January Reads

Banner of Books I've read during January 2023: Smokejumper by Jason A Ramos, Network Effect by Martha Wells, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton, Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan, The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

We’re almost a week into February, but I’ve been having a pretty productive reading year, so I’m going to start doing monthly roundups of what I read during the month. Let’s Go!

Cover image of Smokejumper: A Memoir by One of America's Most Select Airborne Firefighters by Jason A Ramos. Image is billowing black and white smoke with some flame showing along a ridgeline with trees in the foreground.

The first book I finished in January was Smokejumper: A Memoir of One of America’s Most Select Airborne Firefighters by Jason A Ramos.

This was a fascinating glimpse into the training of elite firefighters, the ones who jump from helicopters into difficult terrain.

I’m from California, so wildfires are not foreign territory to me – I remember driving by literal camps full of firefighters from all over the state fighting the fires in the hills within view of our house growing up. This was particularly interesting for me because it mentioned fires I remember hearing about in the news.

Cover image of Network Effect by Martha Wells, Book #5 in the Murderbot series. Image is of a backlit figure standing hunched on the surface of what looks like a spaceship with another ship flying overhead.

The next book was Network Effect by Martha Wells.

I fell far down Murderbot rabbit hole towards the end of last year, and Network Effect was just the next rung in that ladder. I do wonder if listening to these on audio created a different experience for me than reading them would have, but I’m not sorry for it. I love to see the expanding of Murderbot’s emotional and social interactions.

This one deals with a lot of changes and ups and downs for the character, and I don’t want to be spoilery to anyone who hasn’t read these yet, but it is such a worthwhile train to get on.

Cover image of The Wisteria Sociaty of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton. Illustrated man and woman with their backs to each other in Victorian attire, each holding a gun, the man is looking at the woman over his shoulder and above them is the title and then a drawing of purple wisteria flowers as a border with things like a teacup and a flying house entwined in them, all on a powder blue cover.

The third book I finished was The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton.

I have been wanting to read this for a while and some reviews complain that it is a little too far outside the realm of believability, but my dear, that is what makes it fun. This is a play on Victorian ladies’ societies, but this particular society is for lady pirates – with flying houses, to boot. They use their flying houses to commit all manner of dastardly deeds such as assassination attempts, thefts, and even chasing obnoxious children down the street – but all while following proper decorum.

The whole thing was delightfully bonkers, and the rogue LI was a lot of fun.

Cover image of Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron - a young Black girl with flowing braided hair stands defiantly with a staff in the center of a bright spot of warm yellows, oranges and pinks with darker blue and purple hues creeping in on the edges.

Next was Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron.

By chance, I read this only a few weeks after having read Susan Cooper’s classic The Dark is Rising and it was interesting to have those experiences so close to each other. Maya and the Rising Dark is about a girl whose father has gone missing, and to her surprise she learns that he and also MANY of the adults in her neighborhood are secretly gods who defend against the dark.

I think my favorite thing about this story was the way that it encapsulated the feeling of neighborhood folk who are all in each other’s business. And more than that, it hinted in a fun way about how everyone you meet or know casually has a sort of secret life that you know nothing about.

Cover Image of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan - illustration in black of a figure mounted on a horse on a raised hillock with the impression of troops behind and a tattered banner waving in the wind in the foreground, in front of a yellow background with a large orange sun high in the sky.

I almost don’t know how to talk about She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan. This book is exceptional. It tiptoes on horror and supernatural themes in a way that feels very natural, especially if you are familiar with Asian narratives and spectres. It follows the life of a young peasant girl expected to be nothing, who steals the fate of her brother who was promised greatness, but dies, as she sees it, without even fighting to live.

I can’t say this one doesn’t hurt a bit, because it does. There are acts of pure ruthlessness and one in particular that feels hard to come back from. But it has such lovely quiet moments, too, and there’s a real elegance to the progression of the rivalry between the dichotomous characters who are both outside of gender norms.

Cover image of The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson. The cover is in bold white in front of a black and white image of a girl with curly dark hair wearing a tiara emerging from a black background- the girl is splashed with red.

Next was The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson. Clearly I have been sleeping on Jackson’s work. This and She Who Became the Sun were both part of a 12 books recommended by 12 friends challenge that I’m doing for the year, and I hadn’t heard of this at all when I asked for recommendations, but I’m glad this came to me. I have never read Carrie, or seen much of the movie, but I think it’s well-enough understood that I had a feeling of what I was getting into: a retelling of Carrie that coincides with a Southern town’s first integrated prom night.

The word I want to use to describe this book is: deft. It juggles race relations, the different ways a parent’s beliefs and actions reflect on and affect their children, the desperation of trying to change a situation that feels outside of your control, and struggling to define yourself when others are so willing to do it for you, all while making this less about blame and more about the things that lead people to make the choices they make. It was really well done.

Cover image of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, close cropped image of a girl's face in alabaster white, with black shadow and an azure blue masquerade mask.

The last book I finished was a reread (relisten?) to Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. I’m discovering that as I get older that I often need a bedtime story… and for maximum effect for me (i.e. so I don’t have to worry about if I’m missing anything too much when I fall asleep) I have been relistening to old favorites, and I debated including it on here at all, since it’s an older reread, but I thought it worthwhile to mention that I seem to have particularly vivid and interesting dreams when I fall asleep listening to lush fantasy rather than my own anxiety-spun thoughts.

This has been a chock-full reading year so far. These are all audio but I’ve been working on a few in hand, too. Those do tend to take me longer, and I’m trying to lessen my dependence on audio to a degree, but it’s so useful when you can do more than one thing at once. What have you all been reading?

In Which Lisa Spouts Excitement Over Mundane Things (And One Not Mundane At All Thing)

Well, not truly mundane things, but not directly writing-related things, either.

I have been away from this blog for a little while now, and there are a couple of reasons for this. Mainly, my laptop was on the verge of death. Teetering at the edge of the dark chasmy abyss, as it were.

And well, the past couple of weeks have been BUSY.

First there was Books are for Lovers on Valentine’s Day, and this was The Mr and my haul:


Jasper Fforde, Brandon Sanderson, and some bookplates, because one can never have too many bookplates. True fact.

And then after doing two days of overtime at work (that’s 9 days of graveyards in a row, folks!) The Mr and I ran around spending our tax return on a new laptop (YAY!) and just as if not even more exciting: a washer and dryer.

Now. I know that doesn’t SEEM more exciting, especially as they are used and when all is said and done, the laundry still has to be done, but at least it doesn’t have to be done at a laundromat a city over anymore! (Yes, really) Oh the glory of just throwing in a load of wash when you need to. It is a wonderful thing.

guardiansfallThe really exciting thing about the last week, though, is that I finished editing The Guardian’s Fall, the third and final installment of The Guardian Circle Series by Isabelle Santiago. YOU GUYS. I am SO EXCITED about this book! It wraps the series up just beautifully and I can’t tell you how much I love it. I’m super proud of my girl Isabelle, too, because she had to push herself really hard to get this book where it was (and I was not going to let it go out not fully formed!), but she did such a fabulous job.

If you haven’t yet had the delight of looking into The Guardian Circle Series yet, I am officially inviting you. Book one, The Guardian’s Mark is available for a limited time for $0.99!

What you’ll find here:

– Fantastic world-building, including a faceted, multi-cultural world centered on one (questionably balanced) religion

– Elemental magic, which is my favorite kind!

– Mesmerizing forbidden romance

– Underdogs and moral dilemmas

– Friendships that cross lifetimes

– Did I mention great world-building?

Pick up a copy of Guardian’s Mark today. Book 2 is also available, and Book 3 is just around the corner!

Books Read in 2013(ish) & My 2014 Reading Goal

Books read in 2013

Graphic by me & Goodreads 🙂

Last year was a good reading year. I had a lovely pile of 63 books read, which is maybe a record for me. Here’s a glance at some of the things I read.

I started off my year with War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, which delighted me with how well-researched it was and how logical, along with the realization that it took place only fifty years after the Charles Dickens book I was reading at the time… that was a surprising little realization. I then took a short trip back to the Godspeed for Beth Revis’ enovella “As They Slip Away,” and finished  the first of the Beyonders books by Brandon Mull. My husband and I were left conflicted as everyone else as we finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, and I listened to some old stuff—The Return of Tarzan, Chronicles of Avonlea, and The Beasts of Tarzan. A friend bought me a cute kid’s book called Froggy’s First Kiss by Jonathan London for Books are for Lovers on Valentine’s Day.

And then the first out-of-the-ballpark love of a book. I finally read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I loved this book so much that I listened to the audio over again six months later. Not even kidding. While I am definitely a book rereader, this is usually not true within a year.

Then I steamed through Slam by Nick Hornby, Odd and the Frost Giant which was a delicious find from Neil Gaiman, and The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan, which was nice and Amy Tan-y, if you know what I mean.

And then I started my voyage into the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan. If you like MG and you haven’t read this series… you really, really should. I am not quite finished with it since I was trading off between that and lots of other things, but I am enjoying it so, so, much. There’s sword-fighting, archery, light romance and intrigue galore. I’ve gone through seven of the ten books so far and I love them!

In the Spring I read One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde, which was a fantastic addition to the Thursday Next series which is so close to my heart. I also listened to a string of just-for-fun audio books, highlighted by  The Help by Kathryn Stockett (just as good as the movie), that book clubiest of books, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, (good enough that I might pick up a secondhand copy), Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (a little on the older side of YA, but a great guy’s read).

And then. And then, and then, and then.

I listened to Daughter of Smoke & Bones and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (interrupted by The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, brilliant MG that can’t go without mentioning). Taylor’s books were so delicious, and such big, sweeping things that I couldn’t help but love them. I am really looking forward to the third one, which is due out sometime this year (April?).

My string of luck continued as I listened to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This was one of my top reads of 2013. Fantasy, magic, beauty… and that age-old desire to run away with the circus.

I fell in love with Nora Ephron after having loved bits of her work all my life, by listening to her I Remember Nothing and I Feel Bad About My Neck. Got to celebrate literature with Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life and Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart, along with its importance in Fahrenheit 451I also enjoyed another Thursday Next book, The Woman Who Died A Lot, which was delectable and odd, just as Jasper’s work should be.

And as the year ended, I was working my way through The Wheel of Time series (for better or for worse! but The Mr swears the end is amazing) and The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, which is a lot of fun. If you want to see a complete list of my 2013 reads, you can find it on Goodreads, here.

This year, I am cutting my reading goal down to 35 books. Why? Because I have some research reading to do. Big, fat books about fairy tales and mystical places and creatures and monsters and fairies.

Of course, I’m also smack-dab in the middle of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (oh yes, I read The Raven Boys, too and loved it enough to share it with The Mr). I’m pretty excited for my reading this year.

Nora Ephron Can Write About Anything



Nora Ephron, as you probably know, passed away in June of last year. When I heard the news I was firstly saddened because this woman had written a couple of my favorite movies, some of which I didn’t even know were hers. Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, of course. When Harry Met Sally, well, not my absolute favorite, but maybe because I’ve only seen it once. MichaelMy Blue Heaven. The main reason I adore both Joan Cusack and Rick Moranis, and my first reason for loving Steve Martin, was My Blue Heaven.

But I also realized when she died, that I knew absolutely nothing about Nora Ephron. I knew she had a few books, but for some reason I had thought that her books were an offshoot of her movie escapades. That she was a filmmaker first, and then a little bit of a writer.

Nora Ephron. Who was a journalist and playwright and novelist long before I so much as thought of existing.

I was a little ashamed of myself, and vowed that I would get me hence and read some of her books. So recently, I did just that.

More to the point, I read a couple of her memoir books from the last couple of years. There was a time when I was young and fiendish for fiction (I won’t say how recently that has ended) that I probably would never have picked up a memoir, even if it was by and about someone who interested me. I think I can finally say that this is no longer the case. That I can finally revel in the fact that life can be infinitely more interesting and memorable than some fiction, and especially such a life.

I picked up audio copies of I Remember Nothing and I Feel Bad About My Neck on my phone via Overdrive, and was pleased as pink to hear from Ephron herself. Some of it was a little melancholy—the realizations of how old she was, and that she would pass away soon enough, realizing how many of her friends were already gone—but so much of it was fascinating, and all of it was wonderfully presented. She talked about working in the White House, her luck and the gumption it took to get her where she got in journalism. She talked about her mother, who she had an almost Amy-Tan-complex relationship with. And she didn’t get overly sentimental about anything—except perhaps about how her neck used to look.

And that is her great strength in both of these books. She presents the story as it happened, with few judgments as to whether any of it was good or bad, which of course lets you feel it for yourself.

So, while it took some time after her death for me to do so, I was immensely pleased to get to know Nora Ephron a little bit more. And extra pleased by the idea that if I had been older (and let’s face it, probably better dressed) I probably could have gone up to her and convinced her she was supposed to know me somehow. She says she remembered nothing, but she lived a lot, and is comfortable talking about it all, which makes her books unmissable.

Five Things I Loved about The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is the story of two magicians raised from childhood into a competition with each other—though at first they do not know who they are competing against, or what the rules of the competition are. All they know is that they are supposed to be extraordinary. And eventually, they discover that their competition is to take place in the mysterious Night Circus, or Le Cirque des Rêves (or the Circus of Dreams). The circus is really their canvas, and thus it becomes something more than just a normal circus. It becomes magical. Here are some of my favorite things about this book:

night-circus-cover-low-res1) The circus itself.

Everything in the Circus is black and white. And the tents described are stunning, to say the least. A garden made entirely of ice. A maze that climbs up, but that you can jump down from without harming yourself at any height. A true labyrinth. A wishing tree. And those are just a few. I love the imagination that went into these lovely things, and I wish I could see them.

2) Except that you almost can see them.

You know how some books get bogged down with description? There are some VERY thorough descriptions in this book… but you never feel as if they’re weighing on you as a reader, because the things they are describing are so beautiful or unique or fascinating. I have such a clear idea of what some of the circus looks like, because Morgenstern showed me exactly what she wanted me to see. I listened to this on audio, but the gorgeous details alone make me want to buy the physical book so I can leaf through it at my leisure.

3) The reader is invited into the circus, too.

I know this part throws some people off, but there are bits here and there throughout the book in second person (that’s using “YOU” instead of “He/She” or “I”). Some people are so unused to this that it really threw them out of the book and made them uncomfortable, but for me this made the book so much more. I let these second person bits take me away, and I really felt as if I was being enveloped in the magic of the circus, right along with the other patrons.

4) The perfect escapism here.

What I love really, is that this book is everything a circus is supposed to be. Mystical. Wonderful. A bit of something beyond everyday life. This book made me feel like a child who could believe in absolutely anything. And that it can be beautiful on top of everything else. Maybe I’m being repetitive here. But really, the book is So. Full. Of. Magic.

5) The End

I have to admit, I was expecting this ending to tear my heart out and stomp on it. And while I was a little surprised at how not traumatized I was by the ending, I did love it. Finishing this book was like a hot cup of cocoa… rich and satisfying.

And as a bonus, if you listen to the audiobook, it’s read by Jim Dale. Who happened to once play Phineas Taylor Barnum in the Broadway musical Barnum (one of my favorites!) (and you know, of Barnum & Bailey?) so he is really the absolutely perfect person to read this.

In truth, there wasn’t a lot about this book that I didn’t love. Well, except maybe that there was a touch of uncomfortable eeriness here and there—but really, that’s all part of the deal when there’s a circus involved. 😉

Highly, highly recommend this one.

What is the most magical book you’ve read?

Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor – A Musing



These. Books.

Okay, I’m going to preface this by saying that I am not really a fan of angel/demon stories. A small part of this is because I’m religious, but mostly because… blech. Boring. I just don’t think there is much you can do with that approaching it via the conventional methods. Fallen angel. Misguided angel. Whatever.

The Daughter of Smoke & Bone books, on the other hand, is so richly imagined that I just want to wrap my mind inside it for hours at a time. Which of course is exactly what you want from a book. I devoured these books on audio. Which isn’t hard when you work graves, but that’s hardly the point. The point is: I loved them.

While this series is indeed about angels and demons, it is really about two fantastical nations that are ancient,  rich with history, and happen to have been at war with each other since time out of mind.

I can’t even really go into how the main characters fit into this without giving a lot away, but I can tell you that I am so, so impressed with this world. The descriptions are beautiful, the characterizations rich, and the monsters are, well, monstrous. What I love about it most, maybe, is that it is filled with shades of grey. There are good characters and bad characters, but they aren’t all on one side of the battle or the other. And they don’t always know what they’re fighting for.

And oh, Taylor has a knack for ripping your heart out. Which personally, is something I love in a good story. Just when you think that things are about to get better, they get so much bone-crushingly worse. On the flipside of the coin, though, just when your heart has been ripped through the shredder, something happens like a gift—a boon—something that tells you that after everything, Taylor is a merciful god, at least.

Also, the settings are superb and full of escapism/wanderlust fancy that made me want to quit my job and move to Europe. Ish.

If you haven’ read this yet, go out and get it. It is fabulous. You will not be sorry. Well, until you realize that the next installment doesn’t come out until 2014.


By the by, this Thursday I’ll be starting a new weekly series involving literary nerdliness. Come back and check it out!

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

oddandthefrostFrom Goodreads:

The winter isn’t ending. Nobody knows why.
And Odd has run away from home, even though he can barely walk and has to use a crutch.
Out in the forest he encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle – three creatures with a strange story to tell.
Now Odd is faced with a stranger journey than he had ever imagined.
A journey to save Asgard, City of the Norse Gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it.
It’s going to take a very special kind of boy to defeat the most dangerous of all the Frost Giants and rescue the mighty Gods. Someone cheerful and infuriating and clever.
Someone just like Odd.

I checked an audio version of this out via my lovely Overdrive app a few weeks ago, and was just delighted with it. Neil Gaiman, doing Norse mythology for kids and reading the book himself. The book was less than two hours long in audio, and flew by.

Like many people, I don’t know a lot more about Norse mythology than the Thor and Avengers movies have taught me, so I was pleasantly surprised when some of that movie mythology turned out to be legit. I mean, clearly Thor was the god of thunder and Odin was the king of Asgard and Loki was Thor’s brother, the god of mischief. Those things I knew. I didn’t know that Loki really was a frost giant, abandoned, though.

This story isn’t really about the gods, though. It’s a story about a young boy with a bad foot and an irrepressible spirit. Odd smiles though he has no reason to. And he saves all of Asgard because he has that special power of smiling when he has no real reason to. I can’t say much more without spoiling the book, but I highly recommend this one. It may have been written for children, but The Mr and I both enjoyed it thoroughly.

What’s your favorite Norse mythology book? Do you have one? Oh, and happy April Fool’s Day. 🙂

Five Things I Love about The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The_Scorpio_RacesRemember how I said that I was going to read books by my favorites this year? Well my first go at that was The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I have long loved Stiefvater’s work. I adored Shiver, then was entranced with Linger, was almost disbelieving when I loved Ballad more, and thought the rounding out of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy was wholly satisfying and beautifully written, to boot.

And while I was moving half a dozen times and spent a year or so while jobless and dirt poor, not to mention as I said in my last post, guilting myself into reading books I’d had longer but wanted to read less first (that’s a mouthful!)… Maggie wrote two books that I hadn’t read. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. She wrote four. I didn’t read Linger or Forever until after both books were published. In any case, I was still playing catch up. So finally, despite the fact that I was already reading half a dozen books according to Goodreads… I just picked up Scorpio RacesAnd I ran through it. Here are the things I loved most:

1) The setting is 100% solid. Thisby felt like a real place. A place you could charter a boat to, and find it not much changed from when the book was set… which is not entirely clear, but hardly needs to be.

2) The horses. I was never one of those girls who drew horses and read horse books and wanted a horse for my birthday when I was a little girl… I wanted a unicorn. But seriously, while I would have relished the chance to learn to ride or spend time with horses, that just wasn’t in my life or something my family could afford, so it wasn’t something I thought about much. But it wasn’t the fact that there were horses in the book that impressed me. It was how they were written. I had a professor who said once that the hardest characters to write well are babies and animals, and that is something I’ve always believed, too. The horses in The Scorpio Races rang true.

3) The small-town feminists. Oh Peg Gratton and Dory Maud, I enjoyed every word out of you two. These are women who lead men around by the nose by pretending to be part of their game, and they had their eye out for young, eager, gender-role-challenging Puck. I loved how, rather than taking Puck under their wing exactly, they pointed her in the right direction and pushed her forward.

4) The family relationships. Puck’s relationship with her brothers, more to the point. Finn reminded me of my own little brother, not in his character, but in the feelings he evoked in me—protective, parental feelings, where you are sometimes surprised at the ingenuity and different person-ness of someone you helped raised. And Gabe. While I spent a good majority of the book being angry towards Gabe, I ended up empathizing with and even sort of loving him. It was so easy to understand, his desperation to leave. To have a life that wasn’t constant work and challenge and monotony and death. I can understand that.

5) The love story. This was exactly what I want out of a love story. Which is to say, nothing like most young adult romances (or adult, for that matter, as to the few I’ve read) are like. It is not about physical attraction or even romantic tension. Instead it is about finding someone who is so in tune with how you see the world that they become a part of you without you ever meaning for them to be. It is about respect and mutual understanding and being driven in just the same way. It was so, so satisfying.

These are not all the reasons to read The Scorpio Races, but they are what I loved best.

And since you’ve probably read it well before me, what did you think?

Tarzan of the Apes, or Why my Mother and I Like Different Books – And also, a winner!

tarzan-of-the-apes-tpThe past few weeks, I’ve been listening to Librivox audiobooks of the Tarzan books. Partially because I’ve always meant to, and partially because they go down easy at work, and heavier stuff, not so much.

And I have a confession: besides being fairly sexist and a bit more than fairly racist (it was just how thought processes were in the day), I actually have been really enjoying these books.

In case you haven’t read them, let’s get one thing straight: the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” version of Tarzan from the movies is not from the books. Tarzan is the son of an English Lord, who teaches himself to read with the books left in a cabin built by his dead father. He wins himself the kingship over the Bull Apes (not gorillas, these are a fictional species Burroughs thought up that were smarter than gorillas, though not as smart as man).

He manages all of this due to his “higher-than-average intellect.” And of course he is faster and stronger and has better hearing and vision than any normal man, because of his upbringing with the apes. In fact, they use the words “super man” to describe him more than once.*

Now… this is once in a while seems a little contrived, sure. This might have been a problem, if not for his higher-than-average intellect. Okay, this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but that is how most problems in the first two books are solved. I can forgive this, though because usually there is a good explanation. For example, he doesn’t just automatically teach himself to read. He spends staring at “little insects” on the page (letters) and starts to figure out that they make names for things because of an illustrated dictionary. And he doesn’t go from learning how to read English words to knowing how to say them. In fact, he learns French first. Of course.

But there is a lot of action, there is a lot of Escapism (um, hello, dark African jungle full of dangerous animals?), and the hero takes action. I know I’m using the word action twice, but it is relevant. There is fighting AND decision making! And all of the above makes the books very fun to enjoy.

And while reading through the first book, I had a realization. This was a book my mom read when she was a kid. She read a lot of the Tarzan books, actually. There are two dozen of them, after all. But my point is, this is the type of hero she grew up with. The strongest, smartest, bravest guy around who goes out and gets things done, and who always knows more or less what to do.

This is not the type of hero I grew up with. Most of the books I read when I was young were about fairly normal people, facing huge obstacles. They were usually not the strongest or bravest, and while probably a lot of them were pretty smart, some of them weren’t even that. They didn’t always immediately know what to do, or if they did, they didn’t always choose the right thing first.

And let’s be honest, in my moonier times, I read and loved a lot of books where nothing earth-shaking happens on a big scale, they were all about character – losing friends, and what not. Judy Blume books.

So it’s not too much of a surprise that my mother and I don’t really enjoy the same books. It’s not much of a surprise that she reads action- and plot-driven stories, and that I lean more towards character-driven novels. We learned what made a good story in vastly different circumstances. By the time my mom was the age I was when I started reading feels-y young adult novels, she was reading adult stuff—because young adult novels didn’t exist.

It’s interesting, though, because at the moment she and I are somewhat reaching out towards each others’ reading habits. I’ve been reading Tarzan, and she’s been reading Les Mis (which I haven’t read, but I’m sort of considered the Classics reader in the family). And surprise, surprise, we’re both enjoying each other’s worlds.

*Interesting fact, Tarzan of the Apes was published in 1914 while Superman was introduced in 1932).


In other news, I have to send out a late THANK YOU to everyone who participated in Books are for Lovers and bought a book on Valentine’s Day. I bought A Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck, and The Mr bought Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, which we’d been looking for in hardcover for a long time.

And last but not least, we have a winner for the Books are for Lovers giveaway thanks to random.org, and that is SHELLY BROWN! Congrats, Shelly! 🙂

The Sapphire Flute by Karen E. Hoover

11806837 First book review of the year goes to the wonderful Sapphire Flute (The Wolf Child Saga, #1) by Karen E. Hoover.

Here’s the summary, taken from Goodreads:

It has been 3,000 years since a white mage has been seen upon Rasann. In the midst of a volcanic eruption miles outside of her village, Ember discovers she can see magic and change the appearance of things at will. Against her mother’s wishes, she leaves for the mage trials only to be kidnapped before arriving. In trying to escape, she discovers she has inherited her father’s secret-a secret that places her in direct conflict with her father’s greatest enemy. At the same time, Kayla is given guardianship of the sapphire flute and told not to play it. The evil mage C’Tan has been searching for it for decades and the sound alone is enough to call her. For the flute to be truly safe, Kayle must find its birthplace in the mountains high above Javak. The girls’ paths are set on a collision course…a course that C’Tan is determined to prevent at all costs.

I finished this book the last day of December, and it was such a nice book to finish the year with. I have to admit, it took me a little bit of time to get into this book for me, mainly because to begin with, the two main character girls are a little too similar for my liking. They sound a little too much alike and have too similar of temperaments at the beginning of the book, that I had to really remind myself which story I was in at the moment, as the story goes back and forth between the two.

That feeling evaporated as the story developed, though, and especially as I was simply consistently blown away with the pure imagination and originality of this book. I was so pleased by some of the elements that were implemented: specific kinds of magical tools, the description of the magic itself, and especially, especially the correlation between music and magic—because really, music is the closest thing we have to magic in our own world. Imagine if music conveyed with it images, spells, and power?

While Kayla and Ember may have similar personalities, they are both very strong female characters, and their journeys are so very different (and yet intrinsically connected!) that they do end up being distinctly individual in their stories.

The second book of the Wolf Child series (The Armor of Light) is available and I’m looking forward to reading it and seeing where this journey goes!


A little background history, The Sapphire Flute was originally published by a publishing house, but that publishing house closed, so Hoover now self-publishes the ebooks, but it is still available in hardcover, if you’d rather read an actual book (the cover is a little different, though) Ebooks are available on Hoover’s blog. 🙂