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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: Unspeakable

Unspeakable Unspeakable by Dilys Rose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fictional accounts of real people are really hard to write. There have been few that I've read where I feel that the author does the history justice; the true curse of the history major. My matrilineal descent stems from Edinburgh so I've long been fascinated with its history. This novel is an excellent demonstration of what a well researched book can be. The explanation and portrayal of Scottish culture, the dynamic and enigmatic personality of Thomas Aikenhead, the general uncertainty of whether or not his death was justified, these are only a handful of reasons to love this book. Even in a modern setting the fear and utter hatred that was felt for him and by him, the zeal for knowledge and the almost addictive need he had for it still feel every bit as real now as they must have back then.

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Review: The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost

The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost by Lucy Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In all honesty I asked for this book on Netgalley because I thought that it would be something like a modern Sherlock Holmes mystery, the title lends itself to that sort of thought. However the actual book is so much more complex than that. I'm excited to see where this series goes, the characters are developed and well rounded. There is diversity within them and the story line, though confusing in a few places at first, reading this took only hours on a Saturday. I will give this first book credit in that it draws the reader in yet somehow I don't feel like the universe is fully developed, which can give the author room to adapt and change it as the series progresses. I'm looking forward to the next one!

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February is a Fickle Month

Happy Sunday All,

February, month two of 2017, 28 days of wintery bliss that somehow always goes by far to fast. February, the month where I don't feel like I accomplished as much as I wanted to regarding my reading goals. February, the month that distracted me like no other this year! Oh February, by Tuesday you will end, March will begin, and I have a plan; yes I have a plan to March straight into these reading challenges with vigor and coffee. So much coffee.

To date I've completed the following challenges:

Read a book about booksThe Book JumperMechthild Glaser384
Read a book published between 1900 and 1950The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald156
Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your locationTulip Fever (Amsterdam)Deborah Moggach288
Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journeyNorwegian WoodHaruki Murakami296
Read a book published by a micro-pressMargaret The FirstDanielle Dutton176
A book of lettersThe Private Letters of Countess Erzesbet BathoryKimberly Craft142
An audio bookCaravalStephanie Garber416
A book that's a story within a storyThe Miniaturist Jessie Burton 416
An espionage thrillerBad MonkeyMatt Ruff241
A book by an author who uses a pseudonymThe Silent WifeA.S.A Harrison326
A bestseller from a genre you don't normally readHow to fight presidentsDaniel O'Brien272
A book involving travelPassenger/Wayfarer (Time travel)Alexandra Bracken1018
A book that's published in 2017The PossessionsSarah Flannery Murphy368
A book involving a mythical creatureThe Bear and the NightengaleKatherine Arden336
A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile
A book with career adviceGetting an Academic Job in HistoryDana Polanichka112
A book with picturesVlad the Impaler: The Real Count DraculaEnid A. Goldber & Norman Itzkowitz128
The first in a series you haven't read beforeUnder Different StarsAmy A Bartol297
A book with an eccentric characterThe Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and DisappearedJonas Jonasson & Rod Bradbury396
A book you got from a used book saleThe Last LectureRandy Pausch & Jeffrey Zaslow206
Book AAll The Ugly and Wonderful ThingsBryn Greenwood352
Book ZZ: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald Therese Ann Fowler375

Moving on into March I'm realizing that I need to get focused again; books can be distracting, who would have known?

Since it seems that the area I'm lacking in the most at present is my #LitsyAtoZ books they're going to be my March focus. My plan is to read at least five books slated out for that challenge and one for each of the others. Seven challenge slated books, and then whatever else I want to read. Gotta love having that goal right? 

Until next time, 


Thrilling Quick Bits From Net Galley

Her Last Breath by J.A. SchneiderThe perks of not knowing a book is a part of a series is that when book two so completely consumes you, you're excited to go back and read book one. I lost an entire day wrapped up in this book. I didn't move from my seat, I had to plug my Kindle in to the charger right by my chair. Not even sure breathing happened. Then, I lost hours again to book one. I haven't quite finished it yet but Ms. Schneider does a fantastic job of sucking you in and not letting you go. It isn't an easy task, but one that is so crucial for mystery and thriller writers. (Check out Book One here!) 

The Devils Prayer by Luke Gracias: Reading this novel transports you to some of the most beautiful churches and scenescapes in the world. The actual story is haunting, it creeps in under your skin and doesn't let go easily. Comparable to Dan Brown's novels, though a bit more fantastical, the differing story lines will both confuse and entrap you. And while the ending may frustrate you fear not! Book two is due out December of 2017 (AKA for Christmas!)  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Murder of the Persnickity Diva...A Review of Charlotte Holmes Books 1 and 2 (Spoilers)

You can hardly throw a stone outside anymore and not hit a modern Sherlock fan. Either thanks to the BBC, PBS, your grandparents bookshelves, your parents bookshelves, and now we can add Brittany Cavallaro to this list of reasons. 

Need a quick synopsis? Here you go! (Courtesy of Goodreads!)

A Study in Charlotte:
"The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock's genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

The Last of August:
"Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter-break reprieve after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But Charlotte isn’t the only Holmes with secrets, and the mood at her family’s Sussex estate is palpably tense. On top of everything else, Holmes and Watson could be becoming more than friends—but still, the darkness in Charlotte’s past is a wall between them.

A distraction arises soon enough, because Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring. The game is afoot once again, and Charlotte is single-minded in her pursuit.

Their first stop? Berlin. Their first contact? August Moriarty (formerly Charlotte’s obsession, currently believed by most to be dead), whose powerful family has been ripping off famous paintings for the last hundred years. But as they follow the gritty underground scene in Berlin to glittering art houses in Prague, Holmes and Watson begin to realize that this is a much more complicated case than a disappearance. Much more dangerous, too.
What they learn might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other." 

Beginning with A Study in Charlotte and adding in The Last of August I haven't been able to stop this series once I began reading it. Though it is only planned to be a trilogy, Cavallaro does a great job of encompassing the traditional Sherlock and Watson, bringing them into the present day, and having her readers embrace the complexities of their relationship in an approachable and relatable way. One of the first things you have to know about this series start with the names of the characters. Charlotte Holmes and James (Jamie) Watson. Two teenagers at the Sherringford Prep school in Connecticut. Jamie doesn't want to be there, and Charlotte is trying her hardest to make it though uninterupted. 

Their relationship is slow to start, sped along by the murder of Lee Dobson. After reading A Study of Scarlett I truly loathed Lee, he's an idiot, a rapist, and a moron; needless to say I didn't mourn his death any. The baffling part is that Lee isn't even the worse person in the book! You'll end of hating the school nurse, Augst Moriarty's ex-fiance, the architect of Charlotte's rape, and the murder of Lee and almost murderer of Jamie. She's a well written villan, causing you to, for only a moment, sympathize with her and her course of action. Then you realize she's insane and you're mad when Charlotte isn't allowed to completely destroy her. 

As their relationship progresses in The Last of August, I was drawn to their hesitation to be anything more. Jamie often feels pushe aside or forces his feelings down his throat, while Charlotte either acknowledges them to the point of insanity or becomes a robot. The complexities of their relationship surpass those of adolescents in literature, because of the writing and the history surrounding their famous ancestors, Cavallaro crafts a love/obession/hate triangle between Jamie, Charlotte, and August that makes you ache and yearn for all three of them to be happy. 

The stories themselves follow their original counterparts, brought into the modern world. I found myself far more interested in how Cavallaro modernized them rather than how she deviated from Doyle. Each mystery is centered on Charlotte and Jamie, so the real tale is truly found in their relationship. Any Sherlock fan will love them. 

I, like so many others, am eagerly awaiting her conclusion to the trilogy. (Which I estimate to be out sometime next spring!) 

Until then, or the next time, 


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rember, It's Only A Game... My Caraval Review! SPOILERS!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber can be described as many things, an ode to The Night Circus, a fascinating introduction to a new universe and fandom, a novel that quite literally keeps you turning pages in every direction in an attempt to maintain your sanity and keep yourself firmly planted where you are; and my personal favorite, a novel where at the end of the game, there are no winners for was there ever a prize to be won?

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Caraval here's the synopsis from Macmillian Publishers site: "Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over. 

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. 

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever."

From the moment we first meet Scarlett and Tella you can tell that their bond is one of undying sisterly love, one born from the fear of their father, the loss of their mother, and the necessity of life. Tella is the adventurous, boisterous, sly, cunning, and sultry girl that parents fear; the kind that make the best friend. Scarlett is quite the opposite, she is obedient, fearful, dutiful, and oddly optimistic and hopeful. Scarlett spends several years writing letters to Caraval Master Legend, begging for a ticket, for the Caraval to come to their home so she could play the game just once. Then the inevitable happens, the little girl Scarlett was stops writing the letters because she's grown up and is now being forced to marry a man her tyrant of a father has chosen for her. 

Honestly, until you meet the fiance later in the book it is really hard to believe the man even exists. Their father is truly a monster, you're only a handful of pages in before he's turning his rings around to slap Tella so hard her face is bruised and bloody.

As the beginning carries on you are also introduced to Julian, granted he's making out with Tella (prompting the abuse from her father) but the novel ends with him wrapped in Scarlett's arms. Once the invitation from Caraval Master Legend is received, you see the girls get "kidnapped", Julian becomes Scarlett's confidante, who's played the game before, and you see Scarlett having to stand up for herself and more than that she is having to learn that being angry and confused are acceptable emotions. 

Tella becomes the prize, Julain the distraction, the world of Carval becomes the setting filled with magic, it could truly be a movie; when Daddy Dragna comes to the island with Scarlett's fiance you almost lose hope that Tella will ever be found or that Scarlett will win. Both happen though, Tella is found in a tower, Scarlett wins her wish, though Carval Master Legend is no where to be found (BECAUSE HE IS NEVER ON THE FREAKING ISLAND! That revelation may or may not have resulted in a book being thrown.) We find that Julain, though his love for Scarlett became real, was a player in the game, and in the biggest twist of them all we find that Tella is the reason the invitation was extended at all; this is also the genius way that book two gets established as the game of book one and its tale do get wrapped up nicely. 

Stephanie Garber masterfully and beautifully toys with your emotions while you read. You have to remember the warning at the beginning, this is only a game, nothing is real. Yet she crafted a game that has very real consequences for the players and the readers. I was mesmerized, I was angry, I had to read pages and paragraphs again fearing that I had missed something and trying to foreshadow what would happen only to be proven wrong time and time again. I myself forgot that this was a game, hell I forgot that this was a novel! To have something so completely consume you is magical. Garber uses language to convey the emotions of color, when she describes Scarlett's temporary death as purple my heart ached for her, purple was the color of her father, of her anger and fear. The description of her father's scent, "lavender, anise, and something akin to rotten plums," the back of my throat would tickle with the smell. The way the island where the Caraval took place blossomed with light and magic, the carousel of roses and thorns, it was all so realistic when reading. 

Book Stats: 
  • Series: Caraval (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books (January 31, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250095255

Thanks for Reading, 


Monday, February 20, 2017

Catching Up and Checking In

Happy President's Day!

And on this celebratory day, (where it should be mandatory that the government give us free cake) I am thrilled to say I've completed my challenge list. No, I haven't completed my challenges, well not all of them at least, but I've finished the list for Popsugar and Read Harder so that I'll stop getting distracted with other books and then hope I can fit them in somewhere. Book distraction is a real thing, and it is a real issue for me. I'm a hopper, so at any given time I'm reading/listening to about four or five books. Truly, this is madness.

Since I've been off the last few days this has been my only goal. Now that I've reached said goal I can go through the process of crossing off the books I've read, updating my Goodreads page (which I suck at on a good day sometimes) and tallying up reading challenges. This will also let me move forward with written reviews of the book, more in-depth blog posts about reading, and hopefully I won't lose my damn mind along the way. February is almost over and I feel that in the shortest month of the year I've truly come up short on my reading goals, mainly due to life and reading distractions.

If you're interested, below is the master list I've come up with. I'm not posting what challenge they fit since I don't want complete and utter spoilers haha, but I think I've come up with a pretty impressive list. (NO REPEATS! That deserves a cake on merit alone!)


Title of BookAuthorPage Count
A Moment on the EdgeElizabeth George560
Accidental EmpressAlison Pataki512
All The Bright PlacesJennifer Niven378
All The Ugly and Wonderful ThingsBryn Greenwood352
Almost a WomanEsmeralda Santiago336
AmericanahChimamanda Mgozi Adichie477
AntarcticaClaire Keegan224
Bad MonkeyMatt Ruff241
Bear, Otter & The KidT.J Klune350
Behold the DreamersImbolo Mbue400
Bird BoxJosh Malerman262
Boy Meets BoyDavid Leviathan226
Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold WarGiles Whittell303
Broken MonstersLauren Beukes464
CaravalStephanie Garber416
Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger288
City of Light City of PoisonHolly Tucker336
Count of Monte Cristo (mentioned in Butterfly Garden)Alexander Dumas1276
Dark MatterBlake Crouch354
Eligible Curtis Sittenfeld 512
Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron BurrNancy Isenberg560
FrankensteinMary Shelley 166
Getting an Academic Job in HistoryDana Polanichka112
Hard Luck: Harvey Haddix and the Greatest Game Ever LostLew Freedman210
Hidden FiguresMargot Lee Shetterly373
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their AccentsJulia Alvarez304
How to fight presidentsDaniel O'Brien272
I Let You Go Clare Mackintosh384
January 1973: Watergate, Roe v. Wade, Vietnam, and the Month that Changed America ForeverJames Robenalt420
Johnathan Strange & Mr. NorellSusannah Clarke1006
Julie & Julia Julie Powell310
KatherineAnya Seton500
Life After LifeKate Atkinson531
Lillian Boxfish Takes a WalkKathleen Rooney287
Margaret The FirstDanielle Dutton176
Matilda Roald Dahl240
Missing, PresumedSusie Steiner369
MonstressMarjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda, Rus Wooton202
Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur #1Brandon Monclare, Amy Reeder, Natacha Bustos (illustrator)24
My Lady JaneCynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows512
My Name is RedOrhan Pamuk & Erdag M. Goknar417
Norwegian WoodHaruki Murakami296
Orange is the New BlackPiper Kerman298
Passengar/Wayfarer Alexandra Bracken1018
Personal HistoryKatherine Grahm642
Pleasantville Attica Locke433
Queen of the NightAlexander Chee576
Ready Player OneErnest Cline374
RebeccaDaphne du Maurier393
Rise of the Rocket GirlsNathalia Holt352
Saffron SkiesLesley Loko 613
Seven Skeletons: The Evolution of the World's Most Famous Human FossilsLynda Pryne288
Sisi: Empress On Her OwnAlison Pataki464
Sisters In LawLinda Hirshman390
Swing TimeZadie Smith453
Tales of a Severed HeadRachida Madani, Marilyn Hacker176
The 19th Wife David Ebershoff530
The Bear and the NightegaleKatherine Arden336
The Book JumperMechthild Glaser384
The Case of Jack the Nipper H.L. Stephens328
The Couple Next DoorShari Lapena313
The Eyre Affair: Thursday Next #1Jasper Fforde374
The Geek Feminist RevolutionKameron Hurley288
The Ghost Bride Yangsze Choo368
The GirlsEmma Cline 368
The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald156
The History of WolvesEmily Fridlund288
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and DisappearedJonas Jonasson & Rod Bradbury396
The Inheritance TrilogyN. K. Jemsin1453
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital RevolutionWalter Issacson528
The Invisible Man Ralph Ellison610
The Last LectureRandy Pausch & Jeffrey Zaslow206
The Lonely Hearts HotelHeather O'Neill400
The Lost SisterhoodAnne Fortier608
The Luckiest Girl AliveJessica Knoll352
The Mercer GirlsLibbie Hawker430
The Mermaids DaughterAnn Claycomb448
The Miniaturist Jessie Burton 416
The Mists of Avalon Marion Zimmer Bradley1737
The MuseJessie Burton416
The NestCynthia D'Aprix Sweeney368
The Ocean at the End of the LaneNeil Gaiman256
The PossessionsSarah Flannery Murphy368
The Private Letters of Countess Erzesbet BathoryKimberly Craft142
The RoomsLauren Oliver320
The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific J. Maarten Troost272
The Shining GirlsLauren Beukes375
The Silent WIfeA.S.A Harrison326
The Star Touched QueenRoshani Chokshi342
THe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetDavid Mitchell479
The TrespasserTana French449
The Unraveling of Mercy LouisKeija Parssinen336
The VerdictNick Stone512
The Virgin CureAmi McKay356
Tulip Fever Deborah Moggach288
Under Different StarsAmy A Bartol297
Underground RailroadColson Whitehead 306
Vlad the Impaler: The Real Count DraculaEnid A. Goldber & Norman Itzkowitz128
What She KnewGilly McMillian699
Xanadu John Man352
You Will Know MeMeg Abbot352
Z: A Novel of Zelda FitzgeraldTherese Anne Fowler384