In Pursuit of Magic

11910458_1485378118459165_1850452787_nHave you ever come across something that has completely knocked you off your feet and made you sit up and say, “WOW!”? It can be anything: a book or a quote, a photograph or a piece of art,  or even witnessing an intimate moment between two people that you just happened to notice while the rest of the world hustled by unaware. I believe everything that inspires us is a direct communication from the universe and these little nuggets of magic become part of our own histories, even though we may not be involved in the origin of any of it. By simply being a witness to such things, the fabric of our lives are forever altered.

I’ve been finding inspiration like this in massive spoonfuls lately, especially after reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. One chapter in particular stood out in regard to the subject of synchronicity where she wrote about a moment in her life where her writing was concerned. I found it to be so in tune with where my mind has been in recent months and I recently wrote a post about the power of synchronicity HERE, which might tickle your fancy. But I digress. As I quickly devoured Big Magic, I felt the inspiration walking across every inch of my skin as so much of it resonated with my life. This section was about her friendship with fellow author, Ann Patchett and how synchronicity played a significant role in their union. They met during a panel talk they were involved in and immediately Liz fell in love with Ann’s spirit as she spoke. An instant bond was made and because neither of them care for talking on the phone, even considering that they live far apart, they instead decided to become pen pals. Handwritten paper and ink letters in the 21st century, how cool is that? In my mind these letters are similar to ones from Jane Austen novels with all the whimsy and romance of old school beauty, which may be bonkers, but a girl can dream right? 😉

Anyway, prior to meeting Ann, Liz was struggling to develop an idea for a novel about a woman lost in the Amazon. It was an idea filled with adventure and danger and chaos, but above all, it was a love story. Unfortunately, because she took too long to write it due to unexpected life events, it left her. It essentially felt free to move on to someone else who would give it the attention it demanded. Here’s the cool part: a while later, during one of their visits, Ann mentioned a new novel she was writing and it turned out that it was Liz’s story, with her own spin of course, but the similarity was undeniable. Ann said that she got the inspiration for it right after they met and Liz believes it was transferred when they hugged that day. I know, you probably think this all sounds a bit “woo-woo,” but I think it’s crazy beautiful big magic! This story gave me chills and I am just the reader, I can’t even imagine how they felt, but it must have been a profound moment. This made me realize something about my own writing, in particular a novel concept that I’ve been toying with for years, and I realized that this is perhaps why it feels so difficult to write. That particular story has clearly moved on to someone who is better equipped to write it and I’m 100% okay with that. Big Magic gave me new inspiration and I am excited to see where it takes me.


“Inspiration is allowed to do whatever it wants to, in fact, and it is never obliged to justify its motives to any of us. (As far as I’m concerned, we’re lucky that inspiration talks to us at all; it’s too much to ask that it also explain itself.) In the end, it’s all just violets trying to come to light…

Work with all of your heart, because — I promise–if you show up for your work day after day after day after day, you just might get lucky enough some random morning to burst right into bloom…

Defending yourself as a creative person begins by defining yourself. It begins when you declare your intent. Stand up tall and say it aloud, whatever it is.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic


*Stands up tall, clears throat, and speaks*

I AM A WRITER.
I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER.
I AM A CHEF.
I AM AN ARTIST.
I AM A SPIRIT JUNKIE.
I AM A CREATIVE PERSON
…AND SO IT IS.

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

9460487Author: Ransom Riggs

Book Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy/Creepy/Horror??

Type: Series – Book 1

Format: Paperback, 352 Pages

Publishing Date: June 7, 2011

Summary: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. [summary from Goodreads]


My Thoughts:  Last semester I took a class that focused on adolescent literature, which spoke directly to me because, as you all know, it’s my favorite genre to read. The last review that I wrote on Midwinterblood was one of the novels for this class and Miss Peregrine’s was another assigned reading that I hadn’t read prior to the course. Considering that this book came out four years ago and the third book in the series just released this month, I feel pretty behind schedule here. I mean, who hasn’t seen this creepy cover while perusing their local bookstore? I’ve seen it more times than I can list but I never thought to pick it up specifically because of the creepiness of it. That cover told me that it must be some sort of horror story and those are definitely not my thing. Well I was wrong and now, after reading it, I am bummed to have waited this long because it was surprisingly good.

Now, you may be wondering why I have only given it three and a half stars (flowers here) instead of five if I thought it was so good, and that is a valid thought. I’ve even had that thought myself because when I think about the book as a whole, it is a very well thought out story with an amazing concept to go along with it. The entire book is one of the most unique stories that I have ever read because not only did Riggs craft his characters in such a way that you both hated them and liked them all at once, but he also brilliantly used old photographs to further weave this elaborate backstory into the bizarrely magical world where Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children live. Just flipping through this book alone is like walking through some elderly relative’s family photo albums. It is a great idea and it worked seamlessly with everything that he chose to include in his narrative.

The problem is that I was halfway through the book before I got to the point where I didn’t want to put it down until I finished it and what kept me going up until that point were the brief allusions to the idea that this was a story wrapped up in the middle of Nazi warfare, which is a fascinating subject based on the sheer magnitude of events during that time period alone. But I digress. The halfway point was the moment where Riggs really hooked me and given the incredible praise for this novel by critics and the web chatter about it on other book sites, it should not have taken so long for me to care about this story. Having said that, however, I am very hopeful for the second book to pick up at the same speed as this one ended and catapult me back into this creeptacular world of mysterious happenings. *fingers crossed*

Rating: 5-flowers

Quotable Moments: 

“Stars, too, were time travelers. How many of those ancient points of light were the last echoes of suns now dead? How many had been born but their light not yet come this far? If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize we were alone? I had always known the sky was full of mysteries—but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was.”

Book Review: Midwinterblood

15792870Author: Marcus Sedgwick

Book Title: Midwinterblood

Genre: Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery??

Type: Stand Alone

Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages

Publishing Date: February 5, 2013

Summary: Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined–this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.
An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love. A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2013 & a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013.
[summary from Goodreads]


My Thoughts:  I am currently taking a class that focuses on adolescent literature, which should have been the best class that I’ve taken so far in my pursuit of my B.A. in English because I absolutely love YA literature, but unfortunately my professor is a bit too self involved. What I mean by this is that he spends more time pushing his own perspectives on every book we are reading rather than remaining objective and opening up the discussion for all viewpoints. However, even with this annoying teaching method bringing down my once potential love affair with a college class, I have really enjoyed reading some of the assigned books. The first of which is called Midwinterblood and normally, based on the cover alone which I am completely guilty of caring about, I would never pick up a book like this one. The cover art is made even more bizarre after reading the novel and finding that nothing about it translates to the story, plus I really don’t like people on my book covers. I don’t know, it feels kind of weird to me. Haha! Wow, I am a nit-picky reader! ANYWAY, I did a bit of digging and discovered that there were originally two alternate covers for this book when it was first published, covers that were incredibly perfect in my opinion, but they were apparently changed to this fugly one because I guess people felt that the originals gave too much of the story away?? Well that is absolutely impossible to do and here is why…

This book was a complete mind fuck. Pardon my language for those of you who are more sensitive to such things, but I honestly have no other way to describe it because every minute, hour, and day after finishing this book has revealed brand new thoughts on it where I find myself sitting there going “OMG! THIS IS BRILLIANT!” It is one of those extreme love/hate relationships, especially because it took almost the entire book to get any sort of answers, which to the authors credit he really pulled off the outcome. I was very apprehensive at first because this was an ambitious plot to take on but my hat is off to Sedgwick for sure. So, even with my crazy up and down experience, the finished product garnered Midwinterblood five stars and I think the author might be a genius too. I mean, this guy wrote a seven part story that is relatively simple in it’s idea and then added subtle things into each piece that make the reader feel a bit out of control. It is pretty difficult to explain but the general gist of things is that there are two central characters that appear in each story, Erik and Merle, and their names slightly change given the time period each piece is set in and their roles in each others lives switch up too. The novel runs backwards through time from the most modern to a period that is so far back the author is even unsure of the exact year. There are hares, which are pretty important as the tales spiral further into the labyrinth of “WTF is going on here?!,” a guy named Tor, who may or may not be a reference to Norse mythology (which my professor is completely sold upon), everything takes place on Blessed Island, and there is a rare orchid that only grows on this island that is said to be a magical dragon flower that may or may not prolong the lives of people on the island. Also, there is a lot of tea drinking and things always get very fuzzy with each sip, so as the reader I wanted to smack Erik every time he brought the dangerous cup to his lips. STOP DRINKING THE DAMN TEA!!!

Anyway, I am sorry for my erratic brain spillage here but this book has really befuddled me. Have any of you read it??? If so, please discuss it with me in the comments. I’m amazed with how many new things come up as I talk about it with others. If you haven’t read it, I’m pretty sure that you should. Grab a cup of magic tea and get sucked in. It’s a short book that you’ll either love or hate, but I assure you that one thing is certain, you will have a strong viewpoint about it come the final page. Let my poll from my class solidify the strong views evoked here: it was a split of 70/30 with the majority fiercely hating it. So take the gamble, roll those proverbial dice, and let me know! 😀 Oh, and did I mention that it won the Printz Award in 2014?

Rating: 5-flowers

Quotable Moments: 

“If a life can be ruined in a single moment, a moment of betrayal, or violence, or ill luck, then why can a life not also be saved, be worth living, be made, by just a few pure moments of perfection?”

“Eirikr lies on the table, staring into the night sky, staring at the uncountable stars that are shining brightly down on him.
What lives, he thinks, are lived by the men up there?
What do they do?
What do they believe?
What do they see?
Do they see me?
He wonders about them all, all the many lives that have been, and that will be, and wonders why they are not all the same, why they are what they are. It cannot be, he thinks, that when our life is run, we are done. There must be more to man than that, surely?
That we are not just one, but a multitude.”

A bit of bookish humor

It’s Friday morning and it is seriously way too early to be up blogging, but that is exactly what I am doing. I just posted my review of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and then I saw this funny picture on Facebook that I wanted to share with you all. So, I hope you all have a lovely Friday and an even lovelier weekend ahead. 😀

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Book Review: Scarlet

13206760Author: Marissa Meyer

Book Title: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles)

Genre: Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Type: Series (Book #2)

Format: Hardcover, 452 Pages

Publishing Date: February 5, 2013

Summary: Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.[summary from Goodreads]


My Thoughts: Cinder is back in all of her cyborg glory (YAY!), Prince Kai has his own chapters sprinkled in again as well, and there are two new guys in town named Thorne and Wolf. But the central focus of this book is the newest bad-ass female in the Lunar Chronicles; the fiery red-head named Scarlet and this is her story.

After I finished Cinder, I felt so unsure of where her journey was headed. Marissa Meyer definitely didn’t give readers any sort of closure or focus for this second book in the series, all we knew was that it would feature another fairy tale and her spin on it. I went into Scarlet with the focus of finding out about Cinder’s fate though and unfortunately, due to this laser focus in my brain, I missed out on getting into Scarlet’s story in the first few chapters. Luckily I quickly got out of this mindset and began to realize that Meyer is smart and she would eventually give me the answers I was hoping for, so I got invested in Scarlet and Wolf. What I love about this series is that even though this is introducing a new leading lady, it did not in any way detract from the initial book once it picked up steam. In fact, I think that I liked this one even better than the first. Not only was it awesome to leave New Beijing and head to a post-war Paris, but this book was actually darker and edgier than Cinder was. It had me flipping pages faster and faster as the climax of the story really hit it’s stride and I loved every second of that. If this is a sign for what’s to come, I am seriously excited!

Aside from being a slow start in those first few chapters, it really bothered me when Scarlet had a few fleeting moments of insecurity. I was briefly reminded of Bella from Twilight in the sense that she kept taking the blame for everything that was going wrong and she was also very naive about the strength of the people around her as she tried to keep them “safe” when she was actually the vulnerable one. Kind of like when Bella kept begging Jacob to steer clear of the Vampires because they would squash him like a bug. Yeah, she underestimated his basic instincts as a wolf, and coincidentally the male lead here is also a sort of animal and his name is Wolf. But I digress. This switch in Scarlet’s demeanor was no accident because this is what happens when girls become googly-eyed over boys. Am I right? Yep! From the start, Scarlet was this extremely confident girl who was a bit too aggressive to be a farmer delivering produce to restaurants, but whatever. She was also kind of a loner, aside from living with her grandmother on their farm. So when she developed feelings for this guy, after only a day of knowing each other, it was awkward, for me and for them. While I appreciate seeing women in vulnerable positions, I felt that this behavior wasn’t being true to the character in those moments, but then again she was delirious from a lack of sleep and was also dealing with extreme emotional turmoil because her dear grand-mère was kidnapped by lunatics. So, I suppose she’s allowed to have these ridiculous moments, I just hope that it doesn’t happen again, and that is what kept this book from being a five star read for me.

Overall this is a very cool world to get lost in and I am looking forward to digging into Cress!

Rating: 5-flowers

Quotable Moments: 

“I lied to you about a lot of things….but I meant every apology.”

“Her mind emptied of everything but the gusting wind and how fragile Wolf looked in that heartbeat, like one movement could break him open.”

Book Review: Cinder

11235712Author: Marissa Meyer

Book Title: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles)

Genre: Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Type: Series (Book #1)

Format: Hardcover, 390 Pages

Publishing Date: January 3, 2012

Summary: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. [summary from Goodreads]


My Thoughts: I’m not going to get into the plot and all of that because, given how old this book is, I am sure most of you have already read it plus the description above says a lot. 😉 What I will say is that I found it completely original, which stunned me considering that it is a retelling of a very old and very well known story. Meyer took the story of Cinderella and transported the characters to Beijing, China in a sort of post-apocalyptic world and she gave the people a pandemic that is a death sentence for any human who contracts it. There are three types of people: cyborgs (like Cinder) who are half human and half robot, normal humans that think they are superior to everyone else, and the Lunars who live on the moon and because of their varied gifts actually might be better than everyone else but they are total jerks and the people on earth fear them. The coolest thing about this retelling is that Cinder is a cyborg mechanic, which makes her such a bad ass. It is seriously such a cool twist that takes the whole “damsel in distress” fairy tale that Cinderella turned into once Disney got their hands on it and morphs it into something new and refreshing. Cinder is a tough, no nonsense kind of girl, her younger stepsister, Peony, is a sweetheart without a wicked bone in her body and they are very close, her best friend, Iko, is an android robot that wishes she was a real live girl and everyone can’t help swooning over prince Kai. The Lunar queen, Levana, gives all other evil queens a run for their money too and it’s awesome even though I hate her. Haha!

What makes the whole series even better is that each book is a twisted retelling of other fairy tales like Cinder is. They are as follows:

  • Book 2: Scarlet (Red Riding Hood)
  • Book 3: Cress (Rapunzel)
  • Book 3.5 Fairest (this one isn’t retelling a fairytale and it is really more of an addition type of story to the series that revolves around the Lunar queen, Levana, to give readers more back story on her.)
  • Book 4: Winter (Snow White – hits shelves on November 10th)

If I had to fault anything about this book it would be the pacing. It took me a bit to get into the story and I found a couple of the twists a bit predictable. Other than that though it was a quick read once I got into it and I just made a library run to pick up the next three. I’m excited to dive into them and find out what happens next for Cinder as well as get to know the rest of the cool girls in the Lunar Chronicles. So if you haven’t checked these books out yet, get to it, and if you have let me know your opinions in the comments. 😀

Rating: 5-flowers

Quotable Moments: 

“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.”

“Vanity is a factor, but it is more a question of control. It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth.”

Book Review: Red Queen

17878931Author: Victoria Aveyard

Book Title: Red Queen

Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance, Dystopia

Type: Series (Book #1)

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

Publishing Date: February 10, 2015

Summary: Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood – those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own – an ability she didn’t know she had. Except … her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard – the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince – and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal. [summary from dust jacket]


My Thoughts: The Red Queen was such a familiar kind of story, which isn’t all that unusual in the dystopian kind of genre, but it also felt fresh despite the similarities to other novels. Mare Barrow, our leading lady who is more of a brash no-bullshit kind of chick who thinks everything is her fault, was a mash up of characters like Katniss from THG, Alina from the Grisha Trilogy, Kelsea from Queen of the Tearling, and Tris from Divergent. Like all of them she started out as nothing particularly special. Girls who were quite ordinary when we first met them and then in the blink of an eye they are catapulted into a fast-paced and dangerous roller coaster ride. They all share hidden things that make them uniquely special too.

Mare is a red blood, which basically equates to being the value of a cockroach, and under normal circumstances she would never usually garner any attention from anyone but being true to form, we know that this will be short lived. The people in this novel are divided by the color of their blood, which is a pretty cool idea and one that reminds me a lot of the Grisha series where regular folks are below the all-powerful Grisha. Here it is the same, there are the red bloods who are weak and dirt poor, and on the opposite side there are the silver bloods who are the elite class of people with a lineage straight from the gods. The similarity to Leigh Bardugo’s trilogy (which I reviewed here) is what first snagged my attention and another reviewer mentioned that she thought one of the Prince’s in this book reminded her of a young Darkling. *swoon* That series was so addictive that the mere mention of the Darkling had me itching to buy this book, so I did and I’m glad. The pacing of the plot was quick and held my interest all the way through. There was never a moment where I felt as though the author was just wasting time until the next exciting thing happened. All of the information presented in this first installment felt very critical to the overall world building and the books still yet to come and I think that Aveyard is a solid writer. Her characters are fleshed out enough to make you feel connected to them but they also have secrets that keep the reader wanting to know more.

I’ve already told you how I felt that this relates mostly to the Grisha trilogy so now let me tell you what things made me think of those other books I mentioned. First up, The Hunger Games. This world of Reds and Silvers is an odd place, much like the districts versus the capitol city. The rich capitol citizens live in the lap of luxury and they take such freedoms for granted. The character divide here is equally sickening seeing how the Reds can barely provide enough food for their families and most kids are sent off to the war (girls and boys alike) once they hit 18, but the Silvers never have to fear any of this. They have lavish dinners, clothing made of silk, and special abilities that make them deadly. Mare is a tough girl who has a best friend that just so happens to be a hot guy that has feelings for her, much like Gale loves Katniss. Things between them are awkward at times but their loyalty to one another is unwavering. There are two other guys in the picture as well that make for some good drama but luckily, for those of you who hate romance being thrown into the mix, this book isn’t focused on that angle too much. It is more about Mare, her ability, and the dangers she faces because of it, which brings me to Divergent. Having a secret ability is something that Tris is no stranger to, especially since people like her are hunted down and killed just for being that way. Mare is sort of in the same boat here, although some people know that she is a Red with an ability, most think she is a Silver, as they’re the only race of people who are known to be blessed with such gifts. If anyone were to discover her secret she could be killed and it would cause a major imbalance between the two races of people. Lastly, Kelsea, the Queen of the Tearling, is described as being very bland in appearance and she is unprepared to live the life that she is suddenly thrown into. Much like Alina from the Grisha books, all three of these girls are special but they lack the self confidence to really make a huge impact right away. Their personal development comes very slowly as they learn how to use their particular gifts and how to acclimate to the culture of people they’re now living amongst.

Overall, this novel was an exciting read throughout and I recommend it to anyone who also loves the books I’ve mentioned here. It may have been done before but the different spin Aveyard takes is what makes it worth checking out…plus I am a sucker for a pretty cover and this one definitely fits that bill. 😀

Rating: 5-flowers

Quotable Moments: “In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that. The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

Book Review: The Retribution of Mara Dyer

15768409Author: Michelle Hodkin

Book Title: The Retribution of Mara Dyer

Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Paranormal

Type: Series – Book #3

Format: Hardcover, 470 Pages

Publishing Date: November 4, 2014

Summary: Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told. There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead. She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance. She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story. Retribution has arrived. [summary from Goodreads]


My Thoughts: I was super excited for this book to come out, especially after the cliffhanger at the end of book two AND Michelle Hodkin making fans wait two years for this installment! Like the prior two books, this one was also a twisted ball of creepy chaos. Several scenes were absolutely brutal, leaving a hefty blood trail as the pages went on, and it was such a high adrenaline ride through a tunnel full of crazy nightmares. The story definitely had some flaws but I didn’t have any time to hone in on them as I devoured page after page, eager to know how the series would wrap up.

Obviously my favorite character is Mara, this being a series told from her perspective and all, so I’ll start with her. I think that my favorite thing about her is that she is so profoundly flawed and complex. She is a total badass. I loved her just as much as I hated her, with varying shades of gray in between. “The villain is the hero of her own story.” One of the things I noticed most about her in this final book is that she is completely unapologetic for who she is now. She no longer sees the darkness within her as a fault and she is sick of shying away from everything because of it. Mara is equal parts good and evil, a double edged sword, and she’s constantly battling herself, along with the rest of the world, and it is one of those rare stories where flaws are just as endearing as a persons attributes are. She has grown so much as a character over this series and it was nice to see her owning who she is and facing her fears head on, even if it is with a frightening lack of emotion.

Jamie was my other favorite character because he brought witty banter and unabashed honesty to the story. I also loved Noah, for obvious reasons if you’ve read (and enjoyed) the series, and although he didn’t have as large a part in this book, I didn’t really miss him as much as I thought I would. I felt as if this finale was grittier than the previous two books and it was exactly what I had hoped for, especially the brilliant little twist at the very end. Good job, Michelle.

Overall, without saying too much, I felt very satisfied with this final book and all of my main questions were answered. There wasn’t anything else that I needed from this series and I think that Hodkin produced a really solid trilogy here. Who would have thought that a super creepy story could be so light and funny at the same time? It truly was a perfect combination.

Rating:5-flowers

Quotable Moments:

“I looked behind me and scanned the room for a camera. Stella followed my gaze, then stopped and pointed at a tiny little reflective globe suspended from the ceiling, in the far right corner of the room. I stared at it for a moment, then raised my hand and gave it the finger. ‘I thought you were going to give it the District Twelve salute,’ Jamie said.”  

“The freaks shall inherit the earth.”

“This is a love story. Twisted and messy. Flawed and screwed up. But it’s ours. It’s us. I don’t know how our story will end, but I know how it will start. I pick up my pen and begin to write.”

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Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling

18712886Author: Erika Johansen

Book Title: The Queen of the Tearling

Genre: Adult Fiction – Fantasy

Type: Series – Book #1

Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages

Publishing Date: July 17, 2014

Summary: Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding…

And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea’s story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance – it’s about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive…” [summary from Goodreads]


My Thoughts: Usually I don’t look at other reviews prior to writing my own to prevent other opinions from interfering with mine but with this book I did. Well, kind of. I only skimmed through some on Goodreads to see what the general ratings were and it was pretty clear. People either loved it or they hated it, not much in between, and I happen to be one of those who loved it…well, the majority of it anyway.

I finished reading this a few days ago and I’ve been sitting here trying to put my thoughts into a coherent post but for some reason it’s been challenging to do so. When I began reading the book I was extremely frustrated because it felt like there was so much that the author wasn’t sharing with me, as the reader, but also with the main character, Kelsea. I wanted to pull my hair out every time Kelsea asked a question and got a cryptic answer in return by everyone around her. Not one person would give her any information about the life that she was about to enter into and it really pissed me off, it pissed her off too, which made me like her even more. However, it began to feel as if the novel wasn’t going anywhere but then I realized the brilliance of this tactic. Well, maybe not brilliance but it was definitely something the writer must have done on purpose to keep the reader hopeful enough that answers would come with every turned page. By writing it this way, we get to empathize with Kelsea’s frustrations and discover every new detail at the same time she does, which is kind of a cool way to tell a story. The waiting that I originally found frustrating became gratifying as those unanswered questions became clear and the plot developed. Kelsea developed too and that pleased me even more. Hopefully this won’t push anyone away from reading this book because it really was great and even though the answers didn’t come as quickly as I hoped, the action involved during those few chapters made up for it. I kept turning page after page, obviously hooked and desperate to know what Kelsea would encounter next.

Three characters stood out to me the most: Kelsea, was brazen and bold in her actions and I felt a strong sense of girl power while getting to know her. However, she was also insecure underneath that tough girl exterior. Constantly questioning her choices and putting herself down, referring to her appearance as ugly, overweight, and not having the right look to be a queen. While I could relate to her, it bothered me a bit too because it was like saying that someone who isn’t beautiful to the masses is unfit to be in a place of power. I felt as though the focus on her appearance was nonessential and could’ve been removed but at the same time it did make me see her as a human being, flawed as we all are. A 19 year old girl just trying to fit into societies demands for perfection. It’s a mixed bag for me on this one so I’ll move on. The Fetch is a mysterious bad ass who swoops in whenever it suits his agenda and leaves you unsure whether you want to smack him or kiss him as a form of thank you and The Mace, also known as Lazarus and is one of Kelsea’s guards, is a pretty tight lipped man and I wanted to strangle him a bunch of times but I still found him to be awesome. I was reminded of Gimli from Lord of the Rings a bit with his rugged nature, bravado, and fighting skills, completely suspecting that there is a softer guy beneath those external layers.

This book was a great way to end the summer (as if that is even possible down here in blistering heat of Florida) and I’m really excited to find out more about them all in the next book. I’m also really looking forward to seeing who will play them in the upcoming film adaptation starring my favorite witch, Emma Watson! 😀

[NOTE: Many people think that this is a YA book but it isn’t and it has a lot of visual scenes as well as foul language that some may not be comfortable with. I did not find it any more violent than that of The Hunger Games trilogy though, which was for a younger audience so it really is at the discretion of the reader how this book will be received.]

Rating:5-flowers

Quotable Moments: “Those who cease to worry about their souls often find them difficult to reclaim later”

“Stories moved Kelsea most, stories of things that never were, stories that transported her beyond the changeless world of the cottage.”

Book Review: Why We Broke Up

10798418Author: Daniel Handler

Art: Maira Kalman

Book Title: Why We Broke Up

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Type: Stand Alone

Format: Hardcover, 354 Pages

Publishing Date: December 27, 2011

Summary: I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped. [summary from Goodreads]

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My Thoughts: I know I am really late in reading this book, especially considering that it came out three years ago, but this is what happens when us bookish people have an ever growing TBR list right? Anyway, I was initially drawn to the book by the coffee cup, I’m a coffee lover, and the premise sounded interesting too so I gave it a shot. Writing a letter to an ex boyfriend and delivering all of the mementos from your relationship to them after a breakup sounds like something any of us would like to do. Kind of like a chance to let him go – it’s a cathartic thing much the same as crying it out can be. However, while we can appreciate Min’s decision to do this, most of us would never go through with it because our pride after a break up, especially after being the dumpee, is already bruised to shit, so I’d imagine we’d just wallow and obsess over our box of trinkets until the tears dry up and we can’t feel it anymore. Luckily this is fiction and we have the chance to live vicariously through the relationship of Min and Ed as she writes him the letter of why she believes they broke up.

Pros:

  • The art was really charming. I enjoyed getting to see a new picture every few pages, especially since they tied into the memories Min was recalling AND they helped to move the story along at a faster pace. That aspect alone bumped up the rating for me because it was an attempt at making the story personal for the reader.
  • The characters weren’t the best but I did like some things about them:
    • Min was intriguing. She was smart but also a typical representation of a high school girl with her first love, fully susceptible to the charms of a cute boy. I liked her innocence and inexperience with boys, it showed how young she really was and how at that age everything is larger than life. I also enjoyed that she wanted to become a film director and her passion for films was crystal clear, clearer than most of the storyline actually. Not to spoil anything but I wish she had been given the chance to bloom into a more confident person, she deserved that.
    • Al, Min’s best friend, was the guy I wanted her to be with. From the beginning he had my attention with his refusal to give his opinion on anything, his cooking skills, and how he was there for Min even when she didn’t deserve it.
    • Joan, Ed’s older sister, started off as being really awesome. Her first appearance had her dancing in the kitchen with a wooden spoon as a mic and the next time we saw her she was sharing a tin of homemade biscotti with Min at a basketball game.
  • The concept of writing a breakup letter to your ex was a great idea and pairing it with a box of trinkets from their relationship was an added bonus. The things that we keep when we’re in love to remind us of every second we are with that person are so interesting.

Cons:

  • It was a heavy book, just not in the way you’d hope for given the title. I anticipated having more of an emotional connection with Min, or any of the characters, but I just didn’t.
  • The characters weren’t fully fleshed out and kind of felt a bit bland.
    • Min had the most potential as the narrator but there was still a disconnect there. She needed more gusto for the other things besides films. Traveling through her eyes was like watching a black and white movie, which can be enjoyable, but in this case I was hoping it would turn to color like the Wizard of Oz did when Dorothy got to munchkin land. This novel tried to get to pastel a few times but mostly it just remained black and white.
    • I wanted to see more of Al. Find out what his opinions were the whole time, almost in a split narrative. Find out what him and the other friends were doing while Min was off with Ed.
    • While I liked Joan in my pros list, her behavior became really confusing toward the second half of the book and I never truly understood why she behaved like she did. It left me cold toward her.
    • Ed, the ex boyfriend who is a basketball player that has dated the entire female population of their high school and those girls are catty as hell. His loose lips calling everything “gay” and saying “no offense” when he is actually offending you were fine at first but then it got to be overkill. I also hated how he would always say that Min was different as if that explained anything about her. It always sounded like a negative thing, even though he was assuring her it wasn’t.
  • The narrative was often confusing and the ending wasn’t great. I could not believe that I spent 354 pages in a like/hate relationship with this book and then I’m just left feeling blah at the end.
  • Considering it is meant to be a breakup LETTER, it was way too long. I was reminded of this scene from Friends (which always makes me laugh so maybe that should go in the pros?)

So, there you have it. My jumbled thoughts of this book that I wanted to love but just couldn’t fully get there. The rating was mixed throughout, lowest in the beginning and higher in the second half. Did any of you read this novel? If so, what were your thoughts?

Rating: 3-flowers

Quotable Moments: “There was always a girl on you in the halls at school, like they came free with a backpack.”