, and another that I wonder when the second book will be released.

5. Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list?

I loved the different viewpoints of narrators that were followed around. Normally, I 'm super concerned that the narrators are going to die except for one because why else switch your narrators around? But it's a ghost story so I kind of expected it; it wasn't too throwing of a notion to not enjoy the book.

The humor was brilliant, I loved seeing the different haunts of the ghost and witnessing the inner workings of the ghost society. It was well thought out and made an eerily good observational point on humanity.

6. A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list?

First, this book started off as a 'trap book' to me. There's a review by Kristin Cashore on the cover (an author I adore) and the review is positive so I was inclined to just get the book then and there. The book was incredible; Marni was a great narrator, the magic of the world was well portrayed, the setting came alive (in some cases, quite literally), and the political intrigue woven with the family ties made for a great story dynamic. I'm unsure if this is a standalone book or if there'll be a sequel; I would be content if it was a standalone, but I'd LOVE to see the second one.

7. Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list?

Because I love this series. I love it. I have no shame.

The humor, action, social commentary, and customs woven throughout the story keeps me coming back. I'm stupidly excited for the fourth book. When the last page of this book read 'The End' on it, I nearly had a heart attack. I immediately googled the hell out of the series to make sure there was a fourth book since there is SUCH A CLIFF HANGER at the end of this one.

No shame. All the love. <3

8. The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

My book review is HERE (and now, hehehehe).

Why did this book make the list?

The dynamics of science fiction elements playing against 'normal' fiction elements was a great read. There is the normal concerns of time travel, the technology, etc but it's played very well against the elements of their culture that makes them like a cult. It was interesting to watch their society and why they established the rules they did. Plus understanding time travel and the romantic tension between the two main characters was fantastic.

9. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list?

Because it's by Holly Black (har har).

But really, I love fairy tales as much as the next person and this had the tone of an old Grimm fairy tale to it. It was a 'lovely' read through adolescent misadventures and how the setting seemed to become its own character. There was always an air of mystery about the story even as more details came to light. There was a sense of wonder about it. There was never a dull moment in the story and the characters were well written with interesting character growth to them. Fantastic.

10. The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

My book review is HERE.

Why did this book make the list?

If you haven't noticed, I tend to like fantasy books. This book played into the narrow realm of fantastical realism while also incorporating trains, circus, mythical animals, and looters (of a sort). I really enjoyed the character development of Will and enjoyed the entire 'feel' of the book. It was a wonderful mix of adventure and curiosity with danger lurking behind every page. Again, fantastic.

Plus Sasquatches, come onnnnnn.

Happy reading, and may the new year bring many more awesome books!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Waistcoats & Weaponry

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

This is the third book in the series, I reviewed the previous two books. The first book is ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE, and the second book is CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES.

I'm a total fan girl for Gail Carriger. NO SHAME. NO CARES. SHE ROCKS.

An amazon summary, "Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all. 

Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in theNew York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I'm having a classic case of "HURR, THE BOOK WAS SO GOOD, HURRR" and suddenly where did the words. What.


The third book followed the second in the tradition of picking up right where the second book left off. Sophronia immediately leaps to the aid of Sidheag as she deals with family werewolf dramatics as pack climates are shifting.

There's also the ongoing mystery of the science that the supernatural and picklemen are heavily interested. Once more, Sophronia has gotten herself in the midst of a crazy mystery, perfect.

Truly, the amazon summary did a wonderful job of summarizing the book in a non-descriptive fashion that reveals no spoiling plot points.

So I'll leave it at that.

However, I will say that the romance and sassy nature of the story picked up a lot this book. Sophronia became a bit more introspective while retaining a lot of her observational abilities and not becoming too caught up in emotions.

What's even better about the books is that all the characters continue to grow without any noticeable recession. The technologies that come to light become more fascinating, and I truly cannot wait to read the fourth one.

It's also super fun to see how these books shape The Parasol Protectorate series. I've come across a few other authors that have attempted to write books in the past after writing present day stories and none can compare to what Gail Carriger is pulling off.

So in a super roundabout, did not reveal any plot points, I just super loved this book. I'm ready for book 4.

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The One

The One by Kiera Cass

....I was in a desperate place. DON'T JUDGE ME.

This is the third book in a series, I reviewed the second book, THE ELITE, but read The Selection before I started blogging (so somewhere around August 2012 - WHOAAAA (cue old noises)).

I feel like I did a pretty awesome blog post about The Elite (and gave a shout out to the The Selection important bits), so any questions or whatever, go look at that.

If you don't want anything spoiled about this series, I would recommend skipping this blog post. It might be a bit of a doozy.

An amazon summary, "The highly anticipated third book in Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The Oneis perfect for the fans who have followed America's whirlwind romance since it began—and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth's Divergent, Ally Condie'sMatched, or Lauren Oliver's Delirium.

The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.
Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

So, not really a spoiler alert, but this book concentrates on the wrap up of the Selection process, delves a bit more into the rebellion and how the country will be shaped by the Prince's reign.

It portrays a bit about the Prince's growth and America's growth......BUT THEY ARE SO INCONCEIVABLY STUBBORN. ಠ_ಠ

Seriously, if I could have taken the romance out of the book, it would have been so much better. 

The One dabbled in showing what was going on with the rebels, but never got into it enough where it made sense. America we being included in on conversations with the rebel before the conclusion of the selection and the Prince was being a royal stupid head about how to handle all of it. They talked mostly of morals and how it would be a slow road to get to where they wanted, but they didn't really do much of anything. America kind of worked with one of her friendly relations to help, but it didn't quite seem to matter too much.

All of the political elements that were being built up just kind of petered out in the end (which was super disappointing).

But back to America and the Prince (Maxon) because that's all the book seemed to care about.

America and Maxon went back and forth a lot about trust issues, proving themselves to each other, grappling with the other girls' interference, and also trying to understand political struggles.

Plus the King is a grade A jerk who kind of gets in the midst of things in the super thwarting manner.

Then there's Aspen who (spoiler alert) had a conversation to end things with America that went like this:



America: OH. ......WELL THAT WAS EASY.

In summary, that was SUPER that. End.

This book seemed to take all the good plot points that was working for the first two books and then just kind of threw them out the window without any satisfying conclusion except for who won the selection. 

Spoiler alert: it wasn't Aspen. LOL.

Final series thoughts: The first two books went well enough, but don't expect much out of the last book. Also, romance is the most important thing EVER. [/all of the unimpressed faces]

Happy reading!

Friday, December 26, 2014

In the Afterlight

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

This is the third and final book in a trilogy. I previously reviewed the first book, THE DARKEST MINDS, and the second book, NEVER FADE. If you don't want these first two books to be spoiled, I recommend not reading this blog post.

Disclaimer: Since this is the third and final book in the series, I'm treating all book content as fair game to be discussed. If you want to avoid spoilers about any of these books, I strongly recommend not reading this blog post.

To the amazon summary!

"Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there's no guarantee you're fully in control, and everything comes with a price. 

When the Children's League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam's brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government "rehabilitation camps" all over the country. Freeing them--revealing the governments unspeakable abuses in the process--is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IAAN, the disease that killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

....I really don't even know where to begin with this book.

On one hand, it seems like the author struggled a lot with using all the characters that were created in previous books. The struggle became apparent as they kept playing up the little nuances of a character (like Liam saying 'darlin' and such). That struggle was pretty present throughout the whole book. Moving on.

I'm going to give a bland summary of the entire book (so SPOILERS START NOW) because I want to talk about some specifics in greater detail.

So after most of the kids manage to get out of their collapsing base (see Never Fade), they're on the run trying to get out of the city. Cole & Ruby work together to get all the kids to a different base of the Children's League. Once they do, the kids start rebuilding from relatively nothing; they have their structure set up as far as a roof over their head and the plumbing/wiring working; but food/clothes/cleanliness all need to be established. Regardless, the kids get a little more cheerful now that they've got tasks to focus on.

However, Clancy is dragged along with them and tension runs high between Ruby & Cole as they debate more on more what do with him.

They start rallying the kids behind the goals of freeing the kids from the camps. There's a lot of relationship struggles between Liam and Ruby as they both struggle with all their feelings.

On that note, I started dreading whenever Ruby would think about Liam and then when they actually interacted. There was so much back and forth, no solid emotions one way or another, and they kind of fizzled their relationship into a weird acceptance that didn't make any sense how they got there. All the line face!

I digress too much.

So Liam starts going on raids for food without permission from Ruby & Cole who appointed themselves as leaders.

Ruby spends a lot of her time moping and wondering what to do and trying to cope with her grief, kind of.

They eventually get their act together after some drawn out drama, rescue some kids from a smaller camp. They get some press for it so people know that their kids are alive and not being cured, and try to portray what's really happening in the camps.

Then they get the kids out of Thurmond through an elaborate action filled sequence (which was pretty sweet to read).

The book winds down with the parents coming back for their kids regardless of freaky powers and the world starting to heal even if they don't quite have a cure for IAAN.

Something that really bothered me throughout the book was the writing of the characters seemed really detached from the settings. The world didn't seem overall cohesive; there seemed to be a lot of disconnect between the world events they talked about and how it affected their situation. Then there were other moments where the characters actions had such a direct impact on the world that it was a bit baffling. Eh.

Overall series reaction: I'm still inclined to like the series overall despite some serious pitfalls with the characters and periodic weak writing.

The plot is interesting, but the societal commentary lacks at some pivotal points. There were a lot of times that something would happen and I would be left with a sense of "so what?".

Ruby's character growth seemed to be super stifled in second and third book, where she had a lot of character growth in the first book. I know much of Ruby's character was realizing her own powers and grappling with the horrors of the world....but I still feel like her character fell a little flat a bit too often.

I really enjoyed Chubbs' character, Cole, and Clancy ('s coincidence that all their names start with a C) because they brought different dynamics to the stories. Chubb was a great character to see the 'big picture' of the world and remind Ruby of it periodically. Cole was great to see the struggles of the Red; not only struggling with his powers but also struggling with the expectations and fears surrounding just having pyrokinesis abilities. Clancy was a great constant shadow of what Ruby could become and what she constantly fought against from a morale standpoint. In the first book, the temptation to be like him was strong but she came around once she realized his real story.

I suppose I really enjoyed these books because the different side characters help paint more of a complete story than just Ruby could. Ruby had such a weak grasp on the world because of her time in Thurmond, but through the different side characters she started learning about different aspects. Kind of like how Zu had a lot of hope and kindness even though the world dragged her through hell and back.

...I'm rambling a bit much now. So.

Happy reading!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Uptown Funk

Today's news title is brought to you by Uptown Funk. You're welcome. Maybe. ENJOY MY EAR WORM.

Comic Book Chronicles

There's a little tab towards the top of the page called THE COMIC BOOK CHRONICLES where I get my love of comic books out in the open. It's a giant list of comics I've read AND shown a favorable response to.

I just updated it. Whoa man. I've read a lot of comics lately (and I have a stack of 14 to get through still, YESSSSSS).

So if you're into that, go check it out.

Book Hunt

I've read the last two books on the book hunt list, In the Afterlight and Waistcoats & Weaponry but I'm still muddling through the reviews for them. So fear not, those are in the works and will be released before December ends.


I don't know, do you folks still like food? Do you want more recipes? I have a few where it's three ingredients that I haphazardly put together (because what is fancy cooking) that I love and are super easy and whatever. Those might come. Book blogs take priority. So. There's still a chance for that.

Year End Wrap Up

I've read quite a few good books this year. I've been staring at past blog posts and the debate has been edge of the seat real. Although, spoiler alert, no adult fiction will be involved in the creation of the best books of 2014 list.

Expect that list on December 31, 2014 like WHAT UP.

Miscellaneous Extras

I've been playing a lot of board games lately, the steam winter sale is happening, and I've got a couple 'nerd' movies to watch that I've never heard of before.

Also, holiday madness. Wat.

I'm in the midst of reading a book with a few other books in the 'To be blogged' queue (quiet weeping - WHY AM I SO FAR BEHIND).

It's a good thing December only comes around once a year....because it'd be silly to have two months of December in one year. Clearly.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Alistair Grim's Odditorium

Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro

Disclaimer: This book will be published on January 6, 2015. I read the uncorrected advance proof; undoubtedly there will be minor differences between the version I read and the published story.

This book was a bit young for me; I resolved to give it a go and then even as things got a bit toooooooooo contrived/campy/suddenly well placed dialogue/etc, I had a peculiar need to validate my guesses with how it ended. amazon summary, "Grubb, age twelve (or thereabouts), has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep, paid only in insults and abuse by his cruel master. 

All of that changes the day he stows away in the coach belonging to a mysterious guest at the inn that he is tasked with cleaning. Grubb emerges from Alistair Grim's trunk and into the wondrous world of the Odditorium. Fueled by a glowing blue energy that Grubb can only begin to understand, the Odditorium is home to countless enchanted objects and an eccentric crew that embraces Grubb as one of their own. 

There's no time for Grubb to settle into his new role as apprentice to the strange, secretive Mr. Grim. When the Odditorium comes under attack, Grubb is whisked off on a perilous adventure. Only he can prevent the Odditorium's magic from falling into evil hands-and his new family from suffering a terrible fate. 

Grubb knows he's no hero. He's just a chimney sweep. But armed with only his courage and wits, Grubb will confront the life-or-death battle he alone is destined to fight." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

That amazon summary was pretty spot on. Saves me some legwork. Mmm-hmm.....

So this story was neat as there were images scattered throughout the book; this didn't really deter me from the story (as they often do) but better set the tone of the story. It's just something I found mildly surprising when the first one popped up in the midst of text.

I was alarmed at how many characters throughout the story would humor Grubb when he was being a bit thick. They would tell Grubb some little factoid about magic/the way the magic works and he'd essentially repeat it back to them before they'd be all, "THAT'S RIGHT GRUBB!" with implied giant grins on their faces. As if everyone else in the world usually muddles up repeating what was said to them. ....there was a lot of implied intellectual thickness throughout the story.

Plus, it was mildly alarming how often the adults would let children be in alarmingly dangerous situations. Mr. Grim at one point was like, "Go pass out the flyers and make sure no animus leaves this building for unexplained reasons!" Grubb would go off....with animus....and suddenly hounds appeared that basically ate your soul.


There were a lot of little nuances given to different ideas throughout the story and it came to a point where I "knew" how the story ended and basically tapped my foot as I waited for all the meaningless action to subside to reveal the end/major plot point.

Much of the humor throughout the book was very pointed out - there wasn't a whole lot that warranted a stray chuckle or two. There were characters that seemed very confined to an archetype, magic that was very confined in nature (which it's magic, so what?), and the Odditorium itself didn't come across as alarmingly unusual either.

The one gripe I truly have about this story is that there's no clear take away. There's no call to arms, moral, or strong finish; it had one of those endings where the author seemed to sit back and think, "Nah, that's all you really need to know". WHICH could lend itself to sequels (I hope not....I don't see how much more could be built off the first story without spiraling out of control with new characters or breaking the Odditorium).

Otherwise, as a stand alone, this was very shrug worthy.

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Clariel by Garth Nix

Disclaimer one: This book was published on October 14, 2014....but I totally read the advanced reader's edition because that's what was available to me. Undoubtedly there were some minor differences between the version I read and the published copy.

Disclaimer two: I've read a lot of books by Garth Nix. I've only blogged about Shade's Children and A Confusion of Princes and maybe more but I'm just not recalling them off the top of my head. ANYWHO, Garth Nix is a fantastic author; I've read Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen before; but it was a bit ago. I might have been STUPIDLY DELIGHTED to see there were more books taking place in the same universe. (For the record, I also read and adored his Keys to the Kingdom series. I'll eventually just mine through the other Garth Nix books out there....if I ever get through my 'to be read' stack....)

An amazon summary, "The long-awaited fourth book in the New York Times bestselling Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix
Award-winning author Garth Nix returns to the Old Kingdom with a thrilling prequel complete with dark magic, royalty, dangerous action, a strong heroine, and flawless world-building. This epic fantasy adventure is destined to be a classic, and is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones.
Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most important, to the King. She dreams of living a simple life but discovers this is hard to achieve when a dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?" AMAZON LINK OF GREAT JUSTICEEEE

The amazon summary did a pretty good job. I think it could have mentioned more that Clariel was OBSESSED.


....with living her own life in the woods/forest where she could basically be a hermit away from everyone. For the course of the book she seemed to have a perpetual attitude of 'SIGH, people' until ....a major plot point.... in the book.

Seriously, she likes some nature/trees and dislikes the people. She also, hilariously, found a lot of nuances about 'high society' to be super frivolous. Which was DELIGHTFUL.

ANYWHO.'s been forever since I've read Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. A lot of references were lost on me that probably would have made sense if I had read them more recently. Regardless, there were a lot of little clever things woven throughout the story that I adored.

Garth Nix's writing was still awesome. Sir has writing game like HOLLAAAA (not sorry).

It was jam packed with great settings, a great sense of the time, a lot of the culture was so prevalent.

Clariel's character wasn't quite to my taste, but she was a great narrator to be thrust into the middle of the city.

The most curious part of the book for me was Clariel's parents and her family history. It's explained just enough where it's satisfying, but there are still parts that greatly mystify me.

But, that's mostly me being an obnoxious reader. The story was pretty complete and fantastic.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & The Fall of Imperial Russia

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion,& The Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

My major reading flaw is that I hold no interest in reading history.


If it's historical fiction, I tend to be more interested in it as it's usually some tweak or interpretation of events.

There are some notable exceptions, like Amelia Lost and Babe Conquers the World, but for the most part I just shirk it. I usually find the reading to be excessively dull and I want to roll my eyes at it for an uncomfortable length of time.

Much like most adult fiction.....AHEM, anyways.

An amazon summary with random reviews by other book publishers that amazon seemed to really want to be included, "Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs—at once an intimate portrait of Russia's last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost; The Lincolns) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family’s extravagant lives and the plight of Russia's poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read as well as a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.

“[A] superb history.... In these thrilling, highly readable pages, we meet Rasputin, the shaggy, lecherous mystic...; we visit the gilded ballrooms of the doomed aristocracy; and we pause in the sickroom of little Alexei, the hemophiliac heir who, with his parents and four sisters, would be murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.” —The Wall Street Journal

"An exhilarating narrative history of a doomed and clueless family and empire." —Jim Murphy, author of Newbery Honor Books An American Plague and The Great Fire
"For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming’s extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience." —Booklist, Starred

"Marrying the intimate family portrait of Heiligman’s Charles and Emma with the politics and intrigue of Sheinkin’s Bomb, Fleming has outdone herself with this riveting work of narrative nonfiction that appeals to the imagination as much as the intellect." —The Horn Book, Starred" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

,....that took most of forever to get through. Like history. OOOOOOOhhhh....yeah I'll just talk about books now.

There also isn't a whole lot of summary I should give for this book, because, well, it's history. Hyuck.... ....


The neat thing about this book is that it shows the family Romanov from more than one point of view. It illustrates what was happening within the family alongside major world events.

Throughout the story there's not only the account of what's happening in third person, but also letters from peasants, the family, etc; whoever is most relevant to the story.

It shows the climate leading up to the last Tsar and explains much of Nicholas' upbringing while also leading to the downfall and eventual death of the Romanov family.

It's pretty fantastic. I feel much more educated on Russian history than before while also feeling as if I read a book rather than a textbook.

So a history book I can stand? OR a history textbook that reads like a fictional book. But it's not a textbook as far as I know. Russia noises!


I absolutely adored reading this book; it was one I struggled to leave alone.

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Sekret by Lindsay Smith

....I read the published version of this book. So...I don't need a disclaimer I guess. feels weird.


Spoiler alert that's not about this book; my next review will also be on a book based in Russia. MWAHAHAHAHA (no, this is not becoming a trend, maybe.)

An amazon summary, "Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she's captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she's thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Sooo....that amazon summary was very bland, too bland in fact. I'll break it down for you.

Yulia's parents worked for Russia (to put it in a very non-descriptive way) as doctors. Yulia's Father disappeared one day and Yulia, her mother, and her brother (who is heavily hinted to have autism or something 'off' about his brain) are in hiding. They used to live the high life as Soviet aristocrats, valued by the government, etc. Much is shrouded in secrecy about why her Father and Mother were like NOPE one day about working for Russia.

So, Yulia, her mother, and her brother as in hiding. Yulia has psychic powers in that by touching someone she can read their minds, and she can sense memories that linger on objects. She uses this to her advantage in the black market where she can sell belongings from their wealthy lifestyle to get simple necessities like food.

Yulia is constantly on guard about being caught. She takes precautions and will leave a deal if a situation doesn't feel quite right.

Well, one thing leads to another, she slips up a little bit, and BAM! The KGB swoop in on her and her family to claim them. They know Yulia has psychic powers and they're holding her mother and brother hostage so she'll be compliant with their top secret band of psychic teenagers. They also go through a kind of sad/hilarious training montage where Yulia SUCKS at being psychic and everyone else is like, "...whoa, calm down those thoughts. Yeesh."

That being said, there are a lot of other kids who are in this training program. They all have different abilities but everyone is able to telepathically communicate, which is kind of neat.

That should be enough summary.

So some things that I had slight qualms with about this story.

Sometimes I felt the book really lacked a lot of little details. As in the book never managed to quite capture the atmosphere of a situation, but told the actions quite well.

There was also a lot kept in the dark about the book (which I suppose plays a lot into the 'Sekret' business). I found it a little tiresome that Yulia practically knew nothing about her parents' line of work besides that they were doctors of some variety, and I was also getting a bit fed up with Yulia's own shortcomings.


I did like the depiction of powers for the most part (except the remote-viewing, that could use a little more work).

I did enjoy seeing a more diverse group of teenagers present as far as personalities go.

I did like some of the cultural implications, although I'm not certain how true they rang.

But really, I did enjoy the overall story, and I'm pretty damn sure it's going to have a sequel, which I will read whenever that happens. So.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chasing Power

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Disclaimer: Although this book was published October 14, 2014; I read the advanced reader's copy. Undoubtedly there will be some minor differences between the version I read and the published copy. it's been a while since I've come across a book that's unreadable. Are you ready?

An amazon summary, "Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind-things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers-and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both. 

When she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel-a boy with the ability to teleport-he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family-and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Further disclaimer; I made it to page 42 of 366 pages.

What literally made me put the book down was when Daniel had a sudden burst of exposition all contained in a one paragraph speech that explained nothing and left me wanting to hurl the book.

I've started to just call it when I see that sort of thing transpires.

Let me back up.

So Kayla lives with her mom, Moonbeam, in some sort of tiny house/cottage thing where their is clearly abnormal beliefs present (ie not Christian, strongly hinted at by the mother's name and the decor but not expressed before I stopped reading). Kayla is able to move things with her mind and steals a lot of money, credit cards, jewels, etc. Her best, super rich friend is aware of her habits and finds it appealing enough to dare Kayla to do different things with it.

Apparently Kayla's father is a terrible person for relatively unexplained reasons and Kayla and her Mom are in hiding from him and will run if necessary.

Fine, I can totally buy that. I can totally buy that you moved to this tiny town to hide from him. Sweet.

Then Kayla goes through these very meticulous moments of how she uses her telekinesis to steal things....but it seems super unconvincing. Like Kayla, the narrator, is as detached from the situation as the reader. Everything is very methodical/mechanical sounding without much going on from the narrator input.

I digress.

So Daniel pops up and keeps bumping into Kayla. He spots her stealing, calls her out on it, freaks her out, and then reveals that his mother told him Kayla's name where she lives, and to only go to her in time of emergency.

When Daniel reveals this, Kayla is like WHOA, I have no past before I moved here, gets freaked out, but seems to accept Daniel's story. I peaced out. I don't want to deal with exposition explosion on top of a narrator who seems to be rather like a lump of clay.

On to the next book!

Happy reading!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The World According To Garp

The World According to Garp by John Irving

First book review back from a month of NaNoWriMo shenanigans and I write about an adult fiction book? WHAT HAS THIS BOOK LIFE COME TO?

...well, this book was recommended to me by a friend who enjoyed the unique perspective it showed, and apparently there's a movie with Robin Williams in it based on this book (which I intend to watch at some point in my life), and I thought, hey, why not?

Disclaimer: This is an adult book, sexuality is a strong theme in this book. There are a few horrifically graphic scenes in this book. If that is uncomfortable for you, I'd recommend not reading any further.

So an amazon summary, "This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields, a feminist leader ahead of her time. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes, even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with lunacy and sorrow, yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries–with more than ten million copies in print–this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: “In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.”" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE in my 'What will I review tab?' SHAMELESS PLUG, I talk about how I get really bored with adult fiction, and how they seem to wind up as convoluted ways for characters to have sex with each other.

The emphasis on sex in this book was so strong, it took so much for me to stomach it.

The World According to Garp shows the life of Garp. He was born to Jenny who had a complete lack of interest in sex and lust but still wanted a child. She was a nurse who looked after wounded soldiers returning from war, and came across the original Garp. The original Garp declined drastically from a brain injury but still had giant erections. So Jenny took it upon herself to let the original Garp ejaculate into her before the original Garp died. Thus creating the narrator Garp; thus named after his dead father. I felt like that was all within the first 2% of the book.

Garp's mother Jenny is an 'accidental feminist' if you will, and feminism becomes a strong theme of the book....but it really has to fight for a voice against all of the sex happening throughout the story.

I wanted to read this book as a commentary on society. How so much of our culture is tied into sex; who's having sex with who, how to be more sexy, etc etc. There was even the fair share of crazies throughout the story (or characters perceived as crazy but were trying to establish their self identity through questionable manners; that point is highly debatable as well).

There was moments of fatherhood, moments of loss, and many moments where sex was involved. (If all else fails, sex sells right? ....pardon me while I cringe for having written that.)

Maybe it was more of a commentary on how one man's life might seem entirely their own, but the ripple effect that each human has in the smallest and most innocent of interactions can cause dramatic results in the end.

However, I had to read it as one man's interpretation on dealing with the animal of life in all its many aspects. There were certainly themes present throughout that sought for humor and dug for the finer feelings that exist. It seemed to have a clumsy grasp of what it was trying to accomplish since there were no clear points and it dragged us through a terrible resolution/epilogue sequence.

There really seemed to be overwhelming potential for the book, but it got too caught up in itself almost. As if it were trying to be the latest, most gripping story.

But is that also a commentary on life?

I really throw my hands up at this book and wash myself of 'adult' fiction for a while.....until I unsuspectingly agree to read something else 'adult' of course. However, I will probably more readily give up on it though.

Happy reading!