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Book Review : Speaking From Among the Bones

Title : Speaking From Among the Bones

Author : Alan Bradley

Publisher : Delacorte Press

Publication Date : February 5th, 2013

Pages : 378

Stand Alone or Series : #5 in the Flavia de Luce series

Why I Read : I’ve read all the other books in the series and I love them!

Three Words : mystery, young heroine, English sensibilities

Red Flags : very small amount of violence esp. associated with the murder.

Summary : We find ourselves once again in Bishop’s Lacey with the irrepressible Flavia de Luce. The church is opening the crypt of the town’s patron saint, St. Tancred and the village is a-twitter. Although all the adults are trying to keep Flavia away from the opening, she would not miss this for the world. And of course, all their fears are realized when it is Flavia who discovers upon opening the tomb that it contains the bones of one deceased fellow – not St. Tancred! It is actually the church organist who disappeared several weeks prior. He is found with a strange gas mask attached to his face- very strange indeed. Flavia CANNOT let this stand and decides to find out what has happened and who is responsible. As she delves into the past, she uncovers many secrets including ones to do with her family…..specifically her missing mother!

My Take : Sigh….I just delight in Flavia de Luce. Every time I read one of these books I close the cover, hold the book to my chest and sigh. Part of me just wishes that I was Flavia – she is so mischievous, so intelligent and yet she cares fiercely about her family including her “hated” sisters. The mystery is always interesting and keeps you on your toes. There is always fun scientific tidbits thrown in through Flavia’s interest in chemistry (specifically poisons). One of the best things about these books are the combination of Flavia’s extreme intelligence with the naivete of being a child, she doesn’t always understand the very grown-up things that are happening around her. But in true Flavia manner, she always thinks she understands perfectly. Does is sometimes stretch the imagination that once again, there is a murder in the sleepy village of Bishop’s Lacey? Well of course- but honestly who cares when the writing is this fun?

My Rating : eight and a half shoes – Very very good.


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Book Review : The Dinner

Title : The Dinner The Dinner

Author : Herman Koch

Publisher : Hogarth

Publication Date : February 12th, 2013 (originally published in Dutch in 2009)

Pages : 304

Stand Alone or Series : Stand Alone

Why I Read This book : It was all over the blogosphere and people were calling it the “European Gone Girl” and we all know how much I loved Gone Girl.

Three Words : disturbing, character study, violent

Red Flags : language, violence (this is an adult novel)

Summary (from Goodreads):  An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives — all over the course of one meal.

It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

My Take : So on the surface this book is literally about a dinner. And at first I was bewildered as to how this was going to be like Gone Girl. I mean I like food as much as the next person but I don’t need a 300 page accounting on how you arrived at the restaurant, what you ordered, what everybody was drinking, etc…But much like that book, seemingly trivial details and commonplace occurrences begin to take on sinister overtones. The narrator is completely unreliable and almost unwittingly reveals that he is unreliable through his recounting of past experiences. As you go further and further you realize just how disturbed all of these individuals are! I REALLY enjoyed this book and at the same time disliked it intensely because it made me feel uncomfortable. As a parent I was disturbed immensely by these people and thought about this book for days after finishing it. And honestly, I love that feeling. I love thinking about something I’ve watched or read for days afterwards. There were definitely parts that dragged….especially in the beginning when they were setting up the dinner and ordering the dinner and all of that but in the end I was really excited about this book.

Rating : 9 shoes

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Book Review : Bitterblue

Title : BitterblueBitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

Author : Kristin Cashore

Publisher : Dial

Publication Date : May 1st, 2012

Pages : 563

Stand Alone or Series : #3 in the Graceling Realm series

Three Words : fantasy, mystery, royalty

Red Flags : violence including sexual in nature, psychological trauma, some language…(definitely for older adolescents or young adult)

******WARNING: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for the first and second books of this series  – Graceling and Fire  (click for review). YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!! *******************************************************

Summary : It is eight years after the events in Graceling during which King Leck was finally killed. The country of Monsea is still reeling from thirty-five years of horrific acts of physical, mental and sexual depravity that in some cases they have committed themselves. Queen Bitterblue is attempting to heal her country while still trying to learn what it means to become a queen. Under advice from her council, she has pardoned all crimes committed during Leck’s reign and is attempting to forget everything that happened. However, Bitterblue notices that people are acting strangely (including her main advisers) and that maybe revisiting the past is the only way to heal the pain. She decides to sneak out of the castle at night and in disguise. While out and about, she meets two young thieves who only steal what was previously stolen and return it to their rightful owners. They open her eyes to what is really going on in her country. Will Bitterblue be able to help her country become prosperous and move on from their painful past? Can SHE move past what her father did?

My Take : So if you did read my other two reviews for the books in this series, you know that I LOVE these books. I was so excited about Bitterblue that I rushed to the library to pick up my precious copy. And maybe I was so excited that my expectations were slightly over the top….but Bitterblue did NOT live up to it. ( A tear is dropping from  my eye right now….) I spent much of the first two-thirds of this book in a state of confusion. Yes, people were acting strangely and that was mysterious and all but mostly it just didn’t make ANY sense. Bitterblue was just annoying me because she seemed so flighty and unsure of herself ALL the time. Weird things would happen (that didn’t connect to anything else mind you) and she would be all  ” Woe is me….I just don’t know what to do.” I spent a lot of time feeling like shaking her and saying (in my head) ” WAKE UP! Do something for the love of Christ.” Also, the romance with one of the thieves was not what I would call awesome. I just didn’t really like him all that much (not in the way I loved Brigan from Fire or Po from Graceling). All that being said, the last third of the book finally brought things together and was a satisfying ending to the trilogy. So while I was in a perpetual state of confusion and anxiety for the first part of the book, I ended feeling ok about the whole thing in the end. In the end, I wouldn’t give up reading two FANTASTIC books for a less than awesome ending. This makes the whole rating thing hard…..

My Rating : Seven shoes (I averaged a five for the beginning and a nine for the end )


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Book Review : The Daughter of Time

Title : The Daughter of Time The Daughter of Time

Author : Josephine Tey

Publisher : Touchstone

Publication Date : November 29th, 1995 (first published 1951)

Pages : 206

Stand Alone or Series : #5 in Inspector Alan Grant series (each a separate story)

How obtained: print book from the library

Three Words : mystery, British, historical

Red Flags : none

Summary : Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is laid up in the hospital after the humiliating accident of having fallen through a trap door while chasing a criminal. He is literally bored out of his mind. When a friend brings some historical portraits for him to browse through during his convalescence, he is taken with a portrait of man who seems both full of suffering and thoughtful. When he finds out this is a portrait of Richard III, he is shocked….THIS is the murderer of small children, the evil hunchback of Shakespeare’s play? As he begins to explore the history and with the help of an American researcher finds sources to figure out the mystery, he starts to doubt the historical version of the events surrounding the murders. Together they try to solve this mystery – did Richard really kill the little princes?

My Take : Remember the whole finding Richard III in a parking lot thing? Maybe you were much like me and thought “Well that’s interesting but I’m not sure why I should care…” But THEN I found out that this was the guy who was supposed to have killed two little boys in order to keep the throne of England and it became infinitely more interesting. So when all of this happened, the blogosphere (at least the booky one) was blowing up with mentions of this book. So that is how I happened on this little gem of a book ( at 206 pages, it doesn’t take very long at all). This appeals to me on so many levels – historical, I am a total sucker for anything having to do with English monarchy especially of the Tudor kind (Richard was the last of the Plantagenets subsequently replaced by Henry VII – a Tudor), mystery – I just love a good mystery and this one is real, library research – there’s no going around interviewing persons of interest in this one, it’s all research at the library, digging through primary sources, making deductions based on such. I’m sure I’m not selling this one very well because it probably sounds crazy boring but somehow Tey manages to make this whole thing completely interesting. I really enjoyed this one and it certainly made me think about Richard III more and definitely made me think I should check out more books in this series. My only issue with the book was two things : one (and this is somewhat a criticism for myself) the family history, some of the other English things were a bit confusing to the point where I just gave up understanding it completely and two, it was a little bit TOO one-sided in defense of Richard. It really didn’t allow for any other points of view. Not much to criticize though…

Rating : eight shoes – solid, interesting, mystery.

Interesting side note – in looking into this whole thing online, there is an actual Richard III society that is trying to clear his name still to this day. If you are interested you can find them at http://www.richardiii.net (Maybe I’m the only nerd who likes to research these things online….)


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Book Review : Fire

Title : Fire Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)

Author : Kristin Cashore

Publisher : Dial Books

Publication Date : October 5th, 2009

Pages : 461

Stand Alone or Series : #2 in the Graceling series BUT this is a companion novel rather than a sequel so you could read it without reading the other books.

How obtained : ebook from the library

Three Words : fantasy world, character driven, intrigue

Red Flags : frank depiction of sex, violence and gore, no language

Summary (from Goodreads):  It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men. This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own. Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

My Take : Can I just say that I love Kristin Cashore! I love her so much I want to marry her and have her babies or possibly just lock her up in a basement forcing her to write fantasy novels forevermore ( I’m kidding!) This book was so fantastic, I love, love, loved it. Okay, I’ll stop gushing and actually tell you why I loved it. First, this is NOT a sequel to the Graceling (click for my review) which I also very much enjoyed. That threw me off at first but then I started to enjoy the story so much I didn’t care. Fire is an interesting, flawed character. I enjoyed the concept that she was so beautiful that people were basically bewitched by her monster abilities but that this actually was a problem rather than an asset for her. Her father had these same powers but used them for the most evil depraved things so she is fraught with anxiety that she is going to turn out just like him. Then we meet Prince Brigan, who hates her instantly but also must admit that her powers are useful to the kingdom. He is stubborn and prideful but also kind, interesting, intelligent, and a fierce warrior. This is very much a character study that studies what it means to overcome your past, including having a crazy evil parent. Unlike many other fantasy novels, the romance isn’t necessarily central to the whole story but they actually spend some time on it and make it more than just instant attraction = love. I really cannot say enough about how much I liked this book and I can’t think of one bad thing to say about it.

Rating : 10 SHOES! (It happened again……)

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Book Review : The Last Dragonslayer

Title : The Last Dragonslayer The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

Author : Jasper Fforde

Publisher : Harcourt Children’s Books

Publish Date : October 2nd, 2012

Pages : 296

Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the The Last Dragonslayer Series (however each book is a stand alone story)

How Obtained : from the library

Three Words : witty, fantasy, YA

Red Flags : none really, small amounts of violence – I would recommend for older adolescent but only because many of the jokes, etc.. is intended for a more educated audience.

Summary : Jennifer Strange is a foundling working as an indentured servant for the Kazam Employment agency for magicians where she runs the every day business. Back in the day, magic was strong and magicians were well respected. Nowadays magic is disappearing and magicians are only hired for things like rewiring houses and unclogging drains. Suddenly, magicians everywhere are having visions that the LAST dragon will die at the hands of an unknown dragonslayer. Big Magic is coming and it will mean big changes for Kazam and Jennifer.

My Take : I love Jasper Fforde – every time I read one of his books I feel a little bit smarter. If you aren’t familiar with his writing style it is full of puns, literary references and whimsicality. He really is an author after my own heart- he loves fantasy and he loves books- what could be better. If you ARE familiar with Jasper Fforde, then go out and get this book. You will get your usual dose of interesting and fascinating new world, witty repartee and a somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at the foibles of humans especially bureaucracy. This is a solid fantasy world complete with magicians, war, corporations, kings, a reluctant hero and a stalwart (although somewhat scary) sidekick. I loved Jennifer Strange, she is old beyond her years. She’s seen it all at Kazam and can be a little blase. Even though she has plenty of reason to want to better her situation she won’t do at the expense of anyone or anything. She does what is right. Plus she drives a Volkswagen Bug. It’s one of those books where you keep wondering “how is the hero going to get out this??” but when the ending does come you are like “Oh of course, how silly of me….” I highly recommend this book and if you haven’t had a chance – please go out and read Fforde’s awesome book The Eyre Affair. It is wonderful beyond words (plus it has Jane Eyre in it and we all know how much I love that book.)

Rating : Nine Shoes – Practically perfect.



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Book Review : The Runaway King

Title : The Runaway King

Author : Jennifer A. Nielsen The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy, #2)

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Date Published : March 1st, 2013

Pages : 352

Stand Alone or Series : #2 in the Ascendance Trilogy

How Obtained : e-ARC courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

Three Words : adventurous, exciting, coming-of-age

Red Flags : none (appropriate for young to older adolescents)

***************WARNING!!!!!! This review contains unavoidable spoilers for the first book – The False Prince (click for my review). You have been warned!!



Summary : When last we saw Sage, he had just revealed that he was in fact the actual missing Prince Jaron, living in disguise and estrangement from his family. He has now divulged the secret to the kingdom and plans to take his rightful place on the throne. But it is never that simple, is it? First, there is an assassination attempt within the castle walls. It becomes abundantly clear that rumors of a neighboring country (one that is in allegiance with the PIRATES) getting ready for war may be more than rumors. Their country is woefully underprepared for war leaving Jaron with many hard decisions.  And now, Jaron’s council of regents don’t seem to believe that he is fit to be the king. What is the young king to do?? Jaron concocts a daring plan to rescue his kingdom that involves fleeing in disguise, joining the pirates and besting their king….easy, right??

My Take : Yeah!! I loved the False Prince so much so when I saw that this was available on NetGalley I jumped at the chance to read it before it was published. I am so glad that I did. What a fun and wonderful addition to the series!! First of all, the story was action-packed and full of adventure. Jaron is always getting into scrapes that he seemingly has no way out of but somehow he always manages to come out on top. Which brings me to the next thing that I loved about this book – Jaron!! I defy you to read this book and not fall a little bit in love with this reckless, daring, bold, adventurous, stubborn, intelligent, cunning man-child. We all know that I love a bad boy (with a heart of gold of course). He often does things that seem crazy and selfish and ridiculous but somehow it all turns out right in the end and that’s kinda the point, right? My only real issue with this book was the ending seemed a little bit too unrealistic….I won’t spoil it for you but it stretches the bounds of imagination. But honestly, the book is so much fun I find myself not caring that much….I honestly could not put it down. Great sequel and I can’t wait to read #3.

My Rating : eight and a half shoes – half shoe deduction for somewhat unrealistic ending.

Love ya,





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Book Review : Dead Time

Title : Dead Time

Author : Anne CassidyDead Time (The Murder Notebooks, #1)

Publisher : Walker & Company

Publish Date : May 22nd, 2012

Pages : 344

Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the Murder Notebooks Series

How Obtained : from the library

Three Words : mystery, YA, thriller

Summary : Five years ago, Rose’s mother and stepfather went out to dinner and never returned. Since that time, Rose has been either at boarding school or living with her strict, somewhat uptight grandmother in London. While trying to deal with the fact that her mom is GONE, she has also been unable to forget about the stepbrother that she lived with briefly – Joshua. On the night they decide to meet up again, Rose witnesses one of her classmates being murdered. She is completely shaken by the experience and meeting with Joshua only brings to the forefront, her desire to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. Then she witnesses ANOTHER classmate getting murdered and she is determined to solve this mystery as well. When she and Joshua start investigating they realize that all of these things may be connected to their parents.  Is there a conspiracy? Who is committing these heinous murders?

My Take : I enjoyed this book – sort of. It was fast-paced and exciting. I was interested in the mystery and I couldn’t figure out who had done it till the end. I liked Rose. Many people criticized her for being a recluse and somewhat prickly in manner but I thought it fit in well with the character. She lost her mother and the man she looked to as a father figure, then she is torn away from the step-brother that she got attached to. That sort of thing has a tendency to make you not want to trust people.  However, I had a couple of issues with the book. There were a couple of times that my head said something to the effect of “Huh??” Occasionally she made choices that made me want to scream at the book ” CALL THE POLICE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” The whole witnessing two murders thing without being able to tell who did it was somewhat crazy but ok – I’m able to suspend disbelief somewhat. My big issue with the book was the other “main” character – Joshua. I didn’t really like him all that much and not only that but I didn’t believe his character either. He was extremely nice and caring but then doesn’t want to include her in some things but then when she is upset gets even more upset with her and then back to being nice again. Who is like that? I’m all for conflicted characters but you have to give him some more personality then just swinging wildly from nice to upset. Then, despite having lived together (albeit briefly) as brother and sister, towards the end of the book they try to throw in this whole romance thing with Joshua. For me, it just didn’t work. It felt very forced and added on ( I have this image of an old, fat publisher with a cigar behind a desk yelling at the author “we gotta have a romance- the kids these days like romance” which I’m sure is how it really goes based on TV and movies).  I’m interested enough to want to read the upcoming books and find out what the heck happened to her parents – I’m just maybe not desperately waiting.

My Rating : Six Shoes

Anyone else read this book?? Any thoughts?

I sincerely appreciate every single comment AND will answer every single one of them.



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Book Review : Nightshifted

Title : Nightshifted Nightshifted (Edie Spence, #1)

Author : Cassie Alexander

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publish Date : May 22nd, 2012

Pages : 331

How Obtained : from the library

Stand Alone or Series : #1 in the Edie Spence series (looks like three are published, four are planned- possibly more?)

Three Words : comedy, paranormal, romance

Red Flags : sexual situations, violence and gore, language and drugs (NSFC)

Summary (from Goodreads) : Nursing school prepared Edie Spence for a lot of things. Burn victims? No problem. Severed limbs? Piece of cake. Vampires? No way in hell. But as the newest nurse on Y4, the secret ward hidden in the bowels of County Hospital, Edie has her hands full with every paranormal patient you can imagine—from vamps and were-things to zombies and beyond…

Edie’s just trying to learn the ropes so she can get through her latest shift unscathed.  But when a vampire servant turns to dust under her watch, all hell breaks loose. Now she’s haunted by the man’s dying words—Save Anna—and before she knows it, she’s on a mission to rescue some poor girl from the undead. Which involves crashing a vampire den, falling for a zombie, and fighting for her soul. Grey’s Anatomy was never like this…

My Take : This was one of those books that were on my loooooooong list of TBR books from around Halloween. I got it from the library and it sat in my bag for a couple of months. One day I picked it up and I am so glad that I did. It really reminded me of the Sookie Stackhouse novels which I love….just set in a hospital with a nurse instead of adorable waitress in small town. Edie is a fun heroine. She is very sassy, in control of herself, not afraid to have a one night stand (and not ashamed). She is a very knowledgeable and competent nurse (I like it when women are good at what they do in books.) She is also brave and more importantly sarcastically funny. (Another thing I like in women characters as I like to dwell in the land of Sarcastia). The story is also much like the Sookie Stackhouse novels with lots of interesting intrigue dealing with paranormal creatures and their crazy rules about killing people and dealing with each other. There is plenty of steamy sex plus enough romance to make you smile a little bit when you read it (does anybody else do this??). All in all, this is a fun book. Did it knock my socks off? Well no… but not every book has to. And if you occasionally wonder what the hell she is doing then you wouldn’t be the only one.

My Rating : Seven shoes – Fun but not earth-shattering.

I don’t know if I have mentioned this before but all the cover pictures that I get are from Goodreads. If you click on the picture it will take you directly to the Goodreads page for the book.





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Guest Post by Sasha! Book Review : Midnight On the Moon

Hello Dear Readers! Today we have a guest post from my daughter Sasha. She is ALMOST seven years old and just like her mom she loves reading! I suggested that maybe she would like to do a review on the Bookinista. She was so excited about it – it was beyond adorable. Anyway, I went ahead and typed her review for her (word for word). I think she did a pretty good job for her first endeavor. Thanks Sasha!!

Title : Midnight on the Moon

Author : Mary Pope Osborne Midnight On The Moon (Magic Tree House, #8)

Publisher : Random House Books for Young Children

Publish Date : June 15th, 2010

Pages : 80

Stand Alone or Series : #8 in the Magic Tree House series

Red Flags : none

Summary (from Sasha): Jack and Annie are brother and sister. They go to a magic tree house in the woods belonging to Morgan. Morgan is a ghost librarian. In this book, Jack and Annie go to the moon. They are trying to find four things that will save Morgan and the last thing is on the moon. Will they be able to do it??

(from Goodreads) Jack and Annie are ready for their next fantasy adventure in the bestselling middle-grade series—the Magic Tree House!

Three . . . two . . . one . . . BLAST OFF!

The Magic Tree House whisks Jack and Annie off to the moon—and the future. Their mission? To find the last “M” thing that will free Morgan from the spell. Can they do it before the air in their oxygen tank runs out? Will the mysterious moon man help them? And why is Peanut the mouse acting so strange?

Sasha’s Take  : I thought that it is a cool book. Also, they tell you stuff about the moon like the moon has no rain or wind so footprints will not go away naturally. They just stay there. I liked how they wrote it like it was in a notebook because Jack was writing it in a notebook. I think other people should read it because it is adventure stories and I like adventure stories.

Sasha’s Rating : Eight shoes

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