Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Alyssa Gardner is a decedent of Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Lewis Carroll to write Alice in Wonderland, and all the women of her family have been cursed since Alice came back out of the rabbit hole. Alyssa is scared to succumb to the same crazy that has kept her mother living in an asylum for years, ever since she attacked Alyssa with a pair of pruning sheers.  Alyssa has reason to be scared, she can hear bugs and flowers talk, but she has kept this a secret from her father, and her best friend/secret crush Jeb.

Then, Alyssa's mother's health takes a turn for the worse and Alyssa decides that she is going to enter Wonderland, break the family curse, and save her mother.  But, once she's there, Alice isn't sure who to trust, and finds herself torn between two worlds.  Nothing in Wonderland apparently is as it's described in the books.

Howard's Wonderland is creepy, deadly, and beautifully described.  Alyssa is a likable character, torn between the mortal world she is known, and a desire to connect with the ethereal Wonderland.  Some of the creatures described in this book are outright gruesome, but there is always an underlying beauty about all of it, even the most horrific descriptions.  There is a touch of romance to this book, and its pretty heated for not being explicit.  I liked that this was a fantasy book, but that the character wasn't your normal fantasy heroine.  Alyssa is a sporty artist who loved to skateboard.

I really enjoyed this book, and kept reading the character descriptions out loud to my fiance.  I'm excited to get this book in at the library so I can start sharing it with the patrons.

I was allowed to borrow an ARC e-book of this title through netgalley.  I received no compensation, nor fun book related swag for my review.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton) by Leila Rasheed

Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averly treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend-to the rest of the staff at Somerton Court she is the indulged favorite of the housekeeper, her mother. Especially now that she has risen to ladies' maid at barely sixteen. Rose knows she should be grateful to even have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can't help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady like Ada. If she even had a father.

Ada never believed that one encounter could so completely alter a young lady's heart. That was before her voyage to England. For the first time in a decade, the Averlys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada's beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family's honor.  Only she has the power to restore the Averly name-by marrying a man more than twice her age. And ever since her voyage across the sea, she's loved someone else...someone she could never persuade her father to accept. 

I made it about a third of the way through this book, and I enjoyed the story well enough, but I came across the same problem I had with the Gossip Girl series, too many characters, not enough development, and not enough interest to keep going.  For awhile I pretended that the maid Rose was actually Moira from American Horror Story: Murder House, and that helped.  But, eventually I started reading again and they mentioned a character that I'd already been introduced to and I thought "who in the world is that???", didn't care to go back and find out, and promptly gave up reading.  I don't think the book was bad, I just lost interest.

This review is based on an e-ARC I was allowed to read.  I received no compensation or free swag for my review.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Sin-Eater's Confession by Ilsa J. Bick

I was very excited to be approved for this ARC.  I mean look at the cover of this book!  It's awesome, and that alone made me want to read it.  Then there's the description:

People in Merit, Wisconsin, always said Jimmy was . . . you know. But people said all sorts of stupid stuff. Nobody really knew anything. Nobody really knew Jimmy.
I guess you could say I knew Jimmy as well as anyone (which was not very well). I knew what scared him. And I knew he had dreams—even if I didn't understand them. Even if he nearly ruined my life to pursue them.
Jimmy's dead now, and I definitely know that better than anyone. I know about blood and bone and how bodies decompose. I know about shadows and stones and hatchets. I know what a last cry for help sounds like. I know what blood looks like on my own hands.

What I don't know is if I can trust my own eyes. I don't know who threw the stone. Who swung the hatchet? Who are the shadows? What do the living owe the dead?

Seriously, this book sounded amazing.  Then I started reading.  I know that this book is about a gay character, but honestly, this character was described as so over the top blindingly stereo-typically GAY! that I just could not deal with it.  Plus, the main character's voice was just meh.  The setting kind of threw me off, because it reads almost like a historical novel, but not quiet.  I honestly didn't make it very far through this book before my mind wandered and I just started thinking that I didn't care what had happened to any of the characters.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

At the Irving School (a boarding school in New York) it is tradition that the parting seniors leave a treasure behind for the next person to inherit their room.  Duncan arrives on his first day of his senior year concerned with two things, what his treasure will be, and what is he going to do about the Tragedy Paper that each senior must write. Duncan inherits Tim Macbeth's room, and the treasure left behind will influence Duncan's paper in ways he never thought.

It's hard and also simple to describe what this book is really about.  It's a boarding school/mystery/coming of age type novel, but it's in many ways more complex than that.  The story is pretty straight forward, even though the description on Amazon focuses on Tim's story (which we learn about while Duncan listens through the Cd's Tim has left him), it isn't just about Tim.  It's about Duncan, and also how Duncan and Tim's interactions influence them both.

There is a mystery with this book.  We learn early on that Tim's Cd's will help Duncan out with his Tragedy Paper, but we don't know until the end exactly what the tragedy is.  Tim himself is a tragic character, an albino who by chance shares a flight with a fellow classmate, whom he promptly develops a crush on, only to find out she is currently dating the most popular buy in school even though she also seems to be into Tim.  Tim's voice is distinct, and not as self pitying as he could come across.  Some of the relationships in the book are a little superficial (especially Duncan's relationship with his girlfriend Daisy), but the characters are relatable.  After while, I had a hard time putting this book down, and I could not wait to get to the end to find out what happened.

This review is based on an e-ARC I obtained through Netgalley.  I earned no awesome free swag for reviewing this book.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Frozen by Mary Casanova

Sadie Rose has been cared for by the senator and his wife for 11 years, ever since she was found almost frozen to death in a snowbank near her dead mother.  For these 11 years Sadie Rose's voice remained frozen, until she finds hidden pictures of her mother and decides to start piecing together the mystery of her mother's death, and Sadie's place in this world.

This novel is set on the border between Minnesota and Canada during the 1920's.  Sadie is looking for a place to belong, for the family she feels she never had (the family she lives with has chosen never to adopt her).  She is also starting to learn to form her own opinion, especially about the development of the area she lives in and the logging industry.

Sadie Rose is a likable character, and her desire to belong and to be part of a family are ones that almost any reader can relate to.  The setting in this novel is a bit muddled, since I don't know the area, and it appears to be a large grouping of islands that the book takes place on, I wasn't able to really understand the setting.

I read this book quickly, but in the end I just thought it was OK.  I generally really enjoy historical fiction, and the 1920's are a time I enjoy reading about, but I just never found myself overly invested in the characters or the story.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

This review is based an ARC e-book I received from Netgalley

I was very excited to see What We Saw at Night as one of the books that I could request from Netgalley.  I'd read a review of it and the premise seemed really interesting  The story is about three teens in MN who have XP, a severe allergy to sunlight.  These teens live their whole lives in the darkness of night.   As a trio the teens (Allie, Rob, and Juliet) take up parkour and it is during one of their parkour adventures that they see the dead girl.  This event triggers a shift in the trio's entire world.

What We Saw at Night tries to be too many things. Allie is falling in love for the first time, Juliet wants to escape her small world, and Rob seems to be there just to be pretty.  Some characters are introduced and then dropped, and apparently everyone is so sympathetic to these teens and their XP that they are allowed to do virtually anything they want.  The mystery of the dead girl, and of a possible serial killer in a small town kept me reading through the uneveness of the rest of the book, but I was left unfulfilled by the book's cliffhanger ending.  The preview for the next book in the series (trilogy?) continues the author's self indulgence in Allie's perceived downward spiral, and I am not sure I can make myself read more of that.

I am still considering getting this for the library. The premise is very interesting, and I may be being overly critical.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Love My Slow Cooker (US Edition) - a review

For my birthday my awesome fiance bought me a Kindle!  So, one of the first things I did was sign up for Netgalley and start working on reading some awesome e-books.  I requested, and was approved for, I Love My Slow Cooker: More than 100 Recipes for Delicious Meals for the Whole Family (US Edition).  This was the first cook book I looked at on my Kindle and I was excited.  I've just started using my slow-cooker, and honesty that thing is awesome!  I can put stuff in before I go to work, and when I get home later I have food already made!  Yay!

I decided I wanted to use the slow cooker this week, and figured that would be a good chance to use this Netgalley book to its full potential.  So, I opened the book and started looking for something to make.  The layout of the book was fine, and I was able to find the part with meat based recipes easily, the only problem was that none of the recipes looked like something I would eat.  Most of them would start out OK, but then they would add something like apricots to a dish with olives.  They just did not sound appetizing at all.  I ended deleting the book off the Kindle and not making anything from it.  I was sadly disappointed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Days of Halloween 2012 pt. 2

Welcome back to the 31 Days of Halloween!!!  It's been a bit since I updated what we've been watching, but here I am.  Also, I am thinking I might attempt a video review for some of the next set of movies/TV shows/ and the concert we went to.

Ok, so here goes at least one chunk of Halloween reviewing.

Quantum Leap Season 3 Halloween episode.  Aka "the Stephen King episode."  Not scary, just fun.  I love Quantum Leap, and I remember watching this episode with my dad and him laughing about it.

Cabin in the Woods (2011) - This movie was way better than I expected it to be.  Yes, it is a slasher movie, but it is also done by Joss Whedon (he of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly fame).  His normal sense of humor is in the movie, and there is a TON of gore.  We really enjoyed this film.

The Descent - This is a movie that I have been scared to watch for a few years.  I am terribly claustrophobic underground or underwater, so I figured this movie would scare me to death.  Honestly, it was not anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be.  It was gruesome, but not over the top.  The character interaction was pretty interesting.  Again, an enjoyable horror movie.

Zodiac - Now this is more of a drama than a horror movie.  But, it's a good movie, and it is about a serial killer, so it qualifies for this month.  I've seen this before, but it was worth a second viewing.  The Zodiac case is creepy, and the cinematography on this movie is awesome.

The Ward - This movie was advertised by Netflix as a John Carpenter movie.  Supposedly he directed it.  I think he wrote some music for it (at least that sounded like his kind of music), but other than that it didn't really feel like a Carpenter movie.  This is about a girl named Kristen who ends up in a psych ward with other young women and these women are slowly being killed off by the ghost of a former patient.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the best movie ever.

Along with these we've been watching Supernatural.  We are onto season 4 which includes the introduction of Castiel the socially awkward angel!

That's it for now.  I still have a lot of catching up to do with what we've watched.  This has been a fun year so far though.  I am trying some new movies that I wasn't brave enough to watch before, and I am really in the Halloween spirit!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

31 Days of Halloween 2012! Day 3

It's October!!!  Yay!!  So that means it's back to the 31 Days of Halloween, where my fiance and I watch one horror movie or TV show, or Halloween themed movie or tv show every night for the whole month!  I think we are starting a tradition of kicking off the month with the remake of Night of the Living Dead.  It was one of my fiance's favorites from when he was a kid, and it's a zombie movie that does not scare the living hell out of me so it's a win-win situation.

Last night we watched Dolly Dearest, a wanna be knock off of Child's Play starring Star Trek TNG's Tasha Yar & and the kid who played the main character's dead brother in Sometime's They Come Back.  Oh yeah, it also has Rip Torn in it.  This movie is about a cult whose goat headed demon child "god" was entombed, then tomb was disturbed, and now this goat demon is taking over dolls made at a local factory and using them to possess a young girl.  It was pretty boring, and honestly, that's about all there is to say about that movie.

So, we have to decide what to watch tonight.  Apparently I get to pick, so we'll see what I come up with!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shine by Lauren Myracle

16 year old Cat has set out to find out what happened to her former best friend Patrick.  Patrick was attacked one night and brutally beaten.  Most people in town are sympathetic, but none too quick to actually look for the culprit because Patrick is gay, and many in his and Cat's Southern home don't look too kindly on that "lifestyle".  Cat has to take on the entire town, and search through secrets she might not want to know, all in hopes of finding justice for her friend.

The setting in this book is amazingly well done.  The only problem I had is that originally I thought it was a historical fiction novel, but then as I read I realized it was set in present day.  The decay of Cat's small town is portrayed straight forward, but also very touchingly.

The mystery of who attacked Patrick isn't too hard to figure out.  And it is kind of painful to go through Cat dealing with her own issues of a sexual assault that happened to her years ago.  The fact that she starts to open up, and realize that while many of the people around her aren't perfect, they are still good and worth working to keep in her life, is something that I liked.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and found it hard to put down.  Also, I have to say that the cover is just amazingly beautiful.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Can someone just explain to me, why?

I am looking through the Feb 20 Publisher's Weekly which includes the very long list of Children's Books for Spring.  This breaks down books from tons of publishers, gives a little blurb, and the ISBN number.  While going through this list I've released that there are just some things in the publishing industry that make me ask, wtf??

1.  Severely outdated covers on BRAND NEW books.  Yes, I am looking at you The Not Quite Perfect Boyfriend.  Although you are not the only one that is guilty of this, but honestly, admit to are stuck in the late 80's.  I would never buy this book to put in my Teen collection.  NEVER.  My teens would laugh at this book, and think my obsession with the 80's has gone way too far.

2.  Books with generic names.  Dead Reckoning is the name of a book due out this summer from Mercedes Lackey.  It is also the name of about a dozen other books by various authors.  No, not every book can be The Hunger Games, or Shattering Glass, or any book with a catchy name, and honestly some unusual names are just too weird.  But some of these names are so generic, and so lame, that I just get confused and then don't care one way or another about the book.

3.  Angels, nuff said.

4.  Books where the cover picture looks like it was taken with a cell phone in a room with only one tiny light bulb lighting the way.  Now I love dark images, and shadowy-ness, and brown.  But, some covers are just too murky and dark for me.
In Too Deep is one of those covers.  I almost, ALMOST, love it, but there is just to much darkness going on, and it makes everything seem blob-like.  Plus, it does look a bit dated.  Now, in person, this cover might look awesome.  But, my monitor isn't that amazing, so I can't tell if it would still look flat, blobby, and murky in person or not.

5.  Using the same stock pictures on multiple book covers and not giving a rat's ass that it is obviously the same.damn.picture!  Oh look, someone decided that the same picture of John Winchester was so awesome that it needed to be used twice!  I mean it isn't obvious or anything.  Taking off the raven, and putting in a blue background totally changed the entire picture....yeah not so much.

There are more things that drive me nuts.  Like teen books where the cover model looks older than Nancy Drew of either of the Wakefield twins ever looked.  Books where the cover model looks constipated, or where it looks like the cover is just made up of random clip art.

Lord help me, I am only to the N publishers in this magazine.  Who knows what I might come across in the second half of the alphabet.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wedding dresses

Today I am going to try on wedding dresses for the first time.  The wedding isn't for a year and a half, but I figure I might as well start with something I can kind of understand.  Plus, I am 5'2" and let's just say curvy, so finding a dress is going to be a challenge.

This is something girls are supposed to like right?  So why am I nervous as all hell?  I'm kind of scared that the people in the store are going to tell me I don't belong there, and that I am just going to end up looking like a big white marshmallow puff.  Hoping I'll get some decent pictures, and get a better idea of what I am looking for in a dress by the end of the day.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Doctor Who

It's Friday....which means that yesterday was Thursday.  And Thursday at our house means two things:  brinner and Doctor Who.  Now I am not sure when this tradition got started, and I have no idea what we are going to do once we watch through all the episodes of Doctor Who on Netflix (unless we go back and watch the old Doctor Who episodes...and I am not sure if I am that brave).

Doctor Who is a British Sci-Fi show about a man (or well a Time Lord) who travels throughout time and space in his blue police box called the Tardis.  Throughout the seasons he has different companions with him, and encounters many different enemies including the Daleks and Cybermen.  We seriously love this show.  Last year for Halloween my fiance dressed up as the 10th doctor.  Oh yeah, the doctor doesn't die, he regenerates.  So far we are on our third doctor, although in chronology he is the 11th doctor.  Even though this is a sci-fi show, it has a ton of heart.  We love the show so much that we have painted our bathroom door to look like the Tardis, have multiple props from the show in our living room, and we have a beautiful Dalek poster above our DVD display case.

If you haven't watched it, give it a chance.  And if you don't cry at the end of series 4, then you have no soul.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Blog a day is going strong...for two whole days!

And, for granted anyone reading this blog probably already knows this cause I bet only my friends (if that) ever read it...but I'm getting married!!!!!

Last week, on our one year anniversary, my very awesome boyfriend (now fiance!) and I got engaged.  I'm excited, in love, elated, happy, and SCARED TO DEATH!  Why?  Because I have NO clue how to put together a wedding.  Now, I have a year and a half.  We haven't set an official date, but we are thinking Fall 2013.  But, that doesn't make me feel more relaxed at all.  I am not sure where to start exactly, other than looking at dresses and color schemes because those are fun to Google.  I signed up at The Knot website, but they are kind of fancy and complicated.  Anyone out there want to help a girl?

Do I start figuring out a rough guest list?  Do I just go try on pretty dresses?  How do I figure out a budget?  The only thing I know for sure is that I need to hunt down a gluten free bakery so I can have a wedding cake that I can actually eat.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Blog a day

Ok, well, I've decided I am going to try doing this more of a blog a day thing.  Because honestly, I suck at blogging....which is pretty darn obvious.  So, I figure maybe I can challenge myself to blog almost every day (I might take weekends off).  Even if it is small, I can post.  Maybe I will get followers, maybe I will connect with people, or maybe I will just feed my own ego.

So, today I will start with a picture, because everyone loves pictures right?  Here's my "hopefully this this a good idea??  What is the cat doing over there?????" face.