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October 22, 2016

Brian Review: Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

Title:  Spare and Found Parts
Author: Sarah Maria Griffin
Published On: 10/04/16
Page Count: 384

Synopsis: (Found on Goodreads)

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?
Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5
I had no idea what this book was about going in. I took a look at the cover when it was handed to me and just dove in. The story I found was definitely better than I was expecting. There was a lot of symbolism and meaning in between each line, and I felt that it was able to hit an emotional level that I could really appreciate. Every character has the potential to be great and terrible, joyful and extremely depressing. After I finished, I felt better for having read it.

Cover: 3.5 / 5
Typically I am a big fan of off the wall covers, and when the cover artist tries to depict the meaning of the story through more interpretive designs. However, I felt that this book did enough of that on its own, and there was so much going on in this world that I would’ve appreciated seeing a picture of the artists take on the surroundings the characters were in for this story. A more traditional cover might have been better here, at least for me. The cover they chose was interesting, with a good idea behind the design.

Characters: 4.5 / 5
I really appreciated the depth in the characters for this story. Even characters you didn’t directly interact with often seemed to have their own unique voice.
Nell: The antagonist, and girl our story revolves around. Nell has a lot of inner turmoil and considers herself to be a step removed from everyone around her, including her closest friends. She doesn’t make much effort to fit in, which I appreciated, because it let her be herself. When she finally finds something she is passionate about she refuses to let anyone stand in her way, and does anything necessary to accomplish her goal for better or worse.
Ruby: Nell’s closest friend, Ruby is much more down to earth and approachable than Nell will ever be. She is sweet and kind, and tries to help Nell integrate with their society as much as she will allow, but knows she can only take her so far. Ruby came off as somewhat predictable, but most best friends are like that, and it didn’t detract from the story.
Julian: Nell’s father, the great biochemist / scientist / doctor. You hear a lot about how wonderful Dr. Crane is for his contributions to society, helping to replace lost limbs and parts for members of the town while he spends a majority of the story locked away in his lab. There is always a shadow of doubt, however, on the good doctor’s true intentions.

Plot: 5/5
This story has a lot of deeper meaning, in that if you read everything and take all the words at face value, you’re missing out on half of the story. I felt like it was reaching out to so many different types of people at once, and that there was a character or plot twist for everyone. The book itself can be broken down into fairly simple lines; ‘A post apocalyptic society is recovering from devastation and plague caused by artificial intelligence, watch what happens when some of the old technology is discovered and revived.’ However, there are so many layers to each character and the actions they take, I found myself re reading pages to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.


October 19, 2016

Guest Review: Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Published On: 9/20/2016
Page Count: 320
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Overall Rating:

Cover: Normally I am one who doesn’t care much for book covers, however this is one of the few I like. I love the gloomy depiction of Victorian London on the bottom half of the cover and I appreciate the slight smirk the subject on the top half has while holding her knife.

Many things are expected of a young high born lady in Victorian London, performing dissections and autopsies are not among them. That doesn’t stop Audrey Rose Wadsworth however. Her strong willed nature and disdain for the gender norms lead her to forge her own path and demand more from life than society would willingly give.

What do with your time when you will inherit title, wealth and responsibility from your father? You dabble and comb your hair. At least this is what Nathaniel Wadsworth, brother to Audrey Rose, chose to do. I initially felt like his character was that of a cat exploring a new room. Looking at something, maybe playing with it a little, then moving on to the next thing. However as we get to know Nathaniel better, we see that he is driven by a strong love of his sister and mother.

Lord Wadsworth is a man who is wrought with guilt and anger. These created rifts between him and his family in one form or another. Despite the rifts, guilt and anger however; he is a man who deeply loves his children and only wants to protect them.

Uncle Jonathan is a brilliant forensic scientist and mentor to Audrey Rose. When she wanted to learn the science Uncle Jonathan taught her and held high expectations for her work. It is through him that Audrey Rose begins her investigation, and meets Thomas.

Thomas Cresswell can best be described by Audrey Rose. “His eyes are golden brown when he’s intrigued by something. He’s regal looking and handsome, but more interested in formulas and solving crimes than he is in… … poetry. He acts devilishly warm one moment, then frigid the next, … His arrogance is also … Annoying.” Thomas also has a great deal of care for those he is close to, though it is a subtle care.

Deception and misdirection, the challenge of proving one’s self despite societal preconceptions, and a little boy annoys girl romance all in Victorian London during the heyday of Jack the Ripper. The story follows the MC Audrey Rose as she searches for the truth behind a string of savage killings plaguing London while trying to prove herself a forensic scientist in a male dominated world.

“I dreamed of a day when girls could wear lace and makeup-or no makeup at all and don burlap sacks if they desired-to their chosen profession without it being deemed inappropriate.

We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?


October 09, 2016

Guest Post: Leigh Bardugo Book Signing in Los Altos,Ca

Leigh Bardugo Book Signing in Los Altos

Before Ashley had invited me to the book signing in Los Altos I had never even heard of Leigh Bardugo.  As a reader who tends to stay more to the Sci-fi side of Sci-fi/fantasy it may be understandable why.  I can assure you that after personally viewing her interview at the event I was completely convinced to read her work.  Leigh has a very intellectually witty personality filled with enthusiasm and an incredible devotion to her fans.  

I remember standing in line just to enter the event thinking how similar it was to line at most theme parks.  Which quickly made me realize how important of an author Leigh must be,  especially considering Los Altos was a small town.  My favorite part of her interview consisted of her being asked what would be her personal weapon of choosing since her characters each had a select weapon that related to their respective personalities.  She responded by telling a short tale about her hearing two girls screaming outside of her home in the night.  Fearing the worst she grabbed her baseball bat to see if she could save the day only to find the girls were drunk and upset after a night of partying .  She said that after that experience a baseball bat would be her personal weapon of choice and she would name the bat Gandalf.  Somehow picturing Leigh wielding Gandalf the Bat in an angry rage brings me utter joy. In all honestly Leigh quickly gained a warm part of my heart with all of her humor.  

Leigh seemed incredibly happy to show off her dark humor and that led me to believe that she was simply being herself.  It’s funny how everyone burst out laughing when she brought up a gruesome scene from her book Six of Crows.  It sounds awful I know but when she revealed her thought process while writing that section of the book it made everyone snicker and cheer.  Her bubbly personality kept me quite entranced and entertained the entire duration of her interview.  I’d say I only wish it had lasted longer so I could have heard more fun insights into her work such as this.

I could tell during the questioning period that Leigh Bardugo truly cared about each and every one of her fans.  Giving the best possible answer and supporting new writers in the crowd.  She took every moment of time she possibly could to give any details in her answers she could possibly think of.  One thing she insisted on is that she didn’t write her amazing stories in one go but simply wrote them out and revised them many times until they felt perfect.  Questions relating to how she wrote such incredible and unique work came up often so I heard this answer in various forms many times.  Leigh certainly was humble and even modest about her success as an author which in many ways only drew me to appreciate her success that much more.

Talking to Leigh Bardugo face to face while getting one of Ashley’s books signed felt like having a conversation with a long lost friend.  I was greeted with a warm smile and out of curiousity I questioned her about what movie trailers she had written for.  She happily responded and made me chuckle.  I greatly desired to know how she got her start in writing so it was interesting to hear.  Along with the book signing we selected a free card of a random Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom character.  Which only added to the fun and made for a pleasant surprise to see which characters everyone received.  

Overall I would give this book signing a 5/5 and it will be an experience I will remember for a long time.  Also on a side note Leigh gained a new fan and I’ve actually begun reading some of her books.  Hopefully she will release another work of fiction soon so I can get the opportunity to hear more of her wonderful insight into her work at one of her future book signings.  I would also like to personally thank Ashley for inviting me to this event because I wouldn’t have known what I was missing unless I had gone.


* Sidenote Ashley, Walt and Will are traveling to Seattle to the Fierce Reads Tour stop this Monday 10/10*

October 07, 2016

Three Quick Reviews; How to Hang a Witch, Dragonet Prophecy, A Shadow Bright and Burning

How to Hang a Witch 4/5
Adriana Mather
Synopsis (Found on Goodreads)
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire) 3/5
Tui T. Sutherland
Synopsis (Found on Goodreads)
The seven dragon tribes have been at war for generations, locked in an endless battle over an ancient, lost treasure. A secret movement called the Talons of Peace is determined to bring an end to the fighting, with the help of a prophecy -- a foretelling that calls for great sacrifice.

A Shadow Bright and Burning 4.5/5
Jessica Cluess
Synopsis (Found on Goodreads)
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. 

Here is the video I posted so you can take a listen/watch.

I have a few discussion posts and a book signing event post coming up for you this month. You can look forward to those as well as a few reviews. I`ve decided to be less worried about the amount of content I post and more the quality that I put on here.


October 05, 2016

Review: And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

And The Trees Crept In

AKA The Creeper Man

Author: Dawn Kurtagich
Release Date: 9/6/16
Page Count: 352
Synopsis: (Found on Goodreads)
When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt's home, it's immediately clear that the "blood manor" is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too--the questions that Silla can't ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that's appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?


I love the US cover so much. It really fits into the contents of the novel. I will say that the cover model falling does look similar to a few other YA book covers tat have come out recently.

Characters: 4/5

Silla`s guilt and hate for everything was so strong. I was waiting for the self-harm moment to come besides the not eating. She fails but pushes forward because of Nori, Aunt Cath and Gowen. She feels the need to save everyone that she doesn't care for herself at all.

Nori is so sweet and pure yet twisted and cunning. I never truly understood the crippled part of her but slowly Nori grew on me. She was there as a crutch for Silla to care for as sisters are.

Aunt Cath aka Crazy Auntie Cath really is crazy and cryptic. From the get go she is a sweet joyful lady just trying to protect the girls and raise them to be better than the environment that they came from. She want to teach the girls how to protect themselves but does not succeed in the educational sense.

Gowen is very patient and extremely persistent. He is the true definition of love and you don't learn it until you read it for yourself. He never solves Silla`s problems for her just pushes her to find her own way.

Plot: 5/5

Dawn has done it again by creating a story within a story. The descriptions of both house and terror was chilling to read out loud to my parents. This is definitely more mentally emotional than The Dead House is. By reading it out out I was able to give the characters a voice and listen to them grown not just in my head. Wha would you do if you were stuck in house sinking and surrounded by trees?

Overall Thoughts: 4/5

I read this out out for 3 days, roughly 11 hours of my voice going dead. My mom was full of guesses but we pressed on to the end. The format is a little hard to read out loud but in your head it should be fairly simple. I like the journal entries the most and would always shift my voice to fit the sections.



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