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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

What I Read in January

Ok folks, I seem to have forgotten how to blog. Or, rather, I can’t seem to get my blogging mojo off the ground. In my defence I’m going through some stuff and there are too many things that are overwhelming me. Being online, blogging, social media… those are a big chunk of the GAH! feelings so I have been avoiding the internet as much as possible. It’s helping me so that’s good. On the other hand, I miss blogging and having handy reference of what I read online, so here I am with a mini update!

I managed to read 7 books in total throughout January! This was surprising to me since I didn’t think I’d actually gotten that many read! I read some great books and some not-so-great books and here’s my rundown in one post because I’m just not up to multiple blog posts right now.

Reconstructing Amelia
by Kimberly McCreight

In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she 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. By 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. (goodreads.com)

This book was the first Featured Book from the 50 Book Pledge hosted by The Savvy Reader. It sounded pretty interesting and I was looking for less YA novels and more adult ones. I’m feeling mystery or suspensy these days and very little is holding my attention, I had hoped that this book would be a nice change of pace – I wasn’t wrong! This was a great mystery to read and I think it would be a prefect bridge-book between adult and YA fiction since the story is told in two points of view – that of Amelia and her mother. This has the added bonus of a Prep school. It’s not a boarding school, but there are still rich kids being all mysterious and secret societies! I love that stuff. Woo!

Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum, #19)
by Janet Evanovich

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don’t just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don’t do what Tiki tells you to do.

I saw a bunch of complaints about this nineteenth book in the Stephanie Plum series, but I didn’t think it was that bad. I am seriously hoping for some sort of character progression in Stephanie’s case over time, but ultimately this book made me laugh. Laughter is something I seriously look for in one of these mystery novels. I also love me some steamy Ranger scenes and although he was in the story a lot, there wasn’t a ton of steam. I don’t know if the love triangle will ever be resolved, but Morelli is getting a tad boring for my liking. He used to be a bad boy and now he’s just feeling like an old man. Hmm. At least Stephanie seems to be slightly more competent in her bail bondsman job. She’s not always failing miserably and I will admit to a certain amount of glee every time one of her cars blows up! Hee!

The Gospel of Winter
by Brendan Kiely

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s. (goodreads.com)

This one was sent to be by Simon & Schuster Canada after an email exchange I had with my pub rep. Once she told me it had been one of her favourites I admitted I was extra curious about it. It’s certainly a subject that’s pretty taboo and not often written about. I didn’t see many favourable reviews on goodreads for this one so I was apprehensive as I began it but I was surprised by how much I liked it. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing (now majorly lapsed) but this story was pretty riveting and I thought, well told. I liked Aidan a lot, too. As troubling as the story itself was I found the book to be quiet and calm, sort of like a snowfall. It was sort of nice to read an “issue novel” from the point of view of a male protagonist, too. I am very happy that I was able to have included this novel in my 2014 reading.

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, Book 1)
by Marie Rutkoski

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. (goodreads.com)

Release date: March 4, 2014

You might have seen photos of the epic packaging floating around the internet for the ARCs of The Winner’s Curse – they came with a dagger! I didn’t get the epic packaging, but my friend did send me an ARC and although this doesn’t come out until March, since I was so desperate to read a book that I could connect with I tried this one out. It’s an easy read and a nice fantasy but my problem with it was the constant pining between Kestrel and Arin. I wrote this on Goodreads, “I’d really like someone to write a YA fantasy novel that isn’t just a romance in disguise. I wanted to like this one more than I did but there was just too much pining between Kestrel and Arin and it overshadowed all the rest. 🙁” I KNOW Rutkoski can write an amazing fantasy novel because I adored her middle grade  Kronos Chronicles trilogy. I think the problem here is that YA novels always have to have this stupid OMG I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU UR SO PRETTY ZOMG! theme to them and I am so, so tired of that crap. Do I want to continue with the series? Probably. Mostly out of curiosity though.

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, Book 2)
by Sarah J Maas

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her. (goodreads.com)

Oh, look. Another YA fantasy novel that’s 80% PINING! This sequel to The Throne of Glass might just have ended the series for me. The first half of the book is all about how Celeana and Chaol can’t be together because OMG THE LUST and OMG THE DISTRACTION! And let’s not forget about how Darion can’t even look at her because OMG SHE WANTS CHAOL! Ugh. Then (SPOILERS) there’s this entire section of the book that’s nothing but sexsexsexsexsexsex all of the time and I just wanted to throw the book across the room in disgust because it added NOTHING to the story. Nothing. Nada. The last quarter of the book things got more interesting but then we’re totally thrown for a loop with a plot twist that I am still trying to decide between it being obvious and unoriginal or a surprise. Jury is still out on that one. I didn’t even like Celaena anymore. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with this series or not. We’ll see how I’m feeling when the next book comes out.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her–to play Batman to her Robyn–whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive  (goodreads.com)

Now THIS book was FANFREAKINGTASTIC! I picked it up for my Kobo with some gift cards I’d gotten at Christmas. I bought this one on the recommendation of my naturopath of all people. When I went to an appointment in January she mentioned having just read a great YA novel about teens with OCD and that totally piqued my interest. I am so happy that I found out about this book because it was just amazing. Yes, there is romance-ish between Adam and Robyn but it’s not the over-the-top swoony kind that you get in most novels these days. This book is so raw and real and just heartwarming you are rooting for Adam the entire time. This was a great story about mental illness that will make you laugh and cry and feel uncomfortable but also happy and hopeful. It even has a bit of a mystery within the story that kept me on my toes until the end. I know I’ve only read seven books (now 8, since I just finished one in February) so far, but this is the best one I have read so far.

The Shadow Society

 The Shadow Society
by Marie Rutkoski

Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . . (goodreads.com)

It is no secret that I loved each and every one of Marie Rutkoski’s Middle Grade series, the Kronos Chronicles, so of course I was delighted to find out she was writing a paranormal YA novel. When I read the summary, it sounded like something I would enjoy though I was sceptical of the love  interest angle, because I am so, so, so very tired of YA books being all about insta-love and romance and not as much about the mystery or suspense.

I am sad to say that this book took me a very long time to get into. I started and stopped it numerous times because I just wasn’t connecting with Darcy or any of the other characters. One sleepless night at the end of June I finally decided to plow through the story and was surprised to find that more than half-way through I was starting to find it much more interesting.

I think this book has a slow start – too slow for my liking. I really don’t like to abandon books unless they are absolutely horrid and written poorly. The Shadow Society  wasn’t anything like that, it just started too slow for me to really sink my teeth into.

Although the story was more interesting as soon as Darcy finds herself in an alternate universe, I still wasn’t wowed. I finished the book without much fanfare. I’m pretty sad that it didn’t hook me like I had hoped it would. I just had so much trouble connecting with the characters and for me, that is something that breaks my heart. I want to love the people I am reading about. I want to be on their side and root for them and cheer when they accomplish things, but I couldn’t.

For me, The Shadow Society was just.. okay. I don’t know if it was because of my mindset these days or what, because it was written very well, I just felt no connection. No spark. It really hurts me when I want to love a book so much and I can’t make it work out no matter how hard I try. Some books, like people, are just meant to be acquaintances and not best friends or soul mates. This is one of those books, as much as I wanted our relationship to be more. Alas.

The Jewel of the Kalderash

The Jewel of the Kalderash (Kronos Chronicles, #3)
by Marie Rutkoski

Upon arriving in the Romany homeland to deliver the Mercator Globes, Petra Kronos, Tomik, and Neel formulate a plan to save Petra’s father, who has been transformed into a Gray Man. But when a long-held secret is revealed, Neel finds himself bound to his country. The friends are quickly swept up in an epic battle for power. Thrones are at stake. Spies are afoot. Murder is common. Worst of all, Prince Rodolfo is close to becoming emperor, and ruling half of Europe.

How much is Petra willing to sacrifice to defend the people she loves? Her search for answers will take her to castles and cities, through mountains, and even underwater as she tests her strength and gambles her life. (goodreads.com)

Release date: October 25, 2011

I promise I am not reading books that are releasing in the Fall just to taunt you! I just happen to be dying to read them and I didn’t even look at the release date on this once since it’s not a review book – it was a gift! (THANK YOU!) As you might remember from my gushing over this series earlier this year, I love the Kronos Chronicles! Once I had this third book in my hands I just couldn’t wait!

I sort of thought that Petra, Tomik and Neel were going to the Romany homeland to GET the jewel from the Kalderash. At least that is what my memory told me. Apparently I was recalling the end of the second book wrong? Some surprising things happen in this third (and final?) book and I realized two things – I no longer like Petra, she seems rather bratty and self-centered. I liked her very much in that first book and pretty sure enough in the second, but I hated her in this book. I just wanted to smack her and say “Will you maybe take a second to think of someone other than YOURSELF for a while? You don’t want to hide, but in doing so you are endangering the lives of your friends! You selfish little brat!”

The second think I noticed is that I really, truly liked Neel. I was sort of whatever about him for most of the series and didn’t take him very seriously because he seemed the brat until they arrive to his homeland and he grows up – a lot. I was enjoying the chapters about him and his part of the story much more than the ones about Petra and Tomik.

Everyone seems to have a cameo in this last (?) book. Iris, who is the something of someplace titled (I can’t recall and I never actually realized they were talking about her when they’d rattle off her titled name, so I am sticking with Iris. ;)) John Dee and his daughters (although the daughters were mentioned and didn’t actually say anything.) Even Sadie over at the Prince’s palace was around.

Oh, and the Prince! Whereas I found him evil and creepy like anything in the first book, he was sort of an unimpressive bad guy this time around. I think that was mostly because he was on the peripheral of the story and not directly involved with the characters until the end. Those Grey Men freak me out, though.

I still think the first book is my favourite in this series, but I loved each book that has followed in its own way. My one problem with The Jewel of the Kalderash was my dislike of Petra. It was so strong that I wasn’t enjoying her parts of the story as much as I wanted to. She treats people like crap (mostly Tomik and Neel). I just don’t like the person she has become and I am certain that was shaped by what’s been going on with her. However, I have read other fantasy stories where the protagonist goes through a lot and is still able to think of others as well during their struggles. Petra just loses sight of everyone else and focuses on her, her, her and saving her father. People died because of her and she needed to think of that but she didn’t it seemed.

Oh, and there are a couple of parts in the story that had me close to tears – once at the stupid hair salon while I was under the cooker for 30 minutes!! They had to do with Astrophil who is the ONLY spidery type thing I will EVER care for. Thankfully I didn’t burst into tears in public (or later, at home) because what I thought was happening didn’t. Still. I couldn’t believe I was so attached to a SPIDER (metallic or not). I will miss him the most from these books and sort of wish I had an Astrophil of my very own.
Kronos Chronicles

  1. The Cabinet of Wonders
  2. The Celestial Globe
  3. The Jewel of the Kalderash

In My Mailbox #45

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.
All my IMM posts can be found here!

Ok, so I probably shouldn’t have done a video just after waking up when it was already 32C outside and humid and my nose is stuffed up something fierce after spending yesterday outside most of the day for my 6th wedding anniversary… but I did. I sound like I alternate between total space cadet and super snooty snob girl – I promise you I am neither!!

Books mentioned:

Bought from Book Depository UK

  • Hexbound – Chloe Neill
  • Forgotten –  Cat Patrick
  • Blood Magic – Tessa Gratton

Gifted (THANK YOU!!)

  • The Jewel of the Kalderash  – Marie Rutkowski

Bought from Chapigo

  • HEARTLESS!!!!! – Gail Garriger
  • Once Ever Never – Lesley Livingston

Peeps mentioned in le video blog:

Jenny from Wondrous Reads

The Celestial Globe

The Celestial Globe (The Kronos Chronicles, #2)
by Marie Rutkoski

When Prince Rodolfo’s monsters attack her, Petra Kronos is spirited away to London.  As she struggles to escape, Neel and Tomik sail the high seas, in search of her. Though separated by many miles, the three friends draw closer together in this sequel to The Cabinet of Wonders, called “astonishingly accomplished” by Publishers Weekly. Readers will not be disappointed in this adventure-filled novel that includes man-made monsters, the unraveling of a murder mystery, and the hunt for the Celestial Globe, which the prince of Bohemia will do anything to own. (goodreads.com)

I don’t quite like the summary on Goodreads, but I’m a creature of habit and I don’t feel like searching longer for a better on on the internets. =P The Celestial Globe is a fantastic sequel to The Cabinet of Wonders! I had the usual apprehension when embarking on a follow-up book to one I adored completely, but that apprehension vanished within the first couple of pages.

Why am I always so fascinated by stories of espionage and murder? Maybe in a past life I was a spy. Who knows? What I do know is that I loved the element of who dunnit in regards to the murder of one of the Queen’s men and how that involved John Dee and Petra and those around them. I wasn’t as keen on the parts on the ship with Tomik and Neel but I slowly came around to their accidental friendship. I shall sheepishly admit I was happy when the story went back to focusing on Petra though.

The main reason for that, and I swear this is the only time I will ever admit something like this, was because of Astrophil. Darn it! I love that spider! And he’s a SPIDER so I shouldn’t even be able to read about him without breaking out into a rash and feeling terrified. I am unhealthily afraid of spiders.

But I love Astrophil so much.

The back of the book has “Trust No One” written before the summary in large font and I have to say that is a very apt warning for this story. Just when I thought I was trusting the right person it turned out I was. Not one character followed the path I was certain they were going to take. The plot kept me guessing until the end when I started to piece together what was going to happen.

I still found this sequel to be folkish and charming even though it had a totally different feel from The Cabinet of Wonders. I have been told by some that they did not like this book as much as the first and whereas I can see why, I think I liked both equally but for different reasons. I find this story so utterly enrapturing that I don’t know if I can wait for the paperback of the third book to be released in more than a year. I would love to see where the author takes Petra, Neel and Tomik in her next book – the land of the Roma.

I wish there had been stories like these when I was a middle grade reader, I would have devoured them in one sitting as I do now!

Kronos Chronicles

  1. The Cabinet of Wonders
  2. The Celestial Globe
  3. The Jewel of the Kalderash