Monday, December 28, 2015

Somewhere in Between

by Katie Li

Summary from GoodReads

Two friends find a portal to another dimension and use this “in-between place” to avoid the stress of their everyday lives. What they don’t realize is that every time they enter, they alter reality.

Pseudo-punk Magnolia and underachieving gamer-geek Rom are two unlikely friends who only hang out during their walks home together after school. When they find the a portal that leads to different worlds, they use the “in-between place” as an escape from their lives in high school, then later, after college. 

Their visits through the portal bring them teetering along a tight-rope of fantasy and reality, where they don't always believe what is in front of them, not even their feelings for each other. 

The book is about changes—the ones that you can control, and the ones that you can’t. It’s about commitment and friendship. It’s about the stages in between where you have nothing but the unknown ahead of you.

Inspired by the work of Haruki Murakami and films like Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind, Somewhere In Between is metaphysical coming-of-age story about defining love and finding yourself.

Thoughts on the Book

I received this book from NetGalley, I loved the cover and the premise sounded very interesting.

My Review

This book had a lot of jumping between the present - the reunion of Magnolia and Rom, and the past - when Magnolia and Rom first started to become friends.

I half loved this book and half was annoyed by it.  The jumping back and forth got very confusing, but that could have just been the formatting of the ebook.  The end bugged me though, I might need to reread it, I can't figure out exactly what happened, what was real and what wasn't, and at what point in their lives are these two?  But that could be the entire point of the story.

Magnolia was a very weak and insecure person, while at the same time she was fantastically unique, smart, and fun.  In trying avoid dealing with people she ended up ingraining herself with a bad group of people and she wasn't able to extricate herself from them.  Rom on the other hand was unforgivably himself even though he tended to be very shy.  He never tried to change himself for other people for any reason, either people appreciated who he was and were his friends, or they didn't and he didn't spare them a second thought.

I loved the story of the two friends despite the jumpy way it was told.  The end, when both fought their demons and realized exactly what they meant to each other was fantastic.  I love how Magnolia was back in the past of the day that she made the biggest mistake of her life, while Rom's was in the present debating whether or not he should make the biggest mistake of his life.

I give this a 8/10.  I loved it, but it was somewhat difficult to read and the ending was half awesome and half "so what happened?".

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Clockwork Orange

by Anthony Burgess

Summary from GoodReads

A vicious fifteen-year-old "droog" is the central character of this 1963 classic, whose stark terror was captured in Stanley Kubrick's magnificent film of the same title.

In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to "redeem" him—the novel asks, "At what cost?"

This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess's introduction "A Clockwork Orange Resucked".

Thoughts on the Book

I've been wanting to read this one for a while.  I've heard nothing but good/crazy things about the movie, and I have a firm policy of book before movie, since 99.99999998% of the time the book is far better.  My friend recently read it, which rekindled my desire to read it, so he lent it to me and I immediately dove in not knowing what to expect from it at all other than amazingness.  Well, and a warning that the beginning is rough to get through due to the slang.

My Review

This book is about a teenager, Alex, who lives in a dismal future world where he is a victim of society.

The beginning was difficult to get through, both the slang and the subject matter.  Alex is painted right away as a character that you cannot like.  He thrills in beating up old men and gang raping women, not to mention mugging everyone in between.  That is all the first third of the book.  Once you finally get through that he's in prison and then being brainwashed, then the final third of the book is him struggling against his instincts and the effects of being brainwashed as well as getting his comeuppance, which does not teach him a single thing.  The last chapter, which was removed from the original US printing redeemed the entire story for me.  This last part was also left out of the movie.

There were no characters that I enjoyed reading about, Alex was awful, as were his droogs.  The only one that was even remotely okay was Pete, only because he mostly hung back in the first third of the book and when he made his reappearance in the last chapter he was extremely likeable.  Of the other two Georgie was awful, and got what he deserved, and Dim was the absolute worst and unfortunately the last we see of him he's happy as can be fully abusing his power.  As for other characters, when F. Alexander returned I thought he would be the one character I could like, but sadly he was quickly revealed to be an awful person, but he at least had cause for it.  His friends however were even worse.

The story is very bleak, especially without the last chapter which offers a glimmer of hope for the future.  This book isn't the greatest of stories, it's more of a anecdote of the time in which it was written.  For me A Clockwork Orange is another one of those books that people love and clamor about that I just don't get, like A Catcher in the Rye.  Granted, I did like this one far better than the latter.

Overall I give this a 7/10.  It was a good story, and as I've said the last chapter is why, I can't fathom why the New York publishers didn't want to print it, the rest of the world did!  Now I have to watch the movie, maybe then I'll understand some of the hype around it...

Friday, December 4, 2015


by Marissa Meyer

Summary from GoodReads

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Thoughts on the Book

This book made an appearance as a Waiting on Wednesday.  I read Cinder back when it was first published, and I've been hooked to the series ever since.  I remember when Cress came out we had a bad snow storm, and I had to force myself to put the book down so I could shovel.  Fortunately Winter didn't come out in February, so I didn't have to worry about shoveling snow, just raking leaves.

My Review

This book continues shortly after where Cress leaves off, but with no major developments to the story.  Everyone is still in the Rampion plotting except for Scarlet who's making friends with a wolf.

This book really introduced a new character, Winter, who was pretty awesome.  She was so smart and intuitive and really played up her lunar sickness to make herself seem pathetic and unremarkable.  We got to see a lot of returning characters as well.  Thorne was as awesome as always, as were Cinder, Iko, Scarlet, and Kai.  We got to learn a lot more about other characters like Jacin and Wolf as well as see Cress really grow - be heroic.

Reading this book I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  Some authors it's obvious they won't be killing anyone off, other authors you know no one is safe.  But with Meyer, she wasn't shy of killing characters, so you just didn't know who would survive.  Some characters were obvious she wouldn't be killing, but others, there was no coming back from what was done to them, so how could they all have a happy ending?

The ending was perfect for the series, as epic and amazing as the previous books.  Meyer did a fantastic job of tying everything together while leaving plenty of unknowns to ponder and imagine the conclusions.  I would love to read a novella that takes place years later just to see where everyone ended up and what exactly happened with everything in the works.

I give this a 10/10.  I absolutely loved this book!  What a fantastic conclusion to the series!  Pretty sure the Lunar Chronicles just made it into my top 5 favorite series ever written.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday [27]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating

This week I am waiting on Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (May 31, 2016)

Summary from GoodReads

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic — the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.

Why I'm Waiting

Illuminae was so amazing, I'm banking on that anything by Kristoff would be at least half as good, which would still be an awesome read.  Not to mention it just sounds amazing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday [26]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics

Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels I'm Looking Forward To

1 - Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira - January 12, 2016

2 - The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright - January 18, 2016

3 - The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry - January 26, 2016

4 - Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto - February 2, 2016

5 - The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig - Febrary 16, 2016

6 - The Smell of Other People's Houses  by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock - February 23, 2016

7 - After the Woods by Kim Savage - February 23, 2016

8 - Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie - March 1, 2016

9 - Unicorn Tracks by Julie Ember - April 21, 2016

10 - Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh - September 2016

Monday, November 30, 2015

November Round Up

My November

This month has pretty much sucked for me.  I barely got any reading done, I didn't get much crafty stuff done, even my nails were even polish-less for 95% of the month, and I'm single again: whoo hoo!

My house is currently under a massive renovation, which leaves us with only one bedroom, the dining room, the kitchen, and the living room mostly intact.  It's been rough.  Especially when the idiot cats get themselves stuck in the wall.  It was our black cat, so I had a nice Edger Allen Poe moment.  We only noticed he was there because of the crying.

At the beginning of the month I was in NYC for a work conference for a couple days, one of which was a Friday.  So three of my friends joined me in the city for dinner then a speakeasy.  I went back into the city two days later with my mom and we walked a crazy amount.

My friend from Long Island came up to visit and we went to the Two Roads Brewery with another friend of mine.  It was a great day following by watching some Rick and Morty and playing games (Exploding Kittens is awesome!) while drinking extra Two Roads beer.

I was back in the city a third time this month for the Holiday Spirits Booze Cruise we do for my friend's birthdays (the cruise is right in between the two).  It was a blast, despite the rain.

When I was in high school I was involved in a youth symphony, this year is the symphony's 60th anniversary so they had the alumni come back to play in their fall concert.  It was a weekend of binge violin playing since I haven't picked it up in a while.  But the concert went well and it was a lot of fun hanging out with my friends playing.

I returned to Cape Cod to have Thanksgiving at my brother's.  It was my sister-in-law's first time having to do a Thanksgiving meal, so good times!

Today I'm en-route to New Mexico to see my cousin.  It was an impromptu trip due to me having way too much vacation time that I was going to lose.  But plane rides mean reading time!

I also received another OwlCrate, so now I'm 2 for 3 for receiving books I already own signed copies of.  I loved the Cinderella tea and the strigoi battle tattoo is really cool.  The rest of the stuff in the box I thought was kind of lame.

November's Artsy Stuff

I really didn't do anything remotely artsy this month, I redid an old nail design at one point though.

November Blog News

I've been slacking on the blog front.  I've had no motivation to write reviews, so that paired with my minimal reading this month does not mean good things.  I'm hoping to get my act together in December and do some more reading and writing.  But we'll see.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Kissing Frogs

by Rich Amooi

Summary from GoodReads

Summer is finally here and Geography teacher Sara Larson has exactly one month to find the perfect date for the wedding of a high school rival. The odds seem stacked against her, but the last thing she wants is to sit at the kids’ table again. Or even worse, the singles’ table. While trudging through an assortment of certified losers, Sara fights her attraction towards Ian, the irresistible guy next door. 

Art teacher Ian McBride has a dream of opening his own gallery, but for now he’s focused on sculpting a gift for his grandparents’ fiftieth anniversary and enjoying a relaxing summer. However, Ian is blind-sided when crazy, beautiful Sara and her giant dog move in next door and rock his world. Too bad she wants nothing to do with him. 

How can Sara avoid the attraction that sizzles between them and stick to her rule of not dating neighbors? As far as Ian’s concerned, the prince Sara is looking for is right under her nose. And one kiss just might change everything. 

KISSING FROGS is a fun, fast-paced romantic comedy guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Let the fun begin!

Thoughts on the Book

I bought this one for my kindle.  I thought it looked like a cute fairy tale retelling based off of the cover.

My Review

This book was not a fairy tale retelling, it was a contemporary romance about two neighbors.

I do enjoy contemporary romances, so even though it had nothing to do with actually kissing frogs who were princes in disguise I thought I would still like it.  The end of the summary calls it "fast-paced" which is no understatement.  It went too quickly to even enjoy any of the tension.  You never really got to know either of the characters, then other characters randomly showed up for no purpose at all.  I've read my fair share of romance novellas that have been amazing, this one definitely fell short of that.  It might have been better if the characters were actually hashed out and instead of the author telling you things he let you see and experience those things.  

There was a lot of stuff that was like really?  For example Sara's first date with the guy who brought his mother along.  Or her dog eating a small box of artisan chocolates and getting sick.  I'm guessing the box of chocolates weren't 100% cocoa and there weren't a hundred of those pieces.  If that's the case, her St. Bernard would be fine.  Maybe if she had a Yorkie that ate a large box of dark chocolate that whole rushing to the vet thing would have made sense.  Do you research before you jump on topics like this for the 'thrill'.

Overall I give this a 3/10.  It was a waste of my time to read, but I was able to get through it, I guess the "fast pace" was good for something...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday [27]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating

This week I am waiting on Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira (January 19, 2016)

 Summary from GoodReads

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Why I'm Waiting

This book sounds so fun!  I love that the main love interest plays the clarinet.  I definitely have a soft spot for musicians (especially strings and woodwinds), so I'm sure I can relate to Phoebe with this.  Especially the turning to books for advice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday [25]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics

Top 10 Things I'm Thankful For

1 - My Friends - From my bestest oldest friends to my newest friends, to the ones that I see every day to the ones that moved far away that I wish I still saw every day.  Life wouldn't be the same without you guys!

2 - My Family - While sometimes they like to toy with the love/hate line, I don't know what I would do without them.

3 - My Cat - I got her in college, and she's pretty much the best, I'm sure I would freeze at night if it weren't for her snuggles.

4 - Ability to Travel - I went to Minnesota and Quebec earlier this year, Cape Cod again for Thanksgiving, and I'm going to New Mexico next week, I'm super excited, I've never been.  To top that all off I'm planning a Europe trip with a friend, which I really couldn't be more excited for.

5 - Video Streaming - Lame, I know, but I love the ability to watch all sorts of movies and tv shows so easily.

6 - Living so Close to NYC - I've been going into the city more and more as I get older and I'm loving it more and more, so many awesome bars and speakeasies.  Then there are the Broadway shows (hoping to finally see Hamilton this spring!)

7 - My Co Workers - Including those that don't count as friends, I work with a great group of people, and those that aren't great are really entertaining.

8 - Being able to Sleep in My Bed - My house is currently under crazy amounts of construction, but for almost the whole time I get to keep my bed, others are not so lucky.

9 - My Favorite Bar - It's the best experience to go to your regular bar that has the best bartender that you don't even have to think about what to order, he'll just make you a fantastic drink to go along with your awesome happy hour food.

10 - My TBR Pile - I'll never run out of reading material!

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Madness So Discreet

by Mindy McGinnis

Summary from GoodReads

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

Thoughts on the Book

This one appeared in a Waiting on Wednesday.  Needless to say I was super excited to receive it in my Owl Crate.

My Review

This book is about a girl, Grace, who is in an insane asylum because she is pregnant, unmarried, and a daughter from an affluent family.  She refuses to talk because of the injustices of life.  

All the characters in this book were great.  Grace was such an amazing protagonist.  She was so strong and put up with so much, how she stayed sane throughout everything she had to deal with is an incredible testament to her strength.  Thornhollow was another awesome character.  I was fully expecting not to like him, he started off as being described as a psychopath, and at the beginning it seemed like he might be one.  The more you get to know him you realize that he's actually not, he just doesn't show his emotions in typical ways and he has reasons for behaving like he does.  His actions at the end of the novel made him my favorite character!

The supporting characters were great as well, Lizzie was a lot of fun to read about, and I really want to know more about String!  Nell was a lot of fun too, it made her illness that much worse, especially when you find out about her past.  Even the 'bad guys' were great characters as well.  I love how this book played with the brain and why people act they way they do.  The murderer and main antagonist were not inherently evil, it was events that made them that way, and the evil wasn't so much as knowingly doing horrible stuff, but more of not understanding how to do it any other way.

I really enjoyed the story line as well, I always love it when there's a duel plot going on, especially when it's well done.  There was the serial killer Grace and Thornhollow were hunting down as well as Grace's backstory catching up to her.  It was masterfully done and wonderful to read.

I give this one a 10/10.  I loved every second of it!  I highly recommend it, but be warned it's not really a horror book, there's nothing super scary about it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fans of the Impossible Life

by Kate Scelsa

Summary from GoodReads

Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting him.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

A captivating and profound debut novel, Fans of the Impossible Life is a story about complicated love and the friendships that change you forever.

Thoughts on the Book

I got this book from BEA and it's been sitting in my TBR pile for a while.  It finally made it's way to the top and I was starting to see some great reviews for it so I picked it up to give it a read.

My Review

This book is about three teens, all with some sort of issue, Mira who suffers from depression, Sebby who lives in foster care, and Jeremy who can't quite figure out who is is.

I hated every second of this book.  The only character I could semi relate to was Mira, but even she was awful.  And the chapters?  Ugh.  How quaint, each character will be told from a different point of view.  It was horrible, especially Sebby's second person chapters. 

Let's begin with Mira.  She suffers from depression, he father gave up caring about her after she completely betrayed their trust.  She doesn't do a thing for herself no matter how many people try to support her.  She latched on the the one person who was the absolute worst for her, feeding into all of her bad habits all the while not caring one bit about her.

Then there's Jeremy.  I almost liked him, he's a shy kid growing up with two dads.  Kids at his elite school start making fun of him, to the point of he had to leave school, because if his dad is gay then he must be too.  The thing that annoyed me with him was he seemingly gave in to the pressure and was like, well, everyone things I'm gay, my dads are gay, therefore I also am gay.  Imagine if it were the opposite, a gay kid feeling like he has to be straight because his parents are and everyone around him thinks he is.  Neither scenario is okay, but Scelsa felt that if he struggling to figure out who he was, him being gay would be so much more edgy and topical.

And lastly Sebby.  By far the worst character.  He was a walking stereotype.  Flamboyantly gay, going after whatever guy he fancied.  He's a foster kid, so he steals and runs away from home, drops out of school, has zero respect for anyone and of course, turns to drugs because his life is just so horrible.  

There were so many stupid side stories that took away from the main three stories.  Way too many things going on in this book.  There was Rose and her girlfriend/ex girlfriend with all of their alluded to drama, there was their English teacher who they all got inappropriately close to which caused him to loose his job, there was the girl who helped Jeremy out the previous year that had her own drama to deal with which sort of played a part in the main story.  It was just a jumble of too many things going on and everything was left unresolved.

I think my main problem with this book was Sebby.  His chapters were too harsh and they just made me hate him.  The most unrelatable character was done in second person, all of his decisions started with 'you' so my reaction was hell no not me.  Even his very first chapter, getting a bj from some poor schmuck in the mall, and thinking that it's okay?  Turning to drugs and totally screwing over everyone who cares about him?  Hating his foster mother who really cares about him but he's too blinded by his 'woe is me' attitude.  At the end I was almost hoping for him to O.D. then the book would have at least been a cautionary tale. 

I give this book a 1.5/10.  It was a struggle to get through it and when I finally did get to the end my only reaction was 'thank god it's over'.