Wednesday, October 30, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge Day 14

Tell us Your Deal Breakers

I think I have identified these a handful of times but just for fun, let's do it again. This time in list format!

1. Lack of character development: If the characters suck, for me, the book will suck. I don't have to like the characters but they have to be at least well thought out and developed. Otherwise, reading that book will be like poking myself in the eyeball.
2. Instalove: A la Twilight. I hate Twilight. I don't get the whole "we meet and fall instantly in love and are soul mates" thing. I like to believe in soul mates. I can even believe in love at first sight to an extent. But if there is no build up to the relationship, it leaves me feeling like I missed a chapter. Or five. I like a good, slow burn!
3. Bad plot: If I don't care where the book is going or can't figure out where it has been, I'm not going to be a happy reader. I'm okay with predictability. I think there is a degree of that in all books. Plus, I like to guess where it is going and being right is always nice. But I have to care whether the characters are going to get to the end of the book and if all of their hard work is worth it.
4. Too descriptive: I get bored to easily with too many dry descriptions. I love to hear about new worlds and I think a lot of description is necessary for that (for good examples, see Harry Potter and the Gentlemen Bastards series.) But if I find myself skimming, it's no bueno. I'm looking at you Tolstoy! (I loved the peace but hated the war parts of that book for this exact reason.)
5. Too many characters: I can handle quite a few characters. If I know how they relate to the main characters or they have their own mini sub plot that I don't necessarily have to keep track of, I can dig a lot of characters. But there is a breaking point. And it usually comes for me when there are a million characters, they have ridiculous names, and they disappear for huge parts of the book just to pop back up in the end. Where the heck have you been all this time? Drives me crazy!

These irks will pop in and out of my reviews as you will see. And while while they may drive me crazy, I rarely DNF. Even the worst of the worst I bite the bullet to get through. I know, it's like torturing myself and there are so many good books out there I shouldn't waste my time. But I do. It's my thing. Leave it alone and let me complain and be judgmental here in my part of the world.

Do you have any deal breakers? Or agree with any of the above?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Four Past Midnight Mini-review #2

Stephen King is one of my favorite authors and this time of year, I can't get enough of a good thriller. Luckily, I had this grouping of four of King's novellas already on my nook so I didn't have to look very far to satisfy my cravings. I'm going to do the review for this book a little differently. Since it's actually four small books (about 200 pages each), I think I will do mini reviews for each and then a summary at the end. Changing things up around here, look out!

Four Past Midnight Title: Four Past Midnight
Author: Stephen King
Date Read: October 17, 2013

Secret Window, Secret Garden

Summary: Recently divorced writer Mort Rainey is alone at Tashmore Lake--that is, until a figure named John Shooter arrives, pointing an accusing finger. goodreads

Review: Unfortunately, this is one of those cases where I saw the movie, before I read the book. I hate it when I do this because it ruins the book for me. Luckily, I hadn't seen this movie in a very long time by the time I read this book, but I remembered the overall gist of the twist. King does a good job of blurring the real and the dream/unreal/fantasy lines again. It makes the reader question with the characters what is actually going on which I believe adds to the thriller. I noticed a lot more coincidences while reading this book that I don't think I would have caught had I not seen the movie. I loved seeing how the "coincidences" played out and the characters started to discover them. Very cleverly done!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Safe Haven

7812659 Title: Safe Haven
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Date Read: October 19, 2013

Summary: Love hurts. There is nothing as painful as heartbreak. But in order to learn to love again, you must learn to trust again. 

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

Review: Let me start out by saying, yes, this book is entirely predictable and entirely typical Nick Sparks. It has all of his major themes, grief, military vet, abuse, fires, yada yada yada. But it still grabbed me. I really enjoyed Katie and totally fell for Alex. Who could resist a dedicated father who puts his kids well-being first while still being totally emotionally available (despite being a widower)? Sparks did a great job of telling Katie's background through detailed flashbacks and I think these were what made you respect Katie as a character. You saw what she went through and how she had to be unbelievably strong to survive. 

This book is going exactly where you think it is going until the very end. I didn't see that coming. I think that twist was unlike other Sparks novels I had read but it was well done and fit into the story well. If you are looking for a love story a la The Notebook, Safe Haven will not disappoint. And now I can't wait to watch the movie :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Liebster Award

I have officially won my first bloggy award! I'm very thankful that Megan at My Library Life of Living Through Books nominated me. I love finding new followers (hey Megan!) and the Liebster award is all about discovering new blogs (which you know I'm also all about!) As you know, I've only been blogging for a couple months so it still surprises me when I find out people actually stop by this little piece of web space. This award is given to bloggers by fellow bloggers who have less than 200 followers to get a boost in exposure and hopefully give readers a chance to see some of the smaller blogs that are out there doing great things around the web.

Here are the rules: 

1. Link back to the blogger that tagged you.
2. Nominate 10 others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you.
3. Ask 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
4. Let your nominees know of their award.

And here are Megan's questions for me:

1. Do you manage how long you spend working on your blog, how do you?
I haven't been blogging very long so I haven't become overwhelmed yet. I typically try to write reviews soon after I read the book. This helps me keep up with them but it also helps me review better because I tend to forget aspects of the book with time due to the number of books I read (hence, the review blog.) I think the best thing I have done to manage my blog is start scheduling posts. I try to post around three times a week and I've gotten to the point where I review a book quickly after reading it and then schedule it for whenever I have the next opening. This helps me to keep on track and be regular about posts. 

2. When you were starting your blog and the thoughts you had about how you would carry on with it, has it proved more difficult and/or time consuming than you first thought?
I didn't have big aspirations for my blog so I don't think it is harder or more time consuming than I imagined. I had a personal blog at one point and I became overwhelmed finding interesting things to talk about and lost steam. With my book blog, there will always be book reviews to write. But I would like to expand my posts beyond reviews with things like memes and award posts :) 

3. How often do you get into a book niche where you just read the same genre or get caught up in books that have reoccurring aspect? i.e. magic, vampires, innocent girl falls for bad boy, list goes on.
This actually doesn't happen for me very often. If you have been around this blog for any point of time, you will have notice that my tastes are very diverse. I will read anything from romance, to thriller, to suspense, to supernatural and sci-fi. I rarely discriminate. That being said, I sometimes get bogged down with reading book after book that I don't enjoy. I have a huge TBR list and I tend to just grab a random book when I finish one and sometimes that does not turn out so well. When that happens, I return to an author or series that I know I will enjoy to get back into the swing of things. 

4. We all get into a reading ditch/slump/block, how do you get out of them?
Oops, I just answered this one in the last question... To expand upon that, my go-to's for getting out of the reading ditch tend to be simple, quick reads like Nora Roberts or Jodi Picoult. I also love my series to get out of the slump. I save up books in a series so it doesn't end too soon and I don't have to deal with series hangovers. Right now I'm still holding onto the Outlander and Game of Thrones series. Both of those series contain very long books but I love them so if it's a big ditch, I'll dive into one of those. 

5. What do you hope to get from your blog?
I love the sense of community! I'm actually doing a post on this soon but I realized at some point that I'm a serious book nerd with no one to talk books to. This made me a sad book nerd. Goodreads filled this space for a long time but I realized I wanted more. That's where this blog comes in. I follow a lot of blogs and loved that I shared opinions and passions about similar things and decided to stop being the creeper who just reads and doesn't comment (even though I still do that with plenty...) and create a blog where I could build that community for myself. 

6. When reading a book what do you want to see, what makes it good?
For me, it's all about the characters and relationships. As you may have noticed, writing is not my forte. I don't claim to be a writer and I have no desire to be one. This usually translates to me having very little opinion on what makes something "literature" vs. crap. That being said, I can tell crap from phenomenal writing. I don't know all of the fancy terms and didn't major in English but I've got the basics. Now, back to the characters. If I can connect with the character (hate or love) and am fully invested in seeing what is going to happen to them (even if it's predictable), you've got me. That's all I really need. I can forgive crap writing and even some plot holes if the character development is well done. 

7. Cover, Title or Synopsis or all three?
I'd have to say all three. The cover is usually what catches my eye but if I'm in B&N and the books only show the binding, then the title can get me. I won't pick up a book unless one of these stands out. I think it's very important and if this isn't the case for everyone, what makes you pick it up? I judge a book by it's cover when it comes to laying my hands on it, but when it comes to checking it out or buying, it's synopsis all the way. If it doesn't sound interesting and has an awesome cover, no way. I love getting to be judgey when it comes to my books!

Those were great questions and I really enjoyed answering them. Good job, Megan! Now I have to come up with ten of my own. I'm thinking 5 bloggy questions, 5 random. Let's see here...

1.  How did you pick your blog name?
2. Do you have a favorite genre and why? Are you willing to read outside of that genre?
3. Do you read a series straight through or space them out?
4. Favorite author?
5. Do you enjoying reading or writing more?
6. Tell us 3 random facts about yourself?
7. Where would you travel if you could and why?
8. If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
9. Cats or dogs?
10. What is you favorite blog to read?

Ok, that's about as random as I can get in one sitting. Now for nominations! I follow a lot of blogs and I have no clue how many followers these bloggers have. There's also a chance they've been nominated before. Here are 5 blogs I read that I think you should check out!

Well, this has been fun. Thanks for the nomination Megan! If any followers have a blog and want to answer these questions, I nominate you! Just leave a comment to let me know you did it so I can see your answers!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Four Past Midnight Mini-review #1

Stephen King is one of my favorite authors and this time of year, I can't get enough of a good thriller. Luckily, I had this grouping of four of King's novellas already on my nook so I didn't have to look very far to satisfy my cravings. I'm going to do the review for this book a little differently. Since it's actually four small books (about 200 pages each), I think I will do mini reviews for each and then a summary at the end. Changing things up around here, look out!

Four Past Midnight Title: Four Past Midnight
Author: Stephen King
Date Read: October 17, 2013

First up, we have The Langoliers

Summary: On a redeye flight from Los Angeles to Boston, only 11 passengers survive--but landing in a dead world makes them wish they hadn't. goodreads

Review: There were only a handful of characters in this novella and the entire story took place between an airplane and an airport. King, being the writer that he is, was able to connect the reader to these characters fairly quickly and the character I latched on to the most was Dinah. Dinah is a little girl who is blind (not a spoiler, it's the first thing you learn about her) and telling this story through her eyes was absolutely terrifying. I can only imagine how scary it would be to have to interpret all of the crazy things going on around you without sight and without logic (because what happens in this story is way beyond logic.)

The overall story is a little sci-fi but with King's typical thriller components. There was the character who had the psychological break which is a regular in King books and there was also the question of, what's real vs. what's just in your head. King does a fantastic job of blurring those lines in this novella as well as the other 3 stories in this book. While reading this book, I kept trying to figure out why it happened and how the characters were going to fix it. It seemed a little far fetched for me but was overall enjoyable. Not my favorite novella in the series but I definitely want to see the movie.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Breathing Water

6417526Title: Breathing Water
Author: Timothy Hallinan
Date Read: October 7, 2013
Series: Poke Rafferty Mystery #3

Summary: Behind every great fortune is a great crime . . .

For American ex-pat writer Poke Rafferty, a late-night poker game delivers an unexpected prize: an "opportunity" to write the biography of Khun Pan, a flamboyant, vulgar, self-made billionaire with a criminal past and far-reaching political ambitions. The win seems like a stroke of luck, but as with so many things in vibrant, seductive, contradictory Bangkok—a city of innocence and evil, power and poverty—the allure of appearances masks something much darker. Within a few hours of folding his cards, Rafferty, his wife, Rose, beloved ­adopted daughter, Miaow, and best friend, Arthit, an honest Bangkok cop, have become pawns in a political struggle among some of Thailand's richest, most powerful, and most ruthless people.

A hero to the poor and dispossessed, Pan is like a bone in the throats of the beautiful, sophisticated "good" people who own and control every facet of Thailand and want more. There are many who would prefer that a book, especially a sympathetic book, stay unwritten. And there are others who want to expose Pan's darker secrets, information useful in a preemptive strike against this profligate billionaire who can threaten their hold on power—a situation they will go to murderous lengths to prevent.

Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, Rafferty is breathing water and sinking deeper in a sea of intrigue with each passing hour. The trouble multiplies when a missing young street friend of Miaow's reappears, needing Rafferty's help to protect an innocent village girl trapped in a baby-selling ring. Pushed ever closer to the abyss, Rafferty has one chance to get them all out alive. But to succeed, this foreigner must do the impossible—keep a cool Thai heart.

Set in the Thailand of today's headlines—a nation of unrest, political uncertainty, corruption, and tradition, where the future looks dangerously precarious—Breathing Water is the story of a deadly game in which the stakes are enormous and life is literally cheap. The most compelling Poke Rafferty thriller yet, it is a journey that goes beyond the illusion of order and stability into a world where a wrong turn can lead to chaos, and where love and courage may not be enough to hold back the darkness. goodreads

Review: (Goodness that's a long summary, huh?) This is another one of those hand-me-downs from my uncle. I actually read the first book in this series a while back. If I were to guess, it was a hand-me-down from my father, so it is no surprise that I got this one from his brother. Overall, this book is well done. I enjoy the characters. Poke is a genuinely good guy who uses his skills to help children and the people he cares for. I love Miaow and the elusive "superman" makes an appearance which made me happy. This book pretty much covers every aspect of the dark side of Thailand. Politics, cops (good and bad), the extremely rich and extremely poor and follows Poke as he navigates his way though the mess that has been created for him. The only problem I had was keeping all of the "bad guy" characters straight. It got confusing in the end when everyone was flipping and I had a hard time remembering who was in cahoots with who. This is an easy, fast paced novel that I would recommend if you are interested in finding justice for the corrupt.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I won a giveaway!!!

One of my favorite book blogs is Bitches with Books. This is one of the blogs I've been reading since I started blogging and I love her snark and honesty when it comes to reviewing books. Plus she is as big of a Potterhead as I am and you should all check out her Letter to Dumbledore. Hi-larious!

I digress, Claire recently celebrated her one year blogoversary where she decided to reward her followers for enjoying her awesomeness. Does this sound backwards? I'm assuming she did the giveaway because she loves her followers as much as they love her (and she wanted to share her favorite books with us) but either way, I submitted my name. And guess what? (I know I already gave it away but...) I WON!

I won a copy of Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore.


This book has been on my to-read list for awhile. A couple of the blogs I read reviewed it and it sounded interesting. Now, thanks to Claire, I have my very own copy. I can't wait to read it and don't fret, I promise I'll share my review. Have y'all read it? What did you think? I've included the goodreads summary (which I don't think does it justice) below for any of you who are interested but have not heard of this book yet. Yay for winning things!

Global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, young love, and the secret to eternal life — mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore. The Great Recession shuffles Clay Jannon from his web-design drone job to night shift at Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Curiously, few customers come in repeatedly and never buy. Analysis reveals astonishing secrets ...

Monday, October 14, 2013


18367904Title: Copout
Author: Bart Cline
Date Read: October 6, 2013
ARC direct from author

Summary: If a man’s dreams are better than life, then what is the incentive to wake up?

Donovan Stone, police detective, aficionado of classic films, and widower, is such a man. Fired from the force after a violent incident, Donovan’s life could be considered no more successful or happy than a train wreck. His only hope is the affection of a woman, who also happens to be his best friend.

But each night he finds solace in his dreams, where he can enjoy the good things that life denies him. There he’s successful, happy, and free, until Donovan’s world of dreams crosses over into his reality with deadly consequences. He must fight his way back from the brink of oblivion – but does he really want to?

Dreams, classic movie genres, and reality meet in a dangerous cocktail. goodreads

Review: As you may recall, I read another of Cline's novels recently and was not very fond of it. When the author requested I review his books, he did tell me this one was better than the other and I'm glad I gave it a chance because I was pleasantly surprised. This book is very different from Wanderlove. I'd say it was different in every single way. I wouldn't have known the same person wrote both books, but in the best way possible.

This book is a little on the sci-fi side but it is done very well. Every chapter jumps between the present (which I believe is set in the future) and Donovan's dreams. I really enjoyed the way the dream sequences were done because they mimicked parts of his life but they took place in the plots/settings of some of Don's favorite movies. The characters in Don's real life continually made appearances in his dreams which was very believable. The author also showed that dreams are a way of our mind working out problems subconsciously which I thought was very cool and a nod to my good ole' profession of psychology.

I enjoyed the main story and seeing Don's trial and tribulations play out in his dreams, but I had a very hard time with the ending. I felt like it just stopped and the author gave up. Some people would interpret this as "the reader choosing the ending they want" but I don't feel like it even got that far. There was no wrap up, the story just ended. It didn't even have enough info for the reader to choose a viable ending.

I enjoyed the format of this book the most because it felt like a lot of short stories. The main character was enjoyable and easy to relate to. There were some issues with mistakes and copy editing but they didn't detract from the story. I'd say overall, reading this book was a positive experience and I'm glad I gave this author another chance.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Troop

17571466Title: The Troop
Author: Nick Cutter
Date Read: October 5, 2013
ARC from Netgalley

Summary: Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins in this frightening novel written in the bestselling traditions of Stephen King and Scott Smith.

Boy Scouts live by the motto “Be Prepared.” However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons.

Everything changes when a haggard stranger in tattered clothing appears out of nowhere and collapses on the campers’ doorstep. Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop’s own with a bioengineered horror that’s straight out of their worst nightmares. Now stranded on the island with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended…and eventually each other.

“Lean and crisp and over-the-top....Disquieting, disturbing,” says Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan, The Troop is a visceral burn of a read that combines boldly drawn characters with a fantastically rendered narrative—a terrifying story you’ll never forget. goodreads

Review: Disgusting. Gross. Revolting. Nauseating. Sickening. Phenomenal writing. Those are the words that come to my mind when I think of this book. I've never read anything by Cutter before, but prior to saying anything else about this book, let me give credit where credit is due. Cutter is an exceptional writer. It is only because of this that I felt the first five feelings of this review. Cutter is able to describe in such detail, that you can feel your skin crawling and it actually makes you sick to your stomach to read. And hungry! (Have to read the book to get that reference.)

When I read the summary for this book on Netgalley, I focused on the words Lord of the Flies and Stephen King. Two things I'm a fan of, so I requested it. I probably should have focused more on The Ruins part of the summary because I was not prepared for the graphic detail and goriness that was waiting for me in the pages of this book. I love horror movies and books but I'm the person who prefers the psychological thrillers to the gore. Give me Paranormal Activity over Saw any day of the week! That being said, this was not the book for me. It was too gory. Too gory by a long shot. There were points when I almost couldn't pick it back up because it so was physically painful for me to read. I think this is a personal thing and does not describe the book as a whole. If you are into the gore, and have a strong stomach, I would recommend this book to you in an instant. The character development and the writing is top notch. If you are not one who enjoys disgustingly vivid descriptions, stay away.

Now, onto the actual substance of the book. This story focuses on a troop of adolescents and I thought the characterizations were very well done. It seemed like the boys were all very different from each other but the author addressed a lot of the personality traits that people start to see emerge in adolescence. The cool thing about this story was that these traits started to emerge rapidly due to the stressors surrounding them. Some of the boys succumbed to the evil that was already living inside of them, some succumbed to the psychological strain that was imposed on them, and some succumbed to the evil that was done to them by others. They all had their weaknesses and strengths and the author did a good job of exposing them. I also really enjoyed the format which consisted of flashbacks, news stories, reports, interviews, and present happenings. Cutter gave a nod to King's horror novel Carrie and the format of that story and this one parallels that a lot. I rated this book a 2/5 because while it was painful to get through and I would never read it again, I think the writing, characterization, and story line were well done which earns it more than a 1.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge Day 13

Describe one underappreciated book EVERYONE should read

Title: Cold Sassy Tree
Author: Olive Ann Burns
Summary: The one thing you can depend on in Cold Sassy, Georgia, is that word gets around - fast.

On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin.

Cold Sassy Tree is the undeniably entertaining and extraordinarily moving account of small-town Southern life in a bygone era. Brimming with characters who are wise and loony, unimpeachably pious and deliciously irreverent, Olive Ann Burns’s classic bestseller is a timeless, funny, and resplendent treasure. goodreads

I went to high school in South Carolina and in the 10th grade, this was required reading for my AP class. I hated the teacher but loved her for bringing this book to me. In the south, we all read (and revered) To Kill a Mockingbird from a very young age. I love that novel and this one has a lot of the same themes. Cold Sassy Tree replaces Scout with Will Tweedy and follows him through life in GA in the early 1900s. Race, social class, and religion are all addressed and sometimes questioned. Love and the discovery of it is also present throughout the book. The characters are funny and if you have ever been to the South, you'll see that they are very similar to characters you could find wondering down main street today. Not many people have read this book but if you enjoyed Harper Lee's southern novel, I definitely recommend this one. If you read it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's like Christmas around here!!!

I woke up this morning to this email 

If you are a fellow fan of the gentleman bastards, you know the significance of this. If you're not, you're lucky because you didn't have to suffer the pain of being a fan of Scott Lynch who only adds to the phenomenal series once in a blue moon. To give you an idea of how long I've been waiting, you should know that this is the #1 book on my TBR list of roughly 450. Number one, people! That means it has been on my list longer than any other book!!!
I don't participate in the "waiting on Wednesday" meme but if I did, this would be the only book I'd include. Every week. And it's finally here! Now I have to decide if I should re-read the first two or buy this one first. Decisions, decisions. Thanks Scott for finally forcing me to make this tough decision. Because it's really a win-win either way. Anyone else excited?

Monday, October 7, 2013


Title: Arcadia
Author: Lauren Groff

Date Read: October 1, 2013

Summary: In the fields and forests of western New York State in the late 1960s, several dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what becomes a famous commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this lyrical, rollicking, tragic, and exquisite utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and after. The story is told from the point of view of Bit, a fascinating character and the first child born in Arcadia. goodreads

Review: This is another one of those uncle hand-me-downs that I got over the summer and this book came out of left field and smacked me in the face. I loved it! I started this book without even reading the summary and was amazed when I found myself genuinely connecting with characters and the story. A story about a bunch of hippies! I’m as un-hippie as it gets. The closest I’ve ever come to hippie-dom was wearing a tie dye shirt I made when I was little. (That thing was ugly but no one ever mentions how hard tie dying can be when you’re a kid and when you finally create one, you rock that baby. Brown colors or not.) I could never live on a commune. I support the idea of everyone working for their share but know that, as proven by this book, it rarely actually works out that way. So why did I enjoy this book so much?

Well, for one, Bit. Little Bit of a hippie. I loved the way this story was told through his eyes and at every age, the viewpoint seemed so genuine. It felt as though a 5 year old was really describing the way a commune works in his own special, albeit distorted, ways. It felt as though a 14 year old was really pouring his heart while going through one of the most upsetting and life changing points of his life and puberty at the same time. I was able to see how the commune genuinely affect Bit in his 30s and then the struggle between his love for Arcadia and his life in the city in his 40s. I also felt that Bit was just a genuine person all around. He was caring and loving and it came back to bite him in the ass sometimes which I thought was honest. Being caring and loving are great traits that can get you very far in life, but they can also get you burned easily if you don't look out. Bit got burned/abandoned by the "love of his life" which got him stuck in a rut for awhile. As the story progressed, we saw him crawl out of his rut, overcome more sadness and hurt, and begin to find his place in a world that began in Arcadia and moves on to city living.

The author did a phenomenal job of creating Acardia and helping the reader (even an anti-hippie reader) connect with the community and understand the reason this place existed in the first place. She helped us see impact of mental illness and addictions through various lenses which allowed the reader to truly understand how family members view these diseases. She also pointed out the flaws in this type of living if people who aren't like Bit, Hannah, Astrid, and Abe are involved. She did it in a loving way that people can understand without completely destroying the abstract concept of a "successful hippie commune." As I said, the hippie life is not for me but this book gave me a glimpse into why people choose this life and what it would take to make it work; as well as how easily utopia can be destroyed. Check it out!

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Death in China

Title: A Death in China
Author: Carl Hiaasen, William D. Montalbano
Date Read: September 23, 2013
Series: Black Lizard #3

Summary: An American investigating his mentor's murder finds himself ensnared in a web of lies and treachery in China, where even tomorrow's weather is a state secret. From a nightmarish interrogation to assassination by cobra, A Death in China takes readers on a trip with no rest stops through a world of claustrophobic mistrust and terrifying danger. goodreads

Review: This book was originally published in 1984, so it is really old school Hiaasen. My uncle passed this along to me in a huge stack of books containing various genres and authors. He finds gems now and then so I'm giving all of them a try. I knew nothing about this book other than good ole Carl wrote it, which is enough for me. (Sidenote: it turns out, this is book three in a series but I was unaware of that until I just looked the summary up on goodreads. That should tell you that this book easily stands alone.) Usually, I'm a huge Carl Hiaasen fan and I can tell his writing apart from different authors. The scenes tend to be set in FL, there is a lot of humor and wit in the writing, and there is some sort of crime solving going on. This book was set in China with zero humor. Should have known something was fishy from the start and I blame that Montalbano fellow.

Overall, I was unimpressed with this book. It was just ok. The plot and writing were adequate but I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters other than David Wang. There were no usual Hiaasen-isms that I was looking forward to which was a big disappointment, but I'm going to chalk that up to the use of a co-author and his lack of writing maturity in 1984. I knew very little about Chinese politics coming into this book and it was very interesting to see them through the eyes of an American, various Chinese, and some Americans who work at the embassy in Peking. Other than that, I don't have a lot to say. I wasn't necessarily bored with this book but it was definitely not a page turner. Just ok.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge Day 12

How do you fight blogger fatigue?

Since I've only been blogging for a couple months, I'm still bright eyed and bushy tailed when it comes to blogging. But I do find myself getting bored with review after review and I want to add more to my blog. I've decided to keep this blog focused on books rather than personal stuff (did a personal blog and enjoyed it but found out I was not entirely interested in blogging every meal I ate and event I went to) which can leave me with little to talk about while I'm working on finishing novels. I love blogging prompts like this. Memes are fun too. I also read a lot of other blogs and make notes of things that I find that I enjoy reading about. With that being said, I'm open to suggestions on things people would like to see more on this blog. Yes, it's my blog and it's up to me what goes on it, but I'm all about some brainstorming! Any ideas?