Monday, April 23, 2012

My Ramblings on Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

By: Janet Lee Carey
Release Date: January 5, 2012
Author Website


Wilde Island is not at peace. The kingdom mourns the dead Pendragon king and awaits the return of his heir; the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is strained; and the regent is funding a bloodthirsty witch hunt, hoping to rid the island of half-fey maidens.

Tess, daughter of a blacksmith, has visions of the future, but she still doesn't expect to be accused of witchcraft, forced to flee with her two best friends, or offered shelter by the handsome and enigmatic Garth Huntsman, a warden for Dragonswood. But Garth is the younger prince in disguise and Tess soon learns that her true father was fey, making them the center of an exciting, romantic adventure, and an ancient prophecy that will bring about peace between all three races - dragon, human, and fairy. (from

My Ramblings:
Let's just start by saying that this is a really fun read.  The book started with a few really short scenes, just a paragraph or two each, that highlighted a few key moments in Tess's life. From those passages you knew everything you needed to about Tess, who she is, why she acts the way she does and it allows you to understand all the decisions she makes as we get into the meat of the story. It was a simple but really effective way to start the story. From there the book is broken into three section that break up the major parts of the journey Tess takes throughout the story. 

I love fantasy stories and this was a great one. It has all of the things I really loved about fantasy stories as a kid, witches, dragons, faeries, magic and royalty vying for power. It all fit together seamlessly in this story- it was explained early how the world was set up and from there every interaction made sense. You never thought to yourself "Wait, there's fairy here? How'd that happen" or "Why would Dragons be talking to them?" etc, because it was all laid out from the word go. It made it a very easy read, which is sometimes a problem with made up worlds, and that ease made the book infinitely more enjoyable! 

Tess is an awesome main character. She has everything I like in a girl. She's strong and independent and doesn't need anyone to help her (most of the time). She's also extremely loyal to her friends and it's that loyalty that initially gets them all in trouble, but in the end helps them all make it through. Garth is also a great character, he's not always what he seems but you can still tell that he's a stand up guy, even if he is keeping secrets. I do wish the summary hadn't given his true identity away, because I think I would have enjoyed the slow reveal off who he truly was more then reading the book with his real identity already in my mind. It didn't completely ruin their relationship, but it certainly dampened it quite a bit. That said, they do have a great relationship and I enjoyed their constant back and forth as they both struggled with whether or not to trust the other. I also like that this book was not all about the love story. I like a good love story as much as the next guy, but I really appreciate when a book is driven by the story and conflict and the love builds as a reaction to those events. 

This was a quick, fun read that anyone who likes fantasy would enjoy. This is the second book in a series of stories, the first being Dragon's Keep, but I don't think that you have to necessarily read them in order. I didn't realize there was an earlier book in the series and I didn't feel like I missed out on anything. Carey does a great job setting the story up, so I was able to understand who everyone was and their relationships really easily. That said, I've already put a hold on Dragon's Keep at my library- I can't wait to read more about Wilde Island and all the people who live there!

 Check out this great book trailer!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Ramblings on the Adam and Anthony concert

Last Thursday I had the chance to go see Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp in concert up on campus. When I saw they were coming way back in September I jumped on it. For those of you who don't know who they are, they played Roger and Mark in the original Broadway cast of Rent. 

Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal as Mark and Roger in the
Original Broadway cast of Rent

This has been, and will probably always be, my favorite show. I saw it for the first time in Toronto from way up in the nosebleeds and it instantly found away into my heart. I've now seen the show probably 7 or 8 times, on Broadway on tour, in regional theaters... if it's playing I'm going. On a personal note, back in high school when I did local theater we shared a backstage area with the touring company. They came to our show, they hung out with us a bit and it was basically the coolest experience I ever had. 

This concert was excellent. The set up was simple. Adam plays for an hour, Anthony plays for an hour, they get onstage together and sing a few songs from Rent. The set list was eclectic. Both sang a few original songs, some standards and a few showtunes. Adam really likes to take a known song and flip it on it's head. Anthony loves his 90's music. Both put on an awesome show. 

Adam and Anthony singing Rent

One thing that really struck me was how many of the little idiosyncrasies that I  thought were part of the character Roger and Mark are really more a part of Adam and Anthony. Adam sings with his eye's closed and leans way the heck back when he sings. Anthony fidgets the entire time, his fingers constantly moving and he tugs on his shirt sleeves like they might disappear on him. These are all things I remember from seeing Rent, and it was kind of cool to be reminded how much of the actors went into that show and to creating the characters that I love so much. 

I took a ton of pictures. About 100 in 2 hours, and my camera was being incredibly wonky and only worked about half of the time. I can't even imagine the number of pictures I would have got if it was cooperating. At any rate, here is a slide show of all the pictures. Enjoy! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Ramblings on Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Let's Pretend this Never Happened
By: Jenny Lawson
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Author Website

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father (a professional taxidermist who created dead-animal hand puppets) and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

Lawson's long-suffering husband and sweet daughter are the perfect comedic foils to her absurdities, and help her to uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments-the ones we want to pretend never happened-are the very same moments that make us the people we are today.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened is a poignantly disturbing, yet darkly hysterical tome for every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud. Like laughing at a funeral, this book is both irreverent and impossible to hold back once you get started. (from

My Ramblings:
First of all, you all follow The Bloggess right? If you don't, take a minute and go follow her blog. I take that back. Read this post first then go check out The Bloggess. If you go there first then you'll never be back. I recommend starting with a post about a Giant Metal Chicken named Beyonce and going from there. Now, onto the book. 

This book is about as perfect as you can get. I'm not a huge fan of memoirs because I find that they either come off too weepy (I don't want to read an entire book about peoples rough lives) or too contrived, but Lawson managed to find just the right balance. For every story about a time in her life when she struggled there is a chapter that made me laugh so hard I had to bury my face in a pillow lest I wake up the sleeping toddler. Most importantly the book, despite being only mostly true, felt honest. The struggles she had are struggles I could relate too and to see her come through it is inspiring. 

For me the hardest chapter to read was the one in which she talked about her pregnancies and miscarriages. To be honest I almost skipped the chapter. She even tells you at the start that there will be dead babies on the next few pages and I knew what was coming, because I've totally been there. Then I remembered that the way I got through it was by talking about it and not trying to hide it, so I forged ahead. In this chapter Lawson essentially summed up 2 years of my life... the first found me dealing with 4 miscarriages, the second found me pregnant and completely batshit crazy (but I think hiding it well). Lawson was crushed by that ultrasound that didn't show a heartbeat. So was I. She tried again and again. So did I. She finally got pregnant and had to experience the joy of spending 9 months completely petrified that it would happen again. So did I. She had to tell herself and the cats that it would be okay. I told my dog and my horses and myself a million times every day that we'd get through it, that this time it would work, that it would all be okay. It was hard and heartbreaking and I wouldn't change it for the world, but I also don't ever want to go through it again. I'm so glad she put this chapter in, even though it's hard to think about and hard to read about, there are so many of us that go through it that it's nice to share it, even if it's just through a book. 

There are other sad moments, but by and large everything is handles with a sense of humor and absurdity that makes the whole thing feel a bit like a party. A strange, epically f'ed up party that you really aren't sure you should be enjoying, but by god is it fun. Basically it's exactly what it feels like to read Lawson's blog and follow her on twitter, only on twitter you can attend imaginary parties with Wil Wheaton and unicorns and in the book you get to here more about how her father woke her up with a dead squirrel puppet one time. 

I want to recap every funny story, but instead I'll just say that you should really go get the book. You really won't regret it. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Ramblings on the Raylan books by Elmore Leonard

So this is part II of my massive ramblings on all things Raylan Givens. See Part I, in which I talk about Justified, here. There are four books that go into this series (so far) and I devoured the entire set in just as many days. I read the books in pretty much the same way I watched the show. Which means I did it totally out of order. Just like with the TV show you can definitely do that, especially if you are already familiar with the characters, but I'm sure it makes much, much more sense to do it in order. The four books are: Pronto, Riding the Rap, Fire in the Hole (a short story in the book When the Women Come Out to Dance) and lastly Raylan. My reading order was totally dictated by what order I could get the books in from the library. So I read them in this order. Raylan, Pronto, Fire in the Hole and lastly Riding the Rap. All four books are great and I loved reading them and watching the show at the same time. Sometimes it doesn't work that way, because there are either too many changes or no changes at all. I think the great thing here is that so far it's just right. Characters that disappear early in the books stick around in the show because they are great visual character (looking at you Dickie Bennett) and some characters are tweaked to better fit the show, but remain essentially the same as in the books. 

What I truly love about all the books is that the characters and the dialogue really drive the story. There are no tricks or gimicks, just good story telling. Much like with the show it would be impossible for me to recap all four stories, but in short there are 2 sections to the series. The first in Florida and the second in Harlan County. I especially love seeing some of the characters cross over, even just in name. Those pesky Crowes seem to pop up everywhere causing trouble and Winona is always in the back of Raylan's mind. 

In the first two books we see Raylan dealing with a bookie named Harry who, while trying to get out of the game, actually ends up getting into deeper and deeper trouble. We are introduced to a US Marshall with a quick trigger finger and a deadpan wit who doesn't suffer fools and will go quite a ways to make things right. In the first book he goes all the way to Florida to bring Harry home after he has given Raylan the slip... twice. In book two we are back in Florida and Raylan takes on some seriously messed up folks as he again has to bring Harry back after he is victim to the worlds most screwed up kidnapping hostage situation. I loved that regardless of where Raylan is, he is always Raylan and it's that personality and his willingness to act instead of just think about it (or talk about it) that gets him ahead, as well as in trouble. I also really enjoy the fact that it's acknowledged that Raylan sometimes acts as though he's in an old western, or that he was born in the wrong time and place. It's a bit of a nod to the fact that Raylan is a very stereotypical character who maybe is trying to fit into that mold, or at the very least, use that stereotype to give himself permission to act in ways that aren't always kosher. For instance, the man is fond of the shootout. 

In the short story and the book Raylan, we find Raylan back in Kentucky after being booted from Florida for one of those shootout incidents. For me this is where the story really gets interesting, because Raylan starts to take on more layers. He isn't just the bad ass Marshall anymore, he's interacting with people who he's known his whole life and who he has complicated relationships with. Things aren't quite so black and white anymore because he is a known entity to all these people. He can't just come in with his hat and boots and put on a cool air before taking someone down, they know his game and they knew before he even had a game, before he was a lawman, back when he was just another worker in the coal mines. The only difference between Raylan and some of the people he goes up against is the fact that he is on one side of the law and they are on the other. That really makes the stories pop because you know that there is some inner debate going on for Raylan and he's trying to figure out where he really fits into all this. 

We also start to see the characters from the show, which, as a fan of the show, is great.  Like I mentioned there are a lot of changes from the book and I can honestly say that I can appreciate the story both ways. They really do compliment each other.  One change I love is that in the short story Boyd Crowder ends up meeting his maker. In the show Walton Goggins was so effective as Boyd that they kept him alive (thank god. He is such a great character.) Then in the latest book, which Leonard just released, Boyd is back! He;s not 100% the same as in the show, but the fact that Leonard made it work so Boyd could stick around and be a thorn in Raylan's side is really great for fans. Before you get to thinking that it's a little soap opera-ish, there is no clear indication that Boyd did die in the short story. We just now that he was shot and that Raylan shoots to kill. An inch one way or the other and the shot isn't fatal. The fact that Raylan tried to put Boyd down becomes a great little piece to their relationship, so it works really well in the book without being hokey. 

So that's a relatively short post about these stories. It doesn't even begin to get into all the ins and outs of the plots, but it does give you a little taste of why I do love these stories and these characters. If you haven't read them, and your looking for some quick, fun reads then I'd give them a go! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Ramblings on Justified

This is going to be a huge post. Let's just start with that fact. Initially I was going to talk about my current favorite books and the TV show that made me want to read them. It was so long that I couldn't even get through it, and I was writing it. I'm not talking about just one book here, but three full books and one short story. Plus three seasons of the show. It was ridiculous how much I wrote. So I broke that sucker in half and today you are getting just the show stuff since that's how this obsession started. Tomorrow, the books.  

So once upon a time this was my favorite show:

Deadwood- Greatest. Show. Ever. 

and this guy was a big chunk of the reason.

Seth Bullock- gun fighter, law man and general bad-ass. 

Seriously, Timothy Olyphant was brilliant as Bullock. Everyone on the show was pretty fabulous, but Bullock was my favorite. Have I ever mentioned my wedding? It was a theme wedding. 1880's western. My mom and I made a bunch of the clothes or my Dad and I bought them while we were on vacation in Wyoming. We also had a mechanical bull instead of a dance floor. Basically it was awesome. At any rate, the hubsters request for his clothing? Make me look like Bullock. So that's what we went with. A Deadwood themed wedding. If you've seen the show you know how absurd that it, but we did it anyways. Although my sister/maid of honor put her foot down at dressing like Trixie ;) Longish story short: I LOVE Deadwood and I love Olyphant/Bullock and was pissed as hell when they cancelled the show.

And then....
Justified- Timothy Olyphant being a bad--ass.
Obviously I'm in. 

We were late in the game in getting hooked to this show. We watched the first season on demand, then watched season three and then we watched season two online. Luckily each season is pretty much stand alone and they do a great job of reminding you what the hell happened last season, so we were able to follow along. I was obsessed right away. That tends to happen to me. If I like it, I want to watch it all right now (and then buy the books and then watch everything else the actors have ever been in, and so on). This show is brilliant. Set in present day Kentucky it follows US Marshal Raylan Givens as he goes home to Harlan County and gets sucked back in to all the screwed up-ness that is his home, a place he tried to escape. The dialogue on this show is top-notch. I can't even begin to recap 3 seasons so I'll short hand it. The three seasons include: lots of dead bodies, drugs, a lot of smart people doing bad things and a lot really stupid people doing bad things and a few people trying to do good and it all is strung together by these twisted and perfect relationships. Some of the plot lines are easy to buy, others (um...Dewey and his missing kidneys) are not so believable until it all wraps up and suddenly you realize. "Shit, I'm just as stupid as Dewey Crowe", because no matter how silly the plot line is, the writers do a great job at pulling it together in a way that totally makes sense. Plus it was all about Raylan and just like he was great as Bullock in Deadwood, Olyphant is great as Raylan. 

Olyphant as Raylan- I like this picture even though he's hardly ever
this relaxed on the show. He usually has a gun or is getting into
it with some bad guy and being awesome. 

The characters on the show are great. Raylan Givens is a great lead characters. Flawed but doing his best to get by. He's screwed up, has a messed up family, an ex-wife he still loves and an itchy trigger finger. I came to the show because of Olyphant, but the other characters get under your skin fast. I was going to try and highlight some of the stand outs and then had to delete the paragraph because I realized I was mentioning everyone that has ever been on the show and that's a lot of people over the three seasons. Suffice it to say, every character is there for a reason and the actors all do a great job at making you care about them. Even the stupid ones. The fact that I might love the ones that don't stand a chance of getting out of Harlan alive is a testament to how well they are written. The fact that I feel bad at all for Dickie Bennett is a miracle.

Jeremey Davies as Dickie Bennett
I care about this guy despite him being a total waste
of air. I think it's the epic hair that he is always rocking.

The best character, besides Olyphant as Raylan,  is Boyd Crowder.

Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder
He's firing a bomb at a church here, full of African Americans,
because he was a white supremacist in Season one. Yet somehow
by the middle of season two he's redeemed himself enough that
I totally love him. That's what good writing can do. 

I'm not going to recap his whole arc, but it's awesome. Boyd goes from skin head blowing up buildings, to a man struggling for power, to a man in a love trying to keep that power in his grasp. His girl Ava goes from husband killer, to reluctant side kick to Boyd, to a legitimate power player in her own right. The moment she declared where she stood with Boyd by sharing gunshot wounds was spot on and really made me love them both so much more. I loved how this season ended for them. They've got a chance to make a go of it, both as a couple and as the rulers of Harlan County. I love the show as a whole, but I particularly love Boyd and Ava. Together they are better then when they are apart and I can not wait to see what happens next season.

Boyd and Ava
They quickly became my favorite part of this show.

I can't say enough about Raylan and Boyd's relationship either. It drives the show. They were friendly when they were in school and worked the coal mines together and occasionally they really need each other. Most of the time they are on opposite sides of the law and every time they are on the screen together it's good. they are tangled up with each other and it bugs both of them, but they can't get around it. I'm so glad they decided to keep Boyd around (originally he was killed off in the pilot) I can't even begin to imagine this show without Boyd getting under Raylan's skin. 

Boyd and Raylan
On the same side for a minute or two

If you aren't watching this show you should get on it. Netflix it, onDemand, whatever you have at your disposal you should check it out. I'm not sure how I'm going to manage the wait until next season, but I'm seeing a lot of repeats, some Deadwood and discovering the Shield for the first time in my future, just so I can get my Justified or Justified adjacent fix while I wait in anticipation for the next go-round!

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Ramblings on Black Heart by Holly Black

Black Heart
By: Holly Black
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Author Website

Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love. (from

My Ramblings:
This is one of those series that I put off for a long time. I have no idea why. Once I picked it up however, I was sucked right in. This series follows Cassel as he discovers that he has powers he only dreamed of having. Powers that other people, on both sides of the law, will want to use for their own gain. From the start we've seen Cassel come to grips with who and what he is, and what that means for him. 

This book wraps the entire story up very nicely. We finally get to see Cassel really come into his own. He is still a con-man, and still makes some royally f'ed up choices, but by and large, he is just a kid trying to figure out who he wants to be and what kind of life he wants to live, and his choices, good and bad, are at least moving him forward. Many of the relationships in this book are continuations of the characters as we've seen then in the last two books. Cassel is still trying to figure out his relationship with Lila and what about it was real and what about it was fabricated, but in the end the two end up exactly where they should be, and that was refreshing. 

My favorite character in this book is a bit of an odd choice. Barron, Cassel's brother. He's a memory worker and in the previous books he's been something of an asshole. We see his as a bad guy who used and abused Cassel, who altered his sister-in-law's memories and who will basically take whatever deal works best for him, regardless of how it affects those around him. In this book we get a more sympathetic glimpse of Barron. Of the guy who on the surface is all bravado, but underneath is using post-it notes and reminders on photos to keep his life together. He even has to remind himself who his girlfriend is and that he loves her. If he loses those reminders then he loses himself to the blow back from years of cursing others. It was a bit heartbreaking to read about. 

Overall this was an excellent final chapter in the series and I'm really going to miss these characters!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rock the Drop 2012

It's time to Rock the Drop in support of Teen Lit Day. This is a yearly event hosted by the fabulous Readergirlz and Figment. The basic idea is to take some of your favorite books and drop them all over town. Last year I did 2. This year I upped my game and dropped 5. Some went to the park, or to wait for a bus and one even got dropped at the waiting area in Walmart. I was inside for about 10 minutes, but the time I came out a lady was sitting there reading away! Hopefully she was enjoying it.

Here are a few shots of my books hanging out around town.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Ramblings on The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

The Book of Blood and Shadow
By: Robin Wasserman
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Author Website


It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark. 

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life. (

My Ramblings:
This was actually the very first book I read this year. I meant to review it right away, and then it slipped away frm me and pretty soon we were getting close to release date so I decided to hold off until then. So to start HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY! Now, onto the review...

This book is dense. In a completely awesome way. There is so much information and so much action packed into this book, it non stop from start to finish. It's very reminiscent of The Davinci Code, not in story line, but in the way the story flows and in some of the themes. There is a lot of action and intrigue and we see our characters travel across the world to try and solve this centuries old mystery. 

I thought the story was really well thought out and written. What can sometimes happen, especially when you are dealing with a lot of historical facts, you can get bogged down and lose track of who is where and what is what. I never felt that here. I had a pretty good idea of the what they were looking at and what they were looking for throughout the entire story. I was never 100% sure in terms of who the good guys were and who the bad guys were, but that's what made the story so interesting. 

Since this book just came out today I'm going to refrain from commenting on the plot and characters too much because I really don't want to give anything away. I want you to go grab this book and read it yourself! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Ramblings on I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers
By: Barry Lyga
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Author Website


It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful field.

Except for the body.

Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say.
But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, “Take Your Son to Work Day” was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.

And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod. Again.

In an effort to prove murder doesn’t run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

My Ramblings:
This book is creeptastic (that's creepy and fantastic). First off, the cover is amazing, and when you open the book up to the title page it looks like you are leaving fingerprints on it, so that's pretty brilliant. As for the story itself, it's really well done. There are a ton of twists and turns and just when you think you know what's up something else happens that makes you second guess yourself. 

Jazz is a very likable character and I think Lyga got into his mind perfectly. What if your father was a notorious serial killer and he raised you to take his place? What if those images and those "lessons" came unbidden to you all the time? What if you were doing everything you could to make sure you didn't turn out like him but you didn't know if it was working? We get to see how Jazz's brain processes everything and it's like a little window into the creation of a monster, only we don't know if he is one or not. 

My favorite character was a secondary one, Jazz's best friend Howie. Howie is pretty much a serial killers dream, a hemopheliac who could die at any minute, so it's almost like a test to Jazz. If he can protect this thing, this person, this friendship, then it's proof he's not a bad person. Plus Howie is the comic relief, he's up for anything and he's loyal to Jazz regardless of who his father is. 

I don't want to give anything away here so I'm going to keep this review short, but if you like mysteries or psychological thrillers, then this is a perfect book to grab. It will keep you guessing and scare you from page one all the way to the end.