Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sharon Gosling: The Diamond Thief

Title:  The Diamond Thief

Author:  Sharon Gosling

Publisher:  Capstone Pr Inc. Set to be released Oct 1, 2014.

Pages:  335 (This was a digital ARC so the final, printed copy might have a different page length.)

Genre:  Young adult/steampunk

Setting:  Victorian London, England

Where did you get it:  This was an ARC from Netgalley

Why did you read it:  First of all, I love the cover. It appealed to me while I was searching for titles on Netgalley. Then I had to read it so that I could submit feedback on Netgalley's website. 

From the publisher:  The Diamond Thief is set in Victorian England and follows the exploits of sixteen-year-old circus performer and jewel thief, Remy Brunel. Brought to London from France to steal a famous diamond on behalf of her evil circus master, Remy finds herself pitted against determined young detective, Thaddeus Rec. Together they are drawn into a dastardly plot that will take them into the heart of the city's criminal world…

What did you think? Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I liked all of the main characters:  16 year old Remy Brunel who is an orphan, trapeze artist, and skilled thief. Thaddeus Rec, a policeman for Scotland Yard who is out to turn Remy in. J, loveable scamp and Dickens-esque orphan. I loved the steampunk elements, as I always do, and the suspenseful edge as Remy's adventure progresses through the story. However, I thought parts of the book were rushed and/or underdeveloped. I didn't feel like I completely understood the villain's motivation nor was Remy's background fully explained. Remy's being a circus trapeze artist was emphasized by the author, yet it played a minor role in the book. Additionally, the reader is not fully introduced to Thaddeus or J. 

The romance between 16 year old Remy and 20-something Thaddeus (I'm guessing here. The author doesn't give us Thaddeus' age and I just assumed he was in his 20s since he was interested in a 16 year old girl yet he was already working at Scotland Yard.) bugged me a bit. I know this is Victorian England and people married much younger than they do in the present day, but still. Aside from that, I oftentimes had a hard time remembering Remy was only 16. Again, I am aware of the setting, but it felt like Gosling made Remy 16 solely so that she could call this a young adult novel. 

So, maybe it sounds like I didn't like this book, but I really did. It was a fun book and for being young adult and steampunk, it was unique and by no means a cookie cutter YA novel. It's impossible not to like Remy, Thaddeus, and J and you root for them to make it out alive and overcome evil. I think this would be a great book for a middle school child. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Janet Evanovich: Top Secret Twenty-One

Title:  Top Secret Twenty-One

Author:  Janet Evanovich

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group

Pages:  352

Genre:  Fiction, mystery and crime

Setting:  Trenton, New Jersey

Where did you get it? I pre-ordered a signed copy from Barnes and Noble.

Why did you read it? I really enjoy this series. It's lighthearted, easy, fast-paced, and hilarious.

From the publisher:  Stephanie Plum is back in an all-new adventure from #1 bestselling author Janet Evanovich. This time Stephanie’s in deep. To get to the bottom of the mess, she’s going to have to keep things Top Secret. (This is a really sad blurb. It tells you nothing about the story.)

What did you think? In this installation of the Stephanie Plum series, Carlos Manoso, a.k.a. Ranger, has become the target of the bad guys. Seeing as how he is supposed to be the competent businessman (who used to be a bounty hunter and trained Stephanie, in case you didn't know) the fact that he's having a tough time handling this and needs Stephanie's help is quite the turn of events.

This book was funny, but not quite as funny as some previous books. I also thought the Stephanie/Grandma/Mom interaction was a bit limited and I find those to be pretty hilarious. I don't know if I'm just getting tired of this series, but I'm finding Lula's antics to be more annoying than funny and that's where Evanovich gets most of her comic relief. As for Stephanie's bounty hunting, it's always good for a laugh and she was even somewhat helpful to Ranger.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book and I'm not sorry that I got the signed pre-order. Still, it's definitely not up there with my favorite Stephanie Plum novels. This would make a perfect hammock on the beach kind of read, a definite 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lynn Cullen: Mrs. Poe

Title:  Mrs. Poe

Author:  Lynn Cullen

Publisher:  Gallery Books

Pages:  352

Genre:  Fiction. Maybe even historical fiction and/or gothic fiction

Setting:  19th century New York

Where did you get it?  I bought myself a hard copy at Barnes & Noble. 

Why did you read it? The title caught my eye and I love historical period books. I'm also a fan of Edgar Allen Poe and thought that this book would be an entertaining and informative read.

From the publisher:  The triumphant success of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” compels fledgling poet Frances Osgood to meet her literary idol, a mysterious, complicated man who soon has her under his seductive spell in an all-consuming affair. And when Edgar’s frail young wife breaks into their idyll to befriend her rival, Frances fears that deceiving Mrs. Poe may be as impossible as cheating death itself. . . .

What did you think? Just like I thought when I saw the intriguing cover, this novel was entertaining and informative. I've seen pictures of Poe and never thought of him as being a ladies man, lol. That he could be caught up in a dark and dangerous love triangle was surprising. I had also never heard of Frances Osgood, who happens to be a real figure in Poe's life, so I also learned something while reading this novel. It's funny, but before reading this novel, I thought I knew who Poe was. It turns out that I have some knowledge of his works but really, I don't know very much about the man himself. It's interesting that his work was actually well-received while he was alive and he was well-known. Also, interestingly, the term "Lisztomania" is more than just a song title (Lisztomania by Phoenix). It was derived from the behavior of ladies whenever they saw the musician Franz Liszt perform. They pretty much went crazy over him. I didn't even know such a thing as being star struck and celeb-crazy existed in the 19th century.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Cullen's novel. I thought her use of historical style of writing was brilliant and it really helps to bring the reader into the realm of 19th century New York City and Poe's world. I also thought the romance between Poe and Osgood was very Jane Austin-ish in that they, and other romantic characters of that time, seemed to fall in love from sight rather than from actually knowing each other. I've always thought that style of romance writing came off as false (in the case of Austin's novels) but used here, it just lends to the feel of reading a book that written in the 19th century rather than the present. Additionally, I was left guessing who the sinister threat actually was until the reveal towards the end of the novel.

All in all, a great read and different from what I normally choose to read, which was nice. I'd give this a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars only because the romance between Osgood and Poe was a tiny bit annoying, lol. ::shrug:: I really want to read the rest of Cullen's works.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rainbow Rowell: Eleanor and Park
Title:  Eleanor & Park

Author:  Rainbow Rowell

Publisher:  St. Martin's Press

Pages:  336

Genre:  Young adult, Teen Fiction

Setting:  Omaha, Nebraska in 1986

Where did you get it? I downloaded a copy to my Nook app from Barnes & Noble.

Why did you read it? I had seen some chat about it from the bookish accounts I follow in Instagram.

From the publisher: 
Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

What did you think? I loved this book. I downloaded it and sat down and read it in one sitting. I actually barked at my kids when they tried to talk to me when I was reading it. I called my sister and made her download and read it too. She loved it, just in case you were wondering.

This is my first novel by Rainbow Rowell. Her writing is...I can't think of a word that doesn't sound cliche. Unique, lyrical, mesmerizing. She draws you into the story and makes it impossible to put the book down. I think that she conveys what it's like to be a teenager with spot on grace and skill. She also creates characters that are relatable, likeable, and real. I've read books where I've loved the story and atmosphere that the author creates and while I didn't hate the characters, I didn't really care about them either. I've also read books where I've loved the characters but hated where the author prattled on about the scenery or about minor characters or sub plots. With Eleanor & Park I enjoyed all the characters, even the ones I loved to hate, and she also took me back to the 80s and the music, style, and even the feel of an 80s house and neighborhood.

I'd recommend this book to any age 14+ despite it being a "young adult" novel. While it does have some questionable language, that shouldn't stop you from reading it or letting your teen read it. I can't believe that this book has actually been banned by some high schools. What a loss for them. If I had a rating system (should I develop a rating system?) I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Get to Know Nilla Bean


Nilla Bean right after we got her. Approx 9 mos old
This jewel is Nilla Bean. Her friends and family call her Bean. Bean is another rescue from Feline Friends of Destin. I really need to unfollow/unfriend these people before I truly become The Crazy Cat Lady. We got her around March 1st of this year. She's about a year old and is a lynx point Siamese cat.

A Little About Bean

Sweet Sisters
Bean is, by far, the most affectionate cat I have ever been around. She jumps in your arms for hugs, lays in your lap for naps, puts her paws around your neck and kneads your shoulders/neck while rubbing her face on yours, and happily drools her affection all over the place. She's also the most vocal and mischievous cat I've ever seen. She claws open cabinets and drawers to steal food. She pops open the lid to Bailey's food and goes dog food diving. When you give her a treat, you have to do so with speed and agility or she'll bite your fingers. I mean, she's drawn blood multiple times. At dinner time, she meows at the top of her lungs for her food. I totally understand where the term "CATerwaul" came from now. But, she's playful and likes to chase the other cats and be chased by them. She's truly a unique cat.

In a Nutshell

Showing her attitude
Bean's hobbies are frog hunting and catching, giving neck and shoulder massages, scavenging for unhealthy food, and hiding her evilness behind her utter sweetness. Her favorite toy is her pink striped mouse that came with her from the shelter. You can find her on Instagram at Kitten & Winnie & Bean. Yes, the cats have their own Instagram account and no, I don't manage it.

Cuddling with me

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Get to Know Winnie


Say hello to Winnie. We're not entirely sure how old Winnie is. She was a rescue cat from a local cat rescue, Feline Friends of Destin. We adopted her in October 2013. They estimated she was about six months old so she's approximately 1 year 3 months old. She's a tuxedo cat.

A Little About Winnie

Winnie is super shy but one of the most affectionate cats I've ever known. She loves her family and her feline brother and sister, but is terrified of strangers and only tolerates Bailey's presence. When I was picking out a cat at the rescue, I had first said I was interested in a white and gray cat because he looked super playful. I went into the room with all the free-roaming cats to observe them playing. Winnie jumped on the bench next to me and proceeded to lick my hand. That was it. I was in love and she came home with us.

Out of all of our pets, Winnie is the most energetic and playful. She is always ready for a game of Chase the Feather Toy or Attack the Catnip Toy or Chase with her cat siblings. Winnie is also the most darling of all our cats. She has such sweet and gentle ways about her. She also loves curling up against your side when sleeping at night and cozying up in your lap while loafing on the sofa. She also has a powerful purr which is in evidence quite often.


Winnie was a TNR cat. This means Trap, Neuter, Return. This is a practice that's done to feral cat colonies. Volunteers trap feral cats, have them neutered, vaccinated, and sometimes microchipped, and then returned to their original location. This allows ferals to live out their lives while curbing their need to spray and their ability to add to the problem feral cat population. TNR is something that I support and I actually volunteer for a nonprofit that promotes and raises awareness of TNR. 

In a Nutshell

Chilling with her Brother

Winnie's hobbies are hiding, cat games, licking fingers, and killing her feather toy. Her best friend is the Oldest Child, and she hates having her belly rubbed. You can find her on Instagram at Kitten & Winnie & Bean. Yes, the cats have their own Instagram account and no, I don't manage it.

Stalking from the camouflage of the Oldest Child's pig sty room.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Get to Know Leo


This is Leo. He will be three years old in September and is a tabby. We've often wondered if he has some Maine coon in him somewhere because of how thick his fur is but who knows.

Leo came to us from a woman that the Mister used to work with. She got him from someone else who found him in a parking lot. Or something to that effect. We saved him from going to a shelter. As a kitten, he was quite energetic and rambunctious. He acted more like a puppy than a kitten. That's why we figured he went through so many temporary homes before finding his furrever home with us.

Leo at approx 3 mos old

A Little About Leo

We got Leo when he was approximately three months old. Kittens can sometimes be hard to determine their sex, so we were told he was a girl, which had been verified by a vet. Turns out, not so much. As a result, his name went from Sophie, to Kit-ten, to Leo. I settled on Leo because I always tell him that he's "my lion". He ruffles up his neck fur like a lion's mane sometimes.

I love how distinctive his stripes are. He's beautiful.
Out of all of our cats, Leo is the most cat-like. He loves attention and sitting on your lap for pets and scratches, but only on his terms. If you scratch him "wrong" or try to hug him too tight, he'll give you his backside and leave. He's pretty lazy too. Out of our three cats, he's the least playful. Considering what a terror he was as a kitten, this is a complete evolution in his behavior. He also talks back. The other day, he stole my chair while I was grabbing a drink from the fridge. While I was explaining how this is bad cat behavior, he looked me in the eye, meowed with attitude, then stretched out and made himself more comfortable. I love his cattitude.

In a Nutshell

His hobbies are cat napping, exploring boxes, frog hunting, and window sitting. His favorite color is green (Yes. He has a favorite color.). His best friend is Bailey the dog and he's a mommy's boy. You can find him on Instagram at Kitten & Winnie & Bean. Yes, the cats have their own Instagram account and no, I don't manage it.

Leo and Bailey Napping Together