Friday, January 31, 2014

a treasury of victorian murder

the borden tragedy
the beast of chicago
the case of madeleine smith
the saga of the bloody benders
a treasury of victorian murder
rick geary
nbm publishing inc.
published 2003

He was the world's first serial killer and he existed in the late 19th century, operating around the Chicago World's Fair, building a literal house of horrors, replete with chutes for dead bodies, gas chambers, surgical rooms.  He methodically murdered up to 200 people, mostly young women.

Dry, fact-based accounts of some of the more notorious murderers in history.  They read almost like textbooks.  There is no creative license taken in any of these.  While interesting, some get downright boring.  The Bloody Benders was spent going on a history lesson of Kansas and of the guesstimations of where the Benders might have relocated.  Very little was spent on the family itself because it seems very little is known of the family, which begs the questions why include them in this series?

I found The Borden Tragedy most interesting because out of the four I read it had the markings of a true whodunit.  By all accounts it would seem that Lizzie Borden was innocent.  So who then, murdered her father and step-mother?

Madeleine Smith was also an intriguing because it seemed only she could be the culprit and if so she got away with murder to live a long and fulfilling life.

The Beast of Chicago was impressive mostly in how H. H. Holmes's trail of back and forth travels was kept straight!

If you're looking for no nonsense reads on murderers these are your books.  If you're hoping for some entertaining read I might try elsewhere.

north world vol. 1: the epic of conrad

north world vol. 1: the epic of conrad
lars brown
oni press
published 2008

Northworld really isn't that different from our own...the biggest difference is the presence of mythical monsters, talking bears, arcane arts, and, of course, the heroes who stand ready to defend the innocent and helpless from these extraordinary threats!  Conrad is one such hero and he's about to experience something scarier than any of the mighty beasts he's faced down - his ex-girlfriend's wedding!

OK, so I know that there are other books but I don't know if they're connected.  Is Conrad's story continuous or do we move on to another character???

I did like this one, but dang it what happened?!  He does make some life decisions that seemed to be weighing on his mind, but the case that he's sent out to take care of.....nothing.  I mean, the reader knows what's what, but Conrad is clueless.

But yes, I really liked it.  There was so mystery, some action, a little love, some family drama....seriously, what more could you ask for?  Now I just have to wait for my library to fill my request for the second book....

murder mysteries

murder mysteries
neil gaiman & p. craig russell
dark horse
published 2002

Constructing and maintaining all of heaven and earth is an immense task, which God has divided up amongst the various ranks and stations of angels.  As with any such huge effort, there are bound to be casualties.  This unique passion play sheds light on the hands behind creation, as well as one lonely man in Los Angeles who gets to hear the whole story of a most unspeakable crime: a murder in paradise!

What is interesting to me is the motive for what is deemed as the first murder ever.  Other than that I was just 'eh' about this one.  Really short, only about 50 pages or so.  Maybe I just don't get it because I don't believe in God, but it irks me that this guy gets away with his crimes and even then we don't know why he committed them in the first place.

The art is fantastic though.  So there's that....

12 reasons why i love her

12 reasons why i love her
jamie s. rich & joelle jones
oni press
published 2006

A romance novel told in twelve individual vignettes, 12 Reasons explores the relationship of young couple Gwen and Evan, and the ups and downs of their relationship.

This was a sweet book.  The stories are each a different moment in Gwen & Evan's relationship.  It's funny to me how many of them are their arguments, but when I thought about it more they were all pivotal moments in their relationship.  I also liked the things you would sometimes catch in the background.  Like the waiter who may or not be drunk and may or may not be getting fired.

Simple and sweet.  Part of me wishes I got more of just this glimpse into their relationship, but the other part kind of likes that we got the high lights.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

chew, vol. 1: taster's choice

chew, vol. 1: taster's choice
john layman & rob guillory
image comics
published 2009

Tony Chu is a detective with a secret.  A weird secret.  Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. It also means he's a hell of a detective, as long as he doesn't mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit, and why.  He's been brought on by the Special Crimes Divsion of the FDA, the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet, to investigate their strangest, sickest, and most bizarre cases.

Ermahgawd this was so good!

Twisted, surprising, grotesque, hilarious and sweet (yes, sweet).  LOVED IT!  Tony Chu is my favorite new cop even though his method of investigation rolls my stomach.  The art is fantastic, but the story steals the show.

After 116 million people worldwide died of what the government deemed avian flu all chicken became illegal.  Tony and his partner John Colby are on a stakeout trying to get evidence of a Poultry Speakeasy and it's proprietor who is responsible for 5 murders.  Right after they see the break they needed they're approached by a giant named Savoy who works for the FDA and what happens afterwards changes Tony's life forever.

Cases that are all unconnected seem to be piecing together to all be related, or at least close to it.  Everything has to do with the chickens and it all goes back to whether the avian flu was a real thing or a government conspiracy.  Tony's less concerned with what the government is up to and more with following the rules.  We'll see how long that lasts.

dark water

dark water
koji suzuki & meimu
adv manga
published 2004

Inspired by the Japanese thriller of the same name, these pages hold the macabre tales of a mother's psychological torment in a rundown apartment complex, another man's terror upon the open sea, the unshakable lure of the deep, and a message from a watery grave.  A haunting will begin, and these people will learn that no one is safe from the mysteries that lie within the murky depths of Dark Water.

Teeny tiny short stories.  Not quite creepy enough and the art was lacking.  It was as if they really wanted to get this out very fast for some deadline and they just half-assed it.

Some of the stories were trying to be outright creepy.  There's something dangerous in the water.  Then there was the 'water can kill you' one.  Meh.  I've said before that I don't generally find scary books scary so maybe it's just me, but I think this one missed the mark big time.

bokurano ours, vol. 1

bokurano ours, vol. 1
mohiro kitoh
viz media
published 2010

Saving the world is hard.  Saving yourself is even harder.  One summer, fifteen kids innocently wander into a nearby seaside cave.  There they meet a strange man who invites them to play an exciting new video game.  This game, he explains, pits a long giant robot against a horde of alien invaders.  To play the game all they have to do is sign a simple contract.  The game stops being fun when the kids find out the true purpose of their pact.

Fifteen kids is a lot to keep track of and try to figure out what their stories are.  Luckily, in this first volume while we're introduced to all of them the story focuses mostly on the first two kids who get 'the call'.

The story was fun and creepy enough, but there wasn't a lot of chance to get character development so it didn't feel complete.  Of course, it's not complete since this is the first volume in a series, but at least with other series you kind of have a good grasp on who the characters are.  Here there are too many to do that.  Right now, it's just a bunch of creepy little kids!

Tons of questions and so far no answers at all.  Guess I'll have to keep reading...

ōoku: the inner chamber, vol. 1

fumi yoshinaga
viz media
published 2009

In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Redface Pox has begun to prey on the country's men.  Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent.  Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to me, even that of the Shogun.  The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected.  And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun's Inner Chamber...

At first glance this is very similar to Y: The Last Man and while I did enjoy those, Ōoku is telling a story much more intriguing to me.  I think maybe because it is written by a female we're missing those moments of annoying sexism that were pretty prevalent in Y: The Last Man.  Also, in Y the decimation of the male population is much more present.  Here, we're 80 years past the first case in a time when some people don't even remember when there were just as many men as women.  So we're focused less on why this has happened and more so on 'now what?'.

I really enjoy Fumi Yoshigana's art and storytelling.  While this is much more serious than Antique Bakery (my only other exposure to Yoshigana's work) she still inserts small moments of humor into the panels to break up the tension.  She's written something much more complicated and revealing than I expected.

The story begins with the introduction of the Redface Pox and it's devastating effects.  Shorty thereafter we skip ahead 80 years and get a glimpse of life as it stands with women in power and carrying the burdens of a country reinvented.  Yunoshin is a handsome man who has very little care until his mother arranges for him a fortunate marriage.  Instead he offers to put himself in service to the Shogun at the Ōoku.  Once there he learns quickly that living with only men has its downsides.

When the young Shogun dies a newer, more experienced and shrewd Shogun steps into her place and she has big plans for turning everything around.  She is smart and no-nonsense, yet she is compassionate and caring in her dealings with the men in her employ.  She has suspicions of the state of affairs in her country and she intends to get to the bottom of everything.

So you have some romance and some political intrigue all wrapped up with some gorgeous art!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

all i want is everything

all i want is everything
gossip girl #3
cecily von ziegesar
published 2007

It's Christmastime and Blair and Serena are best friends again and up to their old tricks - partying hard and breaking hearts from Park Avenue to the Caribbean.  Blair's mom and Cyrus are having their honeymoon in Salt Key.  And when school lets out for the holiday, Blair, Serena, Aaron, and company head down there to blow off st  eam after their midterm exams.  In between Pina Coladas and topless sunbathing, Blair and Serena plot revenge on super-jerk Chuck Bass.  Everyone jets back to NYC for Serena's New Year's party, during which Nate and Blair may or may not finally go all the way, and Serena may or may not be discovered to be the secret flung of Hollywood's hottest young leading man.

These are always fun.  Mindless entertainment mostly and since I watched the first few seasons of the show it's fun to compare.  Dan is even more of a douchebag in the books than he was in the show.  I really just don't like him.  I hope he gets better.

Jenny and Nate are still together though that's mostly because Nate's so stoned he really doesn't know what's happening.  I think this might the last Gossip Girl book she's in before she moves on the It Girl (which I loved).  Blair is working on her essay for Yale and Serena is just Serena.

Seriously, there is nothing too hard about these books but they are so much fun!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

god-shaped hole

god-shaped hole
tiffanie debartolo
sourcebooks landmark
published 2002

Tired of the usual dating politics, Beatrice "Trixie" Jordan follows an impulse and replies to a personal ad: "If your intentions are pure, I'm seeking a friend for the end of the world."  In doing so, she meets Jacob Grace, a charming young writer, a passionate seeker of life.  Despite their jaded views of the world, they fall immediately in love.

Trixie and Jacob begin an emotionally charge and tumultuous affair, one they try desperately to keep sacred.  As they struggle to carve out a future beyond the Los Angeles hills, Trixie and Jacob face family secrets that threaten to keep the two close to home ... or at least apart from one another.

Anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of your time.  There are too many mediocre things in life to deal with and love shouldn't be one of them.
Over a decade ago a movie changed my life.  It sounds so cliche but it is the truth.  Dream For An Insomniac starring Ione Skye & Jennifer Anniston.  I can close my eyes and watch the movie in my head from beginning to end despite having not watched it in several years.  Ione Skye's Frankie was a romantic who would settle for nothing less than what she deemed to be perfect love and I, well I was stuck in a marriage with a man I didn't even like anymore.  Everything in the movie spoke to me.  I was Frankie.  I was certain I wasn't going to settle for anything less than extraordinary love.

So I booked a flight out of Texas and never went back.

Years later I stumbled upon two books written by Tiffanie DeBartolo who wrote that life-changing movie and finally, I've read one.

Every character came to life for me.  I could feel the desperation at the idea of being stuck in their hell forever.  The helplessness when things began to spiral, the content and giddiness when things were on was all so much life it sparked within the pages.

It's hard to articulate how I feel after reading God-Shaped Hole without spoiling the book for anyone who should want to read it and you should want to read it.  DeBartolo has a way with words.  It made me want to write again, to keep a journal, to write everything down.  To create a story and despite having very little in common with Trixie I related to her in a way that made everything too personal so that when the book was finished I felt broken.

The worst book hangover ever, but truly worth it.

someday, someday, maybe

someday, someday, maybe
lauren graham
ballantine books
published 2013

It's January 1995, and Franny Banks has just six months left of the three-year deadline she set for herself when she came to New York, dreaming of Broadway and doing "important" work.  But all she has to show for her efforts so far is a part in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters, and a gig waiting tables at a comedy club.  Everything is riding on the upcoming showcase for her acting class, where she'll finally have a chance to perform for people who could actually hire her.  And she can't let herself be distracted by James Franklin, a notorious flirt and the most successful actor in her class, even though he's suddenly started paying attention.  Meanwhile, her bank account is rapidly dwindling, her father wants her to come home, and her agent doesn't return her calls.  But for some reason, she keeps believing that she might get what she came for.

I can't say that I'm a big Lauren Graham fan, but I did like her on Parenthood so when I heard she had written a book I thought I would pick it up.  I imagined her quirkiness would work well for a writer.  Then I remembered she's not really Sarah Braverman in real life.

The story is nothing new and the most interesting thing is that Franny complains about the exact plot of this book after she and her roommate go see a movie together.  There is nothing unpredictable about this book and nothing is really resolved in the end.  It felt like we just ended maybe 2 feet from where we began.

The characters were vague and boring.  All I can picture in my head of Franny is that she is brunette, has slightly uncontrollable hair (of course - don't all wannabe quirky actresses have crazy hair?) and is shorter than her roommate Dan.  I know that Dan is tall.  I cannot even remember if she really describes what James Franklin looks like because all I ever pictured from the beginning was James Franco.

I wasn't terribly disappointed.  I wanted to keep reading and find out what happened to Franny, but I felt myself continually disappointed in her.  She never did anything I was impressed with or felt a kinship with.  She just wasn't my people, I guess.

tiger lily

tiger lily
jodi lynn anderson
harper teen
published 2012

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair.... Tiger Lily.  When fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan deep in the forbidden woods of Neverland, the two form a bond that's impossible to break, but also impossible to hold on to.  As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants.  Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily.  However, when Wendy Darling, a girl who is everything Tiger Lily is not, arrives on the island, Tiger Lily discovers how far she is willing to go to keep Peter with her, and in Neverland.

The minute I saw this book I knew that I would love it.  Usually, when I see I cover I love I expect it will probably not stand up to my expectations, but this time I knew because it was Peter Pan.

Peter Pan has always secretly been my favorite of Disney movies.  And not because of Peter or Wendy, but Tinker Bell & Tiger Lily.  I thought Tiger Lily was beautiful in the cartoon movie.  I wanted to know her story and I wanted Peter to love only her.  I thought Wendy was bossy and silly and didn't deserve Peter.  Tinker Bell has just always been my favorite.  Feisty and animated.  She couldn't talk, but boy did you know how she felt.  Since then Tink has had her own series of movies and it's been so fun to see that world from her eyes, but still, the silent Tink holds a place in my heart.

Jodi Lynn Anderson has done an amazing job at making the story of Peter Pan the story of Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell.  She's weaved in bits of J.M. Barrie's tale into hers and reminded us of Disney's classic, but there is no humor and this is not a children's tale.

It is dark and dangerous.  And it feels real.  She took each and every character and made them as real as they could be living on an island almost impossible to reach by ship where hardly anyone grows old.  Captain Hook is desperate to catch Peter and in Disney's story I always wondered what would really happen if he did catch him.  In Anderson's tale I knew that when he did catch him Peter would die.  He isn't a bumbling captain to a ragtag group of pirates, but a madman looking not so much for treasure as much as he just wants to kill.  Smee isn't the sweet, reluctant pirate, but a dark and dangerous serial killer.

The tale is told from Tinker Bell's perspective as she has abandoned her own people to live with Tiger Lily whom she loves and admires but doesn't think knows she exists.  Able to read human's minds through their feelings she is the perfect storyteller.  The story is dark and beautiful and heartbreaking and I loved every word of it.

night film

night film
marisha pessl
random house
published 2013

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan.  Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise.  As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley's life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova - a man who hasn't been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence.  Though much has been written about Cordova's dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova's eerie, hypnotic world.

The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career.  This time he might lose even more.

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked up Night Film.  It was one of those books that I first saw in the emails the library send out of book recommendations.  I'd never heard of Marisha Pessl.  I'm not sure that her acclaimed first book Special Topics in Calamity Physics (despite being described as a murder mystery) is a book I would necessarily pick up and enjoy, but the synopsis of Night Film intrigued me.  Then reader friends began reading the book and saying only vague mysterious bits of praise.  So I got the book on my Kindle and promptly forgot about it.  When it came time to compile my TBR lists for 2014 I decided I would get down and read Night Film and see what all the fuss was about. don't really hear too much.  It's not a mainstream book.  It's not side-by-side with the James Pattersons and John Grishams.  It didn't even hit the type of frenzy that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo did.  It's odd.

Nonetheless, on to the review.  Reading Night Film was like experiencing A Clockwork Orange for the first time.  You're not entirely sure what's happening.  What is real and what is fantasy.  You're only sure that something is fucked up.  It reminded me of stories of Alfred Hitchcock.  I remember being pretty young and reading about Alfred Hitchcock giving a 6-year-old Melanie Griffith a wax doll replica of her mother Tippi Hedren in a wooden coffin as a Christmas or Birthday present.  It was the creepiest thing I'd ever heard of.  During the entire book I pictured Cordova as Hitchcock.  I spent much time wishing the movies Cordova made were real so I could run out and watch them.

And the book was terrifying in that you have no idea what's going on.  Like black and white horror movies where you don't actually see the monster eating the victim because it's off camera, but you know it's happening and somehow that's more terrifying than seeing it.  About two thirds into the book I was captivated by the insanity, worried I would have nightmares when I went to sleep.  (For the record I didn't, but I did read until 2 a.m.)

Of course there were things that bugged me.  If you've ever read my reviews of James Patterson books I hate unnecessary italics.  Marisha Pessl loves them.  They are everywhere and in the beginning I could barely get past it.  And then there were the obvious things that were happening that McGrath didn't pick up on.  Inez Gallo's nickname, the effects of the greenhouse & the repercussions of McGrath's missing research.  But I suppose with everything that was going on in McGrath's life at that moment things just got past him.

When I got to the rather abrupt ending it made mention of the Night Film app.  I wish it had mentioned that in the beginning so I didn't have to search through my ebook to find the places where I could interact with the app.  But I found the extra content to be kind of dull and cheap compared to the book.  The voice acting was awful and just ridiculous.  There is a 'diary' though that was quite a gem.

I'm not sure if this makes me a Pessl fan, but maybe someday if I see Special Topics in Calamity Physics at a used bookstore I might pick it up.

Monday, January 27, 2014

the spectacular now

the spectacular now
tim tharp
published 2008

Sutter Keely.  He's the guy you want at your party.  He'll get everyone dancing.  He'll get everyone in your parents' pool.  Okay, so he's not exactly a shining academic star.  He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men's shirts for a living.  But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram's V.O., life's pretty fabuloso, actually.  Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee.  Aimee's clueless.  Aimee is a social disaster.  Aimee needs help, and it's up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper.  But Aimee's not like other girls, and before long he's in way over his head.  For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else's life - or ruin it forever.

Well.  That was depressing.

Sutter Keely is an alcoholic at 18.  There's no getting around that.  There is rarely a time during his narration that he is not inebriated.  There was rarely a time during his narration that I didn't want to punch him in the face.

I made the mistake of reading this as an adult.  One who still drinks, yes, but not one who drinks to excess pretty much ever anymore.  I forgot how I was in my 20s.  I forgot how I spent nearly every night for several years drunk.  How a good night was binge drinking with my friends and feeling like the only way we could have fun was if alcohol was somehow involved.  Work provided unlimited access to booze and we took full advantage of that.  I forgot what an asshole I was when I drank.  Not a mean drunk sort of asshole, but one who did stupid stuff and thought it was hilarious.

I know that had I stayed where I was during that time of my life I might not be alive today.

And I realize that the brilliance of Tim Tharp's novel is that the entire story is told from Sutter's point of view and you, the reader are (most likely) sober while reading it and so you can read between the lines.  We know Sutter isn't the life of the party.  We know he is being mocked.  We know he has no real friends because no one wants a friend like that.  We know that he's using Aimee just as he perceives everyone else in her life does.  So Sutter becomes this horribly pathetic character to us.

And there is a moment that we're all waiting for.  The afterschool special moment where something horrible happens that changes Sutter.  Makes him realize that he can't continue living his life this way.  And it happens, but not how we expected.  And it makes the story even more brilliant than originally thought.  Because not everyone has that afterschool special moment.  Not everyone realizes the error of their ways.  Some are lost and will always remain lost.  Some don't need that moment, they just sort of come to that realization themselves.

What Tim Tharp does is give us a big dose of reality.  This isn't a glossy YA novel that splits people into Team Sutter and Team Someone Else.  This is a PSA wrapped up in damn good writing.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

ashes to ashes

ashes to ashes
kovac/liska #1
tami hoag
published 1999

The newspapers have dubbed him the Cremator.  He has already claimed three lives and he won't stop there.  He has a plan for greatness, only this time there is a witness.  A teenage runaway with a dubious identity and a murky past, Angie DiMarco has seen the face of the killer in the flickering light of the funeral pyre.  Now the police have Angie, but Angie isn't talking.

While I've read a few Tami Hoag books I've kind had a hit or miss sort of luck with them.  I bought a bunch of her books after I read the first one I really liked, but then I read the one I didn't like and I wasn't too excited to start any other one.

But after years of sitting on my shelf I've decided to finally give them another shot. And I was pleasantly surprised.  Much better than the not so great one I read, but I didn't quite get into it the way I did the first one!

It was really long.  And for why, I'm not entirely sure.  There were moments that dragged on, musings that seemed to muse for too long.  But it was interesting enough to keep me entertained until the end.  I have the next book Dust to Dust which features Kovac & Liska who were a little more than background characters in Ashes to Ashes.

And while it was interesting it was slightly predictable.  I knew who the killer was and I figured out the connection between the killer and the witness, but still there were a few surprises that I won't spoil for you.  All in all it was a good read!

the name of the wind

the name of the wind
kingkiller chronicles #1
patrick rothfuss
fiction/high fantasy
published 2007

The riveting first-person narrative of a young man who grows to be the most notorious magician his world has ever seen.  From his childhood in a troupe of traveling players to years spent as near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic.

The Name of the Wind is one of those books that can be described as epic because that's really what it is, an epic.  Kvothe is an unassuming innkeeper at the Waystone Inn serving the very few patrons of farmers and the very infrequent traveler.  In the past few months the roads have become increasingly unsafe so Waystone Inn has not seen a new face in quite some time.  And that's mostly okay with Kvothe who just wants to polish his bottles and listen to stories that the villagers tell.

Until a battered and terrified regular comes in carrying a bundle of nightmares.  Now Kvothe knows that the quiet in his life might be coming to and end.  When he comes across a Chronicler he decides that now is the perfect time to tell the story of his life.

This book is what one might also describe as a brick.  The paperback that was lent to me is a cool 722.  It's no The Game of Thrones, but it's pretty long nonetheless.  It was recommended to me by a friend and has been sitting on my shelf for many, many months.  It took me awhile to get into the book at all.  I'm not a big fantasy reader, especially not these sort of epic high fantasy books (I just learned what the term high fantasy means!) so I was a little lost until I found the rhythm.  Then the pages seemed to fly by until I got to the last 20-30 pages.  Then it sort of slowed down.

Also called The Name of the Wind: Day One, the book is Kvothe's telling of the story of his life to the Chronicler while they are sitting in his deserted inn.  He takes us from his childhood days all the way through his teens.  I think by the time he takes a break for the day he is about 17 or 18 years old.

Kvothe is one of the luckiest and yet, unluckiest people ever.  He's arrogant, having discovered at a young age that he was scarily intelligent and apt at sympathy, a sort of alchemist/magician sort of thing.  And his high opinion of himself is generally what gets him into rough spots.  The book is packed with adventure, mystery and sadness and it ends with a sort of cliffhanger.  There is still so much story to tell!

If you're a reader of fantasy you've probably already read this.  If you're not you should definitely give it a try.  Fans of The Game of Thrones books will enjoy this as well.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


pretty little liars #5
sara shepard
harper collins
published 2008

In idyllic Rosewood, Pennsylvania, four very pretty girls just can't help but be bad...

Hanna will do anything to be Rosewood's queen bee.  Spencer's digging up her family's secrets.  Emily can't stop thinking about her new boyfriend.  And Aria approves a little too strongly of her mom's taste in men.

Now that Ali's killer is finally behind bars, the girls think they're safe.  But those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.  And they should know by now that I'm always watching...

This little 'idyllic' town is harboring one too many psychos and they're all obsessed with the same four high school girls.

Yeah, I don't know why I'm reading them either.

They are quick reads, for sure and they keep me reading.  No matter what dumb things these idiot girls do.  The thing is, they really should have ended with #4.  'A' was outed, the killer was arrested and the fearful foursome was safe (except from themselves).  But then we return to Rosewood and there's another 'A' and maybe the killer isn't the killer and the girls still keep making the same dumb decisions they made in the previous books.

I feel bad for Spencer - her family is a nightmare.  Those parents should not be parents.  Emily is trying her best and is usually the one who goes for the truth instead of more lies.  Hanna is just a waste of a human being.  Get over yourself already.  And Aria, well she's just gross.  Daddy issues much?

I'm committed to finishing this series (at this point), but it's going to be hard since I just finished #5 and there's 100 of them or something.  Or maybe it just feels like that....

Friday, January 17, 2014

reconstructing amelia

reconstructing amelia
kimberly mccreight
harper collins
published 2013

Kate's in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career whens he gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter's exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter - now.  But Kate's stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance.  Bu then it's already too late for Amelia.  And for Kate.

An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death.  At least that's the story Grace Hall tells Kate.  And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe.  Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn't jump.

A parent's worst nightmare is the death of their child way before their time.  I sit here thinking about Reconstructing Amelia and how I don't know what I would do.  Could I survive that?  Could I continue on as Kate had?

I would like to think that I would search for answers as she does.  That I would not rest until I knew exactly what happened to my child.  But then, when you find out what do you do with that information?

I expected the story for Kate's POV.  A single, working mother who despite her busy hours tries to make time for her daughter.  I didn't expect to see things through Amelia's perspective.  It's heartbreaking.  To know how Amelia felt about everything that was going on around her, how she truly felt about her mother and Kate would never really know.

Of course, spanning out around Amelia is the hot topic of bullying.  I always thought about how much more vicious girls can be than boys.  Never is that more true than in Reconstructing Amelia.

There is much about this book that hurts to read.  When Kate talks about not being able to remember what Amelia smelled like despite searching desperately on pillows she hadn't washed I started to cry.  I remember once hearing a man talking about dealing with the death of his young son.  He mentioned that he was down in the basement laundry room where he had kept a bag of his son's clothes that he never washed.  Every once in a while he would pull something out of that bag to just inhale, hoping to catch a whiff of that little boy smell.  Even now, thinking about that man I cry.  It's like the last physical manifestation of your child who is gone is there for a brief time after they have left and you find comfort in being able to hold onto this proof that they had actually existed.

This is not a book that leaves you feeling relived.  There is no happy ending.  The people who should be punished seem to skate away unscathed while Amelia is still gone.  I suppose, like most things in life, it's meant to be not fair.

Kimberly McCreight flutters flawlessly between Kate's voice and Amelia's.  Both are believable and smartly fleshed out.  Sometimes both do something that just seems nuts, but then you remember that sometimes you do things that are nuts.  Some parts of the mystery were obvious, but it didn't deter me from wanting to continue.

But the whole time I was reading I kept thinking, Amelia isn't coming back.  This bright, beautiful, loved young girl isn't getting her happy ending.  And that was hard.

farm fatale

farm fatale
wendy holden
fiction/brit chick lit
headline books publishing
published 2001

Cash-strapped Rosie and her boyfriend Mark are city folk longing for a country cottage.  Rampantly nouveaux-riches Samantha and Guy are also searching for rustic bliss - a mansion complete with all the fancy trappings.  The village of Eight Mile Bottom seems quiet enough, despite a nosy postman, a reclusive rock star, a glamorous Bond Girl, and a ghost with a knife in its back.  But there are unexpected thrills in the hills, and the two couples are soon swept up in various romantic entanglements, mix-ups, slip-ups, and unlikely seductions in their search for ever-greener pastures.

What to say....what to say.....

I didn't love this book, but then I didn't hate it either.  It was just....there.  Rosie wasn't that bad of a character, but I never really got a sense of who she really was.  I definitely got a sense of other characters.  Like Samantha and Mark.  Awful, awful people.  I don't understand at all why we were stuck in Samantha's head at all.  I kept waiting for the moment when something changes for Samantha, when she realizes she's a horrible person, but that never comes.  From the synopsis I was expecting a much different couple.  The story would have been just fine if she was never in it, albeit much shorter.

Everything kind of dragged on and then suddenly took this sharp turn and as the pages flipped away with very little pages left to read I wondered how things were going to get wrapped up.  Holden wrapped everything up in about 7 pages.  It was kind of disappointing.  And predictable.

I still have two other books by Wendy Holden to read for the off the shelf challenges.  Hopefully they'll be a little better than this one.  I'm generally a sucker for brit chick lit, but this one didn't thrill me.

Monday, January 13, 2014

still life

still life
armand gamache #1
louise penny
minotaur books
published 2006

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book.  I'll admit that I got the book because I loved the cover of The Beautiful Mystery and found out it was part of series so I picked up the first few.  Then I found the Cruisin' the Cozies challenge and I thought these would be perfect, might as well try one.

It is definitely a book that you want to curl up next to a cozy fire and cuddle up with.  It's charming, suspenseful and mysterious.  Usually when you read a mystery or thriller the victim is kind of unknown.  After all, their death is the catalyst for the book.  Without that there is no story so generally that person gets killed right away, before you get a chance to know them or care.  You care about the ones left behind (if it's a good writer), but you're not really invested in the victim.

Jane Neal is killed in the first sentence of the book, although we go back in time a little to the days before her death.  Still we don't get to spend a lot of time with Ms. Neal before she meets her demise.  And yet, by the time the killer in Three Pines is revealed I felt like I knew Jane Neal better than any other character in the book and I mourned her as such.  

Penny writes characters that glow with life on the pages.  And yet they still remain mysterious enough to keep you wondering who isn't true.  And she also writes the people you love to hate.  For me, besides the obvious Yolande Fontaine was Agent Yvette Nichol.  I loathed her.  It was such an interesting addition to the cast of characters.

The mystery itself was gripping.  I didn't know who the killer could be.  Just when I thought it was someone, something would change my mind or prove them innocent.  And there were all these little side stories.  The portraits of a small, close knit community.  I was hooked.

Once again, judging a book by its cover works for me!  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

harley & ivy

harley & ivy
paul dini, judd winick, bruce timm, joe chiodo
graphic novels/crime/humor
dc comics
published 2007

The sexy, madcap super-villain duo of Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy plan to take down Batman once and for all in this uproariously funny volume.  But first, Harley has to convince Ivy that she has what it takes to be a villain in Gotham City!

A quick and fun read centered around my two favorite DC villainesses (is that a word), Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.  Silly and cute and just what I needed after the darkness that was Death of the Family!

And now I want a Harleycopter.

death of the family

batman, vol. 3: death of the family
batman the new 52 issues 13-17
joker: death of the family
catwoman the new 52 issues 13-14
batgirl the new 52 issues 13-16
suicide squad the new 52 issues 14-15
batman & robin the new 52 issues 15-16
detective comics the new 52 issues 15-16
nightwing, the new 52 issues 15-16
red hood & the outlaws the new 52 issues 15-16
teen titans the new 52 issues 15-16
writers: scott snyder, adam glass, kyle higgins, john layman, scott lobdell, ann nocenti, gail simone, peter j tomasi, james tynion iv
illustrators: greg capullo, eddy barrows, ed benes, brett booth, andy clarke, fernando dagnino, jason fabok, patrick gleason, jock, timothy green, rafa sandoval
dc comics
published 2013

After having his face sliced off one year ago, The Joker makes his horrifying return in this new epic that features Batman's entire network of partners in crimefighting, including Batgirl, Catwoman, Nightwing, Robin, the Teen Titans and more.  While The Joker threatens the very existence of Gotham City, these heroes - an villains - must find a way to survive.

Now here is some phenomenal Batman story writing.  Snyder certainly has a thumb on the pulse of what is The Joker and what makes him tick.  The story is so dark and yet uplifted by The Joker's brand of humor now and then or a quick quip from Dick or Jason.

For me, Damian is a hard sell.  The kid is too serious for a 10 year old although his loyalty to his father is the one thing I can believe.  There are some truly great moments in these 23 issues.  I read them as they would have come out issue by issue instead of sticking to a whole series and finishing it out that way.  I think I like it better reading it as it should have been read instead of waiting for the compilation book to come out.  That being said, is it necessary to read the entire arc or just The Batman issues?  I'd say no, but I think you're missing some great stuff if you skip over everyone else.  Especially the Suicide Squad issues.  Harley and The Joker together again is something not be missed.

suicide squad, vol. 3: death is for suckers

suicide squad, vol. 3: death is for suckers
adam glass, henrik jonsson & sandu florea
the new 52 issues 14-19
graphic novels/crime
dc comics
published 2013

As the Suicide Squad closes in on Basilisk leader Regulus, Deadshot and Harley discover multiple Basilisk sleeper agents within their ranks.  Regulus, makes one final desperate gamble to save himself by controlling Harley's mind, but Deadshot makes the ultimate sacrifice for his teammate.  Harley's lost "love" the Joker casts a poisonous rain over Deadshot's funeral, leaving only Harley conscious to face the clown prince of crime.  Angered and unable to trust Harley because of her relationship with Deadshot, the Joker tests Harley's loyalty, a test which may cost both of them their lives.

The Joker's back and he's a little pissed that his lucky lady has moved on.  It doesn't matter that Deadshot is six feet under, Joker still has a score to settle.  He wants to make absolute sure that he can trust Harley.

Always happy to see the Joker!  And they went all out with the title because truly, death is for suckers.  It seems that everyone has died at least once since the beginning of the series, some characters twice.  There's something Waller is doing to the Suicide Squad members, but none of that has been made perfectly clear yet.

Suspense and action and a bit of a cliffhanger at the end.  Who survives to the next round?

suicide squad, vol. 2: basilisk rising

suicide squad, vol. 2: basilisk rising
adam glass & federico dallocchio
the new 52 issues 8-13
graphic novels/crime
dc comics
published 2013

As the surviving Squad members attempt to recover from their disastrous Gotham City mission, we learn a dark secret that has been festering in the team since issue #1: a traitor stalks the Suicide Squad!  The saboteur's mission: assassinate Amanda Waller, expose the Squad and leave Task Force X in ruins!  The Basilisk strikes!

Another action packed volume!  Saboteur's abound!  Mind control!  Guns!  It's all in here.

I thoroughly enjoy these Suicide Squad books.  Harley plays quite a central role and Deadshot is the best male anti-hero around.  The art is good, the writing is edgy.  What more could a girl want?

suicide squad, vol. 1: kicked in the teeth

suicide squad, vol. 1: kicked in the teeth
the new 52 issues 1-7
adam glass, federico dallocchio & clayton henry
graphic novels/crime
dc comics
published 2012

The story begins with the Suicide Squad defeated, imprisoned and being interrogated about their newest mission.  Harley Quinn, King Shark, Deadshot and company must make it out alive without revealing who's pulling the strings behind their illegal operations.  Who will be the first to crack under the pressure?  More importantly will they make it all out alive?

There's a lot going on in this first volume of the New 52's Suicide Squad.  Zombies in a stadium, prison riots, bad guys chasing bad guys for other bad guys....and Harley Quinn's on the loose.

There can't ever be enough Harley Quinn as far as I'm concerned.  She's creepy and crazy and I just love her.  In the last two issues of this volume Harley's escaped from Belle Reve and she's headed to Gotham to find out if what everyone's told her is true.  The Joker's dead and GCPD has his face stored away.

Deadshot and the other members of the Suicide Squad are tasked with bringing her back dead or alive.  Easier said than done for a girl who doesn't have any 'powers'.

It's fun to watch the bad guys not being completely bad.  Plus, there's this never ending pool of villains to grab from so we're exposed to more characters with each mission.  This series is a keeper.

Friday, January 3, 2014

batman, vols. 1 & 2

batman, vol. 1: the court of owls
batman the new 52 issues 1-7
batman, vol. 2: the city of owls
batman the new 52 issues 8-12
scott snyder, greg capullo & jonathan glapion
graphic novels/crime
dc comics
published 2012

After a series of brutal murders rocks Gotham City, Batman begins to realize that perhaps these crimes go far deeper than appearances suggest.  As the Caped Crusader begins to unravel this deadly mystery, he discovers a conspiracy going back to his youth and beyond to the origins of the city he's sworn to protect.  Could the Court of Owls, once thought to be nothing more than an urban legend, be behind the crime and corruption?  Or is Bruce Wayne losing his grip on sanity and falling prey to the pressures of his war on crime?

Who knew owls could be so dang creepy.  Well, I guess a lot of people, but I never really thought of owls that way until this book.

Scott Snyder writes a great story.  Bringing us into Bruce's past to pull the story tighter and making everything suspenseful and creepy.  Revelations abound and no one is quite safe in their knowledge.  He writes a slightly arrogant Batman, but then isn't that what he is.  No one can do the job better than he can and he knows it.  He needs no help from anyone, or at least that's what he tells himself.  Yet without Alfred and the others he probably wouldn't still be alive.  Speaking of Alfred, I really enjoyed the stuff with Jarvis and the letter he wrote to Alfred.

The art is clean and detailed.  I'm not a huge fan of the shadowy panels that you see in a lot of comics.  I want to see the details and be able to get more of the story from the art alone.

Monster Batman is the way too amazing.  Thanks for that Mr. Capullo.


twilight saga #1
stephenie meyer
little, brown & co.
published 2006

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made.  When she meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen - a vampire - her life takes a thrilling and terrifying romantic turn.

This is comfort reading for me.  This is my 5th reading in as many years.  It's the most I've read a single book, especially in such a short amount of time.  Usually I can't reread a book until a decade or two has gone by.

And please spare me the vitriol.  I know it's not a Pulitzer Prize winning book.  I know the writing is amateurish and the plot goes against my more feminist views, but it is truly escapism when I read this book.  It reminds me of falling in love for the first time.  Those few weeks or months learning everything you can about that person.  The butterflies and the thrill of seeing them again when you haven't seen them in oh say, a couple of hours.

Then there's the setting.  The green, rainy gloom.  The cold, grey beach covered in colored glass pebbles.  You can say what you like about Meyer's writing, but she definitely can bring Forks to life.  And this setting is my kind of place!

I just love this book.  And I probably always will.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

book bingo

Last year this was a fun and challenging reading challenge.  They changed things up quite a bit as far as the categories on the scorecard go.  I might be able to finish this one and get an 'awesome' stamp early this year!  There are lots of rules and info that you can find when you sign up here.

Here's my card:
  • TBR Pile (15 books total)
  1. Farm Fatale - Wendy Holden
  2. The Spectacular Now - Tim Tharp
  3. Night Film - Marisha Pessl
  4. Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson
  5. God-Shaped Hole - Tiffanie DeBartolo
  6. Because I'm Worth It - Cecily von Ziegesar
  7. Dust to Dust - Tami Hoag
  8. The Darkest Evening of the Year - Dean Koontz
  9. Cocktails for Three - Madeleine Wickham
  10. The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan
  11. Every Secret Thing - Laura Lippman
  12. The Cruelest Month - Louise Penny
  • Series (15 books total)
  1. Wicked - Sara Shepard
  2. Ashes to Ashes - Tami Hoag
  3. All I Want Is Everything - Cecily von Ziegesar
  4. The Hangman - Louise Penny
  5. Pure - Julianna Baggott
  6. A Fatal Grace - Louise Penny
  7. Killer - Sara Shepard
  8. Evernight - Claudia Gray
  9. A Catered Murder - Isis Crawford
  10. Storm Front - Jim Butcher
  11. Heartless - Sara Shepard
  12. The Iron Daughter - Julie Kagawa
  13. Wanted - Sara Shepard
  14. I Like It Like That - Cecily von Ziegesar
  15. A Wanted Man - Lee Child
  • New Releases (15 books total)
  1. The Thousand Dollar Tan Line - Rob Thomas
  • Free Squares (2 books total)
  1. Dancing Barefoot - Wil Wheaton

first reads challenge

Another returning challenge for me.  Debdatta from b00k r3vi3ws is hosting the First Reads Reading Challenge again this year.  This is for authors that are new to you.  Last year I discovered 51 new to me authors!  I'm always looking for new authors, but I don't always go out of my way to find them.  So this challenge is good for me to just take the leap and try something new.

Rules are simple:

  1. Read and review as many books as possible by authors that you haven't read before.
  2. You don't have to be a blogger to participate, but you do have to post a review somewhere to participate.  Try Goodreads, Amazon, Shelfari, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.
  3. If you are a blogger make sure to link up your review posts.  If you're not a blogger make sure to link up wherever you're posting your reviews.
  4. Books can overlap with other reading challenges.
  5. Books can be any format (ebook, audio, print)
  6. Post your links for your reviews each month.
  7. Challenge runs from Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2014 and you can sign up at any time.
Levels are:

  • Amateur: 1-25 new authors
  • Lover: 26-50 new authors
  • Expert: 51-75 new authors
  • Fanatic: 76 or more new authors

If you would like to sign up you can do that here.  I'm aiming for Lover.  I read 51 new authors last year so I'm going to try to match that.
Challenge Completed 10.11.14
  1. Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth - Adam Glass
  2. Harley & Ivy - Paul Dini
  3. Still Life - Louise Penny
  4. Farm Fatale - Wendy Holden
  5. Reconstructing Amelia - Kimberly McCreight
  6. The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
  7. The Spectacular Now - Tim Tharp
  8. Night Film - Marisha Pessl
  9. Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson
  10. Someday, Someday, Maybe - Lauren Graham
  11. God-Shaped Hole - Tiffanie DeBartolo
  12. 7 Billion Needles, Vol. 1 - Nobuaki Tadano
  13. Bokurano Ours, Vol. 1 - Mohiro Kitoh
  14. Dark Water - Koji Suzuki
  15. Chew, Vol. 1: Taster's Choice - John Layman
  16. North World, Vol. 1: The Epic of Conrad - Lars Brown
  17. The Borden Tragedy - Rick Geary
  18. The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan
  19. Where'd You Go Bernadette - Maria Semple
  20. Mockingbird - Kathryn Erskine
  21. Pure - Julianna Baggott
  22. Evernight - Claudia Gray
  23. A Catered Murder - Isis Crawford
  24. Batman: Hush, Vol. 1 - Jeph Loeb
  25. Batman: War Games, Act One: Outbreak - Ed Brubaker
  26. Batman: War Crimes - Andersen Gabrych
  27. Batman: Year One, Ra's al Ghul - Devin Grayson
  28. Red Hood: The Lost Days - Judd Winick
  29. Storm Front - Jim Butcher
  30. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
  31. Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 - Hajime Isayama
  32. Monster, Vol. 1 - Naoki Urasawa
  33. The Thousand Dollar Tan Line - Rob Thomas
  34. Batwoman, Vol. 1: Hydrology - J. H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman
  35. Dancing Barefoot - Wil Wheaton
  36. The Drifting Classroom, Vol. 1 - Kazuo Uzema
  37. Every Secret Thing - Laura Lippman
  38. The Museum of Extraordinary Things - Alice Hoffman
  39. The Ice Princess - Camilla Lackberg
  40. The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh
  41. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder - Joanne Fluke
  42. The Enchanted - Rene Denfeld
  43. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me - Mindy Kaling
  44. Bossypants - Tina Fey
  45. Official Book Club Selection - Kathy Griffin
  46. Dad Is Fat - Jim Gaffigan
  47. A Little Bit Wicked - Kristin Chenoweth
  48. Dirty Daddy - Bob Saget
  49. The Bedwetter - Sarah Silverman
  50. The Good Girl - Mary Kubica

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

favorite books of 2013

This is the most books I've recorded reading in a year. Granted, I only started keeping track of my reading a few years ago, but still....

There have also been quite a few really good books I've read this year so this post is just a round up of the ones that made me laugh the hardest, cried the longest, scared the crap out of me or had me biting all my nails off!

Locke & Key by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez (the whole series)
Freaky and gory and terrifying.  It kept me tense the entire time I was reading from beginning to end.  The art is fantastic and the story is crazy good.

Reached by Ally Condie
 I was slightly disappointed with Crossed and Reached made up for that a thousand times over.  I loved every single character, every single was just such a perfect book.

Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross
 Luther had a couple of things going for it as far as I was concerned.  It was about my favorite BBC show and it's written by the show's creator and writer, Neil Cross.  And it was SO GOOD.  It takes place before the show begins so you get the back story that's only hinted at in the show.  It was an excellent companion to the show.  

Yotsuba@! by Kiyohiko Azuma
 I saw the description for this on the back of another manga and thought it sounded like something Emma might like.  I started reading the first one and went to pick up the others immediately.  My mother-in-law gave me the entire set for Christmas because I just love Yotsuba!  Emma's read them too and loved them so I think that makes it a favorite because it was something we both loved.

Stolen Prey by John Sandford
 Ermahgawd Stolen Prey is probably my favorite Prey novel that Sandford has written.  Letty, Lucas's adopted daughter is the best badass in literature.  I was freaking hyperventilating, my heart was pounding through my chest while I was reading this one.  SO GOOD.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did.  Rainbow Rowell wrote this book that at first feels like a coming of age book and it is in it's way, but it was so much more than that.  The writing was spectacular.  I laughed out loud sometimes, but I cried too and I was frightened and worried and I cared so much about these characters it was ridiculous!

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
 This is one of those books that I should have read years ago.  In fact, it's been sitting on my bookshelf for years.  I really just loved everything about it.  It was painful to read at times and there were characters I loathed, but it was supposed to be that way.  There's a sequel to this one out there, but I don't think I need to read it.  I think I love the way Cannie's story ended here.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
 This is another book that sat on my shelf for awhile before I got around to it.  Magical, suspenseful, romantic, beautiful, heartbreaking, was everything a good book should be.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
At this point, it is clear that Rainbow Rowell is my new favorite author.  I was almost instantly in love with this book.  The most telling feature is how throughout the book, mostly at the beginning of a new chapter, she writes a snippet of the canon or fanfiction that the book is centered around and I was just as into that stuff as I was into the actual story.  Rowell writes books to get lost in.  That's a good thing people.

So here's to another great year of book reading.  Happy New Year everyone and let's discover even better books in 2014!

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