Monthly Archives: June 2015

Fables: Legends in Exile


fables vol 1

Into the woods we go! The Fables Buddy Read and Blog Tour has begun. Check it out here and at Come Hither Books for more information. Up first is Bill Willingham’s Legends in Exile, the first installment in the Fables series. We are introduced to many fairy tale characters that we know and love whether it be from Grimm’s fairy tales or even Disney movies. There’s the big bad wolf, Bigby in the Fables realm, Snow White, and even Beauty and the Beast. However, these aren’t quite the characters that we all think we know. The fairy tale characters in Willingham’s universe are tinged with noir. The women are beautiful and deadly, the men a bit grizzled and jaded. These characters have lost it all and have had to rebuild their lives in Manhattan, away from their fairy tale happy ever afters.

This first installment centers on Snow White and Bigby’s search for what happened to Snow’s sister Rose Red, a link back to the old Grimm’s fairy tale. Their search leads them all over the Fable community where we are able to meet other familiar characters. The plot takes many queues from Agatha Christie, with Bigby becoming a bit like her Poirot. The clues are scattered throughout the novel cleverly and with precision, including the occasional red herring. The ending reads much like a Golden Age mystery, with a big reveal at the end where all characters are present in one fashion or another.

So far I’m loving this series and can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Discussion Questions:

1. Are the personalities of the characters in Bill Willingham’s Fables series, such as Snow White and Prince Charming, exaggerated versions of people or closer to our own reality?

2. In what way did the Fables fairy tale characters surprise you?

3. For fun, which character so far is your favorite and why?

I hope you have as much fun reading this series installment as I did. Happy reading!

Going On A Journey



Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel based on a true story. I was so overwhelmed with all of the available options for this category. I could not make up my mind. It seemed like every day I found another novel that would fit this category and sounded intriguing. I went back and forth, rearranging my list, trying to figure out where to plug in a specific novel and what to take out. I finally decided on Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. I’ve heard really great things about this novel and Krakauer’s writing. And, best of all, the library had many copies of this book.

From the book jacket, and what I’ve heard, this is a novel about a young man’s search for meaning in his life. He leaves everything he has and has ever known behind and begins his journey. He travels all over the United States and eventually ends up in Denali National Park, where his body is found by fellow travelers.

I can’t wait to read this novel and see what the hype is about. Everyone I’ve mentioned it to has amazing things to say about this novel and Krakauer’s other novels. Stay tuned for the full review of Into the Wild. Happy reading!

Ruin and Rising


ruin and rising

Ravka has been torn in two. The great Grisha army has fallen. Alina, the revered Sun Summoner, is in hiding, broken by her last encounter with the Darkling, who is now ruling Ravka from a shadow throne. Deep in the secret chamber called the White Cathedral, Alina is weaker than ever. Unable to summon her power that deep underground, she has grown frail. She was supposedly “saved” by the Apparat but soon realizes that she’s going to become a pawn in a greater game he’s playing. She knows that in order to save Ravka she will have to break free from the Apparat and her ardent worshippers. Since her last battle with the Darkling she’s become revered as Sankta Alina. Her followers trying to build an army around her. They call themselves the Soldat Sol and tattoo suns over their bodies in deference to her.

Alina does manage to break free from the Apparat and her small band of followers set out to find Morozova’s third amplifier and find Nikolai on the way. Their journey takes them through some of the most beautiful and desolate places on the boarders of Ravka straining their relationships and sanity. When they finally find the firebird it’s not exactly what they expected nor is it the third amplifier. Alina realizes this almost immediately, armed with her new knowledge of Morozova given to her by Baghra. The real third amplifier is one that she never expected. A link to Morozova that no one knew existed. The knowledge will test Alina’s courage, heart, and will to save the country she loves.

Ruin and Rising is the last novel in the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I have to say that I was a little disappointed. The parts that were good were great but the parts that weren’t as good felt so forced. This was my least favorite novel of the three. In a way it reminded me of what Stephanie Meyer did in the last Twilight book, just trying to keep her audience happy but having the opposite result. Bardugo tries to maintain relationships in this novel that maybe shouldn’t be. I felt the book would have had more power had she gone through with some of the plot twists instead of reneging on them. The final battle was a bit stilted. I didn’t feel like there was so much lost or gained. The conclusion didn’t meet the hype. The big reveal was a lackluster one, especially in regards to the Darkling. He was such a clever and fascinating tortured villain. He could have his own spin off novels. The one thing I did like about the conclusion however was the effect of the third amplifier. It reminded me of Tuck Everlasting. That perhaps the greatest gift is to lead a normal life.

Overall, I enjoyed the trilogy. I loved the Russian aspects of the novel and had a lot of fun trying to identify what period in history each character and episode was inspired by. The novels have also inspired me to look more deeply into Russian folklore, something I don’t know much about. I think that the trilogy is definitely worth a read and can’t wait to see what else Leigh Bardugo comes out with.

Siege and Storm


siege and storm

Siege and Storm is the second volume in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy. The novel picks up right where Shadow and Bone left off. Alina and Mal are on the run on the True Sea trying to figure out their next move. Unfortunately, “like calls to like.” Alina and Mal are soon captured by the Darkling and his Grisha and forced on the Darkling’s boat. The Darkling has demanded that Mal track the next of Morozova’s amplifiers, Rusalye the ancient ice dragon, to further take control of Aline and magnify her power dual fold. When things seems dire, Alina and Mal are saved by an unlikely ally, a privateer with dubious morals named Stormhond, and his Shu Han crew, Tamar and Tolya. On Sturmhond’s ship, Mal continues to track Rusalye. Determined to save Ravka from the Darkling and his desire to increase and control the Shadow Fold, Alina kills the ancient Rusalye and takes the power for her own. She now has the collar and a new fetter.

After landing, the privateer reveals his true colors, he is the youngest Prince of Ravka. His identity revealed they make their way to the Little Palace, a full circle for Alina, and plan their attack on the Darkling. Unfortunately, Alina can’t stay away from the Darkling for long. She begins to see him in her dreams and waking nightmares, lurking around every corner. The collar at her throat connecting the two.

Much of this second novel is spent trying to build up an army to fight the Darkling, as well as, Alina’s growing need to find the third mysterious amplifier of Morozova to increase her power. Alina is no longer the confused girl of the first novel, unaccustomed to her new power and trying to find her place in the Grisha world. She is now owning her powers to the point of total consumption. She knows she is the one in control and begins to act much more like a leader than a follower. She is controlling her army of Grisha and sets the rules and standards for them.

For me, some of this novel did drag a bit. Though I thought overall it was much better in ways than the first. The second novel continues to follow Alina and you see character growth from every character. There is a lot more at stake in the second novel now that Alina knows where she fits into the grand scheme of things. The ending of this novel was my absolute favorite. I loved the imagery of the fallen idol projecting her own rebirth. There will be much more loss, pain, and glory to come for Alina in Ruin and Rising. 

Stay tuned for the final novel in the Grisha Trilogy. Happy Reading!

Shadow and Bone


shadow and bone

Ravka has been divided for centuries by what is known as The Fold. The Fold is a land of nightmares and shadows with creatures called volcra, a mix in my mind between a giant raven and a vulture. The Fold was created by a man known as the Black Heretic and has since ruled the way the country is run. Set in a kind of pre-revolutionary Russian state, Shadow and Bone is the first novel in the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.

I have to say that I liked this novel a lot. Many of the reviews I’ve seen thus far about this book and the trilogy as a whole have been either loved it or hated it. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground for these books. I really like the mix of Russian history in the novel and the folklore. I really enjoyed trying to guess what part of Russia’s history the different characters represented. There’s pre-revolutionary Russia ruled by the autocrats, here the Lanstov’s, a mix of Lenin and Stalin era Russia with the Darkling and his fanatic followers, and a Rasputin type character in the Apparat. It was amazing the way Bardugo was able to blend and mix Russian history and create this fantasy world of Ravka. Not only does she bend and morph Russian history, she takes Russian folklore and creates something new and different. The Grisha and their centuries old powers, not magic exactly but more ingrained in them as a person. They practice what is called the small science, not creating but using what is already in the world to enhance their gifts. Creating magic in this world is soul destroying.

Most of the comments I’ve seen are in regards to the protagonist Alina Starkov, the savior of Ravka. Many think she fails as a heroine but I found her flaws refreshing. She’s a convincing teenage girl, just trying to fit in with those around her. In trying to fit in, she never realizes the power that she possesses. She has a great need to belong and the relationships she forges are for life, especially her relationship with Mal. She was never trained to rule or be a hero and, refreshingly in my mind, doesn’t magically become one once she realizes she has Grisha power. She has to be groomed and trained. So many of the fantasy YA heroes and heroines just magically become so sure of themselves and their powers. I really liked watching Alina grow into her own and second guess herself. She makes mistakes, some devastating, but manages to bounce back. She looks to those around her for guidance and has the foresight to rely on others for their expertise, not just her own. This doesn’t always go well but, again, it’s nice to see a heroine be able to make mistakes and be indecisive.

Shadow and Bone does still follow the typical YA fantasy formula but has enough intrigue, especially with the layers of Russian history, to keep me reading. I can’t wait to see what the next novel in the trilogy has in store for Alina, Mal, and the Darkling.

Stay tuned for the review of Siege and Storm. Happy reading!

The Power of Three



Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a trilogy. I oscillated between a few different trilogies before I finally settled on The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. There’s been so much hype surrounding these books, both good and bad, that I wanted to find out for myself what has so many people talking about this trilogy. The concept sounds fascinating to me. I love the Russian incorporated themes, and the marketer nailed it with the cover art. From the jacket it sounds like it’s going to follow the YA fantasy formula but I’m ready to be surprised. I’ve been reading different Russian themed books lately so this one should fit right in. I’m excited to see how the author incorporates the Russian culture and folklore into the novels.

Since this is a trilogy, I’ve decided that I’m going to do a post for each novel and then one for the entire trilogy summing up my thoughts as a whole on this work. So stay tuned for some Grisha magic. Happy reading!

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is the top ten most anticipated new releases of 2015. I honestly can’t say I really look for new releases in books. I more just stumble across books in various places. The only novels I actively look for in new releases are usually new books in a series or new books by an author I love. I couldn’t quite get to ten in this list but I do have 6, some of which have already been released. So, without further ado, here are my most anticipated new releases for the year!

harper lee

1. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, release date July 14

I’m a little on the fence with this one, especially with all of the controversy surrounding the release of the novel. It’s so hard when a book is so beloved to release a new companion novel. I feel like it’s almost a lose lose for Harper Lee. Everyone will compare it to To Kill A Mockingbird. We will just have to wait and see. I have high hopes for this one.


2. The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows, release date June 9

This book I found in an article in a magazine at the dentist’s office. The premise sounded so intriguing that I had to put it on this list.

kate morton

3. The Lake House by Kate Morton, release date October 20

I’m a sucker for the Kate Morton formula. I love the historical fiction, mystery aspects of her novels.

lair of dreams

4. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, release date August 25

This is the sequel to Bray’s novel The Diviners. I really enjoyed The Diviners and loved the 1920s atmosphere. I have high expectations for the sequel that I’m sure Bray can meet.


5. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

This book is already out and has been sitting at Target where I eye it every time I walk past. I’ve been dying to read this book but for some reason haven’t gotten around to it yet. I loved Oliver’s Before I Fall, and this book has an intriguing premise.


6. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

This novel has also been released and is going to be featured in my Book Battle. Stay tuned for some good old fashioned Golden Age mystery fun.

What books are you looking forward to this year?

Before I Go To Sleep


before i go to sleep

From the first this novel is jarring. The first person point of view really rattled my brain for a bit. It was a bit like jumping into a lake in the middle of winter. I wasn’t a huge fan. But soon the first person narrative begins to evolve as you get to know the character. It’s a pretty ingenious move by Watson to jar the reader right into the story. Sets the stage for whats to come. And places you a bit in the character’s own mind.

The basics of the story are a woman has a rare and severe form of amnesia that causes her to lose her memory every time she goes to sleep. She can wake up one morning as a child and the next as an adult. Each morning she has to be reminded of who she is and who her husband is. There are photographs on the mirror and other various signs to keep reminding her throughout the day who and where she is. She soon finds out that she’s been seeing a therapist in secret and has been writing copiously in a journal all of the things she remembers. She finds out that she’s been remembering much more than what people have been telling her. And her memories don’t quite line up with those closest to her, namely her husband.

This book was a roller coaster ride. I loved the thriller aspect of it. The novel kept me up late into the night so I could finish it and find out how the story ended. Some parts are a bit unbelievable but I can forgive those because the basis of the story is so frightening and complex. It’s one of the scariest ideas imaginable, to lose yourself and not be able to find it again. To not be able to trust your own mind. Is what you’re seeing real or have you made it all up? Is a bit like the movie Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman where her husband and his mistress are trying to slowly drive her insane. We instantly believe the things the people closest to us tell us about who we are and what has happened to us but this novel asks the question, should we? Should we believe what are loved ones are telling us or listen to our unreliable selves?

Rating: 4/5 If you like psychological thrillers this is the book for you!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

From Page to Screen


sleep poster

Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book that has been turned into a movie. This was such a broad category I wasn’t really sure what to choose. There are so many books that have been turned into movies and television shows. I finally narrowed it down to two different novels and ended up choosing Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson. The book jacket said that this is a novel about a woman with a rare form of amnesia. She wakes up every morning not knowing who or where she is. One morning she could be a child and the next she could be an adult in her 20s, when her accident happened. Then she starts to regain memories and doesn’t know who to trust any longer, including her long suffering husband.

To me, this novel encapsulates one of the worst kinds of fears, the fear of losing yourself. Not knowing who you are anymore and not being able to trust your own mind. The movie adaptation stars Colin Firth, a favorite of mine, and Nicole Kidman. In great news, it’s on Netflix. I can’t wait to finish the novel, watch the movie, and then compare the two.

Stay tuned for the review of Before I Go To Sleep. Happy reading!

Freestyle Writing Challenge


The lovely Babbleworthy tagged me to be in an entirely new kind of challenge. A writing challenge. As a lover of the written word how could I refuse?

The Rules for the Freestyle Writing Challenge:

1. Open an MS Word document.
–2. Set a stop watch or your mobile to 5 minutes or 10 minutes whichever challenge you think you can beat.
–3. You topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.
4. Fill the word doc with as many words as you want.
5. Once you began writing do not stop even to turn.
6. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in MS WORD (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules)
7. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and CAPITALS.
8. However if you do, it would be best. At the end of your post write down No. of words =_____’ so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
9. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new Topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nominations (at least 3 bloggers).

I went for the five minute challenge, and it still felt like a long time. 🙂 The word I was given was impulse.


When did being impulsive become a bad thing? It’s just another word for spontaneity but yet it has such negative connotations. The definition of impulsive is thinking without forethought. But isn’t that what out of the box thinkers do? Don’t we all want to just be able to do something without being wrapped up and trapped in our own mind? We have impulses for a reason and should listen to them. Whether for good or for bad they do inform our own choices. I’ve made many impulsive decisions and those decisions have lead to some of my greatest achievements. On impulse I took German in high school which lead me to take it in college. Another impulse told me to study abroad for an entire year in Germany and immerse myself in the language, culture, and literature. I love to write. Writing is very much about impulse. I’m a seat of my pants writer and just like to make things up as I go along, just like I used to do when I was a kid and was making up games for my friends and me to play. I like to follow those impulses and see where they go to. I see impulses more as opening your mind to the possible. Letting you see what you can do without being limited by the thoughts of what you can’t. that’s not to say that impulses will always lead you to good places, but how do you know if you don’t try? You have to just grab the reins and go for it. Follow those impulses and those dreams. Who wants to live with regrets? If I didn’t follow my impulses I would probably never have travelled to Europe and experienced all of the beautiful European cities I saw there. I always dreamt about going to the Globe Theater in London and because of my impulse I as able to go there. Without impulses I don’t know where I’d be.

No. of words= 328

My nominees are:

Caffeine and Books

Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Books and Cleverness

Jewish Books Are Awesome

And if you’d like to participate please do. The more the merrier!

Your word is fantasy.