Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Thoughts On: Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
Publish Date: July 24, 2012
320 Pages
Source:  Publisher/TLC Book Tours

When the nanny to the young Darrow boys is found mysteriously murdered on the outskirts of the village of Blackfield, Charlotte Markham, the recently hired governess, steps in to take over their care. During an outing in the forest, they find themselves crossing over into The Ending, “the place for the Things Above Death,” where Lily Darrow, the late mother of the children, has been waiting. She invites them into the House of Darkling, a wondrous place filled with enchantment, mystery, and strange creatures that appear to be, but are not quite, human.

However, everything comes with a price, and as Charlotte begins to understand the unspeakable bargain Mrs. Darrow has made for a second chance at motherhood, she uncovers a connection to the sinister occurrences in Blackfield and enters into a deadly game with the master of Darkling – one whose outcome will determine the fate of not just the Darrows but the world itself.
–(summary excerpt from the back of book)

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

My Thoughts
Charlotte Markham has recently been employed at the estate of Henry Darrow, who lost his wife Lily in the past year. Charlotte is no stranger to loss herself, having lost both of her parents and then her husband in the recent past. After the unusual murder of the Darrow boys' nanny, Charlotte steps in to fill the role and quickly establishes an almost maternal relationship with the boys. James and Paul grow to love and respect her, and she is able to be a presence when their father is nearly always absent, having been overtaken with grief after losing Lily. 

While exploring the grounds one afternoon, Charlotte and the boys find an unusual area of forest - an area filled with thick mist, strange noises, and the moon high in the darkened sky as if it were nighttime. A little further into the forest, the trio happened upon a sprawling mansion with none other than Lily Darrow (still dead, mind you) at the door, beckoning them to come inside for a visit. While the boys rush into her arms in a happy and tear-filled reuinion, Charlotte is instantly suspicious - because Lily is dead. Not wanting to deny the boys the pleasure of being reunited with their mother, Charlotte begrudgingly follows them inside.

Inside the House of Darkling, things are unlike anything Charlotte has ever experienced before. The interior of the Darkling house changes before her very eyes. The creatures that inhabit the place have oddly-colored skin, are all shapes and sizes, and seem to be made of different substances. Charlotte learns that they are immortal and they have employed Lily Darrow as the house governess. There are strange and wondrous things as well as grotesque and horrifying things. The House of Darkling is amazing. And the area in which the House of Darkling sits, The Ending, experiences eternal nighttime. How odd!

As the boys grow more accustomed to the oddities at the House of Darkling and as they grow to enjoy the secret visits with their mother, Charlotte has growing suspicions that the master of the House of Darkling and his intentions are not all good and that she needs to break off communication with this strange and bizarre world, even if it means cutting ties with the boys' beloved mother. 

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling has to be one of the most imaginative books I've ever read. I was easily able to visualize practically every scene and appreciated the author's attention to detail in describing the setting and making it a full experience. The House of Darkling stands out to me almost like a character itself because of the unique world-building inside of the mansion. It was bizarre and creepy and I loved it. The author also has a great and distinct voice, and his style worked well for a story of this type.

I loved the main character, Charlotte Markham. I imagined her very much like a lady of the times - a smart lady and one not to be taken lightly. 
Charlotte was not afraid to take charge and get things done, and there are several instances within the book where a gathering of people are looking to Charlotte for answers or action. In this way, and in the way of her job at the home, Charlotte was strong. At the same time, she had suffered great losses, just as the Darrow family had, so she had weaknesses and allowed herself to show her vulnerability when it was appropriate.

Aside from a couple of confusing places, which I think resolved themselves at the end, I enjoyed the heck out of this book. I loved the story of the House itself and it's enchanted inhabitants, but there is a presence and theme of Death that arcs the story and takes the form of a man dressed in black throughout the book. He shows up both in characters' dreams and he comes to visit characters.

This book reads like a big kid's fantasy fairy-tale, full of magic and the macabre. The 
book starts out with a nightmare and a murder, complete with shrieking in the night. What follows is a very imaginative story that is also delightfully disturbing, if there is such a thing. Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling reminds me of a Coraline-meets-Tim-Burton story for adults. It's charming and a little dark and lovely all at the same time. 

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling will appeal to fans of:

Gothic literature
Fantasy with some Macabre twists
Great setting

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino
is currently available for purchase.

Ten Book Characters I'd Trade Places With For A Day

Click HERE to check out Top Ten Tuesday
at The Broke and the Bookish

Ten Characters I’d Like to
Trade Places with For 24 Hours

1. Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone 
I'd love a day as the blue-haired art student from Prague, skipping off to different worlds to do work for Brimstone the sorcerer, the beast Karou loves like a father. I'd love a day to be in a forbidden love affair with Akiva. Plus Karou can fly. 

2. Ismae from Grave Mercy
Ismae has a rough start but defies the odds to become one of the most awesome, butt-kicking heroines I've ever had the pleasure of reading. She's awesome. She can be brutal when she needs to be but at the same time, she's very much a lady and knows how to take care of her man.  

3. Wendy Everly from the Trylle Trilogy
(Switched, Torn, Ascend)
Wendy thinks she's an ordinary girl until she finds out she's part of a magical world made up of trolls. She initially isn't too warm on the idea, but eventually she realizes she is pretty important to the Trylle people. Plus she's beautiful, gets to dress up all the time, and lives in a luxurious mansion. A day in the life of Wendy wouldn't be too bad...especially with good-looking dudes like Finn and Loki wandering around. 

4. Evie from the Paranormalcy Trilogy
(Paranormalcy, Supernaturally, Endlessly)
I think it would be fun to trade places with Evie for a day based solely on her job. Not her pink-and-zebra print every-single-day clothes, her obsession with one certain TV show, or her pink glittery taser. But she does have a pretty fun-sounding job.

5. Celia from The Night Circus
I want to be able to make magical circus illusions too. That is all.

6. Katsa and Fire from the Seven Kingdoms Trilogy
(Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue)
These two are probably my two favorite female leading characters because they are the most butt-kicking of any I know PLUS they are smart, beautiful, and self-confident. Also, HELLO they carry daggers and a bow-and-arrow, and they can use them better than most men. (I have not yet read Bitterblue. High hopes for another butt-kicker in that one.)

7. Megan Chase from The Iron Fey Series
(The Iron King, The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen, The Iron Knight)
Because of Prince Ash. I'm always and forever Team Ash, no matter what.

8. Ana from Incarnate
Because of Sam. And magical cities with heartbeats. And sylphs and dragons.

9. Samantha Reed from My Life Next Door
YES, I am much older than Sam and yes, my life is much different, but OH! to be young and in love that way...

10. Claire Randall from Outlander
I don't want to be Claire that much BUT she's married to Jamie Fraser. So...yeah. 


Hard to pick only ten!

Who would YOU want to be for 24 hours?

Monday, July 30, 2012

…on Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
Publish Date: December 1, 2010
230 Pages
Source:  Borrowed from Tara from Hobbitsies
(Read Tara’s review of Fall For Anything HERE)

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered? –(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

My Thoughts:  It was only a few days ago that I saw and devoured This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers and decided that if THAT style of writing was indicative of her trademark style, I was a fan. I liked it so much, I decided to pick up another book of hers that I borrowed from another blogger. While Fall For Anything looked to be an issues-contemp (eek!), I found myself immediately in love with Summers' style yet again and unable to put the book down. I read the book in practically record time because I apparently can't get enough of her beautiful style.

The first thing you need to know is this:
I tend to shy away from the hard issues-contemps,
but not QUITE as much as I used to.
I was not afraid because I trusted Courtney Summers.  
Why wasn't I afraid of this issue-heavy contemporary, you ask? Because I read Summers' zombie book first OF COURSE. When I started reading This Is Not A Test, it was almost odd - because even though there were the undead running around and people barricading themselves inside buildings in an effort to save their own lives, there was something poetic and lovely about the language. It was minimal, sparse even, but every word counted. It made me feel almost like I was flying or soaring or dancing among the prettiest of flowers. All cheesiness aside, Summers' writing style was noticeable. And I really loved it.

It is no joke when I tell you that within two pages of Fall For Anything, I was right back in the Courtney Summers mindset, loving all the Courtney Summers-ness of the language. I trusted the words - even when they were tough - because they were hers, which is pretty huge. While I knew hard stuff was coming up, I knew that I would get through it because she would write it delicately and with ease, and I would read it the same way. 

If you missed my thoughts on This Is Not A Test,
you can read them HERE.
 I'm still loving that book super hard.

The second thing you need to know is this:
This story is heartbreaking. Almost every page broke my heart.
I think it COULD be healing for some people.
But I think it could be a trigger for others.  
Oh, I wish this was a topic that didn't exist, so we never would have cause to write about it! But it does and here it is yet again. OH, THESE BOOKS. Deep breath...

We know right away from the book summary that this book deals suicide. Hard stuff, you guys. Eddie Reeves is left wondering WHY? which is a fairly common question when this happens to people. She has a shoddy support system made up of her mother and her mother's best friend, Beth. Eddie's mother is lost in her own grief and barely able to function, leaving Eddie to fend for herself, while Beth has moved into the house and taken over their lives, bringing structure that she insists they need and completely alienating Eddie in the process. The only positive and consistent support Eddie seems to have is her fantastic best friend Milo who helps her deal with things by just being there, being himself, and never demanding anything from her. He is her rock and does his best to take care of her. Even so, Eddie is lost in an "all day, every day, WHY?" trance.

I read this book and imagined Eddie's actions and thought to myself that this girl was broken. Her thoughts and actions
 screamed brokenness, and yet it was so interesting that she kept so much of herself and her life a secret, not meant to be shared with the world - until she met Culler Evans. Culler was unique among everyone else in the book in that he seemed to be on the same quest for WHY? as Eddie. Over this shared grief, they bonded. 

Sometimes when people meet and bond over grief it is a good thing. Sometimes it can be destructive. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
After Eddie met Culler, I felt something in my gut.
At first, I wasn't sure what it was.  
When you read a character like Eddie, you want things to work out for her. I found myself almost naively trying to think things into existence - it was like I thought that if I could think it, I could change the course of this already-written book. 

Culler sort-of appeared out of nowhere. I liked him okay but I was glad that Eddie was wary of him to begin with. Even though I liked him, I also felt cautious about him. When it seemed that the two had something in common - a shared grief, because they both lost someone they loved - I was on board with their friendship, albeit awkward. I also completely understood that both Culler and Eddie were looking for reasons WHY? Eddie's father would do this. That seemed natural. 

But then, as these things go, they started spending more and more time together. And Eddie started preferring Culler's company to Milo, her best friend forever. In my opinion, things got a little bit dangerous and reckless decisions were made. With someone in the frame of mind of Eddie, lost in herself over losing her father, I can't say I am shocked or surprised by the twist in events. 


There is a lot of depth to Fall For Anything. It's amazing, really, that such depth can be felt and achieved with such a short book and sparse language. Initially the focus is on Eddie, her grief, and what her father's actions have meant for her family and friends. As the story unfolds, it also grows into something that contains all of that plus a great deal of reckless behavior born from an at-all-cost desire to find out her father's reasons WHY? Despite all of this, and the heartbreaking tone of the book, I think the way everything ends is perfect.

The best things, to me, about this book are easily the writing style, which I've already gushed about, and the characterization. I can appreciate that Summers did not try to overpopulate the story, but instead she took the people on the inside and made them robust. Eddie, Milo, Culler, and the rest of the cast are written brilliantly and in a way that makes you feel like you kind-of/sort-of know them or people like them. Whether they're sad, pretentious. creepy, or just plain awesome, they all just leap off the page in a very full way.

I think people who like YA contemporaries with issues will love Fall For Anything. Also, people who find beauty in well-written words will appreciate this one and the work of Courtney Summers in general. I would warn people who have difficulty reading about issues with suicide, though, that you might want to start with a different Courtney Summers book if you are interested in reading some of her work. Fall For Anything is lovely, but it makes you feel things.

Fall For Anything will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary
Strong Friendships
Books with Issues: Suicide
Books Containing Art: Photography

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers
is currently available for purchase.

Have you read any Courtney Summers books yet?

Which of her books should I read next?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let's Talk...On Book-to-Film vs. Book-to-TV

Click here to see Let's Talk!
I'm so excited that Melissa at i swim for oceans likes discussion posts because sometimes I get chatty and have things to say. What's up, Melissa?? Let's Talk. 

This week's question:

Do you prefer book to film
or book to TV adaptations?


That's a really good question and actually quite easy for me. I don't really know of very many book-to-TV adaptations because I don't watch a lot of television. So that sort of throws that choice out the window. I tend to watch book-to-movie adaptations here and there, and while they're hit-or-miss for me - I do think I enjoy them for the most part.

I have enjoyed some of these adaptations like The Road by Cormac McCarthy (so good!) and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, but I have to admit that I'm even more excited about upcoming adaptations like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.


I will say...regarding the book-to-TV issue: there is one book-to-TV show that I do watch. I'm a bit late getting to it but thankfully Netflix has my back. I haven't read the books and I'm not sure I plan to read this particular series. But I am tore-up-from-the-floor-up in love with everything Salvatore. That's right: I'm all about The Vampire Diaries. Don't go spoiling it for me, now. I've only just finished with Season One; I haven't yet started Season Two yet. But wowza! Yes and yes, please and thank you. Who cares about the books? Not this girl.

(I'm kidding. I care about pretty much all books.)


What about all of you? 

Do you prefer movie adaptations or TV adaptations?
What are some of your favorites?

Let's Talk about this! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Review | Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park
Series: Flat-Out Love #1
Publish Date: April 11, 2011
391 Pages
Source:  Borrowed, then won a copy.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.

When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.
(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Flat Out Love by Jessica Park

My Thoughts:  I'd seen and heard about this book a little here and there before, and it came recommended to me a few times. So I thought I'd try it. That's all. Once I started reading it, I pretty much couldn't put it down. It's charming as heck and really just a great story. I want to read more books like this. 

The first thing you need to know is this:
I knew from the summary (above) that
"Something is seriously off in the Watkins home..." -
It just took me a while to figure out exactly what.  
Julie Seagle has recently moved to the area and into the Watkins home to board for her semester at college. Right away, she meets and somewhat-connects with Matt Watkins, the quirky and super-smart/kinda-nerdy older brother-in-college, also living in the home. He's cute. When she meets younger sister Celeste, Julie starts picking up on some odd things right away: Things like how unbelievably and remarkably and overly academically gifted Celeste is for her young age. Also, Celeste is terribly under-stylish for the amount of money this family seems to have - Julie would've thought she'd have had a much trendier wardrobe. Celeste doesn't have any friends at all. Like, none. Oh, and Celeste carries around a life-size cardboard cut-out of her older brother Finn, affectionately named Flat Finn. When she asks Matt about Flat Finn, Matt warns Julie not to press the issue with the family, so Julie just joins in, treating Flat Finn like he's a real person - talking to him, sitting beside him at dinner, and loading him up in the car to run errands. So, yeah, something is definitely off in the Watkins home - because nobody seems to act like anything is unusual about this situation and nobody is talking about it. Julie is perplexed. 

The second thing you need to know is this:
 While Julie takes it upon herself to make Celeste her project,
she meets older, absent brother Finn. Sparks fly. 
Flat Finn is just a fill-in for older brother real Finn, who is traveling around the world - seeing things, doing things, experiencing things, and helping people in need. One day, Julie stumbles upon Finn's facebook page and sends a friend request. Finn accepts, and this begins a relationship that only grows over the course of the year. Although Finn and Julie have never met, they become quite close, talking pretty much daily. Julie starts to really look forward to her time spent online with Finn and realizes that she could be/maybe/probably is falling for him - and she thinks Finn feels the same way. She wants him to come home for a visit, but he oddly keeps evading her requests. Doesn't he miss his family enough to warrant a visit home? And doesn't he want to meet/see her?

Meanwhile, Julie has worked wonders with Celeste. She's starting to dress a little differently. She's listening to "real" music with an iPod rather than just classical music. She's starting to talk to people at school and develop friendships. Her transformation is amazing, and Julie is having a great time with her younger friend. Matt, on the other hand, is still a little odd. He and Julie are friends - good friends - but he is so nerdy with his nerdy t-shirts and the way he's always doing homework and staying online...it's really hard to tell what's on that boy's mind.

Still, even though Julie has meshed into the family well, and they really love her - something still feels off.

The third thing you need to know is this:
A thing happens

Of course something happens! Things fall apart. Eventually the pieces of the Watkins odd-puzzle start to add up, and Julie is a very smart girl. What happens is a bit of a tornado, blowing through the home and tearing things to pieces. The question is: can they all pull through and survive or is all of the year's progress for nothing? And good gracious, does the poor girl ever get to meet the ever-absent Finn? 


When I finished reading Flat-Out Love, I wanted it to be just a little bit longer. I needed just a little more, to know a little more about what happened after the thing that happened. This story captivated me from the first word and held me until the end.

The characters were wonderful, fully developed and easy to love. I felt invested in each of them. The story was fantastic and I wanted to know more, more, more. If the book had been longer, I wouldn't have minded a bit - I was lost in this story with its steady, perfect pacing and swoon-worthy moments. I also personally loved the Boston-area setting because it felt vivid and real to me despite my never having been to the area - I felt able to visualize the streets walked by Julie and the neighborhoods described by the author.

I thought early-on that there would be a plot twist of some sort, but I didn't really know what it would be. Honestly, I didn't care because the story was just so doggone good. Before the big reveal, I *did* figure it out, but it didn't change how I felt about the story at all. The only thing it did for me was make me a cheerleader for the characters, which sounds a little bit dorky but HEY I DON'T CARE. I loved this story.

The only things that I would change would be to know a little more after the thing that happened. I always want a little more when a big event happens in the latter part of the book because I always want to see how events such as this one change or shape the characters in the long run. (Really, this is a selfish request - I just want more of this story.)


Flat-Out Love will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary Romance
(with only slight issues)
New Adult Genre
Great Setting
Plot Twist

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park
is currently available for purchase.


Have you read Flat-Out Love yet?
Did you love it?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

…on The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss {Audiobook}

The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicles #1
Book Published by DAW Trade
Publish Date: January 1, 2007
662 Pages
Source:  Library (print) & Audible.com (audio)


I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.
–(excerpt from summary on back jacket)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My Thoughts: There is nothing that I can say on this blog post that can tell you how much I loved this book, so just know that before you go any further. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is absolutely one of the best recommendations I've ever received in my entire life. For a person who loves high fantasy and doesn't mind a longer story, this series is perfect.

The first thing you need to know is this:
I took practically FOREVER with this book.  
I read it from mid-February to early-ish July.  
Y'all know that I choose to read some of my books super-slowly. This is one of those books. I've said it before and I'll say it again: THIS WAS THE PERFECT CHOICE FOR ME. It was the perfect choice for me, for this book. When I allow myself a little at the time, I can remember details so well. AND I seem to connect with the characters so much more. AND I just fall in love with the setting and the story so much harder.

The Name of the Wind is a very descriptive book, very detailed. Patrick Rothfuss took time to describe things such as how the wind blew the leaves, the way the rocks looked by the side of the road, the texture of Kvothe's cloak, etc. He literally painted a picture that is almost perfectly reproducible in our minds as readers not only as a flat image, but as a 3-D image if we choose to view it that way. For me, the only way to take this book in was slowly.

Some of my reading friends have inhaled it, and I think that is awesome. At times, I was almost jealous of this. But still, I trudged on slowly and steadily. When the book was over, I felt like I was shutting the cover on a huge chunk of my life (because several months kind of IS).  

*It should also be noted that I re-read/re-listened to several entire chapters several times because I loved them so much, which made my reading time longer. One example of this was, I think, Chapter 7, which includes the summary I included above. I'm talking about when Kvothe was giving a brief explanation of exactly who he is. I think I listened to that chapter via audio four times alone, not counting how many times I read it in print. Perhaps I have a problem? 

The second thing you need to know is this:
  This book is, to me, a great definition of HIGH FANTASY.
(which I love love love)
Please feel free to discuss this with me or correct me. 
The Name of the Wind takes place in a world that does not exist in real life. It isn't real. It's completely told from the point-of-view of Kvothe. In fact, this book is the story of Kvothe telling his story to the Chronicler, who is a recorder of information.

The book starts out with sort of a BANG! and in this event, we meet Chronicler. Through this meeting, Kvothe starts to tell his story, which means that he goes way back in time to the beginning of "his story" - when he was a young boy - and he works his way forward. At the end of the first book, one entire day has taken place - one day of Kvothe telling his story to Chronicler, and they decide they are ready to break for the day and pick back up the next day (which is where book two will start, I presume).

Regarding Kvothe's story - Of course, being such a big fantasy tale, something happens to Kvothe early on that sets him on a quest that lasts throughout the length of this book, and potentially his life. This is where the nasty good vs. evil comes to play - Kvothe being the good, spends years trying to find a certain group, which is evil. Along the way, we meet his friends and his enemies. We see how he grew up and how he went to University. We see how he was so smart he was able to outsmart anyone he wanted to or needed to. We see him fall in love and we see people fall in love with him.

This is the story of Kvothe's life in the form high fantasy, my favorite, and The Name of the Wind is only part of his story. And oh my goodness gracious, I can't wait to start the next book!

The third thing you need to know is this:
 I NEVER do audiobooks when I read books for the first time.
BUT...in this case, I recommend it. Let me explain. 
This book is long. Very long. And as I mentioned earlier, Patrick Rothfuss is very descriptive. In fact, when I've read or heard complaints of The Name of the Wind (*gasp!*) the complaints I've read most are about it possibly being too descriptive, which takes up too much space in the book. When I got an account with Audible, I asked around for recommendations and this was recommended to me, and it was the first audiobook that I bought for myself. Yes, BOUGHT, because I will be listening to this bad boy again and again. TRUTH. 

HOWEVER...Since it was my first time with this story AND since it is fantasy - I needed the print copy to go along with it. So I checked the book out from the library and literally followed along with the audio for some parts of the story. For other parts, I used the book to actually SEE the stranger-sounding words that the reader was saying. (I have to visualize an odd name, be it a person's name or the name of a place or something. For example, when the city of Tarbean or the tavern Eolian came up, I needed to SEE that junk written out when I heard it over and over. Y'all understand what I'm saying? Probably not. Just know that I'm quirky and we'll just leave it at that.)

ALSO...the reader for this story is the one-and-only Nick Podehl, who is incredibly fabulous and is probably in the top three or four of my favorite readers, ever. Podehl not only never flinches when these wonky names come up, but he has an accent for every character that is perfect for them, and he carries these accents and personalities throughout the length of the book. He sings when he is supposed to sing, and he reads with the emotions that are appropriate for the scenes of the story. OH YES, AND HIS VOICE IS LIKE WOW. Sugary sweet, you guys. 


The Name of the Wind is, like I said, easily a lifetime favorite of mine. If this were not so, I would not have spent so long on it. Since I did, I feel like I know Kvothe and his friends, like I can almost reproduce his steps around the Four Corners of Civilization - or at least to the places we've traveled so far. I adore Kvothe and the parts of his story that I heard on this first day of his sharing it to Chronicler. I have all ideas that things are about to kick it up in the next book. I can't wait. But I also don't want to get into it just yet. I have to sit on this one a little while. (But not too long - I don't think I can take the wait.)

I wasn't expecting the ending that came with The Name of the Wind. It sort of came from nowhere. But I really loved it. By the end of the book, when everyone retires to bed for the evening, we've reverted back to the time and scene in which we began. And doggone it if another big event doesn't happen. It kind of shakes things up a bit and leaves readers with their mouths hanging wide open. Or at least that's what it did to me. I loved this, when normally I don't really love endings like this. So why this time? Because whenever I'm ready, so is The Wise Man's Fear, right there for the taking, because it's already out.

 If you are a fan of Award-Winning books, you're in for a special treat because The Name of the Wind received the Alex Award (my favorite award!) in 2008. This means that even though it is technically written as an adult book, it has received a particular interest among young adults.

Whether you choose to read in print or listen in audio, I feel like you will love The Name of the Wind, particularly if you are a fan of fantasy. The audiobook version was produced by Brilliance Audio on May 3, 2009 and is 27 hours, 58 minutes long. It is read by the fabulous Nick Podehl, who did the book brilliant justice as his voice for reading Kvothe and all of the other characters was perfect.   

The Name of the Wind will appeal to fans of

High Fantasy/Epic Fantasy & Science Fiction
INCREDIBLE Storytelling - Coming-of-Age, Travels, Adventures, Romance, Heartache
INCREDIBLE Male Leading Character, Just Incredible
INCREDIBLE Setting - Four Corners of Civilization, WOOHOO!
Good vs. Evil

*This book has everything.
And it is awesome.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
is currently available for purchase.

Are you fan of fantasy?
What's your favorite fantasy stories/series?

Can you recommend some to me?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ten Vivid Worlds or Settings I've Loved

Click HERE to check out Top Ten Tuesday
at The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings In Books

Because some of us are suckers for an excellent world.

Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series has one of my favorite
settings EVER. I want to visit the Nevernever even though things there
are likely to be beautiful and also eat me, capture me, or burn me. 

Pure by Julianna Baggott & Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
are two of my favorite apocalyptic-ish settings ever. So vivid in my head,
these books read like action movies and I loved it each time I read them. 

Bethany Griffin's Masque of the Red Death has a setting so lush and vivid -
it almost feels like it is living and breathing, like it is another character.
One of the best I've read in a long time. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is not only a basically perfect story,
but the dual-setting of Prague and Eretz is perfection as well. 

Railsea by China Mieville gave a dusty, stark, gray, metallic life to the
apocalyptic salvage ruins where Sham had his adventures.

The setting is large in Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind. I spent months
on this book and because of this, I feel like I can almost describe
every setting in this book near-perfectly. 

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is probably the very best example of a
post-apocalyptic wasteland. This book screams ashes, gray, dust, barren,
wasteland, sadness, hunger, everything a post-apocalyptic countryside should be.

John Connelly's The Book of Lost Things is a brilliant take on classic fairytales.
It's a child's odd adventure through a land where he meets characters we know,
but the setting is way off/kind of crazy and the characters are too.
It's perfectly realized with Connelly's style of writing. 

Nobody does world-building like Paolo Bacigalupi.
Ship Breaker is claustrophobic and gritty and metallic and sandy. Perfect.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is an odd addition to this mix as
the only contemporary, but when we're talking settings - the setting of this story
is perfect. I could easily picture myself in every single scene,
be it either of the homes or any of the other scenes of this book.
Not talking world-building here, but the settings
are done with perfection on each and every page,
which is amazing coming from this debut author.
I was astounded by the skill with this book to transport me to whatever
place the characters were visiting. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dear Jamie, I'll Miss Ye! {Outlander Readalong Week Six}

Welcome to The End of the Outlander Read-Along! 

These are Asheley's Questions from Chapters 36-41.

YOU GUYS. I can't believe this is over. I've grown fond of Jamie and Claire and this big blue book. I'm gonna miss it. 


Week Six: The End!

1.  Jamie has the worst case of seasickness. Do you get seasickness or motion sickness? If not, is there something that makes your stomach a bit queasy?  
OH YES, ewww. I get nasty, horrible, awful motion sickness. And I get carsick sometimes if I don't ride in the front seat or if the driver isn't a great driver (lots of curves = yuck if I'm not driving!). It's gross. I don't know how I'd have managed what Jamie had to go through. And before anyone asks, no, I've never been on a cruise before...
ALSO: Facial wounds and eye stuff makes me queasy. Nasty. NASTY. Completely unrelated to the book. But you asked. If you want to gross me out, show me a cut-up face. Or an eyeball.  *gags*
2.  How did you handle reading the details of Jamie's torture at the hands of Randall? Did you blame Jamie for anything that happened during the encounter with the captain? If you were Claire, how do you think you would have taken hearing about the abuse from your husband? What did you think of Claire's methods to get Jamie to start healing psychologically from his wounds from Randall (when she filled his room with opium and simulated another attack by the captain)?   
I was absolutely shocked at how NOT WELL I handled all the issues with Jamie last week. I barely made it through! This week I decided I'd read in small doses, which helped a lot. I also knew he'd been through some rough stuff, so I expected there may be some rough stuff still. Does that make sense? ALTHOUGH - it was still VERY ROUGH. (Y'all, I just don't know why I reacted this way. YES, it is awful. But I never ever have such a strong reaction to books. I'm totally weirded out by myself. Anyway...)
For me to blame Jamie would be sort of cruel, I think. But I do wish he'd have fought back a little bit. Part of the reason I have loved him so hard is because he's been such a fighter at times. I can respect his reasons for not fighting, but I don't really understand them. If he was going to die anyway, and it was only Jamie and Randall, what did he have to lose? 
Claire did well to be able to hear about everything and to let Jamie keep talking without losing control. If she'd have made a big fuss, that would've probably turned the attention onto herself and her need to be comforted rather than his need to get everything off of his chest. So I commend her for *gasp* MAKING A GOOD CHOICE and letting him talk. WAY TO GO, CLAIRE! Also, I don't know that I would have ever thought to do what Claire did to heal Jamie's wounds - I guess that was her last hope, her last idea. It was brilliant and marvelous, and I think it was awesome and a little crazy. I didn't know what was going to happen when Jamie woke up. How scary! But it worked well, thank goodness. WAY TO GO AGAIN, CLAIRE! *gasps again* 
I have to credit Claire where she is due. My opinion of her changed a lot in the last section of the reading. She redeemed herself greatly. I never hated her or anything, but I did feel that she made a series of bad decisions throughout the book. This last week - she really came through for her husband, and I can totally respect that.  
3.  From this cover, which of the above elements of Outlander were you most looking forward to? Which did you enjoy most while reading? Which did you enjoy least while reading? Which did you just not care about? Any of these do you wish there were more of? Less of  

"Within these pages of OUTLANDER, you will find it all...history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honor, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice, and lives), voyages or daring, journeys of both body and soul...you know, the usual stuff of literature."
I didn't read this quote beforehand, but if I would have, I'd have most looked forward to the medicine, history, sex, violence, and OF COURSE swords. Honestly, I didn't really know that much about the book going into it except for time travel, so reading this would've given me a ton more insight into the book than I had! 
I've said a thousand times, and I'll say it a final time: my favorite part has been Claire's nursing. I had absolutely no idea the medicine was such a big part of this book. I have no idea if it is a big deal in the rest of the series or not, but I have LOVED it in this book. In fact, it was the first thing I loved about the book. (OF COURSE I have loved Jamie too. STILL DO.) I could have done with less of the descriptions of the families - I don't remember ANY of them, and didn't at all during the story - who was married to who, who was the mother of which brother, which side of the family which character was on...I remembered NONE of it. Seriously. Also, I didn't care for Lollybroch, although I realize that it is a big part of the story. It was boring!! to me.  
4. Share with us your overall thoughts of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Your favorite quotes, scenes,  and/or your favorite words that had you searching for a dictionary. If you haven't been marking your favorite quotes/passages, you can find your favorite Outlander quotes on Goodreads.  
I really loved Outlander - like, a lot. More than I expected to! I was a little nervous going into it because historical fiction just isn't my thing. But reading along with everyone has been fun, especially with a Twitter hashtag. I've connected with some new readers that I like a lot and will keep up with, and I am super happy that I made it through the book. I would've kept staring at this beast of a book without everyone else reading along with me. (And with all of the odd language and tough parts, I would have probably put the book down and not picked it back up without the support of you guys.)
Oh gracious, yes, I've been keeping up with scenes and quotes! But I cannot pick and choose several favorites, even for this question. Just know that I loved the wedding scene and Chapter 15. I loved when Claire took care of Jamie at the very beginning and at the very end. But I think my favorite part is when he told her his name!
I turned to Jamie in sudden panic. "I can't marry you!I don't even know your last name!"
He looked down at me and cocked a ruddy eyebrow. "Oh. It's Fraser. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser." He pronounced it formally, each name slow and distinct.
Have mercy. Names, y'all. Love 'em.  
5. Are you gonna continue with the series or are you done after Outlander? For those of us who are new readers of the series, any predictions? Do you think participating in the read-along helped or hindered your experience with the story? For those of you who have already read Outlander and the books beyond, how much did you enjoy (or not enjoy) this re-read?
I'll continue with this series, for sure. But I'm not ready to start on the next book just yet. Some of the stuff from last week and this week was rough for me, and now that I have my sweet, precious Jamie back all nice and healthy, I want to keep him that way for a little while before I dive back into Scottish battles and being upset at Claire again. I want to bask in the ending of this one and enjoy it. (Also, I rarely read books in a series back-to-back. Only very occasionally. I'm weird.)
Reading Outlander as part of a group only enhanced this book for me. I love reading along with people and talking about books; it's just really the best part of reading and something I love so much. What made this fun was that some of us were newbies and some of us were re-readers. Such a great mix! Everyone was so patient with one another and supportive and I thought this was an awesome format to read such a large, chunky book. 
Do I have any predictions? No way. I have NO IDEA what's in store for us. I kind of like it that way, actually. I would have NEVER predicted any of what Outlander threw at us. I'm nervous about Frank and Randall, but we'll just have to see! 
BONUS #1: Take the Outlander Quiz on Goodreads and tell us how you did!
Oh my gracious, there is no way I'm taking the Outlander Quiz. Y'all, I do horribly at those things. I am a poor participant for this question. BOO ON ME! 
BONUS #2: Claire is able to visit the library at The Abbey. Share with us pictures or a description of your own personal drawing of your dream library. Feel free to share more than one. Some of you may even have a Pinterest board full of inspiration, please share! 
I LOVED that Claire got to visit a library - we were talking near the beginning of this book about the LACK of books way back then, and now she's visiting a library! I chuckled when I read this part! 
I always think anyone who has a home library is really lucky. I got two new bookshelves recently and it felt like Christmas to me, but I would not go anywhere near calling my book collection a library. Anytime I think of a home library, though, the pictures from Neil Gaiman's home library from the internet pop into my head. Here's one. It stands to reason that a cool guy would have a cool home library, OF COURSE. I personally don't need all of those books, but they look great in Neil's house. 
I do not have a Pinterest board for inspiration. I have never been on Pinterest.  :)  
You are all SO awesome. 
Thank you so much for participating with me! 
 I have the sads because this is over!