Saturday, February 28, 2015

Talker 25

Talker 25 by Joshua McCune


I know, I just get a little hyped up when I find one that seems remotely promising....


An amazon summary, "It's a high-school prank gone horribly wrong—sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon—and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population. Joshua McCune's debut novel offers action, adventure, fantasy, and a reimagining of popular dragon lore. "The story packs significant punch."—Publishers Weekly" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

This story starts in the middle of a bad prank that throws everything out of whack for Melissa (the narrator) as she takes a photo on top of a sleeping dragon that's on a dragon reservation.


Back story on the world that the book doesn't really care to tell you until you've pretty much figured it out for yourself and just have to accept the weird facts revealed at odd plot times.

Dragons mysteriously appeared one day; they come in three colors, blue, red, and green. People have been at odds with how to treat the dragons, but everyone agrees that red and green dragons are nightmares while the blue ones just seem to sleep all the time.

Melissa's Mom was killed by a dragon, but she was secretly a supporter of dragons being free and trying to coexist with them.

Melissa's Dad works on the reservation that is full of blue dragons and studies them.

Both her parents were members of the military.

Oh, everyone lives in houses that are painted black, because the dragons can't see black....and they live in the 'normal' post apocalyptic world where everything sucks and no one bothers to explain the mechanics of their society.'s a dragon attack on the town Melissa is in, she's rescued by some 'good' dragons. It turns out she has the mental prowess to speak with dragons (as do quite a few other people turns out), kind of joins people who are anti-military/government because they treat dragons cruelly (turns out their cool too or people or something? Unclear) and she's spirited away to a compound where she can maybe help?

Oh and the dragons are starting to make babies which is something they haven't done in the 10+ years they've already been on Earth.

....did I mention no one knows where they came from...including the dragons?

Essentially, the story spins into a horrible government crazy time, everyone is tortured and turned into slaves that can speak to dragons (or killed), and the whole world seems to revolve around any convoluted fantasy story.

Just hard pass on this book guys. Just hard pass.

The plot is so twisted in on itself, the writing doesn't allow for any concepts to be fully developed, and Melissa doesn't even have a consistent personality to relate to...ever.

I think I finished it without realizing I was at the end. Like what!? Then the regrets happened. I could have been reading something else.

Oy. Such is life.

Happy reading!

Monday, February 23, 2015


Jinx by Sage Blackwood


An amazon summary because needs, "The highly acclaimed first book of a fantasy adventure series set in a mysterious forest, starring a daring new hero.
"Readers will thrill to journey with Jinx" (SLJ, starred review), a wizard's apprentice, as he sets off on a quest through the dangerous Urwald, a magical forest full of wizards and were-creatures, and discovers that it is more complex than he could imagine, and that it needs him more than he could ever guess.
This humorous and smart tween fantasy adventure is perfect for fans of Septimus Heap, The Sisters Grimm, and Fablehaven." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
This is my normal cup of tea as far as book genres go, but there's something about this story that doesn't sit well with me.
Let's talk plot.
Jinx lives in the Urwald; a dangerous magical place that seems to be a giant country filled with woods. In the woods there are different clearings that different people and creatures come from. There's also a path through the Urwald that restricts harm being done to travelers of said path.
One day, due to a lack of food and general kindness, Jinx's stepfather leads him into the woods to abandon him...but Jinx is found by Simon Magnus; a wizard of the Urwald.
Simon takes Jinx home and Jinx spends a few years of life just cleaning the house, watching over things that aren't of magical concern. Simon takes care of Jinx to an extent; he's really a father to Jinx, but more of a friendly caretaker ish....
Jinx discovers he can hear the trees of the Urwald when he buries his naked feet in the dirt. He also starts learning more about Simon and his magic as his curiosity begins to peak...sprawling into an adventure into the Urwald.
So, my main hold up with this story is it wasn't very gripping.
There were a lot of parts of the book that were supposed to be kind of action filled and more attention gripping while also revealing mysteries that will probably be puzzled out in future books. There was scattered character development, world building, etc....which normally would have a nice cohesion to it....but it all just seemed to be the same.
Kind of like going down the river in a canoe and seeing a wide variety of things on shore - good, bad, or other - but never stopping the canoe to see them. The river stays a steady pace and there aren't any barriers, you just keep going at the same pace regardless of what's happening around you.
While that works for some books, I don't think it quite works for Jinx.
Overall, it was a kind of fun read, but I don't have an urge to read any further books in the series.
Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

This Star Won't Go Out

This Star Won't Go Out by Esther, Lori, and Wayne Earl

This was a tough one.

An amazon summary, "In full color and illustrated with art and photographs, this is a collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 16. Essays by family and friends help to tell Esther’s story along with an introduction by award-winning author John Green who dedicated his #1 bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars to her." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I honestly couldn't finish reading this one because it was so sad. It kept getting me choked up and I really couldn't push through it.

It felt a lot like a mix of a Chicken Soup for the Soul book while also having the pivotal children/teenager point of view/voice.

Not being able to read this was probably more of a failing of my person rather than the book itself.

The book was well put together, had a lot of interesting graphics, and probably not a lot of editing to keep everything with a true ring to it from Esther herself (may she rest in peace).

Hopefully, this book is inspirational for a lot of people, and they can take all of her meaningful words to heart.

I just couldn't handle the emotions it invoked.

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Jackaby by William Ritter

Everyone, you can groan with me, another Sherlock Holmes super sleuth book? GAHH!!!!!

....but it was actually pretty funny, charming, and I definitely want to read the second one.

An amazon summary, "Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job,Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

This was definitely a fun jaunt into the supernatural as the main character, Abigail is at a slight disadvantage.

Her employer, Jackaby, can see all manner of paranormal/magical creatures and knows where to look for any signs of them.

Abigail is decidedly normal and doesn't have any sudden moments where because of whatever incident, she can also see the paranormal/irregular. She has a resolute stubbornness about her, a sense of adventure, and doing things, unlike many females of the age. She also has a bit of 'no nonsense' attitude and begins to get a bigger backbone as the story progresses; a female protagonist of worth for sure.


The story unfolds in a murder mystery as the sleuths try to figure out who done it; man or creature? And then, which creature?

The world building was top notch, and the characters had a natural sense about them.

Truly wonderful.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Crossover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

This is a powerful story told through poetry.

It's also about basketball....which I normally would find very off-putting, but this was pretty awesome.

An amazon summary, ""With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander (He Said, She Said 2013).

   Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

This story was fantastic.

The stage seemed to be set by basketball, but really conquered a lot of hard issues that people grapple with as they grow up.

The twins do everything together; play basketball, walk to school, etc. Thick as thieves.

But then a twin gets a crush and everything starts becoming a little lopsided and out of sync; their mom worries about their dad's health and the book really portrays what feels like a real family.

The poetry lent itself to concise language, but read just like a regular novel would. It really helped to accelerate the pacing without losing anything important.

Great, quick read even though the book is a solid 237 pages.

Happy reading!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Last Wild

The Last Wild by Piers Torday

This had a fantastically interesting premise, some specks of humor sprinkled through it, but I couldn't finish it.

An amazon summary, "In a world where animals are slowly fading into extinction, twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes feels as if he hardly exists either. He’s been locked away in a home for troubled children and is unable to speak a word. Then one night, a flock of talking pigeons and a bossy cockroach come to help him escape, and he discovers that he can speak—to them. And the animals need him. Only Kester, with the aid of a stubborn, curious girl named Polly, can help them survive.
 The animals saved Kester. But can he save them?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Kester doesn't speak.

He's locked up in a home for troubled kids and mentally speaks with cockroaches.

The world suffers from a disease that has been killed off all the animals except for cockroaches.

....except, it turns out there is a last wild that has survived with a few species of animals. Kester is busted out of the troubled home and the animals carry him off to the last wild in hopes that he can find the cure to the disease that's killing all of them.

The reason I gave up is the pacing of the story didn't let anything really happen all that quickly and one character was relied on to have all the humor for the book. I got to page 180 and gave up a bit exasperated.

There was also a lot of lecturing on how to be a better person and a lot of reminiscing on how things used to be.

It was neat to see the different animals 'talk' to each other...but it wasn't enough to hold my attention to the finish.

I've heard a lot of good things about this book, but they were hard to find for me.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Rose and the Lost Princess

Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb

I didn't realize this was a sequel until I looked it up on Amazon.


Regardless, I gave up on it for style of writing reasons, so here's an amazon summary, "Holly Webb's hit middle-grade fantasy series are the perfect books for 11 and 12 year-old girls beginning to realize their own power and potential-and who might just still believe in magic...

In this second volume, the spunky young magician Rose returns to battle the forces of darkness and save the country's beloved Princess. Set in 19th century England, this magical adventure offers a rich sense of history and a strong, independent heroine young readers can really root for. Rose is perfect for "fans of princesses, magic, fantasy, and mystery" (School Library Journal). 

Not all magic is used for good... Rose's whole life has changed in a matter of weeks. Once a lonely orphan, now she's an apprentice to the King's chief magician! But as Rose's magical abilities blossom, she's still uneasy about her new powers-and learns the hard way that power often comes at a price.  

When the Princess vanishes, rumors of dark magic fly through the city, casting doubt and suspicion on everyone with magical powers. Even Rose's friends don't seem to trust her anymore.
Now Rose must find the missing girl. Can she shatter the power of an evil magician before all is lost?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I made it to page 54 of this book before I called it quits.

Rose is a terrible character to be a narrator.

She's constantly thinking badly about herself and I significantly could not deal with another female narrator being so acutely flawed.

The characters' dialogue also seemed very stilted and robotic as if they weren't sure how to form a sentence.

Many of the descriptions were much more concerned about the details of what a character looked like rather than world building elements.

I saw all the signs, took it as a lost cause, and gave up.

Maybe if I had read the first book, all of the world building would have been in there.....but it seems unlikely.


Happy reading!

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Children of the King

The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett

A World War II novel. Hmmm....

An amazon summary, "Cecily and Jeremy have been sent to live with their uncle Peregrine in the English countryside, safe from the war, along with a young refugee named May. But when Cecily and May find two mysterious boys hiding in the ruins of a nearby castle, an extraordinary adventure begins." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Honestly, after reading this book, it put me off of blogging for a bit. I really hesitated to dislike this book as someone I know well adores this book. But alas, I just cannot agree with them.

As the story unfolds about Cecily and Jeremy, it grapples with the situation with integrity for realism. It wholeheartedly captured a lot of the natural, childish innocence that slowly becomes obliterated by the war.

However, when May is introduced, there's an element of unknown mystery and almost magical realism added.

Then Peregrine starts revealing more about his back story as well as tells a story about a kingdom from old.

The story becomes warped with magic in what was once a starkly realistic setting.

The book did a great job of capturing the war of emotions within children as they're faced with a world-changing situation that they have no direct influence over.....

But it pretty much threw it all away when magic was introduced.

The book didn't really accomplish anything that hasn't been said before and almost belittles the gems of inescapable truths woven throughout the story.

I really struggled to finish the book as I wanted to know how it ended, but the text was hard to get through as the pace of the story horrendously dragged a lot before having bursts of vivid activity.

All in all, I'm really just kind of going 'booooooooooooo' at this book.

Happy reading!

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheikin

Another adventure into nonfiction books! I snuck this one out of my 'highly recommended books' stash, I agree with the recommendation.

An amazon summary, "An astonishing civil rights story from Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin.
On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution.

This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America's armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

In San Francisco Bay during World War II, there were black men who had signed up for the navy to help fight in the war. There ambitions were to become sailors, to fight for their country, and to make a difference.

What they did was load live bombs into the cargo holds on ships without any formal training.

Say it with me, "Whatttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt *censored noises*".

Not so long ago, the United States of America was still a segregated country and the civil rights movement was really getting started.

This book follows the early exploits of black men being in the navy and what trials they started to go through to stop segregation, to be treated fairly. It just scratches the surface of the struggle, but concentrates a lot on the court battle the Port Chicago 50 faced while being accused of mutiny.

The writing in this book read like a fiction book (which is always a super plus) and the book had different historic photos and documents throughout the text to enhance the story.

I had never heard about the Port Chicago 50 before and I hope that more stories like this begin to surface.

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This is another book that I snuck out of my 'strongly recommended' pile to intersperse some of the questionable ones I've read lately.


I wish I had read this book my senior year of high school. It tackles so much about the awkward freshman year of college while also having a copious amount of nerd dome. Freaking fantastic.

An amazon summary, "In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life--and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Cath is obsessed with Simon Snow (their world's version of Harry Potter essentially, but with more vampires). She writes really good fanfiction about Simon Snow, has a very intense following (thousands and thousands of people), and she's writing her own version of how the last book should play out.....all while embarking on the scary adventure of college.

She has a twin sister Wren, who is striving to embrace the college life and kind of shuck her old high school way of life. Cath is pretty upset by this as they used to do everything together (even write fanfiction) but she's putting her best foot forward if not reluctantly.

They were raised by a single father after their mom left when they were in third grade. All three family members went quietly crazy in their own ways and went through some therapy to deal with it. Their Dad is a creative genius and works in marketing....but also has a tendency to get too caught up in his ideas and forget about the rest of life. While Cath and Wren were around, they were able to help out and kind of manage him when he gets a bit manic; bring him back to reality so he doesn't get too caught up in his ideas. With both daughters going off to college, the concern is a bit high.

So at college, Cath has a dysfunctionally awesome roommate, Reagan, who kind of pries Cath out of their shared room and into the more social aspects of college life. Reagan also has a friend (and maybe boyfriend) Levi who is just as charming and funny as Reagan.

This is really a coming of age story of sorts. There is a bit of debate about whether or not fanfiction is its' own entity of writing, but I really think it was geared more towards showing how Cath started getting out of her comfort zone, and all the super confusing things that come with it.

I absolutely adored this book; the writing was beautiful, the story was gripping so I never wanted to put the book down, and the character development felt so real. I didn't want to leave the book. If there was a sequel, I'd be all over it. I'd be content with how the story came to a close though, it seems to have finished gracefully.

Madly in love with this book a bit.

Fantastic. Simply Fantastic.

Happy reading!