Book, Book Review, reading

This Year in Books… So Far

What have you been reading? And of those, what would you recommend?

This is what I’ve read so far this year:

  1. The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
  2. The Orphan Witch by Paige Crutcher
  3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
  4. Batman: Three Jokers (comic)
  5. The Haunted Bookstore 1 by Shinobumaru
  6. Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
  7. The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow
  8. The Dreaming Volume 3 (comic)
  9. Orlando by Virgina Woolf
  10. Lumberjanes Volume 1 (comic)
  11. Clive Barker’s Next Testament (comic)
  12. Paper Girls Volume 1) (comic)
  13. The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
  14. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  15. Paper Girls Volume 2 (comic)
  16. Paper Girls Volume 3 (comic)
  17. The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
  18. Paper Girls Volume 4 (comic)
  19. Paper Girls Volume 5 (comic)
  20. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
  21. Beautiful Chaos
  22. The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco
  23. Locke and Key Volume 2 (comic)
  24. Locke and Key Volume 3 (comic)
  25. Locke and Key Volume 4 (comic)
  26. Locke and Key Volume 5 (comic)
  27. Locke and Key Volume 6 (comic)
  28. The Death Cure by James Dashner
  29. Beautiful Redemption
  30. The Kill Order by James Dashner
  31. The Fever Code by James Dashner
  32. Redder Days by Sue Rainsford
  33. Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut

There is still a lot of year left, and I’ll be reading more but not many more. I’m currently editing my own novel, and I tend not to read as much when I’m doing that, simply because of time. And, then November is when I don’t have time to read practically anything because I usually participate in NANOWRIMO.

This year I’ve tried to finish reading a few series that I started ages ago, and I’ve been reading more comics than normal because I discovered that my local library has a pretty great comic selection.

For the novels I’ve read this year, there have been a couple of highlights. Basically, anything by Rin Chupeco. I wrote about this recently: see my previous post about her: Why I Love Rin Chupeco.

The other two books that I would highly, highly recommend are The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow and Redder Days by Sue Rainsford. They’re both great, and if you don’t want to know why I think so, stop reading now, otherwise… SPOILER ALERT.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow

This book is brilliant. I loved every word. It’s historical fiction that incorporates witch lore and women’s rights issues. The use of familiar nursery rhymes and fairy tales interwoven into the storyline is fantastic. It’s so clever. It’s about three sister witches fighting against an ancient evil as well as trying to be non-traditional women in a time when they weren’t allowed to.

Redder Days by Sue Rainsford

I couldn’t put this down. I read it in one sitting. If you haven’t read Sue Rainsford first book, Follow Me to Ground, go read it too. Both of her books are weird in the best possible way. Redder Days is about two children, twins, born in a commune that formed when the world was ending. However, the world didn’t really end, and these two children are brain washed. Every character in this book is a little crazy. This book falls into my favorite category of Literature — The Weird Tale. I can’t explain what it is, but you’ll know it when you read it. This book holds up that standard. Let me also say this, every author hopes they write at least one story as great as the two novels by Sue Rainsford. I will be reading whatever she writes in the future.

Anywho, enough rambling for today. Get out there and have a great day!

Happy reading and writing today and every day!

Book, Book Review

Why I Love Rin Chupeco’s Writing

Sometimes I blog about writing (most of the time), but every once in a while, I like to ramble about what I’ve been reading. Last fall, right around Halloween, I read The Bone Witch.  

If you are familiar with the series, you know it’s by Rin Chupeco. Since reading that book, I’ve read many more of her books. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I love her books.

I’ve read the first two of the Bone Witch trilogy and am currently reading the third. I’ve read The Girl from the Well and just bought the second book The Suffering.  

I’ve also read both the books in the Never Tilting World set. Honestly, as soon as a I get a chance, I’ll be reading the other books she’s written too.  

The question you may be asking is why do I love her books so much…  

  1. The Pacing 
  • Her books are full of adventure, and they just go. I find them hard to put down.  
  • If you’ve read my books or my short stories, it’s the kind of pacing I like to write as well.  
  1. The Viewpoints 
  • In the Never Tilting World books, each chapter is a different viewpoint, and she rotates through them for the rest of the book. I love this. The story is told from so many different perspectives. It gives details and insights that would be missed in a different narrative style. 
  • In the Bone Witch Trilogy, there are two narrators, and their differing viewpoints add layers to the story.  
  1. The Grey Characters 
  • What I mean by this is there are characters in her books who are neither good nor bad.  
  • She writes some very strong good guys and some epic villains, but my favorite characters in her books tend to be the ones who are a bit of both.  
  • The Bone Witch Trilogy centers around a bone witch, think necromancer.  
  • In the Never Tilting World books, one of the main characters has to endure trials that give her both light and dark magics.  
  • In The Girl from the Well, a ghost helps free the souls of lost children, and at the same time, kills the people who’ve harmed those children.  
  • I can’t get enough of this type of character!  

As you can see, I really love her books. If you like Young Adult Fantasy / Adventure / Horror, read one of her books, or maybe two or three.  

As always, happy reading and writing today and every day! GO READ A BOOK!  

Book Review

Authors I’m in Love With…

I want to take a few minutes to write about a few authors I’m currently in love with. I read a lot, and I go through periods where I read some authors or genres more than others.

There are some authors that I gravitate towards again and again. Here are a few I recommend:

  1. Christina Henry
  2. Naomi Novik
  3. Jasper Fforde

Christina Henry

The first book I read by her was Alice. It’s part of a series she’s written titled the Chronicles of Alice. It’s a retelling of the Alice in Wonderland story, but it’s unlike any other version that I’ve read. It’s dark and gritty. The magic in Henry’s Alice stories taints and warps those who use it. If you like stories set in wonderland, you’ll enjoy her stories. (They’re not for children). To my knowledge, there is one more book and a collection of short stories set in Henry’s version of wonderland.

I’ve read other books by Henry, and I’ve never been disappointed. I also highly recommend The Ghost Tree. Henry’s stories tend to retell stories we’re familiar with, but in macabre versions with dark, twisted magic.

Naomi Novik

She’s been writing for a while, and I haven’t read everything she’s written. However, if you haven’t read Uprooted or Spinning Silver, you should. Her fantasy stories are beautiful.

Spinning Silver is a book I recommend to everyone.

Jasper Fforde

I can’t say enough about how much I love Fforde. His Thursday Next series is one of my favorite series of all time. He also wrote the Nursery Crime stories. His books are funny, satirical, and unbelievably clever.

He writes a lot of other books too. If you haven’t read anything by him, I would start with the Thursday Next books. Other books by Fforde that I recommend are Early Riser, The Constant Rabbit, and Shades of Grey. (Despite the title of Shades of Grey, it is not like 50 Shades. It’s a dystopic novel.)

These few words don’t really do these authors justice. I love them all (and many others) but seriously, you will not be disappointed by these three.

Happy reading and writing today!

Photo by Pixabay on
Book, Book Review

A Peculiar Peril: Book Review

I’m going to do something that I don’t do very often… review a book. I personally am not a fan of book reviews. They are either rave reviews or really hateful. You rarely find anything in between. So, as a reader and writer, I kind of ignore them. Additionally, I pretty much like something about every book I read. I rarely read something and want to give it less than three stars.

However, I’m going to review a book I recently finished. If you plan on reading A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer, don’t read any further; there will be spoilers.

The reason I want to review this book is because I’m hoping someone can help me find some clarity after reading it. I honestly don’t know (even though I read all 600+ pages of it) whether or not I like it or not. I find it odd that after reading that many pages I can’t decide. Parts of the book confuse me.

Because I’m not sure about my feelings for this particular tome, I’m going to ask a series of questions about the book and then proceed to immediately answer them.

Question 1: Why is this book in the YA lit section?

I read a fair amount of YA lit and I just don’t think this belongs there. I think that perhaps the publishers felt that because the main characters are teens, it should be YA lit. I can also see that it has an Alice in Wonderland meets Chronicles of Narnia on speed vibe, but that’s not enough for it to be in the YA lit section. I really believe that most YA readers would start this book and then not finish it because of the style (more about that later).

I say that it has vibes from other stories, and by that I mean that it is a story about parallel worlds and in those worlds animals talk. There is also a series of magical doors involved. That, however, is where the comparison ends.

If I were asked to categorize this book, I would put it with “Weird Tales.” I love weird tales btw. It’s one of my favorite type of stories to read.

Someone asked me what is a weird tale? My answer: you know it when you read it.

That’s how I felt when I read this book. It belongs with adult lit, and with the weird tales, wherever they are.

Question 2: Was he drinking?

I’m being completely serious. The reason I ask this is because almost all of the conversations between characters in this book are impossible to follow. It reminds me of being in a room with drunk people and you’re the only one sober. There are 10 conversations going on and no one is having the same one, but they are all talking to each other anyway.

At first I thought maybe the author was trying to be silly, but it continues throughout the whole book (did I mention it’s 600+ pages)?

The stilted conversations are not the only style choice that I struggled with. There were what felt like an unnecessary amount of puns and play on words. I’m not sure what the point of most of them were. All the double meanings and trick word play and weird conversations made whole sections of the novel very hard to follow.

I think most of what I find odd about this style is simply a choice the author made. Perhaps it makes more sense if you drink while you read it? (Again, should not be in the YA lit section if it requires alcohol to understand).

Question 3: Why are there so many characters?

This is not the first author to include an astronomical number of characters (anyone heard of Charles Dickens), but some of the characters didn’t even appear until page 500 or so. Additionally, because the author likes puns, some of the characters have nick names given to them by other characters.

And then what felt like randomly a character we hadn’t heard from in 100+ pages would show up again. IDK but sometimes I felt like I was falling into a rabbit hole. And other times I started to wonder if maybe there were pages from a different book accidentally printed with mine…


Further investigation is needed. I have added another VanderMeer book to my TBR list because I am curious if this is his style or if this was something new for him. I am going to figure this out.

Plus, despite the length of this book, the story isn’t finished and if the next part is published, I will be reading it. I have to know where all this nonsense was going.

Ultimately, I did find the plot engaging. It’s about parallel worlds, and big baddies versus inept teenagers. There are also lots of spies and wars going on. Distilled down to it’s essential plot, it’s a great story, and I really do want to know where it’s going.

Anyway, that’s enough from me….

Happy reading and writing today!

Cover of A Peculiar Peril
Book Review

This Year in Reading…

I have been meaning to write this post for awhile (since June actually), but I haven’t gotten around to it till now. I wanted to discuss what I’ve been reading this year.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve read so far this year:

  • 1.Chistmas Cake Murder
  • 2. The Gate Thief
  • 3. Origin
  • 4. The Gatefather
  • 5. Dark Matter
  • 6. Hocus Pocus + Sequel
  • 7. Mortal Engines
  • 8. Beautiful Creatures
  • 9. Early Riser
  • 10. DuckTales: Treasure Trove
  • 11. And Then There Were None
  • 12. The Dark is Rising
  • 13. The Mists of Avalon
  • 14. Jem: The Outrageous Collection
  • 15. The Roller Birds of Rampur
  • 16. Bridget Jones Diary
  • 17. Symptoms of Being Human
  • 18. Waiting to Exhale
  • 19. Soul Music
  • 20. Swordbird
  • 21. Ararat
  • 22. The Mermaid
  • 23. The Dreaming Volume 1
  • 24. The Book of Speculation
  • 25. The Girl in Red
  • 26. Artemis Fowl
  • 27. The Hunger

As you can see, I read a variety of things. This year I’ve read some young adult fiction, graphic novels, a couple of thrillers, some sci-fi / fantasy, and even an Agatha Christie classic. I try to read from a variety of genres because I tend to not get bored that way or hit reading slumps too hard.

I just wanted to mention briefly some of the highlights of my reading year so far.

  1. Symptoms of Being Human
  2. Dark Matter
  3. The Book of Speculation

The first because it’s an important book for right now in our society. It challenges the notion that gender is binary. I feel everyone needs to read this book now, with an open mind, and really let it sink in.

The second book because it is smart sci-fi (which is my favorite genre to read). It’s not about space or aliens, but about parallel universes, and the chaos that would ensue if we could travel between them. I could not put this one down when I started. Highly recommend!

The third because I bought it on the discount book shelf and didn’t expect it to be as great as it was. It’s about a family and their neighbors and how their lives are all intertwined in ways even they don’t understand. There are mermaids and carnies and a house falling into the ocean. Seriously, great read.

Anyway, I just wanted to touch on a few of these. Happy reading and writing this month!!

One of my book shelves…
Book Review

Book review: Altered Carbon

It’s time for my mid-month (or slightly later in this case) check-in. I am working on several projects this month. I am writing the short story of the month, prepping for “Writing Camp” in July which I am doing with one of my sisters, so I am super excited, and I am starting a letter writing project with another sister.

In addition to these things, I wanted to break from my tradition of having my second post be about my writing struggles for the month and do something I haven’t done in quite awhile (so bear with me) — a BOOK REVIEW.


This month I read Altered Carbon. I read it because my sister recommended the show to me, but I prefer to read than to watch tv. Anyway, I LOVED IT!! I highly, highly recommend it.

I felt like I was “reading” a graphic novel. It was violent and gritty. The fight scenes were bloody, graphic, and really well written. (I enjoy a good fight scene).

In addition to being violent and brutal, it’s a detective story mixed with a dystopic sci-fi tale. It takes place on Earth in a galaxy that has been colonized and has changed because people don’t have to die anymore. They can be “re-sleeved” and placed into other bodies, even synthetic ones.

 I don’t want to give anything specific away. Go and read it.

Book Review

4 Book Review of Hannibal Lecter Series

Last month, I read all four of the Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris. I admit that I have seen most of the movies before I read the books, and recently, I watched the first season of the show Hannibal. The reason I decided to read these is that I was wondering why Hannibal is such a popular villain. I have seen allusions to him in other novels, in comic books, and various TV shows.

After reading the books, I get it. He’s a really well written bad guy. He is just evil for the sake of being evil… or is he? After I finished the series I saw him a bit differently.


Let me begin by describing my general thoughts about the series of books. My strongest reaction to these books is that they seem to be written by different people. Stylistically, they are very different. And, even though they are considered a 4 book series, I wouldn’t even classify them as the same genre.

The four books I think should be read in the order they were written.

  1. Red Dragon
  2. Silence of the Lambs
  3. Hannibal
  4. Hannibal Rising

The reason I say they don’t fit into the same genre is that the first two books are what I would consider crime thrillers. Both stories are about the FBI tracking a serial killer, and in their hour of desperation, they consult with Hannibal Lecter because he has unique insight into killers.

As a reader, you learn a lot about Lecter in these two books. He is depicted as pure evil, and he likes to manipulate people. He is kind of humorous in a dark, grotesque kind of way. I think readers like him because in the first two books at least, he is a very well written villain, and he is also smart and often finds ways to manipulate the very people who have him locked up. In the first book, he toys with Graham, an FBI agent who has trouble with crime scenes because he experiences pure empathy. In the second book, Lecter meets Agent Starling.

These two books are fairly typical for crime dramas. There is a clear bad guy, clear good guys, and in the end, the bad guy is taken down by the hero or because of the hero’s actions. However, how these books differ from the normal crime thriller is that the character of Lecter is presented in a way that you want him to escape, even though he is a known serial killer. And unlike the TV show Dexter, Lecter is not a serial killer who hunts down “bad guys.” Lecter likes to kill people who he finds rude, which is most people. He really is evil but you will be rooting for him anyway.

After the first two books, I expected the third, Hannibal, to be similar — it’s not. The third book is about Hannibal on the run and Starling trying to find him and a man named Mason trying to get his revenge on Lecter. Again in this book, we are made to feel sympathetic to Lecter. We don’t want him to get killed by Mason and his man-eating pigs. We want Lecter to be free, and I personally couldn’t wait for him to “get” Agent Krendler who is determined to bring down Starling simply because he’s a chauvinist.

This book is not a crime thriller like the rest. I would call it a thriller, but it is not necessarily about crime. It’s about revenge and some very crazy people.

By the end of the book, I was beginning to doubt Starling’s sanity as well. The biggest surprise to me was that in the end, Starling decides to “love” Lecter. I seriously thought, “What the hell?” I feel like the author thought that would be a really twisted ending after everything that Lecter has done and so Harris changed Starling to fit that role. It annoyed me a little because I felt like she was suddenly a different character.

This brings me to the fourth book, which is a prequel to the entire series. Of all the books, I liked this one the least. Just as Harris rewrote the character of Starling in the third book, the last book provides “justification” for why Lecter is the way he is. I didn’t like it. I thought he was a much stronger character when he was just evil for the sake of being evil. Instead, the fourth book tells the story of his childhood and how he becomes evil because he witnesses some Nazis eating his sister. Anyone would be crazy after that.

Another reason I didn’t like this book as much as the others was that it’s not a thriller like the others. I guess I would call it a psychological drama or something like that. There are still “bad guys.” And again we are made to sympathize with Lecter, but I felt like Harris was forcing it. He was forcing me to feel sorry for Lecter, and I enjoyed reading about him more when I didn’t feel sorry for him.

Overall, they are still page turners. I finished each one in a day. I get why people read them when they were originally published, and I get why they turned them into movies. (Especially the third book. It reads like a script at times rather than a novel).

And my final conclusion about the Lecter series, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, is that I like the movies and the TV show better. I very rarely say that about novels vs. their big and little screen counterparts, but in this case, I would say, watch the movie. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal is fantastic and really creepy. And I’ve only seen the first season of the TV show Hannibal, but so far, it’s really great. I can’t wait to see where they go with it.

Book Review

Review of the Nebula Awards Showase 2013

Every year I try to read the Nebula Awards Showcase anthology. If you don’t know, the Nebula Awards are given for Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writing. I look forward to the collection every year. And last year, I started ordering the older copies from (I love that site). I almost have every year now.

Anyway, when I read, I have a tendency to compare what I’m reading to other things that I’ve read. I try to judge a book on its value alone but in this case, I can’t help it. So, as I was reading the 2013 collection, I was comparing it to the 2012 anthology.

In all honesty, I thought the 2012 collection was better. Now, to be fair though, there are still some really great stories in the 2013 set that I would highly recommend. However, the new book just didn’t wow me like last year’s did.

Before I talk about some of the stories that I did like, I wanted to add one other thing you should know about the Nebula Awards collections. They usually feature poetry. Yes, you read that right. Sci-fi or fantasy poetry. And I’m here to tell you, it can be pretty weird.

Weird poetry aside, some stories that I think are really great from this collection:nebula awards

1. “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu

  • This story is truly magical. It’s about the relationship between a mother and her son. I don’t want to tell you more than that, because it’s really, really, really great.
  • It’s one of those stories that isn’t your typical sci-fi or fantasy story but I’m so glad it’s in this collection.

2. The Ice Owl” by Carolyn Ives Gilman

  • I love this story! I couldn’t get over the complexity of the universe that this author created just for a short story. It’s about a girl and her learning about the past. It’s also about an ice owl, but I won’t tell you what happens other than that.
  • When I finished reading this, I was hoping there was more. I would love to read a novel length work set in the universe created by this author.

3. Excerpt from Among Others by Jo Walton

  • This, as you can guess from the title, was a snippet of a novel that they included.
  • The novel is now on my “To Read” list.
  • The excerpt introduces us to one of the main characters, a girl, who is about to go to boarding school. I can’t add more than that, not because I don’t want to give anything away, but because there’s not much else to go on from the snippet. I have to admit one of the reasons I say this is worth reading is because it peaked my curiosity and now I need to know what happens.

4. “Sauerkraut Station” by Ferrett Steinmetz

  • If you only had time to read one story from the collection, this would be my choice.
  • Unlike some of the other stories, this story is more typical. It has some known sci-fi devices. It is set on a space station. There is a war going on that involves two different factions with different belief systems.
  • What isn’t typical about this story. The main character is a girl who lives with her female relatives and together they run a “truck stop” in space. In particular, their station is known as “Sauerkraut Station” because they serve sauerkraut that they make themselves right on the station.
  • I can’t explain why exactly this was my favorite out of all of them, other than I just thought it was really well written. For a short story, it was very complex.

5. “Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgersen

  • This story is about our world after aliens have arrived and blocked out our sun. In order to survive, the humans that endure are forced to live deep in the ocean near vents that produce heat.
  • The story is also about the generation of children who are born down in the ocean. They want to see the sun. They form a “cult” like group that worships the sun. Eventually, the teens steal some subs and make their way to the surface because no one has been to the surface in years. Guess what they find when they get there…. I’m not telling. Read the story. It’s good.

There are many more in this collection but I felt like those five were the highlights. One of the things I love about the Nebula collections is a lot of time the stories that are featured aren’t your typical sci-fi and fantasy. There aren’t a lot of dragons or light sabers. Instead, there are a lot of characters in a vast array of settings surviving and being a part of some very unique universes.

Book Review

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

bone peopleBooker Prize Winner in 1985

I have mixed feelings about this book but I will get into that in a second. I also have to confess that because I hadn’t heard of the book before my sister gave it to me, I looked it up and read some short reviews on I found the reviews fascinating, especially after I read the book. There was one review that basically boiled down to the person saying, “I hated this book.” There were also people who felt kind of ‘meh’ about the whole thing, and there were a few who actually liked it.

I don’t feel like I fit into any of those categories. As I said, I have mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed this book. I think it was beautifully written and engaging. I had hard time putting it down. The reason for my mixed feelings though has to do with the content of the story. Fair warning, spoilers coming.

The central plot of the story is about a woman, a man, and the man’s adopted son. At one point in the story, we learn that the boy is being beaten – severely beaten. As readers, we feel sorry for him because in addition to being beaten, we know he comes from a traumatic past and has some physical handicaps as a result of that past. The plot though, as they say, thickens because later in the novel we learn that his father is the one who has been beating him the whole time.

At that point, I honestly thought why doesn’t the woman just beat him to death (believe me, she is capable). So, a little boy is being beaten by his father and the other adults in the boy’s life know about it and do nothing about it. That isn’t actually the part that bothered me. What bothered me is that at the end of the novel, the boy is beaten so badly that he is hospitalized, and they don’t know if he’ll wake up. He does. And then after what I would consider a very short time, he goes back to live with the same people.

The same family that let him get beat every time his father was drunk gets him back. ⊲That right there is why I have mixed emotions about “liking” this story.

I like it because it is so well written, so the people who got hung up on the novel’s use of Maori words need to let that go. I didn’t find the author’s use of another language problematic at all.

I like it because it is set somewhere that I’ve never read about before and is about a culture I’ve never read about before.

I like the characters, even the father. They are wonderfully written.

What I can’t bring myself to like is a child being put back into such a harmful environment and the author makeing it seem like that’s a happy ending.

So, in the end, I don’t know. It is a great book, but can I say that I “like” a book with an ending like that?

Book Review

Review of Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

CooperOverSeaUnderStone1st book of The Dark is Rising Series

I have wanted to read this series ever since I saw the movie The Seeker. I thought the movie was okay, but I could tell while I was watching it that there was a lot of something left out. The script of the movie seemed very incomplete to me. Perhaps this is because the movie is based on the entire series, not just one book, and so far I have only read the first book.

The first book though is really great and so much better than the movie. I can’t wait to keep reading this series. While I was reading this book I didn’t feel like I was reading a book written for kids. What I mean by that is that the story is complex and even though the main characters are children, they are well written. Too many juvenile books that I’ve read make the children characters very one dimensional. Cooper doesn’t do that. These kids are smart and brave, but they still see the world with childlike wonder.

Another part of this story that I enjoyed was the villains. They are sneaky, and everything they do seems malicious. I thought they were great villains that didn’t do anything terribly diabolical (other than being evil).

I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but the basic plot is that there is a great battle for good and evil going on in our world that most people don’t know about. A few though, like the characters in the Cooper novels, get caught up in this battle. In order to prevent the darkness from conquering our world someone must prevent the villains from finding artifacts that will give them an advantage. The children accidentally get pulled into finding an artifact hidden in the time of King Arthur.

You won’t be disappointed. This is a great story.