Friday, May 27, 2016

The Dark Rose

Within The Dark Rose are two main characters, Louisa and Paul, both with dark pasts that have brought them to work at the sight of Kelstice Lodge to help restore the grounds to their former glory. Along with revealing what happens at the Lodge between these two people, Erin Kelly also weaves in the stories of their pasts where both have come far closer to death than either would have liked.

Kelly does an excellent job of winding three different stories together in a way that does not distract from any of the plots, avoiding the problem of the reader wanting to get back to a certain thread when the others are being given. With each chapter I was just as thrilled to read whatever new bit Kelly was going to give me, no matter which part of the story it was about. Slowly, Kelly unravels two stories that come together in  multiple ways before the end and had me sitting on the edge of my seat as every event unfolded. And wow, I was not prepared for the ending at all! The epilogue was just icing on the surprise cake!

If you've seen any of my other reviews you may know I am not one for mystery, and yet here I am again stepping out of my comfort zone and loving it! This is one of the darker novels I have read, with the exception of Sleeping in Eden earlier this year. And just like that novel, I was a bit shaken by this book, given a few ideas for a darker story of my own, and intrigued enough to look for more by this author!

I definitely recommend everyone pick this books up ad get pulled into these character's lives as well as the excellent writing style of Erin Kelly. And if you have read her work before and have recommendations for me on her other books or perhaps more in the genre, please leave a comment! I will be giving more books like this one a chance in the future.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Black: The Birth of Evil

Oh guys, I really hate to say this, but this was not a good read. Let me explain a little further, you may still want to give this one a chance, especially if you prefer graphic novels.

Ted Dekker is an amazing writer. My husbands loves his work, I have many of his books, and I always look forward to them. In fact, I have the book Green which is book zero in the Circle Series, I just haven't had the chance to read it yet. So imagine how thrilled I was to find a graphic novel version of his circle series, sans Green though.

However, despite being a great storyteller, Dekker does not translate to graphic novel so well. I don't know, this is just my personal opinion and without the comparison of the books this series imitates, so take all this with a grain of salt.

The Circle Series follows one Thomas Hunter who falls asleep after a gunshot grazes his head and finds himself in another world, where he is just waking up. What follows is a crazy switch between two worlds, the second o which could be the future of this one if a giant talking white bat is to be believed. Thomas then continues to bounce back and forth between the two worlds to save one and live in the other (complete with learning to fight and wooing a woman). The back and forth is just too much for this format. I think it was missing a little too much in the narrative, something that you have to be careful with when writing a graphic novel. Because of this, I find some of the conversations and events to be a bit ridiculous. And it actually took me 2 days to finish this one.

That being said I sat down at my computer fully prepared to tell you that not only did I not enjoy this, I had no plans to pick up the next two installments. But, no, you know what, I think I will. After all, they are simply graphic novels, short and easy to read. Dekker took the time and believed that it was worth moving his story to this format, I can give him a little bit of my time to finish the series, see if it gets better. And even if I don't like these I will also be picking up the novels, because I already told myself I was going to read them, and I believe this concept will be great as told by this writer.

So I won't tell you not to read these, I just won't push it on you like I have other books. And check back in a day or two for the reviews of the next two books. I'll attach them to this one for convenience.

Edit: I finished the series and posted my review of Red and White.

Monday, May 23, 2016


This is Cath's story. Well, actually Carry On, Simon is Cath's story, her fanfiction story that she wrote about her favorite book character and his sub-textual love for the guy the original author painted as the bad guy. Because in Fanfiction anything goes, any ship is welcome, and the story never ends. Cath firmly believes all of this. And it's ok, because in that world she knows her characters, she knows the way they really feel (about each other), and she knows what comes next. And thousands of fans think she is an amazing writer, so that's got to count for something, right?
But now Cath is starting college and her twin sister doesn't want to room with her, and her actual roommate is kind of like a force of nature, and her roommate's boyfriend(?) smiles way too much, her father is really having trouble coping with being alone in the house, and her fiction writing professor does not approve of faniction. Could anything else go wrong? At least she has Simon and Baz.

This book was everything. For me at least. While reading, I stopped and told me husband that I was so glad that I didn't find fanfiction until recently because I would have been Cath, locked in the world someone else had created. Although, if I admit it out loud I was already like that, even without fanfiction, and even now I tend to get too far caught up in stories for my own good. But more than that, I could relate to Cath's anxiety, her fear of change, her shut down mode to avoid it all. I saw so much of myself in Cath while reading this book, maybe that's what had me reading in in just two days and getting downright giddy over every good thing that happened to Cath.

Of course it could also be because Rainbow Rowell is an incredible writer. Her characters are amazing. They are stunning in all their little imperfections and it's those flaws that make you love them and want to hold them close. The fact that her main character is a hot mess is wonderful. Rainbow is letting the reader know that it is perfectly fine to be a little crazy, a little obsessive. Just come out of your shell every once in a while.
And her humor! So many times I found myself laughing out loud, having to close the book to let it out for a long minute. And once I was forced to put the book down completely to wipe away the tears from laughing so hard and walk away to gather myself to keep reading. She really had just stunning dialogue throughout the whole thing!

And, yes, the subject matter was a big draw for the book. Fanfiction is such a big movement and it is also the most frowned upon literary genre out there. And yes, it's a genre. When thousands of people write it, when people have to update servers to support it, when so many people read and follow stories, when books get published (shhh, I know, but it supports my point), it is more than a hobby, it's a movement. I read fanfiction, I have read some astonishing works by incredible writers that would put some books I've read to shame. I even write it. But it's not something we bring up in polite conversation because so many people look down on it. Rainbow brings it to the forefront and says "Here, it's a thing, it changes lives, and it's actually ok." And I applaud her so much for that. For writing a book with a character people can relate to and feel better about something others may put them down for.  And that's awesome.

This book was so many kinds of amazing. You need to read it. I don't care if you like fanfiction or not, you'll fall in love with Cath anyway. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go track down every other book by Rainbow I can get my hands on. Right after I update my fanfic!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Serenity: Those Left Behind

Well, I found this little surprise at our local library and of course had to pick it up. As a huge fan of the show (and Fillion and Whedon in general) I was happy to have yet another reason to return to the story. After all, I just rewatched the show and movie a couple weeks back and was starting to feel the familiar ache of loss.

So here we have a short graphic novel looking into that time between the ending of the show and the start of the movie. In classic Whedon fashion it helps explain why Inara and Shepard Book are not on the ship at the start of Serenity without having to explain anything at all!

The story was too short, much like an episode of Firefly, but also like the show it is filled with sharp witty comments and near death moments. Although, I feel obliged to point out that a comic does not have the same punch as a show, this comes close with a few surprises and new escapes.

And bonus, there is a letter from Nathan Fillion to start off the story recounting his love of comics and superheros that led him to eagerly sign up for the role of Malcolm Reynolds.

So if you like the show, find this little bit more and get some more story on Mal and the crew. I will be looking forward to finding the others in the series to continue this story line and get my fix!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Thirteen Reasons Why

May - Books with numbers in the title.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a unique book. The majority of the book is told from one boy's point of view, Clay Jensen as he listens to a series of cassette tapes that were sent to him in the mail. What is he listening to: Hannah Baker's story of her thirteen reasons why she killed herself.

I found this book in a Half Price Books last year after the Texas Teen Book Festival, but I didn't have the money to get it at the time so I made a point of taking down the title and author so that I could get it as soon as possible. Then my sister said she was listening to the audio book for this month's book club read and I thought that would be perfect, it gave me the chance to talk to someone else who had read the book. So I bought my copy and waited anxiously for it to get to me in the mail. And read it in one day.

This book hits close to home for me. There was a point in my life when I thought that suicide might be the answer to my problems. Lucky for me I am kind of a wuss and couldn't go through with it. It doesn't keep me from stopping every so often to think about it, from considering what it would take and what it would affect. I am also lucky enough to have a best friend who had also been at that point in her life and knew how to talk me down. I now have more people to turn to, including that first friend. But to this day I can still name the people and events that led to that first real consideration. Much like Hannah picked out her list of reasons, I could still do it thirteen years after I was in that same place. Wow, thirteen years ago. Is that serendipity? Ok, this got pretty heavy for a book review.

So, this book. It was incredible, I really think so. There were a few times when maybe I wasn't thrilled with a sentence, or maybe something seemed just slightly less than amazingly written. But those times were very few, far between, and not worth note. What is important was how well Jay Asher brings to life this story. Not only does he give the reader this unique format of having parts of the chapters told from a cassette tape, but he does a wonderful story of interjecting Clay's world into it. Not just his thoughts about what is being said, but what he is does as he listens to the tapes, as if the reader is also hearing Hannah in the background as Clay lives. What's better, you can hear parts of the cassette tapes on YouTube, as posted by a "friend".

And as Clay listens to the tapes, as he anxiously waits at the start of each new story to find out if this one is for him, I waited anxiously. I am pretty sure that I felt every thing that Clay felt, including the heartbreak for his story and the start and stop of tears as he listened. Asher does an amazing job of turning the reader into Clay. Part of me really hates that I read the book instead of listening to it on tape because I hear the way it alternates between narrators is fantastic. I'll ask my sister's opinion on that matter when she gets done with listening to it. Maybe I'll listen to it some time in the future.

Which leads me to what I plan on doing with this book. I am going to put it on my shelf. I am going to loan it out to anyone that even looks in its general direction. I am going to hold on to it until my son is getting ready to start high school and I am going to make him read it before he starts. I will do the same for my daughter (who I am really worried has the potential to be a bully) and have a good long talk when she is done with it. Because I think everyone needs to read it. No one ever realizes the impact their little thoughtless acts have on others. People don't think about the possibility that others are fighting their own battles and that one wrong push can really tip their scales. I need at least my children to think before they act. This is a lesson this book paints so vividly as it tells stories that may seem so simple and innocuous individually but add up to be just too much for Hannah. So I will pass this book on. Frequently.

If you have your own take on this book, on this story, let me know. Or check out ThirteenReasonsWhy to share you story or see others.

I also want to leave you with a few things. Like the number for a hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE. A website: . An organization: To Write Love On Her Arms. A campaign: The Semicolon Project. Even a name: Jared Padelecki. Please, if you think that you are at a place in your life where nothing else can help, try just once more. And remember, you can always reach out to me, through a comment of email. And always keep in mind that others may be struggling, so try to always be kind to each other.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Supernatural: John Winchester's Journal

I was looking for a book to read as I wait for my order from Barnes and Noble, something light that I could finish in a day maybe, that would help me clear my palate so to speak before picking up my next book club read. Well, I had been putting this one off for a while now since I am not a big fan of John Winchester, but it did the trick, got me thinking about Supernatural which I think about all the time anyway, and I was done in a day and can move on to the next book tomorrow. After I watch this week's episode of Supernatural that is.

So, if you are unfamiliar with the show, as you live under a rock, let me give you the highlights: John Winchester was just your average father of two boys, Dean (4) and Sam (6 months), loving husband of Mary, and a small town mechanic. Until November 2nd, 1983 when John stepped into his youngest son's nursery to find his wife pinned to the ceiling and catching fire. After getting his sons out of the house and discovering that he was not crazy, he had seen something unexplained, John became what is known as a hunter. This book follows John over the course of the next twenty-two years as he tries to find out what killed his wife, raise two boys, and kill the monsters that go bump in the night. The journal ends right as episode one of the show begins.

This book did a great job of reminding why I don't particularly like John Winchester. And it does that by being well written with the approval of the show's creator, meaning that fans get to see a little more of what happened in those absent years, learn a little more about the man that taught the two greatest hunters in North America, and even find out some more about the monsters the show is prided on bringing to life.

If you choose to read this one keep in mind that it is a journal, written by a man that never talked about his feelings and was slowly working his way further into the world of the supernatural to find out what killed his wife so that he could finally avenge it. That all means that the narrative is disjointed, the time line is full of gaps, and increasingly the story if more focused on the information gathered on monsters than thoughts or reflections of the boys John is raising to be soldiers. There are four dates every year John consistently marks: Dean's birthdays, Sam's birthdays, John and Mary's wedding anniversary, and the date of Mary's death. And with each year that passes the notes about the first two get smaller while the pain of the last two never diminishes. This book did an excellent job of showing the slow progression from the smiling, proud father to the obsessed, hardened hunter. It does an excellent job at complementing the series.

I recommend all fans of the show give this book a read, as it helps pull a little more from the backstory to explain a bit more about why the boys are the way they are, why they were so driven to find the demon that killed their mother, even Sam who had tried to take a step back from the hunting life. Just keep in mind, maybe John Winchester was not the best dad.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Three Good Things

May - Books with numbers in the title.

I loved the premise behind this book, the story of two sisters, one a recent divorcee with a bake shop that's just trying to figure out life after her husband, and the other a successful lawyer and new mom trying to figure out how to balance her life. Loosing their mother at just sixteen and six, they have only her imparted words of wisdom to help them these years later: "At the end of every day, find three good things about it."

I think the fact that I rarely pick up mainstream books has effected me. While I greatly enjoyed this book, loved the story and the writing style, even found myself talking aloud at the characters near the end, I felt the book was a little watered down. I believe this to be a side affect of far too many life and death harrowing storylines in my recent read list. Something so simple almost fell flat for me. That is not to say that I didn't love the book, that I don't recommend it, on the contrary, I suggest everyone, especially women, pick this book up. Join the McClarety sisters on their path to trying to discover themselves in their own little ways at a time when most people expect to have all their shit together. This book is wonderful, so much like life with moments of joy, confusion, pain, misunderstandings, awkward moments, The characters are so adorable in their little Wisconsin town where the worst that can happen is a little too much snow to make someone late for work. Well, at least on the surface, because under that is two women who are a little too scared of making the wrong move and having everything they want in life slip through their fingers. And what's a little pastry without a side of drama?

This was a really enjoyable read and I look forward to holding on to it to recommend for all my friends that ask me for a good book and they don't want anything too heavy. And if you read the book and try the recipe for kringle, something I am really considering, let me know how it turns out!

Friday, May 6, 2016


I'll be completely honest with you on how I picked this book to read. My husband was rushing me out of the library, I wanted a new book to get me through the end of April until I could pick up my book club read for May, and I reached over and grabbed the first book at hand. I had already read the jacket, so I had a vague idea of what the book would be about, but I was unsure if it was really something I wanted to read. Wow am I glad that I took the chance.

Panic is the story of a game played in a small town by recent high school graduates. During the school year everyone in the high school gives up a dollar for every school day. At the end the money is divided between two secret judges, and a winning pot. Then seniors decide if they are going to compete or not by jumping off a rock wall into a lake. The game thus begins. Over the course of the summer that follows the contestants are put through more and more insane challenges to determine who is brave (crazy) enough to make it out the other end and claim the money. This year the story follows two contestants, Heather, who had not intended to compete at all, and Dodge, who  had been planing on joining the game for two years.

This book was a roller coaster from beginning to end as I followed the story of these brash, crazy new adults as they fought to not only win the game but get their lives under control. Lauren Oliver does an incredible job of bringing each challenge to life, making each character something special, and making sure the reader is too immersed to do anything but keep turning pages. I found myself not only eagerly pushing on to the next chapter, but also recounting the challenges and outcomes to my friends, who at the age of 30 were calling these kids insane for what they did. But we were all interested to see how it would end with bated breath.

If you like The Hunger Games I am sure you will love this story about these kids trying tot fight for a way to improve their lives and willingly risking their lives to do it. However, this is a much tamer version as everyone else isn't watching, but those that know about Panic are actually trying to stop these kids from continuing. But sometimes, the reward is just too good.

EDIT :: So give this book a shot! If you want to take a look at the world of Panic, this is where you can find the Origin of Panic. It is in two parts, each only six pages long, but it is a teaser to see what kind of insanity is behind the game these kids play, and how it started. Check it out!