Monday, June 30, 2014


Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1)Title: Feed
Author: Mira Grant
Read: June 24, 2014
Series: Newsflesh #1

Summary: The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.

The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives - the dark conspiracy behind the infected.

The truth will get out, even if it kills them. goodreads

Review: First things first, I'm the realest yes, this is a zombie book but it is also sooooooo much more! I'm sure I'm one of the last book bloggers on the planet to read this book (and review it) so I'm sure you've heard this all before. I knew this book would be good but I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did because I'm not a huge zombie person. Yes, I got into Walking Dead with the rest of the world but I don't really watch anymore because it became redundant and I didn't care. It's hard to follow a story if the whole plot is trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. I'm not interested in that. I need more. And Grant, gave me way more!

So, where do we start? Characters, my fav! We follow George (aka Georgia), her brother Shaun, and their bestie Buffy, who are all bloggers, onto the presidential campaign trail.  Already we have news, blogging, and politics in a world overrun with zombies. This is SO not a "zombie book." Shaun and George are not biological siblings but they are as close and loyal to each other as most twins are. The relationship is real and emotional and unbreakable. Buffy is their friend who helps them run their blog and she's a techie with the best of the best hardware. Together, along with other members of their team, they provide the world with a glimpse of a presidential campaign from the inside. And all the while, zombies are a threat.

I enjoyed all of the characters, even the bad ones, and I think one of my favorite parts of this story was that romance was not the main component. It's hard to find a strong, female, lead character (under the age of 50) whose whole world doesn't revolve around boys. Why the hell is that?!?!?! In real life, there are plenty of strong, females who lives do not revolve around romance. Actually, most intelligent, successful women fall into this category. Yes, the feel love and desire romance but it definitely isn't the end all be all of their life's happiness. This should be better represented in novels IMHO, but I digress.

As the story goes along, we experience death and loss (what do you expect? It's a "zombie book," not everyone is going to survive) and I'll admit I cried. But in addition to that, we discover a conspiracy! Politics and conspiracies go hand in hand so we shouldn't be surprised but the plot was well developed and drawn out and I was thoroughly entertained throughout.

Finally, we should address the zombies. They do play a role but people have learned to live with them after twenty years and they just have more security and find ways to live despite the ever present threat. Some people hunt zombies while others avoid them. Everyone has their own way of dealing. But I think the best part of this book was that while there were plenty of zombie scenes, they weren't overly graphic and sickening. I also thought the science behind the disease was interesting and makes sense. That always helps.

If you're looking for a pure zombie book, look elsewhere. If the idea of zombies is intriguing but you need a good plot line behind it, run to the nearest bookstore and pick this up, you won't be disappointed. And needless to say, I will be continuing the series.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard PeacockTitle: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Read: June 11, 2014

Summary: How would you spend your birthday if you knew it would be your last?

Eighteen-year-old Leonard Peacock knows exactly what he'll do. He'll say goodbye.

Not to his mum - who he calls Linda because it annoys her - who's moved out and left him to fend for himself. Nor to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing the unthinkable. But to his four friends: a Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour, a teenage violin virtuoso, a pastor's daughter and a teacher.

Most of the time, Leonard believes he's weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he's not. He wants to thank them, and say goodbye.

Review: This book destroys any argument Ruth Graham made about why adults should be embarrassed to read young adult. Not that I thought her argument was valid to begin with (read and let read, woman!) but this book shows that a "young adult" book can (and should) be read and enjoyed by the masses. In this touching, well written, deep story, we meet Leonard Peacock. From the beginning, it's obvious that Leonard is a little different than most of the people in his school. His best friend is his elderly neighbor who he watches movies with, he's the son of a "rock star" and a fashion designer who couldn't want anything less to do with him, and he recently cut off all of his hair with scissors. Oh yea, and he's suicidal.

This book gives a brilliant glimpse into a teenager's mind as well as person who has a history of trauma and is currently suicidal. I don't have enough positive things to say about this book. Yes, the homicide/suicide idea is not easy to address and focus on and it was a little predictable, but Matthew Quick did a phenomenal job of addressing how various events in a teenager's life can easily lead to suicidal thoughts. Now, I won't get all therapeutic on everyone (even though all of my therapist red flags were flying throughout the whole book) but I think this story shows what can go through a suicidal teen's head. The warning signs are there all day long and people miss them or they acknowledge them and fail to do something about it. It's heartbreaking and it happens every day in our society.

When we meet Leonard, we realize he is a smart, sarcastic, engaging teenager and he is the boy who would grow up to do great things if only he could survive high school. Like many kids out there. But he has to find a way to survive, and he hasn't. He thinks suicide is his only way out. I wasn't one of the cool kids in high school and I wasn't one of the losers either (I don't think at least.) I floated along with my group and made it out alive. I also know how hard it is to do that especially if people are telling you that "high school is the best time of your life." I was told this and I can 100% say it was wrong. I can also state with 100% accuracy that 9th grade was the worst year of my life! But this is the message we sell to teenagers. Can you imagine thinking that high school is as good as it gets? It's easy to understand how suicide becomes so common at that age if that is what you are taught. Let's stop teaching kids this, please!!!

Now, back to the story. We follow Leonard throughout the day on his 18th birthday (which nobody in his life even acknowledges) and we also start to understand the history that got him to this suicidal state. (Side note: I will warn you, there are a million footnotes which provide flashbacks and comments throughout the book but they are worth it. I suggest using an e-reader because one click gets you where you need to go but to each his own.)  We found out that Leonard is thoughtful and takes other people's feelings into consideration when he is planing his suicide which is why he has presents for the four most important people in his life. Our hearts break with him as we have to relive some of the worst moments in his life but we also hope throughout the whole story that someone, somewhere, will stop him from what he is about to do. I won't spoil it for you because you absolutely have to read this book. It will make you laugh, cry, think deeply, and want to watch a good Bogart film. Go pick it up whether you love or hate young adult because your feelings on YA are irrelevant when it comes to reading this book. Go. Do it now.

"I can tell you get it-- you're different. And I know how hard being different can be. But I also know how powerful a weapon being different can be. How the world needs such weapons. Gandhi was different. All great people are. And unique people such as you and me need to seek out other unique people who understand--so we don't get too lonely and end up where you did tonight."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Empty Mansions

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American FortuneTitle: Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
Author: Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Read: June 8, 2014

Summary: When Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the nineteenth century with a twenty-first-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money?

Dedman has collaborated with Huguette Clark’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have frequent conversations with her. Dedman and Newell tell a fairy tale in reverse: the bright, talented daughter, born into a family of extreme wealth and privilege, who secrets herself away from the outside world.

Huguette was the daughter of self-made copper industrialist W. A. Clark, nearly as rich as Rockefeller in his day, a controversial senator, railroad builder, and founder of Las Vegas. She grew up in the largest house in New York City, a remarkable dwelling with 121 rooms for a family of four. She owned paintings by Degas and Renoir, a world-renowned Stradivarius violin, a vast collection of antique dolls. But wanting more than treasures, she devoted her wealth to buying gifts for friends and strangers alike, to quietly pursuing her own work as an artist, and to guarding the privacy she valued above all else.

The Clark family story spans nearly all of American history in three generations, from a log cabin in Pennsylvania to mining camps in the Montana gold rush, from backdoor politics in Washington to a distress call from an elegant Fifth Avenue apartment. The same Huguette who was touched by the terror attacks of 9/11 held a ticket nine decades earlier for a first-class stateroom on the second voyage of the Titanic.

Empty Mansions reveals a complex portrait of the mysterious Huguette and her intimate circle. We meet her extravagant father, her publicity-shy mother, her star-crossed sister, her French boyfriend, her nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the relatives fighting to inherit Huguette’s copper fortune. Richly illustrated with more than seventy photographs, Empty Mansions is an enthralling story of an eccentric of the highest order, a last jewel of the Gilded Age who lived life on her own terms. goodreads

Review: If you are an adult in this country, you have probably heard of the Astors. What about the Vanderbilts? The Rockefellers? When we think of great wealth in this country, those are the names we think of. What about the Clarks? You've never heard of them? That's ok, most people haven't. But this story will tell you all about them!

Huguette Clark is the youngest child of W.A. Clark who was copper tycoon, Senator, and very rich man throughout the late 1800's and early 1900's. This story starts with Clark's childhood and ends with the death of Huguette. Along the way, we find out how Clark made his millions and what happened to all of that money. It's completely fascinating to me. That being said, if you are not interested in non-fiction, history, and coveting large amounts of money that some Americans have access to, this is not the book for you. If you love hearing about self-made millionaires, heiresses, mansions, family drama, and our country in the early 20th century, you should check out this book!

While reading about how Clark grew up and started to acquire his businesses and make his money, I found myself thinking of Atlas Shrugged a lot. There were some great comparisons such as railroad tycoons, immense wealth, hard work, and becoming a target because of all of these things. The difference is, W.A. Clark is a real person who really did these things. He was a hard work, very successful business man and you had to respect him for it (regardless of any debauchery during his Senate elections.)

We also get to meet Huguette and follow her from childhood to her dying day. What a unique experience she had as a child. Her father was one of the richest men in the country and she unlimited money at her disposal. It is clear that this upbringing would create unique individuals and that is exactly what Huguette was. She was very private from a young age and found her passion in art, dolls, and doll houses. She turned into a recluse during her later years but had a good head on her shoulders which impressed me. She made decisions for herself (which can be disputed but I believe) and she had her own way of doing things. She was also very generous her entire life and never stopped giving.

Parts of this book had a Grey Gardens feel, but Huguette was much more sane and classy than that. It's sad to think that these beautiful pieces of property (houses, paintings, and belongings) were never enjoyed by anyone during the last 60 years, but it was Huguette's decision to make and she had her reasons.

The end of the story which focuses mainly on the court cases disputing her will between her family and her late in life confidants saddened me but I completely expected it. This book is written by one of her distant family members and I wonder how biased it is and what his other family members would say about the research and findings that this book was based on but I can only hope that the people who deserve it, who ever that may be, get what Huguette intended.

Like I said before, I love hearing about this part of history and swoon over the pictures and the stories behind them. I never knew who the Clarks were until I read this book but now that I know, I will never forget their role in our country as it is today.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Daughter He Never Knew

The Daughter He Never KnewTitle: The Daughter He Never Knew
Author: Linda Barrett
Read: June 6, 2014

Summary: "Tell Lila not to wait..."

Five simple words -- scribbled on an impersonal Christmas card to his parents -- changed Lila Sullivan's life forever. Jason Parker, the boy she'd loved, was never coming back to her...or to the daughter he'd never seen. He'd fled Pilgrim Cove five years before, taking all his hurt and guilt with him. Only his promise to return had kept Lila going.

Now four more years have passed, and Lila is about to marry someone else. Eight-year-old Katie is thrilled to be getting a dad and a sister. A real family of her own.

Then Jason sends a new message. This time it's personal. He's coming home. goodreads

Review: I don't know if you picked up this gem from the picture above, but prepare yourself, this is a SUPERROMANCE! What?!?!?! I didn't even know such a thing existed! But rest assured, it does and it seems Barrett is the author of some of them. I'm not sure how this ended up on my TBR (along with most of the books) but I knew nothing about it going in. I quickly found that Pilgrim Cove is most likely the place of multiple SUPERROMANCE stories that are all probably just as short and sweet as this one. When we are introduced to this lovely sea side town, we meet lots of other characters who seem to have a back story but it is not exactly the focus for the reader. I assume this is because each of these characters/couples has their own SUPERROMANCE that we are supposed to have already read. I didn't. My bad.

That being said, I really enjoyed this little love story. The main characters and their history were well developed and I enjoyed getting to know them better. I think Jason Parker is one of the best men out there, even though he lost himself for a decade. Now he's got his stuff back together and he is coming home to make amends. I give this book credit because it made me cry twice which I wasn't expecting and I found myself connecting with the characters more than I thought I would. I loved the younger generation in this book as well as the older one. Barrett does a good job of giving everyone a real personality and not just making the younger ones "kids" and the older ones "old guys."

While the writing is not phenomenal, and the story is not especially deep or symbolic, I really enjoyed immersing myself in this town with these characters. You can get a lower rating from me if your deep, meaningful novel bores me but it's not hard to get a high rating if I thoroughly enjoy the book (even if it's nothing to write home about.) Sometimes, I just need to check out of reality and enjoy what I'm reading because it's easy. If you are looking for a short, sweet beach read, I don't think you can go astray with any of the books set in Pilgrim Cove.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts

Once again I'm linking up with Christine over at Bookishly Boisterous for 

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts

  • Remember how I told you my Feed ebook copy was screwed up? Well my husband picked up a copy for me from the library yesterday and while I'm only 50 pages in, I'm loving it!!!
  • While reading this book, I realized it has been a hot minute since I checked out a real book from the library. I'm all about their digital downloads and overdrive but it's nice to have a normal library book for a change. 
  • I've finished Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and loved it. I don't have any idea how to start a review for it though so I'm just letting my feelings marinate for a little while.
  • Last year, my husband and I got married in upstate NY which is where we vacation every summer. This year, he is trying to find a new job which will not allow him to go on the family trip in late August.  I've repeatedly expressed that I think this is super lame. That being said, as bad as I feel for him, I've recently decided to road trip up there with my sister (without him, sorry dude) and I'm super excited about it now. 
  • Last week was a full moon and Friday the 13th and in my line of work, that equals full on crazy. I'm happy to say I survived and only one of my clients went buckwild. That's a win in my book and my buckwild kid is doing fine for everyone wondering. 
  • I wish my computer at work allowed me to view/upload pictures to this blog because my posts would be much better but it doesn't and I think that is lame. If you ever see a post with a un-viewable picture, let me know! I check my posts on my comp at home and my phone but sometimes it still doesn't work for everyone. I guess that's what I get for blogging from work. Shhhh!
  • It's currently halfway through June and I'm already over the ridiculous heat in my city. There is no breeze, 1000000% humidity, and lots heat trapping concrete and buildings. I would love to live somewhere where I could do outdoor activities during the summer without feeling miserable. Take me back to CO!!!
And that's all I have for you this week, folks. I'm going to go sit in some A/C and drink lots of water to survive summer in the South. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)Title: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Read: June 5, 2014
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1

Summary: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? goodreads

Review: To say this book was backed by a lot of hype would be an understatement. People were literally gasping for breath while reading this book and swooning while reviewing. Of course, when something is built up this big, I usually end up disappointed. Not always, but frequently. And I'm sorry to say I was a little disappointed. I enjoyed various parts of this book (which I'm about to get into) but it was definitely not life changing. I didn't swoon and I'm not dying for the next one. Now I'll explain why!

First, the positives. I actually really liked Taylor's writing. She did an awesome job of world building and I enjoyed her unique view of the angel vs. demon story without focusing on heaven vs. hell. I actually think this is one of the things that makes her stand out from other angel/demon stories. Very well done! I also found myself admiring her way with words. I've included a few quotes to show you what I mean:

"For the way loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve-- like the soul's version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable." 

"I don't know many rules to live by," he'd said. "But here's one. It's simple. Don't put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles-- drug or tattoo-- and... no inessential penises, either." 

"After she cried, she felt at once hollow and... better, as if the salt of all of her unshed tears had been poisoning her, and now she was cleansed." 

Like, seriously!?! She made me feel exactly what the characters were feeling.S he made me laugh and mourn with them. I empathized with them because of her words. I think this is a beautiful skill and one that should be praised but I wish I would have liked the whole story better.

As far as characters go, I really liked Karou. She was a strong, independent, girl who learned from her mistakes and found her own way in life. I admire that and thank Taylor for creating such a main character. I also loved all of the "chimaera" and thought they were very well developed. What I found lacking was Akiva. I didn't think he was charming or attractive or anything other than some other guy. Honestly, I liked creepy, over baring, bad ex-boyfriend Kaz better. I do feel like Akiva was a little redeemed in my eyes when we got to his back story but that leads me to the story time line itself.

The way this story is written, there is essentially the present for the first 2/3 of the book and then, BAM you are transplanted back into the history. I hated this part of the book. It helped me grow to like Akiva a little more but I didn't really like Madrigal and I predicted that connection to the present (which I won't spoil here.) Unfortunately, this turn of events change how I viewed Karou and not for the better. I found myself a little disappointed.

I'm still very interested in the world that Taylor created so I will more than likely continue the series but I'm missing what all the hype is about. Did you read this book? If it blew you away, tell me why!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts

Once again, I'm linking up with Christine at Bookishly Boisterous for 

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts

  • My monthly reading goals just crumbled this weekend. I finished Empty Mansions (review to come) and started The First Warm Evening of the Year and let me tell you, it was horrible! I got about 30 pages in and just couldn't do it anymore. The writing was horrendous, the story was hard to follow, I was predicting what was going to happen and didn't like it. Hated the whole thing. So I put it down and I will never pick it back up. That's right, y'all. I have a DNF. I even made a list for it on Goodreads. I decided I wasn't wasting my time which is a big step for me. Then I opened my ebook copy of Feed ,which I've been so excited to read, and the format is wonky. I HATE THAT! I go through all this trouble of downloading it from my library, transferring it and putting it in calibre for it not to work? Drives me crazy. So now I have a hold on the dead tree version of it at my library but I'm also considering just buying it (either ebook or regular) because I've heard such good things. If I buy it though, my OCD will require me to buy the whole series. Regardless of whether I like them all or not. (Yes this is crazy and yes this has come back to bite me in the past, I'm looking at you Sookie Stackhouse.) 
  • In other news, I've started Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and am loving it. But after that, I'm officially out of TBR goal books for this month. As you know, all of my goals come from the TBR list in hopes of diminishing it and I either haven't finished my goals each month or have just barely done it in time so I'm starting on the next month. So that means, I can finally return to my regular shelf of books on my nook that are not technically from my TBR list. Does that make sense? Regardless of my crazy, I'm excited! 
  • The big achievement of this weekend (other than finishing a book or two) was that I finally uploaded all of my wedding pictures to an online album everyone can see and to facebook. This may seem easy but I had to rearrange them all chronologically (which was a mess) and it was a huge pain in the ass because my Mac did not want to drag and drop permanently in the folders. Literally took me all weekend but I did it. Then was pleasantly rewarded by lots of compliments :) 
  • I never upload pictures to facebook and never do selfies so uploading all of these pictures felt extremely egotistical to me but I bit the bullet and did it. Like I said, the compliments are nice, but it's still a little weird.
  • My husband and I have downloaded a Spanish speaking app to improve our Spanish (obvi) and he can already say Tu eres una mujer. I'm so proud. (sidenote: I minored in Spanish but am hoping this app will be a good refresher. So far, so good!) He told me we can start speaking Spanish in our house and "be one of those fancy couples." Looking forward to that. 
What are some of your thoughts this week?

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)Title: The Cuckoo's Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith
Read: May 28, 2014
Series: Cormoran Strike #1

Summary: A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. goodreads

Review: Well it looks like since the cat's out of the bag, the summary now exposes JK for writing under a pseudonym. I was so excited when I found out she had written another book but I can't imagine how devastated she was when her secret leaked (or was she? It could have also been an awesome publicity stunt.) That being said, I don't know if I would have picked up this book as soon as I did if JK hadn't been behind it. I love a good mystery but series like this aren't always at the top of my TBR lists and it probably would have fallen into my hands just by luck from my dad. Either way, I'm very glad I read it and was pleasantly surprised to find out the sequel comes out this summer!

So, let's get down to the nitty gritty. Honestly, I loved Strike. I think most people would because he is very enduring and Galbraith (you all know who I'm talking about!) does a great job of backing up his good personality with a deep back story which makes the reader love him even more. He's smart, knows what he is doing, has good morals, and has had his heart broken. He's not the perfect hero that most protagonists are and that's endearing. I also loved Robin. She is newly engaged and Galbraith does a great job of describing this period of time in a young lady's life. Being recently married (and obviously engaged prior to that) I related to her gushing which may have put others off. I thought it was sweet and set up her character well. As we get to know her better though, we find out that homegirl has a brain! Oh, a smart, independent, girl with initiative? Give me more! She fell into Strike's life via a temp agency but was caught up in the PI biz. Who wouldn't be?!?! But the best part about the characters was their platonic (for now, I assume) relationship with one another. They're both so fascinated with one another but too shy to express it so they are continuously walking on eggshells and alternately being pleasantly surprised by what the other has done. This dynamic creates a sweet, albeit awkward, relationship that you just root for. Yes, I would like for them to end up together eventually (later books in the series?) but I loved that that didn't happen in this one.

I also enjoyed the plot. I didn't guess who it was within the first 50 pages (even though I had my suspicious) and there were multiple possibilities of who-dun-it so even when I though I knew, I couldn't be sure. I think this is one of the best features of a mystery. I want to be constantly trying to figure it out and still be surprised in the end. The evidence for why the person did what they did made sense and wasn't filled with random events and facts that really didn't make sense.

As far as the writing goes, I did not swoon as I did with Harry but that's ok. I was entertained the entire time and the writing is still very well done. I was expecting something different from Harry as well as A Casual Vacancy and I was pleasantly surprised. Looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Columbine Title: Columbine
Author: Dave Cullen
Read: May 15, 2014

Summary: Ten years in the making and a masterpiece of reportage, "Columbine" is an award-winning journalist's definitive account of one of the most shocking massacres in American history.

It is driven by two questions: what drove these killers, and what did they do to this town?


"On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma City-style, and to leave a lasting impression on the world. Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence--irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting 'another Columbine.

"When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; we think of Cassie Bernall, the girl we thought professed her faith before she was shot; and we think of the boy pulling himself out of a school window--the whole world was watching him. Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to the prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal.

"The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries, he gives the best complete account of the Columbine tragedy.

"In the tradition of Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, COLUMBINE is destined to be a classic. A close-up portrait of violence, a community rendered helpless, and police blunders and cover-ups, it is a compelling and utterly human portrait of two killers--an unforgettable cautionary tale for our time." goodreads

Review: Well, I read it. Putting this book on my TBR shelf, I was well aware that this would trigger some stuff, I just didn't know how much stuff was there. On this side of it, I'm extremely glad I read it because it exorcised some demons I didn't know I had and I finally have all of the facts that I was too young to understand when it happened. That being said, reading this book was one of the most emotional reads of my life. There were points in the first half of the book where I got light-headed and dizzy (some was pretty graphic) and others where I just had to put it down and walk away. I'm sure everyone who has read this book has moments like this but for me, it was even more than expected.

I explained earlier this week how I interpreted Columbine growing up in CO and once I moved away, so that should explain all of the feels this book brings up. This books falls into the 'true crime' genre like In Cold Blood. I read Capote's novel a year or so ago and I remember being creeped out by it but thoroughly intrigued. It's interesting to hear the details of a well known crime in our country. The difference is, I was so far removed from that book that I had not even heard of the actual crime until reading about. Obviously not the case with this one.

I don't want to focus on all my feels during this whole review because there is much more to it than just my reaction. While the events were horrific, the way this story was told presented them in a way to give the reader a glimpse into who Eric and Dylan were. Dave Cullen does a good job of explaining the concept of a psychopath and explicitly provides evidence to prove that Eric was one. By doing so, he seems to relieve Dylan of some of the guilt because he was so caught up in Eric's plan that he just followed along and didn't know what he was actually doing. I'm not sure I completely agree with this view of it but I really enjoyed hearing about the psychological assessment of the boys.

The format of the book was a little weird for me. The first half of the book introduces some of the main people but focuses mostly on the details the day of. The second half of the book goes backwards and fills in the back story of Dylan and Eric and allows the reader to understand some more of who they were and what they were capable of. It also focuses on the aftermath and the psychology of what the boys did. I would have preferred if the first half would have focused on Dylan and Eric's background and led up to the shootings but this book jumped right in.

Cullen did a good job of providing all of the evidence and theories which I didn't know very much about. As hard as it was to hear the details of the shootings, it actually helped me to understand what actually happened. As a child, I had lots of ideas of what happened and had heard all of the rumors but a lot of it got twisted  over the years. While the details are intense, they actually helped me work out some of my own feelings.

In the end, I'm glad I read this book for both personal reasons and literary ones. I'm interested in true crime and I think this book was done well for anyone who likes that genre. Parts of the book are hard to read because they are true and actually happened but I'm assuming it would be easier for some more than others. If you've read this book, leave a comment letting me know what you think!

Have you read this book? What do you remember about Columbine?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Reading Columbine: My Background

It's not often that I get very personal on this blog. I keep things mostly book related and rarely comment on things that are happening to me or have happened in my life. I've started adjusting this a little and have participated in some more personal weekly memes but it's a new thing for me.

Today, I'm going to get very personal and tell you about my childhood. I do this only because it relates back to something bookish. As many of you know, I decided to read Columbine this month. While this would be a hard story for someone to read regardless, it really hits home for me. While reading it, I realized I couldn't review this book without addressing my history because it brought up so many memories and feelings.

The following explains the way Columbine affected me as a child in Colorado as well as how it has impacted the way I read the book:

File:The rock of Castle Rock IMG 5189.JPG
The "castle rock" my town was named after. You can kinda see the castle if you squint. 

If you couldn't tell already, I grew up in Colorado. I lived in a small town south of Denver called Castle Rock (about 20 mins from Denver and about 20 mins from Columbine.) If you've been to that area of CO, you will know that it is serious suburbia. The county I grew up in is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. It's tends to range from middle class to upper class and is as non-multicultural as it gets. I went to school with two African American kids who were brothers and the sons of a Bronco football player. I went to school with people who looked like me, acted like me, and had families similar to mine. Very sheltered!

Not my actual neighborhood but you get the idea.
My childhood in this suburban paradise was perfect. I wanted for nothing and I was surrounded by friends and my immediate family constantly. I lived on a perfect little cul-de-sac with 6 houses and all the kids I could ever want to hang out with. We would roam the neighborhood all day long jumping between each others yards and the neighborhood pool with relatively limited parental supervision.

In 1999, I was in 6th grade in my perfect little bubble. On the day of April 20th, everything was pretty normal until about lunchtime. At that point, the entire school was moved into the cafeteria, we all sat on the floor, and the lights were turned off. We were told we were in "lockdown" but to us, all that meant was that we were going to miss recess and we were bummed. I vaguely remember the teachers and adults scrambling around but I was mostly focused on sitting next to my friends and talking.

We were eventually told that we were all going home and our parents were picking us up which was very exciting. When my mom picked my brother, sister, and me up she was very upset. I don't remember how she told us that there had been a shooting at a nearby high school but I distinctly remember sitting in our great room watching the kid climb out of the window and crying with my mom. That was the day I learned that violence truly existed.

I was very sheltered growing up and was blessed to never be exposed to the true ugly side of life. That day I found out that two kids (kids! I was a kid!) killed a lot of their peers at their high school and it scared me.

I didn't directly know anyone who was killed but everyone knew someone at Columbine. The plan wasn't for me to attend Columbine in high school but my neighbor eventually did and we played them in sports. I remember my dad's co-workers and employees had kids who went there and hearing about how they hid out under desks from the "shooters." It was all very surreal and terrifying.

In the aftermath, things changed.  All of our school doors were locked 24/7, we practiced safety drills for "intruders," we were taught to report strangers in the school and to fear trench coats. As the weeks passed, no one forgot what happened but life returned to our new normal. Everyone had the "we are Columbine" stickers on their cars but the talk about it pretty much stopped. We grieved for the people we lost but we didn't dwell and we didn't discuss it anymore. We damn sure didn't refer to Eric or Dylan.

And that was the way it was until I moved to South Carolina in 2001. In 2001, I was in 9th grade and I can distinctly remember the first time I heard someone reference Columbine. I was sitting in Spanish class and a peer mentioned the shootings. I felt like I had been hit by a ton a bricks. Who is he to talk about Columbine? Is he from Colorado too? How does he know about Columbine?

I knew Columbine was a big deal but I guess I never understood what a national issue it was. To us, it was personal. That was our community and it destroyed a way of life for us, but I never took a second to think about how it affected the rest of the country. Egocentric, I know, but pretty common for my age at that time and developmental stage.

To this day, hearing someone refer to Columbine is still weird. I understand how it affected our country as a whole and put fear into schools, but it was too close to home for it to be a "national issue" for me. I'm sure people related to Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook feel similarly. You're too focused on picking up the pieces of your own community to realize that the entire nation is mourning with you.

Now that I'm older (now you know exactly how old!) I know that there were aspects of Columbine I didn't understand as a child and I'm interested in learning more about it. Reading this book brought up way more memories than I realized were there and it was very hard to get through. If you are interested in my thoughts on the actual book, stay tuned until later this week.