Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reconstructing Amelia

Author:  Kimberly McCreight
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Harper Perrenial
Pages:  380

Goodreads Summary:

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.
Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it's the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn't save.

Everywhere I look, this book is compared to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and I'd say those comparisons are valid. It's emotional and swings back and forth between the relationship and the mystery. At the end, the twists keep coming with each one being more shocking than the next. And I did not guess the ending. Looking back I guess I should have but I missed it. And I so felt for Kate and wanted her to get answers. I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE that loves a mystery with heart.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Author:  Kevin Hearne
Series:  The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 2
Year:  2011
Publisher:  Brilliance Audio
Narrator:  Luke Daniels

Goodreads Summary:

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.
With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

These books are such wonderful fun! They're exactly what urban fantasy should be - great story, wonderful paranormal creatures and lots of humor and sarcasm. I read the first book but listened to this second one on audiobook and Luke Daniel's narration is brilliant. I will definitely be listening to the rest of the series. And Oberon is probably my favorite dog in fiction. He might even be as cool as Scooby-Doo. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Author:  Max Barry
Year: 2013
Publisher:  Penguin Press
Pages:  387

Goodreads Summary:

At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics--at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as "poets", adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.
Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization's recruiters. She is flown across the country for the school's strange and rigorous entrance exams, where, once admitted, she will be taught the fundamentals of persuasion by Bronte, Eliot, and Lowell--who have adopted the names of famous poets to conceal their true identities. For in the organization, nothing is more dangerous than revealing who you are: Poets must never expose their feelings lest they be manipulated. Emily becomes the school's most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.
Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. Although he has no recollection of anything they claim he's done, it turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. Pursued relentlessly by people with powers he can barely comprehend and protected by the very man who first attacked him, Wil discovers that everything he thought he knew about his past was fiction. In order to survive, must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map.
As the two narratives converge, the shocking work of the poets is fully revealed, the body count rises, and the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless. Max Barry's most spellbinding and ambitious novel yet, Lexicon is a brilliant thriller that explores language, power, identity, and our capacity to love--whatever the cost.

This is one of the most unique and smart thrillers that I've read in a long time. Max Barry is extremely creative in the world that he builds. I love the importance of words. The convergence of his two narratives was brilliant. There were a couple of times when the narrative lulled and I'm still a little ambiguous about that ending but overall it was a great story.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Days of Blood & Starlight

Author:  Laini Taylor
Series:  Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Book 2
Year: 2013
Publisher:  Little, Brown
Pages:  513

Goodreads Summary:
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world.
Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.
While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

What one word would I use to describe this book - MAGICAL. Cause really, that's what it is. Laini Taylor creates this amazing parallel world where other creatures live that's harsh and gritty and in the midst of a horrible war but then she places these amazing characters within the world (and our world) that are full of life and laughter and beauty. She makes the two worlds contrast each other so perfectly. I love Karou and Akiva but at the same time I want to hear more about Zuse and Mik. I'm sensing companion novels here. My heart was breaking for both Karou and Akiva and I so desperately want things to work out for them. I can't wait until the final book so that I can see for myself how things work out. And when you put all these ingredients together, the end result is magical.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

One Summer, American 1927

Author:  Bill Bryson
Year: 2013
Publisher:  Doubleday
Pages:  456

Goodreads Summary:

In One Summer Bill Bryson, one of our greatest and most beloved nonfiction writers, transports readers on a journey back to one amazing season in American life.

The summer of 1927 began with one of the signature events of the twentieth century: on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he ignited an explosion of worldwide rapture and instantly became the most famous person on the planet. Meanwhile, the titanically talented Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run record, which would culminate on September 30 with his sixtieth blast, one of the most resonant and durable records in sports history. In between those dates a Queens housewife named Ruth Snyder and her corset-salesman lover garroted her husband, leading to a murder trial that became a huge tabloid sensation. Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole in Newark, New Jersey, for twelve days—a new record. The American South was clobbered by unprecedented rain and by flooding of the Mississippi basin, a great human disaster, the relief efforts for which were guided by the uncannily able and insufferably pompous Herbert Hoover. Calvin Coolidge interrupted an already leisurely presidency for an even more relaxing three-month vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The gangster Al Capone tightened his grip on the illegal booze business through a gaudy and murderous reign of terror and municipal corruption. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed and forever changed the motion picture industry. The four most powerful central bankers on earth met in secret session on a Long Island estate and made a fateful decision that virtually guaranteed a future crash and depression.
     All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.

This book took me forever to read. Not because it's not good but because it takes me a while to read nonfiction. In truth, I found this book fascinating. It is so hard to wrap my mind around so many things occurring over the course of one summer. I loved reading about the mobsters, murders and adventurers. The world seems so fun and full of adventure in this time period. I finally learned what all the fuss about Charles Lindbergh was about. Not to mention, I now know why Babe Ruth is considered such a great baseball player. This is the way history should be told.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Wait for You

Author:  Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series:  Wait for You, Book 1
Year:  2013
Publisher:  William Morrow
Pages: 360

Goodreads Summary:

Some things are worth waiting for…
Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.
Some things are worth experiencing…
Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.
Some things should never be kept quiet…
But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?
And some things are worth fighting for…

I sat down one afternoon and picked up this book expecting to read a nice, sexy little romance story and instead I got this - a serious, sexy romance with lots of feelings. I absolutely loved this book. It reminded me a lot of Easy by Tammara Webber and that's the book I measure all new adult romances by (it's my favorite). As a matter of fact, I've told a couple of friends that if they loved Easy, they'll love this book. I could gush on about how great this story is but, really, you just need to read it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Alchemist and the Executioness

Authors:  Paolo Bacigalupi & Tobias Buckell
Year:  2010
Publisher:  Audible Frontiers
Narrators:  Jonathan Davis, Katherine Kellgren

Goodreads Summary:
It is a world where magic is forbidden - yet practiced in secret every day. But each small act of magic exacts a dreadful price - for it brings the bramble, which chokes farmland, destroys villages, and kills with its deadly thorns. In this world, an alchemist believes he's found a solution to the curse. But will the cure be worse than the disease? And a woman is forced to take up the mantle of her father, the Executioner. But it will not be the only death that she faces. Available exclusively in audio, The Alchemist and the Executioness is the unique collaborative effort of two leading science fiction authors, Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell. Working together for the first time, the authors stepped out of their comfort zone (both primarily write science fiction) to delve into fantasy, producing these linked stories that share the same captivating world.

Paolo Bacigalupi has recently become one of my favorite authors. He creates this magnificent worlds that full of magic and wonder and so very well developed. I was little unsure of this story with an additional author unknown to me (sorry Tobias Buckell).  But I shouldn't have worried.  This are two beautiful interlinked stories and I fell in love with all the characters (although I have to admit that I was quite upset to leave the Alchemist and move to the Executioness). The sentences were just beautiful in these stories. If I had been reading a physical book, I would have stopped more than once to marvel over their composition. Jonathan Davis and Katherine Kellgren were wonderful narrators (as usual).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Eleanor & Park

Author:  Rainbow Rowell
Year:  2013
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Pages:  325

Goodreads Description:
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

I enjoyed this book - a lot - but it wasn't quite what I was expecting. From everything I'd heard and read, I was expecting an epic love story that most likely would leave me in tears. Instead this was  more cute and bittersweet. Eleanor and Park are very believable characters. And this story was one of the most real romances I've read. This was also one of the best alternating viewpoint books I've read. All in all, this is a great read. It's just not the fantastic read I was expecting.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Author:  Georgette Heyer
Year:  2010
Publisher:  Naxos Audiobooks
Narrator:  Richard Armitage

Goodreads Summary:
At five-and-twenty, Venetia Lanyon despairs of ever meeting the handsome hero of her romantic dreams. Then her long-absent neighbor, Lord Damerel, returns home to Yorkshire. An infamous rake, he is the most scandalous man in all of England and he has set his amorous sights on the lovely Venetia.
Determined to woo and win the fair Venetia, Lord Damerel pursues her with a passionate abandon that is soon the talk of the town. But Venetia has no intention of losing her heart to the rakish lord until she is sure that beneath his swashbuckling ways and shocking manners lies a tender heart belonging to her.

I confess:  I bought this audiobook solely because it was  narrated by Richard Armitage. I mean, come on, who wouldn't want Richard Armitage reading a romance story to them? I know it made my day. And I loved this audiobook. It was a fun, classic regency romance. I laughed out loud in parts. Other times, I felt for the position that Venetia and Lord Damerel were in. The entire time, I was so pulling for everything to work out for them. My only complaint is that this was an abridged audiobook. I would have loved an unabridged version.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chew, Volume Two: International Flavor

Author:  John Layman 
Illustrator:  Rob Guillory
Year:  2010
Publisher:  Image Comics
Pages: 128

Goodreads Description:
Tony Chu, the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from the things he eats, is on a bizarre new case. A newly discovered fruit takes Agent Chu to a remote island full of secrets, Presenting the second storyline of's pick for Best Indie Series of 2009 and MTV Splash's pick for Best New Series of 2009. Find out what the fuss is about in this latest a twisted and darkly funny comic about cops, crooks, cooks, cannibals and clairvoyants.strangeness-and a shadowy killer with a particularly sinister appetite.

This is becoming one of my favorite comic series. I love Tony Chu.  Both volumes I have read so far have had terrific mystery storylines that are a little twisted. I can't imagine eating the things that Chu eats to solve mysteries. In this volume, I liked that the author brought back Chu's former partner and paired them back up. They have a good camaraderie that adds some interesting turns in the storyline. 


Monday, January 6, 2014

2013 Challenges Wrap Up Post

Although I had a very successful 2013 in reading books, I didn't do a very good job of tailoring my books around  my challenges. Here's how I did on each particular challenge:

This was my most successful challenge. I wanted to hit the Married with Children level and I did. I read a total of 56 books off of my reading pile. Yay! Now let's double that this year.

2013 YA Audiobook Challenge

Not too good here. I wanted to read 24 YA audiobooks and I just got 14. I got caught up in a number of adult series and my time was spent listening to those instead of the YA audiobooks.

Only read seven of the desired 15 steampunk novels which is a shame because I absolutely love this genre.

This was the biggest surprise for me. I thought I read a ton of dystopian novels but I only read 14 of the desired 19 this year.  :(

I read a total of 13 graphic novels this year. Not the 24 that I wanted. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014 TBR Reading Pile Challenge

Despite reading over 150 books in 2013, I am still overwhelmed with piles of books around the house. For this reason, I am going to join up with the 2014 TBR Reading Challenge at Bookish. I am committing to the Married With Children level which is 50+ books. I think I have about 100 books laying around the house to read. Quite honestly, I'm feeling suffocated by the unread books and want to relieve some of that pressure.

I participated in the 2013 TBR Reading Challenge and did a horrible job of linking up my posts and actually "participating" with the group even though I read 53 TBR Pile books and completed my actual challenge.  Let's see if I can be more social this year. I invite you to join in the challenge and, hopefully, get some of the unread books cleaned up.

That Time I Joined the Circus

Author:  J.J. Howard
Year: 2013
Publisher:  Point
Pages:  259

Goodreads Summary:
Lexi Ryan just ran away to join the circus, but not on purpose.
A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake--and facing a terrible tragedy--Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. Rumor has it that Lexi's mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus.
When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn't there . . . but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus's fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions.
But then Lexi's ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it's Lexi's own future that's thrown into question.
With humor, wisdom, and a dazzlingly fresh voice, this debut reminds us of the magic of circus tents, city lights, first kisses, and the importance of an excellent playlist.

For some odd reason, I thought that this was going to be a magical story kinda like The Night Circus but maybe with some paranormal element. So this book wasn't what I expected at all. Lexi joins an actual normal circus (as normal as a circus can be anyhow). There are elephants, trapeze artists and fire-eaters. I loved the characters.  They were all so unique and full of life. I loved watching Lexi turn the oddball charcters in the circus into her family and, in all honesty, hoped she would stay with the circus forever. I also enjoyed the role that music played in the novel. I wonder if there's  a playlist that I can look up/download and listen to.