Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Annual End of Year Book Survey – 2014

Happy New Year! (Almost.)  For the past few years I've been doing the End of the Year Book Survey from Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner.  I've always enjoyed the questions and felt that it is a real reflection on my reading for the past year.

This year, I'm going to try not to repeat myself too much.  So, no matter how much I loved The Raven Cycle and Alias Grace, I will try not to only answer the questions with those books. 

Here we go!

Number Of Books You Read: 53
Number of Re-Reads: 1 (I don't re-read a lot.)
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy (of various forms)


 1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
It's a tie between Binu and the Great Wall, by Su Tong and The Killing Joke, by Alan Moore.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
The Fall (The Strain #2), by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan - The ending was just.... whoa.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
I  don't know if anyone actually read these books, but it's a toss-up between Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle books and Atwood's Alias Grace.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
a) Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld
b) Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater.
c) Champion, by Marie Lu

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
I couldn't pick just one! Scott Westerfeld, Lauren Oliver, Maggie Stiefvater

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Look of Love, by Bella Andre - A Romance novel.  I don't typically read romance novels, but this one was just so sweet and well written. I might read more by Andre in the future.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Lock In, by John Scalzi

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I don't tend to re-read books I read just the year before, but if I were to pick one it would be, The Raven Cycle books.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Friend of My Youth, by Alice Munro

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I don't know if it changed my life, but it was definitely thought provoking.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
It's a tie between Friend of My Youth, by Alice Munro and Animal Farm, by George Orwell

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
I don't typically record quotes/passages from books.  I get too lost in the story.  I did manage to write down the most famous quote from Animal Farm though:  "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others."
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: UR, by Stephen King (61pgs)
Longest: City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare (725pgs)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Requiem, by Lauren Oliver - The ending was just.... Bam! Then it was over.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
I'm so old... I had to look this one up. - Can I use my answer to #19? In general, though, I'm pretty happy with the pairings the authors created in the books I read this year... Though a couple of them cheated, in my opinion, using death instead of having the main character make a choice.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Adam and Ronan from The Raven Cycle.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Alias Grace (and Lock In.)

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
The Thousand Orcs, by R.A. Salvatore (My Hubby wants me to catch up to him with his favourite series.  I'm only about halfway there though.)

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
The Raven Boys, all of them.  They are so too young for me, but I just adore them.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
I don't think I read any 2014 debuts.  They were either previously published authors or the book was published in 2013 and I just waited a long time before reading it.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
I don't know if any books actually crushed my soul, but Champion, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and Requiem all came close.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
A tie between Animal Farm, by George Orwell and Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
The Lone Drow, by R.A. Salvatore - Drizzt just refused to go the Mithral Hall. If he did that he would have saved himself a lot of brooding and heartache.


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
I don't know.... randomly: Fool, by Christopher Moore

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Realizing the status of the diversity in my reading.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters had by far the most views.
Animal Farm had the most comments.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Umm... that being unemployed means more reading time?

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I set a modest Goodreads goal this year, which I surpassed, by a lot.  See previous question for why
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
The Diviners, by Libba Bray

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
The Raven Cycle #4, by Maggie Stiefvater

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Umm.... none?

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
The Raven Cycle #4, by Maggie Stiefvater

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Read more classics.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
None.  I wish I had something, but nope.
Thanks for stopping by my year in review!  It's been a great year in reading for me.  I can't wait to see what wonderful books 2015 brings!
- See more at:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Simple Peanut Butter Granola

Mmm.... crunchy granola on sweet, cold yogurt.  I'm hungry.  So hungry, in fact, upon realizing that I was out of granola while writing this post, I threw a fresh batch into the oven. 
It's super easy to make:

2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
1 cup oats

Heat the oven to 350.
Mix the maple syrup and peanut butter together.
Add the oats.
Spead onto baking sheet.
Cook for 8 minutes, stir.
Cook for about 8 minutes.

Doesn't it look good?  I store it in these nice jars, so I can see how yummy it is whenever I want.  It's healthy too, right? 

Guess where I found this super simple recipe?  The back of a peanut butter jar label!  One day, Kraft All Natural Peanut Butter was on sale, so I thought I'd try it.  Reading the back of the label, because I usually read the labels of the things that I buy, I saw a recipe for granola topped fruit crisp (FYI, in that recipe I've used a mixture of apples, peaches and pears; I've never actually used the apples it calls for, still yummy.).  After making that recipe twice, I thought that the granola topping itself might taste good mixed with yogurt.  I was right.  Now this simple granola is something I make fairly regularly. It's just that perfect bit of crunch that yogurt sometimes needs.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Is everything really Dr. Cable's fault? If she had left Tally alone, let her turn pretty, would any of this have happened? Part of me feels sorry for Cable. Umm, not really. I do understand the need to have her work continue though.  Also, Cable and Tally's city seems to be the most extreme of all the cities, so maybe it was just a matter time.

Specials is the final book in the story of Tally Youngblood, I think. From what I understand, the series was completed as a trilogy, but then Scott Westerfeld felt another book had to be written.  I wonder what it'll be about and I hope I get to find out something more about Tally.  I loved Tally Youngblood.  I loved all the revelations about the city.  I thought the end was fantastic.  I was sad about some things, but satisfied with others.  I like how everything ended up with Shay and the Cutters.  I like what happened with David.  I really liked Diego.  If there was no other books, I would count Specials as a satisfying end to the Uglies series.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Buddha's Hand - It's a Fruit!

One day on Twitter I saw a post by John (@bookmineset) showcasing a very interesting fruit. It was almost a year ago. The below conversation happened.
A snippet.

I never forgot the curious looking fruit.  It was always lurking there in the back of my mind.  Plus, I love to try new things.  One day last week, I was in my local Metro and came across a Buddha's hand.

I couldn't resist buying it, even though it was the most expensive produce on that display. $4.99 for that thing! I looked on the the internet (because that's where I look when I don't know something) for a way to prepare Buddha's hand. There were two that appealed to me. One was using it to infuse gin. The other was sautéeing it in garlic and olive oil (the suggestion is in the comments). I chose the second because that was an option I could share with my family.
This is the Buddha's Hand before I cut it.

After I cut the fingers off.

Sliced thinly, ready to be put in the pan. There's no pulp!

Frying garlic, because who doesn't love fried garlic in olive oil.

Throw in the sliced Buddha's Hand with the browned garlic.  It smelled so good.

Looks good with the green beans.
I should have added the Buddha's hand at the same time as the green beans. The Buddha's hand was definitely overcooked. The bitterness of the rind seeped into the flavour of the beans and made the actual slices of the Buddha's hand almost inedible. I also maybe should have peeled the rind off, but the website didn't tell me to do that, so I didn't. It ended up being a bit of a fail.

I did eat some of it raw, so I knew the flavour of the ingredient I was working with (something I recommend). It tasted nice, mild and lemony. The most surprising bit was that there was no pulp. I didn't expect a citrus fruit to be pulpless.  

I'd like to use Buddha's hand again, but I'm not sure when or how. It is pretty expensive just to be experimenting with, especially when, during that same shopping trip, I bought four limes for a dollar. Though the dish didn't turn out great, I learned some things about buddha's hand and maybe about citrus in general. 
One idea I had, for fun, is to do a gin or vodka infusion, with the fingers floating around in the bottle.  Too weird?  Or creepily fun.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Friend Of My Youth

Friend of My Youth is one of many short story collections by the brilliant Alice Munro.  I've read a few of her books, but not all.  One day it will be all, because I am never disappointed.  Friend of My Youth was elegant, beautifully written, filled with emotionally complex characters.  I picked out a few of my favourite stories to say a few words about.

Friend Of My Youth

Friend of my Youth is a perfect story. It is strong and stirring. I love the unnamed narrator. She loves and hates her mother. She admires and possibly hates Flora. Does she also dislike all the friends her mother had in her youth; the ones she never finished writing to? Friend of my Youth is the perfect beginning to this collection, making me eager to read the rest. 


Another beautifully written story. Very sad, very poetic. I loved Meda and again, an unnamed narrator. Was the narrator researching this writer's life? What was the fascination with Almeda Roth? I wanted Almeda to have a happy ending. 

Hold Me Fast, Don't Let Me Pass

I thought I was going to be disappointed by the ending of this beautiful story, but the last line changed it for me, changed everything. Funny how that works. 

Pictures of the Ice

Pictures of the Ice was a fantastic story. Definitely a favourite in the collection. Austin is sad and remarkable. So is Karin. Each knew what the other was doing without saying a word. They helped each other through difficulties and supported each other quietly. I have so much hope for Karin. I wish I could know where she ends up. 

Oh, What Avails

I enjoyed Joan. I feel like this long short story could have been a novel. I wonder what happened with her husband and children, her brother, her lover and Matilda. It would have been interesting to explore her life further.


Wigtime was weird.  Margot was probably the most unrelatable of all the characters.  It wasn't weird, as in strange things happened, it was just different that the other stories, though still exactly the same.  You'd have to read it to understand, I supposed.  It's more of a feeling.  Maybe I just don't like Margot's behaviour.

All these stories follow women from the beginning of their lives to middle age.  They are divorced or separated.  Each story has an affair.  More than one story talked about marrying, not really knowing yourself, then needing a change as the women aged. Normally, I don't really like cheating as a topic of a story, it doesn't appeal to me.  I appreciate relationships that endure and forever love, but the stories in Friend of My Youth are not like other stories I've read or read about.  The affairs are not salacious, the separations are not treated lightly.  Was this an actual trend during this time, divorces from people married to young?  Each story felt so real, as though this was your mother, your friend's mother, you were talking to.  Again, I'm enamoured my Munro's beautiful writing and am eager to pick up another of her collections.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

I think I'm going to have to reread Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle.  I feel like I'm zipping through the books so fast that I'm consuming them, instead of really feeling everything. I just have to know what happens next.  I feel like I waited forever for Blue Lily, Lily Blue to come out.  I read it very quickly and now I'm going to spend however many months, until sometime next year when the final book comes out.  I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later.

I love Blue. I love the boys. I love the ladies at 300 Fox Way. I appreciate real life seeping into their quest. Even though they are searching for Glendower and Maura, they are also thinking about the end of high school, about going off to college, what they can and can not afford.  They are taking time to think about their futures beyond this quest.  At times it feels irrelevant, or at least not as important, but it is and they have to acknowledge that.

The end was a bit of a surprise and I thought it was great.  Everything thing about it, from Adam and Persephone's conversation at the store until the very last page, it was fantastic.  More than anything else in the novel, the end has me eager to read the final book in The Raven Cycle.  I am really enjoying Blue's relationship with The Gray Man and I'm wondering what is going to happen with him.  He seems the most unpredictable of all the characters.  It's not that I think he'll hurt the Boys or the Women, but he could do anything to pretty much anyone else.  Also, the more I read the series, the more I love Calla.  There is so much I am enjoying that I will definitely be reading more books by Stiefvater. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Book Memory Challenge

I saw this post on What Red Read yesterday (I'm a bit behind in my blog reading; she posted this in October) and thought it would be fun to test my bookish memory. I tried not to look at Red's answers so as not to influence my own and was mostly successful.
Here are the questions: 
Here are my answers:
1. Michael Ondaatje
2. Eragon
3. Of Mice and Men
4. NW, by Zadie Smith
5. The Thorn Birds
6. All I can think of is the movie Sweet November. Was it ever a book?
7. The Knife Of Never Letting Go
8. Magisterum Book One: The Iron Trial. I know it's kind if cheating, but it says Book One on the book, so maybe it counts. 
9. Harry Potter and the...
10. The Hunger Games (This was probably the easiest one. I had loads to choose from.)

Here is me checking my answers:
1. Easy peasy... Ondaatje is one of my favourite authors.
2. Check
3. Check
4. Check
5. Check
6. Nope, it was never a book, but this is where my brain got stuck.  My brain couldn't have come up with The Hunt for Red October?  Because that was actually a book before it was a movie.  Goodreads has a list, though I've heard of some of the books, others are a real stretch (May shouldn't count when they mean "may")
7. Not all the editions have a knife on the cover, but the one I was thinking of does, so Check.
8. I'm going to say, no.  I could have said, One Hundred Years of Solitude, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, One Day...
9. Check
10. Check.... super easy
I did pretty good, I think.  8 out of 10.  If anyone else does the memory challenge, please put your link in the comments so I can check it out.

Saturday, November 01, 2014


Spoilers if you haven't read Uglies. Minor spoilers for Pretties.

I'm feeling more and more sorry for Tally.  Nothing she does seems to turn out right.  At the end of Uglies, Tally has given herself up to be turned Pretty, with the intention of taking an experimental cure. In Pretties, it starts out with her not remembering. That's part of what the pretty operation does, it changes not just your body, it changes your mind.  Is being pretty on the outside worth what it does to your mind?

I couldn't put Pretties down.  I read it easily in three days.  I could have read it in two, but my Hubby was bugging me to go to sleep.  I am finding the Uglies series not just entertaining, but thought provoking.  The people that Tally meets outside of the city, what Dr. Cable says to her, how she views herself, the New Smokies, the Crims, makes you think.  Is being "pretty-minded" so bad?  Everything seems under control, in general.  There is peace and love and happiness, but is the cost too high?  The Rusties (us, I'm presuming) destroyed themselves.  If Tally succeeds, will it just happen again?

I did not expect what happened with Shay and the Cutters.  I knew she was mad, but to do what she did.  I guess I understand the Cutter thing, once she knew she couldn't get her hands on a cure, but after?  Was it just to get revenge on Tally?  Does she really hate Tally that much?  It was a great addition to the series.  It definitely makes me even more excited to read Specials, though with the title, I could have guessed what it was about.

I'm really enjoying Scott Westerfeld's series.  I thought I would like it, but I didn't know how much.  I didn't know that I'd be thinking that maybe, in the end, Tally and the Smokies won't succeed.  That would certainly be an interesting twist.  I'm wondering about the end of book 4; will Extras leave me with an open conclusion, an unknown future?  Could the people living in the cities stop wanting to be pretty when that is what they've grown up with?  I could see where Westerfeld got the idea for the series as it is littered with issues we deal with today.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fish Out Of Water

I couldn't wait to finish the final book in MaryJanice Davidson's Fred the Mermaid trilogy.  Fish Out Of Water was everything I wanted it to be.  I loved the ending.  Finally!  An ending I was satisfied with.  It wasn't a super happily-ever-after type ending, which I like, but happy enough. Some of the story was a bit predictable, but it was so entertaining, that it doesn't matter.  I wouldn't have expected anything else.

I read the first two books, Sleeping With The Fishes and Swimming Without A Net in the last couple weeks.  I've already talked about how I enjoy the grumpy mermaid and how much I like Davidson's writing.  So here are a few quick, but hopefully not spoilery things I liked about Fish Out Of Water.
- Fred's Dad. Sad, but good... and violent.
- Bad behaviour can make even the most beautiful person ugly.
- Be yourself, not who others want you to be, you'll be happier that way.
- Thomas always saw the real Fred.
- I still love Tennian.

Fish Out Of Water ended the series so well.... but wait!  Here's the main reason I picked up this trilogy in the first place.  The next book I plan on reading in Davidson's Undead series has a crossover story with Fred!  Undead and Underwater is on my to-read list.  I'm glad that Fish Out Of Water isn't the last I'm going to see of Fred.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Look At Diversity: Where Has My Reading Taken Me?

I like to think that my reading is diverse.  I don't try to make my reading diverse, but when I see authors from different countries, with different backgrounds sitting on my shelves, I feel like I don't have to try.  I've never had a set reading list (except in school), so I just go where my mood takes me.

Red over at What Red Read, wrote a post last month about her reading stats and trying to diversify where her reading comes from.  It was an interesting post and got me wondering about my actual reading statistics, not just what I felt that I read.  I eyeballed my reading list from the past year and could tell that it was an even split between male and female authors.  I quickly realized that I've been reading a lot series lately, which I felt might skew my stats, because several books would be by one author.  Also, reading a lot of series meant that I was reading a lot more newer books than classics.

I analyzed my reading stats, some of it was what I expected, some of it was not.  I decided to choose a twelve month period, from October 2013 to September 2014.  I thought that would give me a good look at where my reading has taken me.  In that time I read 50 books (I think that might be the most I've read in one year).  25 books were written by women, 24 by men, and the final one was a short story collection including both sexes.  That is what I expected.  What I found surprising was how many of these men and women were white Americans.  Previously, I read a fair amount of Canadian literature (being in Canada) as well as books by English authors, with a few from other countries.  I was very surprised with my findings and wondered why this was (Excel helped a lot).  In that 12-month time frame, 33 of the books I read were in series!  That's more series than I have ever read before. Not that I never read series, but they were much fewer than the 13 I read.  I didn't finish all the series, but from the spreadsheet, that's only because not all the books are out yet and many were books I or my Hubby already owned.  All these series were by Americans. 

As I compiled all this information, I remember, about a year ago, looking at my bookshelf and realizing that I had picked up a few Young Adult series recently decided I should really read them. So, I guess I started to and just hadn't realized how that decision had changed my reading habits.  I also wanted to catch up on two series I have been reading for years, but had been neglecting.  That hasn't left a lot of room for anything else.  I've also read much less classics than in previous years. Previously, I read something like 12 classics in one year.  That's way down for 2014.

This new realization concerned me, so I decided that I would look further back at my reading habits. If I take a look at all of 2013, not just the last few months, my stats improve.  There are many more Canadians and English authors on the list.  There are a few more classics, but not as many as I would have liked.  I eyeballed my list of read books for the last few years (it's a lot of books to actually analyze) and it's more what I thought it would be.  Still a lot of white authors, but not as many as this last year.  That means (to me) that the choice to read through a bunch of the YA series I own has left me with a less culturally diverse reading list.  Now I wonder why that is.

What does that mean for my reading choices going forward?  Well, I still want to shrink my to-be-read pile and the easiest way to do that is to read easy books, but I plan on being more conscious of reading too many of them.  I might research authors more; often times I don't know about an author's background until after I've read their first book.  I'm also going to get back to reading more classics. I've got a list I want to finish.  I still think I have been doing a good job, I just also think I can do better.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Last Shots

The final graphic novel in The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger series was not adapted from part Stephen King's The Gunslinger novel or a related story, it is a series of shorts, a few "last shots" into the world before the end.  Last Shots had everything I have come to love and expect from The Dark Tower graphic novels.  The art, the stories, were fantastic. 

There were three stories in the slim volume.  The first story, Sheemie's Tale , was about the special young man who Roland first encounters in Hambry, in the fourth Dark Tower novel, and then among the Breakers in the final novel.  Sheemie's story was tied to Roland's for longer than Roland ever knew.  In his mind, Sheemie calls to Roland to save him.  The second, Evil Ground, takes place before The Little Sisters of Eluria and The Battle for Jericho Hill.  It's nice to see Roland and his friends again. So Fell Lord Perth is the final story. It's a look at how it all began, Gilead and Arthur Eld.  I loved reading these stories for a lot of the same reasons I enjoyed The Wind Through The Keyhole.  I loved revisiting Roland and the world of The Dark Tower. One thing I appreciate about Last Shots, is that I think even if you haven't read anything else Dark Tower related, this little collection of stories would be enjoyable, just a taste of that world. I'm looking forward to the graphic novel adaptations of the second Dark Tower novel, The Drawing of the Three.  There will be something new to feed my Dark Tower addiction, Last Shots isn't the end.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Swimming Without A Net

Oh, Fred.  How did this happen? How did you end up there? Were you too aloof?  Too nice?  Well, maybe not nice, but she has a conscience.  Fred, the Grumpy Mermaid is trying to help Prince Artur and his dad, King Mekkan with a problem.  A solution is found, but is it the right one for the Undersea Folk?  Fred grows in Swimming Without A Net.  In the first Fred The Mermaid book, I feel like Fred spent a lot of time reacting to the situations around her.  In Swimming Without A Net, Fred is actively participating in mer-people's lives.  She makes decisions that are not entirely selfish.  She grows as a person and the end of this second novel I find a bit bittersweet.
Vague Spoilers....

I really enjoyed the new characters introduced in Swimming Without A Net.  I thought the scenes with Thomas and the King were hilarious.  I loved Tennian.  I thought she was funny.  At first she comes off as the more typical mermaid, but then you see she is stubborn and more like Fred than either of them may admit.  I also liked that Fred had a girlfriend, someone she could relate to, not just because she was also a mermaid.  I liked that Fred cared about her happiness.

I am eager to see how the trilogy ends.  I want to know what happens to the Undersea Folk.  I also want to know about Fred.  Where do her choices lead her?  Will she be happy?  Will she ever meet her father?  I have a feeling yes, but I could be wrong.  I was thoroughly captivated by MaryJanice Davidson's writing.  I read the short novel easily in two days.  Davidson gave me exactly what I wanted from Fred's second book and I am full of expectation for the third.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Doll Bones

Doll Bones is the first book I've read by Holly Black and I don't think it'll be the last. Doll Bones tells the story of three friends, Polly, Alice, and Zach, who are twelve and are growing up. The three friends have been playing together since they were little. Something happens which makes Zach think that he won't be able to play with Polly and Alice anymore. Life changes a lot at twelve and these three are no exception. Growing up, however, is not all they have to worry about. They're being haunted, by a creepy porcelain doll.

What is it about porcelain dolls that make them creepy?  Also, they're creepy, so why do people buy them?  How many possessed dolls have there been in horror movies and shows? But they keep getting bought. The cover of Doll Bones is the creepy doll. It is a great cover for a middle grade horror novel. It is the cover and the fact that I've been wanting to read something by Black (and the crazy sale price) that had me pick up Doll Bones and it was great.

Doll Bones was the perfect read for the car trips we took recently; I barely noticed the time pass by. I loved the three main characters. They each came from different home lives and they are each becoming adolescents in their own way. They are leaving childhood behind, but are also trying to hang on to it. Their quest was fantastic, scary and fun. I liked the end, the last line, but I'm still left wanting more. I want to know more about Polly, Zach, and Alice. I wish there was more at the ending. I want to know more about their families too. It might just be me though, I've been hard to please with endings lately. I'm happy I read Dolls Bones, it was a great October read.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Favourite Poetry - The Classics Club Meme

I don't usually do the Classics Club Meme, but I couldn't resist October's topic.  Classic poetry!  My long-time favourite poem is by Romantic, William Wordsworth:
A slumber did my spirit seal;
 I had no human fears:
She seem'd a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
 She neither hears nor sees;
Roll'd round in earth's diurnal course
 With rocks, and stones, and trees.

It is lyrically beautiful, while also being so very sad.  I first read this poem in University.  It has stayed with me since. 
I went through poetry overload after University.  I took an entire course on poetry, plus there was poetry in other classes as well.  I spent so long dissecting classic and contemporary poetry that I couldn't read it anymore, just for the enjoyment.  A couple years ago that slowly started to change with Disney Princesses, and Rime of the Ancient Mariner (which for some reason I never read in University.)  Since, I have kept up with reading poetry here and there.  I also decided that there were some classic poems and poets I had to read.  This past spring, I started reading the complete works of Emily Dickinson.  I decided to do it slowly, as so many poems would just blend together if I read it all at once and I wanted the opportunity to savour each poem.  From the collection, I have two favourites so far:

That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

Death is a dialogue between
The spirit and the dust.
“Dissolve,” says Death. The Spirit, “Sir,
I have another trust.”

Death doubts it, argues from the ground.
The Spirit turns away,
Just laying off, for evidence,
An overcoat of clay.
I know that The Chariot is Dickinson's most well-known poem, and I do think it is wonderful, but I can't have the same favourite as everyone else.  As soon as I read Hope it stuck with me and I think it might be like Wordsworth's classic, a poem I will think of for years to come.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sleeping With The Fishes

With a title like Sleeping With The Fishes, you wonder if the mob is going to be involved.  You'll have to read the book to find out....

I loved Fred. The tone of the writing very much reminded me of MaryJanice Davidson's Undead series, but Fred is not Betsy. Fred doesn't care about clothes or men. Fred is a scientist, a marine biologist. She is tough, assertive, and blunt. There are a lot of similarities between her and Betsy too.  She is self-centred. She's also very tall. Fred lacks compassion; it's a decision she has to make rather than instinct. I like that she's not a damsel. She does not fall all over herself for the water fellow or the handsome prince. 

I like that in the novel, the issue of how we "bipeds" treat the environment is the centre of their investigation. People dump into the water, they are more concerned with money. The novel makes it seem as though there are only a few people like Thomas who really care. I hope that's not true. I like that a fun, mermaid novel has a bit of a serious thread running through it. 
I read recently that Davidson will only be writing two more Undead books and then the series will be over.  It's a sad thought for me, since I've been reading about Queen Betsy for years and years.  It's nice to know that when I want something light and fun to read, Davidson will provide with one of her other books.
So, my copy of Sleeping With The Fishes is part of an omnibus with all three Fred the Mermaid books.  Do I read all three since they're in the same "book"? Or do I put other novels in between series books, like I usually do?  I think the latter, but maybe not.  Let's see what I do when I take a bit of time to read tonight.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Binu and the Great Wall

I really wanted to love this book. Binu and the Great Wall sounded like something I would really enjoy, and it is part of the Canongate Myth Series, a series I've been enjoying for years.  But I also had a feeling I was going to be disappointed.  I try not to let other people's opinions influence me when it comes to books.  Since I joined Goodreads, I've seen what more people think of a book than ever before.  Even just a glance at the average star rating lets me know what the overall feeling towards a book has been.  Binu and the Great Wall does not have the best average on Goodreads.  I tried to put it out of my mind.  For the most part I did, until a couple chapters in.  Then I knew.  Binu and the Great Wall was okay.  It wasn't terrible, but it didn't excite me, didn't blow me away, didn't make me eager to pick the book up everyday. 
Binu and the Great Wall is a retelling of The Myth of Mengfrom China, written by Su Tong, a bestselling Chinese writer.  It is times like these that make me wonder if my feelings towards the book are because of the translation or if the original read this way also.  There's no way for me to know.  Su Tong has written award winning fiction, he has a good reputation.  I had hope for Binu.  I think my main problem with the novel was the title character, Binu.  Her choices were just crazy.  She couldn't control herself.  I understand that this is based on a myth and I'm guessing some of what is written falls in line with the myth, but still, her choices were a little too unbelievable.  Her motivation for everything she does is her love for her husband, but her choices could still have been better.  I know main characters in novels often go through terrible hardships before they reach their final goal and that the ending is not always happy (I just read Animal Farm after all), but it wasn't evoking the sadness and empathy I think it wanted.  Binu and the Great Wall is an easy read.  It flows well, so it didn't take me long to finish, I just wish I could have liked Binu more.

Friday, October 10, 2014


I don't normally read romance novels, or any of its subgenres, but for some reason, I couldn't resist reading Skye Jordan's Reckless.  I downloaded it for free on iBooks, it was one of the top books. It is free with Kindle and Kobo too.  I enjoyed the novel so much, I'm considering paying for the second and third books in the series.  Reckless is a hot and sexy piece of fiction.  I've dipped into this genre before and been disappointed.  Previously, I have found that the writer has focused all their attention on the sexy parts of the novels, to the detriment of the story.  I enjoyed the story of Reckless.  A poor girl works hard and achieves success.  A rich boy leaves the family business to find happiness and make it on his own.  I liked Lexi's work ethic, her focus on her goals.  She just needed to loosen up.  I liked Jax's independence.  He just needed to stop dating superficial girls.  I found myself rooting for them as a couple.  I liked their best friends, Rubi and Wes.  It seems like they'll be the stars of Rebel, Jordan's second Renegades book.  I might just get it when I need a quick read.

I would have liked a bit better ending though.  It was just done.  Suddenly.  One of those times where there were other "sneak peaks" at the end of the book, so I thought there was more story.  It keeps happening to me.  I should have known better and checked.  Even without that unfortunate surprise, I still would have liked something more at the end.  An epilogue?  Riding off into the sunset?  I hope that even though Rubi and Wes are going to be the focus of Rebel we get to know what happens to Lexi and Jax. - I just noticed that the girls names are four letters and the boys are three; is that a thing?  Am I going to start reading more novels in this genre because of Reckless? Probably not, but I might read the ones written by Skye Jordan.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


That's the ending? Really? Well, fine then. I'll just have to read the sequel to Scott Westerfeld's Uglies. It's a good thing I got the box set at such a good bargain. This is the second book I have read recently that feels like a series, like one really long story. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children has the same, obvious, cliffhanger ending. Any resolution at all not likely coming until the end of the series. I don't usually like that feeling, that nothing is known, that you must read the next novel before you can know anything, but like Miss Peregrine's, I enjoyed Uglies enough for it not to matter. I want to know more about this society, how it got there and where it's going.

Uglies also reminded me a lot of Delirium. Both stories take place in a society where something is taken away, leaving a more "peaceful" people. When Delirium removes love, the reaction is more shocked, I think, from the reader.  When Uglies removes ugliness, there's more hesitation, doesn't everyone want to be pretty? That's what drew me to the series, the idea that no one is judged on looks because everyone is pretty. There's even a pretty standard. How the Uglies treat each other, how they idolize the Pretties, seemed an almost logical exaggeration of what happens now. The Uglies are teenagers, a time when a person is learning about themselves and also in need of guidance. If pretty adults come to you and tell you that one day you'll be pretty too, why question it?

Uglies (like Delirium) centres around a girl who is fine with the status quo. Tally (like Lena) starts out wanting the operation that will make them normal. It is a friend that starts them down the rebellious path. Is it the boy that keeps them their, or is it that their beliefs change? I like to think the later. Tally learns the truth about the operation. It changes how she views everything and everyone she has ever known. I like the idea of the unwilling rebel/hero. I've seen it twice now in these dystopian novels. I wonder if I'll see more of it. 
I have to say, that scene with Tally, Shay, and the magazines was really interesting. I liked Tally's reaction to them and how Shay explained things too her. I like the idea that magazines, fashion magazines, could hold a piece of our history that future generations would never know about otherwise. I also found it interesting that in Tally's world, not everyone learns penmanship. Not even basic printing. Technology is such a huge part of Tally's world that even people living in the wilderness have to use it. 

I'm excited to read the rest of the series. Westerfeld has created and intriguing world and left the end of Uglies with a big setup for Pretties. The series is four books, and I don't think it'll be long before I have read all of them.