Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy New Year!

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May 2013 be full of the hopes and dreams you’ve always desired. It’s time to put the past behind you and move on to bigger and better things. 2012 was a wonderful year for me, but I know my life will be even more glorious with the coming new year.

I wish you nothing but the best, Cracking Spines fans! ūüôā

-Chelsea


Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Somehow the fact that I ever even read Wicked Appetite totally slipped my mind until last night. I mean, maybe it was because I started and finished it on the long sojourn from England back to Florida. I was so exhausted by the time I landed, I wiped out as soon as I got home. Wicked Appetite

Anyway, that doesn’t really matter.

In her traditionally light-hearted voice, Evanovich introduces yet another goofy, bumbling female protagonist a la Stephanie Plum. Lizzy Tucker. Lizzy is a baker living in Boston who has a penchant for making the best damn cupcakes you’ll ever taste. She (of course) has a wacky cast of characters surrounding her including:

  • Clarinda Dazzle-owner of Dazzle’s bakery, Lizzy’s boss.
  • Gloria “Glo” Binkly-funny would-be witch that also works at the bakery. Responsible for many zany mishaps.
  • Shirley More- the bakery’s best customer, buying two dozen (or more) cupcakes a day.
  • Carl-a monkey.
  • Diesel-a mysteriously sexy yet slightly dangerous stranger that walks into the bakery one day and changes Lizzy’s life.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

I feel like Janet Evanovich kind of just has a formula for a story and just plugs new characters into the slots. I read many of the Stephanie Plum novels as a teenager, and I really enjoyed them because it was my first go round with this author. But now… eh. Just eh. I mean, I read it in one sitting on a plane and it kept me entertained. It did it’s job. But my life wasn’t changed by it or anything.

And “Clarinda Dazzle”?? Come on. Are we writing a children’s book here?

I liked the beginning of the seven deadly sins premise, this book being focused on gluttony. But it wasn’t compelling enough to make me want to go back for seconds.

If you need a light beach read or need something to cure your¬†War and Peace¬†hangover–here you go.

But, in general I’d say skip it. Obviously I’d forgotten I’d even read it…

2 insect keychains of 5


Blind Descent by James M. Tabor

Never before have I had such a physical reaction to a book. James M. Tabor’s research chronicles the “race to the center of the world.” He tells the two opposing stories of Bill Stone’s exploration of Cheve in Mexico and Alexander Klimchouk’s exploration of Krubera in former Soviet Union Georgia. The two men were unwittingly battling each other for one of Earth’s last major discoveries–the deepest cave on earth.

And it’s nonfiction!¬†blind_descent

I was seriously nervous and short of breath while reading¬†Blind Descent. I’d be in the bath tub reminding myself to breathe evenly. I didn’t even know I was¬†claustrophobic¬†until now… I mean, I can fly in planes and ride elevators without trouble…but the idea of worming my way through an 18 inch tunnel a mile under the earth’s surface?

Forget that.

No seriously, I am never doing that. Ever ever ever.

What Stone and Klimchouk had to endure in order to break new ground is mind-boggling. We’re talking about weeks, sometimes even months, spent totally underground in the complete pitch dark. One wrong move or bad judgement call could mean death, and for several of Stone’s team member’s that’s exactly what happened. Not only were they risking their lives climbing and¬†rappelling, there was diving involved! Swimming around in dark silty water having to squeeze my way through unknown twists and turns is not my idea of a good time. More than once underwater panic almost cost Stone and company their lives.

Like I said, forget that.

I was really enthralled by this book and I learned a lot about a¬†completely¬†foreign topic. Tabor does a great job explaining what sleeping next to a roaring waterfall is like, as well as what it is to experience “the Rapture”–a type of panic attack/hallucination brought on by so much uninterrupted time in the dark. I found Stone’s story much more engrossing because he had a lot more drama surrounding his life, but I would much rather work for Klimchouk if I had to choose. Nobody died with him.

4 crinkling sleeping bags of 5

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Quote of the Day: Emily Maguire

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“There had never been a time when she had had any real relation to life.”

-From Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire


Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas, Cracking Spines fans! ‚̧


The Complete Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales

Ok, so I know that I’m gonna catch a lot of flack for this–but I’m nothing if not honest….¬†51CARXQDTVL._SL500_AA300_

I seriously did not like the collection of HCA’s Fairy Tales.

Sorry, sorry–hear me out.

Ok, we all know the classics. The Little Mermaid. The Steadfast Tin Soldier. The Nightingale  The Ugly Duckling. The Little Match Girl. I enjoyed those. For his time, HCA was totally groundbreaking. I mean, he and the Brothers Grimm kinda went back and forth ripping each other off a few times, but it is what it is. Never before had such fantastical tales been told! And I can appreciate that, I can, but from a modern viewpoint they are extremely dry.

Not to mention, really weird…

HCA had a tendency to forget facts he had already included and then change information later on down the road. And it seemed like if he wasn’t sure how to close a story or get rid of a character–BOOM YOU ARE DEAD, SIR! But not even in a way that really made sense. He just kinda trailed off with a lame, “And then he died…” or something like that.

He seemed to have some pretty extreme Christian leanings too, and a horribly¬†misogynistic¬†point of view. If you were a little girl and you did one bad thing–BOOM WE ARE CUTTING OFF YOUR FEET AND SENDING YOU TO HELL. Woah… If I had body parts amputated every time I misbehaved…let’s just say I’d be a pile of hair in the corner by now. At one point a little girl who did the unthinkable–stepped on a piece of bread in order to spare her new shoes–sunk down through the ground to Hell, where she was frozen like stone, covered in snakes and toads, and every time her mother cried for her the tears dripped down on her head and burned like acid.

That’s kinda messed up, dude.

So, don’t get me wrong–I totally understand that he was one of the forefathers of modern literature/fantasy. But his stories could be vastly improved on and (don’t hate me) I enjoyed some of Disney’s retellings better.

Let’s just say there is a reason why you’ve never heard of The Jewish Maid, Little Claus and Big Claus, or The Darning Needle.

It’s because they sucked.

2 world-traveling dung beetles of 5


Quote of the Day: Alice Meynell

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“Happiness is not a matter of events; it depends of the tides of mind.”¬†

-Alice Meynell


Eon by Alison Goodman

So sometimes I like to fantasize that I was Asian in a past life. I’m absolutely enthralled by Ancient China and Japan and I think their cultures and beliefs are some of the most interesting that have ever existed. Dragons and guardians and energy and fireworks… How could you not love it?

I’m burning incense just thinking about it.¬†eon

Mulan was always one of my favorite Disney movies as a kid. She wasn’t a princess, she was a warrior. I admired her the most because she was one of the few female characters Disney presented as strong and independent–she wasn’t wrapped around a man and she certainly didn’t need rescuing. She was the anti-damsel in distress.

Eon¬†by Alison Goodman reminded me of Mulan in a lot of ways. We’ve got a cross-dressing young girl with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. And dragons. And an emperor’s fate riding on her shoulders. Good stuff.

Eon is a 16 year old girl disguised as a 12 year old boy. She has the rare gift of Dragon Sight, her’s made even more rare because she can see all twelve Asian dragons and not just the one she could possibly link to

When the day comes the Council must choose a new Dragoneye Apprentice, Eon has her work cut out for her–not only because she’s a girl in drag, but also because one of her hips was crippled in an accident. But her Master’s fortune is resting on her¬†performance.

The kicker is, once Eon is chosen it’s not as if it’s all fun and games from there. She must contend with the evil Lord Ito and Lord Sethon who oppose the good emperor and whom are trying to take over his throne. Not to mention that something seems to be wrong with the connection to her dragon. The more she assumes a masculine role, the more the dragon fades from her minds eye.

Hmmm…

I adored everything about this book and I fully intend to read the sequel. While it can be a little slow in some parts, all the dragon lore and dastardly plotting kept me awake well into the night. Girl power!

4 steamed dumplings of 5

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Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Since I tore through Divergent and my wonderful lover man bought me a kickass Kindle Fire HD last month, Insurgent was the next obvious choice on my reading list.

And I was not disappointed. 11735983

Roth has managed to create a dystopian Chicago that is very believable, and in¬†Insurgent¬†she has definitely upped the political ante. With Erudite leader Jeanine Matthews at the helm of a anarchist movement, it’s up to Tris, Four, and the others to stop her. With Amity refusing to fight and Candor backed into a corner, who will come to the loyal Dauntless’ aid?

Four’s new alliance with the Factionless seems like the answer to their prayers, until a new piece of information is dangled in front of them. When Tris comes to the realization that the Factionless’ move against Jeanine might not be the right choice, she must choose between siding with Four or Four’s worst nightmare–his father. ¬†But will their love last with this betrayal?

Or will they even survive?

Tris must battle the gut-wrenching sadness and guilt that are threatening to overwhelm her. She must embrace her Divergence and her newly found Divergent counterparts if they are to have any hope for a better tomorrow. And she must cheat death and disaster countless times.

I was really entertained by¬†Insurgent. I don’t think it was better than¬†Divergent–which held more of the new-world-building wonder and romantic intrigue. But it definitely set the ball rolling for some major things in the third book, and I am interested to see where it ends up. I just got a little tired of Erudite totally raping the other factions and their “wudda we do? wudda we do?” attitudes. None of them seemed very willing to stand up for themselves, which was weird.

And Tris and Four’s relationship irritated me a lot. It seems like they are both so harsh and unrelenting that it’s difficult for them to be together. You can’t have two “my way or the highway” people and expect it to work. Both of them kept too many secrets from the other, and it only ultimately lead to disaster. If it was real love he wouldn’t question her motives so often. But… maybe things will turn out for the best.

Divergence is a deviation from the norm and the ability to adapt to multiple situations/change according to what works best. And that’s what the new world order is going to need if Tris and her friends are to make it out alive.

There was a definite cliff-hanger at the end of the book, so I’m eagerly awaiting the third (final?) installment.

4 simulation serums of 5

 

 

 


Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Oh, Ms. Stohl and Ms. Garcia. You totally pulled a fast one on me last year. I thought for sure that¬†Beautiful Chaos¬†was going to complete the Caster Chronicles¬†trilogy,¬†but–color me surprised–you instead left me with one hell of a cliffhanger.

And thankfully, a long-awaited forth book. BeautifulRedemption

Oh and (obviously) SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT READ PAST HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST THREE BOOKS.¬†

Beautiful Redemption¬†follows Ethan Wate into the afterlife–after his fateful jump off the water tower, that is. Yep. He’s dead. Again. But you know… like, for real this time.

Brokenhearted, Lena and Amma look for ways to bring Ethan back, but this time he might be too far out of their reach. But Ethan has the gut feeling that something went wrong, that he wasn’t supposed to die the way he did. Maybe Fate made a mistake, just this once.

And–wouldn’t you know it?–those bastards at the Far Keep DID have something to do with it and now Ethan must face dangers untold to fight his way back to the girl he loves.

Sheesh… You’d think once you’d died you wouldn’t have much left to worry about…

I really did enjoy BR, it was a nice cherry on top of the cake that is the Caster Chronicles. Yet, for some reason I just didn’t feel the same¬†urgency¬†of the situation as I did with the other books. Maybe it was because the die had already been cast. Maybe it was because I’m not in love with Lena-the-girlfriend as a character. Or because my favorite character Ridley barely had any “on screen” time. Who knows?

I am glad that the authors took the time to make this an extra book, and not just a rushed few chapters at the end of the third novel. For that reason I am rating it as highly as I am, NOT as a stand alone book. I think this was a nice ending to a long series, but it was pretty predictable.

4 lemon meringue pies of 5